Wednesday, August 26, 2015

(Trump's Flapdoodle? Many Desperation Projects)  U.S. Banks Flying Greek Flag?  (Bryan Burrough's Frauds)  Fiorina's Fools  (More Income for the Very Rich!)  Homegrown Terrorists:  New US Draconian Laws Usher in New World Order?

Birgitte Nyborg!

Why are the men who run American TV seemingly terrified of actually letting a smart, well-qualified woman be the focus of a television show? Let alone allowing a strong woman to portray a confident and successful political leader?

"Learn to speak Danish!"

And watch "Borgen" on Link TV.

You won't regret it.

And speaking of regrets.

I haven't spent much time thinking about Donald Trump's candidacy for the presidency - it's a non-starter in my mind - and it should be in everyone's. His behavior on the campaign trail has eliminated him from all serious thought for me. He acts in ways that negate the seriousness of this striving and makes me think that he's really about something else altogether. He may be making money from this run.

It wouldn't be out of character for him.

Or something that he wouldn't brag about later.

And nothing - no questionable behavior - is out of his playbook.

(P.S. There are entirely too many tidbits included in today's offering. You'll need a very large glass.)

He behaves like someone who is desperately broke.

Is Donald Trump worth much at all?

The answer from his own filings seems to be "No."

In terms of real, lasting assets - is Donald Trump worth roughly $10 billion?
The mainstream press erred horrendously by taking seriously Trump’s disclosure to the FEC, by asking reporters to sit down with the document and try to understand it on its own terms, so to speak. This approach yielded nothing but exhaustion and bewilderment. No one dared speculate that Trump’s purpose in disclosing so much was to disclose so little. It was a 52-Card Pickup, a maze of trees without a forest.

The assets - some as small as the single-digit thousands - pile up like obsessive compulsive do-dads in the claustrophobic home of a hoarder. The range of projects goes beyond greed and passes into desperation. High rise buildings and golf courses are one thing, but the list of assets quickly degrades into obscure wineries, Israeli vodka and energy drinks, a mattress and clothing line, television shows, a pension from the screen actors guild, bottled water, book royalties, speaking gigs, and endless inchoate and impossible to value ‘marks’ (i.e. trademarks) and positions in partnerships that have his own name.

This is why the "New York Times" threw up its hands and proclaimed with cool intrigue that Trump’s income and wealth were “hard to pinpoint.”

The "Wall Street Journal" punted, saying tautologically that Trump’s disclosures contain disclosures totaling at least $1.5 billion, but conceding that the actual numbers are not known.

"Forbes" puts his wealth at $4 billion, Bloomberg at $2.9 billion. Trump said recently that he is worth $10 billion and that his wealth has increased by more than $1 billion in the last year due to spiraling real estate prices (this was probably supposed to impress people, but it actually shows a dangerous volatility). The FEC form allows the filing party to value assets and liabilities within a range or at an upper limit, and most of Trump’s assets are vague interests of indeterminate worth and undisclosed indebtedness.

Trump’s illiquid assets and unknown liabilities may or may not offset each other – and he isn’t telling.

What does that leave?

Not much. A relatively small amount of money in a couple of hedge funds, and brokerage portfolios of garden-variety stocks, a couple hundred thousand in gold, and other ho-hum assets consisting almost entirely of his ‘marks.’ He could be worth hundreds of millions, theoretically, but if leveraged, his worth could be negative. Who knows?

This ambiguity plays into Trump’s hands:  he loves a playing field where there is no difference between reality and fantasy, where the majestic paneled board room is really a stage set, where he is Making America Great by manufacturing clothes in Bangladesh, where he insults Mexicans and then sues a Spanish television network for not showing the Miss USA pageant, a paean to female innocence brought to us by a womanizer on his third marriage.

This is Trump-territory:  a nowhere land in which he threatens to sue anyone who disparages the size of an empire that he refuses to disclose.

You will never figure out Trump’s worth by looking at numbers. He’s far too slick for that, he can hide the ball forever.

So let’s put aside the numbers. Instead, let’s look at his FEC submission as a psychological document, a testament, a confession.

Here we are faced with a paradox:  Trump does not speak, act, or behave like a normal billionaire, nor even like a renegade or eccentric billionaire. He behaves like someone who is desperately broke.

I know that sounds odd. Improbable. Counterintuitive. And I don’t – I can’t – I won’t - say for certain whether he is broke. But I think it is a very distinct possibility.

I base this judgment on many years of working closely with very rich people. I’ve had the pleasure – though that is not quite the right word – of spending a lot of time around people who are extremely wealthy, and none of them behaves remotely like Trump.

For one thing, true billionaires hate seeing their name in the papers or being discussed in public. They don’t want people stealing their ideas, they don’t want scrutiny from regulators, they don’t want others to control the narrative about their business dealings, and frankly there is no financial advantage to being well known among ordinary people who don’t have money to invest.

The truly wealthy seek to be known in the right circles and not to the general public. It’s a fair bet that if the richest twenty hedge fund managers walked down the street, no one in the general public would turn their head; conversely, it is a also a fair bet that the twenty guys at the airport talking loudly into their cell phones about how they are returning to the head office after closing a big deal in Baltimore are actually worth next to nothing. Powerful people have secrets, barriers, walls. If Trump really had special ideas or assets, he would crave secrecy, not publicity.

Second, the truly wealthy do not brand themselves. Whatever you may think of how Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or Steven Cohen made their fortunes, they did not get into the bottled water industry to compete with “Trump Ice,” nor do them sponsor beauty pageants or have television shows where they send out contestants to make ice cream cones and then berate them mercilessly for choosing $1.45 as a price point. There is a very revealing type of bullying taking place on Trump’s show "The Apprentice."

He never puts himself up against equals in world of finance, but surrounds himself with childlike sycophants whose fate he controls with an iron hand. By demonstrating so much power against unequal opponents, and by expressing this power in an artificial setting, he actually conveys his own powerlessness in the real world. In attempting to come off as patrician, he devolves into sanctimonious self-aggrandizement while flanked by his robotic and obedient offspring who are displayed like products.

Third, billionaires do not announce how much money they have. It’s déclassé. And they don’t want to boast because it gives the Internal Revenue Service, the SEC, and regulators another bite at the apple. If someone says you are worth $1 billion and you are really worth $10 billion that can be great news! Use it to your advantage.

Finally, real billionaires also choose their deals carefully, weighing risk and return. They don’t start clothing lines or energy drinks because the risks (bad reviews, parodies, lawsuits) outweigh the rewards. What kind of person starts their own "Trump University" and then lets it dissolve a few years later amid lawsuits and investigations by the New York State Attorney General that the students were being defrauded.

What is the economic advantage to a billionaire 10 times over of having a brand of bottled water that brings in $280,000, or a beauty pageant, or a line of cheap clothing, or a modeling agency, when the money can just sit in an account that mirrors the market and makes double digit growth? Some of these eponymous projects can be dismissed as flights of narcissism; but there are so many that something other than narcissism is at work here.

It smells of overreach, desperation, and pettiness.

Fourth, consider how Trump reacts with vituperative indignation when anyone has the temerity to question his supposed wealth. When comedienne Rosie O’Donnell claimed that Trump was a “snake oil salesman” who had been bankrupt, he threatened to sue her for defamation (presumably because the bankruptcy of Trump casino was not a personal bankruptcy for Trump himself).

When MSNBC reporter Lawrence O’Donnell suggested that Trump was worth less than $1 billion, Trump threatened to sue. A decade ago he sued the author of a book about him for claiming that he was only worth a few hundred million instead of the nearly $3 billion that he claimed to be worth at the time. He even threatened to sue his ex-wife Ivana for talking too much about his finances, in violation of her agreement to keep quiet.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Why threaten to sue someone for underestimating your wealth . . . unless . . . unless . . . unless the sole valuable asset that you have is the general belief that you are worth $10 billion? Unless, that is, if you are really much poorer, and you have nothing to fall back on besides your reputation, and your main asset is the impression you convey. In that case, you might consider doing precisely what Trump does.

Here is where I am heading:  Could it be the case that Trump is an empty suit with no meaningful net assets other than his persona, his brand? That like a shark, he has to keep moving and keep projecting the image of great wealth, or else his empire will sink? This is consistent with the FEC disclosure document where so many of his assets are ‘marks’; in other words, he makes money by lending his name.

Trump’s FEC document impresses me as the statement of a person who does not have much of anything other than himself – he is his own product. He is the professional wrestler of the financial world – a person who is famous for being famous, the tragic product of a society that produces images instead of actual things.

Yes, he has built a few golf courses and buildings, but so have others – on a bigger scale; what he has really built is himself, or rather a caricature of himself. My suspicion is that Trump has nothing other than himself. He invented himself. He is his own brand, and that is all he is. Any crack in the mask will cause the whole thing to crumble down.

It is fitting that he gets a pension from the Screen Actors Guild.

He is an actor who plays a man worth $10 billion.

I've reported these exact facts here since the first.

And they weren't in Greek.


The Government Has Already Ordered Banks To Prepare "Contingency Plans"

How Fascist Capitalism Functions:  The Case of Greece

Posted on July 12, 2015

by Chris Martenson

The one undeniable truth about the debt drama in Greece is that each of the conventional narratives — financial, political and historical — has some claim of legitimacy.

For example, spendthrift Greeks shunned fiscal discipline:   here’s an account from 2011 that lays out the gory details:   The Big Fat Greek Gravy Train:  A Special Investigation Into the EU-Funded Culture of Greed, Tax Evasion and Scandalous Waste.

Or how about:  Greek reformers want to fix the core structural problems but are being stymied by tyrannical European Union/Troika leaders:  The Greek Debt Crisis and Crashing Markets.

Rather than get entangled in the arguments over which of the conventional narratives is the core narrative — a hopeless misadventure, given that each narrative has some validity — let’s start with the facts that are supported by data or public records.

The Greek Economy Is Small and Imbalanced

Here are the basics of Greece’s economy, via the CIA’s World Factbook:

Greece’s population is 10.8 million and its GDP (gross domestic product) is about $200 billion (This source states the GDP is 182 billion euros or about $200 billion). Note that the euro fell sharply from $1.40 in 2014 to $1.10 currently, so any Eurozone GDP data stated in dollars has to be downsized accordingly. Many sources state Greek GDP was $240 billion in 2013; adjusted for the 20% decline in the euro, this is about $200 billion at today’s exchange rate.

Los Angeles County, with slightly more than 10 million residents, has a GDP of $554 billion, more than double that of Greece.

The European Union has over 500 million residents. Greece’s population represents 2.2% of the EU populace.

External debt (public and private debt owed to lenders outside Greece):

$568.7 billion (30 September 2013 est.)

National debt:

339 billion euros, $375 billion

Central Government Budget:

revenues: $119.5 billion

expenditures: $127.9 billion (2014 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-3.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

Public debt:

174.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Labor force:

3.91 million (2013 est.)

GDP – per capita (Purchasing Power Parity):

$25,800 (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate:

26.8% (2014 est.)


$35.8 billion (2014 est.)


$62.8 billion (2014 est.)

Imports – partners:

Russia 14.1%, Germany 9.8%, Italy 8.1%, Iraq 7.8%, France 4.7%, Netherlands 4.7%, China 4.6% (2013)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$6.433 billion (February 2015 est.)

By 2013 the economy had contracted 26%, compared with the pre-crisis level of 2007. Tourism provides 18% of GDP.

What can we conclude from this data?
  1. Greece’s central government is roughly half of its GDP (by some measures, it’s 59%), meaning that the national economy is heavily dependent on state revenues and spending.  For context, U.S. government spending is about 20% of U.S. GDP. As a rule of thumb, the private sector must generate the wealth that pays taxes and supports state spending. This leaves a relatively small private sector with the task of generating enough wealth to support state spending, pay interest on the national debt and pay down the principal.
  2. Greece runs a trade deficit, i.e. a current account deficit of almost $30 billion annually.  In the 14 years that Greece has been an EU member, this adds up to roughly $400 billion—a staggering sum for a nation with a GDP of around $200 billion.
  3. Austerity and a reduction in borrowing/spending have devastated the Greek economy, as GDP has shrunk 26% while unemployment has soared to 26%.
  4. While public debt is pegged at 175% of GDP, external debt is roughly 285% of GDP—a much larger sum. By all accounts, a significant portion of the Greek economy is off-the-books (cash); even if this is counted, the debt load on the private sector is extremely high.
  5. Foreign exchange reserves and gold holdings are a tiny percentage of government spending and GDP.
This data reflects an imbalanced, heavily indebted, heavily state-centric economy with major systemic headwinds.

The Problem with Not Having a National Currency

The problem with not having a national currency is that there is no mechanism to rebalance trade (current account) imbalances.

Ideally, a nation’s exports and imports balance, but in the real world, nations generally run trade surpluses or deficits. A trade deficit is a negative balance of trade incurred when a country’s imports exceed its exports. A trade deficit is settled by an outflow of domestic currency to foreign markets.

Countries with trade surpluses end up with cash from their trading partners, while countries with trade deficits must pay the difference between their exports and imports.

Trade must balance: every nation cannot run a trade surplus. The problem for nations with current account deficits is: where do they get the money to settle their negative balance of trade?

Nations with their own currencies can simply create the money out of thin air. This is in essence how the U.S. supports its massive trade deficits: the U.S. imports goods and services and exports U.S. dollars in exchange for the goods and services.

This works as long as the country running trade deficits doesn’t print its currency with abandon.  If a nation prints its currency in excess, the currency loses value, and imports become more costly to residents.  As imports rise in cost (priced in the local currency), people can’t afford as many imports as they once could, and imports decline, reducing the trade deficit.

On the other side of the trade ledger, the exports of the nation that is depreciating its currency becomes cheaper in other currencies. This makes the nation’s exports a relative bargain, and this tends to increase exports as global buyers take advantage of the cheaper goods and services.

In this way, national currencies provide a mechanism for rebalancing trade deficits. By eliminating national currencies, the Eurozone also eliminated the only market mechanism for rebalancing trade imbalances.

With no currency mechanism left, nations borrow money to fund their trade deficit.  This is the engine of Greek debt since that nation adopted the euro in 2001.

If Greece had kept its national currency, trade deficits would have declined as the Greek currency depreciated and the cost of imports soared. Lenders would not have based their loans on the illusory guarantee of Eurozone membership.

For nations running large structural trade deficits, membership in the Eurozone was a guarantee of financial disaster, as the way to fund the deficit within the Eurozone was to borrow more money.

There is no way for Greece to fix its debt problem if it keeps the euro as its currency.  Every purported solution that doesn’t address the core cause of the debt is mere theater.

The Subprime Template

In the subprime mortgage bubble of the mid-2000s, people with modest incomes were able to buy costly McMansions under false pretenses by exaggerating their income (via “stated income” or liar loans). The mortgage originators issued the mortgage under equally false pretenses — that there was proper risk assessment/due diligence and a fair appraisal value for the property.

These false pretenses enabled unqualified buyers to borrow enormous sums — for example, someone with an actual annual income of $25,000 borrowed $500,000 with no down payment and very low initial rate of interest. While the borrower bought into the dream of get-rich-quick “house flipping,” the real money was made by the originator and the lender.

It is widely accepted that Greece was admitted to the Eurozone under false pretenses — national debts were masked or understated, reportedly with the assistance of Goldman Sachs.

That a few at the top of the political/financial heap gained from Greece’s entry into the Eurozone is demonstrated by the “Lagarde List” of 2,000 individuals who transferred 50 billion euros out of Greece to Swiss banks in 2010, when the debt crisis was first making headlines. These are clearly not middle-class households getting their assets out of risky Greek banks; these are oligarchs and the top .1%. (Source)

Since these transfers do not include money that fled Greece into the shadow banking system or hard assets, we can estimate the total sum taken out of Greece by the top 2,000 is more on the order of 100 billion euros — roughly half the nation’s GDP.

In the U.S. economy, this would translate to 60,000 households taking $8.5 trillion out of the U.S.

It is also widely accepted that at best 10% of the bailout funds trickled down to the Greek people—the vast majority bailed out private banks and other lenders. (Source)

These charts demonstrate how private loans to Greece have been transferred wholesale to the public ledger, i.e. taxpayers: (Click on chart to view.)

This is roughly the same template the too big to fail banks followed in the subprime mortgage crisis:  after skimming vast profits from originating the loans, the banks faced insolvency as the phantom collateral of subprime mortgages evaporated.

To rescue the financial markets, the federal government bailed out the banks.

Faced with the prospect of a Greek default bringing down their overleveraged banking sector (i.e. the European equivalent of a “Lehman Moment”), the EU leadership opted to bail out their own too big to fail banks on the backs of their taxpayers.

Two Conclusions

There are two conclusions to be drawn from all this, and they have nothing to do with who is demonizing whom or the political theater currently being staged:

  1. Greece can never escape the cycle of increasing debt until it exits the euro and returns to a national currency.
  2. The debt is so outsized compared to Greece’s private sector that it must be written off. What cannot be paid will not be paid.
These facts matter not only because contagion from Greek debt defaults may ripple in dangerous ways through the financial system, but because they are also true for many other members of the Eurozone. As I predicted in my first article for Peak Prosperity four years ago, the Euro is a fatally-flawed monetary concept and what we now seeing playing out was eminently predictable from the start.

In Part 2: More Sovereign Defaults Are Coming – Prepare Ahead Of The Turmoil, we look at structural causes of the global debt crisis that are not limited to Greece. Many other countries are teetering on the same brink Greece is now falling off of. When they fail, the ripple effect their debt defaults will debilitate their creditor nations, causing a massive shrinking of the world economy.

The key takeaway is this:  even if the countries we live in can’t live sensibly and within their means, we as individuals have the power to do so. But we need to seize that power now, before the next crisis arrives, for it to matter.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

I've long wondered about Bryan Burrough's bona fides, but this review of his fake book, Days of Rage, just about solidifies my desultory thoughts entertained as I've watched him dance his fairy knowledgeable dance on CSPAN's  book-touting shows, not to mention all the free NPR exposure he's been treated to. The things he's said with a straight face have made me think he's perfectly cast for comedy.

And it's not funny.

Although it is kind of nice when you can out a plant with so little effort.

There are so many running amuck on the mainstream media today.

(Read the next essay for the very latest dope on soon-to-be President Trump!)

But these groups and the young people in them, seen through Burrough's "America's Most Wanted" lens, are not activists seeking to rebuild a racist, bellicose country from the ground up. They are naïve bad guys and narcissistic thugs. In his eyes, their goal was not revolution so much as it was "killing cops." Burrough provides hackneyed depictions of one-dimensional human beings with the kind of deluded stereotypes that everyday lead police to stop and frisk, lock up or kill Black people across the United States. To render them as history provides a dangerous justification to such violence.

A special correspondent at "Vanity Fair" and the author of several previous books on both finance and the FBI, Burrough aims to tell the story of these organizations and that of the FBI agents and police officers who chased them down. His lack of any stated ideological axe to grind, together with the support of a major publisher, might explain the book's generally favorable mention in mainstream media, including some liberal outlets, by credulous journalists who, like everybody else, enjoy a good story. Burrough has been interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air" and received mostly positive reviews in publications like "The Washington Post," "The New Yorker" and even "The Nation."

These reviewers seem either unaware or unconcerned that the book contains serious errors of both fact and interpretation. The book consistently relies on a series of outmoded, cartoonish and just plain inaccurate approaches to history. Burrough, for instance, claims that underground movements did not care about the war in Vietnam or the counterculture, despite ample evidence, presented in the book itself, to the contrary. Indeed, these groups operated at the intersection of Black radicalism, antiwar sentiment and countercultural communities.
He says that the Black Panther Party was declining by 1968, when by all accounts (see, for instance, Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin's Black Against Empire) the organization was at its height, with new chapters forming worldwide. He reduces the 1970s to a caricature of a time when people cared about disco, not politics. Such mischaracterizations, which appear throughout the book, fly in the face of two decades of historical scholarship on the period.
More to the point, it means that a book striving for a comprehensive portrait of underground movements fails at a most basic level to capture why such organizations did what they did - meaning both going underground and engaging in armed struggle - when they did it and to what effect. The book is woefully undersourced and surprisingly naïve about its historical context. While this absence of serious analysis seems more naïve than malicious, it forecloses any possibility that this book might help us better understand the history of the underground or the larger time period.
Burrough rests his expertise on the interviews he conducted with participants, but there are serious flaws here. Already, former Weather Underground member Cathy Wilkerson has disputed Burrough's depiction of her as the group's "West coast bombmaker." Numerous other such errors, some big and others small, comprise the book throughout and remove any pretense that Days of Rage might expand our historical thinking.
Like so many true-crime books, Days of Rage is overflowing with stock characters. Most troubling are the banal ways in which the book justifies police harassment and killings through disturbing portraits of Black criminality and women's emotional imbalance. Behind its self-presentation as objective history lies a book rife with errors and naiveté, led by white saviors, destroyed by Black villains and saved by diligent cops. In an era of renewed nativism and explicit white supremacy, Days of Rage hardly rates. Yet its distortions of history may prove more damning precisely because it will be taken more seriously than the far-right extremists whose logic it shares.
Throughout this massive tome, Burrough describes white leftists as smarter, more humane and just plain more interesting than their Black or Puerto Rican counterpoints. He opens the book with a chapter on Sam Melville and Jane Alpert, a pair of bumbling bombers in the late 1960s who Burrough claims started it all (despite the fact that bombings had been happening for years at that point), and follows that through with a rigid focus on the Weather Underground.
Indeed, the Weather Underground becomes the litmus test against which he measures all other groups:  Did they bomb more or fewer targets than the Weather Underground? Were they structured similarly or differently than the Weather Underground? Did they think similarly or differently than the Weather Underground?
Meanwhile - and contrary to the stunning scholarship by Sherie Randolph, Barbara Ransby and Jeanne Theoharis, among many others - Burrough describes Black Power as the province of a small group of charismatic men, each one neatly passing the torch to the next after being felled by death, incarceration or, since he doesn't know why they were so important, irrelevance. Black Power becomes a series of charismatic men enjoying 15 minutes of fame, and spreading a politics of unbridled "anger." Even more maddening, he casts the relevance of Black organizing only to the extent it interested, conned or was itself conjured by white leftists.

Take his discussion of the 1970s prison movement. Burrough calls prison activist and bestselling author George Jackson "a thug with a fountain pen." It is not only an offensive claim but one whose factual inaccuracy testifies to Burrough's limited historical understanding:  Like all California prisoners at the time, Jackson was given only a short golf pencil with which to write. The "thug" invective is transparently offensive, but the "fountain pen" reference is equally revealing of the ways Burrough imagines Black radicals to be luxurious con artists.

His listing of the book's cast of characters includes only one Black woman, Assata Shakur. Meanwhile, it lists Twymon Meyers as "probably [the] most violent revolutionary of the underground era" and Sekou Odinga as the "most important black militant of the underground era," whatever that means. The white radicals listed are exempted from such hierarchical rankings.
That is not to say that the book is only about men. But white men are the only semi-rational actors in Days of Rage. For a history that involved so many women participants, it is rather remarkable that Burrough so routinely describes them as props. Former Weather Underground member Cathy Wilkerson "is a sixty-eight-year-old grandmother now, freckled and still very attractive."
He describes Fay Stender, by all accounts a dedicated attorney and tireless advocate on behalf of incarcerated people who committed suicide in 1980 after being shot six times, as a "plain woman with a smoldering sexuality." Stender was shot by an erstwhile militant, but Burrough sacrifices a genuine opportunity to inveigh against left-wing violence for a cheap catcall.

His puerile objectification of former Weather Underground leader Bernardine Dohrn, who went on to a distinguished legal career at Northwestern University, constitutes a narrative thread in itself. He goes out of his way to describe her sexual appeal and (imagined) activities, at one point suggesting that she was "too beautiful to take seriously." He quotes FBI agents bragging about having stolen a pair of underwear from Dohrn's sister Jennifer during an illegal break-in of her apartment but does not discuss that the Bureau also considered kidnapping Dohrn's infant son, too.
Meanwhile, the women in the United Freedom Front spend most of the book fretting and worrying; they have no politics, no ideas of their own. In the dramatis personae list at the front of the book, they are described only as wives and mothers, whereas their husbands are "charismatic leader," "radical" or "recruit." A secretary on "Mad Men" has more depth of character.

Burrough had fantastic, even startling, access to former members of the underground. He interviewed several participants, seemingly at length, including a number of people who had not shared their stories publicly before. Yet it is the police, especially the FBI, who provide the book's interpretive frame. It is not only that he relies on FBI agents to fill in the blanks or settle any disputes in the historical record. Burrough is interested in their morale. As with any garden-variety cop show, Days of Rage sees police efforts to capture radicals quelled by government bureaucracy and political correctness, what Burrough absurdly calls "newfound sensitivities about race."

The "sensitivities" in question are the revelation of the FBI's counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO), a paramilitary underground set up by J. Edgar Hoover in 1956 to destroy the American left, focusing especially on Black as well as Puerto Rican and indigenous communities. COINTELPRO included mass surveillance, identity theft, illegal break-ins, physical attacks, specious arrests, and direct and indirect assassinations.
For a book so interested in the previously undisclosed details of who did which illegal action, Days of Rage fails to give us some much-needed inside scoops:   Which agents wrote the letters encouraging Martin Luther King Jr. to commit suicide? Which agent determined and procured the drug combination used to subdue 21-year-old Black Panther Fred Hampton so that Chicago police could kill him in his sleep?
Who drew the cartoons mocking rival Black organizations in order to provoke such rancor that ultimately led to two members of the Black Panther Party being shot and killed on the UCLA campus in January 1969? And how do such dirty tricks show up in contemporary campaigns against anarchists, radical environmentalists, Muslims and others? There is so much about this underground - which has had a far more decisive role in shaping the contemporary United States than the six underground organizations spotlighted here - that Burrough fails to uncover or much mention.

It is easy to criticize from the safety of historical distance. Yet this history is an active part of our present. Burrough notes that, for all the bombings, the revolutionary underground killed few people. The same cannot be said for the protagonists of Days of Rage:  the police.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that police have killed at least 38,000 and perhaps as many as 52,000 Americans since 1973. "The Counted," a new database maintained by the "Guardian" newspaper, reports that police have killed 572 people in the fist six months of 2015 alone. Put another way, US police kill more people in a week than six underground groups did in more than 20 years. Days of Rage profoundly misses both the source and substance of violence.
Burrough says the underground was motivated by the "plight of black Americans," yet it is a plight he fails to engage with or understand. The few Black Americans he discusses are described as "bloodthirsty cop killers," "thugs" and irrationally "angry." This is the same double-talk used by commentators who today bloviate about "Black-on-Black crime" and "inner-city thugs" when confronted with examples of police violence.
Collectively, they refuse to see the many ways in which police violence structures and eliminates life in the United States. But it does. They refuse to see the many ways people stage creative, life-affirming forms of resistance to state murder. But they do.

(Dan Berger is an assistant professor of comparative ethnic studies at the University of Washington Bothell. He is the author of several books and articles on American revolutionary movements, most recently Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era, which won the 2015 James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians. Follow him on Twitter @authordanberger or

From Barking Rabbits
Saturday, August 22, 2015

Many of Donald Trump's Supporters Are Very Proud Racists.

Via Crooks and Liars.

“Hopefully, he’s going to sit there and say, ‘When I become elected president, what we’re going to do is we’re going to make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill,’ ” said Jim Sherota, 53, who works for a landscaping company. “That’d be one nice thing.”

Wow ..... It's just really, really glaring when I see the Republican Party constantly stating they are not racists, and then their supporters go off and say something like that.  It would be "nice" if someone were to give you $50 if you murdered someone you thought MIGHT be coming into the country illegally? Getting paid for murder?  Yeah, I know a lot of what I read is just someone spouting off, but I am pretty sure that many people who say crap like this actually mean it.  I saw one of those meme posts on Facebook the other day asking if it should be legal to shoot looters.  Yeah, by all means, have regular everyday citizens that have no training or legal law enforcement activity start shooting people with the intention to kill.  It will save time and money from all the constitutionally mandated stuff like legal representation and being judged by your peers in a court of law.  Murder sounds just dandy!!!

About 1/3 of the people in this country are just stark raving lunatics who have lost all grip on reality
.  And that is really scary, because if society does start to break down due to global climate change, lack of food and water, and no real operable government at the local level, then I have absolutely no doubt that many of these nuts would start doing exactly what they are wishing for right now.

This is getting really scary.  I have no idea what might be able to put this particular genii back in the bottle once the bottle has been uncorked. People are really losing their grip.

Posted by

And their so-called "leaders" aren't helping.

August 22, 2015

David Roberts brings us 4 minutes of Carly Fiorina lying to Katie Couric on the climate change issue. David does an admirable job of identifying and rebutting her 8 lies in just 4 minutes including this:
"The answer to this problem is innovation, not regulation". This is another recent Republican favorite — Jeb Bush has been testing it out as well. In practice, it typically means tax breaks for favored industries like natural gas and "clean coal." (If any Republican has a broader plan to spur clean-energy innovation, I haven't seen it.) Innovation is a big and arguably undervalued piece of the climate policy puzzle, but there is no credible analyst on the planet who thinks that it will be possible to reduce emissions enough, or fast enough, purely through subsidizing R&D. On its own, it simply isn't a credible answer. In reality, of course, it's not an either-or.
I would argue as long as fossil fuels do not pay their full social costs, the incentive to innovate is just not there. If we did internalize these costs through regulations, carbon taxes, or cap-and-trade, the incentive to adopt green technologies increases. Joshua Miller recently argued:

The article explains how U.S. climate change policy has begun to grasp this opportunity by supporting clean technology R&D using measures such as grants, subsidies, and low interest loans. Pricing carbon will complement these government policies and further drive green technology development. A price on carbon would also have a range of implications for clean technology innovation and international trade. For instance, a carbon price will lead to growing U.S. demand for green technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, which will incentivize greater levels of global R&D into such technologies. But to maximize the benefits to the United States and globally from the impact of a carbon price on R&D will require a complementary trade policy that lowers barriers to trade in climate change goods and services. At the same time, a carbon price will raise domestic concerns in the United States about carbon leakage and a loss of international competitiveness that is likely to lead to domestic pressure on the government to raise trade barriers on goods from countries not pricing carbon. Effectively managing the global impact from a U.S. carbon price on international trade will determine whether pricing carbon supports trade liberalization and drives greater levels of innovation and R&D or whether it becomes a reason for raising barriers to trade that reduce U.S. and global welfare.
Greg Mankiw favors carbon taxes but adds this bit of politics:

Skeptics of Pigovian taxes on the right sometimes argue that such taxes are good in principle but in practice the left will co-opt them and, rather than using the revenue to reduce other taxes, will use it to fund ever larger government.
He had to concede a rebuke from John Whitehead:

The standard textbook treatment of a Pigouvian tax is agnostic on what happens to the revenue. It could be used efficiently to finance other projects (if the benefits of these other projects exceed the costs), reduce distortionary taxes or reduce government debt (and avoid the macroeconomic problem of crowding out). Mankiw's last paragraph strays far from the economics and is one-sided in its condemnation of those on the political left ... know of no empirical evidence to suggest that there is only one efficient use for Pigouvian tax revenue.
John also threw in his version which included the snark:

And those on the right will need to convince those on the left that the tax is not a trojan horse for a tax cut for the rich.
After Mankiw’s update, John added more:

I'm no expert in practical politics. Indeed, I have no idea how I would advise a politician how to answer this Republican debate question: “I want to know if any of [the candidates] have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first?” When a word from God is an important issue isn't it a little bit ridiculous to wonder what God would advise on Pigouvian tax revenue?
I have no expertise on how God would address the distributional issues but we now know how Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorna would – more income for the very rich! 

Want some real news?

Hard to know, isn't it?

And if it's about the overavailability of guns . . . . Dream on.

August 22, 2015

Murder-Suicide at the Manhattan Federal Building

The Daily Beast

The shooting was at a federal building in downtown Manhattan that houses the immigration court and processing center.

Anybody who has been listening to Donald Trump rant about a supposed illegal alien crime wave might have imagined that the gunman who inexplicably drew one of two .38 caliber revolvers he was carrying in a plastic bag and fatally wounded a security guard on Friday was a homicidal foreigner.

But after the gunman had stepped beyond the dying guard and passed through the metal detector and fatally shot himself, a search of his wallet showed that he was 68-year-old retired U.S. Army Reserves officer and onetime government employee named Kevin Downing from a place no more distant than just across the Hudson River in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He had briefly worked as an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor, which has offices in the building. He had been let go before he completed the one year trial period and he had unsuccessfully sued to be reinstated, charging he had been fired for being a whistleblower who reported “a gross waste of funds.” The hearing board found he had “not revealed anything not widely known” and had “failed to make a non-frivolous allegation.”

Detectives noted that Downing had opened fire without exchanging so much as a word with the ill-fated guard. The guard, 53-year-old Idrissa Camara, had been due to go off duty at 4 pm, but he had agreed to work an extended shift when he could have gone home to his wife and children. He was a native of the Ivory Coast, which means in this case the immigrant was the victim. He had died simply because he had the terrible luck to be there at 5:05 PM when Downing appeared with his two handguns.
Posted by Mike B

(This must be a joke or an incredibly subtle, profound rendering of current history's puzzles.)

“Homegrown Terrorists:”  New US Draconian Laws Usher in the New World Order

By Joachim Hagopian
Global Research, August 15, 2015

. . . essential features present in tyranny and dictatorship are that “the abuse of the state’s coercive force operates in the absence of rule of law” but instead by “rule of the tyrant’s arbitrary treatment of citizens if not by outright systematic use of terror.” The latter application using terror against the populace more accurately describes the evolution of US dictatorship from one criminal regime (Bush-Cheney’s) to Obama’s criminal regime. On marching orders from the globalists, through both (presidents) the neocons remain in charge.
Clearly mounting evidence blatantly exists in recent years that demonstrate a totalitarian police state power in America. The systematic militarization of police state USA has used terror to recklessly and maliciously abuse its own citizenry, particularly those of color in cities across this nation. 

The soaring rate of militarized police deploying lethal force to willfully murder unarmed Americans, calculatingly cause growing racial tensions and civil unrest with near complete impunity reflects the growing contempt that agents of US government increasingly harbor against the very citizens they took oaths swearing to protect and serve. This police state phenomenon has unfolded in parallel process with elected government leaders who treasonously plot and destroy America despite taking oaths to both uphold and protect the Constitution and the nation from both foreign and domestic enemies.

While cold-blooded murder of US citizens is skyrocketing now (over 70 times of other Western nations), federal agencies across the boards not even remotely related to either law enforcement or the military have been buying up billions of rounds of bullets that upon impact tear the human body apart

What does that say about a government that has its postal service, Social Security Administration and Department of Game and Wildlife arming themselves to the hilt with brutally lethal weapons? The answer is pathetically obvious. The federal government has embarked on waging an all-out war against its own hapless, law abiding citizens.

Clearly First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and public protest in this country are also no longer upheld or recognized as rule of law. In recent years the Occupy Movement and Democratic National Convention protests have been marred by excessive police brutality, bloody street violence and unlawful arrest. In the war against American protesters, police attacking them with the chemical weapon of tear gas that in any other war is criminally outlawed by international law, is used in the US to systematically silence the people’s voice from ever being heard in the wake of totalitarian oligarchy.

Criminalizing dissent is redefining homegrown terrorism to include anyone willing to exercise their basic civil liberties guaranteed US citizens under this nation’s Constitution that for over two centuries was recognized as the ultimate rule of law in America. But now any Americans daring to even criticize and object to the federal government’s growing tyranny is conveniently labeled a belligerent and enemy of the state subject to assassination or indefinite imprisonment led by a dictator president who matter-of-factly proclaims his despotic right to kill fellow Americans on US soil.

Early on in this twenty-first century we’ve observed the neocons’ “Pearl Harbor-like event” in their 9/11 inside job needed to justify their forever war on terror, making a war of terror on the entire world by committing human genocide in the false name of “global sustainability” and “CO2 climate change” with the puppet masters’ UN Agenda 21. Starting with their imperialistic war on Islam in the Middle East and Central Asia based on lies of mass deception, the real terrorists are the Empire killing machine that spawned fake monster mercenary thugs whose CIA staged savagery is showcased weekly on Youtube’s video parade.

After more than a dozen years of raging bloody counterinsurgency wars against darker-skinned people abroad, the US Empire has come home to treasonously roost, now in its first phase of war attacking American people. But with globalization a dominant theme in this age of global tyranny, corrupt governments throughout the Western world are each passing a plethora of subversive, draconian laws designed to unleash a thunderous wave of oppressive false imprisonment and citizen murder on a worldwide scale. To the globalists and their long time eugenics plan to depopulate the earth, 6.5 billion of us “useless eaters” must be assassinated. Enter the hard and fast kill method of World War III created by the neocon propaganda of cold war II, complete with first strike nuclear intervention. Never before in recorded human history has this world been so armed and dangerous, and precariously on the brink of self-annihilation.

As this New World Order noose tightens around our necks, more extreme draconian measures are being propagated by governments on a near weekly basis. Here are a few of the latest obscenities being cranked out by both the US federal government as well as by selected state governments, all designed to place the final nail in the coffin of America as a once great, independent, sovereign democratic republic.

As if the TPP as NWO’s secret blueprint and the NSA’s invasive warrantless massive data collection dossier on every American isn’t enough, introduced in June and passed two weeks later is the House of Representatives’ H.R. 2596 that morphed on July 7thinto the Senate as S.1705, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 allocating funding to the likes of the CIA, NSA and FBI to force all internet servers and search engines to report any suspicious “terrorist” activity they may encounter

The language is worded in ambiguously confusing terminology in order to – out of fear and intimidation – purposely manipulate the likes of Google and Microsoft to over-report as extensions of Big Government. In the unsettling words of activist-writer Stephen Lendman, if this law passes in the Senate, its:

… Vague language makes independent journalists, political, anti-war, and social justice activists, academics and students doing legitimate research, as well as others vulnerable to being called suspected terrorists.

The game is to find any arbitrary excuse to criminalize and institutionalize virtually every American citizen as a potential homegrown terrorist, certifiably mentally ill or otherwise “undesirable” needing to be locked up. psychiatric diagnostic system driven by Big Pharma.

The latest DSM has reached the absurdity of labeling anyone concerned about ingesting only healthy food with a mental disorder. Obama has executive orders authorizing those who are homeless, those who have respiratory illness or those who are diagnosed with mental illness to be summarily rounded up against their will and consent and involuntarily placed in FEMA camp settings.

If people are so easily expendable as designated “useless eaters,” deemed of little to no value to society by the elite, then virtually any and all of us in America are susceptible to what apparently awaits us sooner than later – incarceration and/or death. This list of expendables can easily include those with handicapped disabilities, the elderly, the infirm, the chronically unemployed, the indebted, those with criminal records, the welfare poor, the morbidly obese, the list can go on indefinitely until the only population left alive are either the globalists themselves or their subservient lackeys. At any rate, according to the likes of Bill and Ted’s bogus eugenics misadventures, the elite’s objective is to radically cull the human herd down from 7.3 billion to a mere half billion. That’s more than 13 out of 14 of us right now on this earth who are presently in the NWO firing squad crosshairs.

Another draconian template recently came to light when in late July Congress passed a law after a 15 minute “debate” to revoke US passports of Americans suspected of affiliating or sympathizing with “foreign terrorist organizations.” This passage gives the US Secretary of State power to now take away passports of Americans’ traveling abroad without any explanation, presumption of innocence or due process. The bill passed in the House without even a count but by mere voice approval, ostensibly to hone in on young Americans flying off to foreign lands to join and fight with ISIS. So If John Kerry concludes that your being in a foreign country threatens or compromises national security in any way, real or imagined, you and your passport become null and void, no questions asked. The room for tyrannical abuse here is once again limitless.

Because in recent years hundreds of thousands of US citizens have seen this Orwellian nightmare coming true in America, they’ve been leaving the US in record number droves, many renouncing their citizenship (3000 in 2013). Recognizing so many are escaping the feds’ totalitarian control, the government is now cracking down on “disloyal” expatriates, mandating foreign banks to fully disclose all US citizens’ assets living abroad, and aggressive IRS land grabbing to seize their foreign properties and assets for unpaid back taxes. This latest ploy is any Americans living abroad who owe the IRS $50,000 or more in taxes are having their passports pulled and these Americans are being sent home.

No comments: