"Judges Re-assigned for 'Unacceptable Behavior' Exposed by FOX Chicago Investigation
Four jurists singled out by county's top judgeUpdated: Friday, 28 May 2010, 9:31 PM CDT
"Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans has reassigned four judges in response to a FOX Chicago News/Better Government Association investigation into courtroom work habits.
The investigation found the judges leaving their assigned courtrooms well before the 4pm out time ordered by Evans two years ago. One judge, Gloria Chevere, was found soaking up the sun in her backyard at 2pm on a day when her court call ended early. ........"
"Phoenix-area hospitals fight highly toxic 'supergerm'
Apparently there were some good 'trips' way back when.
I hope someday we'll have a world where our children and grandchildren will never be pawns of any world military industrial complex or arms dealer.
Great read. Both Powerlineblog.com and Steve Quayle, Q News linked to this article.
Check out graph pattern forming on this short video. Scary!
Thursday, May 27. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Market Musings at 22:31
"He Was Supposed to Be Competent
The spill is a disaster for the president and his political philosophy.By Peggy Noonan
Found this video on Boortz site this morning.
The Barr Code
"Census workers can enter your apartment in your absence
"Thousands of census workers, including many temporary employees, are fanning out across America to gather information on the citizenry. This is a process that takes place not only every decade in order to complete the constitutionally-mandated census; but also as part of the continuing “American Community Survey” conducted by the Census Bureau on a regular basis year in and year out.
What many Americans don’t realize, is that census workers — from the head of the Bureau and the Secretary of Commerce (its parent agency) down to the lowliest and newest Census employee — are empowered under federal law to actually demand access to any apartment or any other type of home or room that is rented out, in order to count persons in the abode and for “the collection of statistics.” If the landlord of such apartment or other leased premises refuses to grant the government worker access to your living quarters, whether you are present or not, the landlord can be fined $500.00.
That’s right — not only can citizens be fined if they fail to answer the increasingly intrusive questions asked of them by the federal government under the guise of simply counting the number of people in the country; but a landlord must give them access to your apartment whether you’re there or not, in order to gather whatever “statistics” the law permits.
In fact, some census workers apparently are going even further and demanding — and receiving — private cell phone numbers from landlords in order to call tenants and obtain information from them. Isn’t it great to live in a “free” country?"
"Obama Revises History
May 27, 2010 Posted by John at 9:54 PM
"President Obama gave his first press conference in a long time today, and the questions were almost all about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Obama's answers were disingenuous in several ways.
First, he couldn't resist the temptation to blame the Bush administration for the spill. Is this getting a little old, or what? Obama said:
[I]n this instance, the oil industry's cozy and sometimes corrupt relationship with government regulators meant little or no regulation at all.
When Secretary Salazar took office, he found a Minerals and Management Service that had been plagued by corruption for years. This was the agency charged with not only providing permits but also enforcing laws governing oil drilling. And the corruption was underscored by a recent inspector general's report that covered activity which occurred prior to 2007, a report that can only be described as appalling.
And Secretary Salazar immediately took steps to clean up that corruption. But this oil spill has made clear that more reforms are needed.
For years there's been a scandalously close relationship between oil companies and the agency that regulates them.
But the relationship between regulators and the industry they regulate is always "cozy." This is true for at least two reasons. First, businessmen know far more about their businesses than regulators do. Regulators routinely defer to the superior knowledge and expertise of the regulated. Second, most regulators are young people who are planning a career in the regulated industry. A typical career path will begin with law school graduation, followed by a stint in a federal agency, followed by a highly-paid job with one of the formerly-regulated companies, representing that company before the same agency for which the regulator formerly worked. The regulator's prime employment qualification is his or her personal relationship with those who are still at the agency--many of whom, in due course, will follow the well-trodden path into private industry.
This is not exactly a secret. The pattern holds at least as much in Democratic as in Republican administrations. For Barack Obama to pretend to be unaware of the symbiotic relationship between the regulators and the regulated is risible, and he has done nothing whatever to change the "cozy" relationship between regulators and regulated in the energy industry or any other.
Obama's principal revisionism lay in his account of how his administration responded to the Deepwater Horizon explosion. To hear him tell it, the administration anticipated the worst from the beginning and reacted accordingly:
The day that the rig collapsed and fell to the bottom of the ocean, I had my team in the Oval Office that first day. Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don't know the facts. This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred. ...
Q. On April 21st, Admiral Allen tells us, the government started dispatching equipment rapidly to the gulf. And you just said, on day one you recognized the enormity of the situation. Yet, here we are 39, 40 days later, you're still having to rush more equipment, more boom, there are still areas of the coast unprotected.
Why is it taking so long? And did you really act from day one for a worst case scenario?
OBAMA: We did.
This is pure revisionist history. A month ago, the administration's spokesmen explained that their response was graduated as understanding of the magnitude of the spill increased over time. We told the story here and here. To sum up, we can't do better than to quote the New York Times:
The federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly, but did not do so while it waited for a resolution to the spreading spill from BP....
The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was "a spill of national significance," and then set up a second command center in Mobile. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day.
The delay meant that the Homeland Security Department waited until late this week to formally request a more robust response from the Department of Defense, with Ms. Napolitano acknowledging even as late as Thursday afternoon that she did not know if the Defense Department even had equipment that might be helpful.
By Friday afternoon, she said, the Defense Department had agreed to send two large military transport planes to spray chemicals that can disperse the oil while it is still in the Gulf.
Officials initially seemed to underestimate the threat of a leak, just as BP did last year when it told the government such an event was highly unlikely. Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, the chief Coast Guard official in charge of the response, said on April 22, after the rig sank, that the oil that was on the surface appeared to be merely residual oil from the fire, though she said it was unclear what was going on underwater. The day after, officials said that it appeared the well's blowout preventer had kicked in and that there did not seem to be any oil leaking from the well, though they cautioned it was not a guarantee.
The truth is that the federal government's response to the spill was slow and flat-footed. Perhaps Obama's worst misrepresentation related to the government's use of fire booms:
Now, when it comes to what's happening on the surface, we've been much more involved in the in situ burns, in the skimming. Those have been happening more or less under our direction, and we feel comfortable about many of the steps that have been taken.
The real record with respect to "in situ burns" is quite different, as we noted here. In fact, the federal government had a plan to combat major spills in the Gulf that relied on fire booms to carry out in situ burns. But when the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred, the government realized that it did not actually possess any fire booms. It obtained one from a company in Illinois and tried to borrow others from foreign governments. Meanwhile, the oil spread. Ron Gouguet, the former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator who helped craft the government's plan in 1994, expressed puzzlement that the plan had never been implemented and "speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well."
So today's press conference was just another chapter in the ongoing saga of the Obama administration's dishonesty.
PAUL adds: The Weekly Standard's "Scrapbook" adds an interesting footnote to the Obama administration's response to this mess. The Department of Energy assembled a team of five top scientists to help figure out how to handle the clean-up. But one of them, physicist Jonathan Katz of Washington University, has a website on which he publishes essays on non-science topics, including (from 1999) "In Defense of Homophobia" and "Diversity Is the Last Refuge of Scoundrels."
Upon the administration's discovery that Katz doesn't toe the left-liberal line on gay marriage and affirmative action, it booted him off of the team. As the Scrapbook notes, this was a political decision by an administration that promised to "take politics out of religion" and "restore science to its rightful place."
Frankly, I don't expect the government to act flawlessly, or even all that effectively, in the face of true disasters like an enormous flood or a major off-shore oil drilling mishap. I'd be happy with an administration that avoided rank dishonesty and the use of political litmus tests in the selection of its experts.
Found this link on another site. Interesting reading and as I read it it puts the responsibility of responding to the type oil spillage squarely on our federal government's shoulders.
Also talks about a Trust Fund set up to cover costs of clean up.
My question is since Obama was so slow responding, is the Trust Fund funded or have they looted it and left an IOU in that account like they have Social Security?? Inquiring minds want to know.
Posted by David Lungren [email protected]
EPW POLICY BRIEF: THE OIL POLLUTION ACT OF 1990
As emergency response efforts continue in the Gulf, EPW Policy Brief presents a new Gulf oil spill policy series to help interested parties understand the ins and outs of federal policies, regulations, and key issues that apply to the tragic Gulf spill.
In our first installment, we provide an overview of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990, passed in response to the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989. The OPA is the overarching federal statute that delineates the roles and functions of federal agencies involved in responding to a spill in coastal waters.
We think the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an excellent overview of the OPA. Released on April 30, the report, titled "Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress," updates CRS's earlier work on the subject. CRS provides the historical context behind the OPA to help readers understand why it was passed and delves into details of the act's key provisions and the evolution of the act's implementing regulations.
What follows are excerpts from the report that highlight the essential features of the OPA and the provisions of the law that have the most relevance to the Gulf spill:
"When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in March 1989, there were multiple federal statutes, state statutes, and international conventions that dealt with oil discharges. The governing framework for oil spills in the United States remains a combination of federal, state, and international authorities. Within this framework, several federal agencies have the authority to implement oil spill regulations. The framework and primary federal funding process (the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund) used to respond to oil spills is described below."
"With the enactment of OPA on August 18, 1990, Congress consolidated the existing federal oil spill laws under one program. The 1990 law expanded the existing liability provisions within the CWA and created new free-standing requirements regarding oil spill prevention and response. Key OPA provisions are discussed below."
Oil Pollution Act of 1990
Spill Response Authority: "Oil spill response authority is determined by the location of the spill: the USCG has response authority in coastal waters, and the EPA covers inland oil spills.
- "As the primary response authority in coastal waters, the USCG has the ultimate authority to ensure that an oil spill is effectively removed and actions are taken to prevent further discharge from the source. During response operations, the USCG coordinates the efforts of federal, state, and private parties.
- "Coast Guard response efforts are supported by NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration. NOAA provides scientific analysis and consultation during oil spill response activities. "Assistance can include oil spill tracking, cleanup alternatives, and knowledge of at-risk natural resources. Moreover, NOAA experts begin to collect data to assess natural resource damages during response operations."
National Contingency Plan: "OPA expanded the role and breadth of the NCP. The 1990 law established a multi-layered planning and response system to improve preparedness and response to spills in marine environments. Among other things, the act also required the President to establish procedures and standards (as part of the NCP) for responding to worst-case oil spill scenarios."
Tank Vessel and Facility Response Plans: "As a component of the enhanced NCP, OPA amended the [Clean Water Act] to require that U.S. tank vessels, offshore facilities, and certain onshore facilities prepare and submit oil spill response plans to the relevant federal agency. In general, vessels and facilities are prohibited from handling, storing, or transporting oil if they do not have a plan approved by (or submitted to) the appropriate agency."
Liability Issues: "OPA unified the liability provisions of existing oil spill law, creating a freestanding liability regime. Section 1002 states that responsible parties are liable for any discharge of oil (or threat of discharge) from a vessel or facility to navigable waters, adjoining shorelines, or the exclusive economic zone of the United States (i.e., 200 miles beyond the shore)."
"OPA broadened the scope of damages (i.e., costs) for which an oil spiller would be liable. Under OPA, a responsible party is liable for all cleanup costs incurred, not only by a government entity, but also by a private party. In addition to cleanup costs, OPA significantly increased the range of liable damages to include the following:
- injury to natural resources,
- loss of personal property (and resultant economic losses),
- loss of subsistence use of natural resources,
- lost revenues resulting from destruction of property or natural resource injury,
- lost profits resulting from property loss or natural resource injury, and
- costs of providing extra public services during or after spill response.
"Mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs), like the Deepwater Horizon unit involved in the April 2010 incident in the Gulf of Mexico, are first treated as tank vessels for their liability caps. If removal and damage costs exceed this liability cap, a MODU is deemed to be an offshore facility for the excess amount.
"Offshore facility liability is capped at ‘all removal costs plus $75 million'; onshore facilities and deepwater port liability is limited to $350 million. Although these limits are much higher than under the pre-OPA liability structure, Congress did not alter the limits with the tank vessel increases."
The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund: "Prior to OPA, federal funding for oil spill response was generally considered inadequate, and damage recovery was difficult for private parties. To help address these issues, Congress established the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF).
Pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 12777, the USCG created the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) to manage the trust fund in 1991. The fund may be used for several purposes:
- prompt payment of costs for responding to and removing oil spills;
- payment of the costs incurred by the federal and state trustees of natural resources for assessing the injuries to natural resources caused by an oil spill, and developing and implementing the plans to restore or replace the injured natural resources;
- payment of parties' claims for uncompensated removal costs, and for uncompensated damages (e.g., financial losses of fishermen, hotels, and beachfront businesses);
- payment for the net loss of government revenue, and for increased public services by a state or its political subdivisions; and
- payment of federal administrative and operational costs, including research and development, and $25 million per year for the Coast Guard's operating expenses.
"In 2005, Congress reinstated the 5-cent-per-barrel tax on oil, thus providing a dedicated source of revenue for the trust fund. In 2006, Congress raised the vessel liability limits, thus requiring the responsible party to pay a greater proportion of the oil spill costs. In 2008, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA; P.L. 110-343) increased the tax rate to 8 cents per barrel through 2016; in 2017, the rate is scheduled to increase to 9 cents per barrel. The tax terminates at the end of 2017.
"In addition to increasing the tax rate, EESA repealed the requirement that the tax be suspended if the unobligated balance of the fund exceeded $2.7 billion. Under the original tax legislation (the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 (P.L. 101-239), the per-barrel tax would be suspended in any calendar quarter if the fund balance reached $1 billion, restarting again if it dipped below that number. With the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), Congress raised this threshold from $1 billion to $2.7 billion.
"[T]he fund is currently projected to crest $3.5 billion by 2016. Policymakers may question whether it is necessary to have the trust fund reach this level. Others have suggested increasing the amount of trust fund monies that can be used to support oil spill research and development programs."
Why didn't he know?
Also during the press conference Obama did a slick segue away from the subject of bribing Sestak to not run.
And yet, the president said he didn’t know whether Liz Birnbaum had resigned or been fired.
“Now, with respect to Ms. Birnbaum, I found out about her resignation today,” Obama said. “So I don't know the circumstances in which this occurred.”
That explanation flummoxed reporters in the room, who seemed surprised to learn that the president wouldn’t know exactly what had happened to one of the key figures in an ongoing federal emergency – the one he was holding a news conference on at that very moment.
The news of Birnbaum’s departure broke publicly more than two hours before Obama stepped into the East Room. ........."
Interesting events, hard questioning by this reporter. Links to Powerlingblog commentary on "Power Line - A thug too far, part 1-5" below video.
I have no problem with an orderly protest at a business but something is very wrong with a mob converging on private property right up to someone's door.
Power Line A thug too far, part 3
Power Line - A thug too far, part 4
Power Line - A thug too far, part 5
"D.C. Metro Police Escorted SEIU Protesters to Bank Of America Executive's Home
Finally someone is saying what needs to be said everywhere. Wish he could be cloned for every seat in the senate, house, and White House next several election cycles.
Christie for President...!!!!!!
"Two more Census workers blow the whistle
"You know the old saying: "Everyone loves a charade." Well, it seems that the Census Bureau may be playing games.
Last week, one of the millions of workers hired by Census 2010 to parade around the country counting Americans blew the whistle on some statistical tricks.
The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department. ........."
"Sestak White House scandal called 'impeachable offense'
'It's Valerie Plame, only bigger, a high crime and misdemeanor'
Posted: May 25, 2010
8:45 pm Eastern
By Drew Zahn
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
"If a Democratic member of Congress is to be believed, there's someone in the Obama administration who has committed a crime – and if the president knew about it, analysts say it could be grounds for impeachment.
"This scandal could be enormous," said Dick Morris, a former White House adviser to President Bill Clinton, on the Fox News Sean Hannity show last night. "It's Valerie Plame only 10 times bigger, because it's illegal and Joe Sestak is either lying or the White House committed a crime.
"Obviously, the offer of a significant job in the White House could not be made unless it was by Rahm Emanuel or cleared with Rahm Emanuel," he said. If the job offer was high enough that it also had Obama's apppoval, "that is a high crime and misdemeanor."
"In other words, an impeachable offense?" Hannity asked.
"Absolutely," said Morris.
The controversy revolves around an oft-repeated statement by Rep. Sestak, D-Pa., that he had been offered a job by the Obama administration in exchange for dropping out of the senatorial primary against Obama supporter Sen. Arlen Specter.
Sestak said he refused the offer. He continued in the Senate primary and defeated Specter for the Democratic nomination.
But Karl Rove, longtime White House adviser to President George W. Bush, said the charge is explosive because of federal law.
"This is a pretty extraordinary charge: 'They tried to bribe me out of the race by offering me a job,'" he said on Greta Van Susteran's "On the Record" program on the Fox News Channel. "Look, that's a violation of the federal code: 18 USC 600 says that a federal official cannot promise employment, a job in the federal government, in return for a political act.
"Somebody violated the law. If Sestak is telling the truth, somebody violated the law," Rove said. "Section 18 USC 211 says you cannot accept anything of value in return for hiring somebody. Well, arguably, providing a clear path to the nomination for a fellow Democrat is something of value.
He continued, citing a third law passage: "18 USC 595, which prohibits a federal official from interfering with the nomination or election for office. ... 'If you'll get out, we'll appoint you to a federal office,' – that's a violation of the law."
Staffers with Sestak's congressional office did not respond to WND requests for comment. But the congressman repeatedly confirmed that he was offered the position and refused and that any further comments would have to come from someone else.
"I've said all I'm going to say on the matter. … Others need to explain whatever their role might be," Sestak said on CNN this week. "I have a personal accountability; I should have for my role in the matter, which I talked about. Beyond that, I'll let others talk about their role."
That's not fulfilling his responsibilities, Rove said. He said Sestak needs to be forthcoming with the full story so "the American people can figure out whether or not he's participating in a criminal cover-up along with federal officials."
The Obama White House has tried to minimize the issue.
"Lawyers in the White House and others have looked into conversations that were had with Congressman Sestak, and nothing inappropriate happened," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has stated.
Gibbs told the White House press corps, "Whatever conversations have been had are not problematic."
And on CBS' "Face the Nation" he said, "I'm not going to get further into what the conversations were. People who looked into them assure me they weren't inappropriate in any way."
But the administration also is taking no chances on what might be discovered.
According to Politico, the Justice Department has rejected a request from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for a special counsel to investigate and reveal the truth of the controversy.
The report said Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich confirmed no special counsel would be needed. But the report said Weich also gave no indication that the Justice Department actually was looking into the claims by Sestak.
