Gate-crashing into history 0

Who or what now holds the office of President of the United States of America?

The answer to the question is itself a question mark.

David Solway asks the question and his answers are questions. Here is part of what he writes:

Who is this guy? And what does so enigmatic a figure augur for the United States and, indeed, for the future of us all? No matter what hypothesis or conviction one espouses concerning his definitive DNA, it seems fair to say that a shadow of the clandestine — or if one prefers, the inscrutable — envelops this president.

Even Obama’s most avid supporters, if they are honest, must allow that, compared to his POTUS predecessors, unambiguously little is known about his antecedents or, for example, the salient facts of his academic career — many of his records are still under seal, his college and university transcripts have not been released and, broadly speaking, his significant documentation is rather flimsy. There is not much of a paper trail here; for that matter, there is scarcely a Hansel-and-Gretel bread crumb trail. How such a man could be elected to the presidency … remains a riddle for the sphinx. …

In any event, there can be no doubt that the dossier is scanty and that this is a truly amazing deficiency. We simply do not have a clear portrait or a crisply factual biography of the president. But what we do know about his close affiliates — America-and-Jew bashing Reverend Jeremiah Wright, former PLO spokesman Rashid Khalidi, hysterical and racially divisive Cornel West, unrepentant Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, unscrupulous entrepreneur Tony Rezko — is profoundly unsettling. … [T]he asymmetric relation between what we know and what we don’t know must distress any rational person curious about so influential an actor on the current political scene.

That Louis Farrakhan, like millions of others, feels that Obama was “selected” for our times should give us further pause. On the contrary, it may not be out of place to suggest that we are now afflicted with the worst possible president at the worst possible time, with Iran darting toward the nuclear finish line, the Palestinians as intransigent as ever, the Russians moving back into the Caucasus region, negotiating with Venezuela and solidifying ties with Iran, Syria and Turkey, terrorism … on the rise and U.S. citizens increasingly at the mercy of the jihadists, China holding massive quantities of American Treasury notes, Obama considering ruinous cap-and-trade legislation at a time when the AGW consensus is collapsing, the American debt estimated to hit 100% of GDP in 2011 and its unfunded entitlement liabilities totaling over $US 100 trillion, leading to the prospect of monetary collapse. None of these critical issues have been substantially addressed by the president, except insofar as his actions in some cases, lack of action in others, have only exacerbated them. The collateral fact that we really have no valid and comprehensive notion of who exactly is leading us at this crucial historical juncture boggles the mind.

Yes, this riddle of a man, this living quandary named Barack Hussein Obama is so unlikely a president of the United States, it’s as if he has gate-crashed into history.

Al Gore and the sale of indulgences 3

In the dark ages, when Papacy held control of men’s consciences and few dared to think, one method which she practiced to supply herself with money was the sale of indulgences. The indulgence was a permission to sin and yet be free from its consequences. … Succeeding Popes and councils … argued that if they had a right to remit sins for service to the church, they had also the right to remit them for money for the church … and concluded that if they had a right to remit past sins for money, they had the same right to remit, or excuse, or grant indulgence for sins of the future. … It was the sale of these future indulgences for money which … gave rise to the Reformation movement, called Protestant, because of their protests and objections to this and other evils recognized in Papacy.

*

We do not believe that CO2 is a pollutant; that the earth is warming to any degree that should trouble us; that the planet is warmed by human activity; that a despotic world authority is needed to regulate human activity on the pretext of saving the planet from warming; that the wealth of the First World should be redistributed to the Third World; or that anybody’s wealth should be redistributed to Al Gore.

In the name of Climate Change, the new mysticism, Al Gore and his conspirators are selling indulgences. You pay them so you can carry on with living, manufacturing, traveling and so on, all the normal activities which they say is threatening Planet Earth. Ostensibly you are buying a certain amount of some Third Worlder’s CO2 ration, as determined by Al Gore and his conspirators, because you are exceeding your own ration, as determined by them. Some of what you pay will go to a Third Worlder, they say. Most of what you pay will go to Al Gore and his conspirators.

From Investor’s Business Daily:

While senators froth over Goldman Sachs and derivatives, a climate trading scheme being run out of the Chicago Climate Exchange would make Bernie Madoff blush. Its trail leads to the White House.

Lost in the recent headlines was Al Gore‘s appearance Monday in Denver at the annual meeting of the Council of Foundations, an association of the nation’s philanthropic leaders.

“Time’s running out (on climate change),” Gore told them. “We have to get our act together. You have a unique role in getting our act together.”

Gore was right that foundations will play a key role in keeping the climate scam alive as evidence of outright climate fraud grows, just as they were critical in the beginning when the Joyce Foundation in 2000 and 2001 provided the seed money to start the Chicago Climate Exchange. It started trading in 2003, and what it trades is, essentially, air. More specifically perhaps, hot air.

The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) advertises itself as “North America’s only cap-and-trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide.” Barack Obama served on the board of the Joyce Foundation from 1994 to 2002 when the CCX startup grants were issued. As president, pushing cap-and-trade is one of his highest priorities. Now isn’t that special? …

The CCX provides the mechanism in trading the very pollution permits and carbon offsets the administration’s cap-and-trade proposals would impose by government mandate.

Thanks to Fox News’ Glenn Beck, we have learned a lot about CCX, not the least of which is that its founder, Richard Sandor, says he knew Obama well back in the day when the Joyce Foundation awarded money to the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where Sandor was a research professor.

Sandor estimates that climate trading could be “a $10 trillion dollar market.” It could very well be, if cap-and-trade measures like Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer are signed into law, making energy prices skyrocket, and as companies buy and sell permits to emit those six “greenhouse” gases.

So lucrative does this market appear, it attracted the attention of London-based Generation Investment Management, which purchased a stake in CCX and is now the fifth-largest shareholder.

As we noted last year, Gore is co-founder of Generation Investment Management, which sells carbon offsets of dubious value that let rich polluters continue to pollute with a clear conscience.

Other founders include former Goldman Sachs partner David Blood, as well as Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris, also of Goldman Sachs. In 2006, CCX received a big boost when another investor bought a 10% stake on the prospect of making a great deal of money for itself. That investor was Goldman Sachs, now under the gun for selling financial instruments it knew were doomed to fail.

The actual mechanism for trading on the exchange was purchased and patented by none other than Franklin Raines, who was CEO of Fannie Mae at the time.

Raines profited handsomely to the tune of some $90 million by buying and bundling bad mortgages that led to the collapse of the American economy. …

The climate trading scheme being stitched together here will do more damage than Goldman Sachs, AIG and Fannie Mae combined. But it will bring power and money to its architects.

Getting it and getting away with it 0

Investor’s Business Daily reports that Alan Greenspan “gets it” – which should not come as a surprise considering he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years – and recaps what happened that made America and the world poorer.

Testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the former Fed chairman told some plain truths he didn’t dare utter when he headed the central bank. Most notably, Greenspan implied it was Congress’ meddling incompetence — not the Fed, or free markets, or greedy bankers — that created the financial meltdown. …

It wasn’t the Fed that caused the housing crash and financial meltdown. It was Congress and the White House.

The mess began in the 1970s when, during the Carter administration, left-wing activists attacked banks for supposed “redlining” practices that let them discriminate in making home loans.

In response, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, which gave regulators the power to force banks to lend money to “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.”

To fund all this new lending, they used two little-known government-sponsored enterprises — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — and essentially rewrote credit standards for the banks, weakening them substantially. Banks made loans, then Fannie and Freddie bought them — using borrowed money to do it.

In this environment, credit ratings no longer mattered much. Neither did having a job or a steady income. What mattered was race.

The process got supercharged in 1992, when a Democrat-led Congress pushed Fannie and Freddie to buy even more mortgages from banks that had made loans to low-income and minority buyers. In 1996, President Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development told Fannie and Freddie that 42% of their financing had to go to those with incomes below the median.

By 2000, HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development] Secretary Andrew Cuomo proudly unveiled “new regulations” to “provide $2.4 trillion in mortgages for affordable housing for 28.1 million families.” Despite subsequent efforts at reform, Democrats in Congress — led by Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank — rejected major changes to Fannie and Freddie.

We’re still paying for that today. Fannie and Freddie have gotten a blank check from the government for their losses, and still owe more than $5 trillion that they can’t pay off.

We’ve been critical of Greenspan in the past, but on this, he’s completely right. The biggest villain in the whole financial meltdown isn’t the “private sector,” as some in Congress — like Rep. Frank — have tried to claim. It’s Congress itself.

Shouldn’t those responsible, notably Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, be made to answer for the world-size wreck? What they’ve done to the economy makes Bernie Madoff’s crooked scheme look paltry.

If it’s not to find who is guilty, so that the culprits may be consigned to their just deserts, what is a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission for?

Totalitarian creep 1

Senator Chris Dodd, one of the gang still at large that caused the housing bubble and the consequent collapse of the global economy, is also answerable for the Livable Communities Act, which prescribes:

• Where you must live. – In a tightly packed urban ‘community’.

• How you must live. – For instance, how warm your house and water can be. Big Daddy can easily control this by a device fitted to your thermostat that will hold it to an approved degree. You will be monitored for cheating. Your heating in winter and cooling in summer may be switched off completely ‘to save energy’ without your being consulted or even notified. California is a pioneer in this particular leap forward.

• Where you may work. – Near enough for you to get there by walking, biking, or taking a ride on a bus if you must.

• How you may get about. – By foot, bicycle, wheelchair, scooter, skates, or bus if you must. But not by your own car. To do that is to waste fuel and spoil the atmosphere, and so to darken your soul with the worst of sins in the new religion of environmentalism: harming the environment. This will soon be not only a sin but a crime.

You can read the Livable Communities Act, number S.1619, at Thomas.loc.gov.

And you can enjoy a discussion of it by witty people who share your disgust at PajamasTV here.

Posted under Environmentalism, government, Law, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, November 22, 2009

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Encore 0

From Power Line:

One would think that at least two lessons would have been learned from the financial crisis: stop pushing loans to people who cannot or will not pay them back and stop offering loans with “flexible underwriting criteria.” Not so. The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are pushing their most audacious plan yet expanding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) which helped spark the crisis in the first place.

Read it all here.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, News, Progressivism, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, October 5, 2009

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Do not believe them 6

We may all know it, but it needs to be repeated from time to time: The great political divide is between those who favor collectivism and those who favor individual freedom.

Collectivism on a national scale is necessarily statism. Human nature being what it is – instinctively self-preserving and self-advancing – such collectivism requires compulsion, or, to use a softer word, organization: the organization of an entire nation. (At least the nation: the ultimate collectivist dream is the global collective, the organization of the whole world.) And only a government, which is to say the state, has the power to do it.

A collectivized nation is not simply one that is under the rule of a common law. To the contrary, a society in which the citizens consent to be subject equally to the abstract authority of law (a constitution, or a body of laws made by representatives answerable to their electors), is a free society.

A collectivized nation is under the rule of human organizers who exert control of the people according to their own will. It is the opposite of a free society. Such a state is, in the true meaning of the word, a tyranny.

It may be a benign tyranny; its rulers, serially or in concert, could be (in laughable theory) persons of admirable uprightness, possessed of the utmost goodwill and kindly intentions, moved by the highest ideals, inspired by the loftiest visions of human happiness, but it is nevertheless a tyranny.

And besides, what sort of person can believe he knows what’s best for everyone else? How can he be a good sort? Wouldn’t such a man (or woman – there have been tyrannous queens) have to be an insufferably arrogant know-it-all? Or the sort who doesn’t really give a damn about the effects of his orders on others just so long as he has his own way? And is there likely to be a person who really can know enough to be the best arbiter of everyone else’s fate? Or can be trusted to set the best possible direction for millions of lives? And is it conceivable that one direction can be best for everyone?

Collectivists include Socialists, Communists, Nazis, Fascists, global government idealists, the Greens, and in sum the ideologists of any form of totalitarianism, including Islam.

There are two types of collectivist states and movements:

Non-egalitarian: such as Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Salazar’s Portugal, Islam.

This type, except for Islam, has too few devotees at present to constitute an ideological threat. (Islam is an active enemy of freedom, but not only because it is collectivist, so we won’t discuss it any further here.)

Egalitarian: such as Soviet Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, Greens.

A collectivist state of the egalitarian type controls the distribution of material goods, of course. If goods are to be equally distributed, there has to be an agency doing the distributing, and that agency can only be the state. Having the monopoly of force, the state alone has the power to redistribute all property; to seize what is yours and bestow it on someone else. Maybe you worked long and hard for it, but nevertheless the state ordains that someone else who didn’t work for it has at least as much right to it as you have, in fact more. That’s the immorality of redistribution. It is called ‘social justice’. Equality of this sort is incompatible with liberty.

Millions pursue these egalitarian ideals, as ‘socialists’, ‘liberals’, ‘progressives’, or ‘greens’, despite their colossal failure wherever they’ve been tried in practice.

The attraction of an egalitarian collectivist system lies in its apparent guarantee of security. It offers you an alternative to a lonely struggle for survival. It will, theoretically, provide you with food, shelter, schooling, healing. And on top of all that, it will give you a sense of (communal) purpose, and a lifting of responsibility to make life-directing decisions for yourself. If you just do what you’re told, work where you are directed to work, live where you are allowed to live, eat what is made available to you, repeat the lessons you are taught, you will survive. And furthermore you‘ll have nothing to reproach yourself with; you can bear a lightness of moral being, certain that you are no higher or lower than anybody else, having neither to envy others nor to be annoyingly envied by them.

Paradise? For those who think it may be, there is bad news. The whole utopian structure is built on a fallacy. The idea that you will be more secure in the arms of the state than you are if left to your own devices is an illusion. What the state provides the state can withhold. If the state gives you a job, it can deny you a job. The same with housing, education, medicine. You are dependent on it, and if it fails you or punishes you by withdrawing its patronage, you will have no recourse. Your choice is to live as a slave obedient to the state, or perish.

The only real security lies always in your own ability to act for yourself (and your immediate dependents). It may not be easy, yet most who try succeed. The more freely you can act for yourself, the safer you are. The state’s only legitimate role is to safeguard you while you pursue your self-chosen aims, by protecting your country from external enemies with military strength, and you personally by enforcing the law.

The state is forever an incipient threat to freedom. It tends to accumulate power and encroach gradually on the freedom of the citizens. It needs to be kept from becoming too powerful. How to limit the power of government is the chief problem for representative democracies.

The state will take more power to itself in times of national crisis, such as war or severe economic recession. It can – and governments often do – invent crises as an excuse to take more power. They are doing so now. One of the most potent excuses that representative governments are seizing on to expand way beyond acceptable limits is ‘climate change’ with its ‘threats to the environment’.

It is in the name of an apparently overriding necessity – nothing less than the preservation of our planet – that governments are busy trying to organize populations into collective compliance with their will. All populations. The salvation of Earth is only possible, the environmentalists say, if their remedies are applied uniformly to the entire planet. Never has there been such a gift of an excuse for collectivists in power to organize the rest of us. We must all, they insist, henceforth live, work, play, travel, dress, eat, and house ourselves as they tell us to if we are to survive.

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.

Post Script: Green is the new Red (as in Communist Red). The Communist Van Jones, briefly appointed as Green Jobs Adviser to President Obama, made no secret of why he liked the job. He said that the green economy would start off as ‘a small subset’ of a complete revolution, away from ‘grey capitalism’ toward redistribution of all the wealth. ‘We are going to push it and push it and push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.’

Jillian Becker   September 2009

A very bad omen 0

From Investor’s Business Daily (read it all here):

Understand, this is a time of great financial peril. That’s the main reason why Bernanke was renominated. The idea of changing Fed leaders in the middle of a financial crisis was too much.

Bernanke has printed close to $2 trillion in new money to help refloat the economy. President Obama is no doubt happy — if for no other reason than it will let the White House claim its $787 billion “stimulus” is the real reason the economy’s starting to grow again.

But the naming of [Denis] Hughes as the top banker at the New York Fed is the real news. And it’s quite astounding.

He has no significant finance experience. Nor does his educational background — “Brother Hughes,” as the AFL-CIO’s Web site calls him, has a B.S. degree from the Harry Van Arsdale School of Labor Studies at Empire State College — reassure us…

Of greater concern is his career as a bought-and-paid-for union official and political operative. The New York Fed chairmanship is hardly a place for a person whose entire career has been spent fighting and strong-arming the very people he’ll now be regulating.

Putting this key Fed bank in the hands of a person whose experience suggests a bred-in-the-bone hostility to capitalism strikes us as bizarre at best and dangerous at worst. And it bears the unmistakable imprint of the White House. Just last week we wrote about plans to elevate former United Steelworkers adviser Ron Bloom from head of the auto task force to “industrial policy czar.”

Putting so many union people in powerful positions of economic policymaking is a recipe for disaster. Since 1955, the share of the workers belonging to unions has plunged from 33% to about 11%. Still, though increasingly unpopular, unions have helped wreck two major industries: autos and steel. Not much of a track record.

But now, through politics, unions are getting rewarded with control of the economy a very bad omen for American capitalism.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, government, News, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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The injustice of ‘social justice’ 0

Rep. Darrell Issa of California has released a report that shows how Democrats in power caused the depression that has spread through the world. It demonstrates how the pursuit of ‘social justice’ can bring economic disaster. And how the worst sufferers from the break-down of the free market will be precisely those for whom the whole ill-advised policy was implemented in the first place.

Investor’s Business Daily lists the main points of the report. Here are some of them: 

• In 1995, the Clinton administration issued a National Homeownership Strategy, loosening Fannie and Freddie’s lending standards and insisting that lenders “work collaboratively to reduce homebuyer downpayment requirements.”

• The administration complained that in 1989 only 7% of mortgages had less than a 10% downpayment. By 1994, it wanted that raised to 29%.

• Reduced underwriting standards spread into the entire U.S. mortgage market to those at all income levels.

• A complete decoupling of home prices from Americans’ income fed the growth of the housing bubble as borrowers made smaller down payments and took on higher debt.

• Wall Street firms specializing “in packaging and investing in the lowest-quality tranches of mortgage-backed securities, profited hugely from the increased volume that government affordable lending policies sparked.”

• Wall Street firms, homebuilders and the GSEs used money, power and influence to block attempts at reform. Between 1998 and 2008, Fannie and Freddie spent over $176 million on lobbyists.

• In 2006, Freddie paid the largest fine in Federal Election Commission history for improperly using corporate resources to hold 85 fundraisers for congressmen, raising a total of $1.7 million.

As the Issa report points out, “the real tragedy of the government’s affordable housing policy is the impact on average Americans, particularly those of modest means. Millions of these borrowers, who were supposed to have been helped by federal affordable housing policy, have now been forced into delinquency and foreclosure, destroying their asset base, their credit, and in some cases their families.”

Posted under Commentary, Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, July 12, 2009

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Aid for the non-existent 0

Whatever a government does, it does badly. That is the rule. Therefore, the less a government does the better for the nation. It should do only those things that it alone can do – chiefly, defend the country, protect the citizens by enforcing the law.  What it should never do, above all, is manage the economy. That’s the lesson socialists never learn. 

Only a small part of the $787 billion ‘stimulus package’ – money stolen from future tax-payers by the Democrats in power –  has been spent, but a second such governmental act of theft is already being mooted. On what have the ill-gotten government gains  so far been spent?

Mona Charen gives examples in Townhall:

The Social Security Administration admits that it mailed out 10,000 checks (using stimulus funds) to “deceased persons.” The SSA blamed pressure to spend the money quickly.

A non-existent lake in Oklahoma is going to get $1 million for a guardrail.

Union, N.Y., (population 56,000) was notified that it would be receiving a $578,661 stimulus grant to prevent homelessness. The town fathers were nonplussed as 1) they had never applied for the grant, and 2) they do not have a homelessness problem. But note the number: It’s so non-round, so specific. Is there a department at HUD responsible for inventing plausible-sounding numbers?

The state of Wisconsin, Coburn reports, has 1,256 structurally deficient bridges, more than Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Alaska combined. Yet no stimulus funds are flowing to repair those bridges. Instead, the feds are sending $15.8 million in transportation stimulus money to repair 37 rural bridges that hardly anyone uses. Why? It seems the rural projects were more “shovel-ready” and got pushed to the head of the queue.

But perhaps the most emblematic example of your tax dollars at work is this one: Road signs are being purchased at a cost of $300 apiece advertising that “This construction project” is being paid for with stimulus funds. Illinois alone has already spent $150,000 on such signs.

    Read the whole article here.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, July 10, 2009

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After the tea parties 2

 Nancy Pelosi wants a ‘probe’ of  Wall Street, hoping to put all the blame on it for the economic crisis.

The Investor’s Business Daily comments:

The problem is, what "happened on Wall Street" was a direct result of what happened on Capitol Hill. And we’re not the only ones who believe that, by the way.

"Government policies, especially the Community Reinvestment Act, and the affordable housing mission that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were charged with fulfilling, are to blame for the financial crisis," wrote economist Peter Wallison, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, recently.

"Regulators also deserve blame for lowering lending standards that then contributed to riskier homeownership and the housing bubble." Exactly correct.

As such, Pelosi’s proposed … commission will be little more than a fig leaf to cover Congress’ own multitude of sins — letting its members, the true creators of this financial mess, bash business leaders as they pose as populist saviors of Main Street from Wall Street predators.

Why do this now? Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues are feeling the heat from Tea Party demonstrations and growing voter anger over the massive waste entailed in the $4 trillion (and rising) stimulus-bailout bonanza. Again, the Democrats created all this spending. Now, as it proves unpopular, they just walk away from it.

On NPR Thursday, a reporter confronted Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, with the fact that his $300 billion "Hope for Homeowners" program, passed with much fanfare last fall, had so far helped just one homeowner. One.

Frank’s response: It was the fault of the "right." And Bush.

Truth is, Frank’s party has been in charge since 2006. And during that time, Democrats have presided over one of the most disgraceful and least accomplished Congresses in history. This financial mess began on their watch, yet they pretend otherwise. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 17, 2009

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