Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not everybody is blind to D.C.'s bumbling gasbags

"We have a permanently unpopular and irreparably out-of-touch Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – shamelessly pandering to an uninformed electorate – wasting taxpayer dollars treating private citizen CEOs like convicted felons – investigating everyone but themselves. It was they who passed legislation promoting sub prime mortgages and the latest ‘stimulus’ package which provided for the bonuses.

We have a populist President – in his own words – “channeling our anger in a constructive way”. His idea of “constructive” demeans his role as the leader of all Americans – specifically: his unnecessary divisive remarks that treat all people of wealth as greedy; his broadside attacks on excessive executive compensation as if all CEOs in Corporate America are overpaid; his sweeping, counterproductive vilification of Wall Street’s “excessive greed” – combined with his terribly misguided advice to young folks not to pursue careers there; and, his constant, classless whining about the mess he inherited and his predecessor’s mistakes. He says he is angry about all of the above, yet sees no problem in incurring the wrath of sensible Americans by running up trillion dollar deficits."


Obama's toxic asset transfer plan is itself toxic

"In his review of the Geithner-Summers Plan to remove toxic assets from the banks, NY Times columnist Joe Nocera writes (March 28, p. B8), "As for the complaint that it will make rich guys richer, well, you can't win 'em all." If Nocera had looked at alternatives that many of us have been suggesting and if he still concluded that helping rich guys get richer was the only conceivable strategy, his attitude might be acceptable. But he does no such thing. He did not explore alternatives. Nor did he explain to his readers that the taxpayer transfers to make "rich guys richer" could amount to tens, or hundreds, of billions of dollars of the public's money, massive transfers that are avoidable.

Geithner and Summers are proposing to use government loans to finance investors to buy toxic assets. This is fine. The question is the terms. If the loans were going to large and well-capitalized investment funds, whose overall capital base would back the repayment of the government loans, the plan would have merit of providing liquidity to the market for toxic assets. Instead, the government loans by design will go to poorly capitalized special investment funds set up specially to buy toxic assets. The approach is tailor-made to leave the FDIC and Fed with massive losses. Since the taxpayer losses will be hidden on the balance sheets of the FDIC and Fed, the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer losses will not be recognized until the program is long forgotten by the public."

Wagoner firing is sideshow to cover for mistakes

"Firing Rick Wagoner is a sideshow to distract us from the fact that the administration has no progress to announce today. The administration is hoping the media and the public will stay focused on Wagoner and fail to notice that negotiations have not progressed since December.

The administration is pursuing much of what we pushed for in December, but the delay of several months has increased the severity and sent billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain. Now any investment is likely unrecoverable and we are putting more and more jobs at the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and the supply chain at risk in a politically charged environment.

With sweeping new power the White House will be deciding which plants will survive and which won't, so in essence, this administration has decided they know better than our courts and our free market process how to deal with these companies."


Monday, March 30, 2009

What if government stands behind car warranties?

See the result at:


Coming soon: U. S. Dept.of Sadness Remediation

"The U.S. government is set to offer an online emotional rescue kit!

"Getting Through Tough Economic Times" will launch Tuesday with a media push across all platforms.

The site is meant to help people identify health concerns related to financial worries.

The feds will warn of depression, suicidal thinking and other serious mental illnesses. It will raise warning flags for: Persistent sadness/crying; Excessive anxiety; Lack of sleep/constant fatigue; Excessive irritability/anger.

The guide will be available starting at midnight at http://www.samhsa.gov/economy."


Pick for Navy chief taped marital talk with priest

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s nominee for secretary of the Navy was involved in a divorce that drew national attention for his secret taping of a conversation between his wife and his family priest that he used against her in court proceedings.

The nominee, Ray Mabus, is a former governor of Mississippi and a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and he served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Mr. Mabus, a Democrat, was a strong supporter of Mr. Obama in the campaign last year.

In 1998, as Mr. Mabus and his wife, Julie (now Julie Hines), sought to work out their marital problems, he surreptitiously recorded a meeting the couple had with the Rev. Jerry McBride, a mutual friend.


Obama the narcissist launches command economy

The narcissist in the White House is hitting his stride. Having peddled the credit collapse as a cataclysmic event, he bull-rushed Congress into enactment of a multi-trillion rescue plan, some of it unread. Then he fired Rick Wagoner as chairman and CEO of General Motors. Shortly, he will embark to the G20 conference in London, accompanied by 500 coconspirators in the Adoration-of-Obama administration.

All eyes are on Obama, which is exactly what Obama seeks.

We can't say we weren't warned. As a state senator in Illinois, Obama used "present," instead of yea or nay, as his default position on run-of-the-mill legislation. Narcissists have no interest in legislation or events that do not help them achieve their personal objectives.

Al Sina, a pen name, has written that Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review "led to a contract and an advance to write a book about race relations.

"Instead of writing a scholarly paper focusing on race relations, for which he had been paid, Obama could not resist writng about his most sublime self. He titled the book, "Dreams from my Father."

Traditionally, GM and other car makers have tailored their cars to the desires of the buyers. From now on, General Motors will attempt to achieve by propaganda what the climate change fanatics have failed to achieve by argument.

GM plants will build small "green" cars; it will be up to the revamped sales and advertising forces to sell those cars.

