Tags: Oligarchy

Meet the Overseas Contingency Operations Account – Washington D.C.’s Crony Capitalist War Slush Fund

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Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain has called it a “gimmick,” and Democrats complain that larding up the separate war funding bill with extra spending amounts to an “abusive loophole.” Yet so far, the massive increase is likely to remain in this year’s budget.

Another major criticism of the process has been its common use to fund favored projects and other items not directly tied to the war — a trend that has steadily grown over the years as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragged on and the Pentagon loosened the definition of war-related spending.

From 2001 to 2014, nearly $71 billion of nonwar funding was provided through war appropriations, according to the Pentagon’s own definition, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported in December.

– From the Politico article: War Budget Might be Permanent ‘Slush Fund’

Many people will read this post, and posts like it, and shrug their shoulders saying that there’s always going to be corruption. True; however, there are degrees of corruption. When empires such as the U.S. attain a certain level of corruption that reaches the point where it becomes engrained within the fabric of society, and you couple that with zero accountability for the super rich and powerful, you have the ingredients for societal collapse. We are rapidly approaching this point, and I personally don’t think there’s any way to stop it.

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Another Oligarch Preaches to the Peasants – Charlie Munger Says “Prepare for Harder World”

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While several exceptionally wealthy and successful people have admirably come out and spoken passionately of the broken nature of financial markets and the political system, as well as the threat this poses to society in general (think Paul Tudor Jones and Nick Hanauer), there have been several examples of oligarchs coming out and conversely demonstrating their complete disconnect from reality, as well as a disdain for the masses within a framework of incredible arrogance.

I’ve commented on such figures in the past, with the two most popular posts on the subject being:

A Billionaire Lectures Serfs in Davos – Claims “America’s Lifestyle Expectations are Far Too High”

An Open Letter to Sam Zell: Why Your Statements are Delusional and Dangerous

The latest example comes from Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand man, who tends to demonstrate an incredible capacity for verbal diarrhea. Recall his commentary on gold: “gold is a great thing to sew onto your garments if you’re a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939.”  

Moving along, Mr. Munger provided some typically insensitive commentary at an event yesterday in Los Angeles. Bloomberg reports that:

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Just Another Tale from the Oligarch Recovery – $100 Million Homes Being Built on Spec

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Neoclassical economics and the trickle down policy framework that we have derived from it argues that there is a trade-off between fairness and growth. The general idea of trickle down economics is that the richer the rich get and the less constrained they are, less burdened in regulations, the more jobs they create, the better off everyone will be. It’s the concentrated accumulation of capital which is the principal driver of market capitalism.. So, rising economic inequality isn’t a bug, it’s a feature of the trickle down economics. It’s how you know things are getting better, right? Because the richer the rich get, the more jobs they create. This is a general principle of the thing.

– From Salon’s recent interview of Nick Hanauer: The 1 Percent Rigged Everything: Why No One Can End Ronald Reagan’s “Dead Wrong” Voodoo Economics

Just to give you a little sense of how all this wealth has been “trickling down” see…

More developers and investors are racing to build increasingly lavish homes on spec. Built on prime lots with master suites larger than most homes and spas and entertainment spaces comparable with those in hotels, many of these homes are also attempting to break new price records.

Real-estate agents say the surge reflects an ultraluxury housing market that is at an all-time high, fed in part by overseas buyers and house hunters looking to invest in trophy properties. 

“These are people who are going to buy these homes to park money,” says Jeff Hyland, of Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland. 

Mr. Hadid declines to say what he’s spending on the home, but says the listing price will likely be in the $200 million range when the house is completed next year.

– From the Wall Street Journal article: The Race to the $100 Million Spec House

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to highlight a recent insightful interview Nick Hanauer gave to Salon. In case you forgot, Mr. Hanauer is the billionaire who came out and publicly warned of pitchforks unless our corrupt economic system is reformed. I highlighted his article and provided my own thoughts in the piece: The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%. If you never read that, I suggest taking a look now.

A very poignant point made by Hanauer in his latest interview, concerns how fake liberals like Barack Obama will pay lip service to income inequality as if it is simply some unexpected moral tragedy which happened accidentally within a well functioning economic system. Hanauer correctly points out that the economic system itself is corrupted. That all wealth is being funneled to a tiny oligarchy isn’t a a flaw within this system, it’s a deliberate part of the design itself replete with its own elitist hedging mechanism.

