J.P. Morgan versus Jeremy Griffin

(Comment by Stephen, SAFE volunteer)

The Consummate American Capitalist

John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan was the founder of the Wall Street commercial/investment bank J.P. Morgan Co., known a century ago as the “House of Morgan.” He had his hand in the birth of General Electric, US Steel, International Harvester, AT&T, and the entire US railroad industry. The top-hatted banker in the game Monopoly is said to be modeled after J.P. Morgan.

After Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, the House of Morgan had to spin off its investment division. In 1935, Henry S. Morgan (J.P. Morgan’s grandson) and Harold Stanley founded the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

According to Morgan Stanley’s website, the late 19th and early 20th centuries were times of unregulated markets that allowed for incredible growth, profiteering, and cheating. But J.P., the website claims, would have none of it, demanding instead “trust, integrity, and honesty.” Jack Morgan – J.P.’s son and Henry’s dad – described his goal as “doing only first-class business, and that in a firstclass way.”

During the Civil War, J.P. bought 5000 rifles at $3.50 a piece and sold them to a Union general for $22.00 each. nfortunately the rifles were defective and maimed the soldiers using them. A federal judge upheld the deal on the grounds that it was a binding contract.

Doing first-class business in a first-class way, apparently, did not extend to the thousands of underpaid and overworked immigrants and war veterans who battled bitter cold and heat to lay 100,000 miles of J.P.’s railroad tracks.
Per the Interstate Commerce Commission, 22,000 railroad workers, mostly Chinese and Irish immigrants, were killed or injured in 1889 alone.

Recent Legal Issues (from Wikipedia):

2003: $ – Paid $125 million to settle a suit brought by several US agencies for providing ntentionally misleading research to win investment-banking business.

2004: $ – Paid $54 million to settle a sex discrimination suit.
$ – Paid $19 million in fines imposed by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for sundry rule violations.

2005: $ – Paid another $19 million fine by the NYSE.
$ – Florida Jury found Morgan Stanley guilty of fraud: total damages $1.45 billion. Overturned on appeal.
2006: $ – Paid $42.5 million to settle unfair labor practice suit brought by Morgan Stanley employees.
$ – Paid $15 million fine to Security and Exchange Commission for not cooperating with investigators and for deleting e-mail evidence.

2007: $ – Paid $46 million to settle classaction lawsuit brought by eight female brokers.
$ – Paid $12.5 million to settle a suit with customers who lost arbitration cases because Morgan Stanley claimed
e-mail records were destroyed in the 9/11 attacks when backup e-mails had actually been available at another location.
$ – Paid $4.4 million to settle suit for incorrect storage charges of precious metals.
$ – Fined $6.1 million for charging excessive fees to customers.

2008: $ – In court settlement with NY State, forced to repurchase $4.5 billion in auction rate ecurities that their marketing and sales department misrepresented.

2009: $ – Must pay $7 million for mishandling accounts of 90 retirees.

2009: $ – Fined £1.4 million for failing to control a rogue trader.
$ – Morgan Stanley’s managing director Du Jun convicted of insider trading at a criminal trial in Hong Kong.

2010: $ – Fined $14 million for attempt to hide prohibited trading in oil futures.

2011: $ – Department of Justice seeks $4.8 million in fines for price-fixing scandal costing NY State electricity customers $300 million. Morgan Stanley made $21.6 million from this fraud.
2012: $ – Federal Reserve announces consent order for “a pattern of misconduct and negligence in esidential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.”
$ – Paid $2.4 million to settle suit with US agency for inappropriate recommendations to its retail brokerage customers.
$ – Anticipating potential lawsuits in Facebook IPO, for touting this stock while secretly downgrading Facebook’s earnings forecast.
$ – Agreed to pay $6.75 million in fines for making fictitious sales in futures contracts.

Government Loans:

2008: To stay afloat when the banking industry was melting down, Morgan Stanley borrowed $107.3 billion from the Federal Reserve, the most of any bank.

Jeremy Griffin: The Consummate American Worker

For years Jeremy Griffin labored as an ironworker, a job involving the placement and tying of rebar, structural steel framing, for buildings, stadiums, bridges, and all sorts of civil engineering projects. The job requires reading plans and physically carrying on your shoulders tons of rebar each day.

