Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson Police Show the Way to Facism USA Style:  This Is How You Wind Up With Michael Brown, Dead in the Middle of the Road (Social Media To Blame)  Run for Your Life



The police are on the way.

Hide.

There is something gone badly wrong in the way police are taught to look at civilians these days. This is the logic of an occupying power being employed on American citizens. Ever since 9/11, when we all began to be told that we were going to have to bend a little bit, and then a little bit more, to authority or else we'd all die, the police in this country have been militarized in their tactics and in their equipment, which is bad enough, but in their attitudes and their mentality, which is far, far worse.

Suspicion has bled into weaponized paranoia, especially in the case of black and brown people, especially in the case of young men who are black or brown, but this is not About Race because nothing ever is About Race. Even the potential of a threat requires a deadly response, Dick Cheney's one-percent idea brought to American cities and towns until Salt Lake City, of all places, winds up with cops who are deadlier on the streets than drug dealers.

This is how you wind up with Darren Wilson. This is how you wind up with Michael Brown, dead in the middle of the road. This is how Darren Wilson walks, tonight, for the killing of Michael Brown. This is how you end up with an American horror story.

Jesus Mary, this Bob McCulloch guy may be the single greasiest public servant I've ever encountered. I've never seen a DA who was so damned proud of himself for putting a grand jury on automatic pilot. (See, "Ham sandwich, indictment of.") And I've never seen such a perfect mixture of condescension and willful nonfeasance in my many years of watching how law enforcement in this country operates.

This, after all, is a guy who once personally wrangled a grand jury to discover the identity of a whistleblower. This is a guy who once lied through his teeth about another police shooting, this one involving a car that allegedly "charged" a couple of officers, much as Michael Brown allegedly "charged" Darren Wilson. The kindest evaluation of McCulloch's record is that he is a very active prosecutor with a very clear sense of what he can make a grand jury do, if he chooses to do so, which he did not in this case, for reasons that are far from unclear.

In the most high-profile case of his career, prosecutor Bob McCulloch insisted he was just a feather in the wind, just gathering evidence so the grand jury could make up its own mind, not directing it at all. And then, Monday night, he hummina-hummina'ed for seven full minutes before announcing the least shocking news of the day. Darren Wilson did not commit a crime by shooting Michael Brown dead in broad daylight in the middle of the street. But Bob McCulloch, public servant, knows what the real problem with this investigation was.

"The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about, following closely behind with the non-stop rumors on social media."

Social media. He actually fking said that.

Nothing good will come of this.

Nothing at all.


Charles Pierce

November 24, 2014


Esquire

Friday, November 21, 2014

(Falcon of War Flying High)  Citigroup Banker (Another One) Dies Violently Along with Final Nail In Casket of U.S. Reporting  (Calling Jack Webb!)  À Bientôt, Mike Nichols



Worst President Ever???

R.I.P. Mike Nichols
If you like the floozies who pose as news reporters today you're gonna be crazy about the makeup of future newsrooms. Get ready for a real fast-and-furious free ride (for them).

The Falcon Can No Longer Hear the Falconer

Moral deafness pervades the culture arriving on the back of freely-dispensed taxpayer cash? And whence cometh the bankers?*

A Citigroup Banker Dies – Along With Responsible Press Reporting


By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
November 20, 2014


Shawn D. Miller

Shawn D. Miller

Depending on where and when you got your news yesterday on the tragic death of Shawn D. Miller, a Managing Director of Wall Street mega bank, Citigroup, you were either emphatically told he died of a suicide or you were led to believe he was murdered. By late evening yesterday, the story had disintegrated into wild speculation. "The New York Daily News" ran this stunning headline, based on anonymous sources, at 9:22 p.m.:  “Banker, 42, slashed his own throat in Manhattan bathtub during drug- and booze-filled bender:  sources.”

It is becoming abundantly clear that if you work for a major Wall Street firm and die a sudden death, it will be shaped, molded, twisted and contorted until it fits with the suicide narrative – no matter how strongly the facts argue otherwise.

Building Where Shawn D. Miller Died in the Financial District of Manhattan

Building Where Shawn D. Miller Died in the Financial District of Manhattan

This is what we can reliably report this morning:  Police were called to the scene at 120 Greenwich Street at 3:11 p.m. on Tuesday, November 18, a trendy, upscale area of Tribeca in Lower Manhattan. A friend of Miller’s had become concerned when he could not reach him by phone and called the doorman of the building to ask him to check on him. The doorman found Miller in the tub of his bathroom with knife lacerations to the throat and arms and called the police. EMS responders declared Miller dead at the scene.

All of this occurred on Tuesday afternoon, giving the "New York Post" plenty of time to check and double check their facts with the New York Police Department. In an on line post at the "New York Post" web site at 6:30 a.m. yesterday – Wednesday, the day after the death – the "New York Post" ran the following bold headline:  “Banker found dead with throat slit in apparent suicide:  cops.” That article reported that the police believed it was a suicide because “a knife was found under his body, sources said.”

But at 3:14 p.m. yesterday, the international wire service, "Reuters," reported that “no weapon was found.”

At 4:05 p.m. yesterday, the "New York Post" ran a new headline:  “Hunt on for man last seen with dead Citigroup exec.” This article states that “Police have not yet found the weapon used to cut Miller’s throat,” confirming what was reported by "Reuters" less than an hour earlier.

But then came the outrageous headline at the "New York Daily News" at 9:22 p.m. last evening, based on unnamed sources, suggesting that Miller had gone on a drug- and booze-filled bender and killed himself. The newspaper reported:  “When crime scene investigators moved Miller’s body, they discovered a knife under him, leading them to believe he slashed his own throat and collapsed into the tub on top of the weapon, sources said.”

The wild and contradictory reporting instantly reminded us of how the London dailies had reported on the tragic death of JPMorgan Vice President, Gabriel Magee, in January of this year. Magee’s body was found in a pool of blood on a ninth floor landing of JPMorgan’s European headquarters building in London.

The "London Evening Standard" tweeted:  “Bankers watch JP Morgan IT exec fall to his death from roof of London HQ,” which linked to their article declaring that “A man plunged to his death from a Canary Wharf tower in front of thousands of horrified commuters today.”

The "London Evening Standard"’s reporting was flatly contradicted by the "Sunday Times," which reported that “Gabriel Magee’s body lay for several hours before it was found at 8am last Tuesday.”

No single witness was ever identified by the police to say they had observed Magee plunging from the top of the building. The ninth floor landing was accessible from an inside stairway of the building, meaning his body could have arrived there through means other than a fall.

Both Citigroup and JPMorgan have paid billions of dollars to settle fraud charges by regulators. Both are also under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. In addition, both banks hold life insurance on many of their employees. When an employee dies, the death benefit is paid to the corporation tax free.

The practice is called Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI). Just four of Wall Street’s largest banks (JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup) hold a total of $68.1 billion in Bank-Owned Life Insurance assets according to their regulatory filings. According to Michael Myers, an expert on BOLI, those assets could potentially mean that just these four banks are holding $681 billion in face amount of life insurance on their workers, or possibly even more.

Shawn D. Miller Headline at the New York Daily News

Shawn D. Miller Headline at the "New York Daily News"

See Related Articles:

Profiteering on Banker Deaths:  Regulator Says Public Has No Right to Details

Banking Deaths:  Why JPMorgan Stands Out 

Three New JPMorgan IT Deaths Include Alleged Murder-Suicide

Suspicious Deaths of Bankers Are Now Classified as “Trade Secrets” by Federal Regulator 

JPMorgan Vice President’s Death in London Shines a Light on the Bank’s Close Ties to the CIA

Suspicious Death of JPMorgan Vice President, Gabriel Magee, Under Investigation in London

As Bank Deaths Continue to Shock, Documents Reveal JPMorgan Has Been Patenting Death Derivatives

Silicon Valley exec threatens the journalists who cover him. Where does the financing behind him come from? Round up the usual suspects.
*Lockheed learned a number of things from the L-1101 experience. First and foremost, it didn't pay to compete in the private sector. Instead, the company shifted gears; these days 80 percent of its business comes from federal government contracts. Moreover, Lockheed would load the government with its own people and then hire former defense department employees, creating a revolving door that would guarantee friends in the right places. That goal, of course, has been achieved and sustained.

Also in the wake of the L-1011 debacle, Lockheed's business practices became aggressive in the extreme. It charged the Pentagon $646 for a toilet seat and delivered C-5A transport planes - that cost millions of dollars - without installing thousands of essential parts. It paid bribes to foreign officials to help unload planes no one wanted, including giant long-distance transports to Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil and Italy, until the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 made such actions illegal. Undeterred, in 1995 Lockheed paid an Egyptian official $1.2 million to secure a contract for three C-130 cargo planes.

A Lockheed executive promised a federal judge that the company would henceforth make a "commitment to the highest ethical standards of conduct," but this was not until it was obliged to pay $145.3 million in penalties. Also, in 1994, Lockheed received a $13 million fine under the Arms Export Control Act when it supplied information that could have been used to improve the accuracy of Chinese ballistic missiles. The U.S. government charged Lockheed with 30 violations of arms export laws in connection with having aided Chinese satellite technology.


