Hmn. 4th Amendment anyone?

I’m sure many of you are going to tell me this guy should just shut up and say that he’s an American citizen but you know what? He doesn’t have to.

This is all part of what the ACLU calls the ‘constitution free zone’. What is now allowed is that within 100 miles of any US border, federal agents are allowed to stop your car and question you about your citizenship. This was started in a 1976 case called US vs. Martinez-Fuerte. And then further expanded under the Bush White House after 9/11. Please read the ACLU release on the subject (highlights).

Now I know you are saying : “big deal, this doesn’t apply to me”. But guess what? It does. 100 miles of the US border includes New York City, Philadelphia, DC, Los Angeles, etc.. It covers 2/3 of the US population!

Had I known about this when Bush was in office I would have been outraged that he was expanding something that essentially was infringing the Constitutional rights of . I would have posted it, upped my usual donation to the ACLU (which I just did) and moved on. Maybe I would have complained about how crazy it is that our president was trampling on the Constitution once again and said something like “I can’t wait till that neo fascist was out of office”

Guess what? He is out of office. And guess who replaced him? My old buddy and the man I want out of office next : President Barack Obama.

I haven’t had the time to write my huge opus about how he is trampling on our rights by expanding the Patriot act but this alone should give you an idea of the man currently in office. Instead of attempting to repeal this, he is expanding programs like this. (yes I will substantiate this in a later post but if you do some digging you will see what I’m talking about).

I campaigned and voted for this man. I donated money to his campaign (more than anyone previous) and made phone calls on his behalf. I did that because I thought he was going to stand up for our Constitution and roll back some of the things that GWB did. But he has let me down. He has let you down. He has let our country down. In November, Vote him out of office!!

If the president wants you dead, you’re dead.

“‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.” – Eric Holder, March 5.

Lets just start right here. This speech (please read it) reminds me about everything I hated about the Bush White House. Remember John Yoo? He was the attorney in the Bush White House who came up with some insane legal arguments that allowed waterboarding. Remember the ‘Torture Memos‘? Holder has taken it a bit farther by aiding and abetting murder.

What he is talking about in his speech is the new executive privilege and law that allows Barack (and any future president) to decree you as a terrorist and have you (and anyone near you) blown to bits by a drone or a hit squad. This can happen overseas or here on American soil. This can even happen to American citizens too. The same ones who are ostensibly protected by the 5th Amendment. Remember that one? Here’s the relevant text : “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”

Holders argument is that the president and his ‘death panel’ deciding you are a terrorist is due process.

Are you kidding me?

Ok.. don’t take my word for it. I want you to read this wonderful piece by Glenn Greenwald which, among other things, goes over the hypocrisy of Democrats to go along with this nonsense. He brings up a wonderful point about how we were up in arms (I sure was) when Bush tried to illegally wiretap ‘terrorists’ without court oversight. Barak is now killing them! The most amazing part of that article? Barack Obama himself spoke out against this kind of stuff when he was in the senate! (Please read this article. It sums up my point way better than I ever could hope to).

Plain and simple. I will not support a president who has decided that he is able to actively kill Americans without any judicial oversight. And you shouldn’t either!

 

Why we have to get Barack Obama out of office! (and no I’m not a Right Wing nutjob)

Think back to 2008 when you were so up in arms at the atrocities of the Bush White House. Remember how villainous Dick Chaney and Condalizza Rice were to you at the time. Remember how you were dying for the day that Barack Obama took over and restored the country?

Well, he didn’t. He actually continued many of the Bush era policies. In addition he added a few insane policies of his own. Essentially,  he’s doing the exact same things only with more gusto. Civil Rights being trampled on? Check. War Mongering? Check. Keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich? Check. Keep Guantanamo open? Check… But yet, you my fellow left leaning friends are pretending that it’s no big deal since its so important to keep a democrat in office. You say something along the lines of “Well, we can’t have Romney, he will be a lot worse!!”.

Um no. Voting for Barack Obama is essentially a vote that says “I’m ok with this country being destroyed from the inside out as long as its being done by my guy”. Your party allegiance should not preclude you from looking at the facts. As a voter you are supposed to think about your country first, not your party. In fact, I would argue that parties are simply a way for the ruling elites to keep us from actually looking at the issues. By keeping us fighting back and forth over imaginary issues we are effectivly being neutralized as agents of change. Parties are so 20th century.

Remember Change? Yea, that’s why we voted for Obama in the first place. But if you look at what he has done you will see that he hasn’t changed much of anything (and please lets not get into a debate about the Monumental Health Care Triumph). I don’t like Mitt Romney the candidate any more than you and he ultimately may prove worse than Obama but guess what.. He may be better. We won’t know unless we put him in office. At this rate, any unknown quantity is better than keeping Barack Obama in office. His administration is systematically removing your rights as an American citizen. His administration is co-opted by a financial industry that is destroying our economy and our way of life. His administration is literally killing American citizens without due process!

