"Rule of law is not for sale in America
Examiner Staff Writer
April 29, 2010
"Legislators in the sovereign state of Arizona apparently missed the documentary "Un Sueno Americano." And well they should have.
Earlier this month, Arizona passed a law giving police the power to question people about their immigration status. But not just any people. Those questioned must have been stopped by police for a perfectly legal reason first.
Terry stops -- what police call "stop, question and frisk" stops -- have been legal since 1968, so the Arizona law is perfectly constitutional. (Memo to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder: Now might be a good time for the two of you to actually read the Constitution you've sworn to uphold. You might want to add the Supreme Court's 1968 opinion in Terry v. Ohio to your list.)
Arizona's law passing constitutional muster didn't stop the predicted outcry from America's repeal-all-immigration-laws-now crowd. No sooner was the law passed than charges of racism sprang up. I'm betting critics haven't even read Arizona's law, but they've probably watched repeated showings of "Un Sueno Americano."
I caught the film on the Documentary Channel, which I stumbled across by cruising through my DirecTV program guide. I love documentaries, so finding a channel that airs them nearly 24 hours a day made me feel as if I'd died and gone to Chicago. (Yeah, I love Chicago too.)
When done right, documentaries can entertain and inform. "Un Sueno Americano" didn't entertain very much, but it sure as heck informed. And here's what I learned.
Did you know the rule of law is up for sale in America?
"Un Sueno Americano" -- Spanish for "An American Dream" -- is blatantly pro-illegal immigration. That is, pro-illegal immigration from one direction. That would be from south of the United States into the United States. I suspect the producers of "Un Sueno Americano" feel Mexico's immigration laws are perfectly fine.
The gist of the film is that those who enter the United States illegally are coming here to be part of the American dream, in hopes of getting a better life. At one point the film's scriptwriters mention that the poverty rate in Mexico is 40 percent. The implication is that those Mexican poor are somehow the responsibility of the United States, not Mexico.
But here is where that logic -- if indeed it can be called that -- breaks down. If America is obligated to take in Mexico's poor and educate them, and provide them with health care and jobs, then it has that obligation to the poor of every nation in the world.
How many people would that be, exactly? The numbers are staggering; we simply can't afford to do it.
The more practical solution is the one everybody ignores: Implore or compel the Mexican government to address the needs of its own poor so they don't have to sneak into the United States illegally. But suggest that and the charges of racism will fly anew.
At another point in "Un Sueno Americano" some guy is going on and on about is the billions of dollars illegal immigrants add to the American economy in pursuit of their dream. But the American dream is worthless without the rule of law. Or, to quote our president on the matter of immigration: "We must remain a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws."
So the film's producers are saying, in essence, that because illegal immigrants bring us a ton of money, then somehow the rule of law is canceled in this country. Either that, or the rule of law is for sale in America.
That might be true in Mexico, but it sure as heck ain't the case here."
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Rule-of-law-is-not-for-sale-in-America-92316274.html
"HOW MUCH IS 'ENOUGH'?By Neal Boortz
@ April 30, 2010 9:38 AM
"Just want you to ponder this one as we head toward the weekend ...
In our economy, who decides how much money you should be allowed to make? Is it your employer? If you are working for someone else, clearly your employer sets the salary. But that is not necessarily your full earning potential .. if you want to earn more money you can find more jobs or engage in some other entrepreneurial activities to increase the amount of money you are earning. So, no, your bosses decision on your salary does not limit what you can earn. So what are you limited by? In a capitalist, free-enterprise economy, you are limited by only two things: your abilities and your work ethic. The rich keep getting richer because they keep doing whatever it was that made them rich. Ditto for the poor. YOU decide how hard you want to work. YOU decide how many jobs you want to have. YOU decide how much money you want to make.
But what about in the world according to Barack Obama? Would you like to live in a country where the GOVERNMENT decides how much money you get to make? Would you like to live in a country where politicians get to opine over what kind of money you should make?
Well this is what Barack Obama had to say to a crowd in Illinois, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."
According to whom, Mr. President?? What business do you have even expressing an opinion as to how much anyone not working for you should or should not make? If I'm not mistaking, didn't you pull down a cool $5 million last year? I guest we can all assume then that you don't think that $5 million is too much. Well, at least we have that.
Don't you see the inherent danger in a president of the United States who gets out there and tells you that there is a certain point where you've made "enough" money? OK, well let's define that "point." Is it when you make an 8-hour day? Is it when I make a million dollars a year? What the hell business is it of his?
What this comment displays is the true character of Barack Obama. This comment, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money" was unscripted .. it was off teleprompter. It was not pre-approved by the ObamaDrones. His dogwashers didn't scrub that comment down, making sure that every word is carefully chosen and crafted to be politically correct and safe. But I guess they can only contain him so much. A true wealth redistributor, a true lover-of-government, can only hide for so long before he is caught with his pants down."
Quoted exactly as posted including picture.
"he (Obama) spoke the most revealing and clarifying 10 words of his administration this week: "I think at some point you have made enough money."
"At some point you have grabbed enough powerSource Powerlineblog.com
April 30, 2010 Posted by Scott at 7:12 AM
"Given that poorer citizens always outnumber the rich, the classic political philosophers held that government based on majority rule was untenable. They were of the view that it would lead to organized theft from the wealthy by the democratic masses. Thus Aristotle warned in The Politics, for example: "If the majority distributes among itself the things of a minority, it is evident that it will destroy the city."
The Founders of the United States were deep students of politics and history, and they shared Aristotle's concern. Up through their time, history had shown all known democracies to be "incompatible with personal security or the rights of property." James Madison and others held that the "first object of government" was to protect the rights of property. Numerous provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were incorporated to protect the property rights of citizens from the power of the government.
Whatever else might be said about him, President Obama operates on a different philosophy of government from that of the Founders. As Michelle Malkin observes, he spoke the most revealing and clarifying 10 words of his administration this week: "I think at some point you have made enough money."
The Founders thought that at some point the government had enough power. Obama, however, is a devout believer in unlimited government. The common denominator among so-called health care reform and financial regulatory reform as well as Obama's other big proposals is the augmented power they confer on the government in general and the executive branch in particular.
Alluding to other elements of Obama's Quincy speech earlier this week, Michelle observes that we have a president who presumes to know when you have earned "enough," who believes that only those who provide what he deems "good" products and services should "keep on making it," and who has determined that the role of American entrepreneurs is not to pursue their own self-interest, but to fulfill their "core" responsibility as dutiful growers of the collective economy. Michelle concludes: "That famous mock-up poster of Obama as the creepy socialist Joker never seemed more apt."
JOHN adds: Federal employees now are paid much more money than their counterparts in private industry. Is Obama willing to acknowledge that they earn "enough" and should forgo future pay increases? Obama himself earned more than $5 million last year. Is that "enough"? George Soros has made countless millions from currency manipulations that many regard as little better than extortion. Does he have "enough"? I suspect that "enough" will prove to be a standard that is both highly flexible and intimately related to political influence."
Via SteveQuayle.com Q News
"Megabanks: The Banking Oligarchy That Controls Assets Equivalent To 60 Percent Of America’s GNP
"Today financial power is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals. In fact, the six biggest banks in the United States now possess assets equivalent to 60 percent of America's gross national product. Back in the 1990s that figure was less than 20 percent. These six banks - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo - literally dictate what goes on in the U.S. banking industry. These entities are the poster children for "too big to fail", and they donate massive amounts of cash to the campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats to ensure that they will continue to receive favorable treatment. The vast majority of Americans have had a banking account, a credit card and/or a mortgage with one of these institutions at some point. If they acted in concert, these six banks could literally bring down the U.S. economy overnight if they wanted to. Together with the Federal Reserve, these six banks represent the real financial power in America. They are the 800 pound gorilla in the room that influences nearly every major financial deal that gets done and virtually every major political decision that gets made. As the last couple of years have demonstrated, top politicians from both parties (John McCain and Barack Obama for example) will instantly jump into action and start advocating that the U.S. government spend billions upon billions of dollars when the interests of these behemoths are threatened. The frightening thing is that the power of these megabanks is growing at a frightening pace. As dozens upon dozens of smaller U.S. banks are "allowed to fail", they either go out of existence or the Feds actually encourage these smaller banks to sell themselves to one of the big sharks. In either event, the banking power in the United States becomes further consolidated in the hands of the megabanks.
Bill Moyers recently interviewed Simon Johnson and James Kwak, the authors of a new book entitled 13 Bankers: The Wall St. Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. During that interview Kwak described to Moyers just how explosive the growth of the power of these megabanks has been....
Bill Moyers: And you write that they control 60 percent of our gross national product?
James Kwak: They have assets equivalent to 60 percent of our gross national product. And to put this in perspective, in the mid-1990s, these six banks or their predecessors, since there have been a lot of mergers, had less than 20 percent. Their assets were less than 20 percent of the gross national product.
Does it alarm you that the banking elite have accumulated such a large amount of financial power?
It should. These institutions have the power to wreck entire economies. Just consider what happened in Greece lately. Now, it is being alleged that the megabanks are ripping off American cities with the same kinds of predatory deals that brought down the financial system in Greece.
And that is what these megabanks are.
They are predators.
In fact, a very revealing article in Rolling Stone described Goldman Sachs this way....
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
Unfortunately, they may have actually been understating things a bit.
These megabanks have rigged the game so that the wealth of the nation is slowly transferred from us to themselves and to the international financial interests that control them.
They can make money if the markets are going up, and they can make money if the markets are going down.
For example, in a newly released email from the height of the housing crash, the CEO of Goldman Sachs bragged that his firm "made more than we lost" by betting against the housing market.
Thankfully the SEC is starting to look into the fraud that Goldman Sachs committed during this time period, but the truth is that Goldman is not likely to receive any more than a slap on the wrist for what it has done.
They are way too big, way too powerful and have too many friends in high places for them to get into any real trouble.
For example, it has come out that Barack Obama does not intend to return any of the campaign contributions that he received from Goldman Sachs. And surely they will be glad to continue to pour big money into his political coffers.
So where does that leave the rest of us?
Well, the rest of us can expect higher taxes and a lower standard of living according to the IMF. The IMF (which has deep connections to these megabanks) says that the party is "over" for nations that have been enjoying the good life. In a recent article, the Washington Post summarized the message that the IMF is trying to communicate through their recent policy papers....
To keep the global economy on track, people in the United States and the rest of the developed world need to work longer before retiring, pay higher taxes and expect less from government. And the cheap imports lining the shelves of mega-chains such as Wal-Mart and Target? They need to be more expensive.
So are you ready to work longer, pay higher taxes, expect less from government and have a lower standard of living?
That is what the IMF says we are all going to be facing in the years ahead.
We are all going to financially suffer as the megabanks continue to thrive and consolidate power.
Isn't that wonderful?
You say you don't like that so much?
Well, good luck taking on the 800 pound gorilla."
Link to the Forbes column referenced below .... suggested reading.
"Still Government Motors
Shikha Dalmia, 04.23.10, 03:40 PM EDT
GM is paying back Uncle Sam to shake him down for more money.
"Investigate thisSource Powerlineblog.com
April 28, 2010 Posted by Scott at 6:55 AM
"Last week General Motors chairman and chief executive officer Edward Whitacre took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to make an important announcement: "The GM bailout: Paid back in full.". Whitacre asserted that GM had paid back all the funds it borrowed from the United States in full with interest.
Whitacre omitted two facts that rendered his column highly misleading. They are the kind of omissions that constitute securities fraud when made by a company in connection with the purchase or sale of a security or when a company reports its financial results.
If any investor bought GM shares based on Whitacre's column, it appears to me that the investor would have a good claim against GM. The SEC would in any event be warranted in taking a look at Whitacre's shenanigans on behalf of the company.
First, Whitacre omitted any mention of the remaining $50 billion or so that the government has sunk in the company's equity. Second, Whitacre omitted any mention of the source of the funds with which GM "repaid" the loan. According to TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky, the source of the funds in whole or in substantial part was the United States government TARP program, not GM earnings. Shikka Dalmia has much more detail on the misrepresentations permeating Whitacre's public relations blitz in this Forbes column.
Whitacre's Wall Street Journal column was, in short, a fraud. But it was a fraud of a special kind. It was a fraud committed with the assistance if not the urging of the Obama administration. It was not, in short, the kind of fraud that Michigan Senator Carl Levin or his Democratic counterparts chairing other Senate committees will be holding hearings on any time soon.
I assume that Whitacre got paid by the Wall Street Journal for his fraudulent column and that the funds were paid over to General Motors. The GM advertisement below commits the same fraud as Whitacre committed in his Journal column, but this one is committed by Whitacre at GM's expense, underwritten by taxpayers. Someone in a position of authority really ought to investigate this.
GM YouTube Commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbXpV0aqEM4
Via Matthew Continetti/The Blog. "
President follows Europe into places Europeans no longer want to go
By MATT WELCH
Last Updated: 4:49 AM, April 25, 2010
Posted: 1:01 AM, April 25, 2010
Source New York Post
With the stunning emergence of the consumption-based Value Added Tax (VAT) as a legitimate public policy option, the Obama administration has now all but made it official: There is no European economic idea too extreme for 21st century America. Even if the Europeans themselves are largely headed in the opposite direction.
VAT, first rolled out in 1950s France, is a sales tax on everything that every person or entity buys within a country, with exceptions or reductions carved out for things like food, newspapers, or various links along the industrial supply chain.
But as the last 18 months of federal misgovernance has aptly demonstrated, we do not live in anything like an ideal world.
The only reason VAT is even on the table right now is that bureaucrats like VAT enthusiast Nancy Pelosi have an appetite for spending that far outpaces Americans’ willingness to cough up their hard-earned dough. Every statehouse and city council across the land is literally out of money, and turning to the only people who can print the stuff: Washington.
The federal government spent $3.5 trillion last year while taking in just $2.1 trillion, producing a deficit-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio of 10%, a level not seen since World War II. By contrast, the European Union requires member countries to keep deficits at 3% of GDP. If America was in Europe, we’d be Greece.
What’s worse for us is that we’ve pretty much given up trying to address the root problem, which is the decade long spending binge initiated byGeorge W. Bush and then tripled down on by Barack Obama. The VAT isn’t a way to streamline a complicated tax code; it’s a new spigot to flood money into the pockets of teachers who can’t be fired, and securities regulators who can’t get enough porn.
The grand irony here is that the very continent we’re scrambling to emulate has been moving aggressively in the opposite direction on taxes and economic policy.
While the US keeps corporate taxes frozen near 40%, EU countries have slashed them down to an average of around 25%. Top marginal income tax rates, which in the US are 35%, are under 25% all across the former East Bloc.
As the share of government spending in health care has been steadily increasing in the US, it has been inching downward in Europe. While first Bush and then Obama pushed through massive new public entitlements, governments from Stockholm to Rome have been grappling with real private reform.
Though conservatives especially like to sneer at the democratic socialism of Old Europe, it is precisely those cheese-eaters in France and Vikings up north who have been leading the world in privatization these last two decades, selling off everything from airports to sewage companies.
It was hardly an accident that, in the midst of Washington’s partial nationalization of Detroit automakers, Swedish Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson announced “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.” With this week’s news that General Motors is “paying back” one set of Troubled Asset Relief Program loans from another pile of TARP money, we can see why Europeans have a lot to teach us about separation of industry and state.
Where Republicans look across the Atlantic and see soft socialists worth avoiding, Democrats see enlightened progressives worth emulating. And it does not matter how little reality conforms to either fantasy.
So now the federal government is pushing to ape Germany and France in paying individuals far-above-market prices for selling their excess solar or wind power back to the electricity grid. The only problem? Those countries are running, not walking, away from those unaffordable programs.
The same dynamic is at play with labor relations.President Obama is on record pushing organized labor’s dream policy of “card check,” which would drastically bump up private sector unionism after decades of steady decline, and he has gone so far as appoint to his bipartisan “deficit commission” the notorious labor honcho Andy Stern.
Meanwhile Germany, which has the tightest labor-management-government relations in the EU, has been aggressively loosening, not tightening, workplace rules.
The fact that America’s most influential public-sector union leader is within a thousand miles of a deficit commission, let alone one that is floating the idea of an American VAT, tells you all you need to know about the relationship between any new consumption tax and fiscal responsibility. Which is to say, there isn’t any.
The solution to unsustainable budget deficits and precarious debt levels remains the same as when Barack Obama took office: Stop spending so much ed money. Until government gets serious about that, trial balloons for gobbling ever-more tax money deserve nothing more than a good swat.
And we’ll be left with a massive exodus of business geniuses to that bastion of capitalism — France."
"Boyd: I won't sign GOP oath to run for (GA) governor
"ATLANTA -- A GOP businessman who has thrown $2 million of his own money into running for governor is refusing to swear loyalty to the state Republican Party.
Party leaders say the oath is required to run as a Republican in Georgia.
But Ray Boyd said he cannot pledge allegiance to a party "that's drifted away from its core principles."
"I'm not a Republican who follows the sheep," Boyd said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"They're going to have to throw me out of the party because I am prepared to go to the mat over this."
Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart said Boyd must either sign the pledge or he cannot run on the GOP line.
"I don't know what the big problem is - you either are a Republican or you're not," she said.
"This is not saying you can't disagree with the party, people do that all the time. This says that he agrees with our principles and that he will agree to abide by those principles."
Boyd said he's provided the state party with alternative language - saying he would not be bound by any position of the Georgia Republican Party - but Everhart wouldn't listen.
He likened Everhart to (Democratic House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi.
The 67-year-old from Rutledge burst upon the Georgia political scene when earlier this month he filed paperwork showing he has invested $2 million of his own money into winning the Republican nomination for governor. Seven other Republican candidates were already jockeying for the GOP nod.
His $2 million gambit immediately became the talk of state politics. While wealthy political insiders don't have a track record of success on the campaign trail in Georgia, an anti-incumbent wind this year has left many wondering of Boyd could stir things up, particularly with tea party activists in the state.
In Georgia, candidates must qualify to run with their respective parties, paying a fee and filing paperwork. The parties then submit the names of the qualified candidates to state elections officials to be placed on the ballot.
Georgia law allows state political parties to require a specific pledge if they choose.
The state Republican Party has adopted the oath as part of its rules. The state Democratic Party has not and a spokesman said no similar pledge is required to run as a Democrat.
Boyd said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's decision to strip state Sen. Preston Smith of his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee for failing to support a new tax on hospitals showed why he could not sign an oath to the GOP.
"It reaffirms to me why I'm running against these politicians who will sign anything, they will say anything," Boyd said. "It's an oath, by God, it means something to me."
Everhart said the next move will be up to Boyd.
"I don't know what else to do for this gentleman. I think he is angry and wants to have his way," she said."
Came in email.
April 20, 2010
"The New Front in the War on Wealth
By Steve McCann
Source The American Thinker
"With the current and projected level of unsustainable spending and the determination to control the day-to-day activities of the American people, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress will do anything to expand revenue to the Treasury, the consequences (unintended or otherwise) be <snip>ed.
The United States under the current governing regime continues to move toward a powerful central government. As a step in that direction, the Congress and the White House recently granted the Internal Revenue Service more police power to not only collect taxes, but within that process, to negate the legal rights of the people to petition the courts and to control the behavior of American and non-American taxpayers.
On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed yet another stimulus act ($17.5 billion) using the innocuous-sounding title of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (cynically abbreviated to H.I.R.E.). This bill was touted as another step in helping job creation. In reality, it does the opposite.
Hidden within the bowels (page 27) of this so-called jobs legislation is an unreported (in the once-mainstream media) provision known as Foreign Account Tax Compliance. Apparently, the congressional leadership did not want attention focused on this as a standalone bill, so it was hidden within a much more popular-sounding jobs bill. The justification for passing this provision was ostensibly to crack down on so-called tax evaders.
In summary, this bill requires that foreign banks and financial institutions disclose the full details of American account-holders to the IRS -- and to withhold 30% of all outgoing capital flows into those accounts if the IRS (not the courts) deems the account-holder "recalcitrant." These requirements would also apply to non-American citizens living in the United States or to foreigners having investments and paying taxes within the country.
If these stipulations are deemed illegal by a given foreign nation's domestic laws, then the financial institution and the account-holder are required to close the account.
The end result of this action, if allowed to stand, will be to force banks and other foreign financial institutions to stop doing business within the United States, and further, make the country much less attractive to foreign investors, who will now come under the heavy hand of the IRS.
Per the Swiss Bankers Association, "These measures could have a boomerang effect and will make the US less attractive for foreign investors."
And per the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, "A lot of banks simply will not be able to do business in the US and that would cause considerable damage to the US economy."
Not only banks, but the activities of asset-managers and securities-dealers will be affected. The administrative cost of tracking down all U.S. (citizen and non-citizen) clients and making efforts to make sure that they are tax-compliant will be enormous and impractical.
Therefore, foreign investors viewing the overall landscape of what was once the preeminent nation for investment will not subject themselves to the machinations of the IRS and other enforcement agencies, which have been given unlimited power to broadly interpret regulatory bills passed by this Congress and signed by President Obama.
The IRS, through its police power, can now involve itself in the ability of U.S. citizens to choose where and how they can invest their money or have bank accounts.
Actions such as this will result in minimal long-term domestic and foreign capital investment in new ventures or expansion of existing businesses in the United States. The country is experiencing a recovery, but one limited to financial intuitions and Wall Street (underwritten by the taxpayer). The current stock market rebound reflects a surge in cash investment before massive income and capital gains tax increases begin in 2011. However, with actions such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance provision, job creation so vital to the nation's economic health will not occur."
"IndyMac Attack: Did Schumer, Paulson, Soros, and the CRL Kill the Bank and Profit From Its Collapse?
"At the end of 2007, hedge fund billionaire John Paulson invested $15 million in the leftist non-profit, Center for Responsible Lending, their largest single donation ever. Around the same time, Paulson and his employees contributed over $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed, at the time, by Sen. Chuck Schumer. Roughly six months later, CRL and Sen. Schumer both launched a highly public attack on the California-based mortgage lender, Indymac. The lender failed, wiping out the investment of thousands of people. Roughly six months after that, John Paulson, in partnership with George Soros, bought up the remnants of Indymac for pennies on the dollar.
It is a drama that no longer surprises us, unfortunately. Wealthy investors use their access to elected officials and their checkbook to advocacy groups for private profit. But this story has a twist; a top executive of CRL when this deal went down, Eric Stein, is now working at the Treasury Department, heading up the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Mr. Stein will be the chief federal official designing regulations to protect consumers. Right.
This is that story.
Financial crises create opportunities. Prudent and discerning entrepreneurs who save their capital for a rainy day are able to acquire assets at firesale prices and put these assets to higher and better uses. Market forces cleanse wasteful malinvestments, innovative business models make existing ones obsolete and the economy roars forward all the stronger for it.
But while market entrepreneurs generally prosper during times of great dislocation, ultimately to the benefit of all participants in the economy, today political entrepreneurs have hijacked the economic system. The politically connected elites have used this downturn to carry out a massive wealth transfer from the people to the public and private sectors, fleecing the middle class for their own enrichment. In their hypocrisy, the long ago small businesses that grew large because of free markets have helped chain these markets through lobbying for regulations and subsidies to shield themselves from competition and their own errors.
This has occurred most egregiously in the financial sector, where there has been a veritable free-for-all in legalized political plunder. Those who understand the illusory nature of our monetary and symbiotically related political and financial systems have clamored to profit as much as possible before the house of cards falls, with the sanction of our supposed representatives.
The biggest asset bubble contributing to this Depression, occurring in housing, was largely attributable to artificially low interest rates, government agencies and concomitant policies that pushed profligate lending, and the lobbying and more brutish efforts put forth by the groups that proliferated around and prescribed to the pollyanish at best and perverse at worst “home-ownership for every American” persuasion.
Here at Big Government we have been working to pull the veil back and expose these organizations, most notably in the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). As readers may recall, most recently we examined the Center’s alleged lobbying violations. This organization is highly significant in that for its efforts, the CRL has won a front row seat in helping design the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), as one of its major architects is former CRL senior executive Eric Stein who is serving as the Treasury Deputy Secretary for Consumer Protection and will likely be tabbed as the CFPA Czar.
Like with all of the economic and social justice-peddling shell organizations, in the case of the CRL the acorn does not fall far from the ACORN. Hidden beneath an innocuous title is an organization in the CRL whose activities serve ends directly opposite of those they purport to promote. Under the guise of fostering fairness in lending, the CRL has been used as an attack dog to force banks to lend to poor credit risks. Due to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), redlining lawsuits and the intimidation of groups like the CRL, many banks were threatened into creating mortgage products such as Alt-A and NINJA loans, discarding all rational lending standards and helping create a market ripe for speculators and sure to ultimately be delinquent homeowners.
That the CRL has been largely funded by the Sandler family of option-ARM (and SNL) fame in itself stinks. The Sandlers, Co-CEOs of Golden West Bank were major underwriters of these mortgages generally structured to have low “teaser” rates in early years, followed by massive increases in rates when the mortgages reset, rates that many borrowers could never afford. The explosion in this imprudent lending helped pump housing prices to epic levels, and the Sandlers wisely dumped these mortgages on Wachovia as the bubble reached its apogee. This is a Soros-like strategy of playing the market, which is likely no coincidence as we will soon see.
John Paulson, recently back in the news due to the SEC’s civil suit against Goldman Sachs was the most famous winner of the subprime mortgage debacle, as he used derivatives to bet against mortgage-backed securities that in some cases he had worked with banks to create in order to profit when the housing market crashed. He has received much acclaim for being an astute investor who took a contrarian view and put his money to work accordingly even in the face of rising housing prices, placing bets that ended up paying off handsomely. Paulson & Co. earned an unprecedented $15 billion from the trades, and Paulson himself was said to pocket approximately $4 billion in 2007.
While overnight, Paulson became a celebrity in the financial community, with the media following his every move, interestingly one tidbit seems to have largely evaded them. As John Paulson noted in a statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in November of 2008,
As we saw the difficulty homeowners were having in making mortgage payments, in July 2007, prior to the initiation of any government support programs, Paulson & Co. made a $15 million charitable contribution to the Center for Responsible Lending to form the Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistance (IFLA). The institute supports local groups across the country providing legal representation to families facing foreclosure.
That Paulson would make such a donation is ironic, in that his contribution came from money that Paulson & Co. had earned from the collapse of the very housing bubble that the CRL had helped to blow. While most in the media remained mum on this curious gift, to its credit, Business Week provided a disturbing but logical reason for it, insinuating that Paulson was to financially benefit from a bankruptcy reform bill that the CRL was advocating.
According to a trade publication called the Credit Union Times, in early 2008 Republican Representative Patrick McHenry sent a letter to Democratic Representative Barney Frank requesting a hearing on the use of non-profits to manipulate markets, citing Paulson’s donation as being reflective of this problem. Specifically he asserted, “In October, he [Paulson] gave $15 million to the Center For Responsible Lending, which has been leading the charge in lobbying for a law that would let bankruptcy judges restructure mortgage loans. By forcing servicers to accept lowered monthly payments, market values would likely fall even further, and Mr. Paulson would most definitely benefit financially.” This issue though quite suspect is not nearly as significant as the one we are approaching.
Paulson was not the only major benefactor of the CRL. As Activist Cash notes, George Soros’ Open Society Institute has donated at least $100,000 to the CRL. Soros of course seems to be behind almost all of these leftist groups as has been well-documented in numerous articles and in David Horowitz’s 2007 book, The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party. When it comes to Soros’ character and aspirations, it bears noting that Soros willingly confiscated property with the Nazis who slaughtered his own Jewish people during the Holocaust, and was quoted in a <snip>ing 2004 Newsmax article as saying that he wanted to “puncture the bubble of American supremacy.” He has also had a penchant for making bundles of money off of collapses resulting from the socialist policies that he so ardently supports. Needless to say that in my view, George Soros is a dangerous and diabolical character.
During the throes of the credit crisis with banks failing across the country due to their collapsing loan portfolios, friends of the CRL John Paulson and George Soros along with a handful of other money managers formed an investment vehicle called IMB Management Holdings to acquire these beaten down assets. The first bank that they purchased? IndyMac.
As you may remember, IndyMac was the struggling bank that New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer curiously was said to have caused a run on in July of 2008, and I say curiously given that a. IndyMac was a commercial bank in California, about as far as could be from Schumer’s constituents, and b. normally it does not fall under the job description of members of Congress (even ones with a fetish for the camera as great as that of Schumer) to leak statements that may materially affect financial institutions. Schumer’s statements on the problems of IndyMac were eerily similar to those divulged in a report released by the Center for Responsible Lending entitled “IndyMac: What Went Wrong? How an “Alt-A” Leader Fueled its Growth with Unsound Abusive Mortgage Lending.” The very business that the CRL had helped push banks like IndyMac into was now being criticized by the CRL as abusive.
The timing of Schumer’s actions and those of CRL are worth noting. Sen. Schumer released his “concerns” about Indymac on a Thursday. On the following Monday, CRL released their “report” on Indymac. Understand, the CRL report was the first time in the organization’s history that they released a full research report on an individual company. Built on interviews with former employees, the report would have taken some time to compile. It may have been a weird coincidence, but a PR firm could not have designed a better schedule.
Whether or not Schumer and the CRL orchestrated the bank run, within 11 days of Schumer’s revelations, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from IndyMac. A bank that at its peak in March of 2008 had held $32 billion in assets was sold to Paulson and Soros’ holding company for $13.9 billion in a deal that closed in March of 2009. Created out of IndyMac’s remains was OneWest Bank.
Senator Schumer and The Center for Responsible Lending appear to have been on the same page for some time. In February of 2008, the CRL cited Senator Schumer in a white paper critical of Countrywide’s lending practices. In March 2009, Schumer co-sponsored a bill to create a “Financial Product Safety Commission,” supported by “over 55 national and state organizations, including Consumer Federation of America, Center for Responsible Lending, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP, La Raza, AFL-CIO, SEIU, National Consumer Law Center, Consumers Union, Public Citizen, and US PIRG.” Additionally, in June of 2009, Senator Schumer was honored by ACORN, one of the CRL’s closest allies. When these points are considered in context of Schumer’s ideological bent and constituency, I believe it is safe to say that at the very least Schumer is sympathetic to the CRL’s agenda.
Senator Schumer has also had substantial financial ties to George Soros and John Paulson.
Most recently, in June of 2009 Soros donated $2000 to Schumer. In 2005, Soros hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Senatorial candidates headlined by Schumer. In general, given the millions of dollars that Soros has contributed to Democrats and Democratic causes over the years, it is likely that other benefits both direct and indirect have accrued to the New York Senator courtesy of Mr. Soros.
Meanwhile, John Paulson’s hedge fund Paulson & Co. has been a very generous donor to Democrats. In 2007, Paulson made a $25,000 donation to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) chaired by none other than Senator Charles Schumer (outdoing even Soros who only contributed a measly $21,750 to the DSCC that year), and also contributed $2300 each to Senate Finance Committee Chairman and Democrat Max Baucus, and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services Chairman and Democrat Dick Durbin. All told, during the 2007-2008 fundraising cycle, Paulson & Co. contributed $105,000 to the DSCC, $20,700 to Baucus and $19,400 to Durbin. More recently, Paulson is reported to have held a $1000-per-head fundraiser for Democratic Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd.
Now to be fair, it is common practice for Wall Street firms to donate to politicians that legislate on issues dear to them, but in the case of these two gentlemen, donations have been decidedly partisan and closely connected to Schumer.
To review, George Soros and John Paulson are major supporters of the CRL, the ACORN-like group that helped contribute to the financial crisis and whose former principal Eric Stein is now building and set to run the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Chuck Schumer likely shares the CRL’s agenda and appears to have helped precipitate a run on IndyMac at the same time as the release of the CRL’s critical report on the same bank, a bank that Soros and Paulson were later able to purchase in a sweetheart deal with the FDIC (though the FDIC has reacted in unprecedented fashion in vehemently denying this claim). Soros and Paulson have been major contributors to Senate Democrats including Schumer and his allies.
To add another wrinkle to the story, in July 2008, shortly after regulators seized IndyMac, Self Help, the financial parent of the CRL that spawned in response to the CRA chartered a credit union in California with $5 million. The purpose of the union was to serve “low-wealth California families,” likely the same families that IndyMac had targeted before its collapse. According to the Credit Union Times, Self Help has swelled since its inception and now controls $150 million in assets.
Can this all be a coincidence? Given George Soros’ proclivity for shady dealings in his profiting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in his downright frightening instigation of “velvet revolutions” abroad, it is hard to imagine him partaking in a venture in which the odds are not decidedly in his favor. Soros’ investing style is to guarantee success by supporting policies that undermine countries and their industries, and profit handsomely off of their failures and at times subsequent bailouts, be it in the case of the British pound or Citigroup. What is peculiar is how wedded Soros has become to John Paulson, a man whose past I have not found to be checkered with progressivism, but I suppose their profits trump partisanship.
The above shameful narrative is in my view illustrative of the rule rather than the exception in contemporary America. Simply put, the house always wins. The house is the government-financial complex. The best political entrepreneurs enjoy the spoils of this corrupted system at the expense of market entrepreneurs and the American people. This system can only last so long before it collapses, and knowing this, the most adept players are cashing in under the pretense of crises that will pale in comparison to the ones we will ultimately face if we do not reverse our path as a people.
The MSM’s reticence to investigate the CRL represents another failure on their part to do their job. More important however are the the implications herein regarding the CRL’s potential complicity with Senators and hedge fund managers which appears to be not only outrageous, but hazardous especially in light of the CRL’s role in forthcoming financial regulation. Yet this particular story represents a mere symptom, albeit writ incredibly large, of a socialistic and thus immoral system that is fast accelerating our demise."
"Bringing Thunder-ous change to New Jersey
"The bridge spanning the Delaware River connects New Jersey's capital with this town where the nation's most interesting governor occasionally eats lunch at Cafe Antonio. It also connects New Jersey's government with reality.
The bridge is a tutorial on a subject this government has flunked -- economics, which is mostly about incentives. At the Pennsylvania end of the bridge, cigarette shops cluster: New Jersey's per-pack tax is double Pennsylvania's. In late afternoon, Gov. Chris Christie says, the bridge is congested with New Jersey government employees heading home to Pennsylvania, where the income tax rate is 3 percent, compared with New Jersey's top rate of 9 percent.
There are 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans in New Jersey, but in November Christie flattened the Democratic incumbent, Jon Corzine. Christie is built like a burly baseball catcher, and since his inauguration just 13 weeks ago, he has earned the name of the local minor-league team -- the Trenton Thunder.
He inherited a $2.2 billion deficit, and next year's projected deficit of $10.7 billion is, relative to the state's $29.3 billion budget, the nation's worst. Democrats, with the verbal tic -- "Tax the rich!" -- that passes for progressive thinking, demanded that he reinstate the "millionaire's tax," which hit "millionaires" earning $400,000 until it expired Dec. 31. Instead, Christie noted that between 2004 and 2008 there was a net outflow of $70 billion in wealth as "the rich," including small businesses, fled. And he said previous administrations had "raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years alone."
So he closed the $2.2 billion gap by accepting 375 of 378 suggested spending freezes and cuts. In two weeks. By executive actions. In eight weeks he cut $13 billion -- $232 million a day, $9 million an hour. Now comes the hard part.
Government employees' health benefits are, he says, "41 percent more expensive" than those of the average Fortune 500 company. Without changes in current law, "spending will have increased 322 percent in 20 years -- over 16 percent a year." There is, he says, a connection between the state's being No. 1 in total tax burden and being No. 1 in the proportion of college students who, after graduating, leave the state.
Partly to pay for teachers' benefits -- most contribute nothing to pay for their health insurance -- property taxes have increased 70 percent in 10 years, to an average annual cost to homeowners of $7,281. Christie proposes a 2.5 percent cap on annual increases.
Challenging teachers unions to live up to their cloying "it's really about the kids" rhetoric, he has told them to choose between a pay freeze and job cuts. Validating his criticism by their response to it, some Bergen County teachers encouraged students to cut classes and go to the football field to protest his policies, and a Bridgewater high school teacher showed students a union-made video critical of him. Christie notes that the $550,000 salary of the executive director of the teachers union is larger than the total cuts proposed for 190 of the state's 605 school districts.
He has received some support from the Democratic president of the state Senate, Stephen Sweeney, a leader of a local ironworkers union. This suggests waning solidarity between unionized private-sector workers who are weary of paying ever-higher taxes to enrich unionized public employees.
New Jersey's governors are the nation's strongest -- American Caesars, really -- who can veto line items and even rewrite legislative language. Christie is using his power to remind New Jersey that wealth goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well-treated. Prosperous states are practicing, at the expense of slow learners like New Jersey, "entrepreneurial federalism" -- competing to have the most enticing business climate.
Christie's predecessor addressed a huge unionized rally of public employees, vowing to "fight for a fair contract." Who was he going to fight? The negotiator across the table would be . . . himself.
Saying "subtlety is not going to win this fight," Christie notes that New Jersey's police officers, the nation's highest paid, can retire after 25 years at 65 percent of their highest salary. In the state that has the nation's fourth-highest percentage (66) of public employees who are unionized, he has joined the struggle that will dominate the nation's domestic policymaking in this decade -- to break the ruinous collaboration between elected officials and unionized state and local workers whose affections the officials purchase with taxpayers' money."
"Gangster Government Becomes a Long-Running SeriesBy Michael Barone
"Almost a year ago, in a Washington Examiner column on the Chrysler bailout, I reflected on the Obama administration's decision to force bondholders to accept 33 cents on the dollar on secured debts while giving United Auto Worker retirees 50 cents on the dollar on unsecured debts.
This was a clear violation of the ordinary bankruptcy rule that secured creditors are fully paid off before unsecured creditors get anything. The politically connected UAW folk got preference over politically unconnected bondholders. "We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government," I wrote. "It is likely to be a continuing series."
Fast forward to last Friday, when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Goldman Sachs, alleging that the firm violated the law when it sold a collateralized debt obligation based on mortgage-backed securities without disclosing that the CDO was assembled with the help of hedge fund investor John Paulson.
On its face, the complaint seems flimsy. Paulson has since become famous because his firm made billions by betting against mortgage-backed securities. But he wasn't a big name then, and the sophisticated firm buying the CDO must have assumed the seller believed its value would go down.
That's not the only fishy thing about the complaint. Yesterday came the news, undisclosed by the SEC Friday, that the commissioners approved the complaint by a 3-2 party-line vote. Ordinarily, the SEC issues such complaints only when the commissioners unanimously approve.
Fishy thing No. 3: Democrats immediately used the complaint to jam Sen. Christopher Dodd's financial regulation through the Senate.
You may want to believe the denials that the Democratic commissioners timed the action in coordination with the administration or congressional leaders. But then you may want to believe there was no political favoritism in the Chrysler deal, too. The SEC complaint looks a lot like Gangster Government to me.
The Dodd bill, however, has it trumped. Its provisions promise to give us one episode of Gangster Government after another.
At the top of the list is the $50 billion fund that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp could use to pay off creditors of firms identified as systemically risky -- i.e., "too big to fail."
"The Dodd bill," writes Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, "has unlimited executive bailout authority. That's something Wall Street desperately wants but doesn't dare ask for."
Politically connected creditors would have every reason to assume they'd get favorable treatment. The Dodd bill specifically authorizes the FDIC to treat "creditors similarly situated" differently.
Second, as former Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey points out, the Dodd bill gives the Treasury and the FDIC authority to grant an unlimited number of loan guarantees to "too big to fail" firms. CEOs might want to have receipts for their contributions to Sen. Charles Schumer and the Obama campaign in hand when they apply.
Lindsey ticks off other special favors. "Labor gets 'proxy access' to bring its agenda items before shareholders as well as annual 'say on pay' for executives. Consumer activists get a brand new agency funded directly out of the seniorage the Fed earns. No oversight by the Federal Reserve Board or by Congress on how the money is spent."
Then there are carve-out provisions provided for particular interests. "Obtaining a carve-out isn't rocket science," one Republican K Street lobbyist told the Huffington Post. "Just give Chairman Dodd and Chuck Schumer a s---load of money."
The Obama Democrats portray the Dodd bill as a brave attempt to clamp tougher regulation on Wall Street. They know that polls show voters strongly reject just about all their programs to expand the size and scope of government, with the conspicuous exception of financial regulation.
Republicans have been accurately attacking the Dodd bill for authorizing bailouts of big Wall Street firms and giving them unfair advantages over small competitors. They might want to add that it authorizes Gangster Government -- the channeling of vast sums from the politically unprotected to the politically connected."
Copyright 2010, Creators Syndicate Inc.
"It Worked So Well For Bush...Source Powerlineblog.com
April 23, 2010 Posted by John at 7:22 PM
"Whenever President Bush talked about immigration, his approval ratings went down. It was like clockwork: liberals never understood that the fatal decline in Bush's popularity during his second term had at least as much to do with his advocacy of "comprehensive immigration reform" as with war-weariness. Now President Obama has entered the lists, urging Congress to take up immigration. One can only wonder what Congressional Democrats make of this. Maybe they figure their own approval ratings can't possibly get any lower. But Obama's can, and they will if he keeps talking about immigration.
In Arizona, frustrated by ongoing lack of enforcement of immigration laws by the federal government, the legislature has taken matters into its own hands, adopting legislation to try to crack down on illegals. This is how the Associated Press summarizes the Arizona statute:
_ Makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally by specifically requiring immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Repeat offenses would be a felony.
_ Requires police officers to "make a reasonable attempt" to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Race, color or national origin may not be the only things considered in implementation. Exceptions can be made if the attempt would hinder an investigation.
_ Allow lawsuits against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. Would impose daily civil fines of $1,000-$5,000. There is pending follow-up legislation to halve the minimum to $500.
_ Targets hiring of illegal immigrants as day laborers by prohibiting people from stopping a vehicle on a road to offer employment and by prohibiting a person from getting into a stopped vehicle on a street to be hired for work if it impedes traffic.
It isn't clear to me what, in that legislation, is controversial. If we take seriously the idea that immigration laws are to be enforced, Arizona's measures seem rather modest. But Barack Obama thinks Arizona's effort to sustain the rule of law is "irresponsible." In public remarks today, Obama said:
I'll continue to consult with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and I would note that 11 current Republican Senators voted to pass immigration reform four years ago. I'm hopeful that they will join with Democrats in doing so again so we can make the progress the American people deserve.
Indeed, our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.
In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.
How, exactly, does Arizona's law "threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness"? Why is it unfair to enforce the immigration laws? Most Americans would say that it undermines basic notions of fairness when our government deliberately refuses to enforce the laws Congress has passed, to the disadvantage of our citizens. And as far as trust between police and "communities" is concerned--assuming we are talking about communities of American citizens--one would think it would improve trust if citizens can see that the laws are being enforced. It's funny, isn't it: liberals love to talk about the "rule of law" when they are trying to create never-before-seen "rights" belonging to enemy combatants. But where is the "rule of law" when the laws relating to immigration are studiously ignored, if not deliberately undermined?
What is most striking about Obama's harsh condemnation of the state of Arizona is its political myopia. It is hard, offhand, to think of precedents for a President denouncing a state law in such vituperative fashion. Evidently Obama doesn't think he has a chance of carrying Arizona in 2012--assuming that he intends to run for re-election, which I am starting to doubt. More broadly, he seems to have learned nothing from the Bush administration's experience with comprehensive immigration "reform." "
Highlights of an excellent article. Suggest reading it in full if you have time.
Thursday, April 22. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Politics at 12:15
Source The Market Ticker
"President Obama: Where Are The HANDCUFFS?
So the speech now has been given.... Let's analyze it:
Since I last spoke here two years ago, our country has been through a terrible trial. More than 8 million people have lost their jobs. Countless small businesses have had to shut their doors. Trillions of dollars in savings has been lost, forcing seniors to put off retirement, young people to postpone college, and entrepreneurs to give up on the dream of starting a company. And as a nation we were forced to take unprecedented steps to rescue the financial system and the broader economy.
Yet those who committed the acts that led us to this terrible place, that is the bankers, even when bribery of public officials was going on and the bankers knew it, have not been indicted or prosecuted.
Instead, we bailed them out.
As a result of the decisions we made - some which were unpopular - we are seeing hopeful signs. Little more than one year ago, we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs each month. Today, America is adding jobs again. One year ago, the economy was shrinking rapidly. Today, the economy is growing. In fact, we've seen the fastest turnaround in growth in nearly three decades.
We blew $1.5 trillion a year, or about 10% of GDP for the last two years. President Obama's policies in this regard are a mirror-image of George Bush's, and of course GDP appears to be "growing" when one does this. But this is no more "growth" than it is when you take a cash advance on your credit card - it is simply pulled-forward demand, and now the economy has become dependent on it.
Again, these policies are an extension and in fact an engrossment of what George Bush did. Proof is right here: ....................."
".............Indeed, the acts of the last decade can be best characterized as financial terrorism, and instead of meeting this challenge head-on our government has cowered under the desk. .............."
"..........I don't care how much anyone makes - so long as the income is earned honestly. I care very much when it is "earned" by various schemes, including felonious ones that (in some instances) included outright bribery - yet the banking system people who made that money not only are not prosecuted they get to keep the ill-gotten gains!
I'll close by saying this. I have laid out a set of Wall Street reforms. These are reforms that would put an end to taxpayer bailouts; that would bring complex financial dealings out of the shadows; that would protect consumers; and that would give shareholders more power in the financial system.
No they won't. In order for that to happen, WE NEED TO SEE HANDCUFFS.
There has always been a tension between the desire to allow markets to function without interference - and the absolute necessity of rules to prevent markets from falling out of balance.
They're not RULES, THEY ARE LAWS.
Re-impose Glass-Steagall. 17 pages of legislation that kept the system safe and sound for FIFTY YEARS.
We started dismantling it in the 1980s by circumventions and outright unlawful acts including Alan Greenspan granting an illegal waiver to legitimate an illegal merger.
This culminated in Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the Commodities Futures Modernization Act - the latter overruling anti-bucket-shop laws put in place to prevent the precise same acts that caused the meltdown in 1929. As one would expect, we got the same result we had in the 1920s.
Seventeen pages Mr. President.
Re-enact Glass-Steagall - the original seventeen pages. No ifs, no ands, no carve-outs, no buts, no exceptions and no edits.
Without them you have fixed nothing."
By DANIEL WAGNER
The Associated Press
Friday, April 23, 2010; 1:25 AM
"WASHINGTON -- Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says......."
What next, a locust swarm???
"Potentially deadly fungus spreading in US, Canada
22 Apr 2010 22:21:58 GMT
* Fungus is unique genetic strain
* Climate change may aid its spread
Source Reuters AlertNet
"WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) - A potentially deadly strain of fungus is spreading among animals and people in the northwestern United States and the Canadian province of British Columbia, researchers reported on Thursday.
The airborne fungus, called Cryptococcus gattii, usually only infects transplant and AIDS patients and people with otherwise compromised immune systems, but the new strain is genetically different, the researchers said.
"This novel fungus is worrisome because it appears to be a threat to otherwise healthy people," said Edmond Byrnes of Duke University in North Carolina, who led the study.
"The findings presented here document that the outbreak of C. gattii in Western North America is continuing to expand throughout this temperate region," the researchers said in their report, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Pathogens at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000850.
"Our findings suggest further expansion into neighboring regions is likely to occur and aim to increase disease awareness in the region."
The new strain appears to be unusually deadly, with a mortality rate of about 25 percent among the 21 U.S. cases analyzed, they said.
"From 1999 through 2003, the cases were largely restricted to Vancouver Island," the report reads.
"Between 2003 and 2006, the outbreak expanded into neighboring mainland British Columbia and then into Washington and Oregon from 2005 to 2009. Based on this historical trajectory of expansion, the outbreak may continue to expand into the neighboring region of Northern California, and possibly further."
The spore-forming fungus can cause symptoms in people and animals two weeks or more after exposure. They include a cough that lasts for weeks, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, fever, nighttime sweats and weight loss.
It has also turned up in cats, dogs, an alpaca and a sheep.
Freezing can kill the fungus and climate change may be helping it spread, the researchers said."
(Editing by Eric Beech)
Long article very worth the read, also watching the embedded video.
"A Sober Warning To The GOP - And The Democrats
"The political witch-hunt that is now being fomented related to the SEC's charges against Goldman is a minefield that threatens to blow up the GOP for the next 20 years - if not permanently.
The full-court press by right-wing talking heads such as Limbaugh and Hannity, who appear to have not bothered to do a bit of research into the matter before spouting off absolute nonsense, are piling on in a fashion that will just do further damage to the Republican brand.
The premise here is that the SEC action was "concocted" in some fashion. Well, if that's true, how come the key trader involved, Tourre, has been de-registered in London? ......................."
"George Wallace's ghostSource Powerlineblog.com
"My friend Ray Hartwell (article in full below) grew up in the Deep South in the 1950s and 1960s. He is therefore mindful of the fact, so often forgotten or ignored these days, that the shameful politics of racial division (literal division) were the handiwork of Democrats. As he explains in a Washington Times op-ed:
It was the Democratic Party that conceived, implemented and perpetuated the pernicious system of racial discrimination and preference that arose early in the last century and finally crumbled in the 1960s. They did this in order to sustain their own power. It worked for them, but not for the people. The Jim Crow system not only was morally reprehensible and responsible for much injustice over many years, but also clearly retarded economic growth. This hurt whites and blacks alike for decades.
By contrast, the Republican party had a long record of support for civil rights legislation. And Republicans were far more supportive than Democrats of the landmark civill rights legislation that finally was enacted beginning in 1964.
The Democrats eventually signed on to a color blind society. But, as Ray observes, their support was only fleeting:
The Democrats were the masters of racial patronage; with hardly a hiccup, they took the game to another level. Where once they played on the fears and prejudices of whites, they found new "victim" constituencies to "protect" with pledges of government largesse and favoritism.
So, blacks and perhaps Hispanics, among others, became the new and increasingly dependent beneficiaries of racial preference. Other "peoples of color," such as Indians and Asians, perceived as intent on self-reliance, generally were not among the favored. Thus, the same old game resumed, with a cynical new arrangement of pieces on the playing board. Once again, the Democrats sought gain through divisive means, playing on fear and resentment.
Ray also sees continuity in the way in which the Democratic practitioners of racial politics deal with their critics:
Then as now, opponents were attacked personally. For a Wallace supporter, it was easier to brand someone as an "agitator," or worse, than to engage in a substantive discussion about the virtues and vices of racial segregation and discrimination. Better to smear the opposition, especially when your position on the merits is weak.
Today, many Americans are unhappy that Congress has enacted, in a dramatically partisan fashion, sweeping "health care" legislation that entails unprecedented federal interference in doctor-patient relationships, an array of new and higher taxes, and unsustainable increases in government spending. . . .In response, the Democrats revert to Jim Crow tactics: Change the subject via personal attacks. They hurl accusations of "racism," and use the vulgar sexual innuendo "tea-bagger" to assail fellow Americans who oppose the administration's aggressive expansion of federal power.
This time, though, the Democrats find themselves demonizing not minority group members and "pointy-headed intellectuals," but a substantial chunk of mainstream America. Thus, their approach is likely to have even less success than its early 1960s counterpart."http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/04/026024.php
"HARTWELL: Democrats reek of George Wallace
Tea-bagger epithet just the latest example of liberals' hate hypocrisyBy Ray Hartwell
Charges of intolerance are leveled routinely at those who question the administration's policies. To listen to the accusers, one would think the entire history of racial discrimination and discord in this nation were properly laid at the feet of Republicans. History teaches otherwise.
I grew up in the Deep South, a John F. Kennedy Democrat. My parents taught me that, as Martin Luther King would say later, people should be equal before the law, judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Of course, that was not the prevailing view at the time, when racial discrimination led to separate schools, theater seating and water fountains.
The shameful politics of racial division were practiced skillfully by the demagogues of the day. They were all Democrats. If you're of a certain age, you'll remember, among others: Georgia's Lester Maddox, of ax-handle fame; George Wallace of Alabama, who stood in the schoolhouse door; Harry Byrd of "massive resistance" Virginia; and the everlasting Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, who, along with Sen. Al Gore Sr. of Tennessee and other Democrats, filibustered against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 57 days.
It was the Democratic Party that conceived, implemented and perpetuated the pernicious system of racial discrim- ination and preference that arose early in the last century and finally crumbled in the 1960s. They did this in order to sustain their own power. It worked for them, but not for the people. The Jim Crow system not only was morally reprehensible and responsible for much injustice over many years, but also clearly retarded economic growth. This hurt whites and blacks alike for decades.
As of 1963, the Republican Party had a long record of support for civil rights legislation - not so the Democrats. Republican support for the major civil rights legislation enacted during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson was stronger than that of the Democrats.
More than three times as many Democratic senators (21) as Republicans (6) voted against the Civil Rights Act in 1964; in the House, the "no" votes came from 96 Democrats and 34 Republicans. In both chambers, greater percentages of Republicans than Democrats supported both bills, by significant margins. For example, 82 percent of Senate Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as opposed to 69 percent of Democrats; for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 97 percent of Republican senators voted yes, versus 74 percent of the Democrats.
There was a time when majorities in both parties (even if narrower among Democrats) endorsed the equal treatment of all Americans, without regard to race. Public opinion shifted heavily and quickly in the same direction, perhaps because the moral and rational case was compelling. As sociologist John Shelton Reed wrote, "During the three years 1963 to 1966, support for de jure segregation became a minority view among white Southerners. The percentage of white Southern parents who completely opposed public school desegregation, for example, dropped from 61 to 24." That was a dramatic shift in a short time. It was permanent, too, the death rattle of Jim Crow.
Sadly, however, the ascendancy of "colorblind" politics in the Democratic Party was fleeting. The Democrats were the masters of racial patronage; with hardly a hiccup, they took the game to another level. Where once they played on the fears and prejudices of whites, they found new "victim" constituencies to "protect" with pledges of government largesse and favoritism.
So, blacks and perhaps Hispanics, among others, became the new and increasingly dependent beneficiaries of racial preference. Other "peoples of color," such as Indians and Asians, perceived as intent on self-reliance, generally were not among the favored. Thus, the same old game resumed, with a cynical new arrangement of pieces on the playing board. Once again, the Democrats sought gain through divisive means, playing on fear and resentment.
Then as now, opponents were attacked personally. For a Wallace supporter, it was easier to brand someone as an "agitator," or worse, than to engage in a substantive discussion about the virtues and vices of racial segregation and discrimination. Better to smear the opposition, especially when your position on the merits is weak.
Today, many Americans are unhappy that Congress has enacted, in a dramatically partisan fashion, sweeping "health care" legislation that entails unprecedented federal interference in doctor-patient relationships, an array of new and higher taxes, and unsustainable increases in government spending. Similarly unwelcome are the union sweeteners, the student loan takeover and the "expert" panels that will restrict access to medications and treatments.
Perhaps most outrageous is the (underreported) fact that our "ruling elite" have exempted themselves from the regime being imposed on the rest of us. If it's such a good thing, why do you suppose they carved themselves out of it? In sum, there are a multitude of grounds on which Americans oppose Obamacare.
In response, the Democrats revert to Jim Crow tactics: Change the subject via personal attacks. They hurl accusations of "racism," and use the vulgar sexual innuendo "tea-bagger" to assail fellow Americans who oppose the administration's aggressive expansion of federal power.
In fact, in all of the issues raised by the dissenters, there is not a trace of race. Would people be equally concerned if Hillary Rodham Clinton were in office and moving forcefully to implement the same agenda as President Obama? I think so. Or, would people march in protest if a President Colin L. Powell or Condoleezza Rice were pursuing more moderate policies? I think not.
Ray Hartwell is a Navy veteran and a Washington lawyer."
"Botox may diminish the experience of emotion
"DO you smile because you're happy, or are you happy because you are smiling? Darwin believed that facial expressions are indeed important for experiencing emotions. In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, he wrote that "the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it...[whereas]...the repression...of all outward signs softens our emotions." This idea was subsequently elaborated by the great psychologist William James, who suggested that "every representation of a movement awakens in some degree the actual movement which is its object."
Botox, which is used by millions of people every year to reduce wrinkles and frown lines on the forehead, works by paralyzing the muscles involved in producing facial expressions. A study due to be published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that by doing so, it impairs the ability to process the emotional content of language, and may diminish the quality of emotional experiences. ........"
Gov. Rick Perry could be a factor in 2012 ........ Works for me.
"NASCAR, Guns and BarbecueSource Powerlineblog.com
April 20, 2010 Posted by John at 8:50 AM
"I can think of few ways to spend an afternoon more painful than watching cars race around a track. Over and over again. If there is one person I would have sized up as even more motor-sports averse than me, it would be Roger Simon. Yet Roger has just returned from a weekend of NASCAR, guns and barbecue with Texas Governor Rick Perry, and he seems to have enjoyed the experience.
Barbecue and auto racing aside, Roger's most striking observation is this:
"Perry is a people person on a level I have not quite seen before in politics. You even worry about him, if he ever does make a White House run.
When Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York, he had some of that people person thing, throwing out the ball at Yankee games and taking the role of America's Mayor after 9/11. But he doesn't have as much charisma as Perry."
Interesting thought: is Rick Perry the most charismatic politician in America? If so, maybe it's not so farfetched to think that he could be a factor in 2012."
"U.N.'s Ballooning $732 Million Haiti Peacekeeping Budget Goes Mostly to Its Own PersonnelBy George Russell - FOXNews.com
The United Nations has quietly upped this year's peacekeeping budget for earthquake-shattered Haiti to $732.4 million, with two-thirds of that amount going for the salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel, not residents of the devastated island. ..........."
"Air ban led by flawed computer models
By Joshua Chaffin in Brussels
Published: April 19 2010 15:17 | Last updated: April 19 2010 20:46
Source Financial Times
"Flawed computer models may have exaggerated the effects of an Icelandic volcano eruption that has grounded tens of thousands of flights, stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers and cost businesses hundreds of millions of euros. ........"
Iceland's disruptive volcano - The Big Picture - Boston.com
Metaphysical stuff mind over matter .... total change of pace from recent political topics. You may or may not choose to participate in the event but here is the info in the event you do.
Note: She mentions creating rain .... happened in drought stricken Austrailia, Georgia USA, and to help put out California wildfires after she held group collective meditations/visualizations.
On Thursday, April 22 is Earth Day. We would like to gather people all day to listen to a Special Broadcast for the following reason:
We are experiencing an emotional planet right now which may be attributed to the increase solar storms. Here is how I understand this phenomenon (via http://www.terracycles.com/joomla/sections/1-earth/27-solarearthquakeevidence.html). It states that after a solar storm strikes the Earth, a geomagnetic storm erupts. The increased magnetic field strength of the magnetosphere pushes down on the ionosphere, which pushes against the oceans. It is due to the electromagnetic properties of sea water that the oceans become temporarily heavier. The extra heaviness of the sea water, coupled with the daily tidal forces of the Sun and Moon cause greater than normal forces to press against both the eastern and western boundaries of the Pacific Plate, but more so the western boundary in the South Pacific Islands region which includes Indonesia, Philippines and Japan…. currently the Iceland Volcano may be attributed to the latest solar storm. Not only is this effecting the earth, it’s affecting us emotionally, intellectually and physically... during the last six months in particular as we can see increasing tension with world leaders threatening nuclear war. Upon further research, physicists are sounding the warning about solar activity in 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_TzIUlaQok&feature=related
While we don't want fear to stop us, we do want fear to motivate us. We all know the power of love as demonstrated by Dr. Emoto on water and the Institute of Heartmath through the heart's intelligence (coherence). On Thursday, April 22 - Earth Day, I would like to invite you to personally take part in a mass consciousness project (24 hours).
Instead of feeling powerless, this is the time for us to use action of sending loving energy. Let us invite all the energy healers you know and every man, women and child to send out love to our sun and send it calming energy. Starting Thursday, a short broadcast, energized by many incredible healers, will be available for people to listen to and will then remain on the archives to be heard anytime one feels the urge. Ask your friends and love ones to participate. Then, when you are in daylight, stop, focus and send appreciation, love and joy to the Sun as well as to our planet and oceans.
Realizing that if it is God's/Source's will for earthquakes, volcanoes, solar storms to happen, nothing will stop it... BUT, what if God/Source is giving us a valuable opportunity to realize how powerful we truly are over our environment. We already know from experience that we can create rain through our collective consciousness. Perhaps this is what we are suppose to be doing in order to deliver ourselves into the "Golden Age." Let's come together in love which is so much more powerful than doing nothing. PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW.
To hear the broadcast anytime Thursday, April 22, go to http://loaradionetwork.com/jewels.html
Much LOVE and HUGS,
Law of Attraction Talk Radio
Law of Attraction Radio Network
Gotta love the many ways 'Slick Willie' tries to re-write history, and were it not for the internet he might succeed.
Sunday, April 18. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in at 13:16
Source The Market Ticker market-ticker.org
"Clinton Once Again Redefining The Word "IS"
April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Former President Bill Clinton said he should have pushed for regulation of financial derivatives when he was president, rejecting the advice of top economic advisers Robert (I am Citibank) Rubin and Larry (I nearly bankrupted Harvard) Summers.
The argument was that derivatives didn’t need transparency because they were “expensive and sophisticated and only a handful of people would buy them,” Clinton said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “The flaw in this argument was that first of all, sometimes people with a lot of money make stupid decisions and make it without transparency.”
Clinton also said that Republicans who controlled Congress would have stopped him from trying to regulate derivatives. “I wish I had been caught trying,” Clinton said. “I mean, that was a mistake I made.”
Mr. Bill. You do remember this little law PL 106-102, 113 Stat 1338, right?
Do you remember it's title and the date it was enacted?
Yes, you did sign it Mr. Clinton on November 12th, 1999, and in doing so you retroactively made legal an unlawful merger of two companies that your fabulous former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, intentionally allowed to occur (and granted a waiver for which he had no lawful authority to give), remember?
The law in question is otherwise known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley.
Without it the disastrous derivatives mess could not have happened, because regulated banks with access to The Fed window, not to mention FDIC depositor protection, could not have engaged in derivative trades.
Let us also remember that your Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin (who you claim gave you "wrong" advice) resigned as Treasury Secretary and brokered the deal to pass GLBA. While doing so he was allegedly in secret negotiations to become the head of Citigroup, the direct and proximate beneficiary of making their merger retroactively legal.
IF you want to try to repair your legacy on this account what you need to do is press for the repeal of Gramm-Leach-Bliley, making it your singular political focus until it is both achieved and every institution that operates in this nation in violation of Glass-Steagall (which would be effectively re-imposed) is broken up.
GLBA was nothing more or less than a license to loot this nation and Mr. Rubin was personally and deeply involved in its passage for both his own and Citi's corporate benefit. It was and is a shining monument to the colossal corruption and outrageous kleptocracy that became the mantra of The United States under your Presidency and has continued since to this day.
You are 100% responsible for this mess Mr. Clinton, and I, along with many others, have absolutely zero intention of ever letting anyone forget that."
"Obama-Dodd financial bill would further enrich Goldman Sachs
April 16, 2010 @ 3:28 pm
"Today, the SEC charged giant investment bank Goldman Sachs with more than $1 billion worth of securities fraud for its dealings in the subprime mortgage market.
Ironically, at the same time the SEC is seeking justice for Goldman’s alleged victims, President Obama and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) are pushing a bill would reward the firm with potentially billions of dollars by instituting a so-called “resolution authority” that would, in practice, be a permanent bailout fund.
Supporters of Dodd’s bill maintain that it does not create bailouts because the failing firm’s shareholders would be wiped out and its managers would be fired. But what they don’t say is that the money from the $50 billion resolution fund would be used to frequently give creditors of this firm a better deal than they would have in bankruptcy.
Recall that during the financial implosion of late 2008, Goldman was not bailed out directly by taxpayers, but instead received tax dollars as a creditor of AIG. Goldman received $12.9 billion in the “backdoor bailout” of AIG because of the credit default swaps it owned that AIG had insured. Goldman and other of AIG’s counterparties were paid by the government 100 cents on the dollar in this bailout, whereas creditors in bankruptcy court often get less than 50 cents on the dollar.
So as American Enterprise Institute scholar and Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission member Peter Wallison puts it: “That act—paying off the creditors when the government takes over a failing firm—is a bailout. It doesn’t matter that the management lose their jobs, or that the shareholders get nothing. When the creditors are aware that they will get a better deal with the failure of a large company than they will get with a small one that goes the ordinary route to bankruptcy, that is a bailout.”
To top it off, the fees for the Dodd bill’s resolution fund that would pay off a failing firm’s creditors would come not just from banks but from a broad array of Main Street businesses. Stable life, auto and home insurance companies would have to pay into this fund to subsidize the failure of the next high-roller, and the fees they pay would likely be passed on in the premiums their policy holders pay. And the bill’s definition of “nonbank financial company” is so broad that it could cover manufacturers only tangentially involved in extending credit, such as those that lease equipment to their customers. This would raise prices and cost Main Street jobs.
All in all, the Goldman indictment should serve as a wakeup call to those who want to ram a bill through Congress without looking at who both its victims and beneficiaries would ultimately be."
I always appreciate Powerline's sober analysis behind headlines and Clinton's grandstanding.
"Bill Clinton Returns to the Scene of the CrimeApril 17, 2010 Posted by John at 6:37 PM
"The fifteenth anniversary of Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing has just passed, and the Democrats are seizing every opportunity to wring political advantage out of that sorrowful event. Bill Clinton appeared at a symposium on the bombing sponsored by a left-wing think tank and linked the mad bomber to today's opponents of the Democrats' radical agenda.
Just before the symposium, in an interview with the New York Times, Clinton elaborated on the theme:
"There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do," Mr. Clinton said in an interview, saying that Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing, and those who assisted him, "were profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant antigovernment line." ...
Mr. Clinton pointed to remarks like those made Thursday by Representative Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican, who when speaking at a Tea Party rally in Washington characterized the Obama administration and Democratic Congress as "the gangster government."
"They are not gangsters," Mr. Clinton said. "They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do."
As hockey fans like to say, that's debatable. It's worth noting, though, that the first person to use the phrase "gangster government" in reference to the Obama administration was not Congresswoman Bachmann, but the most sober of political commentators, Michael Barone. As we noted here, the context was the Chrysler bailout; specifically, the Obama administration's bullying bondholders into giving up their legal rights through threats of federal reprisal. (Nice business you've got here; shame if anything were to happen to it.) That was, as Barone wrote, "an episode of Gangster Government." Sadly, there have been others.
Byron York reminds us that Clinton has been down this path before, in most dishonorable fashion. The Oklahoma City bombing was providential for Clinton. It occurred at the low ebb of his Presidency, just the day after Clinton pathetically told reporters that "the president is still relevant here." When the bombing occurred, Clinton and his aides immediately saw political potential. Pollster Dick Morris went to work, and, as Morris has written, just eight days after the Oklahoma City bombing he gave Clinton a strategy for a political comeback. Here was Morris' agenda for the meeting:
AFTERMATH OF OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING
A. Temporary gain: boost in ratings -- here today, gone tomorrow
B. More permanent gain: Improvements in character/personality attributes -- remedies weakness, incompetence, ineffectiveness found in recent poll
C. Permanent possible gain: sets up Extremist Issue vs. Republicans
Morris acknowledged one problem: the Republicans were not, in fact, extremists. But that was an obstacle that could be overcome:
Morris told Clinton that "direct accusations" of extremism wouldn't work because the Republicans were not, in fact, extremists. Rather, Morris recommended what he called the "ricochet theory." Clinton would "stimulate national concern over extremism and terror," and then, "when issue is at top of national agenda, suspicion naturally gravitates to Republicans."
It was a political strategy crafted while rescue and recovery efforts were still underway in Oklahoma City. And it worked better than Clinton or Morris could have predicted. In the months after the bombing, Clinton regained the upper hand over Republicans, eventually winning battles over issues far removed from the attack. The next year, 1996, he went on to re-election.
Clinton knows how false and dishonorable his charges are. But they worked for him, and he is helping Barack Obama set the stage for a similar political comeback in the event that some violent event might occur; or, perhaps, in the absence of any such event. So far, all of the violence associated with Tea Party or townhall events has been perpetrated by union thugs employed by the Democratic Party, but that hasn't stopped the Democrats from claiming that it is the Republicans who are somehow violence-prone.
Glenn Reynolds draws the proper conclusion--a notably strong condemnation from an observer as balanced and good-humored as Glenn:
[T]his statement serves as a useful reminder to those who have come to think of Clinton as some sort of cuddly, not-so-bad figure. He was a demagogue who would say whatever he thought might work when he was President, and he still is."
"The image Microsoft doesn't want you to see: Too tired to stay awake, the Chinese workers earning just 34p an hour
By Liz Hull and Lee Sorrell
Last updated at 12:29 AM on 18th April 2010
"Showing Chinese sweatshop workers slumped over their desks with exhaustion, it is an image that Microsoft won't want the world to see.
Employed for gruelling 15-hour shifts, in appalling conditions and 86f heat, many fall asleep on their stations during their meagre ten-minute breaks.
For as little as 34p an hour, the men and women work six or seven days a week, making computer mice and web cams for the American multinational computer company. ......"
".......Microsoft is not the only company to outsource manufacturing to KYE, but it accounts for about 30 per cent of the factory's work, the NLC said. Companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Foxconn, Acer, Logitech and Asus also use KYE Systems......
Aww, poor thing!
The survey of Nevada voters commissioned by the Review-Journal shows Reid getting 37 percent of the vote compared with 47 percent for Republican Sue Lowden, who would win if the election were today, while the slate of third-party and nonpartisan candidates would get slim to no backing. ............"
"US Senate climate bill to be unveiled April 26 15 Apr 2010 22:04:19 GMT
Source Reuters AlertNet
* Backers hope for Senate vote in June or July
* Measure could affect states' climate control activities (Adds reaction from American Petroleum Institute)
By Richard Cowan
"WASHINGTON, April 15 (Reuters) - A long-awaited compromise bill to reduce U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming will be unveiled by a group of senators on April 26, sources said on Thursday.
The legislative language to be sketched out in 11 days, according to government and environmental sources, is being drafted by Democratic Senator John Kerry, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Backers of the environmental bill hope the unveiling will pave the way for the full Senate to debate and pass a measure in June or July if the compromise attracts enough support from a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats.
Republican Senator Judd Gregg told Reuters he was "committed to getting something that addresses our energy needs in a constructive and comprehensive way." He added he did not know yet whether he would support the bill being developed.
President Barack Obama has made climate change one of his top priorities and took steps recently to show Republicans he was serious, including expanding federal aid for building nuclear power facilities and allowing more domestic offshore oil drilling -- initiatives to be included in the Senate compromise.
The White House is also eager to show the rest of the world the United States is ready to take a leadership role on global warming, including to help kick-start stalled international efforts to tackle the problem.
Despite vocal climate change skeptics in the United States, leading scientific groups have been hoping the United States, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, would take action.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Thursday the world's combined land and ocean surface temperatures in March were the hottest on record.
Once the senators formally sketch out their bill, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will decide the next steps in a year crowded with competing legislative priorities and congressional elections in November.
The bill could face stiff opposition from lawmakers in states with economies heavily dependent on oil and coal.
Lou Hayden, a policy expert at the American Petroleum Institute, said his group would not support the bill unless it went through an economic analysis by the Energy Information Administration, an independent arm of the Energy Department.
The bill is already slated to be analyzed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office, which could take more than a month.
BILL MIGHT END STATE/REGIONAL CARBON TRADE PROGRAMS
Kerry, Lieberman and Graham have been working for months on a global warming compromise significantly different from a measure passed last year by the House of Representatives and a bill approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It also takes many elements from those bills.
Like the House-passed bill and Obama administration policy, it would set a target of 17 percent reductions in smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide by 2020, from 2005 levels.
Point Carbon, an energy markets consulting service, estimated the anticipated Senate bill would result in U.S. gasoline prices rising an average of 27 cents a gallon from 2013 to 2020. The bill is expected to contain a fee on motor fuels.
On Wednesday, a Senate source told Reuters the legislation would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions. It would also end state and regional carbon-trading programs, such as the one several Northeastern states participate in, to be replaced by a national carbon reduction policy. [N14150360]
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, with 10 participating states from Vermont to Maryland, has raised over $582 million for state efficiency and climate programs, said Environment Northeast, a Boston research group.
Peter Shattuck, a carbon markets policy analyst there, said shutting the program could create concerns among the states over lost revenues.
A group of nine senators, mostly from Midwestern manufacturing states, urged Kerry, Graham and Lieberman in a letter on Thursday to take into account jobs in their states.
"Without such a plan, we are concerned that the legislation will ultimately be unsuccessful," Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and others wrote. (Additional reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington and Ros Krasny in Boston; Editing by Peter Cooney)"
"Guest Post: The Cost Of Corporate Communism
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2010 13:41 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"Submitted by Dylan Ratigan
"Lately I have been using the phrase "Corporate Communism" on my television show. I think it is an especially fitting term when discussing the current landscape in both our banking and health care systems.
As Americans, I believe we reject communism because it historically has allowed a tiny group of people to consolidate complete control over national resources (including people), in the process stifling competition, freedom and choice. It leaves its citizens stagnating under the perpetual broken systems with no natural motivation to innovate, improve services or reduce costs.
Lack of choice, lazy, unresponsive customer service, a culture of exploitation and a small powerbase formed by cronyism and nepotism are the hallmarks of a communist system that steals from its citizenry and a major reason why America spent half a century fighting a Cold War with the U.S.S.R.
And yet today we find ourselves as a country in two distinctly different categories: those who are forced to compete tooth and nail each day to provide value to society in return for income for ourselves and our families and those who would instead use our lawmaking apparatus to help themselves to our tax money and/or to protect themselves from true competition.
If you allow weak, outdated players to take control of the government and change the rules so they are protected from the natural competition and reward systems that have created so many innovations in our country, you not only steal from the citizens on behalf of the least worthy but you also doom them by trapping the capital that would be used to generate new innovation and, most tangibly in our current situation, jobs.
We are losing the opportunity cost of all the great ideas that should be coming from the proper deployment of that 23.7 trillion in capital. Everything from innovation in medical delivery systems to accessible space travel, free energy to the driverless car; all of these things may never come to bear because those powerful individuals who have failed, been passed over by technological advancements, innovation and flat-out smarts, have commandeered our government to unfairly sustain their wealth and power.
Unfortunately, they use our wealth and laws not only to benefit their outdated, failed companies, but also spend a small pittance of their ill-gotten gains lobbying and favor-trading with politicians so the government will continue to protect them from competition and their well-deserved failure.
The massive spike in unemployment, the utter destruction of retirement wealth, the collapse in the value of our homes, the worst recession since the Great Depression have all resulted directly from the abdication of proper government.
Even with all that -- the only changes that have been made, have been made to prop up and hide the massive flaws on behalf of those who perpetuated them. Still utterly nothing has been done to disclose the flaws in this system, improve it or rebuild it. Only true rules-based capitalism ensures constant adaptation and implementation of the latest and best practices for a given business, as those businesses that don't adapt fail, and those who deploy the latest innovations to their customers benefit, prosper.
The concept of communism is rightly reviled in this country for the simple reason that it is blind to human nature, allowing a small group of individuals near-total control, while sticking everyone else with the same crappy systems -- and the bill. America spent countless lives and half a century fighting against this system of government. So why are we standing for it now?"
"Estefans' new collaboration hits sour note
By JACKIE BUENO SOUSASource MiamiHerald.com
"If Gloria Estefan decides to sing a tune while hosting President Barack Obama at her home Thursday, she may want to consider her 1989 hit Cuts Both Ways.
'Cause you and I are dangerous
We want too much and life ain't that wayDon't ask for more
Don't be a fool
Haven't we already broken every rule
The Estefans may have broken more than a rule when they decided to host a <snip>tail reception for the president during his visit to South Florida on Thursday. Estefan, along with husband Emilio, also broke a bond that had united them with Miami's Cuban community, whose members largely oppose the president's agenda.
The Estefans, for their part, have implied that they're simply using the opportunity to increase awareness about the Cuban people's plight. What's more, they note that they believe in supporting good candidates regardless of party.
They would have a convincing argument except for one very important detail: The event isn't merely a conversation about Cuba with the president while sipping a cortadito. Nor is it designed to raise funds for a particular cause or candidate they support.
They are hosting a $30,400-a-couple fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, and, by extension, helping to fund the entire Democratic Party agenda. It's a proactive, partisan stance that goes well beyond, say, deciding to sing at a presidential inauguration or accepting a presidential appointment to oversee a nonpartisan cause.
Mention the Estefans and many no longer conjure up images of freedom and catchy tunes. Now -- rightly or wrongly -- many associate the name with Obamacare, abortion, powerful unions, creation of a welfare state.
The event also means the Estefans are helping to promote Democratic Party candidates, regardless of whether a particular candidate espouses ideas they would support. In other words, the decision to hold the fundraiser is the opposite of their stated belief of being nonpartisan when it comes to choosing our leaders.
Of course, the Estefans can try to assert their belief in partisan neutrality by holding a high-profile fundraiser in the future for the Republican Party. Such a move, however, likely would be viewed as little more than an attempt at damage control. That being the case, Gloria Estefan's hit Seal Our Fate may be the appropriate song for Thursday's event.
Surely, you say, it's not as bad as
You make it sound
If we make a mistake
You can always turn it back around....
Before you know it's gotten way out of hand
In ways that you had never dreamed of
Never worth the price you pay in the end
The announcement that they would host the fundraiser for the president was only hours old when I started hearing friends and relatives talk about throwing away all their Gloria Estefan CDs. Soon bloggers were labeling them as traitors. In one swoop, all the good will they had built with so many followers, all the years of supporting nonpartisan causes such as freedom and human rights, seemed to disappear. In many ways, that's not fair to the couple, who have done so many good things to help our community.
Yet the reaction also is a reminder that, like freedom, celebrity can be a two-edged sword, best wielded with careful forethought. The Estefans, like all celebrities, have the right to support a particular candidate, to support a particular cause. Just as it's their right to support a political party.
Not supporting the Estefans in their effort, well, that's everyone else's right.
It cuts both ways."
"Hating the government finally goes mainstream
By: Chris Stirewalt
April 15, 2010
Source Washington Examiner"Three years ago, the Republican establishment piled scorn on the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul.
Today, he is in a statistical tie with President Obama in 2012 polling. His son, an ophthalmologist who has never run for elective office, is well ahead of not only the GOP's handpicked candidate for Senate in Kentucky but also both Democratic contenders -- all statewide officeholders.
What happened? Did America sudden develop an insatiable appetite for 74-year-old, cranky congressmen from Texas? Is the gold standard catching on?
Paul will not likely be the next president. And his son still faces the most arduous part of his journey as Democrats spend millions to paint him as soft on defense, lax on drug enforcement and too radical on welfare programs.
But there's no doubt that hating the government and the powerful interests that pull Washington's strings has gone from the radical precincts of the Right and Left to the mainstream.
It turns out that watching Goldman Sachs, the United Auto Workers, public employee unions and a raft of other vampires drain the treasury at America's weakest moment in a generation will make a person pretty hacked off.
After Barack Obama's election, Democrats assumed that the American people were battered, bruised and ready for a morphine drip of European-style socialism. Republicans, shocked by their stunning reversals, figured the Democrats were right and started looking for technocrats of their own.
And in a political system fueled by special-interest money, it was hard for the leaders of major parties to imagine anything other than an activist government. After all, if you pay for someone to get elected, you don't expect him to just sit there.
Just 18 months ago the leaders of both parties were quite sure that Obama would be the popular, transformative president he aspires to be. The Republicans who emerged from the wreckage of November were certain to look a lot more like Charlie Crist and Mitt Romney than Marco Rubio and Ron Paul.
But Crist's embrace of Obamanomics seems to have utterly destroyed his chances at a Senate seat that was once his for the taking. Romney, considered a near lock for the 2012 Republican nomination, has seen his candidacy badly damaged by a populist revolt against the passage of a national health care plan that looks like the one he designed for Massachusetts.
Obama, who said that passage of his health plan proved that Washington could still do big things, finds himself deeply at odds with an electorate that is not confident of government's ability to do anything at all.
His election has turned out to be not the result of a national lurch toward government intervention but his own skill at disguising his policies, the failures of the Republican Party and the bursting of the lending bubble.
A year ago, the tea parties caught most everyone by surprise.
It was a conservative flash mob and hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets.
Republicans scrambled to get to the head of the parade and Democrats claimed that it was all a put-up job by their enemies in the special interest wars. The press tried to treat what had been a spontaneous outburst as if it were a traditional political party and asked all the questions they teach in journalism school: Who's in charge? Who are they opposed to? Is it racist?
This year, the political parties and the press will not be caught off guard. Republican politicians will address tea party rallies, Democrats will denounce the supposed puppeteers of the movement and the press will look for hate speech.
But few will glean the real meaning of the protests or the booming support for Ron and Rand Paul.
It's not about the Pauls themselves or the guys with the "Don't tread on me" flags It's about the people at home who might not be willing to march in the park or join the next Paul money bomb, but who don't blame the folks who do.
Libertarian sentiment has finally gone mainstream.
A movement that said that people should do whatever they wanted as long as it didn't hurt anyone else couldn't compete during the culture wars that began in the 1960s.
But after two wars, a $12 trillion debt, a financial crisis and the most politically tone-deaf president in modern history, Americans may have finally given up on big government."
Chris Stirewalt is the political editor of the Washington Examiner. He can be reached at [email protected]."
"IMF Prepares For Global Cataclysm, Expands Backup Rescue Facility By Half A Trillion For "Contribution To Global Financial Stability"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/12/2010 22:14 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"And all the pundits thought that the IMF would be on the hook for just €10 billion... The IMF has just announced that it is expanding its New Arrangement to Borrow (NAB) multilateral facility from its existing $50 billion by a whopping $500 billion (SDR333.5 billion), to $550 billion. The current lending participant group of 26 entities will be increased by 13 new members all of whom will contribute token amount of capital to the NAB. The one country most on the hook in the new and revised NAB - the United States of America, will provide over $105 billion in total commitments, or 20% of the total facility. The US is currently on the hook for just $10 billion, meaning its participation in global bail outs just increased by $95 billion. And the bulk of these bailouts will certainly be located across the Atlantic. What is most troublesome is the massive expansion of the NAR. If the IMF believes that over half a trillion in short-term funding is needed imminently, is all hell about to break loose.
Never one to present a realistic picture Dominique (or is that Mrs, Pisani?) Strauss-Khan said: "The expansion and enlargement of the NAB borrowing arrangements provides a very strong multilateral foundation for the Fund’s efforts in crisis prevention and resolution, as an essential back-stop to the Fund’s quota resources. This will help ensure that the Fund has access to adequate resources to help members that are vulnerable to financial crises."
If memory serves us right, the Fund's current resources give it acces to about a third of a trillion, so as of today the IMF has recourse funding to just under a trillion. Something big must be coming.
Some more details on the NAB from the just released PR:
The NAB is a standing set of credit arrangements under which participants commit resources to IMF lending when these are needed to supplement quota resources. The expanded NAB will become operational when it receives formal acceptances from the required proportion of current and potential participants, which will require legislative backing in some cases.1
“The expansion of the NAB will make an important contribution to global financial stability, but it is not a substitute for a general increase in the Fund’s quota resources. The Fund is, and shall remain, a quota-based institution. It is important now that member countries rapidly take the necessary steps to make the increased resources available,” Mr. Strauss-Kahn underscored.
The NAB is a credit arrangement between the IMF and a group of members and institutions to provide supplementary resources to the IMF when these are needed to forestall or cope with an impairment of the international monetary system. The NAB is supplementary to quota resources, which are made up of the quota subscriptions each country pays upon joining the Fund, broadly based on its relative size in the world economy. IMF members’ quotas currently total SDR 217.4 billion (about US$330 billion). Like quota allocations, the NAB is reviewed on a regular basis.
The recent unprecedented shock confronting the global economy has led to a sharp increase in the demand for IMF financing. To ensure that the IMF continues to have sufficient resources to meet demand, leaders of the G-20 agreed in April 2009 that immediate financing from members of US$250 billion would subsequently be folded into an expanded and more flexible NAB, increased by up to $500 billion. This call was endorsed by the IMFC. The G-20 leaders reaffirmed their commitment on September 25, 2009 to a tripling of the resources available to the IMF, from a pre-crisis level of about US$250 billion. At its meeting in October 2009, the IMFC welcomed the expected agreement to expand and enhance the NAB. Pending the entering into force of the expanded NAB, member countries have pledged more than $300 billion in immediate bilateral financing should the Fund require additional resources for lending.
We have a few questions:
1) Just where will central banks suddenly find access to over three hundred billion in SDRs (which is what this facility is based on)? Also, we are curious just how this SDR expansion will impact dollar levels. As the dollar is the primary component in the SDR basket (17%), banks will have to sell more dollars than other currencies on a pro rata basis to increase their SDR holdings. What will happen to the DXY when $85 billion new dollars flood the market via assorted CBs but mostly the FRBNY?
2) Who came up with the expansion factor? Why is Japan's allocation increasing by 18.7x, that of the US by 10.4x, while that of the Bundesbank only by 7.2x? We thought the IMF is more of a eurocentric bailout facility? Why does it fall upon the US taxpayers to disproprtionately bailout Greece?
3) What is the joke with having Greece join the group of new participants? The IMF sure has a sick sense of humor.
4) Curious how this comes the day before Greece is supposed to auction off some ultra-short term debt. If this facility is enacted, watch for socereign credit curves to hit 60 degrees, with near-term risk disappearing, once again courtesy of Joe Sixpack. We hope you pay your taxes by the April 15 deadline.
5) Funny money will galore. At this point nobody will allow anyone or anything to fail.
Here is the full table of old and existing contributors. Congrats US - you are once again leading the charge in the world bailout.
I'm not surprised.
Appears from Truesee's blog post attempt to discredit has already begun. If they're no threat then why not simply ignore them, pretend they don't exist?
"TEA PARTY CRASHERS
"Tax week is here and I hope that many of you will join me in Washington for the culmination of our Online Tax Revolt. If you can't get to Washington there will certainly be a number of tea party tax protests across the nation. If for no other reason than to annoy a liberal, you ought to make plans to attend one of these rallies
Now if you do attend a tea party rally, be on your best behavior. There may be people there with disruption in mind. Have you heard of this latest website/movement called "Crash the Tea Party"? A lot of you have emailed me about it, so I know it has some of you enraged. The website claims to represent "a nationwide network of Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are all sick and tired of the loose affiliation of racists, homophobes and morons; who constitute the fake grassroots movement, which calls itself 'the Tea Party.'"
Here is the stated purpose of these Tea Party Crashers ... "To dismantle and demolish the Tea Party by any non-violent means necessary." Their tactic? Infiltrate the tea parties and exaggerate their "least-appealing qualities." For example, they will misspell signs to make tea parties look unintelligent or they will do TV interviews claiming extreme views, or shout things during rallies that the media could construe as racist or homophobic.
Look for the ObamaMedia to ignore this effort. Let some people infiltrate a Code Pink demonstration though and it would make front page news."
Monday, April 12. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Federal Reserve at 13:57
"Did The Fed Just (Surreptitiously) Bail Out Europe?
Source The Market Ticker
"No, not just Greece - all of Europe. Without Congressional authorization or notice, of course.
Hattip to a nice emailer....
Or if you prefer it on a one-year time scale...
That nice little vertical line is a gain of $421.8 billion dollars of outstanding loans and leases in one week's time.
WHERE THE HELL DID THAT MONEY GO AND WHAT COLLATERAL WAS TAKEN AGAINST A FOUR HUNDRED BILLION DOLLAR INCREASE IN OUTSTANDING LOANS?
You won't find anything like that in the records - because it's never happened before. That's beyond unprecedented, it's ridiculous, and assuming it's also accurate, someone has some 'splaining to do on what clearly appears to be some sort of back-door game being run.
Update: It has been suggested that this may be related to the FASB changes and securitized loans coming back on the balance sheet. If so, where's the alleged memorandum items on the other side and the footnote on FRED? The latter is missing, but the necessary data on FRED to confirm that is not yet updated.
Nonetheless, if this is the case, it's still bad (just not catastrophic) as this will directly hit capital ratios. Or, put another way, where's the additional capital that "should" be there to support what is now on balance sheet and was previously off (never mind that it was crooked as hell to have it off in the first place!)"
April 10, 2010, 4:20 PM ET
"Ron Paul: Barack Obama is Not a Socialist
By Susan Davis
"NEW ORLEANS–Republicans and tea party activists are fond of accusing President Barack Obama of being a socialist, but today party gadfly Ron Paul said they had it wrong.
“In the technical sense, in the economic definition, he is not a socialist,” the Texas Republican said to a smattering of applause at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
“He’s a corporatist,” Paul quickly added, meaning the president takes “care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.........”
Found this link on another site.
"Poland on Tuesday agreed to a new version of a deal on stationing an American missile shield, a government statement said, adding it would be aimed essentially at potential threats from Iran.
Warsaw "accepts signing a protocol modifying the accord signed by the Polish and American governments on the installation on our territory of anti-ballistic missile interceptors concluded in Warsaw on August 20, 2008," it said.
In September, US President Barack Obama shelved a plan by his predecessor George W. Bush to deploy a missile shield in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic by 2013 that Russia had slammed as a grave security threat.
The US has insisted the system was in no way aimed against Russia, but aimed to counter potential attacks by so-called "rogue" states, notably Iran.
But Obama's team then said it wanted to deploy a new SM-3 anti-missile system in Poland and the neighbouring Czech Republic in 2015.
During an October visit by US Vice President Joe Biden to Poland, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said is country was ready to join a new Obama-proposed US anti-missile system.
"In line with the new concept, the system is primarily to guard against Iranian short and medium range missiles by using existing defence systems," the Polish government said Tuesday.
A first batch of United States Patriot missiles will be deployed in Poland in April, defence ministry spokesman Janusz Sejmej said Saturday.
The United States have also spoken with Romania about hosting 20 missile interceptors as part of the new US missile shield in Europe, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi said Friday."
"Dems cleaning up in record congressional fund-raising, special interests flock to donkeys
By: Mark Tapscott
Editorial Page Editor
04/09/10 8:20 AM EDT
Source Washington Examiner"Capital Eye Blog reports that Democrats are absolutely cleaning up on the fund-raising front as the 2010 mid-term congressional election campaign swings into higher gear.
"The cost of the 2010 election cycle is on pace to break the record for a midterm election, set during the 2006 cycle," said Capial Eye Blog, which is produced by members of the staff at the Center for Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets.org is the CRP web site that is the authority on where political money is going.
"And across the board, Democrats, who now control the White House and both chambers of Congress, are on the receiving end of far more campaign cash than they were four years ago, according to a Center for Responsive Politics review of campaign finance data filed with the Federal Election Commission," CEB said.
What is perhaps most eye-opening here is the degree to which major special interest groups are giving to the incumbent Democrats despite the apparent advantage Republicans have going into the 2010 races, according to CEB:
"People and political action committees categorized by the Center as part of the health sector gave 32 percent more to federal candidates, parties and committees last year compared to 2005, increasing to about $55 million. Of this sum, 58 percent went to Democrats, compared to just 33 percent flowing to Democrats in 2005.
"People and PACs within the energy sector donated 30 percent more last year than they did in 2005, the Center found, giving about $26 million in 2009. Nearly 50 percent of this amount went to Democrats, compared to just 24 percent going to Democrats in 2005.
"Defense sector giving was 23 percent higher in 2009 than it was in 2005, at about $29 million last year, and contributions by people and PACs associated with ideological causes and single-issue groups were 21 percent higher last year compared to 2005, the Center found, increasing to $70 million.
"Furthermore, defense sector contributions went from 37 percent to Democrats in 2005 to 58 percent to Democrats in 2009, and ideological and single-issue giving went from 54 percent to Democrats to 70 percent."
Contributions from firms in the finance, real estate and insurance sectors remained essentially unchanged, however, according to CEB.
Givent that Republicans are almost certain to pick up large numbers of seats in November - and may even retake the House - one would expect special interest giving to be more balanced. Rasmussen Reports shows the GOP leading by a substantial nine-point margin on the generic congressional voting intent survey."
"Union Memo Hints At Gov.'s Death
Teachers Union's Memo The Latest Salvo In War Of Words With Gov. Christie
HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBS) NJ Governor Chris Christie delivers the state budget address on March 16, 2010. CBS (photo)
"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie isn't laughing about a teachers union's memo that hints of his death.
The memo is the latest salvo in a war of words between Christie and the union over wage and benefits concessions.
The Record of Bergen County obtained the Bergen County Education Association memo that includes a closing prayer:
"Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
Association president Joe Coppola says the "prayer" was a joke and was never meant to be made public.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says there's nothing professional about the group.
The New Jersey Education Administration also spoke out against the memo.
NJEA President Barbara Keshishian issued the following statement this morning:
"NJEA condemns the inappropriate 'prayer' contained in a letter sent by the NJEA Bergen County regional offices and our Bergen County affiliate. Language such as that has no place in civil discourse. It was intended as humor, but it is not funny. Our ongoing discussion with Gov. Christie is centered on serious issues of significant importance to the state, and that must be the focus of all our conversation. We deeply regret that the 'prayer' reference was included in the letter, and we apologize to Gov. Christie for both the content of the 'prayer' and the lack of respect it demonstrated.
"I will be reaching out to Gov. Christie's office to apologize personally on behalf of all NJEA members."
Meanwhile, Drewniak says the governor is also considering reopening union contracts to try to get salary concessions at the institutes of higher learning.
Unionized employees at the schools deferred a 3.5 percent increase last year when former Gov. Jon Corzine reopened their contracts.
College and university officials are considering cuts to staff and programs to offset a $173 million cut to higher education in Christie's proposed budget.
On Tuesday, Christie extended a deadline for school districts to receive additional state aide in exchange for teachers agreeing to wage freezes."
Have highlighted some bothersome allegations, however you decide for yourself.
"Today, President Obama announced that he will recess appoint Islam A. Siddiqui to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Siddiqui is a pesticide lobbyist and Vice President for Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America, an agribusiness lobbying group that represents Monsanto.
Following is a letter sent by 98 organizations to U.S. Senators in opposition to Siddiqui's appointment, and a fact sheet about him.
The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee's favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.
Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.
The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.
The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.
We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.
[List of 98 organizations below.]
Siddiqui and CropLife: Statements and Positions
Islam Siddiqui was nominated by US President Barack Obama to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the office of the US Trade Representative. He is currently Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America. CropLife is an agricultural industry trade group that lobbies on behalf of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and other pesticide and agricultural biotech corporations.
Siddiqui’s statements and positions—both as a public official and as an industry executive— coupled with CropLife America’s consistent record on public policy issues demonstrate a narrow and short-sighted view of American agriculture and trade interests. This viewpoint consistently places the special interests of large agribusiness above the health and welfare interests the broader public, the international community and the environment.
WHAT DOES SIDDIQUI’S POSITION ENTAIL?
Enforcing Trade Agreements
According to the Progressive Government Institute, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator “conducts critical trade negotiations and enforces trade agreements… This includes multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and bilaterally with various countries and groups of countries. The ambassador also resolves agricultural trade disputes and enforces trade agreements, including issues related to new technologies, subsidies, and tariff and non-tariff barriers and meets regularly with domestic agricultural industry groups to assure their interest are represented in trade.” The industry groups’ interests will be more than adequately represented, as the WTO’s Doha Round will be a perfect opportunity for the agrochemical industry to push for trade agreements that maintain US subsidies, lower tariffs on chemicals, promote GM crops, and unfairly benefit the agrochemical companies that Siddiqui represents.
Legislative Influence and Defining ‘Sound Science’
Another part of the job description is that “He or she also coordinates closely with the US government regulatory agencies to assure that rules and policies in international trade are based on sound science.” Siddiqui’s background has always favored “sound science” to mean high-cost, high-input (and high profit, for CropLife’s members) agricultural practices being imposed on developing countries, despite their preferences. Many countries have chosen to ban GMOs on the precautionary principle, including the EU, but Siddiqui will be able to use the trade talks as leverage so that CropLife’s member companies can force their way around those precautions. Siddiqui will also be able to influence the results of the Casey-Lugar Global Food Security Act Bill (which mandates government funding for biotechnology research).
SIDDIQUI AN APOLOGIST FOR AGRICHEMICAL AND BIOTECH INDUSTRIES
Siddiqui Claimed EU Rejection of GMOs was “Denying Food to Starving People”
In 2003, Siddiqui applauded the Bush Administration’s decision to seek an end to the EU’s moratorium on approval of imports of genetically modified crops. Croplife America said the EU’s position had “no scientific foundation” and Siddiqui said, “EU's illegal moratorium has had a negative ripple effect of creeping regulations and non-science-based decisions, which have resulted in denying food to starving people. The WTO requires that international trade rules be based on sound science, and today's decision will send that strong message to the EU and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America." [Delta Farm Press, 5/23/03]
Siddiqui Compared GMO Acceptance to Accepting “Microwave Ovens”
In 2002, Siddiqui claimed biotech foods have been proven to be as safe as traditionally grown foods. He cited a similar distrust of a new technology many people had when microwave ovens were first introduced; eventually, consumer acceptance of the technology became widespread. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]
Siddiqui Criticized EU for Insisting On “Precautionary Principle” On GMOs
In 2002, Siddiqui criticized the European Union’s precautionary principle rationale for rejecting the import of GMOs. Widely recognized in the international community, the precautionary principle allows societies to protect people and the planet when there are uncertainties or unknown risks associated with the introduction or use of a product. Siddiqui said the principle didn't offer any more real protection to citizens than U.S.- “science-based” regulations and was being used by politicians as a non-tariff trade barrier. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]
Siddiqui Called for New Biotech Green Revolution
Statement by Siddiqui this year on new Green Revolution: “What we need now in the 21st century is another revolution, which some people are calling the second green revolution… You need to have use of 21st century technologies, including biotechnology, genetic technology, and all the other technologies, which are being (inaudible), in terms of achieving that.”
Source: “Green Innovation: Can Patents Help Make the World a Bett... April 22, 2009
Siddiqui Rejected Consumer Labeling of GMOs While Working at USDA
As a special assistant for trade at USDA, Siddiqui in 1999 warned Japan that if they implemented mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) it could mislead consumers about food safety and disrupt trade. Siddiqui said, ``We do not believe that obligatory GMO labeling is necessary, because it would suggest a health risk where there is none.'' He added, “Mandatory labeling could mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require segregation of GMO and non-GMO foods. I fear major trade disruptions and increases in food costs to consumers if Japan requires mandatory labeling.'' Siddiqui also said Japan, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is obligated to find the least trade-restrictive way of achieving its objectives. There are a number of ways other than labeling, such as educational materials and public forums, to provide consumers with information on genetic engineering, he said. [Reuters, 7/27/1999]
Siddiqui is a Former Registered Lobbyist
From 2001- 2003, Islam Siddiqui was a registered lobbyist with CropLife America, which spent just over $2 million on lobbying the federal government in 2008, and just under $1.9 million in 2007 on issues like registering pesticides for use in schools, limiting the Endangered Species Act so that it doesn’t inhibit agricultural pesticide use, revision of EPA pesticide registration fees, and fighting the EPA on restrictions to the use of fumigants.
CROPLIFE AMERICA REGIONAL PARTNER TARGETED MICHELLE OBAMA ORGANIC GARDEN
CropLife America’s Regional Partner Targeted Michelle Obama Organic Garden
CropLife America's regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama's organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive defending chemical intensive agriculture and urging Michelle Obama to consider using pesticidies and herbicides. Mid America CropLife Association is listed as a regional partner on CropLife America’s website.
SIDDIQUI OVERSAW FIASCO OVER USDA’s FIRST PROPOSED ORGANIC STANDARDS
Siddiqui Instrumental in Drafting First Proposed Organic Standards that Would Have Allowed Toxic Sludge, GMOs and Irradiated Food to be Labeled “Organic”
As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and permitted the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. Only after 230,000 comments flooded into USDA were these standards strengthened. It remains one of the highest outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in U.S. history. [Mother Jones]
Siddiqui Admitted USDA Overruled Organics Board Recommendations
Siddiqui justified allowing for possible allowance of GMOs, irradiated foods and toxic sludge under the organics by saying, “we know that [the] Organics Board had recommended against those two items in the organic agriculture. There's a considerable debate on these issues; it's a public debate issue. So essentially, the department has felt that we want to open it up, we want to seek comments. And it could be any one of the three choices; either it could be allowed, it could be prohibited, or it could be allowed on a case-by-case basis, especially dealing with GMOs. [Federal News Service, 12/15/07]
Siddiqui Admitted Allowing no GMOs in Organics Would Possibly be “Inconsistent” with Forcing GMOs on EU
Siddiqui explained one of the reasons GMOs were not banned under organic label was because " ... some of the agencies within the U.S. government felt that we will be inconsistent in going to the EU and telling them to not require GMO contents being spelt out in ingredients." [Food and Drink Weekly, 1/19/98]
CROPLIFE AMERICA SPENT HALF-MILLION TO DEFEAT COUNTY-LEVEL ANTI-GMO INITIATIVE
CropLife Spent $500,000 to Defeat County Ballot Banning GMOs
"In March 2004, CropLife poured funding into a campaign to defeat a Mendocino County ballot initiative - known as Measure H - that would make the country the first to ban genetically engineered crops. In the lead up to the vote, CropLife contributed over $500,000 - more than seven times that of the initiative supporters - to defeat the proposal.  Despite the massive campaign against the initiative, the bio-tech industry suffered a humiliating defeat. The measure passed by a margin of 56% to 43%. "
Siddiqui Said “Pleased” by Defeat of Ballot Measures
Siddiqui, on behalf of CropLife America, said he was pleased that voters in three California counties had rejected proposed bans on biotech crop cultivation. "I think you'll see more counties in California try[proposing a ban]the next time they can get it on the ballot," he said, adding that similar initiatives are unlikely in other states. [Food Chemical News, 1/3/05]
CROPLIFE AMERICA CONSISTENTLY FAVORS AGRIBUSINESS INTERESTS OVER PUBLIC INTEREST
CropLife Lobbied to Allow Children to be Used for Pesticide Experiments
In August 2005, CropLife America met with Bush Administration officials at the Office of Managment and Budget and EPA to allow for children to participate in pesticide experiments. CropLife America urged certain allowances to be made for chemical testing on children. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility criticized the meeting for excluding the perspectives of ethicists, child advocates and scientists. EPA one month later adopted a human testing rule in line with CropLife America’s suggestions. Environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to adequately protect women and children. [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]
PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruck commented on the backdoor meeting, “These meeting notes make it clear that the pesticide industry’s top objective is access to children for experiments. After reading these ghoulish notes one has the urge to take a shower. For an administration which trumpets its concern for the ‘value and dignity of life,’ it is disconcerting that no ethicists, children advocates or scientists were invited to this meeting to counterbalance the pesticide pushers.” [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]
Supported Use of Human Test Subjects
In 2003, CropLife America expressed pleasure that the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned EPA's moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment. The court ruled that EPA's "previous practice of considering third- party human studies on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, is reinstated and remains in effect unless and until it is replaced by a lawfully promulgated regulation." "We are pleased that the court recognized that EPA's moratorium constituted a binding regulation issued without notice and the opportunity to comment," said Jay J. Vroom, head of CropLife America. [U.S. Newswire, 6/3/03]
CropLife America Secured Continued Use Of Banned Ozone-Depleting Pesticide, Methyl Bromide
CropLife America supported the continued use of methyl bromide by farmers in the U.S. despite its supposed ban under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Protocol) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Bush administration secured an exemption of the highly controversial chemical in 2006. "By no means is there one product that will fit all the critical uses of methyl bromide today," CropLife CEO Jay Vroom said. The continued exemptions are needed while research continues on the alternative pesticides, he said, adding, "We're not there yet, and the American farmer needs to have these tools so we can continue to be have viable exports." Source: Associated Press, Nov 4, 2006. For more information see the website for the UN Environmental Programme Ozone Secretariat. The PANNA website contains extensive resources and fact sheets on methyl bromide’s use for soil fumigation.
· Methyl bromide, a powerful ozone depleter used on strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and other crops. The EPA has classified methyl bromide as a Toxicity Category I compound, the most deadly category of substances due to causing neurological damage and reproductive harm. Farmworkers in particular have experienced death, birth defects, blurred vision, nausea, and dizziness as a result of direct exposure to methyl bromide. Methyl Bromide has also been listed as a Class I Ozone Depleter under the Clean Air Act. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic pesticide.
· From 1982 to 1990, at least 18 people in California died from exposure to methyl bromide. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation also reports at least 148 systemic illnesses, 52 eye injuries and 60 cases of skin damage from methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has also caused birth defects in studies required by U.S. EPA and submitted by the manufacturer.
· Methyl bromide is toxic to the central nervous system and can damage lungs and kidneys and possibly cause cancer. Direct exposure can lead to headaches, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Many farmworkers and residents near fumigated fields have experienced these symptoms. [Pesticide Action Network]
Croplife America Resistant to International Regulations Over Toxic Chemicals
Croplife America has been a driving force to weaken the U.S. position on the Stockholm Convention, a critical effort to regulate the use of toxic “persistent organic pollutants (POPs).” These include the well known chemicals DDT, PCBs and dioxins that have been linked to a host of serious human health problems and environmental concerns. Even at very low levels of exposure, POPs can cause reproductive and developmental disorders, damage to the immune and nervous systems, and a range of cancers. CropLife America has argued that “American sovereignty” concerns should override the treaty if the chemical regulations are stronger than U.S. law. CropLife America explicitly calls for the U.S. to “protect export markets for American produce and farm commodities,” even if they use chemicals that may be outlawed by the POP treaties. [CropLife America Website]
CropLife America Argues for Allowing Usage of Toxic Endosulfans
Croplife America and its international counterpart CropLife International, whom Siddiqui has represented in international negotiations, have continuously argued for a legitimate role for the dangerous POP endosulfan. However in October 2009, scientists declared that: “endosulfan is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted.” The finding sets the stage for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention. Endosulfan is an endocrine disruptor, and low dose exposure while in the womb is linked to male reproductive harm, autism, and birth defects. High dose exposures are acutely toxic, resulting in headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness and death. [Manila Bulletin, 10/20/09]
CropLife America Withdrew from Landmark UN/World Bank Study on Ag Research (IAASTD) that Highlighted Agroecological Science as Promising Way to “Feed the World”
CropLife Upset Industry Viewpoint Not Allowed to Dictate Findings
CropLife International participated in the UN/World Bank-sponsored International Assessment for Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) for 4 years, before withdrawing in the final days of the process. The IAASTD reports—authored by over 400 scientists and development experts from more than 80 countries, and subjected to two open public review processes—remains the most authoritative study to date on agriculture research and technology. CropLife objected to the measured but lukewarm findings of the IAASTD on “modern biotechnology” and genetic engineering. According to the spokesman for CropLife, their decision to withdraw in the final days was prompted by "the inability of its members to get industry perspectives reflected in the draft reports” —a complaint belied by the fact that IAASTD editors repeatedly offered CropLife a “blank page” to present the industry’s viewpoints. Ultimately, industry authors failed to submit text in time for publication.
The IAASTD concluded that an increase in investments in agroecological practices would be necessary to meet 21st century needs, noting that agroecological, organic, biodiverse and regenerative practices represented highly promising and scientifically robust approaches to feeding the world while also meeting social equity and sustainability goals, particularly under increasing stresses of climate change, water scarcity and fossil-fuel based energy limitations. In contrast, the IAASTD observed that chemical intensive and GMO-based practices were unlikely to meet these goals, had in many cases undermined public health and/or contaminated the environment, and posed severe social equity concerns due to industry concentration, IPR and patent rules. [Bioscience Resource, New Scientist, PANNA]
Prepared by Lindsey Schneider and Vera Glavova, PANNA, with contributions from National Family Farm Coalition. For further information on CropLife:http://www.panna.org/resources/pops, http://www.panna.org/resources/treaties
Pesticide Action Network has worked to replace pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives since 1982. PANNA is one of five regional facilitating organizations serving a global network of more than 600 civil society groups in over 90 countries who share these goals. For more information, see http://www.panna.org.
98 organizations who signed on to the letter to the Senate:
Alaska Community Action on Toxics (AK)
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (WI)
Beyond Pesticides (DC)
Breast Cancer Action (CA)
California Food and Justice Coalition (CA)
Californians for GE-Free Agriculture (CA)
Californians for Pesticide Reform (CA)
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CA)
Center for Environmental Health (CA)
Center for Food Safety (DC)
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CA)
Central Florida Jobs with Justice Project (FL)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (NE)
Community Farm Alliance (KY)
Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (OR)
Cornucopia Institute (WI)
Earth Justice (CA)
Equal Exchange (MA)
Fair Trade Coalition (MN)
Family Farm Defenders (WI)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX)
Farm Worker Pesticide Project (WA)
Farmworker Association of Florida (FL)
Farmworker Justice (DC)
Farmworkers Self-Help (FL)
Food & Water Watch (DC)
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (CA)
Food for Maine’s Future (ME)
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FL)
Food Democracy Now! (IA)
Food Systems Integrity (MA)
Florida Organic Growers (FL)
Fresno Metro Ministry (CA)
Friends of the Earth (DC, CA)
Greenpeace US (DC, CA)
Grassroots International (MA)
Growing Power Inc. (WI)
Indigenous Environmental Network (MN) Indiana Toxics Action (IN) Innovative Farmers of Ohio (OH) Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (MN)
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (IA)
Kids for Saving Earth (MN)
Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KY)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Lideres Campesinas (CA)
Maine Fair Trade Campaign (ME)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (ME)
Maryland Pesticide Network (MD)
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MS)
Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MO)
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (OK)
National Family Farm Coalition (DC)
National Farm Worker Ministry (MO)
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association (DC)
New York Environmental Law & Justice (NY)
Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Council (CT)
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (ME)
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (OR)
Oakland Institute (CA)
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade (OH)
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project (OK)
Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (OR)
Oregon Toxics Alliance (OR)
Organic Consumers Association (MN)
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (WV)
Pesticide Action Network North America (CA)
Pesticide Free Zone (CA)
Pesticide Watch (CA)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles (CA)
Public Citizen (DC)
Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NY)
Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (NC)
Rural Coalition/ Coalición Rural
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment (CA)
Science and Environmental Health Network (IA)
Search for the Cause (CA)
Sierra Club (CA, DC)
Small Holders Alliance of Massachusetts (MA)
Student Action with Farmworkers (NC)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (CO)
The Safe Lawns Foundation (ME)
The Second Chance Foundation Washington (WA)
Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WA)
Western Organization of Resource Councils (MT)
World Hunger Year (NY)
Poor baby, not enough guts to face voters again. Any bets he was offered a cu$hy job as a lobbiest or consultant? Maybe his decision wasn't so difficult.
"Rep. Bart Stupak to retire, putting seat in play
"Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who had a central role in the health reform fight as the leader of anti-abortion Democrats, plans to announce Friday that he will not run for reelection, a Democratic official said. Without Stupak on the ballot, the seat becomes an immediate pickup opportunity for Republicans.
"Now with health care done, he’s retiring," a friend said. "He has thought about retiring for the last three cycles, but was always talked into staying: to elect John Kerry to help end the war, to elect a Democratic majority to get health care done."............"
Short trip in the wayback machine to the very early 60's.
"Chanos: "China's Treadmill To Hell" Will Break This Year And The Bubble Will Pop, Kynikos Is Shorting Chinese Developers And Construction Suppliers
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/08/2010 15:24 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"In a Charlie Rose interview to air later, Jim Chanos repeats his warning about all hell breaking loose once the China bubble bursts and puts a timeline on the event - late 2010 or 2011. "Supply will equal demand at some point. It always does, and then there is this precarious tipping point when suddenly you can't sell a project and then it's just as if everyone from the port side of the cruise ship goes to the starboard side of the cruise ship all at once. You get a tipping point, you get this light-bulb moment - "I've got to get out while I can." And the buyers dry out. It's as old as market itself." Chanos also voices his opinion on the CNY, and ever the contrarian, he, just like Edwards and Zero Hedge, implies that the CNY is actually overvalued, contrary to what the NYT's paywall may want you to believe: "Chinese exports aren't the problem here. And what if it turns out that by having to nationalize lots and lots of real estate bad debts, the RNB is devalued." All spot on, however we disagree with Chanos' conclusion that this is something that nobody is expecting: note here and here.
Some other snippets about the interview from Bloomberg:
The world’s third-biggest economy may need to keep up the pace of property investment because up to 60 percent of its gross domestic product relies on construction, said Chanos. The bubble may begin to “run its course” in late-2010 or 2011.
Chinese state and local governments are among the most leveraged to property-related borrowings and the nation will “ultimately” have to nationalize a lot of the bad loans that will arise from the end of the bubble, Chanos said.
China’s foreign currency reserves will be “one asset” that can be used to fund a cleanup of the banking system, he said. The country has accumulated a record $2.4 trillion of reserves, and $889 billion of U.S. government debt, partly a consequence of its exchange-rate policy.
Chanos was one of the first investors to foresee the 2001 collapse of Houston-based energy company Enron Corp. The investor said he is short-selling Chinese developers as well as companies supplying building-related materials to the country, without identifying any stocks.
We will provide the full Chanos-Rose interview in its entirety once it is available."
**** VIDEO CLIP ****
Frank M. Carrio, CMI ESOP Committee Member
Sourch InterNACHI Message Board
However, once the lower classes feel the pinch in their wallets, you can be sure these voters get a tax refund (even if they pay no taxes at all) to offset this new cost. Thus, you Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class America will have to pay even more since additional tax dollars will be needed to bail out everyone else.
But wait. This awful bill (that no one in Congress has actually read) has many more surprises in it. Probably the worst one is this:
The caveat is (there always is a caveat) that if you have enough money to make required major upgrades to your home, then you can sell it. But, if not, then forget it. Even pre-fabricated homes ("mobile homes") are included.
The EPA administrator, appointed by the President, will run the Cap & Trade program (AKA the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009") and is authorized to make any future changes to the regulations and standards he alone determines to be in the government's best interest. Requirements are set low initial y so the bill will pass Congress; then the Administrator can set much tougher new standards every year.
Building Retrofit Program mandates a national retrofit program to increase the energy efficiency of all existing homes across America .
Beginning 1 year after enactment of the Act, you won't be able to sell your home unless you retrofit it to comply with the energy and water efficiency standards of this Act.
You had better sell soon, because the standards will be raised each year and will be really hard (i.e., ex$pen$ive) to meet in a few years. Oh, goody! The Act allows the government to give you a grant of several thousand dollars to comply with the retrofit program requirements if you meet certain energy efficiency levels. But, wait, the State can set additional requirements on who qualifies to receive the grants.
You should expect requirements such as "can't have an income of more than $50K per year", "home selling price can't be more than $125K", or anything else to target the upper middle class (and that's YOU) and prevent them from qualifying for the grants.
Most of us won't get a dime and will have to pay the entire cost of the retrofit out of our own pockets. More transfer of wealth, more "change you can believe in."
Building Energy Performance Labeling Program establishes a labeling program that for each individual residence will identify the achieved energy efficiency performance for "at least 90 percent of the residential market within 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act."
This means that within 5 years 90% of all residential homes in the U.S. must be measured and labeled. The EPA administrator will get $50M each year to enforce the labeling program. The Secretary of the Department of Energy will get an additional $20M each year to help enforce the labeling program. Some of this money will, of course, be spent on coming up with tougher standards each year.
Oh, the label will be like a license for your car. You will be required to post the label in a conspicuous location in your home and will not be allowed to sell your home without having this label.
And, just like your car license, you will probably be required to get a new label every so often - maybe every year.
But, the government estimates the cost of measuring the energy efficiency of your home should only cost about $200 each time.
Remember what they said about the auto smog inspections when they first started: that in California it would only cost $15. That was when the program started. Now the cost is about $50 for the inspection and certificate; a 333% increase. Expect the same from the home labeling program.
Greater Energy Efficiency in Building Codes establishes new energy efficiency guidelines for the National Building Code and mandates at 304(d), Application of National Code to State and Local Jurisdictions, that 1 year after enactment of this Act, all state andlocal jurisdictions must adopt the National Building Code energy efficiency provisions or must obtain a certification from the federal government that their state and/or local codes have been brought into full compliance with the National Building Code energy efficiency standards.
a license required for your home - Google Search
H.R. 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (GovTrack.us)
The Irish Times - Tuesday, April 6, 2010
"Bailout has turned us from citizens into serfs
"After a century and a half of struggle, we’ve landed ourselves back in the same position of feudal servitude, writes FINTAN O'TOOLE
A QUESTION haunts me because I can think of no good answer: why should anyone who has a choice continue to live in Ireland? This is not an abstract thought experiment. I have two sons in their early 20s. I am trying to find one compelling reason for them to stay here.
In the 1980s, the mark of the degradation of Ireland under Charles Haughey was that Irish passports were for sale to non-citizens. Now we have come up with something worse: citizens have to pay too. To belong to this State, we have to pay what is in effect a Seanie and Fingers Tax (SFT). Our ancestors had their rents raised when their absentee landlords lost fortunes at the gambling tables of London or Paris. After a century and a half of struggle, we’ve landed ourselves back in precisely the same position of feudal servitude.
Let’s take some admittedly very crude figures sketched by Nat O’Connor on the progressive-economy.ie blog. There are 1.9 million people at work in the Irish economy. Their average earnings last year were €36,300. After tax, that’s €29,500 each. From this, each one will stump up an average of €4,600 just to pay the interest on the money the State is borrowing to fund the bank bailout.
Or, to put it another way, everyone lucky enough to have a job in Ireland over the next 10 years will be working most of one day a week to pay for Seanie, Fingers and the lads. It is no exaggeration to call this feudal. Medieval lords exacted food and money from their vassals. They called it “coign and livery”. We call it “Nama and recapitalisation”. Why would anyone who can do otherwise choose to donate about five or six hours of free labour every week for 10 years to the banks? In all of this, the humiliation is actually worse than the money. The financial cost is, admittedly, hideous. Let’s just consider the €2 billion a year we’ll be stumping up for the zombie institutions, Anglo Irish and Nationwide.
The exchequer (perhaps optimistically) expects to take in €11.5 billion in income taxes this year. So, more than one euro in every six we pay in income tax will go to fund institutions that will probably never put another cent into the Irish economy.
Every year until at least 2021, we will be putting €500 million more into Anglo and Nationwide than into the Department of the Environment’s capital budget. (At least John Gormley will be able to say that the Government is spending unprecedented sums on sewage systems.)
The social and economic costs of this are devastating, especially when you think of what else we could do with the money. For the annual €2 billion we’re putting into Anglo and Nationwide, we could almost double what the State spends on mental health services and disability services.
We could almost quadruple spending on children and families. For just two years of the SFT, we could build a national high-speed broadband network, putting people to work in the process and greatly improving our economic competitiveness.
So, yes, the financial side of the SFT is sickening. But the humiliation is worse. The idea that, year-in, year-out, we will be working to pay off the gambling debts of our absentee landlords, turns us from citizens to serfs. It cuts to the heart of the meaning of a democratic community – the sense of mutual obligation. Now, all the obligations are one way. We can no longer even pay lip service to social justice. The most rank and brazen injustice is written into every clause of our new social contract.
Humiliation is the most corrosive of emotions. It destroys self-respect. It generates the sense of absolute powerlessness that is every bit as corrupting as absolute power. It festers and sours. It turns both inwards on itself and outwards on to those who are even weaker than ourselves. It took us a century to overcome our sense of national humiliation and a little over a decade to give it back.
It is humiliating to have to work most of a day a week for scroungers and scoundrels. It is humiliating that Brian Cowen, who bears as much personal responsibility for this disaster as anyone else, is still Taoiseach. And it is humiliating that, collectively, we seem incapable of anything beyond impotent rage.
The national strategy is to breed servility back into Irish bones. We are instructing our young people to relearn the ways of their ancestors and to tug the forelock as they clean up the mess left by the Masther, God bless him. Why would they want to do that? Why would they choose, if they are fortunate enough to get work here, to hand over a substantial chunk of what they earn to pay for a profligacy in which they had no part? Much as I want my sons to stay here, I’d be ashamed of them if they did not utter the cry of James Joyce a century ago: non serviam , I will not serve."
Cow gas not working for them huh? Mother Nature wins again.
"Cows absolved of causing global warming with nitrous oxide
Livestock could actually be good for the environment according to a new study that found grazing cows or sheep can cut emissions of a powerful greenhouse gas.
By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Published: 7:00AM BST 08 Apr 2010
"In the past environmentalists, from Lord Stern to Sir Paul McCartney, have urged people to stop eating meat because the methane produced by cattle causes global warming.
However a new study found that cattle grazed on the grasslands of China actually reduce another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
Authors of the paper, published in Nature, say the research does not mean that producing livestock to eat is good for the environment in all countries. However in certain circumstances, it can be better for global warming to let animals graze on grassland.
The research will reignite the argument over whether to eat red meat after other studies suggested that grass fed cattle in the UK and US can also be good for the environment as long as the animals are free range.
Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, carried out the study in Inner Mongolia in China. He found that grassland produced more nitrous oxide during the spring thaw when sheep or cattle have not been grazing. This is because the greenhouse gas, also known as laughing gas, is released by microbes in the soil. When the grass is long snow settles keeping the microbes warm and providing water, however when the grass is cut short by animals the ground freezes and the microbes die.
Dr Butterbach-Bahl said the study overturned assumptions about grazing goats and cattle.
"It's been generally assumed that if you increase livestock numbers you get a rise in emissions of nitrous oxide. This is not the case," he said.
Estimated nitrous oxide emissions from temperate grasslands in places like Inner Mongolia as well as vast swatches of the United States, Canada, Russia and China account for up a third of the total amount of the greenhouse gas produced every year. Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane.
But Dr Butterbach-Bahl pointed out that the study did not take into account the methane produced by the livestock or the carbon dioxide produced if soil erodes. He also pointed out that much of the red meat eaten in the western world if from intensively farmed animals in southern countries.
He said the study does not overturn the case for cutting down on red meat but shows grazing livestock is not always bad for global warming."
"The Latest Gold Fraud Bombshell: Canada's Only Bullion Bank Gold Vault Is Practically Empty, Is The Central Fund Of Canada Insolvent?
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/07/2010 10:30 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"Continuing on the trail of exposing what is rapidly becoming one of the largest frauds in commodity markets history is the most recent interview by Eric King with GATA's Adrian Douglas, Harvey Orgen (who recently testified before the CFTC hearing) and his son, Lenny, in which the two discuss their visit to the only bullion bank vault in Canada, that of ScotiaMocatta, located at 40 King Street West in Toronto, and find the vault is practically empty. This is a relevant segue to a class action lawsuit filed against Morgan Stanley, which was settled out of court, in which it was alleged that Morgan Stanley told clients it was selling them precious metals that they would own in full and that the company would store, yet even despite charging storage fees was not in actual possession of the bullion. It appears that this kind of lack of physical holdings by all who claim to have gold in storage, is pervasive as the actual gold globally is held primarily in paper or electronic form. Lenny Organ who was the person to enter the vault of ScotiaMocatta, says "What shocked me was how little gold and silver they actually had." Lenny describes exactly how much (or little as the case may be) silver was available - roughly 60,000 ounces. As for gold - 210 400 oz bars, 4,000 maples, 500 eagles, 10 kilo bars, 10 one kilogram pieces of gold nugget form, which Adrian Douglas calculates as being $100 million worth, which is just one tenth of what the Royal Mint of Canada sold in 2008, or over $1 billion worth of gold. As Orgen concludes: "The game ends when the people who own all these paper obligations say enough and take physical delivery, and that's when the mess will occur."
Also note the interesting detour into what Stephan Spicer, a VP of a major bank and a friend of the proprietor of the Central Fund Of Canada, has said in regard to these observations: he wanted access to his 15,000 oz of silver, and had to wait 6-8 weeks for its to be flown in from Hong Kong. What this may imply for the CFC itself is rather critical - the CFC notes on its website it is in possession of 1.3 million and 67.3 million ounces of gold and silver, respectively. One wonders just how much actual gold is really backing these claims.
It is funny that central bankers thought they could take the ponzi mentality of infinite dilution of all assets coupled with infinite debt issuance, as they have done to fiat money, and apply it to gold, in essence piling leverage upon leverage. They underestimated gold holders' willingness to be diluted into perpetuity - when the realization that gold owned is just 1% of what is physically deliverable, you will see the biggest bank run in history.
From SteveQuayle.com/News Posted because they don't usually leave photos up very long.
This song got some radio play when it came out but imagine 'the establishment' was happy to have it fade away. My opinion brilliant lyrics describing a bad 'trip'. Couldn't find better audio on YouTube, so chose the one displaying lyrics.
"Artist: Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
Album: The First Edition
Appears On (Mixes): Pray For My TV Show
Song Notes: This is probably most known now from appearing in The Big Lebowski, though it was actually a hit in its own right. Also, a lot of people don't realize that's Kenny Rogers singing it, since he's often thought of as being more-or-less completely a Country singer. But his first band, The First Edition was more or less a straightforward rock band that dabbled in psychedelia (sort of like The Amboy Dukes featuring one Ted Nugent) -- though a couple of their biggest hits ended up being crossover successes on both the country and pop charts. So, how about that? It's also a really good song, too, so that always helps. Mike Post produced this recording, and that's Glen Campbell playing the reverbalicious guitar solo."
"More Left-Wing Violence
April 4, 2010 Posted by John at 10:23 AM
"Violence by liberals against conservative and Republican targets continues, picking up where it left off in the 2004 and 2006 campaigns. This time, it was the Republican headquarters in Marion, Ohio:
Two Republican party officials were shocked to hear someone had thrown a brick through a window at their headquarters downtown -- with a message directed at stopping conservatism.
"Stop the right wing," was written in purple ink on a piece of notebook paper.
When the leader of their party talks about bringing guns to fights, it is no wonder if Democrats think it is acceptable to throw bricks through windows.
Via RedState. "
Some of the prettiest lyrics ever written.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is plotting a new massive job-killer that the American people can’t afford
"Obama to Crush Economy with Massive CO2 Taxes as Early as Next Week
"Abandoning all loyalty to the democratic processes this nation holds dear, President Obama has made the decision that getting energy tax legislation through Congress with the approval of the American people is just too much of a pain to bother with. Instead he will have the EPA declare as early as next week that CO2 is a dangerous global warming gas and will start regulating its emissions immediately.
Obama’s promise to open up vast stretches of ocean on the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico to energy exploration is simply a ruse to soften up the public for soon to be announced draconian regulations.
Similar to how Obama used the $50 million dollar study on healthcare companies competing across state lines to sell ObamaCare as a bipartisan bill, his recent decree allowing energy companies to explore (not drill, not produce energy from … just explore) new stretches of ocean for oil is also meant to be a trivial, yet impressive enough sounding carrot for conservatives right before he stuffs his Marxist trash down their throats.House Minority Leader John Boehner responded to Obama by saying “At the same time the White House makes today’s announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is plotting a new massive job-killer that the American people can’t afford.”
Every American who doesn’t live in a technology adverse commune in California will now pay even more of their hard earned cash to the federal government for absolutely no good reason.
Put simply, it means $8 for a gallon of gas and 2-3 times higher electricity bills. It also means the loss of millions more sorely needed jobs as businesses are hit with higher operating costs and the transfer of whatever remains of our manufacturing sector to China where energy is cheaper and they aren’t so concerned about CO2.
In the first week alone, American businesses estimated that ObamaCare will cost them $14 billion. By most estimates this latest Obama nightmare will be far more expensive and may literally destroy the economy in less than 20 years.
All because of climate science that has been clearly exposed as inaccurate and untrustworthy. Obama may or may not be a communist plant sent to destroy America, but he sure is acting like one."
Listen to 'em long enough and the truth comes out.
Thursday, April 1. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger
Source The Market Ticker
"The Fed Admits To Breaking The Law
April 1 (Bloomberg) -- After months of litigation and political scrutiny, the Federal Reserve yesterday ended a policy of secrecy over its Bear Stearns Cos. bailout.
In a 4:30 p.m. announcement in a week of congressional recess and religious holidays, the central bank released details of securities bought to aid Bear Stearns’s takeover by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Bloomberg News sued the Fed for that information.
The problem is this: The Fed is not authorized to BUY anything other than those securities that have the full faith and credit of The United States.
In addition Ben Bernanke has repeatedly claimed that these deals would not cost anyone money. But the current value looks differently:
Assets in Maiden Lane II totaled $34.8 billion, according to the Fed, which set their current market value in its weekly balance sheet at $15.3 billion. That means Maiden Lane II assets are worth 44 cents on the dollar, or 44 percent of their face value, according to the Fed.
Maiden Lane III, which has $56 billion of assets at face value, is worth $22.1 billion, or 39 cents on the dollar, according to the Fed’s weekly balance sheet. A similar calculation for the Bear Stearns portfolio couldn’t be made because of outstanding derivatives trades.
In other words, they have lost more than half of their value.
This was and remains a blatantly unlawful activity.
The Fed has effectively usurped Article 1 Section 7 of The Constituion which reads in part:
All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
The Fed effectively appropriated taxpayer funds without authorization of Congress. At the time these facilities were put in place neither TARP or any other Congressional authorization existed for them to do so, and to date no bill has been put through Congress authorizing the expenditure of taxpayer funds, either through putting them at risk or via outright expense, for this purpose.
Nor does it stop with a "mere" Constitutional violation - The Federal Reserve Act's Sections 13 and 14 do not permit Fed asset purchases except, once again, for items carrying "full faith and credit" guarantees. Credit-default swaps and trash mortgages most certainly do not meet these qualifications.
I know I've harped on this for more than two years, but here we have a raw admission of exactly what was done - and there is simply no way to construe any of it in a light that conforms with either The Constitution or black-letter statutory law.
What's worse is that Tim Geithner, head of the NY Fed at the time, was very much involved in this - that is, he in effect personally, along with Ben Bernanke, usurped the power of the United States House.
The Fed has spent two years trying to hide this from the public and Congress. It has fought off both Congressional demands for disclosure and multiple FOIA lawsuits, the latter of which has resulted in a series of adverse rulings (and, it appears, was ultimately going to force disclosure anyway.)
These actions are unacceptable but promising "never to do that again" is insufficient. In a Representative Republic where the rule of law is supposed to be paramount - that is, where we do not crown Kings and relegate everyone else to the status of knaves, unlawful actions such as this demand that strong and unmistakable sanction also be applied to all wrongdoers in addition to protection against future abuse.
In this case this means that both Geithner and Bernanke must go - for starters.
Amending The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 (as Chris Dodd has proposed to prevent future lending bailouts) is not sufficient in that The Fed did not lend in this case, it purchased, and by buying what we now know were trash loans it violated the black letter of existing law.
There is only one effective remedy for an institution that has proved that it will not abide the law: it must be stripped of all authority that has been in the past and can be in the future abused.
This means that The Fed, if we are to keep it at all, must be relegated to a body that only practices and provides monetary policy - nothing more or less - and that all monetary operations must be performed openly, transparently, and within those constraints.
We cannot have a republic where an unelected body is left free to violate The Constitution with wild abandon and those acts are then allowed to stand.
One final thought: If the individuals responsible for this blatant black-letter violation of the law do not face meaningful sanction for these acts, and neither does The Fed as an institution, can you fine folks over at The Executive, Judiciary and Legislative branches of our government please explain to us ordinary Americans why we should obey any of the laws of this land when you will not enforce the laws that already exist?"
They'll think of something .... they always do.
March 31, 2010
"Wonder where the next 'crisis' will be manufactured
"The Democrat political template is very predictable and depends on a complicit liberal Mainstream Media (MSM) to cover up and obfuscate for shortcomings in policy execution. The Democrat political strategy to inundate, exaggerate, obfuscate, and inoculate policies is evident in domestic policy initiatives as well as foreign policy efforts. The process begins with a classic Cloward-Piven strategy to overwhelm the public with "crisis" after "crisis" that only Democrats can successfully address.
These "crises" are many times based on real national problems, but are exaggerated and personalized to manufacture the idea of impending doom that will appeal to the emotions of the electorate, without factual backing or scientific proof. The housing crisis, the banking crisis, the automotive industry crisis, the climate change crisis, and now the health care crisis all focused on real problems, but hyperbole and exaggeration ruled the debate. Catastrophic consequences are predicted for inaction, and exaggerated results are guaranteed with Democrat intervention. The liberal MSM acted as a cheerleader during these phases of the policy debate, finding anecdotal evidence and writing puff pieces to support the need for action.
Legislation was then crafted that is so huge and complex that it is not understandable by the public or even the Congress, camouflaging government waste and over-reach at every turn. The Bailout bill was $700 Billion and passed without reading, and every major initiative afterwards was over 1,000 pages long, close to $1 Trillion, and unreadable. Once passed visible "low-hanging fruit" aspects are feted while insidious top-heavy bureaucracies are defined and staffed, with organization continuation and expansion as the primary mission. The "saved or created" jobs are a classic example of obfuscation to disguise a absence of any real positive results.
Now the MSM plays a vital role covering up initial results that fall well short of "expectations" and the financial justification erodes before our eyes. Never once does the MSM compare real versus actual results, or re-examine the business case, or question the ability to achieve the desired outcomes. The stimulus inability to create jobs and the inconsequential climate improvement promised by the "cap and trade" bill are conveniently ignored by the MSM. The Mainstream Media is an active co-conspirator to government greed and manipulation, hiding in plain sight, and has forfeited any credibility as a fair and balanced check and balance of power."
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