Tag Archives: Congress

The Social Security Entitlement Adventure

What with the Congress and prez conducting a war against Social Security now in 2018, I was surprised to find this in my blog posted back during 2012. After reading through it I find my perspective hasn’t changed all that much, but my dependency on SS has. Old Jules

So Far From Heaven

Good morning readers. I’m obliged you came by for a read.

I got an email yesterday from an old acquaintance who’s carrying a serious chip on his shoulder about somebody calling the Social Security pension he lives on an ‘entitlement’. He raged on about how he paid into it fifty years, and his employers matched everything he paid. So, he says, it’s not an entitlement.

Sheeze. I wonder what else a person would call it. He’s entitled to it. What the hell is it but an entitlement?

But I think he’s concerned that because ‘entitlement’ has become a buzzword for something else he doesn’t like.  Namely a whole range of government payouts to bank owners, automobile companies, multi-national corporations, all manner of people bleeding the US budget dry with bailouts and payoffs.  I think he figures they might quit paying him his pension because they called it an entitlement.  Putting him down…

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Why is the US taking sides? Well, there’s the PAC bribes, for beginners

Hi readers.  Here’s some other interesting stuff I came across while researching the Israel/Palestine troubles.  Did you know the US is taking sides and sponsoring it to the tune of $130 billion?

http://www.wrmea.org/congress-and-us-aid-to-israel.html

Congress and U.S. Aid to Israel

U.S. Aid to Israel

Congress

Pro-Israel PAC Contributions to Congressional Candidates

Congressional Voting Records

Other

Reckon where we’d be today if they’d put this on the ballot in 1992

1992,the NBC News/WSJ poll asked whether voters would be willing to check a box on the ballot that would defeat everyone in Congress, including their own representatives. Sixty percent of those surveyed were willing to play 52-card pickup and start all over again with 535 new members of Congress.

Imagining a vibrant third party is a political fantasy that ranks right up there with a deadlocked national convention going to a ninth ballot. But two decades ago, there was the out-of-nowhere emergence of Ross Perot. Before Perot became known for his paranoid claims and his bizarre (and temporary) withdrawal during the 1992 Democratic Convention, he touched off an outsider populist movement with a centrist cut-the-national-debt ideology.

http://news.yahoo.com/why-republicans-should-be-very–very-afraid-192943188.html

Lessee, there’s all the banana wars, the series of gawdawful presidents and the families running US Congress probably wouldn’t have happened they way they did.  Then there’s NAFTA, millions of trainloads of Chinese toasters we’d have to do without, maybe.  Bank bailouts, auto industry bailouts, where does it all stop once you begin trying to digest it all?

Luckily it never made it onto the ballot. 

Might have, though, if anyone found a way past the people who control what goes on ballots.

All I can be certain of is that if it had been on the ballot I’d have voted.  Might even have kept voting in some of the others between then and now.  Saved me one hell of a lot of trouble, them not putting it on the ballot.

Old Jules

Wossname Bush dynasty looking out for US interests

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Two members of the Extended Family of US Presidents are scared the US will get into trouble if big oil companies and producers can’t export crude instead of refining it inside the US.

There’s no telling what sorts of awful things might happen if those big companies aren’t allowed to send natural resources to places where the profits are higher and where the labor and other costs of refining can be done in backward places where workers get paid a dollar a day.

Isn’t that nice?

George W. Bush Institute – U.S. Export Restraints on Crude Oil Violate International Agreements
Posted by Alan M. Dunnon September 11, 2013

http://www.bushcenter.org/blog/2013/09/11/us-export-restraints-crude-oil-violate-international-agreements

The U.S. current policy of restricting crude oil exports is fundamentally at odds with binding U.S. commitments under a number of international agreements. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, is the foundation agreement for the World Trade Organization, WTO. Among the principle GATT commitments adopted by all WTO member countries is a prohibition on the imposition of quantitative restraints on exports. There are exceptions to this prohibitionbut they are narrowly construed and apply only to certain, and very limited, circumstances.
Crude oil and natural gas, like almost all other products, are subject to GATT disciplines on trade. These same disciplines apply to crude oil and natural gas under U.S. free trade agreements, FTAs, such as the NAFTA, as well as numerous bilateral investment treaties, BITs, most of which also incorporate the GATT prohibitions on restricting exports.
The Prohibition on Export Restrictions Is Enforceable
GATT obligations prohibiting export restrictions are enforceable in binding proceedings under the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding, DSU. These are the very same procedures recently used by the U.S. to successfully challenge China’s restrictions on exports of raw materials and coerce Chinese compliance through the DSU mechanism. Currently, the U.S. again is using these procedures to pursue a second challenge to China’s export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum.
Importantly, some of the Chinese export restraints that were found to violate the GATT are comparable to the U.S. export restrictions on crude oil and natural gas, including:
• Quantitative restrictions;
• Additional requirements and procedures vis-à-vis the quantitative restrictions; and
• Delayed licensing requirements on exports.
Other U.S. international agreements incorporate the GATT obligations and prohibitions either by reference or direct recitation, and most of those agreements also provide a right of action by which parties may challenge violations to the agreements, typically in international arbitration and sometimes in the courts. For example, bilateral investment treaties and trade and investment facilitation agreements, TIFAs, often incorporate the GATT obligations and provide rights of action under arbitration.
U.S. Statutes Regarding Oil Export Licensing Should Be Interpreted By the Agency and the Courts to Avoid Conflict With GATT Rules
The current U.S. export control regime on exports of crude oil are rooted in a complicated web of U.S. statutes and implementing regulations that give the U.S. president and/or various executive branch agencies sufficient discretion to grant exports of crude oil or gas if the export would be consistent with the U.S. “national interest” or “public interest.” Basic rules ofstatutory interpretation dictate that the executive branch and the courts must resolve any ambiguity in interpreting these statutes in a manner that is consistent with the GATT and other U.S. international agreements. For example, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that:
[A]n interpretation and application of [a] statute which would conflict with the GATT Codes would clearly violate the intent of Congress.
Conclusion

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Article XI, prohibits U.S. export restrictions on crude oil and natural gas to other GATT/WTO member countries, except under very limited exigent circumstances. The limited exceptions to the basic prohibition on export restrictions are narrowly construedand reliance on these exceptions to the GATT prohibition would require the U.S. to impose onerous restrictions on domestic U.S. production and consumption of crude oil and/or natural gas. In addition, even delaying exports under protracted export licensing schemes have been found to be violations of the GATT.
These well-established rules of international trade are incorporated in numerous binding international agreements to which United States is a party. The WTO and other agreements have enforcement mechanisms that enable the parties to these agreements to compel U.S. compliance.
For all of these reasons, the current U.S. policies and procedures restricting exports of U.S. crude oil and natural gas are highly vulnerable to legal challenges in WTO as well as other international forums and the U.S. courts.

Alan Dunn served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Administration of George H. W. Bush and as one of the lead U.S. negotiators in the multilateral GATT Uruguay Round negotiations, which established the World Trade Organization (WTO). He also served as a lead negotiator in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations with Mexico and Canada. He is a partner at Stewart and Stewart and has been practicing international trade law for 30 years. This guest post is in conjunction with the Bush Institute’s September 12 conference, Energy Regulation: Lessons about Growth from the States, the Nation and Abroad.

If a person can’t tell where the interests of a family hide when they’re inoffice, it’s nice to be able to see it by hindsight.

Old Jules

The Zen of politics – Romantic vs Classic forms

Hi readers. Thanks for the visit.

Probably some of you have noticed as I have that things in Washington D.C. aren’t always as they appear to be.

Moving the White House and Congress to Disneyland – A serious proposal

The reasons for this reach deeply into the psyche of the people who call themselves Americans. They’re entrenched in the idealized construct of the US Constitution and the romantic, dehumanized cardboard cutouts of the ‘founding fathers’, US presidents, generals, politicians and jurists. By definition their motives were pure, their decisions and actions were entirely driven by the desire to protect the rights of the future citizenry.

A classical view of all this would note a few contradictions inside the fog of idealism. The supposed ability of the judiciary, for instance, to shed the skin of partisanship and self-interest once sworn into office. The fact a substantial portion of the humanity born inside the borders, the ‘Indians’, were not to be included in the census, not to be taxed. In fact, were not citizens at all when it came to the protected rights of citizenship. The only protections the US Constitution provided them were treaty obligations approved by the US Congress. Even the 14th Amendment to the Constitution in 1868 pretended the tribes governed themselves and the US Government had no jurisdiction over them. Excluded for automatic citizenship even those who gave up tribal affiliations.

Keeping the options open, those realists. Kept them open until 1924, by which time the protection of any rights they might have had as citizens couldn’t do them a hell of a lot of good.

Not to say impartial or non-partisan Supreme Court jurists, or what happened to the rights of American Indians has anything to do with anything except reality.

The reality. Washington D.C. is inhabited by human beings looking out for their own best interests. They’ve pared the environment down so it’s contained in a two-party system to protect itself from intruders, outsiders, invaders. They’re all singing from the same songbook inside the conch shell where the only sound you hear is their ocean.

Whining about taxes, rights protected by Constitutional amendments, undeclared wars and candidates for National elected offices who aren’t blessed with chins can’t penetrate the walls of the conch shell.

The reality is that if any of that can be changed it can’t happen in a capsule of romantic form anchored to a past that never existed, celluloid people canonized in myth and a piece of paper with less substance than a US dollar.

Playing nicknack tallywack inside Washington’s two-party system only results in them throwing the dog a bone. But the dogs do love it.

That’s reality.

Old Jules

Bobby’s over there squealing like a pig in the White House

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.  Apologies in advance to those of you who never saw or read Deliverance.

One of the problems that comes from ten generations of intermarried first cousins running the country is they all begin to think it’s about Dueling Banjos.  They start believing it’s perfectly natural Bobby’s over there squealing like a pig.  Nobody wants to rock the canoe.

But at the moment the reason Bobby’s over there in the White House squealing like a pig is that Saudi Arabia and their cousins in Israel are pressuring the hell out of him to bomb their other cousins in Syria.  Same as they’re doing over there in Congress where they understand all about squealing like pigs for the White House, Israel, Saudi Arabia, anyone with the money to buy a quickie.

It’s all become a habit.  Nobody 75 years ago would have dreamed there’d come a time when the President of the US could believe he could bomb the bejesus out of anyone he wanted to anytime he wanted to without anyone raising an eyebrow.  Nobody would have believed US Presidents could take the country into a series of endless wars without consulting Congress.  Nobody would have believed any president could believe he could do it and get by with it.

But that all changed with a lot of other things.  And now we’ve got a guy in the White House hysterical because he wants to give a war and nobody’s willing to come.  Standing on one leg, then the other saying he’s going to get permission from Congress, then saying he doesn’t have to.  Saying he’s the only one needs to pick the tune for all of us.

And all those hydrocephalic banjo players over in Congress listening to Israel lobbyists handing them nice stuff under the table, Saudi Arabian lobbyists giving them free trips to Tahiti and porn stars in their hotel rooms to help them remember where their loyalty belongs.

Meanwhile, the world’s died laughing and decided they’ve had enough of US Presidents and their big-headed advisors telling them who needs the bejesus bombed out of them.  Which puts Bobby into a hell of a fix.

Bobby knows if he doesn’t do what Israel and Saudi Arabia tell him to do, he’s got a Vice President who will.  He knows he can be LBJed same as Kennedy was.  LBJed and J. Edgar Hoovered by one of the packs of goons and snipers he’s helped put into place on all the rooftops.  He never figured he’d be the one in the crosshairs he helped create.

It’s no wonder he’s squealing like a pig.

Old Jules