Saturday, July 4, 2015

Dead in Chicago  (Conundrae Galore)  Looters Lead the Way? Orwell Sadly Triumphs  (And You Just Thought Elections Were Swamped by Dark Money  (Sekrit Money Located!))  Here's the Right-Wing's Money Honey (Leading To Question of Why No Left Wing's?)  Why Nobody Knows What's Going Into Your Food, Who's Buying the Senate?  Watch Out NC!  (No Wonder We Got Tax-Bomber/River Ruiners McCrory/Tillis in Charge of Demise)

(Listening all evening, friends, to the "Fare Thee Well" Grateful Dead Reunion (first night of three) at Soldier Field in Chicago with much regret (at not being able to attend) and deep reverence and respect for this massive effort aimed at crowd pleasing (and it's a huge crowd that has looked forward to this type tour for 20 years - since Jerry departed - sob! - for mellower fields) on Sirius/XM radio's Grateful Dead channel. And, yes, they opened with "Box of Rain" against all odds.)

Happy 4th! (Make the pledge to be an organ donor - Phil Lesh.)

Sorry that I've been down for so long, but my computer bit the dust (hoping that it's temporary, but we will see about that).

I've got some essays that are quite pertinent to our current political/economic health climate that I thought I'd share with you. Email them to your friends and share the wealth if you think they deserve more publicity.

First off - more lies about the growth in employment and decrease in unemployment (23.1% in June according to Shadow Stats):

The Reported "Good Job" News Is Bad News (John Williams - Shadow Stats)

Only the “No” Can Save Europe — James K. Galbraith

July 2, 2015

James Galbraith, a professor at the University of Texas, explains what is at stake this Sunday. This is an important article. Because of the presstitute Western press, Americans, Europeans, Canadians, and Australians have no comprehension that their own liberty, or what little remains of it, is dependent on this vote. If the Greek people accept the conditions given to them in the ultimatum from the IMF, European Union, and European Central Bank, an ultimatum supported by Washington, the precedent will be established that the greed of the One Percent prevails over the sovereignty of peoples. There is a massive Western propaganda campaign to make Greeks fearful and to use this fear to manipulate a Greek vote against their own government and in favor of the Global One Percent.

In the Western World Capitalism Has Devolved Into Looting

Paul Craig Roberts

… when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. – Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

There’s no such thing as markets anymore – only interventions. – Chris Powell, co-founder and Treasurer of GATA

Ayn Rand is a pariah among those who believe that government is our benefactor. There are times and conditions when government can be a benefactor of the people. But not in the Western world at the present time. As Michael Hudson and I agree, Western central banks refuse to create money to finance economy recovery. Money is created only for the benefit of the oligarchs’ banks in order that the oligarchs can continue to control the governments.

In the US for the past seven years the Federal Reserve has provided cheap bank reserves for the banks to lend at a markup or to speculate with. Banks are no longer suppliers of capital for productive investments and employment. Instead banks invest in speculation, arbitrage, derivatives, financing corporate takeovers and stock buybacks. The Fed has made it unnecessary for banks to pay for deposits. Instead, the banks get free money and charge consumers with negative interest rates for making deposits. For seven years Americans have, thanks to the utterly corrupt Federal Reserve and US government, been deprived of interest on their savings. In the Western world today, savers are penalized, not rewarded.

In Greece and Europe the banks are the oligarchs’ method of control just as the Federal Reserve is in the US and the Bank of England in the UK and the European Central Bank in the EU. The same in Canada, Australia, and Japan. When an oligarchy controls the money, the oligarchy controls the country, so “Western democracy” is only a pretense. There is no democracy in the West; only manipulated democratic symbols, the manipulation of which has allowed the One Percent to acquire the lion’s share of income and wealth, depriving the economy of the consumer purchasing power necessary to maintain full employment.

