Archive for the ‘Fascism in America’ Category

At Least I Don’t Live in San Francisco

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

If you think your world is weird, viagra canada sildenafil imagine living in San Francisco.

2010 Voter Guide

By Jim Anderson, generic viagra cialis Silicon Valley Bank

Every couple of years the public officials in San Francisco send commentators like me a gift, titled with uncharacteristic humility, “Voter Information Pamphlet & Sample Ballot – City and County of San Francisco.” As I carefully read through the 192 pages I feel like I’m watching one of those Saturday Night Live reruns. You know, the ones in which the satirical commercials are so realistic you can’t tell if they are a joke. Then I catch myself — after all, no one would write 192 pages of satire.

There are a number of important items and candidates on the ballot. One of them even caught the eye of a famous venture capitalist and was profiled in his editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Then there is proposition measure C, which would “require the Mayor to appear in person” at a Board of Supervisors meeting once a month to “engage in formal policy discussions with the Board.” Now, the Mayor is permitted to come to any board meeting and take the floor to speak with the supervisors about anything he wants, but he has chosen not to. Perhaps the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors don’t have a great working relationship. I’m not sure amending the city charter is the best way to solve that problem. I vote no.

Proposition D is also a good one. It will permit non-citizens to vote in San Francisco elections. This came up a few years ago and lost. I’m OK with this idea so long as we San Franciscans can vote in other cities’ elections. The only tough part is deciding which ones. Maybe we could use our sister city relationships as a starting point. San Francisco has 13 sister cities and I’ve no doubt there is a luxuriously staffed city department to maintain and augment these connections. I’m also fairly certain that the Mayor and other city officials may need to travel to Abidjan, Cork, Assisi, Caracas, Haifa, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Manila, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei and Zurich, from time to time to see how our sisters are faring.

Now, securing the right to vote in all these other locales may be difficult, not to mention the cost of translating their voter guides into English, Spanish, Japanese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Mandarin and Korean as would be required here in San Francisco. Zurich might be especially tough. The Swiss don’t fool around when it comes to their democracy. I am particularly disappointed that we do not have a sister city in France. I think the Mayor and supervisors should jet off on a fact-finding mission to Nîmes as soon as possible to see if the French might be interested. At any rate, I decide to vote no on D until I know where else I will get the right to vote.

Proposition I is to permit Saturday voting. With pervasive access to absentee ballots on a permanent basis I’m not sure this is necessary. Besides, I like the idea of people taking time off work to vote. It sends the right cultural message about our priorities as citizens. I vote no.

Propositions J and K seem very similar. One is the “Hotel Tax Clarification and Temporary Increase” and the other is “Hotel Tax Clarification and Definitions.” I had no idea there was so much confusion about hotel taxes that it would require two ballot measures to clarify them. Actually one measure will raise hotel taxes while the other leaves them unchanged. I’m not clear on why we need a ballot measure to not change something. Initially, I don’t have a strong view on this as higher taxes on those millionaire and billionaire tourists is ok with me. This is the famous theory of taxation articulated by the late Senator Russell Long as, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that man behind the tree.”

But there is more. Proposition J would also recover taxes from Internet booking sites that collect taxes from customers, but may not always pay them to the municipalities. Buying months of hotel rooms, Expedia and Travelocity could argue that they qualify as “permanent residents” of San Francisco and thus are exempt from the tax. (At this point I’m wondering whether Expedia and Travelocity as permanent residents, albeit, non-human ones, would be permitted to vote as non-citizens under Proposition D.)

Proposition K also contains what we call here a “poison pill” provision to kill off the competing Proposition J if both should pass. Reading through the poison pill I marvel at the creativity behind its invention. If only that same entrepreneurial flair could be applied to city services. I vote yes on K to encourage more creativity in government.

