On Thursday, we previewed a critical court ruling involving Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s effort to cut pension expenses and plug a yawning budget gap. Here’s a brief recap of the story so far:
Back in May, the Illinois Supreme Court set a de facto precedent for lawmakers across the country when a bid to cut pension benefits was struck down in a unanimous ruling. Anyone who might have been confused as to the significance of the decision got a wake up call from Moody’s when the ratings agency, citing the read-through for Chicago’s fiscal situation, downgraded the city to junk. This is part of a larger fiscal crisis in the country which has left almost half of US states facing funding gaps for the upcoming fiscal year. All told, the total pension shortfall across states and cities is anywhere between $1.5 trillion and $2.4 trillion depending on who you ask.
Within days of a federal judge’s ruling in support of the Detroit bankruptcy, the devastating implications for the working class across the US are becoming apparent. States and cities throughout the country are citing the legal precedent of the Detroit ruling to attack public employee pensions, initiating a new stage in the assault on workers’ rights and living standards.
Politicians of both big business parties, media outlets and financial institutions have welcomed the decision by Judge Steven Rhodes, hailing its categorical assertion that federal courts can override state and local guarantees of public workers’ pensions.
The Michigan Constitution declares that accrued pension benefits are “contractual obligations” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.” Many other state constitutions have similar provisions. But Rhodes brushed aside the Michigan Constitution in order to open the door to the gutting of pensions.
On Thursday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a pension bill that slashes benefits for retired as well as active state employees, in violation of the Illinois Constitution’s prohibition of such pension cuts. Described as a “landmark” law, the Illinois measure will raise the retirement age for younger workers by eight years, slash cost-of-living adjustments for current pensioners, and transfer many workers from state-paid pension plans to employee-paid 401(k) plans.
While everyone’s attention is focused on the Detroit bankruptcy, and just what assets the city will sell in lieu of raising a DIP loan, perhaps it is time to refocus attention to the city 300 miles west: Chicago. According to the Chicago Sun Times citing year-end audits, Obama’s former right hand man, Rahm Emanuel, closed the books on 2012 with $33.4 million in unallocated cash on hand — down from $167 million the year before — while adding to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers. In addition to a liquidity problem, Chicago may also be quite insolvent as the city’s total long-term debt soared to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338 per resident. Of course, in a world in which debt is “wealth”, this is great news… at least until debt becomes “bankruptcy.”
Ironically last year, now-retiring City Comptroller Amer Ahmad argued that the city’s debt load was not “troubling” because, “We still have a very strong bond rating. Our fiscal position is getting better every year and we are aggressively managing our liabilities and obligations” (very much awhat the ECB’s Mario Draghi tells the world when he gives the periodic monthly update of European capital markets during the central bank’s press conference). It is ironic because last week, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3 in an unprecedented three notch cut in the city’s bond rating, citing Chicago’s “very large and growing” pension liabilities, “significant” debt service payments, “unrelenting public safety demands” and historic reluctance to raise local taxes that has continued under Emanuel.
Across the globe, predatory capitalism spreads its gospel of power, greed, commodification, gentrification, and inequality. Through the combined forces of a market driven ideology, policy, and mode of governance, the apostles of free-market capitalism are doing their best to dismantle historically guaranteed social provisions provided by the welfare state, define the accumulation of capital as the only obligation of democracy, increase the role of corporate money in politics, wage an assault on unions, expand the military-security state, increase inequalities in wealth and income, foster the erosion of civil liberties, and undercut public faith in the defining institutions of democracy. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to health care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. One does not have to look too far to see what happens in America’s neoliberal educational culture to see how ruthlessly the inequality of wealth, income, and power bears down on those young people and brave teachers who are struggling every day to save the schools, unions, and modes of pedagogy that offer hope at a time when schools have become just another commodity, students are reduced to clients or disposable populations, and teachers and their unions are demonized.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s current attempt to close down 54 public schools largely inhabited by poor minorities is one more example of a savage, racist neoliberal system at work that uses the politics of austerity and consolidation to further disenfranchise the unskilled young of the inner city. The hidden curriculum in this instance is not so invisible. Closing schools will result in massive layoffs, weakening the teachers unions. It will free up land that can be gentrified to attract middle class voters, and it will once again prove that poor minority students regardless of the hardships, if not danger, they will face as a result of such closings are viewed as disposable—human waste to be relegated to the zones of terminal exclusion. Not only are many teachers and parents concerned about displacing thousands of students to schools that do not offer any hope of educational improvement, but they are also concerned about the safety of the displaced children, many of whom “will have to walk through violent neighborhoods, and go to school with other students who are considered enemies.” Brian Sturgis, a Chicago high school senior and organizer with the group Chicago Students Organizing to Save our Schools declared in an op-ed that Chicago students are prepared to fight for their schools. He writes: Continue reading »
“I’m not going to let you do to me what you did to Stanley McChrystal,” Emanuel said in an allusion to the Rolling Stones profile of McChrystal that Hastings wrote which led to the general’s resignation over disparaging comments made about President Obama.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel allegedly grabbed a reporter by the arm in order to communicate “a threat of physical violence” in the course of an interview that went south during the presidential campaign.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my career from an American public official,” Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings, author of Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Barack Obama’s Final Campaign, said on Current TV.
