“Half of the US got nothing”

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 5:12 pm by George Smith

Of the handful of people I know face to face the majority haven’t done particularly well over the last few decades. A smaller number have done OK. They have not exceeded their parents.

But we’re all educated and to my knowledge the majority vote among us was for the famous career civil servant sandbag of the wealthy class. Here I’ve called it the 40 year national slump.

It’s been the experience for my friends. There was never a time when things were getting better unless you consider slight variances in the rate of decline being the equivalent of up.

There’s been the experience of precarious work or no jobs at all. Micro-contract work. Piece work. Free-lance labor with every year a reduction in rates. Layoffs as various industries consolidated. Diminishing opportunities, uncertain futures and certainly no real increases in purchasing power except for a select few. For years, no health insurance or the kind of policy that’s just a rip-off, coverage only for things virtually guaranteed to be bankrupting and terminal.

Want to see my SNAP card?

“Half of the US got nothing” in the last 30 years was the intro to an explosive piece on the NYT homepage last week. That’s 117 milion people. Even the cheerleaders for the plutocracy couldn’t candy coat although they did try.

So why did a tidal wave of “screw you” win the White House for Trump? You figure it out.

The US is now unstable. And it is definitely not a democracy. You could say we’ve had it coming. There’s certainly an argument for it. I prefer to think of it as a bill for mistakes, miscarriages and manipulations in leadership and their role in setting the rules of the economy. The social cost is of epic proportion.

The NYT:

Even with all the setbacks from recessions, burst bubbles and vanishing industries, the United States has still pumped out breathtaking riches over the last three and half decades.

The real economy more than doubled in size; the government now uses a substantial share of that bounty to hand over as much as $5 trillion to help working families, older people, disabled and unemployed people pay for a home, visit a doctor and put their children through school.

Yet for half of all Americans, their share of the total economic pie has shrunk significantly, new research has found.

This group — the approximately 117 million adults stuck on the lower half of the income ladder — “has been completely shut off from economic growth since the 1970s,” the team of economists found. “Even after taxes and transfers, there has been close to zero growth for working-age adults in the bottom 50 percent.”

There was one cheerleader for the system trying to strain lemonade from an ocean of urine: N. Greg Mankiw. In the interest of balance, I’d call him the rich man’s economist.

“As troubling as some may find inequality, it is not necessarily the fault of a rigged system, said N. Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard … ” reads the Times.

“Inequality is a symptom of a variety of things,” Mankiw told the newspaper.

So well said.

Mankiw was briefly a subject of a talk given by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America,” mentioned here a month or so ago:

Ehrenreich: “A certain cleaning staff would go through the garbage to find the Chinese food containers left behind by Harvard students that still contained sme food in them because you could take them home to your kids … whoah. Meanwhile, at the other end at Harvard you had a guy named Greg Mankiw, who was an economics professor, who made it his mission to point out why low wage people couldn’t have higher wages. It would destroy the economy, pure and simple.

“I always debated him on the radio. And in the years since 2002, traveling around the country talking about these issues on different college campuses I began to get the impression the whole purpose of economics departments was to teach kids that whatever is going on in the economic status quo is perfect and how it has to be, so shut up.

“Some fresh guy [would] stand up, ‘Well, we learned in economics, you can’t raise wages.” But [you] can make $100,000 or whatever.

“I began to get really impatient and even, in some places, to go so far as to say, ‘What the hell do they teach at this university?’ Because if they taught math you could figure out that on six dollars/hour you’re not going to live anywhere in the environs of Cambridge, Mass., or any property of any other major university. That’s simple.”

“[Less educated] white voters had a solid economic rationale for voting against the status quo — nearly all the gains from the economic recovery have passed them by,” reads the Times in a related piece.

“There are almost nine million more jobs than there were at the previous peak in November 2007, just before the economy tumbled into recession. But the gains have not been evenly distributed.”

It’s a continuing piece of received wisdom, courtesy of the swells. It was just the “less educated.” If you were educated, you did well.

No, it was many of the well-educated too. And until the establishment, or the people controlling the opinion and analysis big reads begin to get this, the anger will not be abated. The country will continue on into instability, rocked by irrational electoral jolts and setbacks.

Merry Christmas.


