Friday, July 15, 2016

(The End of What?)  Bush Drunk or Just Bored?  (Obama Wrong)  Chilcot Scorches Blair  (How Comey Failed America)  Citigroup Has $55.6 Trillion of Derivatives > JPMorganChase & Needs Another Bailout - Dodd-Frank Fraud  (Sad Jeb! Can't Fulfill His Destiny)  Owners Eating Business Seed Corn  (But Wait - Hillary Brings More Corruption, Lies and Wars) More Lesser Evilism Lurks  (Police Riot Tipping Point?)

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end?
- Bobby D

Yes. It's been obvious that's he's been demented for some time now.

But he really seems to be inebriated (or in the first stages of terminal dementia) during this supposedly solemn moment. (His wife does the usual "I'm not noticing . . ." act.)

The Obamas' response is one for the etiquette books.

One for the ages.

Of what looks to be very similar to what faked news coverage would approximate.

Speaking of such.

The classy, intelligent foreign (London-trained) doctor (ophthalmologist) tries courteously to show the "folks" at NBC News a different way.

And another boring/bored Bush grabs the spotlight with national coverage from the front yard of his rich-man's multimillion-dollar vacation estate. (Was this supposed to be his public mea culpa before he's chosen by the Republican Convention to replace sure loser Trump?)

You just can't keep those "good guys" (beacons of light in the free world) down can you?

Deep State is not in full control; it just
knows which way it wants the world to roll.

Deep State kills the leaders it doesn’t like;
a lesson our leaders learned long ago.

Deep State doesn’t care if a whistle’s blown;
it already holds the reins of ‘reform.’

Deep State enjoys the horse-race hoopla,
voters vexed by the vetted and the duped.

Deep State’s wars have no other aim
than to keep our masters’ coffers in coin.

Deep State doesn’t mind blowing up the world,
if the world won’t do what Deep State wants.

Deep State is Red, Deep State is Blue;
Deep State don’t give a damn for you.

©2016 by Chris Floyd


Congress Releases Secret 9/11 Document Detailing Possible Saudi Ties to Al Qaeda

Nice to learn (after how many years of awaiting its release?) that the Chilcot Report damns Blair after enumerating all his lies and illegalities.

The Damned Man:  Blair Scorched by Chilcot Report

Surprised - but glad - to see how scathing the Chilcot Report turned out to be. It’s not a criminal indictment, but already, just the bullet points from Chilcot's press conference are highly damning of Blair as a leader:  rushing headlong into a totally unnecessary war, with very dubious legal backing, ignoring reports on the likely consequences of the invasion, bowing to belligerent US wishes at every turn, showing incredible disregard for the soldiers he was sending in to occupy a country (and for the innocent civilians of that country, who, Chilcot notes, died in vast numbers) and knowingly exaggerating murky intelligence to justify the unnecessary campaign. All of these points are now thoroughly established and can’t be disputed, whatever else one might say about Blair's motives or moral turpitude or criminal responsibility. It has been confirmed - by the British establishment itself - that Blair led the country into an unmitigated disaster that has destabilized the world and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. What a nightmare. What an endless nightmare.
And as the Chilcot Report is released, let's remember how the Baath Party, and Saddam's particular faction, came to power in Iraq in the first place:  with not one but two coups backed by the White House and assisted by the CIA, which provided the plotters with hit lists of "suspected Communists and leftists" for mass execution, as Roger Morris reported long ago, just before the invasion - in the New York Times.
Also good to remember that George H.W. Bush (now regarded as the "good George Bush") happily pushed weapons, money, intel and WMD material to Saddam even when the US government knew he was using chemical weapons. It was only when he got into a tussle with the Kuwaiti royals - long-time business partners of oilman GWH Bush - that he suddenly became the "new Hitler" and Iraq was subjected to 25 years (and counting) of war, sanctions, terror and chaos that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people (if not more; US Sec of State Albright admitted that US/UK sanctions alone were responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children by the late 1990s). The US/UK record in Iraq - morally horrific, murderously cynical, shameful beyond measure - goes back many decades and is thoroughly bipartisan. GW Bush and Tony Blair should pay for their contribution to this record (although of course they won't); but their war of aggression is only one chapter in this long, sickening history.

And not to end the party too soon (again) . . . but . . . let's not talk about Deutsche Bank or Citigroup or JPMorganChase.


