Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lying Liars Still In Charge (Don't Ask - It's Really A Little Bit Late for the Citizens To Get Incensed)  But Some Are Trying To Shine A Light

Happy Birthday, Patti Smith!

The way I see it 2015 will ring in either the wake-up call we've all been awaiting since the election of our non-progressive nightmare in 2008 or the final death knell of representative democracy in the United States of America.

And there is nothing that can be done about it at this point in history (as the rise of Jeb Bush as a serious candidate for the Republicans proves (not to mention Hillary Clinton as the other choice)). (If a largely turned-off or apathetic out of political PTSD population doesn't get involved in an organizational effort that leaves the one trying to end the Vietnam War in the dusty tracks of history.) And I do think that the only changes that will make any difference have to come from the citizens and not from the political apparatuses.

The forces that control the power (and money) that have been driving the U.S. (and the rest of what is thought of as the "civilized" west) over the cliff as quickly as possible prepared this dream scenario of their ultimate conquest long ago (see PNAC history here, here , here and here) and had planned for it to have been over after the quick fall of Iraq (if only things had gone according to their initial victory time table).

And don't forget that the administrations of both George W. Bush and Obama cut the health care budgets for those injured in these continuing wars. They both have depended and planned for a desperate lower/middle class to provide the muscle and taxes needed for this new American superstate.

Now, when the Christmastime TV screens are bleeding with ads about wounded veterans in need of donations from unwounded (so to speak) citizens, we are reaping the final scenes brought to us by the decades-ago sneaking of the dead and mangled bodies back into the country that began under George W. Bush's regime.

Of course. This might all be just more sordid fantasy from those fruitcakes and nuts who want to see the U.S. pursue a peaceful 21st century agenda.

And the next speech we hear from the Obama administration could have a reasonable, easily-agreed-to-by-all-parties plan for taxing those who have benefitted from the tax cuts under George W. Bush, which will guarantee for generations the benefits needed by the lower and middle classes in order to survive with some power and influence in the years ahead.

But don't let reality startle you overmuch as you entertain visions of lollipops and sunshiny days to come.

Dear Readers: The conflict that Washington has initiated between the West and Russia/China is reckless and irresponsible. Nuclear war could be the outcome. Indeed, Washington has been preparing for nuclear war since the George W. Bush regime.

Washington has revised US war doctrine in order to initiate conflict with a first strike nuclear attack.

Washington has discarded the ABM treaty in order to build and deploy anti-ballistic missiles that are intended to prevent a retaliatory strike against the US. Washington is engaged in a buildup of military forces on Russia’s borders, and Washington is demonizing Russia’s government with false charges.

As the Bush/Obama regimes dismantled the safeguards put in place in order to minimize the risk of nuclear war, no protests came from the American public or the media. Washington’s European vassal states have also been silent.

Washington’s drive for hegemony has brought nuclear insanity to the world.

Moscow and Beijing understand that they are Washington’s targets. As Larchmonter explains, Russia and China are conjoining their economic and military capabilities in order to protect against Washington’s attack. Read what Larchmonter reports. Open the URL in my column below and run your cursor over the bottom of the page and click “page fit.” Choose 50% and readable text will fill your screen.

Washington’s demonization of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad were preludes to military attacks on Iraq, Libya, and Syria. In view of these precedents, it is reasonable to regard Washington’s demonization of Vladimir Putin as a prelude to military action.

Russia is not Iraq, Libya, or Syria. Russian war doctrine states that Russia can use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear or conventional attack on Russia. For the world to sit silent while Washington’s arrogance provokes armageddon telegraphs total political failure. Where are the voices in behalf of humanity?

The Outlook for the New Year

December 29, 2014

Washington has shaped 2015 to be a year of conflict. The conflict could be intense.
Washington is the cause of the conflict, which has been brewing for some time. Russia was too weak to do anything about it when the Clinton regime pushed NATO to Russia’s borders and illegally attacked Yugoslavia, breaking the country into small easily controlled pieces.

Russia was also too weak to do anything about it when the George W. Bush regime withdrew from the ABM treaty and undertook to locate anti-ballistic missile bases on Russia’s borders. Washington lied to Moscow that the purpose of the ABM bases is to protect Europe from non-existent Iranian nuclear ICBMs. However, Moscow understood that the purpose of the ABM bases is to degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrent, thereby enhancing Washington’s ability to coerce Russia into agreements that compromise Russian sovereignty.

By summer 2008 Russian power had returned. On Washington’s orders, the US and Israeli trained and equipped Georgian army attacked the breakaway republic of South Ossetia during the early hours of August 8, killing Russian peacekeepers and civilian population. Units of the Russian military instantly responded and within a few hours the American trained and equipped Georgian army was routed and defeated. Georgia was in Russia’s hands again, where the province had resided during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Putin should have hung Mikheil Saakashvili, the American puppet installed as president of Georgia by the Washington-instigated “Rose Revolution”, and reincorporated Georgia into the Russian Federation. Instead, in a strategic error, Russia withdrew its forces, leaving Washington’s puppet regime in place to cause future trouble for Russia. Washington is pushing hard to incorporate Georgia into NATO, thus adding more US military bases on Russia’s border. However, at the time, Moscow thought Europe to be more independent of Washington than it is and relied on good relations with Europe to keep American bases out of Georgia.

Today the Russian government no longer has any illusion that Europe is capable of an independent foreign policy. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated publicly that Russia has learned that diplomacy with Europe is pointless, because European politicians represent Washington’s interest, not Europe’s. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently acknowledged that Europe’s Captive Nation status has made it clear to Russia that Russian goodwill gestures are unable to produce diplomatic results.

With Moscow’s delusion shattered that diplomacy with the West can produce peaceful solutions, reality has set in, reinforced by the demonization of Vladimir Putin by Washington and its vassal states. Hillary Clinton called Putin the new Hitler.

While Washington incorporates former constituent parts of the Russian and Soviet empires into its own empire and bombs seven countries, Washington claims that Putin is militarily aggressive and intends to reconstitute the Soviet empire. Washington arms the neo-nazi regime Obama established in Ukraine, while erroneously claiming that Putin has invaded and annexed Ukrainian provinces. All of these blatant lies are echoed repeatedly by the Western presstitutes. Not even Hitler had such a compliant media as Washington has.

Every diplomatic effort by Russia has been blocked by Washington and has come to naught. So now Russia has been forced by reality to update its military doctrine. The new doctrine approved on December 26 states that the US and NATO comprise a major military threat to the existence of Russia as a sovereign independent country.

The Russian document cites Washington’s war doctrine of pre-emptive nuclear attack, deployment of anti-ballistic missiles, buildup of NATO forces, and intent to deploy weapons in space as clear indications that Washington is preparing to attack Russia.

