Sunday, October 16, 2011


OWS is not going away. (Aren't you glad we can abbreviate it now, and everybody understands what it means?  No more Occupy Wall Street, #OccupyWallStreet, We Are the 99% -- just OWS.  We have arrived!)

Now that the mainstream media can no longer ignore this worldwide uprising, the powers that be are running themselves ragged trying to find ways to diminish and demonize it.  One of the chief spokesmen of the We Shall Overreact counterinsurgency is New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Himself a member of the elite Forbes Billionaires Club, Bloomberg's main concern has been sanitation. Alas, there are no toilet facilities in Zuccotti Park. And nearby eateries are complaining the hippie campers are using their bathroom sinks to take showers -- and worse!  No Port-a-potties allowed in the park, either. So you can imagine how offended the sensibilities of Bloomberg must be, with the wastrels and their waste.

Bloomberg and friends have balked at providing toilet facilities or dumpsters at the site.  The protesters undertook a mass cleaning on their own late last week in hopes of staving off a threatened eviction.

The New York Times broke the story about the bathroom crashers of OWS when the encampment was entering its third week.  The paper of record still can't seem to make up its mind whether to jump on the revolutionary bandwagon and celebrate the movement, or continue siding with the oligarchs over how stressed the whole thing is making them feel.  Everybody is talking about the article yesterday that had a slew of anonymous Wall Streeters griping: 
“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.” He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said.
According to Bloomberg News (yeah, that ubiquitous Bloomberg again), Mr. Money Manager has a right to be outraged.  In all likelihood, he makes about $1 million a year -- about twice the salary of a brain surgeon or four times as much as a four-star general. 
The bottom line is all the people in investment banking understand that they work harder and are under more stress,” said Jeanne Branthover, a managing director at Wall Street recruitment firm Boyden Global Executive Search. “Many don’t think they’re paid enough.”
But unlike the OWS'ers, the million dollar wunderkinds don't have to worry about their next bathroom break. Again, from the New York Times (HT to Christina Vining) comes the story of a luxury toilet called the Numi.  According to reporter Sam Grobar, who tried it out for a month in exchange for a free ad review: 
The Numi features a touch-screen remote control. The Numi washes and dries its user. The Numi costs $6,400, or 81 times the price of the basic throne at Home Depot.
Such extravagance may put the Numi within reach of only plutocrats and Pentagon purchasing managers. (Oh, goodie, now the general can achieve parity with the oligarch!) All the Numi controls are handled through a touch screen remote control that is somewhat larger than an iPodTouch. That remote controls flushing, cleaning, drying, music, heating and other settings and preferences; combinations of preferences can be stored in user profiles for different family members. When not in use, the remote docks in a magnetic charging cradle that can be mounted on the wall. There are backup buttons at the rear of the toilet just in case the remote is not working.
The only problems with this plutocrapper, according to Grobart, are that the lid pops up whenever you come near it, regardless of whether you have to go.  And the music can be annoying.  And the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired. Grobart compares the Numi to a giant Lego building block -- see for yourself:

From the Numi Website: This is How You Market Toilets to Millionaires

One really nifty feature of the Numi is that if you're a guy who loves to pee in the dark, a lovely blue light will align directly with the flow to help you avoid those annoying misses that plague the OWS john-crashers. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "trickle down."

I wonder if Mike Bloomberg owns a Numi.  I wonder if he ponders his next Zuccotti Park move as he relaxes on his throne.  I wonder if he regrets ever having bought himself a third term.

(Graphic by Kat Garcia)


Fred Drumlevitch said...

The computerized controls of the expensive Numi toilet suggest the possibility of real political mischief by hacking into its operating system and delivering an unexpected outcome to its rich owners! (I'll leave the range of possibilities to the readers' imaginations). Collateralized doo-doo obligations.

And I couldn't help but notice that the manufacturer's publicity photos placed it fully exposed in a corner of a glass house cantilevered over a hillside. Do the plutocrats think that we should be obligated to watch them crap? Or are they so arrogant as to believe that we actually want to watch them crap? Low levels of physical modesty don't necessarily imply high arrogance, but high arrogance is often accompanied by low modesty of many types. This toilet and its marketing almost take arrogance to new heights and modesty to new lows --- almost but not quite as extreme as is evident in the NYT quote that Karen referenced, with a money manager lamenting that some politicians are giving insufficient consideration to these plutocrats being their real constituency.

