Bankers Too Big To Jail

• Below: Eric Holder testifies that some corporations may be too big to prosecute.

• As alluded to above, the so-called "Holder memo" written during his earlier tenure at DOJ allows wiggle room for corporate execs to dodge prosecution if that might cause "collateral consequences" to the national or world economy.

• Below: Eric Holder with NBC's Pete Williams (11.2013) in a Bill Moyers & Company video (10.4.14). White-collar criminologist Bill Black, author of "The Best Way To Rob A Bank Is To Own One," calls the DOJ's inaction "the greatest strategic failure in the history of the Department of Justice."

• Below: President Robert Weissman of watchdog group Public Citizen describes the poor track record of Eric Holder's DOJ regarding criminal prosecutions for corporate crimes.

• "(Eric Holder's) tenure has proven unhelpful to the five million victims of mortgage abuses in the US." —David Dayen, the guardian.com

• Below: Watch investigative journalist Matt Taibbi's reporting on the massive rip-off by white collar criminals "no longer appropriate for jail."

• “Friends and former colleagues ... say it would be no surprise if (Holder) returned to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he spent years representing corporate clients." —NPR

• "A large chunk of Covington & Burling’s corporate clients are mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of AmericaLanny Breuer, who ran the criminal division for Holder’s Justice Department, already returned to work there." —NPR

• "The Wall Street Journal found that the Justice Department only collects around 25% of the fines they impose ... The DoJ’s Inspector General ... found that DoJ deprioritized mortgage fraud, making it the 'lowest-ranked criminal threat' from 2009-2011."—David Dayen, the guardian.com

• Amy Goodman (host of "Democracy Now"): "Who was tougher on corporate America, President Obama or President Bush?"

 Matt Taibbi: "Oh, Bush, hands down. And this is an important point to make, because if you go back to the early 2000s, think about all these high-profile cases: Adelphia, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen. All of these companies were swept up by the Bush Justice Department. And what’s interesting about this is that you can see a progression. If you go back to the savings and loan crisis in the late '80s, which was an enormous fraud problem, but it paled in comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, we put about 800 people in jail during ... that crisis. You fast-forward 10 or 15 years to the accounting scandals, like Enron and Adelphia and Tyco, we went after the heads of some of those companies. It wasn't as vigorous as the S&L prosecutions, but we at least did it. ... We’re now in a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal."

Department of Whining:
"
One would be hard put to identify an Attorney General who so explicitly turned the Justice Department into a political weapon ... The financial settlements that Holder Justice squeezed out of major banks are Exhibit A. Massive fines were imposed on J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America explicitly as punishment for the 2008 financial crisis. No matter how unprovable the charges, the banks settled because they couldn't endure the continuing political risk of even more severe punishment. President Obama bragged about punishing financial institutions throughout his 2012 re-election campaign." —Wall Street Journal editorial, September 2014

• Latest news: JPMorgan whistleblower featured in new Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. Watch them interviewed by Chris Hayes on 11.10.14 below:

High Price of Free Speech

Caricatured above: Jack Weinberg holding log; Mario Savio as Cal Man; thx 4 quote David Jouris

Caricatured above: Jack Weinberg holding log; Mario Savio as Cal Man; thx 4 quote David Jouris

• The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a student protest at UC Berkeley in 1964-65 resisting the ban against on-campus political activities and other archaic restrictions of the repressed post-WW2 era. FSM leaders included Mario Savio, Michael Rossman, Brian Turner, Bettina Aptheker, Steve Weissman, Art Goldberg, Jackie Goldberg —Wikipedia

• The FSM, an outgrowth of civil rights and anti-war activism, marked a revolutionary national shift from paternalistic oversight by college administrators to the current era allowing on-campus political activities, free speech and academic freedom. —Wikipedia

 Source: Thx L.S. and Curtis Mekemson — wandering-through-time-and-place.me

 Source: Thx L.S. and Curtis Mekemson — wandering-through-time-and-place.me

• Below: Major tipping point 10.1.64: Jack Weinberg's arrest for on-campus political activism: manning a table to raise funds for the Congress of Racial Equality. 

“The car was held hostage for 32 hours. With Jack inside, the police car became the platform for a continual rally. Art Goldberg and his sister Jackie, both experienced student activists, were the leaders of the United Front (campus activist coalition), but from the top of the car new people emerged who captured the loyalty of the crowd. Mario Savio, a junior who had transferred from Queens, New York the year before, was soon recognized as the most charismatic speaker.” —Jo Freeman, JoFreeman.com

Jack Weinberg  under arrest. Photo:  Occident,  thx Curtis Mekemson

Jack Weinberg under arrest. Photo: Occident, thx Curtis Mekemson

• "We have a saying in the movement that we don’t trust anybody over 30." —Jack Weinberg (1965 interview with San Francisco Chronicle reporter; many others co-opted the phrase). 

• Below: Mario Savio (12.8.42 - 11.6.96), iconic leader of the FSM, most famous for his revolutionary speech (excerpted here, two months after his speech atop the police car) at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza 12.2.64.

