Wasserman Schultz and the DNC Imbroglio – Continued

More on the Pakistani IT support crew of the Democrat party.

Family members of a staffer for the former Democratic National Committee chair who was arrested this week while attempting to leave the U.S. for Pakistan once worked for several Southern California congressional offices.

Imran Awan was fired Tuesday by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the same day he pleaded not guilty to a bank fraud charge in connection with a $165,000 home equity loan, authorities said.

His brother Abid Awan, was employed earlier this year by Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu, Tony Cardenas, and nearly 30 more House Democrats as a “shared employee”, according to Legistorm, a website that tracks congressional employment.

Root cause of Trump Win

Simple summary of why Trump won and it wasn’t the Russians.

For all its vacuity, however, the hysteria is certainly understandable, because President Trump has defied all expectations by actually trying to do what he promised that he would try to do. But another reason is that the major cause of last November’s electoral outcome has remained mostly unexplored, even un­discovered. That is not due to intellectual laziness, but rather reflects the refusal of almost all commentators to contend with the political economy that determined the outcome of the election. Long-term processes of income redistribution from working people to everyone else, non-working welfare recipients as well as the very rich, had been evident for at least two decades. (I explored the phenomenon in my book The Endangered American Dream, 1993.) Those changes called for a painful party realignment (which would have cost the Democrats their ample Wall Street funding) that never happened – not even when Bernie Sanders arrived to be its instrument. The Democratic Party officials and leading lights of the media elite who helped to deny the nomination to Sanders, and thus very likely the White House, understandably have a guilty conscience, because they truly did everything possible to stop him, including ever so discreet anti-Semitic messaging very precisely aimed at black voters wavering in their pre-ordained fealty to Hillary Clinton.

As it was, of course, the victory of the Democratic establishment merely ensured the victory of the only Sanders counterpart on the Repub­lican side with whom Sanders differed sharply on almost everything – except for the only thing that really mattered to both: the urgent need to mobilize government policies to increase American jobs and wages, in firm opposition to all the competing international and planetary priorities continuously proffered by elite Americans and their core institutions, along with Pope Francis and other leading figures.

The key point is that the concerns of the ordinary people were ignored. When Obama went to deliver a campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate in 2008, it was obvious that his interests were aligned somewhere else and when Hillary Clinton stated the following in a prepared speech in May 2013, it was a case of deja vu.

“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, sometime in the future with energy that’s as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere,” Clinton reportedly said to investors in a paid speech she gave to Brazilian Banco Itau in 2013.

For the record Clinton’s response to the above was as follows. Notice the outright deception in her response where she implies that open borders are for energy and not immigration?

Tobacco a health product?

File this under, bound to happen.

Sley, a 33-year-old ex-Wall Streeter who’s smoked cigars since he was 15, launched Hestia in 2013. The company’s small-batch “cigarillos” are made with tobacco grown on organic farms in the South and rolled in retardant-free natural papers with a nontoxic filter. Sley says the cigs are made for people like him, who eat kale and shop at Whole Foods: “People who put care and intention in their bodies.”…

“The act of smoking is like a meditation practice. You’re consciously breathing in and exhaling,” says the 34-year-old Dose Market startup founder.

 

From 2014 but still valid advice for Trump haters

Ask Andrew W.K.: My Dad Is a Right-Wing Asshole

Q: I’m writing because I just can’t deal with my father anymore. He’s a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I’m more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all…

A: Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you. And you don’t consider your dad a person of his own standing — he’s just “your dad.” You’ve also reduced yourself to a set of opposing views, and reduced your relationship with him to a fight between the two. The humanity has been reduced to nothingness and all that’s left in its place is an argument that can never really be won. And even if one side did win, it probably wouldn’t satisfy the deeper desire to be in a state of inflamed passionate conflict.

The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they’re truly better people than the others who think differently. The world officially ends when we let our beliefs conquer love. We must not let this happen….

And the BBC’s excuse for this is?

The apologist at BBC didn’t waste time finding excuses for dysfunctionality that is Pakistan.

In Pakistan, the army and its intelligence wing are by far the most powerful institutions – and the country has had repeated spells of military rule.

The abiding sense of a military threat from its much larger neighbour has – many feel – boosted the power of the armed forces and hindered the development of a mature democracy.

And the excuse for this is? How do the “many feel” about this?

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani police have arrested 25 members of an informal village council accused of ordering the rape of a 16-year-old girl as revenge for her brother’s alleged sexual assault of another girl.

The Supreme Court also requested a report on the case, which echoed a notorious case from 2002 in which another teenager was gang-raped on a local council’s order.

NYT and Venezuela

The NYT accomplishes a rare feat by writing a detailed article about Venezuela without once mentioning the word “socialism”. The only two -isms that appear in the article are, authoritarianism and vigilantism, which appears twice.

It is hard to believe but back in the 1970s Caracas, Venezuela was a regular stop for Concorde as it ferried the super-rich from there to Paris. Youtube has a brief video that documents the flights.

Unfortunately the decline of nation isn’t limited to being caused by socialism. Bahamas managed to go from a being on the jet set circuit in the 1950s to having a crime rate that is now 8-times that of US; almost all of it focused exclusively in Nassau and Freeport.

From Manufacturing Consent to Manufacturing News

This article in Tablet provides an excellent background on Fusion GPS and the process of manufacturing news. Some choice quotes below, but the whole article is worth a read.

