Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sen. Inhofe Calls for Inquiry Into 'Suppressed' Climate Change Report
Republicans are raising questions about why the EPA apparently dismissed an analyst's report questioning the science behind global warming.
By Judson Berger
Monday, June 29, 2009
A top Republican senator has ordered an investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency's alleged suppression of a report that questioned the science behind global warming.
The 98-page report, co-authored by EPA analyst Alan Carlin, pushed back on the prospect of regulating gases like carbon dioxide as a way to reduce global warming. Carlin's report argued that the information the EPA was using was out of date, and that even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased, global temperatures have declined.
"He came out with the truth. They don't want the truth at the EPA," Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a global warming skeptic, told FOX News, saying he's ordered an investigation. "We're going to expose it."
The controversy comes after the House of Representatives passed a landmark bill to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, one that Inhofe said will be "dead on arrival" in the Senate despite President Obama's energy adviser voicing confidence in the measure.
According to internal e-mails that have been made public by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Carlin's boss told him in March that his material would not be incorporated into a broader EPA finding and ordered Carlin to stop working on the climate change issue. The draft EPA finding released in April lists six greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, that the EPA says threaten public health and welfare.
An EPA official told FOXNews.com on Monday that Carlin, who is an economist -- not a scientist -- included "no original research" in his report. The official said that Carlin "has not been muzzled in the agency at all," but stressed that his report was entirely "unsolicited."
"It was something that he did on his own," the official said. "Though he was not qualified, his manager indulged him and allowed him on agency time to draft up ... a set of comments."
Despite the EPA official's remarks, Carlin told FOXNews.com on Monday that his boss, National Center for Environmental Economics Director Al McGartland, appeared to be pressured into reassigning him.
Carlin said he doesn't know whether the White House intervened to suppress his report but claimed it's clear "they would not be happy about it if they knew about it," and that McGartland seemed to be feeling pressure from somewhere up the chain of command.
Carlin said McGartland told him he had to pull him off the climate change issue.
"It was reassigning you or losing my job, and I didn't want to lose my job," Carlin said, paraphrasing what he claimed were McGartland's comments to him. "My inference (was) that he was receiving some sort of higher-level pressure."
Carlin said he personally does not think there is a need to regulate carbon dioxide, since "global temperatures are going down." He said his report expressed a "good bit of doubt" on the connection between the two.
Specifically, the report noted that global temperatures were on a downward trend over the past 11 years, that scientists do not necessarily believe that storms will become more frequent or more intense due to global warming, and that the theory that temperatures will cause Greenland ice to rapidly melt has been "greatly diminished."
Carlin, in a March 16 e-mail, argued that his comments are "valid, significant" and would be critical to the EPA finding.
McGartland, though, wrote back the next day saying he had decided not to forward his comments.
"The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision," he wrote, according to the e-mails released by CEI. "I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office."
He later wrote an e-mail urging Carlin to "move on to other issues and subjects."
"I don't want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change. No papers, no research, etc., at least until we see what EPA is going to do with climate," McGartland wrote.
The EPA said in a written statement that Carlin's opinions were in fact considered, and that he was not even part of the working group dealing with climate change in the first place.
"Claims that this individual's opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false. This administration and this EPA administrator are fully committed to openness, transparency and science-based decision making," the statement said. "The individual in question is not a scientist and was not part of the working group dealing with this issue. Nevertheless the document he submitted was reviewed by his peers and agency scientists, and information from that report was submitted by his manager to those responsible for developing the proposed endangerment finding. In fact, some ideas from that document are included and addressed in the endangerment finding."
The e-mail exchanges and suggestions of political interference sparked a backlash from Republicans in Congress.
Reps. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also wrote a letter last week to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the agency to reopen its comment period on the finding. The EPA has since denied the request.
Citing the internal e-mails, the Republican congressmen wrote that the EPA was exhibiting an "agency culture set in a predetermined course."
"It documents at least one instance in which the public was denied access to significant scientific literature and raises substantial questions about what additional evidence may have been suppressed," they wrote.
In a written statement, Issa said the administration is "actively seeking to withhold new data in order to justify a political conclusion."
"I'm sure it was very inconvenient for the EPA to consider a study that contradicted the findings it wanted to reach," Sensenbrenner said in a statement, adding that the "repression" of Carlin's report casts doubt on the entire finding.
Carlin said he's concerned that he's seeing "science being decided at the presidential level."
"Now Mr. Obama is in effect directly or indirectly saying that CO2 causes global temperatures to rise and that we have to do something about it. ... That's normally a scientific judgment and he's in effect judging what the science says," he said. "We need to look at it harder."
The controversy is similar to one under the Bush administration -- only the administration was taking the opposite stance. In that case, scientist James Hansen claimed the administration was trying to keep him from speaking out and calling for reductions in greenhouse gases.
Click here to read Carlin's report.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Waxman's Economy Killer
by Steven Milloy
The House of Representatives will vote Friday on the so-called “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009” -- a.k.a the “Waxman-Markey” global warming bill. But whatever you want to call this legislative atrocity, if enacted into law, it will go down in history as the death knell of the American standard of living and way of life. If you hate America, this bill is for you.
After decades of fierce battling between rabid greens -- that is, left-wingers masquerading as “environmentalists” -- and the global warming skeptics, few Americans seem to have bought into the bill’s premise that manmade emissions of carbon dioxide are causing the planet to run a fever, as Al Gore is fond of saying. Just this week, a public relations firm advising House Democrats recommended that the notion of “global warming” be dropped as a primary message since “almost no one in our focus groups expressed such concern.”
So despite all the frantic global warming alarmism and the vicious smears of skeptics by Gore and his fanatic green activists (they liken skeptics to Holocaust-deniers and many in the media repeat the smear) -- the out-manned and out-gunned skeptics have largely succeeded in being heard by Americans and in changing their minds.
Yet that is not stopping House Democrats who are under pressure not only from the greens who see the bill as the best way to advance their political agenda (Marxist? Socialist? Venezuelan?), but also big businesses who have given up on capitalism in favor of federal laws requiring that taxpayers and consumers pay through the nose for products and services they don’t need or want.
What would Waxman-Markey mean to you? It starts with much higher cost of living, less personal freedom and a less comfortable, convenient, dignified and hopeful existence.Waxman-Markey is fundamentally anti-economic growth in nature. If you don’t yet grasp the significance of national economic growth, just look around at the recession we and the rest of the world are now enduring. Waxman-Markey would be a permanent clampdown on economic growth. The bill does this by making energy, the life blood of our economy, much more expensive and scarce.
