A Meditation: Who Are You?

[NB: Byline check, thanks./~Rayne]

I’ve had this tune stuck in my head for days now while pondering existential crises in the U.K. and the U.S. as well as the full-blast firehose of news this week. Though a British band, The Who asked the right question giving me pause.

The capper in the course of my meditations —  of all bloody things — was this fragment from a speech given late last November by that well-known survivor Rod Rosenstein:

… I visited the nation of Armenia in 1994, just as it was emerging from seven decades of Soviet domination. I gave a talk about public corruption at the University of Yerevan. After I finished, a student raised his hand. He asked me, “If you cannot pay bribes in America, how do you get electricity?”

It was a pragmatic question that illustrated how that young man had learned to think about his society. Corruption may start small, but it tends to spread like an infection. It stifles innovation, fuels inefficiency, and inculcates distrust of government.

We aim to prevent corruption. …

Both this snippet and The Who’s tune brought to mind another couple memorable exchanges I’ve had in the past with co-workers from abroad. One chap I’ll call PDV lived in the Netherlands and loved to visit the U.S., coming over at least once a year to marvel at the profusion of choices we had.

It was early 2000, well before the election, and I remember PDV telling me that one thing he really enjoyed about the U.S. was our freedom. I laughed because I thought he meant the myriad beers he giddily described being offered in one of our chain restaurants, or the ridiculous number of choices in dried pasta in an American grocery store, both of which he had remarked upon in our previous chats.

“No,” he told me. “Your society is free. When you go to the airport there are no dogs, no military personnel except travelers, no police armed to the teeth like military.”

And now we take our goddamned shoes off, allow our bodies to be scanned, tolerate the armed personnel with dogs as if we were sheep being herded.

The other co-worker from overseas I didn’t know as well. We communicated less frequently, I think in part because he felt less connected to the rest of the global business. It made sense; he was in South Africa, nearly half the globe away from my location. I tried to make him feel comfortable during his visit to the U.S. – this was in 2000 – but the smallish company town in which my facility was located wasn’t yet up to world standards.

Not a place one could easily find rusks for breakfast let alone crumpets.

What struck him as odd when he visited was our openness. Not just the manner in which we greet each other, especially here in flyover country where our passive-aggressiveness is well hidden beneath our Midwest niceness.

When I asked him to explain what he meant he said, “You leave everything out.” We didn’t take in our outdoor patio furniture or our grills. We didn’t lock up our personal effects. He said it wasn’t like that where he lived in Johannesburg at the time; if anything was left outside, it disappeared.

I didn’t have anything to say to that. I couldn’t imagine living in such a suffocating fashion.

And yet now years later I have to monitor everything I do with my electronic devices, hide my traffic with various tools, avoid cameras and Blueray and other IoT devices to prevent losing personal information. No one’s stolen my bike from my porch or my gas grill from my deck but somebody knows my age, name, location and they’ve sold it repeatedly without my express permission.

Who are you? the song asks. Somebody knows, and it’s worth a fortune to them; they’ve stolen that information.

~ ~ ~

It wasn’t The Who that entrenched the question into my brain pan. It was the other way around, a moral and ethical question which wouldn’t leave me alone as I watched miserable wretch after miserable wretch compromise themselves this past week.

The question may even have started to embed itself when I revisited Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations  this last month and asked, What is Rudy Giuliani?

He’s not ‘America’s Mayor’ – unless America has become a bat shit insane and lawless place.

He was there at the scene in 2001 when our collective consciousness was hacked and we began to destroy our open society with a police state.

Is this who we are, weak-willed and servile, giving up our freedoms for the illusion of safety and security, failing to question to whom we yield these freedoms?

Because Rudy Giuliani is among the last people we should seek as an authority on security. He is wholly corrupt, the very thing we should be avoiding if we are a free and open society. He conducts his business in the dark, without oversight, which is appealing to a certain kind of client, abusing the faith and trust some have awarded him by simply surviving the demands 9/11/2001 placed on him as a mayor.

In retrospect perhaps he survived not because he was good but because he was so very bad. We have to ask ourselves what didn’t survive but should have had better leaders with integrity lead us through that time.

Did we really survive?

~ ~ ~

2000 and 2010 did serious damage to us; our country arrived at a fork in the road and it took the turn for the worse. Imagine if instead we had refused to accept the SCOTUS appointment of George Bush in 2000 as president. Imagine if our nascent government surplus had become a means for providing health care for all. Imagine if President Al Gore had been able to promulgate his intended policies to halt climate change.