Over the next few months I’m going to try to post every other week on a specific reason why I am upset with the Obama White House and why I will be not only not voting for him, but voting for my old pal Mitt so as to help get Obama out of office. Please stay tuned and feel free to comment since I love debate.

The financial criminals benefit from you choosing to not understand what is happening.

I love Matt Taibbi. For those of you who never heard of him, he’s a political writer for Rolling Stone and he’s been focusing mostly on the financial sector for the past few years (wall street, mortgage crisis, crooked bankers, etc). I like him cause he really seems to be the kind of person that doesn’t care what people think when he writes. He is pissed and it shows in his incredibly researched and detailed articles.

Yes, for the most part the public is of the belief that financial news is boring but he writes about it anyway. Somebody needs to and he does it quite well.

No article he has ever written does it better than the one in the current issue of RS (1160). The article is called “The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia” and I urge you to give it 30 minutes of your time. It is an amazing read about something that is esoteric and yet totally accessible. It’s about bond interest rates.

Before you complain, let me explain. This article talks about a specific case where the feds went after and won a case against 3 traders who were caught participating in a fraud to fix interest rates on big municipal bond deals. The technicalities are not important here. What is important is how these guys were ripping off cities around the country and then using their profits to go on trips to Las Vegas and such. These kinds of guys are those douchie rich guys in the bar that you hate and you wonder : What makes them so special that they deserve to be so rich? Well guess what? It’s not due to skill or brains, it’s due to a willingness to rip people off.

As I read this I was just so mad at these fuckers. And these are just the 3 that the government went after. There are hundreds more and there are many more even bigger executives that are part of this fraud as well. It’s sickening. There is even a connection to Bill Richardson who I thought was a good guy when he was running for president:

Even more startling was the way that a notorious incident involving former New Mexico governor and presidential candidate Bill Richardson resurfaced during the trial. Barack Obama, you may recall, had nominated Richardson to be commerce secretary – only to have the move blow up in his face when tales of Richardson accepting bribes began to make the rounds. Federal prosecutors never brought a case against Richardson: In 2009, an inside source told the AP that the investigation had been “killed in Washington.” Obama himself, after Richardson bowed out, praised the former governor as an “outstanding public servant.”

Now, in the Carollo trial, defense counsel got Doug Goldberg, the CDR broker, to admit that his boss, Stewart Wolmark, had handed him an envelope containing a check for $25,000. The check was payable to none other than Moving America Forward – Bill Richardson’s political action committee. Goldberg then went to a Richardson fundraiser and handed the politician the envelope. Richardson, pleased, told Goldberg, “Tell the big guy I’m going to hire you guys.”

Goldberg admitted on the stand that he understood “the big guy” to mean Wolmark. After that came this amazing testimony:

Q: Soon after that, New Mexico hired CDR as its swap and GIC adviser on a $400 million deal, right?
A: Yes.
Q: You learned later that that check in that envelope was a check for $25,000, right?
A: Yes. I learned it later.
Q: You also learned later that CDR gave another $75,000 to Gov. Richardson, right?
A: Yes.
Q: CDR ended up making about a million dollars on this deal for those two checks?
A: Yes.
Q: In fact, New Mexico not only hired CDR, they hired another firm to do the actual work that they needed done?
A: For the fixed-income stuff, yes.

What we get from this is that CDR paid Bill Richardson $100,000 in contributions and got $1.5 million in public money in return. And not just $1.5 million, but $1.5 million for work they didn’t even do – the state still had to hire another firm to do the actual job. Nice non-work, if you can get it.

In case you are still skeptical about the complex subject, I will explain it to you here : Cities borrow money to build bridges and hospitals and rec centers. When they make the loan they usually get the whole amount at once (say $25M) and they pay construction guys and other vendors out of that account as they go on with the project. What this means is that for the duration of the project, the majority of that $25M is sitting in some bank so to make some money with it, the cities can lend it out to borrowers and charge a fair interest rate for it. This is where these guys ripped off the cities. There is supposed to be a public bid from borrowers on that rate (say a fair rate is 5.00%) but these guys fixed the auction to maybe only give 4.95%. That .05% on $25M is real money. Multiply that by 100s of deals a year and you have a motive to keep ripping off the cities.

This is a great read and it is representative of what is really going on in this country. The sad part is that this isn’t capitalism. The heart of capitalism is the free market. Without that, we have nothing and colluding on a price at auction is exactly what we don’t want but yet it is everywhere.

um. yea, it’s hot.

Clearly this is not sustainable.

On June 25 (12 days ago) it was 88 degrees. This was a wonderful day since the 4 days before that were at least 10 degrees higher. I decided on this day to see how healthy my a/c was since it had been running constantly for pretty much the past week even though I only had it set to 78.

I turned it to 70 and let it run all day. My thought was, now that it’s ‘cool’ outside I would get my house temperature down. There is really no science or art involved in this a/c control situation. I have many theories and questions about how to get the most efficiency from my system.

Some include (but are not limited to):

– If the system runs for a while, should I turn it off to let it recover? Maybe running it constantly is reducing the efficiency
– Is there a way to get the furniture and items in the house to some ambient temperature that helps the efficiency of the system?
– Should scheduling usage be a good idea? Or should I just pick a temp and let it roll? Maybe when I’m at work I should turn it off completely? But then when I come home it will have to work so much harder to get the house down to a good temp again.. Maybe I should just turn the temp up a couple of degrees?
– Does the system work harder over different temp ranges? eg. is it harder to take a house from 74-72 or harder to go from 78-74 (when the temp outside is constant)
– Of course there are various configurations of the many registers in my house. And doors are open and closed in certain ways so as to ‘keep’ cool air in certain rooms but let the return get some cool air into the system.

But, overall I’ve no idea what I am doing.

So, anyway, I let it run constantly for almost 2 days straight. It turns out that by the 26th when the temp was 84 degrees I was able to get my house to 74. The system never turned off.

So, today its well over 100. Last night the low was in the 90s. For a week now my central air system has been running. I have the temp turned to 78 and with constant use it is holding steady there. Note that every register in the house is closed except the ones in my bedroom since this is where the thermostat is. The rest of the house is a nice 80-85.

I really don’t care about the temp as much as the fact that listening to this thing running constantly is like water torture. Also it bothers me that I don’t know how to make it better. I’ve toyed with just turning it off for a while but what happens when the house creeps up into the 90’s. Will my system ever get it back down to this ‘frigid’ 78 again? Or will it maybe get me to 85 or so?

It is maddening. And I fear that this is what every summer will be like for the rest of my life. Will I look back on these days with fondness thinking “oh.. remember when the 90+ heat waves would only last 7-8 days in a row?”??

I suspect when my electric bill comes next month I will decide then and there to just shut this thing off and suffer. On a bright note, I’m amazed there hasn’t been a blackout yet!

Are there a lot of 5/4 votes in the court?

The Supreme Court is so important to our democracy but it is kind of failing us. And I’m not specifically writing this because of the recent opinions that have been in the news. It was something Dan Carlin said in his latest podcast (which is a show you totally should be listening to regularly). He was talking about the fact that it seemed like many of the recent Supreme Court decisions were 5-4.

And he is kind of right. There are a lot of ‘split’ decisions. These are votes that are 5/4 or 5/3. All others (including 6/2 and 6/3) I considered ‘majority’ decisions. I did a quick count at a website that lists the votes and found that for 2010 about 25% of the votes were split. For 2011 it was a little lower but overall there are a lot of decisions that are 5/4. There was no 2012 data. Now I didn’t consider the content of the cases. I wonder if there were even more splits on the obviously partison issues like guns, right to choose, rulings on things like the healthcare law, etc. I’ll leave that for you to look into if you’re interested.

But the main argument here is that the court is supposivly comprised of the greatest constitutional scholars and they are supposed to be blind to anything other than the law and the constitution. How is it that these 9 people are not in agreement almost all the time? I think instead of 75%-80% of the time their percentage should be way more like 90% right?

Inspired

I have so many friends who are brilliant and working jobs that they hate or are well below their skill level. Some are unhappy, some are ok with being waitresses or toiling away at a soul sucking corporation for 12 years. This is a huge waste.

I think of Google who a while back went on this crazy hiring spree. Their only qualification was that you were brilliant. Could you code? Not important. Now the company is the only real R/D shop where you never know what they will come out with next. They just have a bunch of smart people trying to do cool things that interest them. They deserve all the success they have achieved.

But going back to my more local, smaller problem of my friends. I wonder if I was wealthy and running some company on my own. If I was, I would just hire everyone I know. Not just to provide them an income, but to provide them a place to use their brains and their creativity to do something that makes them happy and provides some value to the world.

I truly believe that it would happen. My friends are that talented. And they are talented in so many fields : technical, artistic, public service facing, teaching, etc. Who knows what would happen if I gave them the resources to dream and create and enjoy their work. Kind of like Google did.

So is there some new web 2.0 way to make this work? Some kind of kickstarter type thing where you just post what you’d like to do in life and somehow we put people together and fund their dreams? There should be.