Waxman-Markey will add $9 trillion in costs to the production of energy between 2012 and 2050 -- that works out to almost $800 per American per year for the next 38 years. Those are just the direct costs imposed by the bill’s cap-and-trade regime. These costs will ripple throughout the American economy -- everyone uses energy -- making all goods and services more expensive.
Electric utilities will be required to produce 20 percent of their power through so-called “renewable” energy sources, like wind and solar, by 2020. But such technology is incredibly expensive and requires heavy taxpayer subsidies -- 100 times greater than for fossil fuels. At the scale required by Waxman-Markey, such energy is more imaginary than renewable.Worse than the increased cost of energy, perhaps, is that the Waxman-Markey bill will essentially result in artificial limits on electricity production and, ultimately, electricity rationing. The bill will create a permanent energy crisis.
In addition to the limits imposed by the renewable energy requirement, Waxman-Markey essentially phases out coal-generated electricity (50% of our current supply) while failing to guarantee the construction of the only realistic substitute for coal -- nuclear power. In the end, what we’ll have is an energy grid constrained by the supply of natural gas -- much of which will have to be imported. Even so, there’s simply not enough natural gas to affordably meet all our energy needs, so supplies will have to be rationed somehow.
Waxman-Markey tries to head-off the path to rationing by requiring that everything from cars to new buildings to appliances become dramatically more energy efficient. This may sound good, but it’s a fool’s errand that can only end in higher prices for inferior products. The only way to make cars get better gas mileage is to shrink them, making them more dangerous, less useful and less comfortable. New buildings will have to be more 50% more efficient by 2016; if it can be done, it will be very, perhaps prohibitively, expensive. All of this ignores the fact that, since the 1970s and despite all out leaps forward in technology, we’ve only increased energy efficiency on a societal basis by about 7% or so, according to the Congressional Research Service.
What will you get for all the pain associated with Waxman-Markey? The bill will not improve the environment one iota. For those who insist that carbon dioxide emissions are somehow bad for the climate, even if the U.S. cuts its emissions as prescribed by Waxman-Markey, China, India and other developing countries will not cut their emissions as they refuse to sacrifice vital economic growth. If you plug this scenario into the existing climate models, their gloom-and-doom forecasts don’t change.
Moreover, since it is the wealthiest nations that have the cleanest environments -- consider the dirty China and India, for example -- Waxman-Markey is more likely to damage the environment as it retards U.S. economic growth and wealth creation, and saps funding for environmental protection on an individual and societal basis.
Waxman-Markey necessarily supersizes government and increases its intrusiveness. In addition to expanded authorities and budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and other existing federal behemoths, the bill creates a whole new bureaucracy of government agencies and boards that will dictate who can use how much energy. There’s the Offsets Integrity Advisory Board, Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Panel, National Climate Service, and the Centers for Energy and Environmental Knowledge and Outreach to name a few.
America under the 1,200-page-long Waxman-Markey bill -- and the hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations that would necessarily follow it -- would be a fantasy world for central planners and their oppressive tendencies. Given the 20th century’s horrific experience with central planning, that should be enough reason for House members to vote ‘NO’ on Friday.
Editor's Note: the House voted 'YES' on Friday.
Mr. Milloy is the founder and publisher of JunkScience.com, co-founder of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, and co-director of the Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research. His columns and op-ed pieces have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, and Los Angeles Times. He is the author of "Green Hell," a new book from Regnery Publishing.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
June 25, 2009
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put cap-and-trade legislation on a forced march through the House, and the bill may get a full vote as early as Friday. It looks as if the Democrats will have to destroy the discipline of economics to get it done.
Despite House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman's many payoffs to Members, rural and Blue Dog Democrats remain wary of voting for a bill that will impose crushing costs on their home-district businesses and consumers. The leadership's solution to this problem is to simply claim the bill defies the laws of economics.
Their gambit got a boost this week, when the Congressional Budget Office did an analysis of what has come to be known as the Waxman-Markey bill. According to the CBO, the climate legislation would cost the average household only $175 a year by 2020. Edward Markey, Mr. Waxman's co-author, instantly set to crowing that the cost of upending the entire energy economy would be no more than a postage stamp a day for the average household. Amazing. A closer look at the CBO analysis finds that it contains so many caveats as to render it useless.
For starters, the CBO estimate is a one-year snapshot of taxes that will extend to infinity. Under a cap-and-trade system, government sets a cap on the total amount of carbon that can be emitted nationally; companies then buy or sell permits to emit CO2. The cap gets cranked down over time to reduce total carbon emissions.
To get support for his bill, Mr. Waxman was forced to water down the cap in early years to please rural Democrats, and then severely ratchet it up in later years to please liberal Democrats. The CBO's analysis looks solely at the year 2020, before most of the tough restrictions kick in. As the cap is tightened and companies are stripped of initial opportunities to "offset" their emissions, the price of permits will skyrocket beyond the CBO estimate of $28 per ton of carbon. The corporate costs of buying these expensive permits will be passed to consumers.
The biggest doozy in the CBO analysis was its extraordinary decision to look only at the day-to-day costs of operating a trading program, rather than the wider consequences energy restriction would have on the economy. The CBO acknowledges this in a footnote: "The resource cost does not indicate the potential decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) that could result from the cap."
The hit to GDP is the real threat in this bill. The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars.
Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.
When the Heritage Foundation did its analysis of Waxman-Markey, it broadly compared the economy with and without the carbon tax. Under this more comprehensive scenario, it found Waxman-Markey would cost the economy $161 billion in 2020, which is $1,870 for a family of four. As the bill's restrictions kick in, that number rises to $6,800 for a family of four by 2035.
Note also that the CBO analysis is an average for the country as a whole. It doesn't take into account the fact that certain regions and populations will be more severely hit than others -- manufacturing states more than service states; coal producing states more than states that rely on hydro or natural gas. Low-income Americans, who devote more of their disposable income to energy, have more to lose than high-income families.
Even as Democrats have promised that this cap-and-trade legislation won't pinch wallets, behind the scenes they've acknowledged the energy price tsunami that is coming. During the brief few days in which the bill was debated in the House Energy Committee, Republicans offered three amendments: one to suspend the program if gas hit $5 a gallon; one to suspend the program if electricity prices rose 10% over 2009; and one to suspend the program if unemployment rates hit 15%. Democrats defeated all of them.
The reality is that cost estimates for climate legislation are as unreliable as the models predicting climate change. What comes out of the computer is a function of what politicians type in. A better indicator might be what other countries are already experiencing. Britain's Taxpayer Alliance estimates the average family there is paying nearly $1,300 a year in green taxes for carbon-cutting programs in effect only a few years.
Americans should know that those Members who vote for this climate bill are voting for what is likely to be the biggest tax in American history. Even Democrats can't repeal that reality.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
While the economy is a "shambles" and likely to stay that way for some time, he remains optimistic there will eventually be a recovery over a period of years.
BECKY: The last time we sat down to talk to you was on May 4, and at that point you told us that you think we're in an economic war right now. How much progress do you think we've made in that war?
BUFFETT: Well, it's been pretty flat. I get figures on 70-odd businesses, a lot of them daily. Everything that I see about the economy is that we've had no bounce. The financial system was really where the crisis was last September and October, and that's been surmounted and that's enormously important. But in terms of the economy coming back, it takes a while. There were a lot of excesses to be wrung out and that process is still underway and it looks to me like it will be underway for quite a while. In the (Berkshire Hathaway) annual report I said the economy would be in a shambles this year and probably well beyond. I'm afraid that's true.
Taking a firm position in an ongoing debate in the financial markets, Buffett says he's not concerned about deflation, but thinks inflation will be a problem in coming years.
Buffett repeated his criticism of "cap and trade" as a method to control pollution, saying it would be a huge, regressive tax.
In a letter to Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the federal appeals court judge said she is convinced that the club does not practice "invidious discrimination" and that her membership in it did not violate judicial ethics.
But she said she didn't want questions about it to "distract anyone from my qualifications and record."
Federal judges are bound by a code that says they shouldn't join any organization that discriminates by race, sex, religion or nationality.
The Belizean Grove bills itself as women's answer to the 130-year-old all-male Bohemian Club in California. The club owns a 2,500-acre camping area in northern California called the Grove.
Chief Justice Earl Warren belonged to the Bohemian Club beginning in the 1940s, before he joined the court and long before the federal judiciary adopted a code of conduct.
"The Belizean Grove is a constellation of influential women who are key decision makers in the profit, non-profit and social sectors; who build long term mutually beneficial relationships in order to both take charge of their own destinies and help others to do the same," the group says on its Web site. There are about 115 members, the club says.
Earlier in the week, Sotomayor defended her participation in the group, telling senators that it involves men in some of its events and that she was unaware of any man who had tried to become a member.
Sotomayor's backers noted that the court's only current woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, belongs to the membership-only International Women's Forum. So did former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who defended her involvement in all-women groups during her Senate confirmation hearings in 1981.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy faced similar questions over his longtime membership in the all-male Olympic Club in San Francisco. Kennedy resigned his membership in October 1987, as he was under consideration for the high court.
A. Well, if you are one of 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman and child), you each get $516,528.
B. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787.
C. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.
Earth to Washington, D. C: HELLO!
Are all of your calculators broken??
* A 16% higher cancer death rate in Canada
* An eight week wait for radiation therapy for cancer patients
* 42% of Canadians die of colon cancer vs. 31% in the US
* Cutbacks in diagnostic testing
* The best meds for chemo therapy are not available
* No way out of the system; you can't even pay for services yourself
Why is health care so bad north of the border? Because there are too few doctors to treat everybody, and cost savings -- which slice medical incomes -- drive doctors out of the profession.
When Obama calls for a 21% cut in Medicare fees to physicians and a $2500 cut in health costs per capita, that is exactly the kind of downward spiral in medical care quality he will bring to the United States.
By making too few doctors cover too many patients, he will cut the quality of care to everybody.
Say "No!" to ObamaCare!
Since Dave Jr. has been injured he has met and been overwhelmed by many, many political and military celebrities. The list includes Secretary of State Bob Gates, who came into his room and told him 3 or 4 times that if Dave Jr. had any issues to call his cell phone number.
It includes General Petraeus who sat and talked with Dave Jr. for almost 45 minutes. The general recalled vividly all of the circumstances around the events that led to fighting that Dave was involved in.
It includes Sen. McCain who arrived late on a Saturday afternoon during a thunderstorm, unannounced, and talked to Dave Jr. about how similar their experiences with fate were.
It includes George Bush when Dave Jr. was invited to attend the very last Christmas party at the White House for the White House Staff. President Bush and his wife entered the ballroom and immediately went to Dave Jr. President Bush knew Dave Jr.'s name as well as when and how he was injured. Dave Jr. had a picture taken with Laura and the President that he has framed and will cherish forever.
The list goes on and on of people coming in to meet Dave Jr. and the other wounded warriors at Waler Reed and Bethesda. Yesterday, Dave Jr. was ordered to be at the National Naval Hospital with another 12 soldiers and Marines to meet with Obama. Obama was supposed to arrive at 11:30 a.m. He finally got there at 3:00 p.m. He entered the room with the wounded warriors and quickly shook each of their hands. He never asked their names, where they were from, or how they were injured. Then he left.
Dave Jr. has met the people who really care about the military. All he remembers from Obama is a weak handshake. The others in the room, younger and less exposed to the people that Dave Jr. has met, were so disappointed.
Word about Obama's "insensitive" visit has spread to the MATC (the rehab facility) at Walter Reed and throughout Bethesda. The military sees through his phoniness. All I can say is that it is such a disappointment that this man is Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces. He is an embarrasment to our nation.
Dave Borden, Sr.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
California is home to the largest manufacturing belt in the United States and to Silicon Valley, the nation's largest high-tech center.
California's inventory of foreclosed homes is skyrocketing. Home prices are plunging. And the impact of surging unemployment is just beginning to show up in the data ...
1. If you wait for Moody's or S&P to act, it could be too late. Even if you can't get what you might consider a good price, sell all California paper now!
2. Seriously consider dumping all tax-exempt bonds. I know the income is better than equivalent Treasuries. But if California defaults, it could set off a chain reaction of bond price plunges and defaults throughout the municipal bond market.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Tarnished by Vote-Fraud Investigations, Liberal ACORN Launches Re-Branding Effort
ACORN's entanglements with vote-fraud allegations have grown so radioactive that the organization may jettison the ACORN name altogether.
ACORN's global entity, ACORN International, announced June 17 that it has changed its name to "Community Organizations International."
Speculation is rampant that the parent ACORN organization, whose formal name is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is considering a name-change as well.
The rebranding is seen as an indication that mounting fraud allegations are taking a heavy toll.
"This may indeed be the beginning of an ACORN network-wide rebranding, but a rotten ACORN by any other name still stinks," Matthew Vadum, a staunch ACORN critic at the Capital Research Center think tank, tells Newsmax.
Vadum describes ACORN International as "a nonprofit group that aspires to spread the gospel of [radical community organizer] Saul Alinsky across the globe."
Criminal prosecutions and investigations pending against ACORN and its former workers include:
An ongoing FBI probe.
Fourteen states are looking into vote-fraud allegations against ACORN.
In Las Vegas and Pittsburgh, prosecutors have filed indictments against several former ACORN operatives. Charges focus on the organization's alleged practice of establishing quotas specifying the number of registrations workers were required to submit each day. Many states outlaw such quotas, for fear they may pressure canvassers into encouraging fraudulent registrations.
Ohio's Cuyahoga County has indicted Darnell Nash, an ACORN-registered voter, for voting illegally. Nash registered to vote on nine occasions, using different names and addresses each time.
Investigators have said that as many as 4,000 ACORN voter registrations in Ohio could be fraudulent.
ACORN International has stated that its mission is to "sustain grassroots organizing throughout the world."
ACORN and ACORN International have interlocking directorates. In its 2007 tax filing, ACORN International listed its president as Maude Hurd, who also serves as president of the parent ACORN organization. Both organizations are based in New Orleans.
"ACORN's brand has been damaged through their own actions. It would certainly be understandable if they decided to change their name,” Marcel Reid, a former ACORN board member who now serves as chairman of ACORN 8, tells Newsmax.
ACORN 8 is a group of former ACORN reformers who concluded that what really needs reform is ACORN.
On June 11, ACORN attorneys wrote a letter to ACORN 8 alleging its name "has confused third-parties into believing that you are part of, you speak for, or have been endorsed by ACORN."
The letter threatens "monetary damages and injunctive relief" if ACORN 8 does not "cease and desist from using the ACORN name."
Reid counters that while ACORN is an acronym, ACORN 8 is her group's actual name. "We have no intention of changing our name unless required to do so," Reid tells Newsmax.
Reid adds: "ACORN's brand has been damaged through their own actions. It would certainly be understandable if they decided to change their name.”
ACORN's attorneys wrote in their letter to ACORN 8: "It appears you are benefiting from the goodwill established by ACORN at great expense to ACORN."
Last fall, then-presidential candidate John McCain charged that ACORN was “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country.”
At the time, media critics suggested McCain was overreacting.
Goldman to make record bonus payout
June 21, 2009
Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm's 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.
A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.
Staff in London were briefed last week on the banking and securities company's prospects and told they could look forward to bumper bonuses if, as predicted, it completed its most profitable year ever. Figures next month detailing the firm's second-quarter earnings are expected to show a further jump in profits. Warren Buffett, who bought $5bn of the company's shares in January, has already made a $1bn gain on his investment.
Goldman is expected to be the biggest winner in the race for revenues that, in 2006, reached £186bn across the entire industry. While this figure is expected to fall to £160bn in 2009, it will be split among a smaller number of firms.
Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank are among the European firms expected to register bumper profits, along with US banks JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley following the near collapse and government rescue of major trading houses including Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland.
In April, Goldman said it would set aside half of its £1.2bn first-quarter profit to reward staff, much of it in bonuses. It is believed to have paid 973 bankers $1m or more last year, while this year's payouts are on track to be the highest for most of the bank's 28,000 staff, including about 5,400 in London.
Critics of the bonus culture in the City said the dominance of a few risk-taking investment banks is undermining the efforts of regulators to stabilise the financial system.
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said: "The investment banks more than any other institutions created the culture of excessive leverage, excessive risk and excessive bonuses that led to the downfall of the financial system. Now they are cashing in and the same bonus culture has returned. The result must be that we are being pushed to the edge of another crash."
Goldman Sachs said it reviewed its bonus scheme last year and switched from a system of guaranteed rewards that were paid over three years to variable payments that tied staff to the firm. It told employees last year that profit-related bonuses would be delayed by 12 months.
Until the release of its first quarter profits in April, it seemed inconceivable that a firm owing the US government $10bn would be looking to break all-time records in 2009.
David Williams, an investment banking analyst at Fox Pitt Kelton, said: "This year is shaping up to be the best year ever for investment banks, or at least those that have emerged relatively unscathed from the credit crisis.
"These banks are intermediaries in the bond markets where governments and companies are raising billions of pounds of new money. There is also a lack of competition that means they can charge huge sums for doing business."
Last week, the firm predicted that President Barack Obama's government could issue $3.25tn of debt before September, almost four times last year's sum. Goldman, a prime broker of US government bonds, is expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from selling and dealing in the bonds.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Talk about disrespecting our military!
"I'm a home grown American citizen, 53, registered Democrat all my life. Before the last presidential election I registered as a Republican because I no longer felt the Democratic Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me.
Now I no longer feel the Republican Party represents my views or works to pursue issues important to me. The fact is I no longer feel any political party or representative in Washington represents my views or works to pursue the issues important to me. There must be someone.
Please tell me who you are. Please stand up and tell me that you are there and that you're willing to fight for our Constitution as it was written. Please stand up now. You might ask yourself what my views and issues are that I would feel so horribly disenfranchised by both major political parties. What kind of nut job am I? Will you please tell me?
Well, these are briefly my views and issues for which I seek representation:
One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I'm not a racist. This isn't to be confused with legal immigration.
Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.
Three, Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.
Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.
Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don't you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!
Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don't you start there.
Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don't trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.
Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why ‑‑ what do you have against shareholders making a profit?
Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.
Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we'll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band‑Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.
Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let's have it. Let's say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try ‑‑ please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.
Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.
Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let's just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I'm busy. I'm busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.
I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.
From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington. Our president often knows that the right buzzword is "unsustainable". Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don't want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we're morons.
We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we're so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work, pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far.
Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn't ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us who will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our Constitution.
Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don't care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear?
We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming."
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Medal of Honor Recipient Bud Day Talks of Torture
I got shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 as a squad commander. After I returned in 1973, I published two books that dealt a lot with "real torture" in Hanoi. Our make believe president is branding our country as a bunch of torturers when he has no idea what torture is.
As for me..put thru a mock execution because I would not respond...pistol whipped on the head...same event..
Couple of days later...hung by my feet all day. I escaped and got recaptured a couple of weeks later.. I got shot and recaptured. Shot was OK...what happened after was not.