“We’ve been told in rural America ‘f— you’ by the Clintons before with NAFTA, and with further banking deregulation … and told ‘f— you’ when they said the tech revolution would spread jobs across rural America …” – Dave “Mudcat” Saunders

“Things never got that much better for them. Trade a union job for a fast food or retail job that pays half, and life is pretty bleak. Things got better in cities. Things got better on the West Coast. It would be pretty easy to believe that everything was getting better everywhere but York. They told people to learn to code, but you try to teach a 55-year-old trucker or bricklayer to code and you tell me how far you get.” — Brenden Gallagher, here


Black Humor is Life

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 3:37 pm by George Smith

On Friday, from the NYT Dealbook:

“The longtime second-in-command at Goldman Sachs, Gary D. Cohn, will help guide President-elect Donald J. Trump’s economic policy along with a former Goldman partner, Steven Mnuchin, who has been nominated for Treasury secretary … Mr. Cohn is a longtime Goldman employee who was helping to guide the firm before and during the financial crisis [the brought on the global Great Recession.]”

By way of contrast: A Citigroup bankster picked Barack Obama’s cabinet.

Which do you prefer?

In honor, “Let Lloyd Explain It,” formerly “Let’s Lynch Lloyd Blankfein,” Lloyd being the present first-in-command at Goldman Sachs.

Featuring the inimical Blind Poison Castorseed on harp.


There is no software to fix our empty heads and broken souls

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 4:40 pm by George Smith

“The flood of ‘fake news’ this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation,” wrote Craig Timberg at the Washington Post.

A week later Timberg was publicly incinerated on the net for a follow-up piece on a “black list” said to expose web news and opinion sites that were alleged tools of the Russian government. Included in the list were sites I link to and read regularly, including TruthDig and Truthout. The former is Robert Scheer’s publication (Scheer being ex- of the LA Times),. It regularly runs columns by Chris Hedges, Robert Reich and Bill Boyarsky, the latter an old city and politics reporter and opinion writer for the Times when I first moved to southern California.

While Timberg was toasted, the whine on fake news has continued unabated, accompanied by the idea that somehow the powers that be of technology ought to do more to eliminate it. I find this hysterically amusing, if bleakly so.

The old Crypt Newsletter website at Northern Illinois University was once censored by the early web yen for net nanny browser filters and scanners peddled to Americans who wished to protect their children from bad shit.

In terms of fake news my brain tells me countries like Russia, Israel, us, have always used elaborate misinformation operations. Often it was (or is) difficult to tell whether they’ve worked at all because it’s hard to distinguish linguistic signal from noise.

Specifically, with primary regard to Facebook and lesser social media platforms, how do you measure whether “fake news” made a difference or, rather, it just furnished more of a “product” polarized sides wanted to read and share in their own stovepipes? And social media is very stove-piped. Users of it stove-pipe themselves, in fact. It’s what they want.

The fake news I see consists of bon-bons of “content” needing little effort or thought to create for audiences that crave such things.

Almost any bit of it is instantly gobbled up because each side is so estranged from the other they believe their opposites to be virtually subhuman. In such a social system it’s trivially easy to feed any bit of atrocious nonsense about the opposing side to consumers inclined to hanker for it. (And so it has turned out.)

I voted for Clinton. And on Facebook, a couple ‘friends’ liked something called Occupy Democrats. I regularly saw shares that I considered “fake news” from OD. If I had to generally describe them, they were quickly pumped out picture memes caricaturing the other side as parasitic trailor park slobs in wife-beater T-shirts. The common emotion they aimed to evoke, always contempt.

So I asked FB to “hide” them using its widgets and ticked the extra box that indicated I wanted to see no more from the group. Yet ticking that box did not work.

There’s one technical solution. And FB, unsurprisingly, had furnished an option that did not work.

Anyway, when did it become received wisdom that the majority of Americans have to have a technical fix applied to something because they apparently lack bullshit detectors?

My hunch, looking forward, is that “fake news” on FB and social networks will be to hard to map in any significant way, not only because it’s hard to define the difference between giving an audience more of what it wants and the catalysis of a result, but also because FB and social networks, from their operations side, are not transparent and unlikely to become so.

It’s really not in their interest to curb “fake news.” It’s what much of their user base lives on. It’s on-line oxygen.

And here at the end I’m again going to point out it’s not a tech problem.

