Monday, February 17, 2014

White House sued for covering up crimes of JPMorgan

Better Markets, a non-profit Wall Street watchdog, filed a lawsuit Monday against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that its $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase over the bank’s sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis was an illegal cover-up.
Better Markets said the deal, worked out in November 2013, “gave JP Morgan Chase… blanket civil immunity for years of alleged pervasive, egregious and knowing fraudulent and illegal conduct that contributed to the 2008 financial crash and the worst economy since the Great Depression.”
The lawsuit argues that the Department of Justice sought to use the deal—the largest settlement with a single entity in US history (by more than 300 percent)—to protect JPMorgan and its executives from prosecution. Under the terms of the settlement, the bank was not required to admit to any wrongdoing.
Better Markets alleges that, “the DOJ violated the Constitution and laws of the United States by using a mere contractual agreement to resolve claims of historic importance without subjecting the Agreement to independent judicial review.”
In November, the Obama administration and JPMorgan concluded a series of confidential, off-the-record, negotiations—including discussions between JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Attorney General Eric Holder—with the announcement that the bank would pay $13 billion to settle charges that it knowingly sold worthless mortgage-backed securities on false pretences.
In reality, JPMorgan will pay much less than the stated amount. Only $9 billion of the total is in cash, the rest taking the form of relief to homeowners behind on their payments. It is likely that the bank was already planning to offer much of this $4 billion in relief for business reasons.
Most of the remaining $9 billion will be tax-deductible, meaning the bank will end up paying only part of it. JPMorgan’s fine amounts to a sliver of the trillions of dollars of damage wrought by the global financial crisis and only a fraction of its annual profit.
The complaint alleges that the Obama administration illegally sought to bypass judicial review to ensure a favorable deal for the bank. It states: “[T]he executive branch, through DOJ, acted as investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury, sentencer and collector, without any review or approval of its unilateral and largely secret actions.” It continues: “The Executive Branch simply does not have the unilateral power or authority to do so by entering a mere contract with the private entity without any constitutional checks and balances.”
At a press conference, Dennis Kelleher, head of Better Markets, said, “The Justice Department has a self-interest, if not a motive, for making sure that their conduct cannot be independently evaluated.”
Attorney General Holder previously worked for Covington & Burling, a Washington law firm that represented top banks responsible for the 2008 financial crash. He made a point of meeting one-on-one with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Better Markets notes that only “a few years ago” Dimon was “considered a possible Treasury secretary.”
During Obama’s first term, Dimon was a frequent guest at the White House. He was known in Washington as Obama’s “favorite banker.” When Dimon was caught concealing billions of dollars in derivatives losses in 2012, Obama rushed to his defense, calling him “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got.”
Better Markets notes that the deal was worked out entirely at the discretion of JPMorgan. The “cellphone of DOJ’s third-highest ranking official rang with the ‘familiar’ phone number of [Dimon], who called to offer billions of dollars [in fines] to stop DOJ from holding a press conference and filing a lawsuit in just a few hours.” Dimon’s offer was taken and the press conference was called off.
Better Markets accuses the Justice Department of being excessively “vague” in order to avoid any question of culpability. The DOJ, it charges, “did not disclose the identity of a single JPMorgan Chase executive, officer or employee, no matter how involved in or responsible for the illegal conduct.”
The complaint asks many important questions: “How much did JPMorgan Chase’s clients, customers… and others lose as a result of its fraudulent conduct?… How much revenue, profits, and other benefits did JPMorgan Chase receive?… Who received what amount of bonuses for the illegal conduct?”
The complaint asks, “Why did the contract fail to impose on JPMorgan Chase any obligation to change any of its business compliance practices… how can the sanctions effectively punish and deter JPMorgan Chase, given its wealth and its extensive history of lawless conduct?”
The criminal activities of JPMorgan are not the exception on Wall Street, but the rule. In 2011, Senator Carl Levin, chairman on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, oversaw a 630-page report on the financial crash detailing illegal activities by Washington Mutual, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs that contributed to the global crisis. He said the investigation had uncovered “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”
Over the past year, JPMorgan has agreed to pay over $20 billion in settlements to cover a dizzying array of charges. Less than a month ago, the bank agreed to pay $2.05 billion in fines and penalties to settle charges that it was an accomplice in the multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme operated by Bernie Madoff, who is currently serving a 150-year prison term.
All of the government’s settlements with JPMorgan are designed to create the appearance of oversight, while allowing the bank to continue the same practices that led to the 2008 crash. Dimon just received a 74 percent pay raise for 2013, bringing his total compensation to $20 million.
Gabriel Black is a writer for WSWS.

