The new border bill

The border with Mexico has 1,969 miles. The Obama administration is acting tough on illegal immigration by signing a bill that would increase the number of border patrol agents and add two unmanned drones.

“But the one thing they are not willing to do is what has been proven to work: a strong physical presence at the border and diligent enforcement of existing law,” Sessions said. “We know how to solve the problem; what we don’t know is why President Obama remains unwilling to do so.” . . .

The bill includes money for 1,500 new border personnel, a pair of unmanned drones and military-style bases along the border. It would be paid for mostly by hiking fees on foreign companies that use U.S. visa programs to import lower-cost labor from countries like India. Firms with more than 50 employees and more than 50 percent of their employees on H-1B work visas would be affected. . . .

Ironically, just last fall the Obama administration cut the number of border agents.

Border Patrol Director of Media Relations Lloyd Easterling confirmed this week . . . that his agency is planning for a net decrease of 384 agents on the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal 2010, which begins on October 1. . . .

USA Today has this from February, 2010:

The Obama administration is proposing to scale back some border security programs set up after the 9/11 attacks . . .

• The Border Patrol, which doubled to 20,000 agents during the Bush administration, would lose 180 agents through attrition. Border staffing would stay the same.

• A "virtual" fence of pole cameras and sensors aimed at stopping illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and terrorists on the U.S.-Mexican border, faces a $225 million cut from $800 million last year. That would delay implementation while a review of the fence, plagued by technical problems, is done.

• Five of the Coast Guard's 13 elite Maritime Security and Safety Teams (MSST), created since 2001 to protect waterfront cities, would be eliminated. Obama is proposing cuts in New York City, San Francisco, Anchorage and King's Bay, Ga.

• The existing 643 miles of concrete-and-steel border fence would be maintained but no new barriers would be built. . . .

The liberal PolitiFact has this:

Spending under the budget heading "border security, fencing, infrastructure and technology" has gone down -- from $1.2 billion in 2007 to $800 million this fiscal year. Obama's proposed 2011 budget calls for trimming the fence budget again, to $574 million. . . .

The other major piece of the fencing budget is the so-called "virtual border fence" championed by Bush. Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was freezing funding for the "virtual border fence" along the U.S. Mexican border. The virtual fence -- which includes cameras, radar and ground sensors to detect illegal border crossings -- has been plagued by cost overruns, missed deadlines and technical bugs, such as the radar motion detector being unable to distinguish between humans and animals crossing the border. The program had gotten several dreadful reviews from the Government Accountability Office. . . .

Rather, Democrats have shifted funding from border fencing to other border security items, such as increasing the number of border patrol officers. . . .

One question is whether the change in positions is something that the administration really believes or whether it is something they are doing to try to change their image before the November election. There is a lot of opposition to the Obama administration's position on the fence.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 68% of U.S. voters now believe the United States should continue to build a fence on the Mexican border. That’s up nine points from March when the Obama administration halted funding for the fence and the highest level of support ever.
Just 21% oppose the continued building of the border fence.
Support for the fence is strong across all demographic groups. But while 76% of Mainstream voters think the United States should continue to build the fence, 67% of the Political Class are opposed to it. . . .


Nutsy Sheryl Crow

How much energy is used changing light bulbs, throwing out perfectly good light bulbs and replacing them with the ones that she wants, and going through and replacing all the paper products? Does she have any idea of the waste that she creates? Possibly she should have included a rule that everyone using a bathroom while she is there would have been limited to using only one square of toilet paper?

Touring the United States and Europe this year, Sheryl Crow arrives at venues with an assortment of environmental demands certain to vex concert promoters, according to a review of the musician’s 2010 backstage rider.

The document, excerpted here, actually has a 2-1/2 page “environmental portion” to be “strictly followed and policed.” Seeking to “minimize the overall environmental impact of our tour,” Crow demands that only biodegradable cups and dinnerware be used by the caterer. Produce should be “organic and purchased from local suppliers as much as possible.” And for the five backstage “watering stations,” water “must be sourced from a local spring water vendor.”

According to Crow’s rider, her tour party travels between gigs in two 45-foot buses, while her equipment is packed into two tractor-trailers.

