Thursday, May 30, 2013

(Time To Roll Over?) Senators Swoon Over Schmoozy Billionaire Babe (The 184-Page Financial Disclosure Under-Reported Pritzker's Annual Income by $80M) Congress Puts Out BIGTIME for Plutocrats (Heil CitiGroup!)

I'm thinking we've got to get everything documented (not really joking here) because the plethora of corruption is almost drowning out (to churn a metaphor) the reality of the coming trials (for both parties).

Why nominate a right-wing man (calling Goldman Sachs . . . Morgan Stanley!)when a right-wing woman will fulfill the gender requirement as well? (And she's so pretty. And rich!)

Years past the financial chicanery of those wretched "finance whiz" kids having been revealed in all its glory, we have a President (a left winger, according to the righties) who nominates one of them for Commerce Secretary.

I guess that means he has confidence in her ability to pick others' pockets: a skill much in demand in the USA! USA! USA! today.

Oh, and not only is she skilled in "business." She's also got a hand in Chicago charter schools. A very well-rounded resume for these "businessy" times, don't you think? (And a union buster to boot!)

In the early 1990s, she was on the board of a family-owned bank that was a pioneer in the subprime loan business. The Pritzker family bank, Security Bank in Illinois, was also a pioneer in packaging all-but-worthless loans into all-but-worthless securities that the bank sold to unsuspecting customers. Security Bank failed in 2001, at the time the largest bank failure in a decade. Accused of unsound financial activities and predatory lending, the Pritzkers agreed to pay the U.S. government $460 million in fines (over 15 years) – a settlement in which Pritzker and her bank naturally admitted no wrongdoing.
"It was the right thing for us to do, because both for the depositors and for us as a family," she testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on May 23.

Pritzker filed a financial disclosure statement with the Office of Government Ethics as part of her nomination process. The 184-page document under-reported Pritzker's annual income by $80,000,000. She blamed the $80 million omission on a "clerical error" when she filed a correcting amendment. No senator asked her about this error, perhaps feeling that it was the sort of $80 million omission anyone could make. None of the senators chose to put this omission in perspective by comparison with the $10 million lost by her uninsured bank depositors or with the bank failure's $236 million cost to U.S. taxpayers despite the settlement payment.

In the words of Nat King Cole:

"Fascism was a-coming in but fast!"

Er, "Summer."

President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that he will nominate Chicago business executive Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senators Swoon Over Billionaire Pritzker

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

29 May 13

Had she offered them her ring, they would have kissed it

hile the fawning millionaire courtiers who populate the United States Senate fall all over themselves to smooth the way for Chicago billionaire Penny Sue Pritzker Traubert to become the next Secretary of Commerce, one might wonder what the country is getting here. In terms of hope and change, for example, what might Pritzker (she goes by her maiden name) portend in light of her public record?
On May 2, President Obama nominated Pritzker, his formidable fund raiser for more than a decade, to fill the vacancy at the Commerce Department. With an estimated net worth of $1.8 billion, Pritzker, 54, is married to Dr. Bryan Traubert and they have two children, Rose Pritzker Traubert and Donald Pritzker Traubert. Pritzker is a graduate of Harvard College, 1981, and Stanford Law School, 1984.
In the early 1990s, she was on the board of a family-owned bank that was a pioneer in the subprime loan business. The Pritzker family bank, Security Bank in Illinois, was also a pioneer in packaging all-but-worthless loans into all-but-worthless securities that the bank sold to unsuspecting customers.

Security Bank failed in 2001, at the time the largest bank failure in a decade. Accused of unsound financial activities and predatory lending, the Pritzkers agreed to pay the U.S. government $460 million in fines (over 15 years) – a settlement in which Pritzker and her bank naturally admitted no wrongdoing.
"It was the right thing for us to do, because both for the depositors and for us as a family," she testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on May 23.
Pritzker filed a financial disclosure statement with the Office of Government Ethics as part of her nomination process. The 184-page document under-reported Pritzker's annual income by $80,000,000. She blamed the $80 million omission on a "clerical error" when she filed a correcting amendment.
No senator asked her about this error, perhaps feeling that it was the sort of $80 million omission anyone could make. None of the senators chose to put this omission in perspective by comparison with the $10 million lost by her uninsured bank depositors or with the bank failure's $236 million cost to U.S. taxpayers despite the settlement payment.

Pritzker: "I Feel Very Badly" About My Bank's Shady Practices
In a widely-used sound bite, Pritzker answered a softball question from South Dakota's Republican senator John Thune about her bank by saying: "… I regret the failure of Superior Bank, it's not an outcome or a situation, that I'm, you know, I feel very badly about that. The lessons that I learned are really about good management, good governance structure, the importance of diversification and risk management, transparency and good governance."
The Pritzker fortune, estimated at $19.5 billion, has been in litigation and negotiation for most of the past decade, and Pritzker has been in the thick of it. She is one of the eleven cousins and heirs who have been arguing over whether to preserve the fortune as a single entity or divide it among the cousins. Pritzker was a key negotiator in this argument, and its demands reportedly led her to withdraw from consideration as Commerce Secretary in 2008, when her name was floated as a possibility.
The cousins resolved their inheritance dispute in 2011, by dividing the fortune into eleven shares. Each of their cousins now ranks on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, from 159th to 359th (Pritzker is 263rd). Part of the complexity in the distribution of the fortune involved adjusting various off-shore holdings (such as trusts in the Bahamas) that allowed the family to achieve significant tax avoidance. For her efforts in this and other family financial arrangements, Pritzker received a payment of $53 million in 2012.
Forbes Suggests Congress Explore Pritzker Tax Haven Schemes
Writing for Forbes on May 18, Stephane Fitch described some of the intricacies of the Pritzker family finances, at home and abroad:

Congress could finally make public one of the grandest and most successful family tax-avoidance schemes ever – one that exposed some pretty significant blind spots in the laws that govern family trusts. Congress should ask some probing questions. Pritzker's first act as a public servant could be to answer them frankly. A.N. Pritzker set up the family's first offshore trusts 50 years ago, when Penny Pritzker, now 54, was only four. It's clear some of the family's ploys wouldn't be allowed today. But a full explanation of what's been done might illuminate loopholes that remain.
None of the Senate committee members asked Pritzker hard questions about the family's tax havens or what she had done to earn that $53 million. In response to limited senatorial inquiry from Thune, Pritzker got off with saying, "Senator, I am the beneficiary of off-shore family trusts that were set up when I was a little girl. I didn't create them, I don't direct them, I don't control them. I have asked the trustee to remove themselves and appoint a U.S. trustee."
Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, ignored the long-abandoned tradition of wealthy people serving their government for a token $1 a year. Instead the Senator gushed to Pritzker, who will earn $197,000 a year as Commerce Secretary: "It's pretty obvious you're not coming to this job for a paycheck. You are coming because you desire to serve this country."
Harvard Paper Applauds Pritzker for Giving Back to the Community
In 2006, the Harvard Crimson (Pritzker is on the Harvard Board of Overseers) ran a flattering profile of Pritzker, noting: "Having founded five businesses during her career, Pritzker, along with her family, has continued to give back to the community…. Pritzker says she and her husband, Bryan S. Traubert, are interested in the welfare of children."
The Crimson quotes Pritzker as saying: "I believe the availability of quality public education is the foundation of our democracy. This is something we are extremely passionate about and we have gotten involved with in our community, both with the reform of the Chicago Public School system and the charter school movement."
As a member of the Chicago Board of Education for two years, until March 14, 2013, she exercised little apparent leadership and was not seen as an advocate for the welfare of students or teachers.

Her gifts to the schools have mostly been for athletics and athletic fields. She has been a reliable supporter of Mayor Rahm Immanuel, telling him in her resignation letter: "Education is critical to ensuring every child has an opportunity to succeed, and I wholeheartedly support the work that you are doing to improve Chicago schools."
Closing Schools Keeps Them from Getting Any Worse
Chicago has announced the largest school closing in American history, stirring resistance among parents, students, and neighborhoods that stand to lose their schools. The Chicago policy is widely seen as a wedge issue to create lower-cost, publicly-funded private schools.
Such schools have not built a record of superior performance, but they meet one of the objectives of people like Immanuel and Pritzker – they undermine unions, especially teachers' unions.
As the Chicago Teachers Union financial secretary told the Chicago Tribune: "We know Penny Pritzker has a long and storied history as an anti-labor and anti-worker kind of boss. Her policies adversely affect working families. She has worked to close schools and destabilize neighborhoods, and we hope she does a better job in her new position, if she gets it."
Pritzker's father co-founded the Hyatt Hotel chain. Pritzker sits on the corporate board and holds a $400,000 stake in the company. Hyatt has a long history of anti-labor practices and is currently the target of a union-sponsored global boycott.
A group of Hyatt workers and union supporters were at the Commerce Committee hearing. One of them, a housekeeper at Hyatt Regency Chicago, said: "I am here to just to let everybody know the abuse the workers are under at the Hyatt. I wanted to let everybody know the kind of situation Penny Pritzker puts her employees in."
Lots of Rich People Prefer to Keep a Low Profile
The Harvard Crimson quoted a Pritzker friend describing how hard it had been for Pritzker, managing the family fortune dispute: "I admire her dignity and discretion in handling this by taking the high road. She has largely not engaged in the mudslinging. It is a tragedy for her family that this has happened, because the Pritzker family has always been very private."
What's the tragedy here? Not that they lost their money – because they didn't – but they had to talk about it.
Pritzker's official biography on the Penny Pritzker web site, begins like this:
"With more than 25 years of experience in the real estate, hospitality, senior living, financial services and private equity industries, Ms. Pritzker previously developed such diverse companies as Vi (formerly Classic Residence by Hyatt), a leader in luxury living for older adults, The Parking Spot, a large U.S. network of off-site airport parking facilities, and Centergate Residential, a vertically-integrated, multifamily development, investment and management company."
This is apparently just what America needs now, according to President Obama – someone who has spent her life so far helping the rich get richer.
There Is More Than One Vision for Making America Better

Speaking in quite a different context, author Alice Walker suggested that sometimes a country needs some other kind of woman:

And this is a woman who can teach a lot of us about what it feels like and what it can be like to come face to face with the reality that your country is being not only stolen from you, but trashed, absolutely degraded – you know, your mountains despoiled, your rivers a mess, your children badly educated, if educated at all.
… a guide to see what it's like to actually confront the forces that are literally destroying you, they're destroying your children – horrible food, horrible laws, you know, rich people permitted to own much more than anyone should own of anything, and poor people being continually ground into the dust.
Or as the Wall Street Journal wrote, conveying much the same message, but from a different perspective, "Ms. Pritzker's experience as an investor and businesswoman could help Mr. Obama mend ties with corporate leaders who have bristled at his policies and what they deemed populist rhetoric during his first term.


# WestWinds 2013-05-29 11:06
I'm having to watch animals starving to death around my home while these people wallow in their ill gotten bilions. You can just imagine what I think of our Congress these days, and the president who made this appointment.

# DPM 2013-05-29 11:19
Another political payoff. Another out loud laugh perpetrated on the citizenry, another load of crap dumped on this country in an act of more "legal governmental pollution". Democrat? Republican? Are you still fighting those battles? Time to fight for the 99%! Those up top (corporate and political) hear us. That's why they are preparing for the worst. They hear it's time they fear us.

# Erdajean 2013-05-29 11:25 
So Obama is eager to appoint this blood-sucker to help him "get back in the good graces of corporate leaders" - who don't like his "populist rhetoric?" Rhetoric of course is all it is, considering the good the population has seen, out of his people-loving oratory.
Almost too disgusting for response. Yes, Alice Walker, we are being ground into dust. Apparently not fast enough for our billionaire-loving leader and his friends. Is there no relief anywhere from this fascist pandering?

Congress Still Puts Out for Wall Street

Posted on May 27, 2013

Robert Scheer

What does it take to make a Wall Street banker squirm with shame? Not content with having swindled tens of millions of Americans out of their homes and life savings, the very bankers who caused the biggest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression are now subverting government regulations designed to prevent comparable disasters in the future.
Top of the list of those responsible are the hustlers at Citigroup, once the world’s largest financial conglomerate, and a leading practitioner of the sordid behavior that caused the housing meltdown.

Indeed, Citigroup was allowed to form as a merger of the investment banking of Travelers and the federal insured commercial banking of Citicorp only because lobbyists for those institutions successfully engineered the reversal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall law that had banned such combinations.
Then when the new monster banks moved to exploit the subprime housing market with all sorts of financial gimmicks, their lobbyists succeeded in freeing all such trading in so called derivatives from any significant regulation.