Now let’s turn to the candidates. I always find this challenging because I never know any of the people running. I have a few guidelines to help me. In general, I vote against all incumbents, except those who are trying to change things. Of course, once they get comfortable in office they seem to lose interest in making any changes. I would also vote for them if I thought the city was well-managed. It is not. I read the bios and tend to vote for engineers, scientists and business people. I feel they are more likely to bring a logical, pragmatic approach to solving the city’s problems. I do keep track of my votes, however, and I can confide here that no one I’ve ever voted for in San Francisco has been elected to anything.

One oddity in our ballot is that we can rank candidates in order of preference: first, second and third. This invention was designed to avoid expensive run-off elections if no one got a clear majority. Unfortunately, for the job of assessor-recorder there are only two candidates running. The job of public defender is even better. There is only one candidate. I skip that one.

Choosing school board members is quite demanding because there are so many candidates. As a point of background, the San Francisco Unified School District is not that bad. The dropout rate is only 18 percent and Lowell High School is ranked 28th nationally. But they are not succeeding with their customers: parents and students. The district loses about 400-500 students per year to the suburbs and private schools. That is the equivalent of shutting down one grade school every year. Still, the budget seems to grow each year — especially the administrative budget. Almost 50 percent of SFUSD budget dollars are spent on items other than teachers, books and classrooms. Given those facts, I feel comfortable voting against all the incumbents.

There is one new candidate for school board in my polling area that catches my eye named Starchild. The occupation is listed as erotic service provider.” (I’m not making this up.) Oddly, Starchild has some excellent ideas, such as making teacher pay higher than administrator pay and allowing students to attend their first choice schools. When popular schools are full, Starchild would open new schools run by a core of the teachers from the successful schools. I like that idea so he/she gets my vote. As you may have guessed, Starchild’s bio is gender neutral.

If we redefine corruption as taking public money and wasting it rather than using it for personal purposes, San Francisco is easily one of the most corrupt cities in the U.S. The annual budget is a whopping $6.6 billion or $8,033 for each of the 815,358 residents. This is the highest per capita spending of any major city in the U.S. The average city worker receives $120,000 per year in wages and benefits. For comparison, Los Angeles has a budget of $7.1 billion for more than four times the population. In fact, there are enough city workers in San Francisco for every family of four to have a personal assistant from the city three days per month. Maybe I should call up the mayor and have him send my guy over. I need some help cleaning out the garage.

Obamanomics: No Price is too High, No Right too Holy

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

GM’s Next Bankruptcy

By Jim Anderson, buy viagra stuff Silicon Valley Bank

We enjoyed the General Motor’s TV ads last April when CEO Edward Whitacre proclaimed they had repaid 100 percent of the debt to taxpayers ahead of schedule. This glorious achievement of modern industrial policy was even trumpeted from the White House as Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweeted, viagra viagra “GM pays back US $6.7 billion used to save jobs…5 years ahead of schedule.”

Later it was determined that the debt repayment was accomplished not with cash flow from operations, but by drawing down additional TARP funds according to TARP administrator Neil Barosky. It was disappointing that GM still had such little respect for the intelligence of the taxpayers who are, after all, potential customers.

In a bankruptcy process that would have made Hugo Chavez proud, the administration’s political supporters at the UAW were granted 17.5 percent of the equity. The Canadian government received 11.7 percent and the Feds took control of 61 percent. The hapless bondholders who actually had the legal claim to the assets were left out of the negotiations and picked up the residual 9.8 percent. When the dust settled GM had $23.5 billion in cash and only $5.3 billion in long-term debt.

