October 20, 2011
The Ulsterman Report
Our latest interview with a longtime Wall Street Insider reveals details of a troubling Obama White House stance against Wall Street executives voicing concern over the now daily violence permeating the Occupy Wall Street movement – and a belief the Obama administration may be actively engaged in helping create that conflict.
Ulsterman: This is the first time you contacted me instead of me contacting you to speak – why the change?
WSI: Things have become much more…serious. This occupy thing…it’s getting…I have never considered myself one for conspiracy, but what I am being told is happening with these protests has left me quite stunned and quite concerned. Even more than just a week prior.
Ulsterman: And what is that? What have you heard?
WSI: A number of calls were made. Direct to the White House. People with considerable influence…people who supported the president in 2008. People who don’t wish to see events spiral out of control here.
Ulsterman: Did they speak to the Obama? President Obama?
WSI: I don’t believe so – not directly. I am told the president no longer engages in direct communication with most of us anymore. His advisers have declared war on Wall Street. Open war. That is what much of what you see going on down there represents. And the Obama White House…sadly…they are behind much of it. They and their union associates.
Ulsterman: Who did they speak to? At the White House?
WSI: I don’t know. What I do know is the message that came back to them was…unfavorable. Certainly very inconsiderate to the concerns of these events unfolding into something terribly violent and increasingly dangerous to a lot of people working and living in this city. And it could very well spread across the country. It’s already started in other parts of the world of course – the violence. The instability to the system. The Obama White House wants us gone. All of us. Anyone of us not fully supportive of his policies.
Ulsterman: What do you mean “gone”?
WSI: Just what I stated. Gone. Out of the way. Our ability to make a living eliminated. The system as we know it…the foundational freedoms of the free market…they consider it a burden. A problem. Something that needs to be redefined where government controls every critical component of the system. In essence, they want the end of capitalism. I know that has been said before, and I was among those who would roll their eyes at such an accusation against President Obama. Call me a believer now. What is being told to me…to others whose livelihood had been working within the current system – the situation is growing very dire. Very dangerous. I am not saying I fear for my life necessarily…it’s not that. It’s that I fear for this country’s way of life. I have never felt it to have been in so much danger as I do so right now. And it’s moving quickly – very quickly in a direction I think very few wish to comprehend.
Ulsterman: When we spoke last time you sounded so confident. You said you were going to pick up a broom – I believe that’s how you put it. Pick up a broom and sweep the protesters out of the park. Why the change in tone? And so quickly.
WSI: To my credit, that is exactly what was about to happen within days of my telling you that, correct? The protesters were given notice. The park was in fact scheduled to be cleaned. I knew of that intention. Then…the cleaning was delayed. That was followed by an immediate response from protesters toward more violent actions. Do you know there was an employee – a person working for one of the firms, injured by a group of protesters a short time ago? They were accosted. Made the mistake of trying to intellectually challenge the protesters – ask them why they were doing what they were doing. They were pushed, shoved down, scraped up. The firm…the firm decided to not make the altercation public for fear of reprisal by the mob. No charges. No media reporting on the incident. No consequences to those who attacked the individual. The space between that event and all out chaos is a very-very narrow one indeed. The message is going out to these people – these so called protesters…go ahead and attack. There will be no consequence. Attack.
Ulsterman: Who is giving them those – not sure what you would call it…those orders?
WSI: Officially it starts at the administration, who in turn have been told by the union leadership to not only stand down, but to lend support to the protests. That to not lend support to the movement would prove politically…uncomfortable to them. To the Obama White House.
Ulsterman: You still believe the unions are the primary force behind this Occupy Wall Street thing?
WSI: Absolutely. There are other groups…fringe groups, who have attached themselves to it of course, but in the end, it is Big Labor who are calling the shots, funding, providing pressure to the media, to the administration, to law enforcement…they are the ones pulling the strings on these events.
Ulsterman: You really believe unions have become that powerful?
