Shocked and Persuaded

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Separating Fact From Fiction

Putting Solyndra In Perspective

Many on the right and the middle are whining and pointing fingers in every which way demanding scalps for the mess that is Solyndra. However, I would just like to put this manufacturer of thin-film solar cells in a bit of big federal government perspective with nothing but numbers.

1. $560.1 million – this represents the total handouts to Solyndra, with $535 from the Department of Energy and a $25.1 million tax break from the state of California…0.015% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget.

2. $700 billion – this represents the Bush-Paulson carried out and Obama-Geithner stewarded Troubled Asset Relief Program…18.97% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget

3. $1 trillion – unilaterally issued Federal Reserve program called the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) designed to infuse money into the pockets of already under water consumers with the aim of goosing consumption…27.00% of Obama’s 2011 Federal Budget

4. $144billion to $323 billion – the first number represents what the disastrous F35 was supposed to cost and the second what it will cost when it is completed…8.75% of Obam’s 2011 Federal Budget

5. $22 billion 30 people – the cost in dollars and deaths of the V-22 (aka Osprey) one of the Pentagon  and the Military Industrial Complex’s favorite cash cows along with the aforementioned F35. As NPR’s Graham Smith reported:

“In a nutshell, the story of the Osprey is it cost more in time, money and lives than anything else the Marine Corps ever bought”

 

Three major accidents gave the Osprey its bad reputation and earned it the nickname “The Widowmaker.”

 

The worst, in Arizona in 2000, killed 19 Marines.”

SO when considering who to pick on and who to hold accountable by any means necessary it is important to acknowledge that the folks at Solyndra are deserving of the criticism they are receiving for extorting money from the federal government, but it is way more important to address the Big Fish as it were feeding at the tit of the Pentagon. I can’t defend Solyndra’s actions but I hope that this brief post put them in perspective relative to a far more important and costly addiction to tools of war and the propping up of Wall Street. The Occupy Wall Street movement has brought attention to the crimes of Wall & Broad. An even greater level of extortion has been occurring in the parallel and opaque universe that revolves around the Pentagon.

At least Solyndra was an attempt to wean us off our addiction to hydrocarbons, while the Pentagon could be excused for being under the impression that it’s charter is solely to perpetuate and lubricate that addiction.

Concrete Suggestions for Occupy Wall Street

Excerpt from a project I am working on and a helpful blueprint for how to curb irresponsible activities throughout the financial services industry:

According to the FDIC you Mr. Big Banker (i.e., 109 banks with more than $10 billion in assets) have no qualms with giving depositors a measly 0.8% annually, while the country’s 7,651 local/smaller banks paid 1.29% vs. values of 0.49% and 0.69% in 2009 [275], respectively, even though it was you not them that we the taxpayer bailed out and we Generation X will continue to feel the austerity backlash of for years to come. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a fifth-grader for that matter much in the way of mental exertion to understand how easy it is to mint huge profits when you borrow money from The Fed or investors for the aforementioned paltry rates and lend it to private citizens or the Tim Geithner led Treasury at 3-4%, however, in doing so you Mr. Banker are failing to do what you most likely state in your charters “furnishing money to firms and funding capital investments.” [276] We need our banks to act as utilities not casinos. Banks must stop making in the words of the Bank of Engl Read the rest of this entry »

Missing Uncle Ronnie

Great job on this by Jon Stewart:

http://vimeo.com/27757870

I hear you on taxes. In Paul’s nirvana- roads, infrastructure, and the “instruments of interstate commerce” that do fall within Congress’s Constitutional purview would be paid with user fees, tolls and perhaps some targeted VAT’s (though admittedly he’s far less enthusiastic about that). He does not believe in the Department of Education and would like to see it de-funded. Poor results, a massive Congressional boondongle and virtually zero Constitutional support for its existence in his mind.

At any rate, what I will say for RP is that these are sincerely-held philosophical POV’s as opposed to actual policy initiatives. As a Constitutionalist- a “President” Paul would never attempt to use the Executive Office to directly repeal the 16th Amendment (Federal Income Tax) or think he had the power to interfere/obstruct Congress’s spending authority. He would undoubtedly submit budget proposals envisioning a dramitically smaller government and drastically reduced tax rates (across the board). That is certainly the “Buyer Beware” element of RP that any independent or liberal needs to take into account when considering a vote for him. On the bright side- the wars and torture would end and the Fed may finally get audited. Also, domestically you would know exactly where he stood- and there would likely be more than enough Democratic/Liberal and Non-Libertarian/non-Tea Party Republican Congressmen to check any “super extreme” initiatives/proposals coming from the White House.

They Are Both Right

Well we finally had a higher up in the Obama administration rebut Hamid Karzai’s “occupier” accusations. The fact is that both sides in this little tiff are correct. We are occupiers and Karzai is nothing more or less than a well placed and insanely rich – and getting richer – heroine dealer if not addict. Read the rest of this entry »

Note From a Friend

Someone I know pretty well and admire quite a bit sent me the following string of emails regarding Obama’s “John Wayne” moment in Libya. I don’t agree with everything he wrote me but thought much of it was spot on and it came from someone I would call of the Libertarian persuasion. ENJOY!

EMAIL FROM A FRIEND:

One:

Hate to say it dude… but I’m done with Obama after this Libyan Adventure. What a cluster_ _ _ _ of a situation… and Constitutionally dubious to boot.

I freely admit that most Republicans are nuts too. Most of the “leading” 2012 candidate-types would have had us in there (boots on the ground) 3 weeks ago. Utter insanity. Of course- they’re now leading the chorus of criticism- which is beyond nauseating. Anyway- whether democractic or repulican- this country appears to be irretrievably at the mercy of a…”pro-intervention” council of foreign relations type cabal that is hell-bent on bankrupting us in a vain quest to remold the Middle East (recently substituting “international norms” and “human rights” for “WMD’s”). Meanwhile Congress is nothing more than the pathetic dude who walks in on his wife getting banged by Joe the Plumber. The Founding Fathers are turning in their graves. Book it.

Anyway, unless Ron or Rand Paul somehow miraculously secures the GOP nomination… I guess I’m voting Libertarian here on out.

Peace.

Two:

Whatever the case- should be some interesting times on your blog. I didn’t put in my last my e-mail but to me Obama’s speech could best be described as “The Fog of War”. I don’t care if we run Gadaffi out of there in 2 days and Arabs are waiving the American flag (an unlikely result of course). The Middle East is the type of place where things are measured in 50 and 100 year increments. I’m sure we felt cool as hell when we shot up Iran and put the Shah in or ran the Soviets out of Afghanistan or handed victory to the “Northern Alliance” or took down Saddam… or…. How did any of those work out for us? Meanwhile- I certainly wish Gadaffi treated his people better- but the UN should raise its own army of folks (God bless them) who individually feel willing to lay their lives down for “international norms” and “stability” and NOT usurp war-making authority from the US Congress- or any other proposed “combatant’s” governmental body in charge of declaring war. That’s always been my problem with the Security Council set-up- and why I frankly think it’s imperative for American liberty for the US to either withdraw from the UN completely- or alternatively- withdraw from the Security Council at least.

Three:

I know Rand’s a whipping boy for the Left… but all I can say to this is A-FREAKING-MEN!!!

Why is it so hard to have a President who actually gets and understands this stuff!!??! I certainly would have thought a Costitutional Law Professor from the University of Chicago with a law degree from Harvard would have been capable of it. Guess not!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWOWv2Dr-nk

Four:

Well I am confident they represent the empirical and pragmatic sentiment (if I may be so bold). I’m less confident that they represent the “Republican” sentiment though. Perhaps. As I’ve told you for awhile now- the party is in the midst of a Civil War of sorts pitting the true traditional, “Goldwater”, non-interventionist, Libertarian, conservative (correct usage) wing of the party (I’d estimate it at about 20%) against the ultra-nationalist, imperial, guns and butter, neo-conservative, manifest destiny, Theodore Roosevelt wing (give these guys 50%). I’m not at all certain how that will play out as our wing is clearly more in-step with the main street common sense views of the country (while there’s was thoroughly discredited under Bush II) on the one hand- but they have FAR MORE resources, influence and political savy to bring-to-bear on the other. I think what you’ll see is unapologetic neo-conservative  Republicans like Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich (and his shrill Dick Morris), etc. posing as re-formed “limited government Constituionalists” for a period of time in order to draw in those more pliable elements of the Tea Party and the social conservatives (these two make up the balance) to their banner- only to ultimately give us Bush III (if elected). If I had to wager- right now- I suspect they will succeed. Sadly.

