Wednesday, December 31, 2008
WASHINGTON - Government officials overseeing a $700 billion bailout have acknowledged difficulties tracking the money and assessing the program's effectiveness.
The information was contained in a document, released Wednesday, of a Dec. 10 meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Board. The panel, headed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, includes Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Securities and Exchange Commission chief Christopher Cox.
While offering no details, the document also mentioned that officials at that meeting discussed "potential methods" of using the bailout program to help curb home foreclosures and ease problems in the housing market.
More broadly, the officials discussed "the difficulty of isolating the effects" of the bailout program "given the variety of policy actions taken by the U.S. government to support financial stability and promote economic growth."
The officials also noted the "difficulties associated with monitoring the use of specific funds" provided to individual financial institutions, according to the document.
The bailout program, created Oct. 3, is designed to break through a debilitating credit clog and spur financial markets to operate more normally again. Credit and financial woes - along with a severe housing crisis - have plunged the economy into a painful recession.
In a separate report responding to questions from the top congressional watchdog overseeing the bailout, the Treasury Department defended its management of the program amid criticisms about confusing shifts in strategy.
Paulson's decision to focus the program on providing banks and other companies with capital injections - rather than the original strategy of buying rotten assets from banks- was necessary to respond to quickly changing financial market conditions, according to the new Treasury report.
Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, the chairwoman of a congressional oversight panel, has said she didn't understand why it's taken so long for the Bush administration to explain its plan. The five-member panel - made up of three Democratic appointees, including Warren, and two Republicans - has criticized Treasury for not saying exactly what problems they're trying to fix or how the investments will fix them.
The government has pledged to provide $250 billion to banks in return for partial ownership. The goal is for banks to use the money to boost lending. However, a recent review by The Associated Press found that after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks can't say exactly how they're spending the money. Some wouldn't even talk about it.
The idea behind the capital injection program is for banks to use the money to rebuild reserves and lend more freely to customers. However, banks do have leeway to use the money for other things, such as buying other banks, paying dividends to investors or bonuses to executives. That's touched a nerve with some lawmakers and other critics.
Money from the bailout pot also has been used for other things, including throwing a financial lifeline to ailing auto companies Chrysler and General Motors Corp., and teetering insurance giant American International Group. Money also was used to back a rescue for Citigroup Inc.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
All we know for sure is that some banks used the funds to get bigger by buying other smaller banks.
And, oh yes, they did pay out $1.6 billion in bonuses to their top executives.
Keep working to pay taxes so Congress can continue to reward such behavior and failing enterprises that make large campaign contributions. Just keep working and keep your mouth shut.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Every one of these poohbahs takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution yet almost none of them ever intends to do so. Very few of them have any understanding of that document. Fewer appreciate and value it. And one has to wonder how many of them ever even have read it.
One of our local congressional representative even has had the gall to proclaim that the Constitution is out of date, no longer relevant, and passe, likening it to a blue dress that she had when she was a little girl but that she now has outgrown.
A nation governed by such faithless clods, charlatans, and scoundrels has no moorings. It is adrift and subject to the whims of the moment and the mob. It cannot prosper or endure.
The U.S. Department of Energy was created on August 4, 1977, during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, to lessen America's dependence on foreign oil.
At the time, the U.S. imported slightly less than 30% of its oil.
The U.S. now imports more than 65% of its oil. But worry not: the department has about 16,000 employees, about 100,000 more contract employees, and a 2008 budget of $24.2 billion.
The Federal Reserve Bank was instituted in 1913 to (i) prevent bank failures, and (ii) maintain price stability.
Prior to 1913 no more than 496 banks failed in any one year. Since then as many as 4,400 banks have failed in a single year.
In the century prior to enactment of the Federal Reserve Act wholesale prices fell by 6%. They have risen by 1,300% in the 95 years since then.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The appropriate response to such demands: "Who the hell do you think you are? F _ _ CK YOU!" (However, do this courteously and with kindness. The person calling is a low level or perhaps even hourly contract employee -- not one of the executives who shared in the $1.6 billion in bonuses that the banks paid with the taxpayer bailout funds our rulers bestowed on them.)
And the automakers getting taxpayer funded bailouts deserve the same response when they try to get you to buy one of their products. They and their products should be shunned.
Each bill has a stated value -- one dollar, five dollars, ten dollars, twenty, fifty, a hundred . . . whatever.
In fact though, none of the pieces of paper has any intrinsic value. Each of them is worth only what you can purchase with it. And your ability to purchase anything is absolutely dependent on the acceptance and valuation of your pieces of paper by the seller of anything you wish to purchase.
Suppose that the baker from whom you are want to buy a loaf of bread were to demand gold in exchange for his bread. In that case you would have to exchange currency with a face value in excess of $800 for an ounce of gold that you could have purchased for less than $400 in the same currency just a few years ago.
The change in the price of gold -- which is quite stable in terms of the real things for which a given quantity of it can be exchanged -- reflects the diminishing value of the American dollar.
