Your good friend lives next door. He has a tree trimming service and is very rich. He's helped you financially for a very long time, and with his help, you're not wealthy, but you do okay financially.
This rich, good friend, who happens to be your neighbor, decides to trim a giant oak that towers over your house and his. You agree to the tree trimming, if he guarantees to pay for any cleanup because you don't have cleanup money. He agrees to your terms and even gets a permit from you to assure you that a cleanup will be taken care of.
In the process of trimming the mighty oak, part of the tree falls on your house. The costs of repairing your home are extreme. You can't afford to pay all of it, so you ask your friend to pay a portion of the repairs. Although you hate to make that request, you reason that he is rich and can afford the costs, and the bottom line? You can't remain in your home without his financial help. You need him to pay for a piece of the damage he caused.
Time goes by… a fairly long period of time… and your rich-good friend-neighbor doesn't volunteer to clean up, so you tell him you have no choice but to take the issue to court, if he won't help.
Is that fair on your part?
On the flip side, would it be fair on his part if he uses his extensive wealth and political clout to convince politicians, who he helped elect, to take action that would retroactively remove any law requiring compensation for situations like yours?
Have the oil companies not been our good friends? Did we not agree to work together so we could all benefit? Do we not see the unintended damage that could force us out of our homes and ruin our future but is partially responsible for doing just that?
I can find no one who believes future generations can live here if we don't find money to repair our wetlands, and we do not have enough money. So, if we can't afford the repairs do we abandon our businesses, our homes, our culture, our future? Do we leave South Louisiana?
Who pays for the house with the oak tree on top?
Really interested? Give these podcasts shows a listen
Make the lie simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. – Adolf Hitler
Why should we believe our leaders assurances concerning the proposed attacks on Syria? I don’t see enough reason or proof. Little things keep me suspicious. Why does the British Joint Intelligence Committee put the death tolls (due to Sarin gas) at 350? Our leaders say 1,429. How can the very top of America and Britain’s intelligence corps be so far apart?
On the 8th of August U.S. officials turned down an offer from Bashar al-Assad to allow U.N. inspectors into areas that were gassed. We said, no, it’s too little, too late. The quote was, “The evidence of chemical weapons would be significantly corrupted as a result of the regime’s persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days.” But, on the 1st of September, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “we know Sarin gas was used.” Only blood and tissue were analyzed. Analyzation takes two to four weeks. No soil samples were taken. New York Times, (Chemical Attack Evidence Lasts Years, Experts say) said scientists have discovered that Sarin, a deadly nerve agent, can be detected long after its use on the battlefield. You simply test the dirt, but we didn’t. The little things…
AND, big things…like the U.S. knew about the gas strike before it occurred. Foreign Policy Magazine (U.S. Had Intel on Chemical Strike Before It Was Launched) reported American intelligence had reports three days before the attack that chemical weapons would be used. The direct quote was, “we collected streams of human signals and geospatial intelligence that reveal regime activities that we assess were associated with preparations for a chemical weapons attack.” John Kerry said, it would be a moral obscenity to see the gas attack and not act. We reportedly saw it before it happened. There have been other gas attacks in Syria earlier this year. Would we not have been ready to stop another, especially when we knew it was coming?
John Kerry’s complete quote was, “the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable.” Does the “by any standard” apply to us? I saw children die from Napalm in Vietnam. We aided Saddam Hussein in the gassing of thousands during the Iran-Iraq war. Foreign Policy Magazine (Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He gassed Iran) reports that the U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history—and still gave him a hand. Hussein also gassed hundreds of Kurdish women and children. If a country had aided the German concentration camps with technology and intelligence, but did nothing to stop the slaughter, would it be absolved because it didn’t participate? By any standard would that be a defense?
But the force of American military brought to bear should have the desired results, right? No, not in Lebanon in 1983. U.S. warships shelled Beirut for days in support of the Christians fighting Muslims. In return they blew up our Marine base. The biggest loss of life of U.S. military personnel on a single day since WWII; 241 died.
