Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Rich white man declares victory for feminism

Here is Ross Douthat explaining why a billionaire, anti-choice zealots, and right-wing extremists hijacking U.S. politics is a victory for vaginas everywhere.

When historians set out to date the moment when the women’s movement of the 1970s officially consolidated its gains, they could do worse than settle on last Tuesday’s primaries.

I’ll give him points for a hilariously hyperbolic opening. Make your case, sailor.

It was a day when most of the major races featured female candidates, and all the major female candidates won. They won in South Dakota and Arkansas, California and Nevada. They won as business-friendly moderates (the Golden State’s Meg Whitman); as embattled incumbents (Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln); as Tea Party insurgents (Sharron Angle in Nevada). South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley even came in first despite multiple allegations of adultery.

But mostly, they won as Republicans. Conservative Republicans, in fact. Conservative Republicans endorsed by Sarah Palin, in many cases. Which generated a certain amount of angst in the liberal commentariat about What It All Meant For Feminism.

The question of whether conservative women get to be feminists is an interesting and important one. But it has obscured a deeper truth: Whether or not Palin or Fiorina or Haley can legitimately claim the label feminist, their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.

Yesterday, I wrote about media pundits’ propensity to portray the extremely old and familiar as fresh and exciting. They do this to sell papers, drum up website hits, and to appear insightful and necessary. Maybe a handful do it out of boredom, or stupidity, believing what they are seeing really is something revolutionary.

In reality, there is nothing more sexist than assuming any woman’s political victory — regardless of the type of woman — is a progressive step forward for the feminist movement. Women are people, and people are a diverse bunch. It still matters what kind of woman wins the election. And the kind of women that won these races are either preposterously wealthy, staunch anti-feminists, or a healthy combination of both.

What happened on election day is an old story: rich, mostly white, right-wingers won. Oh, and they also happen to be girls. Hooray.

Basically, it will take more than Douthat calling this a victory for feminism to make it so.

California

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay chief executive, won the Republican nomination for governor after spending a record $71 million of her money on the race. Quite simply, Whitman bought her victory, and this has nothing to do with the bonds of sisterhood or feminine strength. This is corporatism in a skirt.

In fact, Whitman herself seems to hate the notion of feminism. At least, she certainly doesn’t want anyone calling her such an offensive term. When asked if she is a feminist, Whitman replied, “I am a big believer in equal rights for all people … in a level playing field.” But she said, “I’m not a big label person.”

This could be NOW’s new slogan: Taking action for women’s equality since 1966…or whatever…we’re not big label people.

Arkansas

I know when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were taking on the male-dominated establishment, what sustained them was the thought that one day Blanche Lincoln (D-Walmart) would squeak out a victory despite being a corporate whore.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter than Lincoln is a turncoat Blue Dog Democrat, who voted with Republicans to allow warrantless government surveillance, the invasion of Iraq, and shot down the public option. All that matters is the stuff between her legs, which sort of goes against the whole notion of “feminism,” but nevermind. A girl won!

Nevada

And then there’s Sharron Angle. I’ve written about her support of the right-wing extremist fringe, but Douthat skims over such silly details for the sake of preserving his narrative i.e. Things Are Super Awesome For Women Right Now. He’s going to jam this premise down your throat even though women earn around 79% of men’s median weekly salaries, and Congress just passed a healthcare bill that dramatically diminishes a woman’s right to choose the fate of her own body.

Angle proposed a bill that “would have required doctors to inform women seeking abortions about a controversial theory linking an increased risk of breast cancer with abortion.” (The abortion-causes-breast cancer theory is a myth, and was spread, in part, to discourage abortions). But I hear lying to scared, pregnant women for the sake of controlling their bodies is all the rage right now in the neo-feminist movement.

South Carolina

Other than the novelty of having survived not one — but multiple — allegations of adultery, Nikki Haley is extremely typical of the right-wing fringe. She has a 100 percent rating from the anti-abortion S.C. Citizens for Life group, and she calls on her website for the deportation of illegal immigrants. Oh, and if any of her white supremacist base, who may confuse her for a “raghead,” were concerned, don’t worry. She converted to Christianity.

