Saturday, May 28, 2016

(Drone Strike Video Gamers Metaphor for Trump Nation?)  Trump Wronged by Mean Girl?  (Conflating Email Evasions with Partisan Skullduggery)



Niccol takes a stern tack with "Good Kill." Again and again Egan and team do their job. Again and again they’re coached in ignoring the true nature of it. The drones are saving American lives, never mind what the bleeding hearts think. “Drones aren’t going anywhere,” says their commander (Bruce Greenwood). “In fact, they’re going everywhere.” The repetition of their roles drills into the characters and the audience. We get bored of watching foreign people get blown up on screen too. This feeling of dis(as)sociation between the act of pushing the button and the act of murder is exactly what the director is aiming for.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Good Kill” is really a contemporary horror movie about humans seduced and hypnotized by machines into surrendering their souls:  “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” for techies.

. . . Early in the story, the operation is taken over by the C.I.A. (facetiously nicknamed Christians in Action), whose rules of engagement are much looser than those of the military. Even the hard-nosed Colonel Johns is abashed by the wider license to kill.

It’s no longer necessary to identify a specific target as the enemy to be eliminated. All that’s required is for a “pattern of behavior” to be discerned. And Tom finds himself bombing a funeral for the victims of a strike. When rescue workers flock to the site of another explosion, he is instructed to kill them.

. . . Mr. Hawke’s anguished performance gives “Good Kill” a hot emotional center. Tom is painfully aware that innocents will die from missiles dispatched from a great distance. In battle, of course, there is always the likelihood of collateral damage, but there’s a difference between pulling a joystick while thousands of miles from a theater of war and risking your life in an aircraft. Tom observes in horror when civilians wander into a targeted site and are blown up.

. . . As you watch the smoke billow from a drone strike, it offers the cheap thrill felt by a child operating an Xbox, which the movie’s resident expert, Lt. Col. Johns (Bruce Greenwood) explains was a model for drones. “The brass don’t want to admit it,” he tells underlings, “but half of you were recruited in malls precisely because you’re a bunch of gamers.”

Just saw the brilliant panoply of talent comprising Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood and Zoë Kravitz in Andrew Niccol's "Good Kill" on Showtime, which clarifies the "drone strike against hunted terrorist in the midst of innocents" conundrum terminally (nauseatingly, actually).

One speech by Greenwood on how it doesn't matter who started the killing (radar-directed bombing by the USA) now because it will never end should be enough to justify seeing this movie no matter how repellent the subject is personally.

Watch it if you can harden your heart sufficiently (because it's full of thoughtful scenes and truths about the logical end of seeking out (and murdering) terrorists universally forever).
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

From our usual suspect, Matt Taibbi at "Rolling Stone:"

Hillary Clinton's New Anti-Trump Ad Misses the Mark

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
27 May 16
Clinton accuses Trump of "rooting" for a crash caused by her own donors
new attack ad put out by the Hillary Clinton campaign this week achieves the near-impossible, making Donald Trump look wronged and (almost) like a victim. More believably, it makes the Democrats look sleazy and disingenuous in comparison.

The ad begins with a picture of a grinning Trump and the words, "In 2006, Donald Trump was hoping for a real estate crash."
It proceeds to a series of grim scenes from the financial crisis. Against a "Roger and Me"-esque montage of blighted neighborhoods, it reads off stats:  "9 million Americans lost their jobs. 5 million people lost their homes."

Then it returns to a grinning Trump, and another line:

"And the man who could be our next president…

was rooting for it to happen."

Then we hear Trump talking about how a bursting of the real-estate bubble would be an opportunity for rich folks like himself.

"I sort of hope that happens, because then people like me would go in and buy," Trump says, in an interview from 2006. "If there is a bubble burst, as they call it, you know, you could make a lot of money."

Cut to: "If Donald wins, you lose."

This ad is disingenuous in a dozen different ways. For one thing, the destruction that the Clinton campaign describes was not caused by people swooping in after the bubble burst, buying at the bottom of the market.

It was caused by the existence of a speculative bubble in the first place. And that bubble was inflated not by Donald Trump, but by the people who have at least in part bankrolled Hillary Clinton's career: namely, Wall Street banks.

In the mid-2000s, a speculative mania swallowed up the real-estate markets largely because Wall Street discovered a new (and often criminally fraudulent) way to peddle mortgage securities. 

The basic trick involved big banks buying up the risky home loans of subprime borrowers — the loans of people who often lacked verified incomes and had poor credit histories — and repackaging them as highly rated mortgage securities. 

Basically they took risky loans and presented them as somewhat safer investments to a range of investors, all of whom later got clobbered: pension funds, hedge funds, unions, even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This technique, of turning rancid home loans into a kind of financial hamburger and then selling it off as grade-A beef to institutional investors, created artificial demand in the real-estate markets, which in turn led to the speculative mania.

The bubble stayed inflated for a few years because a continual influx of new investors kept the old investors from losing their shirts for a while. The layman's term for this is a Ponzi scheme.

So when Donald Trump in 2006 says, "If there is a bubble burst, you could make a lot of money," he might sound crass, but he wasn't wrong. That bubble was always going to burst. Those investors who got creamed were always going to get creamed.

And the fault was with the people who drove this speculative craze by knowingly peddling bad merchandise and continually driving the markets upward. Think, for example, of Citigroup, which was selling huge masses of mortgage securities even as its traders were saying things to each other like, "We should start praying… I would not be surprised if half of these loans went down."

We know the names of many of these companies because many of them have agreed to pay huge settlements for their involvement in selling mismarked mortgage securities.

Four of them — the aforementioned Citigroup, along with Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan Chase — are among Hillary Clinton's top six contributors for her career.

The new Clinton ad references people in foreclosure — it even shows a big, scary foreclosure sign. Many of the same banks also agreed to massive settlements for, among other things, using fraudulent documents to kick people out of their houses. Major Clinton donors Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase were signatories to the original $25 billion foreclosure settlement, for instance.

As for the whole issue of "rooting" for a crash so as to make money off the misery of others, what Donald Trump was talking about — and it's galling to the point of being physically painful to have to defend him here — may sound scummy, but was neither illegal nor even unethical, unless you want to call this kind of capitalism unethical (which some might).

Trump wasn't rooting for an avoidable disaster, like a 9/11. With this bubble, the disaster had already happened. The properties were already overvalued. Trump or not, that pain was coming.

Taking advantage of market inefficiencies is what investors are supposed to do, a la the traders in "The Big Short" who spotted the corruption in the real-estate markets early and bet accordingly. Personally I doubt Trump was smart enough to bet so much as a penny out of his alleged billions on the market collapsing, but if he did, it wouldn't have been unethical, just cold.

The same can't be said for Goldman Sachs, the company famous for paying Hillary Clinton $675,000 for three speeches.

In the spring of 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Michigan's Carl Levin, released a giant report about the way Goldman profited from the crash by shorting the market even as it was advising clients in the opposite direction.

This report detailed how in 2006, the same year that Donald Trump was talking out loud about the bubble bursting, Goldman found itself stuck with what amounted to a $6 billion bet on the housing market.