We suppose the turnaround is pretty remarkable as the company served up a six-month profit of $2.2 billion on sales of $64 billion. Management did have the benefit of walking away from $46 billion in debt obligations. In essence, they received some $60 billion in operating assets without ever having to pay for them. Sweet deal. A brief review of the S-1 filing revealed, however, some obligations that were preserved at 100 cents on the dollar, notably the pension obligation to the UAW which is still accreting now up to $26 billion. The marked drop in “Other post retirement benefits” from $29 billion to $8.6 billion is the healthcare benefits that were swapped for the aforementioned 17.5 percent ownership position of a UAW Trust.*

In July, a colleague sent us this headline,”GM buys subprime lender for $3.5 billion.” As part of the deal, GMAC, its old finance arm, was separated and rescued with $17 billion of taxpayer funds. The Feds now own 56 percent and about $10 billion in preferred stock. Renamed Ally Bank, the new GMAC provides car financing for Chrysler and GM, but tends to set credit standards above subprime as they work through massive losses from old-GM car customers and old-GMAC’s foray into the subprime mortgage business. Hence, GM’s need for the taxpayers to buy them a new, captive subprime car lender for the new GM. As they say, your tax dollars at work.

With the banks largely paying back their TARP funds with interest and the government taking gains on the warrants, speculation has turned to the denouement of the takeover of most of the U.S. auto sector. Much of the analysis has been prompted by GM’s pending IPO. Although there has not been a complete accounting for $110 billion of tax dollars committed to the sector which included Chrysler, GM, GMAC, their various suppliers and $7.5 billion to subsidized the development of “green automobiles,” the hope is that some of this will be returned now that the “recession is over.”

In order to recover the $52 billion invested to save GM and the UAW, the IPO shares would need to fetch $134 each according to the Wall Street Journal. The deal, which is expected to come to market in November, is not priced yet, but we suspect that $134 is well above the high end of any range.

Using Ford as a proxy as it is only slightly larger than GM, ($133 billion in sales versus $129 billion), and more profitable, (EBIT of $8.6 billion compared to $5.8 billion at GM), we can get some idea of what is in store for our investment. Ford has a market capitalization of $43 billion or 5 times EBIT. That implies that GM might be worth as much as $29 billion. So our $52 billion to buy 61 percent ownership would round out to $18 billion or a loss of a cool $34 billion. But then we did preserve 96,000 jobs albeit, in my opinion, at uncompetitive and unsustainable wages and benefits. This brings us to our last point.

At GM the seeds of the next bankruptcy and bailout are already germinating. (Recall that for Chrysler this is the second go thanks to the largess of taxpayers.) When the bailout deal was cut the United Auto Workers crowed that, “For our active members these tentative changes mean no loss in your hourly base, no reduction in your healthcare, and no reduction in pensions.” Once GM is public and if profits continue, we will find out how tentative the union concessions really were.

* General Motors, Form S-1 Registration Statement, August 18, 2010.

Obama Edits Declaration of Independence

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Obama:
I’m not a socialist.
I’m not a fascist.
I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.

It would appear that Obama plans to rewrite the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, generic cialis check that all men are created equal BUT SOME MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS AS DETERMINED BY BARACK OBAMA, generic viagra patient that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, UNLESS MADE ALIENABLE BY BARACK OBAMA, that among these are Life, Liberty EXCEPT IF FOR LIBERTY RELATED TO WEALTH, PROPERTY AND THE PRODUCT OF ONES DAYS (AND HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH INSURANCE) , and the pursuit of Happiness EXCEPT AS MAY BE LIMITED BY THE FOREGOING.

Prosecuting John Galt

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

This is another from Silicon Valley Bank’s SVB Financial Group. I wonder what Paulson & Co is shorting now.

FULL ARTICLE:

A Nation of Losers?
By Jim Anderson, cialis sales discount Silicon Valley Bank

We have no idea whether Goldman Sachs did anything illegal or not. We suspect that these charges will fade away once their political usefulness has evaporated. They will pay a meaningful fine “without admitting or denying any wrongdoing” as is the common practice in these situations.

The politics behind the case, cialis canada find if any, remain inscrutable, but conspiracy aficionados are pointing to the odd timing at a critical juncture in the financial regulations debate and the first-time-ever, 100-percent partisan split vote by the SEC board to bring the case forward. A few days after the unrepentant Goldman executives calmly displayed their extraordinary IQs in the face of numerous profanity-laced senatorial tirades, rumors of criminal charges were leaked to the press. The unfortunate timing put a dent in the government’s claim of independence from political expediency.