Crow, 48, also offers promoters “venue greening suggestions.” She wants “traditional light bulbs” swapped out for compact fluorescent bulbs in “all offices, dressing rooms and common areas.” “Eco-friendly cleaning and bathroom products” and “post-consumer recycled toilet paper and paper towel” should also be used. Crow’s rider also notes that, “We strongly encourage you to use renewable sources and/or to buy sustainable energy credits where possible. Many local utilities offer ‘green power’ as an option--please check with yours and opt in.”

The document also details how Crow’s backstage hospitality room is to be stocked. The singer needs an assortment of “biodegradable non-petroleum cups” and 24 “disposable napkins made of 100% recycled fiber.” Crow’s rider also lists a wide variety of drinks and snacks that she needs, including organic coconut water and two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon (“Sheryl’s Favorite” is Stag’s Leap Artemis). Two “good quality, dark, organic chocolate bars” are described as “***VERY IMPORTANT***” . . .

Well, at least she is clear headed:
As in a prior Crow rider, the current version includes her specific liquor schedule. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, she needs a small bottle of Ketel One vodka that will be mixed with a half-gallon of organic cranberry juice. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, Crow requires a bottle of Patron tequila that will be mixed with a half-gallon of organic grapefruit juice. . . .


"Mistrust of Government Is a Beautiful Thing"

A transcript of Penn Jillette's video is here.

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"The Nation's Five Worst Government Services"

As if one needed another reason to like her, Courtney Friel is a conservative.


What does a 2.7% 10-year bond yield tell us?

To have the 10-year bonds at this low of an interest rate is pretty amazing. It tells you something about inflation and/or growth. Over the last year, the inflation rate has been 1.2 percent. If that holds, it implies a real return on bonds of only 1.5 percent. What it does mean is that people's expectations of inflation and growth are both very low.

The 10-year Treasury yield sliding to a 16-month low of 2.68% shouldn't be ignored or explained away. . . . Clearly, at minimum, the 10-year yield at these levels reflects the general reduction in U.S. growth assumptions, both about last quarter and the second half of the year. Yet there is probably more going on here than bonds reliably pricing in another economic contraction that would upend stocks. There's even a chance that neither stocks nor bonds have the outlook wrong. The argument between the two asset classes might instead be a subdued and agreeable discussion.

At the most basic level, both markets seem to have internalized the idea that the Federal Reserve's zero-rate policy is the law of the land for the investable future, and policy makers stand ready to throw money at the economy's problems, be they evident or hypothetical. With overnight lending rates at zero and the two-year note yield barely above half a percent in yield, the incentives for banks and other leveraged investors to simply coast along the yield curve remain strong, even at 2.68% on the 10-year. . . .

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Democrat dirty tricks?

Democrats help Tea Party candidate in Pa. congressional race in effort to help Democrat candidate Brian Lentz by taking votes away from Republican opponent. Democrats have also apparently infiltrated tea party rallies and posed as kooks.


Chrysler's Update on the gun rack

When I live in Texas in the mid-1980s there were still some pick up trucks with gun racks and guns in them. Chrysler still thinks that there is a market for a more discrete version of those racks.

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A retired police Sergeant talks about: "Cops and Armed Citizens"

Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith has a very thoughtful piece on the relationship between cops and armed citizens available here. She looks like a very interesting person who does a lot of speaking across the country.



Media bias

People believe that there is a three-to-one liberal to conservative bias in the media. The second graph shows that Democrats are fairly happy with the media and Democrats believe that the news is balanced, not so either Republicans or Independents.

Gallup also reports that "In U.S., Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Remains a Rarity." Possibly the poll numbers discussed above explain this result here.


Kentucky Homeowner Shoots Would-be Thief

This is an amusing story. It provides the defenses raised by the family of the theft and then in an understated way shoots them down.


Democrats pretending to move towards middle

This was the same thought that I was having. Obama makes himself look moderate by attacking the left when there is actually no policy change on his part. Indeed, Obama wanted the public option in health care, but the problem wasn't him, but that they couldn't get all the Democrats to sign on. On the issue of small business, they want to give out loans at the same time that they are raising taxes. If you want help, small firms have to go hat in hand and beg for money, money that will be doled out on criteria that the government sets (e.g., affirmative action).

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, known for his smoothness and precision, seems to have erred egregiously twice in just weeks.

First, he speculated on TV that Democrats might lose the House, an inexcusable blunder because it is his job to omit the truth — not lie, just omit the truth — when the truth hurts. Then, there he was in print this week, deriding “professional liberals” who label President Barack Obama too moderate, saying they need “to be drug tested.”

Gibbs should have expected this would enrage liberals. Maybe that’s just what he planned.

Facing reporters Wednesday, Gibbs neither apologized nor backtracked. Instead, he doubled down. He was angry at the liberal TV pundits who bash the president, Gibbs said, standing by his words. Then he said he wasn’t the only one at the White House that felt this.

If Gibbs is purposely picking fights with the left, it’s not too surprising. In fact it’s consistent with the White House effort to position Obama closer to the center — where he traditionally needs to be for a reelection victory in 2012.

That’s where former President Bill Clinton went after the voters threw the congressional Democrats out of power in 1994. He won reelection by a comfortable margin.

Now Obama, excoriated by conservatives as a free spender who wants to socialize medicine and coddle U.S. adversaries, is starting to remake his image in the same fashion.
In the last few weeks, for example, he has presented himself as the relentless advocate of small business — long a GOP bastion, given its abhorrence of taxes and regulation. The small-business trade group, the National Federation of Independent Business, is about as Republican-friendly as a business organization can get.

Yet Obama now rarely misses the chance to tout the sanctity of the mom-and-pop shop and voice support for legislation that eases lending to Main Street. Over the last few weeks, he has stopped at a sign-making company in Washington and the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J., to showcase his support. Half of his July 17 weekly address was about this.

“Helping small businesses, cutting taxes, making credit available,” Obama said in New Jersey, “this is as American as apple pie.” . . .

Now the Dems have passed a $600 million border bill in the Senate, but they have done so after previous cuts in the budget.


Comparing Workers in State and Local Governments Versus the Private Sector

The public sector sure hasn't been doing its share of sacrificing.

It's not as if state and local workers are doing worse than private-sector workers - they're actually doing better.

Compensation - wages and benefits, especially pensions - was higher for state and local government workers in 2009,according to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. Average compensation for private sector workers was $61,000, of which 18% was benefits. State and local government workers on average earned $70,000, of which 24% was benefits.

The mix of occupations in the private sector and the government is different, making direct wage comparisons complex. But it cannot be denied that state and local government workers' pay has risen faster than that in the private firms - by 19% since 2000, compared with 9% for private sector workers.

These higher levels of compensation don't even include the biggest benefit of government service-job security. It's hard to get fired. Yes, some government workers have lost jobs, but nowhere near as many as the private sector. Between 2000 and 2009, private sector employment declined by three percent, whereas state and local government employment grew by nine percent. . . .


New Fox News piece: How the Democrats Caused the Increase in Jobless Claims

My newest piece starts this way:

News headlines worryingly point to "US jobless claims hit six-month high," "Wall Street Slides Further on More Signs of Slowdown," or "Latest US Jobless Claims are a Bad Omen." Quite a contrast from news headlines just a month ago touting: "New jobless claims fall to near two-year low." What could happen in just a month? Has there really been that much of a worsening in the fundamental jobs picture in that short of time?

There is actually a very simple answer for the change. While a month ago those who filed for unemployment insurance would only get 26 weeks of benefits, over the last few weeks people can get at least 95 weeks of benefits. The result is something that I predicted in a piece that I wrote for Fox News on July 20th.

When unemployment insurance extension ended, new filings fell from around 472,000 to 429,000. Now that they have been reinstated, new filings for the last two weeks have been 482,000 and 484,000. . . .

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Some Dems openly wish that Palin had died in plane crash

Palin derangement syndrom is alive and well.

A New Hampshire Democratic candidate has apologized for a Facebook post in which he wished Sarah Palin and the father of her grandchild, Levi Johnston, had been on the plane that crashed Tuesday, killing former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Keith Halloran posted an apology Thursday on his Facebook page saying he wishes the best for Palin, Johnston, and their families. . . .

State Rep. Timothy Horrigan stepped down after writing that "a dead Palin wd [sic] be even more dangerous than a live one...she is all about her myth & if she was dead, she cldn't [sic] commit any more gaffes," the Union Leader reported. . . .

Halloran, who is running for the state House of Representatives, made his comment in response to a state Republican lawmaker's post expressing disappointment that some news accounts of Stevens' death focused on negative aspects of his career.

"Just wish Sarah and Levy [sic] were on board," Halloran wrote in reference to Palin and Johnston, her daughter Bristol's ex-boyfriend. . . .

Before he apologized, Halloran had sent a snarky message to The Associated Press through Facebook saying, "It's just a tempest in their Tea Pot." . . .



Babies of Illegal Aliens make up 8 percent of US Births

This probably represents some real costs imposed on state government in education and other costs.

One in twelve babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were the offspring of illegal immigrants, according to a new study, a statistic that could inflame the debate over birthright citizenship.

Undocumented immigrants make up slightly more than 4% of the U.S. adult population. However, their babies represented twice that share, or 8%, of all births on U.S. soil in 2008, according to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center’s report.

“Unauthorized immigrants are younger than the rest of the population, are more likely to be married and have higher fertility rates than the rest of the population,” said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at Pew in Washington, D.C. . . .

See also this article.


Fed says that economy is slowing

Fed sees a slowing economy

Question: How can Obama blame Bush for a slowing economy that has started slowing 18 months after Obama took office?

Downgrading its assessment of the economy, the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee said the recovery "has slowed in recent months," and that the "pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated." The committee repeated its commitment to keep its target for the federal funds rate, at which banks lend to each other overnight, at "exceptionally low levels" for an "extended period." . . .

It looks like the second quarter's GDP numbers could be revised down from 2.4 percent to 1 percent.

June’s trade deficit swelled 18.8% to $49.9 billion, the highest since October 2008. That was much worse than Wall Street predicted — or what the Commerce Department estimated in the recent Q2 GDP report. The new report, along with recent inventory data, suggest Commerce will revise down Q2 economic growth from the already-sluggish 2.4% annual rate to about 1%, according to Action Economics. Action Economics is looking for stronger retail inventory figures later this week that would imply a 1.4% GDP pace.
Those downward revisions may bolster Q3 figures. Weaker inventory growth in Q2 suggests there will be less of a drop-off in Q3. Q2’s fat trade gap may mean the same.
But there’s no denying that the recovery is losing steam just as head winds hit. The inventory restocking cycle, which had fueled growth in recent quarters, clearly is ending. . . .

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Last year income net earnings and personal income only rose in three metro areas, guess which three

Well, at least Obama and the Democrats are ensuring that government workers are doing well.

Personal incomes fell across the U.S. last year except in areas with a high concentration of federal government and military jobs, the Commerce Department said Monday. They declined most in places with a lot of housing and finance jobs.

Among the 52 metro areas with populations of more than one million, in only three did both net earnings and the broader measure of personal income both rise.

All three had strong ties to the federal government: the Washington, D.C., area and two areas with a large military presence, San Antonio and Virginia Beach, Va. In all three, the biggest gains were among workers in the federal government and the military; private sector compensation fell.

The same picture was reflected nationally, as private employers froze and in many cases reduced workers' pay and hours.

The only other big metro areas with rising personal incomes—Baltimore and Pittsburgh—had falling net earnings but a sharp increase in government checks, such as unemployment benefits. . . .

The Bureau of Economic Analysis report can be found here.

Large MSAs. Among the 52 MSAs with a population of one million or more, only three had an increase in both net earnings and personal income in 2009 (Washington, D.C.; San Antonio, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Virginia). The biggest gains in compensation in these three MSAs were in the federal government (civilian and military combined). Private sector compensation declined in these three MSAs.

Two additional large MSAs had an increase in personal income, despite a decline in net earnings, because of relatively large gains in transfer receipts (Baltimore, Maryland and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).

On average, personal income declined 2.3 percent for these 52 MSAs, with growth rates ranging from 1.2 percent in Virginia Beach to -5.0 percent in Las Vegas.

At the same time it is nice to note that government workers are getting paid so much more than private workers.

Federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data are the latest available.

The federal compensation advantage has grown from $30,415 in 2000 to $61,998 last year.

Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years…


More bad incentives for the unemployed

People are only eligible for new housing assistance benefits as long as they are unemployed. If you add it to the unemployment insurance benefits and the health insurance subsidy, you create an additional incentive to be unemployed. But the most glaring issue is that the money prevents people from doing sensible things such as renting out their house and moving into a smaller apartment. The housing aid is only available as long as one lives in the house.

The Obama administration is providing $3 billion to unemployed homeowners facing foreclosure in the nation's toughest job markets.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday it will send $2 billion to 17 states that have unemployment rates higher than the national average for a year. They will use the money for programs to aid unemployed homeowners. Some of those states have already designed such programs.

Another $1 billion will go to a new program being run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It will provide homeowners with emergency zero-interest rate loans of up to $50,000 for up to two years.

The administration was required to launch the HUD emergency loan program by the financial regulatory bill signed by President Barack Obama last month. . . .

California will get the largest share of money for the Treasury program, at $476 million. Florida is in line for nearly $239 million. Illinois will receive $166 million and Ohio will receive $149 million.

The Obama administration has rolled out numerous attempts to tackle the foreclosure crisis but has made only a small dent in the problem. More than 40 percent, or about 530,000 homeowners, have fallen out of the administration's main effort to assist those facing foreclosure.

That program, known as Making Home Affordable, provides lenders with incentives to reduce mortgage payments. So far, it has provided permanent help to about 390,000 homeowners, or 30 percent of the 1.3 million who have enrolled since March 2009. . . .

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The US is Bankrupt

If you believe this article, and I do, the US is in a much worse situation than Greece.

From the IMF

The U.S. fiscal gap associated with today’s federal fiscal policy is huge for plausible discount rates (Table 2). Using the same discount rate (3 percent) used by the Trustees of the Social Security Administration (2009) in their own Social Security-specific fiscal gap analysis and by CBO (2010e), and the infinite horizon definition, the U.S. fiscal gap is about 14 percent of the present discounted value of U.S. GDP under the Staff’s Scenario. This implies that closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP, that is to say that fiscal revenues and spending would need to change so that the primary balance predicted under that scenario improves by this amount every year into the indefinite future starting next year.2 Using the Alternative Scenario the fiscal gap increases to about 141⁄2 percent of the present discounted value of GDP (owing to the assumption that tax cuts are made permanent).

And guess what the IMF thinks are the "main drivers" of the problem are.

The main drivers of the fiscal gap are rising healthcare costs that under current law will boost mandatory spending to above 18 percent of GDP by 2050. Since the federal government has historically collected about 18.4 percent of GDP in tax revenues, this means that mandatory programs may absorb all federal revenues sometime around 2050, or as early as 2026 when the cost of servicing the debt is added. As a result, future entitlement reforms will be necessary to restore fiscal sustainability.

By contrast, the Fiscal Gap for Greece is 11.5 percent.

the fiscal gap, or the present value difference between all future expenditures and receipts. The Greek fiscal gap is staggering. Calculations developed with my colleagues at Freiberg University put it at 11.5 per cent of the value of Greece’s future GDP. . . .

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The wealthy have been the most loyal Obama supporters

Are the wealthy who support Obama trial lawyers and others who make their living off of liberal Democrat policies?

Affluent Americans are Barack Obama's most secure class of support. They have stuck by this president at three to six times the rate of all other income groups since early 2009, based on a RealClearPolitics analysis. . . .

Obama's approval rating has plummeted by 24 percentage points among those with a household income that is less than $50k annually. He's dropped 13 points within the $50k to $100k bloc over the same period. And he's fallen 17 points within the $100k to $150k bloc.

What about those households with income exceeding $150k? Obama has merely declined 4 points, based upon Gallup polling from February-March 2009 (after Obama's honeymoon ended) to June-July 2010. . . .

But few of Obama's affluent supporters have turned on him. That's the salient point. In effect, almost half of affluent adults can be considered part of the Democratic base.

These are the Americans who especially don't vote their economic interest. They are more likely to identify as liberal, live in a city and reside near a coast.

They are also less likely to be a serious casualty of the financial crisis. The Wall Street crisis came to define the Great Recession. But about three in four job losses have been blue collar. That suggests affluent Democrats are not only voting their social interest over their economic interest. They are also less likely to have their current political allegiance questioned by their economic interest. . . .


President of AFL-CIO claims that every economist in the country knows that "we don't have a deficit problem"

I guess that I am surprised that the reporters questioning the AFL-CIO president didn't call him on his assertions about the deficit and that they and everyone else knows that there is not a deficit problem. Possibly they thought that everyone knew he was nuts, but it would have been nice for one reporter to say that there was at least one reporter who thought that there was a deficit problem and say that they were the one or that they could cite some economists who thought that the deficits were a problem.

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New Fox News piece: Democrats Play Favorites On Jobs

Here is the conclusion of my newest piece:

Democrats shouldn't be rewarded for simply giving jobs to their political supporters. Many Americans are suffering. The goal isn't how many Democrat supporters get raises or keep their jobs, but how many Americans have jobs.

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Obama steps up attacks on Bush

Bush might not be on the ballot this year, but he might as well be. As I pointed out recently, these arguments don't make a lot of sense.

President Barack Obama attacked the economic policies of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush in Bush's home state on Monday as evidence of the way Republicans would operate if given power in Nov. 2 U.S. congressional elections.

At a fund-raising event for Democrats in Dallas, where Bush now lives, Obama said the former president's "disastrous" policies had driven the U.S. economy into the ground and turned budget surpluses into deficits.

Obama defended his repeated references to Bush's policies, saying they were necessary to remind Americans of the weak economy he inherited from Bush in January 2009.

"The policies that crashed the economy, that undercut the middle class, that mortgaged our future, do we really want to go back to that, or do we keep moving our country forward?" Obama said at another fund-raising event in Austin, referring to Bush's eight years as president.

In reminding voters about the policies of the unpopular Bush, Obama is trying to protect his fellow Democrats' majorities in Congress and limit anticipated Republican gains. . . .

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Democrats opposed requiring to have a 5 percent down payment on housing

Senator Corker tried to get the Financial regulation bill to include a required down payment for buying a house that "is equal to not less than 5 percent of the purchase price of the property securing the residential mortgage." Of course, there shouldn't have to even have a requirement, but a new government regulation is necessary simply because of other government regulations forcing these risky loans to be given out. The Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 didn't deal with the major housing problems that caused the financial crisis. The reason for a 57-42 party line vote to strike down Corker's amendment:

Democrats did oppose the amendment, with one reason being given by Dodd being that it would have disadvantaged home buyers who had good credit and solid incomes but lacked the case to make required down payments.

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The Bank that Maxine Waters got government help for was probably a special case

Waters' trial could prove to be very tough for Democrats.

When then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced creation of the so-called "Capital Purchase Program" in October 2008, he said it was directed at "healthy institutions." Nevertheless OneUnited Bank of Boston received a $12.1 million capital injection from the Treasury Department on Dec. 19, 2008. The money has not been repaid, according to Treasury Department documents.
Records show that as of Sept. 30, 2008, the latest quarter before the investment, OneUnited had "Tier 1 capital" of just 1.8 percent of assets. Of the 363 banks that got TARP money in the fourth quarter of 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, that was the lowest Tier 1 ratio.
In fact, none of the 987 banks that got TARP money between October 2008 and December 2009 reported a lower ratio in the quarter before they received federal cash. . . .
Tier 1 capital, which includes equity plus disclosed reserves, is considered by many banking experts to be the best way to gauge a bank's financial health. Banks are required to have a minimum Tier 1 ratio of 3 or 4 percent, depending on their classification, according to rules posted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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Man probably saves his life with gun

Given that the homeowner here knew the criminal, it is hard to believe that the beating would have stopped short of killing the homeowner.

INDIANAPOLIS -- A homeowner on Indianapolis' southeast side will not face any charges after he fought off an attacker at his home Sunday.
The attack happened Sunday evening at a home in the 1500 block of East Bradbury Avenue, police said.
Officers found James Neligh, 59, badly beaten and covered in blood.
Investigators said Jeremy Stokes, 23, had done some work for the homeowner in the past and was in the home to price another job when he pulled out a pipe wrench and began beating Neligh.
The homeowner was able to fight off the attacker once, but he returned again with the pipe wrench, police said.
Neligh was then able to get to his handgun and shoot the suspect twice, once in the stomach and once in the arm. . . .


County level unemployment rates from January 2007 to the latest numbers for May 2010

The change month-by-month is available here. This really makes one realize that the unemployment rate was just 5.6 percent in November, 2008; 6.3 percent in February, 2009 when the stimulus passed; and now the national rate is now 9.5 percent. Note that these are apparently unweighted county averages. The actual national unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in November, 2008; 8.2 percent in February, 2009; and 9.7 percent in May, 2010.

Thanks to Lonan Dubh for the link.

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I will be on WBAL at 2:30 to talk about the Unemployment picture

We are going to talk about this piece that I had last Friday.

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With the new public sector "Jobs" bill, some things to keep in mind.

Anyone who wanted a lesson on the unreasonable public workers' demands need look no farther than New Jersey. In exchange for promising not to lay off any teachers, Governor Chris Christie (R) asked that public teachers contribute 1.5% of their salaries toward the cost of their benefits package and accept for a one-year wage freeze. They refused. Why should taxpayers from the rest of the US step into prop up these greedy unions?

Why shouldn't states save some money on their completely out of control state pensions? Some real horror stories are here.

Just something to think about when you read reports such as this:

House members are giving up a couple of days reconnecting with folks in their districts this week to pass a jobs bill that Democrats say is crucial to the nation's well-being.

The unusual in-and-out session was called because the Senate waited until last Thursday, after the House had already recessed for its summer break, to pass a $26 billion bill to prevent tens of thousands of teachers and an equal number of other state and local government workers from being laid off before the November election.

With the new school year just weeks away, election season fast approaching and the overall job picture still bleak, Democrats had no choice but to act quickly. Many of those whose jobs are being saved belong to teacher unions or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, two key components of the Democrats' political base whose get-out-the-vote efforts in November could determine whether they hold or lose control of Congress.

"This legislation is about creating and saving American jobs, and preventing a double-dip recession," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in announcing the special session just hours after the Senate passed the bill that the administration says could save the jobs of nearly 300,000 teachers and other public workers. . . .

Democrats and Republicans are complaining about having to come back for the vote on Tuesday.

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What is the difference between tailing a criminal's car and putting a GPS tracker on it?

The dividing lines here seem pretty fuzzy. It seems OK to track someone's cell phone calls (can they track the cell phone's GPS?).

Ruling that federal agents erred in attaching a satellite tracking device to a vehicle without a search warrant, a federal appeals court has reversed the life sentence of man accused of running a major Washington drug ring.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday found that the government's use of GPS technology to track defendant Antoine Jones' Jeep violated the Fourth Amendment.

Civil liberties groups that aided in the appeal of Mr. Jones, whose case involved the largest cocaine seizure in city history, called the ruling an important legal victory for privacy rights.

The three-judge ruling called the GPS information key to the federal prosecution of Mr. Jones, who owned Club Levels in Northeast Washington across the street from the Metropolitan Police Department's Fifth District headquarters.

"The GPS data were essential to the government's case," the court ruled. "By combining them with Mr. Jones's cell-phone records, the government was able to paint a picture of Mr. Jones's movements that made credible the allegation that he was involved in drug trafficking." . . .



The Extravagance of Obama

President Obama flew by helicopter less than six miles within DC to give a talk on the economy.

He choppered to Gelberg Signs, the Washington, D.C.-based company where he'll deliver remarks on the economy and July employment numbers. According to Google maps, the drive would have taken about 20 minutes from the White House.

By CBS News' Mark Knoller's count, this is the president's 300th flight on Marine One.

As to why the president choppered to a company in D.C., spokesman Bill Burton said, "Probably because it's an easier than a motorcade through the city in the middle of the day."


CBS News from a couple of years ago on the Anchor Baby "Problem"

The inability for the illegal Mexican woman to understand why Americans might not like paying for her medical care and the treatment for her child and giving her child citizenship so that it is easier for her entire family to become US citizens is baffling. There seems to be not a shred of concern that what she was doing was wrong. She thanks God but she doesn't believe that she should be thankful for the Americans who are paying their benefits.


Is the US paying to set up Mosques around the world?

They are if you believe Fareed Zakaria at Newsweek:

To that end, early in its tenure the Bush administration began a serious effort to seek out and support moderate Islam. Since then, Washington has funded mosques, schools, institutes, and community centers that are trying to modernize Islam around the world.

We should be encouraging groups like the one behind this project, not demonizing them. Were this mosque being built in a foreign city, chances are that the U.S. government would be funding it. . . .

Is this really true? Would the US help set up Christian churches around the world?


Airport Hotel Clerk Stops Armed Robbery

I assume that this hotel clerk had a concealed handgun permit, though it isn't mentioned in the story. There is a little irony to the fact that there was a recent debate in Georgia about letting permitted concealed handguns around airports.

An airport hotel clerk killed a would-be robber Sunday afternoon during an exchange of gunfire that also left the clerk wounded, Atlanta police said.

The incident happened about 1 p.m. at the Travelodge Atlanta Airport.

Maj. Keith Meadows said the clerk was shot in the abdomen and rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he is in stable condition.

A gunman "attempted to rob the establishment and during the course of that robbery, we believe the clerk pulled his handgun and at that point they exchanged gunfire," Meadows said. "It seems the would-be robber was struck once in the head and killed on scene." . . .