Not much has come out of the James Comey testimony, except that the most egregious violation of federal law was the incident which took place between Comey and Loretta Lynch regarding Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Now, top Democrat Diane Feinstein is calling for an investigation into possible illegal activities. It’s actually a little surprising that this investigation demand is coming from a Democrat. Normally, the party members tow the line and balk those who look at corruption by their own. The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee called for a congressional investigation into former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe on Sunday. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) said she’s concerned by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony Thursday that Lynch asked him to downplay his ‘investigation’ into the Democratic presidential nominee as merely a ‘matter.’
This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Confounded Interest. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission. Bloomberg has nice piece on the battle between JPMorganChase’s Jamie Dimon and the Minneapolis Fed’s Neel Kashkari. (Bloomberg) Jamie Dimon is America’s most famous banker, and Neel Kashkari is its most outspoken bank regulator, so it’s not a shock that they would eventually come to blows. What’s interesting is that their contretemps is over an acronym that most Americans have never heard of, but one that may be central to preventing another recession. TLAC, which is pronounced TEE-lack, is something you need to know about if you want to judge the sparring between Dimon, the well-coiffed chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Kashkari, the very bald man who ran for governor of California on the Republican ticket and is now president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. On April 6, Kashkari went after Dimon in a way that circumspect central bankers ordinarily don’t. In an essay published on Medium and republished on the Minneapolis Fed website, he challenged Dimon’s assertion in his annual letter to shareholders that 1) there’s no longer a risk that taxpayers will be stuck with the bill if a big bank fails, and 2) banks have too much capital (meaning an unnecessarily thick safety cushion). Wrote Kashkari: ‘Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.’
Dijsselbloem’s comments regarding the Southern Europe reflect the political bias – not the general public at large within Europe. There are different cultures throughout Europe. In some places people will not cross the street until a light changes even if there are no cars. Other parts are like New York, lights are optional. There are many cultural differences in general between north and south, but even more between members. Even in Germany there is a divide between north and south. The blame does NOT lie in cultural differences, corruption, or even easier spending in the south and excessive pensions as in Greece. The problem that has pushed Europe to the brink is: (1) this failed idea that ending European War can be achieved by federalizing Europe. That will not change the cultural differences. Even in the United States, there are cultural differences between the Bible Belt (anti-Abortion & anti-Gay Marriage) compared to California or New York. It is the Federalization of the United States and the attempt to impose one culture upon the whole every since the Great Depression that is causing tensions within the United States. The same is TRUE within Europe.
I focus most of my ire on the federal government because bad policy from Washington is the biggest threat to our nation’s freedom and prosperity. But we also get plenty of bad policy from other levels of government. I periodically focus on the foibles of states such as California, Illinois, and New York. Today, though, let’s contemplate the inane policies of local government. I’ve shared plenty of examples in the post, even to the point of putting together two contests (here and here) to pick the craziest action by a local government. Politicians and bureaucrats in cities and towns do lots of big things that are bad, such as creating massive unfunded liabilities, providing crappy schools, turning law enforcement into back-door tax collectors, and trying to turn children into wusses. And they do lots of small things that are bad, such as shutting down children’s lemonade stands, arresting people for saving rafters from drowning, fining people for rescuing children from savage dog attacks, leaving a dead body in a pool for two days, requiring permits to be a bum, poisoning water supplies, and paying bureaucrats not to work for 12 years. Let’s augment these lists. As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, here’s an example of Chicago cronyism.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 5, 2017.
Blind to Crony Socialism Whenever a failed CEO is fired with a cushy payoff, the outrage is swift and voluminous. The liberal press usually misrepresents this as a hypocritical ‘jobs for the boys’ program within the capitalist class. In reality, the payoffs are almost always contractual obligations, often for deferred compensation, that the companies vigorously try to avoid. Believe me. I’ve been on both sides of this kind of dispute (except, of course, for the ‘failed’ bit). People are usually struck by the seeming injustice of CEOs running companies into the ground and then getting paid obscene amounts in the form of ‘golden parachute’ type good-bye presents. Often there is no other way to get rid of a bad CEO though – if his or her employment contract guarantees a large termination benefit, the company may have little choice in the matter. As a rule, private shareholders are bearing the cost of such transactions, and they are in this position voluntarily (after all, they could sell their shares or vote against generous CEO payment packages at shareholder meetings). We realize of course that in the age of crony socialism, one usually has to judge such things carefully on a case by case basis. Still, it is a far cry from the misuse of taxpayer funds, which are appropriated by coercion and offer those bearing the costs no opportunity to ‘opt out’. So where’s the liberal outrage with a story like the pension swindle in El Monte, California? This is about a dying town, with a per capita income of $10,316 and a quarter of its population below the poverty line, that is paying a pension to one of its retired (at the age of 58) city managers of more than $250,000 per year. Adjusted for inflation. With medical for him and his wife. And survivorship benefits. And to which he contributed nothing. Or another retired city manager who collects $216,000 per year, allowing him to ‘take some things off his bucket list’ such as golfing at the Old Course at St Andrews. And it looks like the public is paying for more than just green fees. His retirement came shortly after he was swept up in an anti-prostitution sting operation.
This post was published at Acting-Man on January 12, 2017.
San Diego, CA – Long-simmering social tensions in Mexico are threatening to boil over as failing neoliberal reforms to the country’s formerly nationalized gas sector are compounded by open corruption, stagnant standards of living, and rampant inflation. The U. S. media has remained mostly mute on the situation in Mexico, even as the unfolding civil unrest has closed the U. S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, several times in the past week. Ongoing ‘gasolinazo’ protests in Mexico over a 20 percent rise is gas prices have led to over 400 arrests, 250 looted stores, and six deaths. Roads are being blockaded, borders closed, and government buildings are being sacked. Protests have remained relatively peaceful overall, except for several isolated violent acts, which activists have blamed on government infiltrators. The few mainstream news reports that have covered the situation blame rising gas prices but fail to examine several other factors that are pushing Mexico to the brink of revolution.
El Monte, California is a city of roughly 100,000 residents in East Los Angeles, many of whom struggle to make ends meet with a median household income of ~$39,000 and nearly 25% of people living below the poverty line. But while most of the people of El Monte struggle to meet monthly expenses, the city’s public employees are living the high life courtesy of one of the most egregious taxpayer funded pension plans in the country. Just ask the retired City Manager, James Mussenden, who told the LA Times that he gets paid $216,000 per year in retirement to tour the world on extravagant golf trips. The retired city manager of El Monte collects more than $216,000 a year, plus cost-of-living increases and fully paid health insurance. ‘It’s giving me an opportunity to do a number of things I didn’t get to do when I was younger, like travel to Europe, take some things off my bucket list,’ Mussenden, 66, said recently. He even flew to Scotland to play the famed Old Course at St. Andrews, a mecca for golf enthusiasts. Mussenden recognizes that few Americans have pensions anymore – least of all the El Monte taxpayers who are funding his retirement. So while he enjoys his monthly retirement check, he’s discreet about it. ‘The guys I play golf with, they get very angry about my pension because they don’t have anything like it,’ he said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 1, 2017.
The three most hated modern American politicians were LBJ, Nixon, and Hillary. They were driven out of power by their enemies. Nixon was long called Tricky Dick by Democrats. The Democrats hated him as they hated no other nationally famous Republican. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn at the Democratic National Convention in 1960 persuaded LBJ to take the Vice Presidency slot under Kennedy, whom LBJ despised almost as much as he despised his brother Bobby, in order to defeat Nixon. He ate a big mud sandwich in the name of Party unity against Nixon. Johnson quit in March 1968 before he was driven out of power by the Republicans in November. The anti-war Democrats had deserted him in the primaries. Nixon was driven out of power in 1974 by a small contingent of Republicans in Congress, who went to him and said he would be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate. Hillary was defeated in full public view by the first man with zero political or government-employment experience to win the Presidency. All three went into forced retirement. THE HATED NIXON. The conservatives trusted Nixon in 1948 when Nixon trusted Whittaker Chambers. Nixon was a first-term Congressman from California. In 1948, he was the member of a House Committee on UnAmerican Activities. (Note: there was never a House UnAmerican Activities Committee. “HUAC” was a phenomenally successful acronym imposed by the Left onto a Committee that should have had “HCUA” as its acronym.) HCUA was investigating Communists in government. President Truman had issued an executive order in 1947 to require a loyalty oath for federal employees. This order was an extension of Truman’s growing surveillance state. His executive order and Eisenhower’s 1953 extension of it were repealed by Bill Clinton in 1998. Chambers, an editor at Time (and the translator of Bambi), testified to the committee that the Roosevelt Administration’s Alger Hiss was a Communist. Hiss had been an advisor at the Yalta Conference of February 1945. Then Chambers escalated his accusation in 1949: Hiss had been an informant to the USSR — in short, a spy. Chambers was ridiculed by the Establishment. Yet it was all true. Hiss went to prison for perjury in 1950; the statute of limitations against espionage had run out.
This post was published at Gary North on December 30, 2016.
Editor’s Comment: Is it really any wonder that the most dangerous leaders in society, and their cadre of supporters, are always urging everyone to vote? Democracy has been sanctified because of its symbolic indication that the will and the voice of the people is being considered. Grand sweeping sentiments, ‘democracy,’ the ‘American way’ and so forth. But perhaps it is a model that never could live up to the needs of society… if voting just means picking the personality of your dictator, then there is noting to vote for. Not sure all the things asserted in this article should be implemented either, but it is worth keeping mind that the population and size of the societies that first instituted democracy in Ancient Greece, etc. have little in common with the easily divided, multi-dimensional population base in the United States – with a whopping 315,000,000 people being represented by 1-of-2 presidential candidates, and 535 people in Congress. The most populous state in the U. S., California, is represented by 2 Senators – at a ratio of about 1 to 19 million, and each of its 53 representatives in Congress theoretically represent the views of more than 700,000 people. In Wyoming, the least populous U. S. state, 1 House member represents about a half million people, and each of their 2 senators represent about 232,00o people. Anyway you slice it, no matter what system or values you believe in, that’s a lot of people being represented by a very few… and almost none of those representatives are able to resist corruption, avoid tainted lobbyist money or uphold their promises to voters. So you tell me what the solution is? Mathematicians Prove Society is Way Too Complex to Have A President Mathematics, a report published by Vice’s Motherboard prior to Election Day suggests, proves society is so complex that democracies have been rendered irrelevant. According to a study carried out by mathematicians at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI), it is difficult for government entities or single individuals to debate what these mathematicians call ‘social policy’ if the goal is to find something that works for everyone. Once we consider that members of any society are simply too complex, the study suggests, we are able to understand that the systems of government currently available fail to meet our expectations.
This post was published at shtfplan on November 18th, 2016.
Imports slumped at the nation’s largest port complex in August, a sign that retailers remain cautious in their outlook for holiday sales amid changing patterns in consumer spending. The nation’s two largest container ports, in neighboring Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., imported a combined 732,992 20-foot equivalent units, a standard measure for container cargo, in the month of August. That was down 4.3% from the same month last year. Long Beach’s import volume declined 10.2% while inbound loads in Los Angeles rose less than 1%. Retailers usually step up imports from Asia in late summer and early fall to prepare for the annual surge in holiday consumer spending. This year’s peak shipping season was expected to be weak as retailers focused on slimming store inventories as more of their customers shop online. U. S. retail sales declined in August, raising concerns about how much consumers would spend for the remainder of the year. But the volumes coming through Southern California were worse than anticipated. The National Retail Federation and research firm Hackett Associates predicted nationwide imports through major ports would slip 0.4% in August.
Two years ago, a California aluminum executive commissioned a pilot to fly over the Mexican town of San Jos Iturbide, at the foot of the Sierra Gorda mountains, and snap aerial photos of a remote desert factory. He made a startling discovery. Nearly one million metric tons of aluminum sat neatly stacked behind a fortress of barbed-wire fences. The stockpile, worth some $2 billion and representing roughly 6% of the world’s total inventory – enough to churn out 2.2 million Ford F-150s or 77 billion beer cans – quickly became an obsession for the U. S. aluminum industry. Now it is a new source of tension in U. S.-Chinese trade relations. U. S. executives contend that the mysterious cache was part of a brazen scheme by one of China’s richest men to game the global trade system. Aluminum-industry representative Jeff Henderson says he is convinced that China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd., a Chinese aluminum giant controlled by billionaire Liu Zhongtian, tried to evade U. S. tariffs by routing aluminum through Mexico to disguise its origins, a tactic known as transshipping. ‘My Moby-Dick has been Zhongwang,’ says Mr. Henderson, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council, a U. S. trade group. Mr. Liu, a member of China’s ruling Communist Party, denies any connection to the Mexican aluminum or transshipping. ‘These things have nothing to do with me,’ he said in a June interview at his company’s Liaoning, China, plant, where he lives in an apartment inside the factory. He said he wouldn’t know how to establish a business in Mexico, joking that ‘in that sort of place, there are a lot of killers with guns.’
On Friday, a potential conflict of interest regarding Herbalife and the California Attorney General’s office may have gotten a push from ‘notable’ to ‘alarmingly important’. Back in late 2014, Quoth the Raven was the first to break that the California Attorney General may have a conflict of interest as it relates to Herbalife because she is married to a partner at Venable, LLP, a well known and reputable California law firm that has been retained by Herbalife as recent as 2013. The California Attorney General has, in my opinion, done her constituency a fascinatingly horrific disservice by failing to either comment or act on a company domiciled in her state that the FTC recently deemed as ‘misleading’ and a ‘business opportunity that rewards recruiting at the expense of retail sales’. Ipso facto, the FTC seemed to call Herbalife a pyramid scheme without using the terms. Other Attorney Generals, like Illinois’ Lisa Madigan have already sought and received restitution for victims. The bar is significantly higher and more important for Kamala Harris in California. Why?
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 3, 2016.
The staying power of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ with Chinese viewers is a wonder to behold. The most watched U. S. show in China even has mainlanders flocking to California for the July 4 opening of Universal Studios Hollywood’s newest attraction: a walk-through park that lets you act the part of post-apocalyptic survivor fleeing the flesh-eating undead. Soon enough, though, China’s 1.4 billion people may be able to get their zombie fix at home, where the government is staging the economic equivalent of their favorite TV experience. That’s because President Xi Jinping’s pledge to breathe new life into a staggering growth model faces its own untimely death (adding to the world’s grief over the U. K. exiting the European Union). The first real sign of China’s zombification was Beijing’s failure to attack overcapacity in industries ranging from shipbuilding to steel to mining to cement. In March, theFinancial Times provoked anger in Beijing with its ‘China’s State-Owned Zombie Economy’ headline, along with many others in the foreign media. The second hint came in April, when Xi’s government rolled out plans for a Japan-like debt-to-equity swap program. The International Monetary Fund pounced, warning that securitizing loans might ‘worsen the problem’ by supporting ‘zombie’ companies better off disappearing.
One of Britain’s Liars-In-Chief, David Cameron, pretended to take then high road by offering his resignation, but then proceeded down the low road by refusing to enforce Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to get Britain’s BREXIT vote to leave the elite’s faux- political union, created for and by unelected political hacks who would otherwise be unemployable elsewhere. Taking the Nike’s 1988 advertising slogan, ‘Just Do It,’ Cameron refuses to admit in words what he proves in action: he is out of touch with the nation’s people he is supposed to represent, and instead, only takes those actions that serve the elite’s political union. Cameron lacks the responsibility in leading Britain by refusing to ‘Just Do It’ Be prepared for Britain’s governmental sycophants to act in concert with the EU political sycophants to undermine BREXIT. They will backhandedly conspire to invoke the Eagles’ Hotel California lyrics, ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’ Here is the simplicity of Article 50. Watch the complexity with which it may never be enforced.
California Rep. Edward Royce had the temerity yesterday to ask Janet Yellen whether the Fed was propping up stock prices. Imagine that! In fact, he hit the nail on the head when he characterized the Fed’s unrelenting intrusion in financial markets and constant dithering on rate normalization as a ‘third pillar’, and one found nowhere in its statutory authorities: ROYCE: I’m worried that the Federal Reserve has created a third pillar of monetary policy, that of a stable and rising stock market. And I say that because then-Chairman Bernanke, when he appeared here, stated repeatedly that, ‘the goal of QE was to increase asset prices like the stock market to create a wealth effect.’ That seems as though that was goal. It would stand to reason then that in deciding to raise rates and reduce the Fed’s QE balance sheet standing at a still record $4.5 trillion, one would have to be prepared to accept the opposite result, a declining stock market and a slight deflation of the asset bubble that QE created. Yet, every time in the past three years when there has been a hint of raising rates and the stock market has declined accordingly, the Fed has cited stock market volatility as one of the reasons to stay the course and hold rates at zero. So indeed, the Fed has backed away so many times from rate normalization that – and I think this is a conceptual problem here that the market now expects stock market volatility to diminish the odds of a rate increase. So Madame Chair, is having a stable and rising stock market a third pillar or the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy if I go back to what I originally heard Ben Bernanke articulate? Yellen’s reply is a risible insult to the intelligence of anyone who can fog a mirror. The sum and substance of what the Fed does these days is wealth effects pumping via the Greenspan/Bernanke/Yellen Put, but that did not stop our duplicitous school marm from denying the obvious:
Beyond Human Capacity Distilling down and projecting out the economy’s limitless spectrum of interrelationships is near impossible to do with any regular accuracy. The inputs are too vast. The relationships are too erratic. Quite frankly, keeping tabs on it all is beyond human capacity. This also goes for the federal government. Even with all their data gatherers and number crunchers they are incapable of stitching together an exact understanding of where the economy is really at, let alone where it is going. What’s more, the economy is always evolving and changing in ways that are hard to discern in advance. Cause and effect do not correlate with the simple precision of a balance scale. When one input decreases, an apparently correlated one can somehow increase. For example, when incomes go down, apartment rents should also go down. Lower incomes should result in lower price competition for apartment rents and, thus, lower rents. Logic would support the inherent truth of this premise. Yet, in Sacramento California, and many other places, the exact opposite has happened. Median incomes have declined 13 percent, while median apartment rents have increased 13 percent. How does that work? Perhaps too burdensome development regulations have something to do with it. Or maybe lasting fallout from the great mortgage bust is the culprit. Certainly, the shortage of affordable rentals is driven by a great variety of factors.
On June 7, the Washington DC Council voted to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. DC joins New York and California, along with a number of major US cities that have made the move to boost the minimum wage over the last year. The DC Council’s vote was a major symbolic victory for supporters of the well-organized ‘Fight for $15′ campaign. According to the Washington Post, the effort resonates with Americans:
Trump keeps shooting off his mouth in the stupidest way, but he should know that they will turn whatever he says against him (FYI: Hispanic is not a race, it is an ethnicity like French or German). Hillary and her cronies announced she won before the votes were placed just in case Bernie beats her in California using ‘super delegates.’ The interesting aspect is the fact that we may see a real upset on Capitol Hill. This is an anti-establishment rebellion that the Democratic and Republican hard-liners refuse to concede.
On June 2, a few days before the California primary, Hillary Clinton gave up trying to compete with Bernie Sanders on domestic policy. Instead, she zeroed in on the soft target of Donald Trump’s most ‘bizarre rants’ in order to present herself as experienced and reasonable. Evidently taking her Democratic Party nomination for granted, she is positioning herself as the perfect candidate for hawkish Republicans. Choosing to speak in San Diego, home base of the U. S. Pacific Fleet, on a platform draped with 19 American flags and preceded by half an hour of military marching music, Hillary Clinton was certain of finding a friendly audience for her celebration of American ‘strength’, ‘values’ and ‘exceptionalism’. Cheered on by a military audience, Hillary was already assuming the role to which she most ardently aspires: that of Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Whenever Hillary speaks, one must look for the lies. The biggest lies in this speech were lies of omission. No mention of her support for the invasion of Iraq, no mention of the disaster she wrought in Libya, no mention of her contribution to pursuing endless death and destruction in the Middle East. But she also lied in claiming partial credit for the Iran nuclear deal, which she had tended to block, and most profoundly in presenting herself as a champion of diplomacy. As Secretary of State, she blocked diplomacy that would have prevented or ended conflict, most notoriously concerning Libya, where even senior U. S. military officers were told to cut off their contacts with Gaddafi agents seeking a peaceful compromise.