Friday, January 08, 2016

ain't nobody pay $300K to hear Granny Goodness run her filthy pie hole!!!

globalresearch |  In the first phase of the 2016 Presidential election cycle, according to the New York Times, 158 wealthy donors provided half of all campaign contributions, 138 of them backing Republicans, 20 backing Democrats. No candidate can easily compete without huge amounts of money. And if you get it from small donors, as Bernie Sanders has done the most of, you’ll be largely shut out of free media coverage, and belittled in the bit of coverage you’re granted. The media coverage, the debate questions, and the topics discussed are determined by the interests of the wealthy in this national oligarchy.
Then there’s the corrupt foundation money and speaking fees flowing into the Clinton family from wealthy sources in the U.S. and abroad. While most Americans are unable to sit through a full presidential debate, Wall Street, Big Pharma, and corporate technology interests have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars supposedly just to hear Hillary or Bill Clinton speak.
According to a new report by Consortium News, Hillary Clinton took in $11.8 million in 51 speaking fees between January 2014 to May 2015. Bill Clinton delivered 53 paid speeches to bring in $13.3 million during that same period. That’s over $25 million total, largely if not entirely from wealthy parties with a strong interest in influencing U.S. government policy.
This system of rewarding former politicians is one of the great corrupting forces in Washington, DC, but the revolving door that brings such politicians back into power makes it many times worse.
According to the Washington Post, since 1974 the Clintons have raised at least $3 billion, including at least $69 million just from the employees and PACs of banks, insurance companies, and securities and investment firms.
According to the International Business Times, the Clintons’ foundation took in money from foreign nations while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, nations such as Saudi Arabia for which she then waived restrictions on U.S. weapons sales. (Also on that list: Algeria, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar.) I brought this up on a recent television program, and one of the other guests protested that I was not, at that moment, criticizing Donald Trump. But, even if we assume Trump is the worst person on earth, what has he done that is worse than taking a bribe to supply Saudi Arabia with the weapons that have since been used to slaughter children in Yemen? And what does Trump have to do with bribery? He’s self-corrupted. He’s in the race because of the financial barrier keeping decent people out. But he hasn’t been bribed to act like a fascist.
The Wall Street Journal reports that during the same period, Bill Clinton was bringing in big speaking fees from companies, groups, and a foreign government with interests in influencing the U.S. State Department. Eight-digit donors to the Clintons’ foundations include Saudi Arabia and Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk. Seven digit donors include: Kuwait, Exxon Mobil, Friends of Saudi Arabia, James Murdoch (son of Rupert), Qatar, Boeing, Dow, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart and the United Arab Emirates. Those chipping in at least half a million include Bank of America, Chevron, Monsanto, Citigroup, and the Soros Foundation. And they don’t even get a speech!

malheur county targetted for gold and uranium mines

oregonlive |  Sprawling Malheur County could soon be in the spotlight as a mining hub -- or a battleground of uranium and gold mining interests vs. environmentalists trying to protect its lonesome sagebrush landscape.
Australian-owned Oregon Energy LLC hopes to mine 18 million pounds of yellowcake uranium from the southeastern Oregon high desert 10 miles west of McDermitt near the Oregon-Nevada boundary. The go-ahead to mine the so-called Aurora uranium deposit could bring up to 250 construction jobs to the county, followed by 150 mining jobs.
Meanwhile, Calico Resources USA Corp., a subsidiary of a Vancouver, B.C., company, may seek permits this month to chemically extract microscopic gold from a high desert butte south of Vale called Grassy Mountain, a project likely to create another 100 jobs.
The proposals will be the first real test of the 1991 chemical processing mining law passed by the Legislature in response to a debate over mining's future in Oregon, said environmentalist Larry Tuttle. The law ushered in tough new bonding requirements to weed out marginal operators and guarantee environmental cleanup.
Approval of the Grassy Mountain project could trigger a deluge of new chemical mining in Malheur County. Up to a dozen gold deposits similar to Grassy Mountain dot the high desert between the Snake River town of Huntington and Jordan Valley.
The county, sparsely populated with only 31,313 people, could use new jobs, said County Commissioner Dan Joyce. Its unemployment rate in November was 10.3 percent, compared with 9.1 percent for Oregon and 8.6 percent for the nation.
Mining companies have passed up the county in the past because of Oregon's environmentally conscious reputation, Joyce said. But this time, the sluggish local and state economies, higher mineral prices and technological advances in mining and cleanup could open a door to mining, he said.
"I'm thinking people are a lot hungrier now than they were," Joyce said.
Uranium mine plan
Oregon Energy's proposal calls for extracting ore from a mile-long, 600-foot wide, 250-foot deep open pit 10 miles west of McDermitt and 3 miles north of the Oregon-Nevada border. The mine, adjoining the former Bretz Mercury Mine, a contaminated open-pit site from the 1960s, would cost $200 million to develop and uranium extraction could continue for up to 20 years, said Oregon Energy President Lachlan Reynolds.
Plans call for the ore to be crushed and mixed with an acid solution in enclosed vats to leach out the uranium, he said. The acid would bond with the uranium and when dry become a sand-like powder called uranium oxide concentrate, or yellowcake. Yellowcake would bring $52 per pound and could fuel nuclear reactors or be processed into weapons.
Tuttle, spokesman for the Portland-based Center for Environmental Equity, foresees environmental problems.

eastern oregon once had a malheur indian reservation, guess what happened?

dailykos |  For most of the 1800s and earlier, Eastern Oregon was largely the territory of the Northern Paiute. The Malheur Indian Reservation was created in 1872 to set aside a small part of their former territory exclusively for Native Americans. The reservation was established by executive order of President Ulysses Grant. This was necessary since Congress refused to ratify the 1868 treaty negotiated with the Paiute (there’s rarely been any political benefit to treating Indians fairly).
Much like the right-wing extremists of today, settlers to the area flouted federal rules and began to illegally graze their cattle on Indian lands:
[...] to make matters worse, local stockmen had begun encroaching upon reservation lands. Some were so bold, [Agent W.V.] Rinehart wrote his 1878 report, “that they have even taken up their residence within the limits of the reservation, and make no secret of their intention to occupy and use the land.”
And yes, that’s exactly what Cliven Bundy is doing on federal lands in Nevada and what his son Ammon Bundy is advocating in OregonThe illegal encroachment by Euro-American settlers in the 1870s inevitably led to conflict with Indians. This then led to settlers agitating for the Federal government to remove the Indians and redistribute their land to Euro-Americans. They succeeded. 
In 1879, the reservation was closed and the land opened up for Euro-American settlement (Asian-Americans and African-Americans also settled in the area). The closure was precipitated by the Bannock War of 1878 in which the Northern Paiute were peripherally involved. Most Paiute Indians resident in the area were forcibly moved to the Yakima reservation in Washington state and not permitted to return till 1887. Today, the Wadatika band of the Paiute continues to inhabit the small Burns-Paiute reservation

You can find a fascinating set of maps of the region and the forced removals at this University of Oregon course website: Decolonizing research — The Northern Paiute History.
Here’s Indian Country’s succinct roundup:
President U.S. Grant established the Malheur Indian Reservation for the Northern Paiute in 1872. It is no coincidence that the historical reservation shares a name with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, site of the current armed standoff.
White settlement nibbled at the Malheur Indian Reservation until the Bannock War in 1878, which ended with surrendered Paiutes and Bannocks on the reservation being removed, officially to the Yakima Reservation in Washington Territory. Unofficially, Paiutes had scattered all over the Western States that comprised their aboriginal lands. The Burns Paiute Reservation is the remains of the Malheur Reservation and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge is an alternative use for the federal land, for those who believe the federal government exists.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

status quo lapdogs impotent struggles to explain trumpism

theatlantic |  The willful suspension of disbelief by so many political professionals and analysts had multiple roots. One part was a deep belief that history rules—since rogue and inexperienced candidates had always faltered before, it followed that it would happen again. Another was that nothing has changed in a meaningful way in American politics—there has not been real polarization, only natural “sorting,” and the establishment will rule, as it always does. A third was that there are certain characteristics expected of a president—prudence, civility, expertise—that would eventually cause Trump and the other outsiders like Carson, Cruz, and Fiorina to fall by the wayside.

Those roots remain resilient in the punditocracy and political community. They were and are wrong. Both Trump and a broader phenomenon—call it Trumpism—are stronger and deeper than most veteran political analysts realized or were willing to acknowledge. They are neither immediate nor transitory phenomena. The disdain for the status quo, for authority figures of both parties and other institutions, and the anger at inexorable changes in society, are real, enduring, and especially deep on the Republican side. Ideology forms a significant part of that anger, but it transcends much of the predictable divide between liberals conservatives. And even if neither Trump nor Cruz—who also channels much of the Trumpist message and approach—win a presidential nomination, it will persist, and contend for primacy in the GOP, well beyond 2016.

For the past several months, every poll has shown outsider candidates, either those vigorously attacking their own leaders and other societal elites or those having no experience at all in politics or governance, garnering over 60 percent support from Republican voters. The main insider, establishment figures hover at around 20 percent support. And of course, the most outsider, populist, and bombastic among them, Donald Trump, has led the field in the vast majority of national polls—and in most state polls, as well.

At the same time, Freedom Caucus members, the most conservative in Congress, were attacked from the right for supporting Paul Ryan as speaker—a man who is by far the most conservative speaker of the House in history. And probably the second most conservative speaker, John Boehner, was hounded from office for not being radical and tough enough.

But who is responsible for the rise of Trumpism? What caused the crippling migraine headaches now afflicting the toughly pragmatic conservative-establishment wing of the GOP? Here are the people and institutions who played a role—however deliberate, unwitting, or inadvertent—in laying the groundwork for Trumpism to flourish in America:

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

the rule of law no longer exists in uhmurkah...,

PCR |  Bundy and militiamen, whose count varies from 15 to 150 in the presstitute media, have seized an Oregon office of the BLM as American liberty’s protest against the frame-up of the Hammonds on false charges. As I write the Oregon National Guard and FBI are on the way.
The militiamen have said that they are prepared to die for principles, and the rule of law is one of them. Of course, the presstitute media is making the militiamen into the lawbreakers—and even calling them terrorists—and not the federal government’s illegal prosecution of the Hammonds, whose crime was their refusal to sell their ranch to the government to be included in the Masher National Wildlife Refuge.
If there are only 15 militiamen, there is a good chance that they will all be killed, but if there are 150 armed militiamen prepared for a shootout, the outcome could be different.
I cannot attest to the accuracy of this report of the situation: The resources required to verify the information in this account of how the government escalated a “crisis” out of the refusal of a family to bend is beyond the resources of this website. However, the story fits perfectly with everything Lawrence Stratton and I learned over the years that we prepared our book on how the law was lost. This account of the persecution of the Hammonds is the way government behaves when government has broken free of the rule of law.
I can attest with full confidence that the United States no longer has a rule of law. The USA is a lawless country. By that I do not mean what conservative Republicans mean, which is, if I understand them, that racial minorities violate law with something close to impunity.
What I mean is that only the mega-banks and the One Percent have legal protection, and that is because these people control the government. For everyone else law is a weapon in the hands of the government to be used against the American people.
The fact that the shield of law no longer exists for American citizens is why, according to US Department of Justice statistics, only 4 percent of federal felonies ever go to trial. Almost the entirety of federal felonies are settled by coerced plea bargains that force defendants to admit to crimes that they did not commit in order to avoid “expanded indictments” that, if presented to the typical stupid, trusting, gullible American “jury of their peers,” would lock them away for hundreds of years.
American justice is a joke. It does not exist. You can see this in the American prison population. “Freedom and Democracy” America not only has the largest percentage of its population in prison than any country on the planet, but also the largest number of prisoners.
If you consider that “authoritarian” China has four times the population of the United States but fewer prisoners, you understand that “authoritarian” China has a more protective rule of law than the United States.
Compared to “freedom and democracy America,” Russia has hardly anyone in prison. Yet, Washington and its media whores have defined the President of Russia as “the new Hitler.”
The only thing we can conclude from the facts is that the United States Government and those ignorant fools who worship it are evil incarnate.

oregon standoff far bigger than fifteen men in a wildlife refuge...,

WaPo |  They say the federal government stripped them of their land and resources. And they’re not alone.
The weekend occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon may seem like the ravings of a small group of armed activists, but it belongs to a much larger movement in the western United States. Lawmakers in at least 11 states have in recent years explored the possibility of taking back federal land in their own way: through their state legislatures.
Before this weekend’s incident, and before the Cliven Bundy confrontation in Nevada in 2014, there was Utah’s H.B. 148. In 2012, Utah passed that bill into law, requiring the federal government turn over the public lands within the state. The law carried little force — the end-of-2014 deadline for the transfer came and went — but it signified the start of a new chapter in the four-decade fight over Western land.
At the time, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) described it as a necessary step.
“This bill creates a mechanism to put the federal government on notice that Utah must be restored to its rightful place as a co-equal partner,” he said in a signing statement. “The federal government retaining control of two-thirds of our landmass was never in the bargain when we became a state, and it is indefensible 116 years later.”
Proponents of the movement say it’s about local control and taking back what rightly belongs to state residents.
Critics fear that reclaiming public land could become a financial burden for states and may be the first step toward the land being sold off or otherwise losing its protected status.
The fight itself stretches back to the passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which confirmed the policy of federal retention of public lands. Since then, lawmakers throughout the West have pushed back against the lack of control over land within their borders, including during the famous “Sagebrush Rebellion” of the 1970s and 1980s — a movement that counted Ronald Reagan among its supporters.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

mormon outlier cliven bundy has fourteen children genetically apt to bite the hand that feeds them...,

motherjones |  As one of the leaders of a band of armed, anti-government activists who have taken over a National Park Service building in Oregon, Ammon Bundy has denounced the "tyranny" of the federal government. And he has brought a new round of attention to the anti-government militia movement that in 2014 rallied behind his father, Cliven Bundy, when the elder Bundy and armed supporters confronted federal agents in Nevada. But not long ago, Ammon Bundy sought out help from the government he now decries and received a federal small-business loan guarantee.

Ammon Bundy runs a Phoenix-based company called Valet Fleet Services LLC, which specializes in repairing and maintaining fleets of semitrucks throughout Arizona. On April 15, 2010—Tax Day, as it happens—Bundy's business borrowed $530,000 through a Small Business Administration loan guarantee program. The available public record does not indicate what the loan was used for or whether it was repaid. The SBA website notes that this loan guarantee was issued under a program "to aid small businesses which are unable to obtain financing in the private credit marketplace." The government estimated that this subsidy could cost taxpayers $22,419. Bundy did not respond to an email request for comment about the SBA loan.

On Monday, ABC News reported that Bundy and the "militia members occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge set up a roadblock, and two armed members manned a guard tower that is usually used to spot wildfires." Bundy has vowed to occupy the site in Burns, Oregon, for years. He participated in that tense 2014 standoff near his father's ranch; at one point he was tased by federal law enforcement agents for kicking a police dog.

It's not clear what Bundy and his fellow anti-government protesters, who include his brother Ryan, are trying to achieve through their standoff at the wildlife refuge. In an interview posted on his family's Facebook page, Bundy said the group would leave when the federal government allows local ranchers to use their land the way they want to. But he didn't specify what that means.

The takeover began following a protest against a judge's decision to re-sentence an Oregon rancher and his son for arson. The two men admitted to starting blazes that grew out of control, but they maintained they had a right to light these fires to protect their land from invasive species. They have both already served prison time, but a judge determined their sentences were too short. The convicted ranchers have rejected Bundy's takeover of the refuge center, saying Bundy and his comrades do not speak for them. In a December 11 letter, Ammon Bundy and his supporters declared, "We hold compelling evidence that the U.S. Government abused the federal court system" in the case of the convicted ranchers.

banksters can print money but they can't print energy...,

aspo-usa |  “By our calculations it will require additional debt formation of $39 trillion over the next decade to keep petroleum production operating.  Where that funding will originate from, when it is very unlikely to ever be repaid, will be of tantamount importance.  It will take very strong-willed societies to make such sacrifices.  If those sacrifices are not made, the integrated global production system will have disappeared by 2026.  2016 will be witness to the beginning of this event with dramatically increasing closures and bankruptcies throughout the world’s petroleum industry.”  The Hill’s Group — “an association of consulting petroleum engineers and professional project managers”

In 2014, according to the CIA's World Factbook, the GWP [the sum of all Gross Domestic Products in the world] totalled approximately US$107.5 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), and around US$78.28 trillion in nominal terms.  Which means $39 Trillion over a 10 year period would be a huge fraction of GWP. And all the more huge if I'm right that the next leg down in the Greatest-Ever Depression will be much worse - and much longer-lived -
than the first leg was (the so-called Great Recession).

the fundamental truth that "the big short" was crafted to conceal

comstockfunds |  A reporter asked us about the prospects of the stock market if the Fed raises the Fed Funds rate, since at the time there was a strong possibility of a rise in the rate to around 25 basis points. We explained that, ***in our opinion, the ending of the ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy) and increase in Fed Funds will be a significant negative for the stock market. The reporter asked why this is a negative since many times when the Fed raised rates in the past, the stock market also rose. We explained that the difference between the Fed raising rates in the past and today is that raising rates now has a lot more to overcome than in the past. We then explained the difference.***

[big snip]

We believe strongly that the Fed will be to blame for the central bank bubble we find ourselves immersed in presently.  After all, it was the Fed (under Greenspan) that missed the dot com valuations, and it was the Fed that lowered rates to 1% in June of 2003 that brought on the housing bubble with virtually no discipline of the banks and other mortgage lenders. When the credit markets and housing markets imploded in 2007-2008, driving the U.S. into the “great recession”, the Fed resorted to whatever it took to save our economy from collapsing into another depression. As stated previously, the measures the Fed took in the “central bank bubble” and inspired other central bankers to follow our lead (like QE and dramatic increases in the balance sheet) could be worse than the dot com bubble and housing bubble combined.  When this breaks there will be no shortage of business school textbooks about the inter-relationships between these three bubbles.

Another reason we are skeptical about the U.S. economy avoiding a recession in 2016 is because of the [stock market] breadth being as weak as it was in 2015. The top 10 companies in the S&P 500 accounted for virtually all the gains, but were overwhelmed by the 490 stocks that accounted for the decline in the index. This is also true about the number of stocks in the S&P 500 above the 10 day, 150 day and 200 day moving averages. We are also very concerned about the unsustainable path of the entitlements in our country. We have to elect the politicians who can get us on a sustainable path for the promises we made for the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid by increasing the retirement age, means testing, and adjusting for inflation properly (for the ACA we need a program that doesn’t increase the premiums while making sure we increase the participants).

In fact, we believe the Fed’s decisions over the past 20 years were instrumental in the dot com and housing bubbles. In the Fed’s mind they have done everything possible (including increasing their balance sheet from $800 bn. to $4.5tn.) to resurrect the U.S. economy. Instead, their legacy will be tarnished by the outrageous policies that were used over the past 8 years, and [which] in our view, will not result in the salvaging of our economy, but rather what may become one of the greatest destructions of wealth in history.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Guns, God, and Captain Moroni

OPB |  During an April 2014 standoff with federal officials, supporters and members of the Bundy militia cited Book of Mormon passages centering on Captain Moroni. There were also several flags quoting Captain Moroni’s own writing on his “title of liberty.” Often next to American flags, these banners read “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.”

Cliven Bundy - the Nevada Rancher who called on militia and anti-government forces to help him in the showdown with the Bureau of Land Management – cited his own Mormon faith as a reason for what he viewed as a favorable outcome. As quoted by the Salt Lake City Tribune:

“If the standoff with the Bundys was wrong, would the Lord have been with us?” he asked, noting no one was killed as tensions escalated. “Could those people that stood (with me) without fear and went through that spiritual experience … have done that without the Lord being there? No, they couldn’t.”

Those remarks represent the deep commitment to the Bundy brand of faith. Abraham Bundy – Cliven’s great-grandfather – was a deeply religious man who was driven from prior homes first by flood, and then by revolution. He settled what would become Bundyville, home to a one-room schoolhouse and a scattering of homesteads in a harsh stretch of desert.

Ultimately, the small town Abraham Bundy founded would be abandoned, after the Bundy family could not secure water and grazing rights from the federal government.

Bundy has previously said in interviews that relocation played a significant role in shaping his family’s outlook toward the federal government.

Those views are intertwined with Bundy’s faith. Speaking in St. George, Utah, after the standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, Bundy posed these questions to a crowd of mostly conservative Mormons, as reported by the Spectrum of St. George:

“If our (U.S.) Constitution is an inspired document by our Lord Jesus Christ, then isn’t it scripture?” Bundy asked.

“Yes,” a chorus of voices replied.

“Isn’t it the same as the Book of Mormon and the Bible?” Bundy asked.

“Absolutely,” the audience answered.

Militiamen vs BLM

obb |  Some of the leaders of the militia are supporters of the Bundy family in Nevada. Cliven Bundy refused to pay the Bureau of Land Management more than a million dollars in cattle grazing fees.

What resulted was an armed standoff between the BLM and militiamen from around the U.S. who flocked to defend Bundy. Militiamen even shut down I-15 north of Las Vegas as part of the confrontation. 

In YouTube videos posted over the past two months, Cliven Bundy’s son, Ammon Bundy, has made similar statements about the Hammonds – that the family is “being silenced” by federal officers and prosecutors. In one online posting titled a “Redress of Grievances,” Ammon Bundy alleges federal prosecutors are intimidating the Hammonds.

“We have obtained appalling evidence that the U.S. Attorney’s Office threatened the Hammond family with early detention and further punishment if the Hammond family continued to communicate with a certain individual,” Bundy writes. “This evidence…speaks against the U.S. Attorneys [sic] Office in their gross effort to infringe upon the Hammond’s right to free exercise of speech.”

In an interview with OPB, Cliven Bundy said the Hammonds reached out to his family during the past two months and asked for help.

“In public, they haven’t asked for our help,” Bundy told OPB. “In private, we’re still needed. I talked to Dwight Hammond…for probably close to an hour. His conclusion is basically, ‘I do not want to be shot in the head.’ He had fear that if he actually rejected what was going on, and stood up for the abuse in what was going on, there would be somebody who would actually kill him. Fear, is what their problem is.”

Spurred by outcry from the Bundy family, the militia organized a rally in support of the Hammonds for Saturday in Burns, calling out to self-described patriot groups from across the country.

They said it would be a peaceful march. Yet, threats are implied in many of the calls to protest from all quarters.

Ammon Bundy writes that if the Hammonds are imprisoned, “there will be some serious civil unrest.”

And militiaman Ryan Payne said he will do “whatever it takes” to support the Hammonds.

Hannibal Burress confronts Granny Goodness because Slick Willie makes Cosby look like a piker

CNN |  Bill Clinton isn't heading back to the campaign trail until Monday, but Hillary Clinton faced some shouted questions about his past conduct on Sunday.

Katherine Prudhomme-O'Brien, a Republican state representative here who has made a name for herself confronting candidates, repeatedly heckled Clinton during her first town hall of 2016, telling reporters after the event that she wanted to confront Clinton about claims the former president committed sexual assault against Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.

“I was a Democrat, but I became a Republican because of this, because of this stuff. Because of what I saw happen in the Clinton years, the hypocrisy of so-called women who fight for women,” said Prudhomme-O’Brien, who has interrupted Clinton events previously.

Bill Clinton’s past recently surfaced as a campaign topic yet again, as Donald Trump, in particular, raised past allegations and the Monica Lewinsky scandal in an attempt to drag down Clinton's wife. Last week, after Hillary Clinton called out his alleged “penchant for sexism,” Trump warned that her husband’s infidelity and the Clinton marriage as a whole were “fair game.” He later called Bill Clinton “one of the great abusers of the world.”

But Clinton herself didn’t bite on Sunday, instead telling Prudhomme-O’Brien, who repeatedly yelled over other questioners, “You are very rude, and I’m not going to ever call on you."

Sunday, January 03, 2016

a new political system has emerged in uhmurkah

billmoyers |  Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

at least I appreciate the shoeprint of the hon.bro.preznit's 13 B brogan in nutinyahoo's ass...,

mondoweiss | The president approved the wiretaps.
Privately, Mr. Obama maintained the monitoring of Mr. Netanyahu on the grounds that it served a “compelling national security purpose,” according to current and former U.S. officials.
That’s right; there’s a compelling national interest in stopping the Israel lobby.

Many have said that President Obama lacks spine? Well, it sure looks like the leak to reporters Adam Entous and Danny Yadron came from the administration, and it’s hard to believe that a leak of this magnitude was not approved by the president. Just when the Israel lobby thought that it was starting to get back to business as usual, the Obama administration has reminded them that something has fundamentally changed in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Not only did we beat the lobby and Israel on the Iran Deal, but: we’re exposing your tactics, and patriotic Americans are going to be very upset by what they see.

Remember that Obama in his highlight moment of the Iran Deal told Americans it would be an “abrogation of my constitutional duty” to defer to Israel’s interests on the Iran Deal. You’d think it would be a scandal that the Israeli PM was intriguing with Republicans — and surely some Democrats– in the way the WSJ has documented; but instead the official reaction is likely to be how outrageous it was for Obama and the NSA to be listening in on the supposed only democracy in the Middle East.

irrational population control by and among ruthless medieval tards sitting adjacent to our oil...,

ncr-iran |  Iran's fundamentalist regime is setting the stage for the mass execution of a large number of Sunni political prisoners in the notorious Gohardasht (Rajai-Shahr) Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran.

In recent days many Sunni prisons in Hall 10 of Ward 4 of the prison have been moved to another hall, according to received reports. The remaining prisoners in Hall 10 all have death sentences.

The segregation of the death-row political prisoners has caused deep anguish and concern among them and their relatives that the regime is preparing to soon carry out their executions.

At least 27 Sunni death-row political prisoners in Gohardasht (Rajai-Shahr) have had their sentences upheld by the regime's Supreme Court.

They have been charged with a variety of the fundamentalist regime's bogus offences, including "acting against national security," "propaganda against the state," "spreading corruption on earth," and "Moharabeh" (waging war against God).

Guardian |  Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr risks worsening sectarian tensions, the US has warned, joining a chorus of critics from the west and the Middle East who have condemned the killing.

As protesters in Tehran reacted with fury by setting fire to the Saudi embassy, US state department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement that the US was “particularly concerned” that al-Nimr’s execution risked “exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced.”

He said the US was calling on Saudi Arabia to ensure fair judicial proceedings and permit peaceful expression of dissent while working with all community leaders to defuse tensions after the executions.

The killing of Nimr, a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s ruling royal family, caused international outrage and a serious escalation of diplomatic tensions in the region, with unrest predicted in Shia-majority areas.

In Tehran, protesters broke into the Saudi embassy in the early hours of Sunday morning and started fires before being dispersed by the police. Iran’s foreign ministry called on protesters to respect the diplomatic premises, according to the Entekhab news website, and called for calm.

British politicians and the leaders of Iraq and Iran were among others who condemned the killing of Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric opposed to the Riyadh regime who was among 47 people executed on Saturday by the Saudi Arabian Sunni authorities.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

the new york times downplayed the influence of money in politics

mediamatters | The New York Times downplayed the impact of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and dismissed the influence of money in politics by ignoring record-breaking spending of outside groups, the role of large donor political contributions, and dark money in the 2014 midterm election.

A December 9 New York Times Magazine article entitled "Who Wants to Buy a Politician?" argued that the "forecast that a flood of money would follow" the 2010 Citizens United ruling has largely not come to fruition. Author Binyamin Appelbaum noted that "spending has declined in each of the last two congressional elections" and argued that spending on campaign elections is "economically inefficient" because campaign spending has little impact on election outcomes:

[T]he 2012 presidential election, which recorded $2.6 billion in campaign spending, underperformed many forecasts. And spending has declined in each of the last two congressional elections. Candidates and other interested parties spent $3.7 billion on this year's midterms, down from an inflation-adjusted total of $3.8 billion in 2012, which was less than the $4 billion spent in2010, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.


[B]uying elections is economically inefficient. Most voters, like most consumers, have defined preferences that are difficult for advertisers to shift. Chevron spent roughly $3 million during a recent campaign backing, certain City Council candidates in Richmond, Calif., where it operates a major refinery. Voters instead chose a slate of candidates who want to raise taxes. "Campaign spending has an extremely small impact on election outcomes, regardless of who does the spending," the University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt concluded in a 1994 paper. He found that spending an extra $100,000 in a House race might be expected to increase a candidate's vote total by about 0.33 percentage points. Investors appear to agree that companies can't make money by investing in political campaigns. A 2004 study found that changes in campaign-finance laws had no discernible impact on the share prices of companies that made donations.Appelbaum points to small donor contributions to argue that the majority of donations are not meant as an influencing factor:
Most campaign money, after all, comes in smaller chunks from individual donors. People who gave $3 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008 could not have reasonably expected that their small contributions would influence the future president. Even those who give larger sums rarely contribute the maximum allowed by law, as might be expected of someone trying to buy influence. Instead, individual contributions have increased over time merely in proportion to personal income.
But this argument obscures the especially outsized role large donors have in elections and downplays the proportion of large donations to overall campaign spending. The Sunlight Foundation found that in 2012, the median contribution from this group of elite donors was $26,584. Demos, a progressive public policy think tank, analyzed campaign finance data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics and found that most campaigns in 2014 were actually fueled by big donors:
Just 50 individuals and their spouses accounted for more than a third of the total money raised by Super PACs this cycle.  Many candidates, including some whose individual contribution totals reach into the millio

Granny Goodness peddles political influence like Bubba and Cooter peddle meth...,

zerohedge | Obviously, the potential exists for those paying for the speeches to use the lucrative events as a way to gain undue influence over what goes on in Washington. For instance, some suggest there may be a connection between a $200,000 payment made to Bill Clinton by Goldman Sachs in 2011 and the bank’s efforts to lobby the State Department ahead of legislation involving the Export-Import Bank which was set to provide a loan that would end up financing the purchase of millions of dollars in aircraft from a company partially owned by Goldman.
On Thursday, WSJ is out with a fresh look at the connection between Clinton's State Department and her husband's speaking tour. 
"More than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department," The Journal says, adding that "fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity." 
And on, and on. 
Of course the Clinton's deny there's any connection despite the rather obvious parallels and convenient timing. "No evidence exists" to link any actions taken by Mrs. Clinton’s State Department to organizations hosting Mr. Clinton’s speeches, Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told The Journal.
Yes, "no evidence exists," other than the $8 million Bill made from speeches made to companies who had "matters pending" with Hillary's State Department. That's just a coincidence. 
Don't worry though - none of this will happen if Hillary wins the White House. Bill says that although he'll still give speeches "on subjects [he's] interested in," he "doesn't think" he'll accept any payment.

any attack on trump's words applies directly to granny and bill's deeds

NYTimes |  Wealth can be bad for your soul. That’s not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it’s a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder.

And it’s obvious, even if we don’t have statistical confirmation, that extreme wealth can do extreme spiritual damage. Take someone whose personality might have been merely disagreeable under normal circumstances, and give him the kind of wealth that lets him surround himself with sycophants and usually get whatever he wants. It’s not hard to see how he could become almost pathologically self-regarding and unconcerned with others.

So what happens to a nation that gives ever-growing political power to the superrich?

Modern America is a society in which a growing share of income and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people, and these people have huge political influence — in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, around half the contributions came from fewer than 200 wealthy families. The usual concern about this march toward oligarchy is that the interests and policy preferences of the very rich are quite different from those of the population at large, and that is surely the biggest problem.

But it’s also true that those empowered by money-driven politics include a disproportionate number of spoiled egomaniacs. Which brings me to the current election cycle.

Friday, January 01, 2016

puzzlin' evidence - welcome to year ten of subrealist head slappery...,

few things as satisfying as hearing that pig squeal when he gets caught under the gate...,

theintercept |  What happened to all the dismissive lectures about how if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide? Is that still applicable? Or is it that these members of the U.S. Congress who conspired with Netanyahu and AIPAC over how to sabotage the U.S. government’s Iran Deal feel they did do something wrong and are angry about having been monitored for that reason?

I’ve always argued that on the spectrum of spying stories, revelations about targeting foreign leaders is the least important, since that is the most justifiable type of espionage. Whether the U.S. should be surveilling the private conversations of officials of allied democracies is certainly worth debating, but, as I argued in my 2014 book, those “revelations … are less significant than the agency’s warrantless mass surveillance of whole populations” since “countries have spied on heads of state for centuries, including allies.”

But here, the NSA did not merely listen to the conversations of Netanyahu and his top aides, but also members of the U.S. Congress as they spoke with him. And not for the first time: “In one previously undisclosed episode, the NSA tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant,” the New York Times reported in 2009.

The NSA justifies such warrantless eavesdropping on Americans as “incidental collection.” That is the term used when it spies on the conversations of American citizens without warrants, but claims those Americans weren’t “targeted,” but rather just so happened to be speaking to one of the agency’s foreign targets (warrants are needed only to target U.S. persons, not foreign nationals outside of the U.S.).

This claim of “incidental collection” has always been deceitful, designed to mask the fact that the NSA does indeed frequently spy on the conversations of American citizens without warrants of any kind. Indeed, as I detailed here, the 2008 FISA law enacted by Congress had as one of its principal, explicit purposes allowing the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans’ conversations without warrants of any kind. “The principal purpose of the 2008 law was to make it possible for the government to collect Americans’ international communications — and to collect those communications without reference to whether any party to those communications was doing anything illegal,” the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer said.  “And a lot of the government’s advocacy is meant to obscure this fact, but it’s a crucial one: The government doesn’t need to ‘target’ Americans in order to collect huge volumes of their communications.”  Fist tap Dale.  

chiraq to the potomac: fish rots from the head

newyorker |  It’s hard to remember a time when Rahm Emanuel wasn’t a Democratic Party superstar. Go back to 1991, when the thirty-two-year-old took over fund-raising for Bill Clinton. He  was soon renowned for making the staff come to work on Sundays, shrieking into the phone to donors things like “Five thousand dollars is an insult! You’re a twenty-five-thousand-dollar person!”—and, not incidentally, helping Clinton afford the blitz of TV commercials that saved him from the Gennifer Flowers scandal, clearing his course to the White House. The legend continued through this past April, when Rahm—in Chicago and D.C., he’s known by that single name—won a second term as the mayor of Chicago in a come-from-behind landslide.

Now the sins of Emanuel are finally catching up with him. Lucky for him, however, the compounding police-shooting scandal has erased from the news a peccadillo from this past November: the mayor’s press team was eavesdropping and recording reporters while they interviewed aldermen critical of the mayor. A spokesman responded to the press by saying that their only intent was also “to make sure reporters have what you need, which is exactly what you have here.” That made no sense. But then so much of the legend of Rahm Emanuel’s brilliant career makes little sense. The bigger question, perhaps, is what this says about a political party and the political press that bought the legend in the first place.