From William L. Shirer in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:”

“It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one’s inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsification and distortions made a certain impression on one’s mind and often misled it. No one who has not lived for years in a totalitarian land can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime’s calculated and incessant propaganda. Often in a German home or office or sometimes in a casual conversation with a stranger in a restaurant, a beer hall, a cafe, I would meet with the most outlandish assertions from seemingly educated and intelligent persons. It was obvious that they were parroting some piece of nonsense they had heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. Sometimes one was tempted to say as much, but on such occasions one was met with such a stare of incredulity, such a shock of silence, as if one had blasphemed the Almighty, that one realized how useless it was to try to even make contact with a mind which had become warped …”

Shirer was talking about what had happened to a populace that lived within an entirely controlled media, fed news that fit only the whims of the Hitlerites in the demonization of others.

Somehow we have arrived at the same place without having a media that was authoritarian controlled. This is a truth that’s going to be awful hard for a lot of people to swallow.

We don’t have a state-run media and much good journalism is still being done. However, good journalism now has little or no effect.

But the reason for that is not a simple technical explanation, a massive flooding misinformation job run by Russian agency, but the underlying social and economic problem that has festered for decades and brought the country to the brink of failure.

It happened in the Third Reich. If in a different manner unique to our specific weaknesses, it’s happened here.

I know a little about tribes, their stove-pipes, and what they want to hear:

The anger was instantly gripping. A prime ingredient was the rage foaming, apparently, from Democrats, who avidly read Drudge so as to be able to intimidate and beat to death troublemakers. They were so over-the-top, it was funny enough to reduce one to tetany. It’s certainly a misconception that Democrats are eloquent, sophisticated, sensitive, and therefore beyond the knavish dirt commonly attributed to the “right-wing attack dog.” Last week, I found no difference between the two.

“It is obvious that a man who has a sense of patriotism”—Clarke, my dear correspondent meant—”is being attacked by an ass, and a fop. You are another example of Total [sic] lies the likes of which the press has not seen since the days of Goebels [sic]. Do the country a favor, and kill yourself.”

No Russians or social networks needed.


The Sore Losers

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Decline and Fall at 3:29 pm by George Smith

“A senior administration official … said in a statement that the government didn’t observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective,” read a statement on the mythology of Russian hackers tossing the election to Trump last week.

Obama recognized, correctly I think, that the recounts only stand to potentially rip the country further apart. They create the impression, and a reasonable one, on the side of those who turned out en masse for the winning side in the Rust Belt states, that “the establishment” it just said “screw you” to is trying to flip the election on a technical issue for which there is no evidence at present.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that HRC underperformed badly in the same states while the vote againt her in the hinterland counties came out in an unanticipated wave.

Even the computer scientist who pushed the idea in the media and to the Clinton people, J. Alex Halderman, conceded in an essay that Trump’s margins didn’t look like the result of hacks

Last weekend I theorized Jill Stein was being used as a stalking horse for the Democratic Party (I’m a member, although that may no longer be guaranteed). And the party now lies crushed.

The cynicism now exhibited matches the denial of the election result. The party just spent an election cycle, along with the mainstream media, dismissing Jill Stein as a clueless booby. I had considered voting for her but, no, the argument went, that would only be a throwaway vote for someone not even fit to be allowed into public debate.

But now, it’s go Jill, go! How refreshing this genuine belief in democracy.

It is also worth note how “independent” computer scientists seemed to keep running into the middle of the road, wavng their hands (this means sending emails to the HRC machine at the same time they were furiously lobbying the NYT and WaPo for publicity), claiming to only want to guarantee the “integrity” of democracy.

They’re such good people. Whip smart, too.

Disrupt! Technology uber alles. Obvious shortcomings of the loser mean nothing. Voting machines in swing states might have been hacked. The Trump network was in mysterious contract with a computer in Moscow. Fake news on Facebook, planted by an army of Russians sealed the deal.


This meme needs to die, along with the liberals and swells who push it

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Made in China at 4:47 pm by George Smith

American swells are having a shared nervous breakdown. And the only thing they can think of to fight back against the national rebuke they just suffered is to invoke one of the Democratic Party’s most played out ritualistic memes.

It begins with the invocation: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.” And from there one naturally proceeds to wisely waving the hands while lecturing lessers (and the choir which nods approvingly) on the need for more smarts, more school, more skills, or retraining camp as I like to call it.

Here, from a Las Vegas newspaper, by way of Pine View Farm:

Wait until Trump tries to come through on one of his central promises: to bring back millions of high-paying manufacturing jobs to the U.S.

There is no shortage of economic experts who say it’s a fantasy.


