“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Real Americans Should Buy a Ford

Real Democrats like to boycott. The lefties love to talk about the things they do not eat, do not buy and do not visit. They do not like salt in their butter, msg in their Chinese or second party tobacco smoke. The Obama left wing machine thinks they can run a car company better than the car companies, so let them. Do not buy GM while the Democrats are running the company. Buy real American. Buy Ford.

Obamobile Motors

Your new carbon footprint. Have you driven a Ford lately?

How do you spell Lenders' Liability?

The US public allows an ex-community organizer, and ex-driver of a Chrysler 300 to seize General Motors, trample stockholders rights, bond holders rights, contract rights and they hardly bleat a bah-effing-bah. 

Personally I think the chosen one steps into the biggest case of lender's liability in history. What is lender's liability you ask?

A loan agreement is like any other contract. If the agreement was fraudulently induced or there was an absence of mutual consent, the agreement cannot be enforced. If the loan contract was breached, the lender can be sued if it was the breaching party.

In Siegner v. Interstate Production Credit Association of Spokane, PCA convinced the plaintiffs, two couples who operated a cattle ranch, to do business with it by making a series of promises about funding. The PCA loan officer assured the plaintiffs that PCA understood the cattle industry and knew it was cyclical and that plaintiffs could take 10 to 20 years to pay off a capital loan. PCA also induced the plaintiffs to purchase a second cattle ranch.

When the time came to sign the loan papers, the plaintiffs noticed that the documents contained new provisions to which they had not agreed and that the document structured the real estate loan for only one year. The PCA loan officer assured them that these provisions were mere formalities and they had nothing to worry about. Based on the officer's assurances, the plaintiffs signed the documents.

When PCA failed to honor its oral promises and made unreasonable demands regarding the real estate loan, the plaintiffs sued. PCA defended itself based on the parol evidence rule. The plaintiffs prevailed at trial and PCA appealed. The appellate court applied the parol evidence rule and found that the oral agreements were not inconsistent with the written agreement and were the type of agreements that might have been made separately. The court found that it would have been highly unlikely for the plaintiffs to have agreed to repay the loan in a year as reflected in the loan documents; if so, the plaintiffs would have purchased the ranch knowing with virtual certainty that they would lose it, as well as other assets, at the end of one year. A one-year loan would also mean that PCA had made the loan knowing it would be required to foreclose on it in one year. As a result, there was nothing inconsistent with loan documents prepared on a yearly basis, with a separate oral agreement to renew over a long period.
Library Find Law.  


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rick Wagoner should have told Obama to kiss his ass.

But then Rick Wagoner is no Jimmy Hoffa.

I have no opinion as to what kind of CEO Rick Wagoner is or to be precise, was. GM is a mess, but so is Ford, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota for that matter. If the stockholders or board of directors at GM wanted Wagoner out of there, they have that responsibility. The President of the United States has no such constitutional right. Obama would not have the balls to take on the president of the UAW or AFSCME or the New York Times. I doubt we will hear much from civil libertarians, but we should hear from serious conservatives. We shall see.

Germany decides to march to beat of a different drummer.

March 29, 2009
Brown snubbed over tax
Germans wreck ‘global new deal’

Jonathan Oliver and Bojan Pancevski Times on Line

GORDON BROWN’S carefully laid plans for a G20 deal on worldwide tax cuts have been scuppered by an eve-of-summit ambush by European leaders.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last night led the assault on the prime minister’s “global new deal” for a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus to end the recession.

“I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she said.

The Spanish finance minister, Pedro Solbes, also dismissed new cash being pledged at Thursday’s London summit.

“In these conditions I and the rest of my colleagues from the eurozone believe there is no room for new fiscal stimulus plans,” he said.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has insisted that “radical reform” of capitalism is more important than tax cutting.

The attacks on Brown’s ambitions for the G20 to inject more money into the world economy come at the end of a week where the prime minister has travelled to three continents to build support for his proposals.

The likely deadlock at this week’s meeting will kill any remaining hope that Alistair Darling’s April 22 budget will offer significant tax cuts.

The assault by European Union leaders also represents a defeat for President Barack Obama, who is desperate for other big economies to copy his $800 billion stimulus plan.

“There will be a very long communiqué, but there won’t be much in it,” said a Washington economist.

Adding to the disarray, a draft of the agreement Brown hopes to secure was leaked to a German news magazine, prompting suggestions of “dirty tricks” by Berlin.

The draft stated that Britain wanted a “$2 trillion” global fiscal stimulus. However, the figure appeared only in brackets, indicating agreement on the package had yet to be reached.

The stimulus would boost world growth by 2% and employment by 19m, the draft said. The rest of the document was mainly general pledges.

“We believe that an open world economy, based on the principles of the market, effective regulation and strong global institutions, can ensure sustainable globalisation with rising well-being for all,” it said.

A No 10 source expressed “disappointment” at the leak and insisted the $2 trillion figure was not new money but an expression of the total tax and spending packages already pledged by G20 members.

Privately, government officials admit that no further fiscal stimulus will be announced this week, although there will be a $250 billion package for the International Monetary Fund to help rescue struggling poor nations.

Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, said he sympathised with the concerns of demonstrators planning to disrupt the London summit. “There is understandable frustration and some anger. The global economic systems has stalled and what we have got to do is get it started.”

George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, yesterday warned Brown against further tax cuts in the budget. “When it comes to your plans for a second fiscal stimulus, I say this Gordon Brown: enough is enough,” he said in a speech. “We will not let you play roulette with the public finances yet again.”

UK officials have not given up on the idea there could be agreement on a fresh boost for the world economy later in the year. “It is likely that there will be another heads of government meeting probably in Asia in the autumn,” said an official.

“This will be the forum where the next round of stimulus will be discussed.”

