“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."

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Government welfare plan to be proud of, the new GI Bill

Well done. $78 billion and worth every penny. The recent previous programs were a farce. This is a bill that is both generous and adequate. It is expensive, but a just and wise investment in the lives and future families of worthy Americans that stood up and served.


New GI Bill Sending Veterans to School This Fall

Published: July 31, 2009
Filed at 3:46 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Spc. Marco Reininger started the year on the dusty streets of Afghanistan. He'll end it on the campus of Columbia University with the government picking up a large chunk of the $100,000 tab for tuition.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill rolls out on Saturday, just in time for the fall semester for veterans of the recent wars. Reminiscent of the GI education benefits signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt two weeks after D-Day in 1944, the measure is aimed at transforming the lives of a new generation of veterans.

President Barack Obama on Monday will attend a rally at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., in celebration.

In the next decade, $78 billion is expected to be paid out under the new GI Bill, which is the most comprehensive education benefit offered since World War II.

Many veterans who served after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are eligible for full tuition and fees for four years at a state university, a monthly housing stipend and up to $1,000 annually for books. Among those covered are members of the Guard and Reserve who spent three months or more activated for war service, giving them vastly improved benefits.

If they opt to attend a private institution or graduate program, they can receive aid up to the cost of a public college in the state. About 1,100 schools and colleges are offering additional scholarships for veterans that the VA is matching under a Yellow Ribbon program.

Many veterans say they can't help but be thankful.

''It definitely makes it more valuable,'' Reininger, 25, a member of the New York Army National Guard, said of his combat experience. ''Without that deployment, I couldn't be eligible for anything.''

By 1947, nearly half of all college students in America were veterans. The program cost $14.5 billion, and more than half of the nation's 15 million World War II veterans participated in some sort of educational program.

One of them was Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., 85, the child of immigrants from hard-scrabble Paterson, N.J., who fought in Europe at age 18. The GI Bill paid for him to go to Columbia University.

''In a way, I'm not even sure I would've gone to college,'' Lautenberg said. ''The horizon was so limited. I couldn't think in terms of the future.''

Lautenberg signed on early to the new GI Bill legislation, which was authored by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., 63, a Vietnam veteran whose Marine son fought in Iraq.

Webb attended the U.S. Naval Academy before his war service and Georgetown University's law school afterward. He said paying for education sends a signal about the value of military service and helps veterans with readjustment issues.

''There's a tremendous downstream effect on the emotional well-being on the people who have served if you treat them right,'' he said.

Webb said he's had success convincing others in Congress of the need for the new GI Bill by showing that when inflation is considered, veterans from the current wars are receiving about 15 percent of what some World War II veterans had received.

Aubrey Arcangel, 27, an Iraq veteran who attends City College of New York, recalls chatting with some of his Army buddies in Iraq worried about finding a job in the recession, and telling them about the new benefit.

''They were worried about getting out and looking for a job, and I said, 'Listen, this new GI Bill will do good for you,''' Arcangel said.

The legislation didn't pass without a fight. Some lawmakers complained about the cost, and the Pentagon expressed concerns that many troops would leave the military to attend college. A popular benefit was added that allowed members of the military to transfer the benefit to spouses or children if they agree to serve an additional four years.

It's anticipated that 485,000 veterans or their family members could participate in the first year. About 112,000 claims have been processed so far, and more than 1 million callers have flooded a VA call center this year with questions. About 25,000 service members have applied to use the transfer benefit.

There are concerns that universities and the VA could be overwhelmed, in part, because the benefit is complex. And, there are complaints that veterans attending private schools in states like California that kept their public tuition low face a major disparity in what they receive.

Keith M. Wilson, education service director at the VA, said agency officials are working with Congress on solutions to potential problems, but the agency overall feels good about its ability to execute the program.

''There's certainly going to be things that will not go as expected. We would expect to be able to learn from those situations and correct them quickly and move on,'' Wilson said.

Veterans from the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which aggressively lobbied for the bill, are back on Capitol Hill pushing for what they call a GI Bill fix. Among other changes, it would seek to solve the disparity in tuition amounts covered and grant new benefits for vocational programs. It would also provide a living allowance for those who live too far from a university and take classes online.

''The benefit is fantastic, it's transformative, it's historic, but we also have serious concerns about where it stands right now,'' said Paul Rieckhoff, the group's executive director and founder.

House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner, D-Calif., said Friday his committee will address the proposed fixes this fall, and he anticipates they will be implemented a year from now.

Iraq veteran Isaac Pacheco, 27, from Union, Ky., a Marine in the Individual Ready Reserve who is publications editor at AMVETS, said he's grateful for the thousands of dollars he's receiving to help pay for a graduate program this fall at Georgetown University.

''Veterans are a really valuable resource to the learning pool, to the marketplace of ideas, so they're going to bring a lot of valuable experience to these universities,'' Pacheco said.


On the Net:

Veterans Affairs Department site on new GI Bill:

Defense Department site on new GI Bill:

Nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America new GI Bill site:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obama , man of the people. Whose? case you were not sure what a dominecker is.

Oh well, slick is as slick does. It happens in most relationships. A time arrives, a moment when someone says or does something that lifts the veil. Sometimes it brings you down to earth and gives you an opportunity to rationally evaluate what you are buying, other times, it is a deal breaker. Obama did that this week.

Without having the facts, Obama revealed himself to be reactive, impulsive and tribal in siding with the elite black professor over the white working class cop. He ended the week with a shabby, ludicrous condescension of publicity, the so-called sitting down with a beer.

No fried chicken or slim jims? Who is buying that bovine turd? By the looks of the polls, fewer and fewer, especially amongst the white working (and increasingly non-working) class. The blacks will be with him till the last dominecker dies, but they did not get Obama elected. The white voter that thought Obama was somehow special did that. Well, he never was special, just slick and smooth.

Obama has done nothing for the people that voted for him. The thing that matters to ordinary Americans is having a job and preserving their wealth. On both issues Obama has been hopeless and small change.

The delusion is ending.


MSNBC deeply offended about President Obama being called racist by Glenn Beck

MSNBC has been deeply offended all day about Glenn Beck's comment calling Obama a racist on FOX. Obama is not a racist but then neither was George Bush. However, MSNBC has selective indignation and of course Chris Matthews, the tingling tower of flatulence, spittle at the ready, poured it on. Shall we roll back the tape? Except this time it was MSNBC that was hosting a commenter on George Bush.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Playing checkers with Obama

Why has Colin Powell jumped into the Gates controversy? Simple, he sees the damage done by the shrinking stature of the deflating Barack Obama. He is carrying the Obama water in an increasingly leaky bucket. In short the Obama phenomenon is diminishing before our political eyes.

As stated before, the only thing that will save the Obama Presidency is the Republicans.


The Shrinking President
by Jed Babbin
Human Events

Just as small men can be great, the important can be small. Barack Obama, who strode the political world last year as a new Colossus, is shrinking before our eyes. His proclamation that the Cambridge, Mass., police “acted stupidly” in arresting his personal friend, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was one of those “teachable moments” the president is so fond of creating.

But the lesson of that moment is not the one the president apprehended. It is a lesson that proved how little the president appreciates the office he holds.

I use that term precisely: not in the sense that Obama doesn’t like the power he holds. He, more than any president in memory, takes personal enjoyment from exercising it. His lack of appreciation is a lack of understanding of that power and the limits on how it should be exercised.

Obama’s team orchestrates press conferences at an unprecedented level. They talk to reporters about questions to be asked, prepare Obama for his answers (displayed on a huge off-camera teleprompter behind the reporters where Obama can read from it) and only then does the president face his amen chorus of the media.

In the July 22 presser, Obama was asked about the disorderly conduct arrest of Harvard Professor Gates. Obama said:
Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here… Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.

The official police report of the arrest says that Gates was loud, abusive and uncooperative with the investigating officer who was responding to a call about a possible break-in at the house. Gates reportedly shouted continuously at Crowley, accusing him of being a racist and telling him that he had no idea “who he was messing with” and that Crowley “…had not heard the last of it.” Apparently, Obama delivered on that threat. He spoke as if he were Jesse Jackson, not the President of the United States.

The arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, has a better and deeper understanding of the office of president than the man who holds it. He told a radio interviewer that Obama, “…was way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts."

The American presidency is a national office, not that of a Chicago ward-heeler. A president’s words carry the weight and power of the nation. His constitutional charter makes him the chief administrator of law and policy as well as commander in chief. His charter does not extend to interfering in matters that are not within that charter.

There is no precedent for Obama’s intervention in the Gates arrest. Presidents do not interfere in law enforcement matters. That Gates is Obama’s friend makes it even worse. It’s perfectly right for a president to express confidence in an embattled cabinet member, though that’s usually done right before the guy resigns. It’s an abuse of power for a president to try to influence a law enforcement matter.

In short, Obama’s intervention was more than inappropriate: it was a wrongful exercise of the power of the office he holds. According to the latest Rasmussen poll, only 26% of Americans approve of the way Obama responded to the question about Gates’ arrest. It was a “teachable moment,” but the president didn’t learn from it.

Two days after the July 22 presser, Obama defended his intervention. He said, “There are some who say that as President I shouldn't have stepped into this at all because it's a local issue. I have to tell you that that part of it I disagree with. The fact that this has become such a big issue I think is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive -- as opposed to negative -- understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio.”

Barack Obama’s political power shrank as he spoke, doubly so as he compounded the offense. Obama is a small man, as deeply shallow as Paris Hilton. But unlike the Euro pop-tart, Obama is shrinking in influence and stature at an accelerating rate.

Obama suffers from many things, not the least of which were the enormous expectations for his success. It’s not that long ago when Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said that he was, “above the country, above the world: he’s a sort of God.” As The Economist points out this week in a column entitled, “The Obama Cult”, at one time people were wearing t-shirts proclaiming Obama as “The One” and “Jesus was a community organizer.”

Underneath the glitter, there is no greatness. Barack Obama is a small man in a large and important job. He and his adulators have created a cult of personality that is already falling apart.

Obama speaks in broad terms, as presidents must, at first, before the details are managed. But Obama’s broad terms -- from the stimulus package to health care to “cap and trade” -- were never articulated, just outsourced to the liberals in Congress who have run riot. Even the House “Blue Dog” Democrats are walking away from the president’s signature initiative on health care.

Negotiations between the Blue Dogs and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) broke down on Friday with the seven Blue Dog negotiators reportedly storming out of the session saying they’d been “lied to” and that Waxman wasn’t negotiating in good faith.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), the leader of the Blue Dogs, said on Friday. “We are trying to save this bill and trying to save this party.” From whom?

Ross’s mission is to save the Democrats from Obama. He won’t succeed. The Democrats’ disarray -- in the House as well as in the Senate -- betrays Obama’s diminishing influence. But the hyperliberals such as Waxman and Pelosi won’t moderate the way Congress pursues Obama’s goals because those goals were theirs long before Obama was elected president. And he will sign any health care bill they send to him, no matter how radical or costly.

As Obama shrinks, so does his ability to affect events both domestically and internationally. His agenda -- especially health care nationalization and “cap and tax” -- is in real trouble. And so are our nation and our allies abroad.

On the July 26 edition of “Meet the Press,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons “futile” and said to Iran, “…we're going to do everything we can to prevent you from ever getting a nuclear weapon.” Which contradicted directly Obama’s June 4 Cairo speech. In it, he said, “I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons.” Obama green-lighted Iran’s nuclear weapons program, so no one in Iran will -- or should -- take Clinton’s words seriously.

As I write, a parade of top-ranking U.S. officials -- including Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, Defense Secretary Bob Gates and possibly National Security Advisor James Jones -- are flocking to Israel to try heal the breach between us and the Israelis over Obama’s demands to end West Bank Settlements and to stave off an Israeli attack on Iran. They will not succeed because Obama -- in his Cairo speech and in his demands of Israel -- threw away what little leverage he had.

Great presidents are like chess players: they see three or four moves ahead, sacrificing occasionally but moving only to better our nation’s internal strength and position in the world. Barack Obama is playing checkers.

The Great Global Warming Swindle - Part 3 of 8

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rundown on Mainstreet

AP INVESTIGATION: Main Street's soaring sour loans

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – As the effects of the economic collapse began pouring down Main Street, the government last year was left holding a record $2.1 billion in write-offs of small business loans it had guaranteed. Officials expect the number of defaults to rise as the nation continues to climb out of the recession.

Records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act show the public is paying to offset bank losses on small business loans across the country, from a convenience store in the tiny Canadian border town of Houlton, Maine, to a graphic arts design company on the island of Hawaii, more than 5,000 miles away.

Despite having loans written off, little companies such as Caffe Sportivo, an espresso shop and small gym in Redwood City, Calif., are barely scraping by.

"I just couldn't make any payments. I was barely making rent or payroll," owner Chris Sakelarios said on a recent afternoon when her cafe stood empty except for two patrons who read as they sipped coffee. "The same as everyone else. We're in a hovering pattern."

It's a sign that even as record profits re-emerge on Wall Street, thanks to massive government loans and guarantees for banks deemed too big to fail, the pain on Main Street is as profound as it's been in half a century. The companies that were not too big to fail are failing.

Their plight is a shift from previous recessions when small business bounced back ahead of big employers, said Todd McCracken, president of the lobby group National Small Business Association.

"This could be the first economic recovery we've seen in a long time that hits small business the hardest the longest," he said.

The Small Business Administration purchased $2.1 billion in bad loans from lenders last year. Agency officials say it's likely that this year will see another high as the recession nears the two-year mark.

"It's frustrating when (banks) are getting bailed out for bad decisions they made, that there isn't more assistance for the small business," said Eric Geedey, who manages Caffe Sportivo for Sakelarios.