A 1999 report revealed that Savio was followed and investigated by the FBI for more than a decade “because he had emerged as a prominent leader,” although there was not evidence he was a real threat. The FBI justified their pursuit “because they thought he could inspire students to rebel.” (SF Chronicle)

• Below: Overview of the FSM from the doc, "Berkeley in the Sixties"

• "The rights you enjoy on this (Berkeley) campus did not come easily. They had to be won by unrelenting agitation, by disturbing the peace, and much of the credit belongs to a generation of UC students often denigrated for their excesses." —Leon Litwick, activist, UCB professor emeritus of American history and Pulitzer Prize winner, who quit his campus library job in 1965 to protest the UC system's loyalty oath. 

The  five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment  to the U.S. Constitution, shown on wall of the Newseum in Washington, DC. Photo: Cirt/ikipedia

The five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, shown on wall of the Newseum in Washington, DC. Photo: Cirt/ikipedia

• "You (President Obama) recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government. You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in. —Joint letter to President Obama from most major professional journalism associations, 7.8.14

• Example: "US Military Banned From Reading (Pulitizer-winning journalist) Glenn Greenwald's New Website" https://firstlook.org/theintercept/ — David Gilbert, International Business Times, 8.21.14

• “When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” —Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson updated - from Ludwig von Mises Institiute

Thomas Jefferson updated - from Ludwig von Mises Institiute

• “No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.” —Barbara Ehrenreich, journalist and author (b. 1941) 

• “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” ―Oscar Wilde (paraphrasing Voltaire)

Speaking of the high price of free speech on campus:

• “Thanks to intense bank lobbying, student loans are uniquely punitive. Most can’t be refinanced, which means that people who borrowed at 8 percent in the 1990s are still paying 8 percent (when banks are paying almost zero). Unlike other loans, student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, and a borrower’s salary, Social Security and even disability checks can be garnished.” _Barbara Gerson, SF Chronicle

Wall Street Journal  Graphic

Wall Street Journal Graphic


Blacks Talking Funny Like Whites

Above: Samples from hilarious  Buzzfeed video below

Above: Samples from hilarious Buzzfeed video below

• A different language is a different vision of life. —Federico Fellini

Above:  2010 Census : Blacks as Percent of Population

Above: 2010 Census: Blacks as Percent of Population

• “Yeah, I love being famous. It's almost like being white, y'know?” ―Chris Rock

1860   C  ensus of Slaves . source: retronaut.com    Slaves outnumbered "frees" in some states and comprised a third of the South's population.

1860 Census of Slaves. source: retronaut.com   
Slaves outnumbered "frees" in some states and comprised a third of the South's population.

• “Race is there. You're tired of hearing about it? Imagine how fucking exhausting it is living it.”
― Jon Stewart

Above: Growth of Hispanics (purple) outpaces  Blacks (red)  and all others.  Whites (blues) decline .

Above: Growth of Hispanics (purple) outpaces Blacks (red) and all others. Whites (blues) decline.

• “Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.” ―Tiger Woods

• “A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.” ―Barack Obama

Above: Increased  polarization  over three decades

Above: Increased polarization over three decades

• "Words are my language." —Patty Warren

Celebrating Labor - Out Our Window

All photos taken from inside Fizzdom's San Francisco studio 

All photos taken from inside Fizzdom's San Francisco studio 

• “If all the cars in the U.S. were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.” —Doug Larson

• “If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.” —Abraham Lincoln 

Film crew  sets up a chase scene around our block.

Film crew sets up a chase scene around our block.

• “I think organized labor is a necessary part of democracy. Organized labor is the only way to have fair distribution of wealth.” —Dolores Huerta

• “Of all the American educational system's problems, none is more severe than the academic year beginning before Labor Day.” —P. J. O'Rourke

Emergency responders  deal with a grounded cabin cruiser on SF's Ocean Beach highjacked by drunk man celebrating his 35th birthday. He travelled over 20 miles through the Bay and the Golden Gate before calling it a night. 

Emergency responders deal with a grounded cabin cruiser on SF's Ocean Beach highjacked by drunk man celebrating his 35th birthday. He travelled over 20 miles through the Bay and the Golden Gate before calling it a night. 

• “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” —Ovid  

Source: The Century Foundation tcf.org

Source: The Century Foundation tcf.org

Matt Damon's Obama Bromance

fizzdom.com john grimes president barack obama matt damon movie star celebrity constitution anticipoointment change 4th amendment hope bromance politics

Matt Damon: "(Obama) broke up with me. There are a lot of things that I really question, you know: the legality of the drone strikes, and these NSA revelations ... Jimmy Carter came out and said we don’t live in a democracy. That’s a little intense when an ex-president says that. So  (Obama's) got some explaining to do, particularly for a constitutional law professor."

•  Barack Obama"Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau, so right back atcha, buddy!”

Damon: "A one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better."

