Corruption

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Funny, but NSFW.

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When a bipartisan Senate panel last week lambasted Swiss bank Credit Suisse for helping rich Americans evade billions in taxes, some watching the high-profile hearing couldn’t help but notice an elephant in the room.

That is, Sen. Rand Paul.

The connection? Paul for years has single-handedly blocked an obscure U.S.-Swiss tax treaty that lawmakers, prosecutors, diplomats and banks say makes the difference between U.S. law enforcement rooting out the names of a few hundred fat-cat tax evaders — and many thousands more.

Kentucky’s tea party darling says the treaty infringes on privacy rights. But his critics say Paul’s hold just hamstrings the Justice Department’s tax evasion work.

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Why There’s No Outcry, by Robert Reich.

People ask me all the time why we don’t have a revolution in America, or at least a major wave of reform similar to that of the Progressive Era or the New Deal or the Great Society.

Middle incomes are sinking, the ranks of the poor are swelling, almost all the economic gains are going to the top, and big money is corrupting our democracy. So why isn’t there more of a ruckus?

The answer is complex, but three reasons stand out.

Link to the answers.

JFTR, I disagree with this bit:

It’s possible. of course, that rightwing Republicans, corporate executives, and Wall Street moguls intentionally cut jobs and wages in order to cow average workers, buried students under so much debt they’d never take to the streets, and made most Americans so cynical about government they wouldn’t even try for change.

But it’s more likely they merely allowed all this to unfold, like a giant wet blanket over the outrage and indignation most Americans feel but don’t express.

To believe this, one would have to suspend belief that the Koch brothers and their astroturfed teabagger division exist. I don’t.

It’s an absolute fact that the GOP tries to destroy this country, and any other country they can, when they’re not in power, and try to destroy the country (and any other country that gets in their way) when they are in power.

But the rest of it, I think, is spot on.

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(Reuters) – President Hamid Karzai appeared to stiffen his resolve on Saturday not to sign a security pact with Washington, saying the United States should leave Afghanistan unless it could restart peace talks with the Taliban. “In exchange for this agreement, we want peace for the people of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it’s better for them to leave and our country will find its own way,” Karzai told a news conference.

The president said pressing ahead with talks with the Taliban, in power from 1996-2001, was critical to ensure that Afghanistan was not left with a weak central government. “Starting peace talks is a condition because we want to be confident that after the signing of the security agreement, Afghanistan will not be divided into fiefdoms,” he said.

Most diplomats now agree that Karzai is unlikely to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would allow for some form of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, when most troops are due to leave.

Seems like a non-starter, to me, given that the Taliban are some of the most fanatical religious fanatics extant (maybe excepting the wahabees and bible-belt baptists), but we’ll see how bad the MIC wants to keep using Afgonistan as a cash cow.

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These greedy fuckers are keeping cumstains like Rand(y) Paul and Mike(y) Lee in office almost single-handedly. People gotta stop believing the hateful lies they spew (like, fer example, giving all of our money to 2 extraordinarily wealthy spoiled inherited wealth rich kids is somehow magically going to create jobs in this country).

Honestly, on some days I think these 2 fuckers, all by themselves, are worse for the country than the entire GOP (and the GOP’s idiot supporters).

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Going Postal

The husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein has been selling post offices to his friends, cheap.

My yearlong investigation has uncovered evidence of multiple conflicts of interest and problems with post office sales supervised by Blum’s company, including:

• CBRE appears to have repeatedly violated its contractual duty to sell postal properties at or above fair market values.

• CBRE has sold valuable postal properties to developers at prices that appear to have been steeply discounted from fair market values, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in public revenue.

::snip::

• Senator Feinstein has lobbied the Postmaster General on behalf of a redevelopment project in which her husband’s company was involved.

I can understand why some “red” state Democratic Senators might be more conservative than we might like, but why CA keeps electing the odious DiFi is beyond my ability to understand. I mean, how many wars does she have to promote to offset the whole Harvey Milk thing?

At any rate, her husband is another crook, ripping off the taxpayers and systematically dismantling the government. Ho hum, right?

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The filthiest fact is that Congress wants to cut the food benefit to hungry Americans, almost half of them children, so that money can keep flowing to the top.

