Those whose arguments are empty of fact are usually full of shit. --David Porter
Get it out there. Call, write, talk, inform.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't Lie To Me, Man

This is GREAT. Write to your state Reps and Senator to ask that the similar legislation be introduced here in Texas. I believe in Free Speech but LYING is not protected speech.

State House approves ban on campaign lies

OLYMPIA -- Political candidates in Washington would once again be banned from telling lies on the campaign trail under a proposed law approved Monday by the state House.

The bill, passed out of the House on a 92-2 vote, seeks to reinstate an old law that was thrown out on free speech grounds by the state Supreme Court in 2007. The court said the state's former ban on lying in campaigns violated the First Amendment because it did not require proof that campaign falsehoods were defamatory.

Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, said this year's attempt at reinstating the ban on campaign lies addresses the court's problems with the old law. Specifically, the bill approved Monday would prohibit false statements that are libelous or defamatory, and committed with actual malice - a key legal test in free speech case law.

"This bill simply establishes some overdue minimum standards of honesty and decency in political campaigning," said Miloscia, the bill's prime sponsor. The bill, which was requested by the state Public Disclosure Commission, now moves to the state Senate for further consideration.

One of the "no" votes Monday was cast by Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle. Pedersen, an attorney, said the bill still doesn't go far enough to cure the potential infringement on First Amendment protections of speech.

"I think the court was very clear that political speech is at the heart of what the First Amendment is about," Pedersen said.

Lawmakers should leave it to voters to determine whether a candidate is being truthful, and keep government regulations out of the mix, Pedersen said. Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, cast the other "no" vote.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A (Twisted) Sign of the Times

Rich Cut Back on Payments to Mistresses
You know times are tough when the rich start cutting costs on their mistresses.

According to a new survey by Prince & Assoc., more than 80% of multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on their gifts and allowances. Still, only 12% of the multimillionaire cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for financial reasons.

“Rich people are getting hit, and they’re all expressing the need to curtail unnecessary spending,” said Russ Alan Prince, president of Prince & Assoc., a wealth-research firm based in Connecticut. “Lovers are part of the same calculation.”

Of course, any study of millionaires and their mistresses should be taken with a large grain of salt. The survey–a subset of a larger wealth study–polled 191 individuals with a minimum net worth of $20 million who said they had lovers of at least a year or more (this to screen out the one-night stands, etc.). About two thirds of the respondents were men and one third women. All were married and all had personal control over their finances, meaning the women and men surveyed were the primary wealth holders in their homes.

The most surprising stats in the study relate to gender and what might be termed “length of service.” Fully 82% of men in the study said they planned to lower the allowances to their mistresses, while more than three quarters planned to provide fewer gifts, less expensive gifts and fewer perks, like jet rides, resort vacations and top restaurant meals.

Women were far more generous to their paramours in the face of financial crises. Less than 20% planned to lower allowances, gifts and perks, while more than half planned to raise them.

Susan Shapiro Barash, who teaches gender studies at Marymount Manhattan College and wrote “Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets,” about why women lie, said women value their lovers more than men in a time of economic trouble. “For the women, lovers matter more than ever now because the rest of life is so dreary,” she said. “For the men, they’re just cutting across the board.”

Ms. Barash added that women may value their lovers more today because their husbands are so miserable. “If your husband lost his job on Wall Street and he’s miserable, you need the escape,” she says.

The duration of the relationship also seems to play a role in the economics of high-end cavorting. The study found that more than two thirds of the millionaires who had been with their lovers for three or more years planned to cut back. That compares with less than half for those with a tenure of one to three years.

“What we found in talking to the respondents is that the magic of the relationship with their lover fades after a while, so they’re more willing to let them go,” Mr. Prince says.

The survey doesn’t mean to suggest that all, most or even a large minority of rich men and women have affairs. It simply is a snapshot of a certain sample at a certain time. Yet it suggests that in a time of financial crisis, it is better to be a kept man than a compensated woman.

UPDATE: Since so many readers asked about the survey’s methodology, I called Russ Prince to get the specifics. The mistress questions were added to the end of a much larger survey on wealth and wealth management polling a control group of 518 people. Of the 518 people surveyed as part of the broader study, 191 opted to answer the mistress question. The 518 respondents were all private jet owners — since this was done in conjunction with a private-jet-related business — and all the respondents were paid for their time.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

If You Haven't Done Anything Wrong You Have Nothing to Fear--NOT

CIA Confuses Rolling Stone satire story as Dirty Bomb Plot--Tortures Man in Gitmo

John Byrne Published: Monday February 9, 2009

'How to Build an H-Bomb' was a joke, but apparently helped buttress CIA case
A British citizen held at Guantanamo Bay who the Pentagon accused of plotting to build a dirty bomb had actually been reading a satirical article re-posted from Rolling Stone, according to a British newspaper report.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopan janitor who was seeking asylum in Britain, allegedly admitted to browsing a story that instructs readers how to building a nuclear bomb. Trouble is, that story was apparently a joke.

Mohamed says that he made the admission -- and others relating to purported terrorism -- after being beaten, hung by his wrists for a week, having a gun held to his head, and held in a dungeon-like cell at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.

A British newspaper reported Sunday that the "offending article," "How to Build An H-Bomb," was actually published in Rolling Stone and re-posted on other websites.

"Written by Barbara Ehrenreich, the publication’s food editor, Rolling Stone journalist Peter Biskind and scientist Michio Kaku, it claims that a nuclear weapon can be made ‘using a bicycle pump’ and with liquid uranium ‘poured into a bucket and swung round,'" the Daily Mail wrote Sunday.

"We can reveal that the story which apparently led to Mohamed’s ordeal could not possibly have been used by a terrorist to build a nuclear weapon," the paper added. "The satirical article, published in Seven Days magazine, says its authors were given ‘three days to cook up a workable H-bomb. They did and we have decided to share their culinary secrets with you.’

"Not that Seven Days supports nuclear terrorism," it adds. "We don’t. We would prefer to die from familiar poisons like low-level radiation, microwaves, DDT or food dyes, rather than unexpectedly, say as hostage to a Latvian nationalists brandishing a home-made bomb.'"

A Google search did not immediately reveal the original Rolling Stone piece.

The CIA decided that despite its humorous intentions, the reading of the piece was enough to accuse the 30-year-old janitor of plotting a dirty bomb attack, Mohamed's lawyer said. Mohamed was also accused of being trained at an Al Qaeda paramilitary camp in Afghanistan; his lawyer says he visited Afghanistan to see the Muslim world for himself.

"Unclassified evidence corroborates Binyam’s claims that he was threatened – at the time the White House was obsessed by the idea terrorists had access to nuclear materials," said Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith. "Binyam said that he told them about a website he had once seen on the internet called How To Build An H-Bomb. He said that this was a joke but they thought it might be serious.

"I am speculating but I think this news was sent up the line to the White House, which is when the paranoia kicked in," Stafford Smith added. "This is how they made their huge mistake, thinking he was a major terrorist as opposed to a London janitor."

Mohamed was subject not simply to apparent torture but also to the Bush Administration's extraordinary rendition program, in which terrorist suspects are kidnapped and put on private jets, then dropped in third-party countries that condone torture.

The charges of a dirty-bomb plot were later dropped -- just as they were against US citizen Jose Padilla, who was held in a military brig without charges for several years. Padilla was later convicted of other terror charges.

"The Foreign Secretary is refusing to release classified documents relating to Mohamed’s detention," the Mail added. "Last week, the High Court ruled that the 42 intelligence papers must remain secret. However, the judges insisted they had no choice because the Government had informed them of a ‘threat’ by the US to withdraw all intelligence co-operation with Britain if the papers were published by the court."

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