At this point what happens in federal court is secondary. The real action is in the court of public opinion where Goldman, a long-time supporter of the Obama administration and a serial source of Treasury secretaries for many administrations, is being tried for “betting against the American economy.” More specifically, after years of facilitating government housing policy by securitizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac inspired subprime and Alt-A mortgages, Goldman reacted to that market backing up and began to manage its own risk aggressively. So their real crime was betting against the probability that poorly underwritten mortgage loans granted to unqualified borrowers would get repaid on schedule.

Just in case you’ve recently return from ski trip in Antarctica, the case revolves around a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO Abacus 2007-AC1). The presentation material on Abacus 2007-AC1 contained nine pages of disclosures, disclaimers and risk factors. Goldman constructed this CDO to satisfy the requirements of two groups of investors. One group, Paulson & Co., was looking for a way to short bonds backed by subprime mortgages. The others were looking for increased exposure to the U.S. housing market.

Please note that a synthetic CDO does not actually contain any mortgages or bonds. It only references other mortgage bonds and the returns to investors reflect the performance of those referenced bonds. Think of it as playing fantasy baseball where your team of players does not actually exist. The success of your team depends on the performance of your reference players every day.

The bonds referenced in Abacus 2007-AC1 were all rated AAA by Moody’s and S&P and the returns looked attractive for that risk profile. So IKB and ABN AMRO invested. ABN AMRO, a sophisticated Dutch bank, lost $841 million. IKB Deutsche Industriebank, a small regional middle-market lender in Germany, had created a subsidiary called Rhinebridge specifically to invest in U.S. subprime mortgages. They lost $150 million on Abacus 2007-AC1 and much more on other subprime plays. The bank became the subject of a ?5 billion rescue and was the first subprime-related bank failure. On the other side of this side bet, Paulson & Co. made a $1 billion profit.

And, oh yes, Goldman lost a cool $100 million of their own money on Abacus. Then they started hedging aggressively, but it was too late. Total losses for the firm during the crisis were $9.1 billion, all of which was replaced by new equity raised in the private markets before the TARP program existed. Shouldn’t we be applauding the fact that Goldman was smart enough to see the emerging risks and take corrective action saving the taxpayers the obligation to breathe life into yet another zombie bank?

Under the moral construct currently in vogue in Congress, if Goldman Sachs is to be castigated as a villain for working to hedge their subprime risk once it became apparent, then what are we to think of Wachovia and Washington Mutual? After all, they lost a combined $107 billion supporting the government’s program to expand homeownership for low-income families. To recall the famous admonition of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank in September 2003, Wachovia and WaMu were “rolling the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.” Should we think of Wachovia and WaMu as heroes for selflessly sacrificing their shareholders and bondholders to support a misguided government policy?

There are a couple conclusions we can take away from these events. First, the good senators working on reforming our financial system are struggling mightily with little apparent success to build some meaningful understanding of that system. Second, if the U.S. government had a risk management function as well developed as Goldman Sachs’, they may never have “rolled the dice” in the first place.

According to estimates by former Fannie Chief Credit Officer Edward Pinto, the low-income housing policy drove Fan and Fred to promote the underwriting and acquisition of more than $2.7 trillion in dodgy mortgages. Where would we be today if Fannie and Freddie had rejected the strategy of their congressional overseers as unacceptably risky? Maybe if we could retain Chester Paulson of Paulson & Co. as an advisor to give us some guidance on mitigating future systemic risk resulting from massive government intervention in the financial markets.

Finally, if Goldman is the villain for doing the smart thing are we now as a nation on the side of the incompetent — the losers?

The Unreported Story of Freddie and Fannie

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

This is from Silicon Valley Bank’s SVB Financial Group. It’s disturbing – almost as disturbing as the fact that it goes unreported. Of course, tadalafil see that fact is itself only a shadow of the horror of the reality that our country is too engaged in class warfare (i.e. blaming Wall Street) to even bother taking notice.

FULL ARTICLE:

March Mortgage Madness
By Jim Anderson, doctor Silicon Valley Bank

When asked at a recent economic summit at Stanford if the administration would begin to tackle the problem of mortgage behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Director of the Obama Administration’s National Economic Council Larry Summers explained that, “(T)hese are not profit making entities.” He went on to say that any effort to make significant changes in the next few years would be “highly problematic” for the housing market and the economy in general.

Recall that Fannie and Freddie were the original source of the sub-prime mortgage concept that evolved into the global financial conflagration. Today they own or guarantee $5.3 trillion or about 50 percent of all the existing mortgages in the U.S. More importantly, about 90 percent of all mortgage originations in the U.S. will pass into the hands of these two companies. They remain the largest recipients of bailout cash — the limit of $400 billion in taxpayer support that was committed when they went into conservatorship in September 2008 was lifted last year by Treasury Secretary Geithner.

Part of the problem in the housing market today is that the only source of financing are these two congressional creations and they are in deep financial trouble. Mismanaged for years, with any meaningful oversight effectively blocked by the House Financial Services Committee currently chaired by Barney Frank, today they carry the extreme profiles of risk-taking excess that has so often been laid at the feet of Wall Street firms. Freddie Mac has total assets of $841 billion with shareholders equity of $4.4 billion. That is leverage of 191 times — a level that Lehman’s outcast CEO, Dick Fuld, could only dream about. Fannie Mae is even better. They have total assets of $869 billion and a negative net worth of $15 billion. To capitalize these two properly would require an additional infusion of $216 billion from taxpayers.

So how does all this play out in the real world? I know of one unfortunate couple that is trying to refinance their first mortgage. The loan-to-value is about 39 percent. The credit scores of the joint mortgagees are both above 800. The total mortgage amount is less than twice their combined annual income exclusive of bonuses. They have liquid assets sufficient to pay off the entire mortgage tomorrow and they have no other indebtedness. They dutifully filled out a detailed application at Bank of America in January. What followed was a blizzard of 46 emails requesting additional documentation and proof of everything on the application. After 90 days and delivering over 100 pages of background material, the couple asked in frustration, “Who needs all this information?” BofA’s equally frustrated representative explained that it intends to sell the mortgage once it is closed and that the investor needed all the details. The obvious next question was, “Who is the investor?” Answer: Fannie Mae.

So how does their experience dovetail with the constant stream of headlines about mortgage activity? Here is a sample from the last week or so:

Mortgage Assistance for Unemployed Announced: The Obama administration today announced new measures to provide mortgage assistance for unemployed homeowners and encourage lenders to reduce principal on “underwater” mortgages when modifying loans for at-risk borrowers. — MortgageLoan.com

Bank of America to Write Off Principal on Some Mortgages: Bank of America (BofA) will forgive up to 30 percent of the balance owed on certain at-risk mortgages as part of its loan modification efforts to assist homeowners in avoiding foreclosure. — MortgageLoan.com

Chase Agrees to Modify Second Liens: JP Morgan Chase has become the third major lender to announce it will modify second-lien mortgages under the Obama Administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) — MortgageLoan.com

Half of U.S. Home Loan Modifications Default Again: More than half of U.S. borrowers who received loan modifications on delinquent mortgages defaulted again after nine months, according to a federal report. — Bloomberg

FBI Storms Loan Modification Company: State and federal agents raided the largest loan modification company in Arizona on Thursday. — Loan Modification News

[NOTE: Paragraph deleted.]

We find it disturbing that with all the calls for new, more politically-oriented oversight of the financial services industry, Congress has failed to address their own handiwork. Of the entire federal bailout program, Fannie and Freddie dwarf the combined total cost for the rest of the economy. According to CBO numbers, AIG is expected to have a final net cost of $9 billion, and the whole banking sector less than $30 billion. The other main components of the $99 billion in estimated principal losses from the $700 billion TARP program are $20 billion for mortgage modifications and $48 billion to bailout the United Auto Workers union through the good auspices of General Motors, Chrysler and their suppliers.

This brings up two core questions: Is there a private mortgage market in the U.S? And do we need one? The answer to the first query, as we have demonstrated, is no. The mortgage market in the U.S. is currently controlled by Congress and the Obama Administration. We think the answer to the second is a resounding yes. Until Fannie and Freddie get wound down, we will not have rational pricing or rational origination in mortgages.

Today there is no relationship between risk and return. The best, most concessionary terms go to the highest risks. Private investors will never be attracted to that profile, except with taxpayer guarantees which one day will reach a limit. Private mortgage originators, absent those guarantees, will never be able to compete. The ultimate irony is that the burden of the housing collapse on U.S. households and the accelerating foreclosure problem that the administration constantly worries about is being exacerbated by their own feckless policies. Until those underwater assets are properly priced, sold and put to use by economically viable owners, the property market will not be on the road to recovery.

Will Government Permit the Constitution to Save Us?

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

This was great. Op-Ed from Michael McConnell in the Wall Street Journal. Of course, viagra sale remedy hadn’t heard of him, discount viagra sale but he’s apparently a former federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, and is now a law professor at Stanford University as well as the director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center. I was heartened to find that there are still people like this in academia.

Full editorial below. Excerpt:

“No one doubts that the House can consolidate two bills in a single measure; the question is whether, having done so, it may then hive the resulting bill into two parts, treating one part as an enrolled bill ready for presidential signature and the other part as a House bill ready for senatorial consideration. That seems inconsistent with [Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution that stipulates] the president may sign only bills in the exact form that they have passed both houses.”

Will somebody actually bring this case before our senile country forgets? How will Obama, with his “all due respect for the separation of powers” react?

Full article:

The Health Vote and the Constitution—II
The House can’t approve the Senate bill in the same legislation by which it approves changes to the Senate bill.

By MICHAEL W. MCCONNELL

In just a few days the House of Representatives is expected to act on two different pieces of legislation: the Senate version of the health-care bill (the one that contains the special deals, “Cadillac” insurance plan taxes, and abortion coverage) and an amendatory bill making changes in the Senate bill. The House will likely adopt a “self-executing” rule that “deems” passage of the amendatory bill as enactment of the Senate bill, without an actual vote on the latter.

This enables the House to enact the Senate bill while appearing only to approve changes to it. The underlying Senate bill would then go to the president for signature, and the amendatory bill would go to the Senate for consideration under reconciliation procedures (meaning no filibuster).

This approach appears unconstitutional. Article I, Section 7 clearly states that bills cannot be presented to the president for signature unless they have been approved by both houses of Congress in the same form. If the House approves the Senate bill in the same legislation by which it approves changes to the Senate bill, it will fail that requirement.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the House Rules Committee and prime mover behind this approach, has released a letter from Yale Law School’s Jack Balkin asserting that a “rule which consolidates a vote on a bill and accompanying amendments, or, as in this case, a reconciliation measure and an amended bill, is within the House’s powers under Article I, Section 5, Clause 2.”

But that does not actually address the point at issue. No one doubts that the House can consolidate two bills in a single measure; the question is whether, having done so, it may then hive the resulting bill into two parts, treating one part as an enrolled bill ready for presidential signature and the other part as a House bill ready for senatorial consideration. That seems inconsistent with the principle that the president may sign only bills in the exact form that they have passed both houses. A combination of two bills is not in “the same form” as either bill separately.

Defenders of the Democratic strategy say that a self-executing rule has been used many times before by both parties. But never in this way. Most of the time a self-executing rule is used to incorporate amendments into a pending bill without actual votes on the amendments, where the bill is then subject to a final vote by the House and Senate. That usage may be a dodge around House rules, but it does not violate the Constitution. I am not aware of any instance where a self-executing rule has been used to send one bill to the president for signature and another to the Senate for consideration by means of a single vote.

