Tag Archives: Corruption

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

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