The banks were so successful in marketing those often toxic assets that the federal government had to step in when the bubble burst and save Citigroup from bankruptcy, with a direct infusion of $45 billion in taxpayer funds and a guarantee of more than $300 billion of Citigroup’s bad paper.
You would think that the consequence of such destructive behavior would be a profound erosion of the ability of Citigroup and other banking lobbyists to write the nation’s laws governing financial activity. But just the opposite has occurred as the company’s influence has only grown in direct proportion to the harm it has bestowed. As The New York Times reported last week:
“Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves. 
“One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to emails reviewed by the New York Times. ... 
“In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word.”
Of course they were faithfully copied by the staffs of Congress members from both political parties, who might as well be on the payroll of Citigroup and the other mega banks. The Republicans, with the exception of a few die-hard libertarians, always do the bidding of the banks that finance them, but the Democrats are just as eager to pig out at the bankers’ trough.
Wall Street lobbyists were only too happy to hold a fundraising dinner last week for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, who co-sponsored the Citigroup bill, one of several such events banking groups have organized for lawmakers who support their legislation.
What is at issue here is an attempt to gut the already tepid effort of the Dodd-Frank Act to control the runaway $700 trillion derivatives trading market. One source of alarm is the extensive in-house trading in these derivatives between affiliates of the too-big-to-fail banks. As an example of the profound corruption of our legislative process, congressional staffers turned to top corporate lawyers to draft the wording pretending to rein in their activity.
For example, as the emails reviewed by the Times revealed, House committee staffers consulted Michael Bopp, a partner at the elite law firm Gibson, Dunn who represents corporations involved in derivative trading, as to the verbiage he would prefer in the legislation. His language was well received, as the Times reported: “Ultimately, the committee inserted every word of Mr. Bopp’s suggestion into a 2012 version of the bill that passed the House, save for a slight change in phrasing.”
That last sentence, conveying the essence of America’s crony capitalist system, should stand as the defining epitaph for the death of representative democracy.
“I won’t dispute for one second the problems of a system that demands immense amount of fund-raisers by its legislators,” Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut who supported the bankers’ recent bills and conveniently heads fundraising for House Democrats, conceded to the Times.
Himes, who worked for Goldman Sachs before pretending to represent the people’s interest as an elected representative, is one of the top beneficiaries of Wall Street payoffs but claims to be distressed by the corruption that is his way of life. As he told the Times, “It’s appalling, it’s disgusting, it’s wasteful and it opens the possibility of conflicts of interest and corruption. It’s unfortunately the world we live in.”
No, buddy, it’s the world you guys make and wallow in. Other folks just lose their jobs and homes while you manage to slither out of the slime richer and more powerful than ever.


# tomo 2013-05-29 07:51

Scheer was fired from the Los Angeles Times for writing this kind of commentary. It was the new Tribune guy who fired him when the Tribune took over the Times. We often hear ownership has nothing to do with media commentary. Clearly it has everything to do with commentary and content. The Tribune papers may now be bought by the Koch brothers. If they are, there will be further debasement of content in those papers--if they haven't already reached bottom. Then get ready to hear complaints that college students are no longer serious about current events; they do not read the newspapers to know what is going on. Who would? What is going on is wholesale and terminal pollution of America's newspapers.

# anarchteacher 2013-05-29 08:06
The US has been an official bankocracy for 100 years since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913. The story of how the Wall Street elite secretly met at Jekyll Island for this clandestine purpose is well known. The Fed has been the covert enabler of the warfare-welfare State and much other perfidy.

The global narcotics trade is the biggest business in the world. It is fueled and enabled by money laundering on a vast scale by banks and financial institutions across the planet. It is time to connect the dots linking the "underworld" of organized crime (narcotics) to the "upperworld" of the establishment (Wall Street banks and CFR-connected corporations/fo undations/media ) in the global economic crisis.

How much of those trillions of "toxic assets" are noxious narco dollars? I suspect that a significant part of the problem behind AIG lay with this clandestine intersection of drug money and money laundering, hence the beginning of the 2008 bailouts.

Can you visualize Goldman Sachs as the world's largest pusher? And what would that make their principal pimp, one Barack H. Obama? It's time to quit ignoring the Narcosaurus in the bankster boardroom (and in the network newsroom). Let the truth finally come out!

Read Peter Dale Scott's American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan; and Murray Rothbard's Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy.

# DPM 2013-05-29 08:44
When will we get out the pitchforks and scythes and eliminate the scum that run this country? How much abuse does it take? Appealing to our "representative s" is a laugh as they are part of the problem, not the solution. What next?

Is There a Left in America Today? The Silent Death of the American Left

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Journalist Explains How Utter Lack of Expertise in Congress Is Ruining America (Most Members of Congress Don’t (Aren't Meant To?) Understand What They’re Arguing About), And Thus, World Bank Insider Blows Whistle on Corruption, Federal Reserve

Listening to Robert Kaiser's review of the inadequacies of the financial educations of the present majority of Congressional members reminds me of that story about when Pete Townsend (wunderkind song/opera/film creative genius of The Who) was being continually urged to sign a document that was (mysteriously) only appearing whenever he was drunk or stoned. He still absolutely refused to sign.

Our Congressional representatives haven't been anywhere near as smart (and certainly not as inebriated) as Pete Townsend (if you can believe that).

Maybe it had to do with Pete's decision to protect his personal interests (and who was urging him to sign his rights away).

The representatives in Congress are protecting some peoples' personal interests as well. They're just not the ones who voted for them as representatives. Unless you're speaking of voting for them by check.

Fraud investigations, anyone?

For a start.

Journalist Explains How Utter Lack of Expertise in Congress Is Ruining America

For his new book, journalist Robert Kaiser intensely researched the political maneuvering surrounding the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. His conclusion? Most members of Congress don’t understand what they’re arguing about.

Speaking on PBS, Kaiser said Wall Street reform only occurred in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse thanks to the unique talents of former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

Unlike the rest of Congress, Frank and Dodds had an actual grasp on the financial situation and understood the need to act. Frank provided the brainpower, while Dodds’ political skill was necessary for financial reform to pass.

“But it was upsetting to me as a citizen to realize how few members understood the issues they were dealing with,” Kaiser remarked. “These are, of course, extremely complicated financial matters, how banks work, how they’re regulated, so on.”

“Not everybody can know this, but at the end, I concluded that you could fit the number of experts in Congress on financial issues easily onto the roster of a Major League Baseball team,” he added. “That’s 25 people. I think that is the max.”

Kaiser also said the lack of expertise was resulting in a deadlocked Congress. Rather than trying to craft meaningful legislation to aid the country, most lawmakers were more interested in scoring partisan political points.

“You don’t really engage on issues in this Congress,” he explained. “What you engage in is political warfare, partisan bashing, one or the other. And the result is that serious policy issues, as we have seen again and again, get very short shrift.”