Self-executing rules have also been used to increase the debt ceiling by virtue of adopting a budget resolution. That procedure is questionable, but because budget resolutions are not laws, this usage does not have the feature of using one vote to send a bill to the president and at the same time to send a different bill to the Senate. There may have been other questionable uses of self-executing rules, but not often enough or in prominent enough cases to establish a precedent that would overcome serious constitutional challenge.

Whether the courts would entertain such a challenge is a harder question. The “enrolled bill doctrine,” announced by the Supreme Court in Marshall Field v. Clark (1892), holds that the courts will not question whether a bill certified as having passed both houses of Congress was properly enacted. More recently, in United States v. Munoz-Flores (1990), in a footnote, the Supreme Court stated that Field concerned only the “evidence” the courts would consider in such a challenge and that when “a constitutional provision is implicated,” the enrolled bill doctrine would not apply. These holdings are not easy to reconcile. The D.C. Circuit, in a 1995 case, essentially said that it did not understand the Munoz-Flores footnote and thus would not follow it.

The Supreme Court might well hold that Field governs only questions of historical fact, while Munoz-Flores governs questions of constitutional interpretation. In Field, the question was what text passed the two houses of Congress; there was no doubt that only what the two houses passed could be treated as law. Here, by contrast, there will be no dispute about what occurred in the House; the question will be whether using a self-executing rule in this way is consistent with Article I, Section 7. It is one thing for the Supreme Court to defer to Congress on questions of what Congress did, and quite another to defer to Congress on the meaning of the Constitution. Indeed, in United States v. Ballin, decided the same year as Field, the Court ruled, “The Constitution empowers each House to determine its own rules of proceedings. It may not by its rules ignore constitutional restraints . . . .”

One thing is sure: To proceed in this way creates an unnecessary risk that the legislation will be invalidated for violation of Article I, Section 7. Will wavering House members want to use this procedure when there is a nontrivial probability that the courts will render their political sacrifice wasted effort? To hazard that risk, the House leadership must have a powerful motive to avoid a straightforward vote.

Obama Denies Tens of Thousands of Freedom of Information Requests

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The “transparent” government of President Obama has put the lid on itself. The Obama administration has hid behind exemptions stipulated in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to deny information requests from the media and Americans. The apparent intent of the FOIA is to deliver on the promise of transparent government. Instead, discount viagra store the government seems to use it as a shield to block what our over-paid civil servants see as prying eyes.

You’ll never guess how many times government denied FOIA requests in 2009 alone – the answer is probably well over 100,000 times. There is data on the number of times FOIA exemptions were exercised. That number is 466,872. However, the FOIA provides for 9 exemptions and more than one exemption may be used on any individual denial.

Here’s a great example of the FOIA in action, from the AP:

“The FAA claimed the same exemption to hold back nearly all records on its approval of an Air Force One flyover of New York City for publicity shots – a flight that prompted fears in the city of a Sept. 11-style attack. It also withheld internal communications during the aftermath of the public relations gaffe.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of single legitimate reason for the secrecy on something like this.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this is another excellent example of another Obama lie. See the chart below. Obama’s administration issued about 50% more denials than Bush’s — certainly not to say that the number of times Bush told citizens to “pound sand” was consistent with freedom in America.

FOIArequests

Note: Obama was president for 9 months in budget year 2009 and Bush for 3 months.

Add FOIA to the Obama administration’s other affronts to integrity and democracy: trading federal judgeships for congressional votes, the cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase, other vote buying, televised health care negotiations, and more.

Transparent as the Iron Curtain.

Poll: Government is a Threat to Freedom

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Score one for CNN. In a just released poll, viagra sales unhealthy CNN reports that 56% of Americans see the government’s size and power as an immediate threat to their personal rights and freedoms.

CNN Poll

cnnpoll

Americans have good reason to be fearful of “their” monstrous government:

  • Over 2 million federal employees excluding military and the USPS (with a significant increase under Obama)
  • $3.5 trillion dollars of spending (excluding TARP) – one fourth of GDP
  • Government takeovers of corporate behemoths AIG, advice GM, sale and Citigroup
  • Official nationalization of Fannie and Freddie, their hundreds of billions of mortgages, and the overwhelming majority of the mortgage finance industry
  • Full nationalization of the student loan market
  • Continued leftist moves to control fully 100% of Americans’ health care
  • Obama and Democrat maneuvering to cap and tax every aspect of everyday life through the politicized deceit of global warming
  • Hundreds of billions of repaid TARP funds now being utilized as a personal slush fund by Obama
  • Talk of a Federal national sales tax – a VAT in the United States of America
  • And of course, there’s the $12.6 TRILLION national debt which is 87% of GDP (and which Obama is growing by $1 TRILLION a year)
  • No plan or even current talk of attempting to remedy the doomed socialist entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security

Relative Growth of Federal Government

jmfed

Even 37% of government-loving Democrats are scared. Obama’s response: Americans want $1 TRILLION of more government.

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

Obama, Clinton, Schumer, Reid, Feinstein, Biden, Dodd Oppose Nuclear Option

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

“The tyranny of the majority. We need to sit down and work with each other. The Senate is deliberately designed to be less efficient. I pray God when the Democrats take back control we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing. They want their way every single time. They will change the rules, break the rules, and misread the Constitution so they will get their way.”

“This is the way democracy ends.”

Video Clip: You must watch this clip.

It’s not about the big spending, S.O.B. Bush neocons. It’s not about being hypocrites. It’s about being right.

Call your senators and representatives. No law – let alone a $1+ trillion one – should be passed this way.

House of Representatives:
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Senate
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Secret Republican Healthcare Plan

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

super-obama-man-thumb

Obama is on another media tour; this one to try, discount viagra clinic try again to pass $1.X trillion Obamacare.

(The “X” is a reference to the fact that the ten year “cost” of the bill includes 10 years of taxes but only 4-6 years of spending.)

Tuesday, click at one stop on the tour, Obama boldly proclaims in his signature “I’m just like you” mannerism:

“I’ve said to the Republicans; show me what you’ve got. You’ve been sitting on the sidelines criticizing what we’re proposing…you got a better idea, bring it on.”

Here’s a link to a fairly detailed proposal from the House Ways and Means Republican Committee. It’s dated November 5th, 2009. That’s almost three months before Obama’s latest claim that the Republicans have been sitting on the sidelines all this time. Of course, it’s also about 3 months before Obama made the same nihilist accusation on national television during his State of the Union address.

Now, I’m not supporting Republicans and especially not the Republican plan. I frankly think there is a strong case to make that government – especially the Federal government – should focus more on governing and less on extra-curricular activities that don’t seem to pop up in the Constitution (”interstate commerce” springboarding notwithstanding), be it healthcare or energy or any of the innumerable other decidedly non-governing roles we now pay big government to play.

However, it’s disingenuous to say the least to confuse opposition to a colossal expansion of government with nihilism or obstructionism. The Republicans are deliberately opposing Obamacare as a means, not an end. That definitionally is not nihilism. The intended end is the protection of healthcare, Americans’ freedom, and the fruits of Americans’ labor that would otherwise be destroyed by Obama and Obamacare. Oh, and probably the fiscal integrity of the nation as well as a prayer in hell to pay for the existing socialist programs we’re already saddled with (medicaid, social security, and medicare – including Bush’s prescription drug plan). It’s one thing to disagree over what the end should be, but it’s just another partisan lie from Obama to claim the Republicans are obstructionist nihilists as a function of that disagreement.

It’s a whole other lie to claim “the other guys” haven’t proposed a plan when they, in fact, have done exactly that. To try to sell that lie to the American people repeatedly is a real head-scratcher and to hear people repeat it makes me feel like an Orwellian character.