Archive for February, 2007

One good Republican – Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas

February 17, 2007

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Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy

by Ron Paul

Committee, February 15, 2007Transparency in monetary policy is a goal we should all support. I’ve often wondered why Congress so willingly has given up its prerogative over monetary policy. Astonishingly, Congress in essence has ceded total control over the value of our money to a secretive central bank.

Congress created the Federal Reserve, yet it had no constitutional authority to do so. We forget that those powers not explicitly granted to Congress by the Constitution are inherently denied to Congress – and thus the authority to establish a central bank never was given. Of course Jefferson and Hamilton had that debate early on, a debate seemingly settled in 1913.

But transparency and oversight are something else, and they’re worth considering. Congress, although not by law, essentially has given up all its oversight responsibility over the Federal Reserve. There are no true audits, and Congress knows nothing of the conversations, plans, and actions taken in concert with other central banks. We get less and less information regarding the money supply each year, especially now that M3 is no longer reported.

The role the Fed plays in the President’s secretive Working Group on Financial Markets goes unnoticed by members of Congress. The Federal Reserve shows no willingness to inform Congress voluntarily about how often the Working Group meets, what actions it takes that affect the financial markets, or why it takes those actions.

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Anna Nicole Smith murdered? Questions remain

February 14, 2007

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You’ve no doubt been caught in the media’s miasma of sensationalization. Their orgy of recrminiations and fingers pointed, obliquely or not, is mostly a distraction. But there might be some truth to the whispers that she was murdered. It should not go without notice that there is a billion dollar inheritance at stake.

As usual, Rigorous Intuition is on top of things, including the frightening comparisons to Marylin Monroe. It’s dangerous to be a hot blonde…

A week before her death, Monroe spent a weekend at Lake Tahoe’s Cal-Neva Lodge as a doped-up plush-toy of owners Frank Sinatra and Sam Giancana. Later, friend Ralph Roberts said Monroe described it as a “nightmare,” and that she’d felt more like a prisoner than a guest. Photographer Billy Woodfield, who’d worked with both Monroe and Sinatra, told Wolfe that Sinatra gave him a roll of film from the weekend to develop: “In his darkroom the photographer was shocked to see that the photos were of an unconscious Marilyn Monroe being sexually abused in the presence of Sam Giancana and Sinatra. Marilyn had been drugged in order for the compromising photos to be taken.” Woodfield advised Sinatra to burn them.

Drugs, mind-control, assassination, rape and blackmail. What a wonderful world we live in. Sinatra was protected from on high, much like Johnny Fontaine in the Godfather, so this doesn’t sound too out of character for him. He wants a fine piece of ass, so all he has to do is pick one from the pages of People magazine. His goons get the drugs and the dame and the rest is a party, if that’s what you’d call it.

The death of Anna Nicole’s son, Daniel, seemed very suspicious to me (removing the heirs?). I think we have to look at the obvious suspects in this case (which the police seem reluctant to do): She made a lot of enemies for marrying J. Howard Marshall a little over a year before his death. The complex court case involving the Marshall family’s efforts to deny Anna Nicole a slice of that billion dollar payout got dirty fast. After a recent Supreme Court ruling in her favor I think it’s foolish to ignore the obvious suspects in our midst. E. Pierce Marshall is dead, but no doubt somebody else is controlling the family now. The question is “who?” and how far will they go to maintain their fortune?

V is for victory

February 13, 2007

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Victory Is Not an Option

The Mission Can’t Be Accomplished — It’s Time for a New Strategy

By William E. Odom

Sunday, February 11, 2007; Page B01

The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush’s illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.

Its gloomy implications — hedged, as intelligence agencies prefer, in rubbery language that cannot soften its impact — put the intelligence community and the American public on the same page. The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon.
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See Dick Run (the Country)

February 5, 2007

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See Dick Run (the Country)
Cheney’s the real president. It’d be nice if the press noticed.

By Robert Kuttner
Web Exclusive: 08.28.06

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George W. Bush has been faulted in some quarters for taking an extended vacation while the Middle East festers. It doesn’t much matter; the man running the country is Vice President Dick Cheney.

When historians look back on the multiple assaults on our constitutional system of government in this era, Cheney’s unprecedented role will come in for overdue notice. Cheney’s shotgun mishap, when he accidentally sprayed his host with birdshot, has gotten more media attention than has his control of the government.

Historically, the vice president’s job was to ceremonially preside over the Senate, attend second-tier foreign funerals, and be prepared for the president to die. Students are taught that John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt’s first vice president, compared the job to a bucket of warm spit (and historians say spit was not the word the pungent Texan actually used).

Recent vice presidents Walter Mondale and Al Gore were given more authority than most, but there was no doubt that the president was in charge.

Cheney is in a class by himself. The administration’s grand strategy and its implementation are the work of Cheney — sometimes Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, sometimes Cheney and political director Karl Rove.

Cheney has planted aides in major Cabinet departments, often over the objection of a Cabinet secretary, to make sure his policies are carried out. He sits in on the Senate Republican caucus, to stamp out any rebellions. Cheney loyalists from the Office of the Vice President dominate interagency planning meetings.

The Iraq war is the work of Cheney and Rumsfeld. The capture of the career civil service is pure Cheney. The disciplining of Congress is the work of Cheney and Rove. The turning over of energy policy to the oil companies is Cheney. The extreme secrecy is Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

If Cheney were the president, more of this would be smoked out because the press would be paying attention. The New York Times‘ acerbic columnist Maureen Dowd regularly makes sport of Cheney’s dominance, and there are plenty of jokes (Bush is a heartbeat away from the presidency). But you can count serious newspaper or magazine articles on Cheney’s operation on the fingers of one hand. One of the first was by Bob Dreyfuss writing in the Prospect — “Vice Squad,” on all the vice-president’s men, which ran in our May issue. Another notable example is Charlie Savage’s important May 28th piece in The Boston Globe on Cheney operative David Addington, the architect and chief reviewer of legislation for “signing statements.” The most comprehensive was Jane Mayer’s fine piece in the July 3 New Yorker on Addington.

Cheney’s power is matched only by his penchant for secrecy. When Dreyfuss requested the names of people who serve on the vice president’s staff, he was told this was classified information. Former staffers for other departments provided Dreyfuss with names. This journalism requires a lot of hard work, but it is gettable because so many people in government have been sandbagged by the Cheney operation and are willing to provide information.

So secretive is Cheney (and so incurious the media) that when his chief of staff, Irving Lewis Libby, was implicated in the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, reporters who rushed to look Libby up on Nexis and Google found that Libby had barely rated previous press attention.

Why does this matter? Because if the man actually running the government is out of the spotlight, the administration and its policies are far less accountable.

When George W. Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry in 2004, many commentators observed that Bush was the fellow with whom you would rather have a beer. It’s an accurate and unflattering comment on the American electorate — but then who wants to have a beer with Cheney? The public may not know the details of his operation, but voters intuitively recoil from him.

Bush’s popularity ratings are now under 40 percent, beer or no, reflecting dwindling confidence in where he is taking the country. But Cheney’s ratings are stuck around 20 percent, far below that of any president.

If Cheney were the actual president, not just the de facto one, he simply could not govern with the same set of policies and approval ratings of 20 percent. The media focuses relentless attention on the president, on the premise that he is actually the chief executive. But for all intents and purposes, Cheney is chief, and Bush is more in the ceremonial role of the queen of England.

Yet the press buys the pretense of Bush being “the decider,” and relentlessly covers Bush — meeting with world leaders, cutting brush, holding press conferences, while Cheney works in secret, largely undisturbed. So let’s take half the members of the overblown White House press corps, which has almost nothing to do anyway, and send them over to Cheney Boot Camp for Reporters. They might learn how to be journalists again, and we might learn who is running the government.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect. This column originally appeared in The Boston Globe.

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© 2007 by The American Prospect, Inc.