Thursday, July 23, 2009

CounterPunch = ShadowBoxing

Jeff St Clair once again shows that he's out of his element in most every single subject on which he writes. This time, it's about AIG.

I refer to his latest at CounterPunch. Witness:
AIG, perhaps the most recklessly managed company in the world, was so thoroughly enmeshed in nearly every sector of the American—and even global—economy that to let it sunder would be to risk the crash of the nation.
Wrong, Jeffy.

AIG was actually the most aggressively conservative, self-protecting insurance entity on earth. And I know this because I used to work for them. Here is the AIG model of growth and stability:

1) price policies for maximum profit

2) aggressively deny and defend all claims

3) aggressively push state regulatory entities for leniency whenever AIG breached a state regulatory provision

4) invest premium income conservatively, on the whole -- meaning, any risky investments are countered with loss-proof stable positions in excess of the possible loss on any risky investment

5) thanks to Hank Greenberg's connections in US intelligence (primarily CIA), AIG got a lot of secure, replicating (renewing and expanding) business writing commercial coverages for CIA front companies

This is how it went from being a small brokerage under Cornelius VanderStarr to the international powerhouse it became under Maurice ("Hank") Greenberg.

If AIG ever got into any form of "financial trouble" then that trouble was fabricated as an accounting exercise, with actual profits being sent to offshore accounts where they'd remain safe for Hank Greenberg and the other major shareholders.

Here's St Clair again, stepping in a big pile of horse-shit:
All through the high-flying 90s, the AIG risk-swallowing business continued to defy gravity, posting amazing profits on ever more opaque financial confabulations. Then in 2002 came the first whiff of rot. AIG insiders told Michael Lewis that the decomposition began to gnaw away at the FP Division the very moment Cassano replaced his mentor Tom Savage as CEO of the subsidiary. Of course, this retrospective was almost certainly motivated in large measure by post-fall ass-covering. But there’s no question that Cassano was an abrasive personality and not, like many of the traders, an Ivy Leaguer with a DNA profile shaped by generations of old money.
I'm sure it feels good for St Clair, an aging "activist" lefty who despises all things that have a whiff of the GOP, to talk so condescendingly and informedly. But where is St Clair's insight here? He has deferred to Michael Lewis, a man who --like another fraud, Naomi Klein-- has built a profitable book-writing career on talking about his own favorite economic practices as if they are evil, but never renouncing those practices or overtly stating that the practices should be ended. Like Naomi Klein, Michael Lewis loves the money he makes from these nefarious practices and so he cannot bring himself to actually tell the truth about them. Why would he? His font of funds would cease to spring greenbacks!

The structure of AIG was one which would not allow the "financial products division" to destroy the whole company. Hank Greenberg would never allow such a thing to happen. Go back to the 5-point formula above, and then tell me where a greedy high-risk go-for-broke strategy in the FP division would be allowed. Please.

I'm sure Lewis & St Clair will counter this assertion by saying that New York's Atty Gen'l, Eliot Spitzer, had Hank Greenberg "removed from power" at AIG. This notion is comical. Hank Greenberg is the sort of tyrant who would not be removed from practical power no matter what on-paper happenings transpire. So if Spitzer had Greenberg removed on paper, you can be sure that Greenberg's power and influence remained in place. It's not hard to imagine. We all know that Mafia bosses can run their enterprises from prison cells. Dick Cheney and Dubya Bush ran operations in Iraq from Washington DC. Et cetera, et cetera.

The truth about AIG is a whole lot different than St Clair and Lewis would have us believe. The truth about AIG is this.

Hank Greenberg is the emperor of AIG. And he's old. And his sons wouldn't be suitable for running the company as he was doing, so he needed to find a buyer.

Unfortunately, AIG is an American company whose operations are premised on the strength of the American dollar. And the US Dollar has been tanking. So Hank couldn't get optimum acquisition pricing from the likely buyers -- Swiss and other European insurance conglomerates.

Luckily for Hank, AIG insured a lot of CIA front businesses, which means that Uncle Sam would hate to see the details of those businesses in the hands of a foreign insurance conglomerate. And those details would surely pass to whomever bought AIG.

But if Hank Greenberg could orchestrate a reason for Uncle Sam to "bail out" AIG, then what a coup! Hank would get high dollar pricing for his company if Uncle Sam was buying it. Uncle Sam wants to keep the CIA details hush-hush, of course.

So, like many of the other recipients of the Fed "bailout" money, AIG created a fraudulent set of books to make it appear as though "unexpected losses" dragged the company to fatal depths.

If Jeff St Clair had half a notion of how to do investigative journalism, he could have uncovered this shit.

But his writing is just to fan the flames of anger and antipathy in a prurient partisan pissing match between Democrats and Republicans.

Fuck Jeffrey St Clair, that fucking fraudulent phony.

Insurance is the economic lubricant of all global transactions. Commercial liability insurance policies gather all sorts of information on the commercial entity being insured. This information includes what types of risks the entity creates through its operations, and includes past legal and regulatory problems. Any entity writing commercial liability policies is in a position to see the dirt on whatever entity it either underwrites and insures, or at least provides a detailed quote for coverage.

This means AIG has a lot of dirt on a lot of commercial enterprises around the world. A lot of dirt. A phenomenal amount of dirt. And that dirt is valuable as "intelligence" -- valuable to entities like the CIA, the NSA, and all the military and quasi-military intel entities that operate on behalf of the USA and/or its most powerful individual and corporate citizens.

For Uncle Sam to now have possession of that information... well, I leave that to you, reader, to understand why that would be something that would make Uncle Sam salivate.

If Jeff St Clair knew anything about insurance, he could have sniffed this out quickly. But he doesn't know insurance. He knows only partisan pissing, and inflaming the Eternal Death Match of Donkey vs Elephant. In the case of AIG, he's trying to paste this one on Bush/Cheney. Or Geithner. Will we see St Clair lambaste the Saintly, Noble Democrats?


This is what Jeff St Clair does. He writes not to tell the truth, but to keep his income flowing. And that's why I say,

fuck Jeff St Clair.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

here's how it's done

Chris Floyd has a sniper's aim.

Yesterday we wrote about the sudden-onset amnesia of our media-political class concerning the officially confirmed operations of American death squads. As we noted, official Washington is in a minor flutter at the moment over reports that Dick Cheney ordered and then concealed the existence of a planned program of targeted assassinations -- a program which was supposedly never implemented and was then supposedly cancelled by Obama CIA chief Leon Panetta. We merely pointed out the well-known fact -- supported by copious reportage in mainstream journals in the past eight years, not to mention proud public admissions by top government officials, including the president -- that the CIA (and other agents of the United States government) had indeed been murdering people in "extrajudicial assassinations" throughout the Bush Administration.

I concentrated on state murder during the Bush years because that is the ostensible focus of the current, manufactured controversy over the alleged existence of one allegedly non-operational program. However, as Jeremy Scahill points out, the Bush-Cheney murder racket was not created ex nihilo, but was a continuation and refinement of murder programs initiated by Bill Clinton. Scahill also makes the pertinent observation that "extrajudicial assassination" -- known quaintly in the old days as murder most foul -- is continuing unabated under Barack Obama.
(emphasis mine)

It's time people got their heads out of the beautiful post-racism age exemplified by a (half-) Black man becoming POTUS. While our fellow Americans who maintain such a position want to believe in this view of where we are in America right now

in sad fact the truth is a whole lot closer to this being a more apt metaphor for America

and the first step toward realizing this ugly fact is dropping the stupid partisan ideology that imagines a Democrat, and especially a (half-) Black man who is a Democrat that has two Ivy League degrees and talks real articulate-like, can never do anything wrong, immoral, illegal, unethical, or simply out of base lizard-brain drives like greed or power-lust.

Here's the simple fact, people.

Barack Obama is just like Dubya Bush in every way that matters to an average American. Obama has duplicated and in some cases extended or solidified agenda items and policies of the Bush/Cheney Administrations.

The fact that Barack Hussein Obama is the child of university professors who were in a biracial marriage that was also bi-continental... and then went to two Ivy League schools and then taught law... yeah I know, this is the shit that your fantasies have been hoping for, that some articulate Black man would come forward and break down racial barriers. Yep, that's the fantasy that most of you entertained, admit it. You want America to have a better global image, you want it to move away from cowboy posturing. Right?

And so you'll allow the same god-damned illegality, unconstitutionality, immorality... the same fiscal plutocracy... the same business-lapdog approach to law and regulation enforcement... the same fascist approach begun under Clinton and maximized under Bush/Cheney (Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education? keeping Bush's Secretary of Defense? continuing to award "privatization" of military services to select contractors?).

You'll allow all that Hell to be created and fortified as long as you can brag about having an articulate Black man as President.

What morons you all are.

What sheer morons.

Hell truly is other people. In this situation, it's you ridiculous Obama fans. Wake the fuck up already.

I come full circle back to Chris Floyd. Several months ago he wrote an essay taking the Obamabots to task for their willful ignorance of Obama's acts that solidify and continue and even further items on the Bush/Cheney agenda. In that essay, Mr Floyd proposed a new test for Obamabots to use. And it's brilliant, really it is. It's brilliant because it's simple to remember, simple to use, and gives a simply true result that simply cannot be ignored or denied.

And here's the simple test.

What if Bush did it?

If you're an Obama fan and you used to criticize Dubya Bush for doing Z, saying X, voting B, attaching D as a signing statement... then you'd better start asking yourself about Obama's acts,

What if Bush did it?

The real goal here, people, is to finally see the political parties for what they are. They are a Janus. Two sides, same master. They may differ in rhetoric and appearance, they may seem to have different supporters who don't think or talk like you do, but the money controlling each party is pretty much of one mind where America's Federal policies are concerned.

There is no finer proof than the unfolding actions of the Obama/Biden Administration, which are serving the same sorts of interests that saw their positions furthered by Bush/Cheney. Wherever there appears to be a difference, that "difference" is a ruse, a stage prop, a deflection. For example, Obama pretends to be trying for "the National option" on health care, but his plan is no different than the intermediary-friendly pile of horse feces that Hillary Clinton proposed under husband Bill's first term.

Let me be more explicit by referring to health care.

As I used the term above, "intermediary-friendly" refers to legislation or its equivalent (an administrative program created by regulation or executive order) which serves those who step between the MD and the patient and take a chunk of the patient's fees. This may be a HMO, it may be a hospital, it may be a hospital's contractor for ambulance services, it may be a hospital's contractor for MRI readings. It may even be as remote as a manufacturer of expensive medical equipment like MRI machines.

Why do I call an MRI machine manufacturer an intermediary in health care costs? Those things are so expensive that they're not bought lump-sum as a routine expense. Their design intends a long-term interrelation, financially speaking, between the machine maker and the hospital or clinic that buys and uses the machine.

So what I'm saying is, a hospital needs the MRI machine manufacturer if it's going to bill you that exorbitant amount for the "routine MRI" they performed on you to rule out brain tumor in the case of your gout-afflicted toe.

Hillary Clinton's boondoggle was interested in taking money out of the hands of MDs and hospitals, and putting it in the hands of insurers and HMOs. The "national health care" angle was just the cover under which that game of hide-the-guilty was played.

If Barack Obama ends up signing anything on health care, I am wagering my entire life savings and current assets on the point that Obama's health care plan will not be anything more than a reshuffling of the deck even if it has a fantastic name, cool acronym, and/or impressive rhetoric through which Obama and his minions (including the fawning "news" media) will sell the package to America.
This was made clear when my senator, Max Baucus, shut 8 people out of a meeting to discuss health care proposals. Why did he shut them out? Because they wanted socialized medicine and were prepared to argue for it. Max, being a good footsoldier for the moneybags that fund the Democratic National Party and its ideolgical butler the Democratic Leadership Council, would not allow socialized medicine at the table. He is only in favor of taking money from one profit-puller and giving it to a different profit-puller. He is not interested in making health care more affordable.

He's not going to redistribute wealth or influence in a way that affects me or most of my friends in a positive way. That's what I'm saying. He's not going to level any playing fields here in America. He's going to keep giving the game away as a friendly charade, giving it away to the money men who control both the Elephants and the Donkeys.
Two faces, same master.

Just like Janus.

Who was Janus? Here's Wikipedia:
In Roman mythology, Janus (or Ianus) was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnants in modern culture are his namesakes: the month of January, which begins the new year, and the janitor[citation needed], who is a caretaker of doors and halls. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions.
Caretaker of doors and halls? Janitor?

Hell, that's pretty ironic!

Friday, July 10, 2009

cockeyed cockburn

Alexander Cockburn's latest is a big apology for Obama -- basically saying Obama is noble, but is being undone by the vulgar Biden.

This angle is something Cockburn does whenever he needs mainstream support from Donklebot "progressives" and "liberals" -- he ignores reality in favor of a palatable fantasy that will endear the pwoggies and lib-wools to Sweet Alex and his Sugary Shilling.

Someone should remind Cockburn that Obama chose Biden with full knowledge of Biden's traits. But more importantly, someone should remind Cockburn that a close examination of Obama reveals that Obama is no different than Biden, apart from being more "articulate" and therefore able to cloak his imperialist and corporatist fantasies in a bland, pwog-pleasing and lib-loving manner.

Of course this pwog-pleasing and lib-loving really amounts to nothing more than smiley faces painted on bombs and bullets and missiles and rockets and drones.

Remind me please, Mr Alexander Cockburn, when Our Hallowed Obamessiah has done anything other than be a slick salesman for corporate America's desires for imperial majesty?

Oh? What's that? You haven't any evidence that he's done those other things?

Of course not. Of course you haven't.

One cannot have what does not exist.