I agree with Michael Hudson that southern Europe, not only Greece, but also Italy, Spain, and Portugal, are being crucified, because looting debtors is the only way banks can make money when jobs offshoring has destroyed productive investment opportunities in the US and Europe that would raise employment and GDP. The European Central Bank, Hudson writes correctly, “refuses to create money to finance economic recovery, but only to pay the oligarchs’ banks so that they can continue to control the governments.”

Below is Hudson’s article on the Greek debt situation. He explains Syriza’s strategy, which if successful will result in Greece’s departure from the EU and thereby NATO and begin the unraveling of Washington’s principle instruments of creating conflict with Russia.

As I said in my interviews with Investment Research Dynamics and with "King World News," the leaders of the current Greek government possibly could be assassinated in order that Washington prevents the unraveling of the EU and NATO. In my opinion, Greece’s departure would be followed by Spain’s and Italy’s. See: It would be the beginning of the unraveling of Washington’s empire. It is unlikely that Washington would stand for this.

Western Presstitutes Dumbfounded by Vladimir Putin’s 89% Approval Rating

Guest Column by The Saker

June 30, 2015

The Saker notes that the disapproving 11% are not pleased because they want Putin to take a more hardline policy toward the West. In other words, the country is unified in standing up to the West.

What does Vladimir Putin’s 89% rating mean?

Think Russians are tiring of conflict with the West? Not according to President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings, which hit all-time highs of 89 percent Wednesday (…) Putin’s ratings jumped from 65 percent in January 2014 to 80 percent two months later, and they’ve stayed in the 80s ever since, according to measurements from the Moscow-based Levada Center, the only independent polling organization in Russia. They’ve kept going up: In Putin’s 15 years in office, they’ve never been higher than June’s 89 percent (…) The 89 percent approval rating is also a testimony to the near-unanimity of views about Russia’s current direction.

The "Washington Post" is correct:  the Russian people do fully support Putin, especially if you consider that the 11% which are not happy with him are largely composed of Communists who blame Putin for being too sympathetic to capitalist market economy practices, nationalists who think that the Kremlin is too soft or indecisive about supporting Novorussia against the Ukronazis and maybe 1-3% (max!) who generally support the USA & EU. So in terms of the current confrontation with the AngloZionist Empire the real approval rating of Putin would be in the 97-98% range.

Marketing the ‘Russian Threat’

Finian Cunningham explains that about half of the Greek debt is due to military spending in response to the hyped “Turkish threat.” Now it is Eastern Europe and Scandinavia that are busting their budgets due to the hyped “Russian threat.” The benefactors of the “threats” are the US, UK, German, and French military industries. The victims are the dolts who fall for the hyped “threat.”

Reprinted from the Strategic Culture Foundation

The Emergence of Orwellian Newspeak and the Death of Free Speech

John Whitehead warns us, correctly, that we are losing both the ability to speak freely and the ability to speak intelligently as words and their meanings are being proscribed.

The Rise and Fall of Just About Everything

By Tom Engelhardt
The rise and fall of great powers and their imperial domains has been a central fact of history for centuries. It’s been a sensible, repeatedly validated framework for thinking about the fate of the planet. So it’s hardly surprising, when faced with a country once regularly labeled the “sole superpower,” “the last superpower,” or even the global “hyperpower” and now, curiously, called nothing whatsoever, that the “decline” question should come up. Is the U.S. or isn’t it? Might it or might it not now be on the downhill side of imperial greatness?

Take a slow train - that is, any train - anywhere in America, as I did recently in the northeast, and then take a high-speed train anywhere else on Earth, as I also did recently, and it’s not hard to imagine the U.S. in decline. The greatest power in history, the “unipolar power,” can’t build a single mile of high-speed rail? Really? And its Congress is now mired in an argument about whether funds can even be raised to keep America’s highways more or less pothole-free.

Sometimes, I imagine myself talking to my long-dead parents because I know how such things would have astonished two people who lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and a can-do post-war era in which the staggering wealth and power of this country were indisputable. What if I could tell them how the crucial infrastructure of such a still-wealthy nation - bridges, pipelines, roads, and the like - is now grossly underfunded, in an increasing state of disrepair, and beginning to crumble? That would definitely shock them.

And what would they think upon learning that, with the Soviet Union a quarter-century in the trash bin of history, the U.S., alone in triumph, has been incapable of applying its overwhelming military and economic power effectively? I’m sure they would be dumbstruck to discover that, since the moment the Soviet Union imploded, the U.S. has been at war continuously with another country (three conflicts and endless strife); that I was talking about, of all places, Iraq; and that the mission there was never faintly accomplished.

How improbable is that? And what would they think if I mentioned that the other great conflicts of the post-Cold-War era were with Afghanistan (two wars with a decade off in between) and the relatively small groups of non-state actors we now call terrorists? And how would they react on discovering that the results were:  failure in Iraq, failure in Afghanistan, and the proliferation of terror groups across much of the Greater Middle East (including the establishment of an actual terror caliphate) and increasing parts of Africa?

Read all of Tom's above Dispatch for even greater insight into who ru(i)ns the "foreign affairs" of the USA USA USA!.

(In 2014) Six Nonprofits Backed by Conservative Billionaire Koch Brothers Aired More Than 43,900 TV Spots.

You may have wondered how all that money was accrued to back the pro-marriage (between only a man and a woman - although she may be a girl) and anti-abortion onslaught lately?

“Rightly or wrongly, the marriage amendment was given credit in 2004 for Bush winning Ohio, and David was the attorney who made that happen."

 - Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values

This may seem small-time, but it's the massing of these that you've got to watch out for.

And they've been a-massing.

Oh, and by-the-by if you want any information for the public (especially about their tax status), well(!) you're being very rude and unprofessional.

And they'll tell you that.
Just outside Cincinnati, tucked among insurance agencies, hair salons and a yoga studio, is the nexus of one of the nation’s most mysterious networks pouring secret money into elections.

“Langdon Law LLC Political, Election Nonprofit and Constitutional Law,” reads its small sign, which faces the building’s parking lot rather than the street.

On a Tuesday afternoon last month, that parking lot was empty. No one answered the Langdon Law office door. Phone calls went un-returned.

Unlike other heavy-hitting political lawyers, David Langdon doesn’t grandstand.

But don’t overlook him.

Langdon is a critical behind-the-scenes player among the small army of lawyers working to keep secret the origins of millions of dollars coursing through the American political system. Thanks to his work, this unremarkable suburb is a home base for nonprofits and super PACs that pour millions of dollars into elections.

Langdon is also an unswerving legal warrior for conservative, often Christian, nonprofit organizations that together spend millions more to influence public policy and wield great influence among evangelical voters.

Since the 2010 election cycle, at least 11 groups connected to Langdon or his firm have collectively spent at least $22 million on federal and state elections and ballot initiatives around the country, according to a Center for Public Integrity review of records.

Two such groups, nonprofit Citizens for a Working America and a super PAC with the same name, combined to spend roughly $1.1 million on the 2012 presidential election alone.

Langdon was a lead author of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, which Ohio voters passed in 2004. The U.S. Supreme Court last month heard arguments on whether the Ohio ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional.

He has donated thousands of work hours to Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes itself as a nonprofit Christian legal ministry and specializes in religious freedom cases.

He also represents tea party groups suing the Internal Revenue Service over what they allege was unfair scrutiny of their applications for tax exemption, based upon their names and political views.

Recently, he represented Susan B. Anthony List, a leading anti-abortion advocacy group, in a high-profile free speech case that reached the Supreme Court.

Such outside groups and evangelical voters are both poised to play kingmaker roles in the 2016 elections, and Langdon — from the perennial presidential battlefield that is Ohio — is a point of convergence.

This election cycle, the state is also the setting of a high-profile re-election bid by Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who in 2013 reversed his position to support same-sex marriage.

