Be libertarian one time? Is that the same thing as "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"?
Author’s note: I wrote this brief dispatch about my run-in with libertarian pro-marijuana activist/former judge James P. Gray back in March of 2011. But the piece disappeared into the black void of my computer hard-drive, and I forgot all about it—until now. I’m glad the text turned up, because Judge Gray’s sleazy efforts to bring lefties and progressives into the Libertarian Party fold under the innocuous banner of pot legalization is much more relevant today than it was 2011. After all, Judge Gray is now the running mate of Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is using the weed wedge issue to siphon off votes from Obama. —YL
I was passing through the Mojave Desert and by chance stopped by a local thrift store in Joshua Tree. I’m glad I did, because I spotted a book that I just had to own. At $0.50, it was priced to sell. And as you can tell from the title above, the book’s a classic. It’s bound to remain fresh and relevant through the ages—not as a useful guide to homeownership, but as a fossil record of the biggest real estate scam in the history of the United States.
A lot of people still wonder how and why so many millions of people bought such ridiculously overpriced homes and took out mortgages and loans they clearly could not afford?
Extra! Extra! Yasha Levine makes frontpage news in Victorville!
That’s what I kept wondering when I moved out to Victorville back in the Spring of 2009 to do immersion reporting from the front line of the real estate meltdown. Located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Victorville got higher and crashed harder, in terms of real estate, than almost any other place in California. It doubled its size to 100,000 in just eight short years, growing from an isolated hick outpost into a booming commuter suburb filled with the cheapest McTractHomes south of Fresno. By the time I got there, Victorville was a ruined city filled with empty master planned communities, some of them half built and abandoned, rotting dry in the sun. I spent nearly two years reporting on the real estate swindle out there, and I never could stop thinking about the central question: How the hell were people coerced into moving out here? Why would anyone think that buying a $500,000 house in a desert 100 miles away from Los Angeles be good idea, no matter what kind of loan deal you got or how booming the market. What kind of propaganda were these people subjected to?
Well, this book provides a part of the answer: people were explicitly instructed to do so.
The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner hit the front bookcase displays at Barnes and Noble in March 2006, at the very top of the real estate market and just a few months before the whole thing crashed and burned. Its main message was simple: If you take out a mortgage to buy a home, you will always make money. There is no way you can lose—no matter when you buy, how much you pay or what type of loan you get. And the kicker is: both the book and finance expert who wrote it were bankrolled by Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
This book is just one of dozens—if not hundreds—of similar self-help snake oil guides promising a sure bet system to get rich in real estate. But it’s a good example of the massive propaganda effort financed by Wall Street that was designed to funnel as many people as possible into the mortgage meat grinder. The book was packed with blatant lies that seem so obvious and even comic in retrospect. The book was not put out by some shady fly by night operation, but by a supposedly credible financial expert who had the backing of the most well-known and respected banks, TV networks and newspapers.
But the whole thing was a fraud, shamelessly boosted by some of the biggest names in news media—none of whom have been held accountable for their role in defrauding millions of Americans.
So let’s take a look…Crack open the book and turn to the introduction, it begins like this:
What if I told you the smartest investment you would ever make during your lifetime would be a home!
What if I told you that in just an hour or two I could share with you a simple system that would help you become rich through homeownership?
What if I told you that this system was called the Automatic Millionaire Homeowner—and that if you spent an hour or two with me, you could learn how to become one? [emphasis mine]
Would you be interested? Would you be willing to spend a few hours with me? Would you like to become an Automatic Millionaire Homeowner?
Interested? Intrigued? Want to know more? Well, turn a couple of pages and you get this:
As I sit here in August 2005, I have no idea when you will be reading what I’m writing. Maybe it’s March 2006 (when this book is scheduled to be published)—by which time the real estate market could be slowing or cooling down to modest single-digit annual gains (or not). Perhaps this book was bought by a friend of yours who passed it along to you—and it’s now 2007 and those once “certain” boom markets are going bust due to speculation. Or maybe the opposite has happened—interest rates have remained at historic lows, and home prices have continued their march upward.
In fact, it doesn’t really matter when you happen to be reading this or what’s going on right now in the markets. This book is not about the boom . . . or the busts. . . . What this book is about is the truth. And the truth is this:
Nothing you will ever do in your lifetime is likely to make you as much money as buying a home and living in it. [emphasis in the original]
What’s this sure-fire system? Well, it’s so simple it fits on the inside flap! Here’s how you do it:
What Makes The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner Essential:
■ You don’t need a big down payment to buy a home.
