Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘our tax dollars at work’ Category

The Real War on Poverty

Posted by Charles II on January 24, 2014

The Urban Institute and Brookings Institute have a discussion panel here on the role of tax policy in the War on Poverty.

Posted in our tax dollars at work, poverty | Comments Off on The Real War on Poverty

Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doubletalk! Doubletalk! Doubletalk dumb!

Posted by Charles II on June 26, 2012

First, some straight talk from James Earl Carter:

THE United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.

As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years.

While his OpEd is mostly about torture, wiretapping, and targeted assassination, it seems oddly relevant in light of the following short play called Our State Department:

QUESTION: On Paraguay.


QUESTION: A couple of things. First of all regarding the conversation yesterday, has there been any further determination on the part of the U.S. about what happened in Paraguay, whether this constitutes a coup or more broadly whether the U.S. has objections to what took place in Paraguay?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we are having consultations in the OAS today, and we would expect that the OAS will come forward after those consultations. As a general matter, we haven’t called this a coup because the processes were followed. I think the question is one of speed. And the OAS is looking at how it can support the Paraguayan democratic process going forward. You know that they’re supposed to have elections in 2013, which need to go forward. So I think we will refrain from further comment until we see how we come out of the OAS meeting. But our interest remains in protecting and preserving Paraguayan democracy.

QUESTION: Sure. The current leadership in Paraguay – does the U.S. recognize them as legitimate – the current president?

MS. NULAND: Again, we are going to be guided by the conversation that we have at the OAS about how we should deal with formers, currents, all those kinds of things.

QUESTION: When you said you –



QUESTION: And just – you issued a response to a question yesterday. President Lugo – then-President Lugo a day before the impeachment to go in at his own request to the U.S. Embassy.

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: I just wanted to see if there’s any more substance that you can tell us, what happened, what was the nature of the conversation. Obviously, the fact that this was right before his impeachment draws questions about what was discussed there.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I wish I did. I have nothing more for you there, Sean.

QUESTION: You said you haven’t called it a coup because the processes were followed. Does that mean you’ve decided it’s not a coup?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. We have not decided to call it a coup because it was – there were constitutional processes that were followed. The concerns that we’ve had, as we said yesterday, were that the process seemed to be extremely speedy, so –

QUESTION: Her question – that wasn’t her question. Her question was: Have you decided not to call it a coup?

MS. NULAND: I think, again, we will make our final conclusions on all of this as we see how the OAS comes forward.


QUESTION: So if the OAS decides that this was a coup —

MS. NULAND: Said, you’re taking me into all kinds of hypotheticals that I’m not going into.

QUESTION: You said that you will be consistent with the OAS decision. If they decide that it was a coup, that means that you will recognize it as such?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not going to prejudge the outcome of the meeting until we’ve had the meeting.


QUESTION: Can we change the subject?

Posted in Latin America, our tax dollars at work, State Department | 2 Comments »

Will Perps Behind $8.8 Billion Iraq Money Theft Be Punished? Probably Not, As Many Of Them Likely Were Bremer’s CPA Babies

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 13, 2011

I see the Pentagon’s finally admitting what we knew to be true ages ago:

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born.

Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash — enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.

For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”

The mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, and an irritant to Washington’s relations with Baghdad. Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money,
which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.

I wonder how much went for black ops, how much went for bribes, and how much simply went into the back pockets of the young College Republican and AEI sheltered-workshop kiddie types Paul Bremer picked to run the Coalition Provisional Authority?

Posted in Iraq war, Oil, our tax dollars at work | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by Charles II on May 16, 2011

One of the saddest sights of all is academics whose work is compromised by ideological funding. The last line of defense in preventing the coal and oil company global warming denialists from overwhelming the debate has been independent peer review. But when corporate whores (with apologies to all honest sex workers) are injected into universities, then they are the ones doing the peer review. It’s like injecting cancer cells into a healthy body.

Lee Fang of Think Progress has an important piece describing how the Kochs have managed to use their money, and the destitution of academia to create just this situation. Here’s a list of the Koch brainserfs:

George Mason University
West Virginia University
Brown University’s Political Science and Economics departments
The Economics Department at Florida State University
Troy University’s Center for Political Economy
Utah State University’s Huntsman School for Business
Beloit College’s Student Research Program

Posted in our tax dollars at work, political purges, working the refs | Comments Off on Brainserfs

The Most Open Administration in History

Posted by Charles II on November 14, 2010

Read the following with the understanding that the Bush Administration suppressed this as well. But things like this make one wonder whether the DoJ under Eric Holder has improved since the days of Alberto Gonzales. Denial of legitimate FOIAs is illegal, not a good thing for the nation’s top law enforcement agency to be engaged in.

