Sunday, January 30, 2011

Campaign for the Land of the Pure: Part 1

This is very peculiar.

I wasn't going to blog for a few more days. I have been online, and I have been updating the links in the sidebar, adding in regional news sources as we get ready to begin our Presidential primary season (yes, it's that time again - the Presidential elections last longer and longer, and cost more and more...).

But, as I came online again, I noticed an article I had read earlier, which was widely shared on Facebook, has magically disappeared. The article dealt with the lack of diplomatic credentials for an American accused of murder in Lahore, Pakistan.

Basically, what happened is that this guy was in the wrong part of Lahore, without security escort (as would be expected to accompany someone there working for the Consulate), and got into a problem. He supposedly shot two Pakistanis, claiming self-defense. Another Pakistani was run over by an unidentified vehicle coming to pick this guy up and extricate him from the area, but then that car disappeared.

From The (Very) Strange Case of Raymond Davis, January 30, 2011:

[W]hat exactly was happening at Mozang? Very much in line with the immediate knee-jerk reaction of many Pakistanis, an early commentary by Jeff Stein in The Washington Post seemed to suggest rather fancifully that the shootout could have been a "Spy rendezvous gone bad?" That would be a conspiracy theory, but not an entirely implausible one. Mozang is not a part of town that you would expect too many foreigners, let alone a US official, visiting; and certainly not in what was reportedly a rented private vehicle. And while Pakistan today is clearly an unsafe place, the question of just why an Embassy official was carrying a firearm be wished away. On the other hand, however, Mr. Davis claims that he shot in self defense as the two men on the motorcycle were trying to rob him at gun point. Anyone who knows Pakistan knows all too well that this, too, is entirely possible. TV footage and reports coming immediately after the incident showed one of the young men lying dead with a revolver and wearing an ammunition belt. And certainly, the question of why at least one of the two young men on the motorcycle was carrying a loaded firearm cannot be wished away just because he had "dushmani." Indeed, serious questions need to be asked about just who the two young men on the motorcycle were, just as they need to be asked about who Raymond Davis is. There just seem to be too many unnecessary weapons in too much proximity in this story. All of the many explanations that are floating around are very disturbing, but also very plausible. Which is exactly why this story is even more dangerous if left unresolved.

Now, the one page showing that the accused, Davis, did not have a diplomatic visa, is missing, but there is another with similar information:

LAHORE: Deputy Prosecutor General of Punjab, Rana Bakhtiar said on Sunday that Raymond Davis had fired the bullets from the back thus it was not a case of 'self defense' as he had stated earlier.

Rana also said that Davis, charged with murder of two motorcyclists in Lahore, did not hold any special privileges as a diplomat.

Referring to Article 49-2 of the Vienna Convention, he said that diplomatic officials only hold privilege when they are on duty, but Davis was in Pakistan on a business visa.

Davis is being described by the American media as a security contractor from a Florida-based firm, Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC.

That Foreign Office and the US embassy were not on the same page on the issue of status of the accused was obvious from an FO press release that mentioned Davis as a US 'functionary', and not a diplomat.

I reviewed my previous posts, including The Land of the Pure, Part 6, and The Colonel Imam Situation, and decided to begin a new series on Pakistan.

From US Embassy Personnel Caught Spying On Kahuta, January 29, 2011:

Pakistani authorities have enough evidence that implicates US diplomats and trainers in spying on Kahuta, one of the prime nuclear facilities in the country.

What is stunning for most Pakistanis is that elements in the elected government, and especially the Interior Ministry, appear to be facilitating the Americans despite protests from police and intelligence officials.

It seems American contractors in another part of Pakistan are sniffing around a Pakistani nuclear facility. The commandant of the police training facility where these contractors are supposedly working got suspicious, and asked a few questions.

The Commandant Police Training College Sihala, Mr. Nasir Khan Durrani, wrote a letter on Aug. 15 to senior Pakistani police officers drawing their attention to the suspicious activities of American 'trainers' at Sihala. Mr. Durrani is widely respected within the officer corps of Pakistan's police service. Some of his ideas, like Rescue 15, were implemented nationwide.

Durrani's letter was not without basis. In his report, titled, Agency wants survey of site to assess equipment, Mr. Ansar Abbasi, editor investigations at The News International, revealed that there was some evidence that radiation measurement equipment has been installed by the Americans at the training facility. He reported that US diplomats have been caught making frequent visits to the facility, attempting at one point to get into the high security perimeter around Kahuta. Amazingly, someone from FIA, the interior minister's former employer and a lead civilian spy agency, helped release the arrested American diplomats.

Okay, so we have some American "contractors" doing what is presumably their job, collecting intelligence on Pakistan's nuclear program, and a Pakistani police academy commandant doing his, reporting the Americans.

The suspicions of Mr. Durrani, Commandant Police Training College Sihala, turn out to be legitimate. Mr. Durrani might have expected to be rewarded for keeping a vigil on the country's vital interests. To his surprise, instead of a citation, Mr. Durrani was reprimanded by the Federal Interior Ministry.

On Oct. 22, The Nation published a report whose title, Rehman Malik Defends US interests, warns Durrani, said it all.

"The Interior Ministry is browbeating the Commandant Police Training College Sihala as to why he has written a letter to the Punjab, Inspector General of Police (IGP), expressing his concerns over the presence of US security officials in the premises of the institute," the sources told TheNation.

Sources privy to the developments said that the Ministry was annoyed with Nasir Khan Durrani, Commandant Police Training College Sihala as to why he had written a letter to IGP seeking clarification from the Interior Ministry and Foreign Office about the terms and conditions of US security officials' presence as well as the duration of their stay in the college premises.

The sources said that the Ministry had expressed its displeasure over the action of Commandant and in its reply to the IGP it was stated that the matter could have been discussed verbally and there was no need to write about it.

Skipping down, the article summarizes what is going on:

Evidence is piling up that the present 'elected' government in Islamabad is racing against time to plant enough Americans inside Pakistan to counter the Pakistani military and the country's strong intelligence setup.

Some of what we're seeing here is American intelligence personnel mixed in with contractors, which the US Government has been increasingly using instead of US Government personnel.

But what else we are seeing is the Pakistani Deep State, which is involved in nuclear proliferation for profit, heroin smuggling, and other lucrative activities, as well as support for Islamic terrorism, battling other factions of Pakistan's elite.

On the US side, we see the US Deep State, involved in similar illicit activities for profit.

And, we see legitimate and semi-legitimate functions of the US Government to ensure people friendly to US interests emerge on top in Pakistan's power struggle, and to make sure Washington has information regarding issues of concern to US national security.

