FLOTSAM & JETSAM

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The relationship between George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and America’s biggest drug importer

Daily Kos – Barry Seal was a legendary CIA drug smuggler and ace pilot who had literally worked for the Agency since he was a teenage pilot prodigy in the late 1950’s. By 1986 Barry Seal was having legal problems (criminal and a huge IRS tax liability) that not even his CIA connections could protect him from and according to Seal’s lawyer Lewis Unglesby,

Barry Seal was a threat to testify against Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush. In fact, in early 1986 Barry Seal was threatening GHW Bush to get the IRS off his back or he (Seal) was going to blow the whistle on the Contra scheme and CIA drug smuggling. Two weeks after his argument with Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush, Barry Seal was pumped full of bullets and murdered outside his Baton Rouge halfway house on Feb. 19, 1986.

The three Columbians who were convicted of the crime thought they were working for Lt. Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council. North’s alias in the 1980’s was “John Cathey.” The personal phone number of George Herbert Walker Bush was found in Seal’s possessions, even after the “men in black” had swept in to pick car of the slaughtered CIA drug smuggler clean of evidence.

Years later, Texas Gov. George W. Bush was literally being flown around in what had been the favorite plane of Barry Seal. Many folks don’t know that on the exact same day (2/19/86) Barry Seal was murdered in Baton Rouge, his mistress “Barbara” was also murdered in Miami; two other men also affiliated with the Medellin drug cartel, Pablo Carrera (Medellin’s #2 man) and Pablo Ochill, were also assassinated in Colombia.

Some people think the CIA American drug cartel were switching horses from the Medellin drug cartel to a partnership with the Cali, Colombian drug cartel. The three men convicted of murdering Barry Seal were from Cali, Colombia. The CIA American drug cartel was using the Cali cartel in a killing spree to wipe out the competition and murder anyone who might pose a threat to spill the beans on CIA drug smuggling and the participation of very high U.S. officials.

More Daily Kos info

Progressive Review, 1984 - Hot Springs police record Roger Clinton during a cocaine transaction. Roger says, "Got to get some for my brother. He's got a nose like a vacuum cleaner." Roger is arrested while working at menial jobs for Arkansas "bond daddy" Dan Lasater.

Barry Seal estimates that he has earned between $60 and $100 million smuggling cocaine into the US, but with the feds closing in on him, Barry Seal flies from Mena to Washington in his private Lear Jet to meet with two members of Vice President George Bush's drug task force. Following the meeting, Seal rolls over for the DEA, becoming an informant. He collects information on leaders of the Medellin cartel while still dealing in drugs himself. The deal will be kept secret from investigators working in Louisiana and Arkansas. According to reporter Mara Leveritt, "By Seal's own account, his gross income in the year and a half after he became an informant - while he was based at Mena and while Asa Hutchinson was the federal prosecutor in Fort Smith, 82 miles away - was three-quarters of a million dollars. Seal reported that $575,000 of that income had been derived from a single cocaine shipment, which the DEA had allowed him to keep. Pressed further, he testified that, since going to work for the DEA, he had imported 1,500 pounds of cocaine into the U.S. Supposed informant Seal will fly repeatedly to Colombia, Guatemala, and Panama, where he meets with Jorge Ochoa, Fabio Ochoa, Pablo Escobar, and Carlos Lehder - leaders of the cartel that at the time controlled an estimated 80 percent of the cocaine entering the United States."

Clinton bodyguard, state trooper LD Brown, applies for a CIA opening. Clinton gives him help on his application essay including making it more Reaganesque on the topic of the Nicaragua. According to Brown, he meets a CIA recruiter in Dallas whom he later identities as former member of Vice President Bush's staff. On the recruiter's instruction, he meets with notorious drug dealer Barry Seal in a Little Rock restaurant. Joins Seal in flight to Honduras with a purported shipment of M16s and a return load of duffel bags. Brown gets $2,500 in small bills for the flight. Brown, concerned about the mission, consults with Clinton who says, "Oh, you can handle it, don't sweat it." On second flight, Brown finds cocaine in a duffel bag and again he seeks Clinton's counsel. Clinton says to the conservative Brown, "Your buddy, Bush, knows about it" and, of the cocaine, "that's Lasater's deal."

Progressive Review - Wikipedia puts some numbers on it all: "Tax havens have 1.2% of the world's population and hold 26% of the world's wealth, including 31% of the net profits of United States multinationals. . . The IMF has said that between $600 billion and $1.5 trillion of illicit money is laundered annually, equal to 2% to 5% of global economic output."

While the illegal drug trade might not compete in numbers with corporate tax laundering, it is hardly insignificant. Its size has been estimated at $400-$500 billion, roughly that of the legal pharmaceutical industry or twice as large as Saudi Arabia's annual oil exports.

What is astounding about this is that an industry so big would have - at least if you only listen to law enforcement and the media - no lobbyists in Washington, no political agenda and make no contributions to politicians. Based on the way the story is being told to America, the illegal drug trade must be the most politically ethical business in the land.

In fact, of course, the money and its travels are just well hidden and nobody in the establishment really wants you to spend the slightest time worrying about it. Just like nobody in the establishment seems to care that the drug war hasn't worked at all for four decades (money launderer Richard Nixon first used the term in 1971). And just like only a handful seem concerned about offshore tax havens.

If it were otherwise, then there would have been far more interest when an investigator discovered in the 1990s that the Development Financial Authority of the drug-infested state of Arkansas [where Bill Clinton was governor] had made an electronic transfer of $50 million to a bank in the Cayman Islands. At the time Grand Cayman had a population of 18,000, 570 commercial banks, one bank regulator and a bank secrecy law. It was a favorite destination spot for laundered drug money.

One of those bringing drugs into Arkansas was Barry Seal, then the biggest drug importer in the country. He was murdered and after his death it was found that among his bank accounts was one in the Cayman Islands branch of the Fuji Bank containing $1.6 million.

ooo

Mara Leveritt, Arkansas Times
- On the subject of Seal, the usually astute governor had come across as unusually uninformed. A citizens' group called the Arkansas Committee suspected that state and federal authorities had agreed to protect Seal in Arkansas. Disturbed by Clinton's apparent disinterest, members of the group at one point unfurled a 10-foot-long banner at the state Capitol that asked: WHY IS CLINTON PROTECTING BUSH? In 1992, when Clinton and George H.W. Bush opposed each other for president, neither candidate mentioned Seal.

ooo

Roger Morris & Sally Denton, Penthouse Magzine - Seal's legacy includes more than 2,000 newly discovered documents that now verify and quantify much of what previously had been only suspicion, conjecture, and legend. The documents confirm that from 1981 to his brutal death in 1986, Barry Seal carried on one of the most lucrative, extensive, and brazen operations in the history of the international drug trade, and that he did it with the evident complicity, if not collusion, of elements of the United States government, apparently with the acquiescence of Ronald Reagan's administration, impunity from any subsequent exposure by George Bush's administration, and under the usually acute political nose of then Arkansas governor Bill Clinton. . .

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

What we can learn from Maine about 2020

Sam Smith - As the map above from Wikipedia illustrates, about half of the electoral votes in 2016 came the south or mid west and Trump got most of them. The Democratic states tended to be on the coasts. Oddly, Maine reflects this division, having only two congressional districts - one of them liberal and along the coast and one inland. conservative and the second most rural district in the country. It is also larger than ten states.

This year - assuming a recount underway doesn't flip the race - the winner was a Democrat in his 30s.

According to the current liberal dogma, voters in the rural areas and the south are often considered racist and uninformed, just to mention a couple of standard criticisms. This does not match up to the facts, however.  For example Democrats Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton took much of the areas in question.

In Maine, in recent history there have been in the Second District seven Republicans (including moderates like Margaret Chase Smith and Olympia Snow) and five Democrats. With the exception of 2018, Democratic presidential candidates have won there in every race since 1992. In fact Obama's margin of victory (8 points) almost marched Trump's (10 points).

In other words, writing off the mid west or the south is self destructive. Instead, we need to approach it as another political challenge.

For example, the Democratic establishment and its coastak audience gives little attention to this part of America. Still, if you look at the list of the Democratic presidents that won it, you'll see one thing in common: they all came from there.

 Which is why I suggested in the 2008 election that the governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer be considered for the job. And why I urge a close look now at Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

It isn't popular, though, because the Democratic mainstream doesn't talk United States. In ways it sometimes doesn't even realize it dismisses a major portion of the country.

Which is why looking at the recent Maine 2nd District victory of Jerod Golden can help. Here's how Ballotpedia summarized his campaign

       Golden connected his background as a Marine to his idea of service in political office. He said that in the Marines and in the Maine House of Representatives, he served people over special interests and put politics aside to work as a team with others.
        Golden highlighted his experience working three jobs after his time in the Marines when discussing his policy priorities. He said he would work to protect healthcare coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, lower drug prices, and protect Social Security and Medicare.
        Golden called Poliquin a career politician. He said Poliquin voted for plans to cut Social Security and Medicare and remove healthcare coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Golden's emphasis on healthcare was not his alone. The Maine Beacon noted:
     In a long email to supporters  reflecting on the election, the Maine GOP wrote, “Maine independents, undecideds and swing voters were largely persuaded to vote Democrat this year.” Adding, “We believe the issues of healthcare and the sentiment on national politics swayed the independents to vote that way.”

    From legislators’ support for Governor Paul LePage’s efforts to block voter-approved Medicaid expansion to U.S. House Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Maine Republicans were clear in their antipathy to health care.

    As the email goes on to note, turnout in Maine was “unprecedented,” particularly for Democrats, who won the governor’s seat, flipped the state Senate and expanded their majority in the Maine House – in addition to winning Poliquin’s Second District seat. An estimated 65 percent of registered Mainers turned out to vote, compared to 59.2 percent in the 2014 midterms, and 55.9 percent in 2010, according to Maine’s Secretary of State.
The other important thing about Golden is that he is in his mid-thirties. He represents an age group that will eventually have to run the country but right now is still voting way below, say, those  50 and older. While our politics discriminates by ethnicity and gender, it no less does so by age as well. For example, Quorum reports:
    Today the average American is 20 years younger than their representative in Congress. This should come as no surprise, considering that over the past 30 years the average age of a Member of Congress has increased with almost every new Congress. In 1981, the average age of a Representative was 49 and the average of a Senator was 53. Today, the average age of a Representative is 57 and the average of a Senator is 61. This prompted us to take a further look at those graying averages.

    The average age of the Democratic House leadership is 72 years old, whereas the average age of Republican House leadership is 48 years old. This trend continues in House committee leadership with Republican chairmen averaging 59 years old and ranking Democrats averaging 68 years old.
 In short, the election of Jared Golden is a nice lesson of the sort Democrats should pay more attention to: Respect and  help non-urban America and go for the young involved.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

How we lost the White House to show business

 

Sam Smith - The recent media obsequiousness about the death of George H W Bush has been  virtually unlimited. Aside from a few places such as Intercept, Slate and the Progressive Review, it was impossible to find stories describing any negative aspects of his presidency.

Watching how today's media describe a story you lived through thirty years ago is often disappointing but particularly in the case of a president because as I noted just before the election of George H W Bush, "We all speak television now. American life has become a docudrama and we keep forgetting which part we just invented."

It really began with the Kennedy-Nixon television debate. While it was a godsend that Kennedy was elected, there is no doubt that his visual personality played a big part. In fact, polls taken after the debate found that Kennedy had won the TV version while Nixon had won among radio listeners.

It is interesting to note that Lyndon Johnson, the modern president who got the most good legislation passed in the least time (albeit along with a awful war) is hardly mentioned any more while the media goes gaga over GHW.

Ronald Reagan was our first president elected for being a television and movie personality. But as I wrote at the time, GHW made it a tradition. 

The price for this has not been cheap. For example, by the time Bill Clinton came along, the media only paid homage to his skill as its manipulator with little attention to the the role of corruption in his real Arkansas story. I sometimes suspect that Trump's decision to run for president was based in part with a sense that "if Clinton can get away with it, I certainly can."

In any case, since Reagan we have been electing presidents by media image rather than by reality. And we're paying the price. 

Sam Smith, November 1988
- This year's presidential campaign, otherwise without socially redeeming virtue, has at least effectively destroyed the myth of Ronald Reagan as mediameister. George Bush has proved that anybody can do it. This had been long concealed because of a natural confusion between cause and effect. Reagan appeared to be manipulating the media when, in fact, he was simply reaping the benefits of being its most diligent and well-behaved student-politician. What appeared to be a Stygian skill called from deep within him was nothing more than a long and total commitment to the media's own rules and mores.

That the effect can be replicated virtually at will was amply demonstrated by the Bush campaign. Bush entered the race absent a verifiable microcurie of charisma, with little rhetorical ability, and seemingly lacking even elemental shrewdness.

Yet his media triumph has put even that of the Great Prevaricator to shame. What took Reagan years of GE commercials to achieve, Bush has mastered in a few short weeks. The dramatic alteration of the presumed persona of George Bush should come as no surprise to students of the tube. After all, television long ago learned that talent was the least of its requirements. It discovered it didn't need a comedian as good as Ernie Kovacs, a journalist as good as Edward R. Murrow or some actress imported from Broadway to fill a dramatic role. It could simply manufacture a reasonable likeness out of the endless pool of attractive, inoffensive faces and bodies trooping through its casting offices.

George Bush stars in this season's mini-series: The Presidency, Part XXXXI.  We all speak television now. American life has become a docudrama and we keep forgetting which part we just invented. Reality as nostalgia, In such an environment it is small wonder that we choose our presidents for their symbolic virtue more for their policies, that political debates are really little than national screen tests, and that facts have become the icing on the cake of myth. We are not electing a president any more. We are selecting a mediarch, one who rules through the media. The person we chose is the one who best performs the symbolic role of president as we would like to see it on TV. Presidential elections have become a process by which the American voting public decides which advertising agency it likes best.