The consumer economy is out. The command economy is riding into view, with Barack (Alexander the Great) Obama in the lead.

Sina: "Narcissists project a grandiose, but false, image of themselves. Jim Jones, the charismatic leader of People's Temple, the man who led over 900 of his followers to cheerfully commit mass suicide and even murder their own children was also a narcissist. Charles Manson, Joseph Koni,, Shoko Asahara, Joe Stalin, Saddam, Mao Zedong, Kim Jon Il, and Adolph Hitler are a few examples of narcissists of our time."

"One must never underestimate the manipulative genius of pathological narcissists. They project such an imposing personality that it overwhelsm those around them. Charmed by the charisma of the narcisist, people become like clay in his hands. They cheerfully do his bidding and delight to be at his service. The narcissist shapes the world around him and reduces others in his own inverted image. He creates a cult of personality; his admirers become his co-dependents."

Al Sina is the pseudonym of the founder of Faith Freedom International, a secular website that is critical of Islam.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Obama and Dems spending $1 billion an hour

"FOR a guy who talks so much about wanting a new era of re sponsibility, President Obama spends an awful lot of time blaming Republicans for all the wild and reckless spending he crammed into his own budget.

After running a campaign against the $1 trillion deficit he "inherited" from President Bush and the Republicans, Obama quickly matched it. During his first 50 days in office, he and his Democratic-controlled Congress spent $1 billion an hour.

Under Obama's proposed budget, the overall national debt doubles in five years and triples in 10.

Not exactly "moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest," as he promised."


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Did Canadacare kill Natasha Richardson?

"Richardson died of an epidural hematoma -- a bleeding artery between the skull and brain that compresses and ultimately causes fatal brain damage via pressure buildup. With prompt diagnosis by CT scan, and surgery to drain the blood, most patients survive.

Could Richardson have received this care? Where it happened in Canada, no. In many US resorts, yes."


Eight states preparing to flee the Obamanation

"Eight state legislatures have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and 10th amendments to the U.S. Constitution; they include Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington. There's speculation that they will be joined by Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania."


Rahm Emanuel was director when Freddie Mac board was tipped to fraudulent bonus scheme

"On (Rahm) Emanuel's watch, the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass.

The accounting scandal wasn't the only one that brewed during Emanuel's tenure.

During his brief time on the board, the company hatched a plan to enhance its political muscle. That scheme, also reviewed by the board, led to a record $3.8 million fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago.

The board was throttled for its acquiescence to the accounting manipulation in a 2003 report by Armando Falcon Jr., head of a federal oversight agency for Freddie Mac. The scandal forced Freddie Mac to restate $5 billion in earnings and pay $585 million in fines and legal settlements. It also foreshadowed even harder times at the firm.

Many of those same risky investment practices tied to the accounting scandal eventually brought the firm to the brink of insolvency and led to its seizure last year by the Bush administration, which pledged to inject up to $100 billion in new capital to keep the firm afloat. The Obama administration has doubled that commitment."


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diagram of Obamaspeak looks like a street map


Politicians filibluster the economic crisis

"Americans clearly cannot trust their elected officials to defend their rights and interests, or care whether justice is served, when the slightest political risk might attach to doing so."


Voters: grow economy or we'll find someone else

"While the current focus on Timothy Geithner, the Treasury, and the financial markets is understandable - this will probably not be the script of the broader political battle over the next 20 months. Assuming that the financial system is brought under control, the political debate will focus relentlessly on recession and recovery. Though the Administration, the CBO and the Blue Chip forecasters project modest growth in 2010 (ranging from 1.9% to 3.0%), all of them expect high unemployment (7.9% to 9.1%) and an economy performing below peak capacity. If these predictions are true - the corresponding public dissatisfaction will define the campaign of 2010, and the legislative battles that precede it.

Both sides will struggle to pin blame for the weak economy on the other. Republicans will indict President Obama, arguing that his policies failed to improve things. President Obama will remind voters of the previous administration, arguing that congressional Republicans advocate the same policies that brought about the recession. The public lacks the technical expertise to arbitrate based on the merits - so the outcome will depend in part on how bad the economy actually is (the worse it is, the worse for President Obama), and which side shows the greatest political acumen.

If you find this to be a dispiriting commentary on democratic accountability, think of it this way. Electoral justice might be rough, but it's also consistent: bad economies mean electoral defeat for somebody. Thus, those who are still in office when the dust settles learn a valuable lesson: grow the economy, or next time it could be you. In the long run, the public gets what it wants - a government dedicated first and foremost to growth."


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Zogby poll has Obama's approval rating at 50 %

"The honeymoon is over, a national poll will signal today as President Obama’s job approval stumbles to about 50 percent over the lack of improvement with the crippled economy.

The sobering numbers come as the president backpedals from two prime-time gaffes - one comparing his bowling score to a Special Olympian and another awkwardly laughing about the economy, which prompted Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” to ask “are you punch-drunk?”

Pollster John Zogby said his poll out today will show Americans split on the president’s performance. He said the score factors out to “about 50-50.”


Oregon ruse rids work force of non-hispanics

PC Gone Wild [John Derbyshire]

This 36-second video clip is going round the web. It's from a Fox News broadcast. In case you can't play it, here is my transcription. A single studio newscater is reading the story into the camera.