Guns: The mayor of what is at once America’s most gun-controlled city and its murder capital wants an assault weapons ban like the one he pushed in 1994. Except it didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.
Nathaniel T. Jackson, 40, an alleged gang member with a long arrest record, was gunned down last week outside a store in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, becoming the Windy City’s 500th murder victim in 2012.
Up to 80% of Chicago’s murders and shootings are gang-related, according to police. By one estimate, the city has almost 70,000 gang members. A police audit last spring identified 59 gangs and 625 factions; most were on the South and West sides.
Yet, in the view of Chicago’s mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the answer to violence by crazies and criminals in his city and nationally is more gun control, not more gang and goon control.
Rahm Emanuel has been knocked off the mayoral ballot after an Illinois appellate court panel overturned a ruling in his residency case.
The panel ruled that Emanuel did not meet the residency requirement for eligible candidates.
“We conclude that the candidate neither meets the the municipal code’s requirement that he have ‘resided’ in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement,” the court wrote in its decision.
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.
“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”
I put down my notebook. “Just that?”
“That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”
Total corruption everywhere!
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel laughs before addressing the crowd Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 in Chicago. Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.
NEW YORK – By crushing the competition, Rahm Emanuel is not just mayor—he may be mayor for life. Jonathan Alter reports from the victory party, from the jokes about Rahm’s residency flap to the challenges he faces. Plus, Howard Kurtz on the rise of anti-politicians.
Batten down the hatches, Chicago. He’s Da Mare. The *!#&! mayor.
When a Chicago lawyer named John Levi last fall introduced Rahm Emanuel to the partners at Sidley Austin (the Chicago firm where a young Barack Obama met Michelle Robinson in the late 1980s), Levi reminded his audience that for Chicagoans, there are only two truly important political jobs in the world—president of the United States and mayor of the city of Chicago.
Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel holds a press conference after an Illinois Appellate Court panel overturned a ruling in his residency case Monday January 24, 2011. Jose More/Chicago News Cooperative
Rahm Emanuel has been knocked off the mayoral ballot after an Illinois appellate court panel overturned a ruling in his residency case.
The panel ruled that Emanuel did not meet the residency requirement for eligible candidates. (Scroll down to read the complete ruling.)
“We conclude that the candidate neither meets the the municipal code’s requirement that he have ‘resided’ in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement,” the court wrote in its decision.
Shortly afterward, Emanuel’s attorneys said they will appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Ballots for the Feb. 22 election will be printed Monday night and they will not contain Emanuel’s name, said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
“We’re going to print with one less candidate,” Allen said.
Emanuel had been in the top position on the ballot. That spot now goes to City Clerk Miguel del Valle, followed by Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William Walls.
The board, Allen said, is not worried about the possibility that the Illinois Supreme Court could pick up the case.
“It’s a hypothetical,” Allen said. “We’ve got an election to run.”
Emanuel struck a confident note when he addressed reporters around 1:30 p.m. at a Loop restaurant.
