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How Does the 1% Exploit America? Find Out in 1 Minute (VIDEO)

3:52 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Even in an Occupy world, most Americans don’t know exactly how the 1% does what it does. The mainstream media hasn’t explained it, and the 1% likes things that way.

That’s why we’ve created a new video series unmasking those in the 1% who are exploiting the 99%—name by name, fact by fact. Each short video—one minute apiece—lays out the truth about a different tycoon. These aren’t opinions; these are facts, condensed into bite-sized chunks. Occupy has already revealed the country’s widespread outrage at the 1%; now it’s time for the plutocracy’s dirty deeds to be common knowledge.

The best part? Brave New Foundation’s audience chose the people we’re highlighting. We solicited suggestions on nominees, narrowed them down to 30, and let our audience vote on which ones they thought deserved to be exposed. The new videos represent five of the top vote-getters, with more videos on the way for the rest. Here’s one:

Of course, the 1% would like to keep its activities shrouded in secrecy. Hiding behind complicated phraseology like “collateralized debt obligation” makes it hard for the public to bust you. But you don’t have to be a financier to understand how these guys operate. Our first set of videos gives it straight on Rob Walton of Walmart, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Pete Peterson of the Blackstone Group, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, and Rupert Murdoch of News Corp.

Little by little, the 99% is chipping away at the 1%’s power. Watch the video series to get the basics on how that power is being wielded.

War Industry’s Accountants Can’t Count

2:06 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

The war profiteers’ shady lobbying campaign took another hit to its credibility today, as an accounting firm on which they relied to support their bogus “military spending = jobs” argument was cited for severe audit deficiencies.

As our new War Costs short video shows, the war industry’s Second To None lobbying effort specifically cited numbers from Deloitte & Touche to claim an inflated importance of the military industrial sector to the U.S. economy. This claim was part of their larger effort, thoroughly debunked by our prior work, to try to convince Congress to protect their gravy train from budget cuts by tying war spending to job creation. Their entire narrative is false–military spending actually costs jobs compared to other ways of spending the money.

Why war profiteers would even bother to cite Deloitte is frankly beyond us. According to Reuters: Read the rest of this entry →

In the lead: Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers

4:33 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

Rupert Murdoch (Image: sirenmedia, flickr)

Rupert Murdoch (Image: sirenmedia, flickr)

Our vote on the 1% has been vigorous since it started last week, with thousands of people rating nominees representing Wall Street, dirty energy, war profiteering, and more. We’re going to make videos exposing the ones our audience thinks are doing the most to exploit the 99% — and so far, the most unpopular of the bunch are media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the democracy-crushing Koch Brothers.

Murdoch, whom we’ve dubbed “the Propagandist,” has a net worth of about $7.4 billion and uses his right-wing media empire to put ideology over truth. One commenter at our voting website assailed him for using “sensationalism, fear, lies, and distortions to achieve” his ideological ends.

Charles and David Koch, “the Puppeteers,” are familiar to Brave New Foundation fans who have seen our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign, which details how their factories spew obscene amounts of pollution while giving them the wealth (about $50 billion) to bankroll groups fighting worker rights, climate change science, and Wall Street regulation.

We’ve got a lot of great (or rather, awful) nominees, but these two are in the lead because, as commenter Sharonc put it, “they foster and enable all the other people on the list.” On a rating scale of “ho-hum” to “pure evil,” our audience has given both Murdoch and the Koch brothers an average rating of…pure evil.

Who else do you want us expose? Which financial fraudster? Which big polluter? Which union buster? Which hedge fund operator? Tell us by rating our nominees.

Here’s who’s now rounding out the top ten — for now:

- Dick Cheney (Halliburton/White House): Did business with brutal regimes in Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Burma — then became Vice President and took a massive payday from his former company.
- Rush Limbaugh: Spews racist bile while making about $1 million a week.
- Erik Prince (Blackwater/Xe): Oversaw mercenary force that killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.
- Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs): Touted mortgage deals while privately betting $10 billion they’d fail.
- Rob Walton (Walmart): Busts unions and underpays workers yet has net worth of $21 billion.
- Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan Chase): Defrauded customers on mortgages, then took $25 billion bailout.
- Paul Singer (Elliott Hedge Fund Management): Buys poor countries’ defaulted debt for cheap and then forces full payment, plus interest.
- Angelo Mozilo (Countrywide Financial): deceived investors into buying risky “subprime” mortgages, leading to thousands of foreclosures and contributing to the recession.

The vote is far from over, though. Nominees like Darrell Issa, Pete Peterson, and Hugh Grant (the Monsanto CEO, not the English charmer) are nipping at their heels. But we can expose only the worst ones. Who will it be? Tell us.

Bursting Leon Panetta’s Spending Spin Bubble (VIDEO)

8:05 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Max Stanley

Leon Panetta becomes Defense Secretary and suddenly he forgets his experience as a professor and environmentalist: military spending costs jobs compared to other ways of spending the money. Still, Panetta pressures Congress to slash other spending that actually creates jobs rather than trimming a bloated war budget that’s strangling our economy.

Yesterday, Panetta defended the Pentagon from the Congressional deficit committee tasked with identifying at least $1.5 trillion in cuts before Christmas. As we’ve detailed, members of this committee are already on the war profiteers’ take, with Sens. Patty Murray and Rob Portman being favorites of military giants like Boeing and Northrop Gruman, for instance.