After ten years working as an ironworker, Jeremy bought out his boss, starting his own business in 2008, just prior to the beginning of the Great Recession and the virtual end of the construction industry for the next four years.

His timing could not have been worse. Within months he was out of business.

After the stress of years of unemployment and underemployment, his life partner left him. Soon his mortgage went into default. Then in 2012, the construction industry started to awake from its slumber, and Jeremy finally got a job again as an ironworker setting rebar on a bridge near his South Park, Seattle, home. He told his bank, Wells Fargo, he could now pay his mortgage, but they were not interested.

Since the mortgage note was in Jeremy’s partner’s name, Wells Fargo wouldn’t talk with him, even though Jeremy’s name is on the deed and he had been the one living in the home and paying the mortgage. At the end of 2012, Wells Fargo bought back Jeremy’s home at auction. While Wells Fargo serviced Jeremy’s mortgage, the actual owner of the note was an investment bank called Morgan Stanley.

Recent Legal Issues:

2013: Jeremy has only been to court once – to save his home. Outside of issues relating to falling into debt, Jeremy’s only brush with the law has been an occasional traffic ticket. At his eviction hearing in King County Superior Court, he argued that Morgan Stanley should have at least had the human decency to talk, let alone negotiate, with him before throwing him out of his home. Morgan Stanley’s lawyer’s reply was that, human decency aside, “they were under no legal obligation to do so.” The Court found in favor of Morgan Stanley. Jeremy is filing an appeal.

Government Loans:

2012: None. (Before Jeremy went into default, he borrowed money from his family, but he still couldn’t make ends meet.)



Upcoming Actions:

Thursday, May 9, 6:30 – 8:30 PM: Shoreline Town Hall, 17500 Midvale Ave N, Shoreline (Meet up outside of building.): Town Hall Meeting with Sheriff John Urquhart: Ask the Sheriff why he’s supporting fraudulent banks.
Jeremy Griffin is appealing the King County Superior Court’s ruling that he must vacate his home. We will update you as we know more.
We are coordinating contacts with local media (If you have experience in this area, please let us know.)

If you wish to join SAFE’s Rapid Response Network (to be alerted as soon as we get word of the eviction), please visit www.SAFEinSeattle.org to sign up.

If you wish to be part of the 24-hour Watch Brigade on Jeremy’s South Park lawn to monitor any attempt by the Sheriff to evict, please also sign up on our website.

Monday, May 13, 4:30 – 6:00 PM: Stuff, stamp, and label envelopes for SAFE mailing to homeowners and tenants in foreclosure.

Three auction disruptions are scheduled: May 17 (for Larry and Flor), May 31 (for Jane), and June 14 (for Jen). More details in next week’s newsletter.Thursday, May 9, 7:00 – 8:30 PM:
Thursday, May 23, 6:30 – 8:30 PM: Northgate Community Center, 10510 5th Ave NE, Seattle (Meet up outside of building.): Town Hall Meeting with

Attorney General Bob Ferguson: Ask the AG what he’s doing to stop foreclosures and evictions. Demand a Moratorium.

This Past Week:

Sunday, May 5:

Covered Jeremy’s South Park home with huge banners and signs reading, “Eviction Free Zone,” “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and “Together We Can Fight the Banks”.

Continued building our Rapid Response Network and a list of those willing to monitor round-the-clock the Sheriff’s movements from tents on Jeremy’s lawn.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (NE corner of Graham St). All are welcome!

Questions? Comments?

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org.

Housing is a Human Right!

How the sequester impacts Washington seniors

WA Alliance for Retired Americans

Below is the Press Release that the Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans set to all Washington state media outlets today regarding the impacts of the sequester. 

Senators Murray and Cantwell Stand Up for Fairness

Today, the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts, the “sequester,” took effect and soon our community will feel the impact on education, health care, public safety and other critical programs and services. Congress had time act to avert these cuts that impact our country, including seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels, transportation services and the Social Security Administration to administer their Social Security benefits.
While key programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, are untouched by the sequester, these automatic budget cuts do affect other critical services and programs that impact the retiree community.