"We assure you that the Department of Justice takes very seriously allegations of criminal conduct by public officials. All such matters are reviewed carefully by career prosecutors and law enforcement agents, and appropriate action, if warranted, is taken," Weich wrote in the letter.
Issa had suggested that the alleged job offer may run afoul of federal bribery statutes.
He said in a statement to Politico, "The attorney general's refusal to take action in the face of such felonious allegations undermines any claim to transparency and integrity that this administration asserts."
He's also made a decision to raise the profile of his concerns.
"The bottom line is all fingers are being pointed back to the White House," he said in a statement released as ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"This Chicago-style politicking is an assault on our democracy and is downright criminal. President Obama faces a critical choice – he can either live up to his rhetoric of transparency and accountability by disclosing who inside his White House tried to manipulate an election by bribing a U.S. Congressman or he can allow his administration to continue this stonewalling and relinquish the mantle of change and transparency he is so fond of speaking on."
Issa suggested, "Could the reason why Congressman Joe Sestak refuses to name names is because the very people who tried to bribe him are now his benefactors? For months, Sestak has repeatedly said without equivocation that the White House illegally offered him a federal job in exchange for dropping out of the race. Was Joe Sestak embellishing what really happened, or does he have first-hand knowledge of the White House breaking the law? If what he said is the truth, Joe Sestak has a moral imperative to come forward and expose who within the Obama Administration tried to bribe him."
Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman, as well as Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, have joined the chorus suggesting the White House needs to answer some questions.
Former judge Andrew Napolitano, an analyst for Fox News, said the level of the offer simply isn't an issue.
"It wouldn't matter if it was a job as a janitor. Offering him anything of value to get him to leave a political race is a felony, punishable by five years in jail," he said.
The Section 600 statute states:
Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
Douglas Sosnik, the White House political director for Bill Clinton, said offering jobs to political friends is "business as usual," but said Obama's promise was that "business as usual" wouldn't continue in his White House.
"It cuts against the Obama brand," he told the New York Times.
Ron Kaufman, who served under the first President Bush, also told the newspaper such offers are not unusual.
"But here's the difference – the times have changed and the ethics have changed and the scrutiny has changed. This is the kind of thing people across America are mad about," Kaufman said.
WND previously reported on the Sestak controvesy and a similar one concerning a Democrat Senate candidate in Colorado, Andrew Romanoff.
The Denver Post said Jim Messina, Obama's deputy chief of staff and "a storied fixer in the White House political shop, suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions."
Romanoff at the time was challenging another major Obama supporter, Sen. Michael Bennet, for the Democratic primary for the Senate seat from Colorado. He has since won top-line position over Bennet in a coming primary.
The report said Romanoff turned down the overture, but it is "the kind of hardball tactics that have come to mark the White House's willingness to shape key races across the country, in this case trying to remove a threat to a vulnerable senator by presenting his opponent a choice of silver or lead."
The newspaper affirmed "several top Colorado Democrats" described the situation, even though White House spokesman Adam Abrams said, "Mr. Romanoff was never offered a position within the administration."
Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation, who has been monitoring the Obama administration, told WND the offer of reward for some government official's actions raises questions of legal liability.
"There's a federal statute and federal law seems to make clear if you offer a government official some sort of remuneration, directly or indirectly, it's a crime," he said.
Long form or certificate of live birth???????????????????
Oil spill chemicals poisoning fishermen
"...............ALIPAC has documented the following 17 states are following Arizona's lead in response to citizen pressure.
ARKANSAS, IDAHO, INDIANA, MARYLAND, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW JERSEY, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, TEXAS, UTAH .........."
Another reason the south border should have been sealed long ago.
Video part of this excellent report.
"I-Team: Counterfeit Checks
"ATLANTA - There is an organized crime syndicate coming across the United States' southern border cleaning out banks across America every payday.
It's been going on for years, but police are just now getting a handle on what's happening. The FOX 5 I-Team takes a look at how the illegal drifters are turning paychecks into a pay-off.
Small towns everywhere are part of a big problem and they don't even know it. American banks and businesses are fueling a crime syndicate that sends hard-earned dollars to Mexico and Honduras.
This exclusive I-Team investigation may even be the first time some police departments are hearing about this."
WTG Arizona, you showed Washington what the law says!
"So Arizona Was Right After All?Source Powerlineblog.com
May 25, 2010 Posted by John at 4:51 PM
"Arizona's law that attempts to enforce existing immigration statutes was premised largely on the fact that the federal government, which has constitutional responsibility for border control, has essentially abdicated--not just failing, but actually refusing to carry out its constitutional responsibility, as a matter of policy. President Obama, other members of his administration, and many more on the left responded with vicious attacks on the people of Arizona, accusing them of racism, irresponsibility, and so on.
But the American people didn't agree, and the White House has been reading the polls. So now Obama has announced that he is sending 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwestern border and will increase funding for federal immigration law enforcement.
So is Obama now prepared to admit that Arizona was right all along? That its complaints about lax federal enforcement were legitimate, and not motivated by racism or hysteria? And that if National Guardsmen can enforce immigration laws without resort to unwarranted racial profiling, so can Arizona law enforcement personnel?
Of course not. Obama is just trying to get out from under one more bad decision that has caused him to take a thumping in the polls. It would be nice, though, if he learned a lesson about slandering his fellow Americans."
My son sent me the link to this one. Totally awesome comparison.
Back to my first love, metaphysical stuff. Great article, excellent info ... hope you enjoy!
This is not the culture war of the 1990s. It is not a fight over guns, gaysor abortion. Those old battles have been eclipsed by a new struggle between twocompeting visions of the country's future. In one, America will continue to bean exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise --limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined bymarket forces. In the other, America will move toward European-style statismgrounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale incomeredistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.
It is not at all clear which side will prevail. The forces of big governmentare entrenched and enjoy the full arsenal of the administration's money andinfluence. Our leaders in Washington, aided by the unprecedented economic crisisof recent years and the panic it induced, have seized the moment to introducebreathtaking expansions of state power in huge swaths of the economy, from thehealth-care takeover to the financial regulatory bill that the Senate approvedThursday. If these forces continue to prevail, America will cease to be a freeenterprise nation.
I call this a culture war because free enterprise has been integral toAmerican culture from the beginning, and it still lies at the core of ourhistory and character. "A wise and frugal government," Thomas Jefferson declaredin his first inaugural address in 1801, "which shall restrain men from injuringone another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits ofindustry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the breadit has earned. This is the sum of good government." He later warned: "To takefrom one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathershas acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, havenot exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the firstprinciple of association, the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of hisindustry and the fruits acquired by it." In other words, beware government'seconomic control, and woe betide the redistributors.
Now, as then, entrepreneurship can flourish only in a culture whereindividuals are willing to innovate and exert leadership; where people enjoy therewards and face the consequences of their decisions; and where we can gamblethe security of the status quo for a chance of future success.
Yet, in his commencement address at Arizona State University on May 13, 2009,President Obama warned against precisely such impulses: "You're taught to chaseafter all the usual brass rings; you try to be on this "who's who" list or thatTop 100 list; you chase after the big money and you figure out how big yourcorner office is; you worry about whether you have a fancy enough title or afancy enough car. That's the message that's sent each and every day, or has beenin our culture for far too long -- that through material possessions, through aruthless competition pursued only on your own behalf -- that's how you willmeasure success." Such ambition, he cautioned, "may lead you to compromise yourvalues and your principles."
I appreciate the sentiment that money does not buy happiness. But for thepresident of the United States to actively warn young adults away from economicambition is remarkable. And he makes clear that he seeks to change our culture.
The irony is that, by wide margins, Americans support free enterprise. A Gallup poll in January found that 86 percent of Americans have apositive image of "free enterprise," with only 10 percent viewing it negatively.Similarly, in March 2009, the Pew Research Center asked individuals from a broadrange of demographic groups: "Generally, do you think people are better off in afree-market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time totime, or don't you think so?" Almost70 percent of respondents agreed that they are better off in a free-marketeconomy, while only 20 percent disagreed.
In fact, no matter how the issue is posed, not more than 30 percent ofAmericans say they believe we would fare better without free markets at the coreof our system. When it comes to support for free enterprise, we are essentiallya 70-30 nation.
So here's a puzzle: If we love free enterprise so much, why are the 30percent who want to change that culture in charge?
It's not simply because of the election of Obama. As much as Republicans maydislike hearing it, statism had effectively taken hold in Washington long beforethat.
The George W. Bush administration began the huge Wall Street and Detroitbailouts, and for years before the economic crisis, the GOP talked about freeenterprise while simultaneously expanding the government with borrowed money andincreasing the percentage of citizens with no income tax liability. The 30percent coalition did not start governing this country with the advent of Obama,Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. It has been in charge for years.
But the real tipping point was the financial crisis, which began in 2008. Themeltdown presented a golden opportunity for the 30 percent coalition to attackfree enterprise openly and remake America in its own image.
And it seized that opportunity. While Republicans had no convincingexplanation for the crisis, seemed responsible for it and had no obvious plansto fix it, the statists offered a full and compelling narrative. OrdinaryAmericans were not to blame for the financial collapse, nor was government. Thereal culprits were Wall Street and the Bush administration, which had gutted theregulatory system that was supposed to keep banks in line.
The solution was obvious: Vote for a new order to expand the powers ofgovernment to rein in the dangerous excesses of capitalism.
It was a convincing story. For a lot of panicky Americans, the prospect of apaternalistic government rescuing the nation from crisis seemed appealing asstock markets and home prices spiraled downward. According to this narrative,government was at fault in just one way: It wasn't big enough. If only there hadbeen more regulators watching the banks more closely, the case went, the economywouldn't have collapsed.
Yet in truth, it was government housing policy that was at the root of thecrisis. Moreover, the financial sector -- where the crisis began and where ithas had the most serious impact -- is already one of the most regulated parts ofour economy. The chaos happened despite an extensive, intrusive regulatoryframework, not because such a framework didn't exist.
More government -- including a super-empowered Federal Reserve, a consumerprotection watchdog and greater state powers to wind down financial firms andpolice market risks -- does not mean we will be safe. On the contrary, suchchanges would give us a false sense of security, especially when Washington, aprimary culprit in the crisis, is creating and implementing the new rules.
The statist narrative also held that only massive deficit spending couldrestore economic growth. "If nothing is done, this recession could linger foryears," Obama warned a few days before taking office. "Only government canprovide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep andsevere. Only government can break the cycle that is crippling our economy."
This proposition is as expensive as it is false. Recessions can and do endwithout the kind of stimulus we experienced, and attempts to shore up theeconomy with huge public spending often do little to improve matters and insteadchain future generations with debt. In fact, all the evidence so far tells usthat the current $787 billion stimulus package has overpromised andunderdelivered, especially when it comes to creating jobs.
If we reject the administration's narrative, the 70-30 nation will remainstrong. If we accept it, and base our nation's policies on it, we will be wellon our way to a European-style social democracy. Punitive taxes and regulationswill make it harder to be an entrepreneur, and the rewards of success will beexpropriated for the sake of greater income equality.
The new statism in America, made possible by years of drift and acceleratedby the panic over the economic crisis, threatens to make us permanently poorer.But that is not the greatest danger. The real risk is that in the new culturewar, we will forsake the third unalienable right set out in our Declaration ofIndependence: the pursuit of happiness.
Free enterprise brings happiness; redistribution does not. The reason is thatonly free enterprise brings earned success.
Earned success involves the ability to create value honestly -- not byinheriting a fortune, not by picking up a welfare check. It doesn't mean makingmoney in and of itself. Earned success is the creation of value in our lives orin the lives of others. Earned success is the stuff of entrepreneurs who seekvalue through innovation, hard work and passion. Earned success is what parentsfeel when their children do wonderful things, what social innovators feel whenthey change lives, what artists feel when they create something of beauty.
Money is not the same as earned success but is rather a symbol, important notfor what it can buy but for what it says about how people are contributing andwhat kind of difference they are making. Money corresponds to happiness onlythrough earned success.
Not surprisingly, unearned money -- while it may help alleviate suffering --carries with it no personal satisfaction. Studies of lottery winners, forinstance, show that after a brief period of increased happiness, their moodsdarken as they no longer derive the same enjoyment from the simple pleasures inlife, and as the glow of buying things wears off.
The same results emerge with other kinds of unearned income -- welfarepayments, for example. According to the University of Michigan's 2001 PanelStudy of Income Dynamics, going on the welfare rolls increases by 16 percent thelikelihood of a person saying that she or he has felt inconsolably sad over thepast month. Of course, the misery of welfare recipients probably goes wellbeyond the check itself. Nonetheless, studies show that recipients are farunhappier than equally poor people who do not receive such government benefits.
Benjamin Franklin (a pretty rich man for his time) grasped the truth aboutmoney's inability by itself to deliver satisfaction. "Money never made a manhappy yet, nor will it," he declared. "The more a man has, the more he wants.Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one."
If unearned money does not bring happiness, redistributing money by forcewon't make for a happier America -- and the redistributionists' theory of abetter society through income equality falls apart.
The goal of our system should be to give all Americans the greatestopportunities possible to succeed based on their work and merit. And that'sexactly what the free enterprise system does: It makes earned success possiblefor the most people. This is the liberty that enables the true pursuit ofhappiness.
To win the culture war, those of us in the 70 percent majority must reclaim-- and proclaim -- the morality of our worldview.
Unfortunately, we often fail to do this. Instead, we sound unabashedlymaterialistic. We talk about growth rates, inflation and investment, while the30 percent coalition walks off with the claims to happiness and fairness.(According to Obama, for example, we need to restore "fairness" to our tax codeby increasing taxes on the wealthy and exempting more people at the bottom frompaying anything.)
The irony is that it is the 30 percent coalition, not the 70 percentmajority, that is fundamentally materialistic. What do they consider thegreatest problem of poor people in America? Insufficient income. What would beevidence of a fairer society? Greater income equality. For the leaders of the 30percent coalition, money does buy happiness -- as long as it is spread evenly.That is why redistribution of income is a fundamental goal and why freeenterprise, which rewards some people and penalizes others, cannot be trusted.
The 70 percent majority, meanwhile, believes that ingenuity and hard workshould be rewarded. We admire creative entrepreneurs and disdain rule-makingbureaucrats. We know that income inequality by itself is not what makes peopleunhappy, and that only earned success can make them happy.
We must do more to show that while we use the language of commerce andbusiness, we believe in human flourishing and contentment. We must articulatemoral principles that set forth our fundamental values, and we must be preparedto defend them.
This defense is already underway, in a disorganized, grass-roots, Americankind of way. Protests against the new statism have flared around the nation formore than a year. And while some have tried to dismiss the "tea party"demonstrations and the town hall protests of last summer as the work ofextremists, ignorant backwoodsmen or agents of the health-care industry, thesemovements reveal much about the culture war that is underway.
Just compare the protests in America with those in Europe. Here, we see teapartiers demonstrating against the government's encroachment on the freeenterprise system and protesting the fact that the state is spending too muchmoney bailing out too many people. Why are people protesting in Greece? Because they want the government to givethem even more. They are angry because their government -- in the face of itsworst economic and perhaps existential crisis in decades -- won't pay the lavishpensions to which they feel entitled. There's no better example of the culturaldifference between America and Europe today, yet it is toward European-stylesocial democracy that the 30 percent coalition wants to move us.
Fortunately, it is hard to dismiss the voice of the voters in some of ourmost recent electoral contests. Scott Brown won the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat from Massachusetts inJanuary by declaring himself not an apparatchik Republican but a moralenthusiast for markets. "What made America great?" he asked. "Free markets, freeenterprise, manufacturing, job creation. That's how we're gonna do it, not byenlarging government." His cultural pitch for free enterprise hit just the rightchord, even in liberal Massachusetts. It struck at the heart of the 30 percentcoalition's agenda for America.
Brown's victory -- and Rand Paul's triumph in Kentucky's Republican Senate primary lastweek, for that matter -- are but warning shots in the burgeoning culture war.The most intense battles are still ahead.
To win, the 70 percent majority must come together around core principles:that the purpose of free enterprise is human flourishing, not materialism; thatwe stand for equality of opportunity, not equality of income; that we seek tostimulate true prosperity rather than simply treat poverty; and that we believein principle over power.
This final idea is particularly challenging. In Washington, a lot of peoplethink they know how to win. They say what is needed are telegenic candidates,dirty tricks and lots of campaign money. To them, thinking long-term meansthinking all the way to 2012. In other words, they talk only of tactics, partiesand power.
They are wrong. What matters most to Americans is the commitment toprinciple, not the exercise of power. The electorate did not repudiate freeenterprise in 2008; it simply punished an unprincipled Republican Party.
But political turmoil can lead to renewal, and the challenges of this newculture war can help us mobilize and reassert our principles. The 2008 electionwas perhaps exactly what America needed. Today there is a very real threat thatthe 30 percent coalition may transform our great nation forever. I hope thisthreat will clear our thinking enough to bring forth leaders -- regardless ofpolitical party -- with our principles at heart and the ideas to match. If freeenterprise triumphs over the quest for political power, America will be thestronger for it."
Arthur C. Brooks is the president of the American Enterprise Instituteand author ......"
I very much take issue with this protest that it was police escorted and done on private property. Something is very wrong with this ..... the Justice Dept should be all over it.
"No more police escorts for union thugs
May 24, 2010
|It is standard procedure across the nation when officers from one jurisdiction cross into another to provide advance warning, but that was not done in the case of Bank of America Deputy General Counsel Greg Baer. (Photos.com)|
"Imagine you are sitting at home on a peaceful Sunday when you hear buses pull up in front of your house and begin disgorging hundreds of angry people waving signs with threatening messages, shaking their fists and crowding onto your lawn. Soon, hundreds of screaming people are tromping on your flower beds, peering into your windows, and scaring neighbors who nervously begin placing calls to 911.
As the noise levels rise and demonstrators start banging on your front door, you begin to fear that something very bad is about to happen. Then you spot the police cars, and relief floods over you. "At least the cops will keep things under control," you tell yourself. But your relief is shattered when you realize the cops you thought were there to protect you are actually from another jurisdiction and they are there because they escorted the mob to your address.
Sound like a fantasy, something that could never happen here? Guess again, because that exact scenario played out last week in Bethesda. The demonstrators were from the Service Employees International Union, the target of their anger was the home of Bank of America Deputy General Counsel Greg Baer, and the cops escorting the SEIU-ers were from the Metropolitan District of Columbia Police Department, which, like departments across the country, is represented by the Fraternal Order of Police union.
Although it is standard procedure across the nation when officers from one jurisdiction cross into another to provide advance warning, that was not done in this case. The only person inside the Baer home when the demonstrators and D.C. cops arrived was one of Baer's young sons, who locked himself in the bathroom until his father arrived to rescue him after bravely forcing his way through the crowd. Eventually, the Montgomery County police appeared on the scene, and the demonstrators later departed.
There are multiple lessons to be gleaned from this highly disturbing situation. Such tactics are standard fare for SEIU, whose leaders think it's just fine to target the private homes and families of people associated with whatever company the union has decided to demonize. These assaults are clearly meant to shock and intimidate. Congress long ago banned secondary boycotts from union tactics. It's time to put a stop to all such assaults on private homes and families. And the conduct of the D.C. police highlights another critical question -- should law enforcement officers be pawns of union bosses? Collective bargaining should no longer have a place among those sworn to protect and serve the public."
"The gathering revolt against government spending
By: Michael Barone
Senior Political Analyst
May 23, 2010
Source WashingtonExaminer.com"This month three members of Congress have been beaten in their bids for re-election -- a Republican senator from Utah, a Democratic congressman from West Virginia and a Republican-turned-Democrat senator from Pennsylvania. Their records and their curricula vitae are different. But they all have one thing in common: They are members of an Appropriations Committee.
Like most appropriators, they have based much of their careers on bringing money to their states and districts. There is an old saying on Capitol Hill that there are three parties -- Democrats, Republicans and appropriators. One reason that it has been hard to hold down government spending is that appropriators of both parties have an institutional and political interest in spending.
Their defeats are an indication that spending is not popular this year. So is the decision, shocking to many Democrats, of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey to retire after a career of 41 years. Obey maintains that the vigorous campaign of a young Republican in his district didn't prompt his decision. But his retirement is evidence that, suddenly this year, pork is not kosher.
It has long been a maxim of political scientists that American voters are ideologically conservative and operationally liberal. That is another way of saying that they tend to oppose government spending in the abstract but tend to favor spending on particular programs. It's another explanation of why the culture of appropriators continued to thrive after the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 and during the eight years of George W. Bush's presidency.
In the past rebellions against fiscal policy have concentrated on taxes rather than spending. In the 1970s, when inflation was pushing voters into higher tax brackets, tax revolts broke out in California and spread east. Ronald Reagan's tax cuts were popular, but spending cuts did not follow. Bill Clinton's tax increases led to the Republican takeover and to tax cuts at both the federal and state levels but spending boomed under George W. Bush.
The rebellion against the fiscal policies of the Obama Democrats, in contrast, is concentrated on spending. The Tea Party movement began with Rick Santelli's rant in February 2009, long before the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts in January 2011.
What we are seeing is a spontaneous rush of previously inactive citizens into political activity, a movement symbolized but not limited to the Tea Party movement, in response to the vast increases in federal spending that began with the Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation in fall 2008 and accelerated with the Obama Democrats' stimulus package, budget and health care bills.
The Tea Party folk are focusing on something real. Federal spending is rising from about 21 percent to about 25 percent of gross domestic product -- a huge increase in historic terms -- and the national debt is on a trajectory to double as a percentage of GDP within a decade. That is a bigger increase than anything since World War II.
Now the political scientists' maxim seems out of date. The Democrat who won the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District special election opposed the Democrats' health care law and cap-and-trade bills. The Tea Party-loving Republican who won the Senate nomination in Kentucky jumped out to a big lead. The defeat of the three appropriators, who among them have served 76 years in Congress (and whose fathers served another 42), is the canary that stopped singing in the coal mine.
Will Republicans come forward with a bold plan to roll back government spending? The natural instinct of politicians is to avoid anything bold. The British Conservatives faced this question before the election this month. When Britain was prosperous they promised no cuts at all. When recession hit, they were skittish about proposing cuts and mostly unspecific when they did.
That may have been why they fell short on May 6 of the absolute majority they expected. Now they're in a coalition with the third-party Liberal Democrats, who proposed more cuts, and the cuts they've announced have been widely popular. Boldness seems to work where skittishness did not.
Unlike the Conservatives, Republicans have no elected party leader. But House Republicans like Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Peter Roskam are setting up web sites to solicit voters' proposals for spending cuts, while Paul Ryan has set out a long-term road map toward fiscal probity. Worthy first steps. I think voters are demanding a specific plan to roll back Democrats' spending. Republicans need to supply it."
Michael Barone, The Examiner's senior political analyst,........"
May 22, 2010 6:00 A.M.
"One of Those Moments
Source National Review
"The president has become the latest Western liberal to try to hammer Daniel Pearl’s box into a round hole.
Barack Obama’s remarkable powers of oratory are well known: In support of Chicago’s Olympic bid, he flew into Copenhagen to give a heartwarming speech about himself, and they gave the games to Rio. He flew into Boston to support Martha Coakley’s bid for the U.S. Senate, and Massachusetts voters gave Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican. In the first year of his presidency, he gave a gazillion speeches on health-care “reform” and drove support for his proposals to basement level, leaving Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to ram it down the throats of the American people through sheer parliamentary muscle.
Like a lot of guys who’ve been told they’re brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy, and doesn’t always choose his words with care. And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl, upon signing the “Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act.”
Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002. That’s how I’d put it.
This is what the president of the United States said: “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.”
Now Obama’s off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he’s talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased’s family is standing all around him. And, even for a busy president, it’s the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving, and true. Indeed, for Obama, it’s the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.
Instead, he delivered the one above. Which, in its clumsiness and insipidness, is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: “The loss of Daniel Pearl.” He wasn’t “lost.” He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his “loss” merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.
Even if Americans don’t get the message, the rest of the world does. This week’s pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.
But what did the “loss” of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was “one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination.” Really? Evidently it never captured Obama’s imagination, because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl’s fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: “one of those moments” — you know, like Princess Di’s wedding, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, whatever — “that captured the world’s imagination.”
Notice how reflexively Obama lapses into sentimental one-worldism: Despite our many zip codes, we are one people, with a single imagination. In fact, the murder of Daniel Pearl teaches just the opposite — that we are many worlds, and worlds within worlds. Some of them don’t even need an “imagination.” Across the planet, the video of an American getting his head sawed off did brisk business in the bazaars and madrassas and Internet downloads. Excited young men e-mailed it to friends, from cell phone to cell phone, from Karachi to Jakarta to Khartoum to London to Toronto to Falls Church, Va. In the old days, you needed an “imagination” to conjure the juicy bits of a distant victory over the Great Satan. But in an age of high-tech barbarism, the sight of Pearl’s severed head is a mere click away.
And the rest of “the world”? Most gave a shrug of indifference. And far too many found the reality of Pearl’s death too uncomfortable and chose to take refuge in the same kind of delusional pap as Obama. The president is only the latest Western liberal to try to hammer Daniel Pearl’s box into a round hole. Before him, it was Michael Winterbottom in his film A Mighty Heart: As Pearl’s longtime colleague Asra Nomani wrote, “Danny himself had been cut from his own story.” Or, as Paramount’s promotional department put it, “Nominate the most inspiring ordinary hero. Win a trip to the Bahamas!” Where you’re highly unlikely to be kidnapped and beheaded! (Although, in the event that you are, please check the liability-waiver box at the foot of the entry form.)
The latest appropriation is that his “loss” “reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” It was nothing to do with “freedom of the press.” By the standards of the Muslim world, Pakistan has a free-ish and very lively press. The problem is that some 80 percent of its people wish to live under the most extreme form of Sharia, and many of its youth are exported around the world in advance of that aim. The man convicted of Pearl’s murder was Omar Sheikh, a British subject, a London School of Economics student, and, like many jihadists from Osama to the Pantybomber, a monument to the peculiar burdens of a non-deprived childhood in the Muslim world. The man who actually did the deed was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed in March 2007: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi.” But Obama’s not the kind to take “guilty” for an answer, so he’s arranging a hugely expensive trial for KSM amid the bright lights of Broadway.
Listen to his killer’s words: “The American Jew Daniel Pearl.” We hit the jackpot! And then we cut his head off. Before the body was found, The Independent’s Robert Fisk offered a familiar argument to Pearl’s kidnappers: Killing him would be “a major blunder . . . the best way of ensuring that the suffering” — of Kashmiris, Afghans, Palestinians — “goes unrecorded.” Other journalists peddled a similar line: If you release Danny, he’ll be able to tell your story, get your message out, “bridge the misconceptions.” But the story did get out; the severed head is the message; the only misconception is that that’s a misconception.
Daniel Pearl was the prototype for a new kind of terror. In his wake came other victims from Kenneth Bigley, whose last words were that “Tony Blair has not done enough for me,” to Fabrizzio Quattrocchi, who yanked off his hood, yelled “I will show you how an Italian dies!” and ruined the movie for his jihadist videographers. By that time, both men understood what it meant to be in a windowless room with a camera and a man holding a scimitar. But Daniel Pearl was the first, and in his calm, coherent final words understood why he was there:
“My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, U.S.A.”
He didn’t have a prompter. But he spoke the truth. That’s all President Obama owed him — to do the same.
I mentioned last week the attorney general’s peculiar insistence that “radical Islam” was nothing to do with the Times Square bomber, the Pantybomber, the Fort Hood killer. Just a lot of moments “capturing the world’s imagination.” For now, the jihadists seem to have ceased cutting our heads off. Listening to Obama and Eric Holder, perhaps they’ve figured out there’s nothing much up there anyway."
Background on our almighty 'Financial Reform' which spells business as usual for banksters.
Friday, May 21. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Editorial at 09:11
"So We Now Have "Financial Reform"?
Very strongly worded excellent read.
Thursday, May 20. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Editorial at 09:04
Source The Market Ticker
"The Roof Is On Fire
"The Euro Zone is in serious trouble, and Britain and we are next.
The game's up folks.
Many people talk about us "printing" money. Indeed, there's a large brokerage that runs advertisements on CNBS with that exact claim, over and over and over. Ron Paul and Peter Schiff have run this mantra for years.
This chart says something else entirely:
THERE HAS BEEN NO PRINTING GOING ON!
No, what's been happening is worse.
Worldwide governments have borrowed and spent huge percentages of their GDP in a puerile attempt to protect a criminal class that has looted the public and bribed the legislature - THE BANKS.
There was always a point where this would fail, but it is flatly impossible for anyone to know exactly where it was beforehand.
But mathematically, there was a point where it would fail.
The gamble that Bernanke, Trichet, Obama, Bush, Paulson, Geithner and everyone else in the world took is that we could do this for a short period of time and that in doing so private demand would pick up and return us to "stability."
THESE PEOPLE DID NOT STUDY THE ABOVE CHART, AND THEY'RE F^#KING IDIOTS FOR BELIEVING THAT WHICH WAS TRIED IN 2003-2007, WITH A HIGHER DEBT LOAD THAN WE HAD THEN, WOULD WORK NOW WHEN IT FAILED IN 2003.
O'Neill was on Bloomberg the other day. He was Bush's Treasury Secretary during part of his first term, until he resigned under pressure from the administration. Why did he resign in 2002?
BECAUSE HE KNEW THAT WHAT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS DOING WOULD NOT WORK.
A study he ran in 2002 showed that the United States would be running budget deficits of more than $500 billion going forward, and that to fix it we would have to enact an across-the-board tax increase of more than 60% or radically cut entitlement spending.
We did neither, of course, and Bush pushed through a huge entitlement increase in an attempt to appease Democrats. It did, but it also created a structural $500 billion budget deficit that we couldn't get rid of.
The remaining years of the "boom" from 2003-2007 were all fueled by fraud. Unable to generate positive GDP through organic growth and productivity we instead imported 20 million illegal Mexicans (who our current President refuses to send home and seal the border against, even though Calderon, who wants us to legalize them all, arrests and deports more illegal immigrants a year from Mexico than we catch!) and blew a huge housing bubble, giving anyone with a pulse a loan to buy a house irrespective of their ability to pay.
These weren't even mortgages - they were virtually all balloon notes that were never intended to be paid, but instead designed and intended to force the "buyer" to come back in 2 or 3 years and refinance, so the banks could skim off yet another set of fees for themselves and steal any equity that the hapless owner had accumulated. If there was excess "equity" the banks graciously let you have some of it during that refinance to buy a boat (with equity that didn't really exist, but for which you'd be obligated in the future.)
Three years ago I said we couldn't get away with the intervention. Those who have been reading The Ticker since the beginning know that I have written several open letters, have faxed tens of thousands of pages to Congress, and have offered to get in a car or on a plane and come testify - under oath - as to the mathematical certainty of what we face and what we must do.
You also know that nobody wants to hear it and no such invitation has been forthcoming, that I was basically laughed off CNBS and that the "rah rah" crowd all got millions of Americans to pile back into the stock market.
Folks, it's quite simple. Accumulation of debt is inflationary. It pulls forward demand from tomorrow. Look at house prices from 2003-2007 for your best and finest example - they quadrupled in some areas and doubled in many more. 20%+ "appreciation" annually was common.
But when you take on debt to buy something you're buying today what you would otherwise consume tomorrow. This is the Wimpy action: "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
But when Tuesday comes, you've already eaten the hamburger, you're hungry again, and if you pay the hamburger stand owner you now have no money with which to buy another hamburger.
When debt loads rise to the point that you can no longer buy both today's hamburger and pay for the one you ate last week the impact is deflationary, because today's demand, having been pulled forward from yesterday, can no longer be sustained. Without demand sales collapse and without sales there is no profit - and no employment.
Keynesian economic thought is fundamentally bankrupt, as it requires that treasuries be rebuilt during flush times so you can spend the money during bad times. Keynesian economics does not include, and never did, borrowing to spend. That's a corruption of Keynes beliefs but it is where attempting to apply Keynes economic "theories" to the real world always ends up, as government will always find a place to blow a surplus, thereby guaranteeing there won't be one to spend when the bad times come.
As such the best we can do is allow business cycle downturns to work themselves out. Yes, this process will suck. Yes, people will lose their jobs. Yes, people will go bankrupt. But we must never, ever backstop businesses - including banks. We can (and should) backstop depositors (people) through a self-funded insurance fund (which is what the FDIC is supposed to be, and would be if run correctly) but even there we can't make people 100% whole, as it drives them to "reach for yield" and thus chase insolvent institutions. Changing the FDIC to pay 80% of insured deposits (instead of 100%) would be sufficient to both prevent people from being bankrupted but also stop the "chase for yield" that winds up supporting those who have already gone bust.
I remain willing and able to get on that plane or in that car and come testify before any body of Congress, under oath, or lay it all out on any form of broadcast media.
But Congress doesn't want to hear it, and "Tout TV" sure as hell doesn't want to broadcast it - especially not the above chart and what it means, even though that, properly explained, makes everything crystal-clear - and irrefutably so.
It sucks to have to say "See, I told you so!", because we had an opportunity to flush these banksters down the toilet in 2007 and 2008, and failed to take it. Yes, we would have had to recognize the Depression we are in right now, but by now it would be over and employment would be truly recovering. We would have been forced to put in place something like The Fair Tax to keep our government from imploding and that would have brought 70% or more of all the multinational corporations to our shores over the intervening couple of years, stabilizing our economy. We would have broken the back of the bankster cartel, jailed a bunch of 'em and made <snip> sure it could not happen again by re-imposing Glass-Steagall. Those who were not jailed would have fled to other nations, waving their fingers at us at how "those countries" would be better off. Then they would have flushed in their excessive debt loads while we, in America, would have taken our medicine already.
Yes, all this would have been at the rest of the world's expense - that's what happens when you do it right and everyone else does it wrong.
But we didn't choose to do that. We still can do the right thing, by the way, but now the damage is greater, because you can't unbreak an egg. The $3 trillion+ that we borrowed and spent is gone.
Our options remain as they were in 2007. We can take our medicine and accept the damage that has already been done yet papered over and shoveled under the carpet or we can continue to lie and pray that we don't end up like Greece.
But prayer doesn't work when you're asking God to intervene against a mathematical reality that you created by your own hand, and thus what's coming - and you're asking for the divine to stop - is something you deserve."
Son found this ad which I'm presuming is real. It's a guy thing.
FROZEN BEAVER (Gainesville)
"Arizona Digs In
May 21, 2010 Posted by John at 7:55 AM
"Repeated attacks on the citizens of Arizona by President Obama and many others have done nothing to dim Arizona's support for immigration law enforcement. On the contrary: a remarkable 71 percent of Arizona voters now support that state's new immigration law, up from 64 percent last month. And Governor Jan Brewer has jumped out to a 13-point lead over her likely Democratic opponent, which means that she is doing far better with the electorate than--to take just one example--Barack Obama. That's not surprising; voters like executives who actually support and defend the people who elected them."
Most disagreements and political posturing come down to money. Looks like Neal nailed another one!
"WHY DOES THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT DISLIKE THE ARIZONA LAW?By Neal Boortz
Nealz Nuze on boortz.com
@ May 21, 2010 8:58 AM
"Remember first that Mexico has even harsher laws dealing with illegal aliens than we do. Yes, Mexico does have a problem with illegals. Not heading south from the United States, but heading North out of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and other Central American countries. If these people are caught in Mexico illegally it's pretty much straight to jail ... and nobody screams about racial profiling.
But there is something flowing South into Mexico from the United States. Dollars. About one billion dollars every month, to be more precise. These dollars are being sent home to Mexico by illegals working in this country ... sent home to support families. This is the second biggest single source of income for the Mexican economy. Calderon is in trouble .. he's fighting a drug war and his economy isn't exactly on a roll. If America enforces it's immigration laws with anything close to the determination with which Mexico enforces theirs ... the money would dry up and Mexico would be in deep salsa."
"Saudi woman beats up virtue copBy BENJAMIN JOFFE-WALT / THE MEDIA LINE
"THINGS COULD GET EVEN UGLIERBy Neal Boortz
Source [email protected] May 21, 2010 9:03 AM Permalink
"Does the name Russell Pearce sound familiar to you? It should. That is the name of the Arizona state senator who wrote Arizona's immigration enforcement law, SB 1070. As you can imagine, Pearce has been getting his share of hate mail .. I can relate. But in his response to citizens, Pearce has revealed that his immigration law-writing days aren't over just yet. He intends to push for another bill that would enable Arizona to no longer grant automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants who are born on US soil. In an email to a constituent, he says, "I also intend to push for an Arizona bill that would refuse to accept or issue a birth certificate that recognizes citizenship to those born to illegal aliens, unless one parent is a citizen."
Pearce argues that his idea is legal, constitutional and common sense. He says, "You can't break into someone's country and then expect to be rewarded for that. You can't do it."
This absolutely the right step. They're called "anchor babies" because they're seen as anchoring the illegal parent in this country. As I understand it America may well be the only country .. or one of few .. that automatically confers citizenship upon children born to parents in this country to illegal. "
"The fruits of weakness
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 21, 2010
Source The Washington Post
"It is perfectly obvious that Iran's latest uranium maneuver, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, is a ruse. Iran retains more than enough enriched uranium to make a bomb. And it continues enriching at an accelerated pace and to a greater purity (20 percent). Which is why the French foreign ministry immediately declared that the trumpeted temporary shipping of some Iranian uranium to Turkey will do nothing to halt Iran's nuclear program.
It will, however, make meaningful sanctions more difficult. America's proposed Security Council resolution is already laughably weak -- no blacklisting of Iran's central bank, no sanctions against Iran's oil and gas industry, no nonconsensual inspections on the high seas. Yet Turkey and Brazil -- both current members of the Security Council -- are so opposed to sanctions that they will not even discuss the resolution. And China will now have a new excuse to weaken it further.
But the deeper meaning of the uranium-export stunt is the brazenness with which Brazil and Turkey gave cover to the mullahs' nuclear ambitions and deliberately undermined U.S. efforts to curb Iran's program.
The real news is that already notorious photo: the president of Brazil, our largest ally in Latin America, and the prime minister of Turkey, for more than half a century the Muslim anchor of NATO, raising hands together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the most virulently anti-American leader in the world.
That picture -- a defiant, triumphant take-that-Uncle-Sam -- is a crushing verdict on the Obama foreign policy. It demonstrates how rising powers, traditional American allies, having watched this administration in action, have decided that there's no cost in lining up with America's enemies and no profit in lining up with a U.S. president given to apologies and appeasement.
They've watched President Obama's humiliating attempts to appease Iran, as every rejected overture is met with abjectly renewed U.S. negotiating offers. American acquiescence reached such a point that the president was late, hesitant and flaccid in expressing even rhetorical support for democracy demonstrators who were being brutally suppressed and whose call for regime change offered the potential for the most significant U.S. strategic advance in the region in 30 years.
They've watched America acquiesce to Russia's re-exerting sway over Eastern Europe, over Ukraine (pressured by Russia last month into extending for 25 years its lease of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol) and over Georgia (Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is no longer an issue under the Obama "reset" policy).
They've watched our appeasement of Syria, Iran's agent in the Arab Levant -- sending our ambassador back to Syria even as it tightens its grip on Lebanon, supplies Hezbollah with Scuds and intensifies its role as the pivot of the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. The price for this ostentatious flouting of the United States and its interests? Ever more eager U.S. "engagement."
They've observed the administration's gratuitous slap at Britain over the Falklands, its contemptuous treatment of Israel, its undercutting of the Czech Republic and Poland, and its indifference to Lebanon and Georgia. And in Latin America, they see not just U.S. passivity as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez organizes his anti-American "Bolivarian" coalition while deepening military and commercial ties with Iran and Russia. They saw active U.S. support in Honduras for a pro-Chávez would-be dictator seeking unconstitutional powers in defiance of the democratic institutions of that country.
This is not just an America in decline. This is an America in retreat -- accepting, ratifying and declaring its decline, and inviting rising powers to fill the vacuum.
Nor is this retreat by inadvertence. This is retreat by design and, indeed, on principle. It's the perfect fulfillment of Obama's adopted Third World narrative of American misdeeds, disrespect and domination from which he has come to redeem us and the world. Hence his foundational declaration at the U.N. General Assembly last September that "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation" (guess who's been the dominant nation for the last two decades?) and his dismissal of any "world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another." (NATO? The West?)
Given Obama's policies and principles, Turkey and Brazil are acting rationally. Why not give cover to Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions? As the United States retreats in the face of Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, why not hedge your bets? There's nothing to fear from Obama, and everything to gain by ingratiating yourself with America's rising adversaries. After all, they actually believe in helping one's friends and punishing one's enemies."
"Oklahoma Attorney General Nominee Vows to Sue U.S. Over Illegal Immigration
"Former state Sen. Scott Pruitt -- a candidate for Oklahoma attorney general -- plans to announce on Thursday that, if elected, he will sue the federal government for all expenses his state incurs as a result of illegal immigration, Fox News has learned. ..............."
"COMPLICATING THE CHALLENGES OF THE ARIZONA LAW
But this little goodie could complicate things. A 2002 legal memo has emerged that could complicate things for Obama, Eric Holder and the rest of his staff who haven't bothered to read Arizona's bill.
The document, written in 2002 by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, concluded that state police officers have "inherent power" to arrest undocumented immigrants for violating federal law. It was issued by Jay S. Bybee, who also helped write controversial memos from the same era that sanctioned harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects.
The author of the Arizona law -- which has drawn strong opposition from top Obama administration officials -- has cited the authority granted in the 2002 memo as a basis for the legislation. The Obama administration has not withdrawn the memo, and some backers of the Arizona law said Monday that because it remains in place, a Justice Department lawsuit against Arizona would be awkward at best.
"The Justice Department's official position as of now is that local law enforcement has the inherent authority to enforce federal immigration law,"said Robert Driscoll, a former Justice Department Civil Rights Division official in theGeorge W. Bush administration who represents an Arizona sheriff known for aggressive immigration enforcement. "How can you blame someone for exercising authority that the department says they have?"
Gotta love it."
"New Jersey Teachers Union Forced to Take Back Seat to Kids
"When New Jersey teachers union members refused to make room for students in a legislative committee hearing, the chairman took the meeting to the students.
Approximately 1,500 New Jersey schoolchildren and school choice supporters witnessed democracy in action on Thursday, May 13, when they attended a rally at the state capitol to support a private school choice bill under debate in the state Senate. The rally was set to support S1872, legislation that would establish a five-year scholarship tax credit pilot program for students in failing schools, which was heard by the Senate Economic Growth Committee that day.
When State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union), chairman of the committee and longtime supporter of school choice, prepared to call the committee to order, he noted that all of the seats had been taken by New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) members.
The chairman requested that half of the seats be made available for the children who supported the school choice bill. The union members refused to offer the children any seats.
So, the senators’ desks were moved, and Chairman Lesniak took the committee hearing outside:
“The NJEA and their supporters packed the room. I asked them to allow for fifty percent of supporters of the legislation in the room or else I was going to have them take the meeting outside so that everybody can see it. They refused to leave the room, so we’re going to have the committee meeting right here. Outside.”
In the end, the committee agreed that if they could meet outside of the government-assigned committee room – and instead outside, in the light of sunshine and in the view of taxpayers – students in failing schools should have the same flexibility to find a better venue that meets their needs.
The committee unanimously passed the legislation.
If enacted, the pilot program could fund up to $24 million in scholarships for up to 4,000 children the first year. After five years, up to 20,000 children would receive $120 million in scholarships. Scholarship funds would come from corporate contributions, for which the corporations would receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. The full Senate must approve the measure before it advances to the state Assembly.
Meanwhile, the NJEA refuses to accept any responsibility for the looming budget gaps at both the state and district levels. Only 30 school districts have accepted any form of a pay freeze for employees, and as the Star-Ledger Editorial Board recently used the situation in Fairfield, New Jersey, to illustrate the statewide mess:
“A pay freeze in Fairfield would comprise 77 percent of the needed $140,000 in cuts. But teachers there, and throughout the state, have thumbed their noses at taxpayers — the same taxpayers who have made teachers among the highest-paid in the nation, with an average salary of $63,154, a pension and, until recently, free health care benefits. So taxes will go up, programs will be eliminated and teachers will lose jobs. Hamilton will fire 75 teachers, and the union won’t even allow its membership to vote on a pay freeze that would save many of those jobs.”
The rest of New Jersey legislators should take note. The NJEA does not want to be a part of the solution. They are the core of the problem.Hundreds rally in support of school voucher bill"
Language warning, but points exceptionally well made.
We need to elect a new congress with ethics sufficient to follow Germany's lead. According to this article the German government didn't grovel before banksters as we've witnessed over and over in the US ........ they simply acted.
Tuesday, May 18. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in International at 15:13
"The German Government Has Had Enough
"Critics weigh Blumenthal's words
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published: 11:29 p.m., Tuesday, May 18, 2010
"I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back & to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support."
The occasion was the Stamford Veterans Days parade: Nov. 9, 2008.
The speaker was Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, as quoted by The Advocate.
A trove of potential bulletin board material was unearthed Tuesday by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers from its archives quoting the once seemingly unflappable U.S. Senate candidate on his military record, one that he has been accused of embellishing.
During a May 18, 2009, military board tribute to veterans in Shelton, Blumenthal was quoted by the Connecticut Post as saying, "When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered."
A year later at a Stratford Memorial Day event covered by the Post, Blumenthal dropped the "we" reference but didn't go out of his way to say that he never went to Vietnam.
"I am called general all the time in my role, but the highest rank I will ever have in life is as a sergeant in the United States Marines," said Blumenthal, who went on to comment how tough it was for veterans of the unpopular conflict to return to "taunts and jeers."
Blumenthal's critics claim that the Democrat's veiled references to serving in Vietnam, which the candidate himself qualified as rare and unintentional misstatements but now number at least five, establish a pattern of duplicity that calls his credibility into question.
"At one point I wanted to go up to him a couple of years ago and say, 'Hey Dick, you're giving the impression you were on the battlefield," said former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., "I thought that might come back to bite him." ....................."
Came in email, astounding info. No wonder identity theft is so widespread.
Tuesday, May 18. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Corruption at 10:57
Source The Market Ticker
"ALL The Banks Ripped Off Taxpayers?
West Virginia was just one stop in a nationwide conspiracy in which financial advisers to municipalities colluded with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Wachovia Corp. and 11 other banks.
They rigged bids on auctions for so-called guaranteed investment contracts, known as GICs, according to a Justice Department list that was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on March 24 and then put under seal. Those contracts hold tens of billions of taxpayer money.
That would be pretty much all the big ones.
Oh, they intend to indict everyone but the banks:
“The whole investment process was rigged across the board,” said Charlie Anderson, who retired in 2007 as head of field operations for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt bond division. “It was so commonplace that people talked about it on the phones of their employers and ignored the fact that they were being recorded.”
Anderson said he referred scores of cases to the Justice Department when he was with the IRS. He estimates that bid rigging cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Anderson said prosecutors are lining up conspirators to plead guilty and name names.
So you'd think the banks would be under indictment, right? Uh, no:
In exchange, the government promised in an amnesty agreement not to prosecute the bank. Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton in San Francisco said in an e-mail the firm is continuing to cooperate.
While it's good that they're chasing the individuals involved it's an outrage that the banks themselves are not being prosecuted. It is alleged that they kept the stolen money and used some of it to pay the bribes!
The so-called yield burning drove down the returns that local governments earned and trimmed required payments to the IRS. The firms neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.
Even as the banks were settling with regulators, they devised another way to burn yield, this time by skimming money from GICs, according to the indictment, which said the conspiracy went from 1998 to at least 2006.
How do you spell RACKETEERING?"
Referring back to Todd's post linked below, Powelineblog has the text of a letter from Senators Kyl and McCain to Posner, plus a few choice comments of their own.
"Apologizing For ArizonaSource Powerlineblog.com
This is unfreakingbelievable, even for the Obama administration:
The United States and China reported no major breakthroughs Friday after only their second round of talks about human rights since 2002.
The Obama administration wants to push Beijing to treat its citizens better, but it also needs Chinese support on Iranian and North Korean nuclear standoffs, climate change and other difficult issues. ...
[Assistant Secretary of State Michael] Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.
He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its [sic] own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person's immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.
What an idiot! China murdered millions of its citizens who opposed the government's Communist policies and allows most of its people little or no freedom. We, on the other hand, enforce our immigration laws. No, wait--actually we don't. That's why Arizona had to take a shot at it. Oh, by the way, Michael Posner, you clueless moron--China actually does enforce its immigration laws.
These dopes are actually proud of themselves for being morally and historically ignorant:
Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to China who was in Washington, told reporters earlier Friday that the rights talks are a useful way to get results on tough issues.
"We're talking about issues that are uncomfortable, quite frankly, but it is a sign of maturity that we can talk about specific cases," Huntsman said.
Is it unfair to say that the Obama administration consists of a bunch of anti-American ignoramuses? If so, why?
UPDATE: Scott thinks I may be unjust to Huntsman, as it isn't clear what "specific cases" he is talking about and his comment may have been unrelated to Posner's apology. Fair enough. But I've reviewed the transcript of Huntsman's remarks and he repeatedly deferred to Posner. Posner, meanwhile, adopted Huntsman's "mature" comment and explicitly put it in the context of his own apologies for the U.S.:
QUESTION: Was there any areas in which China sort of turned the tables and raised its own complaints or concerns about U.S. practices around the globe or at home? Can you give some examples there -
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: Sure. You know, I think - again, this goes back to Ambassador Huntsman's comment. Part of a mature relationship is that you have an open discussion where you not only raise the other guy's problems, but you raise your own, and you have a discussion about it. We did plenty of that. We had experts from the U.S. side, for example, yesterday, talking about treatment of Muslim Americans in an immigration context. We had a discussion of racial discrimination. We had a back-and-forth about how each of our societies are dealing with those sorts of questions. ...
QUESTION: Did the recently passed Arizona immigration law come up? And, if so, did they bring it up or did you bring it up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POSNER: We brought it up early and often. It was mentioned in the first session, and as a troubling trend in our society and an indication that we have to deal with issues of discrimination or potential discrimination, and that these are issues very much being debated in our own society.
So Posner's comments about Arizona were even worse than was reported by the AP. I would suggest to Ambassador Huntsman that if he wants to disassociate himself from the ignorance and the anti-Americanism of the Obama State Department, he should resign."
"A word from Senator KylSource Powerlineblog.com
"Andrew Wilder writes from the office of Senator Jon Kyl to draw our attention to a letter that Senators Kyl and McCain sent today to Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner regarding his inexcusable comments to the Chinese government about Arizona's new immigration law. Mr. Wilder writes: "Because of your attention to the matter, I wanted you to be one of the first to see the letter....I thought that your readers may appreciate knowing." (I've taken the liberty of adding the links to John Hinderaker's posts on this matter.)
Here is the letter from Senators Kyl and McCain:
The Honorable Michael H. Posner
Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Assistant Secretary Posner:
During the recent U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, you reportedly cited the Arizona immigration statute (SB 1070, as amended) as an example of a "troubling trend in our society" that you seemed to imply is morally equivalent to China's persistent pattern of abuse and repression of its people. As the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of the bureau of democracy and human rights, your remarks are particularly offensive. We demand that you retract your statement and issue an apology.
According to the 2009 Human Rights Report produced by your bureau, China remains one of the worst human rights offenders, and its record is only worsening. Your bureau's report details how democracy activists, religious groups, journalists, and human rights advocates in China continue to be "targeted for arbitrary arrest, detention, and harassment." The report also describes the brutal tactics the Chinese regime uses to suppress these peaceful groups: "security forces reportedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings," "officials used electric shocks, beatings, shackles, and other forms of abuse," and "arbitrary arrest and detention remained serious problems." To compare in any way the lawful and democratic act of the government of the state of Arizona with the arbitrary abuses of the unelected Chinese Communist Party is inappropriate and offensive.
There is no place for moral equivalency in democracy and human rights policy. The United States is the world's leader in defending the rights of all people. Someone in your position should be proud to proclaim that.
JON KYL & JOHN MCCAIN
This is an excellent letter that deserves a serious response. Let's say it one more time: "To compare in any way the lawful and democratic act of the government of the state of Arizona with the arbitrary abuses of the unelected Chinese Communist Party is inappropriate and offensive."
I didn't care for Specter changing parties like changing underwear. However I never realized he was such a demanding pompous ass until reading this.
"Thousands Sterilized In China Population Crackdown
"Thousands of people in one county of southern China have been sterilized in just days as part of a crackdown on violations of the country’s controversial one-child policy.
A 20-day campaign was begun on 7 April to sterilize 9,559 adults in Puning county, which with a population of 2.24 million is the most populous area of Guangdong Province. On 12 April local officials said they had already achieved about half their goal.
Doctors have been working 20 hour days to complete the massive round of surgeries. Local officials are so determined to reach their target they have been detaining relatives of those who resist the operation, potentially in violation of Chinese law.
Some 1,300 people are being held in cramped conditions around the county and forced to listen to lectures about the one-child policy while their relatives refuse to submit to the surgery.
The brother of 38-year-old Zhang Lizhao, who is the father of two young sons, was detained while Zhang was out of town buying supplies for his wholesale fruit business. Zhang rushed home to get sterilized – after his wife was already forced to have the same operation – so that his brother would be released.
“This morning my wife called me and said they were forcing her to be sterilised today,” Zhang said. “She pleaded with the clinic to wait because she has her period. But they would not wait a single day. I called and begged them but they said no. So I have rushed back. I am satisfied because I have two sons.”
Another man being held is the 68-year-old father of Huang Ruifeng, whose son has three daughters. Huang is refusing to submit to the surgery because he wants his wife to give birth to a son. He also said that he was too busy to attend hospital and that he did not have confidence in local medical techniques.
About 100 people were being held in one family planning center that was just 2,150 square feet in size. Detainees huddled together on the mats provided, which did not leave enough space for everyone to lie down at the same time.
“It’s not uncommon for family planning authorities to adopt some tough tactics,” said an official at the Puning Population and Family Planning Bureau, who declined to be identified.
The detentions are the latest tactic in the county’s bid to reduce violations of the rules as part of a bid to secure Puning second-tier county status. Couples with illegal children or their relatives who apply for permits to build a house are rejected. Illegal children are also refused residency registration, a penalty that denies them access to healthcare and education.
The county is under criticism from provincial authorities to slow a population growth that is reflecting badly on the entire province. One reason for Puning’s large population is that families in the mainly rural region often have up to three or four children.
However one official said that an investigation would be launched to establish whether authorities in Puning had exceeded their remit. A state-level regulation stipulates that couples who violate the one-child policy must not be punished without proper authorization and family members may not be penalized to put pressure on couples.
