Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Thursday, 24 March 2005 at 19h 23m 54s|
The real sadness of Iraq
This is from Ari Behrman. [Link]
Rumsfeld, November 13, 2003: "We're making enormous progress. In
terms of essential services, schools are open, hospitals are functioning,
people are out on the streets eating in restaurants, and life is going on, and
23 million people have been liberated."
Awbalth, a soldier from CA, October 20, 2004: "Immediately after
the 'war' portion of the fighting, we should have been prepared to send in a
massive reconstruction effort. Right away we needed engineers to diagnose
problems, we needed contractors repairing problems, we needed immediate food,
water, shelter, and fuel for the Iraqi people, and we needed more security for
all of this to work...Establishing massive reconstruction efforts that employed
millions of Iraqis would have gone a long way toward proving to the Iraqis that
we were there to help them, not steal their oil and get rich from
reconstruction contracts paid for by the American taxpayer."
|Thursday, 24 March 2005 at 19h 4m 26s|
Big firms are different from smaller investors
Mutual fund giants don't bilk the small-fry investors do they?
do. The big 4 US firms just paid $81.25 million dollars in fines because they
were pushing securities that had lower rates of return (which means in
economist-speak, investors got less profit on the investment ) because they
getting bigger commissions.
Read the story on the BBC here.
A permalink is here.
But this is how the market works. Larger investors, or investing firms, pool a
very large amount of money (as in more than 100 million dollars) and make money
by selling whenever there are 1 to 3 cent increases. That doesn't sound like
a lot, but when you have 10,000 to 100,000 various stocks sold with (say) a 2
cent profit per share --- dat's $200 to $2000 profit a pop. And when counting
1% commissions on all sales that are in the millions -- 0.01 times
$1,000,000 equals an extra $10,000 on top. And this is per day! 240
business days per year, times $12,000 ... equals 2.5 million dollars a year.
Now imagine a large firm with 100 stock brokers.
But this money has to come from somewhere. In the immediate moment the buyers
and sellers are all a mixed composite of stock-brokers, firms, and re-issues,
but the nexus of these events are all in the hands of the larger sellers,
simply on account of the large aggregation of funds. When small investors buy
into a mutual fund or have a firm manage their securities, that small investor
is giving the larger firm or fund managers more money with which to play the
market. In return the larger firm and fund managers promise to share with
their investors some of the profits.
Seems like a fair arrangement on the face of this exchange of services, but the
reality is that these large firms are no more fair and respectful of their
customer investors than other large companies can with telephone, gas, et al
services. There is also no guarantee that your returns will match expectations
because small investors alone have to depend on the machinations of others
unless they are truly independent. Most small investors will not understand
how the market works or not spend the time necessary to be successful
independently, and thus the vast majority of investors entrust their
investments to the machinations of others.
Which brings us back to the important question : where do these profits come
from? The notion of buying low and selling high is simple enough, but that
increase is still bourn by that someone who paid the higher price. Since this
person perhaps thought they could resell at a higher price, the logical
conclusion would seem that desire for profit is what produces the driving force
behind the ability to reap profits from the difference between a high and low
price. And when the price rises too high -- well of course the price then
the point where someone buys that thinks they got a good deal. This is called
the "self-correcting" market, and in this school of economic theology, the
world of investments becomes riddled with winners and losers.
Except one thing. The big firms don't lose. Yes, Citibank, Bank of America,
the DuPont family trust investments -- don't fail. They might make less
profits, but they don't go bankrupt (ie, fail.) We are talking about financial
institutions and multi-billionaire investors who are simply too big to fail,
because since the fall-out would affect too many, the big players either all
pool their resources whenever they have a crisis - or the government (ie,
taxpayers) foot the bill to cover the massive losses.
These are institutions that aren't bothered by the "self-correcting" market,
who simply change machinations when the market dips low, and thus, this idea of
the "self-correcting" market doesn't really apply. Simply said : the small
investors win and lose, but either way, Citibank makes money.
I'll have to return to this theme, once I've thought this through more. But
I'm not saying anything new. Adam Smith himself, and John K. Galbraith have
both mentioned this vulnerability to the "self-correcting" market theory.
To be continued...
|Wednesday, 23 March 2005 at 21h 2m 14s|
Why do I do this
I've been told by a friend who looked at this blog that I
needed to get
girlfriend. Well ...
I already have 5 girlfriends. Their names are Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring, and
Pinky, and I assure you that each of them are equally hot for me. They are
also a great help in producing these flashes of verbage and whatever other
creative endeavors to which life has thrust into my soul. And I am a grateful
man, so what else is there?
But now as to the question of having 6 girlfriends?
I won't answer that.
Why do I do this? Why not?
|Wednesday, 23 March 2005 at 20h 52m 28s|
Tom Delay predicting a fight for conservatism
This is really scary. But here is the corrupt bug man Tom
pretend that the movement of conservatism is related to his corrupt autocratic
style of government.
You can get the mp3 audio here.
And so it’s bigger than any one of us, and we have to do everything that is in
our power to save Terri Schiavo and anybody else that may be in this kind of
And let me just finish with this: This is exactly the issue that’s going on in
America. That attacks against the conservative movement, against me, and
against many others. The point is, it’s, the other side has figured out how to
win and defeat the conservative movement. And that is to go after people,
personally charge them with frivolous charges, and link that up with all these
do-gooder organizations funded by George Soros, and then, and then get the
national media on their side. That whole syndicate that they have going on
right now is for one purpose and one purpose only and that’s to destroy the
conservative movement. It’s to destroy conservative leaders and it’s, uh, not
just in elected office but leading. I mean Ed Feulner, today at the Heritage
Foundation, was under attack in the National Journal. I mean they, they, this
is a huge nationwide concerted effort to destroy everything we believe in, and,
and you need to look at this and what’s going on and participate in fighting
Don’t, you know, the one way they stopped churches from getting into politics
was Lyndon Johnson, who passed a law that said you couldn’t get in politics or
you’re going to lose your tax exempt status because they were all opposed to
him when he was running for president. That law we’re trying to repeal; it’s
very difficult to do that. But the point is, is when they can knock out a
leader then no other leader will step forward for awhile because they don’t
want to go through the same thing. When, if they go after and get a pastor then
other pastors shrink from what they should be doing. It forces Christians back
into the church and that’s what’s going on in America: “The world is too bad.
I’m going to go get inside this building and I’m not going to play in the
world.” Uh, that’s not what Christ asked us to do. And, and so this, they
understand that it is a political maneuver, and, and they are, uh, going to try
to destroy the conservative movement and we have to fight back.
So, please, this afternoon, each and every one of you, if you know a senator
give him a call. Tell him, they’ll say, “Our bill can pass in the House.” Tell
him, “That’s fine. Your bill’s okay but the House bill is better and, uh, I
want the House bill.” Particularly if you know Democrats, uh, don’t let them
get off the hook, um, by hiding behind one House and the other is adjourned. We
can do anything we need to do to pass any bill that we need to pass. So I
appreciate what you’re doing. God bless you and thank you for the Family
Yes. He actually said those warped words.
Here is a photo of da man, along with the Texas redistricting map that was
fought over during 2002 (yea, way back then -- 3 years ago.) Notice how Austin
is split into 3 other heavily Republican districts. Silly you. That is how
they gained 3 seats in Congress last year. Didn't you know?
And look at those long skinny district slices. Whatever happened to
rectangular objects? That's the scientology called gerrymandering you see.
Mr. Delay's district is in the southeast corner of the state,including
Galveston and the wealthier suburbs of Houston. It is the dumbell looking
district (or an upside down phone receiver) on the edge of Louisiana.
By the way, Tom Delay is the Republican Majority Leader of the House. He is
the one the House Republicans tried to change the ethics rules so that
Congressmen who are indicted by a court do not have to step down.
|Wednesday, 23 March 2005 at 20h 23m 30s|
And that doctor you see on Fox news is a hoax
Doctor Hammesfahr was introduced by Sean
Hannity on Fox
a "Nobel prize
winning" doctor. As it turns out ... (source)
Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist disciplined in 2003 by the Florida Board of
Medicine who claims he can help Terri Schiavo, testified during an October 2002
court hearing on the Schiavo case that his claim to be a Nobel nominee is based
on a letter written by Rep. Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) recommending him for the
prize. But Bilirakis is not qualified to make a valid nomination under the
Hammesfahr was "disciplined by the Florida Board of Medicine in 2003" because
he was falsely advertising a treatment for strokes for profit. He was fined
$52,084 and given a 6 month probation during which he had submit monthly
reports corrobated by independent medical monitors appointed by the court, who
had to by law review 50% of his cases.
So how much can you trust this fellows belief that he can "help" Terri Schiavo?
You can watch a Windows media video of Hannity and Scarborough repeatedly make
this "nobel prize" claim
Have fun !
|Wednesday, 23 March 2005 at 19h 49m 27s|
Terri Schiavo and the slinging of deception
This case has been hijacked for political reasons, and now
accusations surface about bone scans that "prove" spouse abuse.
The woman had a heartache because of bulimia. Read this
for an unbiased legal opinion. And here for another straight-up site.
All of the regular news sources don't bother to explained the known facts of
the case. I read CNN reports and stories in newspapers. None of them
indicated that CAT scans in 1996 show that the entire center of the brain has
deteriorated and is replaced by spinal fluid. None of them state the case of
bulimia (as determined in a court case by jury in 1993) as the reason for the
heartache. It seems to me that these 2 facts should be absolutely relevant in
an article on this issue.
According to the court appointed doctor, Dr. Jay Wolfson from the University of
The cause of the cardiac arrest was adduced to a dramatically reduced potassium
level in Theresa's body. Sodium and potassium maintain a vital, chemical
balance in the human body that helps define the electrolyte levels. The cause
of the imbalance was not clearly identified, but may be linked, in theory, to
her drinking 10-15 glasses of iced tea each day. While no formal proof emerged,
the medical records note that the combination of [Theresa's] aggressive weight
loss, diet control and excessive hydration raised questions about Theresa from
Bulimia, an eating disorder, more common among women than men, in which purging
through vomiting, laxatives and other methods of diet control become obsessive.
Alas, all the newspapers and mainstream news outlets these days report is the
speech and simplistic hoopla, and the airing of the spin by the "two sides."
Of course the representatives of the "two sides" are also the choice of the
hack reporters out there, who can and do form opinion by the choice of quote
It took work but I had to research to find the above "unbiased" site of
I don't like to be ignorant, nor vulnerable to being hoaxed or mislead. And
most of all, I do not intend to mislead or spout unsubstantiated claims and
conjecture. So I do research.
My conclusion: these jackals are going to try to up the ante rather than back
out of this, and they are no beyong defaming Michael Schiavo if necessary to
save their own pathetic butts.
Whether this poor unfortunate woman should live or die is not my decision to
make. I do know that keeping her alive costs money, and that there is only
$50,000 left from the 1993 lawsuit. I also know that Mrs. Schiavo is in
a "persistant vegetative state" with a liquid center for a brain. She can't do
anything for herself and she will never improve. Her brain is also continuing
Stating these truths is not the same as making the decision on whether the tube
should stay or go. What a horrible decision for anyone to have to make, but
what is more disgusting is how outside political brigands are using this to
serve their own ends.
Michael Schiavo stayed with his wife for 8 years in the belief that she might
recover. I have seen no evidence (nor has any been produced) that Mr. Schiavo
has been anything but a good husband. If he believes his wife would not want
to live forever in this state, that is his right. If Mrs. Schiavo's parents
want their daughter to remain alive, that is their right.
However, certain accusations floating about Mr. Schiavo beating, strangling,
abusing, or injecting his wife with needles are false and not at all consistent
with the medical record.
And (as pointed out by the Florida Court's weblog from the abstractappeal link
above) a further point. When Mr. Schiavo sued Terri Schiavo's doctors in 1993,
evidence of these matters would have been easy to provide by the doctors. That
decision by a jury agreed that Terri Schiavo suffered her condition as the
result a heart-attack brought on by Bulimia.
|Tuesday, 22 March 2005 at 22h 24m 36s|
Newsmax is proud of its propaganda
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
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
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
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
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
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.
This is a partisan driven political circus to direct the public view away from
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
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
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
The message seemed similar to one he delivered last month when seeking the
"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
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
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
"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
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
John McQueen, the Democrats' international campaign chair, has called that
result "the most significant change in party leadership in more than a
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
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
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.
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.
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
to change the direction of global development financing with "stern
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
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
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
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
providing "a poor role model" in contracting and auditing. (They've likely
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
|Thursday, 17 March 2005 at 21h 23m 26s|
Oh, those whining libr'uls
Don't look now, but our fearless legislatures are coming on
against ... steriods and husbands who want to pull the plug on their machine
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
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
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.
We are professors of bankruptcy and commercial law. We are writing with regard
Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 685/S.
“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
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
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
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.
people do abuse the bankruptcy system, but the overwhelming majority of people
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
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
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
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 principal mechanism aimed at the bankruptcy filing rate is the so
which denies access to Chapter 7 (liquidation) bankruptcy to those debtors who
“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
judge, upon her own motion or the motion of the United States Trustee, to deny
a discharge in Chapter 7 to prevent a “substantial abuse.” Courts have not
deny discharges where Chapter 7 was being used to preserve a well-to-do
the United States Trustee’s office has already taken it upon itself to object
when, in its view, the debtor has the ability to repay a substantial portion of
his or her
• Second, the new means-test is over-inclusive. Because it is based on income
standards devised by the Internal Revenue Service to deal with tax cheats, the
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
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
a 60 month repayment plan. Such a plan would yield a mere $6000 for creditors
five years, less costs of government-sponsored administration.
• Third, to give just one example of its inflexibility, the means-test limits
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
the average tuition for any category of parochial school (except Seventh Day
and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans).4 Today it would not come close for any
In order to yield a few dollars for credit card issuers, this bill would force
struggling families to take their children from private or parochial school
violation of deeply held religious beliefs) for three to five years in order to
Chapter 13 plan.
• Fourth, the power of creditors to raise the “abuse” issue will significantly
number of means-test hearings. Again, the expense of the hearings will be
to the already strapped debtor. This will add to the cost of filing for
the filing is abusive or not. It will also swamp bankruptcy courts with lengthy
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
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
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
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
of payments provided for under their plan. These provisions significantly raise
payments that must be made to secured creditors under a Chapter 13 plan. This
a whipsaw effect on many debtors, who, forced into Chapter 13 by the means-
not have the income necessary to confirm a plan under that Chapter. This group
debtors would be deprived of any discharge whatsoever, either in Chapter 7 or
13. In all cases this will reduce payments to unsecured creditors (a group
ironically, includes many of the sponsors of this legislation).
• Section 106 of the bill would require any individual debtor to receive credit
from a credit counseling agency within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy.
credit counseling sounds benign, recent Senate hearings with regard to the
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
“consumer complaints about excessive fees, pressure tactics, nonexistent
education, promised results that never come about, ruined credit ratings, poor
many cases being left in worse debt than before they initiated their debt
plan.”7 Mandatory credit counseling would place vulnerable debtors at the mercy
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
card debt and would reduce the scope of the fresh start, for even those debtors
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
dramatically puts it: “honest Americans who play by the rules have to foot the
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.
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
Thus, it would appear that hard evidence of the so-called “bankruptcy tax” is
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,
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
The fastest growing group of bankruptcy filers is older Americans. While
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
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.
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.
The bill contains a number of salutary provisions, such as the proposed
protect consumers from predatory lending. Our concern is with the provisions
“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.
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
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:
6 David U. Himmelstein, Elizabeth Warren, Deborah Thorne, and Steffie
Woolhandler, Illness and Injury as
Contributors to Bankruptcy, HEALTH AFFAIRS (2005), available at:
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/
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?
10 Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, The Profitability of
Card Operations of Depository
Institutions (June 2004), available at:
11 Source: American Bankruptcy Institute. Available at:
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.
GOTO THE NEXT 10 COLUMNS