Monday, August 30, 2010

Rec/Depr-ession Started When Again? Beck/Palin Pillagers & A Full-Service Bank: R. Allen Stanford and His CIA Connections: CONSERVATIVES? BAH!!!!!

Wall Street has turned on Mr. Obama with a vengeance: last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland. . . . Meanwhile, the right-wing media are replaying their greatest hits. In the 1990s, Mr. Limbaugh used innuendo to feed anti-Clinton mythology, notably the insinuation that Hillary Clinton was complicit in the death of Vince Foster. Now, as we’ve just seen, he’s doing his best to insinuate that Mr. Obama is a Muslim. Again, though, there’s an extra level of craziness this time around: Mr. Limbaugh is the same as he always was, but now seems tame compared with Glenn Beck. And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found. Paul Krugman
Just in case you were confused about when the unemployment problem began to be a very big crisis (according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)) - one year before the start of what we've been told was the "start" of the Rec/Depr-ession . . . . Right, not recently. Not even close. (HINT: January 2007.) There may be a very good reason that those ignorant folk (and not all are southerners, friends (watch the map)) are deeply alienated (and bought guns when the new administration took office). Heck. Maybe we should get a gun - just for self defense, of course. (I'm a no-guns in the household nut, but the rage quotient is starting to frighten even me.)

And the more I find out about the demographics/psychographics involved, the more suspicious I get of who knew what was upcoming and for how long. You cannot convince me that the housing market runup and sudden decline was anything but intentional. The banksters like Chase (and the new elites - financial, not intellectual, let alone moral - watch their wholehearted promotion of idjits on their Faux News channels as the Beck/Palin Pillagers try to take over the government) are making a mint off of it - don't let anyone tell you that the banks don't want to own all that real estate (and they've been more than aware of the deepening fraud (including in the planning stages I'll bet) the whole time). They do. And they will. If you want to read about The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party and last weekend's monstrous Beck/Palinfest, Frank Rich has done the research for us. If you want an even more monstrous account of how these same banksters were involved in much more of the corrupt Drug War nonsense than anyone talks about now . . . . read on. How about their connections (and many continuing connections offshore) to R. Allen Stanford's nefarious activities (and their CIA connections)? Yeah, according to this story, we've got us REAL CHANGE now. (Emphasis marks added to article at bottom of page - Ed.) Before you undergo foreclosure, you would be wise to read the following article. The banksters finally got part of their money tree axed by the courts (aren't you gratified), but don't worry, the Supreme Court is still bought and paid for by them so they will get a special brand of final "justice" (undoubtedly). The real US (us) will get none. Only the bills (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

MERS was developed in the early 1990s by a number of financial entities, including Bank of America, Countrywide, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, allegedly to allow consumers to pay less for mortgage loans. That did not actually happen, but what MERS did allow was the securitization and shuffling around of mortgages behind a veil of anonymity. The result was not only to cheat local governments out of their recording fees but to defeat the purpose of the recording laws, which was to guarantee purchasers clean title. Worse, MERS facilitated an explosion of predatory lending in which lenders could not be held to account because they could not be identified, either by the preyed-upon borrowers or by the investors seduced into buying bundles of worthless mortgages. As alleged in a Nevada class action called Lopez vs. Executive Trustee Services, et al.:

“Before MERS, it would not have been possible for mortgages with no market value . . . to be sold at a profit or collateralized and sold as mortgage-backed securities. Before MERS, it would not have been possible for the Defendant banks and AIG to conceal from government regulators the extent of risk of financial losses those entities faced from the predatory origination of residential loans and the fraudulent re-sale and securitization of those otherwise non-marketable loans. Before MERS, the actual beneficiary of every Deed of Trust on every parcel in the United States and the State of Nevada could be readily ascertained by merely reviewing the public records at the local recorder’s office where documents reflecting any ownership interest in real property are kept. . . .

“After MERS, . . . the servicing rights were transferred after the origination of the loan to an entity so large that communication with the servicer became difficult if not impossible . . . . The servicer was interested in only one thing – making a profit from the foreclosure of the borrower’s residence – so that the entire predatory cycle of fraudulent origination, resale, and securitization of yet another predatory loan could occur again. This is the legacy of MERS, and the entire scheme was predicated upon the fraudulent designation of MERS as the ‘beneficiary’ under millions of deeds of trust in Nevada and other states.”

MERS now holds over 62 million mortgages in its name, including over half of all new U.S. residential mortgage loans. But courts are increasingly ruling that MERS is merely a nominee, without standing to foreclose on the collateral that makes up a major portion of the portfolios of some very large banks. It seems the banks claiming to be the real parties in interest may have short-circuited themselves out of the chain of title entitling them to the collateral.

Paul Krugman has interrupted my flow of thoughts today by bring us the following warning about the "rage" on the right against Obama and his very moderate right-of-center policies - which have also enraged people on the left for entirely different reasons (and this certainly is an important warning that many people are still either ignoring or overlooking). Read and heed, friends. Then proceed to the next part of my essay if you will.

The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton administration to unrelenting harassment - at one point taking 140 hours of sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its Christmas card list.

Now it's happening again - except that this time it's even worse. Let's turn the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: "Imam Hussein Obama," he recently declared, is "probably the best anti-American president we've ever had."

To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Mr. Limbaugh talk like this, bear in mind that he's an utterly mainstream figure within the Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the political dynamics, Republicans will soon control at least one house of Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.

So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to America?

Here's the innermost of the inside info on the CIA's best friend, R. Allen Stanford (is it still true that people use that first initial to hide who they used to be?). Just continue thinking while you read the following about those Bush/Cheney/McCain/Whoever? CONSERVATIVES!!!!!!!! I guess I can see having read the whole article why he deserved being "knighted" or at least crowned. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

A Full-Service Bank: R. Allen Stanford and the CIA

In a scandal-plagued era such as ours, scarred by murderous wars, occupations and corruption that would make a Roman emperor blush, accused crooks have names; even juiced ones like R. Allen Stanford. Last year, when a federal court in Texas handed down indictments charging Stanford International Bank (SIB) and its officers with "orchestrating a fraudulent, multibillion dollar investment scheme," I wondered: was there more to the story? Indeed there was. Once described by fawning media as a "flamboyant Texan" and "philanthropist," Stanford was founder and sole shareholder of a global banking empire once conservatively valued at $50 billion. According to the federal indictment, "Sir Allen," as he was dubbed by a corrupt former minister of Antigua, ran a massive Ponzi scheme camouflaged as a bank that sold some $7 billion in self-styled "certificates of deposit" and $1.2 billion in mutual funds. Operated from behind a façade of well-appointed offices and with a jet-set lifestyle to match, the Stanford grift may have been impressive but it was a scam from the get-go.

Lured by "high rates that exceed those available through true certificates of deposit offered by traditional banks," thousands lost their shirts. Those high rates were a lie and the bank's "unique investment strategy" about as legitimate as a penny-stock fraud or advance fee scam on the internet. Of the $8 billion hoovered up by the banker and his cronies, only about $500 million have been recovered.

Facing the prospect of years in prison, The Miami Herald reported that SIB's chief financial officer James Davis, once Stanford's college roommate and originally charged in the indictment, copped a plea to save his own neck. Davis told the Justice Department that "his boss had been stealing from investors for decades while paying bribes to regulators and even performing blood oaths never to reveal his secrets." Talk about a wise guy! And with connections and generous pay-outs to U.S. politicians going back more than a decade, 65% of which went to Democrats including our "change" president, Allen Stanford was plugged-in.

Evidence also suggests he may have gotten an assist covering his tracks from regulators and U.S. secret state agencies, including the CIA.

SEC Stand Down

Allen Stanford did business the American way; he swindled depositors and then siphoned-off the proceeds into a spider's web of offshore accounts.

The indictment charges "it was part of the conspiracy that Stanford ... and others would cause the movement of millions of dollars of fraudulently obtained investors' funds from and among bank accounts located in the Southern District of Texas and elsewhere in the United States to various bank accounts located outside of the United States ... in order to exercise exclusive control over the investors' funds."