■ You don’t need great credit.
■ You should buy even if you have credit-card debt.
■ You can buy a second home even if you’re still paying off the first.
■ You can get started in any market-boom or bust.
■ It’s easier to be a landlord than you think.
Just a few months after the book came out, the real estate market went into a death-spiral. Victorville and other Mojave Desert exurbs like Palmdale and Lancaster were packed to the brim with people who followed this book’s advice to the letter. They took out no down payment adjustable rate mortgages, bought at the peak of bubble, had horrible credit scores, were struggling to make ends meet and were probably up the hilt in credit card debt. Over the next year and a half, home prices collapsed by 30% and just kept falling. By the time that I packed my bags and fled West towards the Pacific Ocean in 2010, homes that had sold for nearly $400,000 at the top of the market in 2006 couldn’t find a buyer at $50,000 or $75,000. People were kicked out of their homes, lost all the “investment” payments they had made on the loan and had to find other places to live—rental homes if they were lucky; their cars or tents at the hobo camp down on the banks of the Mojave River if they weren’t.
So the Automatic Millionaire was a bust—well, at least as far as the now-former homeowners were concerned. But as we now know, the latest homeownership craze was never meant to benefit the homeowners. The only Automatic Millionaires created by this book were David Bach and the financial oligarchy he served.
See, before David Bach began his bright career as a New York Times bestselling author dedicated to spreading the gospel of homeownership, he was a senior vice president of Morgan Stanley and a partner of The Bach Group, a wealth management outfit started by his father. Yep, he was born into it. Finance runs through his veins!
So it’s no surprise that both Bank of America and Wells Fargo sponsored David Bach and his revolutionary Automatic Millionaire Homeowner wealth creation system.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Joins with David Bach to Promote Shared Vision of the Lifelong Benefits of Homeownership to Millions of Americans
Best-Selling Author, Leading Retail Lender to Encourage People to Build Long-Term Financial Success through Homeownership
DES MOINES, Iowa – Oct. 28, 2005 – Wells Fargo Home Mortgage today announced a three-year agreement with financial coach David Bach, author of several best-selling books including No. 1 New York Times best-seller The Automatic Millionaire. The partnership is designed to increase the number of first-time, second-home and investment homebuyers and help homeowners best manage the equity in their home as an asset to achieve their long-term financial goals.
Yep, Wells Fargo is only interested in educating homeowners for the greater good. And the bank is not alone. Just look at all the smart people who praise and recommend his work. They wouldn’t lie, not with their reputations on the line!
Jean Chatzky, Financial Editor of NBC’s Today, blurbed: “The Automatic Millionaire gives you, step-by-step, everything you need to secure your financial future. When you do it David Bach’s way, failure is not an option.”
Fox’s Bill O’Reilly also endorsed the Automatic Millionaire wealth creation system: “David Bach’s no-spin financial advice is beautiful because it’s so simple. If becoming self-sufficient is important to you, then this book is a must.” Yep, this is the same O’Reilly who bashed homeowner “losers” who took out loans that they weren’t able to pay, and yet here he is endorsing a plan that says there’s no such thing homeowner who loses money. Wonder what kind of cut Bill gets off Bach’s loot?
He rips you off, puts you in debt and sticks by your side to help make sure you pay it off. What a guy!
So what’s up with David Bach today?
The man’s still doing regular TV gigs and giving financial advice to unsuspecting victims, including a weekly appearance on NBC’s Today Show. But he’s changed his racket: Bach’s no longer out to make automatic millionaires; these days he’s motivating debtors to get second/third jobs and convincing them to adopt austerity measures in their own personal lives. He’ll help you pare down your consumption footprint to the bare minimum necessary for physical survival. Yep, Bach’s our debt handler. His job is to make sure we peons keep making those monthly payments to Wells Fargo and Bank of America!
The day that degenerate shysters like David Bach are afraid to show their faces in public and feel the need to flee across the border is the day that we’ll know that we as a country are making progress towards a brighter future.
