THE WAY WE WERE

22d03086d426e5efb23078dbc1ad210a_1MEditorial by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

Thomas Jefferson was an architect.

John Adams was a lawyer.

Samuel Adams was a brewer.

Alexander Hamilton was an author and a lawyer.

pelosidow-213x300John Hancock was a shipping and wholesale merchant.

Members of the Continental Congress operated farms and conducted businesses.

It used to be that our elected officials earned an actual, productive living. Which means that they came together to enact legislation, make decisions and conduct the business of the government when necessary and then went home to support themselves and their families.

People who have a responsibility to fend for themselves and their families generally do not have time to interfere with whom you have sex with, what you eat (or smoke) or how you pray (or don’t). Only people who have no lives of their own can afford to be busybodies, tending to and intruding into the lives of others.

John_Boehner_at_the_barThe professional politician is the pernicious plague of our generation.

Member of Congress was intended as a temporary, part time, volunteer servant, not a career.

Term limits. No perquisites. No Congressional pensions. No Congressional health plans.

Washington: Go home and get to work.

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KNOCK-OFF HANDBAGS AND MEDIA PIRACY FUND TERRORISM

325634Article by Mark I Rasskazov, Editor in Chief.

Forget drugs, forget oil, forget wealthy religious extremists — the fiat currency of terrorism is knock-off handbags and bootleg DVDs: so says a source I’ve spoken to who shall remain anonymous.  According to this source, these kinds of items, along with knock-off Tiffanys’ jewelry items and other counterfeited luxury items, are the primary means by which criminals and terrorists get their money from «Point A» to «Point B.»

It seems unbelievable.  It’s certainly one of the most under-reported aspects of the criminal world, if true.

So I did some research.

DVD RAROS BOOTLEGRonald K. Noble of Interpol via the LA Times: «The global trade in counterfeit goods is estimated at $400 billion to $450 billion a year.»  Later in the article, he is quoted as saying that: «Counterfeit cigarette trafficking by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland and profits from counterfeit CDs and other goods being funneled to Hezbollah in the Mideast.»

Hitha Prabhakar, a noted investigative journalist, wrote an entire book on the subject.  At the beginning of the book, she quotes a review of it by one Dana Thomas: «Counterfeiting is one of the least-acknowledged, most-damaging crimes of our time. In Black Market Billions, Hitha exposes this nefarious world of the violent syndicates and the crimes they commit—human trafficking, forced child labor, money laundering—and discovers that the profits fund even worse acts such as terrorism.  You’ll never look at a fake Louis Vuitton handbag the same way again.»

It seems the issue is important enough to have garnered the attention of Congress, as well.

terrorismIt has been put to me in the following manner: «You cannot board a cruise ship with more than $9,999.99; if you want to transport $10,000.00, the way you do it: you take a bunch of knock-off hand-bags and sell them to a contact in the destination country.  Every time we catch a terrorist, he’s holed up with weapons, explosives, and tens of thousands of bootleg CDs.»

It seems heroin is for amateurs.  The pros deal in faux Versace, apparently.

THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT

douchebagsEditorial by Barbara Cornell.

Syndicated from Barbara Cornell’s personal blog.

Suppose you have a friend who who makes $45k a year who owes $50k in credit card debt — not mortgages, not car loans, not loans that build equity, just simple living-beyond-his-means consumer debt — and expects to owe $100k in credit card debt by the end of next year because of things he’s already bought but hasn’t received the bills for yet. Now this friend asks you, «Do you think I should buy season tickets to the Mets or should I install a third swimming pool at my 2nd beach house?»

What do you tell your friend?

The US Congress is that friend.

Our current federal debt ($14 trillion) exceeds our gross domestic product (approx $13 trillion) and the federal debt is expected to double in the next few years*

congressTranslation: The federal government could confiscate 100% of everything everyone in the entire country produces this year and still not pay off what we owe on what we’ve already spent, and we’ve already made agreements to double this problem before we have any opportunity to «counsel» (with our votes) the people in government who are currently in office.

Taxation has no hope of fixing anything (unless you and everybody you know is prepared to work for the next two years without pay to bail out the country). So, discussions of whether we should tax the rich people more or corporations more, or whether we should have tax credits for production or tax credits for working poor are pointless. The time when we had any choice of what we should pay for and what we should not has come and gone. Soon we will not be able to borrow enough to meet basic human needs (clean water, police protection, defense of our national borders, sewage pumped somewhere besides the middle of the streets).

48tGY1It no longer matters which project you believe deserves to be paid for by the US taxpayer.

The Age of Entitlement must end.

That isn’t a political imperative. That is a simple, emotionless statement of fact.

Let me put it another way:

The Age of Entitlement will end.

Whether you believe that it should or not, whether you believe that it ever existed or not, whether you think it’s fair to use the term or not, it will end.

The only choice we have now is whether we can prevent this nation from becoming the next third world.

____________________

*For skeptics: depends on whom you talk to. The White House official budget publicity release says both that the budgets over the next 3 years will incur deficits of over $6 trillion and that they will reduce the debt by $1.1 trillion. I’m not sure whom they think they’re fooling with their double talk. However, estimates that include expected reduction in the amount that social security will contribute to the federal budget place the deficits much higher even than their worst-case admissions.

THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2013

Article by Mark I Rasskazov, Editor in Chief.

This is an extremely unconstitutional and tyrannical act.

This is a document that authorizes the Executive branch (the President) to immediately and indefinitely detain anyone — including US Citizens on US soil — on whim.  Authorization from congress is not required.  Aside from being a clearly tyrannical development of boundless executive power, it also violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments by violating the right to due process, and the ban against cruel and unusual punishment.  Furthermore, arresting or assassinating people on foreign soil is an act of war — per Section 8 of the Constitution, war can only be conducted under a declaration of war, and war can only be declared with explicit approval from congress.  The document also authorizes the use of Reservists during times of emergency, which abuses Posse Comitatus.

This is a highly disturbing development.

The ACLU criticizes that this bill flies in the face of Barrack Obama’s promise to close the Guantanimo Bay prison, and enables the military to indefinitely detain non-combatants.

US Senator Rand Paul has harshly criticized this bill for allowing for indefinite military detention.

Matt Sledge and Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post point out:

«Obama’s signing statement did reiterate his opposition to restrictions on when he can move prisoners out of the Guantanamo camp. Such statements signal how a president plans to put a law into effect but do not have the force of law themselves, leaving future administrations to make their own interpretations.»

Natasha Lenard of Salon rails against the bill:

«This time last year, President Obama said that he had “serious reservations” about certain provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. But he signed it anyway. This year, the same provisions over which he was so reserved remain in the 2013 version of the bill, along with a number of brand-new problematic amendments.»

She also points out that Congress did little to improve the bill.

The Center for Constitutional rights put out a very strong indictment against Obama and the new bill:

«For the second year in a row, President Obama has caved on his threat to veto this dangerous legislation, which severely restricts his ability to transfer or provided fair trials for the 166 men who remain imprisoned at Guantanamo.  The 2013 NDAA extends restrictions that have been in place for nearly two years, during which zero prisoners have been certified for transfer oversees and zero have been transferred to the U.S. for prosecution.  Once again, Obama has failed to lead on Guantanamo and surrendered closure issues to his political opponents in Congress.  In one fell swoop, he has belied his recent lip-service about a continued commitment to closing Guantanamo.»

Activist Post points out that the NDAA flies in the face of federal court rulings.

Citizens and journalists from both sides of the aisle are coming out strongly against this bill, yet Congress and the Executive are standing by it anyway.  What is going on in Washington? Are we still living in a democracy?  Do we still have a constitution?  Whatever became of the «Land of the Free?»