April 30, 2010

Rush To It While You Can

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:52 pm

Eight Days: Heckuva Job, Barry (will be available until next Friday afternoon).

Related, from the Note: “The Obama administration, like the rest of the country, was a beat behind. It took eight days before we began to see the full efforts of the federal government brought to bear.”

First Quarter 2010 GDP Post (Advance Estimate: An Annualized +3.2%; Windows 7 Recovery Continues)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:45 am

Note: This post originally went up at 8:15 this morning. It has been updated since the GDP report’s release and will stay at the top for the rest of the day.

______________________________________

8:15 a.m. — Well, this should be interesting. This is the first quarter after the “breakout” fourth quarter of 2009, which came in at an annualized 5.6% after revisions. The performance trailed post-recession “breakout” quarters during the Bush 43 and Reagan years.

An AP item I saw earlier this week but to which I don’t have a link had a prediction of an annualized +3.5% in its final paragraph. Also (again lacking link), Treasury’s Tim Geithner told one of the Sunday shows recently that the economy is growing at a faster pace than originally thought.

This WSJ item has an annualized guesstimate of +3.2%. DailyMarkets.com’s is +3.3%.

President Obama is going to speak after the release, which would seem to indicate that a) the administration has been tipped off as to what the number is; b) it’s probably in the neighborhood of what is being predicted, or better.

The news will be here at 8:30 a.m.

POReconomyRemainingShrinkage1Q10While the clock ticks down, it’s a good time to note that a 3.5% result today would mean that the economy has still only recovered about 70% of its shrinkage that occurred during the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy’s four-quarter POR Recession as Normal People Define It from the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009.

8:35 a.m.: The News – It’s 3.2% (full release with tables is here) –

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 5.6 percent.

Make that a slightly less than 70% recovery (see the table at the right).

More to come, with an initial guess based on industry reports I’ve seen in the past few weeks that Windows 7 and info processing continue to drive growth.

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UPDATE, 11:00 a.m.: The 3.2-point growth was largely driven by consumption (2.55 points). Private investment was 1.67 points, but almost all of it came from inventory change (1.57 points). Negatives included imports (.61), and government consumption/investment (0.37 points). The government “drag” is a bit misleading, because a lot of what is including in “consumption” is coming from dramatic increases in transfer payments such as unemployment benefits and food stamps (an example of which is coming in a later post; Update:Vote-Buying Has Come to This: Food Stamps for Well-Off College Students”).

As was the case in the fourth quarter, “Information processing equipment and software” was the hero, though not quite as dramatically. Though it only makes up 4.6% of the economy ($611.5 billion divided by $13.255 trillion at Table 3), its 0.56-point contribution to GDP represented 17.5% of all growth (0.56 divided by 3.2), and 34% of growth excluding the inventory element (0.56 divided by [3.2 - 1.57]). What I have been calling “the Windows 7 recovery” continues. If the fourth quarter revisions are similar to those that occurred during the first quarter, this area’s reported contribution to economic growth will be revised upward.

As I’ve mentioned before, a fundamental question in the outsized contribution of info processing and software to overall growth is whether the spending is on productivity enhancements designed to keep employment where it is (or lower), or whether it has to do with expansionary business initiatives. Given the jobs situation, you have to lean more towards the former than the latter.

Many other items on the investment side performed poorly, including nonresidential structures (-0.44 points), residential fixed investment (-0.29 points — STILL??), and transportation equipment (+0.01 points). With what are supposed to be the peak spring and summer construction seasons kicking in, this is not comforting.

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UPDATE 2, 11:45 a.m.: Put another way — Without the Windows 7 Recovery, we’d only be about 60% of the way back from the POR Economy trough instead of the less than 70% cited above.

Vote-Buying Has Come to This: Food Stamps for Well-Off College Students

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:35 am

FoodStampCardThe core news story was at the Daily Caller a month ago.

As is the case with any government program, the rules are complicated, but the bottom line is that a lot of college kids who don’t need them are signing up for and receiving Food Stamps — and it’s all perfectly legal. It’s also an absolutely outrageous, cynical, and transparent attempt to buy votes and create lifelong leftists.

I guess it’s not enough to give Food Stamps to people with $80,000 in the bank and a $300,000 home.

Tom Purcell, a syndicated humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, does get to a lot of key non-funny points about this development in between his riffs about subsisting on baked potatoes when he was in school (bolds are mine):

Whereas government-funded grub has long been available to the working poor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is eagerly expanding such benefits to college kids, too.

For starters, says The New York Times, the USDA has worked to take the stigma out of receiving government grub. It now calls food stamps “nutritional aid.”

… Though it’s not like college kids feel stigmatized by food stamps. Many can’t believe their good fortune. That’s because the USDA has made it easy for them, regardless of their socioeconomic background, to qualify. Many college kids are “poor” on paper even if they’re from well-to-do homes.

And if they live at home with Mom and Dad, they still may qualify — so long as they can show that Mom and Dad prepare only half of their meals.

And so it is that many are receiving a few hundred bucks a month in free grub.

… In any event, it would appear our government is eager to get more people hooked on government handouts — President Obama’s latest budget includes $72.5 billion for food stamps, almost double the amount from 2008.

And while most college kids figure they’d be dumb not to accept free grub if we taxpayers are dumb enough to let our government to pay for it, I offer a different take.

Nobody minds when his tax dough is used to help the working poor and others who are truly in need, but food stamps for college kids?

Let the spoiled moochers eat baked potatoes.

One additional item: The Daily Caller piece picked up this little tidbit from an Oregon advocacy site:

… federal financial aid including Pell grants, Perkins loans, Stafford loans and most work-study is not counted as income against student eligibility.

Oh, of course not. The only way you really hurt yourself is by working too much.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Fun with Numbers: GM *Payback* of Taxpayer Loans’) Is Up

ToyotaFordYesGMchryslerNo1109It’s here.

In addition to dealing with the bogus “payback” of government loans by Government/General Motors (also see Update below), the column notes:

  • The seriousness of Chrysler’s situation (including negative working capital of over $6 billion).
  • The Associated Press’s pathetic poll portrayed as a boost to “buy American” which really shows a “buy Ford and avoid GM” trend.
  • How the government’s accelerated emissions standards rules seem to give GM and Chrysler unwarranted breaks.

The bottom line in the industry right now is that despite government and media assistance, GM and Chrysler can only pretend to be performing well, while Ford and Toyota really are.

The column will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t won’t work until then) under the title “Contrasts in Carland” after the blackout expires.

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UPDATE: Instapundit has linked to the PJM column and writes (internal link was in original):

When I talked with Mark Tapscott yesterday, he called those GM bailout-payback commercials the most dishonest claims he’s seen in 30 years of covering politics and the auto industry. “It is a lie.”

That it is. And shame on the Wall Street Journal for letting GM’s Ed Whitacre get away with his op-ed column’s horse manure headline: “The GM Bailout: Paid Back in Full.” No it’s not.

Positivity: Supreme Court rules Mojave Desert Cross can stay

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:46 am

From Washington:

Apr 28, 2010 / 01:31 pm

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a federal court overstepped its boundaries in ordering the removal of a long-standing memorial cross in California’s Mojave Desert.

A white, seven-foot cross, which was erected as a memorial by the Veterans of Foreign Wars over 75 years ago in the Mojave National Preserve, will be allowed to stay.

Before today’s ruling, the cross was covered with a plywood box in accordance with a lower court’s order. A district court initially ruled that the cross had to be removed from the land.

Congress then enacted legislation ordering the Department of the Interior to transfer an acre of land which included the cross to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A former National Park Service employee, Frank Buono, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the agency refused to allow the erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby.

Supreme Court justices told the federal judges on Wednesday that they did not take sufficient notice of the government’s decision to transfer the land to private ownership, and that they went too far in ordering the removal of a congressionally endorsed war memorial.

The Supreme Court ruling was 5-4, with the more conservative justices being in the majority.

Justice Paul Stevens, who was one of the four justices who opposed the memorial, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that although he believed fallen soldiers deserve a memorial, in his opinion the government “cannot lawfully do so by continued endorsement of a starkly sectarian message.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who supported the ruling, countered Justice Stevens, saying that “Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion.”

Speaking on the wider implications of the memorial, Justice Kennedy stated that it also “evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

The Latest from the Organizing For America ‘Powerhouse’

Filed under: Activism,Scams — Tom @ 12:45 am

Earlier this month, the Democratic National Committee’s Organizing For American (OFA) group sent out what I estimate to be 50,000-65,000 e-mails inviting people to attend a celebration of ObamaCare’s passage. The event had an attendance (other than the program speakers) of maybe 50, and many of them were the old reliables who would show up at any leftist event. What they heard, as I noted earlier this month, is bigots on the left directing their usual attacks at anyone who disagrees with them on principle.