What about Libya in 1986, after they bombed an American disco in Berlin? We conducted bomber raids, which tried to kill Muammar Gaddafi. In return, they blew up a Pan Am plane; 270 died. Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 blew up embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. President Clinton ordered missile attacks on Al-Qaida camps and a pharmaceutical factory. Little damage was done and Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden interpreted this as a lack of U.S. resolve to engage in a major confrontation. His belief led to the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen and a year later September 11th attacks on American soil; in total almost 3,000 people died. U.S. missile attacks have failed in Laos and Cambodia Beirut, Libya, Iran, Sudan Afghanistan Pakistan, Somalia and Vietnam.
If we are to believe our leaders how about a WAR TAX! Here is why we may need it… JOBS. If you read Business Pundit (The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers), you will see just a few of the companies that make billions and billions of dollars and create thousands and thousands of jobs for war. How many Washington politicians would be out of work, if all the companies making war had to lay off workers or close? The costs don’t end there. The Times of Israel (No-Fly Zone In Syria Could Cost $B A Month General Says) reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says creating a Syrian no-fly zone alone, could cost over a billion dollars a month and if the navy was involved, billions more.
When asked, our leaders will tell us the military budget is fractional compared to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but our leaders don’t speak of hidden costs. NBC News (Health-care costs for wounded vets to increase for decades to come) reports the V.A. spent $2.8 billion in 2012 alone and the cost will go up by $510 million this year. Costs over the next 30,40, 50 years will be hundreds of billions of dollars. We cannot (or will not) afford physically or financially to take care of our current war problems. We have a backlog of disability claims for 773,000 vets and the average wait is 125 days. Like the saying goes (and from a biting Onion satire piece, "Have plenty of money, a fresh, rested military—why not?”
As written in the Washington Post: (U.S. intervention in Syria: War for virtue) “God is on our side. Strangely enough, we keep losing. Since World War II we have failed to win any land war that lasted more than a week and that includes Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Ah, but those were all intended to be good wars, saving people from themselves.”
One final thought, how about Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia. Why didn’t-haven’t we interceded, when hundreds of thousands have been tortured, maimed, raped and killed. Wait for it...too yellow, too black?
How do you see the former government contractor who admitted to leaking information about massive surveillance programs?
If you say he’s a “traitor,” what personal belief do you base that conclusion? You believe it because the government told you so? Aren’t you in that vast majority that shows up in every national poll saying you don’t trust the federal executive division, congress and the courts? Pew Research says trust in government is at historic lows. But you trust them to collect your personal information?
When the government says, “Edward Snowden’s actions will cause deaths,” some ask how. The government says, “We can’t tell you.” When the government says Snowden has harmed our defense against terrorists, and some ask how. The government says, “We can’t tell you.”
If you stumble on the story of Brandon Mayfield you’ll find a former military man, lawyer, husband and father of three from Kansas. The F.B.I said they found his fingerprints in Madrid after terrorists bombed a commuter train. Brandon Mayfield had never been to Spain.
Mayfield’s family began to notice unlocked doors, screws taken out of home computers and a hard drive exposed. The FBI had been there, collecting bathroom DNA, nail clippings, cigarette butts and all computer information. The feds were there because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) gave them permission to do so.
You might have heard President Obama assure us that FISA protects against violations of our freedom by law enforcement agencies. Really? The president was talking about the same court that last year got 1,856 requests to from those protecting us and approved all 1,856 requests. Brandon Mayfield was wrongly imprisoned and terrorized by the government you trust/don’t trust, because of the FBI. The FBI used their huge database of us, to pull up a wrong name; Brandon Mayfield. How do we know? Spain told us so. Spain felt that the fact that Mayfield had never been to Spain made the fingerprint hard to believe. They checked around and found the terrorist that matched the fingerprint. Mayfield got out of prison. We paid him a $2 million dollar apology, but he said his family now lives with the threat of terror from our government….the same government that you trust/don’ trust. Pretty safe bet Brandon Mayfield is not one of those that says, “If I haven’t done anything wrong, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Let me guess. You’re saying that was an isolated incident. The head of the NSA said, “Snowden has caused irreversible damage to the security of America and our allies.” So, that ends the conversation and the debate. Continuance of such is a waste of time and energy. Why? Fear will trump privacy. Why do we have the first bi-partisan congressional chorus singing of the evils of Snowden when others who did the same are barely known? (Click HERE to read the USA Today article: 3 NSA Veterans: We told you so)
Fear trumps privacy. What member of Congress wants to be known as a Snowden defender when terrorists plant a dirty bomb, attack our utilities, or blow up a nuclear power plant? You think maybe an opponent could use that to get themselves elected to their seat? Fear will trump privacy. Those few of us that don’t trust our government will blunt that concern (or eliminate it) because we too fear terrorism. Fear will trump privacy, no matter what the debate. The debate, the conversation, have only one end game. We will allow and back the government that we trust/don’t trust in order to be protected against something that the government can’t tell us about.
There is also one other contradiction of trust/don’t trust. The only reason there is private information for the government to ask for is because we have volunteered it already to corporate third parties, corporations that track everything about us. We say that’s ok, because we want stuff in return. We want knowledge. We want world access. We have eliminated the conversation for which Edward Snowden says he sacrificed his world. Not because of trust/don’t trust. Not because of hero or traitor….because of fear.
There has been much debate about whether the hospitalized suspect in the Boston bombings should have been given his Miranda warnings as soon as possible. As we have seen in other terrorism cases, the knee-jerk reaction by the public and government alike is often to take measures that erode away at our protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Such is the case, once again. The FBI and DOJ say they are using the “public safety exception” as a legal way to interrogate the suspect without advising him of his Miranda rights to remain silent and his right to an attorney. I was joined today by Alan Dershowitz, one of the most renowned attorneys and legal scholars in the nation to discuss the case.
First off, what is the “Miranda warning?” In the1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court laid out six very specific warnings that police must give suspects in a custodial situation before they are interrogated: "The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him."
There are a few valid exceptions to the Miranda requirement, with the public safety exception (‘PSE’) being one of them. The 1984 case of New York, v. Quarles, the Supreme Court carved out this exception for situations “where concern for public safety must be paramount to adherence to the literal language of the prophylactic rules enunciated in Miranda." The court ruled that for statements gathered under the PSE to be later admissible in court, the questioning must involve a scenario "in which police officers ask questions reasonably prompted by a concern for the public safety."
Many of our listeners, and quite a few public officials, have said over the last week that the suspect not only should not be Mirandized, but actualy deserves NO typical constitutional protections, and should be tried by a military tribunal as an ‘enemy combatant.’ However, Dzhokar Tsarnaev is an American citizen accused of setting off bombs and murdering a police officer on American soil. Obama’s DOJ has repeatedly said that terror suspects arrested inside the U.S. should be handled within our criminal justice system. And, the White House announced today that there will not be a military tribunal.
Dershowitz told me in no uncertain terms that investigators should read the bombing suspect his rights as soon as possible in order not to jeopardize the case.
“They should give him his Miranda warnings, because there’s no public safety exception that’s applicable here,” Dershowitz said. “The police have told the people of Boston, ‘go about your business, we’ve got the two suspects, there are no bombs around.’ The public safety exception is designed not to gather information to prevent future crimes, but for immediate ticking-bomb situations.”
There appears to be a large amount of evidence implicating the two brothers in the bombing, including videos and photos. So, what’s the worry with not Mirandizing them right away?
“The reason is because they have to prove intention. It’s not enough to prove that he planted the bombs in order to be convicted of federal terrorism, which carries the death penalty,” according to Dershowitz. “They have to be able to prove that he intended to commit an act of terrorism. They may get that information from his statements that are un-Mirandized, and the courts may keep them out. This may deny them the death penalty.”
And, Dershowitz told me that it sets a very bad precedent.
“I think it expands the PSE beyond where it was intended by the courts, and it basically shows contempt for our constitutional rules, and an attempt to circumvent the Constitution. We can prosecute this man within the Constitution and within the Miranda rules, and I think we can do it successfully.”
I also asked Dershowitz why should we should be worried about a suspected terrorist's Miranda rights, when persons summoned before a federal grand jury in ANY case have zero rights.
"Well, it’s a terrible rule…They were never intended to be that by the framers of the Constitution. You have no rights in front of a grand jury,” Dershowitz said. “You don’t have a right to a lawyer in front of a grand jury. It’s awful, it’s really an inquisition.”
You gotta help me here. I don’t understand. Terrorists writing in their online magazine Inspire, claim they will force America into bankruptcy by detonating bombs that costs them hundreds of dollars, but costs us billions of dollars via continual increases in security. Terrorists call it "Death by a Thousand Cuts." (Foreign Policy magazine, 11-23-10, David Gartenstein-Ross.)
One of the terrorist bombs that we caught and defused on a UPS jet allegedly costs $4,200.00 for them to make and deliver. This initiated our first purchase of hundreds of body scanners and additional national security carrying a price tag of billions of dollars. Al Qaeda points to the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union because of their war in Afghanistan as evidence that they can do the same to America.
This is what I don’t understand. Why do we keep adding anymore security? Why don’t we eliminate the security we can’t afford… the security costs that are hurting all American industries? It’s called the “Friction Economy.” (The Friction Economy American business just got the bill for the terrorist attacks) and even TEN YEARS AGO, it cost us a minimum of $151 billion dollars a year! How much do you think it is today?
The odds of being on a plane which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 for over ten years. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000!
So what are the chances of being hit by a bomb at a marathon, a Super Bowl, or a Mardi Gras? Infinitesimal. So, why don’t we just go about our business and expand the economy with the money we would spend on security and not make the terrorists predictions (U.S. bankruptcy) come true?
I still don’t know, but I do have a suspicion...fear. Fear sometimes causes the human animal to do dangerous things, in order to avoid danger.
The photo above on the left is me in August of 2011. I was going through chemo to fight a life-threatening disease. I was bloated, overweight, and had no energy.
The photo above on the right is me, more recently. It's the product of living healthier and keeping the right attitude...and never, never, quitting.
We all have ups and downs. But please know that living healthier is more than just physical.
As I mentioned in my other blog today, Mr. Alan Watts, a counselor for young graduating students who still don’t know what to do with their degree or their lives. His concept--“it is better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” Please, indulge me for three minutes and listen to his talk. It’s perfect for the “Think Tank” process…I promise you, it’ll make every parent (and, hopefully, their children) think…
1.30.13 - How many of us worry about sending our children to universities…even if we’ve put the money away? Do you cringe like I do, when you hear reports that claim the cost of a college education may not be worth the price? My guess—the answer for most of you is YES.
Well, let’s explore the debate. First, let’s consider a very interesting approach by Mr. Alan Watts, a counselor for young graduating students who still don’t know what to do with their degree or their lives. His concept--“it is better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” Please, indulge me for three minutes and listen to his talk. It’s perfect for the “Think Tank” process…I promise you, it’ll make every parent think…
And how interesting; I just read a report in the New York Times by Milton Friedman, that expresses doubt that our current education system will deliver the future we need. In one paragraph I think Friedman points to the future problem that Mr. Watts may have the, or at the least the partial answer to the threat. Friedman asks, “How do we adapt? It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the right education than less, that we will need top development skills that are complementary to technology rather than one that can be easily replaced.” Friedman’s talking about technology takeover and how we must constantly change and educate ourselves just to keep up, or we become obsolete. More jobs, fewer people needed. But, what about jobs that robots and lower pay can't compete with…jobs we produce with our creativity…jobs that can't be exported?
I guess the immediate questions are simply this: if we have a child who likes horses, do we encourage them to open a dude ranch? If we have a child who loves to kayak, should we open a river guide tour group? Isn’t that what Mr. Watts is saying, you need a passion to find your bliss. You can wake up every day dying to get to work because you have a like that will make your very short life carry a rare state of bliss. Many times history points out a, like also attracts fame and fortune. So, if we encourage our children to make a living doing something they like, even if it means little or no college…could that a better pathway toward success?
At this point I don’t know if I have the parenting skills to know if the Watts line of action is a good idea. But I do know that Mr. Watts thinks in a direction I’ve never considered…and that, my friend, is the bottom line, of a Think Tank. I hope this makes you think too.
Garland@wwl.com - 2.18.13 Louisiana I love you, but you confuse me sometimes. You don’t want to pay any more taxes. You want a reduction in crime. You don’t trust government and law enforcement. BUT, you’re all for a system that does almost none of the above…It’s called THE WAR ON DRUGS.
Let’s take a look at the “benefits” of this on-going war:
1. You don’t want to pay more taxes. Well, yes, you do. You love the fact that we’re tough on crime. It costs a WWWWwhole lotta money, but that’s o.k., because we get?????
2. Reduction in crime. Oh wait, sorry, we’ve got the promises, but few results. It’s only been that way about 40 years, but we’re assured salvation’s coming every day.
3. You don’t trust government? Well, yes, you do. Who the hell do you think backs the plan that costs you so much in taxes?
4. You don’t trust law enforcement? Ohhh yes you do. You’ll back a system that has the potential to put your children in the world’s biggest prison system for a chemical addiction.
OK, given all the above…Your favorite conservative Governor must be making you feel schizophrenic. Here is Bobby Jindal’s latest headline: “Jindal seeks release for nonviolent drug offenders.” That’s right. Bobby Jindal will agree to “let some nonviolent drug offenders out of prison early if they complete an intensive treatment program." http://www.wwl.com/pages/15547262.php?contentType=4&contentId=12407071
Now, before you go calling him “Pyush-liberal-commie-Jindal,” how about we check to see if this idea has ever been implemented.
Portugal July 2001: Decriminalized every imaginable drug from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. . (Did not make legal…decriminalized. Distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense.)
Many thought Lisbon would become a drug-tourist haven. Others predicted usage rates among youths to surge. Studies from 2001-2007 suggest they were wrong on both.
Let’s compare Portugal’s decriminalization to the “benefits” of incarceration:
1. 17% reduction in HIV cases among drug users. Sounds like a reduction in health costs.
2. Drug use among adolescents declined.
3. Street value of drugs decreased. Sounds like a reduction in the kill-for-profit motive.
4. The number of drug addicts in Portugal was cut in half over the study period.
5. Police say that they’ve been freed from focusing on low-level users, which gave them the chance to focus on dealers and importers, the kingpins.
6. In the mid-to-late ‘90s, at the peak of the Portugal drug problem, about 1 percent of Portuguese were a problematic drug user, was hooked on heroin or some other drug. The studies show a drop of 50%, while the population has gone up about 10 percent.
But unlike conservative-liberal websites, let me direct you to the converse of this argument. NPR: “Mixed Results For Portugal’s Great Drug Experiment,” January 20, 2011. http://www.npr.org/2011/01/20/133086356/Mixed-Results-For-Portugals-Great-Drug-Experiment
According to this report the number of drug users in Portugal went down, but as of today have gone back up. The author gives a detailed report on both sides, but some evidence does suggest that when Portugal’s citizens are interviewed about their lifetime drug history they are more forthcoming because they know they won’t be prosecuted, thus an increase in honesty, not usage.
The fact of the matter is any arguments can be culled from the internet to fit your dogma. This website tries not to do that.
But let’s go back to lists. Are these really the “benefits” you want? Do you really not care to trade violence, incarceration and the attendant costs for addiction treatment?
Do you really believe law enforcement, when they trot out the media for a look see at the latest cache of weapons, drugs, and derelicts, and tell you this is evidence that the war on drugs is working?
Do you really think non-profit prison corporations and their behind-the-scenes power brokers are going to allow a reduction in crime that would allow a reduction in corporate-shareholder profits?
Now, explain this one to me. We are a society that said “hell no” to the prohibition of alcohol. After prohibition was lifted, you would think everyone would get drunk much more. The CATO Institute, specifically Policy Analysis No. 157, showed drinking declined after booze was made legal. We know that in large amounts booze often leads to violence and destructive activity. WE KNOW THIS, but we have no problem with its legality. We know that lots of people used to kill, wound and beat others during prohibition, but they don’t now (unless they’re drunk). WE KNOW THIS, but it’s still okay.
Now, it’s all right to put someone in a very expensive cave for smoking a plant or swallowing a pill. The plants and pills make one mostly stupid and sleepy. WE KNOW THAT non-violent drugs do make people kill, wound and beat others because of the profit. Is this okay, too?
We took the profit out of liquor. Drinking went down and they stopped the killing.
Now, we want to keep the profit in drugs for fear we will take more drugs while killing each other?
Does this make sense to you? In particular, that “while killing each other” part? Really?? Tell me how.
Saints fans are still understandably fuming about how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the whole "bounty" investigation into the team's pay-for-performance program. Fans and players alike maintain that Goodell never provided any evidence that there was any intent to injure other players. I still get angry calls and texts about it almost every day on the "Think Tank" by fuming Black & Gold fans.
It was cold comfort late in the season when former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of four current and former Black & Gold players. Though none of the players actually served any suspension time during their appeals, the whole saga was yet another off-field distraction for a team without their coach.
Now, Goodell is coming to New Orleans, as the biggest sports and media spectacle in the world gets ready to crank up. And many fans say they are far from "over it." On WWL's Facebook page and across other social media sites, many fans gleefully boast about what they would do if they had the chance to run into Goodell next week.
Really? I mean, REALLY?
We've seen what happens when fans in other cities are, to quote Hokie, "turds." Saints fans have told us of ugly treatment received on the road in some cities. And the enduring memory of the 2007 NFC Championship game is a Bears fan holding a sign reading, "Bears finishing what Katrina started."
Har-har. Very funny. 1,800 people died, and this clown stood grinning outside Soldier Field. The memories of those days and months still cause nightmares for many.
Look, it's impossible to transfer or transplant Southern Hospitality to other parts of the country. It's just not in their genes. Visitors from other parts of the country often give you a double-take when you say "Yes Sir" or "Yes Ma'm." For us, it's just part of how we were raised and how we live our lives. Tourists come to our region for our warm and open engagement, something many of them are sorely lacking in their hometowns.
There are practical, pragmatic reasons to not say something stupid or embarrassing to Roger Goodell. While he is in New Orleans, he will be tailed and trailed by a mob of media, waiting for *something* to happen with the locals. And any negative image (or videos) of locals dissing Goodell will wind up on the evening news, and will also likely go viral across the internet and social media.
We talked to Michael Bayham, the Saints fan who took the infamous picture in Chicago. And even he agrees it's time to move on.
"This game is far too important to this city and region," Bayham said. "I understand the frustration of fans, but I think Who Dats need to also remember the spotlight we're in this week."
The Super Bowl is an extremely rare opportunity to showcase a city's vitality in any year. This is the first one we've had since before Katrina, and it will be an unprecedented opportunity to let the world know just how far our city and region have recovered from one of the worst natural (and man-made) disasters in history.
So, those are the practical reasons not to act an ass around Goodell. But the basic, bottom line reason: If you do something stupid around Goodell, you will come across looking like that Bears fan in 2007, now and for years to come.
Tone down the rhetoric. Just like the Saints are more than just a football team to our area, this Super Bowl is more than just a football game. It would suck if one or two "fans" doing something stupid become the face of a city that has come so far in a few short years.