We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
Number of posts: 210
Email address: email
Subscribe to my RSS Feed: http://likethedew.com/author/monicasmith/feed/
Posts by Monica Smith:
- When SPD officers use force, they do so in an unconstitutional manner nearly 20 percent of the time;
Our Empire's Distant Outposts
Every couple of months, I check the Google to see what’s happening at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo. My interest in the place, one of the largest U.S. military bases ever built and the obvious prototype for what was being built in Iraq, goes back to 2005 when Kellog, Brown and Root (KBR) was engaged to supervise the leveling of hillsides and the filling in of valleys to accommodate a U.S. watch-tower in the Balkans.
Who is John Galt?
“[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
—United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld left out one category – the unknown knowns. Randians are the people do not know what they know – nor what they want to do.
Both Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, and Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the U.S. have made the point, in discussing the $25 billion settlement agreed to by four of the major banks involved in the mortgage fraud scam, that this is a beginning and that no criminal or civil suits would be canceled out by this action.
So, as if to prove the point, the Department of Justice announced on Friday a separate fund, over and above the $25 billion, to compensate members of the military services whose rights had been abused
Super Bowl Politics
There has been much discussion by the pundits about the significance of the “Half Time” ad for President Obama’s reelection. Democrats have a hard time understanding the Republican Clint Eastwood’s motivation in associating himself with a project that highlights one of the President’s singular accomplishments.
The rescue of the American automobile industry is the President’s to claim. No doubt about it. But, that’s from the perspective of the people who design, manufacture and sell the cars. From the perspective of the financial engineers, who thrive on breaking companies up and selling the parts as so much scrap, the “rescue” was an intrusion on their standard operating procedure.
Voting Them Off The Island
Forbes, the money publication, reports on who’s giving money to the Super PACs in hopes of affecting the upcoming elections so the flow of assets from the public purse into their pockets isn’t interrupted. Since there aren’t all that many billionaires, their donations, as reported to the Federal Elections Commission, are easy topics for lazy journalists. Having them aggregated in so-called Political Action Committees makes them even easier to track. Like the votive candles in a rack, donations attest to the devotion of the congregation.
The exploitation of their own kind being promoted by conservatives and their politicians (it is a mutual admiration society) is not prompted by the race or gender of their victims. While it is natural for the victims of unprovoked attacks to assume they must have done something to prompt this irrational behavior, exploiters don’t require a prompt, just as a lion doesn’t need a prompt to go after a kid for lunch. Besides, and this is why I keep getting exercised by the suggestion that a victim is in any way “responsible” for an assault, when we focus on the victim, the perpetrators get off.
A Consumer Win
Anyone who’s ever been hassled by debt collectors calling incessantly to collect a debt, especially one that’s not even owed, will be glad to learn that the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection agency, have been working together to rein in some of the worst debt buyers. In United States v. Asset Acceptance, LLC, a suit brought in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida, in Tampa, the defendants have agreed to a settlement which imposes a fine of $2.5 million and a number of changes in their business practices.
Then Our Leaders Will Make Millions?
If the stories coming out of Wisconsin are to be believed and Scott Walker was, indeed, oblivious to the fact that his county staff were running a political operation from work, the conservative mantra about “running government like a business” apparently means “one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.”
If that’s the case, then we’re left with the question whether oblivious management is a flaw or a feature. Both the “Peter principle” and my version of “up and out” suggest that…
The 99 Percent
In a story for the Associated Press, Eva Vergara reports on a maid in a suburb of Santiago, Chile whose pedestrian adventures have set the country atwitter.
CHICUREO, Chile — Felicita Pinto arrived early at the gates of the luxurious community where she labors as a maid, but the minibus to her employer’s home was late. So she decided to walk six blocks to work, on streets lined with broad lawns and imposing homes.
Security guards quickly chased her down and forced the 57-year-old widow back to the gate. Pinto’s employer protested, as he had before, against the community bylaws that forbid servants to move at will.
In Line for the Throne?
Republicans are royalists. They’re groupies, attracted by star power and into hierarchies which hold out the promise of taking a turn in the spotlight for even the briefest moment of fame.Although the Latin scholars among us know well the ‘re’ in Republic refers to ‘res’–i.e. the things or concerns of the people (publius), Republicans think it’s short for ‘rex.’ That makes it more consistent with their preconceived notions about how society ought to be organized–in layers. Similarly, the ‘re’ in responsible is cut off and reduced to signify repetition.
Question: Should two of the richest men in the richest country on earth set up a separate company to handle public relations if they want to remain reclusive in Wichita, Kansas and Manhattan Island, New York?
I’d say, since that’s what Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have done, their concerns about privacy can be rightfully questioned. Tasking Melissa Cohlmia, Director, Corporate Communication, Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC with chiding Art Brisbane at The New York Times for the kind of coverage provided, especially in the opinion and culture sections, suggests a concern over style, rather than substance. The coverage is great, but they’d like it to be more Koch-friendly.
Profiting on our Children
On one level, it’s called privatization. The overt justification for privatization is always an increase in efficiency and higher quality. But the real reason lies in the fact that public officials don’t savor being actually accountable to the public. Shoving their obligations off to private enterprise via contracts strikes them as an opportunity to retain influence without having to actually do anything. And private enterprise is willing, regardless of the likelihood of failure, because American enterprise has a long tradition of exploiting public resources and assets, suckling at the public teat.
Abusing the Trust
Madison– Gov. Scott Walker announced a plan Wednesday to lift the enrollment cap on a state long-term care program – a move he made two weeks after federal authorities told his administration it had to take that step.
Walker touted the $80 million plan with advocates for the elderly and disabled at a Capitol news conference, but he made no mention of a recent order from the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, or CMS, directing his administration to lift the cap in the Family Care program.
Abusers are punitive. They get away with it by being selective in their targets, so those who escape feel grateful to have been spared…
Human Rights & Wrongs
Of course, the Mayor and Chief of Police refute the findings because a review of internal documentation and after-action reports can’t be but an indictment of people who had the information and took no corrective action.
The Justice Department’s investigation involved an in-depth review of SPD documents, as well as extensive community engagement.
Based on a randomized, stratified and statistically valid sample of SPD’s use of force reports from Jan. 1, 2009, to April 4, 2011, factual findings include:
A Book Review of Sorts
They are, as Warren Mosler enumerates them in his book:
Deadly Innocent Fraud #1:
The federal government must raise funds through taxation or borrowing in order to spend. In other words, government spending is limited by its ability to tax or borrow
Deadly Innocent Fraud #2:
With government deficits, we are leaving our debt burden to our children.
Deadly Innocent Fraud #3:
Federal Government budget deficits take away savings
Deadly Innocent Fraud #4:
Social Security is broken.
Read This Now
I think the culture of obedience is to blame for America’s descent into mediocrity and stultification. The culture of obedience, flying under a banner of virtue, aims at subjugation and domination. Not a virtue at all, obedience is the handmaiden of abuse, whether on an individual, familial, national or international scale. The culture of obedience assumes the right to tell other people what to do. So, really, obedience is the antithesis of individual freedom and conscience.
Since Hollywood is right next door, we should probably expect Los Angeles to be run by insincere people. Nevertheless, a self-styled Democrat evicting people from their park so he can lay new sod needs to be called out, especially when the response from his office is so obviously inappropriate.
Here’s what I wrote to the Mayor of the city of Angels, Antonio Villaraigosa, after watching the eviction of citizens from the plaza around city hall during the early hours of the last day of November, in the year of Our Lord, 2011.
While I only witnessed a portion of the police action in your city early this morning, it is unacceptable and insubordinate for public officials to exclude citizens from public property …
It’s been a puzzlement to democratic, liberty-loving folk. Why do Americans in the heartland keep flocking to politicians who lie and make empty promises they never deliver on? There have been many explanations, some assigning fault to people behaving like sheep and following whoever steps up to lead them; others identifying a punitive religious tradition which persuades the electorate that the lesser evil is all they can expect in the political arena. And then there are the people in the Democratic party who argue that, if a political majority can be won by the numbers along the edges of the continent, dismissing the heartland as not worth contesting is just being practical.
