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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Lots of stuff...

Can you buh-LIEVE what's going down? Quickly...

Two-tiered voting. The latest vote suppression gambit is pretty damned bold...
Officials in Arizona and Kansas are making preparations for elections with two categories of voters. There will be those who provided proof of citizenship when they registered to vote, and will therefore be able to vote in all local, state, and federal elections. And then there will be those who did not provide proof of citizenship when they registered. Those people will only be able to vote in federal contests -- if at all.
Brad Friedman has more, natch. In Kansas, the problem comes down to one man: Secretary of State Kris Kobach...
Voters who had registered to vote using the federal registration form --- as mandated by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA or "Motor Voter Act", since it requires local government facilities, such as DMVs, to provide a nationally standardized voter registration form) --- are now being blocked by Kobach from voting in KS, unless they have been able to prove their citizenship to the satisfaction of a new state law written by Kobach and passed by state Republicans last year.

That new proof-of-citizenship law took affect at the beginning of this year and has resulted in thousands of previously legal voters becoming "suspended" until such time as they present documentation to prove they are citizens. The burden is now on them to prove they are innocent, rather than on the state to prove they have broken any laws. If they don't, according to Kobach, they will not be allowed their right to vote.
The polls: Looks like Obama is winning the battle of the polls in the shutdown battle. (Also see here.) One big problem, though, is that many citizens still don't understand the difference between the shutdown battle and the debt ceiling battle. Increasingly, though, the two battles are as one.

One big problem is that our dimwitted Republican congressfolk simply cannot understand the very concept of a debt ceiling...
The problem for Boehner -- and, therefore, the president -- is that a number of GOP lawmakers don’t believe the country will in fact default if the debt ceiling is not lifted; as a result, they insist they won’t likely be spooked into raising it.

“We need to go back and redefine ‘default,’ ” said Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican. “Default would be if you couldn’t pay the interest and couldn’t manage the principle on our national debt. And that’s not going to happen. The resources are there. The cash flow is easily there to pay the interest on our debt.”
I think what these guys want is for revenues to go entirely toward paying the interest on the debt, with none left over for little things like Social Security. (Sort of like the folks at VISA who expect you to pay your credit card debt at the expense of food and rent.)
I’m not as concerned as the president is on the debt ceiling because the only people buying our bonds right now are the Federal Reserve. So, it’s like scaring ourselves," said Sen. Richard Burr, noting that the government could arrange to make debt payments ahead of other expenditures.
"Other expenditures." That means Social Security. Also see here:
Economists have dismissed this prioritization scheme as chaotic and unworkable, warning that the United States would be “unable to pay between 40 to 45 percent of the 80 million payments it makes every month.” If the debt ceiling is not increased, the credit markets would freeze, the value of the dollar would plummet, interest rates would skyrocket, and a global recession would ensue.

But the so-called debt ceiling truthers, who swept into power after the 2010 midterm elections and, to the surprise of GOP leaders, took over the debt ceiling debate, continue to deny this reality.
It's Social Security, I tells ya. That's what they're going after.

Reid's play. I favor this idea...
Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made his move. He plans to introduce legislation to increase the debt limit, and dare Republicans to kill it with a filibuster.

But it won’t be a straightforward dollar increase or a time-limited borrowing authority extension. Reid will likely use a mechanism to allow the president to increase the debt limit on his own, subject to a veto-able resolution of disapproval by the Congress. In other words, the only way the debt limit won’t increase is if two-thirds of both the House and Senate feel it must be pulled back into the realm of legislative horsetrading — something that will never happen absent bipartisan agreement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (of all people!) originally designed the scheme back in 2011, when Congress was desperately trying to escape its disastrous debt limit brinkmanship.
My suggestion: Make 'em do a real filibuster. That would be the quintessence of drama. We might be able to bring both debt ceiling brinksmanship and the filibuster into total disrepute at the same time.

More on EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE: As you will recall, EGOTISTICALGIRAFFE is an app which helps the NSA break the anonymity of people who use Tor. Both the Washington Post and the Guardian published slide shows giving us Snowden's document cache on the NSA-vs-ATor thing. Funny thing: The slides differ.

Speaking of the NSA: Everyone knows that No Such Agency is tasked with electronic intelligence -- eavesdropping and codebreaking. But does the NSA also involve itself with the world of in-the-field covert ops?

Over the years, I've seen a few scant references to this sort of thing. Robert Liston's The Pueblo Surrender: A Covert Action by the National Security Agency is one source researchers may want to look into. (A damned fine read, that book is. Wish I still had my copy.)

Daniel Hopsicker has uncovered a doozy of an example of this sort of thing. Allegedly. He names the (recently deceased) NSA agent who fed him some stories about covert drug-running.
His name was Russ Eakin.
And he was the son of Sue Eakin, the celebrated historian who wrote Twelve Years a Slave.
“What did you do down there?” I asked.

“My job was to corrupt the governments of Central America,” he stated crisply. “And I was so good at it I didn’t come back for 17 years.”

“I was working for NSA. I owned two arms manufacturing plants in Bolivia. They were set up through the Catholic Church. I worked out daily with (Bolivian) President Bandar. We built SM-90 machine guns.”
Eakin was in Bolivia during the Cocaine Coup in 1980.

“Garcia-Meza brought in the neo-fascist paramilitary squads with the swastika armbands. They called themselves the ‘Fiancées of death.’ He put the Interior Ministry under the nephew of Roberto Suarez, the self-styled King of Cocaine.”

“I knew Roberto Suarez very well,” Eakin said quietly. “I was married to one of the Suarez’s.”

Eakin also knew Sonia Atala, the other well-known drug figure in Bolivia at the time. Known as the “queen of the cocaine business," she may be the most important figure of the Iran Contra era to avoid wide exposure.

“Sonia ran the cocaine biz in Bolivia,” said Eakin. “And that was where the business was run from. The guys you heard about—the Ochoa’s and the Escobar’s and the Lehder's—they were just Vice Presidents fronting for the company.”
Okay, I know what you're thinking: This tale takes us very far afield from the sort of things that we normally associate with the NSA. Was Eakin lying to Hopsicker?

It's possible. He may have been fibbing about the agency he worked for. CIA guys pull that trick all the damned time, especially when operating stateside. They even have been known to flash fake ID cards. Usually, they claim to be with the Defense Security Service (previously the Defense Investigative Service) or the DIA.

Read Hopsicker's piece and come to your own conclusions.

Amurkins are dum: You want to know why the American dream is ending? The problem is not that our workers are paid a lot compared to Chinese workers. We could still compete (as Germany does) in the area of high-end goods.

But we can't do as the Germans do, because our working class is simply too uneducated.
The study, perhaps the most detailed of its kind, shows that the well-documented pattern of several other countries surging past the United States in students’ test scores and young people’s college graduation rates corresponds to a skills gap, extending far beyond school. In the United States, young adults in particular fare poorly compared with their international competitors of the same ages — not just in math and technology, but also in literacy.

More surprisingly, even middle-aged Americans — who, on paper, are among the best-educated people of their generation anywhere in the world — are barely better than middle of the pack in skills.
If you watch the BBC regularly, you can't help but notice that the average person in the UK seems much more articulate, much more aware of culture and history, than does the average young American. In the UK, even barmaids who pronounced "with" as "wif" still have a wider vocabulary than many American graduate students seem to possess.

In our high schools, the "brains" in class are despised and mocked. That attitude has spilled over into the rest of our culture.

As ye reap...

1. The Tea Party Republicans in the House ARE crazy enough to take the US into default - and they have every intention of doing so - unless Obama surrenders or sidesteps them.

2. And they have Boehner by the nuts. No matter what Boehner promises, he is too weak and incompetrent to deliver.

3. The "sane" (but worried) Republicans in the House and Senate are still in denial about their crazy TP brethren. They're hoping Obama capitulates or Boehner will pull something out of his butt in time to save the country from default. See (2).