The majority of the people have been on the receiving end of corporate-plutocratic-oligarchic crap for far too long. It's time to start flinging some of it back.

Karen Garcia said...

That was just one of the photos on their glitzy website. Check them all out if you dare. What was this particular scenario meant to convey, I wonder? It's almost as if the Lego John is turning them on. I mean, we knew these people were exhibitionist conspicuous consumers, but toilet as intimacy aid??? The true meaning of the snob saying his shit don't smell is now made manifest!
Great and funny observations, Fred!

Valerie said...

On a more serious note, I think the toilette and bathing issues are real. I wonder how they are handling it in other cities.

Seems like Bloomy could cough up some money for porta-potties if he is genuinely interested in sanitation. I read in the first weeks the early protesters were being invited home with sympathetic New Yorkers to take a shower. I suppose with the growing numbers of protesters that is not so common anymore.

I must say, I do feel a little sorry for the small businesses left to carry the burden for all this. - Another reason why Bloomy should step in.

The protesters have conducted themselves so well. It would be a shame if they are side railed by something as fundamental as being able to use a bathroom and bathe. And I imagine the Fox News crowd is playing up the “great unwashed masses” angle to the max.

Fred Drumlevitch said...


I did check out the other photos at the Kohler-Numi site before I made my comment above.

The photos immediately brought to mind the half-century-old iconic photograph by the architectural photographer Julius Shulman, (of the "Case Study House #22, aka the Stahl house, designed by Pierre Koenig):

But the house in the 1960 Shulman photo had no walkway towards the corner outside the cantilevered glass, so I figured "close, but no cigar".

However, checking online re the house nowadays, it appears that it now does have a walkway, and it looks like the house could be the setting for the Numi advertising photos:

As to the sexual subtext in the Kohler-Numi advertising campaign, yeah that's weird. Well, perhaps money isn't enough to excite the plutocracy these days (after all, they have so much that it may bore them), so if Viagra doesn't work either, perhaps all that's left as arousal/seduction aid is to buy an exorbitantly-priced toilet and plant it in the corner of the living room! They can then sit on their "throne" overlooking the whole city! Except that from its position, they'd be facing away from the city. That's it! --- When the users stand up, they'll get off on mooning the plebeians below (if only in spirit; unless it's removable, the lid would actually be in the way). Whatever may be occurring, it's too weird to psychoanalyze.

Anne Lavoie said...

Speaking of bullshit, Obama said this at the MLK memorial dedication: "The civil rights leader would want us to challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing those who work there."

Have we EVER heard him call out the right wing for demonizing liberals or Democrats in general? Or how about the protesters who have been demonized by the right wing? Nope. Only his savvy businessmen buddies deserve his defense.

Obama also recently defended his savvy friends on Wall Street by saying: "They haven't NECESSARILY done anything illegal." And he is not about to order an investigation by his Justice Dept. to check his assumption about their 'excesses'. EXCESSES?

So when we speak the truth about Wall Street crimes, I mean excesses, he calls it demonizing. Truth = Demonizing. Holy Crap!

Demon is as demon does, as Forrest Gump might say. When a President equates speaking the truth with demonizing, and writes off crimes as innocent excesses, can we have any doubts about him?

As has been pointed out even by his supporters, Obama is the lesser of two Evils. It couldn't be more obvious if he sprouted horns.

Oh, oh, Sister Mary Mean is going to come after me now!

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks for solving the mystery of the ad. Now we know that the creative folks in this million dollar ad campaign are idea thieves, much as their clients are thieves of the monetary sort.

Sister Mary Mean said...

Thou may hate the sin, but love the sinner. Or, as Barry always says, forgive and forget, look forward not backward and laugh all the way to the bank and a second term. Money=Speech=Re-election.

Anne Lavoie said...

@Sister Mary Mean

Wow, you swooped down like a lightning bolt! So good to know you are still looking over us from on high, and I really appreciate that you didn't assign me penance this time. Praise be.

BTW, Elizabeth Warren was another one that Obomba couldn't manage to defend. Talk about being demonized! Anyway, I am looking forward to leaving him in the dust bin of history. Worst Republican President ever.