Well, there is an urgent need for firefighters in the West to battle about two dozen major wildfires. The Denver channel dot-com [?] reports that many of the new recruits are Hispanics who speak only Spanish, and in Oregon that means that some of the supervisors who speak only English are being laid off or demoted, because in Oregon a crew boss is required to be able to speak the language of the firefighters, even if it's only one worker on a twenty-person crew.

The state says the rule is necessary for safety reasons. So why not require the workers to speak English? The state has no clear answer on that.
[Me] Just when you think political correctness can't possibly get any crazier, it gets crazier. Is there any end to this lunacy?


The bad guys are the ones with the whistles

"We are not yet a banana republic, though that is the direction in which some of our politicians are taking us-- especially those politicians who make a lot of noise about "compassion" and "social justice."

What makes this all the more painfully ironic is that it is precisely those members of Congress who have had the most to do with creating the risks that led to the current economic crisis who are making the most noise against others, and summoning people before their committee to be browbeaten and humiliated on nationwide television."


Monday, March 23, 2009

Chinese sell us condoms, taxpayers get screwed

Talk about symmetry.

The U.S. government is going to start buying condoms from China, leaving homegrown manufacturers deflated.

This will provide the Chinese a new source of U.S. dollars, which the Obama administration obviously hopes they will use to buy more U.S bonds to finance Obama's huge borrowing plans.

Down the line, both the dollar and the condoms will inflate.

But it is U.S. taxpayers who will get screwed.

Obama's AG blocks cops seeking trial of Bill Ayers

"Allegations that presidential pal Bill Ayers was involved in the murder of a San Francisco policeman appear to be running into something of a gag order from at the Department of Justice.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Justice Department and the San Francisco Police Department have contacted the San Francisco Police Officers Association and told them not to talk about the Ayers case.

Boy, that was fast!

Cliff Kincaid's March 12 National Press Club press conference apparently hit a nerve.

As mentioned in the AT article of Wednesday, March 18, the Police Association had sent out a letter of support to Kincaid and his Campaign for Justice for Victims of Weather Underground Terrorism, observing:

There are irrefutable and compelling reasons to believe that Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, members of the terrorist group 'Weather Underground', are largely responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station and other police stations throughout the United States during their 'tour of terror' in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

And asking that:

...every possible effort be made to bring all evidence concerning this crime and all other crimes of urban terrorism perpetrated by the ‘Weather Underground' against the police officers of our great country to the forefront in a court of law."


Bailed out JPMorgan Chase bank is flying high

"Embattled bank JPMorgan Chase, the recipient of $25 billion in TARP funds, is going ahead with a $138 million plan to buy two new luxury corporate jets and build "the premiere corporate aircraft hangar on the eastern seaboard" to house them, ABC News has learned.

The recipient of $25 billion in TARP money plans to buy two new corporate jets.The financial giant's upgrade includes nearly $120 million for two Gulfstream 650 planes and $18 million for a lavish renovation of a hangar at the Westchester Airport outside New York City.

A public hearing will be held by Westchester County officials tonight regarding JPMorgan's request for new hangar space.

According to JPMorgan Chase architects, the new hangar will be built with reclaimed wood, quarry tile and even a "vegetated roof garden."

The Gulfstream 650's are described by the manufacturer as the "fastest," "widest" and "most comfortable" private jet ever with superior cabin amenities, an optional stateroom, and 12 interior designs to choose from."


Sunday, March 22, 2009

60 Minutes asks Obama: "Are you punch drunk?"

"President Barack Obama said he believes the global financial system remains at risk of implosion with the failure of Citigroup or AIG, touching off “an even more destructive recession and potentially depression.”

His remarks came in a “60 Minutes” interview in which he was pressed by an incredulous Steve Kroft for laughing and chuckling several times while discussing the perilous state of the world’s economy.

“You're sitting here. And you're— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, "I mean, he's sitting there just making jokes about money—” How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asks at one point:

'Are you punch drunk?'"


The wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, with revisions

I rise to ask permission to revise and extend famous remarks made by Abraham Lincoln, the former president most admired by President-for-the-time-being Barack Obama:

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time...In truth, however, all of this is of no consequence because you only need to fool a majority of the people one time."

Dollar weakens, raising the cost of imports to U.S.

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar dropped the most against the currencies of six major U.S. trading partners since the Plaza Accord almost a quarter-century ago as the Federal Reserve’s plan to purchase Treasuries spurred speculation that it’s debasing the greenback.

“What it introduces is the problem of the currency to the extent that the Fed is buying what isn’t desired by foreign holders,” said Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., in an interview on Bloomberg Television on March 19. “The Fed can keep interest rates where they want to keep them, at least for a 6- to 12- to 18-month period of time, but it will have consequences down the road.”

The U.S. currency weakened beyond $1.37 per euro this week for the first time since January as the central bank’s decision to increase its balance sheet by $1.15 trillion lowered yields, making American assets less attractive. The Norwegian krone and the New Zealand dollar rallied as the Fed’s move spurred advances in commodities.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

3,000 rally in Orlando protest against Obamanomics

ORLANDO -- Thousands gathered at the amphitheater along Lake Eola for a Boston Tea Party-style protest against President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan.

Police estimated about 3,000 people attended the rally against what some of them called "taxation without deliberation."