4. That said, those sane Republicans are getting more worried by the day. But the GOP culture keeps them from doing something drastic or disloyal in time to save the day. The government will have to go over the debt-ceiling cliff (or something tantamount to default) in order to wake them up.

5. Even though the Rs have mashed the debt ceiling and shutdown together as one big problem, it's still two problems for Obama, and he's going to need R help to solve the second one (shutdown).

6. Obama could mint the coin today, announce it, and solve the debt ceiling problem. But that would only further enrage the Rs and prolong the shutdown crisis.

7. He's got to let the US go all the way to the debt ceiling cliff - maybe over it - to convince the "sane" Rs that Boehner and TP were crazy and would have destroyed everything including their own party. The earth will have to shake.

8. The shakes will come. The stock market will start taking some horrific dives. There may even panic selling in the T-Bill marekets. Certainly the screams from the world financial comunity will get deafening as we approach the 17th. That will help.

9. It will also help when the Senate sends over a clean debt ceiling bill but at the 11th hour Boehner fails to get it passed in the House.

10. At some point before, or maybe on the 17th, the "sane" Rs' fever will start to break. They will panic. And that's when Obama will announce that he's minted the coin, to everybody's great relief.

11. Having dodged a huge bullet, the Rs will ditch Boehner and put the TP back in a bottle. Unable to stomach any more damage to their brand, they'll gladly pass a CR.

12. In 2014 the Democrats will take back the House.

13. If Obama doesn't mint that coin all bets are off. But he'd be crazy not to, no matter what he's said in the past.
Thugs painted "PAEDO" all over some poor sucker's house in the British TV series Broadchurch. Even vandals are educated in the U.K. Aargh!
Joe - you say some people are failing to distinguish between the shutdown battle and the debt ceiling battle.

OK, but a debt default is likely to trigger a shutdown that will make the current one look like a dry run.

There's a glimmer of a chance here for the left in the US to cut through the decades of bullshit.

Take the word "default".

Who wants to back a government that DEFAULTS on its responsibilities to the poor and sick while REFUSING TO DEFAULT on its responsibilities to usurers? What is this, a tithe? What's so holy about paying over money to fucking moneylenders who are holding this country to ransom? Write off the debt!

Can't some political faction on the left make such a case?

Or are they all bound up in what Fredy Perlman called the "moron's paradise" of technical economics?

After Lehman, the propaganda phrase was "credit crunch", as if the problem was not enough debt.

Now it's "default".

A default on government debt is what I want. It'd be a damned good thing for all of us who aren't anti-social filth.

I think this, not just because of the apocalypticism which I readily confess, but because I'd love to see a message sent to the moneylending scum: no, you won't get your fucking money back; you're the anti-social ones here; you've brought this country, and most of the world, to its knees, and now you bastards aren't going to get what you want; in short, fuck off and die.

Anyone who thinks the US government should have, or can usefully be taken as having, some kind of social responsibility towards the general population in the US, should surely say that not paying social security is defaulting on its responsibility to the disadvantaged and to society.

(I hope readers of this are hoarding food, BTW! :) )
"Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made his move. He plans to introduce legislation to increase the debt limit, and dare Republicans to kill it with a filibuster"

Joe: You know how the Senate works. This idea won't get the necessary 60 for cloture. It will never make it to an up or down vote. They'll debate, and debate and maybe the idiot Cruz or Paul will Filibuster, which won't be like the faux filibuster that Cruz did 2 weeks ago. In a real filibuster the speaker will actually have to "SPEAK" the entire time, instead of what happened with Cruz, which was his entourage of radicals spoke about half of the time.

I don't see this idea as going anywhere. It's really out of the hands of the Senate. The TP will have to let go of the reigns in the House, if that doesn't happen we will breach the debt ceiling during the shutdown. after that, ordinary folks will take to the streets and the fire called the tea party, will be stomped out.
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