All politicians, like all human beings, shade the truth, use evidence selectively, recast the emphasis of events to cast themselves in a more favorable light.
But what we are seeing here is a campaign that, with not one iota of moral conscience, has reached into the playbooks of Big Brother, Joseph Goebbels, and Soviet Russia and simply fabricated an entire false narrative. This is not a case of spin, or deceptive evasion, or clever rhetorical jujitsu; it is not a case of the subtle or clever lie intermixed with the truth.
Get yer red-hot deplorables here?
Sorry to come right out and say it . . . but it certainly seems like they are all in it together (at least they must be as no trio of clowns could have a more perfectly-coordinated circus act that seems entirely accidental, or better yet, coincidental). And you may remember that neither Jethro nor I believe in coincidence. And certainly not at this level.
The impending sense of fear we all are encouraged to feel daily by the words and actions of the Trump and Clinton campaigns* must be an orchestrated Do-si-do.
Because no one sensible could believe the purported goal of Trump to abolish hard-fought-for consumer-protection institutions like the FDA, EPA, OSHA . . . (and even the Education Department), let alone the economic plans to join the deeply unpopular TPP/CETA/TTIP/ISDS international corporate "trade" agreements, as well as the outright neo-con war plans' "moral rottenness inherent in the 'humanitarian interventionist' soul" constantly re-announced by Hillary (and Obama - let alone Trump) could possibly be their real program(s) in these increasingly perilous times. Speaking of real - none of them have even taken any type of truly courageous position on the need for seriously addressing the slowing down of the energy mechanisms bringing on massive climate change.
Their real programs? Don't be surprised that they never will be publicly announced.
Democrats and Republicans actually compete to see which party can provide the Israeli military with larger aid packages. Presently, that ethnocratic settler state gets some $3.1 billion a year. Obama wanted to raise the amount over the next ten years, starting with $3.3 billion in 2018. Republican Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees the foreign affairs budget thought that wasn’t enough, and therefore held up the deal.
Now, the deal is done. Israel will get $38 billion over the next ten years, a military aid package unprecedented in American and world history. Amazing!
Netanyahu benefits from an American accent and an American high school and university education; and he appoints Americans to be his emissaries in the United States. No wonder he is beloved by the likes of Lindsey Graham. Other potential demons are not so fortunate. Arabs are especially unlucky – or, rather, they would be, but for oil money.
Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies are led by reactionary autocrats every bit as loathsome as Netanyahu, and even more inclined to violate basic principles of political morality. Their leaders are demons right out of central casting. But their fortunes are so tightly intertwined with the fortunes of leading American capitalists that even without the functional equivalent of an Israel lobby, the propaganda system cannot touch them.
And did you hear the latest reasoning about how Trump has done Obama a birth-certificate proof favor? To call this line of attack Orwellian is a misbegotten compliment amid this madness. Trump's charitable contributions, however, put him ahead in the coveted clown coven competition.
As the "Washington Post" reported this week, Donald Trump's record as a treasurer of God's bounty has been to take from everyone and keep everything for himself. Despite his boasted billions and voluble public assertions of munificence, his only discoverable charitable contributions of note have been made entirely with other peoples' money._ _ _ _ _ _ _
. . . And don't count on the weak comfort that those around him will somehow prevent him from carrying out his instant insights: the utter cravenness of his acolytes was perfectly on display this week when his minion Rudy Giuliani scurried to second Trump's nostalgic assertion that (referring to his insistence that America should have seized Iraq's oilfield for itself) "it used to be to the victor belong the spoils." Giuliani chimed in by affirming that "anything is legal” in war.
Actually, that doctrine — encapsulated in the medieval Latin maxim Inter arma leges silent (in time of war the law is silent) — began to go by the boards about 600 years ago, when admiralty courts in the 14th century began asserting jurisdiction over the legality of captures of enemy ships at sea. It has been completely cast aside in the last two centuries by Winfield Scott's General Orders No. 20, the Treaty of Paris, the Geneva Conventions, and the U.S. Code of Military Justice. Those were things America at least used to be proud of.
It's no coincidence that Trump knows literally nothing and cares nothing about the worlds beyond fame and fortune, in which he has succeeded by bluster, braggadocio, hype, and shortchanging small tradesmen and investors alike. His sole measure of the worth of what a commentator has to offer is what his ratings are. His sole measure of the greatness of a foreign leader is what his poll numbers are. His sole measure of scientific truth is what assertions on Twitter get a lot of responses. His idea of a "university" is a place to soak people with a get-rich-quick scheme. His idea of charity is taking credit for others' generosity. His idea of culture is a resort decorated like one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. And his idea of the Constitution is something to say he's really, really for, without apparently having read or understood the principles it embodies.
* Back in 2008, when Wall Street demanded a bailout with no strings attached, mainstream Republican President Bush devotedly accommodated the banksters as did Democratic presidential candidate Obama. But Republican presidential candidate McCain thought that some conditions should be put on this gift of free money from the American tax payers._ _ _ _ _ _ _
That is when former CEO of Goldman Sachs and architect of the bailout, Hank Paulson – incidentally serving as Bush’s treasure secretary – blackmailed McCain to either genuflect to Wall Street, or Paulson would come out publicly for Obama. Wall Street got the bailout and later trillions of dollars more under Obama’s “quantitative easing.” The financial elite migrated en masse to the new Democrats.