Brown still hopes to establish the IMF as an informal referee for international tax cuts. The plan is that the Washington-based body could advise on the timing of any future cuts.

Merkel’s criticism drew an angry response from Labour MPs. Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, said: “Who does Mrs Merkel think is going to buy Mercedes and BMWs if she . . . says putting demand into the economy is a bad thing?” Another Labour MP said: “One has to ask who had something to gain from the leak of the communiqué. This feels like a dirty trick.”

There are growing fears that protests at the summit venue, the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands could be marred by violence. Scotland Yard will be deploying specialist officers trained to use 50,000-volt Taser stun guns.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I don't much care for David Letterman but Joaquin Phoenix...

Shakespeare Restored or Ruined?

Portrait prior to restoration

Restoration or defacement? Shakespeare after restoration artists did their deed. 

The traditional image of Shakespeare was as a bald, chubby-faced man. No longer. This newly restored portrait of the playwright, refereed to as the Cobbe painting, was painted in 1610, six year's before Shakespeare's death.

At one time the Cobbe painting was thought to be of Sir Walter Raleigh, but is now claimed to be the most accurate likeness of Shakespeare, and was painted when Shakespeare was 46.

Others believe it is of Sir Thomas Ovebury (1581-1613) an English poet and essayist. (Overbury was sent to the Tower of London by James I after refusing to become ambassador to the court of Michael of Russia. After a short period in the Tower he died of poisoning in 1613.)

Now, it seems as if there is further controversy about the restoration itself:


How restorers ruined the last portrait of Shakespeare
By Arifa Akbar, Arts correspondent Independent
Saturday, 28 March 2009

When art conservators joined hands to restore two rare portraits of Shakespeare they thought they were removing paint daubed on the canvases more than 100 years after the Bard's death to reveal "authentic" portraits beneath.

Now it has emerged they were, in fact, wiping away priceless insights into the changing appearance of Britain's greatest playwright.

The images which had been superimposed on both paintings had actually been painted in Shakespeare's own lifetime, the Art Newspaper will reveal next week, and showed how he looked as he aged. The so-called "restoration" could now go down in art history as one of the biggest blunders on record.

A newly discovered picture of Shakespeare called the Cobbe portrait (painted when he was still living) and another version called the Folger portrait were both irreversibly "cleaned up" in this way.

New research has revealed both portraits were probably altered during Shakespeare's lifetime, or within a decade or so of his death in 1616, while his friends and associates were still alive. In the Cobbe portrait, the sitter was given a bouffant hairstyle, whereas in the Folger portrait, his hair at the front was replaced by a bald forehead.

But why the changes? The Cobbe work is believed to have been painted for the Earl of Southampton. The Shakespeare expert Stanley Wells suggests the Bard had dedicated his erotic sonnets to him. It is possible the Earl may have wanted a more flattering image.

The Folger portrait, on the other hand, may have been altered to reflect Shakespeare's appearance at the time of his death, six years after the original painting. The original represented Shakespeare aged 46.

Rupert Featherstone, director of the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridge, which undertook technical investigations into the Cobbe portrait, admitted that in hindsight, it was unfortunate conservators had removed the overpaint. "We can no longer peer down a microscope to look at the physical evidence of the overpaint," he said. When the overpaint was removed from the two portraits, in 1988 and 2002, it was not thought that either depicted Shakespeare. Some critics doubted that the Bard sat for either portrait.

The Cobbe portrait was restored in 2002 as part of ongoing conservation work of the Cobbe family's pictures. It was then thought that it depicted an unknown sitter by an anonymous artist. The conservation work was undertaken by Mr Cobbe, who is a professional restorer. Research now shows the Cobbe painting is an original portrait completed in Shakespeare's lifetime, and that the Folger picture is an early copy, painted in 1610 when the playwright was still alive.

Mr Cobbe now believes his portrait may have had the hair repainted as early as a few months after the original work had been completed in 1610.

The Folger painting, which was conserved in 1988, is in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. It was acquired in 1932 as an image of Shakespeare, but later downgraded to an anonymous portrait.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Financial crisis 'caused by white men with blue eyes'-President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva of Brazil

Financial crisis 'caused by white men with blue eyes'
With Brown at his side, Brazilian leader apportions blame for global recession

By Andrew Grice, Political Editor Independent
Friday, 27 March 2009

A British minister warned leaders of the world's biggest economies yesterday that they must produce more than empty rhetoric at the crucial G20 summit in London next week.

Lord Malloch-Brown, the plain-speaking Foreign Office minister who is playing a key role in the negotiations ahead of the meeting, said: "We can't again engage in meaningless, empty commitments which don't survive the flight home." Leaders risked fuelling public dissent if they did not agree on action to tackle the recession, with dire consequences for the poorest nations.

But he said Thursday's summit may not have an immediate impact. "The global economy is going to go on descending on 3 April, the massive destruction of wealth that is going on is not going to be stopped by any leaders' communique. Stock markets may be arrested and turned around but we are in for a very tough 2009 under any circumstances – including a successful G20 summit."

In Brazil, Gordon Brown continued his pre-summit tour but there was embarrassment when his host, President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, said the financial crisis was caused by "white people with blue eyes". He told a joint press conference with Mr Brown that he had never met a black banker.

"This is a crisis that was caused by people, white with blue eyes. And before the crisis they looked as if they knew everything about economics," he said. "Once again the great part of the poor in the world that were still not yet [getting] their share of development that was caused by globalisation, they were the first ones to suffer.

President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, said the financial crisis was caused by "white people with blue eyes".

"Since I am not acquainted with any black bankers, I can only say that this part of humanity that is the major victim of the world crisis, these people should pay for the crisis? I cannot accept that. If the G20 becomes a meeting just to set another meeting, we'll be discredited and the crisis can deepen."

Downing Street sources suggested the controversial remarks were meant for "domestic consumption".

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Elephant Celebrates Al-Bob's Maiden Launch

Blogger: The Elephant Bar - Post a Comment

Blogger: The Elephant Bar - Post a Comment

Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner Worry Czech Leader and EU President

"All of these steps, their combination and their permanency is a way to hell. We need to read the history books." -Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, on Barack Obama's plans.

Europeans recognize entrenched bureaucracy when they see it, and former Soviet captive states appreciate the danger of the heavy hand of government. So we have a resigning Czech president warning about the dangerous passage that Barack Obama is steering. 

Obama has yet to achieve "ninety day wonder" status and he is planning spending and programs that will certainly bankrupt the US. Many in the world recognize the calamity in the making.

It is true that Obama is barely in office for sixty days and his influence over the antecedent events has been minimal, but it is the direction and audacity of Obama's plans that is giving a growing number of people concern. Hopefully his overreach will be greater than his grip.


EU presidency blasts US recovery plans

STRASBOURG , AFP — The European Union's Czech presidency blasted US plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to revive its economy as a "way to hell", before downplaying the remark to avert a diplomatic crisis.

Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg that "the United States is not on the right path" with its costly plans to jump start the world's biggest economy.

"All of these steps, their combination and their permanency is a way to hell. We need to read the history books," he said.

Czech Vice Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra later sought to play down the comment, denying before journalists at a news conference at the parliament that Topolanek made the "hell" remark.

An AFP check of the original recording found that Topolanek did indeed make the comment.

Topolanek is seen at home as being deeply conservative on economic issues and has long opposed state intervention in the economy. He is due in any case to submit his resignation to President Vaclav Klaus later this week after his government was narrowly defeated in a no confidence vote on Tuesday.

The incident cast a shadow over transatlantic economic relations just days ahead of a key G20 summit in London on April 2 where leaders from the biggest economic powers are supposed to tackle the global crisis.

It also comes ahead of a summit between EU leaders and US President Barack Obama in Prague.

The opportunity to host the US president was supposed to be the crowning moment of the Czech Republic's EU presidency, which has been overshadowed by the collapse of the government and marked by Klaus's open hostility to the EU.

Concern has been expressed over the effect of a political vacuum at the head of the EU at a time of major crisis.
The White House shrugged off Topolanek's comments as being for domestic consumption.

"From what I can tell, the speaker has some domestic political problems that might speak more to what he was talking about," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs in Washington.

Officials said that Obama would go ahead with the Prague visit on April 4 and 5, despite the government's fall
"The president considers his first meeting with the European Union to be an important opportunity to discuss transatlantic cooperation on a broad range of issues," said national security council spokesman Mike Hammer in Washington.

EU leaders have repeatedly resisted calls to spend more to revive their economies from not only top US and IMF officials but also their increasingly worried publics.

"Timothy Geithner, the American treasury secretary, has spoken of permanent action, which worried us" during the EU summit last week, said Topolanek.

"He spoke of a stimulus campaign in the United States but I don't think that (such) a 'permanent' solution is a real solution," he added.

The "biggest success" of the recent EU summit was "the refusal to go down that path," Topolanek said.

"The United States are going to need cash to finance the measures they plan on taking and they'll do it by selling bonds," he said. "Is that going to bring back stability to the markets?"

Washington is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to support its banking system and stimulate growth as it tries to drag the economy out of its deepest recession in decades.

Meanwhile, the 27-nation European Union has committed to economic stimulus measures in 2009 and 2010 worth 400 billion euros (540 billion dollars), equivalent to 3.3 percent of the bloc's gross domestic product.

The figure includes both national and EU level stimulus measures as well as automatic increases in social spending, such as unemployment benefits, which kick in when the economy weakens.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Dollar's Fall from Grace

Trust me folks, we do not want this to happen for many reasons. The best way to stop it is to achieve a balance of trade. That need not be done all at once and can be augmented by a reduction in military spending overseas. (It is absurd that we still have military bases in England and Germany.) 

We can reduce oil imports, but that cannot be done without domestic drilling. The Chinese are drilling off the coast of Florida, why shouldn't we? 

We can also be more cautious as to where we buy our imported goods. All trade imbalances are not equal. There are many ways, but the most important way is to stop the escalating rate of governmental spending.

Obama, last night, said that he would cut the deficit in half in ten years. Did you happen to notice where the half will take us? Try five hundred billion dollars. Not good. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It Doesn't Get any Better than This

It's a wacky world we live in. Full of surprises. Everyday is an adventure or a misadventure depending on your perspective. I prefer to see the "adventure" in the winding road although I have to admit there seems to be a lot more opportunity for mischief these days. For instance, the big news today:
China calls for new reserve currency

By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing

Published: March 23 2009 12:16 | Last updated: March 24 2009 00:06

China’s central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund.

In an essay posted on the People’s Bank of China’s website, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank’s governor, said the goal would be to create a reserve currency “that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies”.

Analysts said the proposal was an indication of Beijing’s fears that actions being taken to save the domestic US economy would have a negative impact on China.

“This is a clear sign that China, as the largest holder of US dollar financial assets, is concerned about the potential inflationary risk of the US Federal Reserve printing money,” said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC.

Although I sometimes think he's entirely too hysterical, I like Glenn Beck. This morning he was saying that if all the world's currencies depeg from the dollar, the value of the dollar will go straight to one cent.

That's Weimar Republic/Argentina/Zimbabwe territory and we do not want to go there, but how we prevent it? It seems that more people, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, want to get off the Obama gravy train. These trillion plus dollar deficits are scaring people of all political persuasions. The problem is, no one knows what is going on anymore. It has become nearly impossible to do any business forecasting. Strategic planning requires the development of multiple scenarios for a variety of anticipated market conditions. Here it is nearly the end of March and Secretary Geithner has just this week proposed an outline for a program to relieve the banks of their "toxic assets." How many hundreds of billions of dollars have we spent so far on bank bailouts and why are we just now getting around to addressing the core problem? Could it be that the crisis opportunity was hijacked by Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al? It's a rhetorical question. We all know the answer. Unfortunately, we don't know the consequences. So, for the sake of sanity, my advice is to treat everyday as an adventure, a real life quest complete with challenges, defeats and victories. Don't worry, if life kicks your butt today, there's always tomorrow.