“I have no doubt that we will, in the end, prevail at this effort,” Emanuel said. “As my father always used to say, ‘Nothing is ever easy in life.’ Nothing is ever easy. This is just one turn in the road.”
In a news conference that lasted barely four minutes, Emanuel said he hoped for a quick ruling on his appeal to the state Supreme Court and added that he felt encouraged by the arguments from the justice who took his side in the 2-1 appellate court ruling.
“The dissent came in pretty strong,” he said.
Emanuel repeated his contention that he should not be disqualified from running because he went to work in Washington. He suggested that he should be exempt from the requirement that he live in the city for a year before the election — a loophole that clearly applies to soldiers on duty.
“When the president asks you to serve the country as his chief of staff, that counts as part of service to your country,” he said.
Emanuel said he hopes that his residency issue will be resolved, arguing that it has distracted from a clear debate on important issues facing the city, including its financial problems, public education and crime.
“I still own a home here – look forward to moving into it one day – vote from here and pay property taxes here,” Emanuel said. “I do believe the people of the city of Chicago deserve the right to make a decision on who they want to be their next mayor.”
Michael Kasper, Emanuel’s lead attorney, told reporters after the decision that he plans on filing paperwork with the Illinois Supreme Court by Wednesday. Kasper said he’s not sure whether the court will even take up the case.
“I’m not going to speculate on what the court may or may not do,” Kasper said. “But we are going to appeal.”
Burton Odelson, an attorney for the objectors, thanked the judges for their decision.
“It was a clear cut case just like we said all along” Odelson told reporters at the courthouse.
In the 2-to-1 court decision, judges Thomas Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall agreed that Emanuel does not meet the eligibility requirements to run for mayor. Emanuel’s attorneys had argued that Emanuel’s work as White House chief of staff made him eligible for a special provision in the election code that’s typically applied for U.S. servicemen and women. That provision allows those serving to maintain their residency if they are “on business of the United States.”
“That plan language limits the reach of the ‘business of the United States’ exception to ‘elector[s]’ or their spouses; it makes no mention of ‘candidates,’” wrote Hoffman for the majority.
Judge Bertina Lampkin, the lone dissenter, ripped into the majority’s decision. Calling the decision “contrary,” Lampkin wrote in the dissenting opinion that multiple court precedents show Emanuel can be eligible to run for mayor even though he worked in Washington, D.C. for most of the last year. Lampkin also wrote Emanuel’s decision to vote from his Hermitage Avenue address while in D.C. showed the candidate did not intend to abandon his residency.
Lampkin also casted doubt on whether the Illinois Supreme Court will have time to review the case, should it do so.
“While I strongly believe that the majority’s holding is completely erroneous, if the majority were to apply it only prospectively, rather than retroactively to this candidate, there would be sufficient time for our supreme court to thoughtfully review it,” wrote Lampkin. “The majority’s decision disenfranchises not just this particular candidate, but every voter in Chicago who would consider voting for him. Well-settled law does not countenance such a result.”
Chico would not address Burke’s potential role Monday at a news conference scheduled in response to the ruling.
“I’m a candidate for mayor, I don’t tell the Illinois Supreme Court what to do one way or the another,” Chico said. “That’s not my position.”
The Emanuel campaign encouraged followers on Twitter to meet at the Chicago Board of Elections at 5 p.m. today “to rally for Rahm’s right 2 b on the ballot and let Chicagoans choose.”
If Emanuel ultimately cannot be a candidate for mayor, the development would revolutionize the campaign to replace retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley. Emanuel has been the clear leader in every poll, with many analysts speculating that he could win the majority in the Feb. 22 election and avoid an April run-off.
Emanuel’s fund-raising prowess had allowed him to saturate the airwaves with campaign commercials for more than two months.
Mayoral candidates Braun, Chico and del Valle quickly called news conferences for Monday afternoon to address Emanuel’s removal from the ballot.
Chico said he was “surprised as anyone” with the ruling and called himself “agnostic” about Emanuel’s removal from the ballot.
“We will continue vigorously with our campaign with or without Rahm Emanuel,” Chico said at a River North news conference. “I’ve said from day one in this campaign, I haven’t paid much attention to who’s on, who’s off, who’s in the race. I mean, some of the biggest names in politics have come before this race and I’ve just not paid much attention to it and my philosophy remains the same today: we will work hard to gather every vote that we can and bring our case to the people throughout this city.”