Auditors learned that funds were moved through Stanford-controlled accounts to offshore banks, including HSBC in London, Bank Julius Baer in Zurich and eight others; banks which have figured in past money laundering or tax-avoidance scandals. None have been charged with an offense in connection with the affair.

In all, 28 numbered accounts were listed by prosecutors, veritable black holes that escaped scrutiny; that is if regulators in Washington were minding the store, which they weren't. Years earlier, SEC investigators at the commission's Ft. Worth office uncovered evidence of wrongdoing. According to an explosive report by the SEC's Office of the Inspector General, Ft. Worth examiners launched a series of probes in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2004 exploring SIB practices but their diligence was sabotaged by high-level officials.That report,

Investigation of the SEC's Response to Concerns Regarding Robert Allen Stanford's Alleged Ponzi Scheme, Case No. OIG-526, March 31, 2010, paints a damning picture of the regulatory process.

The Inspector General states: "While the Fort Worth Examination group made multiple efforts after each examination to convince the Fort Worth Enforcement program ('Enforcement') to open and conduct an investigation of Stanford, no meaningful effort was made by Enforcement to investigate the potential fraud or to bring an action to attempt to stop it until late 2005.

"Last month, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that staff members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared management retaliation, told the newspaper that higher-ups wanted "tools to do away with people who have a dissenting opinion."

Senior managers called the probes a "goat screw" and ordered them killed.

The OIG investigation "found that the former head of Enforcement in Fort Worth, who played a significant role in multiple decisions over the years to quash investigations of Stanford, sought to represent Stanford on three separate occasions after he left the Commission, and in fact represented Stanford briefly in 2006 before he was informed by the SEC Ethics Office that it was improper to do so." (emphasis added)

In Florida, The Miami Herald revealed that state regulators did the SEC one better and gave the bank carte blanche to operate secretly, moving "vast amounts of money offshore - without reporting a penny to regulators."

The arrangement between the bank and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation was so brazen, that Stanford's company "was allowed to sell hundreds of millions in bank notes without allowing regulators to check for fraud."

And once those suspect instruments were sold, the Herald reported that "employees shredded records of the trust agreements and CD purchases once the original documents were sent to Antigua, state records show."

A sweet deal if you can get it, or have powerful friends who might wish to avoid messy inquiries touching upon sensitive matters. The New York Times reported last year that current charges "stem from an inquiry opened in October 2006," that is, nearly a decade "after a routine exam of Stanford Group, according to Stephen J. Korotash, an associate regional director of enforcement with the agency's Fort Worth office." Korotash told the Times that the SEC "stood down" its investigation "at the request of another federal agency, which he declined to name."

According to BusinessWeek, in 2006 the Bush administration "bestowed on his intelligence czar ... broad authority, in the name of national security" to excuse companies from "their normal accounting and securities-disclosure obligations" if such disclosures revealed "certain top-secret defense projects." At the time, William McLucas, the Securities and Exchange Commission's former enforcement chief told the publication that the ability to conceal financial information from regulators under the rubric of "national security" could lead some companies "to play fast and loose with their numbers."

The former official said, "it could be that you have a bunch of books and records out there that no one knows about." In response to media reports, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), wrote a letter to SEC Chair Mary Schapiro last year, demanding documents, and answers, why the SEC suspended investigations of the "Stanford Group under pressure from another unidentified federal agency."

The Ohio congressman said, "if this is true ... our subcommittee will demand that the SEC reveal the name of that agency which told it not to enforce federal laws which protect investors."Neither documents nor answers were forthcoming.

Cynics might see something untoward here, but I think it's all just a coincidence, like drug planes bought with bundles of cash laundered through American banks.

Drug Probes Killed

In 1986 during the Iran-Contra period, Allen Stanford's Guardian International Bank set up shop on the sleepy Caribbean isle of Montserrat (pop. 5,870).

It didn't take long before the bank came under scrutiny. Guardian was the subject of a joint Scotland Yard-FBI investigation "into so-called 'brass-plate' banks," The Independent disclosed. According to reporters David Connett and Stephen Foley, the bank "was suspected of laundering drug money from the notorious Medellin and Cali drug cartels run by Pablo Escobar and the Orejuela brothers."

During the Iran-Contra scandal, congressional investigators and journalists scrutinized links between Colombian drug traffickers and the CIA's Nicaraguan Contra army.

By 1986, evidence began to emerge that top Contra officials and the Agency enjoyed cosy ties with both Escobar and the Orejuela brothers. Under pressure from the Reagan administration however, both Congress and corporate media deep-sixed the story as the affair was covered-up.

A decade later, largely as a result of outrage generated by the late Gary Webb's Dark Alliance series, a memorandum of understanding between Reagan's Justice Department and the Agency entered the public record. That 1982 memo legally freed the CIA from reporting drug smuggling by their assets.

Former FBI agent Ross Gaffney who led the Guardian probe, told Connett and Foley that "we suspected that Stanford's bank was involved in money laundering." But before that investigation could be developed, Stanford suddenly pulled up stakes and "voluntarily surrendered his Montserrat banking licence and left the island."

Gaffney said that even after Guardian closed, the FBI "continued to take an interest in Stanford and set up a second inquiry into that bank after receiving intelligence that it continued to launder money for the Medellin and Cali cartels." The former federal agent told The Independent, "We had hard intelligence about what he was doing and we began to develop it" but the investigation died or more likely, killed, by officials higher-up the food chain.

After leaving Montserrat, Stanford trained his sights on Antigua and Barbuda and developed a close relationship with former prime minister Lester Bird."Under the Bird family leadership" Connett and Foley reported, "the island was widely regarded as one of the most corrupt in the Caribbean, with well-documented links to arms and drug smuggling and money laundering."

According to The Independent, "in 1990, Israeli automatic weapons ordered by Mr Bird's brother Vere turned up in the hands of a notorious Colombian drug trafficker."

Despite suspicions, it appears that Stanford was golden as far as the feds were concerned; just another guy with an endless supply of "get-out-of-jail-free" cards. One reason Stanford operated with impunity, the BBC informs us, is that he "may have been a US government informer." DEA documents seen by BBC's investigative unit Panorama, suggest that "drug money [was] originally paid in to Stanford International Bank by agents acting for a feared Mexican drug lord known as the 'Lord of the Heavens'."

Confidential DEA sources believe that Stanford turned over "details of money-laundering from Latin American clients from Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador," thus "effectively guaranteeing himself a decade's worth of 'protection' from the authorities, especially the SEC."

"We were convinced that Stanford's bank attracted millions of narco-dollars," sources told Panorama, "but it was very difficult to get the evidence to nail him." "The word is" BBC reported, "that Stanford has been a confidential informer for the DEA since '99."

Snitch or not, this raises intriguing questions.Was Stanford's bank a black hole which U.S. intelligence agencies could exploit, in the interest of "national security" mind you, and therefore exempt from "normal disclosure obligations" as BusinessWeek averred?

If this were so, then even if Stanford were an informant he could have continued to launder drug money and profit nicely; such gentleman's agreements are not without precedent.One need only glance at internal U.S. government documents released by the National Security Archive, documents which revealed the Cali cartel's close collaboration with corrupt Colombian police, neofascist paramilitaries and the CIA when Medellín drug lord Pablo Escobar was run to ground.

Pointedly, was Stanford's banking empire another in a long line of institutional channels that drug cartels and the CIA could both profit from?

Banks, Drugs and Covert Operations

Across the decades, historians, investigative journalists and researchers have uncovered strong evidence that various banks have served as virtual cut-outs for CIA covert operations. Readers need only recall illegal activities by institutions as diverse as Paul Helliwell's Castle Bank and Trust in the Bahamas, Frank Nugan and Michael Hand's Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney and the Cayman Islands, or the far-flung empire of Agha Hasan Abedi's Bank and Credit and Commerce International.