Protesters said they felt the multi-billion dollar stimulus package will not do enough to help stimulate the economy, and that the bill was rushed though before most lawmakers even had the chance to read it.

A media release announcing the event said the rally's aim was to show politicians that they were tired of bailouts and "wasteful Washington spending."


Placating the weather gods, as in the Middle Ages

"Back in 1500, we learn from a Princeton professor, the Aztecs figured the climate debate was over, and that if you wanted rain and sunshine and other such blessings, it was simple enough what you had to do – sacrifice 20,000 lives a year to the right gods.

In the year 2009, it's an equally sure thing in the minds of some that carbon in the atmosphere is going to fry us unless we put the welfare of millions on the line, and here is the latest on President Obama's plan – it could cost industry almost $2 trillion over an eight-year period.

That hefty sum to be paid out to a cap-and-trade carbon tax would snatch money from the pockets of consumers far more than rising oil prices did, hinder economic growth and instill other ways generate human misery, and all in the name of what? Computer models that can't get anything right, that's what."


Independents swing in favor of GOP by 14 points

"Just as the economic news was relentlessly negative until the last few days, poll numbers for Republicans were horrific for months. So the GOP should be heartened by the first encouraging polling news it has received perhaps since Lehman Brothers defaulted in mid-September: Republicans have pulled even with Democrats on the generic congressional ballot test, according to a survey by a respected pair of firms.

In the new National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; an identical percentage of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic one. For several years, Democrats held a substantial lead on this question.

Democrats still outnumbered Republicans in terms of party identification in this poll by 6 points, 45 percent to 39 percent. Democrats also favored their own party's congressional candidates 83 percent to 7 percent. But voters who call themselves independents gave GOP candidates the edge by 14 points, 38 percent to 24 percent. And self-identified Republicans supported their own party's candidates 85 percent to 3 percent."


Countrywide bent own rules to favor Chris Dodd

"An executive at mortgage giant Countrywide Financial overrode the company's loan-writing policies to give a discount to Sen. Christopher Dodd, the powerful chairman of the Senate banking committee, according to an internal Countrywide document turned over to congressional investigators and obtained by The Courant.

But paperwork, e-mails and other loan documents reviewed as part of the congressional probe include no direct evidence that Dodd was aware at the time that he was getting a discount, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

And a Dodd spokesman Thursday repeated the senator's contention that there was nothing in the negotiation or loan process that was unusual or out of the ordinary.

Dodd, who refinanced two mortgages with Countrywide in 2003, has said that he did not know that he had been placed in a special group of customers known as "Friends of Angelo" — a reference to Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo — or that he might have received preferential loan terms. Internal Countrywide documents do not contradict that assertion, a congressional source said."


Friday, March 20, 2009

Obama's plan = more than $9 trillion in deficits

The Associated Press on Friday reported that President-for-the-time-being Barack Obama's socialist agenda would result in nearly $10 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years, a staggering figure that some economists say the nation could not sustain.

The estimated deficit for the current fiscal year is $1.8 trillion, or 13.1 percent of the estimated value of all goods and services that will be produced in the United States. Not since WWII has the ratio of deficit to gross domestic product been that high.

Demonstrating his customary resistance to reality, Obama indicated he would plunge ahead with his program of socialized medicine and new entitlements, including college education as a right, as well as the boondoggle known as cap and trade.

Nevertheless, the AP's revelations change the political equation. The Republican Party now has a powerful issue for the 2010 House and Senate elections, and a potentially pivotal issue with which to try to unseat Obama in 2012.

That is, unless Obama changes his tune or congressional Democrats scuttle his program out of fear for their own careers.

The AP obtained its figures from the Congressional Budget Office, which calculates that Obama's budget will produce $9.3 trillion in deficits, or $2.3 trillion more than the White House had predicted, during the decade starting in 2010.

In defiance of the obvious, Obama responded, "What we will not cut are investments that will lead to real growth and prosperity over the long term. That's why our budget makes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. That's why it enhances America's competitiveness by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and building a clean energy economy."

Less than 20 months from now, the voters will have their say on Obama's plans. Members of Congress will hear from those voters over the next few weeks.

Look for a change in Obama's tune in April or May. Democrats in Congress will not risk their seats on the promise of some distant, perhaps elusive, payoff for today's unpopular stand.

Rasmussen Reports' latest poll, published Friday, shows that Obama's margin of approval among those with strong opinions has shrunk to 4 points. Thirty-five percent strongly approve of Obama's performance, while 31 percent strongly disapprove.

The trend is not Obama's friend.

Distrust of government, happily, is growing fast

"For five decades, researchers at the University of Michigan have asked Americans "How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right?"

Declining trust in government is a good thing, something that Americans of every political stripe ought to celebrate.

In the early 1960s, three-quarters of respondents answered "just about always" or "most of the time." After Vietnam and Watergate, Americans weren't quite so gullible, and the trust numbers never again reached their Kennedy/Johnson-era peak.

This month, Michigan's National Election Studies group released new survey data that reveals another decline: Only some 30 percent of Americans trust the feds most of the time or always, which is down sharply from trust's post-9/11 high.

When political trust declines, the D.C. cognoscenti typically wring their hands and hold earnest conferences at the Brookings Institution, exploring how best to restore the people's faith in their rulers.

But, as usual, the political elites have it precisely backwards. Declining trust in government is a good thing, something that Americans of every political stripe ought to celebrate."


Chris Dodd feeling the heat for financial fiasco

"Democrats may want to start thinking about a bailout for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, whose political stock has slipped amid the financial meltdown.

As a five-term Democrat who blew out his last two opponents by 2-1 margins in a blue state that President Barack Obama won handily, Dodd, D-Conn., should be cruising to re-election in 2010. Instead, he's feeling heat from a Republican challenger eager to make him a poster boy for the tumult in the housing and financial markets.

A recent poll showed former Rep. Rob Simmons running about even with Dodd, a former national Democratic Party chairman."


The American circus is in town; long live the circus

"Helicopter Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve is dropping trillions of fresh paper dollars on the world economy, the President of the United States is cracking jokes on late night comedy shows, his energy minister is threatening a trade war over carbon emissions, his treasury secretary is dithering over a banking reform program amid rising concerns over his competence and a monumentally dysfunctional U.S. Congress is launching another public jihad against corporations and bankers.

As an aghast world — from China to Chicago and Chihuahua — watches, the circus-like U.S. political system seems to be declining into near chaos. Through it all, stock and financial markets are paralyzed. The more the policy regime does, the worse the outlook gets. The multi-ringed spectacle raises a disturbing question in many minds: Is this the end of America?

Probably not, if only because there are good reasons for optimism. The U.S. economy has pulled out of self-destructive political spirals in the past, spurred on by its business class and corporate leaders, the profit-making and market-creating people who rose above the political turmoil to once again lift the world out of financial crisis. It’s happened many times before, except for once, when it took 20 years to rise out of the Great Depression."


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama crams down some contracts, not others

"...has anybody asked Team Obama why it is more than willing to break mortgage contracts with a bankruptcy-judge cram-down, but won't cram-down compensation agreements for AIG, despite the fact that the U.S. government owns the company? Kind of odd, don't you think?

The Wall Street Journal editors get it right when they ask: Who's in charge and what's the game plan? The whole AIG story is an outrage.

What's more, AIG is acting as a conduit for taxpayer money that is being sent to dozens of derivative counterparties, including foreign banks and American banks like Goldman Sachs. If we're going to bail out all these other firms, why not bail them out in full taxpayer view? Why is the money being laundered furtively through AIG? And where exactly is the end game for AIG? How are the taxpayers going to be repaid?"


Did AIG engage in pay-to-play scheme with Obama

"Senator Barack Obama received a $101,332 bonus from American International Group in the form of political contributions according to Opensecrets.org. The two biggest Congressional recipients of bonuses from the A.I.G. are - Senators Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama.

The A.I.G. Financial Products affiliate of A.I.G. gave out $136,928, the most of any AIG affiliate, in the 2008 cycle. I would note that A.I.G.’s financial products division is the unit that wrote trillions of dollars’ worth of credit-default swaps and "misjudged" the risk.

The Washington Post reports a "mob effect" at A.I.G financial products division:

A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products, the division whose exotic derivatives brought the insurance giant to the brink of collapse last year. Inside, death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes. Irate callers lit up the phone lines. Senior managers submitted their resignations. Some employees didn't show up at all.

With the anger and rage that is being exhibited against A.I.G., perhaps the bonuses Obama received from A.I.G. explain Obama's A.I.G crocodile tears."


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Who's going to stop Obama? Perhaps the Chinese

Conservatives are now in the odd position of having to rely on the authoritarian regime in China to stop the American president from destroying free markets.

It's not that China has suddenly become a fan of free markets. It's that one of China's most important markets, the United States, will have to sell trillions of dollars in bonds to finance President Barack Obama's socialist objectives.

China has been the principal buyer of such bonds, and is raising questions about this nation's credit-worthiness. What happens if China stops buying? Where will Obama go to find new bond buyers?

If no one else steps up, even the U.S. Congress, not known to blanch at deficit spending, might choose to scuttle some or all of Obama's plans for socialized medicine, new entitlements such as college education, and further demonizing of the oil industry in pursuit of an ideal world average temperature to be determined by Al Gore.

As of December, China was holding $727.4 billion in U.S. bonds, almost 24 percent of the total outstanding. That's only a fraction of the borrowing the U.S. will have to arrange to finance Obama's program of loans, bailouts and new entitlements. If China stops buying U.S. bonds, the U.S. will have to raise interest rates to attract new buyers. That, in turn, would put upward pressure on other rates and inflict further damage on a U.S. economy already in recession.

In other words, China, still a nominally Communist country, has been handed powerful leverage against the United States, which is both a trading partner and an adversary on the world stage.

There is another side to this issue. In recent years, American politicians have badgered the Chinese, with the aim of persuading China to raise the exchange value of its currency. The Chinese have resisted, relying on the undervalued yen to underprice exports and gobble up world markets.

Now that the Chinese have the upper hand on the bond question, they will give short shrift to complaints about currency valuation. Look for more and more Chinese products on U. S. store shelves. China already is selling $202 billion more annually to the U.S. than the U.S. is selling to China.

If China stops buying U.S. bonds, who is going to finance a growing trade deficit with China?

One thing is clear: As the U.S. deficits pile up, with no end in sight, America's adversaries, especially China, gain leverage.

A sensible Congress would take that into account before it votes to spend more trillions of dollars that the government does not have. If it fails to do so, Chinese language studies may become the most popular courses on American college campuses. An employee, after all, wants to speak the boss's language.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cato: Bush and Obama have killed capitalism

"Do we still live in a capitalist country?

Is the U.S. drifting toward socialism?

Even using only the narrowest meaning of the word — government ownership of business — the answer is clearly yes.

Last year, the Bush administration trampled private property rights by expropriating 80 percent of AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without shareholder approval. As should have been expected, that scared stockholders away from other financial stocks, depleting the banks' cushion of high-quality capital. "Capital injections" from TARP (thinly disguised debt) greatly aggravated that exodus of private capital. So did Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's frightening "stress test" threats to wipe out shareholders by converting government's preferred stock to common.

Like other flirtations with socialism, the Troubled Asset Relief Program has been an unmitigated disaster. Public capital simply displaced private capital, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. The expression "socialize the losses and privatize the gains" is only half right; both shareholders and taxpayers were losers."


Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama's approval ratings are sinking fast

"It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced.

Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date.

Overall, Rasmussen Reports shows a 56%-43% approval, with a third strongly disapproving of the president's performance. This is a substantial degree of polarization so early in the administration. Mr. Obama has lost virtually all of his Republican support and a good part of his Independent support, and the trend is decidedly negative."


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama's hyperbole reveals antimarket intentions

Barack Obama, the would-be central planner, unwittingly signaled Thursday that he intends to impose government controls on the American economy totally foreign to the blueprint of the founders.

He is, of course, doing it for us. He wants to get rid of those troubling ups and downs that have, time and again, caused upheavals in households, businesses and government bodies.

It is through those hiccups that the economy works out imbalances that inevitably result from millions of decisions made by families and businesses, each in pursuit of its own objectives. People decide what to buy. Businesses take account of what's selling and produce more of some goods and less of others. Then tastes change, and businesses wind up with unsold products.

In the late 1990s, the huge promise of computer technology resulted in a red-hot market for computer-related stocks, which rocketed to levels that could not be sustained by the actual performance of technology businesses. The bubble burst, and many investors lost money.

It was nothing more than free markets adjusting expectations to reality. It was the small price we paid for a free consumer-driven economy.

To Obama, however, such hiccups are dire and must be overcome. On Thursday, addressing a gathering of chief executives, Obama bemoaned the "endless cycle of bubble and bust," and said he would attempt to build a new foundation for future growth.

Translation: the Obama administration intends to wrest control of the economy from the hands of individuals, families and businesses. The current recession, Obama said, can't serve "as an excuse to keep ignoring the long-term threats to our prosperity."

That prosperity, of course, was brought about by the energizing potential of an economy that allows people from the most humble beginnings to prosper. Obama apparently believes we'd be better off with a government-run economy along the lines of Cuba or Zimbabwe.

This would be startling even in the absence of the obvious fact that the most dangerous recent threats to American prosperity have come from government. It was Democrats, during the Carter administration, who embarked on a decades-long social engineering campaign to expand home ownership, resulting in an erosion of lending standards that previously had required borrowers to have a record of credit-worthiness to obtain a mortgage.

It was government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that facilitated this erosion by camouflaging risk and and elevating home mortgages to the level of big-time investments that flourished in world financial markets. The result was a huge bubble in the U.S.housing market.

The Bush administration not only went along with the boom, but pumped it up. During the Bush years, use of the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act actually increased. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve system kept interest rates too low for too long, further inflating the housing market, while the Securities and Exchange Commission somehow failed to detect danger in the high-flying mortgage-based securities.

Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve at the time, recently admitted as much, saying he had over-estimated the ability of private corporations to look after their vital interests, including survival. He forgot to mention that elected officials and bureaucrats, along with pressure groups such as ACORN, had been pummeling the mortgage market for decades in service of their social engineering project.

We no longer had a free market in mortgages. We had a government-driven market through which Democrat politicians obtained favorable mortgages for themselves, and in some cases became millionaires.

Now we have a government-made recession, which Obama is falsely attributing to free market excesses and is using to justify new government intrusions in the economy. This is in keeping with his "stimulus" package, whose premise is that government, rather than rank and file taxpayers, will spend newfound money to the best effect.

Less than half of the stimulus is allocated to tax cuts, which leave spending decisiions in the hands of individuals and families. Most of the money will be spent by government. Will bridges to nowhere become a common feature of the American landscape? Will we have more Big Digs of the sort pioneered in Boston?

How long will it take for the American economy to rise to the inspiring level manifested by Cuba and Zimbabwe?

Dems go after Arpaio, defend illegal immigrants

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona following requests by congressional Democrats and allegations by liberal activists that the department has violated the civil rights of illegal aliens.

Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Robert Scott (D-Va.) requested the investigation, and activists groups such as National Day Laborer Organizer Network and ACORN launched petition drives and rallies in support of the probe.

The investigation focuses on Sheriff Joe Arpaio and dozens of officers under his command who were trained through the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security (ACCESS), which partners federal and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. (The Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division is known popularly as ICE.)

In a letter dated March 10, 2009, Loretta Smith, acting assistant attorney general at the DOJ, detailed what her department would be investigating:

"This is to inform you that the United States Department of Justice is commencing an investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (''MCSO'') pursuant to the pattern or practice provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,42 U.S.C. §14141 ("Section 14141") and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968,42 U.S.C. § 3789d ("Safe Streets Act"), and pursuant to the prohibitions against national origin discrimination in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d to 2000d-7 ("Title Yr') and the Safe Streets Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3789d(c)."

The letter continues: "The investigation will focus on alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures conducted by the MCSO, and on allegations of national origin discrimination, including failure to provide meaningful access to MCSO services for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals."

"In conducting the investigation, we will seek to determine whether there are violations of the above laws by the MCSO," the letter says.

Sheriff Arpaio's efforts to enforce immigration laws have been the focus of previous criticism, but Arpaio has defended his department and the results his ICE-trained officers have netted.

Concerning the DOJ’s investigation, Arpaio told CNSNews.com: “I will not back down. What I am doing is upholding the laws of the state of Arizona, and I will not be persuaded to turn my back on my oath of office as sheriff of this county.”


How to escape prying eyes on the web

"Hundreds of thousands of Web sites show ads provided by Google, such as those little text ads that offer you everything from diets to dog training. Now Google has announced plans to track your clicks across all these sites, and then serve up ads personalized to your tastes. Visit a bunch of electronics-related sites, say, and the next site you view may show you an ad for the latest must-have gadget, even if you're now reading about ways to reduce stress through yogic meditations.

As Big Brother as it sounds, this is actually something that many advertising companies already do. But don't worry: There's a way to stop Google--and all the others--from prying.

First, Google has offered up several ways to change and reduce the info it stores about you. Using its new Ads Preferences Manager, you can delete any of the interests that Google believes you have, such as Entertainment or Travel. You can even add interests, if you happen to like personalized advertising.

If you don't want Google to store any information at all, you can click "Opt Out" on their Preferences page. That gets rid of the "cookie," or little ID code saved in your browser, that Google uses to recognize you when you visit one of its advertising partners.(Funnily enough, opting out assigns you a different cookie instead, one that lets Google remember your browser as one it can't collect info about.)


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On governance, our learning curve has flattened

What have we learned in 2,063 years?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."

So Cicero observed, in 55 BC.

(Hat tip Don)

U.S. taxpayers robbed to build Kennedy legend

BOSTON – More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys.

The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house a new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. The funding may also help support an endowment for the institute.

The bill also includes $22 million to expand facilities at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum and $5 million more for a new gateway to the Boston Harbor Islands on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a park system in downtown Boston named after Kennedy's mother and built on land opened up by the Big Dig highway project.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Kennedy, who at 77 is battling brain cancer, said he hadn't requested the money for the library and institute, and that there are dozens of other earmarks in the spending bill for homeless services and community health centers.

The $22 million JFK library earmark was sponsored by fellow Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John Kerry, who is also a top sponsor for the money for the Kennedy Senate Institute. Kerry defended the library project, which he said is needed to upgrade the facility.


Prima donna Pelosi uses military as private airline

"Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the Jennifer Lopez of congressional travel -- fickle, demanding and notoriously insensitive to the time, costs and energy needed to accommodate her endless demands. On Tuesday, the indispensable government watchdog Judicial Watch released a trove of public records through the Freedom of Information Act on Pelosi's travel arrangements with the U.S. military.

As speaker of the House, Pelosi is entitled to a reasonable level of military protection and transport. But it's the size of the planes, the frequency of requests and last-minute cancellations, and the political nature of many of her trips that scream out for accountability."


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If Obama is a failed president, so was George Bush

"... where was Krauthammer’s ire when President Bush sought American security by guarding the borders and sovereignties of foreign countries at a cost of thousands of American soldiers’ lives lost or maimed and trillions of dollars we didn’t have wasted—while leaving America’s own borders and its own sovereignty unprotected?

Bush’s great non sequitur has cost $864 billion so far [Congressional Research Service, October 15, 2008 PDF]. It will likely cost another $865 in the next ten years. According to some estimates, e.g. those of Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, it’s The Three Trillion Dollar War.

Even apart from the terrorists trickling and vicious gangbangers streaming into the country steadily through its joke of a border, just the number of Americans killed every year by illegal alien drivers far exceeds those killed on foreign fronts.

As far as the costs are concerned, Robert Rector’s research points to the average life-time costs to the American taxpayer of $1.3 million for each low-skill household. There are at least 15 million such households between the legal and illegal low-skill immigrants in both Bush’s and Obama’s America.

My calculator cannot handle the number of zeros required to compute the total cost, but this fiscal and social capital disaster is as much among Mr. Bush’s greatest failings as it will be among Mr. Obama’s.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Krauthammer: Obama is using "brazen deception"

WASHINGTON -- Forget the pork. Forget the waste. Forget the 8,570 earmarks in a bill supported by a president who poses as the scourge of earmarks. Forget the "$2 trillion dollars in savings" that "we have already identified," $1.6 trillion of which President Obama's budget director later admits is the "savings" of not continuing the surge in Iraq until 2019 -- 11 years after George Bush ended it, and eight years after even Bush would have had us out of Iraq completely.

Forget all of this. This is run-of-the-mill budget trickery. True, Obama's tricks come festooned with strings of zeros tacked onto the end. But that's a matter of scale, not principle.

All presidents do that. But few undertake the kind of brazen deception at the heart of Obama's radically transformative economic plan, a rhetorical sleight of hand so smoothly offered that few noticed.


Stock market is shorting a radical presidency

"It's hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president's policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy, not just mitigate the recession and financial crisis.

The illusion that Barack Obama will lead from the economic center has quickly come to an end. Instead of combining the best policies of past Democratic presidents -- John Kennedy on taxes, Bill Clinton on welfare reform and a balanced budget, for instance -- President Obama is returning to Jimmy Carter's higher taxes and Mr. Clinton's draconian defense drawdown.

Mr. Obama's $3.6 trillion budget blueprint, by his own admission, redefines the role of government in our economy and society. The budget more than doubles the national debt held by the public, adding more to the debt than all previous presidents -- from George Washington to George W. Bush -- combined.

It reduces defense spending to a level not sustained since the dangerous days before World War II, while increasing nondefense spending (relative to GDP) to the highest level in U.S. history. And it would raise taxes to historically high levels (again, relative to GDP). And all of this before addressing the impending explosion in Social Security and Medicare costs."


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wisdom from an earlier time of turbulence

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931

Henry Holzer's look back at his old pal Ayn Rand

“In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold [see my Blog of January 25, 2009].

If everyone decided, for example, to convert all their bank deposits to silver or copper or any other good, and thereafter declined to accept checks as payment for goods, bank deposits would lose their purchasing power and government-created bank credit would be worthless as a claim on goods.

The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves. This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the ‘hidden’ confiscation of wealth."


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A call for an uprising of moderates against Obama

"Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice. As Clive Crook, an Obama admirer, wrote in The Financial Times, the Obama budget “contains no trace of compromise. It makes no gesture, however small, however costless to its larger agenda, of a bipartisan approach to the great questions it addresses. It is a liberal’s dream of a new New Deal.”

Moderates now find themselves betwixt and between. On the left, there is a president who appears to be, as Crook says, “a conviction politician, a bold progressive liberal.” On the right, there are the Rush Limbaugh brigades. The only thing more scary than Obama’s experiment is the thought that it might fail and the political power will swing over to a Republican Party that is currently unfit to wield it.

Those of us in the moderate tradition — the Hamiltonian tradition that believes in limited but energetic government — thus find ourselves facing a void. We moderates are going to have to assert ourselves. We’re going to have to take a centrist tendency that has been politically feckless and intellectually vapid and turn it into an influential force."


Monday, March 2, 2009

Dissing the predecessor a key to White House glory

"From his inauguration address forward, President Obama hasn't pulled any punches in criticizing the record of his predecessor, George W. Bush. In that process--which reached a new peak with the release of the administration's budget plan last Thursday--Obama is aggressively employing a strategy used by the presidents who have most powerfully realigned the political landscape through American history.

It is an approach that Yale University political scientist Stephen Skowronek has shrewdly termed "the authority to repudiate."In a classic 1997 book called The Politics Presidents Make and a 2008 follow-up called Presidential Leadership in Political Time, Skowronek noted that the presidents who most successfully constructed lasting electoral majorities all followed presidents widely viewed as failures.

These repeated couplings between "manifest incapacity and towering success" have included John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800; John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson in 1828; James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln in 1860; Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932; and, most recently, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Skowronek argues that these dynamic presidents--who he dubs "reconstructive leaders"--have succeeded not only because of their own skills. Their impact is so great because they arrived at a moment when the dominant party over the previous generation has been discredited by failure or corruption, or both, and large voting blocs are open to something new.

Skowronek has described the process this way: "The presidents who traditionally appear on lists of America's most effective political leaders-Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and FDR-were, like Reagan, opposition leaders standing steadfast against already discredited political regimes. These were men of very different background, character, and political skill....What they shared was a moment in a political sequence in which presidential authority is at its most compelling, a moment when opponents stand indicted in the court of public opinion...."


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Obama's new urban czar got cash from builders

"The man who is President Obama's newly minted urban czar pocketed thousands of dollars in campaign cash from city developers whose projects he approved or funded with taxpayers' money, a Daily News probe found.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion often received contributions just before or after he sponsored money for projects or approved important zoning changes, records show.
Most donations were organized and well-timed.

In one case, a developer became a Carrion fund-raiser two months before the borough president signed off on his project, raising more than $6,000 in campaign cash.

In another, eight Boricua College officials came up with $8,000 on the same day for Carrion three weeks before the school filed plans to build a new tower. Carrion ultimately approved the project and sponsored millions in taxpayer funds for it.

Carrion resigned as borough president effective Sunday and begins his new job as director of the White House Office on Urban Policy Monday."


Rank and file aren't cheering Obama's cheerleaders

"The TV ratings for February have been tabulated, and in the world of cable news there is weeping on the left. Fox News Channel, which is generally tougher on the president, hammered the two networks that most favor President Obama -- CNN and MSNBC. In fact, Fox News was the third-highest rated prime-time cable network in America, behind USA and TNT. CNN was 15th; MSNBC, a dismal 23rd.

Also, unique visitors to the Obama-loving website Daily Kos have declined a whopping 73 percent since last fall -- a disaster. What's going on?

It all has to do with fear. While Obama retains a high approval rating, many Americans are flat-out scared about the economy. The recession is bringing massive pain to America, and responsible citizens want the truth about public policy, not partisan cheerleading."