The inestimable Driftglass strikes: (Springtime for Donald and Pence VP) .
Holy Shit, It Really Was The Orange Wedding (tm)
The Dream Dies: Karl Rove's Republican Century Already Over As The Donald Nominated at Republican Convention
From the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch to an increasingly influential GOP financier Paul Singer, from those who fell short in 2016 - Ted Cruz and Scott Walker - to those who could be fresh faces in 2020 - Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, Nikki Haley - from House Speaker Paul Ryan to the not-so-subterranean contest for the chairmanship of the RepublicanNational Committee, the maneuvering is underway to pick up the shards of the shattered GOP.
“There’s a school of thought that Trump, who’s gonna get crushed, will somehow teach the party a lesson and they’ll get it out of their system,” said Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s chief strategist in 2012. “I don’t have confidence in that.”
Revelations in 28 Pages Don’t Align With 9/11 Commission Conclusions
With the declassification Friday afternoon of the infamous “28 Pages,” the foundation of the official 9/11 narrative is really beyond repair at this point.
Al Qaeda did not act alone in carrying out the 2001 terror attacks on America that killed nearly 3,000 people. Foreign government officials did indeed provide financial and logistical support to the hijackers. Leads to that effect were never fully investigated.
We had been assured of the opposite on all three counts.
While still considerably redacted, and conveniently released right before Congress’ summer break, the long-hidden material from the Congressional Joint Inquiry report of 2002 revealed what lawmakers have hinted about over the past several years.
“The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” Florida Senator Bob Graham said in mid-January, 2015.
They sure do.
A few nuggets from the chapter centered on Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan — both suspected Saudi intelligence officers in the US at the time of the attacks with close links to two of the hijackers:
• “During the post-Sept. 11 investigation, the FBI discovered that al-Bayoumi had far more extensive ties to the Saudi Government than previously realized.”
• “According to the FBI, al-Bayoumi was in contact with at least three individuals at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.”
• “(Bassnan) also lived across the street from the hijackers, and made a comment to an FBI asset that he did more than al-Bayoumi did for the hijackers.”
• “FBI information indicates that Bassnan is an extremist and supporter of Usama Bin Laden, and has been connected to the Eritrean Islamic Jihad and the Blind Shaykh.”
In a most awkward passage for the Bush White House, it appears Bassnan even received direct payments from former Saudi ambassador to the US (and close Bush family friend) Prince Bandar bin Sultan al Saud:
• “On at least one occasion, Bassnan received a check directly from Prince Bandar’s account. According to the FBI, on May 14, 1998, Bassnan cashed a check from Bandar in the amount of $15,000.”
Prince Bandar resigned as ambassador to the U.S. in 2005, but has held other high government positions for the Kingdom since.
A number of other suspected Saudi agents with links to the hijackers are mentioned throughout the chapter, all according to FBI and CIA documents.
Of course, the spin machine kicked into high gear Friday, with the White House and Director of National Intelligence repeating earlier claims that the information in the 2002 report was followed up on by the 9/11 Commission and found to be innocuous.
A statement from the office of the DNI on Friday read: “The 9/11 Commission built on existing investigations and information, including that of the Joint Inquiry, but had greater access to senior officials and classified information. Its final report concluded that it ‘found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded [al Qaeda].’ ”
Countless mainstream media entities obediently followed suit, deferring to the vague conclusions of the 9/11 Commission, while ignoring the fact that the newly released chapter cited the FBI and CIA’s own documents.Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister was happy to agree with that exoneration, conducting a well-prepared statement during a press conference shortly after declassification of the material.
Unfortunately, the DNI narrative remains at odds with the objections made by multiple 9/11 Commissioners, themselves, who insist their team wasn’t actually allowed to follow all leads involving Saudi Arabian nationals.
“Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Commission member Bob Kerrey wrote in a statement submitted in the 9/11 victims’ suit against Saudi Arabia.
One Commission investigator, Dana Lesemann, was even fired by controversial director Philip Zelikow for being too aggressive in pursuit of the Saudi angle.
Zelikow, a Bush White House policy advisor who maintained contact with influential White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove throughout the Commission’s investigation, rejected much of the Saudi-related material his team submitted. He then re-wrote the entire section before it was sent to publishing, concluding “we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al Qaeda.
Life support or Revelations-level reveal, whether this "event" is just another limited hang-out (lies/half-lies that obscure the truth about what happened) or not, it's a great story to release at the beginning of a slow, hot July week when the sullen masses are screaming for heads.
And that's just the Republican Convention. Read the entire essay here.
Here's the latest on the madness being inflicted on the world's citizens from our man on the scene, Professor Paul Craig Roberts:
And as to current Convention foolishness?
Oh, those capitalist entrepreneurs.
Truly role models.
When I taught Business Administration - Management - several years ago, I was asked by a few of my students about the possibility of using Donald Trump's Art of the Deal as a textbook. I can't remember exactly what I told them now but I'm pretty sure I mentioned that there was very little likelihood that he actually wrote it, let alone that it probably had very little to do with how he negotiated his business deals (and that I wasn't sure there was much in it that would benefit beginning entrepreneurs unless they started out with a lot of seed money to risk).
Some of them seemed disappointed in not being able to trust the Donald. The focus of my class, however, was for them not to trust anyone in business (no matter how seemingly successful) who was a slick talker with a lot of shaky deals in his/her wake (which would provide an ideal subject for their paper on business successes/failures - and thus I said they could do a study on Trump's business acumen if they thought it would be a good project). No one took me up on the offer. Funny thing about that Trump guy. No one among those conventioneers seems to have noticed even now his lack of actual preparation (shakiness) for his next venture.
Imagine my glee when I started to read the following article which appeared in this month's "New Yorker."
Last June, as dusk fell outside Tony Schwartz’s sprawling house, on a leafy back road in Riverdale, New York, he pulled out his laptop and caught up with the day’s big news: Donald J. Trump had declared his candidacy for President. As Schwartz watched a video of the speech, he began to feel personally implicated.
Trump, facing a crowd that had gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue, laid out his qualifications, saying, “We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal.” If that was so, Schwartz thought, then he, not Trump, should be running. Schwartz dashed off a tweet: “Many thanks Donald Trump for suggesting I run for President, based on the fact that I wrote The Art of the Deal.
Schwartz had ghostwritten Trump’s 1987 breakthrough memoir, earning a joint byline on the cover, half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance, and half of the royalties. The book was a phenomenal success, spending forty-eight weeks on the "Times" best-seller list, thirteen of them at No. 1. More than a million copies have been bought, generating several million dollars in royalties. The book expanded Trump’s renown far beyond New York City, making him an emblem of the successful tycoon. Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump — camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One — when it was so easily refuted — he is likely to lie about anything.”
It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.
In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.
Schwartz thought about publishing an article describing his reservations about Trump, but he hesitated, knowing that, since he’d cashed in on the flattering Art of the Deal, his credibility and his motives would be seen as suspect. Yet watching the campaign was excruciating. Schwartz decided that if he kept mum and Trump was elected he’d never forgive himself. In June, he agreed to break his silence and give his first candid interview about the Trump he got to know while acting as his Boswell.
“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
If he were writing The Art of the Deal today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, The Sociopath.
The idea of Trump writing an autobiography didn’t originate with either Trump or Schwartz. It began with Si Newhouse, the media magnate whose company, Advance Publications, owned Random House at the time, and continues to own Condé Nast, the parent company of this magazine. “It was very definitely, and almost uniquely, Si Newhouse’s idea,” Peter Osnos, who edited the book, recalls. "GQ," which Condé Nast also owns, had published a cover story on Trump, and Newhouse noticed that newsstand sales had been unusually strong.
Newhouse called Trump about the project, then visited him to discuss it. Random House continued the pursuit with a series of meetings. At one point, Howard Kaminsky, who ran Random House then, wrapped a thick Russian novel in a dummy cover that featured a photograph of Trump looking like a conquering hero; at the top was Trump’s name, in large gold block lettering. Kaminsky recalls that Trump was pleased by the mockup, but had one suggestion: “Please make my name much bigger.” After securing the half-million-dollar advance, Trump signed a contract.
Around this time, Schwartz, who was one of the leading young magazine writers of the day, stopped by Trump’s office, in Trump Tower. Schwartz had written about Trump before. In 1985, he’d published a piece in "New York" called “A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story,” which portrayed him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts — which included a plan to house homeless people in the building in order to harass the tenants — became what Schwartz described as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.” An accompanying cover portrait depicted Trump as unshaven, unpleasant-looking, and shiny with sweat.
Yet, to Schwartz’s amazement, Trump loved the article. He hung the cover on a wall of his office, and sent a fan note to Schwartz, on his gold-embossed personal stationery. “Everybody seems to have read it,” Trump enthused in the note, which Schwartz has kept.
Read the rest of the essay here.
Baton Rouge redux? Calling Toni Morrison!
There is a scene in Toni Morrison’s novel “Song of Solomon” in which a character named Guitar explains to the protagonist Milkman that violence inflicted without repercussion is not a matter of morality, but mathematics. The tide of black death at the hands of white people, he reasons, sets the world at an imperfect ratio. He then explains the corrective.
There is a society. It’s made up of a few men who are willing to take some risks. They don’t initiate anything; they don’t even choose. They are as indifferent as rain. But when a Negro child, Negro woman, or Negro man is killed by whites and nothing is done about it by their law and their courts, this society selects a similar victim at random, and they execute him or her in a similar manner if they can. If the Negro was hanged, they hang; if a Negro was burnt, they burn; raped and murdered, they rape and murder. If they can. If they can’t do it precisely in the same manner, they do it any way they can, but they do it.
The call-and-response pattern of violence over the past ten days has distorted that line between fictional and factual. The virtual blur of gunfire, death, protest, sorrow, recrimination, anger, remembrance, and shock that has defined this period has made it possible to lose count of the totals. The record stands at two civilians dead at the hands of law enforcement, in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, followed by eighteen police officers who have been shot, eight fatally, in two separate mass shootings, in Dallas and Baton Rouge. We know, or at least ought to know by now, that harm inflicted upon innocents as retribution for other harmed innocents is bad mathematics. The grief isn’t dimmed; it’s compounded like interest.
President Obama, wearied and six inches past his wits’ end, addressed the violence hours after the most recent incident — the shooting on Sunday, in Baton Rouge, of six police officers, three of whom died as a result of their injuries. The alleged shooter, Gavin Eugene Long, was, like Micah Johnson, the sniper in Dallas, an African-American military veteran in his twenties. Last week, after the massacre in Dallas, the President adamantly declared, “We are not as divided as we seem.” This was a familiar refrain.
Obama’s path to the White House began at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the night he gave a speech in which he argued, in essence, that we are not as divided as we seem. Perhaps he’s right. But the fact that he’s had to keep making that point for the past twelve years means that we’re not all that close together, either. The events in Baton Rouge, which came like a personal rebuttal to Obama’s invocation of our common bonds, seemed to take something out of the President. He delivered his remarks with the muted affect of an actor doing a table read.
This is a season of rebuttals. The Dallas shooting revealed the bankruptcy of the good-guy-with-a-gun theory. A single shooter hit twelve trained, armed officers before being cornered and killed by a robot-delivered bomb. The events in Baton Rouge exposed a different kind of bankruptcy. In the chaotic wake of the shooting, Stephen Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, requested that Governor John Kasich, of Ohio, suspend open carry in the area surrounding the Republican Convention, in Cleveland, given the heightened threat level. Kasich, who has an “A-” rating from the National Rifle Association, responded by saying he could not suspend the constitutionally insured right to carry firearms. But the simple fact of the request is the most honest admission that firearms create dangerous situations.
Loomis represents police officers in a department responsible for the death of the twelve-year-old boy Tamir Rice; the officer who shot him, Timothy Loehmann, faced no criminal charges for it. Officers from the same police department fired a hundred and thirty-seven bullets into a vehicle after a car chase, with one officer climbing on top of the hood to fire more directly at the unarmed motorists. In both those circumstances, Cleveland police sought to justify their actions by pointing to their fears that the victims had been armed.
The N.R.A.’s zealotry in the name of self-defense founders when race enters the equation. After the death of Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner, at the hands of a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, the organization released a tepid statement that didn’t name Castile and emphasized that “it is important for the N.R.A. not to comment while the investigation is ongoing.” In an attempt to cloak the most obvious elements of its racial hypocrisy, the N.R.A. has in recent years attempted to recruit African-American members by pointing to their disproportionate need to defend themselves against violent crime.
But self-defense is only one part of the gospel of gun ownership. The more fundamental element of the argument is that gun ownership is what differentiates a citizen from a subject. Sidearm conservatives rushed to the defense of the Malheur occupation in Oregon and Cliven Bundy’s armed defiance against federal authority over grazing lands in Nevada. We don’t know what motivated Long, who was killed in the shootout, to murder police officers in Baton Rouge. But Micah Johnson reportedly seethed over police brutality, and what he perceived as a failure to do anything about it. In other words, he was angry over governmental power and abuse: just the sort of grievance that the gun lobby, under other circumstances — say, a beleaguered cult of fundamentalist Christian landowners in Colorado — would laud as “Second Amendment remedies” and the prevention of government overreach. Mao Zedong theorized that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” By the N.R.A.’s estimation, democracy does, too.
Read it all here.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
July 19, 2016
Breaking up the dangerous banks on Wall Street that are gambling with their taxpayer-backstopped insured deposits by restoring the Glass-Steagall Act is now a part of the newly adopted platforms of both the Democrat and Republican parties. Under a restored Glass-Steagall Act, banks holding insured deposits would not be allowed to affiliate with Wall Street investment banks and brokerage firms that regularly underwrite risky securities and engage in trillions of dollars of derivative gambles. It would effectively put an end to the idea that these complex banks are too-big-to-fail because the life savings of small savers holding insured deposits in the bank would be at risk.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters pushed the Democratic Party to include the provision in its platform. Today’s media spin is that Trump & Company added it in hopes of picking up some Sanders’ supporters who have vowed not to vote for Hillary Clinton.
What has been lost in the frenzy of political posturing is that there already exists a bi-partisan bill in the Senate to restore the Glass-Steagall Act. It’s called the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act of 2015” and is co-sponsored by progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren and Republican Senator John McCain among others.
“This case represents another shameful demonstration of a bank engaged in wildly risky behavior. The ‘London Whale’ incident matters to the federal government because the traders at JPMorgan were making risky bets using excess deposits, portions of which were federally insured. These excess deposits should have been used to provide loans for main-street businesses. Instead, JPMorgan used the money to bet on catastrophic risk.”
According to documents released by the Senate, JPMorgan Chase had gamed the system in multiple ways. On January 16, 2012, JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office held $458 billion notional (face amount) in domestic and foreign credit default swap indices. Of the $458 billion, $115 billion was in an index of corporations with junk bond ratings, which the bank was not allowed to own.Read the entire essay here.
According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, JPMorgan “transferred the market risk of these positions into a subsidiary of an Edge Act corporation, which took most of the losses.” An Edge Act corporation refers to the ability of a bank to obtain a special charter from the Federal Reserve. By establishing an Edge Act corporation, U.S. banks are able to engage in investments not available under standard banking laws.
Posted on July 18, 2016
by Ellen Brown
BREXIT, FREXIT, GREXIT – where’s everybody going? The recent vote in the United Kingdom to get out of the European Union is a telling example of how ill-served citizens in the political/financial union are feeling about their status. Such feeling suggests the potential for contagion with other European nations souring on the control of the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Ellen talks with a noted international observer Stephen Lendman about this vote and the politics that led up to it and are now playing out.
Matt Stannard reports on another political stage, in NC, where money for local infrastructure depends on compliance with onerous immigration policies. And our What Wall Street Costs America report focuses on the tragic human costs inflicted on Puerto Rico by American hedge funds. Archived here.
Click here for the interview.