Sunday, May 15, 2016

(First Shots Fired)  Liars Out In Force (Wall Street Rocking Again - Cause You Gotta Sell Sumpin!)  Krugman Outed (Sad to Say) Along with NYT Touting Repeal of Glass-Steagall  (Drunken Monkeys Lash Our Out-of-Control Horsey?)  Dimon Slips That Buddy Is A Jerk? (WSJ Wants Contested Conventions) Trump Surrogate Threatens Obama?

Walgreens Partners With Big Pharma to Sell More Psychiatric Drugs

The Art of the Double-Dealing Megalomaniac

I know we have been (almost anxiously) awaiting the deep-sixing, shouty-media attacks on the billionaire-unblessed candidates for several months now (and, yes, I'm taking into account the outright ignoring of Bernie's massive wins and the thousands of Sandersnistas who come to his rallies). Who would have believed that the first one would be on a billionaire-blessed baby and that it would be on a health issue? And, true or not, it's the first shot fired in what is sure to be a brutal conflict without the presence of Bernie Sanders (who will disappear soon entirely from the news coverage if we still trust the majors - CBS/NBC/ABC/CNN/MSNBC - to call the shots) to calm things down and remind everyone that there is still at least one adult in the mix.

Hillary has had at least a mini-stoke and has been having fainting spells since at least 2009, when she broke an elbow. She also appears to have gained a lot of weight and one wonders if that is the result of stress or difficulty managing her medication.

I will only add that I'm doing a deep dive myself into the email story, and will say without elaboration here, there is a there there. Whether it will be prosecuted or blow over is anyone's guess. In Zephyr Teachout's terms corruption is the use of "public power for private ends." How corrupt is the Department of Justice? In my view, very. After all, Bush thought of the Attorney General as the president's lawyer (not the nation's), and under Obama, no banker was even considered for indictment or trial, at least to all appearances. Was that justice speaking, or Obama, who raised more money from Wall Street in 2008 than even Clinton did?

Will Comey stand up to Obama, should he find evidence that justifies an indictment, the way he stood up to Bush in the famous Ashcroft hospital room scene? Before you answer, consider that Comey, as a "loyal bushie" and part of the Ashcroft Justice Dept., let pass any number of Bush atrocities before he found the one atrocity (still unnamed) even he couldn't stomach. Which means he can swallow a lot without giving himself, or anyone around him, gas.

So the jury's out on Comey and what he will do, even if the facts are against her. Still, there's a there there, and that "there" will come home sometime. This black swan, in other words, will land. When though, and with what result, is anyone's guess at this point.

And then there's that always ever-present question:


On the other hand . . . .

At least one voice has arisen from the gathering crowd deliberately raising her fist against the neo-nazi/con/lib fascist hordes.

In 2019 and 2023, no one of Sanders' caliber will run against Trump or Clinton. The neoliberal wing of the Democratic party will get its shit together and make damn sure that no Sanders can even run, much less win. Anyone who supports Sanders now will be squeezed out of any meaningful role in the Democratic party. The neoliberal elite has too much power, and they're not going to give it up without a fight.
The only way to defeat neoliberalism is to defeat it all at once worldwide. It is certainly possible to defeat neoliberalism locally, but if a locality makes inroads against neoliberalism, it will be co-opted (Podemos) or brutally crushed (Syriza).
The neoliberal elite will retain its grip until the system fails catastrophically. The question is not how to defeat or even ameliorate neoliberalism politically:  that train left the station in 1980. The question is: when neoliberalism fails catastrophically, who will pick up the pieces? The race is on between fascism and communism, and fascism is winning.

Beware the “Proven 15-Year Track Record” on Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 12, 2016

PowerShares QQQ Touts Its 15-Year Track Record in Commercial
PowerShares QQQ Touts Its 15-Year Track Record in Commercial
We’ve been at the gym recently working off those pounds that come from spending too much time in a chair researching the serial crimes on Wall Street. The equipment at the gym is conveniently equipped with cable news and a commercial that is airing regularly on the business news channel, CNBC, caught our eye.

The commercial starts out like this:

“The power of 100 of the world’s top companies. The power of a proven 15-year track record.”

We were first inclined to giggle at a market index claiming a “15-year” track record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, another stock market index, has been around since May 26, 1896 – a potentially more meaningful 120 years.