Citigroup Has More Derivatives Than 4,701 U.S. Banks Combined; After Blowing Itself Up With Derivatives in 2008

Derivatives at Bank Holding Companies, March 31, 2016 (OCC Report)
Derivatives at Bank Holding Companies, March 31, 2016
(OCC Report)
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens:  July 14, 2016
According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as of March 31, 2016, there were 6,122 FDIC insured financial institutions in the United States. Of those 6,122 commercial banks and savings associations, 4,701 did not hold any derivatives. To put that another way, 77 percent of all U.S. banks found zero reason to engage in high-risk derivative trading.
Citigroup, however, the bank that spectacularly blew itself up with toxic derivatives and subprime debt in 2008, became a 99-cent stock during the crisis, and received the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. financial history despite being insolvent at the time, today holds more derivatives than 4,701 other banks combined which are backstopped by the taxpayer.
The total notional amount of derivatives sitting at Citigroup’s bank holding company is $55.6 trillion according to the March 31, 2016 report from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), one of the regulators of national banks. (See chart above.) Out of Citigroup’s total notional (face amount) exposure of $55.6 trillion in derivatives, $52 trillion of that is sitting at its insured depository institution, Citibank, which is still decidedly too-big-to-fail and would require a taxpayer bailout again in a collapse.
If you add in four other mega Wall Street banks (JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley) to Citigroup’s haul in derivatives, there is a staggering $231.4 trillion in derivatives or 93 percent of all derivatives in the entire FDIC banking universe of 6,122 banks and savings associations.

Is Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Legislation a Hoax?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Racism is complicated. When America’s most brilliant thinkers set out to explain its nature in terms as clear as the English language allows, as Michael Eric Dyson did in his searing July 7th essay “Death in Black and White,” even the relatively sophisticated readers of the New York Times didn’t get it. Commenters didn’t understand that Dyson wasn’t addressing every white person, but “white America” — shorthand for a dominant power structure that is fundamentally racist while (of course) not every white person is.
If anti-racist white people take writing as straightforward as Dyson’s personally, if they take offense at his passion and so miss his message, is there any hope of “black America” and “white America” just getting along?
It’s been a hell of a week. Another one. Two more black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were gunned down by the police under the usual incomprehensible circumstances — events the media, and thus the government, is paying attention to only because someone invented the smartphone. Then a sniper, a veteran of America’s war against Afghanistan, shot 12 police officers at a march in Dallas protesting the deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana. Five died.
Needless to say, the Dallas cops didn’t have it coming. They didn’t have anything to do with what happened in entirely different states.
Well, it shouldn’t need to be said. But it does. Because, no matter how many times we hear public officials tell us that the police protect and serve us, it doesn’t ring true. Three out of four African-Americans tell pollsters they don’t think police are held accountable for their actions. So do 40% of whites.
The truth is, Americans don’t like cops.

Bernie burns it down?

Against all dreamers' hopes . . .

Bernie endorses Hillary.
How disgusting is that?
Not surprising. Predictable in fact. But disgusting nonetheless.
Not proud to admit that, over the past couple of months, I have preyed on naive liberal friends who actually believed that Bernie was going to act independently, take it to the convention, wreak havoc on the corrupt Democratic Party.
I bet that he wouldn’t, that he was not an Independent, he was Democrat as they come, that he would endorse Hillary before the convention.
Again, not proud.

Jill Stein agrees with me.

The oddest part of this story is that Bernie is charged over and over again with being a Democrat who is sheep-herding the liberals into the Clinton Corral, when he actually wasn't a Democrat. He's always been an Independent Socialist - a democratic socialist but not a real Democratic Party enthusiast (or member) if he differed with their policies.

Until now. Unless he's now playing the 14-dimensional level chess formerly attributed to Obama.

I join millions of Americans who see Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the opposite of what they and Bernie Sanders have fought for. Despite her penchant for flip flopping rhetoric, Hillary Clinton has spent decades consistently serving the causes of Wall Street, war and the Walmart economy.
The policies she fought for – along with her husband and political partner, Bill Clinton – have been foundations of the economic disaster most Americans are still struggling with:  the abuses of deregulated Wall Street, rigged corporate trade agreements, racist mass incarceration, and the destruction of the social safety net for poor women and children. The consistent efforts of the Democratic Party to minimize, sideline, and sabotage the Sanders campaign are a wake up call that we can’t have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary party.
Sadly, Sanders is one of a long line of true reformers that have been undermined by the Democratic Party. The eventual suppression of the Sanders campaign was virtually guaranteed from the beginning with super-delegates and super Tuesdays, that were created after George McGovern’s nomination to prevent grassroots campaigns from winning the nomination again.
Sanders, a life-long independent who has advocated for building an independent democratic socialist party similar to Canada’s New Democratic Party, has said that his decision to run as a Democrat was based on pragmatism, but there is nothing pragmatic about supporting a party that for decades has consistently sold out the progressive majority to the billionaire class. This false pragmatism is not the path to revolutionary change but rather an incrementalism that keeps us trapped, voting for lesser evil again and again.
Each time a progressive challenger like Sanders, Dennis Kucinich or Jesse Jackson has inspired hope for real change, the Democratic Party has sabotaged them while marching to the right, becoming more corporatist and militarist with each election cycle.
Millions are realizing that if we want to fix the rigged economy, the rigged racial injustice system, the rigged health care system, toxic fossil fuel energy and all the other systems failing us, we must fix the rigged political system, and that will not happen through the rigged Democratic Party.
Right now we have a real chance to change our rigged political system, and we must not squander this opportunity by pledging allegiance to a corrupt political insider who the majority of Americans do not like, trust or believe in.