For example, whenever oligarch wealth is threatened, such as in the 2008/09 time period, all resources are immediately mobilized to bail them out. The interests of all other segments of society are consistently thrown to the wayside, with the exception of welfare merely meant to just lessen the probability of civil unrest, as opposed to actually lifting people into the middle or upper classes.

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Clinton Foundation’s Deep Financial Ties to Ukrainian Oligarch Who Pushed for Closer Ties to EU Revealed

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Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Pinchuk foundation said its donations were intended to help to make Ukraine “a successful, free, modern country based on European values.” It said that if Mr. Pinchuk was lobbying the State Department about Ukraine, “this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing.”

– From the Wall Street Journal article: Clinton Charity Tapped Foreign Friends

When I first came across the title to this article, I didn’t think much of it. In fact, I almost didn’t even click the link thinking it was just a repeat of a prior expose I highlighted in the post: Hillary Clinton Exposed Part 2 – Clinton Foundation Took Millions From Countries That Also Fund ISIS.

Fortunately, I did decide to take a look and pretty soon my jaw absolutely hit the floor. Although the Wall Street Journal didn’t play up the connection, I was stunned to see that of all the oligarchs connected to foreign governments who donated to the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State, Ukraine was at the very top. I thought this to be strange, but as I read on I just couldn’t believe how connected the main donor was to the current regime in power. Considering this is the main geopolitical hotspot on earth right now, many, many questions need to be asked.

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Baby Oligarch Gets a Wrist Slap – Conrad Hilton Cops Plea Deal for Smoking Pot in Plane Restroom and Threatening to Kill Flight Attendants

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 4.42.04 PMLast month, I wrote about the fact that Paris Hilton’s brother had engaged in extraordinarily disruptive and illegal behavior on an international flight. I didn’t cover this story because it was a matter of national importance, but because I knew that he wouldn’t be punished for what he did. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Americans are imprisoned every day for far less (see: Land of the Free: American Police Make an Arrest Every 2 Seconds in 2012).

I’m not saying that average Americans should be imprisoned for such offenses, rather, I’m pointing out the egregious injustice within the U.S. legal system, and the the fact that when you have as much money as Conrad Hilton, laws simply do not apply to you. Here’s an excerpt from that post, Little Oligarch Gone Wild – Paris Hilton’s Brother Yells: “I Will F*cking Own Anyone on This Flight; They Are F*cking Peasants:

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Neither Republicans nor Democrats Top 40% Favorability in Latest Gallup Poll for First Time Ever

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Over the past couple of months, I’ve launched a series of posts titled either “Hilary Clinton Exposed” or “Jeb Bush Exposed,” in order to call attention to the deplorable and embarrassing fact that the American citizenry is being set up to choose between two awful candidates, both from dynastic and corrupt political families.

One thing I’ve realized over the past half-decade or so, is how incredibly slow genuine political change can be. Societies can be well aware of how despicable, useless and criminal their so-called political “leaders” are, yet it still can take decades or more to usher in real, sustainable paradigm level change. This is sort of the curse of being aware and awake, but it’s a burden I and all of you reading this share together.

While I spend a lot of time on this site talking about concerning things happening around us, there’s certainly reason for optimism. Indeed, if I didn’t think that positive systemic change was not just possible, but probable, I wouldn’t bother doing this at all. Many people will read the news from Gallup about how neither the Republican nor Democrat party have greater than 40% favorability and say “who cares,” but I’ll tell you why I think it matters.

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Martin Armstrong Asks: “Rothschilds – Fact or Disinformation to Protect the Guilty?”

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 4.59.11 PMRegular Liberty Blitzkrieg readers will be aware that I very much enjoy reading the opinions of Martin Armstrong, a man with such an interesting and unique life story, I won’t even attempt to do it justice here. Not only have his major “macro turn dates” impressed me all the way back to my prior career on Wall Street, he doggedly refuses to limit his thinking to any type of narrow minded, dogmatic viewpoint, no matter what genre of viewpoint that may be. While I disagree with him on several issues, he tends to see the realities of the macro world around us from a perspective quite similar to my own. He doesn’t try to make world events fit into a predetermined viewpoint, but rather tries to look at each distinct global event or emerging meme with as little bias as possible.