How Did America End Up With Barney Frank?

This morning Barney Frank chairs committee hearings that affects the future of American financial freedom and security. This irresponsible caricature of a cliche, a buffoon, a failed fop, a pretender to intellectual distinction and the aging queen of the house has a significant impact on your wealth and all for which you worked and saved.

How is that possible?

Monday, March 23, 2009

How sweet it is.

Bruce Willis has married British-born model Emma Heming at his home in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is a lucky man and was not overly concerned about the TARP.

The Bride.

"Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job"

I found this post from an Indian newspaper, India Daily


Barack Obama - a President without Presidency – the secret money trail from AIG to Goldman
Tania Solani
Mar. 21, 2009

A good man he is. Somber, gentleman, honest and careful he is. But he fell victim to the trap of American oligarchs. They selected him to continue brainwashing the common people of America. President Obama is a US President but real control and power lies with people that really controls America from behind the curtains.

Otherwise why he cannot sack Geitner? Otherwise why he has to maintain the Clinton-Bush status quo that led US to its worst ever depression and the world into deep recession?

Obama was selected as the preferred successor to George Bush in 2004 when as an unknown man in politics he delivered the keynote speech in Democratic conventions. No one knew this man. John Kerry just like Al Gore knew very well that he would lose through some voting manipulation in Ohio and barrack would be the next “Bill Clinton” taking the torch over from George Bush to guard the interests of the American oligarchs.

Today the change has run its course. The Bush is no longer there. But still Goldman Sachs gets most of the welfare bail out from US Taxpayers hard earned money. Welfare for the richest and hardship for the rest continues as Barack Obama continues his speeches brainwashing people and soothing down the anger of the middle class. He is no President. He is just the agent of the oligarchs that tell him what to do. His current job is to get the budget passed, and sooth down the American middleclass anger and frustration, and maintain the stays quo.

You cannot write about this too much. World’s most vigorous democracy has a new rule implanted by Bush-Cheney and never repealed by the “new Bush” Obama – the US Administration reserves the right to jail any one they do not like without any legal defense or intervention of the judicial system in the name of homeland security.

a The judicial system is also tilted. The Supreme Court really represents the American oligarchs that keep the politicians as servants.

Look at what happened in AIG. Do not look at the $200 million or so they distributed to some morons that were worth nothing but jail terms. Look at the tens of billions of dollars Goldman Sachs got as charity from the taxpayers money through AIG.

Goldman’s collaterals were protected by its former boss Henry Paulson – yes that guy who George Bush allowed to hand over the US treasury to the rich American oligarchs. Timothy Geitetner and Somers represent the interest of the American rich oligarchs. You can flip the coin from Democrats to Republican and back; you find same old junk – the representation of the rich, corrupt, greedy, blood sucking American oligarchs. If you have any doubt, listen to this: Senator's Todd, Kerry, Obama, and Clinton were the top receivers of Fannie Mae political contributions from 1989 to 2008. They also received top funds from AIG.

Do not focus on the bonuses. The real monster is in the secret money trail from US Treasury to AIG to Goldman Sachs. There are many AIGs and Goldmans. Obama, Bush, Paulson, Geitner, Bernanke, Somers, Clintons – all are involved. The foxes are guarding the hens since 1980.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Our Rulers & Masters: Gangsters in Pinstripes

From anger to madness: A class-warfare crazed government mob is running amok

Michael Goodwin

Sunday, March 22nd 2009, 4:00 AM

Everybody makes mistakes, and I made a beaut the other day. I was wrong to call members of Congress blow-hards and buffoons and declare them worse than useless.

I was too kind.

I should have said our representatives are gangsters in pinstripes and pearls. They are petty tyrants and the more power they grab, the more at risk we are. Homeland Security should flash Code Red any time this Congress is in session.

It is twilight in America now. The House vote to use the tax code to retroactively punish bonus babies was an act of sheer madness. What started as phony outrage at AIG has crossed the line into insane policy. It is stunning that the vote was lopsided and bipartisan.

The Senate is itchy to go along, and President Obama says he's ready to tighten the thumbscrews on the banks. Is there no adult who will bring a straitjacket?

We should all be very afraid. Class warfare is mere predicate for a witch hunt that, once unleashed, will not stop with misbegotten wealth. It will punish success and stifle innovation. Dissent will invite dishonor.

That Congress is a gang of cheap connivers is not news. Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, Charles Grassley, Barney Frank - they have been national embarrassments for years.

But now they are dangerous, emboldened by public fear and anger. They know nothing, but have power and smell opportunity for more.

Missing in action is the Barack Obama who vowed to unite the country around common values. Lately he has been the very opposite of the man he promised. Instead of hope, many have a growing fear of the arrogant government he leads.

Obama is smart, quick and charming, and, as he showed on "The Tonight Show," owner of a thousand-watt smile he can deploy at will. He silkily manages to make the ridiculous sound reasonable. When he insults the Special Olympics, he is forgiven.

Yet even "Tonight" host Jay Leno broke from full flattery to reveal his qualms about the meaning of the bonus tax. "Here's something that kind of scared me," he said. "If the government decides they don't like a guy, all of a sudden, hey, we're going to tax you and then, boom, and it passes."

Obama brushed it off, part of an endless road show claim that he will bring back "common sense" to the financial system and restore "those values that built America."

If only. In truth, there is no history for what he is doing. He is the most radical President of our times, far outside the mainstream of our political philosophy.

He is not a reformer who fixes things. He fancies himself "transformative," a man who reshapes and reorders. It apparently begins with smashing the existing order under the pretext of managing the crisis he inherited.

During the campaign, a fellow journalist confided that "I know Obama is a Manchurian candidate, I just can't figure out what for."

I laughed then, but no more. Obama represents a secular religion that believes, no matter the malady, Washington is the antidote. More government is the chicken soup of his tribe.

It is an illusion of many Republicans and Democrats that Washington can successfully manage the economy and our lives. Our institutions and culture are too big, too diverse and too unruly to be run like a banana republic.

Yet the economic mess has robbed the nation of its confidence, and the vacuum is being filled by politicians bearing promises and borrowed dollars. The true cost of this "help" will come later, with back-breaking debt and a lack of growth and opportunity.

We can't say we haven't been warned. "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad" is more than folklore. It predicts our fate if we follow the government mob.

Gun Repression in South Africa

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What a Mess!

Hat Tip: Doug

The attorneys general of Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and West Virginia have also launched investigations and are demanding names addresses on documents concerning the bonuses of AIG contract employees. The Treasury Secretary Geithner, based upon this video, advised Congress of the AIG program which included retention bonuses.

Hat Tip on Video update: Joe Buzz

To get us out of this mess, we were told it was necessary to flood liquidity into the banking system. It was decided that joint cooperation between the government and banking system was necessary to avoid a complete breakdown of the world financial system.

Under the leadership of Obama, and the Democrats in the House, we have devolved into this quagmire. Half the Republicans joined the Democrats and voted for a bill that amounts to a bill of attainder. Public exposure of their names and addresses will expose them to physical danger.

Continued cooperation will be expected of bankers and financial specialists, who will face threats, derision and confiscation of property from the same government that needs their help. So we are told. What a mess!

What is wrong with this picture?

Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico oil reserves are increasing, AFP reports

CARACAS (Bloomberg) --
Cuba’s oil reserves in its portion of the Gulf of Mexico “continue increasing,” Agence France- Presse reported, citing Yadira Garcia, the island nation’s minister for basic industries.

The Caribbean country’s future oil reserves are most likely to be found in its area of the gulf, which measures 112,000 square kilometers (43,000 square miles) and is divided into 59 oil blocks, AFP reported, citing Garcia, who spoke at a geological sciences conference in Cuba.

Cuba may have 21 billion barrels of probable oil reserves, including onshore and offshore discoveries, AFP said, citing conference participants.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How is the Tingle Working? Obama Deficits to be $9.3 Trillion over Decade

This will be a short honeymoon. Anyone with a brain and who has watched how Congress has conducted itself over the last few weeks must take pause and ask if this is the same group that you would want to run your healthcare. We can see what they have done for our 401k's and housing. Obama is delusional if he thinks he can nationalize education, health care and energy.

Hope and change? Got it.

March 21, 2009
Much Bigger Deficits Seen in Budget Office Forecast

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s budget proposals, if carried out, would produce a staggering $9.3 trillion in total deficits over the next decade, much more than the White House has predicted, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

The office’s estimates of deficits in the fiscal years 2010 through 2019 “exceed those anticipated by the administration by $2.3 trillion,” the budget office said in a report.

The deficits under the Obama plan would be $4.9 trillion more than the deficits that would be projected if there were no changes in current laws and policies — what the nonpartisan budget office calls its baseline assumption.

The startling new figures have enormous implications, political as well as fiscal. They are certain to bring new expressions of alarm and dismay from deficit hawks on Capitol Hill, where the president’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins in October, has already stirred debate.

President Obama’s budget director, Peter R. Orszag, conceded in a news briefing on Friday that annual deficits of 4 to 5 percent of gross domestic product, as envisioned in the office’s report, are “ultimately not sustainable.”

But Mr. Orszag insisted that administration officials “remain confident” in what he called “the four key principles” of the president’s budget outline: health care reform, improvements in education, energy efficiency, and reducing the annual deficit in half by the end of the president’s first term from the extraordinary levels it has suddenly reached because of the bailout and stimulus spending this year — spending that the budget office said would help to bring an end to the recession by the end of 2009.

Mr. Orszag said he was confident that those goals will all be accomplished in whatever budget resolution emerges after negotiations with Congress. Asked about recent statements by Senator Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who heads the Budget Committee, that the president’s spending plans might have to be adjusted downward, Mr. Orszag said it was always assumed that there would be negotiations. “It’s not like the process would have them just Xerox and vote on it,” he said.

As for the differences among various budget projections, Mr. Orszag attributed them in part to small percentages — such as divergent assumptions about the rate of economic growth — that, when applied to huge numbers, can produce eye-popping contrasts.

The new estimates will reignite the debate over whether the president’s spending plans are far too ambitious, given the state of the economy, or just what is needed to address systemic problems.

“If there was ever any doubt that the administration’s budget spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much, it’s gone,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and ranking minority member on the Finance Committee, as well as a senior member on the Budget panel, said Congress and the White House need to get the message that the new figures embody.

“People can afford only so much government spending, even for the worthiest-sounding causes,” he said in a statement.

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican minority leader, had a similar reaction. “We simply cannot continue to mortgage our children and grandchildren’s future to pay for bigger and more costly government,” he said.

But USAction, an organization pushing for passage of the president’s budget, said the new numbers teach an opposite lesson. “This revised report delivers a stark message that the economy is in even worse shape than previously thought,” said Alan Charney, the group’s program director. “It reinforces why it’s even more critical to pass the initiatives on healthcare, education and the economy laid out the President’s budget.”

The deficit is the year-by-year gap between what the government spends and the revenue it takes in. So even if annual deficits are cut, the overall national debt will continue to grow so long as there is no surplus. The debt now stands at around $11 trillion, with about $6.5 trillion owed to individuals, corporations and governments and other lenders, foreign or domestic, while about $4.3 trillion is owed to the funds for Social Security benefits, military and civil service pensions and other government programs.

New York Times

It Gets Worse...Obama Is Even More Naive Than I Imagined

Rufus said that I had a failure of imagination. He was right. This video is hard to believe. It is treacle. (Think Of George Bush's Ramadan party or James Baker taking the Ayatolloh a cake.)

“We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world,” Obama said.
“There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences.”

“But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: ‘The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.’”

“On the occasion of your New Year, I want you, the people and leaders of Iran, to understand the future that we seek,” Obama said. “It’s a future with renewed exchanges among our people, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce” and “greater security and greater peace.”

Silly us. It was all a big misunderstanding. Let's hear some Kumbaya.

Warming up over at the State Department

"In an unusually swift reaction to Mr Obama's overture, Aliakbar Javanfekr, an aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Iran welcomed "the interest of the American government to settle differences".
But he said that the US government "should realise its previous mistakes and make an effort to amend them".
In an almost simultaneous announcement, from Iran's energy minister, Parviz Fattah, said that the country would "finish and operate" its controversial Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant by the end of the year.
"Iran has chosen a direction for achieving peaceful nuclear energy. We have mainly reached this aim," he said at the World Water Forum in Istanbul.

"Exactly 20 days from now we will have another celebration for celebrating the achievements we have gained for peaceful nuclear energy. You will hear about the news," he said.

"Iran will finish and operate the Bushehr nuclear plant by the end of this year."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fed Opens the Flood Gates

The fed has liquified the economy by about $1.3 trillion. Without considering the multiplier affect, that is equal to the Gross State Production of the following states:

District of Columbia (not a state)
New Mexico
West Virginia
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
South Dakota
North Dakota

What do you think will be the effect?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Democrats are behaving like...Democrats

whit said...

If the AIG people are shamed or cajoled into returning the bonuses, that's one thing. But using tax laws to get the money back is unthinkable. Any kind of coercion by the Feds is unacceptable. This is America, dammit, not some banana republic where the tinhorn du jour can run roughshod over whoever he wishes to.

It is scary that so many people from opposite ends of the political spectrum agree on grabbing back the bonuses. The country is going to hell in a rocket ship.

March 18, 2009 politico
House To Vote Tomorrow On Bonus Tax

Democrats will introduce a bill on the House floor tomorrow morning that would apply a 90 percent income tax to bonuses given to employees of companies that have received at least $5 billion in TARP money. This would apply to bonuses paid by AIG, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

"We passed a recovery act. We did not pass a license to steal," said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), one of the architects of the bill. "If you won't give the bonuses back, we will tax them back."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who sets the House floor agenda, said at an afternoon press conference that the bill would be voted on tomorrow and that he expects it to pass "in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion."

Hoyer was particularly "outraged" that AIG employees would accept such large bonuses and that the House would be forced to act, especially on the same day the House passed the GIVE Act. That bill will, among other things, increase the number of AmeriCorps volunteers and promote volunteering through college incentives.

"Give it back," Hoyer said. "Give it back to the company and to the people that kept your company alive after your failure to act responsibly. Act responsibly now."

According to a release handed out at the press conference, the bill will apply only to bonus payments received since the beginning of the year and to individuals whose annual income exceeds $250,000.

"This money doesn't belong to AIG," Israel said. "It belongs to the American taxpayer, and we're going to take it back."

Banking Explained


The AIG Outrage
The government shouldn’t run anything, because it cannot run anythin
Larry Kudlow
This whole AIG fiasco — where the entire political class is suddenly screaming over bonuses paid to derivative traders in AIG’s financial-products division — is just a complete farce. What it really shows is how the government has completely bungled the AIG takeover. Blame the Bush administration and the Obama administration. It also shows, once again, why the government shouldn’t run anything, because it cannot run anything.

AIG should have been placed in bankruptcy last fall under some sort of government sponsorship. While in bankruptcy, all the salary contracts (and every other AIG contract) would have been nullified and voided. At the same time, there would have been an orderly liquidation and sale of AIG’s assets and separate divisions.

But as things stand now, there still is no clear roadmap for the dissolution of AIG. There are ideas, but nothing is set in concrete.

And as for the $165 million or so in AIG bonus payments, the Obama administration — including the president, Treasury man Tim Geithner, and economic adviser Larry Summers — knew all about them many months ago. They were undoubtedly informed of this during the White House transition.

So there’s no big surprise. Nobody should be shocked. But President Obama is doing his best play-acting ever. He knows full well that the nationwide outcry against federal bailouts and takeovers is only going to get worse on his watch. His poll numbers are already falling, and this AIG episode is going to pull them down more.

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

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

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

And what is Treasury man Geithner’s role in all this? He appears to be the biggest bungler in what has become a massive bungling. My CNBC friend and colleague Charlie Gasparino thinks Geithner can’t survive this. I am inclined to agree.

Nevertheless, behind the furor over AIG, there is some good news to report on the banking front. This week’s decision by the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to allow cash-flow accounting rather than distressed last-trade mark-to-market accounting will go a long way toward solving the banking and toxic-asset problem.

Many experts believe mortgage-backed securities and other toxic assets are being serviced in a timely cash-flow manner for at least 70 cents on the dollar. This is so important. Under mark-to-market, many of these assets were written down to 20 cents on the dollar, destroying bank profits and capital. But now banks can value these assets in economic terms based on positive cash flows, rather than in distressed markets that have virtually no meaning.

Actually, when the FASB rules are adopted in the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see if a pro forma re-estimate of the last year reveals that banks have been far more profitable and have much more capital than this crazy mark-to-market accounting would have us believe.

Sharp-eyed banking analyst Dick Bove has argued that most bank losses have been non-cash — i.e., mark-to-market write-downs. Take those fictitious write-downs away and you are left with a much healthier banking picture. This is huge in terms of solving the credit crisis.

In a column last week I suggested that not one more dime of government money is necessary for the banks. Instead, the marriage of the cash-flow valuation of bank assets and the upward-sloping Treasury yield curve will do the trick. Net interest margins are rising as banks purchase money for near-zero interest and loan it out at profitable rates. And the new mark-to-market reform will allow banks to hold their toxic assets for several more years and work them out — just as they did back in the 1990s.

We don’t need more TARP. We don’t need to take over more big banks. And we don’t need to have the government run things it simply isn’t capable of running.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Motivate the Financial Pukes at AIG

You need motivation, asshole?

Let me see if I have this right.

The talent at AIG needs motivation of $175 million to retain the financial geniuses that got us into this mess. Some of them need a couple mil each, they are that skilled. Now when we have a national emergency such as helping the Iraqis achieve democracy, we round up cops and fireman, who are also guardsman, and send them on two and three tours of combat duty. We also keep them beyond their enlistment dates.

Let's look at history

In 1952, the US steelworkers went on strike. National wage controls had been reimposed to keep inflation in check during the Korean War. That was a financial emergency. Let me repeat, it was a national financial emergency. The USWA negotiators asked U.S. Steel for a large 30-cent per hour wage increase. The government recommended a 16.5 cent increase. Big steel said nada. Congress then threatened to overturn any Board agreement.

On March 8, 1952, President Truman nationalized the American steel industry, the courts intervened and Truman began preparations to draft the steelworkers into the army under the provisions of the Selective Service Act.

We have precedent. Here goes.

Draft the geniuses at AIG into the army. Pay them an E-4 rate and let them out when they clear up the mess. That should be all the motivation that they need.

Monday, March 16, 2009

While we squander ourselves in the Middle East, Latin America turns further left.

The US becomes the repository of all that goes wrong in Latin America. When we gave China a free pass in a ridiculously lopsided trade agreement, the US not only killed off much US manufacturing but also took much of the starch out of the factories in Central and South America.

Cheap Chinese goods transported on subsidized ships filled the stores and bodegas of the Americas. Nascent industries collapsed and a growing underclass fueled with crack and smack spread violence and terror throughout the slums in the southern part of our own continent.

Salvador, a country of six and one half million and two million of them is the US, is the latest American country to select a left-wing government. Many more good people will flee to the US. Along with them will come the refuse of failed ideas.

We continue to consume our treasure and time in the Middle East when our freedom, opportunity and future is in the Americas. We have been screwing around in the Middle East for forty years. Why?

Our presence and attention is needed where it matters and where we can have an effect and that is in our own continent in America.


El Salvador moves Latin America further left

El Salvador has a new left-wing president. Former journalist Mauricio Funes defeated the ruling right-wing president Rodrigo Avila in Sunday's election, polling 51.2 percent of the votes. He defeated his right-wing opponent from the ARENA party by a mere 60,000 votes.

Mr Funes ) explained the cause of his victory to Radio Netherlands' José Zepeda:

"What matters is not the long time that ARENA was in power, but the way they were in power. (...) A small group got preferential treatment, at the disadvantage of the rest of society. In the end, everybody will rise up against that."
The victory seals an historic journey to power for Mr Funes' FMLN party of former Marxist rebels. It also means El Salvador joins the growing tide of socialist-led Latin American countries.

But regional expert Dirk Kruijt told RNW Newsline's Davion Ford that the president-elect is considered a moderate; so is his deputy:
"The newly elected president is a former journalist with sympathy for the original guerrilla Frente which transformed in 1992 into the Farabundo Martí political party, FMLN. A late member, and a person who could forge alliances with other parts and segments of the population.

President-elect Funes has always presented himself as a friend of the US. And Sánchez Cerén, the vice president, the representative of the orthodoxy line, stated in several interviews that 'Socialism cannot be decreed from above.'"

Security problems

The regime change will not make much difference for El Salvador's economy, which is not doing too badly. But, Mr Kruit says, the new president has another task on his hands:
"The real problem of Salvador is public safety and public security. It is one of the countries with the highest murder rate in the world, in terms of murders per 100,000 inhabitants; it has a stock of small arms that is sufficient to kill 40 percent of the world population, and it is in part terrorised by youth gangs. The country is also suffering from hard crime and organised crime, and that is not attacked by the police authorities."

Shift to the left

El Salvador had been a right-wing stronghold for decades. With the leftward shift in Central and South America, some of the people in El Salvador are saying that the country will become a Venezuelan satellite. But Mr Kruit points out that neither the new man, nor his deputy favour a sharp move to the left, and adds:
"The changes will be slow, there is not going to be a process of nationalisation of industry, it wouldn't be in the interest of the national economy, so the claim of a second Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is an enormous exaggeration."
The main challenge for the new president is to live up to the hopes of the impoverished one-third of El Salvador's population. The people who elected Mauricio Funes will judge him by his successes in fighting poverty and insecurity in his country.

Here is Irony: China Loses $80B in Market, but Losses May be Covered by Rise in US Treasuries.

China is the largest holder of U.S. public debt. Last week, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, made some blunt warnings that the U.S. must assure China on the safety of its investment in the United States. It appears that the Chinese were diversifying out of the dollar at the beginning of the financial crisis and to put it equally bluntly, they got their ass handed back to them by some very bad bets, but get this: Their non-diversified holds of US debt increased as interest rates declined and the US debt holdings covered their losses.


