Saturday, June 21, 2014

Money Laundering In WI Cleanses Scott Walker of Rove Stain (When You Have Such a Byzantine Structure It’s Hard To Keep Track of Where All the Millions Are Going:  It's Estimated That Nearly 140 Million Dollars Was Spent by Outside Groups In That Election)  The Loooong Shadow of a NeoCon


Earthquake Strikes 20 Miles From Fukushima
Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams
16 June 2014

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, one quake measuring magnitude 5.8 and another measuring 5.6 struck off the coast of Honsu — Japan's largest and most populated island — overnight.
. . .   the larger of the two quakes hit just 21 nautical miles from the Fukushima plant, where the containment of radioactive water and waste has been fraught with problems since an earthquake struck off the coast of the plant in 2011.

I just knew (somehow) they they might have a hard time figuring out what to do with all those "stolen" public millions flying around the campaign office tables.

Digby shows us the labyrinthine path our money's been trekking for far too long.

Friday, Jun 20, 2014

Scott Walker’s Big-Time Mess: Why 2016 Is the Least of His Problems Now

Problems for Wisconsin's governor are about far more than a presidential run. Here's why he may never get that far

Scott Walker's big-time mess: Why 2016 is the least of his problems nowScott Walker (Credit: AP/Jeffrey Phelps)

Despite the fact that a couple of judges have found the “John Doe” investigation that’s been dogging him for years to be without merit, the news for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is not good.  On Thursday, the Wisconsin Club for Growth got what they wanted and the court released secret documents underlying the case against the governor and the groups alleged to have been illegally coordinating with him during the 2011 recall election.

If one assumes that everyone in the nation agrees that outside Big Money groups should be allowed to funnel money into politics using subterfuge and misdirection (while marching around self-righteously insisting they are defending the First Amendment) then perhaps this can be considered a victory.

Certainly the Wall Street Journal editorial page will see it that way. For them this case is a “civil rights case” in which the Club For Growth is their Rosa Parks being forced to sit in the back of the private jet and drink Perrier-Jouet instead of Dom.

You’ll recall that recently they almost had a full-blown breakdown at the rumor Scott Walker might settle this case rather than have it tied around his neck like a sack full of gold bullion as he was trying to run for president.

And now we know why Walker would have wanted to do that. The documents they’ve released show that the special prosecutor (a Republican, by the way) found evidence of a crime. And among that evidence? Emails between Scott Walker and none other than the big kahuna, Karl Rove himself:

“Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,” Walker wrote. “We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities).”
R.J. Johnson is both a close associate of Walker and a consultant to Wisconsin Club for Growth, which makes for a very nice cozy relationship among all the players. These emails pretty much close the case that Walker and these big outside groups secretly coordinated. They clearly did.

According to the documents released on Tuesday the special prosecutor found that Johnson used the Club for Growth as the hub that disbursed money and direction from the Walker campaign and back. And at the same time, Walker was raising money for the Club for Growth. How’s that for synergy?

He said that in March of 2011 they began to openly discuss their need to coordinate with such groups as the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth and various permutations of the National Republican Party. Conference calls were held between the campaign and various groups. There’s even some evidence that a couple of years before the recall, the National Club for Growth expressed concerns about all this coziness between Wisconsin Club and Scott Walker.

But the legal defense for this hinges on what the right-wingers usually sneeringly call a technicality (when a poor defendant benefits, anyway):  Did these groups expressly “advocate” for Walker and other Republicans in the recall? Two judges in this case (so far) have said they did not because none of the groups said explicitly to “Vote for Scott Walker.”

Evidently, as long as you don’t say those specific words and simply say something like “Scott Walker is a living God who must be worshiped by all while his opponent  is a lying sack of pig manure” you aren’t considered to have “advocated.” That’s not even a loophole. It’s the Grand Canyon. In fact, it makes the law a complete farce.

This chart from Sourcewatch shows how some of the money was laundered through the scheme Walker outlined in his email to Karl Rove. It was estimated that nearly 140 million dollars was spent by outside groups in that election.

It must have been some kind (of) accident that had the Wisconsin Homeowners alliance accidentally funneling some chump change to the wrong side — where it ended up in the hands of Planned Parenthood! One assumes that the Big Money Boyz were not amused by that. But then, when you have such a byzantine structure it’s hard to keep track of where all the millions are going.

