31 July 2008

That's A Lot of Zeros

Zimbabwe will knock 10 zeros off its currency, and introduce new banknotes, in an attempt to deal with hyperinflation there.
The bill above won't buy a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe, and it's the highest bill they have.

World Free Trade Talks Collapse

This was a bigger deal than the media treated it: After 7 Years, Talks Collapse on World Trade
The failure appeared to end, for the near term at least, any hopes of a global deal to further open markets, cut farm subsidies and strengthen the international trading system.
“It is a massive blow to confidence in the global economy,” said Peter Power, spokesman for the European Commission. “The confidence shot in the arm that we needed badly will not now happen.”
More here from The Economist.

Is The One Overconfident?

Politico: GOP's celeb-Obama message gains traction

It wasn’t until the last week, however, that the narrative of Obama as a president-in-waiting — and perhaps getting impatient in that waiting — began reverberating beyond the inboxes of Washington operatives and journalists.

Perhaps one of the clearest indications emerged Tuesday from the world of late-night comedy, when David Letterman offered his “Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident.” The examples included Obama proposing to change the name of Oklahoma to “Oklobama” and measuring his head for Mount Rushmore.

Jon Stewart teased that the presumptive Democratic nominee traveled to Israel to visit his birthplace at Bethlehem’s Manger Square. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd amplified the McCain campaign’s private nickname for Obama (“The One”).

And the snickers about Obama’s perceived smugness may have a very real political impact as McCain's camp launched its most forceful effort yet to define him negatively. It released a TV ad Wednesday describing Obama as the “biggest celebrity in the world,” comparable to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, stars who are famous for attitude rather than accomplishments.

Link to the referenced Top Ten List here. McCain's referenced new ad here.

Ice on Mars

That's good news.
When we get to Mars, there will be plenty of ice for our margaritas.

Corruption in Congress

It appears I wasn't the only one who was reminded of Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson (D-LA)when the Senator Stevens (R-AK) corruption story broke. Jefferson is awaiting trial, has been implicated in further corruption accusations, and his sisters are also involved in local corruption in Louisiana.

Senator Stevens clearly needs to go. His long involvement in politics (predating Alaskan statehood!) demonstrates the need for term limits.

Nothing like political corruption to get the good citizens of the blogosphere wound up. If only I had a political party to vote for that had some sense and didn't stink to high heaven of corruption. Until that happy day arrives, let's take a look:

Hot Air on the indictment of Senator Stevens:
How will this affect the election overall? Strangely, I don’t think it will have much affect at all outside of Alaska, where the Democrats may well win both the Senate and the House seats this year. With William Jefferson remaining in Congress, the Democrats have no real footing to use this against the Republicans. And that may be the biggest scandal of all — that corruption in both parties serves to protect everyone.
Webloggin: Ted Stevens (R) vs. William Jefferson (D)
Regardless, if Stevens broke the law he needs to be gone (as does Jefferson). I have no tolerance for criminals regardless of which party they belong to. I don’t trust any politician and stories like this one make me hold them in even lower regard, if that is actually possible.
Free Frank Warner: Why are Ted Stevens and William Jefferson still in Congress?

It’s a disgrace that their fellow senators and representatives don’t immediately remove Stevens and Jefferson from office. They’re all corrupt for accepting this corruption.
Constitutionally Right: The Biggest Scandal of All

When the news first broke on Ted Stevens, many Republicans countered by pointing out the corruption of William Jefferson. When Jefferson was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, many Democrats made references to Mark Foley.

It is this need to justify the actions of fellow party members by pointing out the faults of the opposing party that has allowed corruption to grow in Washington. The unwritten rule seems to be, it is OK to be corrupt, as long as you are less corrupt than the other guy.

Until the American people, whether Democrat or Republican, demand better from our elected leaders by exercising their right to vote the bad ones out of office, we will continue to see the likes of Ted Stevens and William Jefferson representing us in Congress.

San Diego Union Tribune: Echoes of Cunningham heard in Stevens' case
[M]ost San Diegans know all about the type of corruption the powerful Alaska Republican stands accused of. They've seen it all before: the persistent grasping for extra dollars; the unending demands for special treatment; the haughty indignation when challenged.
And, most of all, they are familiar with the overweening sense of entitlement that lies behind most cases of congressional corruption.
The Washington Post is tracking 17 scandals and investigations in the 110th Congress. If you want to get even more upset, click here.

I doubt you will be surprised that a bipartisan Anti-Corruption Bill is stuck in Congress. Article in the LA Times here.

Legislation that would give the U.S. Justice Department new influence to pursue lawmaker misconduct is unlikely to be passed this year, supporters say.

A year after a bipartisan group of senators made its recommendation, the Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act is apparently blocked in Congress, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would seek to reduce gifts lobbyists and companies give congressional members by making it a felony for lawmakers to accept gifts valued above those allowed by Senate rules. The Justice Department supports the bill.

There is a link to your left that will help you contact your Congressman or Senator to express your support for the Public Corruption Prosecution Improvements Act. More information on this Act can be found here. More here.

The Long War

Pentagon: Terrorism to be threat for decades

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says that even winning the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will not end the "Long War" against violent extremism and that the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorists should be the nation's top military priority over coming decades, according to a new National Defense Strategy he approved last month.

I find interesting the use of the term "Long War" to describe efforts against the Islamic fanatics.

Maybe Gates is a fan of The Long War Journal.

Should the term "Long War" be reserved for the conflicts between 1914 and 1990, that historians of the future may view as one long, interconnected conflict?

I think of it as the War Against Fanatics.

30 July 2008

Good news from Iraq

And its even published by the liberal media!

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in Iraq has dropped sharply this month, putting July on track to have the lowest casualties for the military since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003.

Republican party at rock bottom?

The indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is a BIG deal. This appears to be a case of a politician who just didn't think he could get touched. And also, he probably believed the favors he was receiving were favors he deserved. The Stevens indictment is actually a potential opportunity for McCain, who has never been a fan of the pork-barrel senator and has had his share of clashes with the man. But so far, we haven’t heard a peep on this from McCain.

Story here.