Several conservative groups, including Citizens for Community Values, a longtime Langdon client, have vowed to  defeat  Portman. It won’t be easy. He has an $8 million war chest and a long list of endorsements, and a primary opponent has yet to emerge.

The politically active groups linked to Langdon, several of which boast deep roots in Ohio, would be well positioned to wade into the 2016 elections.

Langdon is “very influential, not very well known by the general public, but very well known in the dark shadows of politics,” said Ian James, executive director of Freedom Ohio, which advocates for a referendum to repeal the 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. “I have no doubt in my mind” that Langdon will be involved in the 2016 elections, he said.

John Green, chairman of the Political Science department at the University of Akron, agreed. “I would not be surprised if a large portion of his network, if not all of his network, were active in Ohio in 2016,” he said.
Who is David Langdon?

Those who know Langdon describe him as focused and strongly committed to values rooted in his Christian beliefs.

Langdon, now 44 and a father of six, attended the University of Akron Law School. Even then, nearly two decades ago, he was interested in litigation and politics and “really, really faith-based,” said Janeen Miller-Hogue, a colleague on the Akron Law Review during law school.

“He’s just rock solid,” she said. “He’s black and white. We both don’t like the color gray. It’s a waste of energy.”

Miller-Hogue said she valued his friendship in part because he could be trusted to keep a confidence. They lost touch after law school, she said, but added:  “I bet if I called him today and I was in a pickle he’d be the first one to help.”

Phil Burress, the head of Citizens for Community Values, said he first met Langdon through Langdon’s parents. Burress said he gave the young lawyer one of his early jobs.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Langdon’s name pops up in Ohio news stories tied to groups with socially conservative platforms. For example, he acted as a defense lawyer for abortion clinic protesters, filed a brief in another case on behalf of the Christian Coalition of Ohio and represented groups opposing a lesbian couple’s efforts to share equal custody of their children.

In 2004, Citizens for Community Values had a prominent role in the effort for the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Ohio, written by Langdon.

Langdon disputed suggestions the ballot initiative was a bid to drive up conservative turnout to help President George W. Bush win Ohio, a hotly contested prize during the 2004 presidential election.

“The reason I do what I do is to protect marriage,” he told "The Washington Post" at the time.

In fact, Langdon, then and now a registered Republican, told the "Post" he hadn’t backed Bush in 2000. Instead, he supported Constitution Party candidate Howard Phillips.

Getting the marriage amendment on the ballot was tricky, Burress said.

In an undated online profile of Langdon, the Alliance Defending Freedom said Langdon and his then-law partner, Jeff Shafer, who now works for the organization, litigated nearly 50 cases in three weeks, fending off attempts to knock the amendment from the ballot.

Voters approved the amendment, though a high-profile case challenging its legality is now before the Supreme Court. And Bush narrowly won Ohio, a critical victory that clinched his second term.

Burress points to that battle as the one that made Langdon’s name. “Rightly or wrongly, the marriage amendment was given credit in 2004 for Bush winning Ohio, and David was the attorney who made that happen,” Burress said.

Several of the groups linked to Langdon declined to talk about his work for them or how they found him. Burress, though, said he recommended Langdon to around 40 groups who work on similar types of issues, including CitizenLink, the advocacy arm of Focus on the Family. Burress also said Citizens for Community Values still works with Langdon.

The Alliance Defending Freedom profile described Langdon as “one of the great veterans of the ministry’s war to defend marriage.” It said Langdon works with groups around the country on corporate, tax and regulatory issues and to “promote stricter government regulation of sexually-oriented businesses.”

Elected officials have also sought Langdon’s counsel.

From 2005 until 2007, Langdon represented then-Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell on election matters, including lawsuits related to voting machines and ballot access, and helped develop election law policy, according to his firm biography.

Monty Lobb, Blackwell’s then-general counsel and chief of staff, said in an interview that he didn’t remember exactly how Langdon came to his attention, but they ran in the same conservative circles. The lawyer impressed him as a “bulldog” capable of providing detailed analysis of complex issues.