Because U.S. manufacturers already are producing a lot of goods. They’re just doing it with fewer people …

The remedy that’s been prescribed for decades:

[Investing] in training programs to ensure Americans are prepared to work in modern digital factories.

It also would require Trump to swallow a couple of harsh realities. The first is that a lot of the people whom he promised to put back to work in factories will have to find work in some other field. The government could help them, Muro pointed out, by establishing a national wage-insurance program that would replace a portion of a worker’s lost wages for several years as he or she trained …

The same prescription, ad nauseam, until it’s enraging. Which is much of the reason why Trump is president.

Now let us here again the swami implying workers are now too stupid for “modern digital factories.”

What modern digital factories might these be? Is not steel-making still basically steel-making?

Bangladesh is “modern digital factories?” The crap in the dollar store where I shop, all produced in “modern digital factories?”

And if one isn’t ready to work in the modern digital factories, there is retraining camp. Which has apparently been tried for years, the threadbare results of which can now be gleaned from the public record of decline.

By way of recent news, the NY Times and a reporter in West Virginia:

“At the Huddle House on Route 119, Kayla Burger, 32, a waitress, has worked three jobs since her husband lost his; they take home less than a quarter of the roughly $100,000 he used to earn. She took an offer for miners’ wives to train as phlebotomists, but with so many miners out of work, the phlebotomy market was flooded. She also substitute teaches and cooks at the school.”

How many people are needed to blood when the local economy is el busto? How many when not?

Check what such jobs pay. They don’t compared to what was lost. I covered this year’s ago in a blog piece on the stupid belief, held as holy grail, that everyone would retrain to be teeth scrapers, vision checkers and bed pan techs.

But there’s no dislodging the belief among the haves that it’s just a matter of lack of skills and smarts in the unfortunate is just a matter of not getting the proper schooling, not a general collapse in the structure of the economy, a collapse caused by policy decisions. That is, no dislodging of the belief until the shoeshiner for the status quo finds he or she has been dismissed for lack of worth.

Blast from the past, or, yes, I am right!

You may ask, “Why this focus on the dreadful US economy and prospects for the middle class, Dick?”

Well, mass unemployment leads to political instability, as we’ve seen.

Political instability is a serious threat to everyone’s security.

If you don’t address it satisfactorily, soon Victoria Jackson’s “There’s a Communist In the White House” has half a million views on YouTube, along with everything that suggests. 10/07/10 with Barack Obama, president

What about all that skills for the future and the global market crap? Are things better? Happy now?! (Me giving you a poke in the chest.)

As usual, Dean Baker has something to say about trade, manufacturing and how it pertains to our current dystopian situation.

“You need not be a fan of Donald Trump to say that trade has had a big impact on manufacturing jobs …” he begins.

An excerpt:

There are three points worth making here. The first is a simple logical one, we have a trade deficit of around $500 billion a year, a bit less than 3.0 percent of GDP. This is basically all due to a deficit in manufactured goods (we have a surplus on services). Does anyone believe that the extra imports associated with the trade deficit are not associated with jobs? Can $500 billion worth of manufactured goods be produced without hiring people? (This matters much more in a context where we face secular stagnation, meaning there is not enough overall demand in the economy.)

The second point is that our trade deficit has not always been this large …

Anyhow, this explosion in the trade deficit coincided with a sharp decline in manufacturing employment.

“Anyhow, we should not look to combat Donald Trump by following his tendency to ignore reality,” continues Baker. “Yes, trade has cost manufacturing workers jobs.”

There are remedies, he adds. One of his is lowering the value of the dollar. Baker has even more to say here on the 1,000 jobs saved at Carrier.

Before wrapping it up, what’s the latest talent/character trait/quality America’s interpreters of the job market say citizens looking for work are lacking?

Soft skills.

What are soft skills?

Getting to work on time. Dressing nicely. Not being too ugly-looking, diseased or old. “People” skills.

Dig deeply into the syntax and linguistics of the news and this is what soft skills means: Capability as a polite and well-dressed bootlick. The term “critical thinking” comes up a bit, but here? Have you been knocked out by the level of critical thinking exhibited in the USA in the last ten years or more? C’mon, who’s buying that?


Steven Mnuchin, recently of Satan’s Bank …

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Predator State, Satan's Bank at 1:15 pm by George Smith

Steven Mnuchin, set to be Donald Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, is the perfect choice for the root hog or die economy in the culture of lickspittle. Mnuchin is someone who took a pie of excrement, IndyMac bank, and turned it into an even bigger pie of ill will and poison as OneWest.