From the National Security Archive, an invaluable independent organization which seeks to pry things loose from the archives of the national security state:

Washington, DC, November 13, 2010 – The Department of Justice censored dozens of pages of a candid history of Nazi-hunting (and Nazi-protecting) by the U.S. government to such a self-defeating extent that former officials leaked the entire document to the New York Times this week, instead of fulfilling the Freedom of Information request and lawsuit filed by the National Security Archive and its counsel David Sobel.

“Now that we can compare the redacted document with the complete text of the original report, it is clear that the Justice Department is withholding information without legal justification,” said David Sobel. “For an administration – and an Attorney General – supposedly committed to an ‘unprecedented’ level of transparency, this case provides a troubling example of how far the reality is from the rhetoric.”

The National Security Archive submitted its FOIA request for the history of the Office of Special Investigations in November 2009, only to be denied by the Justice Department on grounds that the document – although completed in 2006 and never revised since then – was only a draft and was “predecisional” and therefore withholdable under the 5th exemption to the FOIA.

Posted in doing the right thing, Eric Holder, fascism, government malfeasance, history, our tax dollars at work, stupid, WTF? | 3 Comments »

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy

Posted by Charles II on June 13, 2010

Declan Walsh, The Guardian:

Pakistani intelligence is so deeply involved in the arming and funding of the Afghan Taliban that it holds a seat on the militant leadership council and has sent the president, Asif Ali Zardari, to make prison visits to captured leaders, a report by the London School of Economics has said.

Researcher Matt Waldman said Pakistani support for the insurgency was “official” policy, implemented by the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency in the form of money, weapons and training.

“Pakistan appears to be playing a double game of astonishing magnitude,” the report, which cited interviews with unnamed Taliban commanders and western officials, said.

An ISI official in Islamabad described the report as “rubbish”….

One [interviewee] said the ISI support originally came from the US government…

The latter point is a question that I asked Ahmed Rashid and he did not answer. Not that he would necessarily know. But logically someone kept militant Islam in Central Asia alive and well after US military aid was cut off from Pakistan. Funds came from Saudi Arabia, presumably. But would the Saudis have done that without American approval? Doubtful.

So it’s interesting that the creation of the Taliban may or may not (according to one interviewee in a report that may or may not be rubbish) have been accomplished with American dollars. I suspect it did, but only because I believe in the existence of Nemesis.

Posted in eedjits, our tax dollars at work, Pakistan, terrorism | 3 Comments »

Cobell win is spelled K-o-c-h

Posted by Charles II on December 10, 2009

One of the few small bits of good news, and we owe it in part to ::hack:: Royce Lamberth:

Todd Wilkinson, Christian Science Monitor (via t/o)

This week’s landmark settlement on behalf of as many as 500,000 native Americans, in which the US agreed to pay $3.4 billion to right a century of wrongs that cheated Indians out of the proceeds from their properties, took 13 years, countless lawyer hours, and the persistence of one Elouise Cobell.

A Blackfeet Indian who worked as a banker, Mrs. Cobell is the original plaintiff in a lawsuit that claimed the US government for generations failed to pay royalties, totaling tens of billions of dollars, for mineral and grazing leases on land it held in trust for native Americans and tribes….

Cobell was often frustrated, first with the Clinton administration and then with the Bush Interior Department that managed the trust accounts, as the government sought to downplay the case as merely a bookkeeping problem.

Incredulous, US District Judge Royce Lamberth, who presided over a series of hearings, wrote scathing opinions, including one that said: “I have never seen more egregious misconduct by the federal government.” He added: “Real justice for these Indians may still lie in the distant future; it may never come at all. This reality makes a statement about our society and our form of government that we should be unwilling to let stand.”

The irony is that the Feds were mostly guilty of keeping sloppy books. The real malefactors are in the private sector. So, the Cobell win is in large measure a bailout of criminals in suits.

Posted in capitalism as cancer, frauds, Oil, our tax dollars at work | 1 Comment »

This Is Interesting

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 4, 2009

Drive-time AM radio this morning has been pushing a variant of this Matt Apuzzo AP story from last Wednesday questioning the job creation effect of the stimulus package.

