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Tag Archives: Corruption

Afghanistan, the Longest War in American History, by Doug Bandow

Afghanistan is not only the longest war in American history, it may be the most senseless. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:

A Marine says goodbye to 1st Lt. Scott J. Fleming during his memorial service at Patrol Base Jaker, Afghanistan, Sept. 25, 2010.  Official U.S. Marine Corps photo/Sgt. Mark Fayloga

When President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing troops from Syria, shock and hysteria filled Washington. The screaming grew louder when it was reported that the president also intended to remove half of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with the rest likely to come home at the end of 2019.

Afghanistan is the longest war in American history, outlasting the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War combined. U.S. soldiers will soon be deploying to a war that started before they were born. Today the Taliban is advancing while the Kabul government is in disarray. Few believe that the latter, irrespective of who is president, can survive absent Washington’s support.

Both President Barack Obama’s and President Trump’s Afghan strategy appeared designed to push the inevitable collapse onto a future administration. Never mind that Americans still die in Afghanistan. No official wants to be the one to declare that thousands of lives and billions of dollars to have been wasted.

Yet going into his presidency Trump stated: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan.” However, he surrounded himself with conventional thinkers as national security advisers, unwilling to admit the obvious. Then he allowed himself to be talked into temporarily increasing U.S. force levels.

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The Pentagon Fails Audit – $21 Trillion in Transactions Could Not Be Traced, Documented, or Explained, by Michael Krieger

What do you do with a department that can’t account for $21 trillion it spent? Increase its budget, of course, which is exactly what President Trump and Congress did this past year. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

WAR is a racket. It always has been.

It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.

A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.

– From Major General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket

The following story’s been on my radar for a while, but it wasn’t until I read the fictional-sounding article published in The Nation yesterday that I finally turned my focus on the issue.

To give you a sense of what’s going on when it comes to the unimaginable levels of waste, secrecy and probable fraud occurring at the U.S. Department of Defense, check out the first couple of paragraphs from this must read article:

On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government’s largest single cost center—the Pentagon receives two of every three federal tax dollars collected—after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tried to put the best face on things, telling reporters, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.” Shanahan suggested that the DoD should get credit for attempting an audit, saying, “It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial.” The truth, though, is that the DoD was dragged kicking and screaming to this audit by bipartisan frustration in Congress, and the result, had this been a major corporation, likely would have been a crashed stock.

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Thoughts On Sportsball, by the Zman

Widespread college basketball corruption is an open secret, but an FBI investigation garners only three convictions. Why? From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

The Federal government won convictions on three of its cases against the sneaker pimps working behalf of the apparel company Adidas. The case is a strange one in that the FBI invested a lot of time into surveying and wiretapping some famous basketball coaches, as well as some senior company executives. Yet, they have narrowed their focus to some small fish and two executives. It’s one of those cases that probably reveals things about our age for what is not happening, than for what is actually happening in the courtroom.

For those unfamiliar with American college basketball, here’s some background.

Men’s college basketball is probably the most corrupt sport in America. It used to be that boxing was the dirtiest sport, but interest in it has collapsed to the point where it is probably no longer worth the trouble for the criminally inclined. Basketball, on the other hand, is a big money sport with lots of public interest. Like boxing, the talent tends to be unsophisticated and dull-witted, so they are easy to corrupt. There’s also a culture in the sport that tolerates hustlers and conmen. In fact, they are often celebrated.

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With corruption like this, it’s no wonder so many pension funds are insolvent, by Simon Black

Big pots of money and government attract bad people like shit attract flies. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Last week, the head of a New York state pension fund found herself a new job.

Vicki Fuller, the former head of New York’s $209 billion fund, now earns $275,000 per year working part time for a natural gas group called The Williams Companies– good work if you can get it.

It’s noteworthy that when Ms. Fuller ran her state pension fund, she invested $110 million of taxpayer money to buy bonds issued by none other than The Williams Companies.

Bear in mind that Moody’s, the credit rating agency, downgraded Williams’ financial outlook to “negative” because of the company’s high leverage and risk.

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The Living Reality of Military-Economic Fascism, by Robert Higgs

An in-depth study of the military-industrial racket by Robert Higgs at mises.org:

“The business of buying weapons that takes place in the Pentagon is a corrupt business — ethically and morally corrupt from top to bottom. The process is dominated by advocacy, with few, if any, checks and balances. Most people in power like this system of doing business and do not want it changed.” – Colonel James G. Burton (1993, 232)

In countries such as the United States, whose economies are commonly, though inaccurately, described as “capitalist” or “free-market,” war and preparation for war systematically corrupt both parties to the state-private transactions by which the government obtains the bulk of its military goods and services.

On one side, business interests seek to bend the state’s decisions in their favor by corrupting official decision-makers with outright and de facto bribes. The former include cash, gifts in kind, loans, entertainment, transportation, lodging, prostitutes’ services, inside information about personal investment opportunities, overly generous speaking fees, and promises of future employment or “consulting” patronage for officials or their family members, whereas the latter include campaign contributions (sometimes legal, sometimes illegal), sponsorship of political fund-raising events, and donations to charities or other causes favored by the relevant government officials.

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In Socialist Venezuela the Poor Starve to Death While the Politically Powerful Feast, by Tho Bishop

Every time socialism fails, it’s proponents claim that it wasn’t “really” socialism. Now it’s failing again, this time in Venezuela, and it won’t be long before we’ll learn that it wasn’t socialism, although Maduro and Chavez before him both claimed to be socialists. From Tho Bishop at mises.org:

The socialist policies of the Venezuela government continue to impose a living hell on its people. Hyperinflation has turned its currency to literal garbage. Mortality rates have skyrocketed for groups such as infants, pregnant mothers, and the elderly as clinics have shut down and medicine grown scarce. Food has disappeared from store shelves forcing the population to consume pets and zoo animals. A recent poll found that 78% of Venezuelans “reported trouble keeping themselves fed.”

Of course, this is not true for all Venezuelans.

Earlier this week President Nicolas Maduro was seen in a plush Istanbul restaurant lavishly dining on expensive steaks while smoking fine cigars, the check paid for by the wealth his regime has drained from his people. Once again we see that under socialism “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Continue reading

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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