“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, May 30, 2014

Chinese banks could be beneficiaries of deteriorating relations between Russia and the West, with pressure growing on European and US investment banks to stop dealing with Moscow. Bankers say sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis are creating a situation similar to that in Iran, where Western banks and companies are effectively barred from doing business by regulators at home.

USA 'to fine BNP Paribas €7 billion' in sanctions probe

Latest update : 2014-05-30
The US is seeking more than $10 billion to resolve a criminal probe into allegations that the French bank evaded US sanctions against Iran, Sudan and Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
BNP – the largest publicly traded French bank – is seeking to pay less than $8 billion, the newspaper reported citing people familiar with the case.
Still, the multibillion dollar figure would put the fine among the largest penalties ever imposed on a bank and is far higher than what BNP has provisioned for.
A $10 billion settlement figure would represent a "hit" of around 5 percent to the bank's tangible book value and result in a 5 euro per share impact on the fair value of BNP Paribas stock, Citigroup analysts said.
The US Justice Department and BNP are reportedly currently discussing whether the French banking giant, as part of its punishment, would be temporarily denied the right to transfer money into and out of the United States – a central part of any foreign bank's business dealings in the US.
The report said Justice Department prosecutors continue to press the bank to plead guilty to the charges, which theoretically could risk its US banking license. North America is a key part of BNP's new strategy to increase profits outside Europe. It aims for the region to account for 12 percent of its 2016 revenues, up from 10 percent in 2013.
A person familiar with the negotiations said in May that US prosecutors were insisting not only that it plead guilty to charges that it did business with parties in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere that were under US sanctions, but also fire 12 employees involved in the transactions.
The Journal said a final resolution of the BNP case, which is related to the bank's activity in 2002-2009, is still "likely weeks away".
In a separate case last week involving a bank that helped thousands of Americans avoid taxes, Switzerland's Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to one felony charge and was fined $2.6 billion but was allowed to keep its banking license.
That was the first time in 20 years a major bank had been convicted on US criminal charges.

Last year BNP set aside €789 million ($1.1 billion) to resolve the US sanctions case. But in its first-quarter earnings report in late April, BNP noted "a possibility that the amount of the fines could be far in excess of the amount of the provision".


  1. I noticed a headline, last night, that the Russian troops were leaving the Ukrainian border area.

  2. Deconstructing Another Palestinian Blood Libel
    May 30, 2014 by Ari Lieberman 0 Comments


    Palestinian teens ‘shot dead by Israeli soldiers’ at West Bank

    Frustrated in their genocidal efforts to destroy the Israel by force of arms, the Palestinian Arabs have resorted to a relentless propaganda war aimed at demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish State. To that end, they have engaged in multiple instances of egregious evidence fabrication and have employed sympathetic and near-sycophantic journalists to peddle their doctored evidence. On past occasions, Palestinians have been known to resurrect the dead as well as employ photos of grievously injured civilians wounded in contexts unrelated to the conflict, claiming that their mortal injuries were the result of Israeli strikes. And of course, who among us can forget the notorious al-Dura hoax.

    Constitutional expert and Mideast analyst Alan Dershowits once noted that “A lie makes it all the way around the world and the truth – which is often less interesting than the lie – makes it to the bottom of a Google search.” Unfortunately, Dershowitz is correct in his analysis. Outrageous claims of Israeli brutality are often splashed across the headlines in sensationalist fashion, while half-hearted corrections are buried somewhere on page 5. The damage is done and never completely rectified thus slowly chipping away at Israel’s image abroad.

    The latest Palestinian invention involves the recent deaths of two Palestinian militants near Ofer prison, purportedly at the hands of Israeli security forces.............

    1. Don’t start that crap again. Take it to wio’s blog.

    2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. :)

    3. I won't.

      I'm tired of the subject too.

      I mentioned it to provide some perspective because I recalled someone else had mentioned it here. I may be wrong in that - it could have been somewhere else.

      But I won't be the first to bring up Israel again. I will respond, in the interests of truth, right, and the American Way;)

      By the way, the same site had an article excoriating AIPAC, not for being pro-Israel, but for being simply pro-AIPAC.

      Alas, you'll have to look it up yourself now.

  3. The Europeans are not going to shoot themselves in the foot with banking, business and energy sanctions with Russia, at least, not yet.

    1. They Need that Russian Gas and Oil, and Putin is becoming one of the richest men in the world supplying it to them. It's hard to see any of that changing in the foreseeable future.

  4. EU Lifts Sanctions on Syrian Bank, Businessman
    Lack of Strong Evidence Linking Bank to Regime, Diplomat Says

    BRUSSELS—The European Union on Thursday lifted sanctions on the Syria International Islamic Bank and a businessman with ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who lives in London.

    The moves came as part of a decision to extend the Syria sanctions on nearly all targets for another year, until June 1, 2015. The EU adopted the sanctions more than two years ago, prompted by Mr. al-Assad's crackdown against domestic protesters.

    The businessman is Sulieman Maarouf, who the EU said is a friend of Mr. al-Assad and who owns a share of Addounia TV, a pro-regime Syrian television station. A European diplomat said the decision to lift sanctions against the bank was taken because of a lack of strong evidence linking it to Mr. al-Assad's regime.

    1. Seems pretty obvious that the Federal government is not afraid of chasing the Russians and Syrians, nor even the Chinese out of the petro-'dollar'. In fact the Federals seem to be doing what they can o expedite the flight.

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday for the first time imposed sanctions on a Russian bank for its dealings with the Syrian government, which has been engaged in a three-year civil war with opposition forces.

      The U.S. Treasury, which so far had resisted pressure from lawmakers to sanction Russian banks over Syria dealings, put Tempbank, a small Moscow-based bank, on its list of sanctioned entities. This effectively cut the bank off from the U.S. financial system.

      The Treasury also imposed sanctions on bank official Mikhail Gagloev as well as six Syrian government officials and two Syrian refinery companies, Banias and Homs.

      The Treasury said Tempbank provided money and financial services to Assad's government. At one point, Tempbank delivered millions of dollars in cash to Moscow's Vnukovo Airport so cash couriers working for Syria's central bank could pick it up. Tempbank also provided services to Syria's Sytrol, a state oil company that is already sanctioned by the United States and the European Union, according to the Treasury.

      Reuters also reported last October that the Commercial Bank of Syria opened accounts in Tempbank and was in talks with the bank to expand ties.

      Tempbank has ties to financial markets in China, Europe and the United States, using Austria's Raiffeisen Bank as well as Russia's biggest state-owned banks Sberbank and a foreign office of VTB as intermediary banks, according to information on the bank's website

    2. US Opposes Arab Bank Sanctions Appeal Despite Errors

      Law360, New York (May 27, 2014, 2:59 PM ET) -- The U.S. Supreme Court should reject Arab Bank PLC's petition for review of severe sanctions for not producing documents in a lawsuit brought by victims of terrorist attacks despite lower courts' flawed reasoning in asserting those sanctions, the U.S. government said Friday.
      In an amicus brief, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli said that even though the district court and the Second Circuit wrongly imposed sanctions on Arab Bank for failing to produce documents that the plaintiffs say would connect the bank to terrorist findings, the appropriate time to appeal such sanctions would be after a final verdict is issued in the case.

      Because of that, until the ultimate effect of the sanctions is known, the Supreme Court should not weigh in, the brief said.

      “The interlocutory posture of the case makes it difficult to assess the scope, severity and consequences of the sanctions, which remain to be implemented in the district court through evidentiary rulings and as-yet-unwritten jury instructions,”

  5. The future visible in St Petersburg

    The unipolar model of the world order has failed.
    - Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg, May 22

    In more ways than one, last week heralded the birth of a Eurasian century. Of course, the US$400 billion Russia-China gas deal was clinched only at the last minute in Shanghai, on Wednesday (a complement to the June 2013, 25-year, $270 billion oil deal between Rosneft and China's CNPC.)

    Then, on Thursday, most of the main players were at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum - the Russian answer to Davos. And on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh
    The future visible in St Petersburg
    By Pepe Escobar

    The unipolar model of the world order has failed.
    - Vladimir Putin, St Petersburg, May 22

    In more ways than one, last week heralded the birth of a Eurasian century. Of course, the US$400 billion Russia-China gas deal was clinched only at the last minute in Shanghai, on Wednesday (a complement to the June 2013, 25-year, $270 billion oil deal between Rosneft and China's CNPC.)

    Then, on Thursday, most of the main players were at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum - the Russian answer to Davos. And on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh

    from his Shanghai triumph, addressed the participants and brought the house down.

    It will take time to appraise last week's whirlwind in all its complex implications. Here are some of the St Petersburg highlights, in some detail. Were there fewer Western CEOs in town because the Obama administration pressured them - as part of the "isolate Russia" policy? Not many less; Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may have snubbed it, but Europeans who matter came, saw, talked and pledged to keep doing business.

