Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gallup Chair Says Employment Number Hinky  (How Citizens Can Stop American Empire Building)  Adelson Election Bullying Pulpit  (Ari Ben-Menashe States U.S. NeoCons/Israelis/Saudis Are U.S. Enemies; Russia/Iran Are U.S. Allies)  Seeing Through the Fog Surrounding the Mysterious Links Between the U.S., Israel, Turkey, and the World’s Most Fanatical Terrorist Organization:  ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State or Da'esh  (There's No Upside Left/Only Downside)

Bernie Sanders Calls Fed Rate Hike Bad News for Working Families

"It was an accident!"
"An accident?
Were you on PCP?"
- Cameron Diaz to Leslie Mann in "The Other Woman"

They decided to raise the interest rate.

Because employment is up. The economy is on the upswing!

And there's no new war spending occurring now as we're getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan and all those other bombing disaster theaters.

Or other huge spending increases (see latest budget deal).


Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, an iconic U.S. company dating back to 1935, told CNBC that he was worried he might “suddenly disappear” and not make it home that evening if he disputed the accuracy of what the U.S. government is reporting as unemployed Americans.
The CNBC interview came one day after Clifton had penned a gutsy opinion piece on Gallup’s web site, defiantly calling the government’s 5.6 percent unemployment figure “The Big Lie” in the article’s headline. His appearance on CNBC was apparently to walk back the “lie” part of the title and reframe the jobs data as just hopelessly deceptive.
Clifton stated the following on CNBC:
“I think that the number that comes out of BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the Department of Labor is very, very accurate. I need to make that very, very clear so that I don’t suddenly disappear. I need to make it home tonight.”
After getting that out of the way, Clifton went on to eviscerate the legitimacy of the cheerful spin given to the unemployment data, telling CNBC viewers that the percent of full time jobs in this country as a percent of the adult population “is the worst it’s been in 30 years.”
Clifton drilled down further in his on line opinion piece, writing as follows:
“Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is ‘down’ to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.
“None of them will tell you this:   If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job — if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right.

While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news — currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast ‘falling’ unemployment.
“There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager:  If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
“Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press:  those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.” (Read the full article here.)
Another bold truth teller when it comes to the jobs data is Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. For years Roberts has written about the lack of attention to the measurement known as U6 – which covers the unemployed, underemployed and those who are not looking but want a job. That figure stood at 11.2 percent in December of last year, exactly double the official unemployment rate known at U3.
The fact that hourly earnings are not improving with the improvement in the official unemployment rate and that the labor force participation rate of working age men (ages 25 to 54) now stands at the lowest level since the BLS started keeping records more than 60 years ago adds further fodder to “The Big Lie” theory.

And the U.S. is getting out of all of those other screwed-up-beyond-all-belief hot spots (Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia and PAKISTAN!) right away.


Errrrr . . .

Actually, U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former National Security Adviser to the Reagan Administration, tells us in the video below that the U.S. will never leave Afghanistan for the next half century at least.

And very few other countries containing current U.S. military operations.

Speaking volumes about the operation and price of empire.

"Okay, okay.
I'll take one for the team."
- Cameron Diaz to Leslie Mann and Kate Upton in "The Other Woman"

Bush Military Official:  US Citizens Must Stand Up to Stop the Empire

Published on Dec 13, 2015
Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations. Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy.
Hear a rare insider's view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.

A few of the points made by Wilkerson:
US’s foreign bases are “colonial, imperial” stations over the globe.
‘The empire… is run by about one percent of the people, if not fewer, in this country, constituting essentially a plutocracy.’
Military officers retire from the military, go to arms manufacturers and media jobs to make the media ‘want war’.
US is ‘oriented towards first what increases its power, and second what makes it rich.’
US military ‘isn’t an all volunteer force. It’s an all-recruited force, because we’re spending billions of dollars to entice these people, who feel that they don’t have many other prospects, into the armed forces.’
What made Wilkerson speak out?  Bush and Cheney both personally encouraged heinous acts like torture and other violations of the Geneva Conventions.
‘Empire never has enough. That’s the nature of imperial power. It never has enough. It never has a stable status quo. It has an increasingly unstable status quo.’
To stop the empire, ‘a powerful minority, or a majority’ of US citizens must ‘stand up … and say, I’ve had enough.  Does that mean revolution? It might.  It might indeed.’

And how can we ordinary citizens help to end that civilization-eviscerating American Empire?

Enforcing tough campaign finance laws would be a good beginning.