Yesterday, I received this gem, flagged as usual and accurately as spam, indicating just how low OFA is setting its sights:

OFAlookingForMasonSupport042810

Wow. Nine contributions.

Mason has a population of about 30,000, and there are probably 5,000 or so others not within the city limits who have a Mason mailing address and zip code. So OFA is hoping that about one out of every 4,000 Mason-zip residents forks over a five.

Put another way, Team OFA hopes that out of roughly 1,400 e-mail recipients (4% of roughly 36,000 residents, based on OFA’s alleged nationwide e-mail list of 13 million in a country with a population of 309 million), throws ‘em 5 bucks. That’s about one contribution per 155 recipients.

I’m blown away … by OFA’s grass-roots ineffectiveness bordering on virtual irrelevance — except to the establishment press, which will keep the sham going as long as it possibly can.

April 29, 2010

Obama Repeats the Big Arizona Immigration Enforcement Law Lie; Who in the Press Will Call Him on It?

An unbylined Associated Press item carried at NPR quotes President Obama as follows about Arizona’s recently enacted immigration law-enforcement measure:

ObamaQuoteOnAZimmigrationLaw042910

The president is repeating a blatant falsehood about the Arizona law that has gained instant currency in the establishment press and leftist circles. It has no basis in fact or in the legislation Grand Canyon State Governor Jan Brewer recently signed.

You don’t have to go any further than the 20th line of the law (downloadable at this Constitution Law Prof Blog post) to see that Obama and his fellow critics are wrong:

AZlawImmigrationPage1Lines14to26

Kris Kobach at the Washington Times, Byron York at the Washington Examiner, and Andrew McCarthy at National Review have all addressed what “lawful contact” means and how it apples to the Arizona law:

(Kobach)

The law requires aliens to carry identification that they weren’t already required to carry. On the contrary, the law simply penalizes aliens who fail to carry the registration documents that federal law already requires them to keep on their person.

… The law only kicks in when a police officer already has made a “lawful contact” with a person, such as stopping him for breaking another law. The most likely contact is during the issuance of a speeding ticket. The law does not require the officer to begin questioning a person about his immigration status or to do anything the officer would not otherwise do.

Only after a stop is made, and subsequently the officer develops reasonable suspicion on his own that an immigration law has been violated, is any obligation imposed.

(York)

Has anyone actually read the law? Contrary to the talk, it is a reasonable, limited, carefully-crafted measure designed to help law enforcement deal with a serious problem in Arizona. Its authors anticipated criticism and went to great lengths to make sure it is constitutional and will hold up in court. It is the criticism of the law that is over the top, not the law itself.

The law requires police to check with federal authorities on a person’s immigration status, if officers have stopped that person for some legitimate reason and come to suspect that he or she might be in the U.S. illegally.

… What fewer people have noticed is the phrase “lawful contact,” which defines what must be going on before police even think about checking immigration status. “That means the officer is already engaged in some detention of an individual because he’s violated some other law,” says Kris Kobach …

… As far as “reasonable suspicion” is concerned, there is a great deal of case law dealing with the idea, but in immigration matters, it means a combination of circumstances that, taken together, cause the officer to suspect lawbreaking. It’s not race — Arizona’s new law specifically says race and ethnicity cannot be the sole factors in determining a reasonable suspicion.

(McCarthy)

Maybe that’s the Obama administration’s problem with Arizona’s new law: It is too short (16 pages), too clear, and too reflective of the popular will. Unlike the social scientists in Nancy Pelosi’s federal laboratory, state lawmakers didn’t need to pass the law first in order to find out what was in it. Essentially, it criminalizes (as a state misdemeanor) something that is already illegal (namely, being present in the United States in violation of federal law), and it directs law-enforcement officers to, yes, enforce the law. Democrats and their media echo-chamber regard this as radical; for most of us, it is what’s known as common sense.

… The law does not give police any new basis to stop and detain someone. Police may not inquire into immigration status unless they have a “lawful” basis for stopping the person in the first place. And even then, the police officer must have “reasonable suspicion” before attempting to determine whether the person is lawfully present. And that suspicion must be generated by something beyond race and ethnicity.

A developing back-up meme on the left is that others (e.g., witnesses, crime victims, or spectators) are also often involved in “lawful contacts.” Okay, but that doesn’t change the fact that “reasonable suspicion” as defined above still has to exist. So what’s their point?

There can be no honest discussion about the merits or demerits of the law until those attempting to make arguments against it admit to the realities the three cited columnists have described. The large majority of establishment press coverage of the law has thus far been all about preventing such honest discussion, and has been as intellectually bankrupt as just about any I’ve ever seen on any topic.

At the Corner, here’s Andy McCarthy’s conclusion:

The people who are complaining about this law almost certainly either have not read it or are demagogues who would make the same absurd claims no matter what the law said.

The vast majority of the establishment press “covering” this story is either one, the other, or both. So too is this nation’s president.

My prediction: Either we won’t ever see or hear a word from them about Obama’s blatant falsehood, or someone will quietly wait until news-dump time this weekend or possibly next to off-handedly note it. We’ll see.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lickety-Split, and Lightning Links (042910, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:54 am

Lickety-Split Links:

  • From Roger Simon at Pajamas Media“The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism.” It’s the same reason they accuse Arizonans who want immigration laws enforced of racism. Simon says it’s that “Liberals have nothing else to say or do.” That’s his version of what I’ve been saying, which is that they’re out of arguments.
  • “Bigots to the Left of Me” Update (related Cincinnati and Bertha Lewis items are here and here), Gordon Brown edition (“she was just a sort of bigoted woman”) — The really impressive thing is that the British press is covering it, instead of covering it up, which is what the U.S. establishment press with its pretense of “objectivity” masking rampant partisanship would be doing.
  • “Dingbats on the Right” Update (two among many Ohio-related items are here and here) — It’s important to remember that a year ago, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it would support incumbent Arlen Specter over principled sensible conservative Pat Toomey, shortly after Specter supplied a critical turncoat vote to enable the misguided and mislabeled “stimulus” bill to get through the Senate. A “grateful” Specter bolted to the Democrats. At the same time, Hot Air’s Allahpundit wrote that “Toomey probably can’t beat a Democrat in Pennsylvania.” It’s still too early to prove Allah wrong, but it would be nice to see him back off on the “probably.” And it would be nice to someday see establishment Republicans support people who won’t stab the base in the back at seemingly any opportunity.

Lightning Links:

  • From Howard Nemerow at Pajamas Media“Campaign Finance Transparency for Thee, but Not for … Dems”
  • From the totally not self-aware Associated Press — “Illegal immigrants plan to leave over Ariz. law.” Real World Translation: “Ariz. law already accomplishing its intent.”
  • From the “Can’t Make This Up” Dept. — “Arizona Iced Tea is brewed in New York,” but “Opponents of immigration law call for boycott of Arizona Iced Tea.”

Positivity: The operation of divine grace on Hadley Arkes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From a Massachusetts Citizens for Life e-mail:

April 26, 2010

Evelyn Waugh described his masterpiece Brideshead Revisited as a story about “the operation of divine grace on a diverse but closely connected group of characters.” Yesterday, I had the profoundly moving experience of witnessing the operation of grace on a particular person and a diverse group of people who were connected to each other through him. That person, Hadley Arkes, the Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, was received into the Catholic Church in a beautiful ceremony in the chapel of the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. Enveloped in the love of his many friends and admirers, Hadley was baptized, confirmed, and received his first communion.

Hadley is an outstanding political philosopher and constitutional theorist who has dedicated much of his professional life to defending the dignity and rights of the child in the womb. In remarks after the service yesterday, he explained that his faith in Christ had come through the Church. The Church’s moral witness, especially on the sanctity of human life and on marriage and sexual morality—a witness that has in our time made the Church a “sign of contradiction” to the most powerful and influential elements of the elite sector of contemporary western culture—persuaded him that the Church is, despite the failings of so many of its members and leaders, fundamentally “a truth-teaching institution.” In teachings that many find to be impediments, Hadley found decisive evidence that the Church is, indeed, what she claims to be.