Courageous Stance from My Home State’s Capital

The city of Hartford, CT once simply known as the insurance capital of the world has spoken loudly and pointedly in response to Obama’s urge to get his name in the ledger on the side of “War Engaged” rather than where his Nobel Peace Prize implies he should be siding. Hartford is a city that exemplifies the growing canyon between the haves and the have nots here in the US. It’s city council stood up and passed the following resolution and I for one am so proud of this city for being a pioneer in standing up to Democrat and Republican arrogance with respect to the fueling of the Military Industrial Complex.

From Christopher Hutchins of Hartford Bring Our War Dollars Home:

This is the Resolution that just passed through the city council of Hartford!

RESOLUTION

A resolution of the city council of Hartford, CT calling upon the US
government and President Obama to Bring Our War Dollars Home Now

Whereas, the economic collapse has exhausted the financial resources at the
local, county, state and federal levels of the US; and

Whereas, the US government since
2001 has spent well over 1 trillion dollars nationally on the wars and
occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Connecticut nearly 28 billion
dollars has gone to war spending and more than $453 million has been
taken from the city of Hartford to fund the wars and occupations, and

Whereas, more than 5,700 US troops have been killed, more than 40,000 wounded; and

Whereas, hundred’s of thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded and the
ongoing warfare poses great and unnecessary harm to the nation of Iraq,
Afghanistan, and Pakistan and elsewhere in the world; and

Whereas, billions of tax payer’s money is spent to prop up repressive regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world; and

Whereas,
educational services, medical care, housing, other essential public
services, infrastructure repair, and family financing throughout
Connecticut, especially in cities such as Hartford, have been diverted
from a constructive economy to these wars and occupations, and

Whereas,
budget deficits, largely due to war spending, have been used as a
pretext to force concessions from public sector unions from California
to Wisconsin to Connecticut; and

Whereas, 2010 census data shows that Hartford has the highest poverty rating in Connecticut at 31.9% (nationally, the poverty rating is 14.3%) and

Whereas,
communities of color in Hartford have been hardest hit. Our city has a
population that is 41% Latino and 38% African American/West Indian population. Unemployment for people of color is over 40%, and unemployment for people of color is nearly 20% and when employed, people of color make only 60 cents for every dollar made by white workers; and

Whereas, the above mentioned communities are heavily targeted for military recruitment,

Be it resolved that the city council of Hartford call upon the US
government and President Obama to end the wars and occupations in Iraq
and Afghanistan and bring our war dollars home now.

Now be it further resolved, that the city council of Hartford support
informational events regarding the cost of the wars and occupations to
our community; and

Be it further resolved that the city council of Hartford support the right
of public sector unions and all other unions to collectively bargain
and defend the interests of their members; and

Be it further resolved, that the city council of Hartford urge residents
to participate in the April 9, 2011 national march in New York City to
end the wars and occupations and bring our war dollars home.

Deja Vu All Over Again In the Land of 1.2 Billion

Replace India with the US, America, or Supreme Nation…WHATEVER title you prefer for our “homeland” AND replace parliament with congress. Tell me if this opinion piece doesn’t ring directly true with our current state of affairs? OH YEAH and replace corruption with campaign finance adultery. Democracies always move towards this unavoidable and wealth/power aggregating endpoint with only the good people that creating the fabric able to overcome such endpoints.

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/singh12/English

Footing The Bill

Anyone want to? Wanna really pay the price for war(s)? Nope!

How much would you pay for the life of one of this country’s active duty men or women? Below I discuss what our government has decided their worth (Hint: Its less than the cost of two movie tickets!). Read the rest of this entry »

Efficient Marketeer And The Rest Be Damned

This is something I wrote in response to an article by Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya at Project Syndicate. I love this site and really the thinkers and practitioners run the ideological gradient. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re Not Your Problem Mr. President!

I have known for quite a while now that the vote I cast for you in November of 2008 – my first ever vote for a member of The Big Two – was one that I would not regret, because I am still a huge admirer of your intellect, but would come to view with a great degree of disappointment and anger. Read the rest of this entry »