Rules in Puning, as throughout rural China, allow farmers to have a second child if the first is a daughter. After that couples must stop. The population control policy, referred to by the Chinese Government as the family planning policy, has been in force since 1978."
By Bill Lehane on 19-04-2010
Napolitano Admits She Hasn't Read Arizona Law But Says She Wouldn't Sign It
"Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From HistorySource New York Times
"......“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008........"
"......There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records. ......."
Saw a tv interview of Rubio and was very impressed.
"Rubio says country relying too much on government
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio told an anti-gay marriage group Saturday the country is relying too much on the government, in part because of a breakdown of family and faith values over the last 50 years.
"You know what the fastest growing religion in America is? Statism. The growing reliance on government," Rubio said. "Every time a problem emerges, increasingly the reaction in American society is 'Well what can government do about it?'"
America became the greatest country because of its strong society where people did not sit back and wait for government to act, he said. "They did it themselves," Rubio said.
Rubio, a lock for the GOP nomination now that Gov. Charlie Crist has decided to run as an independent, spent the day reinforcing conservative values, capped with a speech before the group that led the effort to put a gay marriage ban in the state constitution.
He said the strongest institution in society is the family, and that children raised in stable families are privileged no matter what their income.
"We can not continue to allow this over reliance on government to replace the cornerstone institution that has made the American experience possible," he said. ......"
Please note the correct title Constitutional*ist* would not post so I abbreviated it. Great article.
"America's Constitutionalist Revolt
By Larry Kudlow 16 Apr 2010
Souce TCS Daily
"So much is being written in the mainstream media about who the tea partiers are, but very little is being recorded about what these folks are actually saying.
We know that this is a decentralized grassroots movement, with many different voices hailing from many different towns across the country. But the tea-party message comes together in the "Contract from America," the product of an online vote orchestrated by Ryan Hecker, a Houston tea-party activist and national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.
With nearly 500,000 votes recorded in less than two months, this Contract forms a blueprint of tea-party policy goals and beliefs.
Of the top-ten planks in the Contract, the number-one issue is protect the Constitution. That's followed by reject cap-and-trade, demand a balanced budget, and enact fundamental tax reform. And then comes number five: Restore fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government in Washington.
Note that two of the top-five priorities of the tea partiers mention the Constitution.
Filling out the Contract, the bottom-five planks are end runaway government spending; defund, repeal, and replace government-run health care; pass an all-of-the-above energy policy; stop the pork; and stop the tax hikes.
What's so significant to me about this tea-party Contract from America is the strong emphasis on constitutional limits and restraints on legislation, spending, taxing, and government control of the economy. Undoubtedly, the emphasis is there because no one trusts Washington.
As I read this Contract, tea partiers are reminding all of us of the need for the Constitution to protect our freedoms. They're calling for a renewal of constitutional values, including -- first and foremost -- a return to constitutional limits on government. The tea partiers who responded to this poll are demanding a rebirth of the consent of the governed. The government works for us, we don't work for it.
All this makes me think of President Reagan, who never quite succeeded in gaining a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget, or for limits on spending, or for a two-thirds congressional majority for any new tax hikes. But throughout his presidency, and for many years before, the Gipper argued for constitutional limits on government, especially government spending.
And now this message is being echoed perfectly in the tea-party Contract from America. In effect, it picks up where Reagan left off.
The tea partiers, whom I call free-market populists, desire a return to Reaganism. In particular, their demands for a balanced budget (third plank), for restoring fiscal responsibility (5th plank), for ending massive government spending (6th plank), and for stopping the pork (9th plank) all underscore the populist revolt against runaway government spending, and therefore runaway government power.
There are mentions in the Contract of tax reform and stopping tax hikes. But it is pretty clear to everyone nowadays that the massive run-up in spending of recent years will inevitably result in an equally massive tax-hike movement -- that is, unless the spending is strictly curbed and reduced.
Yet the tea partiers don't trust Congress to do this, so they want to bring in constitutional restraint.
A recent survey by the Brookings Institution spells out this spend-and-tax problem with great clarity. Under current spending trends, tax-the-rich efforts to bring the deficit to just 3 percent of GDP -- not balance, mind you, but 3 percent deficit -- would require a nearly 80 percent marginal tax rate on the most successful earners. And if taxes are raised across-the-board, the marginal rate would rise to nearly 50 percent for the top earners, with state and local tax burdens bringing it up to 60 percent. Otherwise, a European-style value-added tax (VAT) would become necessary.
The tea partiers know this and they don't like it one bit. And so, at bottom, they have formed a constitutionalist movement to revolt against big government and big taxes -- and oh, by the way, to stand against big-government control of large chunks of the economy, such as energy and health care.
Harking back to the Founders' principles of constitutional limits to government is a very powerful message. It's a message of freedom, especially economic freedom. The tea partiers have delivered an extremely accurate diagnostic of what ails America right now: Government is growing too fast, too much, too expensively, and in too many places -- and in the process it is crowding out our cherished economic freedom.
It's as though the tea partiers are saying this great country will never fulfill its long-run potential to prosper, create jobs, and lead the world unless constitutional limits to government are restored.
Now, as the tea partiers rally across the country, the big question is only this: Will the political class get it?"
Some amazing facts and figures about the last election.
YouTube - Jerry Day on Ron Paul and the Media
Core concept in this video is right-on. For all who railed against corporate welfare under Bush, how's that working out for you now?????
Obama was holding it when it broke.
"Angry Obama Seeks to Deflect Blame for Gulf Oil Spill Crisis
Posted by Chip Reid
".....He seems deeply upset about the growing calamity in the Gulf, about the environmental damage, about the irresponsibility of the companies involved, and about their efforts to shift the blame. ......"
Since it's Led Zeppelin day on LP , here's a classic. When Led Zep first became popular in the late 60's many radio stations wouldn't play their material.
Linking due to explicit lyrics.
Concept has interesting possibilities. Found on Steve Quayle Q News.
Posted by moezilla on May 13, 2010
Wonder who told him to say it was a bad idea?
"Holder Admits to Not Reading Arizona's Immigration Law Despite Criticizing ItFOXNews.com
"Despite repeatedly voicing concerns about Arizona's new immigration enforcement law in recent weeks and threatening to challenge it, Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he has not yet read the law -- which is only 10 pages long.
"I have not had a chance to -- I've glanced at it," Holder said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing when asked by Rep.Ted Poe, R-Texas whether Holder has read the state law cracking down on illegal immigrants.
"I'll give you my copy of it if you would like," Poe responded.
Holder told reporters last month that he fears the new law is subject to abuse and that the Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department are in the midst of conducting a review. ......."
Interesting perspective ..... you decide.
"The New World Order is Now Complete
15:52 by Administrator. Filed under: Whatever
Source http://johngaltfla.com/blog3 via Steve Quayle Q News
by John Galt
May 10, 2010
"It took them a long time. I was stupid not to realize the obvious fact. Here we are, finally, united in a new world order of happiness and a future so bright that I have to wear shades. For most people much like myself, we always thought it was the United States and the armed citizenry that stalled and prevented the establishment of this new order, both economic and political. Sadly us Americentric types focused on our nation as the center of the universe failed to see the big picture and I did not realize until tonight that it was not Presidents Bush and Obama that prevented the new order from taking hold. It was not the Tea Party, Republican Party or the Libertarian Party which obstructed the globalist regime. It was not Joe Redneck, Joe Six-Pack or Joe the Plumber that intimidated or slowed down the establishment of this order.
It was our friends in Europe.
And last night a shotgun wedding was performed, Miss America, meet your groom, the European Union.
The idea that the European Union needed $1 trillion to bail out Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain is absurd. Even if all of that money was obtainable on the open markets or via fiat creation it does nothing to repair or restore the economic engine of hybrid Corporatist Statism, but does indicate the level of desperation that the powers in the West are willing to resort to in a last ditch effort to insure the expansion of and maintenance of their fortunes and power. Here we are, at the crux of another crisis and a “miracle” cure is found by creating more debt to service, not pay off, existing debt from various member nations who were resistant to the idea of a unified political structure. Ireland and the other PIIGS nations wanted no part of a unified Parliamentary structure for the EU with the ability to dictate law and settle on a series of Constitutionally mandated rights for the member nations. Yet here we are with those very nations who opposed such a regime surrendering their economic freedoms and in turn insuring such an animal will exist, a beast to America’s east.
Despite years of people calling others ‘tinfoil freaks’ of whom I have been guilty of that years and years ago, the conspiracy is not that nor has it been for two years now. The conspiracy has turned into a course of action where people are being deceived into believing that according to the leaders of the West, aka the United States and Europe, that there is no other choice if we wish to survive as a civilization. Common sense tells the informed citizen otherwise but the panic and hysteria created on an almost scheduled, regular basis, be it an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, financial crisis, war, or terrorist act keeps many citizens from understanding or realizing the activities being undertaken behind the scenes. How many people realize that the new financial reform package expands the powers of the Federal Reserve to the point of extra-Constitutional authorities not implied nor given to the Executive Branch as written within that <snip>ed piece of paper? How many people who run a small business now understand that starting in 2012 you have to give a 1099 to every vendor you purchase $600 or more from? How many citizens understand that Homeland Security is working with the Congress to create a standardized National Identification program under the guise of the Health Care legislation to provide the ability to monitor not just the consumption patterns of citizens but the transportation habits, domestic and international, of our citizens to enable further taxation due to the risks created by those who can afford to travel to and fro?
And that’s just the United States side of the equation. Once the European Parliament convenes when the dust settles and the last fire from the riots are extinguished, the Eurosheeple much like the Amerisheeple will begin to understand that gee, we really do have a lot in common and perhaps unifying our financial systems and legal systems would be a logical extension from where we are now. The fact that we just put their precious European Monetary Union into debt to the Federal Reserve via the currency swaps and the International Monetary Fund loan program does sort of entitle those who are in charge to demand concessions of the citizens to insure a guarantee of repayment and streamlining of operations now, doesn’t it?
The next wave of the now completed new order will be to unify financial and corporate regulatory regimes because we “have to” and thus with that logic our sovereign rights along with the individual participants within the EU will agree to do the same. Beyond that, the human rights campaigns masked by their Eurosocialist masters will demand we in turn surrender key freedoms and rights as provided by the Constitution to insure financial and corporate stability, thus leaving the American citizen with no voice because we will have none in this matter.
The end game arrived with little fanfare but as expected a warning shot across the bow of the world economies with the shock of last Thursday. The Untied States has a banking cartel which was already engaged to be married to their Eurosocialist brethren but the right trigger event was never created to insure that the “people” would cooperate in such an event. Americans, due to the demographic shift, will support any and all actions that guarantee their retirement accounts as large numbers of the Baby Boomer generation is more than happy to sell the rest of us out to insure a comfortable period of time from retirement to their death. The Eurosocialist want to protect their 32 hour work week with 12 weeks of vacation so they are willing to accept a more “diversified” society if the United States citizens are willing to pay for it, thus they will accept their new immigrants, their new laws, and their new compliance with a budding world council to manage their affairs because after all the “New World” is going to share in their pain.
Thus the table has been set. Elections are somewhat irrelevant in the United States after the 2010 mid-term election unless upwards of 50% of the incumbents are turned out at every level, be it dog catcher or Congressman. The path has been set upon not by a desperation to insure world peace, as many thought it would in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, but instead a dying desire to make sure they can retire with their surround sound DVD player and golf every Thursday with Bob at the community country club. The Greatest Generation, the ones who fought and died during World War II and endured the pains of the Great Depression of the 1930’s have finally given way. The Sellout Generation, their spawn, will insure world peace and stability for a generation to come.
By enslaving us all to the whims of a cartel of corporatist Marxists hell bent on a twisted Fascist world domination."
"Lawyers: Rig workers asked to sign statements
By GARANCE BURKE and CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writers
Tuesday, May 11, 2010"(05-11) 10:50 PDT , (AP) --
"Workers aboard an exploding offshore drilling platform were told to sign statements denying they were hurt or witnessed the blast that rocked the rig, killed 11 and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the ocean, their attorneys said Tuesday.
Survivors floated for hours in life boats in the Gulf of Mexico following the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon, and were greeted by company officials onshore asking them to sign statements that they had no "first hand or personal knowledge" of the incident, attorneys said. ......"
Came in email.
"A blast from Elena Kagan's pastSource Powerlineblog.com
May 12, 2010 Posted by Paul at 6:05 PM
Byron York reports on an obscure but potentially embarrassing controversy involving Elena Kagan's days in the Clinton administration:
In 1995 and 1996, future Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was involved in a bizarre controversy in which the Clinton White House was accused of siding with an eco-terrorist group locked in a standoff with federal agents deep in the woods of Oregon. The incident led to an investigation by House Republicans, who concluded that a staffer on the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) tipped off the environmental radicals to impending action by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement agents -- a leak that Forest Service officials believed endangered the lives of their agents on the ground.
Kagan, at the time an associate White House counsel, had no role in leaking the feds' plans to the radicals, but House Committee on Natural Resources investigators concluded she shirked her responsibility by not searching for the source of the leak or pushing for punishment of the leaker.
"Nothing was ever done by Elena Kagan to learn the details about the leaks, or to identify the leaker and ensure that proper punishment occurred," the committee's 1999 report concluded. In fact, investigators found evidence suggesting that Kagan, in internal White House discussions, defended the alleged leaker.
(emphasis added) The suspected leaker was a senior CEQ official Dinah Bear who had wide contacts in the environmental community. Bear wrote in an email that "Elena went out of her way to go to bat for yours truly, which was quite decent of her." When congressional investigators asked the White House for Kagan's notes of her discussions with Dinah Bear, the White House refused to provide them.
It's quite likely that during her confirmation hearings, Kagan will be asked about the Warner Creek incident. It's quite unlikely that the matter will hurt Kagan's chances of being confirmed. But depending on the facts and how she answers questions about the matter, Kagan may come off looking bad. That, in turn, would make President Obama look bad.
The public would probably look askance at a nominee who disses the U.S. military and goes "to bat" for leakers who undermine U.S. law enforcement officials."
Denninger is a brilliant analyst .... this happens to be one of his best about what faction (banksters) the current regime is allowing to run the US into the ground. For such a symbiotic relationship between the regime and banksters there has to be mutual benefit. Wonder what that could be? You decide.
Wednesday, May 12. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger 11:24
Source The Market Ticker
"The Perversity Of Bank-Driven Policy Response
If you're wondering why the big banks have "captured" the political environment in every nation of the world, you need only look at the Goldman results through a somewhat-different lens.
See, it wasn't just Goldman - it was also Bank of America, Citibank and JP Morgan who scored "perfect quarters."
Now if Goldman's record was predicated on the outcome of a game of chance set of odds and had an 8.67 x 10-19 probability of occurring, for four of these institutions to do so would be that to the 4th power, or something approaching 5.65 x 10-73.
As pointed out in the forum by Tsberts, there are fewer than this many particles (atoms, etc) in the known universe.
Now it is certainly true that trading activities are not a pure game of chance, and that most of the trading profits are generated from "market making" (that is, earning a spread.)
But that makes the performance even more outrageous, because these "market making" activities are claimed to be something that provides net benefit to market participants and thus the economy as a whole.
That claim looks awfully hard to sustain when the book-maker never loses - not even once on a daily aggregate basis.
Indeed, this puts into stark relief the nature of "banking" these days in the Wall Street context, which is increasingly nothing more than an activity intended and executed to skim off profits for the banksters at the expense of literally everyone else in the economy.
They seem to be doing a good job of it too, if these results are any indication.
Here's the problem with this, assuming you're not a bank executive: The money these people skim off comes from all other economic activity. That is, every dollar they make through these "activities" is a dollar you lose as a productive member of society.
It cannot be otherwise. The spread has to come from someone, and the "someone" it comes from ultimately is you!
You pay it at the pump, you pay it in your mortgage, you pay for it at the grocery store, and you pay for it at Home Depot. In each and every product and service you purchase there is an implicit "Bankster Tax."
Now some of this "bankster tax" is unavoidable. That is, there indeed is a need for a banking system, despite the claims of some. We have a penchant in modern society for being able to easily buy things we want, and do to that we need both one or more mediums of exchange but also a clearing mechanism. Banks provide this.
But what's lost on most people in the current debate is that many of the other things that banks do are actually quite destructive. Have you noticed that you can only get a CD that pays 1% right now? Is the cost of living rising at 1% or less? No, it is not, which means that you are funding the bankster tax if you have your money in the bank. They're stripping you!
Worse is the game being played between the banks and Treasury. This is a symbiotic mess and it sucks. The banks borrow at or near zero from The Fed and then buy Treasuries with the money. Since Treasuries have a "Zero" risk weighting, they can then pledge those for Repo money in the overnight market (again, at essentially zero) and now they have cash to do it again! This creates effective infinite leverage and yet this is permitted because these "securities" are sovereign and thus "safe."
This has allowed the Treasury to continue to "borrow" and spend, but the "borrowing" is, to a large degree, false money. That is, it is nothing other than leverage - it is not actual money being lent.
This, if it does not stop, is how you get a Ponzi-style collapse!
If you want to know why Greece was bailed out, this is the reason. Had they not been the banks in Europe who had taken this Greek Debt which was represented as "safe" but in fact was not would have gotten nailed, as their inherent leverage in the transaction would have chewed them to bits. Indeed, they had mark-to-market losses in the billions when the interest rates on that debt ramped - all not recognized, of course, since sovereign debt has "zero risk."
The error in this process is that sovereign debt does not have zero risk. Indeed, allowing banks to trade anything creates this sort of hazard, since there is no such thing as a free lunch - claims otherwise are in fact lies. Yet the claims continue.
Mark Hanson of Hanson Advisors has an interesting report out this morning that underlies much of the trouble, which of course is focused in the housing market. We have been told repeatedly by administration officials and others that the "worst of the crisis" in mortgages and similar instruments is behind us, and that credit quality is "improving."
This is a lie.
I have stressed repeatedly that you cannot fix someone who is overlevered by offering them more credit, no matter the terms. You can only solve their problem by reducing their credit load. But for most Americans their primary mortgage (which is all that HAMP really addresses, despite the protests of some 'pundits') isn't the half of it. You also have HELOC debt, and far more importantly all other forms of credit, including credit cards, auto loans and similar.
The Ponziconomy folks are well-aware that without restarting credit creation the attempts to "pump" our claimed "economic recovery" will fail. More importantly, since we have managed to crank expectations in business so high over the last year, resulting in an 80% ramp in the stock markets, if they fail we won't "muddle along" and work the excesses out - that capability has now disappeared. What we face is an all-on collapse that will likely destroy 20% or more of the S&P 500 and 50% or more of all small businesses.
The numbers say they're failing:
That's everything but mortgages. Non-revolving debt has leveled off - but it never went materially below a zero creation rate in the first place. But revolving debt has not, which belies the claim that "credit quality is stable and improving."
It most-emphatically is not when one looks at the outstanding credit as represented here:
We nearly doubled non-revolving credit out from 2000-2008 and added about 50% to revolving. Now non-revolving, despite all the "stimulus" programs and "Free money" deals for cars, has stalled and refuses to resume it's ascent, while revolving continues to contract. On a total basis you have this:
Looks folks, we went from $1.5 trillion outstanding to over $2.5 trillion in ten years. Now it's contracting and while non-revolving has stabilized, it is not growing materially, and revolving debt continues to contract. To resume the upward trajectory we had in 2000-2007, we must ramp consumer credit from $2.5 trillion to roughly $4 trillion over the next ten years, and we must also take the $53 trillion in total outstanding debt and ramp it to somewhere around $80 trillion.
But to do that you must have the income to service that debt.
We do not, and we cannot without radical changes in how we approach trade and employment in this nation.
All we have done thus far is play "extend and pretend" writ large throughout the economy, with a special emphasis in the housing market in all it's forms. The banks are cheating on asset valuations when it comes to MBS and whole loans of all sorts but so are consumers! A consumer who has a total debt-service-to-income ratio post modification in the 60s or above is one blown transmission in their car, a leaking water heater or an unexpected medical bill away from bankruptcy.
To get out of this hole we must either truly restructure those debts (which at best means writing down expected interest payment streams in the future, and at worst recognizing the bankruptcy that has already taken place) or we must significantly increase income - not by 5 or 10% but by serious amounts, 20% or more.
The latter is impossible due to global wage arbitrage unless we either force China to revalue their currency or whack them (and other low-cost exporters such as Vietnam and similar) with huge tariffs on everything they export to the United States.
Enjoy the illusion that it has all been fixed. Everywhere I look, no matter the sector, I see the same game being played.
Last week showed us a crack in the dam. The coming weeks may prove that the number of cracks exceed the number of available fingers.
"Kagan Was ‘Not Sympathetic’ as Law Clerk to Gun-Rights Argument
Some really good questions to ponder. Love or hate him, Boortz makes you think.
"BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!By Neal Boortz @ May 12, 2010 8:51 AM
"If you've been paying attention you will know that the cost estimates for ObamaCare were far too low in the first place, just as they usually are for government spending and entitlement programs. The key phrase here is "if you've been paying attention." Sadly, far too many Americans aren't paying attention to much more than their Hollywood celebrity news and favorite sports team. Bread and circuses .. and the politicians love it. Spending figures and debt to GDP ratios mean little to most Americans. Slogans and impossible promises drive far too many elections.
Now let's say, just for the sake of argument, that you do run into someone today who has decided that it's time to put down the US Weekly magazine and pick up some serious reading. They ask you for some suggestions on what areas they might research for more information. I'm running out of time before the show ... but here are just a few ideas.
OK ... enough. Maybe .. just maybe those questions aimed at the right people might get someone actually interested in what the hell is going on outside of Hollywood or their local sports stadium."
"Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
"CAGW Names Senator Thad Cochran Porker of the Month
"(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) April Porker of the Month for being the biggest porker in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book, the third consecutive year he has received this dishonor. Sen. Cochran obtained 240 earmarks worth $490 million. Since fiscal year 2008, Sen. Cochran has obtained more than $2 billion in pork-barrel earmarks. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Congressional Pig Book.
The 2010 Congressional Pig Book documented 9,129 earmarks worth $16.5 billion and features “Oinker Awards,” which bestow special recognition on the most extraordinarily wasteful projects. The “Thad the Impaler Award” went to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) for securing the most pork.
In a March 17, 2010 Politico article, when Sen. Cochran was asked about his earmark spending he said, ‘“I don’t have any guilt trips.”’ Sen. Cochran’s attitude illustrates how fiscally irresponsible members put wasteful parochial interests ahead of the fiscal strength of the country and taxpayers.
“Unfortunately, some members of Congress continue to take advantage of the broken earmark spoils system,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Sen. Cochran and members like him continue to manipulate the appropriations process and siphon off the limited resources created by the taxpayers’ blood, sweat, and tears to buy votes. This mindless self-dealing is why the taxpayers are saddled with a $1.6 trillion budget deficit, a $12.8 trillion national debt, and the prospect of trillion-dollar budget deficits for the foreseeable future. Taxpayers know that earmarks are not a productive use of taxpayer money, but politicians like Sen. Cochran who continue to earmark with an utter disregard to the country’s fiscal situation either don’t listen or don’t care,” concluded Schatz.
Some examples of Sen. Cochran’s $490 million in pork include: $4,841,000 for wood utilization research; $1,608,000 for dietary supplements research; $1,000,000 for the University of Southern Mississippi for transitioning space technologies into the commercial sector; $850,000 for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; $231,000 for e-commerce; and $200,000 for the Washington National Opera.
For his unparalleled ability to engage in excessively wasteful pork-barrel spending, CAGW names Sen. Thad Cochran its April 2010 Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers."
A friend sent this video in email. Unbelievable .... I wish everyone in the Nashville area the very best luck cleaning and rebuilding.
"Breaking: Bank Protesters Storm Irish Parliament - YesterdayGreece, Today Ireland, Tomorrow ?
Submitted by Tyler Durden on05/11/2010 15:48 -0500
From the BelfastTelegraph
No wonder this movement has Dems running scared, demonizing this grass roots movement.
"Moms to the Barricades 'The tea parties are an extension of our need to protect the future for our children.'
By MICHAEL GRAHAM
"If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And if you've been to a tea party, you know Momma ain't happy at all.
Forget "angry white men." In the male-dominated world of conservative politics, the tea party stands out as a movement of energized and organized women. In particular, moms.
Moms like Sarah Palin, of course, who's been described as the "Momma Bear" of the tea party movement. But more important are the thousands of women at the state and local level who created this political phenomenon.
Moms like Christen Varley, the suburban mother of four who organized the successful tea party rally on Boston Common last month. Moms like Karen Miner Herd, who calls herself "one of the founding mothers" of the tea party movement in Virginia.
Her favorite tea party sign? "Menopause Was Change Enough for Me."
In fact, a recent Quinnipiac poll of voters found a majority of tea party supporters—55%—are women. To put that in perspective, only 48% of women voted for George W. Bush in 2004. And just two years ago, President Obama won 56% of the female vote.As part of a recent book project I've been asking women around the country: Why are you angry? What is it about the tea party movement that energizes busy working moms to get even busier organizing protests?
Many women gave the most obvious answer: "If we waited around for you men to do it, it would never get done."
When I asked Christen Varley, the Boston tea party leader, she said it's because moms tend to be "the CEO's of our households. We do the shopping, bill paying, budgeting, etc. We know less money means less freedom. Maybe if the president and Congress did the grocery shopping, they'd know why we're mad."
Dana Loesch, talk host and co-founder of the St. Louis tea party, believes the tea party movement is the modern conservative version of "the personal is political."
"Motherhood itself has become a political act," says Ms. Loesch. "And the tea parties are an extension of our need as moms to protect the future for our children."
Keli Carender isn't a mom, but the Seattle-area 30-something is the mother of the tea party movement. She held the very first rally of the modern tea party era to protest the so-called stimulus package, days before Rick Santelli's infamous CNBC rant.
The tea party idea "just clicked in the minds of conservative women," she says. "Most women I know are thinking 'I'm taking care of my family and the government's taking care of it's business—right?' Then they see what the government is really doing and they saw 'Whoa, whoa! I guess I've gotta take care of their mess, too.'"
Mr. Graham, a radio talk show host in Boston
"DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE
@ May 10, 2010 8:49 AM
Looks like the people of Utah have finally called the bluff. Senator Bob Bennett in Utah has been in Washington for 18 years. He was running for a fourth term. Key word .. "was." GOP delegates at the state convention voted for another guy by the name of Mike Lee, rather than sending Bob Bennett back to the statewide race.
Bennett's sin? Apparently the voters didn't appreciate his vote for the so-called Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP). The voters evidently have this odd idea that it is not the role of government to bail out businesses that fail. Maybe they also realized that when the bill was passed the funds were supposed to be used to purchase toxic assets from troubled companies ... but were used instead to effect complete bailouts.
At any rate ... there are a lot of politicians on this Monday morning who received a rather rude wake up call over the weekend. Couldn't happen to a nicer crowd."
Wonder if Obama and the Fed will guarantee the IMF Britain and Germany's portion of Greece bailout money if they refuse to fund?
"KaBoom: Britain And Now Germany
Sunday, May 9. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in International at 12:35
Source The Market Ticker
But the loan guarantees are too much for the UK to swallow, and the Treasury will have nothing to do with them. Without them the package looks pretty thin.
It also appears that Merkel lost her majority in the German Parliamentary elections, which means her Greek bailout support has now cost her the coalition government she previously enjoyed.
That, in turn, means that it is very likely that Germany has provided the last support it is going to be "contributing" (more accurately, being extorted from German citizens at gunpoint) to Euro "stability" as well.
Here comes the fun folks, pretty much exactly as I expected.
Anyone want odds on the Germans returning to the Deutchemark?
To the banksters: Bonne chance."
"The one main benefit to the financial reform effort so far is that it helps further do away with the false paradigms of "left" or "right" and "Democrat" or "Republican" - fewer and fewer people are falling for those lies anymore. Try to get an ideological conservative to explain why Republicans love spending and so eagerly give welfare to banks. Try to get your local liberal to explain why it was a good idea to make backroom deals with abhorrent corporations and drill, baby, drill. Heck, even try to get a Tea Partier to explain choosing bailout-lover Sarah Palin to keynote their convention, especially when that movement once had at least some pre-astroturf roots in protesting government giveaways.
What we have now is a group of politicians with shifting alliances on a case-by-case basis to the special interests who fund them. And currently, the most damaging one to our nation is the rise of the Bankster Party. Thankfully, we can now better identify its members.
Anyone who voted for the Kaufman-Brown SAFE amendment deserves to be considered a member of the "People's Party", at least for today. And while I may not agree, I am also OK with someone voting no on Kaufman-Brown if they voted no on the bailout in the first place. That at least shows a consistent ideology and we wouldn't need to break up the banks into smaller parts if our leaders had the will to let them fail.
But there is a special place for those who have the audacity to do something as incredibly un-American as voting to provide unencumbered welfare for rich bankers and then subsequently do absolutely nothing to fix the problem. And that special place (for now) is in what we should call from this point forward the "Bankster Party". Allow me to present to you its current members:
Daniel Akaka (B-HI)
Lamar Alexander (B-TN)
Max Baucus (B-MT)
Evan Bayh (B-IN)
Michael F. Bennet (B-CO)
Christopher S. Bond (B-MO)
Richard Burr (B-NC)
Thomas R. Carper (B-DE)
Saxby Chambliss (B-GA)
Susan M. Collins (B-ME)
Kent Conrad (B-ND)
Bob Corker (B-TN)
John Cornyn (B-TX)
Christopher J. Dodd (B-CT)
Dianne Feinstein (B-CA)
Lindsey Graham (B-SC)
Chuck Grassley (B-IA)
Judd Gregg (B-NH)
Orrin G. Hatch (B-UT)
Kay Bailey Hutchinson (B-TX)
Daniel K. Inouye (B-HI)
Johnny Isakson (B-GA)
John F. Kerry (B-MA)
Amy Klobuchar (B-MN)
Herb Kohl (B-WI)
Jon Kyl (B-AZ)
Frank R. Lautenberg (B-NJ)
Joseph Lieberman (B-CT)
John McCain (B-AZ)
Claire McCaskill (B-MO)
Mitch McConnell (B-KY)
Robert Menendez (B-NJ)
Lisa Murkowski (B-AK)
Bill Nelson (B-FL)
Jack Reed (B-RI)
Charles Schumer (B-NY)
Olympia Snowe (B-ME)
John Thune (B-SD)
Mark Udall (B-CO)
George Voinovich (B-OH)
Mark Warner (B-VA)
Mark Begich (P-AK)
Jeff Bingaman (P-NM)
Barbara Boxer (P-CA)
Sherrod Brown (P-OH)
Roland Burris (P-IL)
Maria Cantwell (P-WA)
Bejamin Cardin (P-MD)
Robert Casey Jr. (P-PA)
Tom Coburn (P-OK)
Byron Dorgan (P-ND)
Richard Durbin (P-IL)
John Ensign (P-NV)
Russell Feingold (P-WI)
Al Franken (P-MN)
Tom Harkin (P-IA)
Edward Kaufman (P-DE)
Patrick Leahy (P-VT)
Carl Levin (P-MI)
Blanche Lincoln (P-AR)
Jeff Merkley (P-OR)
Lisa Mikulski (P-MD)
Patty Murray (P-WA)
Mark Pryor (P-AR)
Harry Reid (P-NV)
John D. Rockefeller IV (P-WV)
Bernard Sanders (P-VT)
Richard Shelby (P-AL)
Arlen Specter (P-PA)
Debbie Stabenow (P-MI)
Tom Udall (P-NM)
Jim Webb (P-VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (P-RI)
Ron Wyden (P-OR)
Since I've never played the stock market, no loss no gain for me. My primary motivation posting financial market information is to hopefully bring back integrity to our financial system for the safety of eveyone's money.
"The Near 1,000 Point Slide of the DJIA Compels Further Investigation of the Wall Street Casino Scam
Source Zero HedgeSubmitted by smartknowledgeu on 05/07/2010 02:39 -0500
"Yesterday’s slide in the US stock markets provides further proof that the world’s financial markets are nothing more than a rigged casino where the house (Wall Street) holds by far the better odds in every game (currency markets, stock markets, derivative markets, commodity markets) it offers the mark (the retail investor). How else could the US DJIA lose 700 points in a 10-minute span and a number of blue chip stocks lose 25%, or 30% in a matter of minutes as well? The answer? Wall Street’s use of predatory algorithmic High Frequency Trading (HFT) programs that are designed to trigger cascade-like buying and selling. To believe that, as an individual investor, you have a snowball’s chance in hell of beating these Wall Street trading programs that front run your trades or block your trade executions faster than you can blink your eye is tantamount to believing that skill is involved in winning when you shimmy up to the slot machine stool at the Bellagio in Vegas.
Predatory algorithmic HFT programs aren’t called “predatory” without good reason. Not that yesterday’s selloff wasn’t partially the result of fear injected into a Fed Reserve inflated stock market bubble, because it was. But Wall Street deployed HFT programs had a lot to do with the cascading nature of the decline in yesterday’s trading. Continuing our casino analogy, HFT programs act in the same capacity as the thugs employed by casinos that take you to the back room to rain down their “thuggery” upon you if you start winning too much. HFT programs are designed to block the retail investor from making successful trades against the trades of the house (Wall Street) and often prevent the retail investor from obtaining fair prices in the execution of trades in numerous financial markets.
Consider the following example. Stock A’s bid is $10.10 and the ask is $10.13. An investor places an order to buy at $10.13. Instead of his order being filled and executed as it would if human traders were executing the trade, HFT programs often immediately step up the ask price to $10.14 and screw both parties in the trade. Depending on the orders that HFT programs “see”, sometimes the HFT will see an order at $10.13, and step up the price to $10.18 so the bids follow higher and the bid price gets reset from $10.10 to $10.13 almost immediately. Or, if the bid price does not follow higher, then the bid-ask spread becomes grotesquely distorted from $0.03 to $0.08 for no other reason than HFT programs are blocking liquidity. Should the human trader withdraw his order to buy at $10.13, then often the bid-ask spread almost immediately returns to $0.03 and the ask will subsequently fall from $10.18 back to $10.13. Should he place the order again seconds later, however, the bid-ask spread will often immediately increase again with the bid price increasing to a point higher than $10.13 again.
The HFT programs execute the shame shenanigans in the options markets depending on what side of the market they are manipulating. I have many times been forced to take a lower profit on options trades because of HFT programs. For example, if I placed an order to sell on option contracts at $2.50 when the bid is at $2.50 and the ask is $2.60, instead of my order filling, the bid often immediately falls to $2.40 and the ask becomes $2.50, blocking my order from filling. HFT programs run amok in options markets as well. This is Skynet from Terminator rigging markets, destroying liquidity and unfairly rigging prices of all possible financial instruments that trade in every conceivable market, all with the blessings of the SEC.
Wall Street has been running these types of scams ever since advances in technology have enabled them to develop algorithmic programs to manipulate markets. In fact, on my company’s website, I have stated the following message for a long time now:
“Today, when stock markets rise in the face of horrid economic fundamentals, fundamental and technical analysis are inadequate when making critical decisions about your financial future…If one expects to be profitable in today's investment world, one MUST realize that ALL MARKETS ARE RIGGED, including gold, silver, currency and stock markets…Without understanding the fraud and rigging games of the financial oligarchs, it is impossible to accurately predict long-term trends. It is a near certainty that future shocks to the economic system will catch the vast majority of all investors unprepared and we expect great shocks to hit the global economy at some point in 2010.”
The only difference is that when I started pushing this message a decade ago, people laughed off my proclamations and accused me of being enamored with conspiracy theories. Today, more and more people finally are awakening to the reality that such a message is not a conspiracy but a fact.
So this is how the Wall Street Casino Scam operates.
The ratings agencies like Moodys and Standard and Poors are the pretty <snip>tail waitresses that lure the mark (the retail investor) into the Casino (stock markets) with free alcoholic drinks (abominably horrible and deceitful credit ratings of financial instruments) to instill the mark with the false sense of confidence necessary to induce gambling in the rigged Casino. The regulators like the CFTC and the SEC are the pit bosses that oversee the floormen (Wall Street firm CEOs) that oversee the table games dealers (the firm’s traders) and ensure the games (stock markets, currency markets, commodity markets) you are allowed to play possess a feature (HFT trading programs) that ensures that the odds will always enormously be in favor of the house. The pit boss oversees all floor dealers and conspire with the regulators (the <snip>tail waitresses) to give gamblers (the investor) a sense that all dealings are legitimate even though the odds of every table game (currency markets, commodity markets, stock markets) are insanely rigged in favor of the house (Wall Street firms). If we consider the table game of blackjack, in a real casino, should you receive a good hand, the dealer will pay out your bet. In the case of Wall Street, due to HFT programs, in many instances, should an investor receive a favorable hand (i.e., a favorable move in the stock market) in the game he or she is playing, HFT programs move in to prevent the bet from paying out in full or paying out at all (an investor’s sell order never executes at the price at which the market has informed the investor that he or she can cash out).
In essence, financial markets are rigged exactly like casinos except for one difference. The predatory algorithms executed by HFT programs ensure the winnings of the house to a much greater extent than any Casino table game is able to accomplish. It this sense, Wall Street is rigged to a greater extent than even casinos. In the instances when you win, they deploy HFT trading programs that prevent the bet from paying out full value so that the house (Wall Street firms) can step in and earn profits from a trade it spots AFTER an order has already been placed. Or in the mirror example, HFT programs allow the house (Wall Street firms) to step in front of trades they “see” and front run them for their own profits, again screwing the retail investor out of a lower price in a buy transaction. In these cases, which must happen by the thousands every day, the HFT programs employed by Wall Street screw both the buyer and seller in the transaction as it always attempts to widen the losses or lessen the gains of both parties involved. In some instances, frustrated traders leave the game tables so liquidity dries up which leads to the establishment of even more grossly distorted and unfair bid and ask prices. Despite this practice being commonplace, the pit bosses of the giant rigged Wall Street casino, men like Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, want us to believe that their enormous profits are derived because of their upstanding integrity and above-average intelligence of his firm’s employees.
Next on the list of financial weapons of mass destruction? The $600 trillion (notional value) of the derivatives market. Oh, what joy we’ll experience when the banksters are eventually forced to unwind a fraction of this market and various parties will actually be forced to make good on these contracts when the financial instruments insured by them start heading south (or the true value of them are finally recognized, whichever comes first). It's no wonder that the price of gold has diverged from the behavior of the US dollar and US stock markets on multiple days for the last several weeks. The next significant dip in gold/silver price that occurs may be the last best buying opportunity in "real" money for years."
About the author: JS Kim is the Chief Investment Strategist and Managing Director of SmartKnowledgeU, LLC
"US to announce Mexico trucking plan soon-LaHood
"WASHINGTON, May 6 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's adminstration will soon announce its plan to reopen the U.S. border to Mexican trucks and end a dispute that prompted Mexico to slap duties last year on $2.4 billion worth of U.S. goods, a top U.S. official said on Thursday. ..............."
"Senate Rejects Brown-Kaufman Proposal To Break Up Largest Banks
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/06/2010 20:13 -0500
Source Zero Hedge
"The Senate is officially bribed, paid for and in the pocket of the big banks. Too disgusted to even comment on this. This country deserves all that the "big banks" have in store for it.
Below is the full press release from Senator Kaufman:
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) released the following statement after the Senate voted down the Brown-Kaufman amendment to Wall Street reform legislation, 33-61.
“I am disappointed. This is certainly a defeat for those who are concerned about the dangers of financial concentration in this country.
“On the other hand, against the odds and starting from nowhere, I am proud that Senator Sherrod Brown and I helped to start a nationwide debate on the need to break up ‘too big to fail’ banks and succeeded in getting a vote on our amendment.
“The debate on the floor and around the country was not short – it lasted for weeks. In the last month, this proposal and debate was met with favorable reaction from many respected policymakers, economists and former regulators. I believe this idea was sound policy – and I further believe that a mainstream consensus will continue to grow that these megabanks are too large, too complex and too internally conflicted to regulate successfully.
“Some causes are worth fighting for, and for me, the concern about the risks ‘too big to fail’ banks pose to the American economy and people is deep and profound given the economic tragedy millions of American have endured. I believe the debate itself – though failing to gain a majority of votes – has helped to change attitudes about the degree of financial concentration and power these megabanks now represent. Going forward, I hope the Congress will work to strengthen the bill’s ban on proprietary trading by banks. And I hope that regulators will understand that they should use their discretion under existing statutory authority to break up megabanks when the financial system is threatened.”
"Greece fire!Source Powerlineblog.com
May 6, 2010 Posted by Scott at 10:05 AM
"Based on a recent report in London's Telegraph, it appears that the financial crisis in Greece is awakening some festering European resentments dating back to World War II. Although Greece is in a position of great weakness, some Greeks think that now is the time to settle old scores:
The mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanis, led the call for Germany to pay reparations for the conquest and occupation, saying; "You owe us 70 billion euros for the ruins you left behind."
Greece's deputy prime minister, Theodoros Pangalos, also dragged up the war, stating; "The Nazis took away the Greek gold that was in the Bank of Greece, they took away the Greek money and they never gave it back."
Which reminds me. It was the Greeks who gave us the word for democracy. They also gave us the the words for demagoguery, tyranny, crisis and chaos.
The Wall Street Journal picks up on the latter two in "Crisis deepens; chaos grips Greece." Left-wing protesters wielding a fire bomb killed three bank employees yesterday when the bomb hit a bank in central Athens.
Sen. Jim Demint brings it all back home: "U.S. taxpayers are helping finance Greek bailout." (article below)
UPDATE: A reader forwards an interesting article from the Australian Business Spectator asking "Will German voters cut the cord?"
"U.S. taxpayers are helping finance Greek bailout
"The International Monetary Fund board has approved a $40 billion bailout for Greece, almost one year after the Senate rejected my amendment to prohibit the IMF from using U.S. taxpayer money to bailout foreign countries.
Congress didn’t learn their lesson after the $700 billion failed bank bailout and let world leaders shake down U.S taxpayers for international bailout money at the G-20 conference in April 2009. G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors asked the United States, the IMF’s largest contributor, for a whopping $108 billion to rescue bankers around the world and the Obama Administration quickly obliged.
Rather than pass it as stand-alone legislation, President Obama asked Congress to fold the $108 billion into a war-spending bill to send money to our troops.
It was clear such an approach would simply repeat the expensive mistake of the failed Wall Street bailouts with banks in other nations. Think of it as an international TARP plan, another massive rescue package rushed through with little planning or debate. That’s why I objected and offered an amendment to take it out of the war bill. But the Democrat Senate voted to keep the IMF bailout in the war spending bill. 64 senators voted for the bailout, 30 senators voted against it.
Only one year later, the IMF is sending nearly $40 billion to bailout Greece, the biggest bailout the IMF has ever enacted.
Right now, 17 percent of the IMF funding pool that the $40 billion bailout is being drawn from comes from U.S. taxpayers. If that ratio holds true, that means American taxpayers are paying for $6.8 billion of the Greek bailout. Although the $108 billion extra that Congress approved for the IMF in 2009 hasn’t yet gone into effect, you can bet that once it does Greek bankers will come to the IMF again with their hat in hand. And, if other European Union countries see free money up for grabs they could ask the IMF for bailouts when they get into trouble, too. If we’ve learned anything from the Wall Street bailouts it’s that just one bailout is never enough.
To hide the bailout from Americans already angry with the $700 billion bank bailout, Congress classified it as an “expanded credit line.” The Congressional Budget Office only scored it as $5 billion because IMF agreed to give the United States a promissory note for the rest of the bill.
As the Wall Street Journal wrote at the time, “If it costs so little, why not make it $200 billion. Or a trillion? It’s free!”
Of course, money isn’t free and there are member nations of the IMF that won’t be in a hurry to pay it back. Three state sponsors of terrorism, Iran, Syria and Sudan, are a part of the IMF. Iran participates in the IMF’s day-to-day activities as a member of its executive board.
If the failed bank bailout and stimulus bill wasn’t enough to prove to Americans the kind of misguided, destructive spending that goes on in Washington this will: The Democrat Congress, aided by a few Republicans, used a war spending bill to send bailout money to an international fund that’s partially-controlled by our enemies.
America can’t afford to bail out foreign countries with borrowed dollars from China and certainly shouldn’t allow state sponsors of terror a hand in that process.
This has to stop if we are going to survive as a nation. Congress won’t act stop such foolishness on its own. The only way Americans can stop this is by sending new people to Washington in November who will."
Sen. Jim DeMint is a Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina."
All I can say is GW was NOT holding it when it broke.
"Feds let BP avoid filing blowout plan for Gulf rig
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN and RICHARD T. PIENCIAK, Associated Press Writers
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"TWO Former IB CEOs Want Glass-Steagall Back
Wednesday, May 5. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Regulatory at 14:41
May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Former Merrill Lynch & Co. Chief Executive Officer David Komansky said he regrets promoting the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banks.
“Unfortunately, I was one of the people who led the charge to try to get Glass-Steagall repealed,” Komansky, 71, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. “I regret those activities and wish we hadn’t done that.”
John S. Reed, former co-chief executive officer of Citigroup Inc., also said in January that U.S. lawmakers were wrong to repeal Glass-Steagall.
Now do it Congress.
You were conned. We won't hold it against you - if you put it back now. If you pull the curtain down on Greenspan's meddling and your ex-post-facto legalization of his unlawful act of approving a merger he knew was illegal.
This is the solution to the problem and you know it.
It kept the banking system safe for 50 years.
It was 14 pages.
And you can put it back in force with one."
Found this linked on The Market Ticker.
"Here's What The Fed Is Doing To Kill The Audit, And Here's How You Can Stand Up To ThemMike "Mish" Shedlock | May. 4, 2010, 3:49 PM | 3,023 |
Source Business Insider
"A bill sponsored by Ron Paul and Alan Grayson to thoroughly audit the Fed, passed the House. However in a brazen move that ought to offend the sensibilities of every citizen, the Fed is lobbying Senate members to water down the bill so that it is meaningless.
The Huffington Post tells the story in Fed Privately Lobbying Against Audit.
The Federal Reserve is privately lobbying against a bipartisan Senate amendment that would open the central bank to an audit by the Government Accountability Office, according to documents distributed to Senate offices by a Fed official.
In order to obtain the documents, HuffPost agreed not to reveal the name of the Federal Reserve official who did the specific lobbying in question.
"As I mentioned, we believe that the bipartisan Corker-Merkley provision in the Dodd Bill is quite strong and addresses issues of transparency and disclosure without impinging on the independence of monetary policy," the official goes on.Merkley teamed with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on an audit provision, but Merkley himself says he'd prefer to go further. "I appreciate Representative [Alan] Grayson's concerns over accountability at the Federal Reserve. I have been a strong proponent of Fed reform and voted against the re-confirmation of Ben Bernanke because the Fed has been so lax in using its regulatory powers," Merkley said in a statement to HuffPost, responding to an analysis from Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) showing that the Senate bill did not meaningfully expand transparency.
Dodd Bill Would Allow Fed To Hide Its Spending
Inquiring minds are reading Dodd Bill Would Allow Fed To Hide Its Spending.
The Wall Street reform bill headed for a test vote on the Senate floor Monday night will allow the Federal Reserve to continue to pump trillions of dollars into major banks largely in secrecy, the co-author of House language that would open the central bank to an audit charged in a memo to the Senate.
"The Senate has a provision in its reform bill that purports to audit the Fed. But, it really doesn't do anything of the sort. I'm going to run down the details for you, and reprint the legislative language so you can read it yourself," writes Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).
It would not allow the GAO to look into the Fed's massive purchase of toxic assets, its hundreds of billions in foreign currency swaps with other central banks or its open market operations, among other restrictions.
Grayson and co-author Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) passed legislation through the House that would allow the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit the Federal Reserve and, after a delay, release the information to Congress. It was a remarkable victory, with a populist coalition beating back the combined lobbying efforts of the Treasury Department, the Fed and Wall Street banks. ....
What You Can Do
All you need to know is that if the Fed is for the Dodd bill or the Corker-Merkley provision, then you do not want either.
Please phone and fax your senators and tell them you want the Fed audited fully, and you do NOT want the watered down Dodd bill or the or the Corker-Merkley provision.
Tell them you do support the Grayson/Ron Paul bill exactly as passed by the house.
Here is a directory sorted by state of all the Senators of the 111th Congress.
You can also look up the phone numbers in the Online Directory For The 111th Congress but the first link may be easier to use for just senators.
Send A Message
Call, Email, and Fax Now!"
Tuesday, May 4. 2010
Posted by Karl Denninger in Macro Economics at 12:45
"Does Anyone Remember 1931?
"Redstone Arsenal: Two People Hurt In Explosion At Test Area 10
Explosion happened just before 8:45 a.m.
We knew the bus was cranked headed in the taxpayers' direction for the ultimate cost of cleanup and higher energy costs.
"Federal Law Could Limit BP's Liability Over Oil Spill
CHRIS KAHN | 05/ 3/10 06:28 PM |
Source The Huffington Post
NEW YORK — The oil spill spreading across the Gulf of Mexico has drained $32 billion from BP's stock market value. Lawsuits, fines, cleanup and reputation-repair are certain to cost the company billions more and could tie up BP for many years to come.
Yet the still-unfolding environmental disaster isn't likely to put one of the world's largest oil companies out of business.
BP PLC earned close to $40 billion in 2008 and 2009 combined, and more than $6 billion in the first three months of 2010.
Exxon Mobil – which shelled out more than $4 billion in cleanup costs and legal payouts after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago – managed to pull through the disaster just fine. Today it is the world's largest publicly traded oil company.
In the long run, BP will be fine too, said Mark Gilman, an analyst at The Benchmark Co.
"Let's not get hysterical here," he said. "They're going to survive this."
Still, London-based BP will face a litany of challenges as a result of last month's accident, not the least of which will be scrutiny from politicians and regulators in Washington. BP could find itself at a competitive disadvantage when vying for offshore drilling permits if the Obama administration moves ahead with plans to open vast swaths of the U.S. coast to oil exploration.
How much the disaster costs depends on how much worse the spill becomes, and how much fault is ultimately assigned to BP for the oil-rig explosion and fire that caused the spill. The oil company leased the offshore platform from Transocean Ltd. and hired subcontractors, including Halliburton Co., to help drill the well that is now spewing an estimated 200,000 gallons a day.
On Monday, BP gave assurances to shrimpers, oil workers and scores of others that they will be compensated for any "legitimate and objectively verifiable" claims.
BP is spending $6 million a day to contain the oil spill; the federal Oil Pollution Act requires BP to pay the cost of any cleanup work done by government agencies such as the Coast Guard and Homeland Security. But the real costs will come later, when BP starts paying for damage to wildlife, coastal businesses and tourism.
"The worst-case scenario is enormous," said Keith Hall, a New Orleans lawyer who represents oil and gas companies. "There are already a number of wrongful-death and personal injury cases out there. There will be no doubt more."
Fadel Gheit, a market analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., estimated that every day that oil seeps into the gulf, BP loses hundreds of millions of dollars in liability claims. Overall, Gheit estimated BP could pay anywhere between $5 billion and $15 billion for the cleanup, damage claims and lawsuits.
Federal law sets a $75 million limit how much an oil company has to pay for damages such as lost wages and economic suffering. But lawyers said the cap can be lifted if BP is found to have failed to meet federal safeguards or was otherwise grossly negligent.
People can also pursue claims in state court and file for damages through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which was established after the Exxon Valdez. The fund, which collects 8 cents from the industry for every barrel of oil produced or imported to the U.S., has about $1.6 billion available to cover damages.
BP, the largest oil and gas producer in the U.S., has been blamed for a number of big accidents in the past decade.
_ An explosion at a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, in 2005 killed 15 people and injured 170. Regulators in October hit BP with a record $87 million fine for failing to correct safety hazards at the plant. BP is contesting the fine.
_ More than 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline in Alaska in March 2006, the largest-ever spill on Alaska's North Slope. BP paid about $20 million in fines.
Now, a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in New Orleans blames BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron International Corp. – a maker of rig equipment – for faulty behavior before and after the April 20 accident.
BP has pointed the finger at its partners. CEO Tony Hayward – who took over BP after the Texas City blast – said Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that a failure of Transocean's equipment led to the spill.
David Kotok, chief investment officer of the Sarasota, Fla., money-management firm Cumberland Advisors, said early predictions are likely to understate the fallout from the disaster. Neither the 1969 Santa Barbara, Calif., offshore oil spill nor the Exxon Valdez is a useful comparison because the current slick could be much bigger and harder to contain.
"We're looking at maybe two to three months" of oil flowing into the gulf, he said. "The devastation is huge. This is like Three Mile Island."
Experts say the green image the company cultivated in its advertisements is vulnerable. Market researcher Eileen Campbell valued BP's brand at $17.3 billion, mostly because of its interest in the environment. BP invests in biofuels, wind and solar energy, and it supports capping carbon emissions.
The spill will probably make it tougher for BP to expand in U.S. waters, analysts say.
"BP is under watch now," Gheit said. "They may not be welcome in the area. So if I'm going to issue a permit for BP to drill a well, I'm going to take a much closer look at them."
AP Business Writer David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report."
"Usama Bin Laden Is Living Comfortably in Iran, Documentary AssertsBy Ed Barnes - FOXNews.com
"Usama bin Laden gets up each morning in his dark, damp cave in northern Pakistan, gripped by fear, listening carefully for the telltale sound of a drone that is searching for him...
Usama bin Laden gets up each morning in his dark, damp cave in northern Pakistan, gripped by fear, listening carefully for the telltale sound of a drone that is searching for him. His isolation is almost complete. Only a few trusted associates know where he is, and they visit rarely -- bringing food and news, but careful not to fall into a routine. There is no radio or other electronic device whose signal might be followed. He can’t go out in daytime for fear of satellites. It is a grim, lonely existence.
At least, that is the picture that has emerged of the life of the world’s most wanted man since he fled Tora Bora in 2001. ......"
"Oil Spill: Here's The Inside Scoop
"The Gulf oil spill is much worse than originally believed.
As the Christian Science Monitor writes:
It's now likely that the actual amount of the oil spill dwarfs the Coast Guard's figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.
Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.
CNN quotes the lead government official responding to the spill - the commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen - as stating:
If we lost a total well head, it could be 100,000 barrels or more a day.
Indeed, an environmental document filed by the company running the oil drilling rig - BP - estimates the maximum as 162,000 barrels a day:
In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a “worst-case scenario” at the Deepwater Horizon site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout — 6.8 million gallons each day.
BP is trying to perform a difficult task of capping the leak by using robotic submarines to trigger a "blowout preventer" 5,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. Here's a photo of the robot trying to activate the switch on April 22nd:
(courtesy of the US Coast Guard)
If successful, the leak could be stopped any day. Everyone is rooting for the engineers, so that they may successfully cap the leak.
Already, however, the spill is worse than the Exxon Valdez, and will cause enormous and very costly destruction to the shrimping, fishing and tourism industries along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Florida. It will be years before good estimates on the number of dead fish, turtles, birds and other animals can be made.
The Backup Plan
If the blowout preventer can't be triggered, the backup plan is to drill another well to relieve pressure from the leaking well.
Here's a drawing prepared by BP showing the plan (the drilling rig on the left will take months to drill down and relieve pressure from the leaking rig):
Here's a graphic from the Times-Picayune showing the same thing (and accurately showing that there are currently 3 leaking oil plumes):
BP will also attempt to drop concrete and metal "cages" over the leak sites, to try to buy time by collecting oil in the cages, and then draining oil away in a safer manner. In addition, BP is using chemical disperents to try to break up the oil plumes as they arise.
As the Associated Press notes:
Experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic.
This would, in fact, be very bad, as it would carry oil far up the Eastern seaboard.
Specifically, as the red arrows at the left of the following drawing show, the Gulf Stream runs from Florida up the Eastern Coast of the United States:
[Click here for full image.]
But how could the oil get all the way from Louisiana to Florida, where the Gulf Stream flows?
As Discovery explains:
Many ocean scientists are now raising concerns that a powerful current could spread the still-bubbling slick from the Florida Keys all the way to Cape Hatteras off North Carolina.
These oceanographers are carefully watching the Gulf Loop Current, a clockwise swirl of warm water that sets up in the Gulf of Mexico each spring and summer. If the spill meets the loop -- the disaster becomes a runaway.
"It could make it from Louisiana all the way to Miami in a week, maybe less." said Eric Chassignet, director of the Center for Ocean Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University. "It is pretty fast."
Right now, some computer models show the spill 30 to 50 miles north of the loop current. If the onshore winds turn around and push the oil further south: "That would be a nightmare," said Yonggang Liu, research associate at the University of South Florida who models the current. "Hopefully we are lucky, but who knows. The winds are changing and difficult to predict."
Imagine the loop current as an ocean-going highway, transporting tiny plankton, fish and other marine life along a watery conveyor belt. Sometimes it even picks up a slug of freshwater from the Mississippi River -- sending it on a wandering journey up to North Carolina.
The Gulf Loop Current acts like a jet of warm water that squirts in from the Caribbean basin and sloshes around the Gulf of Mexico before being squeezed out the Florida Strait, where it joins the larger and more powerful Gulf Stream current.
Oceanographer George Maul worries that the current could push the oil slick right through the Florida Keys and its 6,000 coral reefs.
"I looked at some recent satellite imagery and it looks like some of the oil may be shifted to the south," said Maul, a professor at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. "If it gets entrained in the loop, it could spread throughout much of the Atlantic."
In fact, new animation from a consortium of Florida institutions and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, predicts a slight southward shift in the oil over the next few days.
A graphic from the Discovery article shows what the Gulf loop current looks like:
According to ROFFS, the oil spill is getting close to the loop current:
In a worst-case scenario - if the oil leak continued for a very long period of time - the oil could conceivably be carried from the Gulf Stream into world-wide ocean currents (see drawing above).
I do not believe this will happen. Even with the staggering quantity of oil being released, I don't think it's enough to make its way into other ocean currents. I think that either engineers will figure out how to cap the leak, or the oil deposits will simply run out. It might get into the Gulf loop current, and some might get into the Gulf Stream. But I don't believe the apocalyptic scenarios where oil is carried world-wide by teh Gulf Stream or other ocean currents.
Changing the Climate
There is an even more dramatic - but even less likely - scenario.
Specifically, global warming activists have warned for years that warming could cause the "great conveyor belt" of warm ocean water to shut down. They say that such a shut down could - in turn - cause the climate to abruptly change, and a new ice age to begin. (This essay neither tries to endorse or refute global warming or global cooling in general: I am focusing solely on the oil spill.)
The drawing above shows the worldwide "great conveyer belt" of ocean currents, which are largely driven by the interaction of normal ocean water with colder and saltier ocean currents.
Conceivably - if the oil spill continued for years - the greater thickness or "viscosity" of the oil in comparison to ocean water, or the different ability of oil and seawater to hold warmth (called "specific heat"), could interfere with the normal temperature and salinity processes which drive the ocean currents, and thus shut down the ocean currents and change the world's climate.
However, while this is an interesting theory (and could make for a good novel or movie), it simply will not happen.
Because there simply is not enough oil in the leaking oil pocket to interfere with global ocean currents. And even if this turns out to be a much bigger oil pocket than geologists predict, some smart engineer will figure out how to cap the leak well before any doomsday scenario could possibly happen."
"Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill
By Ben Raines
May 03, 2010, 12:09PM
Just watched this report on tv ...... absolutely outstanding reporting, excellent video. Just maybe this report will shake Washington enough to seal the border.
"Terrorist Threat On Border With Mexico
"Costly IRS Mandate Slipped into Health Bill
"Most people know about the individual mandate in the new health care bill, but the bill contained another mandate that could be far more costly.
A few wording changes to the tax code’s section 6041 regarding 1099 reporting were slipped into the 2000-page health legislation. The changes will force millions of businesses to issue hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of additional IRS Form 1099s every year. It appears to be a costly, anti-business nightmare.
Under current law, businesses are required to issue 1099s in a limited set of situations, such as when paying outside consultants. The health care bill includes a vast expansion in this information reporting requirement in an attempt to raise revenue for an increasingly rapacious Congress.
In a recent summary, tax information firm RIA notes the types of transactions covered by the new 1099 rules:
The 2010 Health Care Act adds “amounts in consideration for property” (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act §9006(b)(1)) and “gross proceeds” (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act §9006(b)(2)) to the pre-2010 Health Care Act categories of payments for which an information return to IRS will be required if the $600 aggregate payment threshold is met in a tax year for any one payee. Thus, Congress says that for payments made after 2011, the term “payments” includes gross proceeds paid in consideration for property or services.
Basically, businesses will have to issue 1099s whenever they do more than $600 of business with another entity in a year. For the $14 trillion U.S. economy, that’s a hell of a lot of 1099s. When a business buys a $1,000 used car, it will have to gather information on the seller and mail 1099s to the seller and the IRS. When a small shop owner pays her rent, she will have to send a 1099 to the landlord and IRS. Recipients of the vast flood of these forms will have to match them with existing accounting records. There will be huge numbers of errors and mismatches, which will probably generate many costly battles with the IRS.
Tax CPA Chris Hesse of LeMaster Daniels tells me:
Under the health legislation, the IRS could be receiving billions of more documents. Under current law, businesses send Forms 1099 for payments of rent, interest, dividends, and non-employee services when such payments are to entities other than corporations. Under the new law, businesses will be required to send a 1099 to other businesses for virtually all purchases. And for the first time, 1099s are to be sent to corporations. This is a huge new imposition on American business, costing the private economy much more than any additional tax that the IRS might collect as a result.
There appears to have been little discussion before this damaging mandate was slipped into the health bill and rammed through Congress, but a few business groups did raise concerns. Here’s what the Air Conditioner Contractors of America said:
The House bill would extend the Form 1099 filing requirement to ALL vendors (including corporate) to which they pay more than $600 annually for services or property. Consider all the payments a small business makes in the course of business, paying for things such as computers, software, office supplies, and fuel to services, including janitorial services, coffee services, and package delivery services.
In order to file all these 1099s, you’ll need to collect the necessary information from all your service providers. In order to comply with the law, you would have to get a Taxpayer Information Number or TIN from the business. If the vendor does not supply you with a TIN, you are obligated to withhold on your payments.
Private transactions are the core of a market economy, and the source of America’s growth and prosperity. Now the federal government is imposing a vast new web of red tape on perhaps billions of these growth-generating private exchanges.
For what purpose? So the spendthrift Congress can shake a few extra bucks out of private industry? The business sector is the generator of America’s high living standards, but most federal legislators just see it as a kitty to be raided or a cow to be milked dry.
I’m stunned that there wasn’t a broader debate before such a costly mandate was enacted. If it goes into effect, it will waste vast quantities of human effort in filling out forms, reworking computer systems, collecting and organizing data, and fighting the IRS. The struggling American economy can’t afford anymore suffocating tax regulations. This mandate is a giant deadweight loss. It should be repealed."
"Quantifying The IMF's Ability To Bail Out The WorldBy Tyler Durden
Created 05/02/2010 - 04:08
Source Zero Hedge
"Today is D-Day for Europe, and soon, the world. Shortly, the IMF will take its historic place as the cash cop of last resort, a post traditionally reserved for the Federal Reserve, which incidentally was rumored to have activated its FX currency swaps with European banks last week (whether or not that is true will be disclosed by next week's H.4.1). This action will open a floodgate of consequences, as every semi-bankrupt country forces itself into a spending frenzy to guarantee that it is truly bankruptcy, no ifs about it, and qualifies for IMF (and thus 20% US) aid. And at that point the politics of a US-funded world bailout really will come to the fore. Because while the Fed bailing out America is one thing due to the Fed's untouchable and unsupervisable status, the IMF, as a corporation, does not share the same "above the law" privileges. And in an election year, with Americans slowly realizing that the fate of the world is truly in their hands, and their tax money is being involuntarily taken away from them as we speak yet again, ahead of midterm elections, all bets are off. For those interested in the actual mechanics of the IMF rescue mechanisms available, as well as some of the political implications likely to follow, here is an overview via Bank Of Countrywide Lynch.
IMF Lending Capacity (Jeffrey Rosenberg )
The IMF has nearly $250 bn in lending capacity currently available. To lend beyond that, the IMF needs consent of participants representing 80 percent of total credit arrangements in their backstop lending facility – the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB). While legislative approval is not required in some countries, it is required in others. In either case, it would be a politically sensitive issue in any non-European country to support the peripheral European countries, especially if this comes on heels of Germany rejecting the aid proposals for Greece next week.
The IMF primarily funds itself through payments of quotas from member countries based on their relative sizes in the world economy. Currently, these quotas total SDR 217 billion (SDR or special drawing rights, is an international reserve asset created by the IMF and is based on a basket of four currencies), or $328 billion. Additionally, the IMF supplements quota subscriptions through two credit arrangements between the IMF and a group of member countries – New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) and General Arrangements to Borrow (GAB). The GAB enables the IMF to borrow from participant countries, or their central banks, under certain circumstances at marketrelated interest rates.The NAB is used as a credit facility intended to backstop quota resources, and was recently approved to be expanded to nearly $550 billion from 38 participants, up from $50 billion and 26 participants earlier. Until the expansion goes into effect, the additional lending amounts are available as bilateral agreements, which would eventually be folded into the multilateral (According to a recent IMF conference call, since the NAB is a multilateral loan framework, the IMF usually draws upon it on a proportionate basis to member commitments) expanded NAB.
In reality, the amount the IMF has readily available for new lending is primarily determined by the one-year forward commitment capacity (though this figure is not a rigid maximum). The amount equals usable resources, including unused amounts under loan and note purchase agreements, plus projected loan repayments over the subsequent twelve months, less the resources that have already been committed under existing lending arrangements, less a prudential balance (The prudential balance is an amount set aside to safeguard members’ quotas and claims, also taking into consideration potential erosion of the IMF’s resource base. The prudential balance is set at 20% of member’s quotas used and any amounts activated under NAB and GAB). Currently, the one-year forward capacity stands at SDR 165 billion, or $248 billion.
Spreading the Political Risk Beyond Europe
The lack of a ready liquidity support mechanism for sovereigns in Europe highlights the importance of the IMF in the Greek bailout. Absent the ability or willingness of member states to extend bilateral loans to Greece, the IMF would
be the only support available, in our view. While its current facilities are of sufficient size, the much larger NAB facilities both are not yet operational and in our view require significant political support to execute. Given that the US represents nearly 20% of the total IMF lending capacity (both current and NAB), the failure of Europe to agree to support Greece would shift that political debate to the US and elsewhere.
Until an actual EU/IMF/Greece agreement has been reached and approved in all relevant countries – including by the parliament in some - uncertainty remains elevated in financial markets. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and AIG all faced shorter time lines at the end of their crises. The abbreviated time line in financial crises stems from the instability of funding. In the case of Greece, that instability may come from what is otherwise regarded as a source of funding stability – deposits. Under normal circumstances, government guarantee schemes generally support stable deposit bases but these are clearly not ordinary circumstances. This week the risk of restructuring – a Greek sovereign default – roiled financial markets.
Whether this concern spreads to depositors in domestic Greek banks will determine whether time will have finally run out on an EU brokered liquidity bailout. Absent that, the IMF stands as the only viable source of funds to avoid further spillover to systemic risk, in our view. And while they currently have enough capacity to fulfill this role, they would likely need to tap the NAB to enable them to support the broader periphery of Europe’s financing needs in a worst case scenario. Such an outcome would test the NAB and the political willingness of a much broader group of countries to support the fiscal deficit challenges of Europe.
The Bank Run
Much has been said over the ongoing Greek bank run by depositors. Some (RBS) did not believe us. They are now stuck holding bonds about 20% lower from where they could have sold them had they listened to us instead of mocking us. But that seems to be a recurring theme. We harbor no ill will toward the nationalized and failed banking institution. Yet, once again we are reminded that once a cascade of events is in motion, depositors, no matter what the level of assurances, simply refuse to keep their money in a banking system in troble. And while Greece is now done, and reliant on the ECB to collateralize its junk-rated sovereign debt, the spotlight now shifts to Spain, Portugal and Italy: are deposit redemptions in those 3 countries approaching the level seen in Greece? Stay tuned and find out. In the meantime, as the TimesOnline reports, Europe has, too late, discovered that by the time the liquidity cascade begins, it is far too late.
Central bankers are also working on a separate scheme to stop Greek banks from succumbing to a run on their funds.
The European Central Bank plans to introduce a new emergency liquidity scheme as part of the wider bailout of the country, said sources close to the talks.
Greek banks have suffered a huge outflow of corporate deposits in recent weeks, reducing their financial strength, according to senior bankers.
The scheme would allow the banks to post junk-rated Greek government bonds as collateral in exchange for emergency loans. It will require a change in the European Central Bank's rules: at present it allows only government bonds with a high credit rating to be used in its emergency lending facilities."
 http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/Bofa IMF.jpg
"Is It Obama's Fault?
"Tonight I was listening to Hugh Hewitt as I drove to the grocery store, and got so engrossed that I missed my exit. What was so interesting? Hugh was arguing that the Obama administration failed to respond promptly to the oil spill in the Gulf, and that its belated response was inadequate.
Is that a fair charge? Normally, I would be slow to blame government at any level for a natural (or, as here, man-made) disaster. But the basic facts are curious: the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 21, nine days ago. This was no minor event; at least 11 workers were killed. The resulting oil slick has been evident, covering many miles, for some days now. Yet the federal response lagged.
There is a basic difference between this incident and Hurricane Katrina, to which it is being compared. In the case of Katrina, the primary responsibility for disaster response lay with the local and state governments. The local response was very poor; among other things, the governor of Louisiana was slow to call out the National Guard. Here, responsibility lay with the Obama administration from the beginning. State and local governments have no jurisdiction and no ability to deal with an oil spill miles out to sea. Only the federal government can act. It didn't, until, perhaps, it was too late.
Should more have been done, sooner? It is way too early to tell. The facts will emerge over the next several years. But the Obama administration's response does seem to have been oddly slow. Today, efforts to contain the spill have been hampered by high winds and choppy seas.
High winds and choppy seas frustrated efforts to hold back the oil spill seeping into Louisiana's rich fishing grounds and nesting areas Friday, and the government desperately cast about for new ideas for dealing with the nation's biggest environmental crisis in decades. ...
The seas were too rough and the winds too strong Friday to burn off the oil, suck it up effectively with skimmer vessels, or hold it in check with the miles of orange and yellow inflatable booms strung along the coast.
The floating barriers broke loose in the choppy water, and waves sent oily water lapping over them.
But what if these efforts had been made three or four days ago, when the oil slick was smaller and farther out to sea? It may turn out that the Obama administration's mysterious slowness in swinging into action was a critical failure that resulted in far greater environmental and economic damage.
So far, the Obama administration seems to have focused more on passing the buck than on containing the oil spill. The administration has told us, over and over, that British Petroleum is responsible for the accident and ultimately will pay the bills. Perhaps so. But those of us who have worked in the civil justice system for many years are well aware of the uncertainty of such predictions. More fundamentally, it is absurd for Barack Obama and Eric Holder to claim that the damage caused by this oil spill is of little concern because someday, British Petroleum may write a number of checks. Animals will be killed, livelihoods of fishermen and others will be destroyed, beaches will be fouled, untold damage will be done. The federal government has the unique responsibility to prevent that damage, if it can. Hoping to collect damages years later is hardly an adequate substitute.
It is too early to tell how extensive the damage will be, or to what extent the Obama administration failed to carry out its most basic duties. All we can say for the moment is that serious questions have been raised.
UPDATE: Oddly, the New York Times is documenting the Obama administration's failures:
BP officials said they did everything possible, and a review of the response suggests it may be too simplistic to place all the blame on the oil company. The federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly, but did not do so while it waited for a resolution to the spreading spill from BP, which was leasing the drilling rig that exploded in flames on April 20 and sank two days later. ...
The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was "a spill of national significance," and then set up a second command center in Mobile. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day.
The delay meant that the Homeland Security Department waited until late this week to formally request a more robust response from the Department of Defense, with Ms. Napolitano acknowledging even as late as Thursday afternoon that she did not know if the Defense Department even had equipment that might be helpful.
Officials initially seemed to underestimate the threat of a leak, just as BP did last year when it told the government such an event was highly unlikely."
"Eleven Days Late
"Earlier today, Janet Napolitano appointed Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen to coordinate the federal response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That's great, but the oil rig blew up eleven days ago, on April 20. In the meantime, the oil slick has tripled in size over the last two days and is approaching the Gulf coast. Now there is speculation that the oil could make its way all the way to the Atlantic. President Obama, reversing an earlier announcement, made hasty plans to visit the Gulf tomorrow.
The Obama administration's slow-footed response to the disaster threatens to become a major political problem, as the spill itself threatens to turn into one of the worst environmental disasters ever. You're doing a heck of a job, Napolitanie! "
"Health freedom alert: Congressman Waxman sneaks anti-vitamin amendment into Wall Street reform billby Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
"Mark’s (Levin) Exclusive Interview with a Survivor from the Oil Rig Explosion
Article below video ..... very plain language so be advised.
Found this take interesting, even citing SOCUS rulings.
'Sedition' Is Constitutional
Source American Thinker
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
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