Tuesday, March 1, 2011
"It's silly on its best day. And everybody around me and everybody involved would attest to that," he told Stern of CBS's rationale for shutting 'Men' down. "The thing that's really frustrating is that I parked all my manic behavior and all my weirdness, and I got right to the point and I asked Chuck Lorre some very specific questions that everybody saw on the 'Today' show yesterday, and nothing, not a phone call, not a word, not an answer to any of these very basic questions that he's the only one that can answer."
He then added, "They [CBS] have certainly been up in my grill trying to micromanage my personal life. I kept telling them it is not in my contract, and as long as I am delivering and hitting every mark and killing every joke, then I do not even see why we are having a dialogue, you know?"
Sheen claims that the recent flurry of bizarre events has not affected his employability and that he has movie offers lined up that he'll pursue as soon as he knows what his TV schedule will be.
"They're all stepped up in full force. And they're really waiting to see what kind of schedule I have, which is dictated by my television schedule as you know. So I'm not worried about the movie side."
And as for his financial situation, that doesn't seem to be a problem either. When Stern questioned him about paying porn star Kacey Jordan $30,000 for her, ahem, time, when all she had asked for was five grand, Sheen said that he was paying her for future visits and chided Stern by saying, "I'm not a moron."
Although when he was questioned why he pays for their "time" when surely he could find a multitude of willing volunteers he demurred, "I don't know. That's a whole other segment ... we can get into that later."
Sheen refused the take Stern's bait to talk dirt about his ex-wife Denise Richards, saying they're better friends than when they were married. "She's fabulous, and she's smoking hot, and I just love her to death."
And as for his current romantic life with the "goddesses," when Stern asked him if he was in love, he simply said, "If that's the only word we can use, then yeah." Stern pressed Sheen to explain his current arrangement with porn star Bree Olson (whom he calls Rachel) and a mystery woman named Natty.
Howard Stern: Who is Natty? Is she a porn star?
Charlie Sheen: No, no, no, she's an artist. She's a young gal that I met through a mutual friend.
Stern: Charlie, this is unbelievable. So you're with Rachel/Bree Olson and Natty, and that's like your relationship, right? It's the three of you?
Sheen: Yeah, it is. I mean these women are fabulous and absolutely beautiful.
Stern: Are they willing to get it on with each other?
Sheen: Well, you would have to ask them.
Walker said the cuts could be paid for in large part by forcing government employees to pay more for their pension and health care benefits. But his proposal to do that—and to eliminate most collective bargaining—remains in limbo after Senate Democrats fled the state to prevent a vote.
"This is a reform budget," Walker said in prepared remarks. "It is about getting Wisconsin working again,
Walker's proposals have stirred a national debate over public-sector unions and drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the Capitol for three weeks.
The governor released his two-year budget in part to support his argument that public worker concessions are essential to confront a projected $3.6 billion shortfall.
By eliminating most collective bargaining, Walker says, state agencies, local governments and school districts will have flexibility to react quickly to the cuts he outlined during a joint session of the Legislature convened under heavy security.
Even though Walker isn't ordering immediate layoffs, his budget will put tremendous pressure on schools and local governments, which will be asked to shoulder huge cuts without raising property taxes to make up the difference.
Walker's budget includes a nearly 9 percent cut in aid to schools, which would amount to a reduction of nearly $900 million. The governor also proposed requiring school districts to reduce their property tax authority by an average of $550 per pupil.
Since 1993, the state's property tax limits have gradually risen to reflect increasing costs, and reducing them makes it more difficult for schools to make up the lost money.
Additionally, cities would get nearly $60 million less in aid, an 8.8 percent cut, while counties would lose over $36 million, a 24 percent reduction. They would not be allowed to increase property taxes except to account for new construction.
Walker estimates that his controls on property taxes would save $736 over the next two years for the owner of a home valued at the median price of $161,300.
He's also proposing a $500 million cut to Medicaid, which would be achieved through a number of changes that include increasing co-pays and deductibles and requiring participants in SeniorCare to be also be enrolled in Medicare Part D.
Walker asked for $82 million in tax cuts, including an expanded exclusion for capital gains realized on investments made in Wisconsin-based businesses. The Legislature previously approved more than $117 million in Walker-backed tax cuts that take effect later this year.
The budget also cuts funding at most state agencies, by 10 percent, except for salary and benefits.
He would permanently eliminate 735 positions that have been vacant for more than a year. Some other jobs could be cut as Walker moved to consolidate juvenile prisons and make other changes, but no widespread layoffs were envisioned. State spending over the next two years would go up a paltry 1.3 percent.
Walker also targets many law changes passed by Democrats in recent years.
He proposed undoing changes made by Democrats to allow prisoners to earn time off their sentences for good behavior. Instead, Walker would reinstitute a truth-in-sentencing law that he sponsored while a member of the Assembly.
He would also no longer allow children of illegal immigrants who attend state universities and colleges to pay in-state tuition.
Read more:Wis. governor proposes deep cuts for schools - The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnewsold/ci_17508480#ixzz1FOHz539s
Tuesday 01 March 2011
What if you went to a restaurant and found it rather pricey? Still, you ordered your meal and, when done, picked up the check only to discover that it was almost twice the menu price.
Welcome to the world of the real U.S. national security budget. Normally, in media accounts, you hear about the Pentagon budget and the war-fighting supplementary funds passed by Congress for our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That already gets you into a startling price range -- close to $700 billion for 2012 -- but that’s barely more than half of it. If Americans were ever presented with the real bill for the total U.S. national security budget, it would actually add up to more than $1.2 trillion a year.
Take that in for a moment. It’s true; you won’t find that figure in your daily newspaper or on your nightly newscast, but it’s no misprint. It may even be an underestimate. In any case, it’s the real thing when it comes to your tax dollars. The simplest way to grasp just how Americans could pay such a staggering amount annually for “security” is to go through what we know about the U.S. national security budget, step by step, and add it all up.
So, here we go. Buckle your seat belt: it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Fortunately for us, on February 14th the Obama administration officiallyreleased its Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget request. Of course, it hasn’t been passed by Congress -- even the 2011 budget hasn’t made it through that august body yet -- but at least we have the most recent figures available for our calculations.
For 2012, the White House has requested $558 billion for the Pentagon’s annual “base” budget, plus an additional $118 billion to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. At $676 billion, that’s already nothing to sneeze at, but it’s just the barest of beginnings when it comes to what American taxpayers will actually spend on national security. Think of it as the gigantic tip of a humongous iceberg.
To get closer to a real figure, it’s necessary to start peeking at other parts of the federal budget where so many other pots of security spending are squirreled away.
Missing from the Pentagon’s budget request, for example, is an additional $19.3 billion for nuclear-weapons-related activities like making sure our current stockpile of warheads will work as expected and cleaning up the waste created by seven decades of developing and producing them. That money, however, officially falls in the province of the Department of Energy. And then, don’t forget an additional $7.8 billion that the Pentagon lumps into a “miscellaneous” category -- a kind of department of chump change -- that is included in neither its base budget nor those war-fighting funds.
So, even though we’re barely started, we’ve already hit a total official FY 2012 Pentagon budget request of:
$703.1 billion dollars.
Not usually included in national security spending are hundreds of billions of dollars that American taxpayers are asked to spend to pay for past wars, and to support our current and future national security strategy.
For starters, that $117.8 billion war-funding request for the Department of Defense doesn’t include certain actual “war-related fighting” costs. Take, for instance, the counterterrorism activities of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. For the first time, just as with the Pentagon budget, the FY 2012 request divides what’s called "International Affairs" in two: that is, into an annual "base" budget as well as funding for "Overseas Contingency Operations" related to Iraq and Afghanistan. (In the Bush years, these used to be called the Global War on Terror.) The State Department’s contribution? $8.7 billion. That brings the grand but very partial total so far to:
The White House has also requested $71.6 billion for a post-2001 category called “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 which brings our total to:
The U.S. intelligence budget was technically classified prior to 2007, although at roughly $40 billion annually, it was considered one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington. Since then, as a result of recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, Congress has required that the government reveal the total amount spent on intelligence work related to the National Intelligence Program (NIP).
This work done by federal agencies like the CIA and the National Security Agency consists of keeping an eye on and trying to understand what other nations are doing and thinking, as well as a broad range of “covert operations” such as those being conducted in Pakistan. In this area, we won’t have figures until FY 2012 ends. The latest NIP funding figure we do have is $53.1 billion for FY 2010. There’s little question that the FY 2012 figure will be higher, but let’s be safe and stick with what we know. (Keep in mind that the government spends plenty more on “intelligence.” Additional funds for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), however, are already included in the Pentagon’s 2012 base budget and war-fighting supplemental, though we don’t know what they are. The FY 2010 funding for MIP, again the latest figure available, was $27 billion.) In any case, add that $53.1 billion and we’re at:
Veterans programs are an important part of the national security budget with the projected funding figure for 2012 being $129.3 billion. Of this, $59 billion is for veterans’ hospital and medical care, $70.3 billion for disability pensions and education programs. This category of national security funding has been growing rapidly in recent years because of the soaring medical-care needs of veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. According to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, by 2020 total funding for health-care services for veterans will have risen another 45%-75%. In the meantime, for 2012 we’ve reached:
If you include the part of the foreign affairs budget not directly related to U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other counterterrorism operations, you have an additional $18 billion in direct security spending. Of this, $6.6 billion is for military aid to foreign countries, while almost $2 billion goes for “international peacekeeping” operations. A further $709 million has been designated for countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating terrorism, and clearing landmines planted in regional conflicts around the globe. This leaves us at:
As with all federal retirees, U.S. military retirees and former civilian Department of Defense employees receive pension benefits from the government. The 2012 figure is $48.5 billion for military personnel, $20 billion for those civilian employees, which means we’ve now hit:
$1,034.2 billion. (Yes, that’s $1.03 trillion!)
When the federal government lacks sufficient funds to pay all of its obligations, it borrows. Each year, it must pay the interest on this debt which, for FY 2012, is projected at $474.1 billion. The National Priorities Project calculates that 39% of that, or $185 billion, comes from borrowing related to past Pentagon spending.
Add it all together and the grand total for the known national security budget of the United States is:
$1,219.2 billion. (That’s more than $1.2 trillion.)
A country with a gross domestic product of $1.2 trillion would have the 15th largest economy in the world, ranking between Canada and Indonesia, and ahead of Australia, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia. Still, don’t for a second think that $1.2 trillion is the actual grand total for what the U.S. government spends on national security. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously spoke of the world’s “known unknowns.” Explaining the phrase this way: “That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know.” It’s a concept that couldn’t apply better to the budget he once oversaw. When it comes to U.S. national security spending, there are some relevant numbers we know are out there, even if we simply can’t calculate them.
To take one example, how much of NASA’s proposed $18.7 billion budget falls under national security spending? We know that the agency works closely with the Pentagon. NASA satellite launches often occur from the Air Force’s facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Air Force has its own satellite launch capability, but how much of that comes as a result of NASA technology and support? In dollars terms, we just don’t know.