As Panetta lectures the chorus, and we’re seizing the mantle of responsibility and nuance with our latest video. If Panetta won’t be honest with Congress, we will.

The disconnect is typical of the way Washington does business: scare tactics, deceptive accounting and ultimately an redistribution of wealth upward toward deep pocketed special interests and away from those hardest hit by the jobs crisis.

It’s part and parcel of the military spending bubble, where defense contractors bundle money and talking points for politicians and bureaucrats who, in exchange, protect the blank check for their patron defense contractors. They cook up scary sounding statics around vague (and focus group approved) memes, when in actuality “military preparedness” is not something that can ever be bought and “averting a hollowed-out force” is Pentagon jargon for the classic college student cry of “Mom- need money please.”

This racket pays a nice dividend for multimillionaire CEOs of Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, but it’s killing chances for the unemployed and underemployed among us to find quality jobs in constructive and productive industries.

These politicians and lobbyists can’t grease the machine much longer. Anti-war protesters enhanced and amplified the war costs message during protests this week. And every day Panetta defends nation building abroad, the Occupy Wall Street movement and the demand for nation building here at home swells in numbers across the nation.

According to the Political Economy Research Institute’s (PERI) 2009 study, when you compare Pentagon spending to alternative or domestic programs like education, infrastructure–you name it almost– every $1 billion spent for military purposes costs us 3,222 jobs at minimum.

It’s not a matter of isolationism either like Panetta and his defense contractors like to say when they question America’s strength abroad. They belie the honest truth that ideology has no place in the conversation. Responsibility is about prioritizing and, in this case, whether veterans are entitled to a decent salary and standard of living after their service, or whether we’re going to continue to fatten the top 1% in the mahogany board rooms of cash-flush military contractors.

It’s about making choices that put people back to work.

That means telling the Pentagon they can’t fly troops around like Wonder Woman and telling teenagers there will be Pell Grants available for their college education.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. Every day, we’re exposing more of Panetta’s and the Pentagon’s spin. With your help, we’re building into the repository and hub of activism, insight and analysis.

Or as Gen. George Marshall of the famed post World War II Marshal Plan said: “Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.” Americans hit hardest by the jobs crisis are fighting their own battles here at home, and we’re standing with them.

It’s time Washington D.C. get on the right side of the line in the sand.

Lockheed Martin’s CEO Wants Your Social Security Check

7:27 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

The law that created the deficit committee also created a zero-sum game: Any expensive program that escapes the budget knife does so at the expense of cuts to other programs. If the military contractors succeed in keeping the war budget intact, they’ll likely do so at the expense of Social Security and Medicare.

That means money that would go to your Social Security or Medicare benefits will instead go into the hands of people like Lockheed Martin CEO Robert J. Stephens, who last year made $21.9 million, almost totally from taxpayer-funded military contracts. Read the rest of this entry →

The War Industry: Bad Job Creators, Bad Bosses, Bad Stewards of Tax Dollars

12:04 am in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

On Tuesday, the military contractors behind the “Second To None” campaign pleaded “no comment” to our War Costs campaign’s full-page Politico ad exposing the economic damage caused by massive war budgets. The same day, they announced a press conference and the upcoming launch of a national campaign to scare people about job losses if we cut the war budget. It seems like they had a comment or two after all. But as these companies gather at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning to frighten you into funding their trust funds, remember: military spending costs us jobs compared to other ways of spending the money.

These contractors will undoubtedly try to obscure the fact that every $1 billion of military spending costs anywhere between 3,200 and 11,700 jobs or more when compared to other ways of spending the money. They’ll probably also try to obscure the fact that because the deficit committee has to find spending reductions equaling a certain dollar amount, this is a zero sum game, pitting military spending against the exact kinds of spending that would create more jobs. If the industry is right, and we should be coming at the question of where to cut spending from the perspective of job creation, then we have to cut war spending because other cuts would cost even more jobs.

Reporters should also keep in mind that these folks have a history of fudging jobs numbers when they feel it’s expedient for their profit margins. For example, back when Second-To-None-backer Lockheed Martin was trying to secure additional taxpayer dollars for its F-22 fighter jet in 2009, the contractor grossly inflated the number of jobs sustained by the program. The actual job numbers should have been less than 40 percent of those claimed by Lockheed. When this industry comes at you with jobs numbers, caveat emptor. Read the rest of this entry →

Corrupt Contractors Make Their Move on the Deficit Committee

2:46 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Greenwald

The new deficit commission is holding its first substantive meeting on Tuesday, and the military contractors are out in force to protect their profits. They’ll be working to cash in on hundreds millions of dollars in campaign donations and lobbying spending, and they’ll deploy their favorite (and bogus) “jobs” spin. But members of the committee should not be fooled. The war industry is interested in one thing: continuing profits at our expense.

Join the War Costs campaign to help us fight back.

On Tuesday, a campaign called “Second To None,” backed by the largest names in the military contracting industry, is staging a “march to the Hill.” These contractors will be armed with fresh talking points and backed by 843 lobbyists (many of whom are former staffers of deficit committee members), along with deep campaign donation histories with the members. Every bit of this influence will be used to prevail upon the committee not to call for cuts to military spending in its final report to Congress. Read the rest of this entry →