Springtime in the Carolinas (EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it would be sincerely appreciated as I've just gone off the cliff financially. I really appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Now . . . back to your regular viewing.) If you think we are not being "played," then read no further. If the idea of a war on a strategy of the weak has never appeared suspicious to you . . . then the following four items may be of more than just passing interest. Joe Stiglitz reports that:
“In the developing world, people look at Washington and see a system of government that allowed Wall Street to write self-serving rules which put at risk the entire global economy — and then, when the day of reckoning came, turned to Wall Street to manage the recovery.
They see continued redistributions of wealth to the top of the pyramid, transparently at the expense of ordinary citizens. They see, in short, a fundamental problem of political accountability in the American system of democracy. After they have seen all this, it is but a short step to conclude that something is fatally wrong, and inevitably so, with democracy itself.”I'm crazy about Joe Stiglitz, who seems to be one of the few writers at the New York Times not to have swallowed the kool-aid.
Sheila Bair vs. John Dugan By Barry Ritholtz - June 14th, 2009“The overwhelming share of increased actual and projected costs for the fund have been caused by actual and projected failures of smaller banks, not larger ones.”
- John Dugan, the Comptroller of the Currency
Next - how a little guy (WikiLeaks) has brought the big guys to heel. Right. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)
I don’t usually insert myself into personal disputes amongst regulators, but when one of them appears to be a bit of an asshat, I feel compelled to comment.
The spat in question is between Sheila Bair, the exemplary FDIC chairwoman, and the asshat being the speaker of the above . . . quote, John C. Dugan, the Comptroller of the Currency. I don’t know much about Dugan, other than some of the odd and indefendable statements he keeps making. He often misstates facts about the credit collapse, blames the wrong organizations for the subprime debacle, and otherwise seems to be a mouthpiece for the largest, most inept banking istitutions.
Some Dugan comments:
• “The overwhelming share of increased actual and projected costs for the fund have been caused by actual and projected failures of smaller banks, not larger ones.”
• The financial crisis stemmed in part from problems at small banks;
• Stiff new insurance fees on banks as unfair to the largest banks
• The responsibility for validating risk management models lies first and foremost with the institution itself. (OCC)
Part of the problem lies with the OCC itself. Its an agency that has been committed to radical deregulation. When the NY Attorney General was looking into “discriminatory mortgage lending practices,” OCC filed suit to stop the NYAG from inspecting the lending records of national banks using state laws.
The OCC decision to allow banks to become commercial real estate developers failed to recognize the inherent risk involved. Even the NAR complained. A 2002 ruling by the regulatory agency prevented Credit Card insurance from being regulated by the appropriate state agencies. And why anyone at the OCC thought allowing national banks to underwrite insurance was a good idea is hard to fathom.
At just about every turn, the OCC has ruled in favor of radical deregulation, and against consumers. Why the Obama administration has retained Dugan (he’s been at the OCC since 2005) is beyond my comprehension. He is a classic Bush appointee — a regulator who is against regulating — who should have been dismissed at the earliest opportunity.
Banks are in the business of taking in deposits and then lending that money out again. If they cannot do that responsibly and profitably, then they should get out of the banking business and into real estate development or insurance underwriting. But so long as the FDIC is on the hook as the insurer of these deposit accounts, banks should not be allowed to stray from their core competency into other businesses.
Stick with banking.
Previously published:Office of Thrift Supervision: Asshat Central (December 24th, 2008)
Video: IndyMac CEO Interview on CNBC (September 2006)Idiots Fiddle While Rome Burns (July 2008)
On March 26, the group published a remarkable document that lays out the Agency's strategy to manipulate European public opinion over waning support for the Afghanistan war. Classified "Confidential/NOFORN" (No Foreign Nationals) the 11 March 2010 document is titled, "Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission - Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough."
Here are the salient parts of the article. Enjoy!
Sunday, March 28, 2010 Leaked Document Discloses CIA Plans to Target European Public Opinion over Afghan War Since their 2007 launch, the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks have been the subject of "hostile acts" by state and private security services for spilling the beans on crime, corruption and violence perpetrated by the capitalist deep state. But rather than being deterred by government threats or overt acts of violence, including the murder of two human rights attorneys in Nairobi last March, who provided the whistleblowers with reports on extrajudicial killings by Kenyan police, WikiLeaks have turned the tables on the CIA. On March 26, the group published a remarkable document that lays out the Agency's strategy to manipulate European public opinion over waning support for the Afghanistan war. Classified "Confidential/NOFORN" (No Foreign Nationals) the 11 March 2010 document is titled, "Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission - Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough." Prepared by the CIA Red Cell, the entity is described in the text as an Agency subunit "charged by the Director of Intelligence with taking a pronounced 'out-of-the-box' approach that will provoke thought and offer an alternative viewpoint on the full range of analytic issues." According to WikiLeaks staff, "The proposed PR strategies focus on pressure points that have been identified within these countries. For France it is the sympathy of the public for Afghan refugees and women. For Germany it is the fear of the consequences of defeat (drugs, more refugees, terrorism) as well as for Germany's standing in the NATO. The memo is an recipe for the targeted manipulation of public opinion in two NATO ally countries, written by the CIA." Curiously, in an echo of capitalism's real and not imagined, living social content, the CIA evokes Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle. After all, it was Debord who, commenting on the ability of contemporary societies to produce and reproduce a monstrous world "mediated by images," first identified the media as a central locus for managing reality itself. Langley's best and brightest now counsel America's political masters that although "apathy" may be their strongest ally in waging the endless "war on terror," it cannot be counted upon indefinitely to sustain the imperial project. Contrast the CIA's evocation of "apathy" as a "warfighting" tool with Debord's insight that "the spectacle . . . expresses nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep." One might add that the Agency's proposed media assault on Western public opinion is being prepared precisely to guarantee that the masses continue to slumber. France and Germany: Heading Towards the Exits? Last month's fall of the neoliberal Dutch government over their continued support for the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan was a wake-up call for Washington. The news was greeted with dismay by partisans of the Afghan intervention and their media sycophants. The New York Times reported February 21, that when a "last-ditch effort" to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan failed, it immediately raised "fears that the Western military coalition fighting the war was increasingly at risk."
As U.S. and British forces step-up operations across the entire "AfPak" theatre, launching murderous and indiscriminate drone strikes in Pakistan and "targeted killings" and massacres in Afghanistan, the spectre of a significant climb-down by the French and German governments set alarm bells ringing in the Pentagon. The planned withdrawal by December of some 2,000 Dutch troops from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), would undoubtedly throw a spanner in the works. The Dutch are currently operating in the restive southern province of Oruzgan, north of the Taliban strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces where major military operations are underway; their imminent departure will significantly alter NATO plans. While the cover-story for stepped-up operations in Afghanistan by Washington is ostensibly to destroy the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda, and halt the avalanche of drugs from reaching Western consumers, this is, and always has been, a ludicrous fairy-tale. As we know through countless investigations and exposés across the decades, from Vietnam through Watergate and from Iran-Contra to the endless "War on Terror," the international drugs trade is the handmaiden of Pentagon counterinsurgency campaigns, CIA operations and elite violence world-wide. The New York Times reported March 21 that Afghanistan's lucrative opium crop is no longer a target of military operations. According to the Times, "the military's position is clear: 'U.S. forces no longer eradicate,' as one NATO official put it. Opium is the main livelihood of 60 to 70 percent of the farmers in Marja, which was seized from Taliban rebels in a major offensive last month. American Marines occupying the area are under orders to leave the farmers' fields alone." But with the biggest players in Afghanistan's drug rackets linked to America's close allies in the corrupt Karzai government, the subtext is clear; as analysts Michel Chossudovsky and Peter Dale Scott have long argued, American interventions tend to manage, not eliminate, global drug flows, favoring narcotraffickers who play ball whilst targeting for destruction those who don't. As Scott reported in January for Global Research, none other than Antonio Maria Costa, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, claimed that "drug money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the  global crisis."
Indeed, Costa told The Observer last December that he has seen evidence that "the proceeds of organised crime were 'the only liquid investment capital' available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year." And as Chossudovsky revealed back in 2005, according to a U.S. Senate report "some $500 billion to $1 trillion in criminal proceeds are laundered through banks worldwide each year, with about half of that amount moved through United States banks." Above all else, the CIA's strategy is meant to head-off any attempt by Europe's citizens to corral their governments and force an end to their participation in U.S.-led efforts to recolonize Central- and South Asia. One wag, Julian Lindley-French, a professor of defense strategy at the Netherlands Defense Academy in Breda told the New York Times, "If the Dutch go, which is the implication of all this, that could open the floodgates for other Europeans to say, 'The Dutch are going, we can go, too'." Given these sentiments, the CIA and Pentagon will turn to "other means" to stop their NATO partners heading towards the exits. A Cynical Media Operation CIA media operations are fully consonant with the aims and methods employed by U.S. war planners; indeed, the manipulation of public opinion by battalions of public relations specialists, pollsters and former high-ranking military officers, often employed by giant defense and security corporations with "dogs in the hunt," are part of the secret state's army of "message force multipliers." That such operations have disastrous consequences for functioning democracies, not to mention the victims of NATO's tender mercies, cannot be stressed often enough. To ensure that the bombs continue falling and Western control over access to vital Central Asian gas and petroleum reserves continue, public opinion, treated as an essential front of the imperial "battlespace," must be "softened up." Accordingly, the CIA found that "Afghanistan mission's low public salience has allowed French and German leaders to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Berlin and Paris currently maintain the third and fourth highest ISAF troop levels, despite the opposition of 80 percent of German and French respondents to increased ISAF deployments, according to INR polling in fall 2009.". . . Never mind, that the warlord and Islamist/Mafia-backed coalition that comprises the Karzai government, as documented by innumerable human rights' organizations and Afghan women themselves, such as ousted parliamentarian Malalai Joya, have found that the same brutal conditions persist for women today as under the retrograde U.S./Pakistan-backed Taliban regime of the 1990s. . . . Conclusion The United States and their NATO allies are encountering stiff resistance in Afghanistan. In order to buttress political support from skeptical North American and European citizens, the CIA and their "friends" amongst the giant media conglomerates are pulling out all the stops. The publication of the CIA's analytical document by Wikileaks, provides the antiwar movement with insight into how imperialism intends to sell the wretched Afghan war to the public. Counterstrategies that leverage this knowledge can potentially provide critics with ammunition that directly challenge American propaganda, disarm academic, media and political sycophants and more importantly, derail the policy of waging aggressive, "preemptive" wars well into the future.
Please read the rest here. And although most people have forgotten the devastation wrought on Haiti recently by natural events, the ones that have followed in the wake of U.S. troops being stationed there are anything but natural.
Nice to know the Haitians suffered for a good reason. Suzan ____________________
A recent report in Stars and Stripes reveals the nature of the US military operation in Haiti. Combat units from Iraq and Afghanistan have been deployed in Haiti under the banner of a humanitarian operation. Conversely, Haiti is also being used as a military training ground for forces without in-theater combat experience. According to the Stars and Stripes report (March 14, 2010): "Marines deployed to Haiti to render emergency aid following January’s devastating earthquake are already training for the fight in Afghanistan." Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit who were dispatched to Haiti in the immediate wake of the earthquake are now being deployed in Afghanistan. In fact, the decision to send them to Afghanistan was taken prior to their deployment in Haiti:"A small group of Marines stormed several small concrete buildings inside the wire at their seashore camp while their comrades played the roles of Afghan insurgents, shouting “bang” as they engaged their opponents in a mock attack. The day before, when Lt Gen Dennis J. Hejlik, commanding general of the II Marine Expeditionary Force visited the Marines on shore, he praised their good work in Haiti and asked them, “What’s next for you when you get home?” “Afghanistan,” came the reply. As Huey helicopters buzzed overhead, Hejlik talked about the recent Marjah offensive, adding that there would be 20,000 Marines in Afghanistan by summer. “You will join them next spring,” he told the Marines at Carrefour. One of them, Sgt. Timothy Kelly, 23, of Johnston City, Ill., said members of his unit learned about the Afghan mission just before they got orders to head for Haiti."
The training in Haiti "is geared towards close-quarters battle tactics": “Only a couple [of Marines in Kelly’s squad] have experience in Iraq or Afghanistan,” he said. . . . We have a lot of guys that aren’t going to be here for that Afghan deployment. The ones who are, we might as well get them in the mind-set.