Meanwhile, a similar version of this theme seems to have made its way from the Indian press to The Raw Story and was picked up by Avedon Carol at The Sideshow — the key change being to state — or at heavily imply — that Obama’s policies were sending green jobs overseas (especially to India) instead of creating them here at home.

So what’s this all about? Well, I suspect that some US-based multinational corporations (such as, perhaps, Microsoft?) don’t like the fact that banks and other entities taking TARP bailout money can’t keep importing and using dirt-cheap H-1B workers instead of American workers, and so they’re doing some pushback.

Another angle is that Obama also wants to crack down on offshore tax havens — something else that his critics (particularly those on the right) say is impossible and which can lead to undesirable effects, even though a new study, which you almost certainly won’t hear as much about on the evening TV news or drive-time radio as you will the other news stories I’ve mentioned, shows how Bush policies that enabled tax-haven junkie corporations to continue their tax-dodging ways wound up costing America tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of jobs since 2004. (h/t to Scholars and Rogues for this.)

If the people who want to preserve the tax-haven option can get the masses to seriously doubt the efficacy of the stimulus plan, then they can stop the plan to shut down the tax-haven option. And if they can use a story from the Indian press (which has a big ol’ dog in this fight) about green jobs allegedly fleeing the country under Obama to smother a much better sourced and detailed story about how Bush tax-haven-enabling policies touted as job-savers actually cost tens of thousands of jobs, that’s also something that helps the protectors of the tax havens.

Now, granted, many of these stories I’ve mentioned may well have groundings in reality. But the timing is, as I say, interesting.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, 111th Congress, 2008, 2012, big money, media, our tax dollars at work, outsourcing, President Obama | 1 Comment »

Minnesota’s Construction Workers Grateful For Stimulus Money

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 13, 2009

Spring is coming to the Upper Midwest, and with it road construction season. Thanks to the stimulus package, lots of long-neglected road projects are going to be dealt with, providing jobs and money for tens of thousands of Minnesota workers:

The impact of the stimulus dollars?

“I’m hoping we’ll have everyone working,” said Glen Johnson, business manager of Local 49 of the Operating Engineers Union.

That means 13,000 people from one union alone will be collecting paychecks. Non-union operators also will be getting work, especially in Greater Minnesota regions where unions aren’t as strong. And unlike last summer, Johnson said, virtually everyone should be working full time, plus overtime.

“Most of our people were working last summer,”Johnson said, “but we had a lot of guys working four-day weeks so that everyone could have a job.”

Johnson is sensitive to the suggestion that operating engineers are being paid too much.

“I saw one report saying our guys make $50 an hour,” he said. “What they didn’t say is that most of our guys have nine months to work. They didn’t say that that $50 an hour includes all benefits. They didn’t say our guys get paid only if they work. If it’s raining and they can’t work, they don’t get paid.”

Johnson is a huge believer in the ripple effect of construction work.

“It’s said that every dollar spent on construction touches 10 hands,” he said. “… When our guys are working, the pavers are working. When we’re working, the people who make tires are working. And most of the money being spent is spent locally.”

This is excellent, excellent news. And this is just one chunk of the stimulus money allocation for just one state.

Posted in 111th Congress, economy, Good Things, our tax dollars at work, unions, when government is a good thing | 2 Comments »

Mexico, November 2nd 2008

Posted by Charles II on November 2, 2008

The globalization of corruption. US and Mexico vie for most corrupt in narcotrafficking
(via Bill Conroy, NarcoNews)

As reported by Narconews repeatedly for years previous, The Mexican government is riddled with people on the payroll of narcotraffickers. BBC:

One of Mexico’s most senior police officers, the acting Federal police commissioner, Victor Gerardo Garay, has resigned.

He stood down after an aide of his was accused of working for a leading drug cartel.

His resignation comes as one of his top lieutenants is under investigation for having allegedly offered protection to members of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

The Mexican press has alleged that the commission’s office allowed the cartel to smuggle drugs through Mexico City’s international airport.

It follows the arrest just last week of five members of the organised crime unit of the federal attorney general’s office – who face accusations of having passed on information to members of another cartel.

Plan Mexico and the failure of the Mexican drug war. Kristin Bricker, NarcoNews:

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to rule out the deployment of armed US agents to Mexico under Plan Mexico during a recent visit to Mexico. …

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Mexico, Oil, our tax dollars at work, Uncategorized, world news, wrong way to go about it | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: