Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our dysfunctional national priorities

While our political process remains broken, with our elected officials of both of the two major parties which function as a virtual duopoly answering less to the electorate than to the entities that fund them, two endless wars continue with a small percentage of the country feeling the actual burden of them (i.e. deployed military and their family), a vast, ever expanding military/national surveillance that drains the nation's wealth (and upwards to the mega wealthy) and eats our liberties, an inability to respond decisively to global warming and on and on one can go about significant, important issues that go unaddressed or unresolved, what are we worked up about as a nation?

Hating gay people (the world will end if we let them get married), hating Mexican immigrants (the world will end unless we get rid of them), and hating Muslims (the world will end if "they" are allowed to turn a former Burlington Coat Factory building down the road from the WTC site into a Muslim community center.)

Sure, heck, we aren't going to do anything to make this country a better place, but by God we can still make some minorities miserable. It's not like stories like this matter

Helping to drive that surge [in campaign spending] is the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision — the invitation for corporations to take sides in elections. After that, two lesser-known decisions opened the door wider.

A federal appeals court said people can give as much as they want to groups that advertise for or against a candidate. The so-called "independent expenditure committees" just can't coordinate with the candidate or party.

And finally, the Federal Election Commission rolled those two rulings together and came up with this: These independent expenditure committees can take unlimited contributions from individuals, unions and corporations.

And because of a loophole in the FEC rules, they don't have to report it.

"Unless the donor is giving for that specific ad, the donor will not have to be disclosed," says Larry Noble, a campaign finance lawyer in Washington who formerly served as general counsel to the FEC. "So, effectively, these corporations that don't want to be seen as supporting candidates can now give the same money they would've spent on their own to another organization, to spend that money."
Or this

The Defense Department failed to properly account for almost $9 billion of Iraq reconstruction funds, which is 96 percent of the money it received from 2004 to 2007, according to a report released Tuesday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Eight organizations in the department were authorized to spend $9.1 billion from the Development Fund for Iraq, which is made up of funds from Iraq’s oil and gas exports, surplus money from the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program and frozen Iraqi assets. The DoD organizations were supposed to set up accounts at the Treasury Department to manage the money, but only the Army Central Command did so for the roughly $400 million it received.

As a result, the SIGIR report found, the remaining $8.7 billion was “vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss."
I keep hearing how the demagogue misnamed "Ground Zero Mosque" (which isn't at Ground Zero and isn't a mosque) is offensive to 9/11 victims (despite the fact that some were Muslims). How about using the death of 3,000 Americans as a pretense to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attacks while claiming that rebuilding the country was a number one priority in a so-called "war on terror" only to let 96 - 96! - percent of the country's reconstruction funds to go unacccounted for. The English language will need to invent a new word to describe how unacceptable this is, as "unacceptable" doesn't do it justice.

And then there's this

Extreme weather induced by climate change has dire public health consequences, as heat waves threaten the vulnerable, storm runoff overwhelms city sewage systems and hotter summer days bake more pollution into asthma-inducing smog, scientists say.

The United States – to say nothing of the developed world – is unprepared for such conditions predicted by myriad climate models and already being seen today, warn climate researchers and public health officials.
Obviously, "Scientific American" is an unreliable source of science info, inferior to, say, Investor's Business Daily or AM radio talk host Neil Boortz.

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