But at the end of the year the firm analyzed its position, saw the coming trouble, and realized it needed a change in strategy. Goldman's leaders, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein (seen here warmly embracing Hillary Clinton) and CFO David Viniar, decided that they needed to unload as many of their mortgage holdings as possible. 

One particular quote the Senate investigators dug up stands out. In late December of 2006, Viniar wrote an email to his chief mortgage officer (emphasis mine):

"Let's be aggressive distributing things," he said, "because there will be very good opportunities as the markets [go] into what is likely to be even greater distress, and we want to be in a position to take advantage of them."

This, coming from the chief financial officer of a firm that has been among Hillary Clinton's top donors, is exactly what Donald Trump said.

The difference was, Donald Trump was just talking about making money for himself. Goldman executives were talking about making money at their own clients' expense.

Two months after that Viniar memo, in February of 2007, Blankfein wrote an email of his own.

"Could/should we have cleaned up these books before," Blankfein wrote, "and are we doing enough right now to sell off cats and dogs in other books throughout the division?"

By "cats and dogs," Blankfein meant the toxic mortgage holdings he wanted off his company's books. How did they get rid of them? They sold them off to customers.

In one particular deal, called Hudson, Goldman unloaded $1.2 billion worth of "cats and dogs." They neglected to tell the client that these came from their own inventory, saying instead that the holdings were "sourced from the street."

By the spring of 2007, Goldman executives were in a panic about the likely meltdown of the real-estate markets. In May, a senior exec gave a presentation saying, "There is real meltdown potential."

The execs scanned the earth for suckers willing to buy up their doomed products. They found a hedge fund in Australia willing to buy a $100 million mortgage-based deal called Timberwolf, promising returns as high as 60 percent while privately laughing about finding the ultimate sucker.

"I found a white elephant, flying pig and unicorn all at once," clucked one of the bank's sales reps. A few days later, after the deal was off their books, another Goldman exec famously trumpeted, "Boy, that Timberwolf was one shitty deal."

I spent most of the last eight years poring through disgusting stories like this, reporting on the dreary question of what caused the 2008 crash. All of that work was done before Hillary Clinton announced she would run for president. This isn't about Hillary Clinton for me. It's about the continuing influence of these companies.

These firms have mostly avoided blame for the crisis, partly because this subject is complicated, but also because mainstream politicians from both parties have refused to point a finger at them. For that, Hillary Clinton probably is at fault now, contributing to a failure among major-party politicians to be straight with the public that dates back to the first days of the crisis.

It's bad strategy. Trump is a lunatic, but he's gaining strength because his supporters believe his story about being so rich that he's free to tell it like it is. They equally believe his windy diatribes about Beltway pols like Jeb Bush and Hillary being compromised by the great gobs of money they take from corporate donors.

And the truth is now being thrown in our blissfully ignorant faces.

Because it's no longer possible to say that the banksters' misdeeds are just too complicated for the regular taxpaying citizen to figure out, and thus that they don't really deserve punishment (just minor fees).

Bank of America's Winning Excuse:  We Didn't Mean To

By Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica
26 May 16 
A federal appeals court overturned a $1.3 billion judgement against Bank of America, ruling that good intentions at the outset shield bankers from fines for subsequent fraud.
ack in the late-housing-bubble period, in 2007, Countrywide Home Loans, which was then the largest mortgage provider in the country, rolled out a new lending program. The bank called it the “high-speed swim lane,” or HSSL, or, even more to the point, “hustle.” Countrywide, like most mortgage lenders, sold its loans to Wall Street banks or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage giants, which bundled them and, in turn, sold them to investors.

Unlike the Wall Street banks, Fannie and Freddie insured the loans, so they demanded only the ones of the highest quality. But by that time, borrowers with high credit scores were getting scarcer, and Countrywide faced the prospect of collapsing revenue and profits. Hence, the hustle program, which “streamlined” Countrywide’s loan origination, cutting out underwriters and putting loan processors, whom the company had previously deemed not qualified to answer borrowers’ questions, in charge of reviewing loan applications. In practice, Countrywide dropped most of the conditions meant to insure that loans would be repaid.
The company didn’t tell Fannie or Freddie any of this, however. Lower-level Countrywide executives repeatedly warned top executives that the mortgages did not fulfill the requirements. Employees changed data about the mortgages to make them look better, sometimes increasing the borrower’s income on the forms until the loan looked acceptable. Then, Countrywide sold them to the mortgage giants anyway.

At one point, the head of underwriting at Countrywide wrote an alarmed e-mail, with a list of questions from employees, such as, does “the request to move loans mean we no longer care about quality?”

The executive in charge of the decision, Rebecca Mairone, replied, “So - it sounds like it may work. Is that what I am hearing?”

To federal prosecutors — and to a jury in Manhattan — the hustle sounded like fraud. And in 2013, Bank of America, which had by then taken over Countrywide, was found liable for fraud and later ordered to pay a $1.27 billion judgment to the government.

But this week, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals looked at that judgment and asked this question:  If a entity (in this case, a bank) enters into a contract pure of heart and only deceives its partners afterward, is that fraud?

The three-judge panel’s answer was no. Bank of America is no longer required to pay the judgment.

The Bank of America case was a rare outcome in the collapse of the financial system:  a firm whose actions had contributed to the crisis was held to account by a court of law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which brought the case in 2012, used an ingenious strategy, charging the bank under a law dating from the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s, called Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, or FIRREA. And the government actually identified a human being, Rebecca Mairone, claiming she defrauded Fannie and Freddie.

Though it was a civil action, rather than a criminal one, the case actually went to trial — unusual in this day and age — and the jury found Bank of America and Mairone liable. (The 2nd Circuit panel’s ruling reversed a finding of fraud against Mairone and tossed out a million-dollar ruling against Mairone.)

The appellate-court panel accepted the main facts as described by the government. It acknowledged that Countrywide intentionally breached its contract but ruled that it had not engaged in fraud.

The ruling, written by Richard C. Wesley, a George W. Bush appointee, was unanimous, with another Bush appointee and an Obama appointee voting in favor. “What fraud … turns on, however, is when the representations were made and the intent of the promisor at that time,” Judge Wesley wrote. If the fraud is based on “promises made in a contract, a party claiming fraud must prove fraudulent intent at the time of contract execution; evidence of a subsequent, willful breach cannot sustain the claim.”

The government hadn’t set out to prove Countrywide’s intentions — honorable or otherwise — of Countrywide at the moment it signed the contracts with Fannie and Freddie. Consequently, the court ruled that the government had not provided sufficient evidence for its contentions. “The government had zero evidence of affirmative misrepresentations at the time of the bad conduct,” Samuel Buell, a law professor at Duke University and the author of the forthcoming book “Capital Offenses:  Business Crime and Punishment in America’s Corporate Age,” says. But to other legal scholars, the ruling seemed nonsensical.

