How Obama treats those with whom he disagrees

Only special interests oppose Obama right?

Take a familiar refrain that Obama made during the health care debate:

"We know the same special interests and their agents in Congress will make the same old arguments, and use the same scare tactics that have stopped reform before because they profit from this relentless escalation in health care costs."

Or the financial regulation debate:

"Both bills represent significant improvement on the flawed rules we have in place today, despite the furious efforts of industry lobbyists to shape them to their special interests."


This kind of partisan rhetoric where he refuses to accept the legitimacy of those who argue against, which I think is distressing in a president, and particularly one who paints himself as he did in 2008 and does today as a man who stands above the partisanship and all the pettiness and all the special interests.

He is a politician like all of us, and when he pretends he hovers above the fray like a neutral arbiter, it's grating.

As Time Magazine notes: "What could be more outrageous than the hefty subsidies the U.S. government lavishes on rich American cotton farmers?
How about the hefty subsidies the U.S. government is about to start lavishing on rich Brazilian cotton farmers?" EWG has this: "This week (April 6), US officials struck a deal aimed at staving off Brazilian trade retaliation for subsidies paid to American cotton growers. Brazil had won the right to impose tariffs and lift patent protections on $829 million in U.S. goods in a 2009 World Trade Organization ruling that the cotton subsidies and export credit guarantees violated global trade rules." This is a pretty amazing discussion from the San Francisco Chronicle.

As President Obama slaps his former friends at Goldman Sachs, he might consider removing his other hand from the pockets of his friends down South, deep in the old cotton belt.

Some of the more thoughtful members of Congress have just sent Obama a letter he might consider reading. It wonders why the administration has twisted itself into a special-interest pretzel that is so absurd it makes the jaw drop. See here and here.

To wit: our crusading president is going to send $150 million of your tax dollars to subsidize the Brazilian cotton industry. Why? so that he can continue to spend several billion more of your tax dollars subsidizing U.S. cotton farmers.

This is the Obama administration's idea of how to fix the problem of a WTO finding that the U.S. cotton subsidies are illegal, permitting $800 million in Brazilian sanctions against all manner of U.S. exports, perhaps the ones our dear Chron readers make in Silicon Valley.

Reps. Jeff Flake,R-Az., Ron Kind, D-Wisc., Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Barney Frank, D-Mass. (find the last time Barney Frank and Paul Ryan agreed on anything) have penned a note to the prez suggesting that perhaps the way to fix the problem is to end the U.S. cotton subsidies.


If the administration gets away with this one, shameless takes on a whole new meaning. . . .

This all apparently stems from a case that the US lost last fall before the WTO.

American goods will face an estimated $300 million in annual sanctions as a result of the United States' failure to eliminate illegal subsidies to U.S. cotton growers, the World Trade Organization ruled Monday. . . .


Severe weather at more than 10 year low in US


Is Obama getting tangled up in Blagojevich's criminal case

NBC Chicago goes through some material that may be the talk of the national news for the next few days.

Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request

Update: Judge calls emergency meeting over redaction errors.
Former governor Rod Blagojevich's defense team asked Thursday to issue a trial subpoena to the President of the United States of America.
The motion, intended to be heavily redacted, was improperly edited -- the full document was easily viewable if the text is copied and pasted to another document (an error first revealed on Capitol Fax).
Below, the six revelations the redacted portions were meant to conceal.

1. Obama may have lied about conversations with convicted fraudster Tony Rezko
Blagojevich's lawyers allege that Rezko admitted breaking the law by contributing "a large sum of cash" to a public official. Blagojevich's attorneys say that public official is Obama. Obama said that Rezko never relayed a request from a lobbyist to hold a fundraiser in favor of favorable legislative action. But the point may be moot: regardless of Obama talking/not talking to Rezko, Blagojevich's attorneys say that Obama refused the request regardless.
Redacted portion: However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the
government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. … Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having
conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. … Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.
Redacted footnote: The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.
2. Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat
Blagojevich's defense team basically alleges that Obama told a certain labor union official that he (Obama) would support Valerie Jarrett's candidacy for the Senate seat. Jarrett, referred to as "Senate Candidate B", is now a senior advisor to the president.
Redacted portion: Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick. (Labor union president 302, February 2, 2009, p. 7).
Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B] ... [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich.” (Labor union official 302, February 3, 2009 p. 3). . . .

