Friday, July 31, 2015

Mitch McConnell's Heartbreak

When Plans for the Oligarchy Hit a Snag
SOMEBODY forgot to bribe the Federal Court

MeanMesa encountered this extremely well written article from PoliticusUSA and thought it would be a "bright spot" for ending July. Please take a moment to read through the entire thing. Apparently Senator Mitch "the Chin" McConnell was unable to deliver the goods to the Owners of the Republican Party as quickly as the Kochs ordered.

MeanMesa's compliments to Rmuse and PoliticusUSA.

Federal Appeals Court Dealt
McConnell And the Kochs A Bad Day
By: Rmuse

Thursday, July, 30th, 2015
[Links enabled. Visit site here - PoliticusUSA]

In America’s extremely divisive political atmosphere, one that informs there are really two separate Americas, it is remarkable indeed that Americans on both sides of the political spectrum agree on at least one very important issue. One segment of the population pants for, and avidly supports, theocratic government, widespread poverty, white racial purity, and perpetual war against everyone, and yet curiously, even the inhumane religious bigot voting bloc (Republicans) that retain power due to corporate money believes there is just too much money, especially corporate money, in politics. For Republican politicians though, and their funding machine the Koch brothers, there can never be enough money to buy control of state and federal government.

Subsequently, after at least two Supreme Court Justices commingled, conspired, and
Brazen Kentucky Corruption -
Selling Democracy for Cheap
colluded with the Koch brothers and an entity (Citizens United) over how to get more corporate money in politics, the High Court ruled for the Koch brothers, Citizens United, and now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The now-infamous Citizens United ruling fundamentally put control of America’s government up for sale to the highest bidder and no human being in America, except maybe the Koch brothers, was happier than Mitch McConnell.

Earlier this month, the media was relatively silent about a ruling in Washington that was likely the second worst day of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 35-year political life. Nearly a year ago at a ‘secret’ Koch brother strategy meeting for billionaires buying shares in the Koch venture to control of the United States government, McConnell complained mercilessly that he was forced to vote on foolish things like minimum wage and unemployment insurance, and to get retribution against Democrats and satisfy the Koch brothers he pledged to “go after” and abolish most of the federal government, if not “all of it.” Of course Mitch thanked the Koch brothers for their support because without it McConnell and Republicans could not complete the task at hand. McConnell also shared an intimate, poignant moment regarding a personal tragedy he said was the “worst day of his 35-year political life; the day George W. Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation into law.”

Now, if that was the worst day of his political life, a unanimous (11-0) ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington must be a close second. The Appellate Court ruled that the ban on federal campaign contributions by individuals who contract with the government is constitutional. The takeaway from the ruling, besides putting a damper on McConnell’s political life, is that regardless the push by the Koch-Republicans and two horrendous rulings by Koch acolytes on the Supreme Court, 11 appellate judges firmly believe there is too much money in politics and that more “can be a very bad thing.” Mitch McConnell believes otherwise despite polling after polling revealing that an overwhelming 85 percent of Americans believe that political campaign financing needs at the very least “fundamental changes,” or better yet “a complete overhaul.” However, Republicans have an innate following the will of the people, or the Constitution for that matter, and in that spirit McConnell and Republicans are conniving to gut more from campaign finance laws to expedite the Koch brothers’ purchase and control of state and federal government.

After the 1974 Watergate scandal, Congress passed a law establishing limits on how much money people could give and how much politicians could spend on their campaigns; it also “mandated” disclosure to ensure that regular citizens could “follow the money.” The High Court eviscerated 1974 law immediately by eliminating campaign spending limits in Buckley v. Valeo; that ruling started the “fundraising arms race” the wealthy are winning and to ensure total victory, the Koch Supreme Court wiped out the rest of Buckley, and Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC allowed corporations to spend unlimited money directly and voided individual aggregate contribution limits; all in the name of “freedom of speech.” Apparently, the High Court’s Koch surrogates ruled according to the phrase “money talks,” and since the Kochs and corporations have lots of money, they get lots of “free speech” to buy government.

Despite the Koch Court wiping out campaign finance regulations, there was one particular rule that Mitch McConnell was unable to eliminate last year. McConnell waited until the eleventh hour of a must pass spending bill to insert a provision that “relaxed” campaign finance coordination between candidates and political parties. Having failed to enact a provision that would consolidate power within party committees that raise money for House and Senate candidates, McConnell snuck the same “campaign finance reform” in the completely unrelated fiscal 2016 Financial Services spending bill due by this Friday. McConnell, and the Koch brothers, lust to enact into law, abolish more campaign finance regulations before the 2016 general election season fully gets underway. Apparently the Kochs, who are rumored to have pledged upwards of a billion dollars to buy all three branches of government, want all campaign finance regulations abolished to buy the government in 2016 and end their costly crusade to own America. With an owned and operated acolyte like McConnell, who also wants campaign finance rules eliminated, the Kochs are closing in on their vision of America without campaign finance regulations to hasten achieving their bigger goal of abolishing the Federal Elections Commission along with free and fair elections. It is exactly what a fascist dictator would do and a means for the Koch brothers to repay Republican Mitch McConnell with the greatest day of his 35-year political life.

Although the Appellate Court’s ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court for the Koch brothers to overturn with extreme “free speech” prejudice, it was encouraging that eleven federal judges unanimously decided that there can be too much money in politics. However, that hopefulness has to be tempered with despair that the ruling did not, in any conceivable way, threaten Citizens United or the Kochs’ progress in buying government. It just temporarily kept in place the ban on federal campaign contributions “by individuals” who contract with the government; there is no ban on companies, corporations, the Koch brothers, oil industry, Wall Street, and defense industry, or Republicans would cease to exist as a political power and Mitch McConnell would know what “the worst day of his political life” really feels like.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Social Security - A GOP "Dirty Tricks" Primer

Just a Wee Bit About Routine
 Social Security Bookkeeping
These details may be too complex for hillbillies and bigots,
 but they're perfect for reducing grandma to a blubbering mess.

Why can't they just leave us alone?
Just think of this post as MeanMesa's effort to "get ahead of the curve." The House Republicans, no doubt following the direct orders of their billionaire owners, have patched together an exquisite, albeit utterly wretched, little Social Security "bankruptcy terror scam" to spring on US elders in the middle of the 2016 election frenzy.

Like many of the "little projects" a Republican Congress is tasked with performing, this particular case is, for all practical purposes, conveniently invisible. In better times older citizens of this country were not intimidated into spending large portions of their golden years frantically threading through the Congressional Record searching for the latest evidence that the Koch brothers were scheming to grab their Social Security.

These times are not anything similar to those "better times" of yesterday. The strikingly unlovely political creatures presently in control of the Congress are little more than criminal "lap dogs" for their oligarchic bosses, and those bosses have been having daily wet dreams of "reinvesting" the $2+ Tn Social Security Trust into "some really great ground up opportunities" in Wall Street markets "to boost return revenues" every night for decades.