Did Bernie just throw in the towel due to present circumstances or was this long-planned after a campaign focused on capturing the hearts (and pocketbooks) of so many on the left who were looking for a change hero?

Bernie Sanders threw in the towel today in his epic campaign to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, standing on a stage in Portsmouth, New Hampshire beside the woman he had spent the whole primary season denouncing as a tool of the corporate elite and especially of the Wall Street banking cabal, and saying he endorsed her as the party’s candidate for president of the United States.
The event marked the sad, if widely predicted, end to what for a brief time had electrified millions of young and working class voters:  a major party candidate for president openly calling himself a socialist, proudly harking back to his days as a radical civil rights activist instead of trying to hide his past and his arrest record, and unabashedly condemning the greed, corruption and lust for power of the nation’s ruling elite.
I confess to having been inspired by Sanders’ quixotic campaign myself, and while I’m disappointed that he has ended it in such a dismal and humiliating manner, I’m not sorry he ran. Thanks to Bernie Sanders, the word “socialism” is no longer a pejorative in American politics. It is a political philosophy to which millions of young people are now drawn. That is something that can and will be built upon. For at least two generations it was not possible to call one’s self a socialist and be taken seriously in the United States of Capitalism. Of course, Sanders didn’t achieve this breakthrough by himself. His campaign built directly upon the struggles of the Occupy Movement, which in 2011 gave us “We are the 99%!” and made it clear that it is the 1% of the nation’s wealthiest people who basically own and run the country.
Bernie Sanders took that movement’s legacy and ran with it, literally, taking the country by storm and winning 22 states’ primaries along the way – and he probably would have won and maybe did win more had elections and counting been fairer (a month after that state’s primary was held they were still counting ballots in California!).
The deck was clearly stacked against Sanders’ campaign by a Democratic National Committee leadership that was solidly committed to Clinton and used every trick in the book, from scheduling primary debates at inconvenient times for viewers, like during the Superbowl, to shutting down the Sanders campaign’s access to voter contact records for a time, by a media that never ceased to disparage Sanders, first with red-baiting, then with false stories implying ignorance or incompetence, and finally, in an orgy of pro-Clinton PR, publishing reports that Clinton had “clinched” the nomination while Californians and voters in six other states were still casting their ballots in the last primaries of the season.

Throughout the campaign the major corporate news organizations all continued reporting that Clinton had over 500 “super delegates” in her delegate total, an almost unassailable amount for Sanders to overcome, though in fact those delegates were not bound to vote for Clinton at all, but were elected Democrats, lobbyists and wealthy funders who had simply stated their preference for Clinton. By doing this, the media made it appear that Sanders never had a chance from the get go, though he actually came amazingly close to Clinton in pledged delegates without ever taking any corporate payola to fund his campaign.
Sanders, by deciding to cave and endorse Clinton – he argues questionably that he has to in order to prevent the possible election of likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump – has gravely diminished what he accomplished. As many left critics of his campaign long warned, by endorsing Clinton he will no doubt succeed in urging many of his millions of supporters to “hold their noses” and vote for Clinton in November, and will also demoralize others who may retreat into apolitical cynicism and not vote at all. But I suspect that at least 15-20% of his supporters – and that’s 2-3 million people – will be inspired to move on to a new kind of activism, backing the Green Party and its likely candidate for president, Dr. Jill Stein, as I plan to do.
. . . In an article in "Counterpunch" magazine, Stein praised Sanders for the campaign he ran in “undemocratic primaries,” which she said had shown clearly “how a grassroots campaign, armed only with a progressive vision and small contributions from real people, can win over the majority of Americans.” But she went on to write that by endorsing Clinton, he had become just “one of a long line of true reformers that have been undermined by the Democratic Party.”

But . . .

Don’t Blame Me If Trump Wins

Could the white-nationalist, misogynist, and arch-narcissist reality-show buffoon Donald Trump really become President of the United States? I doubt it but anything is possible.
. . . Perhaps the likelihood of a Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump presidency receded a bit three days ago when FBI Director James Comey made his blockbuster announcement that he would not recommend an indictment of Mrs. Clinton for her illegal and inappropriate use of a private email server to conduct government business when she was Barack Obama’s warmongering Secretary of State. An indictment would have sunk Hillary’s candidacy, energizing Bernie Sanders before the Democratic National Convention and possibly sparking establishment Democrats to cobble together an emergency Joe Biden-John Kerry ticket.
Still, Comey’s statement bluntly contradicted her Nixon-like deceptions on the matter and left no doubt that she engaged in scandalously criminal behavior. (Nothing new for the Clintons:  scandals follow them around like stink on shit). It gives Trump and the Republicans plenty to throw at “Crooked Hillary” through the general election.
At the same time, the non-indictment is an impeccable match for Trump’s charge that “the system is rigged” for the Democrats and the Clintons. How perfect is it for Trump’s accusation that Bill Clinton had a grotesquely tasteless airplane meeting last week with Comey’s boss, Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch? (Who seriously believes that Mr. Clinton and Ms. Lynch exchanged no thoughts on the potential election year political implications of an indictment?) That was made to order for Trump’s blustering about corruption, cover-ups, and dirty deals. So was Obama’s appearance at a campaign event with Hillary (in a contested state with lots of Black voters) just hours after Comey announced that Hillary would escape prosecution.
Who will be to blame if Trump prevails next November 8th? Not the minority of Sandernistas and more radical lefties who won’t be able to mark ballots for the right-wing fanatic, war hawk and arch-global corporatist Hillary Clinton in contested states. If we must point fingers on the left, I think a more worthy culprit in a Donald Trump victory would be leading leftists who counsel us every four years to hold our noses and vote for the hopelessly corporate, corrupt, and imperial Democrats as the Lesser Evil (LE) It’s kind of hard to expect the Dismal Dollar Dems (DDD) to be less disastrously corporate, neoliberal and imperial when top DDDs know that top progressive luminaries will have their electoral back (in the name of LE voting [LEV]) once every 4 years.
The ever more nauseating rightward drift of the DDDs that is aided and abetted by LEV in the absence of serious movement building on the left is part of the context that lets Republicans absurdly suck up populist, working class anger. As the Green Party’s presidential candidate Jill Stein (who rightly calls for Hillary’s felony indictment) told me last February, “Lesser Evil strategy requires you to be silent, to turn your voice over to a corporate-sponsored politics, to a corporate-sponsored party. The politics of fear delivers everything we are afraid of by entrusting the fox to guard the chick coup. Silence is not an effective political strategy.

And besides the Lesser Evil invariably paves the way for the Greater Evil
.” Stein cited the right-wing Congressional election victories of 2010, which reflected mass popular anger and disgust with the corporate-neoliberal Obama’s failure to pursue a remotely progressive agenda when he enjoyed Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and an angry citizenry ready to punish the plutocracy. Obama responded by acting to protect the bankers and “throw [ordinary middle and working class] people over the cliff.” By 2014, Stein noted, just a third of electorate came out to vote since “Lesser Evilism gives nothing to vote for. Eighty percent of young people stayed home. Labor stayed home. A lot of women stayed away…People don’t come to vote on what they fear,” Stein observes. “They vote on what they’re for.”
The bigger culprits are the corporate and imperial Democrats themselves, of course. Trump may be atrocious, flippant, idiotic, and disgusting on numerous levels. Still, he’s not wrong when he points out that the Democrats have sold the nation’s working class down the river in the name of “free trade.” The Clintons’ noxious embrace of the North American Free Trade Agreement – a disaster for the U.S. working class – and Obama’s revolting championing of the arch global-corporatist, arch-authoritarian and darkly secretive Trans Pacific Partnership speak volumes about neoliberal-era Democrats’ deep enmeshment in the perverse politics of the financial Few over and against the Many and the common good.
Trump’s not wrong when he says that Hillary’s foreign policy positions and actions have sown chaos and disaster in the Middle East, specifically in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. And Trump’s not wrong when he says that Hillary and her husband have a long and terrible record of corruption reaching back to Whitewater, up through Benghazi and the email scandal, the atrocious globalist Clinton Foundation, and the Big Creep’s unseemly airport encounter with Loretta Lynch last week. The preposterous Trump’s cynical take on the shady, scheming, and elitist Clintons, Obamas, and other top Democrats is all too sadly rooted in reality.
It’s an epitome of the long neoliberal New Gilded Age. The ugly nativist tycoon and enemy of the working class Trump is absurdly permitted to pose as a friend of the working man. He gets to do this not simply through sheer cunning and devious, populism- and racism-/nativism-manipulating campaigning but also thanks to the vicious state-capitalist and imperial corruption of the nation’s not-so leftmost major political party, which has abandoned the working class over many decades of rightward drift championed by (guess who?) the Clintons.As privileged and pretentious upper and professional class (neo)liberal Dem elites give white Joe Six Pack the usual Goldman Sachs-financed middle finger and fake-progressively promote the bourgeois identity politics of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender (Obama’s campaign appearance with Hillary in Charlotte was a case study), much of the struggling and angry working and middle class is left like low-hanging fruit to be snatched up by a fake-populist billionaire demagogue like Trump.
As the left activist and writer Tom Wetzel recently commented to me online, “It seems lately that identity politics has come to function a lot as a mask for professional/managerial class disparagement of the working class.” In Iowa City in 2007 and 2008 it was very pronounced to me from numerous conversations that upper-middle class professionals’ and students’ eager readiness to vote for a Black presidential candidate – a certain unthreatening and bourgeois kind of Black candidate like Obama – was strongly connected to their disdain of the white working and lower classes. It was part of their professional/managerial/coordinator-class identity. Some of that same ugly energy is now afoot in this election cycle in relation to gender and Hillary. Is it any surprise that much of the contempt is dangerously returned?
Meanwhile, much of what passes for a progressive left in the U.S. operates from a meek calculus that perplexingly privileges fear of the rightmost party over real existential challenges (as in “do X or we will withhold voting support for you and thereby cost you the election”) to the other major party in the winner-take-all U.S. elections and party system. This contributes to the deadly vacuum of genuinely progressive voices for the legitimate “populist rage” and alienation of the nation’s working class majority. Resentment abhors a left democratic vacuum. In steps a Le Pen, a Trump, and, at the historical worst, a Hitler, to take ugly advantage of the sad silence/silencing of the left.

And it gets worse.

It’s been an action-packed week in politics. Hillary Clinton has been given the official all-clear by the FBI, who have said she won’t have to face charges for the Clorox cleaning job she did on her email server. And with her path to power given the personal red carpet treatment by FBI director James Comey, the fact that a hundred thousand votes or so have yet to be counted in California has been swept under the high thread count rug — where a lot of inconvenient votes end up these days! But the missing emails and votes haven’t been forgotten by our resident sleuth, Greg Palast. In this week’s "Best Democracy Money Can Buy:  Election Crimes Bulletin" he gives Dennis J. Bernstein the skinny on Sanders’ stolen California win, Clinton’s bleached communications — and a multi-million dollar Kazakhstan bribery and corruption scandal that got Cloroxed with them!

TRANSCRIPT (Originally broadcast on July 6, 2016)
Dennis J. Bernstein: There has been a lot going on. We’ve got the announcement today that Hillary Clinton will not be indicted, after a little visit that Bill had with the Attorney General. There is still some left over results that we’re trying to figure out in terms of what happened in California. And you’ve got a big event coming up. So there’s a lot to talk about. Why don’t we start back in California?
Greg Palast: Well, I was reading something called The Washington Post, which is like the American Izvestia, and it said, “Greg Palast made a mistake.” Because I had announced on your show — we’re infamous now — that 2 million ballots were not counted when they declared Hillary Clinton the winner in California with 100% of precincts reporting. In fact, there was 2 million ballots that were uncounted, according to the Secretary of State, on the night that CNN announced that 100% of the results were in. And that doesn’t change, even if The Washington Post doubts it.
Even today, one month after the primary, over 100,000 ballots have yet to be counted — provisional ballots, what we call placebo ballots, which have a danger of not being counted at all. I was also attacked in The Washington Post — I’m not being defensive about this, I just want to correct the record — because I said on this show that the majority of the provisional ballots were, given the demographics, likely Bernie Sanders voters. And I was accused of being The Great Carnac and knowing how people voted without seeing their ballots. No, it was demographics. In fact, of the provisional ballots which have now been counted exactly 75.0%, 3 out of 4 ballots, went for Bernie Sanders.

Read the entire essay here.

Hillary’s Email Scandal:  The Teachable Moment that Wasn’t

Hillary Clinton’s email scandal may go down as one of the most superficially reported events in recent history. Aside from the poor quality of most news coverage, journalists also obscured the broader lesson of how political elites manipulate national security laws for their own benefit. Most all news stories in recent days relied on the comments of FBI Director Comey that Clinton communicated classified information by email, even if (as she has long stated) most-all the information she drew upon was from State Department briefings and documents that were never marked as classified (Politico, “FBI Findings Tear Holes in Hillary Clinton’s Email Defense,” July 6, 2016).

A July 5th report from the New York Times (“What We Know about Hillary Clinton’s Private Email Server”) stated that of “30,000 emails” examined, “8 chains included top secret information,” while “36 included secret information” and “8 included confidential information” – totaling 52 classified emails. A July 5th report from recounts that “more than 2,000 of the 30,490 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department contained classified information, including 110 emails in 52 email chains that contained classified information at the time they were sent or received.”
It seems clear that the bulk of reporting on Clinton’s emails was severely flawed. Seldom was there a single news story I read that provided any real context for precisely why the FBI decided not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton, if she did in fact traffic in unsecured, classified information. For example, the New York Times reported (“FBI Director James Comey Recommends No Charges for Hillary Clinton on Email”) on July 5th that:  “To warrant a criminal charge, Mr. Comey said, there had to be evidence that Mrs. Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information.

The F.B.I. found neither, and as a result, he said, ‘our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.’” But the Times never bothered to reference the applicable national security laws in this case, and its July 5th report also included Republican claims from Congressmen Paul Ryan and Charles Grassley that Clinton may have or did violate national security law. In light of such superficial and contradictory coverage, it was easy for supporters and opponents of Clinton to draw whatever conclusions they wanted.
Then there’s the Washington Post’s main report (“FBI Recommends No Criminal Charges in Clinton Email Probe”) on July 5th, which quoted Comey’s claim that:  “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Comey’s comment about “potential violations” of national security law was pounced on by conservatives, who took it as clear evidence that the FBI was rolling over for Clinton, despite her illegal actions, when it should’ve called for criminal charges.
But is there actual evidence that Clinton’s actions violated federal law? Comey’s comments could easily be interpreted to suggest that she violated the law. But it’s also difficult to take Comey’s claim about “potential violations” of the law too seriously, especially when he cited no specific violations of federal law. Comey is a Republican appointee, who has a clear political axe to grind in this case. He severely undercut his credibility by hemming and hawing with his contradictory statements that there were “potential violations” of the law, but that he would not recommend prosecuting them.

In his and the FBI’s estimation, did Clinton violate the law or didn’t she? For a year-long intensive investigation involving thousands of man hours, is it asking too much for him to take a stance on this simple question? Since major media outlets simply reported Comey’s contradictory statements without question, the central question about the legality of Clinton’s actions was swept under the rug.
. . . Ultimately, I fear that the most important lesson of all has been lost in the obsession with Clinton’s emails. Clinton’s actions, like that of Berger and Petraeus, speak to how those with political power are able to sweep their actions under the rug, while those without power are hammered into the ground when they challenge the state. Legal infractions are dealt with via kids gloves when the powerful violate the law (or potentially violate it in the case of Clinton), but when whistleblowers like Bradley/Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden leak information in the name of the public good, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The Sanders Sell-Out and the Clinton Wars to Come

By Gary Leupp
July 14, 2016
The worst disservice Sanders has done to his supporters, other than to lead them on a wild goose chase for real change, is to virtually ignore his rival’s vaunted “experience.” He need not have mentioned Hillary Clinton’s Senate record, since there was nothing there; her stint as law-maker was merely intended to position her for a run for the presidency, according to the family plan. But there was a lot in her record as Secretary of State.
As she recounts in her memoir, she wanted a heftier “surge” in Afghanistan than Obama was prepared to order. Anyone paying attention knows that the entire military mission in that broken country has been a dismal failure producing blow-back on a mind-boggling scale, even as the Taliban has become stronger, and controls more territory, than at any time since its toppling in 2001-2002.
In her memoir she criticizes Obama for not doing more to oust the secular Assad regime. She has repeatedly stated during her campaign that she favors a no-fly zone over Syria, like the one she advocated for Libya. That means conflict with Russia, which is bombing sites in Syria, with the permission of its internationally recognized government, under what Russia’s leaders (and many rational people) consider to be terrorists’ control.
Sanders – sorry, I cannot call him “Bernie” anymore, since he has become precisely as avuncular as Dick Cheney — could have effectively attacked Hillary the Skjaldmær (Old Norse for “Shield-maiden,” referring to an often berserk warrior-woman) for her role in the destruction of Libya. But no! Always referring to her deferentially as “Secretary Clinton” – as though her actions in that role merit respect — he rarely alluded to her greatest crime at all. That’s unforgivable.
(Yes, in one debate he mentioned Libya in passing – timidly, and with no follow-up. While he repeatedly mentioned how The Secretary had voted for the Iraq War and he hadn’t, he hardly exuded moral outrage about that or any other Clinton decision. His campaign was all about her Wall Street ties and well-paid, secret talks, the transcripts of which he once wanted to see but has now apparently lost interest. It was never about “foreign policy,” which is supposedly her forte. He may call himself a “socialist,” but he’s no anti-imperialist. He has voted in favor of every “defense spending” bill, supported the NATO assault on Serbia in 1999, supported Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014, etc.)
He could have attacked Clinton savagely – with the savagery of mere matter-of-fact honesty – by citing those emails exchanged between Clinton and her vicious confidant and former adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter, in which the latter — under the subject line “bravo!” – congratulates her on engineering Obama’s agreement for the bombing of Libya. (On March 19, 2011, as the bombing of Libya began, Slaughter wrote:  “I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be after this week, but I have NEVER been prouder of having worked for you. Turning [Obama] around on this is a major win for everything we have worked for.”
He could have asked, “Why the hell did you appoint Dick Cheney aide Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Eurasia, and support and fund that coup in Ukraine in 2014 in your goddamn ambition to expand NATO?"
But no. He didn’t have it in him. And now he wants his youthful erstwhile followers to transfer their support to someone who is not only the embodiment of Wall Street, with all its blood-sucking and all its crookedness, but the personification of U.S. imperialism in an era when its depth of crisis has produced a state of perpetual war.
Savvy people in Syria and elsewhere surely understand what the Sanders endorsement means:  Syria is the next Libya.
Hillary in the Oval Office, Binyamin Netanyahu at her side, will laugh as Assad gets her knife up his ass, chaos deepens, the draft is re-instated, and boys and girls – of all ethnicities, gay and straight together – march off to fight the Brava Wars drastically reducing youth unemployment and making legions more eligible for the GI Bill.
Feel the burn. The burn of the rigged system. Why be drawn into it — the object of Hillary’s praise, for switching so readily from him to her (for the sake of “unity”)?
What is there to unite with, but more corruption, exploitation, and wars based on lies?
The votes that matter are the votes on the street. Either Trump or Clinton will provoke mass upheaval. The key contribution of the Sanders campaign has been to lay bare for idealistic youth the magnitude of the rot in the system itself, while raising (however dishonestly) the prospect of “political revolution.”
It’s the hope Sanders has sold out. But yes, that’s what we need. Social, economic, and political revolution. Too bad he’s chosen the other side.