Valerie said...

Krugman has a good column today and Isobel (#2) writes on this theme - time to ditch the Democrats unless they make a sharp and strong turn to the left. I am so in love with these protesters for waking America out of the dream that all is well is Washington.

Valerie said...

Is there someone out there who understands the more complex side of economics following the implementation of the Volcker Rule? It sounds quite good - much like Glass Steagall - at least to me. But I have a feeling that there are lots of loop holes for the bankers to exploit. Has anyone read a good analysis of it? It sounds like Obama backs it – which has me suspicious since he is so buddy-buddy with the banking industry.

Kat said...

@Anne-- God, he really said that?! Shameless is the word that comes to mind. I swear, every single day there is some new development that makes me firmer in my resolve to not vote for him.Checked out the photo gallery at Kohler. Now that is a couple that honors their toilet. I do so wish that I could see one in person! Sadly, I would have to drive 166 miles to see this remarkable fixture.

Valerie said...

OK – I was curious about the Volcker Rule when I read somewhere that the Wall Street bankers were more occupied and concerned with the Volcker Rule (a draft has been leaked to the press) than the protesters.

On the surface the Volcker Rule sounds good – very Glass Steagallish – but it neglects to stop commercial banks from dealing in derivatives. Robert Reich does a better job describing this than I can but it is as I expected – a giant loophole for the banksters. Robert Sheer has a more positive tone toward the Volcker Rule but he neglects to address the derivatives issue.

Forbes doesn’t seem all that concerned – which actually makes me concerned. Although it sounds like it will hurt Goldman Sachs more than any other banking casino – hooray!

Anyway, thought some in the Garcia Brigade might be interested in what I found.

jestar said...

Only a plutocrat would know what he really wants, Check out Kohler himself.

Anne Lavoie said...


Thanks for the info. There is a piece about this in Huffington Post today by Ted Kaufman, one of the good guys.

You were right about being wary of Obama. He is pulling another one of his slick tricks to fool us into thinking he is a reasonable guy who will rein in the 'excesses' of Wall St. In our dreams.

Anne Lavoie said...


Can someone help me improve this for my Occupy event tomorrow?

Washington Sells
Wall Street Buys
We Get Screwed
So We Multiply!
Now We'll Multiply! or
So We'll Occupy! or
Now We'll Occupy!

I wanted to be a bit more graphic with the Pimps and Johns and Whores theme to catch people's attention, but I couldn't figure it out. Any help is appreciated.

James F Traynor said...

The whole idea of derivatives (essentially securitized debt) is a con game. It's financial musical chairs in which no one but the securitizers (banks) knows how many chairs or how many players there are. Derivatives should be banned, outlawed but, since banks and hedge funds have made such enormous profits dealing in them, any attempt at regulating their formation and trading is strongly opposed by the financial community. The Volcker Rule is a bandaid and even that is being effectively resisted.

Justice Network said...

@ James F Traynor

Yes James, derivatives are a musical chair con game. Derivatives are the weapons of economic mass destruction...

As reported by Zero Hedge, "the Bank of America shifted...up to the total of $53 trillion of the total derivatives it held as of June 30 on its books at Q2 from the Holding its retail bank...The reason for the transfer? Bank customers who were uneasy with the fact that suddenly the collateral backstoping the operating entity handling their counterparty risk was downgraded to just above junk, demanded that said counterparty risk be mitigated by the bank's $1 trillon in deposits."

As Bloomberg reported, "Bank of America...hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary flush with insured deposits, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation."

"The Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. disagree over the transfers, which are being requested by counterparties, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The Fed has signaled that it favors moving the derivatives to give relief to the bank holding company, while the FDIC, which would have to pay off depositors in the event of a bank failure, is objecting, said the people. The bank doesn’t believe regulatory approval is needed, said people with knowledge of its position."

So we heard this tune before. Too Big Too Fail. Step up taxpayers (suckers) for another bailout waltz. Any chance Bank of America will fail according to the rules of capitalism? One of these days the music will stop, a triggering event will occur, and the sugar will hit the fan.

What are those crazy OWS types complaining about? Oh, financial Armageddon, among other things.

Neil Gillespie