TAXMAN COMETH

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Posted on 27th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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 (If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
(If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
(If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
(If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.
Taxman.

The Beatles

The desperate government drones are flailing about in their death throes, frantically trying to milk the taxpayer cow for every last drop before they die of thirst. These feckless politicians have wasted your money for decades on worthless programs and projects. The do gooders have pissed away your money on public education and the union government drones running the education system. The result has been millions of clueless dupes who can’t think for themselves.

Politicians have destroyed our major cities by taxing the citizens and businesses to the point that producers leave. They have made entitlement promises that can never be honored. Detroit was the 1st domino to fall. The idiots running the City of Philadelphia are too stupid to see they are on the exact same path as Detroit. The tax base is gone. They are left with hordes of free shit army privates. Rather than deal with reality and cut expenses, they try the same old solution – create new taxes, new regulations and new laws.

It seems the job of government drones is to crush entrepreneurial spirit, deter innovation, restrict freedom, and tax the shit out of anything the moves, breathes or helps others. Three young dudes, fresh out of college created an idea called Air Bed & Breakfast, now called Airbnb.com, in 2008. The idea was for individuals with spare rooms to be matched up with other individuals in need of a room. Two individual people coming to a mutually beneficial agreement and eliminating corporate hotels, ridiculous rules, regulations and taxes does not sit well with the oligarchs and politicians. They aren’t getting their slice of the pie. Of course, their slice would amount to nine-tenths of the pie.

These three entrepreneurs have grown their business to $2.5 billion in five years. It’s amazing what individuals with a great idea can accomplish without Obama subsidies, the government deciding winners and losers, and control freak do-gooders imposing rules, regulations and taxes to stop the business dead in its tracks.

Airbnb epitomizes the sharing economy, in which folks rent or swap all kinds of underused assets – spare rooms, cars, parking spots, lawnmowers, children’s clothes or their time.The new sector inspires almost messianic devotees who say it’s an engine of innovation that creates value out of thin air, conserves resources, empowers ordinary people to be entrepreneurs, and disrupts industries and corporations.

The slumlords, corporate hotel chains, and tax & spend politicians are outraged at this dreadful act of liberty and freedom by people across the country. And they are going to do something about it. Democratic councilman Bill Green of Philadelphia is going to stop these entrepreneurial terrorists before they make too many people satisfied. He is so impressed by their service he wants to tax and regulate the shit out of them.

“It’s a product that I use when I travel. And its something that’s clearly being used here, and we’re not enforcing the law. So we might as well figure out a way to create a registration process, and tax it, [so] that [it] works with our zoning code.” 

“Right now, it’s underground, so we have to figure out how to make the sharing economy, whether its ride sharing, car sharing, Airbnb or other things like that that work with Philadelphia’s zoning code.”

What would we possibly do without politicians protecting us from ourselves and creating taxes to crush new businesses? We truly need to starve the beast. We need to expand the underground economy and starve these bastards of their taxes. Barter with people. Conduct as many transactions in cash as possible. The laws and tax regulations were written by the corporate fascists to benefit the corporate fascists. Their kingdom built on a foundation of lies and false promises is crumbling. Let’s give it a push by starving them of their tax and fee revenues.

A Box of Letters: Looking at my Revolutionary Ancestors from Post Constitutional America

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Posted on 24th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Here is an article sent to me by TBP member John Coster. A little Friday history lesson for the troops.

By John Coster

Over the last year I’ve been researching the contents of a box of letters passed down to me from my ancestors. By a bizarre coincidence each of my parents was descended from one of two sisters, Gertrude and Alida Livingston, in the revolutionary era household of those Livingstons who lived at Clermont on the east bank of the Hudson River. The sisters each married a prominent soldier in the revolution, Morgan Lewis and John Armstrong respectively, each of whom in turn achieved high political offices in the years that followed the War for Independence. Hence, two different groups of letters drifted through more than two centuries, handed down in families that had lost all connection to each other and finally, by the accident of my parents’ chance meeting in a parking lot, ended up in one box in an old chest of drawers that I inherited. Among the ten siblings, spouses and in laws of this extended family were prominent statesmen and soldiers including Robert Livingston of the Declaration of Independence and Louisiana Purchase and Richard Montgomery, husband of Janet Livingston, a martyr to the cause of Independence killed leading the attack on Quebec on December 31 1775. Montgomery was for the first decades of the nation’s history the most revered military figure except for Washington and to this day, though his story is largely forgotten by the public, his exploits are recalled in the names of towns and counties from Alabama to Massachusetts. The actual history of this family, preserved in many scattered archives and scholarly works, reads like the scenario for some extravagant movie production or a vast historical novel, Game of Thrones meets War and Peace, its scenery shifting back and forth from the American Wilderness to New York and Boston and across the Atlantic to London, Paris and Madrid. The secondary characters, whose lives intersect with those of the family, include the chiefs of the five Iroquois nations, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, the King of England, Napoleon and even the two most famous pirates of the era, Captain KIdd and Jean Lafitte. As Michael Gabriel, Montgomery’s biographer, told me, “Hollywood couldn’t have made this stuff up.”

I began my research into the letters with the intent of learning how the character of family members from over two hundred years ago might in subtle ways have affected my own personal history. I was exploring the larger question of how family histories, even when the details have mainly been forgotten, might subtly influence who we are and how we make our way in the world. At the beginning of the project, I knew little about the letters’ authors and did not yet realize how they all had been bound together by birth or marriage to this one extraordinary household. I never imagined the epic adventures I would discover; nor did I comprehend that few if any families had had so major a role in shaping the early history of the country. As my research broadened and I found more letters from these same ancestors and from other family members preserved in various archives, I realized that my situation was very unusual. I began to know several ancestors from as far back as the 17th century much better than I knew my own grandparents who had all died when I was still a small child. In one case (the first Robert Livingston in America and his wife Alida),I could track the daily lives and concerns of grandparents nine generations back through letters written over 46 years (1680 to 1726) of a 50 year marriage. Of course, that far back, we all have many ancestors, but it was clear to me from family traditions and the passing down of first and middle names that the lives of certain of the people whose correspondence I was reading had influenced the attitudes and assumptions I grew up with, for better or for worse, in very basic ways. I heard in their words the voices and inflections of my parents and older relatives and shared some of their attitudes and assumptions. In a strange way, these ancestors became my companions, expanding whatever sense of family remained to me after the deaths of my parents and one sibling.

