Monthly Archives: October 2008

Where Does the NSA Get Off?

Quotes of the Day:
:::I tried phone sex once, but the holes were too small.
:::- Unknown

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I sleep with my phone. We have that good of a relationship.
:::- Anonymous

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Subject: NSA listens to soldier’s pillow-talk

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You may remember we opposed warrantless surveillance of phones and emails by the federal government. We said it was unnecessary and un-Constitutional. We predicted it would lead to abuses — like virtually every other government program designed to “protect us.”

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Of course, the people pushing for this program said we didn’t understand the danger. They said they were too busy tracking various plots to screw around. Actually, the Intelligence Czar put it this way: “It’s not for the heck of it. We are narrowly focused and drilled on protecting the nation against al Qaeda and those organizations who are affiliated with it.”

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They’re all business. But even a conservative Republican Senator still wondered if they just weren’t looking to pry into people’s personal lives. The Intelligence Czar replied, “No sir.”

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Now, ABC reports that two whistleblowers have undressed the true behavior of the National Security Agency. Both of these people are Arab linguists. They said that the agency was listening to the truly personal conversations of people with absolutely zero connection to terrorism, like aid workers, journalists, and soldiers.

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Don’t our soldiers, who are fighting for democracy or something, deserve a little privacy when they’re separated from their spouses for a year at a time?

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Do You Know Who the PRIMARY DEALERS are?

Quote of the Day:
:::George Kaufman, a finance professor at Loyola University Chicago, is skeptical. “The last refuge of a scoundrel regulator,” he says, “is to shout ‘systemic risk.'” Usually, the alarm is false. He notes that aside from inter-bank lending, the credit markets were functioning tolerably well at the height of the crisis. Rates on 30-year mortgages actually dropped last week.
:::– from a column by Steve Chapman, September 25, 2008

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Subject: Do you know who the “Primary Dealers” are?

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There’s a lot of evidence that we’ve been scammed. Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke told us they needed to spend $700 billion of your money to buy supposedly toxic assets that were crippling major firms and for which there was no immediate market. This was a lie even when they said it, because . . .

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Merrill Lynch was able to sell it’s most troubled assets back in July.

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If Merrill could do it, other firms could do it too. They might not have liked the price they got, but it could have been done. The Big Bailout was purposely designed to give favored firms a better deal than they could have gotten in the market.

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We’ve also been told, constantly, that credit markets are frozen. We’re still being told that today, constantly, around the clock, on the cable business channels. It wasn’t true before, and it isn’t true now. We could point you to many places for the evidence,

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The Fed is Destroying Your Money RIGHT NOW

Quotes of the Day:
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“To better understand moral hazard, consider the case of a gambler going to a casino. If he bears the losses, his bets will be constrained by that risk. If someone were to guarantee him against loss, but allow him to keep the profits, the gambler would have an incentive to make the riskiest possible bets. He gains all the profits but bears none of the losses. One might designate such a system as “casino capitalism.” Current Fed policy has encouraged casino capitalism in the housing market.
:::– Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr.

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“When . . . moral hazard is present, credit flows rapidly into inelastically supplied assets, such as real estate. Rapid appreciation is the result, until the inevitable albeit belated regulatory crackdown stops the flow of credit and leads to an asset-price crash.”
:::– Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman

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Subject: The Fed is destroying your money, RIGHT NOW

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In a continuing effort to rescue and reward those who made bad financial decisions, the Federal Reserve is making you pay yet again, in another way, on top of the Big Bailout.

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Apparently, the $700 billion Big Bailout wasn’t a large enough payout to America’s poorly run companies. Still more of your hard earned money is needed. The federal government will take this new pound of flesh in the form of a massive inflation tax.

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You pay an inflation tax whenever the Federal Reserve creates new dollars. This causes every dollar you hold to be worth less than it was before.

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Those who get this new money first will become vastly richer, at your expense, because they’ll get to spend the money before it causes prices to rise.

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Who gets the money first?

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VICTORY on Iran Resolution

Quotes of the Day:
:::”In some cases, members clearly signed on without reading or understanding the implications of what they were signing on to . . . (referring to H.Con.Res 362)”
:::– Jim Fine, Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

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“I agree that this (H.Con.Res. 362) should not be our policy, and I regret the fact that I did not read this resolution more carefully.”
:::– Congressman Barney Frank

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Subject: Congress will not authorize a naval blockade of Iran

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We’ve won another victory — this time in our fight against H.Con.Res. 362. This House resolution would have urged President Bush to impose a naval blockade on Iran, bringing the U.S. to a state of undeclared war with that nation.

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The House Democratic leadership has decided to NOT bring the resolution to a vote.

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This looks like it is a final victory. If any resolution comes to the floor in the next Congress it is unlikely to include the naval blockade.

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This victory is due entirely to public pressure. DC Downsizers were a major part of that pressure. Massive public protest led five co-sponsors of the resolution to officially withdraw their names from the bill, while other co-sponsors flipped and voiced strong opposition to the naval blockade provision.

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Jim Fine, the Legislative Secretary for our coalition partner, the Friend’s Committee, puts it this way,

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Downsizers vs. Upsizers

Quote of the Day:
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“Congress seems to want to cure every ill known to man except unconstitutional government and high taxes.” – Charley Reese

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Subject: Downsizers vs. Upsizers

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The media tells us that the Presidential campaign is bitter and nasty. They tell us the partisanship in Congress is poisonous.

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But the real poison is that Washington isn’t partisan enough. If it actually was partisan, our work at DownsizeDC.org would be a whole lot easier.

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To illustrate, here are the roll call votes for eleven pieces of legislation that have defined the Bush Era of big, unlimited, unchecked government, the “Upsize DC Agenda:”

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Spying on Children

Quote of the Day:
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“It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it”.
:::– George Carlin

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Subject: Spying on Children

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On Monday we made the case that had we passed the “Read the Bills Act” and the “One Subject at a Time Act” back in the 90s, the Big Bailout could not have passed last Friday.

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If there had been a huge army of DC Downsizers back then, able to achieve universal visibility, and relentless, overwhelming pressure, the government laws, regulations, and programs that have led to the housing bubble and bust could also have been averted.

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What was true then, remains true now. The seeds of future disasters are being sown even now, because this is what government does. It creates a crisis, and then exploits the resulting hysteria to gain new powers with which to create even larger disasters. But the cure for this disease also remains the same — the big army, Operation Everywhere, and passage of “Read the Bills” and “One Subject at a Time.”

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Here’s the latest reason to pass “Read the Bills” . . .

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More About the Future

Quote of the Day:
:::”Small businesses strive to get two dollar’s value from each dollar. All too often, government does the opposite: it turns each tax dollar into fifty cents value. Small business does more with less. Government does less with more.”
:::– Michael Cloud

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Subject: More about the future

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In Spring of last year Congress tried to pass an immigration bill stuffed with dangerous provisions, including a “safe” Social Security card. The bill seemed sure to pass, until Congress was overwhelmed by public opposition.

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A Senator came to floor, near tears, saying he felt intimidated, and changed his vote to no. Another Senator angrily called for regulations to control those who had stirred up the public’s opposition — he thought the “culprit” was talk radio.

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The immigration bill failed.

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It happened again last Monday, when the Big Bailout failed its first vote in the House. Congress felt overwhelmed and intimidated. The pressure worked on Monday. Why didn’t it continue to work on Friday?

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We provided some of the answers yesterday. We provide more answers below.

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We Made a Mistake: Correct House Roll Call

We made a mistake. Please forgive us. Our original list, which was assembled Saturday, came from GovTrack.us, as does this one. We don’t know how this happened, but there’s a good chance your Representative’s vote was NOT reported accurately in today’s Downsizer-Dispatch. THIS IS THE ACCURATE LIST. We apologize for the inconvenience.
:::
:::Alabama
:::Aye    AL-1    Bonner, Jo [R]
:::Aye    AL-2    Everett, Terry [R]
:::Aye    AL-3    Rogers, Michael [R]
:::Nay    AL-4    Aderholt, Robert [R]
:::Aye    AL-5    Cramer, Robert [D]
:::Aye    AL-6    Bachus, Spencer [R]
:::Aye    AL-7    Davis, Artur [D]
:::
:::Alaska

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What the bailout means for our future

Quote of the Day:

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“There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”
:::– Bertrand Russell

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Subject: What the bailout means for our future

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The first House vote, in which the Big Bailout failed, showed the power of overwhelming pressure. The second House vote, in which the Big Bailout passed, showed the weakness of waiting to apply such pressure at the last minute.

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Human psychology is such that we always want to wait to the last moment, when a deadline looms, to take action. We must overcome this aspect of our psychology if we are to prevail. If we do not, then we will always lose.

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It really is that simple.

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Things would be vastly different if the same pressure applied to Congress on the Big Bailout had been exerted much earlier to end the government policies that caused the housing bubble.

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Had the pressure citizens brought to bear on the Big Bailout been applied earlier, and for a long period of time, to . . .

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Responsible people get the shaft

Quote of the Day:

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“True, governments can reduce the rate of interest in the short run. They can issue additional paper money. They can open the way to credit expansion by the banks. They can thus create an artificial boom and the appearance of prosperity. But such a boom is bound to collapse soon or late.”
:::– Ludwig von Mises (HT: Matt Kibbe)

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Subject: Responsible people get the shaft

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Do you pay your mortgage and other bills on time? Did you buy a house during the boom? If so, you’re about to get the shaft. You’re house is probably worth less than you paid for it, and it will take a lot of payments to get yourself back in the black.

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You’re the person paying the cost for the government-caused housing bubble, and no one is going to bail you out.

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