November 13, 2009 archive

Action: Citizen’s Tax on Rupert ‘the Pirate’ Murdoch

Check last week’s review of the story so far.

Act on Friday, 4pm and 10pm Eastern, 1pm and 7pm Pacific.

The diary this week is to throw the floor open. I have listed the various reasons why I am happy to impose a Direct Action Citizen’s Tax on Rupert “The Pirate” Murdoch. The focus this week is on you. What do you have against Rupert “The Pirate” Murdoch?

  • His Hypocrisy?
  • His War-Mongering?
  • His Vicious Union-Busting Politics?
  • The further destruction of our political discourse, also known as “Fox News”?
  • His ongoing fight in support of monopoly power in the media?
  • …or whatever – share it in the comments.

The ongoing story of the “Teaspoon Model” is below the fold, and after that, instructions on how to impose the Direct Action Citizen’s Tax, and The List.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with U.S. News.  48 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pakistan bombings kill 18 as spy agency hit

by Lehaz Ali, AFP

Fri Nov 13, 8:36 am ET

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – A powerful suicide car bomb ripped through the Peshawar headquarters of Pakistan’s top spy agency Friday, killing at least 10 people and leaving much of the fortified building in ruins.

A similar bombing killed eight people in another northwest town, the latest in a spate of attacks as 30,000 troops press their most ambitious assault yet against Taliban militants in their mountain strongholds on the Afghan border.

The attack devastated the three-storey Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) provincial headquarters in the northwestern city of Peshawar, sending huge clouds of smoke spewing into the sky and destroying more than half of the building.

Energy Bookshelf: Ten more worth your time than Super Freaky Crap

There are many, many serious problems out there.

And, there are real opportunities to be had from taking on those challenges in smart ways…

Sadly, too much attention is given to those who deceive about the challenges and distort the implications of the options before us.

Best-seller lists, the air waves, oped pages, and blog posts have been filled with Steven Levitt’s and Steven Dubner’s shallow, truthiness-laden Superfreakonomics.   The continued attention feeds on itself, as ignoring the deceptions and  the mediocre interviews booked due to the authors’ Super(freaky)star status has the problem of giving it credence due to non-truthful truthiness and misleading mediocrity on the critical issue of climate change science and other issues. There essentially innumerable works more worthy of our attention and engagement, even if we constrain ourselves simply to books also published in 2009.

Thus, after the fold, ten books published this year that are more worthy of your time and money that the shallow distortions from the Super Freaky Economists of Superfreakonomics.

The “Pet Sacrificial Goat”

They waterboarded this guy 183 times and he now says he masterminded the whole thing.

Yeah right, and I’m the freakin’ Queen of England on alternate Tuesdays.

Never mind that he’s also testified that he was in place A when they have proof that he was in place B at the same time.

Apparently, I am very much not alone in my thoughts on who was REALLY responsible for 9/11. Final tally after they shut the comments down – 250 people agreed!

Will Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Get A Fair Trial?


Eric Holder:

“After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September 11 will finally face justice,” Holder said.

“They will be brought to New York to answer to their alleged crimes in a courthouse just blocks away from where the twin towers once stood.”

How will they prove he was the mastermind of 9/11? Certainly not through using his multitudinous confessions all obtained under torture…right?

After being waterboarded 183 times in one month and having the CIA threaten to kill his children and undoubtedly having the whole book of “allowable enhanced interrogation techniques” applied to various areas of his body for years is he competent to stand trial? How much brain damage did he suffer through asphyxiation? How much head trauma from being slammed into walls? In addition to the physical trauma of being continuously tortured and being held in solitary confinement for eight years, does he even have a brain left? Or has the psychological trauma added to the physical trauma rendered his brain into Tasty Wheat?

Has The Bush Torture Program damaged him to the point of incompetence in his own defense?

Even if somehow KSM’s brain did survive eight years of torture and solitary confinement and he is competent to stand trial, other than his confessions and the confessions and accusations of others…..all obtained under The Bush Torture Program….. what evidence is there that he was indeed the mastermind? Are there fingerprints or forensic evidence? Surveillance tapes? Phone taps of him plotting with the hijackers? In other words, if you throw out all evidence tainted by Torture…do they have a case?

And if they don’t have a case, is there even a remote chance he will be found innocent and be released?

Will he be allowed full freedom to present his case? Including the rather extenuating circumstances of being the number one target of the The Bush Torture Program?

It would be nice to think that a clever lawyer could use his case to expose the torture he has undergone, get up in front of the judge and do a Clarence Darrow (or a Spencer Tracy version of him) and lay out the whole program of approved torture from the Black Sites to the question of where indeed his children are? Will that lawyer get his chance to do so? Will this Trial of the Century be publicized and on CourtTV like OJ’s was?

Will he be allowed to appeal and have both the cases for what actually happened on 9/11 and The Bush Torture Program laid out before the highest court in the land? Would THAT be publicized?

Or will the whole proceeding be shrouded in the State Secrecy that the Obama Administration seems to love so much?

Or perhaps, lol, this is Obama and Holder’s eleventh dimensional chess move to indeed get the prosecutions for torture underway and finally settle what did happen on 9/11 through the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed???


Open Mind


Part 2. NYT-American workers are OVERpaid (compared to other wage slaves globally)

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    A hat tip to Inky99, one of my favorite bloggers out

This story was so BIG I had to expand on it.

    Got that Tiny Tim? Mr. Scrooge isn’t the problem, the problem is that overpaid bum, Cratchett.

American Wages Out of Balance


Published: November 10, 2009

American workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive employees elsewhere doing the same work. If the global economy is to get into balance, that gap must close.

New York

Bold text added by the diarist

    So how much more do the Masters Of the Universe at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere think that Americans should be paid comapred to the outright slaves and other indentured servants throughout the world? Join me below the fold to find out, and do’t forget your torches and pitchforks.

Financial Reform Should Be Adaptive, Not Punitive

Flying under the radar to a large extent is Congress’ attempt to reform and regulate our country’s financial system.  The yeas and nays are quite predictably divided along party lines and several powerful entities who stand to lose from reform have, of course, loudly registered their complaints.  Thus far, the going has been slow, in part due to internal Democratic party squabbling and a failure to find consensus among high ranking committee members of different parties.  Despite this, it is far more likely that something soundly sweeping and resolute will arrive from fiduciary legislation than the hyper-politicized, emotionally overwrought, and contentious Health Care bill now currently dwelling in a state of hopeful limbo.  This is in part due to the fact that the struggle to reform monetary policy doesn’t hold nearly the same degree of attention in the eyes of the public.  Yet, as would be expected, allegations have surfaced claiming that certain crucial legislators actively involved in the process have deep pockets and a willingness to court conflict of interest-bearing accounts.          

We often refer to corruption as though it is some relatively recent development unique to our times.  This is part of our compulsion to assume that we live in the worst of all possible worlds and that the past promised a purity never to be regained in the modern age.  Not so, not so.  Looking behind us a few decades, if not a few centuries, will reveal a wealth of similarities between these days and others.  Though the scope of lobbyist influence and dubiously ethical campaign contributions are the latest bone of contention and face of evil, the basic concept has never changed.  In particular, the story of the Second Bank of the United States and its dissolution can prove to be instructive.  Established following the War of 1812 to shore up the value of the dollar, curb inflation, and to manage the nation’s massive debt incurred after the conclusion of a conflict with no clear winner or loser, the Bank of the United States achieved its stated purpose, but like so many financial fixes it also provided short term success and long term woe.  

After the war, despite the debt, the United States also experienced an economic boom, due to the devastation of the Napoleonic Wars. In particular, because of the damage to Europe’s agricultural sector, the U.S. agricultural sector underwent an expansion. The Bank aided this boom through its lending, which encouraged speculation in land. This lending allowed almost anyone to borrow money and speculate in land, sometimes doubling or even tripling the prices of land. The land sales for 1819, alone, totaled some 55 million acres (220,000 kmĀ²). With such a boom, hardly anyone noticed the widespread fraud occurring at the Bank as well as the economic bubble that had been created.[3]

Source:  Wikipedia.

It should be noted that the Bank of the United States was not a national bank owned and managed by the United States of America.  It is fortunate that the term “socialism” was not coined until a few years later, else its opponents lob that charge in its direction.  It was, instead, a privately held banking corporation that happened to be the repository of the entirety of federal tax revenues.  As one might concede, the massive amount of control, influence, and capital it had over the federal government as a result sent Jacksonian Democrats into a tirade.  However, the bank’s National Republican supporters stood firm.  That genius public speaker, living legend, and intransigent Jackson opponent Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts was on retainer as the bank’s legal counsel and was also Director of its Boston branch probably made absolutely no impact upon the proceedings, nor did the fact likely influence his allegiance.  That several other Congressional leaders periodically received large loans from the bank in exchange for their votes, since extending the bank’s charter required periodic congressional resolution was also an inconsequential, trifling matter.    

Eventual Chief Justice and Dred Scott decision maker Roger Taney served as Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury under Andrew Jackson before winning confirmation.  His own recollections of the workings of the Bank are as pertinent and revealing now as they were then.  In particular, Taney noted how a congressman sworn to oppose the institution one day cast a rather surprising vote in its favor the next.  As it turned out, the Bank granted him a loan of $20,000 on generous terms, no small sum for the 1830’s.  Instead of coming down harshly on the congressman, Taney takes a more philosophical stance, attempting to understand the power of rationalization and the inner workings of the mind rather than overt moralizing.    

Now I do not mean to say that he was directly bribed to give his vote.  From the character he sustained and from what I know of him I think he would have resented anything that he regarded as an attempt to corrupt him.  But he wanted the money, and felt grateful for the favor, and perhaps thought that an institution which was so useful to him, and had behaved with such kindness, could not be injurious or dangerous to the public, and that it would be as well to continue it.  Men when under the influence of interest or passion often delude themselves thoughtlessly, and do not always acknowledge even to themselves the motives upon which they really act…It was one of the dangerous arising from the mammoth money power, that its very duties as collecting and disbursing agent brought it constantly in contact with members of Congress and other public functionaries and made it acquainted with their wants and enabled it to place them under obligations and create a feeling of dependence and even gratitude without the direct and offensive offer of a bribe.  


-Source:  Dorman B. Eaton

The North American Review, Vol. 135, No. 310 (Sep., 1882), pp. 197-219

To backtrack a few decades, one needs to understand the mistakes of the First Bank of the United States and how its failure influenced the construction and formulation of the Second.  Then, as now, economists were split as to the ways to revive the economy and shore up the system to prevent future failures.  Recessions, as evidenced by our current one, have a multitude of causes and a combination of events in tandem are what dictate severity.  Predictably, economists are often split along ideological faults since political allegiance dictates where one assigns blame.  It is another instance of wishful thinking on our part to assume that some school of thought or occupation deeply rooted in politics and indebted to allegiance might either rise above or be utterly unaffected by partisanship.  What few can argue, however, are the facts.      

In the summer of 1818, the national bank managers realized the bank’s massive over-extension, and instituted a policy of contraction and the calling in of loans. This recalling of loans simultaneously curtailed land sales and slowed the U.S. production boom due to the recovery of Europe. The result was the Panic of 1819…[4]

-Source:  Wikipedia

Most economists agree that this was the first instance where a market based economy in this country began its inevitable cycle of boom and bust.  What transpired as a result of this Panic were that many people lost substantial sums of money, unemployment soared, and it took years for the country to dig its way out.  Returning to the present day, each time a recession or severe economic downturn hits, there is always a renewed push among some to favor specie (gold or precious metals) over paper currency.  Recently, Ron Paul and many Libertarians proposed a return to the Gold Standard and to a solid backing of debt rather than the speculative system now in place.  This same distrust of monetary policy led President Jackson and his followers to be initially suspicious of the Second Bank and when instance after instance of corruption and quid pro quo came to light, he vowed to kill it, and through force of will and stubbornness, he inevitably did.  

A sweeping example of uncompromising executive power, Jackson’s act also ushered in the pervasive and persistent notion of populism, whereby the desires of the monied elite were pitted against those of the exploited masses.  The President’s supporters initially cheered the decision to dissolve the Bank as a victory for the average citizen.  His opponents grumbled amongst themselves and made the first efforts to form their own party, one which would be known as the Whigs.  However, it needs noting that the only thing truly unifying them together was hatred of a common enemy in the form of Jackson.  The never-healed, nor resolved deep fissures within the Whigs proved to be their undoing, and the party had relatively modest success on a national stage, eventually dissolving and being absorbed into the new Republican party around the time of the Civil War.      

An unforeseen consequence of the demise of the Bank was a destabilization of the entire financial system which contributed to another Panic, this one beginning in 1837.  Some scholars assert that had the Bank been allowed to stay in existence, what became a five year recession would not have occurred in the first place.  Others believe that the decision had a minimal impact and that other trends and causes were to blame.  Still, the lesson to be learned from this is that, despite the undeniable scope of unethical conduct perpetrated by politicians, making a change too sweeping without a firm sense and understanding of how to skillfully and lastingly rebuild a house of cards on sounder ground is bound to have negative consequences.  Financial systems in our modern economy are beholden to trends, currents, cross-currents, and influences that are both complex and completely in flux at all times.  We have seen recently the destruction of unilateral decisions made impulsively and how their detrimental impact lasts well beyond the tenure of person who put them into place.    

Establishing sufficient regulation and sufficient safeguards have serious limitations because of the way the system is structured.  The value of almost every commodity is up for debate and one need only consult the exchange rate between foreign currencies to observe that.  At this moment, the value of the U.S. dollar is changing value slightly, but nonetheless notably from second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour.  Provided our markets and other world markets happen to be actively trading, this is to be expected.  No amount of well-meaning legislation will prevent another recession, unless it proposes a credible way to address human fallibility.  However, this does not excuse complicity with the very entities reformers and regulators seek to hold accountable for their actions, either.  What this does mean is that financial reform needs to start with an educated guess that will undeniably have to be revised over time.  Greed finds a way to reassert itself, but so do the flaws in a supremely complicated system beholden to influencing events no one can predict ahead of time.  Some will guess correctly and some will guess incorrectly, but the best strategy is to be adaptive rather than punitive.

Reality Manifesto

“So dear, what do you want for Christmas?”

“One of these bad boys.”

“Are you out of your mind, that’s a car payment, no that’s a whole vehicle.”

“Ya but it displays one whole gigahertz!”

Bad Boy

10Khz to 3 GHz, AM,FM,just about any mode of electromagnetic modulation, a receiver and spectrum analyzer with signal intensity all in one unit.

And if you can get a government PO the U version will let you get your neighbor’s cell phone calls.  Technology really has come a long way.

Friday the 13th: On this day….

On this day in 1968 the Beatles’ animated movie “Yellow Submarine” premiered in the U.S.


Gen. Eric Shinseki: Short and Open Discussion

If history judges correctly, one of the Best of the Military Leaders of these past, failed policies of civilian and military leaders, to present times one name will stand out above all the others as a true Understanding Leader and that will be one General Eric Shinseki. Those of us in the present already know much about what this military leader was put through and by whom, but he has been brought back to lead again, lead in the way he seems to have also done, with compassion and understanding for those he has been placed in command of, throughout his military careerer and his life.

Docudharma Times Friday November 13

Friday’s Headlines:

Afghan Enclave Offers Model to Rebuild, and Rebuff Taliban

In Canada, a Royal Yawn for Prince Charles

White House counsel poised to give up post

2 Japanese subs sunk after World War II found

1930s journalist Gareth Jones to have story retold

Medvedev promises new era for Russian democracy

General who beat Tamil Tigers quits to challenge the President

Pakistan spy agency struck by militants in Peshawar

Iranian doctor Arash Hejazi who tried to rescue Neda Soltan tells of wounds that never heal

Israel challenged on Gazan’s ejection from West Bank

Brazil celebrates 45% reduction in Amazon deforestation

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