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Oct 27, 2012 by Ugh
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A Mitt Romney Presidency.
I think that wins hands down over an Obama second term. Surely it would suck to the bejesus belt
, but dang, who knows what Mr. Mitt Mitt will do next! He might resign mid-term just to keep us on our toes!
Fortunately, only a dozen or so days left of this whole democracy thing, which sucks less than all other forms of things, but jeebus does it really suck right now.
Oct 16, 2012 by Ugh
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Gitmo - the gift that keeps on giving
A U.S. military judge is considering broad security rules for the war crimes tribunal of five Guantanamo prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, including measures to prevent the accused from publicly revealing what happened to them in the CIA's secret network of overseas prisons.
Because what a miscarriage of justice that would be if the defendants could testify as to what happened to them. What else do we find in this CBS News report by.... well, it doesn't say who wrote it, other than the AP contributed. Same point stated differently:
The protective order requires the court to use a 40-second delay during court proceedings so that spectators, who watch behind sound-proof glass, can be prevented from hearing — from officials, lawyers or the defendants themselves — the still-classified details of the CIA's rendition and detention program.
I don't recall the defendants having signed up for the US classification protocols, the thin reed upon which the 1st Amendment is suspended for people like CIA employees sent to prison for talking about what they know.
The article quotes various attorneys for the defendants and media organizations, stating essentially that the order would bar the defendants from testifying that the CIA tortured them because, well, that the CIA tortured them is classified. And the newspeak from the gov't attorneys in the matter is maddening, to wit:
"Each of the accused is in the unique position of having had access to classified intelligence sources and methods," the prosecution says in court papers. "The government, like the defense, must protect that classified information from disclosure."
The accused have "access to classified intelligence sources and methods" because they were fncking tortured! And rendered to various secret prisons across the globe. Moving on:
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor for the military commissions, said Sunday that the security precautions are necessary to prevent the release information that could harm U.S. intelligence operations or personnel around the world, and not to prevent embarrassing the government or to cover-up wrongdoing.
Uh, I don't believe you and, even if true, too damn bad. Y'all should have thought of this earlier, reap what you sow. And while I grieve for the following folks, this too is a terrible precedent (emphasis supplied once again):
The families of people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks have been invited to military installations in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York City to watch the pretrial hearings, which are closed to the general public.
Apparently there's nothing the general public would like to see in these hearings.
We've gone off the rails and I don't see us gettin' back on anytime soon, if ever.
Oct 12, 2012 by Ugh
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Oct 09, 2012 by Ugh
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Clearly I have no energy to post anything substantive right now. So random musings:
Geez, Obama, debate prep is optional now? I know you expected Mitt to come out and basically sh1t himself and all, but now we have all these polls saying things are tied, oops. Good luck next time.
Is there a better relevant U.S. sport right now than the NFL? Sure they had the replacement ref debacle, but they seem to put a compelling product on week after week. It has the advantage over the NBA, MLB, NHL, and college hoops in that you only have to pay attention essentially one day a week (sure there are Thursday and Monday night games). Whereas the other sports have never-ending regular seasons. Only competition is College Football and, well, it's college, there are ~5 times as many teams and they also seem to have nationally televised games every day of the week other than Sunday.
What's the appeal of the inevitable iPad Mini (or whatever they call it)? I was sitting at home soon after I got my iPad and had my phone, iPad, and laptop situated close together and they seemed to step perfectly in size and also complemented each other in function/portability. I don't see the iPad mini filling a hole anywhere, although I guess maybe for those who don't have an iPad yet it might be attractive.
Do we really need more aircraft carrier groups than the rest of the world combined? Can we cut back to, say, 5? Also, why do we still have military bases in Japan, Germany, and Italy? Why do those countries put up with them? I guess I can probably answer that last question.
The US policy of deporting "illegal" immigrants who came here when they were children is abominable and cruel. But, alas, typical of US punishment in general.
Sep 27, 2012 by Ugh
| 1 Comment
From the headline article
in the WSJ today [that is, 26 September in the US] regarding CIA drone strikes in Pakistan (subscription required):
Conducting drone strikes in a country against its will could be seen as an act of war.
The fact that this actually needs to be stated these days is rather disturbing. If the US bombed the Soviet Union with B-52s in, say, 1980, does anyone doubt that would be thought of as an act of war by the USSR? But, whoa, since we're using drones in Pakistan today, things are suddenly muddled. And the matter of Pakistani consent?
About once a month, the [CIA] sends a fax to a general at Pakistan's intelligence service outlining broad areas where the U.S. intends to conduct strikes with drone aircraft, according to U.S. officials. The Pakistanis, who in public oppose the program, don't respond. On this basis, plus the fact that Pakistan continues to clear airspace in the targeted areas, the U.S. government concludes it has tacit consent to conduct strikes within the borders of a sovereign nation, according to officials familiar with the program.
Convincing! There is some muddying around in the article using other "legal" theories (such as, the Pakistanis are "unable and/or unwilling" to take action against the "threat" to the US, so we can bomb them without consent), but essentially it's as follows:
CIA: Dear Pakistanis, here's where we'll be bombing you in the next month, mmmkay?
And this is cute:
The White House also is worried about setting precedents for other countries, including Russia or China, that might conduct targeted killings as such weapons proliferate in the future, officials said.
You know what White House/officials? IT'S TOO FNCKING LATE!
Sep 22, 2012 by Ugh
| 7 Comments
Although, every thread on TiO is an Open Thread, to a certain extent.
Just to throw it out there, some things I'm disliking these days:
1. Other drivers.
2. My house.
3. Vegetables (unless tomatoes count, then "almost all vegetables").
4. Airport security.
5. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (in no particular order).
6. Major League Baseball.
8. Multi-national corporations and their intellectual property B.S.
9. The NFL Network.
10. Lists. :-)
Sep 08, 2012 by Ugh
| 3 Comments
I have a bad habit of listening to it on my commute to and from work because most of the music stations suck around here. Thus, if I was in charge:
Rule the first: No hockey talk. Ever.
Rule the second: Talking about Major League Baseball is OK but only if: (i) it's the World Series; (ii) it's Yankees-Red Sox; or (iii) the local team is in first place.
Rule of the third: Hi NBA! Playoffs only.
Rule the fourth: You can talk about the NFL anytime, anyplace, anywhere, UNLESS it involves a labor dispute.
Rule of fives: College football, starting in August only; and even then each segment must start with a denunciation of the NCAA.
Rule 6: There is NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, rule 6.
Rule the seventh: College hoops only after the Superbowl.
Rule of 8: tennis and golf, slams and majors only; sorry (exception: if Tiger ever returns to form).
Rule number 9: Soccer....see you in 2014, then in 2018, repeat.
#10: Other sports: we just had the Olympics so please go away.
That is all.
Aug 24, 2012 by libjpn
| 8 Comments
Not putting this up at the mothership yet, it seems a bit too partisan, plus it seems a bit too much of a bleg, so I will put it up here.
Short version, gawker got almost 1000 pages of audits from Bain and is crowdsourcing the analysis. Lovely if someone could keep an eye on it.
Aug 17, 2012 by Ugh
| 8 Comments
Well now here's an idea
I hadn't thought of:
With millions of homeowners still "under water," some local governments are considering a novel solution: condemning their mortgages through the power of eminent domain.
There are several ways a local government could use eminent domain to write down mortgages, but the basic idea is fairly simple. Much like the condemnation of a piece of land for public use, the town or county would seek court approval to pay a “fair market” value to a lender or investor holding a homeowner’s underwater mortgage. That amount would be substantially less than the unpaid balance. Once the seizure is approved, the local government would then offer to sell the smaller mortgage back to the homeowner, who would refinance the outstanding balance with a new loan.
Not surprisingly, the banks/investors/governments (Fannie/Freddie) that hold the mortgages are none too happy, since this is what they've been trying to avoid all along, and would prove a great many of the banks insolvent, perhaps with collateral consequences (one pointed out is that it's going to be hard for homeowners in those communities to get credit to buy homes in the future; also, Rahm Emanuel is a dick, but I digress).
But...I'm intrigued. This doesn't seem to be any worse than what the Supreme Court blessed in Kelo
(to quote wiki's summary: "the Court held that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment."). If anything, it's better than Kelo
. So there doesn't seem to be a Constitutional problem here as long as they pay the holder of the mortgage FMV for the loan, and it appears the FMV in a great many of these cases is a lot lower than the face value.
I also liked the description in the article that the complex contracts governing the mortgage trusts held by the banks/investors is acting as a "suicide pact" since it prevents modifications that would ultimately be good for the holder. And: the same trust contracts that have impeded investors from writing down loans also leave them with little protection from a local government that offers less than fair value when it seizes mortgages, she wrote.
Obviously cities should pay FMV in any event.
The "moral hazard" argument is raised, stating "Cutting the loan balance of a troubled homeowner will only encourages future borrowers to take on debts they can’t pay back...." But that doesn't seem right unless you want to characterize the power of eminent domain as some sort of insurance policy. And there is (supposedly) the lenders as gate keepers to keep this from happening, and how many people are going to take out a mortgage larger than they can afford because
they think they can get the state to use its power of eminent domain several years down the road when they can't pay anymore?
I'm sure there are many things wrong with this that I'm not thinking of, but seems pretty interesting.
Turb in comments provides a link that shows the many things wrong with this plan that I didn't think of.
Aug 15, 2012 by libjpn
| 7 Comments