“It looked like money was going to decide this election,” del Valle said. “The voters now have a rare opportunity to shape this city’s future.”
Braun called the appellate court’s decision a “major milestone” in her campaign and said she hoped Emanuel’s supporters would now join her.
“I’m a great believer in the rule of law,” Braun said at a Monday afternoon news conference. “The court has spoken and until they change their mind that’s the law of the land.”
U.S Rep. Danny Davis, who had filed nominating papers to appear on the Feb. 22 ballot and had been declared the consensus black mayoral candidate by a group black politicians and community leaders, said he has no regrets about withdrawing from the race last month and endorsing Braun.
“I don’t worry about spilled milk,” Davis said Monday from Washington, D.C.. He said has been receiving calls from his colleagues in Congress about the ruling. “Everybody’s been talking about it. … I’ve talked to very few people who were not surprised.”
The appellate panel’s ruling was the latest twist in an unusual spectacle that has consumed much of the political limelight since Daley announced that he would not run for a seventh term and Emanuel launched his campaign to succeed Daley.
City elections officials and a Cook County judge had sided with Emanuel, rejecting the notion that he did not meet the residency requirement because he rented out his home in Chicago and moved to Washington to become President Barack Obama‘s chief of staff in 2009.
During the election board hearing on his case last month, Emanuel testified for 12 hours, taking questions not only from Odelson but also from more than two dozen citizens who had filed formal objections to his candidacy without the benefit of a lawyer.
Emanuel’s election lawyers had argued that the former congressman always intended to return to his home on the North Side after serving Obama. To buttress their claims, they had argued that Emanuel left family heirlooms, such as his wife’s wedding dress, in the basement of the house.
Through it all, Emanuel has said he feels that he never abandoned Chicago — an assertion backed up by another of his former bosses, President Bill Clinton, in a visit here last week to campaign for Emanuel. Clinton ridiculed the notion that Emanuel is not a full-fledged Chicagoan, saying everybody who worked with him was aware that he regarded the city as “the capitol of the world.”
With former elite puppet President Bill Clinton promoting and raising for Rahmbo.
Donald Trump, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Spielberg have written checks for Emanuel. | AP Photos
Rahm Emanuel has tapped his super-agent brother Ari’s Hollywood money network big-time in his bid to become Chicago mayor, gobbling up five- and six-figure checks from the likes of Steven Spielberg, “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin, Dreamworks mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, and the Napster founder played by Justin Timberlake in “The Social Network.”
But Emanuel’s stunning multi-million haul wasn’t limited to the bright lights of the sunset strip — it also included huge payouts from CEOs and hedge fund managers across from New York to Silicon Valley, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Donald Trump and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
Emanuel’s shop announced Thursday afternoon it had collected $11.7 million, including $1.1 million already in the former congressman’s funds, since unofficially launching his campaign in October. That total — almost identical to what Gov. Pat Quinn spent in his statewide gubernatorial race this fall — puts Emanuel in a strong position as he tries to replace long-time mayor Richard M. Daley.
Emanuel already has spent $2.2 million on friend David Axelrod’s Chicago-based communications firm to produce commercials that remind Chicago voters that the man who lived in DC for the past year and a half is still a native son.
1. Michael Chertoff was part of prosecution team that helped blow the 1993 World Trade Center investigation
2. Patrick Fitzgerald who was Chertoff’s boss on the WTC non-investigation is now in Illinois prosecuting political opponents of Rahm Emmanuel and Barack Obama
3. Rahm Emanuel’s father was an Israeli terrorist who specialized in bombing buses and killing British troops in Palestine
4. Emanuel and Obama both used a Washington DC townhouse provided to them by a BP lobbyist when Emanuel was a Congressman and Obama was a Senator
5. Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel were members of the same gay bath house in Chicago
6. A former staffer of the woman who rented Emanuel the townhouse just died…in a fire…in her garage…behind her house. Her husband is a top Obama staffer Dan Turton.
