Category Archives: Economy

The Administration and the CIA versus the Constitution

As John Brennan is considered for confirmation by the US Senate, Eleven senators including both Oregon senators have raised the simple question: “If the United States targets a US citizen to be killed, does that person merit being notified as to why?”

Bizarre! In a country ruled by a constitution which states that a person cannot be deprived of life liberty or property without due process of law. ….. this question is asked by a Senator to a drone assassination champion who has supported or overseen over 2,700 people killed in three countries in which we are not at war, including 200 children. These are the minimum numbers as reported by the British: Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

If this were Kabuki, what masks would they be wearing in this senate hearing… The supporters, the CIA ‘leader’, the questioners?

“We are at war with terror.” says the drone champion Brennan.  ” I support rendition and now banned interrogation techniques. I have strongly advocated public discussion of thresholds and limitations of CIA authority in this. (really ?) A trust deficit with this committee is wholly unacceptable to me.

The CIA will do all it can to protect Americas secrets, Americas classified information. The CIA indicates 103 deaths of CIA agents. ”

The above was my ragged shorthand from the confirmation hearing today.

According the Federation of American Scientists there are somewhere between 4.2 and 4.8  million Americans with security clearances.

According to Dana Priest and the Top Secret America project of the Washington Post: “(1) Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. (2) An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ”

“(4) Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. (5) Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.”

I ask the discriminating reader this question:  If the congress  usually has very little oversight of the CIA ,  as Senator Murkowski said, and its only power to influence it is Now, during a confirmation hearing….. what oversight does the American People have over the ” 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies ” listed above?   Who cuts their checks?,  who directs their directors? *

In short, and you can quote me….. “You are being protected by a genuine self-breeding cluster fuck.” …. suffering from too many resources and resulting in too much overlapping confusion. ___ David Bean.   Many duplications are seeking to solve the problem and none are looking to find the source of it if you ask me. (hint: it is not a personality… second hint: ask Pogo.^)  As stated elsewhere, a war on a tactic can never find its end.

The world has changed.   We have got what we worked for these many years…. magnificent productivity.  Yet we are stuck thinking we are in the old world and people want our stuff.  We are locked in the past in our own minds.   Like peoples through the centuries, all people do not want to me messed with. As we screw them more and more with our “security” procedures and assassination drones is there any wonder they fight back? Isn’t ten years fighting goatherds on the other side of the planet in stark mountains with a population with an illiteracy rate of 70% an indication of misspent resources? ” We have the technology…. why not use it?” say the consultants. They are paid well… as are the drone makers. America has been captured by our own tools.

Well, from my observation of the hearing, Brennan is a shoe in. Yes Sir, Gumby. A shoo in.

Here is my concern. Leon Panetta, a budget wizard, has been the head of the CIA and Defense,  and he is stepping down. He has not, nor has the President, in my humble opinion, been in charge of either. They grow exponentially as exemplified by the drone boom.  It is a pathology that  I believe will come home to bite us, and perhaps destroy our civilization. I have no opinion about  what motivates the current President who now operates a kill list. I do not believe he is a good administrator, as evinced by the burgeoning security state, the  consequent budget hole it, the military and the militarized CIA create. That the press and the parties can only discuss social security and cutting entitlements  without addressing this mammoth fiscal hemorrhage is an example inability to prioritize.

NOW is the time for congress, and the people telling congress….. Get a Grip! Rare it is to have a handle to comment on our national secret police. We are captives of our own technology and it will impoverish us. … in security and in health. We have to say No to ourselves, to the technological equivalent to “I believe I want to investigate myself.”… and we cannot seem to say “no” to technology.   How about cutting our spook agencies to a mere thousand, and top secret spooks to a mere hundred thousand. Even that may be too many to keep track of.

Thus my plea to you to write your senator, your congressman. Do not confirm Brennan for CIA Director. To do so would implicitly support drone assassinations, which are lawless.   Tell your congressman to get a grip on self breeding security agencies.

* constitutional note: Letters of Marque and Reprisal.  Readers of this blog may recall my emphasis on the King Clause of the constitution.   It reads:” (only) The Congress shall have the power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water. ”  (It is called the King Clause because if not observed, we have a king with fiat rule over all of us.)   Not well taught in school is what is that danged letter of marque and reprisal.   Here is the scoop:  It is a Pirate’s License.