And that’s essentially what Elizabeth Warren said about him yesterday:

“Steve Mnuchin is the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis — he managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street. He spent two decades at Goldman Sachs helping the bank peddle the same kind of mortgage products that blew up the economy and sucked down billions in taxpayer bailout money before he moved on to run a bank that was infamous for aggressively foreclosing on families.”

The image of a mildly retarded man, excellent at ping pong, stumbling through life as a Wall Street financier, managing to accumulate billions in riches just because of the way the system works while uttering the occasional word candies like “Life is a box of chocolates …” should make you laugh, if nothing else.

I would eagerly await Warren going off on him for five or ten minutes when he arrives before the Senate. The lady has an inspirational talent for the putdown.

Coincidentally, Mnuchin made a great deal of money as the CEO of OneWest in Pasadena, which was IndyMac until forclosed on by the US government at the beginning of the financial crisis.

The blog briefly covered it as Satan’s Bank and rather than work up everything from scratch I’m just going to go to the archives.


[OneWest] is involved in a similar case in California, where it’s trying to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman, despite two court orders telling it to stop.

Stung by the whip of bad reviews, OneWest announced it was turning to charitable giving at the beginning of the new year.

“With a seed of $10 million, OneWest Bank announced this week that it has created a nonprofit foundation to help develop the communities it serves,” reported Monterey County Herald on January 2.

“The Pasadena-based bank, which took over failed IndyMac in March, established the foundation ‘to actively invest’ in priorities such as affordable housing, health care, education, financial literacy and rehabilitating underserved communities, foundation bank officials said.

” ‘We are very committed to supporting the community in meaningful ways through our charitable efforts, including significant contributions from our employees in community service activities,’ ” foundation Chairman Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.”

Community service. Affordable housing. Fine words.

“The bank has 72 retail branches in Southern California and total assets of $24 billion,” one news story on OneWest informs.

Let’s see.

10 million / 24 billion = 0.000416666667

In other words, another ‘achievement in giving’ worth the stink eye. The amount is OneWest/Satan’s Bank equivalent of pocket lint. Maybe less.


IndyMac did the things all the banksters are now accused of in the US. It specialized in really risky subprime lending and then went tits after the people at the top made a killing on the Ponzi scheme. Prior to the death of Lehman Brothers and the big bailout, the FDIC stepped in and saved it.

In the reorganization, some superwealthy guys took over and renamed it OneWest.

OneWest’s business model, as told in news stories on it, is to continue the certified nasty practices of the Wall Street financial giants.

That is, it profits off distressed holdings by using the taxpayer-funded government guarantees for detoxifying its subprime lending. OneWest is not small or community-oriented, unless you consider forclosing on people’s homes nationwide using taxpayer money as guarantee profit margin against what would be certain losses to be goodness for communities.

One fellow on the web explains it this way:

Several times per week, I get phone calls from attorneys. These calls all start out the same. “I am unable to get loan modifications done through a lender. What can I do?” The first question I ask is if the lender is Indymac/One West. Invariably, it is.

When OneWest took over Indymac, the FDIC and OneWest executed a “Shared-Loss Agreement” covering the sale. This Agreement covered the terms of what the FDIC would reimburse OneWest for any losses from foreclosure on a property. It is at this point that the details get very confusing, so I shall try to simplify the terms.

Some of the major details are:

OneWest would purchase all first mortgages at 70% of the current balance

OneWest would purchase Line of Equity Loans at 58% of the current balance.

In the event of foreclosure, the FDIC would cover from 80%-95% of losses, using the original loan amount, and not the current balance.


The site I’m about to direct you to is Bankster Law! It deals with my corporate neighbor, OneWest in Pasadena. The author relates his grinding battle with IndyMac and OneWest in Pasadena over a home construction loan. Yes, they are as bad as you think.

The trouble begins when IndyMac begins to fail — it’s money is all gone — and it starts misleading customers while short-changing them. The author finds IndyMac has reneged on the construction loan, declaring it complete with the house still unfinished.

From the introduction:

Want to learn something of the system? Read Bleak House by Charles Dickens. You can download or read it on Gutenberg. Do you want to have your soul (and money) drained by Mr. Vholes? Do you want your mind stolen like poor Flite? Do you want your home to go to rack and ruin like Bleak House?

An excerpt, on “Bankster Psychology:

Deadbeat peasants won’t pay their bills! Let us pretend that the economy has nothing to do with people’s ability to pay. And let us also pretend that the bankster stealing doesn’t have anything to do with the economy! And let’s ignore the deadbeat bankster bailout, that has NOTHING to do with anything!


The peasantry is being programmed by the banker run media to be selfish and jealous of others. So that when one is ripped off, others do not care. Why should you have a free house, they are trained to ask. As if your paying will make their paying more bearable. Wouldn’t it be wiser to ask why the bankers should be able to print free money at everyone’s expense.

And on OneWest:

My trouble with Pasadena began when I was given a loan from the original IndyMac Bank, FSB. Honestly, I liked most of the people I talked to from that bank. Those were the good old days when bankers did not hide their last names. When if you had a problem, a Vice President would give you his cell phone number and tell you to call him at home if necessary. This is when many of the California bankers had sunny Cali-style personalities and were not just churlish brutes. I only remember one lady that sounded like a goon, and I’ll bet you she is still working there at OneWest Bank …

[Later] OneWest Bank takes over. A filthier set of churlish thugs you cannot imagine. It seemed that they liked to call people even before payments were overdue in order to demand money …

Desperation hit a new high in Pasadena today.

At lunch time, on the corner of Lake and Walnut — directly in front of Satan’s Bank of Pasadena, aka OneWest — there was a thirtysomething man in a suit with a signboard. The signboard pleaded: “Hire Me!”

It said he had a B.A. and “experience.” “Help me win for my family,” it added.

Right beside him, a man who looked like Santa Claus, except in a hardware store man’s clothes. He has been begging for the last two weeks. And directly across the superhighway, two people have been regularly camped out for it seems like … at least a year or two.

If you’ve never been to Pasadena, the corner of Lake and Walnut is the place to be if you’d like to be seen with your alms cup. It’s high vehicular traffic for most of the day. And there’s are always a good number of pedestrians, particularly at lunch time, when many come boiling out of Satan’s Bank and head across the street to Ralphs or north thirty yards to Teri & Yaki.

Holding up a sign of desperation on this corner is a good tactical move. If you want someone from the local newspaper, the Pasadena Star-News to notice and get interested in your story, it’s high visibility and impact.

After all, no one ever checks out the guy living out of his van on El Molino. Or the half a dozen or so who regularly scrounge through my apartment building’s dumpster.

The Wall Street Journal: Many borrowers complain they get the runaround when they call their lenders for help, receive contradictory information from different employees and are required to repeatedly fax the same documents.

At the same time, suicide threats from distressed borrowers are so common that one lender, OneWest Bank Group in Pasadena, Calif., had to establish procedures for alerting the police. Lenders’ call-center employees are under heavy pressure. “These people make $14 or $15 an hour, and we ask them to move mountains,” said a OneWest executive at an industry conference last month.


“During a recent protest outside his Walnut Street bank headquarters, OneWest CEO Terry Laughlin came down with the bank’s head of mortgage services for a little face time with borrowers,” reported the Pasadena Star-News recently.

“The idea was to ‘reach out’ Laughlin said, and see what he could do or say to help them with their home loans – which they angrily – and frequently – complain have yet to be modified.”

“Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest filed to take a 90-year-old woman’s house after a 27-cent payment error,” reads Politico.

And, yes, yes, there was a song …

Go, that was 2010 – 2012 and nothing ever changes. It’s worth saying again and again, part of the Obama administration’s failure was doing nothing about this when everyone was begging for bankster heads.


Contempt — it’s the American way

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Fiat money fear and loathers at 4:18 pm by George Smith

Writing about the social illness that’s tearing apart the US in its decline in 2016 is like pulling the wings off flies.

Endless cycles on the virtues of holding others unlike you in contempt, of adopting as a creed root hog or die.

Via Pine View Farm, the Gobble-Wallahs of Ayn Rand, always present:

On Monday Donald Trump is scheduled to discuss potential cabinet positions with a former bank CEO who bribed colleges to teach Ayn Rand, wants to end the Fed, and has argued that bank regulations dating back to the Great Depression should be chucked.

That man is John Allison, longtime head of the North Carolina-based bank BB&T and, most recently, president of the libertarian think tank Cato …

Allison likes to tell the story of two children playing in a sandbox, one of whom takes a toy from the other. When the aggrieved party complains to mommy, she tells them both to share. This is where it all went wrong. As the New York Times recounts:

“You learned in that sandbox at some really deep level that it’s bad to be selfish,” says Mr. Allison, adding that the mother has taught a horrible lesson.

