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Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

Preserved for posterity: the lies of Chris Christie

Posted by Charles II on June 30, 2015

Tom Moran, Star-Ledger editorial board:

Most Americans don’t know Chris Christie like I do, so it’s only natural to wonder what testimony I might offer after covering his every move for the last 14 years.

My testimony amounts to a warning: Don’t believe a word the man says.

If you have the stomach for it, this column offers some greatest hits in Christie’s catalog of lies.

Don’t misunderstand me. They all lie, and I get that. But Christie does it with such audacity, and such frequency, that he stands out.

[Christie] told [public workers] their pensions were “sacred” to him.

“The notion that I would eliminate, change, or alter your pension is not only a lie, but cannot be further from the truth,” he wrote them. “Your pension and benefits will be protected when I am elected governor.”

He then proceeded to make cutting those benefits the centerpiece of his first year in office.

• In May, Christie told Megyn Kelly of Fox News that the Bridgegate scandal was basically over:

“The U.S. Attorney said in his press conference a few weeks ago there will be no further charges in the bridge matter. He said it affirmatively three or four times.”

Not even close. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the investigation continues, and that the two indicted Christie aides could wind up pleading guilty, which would yield a new trove of evidence.

“It’s like the end of Downton Abbey,” Fishman said. “You have to wait for a whole ‘nother season.”

• In March, Christie told a conservative gathering in Washington that he cut money to Planned Parenthood because he was “unapologetically” pro-life.

That was probably true. The lies came earlier, when he fended off criticism in pro-choice New Jersey by repeatedly saying the state’s financial pinch forced him to cut “worthy” programs like this one.

•In February, Christie claimed that he was a personal friend of the King of Jordan, which would allow him to accept gifts without limit, like a sumptuous weekend with his extended family in a desert resort enjoyed at the king’s expense.

Christie and his clan ran up a hotel bill of $30,000. He had met the king once, at a political dinner.

•Two weeks ago, Christie bragged to a national TV audience about his success with pension reform.

Supporting the pension reform? The court found those reforms to be unconstitutional.

He is a remarkable talent with a silver tongue. But if you look closely, you can see that it is forked like a serpent’s.

I would add, the louder he talks, the more he’s covering up. The ruder he is, the more closely people should examine what he’s saying. I hate to equate human beings to a deadly disease, as I have done implicitly with the category this is filed under. Really, it is the sort of shameless lying Christie engages in that is the disease. He’s just a corrupt, self-righteous, pompous, incompetent who happens to have that horrible and disfiguring disease.

Posted in corruption, crimes, Republicans as cancer | Leave a Comment »

The Eurotrash Earl, Aaron Schock

Posted by Charles II on February 3, 2015

An interior by Eurotrash (Image from Eurotrash, an interior designer)

Our good friend (if by “friend”, we mean “corrupt right-wing puppet”) Aaron Schock, the Republican congressman who supported the Honduran junta, is living like an Earl. Ben Terris, WaPo:

The Rayburn House Office Building is a labyrinth of beige offices.

And then, there’s . . . Rep. Aaron Schock’s new digs.

Bright red walls. A gold-colored wall sconce with black candles. A Federal-style bull’s-eye mirror with an eagle perched on top. And this is just the Illinois Republican’s outer office.

“It’s actually based off of the red room in ‘Downton Abbey,’ ” said the woman behind the front desk, comparing it to the luxurious set piece at the heart of the British period drama.

A blond woman popped out of an inner office. “Want to see the rest?” she asked.

She introduced herself as Annie Brahler, the interior decorator whose company is called Euro Trash. She guided me to Schock’s private office, revealing another dramatic red room. This one with a drippy crystal chandelier, a table propped up by two eagles, a bust of Abraham Lincoln and massive arrangements of pheasant feathers.

Then, my phone rang.

It was Schock’s communications director, Benjamin Cole.

“Are you taking pictures of the office?” he asked. “Who told you you could do that? . . . Okay, stay where you are. You’ve created a bit of a crisis in the office.”

A staff member then came and asked me to please delete the photos from my phone. So started a day of back-and-forths with a congressman’s office about interior design.

Nice to know the aristocrats are getting prepared for the new monarchy. But who would have imagined Schock as an Earl?

Posted in Congress, corruption, Honduras | 5 Comments »

The fight against corruption is the fight for the soul of our democratic republic

Posted by Charles II on January 11, 2015

In which I hold forth about corruption, the central role of fighting corruption in the writing of the Constitution, and the intellectual background for that as developed by Zephyr Teachout, former gubernatorial candidate. See here.

I think I have been talking for almost 20 years about why the real fight is not so much left vs. right as corrupt vs. anti-corrupt. Glad Teachout did the serious research to show that this is actually in the minutes of the Constitutional Convention.

Posted in abuse of power, corruption | 4 Comments »

Oh, yes… Ferguson Witness 10? Changed his testimony, presumably coached by police, and still “cannot fully recall”

Posted by Charles II on December 17, 2014

DemocracyNow:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, and, of course, Witness 40 was—the importance of her testimony was that she, and there’s at least another witness, as I recall, Witness 10, who were the ones who said that Brown charged at police officer Wilson. And so, obviously, if her testimony is impugned, then the issue becomes: What about this other witness? And I want to turn to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. Late last month, he dissected the credibility of that other witness, Witness 10.

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Witness number 10 was working in the neighborhood, and he begins his story to the police with: “I seen the two young guys walkin’ down the street on the same sidewalk that I was on.” Six weeks later, witness number 10 testified to the grand jury and changed his story about where Michael Brown was walking. He said under oath to the grand jury, “I seen Mike Brown and his friend walking down the street closer to the curb, not on the sidewalk.” That is the kind of thing the district attorney was complaining about last night—witnesses changing their stories to fit the publicly known facts.

Here is why witness number 10 was the most important witness to appear in Darren Wilson’s defense. This is what he described Michael Brown doing when Officer Wilson got out of the car and chased him: “[Michael Brown] stopped. He did turn. He did some sort of body gesture. I’m not sure what it was, but I know it was a body gesture. And I could say for sure he never put his hands up after he did his body gesture. He ran towards the officer full charge.” So there’s witness number 10 saying the magic words: He never put his hands up, and he ran towards the officer full charge.

In the grand jury, when the prosecutor asked witness number 10 to describe what he called a “body gesture,” he said, “I can’t say for sure what sort of body gesture. I cannot fully recall. All I know is it was not in a surrendering motion of I’m surrendering, putting my hands up or anything. I’m not sure if it was like a shoulder shrug or him pulling his pants up. I’m not sure.” So, there’s the district attorney’s favorite witness, the only one he quoted last night, saying, “I cannot fully recall. … I’m not sure. … I’m not sure,” within the body of an answer in which the only thing he’s absolutely sure of is that Michael Brown did not do a surrendering motion. In a real courtroom, when a witness begins his answer with “I can’t say for sure,” and then in the body of his answer he says, “I cannot recall fully,” and then says, “I am not sure,” twice within that same answer, that witness observation does not survive cross-examination. But there was no cross-examination in the grand jury room.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Lawrence O’Donnell on his show on MSNBC, Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. And he went on from there. His final point about [witness] number 10 is that when he was asked by the police how far away he was, he said about a hundred yards—a football field away. When he goes into the grand jury, he says something like 50 yards—he cuts it in half—or 50 to 75 yards. Can he see? Does he wear glasses? None of those questions, because this isn’t a trial. This is a grand jury.

This certainly sounds like a witness who was urged by police or the prosecutor to change his testimony. If there are two witnesses who perjured themselves, then the likelihood that the prosecutor is guilty of having induced witnesses to perjure themselves is significant. Time for federal action.

Posted in corruption, racism | 1 Comment »

Mexican federal police orchestrated the assassination of 43 students, probably with the collaboration of the army

Posted by Charles II on December 16, 2014

Proceso has a story out on this. The English version by the Guardian says this:

Mexican federal authorities had real-time information of an attack on a group of student teachers by corrupt local police, but did nothing to stop the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 people, according to new evidence published by the news magazine Proceso.

But this is not quite what Proceso says. Anabel Hernandez and Steve Fisher write:

The attack was orchestrated and executed by the Federal Police, with complicity or open collaboration with the Army.

Federal forces participated in the attack against the students of the normal (college) of Ayotzinapa in the night of last 26 Sept in Iguala, Guerrero, during which attack three students died and 43 were disappeared in a series of actions known in real time by the federal government.

Deep in The Guardian’s article, they get around to saying what Hernandez and Fisher said, calling it a “contentious claim.”

What is with the Guardian, that it can’t get its Latin American coverage right? And what is with the US government that surely knows that the government of Pena Nieto is engaged in terrorism?

Posted in corruption, Mexico, terrorism | Comments Off on Mexican federal police orchestrated the assassination of 43 students, probably with the collaboration of the army

Justice dismayed

Posted by Charles II on June 24, 2014

Lisa O’Carroll and Patrick Wintour, The Guardian:

Rebekah Brooks, his [Andy Coulson’s] predecessor in the job [editor of the News of the World}, walked free from the Old Bailey after she was cleared of all four of the charges she faced in the eight-month trial.

[Brooks husband] Charlie [Brooks], [secretary Cheryl] Carter and News International’s head of security, Mark Hanna, were all cleared of one count each – conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The News of the World’s former managing editor Stuart Kuttner was also found not guilty on phone-hacking charges, but the jury have not reached unanimous verdicts on two further charges faced by Coulson and one charge faced by the News of the World’s former royal editor Clive Goodman.

Brooks’s acquittal will provide some relief for Rupert Murdoch, who once described the woman who rose to be chief executive of his London based News International operation his “top priority” when the phone hacking crisis first broke in the summer of 2011.

The only Murdoch employee found guilty was Andy Coulson, David Cameron’s former head of communications.

This follows a familiar pattern: criminality is rampant at a corporation, but the boss didn’t have the slightest knowledge; jail time for the small fry, not even a slap on the wrist for the people who–however cleverly and deniably– ordered the deeds. How different things would be, I think, if the law held the boss responsible for whatever was done by a corporation.

Posted in corruption, impunity, Media machine, Rupert Murdoch | Comments Off on Justice dismayed

The tax grift

Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2014

Citizens for Tax Justice:

American Fortune 500 corporations are likely saving about $550 billion by holding nearly $2 trillion of “permanently reinvested” profits offshore. Twenty-eight of these corporations reveal that they have paid an income tax rate of 10 percent or less to the governments of the countries where these profits are officially held, indicating that most of these profits are likely in offshore tax havens.

While congressional hearings over the past few years have focused attention on the tax avoidance strategies of technology corporations like Apple and Microsoft, this report shows that a diverse array of companies are using offshore tax havens, including U.S. Steel, the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, the apparel manufacturer Nike, the supermarket chain Safeway, the financial firm American Express, and banking giants Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

These 28 companies are not alone in shifting their profits to low-tax havens—they’re only alone in disclosing it. A total of 301 Fortune 500 corporations have disclosed, in their most recent financial reports, holding some of their income as “permanently reinvested” offshore profits. At the end of 2013, these permanently reinvested earnings totaled a whopping $1.95 trillion.

The only way to have both balanced budgets and low taxes on the middle class is to tax deadbeat corporations. Everyone else, especially those many corporations which do pay taxes (notably, corporations whose operations are all in the US), should be in favor of this.

Posted in impunity, taxes, The Plunderbund | 4 Comments »

They all just hang out together

Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2014

Robert Parry, The Consortium:

[Following the Iraq debacle,] You might have expected that the neocons would have been banished to the farthest reaches of U.S. policymaking, so far away that they would never be heard from again. However, instead of disappearing, the neocons have proved their staying power, now reemerging as the architects of the U.S. strategy toward Ukraine.

… the ultimate goal of the Ukraine gambit is not just “regime change” in Kiev but “regime change” in Moscow. By eliminating the independent-minded and strong-willed Putin, the neocons presumably fantasize about slipping one of their ciphers (perhaps a Russian version of Ahmed Chalabi) into the Kremlin.

Then, the neocons could press ahead, unencumbered, toward their original “regime change” scheme in the Middle East, with wars against Syria and Iran.

JP Sottile, The Consortium:

Behind the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Ukraine are the economic interests of giant corporations – from Cargill to Chevron – which see the country as a potential “gold mine” of profits from agricultural and energy exploitation, reports JP Sottile.

Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming. According to Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer.

On Dec. 13, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea port. Cargill’s port at Novorossiysk — to the east of Russia’s strategically significant and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.

Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution” in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the U.S. Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Department of State.

David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a “Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.”

That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the U.S.-Ukrainian Foundation last Dec. 13, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”

These people hang out together, they have the same triumphalist world view in which America is the lamp to the world and capitalism = democracy, so they work together on common goals, even if those goals may contradict international law and those American values that are not commercial. It’s not a conspiracy, but neither is it the government that Americans voted for when they voted for Barack Obama. After all, what Cargill, Monsanto, and John Deere are doing in the Ukraine (using our State Department and the tax money collected by our government) is more akin to a hostile takeover of the kind that Mitt Romney pioneered.

Posted in impunity, Russia, State Department, The Plunderbund | 3 Comments »

Courts for sale

Posted by Charles II on March 2, 2014

Judith Resnik, NYT:

SHOULD wealthy litigants be able to rent state judges and courthouses to decide cases in private and keep the results secret?

The answer should be an easy no, but if the judges of Delaware’s Chancery Court persuade the United States Supreme Court to take their case and reverse lower federal court rulings outlawing that practice, corporations will, in Delaware, be able to do just that.

Posted in activist judges, corruption, judicial rulings, judiciary | Comments Off on Courts for sale

An article I ought to read

Posted by Charles II on February 7, 2014

I linked this lengthy article by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine in a comment to PW. It has to do with the latest billionaire Oz who imagines that his benevolent neo-liberal ideas will solve the world’s problems, namely Pierre Omidyar. There’s a lot in it:

* How to turn microfinancing into payday lending, complete with suicides and ruined lives
* The latest corporate libertarian Great White Hope Hernando deSoto, aide to dictator Alberto Fujimori
* Hayek’s ILD as the first of the international right-political think tanks linked to Cato and Heritage

And Omidyar is financing Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald to do FirstLook Media.

It’s an interesting article. I should read it.

Posted in corporatists, corruption, half-vast rightwing conspiracy, media, Media machine, neoliberals, unintended consequences | 2 Comments »

 
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