American currency once had a real value because it was backed by gold. That is no longer true. The American dollar now is a fiat currency -- a currency valued solely by, and in accordance with governmental decree. Throughout human human history fiat currencies always have eventually collapsed and become valueless. The U.S. has dressed up its fiat currency by proclaiming that it is backed by the "full faith and credit" of the federal government. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that out government is faithless and not worthy of either credit or credibility. Hence the value of our currency is plummeting . . . and on its way to collapse.
To understand this, one must realize that anything the government spends must -- because the government produces nothing -- first be taken by it from the productive economy. It takes what it pleases, at the expense of the productive economy and productive citizens -- either through taxes, by borrowing, or by simply printing as much currency as it wishes -- a process called monetization that diminishes the value, the buying power, of dollars held by private individuals and entities.
Tax revenues are falling sharply with the economy in shambles and cannot be raised without deepening and lengthening the decline. Our major financial institutions were "rescued" from the brink of ruin by government bailouts. But except for paying huge executive bonuses, the institutions are hoarding the proceeds of the bailouts instead of pumping them into the economy. Other segments of the economy -- everything large enough to pay five and six figure bribes -- called campaign contributions in polite company -- also are on the way to being kept afloat with government bailouts.
Ordinary people of coarse share in the bailouts only in that they pay for them . . . and their children, their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren also will be paying for them.
Spending and the resulting debt on the scale that has been established by the government in recent decades is unsustainable. Citing the nation's $66 trillion deficit has almost no impact on most individuals because a trillion dollars is an amount so enormous that it is beyond the comprehension, or even the imagination of most people.
Thanks are due to the Cambridge Forum for providing the following fascinating illustration:
A $1 billion stack of thousand dollar bills would be 350 feet high.
A $1 trillion stack of thousand dollar bills would be 65 miles high.
The most forward looking people are converting their savings into essential things that will retain their value and be useful, both practically and for bartering, when the house of cards that the government has created comes tumbling down, as it inevitably must. They are stocking up on things like nonperishable foods, gold, tools, firearms, and large quantities of ammunition
Meanwhile, the foreign lenders that have viewed the dollar as a safe haven and financed our extravagances are becoming skittish about further advances to our profligate government.
They and forward looking Americans anticipate that in the coming years the nominally independent Federal Reserve will continue to act as it has in the recent bailout programs as an adjunct to the rest of the federal government. It probably will accelerate the printing of additional currency, inflation, and the consequent debasement of the dollar to enable the government to meet its obligations with currency worth far less than it is today.
But the problem is far too big for that to work. The biggest Ponzi scheme in history -- Madoff was peanuts by comparison -- is going to come apart as baby boomers retire and begin drawing social security benefits. To pay these benefits we would have to print so many dollars that the value of the monthly benefit would barely meet the inflated cost of a loaf of bread.
So, what is to be done?
Fear not. The government is ready with a solution. One of them, as is indicated in this report, is that it is preparing to use our armed forces, the military, to keep citizens under control.
The other, which has not yet surfaced, will be to encourage older people -- those who might remember things like the Constitution, limited government, individual freedom, government accountability, and other such pesky ideas from better days -- to die. This will begin by rationing, then by withholding medical care for them, and ultimately by euthanasia. It will be done with feel-good phrases like "death with dignity," and "not wanting to be a burden," and "merciful release from suffering," all of which will seek to obscure that we will be killing people without their consent for the "greater good."
16 October 1778
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We now are being told, in an Obama organization report on an investigation of itself, that the President Elect is above all this, that he does not have and has not had any preference for any candidate for the position, and that in a half dozen or more conversations that members of his organization had with the governor or the governor's staff, nothing untoward was mentioned.
Now suppose that the recordings that you, as the above described prosecutor, have in your possession include one or more that contradict what the Obama organization is saying. As a patriotic American do you make public information indicating that the President Elect has been less than forthright about his interactions with other members of the political machine in which he participated with all of the other players in the sordid tale of how Illinois is governed? I suggest not . . . and that any such recording will forever be kept from the public -- in, of course, the public interest.
Nonetheless, there are a couple of problems with the Obama organization's report on its internal investigation. The first one is that its release was calculated to occur, as it did, when neither Mr. Obama nor his chief of staff were available to respond to questions about the matter. Furthermore, there is the problem of the previous release of a recording in which the governor of Illinois is heard cursing the Obama organization for refusing to pay or confer any benefit on the governor in exchange for appointing an Obama preferred candidate to the soon to be vacant position.
If the Obama organization's report clearing everybody within it of any "pay for play" discussion with the Illinois statehouse gang is correct, what could the governor have been cursing about? It appears likely that someone within the Obama organization received, and at best rejected, a "pay for play" request from someone in the Illinois statehouse gang. And, if that occurred, the involved Obama staff member at best failed to report a demand for a bribe.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Question: How will our troops and their officers respond to orders to fire on their countrymen?
Monday, December 22, 2008
"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world."
