Friday, February 20, 2009

The Obama Love Fest Falters

If some of toady's headlines are an indicator, it would appear the that the slobbering love affair with Obama is over and, for some, the honeymoon has abruptly come to an end:

Clinton to Obama: Show us the Hope

CNBC: 'The government is promoting bad behavior... do we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages... This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage? President Obama are you listening? How about we all stop paying our mortage! It's a moral hazard' Host calls for new 'Tea Party,' traders mock Obama plan.

CNBC Poll: Would You Join Santelli's "Chicago Tea Party?" At last count Thursday evening, 90 percent of respondents said YES.

East Valley Tribune: High School Kids Question Obama During Speech: 'I just don't believe all the things he's telling us'...

DRUDGE REPORT: 'UH-OH'..., Student wore T-shirt: 'Hitler gave great speeches, too'..., New sod laid in front of school: 'The joke is they're going to take it away when he leaves'... With signs in hand, protests await President's arrival in Mesa

NewsOK: OKC officer [wrongly] pulls man over for anti-Obama sign on vehicle

Enid News & Eagle: Seized sign: “Abort Obama, not the unborn.”

AP: Wholesale inflation takes biggest jump in 6 months



New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Rethinks the Tax: "One percent of the households that file in this city pay something like 50% of the taxes ... In the city, that's something like 40,000 people. If a handful left, any raise would make it revenue neutral. The question is what's fair. If 1% are paying 50% of the taxes, you want to make it even more?"

At Davos, Putin Mocks U.S. Over Economy, Warns Democrats Against Socialism

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Obama Mulls Mileage Tax for Drivers

Republicans and conservatives warned of high taxes and invasive government as the result of the election of Obama, even as Obama ran on a platform of lowering taxes and smart leadership.

It comes as no great surprise then, when Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells the Associated Press that the Obama administration is considering taxing drivers based on the number of miles they drive rather than on how much gasoline they burn.
“We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled,” LaHood said in an interview. “What I see this administration doing is this—thinking outside the box on how we fund our infrastructure in America.”
While gasoline taxes are simply calculated at thousands of pumps that have been inspected and certified, you can be sure of the high expense, massive size, and invasive scope of bureaucracy needed to do the same with the hundreds of millions of vehicles subject to the calculation of taxes.
The system would require all cars and trucks be equipped with global satellite positioning technology, a transponder, a clock and other equipment to record how many miles a vehicle was driven, whether it was driven on highways or secondary roads, and even whether it was driven during peak traffic periods or off-peak hours.
How would the collection of taxes by the mile be more efficient than collecting taxes at the pump?

It wouldn't be more efficient; it would however, simply allow government to have more control over us in our daily lives.

And perhaps that's the point....


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wire: Democrats Imploding Over Ethics

The Obama administration and the new Congress are quickly handing over to Republicans the same "culture of corruption" issue that Democrats used so effectively against the GOP before coming to power, the Associated Press reported in an analysis piece published Thursday.

AP says freshman Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., is only the latest embarrassment.

Senate Democrats accepted Burris because they believed what he told them: He was clean. Burris now admits he tried to raise money for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who authorities say sought to sell President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

The political mess for the Democratic Party, however, isn't Burris' conduct alone; it's the pattern that has developed so quickly over the past few months:
_The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is the subject of a House ethics investigation. It's partly focused on his fundraising practices for a college center in his name, his ownership financing of a resort property in the Dominican Republic and his financial disclosure reports.

_Federal agents raided two Pennsylvania defense contractors that were provided millions of dollars in federal funding by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

_Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges, including allegations he schemed to sell the Senate seat to the highest bidder.

_Tom Daschle, the former Senate majority leader from South Dakota, abandoned his bid to become health and human services secretary and the administration's point man on reforming health care; and Nancy Killefer stepped down from a newly created position charged with eliminating inefficient government programs.

Both Daschle and Killefer had tax problems, and Daschle also faced potential conflicts of interest related to working with health care interests.

_Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was confirmed after revealing he had tax troubles.

_Obama's initial choice for commerce secretary, Bill Richardson, stepped aside due to a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors.

_While the Senate voted overwhelmingly to confirm William Lynn as deputy defense secretary, Obama had to waive his ethics regulations to place the former defense lobbyist in charge of day-to-day operations at the Pentagon.
AP says Senate Democrats now may be trapped in their own ethics system (I have concluded, however, it is hard to be trapped in an ethics system where no ethics exist.)

In 2006, Republicans lost control of the House after Democrats effectively used a "culture of corruption" theme against them.

The final scandal broke shortly before the election, when it was revealed that then-Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican, sent sexually suggestive e-mails and text messages to teenage boys who had served as House pages.

Republican Senator Larry Craig was arrested in 2007 for tapping his right foot in an Airport restroom stall, an alleged signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.

In early July 2007, Republican Senator David Vitter's phone number was included in a published list of phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates, a company owned and run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, also known as the "D.C. Madam",

Some commentators have already lamented that they miss the days of hilarious Republican sexual hijinks, which have now been replaced by the seriously dirty Democrat cash corruption.


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The Obama Economy: Dow Crashes to Lowest Close in 6 Years

An important psychological barrier gave way on Wall Street Thursday as the Dow Jones industrials fell to their lowest level in more than six years, AP reported.

More troubling and less reported, however, the the 2000 point decline in the Dow just since election day, November 4, 2008.

Today, the Dow broke through a bottom reached in November, pulled down by a steep drop in key financial shares. It was the lowest close for the Dow since Oct. 9, 2002, when the last bear market bottomed out.

AP reported that the market's inability to rally signals that investors see no immediate end for the recession. Investors also haven't been impressed with two major economic initiatives from the Obama administration this week: an economic stimulus package and a mortgage relief plan.


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The "President" Word Replaces the "N" Word


The clip speaks for itself....

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Obama Bias? 6 Reporters Take Jobs in New Govt.

In three months since Election Day, at least a half-dozen prominent journalists have taken jobs working for the federal government, the Politico reported Wednesday.
Journalists, including some of those who’ve jumped ship, say it’s better to have a solid job in government than a shaky job — or none at all — in an industry that’s fading fast.

But conservative critics answer with a question: Would journalists be making the same career choices if John McCain had beaten Barack Obama in November?

“Obama bails out more media water-carriers,” conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote upon hearing that the Chicago Tribune’s Jill Zuckman is taking a job with the Obama administration.
Both the Weekly Standard and the National Review are pointing to a 'revolving door" that spins between the media and the Obama administration.

Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, acknowledges that financial troubles may be forcing reporters out of newsrooms, he thinks it’s worth noting where they’re going.
“When some leave journalism because of a reduction in staff, what’s the natural landing spot?” The Obama administration,” Bozell charged.
Here's the list:

- Chicago Tribune’s Jill Zuckman took a job with the Obama administration.

- Cox’s Scott Shepard joined Sen. John Kerry’s office as a speechwriter.

- Time’s Washington bureau chief Jay Carney became Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director.

- The Washington Post’s Warren Bass went to work for Dr. Susan Rice at the United Nations.

- The Politico's Daniel W. Reilly became communications director for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

- Linda Douglass left the National Journal for the Obama campaign back in May and is expected to become assistant secretary for public affairs in the department of Health and Human Services.

Some media watchdogs point to the grim economic reality facing media outlets as the cause for the exodus. I think the premise is flawed. Perhaps the grim economic conditions facing the media are caused by the ideological hacks passing themselves off as objective reporters.


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President as Ape in Chimp Cartoon


If you stopped here because of the headline looking for the New York Post cartoon, it's OK, I have included a copy below.

The comic above is typical of liberal deceptions of our last president, George W. Bush. In fact, I ripped this one from the Democratic Underground blog, and I ran across copies of it on the Huffington Post, et al.

The cartoon below with the crazy chimp ran in the New York Post. As anyone who passed their middle school civics class would know, the cartoon is actually poking fun at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ... not the president.


Well, it has to do with two things:

First of all, Speaker Pelosi has been exhibiting some pretty crazy behavior as of late.

Secondly, and more importantly, it is because the stimulus bill referred to in the cartoon, as do all other spending bills, MUST ORIGINATE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Pelosi conducted closed-door sessions when writing the stimulus.


I wouldn't go so far as to say those who decided to protest about the cartoon are stupid, but they are engaging in the 'business' of race bating. Then again, these are probably the same folks who voted Democrat in the last election....

(NOTE: Whenever the Senate does initiate appropriations legislation, the House practice is to return it to the Senate with a blue piece of paper attached citing a constitutional infringement of House prerogatives. The practice of returning such bills and amendments to the Senate without action is known as "blue-slipping." Without House action, Senate-initiated spending legislation cannot make it into law.)

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bancorp Exec. Says Govt. Created TARP to Buy Weaker Banks, Not for Credit

"We were told to take it so that we could help Darwin synthesize the weaker banks and acquire those and put them under different leadership," he said. "We are not even allowed to mention that. ... We were supposed to say the TARP money was used for lending."
--U.S. Bancorp Chief Executive Richard Davis
There is no "A, R or P" in the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program, quipped U.S. Bancorp Chief Executive Richard Davis Tuesday morning in front of about 300 business people in Minneapolis, according to
"It's just troubled," the 50-year-old CEO said at the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans' Business Leaders Forum. The forum invites executives to discuss how business and their principles intersect.
Davis went on to say in his talk that while government officials marketed the program as a way to entice banks to lend again, TARP actually was designed to give solid banks like U.S. Bancorp some extra cash to buy weaker banks in the system. U.S. Bancorp did just that late last year when it acquired the assets of two failed banks in California, Downey Savings and Loan and PFF Bank & Trust.

"We were told to take it so that we could help Darwin synthesize the weaker banks and acquire those and put them under different leadership," he said. "We are not even allowed to mention that. ... We were supposed to say the TARP money was used for lending."

But Davis is talking about it now, he says, because he and others oppose current and future strings attached to the program. Davis didn't detail those strings, but he said he and some peers intend to voice their opinions to Washington, D.C., soon.

"Now they're punishing you for having the capital," he said, adding that he refuses to stand by and let his company become "collateral damage" in an attempt to nationalize the banks.



5 Days Later, Mainstream Media Reports NY Muslim Honor Killing

In a single example that perhaps most clearly exemplifies the decline and fall of the press in the United States, the Associated Press, five days after the fact, yesterday reported on a Muslim honor killing committed at a New York television station on February 12.
The crime drips with brutal irony: a woman decapitated, allegedly by her estranged husband, in the offices of the television network the couple founded with the hope of countering Muslim stereotypes.

Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan is accused of beheading his wife last week, days after she filed for divorce. Authorities have not discussed the role religion or culture might have played, but the slaying gave rise to speculation that it was the sort of "honor killing" more common in countries half a world away, including the couple's native Pakistan.
For no good reason, the press elected to suppress news of the murder for almost a week.

No major news wire, television or cable news network reported on the story until AP published their report yesterday.

Perhaps if editors and gatekeepers were more concerned with the timely, objective reporting of the news instead of conforming to liberal media templates, their newsrooms and workforce wouldn't be shrinking faster than the economy ... and the price a single share of New York Times stock wouldn't be $2.00 less than the price of the Sunday edition of the New York Times.


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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama White House's Missing Documents (Already)

Late Tuesday, Josh Gerstein of the Politico reported, in his first weeks in office, President Barack Obama shut down his predecessor’s system for reviewing regulations, realigned and expanded two key White House policymaking bodies and extended economic sanctions against parties to the conflict in the African nation of Cote D’Ivoire.
Despite the intense scrutiny a president gets just after the inauguration, Obama managed to take all these actions with nary a mention from the White House press corps.

The moves escaped notice because they were never announced by the White House Press Office and were never placed on the White House web site.
The moves came to light only because the official paperwork was transmitted to the Federal Register, a dense daily compendium of regulatory actions and other formal notices prepared by the National Archives. They were published there several days after the fact.
A Politico review of Federal Register issuances since Obama took office found three executive orders, one presidential memorandum, one presidential notice, and one proclamation that went unannounced by the White House.

Two of Obama actions on regulatory reform were spotted by bloggers, lobbying groups and trade publications after they emerged in the Federal Register.

There was no apparent rhyme or reason to the omissions. A proclamation Obama issued on February 2 for African-American History Month was e-mailed to the press and posted on the White House web site. But another presidential proclamation the same day for American Heart Month slipped by.

Such notices were routinely released by the White House press office during prior administrations — making their omission all the more unusual given Obama’s oft-repeated pledges of openness.
One conservative commentator recently remarked that Obama's "statements have an expiration date." This is obviously the case when it comes to the president's expired campaign promises of transparency and openness.


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The Hill: TARP Losses $86.5 Billion Since October

And you thought your 401(k) had it bad.

Tuesday, The Hill reported that the U.S. government has lost $86.5 billion in the stock market since the end of October courtesy of the Wall Street bailout, according to the nonpartisan research think tank Ethisphere.
The worst performer for the government was U.S. Bancorp; the U.S. lost $3.7 billion in the preferred stock that company gave it in exchange for an injection of $6.6 billion through the Capital Purchase Program (CPP). That’s a loss of 56.1 percent, according to Ethisphere.

On a relative basis, the government’s preferred stock in Huntington Bancshares lost 81.5 percent, or $1.1 billion. Stock in Webster Financial Corp. has lost 76.1 percent.
A few banks have done well. The best performer for the government was Morgan Stanley, as the government’s stock gained 26.3 percent, or $2.6 billion. Top performers on a relative basis include Central Valley Community Bancorp, which has gained 45.9 percent, or $3.2 million.

Ethisphere calculated the government’s losses by looking at the stocks the government received in exchange for money companies received through the CPP. It also subtracted the interest payments it estimated those banks have paid the government.


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Monday, February 16, 2009

Treasury Dept. Sued for TARP Details

The Hill reports today that a legal group is suing the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to reveal exactly how the first $350 billion of the financial services bailout was spent.
Larry Klayman and his organization, Freedom Watch, said they're concerned money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was given to investment firms on the basis of the banks' political influence. The group noted that that jobs have been lost and that stock prices haven't recovered since the bailout.

[. . .]

Klayman said he filed a lawsuit because the government hasn't responded to a request filed in December under the Freedom of Information Act.

"What Freedom Watch and our constituents would like to know is where that $350 billion disappeared to and how it was determined who would get what share, so that these individuals and companies can be held accountable and so that that there is some visibility in the system that is supposed to be acting for the American people, not against them," said Klayman in a statement.

The first $350 billion of TARP was largely spent by the Bush administration to recapitalize ailing banks. Firms that received bailout money have refused to say exactly where they spent the federal funds.

Freedom Watch also said it will file a lawsuit to press the Obama administration to detail how it will spend the remaining $350 billion in TARP money.
The Treasury Department hasn't responded to a questions about the lawsuit.

Freedom Watch isn't connected to the defunct right-leaning Freedom's Watch, which ran ads against Democratic congressional candidates before last year's election.


Freedom Watch Web site.

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7 Obama Campaign Promises Broken Passing Stimulus

Here they are in no particular order:

1. Make government open and transparent.

2. Make it “impossible” for Congressmen to slip in pork barrel projects.

3. Meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. (Even Congressional Republicans shut out.)

4. No more secrecy.

5. Public will have 5 days to look at a bill.

6. You’ll know what’s in it.

7. We will put every pork barrel project online.

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Stimulus Package Destroys Welfare Reform

Once Upon a Time in the Socialist Federation of America, Formerly Known as the United States....

Ronald Reagan started it, Bill Clinton finished it and last week Barack Obama engineered its destruction.

One of the few triumphs of American government of the past 20 years -- the sweeping welfare reform program that sent millions of claimants back to work -- has been plunged into jeopardy by billions of dollars in state handouts included in the president’s controversial economic stimulus package.
As Obama celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday with a return to his Chicago home for a private weekend with family and friends, his success in piloting a $785 billion stimulus package through Congress was being overshadowed by warnings that an unprecedented increase in welfare spending would undermine two decades of bipartisan attempts to reduce dependency on government handouts.

Robert Rector, a prominent welfare researcher who was one of the architects of Clinton's 1996 reform bill, warned last week that Obama’s stimulus plan was a “welfare spendathon” that would amount to the largest one-year increase in government handouts in American history.

Douglas Besharov, author of a big study on welfare reform, said the stimulus bill passed by Congress and the Senate in separate votes on Friday would “unravel” most of the 1996 reforms that led to a 65% reduction in welfare caseloads and prompted the British and several other governments to consider similar measures.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

WSJ: Obama's Rhetoric Is the Only 'Real' Catastrophe

Writing Friday in the Wall Street Journal, Bradley Schiller, an economics professor at the University of Nevada, says President Obama has turned fearmongering into an art form. He has repeatedly raised the specter of another Great Depression. First, he did so to win votes in the November election. He has done so again recently to sway congressional votes for his stimulus package.
In his remarks, every gloomy statistic on the economy becomes a harbinger of doom. As he tells it, today's economy is the worst since the Great Depression. Without his Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he says, the economy will fall back into that abyss and may never recover.

This fearmongering may be good politics, but it is bad history and bad economics. It is bad history because our current economic woes don't come close to those of the 1930s. At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate. Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. In the last year, the U.S. economy shed 3.4 million jobs. That's a grim statistic for sure, but represents just 2.2% of the labor force. From November 1981 to October 1982, 2.4 million jobs were lost -- fewer in number than today, but the labor force was smaller. So 1981-82 job losses totaled 2.2% of the labor force, the same as now.
Mr. Schiller points out that Job losses in the Great Depression were of an entirely different magnitude. In 1930, the economy shed 4.8% of the labor force. In 1931, 6.5%. And then in 1932, another 7.1%. Jobs were being lost at double or triple the rate of 2008-09 or 1981-82.
This was reflected in unemployment rates. The latest survey pegs U.S. unemployment at 7.6%. That's more than three percentage points below the 1982 peak (10.8%) and not even a third of the peak in 1932 (25.2%). You simply can't equate 7.6% unemployment with the Great Depression.
Mr. Schiller says other economic statistics also dispel any analogy between today's economic woes and the Great Depression. Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose in 2008, despite a bad fourth quarter. The Congressional Budget Office projects a GDP decline of 2% in 2009. That's comparable to 1982, when GDP contracted by 1.9%. It is nothing like 1930, when GDP fell by 9%, or 1931, when GDP contracted by another 8%, or 1932, when it fell yet another 13%.
Auto production last year declined by roughly 25%. That looks good compared to 1932, when production shriveled by 90%. The failure of a couple of dozen banks in 2008 just doesn't compare to over 10,000 bank failures in 1933, or even the 3,000-plus bank (Savings & Loan) failures in 1987-88. Stockholders can take some solace from the fact that the recent stock market debacle doesn't come close to the 90% devaluation of the early 1930s.

Mr. Obama's analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they're also dangerous. Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren't likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup. Beyond that, fearmongering can trigger a political stampede to embrace a "recovery" package that delivers a lot less than it promises. A more cool-headed assessment of the economy's woes might produce better policies.

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