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Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:54 pm

Forbes magazine likes to call itself a "capitalist tool," and routinely offers tool-like justifications for whatever it is that profit-seeking corporations want to do. Recently it has deployed its small army of corporate defenders and apologists in the multi-billion dollar fight to keep the effective tax rates of global corporations low.

The economy is not improving. The drop in government spending dragged more on the U.S. economy than initially thought in the first three months of the year, a sign of increasing pain from Washington's austerity drive. The capitalist tools are not delivering cogent advice. What should we do?

The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.4 percent annual rate during the period, down a tenth of a point from an initial estimate, according to revised figures from the Commerce Department released on Thursday. Analysts had forecast a 2.5 percent gain. Clearly growth was held back as government spending fell across all levels of government and as businesses outside the farm sector stocked their shelves at a slower pace. Washington has been tightening its belt for several years but ramped up austerity measures in 2013, hiking taxes in January and slashing the federal budget in March. None of this has been good for American workers.

The Center for American Progress, a pillar of the Democratic establishment in Washington is walking away from the broad negotiations aimed at reaching a "grand bargain," the pursuit of a deficit-reduction deal that has dominated the political agenda since mid-2010.

The idea of a grand bargain had little backing from organized labor and the progressive flank to begin with, but maintained institutional support from establishment forces in the party. CAP's exit from the stage sends a powerful signal to the White House, leaving the president to craft a deal largely on his own, should he continue to pursue it.

The move has been in the works for some time, say senior CAP officials, and emerged publicly Wednesday in the form of a report by Michael Linden, the center's managing director for economic policy.

"It's time we reset economic policy in Washington to focus on growth instead of deficit reduction," CAP President Neera Tanden told HuffPost. ... al-debate/

With conservatives calling the president’s compromise offer “dead on arrival,” we remain stuck in perhaps the worst of all possible fiscal realities. We remain living with the painful, counterproductive, and near-universally derided “sequester” spending cuts. The long-term fiscal challenges remain mostly unsolved. We remain unable to use federal fiscal policy to address immediate economic problems, to say nothing of underlying structural ones. And the budget issue itself remains an obstacle to progress on all manner of unrelated policy areas.

The center cites specific changes that have taken place since it first supported a grand bargain: Spending cuts and tax hikes, combined with lower health care costs, have already dramatically reduce the longterm debt outlook. And the intellectual foundation of the case for austerity has met a scandal of academic incompetence.

"We did not err on the side of subtlety," said CAP Action Fund President Tom Perriello. "This was a big pivot with a lot of work behind it."

It turns out that almost the entire philosophy of the Republican Party was founded on a bet that the flawed work of Reinhart and Rogoff was accurate. Now, under steady attack after their seminal research was found to be riddled with errors, Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff are making a show of backing away from the austerity that their research encouraged. The problem is obviously a stellar example of failed Design Intelligence.

Although they claim that their views on austerity have never changed, the record tells a different story. They're still trying to have it both ways -- advocating for government belt-tightening while trying to avoid being seen as political.

Reinhart and Rogoff wrote a paper back in January 2010, called "Growth In A Time Of Debt," which strongly suggested that government debt of more than 90 percent of gross domestic product caused bad things to happen to economies. In the years since its publication, that paper has been cited by many politicians, from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to George Osborne of the U.K., to justify harsh belt-tightening programs despite deep, widespread economic pain in the U.S., U.K. and Europe. The problem was that they were building this conclusion on a foundation of bad math.

Two weeks ago, a University of Massachusetts-Amherst grad student, Thomas Herndon, destroyed their paper's credibility by pointing out that it was riddled with errors, including glaring data omissions and a goofy Excel spreadsheet mistake. Suddenly, the Paul Krugmans and Robert Reich’s of the world, who have spent the past few years arguing fruitlessly against austerity, had the upper hand. The austerity movement had been discredited, along with the research from Reinhart and Rogoff that underpinned it.

In a similar act of failed design intelligence One of Forbes contributors, Tim Worstall, recently challenged Robert Reich for suggesting that a way for citizens to gain some countervailing power over large global corporations is for governments to threaten denial of market access unless corporations act responsibly. He argued, in Forbes, that the benefits to consumers of global corporations are so large that denial of market access would hurt citizens more than it would help them.