    And most of all, Asians were ubiquitous. Consider this as yet another chapter of China's counterpunch to US President Barack Obama's Asian tour in April, which was widely described as the "China containment tour". [1]

    On the first day at the St Petersburg forum I attended this crucial session on Russia-China strategic economic partnership. Pay close attention: the roadmap is all there. As Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao describes it: "We plan to combine the program for the development of Russia's Far East and the strategy for the development of Northeast China into an integrated concept."

    That was just one instance of the fast-emerging Eurasia coalition bound to challenge the "indispensable" exceptionalists to the core. Comparisons to the Sino-Soviet pact are infantile. The putsch in Ukraine - part of Washington's pivot to "contain" Russia - just served to accelerate Russia's pivot to Asia, which sooner or late would become inevitable.

    It all starts in Sichuan
    In St Petersburg, from session to session and in selected conversations, what I saw were some crucial building blocks of the Chinese New Silk Road(s), whose ultimate aim is to unite, via trade and commerce, no less than China, Russia and Germany.

    For Washington, this is beyond anathema. The response has been to peddle a couple of deals which, in thesis, would guarantee American monopoly of two-thirds of global commerce; the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - which was essentially rebuked by key Asians such as Japan and Malaysia during Obama's trip - and the even more problematic Trans-Atlantic Partnership with the EU, which average Europeans absolutely abhor (see Breaking bad in southern NATOstan, Asia Times Online, April 15, 2014). Both deals are being negotiated in secret and are profitable essentially for US multinational corporations.

    For Asia, China instead proposes a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific; after all, it is already the largest trading partner of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


    1. ...
      And for Europe, Beijing proposes an extension of the railway that in only 12 days links Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, to Lodz in Poland, crossing Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. The total deal is the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe network, with a final stop in Duisburg, Germany. No wonder this is bound to become the most important commercial route in the world.

      There's more. One day before the clinching of the Russia-China gas deal, President Xi Jinping called for no less than a new Asian security cooperation architecture, including of course Russia and Iran and excluding the US. [3] Somehow echoing Putin, Xi described NATO as a Cold War relic.

      And guess who was at the announcement in Shanghai, apart from the Central Asian "stans": Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and crucially, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

      The facts on the ground speak for themselves. China is buying at least half of Iraq's oil production - and is investing heavily in its energy infrastructure. China has invested heavily in Afghanistan's mining industry - especially lithium and cobalt. And obviously both China and Russia keep doing business in Iran. [4]

      So this is what Washington gets for over a decade of wars, incessant bullying, nasty sanctions and trillions of misspent dollars.

      No wonder the most fascinating session I attended in St Petersburg was on the commercial and economic possibilities around the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose guest of honor was none other than Li Yuanchao. I was arguably the only Westerner in the room, surrounded by a sea of Chinese and Central Asians.

      The SCO is gearing up to become something way beyond a sort of counterpart to NATO, focusing mostly on terrorism and fighting drug trafficking. It wants to do major business. Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers, and sooner rather than later will be accepted as full members.

      Once again that's Eurasian integration in action. The branching out of the New Silk Road(s) is inevitable; and that spells out, in practice, closer integration with Afghanistan (minerals) and Iran (energy).

      The new Crimea boom
      St Petersburg also made it clear how China wants to finance an array of projects in Crimea, whose waters, by the way, boasting untold, still unexplored, energy wealth, are now Russian property. Projects include a crucial bridge across the Kerch Strait to connect Crimea to mainland Russia; expansion of Crimean ports; solar power plants; and even manufacturing special economic zones (SEZs). Moscow could not but interpret it as Beijing's endorsement of the annexation of Crimea.

      As for Ukraine, it might as well, as Putin remarked in St Petersburg, pay its bills. [5] And as for the European Union, at least outgoing president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso understood the obvious: antagonizing Russia is not exactly a winning strategy.

      Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been one of those informed few advising the West about it, to no avail: "Russia and China are likely to cooperate even more closely ... Such an outcome would certainly benefit China, but it will give Russia a chance to withstand US geopolitical pressure, compensate for the EU's coming energy re-orientation, develop Siberia and the Far East, and link itself to the Asia-Pacific region." [6]

    2. On the (silk) road again
      The now symbiotic China-Russia strategic alliance - with the possibility of extending towards Iran [7] - is the fundamental fact on the ground in the young 21st century. It will extrapolate across the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Non-Aligned Movement.