They marched me to Vinh..Put me in the rope trick..almost pulled my arms out of the sockets. Beat me on the head with a little wooden rod until my eyes were swelled shut, and my unshot, unbroken hand a pulp.
Next day hung me by the arms...rebroke my right wrist...wiped out the nerves in my arms that control the hands..rolled my fingers up into a ball. Only left the slightest movement of my left forefinger. So I started answering with some incredible lies.
Sent me to Hanoi strapped to a barrel of gas in the back of a truck.
Hanoi ..on my knees..rope trick again. Beaten by a big fool.
Into leg irons on a bed in Heartbreak Hotel. Much kneeling--hands up at Zoo. Really bad beating for refusing to condemn Lyndon Johnson. Several more kneeling events. I could see my knee bone thru kneeling holes.
There was an escape from the annex to the Zoo. I was the senior officer of a large building... because of escape they started a mass torture of all commanders. I think it was July 7, 1969.
They started beating me with a car fan belt. In first 2 days I took over 300 strokes..then stopped counting because I never thought I would live thru it. They continued day-nite torture to get me to confess to a non-existent part in the escape.
This went on for at least 3 days. On my knees..fan belting.. Cut open my scrotum with fan belt stroke. Opened up both knee holes again. My fanny looked like hamburger..I could not lie on my back.They tortured me into admitting that I was in on the escape..and that my 2 roommates knew about it.
The next day I denied the lie.They commenced torturing me again with 3-6-or 9 strokes of the fan belt every day from about July 11 or 12 to 14 October 1969. I continued to refuse to lie about my roommates again.
Now, the point of this is that our make-believe president has declared to the world that we ( U.S. ) are a bunch of torturers. Thus it will be OK to torture us next time when they catch us....because that is what the U.S. Does.
Our make-believe president is a know nothing fool who thinks that pouring a little water on someone's face, or hanging a pair of women's pants over an Arab's head is TORTURE. He is a meathead.
I just talked to MOH holder Leo Thorsness who was also in my squad in jail...as was John McCain...and we agree that McCain does not speak for the POW group when he claims that Abu Ghraib was torture orr that "water boarding" is torture.
Our president and those fools around him who keep bad mouthing our great country are a disgrace to the United States.
Please pass this info on to Sean Hannity. He is free to use it to point out the stupidity of the claims that water boarding...which has no after effect...is torture. If it got the Arab to cough up the story about how he planned the attack on the twin towers in NYC ... hurrah for the guy who poured the water.
George Everett "Bud" Day (born February 24, 1925) is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and Command Pilot who served during the Vietnam War. He is often cited as being the most decorated U.S. Service member since General Douglas MacArthur, having received some seventy decorations, a majority for actions in combat. Day is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
Click here for the full story of Bud Day: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud_Day
Not long ago I read a joke ... It said all the politicians running for president are promising change to the American people. We send them billions and billions of tax dollars and they send us the change.
Funny? Not really; there is too much truth in it to be funny. That got me to thinking ... They all promise change. How about if they run on a promise of restoration rather than change. A restoration that would take us back in time to a place where things ran better, smoother and life was more enjoyable.
Change? That, in truth, is what they have been giving us all along.
We used to have a strong dollar ... Politicians changed that.
Marriage used to be sacred .. Politicians are changing that.
We used to be respected around the world ... Politicians changed that.
We used to have a strong manufacturing economy ... Politicians changed that.
We used to have lower tax structures ... Politicians changed that.
We used to enjoy more freedoms ... Politicians changed that.
We used to be a large exporter of American made goods ... Politicians changed that.
We used to teach patriotism in schools ... Politicians changed that.
We used to educate children in schools ... Politicians changed that.
We used to enforce LEGAL citizenship ... Politicians changed that.
We used to have affordable food & gas prices ... Politicians changed that, too. ... and one could go on and on with this list.
What hasn't been changed, politicians are promising to change that as well, if you will elect them.
When, oh when, is America going to sit back with open eyes and look at what we once were and where we have come and say, enough is enough? The trouble is, America 's youthful voters today don't know of the great America that existed forty and fifty years ago.
They see the world as if it has always existed, as it is now . When will we wake up? Tomorrow may be too late. When will America realize ... Politicians are what is wrong with America ?
What is needed is for the constitution to be amended to limit all Senators and Representatives to TWO terms in office like the president. No big pension either. Social Security just like the rest of us.
Being a politician shouldn't be a persons life work but rather a call to service then back to being an honest hard working citizen.
Besides private property, the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) (S 787) threatens businesses, agriculture, small communities, grazing, forestry, mining and many other uses on private and Federal land. It will affect many kinds of manufacturing companies and businesses.
The Real Goal of the Clean Water Restoration Act (S787) is to give Corps and EPA Control over your water and all your watersheds. That means National Land Use Controls as well as control over all your water and land. That’s because all land is in a watershed. The proposed Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) (S787), which has no House bill number yet, will give the Corps and EPA jurisdiction and control over your property and water.
It will redefine what the term “wetlands” means in the law. It will eliminate the requirement that the Corps and EPA limit their jurisdiction to “Navigable” waters and give those agencies control over all waters of the US or “activities” affecting those waters.
Congress is considering expanding the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act of 1972 to include “all waters of the United States” and not limit it to “navigable waters” as is currently the law under two Supreme Court Decisions, the Rapanos and SWANCC Supreme Court Decisions of 2006 and 2001.
Congress is also considering expanding Clean Water Act jurisdiction to include “all activities affecting these waters.” In other words, the bill is a double whammy: It expands the definition of waters and gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Corps of Engineers (Corps) and other Federal agencies control over activities that affect waters—any land use activities.
We need to stop this in its tracks. There must be an all out call of outrage to the Senators on the Committee opposing a vote until they hold a hearing this year on the new bill S 787. You can call any Senator at (202) 224-3121. Make sure they know you oppose S 787 and urge them to vote against it. Remind them that a "Yes" vote on this bill could cost them their jobs!
By Martin D. Weiss
June 16, 2009
While most pundits are still grasping at anecdotal "green shoots" to celebrate the beginning of a "recovery," the hard data just released by the Federal Reserve reveals a continuing collapse of unprecedented dimensions.
It's all in the Fed's Flow of Funds Report for the first quarter of 2009, which I've posted on our website with the key numbers in a red box for all those who would like to see the evidence.
Here are the highlights:
Credit disaster (page 11). First and foremost, the Fed's numbers demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the credit market meltdown, which struck with full force after the Lehman Brothers failure last September, actually got a lot worse in the first quarter of this year.
This directly contradicts Washington's thesis that the government's TARP program and the Fed's massive rescue efforts began to have an impact early in the year.
In reality, the credit market shutdown actually gained tremendous momentum in the first quarter. And although it's natural to expect some temporary stabilization from the government's massive interventions, the first quarter was SO bad, it's impossible for me to imagine any scenario in which the crisis could be declared "over."
Here are the facts:
- We witnessed one of the biggest collapses of all time in "open market paper" — mostly short-term credit provided to finance mortgages, auto loans, and other businesses. Instead of growing as it had in almost every prior quarter in history, it collapsed at the annual rate of $662.5 billion. (See line 2.)
- Banks lending went into the toilet. Even in the fourth quarter, when the meltdown struck, banks were still growing their loan portfolios at an annual pace of $839.7 billion. But in the first quarter, they did far more than just cut back on new lending. They actually took in loan repayments (or called in existing loans) at a much faster pace than they extended new ones! They literally pulled out of the credit markets at the astonishing pace of $856.4 billion per year, their biggest cutback of all time (line 7).
- Meanwhile, nonbank lenders (line 8) pulled out at the annual rate of $468 billion, also the worst on record.
- Mortgage lenders (line 9) pulled out for a third straight month. (Their worst on record was in the prior quarter.)
- And consumers (line 10) were shoved out of the market for credit at the annual pace of $90.7 billion, the worst on record.
- The ONLY major player still borrowing money in big amounts was the United States Treasury Department (line 3), sopping up $1,442.8 billion of the credit available — and leaving LESS than nothing for the private sector as a whole.
Bottom line: The first quarter brought the greatest credit collapse of all time.Excluding public sector borrowing (by the Treasury, government agencies, states, and municipalities), private sector credit was reduced at a mindboggling pace of $1,851.2 billion per year!
And even if you include all the government borrowing, the overall debt pyramid in America shrunk at an annual rate of $255.3 billion (line 1)!
Asset-backed securities (ABS) got hit even harder (page 34). This is the sector where you can find most of the new-fangled "structured" securities — the ones Washington had already identified as a major culprit in the credit disaster.
Did they make any headway in stopping the ABS collapse? None whatsoever! The total outstanding in this sector (line 3) fell at an annual pace of $623.4 billion in the first quarter, the WORST ON RECORD!
U.S. security brokers and dealers were smashed (page 36). Brokers were forced to reduce their total investments at the breakneck annual pace of $1,159.2 billion in the first quarter, after an even hastier retreat in the prior quarter (line 3)!
What's even more revealing is that they were so pressed for cash, they had to dump their Treasury security holdings in massive amounts — at an annual pace of $424 billion (line 7)!
Given the Treasury's desperate need for financing from any source, that's not a good sign!
Government agencies got killed (page 43). Households dumped their Ginnie Maes, Fannie Maes, Freddie Macs, and other government-agency or GSE securities like never before in history, unloading them at the go-to-hell annual clip of $1,395.7 billion (line 6).
And the rest of the world (mostly foreign investors), which had started unloading these securities in the third quarter of last year, continued to do so at a fevered pace (line 10).
Mortgages got chopped again (page 48). Home mortgages outstanding were slashed at an annual clip of $87.3 billion in the second quarter of last year, $324.2 billion in the third quarter, $271 billion in the fourth, and another $61 billion in the first quarter of this year (line 2).
A slowdown in the collapse? For now, perhaps. But the first quarter also brought the very first reduction in commercial mortgages, an early sign of bigger commercial real estate troubles ahead (line 4).
Trade credit is dying (page 51, second table). If you're in business and you don't have cash on hand to buy inventories, supplies, or other materials, beware! Large and small corporations all over the country have been slashing trade credit at an accelerating pace (line 3).
In the first quarter of last year, this aspect of the credit crisis was still in its early stages; trade credit outstanding was shrinking at an annual pace of just $15 billion. But by the second quarter, this new disaster burst onto the scene at gale force, with trade credit getting docked at the rate of $151.2 billion per year. And most recently, in the first quarter of 2009, it was slashed at the shocking pace of $277.2 billion per year.
And I repeat:
With ALL of these figures, we're not talking about a decline in new credit being provided, which would be bad enough. We're talking about a collapse that's so deep and pervasive, it actually wipes out 100 percent of the new credit and brings about a net reduction in the credit outstanding — a veritable dismantling of America's once-immutable debt pyramid!
For the long-term health of our country, less debt is not a bad thing. But for 2009 and the years ahead, it's likely to be traumatic, delivering...
The Most Wealth Losses of All Time
Who is suffering the biggest and most pervasive losses? U.S. households and nonprofit organizations (page 105)!
The losses have been across the board — in real estate, stocks, mutual funds, family businesses, life insurance policies, and pension funds.
In U.S. households alone, the losses have been massive: $1.39 trillion in the third and fourth quarters of 2007 (not shown on page 105) ... a gigantic $10.89 trillion in 2008 ... $1.33 trillion in the first quarter of 2009 ... $13.87 trillion in all, by far the worst of all time.
And these losses have equally massive consequences for 2009 and 2010:
- Deep cutbacks in consumer spending ahead, plus a virtual disappearance of conspicuous consumption ...
- More massive sales declines at most of America's giant manufacturers, retail firms, transportation companies, restaurants, and more, plus...
- Big losses replacing profits at most U.S. corporations!
- Rescues That Make the Crisis Worse
The U.S. government has taken radical, unprecedented steps to counter this credit collapse. And for the moment, it HAS been able to avert a financial meltdown.
But no government, even one run amuck with spending and money printing, can replace $13.87 trillion in losses by households.
Consider just two of the government's most egregious escapades:
On January 7, Fed Chairman Bernanke was so desperate to revive U.S. mortgage markets that he embarked on a new, radical program to buy up mortgage-backed securities. So far, he has pumped over a half trillion dollars of fresh federal money into that market. But it has barely made a dent; despite all his efforts, mortgage rates have zoomed higher anyway, snuffing out a mini-boom in mortgage refinancing.
Four months later, on May 17, the Fed was so desperate to revive other credit markets, it even caved in to industry appeals to finance recreational vehicles, speedboats, and snowmobiles, according to Saturday's New York Times. But that has barely made a dent in those industries.
And the expansion of direct Fed financing to these esoteric areas is not possible without greatly damaging the credibility — and credit — of the U.S. government. Result: Higher interest rates.
Can Mr. Bernanke take even MORE radical steps? Can he trek where no other modern-day central banker has ever gone before?
Not without shooting himself in the foot! It still won't be enough to avert a continuation of the debt crisis. Indeed, all it can accomplish is to kindle inflation fears, drive interest rates even higher, and actually sabotage any revival in the credit markets.
Look. The nearly $14 trillion in financial losses suffered by U.S. households has inevitable consequences. And massive, nonstop borrowings by the U.S. Treasury in the months ahead — driving interest rates still higher — can only make them worse.
My urgent warning: If you fall for Wall Street's siren song that "the crisis is over," you could be in for a fatal surprise.
Don't believe them. Follow the numbers I have highlighted here. Then, reach your own, independent conclusions.
April 17, 2009
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington , DC 20500
I have had it with you and your administration, sir. Your conduct on your recent trip overseas has convinced me that you are not an adequate representative of the United States of America collectively or of me personally.
You are so obsessed with appeasing the Europeans and the Muslim world that you have abdicated the responsibilities of the President of the United States of America. You are responsible to the citizens of the United States. You are not responsible to the peoples of any other country on earth.
I personally resent that you go around the world apologizing for the United States, telling Europeans that we are arrogant and do not care about their status in the world. Sir, what do you think the First World War and the Second World War were all about if not the consideration of the peoples of Europe? Are you brain dead? What do you think the Marshall Plan was all about? Do you not understand or know the history of the 20th century?
Where do you get off telling a Muslim country that the United States does not consider itself a Christian country? Have you not read the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States? This country was founded on Judeo-Christian ethics and the principles governing this country, at least until you came along, come directly from this heritage.
Do you not understand this? Your bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia is an affront to all Americans. Our President does not bow down to anyone, let alone the king of Saudi Arabia. You didn't show Great Britain, our best and one of our oldest allies, the respect they deserve yet you bow down to the king of Saudi Arabia. How dare you, sir! How dare you!
You can't find the time to visit the graves of our greatest generation because you don't want to offend the Germans but make time to visit a mosque in Turkey. You offended our dead and every veteran when you give the Germans more respect than the people who saved the German people from themselves. What's the matter withyou?
I am convinced that you and the members of your administration have the historical and intellectual depth of a mud puddle and should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you. You are so self-righteously offended by the big bankers and the American automobile manufacturers yet do nothing about the real thieves in this situation, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Frank, Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelic, the Fannie Mae bonuses, and the Freddie Mac bonuses.What do you intend to do about them? Anything? I seriously doubt it.
What about the U.S. House members passing out $9.1 million in bonuses to their staff members - on top of the $2.5 million in automatic pay raises that lawmakers gave themselves? I understand the average House aide got a 17% bonus. I took a 5% cut in my pay to save jobs with my employer. You haven't said anything about that. Who authorized that? I surely didn't!
Executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be receiving $210 million in bonuses over an eighteen-month period, that's $45 million more than the AIG bonuses. In fact, Fannie and Freddie executives have already been awarded $51 million - not a bad take. Who authorized that and why haven't you expressed your outrage at this group who are largely responsible for the economic mess we have right now?
I resent that you take me and my fellow citizens as brain-dead and not caring about what you idiots do. We are watching what you are doing and we are getting increasingly fed up with all of you. I also want you to know that I personally find just about everything you do and say to be offensive to every one of my sensibilities. I promise you that I will work tirelessly to see that you do not get achance to spend two terms destroying my beautiful country.
Ms Kathleen Lyday
Fourth Grade Teacher
Grandview Elementary School
11470 Hwy. C
Hillsboro, MO 63050
"I recently attended a breakfast meeting where the speaker/guest was David E. Cole, Chairman, Center for Automotive Research (CAR). You have all likely heard Cole CAR quoted, or referred to in the auto industry news lately.
Mr. Cole, who is an engineer by training, told many stories of the difficulty of working with the folks that the Obama administration has sent to save the auto industry. There have been many meetings where a 30+ year experience automotive expert has to listen to a newcomer to the industry, someone with zero manufacturing experience, zero auto industry experience, zero business experience, zero finance experience, and zero engineering experience, tell them how to run their business.
His favorite story is as follows:
There was a team of Obama people speaking to Mr. Cole (engineer, 40+ years automotive experience, Chairman of CAR). They were explaining to Mr. Cole that the auto companies needed to make a car that was electric and liquid natural gas (LNG) with enough combined fuel to go 500 miles so we wouldn't "need" so many gas stations (a whole other topic).
They were quoting BTU's of LNG and battery life that they had looked up on some website. Mr. Cole explained that to do this you would need a trunk FULL of batteries and a LNG tank as big as a car to make that happen and that there were problems related to the laws of physics that prevented them from...
At this point, the Obama person interrupted and said (and I am quoting here) "The laws of physics? Whose rules are those, we need to change that."
As this government schmuck expounded on the topic, some of his cohorts frantically wrote down the “law name” so they could look it up.
The Obama person continued: “We have the congress and the administration. We can repeal that law, amend it, or use an executive order to get rid of that problem. That's why we are here, to fix these sorts of issues."
Ford Engineer (Name withheld for obvious reasons)
P.S. Liquid natural gas (LNG) is stored at -260F. I don’t believe they had their facts correct. Perhaps they were thinking about compressed natural gas (CNG) in which case a huge tank would be required for that service. In any event, tis very sad.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Obama frets on debt, sees U.S. unemployment rising
ReutersTuesday, June 16, 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that worrying about the U.S. government's finances "keeps me awake at night" and the country needed to start planning now to tackle soaring deficits.
In a pair of interviews on CNBC and Bloomberg television, Obama defended increasing government spending to prevent the recession from worsening, and warned the unemployment rate may hit 10 percent this year, a level not seen since 1983.
"There's no doubt that we've got a serious problem in terms of our long-term deficits and debt," he told CNBC. "I make no apologies for having acted short term to deal with our recession."
But he said once the recession ends, "we're going to have to close that gap between the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out."
The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the federal deficit would hit $1.43 trillion in fiscal 2010 under Obama's budget plan, slightly higher than it had previously forecast.
Obama said unless the United States can contain its long-term debt and deficits, foreign investors may shun U.S. assets, driving up borrowing costs for the government as well as households and businesses.
"I am concerned about the long-term issue of our structural deficit and our long-term debt because if we don't get a handle on that then there's no doubt that at some point whether it's the Chinese, the Koreans, the Japanese, whoever else has been snatching up Treasuries are going to decide that this is too much of a risk," he told Bloomberg.
Rising health care costs put the biggest strain on the budget, so curbing those costs would help shore up U.S. finances, he said. Obama has proposed overhauling the health care system to cover those without insurance, but critics have questioned how he will pay for that without worsening the fiscal position.
He said the pace of job losses was slowing and the economy was "going to turn around," but the unemployment rate would probably rise from its current level of 9.4 percent.
Economists advising the American Bankers Association forecast earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. unemployment rate would peak at 10 percent, although they did not expect it to reach that mark until early in 2010.
"You're starting to see the engines of the economy turn," Obama said on Bloomberg. "It's going to take a long time. We had a huge deleveraging that took place, but I'm confident that if we take the steps that are necessary on healthcare, on energy, on education. If we get a strong financial regulatory system in place so people have confidence in the markets again, that we will end up seeing a recovery shortly."
H.R. 1728: The Death of Creative Financing
Mandelman Matters blog
June 11, 2009
H.R. 1728 passed the House by an overwhelming majority in a record three days time. Now it’s in the Senate and is widely expected to pass quickly as well. Why the rush? Is AIG planning to hand out zillions in bonuses again?
My guess would be that our elected representatives and their banking benefactors would prefer that we don’t know anything about it.
Consider this scenario:
You own a house. You want to sell it.
Someone wants to buy it.
You decide to sell it to the person who wants to buy it and carry the paper yourself for whatever reason. Maybe you want the income instead of the cash. Maybe you’re just particularly fond of the buyer, I don’t know.
I’m sorry… you can’t. It’s illegal.
Huh? Excuse me. It’s my house… Why can’t I sell it to whomever I choose, however I choose.
Nope, sorry. You’ll have to become a “lender” and get a lender’s license.
Why? I’m not a lender.
Well, because you’re only allowed to sell your own house once every three years without going through the bank for a mortgage. And there are a lot more rules than that, believe it or not.
It has to be a 30-year, fully amortizing loan and you must comply with RESPA regulations, provide Truth in Lending documentation, and “verify” that the borrower is able to repay the loan, just like the banks don’t.
You can read the bill for yourself… I’m going to stop right here for a moment.
The moniker for the HR 1728 bill is the Mortgage Lending and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, so it sounds absolutely fabulous, doesn’t it? It sounds like something we’ve needed for a long time… a bill to stop “predatory lending”. Who could possibly be against that?
(Before I go on, I’d like to register my extreme displeasure at being treated like I’m four years old by our elected representatives. They obviously believe that I’ll be happy to eat cow pies if they’ll just call them Ding Dongs.)
Look, obviously this is an important piece of legislation. After all, just look at what caused this unstoppable catastrophic meltdown in the first place. If it weren’t for a bunch of individual homeowners selling their own homes to other people and carrying back the paper themselves we never would have gotten into this mess in the first place. Those sellers obviously have to be stopped.
There’s another clause in this bill that I found absolutely unbelievable. The bill says that if you own rental units and the government decides that you’re at risk of foreclosure, the government can seize your property… before you’re foreclosed on, mind you. Someone wakes up in the morning and decides that you might lose your units to foreclosure, and you are screwed.
You want time to go over that one again? It’s perfectly understandable if you do.
What it said was that the legislation makes it possible for the government to seize your rental units if they deem that you are at risk of losing the property to foreclosure. I assume the intent is to prevent renters from being put out of their rented homes, which is perfectly understandable because everyone knows that it’s only okay to put actual homeowners out of their homes.
Now, I know that usually I like to go into some level of detail on these types of things, but this time I’m keeping it short and sweet. A memo ought to do it…
[Click here for the entire blog: http://mandelman.ml-implode.com/2009/06/now-the-banks-want-to-stop-you-from-selling-your-own-home-without-them/]
The Heritage Foundation
Yesterday the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a preliminary analysis of the Kennedy-Dodd health care plan, and the results were truly frightening. Assessing just Title I of the draft legislation, CBO estimated the plan would add $1 trillion to the federal deficit while only extending health insurance to a net 16 million more Americans.
As scary as that is, what is even more disturbing is what costs the CBO did not estimate: “The proposal does not include a ‘public plan’ that would be offered in the exchanges, nor does it contain provisions that would require employers to offer health insurance benefits or impose a fee or tax on them if they did not offer insurance coverage to their workers.”
Even without the public plan, the CBO analysis undercuts one of the fundamental promises President Barack Obama has repeatedly made about health care reform. Speaking to the American Medical Association yesterday, President Obama promised: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
The CBO disagrees. According to their analysis, while the Kennedy-Dodd bill would enable 39 million Americans to obtain health insurance, the plan would kick about 15 million people out of the system because their employers would no longer offer insurance, and coverage from other sources would decline by 8 million.
These numbers will only look worse once a public plan is factored in. And the public plan is just one of the biggest problems in the Kennedy-Dodd bill: A Public Plan Will Deprive Millions of Americans of Their Current Health Care - An independent analysis by the Lewin Group, for example, shows that a public plan depending on eligibility and payments rates could result in up to 119.1 million Americans being switched by their employers from their existing coverage or transferred to government-sponsored coverage so that employers can reduce benefit costs.
Thus a public plan, especially combined with a mandate on employers to offer government-specified coverage or pay a tax, would mean that millions of Americans would be pushed out of the private coverage they have today.
Mandates on Businesses and Individuals Act as Costly New Tax - The committee bill would impose “a shared responsibility” on both individuals and employers to pay for health coverage. These requirements amount to mandates, though the penalties are not spelled out.
An employer mandate would be a regressive tax on business that would be directly shifted to employees in the form of reduced future wages or job losses. It would also spur many employers to drop private coverage, paying the tax rather than having to buy government-specified insurance. An individual mandate would force Americans to buy a set of health benefits designed by the government or suffer some penalty.
Federal Regulation of Health Insurance Undermine State Flexibility - Under the committee bill, Congress and federal officials would exert a high degree of control over health insurance, including underwriting and rating rules, and would prescriptively organize the market for competing health plans. That would limit the ability of states to design rules and market rules that fit local conditions.
As more details are added to the Kennedy-Dodd plan, its trillion-dollar price tag will only go up. And there is still nothing in the bill about how to pay for all the new spending. That means trillions more debt for our children.
There is an alternative. A patient centered alternative that keeps health care decisions between doctors and patients instead of centralizing power in Washington. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) bill, the Patient’s Choice Act, is just one example of what that approach could look like. Listen to Ryan explain his proposal, here.