Thursday, January 21, 2016

OBAMA TO FLINT: FUCK THESE BELLY ACHERS! I HAVE TO TEND TO MY WALL STREET CRONIES! - Escalating Michigan crisis overwhelms Obama’s visit to Detroit

Escalating Michigan crisis overwhelms Obama’s visit to Detroit

OBAMA TO FLINT: "Let the pathetic fuckers eat cake!"

Escalating Michigan crisis overwhelms Obama’s visit to Detroit

By Andre Damon
21 January 2016
President Barack Obama arrived in Detroit, Michigan Wednesday amid an intensifying political crisis and escalating working class protests.
Governor Rick Snyder desperately sought to fend off demands for his resignation amid a growing body of evidence that a generation of youth in the city of Flint were irrevocably poisoned by lead and will suffer lifelong consequences.
At least ten people have died and thousands more have suffered permanent damage to their health in connection with the deliberate and criminal policies carried out by the state, federal and local governments in Flint.
Snyder’s State of the State address on Tuesday, which was met with protests by hundreds of workers and young people, only fueled popular anger against his administration. The next day, highly redacted emails released by the state government showed that the Snyder administration had sought to downplay and trivialize complaints from Flint residents that people were being sickened by tainted water in the city.
Snyder’s hand-picked emergency manager for Flint had, in 2014, ordered that the city’s water supply be switched from the Detroit system and drawn instead from the notoriously polluted Flint River, in order to cut costs.
Obama landed in Detroit in the midst of the widening Flint protests as well as ongoing protests by Detroit teachers against intolerable conditions in that city’s public schools. Sick-outs and demonstrations organized by rank-and-file teachers in defiance of both the city administration and the Detroit Federation of Teachers union, which had begun last week, shut down the majority of public schools on Wednesday.
Protesting teachers described freezing cold schools covered in mold, with gaping holes in the floors that posed a hazard to the children.
In the face of this growing crisis, which some have compared to Hurricane Katrina, the president delivered a bizarre speech in which, appearing to have lost touch with reality, he boasted that “all kinds of good things are happening.”
Obama’s audience at a joint United Auto Workers-General Motors facility in downtown Detroit, consisting of toadies and functionaries from among the local Democratic Party and trade union officialdom, including the president’s “good friend” UAW head Dennis Williams, cheered at every banality he uttered.
Obama had planned his trip to Detroit, timed to coincide with the Detroit auto show, as a victory lap after last week’s State of the Union address, in which he hailed the resurgence (i.e., profit surge) of the US auto industry and the “success” of the economic turnaround supposedly engineered by his administration. He managed to surpass the phony optimism of that speech in his remarks in Detroit, which were even more banal and delusional.

Even as most TV news networks preempted his speech to report that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped 566 points in intraday trading, Obama declared, “The United States of America right now has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.”

“You can feel something special happening in Detroit," Obama continued. “Today you've got buses that are running again. Streets that are well lit again. New homes and businesses getting built.”
Just a few miles from where Obama was speaking, over a hundred Detroit teachers protested the destruction of public education in the city, with some calling for “class struggle” and “revolution.” State officials filed a request for a court injunction Wednesday seeking to compel the teachers to return to work.

While Obama did not mention the continuing sick-out protests, he did make a perfunctory comment on the Flint crisis, saying, “I am very proud of what I've done in Michigan... but I know that if I were a parent I would be beside myself.”

Obama, whose Environmental Protection Agency knew about the water disaster for months without doing anything to inform city residents, bears as much responsibility as the Snyder administration for the disastrous conditions that exist in Detroit and Flint.

Immediately upon taking office, Obama moved to continue and extend the Bush administration’s bank bailouts, which provided trillions of dollars in free cash to banks and major corporations, even as he made clear that there would be no federal bailouts for states and municipalities facing funding crises. That was tantamount to an injunction to state and local governments to carry out sweeping cuts in social services and infrastructure spending. What followed were hundreds of school closures and hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs across the country, along with brutal cuts in the wages, pensions and health benefits of public employees.


In 2009, Obama made a 50 percent wage cut for all newly hired autoworkers as well as benefit cuts for retirees a prerequisite for providing federal aid to GM and Chrysler, contributing to a dramatic reduction in workers' living standards in states such as Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Obama supported the 2013 declaration of bankruptcy for Detroit and the plan enacted by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr in 2014 to exit bankruptcy by slashing the pensions and health benefits of city workers and retirees, selling off city assets to speculators at a fraction of their real value, privatizing the city lighting system, and moving to hive off the city’s water and sewerage department and set up a new regional water authority. The latter measure was the direct precursor to the decision by Flint’s emergency manager—presently the emergency manager of the Detroit public school system—to begin using water from the toxic Flint River.

The only truth in Obama’s Detroit speech, although unwitting, was his statement, “What’s true of Detroit is true of the country.” It is a fact that the “blessings” his administration has bestowed on the people of the United States are best exemplified by the conditions in southeastern Michigan.
Detroit and Flint are testaments to the failure of American capitalism and the criminality of its ruling elite.

If reports of an imminent indictment for Hillary Clinton are true – that is, if we’re not being played by the administration – then Democrats must be immersed in intense, behind-the-scenes maneuvering to avert a disaster or mitigate...

"In this regard, D’Souza explores the connection between mafia-friendly con-man, Saul Alinsky, who died living the Goodfellas dream life in Carmel, California, and his two most famous pupils, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  The author also investigates the emotional tie between the President and his father -- a consummate con-artist and polygamist.  Instead of focusing on “anti-colonialism,” as in prior paternal analyses, D’Souza now emphasizes outright criminality and skillful lying, traits that connect the failed elder Obama to his wildly successful offspring who, in true Chicago style, perpetrates his cons inside the system.  (E.g. If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.)"

Will Obama pardon Hillary?

If reports of an imminent indictment for Hillary Clinton are true – that is, if we’re not being played by the administration – then Democrats must be immersed in intense, behind-the-scenes maneuvering to avert a disaster or mitigate the fallout.  That surely involves the White House, which may well have the final say on Hillary’s future.  Depending on the extent of the evidence, the administration might be unable to quash an indictment outright without threatening another Saturday Night Massacre, but it might be able to navigate a lesser charge.  With an assist from the president, that could conceivably make an indictment politically survivable.

Obama is already on record in a 60 Minutes interview in October stating that he didn’t believe Clinton’s use of a private email server, though a “mistake,” endangered national security.  “I don’t think it posed a national security problem,” he told Steve Kroft.  “I do think that the way it’s been ginned up is in part because of – in part – because of politics.”

If he feels that way after an indictment, and the indictment is only for email offenses, Obama could pardon Clinton from further prosecution, much as President Clinton pardoned the indicted financier Marc Rich 20 years ago.  He could claim that a pardon was crucial to preserve the election process and therefore necessary for the good of the country.

The political backlash would be tremendous, but that has never bothered the Obama administration.  Its political backlashes never incite media interest for long, and Democrats in general – and Obama and Clinton in particular – write off all criticism as partisan and groundless.  The base might even become energized in support of its beleaguered candidate.  Soon we’d be hearing that it’s time to move on, that the matter had been dealt with and was “in the past.”  Given the Republican reluctance to press the attack against Democrats in national elections – witness McCain and Romney – that might be the end of the scandal.

However, if the indictment were for corruption and not just for email misuse, a pardon becomes problematic and Clinton’s continued political viability much less likely.  Withdrawal still wouldn’t be automatic, not for a Clinton, but the party bosses might mobilize against her, believing her vulnerability too much of a risk.  That could depend on how late in the election cycle an indictment comes.

We were told last week, through an interview with former U.S. attorney Joseph DiGenova and a report on Fox News, that the FBI was widening its investigation to include corruption and possibly other charges.  We are also being assured that the FBI and its director James Comey, an Obama appointee, are impartial and independent.
But could these leaks be setting the stage for a complete exoneration of Clinton?  She could claim, as she already has, that she only made a mistake with the email handling, one that she regrets, and that now the FBI has cleared her of other charges after an exhaustive investigation.  At that point, a pardon cleanses her résumé.

What effect the outcome of this investigation, let alone a pardon, will have on the public’s trust and faith in America’s justice system is another matter.  For that reason alone, this probe – the latest of many in the careers of the Clintons – will be one of the most politically significant investigations in the history of the republic.  How politicized has our government become?  Is justice still blind?  We’re about to find out.

Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party

Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party, by Dinesh D’Souza, Broadside Books, HarperCollins Publishers, November, 2015 (336 pages, $29.99, Hardback)

A liberal who’s been mugged, it’s said, becomes a conservative.  But what does a conservative become when he’s mugged by a corrupt, politically driven justice system?  Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, Stealing America: What My Experience with Criminal Gangs Taught Me About Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party answers that question.  D’Souza now views the Progressive movement as a criminal enterprise designed to pull off the biggest heist in world history -- effective control of the enormous wealth created by America’s entrepreneurs.  This bounty, the author argues, was made possible by the country’s embrace of a capitalist system that rewards industry and customer-centered innovation and discourages the hitherto ubiquitous ethic of theft.  Democrats, however, through a reversal of traditional American values, seek to acquire power by vilifying wealth-creators and rewarding “victims” with trickle-down shares of the national loot -- all while portraying themselves as righteous advocates of social justice.  

D’Souza’s book begins by discussing aspects of his prosecution for illegally contributing $20,000 to a friend running for a Senate seat in New York State.  Of his case Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz commented, “What you did is very commonly done in politics, and on a much bigger scale.  Have no doubt about it, they are targeting you for your views.”  Dershowitz’s opinion coincided with D’Souza’s own -- namely, that his politics and especially the negative portrait of Obama in his 2016 documentary had ticked off the protagonist-in-chief himself.  Clinton-appointed judge Richard Berman, however, denied D’Souza access to papers that could prove selective prosecution, arguing in Alice in Wonderland fashion that only evidence of selective prosecution could justify access to papers that would provide such evidence. 

Thanks in part to his lawyer, liberal Democrat Ben Brafman, D’Souza was able to avoid the prosecution’s desired prison stint of ten to sixteen months -- an outrageous punishment since, in the defendant’s words, “no person who had done what I did had even been prosecuted, let alone sentenced.”  Instead, D’Souza’s sentence consisted of 8 months of overnight confinement in a halfway house, community service, psychological counseling, a $30,000 fine, and five years probation.  By contrast, consider Democrat fundraiser Sant Singh Chatwal, who clearly tried to buy influence, instructed a government witness to lie under oath, and made “more than $180,000 in straw donations to several Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton.”  For these far more egregious offenses “Chatwal received a fine, community service, and three years probation.  No prison time, no confinement.”

During his eight months of overnight confinement with “more than a hundred rapists, armed robbers, drug smugglers, and murderers,” D’Souza began to see prisoners and a flawed justice system in a different light.  He also began to understand “the psychology of crookedness” -- a “system of larceny, corruption, and terror” that’s “been adopted and perfected by modern progressivism and the Democratic Party.” 

Instead of accusing Progressives of ignorance or naiveté, as most conservatives do, D’Souza focuses on corrupt motives that can be boiled down, a la Nietzsche, to envy and the will to power.  The con-man pitch in this case is the cultivation of envy, justifying theft by accusing wealth-creators of unfairly exploiting workers or consumers and making themselves (i.e. Democrats) the arbiters of redistribution.  In this regard, D’Souza explores the connection between mafia-friendly con-man, Saul Alinsky, who died living the Goodfellas dream life in Carmel, California, and his two most famous pupils, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  The author also investigates the emotional tie between the President and his father -- a consummate con-artist and polygamist.  Instead of focusing on “anti-colonialism,” as in prior paternal analyses, D’Souza now emphasizes outright criminality and skillful lying, traits that connect the failed elder Obama to his wildly successful offspring who, in true Chicago style, perpetrates his cons inside the system.  (E.g. If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.)

To carry out their grand political heist, Democrats must marshal the emotions and votes of an army of envious underlings -- stoking resentment among minorities, women, the poor, immigrants, gays, and other potential victim groups.  In addition, this gigantic con requires intellectual support supplied in spades by academics like John Rawls who employ their philosophical sleight-of-hand to plausibly transfer money and goods from their creators to others -- all for the greater good and, of course, via the state.  Cultural indoctrination in the unfair-society pitch of progressive politicians is accomplished by inundating Americans with television programs, news stories, and Hollywood films that feature crooked businessmen, victimized minorities, oppressed workers, heartless millionaires, and hypocritical ministers.  These professional propagandists promulgate their ideas out of envy, seeing themselves as members of the rightful ruling class based on their superior intellects and abilities.  This same exalted self-image applies to educators who chafe over not being recognized and rewarded by their society any better than the average plumber. 

D’Souza ends his book with suggestions for exposing and defeating the progressive con -- a task that requires courage, confrontation, and inroads into the near monopoly progressives enjoy in academics, journalism, and the entertainment industry.  Stealing America is also filled with raw conversations between D’Souza and fellow inmates -- exchanges that provide significant insight into the world these criminals and their hapless government overseers inhabit.

At the very least D’Souza’s experience with the legal system provides one excellent example of the overlap between the “psychology of crookedness” and the motives and methods of progressive politics.  His poignant analyses of the Clintons, the two Obamas, and Saul Alinsky, however, provide considerably more fodder for an audacious thesis.       

Richard Kirk is a freelance writer living in Southern California. Opinion columnist for the North County Times (1996-2012); online reviewsblog

Hillary’s long goodbye

I must be an awful human being, because I am reveling in the déjà vu Hillary Clinton must be experiencing, as her presidential campaign appears to be heading toward collapse.  And this time, the humiliation – and peril – is far greater than anything 2008 dealt her.  To state the obvious, her longstanding preference for pantsuits is one thing, but the orange jumpsuits of a federal penitentiary are quite something else.

I realize I am getting way ahead of myself here, that predictions are always risky – especially about the future, as Yogi Berra reminded us.  We don’t yet know if there will be a criminal referral from the FBI, though the D.C. rumor mill is operating at full steam, averring that 50 more FBI special agents have been added to the case, making the total team well into triple digits.  That the FBI would devote that level of resources to the case suggests that they are tying up any possible loose ends, to have an airtight cases presented to Loretta Lynch.  (More on this later.)

Potential legal peril aside for the moment, the humiliations she faces are daunting for a woman of her arrogance.  Her husband’s penchant for illicit sex with women far younger and more attractive is once again being thrown in her face, and this time the trusty old injured wife gambit not only doesn’t work, but is being used against her, painting her as an enabler of a sexual abuser.

Back in the impeachment days, she could count on the mainstream media to keep a lid on negative information and portray her husband’s accusers and investigators as a bunch of sex-obsessed prudes.  Not only have the internet and cable news forever destroyed the cofferdam around embarrassing news these days, but substantial chunks of the mainstream media no longer see themselves as guardians of the Clinton empire.  For one thing, a Democrat president is not being threatened with removal from office.  For another, she is not the only game in town.  Just as in 2008 they could abandon her for a younger member of a minority, one who was a far more skillful campaigner, now they have the elderly Bernie Sanders carrying the actual torch of socialism, and drawing enthusiastic crowds.

And then there is the small matter of all the knives in the hands of members of her own party that have been sheathed all these decades since she and Bill first entered the White House as tenants.  She has made a lot of enemies over the years, snubbing some, ignoring others, and behaving with the arrogance and self-centeredness that has been a visible part of her character ever since she entered pubic life.  There is a struggle underway for the future of the Democratic Party between the Obama faction and the Clinton faction.  When she appeared inevitable, an uneasy truce prevailed.  But if she may be tied up with a criminal defense case, that would solve a lot of problems for the Obama-ites.

That is something to ponder as we await a possible criminal referral to the Department of Justice and A.G. Lynch’s response.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden very publicly “regrets every day” his decision not to run for president.

If, as speculated, Elizabeth Warren were to align herself with a Biden candidacy, perhaps as the veep nominee, it would palliate the socialist Sanders supporters.

The old certitudes about the Clintons have crumbled.  Bill no longer is a vibrant, likable, vigorous exponent of hope; he is instead a hollow shell, a creepy degenerate who reminds us of our own mortality after heart bypass operations and drastic weight loss.

I am convinced that the greatest prize of all for Hillary was not Air Force One or the other perks; it was going to be the ability to put Bill in his place.  After Hillarycare crashed and burned, she was removed from the co-presidency she believed she had won, fair and square.  And it had to rankle.  There must have been a moment when he reminded her that his name, and his name alone, appeared on the ballot, and that his decision was final.

Oh, how she must have looked forward to pulling rank on the first gentleman!

That dream is slowly crashing and burning.  Even without a criminal referral or indictment, Hillary’s chances are fading fast.  Sanders looks as though he may sweep Iowa and New Hampshire.  Once that happens, it is 2008 all over again.  The Democrat establishment may not want Sanders on the ticket, but they are fully capable of drafting Biden, Warren, Booker, or another Dem, and then changing the convention rules to nominate whomever they want.  But I doubt that will be necessary.  The gears of the FBI are turning faster and faster.  Policy requires that if a politician be accused of wrongdoing, it be done as long before an election as possible.

Time is not on Hillary’s side.

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Wave of selling hits US markets

Wave of selling hits US markets

By Nick Beams
14 January 2016
US stocks markets tumbled Wednesday as oil prices continued to fall and voices in the finance industry, together with economic commentators, warned of the potential for a major crisis.

The sell-off was across the board, the Dow falling by 365 points, 2.21 percent, the S&P 500 by 2.50 percent and the Nasdaq down by 3.4 percent. The day opened with an uptick but large-volume selling soon set in, the prevailing sentiment being that it was necessary to get out without waiting to see what would happen during the rest of the day.

Commentators said the sell-off was not just about oil, which has been touching levels as low as $30 per barrel, but the fall in prices for all industrial raw materials induced by the slowdown in China.
The sharp downturn has come in the wake of a series of assessments by banking officials that the conditions for a new financial crisis are fast developing.

On Tuesday economists at the Royal Bank of Scotland issued an assessment that said investors faced a “cataclysmic year” in which stocks could fall by 20 percent and oil could go as low as $16 per barrel.

In a note to clients, the RBS said: “Sell everything except high quality bonds. This is about return of capital, not return on capital. In a crowded hall, exit doors are small.” It warned that the present situation recalled 2008 when the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a global crisis. This time the trigger could be China.

The bank’s credit chief Andrew Roberts said China had set off a “major correction and it is going to snowball” with equities and credit becoming “very dangerous.” He warned that the London market was particularly vulnerable to a negative shock because of the large number of commodity companies in the UK. The prices of all industrial raw materials, not just oil, are moving sharply down, reaching lows not seen since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis.

“All those people who are long [buyers of] oil and mining companies thinking that the dividends are safe are going to discover than they’re not at all safe,” Roberts said.

RBS’s prediction of a sharply lower oil price was matched by Morgan Stanley which said it could go to $20 per barrel. Standard Charter forecast an even bigger fall, to $10. “Given that no fundamental relationship is driving the oil market toward any equilibrium, prices are being moved almost entirely by financial flows caused by fluctuations in other asset prices, including the US dollar and equity markets. We think prices could fall as low as $10 per barrel.”

The Standard Chartered analysis points to the development of a vicious circle: a falling oil price sends down equity markets and then financial flow-on effects from the decline in stock prices lead to a further drop in the price of oil.

Following the RBS call to “sell everything,” the Guardian sought responses from a series of economists. While none went as far as the RBS, there was a distinct lack of confidence in their replies.

Erik Britton, director of Fathom Consulting, did not dispute that China would have a “hard landing.” He said it was headed for just 2 percent growth in gross domestic product, markedly less than the official government prediction of 6.5 percent for this year.