Modern Republicans have grown wise to the fact that they’re never going to defeat feminism. Try as they did to shame, humiliate, and dismiss feminists as a bunch of ugly, barren spinsters, who refuse to shave their legs and can’t land a man, the propaganda campaign didn’t stick. Now, they’re left with only one option: hijack the movement.

In the same way President Obama’s victory was a sign that affirmative action is “no longer necessary,” so the victories of a handful of women (be they billionaires, right-wing extremists, turncoats, or militant anti-choicers) herald the dawn of a new feminism: one that is staunchly anti-woman, and represents only a class of wealthy, pro-Business, right wing extremists.

(more…)

Viacom to Employees: Happy Holidays and Go Screw Yourselves

Posted in business, corporations, media by allisonkilkenny on December 20, 2008

viacom-logo-cloud-lgLate paychecks are always a drag, but they’re especially inconvenient during the holidays. A delayed payment of a week may mess up one’s checkbook, but try not getting paid for three months. That’s the position MTV’s Street Team found itself in this year.

MTV and its parent company, Viacom, are on a roll lately with mistreating its employees. First, Viacom announces the firing of hundreds of employees right before the holidays, and now MTV employees will have payment delays and hiring freezes for their stocking stuffers.

Sure, times are tough, but Viacom and MTV have an obligation to pay its employees, including MTV’s Street Team, which consisted of students and single parents.

This week, I received an email from a source, who has been working for MTV’s Choose or Lose campaign since January. My source signed a confidentiality agreement with MTV, and explained that they wanted to remain anonymous out of respect for their supervisors and the many hard-working MTV employees, who defended the Choose or Lose employees throughout this ordeal.

Choose or Lose employed 51 “Street Team” members, and intended to be a journalistic collaboration between the Knight Foundation and MTV. In the spirit of the participatory internet, Choose or Lose tapped every day folks to participate in their election-time stories. Street Team members were hired as freelance employees for MTV, and were not invited to become full-time, or part-time employees of either MTV or Viacom.

Choose or Lose employees initially received timely and regular payments, but this summer, the checks suddenly stopped coming, and didn’t reappear for another two and a half months.

Over the summer, employees were told that MTV was conducting a quarterly financial review, and that’s why their checks were being held, and in fact, all freelancer checks were being held. MTV supervisor checks were also being held during this time.

Finally, after two and a half months, they received compensation for back payment. The project ended in November, but the employees have still not received their $800 final paycheck. Internal e-mails alerted the employees that there is no definitive deadline for when they will receive payment.

This poor treatment of the Street Team is especially appalling considering the MTV Choose or Lose Street Team was part of the 2008 Emmy-Award-winning ThinkMTV campaign. An award-winning team shouldn’t expect a wealth of perks for industry recognition, but they should at least receive timely paychecks.

Like some more salt in your wounds? MTV is throwing an inauguration ball for Obama next month, and didn’t even invite the Street Team (that’s the Emmy-award-winning Street Team, mind you.) Geez, I guess corporate loyalty really is dead.

After that first initial contact with my anonymous source, my inbox exploded with angry letters from other MTV Street Team freelancers. The employees had to sign confidentiality agreements to work for MTV, so most of them requested to remain anonymous, but two brave souls stepped forward.

Nathan Leigh was the Street Team’s Iowa correspondent. He is going to the DC inauguration ball anyway, and he’s going to meet up with other Street Teamers, and he will be wearing a “WTF MTV” t-shirt proudly, and he says he we will be heard.

The late payments seriously messed with Leigh’s finances. “I had overdrafts and I’ve missed rent payments, but at one point our producers told us the money they were paying us was to be used for travel expenses and not our personal payments.”

Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought employees should expect timely paychecks from their employers, and they could use that money for whatever they want, including bread or electricity bills.

Christine Begay shares her former coworker’s outrage. The New Mexico representative on the team, Begay can’t believe how poorly the freelancers have been treated. “I am waiting on my last month’s paycheck, and also a travel reimbursement from when I traveled to Las Cruces, New Mexico to cover a story on immigration and the Mexico/NM border. I rented a car and paid for it upfront, which I agreed to, but I did not anticipate that it might be 2009 before I got my money back.”

Begay says the late payments have put a serious dent in her Christmas shopping budget, but they have also affected other areas of her life. “I think that a lot of Street Teamers have suffered, including myself, because we have not been able to pay rent, student loans, credit cards, utility bills, and car payments.”