“Is the idea that a good state of mind initially can insulate you from fraud later on?” Brandon Garrett, a professor of law at the University of Virginia and the author of “Too Big To Jail:  How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations,” asked. “That would be a very strange and troubling doctrine.” He added, “It almost seems like the 2nd Circuit fell victim to a lawyer’s trick.”

Comments:

# griffey1 2016-05-26 16:44
Fraud is ALWAYS committed by the consumer. NEVER by a corporation. This is the new reality in America's courtrooms.
+20 # A_Har 2016-05-26 17:39
"We Didn't Mean To."

OH....sure, and they have a bridge they can sell you:

Bank of America:  Too Crooked to Fail

The bank has defrauded everyone from investors and insurers to homeowners and the unemployed. So why does the government keep bailing it out?

By Matt Taibbi March 14, 2012

"At least Bank of America got its name right. The ultimate Too Big to Fail bank really is America, a hypergluttonous ward of the state whose limitless fraud and criminal conspiracies we'll all be paying for until the end of time. Did you hear about the plot to rig global interest rates? The $137 million fine for bilking needy schools and cities? The ingenious plan to suck multiple fees out of the unemployment checks of jobless workers? Take your eyes off them for 10 seconds and guaranteed, they'll be into some shit again: This bank is like the world's worst-behaved teenager, taking your car and running over kittens and fire hydrants on the way to Vegas for the weekend, maxing out your credit cards in the three days you spend at your aunt's funeral. They're out of control, yet they'll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard."

OF COURSE they meant to! It's their business model.
+13 # bardphile 2016-05-26 22:10
From my post yesterday: Today's LA Times (Hiltzik) describes how B of A / Countrywide "skated" past a $1.3 bil(lion) fraud judgment imposed by a lower court by reducing fraud charges to "breach of contract"--a technicality that would eviscerate federal fraud law if upheld on appeal. A 3-judge panel bought the argument. The pro-business, anti-consumer bias permeates our government, even at times the judiciary. The only fix is a Sanders-style political revolution that will require not one, but several election cycles to implement. The opposition will be furious and the lies, thick. Hillary is not the person to get us very far along that long and tortuous road.
+6 # bardphile 2016-05-26 22:11
I'd like to see Bernie and Trump debate this one from the 50-yard-line of the Rose Bowl...
+13 # lorenbliss 2016-05-26 22:11
Capitalist governance in action: absolute power and unlimited profit for the One Percent and their Ruling Class vassals, total subjugation and bottomless poverty for all the rest of us.

(How many times must it be said?)

+12 # Jayceecool 2016-05-26 22:34
Is there a better example of judicial corruption than the sophistry of the appellate court for the 2nd district? Is there any wonder that middle America's faith in our institutions is plummeting?
+6 # Texas Aggie 2016-05-27 00:40
Did the three men in black ever explain why fraud only counts if you cheat at the beginning but it's perfectly ok to be fraudulent if you do it later on?
+1 # economagic 2016-05-27 07:07
I'm not a lawyer, and this article doesn't include nearly enough detail for an informed discussion. But it appears that the judges were doing a D. W. Schultz, working for the benefit of certain parties while claiming to be neutral arbiters.

Intent is often a factor in the law, even though is is often impossible to determine, and the judges seem to have used technical minutiae to support their preferred outcome. There is no serious dispute of the claim that millions of individuals and institutions suffered great harm from the knowing and willful purchase and sale of worthless assets by the big banks and their agents such as Countrywide ("NINJA" loans, "liar loans," "toxic waste," all of which and more have been well documented in discussions among the people hawking them).

William Black documented in 2005 how an absolutely identical scam was perpetrated by owners and mangers of the S&Ls in "The Best Way to Rob a Bank (Is To Own One)." If fraud was not committed in the particular act alleged in these suits, the legal "suits" need to sharpen their pencils and pinpoint exactly where it did occur in a way that the judges could not weasel out of. Unfortunately there is now probably too much precedent, and too much time elapsed, to make such cases.

"My object all sublime,
I shall achieve in time,
To let the punishment fit the crime."

--"The Mikado," William Schwenk Gilbert
+5 # lfeuille 2016-05-26 23:53
Congress can fix this but this congress won't.
+1 # torch and pitchfork 2016-05-27 07:37
"Courts often view themselves as a check on what they see as prosecutors responding to the pitchfork-wield ing mob." --Thank you, oh great wise ones, for protecting me from myself.


"Significant Security Risks": State Department Says Clinton Broke Rules Using Private Email Server

Thursday, 26 May 2016 
By Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now! 
Video Interview
An internal government watchdog has concluded Hillary Clinton broke government rules by using a private email server without approval while she was secretary of state. That was the key finding of a long-awaited report by the State Department inspector general.

The report concluded that Clinton would not have been allowed to use a private server in her home had she asked department officials in charge of information security, because it posed "significant security risks."

This contradicts claims by Clinton that use of a home server was allowed and that no permission was needed. The report also criticized Clinton for not properly preserving emails she wrote and received on her personal account.

According to the report, Clinton and eight of her deputies, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin, declined to be interviewed for the inspector general's investigation. Clinton's use of a private email server for State Department business is also the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. We speak to journalist Michael Tracey.
TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: An internal government watchdog has concluded Hillary Clinton broke government rules by using a private email server without approval while she was secretary of state. That was the key finding of a long-awaited report by the State Department inspector general.

The report concluded that Clinton would not have been allowed to use a private server in her home had she asked department officials in charge of information security, because it posed, quote, "significant security risks." This contradicts claims by Clinton that use of a home server was allowed and that no permission was needed. The report also criticized Clinton for not properly preserving emails she wrote and received on her personal account. Clinton responded to the report during a campaign event in California [sic]. . . .
MICHAEL TRACEY: Well, in addition to the substance of what was found by the inspector general regarding her conduct with installing a private email server, what really stuck out to me and, I think, most observers was that she declined to be interviewed for the probe.

Now, throughout her campaign and even prior to the campaign, she gave repeated assurances that she would comply with every single investigation into the propriety of this conduct. And for her now to have -- to have been revealed that she did not comply with a probe overseen by the department which she headed for four years is pretty astonishing.
AMY GOODMAN: Because it was the inspector general of the State Department.
MICHAEL TRACEY: Of the State Department, right. And she was the head of that agency for four years. And not only did she not participate, but actually at least nine of her associates, whether they were employees of the department or external employees that were under the auspice of Hillary in particular, did not participate, either. So, of course that's going to raise major questions.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But at the same time, Hillary has said -- Clinton has said that she will participate in the FBI investigation. Is that right?
MICHAEL TRACEY: Right, but if you go and examine the statements that her campaign has made and she has made individually, she never made a clear distinction between participation in the FBI probe and the State Department probe.

So, for her now to retroactively claim that she did make that distinction doesn't hold up to scrutiny. As recently as May 7th, she said that she would, quote, "talk to anybody" investigating the matter on behalf of the federal government.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, she also said -- because there's been some speculation about why she chose to use a private email server in the first place, and apparently in November 2010 -- this is what the report says -- she wrote to one of her top aides, Huma Abedin, that, quote, "Let's [get] separate address or device but I don't want any risk of the personal being accessible." What do you think the significance of that is? And that's not what she initially claimed her reason was.