That migration continues with Hillary Clinton, Wall Street’s anointed retainer. Unlike in the past when the big financial interests hedged their bets by contributing to both Democrats and Republicans, the smart money is going to the donkey party in 2016.
Not that we believe it to be the "paper of record" anymore, but . . .
NYT: "BREAKING NEWS - Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Are Virtually Tied in the Presidential Race, According to the Latest "New York Times"/CBS News Poll"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
URGENT! How George Bush “beat” John Kerry in 2004: Ken Blackwell’s secret CONTRACT with Mike Connell, to rip off Ohio’s vote
The Connell/Blackwell contract is for setting up a “new interactive Election Night website” that would not just enable Blackwell to monitor the statewide vote-count in real-time, but also feed that data through a separate computer in Chattanooga, Tennessee, under the control of yet another private company called SMARTech, owned and run by a GOP operative (and evangelical) named Jeff Averbeck. Such is the computer-system architecture known as “man in the middle,” which is often used, by criminals and other shady players, for stealing and/or manipulating data.
The architecture map included here lays out the way the GovTech/SMARTech system worked on Election Night, 2004. (There also was a third private company involved in stealing the Ohio vote 6+ years ago: Triad Governmental Systems, located in Xenia, Ohio, and owned by the Rapp family — also Christianists.)
Needless to add, it’s way past time for an honest, well-informed discussion of America’s preposterous voting system, and the ways in which that system has, throughout the last ten years, been used time after time AGAINST the citizens of the United States — a people who have never shared the “values” of those Christianists OR libertarians who’ve largely hijacked both our state and federal governments. If those who’ve kept their eyes shut tight to all of this will open them at last, and take a good look at this latest evidence, it will jump-start that crucial national debate, which might just save America.
Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary (Robert Rubin) Had Been Recommended for 2008 Mortgage Meltdown Criminal Probe
Former Treasury Secretary and Citibank Chair Bob Rubin was cited by a special congressional panel as someone who should have been the subject of a criminal investigation for activities related to the 2008 subprime mortgage meltdown.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) had told the Justice Department that it should open an investigation of Rubin, Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton, for alleged securities fraud perpetrated as a member of Citibank's board.
Rubin was among nine executives recommended for a criminal probe by the FCIC that were cited in a letter sent Thursday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Warren asked the department auditor this week to look into why zero criminal inquiries were launched as a result of the FCIC recommendations, which were publicly disclosed for the first time earlier this year.
"An FCIC referral alone does not indicate guilt. And not every DOJ investigation results in a criminal conviction," Warren wrote. "Nonetheless, the DOJ record of action on these individuals, nearly six years after DOJ received the referrals, is abysmal."
"The DOJ has not criminally charged or taken any of these nine individuals to trial. None have been convicted or sent to prison," she added.
Last Thursday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that Wells Fargo was paying $185 million in fines and penalties for allowing its employees to open “more than two million deposit and credit card accounts” that were not authorized by its customers. The employees were attempting to “hit sales targets and receive bonuses.” In one of the most audacious forms of bank fraud, according to the CFPB, employees actually “transferred funds from consumers’ authorized accounts to temporarily fund the new, unauthorized accounts.” This resulted in untold numbers of customers being charged for insufficient funds in their legitimate accounts or paying overdraft fees.
If anyone ever doubted Senator Bernie Sanders when he repeatedly said during campaign stops that fraud has become a business model on Wall Street, that debate is over. According to the CFPB, this conduct at Wells Fargo went on for five years. Yesterday, Fortune’s Stephen Gandel reported that the woman who headed up this division at Wells Fargo, Carrie Tolstedt, will be “walking away with $124.6 million in stock, options, and restricted Wells Fargo shares.” Fraud is not only a business model but a road to riches for the overlords on Wall Street. Just ask John Paulson, Sandy Weill, Robert Rubin, John Reed, and Jamie Dimon.
Fake accounts are just the latest alchemy on Wall Street. Let’s not forget that Bernard Madoff was generating fake statements to thousands of clients showing that $65 billion in fake money was in their accounts as the industry’s top watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ignored the repeated warnings from whistleblower Harry Markopolos for years. But Ponzi schemers are not the only source of fake money on Wall Street. Just consider how the Federal Reserve secretly funneled $13 trillion in cumulative, below-market-rate loans to some of the most hubristic banks on Wall Street and on foreign shores during the 2007 to 2010 financial crisis. How did the Fed create that money without any appropriation from Congress? It simply pressed a button.
Wall Street is able to sustain its business model of fraud because it has fake courts to hear cases brought by its customers and employees. Wall Street is the only industry in America which universally requires by written contract that its customers and employees agree to use its private justice system prior to opening an account or getting a job. That system, called mandatory arbitration, is overseen by Wall Street’s crony self-regulator, Finra, and offers none of the protections of the nation’s taxpayer-funded courts where juries are randomly selected from a broad base of the population, decisions are based on case law, and higher courts can hear appeals. Gloria Steinem once called the system “McJustice.”
Then there are the fake regulators of Wall Street who seamlessly move from their multi-million dollar pay packages at corporate law firms to head the SEC and Justice Department.
