Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 8h 37m 7s|
Why I love Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold
He writes a formal letter to The Honorable J.M. McConnell Director of National Intelligence Washington, D.C. 20511
Dear Director McConnell:
I have received a copy of your March 28, 2008, speech at Furman University. In it, you described Senate action on the FISA
Amendments Act of 2008, stating:
"We had a bill go into the Senate. It was debated vigorously. There were some who said we shouldn't have an Intelligence
Community. Some have that point of view. Some say the President of the United States violated the process, spied on Americans,
should be impeached and should go to jail. I mean, this is democracy, you can say anything you want to say. That was the
argument made. The vote was 68 to 29."
As you correctly noted, the bill was the subject of vigorous debate. Many members of the Senate expressed serious concerns
about the lack of checks and balances included in the legislation and the potential impact of the new authorities on the privacy
and civil liberties of Americans. Many Senators were also concerned that retroactive immunity for companies alleged to have
cooperated with the President's warrantless wiretapping program would undermine the rule of law.
However, I am not aware of any Senator saying or suggesting that "we shouldn't have an Intelligence Community" or that
President Bush "should be impeached and should go to jail." I would therefore appreciate your providing a list of all statements
made by Senators during the debate that you believe support these assertions. If there are no such examples, you should issue
an immediate correction and an apology.
While all sides of this debate deserve to be heard, to falsely attribute statements to United States Senators serves only to mislead
the American people. It also undermines your credibility and that of the position of Director of National Intelligence.
Russell D. Feingold
Bingo. Bravo Senator Feingold. Bravo.
|Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 8h 18m 22s|
Abandoned houses in suburban America
This is from the Chicago Tribune, but I read about it at the bigpicture blog.
The local market conditions are what seems to determine the abandonment decision. In a region where the job and real estate
market is doing anything better than "a little soft," I would surmise that abandonment makes no sense at all.
However, at a certain point, in a weaker region, with declining neighborhoods, certain lenders might make the decision to simply
walkaway from a large swath of (potential) real estate holdings, on the simple basis that it might be cheaper to do so.
There are very significant costs to this. Consider what the potential impact of these property abandonments by the lender means:
- Total write off of the loan;
- Boarded up homes / neighborhoods;
- Loss of tax revenue to the local school district or town;
- Long delays before the local town, municipality, or state can take possession due to tax arrears.
Thus, these incomplete foreclosures/abandonments can have very significant impacts.
If this becomes widespread, we could be in the process of creating an entire new universe of suburban slums . . .
This happened in New Orleans during the 1990's, after first the oil bust in the 80's and then the slow trickle of shipping and
warehousing activity due to NAFTA. At one point, 40% of all houses were abandoned.
But slums are fine with the rich elites that run the financial sector. They don't live there.
|Sunday, 6 April 2008 at 7h 57m 0s|
Tom Toles cartoon
I love Tom Toles.
When the elites break the law, they get 6 month furloughs at Federal prisons, or they pay a fine and get to keep 90% of the illegal
proceeds. When everyone breaks the law, we lose everything and got locked up with rapists and murders for years.
Keep watching cops 911, so you can maintain your skewed perspective about Justice.
|Saturday, 5 April 2008 at 18h 57m 45s|
Absolutely incredible. I'm watching this baseball game between the Angels and the Rangers, and then
suddenly, a graphic comes on the screen while the announcer states the caption. The Armed Forces
Network is broadcasting the game to our forces in 177 countries across the globe.
Did you catch that? This was on the FSN West (Fox Sports Network) but it really did not matter what
network. Proudly boasting that we have our troops stationed in 177 countries who get to watch a
baseball game back in the homeland. Need I say more.
We are an empire, and we don't even realize we are an empire. This baseball game is a cultural event
for troops stationed in 177 foreign lands. Just like British folk Eating Mutton stew in the middle
of Shanghai listening to Mozart.
But the American empire is different than the British version, which openly acknowledged and
proclaimed the British sovereignty. The navigation of the world's seas during the time period
before 1800 was European, and the British navy was essentially the policeman of the waters for
European commerce. Today the world's commerce is more widely dispersed: from Korea, to Japan,
China, and India, to Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, and Morocco.
To say America has replaced the function of the British Navy is a current historical question. Our
navy is certainly unparalleled across the entire globe. No other national naval force even comes
close, except that Russia has probably an equal number of submarines. Most of the 177 bases in 177
countries are really just air or naval bases, however, the presence is nonetheless involved and
interwined in the local foreign politics.
How many nations does the United States allow to keep full-time military personnel within the
borders of the United States?
Zero. Enough said.
|Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 8h 30m 7s|
Paul Krugman on the myth of a Social Security crisis
Social Security is a government program supported by a dedicated tax, like highway maintenance. Now you can say that
assigning a particular tax to a particular program is merely a fiction, but in fact such assignments have both legal and political
force. If Ronald Reagan had said, back in the 1980s, ďLetís increase a regressive tax that falls mainly on the working class, while
cutting taxes that fall mainly on much richer people,Ē he would have faced a political firestorm. But because the increase in the
regressive payroll tax was recommended by the Greenspan Commission to support Social Security, it was politically in a different
box - you might even call it a lockbox - from Reaganís tax cuts.
The purpose of that tax increase was to maintain the dedicated tax system into the future, by having Social Securityís assigned
tax take in more money than the system paid out while the baby boomers were still working, then use the trust fund built up by
those surpluses to pay future bills. Viewed in its own terms, that strategy was highly successful.
The date at which the trust fund will run out, according to Social Security Administration projections, has receded steadily into
the future: 10 years ago it was 2029, now itís 2042. As Kevin Drum, Brad DeLong, and others have pointed out, the SSA
estimates are very conservative, and quite moderate projections of economic growth push the exhaustion date into the indefinite
But the privatizers wonít take yes for an answer when it comes to the sustainability of Social Security. Their answer to the pretty
good numbers is to say that the trust fund is meaningless, because itís invested in U.S. government bonds. They arenít really
saying that government bonds are worthless; their point is that the whole notion of a separate budget for Social Security is a
fiction. And if thatís true, the idea that one part of the government can have a positive trust fund while the government as a
whole is in debt does become strange.
But there are two problems with their position.
The lesser problem is that if you say that there is no link between the payroll tax and future Social Security benefits - which is
what denying the reality of the trust fund amounts to - then Greenspan and company pulled a fast one back in the 1980s: they
sold a regressive tax switch, raising taxes on workers while cutting them on the wealthy, on false pretenses. More broadly, weíre
breaking a major promise if we now, after 20 years of high payroll taxes to pay for Social Securityís future, declare that it was all
a little joke on the public.
The bigger problem for those who want to see a crisis in Social Securityís future is this: if Social Security is just part of the federal
budget, with no budget or trust fund of its own, then, well, itís just part of the federal budget: there canít be a Social Security
crisis. All you can have is a general budget crisis. Rising Social Security benefit payments might be one reason for that crisis, but
itís hard to make the case that it will be central.
But those who insist that we face a Social Security crisis want to have it both ways. Having invoked the concept of a unified
budget to reject the existence of a trust fund, they refuse to accept the implications of that unified budget going forward.
Instead, having changed the rules to make the trust fund meaningless, they want to change the rules back around 15 years from
now: today, when the payroll tax takes in more revenue than SS benefits, they say thatís meaningless, but when - in 2018 or later
- benefits start to exceed the payroll tax, why, thatís a crisis. Huh?
I donít know why this contradiction is so hard to understand, except to echo Upton Sinclair: itís hard to get a man to understand
something when his salary (or, in the current situation, his membership in the political club) depends on his not understanding
it. But let me try this one more time, by asking the following: What happens in 2018 or whenever, when benefits payments
exceed payroll tax revenues?
The answer, very clearly, is nothing.
The Social Security system wonít be in trouble: it will, in fact, still have a growing trust fund, because of the interest that the
trust earns on its accumulated surplus. The only way Social Security gets in trouble is if Congress votes not to honor U.S.
government bonds held by Social Security. Thatís not going to happen. So legally, mechanically, 2018 has no meaning.
Now itís true that rising benefit costs will be a drag on the federal budget. So will rising Medicare costs. So will the ongoing
drain from tax cuts. So will whatever wars we get into. I canít find a story under which Social Security payments, as opposed to
other things, become a crucial budgetary problem in 2018.
What we really have is a looming crisis in the General Fund. Social Security, with its own dedicated tax, has been run responsibly;
the rest of the government has not. So why are we talking about a Social Security crisis?
There is no social security crisis. There are a bunch of idiosyncratic, desperate elitists who want to destroy the government by
the people, and creating a financial crisis enables them to "get government down to the point where you can flush it down the
toilet." Rule by spoiled rich trust fund babies and their sycophants is preferable to the collective wisdom of a voting public.
These conservatives don't want to conserve the accumulated historical bureaucracy of the government. They want to tear it down
and build offices for lobbyists and public relations firms.
|Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 8h 10m 58s|
The Republican scandal you didn't hear about
Especially when there are prostitutes involving a Governor of New York. Stealing money from the Republican National Committee
by a man who was put in the position in 1995 is minor when the Democratic Governor gets busted putting his dilly in the wrong
place and paying for sex with high society hooker.
Christopher Ward, the National Republican Congressional Committee's longtime treasurer, was fired in January after committee
officials learned that he had been making unauthorized fund transfers dating to 2004, said Rep. Tom Cole, the committee's
"Based on analysis conducted to date, it appears likely that over a period of several years Ward made several hundred thousand
dollars in unauthorized transfers of NRCC funds to outside committees whose bank accounts he had access to, including joint
fund-raising committees in which the NRCC participated," Cole said in a written statement.
"He also appears to have made subsequent transfers of several hundred thousand dollars in funds from those outside committees
to what appear to be his personal and business bank accounts."
[SOURCE:†Brian Todd and Dugald McConnel†|†CNN†|†14
If this would have been the Democratic National Committee, the press would have been all over it. But it's the corrupt
Republicans and so the story dies on a windy Friday afternoon.
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 8h 28m 47s|
Of course we will disperse those checks we promised
But after 2+ years, tens of thousands of New Orleanian homeowners are still waiting for the company contracted to
checks to actually do so. Even while the company is making profits, their Public Relations officials whine about sifting through
150,000 applications and about inefficient personnel.
Click here for the MSNBC story.
One individual, according the above article: ~~ Adam Knapp, deputy director of the LRA, said bad publicity ultimately will spur
ICF to better perform. ďTheir stock will rise and fall on their delivery here,Ē Knapp said ~~
What does bad publicity have to do with the ability of government contractors to exploit their niche and profit off of the tax-payers?
Has bad publicity changed Halliburton and the cost-overruns of General Dynamics? $2000 screw-drivers and $50 toilet paper didn't
go away because MSNBC did a few stories in between the garbage they normally spew about Brittany and Paris Hilton.
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 7h 54m 2s|
How about this for apartment living
Hat tip to bigpicture
|Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 22h 29m 3s|
World War Three
Kicks off by the invasion of
Ecuador by the
dictatorial corrupt, death-squad loving
By the way we give $500 million a year to support the Columbian Army as aid in their fight
They find laptops on the "terrorists" after they blow them away with Uranium shipments on it.
Huhn? How could they have cracked the initial user/password screens so quickly? Sounds like more
yellowcake from Niger to me.
We can't buy this lie again.
Meanwhile Venezuela sends troops and tanks to the border.
Do a google on "Columbia Ecuador"? Notice the News Alert at the top.
Here is a fair story on the situation from Salem, Oregon.
|Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 19h 36m 5s|
While listening to the radio
I am listening to this radio call-in talk show, called Clout, where the host Richard Greene
excellent job of letting all kinds of people come on the show and talk about what they think and
want to say. Congrats Richard.
This guy comes on ranting and raving about how Hillary didn't mean anything about this and that,
and then so what, because Obama needs to toughen up and wise up, and that he is so sick of
constantly hearing everyone tell Hillary to quit, like she is gonna break the party, and blah,
blah. Richard allowed Brent Budowsky comment, and then let the man have his say, and back and
forth. Brent was very judicious and warm in his statements. This man appeared to not hear a
damn thing anyone else was saying. All he did was complain, while heatedly trying to convince
everyone that Hillary is the one to trust, because no matter what, "we can't let another Republican
take the Presidency in 2008."
Everyone agrees with that last statement. But it is commpletely disconnected with everything else
the man tried to say. Even when Richard and Brent 120% agreed with him, it wasn't enough. It become
obvious after 5 minutes, when Richard politely moved on to another caller. Then I got to
thinking. Maybe that man was paid to act that way. Maybe the whole point was to try to inflame
listeners of the radio show with some contrived thought process. It explains a whole lot.
That's what television and corporate media are. They disperse ways of thinking that permit weak
minded people to cheerlead and hold beliefs that are anti-thetical to their existence.
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