It’s worth adding the guy’s a goldbug, too.

At some point, now well in the past, you just don’t care about any institutions the country allegedly stands for anymore. It’s all bullshit or stupendous fraud and the only reasonable response is laughter.

And when that happened to me, I wrote a song…

The best excerpt from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:

Ragnar Danneskjold: But I’ve chosen a special mission of my own. I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.

Hank Rearden: What man?

Danneskjold: Robin Hood …. he is not remembered as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became a symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures – the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich – whom men have come to regard as the moral idea … Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting, Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.

And, yes, that photo is of my copy of the book!

And, yes, yes, it’s true. You’ll find it hard to believe now that I’m partaking of the SNAP benefit but I once gave a bit of a talk at the Cato Institute. They even flew me across the country and put me up in a swank hotel for my wisdom.

That was an age ago, in 2003.

China Razor Blues

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Made in China at 1:36 pm by George Smith

There’s a wideheld assumption in the establishment that outsourced manufacturing of household goods to China has produced something much cheaper but equivalent to what middle class Americans were used to in the early Seventies.

Globalism good! You can buy more!

It’s true but only to a point that overlooks a very noticeable downside. Yes, I can buy 10 disposable razors at the dollar store for 99 cents. But they are not as good as the disposable razors I used in college.

In fact, I can always count on the first use of a new 10 cent Chinese razor to nick me. Nine times out of ten, it takes one shave before the razor doesn’t constitute a hazard. I’m not sure what the manufacturing trick/cheapnis is that guarantees it, but it’s real.

The shoddiness of certain types of Chinese goods is apparent if you must buy them all the time. Socks from the dollar store last about two washes before they sprout holes. A 25 dollar pair of faux leather plastic-wedded-to- rubber men’s shoes lasted a month before cracking and becoming unwearable.

This is our America, not likely to change, a place to be endured and coped with as it gets progressively and inexorably worse.

Not made in China

Or outsourced. “The China Toilet Blues,” from Old White Coot. Harp by Blind Poison Castorseed.


Collateral Damage

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall at 5:52 pm by George Smith

While you may be on the side that cheers when coal is condemned there is still much you ought to see in the short interview documentary, Collateral Damage.

“Nobody cares about us,” says one young man. And the bill for being cold, of not caring, just came due. That’s the long an short of it.

Argue all you wish about global warming and reliance on fossil fuels. But when you deprive hundreds of communities of a way to make a living, to be replaced only by the economies of abandoned places and you haven’t come up with a solution other than root hog or die, as a nation, we’ve failed.

I grew up in coal country and a couple of my best friends were sent to school and enjoyed life in the middle class because of the anthracite. On election day Schuylkill County went for Donald Trump, 70 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 30. It was the same ratio by which she was stoned in West Virginia.


Quick hit, before he’s gone…

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Decline and Fall, Extremism at 12:40 pm by George Smith

I have a hard time imagining Mitt Romney being anywhere near Donald Trump without spontaneously combusting, but hey! If he wants to be our von Ribbentrop he’d probably be a lot nicer than Giuliani or John Bolton. History sometimes rhymes and “Binders Full of Women Blues” from the archives does too.

Yes, now one of the more popular (as in 78 listens!) from Old White Coot.

Donald J. Trump just appointed the real General Jack Ripper, Michael Flynn, to national security advisor, except he’s Army, Ripper was USAF. Much like Ripper’s catastrophic belief that fluoridation was “a Commie plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids” in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Flynn believes that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading throught the country, impurifying our precious bodily fluids, so to speak. “It is not,” informs the New York Times, with some lack of prudent emphasis.

Here’s one thing the Democratic Party never understood and now it lies in ruins. For the eight years of the Obama administration GOP special interest groups sent an assortment of paranoids and bigots into small town red state USA to give lectures on sharia and how Iran was going to put an end to American civilization with an electromagnetic pulse.

Instead, it didn’t even go there. If you couldn’t appreciate the brilliance of seminars given at some John Podesta-run think tank, then you had no potential.

God, they just lost the election, with leadership by one of HRC’s top flunkies, and look at this spell-binding list of pablums offered up as ideas and reports.

On the other hand, the GOP and sharia — in the states, often mentioned here.

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