Within the anti-establishment world in which I proudly reside, many people look for simplistic narratives. Ironically, these narratives are often as silly and narrow-minded as those who pledge allegiance to the fraudulent Republican or Democratic parties. For some, it’s the Jews. If you don’t think the Jews run the world and are the root of all evil, you must be a CIA shill or “working for them.” For others, it’s the Arabs or Muslims, and so on and so forth. Another bizarre obsession is this notion that a small group of families hiding in the shadows hold all the real money and power on earth, and that these are the ones actually ordering the billionaires around. The family most often named as the kingpins of this pyramid are the Rothschilds.

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Tax Breaks for Oligarchs – The $100 Million Manhattan Apartment with a Property Tax Rate of 0.017%

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 11.56.16 AMThe most disingenuous and sickening type of status quo defender is the person who blames the recent expansion in wealth inequality on a “lack of skilled workers.” Such a person is either a liar or an imbecile. There’s not much wiggle room there. Either this person doesn’t know that the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) lifts asset prices while doing very little for the economy, or he or she is choosing to ignore it. Either this person doesn’t understand that the poor and lower middle class don’t own much in the way of stocks or bonds, or he or she is choosing to ignore it.

Since QE has been far and away the most important variable impacting the economy and markets since the crisis, ignoring its impact on wealth inequality is simply unforgivable. Yet, it’s more than that. Much more. Many of the polices existing in these United States not only encourage foreign oligarch money laundering into luxury skyscrapers that remain empty, but our society seems to go out of its way to ensure they have to pay as little in property tax as possible. Indeed, tax polices don’t benefit the rich, they benefit the super rich.

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Sheldon Adelson – The Dangerous American Oligarch Behind Benjamin Netanyahu

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 11.10.33 AM“What are we going to negotiate about? What I would say is, ‘Listen, you see that desert out there? I want to show you something,'” Adelson said at Yeshiva University. “You pick up your cellphone, and you call somewhere in Nebraska, and you say, ‘okay, let it go.’ So there’s an atomic weapon goes over — ballistic missiles — in the middle of the desert that doesn’t hurt a soul.”

Adelson continued: “Then you say, ‘See? The next one is in the middle of Tehran.’ So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.

– From the Washington Post article: Adelson: Obama Should Fire Nuke to Send Message to Iran

That a handful of extraordinarily rich and powerful oligarchs as well as mega-corporations have completely hijacked the American political process is hardy news. It’s been the key topic of discussion here at Liberty Blitzkrieg and elsewhere for many years (see: New Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It: The U.S. is an Oligarchy).

What makes their control so effective is the use of an army of lobbyists, lawyers, Super PACs and bought and paid for politicians to do their dirty work, thus employing an opaque network of well-heeled minions created to conceal who is really pulling the strings.

Of all the commentary written about Netanyahu’s embarrassing political stunt in front of the U.S. Congress last week, the most important angle was largely overlooked. That is, it sort of represented a coming out party for the American oligarch from behind the curtain.

Sheldon Adelson, by all accounts a vile and violent sort of the worst kind, has made entirely controlling the Republican party his lifelong achievement. Additionally, and quite significantly to U.S. and Israeli citizens, Mr. Adelson has transformed himself into the puppet-master behind Benjamin Netanyahu. Just so there’s no misunderstanding about who Sheldon Adelson is, let’s revisit a post from last year titled, Inside the Mind of an Oligarch – Sheldon Adelson Proclaims “I Don’t Like Journalism”. Here’s an excerpt:

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Bernanke Wants the U.S. President to Declare “Economic Emergencies” in Future Crises

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.59.11 AMPresidents should get the power to declare economic emergencies along the lines to declare war, said former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday.

It might make sense to give “the president some ability to declare emergencies or take extraordinary actions and not put that all on the Fed,” Bernanke said at a conference. “The constitution gives the president significant flexibility to respond to military situations,” in part because they are chaotic, he noted.

“I am sure it is not politically possible, but it would be worth thinking about,” the former Fed chairman said.

– From the MarketWatch article: Presidents Should Be Able to Declare Economic Emergencies: Bernanke

For those of us who remain horrified and disgusted by the 2008-09 Federal Reserve and U.S. government bailout of the kleptocratic oligarchs who created the crisis, the above comments by the mastermind of this historic theft should be extremely concerning.

Although bankers and oligarchs got everything they wanted and more from the post crisis panic, what seems to bother Bernanke is that some of the response measures had to be pursued publicly. By calling for the U.S. President to declare economic emergencies in future crises, he is explicitly saying he doesn’t want Congress involved at all, even if just ceremonially. This man is a dyed in the wool fascist.

MarketWatch reports that:

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