Robbie Couch in an article on HuffPo recently asserted:
The $400 billion program to create a fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, which, as The Hill points out, is seven years behind schedule and chronically plagued with misfortunes and incompetencies, could have housed every homeless person in the U.S. with a $600,000 home.Read below the fold...
James Petras has written an enraging article entitled “The Soaring Profits of the Military-Industrial Complex And the Soaring Costs of Military Casualties”.
Petras contends that there are two major beneficiaries of the major wars launched by the US government: one is domestic and the other is foreign.
The first is the US arms manufacturers. Their investors have been overwhelmed with profits during the past "warring" decade and a half!
Petras: Read below the fold...
Recently, I've been writing about oligarchs advocating for entitlement cuts and austerity. I've discussed attacks on entitlement benefits for the elderly from Abby Huntsman (of MSNBC's The Cycle) and Catherine Rampell (a Washington Post columnist), both the children of well-off individuals. These posts have come in the context of the English language release of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and the more recent pre-publication release of a study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page using quantitative methods and empirical data to explore the question of whether the US is an oligarchy or a majoritarian democracy. They conclude:
”What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”
With this as a backdrop, today I want to de-construct a recent statement by Michael A. Peterson, President and COO, of one of the centers of American oligarchy, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF), and the son of the multi-billionaire Peter G. Peterson, commenting on the CBO's Report earlier this month, on its updated budget projections for 2014 - 2024. Read below the fold...
In my last post, I took issue with a recent column by Catherine Rampell, who tries to make the case that seniors haven't paid for their Social Security and Medicare because they “generally receive” more in benefits out of these programs than they pay into them. Rampell relies on an Urban Institute study to make her case. Since that post, she's offered another that replies to some of the questions raised by commenters on her earlier effort. I'll reply to that new post shortly, but first I want to present key points emerging from my analysis of Federal monetary operations in my reply to her earlier post. See that post for the full argument.
First, once Congress mandates spending, there is no way that the Treasury can be forced into insolvency or an inability to pay its obligations as long as it is willing to make use of all the ways it can cause the Fed to create reserve credits in Treasury spending accounts which can then be used for its reserve keystroking into private sector account activities that today represent most of the reality of Federal spending. Read below the fold...
Some of the favored children of the economic elite who have a public presence, work hard in their writing and speaking to divert attention from inequality and oligarchy issues by raising the issue of competition between seniors and millennials for “scarce” Federal funds. That's understandable. If millennials develop full consciousness of who, exactly, has been flushing their prospects for a decent life down the toilet, their anger and activism might bring down the system of wealth and economic and social privilege that benefits both their families and the favored themselves in the new America of oligarchy and plutocracy.
Here and here, I evaluated Abby Huntsman's arguments for entitlement “reform,” and, of course, Pete Peterson's son, Michael fights a continuing generational war against seniors in pushing the austerian line of the Peterson Foundation. Now comes Catherine Rampell, who, in a recent column, sets forth the position that seniors haven't paid for their Social Security and Medicare because they “generally receive” more in benefits out of these programs than they pay into them.
I'll reply to all of the main points in Rampell's argument, by quoting liberally and then replying to the points she makes in each quote. She says: Read below the fold...
In recent posts I reviewed two commentaries by Abby Huntsman on Social Security and other entitlements, also noting points made in other critiques of her narratives. Abby's commentaries are here, and here, and my critiques are here and here. The most important point I emphasized in my two rebuttals is that there are no fiscal solvency or sustainability issues related to Social Security, or other parts of the safety net, but that the issues involve only the willingness of Congress to appropriate entitlement spending, and either the removal of current constraints on Treasury to spend appropriations such as the debt limit, or the willingness of the Executive Branch to use its current legislative authority either to a) generate sufficient seigniorage from platinum coins to spend such appropriations; or b) use a type of debt instrument, such as consols, which aren't counted toward the debt limit.