      Of course the usual shills will keep peddling that the only possible future is one led by a "benign" empire. [8] As if billions of people across the real world - even informed Atlanticists - would be gullible enough to buy it. Still, unipolarity may be dead, but the world, sadly, is encumbered with its corpse. The corpse, according to the new Obama doctrine, is now "empowering partners".

      To paraphrase Dylan ("I left Rome and landed in Brussels"), I left St Petersburg and landed in Rome, to follow yet another episode in the slow decadence of Europe - the parliamentary elections. But before that, I was fortunate to experience an aesthetic illumination. I visited a virtually deserted Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where two dedicated, extremely knowledgeable researchers gave me a private tour of some pieces belonging to arguably the most outstanding collection of Asian manuscripts on the planet. As a serial Silk Road traveler fanatic, I had heard about many of those documents, but I had never actually seen them. So there I was, on the banks of the Neva, a kid in a (historical) candy store, immersed in all those marvels from Dunhuang to Mongolia, in Vedic or Sanskrit, dreaming of Silk Roads past and future. I could stay there forever.

  6. The "silk road" enthusiast has a pretty good handle on the past, but the future isn't going to look anything like that.

    In this particular fantasy, Russian supplies China with plentiful, affordable fossil fuels in perpetuity (wrong on 3 counts, so far,) and China continues to manipulate its currency, and expand Exports to the U.S. and Europe into infinity (make that 4 counts.)

    20th Century thinking, once again.

    1. the US$400 billion Russia-China gas deal was clinched
      One day before the clinching of the Russia-China gas deal, President Xi Jinping called for no less than a new Asian security cooperation architecture, including of course Russia and Iran and excluding the US.

      Just a the US is making a strategic swing into Asia, the Chinese and Russians are responding.
      The Russians, they seem to be focusing on their immediate western frontier, and threatening to 'cut-off' those that would oppose their policy. Shifting their fossil fuel sales south and east. So that even if production does no increase, their 'security partners' in the Pacific are accommodated, at the expense of the US partners in Europe.

      The facts on the ground speak for themselves. China is buying at least half of Iraq's oil production - and is investing heavily in its energy infrastructure. China has invested heavily in Afghanistan's mining industry - especially lithium and cobalt. And obviously both China and Russia keep doing business in Iran.

      The Russians were recently discussing building four more nuclear reactors in Iran ...

      I attended in St Petersburg was on the commercial and economic possibilities around the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose guest of honor was none other than Li Yuanchao. ...
      The SCO is gearing up to become something way beyond a sort of counterpart to NATO, focusing mostly on terrorism and fighting drug trafficking. It wants to do major business. Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers, and sooner rather than later will be accepted as full members.

      Once again that's Eurasian integration in action.

      Would the SCO have to choose between India and Pakistan?

    2. The Iranians, Russians, India and China, all shifting, moving away from their dependence on the 'petro-dollar', but moving to what alternative...??

    3. or worthless paper, like the US system is using.

    4. Economists largely believe the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate have forced the Fed's hand, creating a weaker economic outlook and muddying the data the central bank relies on to make decisions.

      Given this environment and the leadership transition as Ben Bernanke's term ends in January, the Fed will likely continue its current stimulus program at full blast -- buying $85 billion in bonds each month -- until at least March 2014.

      That means QE3 could total around $1.6 trillion, calculates Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. That's more than either of its two predecessors.
      In contrast, QE1 totaled $1.5 trillion and the second round of stimulus added up to about $600 billion.

      Money from nothing, and the chicks for free!

    5. From June, 2013
      There is a massive misconception about where the Bernanke Fed’s stimulus landed. Although the Bernanke Fed has disbursed $2.284 trillion in new money (the monetary base) since August 1, 2008,

      No need for platinum, when you have electronic credits and paper at your disposal.

      You can't fix stupid

    6. June, July, August, September, October, November, December of 2013, then January February, March, April, May of 2014 all @ $85 billion per month ... that is 12 times $85 billion or another $1 Trillion and 20 billion created ...

      But that money is not making a dent in the Supply-Side Nightmare that was created by 'Winning' the Cold War.

      You can't fix stupid

    7. “If congress has the right under the Constitution to issue paper money,
      it was given them to use themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.”

      - Andrew Jackson

  7. Will the US new emphasis on financial sanctions, economic warfare, send those that expect to be targeted scurrying out of the range of those weapons, at least to hunkering down and building defensive positions and alliances?

  8. Total (the big French oil company) just canceled an $11 Billion Oil Sands Project. They said that the current price of oil ($109.00 bbl) won't pay the freight. Welcome to Peak Oil - the stuff that's left costs more to produce than it's worth.

  9. Shinseki is reported to be meeting with Obama.

    A resignation may be in the air.

    1. President Incompetent is to speak in 10 minutes or so.......

    2. If the Teleprompter is up and working.

    3. Exchange one figurehead for another at the head of the VA...

      So what?
      The underlying problems will remain the culture will remain.
      The VA will "Stay the Course!"

      You can't fix stupid

  10. Replies
    1. But not forgotten ...

      "Stay the Course!"

    2. No, I don't, not really.

      I think Dr. Ben Carson would be a much better choice.

      Maybe we should just get rid of the VA system and give them all vouchers for the private sector?

      Couldn't be any worse, that's for sure.

  11. The Republicans at least put up a bill allowing the bureaucrats to be fired. It was stalled by the Democrats in the Senate.

    I think Rufus should run the VA.

    1. No, I don't, not really.

      I think Dr. Ben Carson would be a much better choice.

      Maybe we should just get rid of the VA system and give them all vouchers for the private sector?

      Couldn't be any worse, that's for sure.

  12. The headline proclaimed Earth approaching the sixth great extinction. No suggestions were solicited.

  13. I suggest, unsolicited, the Noah Gambit. But with spaceships.

  14. .

    The only reasons Shinseki is gone is because much of the country including the President's own party demanded it. Almost every major department within the Obama Administration has been guilty of gross iniquity and/or incompetence during his six years. How many Department heads, read political appointees, have suffered for their offenses? There are few that I can remember, only those that the country demanded such as Shinsecki, or those that openly and publicly criticize the president such as McCrystal. It appears that since these doofi are political appointees, the president refuses to hold them accountable lest it reflect on and possible tarnish his self-image.

    As for the IG reports not being proof, that reflects the view systemic within this administration that 'proof' is in the eye of the beholder. What the various reports, audits, and recommendations reflect are evidence with the same legal effect as being under seal presented by an independent organization doing its job rather than some 'study group' of politically appointed 'experts.

    I haven't checked lately but last year their were IG positions that had been empty for over two years in 5 major US Departments including the IRS and State (Possibly HHS but I would have to check) at the same time major hearings were being conducted regarding questionable activities within these departments. So much for transparency and accountability.

    As for Deuce's post on the banks, I will finally be impressed when criminal charges are brought against the heads of US banks for manipulating interest rates or failing in their fiduciary responsibility to clients rather than just the foreign banks which might be costing the IRS some money.

    Holder promises to bring criminal charges against some,


    1. Some Banks Are Just Too Big To Prosecute


      Eric Holder made this rather startling confession in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, The Hill reports. It could be a key moment in the debate over whether to do something about the size and complexity of our biggest banks, which have only gotten bigger and more systemically important since the financial crisis.

      "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy," Holder said, according to The Hill. "And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."

      Holder's comments don't come as a total surprise. His underlings had already made similar confessions to The New York Times last year, after they declined to prosecute HSBC for flagrant, years-long violations of money-laundering laws, out of fear that doing so would hurt the global economy. Lanny Breuer, formerly in charge of doling out the Justice Department's wrist slaps to banks, told Frontline as much in the documentary "The Untouchables," which aired in January.

      Some observers have defended the Justice Department, suggesting that prosecuting law-breaking banks would amount to a death penalty that could upset the financial system and trigger another recession -- although nobody really knows if it would do any such thing. But by not prosecuting law-breaking banks, and confessing to its terror of prosecuting those banks, the Justice Department has waved a big checkered flag to the biggest banks to go ahead and break all of the laws they want.

      This from the Huffington Post,
      but there ar plenty of other sources ...

      What would anyone like to bet that each of the "Banks to Big to Prosecute" that are based in the US, are all stakeholders in the Federal Reserve Bank.
      The stockholders in the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks are the privately owned banks that fall under the Federal Reserve System. These include all national banks (chartered by the federal government) and those state-chartered banks that wish to join and meet certain requirements. About 38 percent of the nation’s more than 8,000 banks are members of the system, and thus own the Fed banks.

    2. .

      Those that argue that banks are too big to prosecute are mere enablers of the 'system'. Losing some of these high-profile execs to prison for a few years wouldn't in itself cause the bank any long-term harm. It's like the inane argument that they have to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars because they are the best and the brightest. Right, the best and the brightest, the guys who lost billions of investor dollars, that took the bank to the level where they had to be bailed out by the government, the guys that almost destroyed the world economy. Pure bullshit.