Jonathan Porter, the director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, said he was “worried” by current events “but not yet panicked.”

“But if the current concerns turn into a systematic meltdown on financial markets, then all bets are off,” he added.

Chris Williamson, the chief economist at the financial data provider Markit, said the worry was that the RBS warning could become a self-fulfilling prophecy and if a financial market rout led to a new recession, “policymakers are seriously lacking in tools to fight the new downturn.”

The RBS assessment was echoed by comments on Wednesday from Albert Edwards, strategist at the Societe Generale bank, who has long held the belief that equity markets are considerably over-valued. He said the West was about to be hit by a wave of deflation from emerging market economies and central banks were not aware of what was about to hit them.

He told an investment conference in London that developments in the global economy would “push the US back into recession. The financial crisis will reawaken. It will be every bit as bad as in 2008–09 and it will turn very ugly indeed.”

The US economy was in much worse shape than the Fed realised, with the US corporate sector being “crushed” by the appreciation in the value of the dollar. “We have seen massive credit expansion in the US. This is not for real economic activity; it is borrowing to finance share buybacks,” he said.
In an assessment of the significance of the fall in the markets, which in the US have experienced their worst new year opening in history, an article in the Financial Times on Monday pointed to longer-term trends. In the wake of the financial crisis, “aggressive easing” by the Fed and other central banks, coupled with a “mammoth spending binge” by China, had suppressed market volatility for an extended period and created a tide that lifted global assets prices.

“Now that liquidity is draining away and the bill for China’s spending—in the shape of overcapacity in some industries and high levels of indebtedness—is coming due,” the article noted.

“The worrying signal from the current turmoil is that the investor herd truly has become fearful and thinks the financial system is broken. Namely, that quantitative easing has merely papered over the cracks of global economic imbalances, borrowed hefty investment gains from the future and left taxpayers and company bondholders with a massive rise in outstanding debt.”

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde also pointed to longer-term trends in a speech delivered in Paris on Tuesday. She said emerging market economies were facing a “new reality” in which their growth rates would be significantly slowed.

“Growth rates are down, and cyclical and structural forces have undermined the traditional growth paradigm,” she said.

That paradigm was based on boosting exports and attracting capital inflows. On current forecasts, she said emerging economies would move towards advanced economy incomes at less than two-thirds the pace predicted by the IMF a decade ago. “This is cause for concern,” she said.

The World Bank last week warned that these economies faced difficulties in 2016 after growing last year at their slowest pace since the financial crisis of 2008.

Lagarde said the shift by the Fed towards ending its easy monetary policies, together with the continuation of these policies by other central banks, had the potential to trigger exchange rate ructions.

“This volatility could be induced not only by the divergence in monetary policies in major advanced economies, but also by uncertainty about their overall prospects and policy action.”
In an indication of the deepening recessionary trends in the global economy, she noted that oil and metal prices were down by two-thirds from their peak and were likely “to stay low for a sustained period,” placing several developing economies “under severe stress.”
That stress is already in evidence with major economic contractions in Brazil and Russia, but it is not confined there. The economic outlook for two developed commodity-exporting countries, Australia and Canada, is also worsening.
Former US treasury secretary Lawrence Summers added his voice to those warning about the state of the global economy in a comment published in the Financial Times on Monday. He said that while markets do sometimes send out false alarms, economic and financial authorities should take notice because “the conventional wisdom never recognises gathering storms.”
“Because of China’s scale, its potential volatility and the limited room for conventional monetary manoeuvres, the global risk to domestic economic performance in the US, Europe and many emerging markets is as great as at any time I can remember,” he wrote.
It is impossible to predict exactly how the present turmoil will play out. But two certainties have been established.
Firstly, that the 2008 financial crisis was only the beginning of a breakdown of the global capitalist economy, for which the ruling elites have no economic solution. In fact, their actions have only created further wealth for the ultra-rich, increasing social inequality, while setting up the conditions for another financial meltdown.
And finally, that the renewed turbulence is going to produce even deeper attacks on the working class which, on top on those already being implemented, will bring an upsurge in social and political struggles.

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