Amid the sound and fury of yesterday's IRS hearing were a few small tidbits which raise significant questions about who knew what and when within the Obama administration. While getting the answer (the real honest truth) is highly unlikely, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the IRS's watchdog told top Treasury officials around June 2012 (when Republican lawmakers were complaining publicly about alleged IRS targeting of tea-party groups) he was investigating allegations the tax agency had targeted conservative groups, for the first time indicating that Obama administration officials were aware of the explosive matter in the midst of the president's re-election campaign. The revelation nonetheless raised a fresh set of questions about who was aware of the problem within the Obama administration. However, the hearing left numerous other fundamental questions unanswered, including who ordered the targeting and why it continued so long, pointing to a protracted investigation ahead as Rep. Paul Ryan exclaimed, "how can we not conclude that you misled this committee?" As Doug Ross' full timeline below suggests, this is fascism on the part of the IRS and White House...
The Administration simply doesn’t want to get run over by the momentum of the oil and gas industry
While many may not recall that the US has been without an official debt ceiling for the past three months, or even that it has a debt target ceiling, the bonus period agreed upon in January to let the nation rake up some $400 billion in addition debt in the past few months, officially runs out tomorrow, May 19, when the debt limit will be restored to its previous level plus the debt that was incurred in the interim, which means around $16.735 trillion in total debt as of yesterday, plus the amount incurred today, excluding the debt not subject to the cap which is about $30 billion. And since no grand bargain is forthcoming in a world in which official governance is now almost universally in the hands of the world's central bankers and out of the hands of the theatrical career politicians, it means that the next deadline in the endless US debt ceiling saga will be the day when the extraordinary measures to extend the debt ceiling run out. Such a deadline will likely be hit in just over three months.
The middle class American worker is in danger of becoming an endangered species. The politicians are not telling you the truth, and the mainstream media is certainly not telling you the truth, but the reality is that there is nothing but bad news on the horizon for workers in the United States. The American people inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, and we have wrecked it. Decades of very foolish decisions have resulted in the period of steady economic decline that we are experiencing now. Today, American workers are living in an economy that is rapidly declining, and their jobs are steadily being stolen by robots, computers and foreign workers that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. Politicians from both political parties refuse to do anything to stop the bleeding because they think that the status quo is working just great. So don't expect things to get better any time soon. The following are 10 charts that demonstrate the slow, agonizing death of the American worker...
The US is moving to broaden its 'blockade' efforts of Iran to the movement of pure gold into the Islamic Republic. The US-led embargo of Iranian crude succeeded in slowing the flow of petrodollars into the nation but as Foreign Affairs committee chairman Edward Cohen remarked, there is "no question that there is gold going from Turkey to Iran." While the official line from US elite such as Bernanke remains that 'gold is not money' it appears that increasingly other nations would disagree, as Cohen admitted, "in large measure what we're seeing is private Iranian citizens buying gold as a protection against the falling value of Iran's currency." It would seem somewhat self-evident that the US is admitting, by attempting to embargo this gold flow, that outside the US, the Dollar is becoming increasingly irrelevant (see China's gold demand); and that for many countries the petrodollar no longer exists, having been replaced by 'Petrogold'.
- As scandals mount, White House springs into damage control (Reuters)
- Glencore Xstrata chairman ousted in surprise coup (Reuters), former BP CEO Tony Hayward appointed as interim chairman (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Chase asks Bloomberg for data records (Telegraph)
- Platts Retains Energy Trader Confidence Amid Price-Fix Probe (BBG)
- Syrian Internet service comes back online (PCWorld)
- Japan Q1 growth hits 3.5% on Abe impact although fall in business investment clouds optimism for recovery (FT)
- Soros Joins Gold-Stake Cuts Before Bear Market Drop (BBG)
- Factory Ceiling Collapses in Cambodia (WSJ)
- Sony’s $100 Billion Lost Decade Supports Loeb Breakup (BBG)
- Snags await favourite for Federal Reserve job (FT)
- James Bond’s Pinewood Turned Down on $300 Million Plan (BBG)
With the scandal-ridden administration in major need of a geopolitical distraction, preferably of the exothermic variety, and with Syria still in desperate need of "liberation" by remote controlled-airborne units, the Senate may have put two and two together, and following today's introduction of the bipartisan "Syria Transition Support Act", at least one part of the US legislative process - the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - is set to vote as soon as next week on whether to arm Syrian rebels. The ultimate passage of such a move through Congress is guaranteed to finally escalate the regional mid-east conflict to the next stage with the inevitable involvement of Russia which as a reminder yesterday, in a very demonstrative and well-timed move, exposed a CIA agent operating in the heart of Moscow.
Objective Analysis: Obama Versus Nixon
Today at 1pm the real circus starts. From the House Committee on the Judiciary: "On Wednesday, May 15 at 1:00 p.m., Attorney General Eric Holder will testify before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice. The hearing will focus on the Justice Department obtaining two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press, the unwarranted targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, the recent bombings in Boston, wasteful spending at the Justice Department, and troubling allegations of the politicization of the Justice Department under Attorney General Holder’s leadership."
It has become difficult to keep track of all the different "-gates" the Obama administration has suddenly found itself embroiled in: perhaps an appropriate name would be Gate-r-gate? And with the just concluded farce in which Jay Carney passed off all AP-related questions to Eric Holder, who in turn recused himself and told the media to please crucify the Deputy AG instead, it is unlikely that any material new information will be disclosed any time soon. However, courtesy of The Hill, we at least have some insight into the first gross offense by the administration revealed last week: the targeting of one political group over another by the supposedly impartial IRS. Specifically, attached below is the full 7 page questionnaire sent by the IRS to the Liberty Township Tea Party containing a list of 35 questions.
Why There Is So Much Pro-War Reporting
And so the final curtain falls on the myth of what was supposed to be, in its own words, the "most transparent administration" in history. As it turns out, the big Friday story of Bloomberg journalists snooping on clients was just amateur hour compared to what the AP was about to serve. In fact, the Watergate affair may soon appear like a walk in the park compared to the First Amendment shitstorm that is about to be unleashed following the just reported news that the US Department of Justice had "secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative's top executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into how news organizations gather the news." First amendment? Freedom of speech and press? Surely not when it comes to the Nobel-peace prize winning President and those who dare to expose his secret ways. And what's worst, is that the AP breach has all the makings of a spiteful hack driven by personal vengeance against one of America's premier news outlets.
The IRS conservative targeting scandal is going from bad to worse. Following the Friday revelations that despite all prior appeals to the contrary, the IRS did in fact apply political bias and prejudice in targeting conservative groups who had applied for exempt status (and who knows what other prejudice when targeting non-liberals entities - perhaps it is time to do an analysis of what the ratio of conservatives to liberals audited each year is?), culminating with the farcical response by an IRS official during the Friday press meeting, this may be just the beginning of a major political scandal which in additon to tangential fallout crushing the alleged "impartiality" of the Obama administration, additionally validates many of the heretofore right-wing "conspiracy theories." And as Zero Hedge has shown time and again, it is not a conspiracy theory if it is a conspiracy fact.
The Obama administration has come out in support of the idea of exporting U.S. natural gas. This stance is counterproductive and shortsighted, and if followed, it will prove harmful to domestic manufacturing (i.e., value generation) and to future generations of Americans. While exporting natural gas would certainly prove to be an economic boon for a very select minority of companies and individuals, it makes no sense from an energy standpoint and undermines our national interests. All it will do is enrich a few while boosting prices for all domestic consumers and shortchanging the energy and environmental inheritance we pass along to our children. The time has come to give greater weighting to energy matters than to economic and political desires. To continue to be energetically wasteful at this time in history, when so much data is telling us that the effluent of our activities is measurably altering our support systems, is beyond embarrassing. It's tragic.
By the end of next week, the Obama administration will no longer be able to borrow money to fund government operations because Congress has only agreed to extend the government's borrowing authority until May 19. While he has smartly expressed his preference that the most liquid bond market in the world "not default,", Speaker Boehner will take to the lectern this morning at 1045ET to discuss the upcoming "debt prioritization" bill. As Reuters notes, House Republicans are expected to pass the bill today that would require the Obama administration to prioritize government debt payments and retirement benefits if Congress fails to reach a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. The legislation is not expected to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has said it will veto the bill, but what is essentially a tactical maneuver will allow the Republicans, who control the House, to argue they have done their best to avoid a potential U.S. credit default. We are sure the M.A.D. defense card will be played at least once...