Sunday, August 30, 2015

NEW GAME IN TOWN: "Trumpeting Lawsuits: Win or Lose Tons of Money"

Plaintiffs: "Give us our money back, you crook...!!!"
Trump's Legal Army: "F**k you...!!! Get lost."
(photo snagged from Yahoo.news)

Eye-catching story from a very excellent investigative reporter: Michael Isikoff  — from the article (my emphasis added) here in part:  

Kathleen Meese, an upstate New York schoolteacher, plunked down $25,000 five years ago for “Gold Elite” courses at Trump University — a for-profit educational outfit owned by Donald J. Trump that promised prospective students it would teach them how to “make a killing” in the real estate market.
“But, Meese later complained to New York state regulators she was conned. Her Trump University instructor — supposedly an “expert” who was “handpicked” by Trump — turned out to be a failed businessman who had filed for bankruptcy and was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, according to court records.
Her Trump University “mentors,” who she was told would counsel her about real estate deals, were unreachable; their phone numbers disconnected, she asserted. Even a promised photo session with Trump never materialized. What she got instead: a photo of herself with “a cardboard cutout” of Trump, she says.
“Donald Trump received $25,000 of my money,” Meese wrote in a sworn affidavit filed with the New York attorney general’s office, reviewed by Yahoo News. “For $25,000, I have a lifetime membership to nothing!
Meese is one of more than 150 former Trump University students whose complaints are the basis for a $40 million lawsuit against Trump brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
"First filed two years ago and still active, the suit accuses Trump of pocketing $5 million in profits while running “an unlicensed, illegal educational institution” that “intentionally” misled students and engaged in a “pattern of deceptions” that included false advertisements, “bait and switch tactics” and other “misrepresentations and fraudulent practices.”  
This story continues at the link above – it is definitely worth tracking and following until November 2016, earlier perhaps (if resolved), but hopefully not later should it follow T-rump into the W/H – ouch…)!!

Stay tuned for sure.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Come to U.S. Under False Pretense Have Child Expect No Repercussion

Chinese Baby Business Hotels

This is illegal activity, isn't it? Kind of like fraud made legal by a legal loophole? 

The “birth hotel” business is legal in China, but the tactics for entering the U.S. are not. For example:

1.  The pregnant women are coached about how to lie about their purpose of a visit by listing “tourism” thus making it easier to get a visa and enter the country, technically under false pretenses.

2.  They are also told to hide their pregnancies when going through U.S. immigration and customs to avoid declaration about
traveling here for any kind of medical treatment due to their pregnancy.

Two articles related to this story follow. And, yes, this is a growing and major concern for many reasons and should be our lawmakers to find a fix – whatever that means needs to be done – this problem will only grow and possibly out of control – who can say “that’s okay, keep breaking the law to come here – we won’t blame the child.”

I say close the loophole and if anyone is here illegally or under false pretenses, then the birth of their child resorts to their native country not the U.S.  I know it sounds harsh, but so are their tactics to break the law of the good graces of our country.

Simply stated: come here legally and rightfully so. Then there will be no problems for the parents or their children who are born here. Illegal means just that, doesn’t it: unlawful. And, fraud is fraud, isn't it?

Monday, August 24, 2015

GOP Shot at Planned Parenthood a Million Times All Goose Eggs (Misses)

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood President

Will they Ever Get the Message

The issue about Planned Parenthood caught on tape selling aborted fetus body parts was an extremely hot topic for what, a week or so, and it was presented in an way that angered a lot of people. But it turned out to be another typical GOP-Rightwing-FOX driven dirty trick (stunt) that took the country to the edge of utter nonsense and insanity over what: heavily reedited (doctored) videotapes of PP members supposedly making deals to undercover "journalists." The obvious agenda as it turns out was clear. Yet the GOP-RW-FOX pundits continue to say: “There is no war on women.” Do tell…?? So, how about some honesty from reputable sources, shall we?  

The source article for this piece is here:  More and more medical studies and articles are being released about an issue that should be taken off the table completely. The right for a woman to make her own reproductive choices should be a given. That woman’s right is continuously challenged mostly by (1) misogynistic, (2) anti-choice, and (3) mostly Republican lawmakers.

They seem to have nothing better to do with our tax money. Those same rights are also continuously challenged by religious extremists, who wish to subjugate and control the bodies, minds, and lives of women.

Earlier this year, a Gallup Poll revealed that the majority of American men and women are pro-choice, and the never-ending attacks, especially against Planned Parenthood, a prominent health organization for women and men. This time the attack has to do with fetal tissue.

Several articles in the New England Journal of Medicine have recently been published about the Planned Parenthood controversy. Three medical doctors and a juris doctor have all contributed their expert views and perspectives about fetal tissue research regarding Planned Parenthood. Here are some excerpts from those articles highlighted to emphasize the key point:

That extract was drawn from NEMJ article: Fetal Tissue Fallout, by Alt Charo, J.D.

So, is this done and gone like so many other “no there, there" GOP ginned up issues that seems to crop up weekly in the GOP effort to get another “hot” Hillary campaign killer, or another ruin President Obama forever issue, or another big DEM party a-bomb finisher.

We could list them all day and each ends the same way: As a dead end ... In short: the GOP has no shame. So, are they done – ha – not likely. At least until November 9, 2016 (and if  they lose - Katy Bar the Door).

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A New Flim-Flam Man Has Arrived in Living Color: What a Show

Oh, yeah, the hair is real and I am a genius. Just ask me. 

Groucho Marx

Let's start this way, shall we with this great quote from Groucho Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”

Boy truer words were never spoken, whether by Groucho Marx or anyone else when it comes to watching the Donald J. Trump “Flim-Flam Reality Show,” ala right now. Don’t believe me, then just watch and listen to him.

Background on the analogy that this very good article makes, and I do agree:

Have you made the connection between the Music Man, the Flim Flam Man, Tripping over Trump, and the Iowa State Fair?  Way back when …in 1962, Music Man, the musical, turned up giving us the Flim-Flam man, a salesman extraordinaire, who comes to IOWA to sell a bogus band, a cadre of instruments, stacks of ‘patriotic red’ uniforms of every size and shape, and music lessons transforming the bored kids of River City, Iowa into Suzuki Kid wonders. […] He sells the grown-ups generalities (nothing wrong with that) and points up the sham of the many other Flim-Flam men! He says what he thinks. He promises good times ahead and to love and take care of everybody while making us big and tough in the world once more. Yep, there is nothing wrong with making people feel good. A new day is a comin’ Trump-style!”

That’s my set up – now the “reality” of this new “Trump-sponsored Show” wherein he is the product being sold; the act or gimmick being pitched; nay, it is he himself, the slick salesman selling himself to be hired and not anyone else or not any off-shore bank or mortgage scheme artist, either; just Donald J. Trump (you can shout “You’re fired..!!” at time before you finish this post).

But however you or anyone feels about him, he is the center of attraction, the main event – hell just look at all the free PR even at silly-ass blogs like mine that he gets, 24/7. No wonder he can pledge to spend $1 billion of his own money if need be, the rest of the PR stuff is free. What a deal – that a first rate scheme just like a real life Flim-Flam man, Kevin Trudeau, who hid millions off-shore from his TV schemes.

But, the question is really simple: “Can Trump be elected president, but more importantly, should he?” Some traditionalists will say sure, hell why not. Look at some others we have put in the White House – so, why not a silly billionaire with wild ideas about everyone and who only cares about himself and knows squat about squat to keep the spotlight on, but only on himself?

The proverbial icing on this cake today might very well be this truly excellent piece by Jack Shafer here – his introduction alone is a keeper: “To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, in Donald J. Trump we finally have a presidential candidate who will keep us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”

Finally this short clip from NBC (Meet the Press) shows the kind of man he really is and it matters now how I feel or think or post about him or what millions of others think, either. It will all come down to the process we have in place to see if the man can get the GOP nod and go all the way until November 2016.

I say simply: God, I hope not. At least not to go across the finish line. Imagine the White House being relabeled as another “Trump Tower?” 

Thanks for stopping ... I hope you enjoyed this as much as I have posting it. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

You’ve Got Mail and NSA Has It Too — Still Feel Safe and Free

AT&T Text Message to the NSA: We Are Open for Business. 
Here's the Key to the Goodies.