Washington is also conducting economic and political warfare against Russia, attempting to destabilize the economy with economic sanctions and attacks on the ruble. The Russian document acknowledges that Russia faces Western threats of regime change achieved through “actions aimed at violent change of the Russian constitutional order, destabilization of the political and social environment, and disorganization of the functioning of governmental bodies, crucial civilian and military facilities and informational infrastructure of Russia.” Foreign financed NGOs and foreign owned Russian media are tools in Washington’s hands for destabilizing Russia.

Washington’s reckless aggressive policy against Russia has resurrected the nuclear arms race. Russia is developing two new ICBM systems and in 2016 will deploy a weapons system designed to negate the US anti-ballistic missile system. In short, the evil warmongers that rule in Washington have set the world on the path to nuclear armageddon.

The Russian and Chinese governments both understand that their existence is threatened by Washington’s hegemonic ambitions. Larchmonter reports that in order to defeat Washington’s plans to marginalize both countries, the Russian and Chinese governments have decided to unify their economies into one and to conjoin their military commands. Henceforth, Russia and China move together on the economic and military fronts.

The unity of the Bear and the Dragon reduces the crazed neoconservatives’ dream of “an American century” to dangerous nonsense. As Larchmonter puts it, “The US and NATO would need Michael the Archangel to defeat China-Russia, and from all signs Michael the Archangel is aligned with the Bear and its Orthodox culture. There is no weapon, no strategy, no tactic conceivable in the near future to damage either of these rising economies now that they are ‘base pairs.’”

Larchmonter sees hope in the new geopolitics created by the conjoining of Russia and China. I don’t dispute this, but if the arrogant neoconservatives realize that their hegemonic policy has created a foe over which Washington cannot prevail, they will push for a pre-emptive nuclear strike before the Russian-Chinese unified command is fully operational. To forestall a sneak attack, Russia and China should operate on full nuclear alert.

The US economy–indeed the entire Western orientated economy from Japan to Europe–is a house of cards. Since the economic downturn began seven years ago, the entirety of Western economic policy has been diverted to the support of a few over-sized banks, sovereign debt, and the US dollar. Consequently, the economies themselves and the ability of populations to cope have deteriorated.

The financial markets are based on manipulation, not on fundamentals. The manipulation is untenable. With debt exploding, negative real interest rates make no sense. With real consumer incomes, real consumer credit, and real retail sales stagnant or falling, the stock market is a bubble.

With Russia, China, and other countries moving away from the use of the dollar to settle international accounts, with Russia developing an alternative to the SWIFT financial network, the BRICS developing alternatives to the IMF and World Bank, and with other parts of the world developing their own credit card and Internet systems, the US dollar, along with the Japanese and European currencies that are being printed in order to support the dollar’s exchange value, could experience a dramatic drop in exchange value, which would make the import-dependent Western world dysfunctional.

In my opinion, it took the Russians and Chinese too long to comprehend the evil that has control in Washington. Therefore, both countries risk nuclear attack prior to the full operational capability of their conjoined defense. As the Western economy is a house of cards, Russia and China could collapse the Western economy before the neoconservatives can drive the world to war. As Washington’s aggression against both countries is crystal clear, Russia and China have every right to the following defensive measures.

As the US and EU are conducting economic warfare against Russia, Russia could claim that by wrecking the Russian economy the West has deprived Russia of the ability to repay loans to the European banks. If this does not bring down the thinly capitalized EU banks, Russia can announce that as NATO countries are now officially recognized by Russian war doctrine as an enemy of the Russian state, Russia can no longer support NATO’s aggression against Russia by selling natural gas to NATO members. If the shutdown of much of European industry, rapidly rising rates of unemployment, and bank failures do not result in the dissolution of NATO and thus the end of the threat, the Chinese can act.

The Chinese hold a very large amount of dollar-denominated financial assets. Just as the Federal Reserve’s agents, the bullion banks, dump massive shorts onto the bullion futures markets during periods of little activity in order to drive down the bullion price, China can dump the equivalent in US Treasuries of years of Quantitative Easing in a few minutes. If the Federal Reserve quickly creates dollars with which to purchase the enormous quantity of Treasuries so that the financial house of cards does not implode, the Chinese can then dump the dollars that they are paid for the bonds in the currency market. Whereas the Federal Reserve can print dollars with which to purchase the Treasuries, the Fed cannot print foreign currencies with which to buy the dollars.

The dollar would collapse, and with it the power of the Hegemon. The war would be over without a shot or missile fired.

In my view, Russia and China owe it to the world to prevent the nuclear war intended by the neoconservatives simply by replying in kind to Washington’s economic warfare. Russia and China hold all the cards. Not Washington.

Russia and China should give no warning. They should just act. Indeed, instead of step by step, Russia and China could simultaneously use the counter-measures. With four US banks holding derivatives totaling many times world GDP, the financial explosion would be the equivalent to a nuclear one. The US and Europe would be finished, and the world would be saved.

Larchmonter possibly is correct. 2015 could be a very good year, but pre-emptive economic moves by Moscow and Beijing could be required. Putin’s current plan seems to be to turn away from the West, ignore the provocations, and mesh Russia’s strategic and economic interests with those of Asia. This is a humane and reasonable course of action, but it leaves the West untroubled and undistracted by its economic vulnerabilities. An untroubled West remains a grave danger not only to Russia and China but also to Americans and the entire world.

(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 and How America Was Lost.)

And believe it or not.

The following news article was casually published in the pages of the national paper-of-record on December 10, 2014.

And most people (it would seem) pretended that it made sense and then ignored it. Or something. After all, it was in the New York Times. The same paper which made its reputation from courageously publishing the Pentagon Papers. (Or so we thought - see WhoWhatWhy on the hidden history of this event.)

No mass revulsion began.

And life rolled on (for a while) for the citizens of the indispensable nation.

Organizer of Told CIA’s Most Blatant Lie about Iraq and WMD

This is extremely important information from the New York Times:

The website was organized by Bill Harlow, the C.I.A.’s director of public affairs from 1997 to 2004, who still acts as a spokesman for George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director when the interrogation program began.

“Our concern is that right now people are reporting the Feinstein report as if it’s true,” Mr. Harlow said. “We don’t think it’s true.”
Bill Harlow told the CIA’s most blatant lie about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, just weeks before the U.S. invaded in March, 2003. Here’s what happened:

By the end of February, 2003, the U.S. case for war with Iraq was disintegrating. That February 15th had seen demonstrations of millions across the world in the biggest antiwar rallies in human history; the British parliament was showing signs it might vote against participating in the invasion; and most crucially, the UN had found no trace of WMD in Iraq.

At that point Newsweek published what was, to the Bush administration and CIA, the most terrifying story possible – that Iraq likely had no WMD, and the United States knew it.

