Sunday, August 28, 2016

(Worst People on the Planet:  War Criminals Compete for Place)  Did Moody’s Just Sever Energy Giant’s Last Life Line?  (Unreported S&P Earnings Decline for 5 Quarters)  (USA: Dead Nation Walking)  Bernie Moonlighting for Dollars?

There still is no honor among thieves.

Worst people on the planet.

Mob hitters.

Mass murderers doubling down.

Gravy train meal tickets du jour.

It's hard to go too negative.

ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders

Urban Militarized Police – No Real Security

Hillary and Colin:  the War Criminal Charade

Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

As She Rakes in the Cash, Clinton Fundraisers Still Shrouded in Secrecy
How the New York Times Hides the Truth About Wall Street’s Catastrophic Misdeeds
New York Times Pushes False Narrative on the Wall Street Crash of 2008

And why wouldn't they as the next one rapidly advances?

Oh noes arise from the gathering crowd . . .

. . . from the world economy-going-downer news . . . .

Did Moody’s Just Sever Energy Giant’s Last Life Line?

by  • 

Out-of-money Abengoa, felled by debt and shady accounting.
By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

Few companies epitomize the failings, follies and foibles of today’s age of hyper-financialized, super-crony capitalism quite like Spain’s teetering green-energy giant Abengoa. The firm came within inches of becoming Spain’s biggest ever bankruptcy last year after embarking on a suicidal multi-year international expansion program fueled by exceedingly generous renewable energy subsidies and massive helpings of bank and corporate debt.
But the subsidies were abruptly taken away when the Spanish government changed. When it had trouble dealing with its debt, the company began hiding it through increasingly complex financial vehicles set up, of course, in the City of London. As Abengoa’s then-CEO Manuel Sánchez Ortega crowed at the time, when things get serious, you need to have your wits about you, and “Abengoa has always been at the leading edge of financialization.”
Last year Abengoa’s off-balance sheet debt load became so unwieldy that it could no longer be hidden. In August the company announced that it would need a new capital expansion, which triggered a massive shareholder exodus and the collapse of its share price. By November things were so bad that even Deloitte, its trusted auditor, refused to sign off on the firm’s accounts, leaving management with little choice but to announce that it was seeking preliminary protection from creditors. 
By that time Sánchez Ortega was gone, having taken a new job with the world’s biggest investment fund, BlackRock, which took a massive short position against Abengoa just weeks after his appointment. Blackrock is also now the proud owner of 563,000 shares of Abengoa’s renamed, rebranded U.S subsidiary, Atlantic Yield.
In February this year, its US unit Abengoa Bioenergy US Holding filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US. In March, the parent company in Spain filed for chapter 15 bankruptcy in US to get access to protection in the US courts.
Back in Spain, Abengoa is apparently back on the mend after nine months of intense negotiations with its creditors and a massive divestment program. Last week the firm announced that it expects to win the approval of at least 75% of its creditors for a restructuring plan by Sept. 30. The banks and hedge funds that own most of its unpaid debt are already on board.
But not everyone’s convinced. They include rating agency Moody’s, whose senior analyst, Scott Phillips, warned that while the proposed restructuring, if completed, will probably provide a “more sustainable capital structure” and “significantly lighter debt interest burden,” the restructuring plan’s success is far from guaranteed.
The analyst cites three reasons for the prevailing uncertainty. The first is the firm’s liquidity situation, which could deteriorate sharply in the event of an economic downturn. If the group can’t reach the forecast cash flow through asset sales and cost cutting, its liquidity capacity will be reduced, Moody’s warns.

I was pretty sure that we were all going broke after I heard the astute Elizabeth Warren say the following:

Shhh! Don’t Tell the New York Times that S&P Earnings Have Declined for 5 Quarters

S&P 500 Earnings Chart from FactSet
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
August 25, 2016
On July 25, during the opening night of the Democratic National Convention, Senator Elizabeth Warren made the following comments during her speech:

“Here’s the thing:  America isn’t going broke. The stock market is breaking records. Corporate profits are at all-time highs.”

We noted at the time that Senator Warren is one of the smartest members of Congress; a former Harvard law professor who taught commercial contracts and bankruptcy law; a member of the Senate Banking Committee and its Economic Policy Subcommittee.

If Senator Warren was not aware that quarterly earnings on a year-over-year basis as measured by the largest companies in America – the Standard and Poor’s 500 – were on track to log in their fifth consecutive quarterly decline in earnings, how could the average American possibly know this?

Equally important, if the stock market was setting new highs based on a prevailing misconception among investors that corporate earnings were still climbing, shouldn’t responsible media be setting the record straight? Or is it the job of corporate media to keep investors ignorant of the economic realities in the U.S. because it might hurt their own publicly traded stock prices?

We decided to see if Senator Warren could have possibly been misled by the so-called “paper of record,” the New York Times. The Times has a nifty search tool that allows one to set a customized time period for searches. We set our time period to search between January 2, 2015 through August 25, 2016. We searched under profit recession. Next we tried corporate earnings. Then we tried S&P earnings. And, finally, we searched under Standard and Poor’s earnings.

We could find no article at the New York Times, much less a headline, that gave any clue to its readers that S&P 500 earnings have been in decline for the past five quarters.

We did find a very misleading headline that appeared in the New York Times’ print edition on the second page of the Business Section on July 21, 2016. The headline reads:  “Wall Street Edges Into Record Territory as Earnings Cheer Traders.” This was a rerun of a July 20 article by the Associated Press which had originally titled it “Wall Street Gains as Earnings Cheer Traders.”

One might be forgiven for reading that New York Times headline and thinking that corporate earnings were going in the same direction as the stock market. It wasn’t until the fifth paragraph that there was a hint of a divergence:  “Companies are in the middle of telling investors how much they earned in the spring, and analysts are forecasting yet another decline from levels at this time last year. The low expectations have made it easier for companies to come in above forecasts.”

Why is it excruciatingly important for investors in the stock market to keep tabs on the trend in S&P 500 earnings? As Bloomberg’s Lu Wang noted on March 30, 2015, “earnings contractions of three quarters or more have triggered bear markets 82 percent of the time over the past eight decades.”

An eighty-year record is not one investors should ignore – even if companies are gobbling up their own stocks in multi-billion-dollar buybacks financed with cheap debt and central banks around the world have made the deeply misguided decision to use taxpayer money and buy publicly traded stocks or Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).

According to FactSet, with 95 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported earnings for the second quarter of 2016, the earnings decline for the S&P 500 for the second quarter of 2016 versus the second quarter of 2015 is -3.2 percent. FactSet doesn’t beat around the bush about it or bury the negative news deep down in its reporting. It gets right to it with this:

“The second quarter marks the first time the index has recorded five consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in earnings since Q3 2008 through Q3 2009.”

The third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2009 was the worst economic period since the Great Depression, one should carefully recall.

And that’s just the part of the iceberg one can readily see above the water. According to FactSet data, there is negative breadth in 6 of the 10 sectors measured as of June 30. While energy is the key villain with a stunning 83.8 percent year-over-year decline in the second quarter, the following additional sectors were also negative:  Consumer Staples, Information Technology, Industrials,

Financials and Materials.

There’s an important lesson to take away from this. The New York Times may be the fattest paper in the U.S. but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s telling you what you need to know to survive financially. In fact, could we have the greatest wealth and income inequality since the 1920s if the New York Times had been hammering away on what Americans need to know?

Calling Paul Craig Roberts.

Calling Paul Craig Roberts!

(Because no one else is going to tell us the truth about what's turned the United States of America (originally a pretty good idea) upside down.)

August 26, 2016

The US:  A Dead Nation Walking

Paul Craig Roberts
Here is an informative article by Dmitry Orlov:
I use the writings of Orlov and The Saker as checks on my own conclusions.
In his article Orlov concludes that the United States is a dead nation, still walking, but no longer a uni-power. I agree with Orlov that US weapon systems are more focused on profits than on effectiveness and that Russia has superior weapons and a superior cause based on protection rather than dominance. However, in his assessment of the possibility of nuclear war, I think that Orlov under-appreciates the commitment of Washington’s Neoconservatives to US world hegemony and the recklessness of the Neoconservatives and Hillary Clinton. Washington is incensed that Russia (and China) dare to stand up to Washington, and this anger crowds out judgment.

Orlov, also, I think, under-estimates the weakness in the Russian government provided by the “Atlanticist Integrationists.” These are members of the Russian elite who believe that Russia’s future depends on being integrated with the West. To achieve this integration, they are willing to sacrifice some undetermined amount of Russian sovereignty.

It is my conclusion that Washington is aware of the constraint that the desire for Western acceptance puts on the Russian government and that this is why Washington, in a direct thrust at Russia, was comfortable orchestrating the coup that overthrew the elected Ukrainian government. I believe that this constraint also explains the mistakes the Russian government made by refusing the requests of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics to be reincorporated as parts of Russia, where the territories formerly resided, and by the premature withdrawal from Syria that allowed Washington to resupply the jihadists and to insert US forces into the conflict, thus complicating the situation for Russia and Syria.

Orlov sees Russian advantage in the ongoing conflict between Kiev and the breakaway republics as the conflict could be leading to the collapse of the US puppet government in Kiev. However, the disadvantage is that the ongoing conflict is blamed on Russia and feeds Western anti-Russian propaganda. It also makes Russia look weak and unsure of itself as if the Western criticism of Russia’s reincorporation of Crimea has struck home and Russia is afraid to repeat it by accepting the pleas of the break-away republics.

Moreover, if the Russian government had accepted the requests of Donetsk and Luhansk to return to Russia from which they were artificailly separated, not only would the conflict have been ended, but also the Ukrainian people would have realized the disaster caused by Washington’s coup against their government, and Europe would have realized from decisive Russian action that it was not in Europe’s interest to provoke Russia in behalf of Washington. The correct Russian response was prevented by the Atlanticist Integrationist desire to appease Washington.

In contrast to Orlov, The Saker underestimates Russian military strength, but he does understand the constraints placed on Russian decisiveness by the Atlanticist Integrationists, who seem to count in their ranks the economic establishment including the central bank and perhaps the prime minister himself. Putin does not seem to be overly concerned with what appears to me to be a fifth column of Washington’s agents as Putin himself has placed heavy bets on achieving accommodation with the West.