MICHAEL TRACEY: I just think it's indicative of her giving a wide variety of explanations for her behavior that don't cohere into a single, you know, digestible explanation that she could offer to voters. And I -- just one more point, I think that speaks to why there's been a deficiency in the level of scrutiny that's been applied to it in the context of the Democratic primary.

So Bernie Sanders has, validly, not raised the issue, and he has his own reasons for doing so. But the natural consequence of that is that it hasn't been given a sufficient airing in the context of the Republican primary, and it's going to be easily seized upon by Donald Trump in the context of a general election.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me turn to a clip from the Democratic debate in March, Clinton facing tough questioning from Univision moderator Jorge Ramos about her use of a home-based email server and who gave her permission to use it.

HILLARY CLINTON: It wasn't the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed. And as I've said and as now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing, and many other people in the government. But here's the cut-to-the-chase facts. I did not send or receive any emails marked "classified" at the time. What you're talking about is retroactive classification. ... I am not concerned about it. I am not worried about it. And no Democrat or American should be, either.
JORGE RAMOS: The questions were -- Secretary Clinton, the questions were: Who gave you permission to -- to operate?
HILLARY CLINTON: There -- there --
JORGE RAMOS: Was it President Obama?
HILLARY CLINTON: There was no permission to be asked. It had been done by my predecessors. It was permitted. I didn't have to ask anyone.
JORGE RAMOS: If you get indicted, would you drop out?
HILLARY CLINTON: Oh, for goodness -- that is not going to happen. I'm not even answering that question.
AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton, speaking at a Democratic debate in March. Just a note about the earlier clip of Hillary Clinton in our lede, it was from March 2015, over a year ago, not from the campaign trail yesterday. So, Michael Tracey, this issue of she didn't do anything differently than her predecessors, like Secretary of State General Colin Powell, who has also said the same thing, actually?

MICHAEL TRACEY: Well, that's been a claim repeatedly made by Hillary Clinton herself and her campaign representatives for as long as this has been a controversy, but the State Department's own report now finds that that claim has no basis. I mean, there were new sets of standards applied to the conduct of Hillary Clinton that did not apply to her predecessors.

When Colin Powell was in office, for example -- you know, he left office in 2005, and by then, the use of email was not nearly as widespread or not -- and the security liabilities were not nearly as well understood. So, the idea that that's a rationale for her behavior, I don't think passes muster, either.

AMY GOODMAN: She keeps emphasizing she's turned over 55,000 emails, certainly more than any of her predecessors, not only Condoleezza Rice, by the way, but -- not only Colin Powell, but also Condoleezza Rice. But what about this, 55,000 email that she chose, or her people chose, to hand over?

MICHAEL TRACEY: Well, again, that's a claim that's been made without corroboration. But now we know that the claim is not totally accurate. There were emails found independently by the State Department investigator between Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus that she did not turn over in December 2014, when she purportedly handed over the totality of the batch. So, I mean, obviously, a figure of that significance is someone who the public is going to want to see the correspondence featuring.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is interesting, the general, right? Because -- I'm reading from The Washington Post:  "In his plea agreement, [General] Petraeus admitted to mishandling classified information that was contained in [his] personal notebooks. Petraeus told [his girlfriend Paula] Broadwell that his notebooks contained 'highly classified' information, yet gave them to her ... lied to the FBI during the investigation -- a felony that's punishable by up to five years in prison," let her see his classified emails, etc.

MICHAEL TRACEY: Yeah, I think this speaks to a broader fallacy in the way that Democrats have spoken about this issue. They've tried to conflate it with, you know, partisan skulduggery, which inevitably is going to engulf Hillary and has for 25 years. But in doing so, they've deflected from the real potential liabilities that this may occasion. And another thing, you know, in the clip that was just played, Hillary Clinton laughed off the possibility of an indictment. And that's probably remote. But it's not laughable that there could be some kind of criminal consequence to this behavior, whether on the part of Hillary or her subordinates.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, wait. Explain this, because, I mean, James Comey is not exactly a friend of President Obama -- the head of the FBI, came in under the Bush administration, has undermined him in a number of ways. There's clearly a conflict.
He's pushing forward with this investigation. He could recommend a criminal indictment, but it would be Obama's Justice Department that would have to move forward with it, which would set up a royal conflict and an embarrassing one.

MICHAEL TRACEY: Right. So even if official criminal charges are not levied, it would still provoke a political -- a political discord that we haven't seen in generations, in terms of competing branches of the federal government coming to different conclusions about whether certain behavior rises to the level of criminality. And, you know, I think for her to laugh off that possibility, and for Democrats to laugh off that possibility, has made it such that the feasibility of this hasn't been seriously entertained, maybe until now.

And the reason -- one reason why a lawyer would advise a client not to participate in a probe of this nature is because you could divulge information that could be used in a separate criminal investigation to establish a pattern of facts, which could conceivably result in some kind of criminal charges. So that's always been a possibility in the air, but because, you know, the allegations have been so closely associated with Republican gamesmanship, I don't think Democrats have given it sufficient thought in terms of what kind of problems this could pose for Hillary as a general election candidate.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to turn to a clip from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2011, the day before Army whistleblower Private Chelsea Manning went on trial for passing hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: I think that in an age when so much information is, you know, flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that, you know, some information, which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected. And we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Hillary Clinton speaking in 2011 about the WikiLeaks revelations made by Chelsea Manning. So could you comment on what Hillary Clinton said and whether you think that there's a different standard that's been applied to whistleblowers, like Chelsea Manning, and her opposition to the inquiry now regarding her own, let's say, lax security around her emails while she was secretary of state?

MICHAEL TRACEY: Well, the double standards are overwhelmingly clear. It's not disputed at this point that information marked "top secret," according to the government, traversed the server of Hillary Clinton. And the server was not secured according to the guidelines established by the federal government.

Now, had someone of less stature committed a similar infraction, based on the track record of Hillary Clinton's own statements, we could draw a logical through line and assume that she would want the full weight of the criminal apparatus of the federal government to bear down on that individual.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Isn't that what happened to the US ambassador in Kenya? I think that's one of the people who's mentioned.

MICHAEL TRACEY: Right. And, you know, obviously, the case of Chelsea Manning is not totally analogous, but it speaks to a broader principle that's not being evenly applied. So, whether or not you think that the classification regime of the federal government is sound, that has no bearing on whether the regime that exists should be applied broadly and equitably.

And in insisting, as Hillary Clinton and her surrogates have done, that this is no big deal, they're essentially arguing for a different standard to be applied to themselves. And that's why people have so little faith in the system. And it's not just for product of Republican fearmongering that there is this hunch that the law is not going to be applied in an equal manner.