Both 100% True and Accurate
(based on current history)

Quite a long post, but one that needs to be reported on again. The vast majority of this post today is drawn from ProPublica with my editing to allow it to fit this blog format and intent and without modifying the excellent source article … (BTW: AT&T is my carrier).

The NSA’s ability to capture Internet traffic on United States soil has been based on an extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: AT&T.
While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed NSA documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”
AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the NSA access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. They have also provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the UN headquarters, also a customer of AT&T. One NSA document reminds NSA officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting: “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.” A range of documents provided by Edward Snowden were jointly reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica.  NSA, AT&T, and Verizon all have declined to discuss the findings from the files.
At this point, I need to insert a few comments based on the canned statement by AT&T and Verizon and the NSA that we hear all the time regarding that document review and that is this in part:  “We don’t comment on matters of national security.”
1.  Recently, a group of AT&T customers claimed that the NSA’s tapping of the Internet violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and they sued.
2.  A federal judge just dismissed key portions of that lawsuit after the Obama administration argued that “…public discussion of its telecom surveillance efforts would reveal state secrets, damaging national security.” (I insert: please tell us how national security is damaged by AT&T examining millions of American emails and text messages? We do have the right to know – keeping us safe is not a good excuse if we are not safe from government prying into our daily and very personal lives).
3.  All the while, our government has been fighting in court to keep the identities of its telecom partners hidden. (I insert, why? What are they ashamed of? We as consumers of their services have the right to know who they are since we have the right to drop them as our provider – that right is ours,  not government’s or the providers – so, tell us who all of them are)...!
NOTE: The NSA documents do not identify AT&T or other companies by name, instead they refer to corporate partnerships run by the agency’s Special Source Operations (SSO) division using code names. The division is responsible for more than 80 percent of the information the NSA collects, one document states. 
(I insert: So, they can be ultra-secret with code names while we pay them openly using their real names – I see, I see … what a crock. FYI: Is paying a spy agency a tax deductible item, I wonder?).
Fairview is one of its oldest programs. It began in 1985, the year after antitrust regulators broke up the Ma Bell telephone monopoly and its long-distance division became AT&T Communications.
Stormbrew is another program named that is run by NSA and it has included Verizon and the former MCI, which Verizon purchased in 2006. One describes a Stormbrew cable landing that is identifiable as one that Verizon operates. Another names a contact person whose LinkedIn profile says he is a longtime Verizon employee with a top-secret clearance.
Lookback:  After 9/11, AT&T and MCI were instrumental in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping programs, according to a draft report by the NSA IG.  That report, disclosed by Edward Snowden and previously published by The Guardian, does not identify the companies by name but describes their market share in numbers that correspond to those two businesses according to FCC reports. For example: AT&T began turning over emails and phone calls “within days” after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001. MCI did not start until February 2002.
In September 2003, according to NSA documents, AT&T was the first partner to turn on a new collection capability that the NSA said amounted to a “live’ presence on the global net.” In one of its first months of operation, the Fairview program forwarded to NSA some 400 billion Internet metadata records — which include who contacted whom and other details, but not what they said. That program was “forwarding more than one million emails a day to the keyword selection system” at the agency headquarters in Fort Meade, MD.  Stormbrew was still gearing up to use the new technology, which appeared to process foreign-to-foreign traffic separate from the post-9/11 program.
Specifically how the whole shebang works:
Because of the way the Internet works, intercepting a targeted person’s email requires copying pieces of many other people’s emails, too, and sifting through those pieces.
Plaintiffs have been trying without success to get courts to address whether copying and sifting pieces of all those emails violates the Fourth Amendment.
Many privacy advocates have suspected that AT&T was giving the NSA a copy of all Internet data to sift for itself.  One 2012 presentation says the NSA does not “typically have direct access to telecoms’ hubs.” Instead, the telecoms do the sifting and forwarding of messages the government believes it may legally collect to NSA for analysis and I guess storage.
Precisely, companies that sort the data has allowed NSA to bring different surveillance powers to bear in the operation of sorting and collecting.
NOTE: Targeting someone on American soil requires a court order under the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).
When a foreigner abroad is communicating with an American, that law permits the government to target that foreigner without a warrant, however, the American’s stuff is captured, too.  When foreigners are messaging other foreigners, the FISA law does not apply and the government can collect such emails in bulk without targeting anyone. 
Related Key Documents and a Timeline Related to this Story:
  1. Special Source Operations: Corporate Partner Access
  2. Cyber Threats and Special Source Operations
  3. Excerpts from the Spy Dictionary
  4. NSA’s Corporate Portfolio
  5. One Million Emails a Day From AT&T
  6. Fairview Defined
  7. Fairview Data Schematics
  8. AT&T Confirms "Foreignness" for Stormbrew
  9. Spying on the United Nations
  10. Billions of AT&T Cellphone Records
  11. The Cable Break Due to the Japanese Earthquake
  12. AT&T’s ‘Extreme Willingness to Help’
  13. AT&T’s ‘Highly Collaborative Nature’
  14. Verizon's Cable Station Installs NSA Collection Systems