Lockheed also learned never again to miss out on the chance to gobble up other defense contractors or merge with them on favorable terms. After developing the F-22 (later known as the F/A 22) with General Dynamics and Boeing, Lockheed took over General Dynamics' Forth Worth aircraft division. And in 1995, it made the decision that would change the face of the industry. Lockheed would merge with Martin Marietta, which itself had gobbled up the aerospace division of General Electric. President Clinton wanted the merger so a new, more technologically advanced company could emerge, capable of building a new Joint Strike Fighter supersonic warplane.


Lockheed met secretly with its financial advisor, Morgan Stanley, which considered the deal beneficial, at least to the stock market. Dick Cheney served on the Board of Morgan Stanley. His 2004 financial disclosure statement lists Lockheed stock options and $50,000 in Lockheed stock, but also investments in a number of Morgan Stanley funds. In 2000, "The New York Times" reported that "Mr. Cheney has a much larger brokerage account at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, on whose board he serves, but he did not report any trades in that account on his and his wife's tax returns.... Mr. Cheney and his wife Lynne had previously disclosed only the first two pages of their tax returns for 1990 through 1999, holding back the supporting documentation that show details of investment income."


Overall, the new Lockheed Martin received about $1 billion from U.S. government coffers for costs related to the merger, which as Geov Parrish noted in Mother Jones, included "approximately $31 million" paid in executive bonuses.


But all did not go well with the merger. Lockheed Martin incurred further debt when it acquired the defense electronics and system integration business of Loral Space & Communications. Joint ventures with Russia to launch satellites also cost Lockheed Martin a considerable amount of money. Lockheed poured almost a billion dollars into the ventures as of 1999 before security issues limited the number of Russian launches of U.S. built satellites to 20.


Then, in 1999, with profits tumbling, Vance Coffman, the chairman and now CEO, shook up the company, reorganizing its management structure to create what it described as a "new customer focused organizational realignment." In short, it was a strategy designed to respond to another lesson learned in the course of doing business:  By becoming part of the decision-making process, Lockheed Martin could ensure that defense budgets would expand and not contract.


The shakeup got into high gear as the price of its shares tumbled to its all-time low of $16.375. Executives left in droves. Lockheed Martin announced the retirement of Peter Teets, the company's president and chief operating officer. (Two years later Teets was appointed as undersecretary of the Air Force in the Bush administration.) Coffman chaired a search committee for new blood, eventually appointing as CFO (and in 2001, CEO) Robert J. Stevens, formerly a vice president of Lockheed Martin's strategic development organization. Stevens, says Jackson, is "as straight arrow as you get, an all-American guy," who "polishes his own shoes."


While working as head of strategic planning, Stevens had devised a strategy he could implement as CEO to turn Lockheed Martin around and make it the master of its fate. And as he served on Bush's Commission to Examine the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry from 2001 to 2002, he had the president's ear.


In 1999, when Stevens left strategic planning to become chief financial officer, Jackson became vice president for strategy and planning, their careers intersecting at a crucial time. Stevens developed the strategy for Lockheed to outpace Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman as the top Pentagon contractor through aggressively pursuing federal contracts while eschewing the risks of the marketplace in the private sector. He started pouring large sums of PAC money to members of Congress to garner their cooperation and hired the armies of lobbyists for which Lockheed Martin became famous.

According to Jackson, Lockheed Martin has hired "200 lobbyists," who in turn "hire other lobbyists" to work on Lockheed accounts. (One of them is Katherine Armstrong, daughter of a policy aide to Ronald Reagan. It was Katherine Armstrong who hosted the infamous Dick Cheney hunting party at Armstrong Ranch where Cheney accidentally shot a leading Republican lawyer.) Fees to lobbyists in a given year likely exceed $10 million.


When the United States gives military aid to its allies, the benefits accrue to Lockheed Martin, too. Israel, for example, spends much of the $1.8 billion a year it receives in military aid from the U.S. on planes and missile systems from Lockheed - and that's in years when it is not actively at war with Hezbollah. Lockheed's market is worldwide, selling F-16 fighters, surveillance software and other equipment to more than 40 countries. The United Arab Emirates, forced to give up its deal to run American ports through its state-run Dubai entity, has been a major customer, spending more than $6 billion on F-16 fighters in 2000 as it looked forward to the Bush presidency. No wonder Bush threatened to veto legislation barring the ports deal.


Stevens has boasted that Lockheed Martin not only creates the technology, it makes military policy as well. He told "The New York Times" in November of 2004 that Lockheed stands at "the intersection of policy and technology," which, he observed, "is really a very interesting place to be. We are deployed, entirely in developing daunting technology" that "requires thinking through the policy dimensions of national security as well as technology." He acknowledges "this is not a business where in the purest economical sense there's a broad market of supply and demand."


And although he may shine his own shoes, Stevens is paid $7 million a year, not counting bonuses and stock options. In 2002, Stevens left Bush's aerospace commission, becoming a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, and Jackson left Lockheed Martin to work on the Project on Transitional Democracies and the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Stevens and Jackson were tag team wrestlers, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, of Team Lockheed. And, increasingly, the distinction between Lockheed Martin and the government began to blur as the war in Iraq became inevitable.


With the 2002 election over and Democrats increasingly hawkish on Iraq, Bush made his State of the Union address on January 29, 2003, uttering this now famous line:  "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The threat of Saddam Hussein was established and the American people bought it. And the person claiming responsibility for leaving that line in was Hadley.


In February of 2003, Jackson helped draft a declaration for the 10 Eastern European foreign ministers - all countries up for NATO membership and associated with Jackson's expansion efforts - that became known as the "Vilnius Ten," rebuking French President Jacques Chirac's opposition to attacking Iraq. The declaration stated:  "The newest members of the European community agree that we must confront the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and that the United Nations must act now." Jackson achieved this success when he attended a dinner party at the Slovak embassy in Washington and told assembled diplomats from the countries, according to The American Prospect's John B. Judis, that signing the declaration would help win U.S. approval of their membership.


On March 20, 2003, America attacked Iraq. "Shock and Awe" began at night, with Lockheed Martin Stealth F-117 Nighthawks leading the assault. Looking like gigantic, venomous black bats, the V-shaped killers with their sharply spiked tail wings swept over Baghdad in search of the concrete shelters and reinforced bunkers where it was believed Saddam Hussein and his inner circle were concealed. Light ground forces moved swiftly toward Baghdad. An American blitzkrieg had been launched.


The F-117 had been reconfigured to carry a 2,000-pound bunker buster bomb, accurately guided by new technology to hit its target at a vertical impact angle with a warhead called the BLU-109. The Lockheed Missiles and Space Company manufactured it. Lockheed's Keyhole and Lacrosse satellites beamed images from the war back to the military, employing its Theater Battle Management Core Systems, specialized software used to coordinate communications between intelligence systems and ground forces to assist the air campaign. Lockheed U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird spy planes joined with its F-16 and the F/A 22 jet fighters in support of the F-117s. Army and Marine ground troops unleashed Lockheed Hellfire laser-guided anti-armor missiles to demolish helicopters and land attack vehicles, and PAC-3 missiles, a highly agile, "hit-to-kill" interceptor, to provide air defense for ground combat forces. Lockheed Javelin portable missiles were used to considerable effect, particularly later in the invasion of Fallujah. Lockheed's "arsenal of democracy" was in full display.


Five days later, Bush asked Congress for $74.7 billion to pay for six months of combat, separate from the regular defense budget. But by June, it had become obvious that the "uranium from Africa" intelligence had been deeply flawed and erroneous. Acknowledging the CIA had warned him in two separate memos that the Agency would not stand by the information suggesting Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program, Stephen Hadley had this to say about it:  "When the language in the drafts of the State of the Union referred to efforts to acquire natural uranium, I should have either asked that they - the 16 words given to that subject - be stricken, or I should have alerted DCI Tenet. And had I done so, this would have avoided the whole current controversy. And in my current position, I am the senior-most official within the NSC staff, directly responsible for the substantive review and clearance of presidential speeches. The president and the national security advisor look to me to ensure that the substantive statements in those speeches are the ones in which the president can have confidence. And it is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility in connection with the inclusion of these 16 words in the speech that he gave on the 28th of January."


Yet when Colin Powell resigned as secretary of state and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice took his place, Stephen Hadley was promoted to take her position as national security advisor. Hadley's "error" had enabled Bush to go to war, the big payoff for Lockheed Martin.


But how had the British government gotten the intelligence on the African uranium so wrong? How had MI6, the most fabled intelligence service in the world, allowed itself to be misled by dubious sources? While Tony Blair and his government deny any pressure was put on its intelligence services, the stakes were high for Britain to join America in the war. And here again Lockheed loomed large.


In October of 2001, the Pentagon announced it was awarding Lockheed Martin a nearly $20 billion contract for the next phase of the development of the Joint Strike Fighter, called the F-35. To the industry, it was "the deal of the century," despite the fact that the century had only just begun. In beating out Boeing, Lockheed asserted itself as the undisputed leader of military contractors for decades to come, if not forever.

But it did not go it alone. It brought in on the deal not only Northrop Grumman, but also the beleaguered BAE Systems, Britain's, and Europe's, largest defense contractor. Under the terms of the contract, BAE was responsible for building the aft fuselage and the tails; Lockheed the forward fuselage and wings; and Northrop the middle fuselage.