Read the entire article here.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Exit Polls More Reliable Therefore Banned  (Blackmailing Bernie Hard)  Hillary Not Appointed Just Yet?  (Max & Stacy & Nomi - Oh MY!) Also Lee Camp's 100th Redacted Tonight



From Road House Blues we learn:

Charnin’s blog posts on the April 26 states, New York, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan, March 15 states, and Super Tuesday states:

https://richardcharnin.wordpress.com/

Election fraud is real. A group of citizen observers told Chicago Board of Elections officials at an April 5 meeting that BOE [Board of Elections] employees changed hand-counted tallies to match the recorded vote. This took place during an audit of 5% of the electronic machines as required by law in Illinois. One of the audit observers testifies at the 24-31 minute mark:

Election Board Scandal:  21 Bernie Votes Were Erased and 49 Hillary Votes Added to Audit Tally, Group Declares [Video]

http://www.inquisitr.com/3022058/election-board-scandal-21-bernie-votes-...

. . .Why exit polls matter:

http://electiondefensealliance.org/frequently_asked_questions_about_exit...

"Why should we care about exit poll results?

"When properly conducted, exit polls should predict election results with a high degree of reliability. Unlike telephone opinion polls that ask people which candidate they intend to vote for several days before the election, exit polls are surveys of voters conducted after they have cast their votes at their polling places.

"Around the world, exit polls have been used to verify the integrity of elections. The United States has funded exit polls in Eastern Europe to detect fraud. Discrepancies between exit polls and the official vote count have been used to successfully overturn election results in Ukraine, Serbia, and Georgia.

"Are exit polls data better than other polling data?

"Exit polls, properly conducted, can remove most sources of polling error. Unlike telephone polls, an exit poll will not be skewed by the fact that some groups of people tend not to be home in the evening or don’t own a landline telephone. Exit polls are not confounded by speculation about who will actually show up to vote, or by voters who decide to change their mind in the final moments. Rather, they identify the entire voting population in representative precincts and survey respondents immediately upon leaving the polling place about their votes."

From the ever-superb Sardonicky (read the entire essay at her blog):

The New Deal is still barely hanging on, with FDR's social programs either long gone, whittled down, or under constant threat of dismemberment. And then along comes Bernie Sanders, exposing the bipartisan right wing for what it truly is:  The Island of Doctor Moreau. The Republicans are the main torturers and sadists. The Democrats are the grisly lab assistants who will occasionally sneak up to the cages to give the victims an anesthetizing choice morsel or two to make their trip to the vivisection table more befuddled.

The audience was never supposed to know about the subplot. After all, they are merely the audience and not the actors. And if millions of people did have an inkling, they had nobody to represent their interests and nobody to amplify their voices. Until Bernie came along, giving Hillary Clinton a run for her corporate, anti-New Deal money.

Clinton, who merely vows to "protect" Medicare and Social Security from GOP depredation, has a long sordid history when it comes to the New Deal. Specifically, she was the impetus behind the 1996 destruction of FDR's Aid to Families With Dependent Children and transforming it to the cruel Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The result has been the doubling of extreme poverty after the Clinton deregulation bubble finally burst from the excesses of its own greed.

Clinton, who merely vows to "protect" Medicare and Social Security from GOP depredation, has a long sordid history when it comes to the New Deal. Specifically, she was the impetus behind the 1996 destruction of FDR's Aid to Families With Dependent Children and transforming it to the cruel Temporary Aid to Needy Families. The result has been the doubling of extreme poverty after the Clinton deregulation bubble finally burst from the excesses of its own greed.

Sanders, meanwhile, wants to actually expand Social Security as well as increase Medicare benefits to all citizens, regardless of age, health and financial status. He wants to lessen the power of behemoth financial institutions by reinstating the Clinton-demolished Glass-Steagall Act. His proposals, taken as a whole, would actually go beyond the New Deal reforms.

Thus the Democratic bosses of Psy-Ops "There is No Alternative" Theater are all in a tizzy, because the denouement of the movie -- the vindication and the coronation of their neoliberal heroine -- is coming up in only two months. The star is in danger of being upstaged at her own premiere. Instead of throngs of cheering, adoring fans lining the red (ooh, scary!) carpet, she might be faced with throngs of protesters.

So the Party and its mouthpieces are going all HUAC on Bernie and the Sandernistas. It's a coordinated media campaign which sounds, ironically enough, as if it comes straight out of Pravda. Either Bernie and his supporters take the loyalty oath to the Empress-in-Waiting right now, or the election of Donald Trump and the rise of a fascist state will be totally on them. The inherent corruption and weakness of Hillary herself will have nothing at all to do with it. When Clinton backers accuse Sanders of not being a "real Democrat," the dog-whistling subtext is that he is not a real American. It's just a more subtle variation on the anti-Obama "birther" theme rhapsodized to perfection by Donald Trump himself.

. . . To his credit, Sanders is not caving to the Party psy-ops offensive, which has included a nonstop barrage of ad hominem attacks by such Democratic luminaries as Paul Krugman and Barney Frank. He's apparently morphed from progressive saint to violence-enabling demagogue overnight, breaching some invisible red line into traitorous anti-American territory. "Even progressives are criticizing him now after he's shown a harder edge!" shrills Politico. Flying chairs and flying broomsticks abound in Liberal Land.

. . . The Clintonites are smack dab in the extreme center. Their anointed candidate might be a skunk adorning a solid yellow line, but Her Supreme Zombie-ness must and will lurch all the way to the finish line.

Meanwhile, the hordes of trolls are all tangled up in the Internets. There are Trump supporters playing sexist Sanders supporters, Clinton supporters playing "recovering" ex-Sanders supporters. and bona fide Clinton supporters just into shaming and blaming desperate people into abject submission to their fate.

A red-baiting troll responded to my own latest Times comment by saying that my "credentials" are not in order, and must be examined. The anonymous poster didn't say who exactly should investigate my bona fides, keeping me in much suspense. (Mind you, the Times comment threads are supposedly strictly moderated, so the censors are obviously okay with scaremongering McCarthyesque rhetoric.)

Of course, the Clintonoids disavow their own part in the rampant trollery, despite a PAC called "Correct the Record" which supposedly pays trolls to attack her critics online.
- Sardonicky

Hillary has been appointed surely, but by whom?

Washington at his blog has come up with a strategy against this appointment, and he's got backup data.

Sure, one candidate is a comically ill-informed jackass who hates women, while the other is a woman whose comically jackassy policies will come with great scholarly volumns of ill information. But where does either of those really get us?

Lesser evilism predictably produces a pair of candidates each cycle who are both worse than was the more evil candidate last time. This cannot go on forever, and has already gone too far. We need a nonviolent movement to reform our election system — something not done through elections. But there are plenty of good candidates, such as Jill Stein, to check or write in. We should vote for those good candidates and get right back to work on improving the world.

Will you click here and join me?