2010 exacerbated the damage begun in 2000 with the aggressive gerrymandering of states so that the public’s true desires were suppressed at the polls in subsequent elections. We have become a nation in thrall to an oppressive minority, one which is willingly corrupted in order to retain its power over what was the largest economy in the world. Gains made for personal freedom have been few and squelched whenever possible.

We are not the government now in place; they do not truly represent America. They are what a rigged system created by corruption permits us.

What is left of us?

~ ~ ~

Which brings me to that question beating a tattoo in my head: Who are you?

By you I mean the person in the mirror. I mean the persons reading this post, which is in itself another mirror. I mean us, the plural you, the collective we, us.

Who are we?

We aim to prevent corruption, said Rosenstein, and yet I have no faith in this statement from him. I can’t see what he has done to prevent what is happening around us now, a steadily increasing occupation by a transnational organized crime syndicate masquerading as a political party, in league with other crime syndicates abroad which are proxies for hostile nations.

I can’t see how his boss Bill Barr is doing anything to prevent corruption, especially when he perverts and corrupts the First Amendment by claiming from a podium that secularism causes increasing drug use after meeting with the head of a pro-Republican media organization. Not to mention his own role in obstructing justice with his gross misrepresentation of the Special Counsel’s report and his lies to the Senate before that during his confirmation hearing.

I don’t see how our law enforcement is stopping a slide toward a wholly transactional society, when Trump can admit to soliciting foreign aid for his personal benefit on camera with an implied return and our top law enforcement and Senate leadership do nothing but blink like deer in the headlights, offering mealy-mouthed platitudes instead of adherence to ethics and faithful application of the law.

The easier question may be who are we not. I hope we are not these corrupt functionaries holding the places meant for persons with real ethics.

We aim to prevent corruption, Rosenstein said. Note how he didn’t say we stop corruption.

If you read the rest of his speech you’ll note he focused on disproportionate and inefficient enforcement, working on consistency to avoid “piling on” in relation to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

And yet here we are, nearly a year later, digging through a mound of corruption, staring at multiple acts of bribery or extortion as well as violations of federal election laws.

Does this look like we’ve aimed to prevent corruption? Had it not been for a determined and concerned whistleblower we might never have realized there was the possibility of rampant corruption here and overseas involving the White House.

Is this who we are, a nation whittled away down to one brave person who felt their personal ethics required more of them than to simply allow this to continue unchecked?

~ ~ ~

My social media timeline is filled with people who are upset about Trump’s agreement with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. We do not know the terms of the agreement, only that Trump has consented to Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria to attack the Kurds. There is no apparent benefit to the U.S. and definitely no benefit to the Kurds obtained — The Art of the Deal at work once again.

We can’t rule out there was another quid pro quo involved in this agreement because Trump has properties and businesses inside Turkey, having failed to divest them to avoid conflicts of interest.

ISIS members have escaped because their Kurdish captors have been attacked.

There are atrocities recorded – non-combatants including multiple children killed, a human right activist murdered. Our own troops have been pinned down under Turkish attacks, ordered to stand down and not fire back nor protect the Kurds who have been our allies.

We are both collateral damage and party to war crimes. We have been led into this by a man who is corruptly compromised.

Is this who we chose to be?

~ ~ ~

Every day is a chance to make a new choice, to pick a different way forward. Most of us believe we choose every day not to be a society like the one Rosenstein alluded to in his speech, a place where corruption has infected our thinking and we accept it as a way of life.

(Though I refer to him I’m not at all convinced Rosenstein is above a banal form of corruption by complacency. Someone should ask him if merely surviving is enough, if that’s all he wants for an epitaph on his tombstone: He was a survivor – until now.)

I can’t imagine having to arrange to bribe someone to order a service or product, but we do already accept applications on our phones which direct us to goods or services based on payments those providers made to the application developer. When is this a service versus a system of bribery and extortion?

I can’t imagine bribing a school to obtain an education for myself or my children, and yet some people have and do though only a few have been caught out and punished for it, and nominally at that. When does it become commonplace for bribes to be paid in education, or to punish the well-meaning ineligible voter far more harshly than those who engage in bribes?

I couldn’t imagine compromising on the ideal of one citizen, one vote. Yet I know I didn’t get engaged to deter this ideal’s collapse until too late in my own state. It was like a slow-motion train wreck watching a GOP majority legislator elected to office only to trash the idea of a representative republic right here, up close and personal. It’s not as if they were brilliant; I participated in a debate with our local GOP state representative who proved he was as dumb as a box of rocks. But corruption isn’t smart – it’s persistent, determined, ruthless, and often has the money their ethical opponents don’t. Smart didn’t overcome this, expecting everyone to play by the Marquess of Queensbury’s rules in a bloody street brawl.

I should know better now, having become an activist while watching our slide toward fascism after 9/11; engaged in tracking the tech industry only to find it riddled with misogynist and hebephilic scum. And yet a lack of imagination kept me from seeing the big picture.

I couldn’t imagine living in a country where our leaders openly talk about their own corrupt practices on television, ask for foreign interference in our democracy for personal benefit, and the people don’t take to the streets like they did in South Korea or Romania.

Yet here we are – me, typing away at my keyboard, you reading these pixels. Neither of us in the streets as they are in Hong Kong, fighting to preserve what’s left of their democracy.

Who are we?

Who are you?

Boomtown Blues Trash Talk

As the kids are wont to say, that was a hell of a week, and I’m only talking about Thursday and Friday. Also, too, there seems to be a second IC whistleblower on the horizon, per the NY Times. Things are happening fast, and in real time.

First up is the collegiate athletics. By the way, I honestly think all the Fair Pay to Play acts are, well, not good. They will give a very select small few rights to earn big money, and be seen as different by all the other college athletes that will never benefit. It is a caste system, and empowerment of the 1% off of Wall Street and onto the NCAA landscape. That is not a good thing.

Here is a piece by Michael McCann at the newly decimated Sports Illustrated, that I actually agree with. If Fair Pay to Play is to be enacted, it is absolutely necessary that it be done on a national basis, not a bogus piecemeal state by state basis, as some over aggressive voices are pushing. If you are going to do it, do it right. Join the national effort, not just try to make a name for yourself in your particular state.

Fair Pay to Play Acts are really ratifying that only a select few will ever profit off of the toils of the many. And the only recipients will be, with very few exceptions, in only football and basketball. The theory is not as evil as the result it will create. Irrespective of that merits discussion though, the siren song of state fame seems to be stronger for some noisy advocates than joining in a legitimate national plan. Shocker!

Alright, back to actual college football. It is a rather weak week for interesting games. Iowa at Michigan may be one of the best,and that is pretty telling. The best game is, arguably, Auburn at Florida. Jim White’s Gators have been a bit of a surprise, while Auburn was maybe larger on the preseason radar. The game is in the Swamp, which is huge for Florida. Auburn seems for real this year though, on both sides of the ball. That is the one game I will be truly watching. Mostly a whole lot of nothing after that this week.

As to the Pros: The Squawks beat the Rams in a great Thursday Night game. Off the top of my head, I think the Thursday Night football this year is already of a better quality than past years. Scribe said Vontaze Burfict should be banned from the NFL. I did not necessarily disagree, because his miscreant conduct goes back to college, and he played a couple of years here for the Sun Devils. He is a bad character, banning was arguably a fair result. Instead he will be suspended for the remainder of the year.

The Patriots have a lot of injuries, but they are playing the Skins, who are simply, and totally, fucked. Washington will be starting Colt McCoy, who may actually be their best option. If the Cards and Kyler Murray cannot beat the Bungles, they may not win a game this year.

The game that may be the most interesting is Tampa Bay at New Orleans. Teddy Bridgewater is no Drew Brees, but the Saints are seriously good, and playing at their home dome. Give Jameis Winston a smidgen of credit though, he is markedly better under Bruce Arians’ tutelage. This could be an excellent game. Vikes at Gents could be interesting, even though irrelevant mostly.

In a nod to Scribe’s coming comments, the Ravens at Steelers should be very interesting. Mason Rudolph did well last week; the Ravens not so much in a blowout loss to Baker Mayfield and the Brownies. Two different styles, and two teams that really don’t like each other. Excellent!

Green Bay at Dallas you would think would be a great game. But, even though I am a lifelong Pack fan, this is a tough road to hoe. Have to favor the ‘Boys. Lastly, the MNF game of Cleveland versus Niners in Santa Clara (yeah, that is still a dumbass location for the Niners to be playing in; what a joke), could be very good. Mayfield versus Garrapolo. Both teams are really looking up this year. Edge to SF though. I think…..

This week’s music is Boomtown Blues by Bob Seger, and it is from an under-appreciated early 80’s album, The Distance. Not sure what made me think of it, I have not thrown that album on the turntable for years, but here we are. Making Thunderbirds is also a truly killer cut on The Distance.

Since blowing the whistle is all the rage currently, I am including a second Seger cut, Let It Rock, this from the much earlier Bob Seger System, and it is an old song originally credited to Edward Anderson. Thing is, Edward Anderson was an early pseudonym for the one and only Chuck Berry. Seger’s version is awesome.

Rock on folks.

Three Things: Kavanaughhh

It’s absolutely ridiculous Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. It’s only more clear over time that he shouldn’t have been. Were Congress not under #MoscowMitch McConnell’s stranglehold as senate majority leader, Kavanaugh would be impeached — his lies alone are adequate reason.

~ ~ ~

We’re revisiting this dreadful wretch because The New York Times published an article this weekend about him.

[Screenshot: The New York Times]


The piece, written by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, contains new reported content validating Deborah Ramirez’s claim that the now-seated Supreme Court jurist Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while she was a student at Yale.

Of course the NYT can’t publish this to the front page where it belongs; it filed it under ‘News Analysis’ as you can see in the screenshot above, in their Opinion section of the Sunday Review.

A report of sexual assault on a woman, validated by multiple witnesses, is just an opinion. Entertaining reading on a Sunday morning over coffee in bed.

What utter goddamn bullshit.

Of course the NYT can’t leave that insult on its own. They must further buff this turd by turning this reported piece about a man who has serially assaulted women and lied repeatedly into a diversity piece, making the focus about Ramirez fitting into an Ivy League school.

Ramirez fit in just fine. Yale, however, should answer why it allowed abusive liars like Kavanaugh roam its halls, undermining the scholarship of women around him. The headline on this story should have reflected this problem which is comparable to MIT’s Epstein problem.

Why have highly-ranked universities allowed predators anywhere near students for decades?

And then the pièce de résistance: the tweet promoting this “opinion” piece.

Whoever drafted this now-deleted tweet needs to be interviewed by NYT’s management. They should be worried about an employee who so easily characterizes a form of sexual assault as “harmless fun.” A tweeted apology will only gloss over a deeper problem.

That it made it onto Twitter and wasn’t removed until there was an outcry may explain why NYT has done such a crappy job covering Kavanaugh up to this piece. The paper could have done the legwork Pogrebin and Kelly did to validate Ramirez’s and other accusers’ claims but they didn’t. But NYT didn’t because it’s the kind of news organization which only sees a drunken frat boy’s sexual assaults as “harmless fun.”

~ ~ ~

And then the storm troopers came out to defend their poor little Kavanaugh now that the public has been reminded he’s serially assaulted women and lied repeatedly, meriting impeachment.

Last evening The Federalist’s Sean Davis attacked a witness who validated Ramirez’s claim.

Los Angeles Times’ Jackie Calmes rebutted this morning:

Following Davis, The Federalist’s MZHemingway came out to play character assassination:

Note the time — that’s 11:58 p.m. EDT *. What’s so important that The Federalist’s editors are tweeting on a Saturday evening after the NYT published an Opinion piece in the Sunday Review section?

One might wonder if this wrecking crew had a head’s up this piece might be published over the weekend; they published an article last week attacking Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

Although a piece on/related to Kavanaugh in The Federalist isn’t much of a surprise; they’ve published 371 articles mentioning him or about him to date.

null

If they were paid by the piece they made some bank on Kavanaugh.

But The Federalist still does not publish information about its funding. The public can’t determine if there is a conflict of interest in whatever this conservative outlet produces on Kavanaugh and the jurist himself.

~ ~ ~

While partisan volleys over the NYT’s piece, witness bashing, and victim blaming continues, we still don’t know who paid off Kavanaugh’s massive credit card debt.

We have no idea if any case in front of this current Supreme Court has been decided to the benefit of whoever bought Kavanaugh.

We can’t trust Kavanaugh’s filings about his personal finances because he hasn’t the receipts and he’s lied repeatedly.

Kavanaugh needs to go for these reasons alone. But there is one more extremely important reason he needs to be removed from the SCOTUS.

He’s the single biggest reason current House Democrats cannot rely on bringing any of the unsatisfied subpoenas before the SCOTUS.

The unanimous Supreme Court decision in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), by which Richard Nixon was forced comply with a Congressional subpoena to give up damning audio tapes, was the most critical point of the impeachment process against Nixon. The court said there was no “absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.”

In essence, the president is not above the law. They cannot withhold materials responsive to a subpoena because of a general interest in confidentiality.

Kavanaugh has said he believes United States v. Nixon was wrongly decided, however, in spite of a unanimous decision.

If he believes the SCOTUS can’t weigh in on a dispute between two co-equal branches, he’s allowing the president to run unchecked — above the law.

We can’t trust the logic of a serial liar, ostensibly owned by some unknown party, with a habit of ignoring a lack of consent.

~ ~ ~

Treat this as an open thread.

(* I’m not sharing a link because I’m not driving traffic to any of The Federalist’s team. Attention = money and I’m not giving them any more than I have to.)

Commuting Blago’s Wildly Excessive Sentence Would Be Right For Trump To Do

Another poster at the Emptywheel blog, okay, it may be Emptywheel herself, has today posted a very interesting take, and I think a good one, on the intersection of Jim Comey, Pat Fitzgerald and Rod Blagojevich.

If Trump were to commute Blago’s sentence…..it would be one of the few pardon power actions he has taken that would be justified.

The other was, obviously, the woman Kim Kardashian talked him into commuting.

Don’t get me started about governance by reality show/sex tape idiots like Kimye, but still that was good.

Here is the thing though. Hate on Rod Blagojevich all you want. Laugh at him all you want. Sure, all that is good and proper.

What was not, however, was his sentence. Judge James Zagel got a bug up his ass and sentenced Blago to twice as much time as was possibly appropriate for his purported offenses. There is a long history of Illinois Governors, criminal charges, and prison. But no sentence remotely like Zagel gave Blago.

Then there was Bob McDonnell of Virginia, who ended up not ever serving a day on things that were, mostly, more obvious pay to play corruption than Blago. Also, there was Don Siegelman, who arguably met potential charging elements, even if they were mostly innocuous acts, and who was only ever charged because of a Rove/Cheney effort to insure the same. Siegelman got just over six years.

Don’t get me started about Bob Menendez. The point being, even if Blago was corrupt, needed to be found guilty, and needed to be sentenced…..The sentence of 14 years Zagel gave Mr. Blagojevich was insane and ludicrous.

As big of a narcissistic and useless asshole as Trump is, he would be right to commute the insanely over sentenced punishment Zagel gave to Rod Blagojevich.

People, especially the more liberal than not among us, constantly scream for criminal justice reform. Abolish cash bail (a good thought, but one with far different and deeper implications than you think as Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice has noted), less incarceration, shorter sentences, better programs for those incarcerated. End the death penalty. Less solitary confinement. Etc. All good things.

But part and parcel of all of it is recognizing crazy stupid sentences too. Blago is pretty much a joke of a historical character. Fine. He was never Public Enemy Number One either. His sentence from Zagel was outrageous. If Trump is willing to commute it, he should, and that should be cheered.

But, because of pushback from the very same people that usually scream and squawk, and rightfully so, about criminal justice reform when it is not one of their pet pariahs, i.e. people on the left and, here, Blago, Trump will certainly chicken out from doing the right thing. Because Trump doesn’t know the facts, and he is a pussy that is too easily grabbed by Republicans and, in this case, bullshit liberals too.

Free Blago. It needs to be done.

Clear The Shelters Day Is August 17

Yes, I know I do not write enough lately. I may return to the absolutely faux impeachment shenanigans Nadler is perpetrating soon, we shall see. Those caveats aside, there are some important real life things going on this weekend

The Clear The Shelters day is coming this weekend on August 17. It is an awesome and worthy effort. Please give it consideration and a try. You will get a new family member and enjoy unconditional love, even if there is the traditional pet rambunctiousness.

Marcy has been fantastic, forever, in adoption doggies. I will fully admit to being bad in this regard because many decades ago (no I will not say how many, because it is a lot), a college roommate in Boulder brought home a Samoyed puppy. I fell in love with and, upon return to Arizona, I got a Sammy. The third in succession, Kiki, is still alive and kicking, though quite old. I stubbornly stuck with kind of a rare dog that you don’t find at the shelter. Our dogs have been fantastic. But dogs are almost always fantastic, and saving them is truly a wonderful and admirable act.

So, I have not done so well at adopting and rescuing dogs. Yet. But, hopefully, that will change with the next critter.

But you can.

Saturday August 17, 2019, is Clear The Shelters Day. You feel low about all the outrageous bunk going on in America, much less the world lately? A pup will help you deal with it. Pups are universal, and they will love you as much as you love them, if not more.

