Great Vampire Squid“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

That quote is journalist Matt Taibbi‘s take on one big bank, but what can be said of Goldman Sachs can fairly be said of any mega-bank operating today. Average people of the early 21st century are being sucked dry by “great vampire squids.”

For Big-Bank Management (as distinguished from that of your friendly neighborhood bank) each new year is the dawn of new opportunities to jam their “blood funnel” into any delusion that hard work and “playing by the rules” (as the president often says) will lead to an equitable economy. The new year resolution of Big-Money never changes, it is to begin the year in such a way that by its end it has sucked as many people as dry as possible by legally bribing as many politicians as possible in order to realize as many billions in profit as possible —no matter what. This is what our  campaign finance laws were written for. This is the easily foreseeable outcome of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United Ruling of 2010. 

There’s nothing even vaguely altruistic or socially conscious in Big-Money’s intentions. The planet, its beings —human and non-human— it’s resources, its future are all just fertilizer for its cash crop. Banks like Goldman Sachs and Wall Street in general, with the help of their governmental wings in Washington and state legislatures, perpetrated the great collapse of 1929 and did it again in 2008. These were catastrophes brought about not by “welfare queens” or people on food stamps, but were perpetrated by esteemed financiers with an over-weening sense of privilege and entitlement, without shame, selling things like junk mortgage derivatives to speculators.

There are good guys and bad guys in America’s class system. There really are “makers” and “takers” —as congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), conservative minion of great vampire squids, points out. But, contrary to Ryan’s scenario, the “makers” are not those jetting from lush hideout to lush hideout dribbling dough. The makers are to be found among laborers who pull stuff from the ground, make stuff from it, or grow stuff in it, while the takers are the ones who wring from that labor their enormous profit and (supposedly) sprinkle crumbs like fairy dust on those who actually sweated to produce it.

The Roman God Janus, from whom we get the name of our first month, is two-faced. Janus is depicted looking in two directions simultaneously, forward and back. Peering into both the past and the future at once he might be thought of as the god who sees history and, at the same time, its effects. In this he’s very unlike us who may occasionally peer into history, but if we do, promptly and stupidly ignore it. Our ruling class especially loves to tune history out because history is not flattering to it. But it’s not flattering to commoners either —we who, by the vote, distraction, or coerced acquiescence, sacrifice our collective power to the promises or threats of neo-noble vampire squids who suck it through blood funnels and run with it to offshore tax havens.

While we see in the news commoners being handcuffed and jailed for minor offenses, or pepper-sprayed away for simply protesting, the government can’t seem to manage to prosecute anyone for the fraud and theft of billions and billions that led to the bursting of the mortgage bubble blown by bankers and financiers in 2008.

For instance, the New York Times recently ran a story about the difficulties the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) is having bringing swindlers with titles to justice:

“Wall Street’s top regulator, sifting through the wreckage of the mortgage crisis, was weighing enforcement actions last year against several large financial companies.

“But then the regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, decided in some prominent cases to quietly back down.

“After many months of investigating the roles of Goldman SachsWells Fargo and Standard & Poor’s in troubled mortgage securities — and even warning the companies that enforcement actions were possible — the S.E.C. closed or shelved these cases and at least two others.”

As journalist Bill Moyers said (Aug. 23, 2013), ” We are so close to losing our democracy to the mercenary class, it’s as if we are leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon and all that’s needed is a swift kick in the pants. The predators in Washington are only this far from monopoly control of our government. They have bought the political system, lock, stock and pork barrel, making change from within impossible.”

This is the status quo. Only massive citizen resistance can hope to overcome it. We have two parties, both corrupt, but one which has wholly and publically laid it’s cards on the table. “We are the party of the rich,” they say, “Government should serve the rich first, if anything’s left over let it trickle down.”  Our oligarchs say this with every policy position, in every speech, with every action. There’s no subterfuge going on either, other that of the “social issue” distractions they’ve been able to pump up and pull off to great advantage. “Here we are,” they say, “our hearts are on our sleeves, and what are you gonna do about it?”