The "value to U.S. consumers of Apple is they can buy Apple products," Worstall writes. "Why would you want to punish U.S. consumers, by banning them from buying Apple products, just because Apple obeys the current tax laws?" If global corporations obeyed all national laws -- the spirit of the laws as well as the letter of them -- and didn't use their inordinate power to dictate the laws in the first place by otherwise threatening to take their jobs and investments elsewhere, there'd be no issue.

America however is plagued by a deeply embedded problem, Corporate power to manipulate laws by playing nations off against one another -- determining how much they pay in taxes, as well as how much they get in corporate welfare subsidies, how much regulation they're subject to, and so on -- that raises the question of how citizens can countermand this power.

Although lately it is not apparent consumer benefits may sometimes exceed such costs. It is not clear if that has ever happened. That is not measured or monitored. We have painfully learned over the years (the Wall Street meltdown, the BP oil spill in the Gulf, consumer injuries and deaths from unsafe

products, worker injuries and deaths from unsafe working conditions, climate change brought on by carbon dioxide emissions, and, yes, manipulation of the tax laws, that in fact the social costs, the impact of pandering to corporations, may in fact exceed consumer benefits.

Clearly the opinions of Mr. Worstall are not built on any mathematical foundation. Opinions certainly do shape our intellectual sphere. The impact of opinion however always embodies the danger of creating false premises and it is the inertia of false premises that largely holds our capacity to achieve cogent government within fixed limits. This inertia of false premises is the genesis of failed design intelligence. Decisions are made because these false ideologies are composed of false premises that nobody is challenging.

We must challenge the reason for an economics writer, with seemingly sophisticated national publication such as Forbes deny the existence of corporate power to circumvent or create favorable laws, or dismiss the social costs that corporations bent solely on maximizing profits routinely disregard.

Many of the world's most successful economies -- among them, China and Singapore -- owe their success in part to their conditioning market access on certain kinds of jobs and investments, including research and development. That's the way they have come to use global corporations, rather than be used by them.

It's the same approach Alexander Hamilton advocated more than two centuries ago in proposing how the United States develop its manufacturing industries. Suggesting that governments condition market access on receiving some of the social benefits that corporations now wield to play countries off against one another, such as good jobs or investments in research and development, certainly is not the mortal sin of denying the economics of comparative advantage.

Comparative advantage is nice in theory, but in a world where powerful global corporations are using every strategy imaginable to maximize their profits and powerful governments are strategically employing market access to develop their economies, it's just theory, and not one that dovetails well with austerity measures now favored by the conservatives in congress. Economics writers like those affiliated with Forbes magazine surely are sophisticated enough to know this as well. So why are they so eager to trot out such economic nonsense?

The inertia of false premises has extraordinary power. Perhaps because so much profit is at stake that those who pay their salaries -- and who have also put many academic economists on retainers -- prefer that they mislead the public with simplistic economic theory that appears to justify these profits rather than to tell the truth. That governments become the agents of their citizens in bargaining with global capital should hardly raise an eyebrow.

However the capitalist tools at Forbes, and elsewhere, must be worried that average citizens may be starting to see what's really going on, and might therefore take such a suggestion seriously.

Still, dispite the tampering economic growth has been surprisingly resilient, supported by the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policies. Most economists expect growth will slow mid-year as budget cuts come into effect. There is little reason to support this hope. Government spending fell even more sharply in the fourth quarter, and economists speculate that government agencies pulled back in anticipation of budget cuts initially due to begin in January but which took effect in March.

False premises are significant causation of failed Design Intelligence. The premises must be true and verifiable. We can’t continue to govern our nation on a collectively held belief, that has no purchase on fact or mathematical foundation. Almost all of the many problems we must deal with flow from failed reasoning or the absence of any reasoning what so ever.

In the first quarter, government spending dropped at a 4.9 percent annual rate, faster than the 4.1 percent rate initially estimated. Spending fell at federal, state and local government offices, though the majority of the later downward revision report came at the county and city level.

The drag from government and inventories was partially offset by an upward revision to consumer spending, which rose at a 3.4 percent annual rate, up two tenths of a point from the government's previous estimate. Decision making is often driven by market reporting, if such reporting was actually that reliable, then vast fortunes could be assembled quickly. Decision making requires diligent effort and a successful comprehension of the facts.

The inertia of false premises also infects our markets.

However, the fact is that a cloud hung over that category, as most of the upward revision was due to higher sales of gasoline. Higher prices at the pump are a burden on consumers, leaving them less money to spend on other things. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity. Forbes may not find much congruence with the wisdom it shares and the facts that manifest.