We should chase this rat just a little farther down the hole before rejoining the discussion of the primary focus of this post.

[MeanMesa's thanks to Thom Hartmann for this "heads-up;"  link OPED News-Thom Hartmann]

A "Sentimental Journey" Back
 to the George W. Bush Days
The [Un-Offset, Galactic Size Tax Cut] Gift that just keeps on giving...
just not giving to you. You just pay to make up the shortage.

See the brown? [image]
Republicans have a long and painfully credible history of being absolutely terrible with handling the country's fiscal health. Most of the disasters in this long series stem from the same cause: the Owners of the GOP absolutely forbid their puppets in Congress to tax dynastic wealth in any way -- at all -- in any amount -- ever. The recent Republican autocrat, George W. Bush. may offer the most egregious example of this disastrous type of this barely disguised, greed driven incompetence.

George II had a few really big legacy "ideas" requiring substantially more money than was available. As a consequence the Bush II administration began borrowing every dollar possible from absolutely anyone who was foolish enough to lend it. The Social Security Administration, operating under the control of the Bush Congress, was forced to extend immense loans from the Social Security Trust.

Predictably, the US economy finally collapsed in 2008 when the level of oligarchic looting -- with the consistent complicity of the GOP controlled Congress -- crossed the "tipping point," most Americans who had previously held any assets of any type suddenly [in a matter of five or six weeks] found themselves with 40% less personal wealth.

Well, this "list of victims" also included the Social Security Trust. Fortunately, the SSA had managed to insist on Treasury notes as collateral for the funds removed from the Trust. While these are not the typical form of Treasury bond, they are still quite valid, and -- importantly -- because these notes still hold some sort of redeemable value, they represent a "smoldering ogre" for the Republicans.

Even while contemporary GOP "leaders" of the Boehner/McConnell ilk [most of the same ones were there when the economy was sacked in 2008...] continue to blindly obey their respective billionaire donors, they have grown understandably more and more "nervous" with respect to this Republican debt held by the SSA Trust. Being entirely inept in terms of actually operating our government, these Republicans now face the very unpleasant reality that they are probably about to lose at least one part of Congress [the Senate], and that they have absolutely no idea how to discharge this debt, that is, no idea whatsoever about how this debt might be paid back.

Replacing Failed Republican Economic Policy
 with Republican Social Security Propaganda
Better have plenty of propaganda because the policy really, really failed.

Beyond the "not knowing how to pay it back" problem, the Congressional Republicans were also doing "yeoman's work" for the propaganda factories in the oligarchs' think tank bunkers. Anything -- absolutely anything -- which could be done to twist the finances of the Social Security system into a weaker state could become a political talking point, and this included anything which could be done to even make it look weaker.

We can see this in popular Congressional "talking points" implying that the SS Trust is bankrupt, or that the return on the Social Security Administration's intentionally conservative investment policies are insufficient to keep the Trust going and benefits being paid. Of course these "GOP facts" as they are implied by these statements are entirely false. The extremely ugly nature of these GOP talking points cannot be politely dismissed under the guise of their being "simply confused," "innocently misinterpreted," "improperly presented" or made less outrageous by any other type of possible mitigation. 

These are LIES. 
Out right, fraudulent, premeditated,
criminal, conspiratorial, Congressional LIES.

And, every Republican who has stood before a microphone proclaiming any part of this phony argument has known -- at the very instant his jaw began to move -- that he was absolutely not telling the truth. THAT is today's GOP.

Republican propaganda about what Republicans very intentionally and incessantly call "entitlements" is as predictable as a good wind-up alarm clock. [When MeanMesa refers to "entitlements," it includes the entire Social Security safety net: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security retirement, Social Security disability -- the works. When Republicans refer to "entitlements," they are referring to money which they think should rightfully belong to them and to their bosses.] Each round of the propaganda begins with the claim that the system is $50 Bn in debt without mentioning that, at the present, the system is $2.500 Bn to the good!

After that we hear the "repair suggestions."

1. Raise the retirement age to 68 or 70.
2. Cut benefits by 20%.
3. Work longer hours.
4. The Trust fund must be invested on Wall Street.
5. And, the cravenly short sighted "futuristic" scam where benefits get cut for the future recipients but not for the old people who still might vote for them in this election. "You old people here at the town hall will get your benefits, but there won't be enough for your children and grandchildren. They will have to do with less."

Why are they so obsessed with this? It isn't even good politics.

The answer to this question is simple. These cuts and new limits to benefits are the only "solutions" possible when the alternative of increasing SS revenue is taken "completely off the table." Funding trouble with the Social Security Disability Trust is also seen as an available "avenue of attack" on the ADA. [Social Security Targeted on Day One of Congress]

Social Security operates in roughly the same manner as hedge funds, mutual funds and stock brokerages with the important exception that it doesn't invest in the "Wheel of Fortune" market casino shots because they are too unstable. Social Security's investments, on the other hand, have a low return on its investments, for example, around 2-3% this year. It's been as high as 14-15% when the US economy was functioning more normally. [Read more]

Of course the "return on investment" from the SSA's forced investment in the Bush Oil War Adventures [think extortion] is dismally low -- which drags the current overall investment return rate down. [As mentioned before, an unending Republican talking point which is used to justify investing the Trust funds in the stock market.] All that's left of that "strong armed" investment from the Bush years is a pile of Treasury notes, notes which have been paying around 0% interest lately thanks to the Republican world-wide economic disaster in 2008. [Remember when Al Gore was ridiculed for proposing that the Social Security Trust should be kept in a "lock box?"]

Further, when the US economy was staggering after the last Republican looting frenzy had reduced it to a near feudal level, the SS payments continued to pump economic activity into the corpse when way too much of the nation's "normal business" had become a credit starved, comatose liability.

The mere thought of SSA ever "demanding payment" for cashing out these particular Treasury notes is the constant nightmare for the sold out Republicans who were in charge of the Congress and able to force the Trust to finance Bush's crazy wars. It continues to serve as a nightmare for the current crop of Republican puppets in the House.

The actual amount extracted from the Trust is hard to pin down accurately, but it might have been as high as $1 Tn or more. However, a good portion never even made it to the asset portfolio of parasitic corporate leeches such as Halliburton, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin and other war profiteers. Instead, it wound up in the pockets of, wait for it, the same oligarchs and corporations who were already presently enjoying lots of tax payer money they had already "earned" in other ways.

115th Congress:
 Republican Dirty Tricks Committee
Beating up Social Security finances in time for the election

When the 115th Congress "opened for business" in January of 2015 three of the very first votes taken were entirely the normal routine for every new Congress [House of Representatives].

1. Elect the Speaker of the House
2. Enact House rules for the conduct of the Congress, and,
3. [as part of the "Rules" vote] Congress transfers money already in either the Social Security Trust account or the SS Disability Trust account back and forth, if necessary.

Dirty trick? Although every Congress since the beginning of the Social Security program has routinely done this, the GOP controlled 115th Congress did not.

By 2016 election time the SS Disability Trust will have run out of money.

For this simple reason.

Republicans target Social Security disability
They say new limits will force Congress to fix the ailing program.
 Liberals see a ploy to weaken all of Social Security.

By David Rogers 1/20/15
[Read the original article here-POLITICO]

Like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, House Republicans kick-started a bigger fire than many imagined with an opening day rules change that revived Social Security as a hot issue for this Congress — and the 2016 presidential elections.

The GOP’s immediate target is Social Security’s sprawling disability insurance program, which has grown at a pace far beyond its revenues and will exhaust its trust fund reserves by December 2016, threatening a 19 percent cut in benefits.

In the past, Congress has simply shifted revenues from Social Security’s larger retirement account to fill holes in the disability fund. But the new House rule throws up a roadblock by creating a point of order against any such bill that does not improve the “actuarial balance” of the combined funds.

“What we want to do is not kick the can down the road anymore,” said Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), who promoted the change as chairman of the Social Security panel on the House Ways and Means Committee. “The rule is intended to get the Congress to at least take a first step toward solving the Social Security problem. If we continue the way we are, it’s a go-broke operation.”

“If all they’re doing is rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul, that’s going to be subject to a point of order, and rightly so in my opinion,” added Rep. Thomas Reed (R-N.Y.). “We have to protect the retirement fund and the retiree.”

It all sounds like “good government,” but the politics are rich.

House Democrats were not consulted on the rules change, and liberals accuse the GOP of trying to cull the weak from the herd, pitting the disabled against pensioners to undermine the larger Social Security coalition.

In fact, the new rule’s fine print leaves an escape hatch for Republicans to move tens of billions into the disability fund if this gambit fails. Still, the upshot could be a one-two punch Democrats most fear: a first-round debate over disability funding in 2016 followed by a bigger battle over all of Social Security in 2017, when Republicans hope to control both Congress and the White House.

“They’re looking for a new weapon,” said Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on Ways and Means. “What they’re doing in this rule is to use any problems within disability as a way to attack the whole system. It’s dangerous doubletalk when they have been the problem, not the answer.”

Adding to Levin’s fears was testimony last week before Ways and Means, in which Harvard economist Martin Feldstein promoted the idea of Congress gradually raising the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits to as high as 70. That would increase labor-force participation among people older than 65, expanding the economy, Feldstein said. But raising the retirement age would add to the strain on the disability fund, which has had to cover more workers longer since the retirement age was raised from 65 to 67.

These tensions fueled a separate uproar last week over remarks by 2016 presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul about the disability program.

Testing the waters in an appearance in New Hampshire, the Kentucky Republican suggested that half the people on Social Security disability had no more to worry about than achy backs and anxiety in the morning. “Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work and their back hurts,” Paul said disparagingly.

After video of his remarks went online, Paul quickly backtracked: “We absolutely should take care of those truly in need of help,” he said in a statement.

At this stage, the White House and Treasury show no sign of backing down from their intent to pursue a straight reallocation of funds from the retirement account, formally known as the Old Age Survivors Insurance or OASI trust fund. Given all the divisions already in Washington, adding a new procedural hurdle is “unhelpful,” an administration official said icily.

Indeed, transfers between the two Social Security funds have gone on for years. Each relies on a percentage of the same payroll tax, and the disability program helped the retirement trust fund in the 1980s by reducing its own share of the tax revenue.

What’s most changed now is that critics are singling out the disability fund as the profligate partner — and a harbinger of bad times ahead for all.

Without doubt, the growth of the disability program has been explosive.

In the past 20 years, the number of workers getting disability payments has more than doubled to 8.95 million last month. About $140 billion went out the door in fiscal 2013, double what the costs were just 10 years before. And like food stamps in the Farm Bill debate, disability payments are common enough now to be a whipping boy for conservatives like Paul, playing on resentment toward people receiving government aid during hard economic times.

At one level, this is all political catnip for Democrats, eager to be seen as defenders of Social Security and its New Deal heritage. But given their history, Republicans don’t come to the table with clean hands.

For example, the GOP’s 2011 budget deal with President Barack Obama held out the promise of millions in appropriations to help the Social Security Administration fight precisely what Republicans complain about in the disability program: medical fraud. But for 2012 and 2013, House Republicans failed to approve the money, thereby adding to Social Security’s woes.

Moreover, an analysis by Social Security’s chief actuary, Stephen Goss, suggests there’s less to the new House rule than meets the eye. That’s because the point of order is triggered only if lawmakers exceed a “0.01 percent” threshold, which equates to a $38.6 billion cap on what any one Congress can move from the retirement fund, Goss told POLITICO.

That leaves too little room for some long-term, multiyear reallocation of payroll tax revenues but it is enough to get past 2016, by Goss’ calculations.

“We’re projecting [disability] trust funds will be depleted in December of 2016. … The shortfall for the ensuing 12 months would come to about $29 billion,” Goss said. “What that means is that we could have a tax rate reallocation that could apply in 2016 or 2016 and 2017 that would generate up to $30 billion or even $35 billion transferred to the [disability] trust fund, which would at least extend its reserve depletion date for one more year.”

It’s a stop-and-go scenario that serves neither party’s goals in the end. Much depends in the interim on Johnson and new Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Ryan has boasted that Ways and Means will be “command central” for the GOP’s agenda, and he has installed his own staff in Johnson’s Social Security subcommittee. In the previous Congress, the disability debate among Republicans was shaped by flamboyant personalities such as the now-retired Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has had to surrender his platform as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But now, Ryan would like to be the architect for reforms in the social safety net.

There is room for compromise. The crisis is no surprise — as long ago as 1995, Social Security’s actuaries were predicting 2016 as a breaking point for the disability fund. And multiple academic papers from the center-left and center-right outline changes Congress could consider.

Unleash the GOP Social Security Terror Propaganda!
These are on the first page of links found by the GOOGLE.

By this time MeanMesa visitors have already concluded that "there is no there, there," but rest assured, these despicable political creatures such as the current gang running the Congress will eagerly "unleash" this phony "emergency" just in time to return every terrorized US senior and disability benefactor "to the GOP's fold" in time to re-elect them.

In fact, they've already begun.

MeanMesa GOOGLED the topic, and BOOM! -- as usual, the oligarch tribe has, once again, forgotten that "everything that goes on the Internet, stays on the Internet."

These are the headlines from the first page of the search engine results -- and it's still months before the GOP's propaganda will be "officially released!"

Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund Will Be Exhausted in Just Two Years: Beneficiaries Facing Nearly 20 Percent Cut in Benefits [Heritage Foundation]

Social Security disability trust fund projected to run out of cash by 2016 [WASHINGTON POST]

Medicare, Social Security march toward insolvency [The HILL]

Warning: Disability Insurance Is Hitting the Wall [E21-Manhattan Institute]

The Social Security cash crunch Congress can't ignore [CNN MONEY]

CRFB Breaks Down the Social Security Trustees' Report, and,
Social Security Trustees Sound the Solvency Alarm, and,
Social Security Costs Keep Increasing Over the Long Term -- all July, 2015
 [Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget]

Don't take the bait. Un-elect these propaganda drooling thieves while we still can.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Susana Martinez' Swan Song?

For New Mexico Short Current Essays visitors
Two of MeanMesa's Favorite state employees:
Keller and Balderas


Column: Susana's Tax and Rev Woes?
By Hal Rhodes

Upon Reflection
POSTED: 07/23/2015

Back in January, as he was about to be sworn in as New Mexico's attorney general, Hector Balderas reminded an Albuquerque Business First reporter that during the previous eight years as state auditor he had exposed corruption in a number of state agencies.

As attorney general, he will be no less vigilant, Balderas pledged. The "Attorney General's Office has powers," he noted. "That's what's exciting about the Attorney General's Office."

Roughly two weeks ago, Balderas' successor as state auditor, Tim Keller, handed the new attorney general a preliminary investigation conducted by an independent, certified forensic investigative accounting firm indicating that top officials of the state Taxation and Revenue Department "improperly intervened in tax matters."

It was subsequently reported that one of the top Tax and Rev officials under scrutiny is none other than the department's cabinet secretary, Demesia Padilla, about whom Keller said in a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez, "there is reasonable basis to open an investigation into" whether "the secretary improperly influenced, or attempted to influence the tax audit of a former client."

Before joining the Martinez administration in 2011, Padilla was part owner of an accounting firm, although neither Keller nor Balderas has revealed a "former client" of that firm who might allegedly have received personal attention from the secretary and her cohorts at Tax and Rev.

By all accounts, the investigation into Secretary Padilla's efforts on behalf of a "former client" began in early February with an anonymous tip left on the Fraud Hotline maintained by the Office of State Auditor.

It's all quite mysterious, and key questions beg for convincing answers.

Who is the former client Padilla allegedly tried to help in her capacity as head of the tax department? What kind of help might she allegedly have tried to render? And why?

In his letter to the governor, State Auditor Keller reported that the outside forensic auditing firm that conducted the preliminary investigation uncovered evidence that the secretary's activities were somehow calculated to safeguard against "possible liability stemming from her previous work for the taxpayer as a certified public accountant."

Keller's letter also claims that certain unnamed top Tax and Rev employees "who refused to support the secretary's efforts may have experienced retaliation."

And, if that were not enough, it turns out that in the course of their inquiry into this affair, the outside investigators reportedly came upon a whole batch of audio recordings featuring Tax and Rev officials in discussions related to this business.

True to custom when trouble surfaces in the Martinez administration, the governor has mainly kept a low profile with few if any comments relevant to the charges against her cabinet secretary at the Department of Taxation and Revenue.

Also true to custom, Martinez's staffers have thundered forth with a regrettable if inevitable battery of attacks on the State Auditor, accusing him of everything from partisanship to headline chasing.

Which leaves the rest of us to wonder if all that smoke billowing out Secretary Demesia Padilla's regime at Tax and Rev might actually have some flames fanning it.

Naturally the state Democratic Party chairwoman, Deb Haaland, isn't taking a charitable view of the situation. New Mexicans "must demand the highest standards of our public officials and unfortunately Secretary Padilla has fallen short . The responsible way to move forward is for her to submit her resignation to Gov. Martinez," Haaland concluded.

Perhaps. But a no less responsible way to move forward is for the state Attorney General to use those powers about which he spoke before taking office. Balderas has the matter under review.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Billionaire Economics of Denying Climate Change

Peering Into the Oligarchic Climate Abyss
Spending too much time with the obvious
will only leave you even more confused.
Bring a flashlight.

Now, right off the bat MeanMesa has no interest in "glossing over" a few of the difficulties we "mortals" face when we try to analyze the patterns of behavior found in the "Masters of the Universe," that is, the patterns of behavior encountered as one considers the billionaires and oligarchs who are presently in charge of almost everything. The particular "difficulty" referenced above is an important one.

Neither the lives, the actions nor the motivations which direct the oligarchs in their day to day lives are visible to those of us "down here." No reportage can penetrate the well financed opaqueness which shelters all the details which might explain this curious pattern of behavior. Of course we receive "news" concerning the largest and slowest moving of these billionaire scams, but every word we receive in such a fashion has been entirely "re-woven" on the unseen looms of the image handlers at the think tanks.

A couple of examples might clarify this.

Our first example is seen in the frantic maneuvers to coerce the government into authorizing the construction of the tar sands pipeline. Even though the environmental damage is well defined, we can still very confidently comprehend the motives behind the "narrative" as it has been woven and delivered to us. Further, the machinations, lies, extortion, bribery and the rest which were designed to "deliver" such an authorization were also generally quite visible -- especially as the tedious efforts continued year after year. The strategy was a complex one which spread out over months and years, but the inclusion of any discernible concern about what the project might mean to the future of the planet was curiously absent.

We can consider this as an economic matter, a political matter or even as an ideological matter, but it remains as shocking evidence of a complete lack of concern for the future welfare of these billionaires' own children and grandchildren.

A second example may be seen in the unrelenting Congressional call for war with Iran. Although it may seem that every cracker GOP Senator in Washington was in some sort of mindless, "genetic" lockstep, the visible unanimity was, of course, no more than a painfully orchestrated, inauthentic ruse designed for popular consumption while appearing to be "representative democracy" as usual. The priority expressed by the billionaires in charge of the Republican Party was, apparently, so intense as to effortlessly justify the recent spate of out right GOP treason in the Senate.

Their appetites had been excited by the recent disaster in Iraq, and they were smelling oil. None of the "details" -- consequences of their jingoist war mongering -- represented any reason for them to hesitate. Again, once this is "boiled down to the bones," we see evidence of deep psychopathy as we watch these billionaires disregard the prospect of their children or grandchildren fighting in [or even living in] a world ablaze with another oil war.

But now, even with these strikingly anti-democratic examples in hand, we arrive at the topic of this post. Although we are handicapped by this dark, carefully crafted, oligarchic opacity, can we "ferret out" the motives which have driven these billionaires to such an awkwardly visible romance with the climate change deniers?

When Billionaires Look at Climate Change,
 What Do They See?
Is there an explanation?
It's time for the BIG ONE, the final money game.

This hand of the planet's poker game has already been dealt.

At this moment the "Masters of the Universe" are humming the old gambling tune in their Wall Street hedge fund bunkers: 

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done
Kenny Rogers, THE GAMBLER
[For the complete lyrics, link here.]

For a start we must understand the stakes. The planetary market consumes 90 million barrels of crude oil per year these days [INDEXMUNDI-crude oil], and the planetary collection of generation plants consumes 8.5 billion short tons of coal [INDEXMUNDI-coal]. This means that those "best positioned" [wealthy enough to own a significant stake] in these industries are "earning" hundreds of millions of dollars per day running these production and marketing corporations.

Every day.

On the opposite side of this picture we see the economic model of the alternatives -- and, importantly, that model's future. The world will, without any doubt, permanently dislodge the existing energy cycle when the "cost" of maintaining it has risen to such an extreme height that it is no longer tolerable. At that point the "value" of the industrial capacity to provide this kind of energy, not to mention the "value" of the crude oil and coal reserves themselves, will plummet rapidly.

The "old economics of energy" will be transformed into the "new economics of energy." The only real question left on the table concerns the rate of that transformation.

Now, while viewing this in such sterile terms may offer a bit of "positivism" for those comfortable with accepting "planetary responsibilities," the view from the country club veranda is running down a quite different track. The billionaires are threading through these future prospects in search of the last opportunities to make "just a little more money."

[MeanMesa offers a chilling, possible explanation of what they might intend to do with this money at the end of the post.]

Perhaps quite naively, MeanMesa has long suspected that -- at least through the first decades of the "modern rational period" when the world was becoming convinced that climate change and energy transformation were unavoidable -- these billionaires were continuing to "cling to the fleeting hope that something else would happen instead." In the situation surrounding us now, even these short sighted types have finally disabused themselves of such fantasies in favor of doing what billionaires do best: "recklessly exploiting every possible, momentary opportunity to become even richer regardless of the consequences for everyone else."

[An excellent book on this topic is Thom Hartmann's "Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight. Link: HARTMANN]

An "additional complicating factor" emerges when we consider the likely prospect of this "transformation" not occurring everywhere at once. It turns out that one of the "every possible opportunities of the moment" surfaces not only from delaying the inevitable change wherever possible, but also by cleverly "scheduling" the sequence and timing when major markets of the "old energy economics" would finally be forced to "transform" themselves to the "new" one.

Not surprisingly the world's largest energy markets correspond to the world's largest economies -- China and the US with the European Union a close third. If the dissolution of the old energy systems in these three markets can be delayed or "opportunistically scheduled," the billionaires stand to rake in monumental profits right up to the last minute.

Probably acting in support of delaying the inevitable climate collapse, US President Obama has managed to reach an agreement with the Peoples Republic. [Read the fact sheet here - US and China Agreement on Climate]

However, this diplomacy illuminates the "tenderness" of the "sequencing" issue. The Chinese were never particularly opposed to doing something about climate change, but they were very concerned about doing something about climate change while the US, still one of their main competitors, enjoyed all the benefits of not doing anything.

Expenses for electrical generation and manufacturing will increase [at least in the short term] while the old coal fired generation is being replaced with sustainable alternatives. Further, this period of "transformation" could easily last for years during which the "lagging partner" would enjoy a significant economic advantage, more or less, at the expense of the other competitor.

Viewed from in an even larger frame, it has been exactly these types of "concerns" which have continued to keep the US Congress [acting in the interest of US billionaires] from ratifying past climate treaties such as Kyoto. In fact, to "lace" this together a bit, these are also precisely the concerns which have motivated the billionaires into the strange behavior noted in the examples -- Keystone and war with Iran -- mentioned in the beginning of this post.

Surviving the "End of the World" in Plutocratic Style
Please pass the caviar...
Will someone please do something about that screaming?

Okay. The "End of the World" part of this title may be a bit over dramatic. The ultimate climate catastrophe approaching us now will, actually, have an end date. It won't go on forever. Previous climatic disasters have "worked themselves out" in hundreds, thousands or millions of years. Still, there remains that "awkward" interregnum during in which seven billion homo sapiens will most likely end up eating each other.

Even the most tragically short sighted and falsely ideological billionaire knows that he is going to need to breathe a lung full of atmosphere with oxygen it it within the next few minutes. Over a slightly longer term the more stable among them will acknowledge that he will need a drink of potable water and something to eat. This leaves us with the fascinating question: "What, exactly, do these fumbling billionaires intend to do should they succeed in blocking every effort to possibly salvage some still inhabitable part of the planet?"

Of course such a question invites us to indulge in the most absolutely wretched, shockingly pedestrian sort of judgmental condemnation, a festering judgment most likely reflecting our utter lack of human concern about these civilization gobbling monsters or their over fed families. Still, these well financed plutocrats, even if they, themselves, lack any particular comprehension or concern for what their avaricious greed is precipitating on the world, are quite nicely equipped with the very best possible, remarkably competent "expert staff." In other words, after being "advised" by these experts of theirs, the approaching climate catastrophe should not catch them by surprise at all.

However, we may safely presume that these dynastic families will take whatever steps might be necessary to guarantee the continuation of their current life styles.

So, if you were one of these billionaires, what are the options you might consider?

What follow is strictly a MeanMesa speculation, but as the arrival of the "big one" continues to grow nearer and nearer, we might start watching what the oligarchs are doing for signs of this type of strategy.

1. Start shopping for some rain forest.

Planetary oxygen levels are going to take a hit. The best places for avoiding this as much as possible will be in the rich, oxygen producing equatorial rain forests. Granted, these are currently being plowed under at an alarming rate -- primarily for vast palm oil plantations, but there is plenty of good real estate left, and most of it is places where a pile of US dollars will go pretty far. Think Borneo or Amazonia. At least to date, rain forests have plenty of precipitation, too, making the fresh water requirements much more manageable.

2. Plan for a crowd.

A safe little spot in "the country." 
Planning for the size of one of these relocated dynastic households will also be an important consideration. Naturally, there will be the household staff, but also included one will need to accommodate some farmers, a significant security team and a few others -- teachers, doctors and life coaches, perhaps. Of course by the time things became tense, having a lot of visible traffic in and out of such a refuge would bring out its own problems, so the plan should have room for the families of all these employees, too. Everyone in this little city will also have to eat regularly, so being self-sustaining will be important.

3. Don't forget security.

Maybe not right away, but sooner or later, rumors about the food and water to be found in this oligarchic paradise will creep into the local population. Beyond the obvious, desperate hordes of families with starving children, there could easily also be those who are simply determined to "get even," although vengeance -- at some point in the decline -- will become nothing more than an indulgent luxury.

Don't count on the government of whatever country you finally select, either. Most of the existing structures of civilization will gradually fall into anarchy or simply blow away in the century long droughts. Yes, you may have bribed your way in quite handsomely, but "things change." Count on it. The planet's population will decrease at a faster and faster rate as the climate catastrophe outlasts the depth of current surpluses, but there will always be a few survivors, and those who are left will become increasing motivated and competent as the herd is thinned.

4. Get over the idea that you are a billionaire.

Your old role as a genteel, highly respected, "Master of Society" will become quite obsolete. The value of all the cash, jewels, real estate and other "assets" which made you stand so far above everyone else in the "old days" will inevitably evaporate in favor of a much more immediate "currency of the day" -- food, water, guns, ammunition and medicine will be worth more than their corresponding weight in gold ingots.

Naturally, after a year or two you'll need to start worrying about the loyalty of all that staff, too. MeanMesa suggests that you consider adopting the new role of being a "brutal war lord."

Climate Change

We're on the train, and we're going where the tracks go. There are no stations in sight at which we might disembark.

Read more from MeanMesaManaging Global Warming Solutions

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Republican Nightmare Waiting in Tehran

Why Republicans Fear an Iran Thaw
They're more worried about actual history "surfacing" than the bomb.

There are all sorts of things surrounding the Iranian nuclear agreement which are inherently hideous to typical, sold out GOP Congressman [Remember - "Congress" includes both the House and the Senate.]. We can effortlessly list a few of the most obvious:

1. The successful negotiations will be "considered a win" for Barack Obama. Although for most Americans this issue is not a debate, Republicans, beholding to their respective oligarchs, have had "death warrant" marching orders since Obama was inaugurated -- "stop, undercut, block or amend absolutely everything which might even possibly become part of the legacy of a successful President."

2. Reactionary right wing media [Remember - not only Murdoch's FOX, but also a good number of the corporate alphabet networks, too.] has been ordered to savage the agreement without any focus on any aspect of the reality of it. "Reality?" Yes, The possibility of peace must be sabotaged regardless of "what the facts are." None of the fascists in Murdoch's "propaganda bunker" have read a single word of the hundred page agreement.

3. Pentagon military procurement contractors have been shoveling "campaign contributions" into House and Senate GOP war chests at a frenzied rate while salivating over providing the weapons -- and reaping the profits -- from another nice long, disastrous, GOP, middle east military adventure. Corporations like Halliburton are having the equivalent of a premature ejaculation.

However, here is a fourth, also frighteningly obvious, problem waiting for the GOP in Tehran, and it has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. It's also interesting to note at this early point in the process, both the Iranians and the US GOP are fully aware of its danger.

Government building, downtown Tehran [image-Alarabiya]
4. The account of the Reagan Iran Contra affair from the "Iranian side" is sitting peacefully filed away somewhere in a few Tehran file cabinets at this very moment. It is quite different than the "US side's" account of the Iran Contra affair.

For the GOP -- dangerously different.

And, even worse for Republicans, it is extremely well documented -- including numerous, absolutely damning diplomatic letters from US Reagan era Republicans. After all these years the stink may have finally drifted out of the Iranian capital, but this is so stinky, all that can change in a minute.

Although MeanMesa generally doesn't care for "stink," this particular case promises to be utterly delicious. Yes, "roses, simply roses." Even better, it is going to be unfolding in all its majesty just as the GOP's "clown car" 2016 election campaigns are in full swing.

A Brief "Refresher Course:" Carter, Reagan, 
the Ayatollah, Nicaragua, the hostages,
the election, the cash, the guns and the conspiracy.

Explaining why in the world the Iranians want nuclear weapons.

Yes. This IS, indeed, a giant "puddle of yesterday's news," however, MeanMesa considers the tale to be one which absolutely merits a "re-visitation" given the events currently unfolding in Washington.

Americans were very successfully fed an incredible re-writing of history as US-Iran affairs were hitting their low point in 1979. Should those affairs improve following the nuclear agreement just made between the Islamic State, the US and five other "developed" nations [including the Russian Federation and the Peoples Republic of China], we can anticipate a rather startling new transparency to emerge -- one which will very significantly alter the "propaganda background" initiated for US consumption. 

MeanMesa scouted around on the GOOGLE for an easily digestible account of the events in 1979 and decided on this reporting. Although the focus of this report centers on the US refusal to grant the Iranian UN Ambassador a VISA, the body of the reporting delivers an accurate narrative about US-Iranian relations in general.

Please spend a few minutes with the following article. You deserve to have the facts.
Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995
[Visit the site  here.]

Reagan-Bush Ties to Iran-Hostage Crisis
April 9, 2014

Exclusive: The Senate wants to block Iran’s new UN ambassador because he was linked to the Iran hostage crisis 35 years ago, but that standard would strip honors from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, implicated in extending the hostage crisis to win the 1980 election, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

U.S. government officials are in high dudgeon again – this time over Iran’s audacity in naming an ambassador to the United Nations who allegedly played a minor role in the 1979-81 crisis in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days in Iran. But the same U.S. officials ignore the now overwhelming evidence that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush helped extend the hostages’ suffering to gain an edge in the 1980 election.

The double standard – getting worked up over the allegations about Iranian Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi and going silent over the evidence implicating Reagan and Bush – is just the latest in a long series of examples of the U.S. government’s hypocrisy.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering 
his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981.

Indeed, one might think that the near treasonous behavior of Reagan and Bush was more objectionable than whatever Aboutalebi did as a young man in Tehran. He has denied direct participation in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 though he apparently provided some assistance with translations and negotiations. Aboutalebi is now a close adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and has served as Iranian ambassador to Belgium, Italy, Australia and the European Union.

It is rare for the United States to block an ambassador to the United Nations, which is located in New York City, but Aboutalebi’s selection has become the latest excuse for congressional hardliners to throw a wrench into negotiations aimed at limiting but not eliminating Iran’s nuclear program. On Monday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to deny Aboutalebi a visa for entering the United States. Following the Senate’s lead, the Obama administration also has criticized the nomination.

The irony, however, is that Cruz and pretty much every leading Republican model themselves after President Reagan whose election in 1980 now appears to have been aided by his campaign’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to gain the hostages’ freedom. Those talks broke down in October 1980 and the hostages were only freed after Reagan was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1981.

Reagan’s purported “October Surprise” operation to torpedo Carter’s hoped-for success in getting the hostages out before the Nov. 4, 1980, election would have made the Republican icon a much bigger villain in the hostages’ ordeal than Aboutalebi. George H.W. Bush, who was Reagan’s running mate in 1980, was also implicated in the sabotage operation.

Mounting Evidence

The evidence of this Republican skullduggery has been building for more than three decades, with the 1980 contacts between the Reagan team and radical Iranians appearing to be the opening chapter of the Iran-Contra saga of 1985-86, which also involved secret contacts and the trading of arms for hostages.

Both operations also were shielded by aggressive Republican cover-ups that extended from 1986 to 1993, although congressional and government investigators did a much better job in excavating the Iran-Contra secrets than they did with the October Surprise case. It wasn’t until last June that Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, who headed both congressional inquiries, admitted that he had been misled about key October Surprise evidence.

In a phone interview, the retired Indiana Democrat responded to a document that I had e-mailed him revealing that in 1991 a deputy White House counsel working for then-President George H.W. Bush was notified by the State Department that Reagan’s campaign director William Casey had taken a trip to Madrid in relation to the so-called October Surprise issue.

Casey’s alleged trip to Madrid in 1980 had been at the center of Hamilton’s investigation in 1991-92 into whether Reagan’s campaign went behind Carter’s back to frustrate his hostage negotiations. In early 1993, Hamilton’s task force dismissed the allegations after concluding that Casey had not traveled to Madrid.

“We found no evidence to confirm Casey’s trip to Madrid,” Hamilton told me. “We couldn’t show that. … The [Bush-41] White House did not notify us that he did make the trip. Should they have passed that on to us? They should have because they knew we were interested in that.”

Asked if knowledge that Casey had traveled to Madrid might have changed the task force’s dismissive October Surprise conclusion, Hamilton said yes, because the question of the Madrid trip was key to the task force’s investigation. “If the White House knew that Casey was there, they certainly should have shared it with us,” Hamilton said, adding that “you have to rely on people” in authority to comply with information requests.

The document revealing White House knowledge of Casey’s Madrid trip was among records released to me by the archivists at the George H.W. Bush library in College Station, Texas. The U.S. Embassy’s confirmation of Casey’s trip was passed along by State Department legal adviser Edwin D. Williamson to Associate White House Counsel Chester Paul Beach Jr. in early November 1991, just as the October Surprise inquiry was taking shape.

Williamson said that among the State Department “material potentially relevant to the October Surprise allegations [was] a cable from the Madrid embassy indicating that Bill Casey was in town, for purposes unknown,” Beach noted in a “memorandum for record” dated Nov. 4, 1991.

Organizing the Cover-up

Two days later, on Nov. 6, Beach’s boss, White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, arranged an inter-agency strategy session and explained the need to contain the congressional investigation into the October Surprise case. The explicit goal was to ensure the scandal would not hurt President Bush’s reelection hopes in 1992.

At the meeting, Gray laid out how to thwart the October Surprise inquiry, which was seen as a dangerous expansion of the Iran-Contra investigation, which Rep. Hamilton had co-chaired when the scandal was reviewed by Congress in 1987. A parallel criminal investigation by special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was continuing in 1991 and some of his investigators were coming to suspect that the origins of Iran-Contra contacts with Iran traced back to Reagan’s 1980 campaign.

Up to that point, Iran-Contra had focused on illicit arms-for-hostage sales to Iran that President Reagan authorized in 1985-86. However, some October Surprise witnesses were claiming that the framework for Reagan’s secret arms shipments to Iran, usually through Israel, took shape during the 1980 campaign.

The prospect that the two sets of allegations would merge into a single narrative represented a grave threat to George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign. As assistant White House counsel Ronald vonLembke, put it, the White House goal in 1991 was to “kill/spike this story.” To achieve that result, the Republicans coordinated the counter-offensive through Gray’s office under the supervision of associate counsel Janet Rehnquist, the daughter of the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Gray explained the stakes at the White House strategy session. “Whatever form they ultimately take, the House and Senate ‘October Surprise’ investigations, like Iran-Contra, will involve interagency concerns – and be of special interest to the President,” Gray declared, accordingto minutes. [Emphasis in original.]

Among “touchstones” cited by Gray were “No Surprises to the White House, and Maintain
Ability to Respond to Leaks in Real Time. This is Partisan.” White House “talking points” on the October Surprise investigation urged restricting the inquiry to 1979-80 and imposing strict time limits for issuing any findings, according to the document said.

But the key to understanding the October Surprise case was that it appeared to be a prequel to the Iran-Contra scandal, part of the same storyline beginning with the 1980 crisis over 52 American hostages held in Iran, continuing through their release immediately after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981, then followed by mysterious U.S. government approval of secret arms shipments to Iran via Israel in 1981, and ultimately morphing into the Iran-Contra Affair of more arms-for-hostage deals with Iran until that scandal exploded in 1986. [For more on the scandal and cover-up, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Getting Some Help

Though Beach’s memo in November 1991 revealed the Bush-41 administration’s knowledge of the Casey trip to Madrid in 1980, the Republican cover-up was aided immensely that month by Newsweek and The New Republic, which published matching stories on their covers claiming to have debunked the October Surprise allegations by proving that Casey could not have made the trip to Madrid.

Despite knowing the falsity of those magazine articles, Bush’s White House made no effort to correct the record or to inform congressional investigators. Yet, even without Beach’s memo, there was solid evidence at the time disproving the Newsweek/New Republic debunking articles. Both magazines had sloppily misread attendance records at a London historical conference that Casey had attended on July 28, 1980, the time frame when Iranian businessman (and CIA agent) Jamshid Hashemi had placed Casey in Madrid for a secret meeting with Iranian emissary Mehdi Karrubi.

The two magazines insisted that the attendance records showed Casey in London for a morning session of the conference, thus negating the possibility that he could have made a side trip to Madrid. But the magazines had failed to do the necessary follow-up interviews, which would have revealed that Casey was not at the morning session on July 28. He didn’t arrive until that afternoon, leaving the “window” open for Hashemi’s account.

At PBS “Frontline,” where I was involved in the October Surprise investigation, we talked to Americans and others who had participated in the London conference. Most significantly, we interviewed historian Robert Dallek who gave that morning’s presentation to a small gathering of attendees sitting in a conference room at the British Imperial War Museum.

Dallek said he had been excited to learn that Casey, who was running Reagan’s presidential campaign, would be there. So, Dallek looked for Casey, only to be disappointed that Casey was a no-show. Other Americans also recalled Casey arriving later and the records actually indicate Casey showing up for the afternoon session.

In other words, the high-profile Newsweek-New Republic debunking of the October Surprise story had itself been debunked. However, typical of the arrogance of those publications – and our inability to draw attention to their major screw-up – the magazines never acknowledged their gross error.

Worse Than a Mistake

I later learned that the journalistic malfeasance at Newsweek was even worse than sloppiness. Journalist Craig Unger, who had been hired by Newsweek to work on the October Surprise story, told me that he had spotted the misreading of the attendance records before Newsweek published its article. Unger said he alerted the investigative team, which was personally headed by executive editor Maynard Parker.

“They told me, essentially, to f**k off,” Unger said.