On September 30, 2005, following Britain's participation in the invasion of Iraq and with its ground troops still on the ground as other coalition partners, such as Spain, pulled out their troops, according to John A. Smith of Lockheed's Fort Worth operation:  "Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Defense formalized a $25.7 billion Joint Strike Fighter system development and demonstration contract that effectively replaces the $19.7 billion SDD contract under which the JSF was operating previously." As this was all covered by the fiscal year 2005 Congressional budget, it "requires no additional Congressional funding."


Smith explains that nine countries will use the F-35 - the United States, the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway - with all nine negotiating for what they will buy in the future, with sales worth $257 billion. (Israel has recently indicated its intention of converting its air force to F-35s in a deal worth $5 billion.) He explains that this is the fifth year of 12 in the systems development stage. Smith further explains that there is "no fixed percentage" as to how the three participating companies receive money, which is paid out on an "as needed" basis.


Bush couldn't go into Iraq without a major ally and Lockheed knew it. To sweeten the pot for Blair, Lockheed dragged BAE Systems into the F-35 deal. When BAE still struggled prior to the war (Goldman Sachs reported that BAE would have to cut its dividend), Lockheed began renegotiating the contract - with the new version unveiled in 2005, giving BAE billions more to be paid "as needed." This put BAE back on its feet, able to build the Typhoon jet fighter for sale to Saudi Arabia in a $70 billion deal, saving 10,000 BAE jobs and 4,000 Rolls-Royce jet engine building jobs.


Meanwhile, a government accountability office report for Congress says the Defense Department is investing too heavily in the F-35 without knowing whether the aircraft will work properly. The report criticizes the Pentagon plan to spend $49 billion on 424 fighters before full testing on the stealth plane is completed in 2013. "Starting production before ensuring the design is mature through flight testing significantly increases the risk of costly design change that will push the program over budget and behind schedule," the report concludes. But that is all light years away, as far as Lockheed and BAE are concerned. As Bob Elrod, a senior executive at Lockheed's fighter plane division boasted, "We're looking at world domination of the market."


To make things even better for Blair, Lockheed brought the British in on the new presidential helicopter deal, notwithstanding the loud protests of then-Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman from Connecticut, where Sikorsky - America's leading helicopter manufacturer and the losing bidder - is located.


Meanwhile Jackson closed down the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in June 2003 because its human rights rationale for the war had been abandoned.


"We were cut out," Jackson explains, "after the whole thing went to Rumsfeld. The Department of Defense didn't want anyone looking over their shoulder. Rumsfeld took it all away from State." Jackson had lined up people like Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Natan Sharansky of Israel and Carl Bildt, the prime minister of Sweden, to support the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, but Bush and Rumsfeld took off in another direction. Stephen Hadley explained to Jackson that "terrorism and WMDs" were now the rationale for the war, not human rights.


News of torture at Abu Ghraib prison undermined all of Jackson's efforts and, to his credit, he called for Rumsfeld's resignation. He acknowledges that things are not going well in Iraq, but still sees the removal of Saddam Hussein as morally justified. He declines to predict how it will all end.


Poland, one of the countries Bruce Jackson helped gain membership in NATO, also joined the "coalition of the willing," sending troops to Iraq as a desperate Bush scrambled to find allies in the war. Poland also spent 976 million Euros (more than $1.6 billion) in 2006 upgrading its military, almost all of it going to Lockheed Martin for the first eight F-16 warplanes to be delivered this year, part of a total of the 48 F-16s it has ordered. Mounted on a wall in Jackson's apartment is a glass case containing an ornate antique Polish sword and scabbard, a gift in appreciation of his efforts. Lockheed Martin must have been appreciative, as well:  Jackson can tell you the exact price of Lockheed Martin shares.


But Jackson and Hadley - promoted to national security advisor despite his "error" on the uranium - weren't the only beneficiaries among the core group of war advocates. In Washington, the revolving door is already working to the benefit of many involved. Randy Scheunemann, for instance, the president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, became president of the Mercury Group, which lobbied for Lockheed Martin and other corporate clients, before setting up his own firm, Scheunemann and Associates, and then Orion Strategies, which, among other things, consults with companies and countries seeking to do business in Iraq. Rend Al-Rahim Francke, member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and founder of the Iraq Foundation that facilitated the film Voices of Iraq, was appointed Iraqi ambassador to the United States in November of 2003.


When Assistant Secretary of Defense Powell Moore left the government in 2005, though not an attorney, he joined the powerful international law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge, which specializes in aerospace and defense, as managing director of federal government relations.

According to the firm's description of its activities, it provides "legal services to some of the largest and fastest growing companies in the aerospace, electronics and information technology field, names such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, SAIC and TRW."

Edward C. Aldridge, who was the undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics responsible for the November 2001 approval of the Lockheed contract to build F-35, left government in 2003 and now serves on Lockheed's board of directors. That's Washington in an era when the war companies run things.


What, if anything, can be done about the oligarchy of the war companies and the K Street lobbyists pulling the strings in our capital? Is there no way to break the iron triangle? Jackson agrees that contractors doing business with the government should be prohibited by law from making political contributions. He says the contractors would favor this because the situation is not as most people think it is. He insists it's the elected officials who "shake down" the contractors for contributions and not the other way around. Of course, this may be the best indicator, in a roundabout way, of just how powerful the war companies are - in the name of special interest reform the legislators would be cut out of the action from the flow of defense money they can apparently no longer control.


Former Long Island Democratic Representative Otis Pike, who served in the Marines and was a hawk on Vietnam, once said privately, while still in office, that the only solution was to "nationalize" the defense industry. Pike's attitude regarding national security evolved as a result of experiences chairing the Pike Committee investigating abuses by the CIA in the 1970s. Since half of Lockheed Martin's business now comes from its IT division, there is no reason why it should not be broken up under the anti-trust laws into two separate companies, without any damage to its ability to innovate. Also, a war-profits tax of the type imposed by Britain on its military contractors during World War I to help pay for the cost of the war - since they were profiting from it - might be in order.


But none of this is the concern of the beautiful and the brilliant young techies, black, white, brown and yellow, male and female, gay and straight, who throng to Washington to work for the subcontracting firms locating there in droves. In March of 2005, Lockheed Martin acquired Sytex, which provides "personnel and technological solutions to the Pentagon's Northern Command, the Army Intelligence and Strategic Command and the Department of Homeland Security," making Lockheed one of the biggest recruiters of private interrogators, "unaccountable to any legal authority or disciplining procedure," as Corpwatch puts it.


In March of 2006, Lockheed Martin won the lion's share of a $20 billion contract by the U.S. Army to develop cutting-edge technology to support the Army's "reconnaissance, communications, surveillance and intelligence gathering in combat situations." According to Lockheed spokeswoman Wendy Owen this was a "major victory" for Lockheed Martin, which has been aggressively promoting its systems and information technology divisions, which account for half of its business. It already provides surveillance services for United States ports.


That night, March 16, when the local press announced the $20 billion contract, Cafe Citron, off Dupont Circle, was packed with revelers. Latin music throbbed as they laughed and shouted, partying with abandon, knocking down the drinks. For those in the war business, life is good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Connections Between the Mafia and Wall Street   (Stark Parallels Between Gambino Crime Family and JPMorgan Chase)  Why Do These Persist After Madoff's Escape from View? (Jamie Dimon Worth the Bonuses!)



No comment here.

The joke is on US.

From our friend, Pam, at Wall Street on Parade.

Wiseguys:  Drawing Parallels Between the Mafia and Wall Street Persists


Pam Martens
November 19, 2014


Every now and then, someone raises the question of Mafia infiltration on Wall Street or suggests that Wall Street has become an Ivy-league educated, better tailored version of the mob. Now, two lawyers, Helen Davis Chaitman and Lance Gotthoffer have dramatically ratcheted up the debate, suggesting boldly in the latest chapter of their free on-line book that there are stark parallels between the Gambino crime family and JPMorgan Chase – the nation’s largest bank.

Writer Matt Taibbi had a similar epiphany back in 2012 in an article for Rolling Stone titled The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafia – the story of how major Wall Street firms conspired together to rig bidding in the municipal bond market. Taibbi writes:  “In fact, stripped of all the camouflaging financial verbiage, the crimes the defendants and their co-conspirators committed were virtually indistinguishable from the kind of thuggery practiced for decades by the Mafia, which has long made manipulation of public bids for things like garbage collection and construction contracts a cornerstone of its business.”

In 2009, the book, Nothing but Money by "New York Daily News" reporter Greg B. Smith was released, detailing actual Mafia infiltration in stock pump and dump schemes on Wall Street, albeit at small firms. That was preceded in 2003 by Born to Steal:  When the Mafia Hit Wall Street by long-time business writer and author, Gary Weiss. The Weiss book took an in-depth look at Mob-run stock brokerage firms selling phantom stocks by following the career of one of the stock swindlers, Louis Pasciuto, who eventually turned state witness.

But what attorneys Chaitman and Gotthoffer are doing is extraordinary and unprecedented. They are asking the public to seriously look at the parallels between the Mafia and JPMorgan Chase, a bank holding over $1.7 trillion in Federal Reserve assets and more than $1.3 trillion in deposits, the bulk of which are insured by the FDIC and ultimately backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer.

Lance Gotthoffer

Lance Gotthoffer

Chaitman is a nationally recognized litigator and author of "The Law of Lender Liability." She is also a Bernie Madoff victim who lost a large part of her life savings to his Ponzi scheme and then tenaciously represented other victims of his fraud in district and appellate courts. Chaitman has teamed up with fellow attorney, Lance Gotthoffer, to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the intersection of the Madoff fraud with the bank that was criminally charged by the U.S. Justice Department in the matter – JPMorgan Chase. (The bank signed a deferred prosecution agreement and paid $1.7 billion to the Madoff victims’ fund to avoid prosecution.)

