Fake president picks fellow creep for Treasury job

❝ President Donald Trump’s pick for the top spokeswoman job at the Treasury Department repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that suggested then-President Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim who was sympathetic to America’s enemies…

❝ Crowley also endorsed a story claiming Obama was an “Islamic community organizer” trying to conform the United States to Sharia law and claimed conspiracy theories about Obama’s birth certificate were “legitimate concerns.” During Obama’s presidency, Trump was one of the most prominent voices pushing the so-called birther conspiracy theories questioning Obama’s birthplace. When he was seeking the presidency himself and under continual questioning, Trump finally admitted that Obama was born in the US but offered no apologies or explanation for the years he spent sowing doubt about Obama’s origins.

Birds-of-a-feather and other phrases about opportunist liars all apply.

Six agencies, federal cops, investigate Russia paying for pro-Trump hackers


“Oh, Look. This one has Donald’s name engraved on it.”

❝ The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump…

The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence…

❝ Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers…two sources said.

The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump…

❝ Trump’s presidential transition team did not respond to a request for comment about the inquiry.

❝ FBI Director Comey refused at a recent Senate hearing to comment on whether the bureau was investigating Russia’s hacking campaign for possible criminal prosecutions. Spokespeople for the FBI, the Justice Department and the national intelligence director declined to comment…

❝ The BBC reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant on Oct. 15 from the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing investigators access to bank records and other documents about potential payments and money transfers related to Russia…

RTFA for the whole context. Importantly, this started before the Chris Steele dossier surfaced with the FBI. That the FBI was able to get a FISA warrant indicates they were able to establish probable cause the target was a foreign power – and the surveillance was likely to produce foreign intelligence.

Do we need more public service from Wall Street bankers?

Sen. Elizabeth Warren kicked off a firestorm last month when she said that she would not support Antonio Weiss, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be undersecretary of the treasury. Her reason was that Weiss had made his career at Lazard, an asset management company that has taken the lead in structuring corporate inversions, the practice of relocating a corporation’s headquarters to escape U.S. taxes.

In addition, Lazard planned to give Weiss $20 million in deferred compensation, that he was not actually owed, as a parting gift. This practice of promoting public service with large payments of deferred compensation to those taking on government positions is apparently common among Wall Street banks. But Warren, the AFL-CIO and others have criticized it: Being awarded large amounts of money before becoming public servants could make these bankers more positively disposed towards their former employers in the same way as an outright bribe…

Is there any question that we have a very serious problem of financial regulators who serve Wall Street and not the general public? Our financial regulators sat on their hands as a housing bubble grew ever more out of line with the fundamentals of the market, as anyone with open eyes could see.

And the bad loans that were driving this explosion in house prices were also not a secret. The National Association of Realtors reported that 43 percent of first-time homebuyers in 2005 had down payments of zero or less. The term NINJA loan — meaning no income, no job or assets — became common in the real estate and banking industry.

The warning signs were everywhere, but where were the regulators? Timothy Geithner, who was president of the New York Fed from 2003 until he became treasury secretary in 2009, told the Senate Banking Committee during his confirmation hearings that he had never been a regulator. This is in spite of the fact that one of the main responsibilities of the New York Fed is to regulate the Wall Street banks.

Unfortunately Geithner’s attitude is typical among the regulators in Treasury and elsewhere. They appear to hold the view that their job is serving the big banks and that in doing so they are somehow serving the larger public.

RTFA for a bit more depth and detail. That control of our economy is dependent upon Wall Street Wizards is almost unavoidable given how the American version of capitalism is skewed and screwed-up. That certainly shouldn’t diminish the role of watchdogs – and where their loyalties should lie.

UNACCOUNTABLE: The Pentagon’s deliberately bad bookkeeping


Behind the Pentagon’s doctored ledgers, a running tally of epic waste

For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars

Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. “A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,” Woodford says. “We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.”

The data flooded in just two days before deadline. As the clock ticked down, Woodford says, staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” – in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s…

After the monthly reports were sent to Treasury, the accountants continued to seek accurate information to correct the entries. In some instances, they succeeded. In others, they didn’t, and the unresolved numbers stood on the books.

Read it and weep, folks! The Pentagon realized decades ago that they are untouchable. When the War Department became the Defense Department, after the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about completed their triumph over Congress and the White House – the official religion of the United States put on a uniform and required focus only on “our brave defenders” and not the profiteers whose invoices and charges remained unchallenged in perpetuity.

Why mandate accountability at the consumption end when there is little or none at the production and profit end? We hear the rare voice lifted by some poor shlub in the Pentagon that they really don’t need 1500 more gold-plated toilet seats at $6000 apiece. Immediately followed by three political hacks in Congress screaming blue murder that 47 constituents in their home district will have to look for work elsewhere if this is allowed. And that is sufficient to put a halt to the idea.

It’s a long, detailed verifiable article. A worthwhile read. One that will anger you sufficiently – I hope – to holler at your elected Congress-critters and demand action. At a minimum.

It is nice to see BTW that although I fear the Thompson cartel’s purchase of Reuters is trying to steer news-gathering down the primrose path of conservative ideology, they haven’t yet succeeded in crushing the tradition of honest investigative reporting.

The lie that prosecuting bank fraud will destabilize the economy is what is REALLY destroying the economy

The Departments of Justice and Treasury are pretending that criminally prosecuting criminal banksters will destabilize the economy. The exact opposite is true.

Failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future. After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:

The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going

I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the

Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties…

In 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” But the government did nothing, and less than nothing, delivering instead low interest rates, deregulation and clear signals that laws would not be enforced. The signals were not subtle: on one occasion the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision came to a conference with copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. There followed every manner of scheme to fleece the unsuspecting ….

This was fraud, perpetrated in the first instance by the government on the population, and by the rich on the poor…

The bottom line is that the government has it exactly backwards. By failing to prosecute criminal fraud, the government is destabilizing the economy … and ensuring future crashes…

Indeed, the government has done everything it can to cover up fraud, and has been actively encouraging criminal fraud and attacking those trying to blow the whistle.

RTFA. I’ve posted only a portion of this analysis, this plea for law and order, this plea for honesty on the part of a government which so far has refused to uphold the laws of this land.

Final sale of AIG shares brings taxpayer profit to $22.7 Billion

American International Group (AIG)’s rescue has come to an end with the U.S. raising $7.6 billion in its final offering of the insurer’s shares, four years after a bailout that fueled resentment against Wall Street…

The Treasury Department is selling 234.2 million shares at $32.50 each in the sixth offering since the 2008 rescue. The proceeds boost the U.S. profit on the rescue that began in 2008 to $22.7 billion, according to a statement…from the Treasury…

The U.S. took over the New York-based company in a 2008 bailout that swelled to $182.3 billion to save the global economy from collapse. AIG has sold more than $65 billion of assets to help repay the rescue, while Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche scaled back from the derivative bets that almost destroyed the firm. He’s focusing on property-casualty coverage globally and life and retirement products in the U.S.

Treasury can claim victory, AIG can be free of TARP, and AIG will begin to trade on its merits,” said Josh Stirling, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co…

The U.S. owned as much as 92 percent of AIG after saving a firm that insured 100,000 municipalities, retirement plans and companies and was counterparty to some of the biggest banks. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has said saving AIG after it was hobbled by mortgage-related bets made him “more angry” than any other measure the government undertook to counter the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“There weren’t a lot of options, let’s face it,” Robert Willumstad, CEO of New York-based AIG when the firm was rescued, said in an interview last month. “It was controversial, it was a big risk, but one would argue today that the government got its money back and a healthy profit.”

I couldn’t agree more. Though I’ve been of two minds throughout the whole TARP program – the challenging part being the deal saving the collective butt of banks that made foolish bets based on fraudulent information – my confidence in Bernanke and Geithner getting taxpayer money back was never challenged by the realities of the financial marketplace. In truth, a steady profit was realized from each of the investments in major banks and financial houses.

Not much further to go to retire the remainders of the program. Establishing wind-down procedures for some of the smaller banks still dependent on local and regional markets – which haven’t matched the gradual recovery of our national economy. This, too, shall pass.

Childish Republican games over debt ceiling cost U.S Treasury, US taxpayers – $1.3 billion

The bitter partisan fight over raising the U.S. debt ceiling last year pushed up the U.S. Treasury’s borrowing costs by $1.3 billion, congressional auditors said on Monday…

Delays in raising the debt limit created uncertainty in the Treasury market and led to higher borrowing costs, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an investigative arm of Congress.

In addition to the $1.3 trillion in higher interest rates for fiscal 2011, GAO said multi-year Treasury securities issued last year also will continue to accrue higher interest costs for years to come.

Republican lawmakers had refused to raise the debt ceiling — the legal amount the U.S. Treasury is allowed to borrow — without concessions from Democrats to reduce massive budget deficits, which have exceeded $1 trillion since President Barack Obama took office.

The fight eventually brought the U.S. government to the brink of a debt default and cost the United States its top-tier, triple-A credit rating from Standard and Poor’s…

The U.S. Treasury is on track to hit the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling before the end of the year, though emergency tools will allow the department to push the deadline into 2013…Here we go, again!

I dearly wish there was some administrative way to tie Congressional paychecks to failures like this. I realize there always are sufficient dimwit chickenhawks in government to shove our nation into a war with anyone. Congressional ignoranuses are always willing and able to allow our idiot invasions to proceed with no provision made for the cost of invasion, the cost of processing one of our wars to its bitter end, the cost of trying to rebuild our target nation back to a semblance of life before The Leader of the Free World decided to stage-manage their lives. But, the money chickens always come home to roost.

Yes, their paychecks don’t matter as much as the payoffs, kickbacks, silly jobs as imitation lobbyists provided to aid corporate crooks in manipulating tax law and subsidies. But, cutting one small corner from their pants pockets would be a positive start.

Sorting out debt limits is dependent on how and when – more than how much. Trying to drag our economy back from the most crushing disaster since World War 2 demands thought, enterprise and honesty. What we’re getting from Congressional Republicans and the Kool Aid Party is hypocrisy grounded in their contempt for people who work for a living.

Fed hands over another $77 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury


Count it if you don’t believe me!
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The Federal Reserve said on Tuesday that it contributed $76.9 billion in profits to the Treasury Department last year, slightly less than its record 2010 transfer but much more than in any other previous year.

The Fed is required by law to turn over its profits to the Treasury each year, a highly lucrative byproduct of the central bank’s continuing campaign to stimulate economic growth.

Almost 97 percent of the Fed’s income was generated by interest payments on its investment portfolio, including $2.5 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities, which it has amassed in an effort to decrease borrowing costs for businesses and consumers by reducing long-term interest rates…

But Fed officials note that this cycle — payments flowing from Treasury to the Fed and then back to the Treasury — still saves money for taxpayers because those interest payments otherwise would be made to other investors.

It’s interest that the Treasury didn’t have to pay to the Chinese,” the Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, half-jokingly told Congress last year.

The scale of the transfers grew rapidly after the financial crisis.

RTFA. Always gives me a chuckle to see nutballs from the Kool Aid Party to preachers of the Gold Bar religion like Ron Paul forced to confront a Fed which functions smoothly – even with double the tasks, say, of any European Central Bank.

Add to that the profits taken from the Evil Socialist Stimulus Plan which – yes, once again – gave Keynes another victory over Hayek and genetically-restricted Bears.