Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.
|Saturday, 29 March 2008 at 8h 30m 7s|
Paul Krugman on the myth of a Social Security crisis
Social Security is a government program supported by a dedicated tax, like highway maintenance. Now you can say that
assigning a particular tax to a particular program is merely a fiction, but in fact such assignments have both legal and political
force. If Ronald Reagan had said, back in the 1980s, ďLetís increase a regressive tax that falls mainly on the working class, while
cutting taxes that fall mainly on much richer people,Ē he would have faced a political firestorm. But because the increase in the
regressive payroll tax was recommended by the Greenspan Commission to support Social Security, it was politically in a different
box - you might even call it a lockbox - from Reaganís tax cuts.
The purpose of that tax increase was to maintain the dedicated tax system into the future, by having Social Securityís assigned
tax take in more money than the system paid out while the baby boomers were still working, then use the trust fund built up by
those surpluses to pay future bills. Viewed in its own terms, that strategy was highly successful.
The date at which the trust fund will run out, according to Social Security Administration projections, has receded steadily into
the future: 10 years ago it was 2029, now itís 2042. As Kevin Drum, Brad DeLong, and others have pointed out, the SSA
estimates are very conservative, and quite moderate projections of economic growth push the exhaustion date into the indefinite
But the privatizers wonít take yes for an answer when it comes to the sustainability of Social Security. Their answer to the pretty
good numbers is to say that the trust fund is meaningless, because itís invested in U.S. government bonds. They arenít really
saying that government bonds are worthless; their point is that the whole notion of a separate budget for Social Security is a
fiction. And if thatís true, the idea that one part of the government can have a positive trust fund while the government as a
whole is in debt does become strange.
But there are two problems with their position.
The lesser problem is that if you say that there is no link between the payroll tax and future Social Security benefits - which is
what denying the reality of the trust fund amounts to - then Greenspan and company pulled a fast one back in the 1980s: they
sold a regressive tax switch, raising taxes on workers while cutting them on the wealthy, on false pretenses. More broadly, weíre
breaking a major promise if we now, after 20 years of high payroll taxes to pay for Social Securityís future, declare that it was all
a little joke on the public.
The bigger problem for those who want to see a crisis in Social Securityís future is this: if Social Security is just part of the federal
budget, with no budget or trust fund of its own, then, well, itís just part of the federal budget: there canít be a Social Security
crisis. All you can have is a general budget crisis. Rising Social Security benefit payments might be one reason for that crisis, but
itís hard to make the case that it will be central.
But those who insist that we face a Social Security crisis want to have it both ways. Having invoked the concept of a unified
budget to reject the existence of a trust fund, they refuse to accept the implications of that unified budget going forward.
Instead, having changed the rules to make the trust fund meaningless, they want to change the rules back around 15 years from
now: today, when the payroll tax takes in more revenue than SS benefits, they say thatís meaningless, but when - in 2018 or later
- benefits start to exceed the payroll tax, why, thatís a crisis. Huh?
I donít know why this contradiction is so hard to understand, except to echo Upton Sinclair: itís hard to get a man to understand
something when his salary (or, in the current situation, his membership in the political club) depends on his not understanding
it. But let me try this one more time, by asking the following: What happens in 2018 or whenever, when benefits payments
exceed payroll tax revenues?
The answer, very clearly, is nothing.
The Social Security system wonít be in trouble: it will, in fact, still have a growing trust fund, because of the interest that the
trust earns on its accumulated surplus. The only way Social Security gets in trouble is if Congress votes not to honor U.S.
government bonds held by Social Security. Thatís not going to happen. So legally, mechanically, 2018 has no meaning.
Now itís true that rising benefit costs will be a drag on the federal budget. So will rising Medicare costs. So will the ongoing
drain from tax cuts. So will whatever wars we get into. I canít find a story under which Social Security payments, as opposed to
other things, become a crucial budgetary problem in 2018.
What we really have is a looming crisis in the General Fund. Social Security, with its own dedicated tax, has been run responsibly;
the rest of the government has not. So why are we talking about a Social Security crisis?
There is no social security crisis. There are a bunch of idiosyncratic, desperate elitists who want to destroy the government by
the people, and creating a financial crisis enables them to "get government down to the point where you can flush it down the
toilet." Rule by spoiled rich trust fund babies and their sycophants is preferable to the collective wisdom of a voting public.
These conservatives don't want to conserve the accumulated historical bureaucracy of the government. They want to tear it down
and build offices for lobbyists and public relations firms.
|Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 8h 10m 58s|
The Republican scandal you didn't hear about
Especially when there are prostitutes involving a Governor of New York. Stealing money from the Republican National Committee
by a man who was put in the position in 1995 is minor when the Democratic Governor gets busted putting his dilly in the wrong
place and paying for sex with high society hooker.
Christopher Ward, the National Republican Congressional Committee's longtime treasurer, was fired in January after committee
officials learned that he had been making unauthorized fund transfers dating to 2004, said Rep. Tom Cole, the committee's
"Based on analysis conducted to date, it appears likely that over a period of several years Ward made several hundred thousand
dollars in unauthorized transfers of NRCC funds to outside committees whose bank accounts he had access to, including joint
fund-raising committees in which the NRCC participated," Cole said in a written statement.
"He also appears to have made subsequent transfers of several hundred thousand dollars in funds from those outside committees
to what appear to be his personal and business bank accounts."
[SOURCE:†Brian Todd and Dugald McConnel†|†CNN†|†14
If this would have been the Democratic National Committee, the press would have been all over it. But it's the corrupt
Republicans and so the story dies on a windy Friday afternoon.
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 8h 28m 47s|
Of course we will disperse those checks we promised
But after 2+ years, tens of thousands of New Orleanian homeowners are still waiting for the company contracted to
checks to actually do so. Even while the company is making profits, their Public Relations officials whine about sifting through
150,000 applications and about inefficient personnel.
Click here for the MSNBC story.
One individual, according the above article: ~~ Adam Knapp, deputy director of the LRA, said bad publicity ultimately will spur
ICF to better perform. ďTheir stock will rise and fall on their delivery here,Ē Knapp said ~~
What does bad publicity have to do with the ability of government contractors to exploit their niche and profit off of the tax-payers?
Has bad publicity changed Halliburton and the cost-overruns of General Dynamics? $2000 screw-drivers and $50 toilet paper didn't
go away because MSNBC did a few stories in between the garbage they normally spew about Brittany and Paris Hilton.
|Saturday, 15 March 2008 at 7h 54m 2s|
How about this for apartment living
Hat tip to bigpicture
|Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 22h 29m 3s|
World War Three
Kicks off by the invasion of
Ecuador by the
dictatorial corrupt, death-squad loving
By the way we give $500 million a year to support the Columbian Army as aid in their fight
They find laptops on the "terrorists" after they blow them away with Uranium shipments on it.
Huhn? How could they have cracked the initial user/password screens so quickly? Sounds like more
yellowcake from Niger to me.
We can't buy this lie again.
Meanwhile Venezuela sends troops and tanks to the border.
Do a google on "Columbia Ecuador"? Notice the News Alert at the top.
Here is a fair story on the situation from Salem, Oregon.
|Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 19h 36m 5s|
While listening to the radio
I am listening to this radio call-in talk show, called Clout, where the host Richard Greene
excellent job of letting all kinds of people come on the show and talk about what they think and
want to say. Congrats Richard.
This guy comes on ranting and raving about how Hillary didn't mean anything about this and that,
and then so what, because Obama needs to toughen up and wise up, and that he is so sick of
constantly hearing everyone tell Hillary to quit, like she is gonna break the party, and blah,
blah. Richard allowed Brent Budowsky comment, and then let the man have his say, and back and
forth. Brent was very judicious and warm in his statements. This man appeared to not hear a
damn thing anyone else was saying. All he did was complain, while heatedly trying to convince
everyone that Hillary is the one to trust, because no matter what, "we can't let another Republican
take the Presidency in 2008."
Everyone agrees with that last statement. But it is commpletely disconnected with everything else
the man tried to say. Even when Richard and Brent 120% agreed with him, it wasn't enough. It become
obvious after 5 minutes, when Richard politely moved on to another caller. Then I got to
thinking. Maybe that man was paid to act that way. Maybe the whole point was to try to inflame
listeners of the radio show with some contrived thought process. It explains a whole lot.
That's what television and corporate media are. They disperse ways of thinking that permit weak
minded people to cheerlead and hold beliefs that are anti-thetical to their existence.
|Wednesday, 5 March 2008 at 22h 42m 39s|
Somebody please tell me what Hillary Clinton's problem is?
- She gets a picture of Obama in a traditional Kenyan Muslim robe when he recently made an
official visit to Kenya last year, and sends it to smear merchant Matt Drudge.
- She recently makes a verbal statement that she has national experience, John McCain has
national experience, but Obama, he just made a good speech.
- She accuses him of plagarizing when her own speeches are replete with phases her own speech
writers write, and use from other great speeches in American History.
- Back when John Edwards was still in the primary, I think the 2nd debate, she accused her two
opponents of acting like Republicans when they questioned her on specifics about her policies,
INSTEAD of answering the question. John Edwards replied calmly that he was just asking policy
- Then, she answers "No, as far as I know" when asked the question "Is Obama a Muslim?" The
correct response is "No" followed by a "and even if he is, what does it matter. In this country,
we have a constitution, and we don't have a religious test in order to be considered qualified for
public office." That's what Hillary should of said. But instead, her instinct was to make a
slippery statement that is a mild innuendo about religion.
This is how the current Republican party acts. Democrats don't do this. Democrats don't send
pictures to the Republican smear merchant machine. Democrats answer questions about specifics in
their policy. Democrats politely elaborate and address the criticisms others have about the
specifics in their policies. Democrats do not raise red herrings and deflect the questions about
specifics by accusing others of acting unfair when they ask questions. Democrats also don't accuse
others of what they themselves do.
This really disgusts me. I don't like seeing this kind of instinct in someone who runs for polical
office. What you are seeing is a women who is so desirous to become President that she is willing
to act like a Republican. Maybe that's why she has been enabling George Bush all this time. Who
voted for Anthony Alioto and John Roberts. Where was she when the Militiary Commissions Act
of 2006 occurred? (NOTE: Google search link, choose wisely.)
I'm not saying Obama is free of a certain amount of compromise himself, but he doesn't act like
this in pursuit of the throne. He might get into a fake skirmish with Paul Krugman about what his
health-care policies are or are not, but nothing personal occurred in that skirmish. Obama didn't
elude that Krugman is just an ivory tower man of books who hides behind a newspaper column. No.
He didn't go that route in order to have a victory. He just "respectfully disagreed" and didn't
attack the man in order to attack the policy.
Understand the difference. These two individuals are under the most intense stress that any human
being could experience in a life-time. At these times. people respond to stress instinctively, so
how people respond during the duress of a political election is quintessential to how they are as
And I'm not liking the person I see in Mrs. Hillary Clinton. She has gone a long way in
undermining what happy notions I may have had or stated in the past. Going forward, I really am
disgusted by this, and mind you, I really haven't mentioned about 2 to 5 more things about
Hillary's actions too. The four above should be quite fine to make my point.
But all that being said, if Hillary secures the nomination, I will vote for her, and I will focus
upon her positives. Lyndon Johnson was a bastard and a cut-throat son-of-a-bitch himself, but
guess who got Medicare passed. All these one-dimensional purists out there who want the whole
package need to wake the hell up and realize that we are talking about the Supreme Court. Plain
and simple. The current law-breakers and fascist appointments in the government will multiply like
the German National Socialist party when it went from 6 to 25 to 134 representatives and got the 81
year old General President to annoint Hitler as Chancellor, in only 5 years. If there is any
government or non-out sourced job at a decent wage left.
Another Republican and you can kiss this country and its constitution goodbye, while looking
forward to a hundred years of self-destruction wars. There really is no choice.
|Friday, 22 February 2008 at 5h 8m 30s|
Sex and companionship in modern America
I just figured out what it is about Sex that drives Americans crazy, and why Sex tends to dominate
our politics either because some politician is having an affair with a young girl, or because some
homophobe is secretly having gay sex.
Mind you this is something only a single male could figure out at 3:45 am, but the problem in
America is actually quite simple. Nobody here is having sex. And those couples (married or not)
who have sex, are actually dissatisfied with the sex half of the time. It's either too quick or
too boring or the feelings for the other person are gone and the sex can't compensate.
Yep, that's it. Look around. The guys are all desperate and the babes are all wishing for Mr.
Right despite the Mr. So-So's they tend to date. We American's pay too much attention to sex
because we are trying to overcompensate for are own dissatisfactions. We are lonely and seeking
companionship, and sex is the consolation prize.
If you look much closer however, you realize that the problem is not really about sex. It's about
the lack of close relationships with others, and the proponderance of unfulfilling superficial
relationships. You have a conversation with someone once, then when you see them again, you get a
blank stare. The other person is too shell-shocked to admit to the former conversation. People
actually categorize their relationships with others, and if you aren't in that special category you
get the vouchsafed acknowledgement. And saying hello or good morning to complete strangers is a
dying vestige of a culture that existed before 24 hour cable TV distorted our understandings of
personal interaction. You don't learn about people by watching Television shows, nor do you gain
any better understanding of yourself.
|Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 9h 41m 45s|
Outsourcing torture and detention camps
The CIA's secret interrogation program has made extensive use of outside contractors, whose role likely included the
waterboarding of terrorist suspects, according to testimony yesterday from the CIA director and two other people familiar with
Many of the contractors involved aren't large corporate entities but rather individuals who are often former agency or military
officers. However, large corporations also are involved, current and former officials said. Their identities couldn't be learned.
According to two current and former intelligence officials, the use of contracting at the CIA's secret sites increased quickly in the
wake of the 9/11 attacks, in part because the CIA had little experience in detentions and interrogation. Using nongovernment
employees also helped maintain a low profile, they said.
[SOURCE:†Digby†|†digbysblog†|†8 February 2008]
How come the "liberal media" isn't all over this revelation that came out of a Congressional hearing this week? "Using
nongovernment employees also helped maintain a low profile" ... yea, I bet.
When are American's going to realize that rogue elements are operating independent of the government. Cliques of political
elites are enabling decisions with winks and nods that are out of their control. Is this really to help better fight the "terrorists" ?
Consider how the contracting process has already corrupted the military operations in Iraq. Consider the history of rogue
intelligence operations since the growth of the Intelligence establishment since World War Two. In almost every single case, the
secretive actions back-fire and force government policy-makers to deal with the resulting mess.
Here's a brief list:
- Bay of Pigs
- Secret missions into Laos and Burma during Vietnam
- assassination of Panamanian Trujillo leads way to oligarchy and puppet dictator Noriega
- creation of the Shah of Iran leds to Iranian revolution
- support of bin Laden in early 80's in Afghanistan
In all of the above cases, secretive actions by rogue elements in the national security/defense establishment created the
groundwork for the eventual blowback which occurred. This is why open democratic processes are necessary. Because the
short-sighted, group think of insiders will only perceive their own limited self-interests, colored by human biases that can only
be exposed when done in the open. The policy of promoting corrupted elements in foreign nations involves unsavory methods
like murder and propaganda that do not attract the love and admiration of the very foreigners the policy is supposed to be
helping. Were the Iranians supposed to be happy when the United States funded and supported the torture-driven police state of
Iran for over 20 years when the Shah was in charge?
|Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 9h 11m 14s|
So much for funding corporate bailouts
The credit squeeze, which seemed brutally bad only a few months ago, is getting worse.
Consider Solutia, a chemical company that filed for bankruptcy back in 2003, and got bankruptcy court approval for an exit plan
just three months ago. That plan was based in part on a financing commitment for $2 billion from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and
That commitment was signed in late October, but now the banks say the market has gotten worse and they will not make the
loans. Solutia sued the banks this week, trying to force them to fork over the money even if they cannot sell the loan to others, as
they had intended to do. Citigroup says the suit is without merit.
Regardless of how that suit turns out, it is an indication of how much harder it has become to get financing for highly leveraged
companies. In recent years, companies that ran into problems could almost always get loans to rescue them. Now they canít. And
that is before a recession hits most industries.
The number of corporate bankruptcies filed by leveraged borrowers so far this year is greater than the total filed in all of 2006
and 2007, Standard & Poorís Leveraged Commentary and Data reports.
Norris†|†New York Times†|†8 February 2008]
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