What Newsweek revealed was that in 1995, when Hussein Kamel – Saddam’s son-in-law and head of Iraq’s WMD programs – had defected to Jordan, he told the UN, CIA and British intelligence that in fact Iraq had no WMD left.

According to Newsweek, "The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.” But the story quickly gained traction online, and when Reuters followed up on the Newsweek story, they went to Bill Harlow:

The CIA on Monday denied a Newsweek magazine report that Saddam Hussein's son-in-law told the U.S. intelligence agency in 1995 that Iraq after the Gulf War destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver them. "It is incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue," CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said of the Newsweek report's allegations that Hussein Kamel told the CIA that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had destroyed all of his weapons of mass destruction.
Newsweek said Kamel, who headed Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs for 10 years, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that Iraq had destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles after the 1991 Gulf War.
"We've checked back and he didn't say this," a British government source told Reuters. "He said just the opposite, that the WMD program was alive and kicking."
Harlow of the CIA said: "Newsweek failed to ask us this question.”
There’s absolutely no ambiguity here; Harlow was lying through his teeth. He wasn’t addressing what Iraq was doing in 2003, or even whether what Hussein Kamel had said in 1995 was true. Rather, he was simply addressing what Kamel said, something that the CIA knew with 100% certainty.

But don't take my word for it. The notes from Kamel's debriefing are now online, and anyone with an internet connection can see for themselves:


Bill Harlow is a liar, and nothing he says should be believed.

P.S. It wasn't just Bill Harlow who lied about Hussein Kamel. Dick Cheney also lied about him in his biggest pre-war speech, claiming that Kamel had said that Saddam had "resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," when in fact Kamel had said exactly the opposite.

P.P.S. Weirdly, Harlow wrote a pretty good thriller in 1999 about terrorists trying to hijack a plane and crash it into the Knesset in Israel.

UPDATE: Newsweek has published a story about which mentions Harlow: 

"The former CIA officials behind the site include Bill Harlow, a top CIA spokesperson during the George W. Bush administration..."

Unfortunately, there's so little institutional memory at media outlets now that there's no mention of the fact that Harlow lied about what should have been one of the most important stories in Newsweek's history.

Posted at December 10, 2014

In Memoriam:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

(War On the Working Class?)  Bilderbergians Love Austerity (For YOU) What It Means To Your Future  (New Enemies Needed To Ward Off Boredom)  Corruption in DOJ Prosecutions?  (Say It Ain't So, Beau!)

Such conditions require a country to “fix the problem” that created its fiscal crisis. But the main problem facing countries, according to bankers, economists, technocrats and politicians, is that they spend far too much money on social services that benefit their populations. Therefore, in order for a country to be able to borrow, it must implement “correct” policies designed to balance its budget and restore public finances. These policies are collectively described as “austerity measures,” and the process of implementing them is frequently referred to as “fiscal consolidation.” Long story short:  governments must cut spending.

This means that healthcare, education, pensions, welfare and social services must be drastically gutted, masses of public sector employees must be fired, and taxes must be increased. Thus, austerity creates a new class of unemployed, pushed into poverty and deprived of all the resources that are meant to help the poor and disadvantaged, let alone everyone else.

The economy goes into a deep depression as people stop spending and businesses collapse, unemployment and poverty soar, suicide and mortality rates increase, and racial and ethnic conflicts erupt. All of this is done so that a country is able to get a large loan (sometimes called a national bailout) from institutions like the IMF, European Union and the central banks of powerful U.S., Japanese and European nations. This loan is provided in order to pay the interest the country owes to the global financial cartel.

Populations are impoverished and societies are devastated in order to pay interest to global banks. All of this happens as a result of numbers on screens. This is “austerity,” or “fiscal consolidation,” as we know it.

Ever wonder where your wealth (and hopes for a good life as well as some type of decent retirement) went?

It's not that much of a mystery.

Did I hear someone mention Rahm Emanuel (the perfect tool) yet?

Originally posted at

Austerity has several names and phrases, including “fiscal consolidation” and “balancing the budget.” There are so many things to call it – but in the end you know it’s austerity because the policies are the same and the effects of those policies are, too. There is a reason why political and technocratic language is made to sound so vague and dull:  because behind the words lie brutal actions and devastating consequences. If we understood their true meaning, their use would very often be shocking and unacceptable. Instead, their use has become common and seemingly inconsequential.

Here, however, are the consequences:   Austerity is a set of policies which are, in theory, designed to help a nation or government reduce its “budget deficit,” balance its books and, in time, even produce a yearly “surplus,” or profit. Thus, “austerity measures” are designed to do one thing:   cut spending on almost everything, except, of course, the really important things like military and police, subsidies to large banks and corporations, and debt repayments. Otherwise it’s like at a clearance sale for countries, where everything must go.

From Andrew Gavin Marshall we learn the history of how things got so grand for the rich (and so poverty-stricken for those at the bottom of the wealth pyramid):

This is the sixth installment in a series examining the activities and individuals behind the Bilderberg Group. Read the first partsecond partthird partfourth part, and fifth part in the series.

It could almost be a slogan:  Bilderberg brings people together. Specifically, every year, the Bilderberg Group holds secret, “private” meetings at four star hotels around the world, bringing together nearly 150 of the world’s most influential bankers, corporate executives, dynasties, heads-of-state, foreign policy strategists, central bankers and finance ministers. It also invites the heads of international organizations, think tanks, foundations, universities, military and intelligence officials, media barons, journalists and academics.

Participants at Bilderberg appreciate having a closed-door forum where they can speak openly and directly to one other – and of course, not to us. But perhaps we, the people, would also like to hear what they have to say. For the past four years, Bilderbergers have been running around the world preaching the gospel of “austerity” and “structural reform” – very important terms. If you don’t know what they mean, Bilderbergers are working their day jobs to make sure you will learn.

. . . Either coupled with or following from austerity measures, lenders and bankers demand that the conditions of the loans include not only “necessary” austerity measures, but also important “structural reforms.”

This bland term hides policies and objectives behind it that have the effect of radically altering the entire structure of the economy over a period of several years or even decades. These “reforms” will make the economy strong and “competitive” again, and bring the country out of its austerity-induced depression.

Typical structural reforms include privatizing all state-owned companies, assets and resources, which allow foreign companies, states and banks to purchase important national assets cheaply (and provide a short cash infusion in the process). Countries then have to further “liberalize” markets by reducing any and all government protections and regulations over specific sectors of the economy, allowing foreign banks and corporations to “compete” on an “even playing field.”

This forces local and national industries, businesses and communities to compete against some of the largest transnational corporations in the world, many with more wealth and assets than their entire country is worth. As a result, foreign investors can afford to out-compete the local economy by providing cheaper products and services while maintaining global profits. Local businesses cannot compete, so they fail or are bought up. This often contributes to growing unemployment.