However, Putin has cracked down on the US-financed NGOs that have tried to destabilize Russia.

Western reporting and think tank and university reports on Russia are propaganda and are useless to understanding the situation. For example, in the current issue of "The National Interest," Thomas Graham, who had the Russian desk on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush regime, attributes the “destabilization of eastern Ukraine” to “Russia’s annexation of Crimea.” He avoids mentioning the US-orchestrated overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government and that Crimea voted overwhelmingly (97 percent) to rejoin Russia when faced with the Russophobic government Washington established in Kiev.
According to Graham, the foul deed of Russia’s acceptance of a democratic outcome upset all of Washington’s very friendly, supportive, and hopeful attitudes toward Russia. With all of Washington’s “assumptions that had guided America’s Russia policy” irreversibly dashed, it is no longer possible to maintain that Russia “is a suitable partner for addressing global issues.” Graham goes on to define Russia as a problem because Russia favors a multi-polar world to a uni-polar world run by Washington.

It is possible to read Graham’s repeat of the propaganda line as Graham genuflecting before the Neoconservatives before going on quietly in a low-key manner to attack their hegemonic attitude toward Russia. In his concluding paragraph Graham says that Washington must find a new approach to Russia, an approach of balance and limits that rejects “resort to force, which would be devastating given the destructive power of modern weaponry.”

All in all, it is an artful argument that begins by blaming Russia’s response to Washington’s provocations for a dangerous situation and concludes with the argument that Washington must adjust to Russia’s defense of her own national interests.

It is reassuring to see some realism creeping back into Washington attitudes toward Russia. However, realism is still a minority view, and it is highly unlikely that it would be the view of a Hillary regime.

In my opinion, the chance of nuclear war from Neoconservative intention, miscalculation or false launch warning remains high. The provocations of US/NATO military forces and missile bases on Russia’s borders are reckless as they build tensions between nuclear powers. It is in times of tension that false warnings are believed and miscalculations occur. In the interest of life on earth, Washington should be de-escalating tensions with Russia, not building them. So far there is no sign that the Neoconservatives are willing to give up their hegemonic agenda for the sake of life on earth.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And what's been happening since the good people (decent people, anyway) resigned from the new "Feel-good-about-your-personal-politics (while now taking billionaire's money)" Bernie-inspired vehicle (Love the Word

This week Bernie Sanders started moonlighting as a traveling used car salesman. A month ago, the neophyte salesman volunteered to handle the problematic Clinton account, featuring the Hillary model, which, like the Edsel of old, had previously gone unsold during its initial rollout in 2008.
Sanders, who has perfected his pitches to younger and blue-color buyers with questionable credit, is emphasizing the value and durability of the Hillary model, noting that despite the heavy mileage, the engine continues to fire consistently, with only occasional coughing from the tailpipes.
The car is something of a gas-guzzler and seems to run best on fuel refined from sweet crude extracted from the Libyan oil fields. For the environmentally conscious consumer, Sanders noted that the Hillary model can be modified to run on Ethanol, though the carburetor often proves to be a little finicky unless the Ethanol is made from a specific variety of corn genetically engineered by Monsanto.

At one showroom event in Sheboygan, Sanders boasted enthusiastically about the trans-Pacific trade-in value of the Hillary, which remains especially high against Korean and Chinese models.
Under questioning from a prospective buyer, Sanders did admit that, according to a report from a Ralph Nader-affiliated group, the Hillary model has developed a minor issue with the power steering, which causes the car to veer uncontrollably to the right.

As with all Clinton models, financing for the Hillary is available through Goldman Sachs.

Our Revolution, Incorporated

Back in Burlington, Vermont, the roll out of Our Revolution, Inc., got off to a sputtering start. Our Revolution, Inc. was meant to serve as the vanguard for the war on economic inequality and political corruption, which Sanders vowed to keep waging after his defeat in the Democratic primaries. But the organization has been crippled by internal power plays, purges and squabbling over money.

On Monday, more than half of the staff resigned en masse, only days before the organization’s prime time debut during a webcast on Wednesday night. Apparently, the final straw was the decision by Bernie and Jane Sanders to appoint Jeff Weaver, former manager of Bernie’s presidential campaign, to head Our Revolution, Inc. The animus of the Sandernistas toward Weaver and his buddy Tad Davine, another hired political hack who soaked the Sanders campaign for huge consulting fees, is visceral. And with good reason. While pocketing huge fees, Davine and Weaver made fatal tactical blunders during the campaign, such as refusing to contest the southern primaries, that effectively doomed Sanders’ remote chances from the very beginning.

Our Revolution, Inc. has other problems. Namely money. At this point the group has raised only $300,000 toward its mission of helping to get “progressive” (Democratic) candidates elected in November and beyond. That’s less than the Sanders campaign was raking on an average day of online fundraising in March. How much of that amount is being chewed up by staff salaries is unknown. Some of Bernie’s most ardent devotees have pointed the finger at Jane Sanders for the financial troubles at Our Revolution, Inc., which strikes me as petty given all the other vultures circling the carcass of the Sanders campaign. But the smaller the pot, the more intense the money-grubbing. (See:  Erich Von Stroheim’s film of Frank Norris’ novel “Greed”.)

Welcome to revolution on the installment plan.

The Bang for Their Buck

Hillary Clinton is experiencing no such troubling issues with her fundraising. In fact, the money is pouring in from all quarters, left and right. In recent weeks, Clinton’s campaign coffers have been filled to the brim by a gusher of funds from defense contractors and weapons manufacturers. Indeed, Clinton has raised twice as much money from the defense sector as her non-interventionist rival Donald Trump.

Over the course of the summer months, executives from defense companies have showered Clinton with $93,000, compared to Trump’s meager pickings of only $46,000. Among the corporate bigwigs to show their faith in Hillary to advance their cause by waging new wars are top executives from Lockheed, General Atomics, Raytheon, United Technologies, Boeing, BAE Systems, General Dynamics and Booz Allen Hamilton, which has the mega-contract to act as the Pentagon’s comptroller. (Aside:  an audit this week by the Inspector General for the Pentagon revealed that the US Army made accounting errors of $9.3 trillion in the last two years alone.)

The politics of war is a racket, as General Butler observed, and political contributions are an investment to insure that that racket continues in perpetuity.

Still Hasn’t Found What He’s Looking For

I don’t understand why the task of unearthing Hillary’s emails has fallen to the scrappy rightwing outfit Judicial Watch and not to the New York Times or the ACLU. Don’t liberals care about preserving the integrity of the Freedom of Information Act? Perhaps they’re numbed from listening to the “Joshua Tree” album on endless loop.

One of the most ludicrous emails to be excavated from the latest dump of missives involving fat cats donors to the Clinton Foundation seeking favors from Hillary and the State Department concerns the sad case of Bono, the puerile frontman for U2.

On May 27, 2009, just a few months after Hillary took office as Secretary of State, Ben Schwerin, a Bill Clinton aide, wrote an email to Huma Abedeen at the State Department on behalf of Bono, a donor to the Clinton Foundation. “Bono wants to do a linkup with the International Space Station on every show during the tour this year,” Schwerin wrote. “I’m trying to figure out who the best contact is to talk to at NASA or the congressional committee on science and technology. Any ideas? Thks.”

Abedeen responded quickly, “No clue.” But within a few weeks Bono had his “link up” from NASA for one of the most banal rock tours of the decade. NASA could have done the world a favor by simply launching Bono into deep space.

The Ghost of Tipper Haunts Hipsterville

Speaking of music, ever wonder what became of the censorious Tipper Gore, who was frightened that the children of America might get their sex and political education by listening to rap music and heavy metal? Apparently, Tipper is now secret advisor to the Portland (Oregon) Public Schools. How else can we explain the recent decision by the school executives in Hipsterville to ban the playing of rap music on school buses this fall?

While forbidding the playing of rap music as “inappropriate,” Teri Brady, senior director of transportation at Portland Public Schools, helpfully provided a list of radio stations that played the three permissible genres:  pop, country and jazz.

Despite its progressive image, Portland may be the most racist city in the nation. It’s certainly the whitest. And its getting whiter every day as hipster hordes from Brooklyn and the Bay Area flood north Portland forcing out economically stressed blacks.

The school district could better service its students by banning the teaching of American history until it begins to tell a more accurate account of the origins of Oregon statehood, including the race exclusion laws enacted between 1847 and 1855, which banned blacks from settling in the state. Until that unlikely day, rap music may provide the only history that really matters.

Travel Advisory From the Highway to Hell….

Last week temperatures in the Pacific Northwest topped 100 degrees for three consecutive days. This week the once-soggy quadrant of the nation sizzles under temperatures in the mid-90s. Wildfire rage across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, northern California and Montana. Down in the Delta, Baton Rouge just got swamped by another 1000-year flood, which seems to happen once every decade now.

Thus it came as little surprise to learn that July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded. In fact, the last 12 months have each broken temperature records. According to data from NASA, which combine sea surface temperature and air temperature on land, July 2016 was 0.84C hotter than the 1951 to 1980 average for July, and 0.11C hotter than the previous record set in July 2015. 2016 shows every sign of being the hottest year since record keeping began.

It’s all downhill from here. How do you want to go? By water or fire?

Going Once, Going Twice

The flaming planet and the Bayou floods did not deter the Interior Department from its mission to auction off 23.8 million acres of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest such sale since the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

That’s not to say that the Interior Department hasn’t learned some valuable lessons from the environmental movement over the past few years. Anticipating angry protesters and perhaps undercover bidders who might choose, like Tim DeChristopher and Terry Tempest Williams, to buy the drilling rights yet not actually sink their drills into virgin ground, the Interior Department held their auction in an online livestream event, safe from pesky greens bent on disrupting one of the last sacred rituals of the fossil fuels industry.

This sums up Obama’s environmental policy for me.

Hey Joe

Joe Arpaio is the bigoted buffoon who has been the sheriff for Maricopa County, Arizona since 1983. Arpaio, one of Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers, is a bully and thug who has overseen the most outrageous system of racial profiling in country in his insane quest to cleanse the greater Phoenix area of suspected undocumented immigrants. Arpaio has starved inmates at the county jail, denied them reading materials and refused to provide basic medical care. He has housed inmates in tent cities in the desert, made them wear pink uniforms and reconstituted the use of chain gang labor. Arpaio has also compelled all of the inmates in Maricopa’s jails to register for the selective service.

On August 20, federal Judge Murray Snow, who is overseeing the investigation into illegal racial profiling by Arpaio and his deputies, took the very rare step of asking that the Justice Department to file criminal contempt of court charges against the sheriff for continually violating court orders designed to keep the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office from racially profiling Latinos.

Just drop him off in the middle of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in a pair of sandals and pink jail clothes and let the sidewinders do the rest….

Dianne, Warren Hinkle Calling

Last week, the hacker known as Gufficer 2.0 dropped another bombshell on the Democratic Party elites by posting online the private cellphone numbers and email address of high-ranking members of congress. Nancy Pelosi was apparently irate that her attempt to shakedown money from Bay Area tycoons was repeatedly interrupted by dozens of angry calls from constituents whose past grievances had gone unaddressed.

But Nancy’s miserable night was nothing compared to the righteous havoc that descended on her San Francisco compatriot Dianne Feinstein (Net worth:  $43 million) back in the early 1980s at the hands of Hunter S. Thompson and Warren Hinkle. When Feinstein was mayor, she authorized police raids on the O’Farrell Theater, a strip club in the Tenderloin owned by the Mitchel Brothers, producers of Beyond the Green Door and other porn films of the 1970s. It so happened that the O’Farrell Theater was a favorite hangout for Thompson and Hinkle, who peeved Feinstein’s assault on their First Amendment right to observe the artistic performances of some of the Bay Areas most accomplished strippers. Thompson, who claimed to the be the “night manager” of the O’Farrell, once called the club the “Carnegie Hall of public sex in America.” In retaliation for Feinstein’s vice raids, Thompson and Hinkle acquired the mayor’s home telephone number and had it posted on the billboard at the O’Farrell with the message:  “For a good time, call Dianne at…”

Warren Hinkle died this week at the age of 77. He was one of the last of his breed, a wild man of American journalism, whose tenure as editor of Ramparts and Scanlan’s magazines helped define radical journalism in America. Among other things, Warren played midwife to the birth of gonzo journalism when he assigned Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman to cover the Kentucky Derby for Scanlan’s in 1971. (An episode which is now the subject an excellent short film, Gonzo @ the Derby, which features a brief interview with Hinkle.)

My friend Fred Gardner worked for Hinkle at Ramparts in the late 1960s. When I told Fred yesterday that Hinkle had died, Fred said:  “He fired me twice, but hired me three times. Four, if you count ‘War News.’ He slandered me twice —not in writing, things he was telling people— and I never held it against him, for some reason. Neither time was it malicious, he was just playing up a plausible story. He had great taste in women.” Last week, we ran Fred’s vivid account of working for "Ramparts" during the raucous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Alexander Cockburn and I met Hinkle at a dark bar in Chinatown in the spring of 2001. Warren began ordering mysterious drinks of iridescent colors and names that seemed to derive from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

“Look,” he said. “You should both come write for the Examiner.” This was once William Randolph Hearst’s flagship paper, which had fallen into the hands of a Chinese family called the Fangs for the princely sum of $100. The Fangs had hired Warren to run the editorial department. “Write about whatever you want. Just keep it under 700 words. As long as I get paid, you’ll get paid.”  We agreed. Alex and I each wrote a column a week. The gig went on for a few enjoyable months before coming to a predictable end.

Hinkle drank us both under the table that day and, deal concluded, walked briskly away down Grant Street, as if he’d just spent the afternoon sipping cappuccino.

Love and War

Lee Ballinger, of Rock & Rap Confidential and CounterPunch fame, becomes the last living American to debut his own podcast: Love and War. Check it out here.

Oh Say Can You See the Slave Breeders?

Word comes from Ned and Constance Sublette, longtime friends of CounterPunch, that their magisterial book, The American Slave Coast:  a History of the Slave Breeding Industry, has just won the American Book Award for nonfiction. Congratulations to the Sublettes on a project of deep history that was years in the making. This sprawling and unsparing history of the American slave-breeding industry may be the most important book of the last decade. It is a vividly written, painfully documented alternative history of the grim origins of the political economy of the American republic. As the Sublettes convincingly demonstrate, the heinous truth is that from the earliest days the American economy was driven by slavery and the most profitable business in that abominable enterprise derived from the manufacturing and sale of new slaves.
A Poker Up the Rear End of the Establishment

“It takes a lot of moola to fool around with national magazines, regardless of their politics. It takes even more if the paper is hell bent on shoving a hot poker up the rear end of the Establishment, as that editorial posture is not conducive to a massive influx of advertising dollars…a lot of people on the left still cherish the idea that Ramparts went under because I bought people drinks.” – Warren Hinkle

In the Shadow of the CIA:  Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment

The death of Warren Hinckle, a journalist long forgotten outside San Francisco, brings back Ramparts magazine’s crowning moment, also one of crucial moments of postwar liberalism. At a stroke, in March, 1967, the presumptions of innocence by purportedly freedom-loving (albeit hawkish) prestigious intellectuals were stripped off. It turned out that the grand banquets and conferences with literary-and-other luminaries, the New York Times-reported cocktail parties, indeed the whole egghead-celebrity thing, was at base a CIA operation called, without irony, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The list of collaborators was a long one, but Mary McCarthy, Irving Kristol, Leslie Fiedler, Dwight Macdonald, Sidney Hook and the Trillings, Diana and Lionel, among the most famous Americans, with European stars including Isaiah Berlin and Arthur Koestler at the top (Hannah Arendt in both categories). "The Partisan Review," "Encounter" and a considerable stream of literary or quasi-literary journals existed, as it turned out, with the help of intelligence-agency donations.

The operation had been established at the down of the 1950s with CIA executive Cord Meyer, and a youngish intellectual very much in the news, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whose original, brainy scheme it may have been. Intellectuals and artists guilty of opposing fascism “too early” and supporting the Soviet Union in the present or past offered another considerable list including some of Hollywood’s most talented writers and directors, also a handful of its stars (Lucille Ball might be the best remembered today), also musicians, singers, painters, novelists and most mortifying to some critics, the day’s leading playwright, Arthur Miller. The CIA’s precursor body, full of leftwingers, had been ushered out of existence as the intelligence operation shifted from anti-fascist and slightly pro-communist to anti-communist and to the same degree, pro-fascist (or supportive of repressive anti-communist regimes). The guilty had to be finished off, in the ongoing Cold War, and McCarthyism had not finished the job.

The 1950s offered plenty of opportunities for intellectuals and artists to curse Russian misdeeds, but a rather large number of opportunities for criticism of US actions as the overthrow of the Guatemalan government and the near-genocidal civilian massacres shortly to follow. Americans were called upon to gird their loins. They were also selectively offered all expense-paid junkets with, four star hotels, five star restaurants, and plenty of associated glamor. Better than that, or at least more lasting, were the contacts useful for lucrative book contracts and warm reviews in the big publications.

It might have gone on for decades longer, if not for the Vietnam War, which most of leading intellectuals in the operation came to view as an unfortunate but understandable mistake in judgment. A handful, including Dwight Macdonald, actually rejoined the dissenters, and in his case, humiliated a small crowd around him attending a White House dinner by asking for petition signatures against the war. Ramparts’ revelations began with the National Student Association (NSA), a mostly reform-minded student group whose “witty” leaders carried out orders and cashed checks of origins unknown to members. As the scandal spread, CIA officials went public, confessing to deep ties not only to student groups but also to the AFL-CIO, whose leaders had heretofore denied any CIA funding for activities among leading unionists in the UK and across Europe, not to mention the rest of the world.

The ripples of the Ramparts revelations spread outward, with mostly hypocritical denials of knowledge by this or that participant. Some, like Arendt (whose totemic Origins of Totalitarianism had actually been funded by the Agency) made fun of the Congress members’ pomposity while enjoying the lavish accommodations in a palace on Lake Como, Italy. An American counterpart to the CCF, the Committee for Cultural Freedom, shut down in embarrassment, although Schlesinger managed a transfer of funds and the franchise of the CCF to the smaller International Association for Cultural Freedom, which finally shut its doors in 1979.

Is all this far in the past, a mere historical footnote? The widely-reported style of the Clinton Campaign, reporters kept at a distance with doors and windows shut while HRC addresses her donors, has a suspicious familiarity. So does the very character of the celebrity sheen, the carefully chosen famous important enough to be brought up to the stage, trusted enough not to object to…the newest versions of hawkish Cold War liberalism.

What lies ahead for these intellectuals and celebs is, first of all, White House photo-ops, and very possibly “Freedom” awards of assorted kinds. But there’s another future, around the corner, when the next Vietnam (or Guatemala) becomes the source of quiet State Department calls for declarations of loyalty. Another country to be bombed, invaded and occupied in the name of “Freedom,” perhaps this time the freedom of women, or a population to be saved from obliteration only by a massive military operation not likely to end in near time.

Secrecy and loyalty to the regime: as important to liberalism as to the Right, and perhaps more important. A world to be conquered, no matter how many victims, in the name of high ideals.

Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?

Recall the masterful essay by Robin Blackburn, How Monica Lewinsky Saved Social Security.

Robert Rubin and Larry Summers are the neoliberal economic policy gurus who have defined the New Democrats and their fiscal conservatism for three decades now. Both men are longtime proponents of the privatization of Social Security, and given their Wall Street connections, it is logical to assume that the next bubble meant to follow the dot-com one was going to be inflated by the influx of Social Security’s capital.

But then along came the intern in the blue dress.

Clinton’s pivot to the left and advocacy of “saving” Social Security rather than privatizing it was a defensive posture taken up to consolidate support within the Democratic base as he faced the inquiry of Ken Starr. But prior to the development of the Lewinski scandal, he had begun to make moves towards privatization at a moment when the public perception of the “magic of the market” was hegemonic among the white middle class, a period when 60 Minutes was featuring stories about stay-at-home day traders who, using recently-premiered world wide web and a proliferation of consumer-grade stock broker websites, were fashioning themselves into a veritable cottage industry of people who were so crazy they thought they would become millionaires with mouse clicks! Things were looking so dire that Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot published an entire book, titled Social Security: The Phony Crisis, that began with this passage:

“We have a chance,” said President Clinton, to “fix the roof while the sun is still shining.” He was talking about dealing with Social Security immediately, while the economy is growing and the federal budget is balanced… The roof analogy is illuminating, but we can make it more accurate. Imagine that it’s not going to rain for more than 30 years. And the rain, when it does arrive (and it might not), will be pretty light. And imagine that the average household will have a lot more income for roof repair by the time that the rain approaches. Now add this: most of the people who say that they want to fix the roof actually want to knock holes in it.
But because of Bubba’s pivot, he was unable to provide the soap to inflate the next bubble. As a result, when the dot-com bubble began to collapse, there was nothing to replace it and a recession, caused by Democratic policies, would have been what a Gore presidency would have inherited. Why not quit while you are ahead?

Clinton’s behavior here, combined with how his staff went to absurd lengths to vandalize the White House offices as the Republicans moved in for revenge over the impeachment proceedings, has become the modus operandi of the post-Cold War presidencies, leaving the country in as bad shape (or perhaps worse) then when you found it. We have seen nearly a quarter century of White House tenures, in economic terms, looking like waves on the high seas, peaks and valleys that correspond with entrances and exits. There has been no ethic of leaving things better than when you found it. When Eisenhower took office, the country was in the midst of a Red Scare that destroyed a generation of activists while, in domestic transit terms, the postwar population was effectively still living in the nineteenth century. When he gave the country to John Kennedy, he had spent massive amounts on the construction of an interstate highway system that revolutionized how Americans moved around the country and creation of civic infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, that we still (rather embarrassingly) depend on daily and which is remembered as the golden era of American labor irregardless of the purging of the Communists.

So, with all this in mind, can we start blaming Gore for what he has done to America via his proxy George W. Bush? “Say it ain’t so Al!”

Is the death of Neoliberalism upcoming?

Don't miss Plucky's foresight about the bankster scams and upcoming negative interest rates.

And Chris Hedges' "On Contact" will turn your hair the rest of the way white.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Best Reason Not to Vote for Hillary Clinton and How the MSM Keeps US Ignorant (Empire of Lies Run Amuck: Humanitarian Wars Slay Millions of Innocents Encouraging Lies at All Levels)  Hillary & Bill, Inc., Lee Camps

And we're already attacking Syria.

Before she's the actual President.

So how's that for most effective warmonger?

Was that a competition?

"You've seen the inside of the honeycomb, June."
"You can never go home."
- Simon
"Knight and Day"

"With me? Without me?
With me? Without me?

With you."
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.
Far from conspiring with the convicted Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, Milosevic actually “condemned ethnic cleansing,” opposed Karadzic and tried to stop the war that dismembered Yugoslavia. Buried near the end of a 2,590-page judgement on Karadzic last February, this truth further demolishes the propaganda that justified Nato’s illegal onslaught on Serbia in 1999.
Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006, alone in his cell in The Hague, during what amounted to a bogus trial by an American-invented “international tribunal”. Denied heart surgery that might have saved his life, his condition worsened and was monitored and kept secret by US officials, as WikiLeaks has since revealed.

Milosevic was the victim of war propaganda that today runs like a torrent across our screens and newspapers and beckons great danger for us all. He was the prototype demon, vilified by the western media as the “butcher of the Balkans” who was responsible for “genocide,” especially in the secessionist Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Prime Minister Tony Blair said so, invoked the Holocaust and demanded action against “this new Hitler”.

David Scheffer, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], declared that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59” may have been murdered by Milocevic’s forces.

This was the justification for Nato’s bombing, led by Bill Clinton and Blair, that killed hundreds of civilians in hospitals, schools, churches, parks and television studios and destroyed Serbia’s economic infrastructure. It was blatantly ideological; at a notorious “peace conference” in Rambouillet in France, Milosevic was confronted by Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state, who was to achieve infamy with her remark that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were “worth it”.

Albright delivered an “offer” to Milosevic that no national leader could accept. Unless he agreed to the foreign military occupation of his country, with the occupying forces “outside the legal process,” and to the imposition of a neo-liberal “free market”, Serbia would be bombed. This was contained in an “Appendix B,” which the media failed to read or suppressed.
The aim was to crush Europe’s last independent “socialist” state.

Once Nato began bombing, there was a stampede of Kosovar refugees “fleeing a holocaust”. When it was over, international police teams descended on Kosovo to exhume the victims. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. The final count of the dead in Kosovo was 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the pro-Nato Kosovo Liberation Front. There was no genocide. The Nato attack was both a fraud and a war crime.

Read the entire article here.

Just remember. No countries can be allowed to operate independently of the United States of Armageddon.

Provoking Nuclear War by Media

By John Pilger
August 23, 2016
The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule.
 Read more at the title link above.

Hillary and Bill Clinton, Inc.

No other couple in American politics can offer what the Clintons have to sell.

By William McGurn
Aug. 22, 2016
Many Clinton scandals ago, when Hillary Clinton was trying to explain how she’d parlayed a $1,000 stake in cattle futures into $100,000 in 10 months (by talking to other people and reading The Wall Street Journal) folks were skeptical. How, they asked, could a novice make so much money in so short a time in such a risky market?
Turns out Mrs. Clinton is a better learner than she’s given credit for, and the Clinton emails released by Judicial Watch on Monday prove it. The emails were pried out of the system by Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, and they suggest why the Clinton Foundation could be so attractive to the rich and mighty. When a donor had a problem that required the secretary of state’s attention, there was Doug Band — a Clinton Foundation exec — emailing Hillary’s top staffers at the State Department to ask a favor.
Take a June 23, 2009, email from Doug Band to Huma Abedin. In his email Mr. Band noted that the Crown Prince of Bahrain (a “good friend of ours”) was asking to see Mrs. Clinton. There are, of course, many ways to be a “good friend,” but one sure way would be to contribute between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, as the kingdom of Bahrain had done. Not to mention that the prince had also spent $32 million on a scholarship launched through the Clinton Global Initiative.
. . . It isn’t the only favor Mr. Band requested. A month earlier, he had emailed Ms. Abedin to ask her help in getting an English soccer player a visa to the U.S. The player was supposed to come to Las Vegas for a team celebration, but he needed a special interview with the visa section at the American Embassy in London due to a “criminal charge” against him.
Because of this, the office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) had refused to intervene. Mr. Band’s email made clear the request was on behalf of Casey Wasserman, a sports and entertainment exec who had contributed between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation via the Wasserman Foundation.
These are only two of the many email exchanges in which Ms. Abedin was asked to intervene on behalf of some Clinton Foundation donor. These latest emails fit the same pattern as another batch released earlier this month, which showed Mr. Band asking Ms. Abedin and longtime Clinton aide Cheryl Mills for a meeting with a U.S. ambassador on behalf of a foreign businessman, as well as seeking a job for someone he described as “important to take care of.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton sums it up this way:  “It looks like the State Department was outsourcing its work to the Clinton Foundation.”
The model worked well for the Clintons, and some believe the Clinton Foundation will be copied by other pols, who will set up spouses or friends with foundations in hopes of attracting the big dollars that they can use to advance their brands, reward their friends and operate as a de facto permanent political campaign — all under the garb of charity. 
No doubt some will try. But no one will be as successful as the Clintons have been.
The reason is simple. The Clintons are a business partnership with something that no other political couple has to sell. True, all ex-presidents hit the speaking circuit and have charities and foundations. Even so, the Clintons are unique in having an ex-president with a spouse in play, not only as secretary of state but as a possible president herself. If you are a foreign government or a wealthy businessmen, a donation to the Clinton Foundation might look like an excellent investment at just about any price.
Quid pro quo is notoriously hard to prove in such cases, and we will never know what (if anything) Mrs. Clinton or State delivered in return. We’re asked to believe that it was somehow an accident that so many of the millions former President Bill Clinton raked in from speaking fees would come from companies, countries or people who had business before a State Department run by his wife. The truth is, this was inevitable under the Clinton Foundation business model. And it beggars belief to think all these dollars were being given out without an expectation of something in return.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

And to think.

Even the deadly Bushes weren't this overt.

And as you know, I'm no Bush fan.

But it seems that the Bush program was to rape mainly just the U.S.

The Clintons had a much wider reach.

A Clinton Family Value:  ‘Humanitarian’ War

The transformation of the Democratic Party from the relative “peace party” to a belligerent “war party” occurred during Bill Clinton’s presidency and is likely to resume if Hillary Clinton is elected.
August 23, 2016
Consortium News"
The current debate over the future of U.S. foreign policy is largely over whether the U.S. should continue its self-anointed role as the policeman of the world, or whether it might be wise for the next administration to put, in the words of Donald J. Trump, “America First.”
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly called for a more active U.S. foreign policy. The 2016 election is shaping up to be, among other things, a battle between the inarticulate isolationism of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s liberal interventionism. Hers is an approach which came into vogue during the administration of her husband.
During the 1992 campaign, Bill Clinton sought to differentiate himself from President George H.W. Bush by sounding “tough” on foreign policy. At the time, Clinton declared that, unlike Bush, he would “not coddle dictators from Baghdad to Beijing.”
Once in office Clinton departed from policies of his predecessor, whose foreign policy was steered by “realists” such as national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State James A. Baker. Baker’s judgment that the war in the Balkans did not merit American intervention – “we don’t,” said Baker, “have a dog in this fight,” was emblematic of the administration’s approach, which, despite launching interventions in Iraq and Panama, was for the most part, a cautious one.
Bush outraged New York Times columnist William Safire when he warned of the danger that nationalism poses to regional stability. Speaking in Kiev in 1991, Bush promised that “we will not meddle in your internal affairs.”
“Some people,” he continued, “have urged the United States to choose between supporting President Gorbachev and supporting independence-minded leaders throughout the U.S.S.R. I consider this a false choice.”
Such was Bush’s wariness over riling Russia that, according to the historian Mary Elise Sarotte, Secretary of State Baker (along with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher) “repeatedly affirmed” to the Soviets “that NATO would not move eastward at all.”
Bush decided that it was best not to rub Russia’s diminished fortunes in its face. Not so President Clinton, who vowed “not let the Iron Curtain be replaced with a veil of indifference.” The Clinton team ignored the advice of Senators Bill Bradley, Sam Nunn and Gary Hart and the former Ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock, who all urged the administration to reconsider its policy of NATO expansion. Needless to say, predictions that NATO expansion would have dire consequences for U.S.-Russia relations have come to fruition.
Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly in September 1993, President Clinton declared that the U.S. had “the chance to expand the reach of democracy and economic progress across the whole of Europe and to the far reaches of the world.”
At the time, the stars seemed aligned for such a pursuit. In Foreign Affairs, neoconservative writer Charles Krauthammer declared that the end of the Cold War was America’s “unipolar” moment. The pursuit of American global hegemony was not, according to Krauthammer, some “Wilsonian fantasy.” It was, rather, “a matter of sheerest prudence.”
During Clinton’s tenure, the U.S. military was dispatched on ostensibly humanitarian grounds in Somalia (1993), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995), and Kosovo (1999). Clinton also directed airstrikes on Sudan in what was said to be an attempt on Osama bin Laden’s life.
Clinton bombed Iraq (1998) over its violations of the NATO enforced no-fly zones. That same year, Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law which stipulated that “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”
In some ways the now deeply embedded belief in the efficacy and rightness of humanitarian intervention dates back to NATO’s intervention in Bosnia in 1995.
. . . The Clinton administration’s second intervention in the Balkans in 1999, set the template for what George W. Bush attempted in Iraq, and, later, what Barack Obama attempted in Libya. Once again, in the absence of U.N. sanction, Clinton launched a war under humanitarian pretexts. The 77-day aerial bombardment of Serbia carried out by NATO was ostensibly undertaken to prevent what was said to be the looming wholesale slaughter of Albanian Kosovars by Serbian forces.
The intervention in Kosovo not only riled the Russians, it also upset American allies. Shortly before the commencement of hostilities in Kosovo, France’s Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine declared that the United States was not only a superpower, but a “hyper-power.” According to Vedrine, the question of the American hyper-power was “at the center of the world’s current problems.”
Kosovo set a pattern that has held in subsequent interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Advertised (all, or, in part) as interventions on behalf of suffering Muslims, they invariably end up strengthening the hand of those who are declared enemies of the U.S.:  Sunni Islamic extremists.
By the end of Bill Clinton’s tenure, the prudence exhibited by George H.W. Bush had long since vanished. Given her record, should Hillary Clinton win in November, the elder Bush’s foreign policy “realism” will have little chance of reappearing.


A smart country like the USA having to make the choice between Bush policies and Clinton policies.

It doesn't get any more ludicrous (the Bush policies are just a place-holder at this point for an unknown Trump's policies).

Or does it?

Imagine a country that lets it get to this point.

Again and again.

And, no, Hillary isn't the only liar playing.

Begging the question:  Why are we letting any of them play cat-and-mouse games with our civilization?

Modern America:  The Empire of Lies

By Martin Berger
August 20, 2013
The notion that the United States is an empire of lies would be difficult to dispute by anyone who has followed the events of the last decade. It’s a sad fact that today the absolute majority of Washington’s policies along with the foundation of so-called “American democracy” are built upon blatant lies.
So is it any wonder that so-called American “heroes” of the Rio Olympics:  swimmers James Feigen, Ryan Lochte, Gunnar Benz and Jack Conger, provided false testimonies about them being robbed in a taxi on the way to the Olympic Village? It turns out now that nobody came as close as even attempting to rob them. Now these athletes may face charges of making false accusations in Brazil, along with being accused of discrediting the sitting Brazilian President Dilma Vana Rousseff who has been the prime target of Washington’s meddling recently.

In all honesty, there is no need for being surprised, since these “hero-swimmers” have been educated regarding Washington’s lies, encountered in virtually all aspects of an American’s life. The White House has been lying its way through various attempts to overthrow unwanted governments and politicians upon the international stage, spreading disinformation through such CIA “benefactors” like George Soros.

The entire world witnessed former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in all seriousness displaying tubes with unknown substances in them before the UN Security Council, claiming they represented “convincing and incriminating” evidence against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, enough to launch a military attack against the nation.

We remember how renowned American journalist, Pulitzer Prize Laureate Seymour Hersh, caught the US government officially disseminating lies about how “terrorist number one” Osama bin Laden was actually killed.

He has also published an investigation piece under the title "Whose Sarin," demonstrating that the US government and President Barack Obama personally, deliberately lied when they claimed that the Syrian government had used sarin poison gas back in 2013. It’s been announced that Hersh was using information he had received from sources within the US intelligence community and the Pentagon. This evidence confirmed that both the White House statements and fraudulent propaganda unwound by the media, pursued the sole goal – to create a pretext for armed intervention in Syria and replace the government in Damascus with Washington’s subordinates, thus taking full control of the country.

Moreover, the "American Thinker" would note that:

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton committed her second gaffe in as many days on the campaign trail Monday night, claiming that the US “did not lose a single person” in Libya during her time as secretary of state. To Hillary Clinton, the four male officials and warriors do not matter at all. They are at best an inconvenience. If they were alive, they would have to be dealt with, but because they are dead, they can be forgotten.
But honestly, what does one expect from the likes of Hillary Clinton if even the Washington Post wouldn’t hesitate to present a video filled with her lies and “shifting positions?” Her ideas on Bosnia, healthcare, Wall Street, NAFTA are ever-shifting, since she’s convinced that Americans are unable to memorize basic facts or recall even recent American history.

Accusing Hillary Clinton of blatant hypocrisy, alternative media source Counter Punch would use a hash tag #NeverHillary, while giving the recent Democrats’ champion the following evaluation:  “She’s sleazy – a cheater and a liar,” noting that she wanted to set the minimum wage at the level of 12 dollars per hour, but since Bernie’s 15 dollars per hour was more popular, she claimed she wanted to introduce precisely the same wage. When pressed, she conceded she’d “like” 15 dollars per hour, but would not lift a finger to make it happen federally. Incredibly, she still conducts herself in this same manner.

The Baltimore Sun did not hesitate to accuse Clinton of the deliberate concealment of facts from Congress and the American people either, noting that the State Department’s inspector general released a report last week concluding that Hillary Clinton is a breathtakingly brazen and consistent liar. What’s infuriating about all of this is that it is not, in fact, news. Over a year ago, Hillary Clinton held a press conference at the United Nations with the intent to put the whole controversy around her released emails to rest, yet, nearly every significant statement she made was a lie, The Baltimore Sun would note, adding that we have known it for a year now, that from the earliest days of this scandal, Clinton was lying.

So what behavior one can expect from most American citizens, including these “hero-swimmers,” when even at the highest levels, officials are lying blatantly, while displaying no fear whatsoever of any potential consequences? What’s even more striking is that those liars are being promoted and encouraged in the US political establishment, and they are being allowed to occupy the highest political positions in the state, as if we are being told:  "In lies we trust here, it is our symbol and our flag, because we are the Empire of Lies."

(Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

(Loathing Lessers)  Here’s Why Americans Are Mad as Hell at Wall Street and Washington  (Catch 22 Revisited)  Bonnie Raitt:  Not Ending Well for Global Elites  (Foreign Floods of PAC Money)  Summer of the Shill(s)  (Continuing Bank Corruption Print Gobs of $$$ To Keep Market Roaring?)

Tom Frank is obviously the man of this minute.

But no one is paying attention to the time(s) now.

At the convention in Philly, Truthdig founder and editor Robert Scheer ran into Thomas Frank, whose latest book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened To The Party Of The People? is a must-read for all progressives and, hopefully, for some Democrats who aren't already too far gone. Frank admitted Democrats aren't paying the book any serious attention..
His critique - "that what we have today is a liberalism of the rich ... of the professional classes, these sort of affluent people who have developed a whole kind of pseudo-Marxist theory of why they’re affluent and why they deserve to be affluent, and why those who, you know, their former supporters in the working class don’t deserve to be affluent." He despairs that this new rationale behind the New Democratic Party "is a really ugly ideology, but it’s not something that they are prepared to change their tune on."

He analyzes Hillary's career in one chapter, even if he feels she's incapable of change. The New Dem wing types, the corporate Dems, don't want to hear "unconstructive" criticism of her and she really believes that folks who run the financial institutions in New York have a mission civilisatrice and those Wall Street banks "are in fact run by fine, upstanding individuals who are opening up the doors of possibility for the poor people of the world, or something like this. She really believes in what they’re doing. Democrats [from the Hillary wing of the party, which is obviously ascendent now] look at Wall Street and they see people like themselves. It’s not that they’re bribed to like these guys; it’s that they have an ideological kinship with them.

He didn't expect Bernie to make the case at the convention that the Clintons aren't to be trusted - but he would have loved it. "When you want to talk about inequality, you want to talk about what’s gone wrong in this country, the sinking of the middle class - everything that’s gone wrong, and I would include in my bill of complaints, my bill of grievances, the rise of Donald Trump - all of these things are attributable to the Democrats’ abandonment of their traditional constituency and their traditional sort of Rooseveltian identity.
Hillary is a perfect example — a perfect specimen — of the kind of Democratic politics that I’m talking about. Very oriented towards the professional class; she really believes — I mean, how many times did you hear that word “innovation” from the podium yesterday? You know, people talking about education as the solution to every economic problem. This really is her ideology. She is a true believer in neoliberalism. It’s not an afterthought, it’s not something that she did in order to win the affection of the money men. This is who she is. And it’s who her husband is. And you know, I think that the Democrats have to deal with this, and I think it’s especially important in this year, because in some ways their abandonment of blue-collar people, or I should say the white working class specifically, is this really has allowed Trump to do what he’s done. This is what has made his success possible.

So I was just in the Republican convention in Cleveland. And the man, you know, is this kind of monster in many, many, many ways, but there’s this one issue where he has got, he is reaching out to working-class voters and he’s doing it really effectively. And this is trade. And he talks about it constantly. And he’s very ham-handed, and he doesn’t have a plan, but he talks about it in a way that is convincing to a lot of these people. And here’s Hillary - and by the way, this is the perfect, I was saying just this morning — Hillary Clinton is the only Democrat that Donald Trump could possibly beat, and vice-versa. Right? Donald Trump is the only Republican that Hillary Clinton could possibly beat; they’re both, two of the least popular politicians ever to run for this office. But had it been any other Republican, Hillary would be in big trouble; had it been any other Democrat, i.e. Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump would be in enormous trouble. But when he goes against these trade deals, he’s always talking about NAFTA. And this is - look, again, his party is largely responsible for free trade and for all of this stuff, for the free market theory and the reign of globalization. That’s his guys that did that. But NAFTA, and a couple of the other ones, he can blame on the Clintons. And Trans-Pacific Partnership, he can blame on Obama. And this is very, very, very effective. And Hillary Clinton is possibly the one candidate where this sort of thing would work.

...[W]hen I mentioned that Trump has this one issue where he is talking a good game, this makes people really mad, because they want to believe that he is, that he has this dark, diabolical, sort of Svengali power. And I’m saying to them, no; this is something unfamiliar, this is something new; this is not Marco Rubio, or if Ted Cruz had been the nominee. This is something different, this is a new beast. And I don’t think he’s a fascist, but it’s not a bad comparison, because the fascists had — you know, they also built the Autobahn. And they also, you know, had this enormous public works program. And they also did all these things that was kind of like, you know, there was a reason that they were sort of popular.

[T]he vast majority of people in this country still haven’t recovered from that recession that was brought about by those toxic derivatives. And the derivatives were explicitly deregulated by Bill Clinton. But it goes on and on and on - it’s like NAFTA, it’s - when I was listening to the speeches yesterday, it was like they’re promising, they’re running on a promise to reverse all the things that Hillary Clinton did the first time around, or that her husband did, I should say. But the crime bill of 1994, they’re going to, oh, they’re going to reverse mass incarceration - it’s like, well, why didn’t you just not do it in the first place? You know, they’re going to fix the global economy - well, why didn’t you just not fuck it up in the first place, you know? On and on and on, down the list. And you know, the trade deals - we’re going to stop these terrible, these trade deals have been so bad for working people. It’s like, well, why did you sign off on them?
Why do you go to Davos every year? Why is your sitting president, representative of your party, trying to get one passed right now? In the Democratic platform, there’s a big thing about the revolving door, where they’re really against the revolving door — do you know who the secretary of the Treasury is right now? Right now! It’s Jack Lew! Came from Citibank, where he oversaw their hedge fund division. You know? And then he’s in charge of the department that’s bailing out Citibank, because their hedge fund division that he managed dragged them down! This is insane! And he was put there by a Democrat. A Democrat who’s going to come here and give a speech on Thursday. This is - yes, you’re exactly right.
There’s enormous cognitive dissonance for these people, but they wipe it away, like so many - I mean, there are so many examples of this, the way they think about Trump, the way they think about the working class, the way they think about NAFTA. It’s all this guilty stuff, they can’t deal with it, there’s something psychological going on. But this is the biggest. You know, they can’t deal with the legacy of the sitting president and the legacy of Hillary’s own husband. And they can’t talk about it in a straightforward way.

...[T]hings are going to get worse. Four more years of this? So Obama - I voted for Obama with enthusiasm in 2008; I was excited, I thought he was my generation’s Franklin Roosevelt, I thought this was, we’d come to the turning point. And then he continued the policies of the Bush administration on the banks, on a lot of essential issues, and things got, for working people, things have gotten worse and worse and worse. Wages still don’t grow; the share of what we produce here in America is less than, is smaller than it’s ever been before, the labor share, what the economists call the labor share of GDP. Smaller than it’s ever been since World War II. This is under Obama, the most liberal, we’re always told, the most liberal possible president.
Look, of course it’s going to continue with Hillary as president; nothing is going to change. This is going to get worse and worse and worse. You’re going to continue to see the recovery or whatever, all the gains, all the economic gains going into the banking accounts of the top 10 percent or so. The Dow might continue to go up, but who benefits from that? It’s the people at the top, of course. Four years of this, inequality’s going to continue.
That’s always what it comes back to, is that word “inequality.” And that’s going to get worse. The "Appalachification" is going to keep going. And four years from now, you’re going to have another Trump. And a Trump who’s not a fool, a Trump who’s not an imbecile, who’s not a buffoon, who’s not an open racist, is a Trump that can win.
Hell, this Trump might win [laughs] if the Democrats blunder into his hands, which they are presently doing. We’ll talk about that some other time. But a Trump minus all of these sort of features of Trump would actually be successful. Now, you could also have another Bernie in four years, and another Bernie, someone who plays the game slightly differently, could also be successful, although it’s really hard to beat a sitting president from...
Since then, Frank did a gruesomely pessimistic piece for The Guardian Sunday, With Trump Certain to Lose, You Can Forget About a Progressive Clinton. "Come November," he predicts, "Clinton will have won her great victory - not as a champion of working people’s concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all. And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump... Today it looks as though [Thomas Friedman's] elites are taking matters well in hand. 'Jobs' don't really matter now in this election, nor does the debacle of 'globalization,' nor does anything else, really. Thanks to this imbecile Trump, all such issues have been momentarily swept off the table while Americans come together around Clinton, the wife of the man who envisaged the Davos dream in the first place." 
As leading Republicans desert the sinking ship of Trump's GOP, America's two-party system itself has temporarily become a one-party system. And within that one party, the political process bears a striking resemblance to dynastic succession. Party office-holders selected Clinton as their candidate long ago, apparently determined to elevate her despite every possible objection, every potential legal problem. The Democratic National Committee helped out, too, as WikiLeaks tells us. So did President Barack Obama, that former paladin for openness, who in the past several years did nearly everything in his power to suppress challenges to Clinton and thus ensure she would continue his legacy of tepid, bank-friendly neoliberalism.

My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn't really matter, that Clinton's many concessions to Sanders' supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsement, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.

She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street. In her big speech in Michigan on Thursday she cast herself as the candidate who could bring bickering groups together and win policy victories through really comprehensive convenings.

Things will change between now and November, of course. But what seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy. She will have won her great victory, not as a champion of working people's concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all, as the leader of a stately campaign of sanity and national unity. The populist challenge of the past eight years, whether led by Trump or by Sanders, will have been beaten back resoundingly. Centrism will reign triumphant over the Democratic party for years to come. This will be her great accomplishment. The bells will ring all over Washington DC.

... My friends and I like to wonder about who will be the "next Bernie Sanders", but what I am suggesting here is that whoever emerges to lead the populist left will simply be depicted as the next Trump. The billionaire's scowling country-club face will become the image of populist reform, whether genuine populists had anything to do with him or not. This is the real potential disaster of 2016:  That legitimate economic discontent is going to be dismissed as bigotry and xenophobia for years to come.
Maybe you saw the Gallup poll released a couple weeks ago measuring the country's complete lack of enthusiasm for Clinton's completely mediocre corporate Dem running mate. He's even more of a snooze for most Americans than the dull - dull and actively evil - Pence.
. . . A Berniecrat who, like most, has gone over to the Hillary Brigade, Robert Reich, wrote on his Facebook page that Hillary is going to need Bernie's revolution. He naively assumes she wants to get some progressive stuff done when she ascends to the White House and claims she'll never revolutionists to help. Jesus! She's not going to flip the House and the Senate, which will be miserably led by self-serving Wall Street suck-up Chuck Schumer, will not be close to filibuster-proof... and worse. 
She's unlikely to have a typical presidential honeymoon because she won’t be riding a wave of hope and enthusiasm that typically accompanies a new president into office. She’s already more distrusted by the public than any major candidate in recent history. On Election Day many Americans will be choosing which candidate they loathe the least.
At 2:00 AM,  Anonymous said... I assume you will write more, a lot more, about "Brand New Congress, an ambitious effort to run at least 400 progressive candidates for Congress in 2018."

Ah, Clinton, like the reemergence of a venereal disease.

"Moderate" and "centrist" are code words for the political ideology that serves the corporate person first and which admonishes human citizens to "humor the terminally greedy for their detritus shall sustain you."

If I hadn't already de-registered as a "Democrat" this article would certainly have been the reminder to do so.

John Puma
At 11:02 AM,  Anonymous said...
So we will likely have the most despised Democratic President going into the 2020 redistricting election. Obama and his team completely dropped the 2010 redistricting elections and assured that he would never have a Democratic House again. Now it looks like the Democrats will again go into a redistricting election without anything positive to run on or even any policies that promise a better future.

I no longer consider myself a Democrat and these sorts of miscalculations and the horrid neoliberal policies are the reason why.

Life must seem pretty sweet for the D.C. Dims after all the election hoorah.

For now, Bonnie Raitt speaks for almost all of the rest of us.

At least 99%.

Bonnie Raitt Just Keeps Getting Better

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News
16 August 16
t’s not often a single stanza can sum up a whole political system. But those words from Bonnie Raitt ring truer every day as this pathetic “selection” season lurches ever deeper into astounding ugliness.
As evidenced by her new album, "Dig in Deep," and her current concert tour, the opposite is true of Ms. Raitt, whose astonishing talent and endless heart just keep growing.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

You got a way of running your mouth
You rant and rave, you left it all out
The thing about it is, little that you say is true

Why bother checkin', the facts'll be damned
It's how you spin it, it's part of the plan
I'm here to tell you that your sicken loan is coming due

Only so long you can keep this charade
Before they wake up and see they've been played
Too many people with their livin' at stake
Ain't gonna take it
The comin' round is going through
The comin' round is going through
You say it's workin', it's tricklin' down
Yeah, there's a trick, cause the jobs ain't around
From where you're sittin'
Tell me how you think you possibly know?

The way it feels to get turned away
Never enough, it's day after day
Yank that by your bootstraps
Cause that's the way it really goes

Only so long you can keep this charade
Before they wake up and see they've been played
Too many people with their livin' at stake
Ain't gonna take it
The comin' round is going through
The comin' round is going through

Cause when the money's makin' money
It comes down to a few
Got their hands on the throttle and nobody gets through
You can work all your life for a hand that will play
With one role of the dice, it gets swept away

Just look around, things are startin' to slip
You're outta control, and you're losin' your grip
No way to stop it, that river's spillin' over for good
We don't have the answer, we know what it's not
Cause the people will keep pushin' 'til they get a shot
Your money's no good there
We wouldn't cash you a check if we could

From Running Cause I Can't Fly:

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. "That's some catch, that catch-22," he observed. "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed."

- Joseph Heller, “Catch-22”

"What happens if the Deep State pursues the usual pathological path of increasing repression? The system it feeds on decays and collapses. Catch-22 (from the 1961 novel set in World War II "Catch-22") has several shades of meaning (bureaucratic absurdity, for example), but at heart it is a self-referential paradox: you must be insane to be excused from flying your mission, but requesting to be excused by reason of insanity proves you're sane.
The Deep State in virtually every major nation-state is facing a form of Catch-22: the Deep State needs the nation-state to feed on and support its power, and the nation-state requires stability above all else to survive the vagaries of history.

The only possible output of extreme wealth inequality is social and economic instability. The financial elites of the Deep State (and of the nation-state that the Deep State rules) generate wealth inequality and thus instability by their very existence, i.e. the very concentration of wealth and power that defines the elite. So the only way to insure stability is to dissipate the concentrated wealth and power of the financial Deep State. This is the Deep State's Catch-22.

What happens when extremes of wealth/power inequality have been reached? Depressions, revolutions, wars and the dissolution of empires. Extremes of wealth/power inequality generate political, social and economic instability which then destabilize the regime. Ironically, elites try to solve this dilemma by becoming more autocratic and repressing whatever factions they see as the source of instability.

The irony is they themselves are the source of instability. The crowds of enraged citizens are merely manifestations of an unstable, brittle system that is cracking under the strains of extreme wealth/power inequality. Can anyone not in Wall Street, the corporate media, Washington D.C., K Street or the Fed look at this chart and not see profound political disunity on the horizon?
(Click image to enlarge.)

Many consider it "impossible" that Wall Street could possibly lose its political grip on the nation's throat, but I have suggested that Wall Street has over-reached, and is now teetering at the top of the S-Curve, i.e. it has reached Peak Wall Street. Consider what the extremes of Wall Street/Federal Reserve predation, parasitism, avarice and power have done to the nation, and then ask if other factions within the Deep State are blind to the destructive consequences.
. . . Debt has been the temporary savior of Deep States everywhere. Borrowing money from future earnings and future taxpayers has worked for seven long years, but it's unlikely to last another seven. You can borrow money for a time to fund super-welfare for all (elites and debt-serfs alike) but you can't make energy or food cheap again or regenerate social mobility or dissipate rising wealth/power inequality."

Read the entire essay here.

“It Won’t End Well for Global Elites”

“Elections aren’t about finalities, they’re about processes. They may be about departures. Case in point, the 2016 presidential contests, which feature Hillary and The Donald. If Trump wins, the process of the November election might start a departure in more than politics. It could be historic. It won’t be good, however, for the global elites inhabiting New York, DC, Boston, and San Francisco- or wherever else ivory towers, mahogany-paneled offices, pricey secured buildings, and gated communities are found. Trump’s election would have reverberations overseas, too, in London, Paris, Berlin - yes, wherever else ivory towers, et al, are found.

A Hillary victory means there won’t be a departure; merely a doubling-down by the elite, as they act with renewed zest to secure their interests - versus the national welfare. The Great Imposition - a war waged on average Americans - will continue with awful consequences.

Impose and divide – divide to conquer. Blacks against whites. (That’s more Milwaukees.) Hispanics against Anglos. (That’s more illegals and all legalized). Poor against rich. (Lots more free sh*t.) Takers versus producers. (Lots more free sh*t.) Marginalize the working class. (Further cede manufacturing to the Chinese; shut down coal and domestic energy production, generally.) Demean the middle classes. (Who knuckle-drag their bibles, guns, and backwater values through life.)

The worldview among many of our elite is anti-nation - dare we say - anti-American, anti-law and order, anti-tradition, anti-faith (with exceptions carved out for Islam), anti-durable values and enduring truths, like marriage between a man and woman, and family, as defined by a man, woman, and children. The elite, so very cosmopolitan, have evolved past antique beliefs and ways.

The dangers are domestic and foreign. President Hillary and anti-nation elites would continue failed policies toward Islamic militants and insurgencies. They’d serve up more perverse rationalizations for why Islam doesn’t animate jihadists. More dangers in the offing with rogue nations Iran and North Korea. Mounting danger in Asia, with China, where the PRC is boldly militarizing the South China Sea.

All pose existential threats, to one degree or another. To the elite? Obstacles to the world they’ve created for themselves. Perhaps to be solved with appeasements, like tribute (it worked for the Romans - for a while). Ransoms (monetary and otherwise). Accommodations. Retreats. Misdirection and outright lies. 

. . . Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.

Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street-that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected.

The powerful show no particular sign of worrying about any of this. When the working and middle class pushed back in shocked indignation, the people on top called them “xenophobic,” “narrow-minded,” “racist.” The detached, who made the decisions and bore none of the costs, got to be called “humanist,” “compassionate,” and “hero of human rights.”

So, too, on these shores, our elite aim to imitate Merkel, from Obama, who aids and abets illegals, and who’s pushing the import of Syrians, to Paul Ryan (an elitist on the spectrum), who speaks of compassion and fairness toward illegals and Muslim refugees. Never mind they’ll be no costs attendant to the speaker. But Ryan isn’t merely being abstract. His favoring amnesty serves cheap-labor business interests at the expense of struggling citizens.

With friends like these, why would the plutocrats need us/US?

“Spies’s memo is an explicit how-to guide for foreign nationals to get money into U.S. elections through U.S.-based corporations that they own,” said Paul S. Ryan, deputy director of the campaign finance watchdog organization Campaign Legal Center. “It shows that although Obama was attacked in public for misleading Americans about Citizens United, in private people like Spies and others like him seemingly realized that Obama was right and set to work making his prediction a reality.”
Reached for comment by phone, Spies stated that the memo had been prepared “to ensure compliance with the law,” but he declined to say anything further about the circumstances leading to its writing or about APIC itself.
When asked whether Obama’s remarks in 2010 were vindicated by his memo, Spies grew agitated. After a short discussion, he said, “I don’t think there’s any point in our continuing this conversation,” and then abruptly hung up the phone.
The story of APIC captures the bizarre reality of the U.S. political system:  George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush between them appointed three of the five members of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United majority; this majority opened up a loophole allowing foreign money to flow into U.S. elections; and this loophole was used to grab foreign money in an attempt to make a third Bush president.
. . . When contacted by Elaine Yu, a Hong Kong-based journalist and contributor to this series, Tang offered to give her 200,000 dollars in an unspecified currency (Hong Kong and Singapore both denominate their money in dollars) if "The Intercept" did not reference unverified claims on Chinese-language websites that he had been accused of criminal activity.
. . . Now headquartered in San Francisco, APIC calls itself a “diversified international investment holding company.” It currently owns, among other properties, five hotels and several residential developments in San Francisco, and three luxury hotels in China.
. . . Neil Bush is a member of the board of APIC and in 2013 joined SingHaiyi’s board as a nonexecutive chairman. Bush owns a small percentage of the Singapore company.
(Bush, like his business partner Tang, has been the subject of government investigations. Bush was famously sued by the federal government for his role on the board of Silverado Savings & Loan in Colorado from 1985 until 1988, when it collapsed with over $1 billion in debts. Silverado made $141 million in never-repaid loans to two investors in Bush’s oil exploration business; one of them used his free Silverado money to buy the entire company from Bush. Bush never faced criminal charges but did have to pay $50,000 to help settle the federal lawsuit and was reprimanded by government regulators.)
“We are very lucky to know them,” Wilson Chen said of the Bush family. “We talk to them as friends.” He noted that the Bushes have always been kind to China and said that “because of our generosity,” he was invited to attend a Right to Rise USA fundraising event hosted by Jeb Bush in April 2015 at the Mandarin Oriental, a luxury hotel in San Francisco.

APIC, which was initially incorporated in Oregon, made contributions between 2010 and 2014 to state and local Oregon politicians, mostly Democrats, totaling about $25,000. The earlier donations include $9,500 given to John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who was elected governor of Oregon in 2010 and 2014 and resigned last year in an unrelated ethics scandal.

“You know the politicians,” said Wilson Chen about the company’s history of donations. “They always ask for help.”

Wilson Chen, who unlike his sister and brother-in-law is a U.S. citizen, stated that APIC has never asked for anything specific in return for its money. However, he said, the connections between the company and prominent U.S. politicians gave those involved with APIC stature in Asia.

When asked whether Gordon Tang was unhappy with the donation to Rise to Rise USA given Jeb Bush’s quick defeat, Chen said no:  It was simply about helping a friend. (Right to Rise USA did not spend all of the money it received, and when Bush withdrew from the race, it sent refunds to contributors on a pro rata basis; APIC got back $152,230.)
Matt Taibbi elucidates the Summer of the Shill:

“We are very lucky to know them,” Wilson Chen said of the Bush family. “We talk to them as friends.” He noted that the Bushes have always been kind to China and said that “because of our generosity,” he was invited to attend a Right to Rise USA fundraising event hosted by Jeb Bush in April 2015 at the Mandarin Oriental, a luxury hotel in San Francisco.
APIC, which was initially incorporated in Oregon, made contributions between 2010 and 2014 to state and local Oregon politicians, mostly Democrats, totaling about $25,000. The earlier donations include $9,500 given to John Kitzhaber, a Democrat who was elected governor of Oregon in 2010 and 2014 and resigned last year in an unrelated ethics scandal.

“You know the politicians,” said Wilson Chen about the company’s history of donations. “They always ask for help.”

Wilson Chen, who unlike his sister and brother-in-law is a U.S. citizen, stated that APIC has never asked for anything specific in return for its money. However, he said, the connections between the company and prominent U.S. politicians gave those involved with APIC stature in Asia.

When asked whether Gordon Tang was unhappy with the donation to Rise to Rise USA given Jeb Bush’s quick defeat, Chen said no: It was simply about helping a friend. (Right to Rise USA did not spend all of the money it received, and when Bush withdrew from the race, it sent refunds to contributors on a pro rata basis; APIC got back $152,230.)

Here’s Why Americans Are Mad as Hell at Wall Street and Washington

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
August 12, 2016
Yesterday we published our 1,007th article here at Wall Street On Parade on the insidiously corrupt financial system in the United States known as Wall Street. It’s a system that now operates as an institutionalized wealth transfer mechanism that is hollowing out the middle class, leaving one of every five children in our nation living in poverty, while funneling the plunder to the top one-tenth of one percent.

Tens of millions of Americans clearly understand that an entrenched system of corruption such as this, perpetuated through a revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, while enshrined by a political campaign finance system that recycles a portion of the plunder to ensure greater plunders, will inevitably leave the nation’s economy in tatters — again. That’s because systemic corruption and legalized bribery within the financial arteries of the nation can only create grossly perverse economic outcomes.

The actual role of Wall Street is to fairly and efficiently allocate capital to maximize positive economic outcomes for the nation. Under the current model, Wall Street is focused solely on maximizing profits in any manner possible, including fraud and collusion, to maximize personal enrichment. When Senator Bernie Sanders said during his campaign stops and a presidential debate that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” there was a long, substantive archive of facts to back up that assertion.

Consider the intensely corrupt Wall Street analyst research practices that led to the Nasdaq crash at the turn of this century. Writing in the New York Times on March 15, 2001, Ron Chernow said it best:

“Let us be clear about the magnitude of the Nasdaq collapse. The tumble has been so steep and so bloody — close to $4 trillion in market value erased in one year — that it amounts to nearly four times the carnage recorded in the October 1987 crash.” Chernow compared the Nasdaq stock market, filled with companies boosted by intentionally corrupt Wall Street research, to a “lunatic control tower that directed most incoming planes to a bustling, congested airport known as the New Economy while another, depressed airport, the Old Economy, stagnated with empty runways. The market functioned as a vast, erratic mechanism for misallocating capital across America,” said Chernow.

The financial rewards for this corrupt model flowed to the research analysts at the biggest Wall Street firms and their CEOs who reaped lavish bonuses for the outsized “profits.” The poster boy for this era was Jack Grubman, an analyst at Salomon Smith Barney, a unit of the serially corrupt Citigroup. Grubman was charged by the SEC for fraudulent research. He never went to trial or was criminally charged. He merely paid a $15 million fine, was barred from the industry, and walked away rich. According to the SEC, Grubman’s total personal haul at Salomon Smith Barney “exceeded $67.5 million, including his multi-million dollar severance package.” Let that sink in for a moment: you are barred from your industry for corruption and you still receive a multi-million dollar severance package. There is simply no better testament to the principle that fraud is now both an accepted business model, as well as a profit center, on Wall Street.

After the 2001 collapse of Nasdaq, nothing materially changed to stop the systemic corruption model. In fact, corruption accelerated. Instead of allocating capital to build new industries and new jobs to ensure America’s future, Wall Street allocated capital to unsound derivatives and to subprime borrowers, whom it knew from its own internal reports, did not have the ability to repay the loans. Wall Street then offloaded its derivatives risk to AIG and suckered Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into buying its toxic subprime debt. All three institutions collapsed under the weight of this Wall Street corruption and, jointly, received over $367 billion in taxpayer bailouts.

In our exclusive report on May 20 of this year, we explained how the U.S. government has quietly been paying billions of dollars to Wall Street banks in recent years on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for derivative bets they are still saddled with. The public has yet to receive any definitive explanation of what is going on with these derivatives.

The Wall Street bailouts that the public knew about during the 2008 crash and its aftermath were chump change compared to the $13 trillion in cumulative loans that the Federal Reserve was secretly funneling to its Wall Street banking pals at below-market interest rates. While Citigroup was charging struggling consumers, in the midst of an economic crisis it helped engineer, over 15 percent on credit cards, it was getting a secret infusion of more than $2 trillion in cumulative loans from 2007 through at least 2010 from the nation’s central bank, much of it at less than 1 percent.

The cataclysmic financial crash of 2008 resulted in promises from the Obama administration that the Dodd-Frank financial legislation would forever reform the scurrilous looting by Wall Street. Not only has Wall Street not been reformed but its arrogance has been unbridled. Consider the following:

On February 16 of this year we reported that “AIG’s Board of Directors just appointed hedge fund titan, John Paulson of Paulson & Company, to its Board – despite the fact that he is named in a SEC complaint as a willful participant in the disgraceful Goldman Sachs deal that was designed to rip off investors while financially lining the pockets of Paulson and Goldman Sachs. While Paulson was not charged by the SEC, its complaint made clear he played a key role and profited greatly to the detriment of misled investors.” AIG became a ward of the taxpayer during the 2008 crash, in no small part because of derivative bets it couldn’t pay to Goldman Sachs. The taxpayer, courtesy of the U.S. government, paid those bets off to Goldman Sachs at 100 cents on the dollar.

Sheila Bair was the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal agency that insures the deposits of our nation’s banks, during the financial crash of 2008. After Bair stepped down from that role she wrote a definitive book on the crisis, Bull by the Horns. In the book, Bair exposed the government deceit that had surrounded Citigroup during the crisis, writing:

“By November, the supposedly solvent Citi was back on the ropes, in need of another government handout. The market didn’t buy the OCC’s and NY Fed’s strategy of making it look as though Citi was as healthy as the other commercial banks.  Citi had not had a profitable quarter since the second quarter of 2007. Its losses were not attributable to uncontrollable ‘market conditions’; they were attributable to weak management, high levels of leverage, and excessive risk taking. It had major losses driven by their exposures to a virtual hit list of high-risk lending; subprime mortgages, ‘Alt-A’ mortgages, ‘designer’ credit cards, leveraged loans, and poorly underwritten commercial real estate. It had loaded up on exotic CDOs and auction-rate securities. It was taking losses on credit default swaps entered into with weak counterparties, and it had relied on unstable volatile funding – a lot of short-term loans and foreign deposits. If you wanted to make a definitive list of all the bad practices that had led to the crisis, all you had to do was look at Citi’s financial strategies … What’s more, virtually no meaningful supervisory measures had been taken against the bank by either the OCC or the NY Fed … Instead, the OCC and the NY Fed stood by as that sick bank continued to pay major dividends and pretended that it was healthy.”

Consider what’s happening today at Citigroup with not so much as a peep from its myriad Federal regulators. Citigroup is today bulking up on over $2 trillion dollars in notional value (face amount) of the riskiest derivatives, credit default swaps, that brought down AIG and helped make Citigroup the recipient of the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history.

Given these facts on the ground, another President who takes a hands off approach to Wall Street while installing Wall Street cronies in the cabinet, will leave this nation terminally financially crippled.

Swiss Central Bank Holds $5.3 Billion in Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft Stocks

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
August 15, 2016
At the end of the first quarter of this year, Switzerland’s central bank held $119.7 billion in publicly traded stocks. The Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) web site indicates that it is now allocating 20 percent of its foreign currency reserves to stock investing. Twelve days ago, SNB made its quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showing large positions in individual U.S. stocks.

In just five tech names, SNB held over $5.3 billion with $1.489 billion invested in Apple; $1.2 billion invested in Alphabet, parent of Google; $1 billion in Microsoft; $803 million in Amazon and $741.5 million in Facebook.

Both Apple and Microsoft are among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), a heavily watched gauge of the U.S. economy’s health. The Swiss National Bank owns over $1 billion in two other names in the DJIA: $1.17 billion in Exxon Mobil and $1.032 billion in Johnson & Johnson.

Swiss National Bank positions of $500 million or more that are components of the DJIA include:

AT&T ($862 million); General Electric ($823 million); Verizon ($739.6 million); Procter & Gamble ($718 million); Pfizer ($644 million); Coca Cola ($582 million); and Chevron ($557 million).

Switzerland’s central bank has invested zero dollars in two DJIA components — the two big Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

The Swiss National Bank is just one of more than a dozen central banks that are now investing in publicly traded stocks – a policy that looks like a train wreck in motion to quite a number of Wall Street veterans.

We checked SEC filings for other central banks that are known to be buying stocks but could find only one other listing: the Bank of Israel. Instead of breaking down the names of the stocks, number of shares, and dollar value of the individual position held as done by the Swiss National Bank, the only public filing from the Bank of Israel tells us simply that it is using three money managers to make its U.S. stock investments. Those money managers are: UBS Asset Management Americas Inc.; BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd.; and State Street Global Advisors Ltd.

We could find no total dollar amount indicated for the Bank of Israel’s investments in U.S. stocks in its SEC filings but in 2013 Bloomberg News reported that the Israeli central bank had spent “about 3 percent of its $77 billion reserves on U.S. stocks,” or approximately $2.3 billion. On June 27 of this year, Reuters reported that Israel’s Monetary Policy Committee had approved investing as much as 10 percent of Israel’s foreign currency reserves in stocks.

Another major central bank plowing into stocks is the Bank of Japan. On April 24 of this year, Bloomberg News reported that the Bank of Japan “ranks as a top 10 holder in more than 200 of the Nikkei gauge’s 225 companies…”

If one adds the stock holdings of massive sovereign wealth funds, which are also deploying government money, to the growing stock market participation of central banks, alarm bells start to go off. Forbes contributor Adam Sarhan wrote the following earlier this year:

“Over the past 7 years, we have seen unprecedented action from global central banks all aimed at keeping stock prices up. It’s normal to see global central banks adjust monetary policy, up or down, based on economic conditions. But it is not normal to see global central banks print gobs of money every day to stimulate markets and it is definitely not normal to see them buy stocks outright. I’m not a lawyer but it raises the question: Is it even legal? I’m sure the BOJ is not alone in this questionable activity. The U.S. Fed refuses to be audited. One is compelled to ask: Why?”

Economist Ed Yardeni also voiced concerns on his web site in April, writing:

“In the long run, it’s hard to imagine that having the central monetary planners buy corporate bonds and stocks with the money they print can end well. In effect, the central banks are turning into the world’s biggest hedge funds, financed by their own internal primary (money-printing) dealers and backstopped by the government — which can always borrow more from the central bank or force taxpayers to make good on this Ponzi scheme…”

"Wall Street On Parade" has written a great deal about “dark pools,” those regulator-lite trading venues that are operated by the big Wall Street banks and function as in-house stock exchanges. Until we start to see more granular data at the SEC on exactly what central banks are buying and selling on U.S. stock exchanges, consider it just more “dark pool” activity and one more reason for the public to view these markets with a cynical eye.