• Above: Watch Matt Damon's Top 10 Roles (WatchMojo.com)

• Damon's 2013 film Elysium "has been panned by conservatives for arguing for a socialist utopia as an alternative to a future world of haves and have-nots. The Occupy Wall Street-inspired plot line involves a wealthy elite class that has abandoned an overcrowded Earth for a luxury space station, leaving the rest of humanity in crime-ridden and poverty-stricken squalor."

• Actor, producer, writer Matt Damon (b. 10.8.70) has been actively involved in charitable work, including the ONE Campaign, H2O Africa Foundation, and Water.org.

Damon was raised in Cambridge, MA near close friend Ben Affleck and neighbor/author/activist Howard Zinn. He dropped out of Harvard just short of a degree to pursue acting. 

• Damon is a supporter of the Democratic Party and hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. He has been mentioned as a future political candidate

Maya Angelou's Wisps of Glory

fizzdom.com maya angelou's wisps of glory quotes animation gif poet writer performer

• Before her many accomplishments as a poet, writer and activist, Maya Angelou sang and danced in her 1950s night club act (of course, the quotes above came later).

• “Calypso music is rooted in resistance, and served as voice of the people. Here's Maya Angelou as Miss Calypso, talking police brutality, more than 50 years ago.” (Reader comment by Denise Sullivan on YouTube.) Listen to audio above.

Maya Angelou congratulated by President Bill Clinton at his 1993 inauguration

• Above: Angelou after reciting her poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning," written for and performed at President Clinton’s 1993 Inauguration.

Maya Angelou congratulated by President Obama upon receipt of the 2010 Medal of Freedom

• Above: Angelou congratulated by President Obama upon receipt of the 2010 Medal of Freedom.

• "In order to survive as a black woman I am obliged to search inside myself for my stuff. Because nobody hands it out for free on the corner." — Maya Angelou, as recounted by Leah Garchik, SF Chronicle, 5.29.14

Obama Gets Mad as Heck at VA

fizzdom.com john grimes president barack obama gets mad as hell heck diane sawyer howard beale network veterans day eric shinsecki department of veterans affairs VA scandal 2014 waiting lists tightrope investigation sf chronicle

• Twenty-six VA hospitals are being investigated for "gaming strategies" that cover up extensive wait times for treatment, possibly resulting in premature deaths of veterans and unearned bonuses by administrators.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs (retired general) Eric Shinseki has directed the VA since 2009, "inheriting" hundreds of thousands of casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

• "VA also has a long-standing problem with disability claims that have remained in the system for at least 125 days without a determination. The Obama administration has set a goal of eliminating that inventory by 2015. VA reported this year that it had reduced the amount by 44 percent since the number of claims reached a high of more than 600,000 in 2012." (Washington Post)

• For the first time in 70 years the American Legion has called for the VA leader's resignation, citing poor oversight. 

• The VA is "staffed largely by older veterans." (Time.com)

• President Obama has ordered an investigation before shaking things up.

• Watch Jon Stewart skewer the VA and Shinseki above — somewhat amusingly — for gaming the system and causing untold damage.

• "The longer the VA scandal stays in the public eye, the more we will hear arguments (from conservatives that) the VA should be broken up and its services privatized with federal regulations and subsidies replacing federal bureaucracies—creating a system much like the one contemplated by Obamacare." (Washington Monthly). 

"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widen, and his orphan." — Abraham Lincoln

• "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan." — Abraham Lincoln

• Update 5.30.14: Shinseki resigns. Backstory @ http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2014/05/30/how-the-va-developed-its-culture-of-coverups/
                                                                                                         

Obama Battles the Bullies

fizzdom.com president barack obama battles the bullies gop republicans capitol politics gorilla robert strauss

President Obama steams under his cool facade while House and Senate adversaries act out. Obama is being hammered on Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act), the Benghazi terrorist attack and a litany of issues.

• For levity, Obama delivers some great zingers below at the 100th Annual White House Correspondents' Dinner joke fest, followed by featured comedian Joel McHale's barrage at political insiders (5.3.14).

• Political sage Robert Strauss, author of the animated quote on top, was Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee from 1972 to 1977 (Watergate era). He later served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia/Soviet Union, Special Ambassador for the Middle East, and U.S. Trade Representative. He died on March 19, 2014 at 95.

 

Christie, Obama and Putin Get Down

fizzdom.com new jersey governor chris christie president barack obama russian president vladiimir putin crimea buddy epps john belushi

NJ Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama are shown as pre-Bridgegate bosom buddies, a la their post-Superstorm Sandy tarmac manbrace of 2012.

• Trapped at the mercy of the two American strongmen is the diminutive Russian President Vladimir Putin (oddly, fully-attired), who will later kick strategic sand in Crimea.

• John Belushi (as John "Bluto" Blutarsky from the '78 frat film, "Animal House”) looks on, offended by the exuberant behavior.

• The animated quote is attributed to Buddy Epps — whoever you are! (per The New Official Rules)

• Skim (with small grain of salt) the 2013 video below for an overview of Vladimir "Man-Boobs" Putin's leadership style.


7 Things You Need To Know About Vladimir Putin (8:11)