This should be a major opportunity for McCain to set himself up as the moderate, ethical and fiscally responsible choice in the upcoming election. However, the Republicans will probably do nothing and we will all watch Alaska turn blue in November.

Obama's VP Pick Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine?

Washington Post: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine refused to discuss his conversations with Barack Obama's campaign in the wake of a story in this morning's Washington Post that said he is being seriously considered as Obama's running mate.

As reported in the Post, Kaine is one of several politicians being vetted by Obama's campaign, and has told associates that the discussions are "very serious."But as is traditional, Kaine this morning sought to avoid looking eager for the position, saying repeatedly on WTOP and afterward that he expects to campaign for Obama in Virginia.

Meanwhile, though, national Republicans already began stirring the pot, noting to reporters that an Obama-Kaine ticket might be described as "the most inexperienced ticket in the history of the world."

29 July 2008

Department of Energy

The energy crisis is in the news daily. We all feel it when we buy gas. High energy costs are damaging the economy.

A thought occurred to me: Hey, don't we have a Department of Energy? A whole department! I had forgotten all about them! What have they been up to?

The Secretary of Energy is apparently somebody named Samuel W. Bodman. I've never heard of this guy. He has been in office since 2005. Where has he been?

The Department of Energy employs over 100,000 federal and contract employees. They have a budget of $23,000,000,000.00. What have they been up to?

As of today, the three press releases listed on their homepage are:
  • DOE Selects ASE to Manage and Operate its National Renewable Energy Laboratory[???]
  • U.S. and New Zealand Take Steps to Launch International Partnership to Further the Development of Clean Energy on Island Nations [New Zealand?]
  • DOE Launches EnergySmart Hospitals to Promote Improved Energy Efficiency in Healthcare
Hmm, well, OK....

All I know is, if we have a foreign policy crisis, the Secretary of State is in the news. A military crisis, and the Secretary of Defense is in the public eye. An intelligence or security crisis, and the CIA Director and the Homeland Security Director become household names. A financial crisis, and the Treasury Secretary and the Federal Reserve Chairman are all over the place.

But we are in the middle of an energy crisis, and the Secretary of Energy is missing in action. Why isn't he taking a lead in resolving the crisis, like any other Department would be? Where are his initiatives? Does he have any ideas? Apparently not.

Quote of the Day

Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Nanny State Strikes

It's for our own good. We must be protected from ourselves. Forget free markets, individual choice, and personal responsibility, the government knows what's best for us.

L.A. OKs moratorium on fast-food restaurants

California outlaws trans-fats

Parliament of crooks

Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, has been indicted on seven counts of falsely reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.

Stevens, 84, has been dogged by a federal investigation into whether he pushed for fishing legislation that also benefited his son, an Alaska lobbyist.

From May 1999 to August 2007, prosecutors said Stevens concealed "his continuing receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value from a private corporation."

Story here.

These acts should be considered treason! All involved should be banned from public office, audited annually by the IRS, and the State of Alaska should have its federal funding reduced as punishment.

28 July 2008

Bringing Religions Together...Means Renouncing Islam

Via Jihad Watch and the Jerusalem Post:

An al-Qaida commander who escaped from a US prison has posted a Web video urging Muslims to kill the Saudi king for leading an interfaith conference in Madrid earlier this month.

Abu Yahia al-Libi, who escaped from Afghanistan's Bagram prison in 2005, says "bringing religions together...means renouncing Islam."

Saudi King Abdullah sponsored the dialogue among Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, and encouraged all faiths to turn away from extremism.

But al-Libi says "equating Islam with other religions is a betrayal of Islam." He calls for "the speedy killing of this tyrant."

There are extremist Buddhists?

Creationism Efforts in Texas

The Texas State Board of Education has begun hearings on teaching the “weaknesses” of evolutionary science—which means, of course, teaching the “strengths” of the creationist flavor of the month, “intelligent design.”

More here:
The health of a modern society depends on the opportunities it provides its children through education. That’s too important to be left to amateurs, much less enemies of knowledge.

Movie: An Inconvenient Tax

A new documentary is due to be released this fall. Titled "An Inconvenient Tax", from the movie's website:

Ask any of the millions of tax paying Americans on April 15th if the current tax system has problems and you'll get a clear answer. Complexity, inequities and international pressures top the ever-growing list of concerns.

The last major tax reform in the United States occurred in 1986. Since this bipartisan effort to simplify the tax code, over 16,000 changes have been made, creating an inflating bubble of complexity that is ready to pop. This looming issue coupled with the expiration of the Bush Tax cuts in 2010 have economists, congressmen and concerned Americans scrambling to figure out a direction for immediate reform.

This is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. The current tax code would never be enacted in its current form. The complexity and unfairness are designed into the current system so tax breaks can be offered in exchange for donations. It's good that someone is trying to bring this issue into the public debate, but with Congress having a vested interest in the current system, it will be hard to effect change to a more rational, fair, and simple system.

Prior thoughts from THE WHIG on this issue here.

Via TaxProf Blog.

Why Worry? Tomorrow Will Never Come.

From the AP: The next president will inherit a record budget deficit of $482 billion, according to a new Bush administration estimate released Monday. A $482 billion deficit would easily surpass the record deficit of $413 billion set in 2004.

The administration actually underestimates the deficit, however, since it leaves out about $80 billion in war costs. In a break from tradition -- and in violation of new mandates from Congress -- the White House did not include its full estimate of war costs. [Which means the actual deficit is over $560 billion.]

John McCain used the news to slam both the Bush White House for its "profligate spending" and Democratic rival Barack Obama for saying he would not try to balance the budget. Obama's campaign used the new numbers to attack McCain for embracing Bush's tax cuts.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C., said the new deficit figure confirms "the dismal legacy of the Bush administration: under its policies, the largest surpluses in history have been converted into the largest deficits in history."

The AP story linked above blames the economy for the record deficit. The blame should go to the irresponsible Congress and to a President who won't veto spending bills.

27 July 2008

Obama snubs military

US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has been criticised by his Republican rival for cancelling a visit to injured US soldiers in Germany this week.

John McCain's campaign office said Mr Obama's speeches to cheering Europeans should not have been a substitute for comforting "injured American heroes".

Mr Obama responded by saying he dropped the visit after the Pentagon warned it might be considered a political event.

But Pentagon officials insisted the senator had never been told not to go.

A Pentagon spokesman said Mr Obama had only been told he could not do so if he was accompanied by campaign staff and reporters.

So, why bother? Right? If there is nothing to gain politically, why bother going?

Story on BBC here.

John McCain reportedly said, "If I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn't visit those troops..... there would have been a seismic event."

25 July 2008

Fiasco: Mortgage Bailout Punishes Responsible Taxpayers

Someone please explain to me why I have to pay my mortgage every month,and then through my tax dollars, I have to pay the mortgages of others as well. Responsible tax-payers are punished, and the spendthrifts, the speculators, and the irresponsible are rewarded.

Maybe we should all default on our mortgages and get Congress to legislate a better deal for us. Then Congress could bail us out of our car loans, our credit cards, and our phone bills. Contact your congressman and tell her that you think paying your bills is a real drag -- what can she do to help?

Of course, the Mortgage Bill is full of extras that have nothing to do with any mortgage crisis.

WSJ: The Fan/Fred Bailout Is a Scandal
Americans who work hard, pay taxes and play by the rules can't seem to get fair representation in Washington, D.C., these days. In the current debate over a government bailout of speculators, irresponsible banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the responsible majority has once again been pushed aside in a legislative rush to "do something."
Financial Times: Fannie’s and Freddie’s free lunch

Much has been made in recent years of private/public partnerships. The US government is about to embark on another example of such a partnership, in which the private sector takes the profits and the public sector bears the risk.

The proposed bail-out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entails the socialisation of risk – with all the long-term adverse implications for moral hazard – from an administration supposedly committed to free-market principles.

Defenders of the bail-out argue that these institutions are too big to be allowed to fail. If that is the case, the government had a responsibility to regulate them so that they would not fail.

Washington Times:

Congress passed a housing bill that not only fails to truly address the foreclosure issue but actually amounts to little more than a massive bail-out program that ultimately makes it even harder for middle-class American taxpayers to pay their mortgages.

No matter how Washington spins it, the housing legislation does no good for America's homeowners. With this bill, Congress is turning a blind eye to irresponsible borrowers and is, in fact, rewarding them with a federal program paid for by struggling taxpayers barely able to make ends meet.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, and chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, pushed for bailout measures in this legislation for mortgage firms while at the same time depending on those firms for special VIP financial deals. The House has time to investigate everything from steroids in baseball to the state of thoroughbred racing, but it doesn't have time to look into potential under-the-table deals for its own members?

Daily Oklahoman: Bailout blues: Housing relief bill carries high cost.

Taxpayers in this country must wonder when their interests will be Washington's foremost concern. They shouldn't hold their breath.

[W]rites the Cato Institute's Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. ,"Fannie and Freddie continue to make risky bets and rack up more losses, with the taxpayer guarantee fueling the financial fiasco."

Time to Bury Fannie & Freddie, Not Praise Them
Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for corruption, bad business decisions and lobbying.

It figures that Congress would identify with those who can't live within their means.

Quote of the Day

The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures, as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline. – Milton Friedman

Rainman was right

"Qantas never crashed."

A Qantas flight en route to Australia from London made an emergency stop in Manila on Friday after a loud bang punched a hole in the Boeing 747-400’s fuselage, officials and passengers said.

Story here.

Obama snubs British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Obama demonstrates his foreign policy of meeting with the enemy while snubbing US allies.

Downing Street is dismayed that Barack Obama has agreed to meet Tony Blair ahead of Gordon Brown on his whistle stop tour of Britain.

Mr Obama's advisers calculated that photographs and television footage breaking bread with Mr Blair would play much better back home than with the Prime Minister.

Charlie Gibson, the ABC news anchor, said: "If there is a criticism of this trip it is that he has been quite guarded so far and the trip therefore has tended to be emphasised by the photo-opportunities in all the different places he has gone."

Fundraising events were ruled out of the tour as Mr Obama wanted to be portrayed as statesman-like rather than electioneering.

Full story here.

24 July 2008

Space Elevator

From Cosmic Log: Will the space elevator rise?

If space elevators work out the way the idea's advocates hope, sending payloads into orbit would become as routine as, say, sending a shipment on a freight train - except that the train would travel straight up for hundreds or thousands of miles, powered by laser beams.

But will such a "railroad to the sky" ever be built? That's the big question hanging over the 2008 Space Elevator Conference, taking place this weekend on Microsoft's Seattle-area campus.

Even if you scoff at the starry-eyed vision of riding a ribbon to outer space on a laser-powered lift, the technologies that form the foundation of that vision are far more down to earth - and likely to produce profits long before the space elevator sees the light of day. A working space elevator would require tethers or ribbons of synthetic material that would extend from Earth's surface up to an altitude of perhaps 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers). Carbon nanotube fibers are the most popular candidates for the job.

The tethers would be sent into orbit aboard a conventional launch vehicle. One set of tethers would be lowered down from the orbiting craft for connection to an "attach point" on Earth's surface - for example, a floating platform in an area of the ocean that's relatively unaffected by weather. Counterbalancing tethers would spool out spaceward.

Even if you scoff at the starry-eyed vision of riding a ribbon to outer space on a laser-powered lift, the technologies that form the foundation of that vision are far more down to earth - and likely to produce profits long before the space elevator sees the light of day.

Somalia Update

Somali pirates seize a fishing ship, capturing the Filipino sailors.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, wanted by the U.S. a a terrorist, seized power -- A fiery Muslim scholar and former army colonel that the United States has accused of having links to al-Qaeda said Wednesday he has taken over leadership of Somalia's opposition alliance.

He says he will be stepping up the violence. Fighting with the Ethiopian forces continues.

Meanwhile, aid workers have been targeted and killed throughout the country. Understandibly, this is reducing assistance at a time of increased food shortages.

The Election is a Technicality That is Just Slowing Him Down

Politico: At a morning background briefing, reporters parried with senior advisers on the characterization of Obama’s speech Thursday in Berlin as a campaign rally.
“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.
But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.
With less than six months to go before he would be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president, Sen. Barack Obama has directed his aides to begin planning for the transition.

A Disciple Loses It

From the Houston Chronicle:

In case their Plantation Bend neighbors had any questions about how Doug and Wendy McKain feel about Barack Obama, the bumper sticker on their pickup could be a clue.
But when Chynethia Gragg spotted the sticker — depicting someone urinating on the name "Obama" — Sugar Land police say, she stopped to express her disapproval, and that's when things got ugly.
Gragg, 35, has been charged with making a terroristic threat after confronting the McKains, telling them the sticker was racist, police said." Mr. McKain said Ms. Gragg began to rant and rave about the sticker on the back of his truck," the court document states.
McKain told police Gragg shouted numerous profanities at him and his wife.
"Mr. McKain said Ms. Gragg said she (would) get someone to take care of him later," the report said.

Max Mosley wins lawsuit against tabloid in infamous Nazi hooker scandal

Motor racing boss Max Mosley won a landmark privacy-invasion lawsuit Thursday against a tabloid newspaper's claims he took part in a "Nazi" orgy.
High Court judge David Eady ruled the News of the World must pay Mosley $120,000 in damages for the story claiming Mosley participated in a sadomasochistic sex romp with a Third Reich theme.
Mosley, 68, admits the encounter with sex workers in a basement apartment in London but says it was private and there were no Nazi overtones. Mosley told the court he had an interest in sadomasochism going back 45 years.

The issue is especially sensitive because Mosley is the son of the late Oswald Mosley, Britain's best-known fascist politician in the 1930s and a friend of Adolf Hitler.
Story on the lawsuit here. Our report on "the encounter" here.
Folks: 68 years old, 5 hookers, 5 hours, Nazi costumes, sadomasochistic sex, son of a politician and all of it on video; That is how you have a sex scandal. No Bill CLinton denial. No technical definition of sex. No Jimmy Swaggert crying. Yes, A-Rod, I'm talking to you. Mosley walks down the streets of London. Yeah that was me. So what?! That is how its done. Get a pen and write it down. Unless you are going to do it like this, stick to the 2.5 nights a week, after the kids are asleep, lights off, after CSI, leg cramp, quite sleepy right after routine.
The FIA vote of confidence was whipped cream and winning the lawsuit was the cherry on top.

23 July 2008

Russia to ship S-300 air defense batteries to Iran via Belarus as early as September, operational by 2009

Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, reveals below that "The Iranian S-300 deal is being conducted via Belarus to afford discretion for Russia, which is already under Western scrutiny for helping Iran build a major atomic reactor. Belarus is the proxy route whenever Russia wants to deny it is doing the sale. But nothing happens along that route without Moscow saying so." We have already reported on Minsk's middleman role between Moscow and client regimes in Caracas and Khartoum. Iran already deploys Russian-built TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles.
Full story here.
The high stakes chess game continues.

Naval blockade of Iran rehearsed

Military sources at Debka report that Operation Brimstone, which starting Monday, July 21, was aimed at giving military teeth to the two-week ultimatum the six world powers gave Iran in Geneva Saturday to accept the suspension of uranium enrichment or face harsh sanctions and isolation.

The current "cooperation or confrontation" offer expires on July 31st.
Full story here.

Throngs of Reporters Trembling to Sit With Him

More on media bias from the Chicago Tribune:

McCain is now cast as the crabby uncle who visits and shrieks there's no gin in your house. He grabs the TV remote control, turns off the cartoons and forces the kids to watch the ancient Mesopotamia special on The History Channel.

Meanwhile, the Democrat Obama is treated quite differently. He's the Mr. Tumnus of American politics, the gentle forest faun of Narnia, with throngs of reporters trembling to sit with him at tea and cakes, like the little girl in the C.S. Lewis story, as he plays the flute, chanting "We Are The Change We've Been Waiting For."

And nobody laughs. You don't laugh because you can't make fun of Obama. The ground would swallow you whole.

And when reporters weren't arguing about getting access to his fact-finding-tour-campaign-commercial this week, they were tossing rose petals before him, so that his feet wouldn't touch the ground. OK, I'm exaggerating about the roses. There are no rose petals left, because the media used them all up on Obama during his battle with the Clintons. I guess they'll have to use palm fronds now.

Because the election is over, isn't it? Obama is president, all we're waiting for is the transcending, when a beam of light shines on Chris Matthews' face, carrying him to the heavens, smiling, that tingle running down his leg.

A new disciple here: "in a moment of divine intervention, he saw me"

Israel Didn't Cave to Terrorists in 1985 But It Did Last Week

The deal the Israeli government made with Hezbollah included the exchange of the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed by Hezbollah in return for five live terrorists in Israeli prisons, including Samir Kuntar.
And Kuntar was no ordinary terrorist prisoner. Abu Abbas was so impressed with Kuntar's savage child-killing tactics that Abbas masterminded the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985 - including the killing and dumping into the ocean of the defenseless, elderly, wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer - to secure Kuntar's release.
Israel didn't cave into terrorists in 1985, but it did last week. And the deal it struck with Hezbollah will have disastrous consequences for Israel and the world.

The concession, writes the Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick "will cement Iran's control of Lebanon through Hizbullah. It also all but guarantees that any future Israeli soldiers taken hostage by Hizbullah will be killed on the spot. Why care for hostages when you can murder them and expect to receive the same payoff you would get if you kept them alive?"

But possibly even more disappointing than the Israeli government's willingness to make deals with terrorists is the reception that greeted the release of Samir Kuntar in parts of the Middle East last week.
Columnist Mona Charen reports that Kuntar literally received a red carpet reception in Beirut. Charen writes: The government closed all offices and declared a national day of celebration. Tens of thousands of Lebanese cheered, waved flags, threw confetti, and set off fireworks as Hezbollah staged a rally to celebrate their "victory" over Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, the "moderate" leader of the Palestinian Authority, sent "blessings to Samir Kuntar's family." PA spokesman Ahmad Abdul Rahman sent "warm blessings to Hezbollah . . . on the return of the heroes of freedom . . . headed by the great Samir Kuntar."
This barbaric display enrages me and it should enrage all Americans.
Both the Palestinian Authority and the Lebanese government are recipients of U.S. taxpayers' money through foreign assistance. Political leaders - and the people they lead - who cheer the release of despicable child murderers are unworthy recipients of our assistance.
Congress should insist that the Lebanese government and the Palestinian Authority retract their support for Kuntar or it should cut off U.S. assistance to them.

As if the news from Israel weren't bad enough, the seemingly irresistible urge among some foreign policy elites to appease our worst enemies came home to America last week.
The State Department sent its third most senior official to sit in on nuclear "negotiations" with Iran, even as Iran continues its relentless pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
In the past, President Bush had a label for such a move. He called it "appeasement." Last week, his own State Department succeeded in taking the first steps in a futile attempt to appease a dictator who has called for the destruction of Israel and defeat of the West. His stated goal? A world without America.
And so I ask again: Have our leaders lost their minds?

As America looks ahead to the swearing in of a new president next January, we need now, more than ever, leaders who resist the temptation to delude themselves about the nature of our enemies.
As a young Senator with little foreign policy experience, Barack Obama faces a unique challenge. As I write this, Senator Obama is traveling abroad seeking to convince the American people that he has the leadership ability to be commander in chief.
Senator Obama has also repeatedly assured us that he, too, will negotiate with regimes like Iran. But the question we owe to ourselves is to ask Senator Obama and our current State Department: When negotiations don't work, what are you prepared to do?
Talking isn't a policy, it's a process. And talking to people who have vowed your destruction is at best a futile and at worst a dangerous process.
Just ask the Israelis. After greeting Samir Kuntar with a hug and a kiss when he returned to Lebanon last week, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah declared, "The time of defeat is long gone. Today is the time of victory."
All of this is excerpted from an article titled, "Have Our Leaders Lost Their Minds?" by Newt Gingrich. There are some gruesome explanations of the terrorist acts committed by Kuntar in Newt's article that explain the whole history of these events in chilling detail. I'm glad I am not the only one wondering if our leaders have lost their minds. I think apathy may be the only other possible explanation. We have apparently decided negotiating with our enemies is our new policy. What are we prepared to do when those negotiations fail?

No hope or change for Palestinians

Obama suggested that he was open to the Palestinians' request, saying that he'd do his best to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, "starting from the minute I'm sworn into office." However, he also cautioned that it is "unrealistic to expect that a U.S. president alone can suddenly snap his fingers and bring about peace in this region."
Obamessiah can't do that?
A college student, Mohammed Hatem said, "We have seen a lot of (U.S.) leaders who say they are going to work to get the Palestinian people an independent state, and they end up serving Israel."
On this I agree with Obamessiah. Nothing we do will have any lasting effect over there. All we can do is sponsor and broker an agreement, and even then we need to realize it will crumble the first time some Palestinian kills an Israeli over a bag of groceries.

Iran wants to play chicken

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, Iran will not “retreat one iota” over its disputed nuclear program. “The Iranian nation has chosen its path,” Ahmadinejad went on to say on live, state tv. Report here on MSNBC.

The trouble with playing chicken with Ahmadinejad is that we know he won't swerve at the last minute to avoid catastrophe. He has stated before that he would trade Tehran for Tel Aviv tomorrow. There is no reasoning with a psychopath like that. The only thing that works is force.

22 July 2008

Radical Iman Places New York Subway Ads

From CNN: Ads promoting Islam are to be placed on New York subway cars in September, but a U.S. congressman finds the people sponsoring the messages unacceptable.

"I have no problem with the ad itself, but I have a very, very real problem with those behind it," Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, said Tuesday. He is urging the Metropolitan Transit Authority to reject the ads.

[One] of the backers of the advertising campaign -- which will launch in September to coincide with the monthlong Islamic holiday of Ramadan -- is Siraj Wahhaj, imam of a Brooklyn mosque. Wahhaj also said that he regrets some of his more controversial statements, such as calling the FBI and the CIA "terrorists."

"He is a known Islamic extremist, and you would be giving him credibility and stature through a known government facility," said King, ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee. King objects to him because he was a character witness for convicted 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman.

The New York Post has reacted strongly to the ads, running a cover photograph of Wahhaj on Monday with the headline "Jihad Train" and posting an article on its Web site with the headline "Train-ing day for jihadists" and the first paragraph saying, "Allah aboard!"

Presidential Opinion Polls Tied

Jammie Wearing Fool asks: How is this happening with all the slavish attention for Obama's world tour?

The popular vote is closer than the electoral vote, with Obama ahead.

Exclusionary Rule to be Reviewed

Meant to link yesterday to this article about the Exclusionary Rule in the NY Times. The Exclusionary Rule states "that some police misconduct must automatically result in the suppression of physical evidence. The rule applies whether the misconduct is slight or serious, and without regard to the gravity of the crime or the power of the evidence." Or, in Judge Benjamin Cardozo’s famous mocking formulation in a 1926 decision for New York’s highest court rejecting the rule: “The criminal is to go free because the constable has blundered.”

There has been debate for years as to whether this is the best way to prevent police misconduct and to protect constitutional rights. It is up for reconsideration:

But there are signs that some justices on the United States Supreme Court may be ready to reconsider the American version of the exclusionary rule. Writing for the majority two years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia said that at least some unconstitutional conduct ought not require “resort to the massive remedy of suppressing evidence of guilt.”
The court will soon have an opportunity to clarify matters. The justices will hear arguments on Oct. 7 about whether methamphetamines and a gun belonging to Bennie Dean Herring, of Brundidge, Ala., should be suppressed because the officers who conducted the search mistakenly believed he was subject to an outstanding arrest warrant as a result of careless record-keeping by another police department.

Supporters of the American practice say that only strict application of the exclusionary rule can effectively address violations of the Fourth Amendment, which bans unreasonable searches and seizures.
Several justices have in recent years questioned whether the rule still makes sense in light of what they called the increased professionalism of the police and the availability of alternative and arguably more direct ways to punish misconduct, including internal discipline and civil suits.
Opponents of the rule say it is indirect, incomplete and in a way perverse. Even if it deters unlawful searches, exclusion of evidence, for instance, offers no remedy to innocent people whose rights were violated by unlawful searches.

Why only the U.S. has the Exclusionary Rule discussed here.

Originalism and the Exclusionary Rule discussed here, with links to two other posts discussing.

Media Bias and the Election

A nice round-up of stories on media bias from Instapundit.

More here:

[I]t’s not surprising that voters, particularly those of the Republican persuasion, think the media is more or less in Obama’s pocket.

A recent survey by Rasmussen found that 49 percent of the likely voters they talked to believed that reporters would favor Obama in their coverage, while just 14 percent said the same about McCain. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans thought the press would try and help Obama win, while only 21 percent of Democrats thought journalists were in bed with McCain.

Complaints about bias are only exacerbated when the New York Times (the bête noire of the right) rejects an opinion piece written by McCain comparing his position on Iraq to Obama’s—just days after the Times ran a similar piece by Obama.

Islamic Fanatic Lauded While American Official Demonized

From the Wall Street Journal:

A few days ago, Mr. Khadr's attorneys released a videotape from February 2003 of their client being questioned by visiting Canadian officials. At first he was hopeful, but he quickly became sullen and withdrawn when he realized the Canadians were not going to get him out. The tape shows the young man, then 16, crying for his mother, and complaining about treatment for the wounds he suffered while fighting alongside al Qaeda.

The response has been illuminating. The Montreal Gazette calls him "a victim," "not a villain." Closer to home, our headlines run along the lines of "Tape shows 'frightened boy,'" "Teen on video: 'Help me, help me'" or "Teenage detainee pleads for help, tells of torture on video; Rights group seeks immediate release." About the only one willing to say anything unpleasant about Mr. Khadr is the soldier who lost an eye in the same firefight in which Mr. Khadr is alleged to have thrown the grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer.

Mr. Addington is chief of staff to Vice President Richard Cheney. He's the son of a West Point man who earned a bronze star in World War II and went on to become a general. Before coming to the White House, David put in stints at the CIA, at a congressional intelligence committee, and at the Pentagon -- all giving him an expertise on intelligence and national security issues only a handful of others can match.

While the operative for al Qaeda is humanized, the counsel for the vice president is demonized. Such is the temper of the times that Rep. William Delahunt (D., Mass.) felt free to joke during recent hearings that he was sure al Qaeda was watching -- and was "glad they finally have the chance to see you."

It's a tribute to our society that even amid a terrible war we are capable of seeing the humanity of an enemy raised and trained to hate and kill us. Some of us are still waiting for that same presumption of humanity to be extended to the good men and women doing their imperfect best to keep us safe.

McCain to Announce VP This Week?

There's a story that McCain may announce his pick for Veep while Obama is overseas.

Former Serbia leader Radovan Karadzic arrested for war crimes

Karadzic who has been on the run for 11 years, was arrested near Belgrade.

Report here.

The Hague issued indictments against Karadzic for genocide and complicity in genocide committed in numerous areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina including Foča, Novi Grad, Višegrad and the Srebrenica enclave. Additionally, Karadzic has been charged with persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, unlawfully inflicting terror upon civilians and the taking of hostages.

More on that here.

Terrorists guarding Obama in his travels on your dollar

Members of the most active West Bank terror organization are set to serve in security forces being deployed to protect Sen. Barack Obama during his trip to the West Bank tomorrow. Obama is due to visit Israeli officials in Jerusalem and leaders of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
According to security officials coordinating deployments of forces with the PA for Obama's Ramallah visit, members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's declared military wing, have been called upon by the PA to participate in the protection of Obama, particularly in securing the perimeter during a scheduled meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Brigades is listed as a terror organization by the U.S. State Department. The group took credit along with the Islamic Jihad terror organization for every suicide bombing in Israel between 2005 and 2006 and is responsible for thousands of shootings and rocket firings. Statistically, the Al Aqsa Brigades perpetuated more terrorism from the West Bank than Hamas, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
Story here.

21 July 2008

Media bias whores for Obama

Television news' royalty will fly in to meet Barack Obama during this week's overseas trip: CBS chief anchor Katie Couric in Jordan on Tuesday, ABC's Charles Gibson in Israel on Wednesday and NBC's Brian Williams in Germany on Thursday.
The anchor blessing defines the trip as a Major Event and — much like a "Saturday Night Live" skit in February that depicted a press corps fawning over Obama — raises anew the issue of fairness in campaign coverage.
Network anchors stayed home during John McCain's recent foreign excursions.
Story here.

20 July 2008

Obama: Repeal the 22nd Amendment For Me!

Obama is apparently planning to be elected, re-elected, repeal the 22nd amendment, and then be elected again:
Today on CBS's Face the Nation, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in Afghanistan, told the paparazzi-pursued correspondent Lara Logan that "the objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years.
More here. And here.

First, 57 states and now this? Buy him a civics text.

The Results of Political Oligopoly

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
-- John Adams

Opinion from the Washington Times:

Congressional approval ratings are an all-time low. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, has presided over an ineffectual term punctuated by the House's return to reason on FISA, its game of chicken over the Iraq war and other embarrassments.

Today's sour political climate is not solely anti-Republican. Amid soaring gas prices, plummeting home values and bank failures, this cycle also features a more general "throw the bums out" factor.

Why have House Republicans have failed to capitalize upon the failures of the majority's ineffectual leadership in such a climate?

Neither political party is working. We need more competition.

No system of resource allocation is more efficient than pure competition. Competition causes new products, services, and technologies. This gives consumers greater selection and better products. The greater selection typically causes lower prices for the products compared to what the price would be if there was no competition (monopoly) or little competition (oligopoly).

Because there are few participants in this type of market, each oligopolist is aware of the actions of the others. This causes oligopolistic markets to be at the highest risk for collusion.

Here's a post that approaches this problem from the left:

Consultants justify their fees by getting political candidates to do what they otherwise might not. In short, they guarantee in many cases that winning through manipulation is all that counts, for only then can they justify making their bucks.

The result is an increasingly stagnant political system, one apparently increasingly incapable of adapting to challenges.

Graph courtesy Center for Responsive Politics.

Thank You Sir May I Have Another?

Blasting the Bush Administration's "stunningly shameful" negotiations with Iran:

Without any indication that Iran was suspending its uranium enrichment program, the State Department announced that Burns would be heading to Switzerland for direct meetings with Iran's nuclear negotiators.

So what changed? Very little.

In the weeks leading up to the State Department's announcement, Iran had been deliberately provocative. At a Kuala Lumpur summit for developing nations, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned of George W. Bush's "satanic desires." Iran test-fired long-range missiles, including the Shahab-3, which is capable of striking Israel. And a few days after that, it rejected a generous aid offer from our European allies--backed by the State Department--that included nuclear fuel, assistance on a nuclear reactor, and improved trade and diplomatic relations, if the Iranian regime would simply suspend its uranium enrichment program.

The State Department response wasn't to get tough. Instead, Condoleezza Rice directed her diplomats to simply drop the one precondition for engagement that we had insisted on for years and in effect reward these provocations.

More on the policy change here.

China dealing with smog ahead of Olympics

Ahead of the Olympic Games, the capital is awash in smog – an unseasonably thick haze that seems part pollution, part humidity.

And while Chinese authorities say the atmosphere has been better than expected, they are taking measures this weekend that hopefully will ease the muddy, gray haze that has stifled the city's residents for the past six weeks.

Beijing's government said it has spent around $20 billion to improve its air quality, deploying a variety of emissions-reducing measures such as cutting fares for public transport; converting coal-fired heaters to electric or other clean-fuel ones; imposing new vehicle-exhaust standards that match those in Western Europe; and shutting down or relocating factories in the capital.

Story here.


For all the lengths Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have gone to in keeping their hunt for a vice president under wraps, their deliberations are in some ways being conducted in plain sight.
There was Mr. McCain appearing yet again with Mitt Romney, his former rival for the Republican nomination and a frequently mentioned possibility for the No. 2 spot, in Detroit on Friday. In Indiana last week, Mr. Obama appeared with two of the more speculated-about names on Democratic lists, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.
Story here.
I generally think its true that a candidate's choice for VP will not win the election, but could cost them the election. However, that wasn't the case for Bush-Quayle.

19 July 2008

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Audacity, More Audacity and Always Audacity

The Audacity of Vanity: Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

Previously: Does Obama Have The Experience To Be President?

And: Name some of his legislative accomplishments.

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18 July 2008

Gateway Pundit: IRAQ WAR DESERTERS Deported From Canada & Jailed

Gateway Pundit: IRAQ WAR DESERTERS Deported From Canada & Jailed

Deleted Batman Scene

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Ethics and County Government

Harris County ethics board urged:
Harris County should establish a board to investigate ethics complaints, require lobbyists to register with the county and make former employees wait a year before benefiting financially from a county contract, according to an ethics task force draft report obtained Thursday by the Houston Chronicle.
We could use an improvement in Harris County government. Looks like county government nationwide could use an emphasis on ethics.

Texas Margin Tax Hurting Small Businesses

The last legislature imposed a new "Margin Tax", a gross-receipts tax for business of nearly every type. The tax is imposed regardless of whether the business made a profit. Supposedly, the revenues were to support lower property taxes, but the lower property taxes never appeared, and the new "Margin Tax" is falling short of projections.

The Houston Chronicle reports that: About 20 percent of small-business owners surveyed said they'll lay off at least one employee to cope with costs of a new state tax, while nearly half said they'll raise prices, according to the National Federation of Independent Business' Texas office.

ICC Proceedings A Help or a Hindrance?

Austin Bay, in his column this week, lauds efforts to bring the Sudanese President before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This week, a senior International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor decided to seek an arrest warrant for Sudan's noxious leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The prosecutor accuses Bashir of committing genocide and other crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region. No one who has been following the savage conflict can doubt the validity of the charges against Bashir or the other senior leaders in his despicable regime.
He acknowledges that the warrant itself is likely to be ineffective, but argues that it will serve as an important embarrassment to Sudan.

Others argue that it may only get in the way of any settlement of the dispute in Sudan, note also that the ICC indictment of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda for murder impeded negotiations there to resolve a long-running insurgency.

Efforts to expand efforts to bring brutal heads of state and government does have an unintended consequence; it may cause dictators to hang on to the bitter end instead of leaving their office and power behind to face justice.
[O]ne reason why Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is clinging to power could be his fear of being hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The ICC could therefore result in the unfortunate and unintended consequence of making things worse.

Golfer John Daly

I think we all remember hearing that, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life." but John Daly appears to be doing okay.

17 July 2008

Let's Make Ourselves Feel Better And Compare Our Economy to Zimbabwe's

Inflation spiked last month, which was noticed by all of us who had to -- well -- buy anything recently. It's hardly shocking that higher energy costs are to blame.

Inflation was 5% over the past year, the highest level in 17 years.

Yea! We're doing better that Zimbabwe! In Zimbabwe, the inflation rate was 2,000,000% as of last May, and the rate is estimated to be 15,000,000% by June. Those figure were released by the Central Bank. Some estimate the actual rate is as high as 70,000,000%, with 80% unemployment.

New York City's calorie warning label

At first glance, I thought this was a bit of a non-story, but after consideration I began to wonder if the calorie labels would change my own habits.
I typically eat whatever I'm in the mood for (which shows) but I do try not to go too crazy. I eat more than the average amount of vegetables and I eat as much fish as I can afford. I have weaknesses for ice cream, pasta and a rare steak. I also have the occasional cigar, which I count as a vegetable.
After seeing some of the frightening caloric values considered for the report, it would definitely affect my decision. A cookie or a muffin at Starbuck's may seem like a cute snack, but at 500 calories or so, no thanks.

I knew my diet was working

Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee lead the nation when it comes to obesity.

US to end 30 year diplomatic absence in Tehran

The United States will announce in the next month that it plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years, a British newspaper said Thursday.
In a front-page report, the Guardian said Washington would open a U.S. interests section in the Iranian capital, halfway towards opening an embassy.

Maybe we'll get it right the next time our embassy is seized.

Full story here.

Don't Mess With Texas

Texas still plans to execute killer despite U.N. order:

Texas will go ahead with the scheduled Aug. 5 execution of Houston rapist-killer Jose Medellin despite Wednesday's United Nations world court order for a stay, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry said.

The U.N.'s International Court of Justice's call for stays in the cases of Medellin and four other Mexican nationals awaiting execution in Texas came in response to a petition filed last month by the Mexican government.

The petition sought to halt executions to allow for review of the killers' cases to determine whether denying them access to the Mexican Consulate after arrest impaired their trial defenses.

Please, No More From Pat Buchanan

Post from LGF on what a whackjob Pat Buchanan is. In his recent book he defends Hitler and lambasts the Poles for not negotiating with him. I'm not kidding. Townhall.com, Fox and MSNBC should stop using him.

16 July 2008

We're Allowed To Laugh At Him

While the chattering class cluck-clucks over the New Yorker satirical cover, a poll reported in the Kansas City Star shows that most Americans get the satirical intent behind the cartoon. More from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Anyone with a fifth-grade level of intellectual sophistication would understand, the cover is clearly aimed at lampooning those who perpetuate the rumors, innuendos and urban legends about the senator and his wife.
Satire must be outrageous to be funny. I laughed out loud when I first saw it.
It is the article in the New Yorker that Obama should be more concerned about. Here's a link to the New Yorker article about his early days in Chicago politics.

Thing One and Thing Two

From Salon.com: Flip-flopping to the White House -- How Barack Obama and John McCain are changing positions on everything from wiretapping to taxes.
"They've all been for the sake of political expedience," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said about Obama's policy shifts.

"We've seen a very clear pattern now of him putting political calculations first," the Democratic National Committee's Damien LaVera said of McCain.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Apparently taking the internet by storm. Link here.

More here.

High-Def View of Mars

Link to a high-definition panorama of the Pheonix Mars Lander Site.

May require a free HD View plug-in.

15 July 2008

Video of F-22 Raptor

Link to video of F-22 Raptor making European debut.

This weeks Obvious Prediction of the Week Award goes to...

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Tuesday the fragile economy is facing “numerous difficulties” despite the Fed’s aggressive interest rate reductions and other fortifying steps.

Key phrases used at Bernanke's address:

"...numerous difficulties..."
"...significant challenges..."
"...significant downside risks..."
"...appreciably below trend rate..."
"...economic crisis facing our nation."
...inflation has remained high and "seems likely to move higher in the near term."
"...sitting on a powder keg."
"Given the high degree of uncertainty..."
"...many markets and institutions remain under considerable stress..."
"...in part because the outlook for the economy and ... credit quality, remains uncertain.”
"failure (of IndyMac) ... was inevitable...”
"...all banks are being challenged by credit conditions..."
"The unemployment rate... could rise as high as 5.7 percent this year"

No one used the word recession, so I guess everything is okay. Right? The lengths officials will go to avoid using the term recession never ceases to amaze me.

More on Charles Rangel's corruption

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel is soliciting donations from corporations with business interests before his panel, hoping to raise $30 million for a new academic center that will house his papers when he retires.

Ethics experts and government watchdogs say it is troubling that one of the nation's most powerful lawmakers would seek money from businesses that have interests before the committee he leads.

"I think that he has crossed the line," said F. Christopher Arterton, dean of George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. "Charlie Rangel is a prominent public servant and may deserve a center at City College. . . . But I think one has to be careful about how one raises the money for that. The danger is that it begins to blur the lines between whether a quid pro quo is implied by this or not."

Full story here.
No matter if it is Tom Delay (R-TX) or Charles Rangel (D-NY), those who abuse the power of their office must be removed. Party affiliation has no bearing.

Moral Hazard

The government support for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae raises the prospect of increasing "moral hazard" in the future. By protecting investors from suffering losses, you encourage investors to take greater risks as they begin to assume the government will protect them from losses. The same concerns were raised after the Bear Stearns bailout. Is it a problem?
The risk is that there's a moral hazard. That's that people will think they can take chances and invest and not worry about the consequences because the government will bail them out.

In the first three months of the year alone, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac spent a combined total of about $3.5 million on lobbying and hired 42 outside firms.

Fannie and Freddie have kept their profiles high because of their odd situation: They're not government agencies, but they're not regular corporations either. As government sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, they're often thought to have guarantees of federal support. It lets them get discounts when they borrow money.

To maintain that advantage and others, they hire well-placed politicos for big salaries.

A rival lobbyist once described Fannie Mae as a political organization that happened to be in the mortgage business.

Is Senator Schumer the Gavrilo Princip of the Financial Crisis?

Today, as banking stocks plunge around the world, and here in the U.S., one can only wonder: is Senator Chuck Schumer the Gavrilo Princip of the financial crisis?

According to the Wall Street Journal, the collapse of Indymac will cost taxpayers $4 billion to $8 billion. Not to mention the stock declines.

Some good news...

In these times of swiftly mounting economic pressures and international instability, I thought we could all use some good news.

It appears that Mike Huckabee will not be John McCain's choice for VP.

I don't really need to see or hear more of Mike Huckabee, but then I have successfully avoided Nancy Grace's whiny, screaming, bitchy dribble so far.

14 July 2008

The Starting a Bank Run and a Financial Panic Award Goes To...

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for initiating the run on Indymac Bank.

The controversy started on June 27th when Senator Chuck Schumer's office released a letter sent to various bank regulatory agencies calling into question Indymac Bank's viability and urging steps be taken to prevent the bank's collapse.

The public disclosure of the letter from Chuck Schumer, who serves on both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, resulted in an eleven day run on Indymac that resulted in the withdraw of more than $1.3 billion dollars.

John Reich, the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, blamed the Indymac bank failure on the comments made in Senator Chuck Schumer's letter. Reich suggested that Schumer had given the bank a "heart attack."

The run on Indymac prompted huge losses in bank stocks today.
Concerns about the health of the country's financial firms spiked Friday after federal regulators seized IndyMac, which had relied on brokered deposit accounts -- high interest rate paying accounts, normally certificates of deposit, that are offered by a bank to brokers who represent large investors.
Declining to accept the award, Senator Schumer refuses to accept any responsibility for the fiasco. Why would we expect anything less?

Apparently Senator Schumer wholly embraces the "destruction" side of "creative destruction."