One of the key “structural reforms” demanded is “labor flexibility.” In countries with unions, workers rights, pensions and protections, where the labor force has institutional power, the labor market is often considered “rigid.” It does not bend to the wishes and demands of corporations and financial markets that want labor to be “flexible” to their demands.

What do they demand? Cheap, exploitable labor. Implementing “labor flexibility” means it’s necessary to dismantle labor protections, regulations and benefits. Essentially, it’s a war on the working class.

Structural reforms,” in essence, open up a nation, its resources and its population to be controlled, exploited and plundered by the world’s largest banks and corporations.

These would be hard policies to sell if those who sold them spoke plainly. Instead, they describe a world in which nations need to “increase competitiveness” and implement the necessary “structural reforms” to create “economic growth.”

The point is that it’s all so technical, you’re not supposed to understand it. But actually, it’s pretty simple. Which is why, every day, more and more of us are getting the message.


Steve Wiseman
December 26, 2014

So that’s why Andrew Jackson tried to kill the banks, why Woodrow Wilson, who had let the bankers create the privately owned Federal Reserve take control of the US money supply, proclaim, ”I have ruined my country”, and why the Canadian debt went from a manageable 100 million to over a billion once the Prime Ministers started borrowing money from the private banks rather than their own Central Bank, The Bank of Canada. And why we are all so much in such a horrible, death debt today.

ISIS too boring an enemy to hear about over and over? Beheadings gotten too yucky?

Not to worry, the NSA is on the job. From Bad Attitudes:

Our New Enemy Of The Week?

So how much mileage can the US get out of North Korean hackers? I’m no expert — I only play one on a blog, ha ha — but on the villain scale, I place them higher than Somali pirates but lower than hooded ISIS maniacs waving severed heads around.

Let’s face it, the whole war on terror thing is getting old. It just doesn’t rally the people like it used to. Americans crave newness and novelty. If you give them the same old enemies over and over again they will get bored, and if they get bored they might start seriously complaining about jobs and the economy and stuff, which mustn’t be allowed to happen.

So what’s an incompetent and increasingly unpopular national security state to do? They can’t wait around for Putin to become a Hitler forever, and their attempt to turn him into one was a big fat dud. So until something bigger and badder comes along, scary North Koreans doing scary things on computers will have to do. The fact that they might not have been responsible for that dastardly plot to prevent Americans from seeing a crappy movie is irrelevant. It has truthiness, and truthiness is all our national security institutions need in order to stir up hysteria, start shit with someone, and demand more funding (and power).

Emptywheel clears up even more christmas country conundrums.

Thanks for the holiday cheer!

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Lanny Breuer’s Conflicts

December 30, 2014


NYT has a story based off a CREW FOIA for details of FBI’s investigations into John Ensign’s efforts to buy off his mistress’ husband. While the details show Ensign was even more sleazy than we knew, I’m at least as interested in this passage:

The Justice Department’s decision not to charge Mr. Ensign was widely seen as a sign of its skittishness about prosecuting and potentially losing public corruption cases in the wake of stinging courtroom defeats against former Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska and John Edwards of North Carolina.

The documents confirm that speculation:  In an internal email in 2011 assessing the chances of prosecuting Mr. Ensign, a top prosecutor wrote that “the legal theory is possible with the right facts” but that the “mere response” of helping a former Senate employee to find work “is not enough.” Another prosecutor wrote that “this is a really tough case to win.”

The documents show that the investigation was also complicated by a legal conflict; Lanny A. Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division at the time, had worked with a defense lawyer in the Ensign camp at Mr. Breuer’s prior law firm, Covington & Burling.

Mr. Breuer was temporarily recused from the Ensign investigation as a result of the conflict, the records show, but later got a waiver that allowed him to oversee it with certain restrictions, officials said.

In 2012, Mr. Breuer and the Justice Department decided not to bring criminal charges against Mr. Ensign.

Even the Senate (!) was willing to discipline Ensign. But DOJ chose not to. And at the center of that decision was Lanny Breuer, whose once and future firm, Covington & Burling, represented Ensign. And yet Breuer found a way to un-recuse himself from the case.

It is not at all a surprise that Breuer didn’t manage his conflicts well. I argued that he didn’t back in 2009, when he made the decision to bury Dick Cheney’s CIA leak investigation interview (and make no mention of his quasi-grand jury appearance), even though he had represented John Kiriakou in the CIA leak case (and in helping him avoid grand jury testimony, hide that Cheney and Libby knew Plame was CIA earlier than they said they did).

Ironically, that was also for a CREW FOIA.

Maybe CREW should just skip the interim step and FOIA all the times Breuer ignored the conflicts he had on issues he presided over?


2 Responses to As FBI’s Amerithrax Case Continues to Crumble, Bureau Digs in on North Korea Claims

Francine Fein on December 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm

My totally unscientific, technologically uneducated, first thought was that this was a brilliant marketing scheme — Sony got lots of media attention and more people were interested in seeing the movie than it would have gotten otherwise.

bevin on December 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm

The speed at which the US government is burning its credibility suggests a deep seated death wish- a secret desire not to be consulted or taken seriously- by an Empire which cannot bear the suspense of waiting for its next humiliation.

Nothing the government says is true:

Saddam did not have WMDs
Ghaddaffi was not massacring ‘his own people’ nor was he planning to do so.
Assad did not launch poison gas attacks on civilians.
Putin was not responsible for the current bloody chaos in Ukraine- the US was.
The self defense militias in the Donbass did not shoot down a Malaysian airliner.
North Korea did not sink a South Korean warship three or four years ago…etc etc. (Let’s not even talk about the Iranian plot to blow up a restaurant in Washington.)

The worrying thing is that no sooner does one of these transparently false-often on the face of it ludicrously so- claims get vomited out, normally by an anonymous “official”, than Obama or Kerry publicly claims it to be a casus belli.

And there aren’t six sane voices in Congress to contradict them. It is pitiful.

Monday, December 29, 2014

NPR Propagandizes Against Putin for Regime-Change in Russia (Knock US Over With Déjà Vu)

NPR joins the militant elite at PBS?

Gotta watch who keeps appointing those unbiased media leaders.

Or not.

NPR Propagandizes Against Putin for Regime-Change in Russia

December 27, 2014

Eric Zuesse.

On Friday, December 26th, National Public Radio aired two superbly done pieces of anti-Russia propaganda, which could as well have been written by the U.S. CIA, or by Voice of America, it was so skillfully deceiving.

