Standoff in Texas Park!


Friday, well dressed men in suits and ties set up an encampment at a city owned park in Houston and said they weren't going to leave until the CFTC stops its "tyranny."

It just got weirder from there.

The group's spokesman is "Little John" Cornhole, the son of Texas Senator "Big John" Cornhole.  The father made national news when he led the huge TARP bailout for the banks in 2008, for which both he and his fellow Texas senator voted.  The bailout took on shades of class warfare when the elder Cornhole wondered aloud to a New York Times reporter whether tax payers would be better off enslaved.

That is the backdrop against which a very complicated, confusing, and tense situation continues today with "Little John" Cornhole and dozens of bankers who have answered his call on social media to join him at the the park in front of City Hall, directly across the street from Golden Sacks, Bank of Jew York, Wells Notice Bank, The Elite of Houston Club, and the United States Attorney's office. 

In a press conference in which a few followers rambled for a long time about the of the value of debt and against auditing the Federal Reserve Bank, Cornhole said the group had decided to call themselves #bankerlivesmatter.

Who is "Little John" Cornhole?

Cornhole won't say how many Chamber of Commerce members are at the city park.  CNBS's Steve Liesmuch is near the City Hall -- an imposing building in downtown Houston, about a half-mile from the Federal Reserve Bank, and has interviewed Cornhole.  He has seen mostly men, but said there were at least two women -- one of them the wife of Texas Senator Juan Crude, and is a Golden Sacks banker.

The Houstonian has reported that Cornhole's brother Ryan Cornhole is there.  The two participated in their father's fight to socialize bank losses in 2008 when Big John voted for the taxpayer to bail out the banks.  Back then the Cornholes encouraged like-minded pro-banker folks to join them and many responded.  The ordeal ended when the government passed a law under which the U.S. Treasury would issue debt for the Federal Reserve to acquire up to $700 billion of worthless mortgage-backed securities from the banks, and the Cornholes declared themselves victorious.

Who is with him?

Little John Cornhole, who has lived in River Oaks with his wife, sent an appeal for supporters to join him downtown.

The Texas Republic reported that three from the Country Club have answered the call.

One of them, the newspaper said, is Ben Shalom Ritzheimer, an avowed anti-Islamist and dual citizen who served in Israel.   In 2014 he organized a protest outside a Houston Islamic community center during which he wore a T-shirt that said, "Bomb Palestine!"  He said his goal was to promote peace. "I'm trying to achieve a Greater Zion," he told CNBS's Andy Vanderbilt at the time, and compared himself to King David.

Ritzheimer appears to have posted a video of himself at the park on Friday. It is difficult to follow because of abrupt editing, but in it he says, "We went there.  It was completely open...We just rolled right in and the caterers had already set up the tents."

Texan LaBoy Fulovcum is also with Cornhole.  He spoke at the press conference, standing in the sunshine, flanked by at least a dozen supporters.  He repeatedly said he was interested in defending his bank's right to donate unlimited money to directly advocate for the election or defeat of political candidates under Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Fulovcum is a banker who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, during the hot Houston summers, and keeps a mansion in Montrose area of Houston, and has publicly stated he donates to the campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats, which he argues is clearly not "bribery," the Republic reports.

Mike White is also there, the Montrose-Fun Times reports. The attorney from Texas worked on the TARP bill to defend bank shareholders in 2008, and told the Southern Poverty Law Center that he was in charge of whipping up support in the Bar Association when the standoff came to a head.

The Southern Poverty Law Center does not investigate bribery of public officials, Dual Citizen RICO crimes, or the FBI's release of the Five Dancing Israelis.

What do they want?

Though the group's goals have so far seemed hazy, Little John Cornhole has said that they essentially want two things.

First, they want the federal government to relinquish all claim to an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank, in perpetuity, so "bankers can socialize any losses via the US Treasury without fear of any recourse," he told CNBS early Friday.  And second, they want eternal immunity for Jon Corzine, former CEO of Golden Sacks and New Jersey Senator who was not prosecuted by the Department of Justice for the vaporization of hundreds of millions of dollars of MF Global's client accounts in 2011.

The group's unarmed action came after they broke off from a group protesting to "FREE JON CORZINE!".

Corzine was a huge donor for both Clintons and Obama, allegedly to protect himself and reduce the chance of being prosecuted, Zerohedge speculated.  DOJ prosecutors said they received instructions to set fires to cover up evidence, similar to Lois Learner's and Hillary Clinton's email scandals, and to never ever mention the fact that the NSA has copies of everything. 

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement Friday: "The Attorney General declined to prosecute The Honorable Jon Corzine based on his sworn testimony," it said.

"Obviously on the forefront of everyone’s mind – including mine – are the varying reports that customer accounts have not been reconciled. I was stunned when I was told on Sunday, October 30, 2011, that MF Global could not account for many hundreds of millions of dollars of client money. I remain deeply concerned about the impact that the unreconciled and frozen funds have had on MF Global’s customers and others.  As the chief executive officer of MF Global, I ultimately had overall responsibility for the firm.  It is extremely difficult for me to reconstruct the events that occurred during the chaotic days and the last hours leading up to the bankruptcy filing....I simply do not know where the money is."

Federal law apparently does not mandate that the Attorney General's office do their jobs.  The prosecutor to oversee the case thought the political wind against prosecuting the case was too harsh.  She gave up on the investigation.  Corzine has served no time.

Cornhole has said the Corzine case illustrates the close relationship between politicians and Wall Street banks that is the cornerstone of power in America.

What does Corzine want?

According to the Wall Street Journal,

Jon S. Corzine, the embattled former MF Global Holdings Ltd. chief executive and ex-chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has discussed plans to start his own hedge fund in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter.



The fund would start with cash from Mr. Corzine’s personal wealth and a handful of outside investors. Mr. Corzine said he had been speaking with about a half-dozen potential investors, and projected around $150 million in assets under management, one of the people said.


Mr. Corzine most likely wouldn’t be able to launch a fund until legal proceedings against him over MF Global have been resolved.  Pretrial motions are expected to go at least until February of next year. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission in June 2013 filed civil charges against him and is still collecting evidence for a possible trial.

However, the CFTC's progress and slow pace do not seem to hold much sway with Cornhole and the others.

"At the heart of this is a complaint that bankers have a natural right to lose client privatize profits and socialize losses," said Mindy Goldstein, a lead researcher with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "After all, the banks create the money out of thin air to begin with, it doesn't really belong to the client.  It belongs to the banking cartel, and the government is working to preserve that."

"And I don't know where the CFTC gets off thinking that the money doesn't belong to those who originally created it," she quipped.

CNBS's Steve Liesmuch asked Cornhole and other supporters what they think about the argument, widely made in The Hamptons and Davos, that if they wanted the MF Global money to be returned, it should go back to the private shareholders of the Federal Reserve Bank.

The men paused for a moment and told Liesmuch that they'd welcome anyone to join them, including the foreign shareholders of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Where is law enforcement?

The short answer: Right across the street from the occupied City Park.   Liesmuch and his crew were logistically able to look across Hermann Square to the Wells Notice Bank building where the US Attorney's offices are co-located.  The building looks like a place you'd expect to find banks and law offices, he said.  It's downtown, very nice, and in every direction there's tremendous wealth!  If law enforcement showed up and wanted to be seen, they would be, he said.

The DOJ has said it is taking the lead on the situation and is working with state and local authorities toward "a peaceful resolution" to the situation, the agency's Houston office said in a statement.

Citing "safety considerations for both those inside the refuge as well as the law enforcement officers involved," the DOJ declined to comment further.

How and when could this end?

Some have criticized law enforcement for this approach, especially on Twitter, where the most strident comments have been posted. Many are using the hashtag #HANGTHEBANKERS to say there's a double standard applied to Cornhole and his supporters.  If they weren't politicians, lawyers, and bankers, many say, there would be a harsher and swifter response.

Many have said the Black Lives Matter movement has been supported far less than what's happening in Houston.  If they were Muslims, the law enforcement response would be different, others argued.

But several in law enforcement have said there are circumstances to consider. This is a pleasant area in Houston in a park where no one -- except maybe those who voluntarily deposit money with Corzine -- are in danger.

"What's going to happen hopefully [is] ... we don't go out there with a big force, because that's what they're looking for," said CNBS analyst Duke Nukem, a retired SEC investigator who surfed porn on the internet for years while getting paid to investigate Wall Street banks. "The last thing we need is some type of confrontation."

Cornhole has said he and others are prepared to stay in the park until 4:00 pm, if necessary. They have enough caviar and Bollinger, he said, to see them through until that time.

Cornhole has repeatedly warned that the unarmed occupiers don't intend to harm anyone, but if law enforcement or others try to force them from the park, their lawyers will sue.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Corzine's original investigation was for, "misremembering."

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