Speaking of his Jewish identity, Hadley said that he neither would nor could ever leave the Jewish people. His entry into the Church was for him, he stated, a fulfillment of his Jewish faith, and in no way a repudiation of it. Invoking the testimony and authority of the late Cardinal Lustiger of Paris, he declared that he was and would always remain a Jew, though a Jew who, like the earliest Christians, had come to accept Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Hadley’s sponsor was Michael Novak, who read aloud some charming verses he had composed for the occasion. The other speakers were Daniel Robinson of the Philosophy Faculty at Oxford University, Michael Uhlmann of the Political Science Department at Claremont Graduate School, David Forte of the Cleveland State University Law School, and your humble correspondent. The chapel was overflowing with people who had come from all over the country. The spirit of joy was extraordinary. Part of the reason for that, I believe, is that every person in the room had become a better Christian as a result of Hadley’s friendship, long before Hadley himself entered the Church. More than a few people credited Hadley for their own conversions (or reversions). Like G.K. Chesterton, he spent years leading others into the Church before he walked through the door himself.

April 28, 2010

OAS Criticizes Arizona Immigration Enforcement Measure; Press Has Ignored Mexico’s Harsher Laws for Years

A short Associated Press item tonight notes that the Organization for American States is not happy with the state of Arizona for passing an immigration law-enforcement measure:

APonOASangerAtAZ042810

I don’t expect AP to expand on OAS’s statement any time soon, because in the process of doing so they might feel compelled to look at how some of the countries criticizing Arizona handle their own illegal immigrants. One of the most under-reported stories of the past couple of decades is the hypocrisy of Mexico’s and many other OAS countries’ “anger” at any and every attempt by the U.S. government or its states to enforce laws that are nowhere near as harsh as their own.

Michelle Malkin’s most recent syndicated column focuses on Mexico harsh immigration regime. She points out a number of pretty amazing items, given how Mexico would have us treat our illegals (bolds are mine):

The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” How’s that for racial and ethnic profiling?

If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam and prove they can provide their own health care.

Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment.

Law enforcement officials at all levels — by national mandate — must cooperate to enforce immigration laws, including illegal alien arrests and deportations. The Mexican military is also required to assist in immigration enforcement operations. Native-born Mexicans are empowered to make citizens’ arrests of illegal aliens and turn them in to authorities.

… Noncitizens cannot “in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.”

… As for abuse, the Mexican government is notorious for its abuse of Central American illegal aliens who attempt to violate Mexico’s southern border. The Red Cross has protested rampant Mexican police corruption, intimidation and bribery schemes targeting illegal aliens there for years.

As is the case with anything Malkin writes, read the whole thing.

As might be expected, there’s a serious inaccuracy in the above AP report, which gives the impression that law enforcement officials can arbitrarily “question people” at random about their citizenship status. As Kris Kobach pointed out in today’s Washington Times (HT Mark Levin’s radio show):

… the Arizona law actually makes racial profiling less likely. But that doesn’t fit the story the left would like to tell.

… The terms of the act make clear that such profiling cannot occur. Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official “may not solely consider race, color, or national origin” in making any stops or determining an alien’s immigration status. In addition, all of the normal Fourth Amendment protections against racial profiling still apply.

… The law only kicks in when a police officer already has made a “lawful contact” with a person, such as stopping him for breaking another law. The most likely contact is during the issuance of a speeding ticket. The law does not require the officer to begin questioning a person about his immigration status or to do anything the officer would not otherwise do.

Only after a stop is made, and subsequently the officer develops reasonable suspicion on his own that an immigration law has been violated, is any obligation imposed.

Many Americans would see things quite differently if they really understood what Mexico does to enforce its immigration laws, while brazenly using its consulate system here in the U.S. to defend its citizens who are breaking the law when they are in this country illegally — which is why the largely pro-illegal, anti-sovereignty establishment press will almost never touch the story.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid, Lickety-Split, and Lightning Links (042810, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:59 am

Lucid Links:

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Michelle Malkin’s latest column covers something concerning which I could only do a surface scratch several years ago, namely the hypocrisy of the Mexican government whining about how illegal immigrants are treated here. Michelle details how utterly ruthless Mexico is against anyone who is in that country illegally (bolds are mine):

The Mexican government will bar foreigners if they upset “the equilibrium of the national demographics.” How’s that for racial and ethnic profiling?

If outsiders do not enhance the country’s “economic or national interests” or are “not found to be physically or mentally healthy,” they are not welcome. Neither are those who show “contempt against national sovereignty or security.” They must not be economic burdens on society and must have clean criminal histories. Those seeking to obtain Mexican citizenship must show a birth certificate, provide a bank statement proving economic independence, pass an exam and prove they can provide their own health care.

Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment.

… Law enforcement officials at all levels — by national mandate — must cooperate to enforce immigration laws, including illegal alien arrests and deportations. The Mexican military is also required to assist in immigration enforcement operations. Native-born Mexicans are empowered to make citizens’ arrests of illegal aliens and turn them in to authorities.

… Noncitizens cannot “in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.”

… As for abuse, the Mexican government is notorious for its abuse of Central American illegal aliens who attempt to violate Mexico’s southern border. The Red Cross has protested rampant Mexican police corruption, intimidation and bribery schemes targeting illegal aliens there for years.

The establishment press never, ever tells the American people any of these things. Why?

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Jerry Pournelle (HT Instapundit) on “financial reform”

Adam Smith told us that capitalist would always collude to get government to make it tough for competitors to enter the market place; the current financial reform bill does this in spades with big casino. Of course Sarbanes Oxley already did that; but this make the cheese more binding. If the goal is to lock in big combines and outfits too bid to fail, and be sure no one will compete with them and take some of their market share, the current “reform” bill is a very good continuation of the work started by Sarbanes Oxley.

“Financial reform” also throws in potential crony capitalism on a massive scale as a free “bonus.” The “Financial Services Oversight Council” discussed yesterday at this post would, with its broad unchecked powers, have great discretion as to who it might pick on and who it would leave alone. The politically favored could be expected to be left alone, while political enemies could easily be targeted.

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From the “There Has to Be a Special Place in Hell for This” Dept., at Life News

Abortion Business in Kentucky Hides Potential Sexual Abuse in Undercover Video

Another abortion business has been caught on tape attempting to cover up a potential case of sexual abuse of a minor girl. A Louisville, Kentucky abortion center is the latest caught on an undercover videotape ignoring sexual abuse of a child and giving misleading abortion counseling.

… The new footage today comes from EMW Women’s Surgical Center and has Lila Rose and actor Jackie Stollar, who posed undercover as a minor with Rose telling the staff that she was 14-years-old and impregnated by her 31-year-old “boyfriend”.

Kentucky state law also indicates sex between a 14-year-old and a 31-year-old is rape in the third degree. Rose said the state law reveals such sexual activity would reasonably be considered sexual abuse of a child which must be reported to law enforcement immediately.

But of course, it wasn’t.

Steve Ertelt at Life News goes on to remind readers that this wanton disregard for the well-being of young girls is not unusual. It may be the norm. Similar undercover cases exposed similar handling in Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama, California, Arizona and Wisconsin.

________________________________________________

Lickety-Split Links:

  • Visualizing Obama’s Budget Cuts — This refers the $100 million the president supposedly came up with about a year ago, and puts them in their proper, totally unimpressive context. I’m not even sure the cuts even occurred.
  • This coverage by the Associated Press of court proceedings yesterday in the prosecution of Michigan militia members, especially the cluelessness of the FBI about key details of the case, leaves me wondering if the whole thing has been rushed to give the Obama administration a reason to claim that far-right violence is a serious threat. Instapundit’s reax is similar: “Well, they got the headlines they wanted after the arrest, anyway.”
  • Obama suggests value-added tax may be an option” — This may be as much a sign of desperation as it is of insatiable greed. It’s too early to know for sure, but my take on April U.S. Treasury collections during the key month of April is that they will come in 3% or so below April 2009, which itself was 35% below April 2008. Readers may recall that April 2008 was the month of the “Supply-Side Stunner,” namely the all-time single-month record for Treasury collections. This record occurred during the fifth month of the “recession” as pinheads at the National Bureau of Economic Research have defined the “recession.” The recession as Normal People Define It began during the third quarter of 2008. Not coincidentally, that is also when year-over-year federal receipts began to go negative.

Lightning Links Links, Partial Catch-Up Dept.:

Positivity: Canada Parliament Strongly Defeats Bill to Legalize Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Ottawa, via Life News:

The Canadian parliament on Wednesday defeated a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia. MPs form all parties voted against the measure, Bill C-384, the private members bill sponsored by Francine Lalonde that was opposed by pro-life and disability rights organizations.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, one of the prominent organizations fighting the bill, told LifeNews.com he was elated by the vote.