WSI: When you have the full backing of the Executive Branch of the United States government…yes I do. And I don’t believe it – I know it to be so. We spoke of what happened with the auto industry. The bailout that went to the unions at the expense of the bond holders. A long history of financial precedence simply turned away by this administration. We have spoken of – you have reported on, the fraud inherent in the stimulus funding. Billions upon billions that went to organized labor. Unions are holding a gun to the head of America’s free market system and they appear increasingly willing to pull the trigger. These protests are an extension of that willingness. When Wall Street – some of us, began to indicate we would not be supporting the president’s re-election in 2012…some in the White House took that as an act of war against them. This started well over a year ago you know. What you see happening down there…those silly people being used as pawns…it is a form of punishment and intimidation against Wall Street for speaking to concerns surrounding the administration. But I now fear the punishment initially intended has grown far beyond the borders of that intent. The monster is overcoming its master, as is so often the case. And this White House is ok with that. They have been told…this is my own speculation here…they have been told to let it happen.
Ulsterman: What? Let what happen?
WSI: The violence that is coming. What some want to see happen. As I told you, the tone that came back from those calls made to the White House – it was…oddly indifferent. That indifference tells me they have decided to push these protests to the brink. I don’t entirely understand why…why they would be willing to do so – and that frightens me.
Ulsterman: You are saying the Obama White House wants violence to break out in New York? Throughout the country?
WSI: I am saying that such violence is going to likely happen – the foundation has now been laid out for that kind of thing, and the administration appears…disinterested in the preventions of that violence. If anything, they are promoting it to some degree. They are being clever about it of course – but there has been absolutely no denouncement from the White House of what is going on down there. Nothing. Only support. Only encouragement. Even as they are receiving word of the dangers, of the altercations, of the potential for greater violence – the Obama White House only offers its support of these events. Why is that? What is their purpose? ZuccottiPark should have been cleared last week. To have backed down only lent more courage to these protesters. It made them increasingly volatile. Now if there is a move by law enforcement against the protesters, the dangers will be greatly increased than just a week ago. The violence will be much-much worse. Police will be harmed. Citizens will be harmed. Businesses harmed. Why would the White House appear intent on seeing that happen?
Ulsterman: You were rattled when the order to clean the park was delayed. Some powerful people were ignored on that, weren’t they? You discovered Wall Street was no longer in control here. Isn’t that right?
WSI: (Long pause) I suppose that is part of it, yes. We were told this thing was going to be resolved. Local figures…people whose livelihood requires at least in part our support and approval…they indicated it would be cleaned up soon.
Ulsterman: But that didn’t happen. Somebody with more authority, more influence than you intervened…
WSI: It would appear so, yes.
Ulsterman: The White House?
WSI: Quite possible – perhaps likely… though I am more certain they received their orders from union leadership figures. And the concern now is beyond just here. Beyond Wall Street. I have associates in London – the situation there has the potential to prove even more unstable. I was, until very recently, unaware things had gone so far wrong.
Ulsterman: So what now? How do you fight back?
WSI: I don’t. Not directly. Not now. What I spoke of before will happen. Perhaps even more so. Perhaps not. People are frightened. Increasingly so. The Obama administration is burning bridges. They are willing to do so. That is the situation. They appear to believe they don’t need some who supported them in 2008. That the unions and some in the media will be enough to overcome the GOP opponent.
Ulsterman: Do you agree with that? Can they win re-election?
WSI: Certainly there is that possibility. As to probability – I don’t know. The actual politics of it all – that is not my world. Our acquaintance would have much more to tell you on that. You asked me what I plan to do now? I’m leaving the city. I am getting out until whatever is going to happen – and I believe it will take place soon…I don’t wish to be here when it does. And I’m not the only one. People need to wait and see – and then regroup.
Ulsterman: You’re running away?
WSI: Sure – feel free to call it that if you wish. I am removing myself from the immediate threat that is this situation down there. I am removing my family from it. Those I care for. That is the responsible thing to do. And I would suggest you not return here as well – not until this thing…however it intends to resolve itself. Stay away from it for now.
Ulsterman: What do you fear is going to happen down there? What is coming?
WSI: I don’t wish to be overly dramatic here…but violence. Injury. Perhaps death. Most certainly destruction of property. It’s getting dangerous. I can sense it. It’s palpable. And you feel it too, don’t you?
Ulsterman: It reminds me of growing up in Northern Ireland, yes. It does remind me of that…uneasy feeling that something terrible could happen just around the turn…
WSI: That’s it exactly. Just around the turn. Something terrible is coming just around the turn. So for now, I’m getting out. I’m blessed to have the means to do so. I fear for those who do not.
Ulsterman: If violence does break out down there – what then? Where does all of this go?
WSI: If that happens – and I pray it does not…but if that happens, my instinct tells me it’s just the start. It’s the fuse meant to light the fire. And I don’t wish to be anywhere near this place when that happens. We can continue to communicate, but not in person. There are things I may wish to share with you at some point. This is not yet that time. For now let’s simply hope violence does not break out. That these protests resolve themselves peacefully. Perhaps the colder weather will send them home. That is my hope – but my instincts tell me that will not be the reality down there. Far from it.
I’ll leave you with this…the mayor – Mayor Bloomberg, must now decide whose bidding he will do regarding this situation. Will he comply with the demands of the Obama White House and the labor unions, or the needs of the people of New York? I am confident we are to know the answer to that in short order. To this point, Mayor Bloomberg has been less than adequate – and I say that as one who has long admired him. I very much hope he redeems himself and proves his worth to this city. So watch Bloomberg closely. He is likely to show his true inclination in this matter one way or the other very soon now.
March 11th, 2011
By: Tom Diemer
A three-week stalemate that saw angry protests, the flight of Democratic state senators to a neighboring state and even a take-down tackle of one lawmaker by police came to an end Thursday as the Wisconsin Assembly gave final passage to a bill stripping public workers of key collective bargaining rights.
Democracy is often a messy thing — and that has been on display in Madison on an almost dally basis, leading up to Thursday’s conclusive 53-42 vote. Last week, Democratic legislator Nick Milroy, whom authorities did not recognize, was wrestled to the ground by police as he tried to enter the closed Capitol.
“Yeah, it was a living and breathing democracy,” acknowledged Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who is fighting a similar bill in Columbus.
Events in Wisconsin have demonstrated that elections have consequences — and also that state government can often touch people’s lives in a more direct and personal way than the federal government in far-off Washington. For weeks, thousands of citizens on both sides of the labor rights issue flooded the Statehouse in an effort to hold lawmakers accountable.
Already, Wisconsin Democrats have filed recall petitions aimed at eight GOP senators who supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to curtail collective bargaining rights and require larger public employee contributions to pension plans and health care plans. Walker is expected to quickly sign the approved bill into law.
The hard feelings came to a head Wednesday night when the Wisconsin Senate, in a parliamentary maneuver, removed budget provisions from the bargaining bill so it could be passed with fewer than the 20-member quorum required for spending measures. Fourteen Senate Democrats left the state last month and camped out in Illinois to deny Republicans the quorum they needed to act on the “Budget Repair” bill.
With protesters shouting “You are cowards” and “Shame,” the slimmed-down bill passed 18-1, with not a single Democratic senator in the chamber. It was taken up Thursday by the State Assembly, which had to concur with the Senate changes. But final passage was delayed by another noisy protest as police removed dozens of pro-labor demonstrators, the New York Times and the Associated Press reported.
Ryan, who joined a recent demonstration in Columbus against the collective bargaining bill pending in Ohio, followed the events in Wisconsin with a hopeful eye. “We are living with the consequences of an election where a lot of people didn’t vote and a handful of people probably voted for the other guy,” he said, suggesting that some Democratic voters switched sides in the Republican wave last November.