Link

The ongoing, current class war began under Reagan, who the GOP’s sycophants have nominated for everything from a fifth head on Mt. Rushmore to having his know-nothing head memorialized on a coin. I vomit in my mouth a little whenever I fly in or out of “Reagan National” airport.

It probably began when he pushed “trickle down economics” on us, based on the laughable (and thoroughly disproven) “Laffer Curve”, but a case could be made that it was when he began the ongoing destruction of unions by firing the striking air-traffic controllers. Maybe they’re tied…

“Trickle down”, called “voodoo economics” by the sire of Bush the dim, has been tried twice and it’s failed MISERABLY both times, most recently lending a a helping hand to the worst recession in our nation’s history, by cutting taxes on the wealthy (read “war profiteers” here and you won’t be too far out of line) at the same time Cheney talked his smirking chimp of a boss into launching not one, but two, count ‘em, two unfunded wars. (Aside, I still remember John Thune as a new Senator telling Tim Russert how “easy” it is to keep the budget balanced when fighting two unfunded wars: “Just take them off the books.” This is what passes for GOP “leadership”).

Make no mistake, the war continues to this day. Unless you make something on the order of a Bazillion dollars a year, it’s a war on YOU. And if we don’t work together to fight back, we will lose this war (if it hasn’t already been lost).

Do you remember/know of the Overton Window? It’s time to embrace “wealth redistribution” as what made America great, in the past.

I support a 90% tax rate for individual incomes over $1,000,000.00/yr. Steep inheritance tax on estates over $5,000,000.00, to stop the Walton-like handing down of power (like a monarchy) in this capitalist society.

You should, too.

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US Government War On Hackers Backfires: Now Top Hackers Won’t Work With US Government

NSA revelations could hurt collaboration with ‘betrayed’ hackers

The U.S. government’s efforts to recruit talented hackers could suffer from the recent revelations about its vast domestic surveillance programs, as many private researchers express disillusionment with the National Security Agency.

Though hackers tend to be anti-establishment by nature, the NSA and other intelligence agencies had made major inroads in recent years in hiring some of the best and brightest, and paying for information on software flaws that help them gain access to target computers and phones.

Much of that goodwill has been erased after the NSA’s classified programs to monitor phone records and Internet activity were exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to prominent hackers and cyber experts.

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Huge (no pun intended) bucket o’ crap:

Gov. Chris Christie’s habit of using his public office to promote his presidential ambitions has reached a new low.

We’ve seen him do it before. He closed down six Planned Parenthood clinics to appease right-wing primary voters. He’s dragged his feet relentlessly over medical marijuana and dismissed concerns over climate change for the same reason. This fall he is wasting taxpayer money by holding an election in October, in addition to the regularly scheduled November election, solely to protect the large victory margin he expects for his party.

But this time, he’s outdone himself. This time, he siphoned off money that was intended for victims of Sandy to promote himself in a series of TV ads. That is a new low, one that should play prominently in his campaign for re-election.

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The rightwing donors who fuel America’s culture wars

In general, US public opinion is trending liberal. Not that you’d know it from state legislatures bought by conservative dollars

Probably not “news” to most of you, but sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves WHY America seems to be so batshit crazy when, really, the guy sitting next to you on the train probably ISN’T a RW asshole.

More:

It is no secret that if you want to get large numbers of lower-income people to support a rightwing fiscal agenda, social issues are a necessary distraction. There is, however, another factor at work, and it has to do with the machinery of American politics. Where do you find the army of activists necessary to push through a rightwing economic agenda? How do you motivate people to commit the time and energy to run for minor political offices? How do you mobilize campaign staffers and volunteers?

That’s where the culture wars come in. Pushing complicated tax schemes to sustain oil companies in their riches won’t get a lot of state legislators and their supporters up in the morning. On the other hand, opposing abortion, stopping sodomy, and taking back the country for God will.

The culture war also allows this militant minority to sustain the delusion that it speaks for the majority. By wrapping guns and crosses in American flags, they derive power from falsely believing that they represent the “real America”. And as they become bolder in their claims, those of us who, in fact, represent the majority – supporting equitable policies on taxation, gun safety, access to reproductive care and the like – tend to limit ourselves. We begin to believe that we represent a minority in our country. We don’t.

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