Some kind of delayed, watered-down justice may be on its way for MTV freelancers. As stories about Viacom’s mistreatment popped up across the internet, Gary Kebbel, a Knight Foundation representative, contacted me to say that he had heard from MTV that the employee checks had been mailed off to the freelancers.

That would be great news for the freelancers, who ask for nothing more than their contractually promised payment. “It is just ridiculous the situation we are in. Throughout the entire project, we met our deadlines and had to abide by our contracts, or else we would not receive payment, but Viacom/MTV can do what they want and not meet their contractual obligations,” says Begay.

According to the latest news from Viacom, the money is in the mail. The Street Team will believe it when they see their checks.

Viacom representatives were contacted but did not respond to requests for an interview.

On Wall Street, Bonuses, Not Profits, Were Real

Posted in corporations, Economy by allisonkilkenny on December 18, 2008

New York Times

“As a result of the extraordinary growth at Merrill during my tenure as C.E.O., the board saw fit to increase my compensation each year.”  — E. Stanley O’Neal, the former chief executive of Merrill Lynch, March 2008 

For Dow Kim, 2006 was a very good year. While his salary at Merrill Lynch was $350,000, his total compensation was 100 times that — $35 million.The difference between the two amounts was his bonus, a rich reward for the robust earnings made by the traders he oversaw in Merrill’s mortgage business.   Mr. Kim’s colleagues, not only at his level, but far down the ranks, also pocketed large paychecks. In all, Merrill handed out $5 billion to $6 billion in bonuses that year. A 20-something analyst with a base salary of $130,000 collected a bonus of $250,000. And a 30-something trader with a $180,000 salary got $5 million.But Merrill’s record earnings in 2006 — $7.5 billion — turned out to be a mirage. The company has since lost three times that amount, largely because the mortgage investments that supposedly had powered some of those profits plunged in value.

Unlike the earnings, however, the bonuses have not been reversed.

As regulators and shareholders sift through the rubble of the financial crisis, questions are being asked about what role lavish bonuses played in the debacle. Scrutiny over pay is intensifying as banks like Merrill prepare to dole out bonuses even after they have had to be propped up with billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money. While bonuses are expected to be half of what they were a year ago, some bankers could still collect millions of dollars.

Critics say bonuses never should have been so big in the first place, because they were based on ephemeral earnings. These people contend that Wall Street’s pay structure, in which bonuses are based on short-term profits, encouraged employees to act like gamblers at a casino — and let them collect their winnings while the roulette wheel was still spinning.

“Compensation was flawed top to bottom,” said Lucian A. Bebchuk, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on compensation. “The whole organization was responding to distorted incentives.”

Even Wall Streeters concede they were dazzled by the money. To earn bigger bonuses, many traders ignored or played down the risks they took until their bonuses were paid. Their bosses often turned a blind eye because it was in their interest as well.

“That’s a call that senior management or risk management should question, but of course their pay was tied to it too,” said Brian Lin, a former mortgage trader at Merrill Lynch.

The highest-ranking executives at four firms have agreed under pressure to go without their bonuses, including John A. Thain, who initially wanted a bonus this year since he joined Merrill Lynch as chief executive after its ill-fated mortgage bets were made. And four former executives at one hard-hit bank, UBS of Switzerland, recently volunteered to return some of the bonuses they were paid before the financial crisis. But few think others on Wall Street will follow that lead.

For now, most banks are looking forward rather than backward. Morgan Stanley and UBS are attaching new strings to bonuses, allowing them to pull back part of workers’ payouts if they turn out to have been based on illusory profits. Those policies, had they been in place in recent years, might have clawed back hundreds of millions of dollars of compensation paid out in 2006 to employees at all levels, including senior executives who are still at those banks.

A Bonus Bonanza

For Wall Street, much of this decade represented a new Gilded Age. Salaries were merely play money — a pittance compared to bonuses. Bonus season became an annual celebration of the riches to be had in the markets. That was especially so in the New York area, where nearly $1 out of every $4 that companies paid employees last year went to someone in the financial industry. Bankers celebrated with five-figure dinners, vied to outspend each other at charity auctions and spent their newfound fortunes on new homes, cars and art.

