frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.



Check out my old  Voice of the People page.


Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

jonsdarc@mindspring.com




Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington



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Tuesday, 22 March 2005 at 22h 24m 36s

Newsmax is proud of its propaganda

If anyone out there bothers to look at newsmax.com and get their news from that source, I have good reasons why you should stop doing so.

Newsmax doesn't bother to list their sources of information. You see a lot of print, with headlines and "breaking news" items, but where (as in what newspapers or news sources) do these items come from if you wanted to know. You are told they come from "Newsmax.com wires" -- as if that is something special. It just means the same ap-upi wire that everyone else is hooked up too. Of course, at the bottom of articles you read "© 2005 Associated Press" -- which means they copied it or got it from somewhere else -- but where? And who? Who wrote the article? It wasn't "Newsmax.com wires" ?

No. It was someone newsmax hasn't bothered to tell you because they might selectively edit and doctor up the news they get from the ap-upi news wire, as some news outlets will do. The difference is that real newspapers at least tell you who wrote the story. Newsmax does not even bother.

For example, on newsmax today, you get this story : Link. Here is the headline.


Schiavo's Parents Appeal Judge's Ruling
NewsMax.com Wires
Tuesday, March 22, 2005



The story is out of Tampa, Florida, but no mention who wrote the story.

In order to find this out, I took part of a sentence out of the article and put it into quotes in the google bar. The phrase I used was Gov. Jeb Bush was described by a spokeswoman as "extremely disappointed and saddened" by the federal judge's decision not to order the tube reconnected.

Google dutifully came back and voila.

-- (yaaaa) --

The original story as printed in the San Diego Tribune was written by Vickie Chachere.

Notice that the San Diego newspaper gives you the author, Vickie Chachere, whereas Newsmax did not.

This is a story printed in the San Diego Tribune by reporter Vickie Chachere, not from the spectacularly audacious and apparently omnipresent newsmax wires.

But there is worse than this. Much worse. You also get stories that have no sources whatsoever. Stories that are ludicrous and obviously politically motivated (eck-em ... can you say partisan motivated propaganda ...)

For instance, in the same newsmax edition above (today's edition), you get the following headline.

Abu Ghraib Dems Mum on Terri

Oh, my, god. Are we actually equating torturing and killing prisoners rounded up by the military with the 7 year court litigation over removing a feeding tube from a women medically labeled as having a "persistent vegetative state" ? This is a decision to be made by the family, and family disputes are to be handled by the state courts. This is why the Supreme Court and the Federal Appeals will not take this case, and why the Appeals courts have supported the state court's findings.

And notice how that Abu Ghraib tag is put on the Dems who dared mention it, and -- gasp -- embarrass the nation with the truth.

And these sick, depraved, morally repulsive fiends are exploiting this family's trauma so they can remove the news from their own horrific mound of corruption, and come out on the moral highground.

And what about that little BLACK baby in Texas whose tube was pulled against the mother's wishes because the mother could not pay the hospital? And what about George Bush signing the law that allowed the hospital to pull the plug if the patient can no longer pay?

Go ahead. Read here about the little BLACK baby. Read here about the law George Bush signed, because hospital corporations wanted him to.

NEWSFLASH: the 2ND link above has been moved to the archives by the Houston Chronicle. A link to an RTF file is here. And if you don't want to register to the Dallas Morning News on the first link, an RTF file of the BLACK baby is provided here.

Amazing, the Re-thuglicans won't all stand firm on the right of a little Black Baby, but instead choose this 42 year white woman upon which to grand-stand and distract.

And 60% of all the American's wounded in Iraq, have head related injuries. Further, every single one of the wounded hooked up to a machine , had their plug pulled. Yup. Wonder where our fearless Congress members are on this issue? Look it up yourself. Use google.

And of all the vacations George Bush has ever had -- including the August memo of 2001 that he apparently got over the phone -- it was for Mrs. Schiavo that he decided to cut short a vacation. Yep, that's right. It's the only one.

Damn hypocrites.

This is a partisan driven political circus to direct the public view away from the massive corruption of the Republican Party and the Bush administration.

But I digress. The enlightening story of the Abu Ghraib Dems goes further. Here is the gist of the imbecilic accusations which completely embolden the piece.

Liberal Democrats who were beside themselves with rage over what they called the "torture" of terrorist suspects by GI guards at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison have been totally silent on the starvation torture of Terri Schiavo.

As the prison abuse scandal unfolded last May, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton could barely contain herself, calling the actions of U.S. soldiers "depraved." ...

On the starvation torture of Terri Schiavo, however, Sen. Clinton's reaction has been muted. On the day Schiavo's feeding tube was removed, for instance, Clinton said ... well, nothing. And she's been silent ever since. ...

Sen. Ted Kennedy was outraged by the Abu Ghraib scandal, calling it America's "greatest fall from grace." "Who gave the green light for the violations of the Geneva Convention?" Kennedy demanded.

But on Terri Schiavo, the Democrats' foremost defender of young women has been, you guessed it, completely silent.



Do you get it? Shame on those Democrats who won't stand up for the right of this one woman to live into a ripe old age, but feel free to protest the rampant willful violations of the Geneva Convention.

Why is this unsourced piece highlighted as a "news of the day" menu item on the left of the main page?

You know why.

----

Want some more? When you go to newsmax.com's self-styled "America's news page" you get a column on the left with items pointed to by red triangles called "Inside Cover." Here are today's items:

1.) Arnold's War Chest Draws Scrutiny
2.) Justice Dept. Defends Satanism, Wicca
3.) Celebrities Plead for Terri's Life
4.) Former Nurse Accuses Michael Schiavo
5.) Schwarzenegger Wants to Block Libel Suit
6.) Doctor: Terri Can Recover
7.) Santorum: Terri Ruling Defied Congress
8.) Abu Ghraib Dems Mum on Terri
9.) Jeb Bush Upset; Wants to Protect Terri
10.) Calif. Sheriffs Back Jerry Brown for Top Cop
11.) Judge Whittemore Denies Terri
12.) Korea's Kim Jong-il's Mistress in Japan
13.) Giuliani Eyeing N.Y. Gov. Race
14.) Stern Plans Farewell Blast
15.) Camilla Parker Bowles Can Be Queen
16.) Dean to Dems: 'Keep It Simple'


These are the 16 important items of the day! Nothing about Iraq or Social Security or Medicare, which are more immediate pressing issues of the day. Fully 7 of the 16 are in some way related to the Terri Schiavo fiasco. Celebrities plead for Terri's life -- former nurse accuses Michael Schiavo -- Doctor: Terri Can recover -- Santorum: Terri Ruling Defied Congress -- Abu Ghraib Dems Mum on Terri -- Jeb Bush Upset; Wants to Protect Terri -- Judge Whittemore Denies Terri

That Doctor doesn't know his ass. Did he look at the CAT scans that indicated brain death? She is not going to come back by any known standard of medical science. Isn't it a shame how some people lie for political reasons?

Uh oh, Santorum is upset because a judge "Defied" him. But what Congress did was breech the separation of powers. If Congress could just step in and force a ruling over any case that went through the channels of years of litigation, rulings, hearings, precident cases, and judicial decisions, when does this end? What Congress just did was unconstitutional, and the judge was not so much defying Santorum, as he was reprimanding him.What country can have an independent judicial system when the Congress can stop or anoll any decisions for partisan reasons?

Notice how this organization posts names to keep them in mind. We are reminded of Giuliani, Schwarzeneger, Santorum, Jerry Brown, and Jeb Bush. The weakest of the bunch is the headline which tells us that Giuliani is "eyeing" the governors race that he would lose hands down if he entered the race. New Yorker's know Giuliani's autocratic, deficit spending, wife-cheating-then-divoricing, hypocritical butt.

We are told that Dean's simple advice is to "Keep it Simple." Goto that link, and here is what you find.

Newly ordained Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who lost his own bid for the White House last year despite an early lead, thinks he has a plan for his party to regain the Oval Office in 2008 and beyond.

His advice? "Keep it simple" so Americans will realize that they really prefer the Democrats to the Republicans.

The Toronto Star reports that Dean, in a message to supporters on Sunday, described Republicans as "brain dead," but said eventual Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts lost to President Bush because party leaders and representatives have a "tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail."

Dean, in Toronto to address 150 members of the group Democrats Abroad – formed in 1964 to register Americans living out of the country to vote as Democrats – warned, "I'm going to be very disciplined about how we deliver messages." According to the Star, the one-time Vermont governor added: "We can have policy deliberations in rooms like this. On TV, we have to be very focused." Republicans, meanwhile, have managed to hone their message expertly, Dean said, noting that his party needs to learn that skill. "The Democrats will have three things, maybe four, that we're going to talk about," he said, according to the paper.

The message seemed similar to one he delivered last month when seeking the DNC's chairmanship.

"The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions," he said then. "We must say what we mean — and mean real change when we say it."

And while Dean has called for an end to the "consultant culture" – scores of paid advisers who, he says, gave conflicting and confusing advice to Kerry last year – others say the reason the Democrats lost the White House and more seats in Congress is because their messages aren't resonating with voters. They say most people do not agree with Democrats' positions on social, moral and cultural issues especially.

But Dean sees it differently.

"The majority is on our side," he told the Toronto gathering. "We need to figure out how to talk differently about these issues."

Perhaps Dean missed the election results, which seemed to prove that the majority of Americans were on the side of the Republicans.



This is said to come from the Toronto Star, and is highlighted by comments from an unknown author. Again the author of the original piece is not given to us by Newsmax.com.

Except at the top, where you read "With Carl Limbacher and NewsMax.com Staff For the story behind the story... ". This is the only mention about the purveyors of the ad-libs to the original story that is still unsourced, the services of which they refer to as "the story behind the story." That is goobledy-gook for "what they do to the original story that makes it different from the original story."

Especially that last line. The majority of Americans means more than 50%. Only 56% of America voted, and barely 51% were said to have voted for Bush. 51% of 56% is 23.56% which is far, far below the 50% majority. This doesn't seem to proof anything.

And where the hell did this phrase come from? -- others say the reason the Democrats lost the White House and more seats in Congress is because their messages aren't resonating with voters. They say most people do not agree with Democrats' positions on social, moral and cultural issues especially.

This is not in the original story (see below.) Who are these "others" used as a credible source to make the further statement about "most people" not agreeing?

After googling with many phrases, I still cannot find a match. Even the phrase "But Dean sees it differently" shows up on MSUreporter, but is about a head coach named Dean Bowyers, not Howard Dean

So to the phrase "scores of paid advisers who, he says, gave conflicting and confusing advice to Kerry last year. "

All of this hints that the above story did not come from the Toronto Star at all. The comments taken out of context were probably lifted from some Toronto Star story, but the story is not from the Toronto Star. The reader however, might think otherwise -- which is the point. By this method, Mr. Limbacher and his gang are able to lend credulity to this opinion piece.

So what is this opinion (biased or not) doing listed as if it was news?

That's the point -- the blurring of news with opinion is deliberate.

Here is the original story by reporter Peter Gorrie, written Mar 20, 2005. Here's the link.

Notice the abject utter difference in tone, the quotes chosen, their placement, and the way certain historical facts (like the hype of the bogus scream) are used to report this event.

And furthermore!!!!! Notice the snipets of this article that are used in the above Newsmax.com posting, and discover the insidiousness of Newsmax.com as concerns the spewing of propaganda.

Spreading the message
PETER GORRIE
STAFF REPORTER

"Keep it simple" is the key to the White House, failed Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean told members of his party from around the world last night.

One major reason his party lost the 2004 race to the "brain-dead" Republicans is that it has a "tendency to explain every issue in half an hour of detail," Dean told the semi-annual meeting of Democrats Abroad, which brought about 150 members from Canada and 30 other countries to the Toronto for two days.

"I'm going to be very disciplined about how we deliver messages. We can have policy deliberations in rooms like this. On TV, we have to be very focused." The Democrats, in fact, will try to copy the Republicans, who are masters at making their message stick, he said. "The Democrats will have three things, maybe four, that we're going to talk about."

Dean's party is struggling to recover from the Nov. 2 American election, in which George W. Bush's team not only won the White House but also took firm control of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Last month, Dean, 56, was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a powerful 440-member group that plans presidential nominating conventions, takes in most donations, and promotes the party and its candidates.

John McQueen, the Democrats' international campaign chair, has called that result "the most significant change in party leadership in more than a generation."

Dean won the job by acclamation, even though the party establishment, its congressional wing and many big donors and unions initially opposed him. It was, said delegates to yesterday's meeting, a triumph of the grassroots. Dean built up enough support that party insiders had to bow to the inevitable. Dean's presidential campaign was propelled by Web communications. And he's promoting a "bottom-up" Internet-connected party, run by state organizations rather than the centre. He has called for an end to the "consultant culture" — the legions of paid advisers employed by defeated candidate John Kerry that, critics complain, confused the candidate's thinking and messages.

Dean was the early front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination but bowed out after losing several primaries.

A major blow was coverage of his so-called "I have a scream" speech, after he finished a poor third in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 19, 2004.

In an effort to rally disappointed but noisy supporters in Des Moines, he rattled off the names of the next 13 battleground states. Followed by: "And then we're going to Washington, D.C. To take back the White House." Followed by: "YEAHHHH!!!" — a shout that was amplified by his hand-held microphone, replayed by the media hundreds of times, and became the butt of jokes, both unkind and kind.

The shrill was gone in yesterday's speech, but Dean appeared relaxed and enthusiastic. Party members treated him like a star and gave him three long standing ovations.

An example of the party's new discipline is its current focus on Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, said Dean, who was governor of Vermont for 10 years before quitting in 2002 to run for president.

The Democrats won't be distracted by other issues, "as long as we're kicking the living daylights out of them on Social Security."

"The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions," he said when he announced his bid to become party chair. "We must say what we mean — and mean real change when we say it."

While Dean wants focused policies, he acknowledged some issues aren't clear-cut and his party must work hard to come up with effective messages.

It will be difficult to win over the many Americans who appear to disagree with Democratic policies on social and moral issues, such as abortion, he said. "The majority is on our side. We need to figure out how to talk differently about these issues."

And he said he hasn't made a lot of noise about Iraq, even though he opposed the U.S. invasion that was launched two years ago yesterday, because "we're there" and "the price of not succeeding is going to be enormous for America and for Iraq's neighbours."

Democrats Abroad, founded in 1964, has about 20,000 members in 45 countries, including 5,000 in Canada.

It was established to encourage the 7 million American citizens living outside the United States to register to vote as Democrats.

It claims to have registered more than 250,000 voters worldwide, including 35,000 in Canada, in 2004. Its goal is 1 million registrations next year and 2 million for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.



So. Are you ever gonna trust Newsmax.com to filter your news for you. This is the so-called, story behind the story.

I rest my case, on the ground where of course a few people might still kick it. There are always a few resolute morons who like to show the world how stubbornly insistent and superior they are by slamming their fist into a wall, or kicking a telephone pole.

Go for it, fool.


Friday, 18 March 2005 at 9h 52m 32s

The Wolf comes to the bank

You may not know what the World Bank is. George Bush recently appointed Paul Wolfowitz to be the Head of the World Bank.

Now the World bank is really the United States Bank because almost all of the funds are from the United States, which is why the President gets to nominate the head of this bank.

But you may not know what this bank does. This is the bank which lends funds to third world nations when they need to finance their government spending or need to build infrastructure. The history of this bank's investments include huge dams and nuclear reactors and housing developments mainly in order to support, supplement, and subsidize various corporate involvement in the background. The loans by this bank to third world governments get spent on contracts provided by certain corporations, or are meant to supplement ancillary corporate enterprises ... such as the Indonesian roads that aided the investments of Exxon in their Indonesian business enterprises.

But I must defer to someone else when it comes to this Wolfowitz appointment to the World Bank. I bring you,
... Joe Conason.



Head scratcher Bush cites Wolfowitz's Pentagon experience in choosing him to head the World Bank. Considering his atrocious track record at Defense, the Bank should get ready for an epidemic of waste, fraud and corruption.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Joe Conason
March 18, 2005 | Taken at face value, the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz to run the World Bank is mystifying. The sudden elevation of the controversial deputy secretary of defense has elicited both cynical speculation and naive rumination. Is President Bush using the world's most important antipoverty position as a patronage plum, to reward a loyal servant in the typical manner of the Bush dynasty? Is Bush emphasizing his contempt for critics here and abroad, as the dismayed Europeans suspect? Or is he seeking, as a New York Times analysis suggested, to change the direction of global development financing with "stern discipline"?

As a disciplinarian, Wolfowitz has certainly left a strong impression on the Iraqis, whose lives and infrastructure have been sacrificed to his determination to oust Saddam Hussein by military force. And the former diplomat clearly knows how to enforce his will in bureaucratic disputes, as he demonstrated during the prelude to the invasion of Iraq.

In announcing the appointment, Bush himself insisted that Wolfowitz is the best choice to take over the World Bank because he's a "man of compassion" who "believes deeply" in uplifting the world's poor. Yet there is precious little evidence to support that assertion (and plenty to contradict it). As for Wolfowitz's actual qualifications, which many experts have questioned, the president cited his appointee's recent experience at the Department of Defense, "managing the largest U.S. government agency with over 1.3 million uniformed personnel and nearly 700,000 civilian employees around the world." Evidently none of Bush's White House briefers has ever mentioned just how badly Wolfowitz and his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, have managed that big old agency. The president also seems to have forgotten how Rummy and Wolfie decided to ignore the State Department's planning for post-invasion Iraq; how they brushed aside the Army's warnings about the need for many more troops to secure the country; how they permitted or even encouraged the ongoing scandal of detainee torture; and how they lost track of the most important weapons sites, which were the supposed reason to go to war, and allowed them to be looted.

The indisputable fact is that the Pentagon's civilian leaders, an arrogant clique of ideologues, provided no viable plan for securing and rebuilding Iraq after the invasion. Against the advice of wiser and more knowledgeable officials, Wolfowitz insisted that his own vision would be realized. Surely our soldiers would be greeted as liberators, our favorite exiles would assume power in Baghdad, and our expenses would be paid by oil revenues. The deputy defense secretary couldn't imagine any other scenario and dismissed anyone who did.

Since that inauspicious beginning, Wolfowitz's management capacity has not improved much.

For a would-be banker, he has allowed rather huge sums of money to be squandered both at home and in Iraq. During Wolfowitz's tenure, auditors from the Government Accountability Office have repeatedly found the Defense Department lagging behind other major agencies in management and fiscal responsibility. Last year, the GAO complained of its inability to issue a clean audit of the entire federal budget because of "serious financial management problems" at the Department of Defense.

Two months ago the GAO again singled out the Pentagon for harsh criticism, reporting that it operates eight of the 25 worst-run government programs. Comptroller General David Walker said that the cost is reckoned "in billions of dollars in waste each year and inadequate accountability to the Congress and the American taxpayer." The failures, which have persisted for many years, relate to financial and contract management, the operation of military infrastructure, and the modernization of Pentagon information technology -- which, in short, are a total mess.

Pentagon traditions of boodling and bungling have been replicated in Iraq, where they have intensified the misery of the country's inhabitants and encouraged the murderous insurgency. According to an audit by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction that was released in late January, the Coalition Provisional Authority lost track of nearly $9 billion in spending over the past two years. (Of course, the official directly responsible for this fiasco, former CPA chief L. Paul Bremer, is now wearing the Medal of Freedom that the president pinned on him last fall.) And thanks to the incompetence and carelessness of Iraq's U.S. overseers, far more is likely to be lost as a result of waste, fraud and corruption.

A newly released report from Transparency International, the Berlin-based organization that monitors corrupt practices around the world, warns that Iraqi contracting may soon become "the biggest corruption scandal in history." The group blames the United States for providing "a poor role model" in contracting and auditing. (They've likely heard about Halliburton. )

Waste, fraud and corruption, those perennial government buzzwords, are indeed the most pressing problems for the World Bank as it seeks to reform development aid. So it is difficult to understand why the president -- or any truly compassionate conservative -- would entrust those enormous concerns to someone with Wolfowitz's grim and blemished record.


If that wasn't enough, you can consult David Corn's opinion. Use the following link.


Thursday, 17 March 2005 at 21h 23m 26s

Oh, those whining libr'uls

Don't look now, but our fearless legislatures are coming on hard and strong against ... steriods and husbands who want to pull the plug on their machine fed wife.

Tom Delay mingling corporate donations to a children's fund with election year funds ... nah, that will wait.
Dennis Hastert and Tom Delay bribing legislators on the floor of Congress ... oh, no step back, that's too hot.
Halliburton charging 127 million dollars to deliver 5 million dollars of fuel ... yikes, egads, oh dearie me, no.
Dick Cheney receiving more back funds from Halliburton per year than he is paid as Vice Pres ... oh my, nope, let's keep that one quiet.

Eck-hum ... MICHAEL JACKSON ... MICHAEL JACKSON .

Bush holding fake town meetings with rehearsed-staged questions ... say huhn, that can't be true
Bush administration fake news tapes paid for with taxpayer dollars ... quick, blame it on the irresponsible media.
Hundreds of election irregularities on Electronic voting machines in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and New Mexico, all of which were errors in Bushes favor ... no, that can't be, computers wouldn't fail so one-sidedly right? What is "hacking"? Those exit polls must be wrong, even though they have never been so wildly inaccurate.
Reporters and citizens who cast questions at press conferences -- why they must be hecklers of course? Hmm, hecklers who ask coherent, thoughtful questions that have nouns, verbs, and supporting clauses. They certainly deserved to be escorted out by security.

And peaceful protests?



YES I'M SERIOUS.

But don't worry, cause freedom is on the march. That's why the Iraqi Congress elected by slightly less than 50% of the iraqi people can't meet to decide on how to make a constitution. What's the big deal? Brehmer already wrote one for them
And everyone knows that the WMD moved somewhere else, even though every single commission appointed and sent by the Bush admistration all stated vehemently that there never were any weapons of mass destruction.

Personally, I'd rather believe pill-head Limbaugh and sexual harraser O'Reilly. They have more know-how and expertise from their leather chairs than anyone with a stat sheet, a ton of documents, and thorough on the ground observation. That freak Scott Ritter was wrong, even though everything he said was true. But don't worry, ole Scott Ritter won't get any media interviews.

Oh, our troops will start leaving as soon as there are enough Iraqi troops trained. But the Bush administration can't explain the major discrepancy between the trainees who actually show up and those whose names are on a list. This is like having a class of 35 students in which only 5 ever show up.
And what's the deal with those critics who say that Homeland Security spends all it's funds on commercials and info-mercials that remind the people why they have to be scared and prepared to meet the big bad terrorists. And those statistics about the administration cutting the funds for local police by 80% are just plain misinterpreted, because surely the same administration which allows Halliburton to defraud the government must only be cutting the fat out of the first-responder budget.

You libr'uls are absolutely nuts. Don't you know that steroids and Michael Jackson are the most important issues facing America today?


Tuesday, 15 March 2005 at 18h 57m 15s

Re: The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

A bipartisan group of Bankruptcy Law professors got together and wrote a letter pleading with Congress not to pass the bankruptcy bill. Here's what they wrote. Notice the specificity of the reasoning AND the list of sources.

How come we can't get the same specificity and reasoning from the average congressperson? Instead we get the froth and hyperbole from the comments on the television nightly news.

Source:Link

We are professors of bankruptcy and commercial law. We are writing with regard to The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 685/S. 256)(the “bill”). We have been following the bankruptcy reform process for the last eight years with keen interest. The 110 undersigned professors come from every region of the country and from all major political parties. We are not members of a partisan, organized group. Our exclusive interest is to seek the enactment of a fair, just and efficient bankruptcy law. Many of us have written before to express our concerns about earlier versions of this legislation, and we write again as yet another version of the bill comes before you. The bill is deeply flawed, and will harm small businesses, the elderly, and families with children. We hope the House of Representatives will not act on it.

It is a stark fact that the bankruptcy filing rate has slightly more than doubled during the last decade, and that last year approximately 1.6 million households filed for bankruptcy. The bill’s sponsors view this increase as a product of abuse of bankruptcy by people who would otherwise be in a position to pay their debts. Bankruptcy, the bill’s sponsor says, has become a system “where deadbeats can get out of paying their debt scott-free while honest Americans who play by the rules have to foot the bill.”

We disagree. The bankruptcy filing rate is a symptom. It is not the disease. Some people do abuse the bankruptcy system, but the overwhelming majority of people in bankruptcy are in financial distress as a result of job loss, medical expense, divorce, or a combination of those causes. In our view, the fundamental change over the last ten years has been the way that credit is marketed to consumers. Credit card lenders have become more aggressive in marketing their products, and a large, very profitable, market has emerged in subprime lending. Increased risk is part of the business model. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that as credit is extended to riskier and riskier borrowers, a greater number default when faced with a financial reversal. Nonetheless, consumer lending remains highly profitable, even under current law. The ability to file for bankruptcy and to receive a fresh start provides crucial aid to families overwhelmed by financial problems. Through the use of a cumbersome, and procrustean means-test, along with dozens of other measures aimed at “abuse prevention,” this bill seeks to shoot a mosquito with a shotgun. By focusing on the opportunistic use of the bankruptcy system by relatively few “deadbeats” rather than fashioning a tailored remedy, this bill would cripple an already overburdened system.

The Means-test
The principal mechanism aimed at the bankruptcy filing rate is the so called “meanstest,” which denies access to Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy to those debtors who are deemed “able” to repay their debts. The bill’s sponsor describes the test as a “flexible . . . test to assess an individual's ability to repay his debts,” and as a remedy to “irresponsible consumerism and lax bankruptcy law.” While the stated concept is fine – people who can repay their debts should do so – the particular mechanism proposed is unnecessary, over-inclusive, painfully inflexible, and costly in both financial terms and judicial resources.

• First, the new law is unnecessary. Existing section 707(b) already allows a bankruptcy judge, upon her own motion or the motion of the United States Trustee, to deny a debtor a discharge in Chapter 7 to prevent a “substantial abuse.” Courts have not hesitated to deny discharges where Chapter 7 was being used to preserve a well-to-do lifestyle,3 and the United States Trustee’s office has already taken it upon itself to object to discharge when, in its view, the debtor has the ability to repay a substantial portion of his or her debts.

• Second, the new means-test is over-inclusive. Because it is based on income and expense standards devised by the Internal Revenue Service to deal with tax cheats, the principal effect of the “means-test” would be to replace a judicially supervised, flexible process for ferreting out abusive filings with a cumbersome, inflexible standard that can be used by creditors to impose costs on overburdened families, and deprive them of access to a bankruptcy discharge. Any time middle-income debtors have $100/month more income than the IRS would allow a delinquent taxpayer to keep, they must submit themselves to a 60 month repayment plan. Such a plan would yield a mere $6000 for creditors over five years, less costs of government-sponsored administration.

• Third, to give just one example of its inflexibility, the means-test limits private or parochial school tuition expenses to $1500 per year. According to a study by the National Center for Educational Statistics, even in 1993, $1500 would not have covered the average tuition for any category of parochial school (except Seventh Day Adventists and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans).4 Today it would not come close for any denomination. In order to yield a few dollars for credit card issuers, this bill would force many struggling families to take their children from private or parochial school (often in violation of deeply held religious beliefs) for three to five years in order to confirm a Chapter 13 plan.

• Fourth, the power of creditors to raise the “abuse” issue will significantly increase the number of means-test hearings. Again, the expense of the hearings will be passed along to the already strapped debtor. This will add to the cost of filing for bankruptcy, whether the filing is abusive or not. It will also swamp bankruptcy courts with lengthy and unnecessary hearings, driving up costs for the taxpayers.

• Finally, the bill takes direct aim at attorneys who handle consumer bankruptcy cases by making them liable for errors in the debtor’s schedules.

Our problem is not with means-testing per se. Our problem is with the collateral costs that this particular means-test would impose. This is not a typical means test, which acts as a gatekeeper to the system. It would instead burden the system with needless hearings, deprive debtors of access to counsel, and arbitrarily deprive families of needed relief. The human cost of this delay, expense, and exclusion from bankruptcy relief is considerable. As a recent study of medical bankruptcies shows, during the two years before bankruptcy, 45% of the debtors studied had to skip a needed doctor visit. Over 25% had utilities shut off, and nearly 20% went without food.6 If the costs of bankruptcy are higher, the privations will increase. The vast majority of individuals and families that file for bankruptcy are honest but unfortunate. The main effect of the means-test, along with the other provisions discussed below, will be to deny them access to a bankruptcy discharge.

Other Provisions That Will Deny Access to Bankruptcy Court
The means-test is not the only provision in the bill which is designed to limit access to the bankruptcy discharge. There are many others. For example:

• Sections 306 and 309 of the bill (working together) would eliminate the ability of Chapter 13 debtors to “strip down” liens on personal property, in particular their car, to the value of the collateral. As it is, many Chapter 13 debtors are unable to complete the schedule of payments provided for under their plan. These provisions significantly raise the cash payments that must be made to secured creditors under a Chapter 13 plan. This will have a whipsaw effect on many debtors, who, forced into Chapter 13 by the means- test, will not have the income necessary to confirm a plan under that Chapter. This group of debtors would be deprived of any discharge whatsoever, either in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In all cases this will reduce payments to unsecured creditors (a group which, ironically, includes many of the sponsors of this legislation).

• Section 106 of the bill would require any individual debtor to receive credit counseling from a credit counseling agency within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. While credit counseling sounds benign, recent Senate hearings with regard to the industry have led Senator Norm Coleman to describe the credit counseling industry as a network of not for profit companies linked to for-profit conglomerates. The industry is plagued with “consumer complaints about excessive fees, pressure tactics, nonexistent counseling and education, promised results that never come about, ruined credit ratings, poor service, in many cases being left in worse debt than before they initiated their debt management plan.”7 Mandatory credit counseling would place vulnerable debtors at the mercy of an industry where, according to a recent Senate investigation, many of the “counselors” are seeking to profit from the misfortune of their customers.8

• Sections 310 and 314 would significantly reduce the ability of debtors to discharge credit card debt and would reduce the scope of the fresh start, for even those debtors who are able to gain access to bankruptcy.

The cumulative effect of these provisions, and many others contained in the bill (along with the means-test) will be to deprive the victims of disease, job loss, and divorce of much needed relief.

The Elusive Bankruptcy Tax?
The bill’s proponents argue that it is good for consumers because it will reduce the socalled “bankruptcy tax.” In their view, the cost of credit card defaults is passed along to the rest of those who use credit cards, in the form of higher interest rates. As the bill’s sponsor dramatically puts it: “honest Americans who play by the rules have to foot the bill.” This argument seems logical. However, it is not supported by facts. The average interest rate charged on consumer credit cards has declined considerably over the last dozen years. More importantly, between 1992 and 1995, the spread between the credit card interest rate and the risk free sixmonth t-bill rate declined significantly, and remained basically constant through 2001.9 At the same time, the profitability of credit card issuing banks remains at near record levels.10 Thus, it would appear that hard evidence of the so-called “bankruptcy tax” is difficult to discern. That the unsupported assertion of that phenomenon should drive Congress to restrict access to the bankruptcy system, which effectuates Congress’s policies about the balance of rights of both creditors and debtors, is simply wrong.

Who Will Bear the Burden of the Means-test?
The bankruptcy filing rate is not uniform throughout the country. In Alaska, one in 171.2 households files for bankruptcy. In Utah the filing rate is one in 36.5. The states with the ten highest bankruptcy filing rates are (in descending order): Utah, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Mississippi, and Idaho.11 The deepest hardship will be felt in the heartland, where the filing rates are highest. The pain will not only be felt by the debtors themselves, but also by the local merchants, whose customers will not have the benefit of the fresh start.

The fastest growing group of bankruptcy filers is older Americans. While individuals over 55 make up only about 15% of the people filing for bankruptcy, they are the fastest growing age group in bankruptcy. More than 50% of those 65 and older are driven to bankruptcy by medical debts they cannot pay. Eighty-five percent of those over 60 cite either medical or job problems as the reason for bankruptcy.12 Here again, abuse is not the issue. The bankruptcy filing rate reveals holes in the Medicare and Social Security systems, as seniors and aging members of the baby-boom generation declare bankruptcy to deal with prescription drug bills, co-pays, medical supplies, long-term care, and job loss.

Finally, it is crucial to recognize that the filers themselves are not the only ones to suffer from financial distress. They often have dependents. As it turns out, families with children – single mothers and fathers, as well as intact families – are more likely to file for bankruptcy than families without them. In 2001, approximately 1 in 123 adults filed for bankruptcy. That same year, 1 in 51 children was a dependent in a family that had filed for bankruptcy.13 The presence of children in a household increases the likelihood that the head of household will file for bankruptcy by 302%.14 Limiting access to Chapter 7 will deprive these children (as well as their parents) of a fresh start.

Conclusion
The bill contains a number of salutary provisions, such as the proposed provisions that protect consumers from predatory lending. Our concern is with the provisions addressing “bankruptcy abuse.” These provisions are so wrongheaded and flawed that they make the bill as a whole unsupportable. We urge you to either remove these provisions or vote against the bill.

-----

Sources:
1 Teresa A. Sullivan, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Lawrence Westbrook, The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt (2001); Marianne Culhane and Michaela White, Taking the New Consumer Bankruptcy Model for a Test Drive: Means-Testing for Chapter 7 Debtors, 7 AM. BANKR. INST. L. REV. 27, 28 n.8 (1999).

2 As one commentator has put it: “[T]he new means testing proposal . . . has . . . shifted to a command-and-control approach. Although means testing can be defended in principle - surely, debtors should repay some of their obligations if they can realistically do so - mechanical guidelines are both an artificial and manipulable strategy for inducing debtors to pay.” David A. Skeel, Jr., Debt’s Dominion (2001) at 210.

3 See, e.g., In re Kornfield, 164 F. 3d 778 (2nd Cir. 1999).

4 National Center for Educational Statistics, Private Schools in the United States: A Statistical Profile, 1993-94 (Table 1.5), available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs/ps/459t1050.asp.

5 American Bar Association, Fact Sheet: Congress Considers Imposing Harsh New Liability Standards Against Bankruptcy Attorneys (December 2004), available at: http://www.abanet.org/poladv/priorities/brattyliabilityfactsheet_december2004_.p df .

6 David U. Himmelstein, Elizabeth Warren, Deborah Thorne, and Steffie Woolhandler, Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy, HEALTH AFFAIRS (2005), available at: http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/reprint/hlthaff.w5.63v1.

7 Statement of Senator Norm Coleman, Hearing of the Senate Permanent Commission on Investigations (March 24, 2004), available at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgibin/ getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_senate_hearings&docid=f:93477.wais.

8 Id.

9 Mark Furletti, Credit Card Pricing Developments and their Disclosure (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, January 2003), available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm? abstract_id=572585.

10 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, The Profitability of Credit Card Operations of Depository Institutions (June 2004), available at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/rptcongress/creditcard/2004/ccprofit.pdf .

11 Source: American Bankruptcy Institute. Available at: http://www.abiworld.org/statcharts/HouseRank.htm

12 Melissa B. Jacoby, Teresa A. Sullivan, & Elizabeth Warren, Rethinking the Debates over Health Care Financing: Evidence from the Bankruptcy Courts, 76 N.Y.U. L. REV. 375, 397-399 (2001); Elizabeth Warren, Older Americans in Bankruptcy (October 12, 2004)(working paper). See also, Teresa A. Sullivan, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Lawrence Westbrook, The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt (2001) at 165.



Wednesday, 9 March 2005 at 19h 8m 41s

Jim McCrery, congressman from West Louisiana

From the Kansas City Star, March 9, 2005:

Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., the chairman of the panel's Social Security subcommittee, said Walker was "just dead wrong" and that private accounts, if coupled with benefit cuts, "can in fact solve the problems of Social Security."

He said it would be "counterproductive" for Bush to rule out private accounts and urged Democrats to drop their demand that the accounts be dropped.

"Stop this nonsense," McCrery said. "I hope we will all calm down."



 

Dear Mister McSleasy.

You calm down. You stop this nonsense.

This is simple economics. If you remove from the total you weaken the aggregate fund. Insurance works when more people put their money into one fund. That's basic business school McCrery, or did you get your MBA in supine corporate fawning.

The funds that are removed will get whittled away by brokerage fees -- which is what happened in Chile and Great Britain when they went to private accounts. And Great Britain wants to RETURN TO OUR SYSTEM.

Right now the overhead cost administering this insurance fund, is a mere 2 percent. With private accounts the overhead will rise to 20% or more. And there will be no guarantee if the account loses money --something that happens to 40% of mutual funds every year. So are you saying tough luck eating cat food for at least 40% of our old people?

And when 4.2% gets removed, the employer will only payup on the remaining 2.3%, further removing financial stability.

And what about the handicap, the disabled, and the children whose father's die? Who will pay for them?

This is just a chance to pay for debts created by this Republican party (that means you.) Bush invaded the Teacher's Pension fund when he was Governor, and he wants to do the same as President.

It's disgusting. I can't believe that you think you are upholding the constitution and act so slavishly in the interests of the billionaires and the corporations they control.

But what does a political hack from Shreveport care? Your making your bills sucking and slurping like a fiend.

It must taste good McCrery, but you are no patriot. You are either an idiot, or a wolf with a good-ole boy smile. You are wrong sir. You are cruel and you are wrong sir.

Shame on you, boy.


Tuesday, 8 March 2005 at 20h 19m 39s

Watching television regularly, eh?

How much does watching television promote degenerate behavior?

Of course, humans will always produce macabre reflections of themselves in the actions of murderers, thieves, addicts, and other dysfunctional behavior. This is not to say that we should blame society for the ills and actions of certain individuals, BUT we must also realize that there will always be a percentage of the larger population who are vulnerable or not as mentally strong as others. A society which forces this percentage to confront ridiculous and unnecessary stress or emotional disruption is asking for a chain reaction. But providing for the basic needs of all people is seen as socialistic. People are assumed to benefit by competiting with individuals, or they fall by the wayside into some subservient realm because they can't hack it.

The bang-the-hammer-harder approach and its concomitant ideas about survival-of-the-fittest mistake the individuals for the species. We are no different than ants. We cannot live separated from the others, and our survival depends upon everyone else being able to survive. Decisions must be made for the good of the whole. When decisions are being made which are bad for the whole, they are justified based upon a model which assumes that which is good for the individual is also good for the whole. But since all are not created with equal strengths and weaknesses, we cannot presume that all individuals will be able (either physically or mentally) to benefit from any arrangement which presumes that only the strongest will survive. This is true when it comes to the species, whereby only the strong species are able to live and continue to have offspring. When we discuss the intra-relations within the members of the species however, we are mistaking the individuals for the species. Within the species survival depends upon balance and shared responsibility.

The philosophy of striving and getting ahead cannot understand balance and shared responsibility because these ideas are not even on the mental map. Striving and getting ahead only concern themselves with behavior mechanisms, points of strategic value, and how best to defend the perimeter. In this mindset, the belief that the individual creates society is only a reflection of the world view that comes from striving and getting ahead. The idea of balance extensively lessens the importance of the sacred perimeter and creates mechanisms which are not bent upon getting ahead, but of sharing and cooperation. The idea of team degenerates into an egotistical competition of teammates. Although the team can function well enough under this condition, the ideas and roles of the teammates are not the same, much as the friendly neighborhood police force is different from a corrupt, pugnacious and autocratic version of the police force. The roles of our institutions lose touch with their purpose by this polarity of individualism.

Where does such a rampant individualism come from? You got it. Television. A gaining percent of the daily time we spend incorporating into our attention the actions of acted roles and commercial advertizements paid for by huge corporations. There is a decrease in the attention span spent cognizant of those in our community. Where and how we get the daily news is just as important what the news is. The cultural display of ourselves, the morals we like to embellish, the cherishing of heros and heriones has degenerated into stars and fantasy lifestyles, and moral self-righteousness. Commercials depict us as slavish nicompoops, crafty idiots, or suave players in the game of life. We watch as we applaud ourselves and as we point fingers and try to have everything nailed down to one short paragraph so that we can provide for the watchers -- at this very second -- that which alludes the grasp and cannot be captured. But we have it right here, only on the Itz Happenin Now channel.

And thusly a certain portion of our selves and minds grow an attachment to this display of culture and twisted commercialism. We presume that we can filter out the silliness, but nevertheless the attachment is formed whenever a thought occurs in response to stimuli. Gradually we are pulled away from the mutuality of the species, and slowly we are trained to adhere to the survival-of-the- fittest mentality, and slowly we lose the balance and shared responsibility because we begin to respond to the evolution of decades through the medium of the TV which has portrayed those decades.

We cannot presume that our species will remain the same when we are interacting with new mediums of communication and machines, including this very computer upon which these words are read -- and typed. Every tool brings benefits and dependencies, but no tool has ever had the power of television to shape the mind without a context based upon a false here-and-now reality. What you see on TV is somewhere else, and may have happened at some other time. Or it is many different points of time in the past that get chopped up into a final version. When you read, your mind produces its own mental imagery and thoughts. The combined video-audio experience that is television and cinematography however provides everything, so there is no development of mental imagery and thoughts, only an emotional reaction to images and thought packages, and a memory of what you saw and heard, not what you thought about or wondered.

Did I answer the question?


Monday, 7 March 2005 at 14h 23m 17s

The Law of cultural development

Citizens, denizens of urbanity, bucolic holdovers of rural redoubt, it is now time to reveal the Law of Cultural Development.Who we are as a people is directly proportional to what we pay attention to regularly, and how the rewards of society are distributed.

That being said, you have to ask : what justice and sanity makes it reasonable to assign wealth to the luck of birth? This is not really a moral question. It is not that it is bad to be rich. There is nothing wrong with having money and living well without concern for food, clothing, and shelter. But why should this just be the luck of birth, and what happens when the surplus funds get used to gather more money?

Money is created to represent all the wealth obtained and transformed from the Earth's natural resources. Essentially the number of people in the world or community who desire or need the resources exchange the bills of commerce. So when large amounts of it accumulate into smaller groups this means that more people have less and less control over their own well-being, and are subject to the whims and desires of those who control the way the resources are distributed.

We assume that wealth is a reflection of success and hard work, which is often true. The majority of millionaires work very hard for their funds, and are just as often only a bad sequence of events away from bankruptcy. Wealth is not in itself a reflection of unworthy accumulation. Those who take on larger responsibilities, those who are responsible, reliable, and who work hard should be well paid. But what does it mean when the rewards of financial accumulation also accrue to those who gain control of funds to where they are no longer ever in danger of bankruptcy because they are too large to fail. Billionaires do not go broke.

Our society does not like to discuss the issue of power. Instead we gloss over the issue with the automation of the free market economic system. All those who are wealthy have obtained that status because they were efficient providers of goods and services, or they were talented and determined. But what if we speak of men who are talented at duplicity and manipulation that are determined to accumulate more power? These are the nascent beginnings of aristocracy.

And what happens when the developing aristocracy decides to collectively relinquish any responsible relationship with the society, building gated communities from which they occassionally leave while being driven by a chauffeur. This is not a process that develops over a couple of years, but rather after a couple of generations.

The final analysis is this : there is equal danger between a bureaucratic corrupt government as there is the rise of an aristocratic order. There is no difference between the one and the other when the aristocracy does not live the lives of the common people. Despotism is not just something government creates, as certain liberterians would ascribe as their root philosophical understanding. Despotism occurs when power accumulates in the hands of a few. The sycophants and psychopaths who decorate the enterprises of dictatorship are the same people, whether they are exploited by political hacks or the aristocratic regime of a few plutocrats.


Wednesday, 2 March 2005 at 9h 7m 48s

Mind fiends who call themselves righteous

The fiends of mind-warped opinion are just power addicts and guilt trippers. They hire themselves into huge pyramids of talking smack addicts, all of them bent on kissing ass and playing mind-games while each they try to claw over one another, smiling and high flying when in the spotlight.

They are like high school debate club addicts. They don't care about right and wrong. They confuse manipulation with reason because all they care about is victory and money when they dip in and out like glossy sharks waiting for the precise moment to strike, pondering the slithering words which will prepare the victim for the stiletto.

So when you pose heartfelt and reasonable objections that have solid details, don't expect them to listen trying to understand your point of view. That is you. Not them. They are sniffing for weaknesses. They are quickly throwing up objections like fighters in a boxing ring. They see having a discussion as a combat which results in a victory, rather than an event which results in a common understanding; or as some moment to play their cards right, to put forth the smoke-screen amongst their other fellow confabulators; or plot with them. Oh, they are the first to denounce, ridicule, and vilify the philosophy of what they perceive as an opposition because it is the core of their believe system. Ask them what they believe in and notice that the result is not rooted in details, or is often stated with a "I just don't believe that..." They run their mouths on and on about being "fiscally conservative" or "fair-minded" but look the other way at wasted money and corruption.

It's all talk. Nestled next to their strident hypocritical, self-righteousness is an amorphous ambiguity, able to twist and distort every argument, even lie, because the goal is victory not understanding.

These people are dangerous, but the self-promoting sycophants are allowed mouthpieces of vast influence. They sit around (and go around) acting like their rampaging banter is the equivalence of insightful conversation. They beam a pompousness that resembles children proud of their new "poopy," and every moment for them is another re-enactment of that time they took their first shit. And really, they hate themselves. Which is yet another, darker reason for their vigilance over victory. They have to win because the consequences are but too dire. They talk the talk because they have to tell themselves that others have problems, and that that which they denounce is not themselves.

And they will keep talking until some "big daddy" kicks them where it hurts, whence they transform into pitiful and driveling, like slime gladly able to still cling to the brick wall. Yes it is slime that is holding the attention of an audience of fools. They have merely put up the illusion of themselves, and the audience believes.


Thursday, 17 February 2005 at 19h 6m 8s

Crying

Okay like, it’s really quite simple, you know, but, well, this might take a while to explain. You see. It all started sometime in the past, although I can’t offer you any particular date, or specific time when the said event occurred. Rather, it was just something that all of a sudden became realized. The thing was there all along, and still is, always will be, and so on and so on, and so on. Then, one day – or one moment – the realization of what the thing was or could be appeared like a sudden burst of fire, and the mind burned with the seething realizations, millions of beads of water pounding upon the stone, falling from the waterfall 200 feet above. This thing is called life. You cast yourself into the unknown thoughtlessly, completely driven by the habits of sheer will. Every now and then a little morsel of understanding appears, every now and then there are painful breeches when we have to try and understand what is quite non- understandable. During these situations there are no words which completely describe anything, only emotions which don’t make any sense. In our often deranged irrational attempts we use to feebly try to solve that which is unsolvable, because these are great wounds and take time to heal, and crying is the only way we know how to heal. I said it was really that simple. Crying is the only way we know how to heal.


Tuesday, 8 February 2005 at 0h 1m 58s

How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a lightbulb?

None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its' conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its' lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. There is no shortage of filament. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?




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