U.S. Banking Is a Clone of Society:  One-Tenth of One Percent Have the Bulk of the Wealth

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

July 13, 2016
Logos of Wall Street Banks
The two greatest periods of wealth inequality in the United States (the 1920s and today) have one critical element in common – there was no Glass-Steagall Act. The absence of the Glass-Steagall Act allows Wall Street banks to use the savings of small depositors across the United States to fuel risky speculation on Wall Street and create the super rich. After the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, the Glass-Steagall Act became law and put an end to this institutionalized wealth transfer system from the legislation’s enactment in 1933 until its repeal in 1999 under the Presidency of Bill Clinton.
Today’s banking system is a perfect reflection of U.S. society. Just six banks (one-tenth of one percent of the 6,000 insured-depository banks in the U.S.) control the bulk of total assets while, as Senator Bernie Sanders regularly reminds his audiences, in American society “the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.”
Until the public wakes up to the reality that banking concentration is producing the wealth concentration and restores the Glass-Steagall Act, poverty, despair and the unraveling of social order will continue apace while another epic financial crash hovers just over the horizon.

Have you already conveniently put out of your mind Hillary's 6 years on the Wal-Mart Board of Directors? Did you know she was the first women to be invited to join it? Do you have any inkling as to the effect the policies she helped them arrive at have had on women, unions and the U.S. economy for the last 30 years? You won't learn about her history from Wal-Mart as they refuse to release the minutes from the meetings where she was present. Sound familiar?

Vanishing the People’s Wealth to Make the Bosses Richer

Imagine you are a shareholder in a big company and the top executives are sitting on huge amounts of cash and are not interested in putting it to work through productive capital investments, research and development, reducing company debt or paying employees a higher wage. What would you want done about it? Since you and other shareholders are the owners of the company, you’d likely say “give us back our money in cash dividends.”
“No way,” say your hired hands, the company managers, who have spent a staggering $2.1 trillion of your money in the last five years on stock buybacks allegedly to increase the company’s earnings per share ratio, instead of increasing shareholder dividends. Overall this tactic has not been working over time except to make the corporate bosses richer, which is the real reason for many buybacks.
What is the incentive for this cash burning frenzy? According to University of Massachusetts scholar, William Lazonick, in 2012 the 500 highest-paid executives received 52% of their remuneration from stock options and another 26% from stock awards.
Call it self-interest, or conflict of interest with their shareholder-owners, they continue to get away with this massive heist, this clever transfer of wealth. They do not need to get the approval of their owners – the stockholders – under what is called the “business judgement rule” (BJR). Developed by corporate attorneys and adopted with few boundaries by the Delaware courts – the state where corporate bosses go for pioneering leniency – the BJR strips the owners of corporations of meaningful control over the company executives and boards of directors other than to sell their stock, thereby leaving the rascals in charge.
. . . How’s that for a legally entrenched entitlement during a growing decades-long corporate crime wave that largely goes unprosecuted by politically and budgetarily strapped enforcement agencies? A crime wave that in 2008 brought a criminally-speculative, self-enriching Wall Street down, draining trillions of dollars in pension fund and mutual fund assets – the very institutions that owned the most shares on the major stock exchanges!
Making matters worse, as "Business Insider" concludes, “all the evidence shows that – in recent years – they’ve [stock buybacks] not actually helped boost the stock values at all.” The bosses are eating the company’s seed corn. Indeed, before 1982 when the obeisant Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened the floodgates for this executive rampage, buybacks were illegal. They were considered insider trading by the top company executives.
How do these trillions of dollars of inert money accumulate? From conniving management that doesn’t know how or want to deploy it to increase the value of the company and its stakeholders. The money flows from consumers, taxpayers (corporate welfare) and from the sacrifices of workers whose needs and increased productivity could be rewarded with better pay and pensions.
Walmart’s buyback binge brings the impact closer to Hometown, USA. The company, whose controlling stock is held by the super-rich Walton family, has spent $70 billion in stock buybacks since 2004. Its poorly paid laborers, often without full-time hours, have a high turnover rate and cannot make ends meet for their families, not to mention a harsh paucity of benefits.
. . . Massive stock buybacks have bizarrely resulted, since the mid-1980s, declares Mr. Lazonick, in corporations “funding the stock market rather than vice versa. Over the past decade net equity issues of non-financial corporations averaged minus $376 billion per year.” So much for stock markets raising investment capital.
In 2009, President Barack Obama pushed through Congress a modest $831 billion stimulus bill spread over a decade. The money was allocated to federal tax incentives, infrastructure, education and expansion of social welfare benefits such as unemployment compensation.
Republicans in the Congress hit the ceiling, attacking the bill as wasteful government spending. In a private enterprise, free market economy, they say it is not the government’s business to create jobs. Apparently, their big corporate paymasters believe that it’s not the business of business to use trillions of dollars of profits to create jobs either.

