Monday, June 14, 2010

The Monday Depression

Great news abounds today. 

The American Congress (Profiles is Cowardice), corruption, and the disaster in the Gulf, Yikes!  I’m ready for a long vacation.  Behind the scenes, sham leadership and posturing rule the headlines.  I skipped stories about current American penchant to be famous without work or character. 

Today’s selection of the stories that you aren’t likely to see on the news today.

The [Treasury] report to Congress warned that U.S. debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and climb to an estimated $19.6 trillion by 2015 .At that point, Treasury reckons, the ratio of debt to gross domestic product would be 102% compared with 93% this year. Now, that's still not in the same league as Greece, whose debt-to-GDP ratio is 110%, and our economy admittedly is many times more "robust." But at the rate we're going, we'll catch up fast. As Rep. Mike Pence recently noted on these pages, our federal deficit rocketed tenfold just since 2007.

And we're already ahead of other PIIGS, as we condescendingly call European basket cases Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Portugal's debt ratio, for example, is "only" 80%


Washington, Jun 11 - According to an official draft of the Administration’s regulations for implementing the new health care reform law, 51% of all Americans will lose their current health care plans over the next three years. Furthermore, 66% of all employees working for small businesses will lose their current health care plans under the regulations to establish how existing plans will meet the new mandates of the health care reform law.

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of fixing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that last year bought or guaranteed three-quarters of all U.S. home loans, will be at least $160 billion and could grow to as much as $1 trillion after the biggest bailout in American history.

Fannie and Freddie, now 80 percent owned by U.S. taxpayers, already have drawn $145 billion from an unlimited line of government credit granted to ensure that home buyers can get loans while the private housing-finance industry is moribund. That surpasses the amount spent on rescues of American International Group Inc., General Motors Co. or Citigroup Inc., which have begun repaying their debts.

“It is the mother of all bailouts,” said Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer at Fannie Mae, who is now a consultant to the mortgage-finance industry.

Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration made two deeply troubling arguments.

First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue "would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security." As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.

It's an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration "invoked a legal tool known as the 'state secrets' privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court." He was right then, and we're dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.

Sad as that is, it's the Department Of Justice's second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one — not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration — has ever interpreted the law this way.

Remember the outcry against “Bush’s warrantless wiretapping?  And Obama’s campaign pledge?  Where’s the outrage now?  When Obama is done dismantling America, Where will he next turn his attention?  Can we get him elected as the President of Iran?

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You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

Harlan Ellison