Fusion GPS was founded in 2009—before the social media wave destroyed most of the remaining structures of 20th-century American journalism—by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. They picked up former colleagues from the Journal, Tom Catan, and Neil King, Jr., who were also well-respected by their peers. When the social media wave hit two years later, print media’s last hopes for profitability vanished, and Facebook became the actual publisher of most of the news that Americans consumed. Opposition research and comms shops like Fusion GPS became the news-rooms—with investigative teams and foreign bureaus—that newspapers could no longer afford….

Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers….

Besides Russia, Fusion GPS has also worked with other foreign countries, organizing campaigns and creating news that furthers the aims of the people who pay for their services—using the fractured playing field of “news” to extend old-fashioned lobbying efforts in a way that news consumers have been slow to understand.

Fusion GPS, according to the company’s website, offers “a cross-disciplinary approach with expertise in media, politics, regulation, national security, and global markets.” What does that mean, exactly? “They were hired by a sheikh in the UAE after he was toppled in a coup and waged an information war against his brother,” one well-respected reporter who has had dealings with the company told me. “I believe they seeded the New Yorker story about the Trump Hotel in Azerbaijan with alleged connections to the IRGC. They may have been hired to look into Carlos Slim. It’s amazing how much copy they generate. They’re really effective.”…

On Wednesday, three major news organization published variations of the same story—about the line of succession to the Saudi throne. It seems that in June the son of King Salman, Mohammed Bin Salman, muscled his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef out of the way to become the Crown Prince and next in line.

It’s a juicy narrative with lots of insider-y details about Saudi power politics, drug addiction, and the ambitions of a large and very wealthy family, but the most salient fact is that the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Reuters published what was essentially the same story, with minor variations, on the same day—not a breaking news story, but an investigative feature.

In other words, these media organizations were used as part of an information campaign targeting Riyadh, for as yet unknown reasons. Who’s behind it? Maybe an opposition research shop like Fusion GPS, or a less formal gathering of interests, like Saudi opponents foreign and domestic, as well as American intelligence officials.

It’s certainly embarrassing to be played for the sucker and see what you likely assumed was a scoop break in two other outlets the very same day, and some of the bylines involved are capable and talented journalists. But it’s perhaps worst for the New York Times, which was compelled to run what amounted to an article-length correction the next day, under the headline,Saudi Official Who Was Thought to Be Under House Arrest Receives a Promotion.” On Wednesday, the Times reported that Gen. Abdulaziz al-Huwairini had been put under house arrest by a faction loyal to Mohammed Bin Salman. On Thursday, the Times reported that he was in fact named head of a government body overseeing domestic security and counterterrorism issues.

Private firms like Fusion GPS have always been around, but the degree to which the MSM is ready to be spoon-fed by them is a relatively new development. Rest assured though that MSM won’t be reporting that the co-founder of Fusion GPS has decided to plead the Fifth.

Another article that is worth reading in terms of manufacturing of news is this. It examines the recent WaPo story about yet another meeting between Sessions and the Russian ambassador where the former could-have-might-have-would-have kissed the latter’s ring.

Of course, the media has its own agenda as this graph shows.

2016 Forbes 400 and source of wealth

The following statistics are from the above chart.

Forbes 400 aggregate net worth: $2,398 billion

Finance & Investments as source of net worth: $291 billion or 20.5% of the total.

This is inconsistent with Chrystia Freelanld’s assertion that “… the majority of the super-rich have made their money out of finance not manufacturing.” In fact, if you remove Warren Buffett from the list then finance & investments as a source of net worth drops to 18.4% from 20.5%.

It is widely accepted that one is more likely to become wealthy from finance & investments in US than in other countries, so this statistic is likely to be even less in other countries. As economies move from manufacturing to a service based economy, it is not surprising that manufacturing contributes less to the overall net worth.

Amazon is a good example. It doesn’t manufacture anything but has a lock on cloud-based hosting and online retail which places Bezos in third-place on the Forbes 400 list. The top-5 in that list exemplify the overall list. Technology is the source of wealth for three of the top five, with finance and manufacturing rounding out the list.

Also see, “Has our economy become too ‘financialized’?” which was written in 2016. In particular the assertion that “In the United States, finance, insurance and real estate (known as FIRE) now account for 20 percent of gross domestic product, compared with only 10 percent in 1947.” Technology and Natural Monopoly might be a better explanation for the rise of Gini coefficient.

It is also instructive to note this fact: When stated in terms of lifetime dollar wealth creation, the entire gain in the U.S. stock market since 1926 is attributable to the best-performing four percent of listed stocks.

Another explanation for the increase in wealth concentration might be the rise of passive investing in which disproportionate amount of money is invested in companies without regard to merit.

The rise of passive asset management threatens to fundamentally undermine the entire system of capitalism and market mechanisms that facilitate an increase in the general welfare, according to analysts at research and brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC.

In a note titled “The Silent Road to Serfdom: Why Passive Investing is Worse Than Marxism,” a team led by Head of Global Quantitative and European Equity Strategy Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, says that politicians and regulators need to be cognizant of the social case for active management in the investment industry.

“A supposedly capitalist economy where the only investment is passive is worse than either a centrally planned economy or an economy with active market led capital management,” they write.