The book is titled JPMadoff:  The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook. The authors are releasing a new chapter of the book each month as well as a quick means of contacting your legislator in Washington to urge Congress to “act in the interests of the American people, not in the interests of the financial institutions that are rich enough to make significant contributions.”


The latest chapter looks at the culture inside JPMorgan and provides a detailed portrait of some of the main insiders:  among them, Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon; General Counsel Stephen M. Cutler; and Lee R. Raymond, the Lead Independent Director on the JPMorgan Chase board. The public will be further shocked to learn that the members of JPMorgan’s board who have kept Dimon as the Chairman and CEO through an endless series of government charges of law breaking by the firm are paid the enormous sum of $245,000.

But the most damning parallel to a Mafia crime family are the crimes themselves:  they are unconscionable and they just don’t stop. Outside of the more than $3 billion that JPMorgan paid to settle both criminal and civil charges related to Madoff, below is the additional JPMorgan rap sheet Chaitman and Gotthoffer include in the book, spanning just the last four years.

“In April 2011, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $35 million to settle claims that it over-charged members of the military service on their mortgages in violation of the Service Members Civil Relief Act and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

“In March 2012, JPMorgan Chase paid the government $659 million to settle charges that it charged veterans hidden fees in mortgage refinancing transactions.

“In October 2012, JPMorgan Chase paid $1.2 billion to settle claims that it, along with other banks, conspired to set the price of credit and debit card interchange fees.

“On January 7, 2013, JPMorgan Chase announced that it had agreed to a settlement with the Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve Bank of charges that it had engaged in improper foreclosure practices.

“In September 2013, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $80 million in fines and $309 million in refunds to customers whom the Bank billed for credit monitoring services that the Bank never provided.

“On November 15, 2013, JPMorgan Chase announced that it had agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle claims that it defrauded investors in mortgage-backed securities in the time period between 2005—2008.

“On December 13, 2013, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay 79.9 million Euros to settle claims of the European Commission relating to illegal rigging of benchmark interest rates.

“In February 2012, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $110 million to settle claims that it over-charged customers for overdraft fees.

“In July 2013, JPMorgan Chase paid $410 million to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to settle claims of bidding manipulation of California and Midwest electricity markets.

“On November 19, 2013, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $13 billion to settle claims by the Department of Justice, the FDIC, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the States of California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, and to consumers, relating to fraudulent practices with respect to mortgage-backed securities.

“In November 2012, JPMorgan Chase paid $296,900,000 to the SEC to settle claims that it mis-stated information about the delinquency status of its mortgage portfolio.

“In December 2013, JPMorgan Chase paid $22.1 million to settle claims that the Bank imposed expensive and unnecessary flood insurance on homeowners whose mortgages the Bank serviced.”

That Jamie Dimon.

What a prince.



Fall has left the building.




Yummy swiss chard parmesan onion pizza from local market veggies.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

What We Know When We Accept Bought/Hyped News Reporting (A Big Fat But Extremely Persuasive NOTHING) Another Fake Bin Laden (and Job Growth) Story (QE Morphs) JPMorgan Owns NY Fed and All of US?



Norwegian film director reveals viral "Syrian hero boy" video a hoax to Invade Syria

This we read, but we read nothing as to why this may be so, assuming for argument’s sake it is. We are invited to accept that there is no reason worth reporting.
If it hasn't occurred to you at least several times over the last months (if not for decades before) that the news that the major media is reporting to denizens of the U.S. (and the West in general) is not just tainted with a smell of tricksyness flavored heavily by massive amounts of dollars at work internationally (and is demonstrably false), then maybe you're just not paying attention (anymore). Or have just lost interest in learning what's really going on in the world due to a history of invasive but secretive powerful-interest-protecting mendacity.

Again.

And again.

And if you don't read through this essay for the full meaning of bought-off reporting (and this is still going light as it is still a media maven voice), then no unexpected, threatening future events should displease you (very much anyway).

Salon steps up (making me wonder what the back story is there):

What Really Happened in Beijing:  Putin, Obama, Xi — And the Back Story the Media Won’t Tell You

Ukraine, Iran's nukes, the price of oil:  There are ties worthy of a Bourne film, if the media connected the dots

By way of events on the foreign side, the past few weeks start to resemble some once-in-a-while event in the heavens when everyone is supposed to go out and watch as the sun, moon and stars align. There are lots of things happening, and if we put them all together, the way Greek shepherds imagined constellations, a picture emerges. Time to draw the picture.

The situation on the ground in Ukraine is getting messy again. Equally, events of the past year now leave Ukraine’s economy not far from sheer extinction. You have not read of this because it does not fit the approved story, but Ukraine’s heart barely beats. Further east, we hear in the financial markets that the ruble’s decline brings Russia to the brink of another financial collapse.

Let’s see. Oil prices are now below $80 a barrel. It costs me nearly $20 less to put gasoline in my car than it did a year ago, and good enough. But why has the price of crude tumbled in so short an interval? It makes little sense when you gather the facts, and — goes without saying — you get no help with that from our media.

Let’s keep on trucking. Secretary of State Kerry went to Oman for another round of talks on the Iranian nuclear question last weekend. Russia recently emerged as a potentially key part of a deal, which will be the make-or-break of Kerry’s record. In effect, he now greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with one hand and punches him well below the belt with the other. Somewhere beyond our view this must make sense.

En avant! Obama went to Beijing last week for a sit-down with Xi Jinping, who makes Vladimir Putin look like George McGovern when he wants to, which is not infrequently. Still in the Chinese capital, our president then attended a meeting with other Asian leaders to push a trade agreement, one primary purpose of which is to isolate China by bringing the rest of the region into the neoliberal fold. (Or trying to. Washington will never get the overladen, overimposing Trans-Pacific Partnership off the ground, in my view.)

A big item on Xi’s agenda — he was in on the Pacific economic forum, too — was the recent launch of an Asians-only lending institution intended to rival the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank affiliate doing the West’s work in the East. Being entirely opposed to people helping themselves advance without American assistance and all that goes with it, Washington used all means possible to sink this ship. When Obama got off the plane in Beijing, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank had $50 billion in capital and 20 members, more to come in both categories.


Xi, meantime, had a productive encounter — another — with the formidable Vlad. My sources in attendance tell me both put in strong performances. In short order, Russia will send enough natural gas eastward to meet much of China’s demand and — miss this not — in the long run could price out American supplies in other Pacific markets, which are key to the success of the current production boom out West.

This is a lot of dots to connect. As I see it, the running themes in all this are two:   There is constructive activity and there is the destructive. Readers may think this oversimplifies, but for this there is the ever-lively comment box below. I am willing to listen.

Let’s go back to early September. On Nov. 5, Germany brokered a cease-fire between the Ukraine government in Kiev and the rebels in the eastern Donbass region. Washington made it plain it wanted no part of this, preferring to continue open hostilities. And then strange things happened.

Less than a week after the Minsk Protocol was signed, Kerry made a little-noted trip to Jeddah to see King Abdullah at his summer residence. When it was reported at all, this was put across as part of Kerry’s campaign to secure Arab support in the fight against the Islamic State.

Stop right there. That is not all there was to the visit, my trustworthy sources tell me. The other half of the visit had to do with Washington’s unabated desire to ruin the Russian economy. To do this, Kerry told the Saudis 1) to raise production and 2) to cut its crude price. Keep in mind these pertinent numbers:  The Saudis produce a barrel of oil for less than $30 as break-even in the national budget; the Russians need $105.

Shortly after Kerry’s visit, the Saudis began increasing production, sure enough — by more than 100,000 barrels daily during the rest of September, more apparently to come. Last week they dropped the price of Arab Light by 45 cents a barrel, Bloomberg News just reported. This has proven a market mover, sending prices to $78 a barrel at writing.

Think about this. Winter is coming, there are serious production outages now in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, other OPEC members are screaming for relief, and the Saudis make back-to-back moves certain to push falling prices still lower? You do the math, with Kerry’s unreported itinerary in mind, and to help you along I offer this from an extremely well-positioned source in the commodities markets:  “There are very big hands pushing oil into global supply now,” this source wrote in an e-mail note the other day.

The Russians, meantime, are reported to be sending soldiers and artillery back across, or maybe just across, the Ukrainian border. This we read, but we read nothing as to why this may be so, assuming for argument’s sake it is. We are invited to accept that there is no reason worth reporting.

I decline the invitation. The possibility-likelihood-probability — it is impossible to say, we are so ill-informed — is that these reported deployments are in reaction to moves kept out of sight. Given Washington’s disapproval of the Minsk accord and its underhanded manipulations in the oil markets since it was signed, I label this a likelihood, at least, maybe more.

As to the Ukrainian economy, this is getting sordid even before the International Monetary Fund gets its mitts on the place. A Royal Bank of Scotland analyst in Hong Kong, Roland Hinterkoerner, just published a tour d’horizon, a few of the highlights (or lowlights) being these:


  • With the Russian ruble cratering, Kiev recently had to remove a currency peg of 13 hryvnia to the dollar. It dropped 15 percent in the next five trading sessions. From a rate of 8 to 1 a year ago, it now cost 16 hryvnia to buy a dollar.

