1984- 2013 Gangnam Style

Before I get to my  blog for today I just wanted to congratulate Rep. Barney Frank (D-NY) for solving the Boston Bombing case single-handedly.

The cause: The Sequester!!

The Solution: Spend More Money!

WOW! isn’t that amazing… 🙂

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/barney-frank-demands-higher-taxes-over-boston-bombing-msnbc-anchor-calls-him-out-for-politicizing-attack/

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Victor Davis Hanson: Imagine if, during the campaign of 2008, someone had written the following: “If Barack Obama is elected president, then each year from now on the federal budget will be a trillion dollars in the red. He will pile up in two terms more debt than all previous presidents combined. Interest rates will stay at near zero; 7.6 percent unemployment will be proof of progress in creating jobs. Record use of food stamps, unemployment, and disability insurance will be hallmarks of recovery. The government will take over health care, and the costs will skyrocket. During Obama’s second term, ammunition will vanish from America’s store shelves in panic buying. Gay marriage will become uncontroversial. Women will be eligible for infantry combat. The only question about amnesty for illegal aliens will be when, not if, it is enacted. States will begin legalizing marijuana.” Obviously, such a conspiracist would have been dismissed as an unhinged nut.

You may object that Obama himself has hardly been responsible for all these radical transformations. True, but he helped to create, in brilliant fashion, a “hope and change,” quasi-revolutionary climate — the political cover, if you will, for the media, the universities, federal judges, state legislatures, and Congress to reinvent American popular culture and tradition in a manner rarely if ever seen in the past.

LANGUAGE
First were the necessary changes in language. In the Obama age, as in Orwell’s 1984, the natural meanings of words had to change. See the third book of Thucydides’ history for the details.

Running up serial trillion-dollar deficits was not profligacy, but rather making “investments” for “the children.” Irresponsible borrowing became “stimulus.” Indeed, “trillion” — not a frequently used part of most people’s vocabulary before 2009 — suddenly replaced “billion” as a familiar fiscal numerical adjective. A takeover of health care that would spike premiums and ration services, devices, and procedures was aptly named the “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

“Assault weapons” superseded “semi-automatic rifles,” even as “semi-automatic” and “automatic” were no longer distinct adjectives. The obvious purpose of rapid-fire weapons was to kill innocent children, not to protect your household from intruders, to shoot fast-moving game, or to practice a sport at a shooting range, much less to remind the government, in Second Amendment fashion, that the populace was autonomous and vigilant.

“Illegal alien” disappeared in favor of the inexact “undocumented immigrant” or “undocumented worker,” even though most illegal aliens never had proper documents of any sort, and sizable minorities of them were not working. The key was to convince the American public that millions of people had inadvertently wandered over the poorly demarcated border, all in search of work. They sort of lost track of both their bearings and their legal documents in the process. “Comprehensive immigration reform” superseded “amnesty,” as if the new proposed reforms focused mostly on hordes of brilliant Ph.D.s from the Czech Republic, queuing up to acquire legal authorization to work in Silicon Valley — rather than some 11 million or so Latin Americans who entered the country unlawfully, mostly without capital, English, or a high-school diploma.

“Homosexual” became a derogatory substitute for the proper term “gay,” and male homosexuality was redefined almost as an asexual act — a fun or “gay” Platonic experience rather than one connected with any particular sort of sexual congress.

“Global warming” begat “climate change,” which eventually begat “climate chaos,” once tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis had to be enlisted in the good fight — given that there was no proof of rising temperatures in the last decade, and even the specter of melting polar ice caps, rising seas, and drowning polar bears had not proved enough to scare the public into banning coal and enacting cap-and-trade.

After the language changed, obfuscation followed, designed to wear down the opposition through a bewildering array of incomprehensible regulations that led to an attention overload and confusion of theories with facts. Nancy Pelosi astutely gauged the pulse of an exhausted public that wanted the drawn-out debate over Obamacare just to be done with and go away, when she promised that we could find out what was in the vast, 2,400-page Obamacare bill as soon as it was made law. Likewise, the new “comprehensive immigration reform” bill is reputed to be over 1,500 pages. As many will read that monstrosity as have read the Obamacare document. The “hockey stick” and tree rings from “11,000 years ago” proved global warming in a way that no one could quite fathom until private correspondence was leaked to the public giving the proper academic context. No one quite knows what the advent of gay marriage will entail, once the idea of marriage as the exclusivity of a single man, joined with a single woman, to promote procreation has ended. But the theoretical possibilities of bold new unions, both sincere and cynical, are now as endless as they are taboo to discuss publicly.

SILENCING DEBATE
After language changed and facts were buried beneath bureaucratic avalanches, debate became almost un-American, either silenced or relegated to caricature. Legitimate worries about rising health-insurance premiums and restricted care translated into being against the “young” and “vulnerable.” Object to infringements on the Second Amendment, and Vice President Joe Biden (who, as so often in the mudslinging, was wheeled out to demonize opponents) will charge that one must suffer from some near-sexual fetish to want an “assault weapon” in one’s hands, a thrill like “driving a Ferrari.” (Most Americans, apparently unlike Biden, have no idea of what driving a Ferrari is like.) Biden instead advised the illegal act of blasting a shotgun into the air to scare off intruders. Concerns about the dangers of a nationwide gun registry were tantamount to membership in “the black-helicopter crowd.”

In the debate over illegal immigration, one paradigm was the DREAM Act. The new gospel was that 11 million illegal aliens were denied their futures as neurosurgeons and aeronautical engineers simply by lack of access to the appropriate university. No one was allowed to talk of an “un-DREAM Act” — to point out that for all the hard-working, crime-free, and long-residing illegal aliens, there must be at least some who were on public assistance, had criminal records, and or entered the country only recently in hopes of receiving amnesty. All illegal aliens were desirable newcomers; none were undesirable. Breaking the law, and cutting in front of others who did not, was noble, whereas drawing attention to those who did was ignoble. The illegal-alien debate was framed as involving those who wished to allow José López to finish his M.D., against racists who could not tolerate the idea that people from south of the border were outpacing them to the pinnacles of American success.

To ponder whether females could meet, without adjustments, the brutal physical requirements of Special Forces training was tantamount to being anti-woman. There could be no real debate over gay marriage. America was instead to have happily evolved from the Neanderthal 1990s, when homophobia had made such moral improvement impossible. That earlier public had been obsessed with illegitimate and improper concerns that particular types of sexual congress might lead to new worries over the spread of HIV or the recent transformation of hepatitis into a common sexually transmitted disease.

Anecdote, the age-old enemy of logic, now reigns supreme and trumps induction —  as if the exception is always proof of the rule, as if the public will always forsake reason for emotion. Forget the statistics on Obamacare — my Uncle Joe was denied coverage after he lost his job. The economy is getting better, because my friend Will was offered a job today. Why enforce federal immigration law, when there is no nicer window washer than Herlinda, who comes to my house every Tuesday? It hailed in June here; therefore the world must be experiencing climate change. I would never shoot an AR-15, and therefore there is no need for anyone else to. My nephew is gay, and he’s a great guy; therefore gay marriage is great too. Sally yesterday lifted heavier weights than did three guys in the gym: Presto, female soldiers can do anything that male soldiers can.
DEMONIZATION
Finally, to make the once controversial the new convention, demonization and character assassination were essential. Opposing trillion-dollar deficits meant that you were a fat cat who didn’t build your own business and didn’t know when you had made enough money, a suspect 1-percenter who did not pay “your fair share,” and who junketed to Las Vegas or lopped off patients’ limbs for profit. To oppose Obamacare meant that you wished the vulnerable like Sandra Fluke to have to choose between eating and having access to exorbitantly priced condoms. Or perhaps you wished those with lymphoma to go without medical treatment.

Wariness about Congress’s rush-to-judgment haste to infringe on the Second Amendment was proof that you were callous toward the parents of the Sandy Hook victims, with veritable blood on your hands in a repeat of the Gabby Giffords tragedy. Gun owners were now to be divided into the good Joe Biden and John Kerry types who, outfitted in proper L. L. Bean attire, each year ceremoniously fired off a few rounds at skeet from their Italian shotguns — and the overweight and sunburned clingers who, in places like southern Illinois and rural Pennsylvania, slaughtered deer for the hell of it with sinister black machine guns, when they weren’t indulging in militia play-acting in bandoliers and camouflage.

America may have had the most liberal immigration policy, both legal and illegal, in the world, which inordinately favored illegal entrants from Latin America. But nonetheless the desire to enforce federal legislation was tantamount to being a “nativist” and “racist” who, as “an old angry white guy” could not “get over” “the new demography” — incorrect behavior by “enemies” that warranted a vow from the president to “punish” them. Those who opposed gay marriage but were willing to accept civil unions were “homophobes” who had set out to demonize the children and grandchildren of us all.

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What are we to make of this creeping brave new world?

The scary part, at least for now, is not the ends so much as the means used to achieve them. The reason that Orwell, a man of the Left, made his farm animals and lost urban souls the victims of tyrannical left-wing megalomaniacs was his sense that the far Left, much more so than the far Right, could insidiously distort reality and destroy free expression. The right-wing dictator is typically an identifiable thug who transparently stifles free speech to benefit a small coterie of aristocrats and insiders. In contrast, the left-wing dictator is always a misunderstood reformer who was forced by counterrevolutionaries to break a few eggs in order to make the collective omelet. Think of the reaction to drones, renditions, and Guantanamo under Bush compared to that under Obama. After all, there are no Pinochet T-shirts on campus to rival the romantic depiction of Che — a psychopath in service to a Cuban autocracy that came to power killing far more than did Pinochet in Chile. We are long conditioned to airbrush the word “socialism” out of Hitler’s “National Socialism” and must only with care remark that the collectivist Mao was the greatest mass murderer in the history of civilization. Our popular culture is currently engaged in canonizing bombers and murderers from the 1960s campuses, but not the equally violent anti-abortion activists who likewise sometimes took the law into their own hands in service to their own purported sense of the greater good.

We are in revolutionary times, but of the French rather than the American sort. The popular effort is not to preserve liberty from an all-encompassing government, but rather to have an all-powerful state impose an egalitarianism of result — and increasingly by any means necessary.

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

 

Education

Audiences at a graduation ceremony were left aghast when Congressman Barney Frank told a black degree recipient that his graduation gown finally gave him a hoodie that he could wear ‘and no one will shoot at you’.

The Democrat made the controversial remarks while speaking at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduation on Sunday.

And no one in the Liberal Media will bat an eye.

Barck Obama’s Dreams of My Father: Here’s a quote from pages 100 and 101:
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,I chose my friends carefully.The more politically active black students.The foreign students.The Chicanos.The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets.At night,in the dorms,we discussed neocolonialism,Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism,and patriarchy.When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake,we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints.We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure.We were alienated.

Thomas Sowell: “Education” is a word that covers a lot of very different things, from vital, life-saving medical skills to frivolous courses to absolutely counterproductive courses that fill people with a sense of grievance and entitlement, without giving them either the skills to earn a living or a realistic understanding of the world required for a citizen in a free society.

The lack of realism among many highly educated people has been demonstrated in many ways.

When I saw signs in Yellowstone National Park warning visitors not to get too close to a buffalo, I realized that this was a warning that no illiterate farmer of a bygone century would have needed. No one would have had to tell him not to mess with a huge animal that literally weighs a ton, and can charge at you at 30 miles an hour.

No one would have had to tell that illiterate farmer’s daughter not to stand by the side of a highway, trying to hitch a ride with strangers, as too many college girls have done, sometimes with results that ranged all the way up to their death.

The dangers that a lack of realism can bring to many educated people are completely overshadowed by the dangers to a whole society created by the unrealistic views of the world promoted in many educational institutions.

It was painful, for example, to see an internationally renowned scholar say that what low-income young people needed was “meaningful work.” But this is a notion common among educated elites, regardless of how counterproductive its consequences may be for society at large, and for low-income youngsters especially.

What is “meaningful work”?

The underlying notion seems to be that it is work whose performance is satisfying or enjoyable in itself. But if that is the only kind of work that people should have to do, how is garbage to be collected, bed pans emptied in hospitals or jobs with life-threatening dangers to be performed?

Does anyone imagine that firemen enjoy going into burning homes and buildings to rescue people trapped by the flames? That soldiers going into combat think it is fun?

In the real world, many things are done simply because they have to be done, not because doing them brings immediate pleasure to those who do them. Some people take justifiable pride in working to take care of their families, whether or not the work itself is great.

Some of our more Utopian intellectuals lament that many people work “just for the money.” They do not like a society where A produces what B wants, simply in order that B will produce what A wants, with money being an intermediary device facilitating such exchanges.

Some would apparently prefer a society where all-wise elites would decide what each of us “needs” or “deserves.” The actual history of societies formed on that principle — histories often stained, or even drenched, in blood — is of little interest to those who mistake wishful thinking for idealism.

At the very least, many intellectuals do not want the poor or the young to have to take “menial” jobs. But people who are paying their own money, as distinguished from the taxpayers’ money, for someone to do a job are unlikely to part with hard cash unless that job actually needs doing, whether or not that job is called “menial” by others.

People who lack the skills to take on more prestigious jobs can either remain idle and live as parasites on others or take the jobs for which they are currently qualified, and then move up the ladder as they acquire more experience. People who are flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s on New Year’s Day are seldom flipping hamburgers there when Christmas time comes.

Those relatively few statistics that follow actual flesh-and-blood individuals over time show them moving massively from one income bracket to another over time, starting at the bottom and moving up as they acquire skills and experience.

Telling young people that some jobs are “menial” is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society. Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for “meaningful work” is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them.

Now the Liberal Thought Police will coming to your door because remember, Liberals “evolve” when they are two-faced hypocrites after all.  So you need to “evolve” and be “re-educated”. 🙂

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs)- Karl Marx

You are “entitled” to a “living wage”, health care, a car, a home, a big screen tv, and lots of money you never earned…

Chuck Norris: On May 23, President Barack Obama told more than 1,000 jubilant, uniform-prepped-and-polished graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy that the world has a “new feeling about America.” He declared: “I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague to Tokyo and Seoul to Rio and Jakarta. There’s a new confidence in our leadership.” If only it were true.

Obama boasted, “We can say with confidence and pride: The United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world.”

“Stronger, safer and more respected”?

“Stronger,” as in Obama’s plan to initiate more than $500 billion in automatic cuts to the defense budget over a decade, starting next January. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the Democratic-controlled Senate voted May 24 to authorize another reduced spending package for the Pentagon.

“Safer,” as in the report card from the Bipartisan Policy Center, including many of the original 9/11 Commission members, which reported on national preparedness 10 years after those catastrophic terrorist attacks: “Our country is undoubtedly safer and more secure than it was a decade ago,” but “we fail to achieve the security we could or should have.” The report concluded that the federal government has failed to meet nine of the 9/11 Commission’s 41 recommendations.

“More respected,” as in The Washington Times’ report that according to a poll by even two left-leaning groups, “a majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than two years ago and believe President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security.”

In February, Gallup reported that “Americans continue to express much greater dissatisfaction than satisfaction with the United States’ position in the world, and their views have improved little since hitting a low point in 2008.”

Why do we have such a weak, unsecured and disrespected U.S.?

Maybe a significant reason is that Obama paraded U.S. weaknesses and mistakes to the world in his 2009 “apology tour.” (Check out http://bit.ly/JIG7J1 to see The Heritage Foundation’s report on the top 10 decries of America by Obama.)

Sandwich all of those apologies and countless others since then with the apology in March for the unintentional burning of Qurans in Afghanistan and we have a perfect recipe for America’s global disrespect and dissolution.

Mr. President, you don’t build national or leadership strength, safety and respect by groveling and groping.

If you want examples of how America could become “stronger, safer and more respected,” then look no further than to our amazing, exemplary, courageous U.S. military personnel — especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and republic, including some of the people I met on my two trips to Iraq. They are the ones who truly create the good U.S. qualities and deserve the credit for them.

One thing we can say for sure: Though the federal government and this administration have weakened our standing in the world and despite the lack of leadership by the commander in chief, our dedicated service members are responsible for strengthening our republic. To all who have served or are serving our great country, I salute you!

My father fought and was wounded in World War II, in the Battle of the Bulge. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. I am also an honorary Marine. My brother Aaron served in the U.S. Army in Korea. And our brother, Wieland, served in the Army in Vietnam, where he paid the ultimate price June 3, 1970. Wieland was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with “V” device (first oak leaf cluster) for his heroism. His name is etched among those of more than 58,000 other fallen service members on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. (Go to http://bit.ly/JQd0Nt to watch my 91-year-old mother speak about Wieland in her interview on Fox News Channel’s “Huckabee.”)

It’s fitting for a soldier like Wieland that Memorial Day falls every year a week or so before the anniversary of when he gave his life for the cause of freedom. Though we didn’t win the Vietnam War, my brother did not die in vain, just as the case is with other service members today.

Whether they be for our freedom or another’s, the words of Jesus are true for all: “There is no greater love than this: that a man lay down his life for another.”

About such patriots, Gen. George S. Patton was right: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”

 

A Year In Review

Here’s a look at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s year in review.

– Jan. 14: Kansas announces its intention to become the 26th state to file suit against the federal government to stop implementation of the health care overhaul.

– Jan. 19: The House of Representatives votes to repeal the health care law.

– Jan. 26: Illinois-based pharmaceutical company Abbott Labs cuts 1,900 jobs “in response to changes in the health-care industry, including U.S. health-care reform and the challenging regulatory environment.”

– Jan. 31: A second federal district judge rules that the law is unconstitutional.

– Feb. 2: All 47 Republican senators vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but the measure fails.

– Feb. 16: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the Senate Finance Committee and admits that the CLASS Act, a key portion of the law that was touted as a $70 billion savings, is “totally unsustainable.” But not to worry: Sebelius says her department has the authority to rework the legislation to make CLASS tenable.

– Feb. 18: The House votes to block federal funding to implement the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that repealing the law would add $210 billion to the combined federal deficits from 2012 to 2021.

– Feb. 22: A federal judge tosses a lawsuit claiming that the Affordable Care Act violates the liberties of those who choose to rely on God to protect and heal them instead of buying health insurance.

– March 3: The House votes to end an unpopular tax paperwork-filing requirement for businesses tucked into the health care law.

– March 23: The law turns one year old. On the same day, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce finds that the temporary Early Retirement Reinsurance Program will spend its allotted $5 billion far earlier than its Jan. 1, 2014 expiration date.

– March 30: The CBO estimates that health care reform will cost $1.1 trillion, an increase of $90 billion from its February estimate.

– May 17: The Daily Caller reports that 20 percent of new waivers from the law have gone to gourmet restaurants, nightclubs and fancy hotels in former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district.

– June 8: A McKinsey & Company survey of over 1,300 private sector employers found that 30 percent of employers would definitely or probably stop offering insurance to their employees after the law is implemented in 2014.

– June 18: HHS announces that it is axing waivers from the law. After over 1700 of them, 24% of them are for Public and private sector UNIONS and “small” employers like McDonalds. And they only stopping kissing up because of too much bad press.

– June 21: A glitch in the law, discovered after Obama signed it, would allow middle-class Americans to get subsidized health care intended for poor people, the Associated Press reports. Medicare’s chief actuary says the policy “doesn’t make sense.”

– June 29: In the face of a constitutional challenge, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the law.

– July 18: An Employment Policies Institute report finds that the Affordable Care Act would incentivize employees to switch to a government-subsidized insurance exchange even if employers were to continue their health care coverage, costing taxpayers “significant[ly].”

– July 19: The bipartisan “gang of six” puts forward a debt-reduction plan that would repeal the CLASS Act.

– Aug. 1: HHS issues a regulation requiring all group health insurance plans to cover FDA-approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” Even if you are morally opposed to Planned Parenthood. 🙂

Now that’s “Pro-Choice” !!!!

– Aug. 12: The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the law’s individual health insurance mandate is unconstitutional.

– Sept. 8: The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejects a pair of challenges to the law on procedural grounds. It does not rule on the law’s constitutionality.

– Sept. 15: A bicameral Republican report accuses Democratic supporters of the health care law of recklessness for promoting the CLASS Act despite knowing that the program would eventually blow up the budget.

– Oct. 5: The signatures of about 1.6 million petitioners pressing for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act are delivered to Capitol Hill at a press conference.

– Oct. 13: A federal inspector general finds that the IRS is having trouble collecting the 10-percent federal tanning tax established by the law.

– Oct. 14: HHS completes its 19-month review of the CLASS Act, determining that “we do not have a path to move forward,” Sebelius says. CLASS remains on the books, but the administration essentially gives up on it.

– Nov. 4: Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe and 23 Republican colleagues send a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman objecting to a new IRS rule authorizing subsidies for participants in the yet-to-be-created federal health care exchange program. They argue that the agency is seeking to rewrite legislation, something it is not allowed to do.
Conservative experts say the IRS rules are covering up a glitch in the original law that provides subsidies for people enrolled in state exchanges, but not federal exchanges. Shulman does not agree with their analysis.

– Nov. 9: The National Federation of Independent Business releases a report saying that in 2012 the law’s new health insurance tax will reduce private sector jobs by between 125,000 and 249,000.

– Nov. 10: The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty announces it is suing HHS on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic educational institution. The lawsuit claims the Aug. 1 regulation violates the college’s teaching on contraception, sterilization and abortion.

– Nov. 14: The Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act.

– Nov. 16: Forty-seven percent of Americans favor repeal of the law, Gallup finds.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law passed by Congress in March 2010, while 35% at least somewhat oppose repeal. The intensity remains on the side of the law’s opponents since these findings include 42% who Strongly Favor repeal versus 26% who are Strongly Opposed.

– Nov. 29: Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank joins the effort to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key portion of the law that would “recommend levels at which Medicare recipients, including seniors, can
be reimbursed for health care expenses.”

– Nov. 30: The House energy committee votes to repeal the CLASS Act.

– Dec. 15: The Obama administration announces that the number of young uninsured Americans has fallen by 2.5 million, attributing it to his law’s provision permitting young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans
until age 26. (yeah and their parents are not underemployed) 🙂

– Dec 16: Seeking to defuse a potential showdown over a key part of the new healthcare law, the Obama administration moved Friday to let states, rather than the federal government, define which medical benefits insurance companies will have to offer consumers starting in 2014. That allows state leaders to retain more control of health insurance even as the law extends a new federal guarantee that all Americans can get coverage, even if they are sick.

But it’s just a “pre-rule”.

By giving states authority to define the scope of covered benefits, the Obama administration potentially sidestepped an ugly showdown between consumer and business groups in the run-up to the presidential election. Administration officials also may have undercut a charge from opponents of the law that the federal government is usurping state authority. (aka The 10th Amendment argument)

That’s tricky territory for the administration, which is trying to avoid the “big brother” label on health care.

“However, flexibility must yield to reliable, comprehensive coverage of benefits for consumers.… It is essential that HHS provide strong oversight and enforcement.”

The proposed rules, which will take months to finalize. What do you want to bet it will right up to the March arguments in the Supreme Court. 🙂

Gee, I’m not a little cynical. I’m nothing BUT cynical. 🙂

That means that some states may require insurers to cover services such as chiropractic therapy or in vitro fertilization, while others may not. The rules will not affect co-payments, cost sharing and deductibles, which play a major role in determining premiums.
– Dec. 18: Health care experts doubt that the federal insurance exchange program will be fully operational by the Jan. 1, 2014 deadline, since many states have refused to implement the state exchange program, the Washington Post  reports.

– Dec. 19: The Supreme Court announces it will hear an unprecedented week’s worth of arguments in March 2012 to determine whether the health care overhaul law is constitutional.

So it’s all politics and chaos. They passed the buck so that them not sawing off the finger on your right hand would also you to not notice they want to or have sawed over your legs.

But don’t worry, when the IRS comes knocking on your wallet, it’s only a “penalty” nothing to be concerned about. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson

 Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Picking Winners

Comedian Adam Carolla went on a tirade about the mentality that he sees driving the Occupy movement, seething, “We’ve created a bunch of f—ing self-entitled monsters.”

As Carolla sees it, the seeds of self-entitlement were planted decades ago, as parents began to coddle their children instead of emphasizing a merit-based system.

“There’s something that’s come up in this country that didn’t use to exist, which is envy. And it’s a big issue,” Carolla stated, “We’re now dealing with the first wave of participation trophy, my own fecal matter doesn’t stink, empowered, I feel so f—ing good about myself, everyone’s a winner, there’s no losers … we’re dealing with the first wave of those f—ing assholes.”

Carolla went on to blame the parents of the “millennial” generation, accusing them of failing to prepare their children for the harsh realities of adult life.

“We’ve created a bunch of f—ing self-entitled monsters,” he said. “You should feel good about yourself because of your accomplishments. Not because somebody yelled at you to feel good about yourself and you got a f—ing fake piece of plastic that was spayed gold and had your name on a plaque on the bottom of it.”

Carolla suggests that the young adults involved are merely feeling embarrassment for a lack of professional accomplishments.

“They’re feeling shame. They’ve been shamed by life because they haven’t been prepared for life. They’ve had so much smoke blown up their collective asses, by the time they get out in the real world and they realize, the real world doesn’t give a f–k where you’re from or what your mommy said you were or how pretty you are,” he said.

“There’s something that’s come up in this country that didn’t use to exist, which is envy. And it’s a big issue,” Carolla posited. “We’re now dealing with the first wave of participation trophy, my own fecal matter doesn’t stink, empowered, I feel so f—ing good about myself, everyone’s a winner, there’s no losers … we’re dealing with the first wave of those f—ing assholes.”

Carolla isn’t alone in his disdain for the Occupy movement — earlier this month, graphic novelist Frank Miller likened the OWS protestors to “rapists,” warning, “These clowns can do nothing but harm America.”

AMEN!

Now the results of Obama’s “Arab Spring” have started to sprout. And the crab grass and weeds are showing.

Islamic Muslim Brotherhood appears to hold the lead of seats in the  first round of Egypt’s first parliamentary vote since Hosni Mubarak’s  ouster, a trend that if confirmed would give religious parties a popular  mandate in the struggle to win control from the ruling military and  ultimately reshape a key U.S. ally.

Its credo was and remains: “Allah is our objective, the Quran is our  constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way and death for  the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

So good Job Obama, you backed yet another winner! 😦

The Obama Administration is making a mistake by endorsing the Muslim Brotherhood as if it were made up of moderates or “good guys” just because they are not blowing things up.

What moderate Arabs and Muslims do not understand is the rush of the Barack Obama Administration to endorse extremist Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood decision to run in the parliamentary elections under the banner of “Freedom and Justice” does not necessarily mean that the organization has changed its ideology.

Its credo was and remains: “Allah is our objective, the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

The organization believes the Quran and Sharia law (the “Justice” part of “Freedom and Justice”) should be the basis for any Islamic government; that all Muslims should be unified under a Caliphate, and that its principles include “liberating Arabs and Muslims from foreign imperialism.”

The Obama Administration seems deliberately to want to be unaware of “taqiyya” [dissimulation], a silent and therefore even more dangerous tactic advocated in Islam to achieve the strategic goal of soothing the infidels into submitting without their even realizing what they have submitted to until it is too late for them — called “Stealth Sharia.”

If anyone thinks that the Muslim Brotherhood will abandon jihad and extremism once its members come to power, they are living in an illusion.

Hamas did the same thing in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, when it contested the vote under the banner of Change and Reform. In Tunisia, the Islamists chose to run under the banner of Annahda [Renaissance], while in Morocco they hid behind the name Justice and Development.

The nice and attractive names that the Islamists choose for their parties are above all intended to fool Westerners into thinking that Muslim extremists do not pose a threat to non-Muslims. The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies will do everything to hide their true intentions from Western governments and people. But once they come to power, they reveal their true colors.

The US Administration, which has determined that the Muslim Brotherhood is probably not that bad after all, is most likely unaware of what happened in Cairo last week, when thousands of the organization’s supporters chanted “death to the Jews” and vowed to wage jihad [holy war] against Israel.

At a rally co-sponsored by Al-Azhar University under the banner “The Friday for Supporting Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Muslim Brotherhood supporters also chanted: “O Tel Aviv, the day of judgment has come!” and “We will march on Jerusalem and sacrifice millions of martyrs!”

According to Eldad Beck, an Arab affairs correspondent for the Israeli online newspaper Ynet, about 5,000 Egyptians participated in the event, held to mark the anniversary of the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine.

Mohammed Ahmed Tayeb, the imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, told the crowd that the “Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews. We shall not allow Zionists to Judaize Jerusalem.”

The messages coming out of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt did not surprise most Arabs and Muslims who are familiar with the organization and its agenda.

Although Hamas won the elections in 2006 under the banner of Change and Reform, the movement has since not changed its ideology, and continues to call for the destruction of Israel. Only those who are naive would believe that Hamas would ever recognize Israel’s right to exist.

In 2006, the Americans made the mistake of allowing Hamas to run unconditionally in the elections. Back then, Washington should have demanded that Hamas first recognize Israel’s right to exist and the Oslo Accords, and renounce terrorism as a precondition for participating in the election.

Ten years earlier, Hamas boycotted the same election: it said the vote was being held under the Oslo Accords, which the movement does not recognize.

There is nothing that Washington can do to stop the Islamists from hijacking the “Arab Spring,” but by endorsing the Muslim Brotherhood, the US Administration has facilitated the organization’s ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

Those who were chanting “death to the Jews” in Cairo also want to kill all “infidels,” including Americans and Europeans.

On their way to achieving their goal, the Islamists will also kill the moderate Muslims — whom they see as just a fifth column. (Khaled Abu Toameh)

But don’t worry, if we’re just really, really nice to them…

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Robert Ariail

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

 

Galluping Inability

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

According to Gallup, here are the job approval numbers for other presidents at this stage of their terms, a year before the re-election campaign:

— Harry S. Truman: 54 percent.

— Dwight Eisenhower: 78 percent.

— Lyndon B. Johnson: 44 percent.

— Richard M. Nixon: 50 percent.

— Ronald Reagan: 54 percent.

— George H.W. Bush: 52 percent.

— Bill Clinton: 51 percent.

— George W. Bush: 55 percent.

Barack Hussein Obama  43 Percent

What’s more, Gallup finds that Obama’s overall job approval rating so far has averaged 49 percent. Only three former presidents have had a worse average rating at this stage: Carter, Ford, and Harry S. Truman. Only Truman won re-election in an anti-Congress campaign that Obama’s team is using as a model.

Heard last night on MSDNC on the Rachael “Mad Cow” Maddow show Barney Frank’s advice to President Obama on his re-election (where Obama has had 54 events in the 42 days) was to run against the Republicans pointing out that “they are nuts”.

Thanks Barney, it sounds very much like the one I have been saying for a very long time — “Vote for Me, the Other guy’s an asshole!”

The fact that the Democrats are more nuts doesn’t come into it. After all, most extreme liberals think they are “centrists” and the “extremists” are anyone that isn’t them (aka Republicans, Independents, and Conservatives).

Then there’s this: Which is Brilliant and to the Point.

Debt scale update: The U.S. government is already borrowing every three days what all of America spent on Black Friday. And that was the biggest Black Friday on record.

In the last three years, the president has taught us a great deal about America, the world, and himself.

Before Obama, many Americans still believed in massive deficit spending, whether as an article of fairness, a means to economic growth, or just a lazy fallback position to justify an out-of-control federal government. But after the failure of a nearly $800 billion “stimulus” program — intended to keep unemployment under 8 percent — no one believes any more that an already indebted government will foster economic growth by taking on another $4 trillion in debt. In other words, “stimulus” is mostly a dead concept. The president — much as he advised a barnstorming President Bush in 2005 to cease pushing Social Security reform on a reluctant population — should give it up and junk the new $500 billion program euphemistically designated as a “jobs bill.”

Obama has also taught us that prominent government intervention into the private sector often makes things worse, and invites crony-capitalist corruption. Nearly three years into this administration, it is striking how seldom Barack Obama brags about Cash for Clunkers, the Chrysler and GM bailouts, or Solyndra. He either is quiet about them or sort of shrugs, as if to say, “Stuff happens.” Even creative bookkeeping cannot mask the fact that the auto-company bailouts (begun, to be sure, by the Bush administration, but made worse under Obama) will prove a huge drain on the Treasury. No one even attempts any more to convince us that we will like Obamacare once we read the legislation, or that it will save us costs in the long run, or that it will cheer up businesses so that they will invest and hire. All that was dreamland, 2009, and this is reality, 2011, when we hear only “It could have been worse.”

Obama has also taught us that a president’s name, his father’s religion, his ethnic background, loud denunciations of his predecessor, discomforting efforts to apologize, bow, and contextualize past American actions — none of that does anything to lead to greater peace in the world or security for the United States. And by the same token, George Bush’s drawl, Texas identification, and Christianity did not magically turn allies into neutrals and neutrals into enemies.

The Obama legacy in the War on Terror is as Predator-in-Chief — boldly increasing targeted assassinations tenfold from the Bush era, on the theory that we more or less kill the right suspected terrorists; few civil libertarians care much, apparently because one of their own is doing it.

Even Chris Matthews’s leg has stopped tingling. There will be no more Newsweekcomparisons of Obama to a god. Even the Nobel Prize committee will soon grasp that it tarnished its brand by equating fleeting celebrity with lasting achievement.

“Green” will never be quite the same after Obama. When Solyndra and its affiliated scandals are at last fully brought into the light of day, we will see the logical reification of Climategate I & II, Al Gore’s hucksterism, and Van Jones’s lunacy. How ironic that the more Obama tried to stop drilling in the West, offshore, and in Alaska, as well as stopping the Canadian pipeline, the more the American private sector kept finding oil and gas despite rather than because of the U.S. government. How further ironic that the one area that Obama felt was unnecessary for, or indeed antithetical to, America’s economic recovery — vast new gas and oil finds — will soon turn out to be America’s greatest boon in the last 20 years. While Obama and Energy Secretary Chu still insist on subsidizing money-losing wind and solar concerns, we are in the midst of a revolution that, within 20 years, will reduce or even end the trade deficit, help pay off the national debt, create millions of new jobs, and turn the Western Hemisphere into the new Persian Gulf. The American petroleum revolution can be delayed by Obama, but it cannot be stopped.

One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the U.S. Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous.

Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. (Victor David Hanson)

But remember, “Vote for me, The other guys nuts!!” 🙂

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

Moral Hazard

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy)- a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing,and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed,are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

THE $7 Trillion Dollar Secret

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.
‘Change Their Votes’

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.”

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC to force lending details into the open.

The Fed, headed by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma — investors and counterparties would shun firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort — and that needy institutions would be reluctant to borrow in the next crisis. Clearing House Association fought Bloomberg’s lawsuit up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the banks’ appeal in March 2011.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Bankers didn’t disclose the extent of their borrowing. On Nov. 26, 2008, then-Bank of America (BAC) Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed “one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world.” He didn’t say that his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm owed the central bank $86 billion that day.
‘Motivate Others’

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon told shareholders in a March 26, 2010, letter that his bank used the Fed’s Term Auction Facility “at the request of the Federal Reserve to help motivate others to use the system.” He didn’t say that the New York-based bank’s total TAF borrowings were almost twice its cash holdings or that its peak borrowing of $48 billion on Feb. 26, 2009, came more than a year after the program’s creation.

Howard Opinsky, a spokesman for JPMorgan (JPM), declined to comment about Dimon’s statement or the company’s Fed borrowings. Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Bank of America, also declined to comment.

The Fed has been lending money to banks through its so- called discount window since just after its founding in 1913. Starting in August 2007, when confidence in banks began to wane, it created a variety of ways to bolster the financial system with cash or easily traded securities. By the end of 2008, the central bank had established or expanded 11 lending facilities catering to banks, securities firms and corporations that couldn’t get short-term loans from their usual sources.
‘Core Function’

“Supporting financial-market stability in times of extreme market stress is a core function of central banks,” says William B. English, director of the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs. “Our lending programs served to prevent a collapse of the financial system and to keep credit flowing to American families and businesses.”

The Fed has said that all loans were backed by appropriate collateral. That the central bank didn’t lose money should “lead to praise of the Fed, that they took this extraordinary step and they got it right,” says Phillip Swagel, a former assistant Treasury secretary under Henry M. Paulson and now a professor of international economic policy at the University of Maryland.

The Fed initially released lending data in aggregate form only. Information on which banks borrowed, when, how much and at what interest rate was kept from public view.

The secrecy extended even to members of President George W. Bush’s administration who managed TARP. Top aides to Paulson weren’t privy to Fed lending details during the creation of the program that provided crisis funding to more than 700 banks, say two former senior Treasury officials who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Big Six

The Treasury Department relied on the recommendations of the Fed to decide which banks were healthy enough to get TARP money and how much, the former officials say. The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed, measured by peak daily debt calculated by Bloomberg using data obtained from the central bank. Paulson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The six — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley — accounted for 63 percent of the average daily debt to the Fed by all publicly traded U.S. banks, money managers and investment- services firms, the data show. By comparison, they had about half of the industry’s assets before the bailout, which lasted from August 2007 through April 2010. The daily debt figure excludes cash that banks passed along to money-market funds.
Bank Supervision

While the emergency response prevented financial collapse, the Fed shouldn’t have allowed conditions to get to that point, says Joshua Rosner, a banking analyst with Graham Fisher & Co. in New York who predicted problems from lax mortgage underwriting as far back as 2001. The Fed, the primary supervisor for large financial companies, should have been more vigilant as the housing bubble formed, and the scale of its lending shows the “supervision of the banks prior to the crisis was far worse than we had imagined,” Rosner says.

Bernanke in an April 2009 speech said that the Fed provided emergency loans only to “sound institutions,” even though its internal assessments described at least one of the biggest borrowers, Citigroup, as “marginal.”

On Jan. 14, 2009, six days before the company’s central bank loans peaked, the New York Fed gave CEO Vikram Pandit a report declaring Citigroup’s financial strength to be “superficial,” bolstered largely by its $45 billion of Treasury funds. The document was released in early 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a panel empowered by Congress to probe the causes of the crisis.
‘Need Transparency’

Andrea Priest, a spokeswoman for the New York Fed, declined to comment, as did Jon Diat, a spokesman for Citigroup.

“I believe that the Fed should have independence in conducting highly technical monetary policy, but when they are putting taxpayer resources at risk, we need transparency and accountability,” says Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who was a lead Republican negotiator on TARP, and Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, both say they were kept in the dark.

“We didn’t know the specifics,” says Gregg, who’s now an adviser to Goldman Sachs.

“We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Frank says. “We didn’t know the specifics.”
Disclose Lending

Frank co-sponsored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, billed as a fix for financial-industry excesses. Congress debated that legislation in 2010 without a full understanding of how deeply the banks had depended on the Fed for survival.

It would have been “totally appropriate” to disclose the lending data by mid-2009, says David Jones, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who has written four books about the central bank.

“The Fed is the second-most-important appointed body in the U.S., next to the Supreme Court, and we’re dealing with a democracy,” Jones says. “Our representatives in Congress deserve to have this kind of information so they can oversee the Fed.”

The Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to release details of some emergency-lending programs in December 2010. It also mandated disclosure of discount-window borrowers after a two- year lag.
Protecting TARP

TARP and the Fed lending programs went “hand in hand,” says Sherrill Shaffer, a banking professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a former chief economist at the New York Fed. While the TARP money helped insulate the central bank from losses, the Fed’s willingness to supply seemingly unlimited financing to the banks assured they wouldn’t collapse, protecting the Treasury’s TARP investments, he says.

“Even though the Treasury was in the headlines, the Fed was really behind the scenes engineering it,” Shaffer says.

Congress, at the urging of Bernanke and Paulson, created TARP in October 2008 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. made it difficult for financial institutions to get loans. Bank of America and New York-based Citigroup each received $45 billion from TARP. At the time, both were tapping the Fed. Citigroup hit its peak borrowing of $99.5 billion in January 2009, while Bank of America topped out in February 2009 at $91.4 billion.
No Clue

Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible.

Mark Lake, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Had lawmakers known, it “could have changed the whole approach to reform legislation,” says Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic Senator from Delaware who, with Brown, introduced the bill to limit bank size.
Moral Hazard

Kaufman says some banks are so big that their failure could trigger a chain reaction in the financial system. The cost of borrowing for so-called too-big-to-fail banks is lower than that of smaller firms because lenders believe the government won’t let them go under. The perceived safety net creates what economists call moral hazard — the belief that bankers will take greater risks because they’ll enjoy any profits while shifting losses to taxpayers.

Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking his or her car, because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company.

If Congress had been aware of the extent of the Fed rescue, Kaufman says, he would have been able to line up more support for breaking up the biggest banks.

Byron L. Dorgan, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, says the knowledge might have helped pass legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which for most of the last century separated customer deposits from the riskier practices of investment banking.

“Had people known about the hundreds of billions in loans to the biggest financial institutions, they would have demanded Congress take much more courageous actions to stop the practices that caused this near financial collapse,” says Dorgan, who retired in January.
Getting Bigger

Instead, the Fed and its secret financing helped America’s biggest financial firms get bigger and go on to pay employees as much as they did at the height of the housing bubble.

Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.

For so few banks to hold so many assets is “un-American,” says Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “All of these gargantuan institutions are too big to regulate. I’m in favor of breaking them up and slimming them down.”

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data. The banks spent $146.3 billion on compensation in 2010, or an average of $126,342 per worker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up almost 20 percent from five years earlier compared with less than 15 percent for the average worker. Average pay at the banks in 2010 was about the same as in 2007, before the bailouts.
‘Wanted to Pretend’

“The pay levels came back so fast at some of these firms that it appeared they really wanted to pretend they hadn’t been bailed out,” says Anil Kashyap, a former Fed economist who’s now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “They shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people find some of the stuff that happened totally outrageous.”

Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch & Co. at the urging of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson after buying the biggest U.S. home lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. When the Merrill Lynch purchase was announced on Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America had $14.4 billion in emergency Fed loans and Merrill Lynch had $8.1 billion. By the end of the month, Bank of America’s loans had reached $25 billion and Merrill Lynch’s had exceeded $60 billion, helping both firms keep the deal on track.
Prevent Collapse

Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank by deposits before the 2008 acquisition. Because depositors were pulling their money from Wachovia, the Fed channeled $50 billion in secret loans to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank through two emergency-financing programs to prevent collapse before Wells Fargo could complete the purchase.

“These programs proved to be very successful at providing financial markets the additional liquidity and confidence they needed at a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” says Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for Wells Fargo.

JPMorgan absorbed the country’s largest savings and loan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. The New York Fed, then headed by Timothy F. Geithner, who’s now Treasury secretary, helped JPMorgan complete the Bear Stearns deal by providing $29 billion of financing, which was disclosed at the time. The Fed also supplied Bear Stearns with $30 billion of secret loans to keep the company from failing before the acquisition closed, central bank data show. The loans were made through a program set up to provide emergency funding to brokerage firms.
‘Regulatory Discretion’

“Some might claim that the Fed was picking winners and losers, but what the Fed was doing was exercising its professional regulatory discretion,” says John Dearie, a former speechwriter at the New York Fed who’s now executive vice president for policy at the Financial Services Forum, a Washington-based group consisting of the CEOs of 20 of the world’s biggest financial firms. “The Fed clearly felt it had what it needed within the requirements of the law to continue to lend to Bear and Wachovia.”

The bill introduced by Brown and Kaufman in April 2010 would have mandated shrinking the six largest firms.

“When a few banks have advantages, the little guys get squeezed,” Brown says. “That, to me, is not what capitalism should be.”

Kaufman says he’s passionate about curbing too-big-to-fail banks because he fears another crisis.

‘Can We Survive?’

“The amount of pain that people, through no fault of their own, had to endure — and the prospect of putting them through it again — is appalling,” Kaufman says. “The public has no more appetite for bailouts. What would happen tomorrow if one of these big banks got in trouble? Can we survive that?”

Lobbying expenditures by the six banks that would have been affected by the legislation rose to $29.4 million in 2010 compared with $22.1 million in 2006, the last full year before credit markets seized up — a gain of 33 percent, according to OpenSecrets.org, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, OpenSecrets.org reported.

Lobbyists argued the virtues of bigger banks. They’re more stable, better able to serve large companies and more competitive internationally, and breaking them up would cost jobs and cause “long-term damage to the U.S. economy,” according to a Nov. 13, 2009, letter to members of Congress from the FSF.

The group’s website cites Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver E. Williamson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, for demonstrating the greater efficiency of large companies.
‘Serious Burden’

In an interview, Williamson says that the organization took his research out of context and that efficiency is only one factor in deciding whether to preserve too-big-to-fail banks.

“The banks that were too big got even bigger, and the problems that we had to begin with are magnified in the process,” Williamson says. “The big banks have incentives to take risks they wouldn’t take if they didn’t have government support. It’s a serious burden on the rest of the economy.”

The Moral Hazard.

Dearie says his group didn’t mean to imply that Williamson endorsed big banks.

Top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration sided with the FSF in arguing against legislative curbs on the size of banks.
Geithner, Kaufman

On May 4, 2010, Geithner visited Kaufman in his Capitol Hill office. As president of the New York Fed in 2007 and 2008, Geithner helped design and run the central bank’s lending programs. The New York Fed supervised four of the six biggest U.S. banks and, during the credit crunch, put together a daily confidential report on Wall Street’s financial condition. Geithner was copied on these reports, based on a sampling of e- mails released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

At the meeting with Kaufman, Geithner argued that the issue of limiting bank size was too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions, Kaufman says. According to Kaufman, Geithner said he preferred that bank supervisors from around the world, meeting in Basel, Switzerland, make rules increasing the amount of money banks need to hold in reserve. Passing laws in the U.S. would undercut his efforts in Basel, Geithner said, according to Kaufman.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Geithner, declined to comment.
‘Punishing Success’

Lobbyists for the big banks made the winning case that forcing them to break up was “punishing success,” Brown says. Now that they can see how much the banks were borrowing from the Fed, senators might think differently, he says.

The Fed supported curbing too-big-to-fail banks, including giving regulators the power to close large financial firms and implementing tougher supervision for big banks, says Fed General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. The Fed didn’t take a position on whether large banks should be dismantled before they get into trouble.

Dodd-Frank does provide a mechanism for regulators to break up the biggest banks. It established the Financial Stability Oversight Council that could order teetering banks to shut down in an orderly way. The council is headed by Geithner.

“Dodd-Frank does not solve the problem of too big to fail,” says Shelby, the Alabama Republican. “Moral hazard and taxpayer exposure still very much exist.”
Below Market

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, says banks “were either in bad shape or taking advantage of the Fed giving them a good deal. The former contradicts their public statements. The latter — getting loans at below-market rates during a financial crisis — is quite a gift.”

The Fed says it typically makes emergency loans more expensive than those available in the marketplace to discourage banks from abusing the privilege. During the crisis, Fed loans were among the cheapest around, with funding available for as low as 0.01 percent in December 2008, according to data from the central bank and money-market rates tracked by Bloomberg.

The Fed funds also benefited firms by allowing them to avoid selling assets to pay investors and depositors who pulled their money. So the assets stayed on the banks’ books, earning interest.

Banks report the difference between what they earn on loans and investments and their borrowing expenses. The figure, known as net interest margin, provides a clue to how much profit the firms turned on their Fed loans, the costs of which were included in those expenses. To calculate how much banks stood to make, Bloomberg multiplied their tax-adjusted net interest margins by their average Fed debt during reporting periods in which they took emergency loans.
Added Income

The 190 firms for which data were available would have produced income of $13 billion, assuming all of the bailout funds were invested at the margins reported, the data show.

The six biggest U.S. banks’ share of the estimated subsidy was $4.8 billion, or 23 percent of their combined net income during the time they were borrowing from the Fed. Citigroup would have taken in the most, with $1.8 billion.

“The net interest margin is an effective way of getting at the benefits that these large banks received from the Fed,” says Gerald A. Hanweck, a former Fed economist who’s now a finance professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

While the method isn’t perfect, it’s impossible to state the banks’ exact profits or savings from their Fed loans because the numbers aren’t disclosed and there isn’t enough publicly available data to figure it out.

Opinsky, the JPMorgan spokesman, says he doesn’t think the calculation is fair because “in all likelihood, such funds were likely invested in very short-term investments,” which typically bring lower returns.
Standing Access

Even without tapping the Fed, the banks get a subsidy by having standing access to the central bank’s money, says Viral Acharya, a New York University economics professor who has worked as an academic adviser to the New York Fed.

“Banks don’t give lines of credit to corporations for free,” he says. “Why should all these government guarantees and liquidity facilities be for free?”

In the September 2008 meeting at which Paulson and Bernanke briefed lawmakers on the need for TARP, Bernanke said that if nothing was done, “unemployment would rise — to 8 or 9 percent from the prevailing 6.1 percent,” Paulson wrote in “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010).
Occupy Wall Street

The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.

The Tea Party, which supports a more limited role for government, has its roots in anger over the Wall Street bailouts, says Neil M. Barofsky, former TARP special inspector general and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor.

“The lack of transparency is not just frustrating; it really blocked accountability,” Barofsky says. “When people don’t know the details, they fill in the blanks. They believe in conspiracies.”

In the end, Geithner had his way. The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.

They take full effect in 2019.

Meanwhile, Kaufman says, “we’re absolutely, totally, 100 percent not prepared for another financial crisis.”(Bloomberg)

Feel better now? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

What You’re Up Against

“Part of my platform is, of course, the guilty must be punished and that we no longer let our children see their guilty leaders getting away with murder. Because it teaches children, you know, that they don’t have to have any morals as long as they have guns and are bullies and I don’t think that’s a good message,” Barr told Russia Today (RT).

“I do say that I am in favor of the return of the guillotine and that is for the worst of the worst of the guilty.

“I first would allow the guilty bankers to pay, you know, the ability to pay back anything over $100 million [of] personal wealth because I believe in a maximum wage of $100 million. And if they are unable to live on that amount of that amount then they should, you know, go to the reeducation camps and if that doesn’t help, then being beheaded,” Barr said with a straight face.

Mind you, all the Liberals, like Barney Frank who are equally if not more so, responsible for this mess are completely outside of her universe.

And don’t worry, it’s the conservatives and Tea Partiers who are the violent psychopaths who just want to destroy with their racist rhetotic, after all. 🙂

And she has an estimated net worth of $80 million dollars so she fine with herself being very, very rich.

Frances Fox Piven (at the Wall Street lynching rallies): I think we desperately need a popular uprising in the United States.

Yeah, the current one you don’t like, so they don’t count, they are called the Tea Party. 🙂

Isn’t ideological orthodoxy fun. 🙂

Bill Maher: wants to know the exact date former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose days are “numbered,” will die so he can call the catering for a death celebration party of some sort.

More Bile from that Liberal Bastion of  “journalists” at MSNBC:

O’donnell: “the Republican Party of the 21st Century, if we are to judge by the debate audiences, has obviously lost its soul.”

So along with racist, mean,vicious,unpatriotic, the opposition to Democrats are now souless.

Anyone for “negotiating” for a “compromise” with such people. 🙂

The “Super” Committee

Democrats want tax hikes to be the first item negotiated in “super committee” deficit-reduction talks, trying to force Republicans to confront an issue at the heart of this year’s budget fights, sources told Reuters.

In other words, they want to play political games and create TV ads to shame the Republicans into doing what they want so that they win the fight and do nothing substantive like CUTTING SPENDING. Gee, no one saw that coming… 🙂

The panel has the task of finding ways of cutting the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

That’s $120 Billion a year.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $3.89 billion per day since September 28, 2007.

These idiots will spend that in a month. Ohh! Look we’re doing something. Now we’ll just be overspending 11 months of the year! Hurray!! 😦

We need to cut Trillions in One Year ya morons!

But Washington politicians of any stripe will never do it. But the Liberals surely never will.

During the super committee’s initial closed-door meetings, “Republicans wanted to just talk about spending cuts and Democrats said, ‘No,'” the aide said.

So bend over and spread ’em wide the galactic sized smoke machine is about to go right up your backside. Meanwhile they will be stealing your wallet.

ObamaCare

  Following two major studies revealing that millions of businesses — big and small — will dump their employees’ healthcare plans once Obamacare fully kicks in, an ebullient Howard Dean extolled that outcome.

Dean calls this “incredibly good”news for small businesses because they’ll no longer have to pay for their employees’ plans.  Setting aside the fact that this is an obvious breach of Obama’s dishonest “like your plan/keep your plan” pledge, another reality is that all of those employees will have to get their healthcare somewhere — and that somewhere will be on the government-subsidized exchanges.  This, in turn, will cost billions upon billions of additional dollars.  Plus, in light of Obamacare’s individual mandate and guaranteed issue rules, a lot of people will pay the relatively low non-compliance fine until they really need “insurance” (by that point, it’s no longer really insurance), at which point the health insurance companies will be forced to take these patients.  In order to make up for those hits to their bottom lines and stay in business, insurers will raise premiums on everyone else.

The health-insurance premiums employers pay rose sharply this year, with the average annual cost of family coverage passing the $15,000 mark for the first time, according to a major survey.  The 9% average increase, reported in an annual poll of employers performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, comes despite a continued trend toward more limited use of medical services in the U.S. Last year, family premiums rose just 3%, the survey found. Employers’ average annual family premium for 2011 was $15,073, up from $13,770 last year

Thanks, Obamacare!  The reason that Dean is so cheery over this devastating news is that once enough employers drop their coverage, and anger over premium increases reaches a critical mass, he and his fellow Leftists will be poised to swoop in an push single-payer health care as the only solution.  This is, and has always been, their long-term goal And “they” includes Barack Obama.  Toss in crippling doctor shortages, huge middle class tax hikes, startling coverage oversights, and ramped up bureaucratic rationing, and it becomes fairly clear why support for repeal is as stable and robust as it is.  Republicans might get that shot after 2012.  Until then, they may have to keep their fingers crossed that the Supremes will grease the skids substantially.

If Obamacare falls, what alternative will Republicans propose?  Rep. Paul Ryan gave a major address at Stanford University this week, in which he outlined a free-market, cost-lowering healthcare reform package.  The Wall Street Journal editorial board and healthcare policy expert Avik Roy applaud the tent pole of Ryan’s plan, as described by CNN Money’s Shawn Tully:

Ryan argues that the tax laws make it far cheaper for a corporation to purchase coverage for workers than for the worker to buy a similar policy on their own. He’s correct. For example, ABK Auto Parts (a hypothetical employer) can provide a worker with a $50,000 salary with a $15,000 family policy without including that $15,000 in the worker’s compensation, so the benefit is tax-free to the employee. Under the current tax regime, if the company simply increased the worker’s salary by $15,000 to $65,000, he or she would have to pay tax on that extra income — say at a 25% rate, including payroll levies. Hence, the worker would be to buy only an $11,250 policy with the extra pay. “This tilts the compensation scale toward benefits, which are tax-free, and away from wages, which are taxable,” the speech says.

He also argues that the system is especially helpful to the “rich:” “It also provides ways for high-income earners to artificially reduce their tax-able income by purchasing high-cost health coverage — which in turn can fuel the overuse of health services.” So what’s Ryan’s solution? He proposes shifting the tax exemption that now goes only to company-provided plans to individuals instead. In our example, if ABK Auto Parts keeps providing coverage, employees will need to pay tax on the value of the policies. But the employee will be able to buy a policy on their own and get a tax credit for the entire cost of the plan.

If Ryan’s plan becomes law, it’s likely that most companies would drop their plans. Why provide coverage when employees now pay tax on the benefit but get a tax credit if they buy their own plans? The advantage is that employees would no longer lose their coverage if they lose their jobs. The policies would belong to them and be fully portable to the next job. It would also turn workers into consumers, giving them an incentive to shop for the lowest cost plans with their own money.

 

But since it comes from the Son of the Devil, you forget about anyone on the left in politics or the media saying anything but nuclear war style crap bombs about it.

Democrats, it goes without saying, are licking their chops to demagogue this plan, as Obama successfully did in 2008.  It’s what they do best:  Scare the hell out of people by lying about conservative solutions, then angrily insist that big government fixes are the only safe, responsible options.  One wonders if the American public is wising up to this scam, especially in light of how magnificently Democrats statist “solutions” have turned out over the last three years. (Guy Benson)

I have been saying a lot of this for 2 years. So I am in agreement with the analysis.

But don’t worry, if you object you’re just a mean old heartless racist. No big deal 🙂

Now don’t you feel better. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino

Political Cartoons by Ken Catalino