Tag Archives: senate

Ten Questions for John Brennan, and his Senatorial Confirmers.

Ten Questions for John Brennan, and his Senatorial Confirmers.

1.  How effective has congressional oversight functioned with the CIA? <br>
2. The Church Commission required an FBI Director be confirmed every decade, and this was not done with FBI Director Mueller.  Why?  Is periodic confirmation of ANY spy/surveillance/investigative agency a good idea in light of the Church Commission findings? <br>
3.According to Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Wm Arkin in their Top Secret America report, there are 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies engaged in security work similar or associated with the CIA.   Who has oversight?  Who confirms their directors and directions and budgets, and how frequently?   What is the aggregate cost… and why is this budget “black”?
4. Senator Ron Wyden’s question as I roughly recall:  If our government decides to kill a citizen, does it supply a courtesy call as to why?   And who, apart from the President and those in his chain of command selects and approves these assassinations?
5. Is there concern about assassinations in other countries by US agents without the constitutionally required letter of Marque and Reprisal granted by the Congress (not the executive branch)?  If not, why?
6.Who, if anyone in government, is concerned about going to war without a declaration, as required by the constitution?   What is the significance of the oath or affirmation that office holders and service personnel take to preserve and protect the constitution?    Does that refer to the physical object, or the  meaning of the words contained in it?  (trying to keep my questions light, like Sn. Wyden.)
7. What has been the cost to the United States of fighting famous CIA alumnus such as Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Manuel Noriega, in lives and money, not to mention opportunity cost?   What has been the cost of conflicts with lesser known alums.   Any idea of ongoing and future costs?   Who monitors the fallout of the 1,271 government, and 1,931 private agencies?…. or is this as I fear, divided between numerous Congressional committees fighting for turf.  Who gains by this disorganization?
8. The drone boom is currently a lucrative area of development when there are few opportunities in this post crash economy.   How long before drones will, as all inventions do, return upon the United States, both government and civil society.   How long will these new threats harm our country?     Is our collective investment in this in the long term security interest of the US, or like the H bomb, a moral albatross which will fester in time?   Is this the security job equivalent to a self licking ice cream cone?
9. If a declaration of war were to be written,  to  provide an outline of what victory might look like, is short, what we want….. what would it say?
10. Since this is the intelligence committee, and while great expense is proffered surveilling the wide world, and yet because of our disjointed economy, banks and hedge funds are selling great swaths of America overseas.    Is this intelligent?  In the national interest?
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Patriot Act renewal shreds your rights

This from the New York Times:

“The deal to extend the powers(of the Patriot Act) without changes followed negotiations between the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, and Republican leaders including the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the speaker of the House, John Boehner.  “
  This was over the objection of Judiciary Chair  Senator Patrick Leahy and any civil rights group that has read the constitution, which the  Patriot Act shreds.
If you are happy with wire taps without warrant, and targeted assassinations, among other affronts.   Do Nothing.
If you are offended and recognize your rights are eroded by an act passed in the 2001 as 9-11 hysteria was at its peak..  then write your Senators and Representative. and demand that the Patriot Act  be allowed to sunset, as it was written.
I list the text of the Forth Amendment below to remind you of what many veterans have fought and died to protect, and what our leaders are now signing away: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. “
And what that means is no one can search your stuff, including papers, computer and cellphone without a search warrant stating what they are looking for.
Removing that, and you are subject to a shakedown by anyone with a uniform.
So write!

Frank-Dud Finance Dance

When is a law not a law?  When it is a bag over your head.

The Financial Regulation Bill.. aka The Frank – Dodd Bill is 2,315 pages requiring 399 rule-makings and 47 studies by yet unconstituted commissions. One familiar with the ways of Washington DC would see this as a tremendous opportunity to lean on lobbyists and the “legal community” to fund the next election cycle.   But fix the financial system: no.

The good part (politically) is the consumer protection agency, although it is housed at the Federal Reserve, is a gesture toward lessening the retail end of getting screwed.   Un-addressed is getting a wholesale screwing, leaving the too big to fail crowd in control… and it is not a big group: Goldman-Sachs, Morgan-Stanley, Bank of America, and Wells-Fargo.
They call the shots, get the money at Zero to 1/4 of one percent interest and loan it out at….5% if you are annointed and the sky is the limit if you are not.  They buy up small banks one after another.

Meanwhile the “high frequency trading” world is un-scathed, with hedge funds trading in the milliseconds. Sorry about your pension being on the down-side of the next ‘flash crash’.

Some wag has mentioned that CEO’s have difficulty relating to stockholders that own their stocks for less than 60 seconds.

A question that arises from this is: What is property?   What is ownership…. when everything is transitory and momentary. It is a grave question that casts light on the shadow banking concept: Hedge Funds, derivatives and all.  When eveything is owned momentarily, as a trading chip, and the ultimate bag man is the taxpayer….. why are we still projecting ownership on the banks?  They Blew It!  We picked up the pieces.  So why do we think the banks own everything?  Perhaps it is habit.   They are the authors of the chain-letter, but neither  are they authors, nor creators of  productive activity.  They have been seen as the permission keepers,  and have been granted the power to create money, via loan creation, which is authorized Not by the Treasury, but by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  Arrgh.  I am entering the swamp of history.   I cannot here deeply illumine you on this simple but elusive point, namely, that beyond the gold, and silver standard as we have been since FDR and Nixon; money has been created only by the creation of loans and that had been done, not through the US Treasury which only mints coins, but the cartel of the ‘money center’ banks mentioned at the top of this article.      Oh, and the interest to pay on the loans, that is not created, thus our constant need to ‘grow’.  And when loans end (due to default or the loan gets paid off), that money  that was created: ends,  it is un-created..

I confess, I cannot explain the whole financial charade to you in one post, but can recommend a book that can, namely:  Web of Debt, by Ellen Hodgson Brown.   Interestingly written, historic, and a story well told.

Anyhow  we seem to be entranced in the projection of authority, of (phantom) ownership.

How?

It is the banks that own the houses, becaused they borrowed the money from the Federal Reserve system at less than one percent and loaned it out at 5 to 19%, while the builder built it ( at a fraction of the sale cost) and the banks then sell that monthly cash flow to some sucker in the the ‘securitized’ world, perhaps your pension.    OK,  if I say any more  all our brains will hurt.

Let is be said that the Frank-Dodd bill, is not close to law, for nothing is settled within the devils in the details 2000  plus pages, except 399 rule makings yet to make. I would suggest making contact with your senator or representative and say you want a 100 page bill that separates banking from trading, that breaks up banks that are “too big too fail” and thus too big to govern,  and to prohibit derivatives beyond the first degree. (yes, I will explain this later)

Business will not prosper, until the game is unrigged.

Tune in to a subsequent post for insight into the world of derivatives.