  • With the banking system in peril, a third of deposits had been withdrawn—before the currency collapsed, this is. “There is no way to repair this damage by doing some kind of recapitalization exercise that may still work in the eurozone,” the RBS man writes.
  • Efforts to stem the hryvnia’s fall have dangerously depleted foreign currency reserves. As of October, the central bank had $12.6 billion dollars in assets—taxi fare in the context.
  • Ukraine owes Russia $1.6 billion in gas bills by yearend—and then faces fees of $700 million a month for new supplies.
  • The Ukrainian automobile association, to burrow in slightly, just reported that new car registrations fell by 65 percent in October from the previous year, to 5,900 units—this in a nation of 46 million. The No. 1 producer, Saporisky Awtomobilebudiwny Sawod, turned out 1,007 vehicles. It has 21,000 employees on the payroll.
This kind of report leaves me nearly speechless — and our correspondents silent, of course. All that we have read of this past year, events taking place in the name of democracy and a better life for Ukrainians, comes to this. “The economy?” Hinterkoerner concludes. “What economy?”

Onward. “Going forward,” as the State Department’s chirpy spokespeople like to put it.

Kerry just finished up in Oman, where a round of talks on the Iran question were held just short of the Nov. 24 deadline for a deal. Russia’s role in these talks has suddenly grown potentially large. To break the impasse over Iran’s centrifuge count, Moscow offers to take most of Iran’s stockpile of unprocessed uranium and send back enriched fuel when Iran needs it to power the nuclear energy program it wants. This is a reprise of an idea first floated five years ago, and this time Tehran finds it acceptable, at least tentatively.

Put this in the larger context:  With the prospect of ending three and a half decades of pointless hostility within reach, this is the moment to be battering Russia as near to a pulp as possible with sanctions, market interventions to its disadvantage, and who can tell what on the military side in Ukraine? You start to think Washington simply cannot help itself, and more on this in a minute.

And so to Beijing. Nobody will put it this way, but Obama arrived with one failure already accomplished and others to come. It was a mistake to oppose the Beijing-sponsored Asian lending institution in the first place, and already it begins to cost the Americans. The TPP trade pact is no further along, you may have noticed. The climate pact Obama and Xi signed looks so far like an agreement for the sake of an agreement — something Obama could bring home in triumph. The only “successes” American media were able to report were a few market-opening measures of benefit to specific American corporations. Nothing visionary, fair to say. A junior trade negotiator could have got this done.

And here is why, a point hardly lost on the Chinese:  There is no vision on the American side, only resistance and objection. Xi has consistently urged a “new great power relationship,” and if someone can explain why this is not a perfectly logical thought in the face of 21st century realities, again, to the comment box with it.

Washington’s claim to be an unrivaled Pacific power by destiny goes back to Teddy Roosevelt’s imperial cruise around the region after the U.S. defeated the Spanish and massacred the Jefferson-reading Filipino democratic movement. We simply cannot surrender the turf, realities be damned.

Xi, on the other hand, is all about realities, and not a few have to do with stronger ties with Russia. Xi and Putin shook hands on a historically huge, $400 billion gas deal earlier this year. How did Obama feel when the two announced during his visit that they have just reached another one, this time for $325 billion?

Details:  The gas will arrive from Siberia by way of a not-yet-constructed pipeline. PetroChina will take a 10 percent share of a subsidiary of Rosneft, the Russian gas company. By 2020, China will source a quarter of its demand from Russia; the Russians, in turn, will by then sell more gas to China than they now send to Europe.

Listen to the sound of the world turning. Wonder why your media do not pass it on to you.

Always more in this line, it seems. Russia is also in numerous other energy deals with China, including one that doubles petroleum exports to the People’s Republic. Then there is the Silk Road Investment Fund, a $40 billion vehicle to finance development projects in the seven nations of Central Asia. Relations with Vietnam and Japan, horrible of late, now appear to be on the mend. So much, maybe, for Washington’s role as protector of the region from the reawakening empire.

Add this up,” writes Ken Courtis, a close observer of the international scene for decades, “and you have the outline of a number of important initiatives which will be key to China’s increased lead role in development through investment in other emerging market economies.”

Courtis had a curious exchange with Putin during some of the economic forum sessions in Beijing. He asked if Russia would provide North Korea security guarantees if it agreed to renounce nuclear weapons.

Putin replied in part:  “Your question is too clever. This is not the moment yet even to raise that question, let alone answer it. Often, the problem in the world is not that small countries, who feel they are under siege, are unwilling to change. Rather, it is that the bigger countries are all piling on like bullies in the school yard – and they don’t know when to stop.”

I hope Kerry and Obama were listening at that moment. As Courtis heard it, “I think Putin was signaling to the West that there will be no more help from Russia with sanctions on North Korea, or anywhere else. One could also read Iran, Syria, Venezuela, etc., into that line of reasoning.”

I agree. We can start to connect the stars, then, see our constellation, and identify the costs of a consistent pattern of destructive behavior on Washington’s part here, there and everywhere. Specific to the case, the Sino-Russian energy deals cannot possibly be taken as other than long-term responses to the West’s renewal of Cold War hostilities toward Russia and its refusal to countenance China’s emergence. More narrowly, Putin wants an Iran deal to demonstrate Russia’s importance as a global player, yes, but he is not so far from fed up even there.

The obvious question is what we are watching as all these events unfold and then coalesce into a single reality. This peculiar moment seems to make this reality clear. Nostalgic for the period of primacy known as the American Century, the U.S. cannot accept its passing. Logically enough, the task becomes essentially destructive of the world as it is a-borning — an effort, in the end, to destroy history itself.

The planet’s other major powers, for all their imperfections and, indeed, disgraces, understand that their time has come, parity between West and non-West is upon us. This is the core reality, not to be lost sight of. China’s and Russia’s domestic problems are rather like America’s; they are to be resolved by Chinese, Russians and Americans, a point we understand easily when it comes to the interference of others but not the other way around, when the question is our interference elsewhere.

All too bad. But only for those who insist on holding on to the wrong end of the stick. This century’s winners and losers are not yet clearly marked — I have to preserve my optimism on this point — but with each passing event, each mistake, who is fated for which side becomes a little more evident.

I like the thought a Chinese scholar-turned-diplomat-turned-scholar again made at a dinner in Beijing the other night, as passed on by a friend. He spoke of Ukraine, but the remark applies across the board.

From our perspective, we see all of this agitation as noise at the surface,” he said. Then he cited that scene from “Macbeth” at Dunsinane Castle, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The Chinese — always attuned to the long view. Who are the idiots in this man’s rendering?

I leave it there.

(Patrick Smith is the author of “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century.” He was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter, @thefloutist.)


Comments:
bastawisee
@Schnitzler The rising value of the $ must be compensation to the Saudis for dropping the price of oil, don't you think?


The other side of increased Saudi oil production is that lower prices undercut the viability of the Keystone pipeline, which relies on higher prices to exceed high production and transportation costs.  Simply raising the question of intermediate term economic viability could substantially cut into North American oil production in the decade ahead and maintain the economic and political importance of Middle East oil for the foreseeable future.

@freebird:  Everyone wants to get their hands on sectors of the Ukrainian economy, and the more it implodes, the easier it will be for EVERYONE to get what they want: cheap agricultural products for the EU; coal, coke and steel for China; geo-political control for Russia; farmland for the US and the EU; cheap, educated labour force for whoever needs/wants it. If Ukraine becomes a rump state as it has always been in world affairs, the easier for other groups to pick and choose what they want. No further sanctions against Russia from the EU and the US? (They got what they wanted, which was a cheaper rouble.) No more talk of aid for Syria? (It's become a military free-for-all and a chance to test even more of the latest weaponry--same with the Russians in Ukraine.) Dropping price of oil doesn't just hurt Russia but also the frack-heads in the US, who also have huge costs of production. (Letting the Saudis pump more oil is a way for the US to "cede" production to the Saudis and allow them a freer hand in controlling or abusing OPEC production quotas.) China emerges as the world leader in everything: energy consumption AND balance-of-payment deals in renminbi, not USD; they will soon dominate global economic trading on a scale never before appreciated, especially as they ramp up green tech to sell to the rest of the world. Spending money with China means buying and selling renminbi. The Chinese hold a lot of USD in forex b/c they want to be in control of world currency markets before the collapse of the USD and the rise of the CNY (renminbi).
Who's ultimately behind all of this? Well, just go watch The Wizard of Oz again:   smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors. It's always the same people on both sides of the balance so that there's never any betting but just greed, greed, greed.

Why is it the leaders in China seem to make the best decisions now? Not to mention Putin who sees very clearly where his country's headed.

Short-term $$$$$$$?

Always a civilization killer.

(Ask the Romans.)

Why isn't their internal corruption leading them to shun green products and stop building industries within their increasingly expensive civilizations?

It's just a time problem maybe.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Paul Craig Roberts has some media-maven stories of his own for our continued dismay. I know that I've thought "What unbelievable nonsense!" many times since 9/11/01.

And did you catch his essay on the fake job-creation/growth statistics? It's a doozie.

