Tag Archives | Corruption

The U.S. Congress Does ‘Abnormally’ Well in the Stock Market

Monopoly ManThis should be more troubling, but it feels like business as usual in Washington. Dan Foomkin writes on the Huffington Post:

Members of the House of Representatives considerably outperform the stock market in their personal investments, according to a new academic study.

Four university researchers examined 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House representatives from 1985 to 2001, and found what they call “significant positive abnormal returns,” with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually.

What’s their secret? The report speculates, but does not conclude, it could have something to do with the ability members of Congress have to trade on non-public information or to vote their own pocketbooks — or both.

A study of senators by the same team of researchers five years ago found members of the higher chamber even better at beating the market — outperforming it by about 10 percent, an amount the academics said was “both economically large and statistically significant.”

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Stephen Colbert: I Don’t Want To Be The ‘Chump’ Without Unlimited Corporate Cash (Video)

StephenColbertSuperPACThis is brilliant. Looking forward to seeing how far Colbert can go with this. Ryan J. Reilly writes on Talking Points Memo:

Stephen Colbert doesn’t “want to be the one chump” without any unlimited corporate money going to his political action committee. That’s why he showed up the the Federal Election Commission building in D.C. to formally request an advisory opinion on behalf of “Colbert Super PAC,” a proposed independent expenditure only committee able to accept unlimited corporate, individual, political committee and labor contributions.

Accepting unlimited funding is “a right as described by the Citizens United case,” Colbert said in response to a question from Politico’s Ken Vogel. “I believe the Citizens United decision was the right one, there should be unlimited corporate money, and I want some of it. I don’t want to be the one chump who doesn’t have any.”

Colbert said he expected the FEC to take his request seriously.

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When No Experience Pays Off Big (In a Government Job)

Brian Deschane's mugshot

Brian Deschane's mugshot

Daniel Bice writes in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:

Just in his mid-20s, Brian Deschane has no college degree, very little management experience and two drunken-driving convictions.

Yet he has landed an $81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Even though Walker says the state is broke and public employees are overpaid, Deschane already has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.

How did Deschane score his plum assignment with the Walker team? It’s all in the family. His father is Jerry Deschane, executive vice president and longtime lobbyist for the Madison-based Wisconsin Builders Association, which bet big on Walker during last year’s governor’s race.

The group’s political action committee gave $29,000 to Walker and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, last year, making it one of the top five PAC donors to the governor’s successful campaign.

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Media Roots Interview With Cindy Sheehan

This is a special Media Roots TV interview conducted by Abby Martin with Cindy Sheehan, mother who has made the ultimate sacrifice and fearless anti-war activist. She relays her powerfully lucid point of view in a candid interview at her home on February 6th, 2011.

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Treasure Islands: The Murky World Of Offshore Tax Shelters

3446025121_072700607fNew Left Project sits down with author Nicholas Shaxson to talk tax havens — a mammoth system of quasi-legal money-laundering which has a far wider impact than we realize, with a large role in the global drug trade and financial crisis. As it turns out, the biggest “treasure islands” are not the Caymans or Monaco, but places such as the City of London and the U.S. state of Delaware:

There is no common definition of what a tax haven is. Everybody has a slightly different definition. Ultimately what a tax haven provides is escape from the rules and the laws of jurisdictions. Tax havens are also about ‘elsewhere’ – the laws of the Cayman Islands are not designed for the benefit of the 50,000-odd population of the Cayman Islands.

The traditional view is…palm-fringed tropical islands in the Caribbean, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein. Small states. But if you do the analysis of what a tax haven is and what they are selling, you will find that these small islands are generally sideshows to the big event.

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Interview with Brett Smith, Creator of 9/11 Movie ‘Hypothesis’

Brett Smith. Photo: Brett Smith

Brett Smith. Photo: Brett Smith

This is an exclusive Media Roots Radio interview with Utah based documentarian Brett Smith, conducted by Abby and Robbie Martin on February 23, 2011. In 2006, Brett’s love of films drew him into taking a film class where he was required to make a 15 minute short. That 15 minute short later turned into 40 minute documentary called Hypothesis.

Hypothesis is a documentary that follows physics professor Steven E. Jones during a pivotal time in his life. In 2005, Jones went public with a theory about 9/11 that was so controversial, it resulted in everything from hate mail, threats, and even bribery to try to end his research. Despite the outside pressures, Jones vowed to never give up on his pursuit of the truth.

Interview with Filmmaker Brett Smith, Creator of Hypothesis by Media Roots

The above timeline is interactive. Scroll through it to find out more about the show’s music and to resources mentioned during the broadcast.… Read the rest

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Caller Posing As Major GOP Contributor Dupes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Scott Walker is Mini-Mubarak!Well, we knew Wisconsin governor Scott Walker was morally and intellectually challenged, but a recent phonecall, as discussed in this expose in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides some dramatic new details …

Madison — Gov. Scott Walker, believing he was talking to prominent financial backer David Koch, revealed to a Buffalo, N.Y., blogger Tuesday his strategies to deal with public-sector unions and to lure Democrats boycotting the Senate back to Wisconsin.

In the 20-minute talk, he also likened his tough stance to take away most bargaining rights from public workers to former President Ronald Reagan successfully combating the air-traffic controllers union three decades ago.

“That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall in the fall of Communism because from that point forward the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover,” according to the recording.

He said he told his cabinet, “This is our moment. This is our time to change the course of history.”

Walker also discussed a plan to get his bill on union rights passed without Democrats who have boycotted the Senate.

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Matt Taibbi: Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?

White CollarI have been a fan of Matt Taibbi’s work for quite some time, looks like he is asking the really “big” question in his most recent article (one that Danny Schechter, who Disinformation has worked with, has focused his work upon). I encourage you to read this article in Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi writes:

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”

I put down my notebook. “Just that?”

“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”

Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail.

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Did Societies Evolve To Be Corrupt?

Riot PoliceGood question. Alasdair Wilkins asks on io9.com:

Corruption is as old as human history. For as long as people have organized themselves into groups with powerful leaders, those leaders have sometimes abused their power. But evolutionary biologists say corruption might actually be holding societies together.

That’s the theory put forward by evolutionary biologists Francisco Ubeda and Edgar Duenez. The pair used game theory to figure out why people cooperate to form a society even though the ones in charge are corrupt. The model they developed assumes that government officials and law enforcers — in other words, the individuals responsible for punishing noncooperators — can get away with a certain amount of noncooperation themselves in the form of corruption, and that they can sidestep most punishments when caught being corrupt.

Their findings make a lot of intuitive sense — most people will continue to cooperate to keep their society together, in part because they don’t want to be punished by law enforcers.

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