So, mixed into this mess, we have American intelligence personnel in semi-official and non-official cover; but, are they working for the interests of the US, or are they involved in illicit activities using their connections to the intelligence community as a layer of cover under the cover established for them by the intelligence community, but above the real mission of trafficking narcotics and other contraband? Is that trafficking just for profit, or does it fund other covert/clandestine activities, so Congressional oversight is avoided by not taking money from our Congresscritters?

Do we know who all these guys are really working for?

It is apparent someone in Islamabad thinks he knows who they all are working for, and is facilitating the work of some, but not of others.

Meanwhile, Colonel Imam has reportedly been killed (dated January 24, 2011).


A former officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Sultan Amir Tarar, better known as Colonel Imam, has reportedly been killed by the Taliban on Sunday.

Though there is no official confirmation of his death, sources close to his family say they were informed about Col Imam's killing by intelligence sources.

The War on Terror will be decided mainly in Pakistan.

A major battle in the War on Drugs will also be decided there, as, until the War on Terror in Afghanistan is ended, the instability there will foment trafficking of high-quality heroin as Afghanistan essentially corners the world market for both quality and quantity.

And, there is profiteering and the Great Game going on.

All of this fuels corruption in Rawalpindi and Islamabad and, of course, in London and especially in Washington.

There is a covert fight occuring to decide Pakistan's future, and even Pakistan's existence as a sovereign nation.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

L'Abidjanaise, Part 7

First of all, I was embarassed to discover that I had not already linked in the sidebar the Center for Strategic and International Studies under the category of News and Analysis. That has been fixed. :) I also now link to their flagship publication, The Washington Quarterly.

CSIS interviewed internationally-recognized President-elect Ouattara via teleconference a little over a week ago; here is the vid:

In the interview, Ouattara addresses a matter I mentioned in Part 6, namely that the Constitutional Council did not officially validate the election results offered by the Independent Electoral Commission. As Ouattara points out, the Constitutional Council may either validate those results or call for new elections within 45 days. Ouattara then claims the Council did not call for new elections, for fear that instead of winning by 54%, Ouattara would win by 70%.

Of course, I think the allegations of violence and election-rigging in areas subject to control of Ouattara's rebel forces need serious investigation, as well as the allegations of violence and intimidation on the part of forces loyal to Gbagbo.

But, towards the end of the interview, we get to an interesting topic:

PRESIDENT OUATTARA: Yes. Well, on communication, we have been able to set up a radio at the Golf Hotel, thanks to the support of the many friends and companies, and that radio crosses most of the country. And so we broadcast up to 24 hours a day. That has been – it started about three weeks ago, and that has been quite useful in relaying my messages. And we're working to set up a television. I hope within a week or 10 days we will have also a television at the Golf Hotel.

Of course, we're doing all this but we do work for our stay to be as short as possible at the Golf Hotel. As I said, the benchmark for us –

MS. COOKE: I imagine, yes.

PRESIDENT OUATTARA: – is the end of January.

Now, in terms of the messages, the problem is RTI – which is national television – is really a hate television being broadcast by Mr. Gbagbo, and it insults all those who are not with them; it insults the foreigners in Côte d'Ivoire; it insults all the people from countries outside of Côte d'Ivoire that do not support them, which is almost the world. They insult, of course, daily, France and the United States and so forth and so on.

And so that hate television really is a major problem, and we believe that the United Nations should have authority to stop the broadcasting of a television like that because it's really feeding hate to people, especially to a youth.

This message is echoed in the international community, though with qualifications. From COTE D'IVOIRE: Domestic Media Raise the Stakes, January 20, 2011:

"I think that for the last two months the national television has from time to time incited violence and hatred. The same applies to the rebels' television in the north," he added.

Tensions exacerbated

"This problem is very serious for national cohesion and we condemn it. Gbagbo's camp's control of the television is dangerous".

N'Gouan is convinced that the inflammatory approach is exacerbating tensions. "Much of the media is filled with mistrust, hatred, radicalism," N'Gouan said. "This hatred doesn't lead to democracy. It paves the way for violence".

Notre Voie's editor-in-chief César Etou disagreed, telling IRIN that "the conflict is taking place more in the press than on the ground."

"I don't believe it is the Ivoirian press that is feeding violence. Most of the press has been discredited. The population does not systematically follow the orders of the press," he said, adding that the press had "not played a role in inciting violence against ONUCI".

Notice that the report indicates it is more a matter of talk, as the media's credibility is questioned; there does not seem to be a direct cause-and-effect link between Gbagbo government broadcasts and the violence. Consequently, it seems more of a question of Ouattara just wanting to shut his opponent up.

Notice also, in the very first paragraph, accusations were also leveled against Ouattara's rebel television in the north.

From UN has 'concrete intelligence' of ex-Ivorian president's incitement to violence, January 14, 2011:

"The facts on the ground are indisputable. Cote d'Ivoire has a legitimately elected president – Alassane Ouattara. The previous incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, must stand aside," Mr. Ban reiterated today both at the news conference and in an earlier speech to the 192-member General Assembly, as he outlined the UN's priorities for 2011.

He stressed his deep concern at the growing number of violent incidents targeting civilians and the nearly 9,000-strong UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), which has been supporting efforts over the past seven years to reunify a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.

The facts are not indisputable. In violation of the previous cease-fire agreement that ended the civil war, rebel forces in the north failed to disarm. In areas under their control, election irregularities were reported, including murder and intimidation of voters, including problems with voting machines, and including more votes being tallied than there were registered voters.

In the face of this, UN insistence that the situation is indisputable could naturally cause frustration on the part of Ivorians, who may see their electoral process being hijacked by an international cartel intent on installing a man who at one time admitted he was not qualified for the presidency under Ivorian law.

This frustration might easily lead to violence against Ouattara supporters and their international backers.

For some background to this, we consider excerpts from COTE D'IVOIRE: Fresh violence in Abidjan, civilians on the move in the west, January 13, 2011:

ABIDJAN, 13 January 2011 (IRIN) - Two days of bloody clashes in Abidjan, leaving at least nine dead, have prompted fears of renewed post-electoral violence in Côte d'Ivoire's biggest city as the political stalemate entered its seventh week. Disputed electoral results have left both incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, and his challenger Alassane Ouattara claiming victory in November's presidential run-off.


A police source who requested anonymity dismissed allegations of heavy-handedness on the part of the police. "All I will say is - four of my colleagues were killed yesterday. But the population keep saying they're not armed," he said.

The district of Abobo is in the northernmost part of Abidjan. With a population of over 1.5 million, it is sometime called "Quartier Little Africa" because of its diversity and has provided an important support base for Ouattara. There were reports of a heavy security presence in and around Abobo on 16 December after Ouattara supporters had mobilized to march on the state broadcasting headquarters.

I think this UN report constitutes credible evidence to suspect that Ouattara's supporters may be starting or inciting violence themselves.

Allegations of abuse of Ouattara supporters at the hands of government forces loyal to Gbagbo have some supporting documentation; from Côte d'Ivoire: Torture scenes in the most populated prison posted January 7, 2011:

A video is currently creating a stir among the Ivorian online community. It shows militaries beating up prisoners in the "Maison d'Arrêt et de Correction" prison (MACA). According to the person who posted the video, the prisoners are Alassane Ouattara's partisans. Since the beginning of the political crisis in Ivory Coast, dozens of people have been arrested in Abidjan for their political opinion, and jailed at the MACA.

Such treatment of captives is wrong. I am against this, the same way I am against mistreatment and torture (waterboarding was defined by US prosecutors as torture in the wake of World War II) of accused terrorists.

Still, I wonder what prompts Ivorian personnel to treat captives this way. Might it be that these captives had been some of the "unarmed" Ouattara supporters responsible for killing security forces personnel?

Or, might this vid just be some kind of fake?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

L'Abidjanaise, Part 6

Côte d'Ivoire... the crisis just keeps coming up "money" (and cocoa beans and other resources worth money).

From Renegade Ivory Coast leader Gbagbo won't pay off debts, say opponents, by Drew Hinshaw, January 19, 2011 (link in original is reproduced here):

Alassane Ouattara, the former International Monetary Fund economist that just about every world leader recognizes as Ivory Coast's president-elect, doesn't think his opponent will ever pay his bills.

Specifically, he doesn't think renegade President Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to concede defeat in the country's Nov. 28 election, will honor the $29 million dollar payment that Ivory Coast owes its debtors by Jan. 29.

"If they wanted to pay, they would have done so," Mr. Ouattara told Bloomberg yesterday. He also said Mr. Gbagbo's administration has recently withdrawn millions of dollars "to pay salaries, to pay mercenaries, and to take money out of the country instead of paying what they have to pay to the London Club, so clearly they have no intention of paying," referring to the group of creditors who hold Ivory Coast bonds.

Telling the world's investors that they are not going to get paid for the loans they made to somebody tends to get people excited.

As a result of this, it is looking like there will be military intervention to replace President Gbagbo with internationally-recognized President-elect Ouattara. From As Ivory Coast stalemate worsens, so do the chances of military intervention, also by Drew Hinshaw, January 18, 2011:

At least 247 people have died since Ivory Coast's Nov. 28 election, which was supposed to end a 12 year conflict in the world's top cocoa producer. At least 49 people have disappeared, and those whisked away to secret prisons may number in the hundreds.

Those are the latest numbers from a United Nations mission that has been firebombed, shot at, and increasingly understood as an occupying army by defenders of Laurent Gbagbo, the renegade president who has escalated his refusal to concede electoral defeat into a once-in-a-generation-battle for the sovereignty of this former French colony.

And last week, the UN announced from Geneva that its agents have caught word of – but been blocked from visiting – a third mass grave, this one stuffed with 80 bodies buried less than 50 miles from the Liberian border; a line that 25,000 everyday Ivoirians have crossed since November, searching for a country where sporadically violent house searches, attacks on UN convoys, and tire-fire road blocks manned by gun-waving extortionists aren't the new norm.

"The question now being discussed within the UN is the urgency of military intervention, not only to protect UN peacekeepers," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who tried Rwandan war criminals in the 1990s.

So, the immediate crisis being peddled to the international community is one of allegations of mass graves and government brutality. Of course, this kind of approach didn't get any effective UN intervention in other crisis areas in Africa. But the underlying issue is accusations of government defaults on international loans, and money does get people in power excited and ready to intervene.

As a result of the instability, the price of Côte d'Ivoire's government bonds has varied considerably in recent weeks. From Negotiations trump armed intervention in Côte d'Ivoire, dated January 12, 2011:

Côte d'Ivoire 's 2,3b n in Eurobonds recorded their biggest jump on record yesterday after the finance ministry told bondholders it was "taking all necessary measures" to pay a 29m coupon payment that it missed on December 31.

The bonds rose 10,7% to 41,938c on the dollar yesterday in Abidjan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The government has a 30-day grace period to pay.

Côte d'Ivoire , the world's top cocoa producer, "does not have any other option than taking into consideration the commitments taken in the past", Ahoua Don Mello, a Gbagbo spokesman, said by phone from Abidjan.

Mr Ouattara refused to enter talks with Mr Gbagbo last week, telling the UK's BBC that an Ecowas-led military intervention would come "sooner than you think". Bloomberg

Interesting how Ouattara was confident in an imminent international intervention that would install him as President, even though, as we saw in Part 5, Ouattara himself approved of the Constitutional provision that made him ineligible for the presidency of Côte d'Ivoire.

It was recently predicted that Côte d'Ivoire's bonds might see some buying activity, considering how the price had gone down, and was then expected to rise again. From Ivory Coast Bond Yields May Top 20% on Crisis, Renaissance Capital Says, by Chris Kay, January 4, 2011:

Ivory Coast's dollar-denominated bond yields may rise to more than 20 percent as the country will prioritize paying state workers over bondholders, according to Renaissance Group.


A yield above 20 percent "is probably where you can start seeing some specialist buyers come in potentially to look at opportunities," said [David] Damiba [managing director in London for Renaissance Asset Managers, a unit of Moscow-based Renaissance Group], who doesn't hold Ivory Coast bonds. "Fifteen percent, considering what's going on down there, is actually not pricing risk in my view. Should the situation move a little bit I could participate."

Now, to exasperate the financial crisis, Gbagbo has lost access to his country's money, which is kept in a bank outside the country. From Ivory Coast: Regional bank ally of Laurent Gbagbo quits, January 22, 2011:

A key ally of Ivory Coast's disputed leader Laurent Gbagbo has resigned as head of the Central Bank of West African States amid regional pressure.

Governor Philippe Henri Dacoury-Tabley, an Ivorian, quit after a bank meeting on Saturday.

The bank said he had failed to implement an order to no longer accept Mr Gbagbo's signature for funds.

The internationally recognised new president Alassane Ouattara has been asked to designate a new bank chief.

Keep in mind how this crisis was generated. Recall from Part 5 concern of voter fraud. Skipping down in Ivory Coast: Regional bank ally of Laurent Gbagbo quits:

The country's electoral commission said Mr Ouattara had won - a position backed by the UN mission in Ivory Coast, which helped organise the poll.

But Mr Gbagbo's supporters said that the New Forces rebels who control the north had rigged the poll in favour of Mr Ouattara.

The Constitutional Council, headed by an ally of Mr Gbagbo, then annulled votes in these areas and declared Mr Gbagbo the winner.

These allegations were detailed in Manufacturing a president in Cote d'Ivoire from late in 2010:

The independent electoral commission during these past elections was composed of a total of 461 members, out of which only 42, that is 9 percent, are pro-Laurent Gbagbo, who is Cote d'Ivoire's incumbent leader. And that is 91 percent, are pro-Alassane Ouattara and the opposition.

The president of the commission, Youssouf Bakayoko, is pro-Ouattara. To offset this imbalance, it was agreed upon that the commission function by consensus and that ballots should be counted both manually and electronically.

The country's constitution stipulates that the electoral commission should announce the temporary results consensually agreed upon within 72 hours. The Constitutional Council is the only legal authority that will announce the final results, taking into account all irregularities and complaints. It is important to note that the government did disarm all militias in the southern zone under its control. The rebel forces in the north of Cote d'Ivoire did not disarm.

The current deadlock in Cote d'Ivoire stems from the massive fraud that the electronic tally-ups revealed from the votes in the areas of the country still under the control of the armed rebellion. The voting records submitted from these areas showed that there were more voters than were registered.

And, from the testimonies of African election observers, accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission, voters were intimidated, pro-Gbagbo voters were physically attacked (including cases of murder), and ballots were being supervised, stuffed, and carried by rebel forces, contrary to election rules. The tally-up of the Bandama voting district under the control of the rebellion was a textbook showcase of vote rigging and a well-defined example of where the electoral commission was having problems finding a tally consensus.

Apparently, the Constitutional Council did exactly what it was supposed to do in not certifying an election result reported by the Independent Electoral Commission. In fact, observers accredited by the commission were among those reporting rampant abuse - including concerns about voting machines (something many American citizens can relate to) and "Chicago-style" politics wherein more votes are tallied than there are registered voters (not to mention murder, rape and intimidation of pro-Gbagbo voters).

So, in the wake of the agreement to end the previous civil war, Ouattara's forces refuse to disarm as they are supposed to, then are accused of voter fraud in the area they control. This, then, allows an election where Ouattara is declared the winner by a commission packed with his supporters, which, in turn, provides the pretext for the international community to declare Ouattara the winner.

Next, the international community cuts off Gbagbo's access to the country's money, and accuses him of not wanting to pay the country's debt.

Mix in accusations of brutality on the part of Gbagbo's people, overlook similar accusations against Ouattara, and we have the stage set for the international bankers to install their guy in charge of the world's main supply of cocoa beans, the third largest supplier of coffee, plus some diamond, gold and petroleum reserves thrown in for good measure.

Oh, and the potential money to be made by trading in billions of dollars and billions of euros worth of Ivorian government debt... you know, once the price gets down to a certain level, many funds that hold those bonds sell automatically, or are required to sell; people in the know, like Mr. Ouattara and the people backing him, can make a killing.

Finishing Renegade Ivory Coast leader Gbagbo won't pay off debts, say opponents:

Perhaps the best treasury bond buy around

That said – if you're the gambling type – today might be the day to purchase Ivorian treasury bonds.

Right now, the slips of paper are fetching dismal prices in whatever weird nooks of the financial universe such instruments are sold. In 10 days, when the country misses that $29 million payment, they could be next to worthless. Yet Standard Bank and the Economist Intelligence Unit are both recommending that traders take a second glance.

If and when Ouattara finally unpacks into the country's presidential palace, those bonds "would go to levels above where they were before" the election, a Standard Bank economist told Bloomberg.

It's a sign that outside of Ivory Coast, those who have the most to gain or lose from its crisis – the people who own its debt – see Gbagbo as a marked man; a former history professor carving his way into the subject he used to teach.

Concluding with Manufacturing a president in Cote d'Ivoire:

In addition to those tally irregularities, the spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, acting without the consensus of (and in spite of the objections of) the Constitutional Council, unilaterally invalidated all the absentee votes from the 28 districts of France (nominally because of fighting among Ivorians in three voting areas in Paris) in both the initial election and the run-off election.

These votes, as well as the voting irregularities in the northern region of Cote d'Ivoire, where the African election observers had also documented beatings, killings, intimidation, and women being publicly stripped of their clothing, should have been submitted to the Constitutional Council for review.

Because of all these irregularities, and because the Electoral Commission could not constitutionally proclaim, within the constitutionally prescribed deadline period, the provisional results that were to be validated by the Constitutional Council, its mandate was terminated, leaving the Constitutional Council to handle these matters.

But, while that procedure was in progress, the president of the defunct Independent Electoral Commission was ushered to the headquarters of the opposition candidate at the Golf Hotel to illegally proclaim Ouattara the winner before the French state and foreign media and the U.N. representative.

The Constitutional Council stated that the defunct Independent Electoral Commission had no right to declare Ouattara the winner, as constitutional electoral procedures had not been followed.

It deemed illegal the U.N. representative's ratification of would-be provisional results that were illegally proclaimed. The U.N. representative was to ratify the final results that the Constitutional Council would have certified.

The Constitutional Council then analyzed all irregularities and tallies, partially validated some of them and, after the adjustments were completed, proclaimed Gbagbo the winner. Cote d'Ivoire thus descended into a post-electoral nightmare.

Nightmare for some, but a wild dream for others...

Friday, January 21, 2011

L'Abidjanaise, Part 5

We continue our consideration of the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.

In Part 1,we examined some background and history, including consideration of a civil war that left the country divided, with a rebel faction controlling the north, and a government faction controlling the coast. In Part 2, we looked a little more closely at the situation, and how President Gbagbo has been labeled by the international community as essentially a thug.

The allegations against Gbagbo are that he refuses to give up his power to Alassane Ouattara, whom the international community recognizes as the winner of the presidential elections last year.


In Part 3 we considered some circumstantial evidence suggesting that the election results may have been fraudulent, in the context of calls among the international community for armed intervention to place Ouattara in power as the president of Côte d'Ivoire.

In Part 4 we considered what might prompt a power play on someone's part to take over Côte d'Ivoire via a proxy or puppet leader, and came up with the obvious - the country has a substantial fraction of the world's cocoa production, with other natural resources thrown in for good measure (diamonds).

