8/30/2009

finance jokes

You know things have gotten pretty bad when cartoons incorporating academic debates about inflation vs. deflation, wealth disparity, and the role of the Fed can be done so simply anybody can get the gist. Thanks to Jesse's for this.


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8/28/2009

the disgustingness continues

(P) This week, the ACLU put up another document that the government has belatedly released regarding the criminal (er, heroic, terrorist-stopping, manly, beer-drinking) acts of the senior officials of the Bush Administration.

As the document bureaucratically explains:

Note: This paper provides further background information and details on High Value Detainee (HVD) interrogation techniques to support documents CIA has previously provided the Department of Justice.

This paper focuses strictly on the topic of combined uses of interrogation techniques.

What I think is going to surprise a lot of people as more and more of the details trickle out is how cold and calculated everything is. One of the features of a large organization is that bureaucracy involves lots of decision-makers, and in order to disseminate information among the various groups, there is lots of information sent back and forth. The nature of this process thus can almost hilariously contrast with the particular subject matter at hand. Our nation's leaders discussed war crimes, treaty violations, and felonies as if they were discussing where to build a new highway interchange or quarterly projections for GDP growth.

This process is precisely why transparency, openness, 'sunshine', is a core element of good governance. Decision-makers have to know at the time of their decisions that their deliberations will become public, that there will be social and legal consequences for blatantly improper courses of action.

The PDF for this document from 2004 sent to the Office of Legal Counsel from the Central Intelligence Agency can be downloaded here. It's been clear for awhile that this is no group of 'bad apples' or 'rogue agents' or other nonsense. The dedicated staff at the CIA, NSA, DIA, INR, etc, etc, who are monitoring my blog, your email, your mom's phone conversations, your dad's credit history, your neighbor's political contributions, your kid's internet postings, your grandma's participation in peace groups, etc, etc, are not the people who designed these policies. And to a great extent, it's the bureaucracy itself, the countless professional civil servants, who are able to apply the brakes internally, to slow down inappropriate, counterproductive, illegal programs.

But that only stops so much. When a group of our leaders is committed to ignoring the law, there is only one group of people that can stand up to them, and that is us, We the People. Seven years after we first started this particular bit of horrific, counterproductive, illicit behavior, we have yet to stop it completely, let alone hold the architects accountable for their creation.

But hey, at least we've been able to arrest millions of other Americans over the past seven years for grave allegations like shoplifting, prostitution, and marijuana possession. It's good we've got our 'tough on crime' priorities in order.

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8/23/2009

how did i miss this

Oh, I can't believe I didn't see this clip before. This is John McCain back in Iowa on whether he's ever not had government healthcare.

Check it out!

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8/16/2009

a tale of two brits

(P) I found these two articles from British outlets deliciously contrasting in their presentation of the healthcare debate in America.

First, from the Economist, we have "Friend or Foe? It is not wise for Democrats to bash America's health insurers".

Then, from the Independent UK, we have "The brutal truth about America’s healthcare: An extraordinary report from Guy Adams in Los Angeles at the music arena that has been turned into a makeshift medical centre".

Can you guess from the title which one is the concern troll about bashing health insurance companies, and which one is the detailed reporting about the lack of access to quality medical care in the United States?

Let's play a little game. Guess which article the quotes come from.

1. "For one thing, the punters at these meetings often have poignant and unscripted personal tales that explain their distrust of proposed reforms. Also, numerous polls now confirm that scepticism among Americans at large—and independents in particular—is growing about health reform."

2. "They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunizations that could end up saving their life."

3. "The more underhanded gambit is the decision to bash the insurance industry at every turn. Ms Pelosi now calls its bosses “villains”, while Mr Obama wags a disapproving finger. This will score some political points, as many Americans have a deep (and often well-founded) distrust of health insurers. But the tactic could ultimately hobble or even doom reform."

4. "Although the Americans spend more on medicine than any nation on earth, there are an estimated 50 million with no health insurance at all. Many of those who have jobs can't afford coverage, and even those with standard policies often find it doesn't cover commonplace procedures. California's unemployed - who rely on Medicaid - had their dental care axed last month."

5. "Though it has a shameful history, the insurance industry has done a U-turn of late. It now accepts the need for a radical overhaul of insurance markets through measures such as guaranteed issue of coverage and the creation of health insurance “exchanges”. But its leaders are increasingly unhappy about the shrill attacks. Can Mr Obama continue to bash the insurers one day and rely on them the next?"

6. "I've been very conservative in my outlook for the whole of my life. I've been described as being about 90,000 miles to the right of Attila the Hun. But I think one reaches the reality that something doesn't work... In this country something has to be done. And as a proud member of the US community but a loyal British subject to the core, I would say that if Britain could fix it in 1944, surely we could fix it here in America."

Hint: this test is designed to be easy. It goes E/I/E/I/E/I. Oh, but you probably figured that out already.

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8/04/2009

unsanitizing torture

(P) I personally tend to be more discrete and diplomatic in my communication, but I wanted to highlight somebody being a little more direct in telling it like it is. The notion that our prison policies have been anything but immoral, illegal, and counterproductive is pretty funny.

Some articles have a way of just lettin' it all hang out, leaving little to the imagination. The graphic alone makes reading this story worth it.

I would normally give a warning that this is mature content, but this is what our government is doing in our name to real human beings. How can conduct be so horrific we should shelter our kids from it, but at the same time, not be worth investigating and prosecuting? That's a rhetorical question, of course. Of the millions of Americans who have been arrested in the last few years, few have committed crimes even remotely as disgusting or an as large a scale as the senior officials of the Bush Administration.

For your reading pleasure, Whores on Terror by Allan Uthman.

A snippet:
I don’t want to come off as minimizing the horror of controlled drowning. It’s just that there’s something about forcible anal rape that brings the torture issue into sharp focus. Just once, I’d like to hear one of these American Enterprise Institute psychos, the ones that always trot out to defend the Neocons’ freakish obsessions, have to defend shoving a flashlight up a guy’s ass. I want to hear Frank Gaffney or Jonah Goldberg tell me why I shouldn’t be fucking mortified that raping prisoners was considered within tolerable interrogation practices by my country. I want Glenn Beck to justify butt-raping a suspect.

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