After-tax corporate profits fell at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the quarter, the first decline in a year as total imports grew at a slower pace in the first quarter than initially estimated, moderating the drag on growth from net trade. Excluding the volatile inventories component, GDP rose at an upwardly revised 1.8 percent rate, slightly higher than analysts had forecast. Austerity is making a simple and direct impact. The prediction as government spending continues to bite, is that the market will soon feel the sting.

Decisions based on bad information have a high probability of being more damaging rather than beneficial.

The debunking of Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff continues. The Harvard economists have argued that mistakes and omissions in their influential research on debt and economic growth don't change their ultimate austerity-justifying conclusion: That too much debt hurts growth.

Growth and debt are related only where the lack of capital inhibits the capacity for growth.

The claim that too much debt hurts growth is true or false based upon the actual composition of the problem structure. The generalization is a false premise and this claim has now been disproved by two new studies, which suggest the opposite might in fact be true: Slow growth leads to higher debt, not the other way around. The point is that both have the potential of being a false premise. Understanding the structure of the problem is the only path to a cogent solution. It is important to get to the full and complete comprehension of the matter on each and every case. A general rule always has the potential to become a false premise.

It is possible the root cause of the current economic problems of our nation flows from our trade agreements. Trade with China for example has had both positive and negative impacts, the one thing that coincides with our economic decline in the United States is our trade agreement with Communist China and the advent of the Bush Administration. One of the problems is that in China wages are less than $1.50 US per hour in the industrial sectors according to the National Bureau of Statistics. In the USA common wages in the industrial sector are $19.16 per hour. This stark comparison tells you everything you need to know about what is wrong in the United States with unprecedented economic forcing now on an unsustainable scale that drives jobs offshore and undermines the standard of living that our economy requires. The consequence of this impact alone suggests a bleak future for the working class.

In a post at Quartz, University of Michigan economics professor Miles Kimball and University of Michigan undergraduate student Yichuan Wang write that they have crunched Reinhart and Rogoff's data and found "not even a shred of evidence" that high debt levels lead to slower economic growth.

Now, a new paper by University of Massachusetts professor Arindrajit Dube finds evidence that Reinhart and Rogoff had the relationship between growth and debt backwards: Slow growth appears to cause higher debt, if anything.

As you can see from the chart from Dube's paper below, growth tends to be slower in the five years before countries have high debt levels. In the five years after they have high debt levels, there is no noticeable difference in growth at all, certainly not at the 90 percent debt-to-GDP level that Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 paper made infamous. Kimball and Wang present similar findings in their Quartz piece.

This contradicts the conclusion of Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 paper, "Growth in a Time of Debt," which has been used to justify austerity programs around the world. In that paper, and in many other papers, op-ed pieces and congressional testimony over the years, Reinhart And Rogoff have warned that high debt slows down growth, making it a huge problem to be dealt with immediately.

The human costs of this error have been enormous. Failed Design Intelligence always produces this outcome.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist called the authors "disingenuous" and the paper not "worthy of its authors."

Even after University of Massachusetts graduate student Thomas Herndon found Reinhart and Rogoff's work included errors and that their 2010 paper was missing important data, the researchers stood by their ultimate conclusion: that growth dropped off significantly after debt hit 90 percent of GDP. They claimed that austerity opponents like Paul Krugman have been so rude to them for no good reason.

But Krugman hasn't been shy about criticizing Ron Paul's economic theories, particularly his dislike of the Federal Reserve. Krugman said of Paul's interest in keeping the government out of monetary policy during a debate on Bloomberg TV "If you think that you can avoid that you're living in the world that was 150 years ago." Krugman's also called returning to the Gold Standard -- a view Paul's touted for years -- "an almost comically (and cosmically) bad idea."

Nor, after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that Paul Ryan would be his running mate, Krugman wasted little time deriding the Wisconsin Republican's views on the economy and budget. Krugman wrote of Ryan that he "evidently gets his ideas largely from deeply unrealistic fantasy novels."

And after Harvard professor Niall Ferguson (left) penned a Newsweek cover story arguing President Obama doesn't deserve a second term, Krugman demanded that the magazine issue a correction, starting a bit of a spat with the Newsweek columnist and historian. Krugman said of the cover story on his blog: "There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson's cover story in Newsweek -- I guess they don't do fact-checking." The Atlantic's Matthew O'Brien did a full fact-check of Ferguson's piece, which Ferguson defended himself against.