Now, the international community is beginning to suspect that diplomatic efforts to install Ouattara as president may have failed, and that military intervention is the only option left. From Ivorian crisis: Use of force 'may be the only option' left, January 21, 2011:

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The use of force to dislodge incumbent Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo is becoming inevitable due to the failure so far of diplomatic efforts to resolve the post-election crisis in the West African country, Nigeria's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Salamatu Suleiman, said Friday.

Hajia Suleiman was briefing reporters here on the meeting between Guillaume Soro, the special envoy of Alassane Ouattara, the man widely believed to have won Cote d'Ivoire's presidential runoff last year, and current ECOWAS Chairman and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja Friday.

She said the ECOWAS Chairman had sent many envoys to Cote d'Ivoire with a view to resolving the post-election crisis peacefully, but without much success.

"As you know, the President under the auspices of ECOWAS has been sending many envoys to Cote d' Ivoire to try and resolve the issue diplomatically so that there would be no use of military power. But as it appears, that remains the only option," the Minister said.

But what is interesting is that Ouattara is, under Côte d'Ivoire's 2000 Constitution, ineligible to be president - a fact he himself has admitted, while advocating the adoption of the change that made him ineligible (source)!

So, the leader that the international community wants to install by force as the president of Côte d'Ivoire is, by his own admission, ineligible for the office - an office that he was elected to amid some concerns of voter fraud, though the international community has given its approval to the election process that Ouattara supposedly won.

Interestingly, the country's division into a rebel-controlled north and a government-controlled south resulted, via a circuitous route, in part from monetary "reforms" that Ouattara himself implemented two decades ago.

In her book, Web of Debt, Ellen Brown discusses what she portrays as a typical ploy of the International Monetary Fund:

That was when the IMF got in the game, brought in by the London and New York banks to enforce debt repayment and act as "debt policeman." Public spending for health, education and welfare in debtor countries was slashed, following IMF orders to ensure that the banks got timely debt service on their petrodollars. The banks also brought pressure on the U.S. government to bail them out from the consequences of their imprudent loans, using taxpayer money and U.S. assets to do it. The results were austerity measures for Third World countries and taxation for American workers to provide welfare for the banks. The banks were emboldened to keep aggressively lending, confident that they would again be bailed out if the debtors' loans went into default.

Did you know that Alassane D. Ouattara, the internationally-recognized president-elect of Côte d'Ivoire, worked for the IMF? The IMF greatly appreciated his work.

But what exactly did he do for the international bankers? From DEMOCRATIC EXPERIMENT IN AFRICA: HOW COTE D'IVOIRE BECAME VICTIM OF THE CIVIL WAR? by Bertin K Kouadio (2007):

On 25 May 1987, the government announced it could no longer pay its external debt, then estimated at $6 billion U.S. forcing it to accept and implement some painful policy prescriptions associated with the structural adjustment programs.

Following this same neo-liberal logic in 1989 the World Bank required that the national economy be made competitive by devaluating the currency (CFA) and improving the public finances. This resulted in a significant increase in unemployment, which was already high due to the closing of many private and state-owned factories. Moreover, the government proposed to reduce the salaries of the workers in the same year, knowing that in Sub-Saharan Africa the government is the major employer, and also that one civil servant feeds more than his or her own nuclear family, it was clear that cutting the salaries would have dramatic consequences. Expectedly, these measures provoked huge social protests in Abidjan and elsewhere in the country, forcing the government to review the first round of adjustment measures. It tried without success to find modes of reform that would be less painful. Each effort it met the opposition of the people.

Meanwhile, the opposition led by Laurent Gbagbo began pushing for multiparty democracy and the organization of transparent and fair elections in the same year (Conteh-Morgan 1997).

So, Gbagbo - who is now the thug (?) president - was trying to democratize and make the election process more open and fair, while an economic situation caused Côte d'Ivoire to get behind on its payments to the international bankers.

Skipping down:

The Arrival of Allasane Ouattara on the Ivoirian Political Space

It was in this context of economic crisis that the president called upon Allasane Dramane Ouattara, a former Governor of the West African Central Bank in Dakar (BCEAO), who was serving as Deputy-Director of the African Division at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington D.C., to oversee the efforts to stimulate the Ivoirian economy (Konaté, 2004). In April 1990, Ouattara took the leadership of the Comité Interministériel de Coordination du Programme de Stabilization et de Rélance Economique to oversee the adjustment program. On 7 November 1990, he was named prime minister, the first in Côte d'Ivoire's history. However, the honeymoon between the new prime minister and the people did not last long.

Rumors about his identity were being circulated around the country. According to Fraternité Matin (28 April 2003), it was alleged that the former Deputy-Director of the IMF in Washington D.C. (1984-1988) had worked with a Burkina-Faso passport by definition. But, no one could voice this officially and loudly since Houphouêt-Boigny, although physically diminished, was still dominating the political machine in Côte d'Ivoire.

Meanwhile, Ouattara is sent in by the international bankers to clean up Côte d'Ivoire's debt situation, but rumors are quietly circulating that Ouattara is not even Ivorian.

Ouattara went forward, and designed a number of important, but unpopular measures that were to follow. According to the government-owned local newspaper Fraternité Matin (28 April 2003), his plan included the following steps: to reduce the number of government vehicles per ministry; to force the wealthy barons of the old regime and private sector to pay back taxes or dues accumulated over the years (especially telephone, water, electricity, personal properties); to suppress the free bus service that was previously available to all the students; and to privatize both government owned and semi-owned companies.

Unfortunately, this first round of austerity measures did not yield the expected results, for the government's coffers remained empty. Accordingly, Ouattara added new measures to the list. For example, he decided to reduce the salaries of all the new teachers for all levels of the education system by 50%. This 'unjust' decision gave birth to the famous phrase: "same job-different salary?" (à travail égal-différent salaire?). Next, he introduced for the first time the controversial Alien Identification Card (Cartes de Séjour), whereby every national from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) was required to pay 5,000 F CFA (7.6 Euros) per year, while other immigrants outside this organization had to pay 50,000 F CFA (76.2 Euros) annually, as a resident alien (Fraternité Matin (28 April 2003)).

At that point, it was clear that these structural adjustment measures had set the stage for mounting social unrest throughout Côte d'Ivoire. This also meant that the system could collapse at any time. Between 1990 and 1992, the country experienced huge mass protests and strikes by students, police, customs officers, university professors, transport workers, professional associations, and these protests with the takeover of the airport by army conscripts in 1990. Akindès (2000: 126) and Kieffer (2000) have documented the different activities of the military during that period, while Cogneau (2003: 87), Toungara (1999: 23) have written extensively on the social implications of these economic reforms in the country. As one scholar writes, all of these protests were a direct response to the appalling and severe economic conditions imposed on the country by the IMF and the World Bank. Côte d'Ivoire, like many African states and the developing world, had badly failed its first structural adjustment programs test with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

For a long while, Ouattara's drastic measures became the center of all the daily conversations throughout the country, especially in Abidjan. Those barons who were summoned to pay back taxes disliked him intensely. In the end, these structural adjustment measures, which were intended to improve the economy in the first place, brought significant political and social strife to Côte d'Ivoire and its people. For instance, they gave the average Ivoirian the opportunity to break certain taboos of the past including: defying the authority of the government, speaking freely and publicly about local politics, and, most importantly, speaking against the autocratic President Houphouêt-Boigny, something that was unthinkable before. It has also been argued elsewhere that it was the introduction of the Alien Identification Card by Ouattara that triggered the current xenophobia or ultra-nationalism towards foreigners (Fraternité Matin (28 April 2003)).

Well, I could see how Ouattara's push to get rich people to pay overdue taxes would anger those rich people.

But, isn't it interesting how Ouattara's austerity measures impacted the core of Ivorian society, causing unrest that ultimately led to a civil war? With an ongoing polarization caused in large part by an alien identification law that Ouattara himself pushed through?

And, isn't it interesting how this civil war left the country divided, with half of it supporting Ouattara for the presidency - a position that Ouattara himself admitted he was ineligible for by a change in the Ivorian constitution that Ouattara himself approved of?

And, isn't it interesting that the current president, Gbagbo, came to power amid a campaign to democratize and increase transparency in the Ivorian election process? But, now, he is being labeled the bad guy, a strongman who refuses to yield power, even though some of his concerns include possible election fraud in the part of the country that Ouattara is said by the international community to have won?

(In fact, the accusations look remarkably like accusations against US President Obama: that he may not be Constitutionally eligible, that international bankers put him in power...)

It sure looks like Ouattara is the front man for international bankers, himself engineering the current crisis which has now propelled him to the brink of power; the only thing left to be done is for international forces to intervene and install him, thus "ending" the crisis.

I suspect there is more than cocoa beans and some diamonds at stake in Côte d'Ivoire.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

UK: Bonus for Bankers

It's not just in the US...

From London's neediest curse City bonuses, January 18, 2011:

The fact that some of Britain's biggest banks have been bailed out by the taxpayer is not stopping them from giving their employees bumper bonuses.
It is a decision in defiance of political and public pressure to curb the payouts, amid the severe cuts being made elsewhere across the economy.

In today's austerity Britain the homeless and needy queue up for food handouts from charities across the UK and in London, where just a few miles away it is a different world, with different rules.

Prime Minister David Cameron has shied away from regulating bankers' bonuses. They might have to be a bit more open about them, but pay will not be curbed and there will be no windfall tax.

Bob Diamond, Chief Executive at Barclays made his feelings clear: "There was a period of remorse and apology for banks. I think that period needs to be over."

And bankers have taken that to heart. UK banks, including some of those bailed out by taxpayers last year, will be paying out $11 billion to their staff this year. On the streets where the needy live literally from hand to mouth, that is going down badly.

If these guys are doing such a hot job, why do their banks need government money to bail them out?

If you want to let the free market define compensation, then let the free market define what happens to the banks when they made bad decisions.

What is going on here is that these banks are looting and essentially destroying the economy not just in the UK, but elsewhere as well. With high-risk financial moves paid for with borrowed money, when things go well, they make a great deal of money, simply by moving money around and often by trashing actual, productive enterprises. The result is that many workers are left unemployed after some kind of corporate financial move.

But, when these "bankers" screw up, the taxpayers, more of whom are now unemployed or underemployed, have their signatures put on the IOU that funds continued operation of the bank, which has become essentially a pirate ship in the country's economic waters, and which this time lost a battle and needs help.

And, in many ways, they are not really "bankers" any more. Many of these enterprises have some of what we would recognize as banking services (checking, savings...), but much more of the business is devoted to making money by moving money around: not buying and holding stock - ownership in a company - but by "betting" on whether stock and other financial instruments will go up or down in value.

It's exactly the same thing happening on this side of the Atlantic.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Too Big For Our Freedom

First, an excerpt from "Too Big to Fail" Must Die by Nicole Gelinas, Summer, 2009:

The "too big to fail" principle persisted during the savings-and-loan crisis of the late eighties and early nineties, when Washington saved uninsured lenders to big banks wherever it saw a risk to the broader system, letting uninsured lenders to smaller banks languish. In the summer of 1991, Fed chairman Alan Greenspan — just a few years after saying (as a libertarian private-sector economist at the time) that he wasn't even "a great fan of deposit insurance" — reminded lawmakers of the post-Continental stance that “there may be some banks, at some particular times, whose collapse and liquidation would be excessively disruptive.”

Gradually, lenders to big banks understood that their money was no longer at risk. And the banks realized that the bigger and more complicated they got, the safer they would be from market discipline — and so they became. Of course, the financial industry changed in response to many other forces, too, including shifting market demand, global competition, and increasing investment in the stock market. But we'll never know exactly how great a role government protection played in driving finance’s transformation, since government subsidies—and that’s what "too big to fail" amounts to—always distort the valuable information that markets provide.

Nearly a decade and a half after the government rescued Continental Illinois, "too big to fail" expanded beyond commercial banks to other parts of the financial world. The catalyst: the 1998 collapse of a small Connecticut hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management. Long-Term, a money manager for wealthy investors, used exotic, often unregulated, financial instruments called derivatives to bet on the up-and-down movement of certain securities and financial markets. In the summer of 1998, after four years of good profits, the firm miscalculated badly. Like Continental, it had exercised its American right to take risks — and it screwed up.

It couldn't afford to. Long-Term had made $125 billion in investments, even though its own shareholders had given it only $2.3 billion. It had borrowed the rest—$53 for every dollar it had in hand. But that wasn't all: through its derivatives, Long-Term magnified its potential obligations to a scarcely conceivable $1.25 trillion. There would be no way for the hedge fund to pay its debts should anything go wrong, and now it had.

"Too big to fail" played a key role in bringing the crisis about. The source of Long-Term's breathtaking borrowing was none other than the big banks, both commercial and investment. Lenders to the commercial banks had known that the government implicitly protected them, and thus didn't worry much about what the banks were doing with their money, including extending so much credit to the hedge fund. The investment banks had to keep up with the commercial banks as competition intensified and their profit margins shrank, so they had poured their money into Long-Term, too.

Please go and read the entire article - it is very informative, and really explains this "Too Big to Fail" stuff, where it came from, and its ramifications.

