Thursday, April 29, 2010

A New Low for Seditionists in America

I am assuming I am speaking of Americans. But, who's to say?

Apparently a Facebook group has put up a page, praying for Barack Obama's demise:

Dear Lord, This year you took my favorite actor, Patrick Swayzie. You took my favorite actress, Farah Fawcett. You took my favorite singer, Michael Jackson. I just wanted to let you know, my favorite president is Barack Obama. Amen
This Facebook group has passed 1,000,000 members. That's what they say. I say their presence on Facebook violates rules:
.....You will not post content that: is hateful....

..... You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious ....
Happily, another group has posted a Facebook account which petitions To Clean Up Facebook, starting with the removal of the seditionists. I have signed their petition (with real name). No more Facebook for me. Either the scum goes or I go.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Carry -vs- Open Society

A News Item: Armed Man, Arrested At Airport Where Obama Was Leaving

An armed man was spotted at Asheville, North Carolina airport parking lot just after Air Force One departed Sunday. When confronted by a police officer he wanted to see the president.

Joseph Sean McVey, 23, of Coshocton, Ohio, is charged with "going armed in terror of the public", a misdemeanor, said Asheville Regional Airport Police Capt. Kevan Smith.

Security was heightened at the airport because President Barack Obama was leaving after spending the weekend vacationing in Asheville. He was headed to a memorial service for 29 West Virginia coal miners killed in an explosion.

At about 2 p.m., airport police saw McVey get out of a maroon car with Ohio plates and that he had a sidearm, a Springfield XD 40 handgun. Both airport police and the Secret Service questioned him and he was taken into custody.

The suspect was nowhere near the president's plane, which had just departed, and was in a rental car return lot that is open to the public.

His car was equipped with clear LED law enforcement-style strobe lights in the front and rear dash, Smith said. The car also had a mounted digital camera in the front window, four large antennas on the trunk lid, and under the steering wheel was a working siren box. Smith said McVey was not in law enforcement.

When McVey got out of the car, he was listening to a handheld scanner and radio that had a remote earpiece, Smith said. Police said he was monitoring local agencies and had formulas for rifle scopes on a note in his cup holder.

McVey gave authorities an Ohio driver's license, but a computer check failed to show the number was valid, police said.

When Officer Kaleb Rice asked him what he was doing, McVey told him he heard the president was in town and wanted to see him.

Max Henkel, a resident who was at the airport to see Obama's departure, told the newspaper,

They searched him and it looked like he had an empty pistol holster on his side, and I think I heard one of the officers say he had had a gun. When I realized what was going on, I was flabbergasted.
Investigators have yet to determine whether he was attempting to target the President.

Yes! there must have been many other possibilities which would occur to a reasonable person as to McVey's intended business with the President.

Friday, April 23, 2010

George Soros on Goldman Sachs & Derivatives

The US Security and Exchange Commission's civil suit against Goldman Sachs will be vigorously contested by the defendant. It is interesting to speculate which side will win; but we will not know the result for months. Irrespective of the eventual outcome, however, the case has far-reaching implications for the financial reform legislation Congress is considering.

Whether or not Goldman is guilty, the transaction in question clearly had no social benefit. It involved a complex synthetic security derived from existing mortgage-backed securities by cloning them into imaginary units that mimicked the originals. This synthetic collateralized debt obligation did not finance the ownership of any additional homes or allocate capital more efficiently; it merely swelled the volume of mortgage-backed securities that lost value when the housing bubble burst. The primary purpose of the transaction was to generate fees and commissions.

This is a clear demonstration of how derivatives and synthetic securities have been used to create imaginary value out of thin air. More triple A CDOs were created than there were underlying triple A assets. This was done on a large scale in spite of the fact that all of the parties involved were sophisticated investors. The process went on for years and culminated in a crash that caused wealth destruction amounting to trillions of dollars. It cannot be allowed to continue. The use of derivatives and other synthetic instruments must be regulated even if all the parties are sophisticated investors. Ordinary securities must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission before they can be traded. Synthetic securities ought to be similarly registered, although the task could be assigned to a different authority, such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Derivatives can serve many useful purposes, but they also contain hidden dangers. For instance, they can pile up hidden imbalances in supply or demand which may suddenly be revealed when a threshold is breached. This is true of so-called knockout options, used in currency hedging. It was also true of the portfolio insurance programs that caused the New York Stock Exchange's Black Monday in October 1987. The subsequent introduction of circuit breakers tacitly acknowledged that derivatives can cause discontinuities, but the proper conclusions were not drawn.

Credit default swaps are particularly suspect. They are supposed to provide insurance against default to bondholders. But because they are freely tradable, they can be used to mount bear raids; in addition to insurance they also provide a license to kill. Their use ought to be confined to those who have a insurable interest in the bonds of a country or company.

It will be the task of regulators to understand derivatives and synthetic securities and refuse to allow their creation if they cannot fully evaluate their systemic risks. That task cannot be left to investors, contrary to the diktats of the market fundamentalist dogma that prevailed until recently.

Derivatives traded on exchanges should be registered as a class. Tailor-made derivatives would have to be registered individually, with regulators obliged to understand the risks involved. Registration is laborious and time-consuming, and would discourage the use of over-the-counter derivatives. Tailor-made products could be put together from exchange-traded instruments. This would prevent a recurrence of the abuses which contributed to the 2008 crash.

Requiring derivatives and synthetic securities to be registered would be simple and effective; yet the legislation currently under consideration contains no such requirement. The Senate Agriculture Committee proposes blocking deposit-taking banks from making markets in swaps. This is an excellent proposal which would go a long way in reducing the interconnectedness of markets and preventing contagion, but it would not regulate derivatives.

The five big banks which serve as marketmakers and account for over 95 per cent of the US's outstanding over-the-counter transactions are likely to oppose it because it would hit their profits. It is more puzzling that some multinational corporations are also opposed. The only explanation is that tailor-made derivatives can facilitate tax avoidance and manipulation of earnings. These considerations ought not to influence the legislation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stand Up Democrats & Call Out them Republicants!

Mr. Will "take no prisoners" Hart got to me today.

I am sick and tired of being told by the MSM, "Hart-ists", and the Weimar Republican'ts that those on the liberal left and those on the rabid right are equally to blame for the increasingly divisive political atmosphere that pervades our country. Read Hart's comments here.

To say that leftys and rightys are equally provocative and venomous is patently untrue. The Republican'ts are united in following the Rules found in their Gospel of PublikSpeak, one central Rule being: If you have nothing constructive to offer, create BIG lies, REPEAT them as often as possible. and ALWAYS speak with a UNIFIED public voice. The Repubs promulgate their lies and fantastical fear-mongering with one united - VERY EFFECTIVE - voice.

The Dems seem to not understand that words truly matter when shaping the public's perceptions of an issue; and that first perceptions can be very resistant to being changed, so it is important to be the first to shape the public's perception of an issue. An example is illustrative: Too many Americans still believe the Big Bush lie that Sadam and the Iraqis were in cahoots with those who actually planned and attacked us on 9/11. That is a big fat untruth - a fantastical lie made up so that Bush could become a "War President". and thus steal a second term.

Compare the way the Repubs united behind Bush with how the current Congress has treated President Obama. The Congressional Dems have been more united in opposing President Obama than in helping to pass his agenda. Obama understands that our nation's values and economy were grievously assaulted; that despotic ruination was inflicted upon middle class Americans during the years that Busheney reigned. He needs and deserves to have help from his fellow Democrats in the Congress.

Preferring to accentuate their areas of disagreement, rather than seeking areas of agreement and actively working together to overcome the obstructionism of the Republican'ts, it seems that the Dems are repeating the same mistake they made when Clinton was President. The Dems need to join hands and stand united against the rabid Republican't politics of personal (and increasingly, their dangerously incendiary politics of national) destruction. Sadly, the Dems, with the notable exceptions of Congressmen Grayson and Weiner and Senator Boxer, have not attempted to detoxify the Republican'ts outlandish misrepresentations of Obama and of the overwhelming mess these very same Repubs created and now try to blame upon the Congressional Democrats.

Too many Dems have ceded their power to shape the public's political perceptions to the Palins, Becks, Bachmanns, Rushes, Roves, and Boniers, who are only too happy to shout out their toxic messages of Distraction, Sedition, and Treason. After years of hearing only these strident lying voices dominating the public airways and all of the MSM, it seems that it is no longer possible to have a respectful and constructive dialogue between and among liberals and conservatives to solve the many difficult problems that we face as a nation.

No, Mr. Hart, you are mistaken. The Dems and the Repubs are NOT equally adept at gaming the public by demonizing our government and creating fear-mongering lies that enrage and inflame the uninformed and the disturbed among us. The Dems do not "give as good as they get", Mr. Hart. Nor are they Chomsky's "fops".

Rather, the Dems are behaving as if they were survivors of a terrible trauma - as if they were abused spouses. Indeed, too many Dems seem shell-shocked and stupefied by the sheer number and the enormity of the fabrications, distortions, and outright lies that the Repubs use to distract the voters from noticing their paucity of constructive solutions to our nation's pressing problems.

In truth, the Dems are actually very capable of remembering how to govern effectively and fairly. They need to remember that they truly DO possess a spine and a voice that could make a difference, if joined with others of like minds. Then they need to speak truthfully to all of us who still believe in the power of responsible and principled government to improve the daily lives of its citizens. They need to remember that they have been elected to help our beloved country recover from the havoc wreaked upon her. And then, they need to find a unified voice that can denounce the Repub's dirty little games of blame, incitement, demagoguery, lies and shameless hypocrisy.

And, it wouldn't hurt to tell us about what they have been able to accomplish - in spite of the "Just Say No" Republican'ts.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today Is American Paranoid Putsch Day

What's going on here?
On Monday, April 19th, the 15th anniversary of the Waco Siege of 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, two rallies will take place in and around Washington, D.C. Those attending the Second Amendment March will gather on the grounds of the Washington Monument. While those going to the Restore the Constitution rally will meet first at Ft. Hunt National Park in Virginia and then travel to the banks of the Potomac River, about a mile from the National Mall, so they can “step up to the edge” of D.C. with their openly carried handguns and military-grade rifles.

In 2008, the Supreme Court, for the first time in sixty years, ruled on the Second Amendment. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court ruled that
like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
The ruling made it absolutely clear that the right to have a gun in your home for protection exists side by side with the right to regulate the purchase, possession and carrying of guns.

But this ruling is not good enough for the organizers of the Second Amendment March and the Restore the Constitution rally. These self-appointed militia members have decided that they should be the ones to determine when and where it is appropriate to use a weapon when they are out in public.

They have determined that they have the judiciousness and prudence to be able to establish when they may fire a gun and end another person’s life. They have decided that they have the right to say when the government is a tyranny simply because they lost to the majority. And they are gathering in D.C. to tell elected officials that they need to be accountable to them and that “their jobs and their very lives depend on it.”

April 19th is the anniversary of the start of the American Revolutionary War at the battles of Lexington and Concord. But it is also the anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. It is the day chosen by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to carry out the most destructive act of domestic terrorism on American soil. McVeigh and Nichols killed 168 people, including 19 children under the age of 6, and wounded more than 680 in order to drive home their anti-government message.

It is not a coincident that this is also the date chosen by the Second Amendment March and the Restore the Constitution Rally. These demonstrations fan the flames of violence, intimidate state and federal government, and send the message that armed Americans should challenge and defy our sense of public order and the rule of law.

Therefore, we must ask, are these groups patriots or just psychotic?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Russian Short Story

A story appearing in assorted sources on Google News caught my eye yesterday. It exuded such a poignancy for me that I have not been able to get it out of my mind. I have cobbled it together from a variety of sources in the hopes that readers might share my burden or - even better - free me from the overwhelming sense irony that engulfs me.

A Russian judge reportedly known for his tough verdicts against skinheads has been killed in a contract-style shooting that has shocked officials and activists combating ultranationalist violence.

A gunman shot judge Eduard Chuvashov in the stairwell of his Moscow apartment building as he was leaving for work early on April 12. The judge was shot three times. Sources in Russian law-enforcement said that nationalist groups were behind the attack.

In February, Mr Chuvashov presided over the trial of 12 members of an ultra-nationalist group called the "White Wolves" who were accused of a series of gruesome murders of migrant workers, mostly from Central Asia. The victims had been bludgeoned to death or stabbed many times. The killings were recorded on mobile phones and posted online.

Mr. Chuvashov found all of the gang members guilty and sentenced them to up to the maximum sentence of 23 years in prison. Last week, he jailed another three members of a skinhead group for racially motivated murders.

Mr Chuvashov had been due to hear the case of a former policeman who had joined a radical leftist organization and was accused of terrorism, according to an official at the Moscow City Court.

An ultranationalist website had been inciting hatred against Chuvashov on the Internet and listed his name on a so-called list of "enemies of the people" last month. This post generated a huge number of aggressive comments.
His picture and audio recordings of the trials were posted on radical websites where the judge was listed as "a danger to all Russians."

Chuvashov's assassination recalls other recent events.

A prominent lawyer involved in skinhead cases, Stanislav Markelov, was shot dead in central Moscow last year. Two Russian nationalists were arrested and charged with his murder. In 2004, an expert in far-right groups, Nikolai Girenko, was also assassinated. His killers shot him with a shotgun through the door to his flat. Neo-Nazi groups have warned they will target officials unless what they see as an unacceptable flow of immigration is halted.

Alexander Brod, director of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights and a leading anti-racism campaigner , said,

Revenge by nationalist groups is certainly one of the most likely reasons for his killing. In the past couple of years, judges and prosecutors have begun to crack down on nationalist crimes and take them seriously. It is possible that one of these groups hired a killer to scare others lawyers and judges who work on similar cases.
Activists say official indifference and widespread xenophobia have allowed racist violence to flourish. Vladimir Mironov, a retired judge, says intimidation and violence against judges were once unimaginable.
Judges were never afraid of anyone. There was a public agreement that judges are untouchable, that they are the law.

When we worked in court, we didn't have any bailiffs or officers of the court, at best a police officer stood at the entrance, and not in all places. We weren't afraid of anyone.
Sova, a Moscow-based hate crime monitoring group, estimates at least 71 people were killed in hate crimes in Russia last year and more than 330 others wounded. The group's deputy director, Galina Kozhevnikova, says far-right nationalists are increasingly targeting judges, lawyers, rights defenders, and journalists.
The turning point came in December 2008, when almost all more or less aggressive [nationalist] groups began openly declaring an antigovernment terror.

Their logic is: 'If we kill migrant workers, no one cares. But if we kill famous people it has repercussions, we demonstrate our strength, our impunity, our audacity, and it is a good advertisement for our movement.'
So, that's the story in Russia, where all the militias are unregulated.

And, I'm so relieved that we Americans are protected by the Second Amendment to our Constitution which ensures that all of our militias are 'well-regulated'.

Monday, April 12, 2010

News Item From Afghanistan: The Gang Who Doesn't Know Who to Shoot

TimesOnLine: Nato troops killed four civilians and wounded 18 others when they fired on a bus in Afghanistan today, the Afghan government has claimed.

President Hamid Karzai said that he “strongly condemned” the shooting in the southern city of Kandahar.

“Opening fire on a passenger bus is an act against Nato’s commitment to protect civilians and is by no means justifiable,” he said in a statement.

International forces attacked the bus as it approached a Nato convoy early this morning. Gul Mohammad, a witness, said he heard the firing and saw the bus skid on the road.
When I arrived here I saw they [the troops] were taking out the wounded and a helicopter taking them somewhere. The convoy was there. I think the distance was 70 to 80 metres and they opened fire for no reason.
The deaths are the latest in a series of controversial incidents involving foreign troops deployed in Afghanistan to help the Western-backed Afghan Government defeat the Taleban insurgency

Civilian casualties are a source of anger among Afghans and are often used by politicians and the Taleban to whip up public opposition to the 126,000 US and Nato forces based in the country.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What Is Jon Voight's Game?

After the umpires robbed the Dodgers last night, I miss-flipped my remote to the Fox channel and heard this:

A letter to the American people

"In one year the American people are witnessing the greatest lie that is cleverly orchestrated by President Obama and his Administration. The lie is a potent aggression that feeds the needs of people who either have not educated themselves enough to understand the assault upon us all, or the very poor and needy who live to be taken care of. President Obama feeds these people poison, giving them the idea they are entitled to take from the wealthier who have lived and worked in a democracy which understands that capitalism is the only truth that keeps a nation healthy and fed.

Now, the lie goes very deep, and President Obama has been cleverly trained in the Alinsky method and it is very important that every American knows what that is. It is a Socialist/Marxist teaching and with it, little-by-little, he rapes this nation, taking down our defenses and making new language for Islamic extremists. The world who looked up to us as a symbol of hope and prosperity now wonders what will become of the entire world if American is losing its power. The American people who understand exactly what is taking place have come together in the thousands, vowing to try to stay together as a unit of love and freedom for all men and women from all walks of life, shivering to think that this once great nation will be a third world company.

This will be the first President to ever weaken the United States of America. President Obama uses his aggression and arrogance for his own agenda against the will of the American people, when he should be using his will and aggression against our enemies. Every loving American for peace and truth and the security of our nation must come out and join the Tea Parties in their states. The opposition will continue their tactics, they will lie and plant their own bullies amongst us. Everyone must pay close attention to who stands next to them. We can weed out the liars and agitators. Let us all stay in God's light. Let no man put asunder. We can and we will prevail. God bless us all."

-Jon Voight
The redfaced text represents Midnight Cowboy's actual word, before he corrected his Freudian slip.

This washed-up actor is clearly looking for another script. Since no one is writing for him, he's trying his best to write his own. The question is, what would be an appropriate title for his next original screen play?

Friday, April 9, 2010

They Hate Us for Our Policies, Stupid!

I shouldn't have to remind my sophisticated readers that CATO is a libertarian think tank - not a liberal institution. So Doug Bandow's presence on staff there is significant. Today he publishes, Blowback: The Lessons of the Moscow Bombings for America.

He states that Bush's explanation for terrorism "they hate us for our freedoms" is bunk:

after 9/11 President George W. Bush and his neoconservative supporters reassured Americans: we were attacked because we are beautiful. Evil, nasty, mean foreigners hate Americans because we are free, fabulous, nice, selfless, and all-around good guys, busily spreading freedom, liberty, capitalism, democracy, and the hallowed American way around the world.
Terrorism long has been a common tool used by individuals, groups, and occasionally nations to promote political ends. Why some people hate other people often is complicated. Nevertheless, the historical pattern is clear. Terrorism has been deployed against Russian Tsars, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, British colonial officials, and Algerian governments from French colonial to recent military. Basque and Irish separatists employed assassination and bombing. Until Iraq, the most promiscuous suicide bombers were Tamils in Sri Lanka. Needless to say, in none of these cases did terrorism occur in response to American freedom or other values.
How about American foreign policy? Do you think?
More tellingly, it is impossible to deny that U.S. foreign policy has inadvertently created enemies and turned Americans into targets. For instance, nearly three decades ago President Ronald Reagan intervened in a multi-sided civil war in Lebanon, taking the side of the minority Christian government which controlled little more than the capital of Beirut. The American military actively targeted Muslim and Druze factions; the U.S.S. New Jersey bombarded Lebanese villages. It should have surprised no one when the U.S. embassy and Marine Corps barracks were attacked. Had Washington kept its forces at home, Islamic terrorists likely would have stayed home as well. They would have had no cause to pack their bags and head to America to wreak havoc and murder.
Bandow cites carnage caused by more recent American foreign policy. Because I have already dealt with that extensively in these pages (and because I don't hate America), I'll skip to Bandow's concluding paragraphs:
There is no reason to expect Afghans, or Muslims elsewhere, to cheerfully wave off such deaths. We Americans may believe that we are beautiful. But others around the world likely are less convinced as the U.S. government is killing people, supporting tyrants, and engaging in other less than beautiful behavior. The fact that we believe, however reasonably, such conduct to be necessary--that "the price is worth it"--does not mean others will agree with us.

Terrorism cannot be justified, whether committed by Russian anarchists, Tamil Tigers, Basque separatists, the Irish Republican Army, Chechen militants, al-Qaeda, Palestinians, or Afghan and Iraqi insurgents. But terrorism can be understood and explained. And we should use that knowledge in making policy. It may be inevitable that the U.S. government will make some enemies. However, Washington should stop carelessly making unnecessary enemies.

America is not invulnerable. Washington cannot expect to act in the world without consequence. Jesus insisted that people "count the cost" before following him (Luke 14:28). Policymakers should do the same before they casually thrust the U.S. into military conflicts, political struggles, and other volatile controversies abroad. It turns out that the cost of global intervention can be high indeed.
We, like the Russians, reap what we sow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One More Time: Rethinking Afghanistan

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute published a laudable piece in Huffington Post over the Easter weekend. I agreed with 90% of his message:
The American military has been constantly engaged since the end of the Cold War.
.... Most of these wars, interventions, and potential actions were justified as being in America's security interest. When that argument was implausible to start ... U.S. policymakers quickly played the humanitarian card. The U.S. military was killing and destroying to promote moral ends.

Unfortunately, war is rarely humane. It certainly has not been humanitarian in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

In fact, we should be ashamed of the horror that the U.S. government has loosed in our name. In Iraq, for instance, estimates of Iraqi deaths since 2003 start at 100,000 and race upward. The number of maimed or injured almost certainly is far greater. Murders, kidnappings, beatings, and theft reached epidemic proportions.

Millions of Iraqis have fled their homes and many their country. The indigenous Christian community has been devastated. The disruption of lives and families has been pervasive. It behooves American hawks to think carefully before extolling their beatific works from the safety of their offices in Washington.

Afghan casualties are fewer, but rising. Estimates of civilians killed start in the low thousands and approach 10,000. Many more have been wounded and social dislocations are widespread. Coalition commanders and Afghan officials routinely call for greater care in military operations to reduce civilian casualties.

None of this is surprising. By its nature war is horrible. Even the best efforts to limit harm to civilians -- and the U.S. military does a much better job than the armed forces of other nations in past wars -- cannot prevent the innocent from suffering.

And one cannot blame American military personnel. If their government is going to send them into combat, then they must be allowed to protect themselves, even when that means noncombatants will be caught in the crossfire.

But the cost of war, especially for those on whose behalf we supposedly are fighting, requires asking whether the conflict can be justified. Consider Afghanistan, where the president's escalation inevitably will result in more civilian deaths.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, recently made an astonishing admission of civilian deaths, so often euphemistically referred to as "collateral damage." At a meeting with U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal discussed the problem of shootings at checkpoints: "We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force." He added that he knew of no case when "we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it."

Just what are we doing in Afghanistan?

Yes, the Taliban are bad news, as was Saddam Hussein. Taliban guerrillas, like Iraqi insurgents, also kill innocents; terrorists have killed indiscriminately in both nations. But it was the U.S. invasions which triggered or spread the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively; it is the continuing American presence which results in shooting "an amazing number of people" in Afghanistan. And that doesn't count the "collateral damage" from bombing missions, drone strikes, and other military actions.

War is sometimes necessary despite its costs. Ousting the Taliban was imperative after the Kabul government provided hospitality to Osama bin-Laden and al-Qaeda as the group trained to attack Americans.

But that is where America's vital interests end. Attempting to build a strong central state allied with the West is a quixotic venture and would offer little value even if achieved. There is no more benefit for the U.S. to wage war, killing partisans and innocents alike, in order to deliver control of Afghanistan to Hamid Karzai and his warlord allies rather than to the Taliban and other warlords.

A resurgent Taliban is unlikely to again host a terrorist organization whose activities could bring down the wrath of the American military. Moreover, anti-American terrorists can operate from anywhere -- not just failed states like Somalia or weak nations like Pakistan and Yemen, but also countries throughout Western Europe.

These days Afghanistan has little to do with U.S. security in any form. If anything, the conflict exacerbates the problem of terrorism by reinforcing the terrorist meme of Washington warring against devout Muslims.

Finally, the war cannot be justified as a form of humanitarian intervention. The conflict is horrid. It will be horrid without the U.S., as fighting likely would continue. But it would be less horrid for America if U.S. personnel no longer were being killed or shooting "an amazing number of people," none of whom had "proven to have been a real threat."

The Obama administration should be withdrawing U.S. troops, not expanding America's force presence in Afghanistan. When considering war, officials should bear in mind the Hippocratic Oath: first do no harm. We are failing to meet that obligation in Afghanistan.
I've added boldface to emphasize points to which I attach importance.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Further Evidence Obama's Brave Attempt to Rescue Bush's Occupation of Afghanistan Is Unsustainable

Murray Hill for Congress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, February 25 2010

CONTACT: Designated Human Eric Hensal
(301) 637-2119 (o) 202-262-9152 (c)

Campaign Manager William Klein

Murray Hill Inc. Appeals Voter Registration Denial by Maryland Board of Elections

Supporters Meet in Annapolis to Protest Premise that Corporate Candidate is "Not a Human Being"

The campaign of the first corporation to run for Congress has shaken the political establishment across state and party lines. In the latest development, the Maryland State Board of Elections rejected Murray Hill Inc's application to register as a Republican in Montgomery County, so that the corporation can run in the party primary for Congress in Maryland's 8th Congressional District.

On Wednesday, March 24, at 12:30 PM, Murray Hill Inc will formally appeal this ruling by submitting a request to the Maryland State Board of Elections, 151 West Street, Suite 200, Annapolis MD. The corporation's "astroturf" supporters are expected to be on hand as Designated Human Eric Hensal and Campaign Manager William Klein file the appeal.

In its letter to the Board of Elections, Murray Hill Inc. states:

In January 2010, Murray Hill Incorporated applied for voter registration in Montgomery County. On March 10, 2010, Voter Registration Division Director Ms. Mary Cramer Wagner ordered the Montgomery County Board of Elections to not process our application to vote. Ms. Wagner asserted that 'A corporation “designating” a human does not meet the qualifications to register.'

Her direction to the Montgomery County Board of Elections rests on the implied notion that only a “bodied” person may vote and she fails to address the core issue—corporations have a right to vote and run for office, based on the expansion of First Amendment rights defined by the majority opinion in Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U. S. ____ (2010).

Our decision to register Murray Hill Incorporated resulted from our review of Citizens United. In our opinion, the First Amendment rights extended to corporations brought civil rights law to a point where a corporation, as a corporate person, must be allowed to vote and hold public office. Even in dissent, Justice Stevens recognized a right for corporations to vote under the majority's decision, saying “Under the majority’s view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.

In recent weeks, the Murray Hill Inc. campaign has attracted national publicity, from a front-page story in the Washington Post (March 13, 2010) to news coverage on NPR's All Things Considered, MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show, the Thom Hartmann and Alan Colmes radio programs, among other media. More than 200,000 viewers have seen the campaign's YouTube video, and over 10,000 supporters have become Facebook fans.

Restricting the civil rights of corporate persons is un-American, unconstitutional and anathema to the fundamental principles of our democracy. This discriminatory ruling by the Maryland State Board of Elections cannot stand.

Happy Easter, Everyone, But.....

News Item From Afghanistan

More evidence that NATO is clueless in Afghanistan and that Obama's project to rescue Bush's occupation there is unsustainable.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Problemas Causados Pelo Desmatamento

Another problem caused by deforestation

Every day we cut down more and more trees! Stop deforestation now!

Financial Reform for Dummies!

I just heard Countdown's Keith Olbermann in conversation with Chris Hayes of The Nation. It was an instructive conversation, so I thought I'd share a few of Chris' comments, along with some personal observations.

In 2009, the top 25 Hedge Fund Managers combined income from bonuses was 25 Billion dollars. One such HFM, David Tepper, made 4 Billion dollars.

These bonus payments have resulted in an extreme income disparity, wiping out America's middle class. This time-bomb of a financial bubble was created by Reagan, expanded upon by the congressional Repubs, and was ably assisted by Bill Clinton and the two Bushes. It imploded in 2008.

The financial losses, the enduring emotional pain, and the devastating havoc inflicted upon ordinary Americans were caused by the Repubs insistence upon dismantling FDR's regulatory safeguards which had provided America's middle class with decades of increasing prosperity.

The rush to deregulate our financial markets has resulted in the "financialization" of our economy, and "compensation packages" enjoyed by these 25 top HFMs among others. Such lavish compensation vitiates the revered adage that success is rewarded and failure punished, for these HFMs reap enormous profits if their company does well, and suffer NO punishments if their company does NOT do well.

Their obscene compensation packages thus "incentivize" risk-taking by these HFMs, whose funds are betting billions of dollars in a shadow economy, turning their financial institutions into casinos. Their shadow financial economy is cannibalizing our Real Economy.

The money that is being made by these gamblers' betting practices is NOT socially helpful.

Chris Hayes said that it is common knowledge on Wall Street with even Paul Volcker noting that in fact, these risky behaviors currently being indulged in by the top HFMs are socially dangerous and have proven to be destructively HARMFUL to our American economy.

The financial sector of our economy has one simple task to accomplish: banks and financial institutions exist to take money from savings and put that money into investments - investments, for example, in American companies so that our Real Economy can grow and expand. But with the unfettered financialization of our economy, our financial institutions have more than failed us - they have almost destroyed our economy and our cherished way of life.

Chris Hayes says we need financial reform, and suggests three things:

1. Real financial regulation that breaks up banks and reduces the size of the financial sector's influence in our real economy.

2. A transaction tax which should be placed upon all the money that is now floating around in bets made by these HFMs.

3. General tax reform must be established (and enforced) such that people with high incomes are taxed at an higher rate. Currently, such obscene profits enjoy the lowest taxation rate.

I like Chris' three suggested changes. Would that Chris Dodd and Obama were also listening!

Jerald terHorst: A Profile of Courage & Integrity

Jerald terHorst, who resigned as White House press secretary rather than defend President Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon, is dead at age 87. TerHorst died Wednesday night of congestive heart failure at his retirement community in Asheville, N.C., attended by his grown children.

A longtime Detroit News journalist, terHorst served for a only month as Ford's spokesman in 1974 before quitting to protest the president's decision not to hold his predecessor accountable for any crimes in the Watergate scandal.

In a Detroit News interview last year, terHorst lamented that the job of White House press secretary has become less about telling Americans what the president is doing and why, than about peddling the presidential party line. He told the paper,

You do a lot of spinning. I did not want to do that kind of work. I wanted to be the connection between the media and the president on his policies. That gets to be very difficult these days. It's a shame in a way that it's evolved in that direction.
But let's get back to that original letter of resignation on Sept. 8, 1974. That's what interests me! It was short and to the point:
Dear Mr. President:

Without a doubt this is the most difficult decision I ever have had to make. I cannot find words to adequately express my respect and admiration for you over the many years of our friendship and my belief that you could heal the wounds and serve our country in this most critical time in our nation’s history. Words also cannot convey my appreciation for the opportunity to serve on your staff during the transitional days of your presidency and for the confidence and faith you placed in me in that regard. The Press Office has been restructured along professional lines. Its staff, from Deputy Press Secretary John W. Hushen down the line, is competent and dedicated and comprises loyal employees who have given unstintingly of their time and talents.

So it is with great regret, after long soul-searching, that I must inform you that I cannot in good conscience support your decision to pardon former President Nixon even before he has been charged with the commission of any crime. As your spokesman, I do not know how I could credibly defend that action in the absence of a like decision to grant absolute pardon to the young men who evaded Vietnam military service as a matter of conscience and the absence of pardons for former aides and associates of Mr. Nixon who have been charged with crimes - and imprisoned - stemming from the same Watergate situation. These are also men whose reputations and families have been grievously injured. Try as I can, it is impossible to conclude that the former President is more deserving of mercy than persons of lesser station in life whose offenses have had far less effect on our national wellbeing.

Thus it is with a heavy heart that I hereby tender my resignation as Press Secretary to the President, effective today. My prayers nonetheless remain with you, sir.


Jerald F. terHorst
In the decades since Mr. terHorst's resignation from public service, there have been hundreds of opportunities for men and women to quit their official positions of influence on account of their troubled conscience. Some undoubtedly may have done it discretly, telling the public they wanted to spend more time with their families. Few have taken their public leave with their finger pointing at an offensive act by their superiors. I wager none of them - or extremely few of them - took their leave with their heads higher than Jerald F. terHorst's.

May he rest in peace.