Economists, or rather the few who haven’t sold their souls, know that the government’s economic data are pulled out of a magician’s hat and massaged to produce numbers contradicted by reality. Unemployment is measured according to methodologies designed to prevent its discovery. Inflation is measured according to methodologies designed to deny its existence. Jobs are reported that don’t exist, and GDP growth rates are announced that declines in real median family incomes and consumer credit make impossible.The poverty level income is set artificially low in order to minimize welfare spending.
The lies that Washington and the powerful private interest groups that control the US government tell us go unchallenged by the print and TV media and by NPR. The propaganda that Americans are fed is more extreme than the propaganda of Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984.
. . . The uncounted unemployed can be measured in the sharp 21st century decline in the labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate has declined because there are no jobs to participate in. But Washington, the financial media, and the bought and paid for economists lie. They say the participation rate is down because the baby boomers are retiring. However, as John Titus, Dave Kranzler, and I documented with the government’s own data in a recent column, the participation rate of baby boomers is the highest of all and the only one that is rising. . . . To supplement their Social Security pensions (a rigged CPI prevents or minimizes cost-of-living increases), retirees take the temporary, lowly paid jobs that are all that the US economy can produce.
. . . As I have pointed out for a decade, or longer, the US economy no longer creates First World jobs. The US economy creates jobs for waitresses and bartenders, hospital orderlies, and retail clerks. The fact that the complexion of the US work force is becoming Third World is not considered a notable problem by the media or financial press, and economists seem immune to the facts.
. . . If you look at the jobs that the BLS reports the US is creating, they are third-world jobs. How is the US “the world’s only superpower” when it cannot create a middle class job?

Oh well, who's listening anyway? It's just the ultimate House of Cards.

The Federal Reserve’s announcement that QE is terminated has improved the outlook for the US dollar. However, as Nomi Prins makes clear, QE has not ended, merely morphed. http://www.nomiprins.com/thoughts/2014/11/10/qe-isnt-dying-its-morphing.html

As Dave Kranzler and I (and no doubt others) have pointed out, a stable or rising dollar exchange value is the necessary foundation to the house of cards. Until three years ago, the dollar was losing ground rapidly with respect to gold. Since that time massive sales of uncovered shorts in the gold futures market have been used to drive down the gold price. . . . The extent of financial corruption involving collusion between the mega-banks and the financial authorities is unfathomable.

And no one in the U.S. even seems concerned except for when the next Kevin Spacey (great name, eh?) rerun is scheduled.

Another Fake Bin Laden Story

Paul Craig Roberts

November 7, 2014

RT, one of my favorite news sources, has fallen for a fake story put out by the Pentagon to support the fantasy story that a SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden, who died a second time in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a decade after his first death from illness and disease. ( http://rt.com/usa/202895-navy-seal-shot-binladen/)

This fake story together with the fake movie and the fake book by an alleged SEAL team member is the way the fake story of bin Laden’s murder is perpetrated. Bin Laden’s alleged demise at the hands of a SEAL team was a propaganda orchestration, the purpose of which was to give Obama a hero’s laurels and deep six Democratic talk of challenging his nomination for a second term.


Osama bin Laden died in December 2001 of renal failure and other health problems, having denied in his last recorded video any responsibility for 9/11, instead directing Americans to look inside their own government. The FBI itself has stated that there is no evidence that Osama bin Laden is responsible for 9/11. Bin Laden’s obituary appeared in numerous foreign and Arabic press, and also on Fox News.

No one can survive renal failure for a decade, and no dialysis machine was found in the alleged Abbottabad compound of bin Laden, who allegedly was murdered by SEALs a decade after his obituary notices.

Additionally, no one among the crew of the ship from which the White House reported bin Laden was buried at sea saw any such burial, and the sailors sent messages home to that effect. Somehow a burial was held onboard a ship on which there are constant watches and crew on alert at all hours, and no one witnessed it.


Additionally, the White House story of the alleged murder of bin Laden changed twice within the first 24 hours. The claim that Obama and his government watched the action transmitted live from cameras on the SEALs’ helmets was quickly abandoned, despite the release of a photo of the Obama regime intently focused on a TV set and alleged to be watching the live action. No video of the deed was ever released. To date there is no evidence whatsoever in behalf of the Obama regime’s claim. Not one tiny scrap. Just unsubstantiated self-serving claims.

Additionally, as I have made available on my website, witnesses interviewed by Pakistan TV reported that only one helicopter landed in Abbottabad and that when the occupants of the helicopter returned from the alleged bin Laden compound, the helicopter exploded on takeoff and there were no survivors. In other words, there was no bin Laden corpse to deliver to the ship that did not witness a burial and no SEAL hero to return who allegedly murdered an unarmed bin Laden. Moreover, the BBC interviewed residents in Abbottabad, including those next door to the alleged “bin Laden compound,” and all say that they knew the person who lived there and it was not bin Laden.

Any SEAL who was so totally stupid as to kill the unarmed “Terror Mastermind” would probably have been courtmartialed for incompetency. Look at the smiling face of the man Who Killed Bin Laden. He thinks that his claim that he murdered a man makes him a hero, a powerful comment on the moral degeneracy of Americans.

So what is this claim by Rob O’Neill about? He is presented as a “motivational speaker” in search of clients. What better ploy among gullible Americans than to claim “I am the one who shot bin Laden.” Reminds me of the western movie:  "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." What better way to give Rob O’Neill’s claim validity than for the Pentagon to denounce his revelation for breaking obligation to remain silent.

The Pentagon claims that O’Neill by claiming credit has painted a big target sign on our door asking ISIS to come get us.

What unbelievable nonsense. ISIS and anyone who believed Obama’s claim to have done in bin Laden already knew, if they believed the lie, that the Obama regime claimed responsibility for murdering an unarmed bin Laden. The reason the SEAL team was prevented from talking is that no member of the team was on the alleged mission.

Just as the ship from which bin Laden was allegedly buried has no witnesses to the deed, the SEAL unit, whose members formed the team that allegedly dispatched an unarmed Terrorist Mastermind rather than to take him into custody for questioning, mysteriously died in a helicopter crash when they were loaded in violation of procedures in an unprotected 1960s vintage helicopter and sent into a combat zone in Afghanistan shortly after the alleged raid on “bin Laden’s compound.”

For awhile there were news reports that the families of these dead SEALS do not believe one word of the government’s account. Moreover, the families reported receiving messages from the SEALs that suddenly they felt threatened and did not know why. The SEALs had been asking one another:  “Were you on the bin Laden mission?” Apparently, none were. And to keep this a secret, the SEALs were sent to their deaths.

Anyone who believes anything the US government says is gullible beyond the meaning of the word.
(Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.)

Continuing on in the wake of Tim Geithner's New York Fed leadership (and his tome's mea culpas, the few there were), the following dismaying major headline hardly even excites the D.C. pulse anymore. (Well, we don't want to punish our friends too much, do we?)

The New York Fed Has Contracted JPMorgan to Hold Over $1.7 Trillion of its QE Bonds Despite Two Felony Counts and Serial Charges of Crimes


The Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., which functions as the central bank of the United States, has farmed out much of its Quantitative Easing (QE) programs to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since the financial crisis of 2008. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has, in turn, contractually farmed out a hefty chunk of the logistics of that work to JPMorgan Chase in the last six years.

Sitting quietly on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s web site is a vendor agreement and other documents indicating that JPMorgan Chase holds all of the Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) that the New York Fed has purchased under its various Quantitative Easing programs. As of last Wednesday, that figure was $1.7 trillion dollars. (The New York Fed has confirmed that JPMorgan is custodian for these assets.)

In addition to holding the MBS, JPMorgan also has a contractual agreement to exercise discretion (its own judgment) in trading the surplus cash that sits in the New York Fed’s cash account. While JPMorgan is restricted to holding collateral backed by U.S. government securities for these cash trades in Repurchase Agreements, its approved list of counter parties include global banks variously charged with rigging the international interest rate benchmark known as Libor, money laundering, aiding and abetting tax evasion, and defrauding clients.

I'm guessing that they're no longer afraid now to let us know who's really in charge.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

(Bye Bye Blue Dawgs But No Thank You for New Dims Gift)   Obstruction Pays Off for Republicans (F*cks Rest of Country, So It's All GOOD!)  Market Liars Still Rule  (Dead In the USA?)  Coal Kills Thousands  (Dirty Dirty Amazon)



BREAKING (Your Attention, Please!):

U.S. Companies Now Stash $2 Trillion Overseas. That's More Than They Have Onshore

U.S. companies are for the first time holding more than $2 trillion overseas, according to an analysis that paints a bleak picture of whether that money will make its way home and the limited economic impact it would have even if it does.

Corporate cash has hit $2.1 trillion, a sixfold increase over the past 12 years, Capital Economics said, citing its own database as well as that of Audit Analytics and other sources. There is no official total, but the firm also used regulatory filings that included "indefinitely reinvested foreign earnings" to glean the total sitting outside U.S. borders.

"The latest signs suggest that, as business confidence improves in light of the continued economic recovery, U.S. firms are starting to hold less cash domestically," Capital economists Paul Dales and Andrew Hunter said in a report for clients. "However, the foreign cash piles of the largest firms have almost certainly continued to grow."

That total, while daunting in its own right, is now greater than the amount held on U.S. shores, which totals just under $1.9 trillion, according to the latest Federal Reserve flow of funds tally.

. . . during the 2004 tax holiday "most of that (untaxed, incoming from abroad) cash was used to fund dividend payouts and share buybacks rather than to boost investment." A Democratic congressional report indicated that the biggest companies receiving the benefits of $360 billion in repatriated funds actually cut a net 20,000 jobs, and that the holiday cost Treasury coffers $3.3 billion.