“We would like to thank every member of parliament who voted against Bill C-384. We would also like to thank all of our supporters who made this victory possible. Months of work have resulted in an incredible victory. But the battle is not over,” he said.

While assisted suicide organizations regroup for another bill, Schadenberg said opponents of euthanasia must work to help the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, and provide than better resources than suicide.

“We are working to turn the debate on this issue to a debate on how Canadians can live with dignity,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 27, 2010

‘Financial Reform’ Is a Massive Power Grab

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:52 am

Surely Dick Morris must be exaggerating when, in his column on “financial reform,” he writes the following (paragraphs are in different order than in original for analysis purposes):

If the financial regulation bill that passed the House last year becomes law, President Obama and his Treasury Secretary will acquire the right to take over any financial institution they wish to, provided that, in their sole opinion, it is both “too big to fail” and on the brink of insolvency.

… The House bill provides for no judicial review and does not require any objective evidence of imminent failure to trigger the takeover provisions

…. The blank check the bill gives the feds to take over any financial institution is really more of an exercise of eminent domain than it is an extension of traditional federal regulatory power.

This grant of power to the executive branch is unprecedented and potentially totalitarian.

Morris exaggerates only slightly in form, but not at all in substance. In one instance, he understates the dangers.

If you go to the full text of the bill (sorry, it’s one big document with no page numbers) as the House passed it (relevant sections haven’t been changed by the Senate according to the tool available at the link), you find the following concerning the “Financial Services Oversight Council”:

(b) Membership- The Council shall consist of the following:
(1) VOTING MEMBERS- Voting members, who shall each have one vote on the Council, as follows:
(A) The Secretary of the Treasury, who shall serve as the Chairman of the Council.
(B) The Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
(C) The Comptroller of the Currency.
(D) The Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, until the functions of the Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision are transferred pursuant to subtitle C.
(E) The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
(F) The Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
(G) The Chairperson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
(H) The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
(I) The Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration.
(J) The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

So it isn’t that a President and Treasury Secretary can unilaterally act, at least in form. But … everyone listed is a political and/or presidential appointee, and it would take an extraordinary and usually unavailable degree of courage by a number of them to stop the Treasury Secretary from doing what he or she wanted to do.

As to no judicial review, Morris is essentially right. Again, from the bill’s text:

Judicial review under this section shall be limited to the imposition of a mitigatory action pursuant to subsection (e)(5). In reviewing the Council’s imposition of a mitigatory action, the court shall rescind or dismiss only those mitigatory actions it finds to be imposed in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

In other words, judges cannot review the Council’s mitigatory actions on their merits, but only on a very subjective standard of how they are imposed. That eliminates virtually all of the substance of what judicial review is supposed to be about.

Morris emphasizes the “too big to fail” aspect of proponents’ arguments, but the language of the law indicates that the Council doesn’t really need that as an excuse to exercise its broad authorities. Again, from the House-passed version:

In General- The Council may subject a financial activity or practice to stricter prudential standards under this subtitle if the Council determines that the conduct, scope, nature, size, scale, concentration, or interconnectedness of such activity or practice could create or increase the risk of significant liquidity, credit, or other problems spreading among financial institutions or markets and local, minority, or underserved communities, and thereby threaten the stability of the financial system or economy.

Some of the itemized considerations have to do with size, but many, including “local, minority, or underserved communities” most assuredly do not. Any “financial activity” seen to potentially harm “local, minority, or underserved communities,” such as charging slightly higher interest rates to those who live in areas deemed to have a prior history of high default rates, could be construed to be “destabilizing” and be stopped under an aggressive enough regime. A financial institution refusing to comply with the Council’s demands would be subject to government takeover.

Morris is exactly right that “objective evidence of imminent failure” is not necessary, meaning that the Council could — I’m not saying will, I’m saying “could” — be as arbitrary, capricious, and political in its decision-making as it wishes, with no meaningful checks on its powers.

That, as Morris writes, is indeed “unprecedented and potentially totalitarian” — which is why it must be stopped.

There can be no meaningful compromise involving this kind of legislation.

