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Thursday, June 29th, 2017 11:36 am
 Наш сабдивижен был построен в 1988 - 1990 годах. Как раз пока я в советском стройбате служил. Вроде дома стоили $50- 70К, но точных данных не нашел. Мой дом - один из самых дешевых: нет подвала, неудобный двор и так далее. В 1997 году дом продали за $145К, в 2006 я его купил за $220К, сейчас он вроде как стоит $300К (Zillow). Никаких бассейнов и прочего у нас нет, но НОА была создана как добровольная организация, без записи в Deed.
На собрание из 128 домовладей явились человек 20. Половина - те, кто "строил" дома, половина "новички". Один из ветеранов рассказал, что НОА практически ликвидировали после того, как он построил забор вокруг двора и совет НОА велел этот забор снести. Заборы появились у всех, НОА перестали давать деньги. Зачем нужны деньги? Есть три проблемы: 
1. Въезды в сабдивижен с названием и клумбами цветов Сейчас их за свои деньги обустраивают жильцы соседних домов.
2. Ливневый водоотстойник в центре. Его надо чистить пару раз в год, иногда труба забивается. По закону это обязанность 5 домовладельцев, которые примыкают к пруду, но фактически 30 лет этим занимался один человек. Недавно ему исполнилось 80 лет и он заявил самоотвод. 
3. Полоска травы 2  на 300 метров вдоль наружной ограды. Эта земля принадлежит 20 домам, они там должны поддерживать порядок. В реальности траву стригут несколько добровольцев, у кого есть трактора.  
1 - меня не волнует вообще.
2 - у меня свой ручей за домом, водоотстойник я не загружаю. Пусть те 5 семей скидываются и нанимают кого-нибудь. 
3 - 20 домохозяйств могут дружно отказаться от свой земли (2 х 15) в пользу города. Тогда город и будет поддерживать порядок. Раза два-три в год. 
На самом деле я не имею ничего против платить $50 в год на поддержание порядка, но я постоянно нарушаю правила общежития: редко стригу траву, паркую машины на газоне, давно не красил дом... Поэтому я боюсь воссоздания НОА и возвращение коменданта.  Таких как я среди явившихся на собрание оказалось большинство. Среди неявившися - думаю, что все. Так что мы просто интересно провели время, попили вина и познакомились. 

Еще один пост о моем сабдивижине, с фото и видео.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 11:30 am

Posted by Jeff Stein

The most influential center-left think tank in DC has a new plan to fix Obamacare — and, perhaps surprisingly, it includes some of the same provisions as the Republican health bill in the Senate.

On Thursday, the Center for American Progress released new legislative text that proposes repairing Obamacare’s exchanges through a mixture of new subsidies to help insurance companies cover their most expensive patients, and lower taxes to encourage insurers to set up shop in under-served markets.

The plan is almost certainly dead on arrival with a Republican caucus that has been bent on dismantling Obamacare for years. But CAP is casting it as a bipartisan solution that could give Republicans a lifeline should Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fail to find the 51 votes to pass his bill — and require Democratic support.

“We are at an inflection point where there’s an opportunity for senators to choose a different path,” said Topher Spiro, one of the report’s authors, in an interview. “But it’s a very small window.”

CAP’s plan to stabilize Obamacare, explained

The CAP plan has three main components — two of which are already included in Senate Republicans’ Better Care Reconciliation Act. (All three components have been floating around health policy circles for a number of years.)

The first involves guaranteeing Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, which help make copays and deductibles cheaper for lower-income people who get insurance through Obamacare. Trump threatened to stop making Obamacare’s CSR payments — a move that “destabilized” the markets by making it unclear to insurers if they could count on the payments being there. Both Senate Republicans’ BCRA and the CAP plan would guarantee the CSRs.

The second component is a $15 billion “reinsurance” fund. It calls for giving states federal money to give insurers funding for their most expensive, high-cost enrollees — which Spiro says would in turn reduce premium payments for everyone else on the exchanges. (Spiro also notes that Maine and Alaska — two states with moderate Republican senators — have already adopted similar approaches in their states that have shown signs of success.) Because the reinsurance fund would reduce premium costs, and thus the amount of tax credits the government would have to pay out, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says the $15 billion fund would only cost the federal government $4 billion.

“It’s pretty well known that a very small percentage of patients drive the vast majority of health care costs. That’s the reasoning behind this solution: If you subsidize those high costs, it will bring premiums down for everyone,” Spiro said.

“And it's plucked straight from the Senate Republican bill."

These Republican ideas were put into BCRA in order to ease the blow created by the GOP plan to eliminate the individual mandate, which would cause instability in the Obamacare exchanges. CAP is proposing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on these proposals — without the tax cuts for the rich and gutting of Medicaid also envisioned by McConnell’s team.

The third proposal in the CAP plan isn’t in the GOP plan. It involves giving tax incentives to insurance companies who agree to cover patients in parts of the country where there is only one insurer (or fewer). One idea is to encourage insurers by eliminating the health insurance tax for plans that enter these markets, though Spiro said he’s open to other suggestions and tweaks.

Should the left be calling for a public option or single-payer solution instead?

It goes without saying that the biggest difference between the CAP plan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's is that CAP would not call for, well, the rest of BCRA. It scraps BCRA's massive tax cuts for billionaires, the steep cuts to Medicaid, the deep wound to Obamacare's subsidies, and essentially only uses the ideas for guaranteeing Obamacare's Cost Sharing Reductions and the reinsurance fund.

But it’s also a marked break from what some on the progressive left want to see: unified Democratic calls for a public option, or Medicare-for-all single-payer bill.

Earlier this week, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee released a statement preemptively attacking any move on the left to embrace a fix for Obamacare that didn’t include these much more far-reaching fixes to Obamacare.

“Any bipartisan health care solution must, at a minimum, include a robust public option for all or a Medicare buy in for all — and if it doesn't, it is dead on arrival with the progressive base and most Americans,” PCCC’s Adam Green said.

There is robust support in the Democratic caucus for these ideas. More than half of House Democrats have agreed to cosign Rep. John Conyers’s (D-MI) single-payer proposal — the most support it’s gotten in the party’s history.

But Spiro says he’s not bothered by concerns that the left should instead be focused on demanding a public option or Medicare-for-all. Like many in the Senate Democratic caucus, he said the priority has to be on improving Obamacare for patients in the short term — and, above all, stopping Republicans’ dangerous bill.

“You’ve talked to some of these patients: They feel they’re at risk right now and that their care may be impacted next year or the year after. Our immediate focus has to be on stabilizing the markets and removing this threat and this uncertainty,” Spiro told me. “My number one priority, above all else, is to help and protect those people.”

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 11:20 am

Posted by Sarah Kliff

White House press secretary Sean Spicer posted a tweet Wednesday bemoaning the 28 million Americans who remain uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.

Setting aside the fact that the Trump administration has supported legislation that would cause millions more Americans to lose coverage — something I wrote about in more detail here — it is worth taking a moment to look at who these 28 million people are, and why they lack coverage. Among them are unauthorized immigrants, low-income people in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, people who decided insurance was too expensive, and some who just decided to take the risk and live without it.

Nonprofits, which have done a lot of great research on this question, find that about half of the uninsured population doesn’t qualify for help from the Affordable Care Act. The other half, for various reasons, have not enrolled in coverage:

Kaiser Family Foundation

Undocumented workers, some low-income Americans ineligible for Obamacare programs

The Affordable Care Act bars undocumented workers from using the health care law’s marketplaces. This isn’t just about using the tax credits; undocumented workers are not allowed to use their own money to buy coverage through Healthcare.gov, either.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates there are 5.4 million people living in the United States who are ineligible to use the Affordable Care Act marketplaces due to their immigration status. These people could, hypothetically, buy coverage outside Healthcare.gov directly from health insurance brokers. But they might find that without tax credits, the premiums are prohibitively expensive.

An additional 3 million low-income Americans are estimated to live in the 19 states that have not expanded Medicaid. In these states, people who earn less than the poverty line (below about $12,000) do not qualify for tax credits to purchase private coverage.

The Affordable Care Act envisioned that these people would enroll in the Medicaid expansion, but a Supreme Court decision in 2012 made that part of the health law optional — leaving millions in a coverage gap.

Others who do qualify for coverage don’t know about it — or have decided it’s too expensive

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 43 percent of the uninsured do qualify for help purchasing insurance on the marketplaces but still aren’t enrolled. Many say that even after they qualified for financial help, they still didn’t find the coverage they could purchase on Healthcare.gov affordable. This is one survey the Commonwealth Fund, for example, did of Americans who visited the marketplace but ultimately decided not to purchase a plan.