That should be our big 2014 New Year question. What’s more that question should be transformed into a resolution, an implacable determination not to be fooled or confused by red herrings of “socialism” or “communism” or “real Americans vs. the others” or “traditional marriage” or “the war on Christmas” or any of the false flags bought and flown by Wall Street and its political employees red and blue alike.

by Jim Culleny
for the West County Independent, end-of-year-issue


Defense of Jesus Act

December 7, 2013

I’m not a religious person, but I’ve got to say I’m impressed by one religious man named (at least currently), Francis. Francis is a Pope in a line of Popes with a checkered history. Some were as unsavory as many humans, others no so bad, but this one seems qualitatively different. He seems to take the gospel he preaches seriously. For a Pope to not only get what Jesus taught about poverty and money but to back that up in official pronouncements as head of the Roman Catholic Church… this is big.

Pope FrancisPope Francis, the former Argentinean bar bouncer (that’s what he says) formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio (George Bergoglio) said in a recent 50,000 word “apostolic exhortation” titled Evangelii Gaudium, or The Joy of the Gospel:

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will in itself succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

Yay! A Pope who disagrees with Ronald Reagan and all the woe his presidency introduced into the lives of poor and average people. Reagan, the decimator of the New Deal. Reagan, national debt builder extraordinaire. Reagan, the trasher of empathetic economic policy. Reagan, the loather of labor. Ronald, the great economic ex-communicator —the dark accolades go on…

Francis … George … whatever your name is, you are a breath of fresh air!

Some would disagree with the new Pope, but most who do have loads of money or work for people who have loads of money in the hope they they will have loads of money too; money to keep it as a hedge against falling into the pit of poverty Francis so emphatically refers to. Most who disdain what I call the Pope’s Defense of Jesus Act  are apologists for greed.

Take Rush Limbaugh who, despite his girth, is one of the smallest men I can think of —a twerp of enormous proportions; an ethical cipher with a grand diameter. Limbaugh doesn’t like what Pope Francis has said —which, considering the history of Limbaugh’s mouth, ought to convince anyone with even a shred of moral sense that Francis is really onto something.

Limbaugh said, “It’s sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth. But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.”

Which being said, might suggest that Marx (like most people except Limbaugh) may not have been all wrong. It might even suggest that Jesus, in his New Testament teaching about the poor and the rich, the hypocrites, the vipers, the morally degenerate living in whited sepulchers (references that can be found in the gospels) may even have some consonance with Marx.

In fact capitalism as practiced today is potentially (or inevitably) as bad or worse for those not at the top as communism ever was. With Limbaugh as one of “free-market” capitalism’s spokesmen and admirers, this is as certain as the effects of trickle-down economics with no trickle —what we have right now.

That “no trickle” part is the stickler for Pope Francis and is the reason for his pointed use of the term in his exhortation. Maybe if there had actually been some trickle, enough at least for the poor to slosh around in, the Pope may not have exhorted so. But he did. Francis went straight for the jugular of the sacred idea of conservative economic policy since Reagan, the one Republicans ooze about, the notion that “richer rich people” translates: “fewer-poor-people”. But this has not panned out if you believe the stats which show that the top 1% of the rich own 46% of the world’s wealth. This does not prove trickle. It doesn’t even prove drip. The wealthy are sequestering their ill-gotten gains like misers in caskets tufted with thousand dollar bills. This is what former bouncer Bergoglio (a man who remembers his roots more than many popes have) was talking about.

Pope Francis’ exhortation really was quite remarkable and, in case you’re inclined to misunderstand what he said he included this:

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality,” the pope wrote. “Such an economy kills.”

“Such an economy kills.” This is such a simple, straightforward and true statement (supported by economic statistics) it makes homicidal abettors of many of us.

The question it begs is, what do we do to repent?

by Jim Culleny
for The West County Independent