Sakelarios obtained a $20,000 SBA loan from Union Bank in late 2007 to start her business when the economic outlook was brighter on the affluent San Francisco Peninsula. Within a year, however, she was scraping by with the help of a landlord and vendors who let her adjust payments. She has reduced the hours of her seven employees and relies on her brother and a friend to help keep the doors open on weekends. The balance of the loan was written off in early January.

In addition to being dogged by bad credit, the cafe will have to report the loan charge-off as taxable income, Geedey said.

Sakelarios isn't the only recession victim and she won't be the last.

SBA loan defaults generally occur in two stages. The first is when the bank decides it won't get its money back and asks the government for the guaranteed portion of the loan. In the second, the government decides it won't get any more collateral or money from the borrower.

Years can elapse between the time that the borrower stops paying and the government writes off the loan.

In 2008, for example, the government concluded it wouldn't be able to recover $1.3 billion in defaulted bank loans it had guaranteed. Many loans were part of a backlog, according to SBA officials.

But an AP analysis found that the time between loan approvals and loan defaults is narrowing. According to the analysis:

_More than $235 million in restaurant loans have been charged off since 2007. The 2,586 restaurant charge-offs make up the largest number of defaulted loans, according to the SBA. More than 150 loans made to Quiznos franchises — worth nearly $15.5 million — have been written off since 2007.

_The Gulf Coast fishing industry, battered by two major hurricanes in 2005, has been hit especially hard. Half of the 10 cities with the highest industry-specific write-offs are in Biloxi, Miss.; New Orleans; Ocean Springs, Miss.; Lafayette, La.; and Abbeville, La. All told, the shellfish fishing industry had 45 loans charged off, at a total cost of $19.5 million.

_The banks making the loans have also been hit hard by the recession. Bank of America Corp., which has received $52.5 billion in government aid, has had nearly 7,000 loans worth $238 million charged off since 2007. More than 660 loans worth $174 million have been charged off by CIT Group Inc., a major commercial lender forced to turn to bondholders in an effort to try to avoid bankruptcy protection after the government refused to save the company.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., which repaid $25 billion in taxpayer loans last month, has written off nearly 2,300 loans worth $117 million.

"I have never seen it as rough as it is right now," said Scott Hauge, president of Small Business California, a business advocacy group.

Small businesses account for half of all private-sector workers and have created roughly half of the nation's jobs over the past decade. They received some help from the $787 billion federal stimulus package in February, including higher microlending amounts and federal loan guarantees. Congress also authorized the U.S. Treasury to purchase $15 billion in pooled loans to encourage lenders to provide money to small companies. The SBA recently announced it will guarantee short-term bank loans to help small businesses pay off existing bills.

The White House has floated a proposal to take money from a $700 billion bailout of the financial system and provide small companies with working capital, allowing them to add inventory and employees. If it happens, the White House said, help might arrive by fall.

That's too late for thousands of defunct companies with shuttered windows, disconnected phones and broken dreams.

Diego Garcia's soccer supply store in the modest Northern California city of Richmond has shrunk to one small location after Garcia was forced to close his two larger stores last year. Garcia started the business after launching a youth program and soccer league in gang-ridden Richmond. He had turned away from his own gang lifestyle after being shot in the chest at age 18.

Garcia expanded fast, never imagining how quickly his booming business would decline. When he couldn't pay up, his bank wrote off nearly all of his $45,000 loan. He lost rental property to foreclosure at the same time.

"It's too much of a loss," he said. "We had to get loans to get bigger. Then everything went the opposite way."

Eric Zarnikow, SBA's associate administrator for capital access, said the bad numbers probably will continue to rise as the agency receives charged-off loans in the future from defaults occurring now.

Sakelarios, a breast cancer survivor without health insurance, tries to stay optimistic.

"Anytime anyone asks me how it's going, I say the same thing. It's going really good."

Lonesome Valley

The Great Global Warming Swindle - Part 1 of 8

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Government Motors Announces Rebate Program

July 25, 2009
Dealers see dollars in Treasure Valley clunkers
A federal rebate is bringing back customers after car sellers endured a spell of sagging sales


A federal rebate is bringing back customers after car sellers endured a spell of sagging sales Vicki Duckett put herself behind the wheel of a new car Friday, and a $4,500 rebate from the federal government helped get her there.

Duckett, of Boise, took home a 2009 Hyundai Sonata, which gets about 25 miles a gallon, while giving up her 1993 Mazda Navajo, which she says gets only 13 miles a gallon.

"It's a huge gas savings," said Duckett, who is buying from Bronco Motors in Boise. "It kind of all worked out for us."

Duckett is among the Idahoans taking advantage of the federal government's Car Allowance Rebate System - dubbed "cash for clunkers" - which gives new car buyers up to $4,500 off qualified vehicles if they trade in their gas-guzzling older models. Dealers get a small fee for handling the clunkers, which will be subject to strict salvage rules that ensure the engines will be destroyed.

Dealers began registering Friday with the federal government to qualify for the program. The government Web site collapsed under the pressure of too many people trying to sign on at the same time, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman said.

New-car dealers, which have seen anemic sales for much of the past year, think the clunkers rebate could increase business up to 20 percent. Used-car dealers think the rebate could raise the prices of older models as vehicles that otherwise might have gone to their lots go to salvage instead. And iSuppli Corp., which follows the auto tech market, worries that the bump in sales today could steal from sales later, when the country begins to emerge from the recession.

Some dealers laud the program for putting real money in the hands of consumers.

"It will help the producers, American consumers and employment," said D.J. Wiebold, general manager of Dan Wiebold Ford in Nampa.

By Friday afternoon, Wiebold already had 10 customers ready to buy new cars and dump their old ones. Grant Petersen Jr., president and CEO of Bronco Motors, which sells Nissans and Hyundais, had 25 potential sales lined up.

Petersen said his dealership has been making conditional sales with customers who have qualifying vehicles and the right paperwork for the program. They can take home new cars while Bronco Motors awaits word on its expected certification to be a part of the federal program. Wiebold is taking deposits on cars that people hope to get under the program.

While the government hopes to take about 250,000 old cars off the road, not every old vehicle qualifies.

Most vehicles must be from the 1984 model year or newer. Nathan Herren's 1978 F150 Ford pickup is too old. He jokes that his truck gets 10 miles to the gallon on a "good, mostly downhill travel day."

If the truck qualified, it might have headed to the boneyard. "$4,500 is nothing to sneeze at," said Herren, who lives near Eagle. "That is way better than even a down payment."

Cash for clunkers, however, did get Duckett out of her normal shopping place for vehicles: used-car lots. Between the government rebate and dealer incentives, she figures she has saved about $8,000 on the cost of her new car.

"I can see how this is an effective part of the stimulus," she said.

Used-car customers seem to be a main target for the rebate, Wiebold said. Wiebold is offering a 2009 Ford Focus for $8,995, about $7,000 off the retail price with the government rebate and other incentives. "You can't buy a used Focus for that," he said.

Used-car dealers aren't sure how the rebate for new cars will affect them. Petersen thinks older-model used cars will hold their value "because the supply is going to go away." But for people looking for that $2,000 used car that will drive until it drops, the hunt may take longer than usual. "Those cars are not going to be easy to find," Petersen said.

Duckett plans to have her new car any day. She's pleased with her deal.

"I love this," she said. "My car is only worth about $1,000."

What have we come to?

Before you get all indignant, remember that the US economy is in a "whirled of hurt" and it needs all the stimulus it can get. What's $4500 per clunker in the grand scope of things? Besides, doncha' remember? It's Government Motors now, so they can run the rebates. Only this time, they get to dictate terms and conditions and this deal is "oh so green". Think of what this does for Mother Nature; all those old inefficient engines, forever destroyed. Believe it or not this will make cap and trade more palatable too as we'll have fewer hydro-carbons to mitigate. Oh what a win-win situation. Thank you, Obama.

It's a good thing that most of those trade-ins will have no collectible value because there won't be many numbers matching old cars in the future. We could see more resto-mods, ala Cuba, where everyday is a car show. Future resto mods willl have electric motors or rice rocket fours and sixes so you can forget about the throaty sound of a big V8. That's a small sacrifice.

Don't even think about the fact that Uncle Sam has become Aunt Samantha and is now trying to dole out the money as fast as her minions in Washington can print it. Evidently, this crew in D.C. feel that it's all or nothing. Forget about the trillion dollar deficits, ignore the mounting debt.

Come on down to Government Motors
where we have a $4500 check with your name on it.
While you're here, don't forget to ask about our weatherization program or our Universal Health Care plan.

Aunt Samantha* has you covered from cradle to grave.
*A division of Socialists International

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Elephant Bar Shooting leaves 6 wounded

Shooting at Elephant Bar leaves 6 wounded

Anywhere USA – Gunfire coming from the Elephant Bar wounded six preachers and scattered the crowd at a community rally. Police on Thursday are investigating whether atheist or deist gang was behind the shooting.

People were gathered at the event that included a rapper's performance when shots sprayed out. The sound of gunfire made people drop to the pavement of the parking lot where the rally was being held to promote community service and voter registration. Police sources say that the shooter may belong to an atheist or deist gang.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crime Report: Madness and Desperation

Crime has noticeably been on the rise in my little slice of America lately. All kinds; from petty crime to capital offenses. Just this week, an 82 year old used his 357 to deep six an intruder. Also this week a local woman was held at gunpoint by a bereaved widower whom she had befriended on Facebook.

Recently a coworker was at the grocery store about 7:00 PM when he heard a woman cry out and saw a three hundred pound woman "running away". It seems the plus size girl had grabbed the purse of another woman. My friend ran her down just as she was getting into her car. He grabbed the purse out of the car as the thief drove away.

Especially disturbing is the recent rash of murders and killing sprees which have occurred. Five people killed in South Carolina, three or more victims in a spree across Tennessee and Alabama. A prominent citizen and his wife murdered in their Pensacola home. Madness is breaking out,

Some good news is being reported. They've caught the "limping bandit" who is suspected in 23 bank robberies across the southeastern United States.

As bad as it may be here though, our neighbor to the south has it even worse: Mexico Gunmen attack Police Bases. This is a story from the first of July.
Mexico gunmen attack police bases

Gunmen have launched a string of attacks on federal police bases in Mexico, killing five people.

At least six cities were hit - all in the western Michoacan state, a stronghold of Mexico's drug cartels.

Three police officers and two soldiers are reported to have been killed when the attackers, armed with grenades and assault rifles, opened fire.

In one incident, in the state capital Morelia, 40 gunmen arrived in a convoy of vehicles to carry out the raid.

There had already been prolonged gun battles in the city on Friday, during which suspected drug boss Arnoldo Rueda - a senior member of the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel - was arrested.

The co-ordinated raids are being seen as a revenge attack for that arrest.

As well as Morelia, the cities of Apatzingan, Lazaro Cardenas, Patzcuaro, Zitacuaro and Huetamo were targeted.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon - who comes from Michoacan - has launched a major operation to try to stem the country's drug violence, deploying tens of thousands of extra troops and police officers.

Some 6,000 people died in violence related to organised crime last year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caveat Emptor

It's easy to be cynical these days despite the fact that many mutual funds have added about 40% recently. No one has a crystal ball, but I think most people haven't a clue about the extent of what has happened with the financial collapse. These days the economists remind me of astrologers. They say a lot and it sounds as if they really, really know what they're talking about but...

Laurence Meyer, a former Governor of the Federal Reserve told Bloomberg News he expects unemployment to remain at around 10% through 2010 and come down to 8.5% in 2011. More bad news in that the country will not return to full employment (5% unemployed) until 2015. Credit spreads will be higher for a "long time" which is not good news for the market. He says that a serious question is about whether the savings rate will stabilize at 4% or go dramatically higher causing a delayed recovery. Nuriel Roubini may be sounding more optimistic these days but obviously other economists have their doubts. Gary Shilling, author of Deflation, says that we are in deflation and that it will be chronic. The destruction of the economies: derivatives declined by $90 trillion, money supply declined by $25 trillion. $20 per barrel oil has been predicted by the end of the year. Shilling takes a middle ground in regard to economic growth. He sees a volatile pattern as the recession lasts into next year. He makes a distinction between good and bad deflation. Good deflation results when technology brings falling prices. Bad deflation results with a lack of demand in the economy. Shilling predicts chronic declines of overall price indices; 2 or 3 points per year.

Consumers have cut back in spending and we don't know how long that will last. Post war babies need to save and people have run out of borrowing ability. For twenty five years their spending exceeded their income growth and fueled a world wide bull market. That demand is history. Shillings says consumers are saving like no time since the Great Depression. An April spike in savings rate to 104% was due to a big tax cut, May's savings rate fell back to 90%. These rates have not been seen since the Great Depression. This lack of demand in the economy means a ten year workout similar to the Japanese situation due to what Keynes called "the paradox of thrift" Shilling predicts that a graph of the economy for the next ten years will look like a declining saw-tooth pattern.

So what do we do? I guess the prudent course of action is to take your losses and sell out now. Get liquid. Be careful and watch what you buy. Caveat Emptor. Wait for really good bargains. Gasoline could be in the $1.5 per gallon by autumn. But I could be wrong. On the other hand, if you sell your funds on upswing market, you could lose out on....Oh, what the hell, DO NOT listen to me.

Life feels a little surreal these days. It's as if every day, a man comes round yelling, "Bring out your dead, bring out your dead." Which reminds me, just what we need right now is another 1918 style flu pandemic.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Story of "O", Hope and Change nothing more than Tax and Spend

Foreclosures advance, unemployment over 10% in fifteen states, housing values shrinking, there is a real fear developing in place of hope. Change, what change? Obama and the Democrats followed the banker's lobbyists, giving $700 billion to the banks and getting nothing, absolutely nothing in return.

Desperate families, having lost their jobs, their equity, their 401k's, are sinking fast and the Democrats, party of the working common man, have done nothing, absolutely nothing of value and consequence.

Obama, the elitists, the academic, the showman has neither the fire of indignation nor the empathy of any of the old time Democrats. Democrats should be livid. They have been had by the towering bullshit artist of the ages.

Disillusion and anger rises. It will get butt ugly.


Poll Shows Obama Slipping on Key Issues
Approval Rating on Health Care Falls Below 50 Percent
By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, July 20, 2009

Heading into a critical period in the debate over health-care reform, public approval of President Obama's stewardship on the issue has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Obama's approval ratings on other front-burner issues, such as the economy and the federal budget deficit, have also slipped over the summer, as rising concern about spending and continuing worries about the economy combine to challenge his administration. Barely more than half approve of the way he is handling unemployment, which now tops 10 percent in 15 states and the District.

The president's overall approval rating remains higher than his marks on particular domestic issues, with 59 percent giving him positive reviews and 37 percent disapproving. But this is the first time in his presidency that Obama has fallen under 60 percent in Post-ABC polling, and the rating is six percentage points lower than it was a month ago.

Obama has taken on a series of major problems during his young presidency, but he faces a particularly difficult fight over his effort to encourage Congress to pass an overhaul of the nation's health-care system.

The legislation has run into problems in the House and Senate, as lawmakers struggle to contain spiraling costs and avoid ballooning the deficit.

Since April, approval of Obama's handling of health care has dropped from 57 percent to 49 percent, with disapproval rising from 29 percent to 44 percent. Obama still maintains a large advantage over congressional Republicans in terms of public trust on the issue, even as the GOP has closed the gap.

The erosion in Obama's overall rating on health care is particularly notable among political independents: While positive in their assessments of his handling of health-care reform at the 100-day mark of his presidency (53 percent approved and 30 percent disapproved), independents now are divided at 44 percent positive and 49 percent negative.

At the same time, there is no slackening in public desire for Obama to keep pressing for action on the major issues of the economy, health care and the deficit. Majorities think he is either doing the right amount or should put greater emphasis on each of these issues.

On health care, the poll, conducted by telephone Wednesday through Saturday, found that a majority of Americans (54 percent) approve of the outlines of the legislation now heading toward floor action. The measure would institute new individual and employer insurance mandates and create a government-run plan to compete with private insurers. Its costs would be paid in part through new taxes on high-income earners.

There are sharp differences in support for this basic package based on income, as well as a deep divide along party lines. Three-quarters of Democrats back the plan, as do nearly six in 10 independents. More than three-quarters of Republicans are opposed. About two-thirds of those with household incomes below $50,000 favor the plan, and a slim majority (52 percent) of those with higher incomes are against it. The income divide is even starker among independents.

Republicans have hammered the president and congressional Democrats over the cost of an health-care overhaul and its potential impact on the federal deficit, twin issues that have emerged as a possible brake on any new package.

Obama's approval rating on his handling of the deficit is down to 43 percent, as independents now tilt toward disapproval (42 percent approve; 48 percent disapprove).

More broadly, 55 percent of Americans put a higher priority on holding the deficit in check than on spending to boost the economy, compared with 40 percent who advocate additional outlays even if it means a sharply greater budget shortfall. This is a big shift from January, when a slim majority preferred to emphasize federal spending.

Independents, who split 50 percent to 46 percent for more spending in January, now break 56 percent to 41 percent for more fiscal discipline. But a larger shift has been among moderate and conservative Democrats, who prioritized more spending by about 2 to 1 in January and March. Now they are about evenly divided in approach.

Nearly a quarter of moderate and conservative Democrats (22 percent) now see Obama as an "old-style tax-and-spend Democrat," up from 4 percent in March. Among all Americans, 52 percent consider Obama a "new-style Democrat who will be careful with the public's money." That is down from 58 percent a month ago and 62 percent in March, to about where President Bill Clinton was on that question in the summer of 1993.

Concerns about the federal account balance are also reflected in views about another round of stimulus spending. In the new poll, more than six in 10 oppose spending beyond the $787 billion already allocated to boost the economy. Most Democrats support more spending; big majorities of Republicans and independents are against the idea.

Support for new spending is tempered by flagging confidence on Obama's plan for the economy. Fifty-six percent are confident that his programs will reap benefits, but that is down from 64 percent in March and from 72 percent just before he took office six months ago. More now say they have no confidence in the plan than say they are very confident it will work. Among independents and Republicans, confidence has decreased by 20 or more points; it has dropped seven points among Democrats.

Approval of Obama's handling of the overall economy stands at 52 percent, with 46 percent disapproving, and, for the first time in his presidency, more Americans strongly disapprove of his performance on the economy than strongly approve. Last month, 56 percent gave him positive marks on this issue.

More than three-quarters of all Americans say they are worried about the direction of the economy over the next few years, down only marginally since Obama's inauguration. Concerns about personal finances have also abated only moderately since January.

Obama declared ownership of the economic recovery, but the public still places far more blame on President George W. Bush's regulatory policies than on Obama's efforts for the state of the economy. But in the first read of a measurement that will be closely watched in coming years, nearly three in 10 say they are personally "not as well off" financially as they were when Obama took office.

Obama's leadership attributes remain highly rated, despite some slippage. Seven in 10 call him a strong leader, two in three say he cares about the problems of people like themselves, and just over six in 10 say he fulfilled a central campaign pledge and has brought needed change to Washington. However, he has dropped 10 points on the empathy question since April.

Obama still holds wide advantages over Republicans in Congress on the economy and the deficit, although the GOP has rebounded marginally from earlier in the year. The overall approval rating for congressional Republicans has increased six points since April, to 36 percent (compared with 47 percent approval for Democrats), and they have picked up five points vis-à-vis Obama on the deficit. They have gained seven on health care.

Beyond partisan shifts in Obama's ratings, sharp declines have occurred among those with household incomes above $50,000. And those with incomes above $50,000 now are split evenly between Obama and Republicans on dealing with health care. In June, they favored Obama by a 21-point margin.

A total of 1,001 randomly selected adults were interviewed for this poll; the margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Here was a real Democrat , who the elitists detested. Francis Lazarro "Frank" Rizzo, Sr. took care of business.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Forgotten Man of Apollo 11, Michael Collins

How Michael Collins became the forgotten astronaut of Apollo 11
As Armstrong and Aldrin took their famous walk on the moon, a third member of the team sat alone in the mothership plagued by terrors of returning to Earth alone. Robin McKie reports

The Observer, Sunday 19 July 2009

It was the secret terror that gripped astronaut Michael Collins throughout the Apollo 11 project 40 years ago. As his spacecraft, Columbia, swept over the lunar surface, Collins - the mission's third and largely forgotten crewman - waited for a call from fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to say their lander craft had successfully blasted off from the Moon.

The message would banish Collins's deepest fear: that he would be the only survivor of an Apollo 11 disaster and that he was destined to return on his own to the United States as "a marked man".

The realisation that the normally icy-cool astronaut was so obsessed by such an outcome puts a fresh perspective on the celebrations that will, this weekend, absorb the United States as it commemorates the moment, on 21 July 1969, that an American first walked on another world. Apollo 11 will be presented as a flawless technological triumph at jamborees across the nation, including a special reception at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, which all three Apollo 11 astronauts are scheduled to attend.

Yet at the time, worries that the mission would end in disaster consumed nearly all of those involved in the programme - despite their apparent calm. And no one was more stressed than Collins, it appears.

In his case, the astronaut was obsessed with the reliability of the ascent engine of Armstrong and Aldrin's lander, Eagle. It had never been fired on the Moon's surface before and many astronauts had serious doubts about its reliability. Should the engine fail to ignite, Armstrong and Aldrin would be stranded on the Moon - where they would die when their oxygen ran out. Or if it failed to burn for at least seven minutes, then the two astronauts would either crash back on to the Moon or be stranded in low orbit around it, beyond the reach of Collins in his mothership, Columbia.

All three astronauts believed there was a real chance such a disaster would occur. Armstrong thought his prospects were only 50-50 of making it back to Earth. And so did Collins, the pilot of Columbia and one of the world's most experienced aviators.

Nor were the astronauts alone. Richard Nixon, then US president, had even prepared a speech that he would deliver in the event of the Eagle's engine failing. "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace," it ran. "These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice."

Thus Collins - alone in Columbia as the world focused on Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the lunar surface - fretted about his two companions below him on the Moon and revealed, in a note written at the time, that he was now "sweating like a nervous bride" as he waited to hear from the Eagle.

"My secret terror for the last six months has been leaving them on the Moon and returning to Earth alone; now I am within minutes of finding out the truth of the matter," he wrote. "If they fail to rise from the surface, or crash back into it, I am not going to commit suicide; I am coming home, forthwith, but I will be a marked man for life and I know it."

Then Armstrong and Aldrin prepared their lander for its launch. Armstrong pressed the engine's firing button and Eagle soared perfectly above the lunar surface towards the waiting Collins. His worst fear had not materialised and he returned safely to Earth in the company of Armstrong and Aldrin, unmarked by the experience. He would not suffer a fate of global notoriety.

In fact, the opposite happened. Collins was forgotten. Today most people still know the names of the two first men on the Moon and recall the words, delivered by Armstrong, about taking a giant leap for mankind. But the name Michael Collins is rarely recalled, despite his critical role in the historic flight of Apollo 11. Not that he holds grudges. "It was an honour," he said last week.

In fact, he was - in many ways - the unsung hero of the Apollo 11 mission, a point that was underlined at the time by the great American aviator Charles Lindbergh. He wrote to Collins, not long after his safe return, to tell him that his part of the mission was one of "greater profundity ... you have experienced an aloneness unknown to man before".

It is an intriguing remark and an apposite one, it turns out - a point that can be appreciated by looking at the very set-up of the mission. Apollo 11 consisted of a spindly lunar lander, Eagle, and an orbiting mothership, Columbia, that were both blasted into space on a giant Saturn V rocket on 16 July 1969. For three days, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins cruised towards the Moon inside Columbia and spent their time gazing "out the window at the Earth getting smaller and smaller and checking the spacecraft", according to Aldrin.

Then, on 20 July, Armstrong and Aldrin crawled into Eagle and flew it down to the Moon's surface. "Keep talking to me, guys," radioed an initially panicky Collins as the pair drifted away from his ship.

Minutes later, Columbia swept behind the Moon and Collins became Earth's most distant solo traveller, separated from the rest of humanity by 250,000 miles of space and by the bulk of the Moon, which blocked all radio transmissions to and from mission control. He was out of sight and out of contact with his home planet.

"I am now truly alone and absolutely alone from any known life. I am it," he wrote in his capsule. Lindbergh's remarks were certainly accurate.

Such solitude would have unnerved most people. But not Collins. He says the emotion that he experienced most during his day alone in lunar orbit was that of exultation. And certainly he appears to have relished his time as the loneliest member of his species. He also emerged from the post-Apollo years relatively unscathed. Aldrin lapsed into alcoholism and depression, while Armstrong became a virtual recluse. Both men subsequently divorced. By contrast, Collins - shaded from the glare of publicity - has avoided such personal traumas and is still with his wife, Patricia, whom he married in 1958. The couple have three grown-up children.

Collins was born in Rome on 31 October 1930. His father, Major-General James Lawton Collins, was then serving overseas with the US army. Collins later graduated from West Point and joined the US air force. An early assignment was to the 21st Fighter-Bomber Wing at George Air Force Base, where he learned how to drop nuclear weapons. He joined the astronaut corps in 1962 and flew on one of America's two-man Gemini capsules with veteran astronaut John Young, who flew on a later Apollo mission. Then came his selection for Apollo 11.

After his return to Earth, Collins gave up space travel and pursued a career in bureaucracy and business. He was director of the National Air and Space Museum until 1978, before being appointed vice-president of LTV Aerospace in Arlington, Virginia. He resigned in 1985 to start his own business.

Today he remains cheerful about his role on Apollo 11, although he describes himself as becoming increasingly grumpy. "At age 78, some things about current society irritate me, such as the adulation of celebrities and inflation of heroism," he said last week. Neither description fits him, he added. "Heroes abound, but don't count astronauts among them. We worked very hard, we did our jobs to near perfection, but that is what we had been hired to do."

He describes himself today as moderately busy, "running, biking, swimming, fishing, painting, cooking, reading, worrying about the stock market and searching for a really good bottle of cabernet for under $10".

As to his claim to fame, that was simple fate, he added. "Neil Armstrong was born in 1930. Buzz Aldrin was born in 1930, and Mike Collins, 1930. We came along at exactly the right time. We survived hazardous careers and were successful in them.

"But in my own case at least, it was 10% shrewd planning and 90% blind luck. Put Lucky on my tombstone."

Hey, they were fighter pilots, not poets.

US soldier captured by Taliban speaks

The video is not a continuous recording. It appears to stop and start during the questioning.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Suspend Your Credulity All Who Enter Here

ht: Doug or someone (Seems like I saw this reference somewhere in the last few days...whit)

Speaking of cramdowns; Why would anyone want to cram this kind of system down our throats? Underfunded, understaffed, underpaid employees and Physicians. Long waits, rationing through delays and bureaucratic shuffling which serves to frustrate the patient into giving up on getting medical attention.

Obama says that you can keep your current insurance if you prefer it to his plan but talk radio has been referring to page 16 of the plan where Insurance companies are prohibited from writing new policies. That sounds like a deathknell for the private insurers who survive the mass exodus of business switching over the Government plan.

I realize that we have no utopia here in the US but why would anyone think that the current bunch in DC will be able to craft a better system by August of this year or any year? As Hillary said, one would have to suspend credulity to believe that. Unfortunately, too many already have.

People get the leaders they deserve.

Dongfan "Greg" Chung, convicted spy and China's fortune

Video predates the trial but good background info.

Boeing engineer passed secrets to China
• 20 years' jail likely for economic espionage
• Trial shows increasing protection for US interests

Ed Pilkington, Friday 17 July 2009 19.40 BST

A former Boeing engineer accused of passing trade secrets to the Chinese government for more than 30 years has been found guilty in the first big economic espionage trial in America.

The conviction of Dongfan "Greg" Chung marks a stepping up of US attempts to protect commercial and national security interests against overseas spies. After a 10-day trial in Santa Ana, California, the judge, acting without a jury, found Chung guilty of six counts of economic espionage, as well as acting as a foreign agent and making false statements to the FBI.

Prosecutors presented evidence of contact between Chung and the Chinese aviation industry dating back to 1979, six years after he joined Rockwell International, an aerospace company taken over by Boeing in 1996. He was arrested in 2006 after federal agents searched his home and found more than 300,000 pages of documents relating to development of the space shuttle, the fuelling system for the Delta IV rocket, and several jewels in Boeing's crown including the F-15 fighter, B-52 bomber and Chinook helicopter.

One letter found at his house dating from 1987 from a Chinese official said: "It is your honour and China's fortune that you are able to realise your wish of dedicating yourselves to the services of your country."

The judge, Cormac Carney, wrote in a 31-page verdict that "the trust Boeing placed in Mr Chung to safeguard its proprietary and trade secret information obviously meant very little to Mr Chung. He cast it aside to serve the PRC [People's Republic of China], which he proudly proclaimed to be his 'motherland'."

The conviction highlights the peculiar nature of the US-Chinese relationship. On one hand, the US is increasingly dependent on Chinese loans to prop up a deficit which last week rose above $1 trillion (£612bn). On the other, US companies are increasingly concerned about Chinese commercial spying. As the world's engine room of research and development, the US is vulnerable to espionage, especially in the technology-rich aerospace and military industries, telecommunications, cars and pharmaceuticals.

The Economic Espionage Act, passed in 1996, made spying on private companies a federal crime punishable by lengthy prison sentences and fines of up to $10m. At the time, Louis Freeh, then director of the FBI, warned that "economic espionage is the greatest threat to our national security since the cold war".

The 9/11 attacks changed the landscape of national security, pushing economic spying to the sidelines. But for US companies it remains a very real drain.

Steven Fink, president of the corporate crisis management company Lexicon Communications and author of Sticky Fingers: Managing the Global Risk of Economic Espionage, said that all countries engage in such spying, but the Asian region was predominant, with China the main perpetrator. There had been prosecutions under the 1996 law, but the American legal system was "woefully inadequate faced with the theft of trade secrets from American businesses".

The Chinese government says it is also a victim of economic spies. As global economic strife puts businesses and governments under pressure, tit for tat accusations are starting to mount. In the latest case, Beijing has accused the Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto of bribery and arrested one Australian and three Chinese employees.

Chung faces more than 90 years in prison when he is sentenced on 9 November, although the US government is expected to recommend the minimum sentence of up to 20 years.

Chung, 73, was born in China and moved to Taiwan and then the US in 1962. He became a naturalised US citizen and spent 40 years working for Boeing and related companies.His high-level security clearance lasted from 1973 to 2002.

The FBI became interested in him in 2006 after the arrest of Chi Mak, an engineer in L-3 Communications, a hi-tech surveillance equipment firm. Last year, Mak, who Chung had been using as a conduit to Chinese officials, was jailed for 24 years for passing on military secrets.

Rocket Men, Americans, 1969, Any Questions?

Commander - Neil Armstrong.
Command Module Pilot - Michael Collins.
Lunar Module Pilot - Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin.

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."
-President John F. Kennedy
joint session of Congress May 25, 1961


July 16, 1969 at 13:32 UTC, Apollo11 was launched. It entered orbit 12 minutes later. About 30 minutes later the command service module pair separated from this last remaining Saturn V stage and docked with the lunar module. After the lunar module was extracted, the combined spacecraft headed for the Moon, while the third stage booster was directed toward the Sun. America was on the way to the moon.

On July 19 Apollo 11 passed behind the Moon and fired its service propulsion engine to enter lunar orbit. On Monday it will be 40 years. Repeat, forty years.

Friday, July 17, 2009

CIT and the Economic Ignorance of the Obama Administration

Nothing demonstrates to this writer the depth of real world ignorance of the academics running the Obama Administration than CIT. The media is almost as bad as none of them has a clue about how an old line factor even works. I heard Senator John Sununu pontificating about the market and the thousand of local banks that do account receivable financing who will supposedly step in and do what CIT seems to be failing at. I heard some other geniuses saying that CIT just did not get it done. Bullshit on both counts. CIT is the canary in the coal mine.

CIT is one of the last of a breed. Factoring is the buying of a receivable the day it is created by a wholesaler or manufacturer. A factor can advance 80%, 90%t or 150% on a receivable accelerating the cash flow of a company. A local bank can provide receivable financing but that is not factoring. The bank takes the receivable as collateral, a factor buys the receivable. When a customer of a "factored" company receives an invoice, the invoice tells him that he owes the money to the factor and not the manufacturer or seller of the goods.

You see, CIT is not just a bank to the thousands of job creating small businesses that it serves, it is their credit department. It is their accounts receivable department. It controls the arteries of commerce in some businesses, especially to retailers. CIT determines which department stores get approved for credit in the goods that they purchase and receive. Let me give you an example.

Suppose a furniture manufacturer, if there are any left, in North Carolina wants to sell patio furniture to Wal-Mart. Manufacturing is a year round operation, selling it is not. Big department stores get to be big , not because they pay promptly, but because they don't. They pay on time but on their stated terms, not the manufacturers. They work off of their suppliers working capital.

A factor sits down with a manufacturer, examines their business plan and the credit worthiness of the manufacturer's customers and creates a financial plan to finance the manufacturing cycle and take care of the credit decisions for the company. Once a company is factored, the company sells the invoice to the factor when the goods are shipped, and the burden of collection shifts to the factor. Credit losses now belong to the factor. No local bank does anything remotely related to factoring.

CIT is a huge reserve of knowledge and experience of the retail trade in the US. Those retailers depend on the credit decisions made by CIT on their ability to get suppliers to ship to them. The suppliers depend on CIT to provide the financing. The customer list of a factored company is almost more important than their financial sheets.

CIT is more important to the US economy than Chrysler. It takes months for a company to get set up with a factor, years to establish a relationship. It is a tough business at the best of times. Criticizing CIT for getting in trouble durning this crisis is like assigning blame to fire fighters for going into burning buildings. That is what they do.

Let this one go down at your own peril.

When asked about CIT, White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters that President Barack Obama had set high standards for granting aid to companies. "A lot of that had to do with whether or not they could show themselves to be sustainable in the long term," Burton said.

Got it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

You were against Cramdown for troubled loans and guess what? You are the one crammed down.

How did that happen you ask? Simple, the falling price of housing exasperated sales of housing, because everyone figured it would keep falling. Construction stopped. Unemployment rose. Joblessness increased and housing prices kept falling, all prices, all housing with or without a mortgage. Local tax receipts went down, federal deficits increased, joblessness ratcheted up and housing prices further declined.

You drank the Koolaid served up by the banking lobby. Don't let them have to face the reality and adjust their loans to real value. No, you gave the bankers a war chest to continue their interests and maintain the myth of their solvency. They will be fine. You however have had your wealth crammed down, your home, your 401k, your stocks and probably the value of cash.

You let the banks make their problem your problem with the help of your masters and rulers. Sweet. Keep on foreclosing on the bums.


Foreclosures up despite moratorium and legislative efforts

By MarketWatch

TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) -- U.S. properties in the process of foreclosure in the second quarter rose to a record quarterly level of nearly 890,000, RealtyTrac reported on Thursday.

The total is up 11% from the first quarter and 20% from the year-earlier period, the Irvine, Calif., online marketplace and research firm reported.

In June, properties in foreclosure totaled 336,000, exceeding 300,000 for a fourth month and driving the second-quarter total to the highest level since RealtyTrac began its survey in the first quarter of 2005.

As of June 30, nearly 1.53 million U.S. properties were subject to a default notice, auction-sale notice, or bank repossession, RealtyTrac reported.

Nearly 1.2% of all U.S. housing units -- 1 in 84 -- were subject to a foreclosure filing in the first half, RealtyTrac reported.

Despite an industrywide moratorium on foreclosures earlier this year plus legislative action and more efforts by lenders to modify the terms of mortgages, "foreclosure activity continues to increase to record levels," RealtyTrac Chief Executive James J. Saccacio said in a statement.

People who've lost jobs "account for much" of the increase, and borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth represent a significant risk going forward, he said.

"Stemming the tide of foreclosures is a critical component to stabilizing the housing market," and lenders and the government must find new approaches to the issue, the executive said.

In the first half of 2009, properties in foreclosure rose 9% from second-half 2008 and 15% from the year-earlier period, RealtyTrac reported.

Nevada was the state with the highest first-half foreclosure rate, 1 in every 16 housing units, RealtyTrac reported. Foreclosed properties totaled more than 68,700, up 23% from second-half 2008 and up 61% from first-half 2008.

Arizona was second, with 1 in every 30 properties in foreclosure, and Florida was third, with 1 in 33, RealtyTrac reported.

In absolute numbers, California was No. 1, with more than 391,600 properties subject to a foreclosure filing. That's 1 in every 34 of the state's housing units, which is the fourth-highest rate among the states. The total was up 14% from second-half 2008 and up 15% from first-half 2008.

Florida was second, with more than 268,000 properties, and Arizona was third, with nearly 90,000.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama throws girlie pitch on economy, "Give it to me!" he says.

Obama's opening pitch was not inspiring. At the two minute mark on the video, you will see that Obama barely made the plate. Obama's attempts at getting the economy moving is not doing much for the home team either. Jim Kuhnhenn argues that the economy now belongs to Obama:

Analysis: Obama takes possession of economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — With four simple words — "Give it to me!" — President Barack Obama took possession of the economy.

For months, the White House and Obama's economic team have laid the economic crisis at the feet of President George W. Bush. But there comes a point in a presidency when inheritance becomes ownership. Obama made that pivot Tuesday in Michigan, the state suffering the worst unemployment in the nation.

"I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, 'Well, this is Obama's economy,'" the president said in a pointed deviation from his prepared text. "That's fine. Give it to me!"

It was a defiant moment, reminiscent of Bush's own "Bring 'em on!" taunt in 2003 to militants in Iraq.
Like Bush's brash challenge, Obama's could haunt him, too. It's a calculated risk that confronts his critics head-on and casts him as an activist, on-the-job president.

"My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and harp and gripe," he said Tuesday, his sleeves rolled up, barely disguising his targets as congressional Republicans.

Still, most economists and Obama's own advisers foresee a slow economic recovery. The president himself conceded Tuesday that unemployment, already at a 26-year high, will likely "tick up for several months." Republicans see the economy as Obama's Achilles' heel come next year's elections, and they have found a political vulnerability in the continued rise in unemployment despite a $787 billion economic stimulus that Obama pushed through Congress in February.

In choosing Michigan to attach his name to the economy, Obama picked a state whose 14.1 percent unemployment rate could linger as evidence of policy failure. As home to the U.S. auto industry, it could also stand as a symbol of one of his first economic successes. Both General Motors and Chrysler have emerged in surprisingly swift fashion from bankruptcy protection proceedings that were imposed by the Obama administration.

"Remember, folks said there was no way they could do it?" Obama told his audience in hard-hit Warren, Mich. "They've gotten it done already, in record time, far faster than anybody thought possible."

After a week spent overseas, the feisty, confrontational approach aims to regain the agenda from his critics. In one bold step this week, the Obama administration singled out Sen. Jon Kyl, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, for calling for an end to economic stimulus spending. Using Obama's Cabinet members as muscle, the White House on Tuesday made public letters from four department secretaries listing transportation, housing, Indian education and other projects in Kyl's home state that they said would be eliminated if the senator had his way. The letter was addressed to Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer.

At the same time, Obama is appealing for patience. In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday and in a newspaper opinion piece, Obama argued that the stimulus program was designed as a two-year plan and that it had already halted the economic free fall. It hasn't helped Obama, however, that the jobless rate now stands at 9.5 percent, even though his economic team initially predicted that the stimulus would prevent unemployment from going higher than 8 percent.

Obama and his advisers say the recession turned out to be worse than anticipated when they made that forecast in January. Still, 2 million jobs have been lost since Congress passed the stimulus package.

"I want the president's economic stimulus to work, but guess what? It's not happening right now," Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., said Tuesday, voicing a common GOP refrain. "I don't even think we have Wendy's jobs anymore. Where's the beef? Where's the jobs?"

Obama's unflinching embrace of his economic policies means he now is responsible for their consequences. If the free fall is now in check, as he claims, then the economy can no longer be Bush's legacy alone.

What's more, even amid indicators that show the economic plunge is slowing, unemployment in recent recessions has been slow to recover as quickly as the rest of the economy. And jobs are the clearest yardstick by which the public measures success. For Obama and his fellow Democrats, the danger lies in unemployment rates that remain high in time for next year's congressional elections, or in a slow recovery that peters out and leads back into a recession.

Obama has already taken ownership of the nation's foreign policy. In March, he announced a new approach in Afghanistan that included sending an additional 17,000 combat troops. Marines have just kicked off an offensive in Taliban strongholds in the south of the country. And two weeks ago, American troops in Iraq handed over security urban areas to Iraqi security forces, the first step toward meeting Obama's pledge to end an unpopular war.

Now, just days shy of the symbolic six-month anniversary of his presidency, Obama has laid claim to the full measure of the job. When it comes to the economy, no one — certainly not his Republican critics — is going to keep him from taking it.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ Jim Kuhnhenn covers economics and politics for The Associated Press.

Just for the record.