The vast majority (86 percent) who had gone to look for a plan said they didn’t feel the options were affordable. Most (54 percent) earned too much to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits, and felt that the premiums were too high to afford on their own.

But some people who qualify for tax credits didn’t think the coverage was worth the money either. These people tended to be younger and healthier Americans, who’d rather chance life without health insurance.

“When I looked into it, it looked like the penalty would be cheaper than paying for it every single month,” says Damen Archer, a 38-year-old bartender whom I interviewed a few months ago at the Par-T-Pub in Maryville, Tennessee. Archer qualified for significant subsidies and had looked into signing up, but did the math and decided he’d rather just pay the individual mandate penalty for not having insurance. “The penalty is what, $680, something like that? I think the best price I found was $120 a month. So you’re looking at $1,200 versus $600.”

The uninsured were also much less likely to be aware that the coverage expansion existed. The same Commonwealth Fund survey found that 38 percent were not aware the new health care marketplace existed in their state. This is a lower number than the fund found in an earlier iteration of the survey, suggesting awareness is rising but a sizable chunk of the uninsured population still doesn’t know that these new programs exist.

“The vast majority [of the remaining uninsured] have low incomes, are young, are Latino, and/or are working in a small firm,” the Commonwealth Fund brief concludes. “They are also less aware of the marketplaces than most Americans.”

The Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would make these problems worse, causing the ranks of the uninsured to rise by at least 22 million.

 Alvin Chang/Vox

Low-income Americans would see an especially sharp rise in uninsured rates, as the Republican plans would put health insurance even further out of financial reach.

As the Congressional Budget Office concluded starkly in its last analysis, despite being eligible for premium tax credits, “few low-income people would purchase any plan” under the Senate Republicans’ health care plan.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 02:44 pm

Posted by PZ Myers

I watched the much-promoted Okja last night, the new Netflix movie by Bong Joon-ho. It’s mostly harmless, but not very good. It has problems.

  • The story goes nowhere. Girl raises super-pig on her farm in South Korea for Evil Agri-Corp, Evil Agri-Corp takes it away, girl goes on quest to recover her super-pig. I won’t say how it ends, but let’s just say there are no surprises.

  • The super-pig, Okja, is a CGI pig/hippo hybrid carefully designed for maximum cuteness. It does not make any sense ecologically or physiologically. It’s a huge herbivore, but it only rarely eats. It’s touted as ecologicaly super-efficient, but how that would work isn’t explained.

  • The Animal Liberation Front are the good guys. No. ALF may have admirable goals, but their tactics are dishonest and destructive. They are terrorists and vandals. They are portrayed here as gentle people dedicated to not harming people or animals.

  • The message is incoherent. Don’t kill super-pigs, they’re adorable and intelligent! GMOs are bad! But Okja is a GMO, even though Evil Agri-Corp is trying hard to hide that fact, and the South Korean family has no problem eating fish and chicken. They show how horrible it is to slaughter super-pigs, but hey, that’s not a chicken — it’s a bowl of chicken stew.

  • There are a few scenes in a super-pig slaughterhouse. It is the cleanest, most humane slaughterhouse I’ve ever seen; almost no blood, and the super-pigs just roll over dead when hit with a bolt-gun. It’s so antiseptic and swift, and the animals are sliced apart into bits so neatly, it had me thinking butchery was far tidier than I expected. I don’t think that’s the intended message. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle this ain’t.
    Maybe the slaughter of CGI animals is just nicer.

  • Tilda Swinton, as the CEO of Evil Agri-Corp, was too ridiculously over-the-top. I think it’s a good idea to restrain and regulate agri-business’s excesses, but it doesn’t help to portray them as cartoons. Although, if the NRA is any example, maybe they are all villainous psychopaths.

  • The economics make no sense. Evil Agri-Corp has engineered these meat animals to save their business, and first is going to put everything on hiatus for ten years while 26 super-piglets are individually raised on small farms scattered around the world. Why? This is PR? And then that PR collapses abruptly (thanks to ALF), but there are hundreds and hundreds of super-pigs at a slaughterhouse in New Jersey. I really don’t get it.

