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How Treasury flexians are manipulating the news flow on the Middle East

The Intercept has two great stories on our famously free press. Here's the first, by Glenn Greenwald, with the Flexian parts excerpted:

The Camstoll Group was formed on November 26, 2012. Its key figures are all former senior Treasury Department officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations whose responsibilities included managing the U.S. government’s relationships with Persian Gulf regimes and Israel, as well as managing policies relating to funding of designated terrorist groups. Most have backgrounds as neoconservative activists. Two of the Camstoll principals, prior to their Treasury jobs, worked with one of the country’s most extremist neocon anti-Muslim activists, Steve Emerson.

Camstoll’s founder, CEO and sole owner, Matthew Epstein, was a Treasury Department official from 2003 through 2010, a run that included a position as the department’s Financial Attaché to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. ...

Prior to his Treasury appointment by the Bush administration, Epstein was a neoconservative activist, writing articles for National Review and working with Emerson’s aggressively anti-Muslim Investigative Project (Epstein’s published resume omits his work with Emerson). His pre-Treasury work for Emerson’s group, obsessed with The Muslim Threat Within, presaged Peter King’s 2011 anti-Muslim witch hunts. ...

Camstoll’s Managing Director, Howard Mendelsohn, was Acting Assistant Secretary of Treasury, where he also had ample policy responsibilities involving the Emirates; a 2010 WikiLeaks cable details how he “met with senior officials from the UAE’s State Security Department (SSD) and Dubai’s General Department of State Security (GDSS)” to coordinate disruption of Taliban financing. Another Managing Director, Benjamin Schmidt, worked with Epstein at Emerson’s Investigative Project before his own appointment to Treasury; a 2009 diplomatic cable shows him working with Israel on controlling financing to Palestinians. A Camstoll director, Benjamin Davis, was the Treasury Department’s Financial Attaché in Jerusalem.

On December 2, 2012 – less than a week after Camstoll was incorporated – it entered into a lucrative, open-ended consulting contract with an entity wholly owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Outlook Energy Investments, LLC (its Emir, the President of UAE, is pictured above). A week later, Camstoll registered as a foreign agent working on behalf of the Emirate. The consultancy agreement calls for Camstoll to be paid a monthly fee of $400,000, wired each month into a Camstoll account. Two weeks after it was formed, Camstoll was paid by the Emirates entity a retainer fee of $4.3 million, and then another $3.2 million in 2013.

Awesome!

In other words, a senior Treasury official responsible for U.S. policy toward the Emirates leaves the U.S. government and forms a new lobbying company, which is then instantly paid millions of dollars by the very same country for which he was responsible, all to use his influence, access and contacts for its advantage. The UAE spends more than any other country in the world to influence U.S. policy and shape domestic debate, and it pays former high-level government officials who worked with it – such as Epstein and his company – to carry out its agenda within the U.S.

Gosh. It seems that Israel and AIPAC et al. may not be the exception, but the rule. Read below the fold...

Yahoo sucks

At least I'm getting a fancy screen now instead of "error 14" or just a spinning cursor. Read below the fold...

RFK’s son, hasbarist chair of the Trustees at the University of Illinois, on firing Salaita over tweets

Christopher Kennedy is the son of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated senator and Democratic presidential candidate. Christopher Kennedy is chairman of the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees, politically appointed by Illinois Democratic Governor Pat Quinn. Kennedy has also acted as a fundraiser for Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates. Read below the fold...

In the garden: Change and decay

Winter is coming. As the hymn goes:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see:
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

This sounds like I'm depressed, but I'm not. I don't think I've ever been quite so aware of the seasonal cycle as this year; perhaps it's because I encountered change and decay as a subject to be encountered visually, as rich color and, thanks to my gardening style, layers of complexity and entanglement. Thanks to my new camera lenses! (And it is a cycle; "thou who changest not" is, IMNSHO, a nonsense. Everything changes, nothing is still. Try photographing a flower and you'll see it's in constant motion, even when there seems to be no breeze.)

But first, the enemy! If you want to see the desire for that which "changest not," look here:

Read below the fold...

Pelosi: 'Civilization As We Know It Would Be In Jeopardy' If The GOP Wins The Senate

Wowsers. Pelosi really has passed her sell-by date. But not to worry. Read below the fold...

Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff throws single payer under the bus because ObamaCare

Rule #1: Democrats will always betray you. True for fracking, true on on health care. Denver Post:

During Tuesday night’s Denver Post debate in the 6th Congressional District, Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff backtracked from his support four years ago for a single-payer health care system. At the time, the Affordable Care Act had just been passed by Congress, and Romanoff was running to the left of Sen. Michael Bennett as he challenged him unsuccessfully in the party primary.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign seized Wednesday on what it called Romanoff’s “180-degree reversal,” suggesting his more moderate position this year was a “white wash” of his record. Romanoff said his position favoring a government-paid system changed because the health care reform law is now in place, and he doesn’t think it should be scrapped.

A couple of implications: Read below the fold...

The global overclass and its playbook for world domination (the actual playbook)

[I'm stickying this because it's an important post. It's everything that would work against the 12-point platform. --lambert]

Golem XIV has two awesome posts that you should read carefully in their entirety: Part one, and part two. I'm just going to pull out the list of plays in part 2.

But first, a note on language: Golem uses "overclass." I think that's preferable to "the 1%." "Overclass" clearly states who's over and who's under; who rules and who's ruled; who exploits and who is exploited, unlike "the 1%," which, although appealing rhetorically, is a mere statistical distribution, and not all that accurate, really: it's the 0.01% that are the real malefactors of great wealth. "The 1%" confuses, say, a wealthy Hollywood entertainment lawyer with Paul Singer or Carlos Slim. That's not to say both aren't on the same side, but they play different roles in civil society, and actually may have differing interests. "You gotta know the territory," as they say in The Music Man.

Herewith, the plays in the playbook and Golem's comment: Read below the fold...

In the garden: Winter has not yet come!

Bees are still working!

Schneider Tele 2x. (Boy, am I happy Dromaius chivvied me into getting this lens that I can't really afford. Lots of fun!) This photo is also interesting because it shows how the pollen remaining varies from flower to flower. Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day (2)

Tweet of the day

In the garden: Tapestries and decay

The same idea, but different:

I wanted to try for the poppies in the front yard again, but they're all gone, now. (I did see a bee working, so that was heartening.) So I went to the wildflowers in the back: Read below the fold...

Tweet of the day (2)

Tweet of the day

letsgetitdone's picture

A Bottom-Up Solution to the Global Democracy Crisis

Before the “no” vote on Scotland's independence, The New York Times, carried a post by Neil Irwin in the Upshot making the point that the then upcoming vote “shows a global crisis of the elites.” He argues that the independence drive reflects “. . . a conviction — one not ungrounded in reality — that the British ruling class has blundered through the last couple of decades.” He also thinks that this applies to the Eurozone and the United States to varying degrees, and is “. . . a defining feature of our time.”

Irwin then updated his first post last night, expanding it and recognizing the victory of the “no” votes in the referendum. His new post did not add anything essential to his “global crisis of the elites” diagnosis, so the references and quotations below come solely from his pre-vote post. But the points made apply equally well to his update.

To summarize his argument, for decades now, the elites in major modern, industrial nations have committed leadership blunders and created great discontent among the citizens of their nations, to the point where their polices have contributed to damaging their economies seriously, and the rise of popular resistance embodied in extremist parties and independence movements. Elites have had vast power, but have not lived up to their responsibilities to serve the people of their nations. Discontent with their actions and results is so high that many are questioning the legitimacy of the very governing institutions that claim to serve them, and are exhibiting a greater and greater willingness to do something about these institutions and the policies that they and the elites are generating. Scotland is but one example of that, and his implication is that more examples are in the offing.

It's significant, some might say even remarkable, that Irwin's article appeared in The New York Times, since it is a flat out criticism of elite leadership over a number of decades and a warning to elites to improve their performance or deal with the consequences. But I think it still misses the most important question. That question is whether there is a global crisis of elites or a global crisis of democracies? I'm afraid I think that the crisis of elite leadership is only a symptom of the underlying cause of a broader global crisis of democracy. Read below the fold...

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