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Archive for the ‘cronies’ Category

DoJ doctors Holder speech; Obama appoints fox as chicken inspector

Posted by Charles II on August 13, 2013

It’s good it’s August, or I would not believe that the Administration could get this silly.

First item. Dan Froomkin unearthed the archived version of a Holder speech in which he boasts about the prosecution of people committing fraud against homeowners. Quoting from Atrios, the original:

This landmark Initiative, spearheaded by the FBI, was launched to help streamline and advance investigations and prosecutions against fraudsters who allegedly targeted, and preyed upon, Americans struggling to keep their homes. And it’s been a model of success. Over the past 12 months, it has enabled the Justice Department and its partners to file 285 federal criminal indictments and informations against 530 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 73,000 American homeowners – and inflicting losses in excess of $1 billion.

New, fluffier version:

This landmark Initiative, spearheaded by the FBI, was launched to help streamline and advance investigations and prosecutions against fraudsters who allegedly targeted, and preyed upon, Americans struggling to keep their homes. And it’s been a model of success. Over the past 12 months, it has enabled the Justice Department and its partners to file federal criminal charges against 107 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 17,185 American homeowners – and inflicting losses in excess of $95 million.

This is, of course, exactly what Orwell described in 1984.

And then there’s this from Timothy Lee of the Washington Post:

On Friday, President Obama promised to appoint an “independent group” of “outside experts” to review the government’s surveillance programs.

Today, the president formally ordered the formation of this group

The panel will be chosen by, and report to, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper [who lied under oath to Congress].

And there are other signs that the group won’t turn out quite the way the president described it on Friday. Friday’s speech talked about the need for input from outside experts with independent points of view. The president made no mention of the need for outsiders or independent viewpoints in his memo to Clapper.

The stated mission of the group has also shifted. On Friday, Obama said the group would examine “how we can maintain the trust of the people, how we can make sure that there absolutely is no abuse.” But today’s memo makes no mention of preventing abuses. Instead, it will examine whether U.S. surveillance activity “optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust.”

The era of Obama is over. He has become Mitt Romney.

______

Update. Perhaps in response to the mocking he got by Timothy Lee, Obama changed course yet again. Timothy Lee:

Update: In a Tuesday email, the White House says that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will not, in fact, choose the members of the Review Group. “The panel members are being selected by the White House, in consultation with the Intelligence Community,” writes National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “The panel will not report to the DNI.”

Posted in Barack Obama, corruption, cronies, impunity, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 8 Comments »

Vatican Bank scandal

Posted by Charles II on July 1, 2013

No time to post. Here’s the link.

Posted in crimes, cronies, The Vatican | 2 Comments »

Walker edges toward indictment

Posted by Charles II on November 20, 2012

John Nichols, Madison CapTimes:

It is no secret that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would like very much to have his name added to the long shortlist of 2016 Republican presidential contenders. But the nation’s most militant anti-labor politician has suddenly been thrust into the center of a scandal that is likely to dim his national prospects, and that could yet cost him his state post.

At the sentencing hearing for a top Walker aide convicted of felony misconduct in office, the chief prosecutor revealed that when Walker was seeking the governorship in 2010, he was part of an ongoing scheme to use county employees and resources to aid his campaign.

Wisconsin media exploded late Monday with reports from inside the courtroom, where Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation.

“Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf said the group that met regularly included people from Walker’s campaign such as campaign manager Keith Gilkes and spokeswoman Jill Bader along with county employees such as chief of staff Tom Nardelli, spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin, administration director Cindy Archer and Rindfleisch, according to email correspondence obtained by investigators.”

It is very clear that as county executive, Scott Walker was directing his subordinates to use county resources and time to get him elected government. A more clearcut example of abuse of power could not be imagined. Every politician on earth knows that you can only campaign on your own time and with your own money.

I do not understand why Wisconsin Republicans are not catching the odor rising up from that rotting heap of corruption, Scott Walker. The voters just gave the Republicans absolute power again. Next on the docket: a judicial election that well could determine whether justice is actually done in the Walkergate probe.

Posted in abuse of power, corruption, crimes, cronies | 3 Comments »

No one will care if President Romney got his cash from Chinese Triads

Posted by Charles II on July 17, 2012

(Image of Adelson from Propublica. Image of Mitt from Obama’s Dog)

A new report from Matt Isaacs, Lowell Bergman, and Stephen Engelberg of Propublica shows that Willard Romney’s main campaign donor, Sheldon Adelson, was rescued from potential bankruptcy (or at least the closure of his Macao gambling palaces) by bribery and corruption, potentially involving organized crime syndicates:

Now, some of the methods Adelson used in Macau to save his company and help build a personal fortune estimated at $25 billion have come under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators, according to people familiar with both inquiries.

Internal email and company documents, disclosed here for the first time, show that Adelson instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands.

The company’s general counsel and an outside law firm warned that the arrangement could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. …

Federal investigators are looking at whether the payments violate the statute because of Alves’ government and political roles in Macau…. [and] whether the company made any other payments to officials. An email by Alves to a senior company official, disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, quotes him as saying “someone high ranking in Beijing” had offered to resolve two vexing issues — a lawsuit by a Taiwanese businessman and Las Vegas Sands’ request for permission to sell luxury apartments in Macau. Another email from Alves said the problems could be solved for a payment of $300 million. There is no evidence the offer was accepted. Both issues remain unresolved.

The documents shed new light on … the company’s difficulties in avoiding contact with Chinese organized crime figures as it built its casino business in Macau.

Nevada law bars licensed casino operators from associating with members of organized crime.

Allegations about the company’s dealings with Alves as well as its purported ties to organized crime are prominently mentioned in a 2010 lawsuit filed by Steven Jacobs, former CEO of Sands China.

In the suit, Jacobs contends he was fired after multiple disputes with Adelson, which included the continued employment of Alves and the company’s dealings with junkets.

Anyone remember Bill Clinton, Maria Hsia, John Huang and James Riady? If there was a firestorm over a minor donor being related to the Chinese government, surely that means there will be no comment by our press about a man potentially linked to Chinese organized crime and governmental corruption funding supporting Willard’s campaign to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

Because these things are totally different! Just ask Brooks Jackson!

Posted in 2012, corruption, crimes, cronies, Mitt Romney | 2 Comments »

ALEC is not the only “corporate bill mill”

Posted by Charles II on May 16, 2012

Sara Blaskey and Steve Horn, Truthout:

ALEC, though, is not the only “corporate bill mill” playing this game.

“Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists” have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan “trade associations” for state government officials – in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. …

Upon being sworn into office, all state-level legislators (there are about 7,500 of them total), as well as their respective legislative staffs, automatically become CSG members. The organization’s membership also includes representatives from the executive and judicial branches of state governments.

Between 2009 and 2011, CSG’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms indicate revenue between $29 and $34 million annually. … $8.4 to $9.9 million of these funds – come from what it describes as “entrepreneurial efforts” which can be loosely interpreted to mean anything from publication sales to a sizable chunk from corporate patronage.

Some perspective is warranted: 990s filed by ALEC in 2010 placed its entire budget at just under $6 million.

To date, CSG is responsible for publishing between 30-40 model bills annually, in a process called Suggested State Legislation (SSL). These bills are distributed to the states as templates of bipartisan “best practices” often promoting the agendas of multinational corporations.

Most recently, the 2013 SSL docket includes legislation written by and for the shale gas industry on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), as well as a corporate-backed, union-busting collective bargaining “reform” bill.
….
Until now, the virtual charter school agenda has been linked exclusively to ALEC, though this is far from the case. It is common to see corporations and special interests groups use both CSG and ALEC to promote their agenda – a two-pronged attack, if you will.

A little-known fact is that the NRA also played a role in promoting a slightly tamer – and much less controversial – pro-gun model through CSG.

CSG and ALEC have also broken bread over the so-called “tort reform” agenda.

The most damning evidence of [another organization, The National Council of State Legislatures] NCSL’s shenanigans comes from an October 2010 report from ABC News’ “Nightline” on the July 2010 NCSL Legislative Summit, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky.

NCSL – due to ABC’s reporting – was the inspiration for a broader US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation on corruption in state politics. “Nightline” went so far as to describe state governments as the new “ground zero of influence peddling” for corporate lobbyists, using NCSL as a case in point. [Golfing, groping, dancing, drimking, and horse races]

Though not directly responsible for any policy positions, per se, the [And yet anotherorganization] State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF), with an annual budget in the $2.5 to $3 million range, can best be described as a corporate-funded tutelage academy for majority and minority state-level legislative leaders nationwide.
(emphasis added)

I really don’t think that “FFFFFF” is too strong a statement about people who claim to be for private enterprise while using the US Treasury to bribe and indoctrinate public officials into the task of busting up the bedrock of civil society to create a one-party corporate state,

Posted in corporatists, cronies, Democrats, Republicans, The Plunderbund | 1 Comment »

Best Friends Fauxrever : Murdoch phone hacking engulfs Cameron

Posted by Charles II on May 9, 2012

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian:

David Cameron texted Rebekah Brooks in the week she quit as News International’s chief executive over the phone-hacking scandal to tell her to keep her head up, it has been claimed in an updated biography of the prime minister.

In a sign of his closeness to some of the most controversial News International chiefs, Cameron told Brooks that she would get through her difficulties, just days before she stood down.

It has also emerged that he agreed to meet her at a point-to-point horse race so long as they were not seen together, and that he also pressed the Metropolitan police to review the Madeleine McCann case in May last year following pressure from Brooks.

The prime minister then sent an intermediary to Brooks to explain why contacts had to be brought to an abrupt halt after she resigned. The authors say the gist of that message was: “Sorry I couldn’t have been as loyal to you as you have been to me, but Ed Miliband had me on the run.”

But will all of this mean anything at all for NewsCorp? Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid, The Guardian:

News Corp shrugged off the hacking scandal in its second-quarter results as net income increased 65%, despite it having to pay $87m during the period as a result of the ongoing investigations that led to the closure of the News of the World. Net income rose to $1.06bn for the quarter, compared with $642m a year before, driven by growth in its cable networks and movie studio divisions.

[Major shareholder and Saudi Prince] Alwaleed expects this trend to continue despite the ongoing scandal and he said: “I believe that once this page is flipped over, News Corp can withstand the heat of what is happening there.”

Posted in cronies, impunity, Media machine, Rupert Murdoch | Comments Off

Reforming the Fed

Posted by Charles II on October 26, 2011

Bernie Sanders has a summary of the GAO report on the conflicts of interest at the Fed here.

Speaking of impunity:

Stephen Friedman, the Chairman of the New York Fed, sat on the Board
of Directors of Goldman Sachs, and owned shares in Goldman’s stock, something that was
prohibited by the Federal Reserve’s conflict of interest regulations. Mr. Friedman received a waiver from the Fed’s conflict of interest rules in late 2008.

The GAO found that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York consulted with General Electric on the creation of the Commercial Paper Funding Facility established during the financial crisis. The Fed later provided $16 billion in financing to General Electric under this emergency lending program. This occurred while Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, served as a director on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the same time that his bank received emergency loans from the Fed …
In March of 2008, the Fed provided JP Morgan Chase with $29 billion in financing to acquire Bear Stearns. During this time period, Jamie Dimon was successful in getting the Fed to provide JP Morgan Chase with an 18-month exemption from risk-based leverage and capital requirements. Dimon also convinced the Fed to take risky mortgage-related assets off of Bear Stearns balance sheet before JP Morgan Chase acquired this troubled investment bank.

While Congress has mandated that the Federal Reserve’s board of directors consist of experts in labor, consumer protection, agriculture, commerce, and industry, only 11 of the 202 members of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors represented labor and consumer interests from 2006-2010.

Of the 108 Federal Reserve board directors, 82 were the President or CEO of their company.
The Federal Reserve claims that it is hard to recruit labor and consumer representatives to its board because many are “politically active,”… According to the Center for Responsive Politics, [JPMorgan CEO Jaime] Dimon has made over $620,000 in campaign contributions since 1990.

Laws are meant for little people.

Posted in banking, corruption, cronies, impunity, Republicans as cancer | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Tammany on the Potomac

Posted by Charles II on August 10, 2010

(Via FT Alphaville, law professor Stephen Bainbridge explains why it’s legal for the Congress to trade on inside information, which they do while they’re supposed to be working for you: WHY DO CONGRESSMAN OUTPERFORM THE MARKET BY 12%? To some extent, campaign contributions are just icing on Congress’ lard cake. All a CEO needs to do to bribe a Congressman is to privately tell him what’s going on in the company. Even a broad smile and a wink is enough.

This reminds me of George Washington Plunkett, a Tammany politician, who famously said:

EVERYBODY is talkin’ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin’ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft – blackmailin’ gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc. – and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.

There’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin': “I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”

The Congress’ honest graft is corrupt. No reform of Congress will be complete until they are forced to put their holdings into blind trusts for the duration.

Posted in capitalism as cancer, Congress, corruption, cronies | 4 Comments »

Watch Jane Hamsher Spank Lanny Davis On Live TV

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 18, 2009

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

It’s mostly on Lanny’s health care lobbying shenanigans, but Jane is aware of Lanny’s work for the golpistas in Honduras as well.

Lanny thought he could just bash Jane with ad hominems until she wilted. He thought wrong.

Posted in corruption, cronies, Democratic consultants, health care, Honduras | 1 Comment »

Cheney’s Assassination Squads

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 12, 2009

Wow. Just — wow.

Sy Hersh let something big slip, and we have Eric Black to thank for catching it.

Posted in Constitution, Constitutional crisis, crimes, cronies, Dick Cheney, evil, terrorism, totalitarianism, WTF? | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

 
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