This project has evolved during a time of discontent, deteriorating economic conditions and a growing distrust of the Federal government. Since the letters are for the most part very personal communications between husband and wife or siblings, they have provided me with a glimpse of the inner lives of some individuals who were there at the beginning and who in fact helped evolve the social contract that was codified in the US Constitution. My long term book project will take up some of the stories I have uncovered, flesh out the characters and attempt to take a look in the mirror they hold up before us. I have found much to admire in the people of my letters. Their saga is full of all the human virtues and weaknesses of any time, but their lives were much more dangerous and they were in general a very courageous lot. Ship wreck, captivity among the Iroquois, a narrow escape from the executioner, several critical battles of the American Revolution, even a buried pirate treasure that likely inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, these are all important elements in the actual story. Completing that project will take a while, but in the mean time, my encounter with the ancestors has made me think about present day America in a different light.

At the time of the Revolution, the Livingston clan, grand children and great grand children of Robert Livingston, the founder, were among the largest private land owners in North America. Robert, my great (x 7) grandfather, stepped ashore in Charlestown Massachusetts, in June of 1673 at the age of nineteen. He had grown up in Rotterdam where his father, John, a well known Scottish non conformist minister had taken refuge after being banished by the English King. An important seaport as well as a center of philosophical learning, Rotterdam seems to have provided Robert with a mercantile savvy learned on the waterfront more thoroughly than it inspired him to engage in the kind of theological disputes that had necessitated his father’s flight from Scotland. His youth in the city also gave him two native languages, Dutch and English, an asset he would put to good use in America. In the new world, his father’s reputation and his own charm and street sense landed him a job representing a Boston merchant in  Albany as a trader negotiating with the Dutch and Iroquois for the beaver and other furs that were so eagerly sought by Europeans. The future capitol of New York State, recently taken over from the Dutch by England, was essentially a frontier trading post, the major transhipment point north of Manhattan. Across the Hudson, the great eastern forests rolled west into lands no Europeans had yet seen.

Thus began the story that my family papers first pick up in the year 1742 in a letter from Robert (the grandson) to his wife Margaret. This latter Robert, known as “The Judge”, died in 1775 just as the war was heating up, but despite his conservative nature, he was an ardent supporter of the rebel cause as was his aged father who died in the same year, according to family tradition, after receiving an exaggerated account of the colonists’ defeat at Bunker Hill. Supposedly, the news so distressed him that he took to his bed and died a week later. As a prominent member of the Stamp Act Congress, Robert the Judge had been an early spokesman for two very important principles: colonists should not be taxed by a government in which they had inadequate representation; nor should they be threatened with imprisonment or other such punishments for alleged crimes without a trial by jury. The Judge believed these were the rights of all English subjects, and even the legitimacy of the Crown itself depended on the King’s commitment to an Englishman’s basic rights. Listen to some of the grievances enumerated in First Continental Congress’ Petition to the King, a document to which Judge Livingston had contributed:

A Standing Army has been kept in these Colonies ever since the conclusion of the late war, without the consent of our Assemblies; and this Army, with a considerable Naval armament, has been employed to enforce the collection of Taxes.

The authority of the Commander-in-Chief, and under him of the Brigadiers General has, in time of peace, been rendered supreme in all the Civil Governments in America.

The Commander-in-chief of all your Majesty’s Forces in North America, has, in time of peace, been appointed Governour of a Colony.

The charges of usual offices have been greatly increased; and new, expensive, and oppressive offices have been multiplied.

The Judges of Admiralty and Vice Admiralty Courts are empowered to receive their salaries and fees from the effects condemned by themselves.

The Officers of the Customs are empowered to break open and enter houses, without the authority of any Civil Magistrate, founded on legal information.

The Judges of Courts of Common Law have been made entirely dependent on one part of the Legislature for their salaries, as well as for the duration of their commissions.

Humble and reasonable Petitions from the Representatives of the People, have been fruitless.

The Agents of the People have been discountenanced, and Governours have been instructed to prevent the payment of their salaries.

Assemblies have been repeatedly and injuriously dissolved.

‘Commerce has been burthened with many useless and oppressive restrictions.

Duties are imposed on us for the purpose of raising a Revenue; and the powers of Admiralty and Vice Admiralty Courts are extended beyond their ancient limits, whereby our property is taken from us without our consent; the trial by jury, in many civil cases, is abolished; enormous forfeitures are incurred for slight offences; vexatious informers are exempted from paying damages, to which they are justly liable, and oppressive security is required from owners before they are allowed to defend their right.

The apprehension of being degraded into a state of servitude, from the pre-eminent rank of English freemen, while our minds retain the strongest love of liberty, and clearly foresee the miseries preparing for us and our posterity, excites emotions in our breasts which, though we cannot describe, we should not wish to conceal. Feeling as men, and thinking as subjects, in the manner we do, silence would be disloyalty.

This document lays out issues which are often raised today by those who distrust government: militarized force being used against citizens, burdensome bureaucracies, unfair taxes, corrupt judges, punishments meted out by the authorities without fair trials, warrant-less searches and the privacy of citizens invaded by government. This largely forgotten document is a kind prelude to the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

The last of my letters from the Judge is worth quoting as well:

New York, May 3, 1775

My dear,

Since my last by Robert, this town has been in continual confusion, Mssrs Sears and Lamb calling out the people almost every day to the Liberty Pole. On Thursday I think it was they called out the people and many of them in arms, to whom they proposed to shut up the port and this was immediately done by obliging Mr Eliot to deliver them the keys of the custom house. The next day they were alarmed by the intelligence they had from Philadelphia that Oliver Delancey and John Watts had wrote letters home very unfriendly to the liberties of the country and so enraged were some that they actually charged their pieces in order to shoot them; however by the interposition of numbers the ferment was allayed and now has quite subsided by the affidavits they have published. By the (illegible) to abide the direction of the county committee of the Provincial and Continental Congress we have got now into a regular kind of government and the power of our demagogues are at an end. You’ll say what have I to do with all this? Why do you not write of your own affairs? Why don’t you come up? I have large accounts to pay and want to receive some money. I have had a man with me about the water late and I expect him again very soon. I must meet today about the division of Camden. Salt Peter I can get none. I hope you are not uneasy at these troublesome times. We are in the hands of God. To him let us trust all our concerns. He that places his confidence in Him He will not forsake. Various are the accounts we receive of the action at Boston, so various that it would seem very tedious to mention the many ways it is told. But I think it most certain that the regulars were beat, beat by much inferior numbers. That they marched 48 miles in twenty four hours and that they are at last convinced that the Yankees will fight. The American Army have encamped from Boxborough to Cambridge and are so near to General Gage’s lines on the Neck that the sentries speak to each other. I’m afraid I shan’t get from hence till Saturday.

God bless you

Your most affectionate Husband

Robert R Livingston

The reference to salt peter is interesting since I have learned elsewhere that the Judge invested some of his considerable resources into producing gun powder for the American patriots. He died suddenly, however, in December of that year, less than two weeks before his son in law, Montgomery, was felled by a blast of grapeshot as he stormed the lower barricades of Quebec City in a raging blizzard. Death was a larger presence in every day life, to say nothing of war, in the 1700s and religion, as this letter illustrates, was still the foundation on which many people constructed their philosophies. The Judge’s remarks about getting into a “regular kind of government” more than a year before the Declaration of Independence demonstrate the strong drive towards self rule that he and his political allies felt.

To the more skeptical men of the Enlightenment or the many ragged troops who were more comfortable in a tavern than a church, the illusion of control that permeates our modern media and the minds of our “elite” would have seemed laughable. Moreover, white America was mainly populated by protestants, whether English, Scotch Irish or Huguenot, heirs to the reformation, to Calvinism and the kinds of controversy that had sent John Livingston to Holland. Whatever authority the King might have, the individual met God and the larger questions of existence head on, unmediated by the authority of priest or state. Add to this the model of Republican Rome, which the classically educated upper classes revered in both England and America, mix in some of the Yankee Independence which helped the first farmers of the Northern colonies survive, look back to 17th century revolutions in England, Glorious and not so glorious, kings beheaded and kings restored to the throne, and one starts to see the currents swirling in the matrix from which our country was born. If every individual has a primary relationship with God or with a code of honor, the state must serve the individual more than the individual must serve the state. The pursuit of happiness, spiritual included, is not the sole prerogative of kings and queens or hedge fund managers. The men who were the creators of our social contract, the Constitution, sought above all else to separate the powers of government, to disavow any system that offers a monopoly of force to those who come to power.  The militarization of civil authority, the loss of privacy and honestly representative government in matters of finance and justice, these were then and remain today the signs that a predatory ruling elite has emerged to cannibalize the society that supports it.

By the time the Declaration of Independence had been proclaimed to the public (with one Livingston, Phillip, a signer, and the Judge’s son, Robert, on the committee that approved Jefferson’s draft), the Livingston clan was a dominant political family in New York and New Jersey. What were they thinking? With vast land holdings, originally granted by the crown, they were among the richest families in the colonies; it was a far cry from being a prominent Whig party leader to advocating war with the mother country. Declaring Independence was a hanging offense. In the New York Public Library, I found one particularly poignant letter from Margaret Livingston, the Judge’s widow. She was writing to her son Robert on July 6 1776, and she feared she might never see him again. Revolution was a dangerous business. The Stamp act and other “intolerable acts” were a severe burden, but some of the money they were intended to raise had indeed defrayed the costs incurred in defending the colonies against the French and their Indian allies. The French and Indian war had been a very bloody conflict during which civilians were massacred. British rule was repressive, but as tyrants go, the King of England was pretty mild. Nevertheless, a high percentage of colonists were mad enough to fight, even among those who were privileged and had much to lose. Mad and determined to break free of the British Empire.

 I believe what they were feeling is well expressed in that Petition to the King. They could foresee what many today fear,  a”train of abuses” emanating from a government of the few: “Our minds retain the strongest love of liberty, and clearly foresee the miseries preparing for us and our posterity.” Coming from the old world in a time of religious controversy and repression, many of the colonists harbored a healthy suspicion of authority. In such a time, when religious dogmas were in dispute, they had had to act out of individual convictions and now they found themselves liberated in a rich landscape, full of opportunity and to a great extent emptied of its former inhabitants by diseases. I suspect that in the Livingstons, old Scottish enmities against the English, played a role, as they did among the many Scotch Irish who took up arms, and that the Livingstons  harbored a visceral distrust of the English aristocracy with all its unearned privileges. Though the family could trace its history back through the ranks of Scottish nobility, and by some accounts to Robert the Bruce (rebellion must be in the blood), young Robert, when he landed in 1673, arrived with only what he could carry yet ended up as one of America’s first frontier tycoons. Montgomery, an Irishman, had left England after he could reach no higher rank in the British army because he could not afford the costs of a higher commission. The best British soldiers could only advance as far as their class and purse would allow. Once married into the Livingston family, it was hard for him to resist the call to arms in spite of his personal friendships honed in combat with many British officers and his deep desire to live a peaceful life as a gentleman farmer. This Livingston populism was admittedly expedient and maybe a little ironic in view of their position as “lords of the manor”, but family honor, their religious heritage and Scottish blood demanded a certain amount of disdain for the British aristocracy. The revolution they promoted would ultimately guarantee the end of many of their own privileges.

Beyond anything else, what the Revolution achieved was a Constitution, a social contract that sought to codify a system of checks and balances which would prevent power from metastasizing and endangering the society as a whole. This was the goal implicit in the earlier Petition to the King. Too much power in too few hands always leads to destruction since it prevents a society from making necessary adaptations. It is always the group in power who most profit from the status quo. Resistance to change almost always comes from the top. It seems particularly notable to me that the American patriots were drawn from different social groups. Certainly the leaders were educated and mostly from wealthier backgrounds, but not exclusively, and they all understood how fortunes can change in a flash when the whims of the powerful dictate what happens in a society. John Livingston had fallen in and out of grace with the powers in London, traveling back and forth across the Irish sea. He even attempted to lead his flock to Massachusetts Bay in 1636 but was turned back by a mighty storm off the coast of Newfoundland that almost broke the ship apart, leaving them no choice but to struggle back to England with the prevailing winds. He died in exile. No wonder the revolutionary Livingstons, wealthy as they were, could imagine “miseries preparing” for them and their posterity. I think they shared a belief, common among the patriots, that they finally had a chance to break the pattern and set up a stable system that would not be undermined by the excesses of power. The whole Livingston clan in their separate dominions in New Jersey as well as New York, like it or not, threw in their lot with the common man, including those “sons of liberty” the old Judge had described as demagogues.

Montgomery’s iconic status as America’s fallen hero had something to do with this alliance between the classes. With nobility in his family background if not wealth, he had married into the most powerful clan in New York. Then two years into a happy marriage, he accepted the commission of brigadier general with grave misgivings and an ominous sense of personal doom. Yet, he brought back to life with total commitment the seasoned battlefield officer he once had been. He complained about his rag tag army of Yankee farmers who didn’t like to take orders, but he inspired them to a surprising string of victories largely by his personal example, never exposing his troops to more dangers than he did himself. The attack on Quebec City was an operation carried out by citizen soldiers, that would challenge the endurance of the toughest special forces of today. At two O’clock in the morning of December 31st, Montgomery led his men into a howling blizzard along a treacherous path by the St Lawrence. Pressing on over boulders and blocks of ice thrown up by the frozen river, they struggled against the horizontal lashing snow in a race against the dawn that would reveal them to the enemy. After cutting a hole through one of the barricades in the lower town, Montgomery was first inside and led the fatal charge against a blockhouse that guarded the narrow street they had entered. With his death the campaign fell apart. The bad news spread down the east coast as fast as news could travel. From Boston to Virginia the public had followed reports of his victories, and his death was a deep wound, but his sacrifice was not one that could be wasted on defeat, and it only stiffened the rebels’ resolve. Even in England Montgomery had many admirers, and he became the subject of much popular literature. Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, the most important revolutionary tract of the time, wrote a play called Dialogue between the Ghost of General Montgomery… and an American Delegate in a Wood Near Philadelphia in which the fallen general warns that making concessions to the British would be tantamount to accepting slavery. The lines below are typical of the many popular poems that appeared.

What means these tears that thus effusive flow

Why throbs each breast with agonizing Wo?

 Montgomery’s dead, a name to all rever’d

By patriots lov’d…by dastard tyrants feared.

More than 40 years later, in 1818, Montgomery’s body was exhumed and repatriated to the United States where it was re-interred at St Paul’s Chapel on Broadway amid the largest outpouring of public grief since the death of Washington. En route from Canada, the funeral ship sailed down the Hudson, past the home of Janet Livingston Montgomery, his aged widow, the sister of my two great (x4) grandmothers. Janet asked family members to leave her alone on the western porch from which she could clearly see the river. The ship stopped in front her home while a band played the the dead march and an honor guard fired a salute. When, after some time, her companions went to check on her, they found the old woman unconscious lying on the floor, having fainted dead away. She had never remarried and had spent a lifetime keeping alive the flame of her husband’s memory. Among my documents is a mid nineteenth century copy of the letter she wrote to General Horatio Gates, refusing his offer of marriage. The florid poetic language, these scenes that could have been crafted by some author of Gothic romances, it all seems so impossibly remote from modern America, but it is not really that far back in time, and the issues around which the revolutionary patriots rallied are familiar today.

The United States of 2014 may be powered by technology that the Clermont Livingstons could not have imagined, but they would recognize in the actions of our present government policies akin to those of the British elite and its military muscle. They and their revolutionary contemporaries saw certain key principles as the only reliable bulwark against the cycles of destruction which had characterized European history. They hashed it out in the Constitution. There were some basics required if the consent of the governed was to remain the underlying foundation of government: the right to be free from unwarranted searches, the right to have a sound currency produced and regulated by Congress, the people’s representatives, the right to not fight in undeclared wars, which often serve private interests rather than protect the people, the right to be regulated only by laws passed by one’s own representatives, the presumption of innocence and the right to be free of criminal charges and punishments except when meted out by a jury of one’s peers. The founders believed that these precepts had to be followed by a society if it was to remain free of the evils which come from unchecked power. When those wielding power ignore these fundamentals, they have become the enemy of the Constitution and hence of the United States.

Left wing right wing liberal, conservative, whatever one’s political philosophy, these are the basics of America’s social contract, where the constitutional rubber hits the road in real life, and every one of these basic ideas has been ignored and sometimes arbitrarily overruled by recent American administrations. Which begs the question: Is the government in Washington a legitimate US government or do we now inhabit the New American State, a post Constitutional entity, a stitched together alliance of corporate powers channeling their demands through the hollow bones of the former republic. If leading politicians simply act as if the words of the Constitution don’t apply to them, what is the basis of their authority? Nothing but brute force and the power of money? So much for the rights of man.

As we go down the Orwellian rabbit hole into which much of modern political discussion has descended, we can easily see how corruption has eaten away at the Constitution and our social contract. The modern politician, when seeking to void an underlying principle of law, resorts to semantic subterfuge, teams of lawyers and compliant judges. Declarations of war become irrelevant because we create a permanent state of war. “Terror” becomes the enemy, not some sovereign nation. Hence, the permanent warfare state emerges, allowing the country’s military power to be commandeered by private interests, whether energy companies or defense contractors. It is hard to imagine any state of affairs more repugnant to the founders. A private corporation, the Federal Reserve, takes over the control of the currency, its very name concealing a deception since the word “Federal” falsely implies that the institution is owned by the public. What happened to Congress’ role in issuing the currency? In 1913, a private banking cartel in secret meetings on Jekyll Island orchestrated the little understood legislation that created the Fed and the perpetually expanding debt machine of the modern financial system. Interest payments are siphoned off into the financial “industry” rather than the real economy of manufactured goods and services or the infrastructure that society needs. In this case, Congress’ abdication of its constitutional role can be seen in the inflating price of items on the grocery shelves and in the desolate abandoned blocks of squalor in Detroit.

To me the whole creation of the Federal Reserve seems of questionable legality. How did a Congress, whose authority comes from the Constitution acquire the right to turn over one of its constitutionally defined duties to another entity without voiding its own charter? Then we have the recent matter of the NSA’s spying on citizens. It is hard to imagine a greater invitation to evil and corruption than a system which allows unelected bureaucrats operating in secret to access the private communications of any individual. Small wonder that prior to Edward Snowden, whistle blowers alleging financial misconduct at the NSA were ruthlessly prosecuted in the name of national security. Then in a classic example of Orwellian doublethink, Snowden is accused of treason for defending the right to be free of unwarranted searches, one of the basic issues that motivated the American Revolution. The ironically named Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act add to the train of Constitutional abuses by effectively removing another of the guarantees of the Constitution, the right to a fair trial. Are these breaches of our rights necessary to protect us from threats the founders could not have imagined? Or are they a ruse to protect criminals within the government from the power the Constitution granted to all of its citizens, the power to hold government officials accountable for crimes against the common good? To quote Dylan, “Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings/Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and then they make you king.”

To me it seems that the answer is clear, that the technologies of repression have changed, but the crimes remain the same. And obvious that the hidden agenda behind the dismantling of the Constitution and various deceptions emanating from Washington is clearly the economic advancement of powerful groups with little actual allegiance to the United States and its inhabitants. It is no surprise that the destruction of the middle class, the deteriorating infrastructure and personal finances of Americans have been accompanied by the steady erosion of the Constitution. Of course, the most complicit politicians don’t repudiate our founding documents; they just ignore them and cover their tracks with the usual corrupt language of propaganda. How far down the rabbit hole we must go before we reach bottom is hard to tell. Are the government officials who signed off on the scientifically impossible account of 9/11 (as in three buildings exploding and collapsing just as in a controlled demolition because two were hit by airplanes), are these people actually traitors or just suffering from the extreme cognitive dissonance of modern times? Like the courtiers in the folk tale who happily talk about the naked emperor’s clothing, are they able to see without seeing? I don’t know but I do fear that our country, born in the Age of Reason, may fall apart finally in an age of treason.

My ongoing excursion into the past has made me proud of my country’s history but very fearful for the future. I am admittedly not an objective party. I am not an historian. I am entirely prejudiced by a desire to see in these stories an alternative to the drab narcissism of strip mall America, of “reality TV” and the incessant inanities of the corporate media’s talking heads. I am tempted to attribute my own problems to the evils of the empire and not accept responsibility for those I have caused myself, and a journey up the Hudson Valley in the 1700s is a fine escape indeed. I hoped to find in these older generations some inspiration and encouragement, proof that some political movements could have really be born of noble intentions. Nevertheless, I honestly do think the people I have encountered by opening that box of letters were by and large decent and courageous. Some of them were slave owners who had the prejudices of the age, but one, Elizabeth, the wife of Francis Lewis, signer of the Declaration, risked her own health to insure the religious rights of a slave who had worked for her for many years, and he in turn had risked his own safety to smuggle supplies to her while she languished in a British prison. We are all trapped to some extent in time, and these people lived in an age when much of the world was unknown. Eventually, their revolution would help lay the groundwork for the abolitionists.

Yes, only men could vote, but the letters I have seen between spouses express a kind of love and respect between partners that one does not often see today. Clearly the religious convictions of Judge Robert Livingston and his wife Margaret did not dampen the passionate love they felt for each other. I have little doubt how the Judge would feel about bureaucrats in the NSA being able to access his private communications. Nor do I doubt how Richard Montgomery would feel about drone strikes in Pakistan that have destroyed wedding parties in an undeclared war. Hold all the political correctness and liberal mea culpas. I believe our country was founded by some extraordinary people at an extraordinary moment in history and that we are very much in danger of disgracing our heritage irredeemably. They gave us the Constitution because they knew how flawed we humans are and will remain, not because they were saints but because they wanted a level playing field for their own ambitions and the pursuit of happiness.

To look at our present dilemma with the aid of a modern metaphor: the founders left our society with an operating system composed of three branches of government, but the system has been infected, the internal instructions disrupted by the viruses of deceitful language and and corrupted codes. Now the whole system is at risk, frozen up and unable to respond to the very real threats that do exist. The currency declines as digital dollars prop up Wall Street balance sheets but do not pay for real improvements in infrastructure or increase the material productivity of the country. Normal folks are scanned and searched at airports and have to fear that their most private lives are being monitored if not by government officials, by companies looking to influence their spending patterns. The treasury is depleted by uncounted billions of defense dollars and entanglements in foreign often engineered conflicts, but the “security state” is helpless and silent as a plume of radioactivity from Fukishima uncoils through the Pacific ocean, heading towards the west coast like some mythic dragon of cosmic proportions.

George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States in New York City on April 30, 1789. Chancellor Robert Livingston, son of the Judge, the “Robert” mentioned in the letter quoted above, swore in the new president. Curiously, at the last minute, the presiding officials realized that there was no bible handy on which Washington could place his right hand, so someone was dispatched quickly to the Masonic Hall to fetch one. They had, however, carefully prepared the oath this first president as well as our most recent one was required to take. It is written in clear simple language and needs no army of lawyers to tell us its meaning.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

SPREAD THE WEALTH AROUND

6 comments

Posted on 23rd January 2014 by AWD in Economy

A few of Obama’s mentors and though leaders have written a new book. Truly scary stuff. Let’s hope they run out of other people’s money before their ideas and plans come to pass.

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Nightmarish Blueprint for ‘Socialist USA’

January 22, 2014 By Sean Long

Convicted cop-killer, communist, and a radical terrorist call capitalism ‘cancer’ and plan to ‘replace’ it.

Marxist leftists have prepared a nightmarish blueprint for American socialism in a new revolutionary “book of imagination.”

The new book, “Imagine Living in a Socialist USA,” was edited by Frances Goldin who praises “life-enhancing socialism” in the preface. The 281 page manifesto showcases 31 utopian essays written by dangerous criminals, prominent liberals, and self-described communists – all for just $10.11.

It imagines a “free” and “enlightened” socialist United States, promoting radical notions such as eliminating prisons and creating mandatory worker-owned businesses. More dangerously, it details “how to get from where we are to where we want to be,” and the authors seem determined to destroy “rapacious” and “cancerous” capitalism, by revolution if necessary.

The new book is stocked with pieces featuring Bill Ayers, Michael Moore and even Mumia Abu Jamal. It’s a perfect fit for Karl Marx’s library and brought together calls for establishment of grade and competition-free schools and the greatest hits of terrible Occupy Wall Street demands into a strident call for “the Third American Revolution.”

Here, are some of the most extreme and famous among this group of radicals and liberal journalists:

Joel Kovel Demands Revolution to Kill Capitalist ‘Cancer’

Joel Kovel’s piece makes no pretense about its radical aims, complete with a Marxist slogan in the first paragraph: “working men of all countries unite!”

The author and anti-Israel firebrand invoke environmental hysteria over issues such as climate change, asserting that “our obligation is to remake society from the ground up in the service of life. If this be read as a demand for revolution, so be it.”

Socialism, he claims, would foster a society where humans will organize their economy in accordance with environmental demands. Kovel certainly rejected capitalism calling it “a kind of metastasizing cancer, a disease that demands radical treatment – revolutionary change.”

Cop-Killer and Former Fugitive Advocate the End of Prisons

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer, and Angela Davis, former leader of the Communist Party U.S.A, worked together to pen a bizarre essay on crime. It begins by asserting “The concept of ‘crime,’ like much that we today take for granted, is a sociopolitical construct.”

The authors’ objections to prisons fit well into their colorful biographies. Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 of shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in the back. His case became a hot-button political issue for radical liberals, including this book’s editor who described a life goal as “to free Mumia Abu-Jamal from the bars that constrain him.” Free Mumia T-shirts have long been fixtures of the protest landscape.

Davis, for her part, was implicated in a 1970 courtroom shootout, though she was found not-guilty after spending three months on the run. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev awarded her the Lenin Peace Price in 1979.

These two radicals advocate nothing less than the complete dismantling of the prison system. They argued that a socialist United States would “end mass incarceration by prison abolition.” While you may be wondering what they think would suffice to stop crime, they advocate a system which “brings the offender and the victim together to talk to each other.”

Yes, let’s force victims to engage in dialogue with their attackers.

Bill Ayers Claims American Nationalized Schooling a Failure of Capitalism

No socialist treatise would be complete without the violent terrorist and self-described “communist” Bill Ayers. In his essay, Ayers advocates a radical change to the education system which would eliminate “the laborious programs of sorting the crowd into winners and losers through testing and punishing, grading, assessing, and judging.”

For Ayers, education has become a capitalist organization which has less to offer “an inquiring mind” than the “city dump” or “a street corner.” The problem, he says, is that capitalism encourages us to “think of education as a product like a car or a refrigerator.” He supported completely dismantling the education system, in favor of a poorly defined system without grades that instead focus on “full human development, enlightenment, and freedom.”

He never addresses the fact that public education in the United States is run by the government, though he blamed “a merry band of billionaires” for pushing public schooling reforms.

Bill Ayers was a founding member of the openly communist and revolutionary Weather Underground in 1969. Ayers has admitted to facilitating a series of anti-war bombings while a member of this organization.

Paul Le Blanc Explains How America is Ready for Revolution

Le Blanc, a historian at La Roche College, examines how a contemporary socialist revolution would fit into the revolutionary history of the United States. He views both the American Revolution and the “Second American Revolution” (Civil War) as times when progressive forces destroyed unjust power structures in America.

He promotes another revolution, saying “Many U.S. socialists have argued that we must undertake a third American revolution that would end the economic dictatorship of capitalism and establish rule by the people over our economy.”

He proceeds to explain how the American working class has become dissatisfied with the status quo and how socialist activists can begin to prepare for a revolutionary movement. According to Le Blanc, now is a particularly fruitful time for revolution, as the inequality of wealth provides “fantastic potential for socialist transformation today.”

Michael Moore Hopes for an Unstoppable Occupy Wall Street … In 2011

Michael Moore, the prominent lefty filmmaker, did not write on original article for this book. Instead, Goldin selected a 2011 article, which Moore wrote to promote the then newly formed Occupy Wall Street movement. Moore promotes the typical OWS slogans, alternating between platitudes about “a truly free, democratic and just society” and hard-line leftist legislation, like carbon reduction, confiscatory taxes, and a massive welfare state.

Almost sadly, he ends this proposal with an optimistic call to arms, stating “Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped.”

How did that work out for him?

– See more at: http://cnsnews.com/mrctv-blog/sean-long/cop-killer-communist-terrorist-pen-nightmarish-blueprint-socialist-usa#sthash.dVvL9Mda.B07jDdO2.dpuf

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STAY CLOSE TO YOUR KIDS

43 comments

Posted on 21st January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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Even seemingly perfect lives are not perfect. You never know what is happening inside the minds of young adults. Stay connected or risk losing them.

University of Pennsylvania track star jumped to death over grades: Family friend

Madison Holleran, 19, was stressed about her 3.5 GPA in the weeks before she jumped from a parking garage in Philadelphia on Friday, the friend said. The freshman’s tragic death stunned friends and family in her hometown of Allendale, N.J.

By AND / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Madison Holleran, 19, a star member of University of Pennsylvania’s track team, died after she apparently jumped off a parking garage in Philadelphia on Friday.

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Madison Holleran, 19, a star member of University of Pennsylvania’s track team, died after she apparently jumped off a parking garage in Philadelphia on Friday.

A beautiful and brainy University of Pennsylvania track star jumped to her death from a parking garage Friday after stressing out over grades, a family friend revealed Monday.

Madison Holleran — a freshman at the Ivy League school who hails from Bergen County, N.J.— made dinner plans and sent messages to friends without a hint she was feeling suicidal, said family friend Bob Weckworth.

“People talked to her within hours of her act of suicide and there were no red flags, warning signs, nothing,” he told the Daily News from the family’s Allendale home.

The 19-year-old was majoring in philosophy, politics and economics at University of Pennsylvania.

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The 19-year-old was majoring in philosophy, politics and economics at University of Pennsylvania.

“This kid didn’t have a boyfriend. There were no drug issues. There were no mental health issues in her background. It was just the last two, three weeks where they saw a change in her,” said Weckworth, a friend of Madison’s father, James Holleran. “Something snapped.”

RELATED: PHILANTHROPIST WHO JUMPED TO HIS DEATH LEAVES $2 MILLION TO ASSISTANT

Cops said Madison, 19, jumped from a Philadelphia parking garage at 7 p.m. Friday. It was not clear Monday if she left a suicide note.

A makeshift memorial at the scene where Holleran died after jumping from a parking garage in Philadelphia on Friday.

Mickey DeLorenzo for New York Daily News

A makeshift memorial at the scene where Holleran died after jumping from a parking garage in Philadelphia on Friday.

The death of the teen — who won numerous athletic awards as a student at Northern Highlands Regional High School in New Jersey — left her friends and family stunned.

She left a flood of photos on her social media accounts showing her smiling with friends. One posted on Instagram just an hour before her death shows a beautiful image of Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square at sunset.

“She got a 3.5 her first semester, and I think just the high expectations that she put on herself was that that’s just not acceptable,” Weckworth said.

The Philadelphia parking garage where Holleran jumped to her death Friday.

Mickey DeLorenzo for New York Daily News

The Philadelphia parking garage where Holleran jumped to her death Friday.

RELATED: GIRL SLAMS INTO TRAIN TRYING TO COMMIT SUICIDE

When she came home over Christmas break, she was a changed person, he said.

“She was not happy at Penn, but the parents had told her then, ‘Don’t go back. We’ll transfer. We’ll look at other schools. There’s no reason to go back, it’s OK,’ ” he said.

It was not immediately clear what may have prompted the teen —  a star athlete in her hometown of Allendale, N.J. — to jump to her death.

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It was not immediately clear what may have prompted the teen —  a star athlete in her hometown of Allendale, N.J. — to jump to her death.

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said Madison’s death left the campus “deeply saddened.”

“She was bright and well-liked with an incredible future ahead of her,” Gutmann said in a statement.

Holleran posted this picture of Rittenhouse Square to her Instagram account about an hour before she jumped to her death on Friday.

Instagram

Holleran posted this picture of Rittenhouse Square to her Instagram account about an hour before she jumped to her death on Friday.

Steve Dolan, Penn’s director of track and field-cross country, said Madison’s teammates were crushed by the news.

“We will always carry her in our hearts,” Dolan said.

The school announced that formal recruitment for sororities would be postponed out of respect for Holleran, who was participating in the events.

Holleran — who was named by the Star-Ledger to the all-state girls soccer and track teams last year — was majoring in philosophy, politics and economics, NJ.com reported.

“As our school community mourns the loss of Madison, we extend our love and prayers to the Holleran family as they grieve, and we respect their privacy during this extremely difficult time,” Joseph Occhino, principal of Northern Highlands High School, said in a statement.

[email protected]

 

REAL BALL BUSTING

13 comments

Posted on 18th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Phila. Police Commissioner Says January 7th Street Incident Remains Unclear

(Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey gestures toward a video replay of an incident that took place January 7th near Broad and Girard.  Photo by Mike Dougherty)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey did his best today to address an incident in which there are more questions than answers.

According to a published report, a 16-year-old boy who is a straight-A student at Mathematics, Civics & Sciences Charter School suffered a ruptured testicle during a patdown by police at 15th and Girard on January 7th.

The boy, Darrin Manning, underwent emergency surgery the next day at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

However, police commissioner Charles Ramsey says the boy and his family have yet to file a formal complaint and have yet to speak with the police department’s Internal Affairs division about the incident.

“We want to know what happened,” Ramsey said today.  “This is a young man with no history in terms of negative contact with the law.  My understanding is he is a good student.  I don’t know what took place, and I’m not in a position to say at this point in time because I don’t have all the facts.”

Ramsey showed reporters video of the incident from a police camera.  But the coverage is intermittent because the camera had been set to automatically pan back and forth across the intersection every ten seconds.

From what was shown, it looked like a routine patdown and struggle between a pair of officers and a young man.

Ramsey says the abuse accusations are in media reports.

“An allegation as I read it in the paper, the boy hasn’t said anything to us officially. So I’m only going… this is third party.  So take it for what it’s worth. I don’t know.  This is coming through someone else who apparently spoke to him and then wrote about it. Okay?” Ramsey said.

“Is that during the course of a search, he was grabbed by the genitals and there was a yanking that took place.  And according to what I’m also hearing from a medical report is that a testicle was ruptured.  Now how that took place, when it took place, who may have been involved… and I don’t know the answer to any of that.  And again, this is through other sources.  This is not the result of a statement.  We need a statement.  We need to know what happened.  And the person best suited to tell us that is the person who was injured,” Ramsey said.

In that report, the teen says a female officer is the one who searched the boy. Ramsey has pulled one female officer from the street until Internal Affairs completes its investigation.  In the video, it appears she wasn’t even involved in the struggle with the boy.  She is seen keeping passersby from getting too close to the tussle.

The teen is now facing three misdemeanor charges, including resisting arrest. Police say they’ve tried to speak to the victim’s family, but they refuse to comment as advised by their lawyer.

Eyewitness News spoke to the teen’s lawyer, who says the family will speak only if the charges are dropped.

Meanwhile, Ramsey says anybody who witnessed the incident is asked to call police to help them piece together the facts.  But most of all, he just wants the boy to speak with police and tell them his side of the story.

Contrarian​s’ Wildest Dream Coming True

6 comments

Posted on 15th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

Contrarians’ Wildest Dream Coming True

By Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst

As most readers know, Doug Casey’s most notable characteristic as an investor is his highly successful contrarian nature. It’s how he bagged some of his biggest wins—not just doubles and triples, but 10- and 20-fold returns.

There’s only one way to realize these kinds of gains: You must buy when the asset is out of favor. Buying an investment that has already run up is at best chasing momentum and at worst a portfolio wrecker.

So, what’s the greatest contrarian investment today? Consider this pictorial data…

At the end of 2013, the sector with the highest level of pessimism, as measured by SentimenTrader, was the gold industry. It actually registered “zero” in mid-December.

Meanwhile, price-to-earnings ratios of the 15 largest gold producers are at their lowest level in 14 years, and less than half what they were when the bull market got under way in 2001.

The ratio of gold to the S&P 500 Index is currently at 0.66, its lowest level since the market meltdown of 2008.

The next chart, from our friend Frank Holmes at US Global Investors, measures gold’s 60-day percent change in standard deviation terms. It shows the metal’s actual gain or loss in relation to its average price change—and it’s never been this low.

Another chart from US Global Investors demonstrates that last year’s decline in the Philadelphia Gold and Silver Index (XAU) was the greatest on record, and further, that consecutive annual declines are rare. The XAU is one of the two most-watched gold stock indices in the world, and in 30 years it’s never had a losing streak of more than three years.

Also, JPMorgan noted last week that speculative positions in gold (defined as net longs minus shorts) dropped to record lows at the end of 2013.

(Source: Zero Hedge)

Finally, the XAU/gold ratio is at its lowest point in history, and the HUI/gold ratio—the other major gold stock index—shows that gold stocks are now cheaper than they’ve been since the beginning of this secular bull cycle in 2001.

Of course, just because something is cheap today doesn’t mean it will soar tomorrow. But given gold’s historical role as money, butted up against monetary recklessness today, the outcome seems all but certain.

As Casey Editor Kevin Brekke recently put it: “We are in this sector because of our belief that monetary and fiscal excesses have consequences. The only variable is the timing. We may not know where we’re going in the short term, but the long term is inevitable.”

And right now, some of the most successful resource speculators and investment pros are seeing the early hallmarks of a turnaround in the gold sector—which makes this the best time to invest in the yellow metal as well as top-quality, undervalued gold mining stocks.

New to the gold market? Don’t despair: the FREE 2014 Gold Investor’s Guide, a Casey Research special report, gives you all the basics on precious metals investing. Click here to get it now.

MORALLY BANKRUPT

22 comments

Posted on 15th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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This is why I continue to no longer support the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. I will never give them another dime of my money. The Catholic Church is the richest entity on the planet. They own more real estate than any other organization in the world. They own works of art worth billions. The hierarchy of the church knew for decades about the sexual abuse of children at the hands of pedophile priests. They covered it up. They allowed priests to be moved to other parishes and continue their deviant behavior. They allowed the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent children to be destroyed. They have used the statute of limitations to avoid prosecution. They have paid off families, while still keeping priests protected. The cover-ups continue. The Philadelphia Cardinal used church funds to pay the bail for a convicted priest a few weeks ago. That priest was responsible for re-assigning known pedophiles to other parishes. The Cardinal is also selling off all the Catholic owned nursing homes to raise cash for lawsuits. He is disgusting human being.

Parishes across the country are now using bankruptcy laws to avoid their financial responsibility for the actions of their Cardinals, Bishops and priests. I find it revolting and evil. The Catholic Church has the money to pay for their sins. But the hierarchy of the church wants to retain their wealth, exert power and control over their flock. The new pope has shown promise, but until he purges the Catholic church of all these evil Cardinals, Bishops, and priests, I will not be part of their church.

Catholic Diocese Of Stockton Files Bankruptcy; Priest Sexual-Abuse Scandal Blamed

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Between lack of cash flows, insurmountable liabilities, an untenable pension funding, even insider fraud, we thought we had seen all the various reasons for filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. And then along came the Catholic Diocese of Stockton which announced that it would join its host city and seek bankruptcy protection “in the wake of the church’s sexual-abuse scandal.” As WSJ reported, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire said in a news release Monday that the diocese would seek bankruptcy protection Wednesday, explaining that reorganization was the only option for dealing with mounting legal costs related to abuse by priests. The bishop said the diocese has spent $14 million in legal settlements and judgments over the past 20 years dealing with abuse allegations, and doesn’t have funds available to settle pending lawsuits or address future allegations. The punchline: “Very simply, we are in this situation because of those priests in our diocese who perpetrated grave, evil acts of child sexual abuse.

In the Stockton diocesan bankruptcy, the parties will likely agree on a figure that the diocese would pay, in addition to potentially pulling in funds from insurers. However, the diocese says it holds “relatively little property and assets.” Other holdings, including schools, parishes and several parcels of land, are incorporated separately.

And so the Stockton Catholics became the 10th US Diocese after Milwaukee; San Diego; Spokane, Wash.; Davenport, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Tucson, Ariz.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Wilmington, Del.; and Gallup, N.M. to file bankruptcy. In addition, the Christian Brothers Institute, which operates Catholic schools and orphanages, also filed because of sexual abuse liabilities.

The Chapter 11 filing would halt pending litigation against the diocese and likely would ultimately allow it to discharge liabilities stemming from sexual-abuse allegations by setting up a trust to compensate victims. The diocese said it hopes to arrive at a resolution with victims and insurers through the process.

 

Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the bankruptcy “problematic on a lot of different levels,” noting that it would let the diocese avoid future civil cases.

However, while the local catholics’ financial woes may be put on temporary hold, their civil troubles are only starting:

Separately, a grand jury Monday indicted a former priest with the diocese, Michael Eugene Kelly, and a warrant for his arrest has been issued. Calaveras County authorities are seeking Mr. Kelly’s extradition from Ireland to face charges of three counts of lewd and lascivious conduct on a child, and one count of oral copulation with a child. Mr. Kelly faces 14 years in prison if convicted.

Not surprisingly, the Catholic church which itself is embroiled in numerous financial scandals recently, was unable to come to the Diocese’s rescue even though it has already paid out an estimated $2.2 billion to cover settlements, therapy for victims, support for offenders, attorney fees and other costs, according to a report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

And with this filing, we are fairly confident we have seen every possible bankruptcy filing reason.

ADMIN HITS GRAND CANYON SIZE POTHOLE, BLOWS A TIRE ON THE 30 BLOCKS OF SQUALOR & LIVES TO TELL THE STORY

75 comments

Posted on 15th January 2014 by Administrator in Economy |Politics |Social Issues

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It’s sure lucky I got four new tires last week during my annual car inspection. I wouldn’t have wanted to blow an old tire in the massive pothole at 34th and Girard Avenue. Last night I was making my normal hour long trek home, following my same route through the 30 Blocks of Squalor and making a left turn onto Girard Avenue at 34th Street. I’ve made the same turn from the same lane hundreds of times over the last seven years. It was dark, foggy and raining last night. You wouldn’t expect the bankrupt city of Philadelphia to have proper lighting at a huge intersection pictured below.

As I made my left turn, all of a sudden, I hit the biggest invisible fucking pothole known to mankind. My tiny little Honda Insight was almost swallowed whole by this crater in the road.

I bellowed SON OF A BITCH!!! at the top of my lungs. My next thought was, please God don’t let me have a flat tire on the 30 Blocks of Squalor as I’m about to go onto the Schuylkill Expressway. God was in a playful mood last night. My tire pressure warning light immediately came on. I had to make a split second decision. I’d be on the Expressway in another minute. The irony was that I was directly in front of the dreaded $28 million white elephant Zoo Parking garage that I have railed so much about. God was chuckling as he watched the panic in my eyes. My thoughts ran immediately to the headlines I see on the news every night.

I decided to pull into the Sunoco A-Plus gas station at 38th & Girard and start praying. The place was swarming with cars going in all directions. I was able to maneuver to the side of the building into a parking spot. I got out and heard the hissing of my deflating passenger side front tire. Decision time. I’m dressed in dress clothes and a tie. It’s raining and I’m the only white person in a 30 block radius. Do I ruin my clothes, get soaked, and risk my life by being out in the open? This is why I pay AAA that annual membership fee. I called AAA and got a nice lady who took down my info in order to dispatch a truck to my location. It was going to be an hour until the guy arrived.

The dispatcher lady asked if I was safe. I told her yes, even though I was thinking that I was stranded in one of Obama’s five PROMISE ZONES. Does that sound safe to you? I hunkered down in my car and tried to blend in. Luckily it was dark and foggy. Evidently this Sunoco station has a permanent crazy black guy who stands out front and whoops for no evident reason every few minutes. It is a little disconcerting to someone not from the hood. I just observed the comings and goings of the Squalorites from my disabled vehicle. I did not witness one white person the entire hour long wait. I did see Range Rovers, BMWs, and Cadillacs filling up during my stay. I don’t know if this is a black thing, but the parking lot was much like their neighborhood. No rules. Cars going every which way. People parking wherever they felt like it. I must have seen three or four close call accidents just in the parking lot.

I did have to take a piss, but I would have rather pissed my pants than go inside the mini-mart and use their bathroom. In my mind I was visualizing Otis Day and the Knights singing Shama Lama Ding Dong as I entered the mini-mart.

 

Bob, from AAA, arrived at 6:45 and assessed the situation. He said, “Yep, that’s a flat tire.” He proceeded to use real tools, not the dinky little crap supplied by Honda, to change the tire in about 10 minutes. I asked him if the spare would be OK to get me the 30 miles home. He didn’t instill confidence in me when he said “It should be good for 50 miles. Just don’t change lanes.” I gave him a nice big tip and he gave me some very wise advice – “Watch out for potholes.”

I tore out of that parking lot like a bat out of hell. The spare made a funny sound and the tire pressure warning light stayed on. As I got onto the Northeast Extension cattle shoot, with no place to pull over, warning lights about tire pressure started blinking. Jesus Christ, I really had to piss now. I just kept going and praying I could make the last 12 miles. God must have moved onto someone else, as I was able to make it home.

My wife thought the City of Philadelphia should be responsible for paying for my new tire. I just laughed. She found the City of Philadelphia Pothole Reporting website and typed in the location of the pothole with the comment “Car Swallowing Sized Pothole”. The city guarantees the pothole will be filled within 24 hours. Yeah right. They also guarantee that kids going to their schools will be educated. How’s that working out?

I don’t ask much from the city of Philadelphia. They extract 3.5% of my pay every week for their services to me. All I want is drive-able streets and stop lights that work. This seems to be too big a task for these union drones. I don’t even mind small potholes, but car swallowing potholes should be fixed immediately. Every day I hear the traffic report saying that stop lights at major Philadelphia intersections aren’t working. Water mains break every day, destroying streets, homes and businesses. Government is virtually worthless. They suck the life out of an economy and can’t even perform the most basic functions of a municipality.

I can’t wait to see if the pothole is repaired on my trip home tonight. If someone is fishing for carp in the pothole, I’ll have my answer.