McCain and the Straight Talk Express to Lobbyville
If the Straight Talk Express is funded by campaign contributions, Mr. Black’s lobbying work there arguably constitutes a violation (possibly, a per-incident violation) of campaign finance laws since Sen. McCain is providing office space for non-campaign-related activities. Were Mr. Black's outbound and inbound calls unplanned and extraordinary, fair argument could be made that his presence on the bus and the lobbying work were coincidental; however, the Washington Post claims, "Black said he does a lot of his work by telephone from McCain's Straight Talk Express bus," thereby denying the McCain campaign any claim of coincidence between Black's general lobbying activities and the campaign-funded facilities in which those activities are being carried out.
If the Federal Elections Commission does not move aggressively on McCain and his campaign with regard to this matter, it would be the responsible citizen's prerogativeindeed, it would be that citizen's dutyto vociferously bring to the attention of the mainstream media, and anyone else who might listen, this story of compelling allegations of a presidential campaign now indistinguishable from Beltway lobbyists who manage and use it.
Whether or not the Arizona Senator once had an intimate relationship with a lobbyist and used his chairmanship of a committee to advance her client's interests, the matter of Mr. Black's use of Sen. McCain's campaign-funded assets is of immediate import and intersects campaign finance laws that Sen. McCain, himself, was a champion in reforming with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-155), known informally as the McCain-Feingold Act.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Federal Elections Commission to determine whether Sen. McCain's campaign has violated law and regulations with respect to Mr. Black's conduct of lobbying business on the Straight Talk Express; but beyond the considerations of the FEC, voters contemplating the quality and character of a presidential hopeful should be made aware of the manner in which each candidate conducts his or her campaign and the extent to which that conduct comports with the aspirant's rhetoric.
In the case of John McCain, a pall is swiftly enshrouding a man who was once a war hero and a leader, but who is now giving at least the remarkable appearance of being little more than a politician inextricably mired in the sleazy world of lobbyists, sex, and money that is the intolerable yet enduring underbelly of life among the powerful in the nation's capitol.
An Exercise from Urban Economics
To his great credit, Mr. Leinberger does not fatigue readers with yet another worn-out tome about the mythical "bubble" in the housing market or the current mortgage credit crisis as being the cause of modern suburban housing blight; instead, he thoughtfully analyzes some of the many interesting innovations in housing development being realized as part of large and significant social, economic, and resource availability forces reshaping the landscape of America. Absent from his survey of important factors, however, is a quite basic and entirely ancient force that shapes and reshapes urban landscapes, and it is to the purpose of summarily explaining this essential and thoroughly natural phenomenon that this post is dedicated. The phenomenon is so well-known in real estate studies and urban economics that it even has a name: it is called "filtering of the housing stock," and it has been around ever since cities have existed.
As a first principle, no asset retains value of its own accord because assets, in general, do not have an accord of their own. ("Human capital" is a partialnot a complete, but a partialexception to this principle.) The essential phenomenon of decline in asset value is "economic depreciation"; in terms of accounting for this reality, some clerical system is used by which the erosion can be recognized in a mathematical or tabular way. Such a system is called "(accounting) depreciation," and several broad forms of it can exist even in tandem, as is the case with financial accounting depreciation and depreciation for tax reporting purposes, the latter often being more rapid and/or front-loaded to quickly realize tax shielding, the former being the method applied for public reporting.
Nevertheless, the underlying principle is not artifice: constructed assets (assets whose value is largely the result of improvements to raw resources) really do lose value through time, and the only way that can be prevented from occurring is through maintenance and improvements, both of which require capital. Absent the capitalfinancial, "sweat equity," or otherwisean asset becomes less valuable as it ages. More importantly, whether or not capital is invested to slow or reverse economic depreciation is entirely dependent upon whether or not the net present value of future expected cash flows from maintenance and improvements exceeds the current cost of the contemplated maintenance and/or improvements.
In urban areas, many were the housing divisions, apartment complexes, and businesses established in the heyday of urban life and activity. As that activity and the cash flows that go with it migrated outward from the city centers, usually along major arteries that led from the main parts of towns, the close-in housing stocks "filtered" down because there was insufficient incentive to maintain them, much less make improvements. Eventually, in some areas, "gentrification" occurred, and this was in part because tax incentives made re-investment in urban dwellings attractive, but it was also the result of the housing stocks having filtered so far down that "abandonment" values made re-investment attractive. It is not fanciful metaphor to describe gentrification as a value echo that returned to the point of origin once the valuation pressure differential had made the reflective path more attractive than the continued outward movement.
Whatever the particulars of the pace and pattern of filtering, it often follows pathssome quite linear, some much more complexout from the center of a city (what urban economists call the "central business district," or "CBD"). When filtering makes its way out to suburbs, an interesting phenomenon may occur: because the suburbs, themselves, are centers of community activity, both social and economic, they, too, can become the nodes from which filtering emanates. This means the suburbs have filtering from the major city sweep through; then the filtering from their own and proximate suburban central business districts sweeps through, thus creating a complicated and fascinating set of harmonics and interference patterns of devaluationsand sometimes even such devaluations that rehabilitation becomes economically attractivejust like waves from pebbles meeting and interacting on a pond cause multiple, standing depressions in the water right next to multitudes of standing crests.
It is these interacting patterns of filtering activity that economically devastate some housing divisions while leaving others completely unscathed. Although suburbanization intensifies the complexities of these economic winners and losers among housing stocks, the underlying phenomenon, itself, of filtering is enduring, pervasive, and fundamental, and it will remain so for as long as cities persist and for as long as avenues exist (be they streets, freeways, communication networks, or other modes of physical and information transport) by which economic value can articulate along paths of least financial resistance.
The Dark Wraith has once again demonstrated how fascinating theoretical economic analysis can be.
Lunar Eclipse 2008
Until modernity informed us otherwise, this event would have been the harbinger of ill to come. Our ancestors would have gazed as much in fear of its meaning as in awe of its subtle beauty; yet now, we know so much more.
At the very least, we certainly think we do.
MOOOO! (with a Side Order of Hurl)
The USDA is recalling 143 million pounds of frozen beef (that's right, folks one hundred forty-three million pounds) that was bound for federal school lunch programs and several major chains of fast-food restaurants. The beef in the recall came from Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., whose secretly videotaped practices included using forklifts to move sick and non-ambulatory cattle to slaughter.
Here's my idea. Don't throw that meat away; instead, force-feed it to every whining, so-called conservative, "limited government" bleater in the country. Make 'em eat every last bit of it, just to make sure there's none left that hungry kids could end up inadvertently consuming. (Unfortunately, it seems that about 37 million pounds of it have probably already been eaten.)
Then, while all those limited government folks start getting really, really worried about maybe ending up feverish, with vomiting, diarrhea, and all the other symptoms of food poisoning, get 'em all on YouTube singing the praises of Republicans, tax cuts, spending priorities for the global war on terror, and free markets. Make 'em all say in unison, "Git guv'mint off th' backs o' bidness!"
Timing is everything, of course. If any of those free-market lovers actually do get food poisoning, we'll have to capture their feelings before effects like kidney failure set in. That whole death-rattle thing is a real ratings loser.
Does that sound too harsh? Gee, let's see, here: this latest example of the creative power of free markets pumped 37 million pounds of potentially tainted beef into the mouths of kids and tried to do the same with another 106 million pounds of the stuff.
Perhaps the free market acolytes should be given a choice between eating the beef and getting a good horse-whipping. "Free to Choose" is how the late, Right-wing economics extremist Milton Friedman put it.
The Dark Wraith has finally found something on which to agree with that deceased snake-oil salesman.
Smoke, Mirrors, and the Rule of Law
In response to this new information offered by commenter Moody Blue here at The Dark Wraith Forums, I offer the following response.
Much broader issues are not being addressed concerning the sheriff's deputy who dumped the quadriplegic. Despite the butt-covering apologies, first by Chief Deputy Jose Docobo, who called the deputy's actions "indefensible at every level," and then by Sheriff David Gee, who said he was "personally embarrassed and shocked by the horrific treatment Mr. Sterner received," watching that video tells a starkly different story from the official line that the treatment was outside policy guidelines and contrary to training of the law enforcement personnel of the county.
Those PR-attenuating flaks' drool is without a shred of credibility. That video clearly shows a uniform, well-practiced, pervasive disregard for fundamental human decency. It wasn't just that one woman, the one who poured the quad out of his wheelchair; it was all of those deputies in that office. Every one of them stood around with utter dispassion while Sterner hit the floor, then flailed about while the deputies moved in like mechanics about to do a 15-minute Quik-Lube oil change on a car with bad suspension. Those officers did not display even so much as a hint of concern for the venality of the incident in which they were actively, knowingly participating.
Quite tellingly, the video seems to show large windows right behind where the action was occurring. That indicates this was no secretive, furtive act done in a quiet, unobserved place; instead, this was done right where it could be seen, not just by department personnel, but also by civilians.
That renders evidence of a very different story from the one being pumped to the ever-gullible media by the sheriff. He is engaging in mere risk mitigation tactics: he is kicking the low woman on the totem pole for what she was doing as part of a pervasive culture of disrespectindeed, lawlessnesson the part of yet another law enforcement operation that overwhelmingly deals with the public as if an accusation of a crime is sufficient justification to commence retributive, extra-judicial punishment long before the courts have the opportunity to rubber-stamp the convictions already made accomplished facts by police.
This is the Abu Ghraib story of Lynndie England all over again: a person who was probably not the monster made of her by scandal-swilling journalists who fearlessly hunt the weak and small, but who was, instead, a woman who got sucked into a sexualized, violent, abusive, machismo culture and then got destroyed while the man at the top of the chain of command, President and Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, and a whole bunch of vicious people below him, including then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, walked away without even so much as a scratch.
It is just sickening; and because it happens over and over again in this modern Medievalism of immune noblemen, the opportunities to be sickened occur with a systematic regularity that defies the bleatings of those who imagine that justice is somehow done by the occasional hanging of the compliant commoner for the sins of the mendacious sovereigns.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
Impending, Temporary Service Interruption
The outage may last through the night, but we expect The Dark Wraith Forums, Big Brass Blog, The UnCapitalist Journal, Dark Wraith Publishing Online Store, and the blogScream News Wire service to be back online by daybreak on Sunday, February 17.
In the meantime, regulars should consider this an open thread, so write something in the comments. It doesn't have to be particularly insightful, although deep pessimism and unmitigated cynicism are always welcome. Cheerfulness will be tolerated, too, of course, but that's just because your host is fundamentally a very upbeat person.
Okay, that last sentence, while by no means a real knee-slapper, was mildly risible.
The Dark Wraith thanks you for your support.
The Black Curtain
This is the YouTube version of the broadcast from WKYC. (A previous version of the video on YouTube is no longer available, and this one may suffer the same fate once Google's censors find out it's up.) Watch the entire thing. Full volume. Try not to flinch. Try not to vomit.
When you're finished watching the video of the strip search, go ask your favorite candidate of "hope" and "change" and all those other lies just exactly what he or she is going to do to end this rising nightmare of an authoritarian state.
No, seriously. Don't find some reason why your choice for Heir to Empire is not responsible. He or she is. They all want to lead this country? Then let them explain precisely how they plan to lead it away from this mess.
Ask those Democrats and Republicans running for office when enough will be enough. Ask them when they plan to stop spewing their sweet little nothings. Ask them if they will vow to their very God or perhaps even to that piece of paper we call the Constitution of the United States of America to take upon themselves the enormous task of throwing every monster of this spreading blackness of sovereign violencefrom George W. Bush and Richard V. Cheney all the way down to the very last, badge-wearing jackboot on the beatinto prison to rot.
Afraid to offend your fave candidate of "hope" and "change"? Afraid to burst the bubble of your own fantasy of "hope" and "change"? Watch the video again. Listen to the screams.
Those could very well be yours someday.
George Orwell Was a Loser
Among those who grasp the stunning outrage of this are the usual cast of civil liberties advocates and other malcontents who simply cannot understand that, when law enforcement folks stamp their feet and bawl for more toys, they should never hear the word, "No!" It might hurt their feelings, and we wouldn't want them blaming any of us the next time a crime happens. God knows, when it comes to crime, it's never the fault of officials who could have stopped it if only they'd had one more truncheon to use on the population.
Why, the very idea! That's like saying George W. Bush failed to protect this nation on September 11, 2001, and then spent the next six years covering his own howling failure by exacting punishment for his miserable incompetence upon the American people and millions of knaves just about everywhere else in the world. Thank God, no one in Washingtonleast of all the Loyal Oppositionhad the impertinence to demand his head for letting a handful of whack-job maniacs blast down skyscrapers and a nice chunk of the Pentagon on his watch and right under his nose.
Would you like to have some fun? Here's an idea concerning this technological monstrosity that makes the word "Orwellian" downright inadequate. Ask Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton if either of them would kill that database project upon becoming President. Make sure to emphasize that it's not a matter of "modifying" the FBI's plan, and it's not a matter of "proper oversight"; the question is whether or not either of those two Throne of Empire wannabes has the guts to stand up to squalling babies who haven't had their attitudes adjusted and their butts paddled in years.
I'll bet you my bottom dollar those two Democratic cowards would dance like hip-hop stars around the very idea that they might want to do something like tell the FBI to stop treating everyone like a criminal waiting to be caught.
I've said it before, and I'll say it here again: "Change," my ass.
But, hey! They're Democrats. That means they're not Republicans, right?
The Dark Wraith is fast approaching a sublime state of ultimate cynicism. (It's the train stop right after the commonwealth of realism.)
Conspiracy Theorist Communications
Tonight, I sort of lost it. One of these new young Turks of 9/11 conspiracy theories broke the rules. He didn't use e-mail; instead, he noticed my internal messaging link in the sidebar here at The Dark Wraith Forums, and I'll be darned if he didn't use it to send me a personal message. The impertinence of it all!
Here's what he had to say:
Will You Believe Me Now? A Vital Flashback...
This is a first. We are reposting a blog written here in September of 2006 in which we revealed the background of Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission. In that blog, we warned that a furtive fox had been put in charge of investigating the hen house, and we joined other 9/11 Truth Seekers in challenging the supposed impartiality of the Commission and its unsubstantiated conclusions.
And, as always, the establishment media ignored it all.
But, lo and behold, today the AP had an epiphany about Philip Zelikow and the White House. In a revealing article about a new book by NY Times reporter Philip Shenon they acknowledged the following:
The Sept. 11 commission's executive director had closer ties with the White House than publicly disclosed and tried to influence the final report in ways that the staff often perceived as limiting the Bush administration’s responsibility.
For the record, this is not news. Here is the blog we posted in 2006! Will you believe us now?
Meet the Official White House 9/11 Myth Maker: Philip D. Zelikow
On September 10th I was one of the guest speakers at a 9/11 truth event at Cooper Union in New York (sponsored by Les Jameson’s ny911truth.org). There were many esteemed speakers that day who shared a great deal of information related to the events of September 11th 2001 but no information was more stunning than the little tidbit brought to light about the Executive Director of the famous Kean Commission, Philip D. Zelikow.
Think hard about what you would look for if you were to appoint a director of an investigation into the events of 9/11. Would you look for someone who has studied or even dabbled in the creation and maintenance of public myths? Would you search for or even consider placing someone in charge of that committee whose area of academic expertise is the creation and maintenance of, in his words, "public myths" or "public presumptions", which he defines as "beliefs thought to be true (although not necessarily known to be true with certainty), and shared in common within the relevant political community." Well that is exactly what happened!
Do a little research on Philip D. Zelikow, the Executive Director of the Kean Commission and you will find that his area of expertise is precisely suited for people who have a story that is not necessarily known to be true, but want the public to accept it as such. Add that to your 110 story high pile of coincidences that comprise the official story! Think about it!
I broke under the onslaught. I honestly cracked.
In my defense, these days I'm a bit fragile: just last week, I got the used food scared out of me by a glancing blow from lawyers for one of the Ancient Crazies of the Financial World. It seems that many months ago, I told Peter of Lone Tree that he could quote me, anddip me in chocolate and call me Mr. Deliciousthat son of a female dog with questionable morals did so, for God's sake, in an article at BlondeSense. The article is gone, now, and I'll leave the matter at that, except to note that another facet of this same incident involved a very well-known conspiracy theorist who got so freaked by a letter from these same lawyers that he turned into the journalistic equivalent of a poodle giving himself a showdog trim while hiding behind the sofa.
Nevertheless, that whole exciting mess left my entire state of mindnot to mention my e-mail systemwithout a hint of decent fung shui, so I was ready for closure. I sent an e-mail message back to the 9/11 conspiracy theorist fellow who'd used my internal messaging system. Although this person maintains a blog, I shall not provide a link to it here, if for no other reason than that, as it is, I have more than enough links in my sidebar blogroll that could get me into trouble.
Speaking in my voice as an old and weary conspiracy theorist, I had this to say:
You are most decidedly barking up the wrong tree. You and others who are sending out messages about the conspiracy behind the attacks of September 11, 2001, are more than six years behind the curve. I have seen nothing in these recent "facts" being promulgated on the Internet and in e-mail messages that wasn’t being revealed in the months right after the incident. Weand I was on message boards making an ass of myself, tooscreamed bloody murder, but no one listened.
Do you know why no one listened?
No one cared.
People who didn't matter knew it was an inside job, but they were too busy with their jobs, their mortgages, and their asymptomatic lives; people who did matter knew it was an inside job, but exactly what were they going to do about it?destroy the Republic with ungodly charges that everyone would pretend couldn’t possibly have merit?
More to the point, those who did matter in late 2001 were the same groveling appeasement freaks who had let the Reagan/Bush team off the hook for years of criminality going all the way back to ruining Carter's hostage rescue mission in 1980. Those cowardsthose cowardly Democrats, including Bill Clinton and the Democratic leadership in Congresslet brave whistleblowers take the fall for handing over mountains of damning evidence against everyone from Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush all the way down to sleazebags who would reemerge more venal and powerful than ever in the Administration of George W. Bush. Some of those whistleblowing patriots ended up rotting in prisons. That's the fate that imperils anyoneanyonewho has the guts and the solid proof to step up to the plate against the Republicans. If you've got real, hard evidence, take your swing, slugger. Watch what happens. (Hint: you'll be wildly amazed by which way the ball flies off your bat.)
Do what you want to do, Rocket Man, and say what you have to say. Fortunately, you will face no worse punishment than most of us who know just how ugly the reality is, but have nothing more than names, dates, and chains of assailable logic. To that extent, then, find comfort in enduring obscurity; the alternative is appallingly unpleasant.
I am not without good will for those participating in this latest howl-fest about 9/11. It is my earnest hope that those who think the official story is a pack of lies fully grasp that they will never find the "truth" behind the events. At best, they'll be able to work out what constitutes a more satisfactory and satisfying lie for themselves and everyone they vex with e-mail messages.
Take care of yourself. As my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors would have said, "The world is full of Englishmen."
Worse still, I've come to figure out that it's also full of shadows. They're easy to miss, though; they hide right in plain sight.
I am altogether convinced that I have accomplished one or the other of the following: either I have ensured that I shall receive no more communications from this blogger, or I have just thrown a tanker full of gasoline on a raging inferno. In either event, it remains to be seen whether or not I have regained fung shui in my Outlook inbox, much less in my online life.
The Dark Wraith should probably leave the grassy knoll before the investigators from the Commission arrive.