World Bank Insider Blows Whistle on Corruption, Federal Reserve

A former insider at the World Bank, ex-Senior Counsel Karen Hudes, says the global financial system is dominated by a small group of corrupt, power-hungry figures centered around the privately owned U.S. Federal Reserve. The network has seized control of the media to cover up its crimes, too, she explained. In an interview with The New American, Hudes said that when she tried to blow the whistle on multiple problems at the World Bank, she was fired for her efforts. Now, along with a network of fellow whistleblowers, Hudes is determined to expose and end the corruption. And she is confident of success.

Citing an explosive 2011 Swiss study published in the PLOS ONE journal on the “network of global corporate control,” Hudes pointed out that a small group of entities — mostly financial institutions and especially central banks — exert a massive amount of influence over the international economy from behind the scenes. “What is really going on is that the world’s resources are being dominated by this group,” she explained, adding that the “corrupt power grabbers” have managed to dominate the media as well. “They’re being allowed to do it.”

According to the peer-reviewed paper, which presented the first global investigation of ownership architecture in the international economy, transnational corporations form a “giant bow-tie structure.”
A large portion of control, meanwhile, “flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions.” The researchers described the core as an “economic ‘super-entity’” that raises important issues for policymakers and researchers. Of course, the implications are enormous for citizens as well.

Hudes, an attorney who spent some two decades working in the World Bank’s legal department, has observed the machinations of the network up close. “I realized we were now dealing with something known as state capture, which is where the institutions of government are co-opted by the group that’s corrupt,” she told The New American in a phone interview. “The pillars of the U.S. government — some of them — are dysfunctional because of state capture; this is a big story, this is a big cover up.”

At the heart of the network, Hudes said, are 147 financial institutions and central banks — especially the Federal Reserve, which was created by Congress but is owned by essentially a cartel of private banks. “This is a story about how the international financial system was secretly gamed, mostly by central banks — they’re the ones we are talking about,” she explained. “The central bankers have been gaming the system. I would say that this is a power grab.”

The Fed in particular is at the very center of the network and the coverup, Hudes continued, citing a policy and oversight body that includes top government and Fed officials. Central bankers have also been manipulating gold prices, she added, echoing widespread concerns that The New American has documented extensively. Indeed, even the inaccurate World Bank financial statements that Hudes has been trying to expose are linked to the U.S. central bank, she said. 

“The group that we’re talking about from the Zurich study — that’s the Federal Reserve; it has some other pieces to it, but that’s the Federal Reserve,” Hudes explained. “So the Federal Reserve secretly dominated the world economy using secret, interlocking corporate directorates, and terrorizing anybody who managed to figure out that they were having any kind of role, and putting people in very important positions so that they could get a free pass.”

The shadowy but immensely powerful Bank for International Settlements serves as “the club of these private central bankers,” Hudes continued. “Now, are people going to want interest on their country’s debts to continue to be paid to that group when they find out the secret tricks that that group has been doing? Don’t forget how they’ve enriched themselves extraordinarily and how they’ve taken taxpayer money for the bailout.”

As far as intervening in the gold price, Hudes said it was an effort by the powerful network and its central banks to “hold onto its paper currency” — a suspicion shared by many analysts and even senior government officials. The World Bank whistleblower also said that contrary to official claims, she did not believe there was any gold being held in Fort Knox. Even congressmen and foreign governments have tried to find out if the precious metals were still there, but they met with little success. Hudes, however, believes the scam will eventually come undone.

“This is like crooks trying to figure out where they can go hide. It’s a mafia,” she said. “These culprits that have grabbed all this economic power have succeeded in infiltrating both sides of the issue, so you will find people who are supposedly trying to fight corruption who are just there to spread disinformation and as a placeholder to trip up anybody who manages to get their act together.… Those thugs think that if they can keep the world ignorant, they can bleed it longer.”

Of course, the major corruption at the highest levels of government and business is not a new phenomenon. Georgetown University historian and Professor Carroll Quigley, who served as President Bill Clinton’s mentor, for example, wrote about the scheme in his 1966 book Tragedy And Hope: A History Of The World In Our Time. The heavyweight academic, who was allowed to review documents belonging to the top echelons of the global establishment, even explained how the corrupt system would work — remarkably similar to what Hudes describes.

"The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole,” wrote Prof. Quigley, who agreed with the goals but not the secrecy.
“This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations."

But it is not going to happen, Hudes said — at least not if she has something do to with it. While the media are dominated by the “power grabber” network, Hudes has been working with foreign governments, reporters, U.S. officials, state governments, and a broad coalition of fellow whistleblowers to blow the entire scam wide open. There has been quite a bit of interest, too, particularly among foreign governments and state officials in the United States.

Citing the wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers in creating a federal system of government with multiple layers of checks and balances, Hudes said she was confident that the network would eventually be exposed and subjected to the rule of law, stopping the secret corruption. If and when that happens — even if it may be disorderly — Hudes says precious metals will once again play a role in imposing discipline on the monetary system. The rule of law would also be restored, she said, and the public will demand a proper press to stay informed.

“We’re going to have a cleaned-up financial system, that’s where it is going, but in the meantime, people who didn’t know how the system was gamed are going to find out,” she said. “We’re going to have a different kind of international financial system.... It’ll be a new kind of world where people know what’s going on — no more backroom deals; that’s not going to keep happening. We’re going to have a different kind of media if people don’t want to be dominated and controlled, which I don’t think they do.”

While Hudes sounded upbeat, she recognizes that the world is facing serious danger right now — there are even plans in place to impose martial law in the United States, she said. The next steps will be critical for humanity. As such, Hudes argues, it is crucial that the people of the world find out about the lawlessness, corruption, and thievery that are going on at the highest levels — and put a stop to it once and for all. The consequences of inaction would be disastrous.

(Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at

And the countdown has begun.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why Obama's "Leadership" Is Bunkum

Short but sweet.

Just another way of saying those with the gold intend on keeping the gold.

Grow the fuck up.

And figure it out.

Or you die.

Powerless and poor.

From BTC News.

Which rocks.

This Is Why Democrats Can’t Have Nice Things

By Weldon Berger, on April 17th, 2013
I’ve now read two opinion pieces, one by Charlie Pierce at Esquire last week and another by Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect today, saying that the failure of various gun control measures proves that presidential leadership doesn’t work. They’re writing to defend President Obama from charges that he doesn’t use his position effectively to lobby for legislation he wants.
Both writers cited the speeches Obama has made and events he attended in the months since the massacre of innocents at Newtown. The number of these speeches and events can be described as a handful, as can the number of months since Newtown.

What Pierce and Bouie are saying, then, is that the President, with a handful of speeches and events during a handful of months, failed to overcome a deeply entrenched and effective gun lobby, and this proves that previous criticism of his lack of leadership is bunkum, that presidents, particularly ones facing the kind of opposition this one does, simply don’t have the power and influence to sway public opinion and legislator’s votes.
Part of the failure, which really shouldn’t be described as failure until the President gives up, is Harry Reid’s. The background check measure that was filibustered to death today would have passed, with a few Republicans voting “yes” and a few Democrats “no,” had Reid reined in the filibuster when he had the chance.
The other part of the failure can be laid at the feet of Pierce and Bouie and anyone else who thinks stumping for some legislation for a few months and giving up if you lose constitutes leadership. If the President keeps working for it and gun control proponents in Congress bring this legislation up repeatedly during this session and the next, and it still doesn’t pass, then we can talk. If he doesn’t keep at it, then it wasn’t leadership but a passing enthusiasm.
Republicans don’t give up this easily. They bring up the stupidest and nastiest ideas in the form of legislation every day they can for decades until they get what they want.

Bush George-un worked his ass off, in his own way, on behalf of the Iraq invasion, campaigning for it almost daily for more than a year, sending out every recognizable name in his administration with every manner of lie, working the press like a geisha — a favor returned in spades — even when he was on vacation until he got a majority of legislators and ultimately a public majority to back him.
That was leadership. He should be painting his little doggie portraits in a cell in the Hague because of it, but it was leadership.
If Democrats brought up Medicare-for-all legislation every year for 40 years, even when they were the minority, campaigned on it, built think tanks around it, I’m pretty sure we would have Medicare-for-all-right now. Instead, we have comically low official tax rates for rich people and comically low effective ones for huge, profitable corporations, and a continuing erosion of social welfare and social insurance programs. This is not coincidence.
The President seems genuinely put out by the fate of the background check measure. I hope he doesn’t read what Pierce wrote — which includes, not for the first time, the sentiment that Obama is too good for America — and what Bouie wrote, and instead takes for his example people like James Brady and Gabrielle Giffords, who intend to keep trying despite suffering the effects of having been shot in the head, which is worse than not getting your way on some legislation that you put a few months of effort into.

Mr. Pierce, Mr. Bouie: grow up.

As well as everybody else.

Or else the only change we will see is on a downward slope.

Monday, May 27, 2013

One More of Reagan's Chickens Finally Home to Roost?

Reagan's Chickens Home to Roost?

By William Boardman

Reader Supported News

22 May 13
he guilty get some breathing room, but not safety yet
Former members of the Reagan administration are breathing easier, now that they are somewhat less likely to face criminal charges for their part in the Guatemalan genocide of 1982-1983, supported by Reagan policies.
The threat that former officials might be held accountable for genocidal policies of the Reagan administration increased on May 10, when a Guatemalan lower court convicted the country's former president, General Efrain Rios Montt, 86, of genocide and crimes against humanity for his part in the killing of thousands of Guatemalan civilians.
Rios Montt's conviction and sentence included an order by Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios to Attorney General Paz Y Paz to further investigate everyone else involved in Rios Montt's crimes, an investigation that would include many Guatemalans including the country's current president, as well as U.S. military advisors, the CIA and other American agents, and Washington officials like Elliott Abrams and others directly involved in supporting the Guatemalan governmental genocide.

But this threat of prosecution for accessories and accomplices to genocide didn't last long, as Guatemala's highest court, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, ruled by a vote of 3-2 on May 20 that the lower court's proceedings going back to April 19 were dismissed, thus annulling the verdict.

The Genocidal General's Trial May Yet Begin Again

But the Constitutional Court ruling also allows the trial to resume at some undetermined time in the future. The dismissal sets the trial back to April 19, when a judge who had heard earlier but separate proceedings relating to Rios Montt asserted jurisdiction over the continuing trial that had started a month earlier. Judge Barrios overruled the prior judge supported by Attorney General Paz Y Pay, who said his claim was unlawful.

The jurisdictional dispute proceeded to the Constitutional Court while Rios Montt's trial continued to its unsurprising conviction, given the weight of the evidence against him and his administration.

Rios Montt came to power in 1982 through a military coup, after he had lost a democratic election for the second time, claiming massive fraud both in 1974 and 1982. Between elections, in 1978, Rios Montt had left the Catholic Church and become a minister in the evangelical/Pentecostal Church of the Word, based in California. His friends and supporters included Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Pat Robertson, and others connected with the evangelical movement that helped elect Ronald Reagan president in 1980.

Rios Montt would be the American-supported dictator of Guatemala for only 17 months, before he fell to another military coup. But in that time he was responsible for government forces that killed more than 1,700 people, mostly indigenous Mayans, and also tortured, raped, kidnapped, and brutalized thousands more – for which he was found guilty on May 10.

Ronald Reagan and His Administration Supported Gen. Rios Montt

President Reagan praised Rios Montt for his anticommunism and claimed that human rights were improving under his rule, while human rights organizations condemned the general and the army. Amnesty International estimated that Rios Montt's forced killed more than 10,000 rural Guatemalans from March to August 1982, and drove more than 100,000 from their homes.

Reagan evaded Congressional oversight in order to provide Rios Montt with millions of dollars of military aid. When Reagan and the general met in Honduras in December 1982, Reagan spoke warmly of him: "I know that President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. My administration will do all it can to support his progressive efforts."

"The next day," the London Review of Books reported in 2004, "one of Guatemala's elite platoons entered a jungle village called Las Dos Erres and killed 162 of its inhabitants, 67 of them children." The report continued:

Soldiers grabbed babies and toddlers by their legs, swung them in the air, and smashed their heads against a wall. Older children and adults were forced to kneel at the edge of a well, where a single blow from a sledgehammer sent them plummeting below. The platoon then raped a selection of women and girls it had saved for last, pummelling their stomachs in order to force the pregnant among them to miscarry.
They tossed the women into the well and filled it with dirt, burying an unlucky few alive. The only traces of the bodies later visitors would find were blood on the walls and placentas and umbilical cords on the ground.
On another occasion, Reagan claimed that the dictator was getting a "bum rap."

In 1983, then assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams told PBS, "the amount of killing of innocent civilians is being reduced step by step.... We think that kind of progress needs to be rewarded and encouraged."

Guatemalans Have Struggled for Decades to Get Justice

The currently interrupted trial is part of a judicial process that began in 2001, with a ruling by the Constitutional Court on March 21, exposing Rios Montt and others of the ruling party to prosecution for corruption. The next day, two grenades were thrown in the yard of Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios. Three days later, the head of the Constitutional Court, Judge Conchita Mazariegos, had shots fired at her house.

The criminal role of the United States in Guatemala has continued at least since 1954, when the Eisenhower administration engineered a CIA-backed coup d'etat against the country's elected president.

American reporting on the Rios Montt trial and America's role in genocide in Central America goes largely unreported in the United States. According to FAIR, none of the three major TV networks have mentioned the trial since it began. Perhaps the most detailed coverage has come from DemocracyNOW, which summed up the present situation this way:

In the run-up to its latest decision to overturn, the court had come under heavy lobbying from Rios Montt supporters, including Guatemala's powerful business association, CACIF. Rios Montt remains in a military hospital where he was admitted last week. His legal status is now up in the air. He will likely be released into house arrest, and it is unclear when or if he will return to court.

For the moment, that leaves surviving Reagan administration officials beyond the reach of Guatemalan law and international law.

In 1998, Bishop Juan Gerardi, head of the human rights commission uncovering the truth of the disappearances associated with the military, including Rios Montt, was assassinated. His successor is Catholic bishop Mario Enrique Rios Montt, the convicted general's brother. The trial and conviction of Bishop Gerardi's killers in 2001 was the first time members of the military were tried in a civilian court. 


Not by half.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

(Does Anyone (Smart) Listen to TV News Anymore?) Oh No They Didn't! Dead Guy Went Crazy - Had To Be Killed - In Police Dept. (Best Responses To Nonsense News - EVER!)

Watch this (if you dare).

Or continue to be unpleasantly surprised (if you're not already a member of the thug gang and are thusly "pleasantly" surprised - as I'm sure none of my readers are).

We are well beyond the Keystone Cops here. This is like if the Trailer Park Boys were in charge of our Justice Department. It’s a farce. That’s all I can say about it.

I've heard about time warps (and we have held off several days from publishing anything concerning these events (and have absolutely no comment on this surreal government announcement)) but this account arrives from Florida - so there's that to consider.

But, really.

Calling Dr. Who?

From our buddy at American Everyman we learn  more than is actually learnable (and I admit to being as flummoxed as he at the initial reports).

  1. An FBI interrogation without video or audio? Where did they interrogate him, the 1940s?
    • Maybe it was the Amish branch of the FBI. They took buggies down to Orlando to question the guy. They left sometime right after the murders, three years ago and just got down there yesterday.

    • Included a par(agraph) of that article as a new update on the article with a tip of the hat to you. Holy shit, huh? It’s policy designed so they can lie to the public and the courts about what witnesses say and institutional policy at that. Holy shit. They really are just a gang of thugs aren’t they?

  2. Ungh! Too much! Brain damage! Must watch more CNN to drown it out and remove the pain!

    “Sources Say” Dead Guy Fingered Tamerlan and Then “Just Went Crazy”

    by willyloman

    by Scott Creighton

    UPDATE: (H/T The Walrus) – Oh. Silly me. I forgot that the FBI has a blanket policy of not recording their interviews or interrogations so that they can lie as much as they want about what a suspect or witness says. It’s official policy for the entire FBI. Silly me. I forgot for a second and thought they were somehow still at least attempting to appear legit.

    “But the FBI leaves out the even more potent criticism of its practice — that such interview tactics seem virtually geared toward establishing as fact what the FBI wanted to hear from the witness. Frightened and confused interviewees, who, if they deny they said what any 302 report claims they uttered, can then be indicted for making false statements. The FBI is thus able to put words into a witness or suspect’s mouth and coerce him to adopt the FBI’s version as his own. The FBI thus establishes the official version of what a witness said, and the pressure on the witness to adhere to the 302 version is enormous. Any deviation, after all, raises the question: “Were you lying during your FBI interview, or are you lying now?”” Boston Globe 2010
One guy asks the questions while the other guy pretends to fill out the 302 report that was actually filled out by a PR guy a couple days before and when the suspect refuses to sign it, shit happens I guess. Oh, wait… he goes “crazy” and has to get shot.
(thanks Walrus)

Are you shitting me?

ABC "News" (ok, they can't even be called "news" after this) is reporting that "sources" told them that Ibragim Todashev was about to sign a confession, saying he and Tamerlan Tsarnaev brutally murdered a couple of guys over some drugs two years ago, when he suddenly and out of the blue "went crazy" and started stabbing the FBI agent for no apparent reason.
"An acquaintance of deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was "about to sign a statement" confessing his and Tsarnaev's involvement in an unsolved triple murder when he was killed by an FBI agent, sources told ABC...

... At some point during the interview, Todashev "just went crazy," law enforcement officials told ABC News. The Chechen immigrant pulled out a knife and stabbed the FBI agent several times before the agent shot and killed him. The agent's injuries were non-life threatening." Huffington Post

You mean to tell me the guy took the time to make a confession and snitch on Tamerlan, even writing it all down, then OUT OF THE BLUE he gets his hands on some kind of little knife and attacks one of the 5 or more armed law enforcement officers in the room?

“It’s not clear who shot Todashev
, officials say, because — while he was being questioned by an FBI agentofficers from the Massachusetts state police and the Orlando police department were also present in the house where the interrogation was going on.” NBC “news”

The FBI could not have confessed that they killed Ibragim Todashev while trying to coerce him into a false confession any better if they has set out to do that.

They don’t have a video or audio tape of the confession. If they did, it would have been released by now. It would also have the attack on it.

At what time did law enforcement stop recording confessions?

Apparently they also didn’t have a signed statement either.

And what do you mean it’s not clear who shot him? How many people fired a gun in the little room? Do you think the law enforcement “experts” could figure that one out?

So in fact, they got bullshit. Nothing but some agent’s say-so coming from unnamed “sources” who can never be held responsible for lying to the public.

We are well beyond the Keystone Cops here. This is like if the Trailer Park Boys were in charge of our Justice Department. It’s a farce. That’s all I can say about it.

The only way these officers involved don’t look like the most incompetent cops in history is if they were simply looking to frame this guy and he resisted so they killed him.
Either they are the biggest clowns law enforcement has ever seen or they’re thugs. And honestly, we all know which side they come down on.

Five trained officers in a little room with a 140-lb guy and they let him get to a knife and stick one of their companions a few times before one of them gets off a shot… and they don’t know who shot him?

Is that a joke or something? Are we supposed to even pretend to be stupid enough to believe that? And no recording of any kind OF THE INTERROGATION?

Or are we supposed to be polite enough to allow the authorities to simply execute citizens on the spot if they refuse to play ball?


That’s just insulting. That’s all there is too it. And as dumb as that is, it’s the second dumbest thing I’ve heard today.
willyloman | May 22, 2013 at 7:55 pm 

The second dumbest? Come on.

Nothing to see here.

Move along.

You hear Obama's finally closing Gitmo?