Yes. He was dead wrong.

Comey's relationship with Hillary Clinton (or her "owners") becomes clearer and clearer as we read through the latest prosecuting attorney's raison d'etre for his words and actions.

5 Reasons Comey Hearing Failed America

Why it Matters the Dallas Police Used a Drone to Kill Someone in America

By Peter Van Buren

July 14, 2016
The Dallas police ended a standoff with the gunman who killed five officers with a tactic that is unprecedented:  it blew him up using a robot.
This represents the first time in American history that a drone (wheels for now, maybe wings later) was used to kill an American citizen on American soil.

. . . I am suggesting we stop and realize that in 2016 the police used a robot to send in an explosive to blow a person up. I am unaware that such a thing has happened in Russia, North Korea, China, Iran or other places where the rule of law is held by the few in power.
The robot represents a significant escalation in the tools law enforcement use on the streets of America. Another weapon of war has come home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the isolated case of the sniper, dead may be dead, whether by explosive or rifle shot. But in the precedent set on the streets of Dallas, a very important line has been crossed.
Here’s why this is very bad.
As in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is clear that an escalation in force by the police can only serve to inflame a situation, and trigger a subsequent escalation among those who will then seek to defend themselves against robots sent against them. In America’s wars, the pattern of you use a drone, I plant an IED is all to familiar. Will person being blown up by the cops likely soothe community tensions, or exacerbate them? Did the use of other military weaponry calm things in Ferguson, or encourage the anger there to metastasize into other locations?
And will robots increase or decrease the likelihood cops will employ more force sooner in a situation?
“The further we remove the officer from the use of force and the consequences that come with it, the easier it becomes to use that tactic,” said Rick Nelson, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former counterterrorism official. “It’s what we have done with drones in warfare. Yet in war, your object is always to kill. Law enforcement has a different mission.”

July 12, 2016

The American Tipping Point. . . . 

by Kirby Evans
I grew up in the States in the turbulent times of the 1960s and early 70s. As a young child I lived in Detroit during the infamous riots there. My family also lived in LA during the Watts riots. Major race riots seem to break out in the US ever twenty years or so. And politicians and activists talk about how important it is to change things, and after the furor dies down nothing seems to change.
Actually, strike that. Looking at what is going on in the US this week, I realize that what has changed is that the police are now more like a paramiltary strike-force than a civilian police force. Take a look at video of protests in Baton Rouge and you can see just how much things have changed. You can find some video at the facebook page of Revolution News here. But this video is even more frightening.
This video lays bare all the hypocrisy of US politicians who are talking about peace and reconciliation. Talk of change, talk of peace, talk of community cooperation is utterly empty while you are using paramilitary forces in the face of peaceful protests! Putting armoured vehicles in communities flanked by military men armed in many cases with assault rifles is a demonstration of the very things against which people are protesting, and will lead to nothing good. There is a terrible and painful irony in the fact that in the face of state violence which is out of control (in the continual killing and violence against blacks), the state's response is to double down and ramp up the very image and nature of the violence.
One needn't be an expert in political history to understand that this is a "third-world" response. I lived in El Salvador during the 90s just after the civil war there ended. I heard so many stories from regular people who hadn't been active or political but eventually became so as the State's response to protests became more and more violent. This is exactly what is happening the US today. When the state makes it clear that their agenda is military and violent, people who might otherwise watch from afar will understandably begin to question the real goals of the state. Not only has the US government ramped up the violence with their response but they have set in motion an inevitable legitimation crisis in the country as a whole. And sadly, they have also established a precedent that will further divide the country in an already divisive time.
Looking back on the periodical racial tensions that have divided America over the past century, it seems that this is not just another blip on the screen of American racial problems. Rather, this is finally the moment when the paramilitary nature of the US state has been laid bare and the descent of the most powerful nation in the world into the chaos of a banana-republic-style dictatorship.

This is, as they say, the tipping point. America and Americans will never be the same. 

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