Article Search

Keyword:






Search Results

November 16 2017 - Victor Epstein
Working Class Hero Johnny Franco Lays it Down
This story has nothing to do with Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian or any other shameless politician or celebrity. Instead, it's about a working class hero named Johnny Franco who died last week at the age of 76 and was buried Tuesday after leading an awesome life. If you didn't know him you have my condolences. Johnny was a friend of mine, a military veteran, proud liberal, and a hard-working, middle class guy who did what he could to make the United States of America a better place to li...

October 30 2017 - Victor Epstein
Top Florida Dem Resigns in Sex Scandal
I’ve known lots and lots of journalists the past 30 years and disgraced Florida Senate leader Jeff Clemens was the last one I expected to seek a career in politics and the first one I expected to be found wanting in the character department. Why am I not surprised by his recent fall from grace? Because Jeff, who just resigned in a sex scandal, was never about public service. The most powerful Florida Democrat was always about Jeff and that quality makes him the perfect poster child for the...

October 28 2017 - Victor Epstein
Hillary is Not The Anti-Trump
It still stuns me to hear Hillary Clinton blame her defeat in the 2016 presidential race on anything but the $153 million she accepted from the monied interests hijacking our democracy. Apparently, the excessive "speaking fees" she received from financial firms like JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley had nothing to do with her loss to America's first fascist president. Neither did Congress' decision to allow our senators and representatives to wash bribe money clean in this fashion. In some cases, t...

October 25 2017 - Victor Epstein
Politicians Revel in Disaster Spending Feeding Frenzy
Nothing makes political hookers forget their differences like the billions of dollars to be skimmed from our nation’s bloated hurricane recovery spending. I’m not talking about the money which will eventually reach the 150 million Americans impacted by this year’s devastating hurricane season. I’m talking about the billions of taxpayer dollars being diverted from them by the corrupt Democratic and Republican political machines and their pals at politically connected engineering companies. ...

October 13 2017 - Victor Epstein
South Koreans Cleaning House on Toxic Elites
What's the difference between systemic political corruption in The Republic of Korea and the United States of America? In South Korea, Wall Street runs the government through political and religious hookers. The combination allows them to frustrate the will of the people and hold bogus elections between dueling Wall Street stooges. Sound familiar? The big difference is the South Korean people are taking steps to reclaim their democracy from the self-appointed royals of the country club set. W...

October 12 2017 - Victor Epstein
Social Media Gags McGowan, Kills Free Speech
Once upon a time, social media justified its hijacking of copyrighted news articles on the basis of empowering citizen journalism and free speech. Today, the industry is undermining both to place profits ahead of the democratic principles our nation’s founding fathers embraced. It's threatening the very fabric of American society by absconding with the financial benefits of being in the news industry while shirking the burdens of actually generating articles and being ethically responsible...

October 4 2017 - Victor Epstein
The Big Lie: Vegas Shooter Wasn’t Political
Is this the wrong time to celebrate "American Exceptionalism" and talk about how Trump is "Making America Great Again?" Apparently so. With 59 dead Americans and another 530 wounded wondering what they ever did to the rich gambler who allegedly gunned them down from afar Sunday night. I don't buy into this fictional nonsense about suspected sniper Stephen Paddock having no political views. If that's true, then he was the only literate person on Planet Earth without an opinion about Donald Tru...

September 6 2017 - VJ Epstein
Cashing in on Crying Wolf
One of the painful truths about weather journalism is that television networks tend to exaggerate the threat posed by killer storms like Hurricane Irma to manipulate the public, lift their ratings and increase advertising revenue. This tendency is illustrated by the satellite photo below. It depicts Hurricane Floyd - not Irma. The photo was taken in 1999, not 2017, when a hurricane even bigger than Irma threatened Florida and the other Bible Belt states of the Southeast. Floyd packed maxim...

August 31 2017 - VJ Epstein
Des Moines Register Briefly Abandons Blowjob News
I stared in stunned amazement at my social media newsfeed this morning as it displayed one of the rarest creatures in America’s disappearing free press: a critical story about economic development tax breaks for Wall Street. Even more miraculously, this example of public service journalism was published by the most unlikely of news organizations: the toothless and morally bankrupt Des Moines Register. An Iowa paper with a reputation for parroting state economic development (eco devo) claims wit...

August 27 2017 - Bert Wolfe
When Class Warfare Becomes Extermination
Poverty is not simply a "state of mind,” as Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently asserted in his normal clueless fashion. It is a matter of dollars and cents. Specifically, having enough dollars and cents to provide for the three kinds of economic demands that British economist John Maynard Keynes said are contained in a household budget: 1) Transaction demands Cash to meet day-to-day living expenses, like food, rent and gasoline. 2) Precautionary demands De...

August 6 2017 - Bert Wolfe
Resisting the Allure of a New Cold War
As the United States and Russia careen needlessly toward a new Cold War it's worth reiterating that it doesn't have to happen just because our military industrial complex wants it to happen. Why?  Because our nation is still a democracy run by the people's elected officials. At least on paper. Those elected officials are the ones who broke Daddy Bush's promise to Mikhail Gorbachev. Not the Russian leader’s successors Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. Our political aristocracy betr...

June 13 2017 - Bert Wolfe
Ronald Reagan's jihad on the middle class
Former President Ronald Reagan was the front man for the resurgent Predatory 1 Percent in 1980, when it began the long process of replacing our representative democracy with today's plutocracy. The professional actor was the standard bearer for the “greed is good” crowd of robber barons and toxic corporate trusts. The same crew of sheltered County Club Commandos which set the stage for The Great Depression during The Gilded Age and is now in control of The White House and U.S. Congress. Reagan...

June 11 2017 - VJ Epstein
American Exceptionalism: Thy name is social dysfunction
The American people are habitually manipulated into meaningless intellectual conflicts by the highly paid political consultants and lobbyists of The Predatory 1 Percent. Case in point, the current nonsensical debates about gun control, abortion, illegal immigration, trans bathrooms and prayer in school. These five hot button "issues" are all fabricated conflicts. Meant to create the fiction our elected officials are doing their job and advancing the greater good, while distracting us from the ...

June 5 2017 - Bert Wolfe
Mass delusions, lies, and Republican propaganda
As long as President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans are willing to exploit America with knowing lies we can safely expect their targets to happily look the other way as we are all being robbed blind, and our rights and freedoms are compromised.   The great tragedy of Red State America is that millions of otherwise good people would rather be indulged with comforting lies than confronted with painful truths from one of the greatest period of change in human history. Changing thei...

May 25 2017 - Bert Wolfe
Are "We The People" still part of the world's greatest democracy?
We the People of the United States have become all but irrelevant in the policy discussions conducted by our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. A recent study by scholars from Princeton and Northwestern universities found the average, everyday American has virtually no impact on either the thinking of the members of the U.S. Congress or their policy making decisions. For better or worse, We the People have been reduced from empowered citizens of a representative democracy to the ign...

May 15 2017 - VJ Epstein
Where Have You Gone Stephen Colbert?
Journalists rarely go gaga over celebrities because we meet so many of them, but I still remember the night I met comedian Stephen Colbert like it was my honeymoon. It’s the only time I’ve ever been reduced to celebrity groupie status. I was raised in the Bronx in the 70s and 80s. When members of New York City’s working class proudly scorned the celebrities around them. As if to say “you ain’t no better than me.” I did it to actor Steve Landesberg at the height of the Barney Miller TV series ...

May 11 2017 - Bert Wolfe
High tuition costs dim dreams
Never before in American history has it been so expensive and difficult to get a college education, with the average annual tuition at a four-year school topping $36,000. The intent is to make higher education in America once again something that only the financially well off can even consider. Although it’s not widely known, numerous universities and colleges offered free tuition prior to 1973, among them Cooper Union and The City College of New York. Ironically, America, which led the wa...

April 4 2017 - VJ Epstein
The Utter Cowardice of Immigrant Bashing
As a public service journalist who once made a living scrutinizing the powerful and championing the needy, I absolutely abhor the immigrant bashing now in vogue in this great nation. Yes, we have a problem with illegal immigration. That's true. However, this modest challenge pales beside the larger problem of the fake tough guys now bullying our nation's most defenseless residents. These posers represent nothing more or less than a precipitous decline in the collective manhood of the Uni...

March 29 2017 - Victor Epstein
Ted Koppel laces into Faux News
Iconic newsman Ted Koppel is being widely praised by his fellow journalism lifers this week for his scathing Sunday morning debate with Faux News propagandist Sean Hannity and blistering criticism of The Right Wing Noise Machine.  I see a lot of my fellow reporters and editors beginning to speak up like this as part of the long awaited showdown between legitimate news people and the propagandists among us who generate clickbait, fake news and access journalism. There's only one prob...

January 1 2017 - Victor Epstein
Mourning the New Year
I went to sleep early last night, instead of joining in the artificial revelry of New Year's Eve at a time of such pain for the faltering middle class.There didn't seem to be much to celebrate as I looked backward upon a year in which our representative democracy breathed its last, and forward to the rising police state and the robber barons at its helm. It's pretty clear to those of us who understand what's happening that those who refuse to bow to our new economic royals are now excess populat...

December 21 2016 - Victor Epstein
Howard Beach: The High Price of Racial Politics
It's been 30 years since the racially charged death of Michael Griffith during what came to be known as The Howard Beach incident. It's remembered today as an act of sheer racial bias, but that simplistic narrative is not entirely true. The White mob included at least one Black kid from Howard Beach. The mob leader was a baby-faced kid named Jon Lester with a Black girlfriend and lots of Black friends. Today, that's no big deal. But race and class mixing were not as common back then. The kids wh...

December 1 2016 - VJ Epstein
Trump Eco Team Heavy With Wall Street Predators
President Elect Donald Trump's so-called economic team is actually comprised of his fellow Wall Street predators and silver spoons, who have a history of enriching themselves at the expense of the poor and faltering middle class.It's typical for members of presidential economic teams to have PhDs in economics. However, Steven Mnuchin (above left) and Wilbur Ross (above right) don't appear to have a single degree in economics of any kind between them.Mnuchin, 53, is set to become Treasury Secreta...

November 13 2016 - Victor Epstein
Calmate motherfuckers
Look people, if you voted for Trump or Hillary you voted for Wall Street. Again. And you will live to regret it. So save all your hypocritical condemnation for yourself. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans give a crap about the 99 Percent and they both use race and gender to get elected. Hillary did this by labeling those who voted against her as "deplorables" and implying they were racists, sexists and bigots. Trump did it by trying to attract the support of working class whites who h...

November 8 2016 - Victor Epstein
Hillary poised to shoulder Obama's poser legacy
It's so reassuring to know Barack Obama's legacy as a Wall Street stooge will be preserved by Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to The Wall Street Journal. Like her predecessor, HRC plans to talk and walk like a liberal while serving monied interests like a conservative.President Obama's biggest achievement was making group traits irrelevant to the auctioning of the middle class to global monied interests. Does that qualify as progress?Kind of.Just as getting back to your ideal weight while suff...

November 15 2011 - Victor Epstein
Newsroom Insider: Hating on Chelsea Clinton
A pair of headlights cut through the darkness behind me on a country road outside Claxton, Ga., one night in 1994. They closed swiftly before matching my pickup's speed at about 200 yards.That almost never happens on country roads. Cars either pass you or you pass them. They don't race toward you before trailing from a fixed distance. So, I slowed down to protect the identity of my source - a black high school student who had been warned to stop dating a white classmate in a town plagued by inst...

October 19 2016 - Victor Epstein
Time to Boycott John Oliver and HBO
I believe in voting with my wallet whenever I can. For me, that means a boycott of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver after this week's horrendously obvious political hit on third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. I encourage you to do the same.It was a heartbreaking piece of propaganda, because I enjoy the show. It has moved satire toward journalism in a way that's very pleasing to me as one of the thousands of public service journalists laid off by the mainstream news media in rece...

March 26 2012 - VJ Epstein
Occupy Wall Street Infiltrator Confesses All
The infiltrator witch hunts now poisoning Occupy Wall Street really pisses me off, mostly because they're succeeding at turning people against eachother.   You don't have to be a genius to figure out that the New York City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are infiltrating Occupy Wall Street with undercover investigators posing as activists. If for no other reason than to allow elected officials to issue generous surveillance contracts to their political donors in the pri...

September 30 2016 - Victor Epstein
Millennials rent because they're broke, not evolved
There oughta be a law.How often have you heard someone say that?Personally, I think there are already way too many laws and regulatory agencies. However, there's one poisonous area of American society which has somehow escaped the suffocating regulation it so richly deserves, and that is the news industry's reflexive economic cheerleading. Marginal journalists, who would never attempt a story about medicine or sports, seem to have no qualms whatsoever about generating misleading financial propag...

September 22 2016 - VJ Epstein
Filmgoers Blind to Idiocracy’s Pro-Eugenics Message
Apparently, there are a bunch of educated idiots in the United States who are unaware of the discredited science of eugenics, why it's bad, or how the flick "Idiocracy" resurrected it by implying that race mixing is dumbing our society down. They've tried to elevate the fatally flawed 2006 film by describing it as some kind of prescient documentary which foresaw the current presidential race between two of the most unpopular candidates in U.S. history. They're bringing it back to theaters O...

September 17 2016 - Victor Epstein
Media Struggles to Richsplain Trump's popularity
The recent spate of national news articles puzzling over Donald Trump's rise in the polls is noteworthy only for its complete omission of the class warfare climate in which this disastrous presidential election is occurring. This omission illustrates the widening gap between the comforting fiction of America embraced by the sheltered beneficiaries of the status quo and the painful truths the rest of us must endure.  American workers are dying earlier amid the stress of a decade of stalled econom...

June 4 2016 - Victor Epstein
New Trumps: Black, Jewish, Hispanic and rich
I was speaking with a wealthy friend and fellow liberal yesterday about the unprecedented level of class warfare now being waged against the faltering middle class and the poor in the United States and she absolutely blew me away with her selfish attitude. All this privileged federal government employee of African American descent could talk about was how terrible it is that affluent blacks don't get away with quite as much elitist bullshit as their mainstream white counterparts. For many of the...

May 28 2016 - Victor Epstein
Deprogramming Self 101: Policing your inner Trump
Most progressive minded people understand that we still live in an inherently sexist, racist and homophobic society, despite recent progress. However, identifying your inner Trump and running him through the subconscious wood chipper can still be an elusive undertaking. I find computer games like Halo Reach incredibly helpful in identifying my underlying group biases, because their avatars have no real group identify. Characters like Kat-B320 (left) are not really women. In fact, they're not ev...

May 20 2016 - Victor Epstein
Imperialism Blues: A good puppet's hard to find
When it comes to puppet rulers and military proxies you rarely get what you pay for in the global domination game and that's a problem for the credulous NeoConservatives who support U.S. imperialism. Our empire builders have struggled mightily with unreliable puppets ever since we first supplanted Spain as the colonial overlord of the distant Philippines in 1898. This challenge continues to stymie the developmentally disabled members of the NeoConservative movement - commonly referred to these...

July 17 2011 - Tommie Paine
Obama Set to Abandon Liz Warren
CNN is reporting that President Barack Obama is preparing to abandon the candidacy of consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to be the first head of the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If this is true it represents a tremendous blow to working families and a tremendous win for big business and their lobbyists. The fact that Obama's political fundraising team is simultaneously setting records for the 2012 presidential election cannot be ignored, given that the industries exploiting...

August 4 2011 - Victor Epstein
Netflix CEO Says He's "Feeling Great"
No one will ever confuse Netflix CEO Reed Hastings with someone who gives a hoot about working Americans again, or with an intelligent executive for that matter, after his arrogant comments during a July 25 conference call with analysts. This is the same guy that just hiked prices 60% for a service many working families have been leaning on heavily to avoid the ridiculous prices for cable TV's premium movie channels. He described himself as both "feeling great" and "very pleased" when asked ...

August 9 2011 - Victor Epstein
Newsroom Insider: Covering U.S. job creation the right way
Bloomberg News produced an excellent jobs story today on the July payroll report that should be required reading for every economic journalist. Kudos to Bob Willis and Alexander Tanzi, my former colleagues on Bloomberg's economic reporting team, for telling the truth instead of just regurgitating the federal press release. They hit the public service trifecta by including the crucial benchmark information about how many new jobs must be created each month to keep pace with population growth;...

August 13 2011 - Victor Epstein
Cynical Times Defends Middle Class Against 1% Lackey
It's a good thing dueling is illegal, because that's the only thing stopping this pugnacious working-class hero from tapping my front foot, shouting "ha ha" and lunging forward to plant a six-inch span of steel in the vitals of fellow scribe Charles Morris for scapegoating the middle class. Instead, I'm just going to journalistically call out this former banker and lawyer and take his latest article to task. The Daily Beast story, which is entitled "We're Doomed," makes three ridiculous claims...

September 13 2011 - Victor Epstein
Mel Gibson to Film Again
If you could sue yourself for plagarism, disgraced filmmaker Mel Gibson would have one helluva lawsuit. His newest project about biblical Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee features the same sado-masochistic story-line he's beaten to death for more than 20 years. It's basically nice guy, pushed too far, goes all Spanish Inquisition on those who think differently.The subject matter is significant for a filmmaker with a reputation for group bias, who alienated the Jewish community by reprising the Cath...

September 22 2011 - VJ Epstein
Newsroom Insider: Toxic Colleagues
I was one day into a new job at a medium-sized paper in the Midwest when one of my colleagues began peppering me with unsolicited advice at the company picnic. I asked her how long she'd been at the paper. "Are you asking me how old I am," she responded testily. "No," I said. "If I wanted to know how old you were I'd say something like 'how-old-are-you.' " "Oh," she said. "OK." Cue head shaking, from side to side. It turned out my new colleague had been at the paper all ...

September 26 2011 - VJ Epstein
Newsroom Insider: How New Home Sales Mislead US
It's frustrating to watch the handful of news organizations that cover United States economic indicators screw-up the same data month after month, as they do with new home sales. The federal government's measure of signed contracts for new residential construction fell for the fourth straight month in August, to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 295,000. That puts new home sales on pace to move 318,000 dwellings in 2011 - the fewest purchases since the government started tracking them in...

September 15 2011 - VJ Epstein
Newsroom Insider: Disclosing Potential Conflicts
Journalism has its share of ethical lapses and the routine assignment of unionized reporters to labor stories without disclosing those ties is one of the more problematic. This practice flies in the face of the journalistic standards embraced by most business news organizations. They require that sources disclose their stock holdings when participating in financial stories impacting those investments and prohibit business reporters from investing in the sectors they cover. How is uni...

July 10 2011 - Victor Epstein
Newsroom Insider: When Unemployment Isn't
The Chinese philosopher Confucius once said that the first step toward wisdom is to call things by their right name. If that's true the mainstream media has a very long way to go when it comes to effectively reporting the number of Americans who don't have a job right now. This problem was illustrated by coverage of the monthly payroll report for June. Mainstream media organizations continued to cling too closely to the official script, making it impossible for average Americans to see the big p...

October 4 2011 - VJ Epstein
Falling oil prices to spur global economy
I'm not an economist, but I can count. Lost in all the fancy talk about global economic growth and free markets is one simple truth: growth seems to stall every time oil tops $80 a barrel and resume once oil falls below that mark again. What's been missing is a world oil pricing cop in a global economy with no over-arching regulatory mechanisms. Someone who could prevent these wild fluctuations, which are so useful to the investors who control the oil spigot -  like the House of Saud -...

October 25 2011 - VJ Epstein
Newsroom Insider: Occupy Wall Street
Roll the timeline backwards to September of 2005. I was covering Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans for a major wire service when a newly arrived colleague sheepishly asked "what am I covering? Are there press conferences or press releases or what?" I was taken aback. First, because I wasn't a manager at the time - I was a reporter just like him. And second, because he's a great guy and a veteran journalist who should have known the drill. Homeboy had spent his entire career in DC. ...

November 10 2011 - VJ Epstein
Bama tells Wall Street to go to hell
The biggest news of the day is not Joe Paterno's firing, Rick Perry's latest brain fart, or the most recent article planted in the mainstream media by the Kardashian brand. It's the $4.1 billion bankruptcy filing by Alabama's largest county. Jefferson County made the move after banking and political misconduct helped transform a $1.2 billion sewer project into a $3.2 billion monument to the evil of pay-to-play politics. How big is this Nov. 9 filing in layman's terms? It's huge enough to i...

November 28 2011 - VJ Epstein
Police profiling just part of Black criminality fiction
When we think of racial profiling, we generally think of a person of color, perhaps a black or Latino man or woman, in a car who gets stopped by police based on skin color. Often, a minor traffic infraction, like failing to signal when changing lanes, provides the legal rationale for such racially-motivated stops. Most Americans understand why this is wrong. However, the role that race plays in the criminal justice system goes far beyond this type of profiling. The Washington Post fe...

November 29 2011 - VJ Epstein
GOP: The Party of Fabulists
One of the painful truths about the United States is that our politicians now lie with such grinding regularity that we no longer really listen to what they say. Instead, we evaluate the misrepresentations they foist upon us like judges at an Olympic gymnastics event, handing out scores afterward for execution, degree of difficulty and overall presentation. A Republican Party that once placed a premium on personal honor under the guidance of old political warhorses like conservative pundit ...

December 5 2011 - Victor Epstein
Trump to moderate GOP debate
The reality TV show called the "Republican presidential primary" has reached a new low with the revelation that television business brand Donald Trump will moderate a debate between the candidates. The raft of ethical conflicts that surround this move is itself a perfect illustration of the threat posed to American democracy by the continued blending of news, politics and entertainment. It's become increasingly difficult for the voting public to distinguish between what's real and what's fake...

January 6 2012 - VJ Epstein
Spit Out That Kool-Aid: The Jobs Picture Still Sucks
The mainstream media continues to advance knowing sins of omission in its economic reporting as evidenced by Friday's erroneous report that 1.64 million new jobs were created in the United States in 2011. The real gain was more along the lines of 440,000 jobs. Why? Because zero is not zero in monthly job creation. It's 100,000. That's how many new jobs must be created each month just to keep pace with our fast-growing national population, which has expanded by 33 million people to 314 ...

January 27 2012 - VJ Epstein
Occupy Wall Street Exposed (hot pics inside)
Why are you here? More to the point, why weren't you here yesterday when I posted a fantastic story revealing how government housing data is slanted to make the real estate market look better than it really is. Or two weeks ago, when I exposed the way monthly job creation statistics are gamed to make the United States labor market look better than it really is. Clearly, it's because those stories weren't attached to boobs or six-pack abs. Not like this story. This story has it all. It h...

February 10 2012 - VJ Epstein
Occupy's Weak Spot: Energy Policy
By VJ Epstein I learned something about Occupy Wall Street this week, which is that there are quite a few people in the movement who would rather undermine the energy industry in the longer term than advance the interests of the 99 Percent in the here and now. Look, I'm unemployed, faltering middle class, and going broke. I'd love to wage political war against the fat-cats of the energy industry, but right now I just need some relief at the gas pump. I need cheaper natural gas, oil and...

March 8 2012 - Cynical Times
Let’s End the Racism and Rein In the NYPD
By Keith Rushing The news of discriminatory police tactics targeting people of color in New York City seems to just keep getting worse and worse. In the past month, it's been hard to keep up with all of it. First, the New York Civil Liberties Union released data showing that the New York Police Department [NYPD] increased the number of New Yorkers searched in 2011 under its humiliating and intimidating stop-and-frisk policies. This practice tramples on the Constitution, specifically th...

March 9 2012 - Victor Epstein
Plantation USA: Political Hookers Look to Muzzle Occupy
Conservative political hookers love to give their efforts to subvert American democracy exactly the kind of names they don't deserve. It's hard to tell whether these misnomers are an intentional deception or simply a byproduct of the intellectual fantasy world in which so many wealthy Americans now shelter, where paid lackeys nod like bobblehead dolls every time they speak. When the 1% passes laws directing law enforcement officers to spy on their fellow Americans and undermine our civil ri...

March 23 2012 - VJ Epstein
Working Class Hero: Richie Machado
Richie Machado doesn't look or sound much like the popular image of a revolutionary. In fact, he's the antithesis of a troublemaker looking to make a name or impress the ladies.However, the slightly built 20-year-old from Queens has been arrested an incredible six times in the past seven months. Why?Richie is fairly portable at 5-foot-four and a buck-twenty soaking wet. Never a good thing when New York's Finest are looking for someone to toss behind their lines in a showdown with the peaceful pr...

March 31 2012 - VJ Epstein
News Scrap: Cynical Times vs NY Times
I'm still getting some interesting feedback from last week's infiltrator column. The strangest so far occurred when a New York Times reporter publicly confronted me for criticizing The Gray Lady's flawed early coverage of Occupy Wall Street. Times-boy was standing next to a tall undercover cop in Zuccotti Park, with people carrying video cameras all around us, when he began making a spectacle out of himself. It was a show worthy of the Lilli Von Shtupp character in the film "Blazing Saddles...

April 13 2012 - Victor Epstein
Good News: Newark Mayor Rescues Constituent From Fire
The first thing Newark Mayor Cory Booker did when I met him in the fall of 2008 was joke about putting me in a headlock for describing a pair of drive-by shootings as "drive-by shootings" during a press conference. I had just moved to the area from Houston and knew I’d crossed some kind of invisible line the moment the words left my mouth. The staffers behind Booker went very silent and exchanged worried looks while the reporters around me smiled and shook their heads ruefully, as if to say...

April 13 2012 - Cynical Times
Healthy Middle Class Keys Asian Economic Success
By Benjamin Olshin One of the issues the Occupy Wall Street movement has been keen to address is the distortion of wealth distribution in America. The “99 Percent” is far behind the “1 Percent and seems to fall further back every year. Those of particular socio-political persuasions see any discussion of this problem as smacking of “socialism," and speak of a pernicious slide towards a terrifying “redistribution of wealth.” But, as usual in U.S. political dialogue, this is just irratio...

April 19 2012 - Cynical Times
The Investor is Always Right
by Benjamin Olshin Despite our vast majority, many members of the 99 Percent have missed a sea change in American business and political circles that has been decades in the making: we don’t count for much anymore.   For all of our complaints about the unfairness of business and politics, many of us still don’t understand business and politics — or at least not how they’ve mutated in response to the concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1%. That ignorance makes it very difficult to...

May 1 2012 - B.B. Olshin
Finding Solace in The Rockford Files
I like car chases.   As a philosophy professor, who spends a good deal of time reading through Plato and exploring obscure Daoist thought, there’s something about sitting in front of the television and watching one slick car chase after another that allows my own mind to throttle back. Car chases, in fact, are a big part of the reason I still enjoy watching reruns of “The Rockford Files” — a series loaded with car chases that ran for six seasons, starting in 1974. Another reason is the inher...

May 2 2012 - Victor Epstein
Occupiers on Parade
After 20 years in the field I have to challenge myself to keep it fun. So, while the rest of you will probably remember May Day 2012 as the time when the 99 Percent told predatory banking interests that their days of exploiting their fellow Americans were numbered, I'll remember it as the day I hit the street food trifecta by gobbling down two hotdogs, a slice of pepperoni pizza, a lamb gyro (white sauce) and a fruit smoothie without ever stepping inside a restaurant or halting work. It's...

May 8 2012 - B.B. Olshin
Gambling on the Future
In today’s column, I want to go back a few years to share a past lesson that’s still relevant to the 99 Percent: sometimes protest just doesn’t work. For example, the citizens of Philadelphia tried to reject casinos in 2006. And failed. Here’s how it happened: There were actually two casinos planned for the city. One was going to be in the Fishtown neighborhood and one on Reed Street, near the Delaware River. Residents protested via various organizations, such as “Casino-Free Ph...

May 13 2012 - VJ Epstein
Obama's Long Overdue Endorsement of Gay Marriage
As I reflected on President Barack Obama's long overdue endorsement of gay marriage earlier this week, my own thoughts drifted back to my friend Paul and a 2001 incident that taught me unqualified love has nothing to do with sexual orientation. The incident began with someone pounding forcefully on the front door of my loft in downtown Omaha, Neb., at about 3 a.m. There was a desperation to the sound that reverberated through the open three-story space. It was different and distinct from th...

May 16 2012 - B.B. Olshin
Understanding Buddhist Personality Disorder
Blame Richard Gere.   Or maybe the phenomenon of affluent Americans claiming to be Buddhists started before him, back in the 1970’s. Most of these wannabee Buddhists are suffering from a condition I like to call “Buddhist Personality Disorder.” Or BPD for short. They favor flowery clothing made of hemp, speak softly and slowly, and smile beatifically. They’ll be happy to tell you about their retreats, their meditation sessions, and their interest in compassion, but they’re actually filled wi...

May 22 2012 - VJ Epstein
Cory Booker: Wall Street’s Newest Political Hooker
If I've learned anything about elected officials during my 20 years in journalism, it's that while they act dignified around us peasants in the 99 Percent, they’re completely capable of acting like groupies around the 1 Percent. In short, class matters to them. Newark Mayor Cory Booker illustrated this weakness Sunday with his inept defense of private equity firms, like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, during a muddle-headed appearance on “Meet the Press.” ...

June 16 2015 - VJ Epstein
Pro-Cop Video Draws Mixed Response From Gun Community
A fascinating conversation about the militarization of U.S. police and their recent string of assaults on members of the black community is now underway in one of the most unlikely corners of the Internet: the Facebook page of firearms expert and former U.S. Special Force Master Sgt. Larry Vickers. It was sparked by a video Vickers posted June 10 in defense of the law enforcement community he now caters to as a producer of firearms accessories. The clip has received more than 530,000 views....

July 20 2015 - VJ Epstein
Police brutality fostering sea change within black community
The autumn air was crisp and cold as I walked into the parking lot behind the Marble Hill Projects in the Bronx back in 1984. Two local Black men quickly spotted me as an outsider. "Whatchoo doing here white boy," one demanded, moving in close and patting my pockets. I was 19 at the time. My two adversaries were older, bigger, meaner and operating in their own neighborhood. I was seconds away from a beating at a time when racial politics and police brutality had transformed New York City into...

August 23 2015 - Victor Epstein
Habitual Liars Continue to Plague U.S. Housing Industry
“Hey Angelo, how’s it going,” I barked into the phone at the height of national housing boom in 2004, flipping my reporter’s notepad open to a blank page. The Angelo on the other end was the soon to be infamous Angelo Mozilo - founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial. It was the nation’s largest mortgage lender back then. Today, it’s just another piece of Bank of America, albeit one which has helped cost the Too-Big-To-Fail Bank more than $71 billion in fines and s...

August 30 2015 - Victor Epstein
Open Letter to Elizabeth Warren: Get your ass in the damn race already
My dad liked to recount a conversation he overheard back in the 1960s, when he was working for American Airlines in Tulsa, Okla, and flying home to the Bronx for free with a complementary first-class ticket. The two oilmen in the row ahead of him on one flight were upset because several of their union workers were heading to New York City on vacation in the same section. "You can't tell the difference between them and us any more," one lamented to the other, according to dad. The WWII ...

September 5 2015 - Victor Epstein
Samuel Jackson's idiot musings continue to plague gun control debate
Something seems to happen to some celebrities as they reach the point where they should be transitioning gracefully into their golden years. Instead of evolving into fonts of wisdom, they begin to recount the past through self-serving fictions - as beloved gun-porn actor Samuel Jackson is now doing. The 66-year-old's ridiculous recollections of a peaceful and heavily armed South are now being cited as fact by firearms enthusiasts seeking to damp calls for greater gun control. They've turned the...

September 11 2015 - VJ Epstein
9/11 Remembered: Saudi royals still owed a smack
When I reflect on 9/11, I try not to dwell on the civilians who jumped to their deaths from the Twin Towers, the first responders who ran selflessly to their own ends to save them, the Saudi role in the attack, or the spontaneous celebrations it sparked in some parts of the Middle East. I try not to think about the gap in the Manhattan skyline that still looks like someone kicked in its front teeth. Or President George W. Bush’s shameless pandering to the House of Saud, which has used Muslim ex...

November 14 2015 - VJ Epstein
Saudi proxy pushes France toward police state
As I was watching the news alerts from the Paris terror attacks on Friday I was reminded of a seemingly unrelated event: the one sentence criminal profile the FBI faxed to me in 1993. I was covering the arrest and trial of a Georgia college professor, preacher, and junior high school principal at the time. He had a proclivity for sex with little boys and I'd hit the FBI up for their criminal profile for pedophiles. The reports usually ran about 20 pages, but all I was receiving from them wa...

May 25 2016 - Victor Epstein
Outside It's America: Never get out of the boat
I left my apartment this afternoon for the first time in weeks and was immediately confronted by the increasingly dysfunctional nature of American society.The habitual and trivial craziness I encountered seemed like an eerie echo of the disconnect between fiction and reality which marked the last days of Communist rule in the Soviet Union.  Russian elites didn't realize how impossible routine life had become for their 99 percent because they were completely separated from them - living  in bubbl...

December 27 2015 - B.B. Olshin
We're Rome 300 AD
I was standing outside the Roman Forum with a group of American college students in 1983 when one of my classmates kept repeating the same joke about the rectangular piazza before us. “It’s all in ruins, man,” he said again and again. “Ruins.” Our group of a dozen students was spending a semester studying abroad. Our focus was ancient history and archaeology. In Rome, that meant studying ruins. Yet something more important sunk in during that semester overseas: the realization that however mu...

February 2 2016 - Victor Epstein
Fear and loathing in Des Moines
I felt a bit like one of the characters in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” on Monday after registering as a Republican and slipping into one of the whitest and wealthiest precincts in Iowa for the state's quadrennial caucus. I'm an unapologetic liberal who normally votes Democrat, but I lost interest in both parties after former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg crushed Occupy Wall Street in 2011. Afterward, it seemed to me as if both Republicans and Democrats had sold their souls to the same W...

February 10 2016 - Victor Epstein
Pundits puzzled by Sanders' mojo
I hate to rock the bullshit boat, but all the complicated explanations our nation's political journalists have been advancing this week about Bernie Sanders' landslide win in New Hampshire are complete nonsense. They're being willfully blind to the painful truth that Wall Street has taken over our nation since 1980 or so and been running it more and more like a totalitarian state with each passing year. Its savage capitalists have hurt their fellow Americans again and again, while laughing a...

March 12 2016 - Victor Epstein
It's 2018: All hail President Trump
I jumped again last night and awoke this morning in the year 2018.  It seems I am now a diesel mechanic at the K&H Truck Stop in tiny Gilmer, Ill.  Donald Trump is president. Ted Cruz is vice president. The headlines are dominated by news of the War With Mexico and the alleged rape of journalist Cokie Roberts. The veteran political reporter was recently subjected to a public flogging for accusing Cruz of raping her during a prayer breakfast at Trump House - aka The former White Hous...

April 20 2016 - VJ Epstein
Reporters Without Borders: Press freedom in decline
New York City Police Inspector Anthony Bologna made quite an impression on me the first time I met him. And not a favorable one. It was a peaceful, sunny morning in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 24, 2011, on Day 8 of the Occupy Wall Street movement for a more even distribution of America's benefits and burdens. The movement was in its infancy and its members were just beginning to emerge from their tents in Zuccotti Park and rub the sand from their eyes. TV camera operators were unpacking ...

May 8 2016 - B.B. Olshin
The demise of the U.S. retail market
One of the issues with the left-leaning progressives in Western culture is that they don’t quite get the fact that the rules of our society have changed in a deep and irreversible way as we've transitioned into a society obsessed with appearance rather than substance. One of the side effects of the so-called "revolt of the elites" is the change its has wrought in the relationships between consumers and sellers, and between citizens and their elected officials. One can no longer protest and...