Lobb said he appreciated that he and Langdon shared a common conservative Christian worldview, and he recommended him to Blackwell for an outside counsel job.

Now a professor at Ohio Christian University in Circleville, Ohio, Lobb said Langdon delivered as promised and on budget. Once, he said, Langdon had promised to update him on a specific day, but the two wound up playing an epic game of phone tag.

“He still made a point of trying to reach me and follow through at 11 o’clock at night,” Lobb remembered. “I don’t think it was anything earth shattering. That’s the kind of stuff that sticks with you. He could have waited until the next day and been fine with me.”

In 2006, when Blackwell, a favorite of social conservatives, ran for governor, Langdon helped him select his running mate. He also wrote another ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment, this one on curbing government spending, on behalf of a group of which Blackwell was the honorary chairman.

“He was competent, he’s principled, and I never had any bad experience when I worked with him,” said Blackwell, who said he hasn’t spoken to Langdon in more than three years but wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.

James, the Freedom Ohio activist, said he and Langdon actually worked together nearly a decade ago on a ballot referendum issue — the only time, he said, the two have found themselves on the same side of an issue.

“I found him to be likable,” he said. “I thought he was very smart; I thought he was very strategic. For what it was, I thought he had a good sense of humor.”

Still, he said, “It was very odd when he and I were on the phone together.”

Burress said he doesn’t know everyone on Langdon’s current client list and can’t speak to the origin of the money going into elections.

But, “if I saw his client list I could probably tell you there’s no one who represents or thinks differently than we do here,” he said. “His values are strong, and he’s not going to cross over it for money.”

Burress said he’s currently working with Langdon on a project, but wouldn’t provide additional information.

When asked whether he might work with Langdon on anything to do with Portman’s re-election bid, Burress replied, “I’m not going to discuss any of that.”

Langdon isn’t going to, either.

Langdon did not return telephone calls requesting an interview. When a Center for Public Integrity reporter knocked on the door of his Cincinnati house, Langdon told her to leave.

“You’re not welcome here,” he said, calling approaching him at his home “unbelievably unprofessional.”

Nonprofit Central

West Chester, Ohio, seems an unlikely place for a campaign finance and constitutional law practice to thrive.

The suburb, population 60,000, is home to Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, though there is no obvious connection between the two. Langdon Law’s offices — the practice includes at least one other lawyer — are about three miles from a family entertainment center claiming to have “the world’s largest indoor train display.”

But the origin of the millions of dollars flowing through the nonprofits linked to Langdon Law isn’t exactly on the tourist maps.

It is impossible to say where the money comes from, but the effect is real. Many of the groups in the network were formed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which allowed corporations, unions and nonprofits to raise and spend unlimited funds to advocate for and against politicians.

Nonprofits can’t have election-related activity as their primary purpose and need not reveal their donors, making them attractive vehicles for anonymous political spending. Such groups’ politicking has proliferated since the Citizens United decision, prompting accusations that some have been formed primarily to influence elections and calls for the IRS to more aggressively regulate them.

Some of the groups have changed names. Donors to super PACs and ballot initiative groups have been publicly disclosed, but millions of dollars have flowed through nonprofits, obscuring the original source.

Over the past three election cycles, groups connected to Langdon have transferred money among themselves, adding layers that make it even more difficult to track back to the source.

The convoluted network “appears pretty clearly to be geared toward opaqueness,” said Robert Maguire, who investigates political nonprofits for the Center for Responsive Politics and has written about the groups.

Langdon isn’t the only recurring character in this network.

For instance, Norm Cummings, a former political director of the Republican National Committee who managed Blackwell’s 2006 gubernatorial bid, is on the board of New Models, a Virginia-based nonprofit that has given more than $2 million to groups with direct connections to Langdon since 2010 and paid Langdon Law $98,000 in 2010 in connection with an Ohio ballot issue. He’s also a director of nonprofit Citizens for a Working America, which received some of the money from New Models.

At one point, Blackwell’s biography listed him as chair of Citizens for a Working America. In an interview, Blackwell said he had done “some speaking for Citizens for Working America … on issues associated with getting the economy moving again,” but he said he dealt with Cummings, not Langdon, and it was some time ago.

Thomas Norris, an Ohio lobbyist, has been listed on tax filings as both the President and the Executive Director of the nonprofit Government Integrity Fund, which has given money to some of the groups connected to Langdon. He’s also chairman of the nonprofit Jobs and Progress Fund (Langdon is the Treasurer and the group uses Langdon Law’s address). Norris told the (Cleveland) "Plain Dealer" he was involved in creating the Concrete and Portland Cement Action Network, a super PAC for which Langdon is the custodian of records.

Joel Riter, a former aide to Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, has also been linked to several of the groups. On its most recent tax filing, Government Integrity Fund listed him as its Chairman. He is also the Treasurer of the Concrete and Portland Cement Action Network.

Mandel, a Republican, ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2012. Three groups with links to Langdon or his network — the Government Integrity Fund, super PAC Now or Never PAC and Focus on the Family-affiliated nonprofit CitizenLink — spent about $2.8 million on independent expenditures supporting Mandel and opposing his opponent, Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Brown blasted groups that spend millions to influence elections but don’t publicly disclose their donors.

“When a handful of billionaires are able to use their fortunes to exercise disproportionate influence on elections and mute the voices of working Ohioans, we have a problem,” Brown wrote in an emailed statement. “Citizens United opened the floodgates for such incredible sums of money to be spent on elections and we need to ensure that working Americans have just as loud a voice.”

Cummings, Norris and Riter did not respond to requests for comment.

‘An excellent conservative lawyer’

A Center for Public Integrity review of federal and state election filings and nonprofit tax documents shows more than $1.3 million in payments from eight groups to the firm or Langdon since 2010. The money wasn’t all for work on elections.

For example, ActRight Legal, a legal nonprofit with close ties to the National Organization for Marriage, paid Langdon Law about $119,000 for legal services in 2012, according to its federal tax filing. The payments to Langdon Law made up more than 10 percent of the group’s total expenses that year.

Shawna Powell of ActRight Legal said Langdon was an independent contractor who worked on a civil rights lawsuit with several other firms, though she was not able to provide additional detail about it. She said his work with the organization has since ended.

Cleta Mitchell, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and a board member of ActRight Legal, described Langdon as “a quality person and a good, smart lawyer,” but said her interactions with him had been limited. She otherwise refused to discuss him, referring questions to Langdon.

CitizenLink reported paying Langdon Law about $176,000 for legal services between October 2012 and September 2013, a period that includes the 2012 election.

CitizenLink spent about $2.6 million supporting Republican candidates running for federal office that year. The group declined to comment on its relationship with Langdon or the type of work he does for them.

Langdon has also acted as local counsel for conservative watchdog group "Judicial Watch" in two cases, according to the group’s President, Tom Fitton.

“I don’t know him personally but it sounds to me like he’s an excellent conservative lawyer and it should be no surprise that several of us are going to him,” Fitton said. “If any of those groups asked me for a lawyer in Ohio, David Langdon would be a lawyer I would recommend to them.”

But without a referral, Langdon might be hard to find.

Michael Beckel and Ben Wieder contributed to this story.

This story was co-published with Politico Magazine and a version appeared in the Columbus Dispatch.

Consider the Source

Seeking to ‘out’ shadowy political organizations flourishing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

Who's Buying the Senate?

Meet the 'Dark Money' Phantom

Party Control of Pennsylvania's High Court Up for Grabs

Big Money Behind Kentucky's Other Horse Race

Capitol Hill's Uber Caucus

Michigan Ballot Measure Fight Attracts More Than $8 Million

Why Nobody Knows What's Really Going Into Your Food

Consumer Group:  Federal Food Additive Safety Process Is Illegal

Food Safety Scientists Have Ties to Big Tobacco


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