It is undoubtedly the case that Wisconsin Club for Growth and Karl Rove and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are beside themselves with glee at the direction this case has taken. After all, the judge in this case ordered all these documents to be released because he didn’t find that any law has been broken.

Now everyone can see that this great “civil rights” issue of our time has been decided in favor of the downtrodden wealthy:  the First Amendment guarantees a rich man’s right to secretly spend millions to buy and sell politicians. Is this a great country or what?

Meanwhile, Scott Walker, the Martin Luther King of this Millionaire Civil Rights Movement, has to deal with the public fallout of these emails showing that he was personally conferring with none other than Karl Rove about coordinating tons of money flowing in from outside Wisconsin.

Maybe the voters won’t care about that and will think it’s nice that their governor has such great friends in high places. Maybe they admire a politician who is willing to push the edge of the legal envelope in order to help his pals and have his pals help him.

But if voters actually think this whole thing looks sleazy and dishonest, whether it’s strictly legal or not, there’s a good reason why he might not have wanted his dirty laundry hanging out for all of Wisconsin to see. He’s got a real race on his hands just to keep his seat in November:

A new Marquette Law School Poll finds that the Wisconsin governor’s race has tightened to a dead heat, with both Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke receiving the support of 46 percent of registered voters, while 6 percent are undecided or say they do not know whom they would support.
If he loses this race he can kiss 2016 goodbye. The Wall Street Journal editorial crowd may not care about that — they are fighting for a “cause” and using Scott Walker as their test case. But you have to wonder if Scott Walker knew he might be signing on to be a martyr to their cause.

(Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Khalilzad found a useful niche in such company as the only Muslim any of them knew, ready to spout their militarist nostrums at the flutter of a grant check.

Heart of Empire — June 12, 2014

The Long Shadow of a Neocon

Reassessing a primary architect of Iraq and Afghanistan’s current misery

By Andrew Cockburn

Zalmay Khalilzad ©© Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

Zalmay Khalilzad ©© Gage Skidmore (Flickr)

As jihadists everywhere celebrate their stunning victories in Mosul and Tikrit, as well as the abject retreat of the United States from Afghanistan, we can only hope that they accord due credit to a man who was indispensable to their success. Now an obscure businessman seeking crumbs from the table as an “international consultant,” Zalmay Khalilzad was in his day an imperial envoy sent by the United States to decree the fates of Afghanistan and Iraq.

His decisions, most especially his selection of puppet overseers to administer the conquered lands, were uniformly disastrous, contributing in large degree to the catastrophes of today. To be sure, many others among the neocon clique and their liberal-democrat interventionist allies deserve a place on the jihadist honor roll of useful idiots, but few contributed as much as Khalilzad, the Afghan-born former academic who selected Hamid Karzai and Nuri al-Maliki as suitable leaders for their respective countries.

Initially promoted up the ranks of the national-security clerisy by Albert Wohlstetter, the dark eminence of neoconservative theology who also mentored neocon godfather Richard Perle, Khalilzad found a useful niche in such company as the only Muslim any of them knew, ready to spout their militarist nostrums at the flutter of a grant check. I myself got an early intimation of Khalilzad’s tenuous grasp on military reality in 1981, when he assured me in all seriousness that the Afghan mujahideen were enjoying great success in disabling Soviet tanks by thrusting thick carpets into their treads. During the administration of the elder Bush, he worked in the Pentagon under Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby. In 1992 he wrote the initial draft of the Defense Planning Guidance, which became an iconic neoconservative text.

Khalilzad’s leap out of relative obscurity came with the post-9/11 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Following the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, an Afghan Loya Jirga assembly indicated by a clear majority that they wanted their aged king, Zahir Shah, to return from his long exile in Rome to preside over the government. This was not to the taste of presidential special envoy, and later ambassador, Khalilzad, who importuned Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi to prevent the Shah from leaving Rome as he meanwhile brusquely informed the Loya Jirga that their leader was to be Hamid Karzai, a Pashtun of modest reputation.

Afghan politicians of all stripes concluded that Khalilzad had purposefully picked someone with little internal support in order to ensure that his own authority remained unchallenged.