Now, we consider Obama to hand Commerce Dept. authority over cybersecurity ID, by Declan McCullagh, January 7, 2011:

STANFORD, Calif.--President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It's "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize efforts toward creating an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

That news, first reported by CNET, effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The move also is likely to please privacy and civil-liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies.

It doesn't matter who is in charge of it. A signature on a paper can now summon the information via national security letters, no warrant necessary, and the victim doesn't get told. Another signature can reorganize it, and place it under the NSA, the Federal Reserve, or Hillary Clinton. The only say we have in the matter is whether we vote for "change".

Skipping down:

The Obama administration is currently drafting what it's calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

"We are not talking about a national ID card," Locke said at the Stanford event. "We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy, and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities."

They are making this sacrifice for us!

Skipping down:

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. "I don't have to get a credential, if I don't want to," he said. There's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge," and "we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this," he said.

When Social Security came out, people were told not to divulge their Social Security Number to anyone other than a duly-identified agent of the Social Security Administration.

Now look at where that is.

Here's where this is headed...

What they are doing is making sure they can identify who is saying what on the Internet - the final frontier of free speech, where people all over the world can compare notes on how their government is screwing them.

By being able to identify people on the Internet, they can see who is looking into their illicit dealings - because they can order law enforcement to leave their dirty-dealing alone, and the corporate media won't rat out the rats that the media's owners have placed in government... but free people, especially armed people free to talk about politics, there's a problem!

And you're not going to have any choice in the matter.

Because, a few companies are going to get so big, that no matter how bad they screw up, the government will bail them out and give them no-bid contracts, while the little guys get squeezed out by oppressive tax, labor and environmental laws, and are allowed to flounder for just plain dumb moves that they make.

A big-business-and-big-government-mafia will emerge; this will be far, far worse than it was under the Soviets, under the Nazis, or under anyone else we can imagine; this system is evolving very quickly right before our eyes.

The whole system is getting too intrusive, too over-reaching....

We have to shut it down - while there is still time.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face - forever.
-- George Orwell

Islamophobia Inspection

I have been informed that this weblog and some of its comments have been identified as potentially Islamophobic. Under provisions of a secret Presidential directive recently signed by Obama, it is compulsory for all contributors and readers to take the following Islamophobia test immediately:


(1) You refer to the midwinter holiday as 'Christmas'.
(2) You save loose change in a p***y-bank.
(3) You allow your children to read unexpurgated versions of Winnie the Poo.
(4) You doubt whether it's politically correct to stone rape victims.
(5) You believe that the earth is round.
(6) You think there's something weird about a 50-year-old man marrying a six-year-old girl.
(7) Your children play with Barbie dolls, teddy bears or LEGO.
(8) You object to being a third-class citizen in your own country.
(9) You fail to celebrate cultural diversity when your daughter is gang-raped for not wearing a headscarf.
(10) You think ordinary people have a right to keep and bear arms.
(11) You object to your taxes being used to support people who are plotting to kill you.
(12) You aren't convinced that 'Jihad' means 'Inner Spiritual Struggle'.
(13) You don't understand why the Jews must be exterminated.
(14) You aren't married to at least one of your cousins.
(15) You don't have sex with your daughter-in-law.
(16) You sometimes have doubts about MSM reporting.
(17) You occasionally wonder what's inside those walking tents.
(18) You realise that taqiyya is not a Mexican drink.
(19) You believe moderate Muslims ride unicorns.
(20) You don't appreciate the multicultural need for Methodist grandmothers to be body-cavity searched before boarding aircraft.
(21) You claim to understand the words "Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them", even though you don't speak Arabic.
(22) You fail to see the difference between criticising Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism, which is free-speech, and criticising Islam, which is racism.
(23) You have reservations about 'faith schools' where the kids will be taught that Jews and Christians are pigs and monkeys, at public expense.
(24) You don't understand why flying your country's flag has become a hate-crime.
(25) You don't believe that God is a brothel-keeper.


How many of the questions did you answer 'YES' ?

On a scale of 0 to 25...

0 you are a Dhimmi and will be nominated for the Neville Chamberlain Peace Prize.
1 to 5 you are a Najis Kaffir.
6 to 10 you are an Islamophobe.
11 to 15 you are a Thought Criminal.
16 to 20 you are an Enemy of Allah.
21 to 25 you are a Racist Zionist Crusader.

Fatwas are automatically awarded for all scores above 5.

Fatwas will be posted in plain brown paper envelopes in a choice of laminated or embossed styles, generously sprinkled with ricin, anthrax, sarin and polonium.

The Land of the Pure, Part 6

In the previous parts of this series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5) I had a very consistent message: elites in Pakistan supported the extremists and, if this didn't change, Pakistan was going to be roasted over its own fire.

We see this happening.

Under the heading of "Pakistan's Fight with the Taliban" at The Economist, we have the following article: The crumbling centre: Pakistan's religious mainstream makes common cause with militants:

THE assassination on January 4th of Salman Taseer by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a commando in his security detail, contained a chilling message: the Barelvi sect of Islam has become a militant new force in Pakistani politics. Most Pakistanis are Barelvis. They have traditionally disavowed violence, followed the peaceful Sufi traditions of the subcontinent, and paid homage to scores of saints, big and small, at tombs across the country.

Mr Qadri is also a Barelvi. But when he determined to “punish” Mr Taseer for supposedly committing blasphemy—the governor of Punjab province had campaigned against Pakistan’s blasphemy law—Mr Qadri seems to have been influenced by the rise of firebrand Barelvi mullahs calling for all blasphemers (on their definition) to be killed. After Mr Qadri’s arrest, Barelvis marched in their thousands, along with co-religionists of other sects, parties and persuasions, shouting “death to blasphemers”. Lawyers showered rose petals on the murderer, and the policemen guarding him have uploaded approving videos of him on YouTube. A full-blown, all-party religious revival has erupted, a disturbing turn for both state and society.

Let's just be clear about this: the sky isn't falling. But, any pretense of secularism in Pakistan is falling, and if it should fall completely, it will be replaced with Islamic militant extremism.

The main underlying problem is Islam. Anyone who reads Islamic texts close enough realizes that peaceful, "moderate" Muslims are not true Muslims, as the word and deed of the prophet, Mohammed, point the way toward violence - merciless, and often sadistic. Muslims who are "moderate" are apostates by the standards of the rest, and ongoing events call attention to the differences which, in turn, call attention back to Islamic scriptures.

The Taliban — who hail from the hardline Deobandi sect of Islam, close to the Wahhabism espoused by Osama bin Laden — have stoked the mainstream resurgence. Facing defeat by Pakistan's army in the tribal areas of the north-west, the Taliban struck urban targets, including police stations and the army's general headquarters. When the government persuaded Barelvi mullahs to condemn suicide-bombings as "unIslamic", the Taliban assassinated them and bombed their mosques and Sufi shrines.