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89 year old woman stops robbery with a gun

The cute thing about this is that the police reloaded the gun for her before they left her house.


New Fox News piece: Obama's Plan -- A Regulatory Mess

My newest piece starts this way:

If President Obama's financial regulations are adopted, there will be fewer loans, credit will be more costly, and individuals will face more risk. Obama argues today that his reforms are necessary to prevent "a second Great Depression" from occurring, but he does nothing to fix what the government did. Nothing is done to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, despite their problems with fraud and costing taxpayers $400 billion in bailouts. Nothing is done to change government regulations that force banks to make risky mortgages.

The powers that would be given to the president and the Federal Reserve are unprecedented. The bill gives the government the power to regulate the capital, liquidity and permissible activities for a long list of firms, including securities firms, insurance companies, bank holding companies, hedge funds, finance companies as well as others. The government will be also able to limit the size of these companies.

The president claims today that he "believe(s) in the power of the free market." Yet, he is constantly demonizing companies. Even liberal New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned: The bashing of Wall Street is something that should worry everybody. According to Obama, there is "an ethic of greed, corner cutting, insider dealing, things that have always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system." In contrast, for government, Obama identifies its only failure as not doing enough regulation, not doing enough to control companies.

The regulations demonstrate that the president ignores or doesn't care to know how markets operate. Take one . . .

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UN's Haiti Spending Goes Mostly to Overhead

Fox News has this:

The United Nations has quietly upped this year's peacekeeping budget for earthquake-shattered Haiti to $732.4 million, with two-thirds of that amount going for the salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel, not residents of the devastated island.

The world organization plans to spend the money on an expanded force of some 12,675 soldiers and police, plus some 479 international staffers, 669 international contract personnel, and 1,300 local workers, just for the 12 months ending June 30, 2010.

Some $495.8 million goes for salaries, benefits, hazard pay, mandatory R&R allowances and upkeep for the peacekeepers and their international staff support. Only about $33.9 million, or 4.6 percent, of that salary total is going to what the U.N. calls "national staff" attached to the peacekeeping effort. . . .

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Obama says that a National Sales Tax is worth considering

How many times does Obama have to break his tax promises before the general media mentions that he has been breaking his promise? Can a national sales tax be sold as being consistent with his promise to raise any taxes on people making less than $250,000 per year?

President Barack Obama suggested Wednesday that a new value-added tax on Americans is still on the table, seeming to show more openness to the idea than his aides have expressed in recent days.
Before deciding what revenue options are best for dealing with the deficit and the economy, Obama said in an interview with CNBC, "I want to get a better picture of what our options are."
After Obama adviser Paul Volcker recently raised the prospect of a value-added tax, or VAT, the Senate voted 85-13 last week for a nonbinding "sense of the Senate" resolution that calls the such a tax "a massive tax increase that will cripple families on fixed income and only further push back America's economic recovery."
For days, White House spokesmen have said the president has not proposed and is not considering a VAT.
"I think I directly answered this the other day by saying that it wasn't something that the president had under consideration," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters shortly before Obama spoke with CNBC.
After the interview, White House deputy communications director Jen Psaki said nothing has changed and the White House is "not considering" a VAT. . . .

How about this headline: "Millions face tax increases under Dems budget plan."

President Barack Obama's Democratic allies in the Senate promise to cut the deficit by almost two-thirds over the next five years, but their budget plan could threaten about 30 million people with tax increases averaging $3,700 in 2012 and after because of the alternative minimum tax.
The alternative is tax increases elsewhere in the revenue code averaging up to $100 billion a year after 2011 to continue alternative minimum tax relief and also curb taxes on people inheriting large estates.
The Democratic plan released Wednesday by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota relies on such boosts in revenues to carve the deficit from $1.4 trillion last year down to $545 billion by 2015.
The minimum tax, or AMT, was enacted four decades ago to make sure wealthy people couldn't avoid taxes altogethe. But it wasn't indexed for inflation in people's incomes, so it gets "patched" every year or so in order to prevent people from being surprised by multi-thousand-dollar tax bills at tax time.
Estates larger than $7 million would also be threatened with higher taxes after 2011 if Conrad's plan is carried out.
Conrad says lawmakers will have to find revenues elsewhere in the budget to pay for AMT and estate tax relief after 2011, which could require tax increases averaging up to $100 billion a year elsewhere in the code if Congress is going to keep its promises under tough new budget rules. . . .
Gregg said the Democratic plan is "a budget that kicks the can down the road. More spending. More deficits. More debt. Less prosperity." . . .

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TV’s ‘Human Target’ Gets Women Owning Guns Right

I would have picked a different title for this piece than what was used over at Big Hollywood, but people might find this interesting. My piece starts this way:

“Human Target” is a fun show to watch. Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) is an expert at self-defense and his job is to protect people from life-threatening situations. This episode is about the case that moved Chance from being an assassin to his current job of protecting people. In this case, he has decided to protect a witness named Katherine Walters (Amy Acker). The following exchange takes place at about the 12:50 mark.
Christopher Chance: [Hands Katherine Walters a gun.] Now you don’t have to take this. I am just saying . . .
Katherine pulls back the slide and turns off the safety on the gun.
Chance: Apparently you know what you are doing
Katherine: I’m single and I live downtown.
Chance nods his head approvingly.

It is nice to see a show accurately acknowledge what women benefit the most from owning a gun. My own research shows that women benefit much more from owning guns than men do. . . .

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Green groups claim that ash cloud has beneficial side effects

The strange thing is that all the "green groups" here seem to be affiliated with universities.

Iceland's erupting volcano has spewed plenty of ash but far less greenhouse gas than Europe's grounded aircraft would have generated.
Carbon dioxide emissions totalled 150,000 tonnes a day in the early days of the eruption, according to Durham University. That compares with 510,000 tonnes per day emitted when planes are flying as normal over the continent.
But experts cautioned it was hard to draw conclusions about the overall impact of pollution because more cars and buses were on the roads to help stranded travellers and the volcano is emitting a nasty cocktail of toxins. . . .

Here are some problems with the discussion.

1) If people didn't take planes, how many of them took alternative ways to get to their destinations. Where extra trains added? Did people take cars? With the British navy being used to get people home, how much emissions were created by that? (The aircraft carrier below sure looks like it emits CO2.) Will extra planes eventually be added to help get some people home?
2) It is strange to me that people care so much about CO2 emissions. What about SO2 emissions produced by the volcano? Or the soot particles that environmentalists have been so upset about from diesel vehicles?

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Is paying $5,000 for a product that you know didn't belong to the person selling it a crime?

Paying for stolen property is a crime. Admittedly, you must know that the goods that are being sold to you are not owned by the person selling them to be guilty. It is a real question that applies to Gizmodo paying to get a hold of the next version of the iPhone.

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Why isn't state regulation of insurance premiums enough?

I don't approve of state regulation of insurance premiums, but it is strange that all these federal politicians talk about the need for regulation without discussing the existing state regulations.

Fearing that health insurance premiums may shoot up in the next few years, Senate Democrats laid a foundation on Tuesday for federal regulation of rates, four weeks after President Obama signed a law intended to rein in soaring health costs.

After a hearing on the issue, the chairman of the Senate health committee, Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, said he intended to move this year on legislation that would “provide an important check on unjustified premiums.”

Mr. Harkin praised a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, that would give the secretary of health and human services the power to review premiums and block “any rate increase found to be unreasonable.” Under the bill, the federal government could regulate rates in states where state officials did not have “sufficient authority and capability” to do so.

The White House offered a similar proposal in the weeks leading up to approval of the health care legislation last month. But it was omitted from the final measure, in part for procedural reasons. . . .

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Fannie and Freddie's costs

$400 billion seems like a lot of money.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that, in the wake of the housing bubble and the unprecedented deflation in housing values that resulted, the government's cost to bail out Fannie and Freddie will eventually reach $381 billion. That estimate may be too optimistic.

Last Christmas Eve, Treasury removed the $400 billion cap on what the government might be required to invest in these two GSEs in the future, and this may tell the real story about the cost to taxpayers. In typical Washington fashion, everyone has amnesia about how this disaster occurred. . . .


Copy of Senator Dodd's Financial Regulation Bill is here

The link to the bill is here.

House Republican Leader John Boehner claims that the bill will institutionalize bailouts.

· The Dodd Gives Wall Street a Pre-Existing $50 Billion Bailout Slush Fund. Sen. Dodd’s financial bailout bill would create a $50 billion ‘orderly resolution fund’ ($150 billion in Rep. Barney Frank’s bill) that could be repeatedly replenished from industry assessment.
· The Dodd Bill Gives Wall Street a Treasury-Backed Credit Line. The FDIC would be authorized to borrow from Treasury up to the amount of cash left in the ‘resolution fund’ plus 90 percent of the value of the assets of any and all too-big-to-fail firms in its control.
· The Dodd Bill Provides a Government-Guaranteed to Wall Street Debt. The FDIC would be authorized to guarantee the debt of any solvent bank, bank holding company, or affiliate in any amount subject only to an aggregate debt limit set by the Treasury Department.
· The Dodd Bill Institutionalizes Unlimited Wall Street Bailouts. The FDIC, as the resolution agency for too-big-to-fail firms, would be given wide latitude to use resources to make payments to anyone in any amounts, at their own discretion.
· The Dodd Bill Gives Wall Street Bridge Bank Authority. The FDIC would be authorized to create a bridge institution as part of resolving a covered institution and vest the FDIC with broad authority to use the orderly resolution fund in connection with the bridge institution.

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Why won't the Obama administration answer questions about the Fort Hood Massacre?

From the NY Daily News:

Two top senators on Thursday accused the Obama administration of stonewalling their probe of the Fort Hood slaughter.

Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said they'll subpoena the Justice Department and Pentagon by Monday if documents aren't coughed up fast.

The lawmakers want to know who knew Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was chatting up a radical Al Qaeda cleric, and why they didn't tell Hasan's superiors.

"The idea [our probe] somehow is going to compromise the ability to prosecute the case is just foolish," Collins complained. . . .


White House closes Lafayette Park due to protestors

I have tried doing news searches, but I can't find any stories about Nixon closing Lafayette Park during the Vietnam War protests. As a kid, I remember those protests getting lots of news coverage. If anyone can find cases where previous presidents have closed the park due to protestors, I would appreciate it. It is troubling that the press has no problem with the public being removed from the park. They only seem to care that they also have to be removed.

UPDATE: Politico reports:

People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.

A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video above calling the move "outrageous" and "ridiculous."

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So why can't people judge for themselves the trade-offs in life?

Salt now. Is ice cream next?

U.S. regulators are planning a push to gradually cut the amount of salt Americans consume, saying less sodium would reduce deaths from hypertension and heart disease, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The effort would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in processed foods, the newspaper reported. The plan is to be launched this year but officials have not set salt limits.

The government plans to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to ratchet down sodium consumption, the newspaper said, citing U.S. Food and Drug Administration sources.

U.S. researchers said in a recent study that working with the food industry to cut salt intake by nearly 10 percent could prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes over several decades and save the U.S. government $32 billion in healthcare costs. . . . .


Only Democrats wanted to bring case against Goldman

From efinancialnews:

The Securities and Exchange Commission decided to sue Goldman Sachs Group over the objections of two Republican commissioners, suggesting an unusual split at the agency that could politicise one of its most prominent cases in years.

People familiar with the matter said the five-member commission held a lengthy meeting Wednesday to debate the civil-fraud charges against Goldman, and ultimately voted 3-2 in favour of pushing forward. The charges were filed Friday.

Normally the agency prefers to have unanimous support when bringing enforcement actions against the firms it regulates. Word of the SEC split could exacerbate partisan tensions in Washington over the Obama administration's proposed financial-regulatory overhaul. . . .


Search on "Goldman Sachs SEC" at Google and you go to the Obama campaign website

Apparently this link was working last Friday when the charges against Goldman Sachs were filed.

The link is here; http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/joinofafireg/?source=OM_LB_google_WallStreet-search_gold&gclid=CMWyus7blaECFQk65Qod7waSOw.

I was curious so I contacted the WH press office about this and they referred me to the DNC. The DNC spokesman, Hari Sevugan, confirmed that they bought the placement for the Google link on Friday and that it went up that day, but that it went up right after the SEC report came out. He wouldn't answer any questions about how long the time period was between when the SEC released their report and when the paid link went up. I told him that I had heard that it might have been as quick as an hour after the SEC report. When I asked if that was typically how quickly ads went up or the DNC had gotten any special treatment in getting the ad up quickly, the DNC spokesman, Hari Sevugan, went on and on about how I was claiming that they bought the ad before the SEC charges. I told him that I wasn't questioning his claim that they bought the ad after the SEC announcement, but that I was curious whether the DNC got any special treatment in being able to get the links posted up at the top of the page so quickly. At that point, Sevugan said that I was accusing them of buying the ads before the SEC report. Again, I told him that I accepted his statement, but that I was wondering if they got special treatment in getting it up so fast, that it was my understanding that it normally took longer to get the paid links longer to be put up. I tried as best as I could to explain that asking about special treatment didn't imply anything about them placing the ad before the SEC announcement and that indeed it suggested the opposite. But he still refused to answer the question. Given that he refused to answer questions about how the ads were placed, I asked if he could provide me the name of the company that placed the ad, but again he declined.

See also this discussion from the New York Post and this from Redstate. The White House denial about meddling in the Goldman case is here.

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Computer models may have really messed up on predicting

Possibly those global warming advocate are so certain about those computer models. There is also so much trust put in government regulators. Well, possibly they could read this.

Flawed computer models may have exaggerated the effects of an Icelandic volcano eruption that has grounded tens of thousands of flights, stranded hundreds of thousands of passengers and cost businesses hundreds of millions of euros.

The computer models that guided decisions to impose a no-fly zone across most of Europe in recent days are based on incomplete science and limited data, according to European officials. As a result, they may have over-stated the risks to the public, needlessly grounding flights and damaging businesses.

“It is a black box in certain areas,” Matthias Ruete, the EU’s director-general for mobility and transport, said on Monday, noting that many of the assumptions in the computer models were not backed by scientific evidence.

European authorities were not sure about scientific questions, such as what concentration of ash was hazardous for jet engines, or at what rate ash fell from the sky, Mr Ruete said. “It’s one of the elements where, as far as I know, we’re not quite clear about it,” he admitted.

He also noted that early results of the 40-odd test flights conducted over the weekend by European airlines, such as KLM and Air France, suggested that the risk was less than the computer models had indicated.

The acknowledgement that the computer models were flawed is likely to provide ammunition for critics who believe that authorities have shown excessive caution. The closure of much of the airspace over Europe over the past five days is estimated to have cost airlines a total of $200m a day in lost revenue. . . .

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls regulating gun shows

Concealed carry holder fatally shoots robber

A license permit holder may have saved some lives.

Alleged robber killed in shooting near downtown
Posted: Apr 18, 2010 7:30 PM
Updated: Apr 19, 2010 4:44 PM
Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - An Indianapolis man who shot and killed a robber expects to get cleared and not go to jail. He told police the robber had a gun too and he feared for his life and managed to shoot first.

According to detectives, Bryan Blevins, 24, shot and killed Christopher Hampton Sunday afternoon. Blevins says Hampton approached Blevins pretending to need change. Once inside the apartment, Hampton allegedly held Blevins and a friend at gunpoint. Blevins told police that's when he fired his weapon.

It happened as Blevins helped a friend move into a downtown Pennsylvania Avenue apartment building.

"He told me he needed money to get some more drugs. He told me about 15th and Pennsylvania and today he is dead," said Thomas Hutchison, Hampton's brother-in-law.

Police found Hampton dead in the hallway. He wore an ankle court-ordered monitoring device.

"Detectives talked to all three individuals and they all stated the same thing - that there was a handgun," said Sgt. Matt Mount, IMPD.

Officers confiscated a silver Smith and Wesson handgun and a silver Jennings Bryco .38.

Blevins, a licensed gun carrier, told police he feared for their lives.

Hampton's family not only knew about his drug problem, saying he went to 15th and Penn to get drugs, but they also knew about his domestic problems and why he was wearing the GPS tracking device.

"That was because he and his wife had some issues. She had a restraining order on him but they still communicated with each other," said Hutchison.

In another deadly suspect shooting last week, prosecutors charged James Ingram for shooting a 17-year-old suspected of burglarizing his car. . . .

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Financial Regulatory Smoke

Despite the White House's denial, Democrat Eliot Spitzer doesn't think that bringing the case against Goldman Sachs on Friday right before the Senate was to take up the financial regulatory bill was an accident.

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer said on Monday there are “no coincidences” in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs just as Democrats are about to bring up financial regulatory reform in the Senate. . . .

Despite Democrats claims that the financial regulatory bill will stop bailouts, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Ca), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, acknowledges that is not the case:

The Dodd bill has unlimited executive bailout authority. That’s something Wall Street desperately wants but doesn’t dare ask for. The bill contains permanent, unlimited bailout authority. . . .

Remember just last week when Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd claimed: "It's just a Wall Street lie. This bill ends bailouts." Well, now it is clear that not only will the bill institutionalize bailouts, but they are even keeping a $50 billion fund explicitly for bailouts.

Senate Democratic leaders plan to stand behind the $50 billion fund maligned by Republicans as perpetuating Wall Street bailouts, agreeing at a leadership meeting Monday that they wouldn’t give it up without gaining GOP votes in return, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the discussions.

Democrats have been put on the defensive by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has cited the fund as reason to oppose the financial regulatory reform bill, and the administration, which described the fund late last week as not “essential” to the overall legislation. . . .

The fund is really irrelevant for whether the bill pushes bailouts, but it makes pretty difficult for Democrats to continue to deny that the bill provides bailouts.

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Obama administration blames out of control spending on Bush administration?: Does the media just start laughing out loud when they hear this?

So the $826 billion stimulus, the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, and numerous other spending bills lowered the deficit? It is pretty amazing that they could even try to claim this.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, when asked about the Tea Party protests, said in an interview Sunday that the Obama administration is paying more attention to deficit and spending concerns than the Bush administration did.

"We've just been through eight years where many people said deficits don't matter. We can pass huge tax cuts, pass huge new programs without paying for them. That debate has changed fundamentally," Geithner said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"You don't hear people say anymore deficits don't matter. You don't hear people saying we can pass enormous expansions in government without paying for it. That's an important change." . . .

The Washington Times goes through the numbers here.

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New Fox News piece: Time for the Government to Start Playing Fair

My newest piece at Fox News starts this way:

Fraud charges were filed against Goldman Sachs on Friday and the Obama administration is portraying the announcement as an attempt to bring greedy and corrupt Wall Street under control. Yet, the timing of the case looks like more than coincidence with the Senate about to start debating President Obama’s plan for financial regulation and with the president himself set to kick off his tour to push the bill on Thursday. The charges of fraud look more like the government changing the rules of the game than actual fraud occurring. . . .

Please put your comments at the Fox News page.

See also this.