The bonanza redefined success for an entire generation. Graduates of top universities sought their fortunes in banking, rather than in careers like medicine, engineering or teaching. Wall Street worked its rookies hard, but it held out the promise of rich rewards. In college dorms, tales of 30-year-olds pulling down $5 million a year were legion.

While top executives received the biggest bonuses, what is striking is how many employees throughout the ranks took home large paychecks. On Wall Street, the first goal was to make “a buck” — a million dollars. More than 100 people in Merrill’s bond unit alone broke the million-dollar mark in 2006.Goldman Sachs paid more than $20 million apiece to more than 50 people that year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Goldman declined to comment.

Pay was tied to profit, and profit to the easy, borrowed money that could be invested in markets like mortgage securities. As the financial industry’s role in the economy grew, workers’ pay ballooned, leaping sixfold since 1975, nearly twice as much as the increase in pay for the average American worker.

“The financial services industry was in a bubble,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’sEconomy.com. “The industry got a bigger share of the economic pie.”

A Money Machine

Dow Kim stepped into this milieu in the mid-1980s, fresh from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Born in Seoul and raised there and in Singapore, Mr. Kim moved to the United States at 16 to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. A quiet workaholic in an industry of workaholics, he seemed to rise through the ranks by sheer will. After a stint trading bonds in Tokyo, he moved to New York to oversee Merrill’s fixed-income business in 2001. Two years later, he became co-president.

”]Dow Kim received $35 million in 2006 from Merrill Lynch. [Bloomberg News]Even as tremors began to reverberate through the housing market and his own company, Mr. Kim exuded optimism.

After several of his key deputies left the firm in the summer of 2006, he appointed a former colleague from Asia, Osman Semerci, as his deputy, and beneath Mr. Semerci he installed Dale M. Lattanzio and Douglas J. Mallach. Mr. Lattanzio promptly purchased a $5 million home, as well as oceanfront property in Mantoloking, a wealthy enclave in New Jersey, according to county records.

Merrill and the executives in this article declined to comment or say whether they would return past bonuses. Mr. Mallach did not return telephone calls.

Mr. Semerci, Mr. Lattanzio and Mr. Mallach joined Mr. Kim as Merrill entered a new phase in its mortgage buildup. That September, the bank spent $1.3 billion to buy the First Franklin Financial Corporation, a mortgage lender in California, in part so it could bundle its mortgages into lucrative bonds.

Yet Mr. Kim was growing restless. That same month, he told E. Stanley O’Neal, Merrill’s chief executive, that he was considering starting his own hedge fund. His traders were stunned. But Mr. O’Neal persuaded Mr. Kim to stay, assuring him that the future was bright for Merrill’s mortgage business, and, by extension, for Mr. Kim.

Mr. Kim stepped to the lectern on the bond trading floor and told his anxious traders that he was not going anywhere, and that business was looking up, according to four former employees who were there. The traders erupted in applause.

“No one wanted to stop this thing,” said former mortgage analyst at Merrill. “It was a machine, and we all knew it was going to be a very, very good year.”

Merrill Lynch celebrated its success even before the year was over. In November, the company hosted a three-day golf tournament at Pebble Beach, Calif.

Mr. Kim, an avid golfer, played alongside William H. Gross, a founder of Pimco, the big bond house; and Ralph R. Cioffi, who oversaw two Bear Stearns hedge funds whose subsequent collapse in 2007 would send shock waves through the financial world.

“There didn’t seem to be an end in sight,” said a person who attended the tournament.

Back in New York, Mr. Kim’s team was eagerly bundling risky home mortgages into bonds. One of the last deals they put together that year was called “Costa Bella,” or beautiful coast — a name that recalls Pebble Beach. The $500 million bundle of loans, a type of investment known as a collateralized debt obligation, was managed by Mr. Gross’s Pimco.

Merrill Lynch collected about $5 million in fees for concocting Costa Bella, which included mortgages originated by First Franklin.

But Costa Bella, like so many other C.D.O.’s, was filled with loans that borrowers could not repay. Initially part of it was rated AAA, but Costa Bella is now deeply troubled. The losses on the investment far exceed the money Merrill collected for putting the deal together.

So Much for So Few

By the time Costa Bella ran into trouble, the Merrill bankers who had devised it had collected their bonuses for 2006. Mr. Kim’s fixed-income unit generated more than half of Merrill’s revenue that year, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. As a reward, Mr. O’Neal and Mr. Kim paid nearly a third of Merrill’s $5 billion to $6 billion bonus pool to the 2,000 professionals in the division.

Mr. O’Neal himself was paid $46 million, according to Equilar, an executive compensation research firm and data provider in California. Mr. Kim received $35 million. About 57 percent of their pay was in stock, which would lose much of its value over the next two years, but even the cash portions of their bonus were generous: $18.5 million for Mr. O’Neal, and $14.5 million for Mr. Kim, according to Equilar.

Mr. Kim and his deputies were given wide discretion about how to dole out their pot of money. Mr. Semerci was among the highest earners in 2006, at more than $20 million. Below him, Mr. Mallach and Mr. Lattanzio each earned more than $10 million. They were among just over 100 people who accounted for some $500 million of the pool, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

After that blowout, Merrill pushed even deeper into the mortgage business, despite growing signs that the housing bubble was starting to burst. That decision proved disastrous. As the problems in the subprime mortgage market exploded into a full-blown crisis, the value of Merrill’s investments plummeted. The firm has since written down its investments by more than $54 billion, selling some of them for pennies on the dollar.

Mr. Lin, the former Merrill trader, arrived late to the party. He was one of the last people hired onto Merrill’s mortgage desk, in the summer of 2007. Even then, Merrill guaranteed Mr. Lin a bonus if he joined the firm. Mr. Lin would not disclose his bonus, but such payouts were often in the seven figures.

Mr. Lin said he quickly noticed that traders across Wall Street were reluctant to admit what now seems so obvious: Their mortgage investments were worth far less than they had thought.

“It’s always human nature,” said Mr. Lin, who lost his job at Merrill last summer and now works at RRMS Advisors, a consulting firm that advises investors in troubled mortgage investments. “You want to pull for the market to do well because you’re vested.”

But critics question why Wall Street embraced the risky deals even as the housing and mortgage markets began to weaken.

“What happened to their investments was of no interest to them, because they would already be paid,” said Paul Hodgson, senior research associate at the Corporate Library, a shareholder activist group. Some Wall Street executives argue that paying a larger portion of bonuses in the form of stock, rather than in cash, might keep employees from making short-sighted decision. But Mr. Hodgson contended that would not go far enough, in part because the cash rewards alone were so high. Mr. Kim, for example, was paid a total of $116.6 million in cash and stock from 2001 to 2007. Of that, $55 million was in cash, according to Equilar.

Leaving the Scene

As the damage at Merrill became clear in 2007, Mr. Kim, his deputies and finally Mr. O’Neal left the firm. Mr. Kim opened a hedge fund, but it quickly closed. Mr. Semerci and Mr. Lattanzio landed at a hedge fund in London.

All three departed without collecting bonuses in 2007. Mr. O’Neal, however, got even richer by leaving Merrill Lynch. He was awarded an exit package worth $161 million.

Clawing back the 2006 bonuses at Merrill would not come close to making up for the company’s losses, which exceed all the profits that the firm earned over the previous 20 years. This fall, the once-proud firm was sold to Bank of America, ending its 94-year history as an independent firm.

Mr. Bebchuk of Harvard Law School said investment banks like Merrill were brought to their knees because their employees chased after the rich rewards that executives promised them.

“They were trying to get as much of this or that paper, they were doing it with excitement and vigor, and that was because they knew they would be making huge amounts of money by the end of the year,” he said.

 

Balls of Steel: Merrill Lynch CEO Asks For $10 Million Bonus

Posted in corporations by allisonkilkenny on December 8, 2008

TheStreet.com

"I'd like more money, please."

"I'd like more money, please."

Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the securities firm’s compensation committee is resisting his request, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the situation.

The committee and full board are scheduled to meet Monday to hear Thain’s formal bonus recommendations for himself and other senior executives of the New York company. The compensation committee is leaning toward denying the executives bonuses for this year, the Journal reports.

Shareholders of Merrill Lynch on Friday approved the securities firm’s acquisition by Bank of America to create the nation’s largest financial services company.

Thain argues he was instrumental in averting what could have been a larger crisis at the firm by contacting Bank of America about a tie-up, the same day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, the newspaper reports.

Members of Merrill’s compensation committee agree with Thain that the takeover was in shareholders’ best interest, but are weighing the fact that other Wall Street firms, such as Goldman Sachs, aren’t giving out bonuses to top executives, the Journal reports.

Once the merger of Bank of America and Merrill is completed, Thain will be in charge of the combined company’s global banking, securities and wealth management businesses. He won’t join the board of Bank of America.

Huffington Post

Reuters points out that several other Wall Street firms –including Goldman Sachs, which did better than Merrill this year– will not be giving out bonuses to top executives this year. Though Thain’s company was sold to Bank of America this year, Thain argued that it could have been worse.

Thain has said he deserves a bonus because he helped avert what could have been a much larger crisis at the firm, people familiar with his thinking told the WSJ.
Members of Merrill’s compensation committee agree with Thain that the takeover is in shareholders’ best interest, but believe it would be foolish to ignore strong public sentiment against large compensation packages, the paper said, citing people familiar with their thinking.

 
Thane will stay with the company following the merger, Bank of America has said. Thane, for his part, has predicted that “thousands” of other Merrill jobs will be lost in the wake of the merger.

Boston Tea Party 2008

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on October 16, 2008

For years, colonialists have been angered by the policy of taxation without representation. The famous protester, John Hancock, arranges a boycott of the large company British East India

Terrorists

Terrorists

Company. Hancock begins to smuggle tea into the country illegally without paying taxes. Britain responds by allowing the East Tea Company to sell directly to the colonies thereby undercutting the profits of smugglers.

The East Tea Company is aided by lobbyists and powerful members of Parliament. The smugglers, including Samuel Adams and John Hancock, call for East Tea Company colonial employees to abandon their jobs.

Meanwhile, in an underground cellar in a Bostonian pub, the Sons of Liberty, the secret organization of American Patriots, are detained by British guards. Unbeknown to SoL members, they had been infiltrated by British spies, who have been reporting the group’s activities to His Majesty for the past five months. The Sons of Liberty are now a “terrorist organization,” and the members are arrested. The group is never able to meet Adams and Hancock at the harbor in order to dump the tea.

Undeterred, Adams and Hancock decide to dump the tea themselves. The Revolutionaries don war paint and feathers and sneak toward the ship. They are immediately stopped by Captain Roach and the royal governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson.

Hutchinson: Where’s your permit?

Adams: Our what?

Hutchinson: Your permit. You need a permit to protest here.

Hancock: Well, we didn’t have time to apply for one. Drastic times call for drastic measures, you know.

Adams: Anyway, there’s really no permit available for what we want to do…

Hutchinson: Which is what?

Adams
: Dump the East Tea Company’s tea.

Roach: Good heavens! That’s positively Revolutionary!

Adams: That’s sort of the idea, yeah…

Hutchinson: You don’t really intend to break the law, do you?

Adams: Indeed.

Roach: Jesus H. Christ! The absolute Gall!

Hutchinson: No go. Sorry.

Hancock: Oh, C’mon!

Hutchinson
: Nope. No.

Hancock: C’moooooon!

Hutchinson: Tell you what: You can throw one tea bag into the harbor, but only one of you can go onto the ship. And you can’t make any noise. And take off those silly costumes. And the other one of you has to wait in a little pen I will construct out of wood and some mud. And did I mention you mustn’t raise your voice, or I will fine you a week’s wages?

(Enter stage left): A man appears from the shadows, scribbling furiously on parchment.

Man: Thomas Paine: citizen journalist! Are you repressing their right to freedom of expression?!

Hutchinson: (Tasers Paine)

Roach: That freedom doesn’t exist yet, punk. (Kicks Paine in the kidney)

Paine: (Cries in pain)

Adams: Holy crap!

Hutchinson: So what were you boys saying?

Adams and Hancock: Nothing! Nothing….

Adams and Hancock back away, hands held up in surrender before they turn and run away.

END SCENE

Americans take for granted their rights to taxation with representation, to protest, and to maintain certain human dignities. Oftentimes, they forget that the founding fathers were radicals, who broke the law, and faced the possibility of execution as they thumbed their noses at King George.

The $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street is exactly the kind of taxation without representation that the founding fathers fought to reject over 200 years ago. Taxpayers, who had no control over predatory lending and shady deregulation, are now responsible for paying the bill while CEOs jump out of windows with their golden parachutes strapped safely to their backs.

At today’s Wall Street protest, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzales, the Independent party presidential and vice-presidential nominees, called for the immediate termination of this taxpayer bailout. Just as the founding fathers rejected the tyrannical reign of King George, so Nader/Gonzales reject the tyrannical reign of George W. Bush and his corporate cronies.

In none of the presidential debates have either Barack Obama or John McCain called the bailout exactly what it is — the bailout of Capitalism and the unfair continuation of socialized debt with privatized profit.

Reaction to the worsening state of the economy has been tame for obvious reasons. The protest of America’s forefathers would be impossible today as illustrated in the fantasy Boston Tea Party above. Protesters would be immediately arrested and incarcerated if they took to Wall Street and lit Federal Hall ablaze. That kind of behavior would be called radical, Anarchist, and obscene.

So it’s too much to ask for a revolution, but at the least, politicians should speak frankly about the hold corporations and crooked Capitalism have on the country. The media has performed a blackout on third party candidates during this sham of an election, which is entirely financed by corporations like AT&T and Wachovia.

Americans can’t expect to have a frank and honest discussion about Constitutional violations (like wiretapping) and taxpayer bailouts of banks when the sponsors of their debates are the very entities under scrutiny: the phone companies and the banks. This is like asking McDonald’s to finance health education programs. Sponsoring debates about their own failings would work against the interests of these corporations, which is why there has been zero talk about wiretapping phones and the faltering of Free Trade policies.

For the sake of the American spirit, citizens must summon the same outrage felt that day on 1773. Citizens must reject the bailout, the neutered election process, and they must open the debates to third party candidates in order to reinvigorate the environment of passionate discussion missing in this 2008 election. Nearly half of the American people think Ralph Nader should be allowed in the presidential debates. They long to see the candidates challenged on issues like universal health care and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, instead of the normal, bland repeating of tired stump speeches. Now is the time to reinvigorate the American political process, and the first step is letting third party candidates into the debates.

Sarah Palin Hosting SNL = Lunacy

Posted in media by allisonkilkenny on October 14, 2008

From MCM:

The New York Post is reporting that Palin’s appearance (on Saturday Night Live) Oct. 25 is signed, sealed, and delivered.

If this is indeed true, it’s outrageous. I seriously doubt NBC plans on affording Biden or Gonzales the same privilege of getting free face-time on a national network on public airwaves.

NBC, and its parent company GE, are allowing Sarah Palin to perform this ridiculous PR stunt even though she parrots hateful ideologies, including forcing rape victims to pay for their own rape kit.

Also? She thinks Jesus is coming back to Earth…soon! And she’s running for the second highest seat in the land.

Which brings me to my theoretic question: If we (Jamie and I) were to organize a protest of Sarah Palin’s hosting of SNL in NYC, who could come out?

We’re not talking about standing outside in the dark with our little signs. We’re going to stand in line, get into the live taping, and then take turns yelling our slogans throughout the night, so even if a handfull of us get kicked out, there are more people scattered throughout the place to make the entire hour-long taping complete and utter hell, and the footage unusable.

Now, having said that, we have a source on the SNL staff, who tells us he doesn’t think Sarah Palin will actually be used. This is great news, and here is how you can prevent her from even getting her painted clown face on TV:

Call and complain. Say you find Sarah Palin’s rhetoric hateful and offensive, and you will stop watching SNL if Lauren Michaels (SNL producer) allows this divise, monstrous character to parade around on network television.

NBC: 212-664-4444
General Electric (NBC parent company): 212-575-6000, or 1-800-626-2000

Here’s the contact info for Lorne Michaels’ SNL production company: (212) 265-7600

This is NOT a free speech issue. The airwaves belong to the public, and NBC is not affording equal face time to the political parties. SNL has been accused of being too liberal, and now GE is pressuring the staff to “even things out” by having Palin on their show. It’s bullshit.

IF YOU CAN COME TO THE PROTEST, PLEASE CONTACT ME

If this happens, it would be October 25. We will probably only be able to receieve stand-by tickets, so you will need to arrive by 7 a.m. on the morning of the taping under the “NBC Studios” marquee on the 50th St. side of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Again, ideally we don’t want her on the show AT ALL, so call the above numbers, and I’ll keep you all posted