The day before I posted my second reply to Abby Huntsman, Richard J. Eskow and WeActRadio posted this video clip from Eskow's radio broadcast. In his critique, Richard shows that Abby Huntsman's treatment of Social Security and entitlements is full of misleading information and hews closely to the narrative offered by Alan Simpson, Pete Peterson, and organizations supported by Peterson funding, and he calls for the MSNBC producers of “The Cycle” to issue statements correcting the facts, and to give Abby's co-hosts on The Cycle a chance to reply to her about social security. Read below the fold...
A couple of weeks ago, I posted on a simple solution to the problem of getting money out of politics. I said then:
If the election you're voting in is virtually a two candidate contest, then vote for the candidate, who, in combination with her/his supporters spends the least amount of money. In a virtual multi-candidate contest, do the same thing.
That's the proposal, in its simplest form. Its objective is to reverse the current race to the bottom in buying elections by ensuring that there would be a powerful incentive to start a race to the top to raise and spend as little money as possible in campaigns. That incentive is that if you spend too much you lose, pure and simple.
The other rationale for the rule is that the person who raises and spends the least amount of money for a campaign, will generally be the person who is “less bought” by wealthy people, financial interests, and large corporations. Eventually, if the rule took hold it would no longer be said of the Congress that “the banks own the place.”Read below the fold...
I came across an article by William Rivers Pitt entitled “The Sugar Makes the Poison Taste Sweet”. I am posting a powerful excerpt from it in which Pitt lets his anger rip about the shameless exploitation of a 10-deployment, maimed vet by Obama at the end of his 2014 State of the Union Address. Read below the fold...
I didn’t watch Obama’s State of the Union address on television tonight. My stomach was not strong enough. (Reminiscent of how Bush’s TV appearances also induced nausea in me.)
Just a little while ago I abandoned the balance of my cappuccino in an upper East Side diner because Obama’s voice from a wall TV screen in the back ambushed me. The manager/owner hustled over to the front cash register to process my check.
“I came out tonight to ESCAPE Obama!” I scolded
He wagged a finger in my face angrily. “Hey, I’m just watching to see his nose grow!” Read below the fold...
Nicole Sandler: I find this fascinating, yet it is very – wonky is not the word, but it’s so in the weeds. I know, Marcy Wheeler, you’re so good at reading through this stuff, but to the average person – and I’d say I’m not even the average person, I’m probably more informed than most, I know I’m intelligent, but a lot of this stuff, I mean, you know, my eyes sort of roll back in my head and ...
I'm still playing podcast catch-up. After Obama's speech last Friday and Marcy's review on The Scott Horton Show (my prior transcript), Marcy did The Nicole Sandler Show on Monday. Way wonky, but kinda wonderful too, or wonderlandful, if you follow:
Marcy Wheeler: And so they’re trying to kind of develop this Panopticon within U.S. networks. And that’s the solution they want to come up with to defend our networks, rather than, by the way, increasing encryption and security and everything like that. And the reason they don’t want to do that is because it makes their spying harder. So it’s this circular issue, and I think it’s a dangerous circular issue because basically the NSA is making us less safe with what it’s doing with encryption, and then having made us less safe, it’s insisting that it needs to be able to police U.S. networks in a more intrusive fashion because it’s made us less safe.
Got that? Or, cutting to the chase:
Marcy Wheeler: We're not done learning... President Obama tried to end it, tried to close down discussion on Friday; we’re not done yet.
Nicole Sandler: No. I don’t think discussion will be closed as long as they, you know, can’t silence people like you... Information really is power, isn’t it?
Marcy Wheeler: Yep, it is.
Jacob Appelbaum 30c3: To Protect And Infect, The Militarization of the Internet - with crowd-sourced transcript!
A few days ago, Yves posted “When You Bareback With the Internet, You Ride With the NSA” and said:
You must watch this talk, even if some parts are a bit technical for mere mortals. No matter how bad you think the NSA’s information surveillance and capture is, I can just about guarantee that this will show you that it’s an order of magnitude worse than you imagined.Read below the fold...
I did a first draft of Jacob Appelbaum's keynote presentation at the 30c3 conference. I'd like to do a good job and have it out there asap because I think it's important, but this first draft is extremely rough, I am no geek, don't know the terms, lots of guesses and flubs and I am done for tonight. Also, all I've got is the audio from Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/moltke/to-protect-and-infect-part-2. I can't see youtubes anymore, and I would love to see what he's showing - slides I think - and I'd like to do the slide inserts like in the Aaron Swartz transcript here but I need screenshots.
Update #1: Now second draft, thank you for help! Need much more!
Update #2: Now incorporating changes from Lambert's very helpful submission, so I'm calling this version 2.1. Thanks! Please note that I'm probably the only person here who can't see the video.
Update #3: Now with Flora's screenshots (thank you!!) added, so I'm calling this version 2.2. Hopefully tomorrow we can call it finished at version 3? Also is placement of screenshots right? My timeline is the Soundcloud audio file, I'm sure you all are using YouTube times, so ballpark.
Update #4: Did Flora's corrections; calling this draft 2.3. Still a few questions (ones not struck out, and see comment at bottom) and waiting for screenshots, otherwise done? Speak now...
Update #5: In progress, incorporating Flora's screenshots, calling this draft 3.0. Still a few questions (below fold, ones not struck out), and I want to do some linking. But if there's something you see, speak now...
Update #6: Draft 3.1, screenshot-to-youtube links added. Still questions below fold, and we're looking for the original nsa slides (Der Spiegel? someplace else?) that are used.
Update #7: Draft 3.2, now with links to Der Spiegel sources so people can go look at the nsa slides for themselves. People, are we done here? Question remaining is "Om"
Update #8: Draft 4.0, fixed OHM, thank you Hipparchia! Added "Room Surveillance" category to block at bottom that I missed. Are we done?
Here's the video, so users can read along with it (and perhaps offer corrections in comments?) If you haven't listened to this, you really should; you don't need to understand the mass of detail to get the picture. --lambert
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program a/k/a “SNAP” a/k/a “food stamps” is about to be DRASTICALLY slashed on November 1st.
I wonder how our President and our Congress members can look themselves in the mirror each day.
Our media spokespeople don’t like to concern themselves with poverty and hunger, either, which enables the callousness of the politicians. Talk of poverty, of hunger, bums out their viewers and makes their corporate sponsors uneasy. Read below the fold...
Disclaimer: This forum rules like the moderator. I'm talking about a different one that tends to skew towards Obots in an orange way.
And here we are again! It started in 2010. The Bush tax cuts were about to expire. There was leverage to negotiate a debt ceiling raise or to just let them expire. How do I know there was leverage? I know Republicans like tax cuts for the rich, and there was a deal for the purpose of extending them with Republican votes. It passed with those Republican votes, which led to this whole thing because there was no debt ceiling raise included.
Maybe others are unaware of this? I don't know. It doesn't matter though; the uninformed shouldn't dictate fantasy as reality in a reality based community. This is the actual reality and why we are worried about a global financial calamity with regard to a possible political default on the public debt, which is a choice and otherwise impossible for a sovereign currency issuer.
Q Mr. President, thank you. How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit? Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in. Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?
THE PRESIDENT: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?
Q Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the — we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do. I mean, what leverage would you have –
THE PRESIDENT: [silence].... Look, here’s my expectation — and I’ll take John Boehner at his word — that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen. And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote. That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on. But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern. You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.
You know, we on the left knew what this would lead to. You don't trust John Boehner with the full faith in credit of the United States unless one is completely clueless or an economic nihilist. The resulting signs we are starting to see of a financial panic in response to the prospects of a default on top of the ongoing depression, the jobs crisis, the continuing climate and ecological crisis all converging into one huge Epochal crisis, point to a special kind of disdain for the public that all our elected leaders have for us. I mean, we have enough problems without adding to them through a self induced global financial then economic crisis caused by the President's pursuit of a deficit terrorist grand bargain whether through incompetence or outright corruption. Read below the fold...