China lost billions in diversity drive

By By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing Financial Times
Published: March 15 2009 23:32 | Last updated: March 15 2009 23:32

China has lost tens of billions of dollars of its foreign exchange reserves through a poorly timed diversification into global equities just before world markets collapsed last year.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the opaque manager of nearly $2,000bn (€1,547bn, £1,429bn) of reserves, started making huge bets on global stocks early in 2007 and continued this strategy at least until the collapse of the US mortgage finance providers Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in July 2008, according to analysts and people familiar with Safe’s operations.

By that point Safe had moved well over 15 per cent of the country’s $1,800bn reserves into riskier assets, including equities and corporate bonds, according to people familiar with its strategy.

Safe never discloses its holdings except to the top Chinese leadership so it is impossible to know exactly how much it has lost from diversifying before markets crashed.

But judging from the subsequent fall in global stock prices and a conservative estimate that Safe held about $160bn worth of overseas equities, Chinese losses on those investments would exceed $80bn, or more than 50 per cent, according to Brad Setser, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Total holdings of US equities by all Chinese entities reached $100bn by the end of June last year, more than triple the total of Chinese holdings in June 2007, according to an annual survey published by the US Treasury.

‘It appears Safe began diversifying into equities early in 2007 and, rather than being deterred by the subprime crisis, it continued to buy’ -Brad Setser, economist, Council on Foreign Relations

In mid-2006, Chinese holdings of US equities totalled just $4bn. Chinese investors are mostly barred from investing abroad and Safe is the only entity with the resources and the authority to make such large-scale offshore portfolio investments.

“Safe has built up one of the largest US equity portfolios of any foreign government entity investing abroad, including the major sovereign wealth funds,” Mr Setser said.

“It appears Safe began diversifying into equities early in 2007 and, rather than being deterred by the subprime crisis, it continued to buy.”

China’s leadership has not commented on the equity losses but Wen Jiabao, prime minister, expressed concern about the value of China’s large holdings of US assets on Friday and warned the US to take measures to guarantee its “good credit”.

Safe uses a Hong Kong subsidiary when investing in offshore equities in the US and other countries, including the UK, where this subsidiary took small stakes last year in dozens of UK companies including Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Barclays, Tesco and RBS.

As part of its diversification in early 2008, Safe also gave some money to private equity firms such as TPG and to hedge funds on a managed account basis.

This gave the Chinese government ultimate approval for how its money was invested, according to people who have worked with Safe.

The large shift into global equities appears to have started at around the time that Beijing approved the establishment of China Investment Corporation, the country’s official sovereign wealth fund, which has been widely criticised in China for incurring paper losses of around $4bn on high-profile investments in Morgan Stanley and Blackstone.

The bulk of Safe’s holdings remain in US Treasury bills and much of the loss on its riskier assets will be offset by gains on long-term bills, according to Mr Setser.

“They are a lot more cautious and risk-averse now and have basically returned to buying government bonds,” said someone who works with Safe.

Ron Silver, an Independent Man, Dies

Ron Silver, died this morning at his home in New York. Ron was 62 and had esophageal cancer/

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"If you grab them by the balls, the hearts and minds will follow" - Charles Colson

Judd Gregg on Obama's "Wizard of Oz budget." The Federal debt will triple in ten years. That is planned unsustainability with consequences that are hard to contemplate.

The choice will be simple, The government will have you by the balls or you better reach out and put them in their place. The Obama honeymoon will end fast. The American public will see what they have installed as overlords and will look for an alternative.

Here is a man the Republicans can build a party around and start a movement to roll back the Obamoids.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Change of Barack Obama, sounds familiar.

Trailer-park-trash dad, Ronald Cummings, and Misty Croslin, marry. Hadleigh still dead somewhere.

The father of missing child Haleigh Cummings' married his 17-year-old-girlfriend, who was the last one known to have seen the child alive, the girl's grandmother told Nancy Grace producers.

By Marlaina Schiavo CNN
Nancy Grace Producer

On Sunday Ronald Cummings asked his teenage girlfriend, Misty Croslin, for her hand in marriage at a local Chili's restaurant. While he was with several family members, Cummings got down on one knee, asked Croslin to marry him and gave her Haleigh's grandmother's diamond ring.

Because Croslin is only 17 years old, her mother filled out the paperwork so the two could be married.

On Thursday, the pair tied the knot, after the three-day waiting period required by Florida law.

Croslin, who was beaming earlier in the week after the engagement, told CNN affiliate WJXT-TV that while she knows there will be critics of the marriage and the timing, "everything is still about Haleigh."

Croslin said she wanted to be together as a family, just as Haleigh would have wanted.

"Everybody is probably going to take this marriage thing the wrong way," Croslin told WJXT. "This is what Haleigh wanted. She has always talked about it, and even if she's not with us, she is still with us."

Croslin told police she tucked Haleigh and her 4-year-old brother into bed about 8 p.m. February 9 in their Satsuma, Florida, home. She said she went to sleep herself about 10 p.m. but woke at 3 a.m. to find Haleigh missing and a back door propped open by bricks.

Police are still actively searching for the girl, with a new search happening this week, and investigators Wednesday took the back door that was found propped open.

In the middle of the search for the girl, the newlyweds will fly to New York Thursday night for their honeymoon and an exclusive appearance on the Today show.

Haleigh's grandmother, Teresa Neves, also acknowledged the timing might seem "unusual."

"Well, it is unusual for some onlookers, but those people didn't live with my two grandchildren," she told Nancy Grace. "My grandchildren, both Haleigh and Junior, have very often said that they would love for their daddy to marry Misty and that they wanted Misty to be their mommy. And so I feel like they are just trying to fulfill a wish for Haleigh so that when she comes home she will have that extra happiness to come home to."

Ronald Cummings proposes to Misty Croslin Sunday at a local Chili's restaurant.

Before the wedding, Neves told CNN affiliate WKMG-TV the wedding would be difficult without Haleigh.

"It's an event that Haleigh really should be at, but when she comes home, we'll have a great big wedding so she can be the flower girl and see it all again," Neves said.