Thursday, July 28, 2005


This month is the first corporate earnings season since the The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 bill passed and I'm astonished at how much tax dollars Congress has pissed away for so little gain.

Within the bill is a provision that allows corporations to "repatriate" earnings made outside the US at a tax rate of 5.25% instead of 35% for this year only. The rationale was to reap at least some tax revenue from money stashed away overseas and give "U.S. businesses... more resources... to create new jobs and keep existing workers."

Only thing is, there were no hard and fast rules on how the overseas profits were to be spent. Amazingly, as this Businessweek article reports, "six of the ten companies repatriating the biggest totals are axing workers in the U.S." Among them HP is slashing 14,500 jobs and Pfizer is closing 20 US factories.

The whole overseas profits issue is basically a semantic accounting scam anyway. Let's say Pfizer has a factory overseas that makes amoxicillin. The actual cost of manufacture is probably much less than a penny a pill. Logically, one would think that the factory ships the pills to the US and then Pfizer sells them to wholesalers and books the profit here. No, that's not what happens. The overseas factory is actually a separate corporate subsidiary which sells the pills to Pfizer for a buck or two each, booking the majority of the profits overseas. Pfizer then says with a straight face that their markup to wholesalers is within industry standard of maybe 50% or so.

It's a win for the multinationals because the cash is inconviently stuck overseas and they save tons off their taxes to bring it in, a win for the Treasury because it gets a lump sum of money this year it would have otherwise waited years to eventually receive, but it's a total loss for you and me because we have to make up for the revenue shortfall the Federal government is going to have this year ($350 billion?) by paying interest on Treasury bonds sold to finance the deficit.

I dunno how these jokers can look themselves in the mirror. . .

War is oh so 2004. . .

The War on Terror is over! Well, the phrase is anyway. Reports are that it's going to be replaced with the less pithy "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism." Gosh that just doesn't get the adrenalin going like the original, does it?

"For three years, the president didn't let an opportunity go by without repeating that we were in a global war against evil terrorists. But he's gone strangely silent ever since his reelection last November. My Brookings intern, Jina Chung, examined the text of Bush's speeches over the 12 months, as posted on the White House website to see how many times Bush referred to the 'war on terror' or some variant of the phrase in the six months since November 2 and how many times he did so in the six months prior the elections. Here's what she came up with: Before the elections, Bush mentioned the war on terror three times as often as after. In fact, he referred to it more often in the thirty days prior to the election (71 times) than in the six months since (66 times)."

Friday, July 22, 2005


I dunno why I associate Boris with Festus just now, but after you read this quote from a recent "press availability" it just seems to fit.

But Bush is not known for actually giving substantive, responsive answers -- and this time, his answer was almost shockingly unvarnished.

After trotting out a few well-worn phrases ideal for stalling -- "I'm comfortable with where we are in the process," and "I have thought about a variety of people" -- Bush stopped himself and blurted out: "I'm trying to figure out what else I can say that you -- I didn't say yesterday that sounds profound to you without -- without actually answering your question."

Later, asked by Caren Bohan of Reuters whether any of his aides have offered to resign, and what constitutes a firing offense, Bush didn't even make a go of it.

"You know, I appreciate you bringing that up," he said, which was so baldly untrue that the room burst into laughter. "My answer really hasn't changed from 24 hours ago. It's the same answer. Now, I'll be glad to answer another question if you've got one."

Active Denial System

First of all, ya just gotta love the name. I've been accused of having an ongoing "active denial system" myself, but that's neither here nor there. This is an interesting look at our tax dollars at work. . .

Active Denial Technology uses a transmitter producing energy at a frequency of 95Ghz and an antenna to direct a focused, invisible beam towards a designated subject. Traveling at the speed of light, the energy reaches the subject and penetrates the skin to a depth of less than 1/64 of an inch. Almost instantaneously it produces a heating sensation that within seconds becomes intolerable and forces the subject to flee. The sensation immediately ceases when the individual moves out of the beam or when the system operator turns it off.

Despite this sensation, the beam does not cause injury because of the shallow penetration depth of energy at this wavelength and the low energy levels used. It exploits the bodyÅfs natural defense mechanism that induces pain as a warning to help protect it from injury.

Bullcrap! It's a goddamn microwave death ray, I'd say. If the target can't move out of the way, eventually he gets 3rd degree burns and we don't wanna even think about what it might do to someone's retina. Still, it's an interesting concept even if it's currently bigger than an SUV. I can't imagine what practical application it has but I'm sure somebody will think of something.


I love this picture, worth another look in light of the below.

If, like me, the Rove/Plame thing is getting mind-numbingly complex via the daily drip drip of leaked memo's, arcane statues and bizare Republican smears, John Dean comes to the resue to put the whole thing in a different perspective by bringing up to the surface a similar case the Festus White House prosecuted only three years ago. . .

The Jonathan Randel Leak Prosecution Precedent
I am referring to the prosecution and conviction of Jonathan Randel. Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a PhD in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain's Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA, and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.)

Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft's name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. Attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.

By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft's name. It was an eighteen count "kitchen sink" indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel. Most relevant for Karl Rove's situation, Court One of Randel's indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

Randel, faced with a life sentence (actually, 500 years) if convicted on all counts, on the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty to violating Section 641. On January 9, 2003, Randel was sentenced to a year in a federal prison, followed by three years probation. This sentence prompted the U.S. Attorney to boast that the conviction of Randel made a good example of how the Bush Administration would handle leakers.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Festus speaks

Ted Cashin on Tuesday, July 5, 2005 at 8:54 PM -0500 wrote:
The headlines today said that Bush has urged an end to partisan rhetoric over the Supreme Court selection. All he is really saying is that he wants the Republicans to shut up so he can pick who he wants. And he wants the Democrats to stay quiet and stand by powerlessly so the selection can be approved. What a great gesture on the part of Mr. Bush to ask for an end to rhetoric.

Gosh, and so soon after Karl Rove demonized the entire Democratic party. But then again Festus counts on his sheep to have short memories when they have them at all. . .

- The White House is defending presidential adviser Karl Rove against Democratic demands that he apologize or quit for implying that liberals are soft on the Sept. 11 attackers and other terrorists.
Congressional Republicans joined the White House in standing solidly behind Rove, saying he shouldn’t apologize and that he was outlining a philosophical divide between a president who sought to win the war on terrorism by taking the fight to the enemy and Democrats who questioned that approach.
. . . Rove, the architect behind President Bush’s election victories, on Wednesday night told a gathering of the New York Conservative Party that “Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” Conservatives, he said, “saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.”

Um, war with Hussein for Osama's attack? Yeah, OK, whatever. . .

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Twin sons of different mothers

That's Ken Curtis who played Festus in an old TV cowboy series. He could make a mean cup of coffee, but not much else. Kinda reminds me of someone. . .

Role model