Posts Tagged ‘Kleptocracy’

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New York voting fiasco just the warm-up for the November game
by Greg Palast

Buckle up, America.  The voting demolition derby that was the New York primary on Tuesday was merely the crash test for the coming voting wreckage in November:  acarefully planned pile up.

First, live from New York….

Francesca Rheannon, whom you may know as the host of Writers’ Voice radio, did the civic thing by volunteering to work the polls in a town east of New York City.

“I just got off my 17 hour shift as an election official.  In my election district, out of 166 Democratic voters, 39 were forced to file affidavit ballots.  The last [election] I worked in, exactly ONE voter needed an affidavit ballot.”

That’s nearly one of four voters. Why?  Their names had gone missing from the voter rolls.

An affidavit ballot (called a “provisional” ballot in most other states) is a kind of placebo ballot.  You get to pretend to vote – but the chance it will actually be counted is …well, good luck.  If your name is wrongly removed, kiss your vote – affidavit or not—goodbye.

Rheannon’s experience was hardly unique.  In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary.

To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote.  Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller will now audit the Elections Board–now that the election is over.  Hey thanks, Scott.

Neal Rosenstein, the lead voting rights attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, which plans legal action, notes that part of the problem is that partisan hacks sit on the Elections board in New York—hacks from both parties.

Brooklyn is under the control of the Kings County Democratic Party, one of the last of the big city machines.  Would they attack their opponents’ voter registrations?  I don’t have to guess:  in my wasted younger days, I was in the Brooklyn County elections office with the hacks where we were assigned by the Party to challenge voters’ signatures en masse.  (I wouldn’t and nearly lost my state job.)

Am I saying the machine “fixed” the election for Hillary Clinton?  Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment.  Some of the purged may have moved, some have died.  But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.

If the Machine had been aware of the mass purge underway, would they have stopped it?  As they say in Brooklyn, Fahgeddabouddit.

But whether party hacks shoplifted New York or not, that’s small potatoes. Scrubbing voter rolls is not a “New York value.” It’s a nationwide epidemic, a disease eating away at the heart of our democracy.

Voting officials learned a lesson from Katherine Harris the Florida Secretary of State who purged Black voters in 2000.  They learned how to repeat the purge, expand it and carefully hide it.

I’ve been traveling the nation, from Ohio to Georgia to Arizona and back—and finding the voter-roll purging machinery running at full speed.

Nationwide, state voting chiefs are, from my long experience, the most violently partisan officials you’ll ever encounter.

From the data provided by the US Elections Assistance Commission, we can calculate that no less than 491,952 voters were wrongly removed from the rolls in 2008, the last reviewed Presidential election in addition 2,383,587 voters filled out registration forms that were simply never added to voter rolls – and 767,023 provisional and affidavit ballots were not counted.

And it’s not just anyone’s ballot. I’ll never forget that, at one of my recent talks on vote suppression, I asked how many in the audience had ever been shunted to a provisional ballot.  There were only two Black people in the audience.  They were the only two to raise their hand.

US Civil Rights Commission statistics tell the story.  The chance of a ballot “spoiled” – not counted for one reason or another – is 900% higher if you’re Black than if you’re White.

As Rosenstein says for NYPIRG, “Instead of purging voters, we should be enfranchising them.”  Yes. Though we thought that was settled by the Civil War.

OK, we didn’t know about the New York purge beforehand.  But I’m telling you this now:  My team is uncovering an unjustified ethnic cleansing of voter rolls from Ohio to Florida to Texas.

This year I was in Selma, Alabama, with Hank Sanders, an African-American who joined Martin Luther King on the march to Montgomery that won the Voting Rights Act.  Today, he’s State Senator Hank Sanders, a title that is a tribute to America’s advance on voting rights.  He’s also Hank Sanders, purged voter, forced to vote “provisionally” this year.

Why?  I’m investigating.  But the state officials (and let’s tell it like it is:  it’s mostly GOP officials) have used so many spurious grounds to cancel registrations—“caging,” “cross-checking” and a host of other sick tricks, it’s not easy to pin-point which one is responsible for the “lynching by laptop.”

It’s worth noting that Brooklyn, like Alabama, was on the “pre-clearance” list in the Voting Rights Act.  I can tell you right now, it’s unlikely that neither Hank Sanders nor the 125,000 Brooklynites would have been purged, had the Supreme Court not gutted the Act in 2013.

As I look upon the wreckage that was the New York primary, I see the prelude, the test run, for the catastrophic failure, the well-planned failure, of the voting system in November. The purges and votes “spoiled”–the votes not counted—not the voters, may well elect our President.*  *  *  *  *  *   *But there’s something you can do about it.

Right now, my investigations and production team are finishing the final frames of our film on the upcoming theft of the 2016 election:  The Best Democracy Money Can Buy:  A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.

