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February 19, 2009 is the current deadline for all analog broadcast television signals to be ceased.

There was a previous target deadline of Dec. 2006 but that wasn’t going to work out too well and now the date has been pushed back to 2009. You will still be able to access the digital signals with the rabbit ears, but if your TV is old enough to only have an analog tuner you will need to have a Digital signal converter box to continue to receive your free TV signals.

What about the poor and the elderly who don’t have enough money to get a new TV or a converter box? No problem, the Federal Government will save the day. You can receive assistance in purchasing a converter box with a $40 coupon that must be redeemed within three months of issuance, limit 2 per household.

There has been some discussion about how this will affect cable providers (don’t really care) and how it will affect smaller independent TV broadcasters (will probably force many of them from the market because of the prohibitive cost).

So, the FCC by congressional fiat is prohibiting the use of analog TV and then going to re-license the signals for other use. This will cause the small independent broadcasters sending out non approved messages to get out of the market and consolidate the distribution of information from TV into the few more financially sound stations.

Just to make sure we can all receive our broadcast instructions from the opinion makers, we can also get our converter boxes for almost free.

Told you we should get back to watching TV.

Comments Welcome

So yesterday I was writing about our culture that is too busy to care about important things that will actually affect your life. Like “missing” defense spending.

I am not so sure anymore that it really is missing. I have sort of incidentally been looking into some additional arguments about the money. It is on too large a scale to really be just by accident. I am sure that some of the money was actually mishandled but it appears that a great amount of the money is probably “missing” in the same sense that my kid with chocolate smears on her face “doesn’t know what happened” to the chocolate chip cookies they were supposed to leave alone.

As a matter of sleight of hand and having a successful lie, we are brought up on stories of government waste and incompetence. We are taught that the government isn’t good at doing anything. It is emotionally easier to believe that the money simply was mismanaged and is unaccounted for than to think that by design the money was taken and given to the right people. Corrupt government officials take advantage of a confusing time when accountability is practically nonexistent so they can rob people blind. This has been going on for a very long time at the local, state, and national level.

This way of doing business is easier for people to stomach (if they quit following the stories about who fathered Anna Nicole Smith’s baby) than to think that the money is being given to friends of the administration. Whoops! We lost $30 Billion in Iraq! War sure is confusing! is a much easier line to want to believe than to think, “they have given $30 Billion to their friends and associates and used the Iraq war as cover for it”. It just doesn’t seem plausible that anyone would really be so incompetent and just lose that much money that fast without some kind of assurance that they would not be accountable for those kind of mistakes. People have gone to jail for mishandling less money than that.

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Some facts to consider:

The U.S. flew in over 360 tons of cash into Iraq. A C-130 cargo plane is a military staple for cargo shipments. Their average capacity is around 34,000 lbs. to 36,500 lbs. for normal shipping. With an average of 35,000 lbs per shipment, to send 720,000 lbs of cash would require 21 plane loads. This money was shipped on pallets. Someone must have been keeping track of that shipment.

There was over $20 Billion in money from Iraqi Oil money and frozen assets released to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in power until the Iraqis could set up a government of their own. The following quotes are all from the article linked immediately above.

Exactly how many billions of additional dollars were squandered, stolen, given away, or simply lost will never be known because the deliberate decision by the CPA not to meter oil exports means that no one will ever know how much revenue was generated during 2003 and 2004.
 

and . . .

Considerable fraud has been alleged regarding American companies, much of which can never be addressed because the Bush administration does not regard contracts with the CPA as pertaining to the U.S. government, even though U.S. taxpayer dollars were involved in some transactions. 

and . . .

Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, has a no-bid monopoly contract with the Army Corps of Engineers that is now estimated to be worth $10 billion. In June 2005, Pentagon contracting officer Bunny Greenhouse told a congressional committee that the agreement was the “most blatant and improper contracting abuse” that she had ever witnessed, a frank assessment that subsequently earned her a demotion. 

and . . .

The undocumented cash flow continued long after the CPA folded. Over $1.5 billion was disbursed to interim Iraqi ministries without any accounting, and more than $1 billion designated for provincial treasuries never made it out of Baghdad. More than $430 million in contracts issued by the Petroleum Ministry were unsupported by any documentation, and $8 billion were given to government ministries that had no financial controls in place. 

and perhaps the worst part of all . . .

The educated and entrepreneurial [the leaders!] are leaving the country in droves, as is most of the beleaguered Christian minority. Huge government appropriations are approved by Iraqi lawmakers and then simply disappear. Meanwhile, life for the average Iraqi does not improve, and oil production, water supplies, and electricity generation are all at lower levels than they were when the U.S. took control in 2003. The only thing that everyone knows is that all the money is gone and daily life in Iraq is worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. 

I don’t know how to even evaluate claims like that or even how to verify that they are true and here is why: there is almost a complete media blackout about what is really going on in Iraq. There is no way to get a comprehensive view of what is going on because it is too dangerous and reporters have no protection to report on anything outside of areas not already controlled by the U.S. or the U.K. military.

The Green Zone is a very small area in Baghdad where it is “safe”. There are military media minders and the media only has access that they are given and provided by the military. If they go out of those closely guarded areas, their lives may be in danger.

This Video with footage from the BBC shows British SAS soldiers possibly inciting violence as they pretended to be Arabs.

Estimates of Iraqi dead from the invasion range from 300,000 to almost 1 Million. These numbers do include deaths from starvation and disease, not just the violent ones.

Here is part 1 of 4 of a BBC documentary regarding Jessica Lynch and her recovery from the hospital. The Pentagon did not release any additional video to help clear up any confusion. It also looks at the difficulties of media coverage in a war zone with military media minders. Part 2 of 4. Part 3 of 4. Part 4 of 4.

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It would not be hard in such an environment for money to just be given into the right hands and no one can be the wiser. There is no single person to blame, and all the right palms get greased.

It also appears that knowing how to take bribes, even if you get caught, makes you qualified to serve on a Homeland Security Panel as a Congressman.

It appears that the money was taken, not just missing.

Maybe I should go back to watching TV.

Comments Welcome

The times, they are a changin’.

According to this article, about 300 anti war protesters were marching on the capitol building last Saturday. The Capitol Police (regulated by the U.S. Congress) were present to block their progress toward the capitol. The police chief ordered the officers on hand to back off, let the people through and not arrest any of them while they sprayed graffiti on the capitol steps.

The steps were cleaned up after the protesters left. A few of the protesters were at least prevented from entering more sensitive areas or entering the capitol itself.

This shows a disregard for the property of the capitol on the part of whoever told the police chief to not arrest any of the protesters that were vandalizing the capitol steps.

This also shows that congress cares more about the areas they access regularly (the inside of the building and other sensitive areas) than the areas the public accesses. This may be a case of protection for me but not for thee.

So to sum up: Capitol Police officers were ordered to stand by and watch as the capitol was vandalized and no arrests were permitted to be made. Enforced lawlessness is not a good sign of the management of the capitol.

Maybe I will find a story of congress actually setting fire to a pile of cash while the taxpayers who paid it are watching.

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