  • There are several chase scenes. Apparently, little girls and 6-ton animals can barrel through city streets, subways, and crowded stores and no one gets hurt. It’s always a kind of fortuitous chaos where girl and beast conveniently find each other in New York and Seoul, and then harmlessly charge through pedestrians and cars.

  • At the end, I’m just left with questions. Are GMOs bad, or do they create cute animals? Is eating animals bad, or only the ones that are cute? Agri-business is bad, or just the ones run by ineffectual psychotic twins? I think I wasn’t supposed to think, but instead to just enjoy adorable friendly CGI hippo-pig frolicking with tween girl.

Maybe you’ll enjoy it if you like sanitized videos of fake animals. I think it dodged all the issues.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:41 pm
Проект «Леди Mail.Ru» опросил более 100 тысяч респондентов и выяснил, как в России распределяются бытовые обязанности в семье.

Более половины опрошенных (60 процентов) считают, что бытовые обязанности не должны делиться на «мужские» и «женские». Респонденты уверены: каждый делает ту работу, на которую способен и которая ему нравится. К тому же большинство из них отметили, что предпочитают распределять обязанности «мирным путем».

Однако выяснилось, что на практике «мирное» решение заканчивается тем, что готовит и моет полы в семье все равно чаще женщина — такое реальное положение дел подтвердил 71 процент пользователей. Мужчины стабильно стоят у плиты лишь в 4 процентах семей. Примерно так же обстоит ситуация с уборкой санузла, стиркой и глажкой. Любопытно, что 12 процентов семей предпочитают вовсе не гладить вещи.

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Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:45 pm
 Не к тому будь готов, чтобы исполнить то или другое, а к тому, чтобы претерпеть.
Михаил Евграфович Салтыков-Щедрин

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:38 pm
#авторская_колонка #одиссей

Обидевшись за список, перечислявший простенькие, не входящие в Уголовный Кодекс, ежедневные практики мудо-свинства, незнакомая женщина спросила меня в интернете, нет ли в моей картине мира "просто мужчин, отцов и братьев". Богинюшка, конечно же, были, и много. У меня было два отца, земной и небесный, и неисчислимое число отцов, братьев и прочих родственников, то и дело рвавшихся поучать, критиковать и стыдить. И да. Я довольно рано почувствовала, что общение с мужчинами - удовольствие сомнительное во всех смыслах, но не смогла довериться этим чувствам. Мир, населенный "просто мужчинами, отцами и братьями", продержался в моем воображении три десятилетия, и сегодня я хочу рассказать о событии, благодаря которому он окончательно рухнул.

Это был последний случай, когда меня кидали мужчины, потому что больше я не доверяла им ничего и никогда.

Зябким августовским утром, после бессонной ночи, которую я провела совсем не так, как рассчитывала, благодаря бывшему, мертвецки напившемуся ровно в то время, когда должен был доставить нашего сына, уезжавшего на соревнования, на другой конец города к 4 утра (надо ли говорить, что "половина расходов", вопреки его торжественным клятвам, не появилась ни перед поездкой, ни после), я оказалась на конечной станции метро, среди толпы грибников и дачников, ожидавших начала движения поездов.

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Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:36 pm
...в идеале социализация — это такое формирование личности, которое будет готовить личность к нормальной продуктивной жизни в обществе, в гармонии с собой и равенстве с другими людьми, давать определенный массив знаний, мнений и навыков. Однако на данный момент социализация людей обоих полов отражает и воспроизводит установки патриархата. И проблема не в том, что родители «неправильно» социализируют своих детей: нельзя, находясь в конкретном обществе, подготовить ребёнка к жизни в нем иначе, чем в соответствии с требованиями, которые лежат в его основе.

Итак, давайте сравним ЖГС и МГС:

1) МГС делает личность самостоятельной, сильной и уверенной, а ЖГС, наоборот, слабой, неуверенной, прислуживающей тенью «человека по умолчанию».

Искуственно созданные «ущербность» женщины и «превосходство» мужчины действительно работают подобно двум кусочкам паззла, перераспределяя ресурсы в паре Ж+М. Женские ресурсы подпитывают самореализацию мужчины и служат топливом его амбиций. Отсюда мы и имеем архетипные пары: мужчина-добытчик/женщина-домохозяка,
мужчина-творец/женщина-муза, мужчина-гений/женщина-нянечка, мужчина-герой/женщина-красавица. Всех их объединяет одно: женское время, энергия двигают вперёд не саму женщину, а её мужчину.

Разумеется, патриархальная женщина надеется, что выйдя замуж за солдата, в 60 она будет женой генерала, но и статистика разводов, и биографии «великих творцов» показывают, что стыковка МГС и ЖГС подобна стыковке двигателя с аккумулятором: когда батарейка сядет, её меняют на новую.

2) Претензии к «недостаточной мужественности» — не то же самое, что претензии к «неженственным женщинам». Грубо говоря, претензии к феминным мужчинам переводятся на человеческий как «Будь человеком, не унижайся до подстилки!», а женщине - «Не смей быть похожей на человека по умолчанию!»

В этом свете очень полезно разбирать отношение общества к геям и лесбиянкам и сравнивать их.

Женоненавистническая природа гомофобии и просто неприязни к женственным мужчинам давно очевидна. Когда речь заходит о геях, между строк читается возмущение: зачем человек унижает себя сходством с подстилками и, тем более, унижает себя сексуальным обслуживанием другого человека? Внимательно вслушавшись в традиционалистские аргументы, когда речь идёт о лесбиянках, вы увидите, что отсутствие мужчины в паре возмущает их больше, чем сама однополая связь. Условно говоря, когда традиционалисты смотрят на женскую семью, они видят двух недообслуженных мужчин, нерождённых детей и прочее, и прочее.

3) Пресловутый двойной узел: ты никогда не будешь хороша, что бы не делала, просто потому что ты женщина. И в этом главное отличие от МГС – у мужчин все наоборот. Мужских образов и архетипов намного больше, а сами образы и роли — разнообразнее. Женские же образы в своей основе сохраняют "реализацию как Женщины": мать, жена, муза. (о разнообразии мужских и недостатке женских ролей мы позже расскажем подробнее)

4) МГС, уверенность и сила облегчают противостояние любым требованиям даже при осуждении. Поэтому, даже если давление на мужчин в патриархате и есть, они МОГУТ ему противостоять. ЖГС же задаёт установку нравиться всем и за счёт этого понижает бунтарский дух.

5) То же с защитой своих прав и интересов — если для мужчин самозащита и обустройство окружающей среды под себя практически обязательно, то женщина, напротив, не может так делать: она должна покоряться и уступать, но не бороться. Здесь мы возвращаемся к первому пункту: установки ЖГС побуждают женщин не устраивать свою жизнь самостоятельно, а найти мужчину и вдохновлять его на устройство их общей жизни.

6) Мужчинам — секс как право, женщинам — секс как наказание. Когда идут дебаты о проституции, право мужчины покупать и трахать женщин не ставится под сомнение. Когда мы говорим о последствиях секса: абортах, беременности, матерях-одиночках, мужчина же остаётся за кадром. Сексуальное желание мужчины берётся за аксиому, а ответственность за то, что произойдёт после, ложится на женщину — здесь мы возвращаемся к концепту двигателя и батарейки, которую можно и нужно использовать и выбросить.

7) Социализация направляет мужской творческий вектор на окружающий мир, женская — на саму себя. Женщины рассматривают своё тело как объект любования, живую скульптуру, требующую украшения: этим и объясняется радость от макияжа, масок, пилингов, укладок и прочего самоукрашения. Однако самоукрашение — это сизифов труд, ведь наведённую утром красоту вечером придётся смывать, а тело упорно не подчиняется искуственным стандартам и отращивает волосы, жир, грубую кожу на местах, где они должны быть.

8) МГС включает принцип «цель оправдывает средства», а ЖГС — гиперэмпатию, болезненно развитое сострадание и легко возникающее чувство вины.

Паблик ВК "Страшная и горжусь этим", краткий курс фемтеории.

via Nataly Tokmakova
Thursday, June 29th, 2017 02:50 pm

Posted by msmash

Nicole Perlroth, and David Sanger, writing for The New York Times: Twice in the past month, National Security Agency cyberweapons stolen from its arsenal have been turned against two very different partners of the United States -- Britain and Ukraine. The N.S.A. has kept quiet, not acknowledging its role in developing the weapons (alternative source). White House officials have deflected many questions, and responded to others by arguing that the focus should be on the attackers themselves, not the manufacturer of their weapons. But the silence is wearing thin for victims of the assaults, as a series of escalating attacks using N.S.A. cyberweapons have hit hospitals, a nuclear site and American businesses. Now there is growing concern that United States intelligence agencies have rushed to create digital weapons that they cannot keep safe from adversaries or disable once they fall into the wrong hands. On Wednesday, the calls for the agency to address its role in the latest attacks grew louder, as victims and technology companies cried foul. Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat and a former Air Force officer who serves on the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, urged the N.S.A. to help stop the attacks and to stop hoarding knowledge of the computer vulnerabilities upon which these weapons rely.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:30 pm

Правительственные войска захватили мечеть Ан-Нури в Мосуле, откуда террористы из группировки "Исламское государство" три года назад провозгласили свой халифат, сообщает агентство Reuters. Вместо черного флага ИГ над мечетью поднят национальный иракский, кадры продемонстрированы под народную национальную музыку в эфире иракского ТВ. Военное командование Ирака объявило о завершении освобождения Мосула. "Их фиктивное государство пало", - заявил пресс-секретарь иракской армии Яхъя Расул.

Нетрудно догадаться, что Ирак не будет сильно препятствовать бегству уцелевших террористов на территорию Сирии. Пусть теперь Асад и Хезболла с ними воюет.
Thursday, June 29th, 2017 11:10 am

Posted by Alex Ward

That’s what a new DIA report says.

Russia believes the US wants regime change in Moscow; helped spark the Arab Spring; and is responsible for the ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the wars in Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya, and the revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.

Those are the major new findings in a new report the Defense Intelligence Agency just released. It has an anodyne title, “Russia Military Power,” but the primary conclusion is sobering: Russian strongman Vladimir Putin believes the US is orchestrating events that go against Russian interests, with the express goal of ensuring he loses power.

This is the first time in two decades the DIA released a report like this to the public. It stopped once the Soviet Union fell in 1991 — and now the report is back. That’s a bad sign, as the Pentagon’s top intelligence agency feels the need to publish a report it used to release during the Cold War.

At least it provides context as to why Moscow is so antagonistic toward the United States and its allies — and how that antagonism is only likely to get worse.

The Kremlin annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine’s south that Putin saw as historically belonging to Russia. Moscow continues to fight to keep Bashar al-Assad as the leader in Syria. It’s also funded the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight the US-backed government.

Most damagingly, Putin directed a widespread disinformation campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, cause Americans to doubt the integrity of their political process, and help Donald Trump win the White House rather than the more hawkish Hillary Clinton.

In effect, Putin is doing all he can to make Russia great again and keep himself in power. That’s why he’s spent so much time reinvesting in Russia’s military capabilities and trying to counter the US anywhere Moscow is working to secure its own interests.

Moscow’s shadow war with the US might get worse

“Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge,” DIA Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart wrote in the report’s foreword.

In effect, Russia is rebuilding its military in order to compete on the world stage. That would give Russia greater influence to get what it wants around the world, even if the US and its allies don’t like it.

“Moscow intends to use its military to promote stability on its own terms and to assert its great power status,” the report states.

This report is bad news for anyone who wanted friendlier relations with Russia — especially Trump. If anything, it looks like things are going to worse before they get better. And that means US spies at agencies like the DIA will have a lot to worry about in the years to come.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 10:50 am

Posted by Jimmy Williams

“The hypocrisy from both sides is staggering.”

I was sitting on Nantucket with a glass of wine in hand when I realized I couldn’t stomach the job any longer.

I was a lobbyist between 2003 and 2010 in Washington, DC. I quit in disgust. Years of legalized bribery had exposed me to the worst elements of our country’s political workings. Not even my half-million-a-year salary could outweigh my conscience.

In my years as a lobbyist, I worked for the alcohol industry, for the racing car industry, and for a billionaire named Carl Icahn. I met with hundreds of Congress members advocating for the political interests of my employers and clients. Now I make my living as a journalist and host of the Decode DC podcast, where I help listeners understand the inner workings of Washington.

When I tell people I used to be a lobbyist, their ears perk up. To me, people are intrigued because it feels like a hidden world. Most Americans don’t think they’ve ever met a lobbyist or actually understand what the hell a lobbyist does. Their only association is Jack Abramoff, who served time in a federal penitentiary for, among other things, bribing members of Congress. He was a bad guy, and his actions left a bitter taste in the mouths of the body politic.

But the truth is most lobbyists are not at all like Abramoff or his cronies were back in their glory days. They were the exception to the rule. Today, most lobbyists are engaged in a system of bribery but it’s the legal kind, the kind that runs rampant in the corridors of Washington. It’s a system of sycophantic elected leaders expecting a campaign cash flow, and in return, industry, interest groups, and big labor are rewarded with what they want: legislation and rules that favor their constituencies.

It’s a system that only responds to money, and after years playing and paying the game, I wanted out, fast.

Lobbying is perfectly legal — but it’s a right that gets abused

Now, before everyone gets their panties in a wad, let me be pointedly clear about something: I support lobbying and believe it’s an essential part of our constitutional right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Everyone in this country, from the left to the right, deserves a voice, and they should be heard loud and clear. If that means hiring a lobbyist to represent your point of view before Congress, awesomesauce. If that means you take to the streets, demand meetings and town halls with cowardly members of the House and Senate, or, better yet, run against them, I’m your biggest advocate.

But what I don’t support are Supreme Court rulings that have repeatedly told us money is an absolutely protected form of speech. A string of cases like Citizens United and others has opened the barn door to unlimited “dark money” campaign spending. Cases like Citizens gross me and most everyone else out because the result is the money in your politics becomes the voice in your politics. Americans’ right “to redress” comes at a cost, and if you don’t have the cash, chances are you’ll be ignored.

Bottom line: Those with the most money have the largest voices. Those with the least are rarely part of the process. That makes the legality of the practice of lobbying less relevant because it’s an uneven playing field.

My career in lobbying started with civil service

One doesn’t just become a lobbyist. There’s no college major or curriculum for it like studying law or medicine. Instead, you have to get a job in government. You have to become a cog in the wheel, and you have to learn the tricks of the trade, so to speak.

My career path was frankly the perfect road map to becoming a lobbyist. I started as an unpaid intern in the Senate and rose up through the ranks. Then I became the staff director for a Senate banking subcommittee and worked on important pieces of legislation like Dodd-Frank, which was signed into law in 2010 as an answer to Enron and its greed.

But the most important thing I did every day was to sit my ass on the floor of the Senate. I learned everything there is to know about how to make the Senate function smoothly, and, of course, the opposite: how to gum up the place so it came to a grinding halt. Both are equally effective when you’re in the business of dealmaking and getting legislation across the finish line or not.

But then something changed. The Senate became more of a place where you’d hear, “I object!” than it was a place where you’d hear, “The bill is passed.” And that’s why I got the hell out. Deals weren’t the norm. They became the exception.

So after six-plus years in the Senate, I “sold out” in 2003. I took everything I knew, every contact I’d made, every deal I’d struck in my political career and cashed in to become a good ol’ lobbyist.

I had fun at first. Unlimited expense accounts, nights out on the town, expensive bottles of wine, elaborate meals with sitting senators and Congress members — that was my life.

I attended fundraising breakfasts that led to committee hearings with the same Congress members or senators — a meeting that cost me or my political action committee a hefty $2,500 voting on the very legislation we’d talked about over bacon and eggs that morning.

Then there’d be a lunch fundraiser with a different Congress member, paid for by another $2,500 check to discuss the issues my clients cared about. Then they’d go and vote on those issues. It was an endless cycle of money trading hands for votes.

It’s a wonder members of the House and Senate actually have time to legislate when they spend so much of their damn time raising money.

Here’s how a legal “bribe” goes down in Congress

There’s always a subtleness that comes with campaign checks and public policy. But sometimes the subtlety goes away. When I was representing the wine and spirits distributors, I had scheduled a meeting with a member of the Nevada delegation. I had two of my Nevada clients with me, and we sat waiting patiently in the member’s reception area before I was summoned into his office.

I was asked to leave my clients in the lobby for the time being. When I entered his office, he stood up and shook my hand, and then asked me point blank: “Jimmy, we’ve called your PAC fundraiser on numerous occasions, and she hasn’t returned our calls. So why exactly are you here for a meeting?”

He held in front of me a call sheet with the times and dates both he and his fundraiser had called us for donations. They were highlighted in yellow. And my only response was, “I don’t know, Congressman, but I’ll take care of it.” He told me he hoped so and then said I could bring my clients into his office. They walked in, we sat down as if nothing had happened, he said he supported every one of our pertinent legislative issues, and then we all shook hands and walked out. Now this guy is no longer a member of Congress, but he supported my clients’ interest — and the legislation my clients wanted eventually passed the House and Senate and was signed into law.

How easy could an all-but-basic bribe have been, really? In a cab back to the office, I thought, “Oh, my God, did that just happen to me?” Thank God nothing quite as explicit ever happened again after that — but the winking and the nodding, that kept going and going and going.

Over the years, the work began to weigh on me. Every fundraiser was yet another legal bribe. Every committee hearing I’d look up and think, “I just bought his vote.” And every time I got a bill passed or, better yet, killed, I’d think to myself, “That wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t bought the outcome.”

This is what I was doing Monday through Friday for basically 52 weeks of the year, excluding congressional recesses and holidays. Put yourself in my shoes. Think you could handle it? Think your bank account could handle it? Better yet, think your conscience, your morals could handle it?

Mine couldn’t. I couldn’t bear the thought of playing the game. Maybe it would’ve been better if Congress actually gave a damn about your issues, what your clients had to say. But they often don’t. All too often, they just care about the money.

After eight years of paying for meetings with politicians, I had to get out. I sat on Nantucket with the guy I was dating at the time, and we talked about how gross it all was. At that point, MSNBC had offered me a decent contract as a “talking head,” and while it was way less than what I was making as a lobbyist, I just did it.

I got out and never looked back.

This isn’t a right or left issue. It affects everyone in Washington.

Know this: Lobbyists are not bad people. They’re simply doing their jobs, and those jobs are not only legal but protected by the First Amendment. The political left loves to shit all over lobbyists, but they dial for dollars just like their Republican brethren. And as for the political right? Well, at least they make no bones about paying to play. It’s “free speech by God. The Supreme Court makes it so!”

Blah blah blah. The hypocrisy from both sides is staggering.

President after president, including Trump, has decried the influence of money and lobbyists. And they’re right on the money. But that’s their biggest problem: They all decry the money yet beg for it like they’re in some Dickens novel: “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

The problem in this country isn’t our politicians left or right. It’s the money they can’t live without. If you really want Washington to change, then you should push to get rid of money in politics. It will take a constitutional amendment or a radical shift in the makeup of the Supreme Court, but hey, we've done both before.

And stop bitching about lobbyists, for Pete's sake. Stop crapping all over them for representing you, the American people, after they leave government service.

Oh, and by the way, if you really care, do something about it. After all, you're the people, and that's whom politicians fear the most.

Jimmy Williams is the host of DecodeDC in the Scripps Washington Bureau. He is a former MSNBC contributor and longtime Senate staffer and lobbyist.

First Person is Vox's home for compelling, provocative narrative essays. Do you have a story to share? Read our submission guidelines, and pitch us at firstperson@vox.com.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:17 pm

... а бреше як москаль.

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:15 pm
Оригинал взят у [personal profile] oleg_leusenko в Страна клептомании: на РФ стали воровать еще больше
Даже депутаты Госдумы не стесняются ох*евать от того, как воруют на России. Запредельный п*здец:

Татьяна Голикова рассказала, куда исчезли полтриллиона рублей за 2015г
Выступление Председателя Счетной палаты Татьяны Голиковой на заседании Государственной Думы с отчетом о работе Счетной палаты в 2016 году http://www.ach.gov.ru/structure/golikova-tatyana-alekseevna/speeches/30503/
Read more... )
Thursday, June 29th, 2017 06:14 pm
Проект военного бюджета США на 2018 год (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018) прошел утверждение Сенатского комитета по вооружениям (председатель МакКейн).
Общая сумма военного бюджета - 640 млрд долл.
Военная помощь Восточной Европе на противодействие российской агрессии - 4,6 млрд долл (в этом году было 3,4 млрд долл).
Военная помощь Украине (включая поставки летального оружия) - 500 млн долл (в этом году было 350 млн).

Надеюсь Украина не забудет эту помощь от США так же быстро как СССР забыл Лендлиз.