“The strength of propaganda reveals one of the most dangerous flaws of democracy. . . . that propaganda renders the true exercise of it almost impossible.” *
Ever since our launch just a few months ago, the SHAME Project has been running like a buzz saw through the media establishment . . . it just needs support from readers and fans like you to keep up the pace. Can you help? Contribute using PayPal or WePay. (more…)
SHAME’s recent exposé of Newsweek/The Daily Beast correspondent Megan McArdle went into great detail about her deep, close ties to the Kochs’ libertarian influence-peddling machine and her failure to disclose the connections. The most important thing you need to know about Megan McArdle is this: She is the only journalist in America whose byline has appeared on Newsweek and Atlantic Monthly cover stories, while at the same time is so close to Charles Koch that she was chosen to emcee the big 50th Golden Anniversary bash that Koch threw last year to celebrate the success of his libertarian think-tank the Institute of Humane Studies, the first of countless dozens of think-tanks (Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, etc.) that the billionaire oligarch controls today. (more…)
S.H.A.M.E. just published a brand new shill profile. Its latest subject: Megan McArdle, who was just hired on this September as Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s “special correspondent on economics, business and public policy.” In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s her in the image above, beaming with joy as Charles Koch’s party clown-for-hire at the 50th anniversary bash of Koch’s flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies. But more on that later. . .
McArdle should be very familiar to eXiled readers. Many of you probably first learned of McArdle’s existence more than three years ago, when she led a smear campaign from her perch at the Atlantic to discredit the first media investigative piece exposing the Tea Party as an Astroturf campaign funded by the Kochs and FreedomWorks, written by eXiled editors Mark Ames and Yasha Levine and published in Playboy in February, 2009. That’s when we first got to know the McArdle name too, and we were wondering then why someone who called herself a “journalist” would work so hard to discredit other journalists’ investigative work while defending powerful rightwing oligarchs, rather than the other way around. The S.H.A.M.E. profile on Megan McArdle clears up the air on McArdle’s long, deep undisclosed ties to the Koch brothers’ libertarian influence-peddling machine, and to the GOP activist community. Read the profile on the S.H.A.M.E. site or check it out below—we’re sure Mrs. McArdle will appreciate it if you do. (more…)
The S.H.A.M.E. Project had a great first month that’s exceeded our expectations—and we couldn’t have done it without help from eXiled readers like you. We figured that the first month would be a period of testing out both the material and technology, but what we underestimated was just how big the response would be. Already, of the three major media figures we’ve covered, the biggest name of those three, Malcolm Gladwell, has contacted us and is showing signs of cracking. (more…)
In the vast ecosystem of corporate shills, which one is the most effective? Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies. The master of this approach is Malcolm Gladwell.
Malcolm Gladwell is the New Yorker’s leading essayist and bestselling author. Time magazine named Gladwell one of the world’s 100 most influential people. His books sell copies in the millions, and he is in hot demand as one of the nation’s top public intellectual and pop gurus. Gladwell plays his role as a disinterested public intellectual like few others, right down to the frizzy hairdo and smock-y getups. His political aloofness, high-brow contrarianism and constant challenges to “popular wisdom” are all part of his shtick. (more…)
Six months ago, The eXiled announced a new media transparency project that would take our war against corporate trolls and media shills to a new and more effective level. The project is called “SHAME” and stands for “Shame the Hacks who Abuse Media Ethics.” Its goal is to expose and shame corrupt media figures, and make life a little harder for those who manipulate the public, degrade our democracy and help perpetuate oligarchy power, making their money by acting as covert propagandists for corporate interests.
The New York Times, 1971: “Traffic disrupters, your time is through!”
Today’s May Day protests are the first May Day protests on such a large scale “in memory.” Not that Americans have a memory to speak of. Here’s something to jar that memory loose: Newspaper clippings of the big May Day protest in Washington DC back in 1971, when federal troops and police herded 7,000 protestors into an open-air stadium prison.
It’s just past 2:00 pm out here in Venice Beach. The sun is out and a cool breeze is blowing from the Pacific Ocean. Outside my window, surfers are walking towards the beach . . . a young woman glides by on her bicycle in daisy dukes and a tank top. There’s a bum lazing around in the shade of a dumpster. But I can’t enjoy the warm spring weather. I’m quarantined in my apartment, my skin is crawling with tiny parasitic mites that have tunneled into my skin and have turned me into a giant breeding vat. I’ve barely slept in days, and I scratched myself raw. And I owe it all to Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa and the fine men and women of the LAPD. Not only did they throw me in jail for covering a political protest, but they gave me scabies, too. (more…)
“…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.”
—Arthur Young; 1771
Our popular economic wisdom says that capitalism equals freedom and free societies, right? Well, if you ever suspected that the logic is full of shit, then I’d recommend checking a book called The Invention of Capitalism, written by an economic historian named Michael Perelmen, who’s been exiled to Chico State, a redneck college in rural California, for his lack of freemarket friendliness. And Perelman has been putting his time in exile to damn good use, digging deep into the works and correspondence of Adam Smith and his contemporaries to write a history of the creation of capitalism that goes beyond superficial The Wealth of Nations fairy tale and straight to the source, allowing you to read the early capitalists, economists, philosophers, clergymen and statesmen in their own words. And it ain’t pretty.
Yesterday, our old friends the Koch brothers were back in the news. The DeSmog Blog exposed how some of the most rancid trolls in the world of climate change-denialism are on the payroll of the Heartland Institute, one of the Koch Cartel’s early propaganda mills set up during the Reagan Era. (more…)
So it’s back to the depressing topic of Atlantic Monthly blogger and paid PR flak for defense contractors, Joshua Foust–something I’d rather avoid, but the scumbags won’t let me. Foust and his minions have managed the impossible–they’ve outdone themselves in vileness; who imagined such a feat was possible? Ever since I exposed Foust as a massacre-denier defending the interests of Kazakhstan’s dictator for life, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and covering for Chevron, the biggest US oil company doing business in Kazakhstan, Foust’s personal web site, Registan.net, has waged a rank smear campaign against an heroic Russian journalist, Elena Kostyuchenko. (more…)
From Detention Camp guard to neocon troll, you’ve come a long way, baby!
(Updated below) Last Friday, The eXiled published Max Blumenthal’s devastating exposé (cross-posted from Al-Akhbar) on the intimate ties between the Israeli occupation security forces, the Bahraini monarchy’s democracy-crushing goons, and police forces across the USA responsible for brutally suppressing the Occupy protests over the past several weeks. As one might expect, the trolls are already out for blood. The Atlantic Monthly‘s former Israeli Detention Camp guard, Cpl. Jeffrey Goldberg, today posted a sleaze-hit on Blumenthal’s article. Since there are no facts in the story that can be called into question, the way they’re going after Blumenthal is by getting one of the sources to deny her quotes (or sort of deny, it’s hard to even tell now) which she had given to Blumenthal in an on the record interview. This would not be the first time a highly damaging and contentious bit of reporting, which contained no factual errors, was attacked this way: Ron Suskind, for example, suffered similar attacks in which quoted sources denied their quotes, in a campaign designed to undermine the damaging impact of his book Confidence Men.(more…)
Listen to eXiled editors Yasha Levine and Mark Ames on KPFK Radio’s “Beneath the Surface” with Suzi Weissman, as they discuss Yasha Levine’s arrest at the LAPD raid on Occupy LA and the appalling treatment of peaceful protesters he witnessed during his two-day stint in jail.
Yasha Levine was forced to surrender his freedom, as well as his shoe laces…for his own protection
I finally got home Thursday afternoon after spending two nights in jail, and have had a hard time getting my bearings. On top of severe dehydration and sleep deprivation, I’ve got one hell of pounding migraine. So I’ll have to keep this brief for now. But I wanted to write down a few things that I witnessed and heard while locked up by LA’s finest… (more…)
UPDATE: Yasha was finally freed on bail just a few minutes ago, after two nights in jail, He just told me he’s exhausted and yet still quite shocked by how harshly the protesters were treated after the embedded reporters were out of the scene. Yasha will write up more as soon as he’s back home and able to focus again.
Exiled editor Yasha Levine was arrested late last night during the savage and unconstitutional police crackdown on Occupy LA. We call on the police and authorities to release Yasha, and release all protesters and media illegally arrested at the Occupy LA encampment and illegally imprisoned merely for exercising constitutionally-guaranteed rights. (Update: Latest word is that Yasha is going to have to spend another night in the Los Angeles County jail, and will be brought before a judge tomorrow and hopefully released, as bail is currently set at an incredible $5,000. The National Lawyer’s Guild is calling this illegal and a violation of state law. Updates below.)
The irony of the LAPD arresting Yasha Levine–a political refugee from Soviet totalitarianism– for the crime of reporting on a demonstration against oligarchy power, a demonstration protected by the Constitution, reveals again just how depraved and corrupted America has become. (more…)
I spent this past Sunday night reporting from Occupy LA, along with at least 2,000 others who came in solidarity to help the camp stand up to a threatened LAPD raid. The defense of the camp, or the battle to defend it, started just after midnight and lasted until about 6 AM, when the cops finally succeeded in pushing people off of the street and back onto the sidewalk–just in time for morning traffic. That was the extent of the LAPD raid. In all, there were only four arrests and no baton beat-downs, pepper spray attacks, tear gas or rubber bullets. Most important of all, the cops never set foot inside the camp.
Poor Rick Perry: At last week’s Republican debate, he unveiled yet another “enemy” that a President Perry would destroy for America–but no one paid attention. Gov. Perry’s newest monster he’s vowed to slay is the TSA union, targeted for the same destruction by Perry as Social Security, climate change science, Iran, and three other federal agencies TBA later.
A friend of mine sent me this link claiming that UC Davis chancellor “Chemical” Linda Katehi, whose crackdown on peaceful university students shocked America, played a role in allowing Greece security forces to raid university campuses for the first time since the junta was overthrown in 1974. (H/T: Crooked Timber) I’ve checked this out with our friend in Athens, reporter Kostas Kallergis (who runs the local blog “When The Crisis Hits The Fan”), and he confirmed it–Linda Katehi really is the worst of all possible chancellors imaginable, the worst for us, and the worst for her native Greece.
Another Monday, another “deficit crisis” panic. If you haven’t got the feeling yet that you’re being played like a sucker over this alleged “deficit crisis,” then let me help you cross that cognitive bridge to dissonance. It comes in the figure of the recently-deceased William Niskanen, the embodiment of how Reaganomics and the Koch brothers’ libertarian movement were joined at the hip. Niskanen was an advisor to Ronald Reagan throughout the 1970s; a board director for the Koch-founded Reason Foundation; a member and chairman of Reagan’s Council on Economic Advisers from 1981-85; and he moved directly from Reagan’s side back to the Koch brothers’ side, as chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute from 1985 until 2008. This is a brief story about how the 1% transformed this country into a failing oligarchy, and their useful tools, starting with A-list libertarian economist William Niskanen, Chicago School disciple of Milton Friedman, advocate of the rancid “public choice theory.” (more…)
According to the press release, BofA’s Bankapalooza rolled through Los Angeles, Dallas and D.C., and was held for the benefit of America’s small business owners, giving them an opportunity to have a bit of fun while learning about the important role that massively centralized financial institutions play in helping small businesses succeed. And central to that effort was Malcolm Gladwell himself: (more…)
CHARLES AND DAVID KOCH are the most powerful right-wing billionaires of our time. They have spent hundreds of millions bankrolling a broad attack against Social Security, organized labor, financial regulations, environmental protection and public education. The brothers plan to funnel at least $200 million to elect right-wing, anti-government Republicans in 2012, according to Politico. They seem hell-bent on dragging America back to the dark days of unregulated capitalism. The history of their grandfather in Texas may help explain why. Because, apparently, it runs in the family.
This article was first published in The eXile on November 5, 2007 FRESNO, CA — By the time you finish this column you will be able to destroy huge buildings, kill hundreds of people in a few minutes, and strike terror…
I think I’ve finally found a religion I can convert to. I’m thinking of turning Sikh. And we’ll just slide right by all the puns popping into your little heads, if you don’t mind. The Sikhs are just the coolest warrior tribe around. Take their scripture.
This article is a War Nerd Classic Christians are stone killers. You put a Christian and a lion in an arena and I’ll bet Toyotas to Subarus the Christian’ll have the lion for lunch. Just look around you: lions are…
But let’s take the question seriously for a second here: who won in Iraq? To answer it, you have to start with a close-up of the region, then change magnification to look at the world picture. At a regional level the big winner is obvious: Iran. In fact, Iran wins so big in this war that I’ve already said that Dick Cheney’s DNA should be checked out by a reputable lab, because he has to be a Persian mole.
There are actual American heroes. Not a lot, and you don’t hear much about them, but there are a few. I don’t mean working moms who spend their Saturdays spooning soup into winos. I mean classic citizen-soldiers who get it right every…
Some of the weirdest, longest wars around have been on the other side of the Big River, but for some reason most American war nerds would rather read about Eurasian battles. Not sure why, except I remember when I was…
Ever since SHAME's launch just a few months ago, it's been running like a buzz saw through the media establishment . . . all it needs is support from readers and fans like you to keep up the pace. Can you help?