Today we would call it a Private Contractor’s License, a license to kill on the authority of the People of the United States.   That power is only granted to the congress….. and is not granted to either the executive branch (the President, CIA,   FBI, NSA et all) nor the judicial branch.

This King Clause makes it explicit that only representatives of our people can kill and really piss off their people.   Not agents of the President on his own initiative. Thus saving us, in theory,  from the innumerable idiotic wars that our founders observed being started by irascible kings.

Whatever say the eloquent and well endowed constitutional lawyers, including the one that currently runs a kill list in our name… the words of the constitution are written for you, citizen, to grasp and understand.   The King Clause can be found in Article I, Section 8, clause 11.      Let your own intelligence decide, for together we stand,  if we defer to the experts (who inevitably quote statute and not the constitution) we will find ourselves divided and sold off to the highest bidder.

^ the cartoon character Pogo in the midst of the Viet Nam War famously said :  “We have met the enemy, and they is us.”  (The Gulf of Tonkin incident which gravely escalated that war was consequence of a ‘radar shadow’, i. e. electronic feedback from our own equipment.)

Jefferson’s nightmare – American children wake up homeless.

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802, “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

And here we are. Hedge Funds are becoming the new, the faceless: Land Lords.

Banks bet that a carpenter, for example, cannot pay on a $350,000 dollar mortgage when the building boom was halted after they, the banks, cut the credit. That is OK for the bank is made whole by loan failure insurance called a CDS or Credit Default Swap. It is called that confusing name ‘swap’ because this insurance cannot be called ‘insurance’, because insurance is regulated. Perhaps the bank gets paid a premium when the carpenter is 90 days late, or perhaps when the carpenter and his family are evicted. The CDS world is not regulated. Anything goes. So if the the CDS premium only pays the bank a hundred grand, that is OK, the bank takes out as many CDSs as it likes, say 40, and gets a big payoff when the carpenter moves out. The CDS world is still unregulated today. Confusing? It is meant to be.

But so sad, there is no one to buy the house at $350,000, or even $200,000. No Problem, the bank has made its money already and did not have to wait for the pesky loan to mature. It now sells the house to a hedge fund for thirty cents on the dollar and voila. The bank is done. No maintenance problems. Next?

I have told this tale simply, for actually there are likely three banks involved, the note holder, the ‘investor’, and the servicer. The servicer is the bank that collects the money every month. The ‘investor’ may not be a bank at all, perhaps the bank gets a pension fund or municipality to put up the money. And you might be right if you have suspicions here…. sometimes the ‘investors’ do not get paid back when the loan fails, hey, I said this was unregulated. But the servicer has made a fine profit.

But wait. Isn’t that funny language? Is ‘servicer’ farm speak? Who is getting serviced?
Well it seems like just about everybody but the servicer is getting serviced. It is unregulated. Foreclosure laws vary from state to state. Bankruptcy laws are constitutionally mandated to be the same everywhere… but not foreclosure. Interesting huh? Anyhow, investors may lose. The house-holding families lose. The neighbors lose. The communities lose. And if small businesses used their houses for collateral as almost all did, then the job environment loses because the businesses have negative collateral.
Also the local governments lose, as taxable properties fall in value, cutting revenue requiring more lay offs. This is called a vicious cycle. But some bankers may get bonuses, and thus can play their part in the costly politics is money game as it selects who ‘represents’ and protects us.

Thomas Jefferson long ago saw America as the land of the yeoman farmer; the independent spirit informed by this beautiful land and concerned with the welfare of his neighbors. For he had seen the White House in Washington D.C. burned, in his lifetime, and had seen the boot of imperial oppression and its effects. Jefferson’s America was composed mostly of farmers who did not need explanation that when a bull mounts a cow in order to make a calf it is called ‘servicing’. And conceptually at least, a bull mounting a cow is so much easier than mounting a hard drive today. How times have changed. And how that fear of Jefferson’s, that American children wake up homeless has come true.

And Jefferson’s nightmare is just in the first act. Who will buy the houses from the hedge funds?

The Grand Recession

Let us call this crisis that commenced in September of 2008 the “Grand Recession” for this is when the kids move back in with the grand parents.

In my opinion, the nuclear family as almost no one seems to notice, was a post 1945 invention. Wha? you say. True, for before 1945 only Los Alamos fellows were mouthing the term nuclear, for only they and a few physics geeks knew of the term. And no one used that term to refer to family. Yes the terms nuclear and nucleus were around, the second used in biology, the first in a very rare (still) corner of physics.
But after 1945 with the atomic bomb the cat was out of the bag; Bigtime. After that even sociologists began to use the term.

Funny question- what was the family unit without grandparents called prior to the 3 networks, Ozzy and Harriet, Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver? Never had society had such a unifying force as Television and never that I know of has there been such conformity as during the 1950’s in America. A huge pulse of wealth, with everyone getting appliances and televisions and new cars…. and they were able to start a new home without family help. How often has that happened in history?

Well yes, we had the homestead act, where a family could obtain 160 acres early on by establishing a claim, but that was not easy. Only about 40% of those who tried succeeded. It was not easy for ma, paw, and the kids to make a go of it all by themselves. Tough work plus one needed experience, a three generation family had a much better chance. In the end, only about 10% of US land was homesteaded. Like military spending today, in times past the lions share of riches went to well connected corporations, foremost among those were the railroads.

Thus as we industrialized, urbanized and suburbanized after WWII it was easy and common to create a nuclear family. We had the middle class. But in the 50’s and 60’s middle class was an economic term, now it is a political term.

Have you noted that as time passed, only fogies and those graying baby boomers watch the boob tube. The young and mobile use their mobile device or laptop. The internet maps for the current generation what TV mapped for the boomers, and only when the recession pushes them together do they realize their media incompatibility.

So we are in the grand recession and will not lift ourselves out of it until we realize that out political, economic and media formats no longer map what is.

The Law in Plain English, The Tenth Amendment and Obama’s Health Care Case

Is the health insurance mandate constitutional?

‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’

____ Tenth Amendment.     The US Constitution is clear as crystal.

I know the constitution, you may not; so let me simply explain: Health is not mentioned once and commerce only twice in the entire constitution, and each time it is about regulating commerce…  not mandating it.

If the Supreme Court were doing its job, it would have said as much.

Best to recall the words of Benjamin Franklin:    “A countryman between two lawyers, is like a fish between two cats.”

…and that, my fellow countrymen, is all there is.  The constitution does not compel purchases; nor will it.

The Business Model

I am with with the many who agree that to make money off of sick people is immoral.  To profit from sickness is itself sick.  You can make a living serving the sick, but not a killing.  That is our current format, called the business model.   Most counties including the 40 or more that are listed as better than ours in health care results, provide health care on the service model, not the business model.   You can seek out this information by searching ‘health care’ and OECD,  or  WHO.

The Service Model 

Providing health care on the service model in contrast to  the current business model would cut costs nearly in half.   What looks to you and me as cost centers if we are patients, are seen as profit centers, or at least competitive overhead by the health care business.   Look at what profit/cost centers would simply go away if we decided to select the service model for our health care:  Insurance profit, insurance marketing, large secretarial  and legal staff’s to deal with insurance denial/compliance/appeal/judgement and malpractice.  The equally huge secretarial offices in every medical clinic.  Gone would be pharmaceutical marketing and huge patent premiums that result from the intent to make money more than saving lives. Universities and foundations would still do research.  The motive would be to save lives though, not to ‘make a killing’.  The main thing that would be removed is the confusion of having all these systems, and the errors bread of that confusion.  Getting personal; the time lost  from this bureaucratic confusion, harms the patients physically, in my opinion, even worse than the costs which are humungous.  These costs are making the US uncompetitive on the world market.  Why?   Nearly twenty cents of every dollar we spend goes into this grinder.    This change would put nearly a dime into your pocket for every dollar spent.

In short, the health mandate is unconstitutional on its face.  The business model for health care is uncompetitive and morally corrupting and that expense cannot be ignored for it prices us out of the world market.   Thus we ought to put our health care on the service model.

The Law in Plain English, The Tenth Amendment and Obama's Health Care Case

Is the health insurance mandate constitutional?

‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’

____ Tenth Amendment.     The US Constitution is clear as crystal.

I know the constitution, you may not; so let me simply explain: Health is not mentioned once and commerce only twice in the entire constitution, and each time it is about regulating commerce…  not mandating it.

If the Supreme Court were doing its job, it would have said as much.

Best to recall the words of Benjamin Franklin:    “A countryman between two lawyers, is like a fish between two cats.”

…and that, my fellow countrymen, is all there is.  The constitution does not compel purchases; nor will it.

The Business Model

I am with with the many who agree that to make money off of sick people is immoral.  To profit from sickness is itself sick.  You can make a living serving the sick, but not a killing.  That is our current format, called the business model.   Most counties including the 40 or more that are listed as better than ours in health care results, provide health care on the service model, not the business model.   You can seek out this information by searching ‘health care’ and OECD,  or  WHO.

The Service Model 

Providing health care on the service model in contrast to  the current business model would cut costs nearly in half.   What looks to you and me as cost centers if we are patients, are seen as profit centers, or at least competitive overhead by the health care business.   Look at what profit/cost centers would simply go away if we decided to select the service model for our health care:  Insurance profit, insurance marketing, large secretarial  and legal staff’s to deal with insurance denial/compliance/appeal/judgement and malpractice.  The equally huge secretarial offices in every medical clinic.  Gone would be pharmaceutical marketing and huge patent premiums that result from the intent to make money more than saving lives. Universities and foundations would still do research.  The motive would be to save lives though, not to ‘make a killing’.  The main thing that would be removed is the confusion of having all these systems, and the errors bread of that confusion.  Getting personal; the time lost  from this bureaucratic confusion, harms the patients physically, in my opinion, even worse than the costs which are humungous.  These costs are making the US uncompetitive on the world market.  Why?   Nearly twenty cents of every dollar we spend goes into this grinder.    This change would put nearly a dime into your pocket for every dollar spent.

In short, the health mandate is unconstitutional on its face.  The business model for health care is uncompetitive and morally corrupting and that expense cannot be ignored for it prices us out of the world market.   Thus we ought to put our health care on the service model.

Fourth of July Quandary

Yeah,  We are going through a Big Change and I bet you cannot make it.        But I dare you.
You see, I love this country and I think we are losing it.     Here is the Quandary:
Sure, we have a little financial problem, some persistent unemployment, a wad of debt, a war or two or three, (if you don’t count the assassination drones), and a decades old political stalemate that is really mated in stale, I mean really puewy stale, but that leaves out the failure of the people to fund the press and the failure of the press to cover the important stuff when funded only by commercial interests, a supreme court that thinks money is speech, two administrations that think the constitution is meaningless words, but the Big One, that big slow moving change that we all see and don’t want to admit, and is leaving muddy boot prints all over the future of our dreams:  global climate change: climate chaosYup, you are right and I know it too.   All the Republican Presidential candidates deny climate change as a point of pride.  “How the hell can you grow your way out of a depression, if you admit that the consequences of that growth would just make things worst?”   And what does worst mean?   Migrations of people seeking higher ground and, well, food.    No, not timid people,  desperate ones, wars.

Truth is, the Democrats are not much better.  While mouthing green jobs, and I have to laugh when they call robotics green  and  jobs, they too think the only way out of our recession is to manufacture more stuff.  Ah, efficiency. Democrats can only see growth as the answer too.

OK, maybe the case can be be made that since 82% of Americans don’t have passports, they would not know nor care that Australia had a flood the size of France and Germany put together.   Or that the Russian wheat crop failed. Well, Australia’s conservatives used to deny climate change too.  No more.   Will cyclone ally, or the Mississippi flood, or hundred square mile fires wake up ours?
Back in history at a point similar to now, FDR primed the pump.  He got young men working in the CCC camps instead of inventing a life of crime.  Sending money home.  Imagine that.  Our current stimulus envisioned a giant pump priming, thinking there was just one big pump: the banks.  Truth to tell they can just deal with money when it is moving, they don’t make it move, people do, real ones with real locations… on earth.  So how do we get real people in real jobs?, and that could be doing anything since only 8% of us work growing our food.  Planting trees, cutting brush and making trails worked in the 30’s and made kids into strong men with good values.   Kids today want to manipulate stuff with their fingers, because that is all that they have seen: manipulation, money for nothin’ and ever better remotes.  But I digress.
So these parties, the Democrats and Republicans cannot seem to find a lick of common sense among ’em.  Now Will Rogers had some.  He said, “The United States had two great friends…………..  the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.”   I dare say he is still right even though we have spent TEN years traveling half way around the planet, fighting in the place called the Graveyard of Empires: Afghanistan.We are told by both parties it is for national security. Well my goodness, look at the map. Their neighbors are China, Iran, India and Pakistan.     Talk about a rough neighborhood far away.  Are we snookered or what.  For a decade!  What is this national security?  Domination of all places anywhere on the globe?   It seems to be of the same quality as anything that is  securitized. Even if we had a booming real economy rather than one based upon insurance, financial products and speculation on house values we could not afford that.   Darn.   I was going to dare you, not wheedle bout the thicket of our tarbaby mess.  Seems like I got off my trail.

The dare comes in to design a wiki, you know, one of those computer internet gizmos that allows a lot of folks to work together and figure stuff out.  I think the ancient Chinese saying says it best: “If we don’t change direction, we are bound to end up where we are headed.”  And here I think we need to put our heads together and not expect some celebrity to fix it.  We need change that is not a slogan.

Yesterday ( June 30th)was funny day, not ha ha, when the Greek and British peoples rioted in the streets because the bankers had the legislators renege on pensions, a lifetime promise in those countries.  It is called bait and switch.  In response the US stock market gained 150 points.  What does that say? It seems crazy to one like me.  Bet, we’ll see those same kind of riots in the US within two years time.   You have heard the bankers, haven’t you, complaining about all the greedy people.  Folks get funny when you revoke a life long promise. Not ha ha.
I’ll tell you this, people don’t like to get a screwin’, and there are at least 6 million Americans that have got a good one as the banks have foreclosed them out of their home to collect upon credit default swaps and bonuses.  And the screwin’s not done.  And the politics ain’t mappin it, and the press ain’t covering it, and well, that’s why I ask you to help design this wiki.Because without some meta thinking, some big creative thinking, we are going to have a big train wreck.  Our housing has already lost more than after 1929, and the Parties, if you can call them that are, Clubs are more like it, are still having a pissing contest.  Dumping the economy into the gutter…. simply by having the firm and stupid Republicans come to loggerheads with the firm (well, not really) and stupid Democrats about the debt and create here, just what we observed happening in Greece and Britain yesterday.

So I double dog dare you to figure a way out of this fix.   Or to figure a path to a way……. out.   And don’t tell me you are waiting for Elvis to lead the way.

yours,The Old Sodbuster.

Shutdown the US government or Afghanistan. Which?

The US constitution requires that the Congress declare war. That has not been done in 65 years. Those Congresses that avoided that duty  are now impoverishing our future by waging war on the credit card.   We are spending more than we are earning.

The US government is facing being shut down in two weeks. Why? The Republicans demand a cut of $60 Billion, yet our debt is largely financed by China which increases our dependence. The request is not unreasonable.

The resistance from the Democrats comes from concern that cuts in social services will expand unemployment and will kill the fragile economic recovery. That too, is a reasonable concern.

What is unreasonable is that our annual “defense” expense is $651 Billion per year, or $2,100 for every man, woman, infant and retiree obligating them to pay for our (undeclared) wars. A family of four is obliged to pay $8,400 every year for this.

Our war in Afghanistan now has lasted longer than World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined, and to win what? To seize a criminal personality named Osama bin Laden.

The obvious solution is to declare victory and exit Afghanistan.   We do not need that territory. Ronald Reagan’s military chief Bing West says it is time to go. Ten years. Armies are good at killing people. They are NOT good at nation building. Why? They do not speak the language. Our soldiers are trained in shooting, not speaking. Different job. What are we doing? Shooting wood gatherers from the air. Engaging in a thousand night raids a month. We are generating enemies. Repeat: We are generating enemies. That is why we must stop, aside from breaking the bank.

To quote Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “.. Any future Defense Secretary who advises the President to again send a large land army to Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa, should have his head examined.” …. West Point speech, February 25th, 2011.

Unless we cut the counterproductive spending; we should have our head examined.