"This is supported by the results of a 2009 study by the (National Bureau of Economic Research), which found that every $1 that was repatriated during the tax holiday resulted in an increase of almost $1 in shareholder payouts," the Capital note said. "Around $0.80 went towards share buybacks and $0.15 to dividend payments."

Very little, then, went to hiring and reinvestment.

Worst Voter Turnout in 72 Years

So, the fat cats have won and won long term it would seem to us who fear the onslaught of the Ryan Eviscerating Social Security/Rest of Public Safety Enhancing Programs Squads?

No wonder the number of voters was so low. The electorate knew (having seen solid evidence in more outsourcing and part-time job growth for six years) that the money wasn't in the U.S. for their benefit already (and that they may as well be smoking legal jays needed constantly to alleviate their pain and outrage.)

Want to know why things never seemed to change no matter the "change" that everyone thought they had voted for previously (and how its inutility has affected the electorate for both this and probably all future elections unless a real change occurs in election buying Citizens United style), why the fall of the Blue Dogs has finally occurred in the South and what has been introduced by the powerful to take its place?

Not much you don't.

Not that the members weren’t traditional values types. Most were. And they surely ran for office on those issues as well. But there is not one word in the official Blue Dog materials about social issues. The old local Democratic yellow dog institution may have been a party that openly included “traditional” views on culture and race but the new Blue Dogs were all about the Benjamins. They were, in fact, simply an arm of the Chamber of Commerce, industry and Wall Street.

. . . Howard Dean used to famously insist that the guys with confederate flags flying on their pick-ups trucks ought to be voting with the Democrats because they need health care too. And yes, you’d think so. But they haven’t done it . . .  for a whole host of reasons.

On the other hand, it didn’t help the Blue Dogs to be so “pro-business” that they sold themselves lock, stock and barrel to the financial elites either. But, as political parties are wont to do, the Democratic establishment decided that the problem was more a matter of “branding” and “messaging” than a problem of strategy or ideology. Somewhere along the line all these Southern Conservatives decided they just didn’t like those Blue Democrats as much as they like those Red Republicans so it must be the logo or the sales pitch that didn’t work.

And as it happens, in anticipation of the imminent extinction of the Dogs, they thought ahead enough to hire Dr Franken-Dem to cobble together yet another monster to take their place.
They cleverly called it the New Dem Coalition. Started back in 2005 when the Dogs started to disappear, by 2010 the new Dems had become a powerful force in the Party. In this article about the financial reform process in 2010, they were described as “a group of 69 lawmakers whose close relationship with several hundred Washington lobbyists has made their organization one of the most successful political money machines since the Republican K Street Project collapsed in 2007.”

And this is how they describe themselves on their web site:

A fiscally-responsible, moderate bloc of lawmakers dedicated to policies that foster American success, the New Democrat Coalition is a vehicle for the millions of Americans who feel unrepresented in today’s broken political process.
As you can see it’s completely different than the Blue Dogs. Except for the fact that it’s exactly the same.

Comments:

rtb61
The lie that social democratic parties need conservatives is basically a corporate-led mass media lie. In fact conservatives are a toxic poison for social democratic parties because they kill off participation by the community at large.

Blue dogs are there to insert corporate-controlled politicians, paid for by corporations and who end up being nothing but PR=B$ representatives for those corporations and propped up by corporate-controlled mass media.

Every single one that gains power means losing tens of thousands of grass roots supporters who hate what the blue dogs stand for. That grass roots support is essential for social democratic parties, it is what they are at their core.

The blue dog loses far more than it gains in reality and only modern corporate marketing keeps it alive.

BRDoug
Blue Dogs were bound to fail. I mean....If you're conservative, why vote for a conservative Democrat when you can vote for a real Republican? And if you're liberal....why choose between a vomit shake and a turd sandwich? Republicans have terrible ideas, but they're not ashamed of them. They don't run away from them. They repeat them often enough that enough rubes buy into it...and they win elections. Democrats might as well be liberals and own it. People might not agree, but they might at least respect them for not being disingenuous all the time.

There's a reason this election had the lowest % turnout in 70 years and it's not because Republicans are winning the war of ideas. They're certainly not. It's because those who want a real Progressive agenda often have no one to vote for. As a southern liberal, I lament my state being entirely controlled by Republicans; I see no end to that in my lifetime. However, the country as a whole might be better off if liberal progressive politicians stop trying to appeal to people who would never vote for them anyway and start appealing to the people who simply don't vote.

Greywolf Borealis
You do not need the South to win the White House or to control both houses of the Congress. Which is why Democrats must go back to their progressive roots.

One of the best reporters and clearest thinking, quick-witted bon vivants in the wonderful world of Progressives has solidly placed her finger on the throbbing artery of how this election has been reported by major media such as the pearl-grasping New York Times and what it preordains:

Shame, shame, shame on the voters, was the subliminal message in a New York Times editorial published on Tuesday. Shame on the stay-at-home slackers who let a combination of acrimony and apathy get in the way of handing a mandate to the most loathsome and undeserving bunch of  hacks to come along in.... well, three-quarters of a century.

The Times editorial was about as clueless as the candidates themselves, as if that were even possible.

To be fair, the writers also partially blamed negative advertising and lack of a clear message (there they go with that "narrative deficit" meme again!) on the Democrats' resounding defeat, and the anti-Obama craze and outright mendacity of Republicans for their own relative success. But the Times missed the forest for the trees: it's the plutocracy and the corruption and the influence-peddling, stupid! The Supreme Court's decision equating money with speech went totally unmentioned in the data-driven angst and Gray Lady pearl-clutching.

My published response:


 It wasn't just the disgust, the apathy, the voter suppression, the nasty TV ads. It was the mass epiphany that voting, all by itself, just doesn't mean what it used to, as in the good old days before Citizens United.

As Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens showed in their study of voting patterns, it wouldn't matter if there was an 80% turnout. Politicians pass laws based on what the wealthy want, period. What the authors call "economic elite domination" trumps democratic pluralism. Pro-change majorities get what they want only about 30% of the time, the study shows, and usually only if their desires mesh with those of the wealthy.

 For example, since the rich generally favor marriage equality as much as the average voter, we're seeing huge legislative successes in gay rights initiatives. On the other hand, since economic elites aren't too keen on a federal minimum wage or expanded Social Security, those ideas are going nowhere fast -- as are most policies that would benefit ordinary people.

So, blaming voters, telling us that "we get the government we deserve" based on apathy, or "voting against our interests" is getting mighty stale, mighty fast.


We are smarter than we're given credit for, while the intelligence of the elites who actually run this de facto oligarchy is tragically over-estimated.

 Memo to the victors with their spoils - if you think that this rigged system has given you a popular mandate, you need to think again.
And in a follow-up response to a reader who disagreed with me:

I didn't mean to suggest that we not vote at all. I can very well understand why so many people abstained, however. I voted in the meh-terms myself (albeit with some cynicism) because it was a local election, and states and counties are the only places where there is even a prayer for change., esp. with the progressive props on many ballots this year. I have also written comments and blog posts urging others to vote, with the full awareness that there are more weighted and "valuable" votes than ours being cast. So, we can't simply traipse to the polls every two and four years and then just sit back and rest and feel that we've done our entire "permitted" civic duty. 
There are plenty of other valuable ways to be a good citizen. I engage my more conservative friends in political discussions all the time.... sometimes my lefty reasoning strikes a chord, most times not, but at least I've engaged. I find there is a lot of common ground with "the other side" re Wall Street corruption and government surveillance, for example. So ... voting, boycotting, writing, protesting, picketing, striking, organizing, not giving in to the divide-and-conquer techniques the duopoly uses to maintain its power. Activism of all kinds is necessary if we have a hope of reanimating our democracy.
Very few pundits are actually talking about the duopolistic complicity of the whole corrupt system. They don't dare admit that our elected officials hold all of us in utter, sneering contempt, and that the low turnout last week is tantamount to a corporate coup. They don't dare admit that through this default "victory" our rulers hold power illegitimately. Not many of them are talking about the inconvenient truth that even with its abysmal 13% approval rating, Congress has seen the return of 95% of its members.

Admitting all of this might hasten the inevitable collapse of the fraudulent facade on top of the very real ruins of our democracy. And thus we pretend, we deflect, we scapegoat, we ignore the forest for the trees.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose we can believe in, toujours and ad infinitum.

All righty, Karen!

I'm pretty sure that if the Dems try even a mildly obstructive campaign against the Republican black tide (no, not a racist hit) getting ready to be unleashed bigtime by the Ryan Retardeds on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Disability and every other program dear to Progressives and consumer advocates that the media won't give them a pass.

Like they have the last six years to the kinder, gentler Republicans (who tried every conceivable avenue they could squeeze into to murder every Progressive and safety-net-for-the-fragile program left operating after the previous welfare-safety-net-program-eradication regime - and the people most dependent on them if at all possible).

"Obstruction has just been rewarded, in a huge way," wrote Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast.

Led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republicans vowed in 2009 to oppose every political move Obama made, not matter how sweeping or how minor. "To prevent Obama from becoming the hero who fixed Washington, McConnell decided to break it. And it worked," wrote Matthew Yglesias at Vox, in the wake of the midterm election results. New York's Jonathan Chait made a similar observation about McConnell:   "His single strategic insight is that voters do not blame Congress for gridlock, they blame the president, and therefore reward the opposition."

But why? Why don't voters blame Congress for gridlock?

Why would the president, who's had virtually his entire agenda categorically obstructed, be blamed and not the politicians who purposefully plot the gridlock? Because the press has given Republicans a pass. For more than five years, too many Beltway pundits and reporters have treated the spectacular stalemate as if it were everyday politics; just more "partisan combat." It's not. It's extraordinary.


Note the press complaint Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) logged four years ago. It was about how timid the news media were in covering Republican obstructionism. Her critique still applies today:

You guys don't write about [it], and this is what they do. I don't see it, and I take five newspapers. I don't see it on the tube, and I don't see it anywhere. It's obstruction. It's obfuscation. It's bringing the body to a halt and it's been done dozens of times. And this is one more of those times ... and they haven't gotten much criticism for it clearly or they would have stopped it.

On paper, the GOP's desperate maneuver in 2009 looked risky:  Just gum up the works of Congress and stand in the way of every proposal from the new president who was just swept into office with a public mandate for change?

Wouldn't commentators clobber the GOP for blind partisanship and hollow obstruction?

Looking back though, there was very little risk involved. There was no element of chance because within days of Obama being sworn into office, the Beltway press sent out clarion call:   If Republicans don't cooperate with the new, wildly popular president, it's the president's fault.

And that press judgment hasn't budged since 2009.

The redoubtable Michael Lewis (whose The New, New Thing I taught when it was a brand-new book over 10 years ago) documented even worse that went on in the money-mad deregulated 80's, which brought us the Savings & Loan debacle costing the taxpayers billions of dollars before the good guys were put back in charge of the rules.

I want to recommend, if you haven't read it before, Lewis' first book, Liar's Poker, which is being reprinted this year for many more salient reasons than that it's been 25 years since it first appeared. Salon gets down with Lewis about his personal history on Wall Street as well as his book's prescience:

Salon:  Wall Street was booming, the City of London, which had been sleepy for a long time, was booming as well. It seems like, looking back, it wasn’t as much of an anomaly as it was the beginning of the world we’re in now. The scenes you’ve sketched almost feel like a photographic negative of the financial crash of 2008. I wonder the extent to which you felt like you were witnessing the birth of something.

Michael Lewis:  That’s exactly how I feel. I misread it at the time. In fact, if I had read it right I might have had less energy about the book. I thought what I was doing was capturing this very bizarre moment that could not be sustained. I really thought it was freakish; this isn’t humility, this is true:   I thought, “these people are paying me hundreds of thousands of dollars to give financial advice, that’s fucking insane,” and nobody else around me was any more qualified than me. I just felt like people were going to look back and say, “Can you believe they did this?” but it turned out to be the start of a new world where this became normal.

The big trends that originated, actually, at Salomon Brothers swept over Wall Street. The proprietary trading business, and the idea of turning your partnership into a corporation, and the idea that what you’re supposed to be doing if you’re a salesman is dreaming up really, really complicated products that the customer doesn’t understand — all that starts there and then, and it just kept going. So yes, I do feel like the reason the book has continued to sell is that it speaks to people still going to Wall Street, which is bizarre.

SalonWell, some of these people are kind of charming, and they’re all colorful. Besides the financial collapse, how did these people and the world they made possible change our world? What are the long-term impacts of this fervor?

Michael Lewis:  I think the mortgage bond example is the best. At the time, even though the mortgage department was raping the clients and making reams of money, I really thought — and I do think — that this was a really, really useful innovation. It would be really great to get capital from all over the world to the American home buyer, just to lower the cost of owning a home, as long as it was done on the up-and-up, where people knew what they were lending to. It was a really good idea at the origins, but it metastasized into something that was a horrible idea. You don’t find the actual characters who dreamed up the good idea … they didn’t help metastasize it. They were there for one part of it and then it kind of got away from them.

Proprietary trading, too. There was a moment where it weirdly made some sense for the proprietary trading that was going on at Salomon Brothers to be as dominant in the firm as it was. It was really smart, and if you were a shareholder you would say keep doing it. It metastasized into an opportunity for the people who were on the sharp end of things to make huge bets, and if they worked out they got rich, and if they didn’t work out the firm suffered.

It’s a little hard to blame the people who have the idea for the consequences of the idea. There’s no way anybody in this “Liar’s Poker” foresaw what was going to happen. I can remember sitting down with one of the guys from the mortgage department, who happened to be a very senior person at Merrill Lynch when they were loading up on subprime bonds, and he got fired because he said, “We don’t do this.” He said, “This is insane” … I would say the dynamic is something like the revolution consuming the revolutionary. These particular people would have been very ill-suited to perpetrate what’s been perpetrated, basically, in the name of their ideas.


Having said that, they were obviously not sane. It was vulgar and it was rapacious, up to a point.

SalonYou’ve mentioned the huge amount of money that you were making at the time, and you were low on the totem pole and quite young there. What did money do to these people? Did it change them? Did it make them happy? Did it make you happy?

Michael Lewis:  No. One of the reasons it was so easy to leave is that I looked up and I said, “How am I going to feel 10 years from now?” I didn’t see any examples of people who seemed happy. It was more like the money owned them, rather than that they owned the money, and they came to need it. Having said that, the sums of money now seem trivial. John Gutfreund, the head of the firm, was paid $3 million a year and that was considered scandalous. Now that’s the ante for –

Salon:   I think Larry Ellison makes that on his lunch break.

I have always respected John Fogerty's political insight and musical accomplishments. Rock on, John!

The discussion within the essay by the seemingly young(?) journalist no-minds of their comprehension of the meaning of "Fortunate Son" is priceless.

Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and the Zac Brown Band playing John Fogerty's 'Fortunate Son' at the Concert for Valor on Veteran's Day. (photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and the Zac Brown Band playing John Fogerty's 'Fortunate Son' at the Concert for Valor on Veteran's Day. (photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Team Springsteen: Why 'Fortunate Son' Belonged at the Concert for Valor


Fogerty was drafted when he was 20 years old, in 1965, and came home from active duty two years later. In his own words, he was inspired to write “Fortunate Son” because “I did not support the policy or the war… If you asked anyone in the army at that time why we were going to Vietnam to fight, no one could answer… Probably the real answer was keeping the war machine going, and business. To sacrifice a young man’s life with no real purpose, taking these young men from their mothers and families, was wrong. I was the guy who was living this life… I had very strong feelings about all of this… To me, those soldiers were my brothers. I understood them because I was also drafted into the army just like them. The protest was against the policy, not the soldiers…

“I had been thinking about all this turmoil… It had been on my mind for some time how sons of certain senators escaped the draft. It was very upsetting to me, as a young man of draft age. In political conventions, many times, states will use the phrase “favorite son,” as they recognize their leader to make a nomination. The songwriter in me thought about this, and I changed the name to ‘Fortunate Son,’ a phrase to describe what we have all witnessed in our time… When the troops came home, Nixon turned his back on the soldiers. As my feelings about this got stronger and stronger, I knew I had to write about it.” Fogerty wrote the music first “without even knowing what the lyrics were.” Later, he went to his bedroom with a pen and paper and wrote the lyrics in twenty minutes. “It was very personal to me.”

Interestingly enough, there did not appear to be the same level of uproar when Springsteen played “Born in the U.S.A.,” a song that, in the understatement of the evening, he said was one he “wrote 30 years ago, and I think it still holds up today.”

Maybe because people just think it’s a rah-rah, go America jam? If so, they would not be the first to make that mistake. Shortly after its release, “Born in the U.S.A.” was famously used by Ronald Reagan as a campaign song.



“Born in the U.S.A.” is, to quote music critic Greil Marcus, “about the refusal of the country to treat Vietnam veterans as something more than nonunion workers in an enterprise conducted off the books. It is about the debt the country owes to those who suffered the violation of the principles on which the country was founded, and by which it was justified itself ever since.” Given that the takehome message of the Concert for Valor was to not forget our veterans after they get back from combat — celebrity emcees spent much of their speeches pointing viewers to foundations aimed at employing and aiding vets here at home — “Born in the U.S.A.” is a perfect fit for the theme.

Coal Kills!


The experts at Stuttgart University posited that the largest 300 coal plants cause approximately 22,300 premature deaths a year. Of the 50 projects still in the planning phase, were they to come to fruition, they would be responsible for an additional 2,700 premature deaths.

The entire coal industry kills nearly 30,000 Americans each year due to respiratory illnesses. An additional 670,000 Chinese lose their lives each year due to pollutants and the world total is over a million annual deaths.

Amazon's Dirty Energy Problem


While the rest of the Internet goes green, Amazon's bringing its next big data center to coal country

If the Internet were a country, it’d rank sixth in the world for electricity demand. Fortunately, it’d also rank as one of the greenest, thanks in large part to efforts by industry leaders like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft to invest in renewable energy to power their massive data centers.

Bucking the trend entirely is Amazon, which continues to be the big, dirty smudge on that otherwise gleaming record. Back in April, Greenpeace released a report slamming Amazon Web Services — which plays host not just to the online retail empire but also Netflix, Pinterest and Spotify, among other popular sires — for what appears to be a utter lack of interest in going green.

And now, the company’s expected to be bringing its next big data center to coal-heavy Ohio, meaning its environmental record could be about to get even dirtier.