During my years at Newsweek, from 1987-90, Parker had been my chief nemesis. He was considered close to prominent neocons, including Iran-Contra figure Elliott Abrams, and to Establishment Republicans, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Parker also was a member of banker David Rockefeller’s Council on Foreign Relations — and viewed the Iran-Contra scandal as something best shut down quickly. Jumping to a false conclusion that would protect his influential friends would fit perfectly with what I knew of Parker.

The false articles in Newsweek and The New Republic gave the White House cover-up a key advantage: Washington’s conventional wisdom crowd now assumed that the October Surprise allegations were bogus. All that was necessary was to make sure no hard evidence to the contrary, such as the U.S. Embassy’s confirmation of a mysterious Casey trip to Madrid, reached the congressional investigation.

A big part of the Bush-41 cover-up was to run out the clock on Hamilton’s inquiry, which was only authorized through the end of the congressional session in early January 1993. Delays of document production and evasion of a subpoena would prove crucial.

For instance, on May 14, 1992, a CIA official ran proposed language past associate White House counsel Janet Rehnquist from then-CIA Director Robert Gates regarding the agency’s level of cooperation with Congress. By that point, the CIA, under Gates, was already months into a pattern of foot-dragging on congressional document requests.

Bush had put Gates, who was also implicated in the October Surprise case, at the CIA’s helm in fall 1991, meaning that Gates was well-positioned to stymie congressional requests for sensitive information about secret initiatives involving Bush, Gates and Donald Gregg, another CIA veteran who was linked to the scandal.

The records at the Bush library revealed that Gates and Gregg, indeed, were targets of the congressional October Surprise probe. On May 26, 1992, Rep. Hamilton wrote to the CIA asking for records regarding the whereabouts of Gregg and Gates from Jan. 1, 1980, through Jan. 31, 1981, including travel plans and leaves of absence.

The persistent document-production delays finally drew a complaint from Lawrence Barcella, chief counsel to the House task force who wrote to the CIA on June 9, 1992, that the agency had not been responsive to three requests on Sept. 20, 1991; April 20, 1992; and May 26, 1992.

A History of Lies

Gregg and Gates also were implicated in the broader the Iran-Contra scandal. Both were suspected of lying about their knowledge of secret sales of military hardware to Iran and clandestine delivery of weapons to Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

An ex-CIA director himself, Bush also had been caught lying in the Iran-Contra scandal when he insisted that a plane shot down over Nicaragua in 1986 while dropping weapons to the Contras had no connection to the U.S. government (when the weapons delivery had been organized by operatives close to Bush’s vice presidential office where Gregg served as national security adviser).

And, Bush falsely claimed that he was out of the “loop” on Iran-Contra decisions when later evidence showed that he was a major participant in the discussions. From the Bush library documents, it was apparent that the October Surprise cover-up was essentially an extension of the broader Republican effort to contain the Iran-Contra scandal, with Bush personally involved in orchestrating both efforts.

For instance, Iran-Contra special prosecutor Walsh discovered in December 1992 that Bush’s White House counsel’s office, under Boyden Gray, had delayed production of Bush’s personal notes about the arms shipments to Iran in the 1985-86 time frame. Though Gray’s office insisted that the delay was unintentional, Walsh didn’t buy it.

Beyond dragging its heels on producing documents, the Bush administration maneuvered to keep key witnesses out of timely reach of the investigators. For instance, Gregg used his stationing as U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in 1992 to evade a congressional subpoena.

Like Gates and Bush, Gregg had been linked to secret meetings with Iranians during the 1980 campaign. When asked about those allegations by FBI polygraph operators working for Iran-Contra prosecutor Walsh, Gregg was judged to be deceptive in his denials. [See Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, Vol. I, p. 501]

Dodging a Subpoena

And, when it came to answering questions from Congress about the October Surprise matter, Gregg found excuses not to accept service of a subpoena.

In a June 18, 1992, cable from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to the State Department in Washington, Gregg wrote that he had learned that Senate investigators had “attempted to subpoena me to appear on 24 June in connection with their so-called ‘October Surprise’ investigation. The subpoena was sent to my lawyer, Judah Best, who returned it to the committee since he had no authority to accept service of a subpoena. …

“If the October Surprise investigation contacts the [State] Department, I request that you tell them of my intention to cooperate fully when I return to the States, probably in September. Any other inquiries should be referred to my lawyer, Judah Best. Mr. Best asks that I specifically request you not to accept service of a subpoena if the committee attempts to deliver one to you.”

That way Gregg ensured that he was not legally compelled to testify while running out the clock on the Senate inquiry and leaving little time for the House task force. His strategy of delay was endorsed by Janet Rehnquist after a meeting with Best and a State Department lawyer. In a June 24, 1992, letter to Gray, Rehnquist wrote that “at your direction, I have looked into whether Don Gregg should return to Washington to testify before the Senate Subcommittee hearings next week. … I believe we should NOT request that Gregg testify next week.”

The failure to effect service of the subpoena gave the Bush team an advantage, Rehnquist noted, because the Senate investigators then relented and merely “submitted written questions to Gregg, through counsel, in lieu of an appearance. …. This development provides us an opportunity to manage Gregg’s participation in October Surprise long distance.” Rehnquist added hopefully that by the end of September 1992 “the issue may, by that time, even be dead for all practical purposes.”

Asked about this strategy of delay, Hamilton told me that “running out the clock is a very familiar tactic in any congressional investigation” since the Bush-41 administration would have known that the task force’s authorization expired at the end of the session. That deadline came into play when the floodgates on evidence of Republican guilt opened in December 1992.

In 2010, shortly before his death to cancer, the task force’s former chief counsel Barcella told me that so much incriminating evidence against the Reagan campaign poured in during December 1992 that he asked Hamilton for a three-month extension, but was rebuffed. Hamilton said he had no recollection of such a specific request from Barcella, but added that he might have explained the problem of the task force’s authorization running out at end of the session.

“All I could have done is go before the next Congress and request reauthorization,” Hamilton told me. However, with key evidence withheld – and facing fierce Republican resistance to extending the inquiry – Hamilton chose to simply wrap up the task force’s report with a judgment clearing Reagan, Bush, Casey and other alleged participants.

Now, realizing that the White House was sitting on knowledge about a mysterious Casey trip to Madrid, Lee Hamilton is no longer so sure. [For a fuller account of the October Surprise evidence implicating Reagan’s 1980 campaign, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege and America’s Stolen Narrative, which also contains evidence of a precursor “October Surprise” case, Richard Nixon’s sabotage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968.]

Yet, in April 2014, even as the U.S. government endlessly honors Ronald Reagan with his name attached to Washington’s National Airport and dozens of other government facilities – and as warm nostalgia envelopes the aging George H.W. Bush – there is outrage across Official Washington that Hamid Aboutalebi, who was 22 when the U.S. hostages were taken, has been named Iran’s ambassador to the UN.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.

MeanMesa's compliments to the President.