The web site for the PowerShares QQQ, the subject of the commercial, explains that it’s an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) based on the Nasdaq-100 Index, noting that the “Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization.”

What we could not find within the commercial or the front page of the web site for the PowerShares QQQ was anything like the chart posted below. That’s a chart courtesy of, part of Dow Jones & Co., which depicts part of the “15-year track record” of the Nasdaq 100 index – namely, the part of the track record where it crashed. Following the burst of the infamous bubble, from its peak on March 27, 2000, to its trough on October 7, 2002, the Nasdaq 100 lost over 80 percent of its value. To some minds, that might constitute more than a pesky detail when talking about “proven” track records.

Then there were the two huge accounting frauds within the Nasdaq 100.

In 2002, WorldCom was removed from the Nasdaq 100 amidst one of the largest accounting frauds in U.S. history. It was eventually determined that the company had overstated its assets by as much as $11 billion. Its CEO, Bernie Ebbers, was sentenced to a 25-year prison term while its CFO, Scott Sullivan, received a 5-year prison term. Other WorldCom executives also went to jail. In July 2002, the company filed the largest bankruptcy at that point in U.S. history. The company’s common stock, at one point worth $100 billion in market cap, became worthless.

Adelphia Communications was also removed from the Nasdaq 100 in 2002. According to the SEC, the company, at the direction of members of the Rigas family, “(1) fraudulently excluded billions of dollars in liabilities from its consolidated financial statements by hiding them on the books of off-balance sheet affiliates; (2) falsified operations statistics and inflated earnings to meet Wall Street’s expectations; and (3) concealed rampant self-dealing by the Rigas Family, including the undisclosed use of corporate funds for Rigas Family stock purchases and the acquisition of luxury condominiums in New York and elsewhere.”

Adelphia also filed bankruptcy, the Justice Department brought criminal charges and executives went to prison.

The next time you’re at the gym watching an investment commercial – you might want to do your own homework on what it’s touting.

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About that sad Paul Krugman outing?

It's just another "in the bag for Hillary" story. (Very sad to say.)

One Forgotten Document Casts Embarrassing Light on Krugman’s “Sanders Over the Edge” Column

Now for that document that throws egg all over the Nobel-prize winning ego and blinders of Paul Krugman.
AIG received a taxpayer backstop of $185 billion and had to be taken over by the Federal government. But the bailout of AIG was in reality a backdoor bailout of the biggest Wall Street banks and their foreign big bank kin who had used AIG as a counterparty on their casino-like derivative bets and for securities loans that AIG could not make good on.
It was eventually revealed that major Wall Street banks, foreign banks and hedge funds received more than half of AIG’s bailout money ($93.2 billion). Public pressure eventually forced AIG to release a chart of these payments, but the chart showed just a narrow window of disbursements from September to December 2008.  How vast the full total of payments were to the big banks is yet to see the light of day.
The chart shows that Goldman Sachs received $12.9 billion of the funds; Societe Generale received $11.9 billion; Merrill Lynch and its U.S. banking parent, Bank of America, received a combined $11.5 billion; the British bank, Barclays, received $8.5 billion; Citigroup got another backdoor bailout of $2.3 billion from AIG, to name just a few of the big banks.
Starting in 1988, the "New York Times" “forcefully advocated” (its words) for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act on its editorial page. (See related article below.)  After the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression, the "Times" finally apologized and admitted its error in 2012, writing: “Having seen the results of this sweeping deregulation, we now think we were wrong to have supported it.” But that hasn’t stopped the "Times" from allowing others to do its dirty work in recasting the financial crash as having nothing to do with the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which allowed the big commercial banks holding insured deposits to merge with their casino cousins.
What’s really behind this revisionist history crusade at the "Times?" Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999 under the Bill Clinton administration, a fact that doesn’t encourage voters to trust Hillary Clinton, whom the "New York Times" has endorsed for President, on issues of financial reform.
Pigs Are Flying on Wall Street — Can Glass-Steagall Be Far Behind?
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Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Our Intoxicated Horse

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Remember just eight years ago, when we had an epic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama? There weren’t many significant policy differences between them; Obama was never as liberal as many people assumed he was. But there was one major difference. This is what Obama said:

Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans. . . .
Unless we’re willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing is going to change.
The reason I’m running for President is to challenge that system.
The quotations are from the new edition of Republic, Lost by Larry Lessig (pp. 167–68). My handful of loyal readers will recall that Lessig was my choice for the Democratic presidential nomination until he was shut out of the debates by the Democratic Party. (Note to the party and its affiliated Super PACs:  no, I’m not giving you money.)