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EU: Subsidized vacation trips abroad is a "human right"

What does one say about this? What this means is that people can't decide for themselves how to spend their money. Taxes take money from citizens and they get it back only if they take a trip overseas.

Get packing: Brussels decrees holidays are a human right

The idea for subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry
Bojan Pancevski

AN overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.

Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.

The idea for the subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister.

The scheme, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds a year, is intended to promote a sense of pride in European culture, bridge the north-south divide in the continent and prop up resorts in their off-season.

Tajani, who unveiled his plan last week at a ministerial conference in Madrid, believes the days when holidays were a luxury have gone. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said.

Tajani, who used to be transport commissioner, said he had been able to “affirm the rights of passengers” in his previous office and the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”.

The European Union has experience of subsidised holidays. In February the European parliament paid contributions of up to 52% towards an eight-day skiing trip in the Italian Alps for 80 children of Eurocrats.

Tajani’s programme will be piloted until 2013 and then put into full operation. It will be open to pensioners and anyone over 65, young people between 18 and 25, families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances and disabled people. The disabled and the elderly can be accompanied by one person.

In the initial phase, northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe and vice versa. Details of how participants are chosen have not yet been finalised, but it is expected the EU will subsidise about 30% of the cost. . . .

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Animation Ash Plume From Icelandic Eruption



Revisiting FDR's Depression era failure

As usual Lee Ohanian's research is quite interesting and this piece is no exception. In part because of this well know research I interviewed Lee last year for a news piece that I did for Fox News.

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies." . . .

Thanks to Art DeVany for this link.

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Redoing those MPG rules for Electric Cars

I thought that the 230 mpg estimate for the Chevy Volt and the 367 for the Nissan Leaf made little sense, but at least I was hoping that it was a way to mitigate the even dumber increase in company average mpg requirements. Selling a few Volts getting 230 mpg could have gone a long ways over coming the big increase in mpg rules imposed by the Obama administration.

When the figures came out, many observers argued that they presented an inflated and meaningless comparison for consumers looking to measure the efficiency of battery-powered cars against their gas-powered counterparts. The extent of backlash took the agency by surprise, the people familiar said.

The mileage expectation reflected a new methodology for electric and plug-in hybrid cars that factored in electricity used to try to reach a miles-per-gallon equivalent. The intent is to allow consumers to measure the vehicles against traditional gasoline-powered ones. The final figures will do the same, but the EPA is trying to come up with better ways to compare electric power with gasoline.

To calculate a miles-per-gallon figure for a vehicle that runs either partially or fully on battery power, GM had cited an EPA formula that attempts to convert electric-energy consumption into a gasoline equivalent. The Department of Energy process cited by Nissan considers 82 kilowatt hours of electricity to be equivalent to one gallon of gasoline. . . .

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So may be that Volcanic ash isn't so bad after all

Well, this test is interesting. Will governments be influenced by such direct evidence?

KLM, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France, said Sunday it wants to resume passenger flights in Europe as soon as possible after it flew a plane through the cloud of volcanic ash covering much of the continent without suffering any damage.

KLM carried out the test flight above Dutch airspace Saturday. It said initial inspections afterward showed no damage or irregularities from the ash in the air that has led to a ban on air travel over much of Europe since Friday.

The airline says it now plans to return seven airplanes without passengers to Amsterdam from Duesseldorf Sunday.

"We hope to receive permission as soon as possible after that to start up our operation and to transport our passengers to their destinations," said Chief Executive Peter Hartman, who was aboard Saturday's flight. . . .


NPR and CNN worry that Global Warming may have caused Iceland's Volcano!!!

This is just too bizarre:

Diana Rehm (NPR): We do wonder whether there's human involvement in all of these eruptions, earthquakes, storms -

Elise Labott (senior State Department producer for CNN): - and how much global warming has a role in it. You know we've seen a lot of wacky weather but that's just a microcosm for what's happening around the world and how much climate change is contributing to earthquakes and volcanic ash - it's a really good question.

How exactly could global warming cause a volcano to go off?

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