1984:  The “Ma Bell” phone monopoly breaks up into regional “Baby Bells” and a long-distance company that retains the AT&T name and enters the computer business.
1985: NSA launches Fairview program partnership with a single partner, AT&T, according to internal documents. AT&T’s first big contract as a standalone company is a nearly $1 billion agreement to provide computers and services to the National Security Agency, according to news reports at the time.
2001: In the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passes the Patriot Act. President George W. Bush also secretly authorizes a warrantless wiretapping program known as Stellar Wind. AT&T is the first company to start turning over records under both programs, according to internal documents.
2003: AT&T is forwarding more than 1 million emails per day and 400 million Internet metadata records a month to the NSA, according to internal documents.
2003–2006: For three years, AT&T provides the FBI with illegal ‘sneak peeks’ at the calling records for communities of hundreds of people without legally valid requests for the information, according to congressional testimony by FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni. Verizon told Congress it did not provide similar community information.
2005: The New York Times reveals President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program.
2006: Former AT&T engineer Mark Klein publicly reveals in a lawsuit a secret room in AT&T’s San Francisco office that he says siphons traffic to the NSA.
2008: Congress passes the FISA Amendments Act, legalizing portions of warrantless wiretapping and granting legal immunity to AT&T and other telecommunications companies for their participation in it.
2009: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses the case based on Klein’s allegations, citing the immunity granted to telecommunications companies by Congress.
2011: AT&T starts delivering 1.1 billion of its customers’ cellphone calling records per day to the NSA, under the Patriot Act business records provision, according to internal documents.
2013: Edward Snowden blows the whistle and passes journalists a trove of NSA documents that reveal the vast scope of NSA spying.
2015: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismisses key portions of another constitutional challenge to AT&T’s fiber taps, after the government argued that any discussion of its collaborations with telecom companies was a state secret.
In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the NSA after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the tenth anniversary of 9/11,” according to an internal agency newsletter. This revelation is striking because after Snowden disclosed the program of collecting the records of Americans’ phone calls, intelligence officials told reporters that, for technical reasons, it consisted mostly of landline phone records.
That year, one slide presentation shows, the NSA spent $188.9 million on the Fairview program, twice the amount spent on Stormbrew, its second-largest corporate program.
After the Times disclosed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005, plaintiffs began trying to sue AT&T and the NSA In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that three years earlier he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the NSA had installed equipment. Klein claimed that AT&T was providing the NSA with access to Internet traffic that AT&T transmits for other telecom companies.
Such cooperative arrangements, known in the industry as “peering,” mean that communications from customers of other companies could end up on AT&T’s network. (Note: also reported by PBS FRONTLINE show). After Congress passed a 2008 law legalizing the Bush program and immunizing the telecom companies for their cooperation with it, that lawsuit was thrown out. But the newly disclosed documents show that AT&T has provided access to peering traffic from other companies’ networks.
AT&T’s “corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and ISP’s,” one 2013 NSA document states.
So, here “We the People” are today: “Safe, dumb, and somewhat sorry” with our hands tied as our ISP forks over our most-private emails and calls to keep us free while ISIS/ISIL and others continue to blow up the world. I guess ISIS/ISIL are AT&T customers, or that the NSA is not interested in intercepting their bombing schedules (but I hope they truly are).
In this era this must be the new price of freedom and safety: Total submission to snooping and spying by “our” government – representative democracy in action, right…?? I guess so.