I’m reading the new edition of the book, and I came across this brilliant description of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run (p. 168):

She saw the job of the president to be to take a political system and do as much with it as you can. It may be a lame horse. It may be an intoxicated horse. It may be a horse that can only run backward. But the job is not to fix the horse. The job is to run the horse as fast as you can.
Regardless of what you think about Clinton on policy — she’s a little too far to the right for my tastes, but not terribly so — I think this is a fair summary of her approach, both in 2008 and in 2016. She has positioned herself as the pragmatic choice, the person who knows how to work within the system to make incremental gains, the candidate of modest by supposedly achievable ambitions. Last time she lost; this time she’s winning. She’s nothing if not consistent.

This means, of course, that the broken, rigged system — those are President Barack Obama’s words, everyone, not just those of some socialist from Vermont — orchestrated by lobbyists and dominated by concentrated special interests, will be around for the foreseeable future.

For someone who only tunes in during presidential election campaigns, this may raise the question:  What happened? Wasn’t Obama going to fix the system? Well, as Lessig and many others have pointed out, he didn’t even try.

Whether Obama gave up because he thought he could grind out legislative victories the old-fashioned way, or whether he never really believed in the cause, I guess only he knows. But Obama the candidate was right:  unless we fix the system, nothing else is going to change. And except for Zephyr Teachout and a few other down-ballot candidates who are committed to electoral reform, this year is going to be another lost opportunity.
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I saw this in a reader's response to another Krugman piece, which I thought you might enjoy (links provided but you need to right-click on them to launch a private window choice 'cause it's the TIMES!, friends).


Lost and confused 1 day ago
Well we have been deriding Trump for months now. How's that working out?

The reality is that this is an election that is a revolt against the ruling class. For some reason the ruling classes of both parties, and their pundits, can't seem to grasp this simple and obvious facts.

The establishment has failed in their most basic responsibilities as they continue to enrich themselves.

Living standards have fallen. Good jobs are rare. 60% of Americans would have to borrow money or sell something to fund a $500 emergency. We are no longer 'Number 1' in anything except the military and prisons. We are 23rd in the world in infant mortality and lucky to make the top 10 in any other category.That is what this election is about.

The majority of Americans know the system is rigged. Clinton, Romney and Bush are seen as the riggers.

So make fun of Trump and Sanders all you want. The American public believes you have betrayed them and are no longer trusting or listening to you.

And pay no attention to those polls showing Clinton and Trump head to head, separated only by the margin of error. Forget about Clinton's negatives and her total failure in attracting those under 40, the working class and independents.

Just keep telling us how bad and stupid Trump and Sanders and their supporters are, and how all the very serious people agree. It has really worked out well so far.

Your message, and platform have been judged a failure. The failure of your philosophy is the problem.

The Trump Effect: Jamie Dimon Calls Fellow Banker a “Jerk;” Facebook Death Threats Against Obama

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
May 13, 2016
Donald Trump, Republican Presidential Candidate
Donald Trump, Republican Presidential Candidate
Donald Trump’s brash, unfiltered mouth, which he is leveraging to stay in the media spotlight 24/7, may be taking root in broader society. On Wednesday, Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of the largest bank in the U.S., with buttoned-down, old money clients, called a fellow banker a “jerk” during an on-air conversation at CNBC.

Dimon’s school boy rhetoric was directed at Camden Fine, President and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers Association, who has accused Dimon of attempting to “link the interests of megabanks to community banks in order to mitigate the political heat” that is on the Wall Street behemoths.

After Dimon’s “jerk” insult on CNBC, Fine said in a statement to CNBC that Dimon’s remarks “reflect Wall Street’s inability to take responsibility for the economic crisis it caused and the taxpayer-funded guarantee against failure it continues to enjoy.”

Fine went further in a phone interview on Wednesday with CNNMoney, stating:

“What is this, junior high school? To be called a "jerk" by Jamie Dimon — I take as a badge of honor. It means he has no good argument to our response. So he resorts to name calling, and in my view that is the last refuge of small minds.”