"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
Saturday, December 20, 2008
In all the accounts of the President's unilateral decision to "loan" billions of dollars from the public treasury to Detroit's automakers there has not been a single citation of any legal authority for that action. It seems it hasn't even occurred to our curiously incurious press to question whether there is any such authority.
Mr. Bush clearly doesn't want to add the collapse of the industrial dinosaurs to the legacy of his failed presidency. So he is taking money that Congress appropriated to prop up failing financial institutions to delay the extinction of the uncompetitive manufacturing behemoths. It's a bait and switch scam and probably unlawful as only Congress is empowered by the Constitution to determine how funds are to be spent from the public treasury. And, in this instance, the President is diverting funds from an appropriation enacted by Congress for one thing to an altogether different purpose. Moreover, the other purpose and the terms on which the diversion is to take place were considered and rejected by Congress.
The President's action is being applauded by the benefitted United Auto Workers union. Its members will continue to receive their bloated wages and benefits from tax money collected largely from lower paid workers engaged throughout the country in enterprises that don't receive similar subsidies.
Whatever practical merits the bailout may have, if -- as appears to be the case -- it lacks a valid legal basis, it means the President is not bound by law and has become a law unto himself -- in other words, a tyrannical despot.
Yet nobody seems to notice or care.
Friday, December 19, 2008
"I have been able to detect this phenomenon around the entire Northern Hemisphere. And here is the scary part: the daylight appears to be leaking to the Southern Hemisphere.
"I thought I should bring it to the attention of great scientists like Al Gore so he can help solve this new crisis."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
As Benjamin Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom , in water there is bacteria.
In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E.coli) - bacteria found in feces. In other words, we would be consuming 1 kilo of poop.
However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine and beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.Remember:
Wine = Health
Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit
There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm posting it as a public service .
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
"(CNSNews.com) – Thirty-six of the 50 states are now facing budget deficits in fiscal 2009, according to a mid-year report released Monday [December 15] by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. At the same time, 22 of those states facing deficits have adopted budgets that call for increased spending in fiscal year 2009. "
New national slogan for our time: "When in trouble or in doubt, run in circles and spend, scream and spend and borrow, and shout and spend and borrow and print."
And while we're at it, let's rename all of D.C.'s athletic teams the Washington Wastrels.
If you take the time to read this slowly and pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. Those who have lived in Texas know how true this is. One actual Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park.
Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, Illinois
Frank: 'Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table, asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy; and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3.'
Here are the scorecard notes from the event:
MIKE'S MANIAC MONSTER CHILI
Judge # 1 -- A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.
Judge # 2 -- Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.
Judge # 3 (Frank) -- Holy crap, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.
AUSTIN 'S AFTERBURNER CHILI
Judge # 1 -- Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeno tang.
Judge # 2 -- Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.
Judge # 3 -- Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.
FRED'S FAMOUS BURN DOWN THE BARN CHILI
Judge # 1 -- Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.
Judge # 2 -- A bit salty, good use of peppers.
Judge # 3 -- Call the EPA.=2 0I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced from all of the beer.
BUBBA'S BLACK MAGIC
Judge # 1 -- Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.
Judge # 2 -- Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.
Judge # 3 -- I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT .. just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?
LISA'S LEGAL LIP REMOVER
Judge # 1 -- Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.
Judge # 2 -- Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.
Judge # 3 -- My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted, and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really ticks me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.
VERA'S VERY VEGETARIAN VARIETY
Judge # 1 -- Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.
Judge # 2 -- The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, garlic. Superb.
Judge # 3 -- My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I crapped on myself when I farted, and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my butt with a snow cone.
SUSAN'S SCREAMING SENSATION CHILI
Judge # 1 -- A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.
Judge # 2 -- Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.
Judge # 3 -- You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.
BIG TOM'S TOENAIL CURLING CHILI
Judge # 1 -- The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.
Judge # 2 -- This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor feller, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?
Judge # 3 - No Report
No matter what anyone does or says!
You truly must take responsibility for being you own "First Responder." Everyone else -- even the Secret Service in the case of the President -- is and aways will be too late!
15 Dec 08
"Secret Service Failure?
"We were treated today to videos of a 'reporter' at a Baghdad new conference, throwing a shoe at the U.S. President yesterday, and then throwing a second shoe, again at the President, moments later!
"President Bush, in yet another surprise visit to the War Zone, gets militantly assaulted by a local goof, who, as it turns out, has a reputation for violence.
"The screening process should keep miscreants like this one out of throwing-distance from the President, but, realistically, I suppose our President may have to dodge a thrown object now and then.
"What I can't understand is why he was compelled to dodge two!
"Why didn't the second thrown shoe hit a Secret Service Special Agent? Why was not the President instantly shielded and then unceremoniously ushered out of there? If they're going to just stand there while the President dodges missiles, neither protecting him, nor abrogating the threat, I'm wondering why we even have a Secret Service Presidential Protective Detail!"
from The Wall Street Journal
Dec. 16, 2008
"SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said initial findings of an investigation into the commission's handling of the Bernard Madoff case are 'deeply troubling.' In a statement, Mr. Cox said the investigation has discovered that Mr. Madoff 'kept several sets of books and false documents, and provided false information involving his advisory activities to investors and to regulators.'