"Look for blind off-shore filings."

"If I were looking to lose money, that's where I'd lose it."

- Don Johnson to Cameron Diaz in "The Other Woman"

Though Rove Is Washed Up, Campaign Finance Will Do Far More Harm To Your Family Than ISIS Will

December 15, 2015
Do they look kind of normal? They're not. It's Robert Mercer and a Texas senator he purchased

The whole country watched Karl Rove make a fool of himself on election night, 2012, as he insisted that, despite massive Democratic turnout for Obama in the Ohio's most populous counties - Cuyahoga (69%), Franklin (60%), Summit (57%), Lucas (64%) and Hamilton (52%) - and a 2,697,260 (50.1%)- 2,593,779 (48.2%) statewide edge, Romney had won Ohio's 18 electoral votes. Many people wondered if he had lost his mind. But it was desperation we were watching. Rove had nearly as much riding on that election as Romney and Ryan did. His entire business was on the line.

In 2012, Rove's various Crossroads PACs and SuperPACs, spent $170 million attacking Obama and trying to bolster Romney. Fascist-front organizations like Harold Simmons' Contrain Corp ($23,500,000), various Adelson entities ($23,000,000), Bob Perry's Perry Homes ($8,500,000) and Robert Rowling's Gold's Gym and Omni Hotels ($6,000,000), to name a few, contributed enormous amounts of money to Rove's operations - which raked millions of dollars off the top in commissions of various sorts - after being assured by Rove that Romney could beat Obama, despite the all reputable polling, if they would just continue writing massive checks to Rove for his negative campaign ads. Some of these right-wing billionaires are still smarting. One idiot even tried suing Rove (and Fox News!).

Over the weekend, Gabriel Sherman, writing for "New York Magazine" explored, among other things, why Rove can't raise the kind of money this cycle that he's raised before and why so many right-wing billionaires are more reticent about spending big money so far when they hear Rove's siren song.

Right-winger Kenneth Langone, for example, isn't a genius; far from it. He's a ruthless dullard who had a good idea and a lot of luck - Home Depot. He wasted half a million dollars of Romney last cycle. "I had every expectation we would be the victors," he whined to Sherman, and he had that expectation because he was taken in by Rove's sweet talk and "top secret" baloney memos. When Romney didn't even come close - remember, Rove promised a "mandate" - gullible billionaires like Langone started to realize they had been duped. "It felt like a mugging," wrote Sherman.

Dan Loeb is another naive billionaire - a vulture capitalist/hedge fund predator - who has wasted millions of dollars on crackpot right-wing PACs and campaigns (including not just to the corrupt conservative NRSC and NRCC but also to the corrupt conservative DSCC and DCCC). Last cycle he gave Rove well over $100,000.

So how desperate are the owners to ensure that this cycle's election stays bought?

It's almost ridiculous to say that maybe they'll start acquiring the media personally.

As if they haven't already.

However . . .

"Yeah, I did say that.
But nothing I ever told you was true."
- Mark (the ultimate mark - husband) to Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton in "The Other Woman"

Shel Adelson, casino-owning multimillionaire, who buys elections, has just bought the largest newspaper in Nevada, and is promoting Marco Rubio.

“One of the first thoughts I had was:  Nevada is an early primary state. The "Review-Journal" is the largest newspaper in the state. Was it sold to a player in that event, or people who want to be players?,” asked media critic and New York University professor Jay Rosen.
The timing of this story couldn’t be more fortuitous as the GOP presidential candidates gather for a national debate at Adelson’s flagship Las Vegas hotel, the Sands.  One competitor stands out from all the rest in his relationship with Adelson, Marco Rubio.  Of one thing you can be sure:  Sheldon Adelson wants Rubio to be president so bad he can taste it.  And if buying a newspaper is a down-payment to achieve that goal, it’s small change as far as he’s concerned.
Adelson is especially sensitive to how he’s portrayed in the press. In fact, he’s sued or threatened to sue a number of Israeli TV stations which aired profiles he viewed as defamatory. One such incident resulted in an on-air apology to Adelson followed by the resignation of the news chief, mortified by his company’s capitulation to Adelson’s bullying. Having total control of the state’s leading newspaper would mean news perfectly tailored to Adelson’s taste.