One of these propaganda-pieces, on “Morning Edition,” presented Eleanor Beardsley alleging that the anti-immigrant political parties in Britain and France are anti-U.S. and pro-Russian because they are supposedly all “far right”; and the other piece, on “All Things Considered,” presented Corey Flintoff alleging that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “seized Crimea” (as if he hadn’t actually rescued it) and thereby caused U.S. President Barack Obama and the EU to respond with economic sanctions as punishment for the ‘seizure” (actually, as we’ll show, rescue).

Here, the two ‘news reports’ will be exposed:

First, Beardsley’s propaganda-piece:  it was titled “Europe’s Far Right And Putin Get Cozy, With Benefits For Both.” She noted that, in France, “Marine Le Pen, head of the National Front, has made no secret of her admiration for Putin,” while, across the English Channel, “Nigel Farage, the head of UKIP, Britain’s far-right party, called Putin one of the world leaders he admires most.” Beardsley was trying to suggest that Vladimir Putin is a fascist, and she argued on this false basis that “Europe’s Far Right And Putin Get Cozy” because they’re all “far right.”

What she was trying to get across is more like the opposite of the truth than the truth, because what Putin and Europe’s anti-immigrant parties actually share is not extreme conservatism (which they don’t share at all; Putin isn’t that) but is instead more like the very opposite of that:  they share a rejection of U.S. global supremacy or “hegemony”:  they reject the U.S. as having a right to control their country’s policies and destinies — in other words:  they reject U.S. imperialism, and this is a rejection that all of them share also with progressives in America, hardly with America’s champions of imperialism, such as are, for example, in the U.S., Bill Kristol’s and Robert Kagan’s Project for a New American Century, which was the actually far-right, Rupert-Murdoch-funded, movement that George W. Bush adhered to, that beat the drums incessantly for his “regime change in Iraq,” and for invading Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

To put this matter clearly, here’s what they all reject, and what President Obama asserted at West Point on May 28th:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us. … So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed [properly spelled ‘past,’ but this is his text] and it will be true for the century to come.”

Obama was saying there that any nation, such as Russia, which challenges the right of the U.S. Government to determine the appropriate parameters for all other nations’ policies, must be crushed, because the U.S. is superior. By contrast, anti-imperialists argue that no nation possesses any such right of being “world policeman” — the international judge, jury, and executioner — as Obama claims for America. None:  not the U.S., not Russia, none at all.

This is an extremely different reality from the lie, the PR hoax, that Eleanor Beardsley was selling to listeners on NPR.

That’s hers; and here’s the other:

Corey Flintoff’s propaganda-piece was titled, “For Russia’s President, A Year Of Costly Triumphs,” and it repeatedly said that the cause of the economic sanctions against Russia is “Russia’s seizure of Crimea.” Parroting the White House’s line that the transfer of Crimea back to Russia — after the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had donated it to Ukraine in 1954 against the wishes of Crimea’s residents, which Flintoff conveniently failed even to mention — had instead been “Russia’s aggression.” Flintoff’s account made no mention at all of the key relevant facts, necessary to understand the event, including also the following three:

(1) The March 16th, 2014, referendum of the voters in Crimea, produced a 96% vote to secede.

(2) Gallup polled 500 Crimeans during May 16-30 in 2013, and found that only 15% considered themselves “Ukrainian.” 24% considered themselves “Crimean.” But 40% considered themselves “Russian.” Even before Obama’s February 2014 coup which overthrew the Ukrainian President whom 80% of Crimeans had voted for, the Crimean people overwhelmingly wanted to secede from Ukraine — and, especially now they did, right after the President for whom they had overwhelmingly voted, Viktor Yanukovych, had been overthrown in this extremely bloody coup.

Furthermore, in April 2014, Gallup again polled Crimea, and they found that 71.3% of Crimeans viewed as “Mostly positive” the role of Russia there, and 4.0% viewed it as “Mostly negative”; by contrast, only 2.8% viewed the role of the United States there as “Mostly positive,” and a whopping 76.2% viewed it as “Mostly negative.”

During the intervening year, Crimeans’ favorability toward America had plunged down to 2.8%, from its year-earlier 6%. Clearly, what Obama had done in Ukraine (his violent coup in Kiev) had antagonized the Crimeans. And, as if that weren’t enough, the 2014 poll provided yet more evidence:  “The 500 people that were sampled in Crimea were asked [and this is crucial] ‘Please tell me if you agree or disagree:  The results of the referendum on Crimea’s status [whether to rejoin Russia] reflect the views of most people here.’ 82.8% said ‘Agree.’ 6.7% said ‘Disagree.’”

In the hearts of the local residents, Crimea was still Russian territory, after an involuntary hiatus of 60 years; and so the Russian Government accepted them back again, into Russia — this was not as Corey Flintoff droned, “Russia’s seizure of Crimea.” It was Russia’s protection of them from the invasion of Ukraine by the United States in a bloody coup.

(3) Ever since 1783, Russia’s core national security asset, its Black Sea Fleet, was stationed in Crimea, but Obama’s Ukrainian coup-Government wanted to kick them out (and this is one of the reasons why Obama perpetrated his coup). The aggression here was entirely on the American side. Russia wasn’t responding only in order to protect Crimeans; Russia was especially responding in order to protect its core naval base.

The Obama regime overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected leader in February 2014 in a brazen act of military aggression against Russia; and National Public Radio (like so many ‘news’ media) is trying to fool the American public into thinking what the Administration wants them to think:  that the aggression is instead by Russia, and is against the rest of the world, so that the already bloated U.S. military should get involved in yet another war, this one that’s now building, against Russia.

In closing, the key fact should be mentioned that it is Obama and not Putin who is following in the footsteps of Adolf Hitler. The extreme-conservative, at least in foreign policy, is Obama, not Putin. So, Eleanor Beardsley’s falsehood was just about as egregious as can possibly be imagined.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close:  The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS:  The Event that Created Christianity.

Not to worry though.

Everything's as it should be.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

(Former IMF Chief Economist:  Break Up Citigroup!)  Obamacare Spending All Dumped into the Third Quarter in Order to Maintain the Illusion of Economic Recovery . . . The Financial Media by Refusing to Ask Obvious Questions Have Left the American People Unprepared for Another Drop in Living Standards and Ability to Cope

Sardonicky has the last word on our last words of the year.

Don't miss them. They are more than worth your time.

The Game's Afoot!

Dr. Pangloss Amuck.

Former IMF Chief Economist: Break Up Citigroup

By Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate

27 December 14

merica’s presidential campaign is already well underway. The election is not until November 2016, and very few candidates have formally thrown their hats into the ring, but the competition to promote and develop ideas – both behind closed doors and publicly – is in fully swing.

Earlier this month, Citigroup took advantage of this formative political moment by seizing an opportunity to score a tactical victory – but one that amounts to a strategic blunder. Using legislative language apparently drafted by Citi’s own lobbyists, the firm successfully pressed for the repeal of some of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms. The provision was then passed after it was attached to a last-minute spending bill – a tactic that ensured very little debate in the House of Representatives and none at all in the Senate.

