The Senate health care bill was unveiled on Thursday, and it appears to be dead on arrival. At least four conservative senators say that they can’t vote for the current version because it doesn’t go far enough, while several moderate Republicans are expressing concerns that it goes too far in repealing popular Obamacare provisions. You can read the full text of the bill here. Since Democrats are going to be united in voting against any bill that the Republicans put forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two Republican votes if he wants something to pass. I don’t know how that is going to be possible, and so in the end we may be stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future and that would be a total disaster. It is astounding to me that Republicans don’t want to pass the exact same clean Obamacare repeal bill that they got to Obama’s desk in 2016. If they got that same bill to Trump’s desk, he would sign it. Instead of trying to do everything at once, just repeal Obamacare and then start working on various pieces of the health care system one at a time. According to Real Clear Politics, Congress currently has an average approval rating of just 17.6 percent. It is an institution that has failed the American people over and over again, and we are never going to move things in a positive direction in this country until we do something to clean up that cesspool of filth and corruption. If we truly want to fix health care in this country, we need to rebuild the entire system from the ground up based on free market principles. But of course the bill that was just unveiled in the Senate simply tries to patch up the system we already have, and that ultimately won’t work…
U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently admitted that America’s official foreign policy includes a regime-change operation in Iran. The CIA has created an office for this sole purpose, tasking Michael D’Andrea – also known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike – with leading this operation. Iran just had an election in May, and voter turnout was as high as 70 percent. Even prisoners were allowed to vote, something so-called moderate democratic countries like New Zealand disallow. In contrast, voter turnout in the 2016 U. S. elections was around 58 percent, and support for Donald Trump’s impeachment is now higher than support for his presidency. Though Iran is hardly democratic by Western standards given the stringent requirements for becoming a political candidate in the first place, it is still vastly more democratic than most of America’s closest allies in the region. According to a U. S. State Department document: ‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the Al Saud family… The following significant human rights problems were reported: no right to change the government peacefully; torture and physical abuse; poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention; denial of fair and public trials and lack of due process in the judicial system; political prisoners; restrictions on civil liberties such as freedoms of speech (including the Internet), assembly, association, movement, and severe restrictions on religious freedom; and corruption and lack of government transparency. Violence against women and a lack of equal rights for women, violations of the rights of children, trafficking in persons, and discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sect, and ethnicity were common. The lack of workers’ rights, including the employment sponsorship system, remained a severe problem.’ [emphasis added]
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 21, 2017.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s interactions with Turkish officials has expanded to include Flynn’s former business partner, Bijan Kian, Reuters reported Tuesday. However, the news agency said it’s unclear whether Kian is suspected of criminal activity, or if investigators are just trying to understand the role he played in a transaction involving their old company, Flynn Intel Group, and a Netherlands-based company owned by a Turkish businessman who’s believed to have connections with the Turkish government. The announcement also has implications for the Trump administration. Kian had a hand in picking intelligence agency personnel and was privy to high-level conversations regarding US intelligence as a member of President Donald Trump’s national security transition team. He also led most of the Flynn Intel Group’s research and lobbying for the Turkish businessman in question, the Associated Press reported. ‘Investigators are also looking at whether payments from foreign clients to Flynn and his company…were lawful, according to two separate sources with knowledge of the broad inquiry into Flynn’s business activities. That includes payments by three Russian companies and a Netherlands-based company, Inovo, controlled by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, they said. The FBI’s interest in Kian has not been previously reported. Kian played a central role in securing and overseeing the Inovo contract, two people with knowledge of that project said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 20, 2017.
David Stockman joined Bloomberg Markets to discuss President Donald Trump’s latest budget projections. After the White House and current Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney released various statements on the budget proposal viability conversations already began within the GOP and Congress. When prompted by host David Gura over his thoughts, even reflecting on former Treasury Secretary Summers comments that the budget is ludicrously optimistic, David Stockman did not mince words speaking on Washington.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 15, 2017.
As President Trump’s “Infrastructure Week” comes to an ignominious end, NIRP Umbrella’s Alex Deluce reminds us that spending money on bridges to nowhere and cities of the future is anything but the stimulating panacea it is talked up to be… Is a Chinese credit bubble in the cards? Well, it will be interesting to see if China’s authorities can get through the unwind of US $3 trillion worth of excess credit and the distressed debt on banks’ balance sheets. From 2009 to 2016, more than 10 trillion of Chinese investment was thrown at infrastructure, ghost cities, and corruption thanks to a helping hand from the Chinese banks and foreign lenders eager to participate in the Chinese growth story. In fact, hundreds of new cities in China are essentially empty. The hope is that rural population someday move in. Roughly 40% of the 300 million Chinese expected to move into a town by 2030 will mostly be moving to smaller cities in the ‘chengzhenhua’ system. As OfTwoMinds’ Charles Hugh Smith recently explained, building bridges to nowhere isn’t just a waste of money in the present; it saddles the economy with productivity-draining costs for decades to come.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 10, 2017.
President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Christopher Wray to take over James Comey’s job as Director of the FBI in a Tweet on June 7, the day before Comey’s much anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the Tweet, Trump called Wray a ‘man of impeccable credentials,’ which, undoubtedly, he is. He is also a man with a maze of conflicts of interests. It appears that someone has tried to scrub some of those conflicts from the official web site of the Justice Department. For example, try this Justice Department press release link, which now turns up a dead page. http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pr/2004/02/2004_3631_FORMER_ENRON_CHIEF_E.htm Fortunately for our readers, Google has cached the press release which is dated February 19, 2004. The opening sentence includes all three names making headlines today – Comey, Wray and Robert Mueller, the newly appointed Special Counsel who will investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and the firing by President Trump of James Comey as FBI Director. At the time of this press release, the three men were attached at the hip as part of George W. Bush’s Corporate Fraud Taskforce. All three men are quoted in this press release, as follows: ‘This indictment marks an important milestone in the life of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force,’ said Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who heads the Task Force. ‘The indictment alleges that Jeffrey Skilling and other Enron executives concocted a massive, complex scheme to give shareholders and the investing public the false appearance of financial strength and security at a time when Enron was, in fact, failing. Our investigators were able to cut through the maze of paperwork and financial trickery to get to the bottom of the scheme and charge Skilling, once the top executive at Enron, with fraud and other crimes that contributed to Enron’s collapse.’
President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Paris climate deal, a cornerstone of his predecessor’s legacy, was met with disdain from everyone on the left. That includes Elon Musk. Musk is now threatening Trump saying that he will step down from the president’s advisory councils if Trump decides to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Trump has said he intends to officially exit the agreement next week despite the insistence from the left that he stay. The CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX tweeted Wednesday that he’s done everything possible to lobby the president to keep the U. S. in the treaty. ‘Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain,’ Musk said. ‘Don’t know which way Paris will go, but I’ve done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain,’ Musk said. Don't know which way Paris will go, but I've done all I can to advise directly to POTUS, through others in WH & via councils, that we remain — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 31, 2017
I was standing in line in a phone store and the two women in front of me were talking about the press and how dishonest they are. The interesting thing was one did not like Trump and was starting to like him because the press was so negative. The other had been a Trump supporter and just listening to them made me think just how openly revolting the press has become. Now a Harvard study published May 18th, 2017 reveals what many Americans are starting to talk about openly just how corrupt the press has become. Trump’s press coverage has set an all-time new historic record for negativity. The Harvard study says President Trump’s early days in office were subjected to almost universally negative news coverage, confirming what he has been complaining about. They reported that Trump presidency is ‘setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.’ I personally have done significant research in political-economic history reading the commentaries throughout history to get a sense of the thinking process and its evolution. I have never uncovered such corruption in mainstream media in the entire history of the United States. This is bordering on the corrupt Communist press of the cold war – the new American Pravda.
Amid the chaos of James Comey’s firing, new questions about the timeline of his fateful investigation Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared on This Week Sunday, and said some head-scratching things. Clapper back in March told Meet the Press that when he issued a January 6th multiagency intelligence community assessment about Russian interference in the election, the report didn’t include evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, essentially saying he hadn’t been aware of any such evidence up through January 20th, his last day in office. On Sunday, he said that didn’t necessarily mean there was no such evidence, because sometimes he left it up to agency chiefs like former FBI Director James Comey to inform him about certain things. “I left it to the judgment [of] Director Comey,” Clapper said, “to decide whether, when and what to tell me about counterintelligence investigations.” Clapper said something similar when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Monday. In prepared remarks, he essentially said that there was nothing odd about his not being informed about the existence of an FBI counterintelligence investigation involving Donald Trump’s campaign.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 21, 2017.
In a move that will surely light the proverbial lightbulb over Donald Trump’s head, Brazilian President Michel Temer, having been officially dragged into Brazil’s massive corruption scandal after a record emerged in which he urged the payment of “hush money”, said on Saturday he would ask the Supreme Court to suspend its investigation into allegations he was also involved in the carwash corruption scheme, vowing to remain in power. Speaking during a televised address on Saturday afternoon, Brazil’s deeply unpopular president, who replaced a just as deeply unpopular president last year when Dilma Rouseff was impeached, claimed the recording that implicated him in the scandal was doctored and said he would file a petition with the Supreme Court to suspend the investigation until it could be verified, the WSJ reported. In the recording cited by Temer, which unleashed a historic crash of the Brazilian stock market and currency on Thursday when news of Temer’s involvement broke, the president can be heard chatting with Joesley Batista, chairman and heir of the beef-and-chicken JBS empire, apparently him his approval to pay the jailed former speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha – the man responsible for Dilma Rouseff’s ouster last year – to buy his silence. Batista, who made the recording and gave it to prosecutors in hopes for prosecutorial leniency against JBS, said the recording wasn’t edited.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 20, 2017.
#WikiLeaks informer Seth Rich murdered in US but MSM was so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice. pic.twitter.com/0XVezTyfHM — Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) May 19, 2017
Earlier this week, Fox News dropped a bombshell report officially confirming, via anonymous FBI sources, what many had suspected for quite some time, that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich was the WikiLeaks source for leaks which proved that the DNC was intentially undermining the campaign of Bernie Sanders. In addition to exposing the utter corruption of the DNC, the leaks cost Debbie Wasserman Shcultz her job as Chairwoman. At the time, we mockingly wondered why the mainstream media seemingly overlooked a huge new development in a highly suspicious unsolved murder case. Finally, we find it ‘shocking’ that while the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, etc are all too eager to regurgitate each others anonymously sourced stories that are critical of Trump, not a single one of them had a single reference of this Fox News bombshell on their website at the time this article was published. Turns out we weren’t alone, as the Russian Embassy in the U. K. just sent out the following tweet: “#WikiLeaks informer Seth Rich murdered in US but MSM was so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 19, 2017.
Republican Senator John McCain is rather perturbed that president Donald Trump fired FBI director, James Comey. His disappointment, though, is hard to understand considering the turn on Comey by the government as of late. Republicans, by and large, had a lot of great things to say about James Comey when he chose to look into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal during the presidential election last year. Oddly, the political right also seemed to really love WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange for releasing the ‘Podesta emails’ which showed corruption withing the DNC and Hillary’s campaign team, themselves. So why the dramatic turn? After yesterday’s announcement that Comey had been fired by Trump at the suggestion of Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, McCain said he is ‘disappointed’ with President Trump’s decision. ‘While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office,’ McCain said in a statement. McCain argued that such a move reinforces his calls for a special congressional panel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump said he fired Comey over the handling of Hillary’s email scandal. But there is probably a whole lot more to it than that. Because WikiLeaks has confirmed that Russia was not the source of the leaked Podesta emails, the source of the Russian hacking, it appears that this is all likely intertwined. But finding the glue to stick this all together has proven difficult.
Despite President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that he might support breaking up big banks, Wall Street isn’t worried. Yet. The calm is fueled by signals from administration aides in private meetings with industry executives to discuss rolling back financial rules, a Trump priority. While not making any assurances, the officials aren’t harping on the issue, according to people who have participated in or been briefed on the discussions. In fact, the topic of reviving Glass-Steagall, the 1933 law separating investment and commercial banking, rarely comes up. Just last month, Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn eased the concerns of at least two bank chief executives officers who called him after he spoke approvingly of Glass-Steagall in a meeting with senators, people familiar with the matter said. Neither Cohn nor the Treasury Department’s Craig Phillips made a case for splitting up banks when they met recently with an important financial lobbying group, said some attendees. There is also a sense in the industry that lawmakers have little appetite to take on another controversial legislative fight, especially one that would anger big donors. Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, are particularly loath to support such a dramatic reshaping of the banking system.
President Trump, as part of his ‘America First’ program, has proposed lowering the US corporate tax rate to 15 percent and to close a myriad of loopholes in an effort to simplify the tax code, and to also encourage the nation’s largest businesses to bring production back home. The proposal represents a tangible shift in the relationship between Washington and big business. In 2014, President Obama’s Treasury Department introduced new measures to crack down on corporate tax inversions, a strategy companies utilized to exploit gaping tax differentials between the United States and other countries. Burger King’s acquisition of Canada’s Tim Hortons, a coffee and doughnut chain, for example, was motivated in large part by Canada’s more hospitable tax environment.
I claim no special power here, nor any inside information. This is simply arithmetic coupled with logic. I’ll give you a “decision tree” sort of format with the critical points outlined. Note that if you’re going to mitigate any of what I see coming around the bend you need to do it right damn now, not wait. By the time you get to those critical points it’s too late. For many people it’s already too late, but if you’re not in that batch then you need to make your lifestyle changes today. I am operating on the premise that the rank corruption that I outlined in the Ticker here will not be addressed. It will not be addressed for the same reason the 17th Amendment will be cited as the reason the American political experiment failed when the book on America is finally closed, as that Amendment permanently removed the ability of the States to call a hard-stop on any expansion of Federal Power they did not consent to. That was designed in to our government by the founders and it was removed intentionally by the 17th Amendment. That balance of power can never be restored absent a Revolution because to do so The Senate would have to literally vote themselves out of a job at a supermajority level which they will never do and there is no means to compel them to do so. For the same reason the 30-year trend in Medicare and Medicaid spending will not be stopped. It may be tinkered with around the edges but it won’t be stopped because to stop it without literally throwing people into the street and letting them die you have to break the medical monopolies and in doing so you will inevitably (1) destroy the graft machine that drives a huge part of DC and at least half of the jobs inside the Beltway, along with the asset values they support, (2) create an immediate and deep (15% of GDP, but temporary) recession on purpose which neither Congress or Trump will ever voluntarily initiate as it would cause a guaranteed 70% stock market crash along with the immediate detonation of about 1/3rd of all in-debt corporations in the United States and (3) expose the outrageous theft of trillions of dollars from taxpayers over the last several decades to fund the medical scam machine at all levels.
There are a few important things to know about Gary Cohn. Until Donald Trump tapped him to be the Director of the National Economic Council, he had worked at Goldman Sachs for a quarter century, rising to the position of President of the firm and second only to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein. Cohn walked out of Goldman in December with approximately $285 million, comprised mainly of Goldman stock, some of which had been granted early vesting. Since his exit from Goldman, Cohn has wasted no time in selling large chunks of his Goldman shares according to his financial disclosures. While this serves to reduce his conflicts of interest with Goldman, it also provides a face-saving means of exiting a massive position in a Wall Street bank without the appearance of panic or disloyalty. Against this backdrop comes the widely reported news that on April 5 Cohn met with Senators serving on the Senate Banking Committee and expressed support for bringing back a modern-day version of the depression era Glass-Steagall Act – legislation which was passed as a result of the Wall Street collapse of 1929 to 1933, which erased 90 percent of the market’s value. (Yes, 90 percent.) That legislation created Federally-insured deposits and barred insured commercial banks from being affiliated with Wall Street investment banks. It protected the U. S. financial system for 66 years until its repeal in 1999 under the Bill Clinton administration. It took only nine years after its repeal for Wall Street to implode in the same epic fashion as the ’29 crash.