Events in Ohio and Wisconsin, he said, have “energized and mobilized what I think is a sleeping giant — and that is the American work force.” Ryan believes the political pendulum is about to swing again toward his party, but Democrats “need to get back to these bread and butter issues.”
“We may lose this battle,” he said of the pro-union side, “but we may ultimately win the war.”
Watch the scene in Wisconsin Senate Wednesday night, courtesy of the MacIver Institute and YouTube.
February 25th, 2011
By: Dana Chivvis
As a raucous week in the Midwest comes to an end, several state legislatures remain deadlocked over bills that many see as attempts to wrest power away from unions.
In the wee hours of this morning, Republicans in the State Assembly held a “flash” vote, passing a controversial bill eradicating collective bargaining for most public employees, before Democrats had a handle on what was happening.
Debate on the bill began in the Assembly on Tuesday morning and had lasted an exhausting 61 hours, as Democrats attempted to filibuster.
At 1 a.m. this morning, Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer opened and closed the vote in a matter of seconds. When it was over, only 13 of the 38 Democrats had managed to get in their votes.
Republican Assembly members stood up and left the chamber immediately following the surprise vote, as Democrats threw papers, shouted “shame!” at their counterparts and called them cowards, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
With only two-thirds of the chamber voting, the legislation passed 51–17 and will now be sent to the Senate, whose 14 Democrats are still in hiding in Illinois. Their absence means the Senate cannot achieve a quorum to hold a vote.
After 15 hours of debate, Republicans in Iowa’s House Labor Committee passed a bill at 6 a.m. today that weakens collective bargaining rights for public employees. Though Democrats proposed more than 50 amendments to the bill, House Study Bill 117, it passed 9-5 along party lines.
The legislation would eliminate collective bargaining for health insurance and retirement plans, bar unions from having a role in decisions involving layoffs, give the governor and the Legislature veto power over decisions made by an arbitrator, lift restrictions on outsourcing and allow workers to become non-unionized “free agents,” according to the Iowa Independent.
The bill will be sent to the full chamber for a vote.
Workers in Ohio are rallying against Senate Bill 5, which would weaken collective bargaining rights by disallowing them for all negotiations except wage talks. It would also ban strikes and end binding arbitration.
Republican Gov. John Kasich and supporters of the legislation say it will help close the state’s $8 billion budget deficit.
With all but three House Democrats hiding out in Urbana, Ill., Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma postponed all activity in the chamber until Monday, according to The Indianapolis Star. The Democrats are protesting 11 proposed bills. Earlier this week, Republicans killed a controversial “right to work” bill, which would ban contracts that require non-union members to pay union fees.
September 13, 2010
by Erica Werner & Calvin Woodward
President Barack Obama told voters repeatedly during the health care debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save them money. Now, he’s hemming and hawing on that.
So far, the law he signed earlier this year hasn’t had the desired effect. An analysis from Medicare’s Office of the Actuary this week said that the nation’s health care tab will go up — not down — through 2019 as a result of Obama’s sweeping law, though the increase is modest.
Obama offered some caveats when asked in his news conference Friday about the apparent discrepancy between what he promised and what’s actually happening so far. On several other topics, too, his rhetoric fell short of a full accounting.
A look at some of the claims at his news conference and how they compare with the facts:
OBAMA: Said he never expected to extend insurance coverage to an additional 31 million people “for free.” He added that “we’ve made huge progress” if medical inflation could be brought down to the level of overall inflation, or somewhere slightly above that.
THE FACTS: Those claims may be supported in the fine print of the plan he pitched to Congress and a skeptical public months ago. But they were rarely heard back then. “My proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions — families, businesses and the federal government,” he declared in March.
Last August he predicted: “The American people are going to be glad that we acted to change an unsustainable system so that more people have coverage, we’re bending the cost curve, and we’re getting insurance reforms.”
On Friday, he conceded: “Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do.” The goal: “Slowly bring down those costs.”
The White House contends that although health care costs will rise when most of the changes take hold in 2014 and coverage is extended to the uninsured, costs will go down over the longer term as controls kick in.
OBAMA: “We took every idea out there about how to reduce or at least slow the costs of health care over time.”
THE FACTS: One idea that most experts believe would do the most to control health costs — directly taxing health benefits — was missing in Obama’s plan. Opposition from unions and others was too great, and Obama himself had campaigned against the idea.
Some of the major cost controllers that did make it into the law — including a tax on high-value insurance plans — don’t start until 2018. That tax was watered down and delayed, and other cost-control approaches also softened after opposition from hospitals and other interest groups.
Health spending already accounts for about 17 percent of the economy and is projected to grow to nearly 20 percent in 2019.
OBAMA: “So these policies of cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, of stripping away regulations that protect consumers, running up a record surplus to a record deficit — those policies finally culminated in the worst financial crisis we’ve had since the Great Depression.”
THE FACTS: The president probably meant the broader economic crisis and not the meltdown of the financial industry when he talked about the “financial crisis.” True enough, George W. Bush entered office with a $236 billion budget surplus in 2001, and in January 2009, before Obama was sworn into office, the Congressional Budget Office projected the deficit for the fiscal year 2009 to be $1.2 trillion.
But the surpluses the government foresaw in 2001 were based on a bubble economy that was bound to burst. And the deficit Obama inherited was only partly from Bush’s fiscal policies.
Mostly it was a result of a recession that sapped tax revenues, increased the costs of safety net programs and demanded more government spending to stimulate the economy. As recently as 2007, the budget deficit was just $161.5 billion. The current annual deficit is now an estimated $1.5 trillion.
OBAMA: Asked how he can lecture Afghan President Hamid Karzai about corruption when it’s fueled in part by U.S. aid dollars, Obama said: “I’ve said to my national security team … Let’s be consistent in terms of how we operate across agencies. Let’s make sure that our efforts there are not seen as somehow giving a wink and a nod to corruption.”
THE FACTS: While acknowledging the situation is messy, Obama seemed to minimize it.
“Are there going to be occasions where we look and see that some of our folks on the ground have made compromises with people who are known to have engaged in corruption?” he asked. “You know, we’re reviewing all that constantly and there may be occasions where that happens.”
The United States spends more than $100 billion annually in Afghanistan, the world’s second-poorest nation and one of the most corrupt. U.S. officials acknowledge that a significant percentage of the U.S. bankroll enriches shady characters even as it may finance worthy projects, or is stolen outright.
The CIA has paid Afghan warlords and power brokers for years, relying on them as informants and as leverage in the country’s internal ethnic and tribal squabbles. Intelligence officials say payouts are cheap insurance, but development officials and diplomats say the money supports a culture of bribery.
Obama pledged to keep up pressure on Karzai. The Afghan leader recently intervened to free a presidential aide arrested on suspicion of soliciting a bribe. U.S. investigators played a central role in fingering the aide.
June 30, 2010
By Jeff Coen
Sheldon Sorosky, one of Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers, has been trying to drag President Barack Obama into the fray this afternoon, asking union official Tom Balanoff whether the FBI asked him about campaign money going to Obama.
Prosecutors objected, as they have so often during cross-examinations, and U.S. District Judge James Zagel said Sorosky should only ask in general what the FBI had said to Balanoff.
Sorosky tried the question again, using Zagel’s recommended wording. “I know that won’t be objected to,” Sorosky said, causing the nearby Blagojevich to laugh.
But Balanoff didn’t get to give an answer, and Zagel wouldn’t let the line of questioning go on after a private sidebar discussion among the lawyers.
Sorosky did get to ask about Balanoff’s labor group — the Service Employees International Union — supporting candidates for office. He asked whether the SEIU had supported “a young state senator” named Barack Obama as well as Blagojevich in his first run for governor in 2002.
“They cared about working people?” Sorosky asked. Balanoff said that was essentially right.