Oh yeah.

Good news.

Move along.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Imagine A World Without the Post Office Or Public Schools (Don't . . . PLEASE!) And All This Austerity, Whether in Greece or Chicago, "Just So the 0.001% Uberwealthy Can Continue To Get Richer and Richer Courtesy of Year After Year of Flawed Monetary and Fiscal Policy Even As the Real World Around Them Burns."

(Click here for the full story.)


Get involved!

Let's save our public institutions!

And all this Austerity, whether in Greece or Chicago, "just so the 0.001% uberwealthy can continue to get richer and richer courtesy of a year after year of flawed monetary and fiscal policy, even as the real world around them burns."

As our friends at Down With Tyranny impart:

As the NYT reports, in just the past two years, the numbers of Greeks engaging in prostitution as a last course source of income has more than doubled: according to the National Center for Social Research, the number of people selling sex has surged 150 percent in the last two years.

. . . Many prostitutes have been selling their services for as little as 10 to 15 euros, a price that has shrunk along with the income of clients afflicted by the crisis. Many more prostitutes are taking greater health risks by having unprotected sex, which sells for a premium. Still more are subject to violence and rape.

. . . And with a surge in prostitution come the drugs, and the danger of an epidemic of blood-transmitted diseases, like HIV.
. . . Unfortunately for the country which is terrified to just say no to Europe due to the indoctrinated dread of what would happen if it left the Eurozone, this is only the beginning as the problem is far deeper, and it goes to the root of everything: an entire generation going to waste.

But while the Greek still-soaring unemployment rate is no surprise to anyone, it is the youth unemployment that is the problem. And as the Telegraph reports, in some areas of Greece, youth unemployment has now hit an inconceivable 75%. And all this Austerity, whether in Greece or Chicago, "just so the 0.001% uberwealthy can continue to get richer and richer courtesy of a year after year of flawed monetary and fiscal policy, even as the real world around them burns." What we need are more Penny Pritzkers in Obama's cabinet.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Coming Corporate Control of Medicine Will Undoubtedly Line Their Pockets and Pick Ours

(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)

I've been against the onrushing locomotive of the new (and final?) USA health care system/program (debacle) advocated by the Obamabots since the first moment I heard it was merely the old MA Romney-care (rewritten in secret by the Heritage/Koch Foundation insurance company radicals) dressed up in/by a 21st century outfit. I also have been thoroughly convinced that when Obama is given the chance to bargain away any program elements that benefit the people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid, he will (no matter the tears shed about the necessary compromises) as quickly as possible. It happened exactly so in the bargaining away of single-payer coverage in his original "progressive" health care deal, and it didn't even seem ac/in-cidental then to knowledgeable commenters. But after all, everything being about the same politically now (no matter his constant bowing to the bosses), he still won't get the head pats if those expensive benefits for the bottom level peons are not attenuated sufficiently (at the program's beginning). And he is (and they all are) looking to retire well (off). So to speak.

Coming Corporate Control of Medicine Will Throw Patients Under the Bus

Thursday, 16 May 2013

By Yves Smith
Naked Capitalism

(Image: <a href="" target="_blank"> Jared Rodriguez/Truthout</a>) (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)
One of the most effective scare techniques employed to preserve our grotesquely inefficient, overpriced health care system has been to invoke the red peril of “socialized medicine”. Never mind that foreigners in advanced economies fail to recognize the caricatures scaremongers supply, or that Americans who need emergency care while overseas are almost without exception impressed with the caliber of care and astonished by the low (sometimes no) cost to them. After all, Americans live in the best of all possible worlds, and consumer and business freedom are always better.

In fact, business freedom here increasingly means the God-given right to exploit the vulnerability of the public. The example slouching into view is more corporate control over the practice of medicine. And based on the previews, it will make the horrors falsely attributed to socialized medicine look pale.

Two accounts last week bring the issue home. The first came in the Health Care Renewal blog (hat tip Lysa). It’s a reminder of how the current institutional efforts to regiment doctors undermine the caliber of medical care. It has become distressingly common for HMOs and other medical enterprises to have business-school trained managers putting factory-style production parameters on doctor visits. Outside of foreclosure mills, it’s hard to find similar approaches in other professions.

The post describes how a pediatrician, Pauline, who has developed a reputation for treating chronic conditions is at loggerheads with her for-profit practice. The suits don’t like her patient mix. She gets too many tough cases, when they’d rather have basically healthy kids who are there for a cold or ear infection. Mind you, this is only partly a money issue. These visits can be “up coded” so as to get larger insurance/patient payments, but she get a higher level of patients in less-generous state insurance programs. But some of the pushback is that her practice is perceived as disruptive, since she uses what is perceived as too much of her and staff time, separate and apart from the economics. She’s constantly breaking management’s precious guidelines. One of her turf struggles:

She had set up a visit to see a new medically complex patient and had blocked off 40 minutes, the amount of time she felt she needed to do a good job. The child had a complex genetic disorder, cerebral palsy, and heart, lung, and kidney problems. Both the cardiologist and the nephrologist had called asking her to take this patient. She agreed. After she had scheduled the visit, a manager called her and told her that she was being allowed only 15 minutes to see that patient. After some fruitless discussion with him, Pauline finally said, “Okay, I guess that means that you’ll be seeing the patient instead of me, right?” The shocked voice at the other end of the phone line replied, “What do you mean? I don’t know how to take care of patients.” “That’s exactly my point,” Pauline put in.

Pauline explained that this manager assigned to her office is not even a college graduate. Physicians cannot access the schedule electronically and have no control over scheduling. These functions are controlled by the office manager and (amazingly) by some of the medical assistants who have received some “leadership” training. These medical assistants are even allowed to evaluate the clinical competency and skills of the physicians.
And to add insult to injury, how long did this discussion take? All those minutes the doctor spent fighting with a petty bureaucrat come at the expense of patient care.

As an aside, it’s hard to stress enough that this sort of demoralizing micromanagement, an unwillingness to listen to and learn from workers, is a widespread shortcoming of management American-style. And it has weirdly been airbrushed out of the media.

When I was a kid in business school, US manufacturers were having their clocks cleaned by Germans and the Japanese. There was a good deal of critical self examination back then. One source of foreign ascendancy was that they had newer factories, so you couldn’t really blame American management for that one. But the second was that it was widely acknowledged that US managers were generally poor at dealing with labor. And this wasn’t “labor” in the union sense, but at having productive relationships with factory workers (note that there has been massive revisionist history since then).

When I was in B-school, none of my classmates, nearly half of whom had worked in major manufacturing companies, had bad things to say about unions. Now you’ll often see the decline of American manufacturing attributed to unions in an “everybody knows that” tone.

Now before you come running to the defense of management against the doctor, think twice:

So let me add a further nugget about Pauline’s background. In one of her previous jobs, she was made the manager of a pediatric outpatient center within a county hospital caring for a largely indigent population. This center had been running in the red for a good while. Pauline took over and within 28 months she’d streamlined the place and had them running well in the black, while still administering a quality of care that Pauline and her colleagues could be proud of. In short, Pauline could probably tell the managers of her current practice a thing or two about how to optimize patient scheduling without compromising care or cost — if they’d listen.
As bad as that is, most patients are unware of how much their care has been fitted to a Procrustean bed. The deliberate degradation in the name of profits is going to become more obvious, at least if the health care industry has its way.

I strongly encourage you to read this post from Whole Health Chicago (hat tip Lambert) in full. It shows how the future of American medicine is to fire the ones who are unhealthy. No, I am not making that up. The writer, Dr. David Edelberg, describes a recent presentation by a large insurance company. They’ve apparently been hosting similar sessions with physicians in the Chicago area in large medical practices. Here are the key bits (emphasis original):

The speaker at these evenings is always a physician employed by the insurance company.
His/her title is Medical Director (I begin to think there must be dozens and dozens on their payroll) and he always begins by reassuring the audience that he was in clinical practice himself so he understands something of what physicians – especially primary care physicians – are facing. I view this physician more as a “Judas steer,” the animal that leads an innocent but doomed herd of cattle through the slaughterhouse corridors to the killing floor.

• The health industry hopes that individual medical practices and small medical groups will ultimately disappear from the landscape by being financially absorbed into larger groups owned by hospital systems.
And why do the powers that be regard this as desirable? Although the article does not stress this point, doctors have an established revenue stream. So the acquirers buy them out and impose discipline on those artistic, freewheeling doctors. The “practice style,” which used to mean the independence that doctors once enjoyed, is now an Orwellianism and includes hewing to corporate guidelines as to how to operate.

And here’s what to expect:

Physicians are expected to spend a limited amount of time with each patient, and are encouraged to see as many patients as possible during a workday. The insurance companies, sometimes with the token cooperation of a few physician-employees, create vast books of patient-care guidelines to which they believe their physicians must be “accountable” (remember this word, it will crop up again). These guidelines might mean documented Pap smear and mammogram frequency, weight management and exercise, colonoscopies for patients over 50, and getting that evil LDL (bad cholesterol) below 99 by any means possible…

If the chart audit system discovers that a physician, for whatever reason, is an “outlier” – that she’s either not following the guidelines exactly or not getting the results anticipated for her patient population — she’ll be financially penalized.
A quick example of what might occur: if your LDL is 115, you may be on the receiving end of a statin sales pitch from your doctor, not because bringing it down to 99 will improve your longevity, but because your refusal to do so will impact her financial bottom line.
Now of course, you might say, “Well, in fairness, medicine is too much of a cottage industry. Look at how many doctors give unnecessary annual EKGs to patients in low risk groups. How else are we going to get to evidence-based medicine?” The problem is that what we as patients will get isn’t driven by best outcomes, it’s driven by profits.

Edelberg explains:

…the subtext of “standardized” always includes the unspoken “spend less money on the patient.” Thus, a doctor might be financially penalized for recommending nutritional counseling to lower cholesterol (“counseling is expensive”) instead of writing a generic statin drug (cheap). Or recommending psychotherapy (“therapy is very expensive”) instead of generic Prozac (cheaper than M&M’s). Or referring patients for massage, acupuncture, or even chiropractic (“expensive, expensive, expensive!”) instead of pushing an over-the-counter antiinflammatory (free to the insurance company, as it’s OTC).
And I shudder to think what becomes of patients who don’t hew to standard templates: the person who had a high body mass but not due to dangerous abdominal fat (which is what creates the health risk) who is pushed to take the latest, greatest diet drug. What about people who don’t buy into the religion of getting your LDL down to below 100 (one reader argued that while it may lower your risk of heart disease, it increases your all-factor death risk by reducing your ability to fight MRSA)? Will they face penalties if they fail to comply?

No, you just will find it nearly impossible to get a doctor to take you

Let me close with a best-as-I-recall quote from an insurance company Medical Director. “We can no longer afford to pay for health care under the PPO model. Our plan is to phase out all fee-for-service care during the next few years. We’ll pay you doctors a finite amount of money to take care of a defined population. We tell doctors, ‘Don’t spend much money and you can keep the difference. Period. Don’t follow guidelines, and you’ll be leaving behind some serious money on the table and we’ll just take it back.’”
In case you think I overstated the implications, Edelberg recapped the discussion that ensued:

One physician piped up…. “But what about the non-compliant patients who won’t take the meds, don’t eat well, don’t have mammograms, continue to smoke? And what about super-health-conscious patients who want their vitamin levels measured and want referrals to acupuncturists?”

Another physician answered wearily for the Medical Director (who didn’t disagree): “You’ve got to fire patients like that. Get the non-compliant and the super-demanding out of your system. They’ll drag your numbers down. Hit your personal bottom line.”

Hey you, patient. Yes, I mean YOU. Pink slip time! Canned! Take your medical records and don’t let the frosted glass door hit you in the…on the way out.
In other words, if you are high maintenance because you don’t do what your doctor says (and remember, “non-compliant” includes people who don’t follow orders because they think the cookie-cutter approach isn’t right for them) or want higher service or per the example of the pediatrician Patricia’s 40 minute case, have a complicated set of ailments, you’ll be shunted. The brave new world of corporate medicine will eject you.

The rich are unlikely even to know that this change is occurring. There will be a tier of doctors on the high end to cater to patients who want more personalized, cutting edge treatment and might need some prodding. And they can always go abroad if they can’t find what they need here. But for ordinary schlubs, expect to find the doctor’s office become more hostile as the brave new world of corporatized medicine becomes entrenched.

Thanks, Yves.

Without your reporting we'd have to face the fate of continuing to listen to the professional apologists for the Obama/Heritage Foundation/Koch/RomneyCare system failings as though there was nothing they could do to alleviate the suffering of those poor people on the bottom paying out their last pennies for what they hoped would be decent coverage, but receiving little from those providers newly lining their pockets for not providing quality health care. And we'll never really have any accurate idea about its overwhelming implications because the bill was made so complex (intentionally) that few people would be able to read the entire policy and understand its implications individually (not to even try to find all the changes made to it during implementation by the companies).

Thanks again, baby. At least we've got you trying to bring some light to this dark and misbegotten subject.

You're the woman!