Donate $100 to support our investigation and I will list you in the movie credits, send you a signed copy of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits right now and a signed copy of the DVD once the film has wrapped. 

Or support our work by making a No Gift Donation, small or ginormous, all are immensely appreciated!

Most important, your tax-deductible donation will help us finish, broadcast and distribute our film and print reports before the November catastrophe and just maybe, a better democracy.

For 15 years, Greg Palast has been uncovering voter suppression tactics in investigative reports for BBC Television, The Guardian, Harper’s and Rolling Stone. In 2016 Greg Palast will be releasing his new feature film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy—A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits,which includes his award-winning investigation Jim Crow Returns.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,  Armed Madhouse  and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic.

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With Jesse & I were Shahhen A. and Jose G.

thestupidburns

Corey Carroll was in the studio after a long time away :)

father Ted

Meme based on Father Ted

 

 

Corey Carroll was in the studio after a long time away :)

father Ted

Meme based on Father Ted

69-JTF-forweb

Inequality By Design: It’s Not Just Talent and Hard Work

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Saturday, 15 February 2014 14:54
Greg Mankiw is out there defending the 1 percent again. He put forward the argument that the big bucks are simply their just desserts; the rewards for exceptional skill and hard work.

His opening act is Robert Downey Jr. who apparently got $50 million for his starring role in a single movie. This is a great place to start. There’s no doubt that Robert Downey is an extremely talented actor, but of course there have been many actors over the years who have put in great performances for much less money. How is that Downey could earn so much more than a great actor from the 50s, 60s, or 70s?

We could give a simple answer and say something like globalization and technology, but that would be at best half right. Certainly many more people will be able to see the films that Downey acts in than would have had the opportunity to see the stars from a half century ago, but that doesn’t mean that Downey would get money from the broader exposure. In fact, a big part of the reason that Downey can collect huge paychecks is the extension and strengthening of copyrights. The United States has lengthened the period of copyrights from 28 years, with an option for a 28 year renewal, to 75 years in the 1976, and then to 95 years in 1998.

It also has stepped up copyright enforcement, imposing stiff fines on people who use the Internet to make unauthorized copies of copyrighted material. This is important, since the technology itself would let everyone quickly see Robert Downey Jr.’s new movies at no cost. It is only because of government intervention in the form of copyright monopolies that he is able to collect $50 million.

It is also worth noting that this intervention also has an indirect effect. If there was a large amount of high quality and recent material that everyone could obtain for free on the web (and show in theaters if they like), then no one would be willing to pay big bucks to see Downey’s latest feature. So is Downey worth his $50 million, perhaps given the structure we have, but we could easily have a different structure which could quite possibly be a more efficient way to support and distribute creative work. (Here‘s my scheme.) FWIW, a similar story would apply to the writers and athletes in Mankiw’s 1 percent defense.

Then we get to the CEOs who Mankiw tells us get high pay because of what they contribute to their companies and the economy. If this is the case, how do we explain CEO’s of companies like Lehman, Bear Stearns, and AIG walking away with hundreds of millions of dollars even though they drove their firms into bankruptcy? When the CEO of Exxon-Mobil gets hundreds of millions because soaring worldwide oil prices sent Exxon’s profits through the roof, do we really think the pay is a function of hard work? How do we explain the fact that CEOs of incredibly successful companies in Europe, Japan, and South Korea make on average around a tenth as much as our crew does?

That one doesn’t seem to fit the just desserts story. The more likely explanation is the Pay Pals story, where the company’s board of directors are paid off by CEOs to look the other way as they pilfer the company.  (See CEPR’s new Director Watch, which will feature your favorite directors in the months and years ahead.) Unlike the case in Europe, Japan, and South Korea, there is no force to effectively limit the CEO’s pay. Needless to say, the directors never ask if they could get a comparably skilled CEO for less money from Germany, Japan, or China.

And then there is the financial sector where Mankiw tells us that the extraordinary pay is compensation for the volatility of paychecks. That’s interesting, except the vast majority of comparably talented and hardworking people would be happy to get the pay the finance folks get in the bad years. Much of the big money on Wall Street stems from highly leveraged bets that beat the market by seconds or even milliseconds. This provides as much value to the economy as insider trading, which it in fact it resembles closely.

It would be interesting to see what would happen to the big fortunes in the financial sector if it had to pay a small transaction fee, effectively subjecting it to the same sort of sales tax that is paid in almost every other sector of the economy. It would also be interesting to see what would happen to the private equity folks if they lost the opportunity for the tax gaming that is their bread and butter.

I could go on (read my non-copyright protected book on the topic), but the point should be clear. If the 1 percent are able to extract vast sums from the economy it is because we have structured the economy for this purpose. It could easily be structured differently, but the 1 percent and its defenders aren’t interested in changing things. And the 1 percent and its defenders have a great deal of influence on the direction of economic policy.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/versailles-watch-john-mack-whines-badly-wall-street-ceos-treated.html
#guillotine