While Social Security benefits are exempted from sequestration, the Social Security Administration (SSA), which administers the benefits, is not. Cuts to the SSA budget will make it more difficult to pay benefits accurately and for mistakes to be promptly corrected. Two years of budget cuts and hiring freezes have already affected Social Security’s ability to handle dramatic workload increases, and the additional cuts required under sequestration will cause further erosion. Office hours nationwide have been slashed by 23 percent; in-person meetings and telephone interviews are significantly delayed.

Although it did not pass, we are heartened and grateful that Senators Murray and Cantwell displayed leadership and voted for the American Family Economic Protection Act yesterday, which would have raised revenue from the richest Americans and corporations who actually got us into this mess by requiring them to pay their fair share in taxes and eliminating tax breaks for corporations that send jobs overseas. For too long, the wealthiest Americans and corporations have enjoyed loopholes that have hurt our economy.

As we brace for the impact of the sequester, seniors and the Washington Alliance for Retired Americans will keep a close eye on future budget discussions and work to ensure that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not unjustly targeted to balance a budget deficit they did not create. It’s time for our country to balance the budget fairly and raise revenues from those who can afford it, not our seniors who built this country and the families they worked hard to raise.

We can balance our budget without asking the middle class and senior citizens to sacrifice even more for a problem they did not create. We can keep our nation’s promises to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Contact: Leslie Liddle, Field Consultant, 360-701-6615

Paul Cienfuegos on Community Rights Ordinances

Five minutes and 20 seconds. Grab a cup of coffee and give Paul a listen.

Paul and I agree on a lot of things, but we both start from the point that single issue activism is not going to get the work done.

Paul is a Evergreen State College (TESC) alum, here is Paul’s website. He has done trainings in Olympia and Shelton on community rights and helped Salish Sea activists shut down the biomass projects a couple of years ago.

Extreme Weather Events! Get used to them.

Lots of news coverage of Frankenstorm, but not much mention of the role that our carbon economy plays in the production of this storm.

Hey, mainstream media, can you say Global Warming?

Here is what Joe Romm has to say about Hurricane Sandy:

Why Hurricane Sandy Has Morphed into a ‘Frankenstorm’ — And Why We Should Get Used to Catastrophic Weather

Here’s how manmade carbon pollution is making many of the most destructive kinds of extreme weather events — Frankenstorms — more frequent and more intense.

October 28, 2012 |




This GOES-13 satellite image provided by the US Naval Research Laboratory shows the eye of Hurricane Sandy it churns just off the eastern coast of the US.
Photo Credit: AFP





What would you call an “ unprecedented and bizarre “ storm that is:

  • The “largest hurricane in Atlantic history measured by diameter of gale force winds (1,040mi)” [ Capital Weather Gang ]
  • “A Storm Like No Other” [National Weather Service via AP]. NWS: “I cannot recall ever seeing model forecasts of such an expansive areal wind field with values so high for so long a time. We are breaking new ground here.”
  • “Transitioning from a warm-core (ocean-powered) hurricane into an extra-tropical low pressure system, a classic Nor’easter, fed by powerful temperature extremes and swirling jet stream winds aloft to amplify and focus the storm’s fury” [meteorologist Paul Douglas ]
  • Being fueled in part by “ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast [] about 5°F above average,” so “there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain” [former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters ]
  • Also being driven by a high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland “forecast to be three standard deviations from the average” [ Climate Central and CWG]
  • “Stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural.” [ Bill McKibben ]

Read the whole thing? Good idea. Alternet is carrying the story, but Joe Romm sets up shop at Climate Progress.

Grand Jury Resisters Need Your Support

Friends are in jail. We don’t know how long they will be there. We don’t what criminal activity is being investigated that leads to these folks being jailed for refusing to answer Grand Jury questions.

Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

First they came for the anarchists….

Jump in, you can help. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Compilation Album Created in Support of Grand Jury Resisters

Musical Impressions has created a compilation album called “Black Clothing, Anarchist Literature, Flags, Flag-Making Materials, Cell Phones, Address Books, & Hard Drives” in support of the Grand Jury Resisters.

You can buy it here. Proceeds go to support the legal and material needs of those resisting the FBI investigations of anarchists in the Pacific Northwest.

Climate Congress 2014 – The Contract with Climate

The election season is in full hysterical mode. The dems are beating on progressives who are fleeing to Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson, the repubs are beating on the dems with all the corporate money and psycho-linguistic technology they can muster and behind the scenes somewhere we have a bunch of faceless (poor things, they don’t have faces) IT folks who are gearing up to do whatever they are supposed to do with the vote-counting technology to tabulate votes on November 6th.

Michael Connell will not be available to help with the information technology tasks in this election cycle. His private plane crashed and he was killed before he was available to testify about the 2004 Ohio vote-counting, “man in the middle” controversy.

There is lots to worry about in this election cycle even with the tragedy of Michael Connell’s death in 2008. But let’s get real, this election is in the can. Yes, we should all work on getting out the votes for progressive candidates, for local initiatives that might produce change, but the change is not coming by defeating Romney, the change is not coming in this election cycle.

Our best progressive shot happens with the mid term election of 2014. I believe we have three primary branches of govt here in the US of A. The judicial is captured by 4 solidly corporate, reactionary justices, with a conservative swing vote held by Anthony Kennedy. The remaining justices are solidly liberal, but are aging and out-numbered 5 to 4. This is the 5 to 4 court, not the Roberts Court. And it will be the 5 to 4 Court for a very long time. Right wingers do not have to control the Senate to keep a Dem president from appointing a William O. Douglas or Thurgood Marshall type justice to the Court, they only have to obstruct appointments in a manner that the Dems will never do to a Republican potus. Need evidence of that? Samual Alito? Clarence Thomas? John Roberts? Do these names ring a bell? Yes, the dems borked poor Robert Bork, but that was a long time ago and poor Robert Bork had served Richard Nixon too well. Robert Bork actually borked himself in the Saturday night massacre, he was just a late victim of that miserable public affair.

The pick at the top of the ticket in this election is a hobbesian choice. Both of the candidates are firmly in the control of the big money folks, the have-mores as George W called them. Romney might claim to be the candidate of the 53%, but that’s not true, he is the Emperor of Bain Capital. Read’m and weep.

Obama? Sad sack. I voted for him once upon a time. I didn’t believe in him at that time, but I was willing to give it a shot. The Dems are always saying, please, just give us one more chance. I thought why not? in 2008 and voted Obama. I wanted Dean or Kucinich, but the Bainsters who control our political system are not going to allow that kind of option, so I voted Obama. I used to say that the only republican I ever voted for as President was Bill Clinton, but now I have done it twice. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice… I won’t get fooled again or something like that, Bushisms are so complex in their inanity that they approach genius.

Here is an interesting video that makes the point that the electorate really is trying to choose between pepsi or coke for potus. Tastes better, less filling, tastes better…

Leaves a bad taste. Thanks to Slate, David Weigel, and Luke Rudowski at We Are Change for this work.

I will be back in a day or two to talk about Climate Congress 2014 – The Contract with Climate.

Top of the list? Carbon Tax, baby! A twofer. We jam the environmental destroyers, the petro-bainsters and we fix the deficit in one fell swoop. I love a fell swoop. If you are going to swoop, fell swoop, baby.

If you are desperate to get votes in the Obama column, go steal them from the Romney supporters. That’s a twofer, Romney loses one, Obama gains one. That is where the fruit is hanging low. Hang low, sweet fruit. Pick’m if you want’m.

Our Precious Freedoms

Three quotes for the day, courtesy Liberty Quotes.

“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.”
— Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910)

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
— Noam Chomsky (1928- ) American linguist and political writer, Source: Guardian, 23 November 1992

“I believe in my right to be wrong, and still more in my right to be right.”
— Owen Lattimore

Get out there, get it right. If change is coming, you are bringing it.

Chomsky on Anarchism

For folks with an open mind who want to know more about anarchism:


Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future


Noam Chomsky is widely known for his critique of U.S foreign policy, and for his work as a linguist. Less well known is his ongoing support for libertarian socialist objectives. In a special interview done for Red and Black Revolution, Chomsky gives his views on anarchism and marxism, and the prospects for socialism now. The interview was conducted in May 1995 by Kevin Doyle.

RBR: First off, Noam, for quite a time now you’ve been an advocate for the anarchist idea. Many people are familiar with the introduction you wrote in 1970 to Daniel Guerin’s Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, but more recently, for instance in the film Manufacturing Dissent, you took the opportunity to highlight again the potential of anarchism and the anarchist idea. What is it that attracts you to anarchism?

CHOMSKY: I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven’t seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else. Naturally this means

a challenge to the huge institutions of coercion and control: the state, the unaccountable private tyrannies that control most of the domestic and international economy, and so on. But not only these. That is what I have always understood to be the essence of anarchism: the conviction that the burden of proof has to be placed on authority, and that it should be dismantled if that burden cannot be met. Sometimes the burden can be met.

If I’m taking a walk with my grandchildren and they dart out into a busy street, I will use not only authority but also physical coercion to stop them. The act should be challenged, but I think it can readily meet the challenge. And there are other cases; life is a complex affair, we understand very little about humans and society, and grand pronouncements are generally more a source of harm than of benefit. But the perspective is a valid one, I think, and can lead us quite a long way.

Beyond such generalities, we begin to look at cases, which is where the questions of human interest and concern arise.

Anarchist banner
RBR: It’s true to say that your ideas and critique are now more widely known than ever before. It should also be said that your views are widely respected. How do you think your support for anarchism is received in this context? In particular, I’m interested in the response you receive from people who are getting interested in politics for the first time and who may, perhaps, have come across your views. Are such people surprised by your support for anarchism? Are they interested?

CHOMSKY: The general intellectual culture, as you know, associates ‘anarchism’ with chaos, violence, bombs, disruption, and so on. So people are often surprised when I speak positively of anarchism and identify myself with leading traditions within it. But my impression is that among the general public, the basic ideas seem reasonable when the clouds are cleared away. Of course, when we turn to specific matters – say, the nature of families, or how an economy would work in a society that is more free and just – questions and controversy arise. But that is as it should be. Physics can’t really explain how water flows from the tap in your sink. When we turn to vastly more complex questions of human significance, understanding is very thin, and there is plenty of room for disagreement, experimentation, both intellectual and real-life exploration of possibilities, to help us learn more.

RBR: Perhaps, more than any other idea, anarchism has suffered from the problem of misrepresentation. Anarchism can mean many things to many people. Do you often find yourself having to explain what it is that you mean by anarchism? Does the misrepresentation of anarchism bother you?

CHOMSKY: All misrepresentation is a nuisance. Much of it can be traced back to structures of power that have an interest in preventing understanding, for pretty obvious reasons. It’s well to recall David Hume’s Principles of Government. He expressed surprise that people ever submitted to their rulers. He concluded that since Force is always on the side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. ‘Tis therefore, on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular. Hume was very astute – and incidentally, hardly a libertarian by the standards of the day. He surely underestimates the efficacy of force, but his observation seems to me basically correct, and important, particularly in the more free societies, where the art of controlling opinion is therefore far more refined. Misrepresentation and other forms of befuddlement are a natural concomitant.

So does misrepresentation bother me? Sure, but so does rotten weather. It will exist as long as concentrations of power engender a kind of commissar class to defend them. Since they are usually not very bright, or are bright enough to know that they’d better avoid the arena of fact and argument, they’ll turn to misrepresentation, vilification, and other devices that are available to those who know that they’ll be protected by the various means available to the powerful. We should understand why all this occurs, and unravel it as best we can. That’s part of the project of liberation – of ourselves and others, or more reasonably, of people working together to achieve these aims.

Sounds simple-minded, and it is. But I have yet to find much commentary on human life and society that is not simple-minded, when absurdity and self-serving posturing are cleared away.

RBR: How about in more established left-wing circles, where one might expect to find greater familiarity with what anarchism actually stands for? Do you encounter any surprise here at your views and support for anarchism?

read the whole piece? Please do so. Time with Chomsky is almost always time well spent.

Michael Parenti on the Pathology of Wealth

Next Friday night, Oct 19th. Community potluck, meet and greet the author, book sales thanks to Last Word Books and free talk from Dr. Michael Parenti at 7 pm. Lecture Hall 1 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Parenti in Olympia

For more details, go to the Facebook Event for the People’s Movement Assembly.