At a stroke, Citi executives demonstrated both their continued political clout in Washington and their continued desire to take on excessive amounts of financial risk (which is what this particular legal change permits).

Lobbying to be allowed to load up on risk is exactly what Citi did during the 1990s and 2000s under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – with catastrophic consequences for the broader economy in 2007-09.

As a result, breaking up Citigroup is under serious consideration as a potential campaign theme. For example, in a powerful speech – watched online more than a half-million times – Senator Elizabeth Warren responded uncompromisingly to the megabanks’ latest display of muscle: “Let’s pass something – anything – that would help break up these giant banks.”

Defenders of the megabanks – Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley – dismiss Warren as an avatar of left-wing populism. But this is a serious misconception; in fact, Warren is attracting a great deal of support from the center and the right.

Senator David Vitter of Louisiana is the most prominent Republican member of Congress in favor of limiting the size and power of the biggest banks, but there are others who lean in a similar direction. Similarly, the vice chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Thomas Hoenig, a political independent, consistently warns about the dangers associated with megabanks. And former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair, a Republican from Kansas, argues strongly for additional measures to rein in the biggest banks.

From the perspective of anyone seeking the nomination of either of America’s political parties, here is an issue that cuts across partisan lines. “Break up Citigroup” is a concrete and powerful idea that would move the financial system in the right direction. It is not a panacea, but the coalition that can break up Citi can also put in place other measures to make the financial system safer – including more effective consumer protection, greater transparency in markets, and higher capital requirements for major banks.

From the left, the emphasis has been on the megabanks’ abuse of power and the great rip-off of the middle class. From the right, the stress is on the hazards of crony capitalism, owing to the massive implicit government subsidies that these banks receive. But both left and right agree on the fundamental asymmetry that the recent “Citigroup Amendment” implies: Bankers get rich whether they win or lose, because the US taxpayer foots the bill when their risky bets fail.

Potential Republican presidential candidates have hesitated to take up this issue in public – perhaps feeling that it will inhibit their ability to raise money from Wall Street. Among the Democrats, however, the opportunity seems to be much more compelling; indeed, avoiding a confrontation with Wall Street might actually create problems for a candidate (as Hillary Clinton may well find out).

The Progressive Change Institute is currently running “The Big Ideas Project,” whereby people can vote on what they regard as the most important policy proposals. Three of the top ten ideas under “Economy & Jobs” are about imposing greater constraints on the big banks – and there is a sharp upward trend in support for Break Up Citigroup (full disclosure: I suggested this item for the website).

This idea would play well in the Democratic primary elections (which start in early 2016). And, because it forms the basis for responsible policies, it would attract support from centrists. And voters on the right like proposals that offer a credible way to end the favoritism – if not outright corruption – that has come to define the relationship between the top levels of government and Wall Street.

“Break up Citigroup, end dangerous government subsidies, and bring back the market.” The US presidential candidate who says this in 2016 – and says it most convincingly – has a good chance of winning it all.

When the Reagan Revolutionaries changed all the metrics on inflation, growth, unemployment and just about everything to do with money being doled out through recently-cut programs to regular taxpayers, the rich patted themselves on the back and began to figure out even wilder schemes to steal everything that wasn't nailed down in the USA USA USA!

You can't even argue about it now.

(That's why they invented Foxed News.)

With 30% of 30-year old Americans and almost 50% of 25-year olds living with parents, with debt-based derivative instruments impacted by falling oil and industrial commodity prices, with the likelihood that the US and EU economic attack on Russia will fail and perhaps produce retaliatory measures that could bring down the European banking system, look for 2015 to be the year that Washington will cease to get away with its economic lies.

PCR has the absolute last word.

Magic Growth Numbers From The Government

December 26, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts

Everyone wants good news, so the government makes it up. The latest fiction is that US real GDP grew 4.6% in the second quarter and 5% in the third.

Where did this growth come from?

Not from rising real consumer incomes.

Not from rising consumer credit.

Not from rising real retail sales.

Not from the housing sector.

Not from a trade surplus.

The growth came from a Bureau of Economic Analysis survey of consumer spending on services. The BEA found that spending on Obamacare drove the US real GDP growth to 5% in the third quarter.

In America, unlike in other countries, a huge chunk of medical spending goes to insurance company profits, not to health care. Another big chunk goes to paperwork, which has a variety of purposes such as collecting personal information on patients and combating fraud (probably the paperwork costs more than fraud). Another chunk goes for tests and procedures in order to justify further procedures.

For example, if a doctor thinks a patient’s diagnosis requires a MRI, he must often first order an x-ray to establish that a cheaper procedure does not suffice. If a cancerous skin growth needs to come off, first a biopsy must be done to establish that it is a cancer so that a needless removal is not performed. And, of course, medical practicians must order unnecessary tests in order to protect themselves from the liability of relying on their medical judgment.

To regard any of these expenses as economic growth is farfetched.

There are sampling and other problems with the survey of personal consumption, and apparently Obamacare spending was all dumped into the third quarter. Why the third quarter?

The answer is that the illusion of economic recovery must be kept alive.

Real GDP growth of 5% in the third quarter is inconsistent with the sharp fall in key industrial commodity prices. It is not only oil (down 47%) but iron ore prices (down 49%), natural gas (down 30%), copper (down 15%). Pam and Russ Martens show that the fall in the producer price index for industrial commodities in 2014 is sharper than in 2008, the year of the crash.

With 30% of 30-year old Americans and almost 50% of 25-year olds living with parents, with debt-based derivative instruments impacted by falling oil and industrial commodity prices, with the likelihood that the US and EU economic attack on Russia will fail and perhaps produce retaliatory measures that could bring down the European banking system, look for 2015 to be the year that Washington will cease to get away with its economic lies.

The financial media and Wall Street economists by refusing to ask obvious questions have left the American people unprepared for another drop in their living standards and ability to cope.

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 and How America Was Lost.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

One More Instance of Uneducated (Or Just Naive?) U.S. Citizens Hearing "Socialist!" or "Communist!" and Not Thinking Too Hard (Again)

The holiday fund-raiser has begun and all contributions to this blog's maintenance are welcomed!

I'm not that farsighted.

But I always appreciate people who are.

It's never too early to be put on alert about changes that may affect your ability to live well.

Or live at all.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Here's The Jimmy Stewart Scene That Inspired The FBI To Warn Americans That "It's A Wonderful Life" Was Commie Propaganda

Today the 1946 Frank Capra film is universally considered a Christmas classic but when it was first released, the FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee tried to label it Communist propaganda. In 1947, an FBI document, Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry, went after two of the screen writers, Frances Goodrich and her husband Albert Hackett for, among other things, "eating lunch daily with" known Communist screen writers.

According to Michael Winship, Bill Moyers senior writer, the FBI - which was working with Ayn Rand on this crackpot project - was not happy with the film's storyline, in which the hero, Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, was in opposition to "the avarice and power of banker and slumlord Henry Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore." The FBI memo accused the film of "a rather obvious attempt to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a 'scrooge-type' so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists." The movie also "deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters."

Ayn Rand wasn't the only right-wing extremist cooperating with the FBI in its attempt to censor popular culture. Among the other rats:  Gary Cooper, Walt Disney and, of course, Ronald Reagan. Today, these same types are going out of their minds because Pope Francis has been turning the Catholic Church away from knee-jerk conservatism and towards - horror of horrors - the actual message of Jesus Christ. All the talk about banksters and capitalism's excesses has been bad enough for them, but now the Pope has been shaking up the conservatism that dominates the curia itself.

Offering his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, the senior churchmen who run the Holy See, Pope Francis, having observed at close quarters for the past 20 months how the Vatican actually works, unexpectedly gave his Roman bureaucrats a severe dressing down.

He listed 15 deadly sins - "ailments" he called them - that he had witnessed since he took office. Too much micro-management, too little internal co-ordination, examples of boastfulness, showing off, claiming to be indispensible, a tendency to gossip and defamation and, even worse, clerics leading double lives.

...According to worldwide polls conducted by the prestigious US-based Pew Research Centre, a majority of people in over half the 43 countries surveyed say they had a positive view of Pope Francis, with particularly high ratings in Europe (84%) and Latin America (72%).

Part of his popularity derives from favourable media comment on his style of communication with his flock and with outsiders, but also with his style of Church government:

He has made it increasingly clear that he has no time for careerism among Catholic clergy and has started to shift long-tenured cardinals and bishops away from the Vatican

He has moved cautiously but effectively to clean up the money-laundering scandal concerning the Vatican Bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), which had tarnished the image of the church for the past two decades

He installed Australian Cardinal George Pell as overseer of all Vatican finances

From 1 January, new accounting and management practices become operative within all Vatican departments. They will be obliged to draw up detailed annual budgets, which - astonishingly - had never been done in the past
...Perhaps Pope Francis's most significant quote of the year was during a recent interview with La Nacion, a newspaper from his home town in Argentina, Buenos Aires.

Acknowledging internal resistance to his planned reforms, he said: "It's a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It's very healthy to get things out into the open!"
Perhaps getting everything out in the open would have protected Pope John Paul I from being murdered by the curia after just a month. He was also trying to reform the corrupt, reactionary Vatican, albeit more quietly. The Pope is even making an impact inside the Beltway. Today, Brent Budowsky, writing for The Hill suggested a "Ready For Pope Francis" movement, asserting he's the most popular public figure in the world.

The people’s pope, alone among world leaders, has directly and forcefully confronted institutions of finance, politics, media and now the organization that governs the Catholic Church itself.

For this reason, while the 21st century remains young, we may be witnessing in real time the leadership of a man historians will ultimately regard as one of the greatest men of the century.

Jesus taught that the last shall be first, that we should sell all of our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor, and that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus forcefully challenged the institutions of his time, as Francis does, and for this he was crucified.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus not because of big discounts during holiday sales but because His message of love and generosity is timeless and common to teachings of great faiths everywhere. It is with this faith that Francis teaches and with this standard that, while Francis condemns abuses of institutions in almost every power center of the world, he criticizes himself and asks for forgiveness - an honesty more politicians might practice.

When Francis notes that as the stock market rises it becomes a banner headline but when millions of homeless people suffer they are treated like nonpersons to be forgotten, he is challenging the institutions of media.

When Francis condemns abuses of greed in the economy and calls for dramatic reforms, he is challenging financial institutions and calling for dramatic change.

When Francis condemns the environmental degradation that could destroy the planet itself, he is challenging business and political institutions that fail to be stewards of the earth.

When Francis teaches love and kindness toward the poor, he is challenging politicians who support cutting help for the poor, such as food stamps, a program the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly supports.

It is said that when Francis read stories about would-be immigrants who died seeking a better life when their overcrowded boats sank in stormy seas, and learned that when the bodies were recovered the drowned mothers were still tightly hugging their sons and daughters with love during their last moments of life, he rededicated himself to humane treatment for immigrants. Francis challenges those in power who think otherwise, as some in earlier generations did when they opposed immigration of those who were Italian, Irish and Jewish, among others.

When Francis excoriates some members of the Catholic Curia itself, listing 15 “ailments and temptations” that corrupt their service to the Lord, as he did this week in his Christmas address that read like an indictment of abuses of power within the church itself, he is challenging the institutions of governance he leads.

posted by DownWithTyranny @ 10:00 AM
1 comment  |  Reddit

1 Comment:

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...
Cut out the religion, and Pope Frank could be the social reformer the world needs. But I'm certain that the Cardinals are already planning the night cap that ensures Frank doesn't wake up some morning soon. His recent slap in their faces had to sting! You are wise to note the condition of John Paul I's passing. It is about to happen again.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Billionaire Sentenced To Prison  (E.O. Wilson Predicts Bye Bye Biodiversity)  We Just Enjoyed the Last Christmas in America?  (Respect My Authoritah!)


Billionaire Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

By Rob Kall

Just imagine that happening in the US - any billionaire going to jail. Is it possible?

. . . There are more billionaires in the US than any other country in the world. The only one I can think of who was convicted was probably no longer a billionaire by the time he was convicted - Kenneth Lay's Enron shares had become worthless. And then he died - though Wikipedia says, "There have been conspiracy theories about his death."

Still, with 492 billionaires, according to Wikipedia, we might estimate that at least 40 or 50 of them are psychopath or sociopath. That's a frightening thought. Then again. there are no stats or studies on billionaires. It could be that half of them or more are predatory, narcissistic sociopaths.

As I've written in the series this article is a part of, it is time to legislate and by other legal means end the age of billionaires. They are far too dangerous, even the well meaning ones.

Maybe, though, the way Ken Lay ended up being prosecuted is the way it needs to be done - taking down the whole company that's been run by a criminal.

. . . It's estimated that eight percent of the population is sociopathic and that there are a higher percentage running corporations. I'd speculate that it takes some sociopathy to become a billionaire-- not for all, but for many. Sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists don't believe that laws and rules apply to them - they live as thought they are above them.

We've had 14 years of Attorneys General who have protected the wealthy and prosecuted the whistleblower heroes. It's time that is changed. Hong Kong can do it. The Bloomberg article even suggests that mainland China influence helped to make it happen.

I wonder what it will take, what kind of influence will be necessary for the US to start prosecuting billionaires, CEOs and let's throw in bad cops too.