Bill Engdahl enlightens us as to why we can't figure out the War Against ISIS/L/Da'esh from the mainstream media coverage (because they're on our side - yeah, it's tricky - but don't let your attention wander):

That Netanyahu’s Likud and the Israeli military work closely with Washington’s neo-conservative war-hawks is well-established, as is the vehement opposition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Israel regards the Iranian-backed Shi’a Islamist militant group, Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, as an arch foe. Hezbollah has been actively fighting alongside the Syrian Army against ISIS in Syria. General Allen’s strategy of “bombings of ISIS” since he was placed in charge of the operation in September 2014, as Russia’s Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have repeatedly pointed out, far from destroying ISIS in Syria, had vastly expanded their territorial control of the country.

Now it becomes clear that that was precisely the intent of Allen and the Washington war faction.
Since at least 2013, Israeli military have also openly bombed what they claim were Hezbollah targets inside Syria. Investigation revealed that in fact Israel was hitting Syrian military and Hezbollah targets who are valiantly fighting against ISIS and other terrorists.

Watching the Hawks

Deadlocked in Baltimore & America’s Friendly Enemies in the Middle East w/ Ari Ben-Menashe (E147)

16 Dec, 2015
© Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
On this episode of “Watching the Hawks,” Tyrel Ventura and Sean Stone are joined by RT Correspondent Manuel Rapalo to discuss the latest in the Freddie Gray murder case in Baltimore. The team discusses the mystery behind a second JFK assassination tape, what it could reveal and whether it will ever be released to the public.

Saudi Arabia has decided to form a 34 nation anti-terrorism coalition. We react to whether or not this is a meaningful move for the region and the United States.

Ari Ben-Menashe, former member of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate and author of the book Profits of War, joins Sean to discuss the reality of American interests in the Middle East.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Speaking of Frankenstein's monster?

Take it away, Max!

There’s No Upside Left

December 16, 2015

Charles Hugh Smith

There’s no upside left – not just in the real economy, but in jobs, politics or policy tweaks. Yes, there will be huge relief rallies in the stock market – relief that the Fed is still omnipotent, that the Fed didn’t destroy the world by withdrawing liquidity, etc., etc., etc. – but in terms of sales and profits, there’s no upside left:  an increasingly nervous upper middle class is reining in profligate spending, while everyone below the top 10% is running out of credit cards, student loans, etc. to tap.

Whatever surplus the real economy generated has been skimmed by financiers, lenders and the central state.

Stock buybacks have boosted the wealth of corporate managers and institutional owners while creating zero jobs; lenders have feasted on high-interest credit cards, federally backed student loans and subprime auto loans that are immediately spun off to credulous suckers (Widows and Orphans Fund of Norway, et al.) as high-yield securitized debt.

Anyone working for Corporate America or government has little upside but plenty of downside:  bonuses are being slashed, divisions closed, sold off or privatized in the case of government, all to cut costs.

State and local pension funds, bloated by seven years of speculative frenzy, are about to start bleeding from every orifice as reality and risk intrude on the central banks’ fantasy of never-ending asset bubbles.

Whatever pension and bennies you were promised – start practicing your fractions, because only a fraction of the bloated promises made by politicos desperate to get re-elected can be paid in the real world.

Doing a great job will either get you fired or overworked:  no upside there. If you have the courage (or foolish devotion to truth) to be honest, then you’ll be fired as a disruptive “non-team-player” who stepped on too many toes in the pursuit of excellence.

Or if you knuckled under and kept the truth to yourself but managed to get the impossible tasks completed despite the incompetence and/or shoddy work ethic of your managers and peers, you’ll get promoted to a job that requires twice the responsibility and workload for a 10% raise.

Anyone taking one of the hundreds of thousands of low-paying service-sector jobs has limited upside in pay and benefits; the corporate owners skim whatever upside there is because labor is in surplus except for narrow fields of expertise.

Productivity gains have been skimmed by corporate owners or the managers:  Wage Gains: For Your Boss – Yes; For You – Not So Much ("Zero Hedge")

It’s all downside, Baby.

It would be nice if an elected official could downsize the Empire or the Deep State, but this is wishful thinking. Can anyone force a radical downsizing (i.e., slashing and burning waste and inefficiency, eliminating multiple layers of management, unraveling cartels and monopolies, closing loopholes for patent-troll litigation, etc.) of the weapons acquisition monstrosity, the regulatory monstrosity, the litigation monstrosity, the healthcare/sickcare monstrosity, or the ineffective higher education monstrosity?

The legions living off these inefficient, bloated systems will destroy any real reforms and anyone who dares propose them. The only available process of radical downsizing /rationalization is collapse. That’s The Upside of Down (a book I highly recommend).

