Monday, January 31, 2011

Republicans Being Ruthless



Paul Krugman has some very strong words for a new incident of the same old Republican ruthlessness we’ve seen before.

Inquiry and Intimidation

”I haven’t seen this reported elsewhere — but Republicans in Congress are planning to investigate the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, looking for evidence of corruption and wrongdoing.

It’s absurd, of course: a tiny commission with a small budget didn’t offer much scope for corruption.”


”What the GOP wants is to make people afraid even to do research that produces conclusions they don’t like. ”

It is typical Krugman -- short, sharp and straight to the point. I don’t want to quote the whole post and you need to read every single word. Click on it.

I have no reason to doubt Professor Krugman, but just to show you I do check on these things, I found this at The Atlantic while I was researching the subject.

FCIC: The Private Sector Failed

”But these assessments ignored a fundamental agreement among nine of the 10 members -- a source of the report's continuing importance. The bipartisan commissioners emphatically concluded that one of the primary causes of the meltdown was massive failure of private sector decision-making, especially in major financial institutions. ”

”The conclusion about massive private sector failure is summed up in a quote from JP Morgan's CEO Jamie Dimon who, when reflecting on the causes of the crisis, told the Commission: "I blame the management teams 100% and no one else."”

”Whatever one's views on the failures of Federal Reserve, the ineffectiveness of other regulators, the poor performance of the credit rating agencies, the mindless cheerleading of business media and certain short-term shareholders or the promotion of affordable housing as national policy, no one made the boards and business leaders of the major private institutions -- Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Washington Mutual, Countrywide et al -- take a self-destructive course on the most fundamental decision businesses make: how to allocate capital and under what conditions.”

The private sector failed. They failed to properly “allocate capital”. The private sector failed to “manage risk”. The private sector failed to protect the capital of their investors.

The private sector -- aided and abetted by the Republican Party and (in some cases) the Democratic Party -- did succeed in killing and crippling regulation and in co-opting the regulators. And they paid themselves handsomely for their massive failure.

Don Brown
January 31, 2011

Shocked, I Am



I know all current (and former) FAA employees are shocked to read this news.


FAA Reauthorization, NextGen Could Be Delayed By $1 Billion Lawsuit


”A report in The Hill indicates that WCG is seeking $1 billion in damages against allegations that Raytheon Employee Charles Keegan entered into a conspiracy with the FAA to get a 10-year contract for air traffic controller training. Keegan had been an FAA employee during the bidding process, and allegedly had a romantic involvement with another senior FAA employee, whom he later married. The suit charges the two conspired to be sure WGC would not be able to get the contract as a subcontractor for Lockheed Martin. Keegan now is Raytheon's manager for the contract.”

I’ve got the solution to this problem, by the way. Put the training back in-house -- with FAA employees -- like it ought to be. It’s just corporate welfare. All the instructors and all the managers are ex-FAA employees. They were all trained and educated at taxpayer expense. And it’s all being used for corporate profit -- instead of for the good of the people that paid for it. It’s a charade. It should have ended decades ago.

Don Brown
January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-30-11



Sometimes, you don’t even have to leave the house. I just took this on my back porch.


© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 30, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Marketplace® Microcosm



I tried a new trick this morning. While I was freezing my feet, waiting on today’s photo, I thought I’d catch up on my backlog of podcasts. I managed to listen to three from Marketplace while waiting for the sun to rise.

The thought hit me that Marketplace does a really good job of covering the important issues of the day (in 30 minutes no less) -- if you already have a context in which to judge the segment. Let me give you some examples.

Obama wants to snip discretionary spending

”President Obama proposes budget cuts of $400 billion over a decade. Senator Rand Paul proposes cuts of half a trillion in a year.”

There are a host of issues to understand here. But without any context, you only hear this:

”But between the two -- $40 billion a year for a decade, and $500 billion right now -- surely there's a middle ground.”

In other words, surely we can compromise. But it isn’t a compromise. Frankly, it’s a surrender on President Obama’s part. First, you must understand Overton’s Window. Senator Paul’s proposal is so far out there that it is politically impossible. Even the show segment states that. But the proposal pushes what is contemplated so far to the right, that meeting “in the middle” is now much further right that where the “middle” used to be.

If President Obama were to use the same tactic, he would need to ask for the 90% tax rate on the rich that we used to have in order to obtain the increase that he really wanted -- from 35% to 39%. But in order to make that “contemplated” -- like Senator Paul’s $500 billion budget cut -- President Obama would need a “vast, left-wing conspiracy” that had been “selling” the idea via think tanks, talk radio and political advertising (i.e. propaganda) for three decades.

In my humble opinion, President Obama should -- right at this moment -- be pushing for large-scale Federal hiring. And at the top of his list should be accountants, tax collectors and restaffing the regulatory agencies that (supposedly) failed. (They didn’t “fail”. They were silenced, starved and compromised.) Instead, he has bowed to political reality and talks of freezing the Federal budget. With the coming Local/State budget crisis, I believe it is a huge mistake.

What Local/State budget crisis? Once again, Marketplace has the story.

The panic lurking in the municipal bond market

”Nassau County on Long Island, just east of New York City, is in a little bit of a jam. It can't seem to handle its own finances, despite being one of the richest places in the country. A state oversight board took control of Nassau County's books today, just the latest in a long list of troubles for state and local government finances.”

Did you get that? “One of the richest places” “can’t...handle its own finances”? You watch, the Republicans are going to blame it on those county-employee-union bums. But the truth is that a Tea Partier got elected and cut taxes without cutting spending.

Now pay close attention here:

”So generally, munis have been safe. But this year, there's this talk of bankruptcy. It's not coming from the states, God knows, because they don't want anyone thinking they can go bankrupt. But Congress is thinking about putting these precautions into effect so that states could have a better negotiating position when they want to cut pensions or other state services.”

Potential bankruptcy as a negotiating position. In other words, union busting. States can’t go bankrupt. And as the above says, “It's not coming from the states”. As I already told you, it’s coming from Newt Gingrich. Piece it together. Gingrich and the Party of the Rich are willing to panic the bond market in order to defeat unions politically. Less money for working people. More money (less taxes) for rich people. More power for the people that control the corporations.