"Mr. Cox said the SEC had 'credible and specific allegations' going back to at least 1999 that were not aggressively pursued by the staff. The agency relied only on Mr. Madoff's voluntary production of statements and reports and never carried out subpoenas of other information, in what he described as "multiple failures.'
"He also said any SEC staff members who knew Mr. Madoff were recused from the current investigation."
"Just wanted to relate an cathartic experience that just happened to me this past weekend.
"I live in New England, and last weekend my town was at the epicenter of a winter storm that coated everything with an inch of ice. Tree limbs littered the street. Utility lines and poles were pulled to the ground. We had no power for twenty-four hours. Travel, even by foot, was all but impossible for most of Saturday
"Sunday, the ice quickly melted, and I discovered that one of my horses was AWOL. I called our local police to let them know whom to call when someone found a stray horse.
"There was no answer! No harried dispatcher asking if I could hold. No-call forwarding to the State Police. Not even an answering machine! The phone rang for ten minutes, with no answer. This is an upscale town of 15,000, with a full-time chief of police and ten, full-time officers, several non-sworn employees, and a brand-new, magnificent police station! I tried again an hour later. Same result!
"My horse returned later that day (when she got hungry,) so all is well. But, for the first time since we've lived here, I started to think about what would have happened if a violent criminal were breaking down my door. What if someone were really trying to harm me?
"I've always heard from the liberal media that I didn't need to own guns, nor give even the slightest thought to my own safety, as the police are there to protect me. Well, they weren't there last weekend!
"The event shook me up!
"This storm was localized and short-lived. What is going to happen when a disaster, or international event, affects the entire State, or all of New England for that mater, maybe for weeks? Who will protect me from violent criminals then?
"The lesson really hit home for me when I needed help, and found only an unanswered phone."
My friend, who is a veteran combat officer, a senior and highly competent law enforcement officer as well as a firearms and personal safety and security consultant and instructor commented as follows:
"I don't know how many times things like this have to happen before Americans finally, honestly confront the woeful limitations of government!
"Here, we see a small police department altogether overwhelmed by a short-lived, localized weather event. I'm sure they did the best they could, but they were instantly in over their heads, and public expectations suffered, as we see.
"Those 'expectations' are probably unrealistic anyway! They're based on perfect weather, perfect conditions, and no surprises. They represent little more than wishful thinking!
"We need to ask liberal politicians, who are tirelessly working to incrementally legislate all the uncertainties out of life, if they plan on legislating the weather too! If not, the rest is an exercise in futility. All they really accomplish is the suffocation of our individual freedom.
"If I were cynical, I might even suspect that was their real purpose from the beginning!"
Thanks are due to the Cambridge Forum for providing the following fascinating illustration:
A $1 million stack of thousand dollar bills would be four inches high.
A $1 billion stack of thousand dollar bills would be 350 feet high.
A $1 trillion stack of thousand dollar bills would be 65 miles high.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
They are doubling their bets and, unless they are going to pay people to borrow and spend, they are all in. There's virtually nothing else they can do.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the government's financial experts -- the same folks who created the current situation -- have no idea of what they're doing or what they are dealing with. They're just thrashing about in confusion and despair, hoping that something will work before the peasants show up on their doorstep carrying pitchforks and torches.
What, you might ask, are Caroline's qualifications for the office?
She has none, zip, zero, nada . . . other than, of course, her last name and the sense of entitlement that goes with it.
Makes one wonder why the founders bothered to break away from the British dynastic system in 1776.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Madoff's schemes were costly for those gullible enough to place their faith in what appears to have been a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions. But those losses are minuscule compared to those that the cheapening of our currency is inflicting on those who prudently or foolishly have saved anything and on yet unborn generations who ultimately will have to pay for his delusions of adequacy to deal with the financial crisis that he, his Wall Street buddies, and the government created.
As I've stated previously, a self respecting citizenry long ago would have gathered in Washington with pitchforks and torches, and hanged or, at the very least, coated with tar and feathers and ridden out on a rail all of the federal government's office holders.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The reversal of course is a betrayal of conservative and stated Republican principles. It also stabs in the back the Senate Republicans who in this instance performed magnificently by defeating proposed legislation that would have done what the President now is doing unilaterally. The position of the Senate Republicans was predicated upon the refusal of the United Auto Workers Union to accept cutbacks in their excessive wages and benefits to the standard prevailing in the industry by the end of 2009.
What transpired in the Senate between that body's GOP members and the UAW plutocrats makes it clear that what the President is doing is using taxes paid by ordinary Americans to subsidize and maintain the swollen pay and benefit packages of the UAW's members.
If you are not in line to get similar largess from the public treasury, you are supposed to just keep quiet . . . and keep working and paying your taxes to keep the gravy flowing.
You also might fight back by resolving not to buy anything produced by, or do any business with any entity that receives a government bailout. It also wouldn't hurt to advise those entities and your elected representatives of that commitment.
As for the turncoat W, he soon will join his father as another failed president. Good riddance! With that happy event the rest of us should determine never to vote for another Bush or ever even consider doing so.
Friday, December 12, 2008
. . . Justice Louis D. Brandeis: Olmstead v. U.S.
In considering the above, keep in mind that the Constitution is supposed to be, and once was the supreme law of the land, and an overwhelming majority of the people understood and celebrated it as the bedrock of their individual liberties and freedoms.
In America today, the government has expanded, and almost daily further expands far beyond the bounds prescribed for it by that once revered document. The areas in which the citizenry is free correspondingly have shrunk and continue to shrink. This occurs without protest as an increasingly decadent population complacently accepts the comforts of dependent serfdom as the little noted price of sustenance at the expense of the public treasury.
The people have the right to alter the Constitution. But it should be done after honest and open debate in accordance with the charter document's provisions for its amendment. Instead, it is done in surreptitious increments by unfaithful elected officials who, with no thought at all, routinely and without hesitation or care break their sworn vows to defend and protect the Constitution.
The legal system -- lawyers and judges -- together with the media and virtually all of our elite institutions participate in the relegation of the wonderful work of the country's founders to the dustbin of history. They have hijacked the Constitution and so twisted its intent and meaning that it no longer is understandable by, or meaningful to the ordinary citizens for whom it was written.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Mr. Rangel’s Problems Roll On
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is heading into the new Congress without the quick resolution she dearly hoped for on Representative Charles Rangel’s mushrooming and deeply embarrassing ethics problems.
The normally mute and far-too-passive House ethics committee has done the right thing in announcing that it is broadening its inquiry to look into the recent report that Mr. Rangel — chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — helped preserve a lucrative off-shore tax loophole for an oil drilling executive.
While Mr. Rangel and the executive deny any link, the businessman conveniently pledged $1 million for a planned Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. (Now that’s what we call service from the public.)
“Bar nothing,” demanded Mr. Rangel, the powerful New York Democrat, calling on the ethics panel to look into various questionable dealings. He insists the charges are either false or honest mistakes.
Beyond suspicions about the offshore tax loophole worth tens of millions, the panel must look into Mr. Rangel’s use of congressional letterhead to solicit support for his eponymous center. Then there’s his use of rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem at cut rates and his failure to pay taxes and disclose $75,000 in income from a Dominican villa on which he enjoyed an interest-free mortgage.
The ethics panel must muster the courage to actually vet one of the House lions (especially with voter cynicism again rising with fresh headlines about the Illinois Statehouse scandal). Ms. Pelosi must muster the courage to urge — or demand — that Mr. Rangel give up his chairmanship while the investigation proceeds. If he won’t, she should strip him of his gavel.
There can be no clean start here until the ethics panel answers all of the questions about Mr. Rangel, his center, his apartments, his villa and that loophole. With huge fiscal and tax issues looming for the next Congress, there can be no doubts about the leadership’s priorities.
What this really means is that the czar will unilaterally be running the entire show. He'll dictate how the companies conduct business -- everything from design to engineering, to distribution, to marketing. As for the creditors and labor unions, he'll be negotiating with himself as the government already has effective control of all of the nation's financial institutions, and labor unions are dependent upon the government for their viability, favored status, and power.
All this concentration of power is being portrayed as something to protect taxpayers. When, you might well ask, has safeguarding the lives or property of citizens ever been of concern to Capitol Hill's Collection of Clowns? What it actually amounts to is despotism -- the aggregation of power over a huge portion of the nation's economy and industrial capacity that will greatly expand the federal government's ability to control virtually every aspect of the life of every individual.
Finally, here are two additional questions:
1. Did you know that the bailout legislation provides for a pay raise for federal judges?
2. How much of a fair shake can auto companies that don't get a bailout expect to get in competing with others in which the government has an interest?
Weeks before they came to Washington seeking a financial rescue, corporations and individuals at the center of the nation’s financial crisis contributed a combined $14 million for the Democratic and Republican conventions in Denver and St. Paul, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Campaign Finance Institute.
American International Group, Inc. gave $1.5 million to underwrite the conventions shortly before receiving an $85 billion loan from the government. Freddie Mac, which was receiving federal aid at the time, contributed $500,000. And billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, a major Ford largest shareholder (who also has ties to GM and Chrysler) gave $3.5 million to the host committees through his Lincy Foundation.
Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars on the political conventions in the months before the government’s financial sector rescue.
Direct contributions from corporate and union treasuries to political parties and federal candidates are illegal, but the national conventions provide an alternate route for organizations and individuals to make unlimited donations to political interests. Private interests provided $118 million to finance the two major-party conventions, versus just $16 million in public funding for each party, according to the report.
“If the executives who have come to Washington, hat in hand, looked familiar to members of Congress, maybe it’s because they met over the summer at the conventions,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics.
Banks, hedge funds and investment companies together gave more than $7 million dollars. The report also found that the drug industry provided $9.8 million split between the parties, and computer and internet companies contributed $4.1 million to the Republican convention and $3.1 million to the Democrats. Unions representing government employees gave all of their $2.7 million to the Democrats’ Denver convention.
“By taking advantage of the false distinction between a political party and the committee hosting the party’s convention, unions were able to support the Democratic Party in a way that hasn’t been allowed since the days of soft money, when labor was among the biggest givers," Krumholz said.
As Germany's iron chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, noted: "People sleep better at night when they do not know how their laws or their sausages are made."
Just let your senator and the proposed bailees know that you in the future will never buy anything produced by, or do any business with any entity that receives a government bailout.
If enough of us do this, it should become clear even to the Capitol Hill Clowns and the dopes in Detroit that efforts to save the dinosaurs are doomed to fail and that a transfusion from the public treasury may delay the inevitable bankruptcies but ultimately will amount to no more than throwing good many after bad.
. . . George Washington, draft of first Inaugural Address, April 1789
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
"I believe in common-sense gun safety laws, and I believe in the second amendment," Obama said at a news conference. "Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven't indicated anything different during the transition. I think people can take me at my word."
As an astute observer once said, one can tell when a politician is lying because he is moving his lips. So watch what he actually does rather than listening to what he says. And Mr. Obama has nominated Eric Holder, who has a long record of avidly and fervently opposing gun rights, to serve as his attorney general. What are we supposed to expect from a Justice Department headed by someone who doesn't believe in the Second Amendment?
"The best choice, among many unhappy ones, is to think of terrorists and violent criminals as black-widow spiders. They are what they are, and they'll never change. There are many nests of them, and one is just outside our kitchen door. Nearby, there are a number of cocoons, harboring innocent butterflies. Of course, we have no quarrel with butterflies, but we have to get rid of spiders, because they represent a real and continuing threat to our way of life that cannot be abrogated effectively with any other strategy. There is no possibility of accommodation, nor 'peaceful-coexistence.' Believe me; we've tried!
"Spiders may have a place in nature (don't we all!), but not in my house, thank you. So, we kill spiders, all spiders, as quickly and efficiently as possible. We do our best to spare caterpillars, but, you know, we have to honestly confront the fact that some of them won't live through it!
"The alternative of leaving the spiders where they are is not viable. We can't relocate them, and we can't persuade them to modify their behavior. They' re spiders, and that is all they're every going to be! So, we are left with only rapid, aggressive, violent, surprise attack on them from multiple angles. Clean out the nest. Sadly, some caterpillars will be caught up in it and won't survive.
"That's regrettable, but it's vastly better for the rest of the caterpillars that we destroy spiders before the can multiply. It's not a permanent solution, and we'll probably have to do it again. Nevertheless, the ability of these particular spiders to do us harm is extinguished forever. Thank God!
"Remaining alive and living life is never effortless nor risk-free. It is dangerously naive to think that we'll never have to fight to protect ourselves, our property, and our way of life. We'll be earnestly tested so long as we're here. The threat will never go away, so we can never relax.
"Welcome to Planet Earth!"
Was Mr. Obama too naive or obtuse to recognize what was going on?
Is he again going to get away with piously claiming that "this isn't the governor I knew?"
Monday, December 8, 2008
The essay has both great importance and enormous force -- the force of common sense on a subject on which the received wisdom of orthodox American (and British) thought is garbage. Richard Munday is an English author. An abridged version of the essay was published and can be viewed in the Sunday, December 7, issue of the London Times.
By Richard Munday
For anybody who still believed in it, the Bombay shootings exposed themyth of ‘gun control’. India had some of the strictest firearms laws in the world, going back to the Indian Arms Act of 1878, by which Britain had sought to prevent a recurrence of the Indian Mutiny. The guns used in last week’s Bombay massacre were all ‘prohibited weapons’ under Indian law; just as they are in Britain. In this country (Britain) we have seen the irrelevance of such bans (handgun crime, for instance, doubled here (in Britain) within five years of the prohibition of legal pistol ownership), but the largely drug-related nature of most extreme violence here has left most of us with at best a sheltered awareness of the threat. So far, one has had to be unlucky to be caught like the girls casually machine-gunned outside a Birmingham night club; we have not yet faced a determined and broad-based attack.
The Bombay massacre also exposed the myth that arming the police force guarantees security. Sebastian D’Souza, a picture editor on the Mumbai Mirror who took some of the dramatic pictures of the assault on the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, was angered to find India’s armed police taking cover and apparently failing to engage the gunmen. In Britain, we might recall the prolonged failure of armed police to contain the Hungerford killer, whose rampage lasted over four hours, and who in the end shot himself. In Dunblane too, it was the killer who ended his own career: even at best, police response is almost always belated when gunmen are on the loose. One might think, too, of the McDonald’s massacre in San Ysidro, California, in 1984, where the SWAT team waited for their leader (who was held up in a traffic jam) while 21 unarmed diners were executed.
Rhetoric about standing firm against terrorists aside, in Britain we have no more legal deterrent to prevent an armed assault than did the people of Bombay, and individually we would be just as helpless as victims. The Bombay massacre could happen in London tomorrow; but probably it could not have happened to the Londoners of a hundred years ago.
A century ago the challenge of radical Islam to the British Empire was beyond these shores, but we also faced threats at home from Fenian terrorists and assorted ‘anarchists’. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, in January 1909, two such anarchists, lately come from an attempt to blow up the president of France, tried to commit a robbery in north London, armed with automatic pistols. Edwardian Londoners, however, shot back: and the anarchists were pursued through the streets by a spontaneous hue-and-cry. The police (who could not find the key to their own gun cupboard) borrowed at least four pistols from passers-by, whilst other citizens armed with revolvers and shotguns preferred to use theirweapons themselves to bring the assailants down.
Today we are probably more shocked at the idea of so many ordinary Londoners carrying guns in the street, than we are at the idea of an armed robbery (we now see more armed robberies every week than our armed Edwardians forebears suffered in a year). But the world of Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson, pocketing his revolver before he walked the London streets, was real. This was before Britain’s first Firearms Act, and the ownership and carrying of guns was commonplace. We should recall that
Britain then was neither politically nor socially more stable than it is today: aside from Irish terrorists and domestic firebombers, it was beset by violent industrial unrest that caused the army to be deployed and strikers killed by the cavalry. Social upheaval did indeed cause panic buying of guns: in Birmingham, one worried man told Austen Chamberlain that he had gone out to buy himself five revolvers, but the gunshop said that whilst they had a hundred in the previous day and fifty left that morning, they were now all sold. Yet for all this, the arming of the populace guaranteed rather than disturbed the peace.
That armed England existed within living memory; but it is now so aliento our expectations that it has become a foreign country. Our image of an armed society is conditioned instead by America: or by what we imagine we know about America. It is a skewed image, because (the vaunted Second Amendment notwithstanding) until recently in much of the US it has been illegal to bear arms outside the home or workplace; and therefore only people willing to defy the law, or social predators, have carried weapons. In the past two decades the enactment of ‘right to carry’ legislation in the majority of states, and the issue of permits for the carrying of concealed firearms to citizens of good repute, has brought a radical change. Opponents of the right to bear arms predicted that ‘right to carry’ would cause blood to flow in the streets, but the reverse has been true: violent crime in America has plummeted. There are still, of course, exceptions: America’s ‘murder capital’, Washington DC, maintained its gun ban policy until the Supreme Court ruled against it this year. Likewise Virginia Tech, site of the 2007 massacre of thirty students, was another local ‘gun free zone’ which forbade the bearing of arms even to those with a licence to carry. That circumstance was rather overlooked in reportage of the tragedy; just as the news media overlooked the contrasting experience of the Appalachian Law School in 2002, where after killing three people a gunman was halted by armed students: a ‘massacre’ cut short.
In Britain we are not yet ready to recall the final liberty of the subject listed by William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England as underpinning all the others: "the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence". We would still not be ready to do so, were the Bombay massacre to happen in London tomorrow. Or indeed the next time it happened, for we have become so trusting in the shield of the state, and mistrustful of ourselves.
We might, however, allow ourselves to wonder what would have happened at the Taj Mahal hotel last week, had its clientele been like that of the quiet country hotel once visited by Beatrix Potter in Victorian Yorkshire. In conversation, she discovered that only one of the eight or nine guests was not carrying a revolver.
"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India", Mahatma Gandhi once reflected, "history will look upon the Act denying a whole nation ofarms, as the blackest". The Bombay massacre is a bitter postscript to Gandhi’s comment. Sebastian D’Souza, the newspaper photographer who witnessed the slaughter at the railway station, now laments his own helplessness in the face of the killers: "I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera". There may be many among the hundreds of defenceless victims killed or wounded in Bombay who could fervently have wished likewise.
For an earlier essay on the subject by Mr. Munday, click here.
Crying doesn't do any good, so you may as well laugh . . .
1. Q: What is the one thing Wall Street and the Olympics have in common?
A: Synchronized diving.
2. I went to buy a toaster and it came with a bank.
3. Overheard in a city bar: 'This credit crunch is worse than a divorce. I've lost half my net worth and still have a wife.'
4. What's the capital of Iceland? About $3.50.
5. Q: What is the difference between an investment banker and a pigeon?
A: A pigeon can still make a deposit on a BMW.
6. Q: What is the difference between an investment banker and a large pizza?
A: The pizza can still feed a family of four.
7. Q: What's the definition of optimism?
A: An investment banker who irons 5 shirts on a Sunday night.
8. "I tried to make a withdrawal from an ATM and the machine said 'Insufficient Funds'. I wasn't sure if it meant for me or the bank."
9. "I lent my friend $20 last week and, according to the market, I qualify as the country's fourth largest lender."