I don’t blame anyone for trying to save their job, division or agency; but the systemic cost of protecting privileges, bureaucracies and cartels is collapse.

But labor isn’t the only thing that’s in surplus – so is capital.

That’s why the yield on capital is near-zero or below zero. This has driven money managers to accept extremely dangerous levels of risk to chase yields. That central banks have masked the risk by claiming an omnipotence that cannot exist in the real world has only increased the systemic risks of implosion.

As for the central banks’ favored optical distortion device, the stock market – what will drive long-term upside once the market is de-FANGedAnother raft of absurdly overvalued Unicorn stocks?

With risk piling up and yields crashing, there is only downside, Baby.

Meanwhile, the engine of distributed wealth creation, people willing to risk their labor and capital on new enterprises, is cratering:

There’s no upside to risking everything when the commercial building owner, bank and local/federal government skim whatever you earn to the point that you’re losing money every month.

Oh, wait – there is some upside:  the black market/cash economy.

Those who sidestep the burdens of regulation, litigation and taxes have plenty of upside.

But it’s all downside for everyone collecting government paychecks and benefits paid with taxes, because the cash economy generates zero income tax revenue and very little junk fees.

That only increases the burden being loaded on the tax-donkeys who have no choice but to pay higher taxes and the legitimate businesses getting socked with ever-higher junk fees and regulatory costs.

The upside is ephemeral, illusory or wishful thinking; the downside is real and lasting.

(Today, nearly 98% of people who inherit money move it from their family's financial advisors within the first year. With $41 Trillion expected to be transferred to the next generation by 2026, it’s imperative that you reach them sooner than later. The next generation will transform the financial and philanthropic landscape. Discussing philanthropy is an easy way to engage them, and open them up to charitable planning strategies they hadn't previously considered, like donor-advised funds.)

Read more here.

Anyone thinking Zuckerberg's ploy yet?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

[Personally, I've never seen better/funnier "Late Show" stone-cold acting than De Niro just looking at Stephen this evening. Don't miss the UTube clip!]


TONY @oakroyd said...

Does Sanders have a hope, Cirze?

Cirze said...

He just raised over 2 million according to my local group.

I just find him awfully brave for going up against thugs.

It would be so easy for them to try to get close to his campaign with donations, etc., and then try to remove the threat.

We've been here before and I don't think the guys waging the wars are kidding around.

If he could win on the issues fairly, we'd all be relieved.

TONY @oakroyd said...

Rationalists rarely do well in US, increasingly UK, politics as far as I can see. Ron Paul was rational I thought. Consequently doomed in the GOP world of course. I fear that Hillary now has too much momentum to stop. That she is a sham liberal won't hold her back. Even got AIPAC support. The incipient fantasy that she will be some kind of feminist trailblazer is, even at this early stage, hard to take.

Cirze said...

I, and most of my friends (believe it or not) think Hillary's been a fraud since the 90's sellout of the healthcare issue to the big boys, and then the termination of welfare (as we know it) to many of the truly needy (children - supposedly the issue she's made her reputation as a liberal on - and the elderly and disabled).

I find her fake liberal stance and fake feminism (for her and her friends but not for any unworthies) stomach churning. Not to mention her husband's finance and war neoliberal decisions, which she has made a career of since, especially as Sec. of War for Obama. Not that Ash won't be just as deadly.

But that's just my take.

Rand Paul is also stomach churning to me but in a different way. If you listen to him closely he seems to be sensible - until he lets you know just how special he and his friends are - and how everyone else better be able to take care of themselves - without the tax breaks/cuts/deals/incentives that the rich get. Naturally. Oh, and don't ask the Paul government for any favors for the poor. It's their fault, you know. A typical Republican's opinion - before the crazies escaped from the asylum and took over the Grand Old Plutocrats.

Bernie will probably go down soon as the Debby Wasserman/S battalion goes into full fright attack - and Hillary emerges as the victor with all the money needed to go up against Jebbie! (whom I predict will be the only Republican left standing next summer no matter his troubles now).

Yep. The Klown Kar Krew will disappear like vapor as the American public gets bored with the shoutyness and changes the channel sometime in the Spring.

And then the race gets serious as the neolib candidates turn on each other (actually turn their hugely expensive ad campaigns on each other) and confuse the crowd terminally as we march into the next great war shouting about freedom and liberty and loving our enemies. (Maybe we'll get Dubya back to lead the cheers!)

But you know the drill.