Dead Bankers Watch and Pistol Packin’ Penny Pinchers

File these under the heading of “Unbelievable, But Not Surprising”

Dead Bankers Watch

This site is following the current (until October)  tally of dead bankers, hedge fund managers, financiers and financial beneficiaries of TARP as funded by tax dollars.

Pistol Packing Penny Pinchers

It seems the senior Goldman folks are stocking up on firearms in order to defend themselves in case there is a populist uprising against the bank.

Okay, give me just a second to think this through…

Some disgruntled taxpayers decided to vent their frustration. The whole idea is a bit tacky and ham-handed. But as far as I can tell they are just blowing off steam; maybe engaging in a little Schadenfreude.

Now I’m not naïve. I’m sure Goldman Sachs has received quite a few death threats from the unwashed peonage, who under threat of incarceration, have always been required to pay their bills. The “help” tends to resent having the security deposit taken out of their pockets after the yacht club’s massive party (that the help was barred from attending) trashes the entire economy.

The Haves and the Have-Nots

The Haves and the Have-Nots

So how do the erstwhile gunslingers from Sachs’ imagine this whole thing is going to go down? Some mano a mano showdown at high noon? Saddle-legged bankers swaggering down a gritty Wall Street, taking on the dirty unwashed?  And in true Sam Peckinpah form, the cowardly bad guys having lost their dental insurance, smile crookedly; shattered yellow teeth glinting in the harsh sun of New York’s concrete jungle.

Hyperbole aside, consider the mindset of someone who would actually buy a gun to protect themselves from the envious and disgruntled poor. Forgive the obvious, but wouldn’t this be the same sort of disconnected and self-aggrandizing reactionary thinking that created the problem in the first place?

I mean, if one wanted to murder a financier, consider the exhaustive primer of imaginative murder porn that arrives free, fresh and bloody from the boob tube on a daily basis. Even if Joe Taxpayer isn’t clever enough to come up with a workable plot on his own, he has a ready supply of clever ways to do the deed with a simple click of the remote. How is a gun going to protect banksters from home-made ricin, GHB in their martinis, access provided by a hired driver or some freight elevator operator who watched his hard-earned 401K shrink into oblivion?

I have nothing against guns. We have 3 in our household; a pistol, a rifle and a 12 gauge. Guns are useful against specific, knowable threats. We keep ours in the event that rabid wildlife threatens me or mine. And given that one of my dogs has already had a bloody run-in with a coyote, we have no doubts about the need for a gun.

Regardless of what Goldman Sachs thinks about the gigantic underclass they have had a hand in creating, impoverishment does not destroy one’s humanity. It does not turn people into rabid animals. So in the end, Goldman Sachs’ gunslingers may not find the threats they face from the wilds of poverty so simple, straightforward or easily remedied.

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The Lie Machine: Rolling Stone Report on the Health Care Debate

The story here.

On the first day of August, a mob of 200 right-wing Texans stormed the parking lot of a Randalls grocery store in southwest Austin. They were united in a single goal: Disrupt the “office hours” that Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the district’s congressman, had scheduled for his constituents. The protesters targeted Doggett for his role in crafting the House’s bill to reform health care, brandishing signs that read “No Government Health Care” and “No Government Counselor in My Home!!!” But their anger seemed to encompass a universe of conservative fears: higher taxes, illegal immigration, socialism. The threat of violence was thinly veiled: One agitator held aloft a tombstone with the name Doggett. Screaming, “Just say no!” the mob chased Doggett through the parking lot to an aide’s car — roaring with approval as he fled the scene.

Conservatives were quick to insist that the near-riot — the first of many town-hall mobs that would dominate the headlines in August — was completely spontaneous. The protesters didn’t show up “because of some organized group,” Rick Scott, the head of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, told reporters. “They’re mad about the stimulus bill, the bailout, the economy. Now they see that their health care is about to be taken over by the government.”

In fact, Scott’s own group had played an integral role in mobilizing the protesters. According to internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights had been working closely for weeks as a “coalition partner” with three other right-wing groups in a plot to unleash irate mobs at town-hall meetings just like Doggett’s. Far from representing a spontaneous upwelling of populist rage, the protests were tightly orchestrated from the top down by corporate-funded front groups as well as top lobbyists for the health care industry. Call it the return of the Karl Rove playbook: The effort to mobilize the angriest fringe of the Republican base was guided by a conservative dream team that included the same GOP henchmen who Swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, smeared John McCain in 2000, wrote the script for Republican obstructionism on global warming, and harpooned the health care reform effort led by Hillary Clinton in 1993.