And if you think that “What is good for GM is good for America”, you need to listen to Robert Reich -- conveniently available on Marketplace.

”This is one reason corporate profits are soaring and the Dow is flirting with 12,000, as if we never had a Great Recession. But American workers continue to struggle. There's no trickle down. It's all trickle out to investments and investors around the world.”

Don Brown
January 28, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-28-11



I should have worn a second pair of socks. It only went down to 33º so I know my feet weren’t really frozen. They just felt that way.


© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 28, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Newspaper of Record



The New York Times is considered our nation’s newspaper of record. In the future, when people want to know what caused the Great Recession, one of the first places they will turn to for a record of the events will be The New York Times. In that context, this headline becomes even more important.

Financial Crisis Was Avoidable, Inquiry Finds

”The 2008 financial crisis was an “avoidable” disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry.”

Failures in government regulation...“”

Corporate mismanagement...

Heedless risk-taking by Wall Street...

The greedy got wealthy and used that wealth to dismantle the government regulations that had been put into place after the last economic calamity. They bought the politicians and then they bought the regulators. And they did it with money they stole from you.

Don Brown
January 26, 2011

Jim DeMint Hates You



It used to be that Georgians thanked their lucky stars for Alabama and Mississippi. At least some State was more backwards than us. Now, we can add South Carolina to the list. It’s sad that the list is growing isn’t it? But between a Congressman that calls the President of the United States a liar in a joint session of Congress, to a Governor that goes “missing” and now, Jim DeMint...South Carolina has made the list.

Read it and weep “conservative” controllers.

Lawmakers propose five-year pay freeze, federal job cuts

”"The Spending Reduction Act begins the difficult task of shrinking the federal bureaucracy that threatens our future prosperity," DeMint said.”

”The proposal includes provisions to eliminate automatic pay increases for civilian employees for five years, cut the workforce by 15 percent through attrition and hire one new worker for every two who leave. The legislation also would collect unpaid taxes from federal workers, prohibit employees from conducting union business while on the job and cut the federal travel budget in half.

In recent weeks, lawmakers already have proposed banning union activities during work hours, cutting jobs, extending the two-year pay freeze for an additional year, and requiring two-week furloughs for federal employees.”


The voters in Ohio and New Jersey don’t get off the hook either.

”The 2011 Spending Reduction Act, unveiled on Thursday by Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.; and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; outlines $2.5 trillion in cuts by dropping current spending to fiscal 2008 levels and freezing budgets at fiscal 2006 levels for 10 years beginning Oct. 1.”

I saw Jim Jordan, speaking at The Heritage Foundation just the other day. I almost wrote a blog about it because I couldn’t believe my ears. Congressman Jordan is the Chair of the Republican Study Committee and this is a direct quote:

“RSC (Republican Study Committee) is really the Heritage Foundation.”

And he does mean that quite literally.

”It (the RSC) was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich and other conservative activists to keep a watch on the House Republican leadership...

Paul M. Weyrich...was an American conservative political activist and commentator, most notable as a figurehead of the New Right. He co-founded the Heritage Foundation,...

Good Lord, it’s like swatting flies. I’ll have to let Rep. Scott Garrett go. Rep. Mike Coffman too -- although he deserves a special mention. Back to DeMint.

This deserves a great, big ole Get the Flick ITYS.

From various Get the Flick posts.

”Sen. Jim DeMint and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford urged members of the Senate to reject President Obama's economic-stimulus bill, as DeMint introduced a rival measure with only tax cuts and no spending. “

”Once again, it appears Senator DeMint is disconnected from reality.”

”I chose the title because that is the goal of people like DeMint and Brownback -- a theocracy. You might want to dismiss them as crackpots but they are United States Senators.”

(When I say Senator DeMint hates you, I mean he hates you in the most Christian way. After all, he and Gov. Sanford are both members of The Family.)

You don’t have to believe me about him. You can check him out on Wikipedia. You’ll see his record is mighty thin. But you also might notice a few pertinent facts.

”He is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement.”

”-- Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
-- Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security (Ranking Member)”


”DeMint is ranked by The National Journal as one of the most conservative members of the Senate”

”DeMint opposes spending increases of the federal government..”

Let’s see a show of hands. How many controllers in South Carolina voted a five-year pay freeze for themselves? I bet your fellow workers will let you volunteer to be one of the 15% that get laid off. How many controllers in Colorado voted themselves a two-week furlough? Come on. Man up. Tell me how this is good for America.

Don Brown
January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Please



I won’t dwell on it but I sure hope this means we’ll see more Westerns.

‘The King’s Speech’ Tops Oscar Nominations

”In the morning’s biggest surprise, “True Grit,” a western remake from the filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, followed with 10 nominations, including best picture, best director for the Coens, and a best actor nomination for Jeff Bridges, who won the acting award last year for “Crazy Heart.”

“True Grit” has been an audience favorite since its release in late December but had barely registered in the panoply of pre-Oscar awards and was recognized not at all at the Golden Globes last week.”


It’s a really good flick. I’ve seen it twice already. You should see it at least once.

Don Brown
January 25, 2011

Substitute Blogger



Those of you that pay really close attention might have caught this post from one of the guys on my list of blogs (over on the right side) -- James Fallows.

Coming Soon: New Faces in This Space

”I am really excited by the prospect of introducing in a few days a highly varied squadron of guest bloggers, who will appear in week-long stints in teams of three or four. They'll start next Monday, in a first group that includes: a serving foreign ambassador in Beijing; an accomplished tech-world industrial designer; a pilot and writer whose work is already familiar here; and a teacher and essayist. In subsequent weeks we'll have scientists, people from startup companies, software designers, air traffic controllers, high school guidance counselors, "normal" bloggers, etc. The idea will be to have balanced representation of the main fields of human knowledge -- China, software, politics, beer, aviation, rhetoric, journalism, frogs, the greatness of China Daily, and so on -- and people from different parts of the world, different walks of life, etc. ”

(Emphasis added)

Yep. I’m afraid so. That would be me. I feel like I’m waiting to plug in at the LOGEN sector during the evening rush hour -- and I’m not checked out on that sector. Oh well. Fortunately, I have over a month to get the Flick. My substitution slot won’t start until the end of February (don’t worry, I’ll remind you) and I’ll use the time to “go to school” on the other guest bloggers.

Speaking of which, I’ve already fallen for one of this week’s guest bloggers -- John Tierney. (No offense to the other three, I just haven’t gotten there yet.)

After visiting his blog and watching one short video, I clicked on the tag “Corporate America” and it was off to the races. I immediately bookmarked the site.

I hope that it occurs to you that you too might find some new voices that you will enjoy in the next few weeks. Finding new blogs is a tedious and time-consuming process. I assure you, James Fallows will be an excellent “guide” through the blogosphere. Well, with the realization that nobody is perfect.

Don Brown
January 25, 2011

P.S. I’m getting there. I liked this one too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Are You Stupid?



I just finished reading a post from Ezra Klein -- including the comments section -- and I have to ask myself; Are people just stupid? Follow along.

What does it mean to be pro-labor when labor is in decline?

”Here's the puzzle: As you can see in the graph above, America has done a better job keeping GDP up than almost any other developed nation affected by the Great Recession. But it's done a far worse job keeping unemployment down. Why?”

Good point. And Mr. Klein does a decent job of searching for an answer. But let me ask a different question. Which is more important -- higher GDP or lower unemployment? I know what people who think they are sophisticated will say. They’ll expound on how important GDP is in providing decent jobs, national security and blah, blah, blah. Ask somebody that is unemployed how much they care about GDP and see what you get for an answer. And if you’re going down this mental path you are missing the real point.

The higher GDP hasn’t provided any jobs. Isn’t that the whole point of all this free-market complexity? Isn’t the point of our system of government and our capitalist economy to provide humans a better life? Isn’t that what the “Free Market” cheerleaders are selling you? That your life will be substantially better under this system?

Mr. Klein touches on the subtle message hidden inside all the propaganda you listen to in your daily lives.

”As labor loses ground, it becomes more reviled. People stop thinking about what a union could do for them and begin resenting what it's doing for others. You're seeing some of this with the anger at public-employee unions right now. How much of that anger is authentic and how much of it is because there are a lot of politicians and organizations that spend a lot of money and capital attacking labor is a difficult question, but it's not clear that the answer even matters.”

It’s not clear the answer matters? Excuse me? That’s only true if you keep asking the wrong question. You see “the wrong question” being answered over and over in Mr. Klein’s comments section. Unions protect the inefficient. Really? Stop asking yourself what is wrong with unions and ask yourself what is wrong with the corporations. That’s the right question.

Well? Anything? That’s right, the corporations are doing just fine. They’ve been getting rid of their unions. They’ve been outsourcing jobs -- your job -- to other countries that have even less regulation than we do. They’ve been really efficient at it too. They’ve also been very efficient at consolidating their power in your government. Who profits?

Joe Blow doesn’t. He lost his job. That means he doesn’t have any money to invest in the corporations so that he may enjoy all the “wealth” they are creating. He had already lost his pension when he was switched to a 401k. The 401k went south with the Great Recession. Then, whatever value he had in his house disappeared -- if not the house itself.

There are currently 14.5 million Americans unemployed. Something isn’t working for these people. Unions did not cause the Great Recession. Unions did not default on their pensions. Unions did not steal the value from their 401ks. Unions did not steal the value of these people’s homes. Unions are not foreclosing on their houses. Corporations did -- and are.

Unions -- the non-human entities -- have been declining for decades. Corporations -- the non-human entities -- have been thriving.

Union members -- the humans that are American citizens -- have been suffering declining wages, if not outright unemployment. Corporate executives -- the humans that are also American citizens -- have been thriving. Look at this article from back in 2007.

”Moreover, in the competitive global economy, it is the American executive remuneration that looks out of kilter. A study by the consulting firm Towers Perrin of top executive pay in 26 countries found that U.S. executives make an average of twice as much as their British, French and German counterparts and four times as much as the Japanese and Koreans.”

”The gap between the wealthy and the less affluent has gradually widened for decades, accelerating during the Bush presidency. Meanwhile, U.S. chief executive officers and chief financial officers now make 400-fold more than average workers; that gap is 20 times bigger than it was in 1965.”

This is nothing new. Bear in mind, that article was written before the Great Recession. You’ve got to ask yourself how the public narrative has changed from outrageous executive compensation to inflated union wages and benefits -- in the middle of a huge recession. Does that even make sense? We are laying off teachers left and right yet, somehow, our current fiscal problems are the teacher’s unions fault? It isn’t even logical. Are you stupid?

Yeah, I know the dream of Americans. Most of these people bashing unions believe that one day they’ll be a CEO. “I’ll be rich!” That’s about as unrealistic as the street kid playing ball dreaming he’ll be playing in the pros. Most of us are going to work for somebody else. A lot of us are going to work multi-national corporations.

The union model isn’t “broken” anymore that the corporation model is broken. They are simply out of balance. You really would have to be stupid to argue that corporations haven’t been good for America. Collectively, Americans are incredibly rich. Much of that is due to corporations. Although many struggle to acknowledge the fact, you would have to be just as stupid to argue unions haven’t been good for America. Unless you think child labor, 16-hour days, 6-day work weeks and no benefits are good for America.

The only entity that can correct this imbalance of power is government. If corporations gain control of the government, then there will be no balance. You can vote to restore a balance of power. Or not. And your wages will continue to decline. You’ll work more overtime -- except it won’t be “over”. It will just be time. In short, CEOs will keep making more and you’ll keep making less. Are you stupid? Or do you just think you’ll be one of those CEOs? You might want to think again.

Don Brown
January 24, 2011

GTF Salute



A Get the Flick salute to Air Traffic Controller Vincent Sugent for the 2010 Public Servant Award from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. (Citation here. A .pdf file.)

”Among other disclosures, Mr. Sugent’s allegations included that DTW managers directed the operation of an unsafe landing and departure configuration known as the Southwest Flow without ensuring appropriate
spacing between aircraft, did not respond truthfully when asked by Congress about the safety of the configuration, and knowingly repeated the operation months later.”


Vincent is the Facility Representative at DTW for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Don Brown
January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-23-11



Hey, I don’t schedule the show. I just take pictures of it.



© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 23, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-22-11



Yes.



© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

There are more on Facebook.

Don Brown
January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bankrupt Bandleader



You were warned. And here it comes.

A Path Is Sought for States to Escape Their Debt Burdens

”Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.”

If you think Federal workers won’t be far behind, you’re nuts. You’d better start fighting now, while you still have time. You need to take the time to read this article because you need to know who you’re up against.

”House Republicans, and Senators from both parties, have taken an interest in the issue, with nudging from bankruptcy lawyers and a former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, who could be a Republican presidential candidate.”

You don’t have to take The New York Times' word for it, you can get it from the silver-tongued devil himself.

”Former House Speaker and possible GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich is pushing for federal legislation giving financially strapped states the right to file for bankruptcy and renege on pension and other benefit promises made to state employees.”

Back to the NYT article:

”A few weeks later, David A. Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, published an article, “Give States a Way to Go Bankrupt,” in The Weekly Standard”.

Do you know who owns The Weekly Standard?

”The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation...”

...The Washington Examiner reports that the Examiner's parent company, the Anschutz-owned Clarity Media Group, has since purchased the Standard.


For those not keeping up, that’s Rupert Murdoch to Phillip Anschutz.

I had never heard of David A. Skeel. Imagine my surprise (not) when I found another paper of his at The American -- The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute. How many times do I have to warn you about these guys? When are you going to see that the Republican Party is actively working against your best interests? I think it is all against your country’s best interest.

How will we have a dynamic economy with uneducated workers? Do you really think we’ll be able to find good teachers without paying for benefits and a pension? Government employees never have been paid a high salary. Of course, now that the Republicans have managed to create the conditions where working people make less, the term “high salary” is relative.

Let’s check on relativity.

Goldman Pay Still Tops JPMorgan's as Bonus Season Begins

The four New York-based banks will spend a combined $84.4 billion, or an average of $141,192 apiece, on their 598,073 workers, according to financial reports released since Jan. 14.”

But here’s the important part that says it all.

”That figure is pulled down by the average at Citigroup -- $93,962 last year -- because the bank has 260,000 employees, many of them tellers, commercial bankers and transaction processors, who earn lower pay. Citigroup doesn’t break out pay for its investment-banking and trading division, where workers get multiples of what most retail banking employees receive.

(Emphasis added)

Everybody remembers Citigroup’s history, right?

”The remaining provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act – enacted following the Great Depression – forbade banks to merge with insurance underwriters, and meant Citigroup had between two and five years to divest any prohibited assets. However, Weill stated at the time of the merger that they believed "that over that time the legislation will change...we have had enough discussions to believe this will not be a problem". Indeed, the passing of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in November 1999 vindicated Reed and Weill's views, opening the door to financial services conglomerates offering a mix of commercial banking, investment banking, insurance underwriting and brokerage”

”Citigroup suffered huge losses during the global financial crisis of 2008 and was rescued in November 2008 in a massive bailout by the U.S. government.”

In case your don’t remember the three Republicans: Sen. Phil Gramm (R, Texas), Rep. Jim Leach (R, Iowa), and Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R, Virginia), the co-sponsors of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act.

It’s probably just a coincidence that Newt Gingrich was the Speaker of the House when that Bill was hatched and he’s the leader of the bankruptcy band now.

Don Brown
January 21, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Should I? Would You?



Timing is everything. Consider yesterday’s blog:

”I was doing some research (on political violence) the other day...”

”If intimidation is sophisticated, does that make it okay? Is there a difference if you’re wearing a Brooks Brothers suit instead of a white robe and hood?”

Consider the headline I just read, here at O’dark thirty:

Bomb Is Found in Backpack Before March Honoring King

Did you know I marched in the local MLK Day parade Monday? (Well, actually I drove, but you get the point.)

Should I feel intimidated? Would you?

Hmmm.

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people. Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and acts of the children of darkness, but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light."

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 27, 1965
Atlanta, Georgia


Don Brown
January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Well-Dressed Mob



I was doing some research (on political violence) the other day and ran across an old story that was just too good to pass up.

Miami 'Riot' Squad: Where Are They Now?

”As we begin the second Bush administration, let's take a moment to reflect upon one of the most historic episodes of the 2000 battle for the White House -- the now-legendary "Brooks Brothers Riot" at the Miami-Dade County polling headquarters.”

Remember that little scene? Where the mob appeared to be so angry that the crowd trying to count the “hanging chad” ballots was intimidated into stopping the count? Did that count as political violence? Or is their some kind of line you have to cross before we consider it morally wrong? Is it okay to make someone worry that they might be harmed? Can you shake your fist in someone’s face without intimidating them? Can you wave your gun in their face without intimidating them? Where do we draw the line?

I want you to mull over those questions for a little bit and then make sure you click this link. Because I want you to see the picture, see the faces attached to the names and then see where they wound up.

”Matt Schlapp, No. 6, a former House aide and then a Bush campaign aide, has risen to be White House political director.”

”No. 1. Tom Pyle, who had worked for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), went private sector a few months later, getting a job as director of federal affairs for Koch Industries”

”No. 9. Chuck Royal was and still is a legislative assistant to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a former House member.”

I hope my readers recognize some of those names. Delay. Koch. DeMint.

”Sources say the "rioters" proudly note their participation on résumés and in interviews.”

That’s right, they brag about the fact they participated in political intimidation in the form of a riot.

If intimidation is sophisticated, does that make it okay? Is there a difference if you’re wearing a Brooks Brothers suit instead of a white robe and hood?

Don Brown
January 18, 2010

Monday, January 17, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-17-10



The lake it still there. And I still show up. Most mornings anyway.


© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 17, 2011

MLK Day



I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Try not to be silent or indifferent.

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but the appalling silence and indifference of the good people. Our generation will have to repent not only for the words and acts of the children of darkness, but also for the fears and apathy of the children of light."

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
January 27, 1965
Atlanta, Georgia


That was an interesting night.

Don Brown
January 17, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rush-Limbaugh Funny



I’ve come to realize how much the Republican Party depends on email to sell it’s message. Much of it is “funny” -- if you consider Rush Limbaugh funny. When I had friends tell me that they listened to Rush because he was funny, I couldn’t ever quite understand it. Ditto with Glenn Beck. People would tell me they listened for the “entertainment” value. Like Rush, I would listen to Glenn Beck on occasion just to see if I could understand what others saw in him.

As far as I can tell, they are both demagogues without any socially redeeming values. The last time I listened to Beck was right before Barack Obama became President. He was preparing his audience for the race riots “that were sure to happen” if Obama lost.

Anyway, here’s a video that’s going around the internet. As the title says, it’s “funny”. Or not.



I do see the sophomoric humor. I also see the political message. What I find so interesting? I never see these kind of things from Democrats -- even though I am one. I feel certain these types of things are out there. I just never get them sent to me in an email or otherwise.

Was there a video of Nancy Pelosi bludgeoning Dennis Hastert when he handed over the gavel? Do you even remember Speaker Hastert? I guess that means he wasn’t demonized the way that Nancy Pelosi was, huh? And that is what the video (and things like it) are all about. You might think they’re cute. But the guy that took the time to “photoshop” the video was sending a political message. And he wasn’t doing it to be funny.

Did someone mention political violence? “That doesn’t promote violence, it’s just humor.” Keep telling yourself that.

Don Brown
January 16, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Page Two



This is a serious case of information overload. You have to click the links for it to make sense.

If you kept reading after Just One Page, you might want to check out this article I found in The New York Times about John D. (Jerry) Hawke Jr. -- Comptroller of the Currency. When the regulated (the banksters) got to shop around for a regulator (OCC or OTS), Mr. Hawke advertised that he would be the easiest regulator around.

Hindsight might be 20-20 but a few folks had pretty good foresight -- including Senator Sarbanes.

”But, in the last few weeks, Mr. Hawke's appointment as Comptroller of the Currency stalled. Over the objections of some members of the Senate Banking Committee, the Clinton Administration yesterday gave Mr. Hawke a temporary, or one-year, ''recess'' appointment to that post. ”

”...lead by Paul S. Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, put a hold on Mr. Hawke's confirmation, delaying it until the next Congress.”

”Some Democratic senators objected to positions Mr. Hawke took on consumer banking issues that the Democrats felt were made only to placate Republicans. ”

”To the senators involved, the delay was not over Mr. Hawke's credentials, but his policies. ''Jerry Hawke knows his banking law,'' Mr. Sarbanes said, using Mr. Hawke's nickname. ''But the question is to what purpose will he put that knowledge to work?''”

”Mr. Hawke has shaped the nation's banking system with his free-market attitudes and legal work on behalf of bank clients that broke down regulatory barriers in court while Congress dithered on the issue.”

”For the next three decades, except for three years in the late 1970's when he was the Fed's general counsel, Mr. Hawke spent his career largely suing the Government. With regulators and Congress often reluctant to deregulate banking, aggressive financial institutions relied on lawyers like Mr. Hawke to outfox the law.”

In other words, the fox was put in charge of guarding the hen house and a Democrat -- Bill Clinton -- did it. Remember when the Republicans screamed that Clinton was a Communist, Socialist Liberal? It’s pretty much what they are screaming about Obama now.

And if you think Obama is a liberal, you need to look a lot closer. Or just read up on Larry Summers. Speaking of whom, Mr. Summers will be the guest on GPS with Fareed Zakaria this Sunday. You might want to watch this one.

I must say, once again, The New York Times is a great newspaper.

Don Brown
January 15, 2011

Just One Page



I no idea why this book is on Google Books but it is.

If you can’t find the time to read a book, or a 10-page article, or watch an hour long program that will explain what happened...just read this one page.

All the Devils Are Here

Just One Page

Click on it. Read it. Remember it the next time someone tells you we need to deregulate something, that politics doesn’t matter or that money doesn’t buy power.

”The Problem,” says one former regulator, “is that they were all making too much money.”

Don Brown
January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-14-11



Boredom inspires creativity. At least for me.

It’s been a bit cold down here in Georgia recently. It was 14º (-10ºC) when I took this.



© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 14, 2011

Property Tax

In line with yesterday’s twist on taxes, James Fallows pointed us towards an interesting article in the Atlantic. Here’s just one graphic from a page full of educational graphics.



How would the average homeowner react if the Federal government sent them a $36,200 tax bill for their house? That’s right, there really would be a revolution. Think about how much that little bit of deregulation-free-market-magical-thinking cost you.

Instead of listening to these fools talk of picking up a gun -- pick up a newspaper, a magazine or a book. Read. Pick up the Atlantic. Read this article. Learn. Think. Vote.

By the way, the article I was reading on James’ blog was; The Small-Plane Non-Menace (updated)

You never know what you might learn, even if you only take the time to read about what interests you. It helps if you click on the links. Look right. You’ll see a link to James Fallows’ blog. It’s there for a reason.

Don Brown
January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Worst Tax of All



Everybody likes to complain about taxes. America was founded on tax complaints -- “No taxation without representation”. The Republican Party has turned it into an art form. It is the central pillar of their platform. Americans are taxed too much and it only goes to a wasteful government anyway. Free enterprise -- “The Market” -- can do anything better than the government can. Except defense. If only it were all true.

I’ve already showed you that America has some of the lowest taxes in the world. But I left one tax out of the equation. I don’t know why. It should have been obvious. After all it is worst -- the highest -- tax of all. This tax is truly outrageous. It is four times higher than all Federal taxes combined.

Read it and weep.

During FY 2009, the federal government collected approximately $2.1 trillion in tax revenue.

That’s a lot of money the Federal government has taken out of our pockets. Hard-earned money for most Americans. Does it make you angry? Then you ought to be downright livid about this “tax”.

The Greatest Tax of All

”Total home equity in the United States, which was valued at $13 trillion at its peak in 2006, had dropped to $8.8 trillion by mid-2008 and was still falling in late 2008. Total retirement assets, Americans' second-largest household asset, dropped by 22 percent, from $10.3 trillion in 2006 to $8 trillion in mid-2008. During the same period, savings and investment assets (apart from retirement savings) lost $1.2 trillion and pension assets lost $1.3 trillion. Taken together, these losses total a staggering $8.3 trillion.”

Okay, I was off by $0.1 trillion. What’s $100 billion among countrymen? ($333.33 per American but who’s counting?) The entire Federal tax bill added up to $2.1 trillion for a year but the banksters “taxed” you $8.3 trillion. So it was over a period of two years. They still aren’t done and, besides, you get the point. What’s really sad is that they were supposed to be earning money for you -- for your retirement plan or college fund -- not losing it. Certainly not stealing it.

What’s that? You feel cheated by my literary trick? How about their financial trick? That cost us $8.3 trillion (and I bet it was more than that.) If you want to feel cheated, feel cheated about that. Speaking of which, where’s The Law? Anybody seen the sheriff? Where’s a cop when you need one?

Oh, that’s right. The banksters told us we didn’t need one. “Who us? We don’t need no stinking regulators. Trust us. “The Market” will regulate itself.”

Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation

”“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,” he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.”

Don’t you dare let anyone say nobody saw this coming.

”As far back as 1994, Mr. Greenspan staunchly and successfully opposed tougher regulation on derivatives.”

The people that wanted to regulate them saw the danger.

Hopefully, some talented writer will find some way to make this idea “sing”. Somebody will find a way to translate it to where the masses understand and are motivated. Because the only thing I can think to call it is a Stupidity Tax. Our stupidity. An $8.3 trillion dollar tax on our greed and stupidity. And that is certainly no way to “sell it”.

We’ve been penny wise and pound foolish. We let private forces dismantle a regulatory structure that had protected us well since the Great Depression -- the last time we learned that it was costly to get greedy and stupid.

The truth is, we could have afforded the taxes that paid the regulators. We could have paid decent salaries to our Congressional Representatives instead beggaring them into near homelessness -- or graft. It would have been cheap to pay top-notch people a good salary to look after our interests. Compared with being foolish.

Instead, we chose to believe the Hucksters. The Enchantress. The Jester seems wise because we’ve been listening to a Fool. We’ve been stupid. The truth hurts.

Don Brown
January 13, 2011

Salesmen Haven’t Changed



I found this cruising the internets...

Airbus said Jan. 4 that the new company "will become the channel through which Airbus will interact and develop ATM programmes such as 'Single European Sky ATM Research' (SESAR) in Europe, as well as NextGen in the US. In particular, for these two ATM programmes, the new company will help accelerate and support the process of their implementation, and link them together by capitalising on the technological, operational and commercial synergies."

Sounds like modern-day snake oil to me. It’s been my experience that gobbledygook always is.

Don Brown
January 13, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Read the Strangest Things



Seriously, why would anybody -- not in the mental health business -- read this?

Ronald Reagan and the Commitment of the Mentally Ill: Capital, Interest Groups, and the Eclipse of Social Policy

It’s amazing where you find things about air traffic control.

”After taking office in 1981, the administration set out on a course to alter the (relatively) labor sensitive political economy to be more business friendly. Reagan appointed anti-union officials to the National Labor Relations Board, "implicitly [granting] employers permission to revive long shunned anti-union practices: decertifying unions, outsourcing production, and hiring permanent replacements for striking workers" (102). Reagan himself pursued such a policy when he fired eleven thousand striking air traffic controllers in 1981.”

This is the Republican hero we’re talking about here.

”Regulations designed to protect the environment, worker safety, and consumer rights were summarily decried as unnecessary government meddling in the marketplace (Abramovitz, 1992; Barlett and Steele, 1996). Programs designed to help the poor were also characterized as "big government," and the people who utilized such programs were often stigmatized as lazy or even criminal. With the help of both political parties, the administration drastically cut social welfare spending and the budgets of many regulatory agencies.”

Keep in mind that this is all just background before he gets into the problems with our mental health system. But it’s pretty damning. Mostly, because it’s accurate.

”Thus, to effect a change in the political economy, Reagan was able to win major concessions regarding social policy that continue today. By taking away the safety net, the working class was effectively neutralized: workers no longer had the freedom to strike against their employers or depend upon the social welfare system as a means of living until finding employment. Business was thus free to lower wages, benefits, and the length of contracts. The overall result was that the average income for the average American dropped even as the average number of hours at work increased (Barlett and Steele, 1996; Schor, 1992).”

All that so millionaires and billionaires could rob the American Public blind. Don’t forget, I’m reading the book All the Devils Are Here. The word “rob” is getting easier and easier to use.

From the book: ”The reality was you were screwing people again and again and again,” Bob says.

“Bob” worked for Ameriquest. You remember them, right? And The Money Store. And Washington Mutual? It’s a convoluted story, but Wall Street was taking these sub-prime mortgages, slicing and dicing them into triple-B-minus securities and then -- by magic -- converting those securities into triple-A-rated CDOs. That was important because your pension fund couldn’t buy anything that wasn’t rated triple-A. Yeah, the ratings agencies were in on it too.

It took years to put it all together. It wasn’t a grand plan. It was a process. A process enabled by demonizing workers, the poor and a government that worked for people instead of corporations controlled by crooks. Well, “The Market” was freed from the asylum. The U.S. government was made “business friendly”. (Like it wasn’t before?) How did that work out?

Home values plummet $500 billion

American homeowners will have lost nearly $500 billion in home value by year's end. (2009)

Still, that's a big improvement over 2008, when values fell by $3.6 trillion...


That’s how it worked out.

Don Brown
January 12, 2011

“Dee Two, Dee One”



Do you know the line from the Jimmy Buffet song that goes...

Where are the flashbacks they all warned us would come?

I found my flashbacks. They’re here.



For the non-controllers, click on the link to read about the infamous “non-radar screen” at the FAA’s air traffic control academy. I -- and a few thousand others -- were survivors of the course. Calling it a “course” is a bit of a misnomer. It was a survival test. A “screen”. You didn’t learn much air traffic control. You learned what your brain was capable of doing. You (and the FAA) learned whether or not you had the ability to see airplanes in your head -- literally, whether or not you had the ability to get the Flick.

I might have to steal somebody’s Windoze machine just to check this thing out.

Don Brown
January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I See I’m Not the Only One



With a memory.

Earth-bound Misfit.

Me.

Don Brown
January 11, 2011

Right-Wing Rhetoric



The bandwagon has already started rolling. All aboard.

Near as I can tell, Jared Lee Loughner was just plain nuts. Personally, I’d use this tragedy to discuss the public policy of Deinstitutionalisation. But like so much of public policy, it would put most people to sleep. However, if you’re like me and you remember a time when it didn’t seem like the streets were full of crazy people -- not to mention our jails -- you might be interested to find out what happened.

Existing patients were often discharged without sufficient preparation or support. A greater proportion of people with mental disorders became homeless or went to prison.

But no, people want to talk rhetoric. I am happy to oblige. The first stop on this Crazy Train involves my old buddy Newt. “Propaganda” is a word I use increasingly here at Get the Flick so you can imagine how my cursor flew to this link .

”This example occurred more than ten years ago, but it is one of the most striking applications of propaganda techniques in recent memory. A popular Republican politician on his way to the top, Newt Gingrich clearly understood the power of propaganda. His political action committee (GOPAC) mailed a pamphlet entitled Language, A Key Mechanism of Control to Republicans across the country. The booklet offered rhetorical advice to Republican candidates who wanted to "speak like Newt." It was subsequently awarded a Doublespeak Award by the National Conference of Teachers of English in 1990.”

(Note: I believe this to be an error. According to Wikipedia, Newt “won” the award in 1995. And 1997. If you like that link, you might like this one too.)

Be sure to click on the link entitled Newt's name-calling words. The following (my use of Newt’s guidelines) will make a lot more sense.

The Republican’s quest for compassion on their use of outrageous rhetoric betrays their deepest fears. They fear that their attempt at corrosive coercion will collapse upon itself and they will suffer the consequences of their actions -- actions rooted in corruption. This will leave their Party in crisis, revealing the moral decay that runs deeper -- and is more destructive -- than most Americans realize. It will devour them.

Unfortunately for America, this endangers us all. The Republican Party’s failure to rein in their corporate sponsor’s greed brought us the greatest calamity since the Great Depression. Their hypocrisy has been laid bare for all the world to see. Their ideological bankruptcy has imposed a greater burden on the American Public than any tax possibly could. They are simply too incompetent to govern and their incompetence has left Americans feeling more insecure than in any time during the last three generations. Newt’s crusade to make the word “Liberal” a pejorative has exposed his lie.

The Right’s failure to place any limits on their talk radio troglodytes shows just how pathetic these people really are. They defend this permissive attitude by raising the banner of free speech but never accept the responsibility that right demands of all decent people. All in order to ram their radical and self-serving agenda down the throats of trusting Americans. These self-serving sensationalists crawled out of the shallow end of the radio gene pool during the mid-1980’s and proceeded to inflict their sickness on all of America. At first we thought they were harmless. Some people even found them amusing -- if not funny. Few, if any, felt threatened by them. Hardly anyone would call them traitors. At least back then.

But soon enough, with the consolidation of radio stations, they became a powerful force -- choking out the diversity of opinion so precious to all real Americans. With increasing corporate control, they became the very Big Brother they told you they were fighting. They turned the world upside down with the power of their propaganda -- instilling in a America a fear of unionized bureaucracy while they created their corporate monopolies behind the scenes. They never met a merger they didn’t like on their urgent quest to create a media empire loud enough to drown out all free thought while they created their too-big-to-fail banks.

They have laid waste to America. And if you ever doubt the power of their perverted persuasion, just remember it all started with an actor -- Ronald Reagan.

It that how it’s done, Newt?

You know, it’s amazingly easy to write this stuff when you don’t have to add any links, do any research, quote any considered opinions or provide any facts. It doesn’t even matter if any of it sticks -- if you can amplify it loud enough to where it can’t be ignored.

”For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” — Adolf Hitler

I hope y’all will keep in mind that this guy insecure, ideological incompetent wants to be the next President of the United States.

Don Brown
January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

In Case You Missed Friday’s Trash



No surprises here. We’re used to the lies, exaggerations and distortions here at Get the Flick.

FAA's Lockheed Equipment Upgrade to Cost $330 Million More as Flaws Found

”We ran into some operational challenges,” Huerta said. “

Does anybody out there need me to tell you this guy works for the FAA? It’s not even a “challenge” to figure that out is it?

”Controllers worked with the agency to resolve flaws and no more delays or cost increases are expected, he said. The upgrade is working in Salt Lake City, where it was re-activated in October, and Seattle, where it has operated since November, Huerta said.”

Did you ever notice how they “partner up” with controllers whenever they have to admit to a “challenge”?

Confused by the title? The West Wing may qualify as the greatest prime-time TV show of all time. Entertaining and educational. A 47-second explanation is here.

Yes, it is deja vu all over again. (Yes, I know it’s a Yogiism.)

Don Brown
January 10, 2011

Repeat After Me



It’s 2011 now.

It’s 2011.
It’s 2011.
It’s 2011.

Don Brown
January 10, 2011

No Place But It Fits



I found this while I was writing the previous entry but couldn’t find a place to put it.

”In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” -- Confucius

I think it fits.

Don Brown
January 19, 2011

The Golden Calf



Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves.

I might as well confess now, I’m reading All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean. I’m not even halfway through it. It’s ugly. Even worse (for me), is that I’m currently reading how much of the blame for our current financial crisis can be laid at the feet of Democrats.

The basic story hasn’t changed much. Men are greedy. The people that warn of the danger are a pain. Men need to idolize something. The people that warn of that danger are even bigger pains. Laissez les bons temps rouler. There were some good times. And let them roll we did. But the day of reckoning is upon us.

I hope all the religious references and language makes you uncomfortable. That is my intent. For what I find in all my readings is...well...as old as sin. I am struck by our callousness towards the poor. The flip side of this is the idolatry of the rich. I want you to think about a simple truth you can discern in today’s world without any help from me, the media or any book.

Who did the sub-prime mortgages target? That’s right, they didn’t target the rich. As a matter of fact, they were designed by the rich to target the poor.

Likewise, think about China. What is making China rich? How is it that China has become the banker of the world? They’ve done it by harnessing the power of a billion peasants, i.e. poor people. Ditto India. In sweatshops. By the way, that’s an English term -- sweatshop. We’ve been down this road before. Back when a “contractor” had a more appropriate name -- sweater.

I see this on a micro level also. My wife runs a charity that helps pay the utility bills of the poor. She once made a comment about how much some of the bills were. Some are more than what we pay to heat our big, suburban home. It got me to thinkin’...

What causes a heating bill to be so high? Inefficient heating and lack of insulation. That pretty well describes most rental houses. How can we solve this problem? Well, poor people can’t afford to insulate their home. Besides, it’s not even their home. It’s a rental. So I guess the landlord needs to insulate it. But why should he? That’s a lot of money to invest. What’s in it for him? He doesn’t pay the heating bill. The tenants do. So the house remains uninsulated.

That’s the cold logic of “The Market”. That is naked capitalism. But we take it a step further. We demonize the solution and profit from the non-solution.

The obvious solution is to require a certain level of insulation in the building codes. In other words, regulation. The government needs to “meddle” in “The Market”. The local government needs to generate some “red tape”. Okay, we can’t win that battle of words so we “incentivize” (anytime you see a word like that created you know it isn’t to help poor people) the process. Oh, wait a minute. That “expands” government spending so it must be bad too. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

”“It’s just more of the same kind of wasteful spending that we have seen in the past,” said U.S. Rep. John Boehner, (R-Ohio), Jan. 15, on PBS NewsHour.”

So the poor stay poor. And they continue to enrich the wealthy. Skeptical are you? Hyperbole you say?

Where does the money the poor pay for utilities go? Natural gas, propane or electricity?

AGL is paying 44¢ a share.
APU is paying 71¢ a share.
SO is paying 46¢ a share.

And just in case I didn’t make the point, we extract the wealth from the poor’s labor just a surely as we extract coal from the Earth.

Most of you (who aren’t poor, by the way) have no idea who these companies are until you click on the links. Do you think any of the folks standing in line at a charity own any shares in them? These stocks are called “widows and orphans” stock. Isn’t that cute? Notice it doesn’t say “rich widows and orphans” stock. But labeling it “widows and orphans” somehow makes it feel charitable doesn’t it? Language is such a funny thing -- especially in the hands of those that are trying to “sell” you something.

The reason I know about those stocks is because I’m looking for some place to put my money. Somebody said something about a golden calf.



Maybe some guy will show up with a few regulations to set us straight soon.



Don Brown
January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-9-10



You know how you use to send a postcard to people from where you were on vacation and you got back from vacation before the card did? If you do, that just means you’re old.

I’m old too. I forgot to send a postcard. And I’m already back.

The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful....


© Don Brown 2011 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 9, 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

Bloomberg for Administrator



He’d fit right in. You don’t believe the predictions. You fail to plan. You even fail to implement the old plan.

It’s got to be the worker’s fault.

Check it out at Just an Earth-Bound Misfit, I.

Those no-count, lazy government workers. They’re probably union thugs to boot.

Don Brown
January 3, 2010

“They” Have Names



They are coming to get you. Even The New York Times says so.

Public Workers Face Outrage as Budget Crises Grow

”Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable, as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city and town budgets, and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy. In California, New York, Michigan and New Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture historically tends to be pro-labor, even longtime liberal political leaders have demanded concessions — wage freezes, benefit cuts and tougher work rules.”

If you think that unions somehow deserve this -- or worse, that their members do -- you’ve fallen for the propaganda. What propaganda? Come on folks, anyone that has read my blog for any length of time will tell you that I’m not a political genius. And if I can warn you about a trend six months before the story hits The New York Times, you’ve got to understand that somebody is selling it.

”I’ve been hearing these noises from some of my conservative pilot friends for months so I knew the right-wing think tank echo machine was ginning up the issue. When I pointed out that I was one of those lazy, no count, union-member-public-employees I was assured they weren’t talking about me. They were talking about those lousy local and State government employees. Yeah. Right. Sure they are.”

I even told you who was selling it.

”It makes you wonder if that isn’t the reason some have chosen this moment in time to vilify government employees. (Be sure to notice the quote from Cato -- the libertarian side of the conservative think tank triumvirate.)”

Now, remember boys and girls, it was less than a week ago that I was pointing out that the Koch brothers baked the Cato pie and they cooked up The Reason Foundation (“Let’s privatize ATC”) while they were at at it. And don’t let the “state and local” qualifier fool you. They are coming after all unions and all government employees -- even the Federal ones.

”"You're going to see the same things that happened at the state level happening at the federal level," said Paul Posner, a former Government Accountability Office official who teaches at George Mason University.”

”"There's going to be a lot more oversight of the cost of federal employees," said Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation think tank, which has been a leading critic of federal pay practices.”

Cato, George Mason, Heritage, American Enterprise Institute, Reason -- “they” have names.


Don Brown
January 3, 2010

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Buy Boeing



Here’s a really interesting article on the horse trading that goes on in buying airliners, from The New York Times.

Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market

Among the numerous items you’ll want to think about as you read through the article....a name:

”The United States economy, said Robert D. Hormats, under secretary for economic affairs at the State Department,...”

”“That is the reality of the 21st century; governments are playing a greater role in supporting their companies, and we need to do the same thing,” Mr. Hormats, a former top executive at Goldman Sachs, said in an interview.”

It’s amazing how often Goldman Sachs shows up in our government. Almost as much as Lockheed. Or Boeing.

”To a greater degree than previously known, diplomats are a big part of the sales force, according to hundreds of cables released by WikiLeaks, which describe politicking and cajoling at the highest levels.”

I knew I should have searched through the WikiLeaks cables for the FAA. I figured they would be a lower priority to most other folks so that most of the media wouldn’t get around to them for awhile. It looks like the FAA was a little higher up than I thought. And it’s about one of my pet subjects too.

”Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheik Hasina Wazed, was equally direct in making a connection for the landing rights at Kennedy Airport, as a condition of the airplane deal, which was then at risk of collapsing.”

As I’ve pointed out before, landing slots are big money. And the ability to dole them out holds great power.

And speaking of pet subjects, how’s this one?

”But he went on to say that authorizing the F.A.A. to help Turkey improve its aviation safety and space exportation programs could benefit both nations.”

Like I said, it’s an interesting article. You’ll want to read all of it.

Don Brown
January 2, 2010

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Today’s Photo 1-1-11



For everyone that “slept in” this morning and missed it, I’ve got you covered. Happy New Year. Thanks for reading Get the Flick.



© Don Brown 2010 (Click on the picture to enlarge)

Don Brown
January 1, 2011