This episode of Professor Wolff's radio show discusses declining US incomes, parental leave policies, rising medical deductibles and social security dependence. The show also includes an interview with Peter Ranis, author of Cooperatives Against Capitalism.
How about an eye-opener?
No. Not that kind.
Working with the government to suppress stories, covering up election fraud in the ruling party and ruthlessly campaigning against the main US opposition leader, "The New York Times" has sentenced itself to wither away into irrelevance. Remembered only in history books as a relic of the Cold War, much like its sister newspaper Pravda of the Soviet Union. "The New York Times" R.I.P.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Bill Keller at the "New York Times" building on Manhattan. Keller was the long time editor in chief of the newspaper and Sulzberger its proprietor. We met at what must have been the 50th floor of the company headquarters, on 8th Avenue. I write company headquarters, instead of newspaper, because this part of the building was accessible only through a separate elevator-system and was strictly off-limits for the regular "New York Times" reporters.
We spoke for about an hour and a half for the film "Mediastan" that I was shooting at the time, and now in hindsight, I’m both grateful and surprised by how honestly the administrative and real heads of the enterprise described the nature of their work. Grateful, because the degree of openness they exhibited is a rarity in the backrooms of journalism. Surprised, because what they were doing wasn’t journalism, at least not in the sense that I had been taught in journalism school in Sweden. No, the work that Keller and Sulzberger were describing was something entirely different, and as such it was a shame that this part of the building was off-limits to the journalists of their own newspaper. Because, as I would soon realize, the upper levels of the "New York Times" building was a place where a variety of important political decisions were negotiated and taken. A space, ironically, very far from scrutiny of the public eye.
The walls of the meeting-room were I sat down with Bill Keller and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. were adorned by signed portraits of important people that had visited this off-limits place. The editor at the company proudly explained that this was the “Hall of Fame,” and that "The New York Times" was like an embassy for important people from across the world. There was also the obligatory centrepiece – I had filmed the same thing so many times in the Middle East and in the Central Asian republics, but I must admit that I was surprised to see it here – at the head of the table was a framed and signed photograph of the president. The handwritten message on it said: “To Arthur - thank you for a memorable editorial board meeting. Barack Obama”.
This off-limits part of the building was not only where the president would sit in on editorial board meetings, it was also the place where Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was received when he successfully negotiated to be removed from “The Axis of Evil” list after 9/11. At that point in time "The New York Times" was still considered perhaps the most important publication in the world, and what it wrote was thought to have a direct impact on the life and death of nations. Because of this, many powerful people would put a lot of effort and money into gaining preferable coverage from "The New York Times."
These floors, Bill Keller told me, was where the proprietor and the editors of the newspaper would meet with and negotiate deals with powerful visitors. In retrospect, whatever “deal” that Gaddafi struck with "The New York Times," the exonerating article penned by Judith Miller didn’t save his life, nor did it save his nation from the might of the US Air Force.
Despite the brutal fate that Gaddafi came to face, the assumption that "The New York Times" was capable of making meaningful deals with governments was not entirely unfounded. Bill Keller spoke of how he successfully negotiated to freeze the NSA warrantless wiretapping-story uncovered by Eric Lichtblau for two years until after the re-election of George W. Bush. This top-floor was also where the Iraq WMD evidence was concocted with the help of the Pentagon and handed to reporter Judith Miller to pen, later letting her hang when the wind changed. This, Keller also told me, was where the CIA and State Department officials were invited to take part in daily editorial meetings when State Department cables were published by WikiLeaks. I would personally witness how this was the place where Sulzberger himself oversaw the re-election coverage of President Obama. And this was much later where the main tax-evaders of the US would make their cases so that the Panama Papers on their tax records would never reach the public eye (which at the time of writing, they have yet to be).
As a Swedish journalist, educated in large part on Anglo-Saxon literature, I had together with many of my peers seen "The New York Times" as a guiding star in standards of journalism. Its feat in publishing the Pentagon Papers - the proof that the United States had fabricated the reasons for going to war with Vietnam - was something that we read about in school, and it inspired me to want to work in the profession and uncover the dirty deals of my own government. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the very same paper had these special floors, off-limits to journalists, where the dodgiest deals with the dodgiest figures were being brokered, and that the heads of this newspaper were not even embarrassed about it. Rather, quite the contrary, they seemed to gloat.
After meeting with Keller and Sulzberger at "The New York Times," I felt a heavy sense of sadness about what I had witnessed. I felt sad for the staff of the newspaper, many of whom had gone through great risks for their profession and their audience. I felt sad for my generation of journalists who had been robbed of a role-model in journalism. And I felt sad for the American readers, many of whom still had no idea of what was happening on the top floors of "The New York Times" Building on 8th Avenue.
Since the last few months I am however no longer sad about any of this, for during the current election cycle in the United States, "The New York Times" has so clearly abandoned all rudimentary standards of journalism and alienated its readership so badly, that it has sentenced itself to wither away into irrelevance. Remembered only in history books as a relic of the Cold War, much like its sister newspaper Pravda of the Soviet Union.
As a Swedish reader of "The New York Times," I may be surprised that the paper has ignored election rigging in the governing party of the United States serious enough to cause its top five officials to resign. But it doesn’t really matter, since I can read the source material on it via WikiLeaks. As a foreign journalist I may be surprised that the paper has chosen to downplay the political bribes of the Clinton Foundation, but it makes little difference because the Associated Press has made the investigation available for me to report on.
As a citizen of a western democracy I may be surprised that "The New York Times" so clearly campaigns against Trump and for Clinton, rather than reports on the policy issues of the candidates, but I can ignore this since I can read and listen to what they say themselves, while I can get a variety of more enlightened and entertaining campaigns all over the blogosphere. If I were a US citizen however, I would be more than just surprised.
And this is where "The New York Times" has lost it. By dropping its veneer and abandoning its self-acclaimed standards of journalism, it has sentenced itself into irrelevance. Because even if the newspaper has steadily been outflanked by many blogs when it comes to audience size, it was until recently considered to be an important platform from which the US elites formed their world-view. But a newspaper with such a small reach, that is no longer taken seriously even by the main presidential candidates of its own country, a newspaper that doesn’t abide by the most fundamental journalistic standards, namely publishing rather than hiding newsworthy, correct information, has very little to offer either any powerful people or its own readers. Because even propaganda has to be good, for it to have any value.
The only question that now remains, is how history will remember the journalists of "The New York Times." Will they be judged leniently as people that just did their jobs, not knowing what they were doing? Or will they suffer the same fate as the thousands of Soviet journalists who lost their jobs when the charade at their Communist mouthpieces ended? I much suspect that it will be the latter. But I also suspect that much like the heads of the Soviet newspapers quickly adapted to the new rules and new rulers of the game while regular journalists were sentenced to life of unemployment, so will Sulzberger and Keller adapt to whatever will come while the staff of "The New York Times" will be sentenced to their very own “Hall of Shame”, much like already happened to their colleague Judith Miller when her services on propagating for war with Iraq was no longer required.
I enclose as a small eulogy the following email exchange with a couple of editors from "The New York Times." The emails are significant if only as examples of how the newspaper stopped living up to the most basic elements of journalism towards the end of its life. In them editors Bruce Headlam and Isvett Verde explain that "The New York Times" does not correct mistakes, does not grant the right of reply, and does not, as a matter of policy, publish material about its own censorship.
If you have any other documents pertaining to the demise of "The New York Times," please email them to me or send them to WikiLeaks. One of these days I will collect them for a proper obituary.
- Johannes Wahlström
The old adage that when one is already in a hole, one should stop digging, has apparently not found its way to the corner offices of Deutsche Bank. After a non-stop two years of scandals, the Bank has decided to take its shareholders on another heart-thumping cop car chase by publicly feuding with the U.S. Justice Department. After the Wall Street Journal reported in the wee hours this morning that the Justice Department was proposing a fine of $14 billion for Deutsche Bank’s involvement in tricking investors with toxic mortgage backed securities, the Bank had the tenacity to tell Reuters that it was planning to “fight” the demand. This negotiating tactic sounds a little like something that might have been taught at the Trump Institute.
In just the past two years, Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank with a large trading footprint in the U.S., has been terrifying widows and orphans – not to mention its shareholders. Two of its executives, William Broeksmit and Charles Gambino, hanged themselves. In June of this year the International Monetary Fund issued a report calling Deutsche Bank “the most important net contributor to systemic risks” on a global basis. In the same month, the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated that the U.S. unit of Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bank Trust Corp., had failed its stress test. The Fed cited “material unresolved supervisory issues” as one of the reasons for the failed grade.
Last year Deutsche Bank settled charges with British and U.S. authorities for $2.5 billion for rigging the interest rate benchmark known as Libor. It pleaded guilty to the U.S. charges.
In 2014 Deutsche Bank, along with Barclays, was the target of an investigation by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The duo had created an elaborate scheme to assist hedge funds in magically converting millions of short-term trades into long-term capital gains, a much lower tax rate, and thus ripping off the U.S. Treasury of tax revenue. Called “basket options” or MAPS at Deutsche Bank, the bank effectively loaned out its balance sheet to hedge funds to conduct billions of trades each year in trading accounts under the bank’s name, deploying massive leverage as high as 20:1 that is illegal in a regular Prime Brokerage account for a hedge fund client. The banks got paid through margin interest, fees for stock loans for short sales, and trade executions.
This was not the first time Deutsche Bank had engaged in tax dodge maneuvers. According to the final report of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, there had been a previous history of tax abuse. The report found the following:
“About ten years ago, Deutsche Bank became the subject of a series of investigations focused on its participation in abusive tax shelters from 1996 through 2002, which aided and abetted evasion of an estimated $5.9 billion in U.S. income taxes. On December 21, 2010, Deutsche Bank and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York executed a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) related to the bank’s involvement with the abusive tax shelters. Under the agreement, the bank paid more than $550 million to the United States, and the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed not to prosecute Deutsche Bank criminally for participating in abusive tax shelters benefiting its clients from 1997 to 2005, provided the bank met certain requirements.
“Those requirements included Deutsche Bank’s continued cooperation with the DOJ in its tax shelter prosecutions, and appointment of an independent expert to oversee bank reforms to ensure the bank stopped participating in transactions used to defraud the IRS. The NPA also banned Deutsche Bank’s involvement with any pre-packaged tax products, which were the type of tax shelters that led to the criminal proceedings.”
The Senate report raises a cloud as to why the Justice Department didn’t prosecute Deutsche Bank for what looks like a travesty of the terms of its Non Prosecution Agreement (NPA). . . .
Given its recent history and the pitchfork mentality of the U.S. public when it comes to out-of-control behemoth banks, railing against the U.S. Justice Department in print doesn’t seem like a particularly sound strategy for a serial recidivist.
In a 20-page letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, Michael E. Horowitz, Senator Warren asked for an investigation into why the DOJ had failed to indict any of the Wall Street executives that had been referred to it for potential criminal prosecution by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC). In a separate letter, Warren asked FBI Director James Comey for his related files.
The FCIC released thousands of documents in March of this year, showing that it had made multiple criminal referrals to the DOJ. Warren wrote in her letter:
“A review of these documents conducted by my staff has identified 11 separate FCIC referrals of individuals or corporations to DOJ in cases where the FCIC found ‘serious indications of violations[s]’ of federal securities or other laws. Nine individuals were implicated in these referrals (two were implicated twice). The DOJ has not filed any criminal prosecutions against any of the nine individuals. Not one of the nine has gone to prison or been convicted of a criminal offense. Not a single one has even been indicted or brought to trial. Only one individual was fined, in the amount of $100,000, and that was to settle a civil case brought by the SEC.”
This particular paragraph is a Pandora’s Box by a factor of $2.5 trillion. The two individuals Warren refers to who were “implicated twice” in the FCIC’s criminal referrals are Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary in the administration of Bill Clinton, who in the lead up to the crash of Citigroup in 2008 served as Executive Committee Chair of Citigroup’s Board of Directors. (After advocating for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed Citigroup to own both an insured depository bank, an investment bank and brokerage firm, Rubin went straight from his post as Treasury Secretary to the Board of Citigroup, where he collected $126 million in compensation over the next decade.)
The other individual whose name appears twice is Chuck Prince, Citigroup CEO during its implosion. A third Citigroup executive’s name appears as well on the list: Gary Crittenden, the Chief Financial Officer of Citigroup at the time of its crash.
One other individual’s name should have been on this list: Ben Bernanke, the Chair of the Federal Reserve who allowed the funneling of over $2.5 trillion in cumulative, secret loans to Citigroup during the crisis – despite the fact that it was insolvent and thus not legally eligible for the loans. Citigroup was the largest bailout recipient in the crisis, notwithstanding that its share price at one point reached 99 cents.
Sheila Bair, who was head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the crisis, confirms this point in her book, Bull by the Horns. Bair writes:
“By November , the supposedly solvent Citi was back on the ropes, in need of another government handout. The market didn’t buy the OCC’s [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that supervises national banks] and NY Fed’s strategy of making it look as though Citi was as healthy as the other commercial banks…Instead, the OCC and the NY Fed stood by as that sick bank continued to pay major dividends and pretended that it was healthy.”
Congressional testimony should also be demanded from John Dugan, a former lobbyist for JPMorgan Chase and the American Bankers Association who became head of the OCC in 2005 and reigned there throughout the crisis. Dugan now heads the Financial Institutions Group at Covington & Burling, the same law firm from which Obama plucked his DOJ Attorney General Eric Holder and its head of the criminal division, Lanny Breuer.
Covington & Burling is the same law firm that fronted for Big Tobacco for four decades and was called out for its unsavory role in a famous Federal court decision.
If Senator Warren is genuinely serious about getting to the bottom of this failure to prosecute, she also needs to demand that the Federal Reserve turn over the details of those 84 secret meetings that Bernanke held during the financial crisis and New York Fed President Tim Geithner’s 29 meet-and-greets with Citigroup execs, including the one where Sandy Weill, creator of Citigroup, offered Geithner a job at Citigroup.
There is strong evidence that long before the public was fully aware of the teetering condition of Citigroup, the Fed was propping it up with outrageously inappropriate support. On August 20, 2007, more than a year before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Federal Reserve granted Citigroup an exemption that would allow it to funnel up to $25 billion from its FDIC insured depository bank, Citibank, to mortgage-backed securities speculators at its broker-dealer unit. The Federal Reserve notes in its waiver letter that the bank “is well capitalized.” (Federal Reserve Exemption to Citigroup to Loan to Its Broker-Dealer, August 20, 2007)
It’s long past the time for the U.S. Senate to stop conducting isolated, piecemeal investigations and undertake the type of in-depth hearings that the Senate held from 1929 to 1932 that led to the public’s understanding of the serial criminal activities on Wall Street that had produced the Great Depression and which led to the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act — legislation which protected this nation for 66 years until its repeal in 1999 during the Bill Clinton administration.
BDS must not be uttered?
More post-Snowden BS?
Several days ago in what can only be described as a one sided political prisoner exchange, a quid pro quo of suffering, the craven New York City Council held a session to “debate” a proposed resolution on how best to convert constitutionally protected BDS speech and activity into per se anti-Semitism…a perverse leap of faith similar to the sinister shroud of supremacy worn by the Reichstag supporters of the 30’s at a time when today’s Palestinians, were yesteryear’s Jews.
In announcing that the peaceful and pure political speech of BDS was not constitutionally protected and now most unwelcome in New York City, the resolution’s sponsor inadvertently became the movements best salesman by correctly describing it as an international effort “to boycott, divest from and sanction the people of Israel (including) its academic, cultural, and civil society institutions.”
. . . witnesses describe an angry hate filled session; a public meeting filled with spit and Islamaphobic taunts coming from the largely vetted Zionist audience egged on, all the while, by their pet councilmen and women. To the pro Israeli, anti First Amendment bloc, the mere mention of any support of BDS triggered the all too familiar and convenient chorus of “anti-Semite”… even the half dozen or so rabbis who attended to voice their support for BDS and opposition to the Council’s attempt to stifle dissent were not spared J’accuse. It mattered not that the air was heavy with principle and calls for justice and a powerful example of protected participatory government at its best - it was anti-Semitic. It always is… whenever people dare to challenge Israel or its official narrative packaged and sold like none other.
Not long after it began, police moved in to clear the public session of its BDS supporters, those daring enough to display pro-Palestinian placards or flags; those foolish enough to believe that a City Council meeting was about dialogue and debate and not just a politically staged event to provide “participatory” cover for a decision long ago rubber-stamped through a well placed political contribution or bargained for exchange.
And as far as that son-of-a-bitch'ing President of the Philippines, Duterte's, Obama opinion goes:
When he ran for president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte was a mini-Donald Trump shooting from the hip to excite populist mob support for his presidential candidacy. Once in office, he followed up on his bloodthirsty rhetoric by encouraging a death-squad sweep through the island nation that has so far accounted for over two thousands assassinations or executions, whichever term one likes. Reports describe bodies appearing in the streets every morning with signs attached to them suggesting they were drug addicts or dealers — gruesome echoes from the late 70s and early 80s in El Salvador. Dubbed Dirty Harry in the tabloids, President Duterte applauds the piling up of corpses and deems his program a success because drug users are turning themselves in in droves, lest they be murdered. They end up jammed into overcrowded hell-holes. Some end up dead anyway.
As the “leader of the free world,” President Obama was touring Asia shilling for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He was eager to “send a clear message that, as a Pacific nation we [the United States] are here to stay.” He planned on visiting Duterte in the Philippines to scold the new leader on his murderous campaign, but he canceled that visit when Duterte gave a saliva-spitting speech in which he called the president “a son of a whore.” Given his tiny island nation is a client state of the powerful United States, after his insult-riddled speech, the volatile Filipino president reportedly began to suffer painful migraine headaches.
President Duterte has apparently called many people “a son of a whore,” including the Pope; and while "hijo de puta" in Spanish as spoken in the Philippines means son of a whore, it’s such a common expression it probably should be translated into English as son of a bitch. A prudent, cool-headed Obama shook off the choice insult. That is, he didn’t respond by calling Mr. Duterte a fish-eating wog or a psychopathic lunatic. Instead, the two men “exchanged pleasantries” at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane, Laos.
. . . The "hijo de puta" incident amounted to a skirmish in the Drug War. President Duterte’s draconian program of killing drug dealers and users without concern for justice or collateral damage amounts to our current Drug War policy taken to its “final solution” level. If the US has any moral weight in the world (which is a good question these days) the least President Obama should do is put the Duterte regime on a human rights violator watch list and somehow personally squeeze the president and his cronies without hurting the Filipino people. Sadly, if past is prologue, our lame duck imperial president will probably do as he has done with Egypt and Honduras, distract us from the murderous reality and run cover for the killers. The Ronald Reagan model from El Salvador remains the U.S. government standard: Every six months have Congress wink-and-nod and affirm the bloody regime in question has made progress — as the bodies pile higher and higher.
. . . The 2012 Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, hosted by conservative Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was an example of how a critical dialogue is overwhelmed by distracting stories. Santos and the delegation from Guatemala publicly advocated to attending President Obama for the legalization of drugs, emphasizing that the real problem was demand in his country, the United States; it was not the supply coming from or through their nations in Latin America. Mexico joined Colombia and Guatemala in advocated more discussion on this theme. U.S. demand created the enterprising, ruthless providers supplying that demand from Latin America; U.S. demand was contributing to the corruption in Latin America. The Latin American leaders wanted North Americans to take responsibility for their own problem. Of course, as with gangsterism in the 1930s under Prohibition, the incredible corruption and violence the Drug War had spawned had now become the problem.
Obama ignored the request, and the American people heard none of the important exchange. Instead, thanks to our media’s love of puritanism and sensationalism, we heard about Obama’s Secret Service detail getting laid by high-end prostitutes. There were also rumors floated that some of the president’s security detail had ingested drugs while in Cartagena.
. . . The beloved WWII antiwar veteran Kurt Vonnegut would say: “So it goes.”
Working to reveal, and undue, the atrocities of American history, great and small, is very frustrating work. It often feels like one is digging out the truth with a teaspoon. Once you un-earth a nugget of truth there’s always a shiny dump truck with ten tons of self-serving bullshit to unload on the effort. Little or nothing is done. So like Sisyphus and his rock, you hold your nose and keep working that little spoon.
A presidential election may not be the best time to accomplish anything like justice in America. It’s not called “the silly season” for nothing. Even more than normally, reality is shunted to the back of the bus. When such an extended struggle for power is played out on TV as a compelling reality show, who’s got the time to give a damn about those who have suffered injustices at the hands of the American war machine or the American criminal justice system?
You have to wonder whether it’s a genius of the system to encourage endless electoral campaigns that keep real governance off balance.
It becomes impossible to lobby governing leaders for change because they’re always busy campaigning for their lives. We’re dooming to listening ad nauseum to well-financed, slickly-produced food fights of petty nonsense. Meanwhile, militarism, corporatism and rising technology overwhelms the commonweal and violates it in the bushes.
Justice may be possible if people are willing to fight the way the Standing Rock Sioux are fighting in North Dakota today. The forces of repression, like all bullies, seek weakness and the easy push-over. So you want to make sustaining the status-quo as difficult and costly as possible for the bully. You want to avoid contributing to a vacuum of apathy and passivity.
By Joel S. Hirschhorn
September 13, 2016
For some years I have used the term “delusional democracy” to describe the condition of the US. It seemed obvious to me that the vast majority of Americans have deliberately chosen to fool themselves. They have been brainwashed to believe what no longer is true. Become convinced that you do not live in a true and terrific democracy, or that your democracy is the best in the world.
I stopped believing this myth many years ago. All the objective evidence I saw over fifty years of paying intense attention both as a citizen and someone who worked within the political system showed me that American democracy had steadily declined in quality, integrity and effectiveness. And now in this 2016 presidential race you have powerful and painful evidence that we are saddled with a delusional democracy. Thank Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for opening your mind and eyes to reveal this revolting truth.
Delusional democracy refers to delusional Americans. So this year the key question for you to consider is whether you still choose to keep falsely believing that American democracy is worth being proud of. I just cannot see how Americans can accept these two major party presidential candidates as reflecting a first rate democracy. They are, in fact, a major embarrassment that should make every American, regardless of their political party loyalty or previous political beliefs, cringe at the ugly reality that these two presidential candidates are worthy of any respect, loyalty or votes.
How could it come to this? Two world class liars. Two of the most widely known untrusted and untrustable unpopular politicians ever produced here or anywhere. Two sick narcissists in it for themselves, not the country.
The US political system produced this reality. A two-party duopoly serving the rich and powerful, corporate contributors and many special interests, but not the ordinary, general public is what we have had for a long time. What gave this nation awful economic inequality, destruction of good paying middle class jobs in manufacturing, and horrendous national debt also gave us these two losers. Can you settle into voting for the lesser of two evils, when each of the two evils makes you gag? Evil does not accurately describe these two options. Choose the lesser of two embarrassments, of two calamities, of two democracy destroyers.
Consider this way of thinking about this ugly reality. Once a democracy has become delusional playing the game of being responsible citizen and voting no longer makes sense. It is more like joining a criminal conspiracy to maintain the illusion that we have a legitimate democracy. Voting no longer is the path to have a revolution to restore American democracy. That is exactly where we have arrived. When most Americans have little respect and trust for Congress or just about every other institution and most believe we are on the wrong track, then how can you still cling to the belief that voting is what you can and should do? When it comes to Trump and Hillary how can you still keep deluding yourself that you live in a legitimate democracy worth voting in?
An important 2014 academic study of a huge number of policy actions found that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. In other words, voting by citizens does not shape our nation.
We do not have an authentic democracy. We have more of an oligarchy that is controlled by rich and powerful elites. Voting is a distraction, something to make you feel good and responsible. Of course, sometimes it looks like the general public gets what it wants. Yet “they fairly often get the policies they favor … only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically-elite citizens who wield the actual influence.” The big conclusion: “if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.” This fits my model perfectly: we have a delusional democracy.
Here is what I think is the correct action this year. Boycott the presidential election. Do not vote for anyone for president. What does this accomplish? It would create incredible historic data on very low voter turnout for the presidential election. It would send a clear message to both major parties, the political establishment, the media, and the whole world that Americans have recognized the truth about our delusional democracy. This could spark true political revolution for the next presidential election. You ask, depending on what you now believe, but how can I live with that awful Trump or that awful Hillary getting elected president? So be it. It is more important to create conditions for major, true political reforms than to worry about an awful person in the White House. We need a good long game. Worry less about how a president may harm our nation and more about the critical need to recognize and fix our delusional democracy by taking back the power that the power elites have had for a long time.
There is a wonderful graph on Wikipedia showing US presidential election turnout over history. From about 1840 to 1900 it was varying around 75 percent to 80 percent. Then it declined steadily until about 1920, and from then to recent times it varied from around 50 percent to 60 percent. My main point is that you need some imagination and think about the many impacts of reducing turnout to say 30 percent. The whole world would interpret that as the rejection by Americans of their political system. It would be an incredible historic shock having the potential to remove the legitimacy and credibility of the current two-party duopoly. Our corrupt, delusional democracy would have received a bullet. Demand for truly reforming and fixing our political system would take on energy. Remember, the historic data showed this sharp decline in turnout happening once before. It can happen again, with your help. Boycott this presidential election.
Fixing our democracy is far more important than your vote this year. Yes, you may feel bad that the candidate you most hated won your state and maybe the Electoral College, or that you did not show support for a third party candidate. But you can and should feel good that you have non-voted against the status quo, broken political system. Feel great that you want to fix our delusional democracy.
In so many other democracies the public create massive street protests and many times this kind of action produces political and government reforms. It has become clear that the street protest strategy has not and will not happen on a large enough scale to produce deep reforms in the US. Nor has forming new reform-oriented organizations done the job. It is far easier and more convenient for the vast majority of Americans to see the light and boycott this presidential election.
Vote for whatever else on your ballot is important to you. But boycott the presidential election. That non-vote is truly a message-vote and driving force for major political reforms. If you continue to believe that ordinary participation in elections will fix our nation, then you have not faced history and reality. You remain delusional.
Better to choose to make American democracy great again by standing up to a corrupt system.
By Paul Craig Roberts
September 13, 2016
There are many conspiracy theories about 9/11. The US government’s own expanation of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory in which a few Saudi Arabians outwitted the American national security state. Little doubt that many of the more imaginative conspiracy theories were created for the purpose of stigmatizing any skepticism, no matter how well reasoned and supported, of the official story.
When thinking about 9/11, it is important to differentiate expert opinion from improbable explanations.
Among the expert opinion are 2,600 structural engineers and high-rise architects who comprise Architects & Engineers for 9/11 truth and have written to Congress asking for a real investigation, Firefighters for 9/11 truth, Pilots for 9/11 truth, physicists and chemists who analyzed the dust from the twin towers and report finding reacted and unreacted materials used in controlled demolitions, and former government officials who understand that a security failure as great as 9/11 would have produced an immediate and exacting investigation.
These groups of qualified and experienced people say that the official story of 9/11 is false. Architects, engineers, and scientists say that the official story is physically impossible. Firefighters and WTC maintenance personnel say that there were numerous explosions within the towers and that the first explosions were in the sub-basements prior to the buildings being hit by airplanes. Experienced military and civilian pilots say the maneuvers of the aircraft are beyond the capability of the alleged hijackers. Both co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission and the legal counsel have written books in which they have said that information was withheld from the Commission, that the US government lied to the Commission, and that the Commission was set up to fail.
In other words, the hard evidence simply does not support the official story.
We know that the official story is false. We don’t know who is responsible or the purpose the event was intended to serve. However, circumstantial evidence strongly supports suspicion of the neoconservatives whose high positions in the government would have enabled them to succeed with a false flag attack and to delay and divert any investigation until the official story was set in stone. We also know from the “dancing Israelis” that elements in the Israeli government had advance notice of the attack as Israeli agents were set up ready to film the destruction of the twin towers.
Neoconservative position papers written in the 1990s called for “a new Pearl Harbor” in order to launch Washington’s wars for hegemony, first in the Middle East. These position papers signaled out Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Libya for attack prior to the event of 9/11. None of these countries had anything whatsoever to do with the official story of 9/11 that blames Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, a jihadist group set up by Washington in the 1970s to resist the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
None of these countries had jihadist governments. Iran has a muted form of Islamic law, but Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Assad in Syria headed secular governments. Yet, neoconservatives falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein had “al-Qaeda connections.” This lie and the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened the US were used to invade Iraq under the 9/11 banner. Then the rationale for the invasions changed. 9/11 dropped away, and the “war on terror” and “bringing democracy” took its place.
From my quarter century in Washington, it is clear to me that if such an event as 9/11 had actually happened for the reason given, the White House, Congress, and media would have been screaming for explanation of how a few Arabs outwitted the entire US National Security State—all 16 US intelligence agencies, the security agencies of Washington’s NATO allies and Israel, the National Security Council, Air Traffic Control, and airport security four times in one hour on the same day. Instead the government refused any inquiry for one year until most of the evidence was destroyed. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/09/government-hid-destroyed-911-evidence.html
That a few Arabs defeated US national security would be the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on a superpower, but no one was held responsible. This tells me that 9/11 was a State Crime Against Democracy.
9/11 was used by the US government to launch wars that have destroyed in whole or part seven countries, killing millions of peoples and producing millions of refugees. 9/11 was also used to create an American police state, which is a far greater threat to freedom and democracy than Muslim terrorism.
(Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.)
Myles · 1 day ago
First it was Bin Laden. Then it was Sadaam Hussein. Now it is the Saudis. Dr. Roberts linked article on deception makes sense. All of these foreign culprits blamed support the basic official story and deflect from any deeper investigation which would get closer to reality. The lies, deception, censorship, and propaganda have become so outrageous that people must suspect everything they are told and even shown, while paying close attention to the languages and images used and trying to note what is omitted. If they care. It is becoming quite tiring to try and discern what is true and real. Guides like Dr. Roberts, a gentleman with vast experience, are essential.
Mark A. Goldman 1 day ago
We know that there is no physical evidence that a passenger airplane hit the Pentagon ... no passengers, no seats, no luggage, no engines, no airplane. Same is true of the imaginary plane that supposedly hit the ground so hard that it buried itself and was never heard from again or dug up to retrieve the remains. There's not even evidence that passenger planes hit the twin towers ... when aluminum hits concrete and steel it's not aluminum that cuts through steel, it's aluminum that crumples up and falls to the ground. Then there's the chemical evidence of explosive and the witnesses who experienced explosions. We know enough to know we've been lied to and those lies were used to destroy the lives and happiness of millions, me included.
And, of course, there's never been a word of officially verified truth about all the stock market trades, put and call options, etc., yielding huge gains for shady participants from insider knowledge concerning airline and banking stocks, etc., in the days before the 9/11/01 attacks.