Here are a few reminders of who the “progressive” candidate of the “Democratic” Party is:

“For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.” —Robert Kagan

“I have a sense that she’s one of the more competent members of the current administration and it would be interesting to speculate about how she might perform were she to be president.” —Dick Cheney

“I’ve known her for many years now, and I respect her intellect. And she ran the State Department in the most effective way that I’ve ever seen.” —Henry Kissinger

Nobody Beats This Record

  • She says President Obama was wrong not to launch missile strikes on Syria in 2013.
  • She pushed hard for the overthrow of Qadaffi in 2011.
  • She supported the coup government in Honduras in 2009.
  • She has backed escalation and prolongation of war in Afghanistan.
  • She voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • She skillfully promoted the White House justification for the war on Iraq.
  • She does not hesitate to back the use of drones for targeted killing.
  • She has consistently backed the military initiatives of Israel.
  • She was not ashamed to laugh at the killing of Qadaffi.
  • She has not hesitated to warn that she could obliterate Iran.
  • She is not afraid to antagonize Russia.
  • She helped facilitate a military coup in Ukraine.
  • She has the financial support of the arms makers and many of their foreign customers.
  • She waived restrictions at the State Department on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all states wise enough to donate to the Clinton Foundation.
  • She supported President Bill Clinton’s wars and the power of the president to make war without Congress.
  • She has advocated for arming fighters in Syria.
  • She supported a surge in Iraq even before President Bush did.
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

<--break->

Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz Pick Influence Peddlers to Guide DNC Platform

Why Democrats Should be BEGGING Sanders to Stay in Through California:  'BradCast' 5/24/2016

US Secretly Destroyed Evidence In Trial Of Accused 9/11 Masterminds

UCSF Presentation Reveals Glyphosate Contamination in People across America

Amnesty International Misreporting on Obama's War on Syria

Max and Stacy rock on the Clinton Years.

And Nomi Prins is added for a tasty treat.

[KR918] Keiser Report:  Bill Clinton’s ‘Economic Miracle’

Posted on May 24, 2016 by Stacy Herbert
We discuss the role that Alan Greenspan played in the so-called miracle economy of Bill Clinton’s reign.

In the second half Max interviews author, Nomi Prins of NomiPrins.com, a former Goldman Sachs banker, about what she saw during her recent visit to Brazil. They discuss the role of private versus public banks and US versus Chinese banks.




Here's the 100th episode of "Redacted Tonight!"

Lee Camp - TV's gift to us every day (at Youtube.com).

[100] The Nevada Chaos Lie, Voting Machines Are Hacked, Giant Global Protest and more

The Redacted Team has much cause to celebrate, because it’s our 100th episode! We won’t let celebrating get in the way of reporting the news no one else will. For example, Lee covers the mayhem at the Nevada delegate convention. He also covers the thousands of hackable voting machines that are still being used. Naomi and Lee discuss the current fiasco regarding our crumbling infrastructure.

Also - Carlos explains what the hell is going on with Colombia and the pharmaceutical industry.




Tuesday, May 24, 2016

(Don't Take this Election Unseriously)  The Fixers?  (Largest Unprosecuted Charity Fraud Ever Attempted:  Clintons')  Ever-Sharpening Di(a)mon(d)/Bloomberg Police State While Smugly Ill-Educating Lessers (and Being Awarded Obscene Bonuses After Failures)  Robin Hood Backwards  (Mortgage Fraud/Rigged Economy Back on Steroids)  Greater Systemic Risk Than Ever



“It Is Happening Again:”  David Dayen on the Epidemic of Mortgage Fraud and the Rigged Economy that Sets It in Motion 

Earlier this week the "New York Times" featured a depressing story about homeless people living in the foreclosed and abandoned houses that still dot the landscape in Nevada, reminding everyone of that awful time just a few years ago when families all over the country lost their homes in what has become euphemistically known as “the housing crisis.” It was actually much more specific than that, it was an epidemic of criminal mortgage fraud and it devastated millions of people, many of whom have still not recovered.

Everything old is new again?

Or does it just seem like it's new because the internet is finally replacing (slowly to be sure, but ultimately) the in-crowd-owned MSM as the source of trustworthy information in the USA! USA! USA!

There’s a new . . . (Harry) "Markopolos" (Madoff Exposer) . . . in town with that same brand of leave-no-stone-unturned tenacity and he has his sights set on the charity operations of Hillary and Bill Clinton, known as the Clinton Foundation and its myriad tentacles. Ortel’s actions come just as Hillary Clinton makes her final sprint for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States with Bill in tow as her economic czar. Like Markopolos, Charles Ortel does not mince words.
In a 9-page letter dated yesterday and posted to his blog, Ortel calls the Clintons’ charity the “largest unprosecuted charity fraud ever attempted,” adding for good measure that the Clinton Foundation is part of an “international charity fraud network whose entire cumulative scale (counting inflows and outflows) approaches and may even exceed $100 billion, measured from 1997 forward.” Ortel lists 40 potential areas of fraud or wrongdoing that he plans to expose over the coming days.
Like Markopolos, Ortel has an impressive resume. Ortel’s "LinkedIn" profile shows that he received his B.A. from Yale and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  He previously worked as a Managing Director at investment bank Dillon Read and later as a Managing Director at the financial research firm, Newport Value Partners. In more recent years, Ortel has been a contributor to a number of news outlets including the "Washington Times" and "TheStreet.com."
The charges being made by Ortel are difficult to dismiss as a flight of fancy because mainstream media has tinkered around the edges of precisely what Ortel is now calling out in copious detail.
. . . An article by James Grimaldi in the "Wall Street Journal" as recently as May 12 of this year charges that a “$2 million commitment arranged by the nonprofit Clinton Global Initiative in 2010 went to a for-profit company part-owned by friends of the Clintons.” The Clinton Global Initiative is a program associated with the Clinton Foundation.
One notable thing that Charles Ortel is pounding away at is, why, with all of these media red flags for years, the Clintons have been allowed by state charity regulators in multiple states in which they solicit donations as well as their Federal regulator, the IRS, to continue business as usual. Are we looking at the Madoff-effect where regulators are afraid to take on powerful figures?

Speaking of Jamie Dimon and Michael Bloomberg, billionaire salts of the earth . . . .

How far would you follow them (off a cliff)?

"Bloomberg News" seems to be on a roll with Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. First it put him on the cover of its relaunched "Bloomberg Markets" magazine and then followed up with a "Bloomberg TV" promotion for the article, suggesting that Jamie Dimon is all about the customer – a concept so divergent from the facts on the ground that we devoted a column to it in March. Neither the article nor the TV promotion mentioned the fact that under Dimon’s leadership, the bank (h)as been charged with three criminal felony counts between 2014 and 2015 for decidedly non-customer friendly behavior while simultaneously rewarding Dimon with obscene pay.

Yesterday, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose net worth is placed at $43.5 billion according to Forbes, teamed up with one of his largest customers, fellow billionaire Jamie Dimon, to jointly write an opinion piece for the media site which carries the name and majority ownership of Mike Bloomberg. Some might see that as a bit of a conflict and/or co-branding in an "OpEd." Mike Bloomberg’s wealth derives primarily from the Bloomberg terminal, of which there are hundreds of thousands populating the trading floors of Wall Street behemoths like JPMorgan Chase around the globe.