7. Larry Silverstein – leasee of the World Trade Center – is now the owner of the Chicago Sears Tower
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you ever wondered why Obama is carrying out the corporate-fascist agenda of the Bush family, you’ll understand everything after watching this video
Source: Brasscheck TV
Obama is now the worst President in the history of the United States of America, because not only did Obama approve and extend all Bush policies, but he also added even more unconstitutional laws and policies to them.
Obama like Bush (and all the other elite puppet criminals)is a traitor.
Note: Thomas S. Foley is a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, an executive committee member for the Trilateral Commission (think tank), and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (think tank).
–Vernon E. Jordan Jr. is of counsel at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP, an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank),Valerie B. Jarrett’s great uncle, a director at the American Friends of Bilderberg (think tank), and a 2008 Bilderberg conference participant (think tank).
– James A. Johnson is a member of the Trilateral Commission (think tank), an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (think tank), a member of the American Friends of Bilderberg (think tank), and a 2008 Bilderberg conference participant (think tank).
– Jessica Tuchman Mathews is a member of the Trilateral Commission (think tank), an honorary trustee at the Brookings Institution (think tank), a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (think tank), the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (think tank), a director at the American Friends of Bilderberg (think tank), and a 2008 Bilderberg conference participant (think tank).
– Ed Griffin’s interview with Norman Dodd in 1982:
(The investigation into the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace uncovered the plans for population control by involving the United States in war)
President Barack Obama named William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former commerce secretary, as his new chief of staff.
“Few Americans can boast the breadth of experience that Bill brings to this job,’’ Obama said at the White House with Daley at his side. “He possesses a deep understanding of how jobs are created and how to grow our economy.”
Daley, 62, a Washington veteran with strong ties to business and part of the most powerful political dynasty in Illinois, joins the administration as Obama prepares an agenda for the second half of his term. His appointment comes amid a retooling of the administration, including the naming tomorrow of Treasury Department official Gene Sperling to replace Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council.
Daley will replace Pete Rouse, whom Obama named on Oct. 1 to fill the role on an interim basis after Rahm Emanuel resigned to return to Chicago. Rouse had indicated that he was reluctant to remain in that job for the rest of Obama’s presidency. Rouse will remain as an adviser, Obama said.
Forget about the branch. President Barack Obama offered the whole olive tree to the business community today with the appointment of JP Morgan Chase executive William Daley as White House Chief of Staff.
Daley also knows something about politics. He comes from Chicago where politics has a history of being played bare-knuckled style. Oh, and his brother is the Daley who is stepping down as Chicago mayor, which opened the way for Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff (whom Daley is replacing), to run for that office.
Plenty more dots to connect — Daley was also former President Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary, and Clinton has come to Obama’s aid on more than one occasion (even before the press).
Obama said Daley “has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait.”
The Chamber of Commerce did not even try to contain its glee. “This is a strong appointment,” said Thomas Donohue, president of the business group.
Looks like the scene is set for an administration-business rapprochement. Continue reading »
While the three-member board’s decision is likely to be taken to the courts, it is a major win for the former White House chief of staff, whose campaign has been mired in the residency controversy for months.
More than two dozen people filed challenges to Emanuel’s residency, pointing out that he’d rented his house when he left for Washington and that owning a home in Chicago and voting there wasn’t enough to prove legal residency.
Emanuel moved to Washington, D.C., in late 2008 to join President Obama’s administration as White House chief of staff but had argued that his intention was always to move back to Chicago.
He resigned from his White House position this fall and returned to the Windy City to begin his mayoral campaign right after Mayor Richard Daley announced he wouldn’t be seeking another term.
Chicago law requires that a candidate has to be a resident of the city for at least a year before running for office.
Obama’s action in trying to ease his friend Valerie Jarrett into his old Senate seat will fuel cynicism about politics.
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Photo: EPA
In a year when Americans are arguably more cynical and disillusioned about politics than at any time since Watergate, the corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich is a sobering reminder of how its practitioners operate.
Although “Blago”, the foul-mouthed bouffant buffoon, is the main attraction of the Chicago production, the former Illinois governor’s reluctant co-star is Barack Obama. The President forms part of the proceedings each day even though the judge has spared him a personal experience.