Seems like big changes need to be made in order to stop the hemorrhaging of our biodiversity. Don't miss this video. It's short and pithy as to our future under neoconners.

E.O. Wilson talks about the threat to Earth’s biodiversity

Predictions for the new year?

What else is new?

From Of Two Minds:

December 25, 2014

We Just Enjoyed the Last Christmas in America

The end of rising wages = the end of mass affluence:  we just enjoyed the Last Christmas in America (TLCIA).

As unemployment topped 10%, the January 1975 cover of Ramparts magazine blared:  The End of Affluence:  The Last Christmas in America. (TLCIA)

The government responded to the high unemployment, rampant inflation and rising budget deficits by manipulating data to mask the politically inconvenient realities of inflation, unemployment and deficits by playing with Social Security Trust Funds, inflation data, etc. - games it continues to play to cloak reality from the media-numbed public.

The economic stagnation, despite various stock market rallies and false starts, essentially lasted 10 years, from 1973 to 1982.

The malaise had a happy ending:  huge new oil fields were discovered in Alaska, the North Sea, West Africa and elsewhere, ushering in a renewed era of cheap, abundant petroleum. President Reagan re-set Social Security for a generation and introduced a lower taxes, higher permanent deficits ideology that is now accepted as the only possible way to sustain the Status Quo:  deficits don't matter, even when they reach the trillions, because our good friends the Gulf Oil Exporters and Asian exporters will buy all our debt forever and ever, keeping interest low forever and ever.

(And if they drop the ball, then the Federal Reserve prints money and buys trillions of dollars of Treasury bonds. Sweet! We don't need any external buyers, just the Federal Reserve creating money out of thin air.)

Then the U.S. created and launched two revolutionary technologies which both created new wealth around the globe:  the personal computer (microprocessor and cheap RAM) and the Internet (TCP/IP, Ethernet, and the commercialization of Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web with free browsers) spawning the generation-long boom of the 1980s and 90s.

Those "saves from stagnation" were one-offs; there will be no more supergiant energy finds, nor any equivalents of the Internet expansion cycle.

When the wheels inevitably fell off the Internet/tech boom in 2000, the U.S. did not create a new engine of wealth:  it opted instead for a devilishly insidious simulacrum of wealth:  debt which rose at an exponential rate throughout the economy.

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Borrowed money and phony financial legerdemain (mortgage-backed securities, derivatives based on the MBS, etc. etc.) from 2000-2007 created what I have termed a "bogus prosperity":  no actual new productive wealth was created, only a brief and self-liquidating bubble of debt-based housing and stock valuations.

Compare the rate of GDP growth (another unreliable indicator, but all we have) with the astonishing rise in debt:

Meanwhile, wages adjusted for inflation have stagnated for 15 years while asset prices for stores of value such as housing in desirable areas have skyrocketed in terms of median household income:

Real household income has declined in the Bubble Era across the entire income spectrum:

Here is real median household income and labor's share of the economy:  both are in structural decline, and inflating asset bubbles has done nothing to reverse either trend.

Why will Christmas 2014 be the last Christmas in America? It's simple: declining wages cannot support an ever-expanding mountain of debt.

The Federal Reserve has played a game for six long years of lowering the cost of debt (i.e. the rate of interest borrowers must pay), which has enabled stagnating wages to support ever heavier debt loads.

There is an endgame in sight to this financial trickery, a point of diminishing returns to lower interest rates:  the Fed can't drop rates lower than 0%. Borrowers simply can't qualify for more debt, regardless of interest rates.

The extreme fragility of an economy based on ever-expanding mountains of debt piled on declining incomes is apparent:  if the Fed can't raise interest rates even a tiny quarter point without threatening to collapse the unstable pyramid of debt-based affluence/ consumption, what does that say about the fragility of the "growth" (supposedly running at a hot 5% annually) and "prosperity"?

Claiming that a few hundred dollars in lower gasoline costs per household will enable a desert of declining income to bloom is the equivalent of claiming that an inch of rain in Death Valley will transform the desert into a lush tropical rain forest.

Remember the lackluster Christmas of 2014; well, the endgame of expanding debt will play out as every endgame does:  furious moves by central bankers will prolong checkmate but not transform the inevitable loss into a win. Media sound and fury are no substitute for rising real household wages and incomes.

And speaking of the rearing of the rich . . .

They forgot how to say "Thank you!"?

From our buddies at Crooks & Liars:

Respect My Authoritah!

Regardless of the fact that it's been a recovery for the wheeler-dealers for a long time now, they've spent the Obama years sulking.

Respect My Authoritah!
So maybe now it's a recovery for the rest of us:

The U.S. economy roared into overdrive in the third quarter as consumer and business spending fueled the biggest expansion in more than a decade.

Gross domestic product grew at a 5 percent annual rate from July through September, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003 and up from a previously estimated 3.9 percent, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 4.3 percent increase in GDP....
It's been a recovery for the wheeler-dealers for a long time now. Here's the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past five years:

And yet the wheeler-dealers have spent the Obama years sulking:

Well, you can lump them in with the cop unions and intelligence professionals, who've decided lately that they get an inadequate amount of respect, a word that, to them, means "unquestioning deference."

Charlie Pierce is right to say that revolt within the intelligence and cop communities is a threat to our political system:

For the past two weeks, on two different fronts, we have been confronted with the unpleasant fact that there are people working in the institutions of our self-government who believe themselves not only beyond the control and sanctions of the civil power, but also beyond the control and sanctions of their direct superiors.... In Washington, John Brennan, the head of the CIA, came right up to the edge of insubordination against the president who hired him in the wake of the Senate report on American torture.

Meanwhile, in New York, in the aftermath of weeks of protests against the strangulation of Eric Garner by members of the New York Police Department, two patrolmen, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were murdered in their squad car by a career criminal and apparent maniac named Ismaaiyl Brinsley. In response, ... the NYPD is acting in open rebellion against Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, and the civil power he represents over them. This is an incredibly perilous time for democracy at the most basic levels....

It is very simple. If the CIA is insubordinate to the president, whom the country elected, then it is insubordinate to all of us. If the NYPD runs a slow-motion coup against the freely elected mayor of New York, then it is running a slow-motion coup against all the people of New York. There is no exemption from this fundamental truth about the way this country and its system is supposed to work.
It's dangerous that we're losing sight of the basic notion that these people work for us, not the other way around. But we're also surrendering to the notion that we get by in America (or fail to) at the whim of Wall Street and corporate chieftains -- the misnamed "job creators" -- rather than the other way around. The rich don't like regulation, don't like taxation, and don't want us questioning those preferences. Generally, we don't.

In each case, we fearfully defer to the powerful because we think the powerful have the power of life and death over us. And the powerful take it as their due.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog