Tag Archives: Corruption

State Department approved 215 Bill Clinton speeches, controversial consulting deal, worth $48m; Hillary Clinton’s COS copied on all decisions, by Micah Morrison and Luke Rosa

The State Department approved Bill Clinton speeches and deals worth $48 million while his wife was Secretary of State. Only a hard-bitten cynic would suggest Bill’s paydays were meant to influence his wife. From Micah Morrison and Luke Rosiak:

A joint investigation by the Washington Examiner and the nonprofit watchdog group Judicial Watch found that former President Clinton gave 215 speeches and earned $48 million while his wife presided over U.S. foreign policy, raising questions about whether the Clintons fulfilled ethics agreements related to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary Clinton‘s tenure as secretary of state.

According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch and released Wednesday in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act case, State Department officials charged with reviewing Bill Clinton’s proposed speeches did not object to a single one.

Some of the speeches were delivered in global hotspots and were paid for by entities with business or policy interests in the U.S.

The documents also show that in June 2011, the State Department approved a consulting agreement between Bill Clinton and a controversial Clinton Foundation adviser, Doug Band.

The consultancy with Band’s Teneo Strategy ended eight months later following an uproar over Teneo’s ties to the failed investment firm MF Global.

State Department legal advisers, serving as “designated agency ethics officials,” approved Bill Clinton’s speeches in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Panama,Turkey, Taiwan, India, the Cayman Islands and other countries.

The memos approving Mr. Clinton’s speeches were routinely copied to Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s senior counsel and chief of staff.

Mills is a longtime Clinton troubleshooter who defended the president during his impeachment. In the Benghazi affair, Mills reportedly berated a high-ranking official at the U.S. embassy in Libya for talking to a Republican congressman.

Under State Department protocols, a “designated agency ethics official” is assigned to advise the secretary of state about “potential or actual conflicts of interest.”

In a December 2008 memorandum of understanding, the protocols were expanded to Bill Clinton, the Clinton Foundation and related initiatives — specifically, to reviewing Bill Clinton’s proposed speeches and consulting deals.

In an accompanying letter to the State Department legal adviser, Clinton lawyer David Kendall noted that Bill Clinton would disclose proposed consulting deals and, for speeches, provide “the identities of the host(s) (the entity that pay the speaker’s fee)” so that the State Department “in consultation with the White House as appropriate, may conduct a review for any real or apparent conflicts of interest with the duties of the Secretary of State.”

To continue reading: State Department approved 215 Bill Clinton speeches, controversial consulting deal, worth $48m; Hillary Clinton’s COS copied on all decisions

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Do You Live Next to One of These Spy Hubs? by Bill Bonner

Trade restrictions are the unwholesome detritus upon which swamp dwellers feast. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

The corks popped last night all over the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Architects anticipated grander and gaudier new assignments. Lawyers eyed their new vacation homes on the Delaware coast. The movers and shakers celebrated another victory…

…and stocks sold off.

Season of the Swamp

Our guess – still just a guess – is that U.S. stocks topped out on January 26, 2018. The “primary trend” is down… probably for a long time.

Trade barriers are going up. Win-win deals are giving way to win-lose deals. The government is getting bolder. Debt is increasing. And interest rates are rising.

It is the Season of the Swamp.

The swamp critters are already enjoying billions of dollars’ worth of crony contracts, billable legal hours, and lobbying fees from Donald Trump’s new “trade war.”

Earlier this month, The Donald slapped 25 percent tariffs on roughly $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, 1,102 items in total.

Every one of the 1,102 Chinese products targeted by the administration has a manufacturer, an owner, and a competitor. And every one of them is now writing a check – to a trade rep, a lawyer, a lobbyist, or a politician – trying to wrangle a better deal.

And now, insiders are anticipating hundreds of billions more as the president drags America’s most dynamic industry into the swamp, too.

Yes, he announced yesterday a whole new bureaucracy under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) to watch over and approve any technology transfer that could affect America’s national security… or, according to the president himself, its prosperity:

Should Congress fail to pass strong FIRRMA legislation that better protects the crown jewels of American technology and intellectual property from transfers and acquisitions that threaten our national security – and future economic prosperity – I will direct my administration to deploy new tools, developed under existing authorities, that will do so globally…

To continue reading: Do You Live Next to One of These Spy Hubs?

I Remember When America Was A Free Country, by Paul Craig Roberts

Kids growing up today have no idea what it is like to live in a free country. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

I remember when America was a free country. You could get on an airliner without an ID. Driving licenses didn’t even have photos. If a friend was coming through your city on a flight and had a few hours layover, you could meet them inside the airport for lunch or dinner. You could meet friends, children, and relatives at the gate or see them off at the gate. Parents could actually put children on the plane and grandparents could take them off.

Your flight ticket was good at any airline. If something happened to your flight or you missed it, you could use the ticket on another airline going to the same place. On international flights you were permitted two free stopovers prior to your destination. If you were going to Athens, Greece, for example, you could first visit Paris and then Rome. It worked both ways, over and back. So one air ticket, six cities.

I can remember when you could enter a Manhattan office building without having to show an ID, be looked up on a list, and cleared in, and when you could check in a hotel without an ID and paid your bill when you checked out, with cash if you preferred. The only evidence of your name was the one you gave when you checked in.

Cars didn’t beep at you and neither did appliances nor construction machinery. The world was a quieter, less noise-disturbed place.

Common sense was more prevalent. Today it is hard to find any common sense. The British parliament is debating a law that would criminalize upskirt photographs. The “invasion of privacy” would have a price tag of two years imprisonment. Yet government can invade our privacy at will with street cameras, traffic cameras, read our emails, listen to our telephone calls, monitor our credit card purchases. Serious kinds of privacy invasion run amuck, but parents cannot find out if an underaged daughter is pregnant or has VD.

As kids we ran free. Heaven help a parent that permitted that today.
Oh, but times are more dangerous today we are told. What made today more dangerous? Failures in public policy. The government has made life more dangerous and less free.

To continue reading: I Remember When America Was A Free Country

The Racoons Have to Go, by Les P.

This is a pretty darn good explanation of Trump’s support. From Les P. at theburningplatform.com:

Like many citizens, I’ve wondered and tried hard to understand why Trump has such a remarkable following. (It’s obvious why he probably should not!) Then a friend sent me this raccoon story. It makes no difference about your political leanings, this is just a good explanation of WHY… (or it’s as good as any I can come up with).

If you really want to know how the majority of people feel? And this applies to both democrats and republicans, read below, it says it all.

You’ve been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons. Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement. You want them gone immediately. You call the city, 4 different exterminators, but nobody can handle the job. But there is this one guy and he guarantees you to get rid of them, so you hire him. You don’t care if the guy smells, you don’t care if the guy swears, you don’t care if he’s an alcoholic, you don’t care how many times he’s been married, you don’t care if he voted for Obama, you don’t care if he has a plumber’s crack, you simply want those raccoons gone! You want your problem fixed! He’s the guy. He’s the best. Period!

Here’s why we want Trump, yes he’s a bit of an ass, yes he’s an egomaniac, but we don’t care. The country is a mess because politicians suck, the Republicans and Democrats can be two-faced & gutless, and illegals are everywhere. We want it all fixed! We don’t care that Trump is crude, we don’t care that he insults people, we don’t care that he once was friendly with Hillary, we don’t care that he has changed positions, we don’t care that he’s been married 3 times, we don’t care that he fights with Megyn Kelly and Rosie O’Donnell, we don’t care that he doesn’t know the name of some Muslim terrorist.

This country is weak, bankrupt, our enemies are making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegals, we are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo, and Hasid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born and raised in; “AND WE JUST WANT IT FIXED” and Trump is the only guy who seems to understand what the people want.

To continue reading: The Racoons Have to Go

Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World, by Caitlin Johnstone

These tips will stand you in pretty good stead. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

In an environment that is saturated with mass media propaganda, it can be hard to figure out which way’s up, let alone get an accurate read on what’s going on in the world. Here are a few tips I’ve learned which have given me a lot of clarity in seeing through the haze of spin and confusion. Taken separately they don’t tell you a lot, but taken together they paint a very useful picture of the world and why it is the way it is.

1. It’s always ultimately about acquiring power.

In the quest to understand why governments move in such irrational ways, why expensive, senseless wars are fought while homeless people die of exposure on the streets, why millionaires and billionaires get richer and richer while everyone else struggles to pay rent, why we destroy the ecosystem we depend on for our survival, why one elected official tends to advance more or less the same harmful policies and agendas as his or her predecessor, people often come up with explanations which don’t really hold water.

The most common of these is probably the notion that all of these problems are due to the malignant influence of one of two mainstream political parties, and if the other party could just get in control of the situation all the problems would go away. Other explanations include the belief that humans are just intrinsically awful, blaming minorities like Jews or immigrants, blaming racism and white supremacy, or going all the way down wild and twisted rabbit holes into theories about reptilian secret societies and baby-eating pedophile cabals. But really all of mankind’s irrational behavior can be explained by the basic human impulse to amass power and influence over one’s fellow humans, combined with the fact that sociopaths tend to rise to positions of power.

Our evolutionary ancestors were pack animals, and the ability to rise in social standing in one’s pack determined crucial matters like whether one got first or last dibs on food or got to reproduce. This impulse to rise in our pack is hardwired deeply into our evolutionary heritage, but when left unchecked due to a lack of empathy, and when expanded into the globe-spanning 7.6 billion human pack we now find ourselves in due to ease of transportation and communication, it can lead to individuals who will keep amassing more and more power until they wield immense influence over entire clusters of nations.

To continue reading: Twelve Tips For Making Sense Of The World

Declining and Falling, by Robert Gore

Are we destined for the same fate as that other empire?

At the end of World War II, the US enjoyed geopolitical supremacy unmatched since the Roman empire. Friends and foes had been devastated by the war: millions dead, thousands of towns and cities destroyed, commercial and industrial infrastructure decimated. The only conflict on US soil was Pearl Harbor. Total war casualties were comparatively light. The US had the atomic bomb. American industry was intact, could quickly be retooled for production of civilian goods, and would face limited competition in global markets.

Power corrupts in direct relation to the degree of power; absolute power corrupts absolutely. That leaves only one direction for the occupant of a summit: down. That would be the proper starting point for some future Edward Gibbon, writing a magnum opus on the decline and fall of the American Empire.

The New Deal was a motley menagerie of ineffectual statist nostrums, cover for a naked power grab. The government took control of the economy, credit, the financial system, agriculture, industry, and a much larger share of the gross domestic product. Notwithstanding its unprecedented call on American incomes, it ran record deficits. Opposition was demonized, cowed, or persecuted. The judiciary was reconstituted as a rubber stamp and the Constitution stretched beyond recognition. The New Deal paved the way for further expansion of government control during World War II.

At war’s end, America’s rulers had no intention of relinquishing that control. Conveniently, the Soviet Union, wartime ally but postwar foe, developed its own atomic bomb in 1949. Now the US government had the excuse it needed—the Cold War—to justify global interventionism as “leader of the free world,” and the military and intelligence programs and budgets needed to sustain that role. Leaving office, Eisenhower issued his famous warning about the “military-industrial complex,” but by then it was too late. The establishment would maintain its empire by fair means or foul.

To its “free world” allies the US made an offer they couldn’t refuse. The US would provide their defense and pay the lion’s share of the costs. Trade access would be granted to the US market, often without reciprocal access to the foreign market. In return, the ally gave up its sovereignty, its ability to conduct an independent military or foreign policy. The dollar was the reserve currency, and trade in oil, the world’s most important commodity, was to be conducted in dollars. Countries which ran trade surpluses with the US were expected to recycle their excess dollars back into US government debt.

The velvet-glove treatment for its friends doesn’t hide the iron fist. The US has ways of dealing with regimes it doesn’t like, and enemies of the regimes it does. US military and intelligence traffic in regime change, revolutions, direct wars, proxy wars, repression, subversion, sabotage, subterfuge, and espionage against “hostile” regimes, while propping up dictatorships, euphemized as “authoritarian regimes,” that toe the US line. The US provides its allies with arms; intervenes in their wars; trains militaries, intelligence agencies, and secret police; doles out “development assistance,” financing, and bribes; rigs elections; propagandizes on their behalf, and goes to bat for them in international forums.

Corruption’s silver lining is that it carries the seeds of its own destruction. Unfortunately, demise always takes too long.

Money backed only by a promise―always broken―not to manufacture too much of it is corrupt by definition. In 1971, Richard Nixon removed the reserve from the reserve currency, “temporarily” suspending the dollar’s convertibility into gold (it has never been reinstated). The empire was free to flood the world with its flimsy fiat currency and fiat debt. Its vendors and creditors at home and abroad could accept the paper or pound sand.

Or they could start tightening their terms. It was a long time coming, but interest rates probably reached a generational low on July 6, 2016. Only the machinations of its captive central bank had kept rates trending downward for as long as they did. In a world carrying a record debt load, plus an unsustainable pile of pension and medical care promises, with virtually every income stream pledged and asset mortgaged, creditors call the tune on the availability and price of credit. The US empire will find its debt increasingly costly, central banks likely the main buyer.

That the world’s “best” military hasn’t won a war since World War II is an important clue about what wars have become. They’re another welfare state scam. Defense and intelligence contractors, their lobbyists, pro-intervention think tanks, corrupt foreign governments, and their lobbyists are gravy train gluttons plumping for never-ending war. Winning would be tragic.

Welfare corrupts the recipients and the government doling it out. Evidence of corruption is ubiquitous. Washington area incomes are the highest in the nation. Cities and infrastructure crumble. The $20 plus trillion national debt climbs relentlessly higher. Educational and medical systems are failing. Opioid abuse, obesity, and suicide skyrocket. Much of the Middle East and Northern Africa lie in smoldering ruins from US-sponsored wars. Millions have been wounded or killed. Many of the US soldiers who survived those wars are broken and bitter. As legendary political analyst Ringo Starr once observed, everything government gets its corrupt hands on turns to crap.

When an empire is bent on turning the whole world into crap, there’s bound to be pushback. Russia and China have long chafed under US unipolarity. They have, for the most part, sidestepped the US’s inane interventionism and quest for global dominance. In part to counter US hegemony, they are reaching agreements with myriad nations in trade, finance, infrastructure, economic development, and military security. Not surprisingly, much of the world is more receptive to that approach than bluster, bribes, bullets, and bombs.

US vassals Europe, South Korea, and Japan are questioning their vassalage. Why should a currency its issuer can create at will continue as the reserve currency? Are Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran actual military threats? If not, why go along with US sanctions and trade restrictions? Why not seek access to those markets, and to Russian and Chinese-led development efforts? Why should Europe bear the brunt of terrorist and refugee blowback from the US’s Middle East and Northern Africa fiascos? Why not question the arrangements that have been in place for decades, especially when America has a president who is questioning them from the American perspective? Do we vassals have the fortitude to fend for ourselves and thus reclaim our sovereignty?

Donald Trump deserves credit for asking questions from the American perspective. What has the US got from its interventionism other than stalemates, carnage, and trillions of dollars down the drain? If such adventures in imperialism make no sense, does empire itself make sense? Perhaps there are gains to be had by reaching out to our adversaries.

As for our friends, Trump upset apple carts at the G-7 imbroglio when he argued the one-sided trade access the US has granted as a requisite cost of empire no longer makes sense. It’s partially responsible for the trade deficit, the hollowing of American manufacturing, and a loss of jobs. The countries enjoying the benefits of the US military shield are wealthy and can afford conventional defenses, even if, as likely, they remain under the US nuclear umbrella.

The swamp’s most noxious denizens lurk in the empire’s military-industrial-intelligence backwater, swimming in their own excrement. Russiagate reveals the depths of their toxic and terminal corruption. The question is whether or not they’ll finish pulling the rest of the country into the sewage. Can America reject the filth and change course? The answer determines if America ever lives up to its founding promise, or if the present day is merely a middle chapter in The Decline and Fall of the American Empire.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

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Good Week for the Deep State, by Bill Bonner

Grease is the word, it’s what keeps the Deep State functioning. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

It’s been a good week for stocks… and a good week for the Deep State.

On Wall Street, it almost seemed like the good ol’ days, as the Dow rose to a seven-week high and inflation readings remained low.

Investors thought they saw more good things coming.

Deep State stocks were winners. Bank of America rose nearly $1.60 during the week, as of this morning. General Dynamics went up more than $6.50. Raytheon made a $10 gain.

Swamp Deals

Up on the Hill, meanwhile, Gina Haspel managed to dodge questions about her role in torture and the destruction of evidence.

In a better world, she would probably be swinging from a scaffold with a noose around her neck, not looking forward to a cushy job as CIA director.

But she is being promoted for her loyalty, her long service… and the fact that she seems ready to do just about anything without asking questions.

In Iran, Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu and American billionaire Sheldon Adelson managed to turn up the dial on tension in the Middle East by getting The Donald to nix the Iranian nuclear deal. It was fairly easy; after all, Adelson was one of Trump’s major campaign donors.

We saw how the swamp works yesterday. You want influence; you pay for it.

Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney put it to the American Bankers Association straight:

We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.

Naked Deep State

So now we see how a low-life lawyer like Michael Cohen brought in $4.4 million in consulting fees since Donald Trump was elected: He offered to fix things with his boss.

And we see Iran’s big mistake: It didn’t hire the best lobbyists… and didn’t contribute to The Donald’s campaign. If it had slipped a billion or so in Michael Cohen’s pocket, maybe the president would have declared Israel a rogue state!

But let us pull back the covers to take a gander at the naked Deep State itself.

 

To continue reading: Good Week for the Deep State