Pentagon’s Deal with Siemens

I was first hipped to this by the Berliner Zeitung, whose angle includes a details I haven’t found elsewhere, perhaps down to the German perspective or company spin (translation and emphasis mine):

Munich – Siemens can look forward to two major contracts, respectively, from the USA and India. On the one hand, the medical technology division, which is facing a possible IPO, received a blanket order from the US Department of Defense for radiology systems of an unusually large magnitude, the company announced on Wednesday night.

The Pentagon can thus order technology, accessories and training for up to 4.1 billion dollars over the next five years with an option for an additional five years. Individual orders will be booked according to request, a Siemens spokesperson stressed.

Medical technology, which operates under the name of Healthineers, is one of the largest and most profitable portfolios for the Munich-based company. Orders of this overall scope are, however, extremely rare, especially since the US government under Donald Trump was rather expected to favor the domestic rival GE. Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser wants to bring the medical technology division onto the stock market in the current year and is considering a listing in New York.

For its part, erstwhile GE mouthpiece, now Comcast company CNBC feeds us Reuters:

Siemens Medical Solutions USA, a unit of Siemens AG, has been awarded a maximum $4.1 billion firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for radiology systems, accessories and training, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Firm-fixed price, according to my understanding, is what I recall being informally referred to as “one time good deal.”

As is par for my course for my train of thought, I wondered first about the military rather than medical applications of nuclear medicine and X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography, and positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You know, like 4.1 billion’s worth of it.

Speaking of the alleged unexpected nature of the art of this particular deal, this following bit of ancient history — which may or may not be specifically relevent, but is no doubt an indication of the kind of people doing the dealing — was spit up by the search engine from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung:

Panama Papers The secrets of dirty money

Searching for gold

By Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer and Jan Strozyk

In November 2013, 375,077.83 ounces of gold – worth about USD 480 million at the time – were deposited to a bank account in the Bahamas, according to the Panama Papers. The account at the local branch of Société Générale, a French bank, belonged to Hans-Joachim Kohlsdorf. For several decades, the virtually unknown 57-year-old German held various senior positions at Siemens, mainly in Latin America.

The fortune worth 480 Million USD is one of the biggest mysteries to be found in the Panama Papers. If the amount is correct, how would someone like Kohlsdorf have access to so much money? Why was this apparent transaction made? And could it have had anything to do with the Siemens slush funds that made for the largest bribery scandal ever seen in German business? The scandal cost a number of executives their jobs – including members of the Siemens board of management and supervisory board – and it kept state prosecutors busy for years. For decades, hundreds of Siemens executives had operated a global network of secret accounts and companies. They used these to bribe civil servants, politicians, or business partners. Over time, billions of euros in bribes were paid.

Using offshore companies is the best way to cover up bribes

Kohlsdorf, the man with the account in the Bahamas, was one of the people under investigation. During a hearing at the Munich state prosecutor’s office, he admitted to having managed slush funds for several national Siemens subsidiaries in Latin America. However, he got off lightly because it couldn’t be proven that he paid bribes himself. Moreover, as a result of having cooperated with the authorities, the Munich state prosecutor ended the investigation against Kohlsdorf in 2012 due to insignificance. In the end, he was only required to pay a fine of EUR 40,000.

At the time, prosecutors were sympathetic to Kohlsdorf’s plight, stating that his actions had been purely the result of a “misunderstanding of corporate interests”, and that he had enabled the “full return” of the remaining slush fund millions.

At any event, Kohlsdorf got off with a clean bill. But was this justified? Did Kohlsdorf really return all of the money? The Panama Papers suggest that Kohlsdorf didn’t, that he may in fact have helped himself to some of the slush fund money, and that he may not have returned the full amount of remaining funds to Siemens.

In several ways, the documents leaked from the Mossack Fonseca law firm shed new light on the Siemens scandal. They provide insights that investigators in Munich did not have at the time of the investigations. For instance, it now seems that Mossack Fonseca was an important partner for Siemens, and managed a number of shell companies for the German corporation. After all, using offshore companies is the best way to cover up bribes.

Harry Potter, Señor K. and Bruni

For a long time, Kohlsdorf was one of the most important Siemens executives in the region. He directed business in the Andes region from 1997 onward, and in Mexico from 2003 to 2009. According to his statements at the state prosecutor’s office, Kohlsdorf had access to slush funds worth more than USD 100 million, most of which was paid back to Siemens from 2008 onward. A portion of this money was ostensibly used to reward business partners and civil servants for getting Siemens contracts.

At Mossfon, Kohlsdorf and other Siemens executives were considered special clients, as people “with a great deal of money”, as an internal Mossack Fonseca memo states. Their business dealings were to be treated with “utmost confidentiality”. The law firm informed its employees never to send any documents to Kohlsdorf, insisting that everything had to stay in Panama. Mossfon’s services included everything necessary to protect the law firm and Siemens customers. For instance, in the documents, Kohlsdorf’s name was almost always abbreviated; he was referred to as “Señor K.” Even email accounts with code names such as “Azkaban” – the prison for wizards in the world of Harry Potter – were created. And yet, in some cases, the managers of the shell companies and their clients were careless. Another email account bore the name “Bruni”, the name of Kohlsdorf’s mother.

Despite such lapses, the system of secrecy worked, even when the Siemens bribery scandal was exposed in November 2006 and investigators, lawyers, and auditors closely examined the company’s activities. In general, investigators saw only the German portion of the affair: how Siemens used fake invoices and bogus consultancy contracts for years to take money off the official books and move it into slush funds for bribery purposes. A number of shell companies in places like Liechtenstein and the Caribbean are mentioned in the Munich investigation files. In some instances, the state prosecutors even managed to identify people who received bribes in Russia or Nigeria.

Mossack Fonseca remained hidden from the investigators

However, Mossack Fonseca remained hidden from the investigators, who were unaware of what the law firm did for Siemens. The Munich state prosecutor’s office sent a letter rogatory to Panama. The main questions were left unanswered. Investigators then concluded that sending a second letter rogatory wouldn’t make sense.

As a consequence, Siemens’ links to Mossfon – and with them Kohldorf’s links –remained in the dark for nine years, until now. On June 10, 2008, Kohlsdorf testified for three hours at the state prosecutor’s office, and investigators were still unaware of the link to Mossfon afterwards. As the documents reveal, on the very same day as his testimony, Kohlsdorf’s contact person at Mossack Fonseca sent an email to an internal distribution list stating that he had just received “bad news”. It was possible that the Siemens millions would have to be transferred back to Germany. This meant that “we will lose this money and our client Gillard”.

Gillard Management was a shell company with accounts in Panama, Singapore, and Switzerland. As the email exchange and leaked documents show, Kohlsdorf and other Siemens employees were involved with the administration of this company. Oddly, Gillard wasn’t founded until 2007, several months after the Siemens scandal was exposed in November 2006. Thereafter, millions of dollars were moved through Gillard accounts, but the detailed reasons behind these transactions remain unclear. Mossack Fonseca did not reply to SZ’s request for comment on the matter. Kohlsdorf, in turn, has denied knowing anything about a company called Gillard Management. And yet in internal emails, a Mossfon employee names him as the initiator of the company’s foundation.

This isn’t the only mystery. Even more puzzling are the 480 million dollars in gold that the Panama Papers suggest were deposited in the fall of 2013 on Kohldorf’s Société Générale account in the Bahamas. The transaction is listed in an account overview that Mossack Fonseca kept as a record of the banking activities it managed for its clients. It shows thousands of money transfers, some of them in dollars, others in euros, and others in gold. Mossfon employees neatly listed whom the money went to. While only a few thousand dollars were transferred in some instances, in others a few million were moved from one offshore account to other. In one case, even tens of millions of dollars were transferred. A single transfer worth 480 million euros would be rather unusual.

If payments from the account overview are compared with documents from the Panama Papers and other sources, there is much to suggest that these payments were made. What’s more, Kohldorf’s name appears on some of these payments, which were made through the account at Société Générale in the Bahamas. Kohlsdorf confirmed to SZ that the account belonged to him.

But what about the 480 million euros in gold? Were they also deposited on his account? And did the money belong to him? Kohlsdorf has denied that such a large amount of money was ever deposited to his account. Société Générale has stated that it cannot confirm having recorded a payment of that size in its books.

A sign of market manipulation

It could just be a bizarre coincidence that gold trading was temporarily suspended at the London Stock Exchange on the very same day that the gold is thought to have appeared on Kohlsdorf’s account. Within ten seconds, the price of gold dropped by 10 US dollars, which is a sign of market manipulation. The movement of half a billion dollars worth of gold on the market could certainly spark such developments. Whether or not the transaction could be linked to these developments is unclear; the London Stock Exchange has not disclosed any details. Bafin, the German financial supervisory authority, which at the time had also initiated an investigation against Société Générale, has also remained silent on the matter.

Beyond the information contained in the Panama Papers, there is no trace of the 480 million dollars in gold anywhere, and thus nothing to prove that it actually existed. But what if it did? Did Kohlsdorf simply borrow a few hundred million dollars from somewhere for speculative reasons? Did he try to transfer the sum to his account, which was rejected by Société Générale? Could this be why the bank “did not record” the transaction, as it has claimed? There are a number of possibilities here. However, one thing is clear: the account in the Bahamas also appears elsewhere in the Panama Papers.

Kohlsdorf even provided the state prosecutor’s office with documents that referred to a Gillard account at a bank in Panama, for which he was named as the beneficiary. However, the company name does not appear in the Panama Papers. According to documents that Kohlsdorf turned over to investigators, there were USD 4,189,696.17 on the account on June 30, 2008. During the hearing, Kohlsdorf mentioned a sum of six million. At any event, the money on the account belonged to Siemens. And yet only USD 4.1 million were transferred back to the company.  A bank statement found in the Panama Papers shows that, on June 30, 2008, there were actually USD 6,141,461.79 on the account, two million dollars more than the amount mentioned in the state prosecutor’s files.

These extra two million dollars stayed on the account as repayment to Siemens progressed, and the money was still there afterwards. As Mossack Fonseca documents show, Kohlsdorf used this money to have bonds acquired for him and to make other investments.

To make things even more complex: in the summer of 2012, when the investigation against Kohlsdorf was closed, two million dollars on an Andorra account moved to UBS in Zurich. According to the transfer slip, the account belonged to a bank employee. At the time, Kohlsdorf had no longer been working for Siemens for three years.

The transfer to Zurich apparently almost failed, as a compliance department employee at Mossfon googled the banker’s name and found anonymous hints that he had been involved in money laundering. Perhaps more importantly, Mossfon didn’t have a copy of his passport. However, Kohldorf’s client advisor at Mossfon, a German, dismissed any concerns. But the question remains as to why the UBS banker received the money. While he declined to respond to a request for comment on the matter, he did state that he never personally benefited from Siemens money. UBS has also declined to comment. An internal UBS source who is aware of all the details – including the date, the sum, and Gillard Management – has named someone else as account holder: not a banker, but Hans-Joachim Kohlsdorf himself.

If this were true, it would mean that the former Siemens executive moved the rest of the slush fund to a Swiss bank account after the investigation against him was closed. At a hearing at the Munich state prosecutor’s office a few years earlier, Kohlsdorf had stated that he “never took money from the accounts for personal use”. For the state prosecutors, this statement was one of the decisive reasons why the case against Kohlsdorf was closed. Kohlsdorf did not answer the SZ’s request for comment as to whether the UBS account belonged to him.

According to the Panama Papers, the remaining money in the Andorra account was also distributed. Mossack Fonseca received EUR 80,000 as commission, and Kohlsdorf had another USD 20,000 transferred to a former Siemens colleague in Ecuador. Another USD 50,000 remained. According to Mossack Fonseca, the bank had already been told that the money would be paid to a friend. This “friend” was Kohlsdorf himself. As the Panama Papers show, in the spring of 2013 the USD 50,000 ended up in exactly the same place as the apparent 480 million dollar six months later: at Société Générale in the Bahamas.

Siemens has stated that the company knew nothing about the establishment of Gillard Management and the movements of money. These procedures were carried out “beyond Siemens’ sphere of knowledge and influence”.

An old pal’s urgent need for cash

But the story goes even further. Another ex-Siemens man also appears to have helped himself to funds at Casa Grande Development, a company that Mossfon also managed. The Munich state prosecutor’s files mention it as a shell company for slush funds. He wrote to his Mossfon client advisor that he was in “urgent need of cash”. His “old pal” had left him sitting on a “financial deficit” of more than half a million dollars. From 2009 onward, the former Siemens employee gradually had USD 630,000 transferred from the company to himself. The Panama Papers reveal that the money was declared as “property tax” in some instances, and as “consulting fees” in others. According to the Munich investigation files, in 2008 he stated that he would not lay further claim to the money still on the accounts of Siemens AG. However, he appears to have cashed in. He did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the Panama Papers, USD 32 million were returned to Siemens from slush funds in South America. Until now, the company appears to believe it received the full remaining amount. In June 2010, Peter Solmssen, at the time general counsel at Siemens, issued a confirmation stating that all the funds Kohlsdorf had managed and mentioned had been returned to the company. Both Siemens and investigators believed that they were dealing with a repentant sinner. Kohlsdorf had paid his EUR 40,000 monetary fine on time, including EUR 10,000 to the Bayerischer Landesverband für Gefangenfürsorge, a Bavarian organization that supports ex-convicts. After these payments were made, the state prosecutor noted in August 2012 that prosecuting Kohlsdorf was “no longer in the public interest.”

In a bid to explain how all of this happened, Kohlsdorf stated that his email account was hacked at the beginning of 2014, and that all of the documents must thus be fake. At the same time, he contradicted this statement by confirming individual transfers and the existence of the account in the Bahamas. As for the 480 million dollars in gold, Kohlsdorf stated that he had “never seen such an absurd situation” in his entire life. At the end of February, he confirmed that he would get the bank statements from Société Générale to solve this mystery.

Since then, however, Kohlsdorf has not responded to any more requests for comment.

Contributors: Hans Leyendecker, Klaus Ott

34 responses to “Pentagon’s Deal with Siemens

  1. ah, capitalism at work.

    is there an expectation that maybe radiological devices will be needed for mass treatment? of, you know, rays and stuff? better start hoarding the medical tech now? but at least they tho’t to give siemens a sweet deal before the nukes start flying.

    • dunno about nukes, certainly a possibility. but i was thinking of T’s pentagon expanding the wider wars w/ ‘boots on the ground’. bombing, strafing, and hellfires on drones don’t really harm GIs.

      but ye gods and little fishes, i knew some of this that bill van auken lays out, but some of it’s brand new and blindingly & abysmally, war-loving. but yes, he ends with:

      “What is most extraordinary is the absence of any organized opposition to the military bloodbath that is being systematically implemented, and that contains within it the seeds of world war. Within the political establishment, the parade of generals testifying before Congress meets nothing but fawning praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. The organizations that orbit the Democratic Party, and once professed opposition to war, remain silent or, more often, do what they can to provide the humanitarian or “left” justifications for imperialist slaughter.

      In the final analysis, the immense power and influence of the US military and its senior commanders notwithstanding, the drive to world war is rooted not in the unleashing of the generals by Trump, but in the crisis of global capitalism and the irresolvable contradiction between world economy and the division of the globe into rival nation-states that is driving every capitalist power to rearmament and militarism, with Washington leading the pack.”

      ‘Pentagon exercises free rein in global military escalation; wsws.org

    • sorry, long couple of days. more than a bit scattered.

      buying medical tech doesn’t seem an efficient offensive strategy. unless this is the equivalent of paying people to dig ditches (which I might be for, in other circumstances, and wouldn’t be surprised by). presumably, they are buying cuz they expect a need to use.

      in what scenario? dirty bomb (nsa key word alert!!! do I get a prize?), accident, warfare. they are buying the medical tech for a medical purpose. smart money says warfare. not full tilt india on Pakistan 1st strike; maybe more DU/tactical nukes kind of thing?

      note that the economy is international. award the contract to siemens of wienerschnitzelsnurembdorfburg and production starts in west ogdenville & new haverbrook, PA tomorrow! ha ha. GE is mad! buy a jingle, buy American. those dudes & dudettes at wsws are right. travel, trade, communication, warfare, weather, the moon…all international. as does the influence of the stars, melting glaciers affects all of us. (in theory, so are human/civil rights, etc, etc., as even Bibi Netantrump pays botox-inflated labial service to).

  2. thanks for the new diary, davidly; i’d been hoping you’d post something. cripes, though, i had to go hunt down earlier coverage of the panama papers. pretty complicated stuff w/ all the shell companies created just in order to provide layers of protection to hide bribes and favors.

    i did a bit of poking around, and i’ll bring a couple things that may be of interest, but for now, just on the long investigative piece, a few things stood out after the second read.

    i had to laugh at: “To make things even more complex…”, as if they weren’t insanely complex already!

    “At a hearing at the Munich state prosecutor’s office a few years earlier, Kohlsdorf had stated that he “never took money from the accounts for personal use”. For the state prosecutors, this statement was one of the decisive reasons why the case against Kohlsdorf was closed.”

    (well, that settled in then; sounds like something lanny breuer might have pretended to buy.)

    “Oddly, Gillard wasn’t founded until 2007, several months after the Siemens scandal was exposed in November 2006.”

    (might not be odd, just another place to hide after the fact, no?)

    “Kohlsdorf has denied that such a large amount of money was ever deposited to his account. Société Générale has stated that it cannot confirm having recorded a payment of that size in its books.”

    and the seeming market manipulation of gold on the london stock exchange, of course.

    but if i’m getting it, there are far too may banks unwilling to provide information. does that imply that they’re involved/complicit in their own right?
    do i assume that the state prosecutor has plenty of forensic accountants who might be able to untangle some of this?

  3. alert: hard hat warning area! (these items will be pasted in willy-nilly.)

    from defense.gov Contracts (conActs?)

    “Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc., Malvern, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a maximum $4,128,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for radiology systems, accessories and training. This is a five-year base contract with one five-year option period. This was a competitive acquisition with 27 responses received. Location of performance is Pennsylvania, with a March 27, 2022, performance completion date. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2017 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE2D1-17-D-0023).”

    but note how many other contract awards were “modification (XXX) to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery, requirements contract”. and how many locales are involved? kinda reminds me of eugene jarecki’s ‘why we fight’. spolier: every state benefits from bases and making the implements of war.

    beats me why it was PA specific, as the PA site only mentions the term ‘health’ once in their main blurb. more of a share the love around thing?

    from massdevice.com may, 2016:

    “The re-branding of German conglomerate Siemens‘s (NYSE:SI) healthcare business as “Siemens Healthineers” – and the mandatory concert it threw for 44,000 employees – have drawn widespread scorn across the globe.
    The new name is intended to underline its pioneering spirit, Siemens said in a statement.”

    “The new offerings are slated to include managed services, consulting and digital services as well as further technologies in the growing market for therapeutic and molecular diagnostics, the company said.
    A Youtube video of the concert, featuring Siemens executives and a troupe of orange- and blue-clad performers dancing to a theme song created to market the re-branding, prompted a storm of incredulous mockery on the Internet.

    “Users of Siemens’ brain-scanners and plasma protein analyzers will care little about the brand name. They will mostly remain unmoved by the sight of people dancing in orange and blue bodysuits at the brand’s official launch. They are unlikely to hum along to the Healthineers theme song as they slide patients in and out of Siemens’ MRI machines.”

    the original party/party video was taken down, but this seems to an ‘un-offishul’ one. yer gonna love the dickens outta it.

    this may have been from the guardian last year: “To be helpful, Mossack Fonseca offered a “virtual” office service for its spooked customers. For $1,500 a year, the company would set up a fake email account, using the domain @tradedirect.biz. Wealthy clients could correspond using anonymous invented names.”

    also at cnbc on the sidebar was this enigmatic quote from feb. 17: ‘Siemens CEO says worried about what he sees in USA’

    “The chief executive of Germany’s Siemens is worried about developments in the United States since Donald Trump took office as president, he said on Wednesday.”

    “”The country has a tradition of openness, freedom, integration,” Kaeser said. “It would be a terrible shame if … one would give this up only because one thinks one would guarantee security.”
    Kaeser added that he was making plans for how to deal with the new U.S. administration but declined to elaborate beyond saying that Siemens was talking to state governors.”

    in between, cnbc carefully promoted the fact that “Siemens employs more than 50,000 people in the United States, its single biggest market, where it makes 21 percent of its total revenue.”

    hint to herr Hair? “jobs, jobs, jobs”?

  4. Thanks for all the additions. Got a gander of Jupiter last night.

    • welcome, davidly, and how great that you got a gander at jupiter! any idea why you’re bonded w/ that great ball? does jove rule your sun sign,or is it his 67 moons that have a hold on you? oh, i’d love to live on a planet where there might be multiple moons aloft….

      this a.m. the entirety of scorpio the fish hook had risen in the south; oh, it’s a yar constellation.

      now has there been any fall-out since hans’ and klaus’s piece came out? have you had any further thoughts? the cnbc thing i stuck in made me wonder, of course, how many recipients of the various slush funds were transferred to the relevant parties in the T admin to make it happen.

      oh, and a good april fools’ day to you.

  5. Thank you, davidly, for highlighting this deal. It so strikes home with an article that I’ve been reading and rereading from links at nakedcapitalism.com’s watercooler –

    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/hamilton-hustle-stoller

    The section of this long but to me revelatory piece which echoes the scope of your subject pertains to Hamilton’s attempts to form what he calls The New Army, a force in which only Federalists could be officers. Stoller describes this as what would become ‘the only partisan army in American history”, and the links between oligarchy and the military which Hamilton, being a military man himself, attempted to forge are so similar to what has been happening this time around, only on steroids, as the saying goes, as to be totally mesmerizing and utterly frightening.

    Maybe TarheelDem can comment on the above, not to distract from your essay but offer some enlightenment on where we possibly go from here. Still looking for that ‘revolutionary election’ I guess. This one doesn’t seem to be it…

    …yet.

    • And to wendye, a side comment that I still seem to be hopelessly entangled in my own private version of the Alien and Sedition Acts – no news on that front.

      • may it get sorted out soon, ww. but, just kidding in a way: we will always be your sanctuary city. we’re pullin’ for you, and i’ll send some sweet grass smoke and prayers your way again tonight. no way you should have to even THINK ABOUT this rubbish, much less be worried or even ‘concerned’.

    • Thanks for that juliana. Very enlightening. And as we can see today, the bipartisan armed forces are nevertheless reserved strictly for the benefit of the moneyed class.

    • Not as well read on Hamilton as on his rivals. Never heard of Hamilton’s New Army until your comment. I see what I can find out. Washington an Adams had some serious rebellions (Whisky and Shays) to contend with.

    • OK. This is what I’ve been able to figure out. During the Adams presidency, Adams and Hamilton (a Washington protege) tangled badly. There was a series of maritime incidents that caused Congress to debate how weak the US structure of the President actually commanding troops in the field and the Secretary of War looking after the logistics of the “tail”. During this debate Congress authorized an increase in War and Navy funding. Hamilton maneuvered himself to be the Senior Officer of the Army (i.e. the Chief of Staff) nominally under ex-President Washington’s command. Under Hamilton’s command, the army became more centralized under Hamiliton, which did not suit the state-appointed militia generals, especially in slave states. Adams used the public sentiment around Washington’s death to ease Hamilton out of the Senior Officer role and Congress in reaction to Hamilton’s overreach rejiggered the War and Navy departments again with tighter Congressional control.

      I think we are way beyond where Hamilton envisioned military centralization to be. The National Security Act of 1947, under the Truman administration, is still the operative framework for the US military, despite changes that actually have tightened military grip on politics without actually politicizing the military, the rap on Hamilton.

      Congress will have to revisit that entire structure at some point; that is the point that the trends to authoritarianism will snap into authoritarianism or undo the mischief of the past 70 years.

      The political problem is that conservatives have argued that there are only two legitimate uses of government national defense (military) and enforcing contracts (police and courts). If that’s all you’re willing to spend on, that’s all you are likely to get. Instead of “freedom”, you actually get imperial dictatorship. Reversing that trend of the past 70 years requires an strong opposition party with broad popular support. I’m not seeing that right now.

      Stoller is somewhat right to place Obama in a Herbert Hoover position of having a major economic crisis and not being politically able to break out of the box to deal with it. In both cases, a major issue what what both Hoover and Obama felt was allowable economics. The Bonus Army and Occupy Wall Street as movements proceeded in about the same trajectory. The Bonus Army left its mark. The well-being of veterans is not challenged as a legitimate object of Congressional legislation.

      The turn-of-the-20th-century historian Henry Adams, descendant of President John Adams, was 50 years ago a constant reference for historians. He tilts toward the Jefferson-Madison-Monroe group and against Hamilton, but if you want to get down in the the weeds of the early Republic, Henry Adams has eight volumes for you to read to get you just to 1812.

      I’m not seeing a revolutionary election because I’m not seeing a serious opposition party (electoral) to Trump’s fusion of the three Republican caucuses–Reagan/Bush, TEA Party, and Freedom. But there is still some ferment at the grassroots that has not gone away, so who knows? Everyone is waiting for something other than the same old establishment Democrats, the knee-jerk conservative Republicans, and the weak and always-too-late-to-the-struggle third parties that have to build organization of 535 hunks of geography to turn out winning numbers of people who rarely have heard of them before.

      The other possibility is societal collapse. That’s looking long-time-coming as well.

  6. Interesting stuff, davidly.

    My take starts with some basics: Ryan Costello (R) is the Congressman who represents the Malvern PA area. Ryan Costello is on the Energy and Commerce Committee and nothing else (essentially a sophomore member of the House). Malvern and Chester County voted Clinton but re-elected Costello and Toomey. Don’t know whether it’s swinginess masked a swing for Trump that delivered Pennsylvania for Trump. My first take says its about rewarding workers, possibly some who voted for Trump.

    Jeffrey Immelt, former CEO of GE supported Democrats and held a position in the Obama White House for a while. Picking Siemens sounds like political payback, $4.1 billion of payback.

    The order sounds like a huge bulk purchase blanket order that negotiates preferable pricing because of its size. So, any agency authorized to charge against this order can order anything covered in this order on an as needed and approved basis until the amount of the order is exhausted. DoD has a large number of on-base hospitals around the world. Spending $4.1 billion likely will not be difficult at the prices of this equipment.

    I think the story is political instead of what DoD is up to. Military health care will get Siemens stuff instead of GE stuff. Ultrasound, MRI, CT, data analysis tools, and web presentation tools. That’s what the Siemens Malvern web site is peddling.

    That’s my take unless there is something more. Now how much money Ryan Costello, Trump administration officials, and Pennsylvania Democratic officials as well got under the table to grease this DoD contract is another matter and Siemens sales folk apparently have their own walking around money.

    • thanks for this comment. we should always entertain the possibility of business as usual in this type of stuff. oh no, nothing suspicious at all to see here. beyond the usual “free market uber alles” gov’t crap.

  7. cynicalseeker

    Hello. This is my first post on your excellent blog, Ms. Wendy, which is a breath of fresh sanity in internet land. I am a foreclosure defense attorney and I’m not surprised that they’re so lax about enforcing the letters rogatory and investigating the banks in general. The things I have seen banks get away with and the deference showed by the judiciary is unreal!

    There are six ways to Sunday that the banks can steal your house. Legally. Even if you are current on your payments. By way of trickery, deception and plausible deniability.

    My state passed a mild reform of the foreclosure laws a few years ago. Already the appellate courts are interpreting the law to mean absolutely nothing. And even when I catch the banks red handed vioating state or federal law (or the terms of the note and mortgage), the courts have the doctrine of “substantial compliance” to let the bank of the hook. If that doesn’t work, then they go into an inquiry of whether my client is prejudiced (harmed) by the bank’s actions. If they find that my client wouldn’t have been able to catch up despite the bank’s non-compliance, chalk one up for the bank.

    Unfortunately, it only works one way. If my client is a few cents short or a few days late with their payment, they don’t go into an analysis of whether they “substantially complied” or whether the bank was “prejudiced.” It’s heads I win, tails you lose.

    The lawlessness going to the top of our society is becoming ever more transparent.

    I’m getting off topic here, but the pizzagate thing made me take another look at the Dutroux pedophilia scandal, which went to the very top of Belgian society. Unlike pizzagate, there were actual victims who came forward and told consistent stories and named (the same) names. If honest people in law enforcement were pushed off the case, and protection of such utter horrific depravity could not be defeated, with a woke populace, it is no wonder that banks and corporations can get away with things like this. I wish I knew how to organize and motivate people, and that I wasn’t 58 years old with multiple health problems and wasn’t working overtime to keep people in their homes (I do sometimes win a trial or keep them in through loss mitigation or bankruptcy) because (as I know you all know) this situation is intolerable and leading somewhere really ugly if we don’t get it together soon….

    • welcome to the café, cynicalseeker; we’re glad to have you here, and hope you’ll become a regular. having you pop in is especially timely, as i’d been a bit low about so few folks weighing in lately.

      but whooosh; how hard it must be to be in the thick of ‘the banks really owning the place’ and disregarding the law. but as we know, what the law is, and what the judges say it is, are largely two different things. how hard it is to hear that in the midst of your noble attempts to keep folks in their houses, you’re having health problems.

      are these foreclosures happening around the sub-prime mortgage/mers debacles? or just the general fine print: if you fail to pay your electrical bill, water bill on time, the mortgage rates reset? i may be on the wrong road, but we were talking about some of this at another site, and i went to see what david dayen was up to lately, and discovered him at this website: http://4closurefraud.org/

      i had to wince at their disclaimer:

      “Read at your own risk. May be too intense for some viewers. Do not read this site if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, asthma, glaucoma, or difficulty in urination.

      Discontinue reading this website if any of the following occurs: itching, aching, vertigo, dizziness, ringing in your ears, vomiting, giddiness, aural or visual hallucinations, tingling in extremities, loss of balance or coordination, slurred speech, temporary blindness, drowsiness, insomnia, profuse sweating, shivering, or heart palpitations.

      Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.”

      but you may already be familiar w/ it; if not, file under: misery loves solidarity, and there may be tips. ;-) but if ya need a few laughs, go read my april fool’s day diary (albeit it’s the 2nd already). oh, and i get loads of info about affinity groups forming, trying to make life better either locally or more broadly, but it’s hard to say what will catch on. the bernistas are trying to reform, too, but: not my cuppa, to say the truth.

      • cynicalseeker

        Thanks for your warm welcome, Wendy. I’m making this one short because I made three other posts but they didn’t get through somehow. I hope this one does.

        • cynicalseeker

          BTW, thank you for that blog. And he’s in Florida too! I spent yesterday reading it and have learned some immensely helpful things that will help my clients.

      • cynicalseeker

        Oh good. It finally worked! I like your blog because of your wonderful sense of humor (ack! rooskie propaganda cracked me up), sense of spirituality, and fearlessness in exploring topics others shy from.

        Yes, most of my cases deal with fallout from the subprime crisis. The ways of fraud are legion: forced place insurance people don’t need which jacks up the payments, bogus endorsements, dual tracking (one branch of the bank telling borrowers to stop making payments to qualify for a modification while the legal department is preparing for foreclosure). All a mix of deception and plausible deniability. It’s a mess, but I have won several trials and have succeeded a lot in obtaining modifications and keeping people in their home. If all else fails, there’s cash for keys and Chapter 13. (don’t get me started on what a Rube Goldberg machine of booby traps for the debtor the bankruptcy law has become).

        I suffer from fibromyalgia, sleep apnea and I recently recovered from throat cancer. I can keep the fibromyalgia at Bay with exercise, yoga and a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, hormones and enzymes.

        I love the whole vibe of your blog and look forward to posting here in the future. I have become a fan of davidly too. I got here by way of Tarzie and Arthur Silber. So glad to find like-minded people who aren’t caught up in the current tangle of competing insanities.

        • oh, lord luv a duck; i’d forgotten this one: “dual tracking (one branch of the bank telling borrowers to stop making payments to qualify for a modification while the legal department is preparing for foreclosure)”.

          egad, and remember the evil credit default swaps blythe masters of jp m-m-morgan admitted to creating? ha. i used to do a schtick at my.firedoglake that i was his squeeze, and just couldn’t understand why the fbi was harassing me so often. swear to goddess, i thought the satire of lovin’ on him for his congressional testimony was soooo obvious, but some folks thought it was…er…genuine. perhaps ‘wd the nutbar’ came to their minds too easily?

          boy, do i get off-track. yes, davidly’s a peach, and i kept meaning to email him to ask if he might have decided the café was too bougie for his cross-posts as i seen some of his newer stuff (albeit hard for mine eyes, that white on black) to read.

          arthur silber’s the most insightful curmudgeon online, isn’t he? i’ve used his alice miller diaries a lot, as well.

          hash news on your health, though. my overall health is purdy darned good, save for the fact that i have fairly well trashed my k-nees, and feel pretty old ‘n in the way a lotta the time. keep tellin’ mr. wd to shoot me and get a new model, but he just won’t do it.

          and cool on the helpful tips at the 4closurefraud website. pretty soon you’ll be writin’ columns of your own there, no? florida. used to have relatives there we’d go visit, mainly on the west coast.

          anyhoo, great to have you here. dunno why your other comments didn’t ‘take’ at first.

          on edit: ha! it must be davidly who’s been puttin’ the back-spin mojo on your comments. tell him to stop it.

          and mr. wd read one of my comments, and he said he’d gladly shoot me, savin’ for he’d miss my fine cuisine. ;-) i’d always reckoned that was The Thing. our son always says: “when you die, i get your cookbooks!”, as if that’s where fine cooking comes from. but srsly, he, rather than our daughter, learned a few cooking things here. now far away daughter is learning, as well, after resisting for all her years with us. she sends photos of her successes; go figure.

          • cynicalseeker

            Was firedoglake your blog? Or did you used to post there? Anyway, I’m thrilled you responded to me. You seem to be a “child of the sixties” like myself. Though I was a little young, I turned 12 in 1970. I want to read “Sunshine Daydream” by Ron Jacobs, about sixties culture in the seventies. It was a little lonely trying to be a hippie in the seventies when the mass populace was wearing leisure suits and into disco, but I had a core of friends in college who shared my Outlook and I keep in touch with most of them.

            You have a very cool site here and I get a vibe of love and compassion and goodness. People like you and the commentariat here keep me going. There is so much blindness on the right and mainstream left. I am encouraged though that the right seems to be waking up to the fact that war is a racket. But the resurgence of unabashed racism scares me.

            I see your point about the Sandernistas. Not radical enough for me, esp. with regard to foreign policies. I like Caitlyn Johnstone’s skewering of the Clinton wing, but her blind spot is that she sees Bernie as the second coming of Christ. I do wish he had won the election though, much better than any others.

            One teensy weensy complaint I have though: is there any way to fix the comments so they’re more readable? Many times I am enthralled by the level of discussion and it turns into a single column of letters that is hard to read. (I hate to criticize your otherwise amazing blog. Maybe this is a problem endemic to WordPress, I’ve encountered this problem before).

          • cynicalseeker

            Oh, also meant to say that I’m glad you’re in good health. I was concerned because you speak of memory problems. Bad knees can be awful. Do you have the resources to get knee replacement s? They really helped a friend of mine. For me, Obamacare was a godsend, I was only making $1200 a month when I signed up b because we had just started the new practice. I only paid $24 a month in premiums and had a good plan with a low deductible which covered my prescriptions. I didn’t have to order from Canada anymore. I shudder to think what it will be now that I’m bringing in 4k-6k a month. Right now I’m not covered because I m late with my 2014-15 returns and I got diagnosed with cancer on April 14 and due to the shock forgot to file for an extension. By goddess, I have a tendency to ramble too. Re your firedoglake experience, it’s amazing how many people miss obvious satire, isn’t it?

            I’ve been reading Arthur Silber for years. To me, he’s like a prophet. I send him money when I can. I couldn’t really relate to Alice Miller because I had a wonderful childhood with a loving family and my dad taught me to question authority. They’re all gone now, including both of my sisters. I have no family at all left. Only my Perils of being born to parents in their forties.

            It’s been very nice chatting with you Wendy.

  8. to cynicalseekeer up yonder:

    here’s the wiki on firedoglake; my.fdl was the eventual name of the readers or community diaries, i fondly called ‘the ghetto’.

    guess i don’t know ‘sunshine dreamers’, although ron jacobs is vaguely familiar, but then…so much is vague to me now. so many alleged lefties (like jaobin, too many times) rant and rave against Ds, then genuflect before bernie. to say the truth, i’m glad enough he didn’t win. for one thing, it *may* have put the nail in the clinton dynasty (and signs are i Do mean *May have*), and folks in the US can see who they are, and how much they can take of faux populism, nationalism. but wid the bern, he was exactly the sheepdog some of the BAR authors had predicted, campaigning for the Red Queen, and i call bullshit that every ‘librul’ keeps saying he’s “about to introduce” a senate version of house bill 676 medicare for all, but: i’ve also been shown some of his bullshit reasons for not doing so in interviews here and there. yeh, he may finally get around to it on “mass action for medicare for all” day, pfffft. and as you say, his militarism is also pffffft.

    on the unreadability issue, i’m glad you asked. it must depend on what platform you’re reading on; there are many, but mainly i come in on firefox, but have to compose on chrome in order to be able to use the non-teeny-bopper ‘new’ way to write. but i set the place up w/ nested comments, although some of those white lines get confusing as to who’s answering whom.

    so if you’re getting a letter at a time, may i ask what platform you come in, and or what sort of…machine? maybe if it’s a smart phone, it formats differently?

    and as for your second comment, i’ll respond tomorrowm and anything i forgot on this one.? i’m bushed, and it’s a complicated subject. plus i read and read about the Empire’s attempts to start a soft coup against maduro in VZ, they can’t let anything bolivarian rest (save the ecudorian election, miraculously).

    and by the by: why the hell did you give me an arithmetic problem? i fooking had to write down on a post-a-note: ‘1970 minus 12’, arrrrgh. but really, i fooled ya (j/k): i was born in dec. 1950, so i was 20 in 1970, and am now an offishul geezerette. sleep well; its been nice chatting w/ you, as well.

    the late, great spoken word singer(and friends) santee sioux john trudell’s last recording before ‘his ride came for him’.

    • cynicalseeker

      I use Firefox, and the only internet I have at home that works is my Samsung phone. (Hoping to remedy this situation soon). So it may be my phone, although I have had this problem before even on my laptop ( not your site, but others.) Hopefully I’ll get real internet at home and it will no longer be a problem.

      Sorry about the math. My dad taught me a trick for doing simple arithmetic in my head but I don’t always remember to consider others. Goodnight and sweet dreams. :)

      • dunno how you can type on a phone, but then i’m not sure i’ve ever seven seen a smart phone in person, so to speak. the reason i was teasing you about the pop quiz in arithmetic will be more apparent in part II of my response to you (hopefully). ;-)

        but only vaguely remembering ron jacobs began to bother me, and wot ho? i found him at counterpunch. they’d featured his book cover for ‘hopeless’ on the front page for a long time. mystery solved.

        “Ron Jacobs is the author of the just released novel All the Sinners, Saints. He is also the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator’s Tale. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His third novel All the Sinners Saints is a companion to the previous two and is due out in April 2013. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

  9. pt. II to cynicalseeker:

    ooof; i guess i’d breezed right on by my brain issues when i’d claimed good health ‘otherwise’, tsk, tsk, wd. as far as new knees, the reason my brain is so mooked up is because i did have mandatory knee a couple decades ago, and woke from the anesthetic w/ about half my mental faculties missing. all math, names, time, even chronological order, cognitive abilities, i dunno what all. lotta fun at parties, i was, lol.

    eventually i did manage to establish some neural pathways re-routing, a long and boring story, and i seem to have peaked about three years ago, and am moving backward, hence: so much copy/paste in my diaries now. back then, i finally started writing for the local free press, which was good in that i had to research things…and try hold thoughts aloft like balloons in order to twist their stringed thoughts, facts, and opinions together into something coherent; funny how few folks seem to get how much memory has to do w/ ‘intelligence’. and yes, it’s awesome how some folks fail to get satire.

    but i did retain images fairly well, and i did write some vignettes once i joined the readers’ diaries at TPM based on those sorts of visual and talking memories. (yes, joshua marshall, lol.)

    no,no health insurance save for the nothingness of simple medicare, but then i hadn’t been to a doc for thirty + years save for that abysmal knee surgery, which only kinda/sorta worked. but i’ve made mr. wd promise never, ever, to send me to a hospital or doc ever; they can carry me outta here in a box, then burn my bones, scatter the ashes to the four directions.

    but i’m an orphan as well; both my parents died youngish in the early 70s.

    so kind of you to send arthur $, i did once or twice, but once i’d had to retire from 30 yrs. of body/soul work, the wolf’s been frequently at the door. but beyond my family (toxic grandparents as well), among my extended family and clients, i learned how dysfunctional and cruel so many families are, and that unless one of the children stops it, the toxicity becomes generational. those who do stop it, i often attribute to grace, but that’s a pretty broad term, isn’t it? even given ‘grace’, that child can also benefit from therapeutic exploration and self-knowledge. so…i love miller’s oeuvre, and arthur’s treatment of it.

    and i’m so glad you like this juke-joint, and have said so many kind things in your appreciation. it’s also likely one of the purdiest sites online w/ my photos as banners, imo. ;-)

    on edit: from ‘time dreams’ above:

    Time dreams
    In human form
    And reformed
    Life
    In shapes of shadows
    Of industriously darkened
    Reformed humans
    And behaviors
    Morality
    Decided by punishment
    Or reward…

    Decided by obediences
    Willingness to believe
    Using the lie
    Like a drug
    For the heart
    Silencing questions
    And feelings
    With answers of fear
    And doubt
    Taking the mind
    Through trips
    Some self pity
    Some anger
    Some blame
    Disconnected from time dreams..

    rest in power, john trudell.

    • Thank you for this poem, and for turning me on to Trudell, I can’t believe I’ve never heard of him before. I’m just waking up, my sleep apnea machine is on the blink, being fixed, so I’m getting terrible sleep. Oh well, it’s time I go off to fight the banksters!

  10. welcome, seeker. go get the evil bastards!

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