This authority he exercised by operating as supreme warlord, rewarding or threatening the lesser strongmen who had emerged in various provincial power bases with grants of aid or threats of airstrikes from the bombers and Predator drones at his command.

Afghans who could foresee the inevitable consequence of this laissez-faire policy toward the universally hated warlords did their best to persuade Khalilzad to change course. One of them later related to me that he suggested that Khalilzad put “ten of them in handcuffs and ship them off to the International Court at The Hague for crimes against humanity.”

“I’m going to bring them in and demobilize them,” countered Khalilzad confidently.

No, Zal,” replied the Afghan sadly, “you’re going to legitimize them.”

So it transpired. While Karzai presided, in his self-designed costume of furry hat and cape, over a regime of staggering corruption, large swaths of Afghanistan fell under the control of characters like Hazrat Ali, a ruffian of pliable loyalties who used American support to gain control of the eastern city of Jalalabad and installed himself, with Khalilzad’s approval, as security chief of Nangahar Province.

He then began vying with fellow warlord Sher Mohammed Akhunzada for the title of world’s leading heroin trafficker (a practice both men denied engaging in) while delivering hapless victims labeled “high value targets” to the torture cells of Bagram or the oubliette of Guantánamo.

In inevitable consequence, disgusted Afghans rallied to a resurgent Taliban. The rest is history.

Resolutely failing upward, Khalilzad became the U.S. ambassador to Iraq in 2005. His signal accomplishment came in 2006, when, searching for a suitable candidate to replace Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister, he summoned Nuri al-Maliki, a relatively low-ranking Dawa Party functionary who had spent much of his adult life in exile in Damascus (with an intervening spell in Tehran), where he subsisted on the earnings of a butcher shop he’d opened. Maliki’s party activities were largely related to security, and his experiences imbued him with a generally paranoid attitude to the outside world — not the best preparation for reconciling Iraq’s disparate sects and factions.

Nevertheless, Khalilzad thought Maliki was just the man to make piece with the Sunnis, crack down on Moqtada al-Sadr (whom the American government mistakenly believed to be an Iranian pawn), and stand up to the Iranians. Summoned by Khalilzad, Maliki was abruptly informed that he was to become prime minister. “Are you serious?” said the astonished erstwhile butcher. The British ambassador, William Patey, had been invited to attend the meeting but when he started to object to Maliki’s anointment, Khalilzad promptly kicked him out of the room.

True to form, all of Khalilzad’s presumptions about Maliki turned out to be wholly in error. So far from reconciling with Sunnis, Maliki went out of his way to alienate them, combining paranoia about the possibility of a neo-Baathist coup with an opportunistic calculation that heightened sectarian tension would bolster his support among Shia.

He showed no sign of serving as the wished-for bulwark against Tehran, and, most importantly, evinced little interest in building a responsible administration.

Instead, Iraqi government, never a model of probity, devolved into a midden of corruption in which every office, including those in the military, was for sale. By 2014, the going price for command of an Iraqi army division was reported to be around $1 million, payable over two years as the purchaser recouped his investment via fees levied at roadblocks and other revenue streams.

Little wonder that when called on to fight the disciplined and ruthless ISIS, the Iraqi army has melted away.

Meanwhile, Khalilzad’s other choice, Hamid Karzai, has overseen a reign of pillage similar in scale to Maliki’s, opening the way for a Taliban restoration and rendering futile the entire American investment in Afghanistan. Defeat is an orphan, they say, but it would be a shame if this particular parent of America’s twenty-first-century humiliations were to be totally forgotten.

It's been said that the reason people couldn't ever be released from Gitmo is that they would tell everyone of the corruption causing their imprisonment by those who profited from heroin growing and trafficking in Afghanistan.

Someday the truth will be known. Too late to imprison the proper felons undoubtedly.


TONY said...

Your best, most all-encompassing headline yet, Cirze. The only Scott Walker worth listening to is the one from the Walker Brothers.

Cirze said...

Oh, Tony, you do go on.

I will admit, though, that he almost ruined the Walker Brothers for me too.

Sad to say they may be related to the bad Walkers (also).

They're under every bed, you know.

Love you!