10. Broker to Client: "I've got good news - you'll be paying 40% less in fees for the foreseeable future!"
11. I wrote a check for $100 to my friend but he never got it; the check was good -- the bank bounced.
12. The crisis is so bad, bank ATMs now have slot machines
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thus we're going to have the likes of Light Weight Harry Reid, Nasty Nancy Pelosi, and Blustering Barney Frank dictating how the former big three will build cars and run their businesses in the future. They are just as qualified to do that -- and we can expect them to be as successful -- as they have been in conducting the operations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
In other words, the coming bailout will be just the first in what is sure to be a series of very expensive raids on the public treasury to keep the three dinosaurs on life support with our grandchildren's tax dollars.
In addition, the leg up that Congress is readying for the unsuccessful companies will give them an undeserved advantage over, and undermine the positions of their successful and independently viable competitors. But it's of no great moment -- just another display of the politicians' penchant for rewarding and supporting failure and punishing and undermining success.
For an excellent analysis of the situation, take a look at Bridge Loan to Nowhere.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
All one has to know about our abandonment of that concept is that the banks and automakers that are the greatest failures, the ones that lost the most money, are receiving the most bailout money from the public treasury. Our new slogans appear to be:
LOSE MORE, GET MORE
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
People won't buy any fewer cars. They'll just get better ones produced by more efficient, nimble, and vigorous manufacturers, all of whom, in my experience, are far more attentive to their customers' needs and provide superior service. These companies will have to add production capacities and employ additional workers to meet the increased demands for their products. To some presently unascertainable extent, this will offset the loss of jobs with the former big three.
The Detroit companies' subcontractors that are flexible enough to do so will shift to supplying the more efficient producers or they and their employees will be replaced by other enterprises capable of meeting the demands of those manufacturers.
The transition will help some individuals, businesses, and communities, and no doubt hurt many others. But it is a necessary transition. Allowing it to take place is be vastly preferable to delaying it by putting the living dead on an extraordinarily expensive and risky taxpayer funded support system to temporarily prop them up any longer.
The most positive aspect of the whole thing is the likelihood -- or at least the possibility -- that the public and those who are hurt in the transition will come to realize how the blood sucking UAW, the leach like State of Michigan, and the feckless regulation promulgating federal government combined to destroy the once great home grown automobile industry.
the Mumbai, a city of about 14 million people that used to be called Bombay, to its knees. Several hundred people -- the number is still being tallied -- were killed and all activity in the city that is the finance and commerce section of the country was brought to a standstill for three days by fewer than a dozen ruthless attackers.
Despite prior and specific warnings,Law enforcement was unprepared and protected nobody. Police officers were completely ineffective. They mostly were nowhere to be seen, or, if anywhere in sight, they were among the first to be killed by the attackers. Mostly though, they fled or remained passive.
It would be comforting -- though an illusion -- to believe that similar carnage never could be inflicted upon us. Just think about the death and destruction that as few as a dozen armed, trained, and fearless attackers could cause in the New York City subway system, any large shopping complex, any major airport, or crowded sports arena to mention but a few examples.
And if you think our law enforcement would afford you greater protection than their Indian counterparts provided in Mumbai, think back to the ineffectiveness of the police in the past big city riots such as those in Watts or those that followed the Rodney King verdicts in Los Angeles.
In those cases, as in Mumbai, ordinary people were out there on their own. They were almost entirely defenseless because their governments make it difficult and inconvenient for individuals to obtain and carry weapons that make self defense possible. Government and public officials and members of our elites enjoy the protection of armed security personnel as they value their safety. But they consider ordinary citizens expendable. They prefer dependent and vulnerable potential and easy victims to self reliant individuals capable of defending themselves.
Forty of our states -- though not our most populous ones -- have learned this lesson as has Israel. They allow ordinary law citizens who have no criminal or mental illness records to carry concealed weapons and thus enable such citizens to take and exercise responsibility for their own safety as well as that of their fellow citizens.
Think about this and make your own decisions. Don't succumb to wishful thinking or passivity. It will be harder to reject the role of potential victim and to assume and prepare to exercise responsibility for your own safety if you live in one of our more densely populated nanny jurisdictions. But even there the decision still is an individual one -- when the time comes, would you prefer to be tried by twelve of your fellow citizens or carried by six them?
Chrysler says a depression will ensue if the automakers don't get bailed out with our tax money.
All this is to stampede the taxpayers and those they have elected to mindlessly disburse their tax money into putting another $34 billion behind an effort to "save" -- actually to artificially and temporarily extend the existence of -- Detroit's automaking dinosaurs.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
That's $6 billion, or 50%, more than it said it needed just four weeks ago.
It's hard to tell which is more unstable: the company or its management. The jump in the amount said to be needed to survive so undermines the credibility of GM's executives that only the foolhardy would entrust funds to them -- but then again that describes our elected representatives who, after all, are spending our money and not their own.
And oh, by the way, $4 billion is need before the end of the year -- RIGHT NOW, before anybody has a chance to examine and think very deeply about the lunacy of the whole thing.