Monday, August 17, 2015

T-rump Immigration Policy: Three Bullet Points and Problem Solved

There it it ... all rolled up into a nice little neat package... 
(he will whim until he gets his way)

Below is a lively discussion about T-rump's policy statement (maybe his only statement to date - officially released by his campaign). Neat clip provided from the Chris Matthews Show here:

T-rump is clever in playing on the worst fears of people projecting it as rational or somehow logical policy — it is anything but rational or logical.

A better bumper sticker for his campaign would be this badge and for all of us to ponder. BTW: pass that sticker along to Gov. Scott "Koch lackey" Walker too for his crazy 14th Amendment repeal proposal, also seen in the clip.

Thanks for stopping by as usual. Come again.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

We the People Need Systemic Change to Truly Fix Our Democratic Process

The Three Most-Important Words in the English Language
(they introduce that one sentence of a mere 52 words)

Constant Combat on Thin Ice

I'll post this since there are tons of other places to dig deeper in the subject I want to address which is “The many problems in our democracy” like here, here, here, and here — FYI. 

But, this my short laundry list: 

We are a nation of some 320 million and most of us (adult and voting age primarily I think) believe and agree that when we broke from England that no one likes nor favors royalty for our system.

Yet we still tend to go for more Bushes, Clinton's, Paul's, Romney’s, and a ton of family members taking over family member seats in Congress, at many state and local levels, and many appointed offices as well. Why that disconnect do you suppose? Certainly there are many millions clearly eligible to serve, so why not?

I argue our current system wherein we have tons of big money, lousy and carefully controlled gerrymandering, narrow party nominating process, and lots of slick lobbying, etc. that is all adds up to the poor system we keep sustaining. It is the #1 cause and until that changes nothing positive is apt to follow that we sorely need. Sadly, we the people (that we invoke frequently) lack any positive avenue to make or get any good positive change. That is clear.

That is why those aforementioned people and groups I mentioned keep those rules in place – to obviously favor them and their survival in power.

And, that is why this is their philosophical mascot surrounded by all that green stuff (the common thread [reasonable cause] I strongly believe):

Friday, August 14, 2015

Social Security Disability: GOP Plans to Fix a Non-Existing Problem

FDR Signs Social Security Act in August 1935
(GOP has attacked it ever since)

Apropos Tag Precisely

Extracts from this fine article at Alternet.org here used to introduce this post:

1.  The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is set to be the next big battle in Republicans’ long campaign to dismantle Social Security.
2.  In other words, despite Republican claims to the contrary, the disability insurance program isn't seeing an abnormal uptick in people gaming the system. As American society ages, with a demographic bubble for Baby Boomers, the SSDI program's enrollment mirrors these trends. 

Yet, the GOP refuses to accept the facts as they gin up their own fake or false facts to fit their agenda that conflicts with the Alternet article and the following, provided in much more detail:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Social Security just turned 80 this month since President Roosevelt signed the “Social Security Act on August 14, 1935. A few critical points we all need to know about this, the Federal government's largest program as it celebrates that 80th birthday:
  1. The program is showing its age while still remaining popular with over 60 million Americans.
  2. Social Security's disability fund is projected to run dry next year. The retirement fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2035. But once the fund is depleted, the shortfalls are projected to be enormous, and the stakes are huge.
  3. Today, nearly 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get monthly Social Security payments.
  4. That number is projected to grow to 90 million over the next two decades.
  5. The timing is bad now more so because Social Security faces those problems as fewer employers offer any kind of traditional pension thus forcing older workers to think hard about how they will afford retirement.

WHY IS SOCIAL SECURITY AT RISK? Social Security's long-term financial problems are largely a result of demographic changes. Every day, about 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65. These are the baby boomers. Typical boomers, however, didn't have as many children as their parents did. As a result, relatively fewer workers are left to pay the payroll taxes that support Social Security. In 1960, there were more than five workers for every person receiving Social Security. Today there are fewer than three. In 20 years, there will be about two workers for every person getting benefits. So, it really is about jobs, taxes and money going into the system from current workers to help older workers and so on – which is the purpose of this program is supposed to work. Plus, Americans are also living longer. In 1940, someone who was 65 could be expected to live about 14 more years, on average. Today, they can expect to live an additional 20 years, on average, well into their 80s in many cases or longer.
BENEFITS:  Last year, Social Security paid benefits of nearly $850 billion — about a quarter of all federal spending. The average monthly payment is $1,221. That comes to about $14,700 a year. For most retirees, Social Security accounts for the majority of their income, according to the Social Security Administration.
WHAT HAPPENS IN 2016: The trust fund that supports Social Security's disability program is projected to run dry in late 2016 — right in the middle of the presidential election. If Congress allows that to happen, it will trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits to the 11 million people who receive Social Security disability. Lawmakers could redirect tax revenue from Social Security's much bigger retirement program, as they have done in the past. If the tax revenue were redirected, the retirement fund would lose one year of solvency, so both the retirement program and the disability program would have enough money to pay full benefits until 2034. At that point, Social Security would collect enough in taxes to pay 79 percent of benefits.
Republicans are balking at that fix. They see the funding crisis as an opportunity to improve a disability program that they believe is plagued by waste and abuse. For example: “Social Security retirement funds have been raided far too many times for far too many years,” said Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) – yes a lot by the GOP to balance the budgets and take credit for keeping taxes low – what a deal, right? Yeah, right …
Reed sponsored a rule adopted by House Republicans that would prevent the House from redirecting the tax revenue without making changes to improve the overall financial health of Social Security. Democrats on the other side are much more eager to defend the disability program, noting that its modest benefits keep millions of disabled workers and their families out of poverty. For example, “The issue is whether you're going to cut services and benefits to Americans who paid for them by saying that the Social Security program doesn't have the money, when in fact it has nearly $3 trillion. It manufactures a crisis,” says Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) who introduced a bill that would merge Social Security's trust funds.
HOW BIG IS THE LONG-TERM PROBLEM: The numbers are beyond comprehension. Social Security uses a 75-year window to forecast its finances, so the projections cover the life expectancy of every worker paying into the system. Over the next 75 years, Social Security is projected to pay out $159 trillion more in benefits than it will collect in taxes, according to agency data. AND, that is no typo. Adjusted for inflation, the shortfall comes to $35.3 trillion in 2015 dollars. That's nearly twice the national debt, which took the entire federal government 239 years to accumulate.
DID CONGRESS ALREADY SPEND THE TRUST FUNDS: Yes, for much of the past three decades, Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes than it paid in benefits. Social Security invested those surpluses in special U.S. Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. They are now valued at $2.8 trillion. But as Social Security was generating surpluses, the rest of the federal government was running deficits, for all but a few years around the turn of the century. To finance deficit spending, the Treasury borrowed from the public and from other federal programs, including Social Security.
DIDN'T CONGRESS FIX SOCIAL SECURITY UNDER REAGAN: Again, yes, and Social Security was on the brink of insolvency in the early 1980s when Congress and President Reagan agreed to gradually increase payroll taxes and to reduce benefits, in part by gradually raising the retirement age. Those changes didn't permanently fix Social Security, but they provided enough revenue to pay full benefits for about 50 years. In today's political climate, another feat like that would be historic.
Yet they still tinker around the edges saying “yeah, we do live longer and healthier, so why not keep extending the age of retirement …” Why can’t person who has worked for 50 years make that decision for themselves rather than a member of congress telling them when to retire? Kind a choice thing isn’t it? Damn, oops. 
More on this later that I am sure will be a huge campaign issue and rightly so. Thanks for stopping by - come again.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ferguson, MO: Troubling Development as Armed "Militia" Take Over

This scene developing ... more on the way I suspect

Thanks USSC, Thanks a Heluva Lot

Related sources - same story:

From CBS News

From Fox News

Okay, so who are these “Oath Keepers” anyway?
According to their own "Oath Keepers" website, it is a Las Vegas-based group composed of 30,000 members, mostly current and formerly serving military, police and first responders who have pledged to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Their motto is “Not on Our Watch!”
However, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups all across the country, describes the Oath Keepers as a fiercely anti-government, militaristic group
According to NBC News, “Oath Keepers” founder Stewart Rhodes is former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate who once served as an aide to former Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) and refers to Hillary Clinton as “Hitlery.”  He also has called for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to be executed for treason.
Yeah that kind of “militia” roaming the streets protecting Ferguson or other state needing help dealing with unarmed protesters – Velkom to the “new” Amerika.
I'll post those stories and duck out with this last word: Those "right to carry anywhere, anytime" gun nuts are just that, nuts. That is my view. They are and resemble wannabe John Rambo's ... a fact. They need to get a life and perhaps a job, too. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"Things Go Better With Koch" Say the Koch Brothers and Koch Sippers

Admission: Our Soul and Our Country

Introduction: Oligarchy is any control structure in which power effectively rests with a very small number of people typically distinguished by incalculable wealth that allows them to exert tyrannical or religious control over a population.

Aristotle pioneered the term oligarchy as a synonym for “rule by the rich” for which a more modern common term is plutocracy like we use in our American jargon.

Although we were founded as a representative democracy, there have always been a cabal of wealthy industrialists who exerted inordinate power over government. That power was briefly curtailed with FDR and his “New Deal” some 80 years ago. That is a prime motivator why most Republicans and the Koch brothers have been on a heightened crusade to abolish New Deal and have hated it for decades, just like they hate Social Security, Medicare, and now today: Obama-care (the ACA).

The heart of this post lies in the following statement by Charles Koch and this background:
Most Americans are unaware that as whole we are dangerously close to becoming a fully-fledged plutocracy and although corporations, religion, and the financial sector exert a fair amount of influence over government, the true oligarchs running two-thirds of government are in fact, the Koch brothers.

Charles Koch recently claimed that he did not yet have enough, or completely enough power and influence, to have control or take over government because he said, “If I had all this power, why aren’t the many things I want changed getting changed?”

In fact, Koch said it was “ludicrous” that he had too much power because there is no such thing in his mind, and to achieve his goal the Koch’s are willing to spend nearly a billion dollars to achieve the level of power they demand in this election cycle.  

Continue the story here … enjoy.  Finally, this  has more truth than fiction. Believe it:

Thanks for stopping by and BTW: the Koch threat is real. Research them yourself.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

GOP-TEA Loves the Constitution: Just Not the Parts Fit for You

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After the fact posting (this part should have been posted first - my mistake) with this photo, however it does tie in with what follows. Enjoy:

TEA Party Logo (from 2010 era)

A bit dated (from 2010), however a lot is still relevant in many GOP/RW/TEA circles:

But despite all their talk about “returning to the Founding Father’s Constitutional” roots don't get confused. TEA party members (actually ultra-rabid GOP conservatives) are Constitutional purists, who just happen to read the document in a very ultra conservative way.

True, about half of the changes they have advocated to be made to mostly the social fabric (social programs) result from their peculiar interpretation of the Constitution as it exists.  The other half of the TEA types would actually require Congress and the states to change it altogether – I guess from scratch under their watchful eye…??? 

Here's how many TEA party candidates and organizers would amend the Constitution:

1. First Amendment:  Things get heated during campaign season, we all know that. Whether by head stomp, citizens arrest of a journalist, swastikas, or punches to the face, partisans try to silence their rivals. But in the 2010 campaign season, practically the entire month of August saw the ultra right flank of the GOP – the so-called TEA party wing and their tea party faithful took direct aim at the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" in lower Manhattan. First, though, you'd have to change that part of the Constitution that reads, you know kinda like: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

Yeah, that First one… that may have seemed a little far out there, but it did force the Department of Justice to file an amicus brief declaring that Islam is recognized as a religion following efforts by some TEA-conservatives who claimed it was not a religion in order for them to skate around the whole amendment.

2. Fourteenth Amendment:  The pressure on elected Republicans from the TEA wing to curb illegal immigration was so strong that some Republican members of Congress, including one supposed moderate, now in the 2016 race, to briefly consider amending the Constitution to change or eliminate what's known as “birthright citizenship” clause under this Amendment. It started with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who considered a constitutional amendment, and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who 
suggested the amendment process start with congressional hearings. In all, the birthright citizenship craze spread through a broad swath of the right and the GOP (and I guess they forget that Gov. Jindal from LA was an “anchor” baby since his mother was pregnant with him when she came to the U.S. on a student visa and stayed. Maybe an later day (2012) Rick Perry “oops” is in order???

3. Sixteenth Amendment:  This strikes the core of the tea party's libertarian heart. The 16th amendment provides Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Many including KY Senate candidate (at the time) Rand Paul envisioned a world where the income tax is replaced by a national sales tax would really like to see the 16th Amendment repealed. Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett described that as a “simple solution.”

4. Seventeenth Amendment:  Republican congressional hopefuls got themselves in trouble at one point during the primary season when several of them were revealed to have supported the idea of repealing the 17th Amendment. That's the one that provides for “direct election of Senators.” The thinking among states-rights oriented TEA party types was that states had more power over Washington when senators were picked by state legislatures, and not by popular vote. There was no indication that a Congress controlled by Republicans would pursue an amendment like this, but if they do, Texas conservative nutcase, Rep. Louie Gohmert already had one drafted.

5. Twenty-First Amendment: This one's a bit out of left (not political left mind you) field and there's little indication that a significant subset of the TEA party really cares about or supports this. But check out what Nevada Senate Republican hopeful Sharron Angle (said back then) to the Liberty Watch: “I feel the same about legalizing alcohol. The effect on society is so great that I'm just not a real proponent of legalizing any drug or encouraging any drug abuse.” A big oops is again in order… to wit:  The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, which instituted prohibition. Just repeal the 21st Amendment and – voila – the 18th is back in effect. Not sure that'd be great for Nevada's struggling booze and gambling centered economy, though.

Ouch … Thanks for stopping by.

The original post starts from here:

For all of their fake Constitutional pabulum, the GOP’s agenda is nothing less than a direct assault on America’s founding document. Time and time again over the past dozen or so years, the GOP has called for repeal of our most-basic freedoms and aspects either by amendment or activist judge. 

A few recent examples other than those below: 

Scott Walker says he’d consider a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage
I luv this stuff, thanks David
(the real Koch - not fake one)

Huckabee Floats Plan to Deploy U.S. Troops to Stop Women From Getting Abortions
Huck Mikeabee - Center of Attention Clown 

REPEAL THE 14TH AMENDMENT: That amendment as we all know virtually grants U.S. citizenship to all persons born within the United States, with rare exception. Such a proposal literally revives the vision of citizenship articulated by the Supreme Court’s infamous pro-slavery decision in Dred Scott v. Sanford. It has no place today in our history – just don’t try telling that to this GOP – they simply do not care.

REPEAL CONGRESSIONAL POWER TO REGULATE THE ECONOMY: The Constitution’s “Commerce Clause” gives national leaders broad authority to regulate the national economy, but much of the GOP has embraced “tentherism,” the belief that this power is small enough to be drowned in a bathtub. The most famous example of tentherism is the ubiquitous frivolous lawsuits claim that health reform is unconstitutional, but these lawsuits are part of a much greater effort (and now twice the Supreme Court has blessed ACA/Obama-care). 

REPEAL CONGRESSIONAL POWER TO SPEND: The Constitution also gives Congress power to “provide for the common defense and general welfare,” a broad grant of authority to create federal spending programs such as Social Security. Should any of those happen with that GOP vision, it could also eliminate but also Medicare, Medicaid, Federal education spending, and countless other cherished programs that have served us well for decades.

REPEAL CONGRESSIONAL POWER TO RAISE MONEY: The Constitution also gives Congress broad authority to decide how to distribute the tax burden. For example, Congress is allowed to create a tax incentive for people to buy houses by giving a tax break to people with mortgages, and it is allowed to create a similar incentive for people to buy health insurance by taxing people who have health insurance slightly less than people who do not.  Many Tea Party Republicans go even further, calling for a full repeal of the 16th Amendment, the amendment which enables the income tax. Paying taxes is never popular and I agree, but it would be impossible for us to function as a nation if America lacked the power to raise the money it needs to pay for example the Armed Forces, as well as other bills and obligations.

REPEAL EQUALITY: The Constitution entitles all persons to “equal protection of the laws,” a provision that formed at one point on the basis of Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that California cannot treat gay couples as if they are somehow inferior. For example and immediately after that decision former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) called upon Congress to immediately overturn it — something that it could only do through a constitutional amendment.  

REPEAL ELECTION OF SENATORS: A number of GOPers have come out in favor of repealing the 17th Amendment, the provision of the Constitution which requires direct election of senators. It is simply baffling how anyone could take one look at the U.S. Senate, and decide that what it really needs is even less democracy.

Do the research - the GOP's blatant hypocrisy is astonishing.