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News Roundup – Egypt, Paul Krugman, North Carolina

The violence in Egypt is simply breathtaking. Maybe heartbreaking is a better term.. I understand that Egyptians, for the most part, weren’t happy with the Muslim brotherhood. I’m sorry. If you indeed had a free and fair election, you need to live with the consequences. I am sitting here in North Carolina seizing over what has happened to what was the most progressive state in the South. Our answer is not to take to the streets and begin randomly shooting people. Instead, we are organizing. We’re going to get more people registered to vote. We’re going to vote these ultra conservative Republicans out of office and take back our state.

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Paul Krugman had two excellent posts yesterday. The first post had two things that were very interesting to me. First, Professor Krugman wondered if most Americans knew that the budget deficit has been rapidly decreasing. Somebody from Google got in contact with him and they quickly put out a survey. This isn’t the exact same thing as a poll, but it does give you an idea of the power of the Internet. The poll suggested that over 75% of the respondents had no idea that the federal deficit had significantly decreased. This brings me to my next point, that the budget deficit has significantly decreased compared to GDP.

In Paul Krugman’s other post, he talks a little bit about the economy in the Netherlands. The Netherlands had the kind of “Grand Bargain” that several in Washington have been arguing for for the last couple of years. Basically, cut the federal budget and cut the federal budget some more. Then, when you think you’re through, cut the federal budget once more for good measure. Well, this didn’t work out so well for the Netherlands. Their economy is in the tank. (more…)

By | 2013-08-18T22:36:22+00:00 August 15th, 2013|Economy, Foreign Affairs, Legal|1 Comment

TARP Funds Misused

There seems to be no greater secret in Washington than what’s going on with the TARP funds.

From WaPo:

The report, which will be published Monday, surveyed 360 banks that got money through the end of January and found that 110 had invested at least some of it, that 52 had repaid debts and that 15 had used funds to buy other banks.

Roughly 80 percent of respondents, or 300 banks, also said at least some of the money had supported new lending.

The report by special inspector general Neil Barofsky calls on the Treasury Department to require regular, more detailed information from banks about their use of federal aid provided under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The Treasury has refused to collect such information.

Doing so is “essential to meet Treasury’s stated goal of bringing transparency to the TARP program and informing the American people and their representatives in Congress about what is being done with their money,” the report said.

In a written response, the Treasury again rejected that call. Officials have taken the view that the exact use of the federal aid cannot be tracked because money given to a bank is like water poured into an ocean. (more… )

I’m sorry isn’t it more like money flushed down the toilet?

By | 2009-07-21T05:58:45+00:00 July 21st, 2009|Economy|Comments Off on TARP Funds Misused

O'Reilly – No investigation

I have decided to look at one of Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points. It is the best opportunity for Bill O’Reilly to be Bill O’Reilly. There are no constraints. He is able to as ugly and nasty as he wants to be. So, let’s’ look at O’Reilly’s Talking Points from today (4/24/09).

O’Reilly starts out by saying that President Barack Obama is doing the right thing. Nearly 60% of Americans don’t want a “witch hunt” into the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, O’Reilly never tells us where these polls come from. Are these national polls? Are there regional polls? Are there Fox News polls? Where is the data? It looks like his numbers are off according to CNN

A Gallup poll in early February showed that 38 percent of respondents favored a Justice Department criminal investigation of torture claims, 24 percent favored a noncriminal investigation by an independent panel, and 34 percent opposed either. A Washington Post poll about a week earlier showed a narrow percentage of Americans in favor of investigations.

It seems like from this Gallup poll 62% of Americans wanted some type of investigation.  Now, I’m not going to say that O’Reilly is lying or twisting the facts.  I’m just going to say that I’m not sure what polling he is quoting from because I can’t find those numbers that he is quoting.  Let’s move on.

I hate the fact that O’Reilly can’t make a point with name calling.  “Loons.”  Really?  Anyway, President Obama has been fairly consistent in his statements that he does not want an investigation.  The good thing is that investigations aren’t up to the White House.  Investigations are up to the Justice Department.  O’Reilly then says that the controversy over investigations is destructive to America and therefore we should move on (sounds very familiar).  Then O’Reilly continues his name calling by labeling folks on the left so stupid that they are dangerous.  Really?  What’s the evidence of this danger?  Is following the law dangerous?  When Newt and company were investigating Bill Clinton, following what they thought was the law, was that dangerous?

Wow, now, O’Reilly injects a bit of fact.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi did know or was briefed on the enhanced interrogation policies.  It is unclear if she voiced any opposition.  What is also unclear is if she could have said anything about the program because of its top secret status.  She clearly couldn’t have complained to the media or any of her colleagues unless they were in that Gang of Four congressman who were briefed.  Here’s what Pelosi said today, “We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had . . . the Office of Legal Counsel opinions [and] that they could be used, but not that they would.” Of course, this is nuance.  O’Reilly doesn’t do nuance.

O’Reilly now begins to apologize for torturing.  “The country was in chaos after 9/11.”  This is the typical rational given for torture.  We had to have information right away.  If that was true then why didn’t we start torturing Abu Zubaydah the day were captured him (torture started several months later)?  Why was the FBI dead set against torture?  Was the FBI against protecting the country?

It seems that if you want to follow the law which is very clear then you are labeled by O’Reilly as an ideologue who is hateful.  Then we get some great and classic O’Reilly, “Mistakes were made in every war.  Harry Truman could have been tried as a war criminal.”  What could Harry Truman been tried for?  Dropping the Hydrogen Bomb?  What law did that violate? Or is O’Reilly talking about something that happened in the Korean War?  We don’t know because he doesn’t say.  He never gives us the information to make an conclusion.  He just expects us to accept his premise that Truman, Patton and Lincoln could have been tried as war criminals which I don’t buy.

O’Reilly then lists those groups that he believes hates America – the ACLU,, The New York Times and others.  He is fed up.  These groups just want revenge.  Again, he provides not one shread of evidence to support his position.  I’m sorry why should we care if O’Reilly is fed up.  What O’Reilly doesn’t mention is that war is hell (he did say this) and Americans after and during the Vietnam war who violated the code of conduct were tried and imprisoned.  Japanese who waterboarded Americans were tried and hanged. So, in spite of war being hell there is a code of conduct which needs to be adhered to but again O’Reilly doesn’t explain these facts.

Finally, Bill O’Reilly justifies his anti-law stance by saying, “WE are living in a very dangerous time. People want to kill us. The economy is brutal and nuclear-armed Pakistan is chaotic.”  Wait just one second.  He is arguing that because there is a bunch of stuff going on in the world we shouldn’t prosecute or investigate whether Bush administation people violated our laws?  Is this what he is arguing?  I’m sorry.  Wasn’t it a little more dangerous when we were having Air Raid drills on a regular basis because a nuclear attack from Russia was a very realistic possibility.  Weren’t the Russians more of a threat than Al Qaeda or Pakistan?

By | 2009-04-24T21:51:41+00:00 April 24th, 2009|Bush Administration, Congress, Domestic Issues, Media, Obama administration, Party Politics, Torture|Comments Off on O'Reilly – No investigation