Dave Yost Loves Ohio Newspaper Endorsements That Prove Seth Morgan Is the Better Candidate

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:35 am

This release from the Morgan campaign has the same take on the meaning of Ohio media endorsements that I had yesterday (third item at link) — if you’re the sensible conservative and an Ohio media outlet endorses your opponent, you’ve pretty much proven that you’re the better choice (internal links added by me):

Dave Yost over the past two weeks has been exuberant over being unanimously endorsed the most liberal newspapers in Ohio for Auditor of State. Yost has received the endorsements from the Youngstown Vindicator, Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Dayton Daily News.

In Sunday’s Dayton Daily News endorsement editorial, they described Seth Morgan as “tightly wound” and “ideologically rigid” insinuating he is more conservative than Dave Yost. And the newspaper criticized Seth Morgan saying “Morgan’s conservatism extends even to the point of voting against the Third Frontier.”

These same newspapers endorsed Ted Strickland for Ohio governor, Marc Dann for Ohio attorney general, Barack Obama for U.S. President, and have claimed the conservative and Tea Party movements are made up of racists. “We congratulate Dave on getting Ohio’s liberal mainstream media behind him. The liberal media like Dave because they view him and David Pepper as two peas in a pod,” said Rob Scott, Communications Director for Friends of Seth Morgan.

“The difference is clear. Seth Morgan is the people’s candidate supported by numerous Ohio grassroots organizations that represent thousands of conservative Ohioans. Whereas Dave Yost is the liberal media’s candidate and he’s proud of it,” Scott said.

Here’s hoping that ORPINO (Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) candidate Dave Yost will frame the papers’ endorsements and put them on the wall of his office in Delaware County when he returns to his prosecutorial duties after a May 4 loss to Morgan. They will, and should, serve as bitter reminders of what might have been.

UPDATE: ‘Additional Candidates Charging Ohio Republican Party with Election Law Violations’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:11 am

The following forwarded e-mail originally from Steve Christopher arrived this morning.

Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion had the news on Elicson and Momirov last week.

Now there’s more (internal links added by me):

Four more candidates for the Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee have filed charges with the Ohio Election Commission, charging the Party with breaking its own rules and Ohio election laws by endorsing candidates without the required authorizing vote. George Momirov of the 16th State Senate District, Jennifer Elicson of the 3rd District and Jack and April Fryman of the 1st District has added their voices to that of Thea Shoemake of the 14th District. Thea filed her complaint two weeks ago. An initial review of her complaint ruled that she had “Probable Cause” and put her case on the calendar for a hearing by the full commission.

Additional complaints may be forthcoming. Although State Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine has argued that a vote is unnecessary to endorse State Central Committee members; the endorsement of incumbents can be “deemed” to have been held. However Bob Rousseau, an incumbent State Central Committeeman for the 13th Senate District was not endorsed by DeWine; his opponent was. Mr. Rousseau’s strong opposition to a vote to endorse a candidate and limit the voters’ choice in the Party primary is known to have angered party officials. Moreover there are several non-incumbents that appear to have been recruited from the ranks of Party loyalists for the purpose of opposing candidates involved in the Tea Party movement. These loyalists also have secured the Party endorsement without an authorizing vote as required.

According to Jim Woods of the Medina County Friends And Neighbors (MCFAN) organization, a candidate himself in the 22nd State Senate District, “This is the very kind of self-serving, back room manipulation of the political process that the Tea Party movement has been fighting. It is bad enough when Speaker of the House Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Reid treat the rules with contempt. To see a Republican Party Chairman doing the same is shocking.”

Of greatest concern to the Party is that the Tea Party candidates are not just keeping their campaign “in house”. The Party has taken steps to portray the battle for State Central Committee seats as a “family argument”. Steve Christopher, one of the spokesmen for the Tea Party participants in the battle said, “That comment illustrates the problem – that the Ohio Republican Party considers itself to be closed and private. We believe that it should be open and inclusive, and urge all those Independents who have given up on the Party to come back on May 4, ask for a Republican Party ballot, and vote for Republican Party candidates that want to give a voice back to the people, instead of ignoring them and doing what they are told.”

If the Rousseau situation is as described, it makes an utter mockery of Kevin DeWine’s “deemed endorsement” claim.

The last sentence of the e-mail is important. Ohioans who want real change and whose values are sensibly conservative, i.e., the large majority of the residents of this state, need to do all they can to effect regime change that will turn ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) back into a legitimate Republican organization. That includes voting in the GOP primary on May 4. A properly managed and philosophically focused ORP remains the best long-term hope for truly turning around Ohio.