Separated in time and geography, what all three banks had in common was their close proximity to international drug trafficking networks and the CIA, particularly in areas of acute interest to U.S. policy planners. Did Stanford International Bank have a similar arrangement with the Agency?

When the scandal finally broke, the Houston Chronicle reported that authorities had been "looking for ties to organized drug cartels and money laundering, going back at least a decade." In the late 1990s, court documents revealed that "operatives of the Juarez cartel began opening accounts at Stanford's Antigua-based bank," laundering profits amassed by the Amado Carrillo Fuentes organization, the late "Lord of the Heavens" referred to in the BBC report.

The Chronicle notes that Fuentes' representatives "used Stanford International Bank to open 10 accounts and deposit $3 million." We should bear in mind however, these represent only known accounts. Were there others?

Federal and state investigators have said that there were. After authorities determined the accounts were held by a notorious drug cartel, Stanford turned over the $3 million. Yet despite hard evidence of criminal wrongdoing, federal officials told the Chronicle that "any alleged Stanford connection to drug cartels and their money could lie buried in the paperwork gathered for the Security and Exchange Commission's civil inquiry."One might even say rather conveniently.

During the same period, Texas state securities regulators uncovered more evidence of money laundering by Stanford entities. But because it involved offshore banks, they "referred it" to the FBI and SEC.

Texas Securities Commissioner Denise Voigt Crawford told a Senate Finance Committee last year, "Why it took 10 years for the feds to move on it, I cannot answer." Miffed by government foot-dragging, Crawford added, "We worked with the FBI and the SEC and basically gave them the case. We told them what we'd seen and they were going to run with it."But that investigation died on the vine.

Echoing similar themes, The Observer disclosed an FBI source close to the investigation confirmed that the Bureau "was looking at links to international drug gangs as part of the huge investigation into Stanford's banking activities."

The Observer reported that Mexican authorities seized one of Stanford's private jets in connection with alleged links to the Gulf cartel and said that "cheques found inside the plane were linked to the cartel, which is one of the most violent criminal organisations in the world."

DEA sources told the London newspaper "there may well have been a trail connecting his Mexican affairs to narco-trafficking interests." However, a second DEA official told The Observer, "I think we'll find that any possible drug-related trail and SEC priorities are not all in the same frame."A curious statement considering the billions of dollars in fraudulent activities alleged against the bank, some of which may have been derived from laundering drug money.

One would assume that evidence of serious wrongdoing would be motive enough to take a hard look at the allegations and not concoct a fairy tale that these charges lie "buried in the paperwork"!

A U.S. drug enforcement official told The Observer, "Any major US interest seeking to avoid fully disclosed investments would have to go to pretty careful lengths to avoid encountering cartel interests."

"Anyone seeking to conceal or launder money would find it in safe and lucrative hands were they to forge alliances with, rather than skirt, the cartels," The Observer noted, and would "find them accommodating in terms of remuneration."

The official hastened to add, it's "nothing anyone will confirm for Stanford right now." The question is: why?

A Full-Service BankOne possible answer may revolve around charges that SIB's Venezuela branch was a conduit for laundered CIA funds.

If true, then the Agency would be dead set against trial disclosures that revealed the bank had been involved in laundering drug money, particularly if narcotics syndicates are playing a role in U.S. destabilization efforts there.

Months before Stanford's empire collapsed, Venezuela's socialist government launched a raid on SIB offices in Caracas.The Daily Telegraph reported that "Sir Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire ... is now at the centre of an international spying row."The conservative British newspaper disclosed that "officials from Venezuelan military intelligence raided a branch of his offshore bank over claims that its employees were paid by the CIA to spy on the south American country."

Although corporate media in the U.S. dismissed Venezuelan allegations as propaganda, questions persist.

While on a charm offensive before his arrest last year, Stanford gave an interview to CNBC's Scott Cohn. When asked about claims that his bank may have been a cut-out for the Agency, this curious exchange took place:

Cohn: "You just by nature of your position and where you were got to know a lot of people in Latin America, in Africa, in Europe, around the world, and it strikes me that somebody in your position would be useful to the authorities in the US trying to find out what was going on there, what was going on in places like Venezuela. Can you tell me about any sort of role you played that way, were you helpful to the authorities in the US?"

Stanford: "Are you talking about the CIA?"

Cohn: "Well, you tell me."

Stanford: "I'm not going to talk about that."

Cohn: "Why not?"

Stanford: "I'm just not going to talk about that."

Cohn: "Well, I mean, am I - is my premise correct that someone in your position would be helpful to those who wanted to know what was going on?"

Stanford: "I really don't have anything to add to that that would be of any value."

Stanford's reticence is certainly understandable, considering Frank Hand's fate 30 years ago.

During a similar scandal when the CIA-linked Nugan Hand bank collapsed amid charges of fraud and drug money laundering, the chief executive turned up dead in his Mercedes with a shot to the head.

Despite evidence uncovered by investigations going back to the 1980s, drug money laundering charges or any reference to Agency activities will not figure in the Justice Department's case when Stanford goes on trial in January.

As ABC News delicately put it, SEC action against Stanford "may have complicated the federal drug case."

Underscoring the federal government's reluctance to explore this dark corner of Allen Stanford's career, it might do well to keep in mind what one airline executive told investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker during his probe into the 9/11 attacks."

Sometimes when things don't make business sense, its because they do make sense . . . just in some other way."

Now that's some CONSERVATIVE DRUG WAR MANAGEMENT isn't it? More folks laughing all the way to jail (and then back to the "banks"). Any one still wondering about how Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff thought they could get away with their sooooo minor crimes? (And are - you can be assured.) And they're(we're) still funding (bigtime) that WAR ON DRUGS? Absolutely! And locking up hippies for less than a gram of marijuana use. And the very mention of Daniel Hopsicker should make everyone who doubts the 9/11 Truth Movement's mission very uneasy. Have we had enough yet? Let's get organized people! Suzan _____________

Thursday, August 26, 2010

So, Bush IS Gay (and Most Everyone Else Around the Rethuglican Elite - Almost A Calling Card?) & Gates Foundation Funds Monsanto's Work (Surprise!)

"Who ya gonna get to do the dirty work, when all the slaves are free?" (Joni Mitchell - Passion Play) Listen to the tune of the ages while you read the following, please (and yes, this certainly qualifies as a "passion play"). So, now we understand much more completely all those fake reporter/founder of the extremely blue/gay website escort-service entrepreneur Jeff (Guckert) Gannon (or possibly someone mysterious named Johnny Gosch (courtesy of Sherman Skolnick whose information may seem even more unbelievable and yet strangely resonant) with the tendrils from this story extending to that historic Supreme Court interference in the 2000 Election, 9/11 connections madness and Katrina intentional slowups) visits to the White House and his being issued officially that suspicious Congressional press pass, which even Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said he had no qualifications to receive (and of which even I saw a copy at the time, but is reported to be missing now). But . . . maybe not. Maybe he was visiting Laura, or the girls, or someone else . . . could have been almost anyone if you believe even just this story. One thing we do now know is that Ken Mehlman, Bush/Cheney campaign manager has finally come OUT (as they say), and it's in the pages of The Atlantic's writer Marc Ambinder. Remember all those rumors about why every time a Rethuglican "leader" is exposed in a gay liaison entanglement they trot out the religious-dominated nonsensical "gays are bad" rant at the top of their lungs? And then deny. Both? You gotta give them props for consistency though. This time the hatchet's job already done on Obie, so they are free to come out for gay marriage now - as if that's what they've always been interested in. Being nondiscriminatory to everyone since time immemorial (as the saying goes). All history to the contrary. This has not been a very good blog for conspiracy theories without concrete foundation blocks upholding the reasoning of, say, physicists and engineers about the 9/11 accepted conspiracy story, but I may be rethinking that decision soon considering the importance of the next election and the huge conspiracy theories rampantly covered on Faux Snooze channels now concerning the current President, and the incredibly huge conspiracy theory about the Constitutional scholarship possessed by loudmouths resident on the right wing. Michael Rogers at BlogActive fills us in (be sure to click on the previous link to listen to Bill Maher on Larry King too) on the latest Bush gay guys concrete news (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

If I had to say what one thing really moved me to create this site it would be the 2004 reelection campaign of George W. Bush, the most homophobic national campaign in history. That campaign was run by one of the nation's worst closeted individuals, Ken Mehlman.

If I first started writing about Mehlman in 2004, why is Ken getting his Roy Cohn Award now? Because I am able to report – here for the first time – that Ken Mehlman, the former Chairman of the Republican National Committee is set to come out of the closet in a column by Atlantic writer Marc Ambinder Friday morning or early next week. This will be on the heels of his being included in a fundraising letter supporting marriage equality.

. . . Following a report about Mehlman, Bill Maher spoke about it on Larry King's show… until Larry's staff edited it out, that is. Here's a two-minute clip from Outrage about exactly that (click on link(s)).

The three people most responsible for the anti-gay actions of the Bush reelection campaign are Mehlman, Karl Rove and Bush. In addition to his role at the RNC, Mehlman served in the first Bush Administration as White House Political Director. In 2004 he was the general chairman of the Bush reelection campaign.

In 2004 Steve Schmidt (then the Republican National Convention spokesman and later the McCain campaign's senior strategist) lied to me when I asked him point blank about Mehlman. "Ken Mehlman is not gay," he proclaimed.

In 2006, Mehlman told the New York Daily News, "I am not gay, but those stories did a number on my dating life for six months."

If this move doesn't call for a Roy Cohn Award, I don't know what does. Ken Mehlman is horridly homophobic and no matter how orchestrated his coming out is, our community should hold him accountable for his past.

As we saw with Jim McGreevy, many gay leaders will attempt to elbow themselves to the front of the line to say on cable TV how wonderful it is that Ken is now being honest with the American people. Someone will be quoted in the New York Times saying something like, "After so many years of working for the Republicans, it's wonderful to see Ken be true to himself." Or perhaps you'll read a quote in the Washington Post about how "every gay person is on their own personal journey and we are happy Ken has decided to be so open about his personal struggle." Next up will come the book, then the TV shows, and of course the speaking tour.

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And then there is one other little thing. . . Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He's done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It's time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that's $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea . . . .

And then there's teh partially documented past of GW and GHWB (although it's so vast that we can be pardoned if we can't believe half - or even a quarter? - of it: the admitted blow (in his nicely "forgotten but admitted past"), the well-reported continued drunkenness into his 40's, the fake religious conversion and his wife's favorite "animal-and-George" tete-a-tete stories to the various Press gatherings during his Presidency . . . and what was that about Jeff Gannon (again)?). As time passes and new actors hit the stage, it gets pretty hard to tell all the actors apart doesn't it? Matt Osborne at Crooks and Liars reveals a bit more about the fraudulent culture wars: designed to win elections and then be instantly forgotten until needed desperately again (to stir up the ignorant troops to win elections). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

What If They Had A Culture War And Nobody Came?

August 25, 2010 Culture wars are not meant to be won; they are meant to be continuous. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. Culture warriors constantly pick fights, ignore the needs of others, and install idiocrats to further that agenda. Over the last forty years, the Republican Party has learned to treat politics as the continuation of war by other means; and for a time, militant partisan discipline proved successful for them.

But the surges of Islamophobia, immigrant hysteria, and assorted fearmongering have reached fever pitch because the right has already lost so many battles. Nineteen years after history 'ended,' the right is arguing whether to stay still or go backwards.

. . . Those "religiously active groups" are still a big part of the Republican Party coalition, though a shadow of their former selves. Many of the biggest organizations in political Christianity (Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, etc.) have dissolved or sunk to measures of irrelevance. Self-appointed candidates step into the savior-role. Newt, who began his 2012 bid by converting to Catholicism and whipping up anti-pagan hysteria, is even less popular than Sarah. Mike Huckabee has given his tepid endorsement of Islamophobia, but he doesn't excite FOX News the way Palin does.

Meanwhile, FOX attacks the Cordoba House for its ties to FOX's own second-largest shareholder. Meanwhile, young people are increasingly checking out of church. As the GOP is still a white southern party, Republicans have pandered to anti-immigrant hysteria. That has turned Hispanics and Latinos against the GOP, just as Muslims are increasingly wary of the Republican Party because of the Cordoba House nontroversy.

And then there's this item:

In several high-profile races where the small-government activists have been a factor, standard rules of political etiquette dictating primary losers to graciously throw their support behind the party nominee aren't being followed.

Sometimes, it's because conservative insurgents aren't willing to toe the party line. In others, party veterans haven't been able to swallow their disappointment over being elbowed aside.

Which brings me to the Alabama primary results. Almost no one in the video above (click on link) did well; Dale Peterson, the man in the cowboy hat, was a complete unknown who still finished third in a field of three. Tim James did his best pandering act and surged from third place in a field of four to almost-second, but still third. Despite his best impression of a tea party Republican, Parker Griffith lost his primary battle against a tea party candidate. Bradley Byrne - seen above marching in formation at shoulder arms with his sons - lost his runoff battle even though he pandered to creationists. Even Artur Davis, the only Democrat in the video, lost after running against Obama.

Only Young Boozer, advantaged by his namesake Alabama political dynasty, won a primary. You'll note that his ads included flags, people, and a sane-looking man WHO ISN'T HOLDING A GUN.

And as expected, the real reason for all that money - Warren Buffett's as well as Bill Gates - that has recently been donated to charity (after being stolen "fair and square" in the courts and out) is OUTED. For myself, I'm wondering if this is the clever scheme that convinced Warren Buffett to give his money to those Gates wunderkinds to manage. Reminiscences of India? Going worldwide soon no doubt! (Prepare yourself to read soon about more Asian and African unable-to-be-remedied starvation. Seems that these people want to end (right, END) sustainability.) As reported by Agra-Watch (emphasis marks added - Ed.):
Gates Foundation Invests in Monsanto

Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers

Seattle, WA

Farmers and civil society organizations around the world are outraged by the recent discovery of further connections between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and agribusiness titan Monsanto. Last week, a financial website published the Gates Foundation’s investment portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010 (see the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission). This marks a substantial increase from its previous holdings, valued at just over $360,000 (see the Foundation’s 2008 990 Form).

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on twoprimary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First, Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and hunger among small-scale farmers.

Second, this investment represents an enormous conflict of interests. ”Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African countries.

For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were devastated.

According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure. While Monsanto compensated the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free . . . seeds.

“When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is not very promising,” said Mayet. Monsanto’s aggressive patenting practices have also monopolized control over seed in ways that deny farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue — and bankrupt — farmers for “patent infringement.

News of the Foundation’s recent Monsanto investment has confirmed the misgivings of many farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates in Africa, among them the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, who commented, “We have long suspected that the founders of AGRA — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — had a long and more intimate affair with Monsanto.”

Indeed, according to Travis English, researcher with AGRA Watch, “The Foundation’s ownership of Monsanto stock is emblematic of a deeper, more long-standinginvolvement with the corporation, particularly in Africa.” In 2008, AGRAWatch, a project of the Seattle-based organization Community Alliance for Global Justice, uncovered many linkages between the Foundation’s grantees and Monsanto.

For example, some grantees (in particular about 70% of grantees in Kenya) of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) — considered by the Foundation to be its “African face” — work directly with Monsanto on agricultural development projects. Other prominent links include high-level Foundation staff members who were once senior officials for Monsanto, such as Rob Horsch, formerly Monsanto Vice President of International Development Partnerships and current Senior Program Officer of the Gates Agricultural Development Program.

Transnational corporations like Monsanto have been key collaborators with the Foundation and AGRA’s grantees in promoting the spread of industrialagriculture on the continent. This model of production relies on expensive inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, and herbicides.

Though this package represents enticing market development opportunities for the private sector, many civil society organizations contend it will lead to further displacement of farmers from the land, anactual increase in hunger, and migration to already swollen cities unable toprovide employment opportunities.

In the words of a representative from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, “AGRA is poison for our farming systems and livelihoods. Under the philanthropic banner of greening agriculture, AGRA will eventually eat away what little is left of sustainable small-scale farming in Africa.”

Please read the whole article for even more insight into the "in- charge and raring to go" planners of our future. It's not enough, it appears that the future choices are difficult - they need to made impossible ASAP. Don't we love being Number One? Suzan ____________________

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rejoice! Wall Street Rules Absolutely (Along With Management Companies & Mossad)

Our man in Havana (whoops, I meant New York/D.C./etc., etc.) reports what's really happening to our well being. And the Wall Street bubble being a surprise? Ha ha! On US!!!! Just as I reported back in September of 2008 . . . and his prescriptive is right on the money. Let's see how quickly they figure out how to change them now that someone is voicing this at the top of the economics pyramid. Do not be afraid to raise your voice. Loudly. Constantly. Call the real cops. But first: Quiet! Dean Baker is speaking (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

The middle class is getting whacked by the Great Recession. Fifteen million people are out of work, another 9 million workers can only find part-time jobs, and millions more have given up looking for work altogether. Those lucky enough to be employed are unlikely to see any substantial wage gains for years to come. Millions of homeowners are facing the loss of their home and more than ten million are underwater in their mortgage. Most of the huge baby boom cohort is approaching retirement with little other than Social Security to support them, now that the collapse of the housing bubble has destroyed their home equity and much of the rest of their savings.

This pain is infuriating for two reasons.

First, this was an entirely preventable disaster. The housing bubble was easy to see. Competent economists had long warned of its dangers.

The second reason why the current situation is infuriating is that we know how to get the economy out of this mess. We just need to boost demand. This can be done either with much more government stimulus, more aggressive monetary policy from the Fed, or pushing the dollar down to boost exports. If this disaster was preventable and we know how to get out of it, why didn't our leaders try to stop it before it happened? Why don't they take the steps necessary now to get the economy moving again?

The answer to both these questions is simple; the politicians work for someone else. On Election Day, the politicians might need our votes, but they won't get to be serious contenders unless they've gotten the campaign contributions of the big money crew. And the moneyed elite has been using its control of the political process to ensure that an ever larger share of the economy's output is redistributed upward in their direction.

The reason that there was little interest in cracking down on the housing bubble is that Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the rest were making a fortune from the financial shenanigans that fueled the bubble. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin personally pocketed over $100 million from this fun. Why would they want the government to rein it in?

Of course, when the bubble did finally blow and threaten their banks with bankruptcy, the Wall Street crew just ran to the government for help. And they got trillions of dollars in loans and loan guarantees to ensure that they would not be victims of the crisis they had created. Now that they are back on their feet, with Wall Street profits and bonuses both again at near record levels, they see little reason to concern themselves with the measures that might set the economy right for the rest of us.

After all, the steps necessary to revitalize the economy could mean some inflation. This would reduce the value of the debt owned by the wealthy. And the wealthy don't see any reason that they should risk any of their wealth just for the good of the economy.

We have enormous ground to cover to restore an economy that works for the vast majority, but the first step is to know where we are. The upward redistribution of the last three decades has nothing to do with the market and a belief in "market fundamentalism." This is about a process where the rich and powerful have rewritten the rules to make themselves richer and more powerful.

For example, they wrote trade rules that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of the bulk of the U.S. workforce by placing manufacturing workers in direct competition with low-paid workers in China and other developing countries. This had nothing to do with a belief in "free trade." They did not try to subject lawyers, doctors or other highly paid workers to the same sort of international competition. They only wanted international competition to put downward pressure on the wages of workers in the middle and bottom, not those at the top.

This elite has instituted a system of corporate governance that allows top executives to pilfer companies at the expense of their shareholders and its workers. Top executives are overseen only by a board of directors who owe their hugely overpaid sinecures to the executives they supervise. And of course the Wall Street barons themselves are given a license to gamble with the implicit promise that government picks up their tab when they lose.

No progressive movement will make any progress until we understand the battle we are fighting. Our income is a cost to the rich. They will look to cut it wherever they can, whether this is wages for private sector workers, pensions for public employees, or Social Security for retirees. That is their target. We have to fight back using the same logic.

Their income is our cost - the multimillion dollar bonuses for the Wall Street wizards is a direct drain on the economy. So are the bloated paychecks of top executives and their lackey boards. Progressives must be prepared to use all the same tactics to bring down the income of the rich and powerful that they have used to reduce the income of everyone else.

This means restructuring the rules of corporate governance to put serious downward pressure on the pay of top executives. The highest paid workers (doctors, lawyers, and economists) must be subjected to international competition in the same way as manufacturing workers have been subjected to international competition. And, we should sharply limit the extent of the patent or copyright protections that are exploited by the drug industry and the entertainment and software industries.

We have to put the focus on the ways the rich have rigged the rules and place this at the center of political debate. The three decade-long battle over tax cuts for the rich is important, but at the end of the day it is a side show. If we let them steal all the money at the onset, it really doesn't make much difference if they end up letting us tax a little of it back.

I hope you read it all. It's the best explication for cause, effect and action that I've read yet. We certainly need it right about now. And then we have:
The Great Management Consultancy Scam - How it Could Be Coming for Your Job
I'm guessing that Arianna isn't as rich as she thought she'd be? It's quite an exposé on her peers (and I turned down the opp to work for the George May fake company due to integrity - not even starvation could have made me partake of this scam). She does get rather well paid for this though. Doesn't she? (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

In the long fake boom of the Nineties and Noughties, we were sold a thousand scams. End government regulation of the financial system! Turn banks into casinos! Pay CEOs 500 times more than their staff! Bow, bow, bow before our mansion-dwelling overlords and the Total Efficiency they will bring! Yet from under the rubble left by these delusions, one of the greatest scams has skipped out unscathed, and it is now successfully selling itself as a solution to the fading of the boom-light. It is probably in your workplace now, or coming soon. Its name? Management consultancy.

There are now half a million management consultants in the world, and they all grumble that they face one question wherever they go: yes, but what is it that you actually do? They claim to be able to enter any organization, watch its workers for a short period, and then -- using graphs, algorithms, and a jargon that makes quantum physics look like Sesame Street -- render it dramatically more efficient, for a fee. They are everywhere: in the US, AT&T (to pluck a random company) spent $500m on them in just five years, while the British state will soon be spending more on management consultants than on upgrading its nuclear weapons.

Yet the process of management consultancy has always been shrouded in priestly secrecy. Over the past few years there has been a string of memoirs by highly successful former management consultants, finally pulling back the flow-charts. David Craig gives a typical explanation of what the consultants Actually Do. After getting a degree specializing in romantic poetry, he was astonished to be hired by a prestigious management consultancy, given three weeks training, and then dropped into major corporations to tell them how to run their oil rigs, menswear stores, and factories, for tens of thousands of pounds a pop. In his brave memoir Rip Off! he explains: "We were proud of the way we used to make things up as we went along... It's like robbing a bank but legal. We could take somebody straight off the street, teach them a few simple tricks in a couple of hours and easily charge them out to our clients for more than £7000 per week." It consisted, he says, of "lies, lies and even more lies."

He worked to a simple model, which is common in the industry. He had to watch how a workforce behaved for a week - and then tell the company's bosses, every time, that they had 30 percent too many staff and only his consultancy could figure out who should be culled. If he calculated they actually had the right amount of staff, he was told by his bosses not to be so ridiculous and do his sums again: where was the money for them in a properly-staffed company? The company had to be POPed - People Off Payroll.

Of course, this advice was often disastrous. His company was sent into a chain of 500 menswear shops. They advised them to cut staff by (surprise!) 30 percent, and to replace most full-time staff with part-timers. The result? The full-time employees had been highly motivated, because they wanted a career in the company; the part-timers only wanted a little extra cash. So motivation levels in the company collapsed, and with it the standard of service. The company was bankrupt within a few years.

Yes, you might say, but surely he was just a bad management consultant. The rest must get results. The evidence suggests not. The Cranfield School of Management studied 170 companies who had used management consultants, and it discovered just 36 percent of them were happy with the outcome - while two thirds judged them to be useless or harmful. A medicine with that failure-rate would be taken off the shelves.

Matthew Stewart, another former consultant, summarizes his high flying years in the industry by saying: "I felt like a snake oil salesmen without snake oil." When he was sent into a company, he was told to use complex formulae to analyze the productivity of its staff, but he soon realized that the results were "nearly random... Similar results could have been achieved by having four monkeys throw darts at a few matrices." Yet on this basis, he was taking a fortune in payments, and firing thousands of productive people.

The recession has given a fresh burst to this industry, as corporations beg to be told where to apply the leeches. The number of senior consultants has swollen by 10 percent in the past year, while the number employed by local government has grown by 11 percent.

But there is a growing body of academic research showing that the strategies pushed by these consultancies are in fact disastrous - and hasten the collapse of a company or service. Professor Wayne Cascio of the University of Colorado has studied the relative costs and benefits of POPing your workforce. Corporations and governments are receptive to the idea that the quickest, easiest way to save money is to fire workers. But Cascio has shown that, most of the time, the costs outweigh the gains. Obviously, you have to immediately find large amounts of redundancy and severance pay. But the costs don't stop there.

Your workforce becomes very nervous - and a nervous workforce is dramatically less productive and less innovative. The best people leave. The service to the customer deteriorates - so they abandon you even more.

Please read the whole article for the rest of the facts and figures. And start making a noise, people! I know I have.

And from our best source on such intelligence matters, Philip Giraldi, we learn the following. How many Israeli spies can you name that were actually caught and tried? (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Israeli government claims that it does not spy on the United States are intended for the media and popular consumption. The reality is that Israel’s intelligence agencies target the United States intensively, particularly in pursuit of military and dual-use civilian technology. Among nations considered to be friendly to Washington, Israel leads all others in its active espionage directed against American companies and the Defense Department. It also dominates two commercial sectors that enable it to extend its reach inside America’s domestic infrastructure: airline and telecommunications security.

Israel is believed to have the ability to monitor nearly all phone records originating in the United States, while numerous Israeli air-travel security companies are known to act as the local Mossad stations.

As tensions with Iran increase, sources in the counterintelligence community report that Israeli agents have become more aggressive in targeting Muslims living in the United States as well as in operating against critics. There have been a number of cases reported to the FBI about Mossad officers who have approached leaders in Arab-American communities and have falsely represented themselves as “U.S. intelligence.” Because few Muslims would assist an Israeli, this is done to increase the likelihood that the target will cooperate. It’s referred to as a “false flag” operation.

Well, all righty then. We knew the fraudulent reporting on Iran's nuclear status had kicked into high gear. It's nice to put a documented name on the authorship isn't it?

And, of course, the Anti-Mosque Coalition's Website Owned By Neo-Conservative Islamophobe Frank Gaffney.

Why not? No one is paying attention to the facts are they? Suzan _______________

Monday, August 23, 2010

End of Middle Class! RICH Again! Banksters Strike Back (Chase, et al.) Obamaniacs "Make Home Affordable" Scam - Fox News Out of Closet & GMOs Threaten

One more nail in the casket. Anyone got a ticket out (emphasis marks added - Ed.)? Cause I would surely like to borrow it.

On the Way Down

The Erosion of America's Middle Class

August 21, 2010

While America's super-rich congratulate themselves on donating billions to charity, the rest of the country is worse off than ever. Long-term unemployment is rising and millions of Americans are struggling to survive. The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever and the middle class is disappearing. Ventura is a small city on the Pacific coast, about an hour's drive north of Los Angeles. Luxury homes with a view of the ocean dot the hillsides, and the beaches are popular with surfers. Ventura is storybook California. "It's a well-off place," says Captain William Finley. "But about 20 percent of the city is what we call at risk of homelessness." Finley heads the local branch of the Salvation Army.

Last summer Ventura launched a pilot program, managed by Finley, that allows people to sleep in their cars within city limits. This is normally illegal, both in Ventura and in the rest of the country, where local officials and residents are worried about seeing run-down vans full of Mexican migrant workers parked on residential streets. But sometime at the beginning of last year, people in Ventura realized that the cars parked in front of their driveways at night weren't old wrecks, but well-tended station wagons and hatchbacks. And the people sleeping in them weren't fruit pickers or the homeless, but their former neighbors.

Finley also noticed a change. Suddenly twice as many people were taking advantage of his social service organization's free meals program, and some were even driving up in BMWs - apparently reluctant to give up the expensive cars that reminded them of better times.

Finley calls them "the new poor." "That is a different category of people that I think we're seeing," he says. "They are people who never in their wildest imaginations thought they would be homeless." They're people who had enough money - a lot of money, in some cases - until recently." The image of what is a poor person in today's day and age doesn't fly. When I was growing up a poor person, and we grew up fairly poor, you drove a 10-year-old car that probably had some dents in it. You know, there was one car for the family and you lived out of the food bank," says Finley. "In the past, you got yourself out of poverty and were on your way up."

. . . Today the American way is often headed in the opposite direction: downward. For a while, America seemed to have emerged relatively unscathed from the worst economic crisis in decades - with renewed vigor and energy - just as it had done in the wake of past crises.The government was announcing new economic growth figures by as early as last fall, much earlier than expected. The banks, moribund until recently, were back to earning billions. Companies nationwide are reporting strong growth, and the stock market has almost returned to it pre-crisis levels. Even the number of billionaires grew by a healthy 17 percent in 2009.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and 40 other billionaires pledged to donate at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy, either while still alive or after death. Is America a country so blessed with affluence that it can afford to give away billions, just like that?

Growing Resentment

Gates' move could also be interpreted as a PR campaign, in a country where the super-rich sense that although they are profiting from the crisis, as was to be expected, the number of people adversely affected has grown enormously. They also sense that there is growing resentment in American society against those at the top.

For people in the lower income brackets, the recovery already seems to be falling apart. Experts fear that the US economy could remain weak for many years to come. And despite the many government assistance programs, the small amount of hope they engender has yet to be felt by the general public. On the contrary, for many people things are still headed dramatically downward.

According to a recent opinion poll, 70 percent of Americans believe that the recession is still in full swing. And this time it isn't just the poor who are especially hard-hit, as they usually are during recessions.

This time the recession is also affecting well-educated people who had been earning a good living until now. These people, who see themselves as solidly middle-class, now feel more threatened than ever before in the country's history. Four out of 10 Americans who consider themselves part of this class believe that they will be unable to maintain their social status.

Unemployment Persists

In a recent cover story titled "So long, middle class," the New York Post presented its readers with "25 statistics that prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America." . . . In fact, the United States, in the wake of a real estate, financial economic and now debt crisis, which it still hasn't overcome, is threatened by a social Ice Age more severe than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression. The United States is experiencing the problem of long-term unemployment for the first time since World War II. The number of the long-term unemployed is already three times as high as it was during any crisis in the past, and it is still rising.

More than a year after the official end of the recession, the overall unemployment rate remains consistently above 9.5 percent. But this is just the official figure. When adjusted to include the people who have already given up looking for work or are barely surviving on the few hundred dollars they earn with a part-time job and are using up their savings, the real unemployment figure jumps to more than 17 percent.

In its current annual report, the US Department of Agriculture notes that "food insecurity" is on the rise, and that 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy enough food to stay healthy at some point last year. One in eight American adults and one in four children now survive on government food stamps. These are unbelievable numbers for the world's richest nation.

Part 2: Where Did All the Money Go?

The boom in stocks and real estate, the country's wild borrowing spree and its excessive consumer spending have long masked the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans derived almost no benefit from 30 years of economic growth. In 1978, the average per capita income for men in the United States was $45,879 (about €35,570). The same figure for 2007, adjusted for inflation, was $45,113 (€35,051).

Where did all the money go? All the enormous market gains and corporate earnings, the profits from the boom in the financial markets and the 110-percent increase in the gross national product in the last 30 years? It went to those who had always had more than enough already.

While 90 percent of Americans have seen only modest gains in their incomes since 1973, incomes have almost tripled for people at the upper end of the scale. In 1979, one third of the profits the country produced went to the richest 1 percent of American society. Today it's almost 60 percent. In 1950, the average corporate CEO earned 30 times as much as an ordinary worker. Today it's 300 times as much. And today 1 percent of Americans own 37 percent of the total national wealth. Income inequality in the United States is greater today than it has been since the 1920s, except that hardly anyone has minded until now.

Turning Out the Lights

As a result, many state and local governments are faced with enormous budget deficits. In Hawaii, for example, schools are closed on some Fridays to save the state money. A county in Georgia has eliminated all public bus services. Colorado Springs, a city of 380,000 people, has shut off a third of its streetlights to save electricity.

There are many discrepancies in America in the wake of the financial crisis. On the one hand, the Fed is constantly printing fresh money, and the government spent $182 billion to bail out a single company, the insurance giant AIG. On the other hand, the lights are in fact going out in some areas, because Washington, citing the need to reduce spending, is unwilling to provide local governments with financial assistance. "America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere," economist (Paul)Krugman warns.

Please read on for more of the same (like we need any more of this type news (we do actually)).

Paul Krugman says Now That's Rich today. And it is, friends, it certainly is (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

23 August 10

We need to pinch pennies these days. Don't you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What - you haven't heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I'm talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

. . . there’s a real chance that Republicans will get what they want. That’s a demonstration, if anyone needed one, that our political culture has become not just dysfunctional but deeply corrupt.

What’s at stake here? According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the sake of comparison, it took months of hard negotiations to get Congressional approval for a mere $26 billion in desperately needed aid to state and local governments.

And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year.

And no one dares to argue the benefits of the "trickle down" theory anymore. Just too ludicrous. Humor from a seemingly-proud-to-be-a-corrupt-and-ignorant civilization. Imagine the level of education of people who buy this. And will fight you over its veracity.

Not at all surprising news below considering the depths to which the banksters have dived in search of new (drowning already this time) fools. Too bad it's poor Ted Rall on the receiving end (and thousands of others with no names yet).

The Banksters Strike Again Chase Bank and Obama's "Make Home Affordable" Scam By Ted Rall August 21, 2010


It isn't surprising, what with the world falling apart and all, that the world scarcely noticed that I lost my job as an editor in April 2009. Why should it? I was one of millions of Americans who lost their job that month.

But it mattered to me. It wasn't all bad. No more early morning commutes. And no more Lisa. Lisa was my boss. My mean boss. My mean and crazy boss. In the long run, I stand to save thousands of dollars on therapy.

In the meantime, however, one visit with HR cost more than half my annual income. (My ex-employer, the Scripps media conglomerate, offered just four weeks severance pay - if I agreed not to work as a journalist for the rest of my life. Needless to say, I refused.) Just like that, I was broke.

The bills, of course, kept coming. Including my home mortgage. Unlike many people, I was conservative. When I bought, in 2004, I put down more than 50 percent of the purchase price. Refusing an adjustable-rate mortgage, I took out a vanilla 30-year fixed-rate mortgage from Chase Home Finance LLC. My monthly nut, a combined payment of $2200 for the loan plus local property tax, didn't seem so bad in '04. But property taxes went up. Now I'm shelling out over $2700 - on half the income. I'm still making my payments on time, but only by borrowing from a home equity line of credit.

I'm not in foreclosure. But it's easy to see how, if this keeps up, I will be. The credit line isn't limitless. The more I borrow, the higher my payments on that. My cash flow is a disaster. So I asked Chase for help.

Responding to political pressure to cut distressed homeowners a break, the big banks who destroyed global capitalism in 2008 - including Chase - agreed to the Obama Administration's request to create a program to assist distressed homeowners. The result was "Make Home Affordable." (Nice name.)

From Chase's website: "No matter what your individual situation is, you may have options. Whether you want to stay in your home or sell it, we may be able to help." Key word: "May." Translation: "May" = "Won't."

As I can now attest from personal experience, "Make Home Affordable" is a scam. MHA is cited by bank ads as evidence that they get it, that their "greed is good" days are over, that we don't need to nationalize the sons of bitches and ship them off to reeducation labor camps.

In reality, it exists solely to give banks like Chase political cover. They deliberately give homeowners the runaround, dragging out the process so they can foreclose. As of the end of 2009, only four percent of applicants received any help. By June 2010 the vast majority of that "lucky" four percent had lost their homes anyway - because the amount of relief they got was too small.

Read on for the full sad story of what Chase and many others have been set up to do to us now (by our own people?) that is surely illegal fraud (and totally unethical, immoral, but not fattening).

And then Mike Whitney gives us the figures once again detailing exactly how screwed the lower classes (including most of the middle class now) in the U.S. are.

Frozen in the Headlights

The Economy is in Big Trouble

By Mike Whitney

August 21, 2010

The personal savings rate has risen to 6.4%. When households save, consumer spending declines and GDP shrinks. The reduction in economic activity can have serious knock-on effects. It can lead to more layoffs as investment sputters as aggregate demand flags. If the downturn persists, asset prices and wages fall leading to tighter credit, deflation and a deepening slump. The good news is that the problem can be fixed. The government merely needs to increase the deficits to satisfy the net savings desires of the private sector. In other words, the government needs to fill the hole created by the lack of personal consumption. That's all it takes to keep people employed, reduce the output gap, and avoid much of the pain from economic contraction. When the economy returns to trend, government revenues increase and the budget deficits shrink. This isn't theory; it's the way the system works.

Stimulus works because stimulus means spending. Spending IS economic activity, so (by necessity) it increases GDP. Whether it is 'wise' to increase the budget deficits or not is immaterial. That depends on one's own political orientation. But the fact is, stimulus works.The economy is not effected by our opinions or our political orientation. It's a system. It functions according to the rules which govern its operation. Investment and spending are the lubricants that keep the gears in motion.

The economy does not distinguish between public and private spending. It's all the same. If spending and investment are sufficient to generate growth, then the economy will grow. If spending and investment dry up, the economy will grind to a halt. Either way, the economy is merely responding to the amount of stimulus feeding into the system. Policymakers - the Fed and congress - have now decided to cut off additional stimulus even though the economy is still weak and all the data has been revised downwards.

Conservatives in the House and Senate believe that the budget deficits are too large and that the government must slash spending. Thus, the economy - which everyone agrees is weak - is being further battered by the muddled thinking of ideologues. This is politics; it has nothing to do with economics.

The opponents of stimulus don't believe that the government should meddle in the markets. They think the Fed should allow asset prices to tumble, unemployment to skyrocket, and financial markets to crash. The liquidationist approach is principled, but shortsighted. There's no need to let the economy crash when steps can be taken to soften the blow. The government has the means to support the economy until the private sector repairs its balance sheet and resumes spending.

Here's an excerpt from economist Richard Koo in "The Economist" which helps to explain what needs to be done: "The next move for the Fed, a long overdue one in my view, should be to announce that the US is afflicted with a balance sheet recession, a rare disease that strikes only after the bursting of a nationwide debt-financed asset price bubble. With its asset prices collapsing while its liabilities remain, the private sector is forced to deleverage or minimize debt even with zero interest rates in order to repair its battered balance sheets. The Fed should explain that in this type of recession, monetary policy is largely ineffective because those with negative equity are not interested in increasing borrowings at any interest rate.

The Fed’s continued failure to explain the exact nature of the disease only increases the public’s expectations for monetary policy which could lead to a big disappointment later with an equally serious loss of credibility for the central bank.

Moreover, during balance sheet recessions the effectiveness of monetary policy actually depends on the government’s fiscal policy. This is because when the private sector is deleveraging, money supply shrinks as bank deposits are withdrawn to pay down debt. The only way to keep money supply from shrinking is for the public sector to borrow money.

Read on for more short-term presciptives that will let the air out of the hot-air balloons (if our rulers only cared). And Fox, of course, is now out of the closet. (Fancy that!)

The Young Turks - Fox News finally made it official. They are part and parcel of the Republican Party. They are now the largest donors to the Republican Governors Association, having given them $1 million dollars. They also employ three out of the top four Republicans in the Iowa Caucus Poll for GOP presidential candidates. As I explain here, now that Fox News has come out of the closet, it's hard to distinguish where Fox News ends and the Republican Party begins: But there is one more factor here. It's not just that Fox News has a point of view. Many publications and shows have a certain perspective as well, whether it's conservative or liberal. It's that Fox News does propaganda. What's the difference?

They don't just have a perspective, they have an agenda. And they drive that agenda until their political goals are met. So, they don't just do the so-called Ground Zero Mosque story on one or two shows randomly depending on the host's interests. They all do it. Their talk show hosts do the story. Their so-called news anchors do the story. They do it 24-7 until it spreads to the other cable news stations, and then thereby spreads into the whole media.

That's not a coincidence, that's a well thought out strategy. And it works like a charm. So, for example, people are confused as to why the Democrats always seem to get slammed in the summers. That's because Congress is in recess, there is a news void and Fox fills that void with whatever propaganda they have decided will incite fear and loathing at that time. So, last summer it was death panels and Tea Parties. This summer it's the "Ground Zero Mosque."

And next summer it'll be something else, but here are the elements I guarantee it will have - a story that is covered non-stop, an incendiary topic that gets people talking, something that either stokes fear and/or hatred and involves a charge based on almost no facts. That's the formula. Watch, come back to this article next August and you will see that's exactly what happened again. The rest of the media is putty in Fox News' hands. So easy to manipulate and control. Don't get me wrong, this happens year around, too. It's just that the summer is their killing fields because of the dearth of other political stories. And how about the poor Democrats that are the victims of this propaganda machine? They are so clueless and feckless that it's almost hard to feel sorry for them. You begin to feel contempt. Is anyone ever going to fight back against this machine?

Do you people even know what's happening to you? The longer the Democrats and the rest of the media treat Fox News as a legitimate "news station," the longer this will happen. And then everyone will sit around confused about how such a large percentage of the country could think Obama is a Muslim, or that ACORN stole the election for Obama or that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11. They will wonder how these demonstrably false stories could get so much traction. All the while as the Fox News propaganda machine hums in the background. Four commenters provide further light:

mickperry: Murdoch does this everywhere he goes. Fox News might be the jewel in his crown, but lesser 'gems' like the New York Post and the UK Sun newspapers complement the process. They also serve to cultivate mass ignorance, hatred and fear, while at the same time extending his own personal agenda. He has tapped into a very dark side of human nature, and exploited it to the full. DRAGON: JUST WONDERING ? How is it that the ultra right wing nationalists, flag waving, Christian pontificators of Manifest Destiny, Nascar lovin folks that watch cars going around in "right"-hand circles ... religiously watch a TV network that is owned and operated by a FOREIGNER who is a global WORLD GOVERNMENT ADVOCATE ? ? ? There must be something in the water!! Beiruti:

Dear Dragon, I watched Bowling for Columbine, again, last night and there is your answer. Yes, it is "water", if we use it as a proxy term for social support. Yanks are always angry and stressed because they have no certainty in their lives. If a Yank develops a serious illness then it may bankrupt him or her. There is no guaranteed pension, no social benefits, no trust in fellow man and .... you get angry and frustrated. Of course, people on the top operate differently. They seek power for the sole purpose of power. That is why they are more than happy to send those in the bottom to do the dirty work in the military. Throw in the Israeli-firsters and you have an exploding mix: dumb ignorant masses who have no certainty and no promise in their lives, controlled by powerful elite who are Israeli firsters. Rupert Murdoch just loves that formula. powwow:

I'm rereading Washington's Farewell Address. The first time was just too mind boggling. To think how well those founders knew what was to come if their warnings within the Constitution were ignored, thereby dismantled is a slap in the face of a catatonic population, an exercise in futility. Read it anyway, and see how America was lost.

And then we must consider Genetically Manipulated Crops: The GMO Catastrophe in the USA. A Lesson for the World. Been thinking about what's made us so sick (and fat) lately? And why business had been pushing limits on suits for the last 20 years? My family has its first cancer in two generations - and it's a doozy.

Take heed. This is our final warning.

Global Research

August 18, 2010

Recently the unelected potentates of the EU Commission in Brussels have sought to override what has repeatedly been shown to be the overwhelming opposition of the European Union population to the spread of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in EU agriculture. EU Commission President now has a Maltese accountant as Health and Environment Commissioner to rubber stamp the adoption of GMO. The former EU Environment Commissioner from Greece was a ferocious GMO opponent. As well, the Chinese government has indicated it may approve a variety of GMO rice. Before things get too far along, they would do well to take a closer look at the world GMO test lab, the USA. There GMO crops are anything but beneficial. Just the opposite. What is carefully kept out of the Monsanto and other agribusiness propaganda in promoting genetically manipulated crops as an alternative to conventional is the fact that in the entire world until the present, all GMO crops have been manipulated and patented for only two things — to be resistant or “tolerant” to the patented highly toxic herbicide glyphosate chemicals that Monsanto and the others force farmers to buy as condition for buying their patented GMO seeds. The second trait is GMO seeds that have been engineered genetically to resist specific insects. Contrary to public relations myths promoted by the agribusiness giants in their own self-interest, there exists not oné single GMO seed that provides a greater harvest yield than conventional, nor one that requires less toxic chemical herbicides. That is for the simple reason there is no profit to be made in such.

Giant super-weeds plague

As prominent GMO opponent and biologist, Dr Mae-Wan Ho of the Institute of Science in London has noted, companies such as Monsanto build into their seeds herbicide-tolerance (HT) due to glyphosate-insensitive form of the gene coding for the enzyme targeted by the herbicide. The enzyme is derived from soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Insect-resistance is due to one or more toxin genes derived from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

The United States began large scale commercial planting of GMO plants, mainly soybeans and corn and cotton around 1997. By now, GM crops have taken over between 85 percent to 91 percent of the areas planted with the three major crops, soybean, corn and cotton in the US, on nearly 171 million acres. The ecological time-bomb that came with the GMO according to Ho, is about to explode. Over several years of constant application of patented glyphosate herbicides such as Monsanto’s famous . . . Roundup, new herbicide-resistant “super-weeds” have evolved, nature’s response to man-made attempts to violate it. The super-weeds require significantly more not less herbicide to control. ABC Television, a major US national network, made a recent documentary about the super-weeds under the rubric, “super weeds that can’t be killed.”[1]

They interviewed farmers and scientists across Arkansas who described fields overrun with giant pigweed plants that can withstand as much glyphosate as farmers are able to spray. They interviewed one farmer who spent almost €400000 in only three months in a failed attempt to kill the new super-weeds. The new super-weeds are so robust that harvester combines are unable to harvest the fields and hand tools break trying to cut them down. At least 400000 hectares of soybean and cotton in Arkansas alone have become invested with this new mutant biological plague. Detailed data on other agricultural regions is not available but believed similar. The pro-GMO and pro-agribusiness US Department of Agriculture has been reported lying about the true state of US crop harvest partly to hide the grim reality and to prevent an explosive revolt against GMO in the world’s largest GMO market.

Read on for the rest of the revolting (should be an incentive to do such) news.

Suzan _______________