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Vattel's Journal
Posted by Vattel in General Discussion
Thu Nov 17th 2011, 08:43 AM
The Democratic plan has $200 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts, a level that exceeds the beneficiary cuts in Bowles-Simpson (the Gang of Six is not specific on this point) and is eight times the level of Medicare beneficiary cuts in the budget plan that President Obama released on September 19. Since half of Medicare beneficiaries have incomes below about $21,000, it would be extremely difficult to secure $200 billion in savings from increased Medicare beneficiary charges without requiring significantly larger out-of-pocket payments by beneficiaries with incomes as low as $12,000 or $15,000.

Luckily the Republicans are so crazy they won't accept anything.
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Posted by Vattel in Latest Breaking News
Thu Oct 06th 2011, 06:27 AM
If a US citizen poses an imminent threat (e.g., the citizen is a bank robber who has a gun to the head of a hostage, or the citizen is an enemy combatant firing at US Marines), the individual who poses the threat may be killed without any judicial oversight. But it is a bsic principle of due process that where time permits (as it did in Al-Awlaki's case), there should be judicial process before a citizen is deprived of his or her life. To flout that principle is to make a mockery of the due process clauses of the fifth and fourteenth amendments. It is a principle that stands between us and an executive who can arbitrarily dispose of our lives. Sadly, Obama is playing a role in destroying that principle.
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Posted by Vattel in General Discussion
Tue Aug 23rd 2011, 08:01 AM
The debt deal has put at risk foreign aid programs that, unlike our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, demonstrably save millions of lives. Science Speaks reports:

In the debt ceiling agreement, foreign aid was grouped under “security,” which includes the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. According to reports, the additional programs including international affairs were added to “security” at the eleventh hour during the negotiations to provide some protection against deep defense cuts . . .

Global health advocates are concerned that cuts in the “security” portion of the budget to meet the caps could fall disproportionately on foreign assistance programs, including development and global health.
( )

It is no exaggeration to say that thousands and perhaps millions of lives are at risk. A Stanford study found that the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) alone has saved millions of lives in Africa. ( ) This program's funding should be greatly increased--not cut.
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Posted by Vattel in General Discussion: Presidency
Wed Jul 20th 2011, 05:49 PM
Most of this information is available at the Whitehouse website:

1. DOD (Department of Defense): $553 billion
Note: Even adjusted for inflation, this would be the highest base defense budget since WWII.

2. VA (Veteran’s Affairs): $131.85 billion

Mandatory funds: $70 billion
Discretionary funds: $61.85 billion

3. OCO (Overseas Contingency Operations): $117.6 billion

For Afghanistan: roughly $107 billion
For Iraq: roughly $11 billion

4. Homeland security (the part funded outside DOD, that is): $53.5 billion

Explanation: The White House has requested $71.6 billion for “homeland security”—of which $18.1 billion is funded through the Department of Defense. The remaining $53.5 billion goes through various other federal accounts, including the Department of Homeland Security ($37 billion), the Department of Health and Human Services ($4.6 billion), and the Department of Justice ($4.6 billion). All of it is, however, national security funding.

5. Atomic energy defense activities—mostly in the DOE (Department of Energy) budget: $19.3 billion

Explanation: This includes (among other things) $7.6 billion to maintain our nuclear weapons stockpile, $2.5 billion to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons (by funding efforts to secure and dispose of nuclear material, to develop technologies to detect and deter nuclear testing and smuggling, and to support international nonproliferation treaties), $5.4 billion for defense environmental clean-up, and $1.2 billion for naval nuclear reactors.

6. State Department overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq: $8.7 billion

7. Pentagon “miscellaneous spending”: $7.8 billion

Explanation: For some reason the Pentagon gets this funding for miscellaneous stuff in addition to what it gets from the base DOD budget. I’m still looking for clarification on this.

8. Military aid to foreign countries: $6.6 billion ($3.1 billion for Israel alone).

9. NASA defense activities (satellite spying, etc.): estimated to be $3.5-8.7 billion

Explanation: This is actually more of a guess than an estimate because such things are classified.

10. FBI Counter-terrorism: $2.7 billion

Of course, serious estimates of total defense spending would have to include interest on debt-funded defense activities. That has been estimated to be $109.1 billion or more.
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Posted by Vattel in General Discussion: Presidency
Wed Jul 20th 2011, 12:00 AM
The FY 2012 base defense budget proposed by the Obama administration would grow the base defense budget beyond its FY 2010 peak to the highest level in inflation-adjusted dollars since World War II, exceeding the previous peak in defense spending in FY 1985 of $531 billion (in FY 2012 dollars). By the way, he's asking for $553 billion.
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Posted by Vattel in General Discussion
Wed Feb 16th 2011, 01:30 AM
Either the waterboarding perpetrated by the CIA during the Bush Administration was a federal crime or it wasn't. Obama has an obligation to the American people to reveal the Department of Justice's opinion on this matter. On the one hand, if the DOJ judges that it was a crime, then we are owed an explanation of why that crime hasn't been prosecuted. Isn't it the responsibility of the DOJ to prosecute serious crimes? Shouldn't we at least know that we live in a nation that rejects the rule of law and permits crimes by our highest officials to go unpunished? On the other hand, if the DOJ does not consider the waterboarding perpetrated by the CIA during the Bush Administration to have been a federal crime, then we are owed an explanation of why the President has not proposed legislation that would make waterboarding a federal crime. Obama has issued an executive order prohibiting waterboarding, but that is not enough. Such an order can be rescinded as soon as a president decides he or she wants to waterboard. We need criminal laws that unambiguously criminalize waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Let me reiterate. If in the opinion of the DOJ, waterboarding is a crime under the War Crimes Act or the Torture Act or some other federal criminal statute, then why isn't it being prosecuted? And if it is not a crime under any existing federal criminal statute, why isn't Obama proposing legislation that would criminalize it (either by amending an existing statute such as the War Crimes Act, or by introducing a new criminal statute)?

Don't we at least deserve an anwer to these questions?
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