Dimon has never been a paragon of etiquette but calling an industry head a “jerk” on TV sets a new low, even for him. In 2013, Dimon appeared to brag about his obscene pay when he insulted Mike Mayo, a banking analyst, at JPMorgan’s own investor conference. In response to a question from Mayo about whether higher capital at rival bank UBS might create a competitive headwind for JPMorgan, Dimon responded:

Dimon: “You would go to UBS and not JPMorgan?”

Mayo: “I didn’t say that; that’s their argument.”

Dimon: “That’s why I’m richer than you.”

Putting his wealth on display also seemed to be the theme of Dimon’s 2013 Christmas card which garnered a Stephen Colbert skit and this rebuke from Lucy Kellaway of the "Financial Times:"

“…for me, the ostentation wasn’t in the ludicrously wealthy interior, nor in the gorgeous slim figures in their casually ripped jeans. It wasn’t in the fabulous dentistry of Dimon’s womenfolk as they roar with laughter playing a riotous game of indoor tennis, blithely oblivious of the priceless pottery vases, and the huge canvas that looks like a Jackson Pollock.

“I don’t mind bankers being really rich. So much money is vulgar and undeserved, but it does not upset me. It is this gratuitous (and probably phoney) display of over-the-top happiness that sets my less than perfect teeth on edge.”

Even the editorial page writers at the "Wall Street Journal" are showing signs of adolescent brevity. An editorial in yesterday’s paper called Hillary Clinton  “lousy.” The context was as follows:

“Mrs. Clinton has proven to be a lousy candidate, unappealing even to millions of Democrats. Mr. Trump is probably the weakest candidate Republicans could nominate, yet could Mrs. Clinton be the one Democrat who could lose to Mr. Trump? Maybe Democrats should consider a contested convention.”

In terms of wealth and income inequality, the U.S. has already devolved back to the 1920s. Now our very language is devolving. Yesterday, at "Mother Jones," David Corn explained in graphic detail where devolution in civil discourse inevitably leads.

Corn revealed that Donald Trump’s former butler, whom the "New York Times" profiled this past March as now living on Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-A-Lago, and functioning as its historian, has been posting vulgar, racist insults against President Obama on his Facebook page, including death threats.

A Trump spokesperson denied that the Facebook poster, Anthony Senecal, works for Trump but was silent on whether he continues to reside at his Palm Beach estate. In March, the "Times" wrote as follows:

“Mr. Senecal tried to retire in 2009, but Mr. Trump decided he was irreplaceable, so while Mr. Senecal was relieved of his butler duties, he has been kept around as a kind of unofficial historian at Mar-a-Lago.”

The "Times" feature on Senecal included a current photograph of him at the Mar-A-Lago estate in March.

On Wednesday, the same day that Dimon was calling a fellow banker a jerk on TV, Trump’s estate historian had this to say about the President of the United States on his Facebook page, according to Corn:

“To all my friends on FB, just a short note to you on our pus headed ‘president’ !!!! This character who I refer to as zero (0) should have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term !!!!! Instead he still remains in office doing every thing he can to gut the America we all know and love !!!!! Now comes Donald J Trump to put an end to the corruption in government !!!! The so called elite, who are nothing but common dog turds from your front lawn are shaking in their boots because there is a new Sheriff coming to town, and the end to their corruption of the American people (YOU) is at hand …”

Corn also reported that Senecal had posted the following on his Facebook page on May 23, 2015:

“I feel it is time for the SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION !!!!! The only way we will change this crooked government is to douche it !!!!! This might be the time with this kenyan fraud in power !!!!! …[W]ith the last breath I draw I will help rid this America of the scum infested in its government–and if that means dragging that ball less dick head from the white mosque and hanging his scrawny ass from the portico–count me in !!!!!”

The "New York Times" is now reporting that the Secret Service is looking into the death threats. Foreign newspapers have picked up the story, adding further to America’s embarrassment abroad and the shaking of heads by our allies.

You probaby remember, friends, that I lost a bit (okay, more than a bit) on Worldcom (yes, I trusted the AAA rating like a fool - but there again this happened before the word went out on the Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan financial chicanery), and wrote an essay about that Di(a)mon(d) fellow's horrendously bad taste (bragging, it seemed) Christmas card when it was first publicized.

Speaking of current events (and not happy ones), I've lost my computer (using a kind neighbor's today) and my car, so if anyone would like to help me out a bit, I will be deeply grateful.

Otherwise, signing off for the time being from Pottersville2.

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