      No, the reason they are not prosecuted is that that would provide a negative incentive to other bankers to indulge in the same corrupt practices that have been bringing these banks massive profits. Can't have that especially when even worse it might also result in the baksheesh they provide to corrupt politicians (sorry for the redundancy) being cut back.


  15. First Audit Results In The Federal Reserve’s Nearly 100 Year History Were Posted Today, They Are Startling!
    Saturday, September 1, 2012

    $16,000,000,000,000.00 had been secretly given out to US banks and corporations and foreign banks everywhere from France to Scotland. From the period between December 2007 and June 2010, the Federal Reserve had secretly bailed out many of the world’s banks, corporations, and governments. The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest. Why the Federal Reserve had never been public about this or even informed the United States Congress about the $16 trillion dollar bailout is obvious – the American public would have been outraged to find out that the Federal Reserve bailed out foreign banks while Americans were struggling to find jobs.

    To place $16 trillion into perspective, remember that GDP of the United States is only $14.12 trillion.
    The entire national debt of the United States government spanning its 200+ year history is “only” $14.5 trillion.
    The budget that is being debated so heavily in Congress and the Senate is “only” $3.5 trillion.There was no debate about whether $16,000,000,000,000 would be given to failing banks and failing corporations around the world.

    In late 2008, the TARP Bailout bill was passed and loans of $800 billion were given to failing banks and companies. That was a blatant lie considering the fact that Goldman Sachs alone received 814 billion dollars. As is turns out, the Federal Reserve donated $2.5 trillion to Citigroup, while Morgan Stanley received $2.04 trillion. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank, a German bank, split about a trillion and numerous other banks received hefty chunks of the $16 trillion.

    “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

    When you have conservative Republican stalwarts like Jim DeMint(R-SC) and Ron Paul(R-TX) as well as self identified Democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders all fighting against the Federal Reserve, you know that it is no longer an issue of Right versus Left.

    When you have every single member of the Republican Party in Congress and progressive Congressmen like Dennis Kucinich sponsoring a bill to audit the Federal Reserve, you realize that the Federal Reserve is an entity onto itself, which has no oversight and no accountability.

    1. To Big to Fail - To Big to Prosecute

      The corruption is to big to comprehend, yet some defend the status que.
      They want to blame deficit spending by the Federal government, for food stamps, health care and the TSA for the problem.

      You can't fix stupid

    2. Tooo Big Two Fail - Two Big Too Prosecute

      You're right, Anon, you are not fixable.

  16. The list of institutions that received the most money from the Federal Reserve can be found on page 131of the GAO Audit and are as follows..

    Citigroup: $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000)
    Morgan Stanley: $2.04 trillion ($2,040,000,000,000)
    Merrill Lynch: $1.949 trillion ($1,949,000,000,000)
    Bank of America: $1.344 trillion ($1,344,000,000,000)
    Barclays PLC (United Kingdom): $868 billion ($868,000,000,000)
    Bear Sterns: $853 billion ($853,000,000,000)
    Goldman Sachs: $814 billion ($814,000,000,000)
    Royal Bank of Scotland (UK): $541 billion ($541,000,000,000)
    JP Morgan Chase: $391 billion ($391,000,000,000)
    Deutsche Bank (Germany): $354 billion ($354,000,000,000)
    UBS (Switzerland): $287 billion ($287,000,000,000)
    Credit Suisse (Switzerland): $262 billion ($262,000,000,000)
    Lehman Brothers: $183 billion ($183,000,000,000)
    Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom): $181 billion ($181,000,000,000)
    BNP Paribas (France): $175 billion ($175,000,000,000)
    and many many more including banks in Belgium of all places

    View the 266-page GAO audit of the Federal Reserve (July 21st, 2011):

  17. The coup de gras ....

    According to the Federal Reserve, the securities were purchased at “Current face value of the securities, which is the remaining principal balance of the underlying mortgages.” These were not loans, but outright purchases, a direct bailout of foreign firms that had bet poorly on U.S. housing.

    They included $127.5 billion given to MBS Credit Suisse (Switzerland), $117.8 billion to Deutsche Bank (Germany), $63.1 billion to Barclays Capital (UK), $55.5 billion to UBS Securities (Switzerland),
    $27 billion to BNP Paribas (France),
    $24.4 billion to the Royal Bank of Scotland (UK), and $22.2 billion to Nomura Securities (Japan). Another $4.2 billion was given to the Royal Bank of Canada, and $917 million to Mizuho Securities (Japan).