Krugman makes comments about everyone, he is not picking on anyone but simply being Krugman. The problem is simple to comprehend; They did not retract the paper.

At the same time, they have tried to distance themselves a bit from the spam problem of whether debt causes slow growth, or vice-versa. "The frontier question for research is the issue of causality," they said in their lengthy New York Times piece responding to Herndon.

It looks like they should have thought a little harder about that frontier question three years ago.

Of course the fact that two well-known Harvard economics professors made a silly spreadsheet error should not be a big deal. However the beauty of a spreadsheet error is that it is something that everyone can understand. We all know what it means to enter the wrong number or add the wrong columns. That doesn't require advanced training in economics.

The silly spreadsheet error was important in the debt debate controversy because it allowed for a real debate. Ordinarily Harvard economists don't engage their less credentialed colleagues at places like the University of Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, even the best reporters at the most prestigious news outlets rarely feel sufficiently knowledgeable to challenge pronouncements from prominent economists. This means that the profession must rely on internal policing to weed out bad arguments. The Reinhart-Rogoff 90 percent cliff was widely accepted policy wisdom for more than three years, which suggests the internal policing in the economics profession is pretty damn weak.

Reinhart-Rogoff show nothing about causation. Efforts to examine the direction of causation show that it goes almost entirely from slow growth to high debt (here and here) not from debt to slow growth as is generally implied in the policy debate. And, those who may have learned a bit of accounting would recall that debt is only half of a balance sheet. We would have to consider assets also if we really wanted to tell a story about how debt could impact growth.

The impact of false premises and human error are linked.

These points were made to a large swath of the public not because of the internal policing of the economics profession, but because of an Excel spreadsheet error. For this reason, those who care about honest academic and policy debates should be celebrating the spreadsheet error. If this embarrasses important people in the economics profession, that's because it is a profession that deserves to be embarrassed.

The other side of the argument from the mainstream of the profession, that Reinhart-Rogoff was not actually the basis for policy, also deserves ridicule. It was used that way. The essence of their case is that those pushing austerity would have done so whether or not they had the Reinhart-Rogoff studies. In other words, politicians wanted to push cuts in government spending because they wanted to push cuts in government spending, not because Reinhart-Rogoff's paper convinced them that these cuts were necessary to support growth.

The real question is what outcome do we want and how do we get there?

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat “it doesn’t matter. “ “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” said the Cheshire Cat. ~ Lewis Carroll

The fact that politicians respond to political pressures, not academic arguments is undoubtedly true. That is how politicians get elected. But the core issue is where do Americans want to go?

This is why everyone's bull***t detectors should be blasting off the charts every time they see a story about how a politician is acting based on their political philosophy or ideology. Politicians are acting based on the demands of their political supporters. They don't get elected based on their beautiful political philosophies. They get elected with money. Those who put up the money have a destination in mind. The destination should of course always be the best possible outcome for the many. Sadly for thirty years what has been achieved is the best outcome for those few who are wealthy.

The driving question is where does America, want to go? Do we want to continue to have an increasingly smaller share of the aggregate assets of the United States while the top 2% continue to have an increasingly larger share. For more than thirty years the American working class has been settling for an increasingly smaller share. Is that where we want to go and is that what the members of the congress think we want?

Alice wants to go home before home is completely impossible to attain.


When the mainstream economists tell us that the pushers of austerity would have done so even without Reinhart-Rogoff, this is not news. They have a destination in mind. However, the Reinhart-Rogoff story was hugely important in selling the austerity case to the larger public. It is much easier for politicians to say that we have to cut Social Security for widows and Head Start for children in order to avoid two decades of stagnation, than for them to say that these cuts are necessary in order to ensure that their campaign contributors don't have to pay more in taxes. Lies are tools that liars use to achieve whatever purpose they undertake, no matter how ruthless. They will even tell lies to empower a war, if the profits or other motivation is sufficient.

What we see is not a pretty picture of the state of economic policy debates, but the first step toward making it better is recognizing where things stand now. The core capacity of the people is to tell congress where we want to go. Austerity for the working class is not on the list and a fair distribution of the wealth created by our labor absolutely is. How is it plausible that almost half of the congress is “confused” about where Americans want to go?


When news broke that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting conservative groups, Republicans pounced on the revelations. House Speaker John Boehner memorably suggested that someone face prison time over it.
“My question isn’t about who’s going to resign,” he said last month. “My question is about who’s going to jail over this scandal.”


Because Liars are often popular and influencial.

But not all controversial government programs are created equal. The recent reports, for example, that showed the breadth of the government’s secret data collection have congressional Republicans divided.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on a Monday morning CBS interview said Congress would undertake a “very serious” investigation into the leaks of two secret National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs.

Executive branch officials have plans to brief Congress Monday on the disclosure of two programs amassing large amounts of data on cell phone and Internet usage by private U.S. citizens leaked last week.

“The investigation will be very serious,” the Republican representative from Virginia said Monday on CBS.

“If anyone were to violate the law by releasing classified information, outside the legal avenues, certainly that individual should be prosecuted at the full extent of the law,” Cantor said.

Remember the Bush era, when Republicans burnished their national security bona fides and helped author the Patriot Act. Boehner and current House Majority Leader and Eric Cantor voted for the bill in 2001, along with 355 of their colleagues, as did now-Senate Minority leader. The truth stands in stark contrast to the statements of Mr. Cantor today, what they voted into law was law designed to empower them to wire tap all of us any time and any where, without a court order or a body of evidence that supported the action, they literally created the equal of the KGB or worse and told us all that it would make us safer. LIARS are always dangerous! These Republicans are the same people who created these spying laws! ... to-snowden

Eric Cantor is a component of problem, spying on Americans is not something that any congressman should be defending!! But while many Americans are quite outraged at the existence of the NSA program itself, Cantor indicated that Congress will focus on whether Snowden broke any laws when he revealed its existence. Cantor said programs like the one run by NSA are needed to help thwart ongoing terrorist threats against the United States. Is he talking about me? Or is it you?

Erin Burnett
CNN anchor Erin Burnett said on her show "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Aug. 31 that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke may embark on another round of quantitative easing, a type of monetary stimulus, in order to help Obama get reelected and keep his own job. But the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is independent and makes its monetary policy decisions based on how the economy is doing. Also, Bernanke is a registered Republican and was appointed by George W. Bush.

CNN anchor Erin Burnett claimed on her show "Erin Burnett OutFront" in September that the Federal Reserve's stimulus measures have caused food and gas prices to rise. But there has been no correlation between the two.

Karl Rove
Republican political strategist Karl Rove and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said in December 2008 that journalists exaggerated the economic crisis then so that anything under President Obama would be an improvement. But the economy really was in a deep recession at the time.

Donald Trump
Real estate mogul Donald Trump told CNBC in September that the Federal Reserve is "creating phony numbers and they're doing it through stimulus."

Ron Paul
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), who believes America should abolish the Federal Reserve and go back to the gold standard, said in 2010 that the New York Fed might not have any gold in its vaults, according to The Motley Fool. Actually, it does.

Jack Welch
Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, tweeted on Friday that President Obama's team must have cooked the September jobs numbers in order to help his reelection chances. But these claims are baseless: The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an independent agency that conducts scientific random surveys.

Rush Limbaugh
Conservative talk show host and professional LIAR Rush Limbaugh claimed in December 2008 that President Obama helped cause the financial crisis so that he could gain power. (Hat tip: Business Insider.)
Long before Jack Welch accused the Bureau of Labor Statistics of cooking its books to help President Obama on Oct. 5, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh claimed in February that the Bureau of Labor Statistics' seasonal adjustment of the jobs numbers amounted to cooking the books to help President Obama. He said that "the raw number" from December to January meant "we lost two million jobs." But economists agree that seasonal adjustment is critical for month-to-month measurements, since there are seasonal factors that add noise to the data otherwise. (Hat tip: Business Insider.)

We do want answers as to exactly why the government is spying on all of us, rather than spying on the enemy?

The No. 2 Republican in the House says Congress is now ..."perplexed"... about government eavesdropping and wants more answers from the Obama administration. This man acted to empower the spying on the American people. These same Republicans fought for and passed this legislation.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Congress enacted legislation authorizing broader information-gathering powers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and it "was done in a constitutional manner."


But now, Cantor tells CBS "This Morning," many lawmakers "don't know what happened and we've got to find out." The problem is political lies designed to create the appearance that Obama is the president that created the unlimited spying on American citizens and not the presidency of George W. Bush.

The Virginia Republican says lawmakers hope to learn more details in briefings from various administration officials on Capitol Hill this week. Cantor notes "Congress is responsible for the oversight of this program" and members of the House and Senate want to know more about it. He said there should be a prosecution if anyone leaked classified information. Cantor is a Liar who plays politics with our lives and our future.

His role is to control the narrative.

Can the inertia of false premises be held within fixed limits? Design Intelligence mandates correction of error. Error is a barrier to the proper execution of the government’s responsibility to take Americans into the future that they want. Anything that is not progress for the many is not part of the solution.

There is a lot that is right with America. It is however necessary to ask; What is wrong with America?

Fixing error is necessary. There are more than 2.3 million people in prison in this country. And not one of them is a “government contracting corporation”. They have no physical natural body. Much has been stolen by these corporations. That is going to stop!

Contracts under the Bush administration were frequently given to contractors who had no competitor.

Actual human beings -- the kind with brains and hearts rather than balance sheets and income statements -- they go to jail when they do wrong. And corporations that do wrong? They get more government contracts. That is going to stop. It must stop because it embodies great risk to America as a free nation and it abandons Design Intelligence, every member of the congress has an obligation to work diligently to serve the interests of the American people. Corporations are not people. Corporation are organizations composed of people. Liars deliver no value to the American people. Let us be rid of them all.

In the United States, we have executed a 14-year-old, in the electric chair, after he was offered ice cream in return for a confession. (George Stinney - look it up.) But there has been no capital punishment for contractors who steal millions, or even billions, from the taxpayer. Because a lot of money is missing, and nobody went to jail, we question the system and confront the process.

This week that changed. The house passed two amendments this week, on two different Federal spending bills, to put an end to taxpayer dollars going to corporate criminals. These amendments say that government contractors who lie, cheat, and steal will now get the “death penalty”. If you cheat the taxpayer, you're toast. If you evade Federal taxes, it's all over. If you rig bids or forge documents, goodbye to you. No more government contracts, not ever, never again as in forever. And for government contractors, cutting off government money is a death sentence.

We have fought hard for this. We owe nothing to corporations that lie, steal and cheat. So what is happening right now is that we are going to attach this corporate death penalty amendment to every spending bill we can. Change can happen. Design Intelligence is possible.

I'm sure you've heard that, supposedly, it is absolutely impossible to accomplish anything in DC these days. It's dysfunctional, broken, hyper-partisan, nothing's going to happen, no-way-no-how. But we have a secret recipe for getting things done. How does a Democrat, manage to pass these amendments through the Republican-controlled House?

It's called hard work for a reason because it actually works. It is a beginning.

The current crop of Conservative Tea Party Republicans in our nation's capital have managed to accomplish something they only dreamed of when Tea Partiers streamed into Congress at the start of 2011: They've basically shut Congress down. That does not appear to be a worthy goal of those who are charged with bringing a correction to government. Change for the better is somehow not clearly understood by the nature of it’s urgency.

Their refusal to compromise is working just as they had hoped: No jobs agenda. No budget. No grand bargain on the deficit. No background checks on guns. Nothing on climate change. No tax reform. No hike in the minimum wage. Nothing so far on immigration reform. They are deliberately stalling out the government and putting critical issues on hold. It is time for them to be awakened to the reality that they have a responsibility to the many. The continue to serve the wealthy at our expense.

It's as if an entire branch of the federal government -- the branch that's supposed to deal directly with the nation's problems, not just execute the law or interpret the law but make the law -- has gone out of business, leaving behind only a so-called "sequester" that's cutting deeper and deeper into education, infrastructure, programs for the nation's poor, and national defense.

The window of opportunity for the president to get anything done is closing rapidly. Even in less partisan times, new initiatives rarely occur after the first year of a second term, when a president inexorably slides toward lame duck status.

But the nation's work doesn't stop even if Washington does. By default, more and more of it is shifting to the states, which are far less gridlocked than Washington. Last November's elections resulted in one-party control of both the legislatures and governor's offices in all but 13 states -- the most single-party dominance in decades.

This means many blue states are moving further left, while red states are heading rightward. In effect, America is splitting apart without going through all the trouble of a civil war.

Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, for example, now controls both legislative chambers and the governor's office for the first time in more than two decades. The legislative session that ended a few weeks ago resulted in a hike in the top income tax rate to 9.85 percent, an increased cigarette tax, and the elimination of several corporate tax loopholes. The added revenues will be used to expand early-childhood education, freeze tuitions at state universities, fund jobs and economic development, and reduce the state budget deficit. Along the way, Minnesota also legalized same-sex marriage and expanded the power of trade unions to organize.

California and Maryland passed similar tax hikes on top earners last year. The governor of Colorado has just signed legislation boosting taxes by $925 million for early-childhood education and K-12 (the tax hike will go into effect only if residents agree, in a vote is likely in November).

On the other hand, the biggest controversy in Kansas is between Gov. Sam Brownback, who wants to shift taxes away from the wealthy and onto the middle class and poor by repealing the state's income tax and substituting an increase in the sales tax, and Kansas legislators who want to cut the sales tax as well, thereby reducing the state's already paltry spending for basic services. Kansas recently cut its budget for higher education by almost 5 percent.

Other rightward-moving states are heading in the same direction. North Carolina millionaires are on the verge of saving $12,500 a year, on average, from a pending income-tax cut even as sales taxes are raised on the electricity and services that lower-income depend residents depend on. Missouri's transportation budget is half what it was five years ago, but lawmakers refuse to raise taxes to pay for improvements.

The states are splitting as dramatically on social issues. spam marriages are now recognized in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado and Washington state permit the sale of marijuana, even for non-medical uses. California is expanding a pilot program to allow nurse practitioners to perform abortions.

Meanwhile, other states are enacting laws restricting access to abortions so tightly as to arguably violate the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. In Alabama, the mandated waiting period for an abortion is longer than it is for buying a gun.

Speaking of which, gun laws are moving in opposite directions as well.

Connecticut, California, and New York are making it harder to buy guns. Yet if you want to use a gun to kill someone who's, say, spray-painting a highway underpass at night, you might want to go to Texas, where it's legal to shoot someone who's committing a "public nuisance" under the cover of dark. Or you might want to live in Kansas, which recently enacted a law allowing anyone to carry a concealed firearm onto a college campus.

The states are diverging sharply on almost every issue you can imagine. If you're an undocumented young person, you're eligible for in-state tuition at public universities in 14 states (including Texas). But you might want to avoid driving in Arizona, where state police are allowed to investigate the immigration status of anyone they suspect is here illegally.

And if you're poor and lack health insurance you might want to avoid a state like Wisconsin that's refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though the federal government will be picking up almost the entire tab.

Federalism is as old as the Republic, but not since the real Civil War have we witnessed such a clear divide between the states on central issues affecting Americans.

Some might say this is a good thing. It allows more of us to live under governments and laws we approve of. And it permits experimentation: Better to learn that a policy doesn't work at the state level, where it's affected only a fraction of the population, than after it's harmed the entire nation. As the jurist Louis Brandies once said, our states are "laboratories of democracy."

But the trend raises three troubling issues.

First, it leads to a race to bottom. Over time, middle-class citizens of states with more generous safety nets and higher taxes on the wealthy will become disproportionately burdened as the wealthy move out and the poor move in, forcing such states to reverse course. If the idea of "one nation" means anything, it stands for us widely sharing the burdens and responsibilities of citizenship.

Second, it doesn't take account of spillovers -- positive as well as negative. Semi-automatic pistols purchased without background checks in one state can easily find their way to another state where gun purchases are restricted. By the same token, a young person who receives an excellent public education courtesy of the citizens of one states is likely to move to another state where job opportunity are better. We are interdependent. No single state can easily contain or limit the benefits or problems it creates for other states.

Finally, it can reduce the power of minorities. For more than a century "states rights" has been a euphemism for the efforts of some whites to repress or deny the votes of black Americans. Now that minorities are gaining substantial political strength nationally, devolution of government to the states could play into the hands of modern-day white supremacists.
A great nation requires a great, or at least functional, national government. The Tea Partiers and other government-haters who have caused Washington to all but close because they refuse to compromise are threatening all that we aspire to be together.


Evil embodied in Legal Government spying on the American people has now come to the surface again. This time there is no plausible deniability.

The whistleblower who claims responsibility for revealing this threat to American freedom for providing The Guardian with top-secret documents that revealed the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs, has revealed his identity, Sunday June 9th 2013.

The Guardian disclosed that it was publishing Edward Snowden's identity at his request:

From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. 'I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,' he said.

It is our opinion that he has in fact rendered a great service to the interests of freedom world wide. Walker Architects praises Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA technical assistant and current employee of Booz Allen Hamilton. We acknowledge the similarity to the courage of Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world's most secretive organizations – the NSA," Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras wrote for the guardian.

Snowden is a national hero, who has in our opinion exposed the very evil all Americans who love their freedom fear.

Snowden, however, said there were differences between himself and others. "I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he told The Guardian. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."

Snowden's identity revelation followed Greenwald's appearance on ABC News'

"This Week," where he told host George Stephanopoulos that the public should expect more revelations from him. Greenwald is the journalist responsible for breaking the bombshell story about the NSA secretly collecting phone data from millions of Verizon customers. Greenwald then raced the Washington Post to break the story about Prism, a program that allows the NSA to collect data from some of the country's largest Internet companies (including AOL, HuffPost's parent company). That this conduct is already engaged without disclosure to the subscribers and users of these service providers, thus, it opens the door to law suits against these companies. These companies must now be prepared to defend themselves at law for following the requirements… apparently… of the law.

This is failed Design Intelligence at work! This failure is the thing that holds our society and our nation hostage, it shortchanges all of us of the lifestyle we should be able to achieve, it creates erosion not only of our freedom but of our potential. Failed Design Intelligence is a thief that steals our hopes and our dreams wearing the mask of law. Now the privacy of every American and every free citizen of the world is at risk. To accomplish what?

After turning over the documents to The Guardian, Snowden fled to Hong Kong, where he sat for an interview with Greenwald and watched Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Snowden lived in Hawaii with his -, but told the UK paper that he was willing to give all of that up. He said:

“I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building.”

Snowden expects the Obama administration to investigate and accuse him of violating the Espionage Act, as the administration has done to an unprecedented number of leakers. The Obama administration should not prosecute an American hero. The reality is the government has been spying on all of us. Rather than prosecute the Obama Administration should shut down this surveillance operation completely. From now on every American must remember that the government will be listening in on every communication we have. Failed Design Intelligence has just become more expensive to the government than any nation of free people could ever peacefully endure.

It is game over, if the president fails to shut this down and abandon these tactics, designed to strip the right to speak freely from the American people, then I must condemn this breach of the constitutions intent, that empowers free speech and demand that all such programs designed to spy on the American people be immediately stripped of funding and shut down as unconstitutional. What else is appropriate?

Well… none of this is actually new. For Thomas Drake, the former National Security Agency employee who blew the whistle on the agency’s expansive post-9/11 surveillance programs in 2006, the latest revelation of blanket surveillance is simply “déjà vu.”

Drake, who was indicted under the Espionage Act and faced life in prison before federal charges against him were eventually dropped, told Salon Thursday that news that the NSA had a top secret order to retain millions of Americans’ phone records daily came as “no surprise.”

“Since 9/11, with the help of a series of enabling legislation, this sort of surveillance has become routine and institutionalized,” he said. “That order is extraordinary in showing how routine this is,” noted Drake — referring to the top secret government order obtained by the Guardian, in which telecom giant Verizon is commanded “on a daily basis” to provide the NSA with “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad, or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

Drake pointed out, “That literally entails all phone records, or every subscriber, home phone lines, business lines, cell phones … And that can include location tracking in metadata.” As Drake, alongside his former attorney and friend at the Government Accountability Project Jesselyn Raddack, has long stressed, these sort of surveillance practices have only the weakest pretense of national security interests. They are blanket and without specific target. “Now we are all persons of interest,” Drake told Salon.

This is what a Design Intelligence failure looks like. It always creates an expensive disaster.

Drake’s Espionage Act charges were dropped, but only after years of intense government harassment, with the threat of 35 years in prison over his head; he has called the effects of his indictment “life-ruining.” For the whistle-blower, who has seen and spoken out about the government’s hoarder-like attitude to communications data, the shock is that the media is surprised by the latest NSA revelation. “We’re seeing an actual order and people are surprised by it. But these surveillance practices have been going on since after 9/11,” he said, noting that “the PATRIOT Act was the enabling mechanism that allowed the United States government in secret to acquire subscriber records from any company.”

Consequently we join many others in protest of these actions taken by the intelligence community. We seek a swift and cogent correction of this flawed legislation and an abatement of the abuse.

We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.

The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by a career intelligence officer showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments. As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.

Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers. The data collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other "identifying information" for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect their right to privacy.

We are calling on the Congress of the United States of America to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:

1. Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;

2. Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;
3. Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
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Postby psikeyhackr » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:55 pm

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