Reports of the Blago trial cannot make comfortable reading for the White House for they provide what Mary Mitchell, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist, described as “an unfiltered look at how the sausage is made in Illinois”
Illinois, of course, is the state that gave us President Obama. It is where he cut his teeth as a community organiser and where he first began to ascend the greasy pole of politics by taking his seat in the state senate.
At issue in the Blago trial is whether the then governor was trying to sell the United States Senate seat that Obama ascended to in 2004 after his initial Republican opponent imploded.
Blago had the power to appoint a new Senator when the seat was vacated because of Obama’s presidential election victory in November 2008. Clearly, he thought the seat was a valuable prize.
“I got this thing and it’s f—— golden and I’m not just giving it up for f—— nothing,” he said in a conversation recorded by a federal wiretap. Blago’s instinct was that Obama – who he mockingly described as “this historic, f—— demi-god” – would be willing to pay to have his preferred choice be duly appointed.
That choice, the trial has confirmed, was Valerie Jarrett, who now rejoices in the title of senior White House adviser and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Her qualification to be a Senator? Jarrett had worked for Mayor Richard Daley and chaired the Chicago Transit Board. She had been a successful businesswoman in Chicago. But she had never held elected office and her name would not even have been mentioned had it not been for her closeness to the President-elect.
Jarrett was a long-time personal friend of Obama and his wife Michelle and that seemed to be qualification enough for the man about to enter the White House.
Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union’s powerful Local 1 branch, took on the role as “emissary” for Jarrett, who initially wanted the Senate seat, and testified that Obama telephoned him personally to speak about it.
Next, Obama’s incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel spoke to John Wyma, a lobbyist, who then telephoned Blago’s right-hand man John Harris to communicate that “the president-elect would be very pleased if you appointed Valerie and he would be, uh, thankful and appreciative”.
Blago’s problem seems to have been that he wanted something a little bit more concrete than appreciation. To be precise, his response was: “F— them.”
Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, traded political favours with Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor, in 2006 while he was a congressman, according to leaked emails.
White House Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel
Mr Emanuel published an endorsement of Mr Blagojevich in the Chicago Tribune in exchange for $2 million (£1.3 million) in school funding to his district, according to the emails, which were released on Monday. The newspaper had recently claimed in an editorial that Mr Blagojevich used public funds to support his re-election campaign.
Mr Blagojevich, who was re-elected in 2006 but resigned in 2009, is currently on trial in Illinois on corruption charges. He is alleged to have attempted to sell Mr Obama’s former Senate seat.
The emails detailing the deal, revealed by the Associated Press, apparently were exchanged between Mr Emanuel, his staff and Mr Blagojevich’s chief aide, Bradley Tusk.
Senior Democrats have told the Telegraph that Mr Emanuel is preparing to stand down after the mid-term congressional elections in November. Continue reading »
President Obama in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, May 28, 2010.
This article originally appeared in RS 1107 from June 24, 2010.
(Rolling Stone Magazine) — On May 27th, more than a month into the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, Barack Obama strode to the podium in the East Room of the White House. For weeks, the administration had been insisting that BP alone was to blame for the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf – and the ongoing failure to stop the massive leak. “They have the technical expertise to plug the hole,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had said only six days earlier. “It is their responsibility.” The president, Gibbs added, lacked the authority to play anything more than a supervisory role – a curious line of argument from an administration that has reserved the right to assassinate American citizens abroad and has nationalized much of the auto industry. “If BP is not accomplishing the task, can you just federalize it?” a reporter asked. “No,” Gibbs replied.
Now, however, the president was suddenly standing up to take command of the cleanup effort. “In case you were wondering who’s responsible,” Obama told the nation, “I take responsibility.” Sounding chastened, he acknowledged that his administration had failed to adequately reform the Minerals Management Service, the scandal-ridden federal agency that for years had essentially allowed the oil industry to self-regulate. “There wasn’t sufficient urgency,” the president said. “Absolutely I take responsibility for that.” He also admitted that he had been too credulous of the oil giants: “I was wrong in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.” He unveiled a presidential commission to investigate the disaster, discussed the resignation of the head of MMS, and extended a moratorium on new deepwater drilling. “The buck,” he reiterated the next day on the sullied Louisiana coastline, “stops with me.”
What didn’t stop was the gusher. Hours before the president’s press conference, an ominous plume of oil six miles wide and 22 miles long was discovered snaking its way toward Mobile Bay from BP’s wellhead next to the wreckage of its Deepwater Horizon rig. Admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. commander overseeing the cleanup, framed the spill explicitly as an invasion: “The enemy is coming ashore,” he said. Louisiana beaches were assaulted by blobs of oil that began to seep beneath the sand; acres of marshland at the “Bird’s Foot,” where the Mississippi meets the Gulf, were befouled by shit-brown crude – a death sentence for wetlands that serve as the cradle for much of the region’s vital marine life. By the time Obama spoke, it was increasingly evident that this was not merely an ecological disaster. It was the most devastating assault on American soil since 9/11.
Like the attacks by Al Qaeda, the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the administration had ignored them. Instead of cracking down on MMS, as he had vowed to do even before taking office, Obama left in place many of the top officials who oversaw the agency’s culture of corruption. He permitted it to rubber-stamp dangerous drilling operations by BP – a firm with the worst safety record of any oil company – with virtually no environmental safeguards, using industry-friendly regulations drafted during the Bush years. He calibrated his response to the Gulf spill based on flawed and misleading estimates from BP – and then deployed his top aides to lowball the flow rate at a laughable 5,000 barrels a day, long after the best science made clear this catastrophe would eclipse the Exxon Valdez.
Hours after BP’s rig sank on April 22nd, a white board in NOAA’s “war room” in Seattle displays the administration’s initial, worst-case estimate of the spill — 64,000 to 110,000 barrels a day.
Even after the president’s press conference, Rolling Stone has learned, the administration knew the spill could be far worse than its “best estimate” acknowledged. That same day, the president’s Flow Rate Technical Group – a team of scientists charged with establishing the gusher’s output – announced a new estimate of 12,000 to 25,000 barrels, based on calculations from video of the plume. In fact, according to interviews with team members and scientists familiar with its work, that figure represents the plume group’s minimum estimate. The upper range was not included in their report because scientists analyzing the flow were unable to reach a consensus on how bad it could be. “The upper bound from the plume group, if it had come out, is very high,” says Timothy Crone, a marine geophysicist at Columbia University who has consulted with the government’s team. “That’s why they had resistance internally. We’re talking 100,000 barrels a day.”
The median figure for Crone’s independent calculations is 55,000 barrels a day – the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez every five days. “That’s what the plume team’s numbers show too,” Crone says. A source privy to internal discussions at one of the world’s top oil companies confirms that the industry privately agrees with such estimates. “The industry definitely believes the higher-end values,” the source says. “That’s accurate – if not more than that.” The reason, he adds, is that BP appears to have unleashed one of the 10 most productive wells in the Gulf. “BP screwed up a really big, big find,” the source says. “And if they can’t cap this, it’s not going to blow itself out anytime soon.”
Even worse, the “moratorium” on drilling announced by the president does little to prevent future disasters. The ban halts exploratory drilling at only 33 deepwater operations, shutting down less than one percent of the total wells in the Gulf. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Cabinet-level official appointed by Obama to rein in the oil industry, boasts that “the moratorium is not a moratorium that will affect production” – which continues at 5,106 wells in the Gulf, including 591 in deep water.
Most troubling of all, the government has allowed BP to continue deep-sea production at its Atlantis rig – one of the world’s largest oil platforms. Capable of drawing 200,000 barrels a day from the seafloor, Atlantis is located only 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana, in waters nearly 2,000 feet deeper than BP drilled at Deepwater Horizon. According to congressional documents, the platform lacks required engineering certification for as much as 90 percent of its subsea components – a flaw that internal BP documents reveal could lead to “catastrophic” errors. In a May 19th letter to Salazar, 26 congressmen called for the rig to be shut down immediately. “We are very concerned,” they wrote, “that the tragedy at Deepwater Horizon could foreshadow an accident at BP Atlantis.”
The administration’s response to the looming threat? According to an e-mail to a congressional aide from a staff member at MMS, the agency has had “zero contact” with Atlantis about its safety risks since the Deepwater rig went down. Continue reading »
(AFP) — It’s a terrifying image transfixing Washington: President Barack Obama’s bruising enforcer Rahm Emanuel, naked, in a communal shower, berating a congressman over perceived political cowardice.
The legend of Emanuel, revered as a master of the US capital’s dark arts by allies and foes alike, is being further embroidered by a tour-de-force of score settling by resigning Democratic lawmaker Eric Massa.
Massa, a former navy commander and cancer survivor, has given a series of evolving reasons for his departure, and resigned suddenly this week facing harassment allegations from a former male staffer.
Washington is notorious as a town of naked partisanship, but Massa raised eyebrows several notches with his account of Emanuel’s conduct.
In his most colourful parting shot, on a radio show on Sunday, he accused the White House chief of staff of cornering him at the locker room of the House of Representatives gym and hammering him for failing to back Obama’s budget.
“Rahm Emanuel is the son of the devil’s spawn,” Massa said. “He is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote.”
Massa, who is considered a liberal, said he had been standing in the gym “showering, naked as a jaybird, and here comes Rahm Emanuel … poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me.
“Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?”
Massa, who formally resigned on Monday, also alleged that he had been pushed out of Congress because he opposed Obama’s signature health care bill, which is struggling to make its way off Capitol Hill.
The White House on Tuesday dismissed the claims by Massa, a one-term congressman from New York, as “crazy allegations”.
“I think this whole story is ridiculous. I think the latest excuse is silly and ridiculous,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told ABC, and accused Massa of giving a string of contradictory reasons for his departure. Continue reading »
“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Added: 22. October 2009
Fall Of The Republic documents how an offshore corporate cartel is bankrupting the US economy by design. Leaders are now declaring that world government has arrived and that the dollar will be replaced by a new global currency.
President Obama has brazenly violated Article 1 Section 9 of the US Constitution by seating himself at the head of United Nations’ Security Council, thus becoming the first US president to chair the world body.
A scientific dictatorship is in its final stages of completion, and laws protecting basic human rights are being abolished worldwide; an iron curtain of high-tech tyranny is now descending over the planet.
A worldwide regime controlled by an unelected corporate elite is implementing a planetary carbon tax system that will dominate all human activity and establish a system of neo-feudal slavery.
Rahm Emanuel was only giving voice to widespread political wisdom when he said that a crisis should never be “wasted.” Crises enable vastly accelerated political agendas and initiatives scarcely conceivable under calmer circumstances. So it goes now.
Here we stand more than a year into a grave economic crisis with a projected budget deficit of 13% of GDP. That’s more than twice the size of the next largest deficit since World War II. And this projected deficit is the culmination of a year when the federal government, at taxpayers’ expense, acquired enormous stakes in the banking, auto, mortgage, health-care and insurance industries.
With the crisis, the ill-conceived government reactions, and the ensuing economic downturn, the unfunded liabilities of federal programs — such as Social Security, civil-service and military pensions, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Medicare and Medicaid — are over the $100 trillion mark. With U.S. GDP and federal tax receipts at about $14 trillion and $2.4 trillion respectively, such a debt all but guarantees higher interest rates, massive tax increases, and partial default on government promises.
But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.
About eight months ago, starting in early September 2008, the Bernanke Fed did an abrupt about-face and radically increased the monetary base — which is comprised of currency in circulation, member bank reserves held at the Fed, and vault cash — by a little less than $1 trillion. The Fed controls the monetary base 100% and does so by purchasing and selling assets in the open market. By such a radical move, the Fed signaled a 180-degree shift in its focus from an anti-inflation position to an anti-deflation position.
The percentage increase in the monetary base is the largest increase in the past 50 years by a factor of 10 (see chart). It is so far outside the realm of our prior experiential base that historical comparisons are rendered difficult if not meaningless. The currency-in-circulation component of the monetary base — which prior to the expansion had comprised 95% of the monetary base — has risen by a little less than 10%, while bank reserves have increased almost 20-fold. Now the currency-in-circulation component of the monetary base is a smidgen less than 50% of the monetary base. Yikes!