    The US government would now like to Fine BNP a third of the money the Federal Reserve Bank System gifted to BNP Paribas.
    As a punishment for 'illegal' activities.

    You couldn't make it up and have anyone believe it.

    1. The Fed’s Bailout . . . of Foreign Banks

      Focus on Solyndra, $535 million to a US manufacturing company, whipped on by the Chinese, that's the ticket!

      You can't fix stupid

    2. For example, an overnightPDCF loan of $10 billion that was renewed daily at the same level for 30business days would result in an aggregate amount borrowed of $300billion although the institution, in effect, borrowed only $10 billion over 30 days.

      These numbers are not what you think they are:


    3. Then they should be made more transparent, not less so.

      But the PURCHASE of aecurities “Current face value of the securities, which is the remaining principal balance of the underlying mortgages.” ...
      were not loans, but outright purchases, a direct bailout of foreign firms that had bet poorly on U.S. housing.

    4. aecurities = SECURITIES

    5. Of which BNP received $27 billion.

      While obviously 'breaking' US laws in other arenas.

  18. Harry Reid needs to bring back that Bill for $26 Billion for the VA. See if the Republicans kill it, again.

    It would have opened 27 new facilities, among other things.

    1. The VA has plenty of money.

    2. The VA has plenty of funding. 27 new facilities would have meant 27 additional failures, as an expert of VA, such as yourself, should know.

  19. Yes, by all means, let's throw money at the VA, that will fix it. Yes sir. The VA is government ran, that's why it fails. What the VA needs is competition. Give the Vets a choice and they will get better care.

    1. I tend to agree. Why not put them in the Affordable Health Care system with a 100% subsidy? It makes my blood boil that we have wasted so many and so much for so little. (Excuse the Churchilianism).

    2. Be careful what you wish for. These are the sickest old men, and the most damaged young men. It would cost a whole lot more to put them in the private sector. That's the whole idea of the VA, anyway.

    3. Unfortunately, there are a lot of veterans who game the system. The men you are talking about should have the special intensive care,

    4. Deuce, I sit in the waiting room with these men. I never get the feeling that anyone I'm talking to is "gaming the system." I'm not even sure how you would do that.

  20. ...a follow up observation from yesterday's conversation concerning inflation etc...The growth of the American middle class, almost constant warfare during the 20th c, and the growth of earth's population should not be discounted as factors.

  21. VA Doctors make 1/2 to 1/3 what their Private Sector cohorts make.

    1. My VA Doctor finally gave up the ghost, and went into the Private Sector. I will miss him; I was well pleased with his care.

  22. She is innumerate, but she is also probably Common Core. The VA budget is huge.

    VA's problems go back to its beginnings. However, Mr. Obama is responsible for those on his watch.

    2009:$97.7 billion;

    2010:$127.2 billion;

    2011: $125.5 billion;

    2012: $126.8 billion;

    2013: $139.1 billion;

    2014: $153.8 billion;

    2015: $163.9 billion.
    Top senator says cost-cutting culture fueled veterans scandal

  23. I have a great PCM, a nice young Jewish fellow. He has 1400 patients. He also takes some undetermined number of walk-ins, everyday. He likes the HealthEVet System (as do I) but finds its lack of discrimination leaves him with scores of junk mails to deal with, daily. He writes consults, follows up on consults, and consults with consults on consults. He must monitor thousands of prescriptions.

    General Practitioners do much better in government than private practice...Neurosurgeons, not so much...

    Re: Federal Employees generally

    Average annual salary for full-time federal government jobs now exceeds $81,258 and The average annual federal workers compensation, including pay plus benefits, now exceeds $123,049 compared to just $61,051 for the private sector according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis.

  24. .

    I've seen articles recently stating that the actual VA budget increased 68% since fiscal year 2009, 235% since 2001

    Twenty-seven 'new facilities'? Funny the budget for the 2015 fiscal year doesn't mention anything about new facilities.

    Maybe they should rethink talk we have heard of actually shutting down some of the current facilities with the most egregious records in this latest scandal and instead go in and clean them up. Or possibly change some priorities. After all, over the past 5 years they have spent $500 million on drapes with boxed cornices, office furniture, and conference rooms.

    Money doesn't root out incompetence or faulty prioritization. The whole $26 billion issue sounds to me like another one of the Dem's red herrings similar to trying to blame lax Benghazi security on budget cuts. The president proudly proclaims his record and states that money is not a problem at the VA. In congressional hearings, Charlene Lamb, the person responsible for security at State Department facilities worldwide indicated that budget considerations played no part in the decision not to grant requests for increased security in Libya. The Dem claims came to nothing.