Obama signs increase in U.S. debt ceiling

President Barack Obama signed legislation on Saturday that raises the U.S. debt limit through March 2015, taking the politically volatile issue off the table with congressional elections coming up this November.
Without an increase in the statutory debt limit, the U.S. government would have soon defaulted on some of its obligations and would have had to shut down some programs, an historic event that would have caused severe market turmoil.
On a long holiday weekend in a desert resort area in southern California, Obama put his signature on the legislation without fanfare, while behind closed doors at the Sunnylands retreat.
Source and full story: Reuters, 15 February 2014

Portugal Tempted by Clean Bailout Exit After Rally

Portugal may be tempted to follow Ireland in exiting its bailout without asking European partners for a precautionary program after a bond rally let the nation already start to raise funds for 2015.
“The good strategy is to aim, like Ireland, for a clean bailout exit,” said Diogo Teixeira, chief executive officer of Optimize Investment Partners, a Lisbon-based firm that manages 80 million euros ($110 million) in assets including Portuguese government debt. “This implies that Portugal needs to build, like Ireland, a sufficient cushion of cash in order to avoid any short-term stress in the market.”
Portugal is trying to regain full access to debt markets with the end of its 78 billion-euro rescue program from the European Union and International Monetary Fund approaching on May 17. It has raised 6.25 billion euros selling bonds through banks so far this year as signs of economic recovery spurred a rally in higher-yielding European fixed-income assets.
Source and full story: Bloomberg, 14 February 2014

Will Yellen Allow a Large Stock Market Correction?

In this podcast, Wall St for Main St discussed what investors and Main Street should expect from Yellen in the long term, if the Federal Reserve will allow a large correction in the stock market to take place, the Japanese Yen and the economic contraction in the emerging market.
Please visit the main Wall St for Main St website here: 
Follow Jason Burack on Twitter @JasonEBurack
Follow Mo Dawoud on Twitter @m0dawoud
Follow John Manfreda on Twitter @JohnManfreda
Follow Wall St for Main St on Twitter @WallStforMainSt