Mike Bloomberg and Jamie Dimon selected a curious topic – high school vocational education — subtly suggesting that the largest wealth and income inequality in America since the early 1900s might somehow be rectified if high schools trained students for blue collar jobs. The new writing duo mapped it out thusly:

We will not solve the critical challenges of poverty, underemployment, wage stagnation and bulging prisons unless we get serious about investing in effective programs that prepare kids who are not immediately college-bound for middle-class jobs.”

For those who would like a closer look at Mike Bloomberg’s prior meddling in public education, we heartily recommend Chapter Two of the Neil Fabricant book, “Mike! Wall Street’s Mayor,” which examines in detail what happened after 2002 when Bloomberg took control of the public schools.

We can understand why two billionaires making their living from Wall Street – currently structured as the greatest wealth transfer scheme in historywould want to distract the public from the facts being presented by Presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, to millions of Americans who are catching on for the first time. Sanders keeps pounding away on these key points:

“The reality is that since the mid-1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country. That is the Robin Hood principle in reverse. That is unacceptable and that has got to change.

“There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

There is something profoundly wrong when 58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash has gone to the top one percent.

“Despite huge advancements in technology and productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. The real median income of male workers is $783 less than it was 42 years ago; while the real median income of female workers is over $1,300 less than it was in 2007. That is unacceptable and that has got to change.”

And, of course, Wall Street billionaires are none too happy that Bernie Sanders is promising to provide free public college by placing a speculation tax on Wall Street. As Sanders notes in his detailed plan:

The cost of this $75 billion a year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago. More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and today some 40 countries throughout the world have imposed a similar tax including Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and China. If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free throughout the country.”

Free public college goes right to the heart of Wall Street’s and JPMorgan Chase’s empire of home equity loans and credit cards that millions of Americans are currently forced into in order to pay for their children’s college education, burying many in debt for a lifetime.

Which leads us to the heartbreaking and Pulitzer-worthy article by Neal Gabler at "The Atlantic." Gabler, a man with two grown daughters, makes the ultimate sacrifice for changing the dialogue in America by publicly disclosing his own financial struggles, despite a graduate degree and an impressive resume. Gabler brilliantly walks us through the studies showing what he has acutely come to understand:

“Many of us, it turns out, are living in a more or less continual state of financial peril. So if you really want to know why there is such deep economic discontent in America today, even when many indicators say the country is heading in the right direction, ask a member of that 47 percent. Ask me.”

The 47 percent refers to a study conducted by the Federal Reserve which, writes Gabler, “asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all.

Four hundred dollars! Who knew? Well, I knew. I knew because I am in that 47 percent.”

The reality is that there is not only an institutionalized wealth-transfer system occurring on Wall Street, but that former Mayor Bloomberg effectively built a Praetorian Guard out of the New York City Police Department to brutally scuttle efforts to realign our crippled democracy. We offer as evidence this stunning video, submitted in a court case, of Occupy Wall Street protestors being savaged by the Mayor’s Praetorian Guard while news photographers were thwarted from recording what was happening.

Most Americans are also ignorant of the fact that the New York City Police Department has joined ranks with Wall Street in a sprawling surveillance operation that spies on law-abiding citizens, which, outrageously, has been funded by the public purse. Thanks to thousands of street cameras owned by either Wall Street firms or New York City and high tech surveillance technology, Wall Street personnel can now sit elbow to elbow with the NYPD, monitoring the minute-to-minute moves of potential Wall Street whistleblowers or protestors who desire to challenge this system of enforced poverty for the masses and obscene wealth for the one percent. (Read our in-depth report here.)

As we have repeatedly cautioned our readers, a truth-talker and change-maker like Senator Bernie Sanders comes along once in a lifetime. Americans’ window for real, lasting change will slam shut if Wall Street-funded Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic Presidential candidate. Do not take this political season casually.

The next article makes so much sense now that it's almost a conspiracy theory to say that you suspected as much waaaay baaack then. Although it wasn't difficult figuring out that a young turk who admired Reagan probably was much more neoliberal than reported.

And, yes, we all agree that Obama is Mr. Cool.

But what better characteristic would sell as well?

Was the First Obama Election Fixed? New Book Raises Suspicions

By Pam Martens: March 14, 2016
At "Wall Street On Parade" we call it continuity government. Michael M. Thomas, in a new book of quasi-fiction, calls it Fixers, the idea that no matter who comes and goes in the Oval Office, Wall Street has a fix in to make sure it is protected. The Thomas book could not come at a more inconvenient time for outgoing President Obama and the next leg of the continuity government that Wall Street hopes to install in the White House – otherwise known as Hillary Clinton.
Fixers notes that the characters with speaking parts in the book are “wholly creatures of the author’s imagination and invention” but the securities “transactions and situations” in which those characters are involved are “matters of historical record.”
So what you’re getting in Fixers is a spellbinding analysis of the actual dirty deals that toppled Wall Street in 2008 with a new twist – a fictitious character who says he laundered $75 million into the Democratic presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton’s primary challenger in 2007 in exchange for three names on an index card. Those three names had to become the “hope and change” President’s chief economic advisor, Treasury Secretary, and head of the criminal division of the Justice Department. These three key posts were to keep piles of bailout money flowing to Wall Street while simultaneously making sure no Wall Street executives were prosecuted for the crimes that brought on the crash.

The primary challenger to Hillary Clinton and the man who beats her and goes on to become President is called simply OG in the book. (OMG would have worked for me.)

The details in the book surrounding the three names on the index card seem to be channeling Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and Lanny Breuer, who took the respective posts of chief economic advisor, Treasury Secretary and head of the Justice Department’s criminal division in the first Obama administration and, indeed, sluiced trillions to Wall Street while the Justice Department failed to prosecute, saying it was worried about collateral damage, such as triggering bank layoffs. (Like the collapse of the U.S. economy from untamed financial corruption is not collateral damage.)

Fixers takes us back to the earliest days in 2007 when the rumbles of what would become the greatest Wall Street crash since the Great Depression were first being recognized by the smart money crowd on Wall Street. Chauncey Suydam, a one-time CIA agent has breakfast with his former boss at the CIA, who now heads a Wall Street investment bank called Struthers Strauss. The Struthers Strauss chief wants Chauncey to fix the election with the $75 million and put the three selected people in those key posts.

The Struthers Strauss securities transactions throughout the book sound identical to those of Goldman Sachs, including a so-called “Protractor” deal that has all the bells and whistles and settlement terms as the Goldman Sachs Abacus deal. The co-conspirator on the real Abacus deal, hedge fund billionaire John Paulson, was never prosecuted or fined despite his hedge fund being named in the SEC’s complaint against Goldman Sachs, which settled the case for $550 million. Michael Thomas has a very believable explanation for how his fictional character in the “Protractor” deal, James Polton, managed to escape prosecution. (We’re not going to spoil the surprise or how Struthers Strauss is said to have extracted its revenge from Polton.)

The writing of Thomas has an unusually authentic feel in the recounting of the Wall Street frauds and events leading up to and after the 2008 crash, including some events that have been all but forgotten. One reason for the authenticity is that Thomas once worked for Lehman Brothers, intimately understands how the Street thinks, and wrote extensively about Wall Street during the 2008 crash for the "New York Observer."

And, along with us, the "Black Agenda Report," "CounterPunch" and others, Thomas was quick to size up Obama as a con man when it came to cleaning up Wall Street. Just five months after President Obama took office in 2009, Thomas wrote at the "Observer":  “Every day now, as this sorry story plays out, I find myself wondering whether Obama isn’t a bigger Wall Street con than Madoff.”

One of the fictional characters in the book, nicknamed Scaramouche, an elderly veteran of Goldman Sachs, sends a deathbed letter to the main character, Chauncey, raising a similar concern about the President:

The present occupant of the White House represents the final piece of the puzzle. I wonder if his failures to deliver really aren’t the result of an intransigent opposition party, as we have been told, but have been part of a larger scheme from the outset. He certainly came on as if sent by central casting:  charismatic, articulate, just black enough, with a smart attractive wife and charming children:  just the type the money men would have been looking for to bring their oligarchic scheme to final fruition.”

That paragraph reminded us of what we had written in May of 2008:  After reporting how Obama was stating that he was taking no money from federal lobbyists (while raking in millions from federal lobbyists, including those on the payroll of Wall Street), we noted the following:

“The Wall Street plan for the Obama-bubble presidency is that of the cleanup crew for the housing bubble:  sweep all the corruption and losses, would-be indictments, perp walks and prosecutions under the rug and get on with an unprecedented taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. (The corporate law firms have piled on to funding the plan because most were up to their eyeballs in writing prospectuses or providing legal opinions for what has turned out to be bogus AAA securities. Lawsuits naming the Wall Street firms will, no doubt, shortly begin adding the law firms that rendered the legal guidance to issue the securities.) Who better to sell this agenda to the millions of duped mortgage holders and foreclosed homeowners in minority communities across America than our first, beloved, black president of hope and change?

“Why do Wall Street and the corporate law firms think they will find a President Obama to be accommodating? … vetting included his remarkable ‘yes’ vote on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, a five-year effort by 475 lobbyists, despite appeals from the NAACP and every other major civil rights group. Thanks to the passage of that legislation, when defrauded homeowners of the housing bubble and defrauded investors of the bundled mortgages try to fight back through the class-action vehicle, they will find a new layer of corporate-friendly hurdles.”

The "Black Agenda Report," which writes for Black Americans, also noted the following in February 2008:

“The 2008 Obama presidential run may be the most slickly orchestrated marketing machine in memory. That’s not a good thing. Marketing is not even distantly related to democracy or civic empowerment. Marketing is about creating emotional, even irrational bonds between your product and your target audience. From its Bloody Sunday 2007 proclamation that Obama was the second coming of Joshua to its nationally televised kickoff at Abe Lincoln’s tomb to the tens of millions of dollars in breathless free media coverage lavished on it by the establishment media, the campaign’s deft manipulation of hopeful themes and emotionally potent symbols has led many to impute their own cherished views to Obama, whether he endorses them or not.”

And then there was "CounterPunch," which published an entire anthology of articles on the red flags in the Obama candidacy, titled Hopeless:  Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, including my article referenced above. The editors, Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank, describe the books as follows:

“The election of Barack Obama sparked long-dormant tingles of optimism in even the most entrenched political cynics.

But the promise of an Obama revolution fizzled out even before his inauguration, as the president-in-waiting stocked his cabinet with corporate hacks, cut secret deals with Wall Street titans and plotted a bloody escalation of the senseless war in Afghanistan.

Let this book stand as a painful reminder to those who think anything less than social struggle will net tangible gain.”

Anyone who witnessed Obama’s first press conference as President-Elect knew the fix was in. To his right stood Larry Summers and to his left stood Robert Rubin. The date was November 7, 2008. The public was repulsed by Obama having the gall to put these two on his economic transition team.

Both Rubin and Summers had served as Treasury Secretaries under the presidency of Bill Clinton and pushed for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act and deregulation of derivatives, two key events that led to the severity of the 2008 crash. Rubin had gone directly from the U.S. Treasury to the Board of Citigroup, the prime beneficiary of the deregulation, and collected over $125 million in compensation over the next decade. Rubin’s era oversaw a rap sheet at Citigroup that would make Bernie Madoff blush.

When Rubin finally announced his resignation from Citigroup on January 9, 2009, Citigroup shareholders had lost 88 percent in the value of their shares and the U.S. government had propped up the insolvent Citigroup carcass with the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of finance:  $45 billion in equity infusions; over $300 billion in asset guarantees; and over $2 trillion in cumulative, below-market-rate loans.

There are wickedly funny passages in Fixers (it would be every bit as entertaining on the big screen as "The Big Short"). One of our favorite passages is the following, about Senator John McCain picking Sarah Palin as his VP running mate on the GOP ticket in the 2008 election:

“Do you want to know what a political death wish made flesh looks and sounds like? Start with a reasonably pretty face concealing a brain evidently empty of all useful knowledge and any fond regard for truth. Add a nasal voice, the kind that Wodehouse says can open an oyster at twenty paces, in which is delivered gaffe after gaffe, often employing some very unusual grammatical constructions, along with a kind of ‘mean girl’ knowingness, and what have you got? Sarah Palin.”

The idea that Senator McCain, a military hero, would willfully, without outside pressure, select Palin to sit a heartbeat away from the Presidency, is highly doubtful. This raises the question, in our mind, if Palin wasn’t simply more insurance for putting Obama in the White House.

Whether there was some former CIA spook fixing the election or a consortium of Wall Street banks and their lobbyist/law firms sluicing money into the Obama campaign and calling the shots on his key posts, here’s where we stand today:

  • Wall Street received trillions of dollars in secret below-market-rate loans from the Federal Reserve that resulted in at least $13 billion in extra profits to the financial sector, according to "Bloomberg".
  • The Obama administration started out with $10 trillion in national debt; it now stands at over $19 trillion.
  • Today, one in five children in the United States lives in poverty while the country has the greatest wealth and income inequality since the 1920s.
  • Wall Street has not been reformed. It has more derivatives today than at the peak of the crisis, $247 trillion in notional amount with 93 percent of those concentrated at five mega- Wall Street banks:  Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.
And even researchers in an office of the U.S. Treasury Department are warning that Wall Street is still dangerous to the economy, writing just last week that “counterparty credit risks to the banking system collectively have risen and may suggest a greater systemic risk than is commonly understood.”

Unlike in prior Presidential elections, voters actually have a real choice this year. There is one candidate and one candidate only who has no Super Pac, is not reaping windfalls of cash from Wall Street or Big Pharma or Big Oil or corporate lobbyists. That person is Bernie Sanders. Tomorrow, a mini Super Tuesday, will give voters another chance to show if they genuinely want to climb out of a rigged economy run by the Fixers.
Three of Hillary’s Mega-Donors Are in Panama Papers; Another Tied to $6.8 Billion Tax Avoidance Scheme

Exclusive - Panama Papers Hub in Miami: Citigroup’s [Very] Private Bank