The Most Powerful Person In the Room



^ the power of oil

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Some may remember the story of the Enron collapse, an energy corporation disaster that now seems a distant memory. Lots of people lost their life savings in that, and Ken Lay, the head of the company, lost his life. The smartest guys in the room…turned out not to be.

In 2017, energy companies are more powerful than ever. Executives come and go, but some companies stay. If we look at energy as power, think this : Politics is a form of power, power over the people, and the lines between corporate power and political power have never been so clearly defined, and clearly blurred.

When it comes to government power we tend to think of the United States- the most powerful nation in the world. But when it comes to the impersonal beast that is big business power, we may think of Big Oil. What does it mean when those two powers…governmental and business…literally become the arms of one man?

Many supporters of Trump think he is powerful; he’s a successful business man and President of the United States. He projects power, which appeals to some people. I’d like to point out there’s a difference between projecting power…and being power. But I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Much of government is a revolving door; someone works in the private sector, does well for a certain industry, then leaves that industry to go work for the government, at a significant reduction in pay. Why would they do that? Answer: because their industry pays them to.

They go to work regulating the industry they used to work for.  Sounds like a conflict of interest, huh? So it is. And systemic.

After they’ve made money in their industry, they go to work for the overseers of their industry- the federal government. Then they go back to the private sector, often in the same job for the same company that employed them before. This trick is called “a revolving door”. One particular perk of it : when someone agrees to accept a public sector position, low-paying and all, they must divest any stocks they have relating to their industry beforehand.

They get to sell whatever stocks they have tax-free.

Let’s say you have $450mil in Goldman Sachs stocks and you accept the president’s appointment to Secretary of Treasury, as did Hank Paulson under Bush 43. That’s $450mil you don’t have to pay taxes on. Nice, huh? It gets nicer.

These newly-appointed cabinet members then get to re-invest that money upon returning to private sector. They literally benefit coming and going. They get to sell and re-invest and completely avoid taxes.

That makes Trump’s kind of tax dodge look dumb.

So why is this important? Because our world now literally hangs in the balance because of it.

Vladimir Putin rose to power in his country by combining his political power and his ability to take oil power. He  took control of Russia by taking over all the oil companies in Russia, mostly by force, and now he’s the single richest man in the world. Since he’s a president…and an oil company owner at the same time…is he effectively the most powerful man in the world ?

Let me say this- if he were to become President of the United States, the answer would be indisputably yes.

I’ll let that sink in. For a moment.

Let’s return to the United States and our revolving door employment policy. The current suspicion is that Putin and Russia influenced our election, literally placing Donald Trump as President, for the benefit of who? Putin? Maybe. After all, he’s president of a country…he places someone under him as acting president of the United States…and wha-bam- he’s the most powerful man in the world, right? The Russian Kaiser Soze.

Trump, in the past, has applauded Putin as “really smart”, which could equate to “the smartest man in the room”. Let’s see if that’s true.

In the United States, the energy equation lately centers around Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines. They stand to make the US less dependent on foreign oil (which, by the way, is Putin’s main commodity). As these pipelines struggle to come online, who benefits from this venture with Transcanada? One particular company of note: Exxon. The biggest oil company in the world.

Perhaps Exxon, leading the way, needed to install someone in the US government to make way for these pipelines massive profit potential. Remember, power is a two-sided animal- government and business. Exxon is an American company, and America is the most powerful country on earth. Since oil is the biggest business on earth, its interests have always driven foreign policy and, literally, war. War is always about oil.

A few years ago a movie called American Gangster starred Denzel Washington. In it his character sternly admonishes his brother for going out in public wearing a pimp-ish fur coat and looking like Super Fly, when that was the first rule of Gangsterism you don’t break.

The loudest one in the room is the weakest in the room.”

Never flaunt your power. Keep it hidden, lest you become a target.

If we apply this movie wisdom, we immediately see who, in our real world, might be the weakest in the room. Cuz he can’t stop tweeting for attention.

So who is the quietest?

Putin seems rather quiet, but he’s infamous, and often comically portrayed on SNL. He spreads propaganda of himself doing macho things, shirtless. That doesn’t sound like the quietest man in the room. Powerful and dangerous, but not the quietest.

So who is?

Who has Trump installed, from the private sector, in a major position of note and has said barely two words to the American people? Trump, who talks about himself in third person, picked said man as his Secretary of State, now literally the third person in line to the presidency.

This person left a lucrative job at Exxon to go to work for the United States government, with a severance package worth $180mil and some $54mil in stock which he gets, per the agreement with the Federal government, to sell without paying taxes.

See this link :

So why am I not saying his name? Because it isn’t about him. It’s about power.

The quietest one is the most powerful one in the room. He shakes hands with presidents, of the United States and Russia. He is from Exxon Mobil but not of it. Exxon has pipelines poised in the US and in Russia, which he will need to oversee and make decisions on…yet recuse himself at the same time. The United States still has sanctions prohibiting oil drilled in Russia, drilling heavily invested in by Exxon.

So as Putin already appears to be in control of Trump, the question becomes who controls Trump and Putin. Consider that it may not be a person. It may be a power.

Return for the moment to a previous idea- “the smartest men in the room.” Maybe smartest refers to something other than cleverness, like perhaps hurting, as in “that smarts”. The men in the room who cause the most hurt. And after that, consider it isn’t one man, but instead something far more powerful. Kaiser Soze was one man and never said anything, but he wasn’t real. He was the unusual suspect.

Maybe this time, he isn’t. Maybe he is oil, itself. Personified.

And he is real.

—- Christopher Mugglebee / The Mugglebee Report at Here and Sphere





^ Mem Fox, an Australian children’s book author recalls her treatment by customs agents recently :

<!– <!–esi –>

“I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness,” Fox said.

“I felt like I had been physically assaulted which is why, when I got to my hotel room, I completely collapsed and sobbed like a baby, and I’m 70 years old.”

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Read the above caption again. I hope that it makes you as angry as it should make all of us.

Somehow, by some twist of history’s knife, America, the nation made by, of, and for immigrants, and by refugees, and even by travelers, has turned its back on itself.

This is the political regime we now live with. The hate is real; the cruelty, the spite, the vengeance; the scapegoats.

We have liked to think that America is humanity’s escape route from the earthquakes of history, and so, often, it has served us. But there IS no escape from the evil in human hearts, there never has been, there never will be. All that people of good will can do is to fight back; to fight and defeat the evils that take hold of some of us some of the time, even in the sanctuary we have called America.

Today the fight is urgent. Immigrants are being harassed at the border and within our communities; harassed and, for the unlucky among them, persecuted. Refugees, who have always had a claim upon our nation’s welcome, now find the welcome mat burned, the open door locked shut. Travelers to America, who have made our tourism industry a fount of prosperity and whose stories of American dynamism and genius, taken back to their homes, have made our nation admired all over the world, are being subjected to intimidation, profiling, condescension, and refusal.

No wonder that many are now cancelling plans to visit here or to apply for refugee status. Student groups have come to the border only to have one or more of their group refused entry. Who wants to risk that happening ? No one I know of.

If you’re Muslim, or of Arabic or Persian origin, expect even worse. Ask Ben Zand, a journalist from Liverpool who was born in England but has Persian ancestry. This is part of his recent tweetstorm:

“…he said they’re told to stop people who look Arabic or Persian, or have an Arabic or Persian sounding name.”

The reverse is happening as well. Green card holders –legal permanent residents — are afraid to leave for fear they won’t be allowed back. Citizens, too, face, when returning from travel broad, the prospect of having customs agents demanding their personal cell phones for searching. For all of us America is now a prison.

For all of the above there is no just reason. All of it has been imposed by the usurper in  Washington to satisfy his fears, his whims, his desire to intimidate and alienate everyone he can. The entire regime is unConstitutional, and no doubt it will eventually be forced out by our one remaining bulwark, the Federal Courts. In the meantime, however, all kinds of evil has sprouted : a thousand bigotries, a sea of hates, a cacophany of groundless grievances given voice by a leader who is a walking hulk of bigotries and hates.

Wor\st of all is the gloating cruelty of his mob. One reads it every day on twitter, the social media platform for journalism and news. One need only surf the comments on Chelsea Clinton’s tweets to see the vulgarity. Hundreds of raw verbal sewage pours into those threads, leaving, for anyone who reads it, shocking demonstration that a large mob of gratuitous evil — glorying in insult, proud of ignorance, sulfurous contempt — has sucked dry our nation’s soul.

Chelsea Clinton can take it. She’s heard versions of it for decades. Our immigrants, refugees, and travelers, however, have far fewer resources to fight the hate. They are the most defenseless among us. It’s hard for travelers to exercise Constitutional rights, harder still for immigrants, almost impossible for refugees. The regime in Washington can assail these almost with impunity, and it is doing so, aggressively, and seeming to glory in it.

Do not imagine that the harassments and persecutions will stop at travelers,. refugees, and immigrants. Be very sure that what is being done to these will soon enough be done to the rest of us if we do not fight back and win, if we do not stop the evil at its beachhead. Because immigrants, refugees, and travelers are us. They are what America is made of. If we value America, we must value them, cherish them, fight for them. They are the future of us.

—- Mike Freedbertg / Here and Sphere