Peter Schiff: Fed Will Reverse Tapering and Up QE

US Congress lifts federal debt ceiling

The congressional votes this week to suspend the federal debt ceiling until March 2015 are a further demonstration that it is Wall Street, not ultra-right Tea Party elements, that calls the shots in Washington.
The debt ceiling increase passed the House of Representatives Tuesday night and the US Senate on Wednesday afternoon, with Tea Party-aligned Republican senators and congressmen howling their opposition but doing nothing to actually block the measure.
Corporate America—in the person of the Chamber of Commerce and the major banks and brokerage houses—was unanimous in demanding that Congress raise the debt ceiling and authorize continued Treasury payment of interest and principal on US government bonds.
The debt ceiling was reset February 7 after the temporary extension approved last October expired. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned that due to payment of tax refunds and other seasonal outlays, the federal government would exhaust its cash resources before the end of the month.
The major financial interests sought to insure there was no repetition of the partial federal shutdown of last October or threat of default on the federal debt. The deteriorating conditions in financial markets, including a sharp fall in the stock market last week and early this week, and the rapid flow of capital out of “emerging markets” such as Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia, made Wall Street particularly wary of any financial shocks.
As a consequence, both House and Senate Republican leaders broke ostentatiously with their Tea Party factions, supplying just enough votes to enable the Democratic minority in the House to push through the debt ceiling increase and the Democratic majority in the Senate to top the 60-vote threshold required to halt debate and force a vote.
At a Monday meeting of the House Republican caucus, Speaker John Boehner announced that there was no way to get the 218 votes required for passage of a debt ceiling increase tied to any specific policy measure, such as a restoration of cuts in military pensions or changes in Obamacare.
Nearly all 200 Democrats were committed to a “clean” debt ceiling bill–one with no policy measures attached–as demanded by the White House. Several dozen Republicans were committed to opposing any increase in the debt ceiling, no matter what policy measures were attached as a “sweetener.”
Boehner was compelled to drop his insistence that only bills with majority support from the Republican caucus would be brought to the floor of the House for a vote, allowing the debt ceiling to pass by 221 to 201, with near-unanimous Democratic support and the votes of 28 of the 233 Republicans.
The 28 Republicans included Boehner himself and the bulk of the party leadership in the House, as well as a group of more senior Republicans who have announced plans to retire and hence will not be facing challenges in the 2014 primaries or the general election.
The climb-down by the House Republican leadership and setback for the Tea Party faction were widely noted. McClatchy News Service headlined its report, “Tea Party loses as House approves debt ceiling increase without condition.”
The subsequent Senate vote to approve the suspension of the debt ceiling was equally revealing of the crisis in the Republican Party. Over the objections of the Senate Republican leadership, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a Tea Party-aligned right-winger, formally objected to passage of the resolution, forcing a vote to cut off debate.
Since such a vote, called “cloture” in Senate parlance, requires 60 votes out of the 100 members of the Senate, the Democratic majority of 55 could not close debate on its own. Cruz’s parliamentary maneuver thus had the effect of forcing a section of the Republican caucus to join with the Democrats to close debate, or else the debt ceiling measure would have failed.
The vote-counting on the Senate floor stretched out for an hour, well beyond the 15 minutes normally allowed, as those Republicans prepared to vote for cloture met with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his deputy, John Cornyn, demanding that they join the vote to end debate in order to provide them political cover.
In the end, McConnell, Cornyn and 10 other Republican senators joined with the Democrats to impose cloture by a 67-31 vote. The actual debt ceiling measure passed by a 55-43 vote, with all Democrats voting for it and all Republicans opposing it.
Cruz’s own opposition to the measure was half-hearted. He declined to actually conduct a filibuster, as he had, with enormous media publicity, last fall during the previous showdown over the debt ceiling.
After the passage of the debt ceiling bill, spokesmen for various ultra-right and Tea Party groups denounced Boehner, McConnell and other Republicans who had voted for the bill. But Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a corporate-backed lobby for lower taxes on business and the wealthy, pointed to the fact that the bill followed a bipartisan budget deal that maintained the “sequester” spending cuts and left tax rates unchanged.
Since its inception in 2009-2010, the Tea Party has been portrayed by the media and the political establishment as a powerful movement with wide popular support. In reality, it represented the intervention in US politics of a handful of billionaires, most notably Charles and Edward Koch, to finance a campaign to mobilize sections of the upper-middle class and push the US two-party system further to the right.
They were able to exploit fears over the reactionary character of the Obama health care “reform” program and widespread political confusion—best encapsulated by signs at Tea Party rallies declaring, “Get your government hands off my Medicare.”
But the Tea Party elements never enjoyed wide political support either in the working class or middle class for the ultra-right policies promoted by the Koch brothers and their retinue of paid propagandists.
Under conditions of deepening financial crisis, the most powerful sections of the US ruling elite have now stepped in, brushing aside the Tea Party demagogues and insisting that the interests of Wall Street be served.
This demonstrates not only the phony character of this supposed “grassroots” movement and the massively manipulated character of American politics, but also the 100 percent alignment of the Obama administration with the needs and interests of big business.
Patrick Martin is a writer for WSWS.

Obama’s New Clean Coal Rules Will Increase Energy Costs By 70%-80%

Dr. Julio Friedmann, the deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the Department of Energy, told House lawmakers that the first generation of carbon capture and storage technology would increase wholesale electricity prices by “70 or 80 percent.”

Americans Have Lost Hope As The Economic Collapse Accelerates

Cyprus has now back tracked on the capital controls, they now have pushed the removal of capital controls to 2 weeks to 1 year. Europe’s economy is not growing and is the worst since 2009. Industrial production crashed and the FED is blaming it on the weather. Foreclosures are up and financial institutions are secretly going back to sub prime investments. The US participation rate is at a 35 year low and getting worse. The American people do not believe the economy is getting better and they believe they will never be able to have the American dream. Banks are shutting down for a drill this weekend, this could be a potential false flag.

And it's gone (original)

Predator Banks Enter Brave New World of Epic Scams and Public Hasn’t Got a Clue

Wall Street is using loopholes in financial legislation to seize control of entire industrial chains.

Wall Street watchers have been concerned for some time about the monopolizing trend among big banks. One of the most alarming developments in recent years is a buying spree in which megabanks have been gobbling up physical assets.
Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has delved into this story in his characteristically colorful way, shining a light on how this particular activity took off, namely through an overlooked provision in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. This arcane-sounding piece of Clinton-era legislation ranks high on the list of Very Bad Ideas coming out of Washington since the 1980s. It essentially overturned Depression-era regulations that had kept the banking sector under control and opened the door for commercial banks, investment banks and insurance companies to merge their businesses.
The fine print of the bill also allowed commercial banks to dive into any activity that is “complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally.”
So what exactly classifies as “complementary” to financial activity? When the idea came up in Congress in 1999, JPMorgan’s Michael Patterson said it was something like American Express owning a lifestyle magazine that complemented its business. No biggie.
But in reality, it has meant pretty much everything. Like, for example, oil tankers and raw materials. The result is something the public never signed off on — banks getting their mitts on entire supply chains and industrial processes. Taibbi explains how this is going down:
“Today, banks like Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own oil tankers, run airports and control huge quantities of coal, natural gas, heating oil, electric power and precious metals. They likewise can now be found exerting direct control over the supply of a whole galaxy of raw materials crucial to world industry and to society in general, including everything from food products to metals like zinc, copper, tin, nickel and, most infamously thanks to a recent high-profile scandal, aluminum.”
Recently, something rotten occurred in Denmark, as Goldman Sachs launched its bid to buy a 19 percent stake in the national electricity provider, a deal that would give it control of key management decisions. The streets erupted in protest as Danes (some carrying images of vampire squids) raged at the idea that government ministers could have invited an American investment bank to exert so much control over the state energy grid. The deal actually set off acrisis in the Danish government.
In California, citizens found out recently that big banks have been rigging prices in the physical business interests they own. JPMorgan Chase and Barclays are accused of manipulating the delivery of electricity in California and elsewhere. Last year, JPMorgan paid $410 million to settle allegations of power market manipulation in California to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Goldman Sachs, for its part, has come under scrutiny for allegedly delaying the delivery of metals from warehouses it owned so that it could manipulate prices (it has sinceoffered to speed delivery).
Banks not only own the supply chains, they also place bets on their activity in financial markets, such as buying commodities futures. The whole thing is a recipe for corruption and conflicts of interest. Regulators, who have doing precious little about the money laundering, bribery and other scams we already know about, have been slow to address these new problems, the scope of which may be very frightening indeed.
The financial crisis taught us that big banks have turned into dangerous companies that are not only too big to fail, but, as Attorney General Eric Holder openly admitted, too big to police. Their reach continues to extend into more areas of the economy, with little public debate. President Obama has surrounded himself with economic advisors who are not inclined to rein in the banks; some of the banks even participated in the dismantling of the laws that once protected American citizens from their predation.
A lot will depend on the ability of the regulators to adapt to the changes occurring in the banking industry. Wall Street is under pressure to get rid of some commodities assets amid growing awareness of their ability to muck around with the availability of supplies and prices. The Federal Reserve is moving toward tighter restrictions on bank roles in physical commodity markets, and has issued a request for public input on the matter.
Wall Street’s push into the physical commodities markets is a brave new world of financial risk, which will be assumed, as always, by you and me. Now we can add the fear of a catastrophic pipeline explosion to the list of events that might trigger another meltdown the taxpayers will end up paying for.
Meanwhile, you can bet Wall Street is looking for the next loophole.
Lynn Parramore is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

U.S. Industrial Output Slid 0.3% in Icy January

The Wall Street Journal
The nation’s industrial output is the latest economic measure to skid off course this winter.
Unusually cold weather in January chilled factories’ output and froze up some mining operations, but boosted utility consumption as Americans huddled for warmth. Total industrial production fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in January, the Federal Reserve said Friday. It was the first decline for the reading since July.
The unexpected drop was “partly because of the severe weather that curtailed production in some regions of the country,” the central bank said. Manufacturing output, the largest component of industrial production, fell 0.8% in January.
Read more

The Beginning of Two Ugly Eras | Andy Hoffman

The Great Isolation of the 1%

Chronic racial and gender imbalances amongst the super-rich only add to their detachment from the world around them.

Due to a spate of bizarre rants from members of the 1 percent over the past two weeks, it would be easy to conclude that America’s super-rich have gone off the rails. A well-known billionaire Tom Perkins recently compared the plight of America’s economic elite to that of Jews in Nazi Germany. Fellow billionaire, Sam Zell, rushed to his side and declared the fascist comparison “right.” If these bizarre statements were merely the strange musings of lone, eccentric rich people, no one would care. But the problem is that what the ultra-wealthy think has a disproportionate influence over our political system and their economic values have dominated American economic policy for the last three decades. The disturbing truth is that these comments help to give insight as to why economic inequality is hardening and resistant to change.
Chronic racial and gender imbalances amongst the super-rich only add to their detachment from the world around them. Despite the glitter and visibility of black and Latino celebrities, black and Latino wealth is the lowest on record. The annual list of America’s richest four-hundred people, generated by Forbes, highlights alarming realities.
Even though they make up half of the U.S. population, only 48 women are on the list. Only one Latino, Jorge Perez, and one African-American, Oprah Winfrey, are on it as well. The list indicates an even starker truth. Even in rapidly diversifying present-day America, close to 100 percent of America’s wealthiest households are white; 96 percent to be exact. These whopping wealth inequities underscore that the super wealthy occupy a world apart from the rest of us, one that is growing more distant.
Reinforced by political access, national economic policy, and their own echo chamber of social networks and media outlets, their world has an outsized influence on and negative consequences for the reality lived by everyone else.
Wealth and its discontents
The latest glimpse into the Oz-like mind of the superrich erupted when Perkins fired off a screed to The Wall Street Journal on January 25. His letter to the editor was sparked by anger at San Francisco’s anti-gentrification protests centered on Google’s private bus network used to ferry employees to the company’s campus 35 miles away. In his note Perkins railed against “progressive radicalism,” and declared that there were “parallels” between Hitler’s Germany and “the progressive war on the American 1 percent, namely the ‘rich.’” Even though Perkins gave a partial apology for some of his words days later, the damage was done. In response to his screed, Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman penned an op-ed titled, “Paranoia of the Plutocrats.”
The problem with Perkins’ paranoia is that he is not alone in it. Despite the fact that the top 1 percent has captured nine out of 10 dollars of all the wealth added to the economy since 2000, there is a pervasive sense that they are the ones facing persecution and denigration. As wealth therapist Jamie Trager-Muney told Politico, “I think that with Occupy Wall Street there was a sense of the heat getting turned up and a feeling of vilification and potential danger.” But as Krugman points out the real danger in America is poverty and inequality. There is “strong evidence that high inequality leads to worse health and higher mortality,” he writes. Being poor, rather than being rich, is what kills.
Regardless of the facts, the issue is that what the rich actually believe about themselves and about everyone else has an excessive impact on American society. As was laid out in a reportlast year by the think tank Demos, wealthy individuals are far more likely vote and contribute to political campaigns. Those making over $150,000 showed up at the polls nearly twice the rate as those making less than $20,000. In 2012, just 41,000 Americans — out of a total population of 310 million — gave $2,600 or more to presidential campaigns that year. But these contributions made up nearly one out of four dollars raised that year meaning that these individuals’ impact on presidential fundraising was 2,500 times greater than their actual percentage of the population.
Given that there is a sense amongst the wealthy that they are America’s losers, it makes perfect sense that they would use their disproportionate political power to steer greater assistance their way. According to research by the Russell Sage Foundation, the wealthy aretwice as less likely[PDF] to support a minimum wage that guarantees income above the official poverty line and almost four times less likely to support to the Earned Income Tax Credit which helps keep 10 million people out of poverty; half of them children. But they are more likely to support “a society where the government does nothing except provide national defense and police protection, so that people would be left alone to earn whatever they could.”
And as I have written before, since 1980, they have done just that by championing, achieving and reinforcing an economic system that taxes wealth from investments at a far lower rate than work. This reverse subsidy is then paid for by the rest of us through a rollback in government spending on economic opportunity programs and by loading up on debt charged to the national credit card. The 1 percent’s aggressive paranoia coupled with their outsized political influence has created a situation where working Americans actually underwrite their success, yet have nothing to show for it but 40 years of falling wages and increasing scorn.
But all of this leads to the question of why the perceive the world so differently than the rest of us.
Imagined realities
One contributing factor is that the massive accumulation of wealth can rewire the brain. In an article on “the money-empathy gap” New York magazine contributing editor Lisa Miller puts it this way: “Living high on the socioeconomic ladder can, colloquially speaking, dehumanize people. It can make them less ethical, more selfish, more insular and less compassionate than other people.” Wealth psychology researcher Paul Piff breaks it down even further, “The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people.” The bottom line is that can contribute to pathologies and anti-social behavior.
But, as I have laid out before, another reason that the rich can see themselves apart is that they live in society which champions their very elevation. Culturally, as former Reuters editor Chrystia Freedland has written, we see wildly successful business people as “heroes.” Despite the fact that half of Americans are struggling to get by, the truth is that we still revere aspirational wealth culture as if it were before the crash, even though the values of hyper-wealth can be contrary to those necessary for a broad-based prosperity that gives everyone a shot. In fact, whole networks are built off of the concept of living gilded lives, like the cable network Bravo, and transformation from poverty to the world of multimillionaires is at the core of the number one reality show in the history of television, A&E’s controversial “Duck Dynasty.”
Additionally the super rich have their own dedicated channel, CNBC — like Fox News for conservatives — to reinforce it all. Ostensibly a financial news channel focused on the world’s stock markets, CNBC is a daily parade of the 1 percent and the values they hold dear. In what might be a surprise to non-viewers, the network dedicates all three hours of primetime on Wednesdays to a show called the “Secret Lives of the Super Rich” where the 1 percent can learn everything from which firms specialize in super-rich security, to which luxury watch brands require an application to purchase them, to how hide luxury cars in secret uber-secure facilities away from everyone else.
The channel, through its correspondent Rick Santelli, actually gave the Tea Party movement its name and on the day that he did so created what a fellow anchor described as “mob rule” on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade in order stirother “capitalists” to his cause. CNBC personality, Larry Kudrow, opens his evening show with the mantra “We believe that free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity.” While the perennially irascible Joe Kernan opens the morning program “Squawk Box” with tirades against anyone who doesn’t seem completely down with the 1 percent. He once referred to Paul Krugman as a communist and to those dedicated to bio-diversity as “enviro-socialists.”
In this alternative universe where wealth is first, it’s no wonder that MSNBC hosts, such as Melissa Harris Perry, are reprimanded or even punished for their on-air transgressions while their colleagues at sister network CNBC continue unbowed and unabated. But then again, they have two different audiences: one rich, the other not.
Indeed, rather than feel paranoid, Perkins and his colleagues should feel right at home. That’s because they’ve successfully constructed a society that defers, supports and caters to those that have the most even as they pathologically convince themselves otherwise.
Of course there are the extremely wealthy who are committed to social and economic justice. George Soros, Bills Gates and Katrina vanden Heuvel all spring to mind. But the fact that they and others like them are standouts — rather than the rule — underscore the broader point here.
The only way that any of this turns around is if Americans take measures to remove money from politics. That’s the good thing about living in a democracy rather than an actual fascist dictatorship: average citizens have the ability to bring about real change.
Imara Jones is a writer for

Get Your Money OUT! EU Document Reveals BAIL-IN Plan!

Peter Schiff: "I think we're in a depression"