Friday, January 31, 2014

The Strong Humor of George Carlin

George Carlin interviewed by Jon Stewart

The Strong Humor of Jackie Mason

The following clip is one of the funniest moments in the full performance, The full show, The World According to Me, is on youtube.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

NSA, James Clapper, Snowden and Blackmail

Research Notes

James Clapper call for Snowden and accomplices to return NSA documents reads like a blackmail note. 

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm tired of blackmail notes and threats from corporations and the NSA. Give us your privacy, your money, your ideas, your children, your time, your labor. If you refuse, more than uncertainty may be your regret. If you refuse, we'll put you on a list. 

On the other hand, I'm for the return of the documents, but only as an exchange. The documents in exchange for the complete dismantling of the surveillance program on America's private lives.  And since the NSA can't be trusted, we might want to create a system of oversight to monitor its activities.

Here's the full article take from The Guardian

James Clapper calls for Snowden and 'accomplices' to return NSA documents

Director of national intelligence condemns NSA whistleblower in blistering testimony to Senate intelligence committee

James Clapper at Senate
James Clapper testifies before the Senate intelligence committee hearing on current and projected national security threats. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, has issued a blistering condemnation of Edward Snowden, calling the surveillance disclosures published by the Guardian and other news outlets a “perfect storm” that would endanger American lives.
Testifying before a rare and unusually raucous public session of the Senate intelligence committee that saw yet another evolution in the Obama administration’s defense of bulk domestic phone records collection, Clapper called on “Snowden and his accomplices” to return the documents the former National Security Agency contractor took, in order to minimize what he called the “profound damage that his disclosures have caused and continued to cause”.
Snowden has repeatedly said he acted alone in assembling and leaking a vast trove of information on the scope of US surveillance efforts, a conclusion also reportedly reached by the NSA’s official investigation into the Snowden leaks.
Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat whose questioning last March ended with Clapper lying to the panel about the deliberate collection of Americans’ data, pressed Clapper to give public answers on surveillance activities on American information “sent over the web or stored in the cloud” – references to NSA’s so-called “upstream” collection capabilities, which allow the agency to harvest data in transit. He also questioned Clapper on whether the NSA had conducted “warrantless searches” for “specific” Americans’ identifying information in its vast databases of foreigners’ internet content, an authority first reported by the Guardian.
“Can you tell us today whether any such searches have ever been conducted?” Wyden asked.
“Senator Wyden, I think, at a threat hearing, this would ... I would prefer not to discuss this and have this as a separate subject. There are very complex legal issues here, I just don’t think this is the appropriate time or place,” Clapper said.
Wyden extracted a promise from Clapper to issue a declassified answer in 30 days.
Backed by the leaders of several intelligence agencies – but not the NSA director, Keith Alexander, who was not present – Clapper claimed Snowden’s disclosures had left the intelligence community less able to detect terrorist activity. Those testifying were less definitive about any specific dangers to the US that might result from what Snowden did, more often describing it as an over-the-horizon concern.
“It certainly puts us at risk of missing something that we are trying to see, which could lead to [an attack],” said Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
“Terrorists and other allies have gone to school,” Clapper said, employing some of the most fervent language that the intelligence agencies have used publicly to describe Snowden’s disclosures. The impact “includes putting the lives of members, or assets of, the intelligence community at risk”, Clapper said.
The counter-intelligence capabilities of al-Qaida are “increasingly good and, unfortunately, I think they just have to pick up the paper or do a Google search on what’s been leaked”, said John Brennan, the CIA director.
Lt Gen Michael Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the “greatest cost” of the NSA disclosures was “unknown today, but [what] we will likely face is costs of human lives on tomorrow’s battlefield, some place we put our mil[itary] forces when we ask them to go into harm's way”.
This particular hearing, known as the Worldwide Threat briefing, was where Clapper did major damage to his reputation last March. Under questioning from Wyden, Clapper said the government did “not wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans, a lie for which he would apologize to the panel, though not before changing his story about what prompted it.
Clapper first said it was the “least untruthful” answer he could give publicly. Then he said he “simply didn’t think” of the correct claimed legal authority under which the mass data collection occurs.
President Obama has stuck by Clapper, a decision that foreshadowed his recent call to preserve the vast majority of the NSA’s bulk surveillance authorities while transferring its phone records database to the custody of an undefined private entity. But six legislators, led by congressman Darrell Issa of California, wrote to Obama on Monday in an effort to get Clapper fired.
“The continued role of James Clapper as director of national intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency,” they wrote, and were just as quickly rebuffed by the White House.
Clapper’s defenders have said that Wyden placed the director in an untenable position by publicly querying him about a secret program, making his options either to lie or to decline to answer publicly, which they say would amount to public confirmation of a secret intelligence activity.
But on Tuesday, Clapper, joined by Brennan, opted to state instead that it was better to discuss certain unconfirmed intelligence activities in a classified hearing, where most of the panel’s work is conducted. The panel, usually a bastion of support for the intelligence agencies on Capitol Hill, featured sharp questioning and internal disagreement over surveillance and the CIA’s former torture programs.
Clapper reserved an answer on whether Russia had accessed the Snowden trove for a private session. Snowden has repeatedly stated that he did not take any documents to Russia, which granted him temporary asylum last summer after the US revoked his passport.
Clapper also declined to answer a question about European surveillance involving US businesses, and possibly upon them, in an open hearing.
Clapper did pledge to be more “transparent” in explaining surveillance actions in the future, in order to maintain public support for them. And while the NSA’s Alexander did not attend the hearing, he reportedly announced a former Homeland Security official, Rebecca Richards, as the surveillance agency’s first privacy and civil liberties officer.
Querying Clapper, Wyden said: “I don’t think this culture of misinformation is going to be easily fixed.”
Two powerful senators signalled their opposition to President Obama’s plans to move the NSA out of the business of bulk collection and storage of domestic call records.
Jay Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat and former intelligence committee chairman, said he “absolutely opposes contracting out this core government function”, saying the telecommunications firms would do a worse job of protecting US privacy and national security.
“I can’t tell you how strongly I feel about this. The president left us in a very interesting situation,” Rockefeller said.
His successor as chair, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who recently shepherded a bill through the committee that would entrench and expand NSA’s authority over bulk phone data, backed Rockefeller.
“In my view, he knows what he’s talking about.”
Angus King, the Maine independent, urged the intelligence chiefs to make a thorough case that the bulk collection of domestic phone data was necessary for preventing terrorism, rather than a useful but optional tool – as the latter, King said, was difficult to defend to constituents.
“It allows us to do in minutes what would otherwise take us hours” to determine if there was a domestic nexus to a foreign terrorist attack, said the FBI director, James Comey, who said “agility” was the primary value of bulk collection.
“Now, in most circumstances, the difference between hours and minutes isn’t going to be material, except when it matters most,” Comey said.
This is hardly the first time that the Obama administration’s defense of surveillance has changed, and it is an even further cry from the claims made by the NSA this summer that it had actually stopped looming terrorist attacks at home.
Members of the panel also feuded among themselves, as senators tried to out-duel each other to condemn Snowden, and varied in the extent to which they challenged Clapper.
Feinstein began the hearing by warning the committee to stick to “unclassified details”, a signal against pressing Clapper to address additional information about surveillance.
She ended it by permitting Wyden additional time to ask the intelligence chiefs to provide an example of when the spy agencies needed phone data urgently that was too old for telecoms to provide through normal processes.
“You had a long 10 seconds. Be grateful,” Feinstein said.

Main Street'd Political Third Party on the Rise

Musings and Research Notes on the Invisibly Rising Third Party for Main Street

The Condition

 I don't know if the Corporate State instituted the two dominant political parties to begin with or if it co-opted and reshaped them in its own image. Either way, by now we take for granted the Corporate State sits situated in the seats of social and economic decision-making. It's the boss, so to speak. No only are both parties under its stamp of approval or disapproval, but so are we. By now we also know the Corporate State doesn't like dissent and it ridicules, derails, or kills such disturbances (whatever it takes) without much effort or consequence. Politicians not following the Corporate State line get put before an  orchestrated public media tribunal. Dissenters are ostracized, marginalized, or tokenized. Bernie Sanders, for example, is tokenized. Cynthia McKenny and Ralph Nader have been ostracized. Dennis Kucinich has been marginalized. Tokenism, Ostracism and Marginalism are weapons of the Corporate State and its loyal minions. Used as threats, tokenism, ostracism and marginalism ensure endemic obedience in exchange for privileges. Just the facts by now. Just the condition of things. Just part of the debase side of humanity. Can a new political party help heal? Maybe but it comes with a price, privileges as the norm rather than the exception.

The Rut 

Do we want a democracy or not? For me, the ambiguity--we're kind of wishy washy on this question--situates us at the core of the problem. We seem to want democracy and not want it. For some, it seems to not matter as long as people in Gestapo-like uniforms aren't barging into most of our lives and turning our neighborhoods into camps. We seem to not care as long as we can still buy a car or board a plane.  Make some money. Eat well enough. We seem to accept whatever the political reality is as long as we can buy a good enough cell phone and watch TV shows and find other kinds of entertainment to our liking. We seem okay as long as we have the freedom to buy products we want or give us some kind of social status.

Unfortunately, when George W. Bush told the country to go out and shop to prove to the terrorists we won't let them hinder our freedom, purchasing and freedom became intricately linked as not just the symbol of American Democracy but as its major arena for residents on Main Street. Purchases then have become symbolic degrees of freedom. The problem then has to do with our definition and application of democracy.

The Solution

Chaos is inherit in change. Change for the better on Main Street does not come in the form of a bomb, but it does require a shaking up of ideology and perceptions. The more change that is needed, the more shaking up and thus the more chaos. Anyone who remodels a house knows that. One change that seems simple but suffers from constant derailment at its outset is the formation of a movement to create a third party to establish a system of democracy for the 21st Century.

Practically speaking, many of us would like to see a new political party that addresses the issues of Main Street and its Side Streets, including Poverty Street, Food Stamp Street, Foreclosure Street, Homeless Street, and Hopeless Street. Most people I've talked with would like to see a new party arise that can withstand attacks and dismissals from both major parties, a new party that can't be conveniently or tritely slotted as the left's answer to the right's Tea Party.

 For this reason, one of the best chances for a third party (representing Main Street at the Table) to get traction is to learn and employ new tools in establishing itself. It must outsize, outsmart or outrun not just the Corporate State (its polar opposite) but its three political parties, Democrats, Republicans and Liberatarians. What's needed is a party that is savvy, stable and solidly ethical and compassionate, one that is willing to do what it takes to redistribute the wealth and cut the general work week in half.

We also need such a party, because the decisions made in the 17 and 18 centuries in Europe regarding putting an end to feudialism in favor of capitalism have run their course. Now the conditions of capitalism have dimmed and corroded the good and progress of its early promises. The fall of hope for Main Street under capitalism began with Main Street unwittingly accepting the credit card in place of greater increases in wages and benefits. We are now in a situation in which the line of wealth is skewed in extremes. 
The combined wealth of the 85 richest people in the world is equal to that of 3.5 billion people -- or half the global population -- according to a report by Oxfam.
Click on the graphic to enlarge.Click on the graphic to enlarge.
The report states, "The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world."
Among the report's other findings, it notes that 70 percent of the world's population reside in countries where income inequality has risen since the 1980s and 1 percent of families in the world own nearly half, 46 percent, of the world's wealth, or $110 trillion.

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The nature of this statistic suggests Main Street has crippled itself through complacency. With no cure from Main Street beneficiaries (the wealthy elite) in sight, Main Street must heal itself. One indicator that  the time is ripe is irrational thinking on the part of the wealthy elite. Some of these owners are even absurdly comparing themselves to Jews under Nazis or claiming minority status. Who can even comment on such a ridiculous notion?

Naming Names

I personally like the Egalitarian Party with its basic platform the redistribution of wealth, revaluing of money and Wall Street, and restructuring of the work week based on creating a healhty ratio between work and liesure. Perhaps as important is establishing a new system of organizing society, one based in ethics and compassion in which  class and caste are eliminated, a society in which everyone "has" and arenas and resources exist so that each individual can pursue his or her individual highest potential.

End of Notes

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Who are the Richest Persons in a Single State?

Richest Person in a Single State|hero&par=xfinity

Marguerite Harbert
Robert Gillam
Bruce Halle Sr.
James Walton
Lawrence Ellison
Charles Ergen
Raymond Dalio
Leon Gorman
Micky Arison
Anne Cox Chambers
Jay Shidler
Frank Vandersloot
Samuel Zell
Gayle Cook
Dennis Albaugh
David Koch
Brad M. Kelley
Thomas Benson
Robert Gore
Theodore Lerner
Abigail Johnson
Kenneth Dart
Whitney MacMillan
Jim Barksdale
John L. Morris
Dennis Washington
Warren Buffett
Sheldon Adelson
New Hampshire
Richard Cohen
New Jersey
David Tepper
New Mexico
John A Yates
New York
Michael Bloomberg
North Carolina
James Goodnight
North Dakota
Gary Tharaldson
Leslie Wexner
George Kaiser
Phillip Knight
Hansjorg Wyss
Rhode Island
Jonathan Nelson
South Carolina
Anita Zucker
South Dakota
T. Denny Sanford
Thomas Frist Jr.
Michael Dell
Blake Roney
Robert Stiller
Forrest Mars Jr.
Bill Gates
West Virginia
James Justice II
John Menard Jr
John Martin
Source: Wealth-X

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story inadvertently omitted Missouri. The richest person in Missouri is John Morris. He has a net worth value after valuation of $3.8 billion, according to Wealth-X.)