Freedom is Obedience
Having witnessed, from a distance, the robot invasion of Liberty Square, one observer was moved to comment that she’d thought of the NYPD as predators, but never actually said the word out loud. It is hard to admit that one’s own kind are behaving like senseless creatures of the wild. Besides, while stalking the unwary prey and attacking in the dead of night certainly looks like a nightmare that might terrify a child, the destruction of the village was obviously not aimed to sustain the horde. Neither the robots nor the clean-up crew took anything for themselves.
A village was destroyed.
Banksters and Credit
This is what the federal government allocating credit looks like. It is the banksters’ worst nightmare because allocating credit–deciding who gets to use money for how long and at what cost–is how they make a living. They should have thought about that before turning their counting houses into gambling dens.
What the banksters like is to red-line loans to people they don’t like and then wait for the federal government to bribe them with an insurance package to cover any loss if the people they don’t like end up being swamped by high interest rates and fees and default.
If the descendants of the Africans who were imported to the Americas thought that equal treatment would assure better treatment and a higher quality of life, they were disabused of that notion at least twice. First came Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court decision which made segregation legal wherever it seemed attractive throughout the land. Then came Brown v. Board of Education to, effectively, write finis to the idea that equal treatment is even related to quality. As the subsequent decades have clearly shown, there is nothing to prevent 99% of the people from being equally and routinely deprived of their rights.
Normally, it is not recommended that an individual try this by himself. Marine Sergeant Shamar Thomas is obviously not an ordinary man. Fortunately, there are still some NYPD cops who can be shamed. Lovely touch that white shirt using a bull horn to address a war hero!
That’s the title we might expect from the main stream media, who always like themselves some confrontation. The outfit that caught Congressman John Lewis’ interaction with Occupy Atlanta, tagged it as “Occupy Atlanta Silences Civil Rights Hero John Lewis.” Presumably, that still fits into the media theme of the week, influenced by Eric Cantor of Virginia referring to “mobs,” that the citizens occupying various public spaces to work through their grievances with society as they know it are some sort of rag-tag crew.
‘Twas over two years ago that President Obama told the bankers
“My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
That was, as any reader of my blog should know, long after I’d started nattering about the Bush administration looking for needles in haystacks that hadn’t been built. My characterization of our “intelligence” operations hasn’t gone anywhere, perhaps because the people working on “intelligence” are as unfamiliar with haystacks as the banksters are with pitchforks. Though, you’d think the meaning of a fork made to throw things out would be pretty clear.
As I’ve written many times, the line between the cop and the crook is really thin. Deprivation of rights under cover of law is where they merge. How very clever of the City of New York to herd citizens onto the Brooklyn Bridge and then arrest them! Human husbandry on parade.
From the Huffington Post, which I don’t usually consult:
Joshua Stephens, 33, had joined the protest march and had ended up on the Brooklyn Bridge. He managed to avoid being one of the 500 or so penned in by the NYPD and arrested. HuffPost reached him by phone, and he provided a first-hand narrative of just what happened on the bridge:
I don’t say that because poverty used to be a virtue (and, as far as I’m concerned, still is) but because the definition of poor depends to a large extent who’s counting what. If people don’t report their income to the tax man, there’s no way for our government to know how much or little they earn, unless somebody who’s holding a lot of unearned income for them files a report. Most of the country is still on the honor system. Which is, of course, why a whole lot of banksters got away with cooking the books.
But, that’s neither here nor there…
They were destroyed by an idea. Let me try to explain.
I spent $240 at a children’s clothing store the other day and it felt good. ‘Cause I’m a job sustainer when I do that. Then I went to the P.O. and spent another $11 to send the stuff across the country to a grand kid that’s having a birthday. The guy behind the counter was glad to see a job sustainer too.
Which makes me think that, again, we’ve allowed the conservatives to write the script…