    The VA's problems are systemic if you can believe the IG report and various audits but no one has shown that they have anything to do with allocated money.

    I'm sure the people on food stamps and those on long-term unemployment would also like to have an extra $26 billion.


  25. Physicians earn between (93K – 175K) + (PCA) of up to $30,000 annually
    PCA = Physician Comparability Allowances

    That data is somewhat deceptive. The VA regional medical center in Atlanta is affiliated with the Emory Hospitals and the Emory University Medical School. Emory physicians are paid VA consultants. The school's students, residents, and interns do the grunt work. Young GPs, lacking the fortune required to open or buy into an existing practice are glad to have the VA employment. According to those to whom I have spoken, VA beats groups such as Kaiser in terms of working conditions and pay.

    The national mean salary for GPs and FPs in 2013 was $176,530. Geographically, the means vary enormously - St. Louis = $102,000 v. Oakland = $212,000.

    Median salary orthopedic surgeon (private) $563,074 (highest medical profession). Forbes 2012

  26. The evidence available suggests that two main factors may have contributed to the scandal at the Phoenix hospital.

    First, the VA has way more patients than it can handle. The VA has seen a net gain of 700,000 unique patients in the past few years, including veterans from theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA, meanwhile, has struggled to fill 400 vacancies in its team of primary care doctors, which last year totaled 5,100.

    As the Government Accountability Office's Debra Draper put it, "We were told by staff [during investigations] in some facilities that increased demand and shortages of some physician specialties contributed to the wait times."

    At the same time, VA hospitals receive . . . . . .


  27. Last evening, I had dinner with an old friend, an Army retiree in the Tricare system. About six months ago, he had a series of illnesses that would have killed him had he followed VA advice and waited for consults. Instead, his wife had him transported from the VA emergency facility to Emory by ambulance for immediate evaluation and treatment. He survived.

    As an aside, less than 10% of the care provided by VA is for service connected problems. While I haven't the time to dig around at the moment, the money spent by VA for service connected disabilities is a minuscule fraction of its budget.

    Hypothetically, a guy missing three limbs and an eye is generously awarded about $40,000 toward either the purchase price or rehab work for a handicapped accessible house. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! It is this sort of obscenity that burns my toast. That kid needs a house suited to his needs, whatever the reasonable costs of procurement. But those costs are going to be a heck of a lot more than $40,000. And when he comes into a VA facility, he goes to the head of the freaking line, where some clerk makes eye contact and asks, “May I help you, sir”?

  28. Given the amount of money spent by the DoD et al on private contracting downrange, running into hundreds of billions of dollars, there is no excuse for a shortage of staff. Since all urban VA regional medical centers known to me work in tandem with private hospitals and medical schools, there is no shortage of "potential" health care givers.

    I say again, money is not the problem, per se. Its allocation is.

    We, the American people, should not be fighting about this in a partisan way. It is an old, old problem with many enablers. What we should be doing is contacting our Congressional delegations and demanding that, come hell or high water, it will be fixed. Given the hell we have put some of these kids through during the past twelve years, we owe them nothing less.

  29. Kaiser Health Tracking Poll "Shocker"

    Democrats love Obamacare

    Republicans hate it.

    Kaiser Tracking Poll

  30. Can the VA or VA doctors be sued for malpractice?

    I sued the Feds once under the Federal Tort Claims Act about a crop insurance policy. Finally got something out of it, but I recall it being something of a hassle.

    1. Never accept the first offer from a crop insurance firm or from a government agent if you have Federal Crop Insurance.

      Get your own adjuster.

      Then argue like hell.

    2. Then get a lawyer and sue under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

    3. Federal benefits and frivolous law suits, good for thee ...

      Don't accept the first offer, go to court and raise the costs for everyone.

      The hypocrisy of Bob just keeps piling up.

    4. If it had been frivolous, I wouldn't have won.

      And it didn't cost anyone else anything. Fed crop insurance is not a Fed 'benefit'.

      It is a calculated risk, on both sides.

      My advice remains good, don't accept the first offer, it is always too low.

      In this case by, oh, about 60% or so.

      They settled. They didn't have to, but they knew they would lose. It was obvious. So they did.


    5. Anon is an idiot. He wouldn't last three seasons farming.

    6. I agree. Anon is an idiot.

  31. I agree with you both.

  32. We are all agreed, then.


  33. Hey, Jay the Carney is gone !

    whooooie, what a loser.