Go get a pup, and Clear The Shelters.

On a parting note, I’d like to commend and support the effort that Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda are doing in Brazil to not only rescue dogs, but homeless people as well. It is a fantastic thing. And, done correctly, maybe something that could, and should, be done here in the United States.

OPEN THREAD: Everything Else Not about Robert Mueller

[Please check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Though today will probably be nutzo with Mueller hearing content, we need a place to capture everything else going on.

Let me repeat: this is everything else NOT about Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) investigation and resulting report which will be addressed in a House Judiciary Committee hearing today.

I’ll kick this off with a few things I’ve had on my desktop. Caution: may contain speculation.

~ ~ ~

This is tangential to the Special Counsel’s investigation, but not a direct part of it.

Former Trump campaign adviser George Nader, who testified before the SCO, may also be prosecuted in New York as well as by the feds in Virginia:

I don’t recommend reading the government’s motion opposing Nader’s release on bond linked in her thread unless you have a strong constitution. I couldn’t stomach it. Judge Leonie Brinkema denied his release, thank goodness.

Nader was indicted last Friday when charges filed in April 2018 related to transporting a minor in 2000 for the purposes of sex and for possession of child pornography were unsealed. The charges had remained sealed while Nader cooperated with the SCO investigation.

He had been arrested in early June at JFK International airport in New York when he returned after complications from heart surgery.

I assume whatever was found at JFK voided any immunity agreement, as well it should.

At some point we need a society-wide discussion about the confluence of men whose proclivities deny consent to those with less power. It’s this issue I want us to address — it’s entwined with the anti-democratic movement.

~ ~ ~

I really hate to think about Alan Dershowitz at all let alone about his sex life. But didn’t anybody notice the weird caveat last week when he spoke about his love life last week Thursday?

“I have had sex with one woman since the day I met Jeffrey Epstein. I challenge David Boies to say under oath that he’s only had sex with one woman during that same period of time. He has an abnormal amount of chutzpah to attack me and challenge my perfect, perfect sex life during the relevant period of time …”

This guy can play all kinds of word games, right? He parses like crazy. So why didn’t he say I’ve only had sex with my wife/life partner [insert her name because she’s a human being]?

And yet we know he’s admitted to receiving therapeutic massage at pedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s place. Was he prevaricating about the meaning of the word ‘sex’ as Bill Clinton once did?

Not kink shaming sex between consenting adults, but that’s my point — were any these ‘massages’ or not-sex-sex with some other person actually with a non-consenting human? Like a minor?

Really wonder if it would be beneficial to go through the body of Dershowitz’ work with an eye to his opinions with regard to consent by individuals with less power in a given situation.

~ ~ ~

Deutsche Bank (DB) is in a world of hurt. It’s trying to downsize and reorganize in a big fat hurry, expecting to shed as many as 18,000 jobs over the next 2-3 years.

It’s also clients and deposits, hemorrhaging nearly a billion dollars a day after the bank announced it was exiting prime brokerage.

Now DB is trying to shed a problematic client, Jeffrey Epstein, whose accounts are like a mythic hydra. Lop off the known accounts and a bunch more unknown pop up.

DB has submitted Suspicious Activity Reports a number of times on Epstein’s accounts’ transactions; while not all activity triggering a SAR may be illicit, this is Epstein we’re talking about.

Timing is also rather interesting — check this excerpt from the NYT:

In 2015 and 2016, anti-money laundering compliance officers in Deutsche Bank’s offices in New York and Jacksonville, Fla., raised a variety of concerns about the work the bank was doing with Mr. Epstein. The employees were concerned that the bank’s reputation could be harmed if it became public that Mr. Epstein was a client, according to the three people familiar with the relationship.

Huh. What an interesting overlap with the U.S. 2016 campaign season. This, too, was interesting:

In addition, the compliance officers on at least one occasion noticed potentially illegal activity in one of Mr. Epstein’s accounts, including transactions in which money was moving outside the United States, two of the people said. The compliance officers produced a so-called suspicious activity report, but it is unclear whether the report was ever filed with the Treasury Department’s financial-crimes division.

Despite the compliance officers’ misgivings, the bank continued to do extensive business with Mr. Epstein.

What’s the bottleneck? Did corruption inside DB prevent Epstein from being discovered earlier than last fall’s investigative reporting by the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown? Did any of these banking transactions mirror human trafficking transactions?

Will we ever know or will this all quietly go away?

~ ~ ~

There will be a separate post for the Mueller hearing today. Please take all Mueller hearing related content to that thread, thanks. This is an open thread.

A Feud for Fun and Profit

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

I was doing my usual day’s end wrap up routine — shutting off the lights, checking the windows, reading the headlines to make sure the planet hadn’t blown up before I shut off my computer.

And this bullshit came up at Google News, just below the Epstein-Acosta coverage:

I’ve seen in my Twitter feed all day the hullabaloo about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ chief of staff’s remarks and the subsequent flurry of feedback between different factions among the House Democrats. Some of it is hotly reactionary, some of it is measured, and a lot of it swings wildly in between.

But that snapshot of my Google News front page is EXACTLY what the real problem is: the internecine conflict is a fulcrum on which the right-wing and foreign agents can act to divide the party at a time when it can least afford it.

And the right-wing media like Fox News is using that same point for its own amusement and profit.

Even neutral-to-left media is using the tensions to gin up clicks and increase readership.

They have zero interest in the manifold crises on which the entire spectrum of Democrats — from stick-in-the-mud conservadems to hot-under-the-collar progressives — must work together. The media is only in this for fun and profit.

Meanwhile there’s a wholly corrupt, malignant narcissist intent on undermining everything on which our country was founded. House Democrats need to quit their circular firing squad and get their heads together. They need to focus on that wretch and the debris field he’s making of our nation instead of allowing themselves to be used as a profit center by the media.

Focus on the fact only 86 House Dems have committed to supporting an impeachment inquiry. ~132 more votes are needed to pass a resolution kicking off the process.

We are now nearly 191 days into the 116th Congressional term. Trump continues to lock up children in cages and take babies from their parents at the border, leaving them in concentration camp conditions which wouldn’t be tolerated for dogs. He continues to trash the Constitution from threatening war to ignoring Supreme Court decisions. That an impeachment inquiry hasn’t already been launched reflects badly on the entirety of House Democrats, from Speaker Pelosi to the 2018 Blue Wave freshmen.

~ ~ ~

This weekend I have a couple of voters staying with me who identify as independents. They tend to vote for Democrats but they won’t commit to being Democrats. They’re 25 years old, college-educated, and they actually watched the Democratic presidential candidates debates a couple weeks ago, rushed home from work to make sure they caught both nights in full.

These young people are fed up. They’re worried, angry, disgusted. They want real and rational leadership, especially because they’re deeply concerned about the pace of climate change.

They are NOT impressed by the inability of House Democrats to pull themselves into a cohesive cohort to stop Trump.

The more senior House Dems need to understand social media presence and follower count may not convert to votes on the House floor now, but these convert to votes in primaries next year. They convert to many small donations online between now and November 2020 as well as shoe leather when canvassing and GOTV matter. These two independents visiting me are exactly the people who’ll be persuaded by what they read in their Twitter feed and watch at YouTube; they have the disposable income to make regular donations. They’re not impressed by representatives who suck up to corporations over individuals especially when there’s campaign donations involved. They’re impressed by accessible representatives who do their homework and then do their best to ensure government oversight.

They want House Democrats to get their act together and stop Trump.

None of the tweeted and reported bullshit I saw being slung between House Democrats gets them any closer to doing what the 2018 Blue Wave told Democrats needed to be done. I don’t have a good explanation for these young voters as to when House Dems will pull out of their navel-gazing spiral. I can only hope it’s soon.

This is an open thread.

OPEN THREAD: FIFA Women’s World Cup Final — U.S. vs. Netherlands

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

FIFA Women’s World Cup Final will be played today, Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET/5:00 p.m. CET at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France.

U.S. meets the Netherlands which won playoff match 50 against Sweden this past Wednesday in extra time, 1-0.

Megan Rapinoe is expected to start; she was unable to play in match 49 against England due to a minor hamstring injury.

This is Netherlands’ second World Cup competition; the final pits them against three-time World Cup champions.

I’ll add links here to scoring and any alternative live feeds I can find as soon as FIFA updates information on the match so that sports news outlets can access it. The match will be streamed on Fox Sports and Telemundo.

CBS Sports shared a link to FuboTV which will stream the final live. You can watch it on FuboTV if you sign up for a free trial. Kind of funny that CBS is promoting a streaming partner since it doesn’t have the license for FIFA WWC itself.

There are two men’s finals scheduled for exactly the same time slot, by the way, one attributed to a “clerical error.” This is total bullshit, yet another typical patriarchal erasure of women.

In anticipation of the match you might check out these articles:

Netherlands beat Sweden, will face U.S. in final

The USWNT will play the Netherlands in the World Cup final. Here’s what you need to know

Opinion: Messages matter, and teams in World Cup final send good one with female coaches by Nancy Armour, USAToday

So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend by Sue Bird

I helped spark the Rapinoe-Trump war. Trust me, put your money on the soccer star by David Hirshey, LAT

Opinion: USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe is living her patriotism at World Cup. What’s your excuse? by Nancy Armour, USAToday

UPDATE — 11:34 a.m. —

The Guardian has a live coverage page for the match.

Here’s the Twitter Moments page for the match.

In Order to Form a More Perfect Union

Last year when I wrote a post for the Fourth of July holiday I shared the full text of the Declaration of Independence.

Since that post our country slid increasingly backwards toward an autocratic monarchy, losing sight of the reasons why this nation’s founders threw off a long train of abuses and usurpations, dissolving the American colonies’ relationship with Britain.

Today in our streets fought for and paved by the American people, a belligerent, petty and abusive tyrant who obtained and holds his office by questionable means will have the military parade he has envied other autocrats.

Across town his minions in the so-called Department of Justice will continue to chip away at the Constitution in search of some means to deny to persons within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws in the execution of the 2020 U.S. Census.

And persons of color who’ve fled to the U.S. seeking asylum from violence will continue to suffer inhumane treatment at the hands of federal employees who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution including the same equal protection spelled out in the Fourteenth Amendment.

(Do take note there have been no raids by ICE ejecting white birth tourists like the Russians in Florida. No Congressional caucuses will find these birth parents in American concentration camps.)

Noting the grim slide we should recall this holiday has always been aspirational. It may mark the day when the republic’s birth began but this nation has always been in a state of becoming.

We have yet to form a perfect union; we can only work toward perfecting it.

To this end it’s worth revisiting this year a historic address by Frederick Douglass delivered on July 5, 1852 — nine years before the Civil War began, when the country was 76 years old. He did not stint when reminding his audience the holiday observed meant little to slaves:

… What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival. …

Our shouts of patriotic fervor ring hollow today when one thinks of the undenounced tyrant occupying our White House making a mockery of this nation of laws through his numerous frauds and manifold obstructions while willfully, shamelessly persecuting helpless children and their families, and ignoring the thousands of American deaths he has caused through his bad faith execution of office. Revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, indeed.

As grim as things are today, it cannot be more so than it was for Douglass who could not know as he spoke that it would be another thirteen years before slaves would be emancipated, or that it would be another 113 years before the Voting Rights Act would pass Congress, to secure the right to vote for persons of color.

Or that we would still be fighting voter suppression of minority voters 167 years later even this week as the Supreme Court failed to protect minority voters’ rights and the same petty tyrant rejects his oath to protect and defend the Constitution including its Census of all persons.

Somehow Douglass, an escaped slave himself, remained optimistic:

… Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. …

What lies ahead is not as dark and unknown as that which lay before Douglass in July 1852. We have seen better if not perfect. It can be had again and improved upon with a re-dedication to the principles the founders laid out in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.

We must recall our nation’s identity began with a shared belief that we are all created equal, that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Seeking to establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, we instituted a government to secure our inalienable rights and these common interests.

We can and will check this government of and by the people when it fails us just as we checked a monarch in 1776, just as we’ve checked executives and other elected office holders who have failed their oaths. We have continually refreshed our representatives and justices to the same end.

As we have for 243 years we still have work to do. Ted Kennedy spoke of the ongoing nature of this nation’s mission when he said, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Recommitting to the American dream, I leave off with hope that we can and will continue to pursue a more perfect union.

Wishing you and yours a safe Fourth of July. Consider this an open thread.

OPEN THREAD: FIFA Women’s World Cup — England vs United States

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

I am putting up an open thread because 1) I need a break from all the heavy, and 2) Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. team are goddesses, and 3) a certain Brit needs to eat a shit sandwich.

This guy, specifically:

 

What a massive wanker. This misogynistic prat has no problem when men take pride in their sports:

 

 

Megan Rapinoe didn’t start today; the score is now US 2, England 1.

And the score off the field:

 

Ridiculous. Pay the women.

Have at it.

 

UPDATE — 11:45 p.m. 02-JUL-2019 —

Do you smell something burning?

image_print