Wahhabism comes from Saudi Arabia. In fact, the House of Saud made a deal with Wahhab to promote his version of Islam - a "Deal with the Devil". A key idea of Wahhabism is that Muslims who aren't "Muslim" enough are takfir; like infidels who refuse to submit, they can be killed and their possessions taken.

To be fair, many mainstream Muslims would refer to such extremists as khawarij, but, in a way, that just makes takfir out of the extremists; would turnabout be fair play?

Finishing The crumbling centre: Pakistan's religious mainstream makes common cause with militants:

Yet the trauma has made the Barelvi leaders more militant, not less. The anti-blasphemy bandwagon makes common cause with the Taliban. Other groups have sensed an opportunity for an Islamic political revival, including non-Taliban Deobandi and Wahhabi groups. Two such groupings play a critical role in Pakistani politics.

The Jamiat i Ulema e Islam (JUI), a Deobandi outfit, is led by a pragmatist, Maulana Fazal ur Rehman. The JUI contests elections in the tribal areas, and is a coalition partner of the ruling Pakistan People's Party. But Mr Rehman must heed hardliners inclined to abandon parliamentary politics and switch loyalties to the Taliban. So the JUI is against the "war on terror" because it is an "American" war. It has also condemned Mr Taseer.

The other grouping represents Lashkar-e-Taiba, notorious anti-India jihadists. The organisation is banned, but "charities" front for it. Both groupings hate America, retain close links with the ISI, Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency, and detect Western plots behind Mr Taseer's campaign to amend the blasphemy laws.

Anti-American sentiment, in turn, provides the excuse for the government and army not to do more against the havens in North Waziristan of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Taliban associates in the Haqqani network. The army says that, apart from being stretched by having to hold former Taliban areas and to defend its border with India, it cannot go into Waziristan without full public backing. This week America's vice-president, Joe Biden, was in the capital, Islamabad, urging action. Pointing to a rising tide of anti-American passion, the government and army appear to have shrugged their shoulders.

The US needs to back out of this some. Pakistanis need to decide what kind of country they want. If they decide they want an extremist Islamic state, then the infidel world might just have to destroy such a country in self-defense.

It should be noted that there are many, many good people in Pakistan who are more at risk from Islamic militancy than even we are - and not just the Christian minorities. But, unless they can take control of their country, they will be politically irrelevant; it should be recalled that there were many good people in Russia, Italy and Germany when the communists, fascists and Nazis took over, and the ineffectiveness of those good people helped lead to the destruction of those nations.

This point brings me to an important question:

What is Pakistan, really?

Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Dog Buried Here, Part 3

We continue from Part 1 and Part 2. We smelled a rat, started looking around, found two - one on each side of the aisle in the House of Representatives - suspected there might be more, and... guess what! A couple of big ones!!

First of all, there is Senator Harry Reid (D - NV), whose official website states: "My job as the Senate Majority Leader allows me to deliver meaningful results for Nevada families."

You know, for years now, I've been wondering... How'd you get so rich, Harry?

As you may recall, though, it wasn't just Goldman Sachs that received our money for this bank bailout scheme. Morgan Stanley tied with Goldman Sachs for fifth place in taxpayer dollars received.

Did you know Morgan Stanley also has a PAC?

And you'll never guess what Senate Majority Leader was a recipient of Morgan Stanley's generosity!

Now, pay close attention:

In the above image, in addition to donating to Harry Reid, Morgan Stanley's PAC donated to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

This Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, in turn, has donated more than $80,000 to Harry Reid just in the last two years:

On that one day alone, this Morgan Stanley PAC donated $20,000 either directly to Senator Reid, or to a cause near and dear to Harry's heart:

Go to the FEC website and look for yourself: Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid 2002-06-12, Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid 2003-02-25, Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid 2004-07-23, Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid 2007-03-02, Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid 2008-03-31, Goldman Sachs to Harry Reid 2010-02-04, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2002-06-28, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2003-02-26, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2004-02-20, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2004-07-20, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2004-08-12, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2007-01-19, Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2008-07-31, and Morgan Stanley to Harry Reid 2009-10-29.

Harry, I guess I found out how you got so rich. As Senate Majority Leader, it's not just Nevada families to whom you deliver meaningful results. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley got their money's worth out of you, too - to the tune of $10,000,000,000 each!

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I had found a "couple" of big rats, but then addressed only one. More rats lurking in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

A Dog Buried Here, Part 2

(You may wish to review Part 1 prior to reading this.)

Let's see... who in the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Bush-Obama Bank Bailout Scheme?

The Honorable Robert E. Andrews, Democrat from New Jersey's First Congressional District, voted in favor of it.

You don't suppose this Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Political Action Committee that we talked about in Part 1 has any connection to him do you?

Wow! $15,000 over the course of a few years.

(You can see check this out at the FEC's website: Andrews 2003-06-25, Andrews 2004-02-13, Andrews 2004-05-18, Andrews 2004-10-13, Andrews 2006-09-14, and Andrews 2007-06-19.)

And you know, when these guys decide to steer money to a candidate, donations via an obvious PAC are just one way. People give directly to the candidate; then, people give to a PAC, which gives to a candidate; people give to other PACs, which give to a candidate; people give to other people, who give to a candidate.

To be honest, I'm not really sure how it all works, but I'll bet Barack Obama's people could do a much better job explaining this end of it.

Let's look around some more.

Aha! The Honorable Spencer Bachus, Republican from Alabama's Sixth District, voted in favor of this, too.

Let's see what connection there is between him and the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Political Action Committee.

Wow! $27,500 over a few years. And, again, that is likely only the tip of the iceberg...

(And, once again, you can see check this out at the FEC's website: Bachus 2003-03-03, Bachus 2003-05-20, Bachus 2005-04-19, Bachus 2006-06-06, Bachus 2006-09-12, Bachus 2007-06-05, Bachus 2008-06-27, and Bachus 2009-06-29.)

Let's see if I'm understanding this correctly. Goldman Sachs gives these Congresscritters money, then these Congresscritters vote to give the Treasury Department authority to give money to Goldman Sachs... does that look like a conflict of interest to you? Money kind of flowing in a circle... OUR money, borrowed on the good faith and credit of the United States of America, with the US Taxpayer's name on the IOU...

In Part 1 we were talking about smelling rats, and I think I just spotted two running around in the House of Representatives - one on each side of the aisle!

Now, I admit I am no ratologist, but I'm figuring where there are two rats....