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BAILOUT: OBAMA IS PRESENT

Capture9-25-2008-11.52.55 PM

If Obama was a leader, a man of action, who believed in change, why didn’t he stand before the President, the leadership of the House and Senate, Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson and say:

THIS DEAL STINKS AND IS BAD FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!

Here’s my plan …

  • Characterize the solution as a “workout” not a “bailout” with no special or hidden provisions. Everything above board, no gentleman’s agreements and no favoring special interests.
  • No expansion of the Department of Treasury with a new bureaucracy to buy and manage toxic debt.
  • No ceding of power to a single man with unlimited power and no judicial review.
  • Suspend mark-to-market accounting and replace it with a three or five year rolling average to prevent the impact of legislatively-mandated accounting which guarantees losses in the early life of derivatives. This will prevent the automatic insolvency of many financial institutions as the rebuild their balance sheets.
  • Eliminate FAS 140 and any other accounting trick that allows you to keep risky investments or other assets and liabilities off the parent’s balance sheet. All subsidiaries would face a full consolidation of their financials for regulatory purposes.
  • Money would be supplied in the form of fully collateralized loans at Treasury (6-month) plus two percent. Collateral will can consist of assets of any class that have been correctly valued.
  • Reconstitute good loans into covered loans for sale on the open market.
  • Dissolve derivatives with little or no value with an open auction.
  • Set rules and regulations for the creation and marketing of derivatives.
  • Prohibit the use of derivative securities being used for core capital requirements and specify limits for derivatives to be held by pension and mutual funds.
  • Regulate hedge funds as unchartered banks.
  • Require financial reports quarterly.
  • Limit excessive executive compensation for companies using federal funds in workout mode.
  • Seek the repatriation for bonus funds earned by executives which were conditioned on the sale of derivatives or toxic paper.
  • Prosecute wrongdoing whenever possible.

Well you get the idea … there are any number of things he could have said or done. He has smart advisors and yet he stood there and, once again, symbolically voted PRESENT.

This is not the type of man or leader I want to see defending this nation and rebuilding our fragile economy.

-- steve

P.S. John McCain defied the President, the leaders of Congress, the Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve to say that, as the leader of the Party and its Presidential Candidate, he did not make this deal and neither did the top Republican leadership – and the current deal stinks.

That is courage! And that’s why we need a McCain in office. We may not agree with him on each and every issue and many may not like him personally – but the socialistic alternative of Obama, Pelosi and Reid are unacceptable.


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


Democrats and Fannie Mae: Beginning of the end?

1999 and the clarity of a New York Times’ article …

The September 30, 1999 edition of the New York Times featured an article which highlights the tone set by Congressional democrats and others to gain political advantage among their core constituency: the poor, racial and ethnic minorities and the disaffected who gravitate toward a loose coalition of individual communities with a political agenda that makes up the democrat party.

Relaxed lending standards …

Not only have democrats constantly demanded that lending requirements be relaxed so that people who were unable to qualify for conventional financing could be accommodated, but they also continually cried discrimination when lenders refused to make loans to those who did not seem able to repay the loan or keep up with their payments. These democrats continually urged Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reserve more and more money to meet their congressionally-mandated “affordable housing lending” requirements by purchasing more and more loans to be securitized into the secondary market. While these loans were referred to as “affordable housing loans” or “community housing loans,” they were little more than subprime loans purchased by the GSEs by congressional fiat.

Consider what the newspaper of record for the far-left liberal establishment, the New York Times, reported. 

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending (Published: September 30, 1999)

“In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.”

“The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.”

“Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.”

GSE fraud …

We now know how Fannie Mae responded to the pressure to maintain its phenomenal growth … they simply cooked the books to maintain record earnings which produced record multi-million dollar bonuses for those who were previously a  part of the Clinton White House (Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick among them).

“In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.”

Many lenders were excoriated by community activists and their organizations, Barack Obama’s ACORN among them, when it appeared that they were charging minorities higher rates than ordinary borrowers. While we can not discount the GREED of lenders, many of these loans were made a rates which fairly compensated for the subprime risk undertaken by the lender. Of course, lenders also sought additional guarantees and used FHA insurance programs and so-called PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) which was designed to protect, not the borrower, but the lender in case of a borrower default.

Spreading the blame …

Had this been the only thing happening in mortgage markets, we would not be facing today’s mortgage-related crisis. This is where the greedy Wall Street Wizards are directly responsible for the current fiasco. They were the ones who continually sliced and diced mortgages which were purchased by other greedy investors  using borrowed money to amplify their yields. Unfortunately, leveraged investments which yield astronomical profits, also, just as quickly, spiral into the ground at a supersonic speed.

Alt-A?

'' ‘Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,’' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. '’Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.’''

'”Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.”

Perhaps the data was only sketchy to some …

“The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), enacted by Congress in 1975 and implemented by the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation C, requires lending institutions to report public loan data.”  <Source>

This somewhat detailed data collected from the Loan Application Registers of lenders, was to later serve as the statistical basis for community activists to sue individual lenders who did not do their part in making loans available to those who could not afford traditional credit or adjusting the mortgage rate to compensate for an increased rate of default.

“In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.”

Let members of Congress continue to claim that this was an unforeseen event …

While Congress, as well as the Administration’s regulatory agencies (FED, FDIC, OTS, OCC, NCUA, SEC, etc.) failed to regulate financial derivatives, which were financially-engineered products of such complexity that they could only be priced by elaborate computer models, and could not clearly see the highly-leveraged risk build up that was held off the parent corporation’s balance sheets through ENRON-style accounting tricks (Financial Accounting Standard 140), they knew the consequences of a downturn in the mortgage marketplace and its effects on the GSEs.

Why didn’t the GSEs sound the alarm?

Perhaps it was because they were so busy lobbying Congress to continually expand the authorized amount of mortgage purchases, increasing the cap on the individual size of these mortgages, expanding their charter to allow the purchase of new and exotic loan products like negative amortizing loans and payment option adjustable rate mortgages (ARMS). Or because their systems were wildly out of control and could not be audited? Or simply, because they were cooking the books to produce the numbers demanded by Wall Street?

So for whatever reason, the GSEs were reluctant to tell Congress they were getting into trouble. Or if they did tell select democrat members of Congress, it may have been on a hush-hush, double dark secret basis.

1999 and someone says “BAILOUT"?”

'' ‘From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,’' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. '’If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.'’'

All about Fannie Mae …

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.”

Of course, this assumes that the GSEs can adequately manage the risk of these subprime purchases. And they appeared to have done so using a combination of exotic financial maneuvers based on derivatives.

Democrat dreams: playing the “race” card …

“Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.”

“Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990's. … In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.”

“Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.”

According to the democrats, this is a societal problem which should be remedied by society at the cost of all citizen/taxpayers.

HUD: The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development …

“In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.”

“The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.”

And who was HUD’s leader?

Why it appears that it was none other than the Clinton-appointed Secretary, Henry G. Cisneros, who served from January 19, 1997 to January 22, 1993.

The very same Henry Cisneros who was embroiled in a major scandal. The cover-up, had it not succeeded, may have sent the Clintons and other to jail for allegedly obstructing justice.

The Cisneros cover-up investigation cost the taxpayers $20 million dollars -- and was never completed …

“David Barrett is the Independent Counsel, the last of his kind, engaged to investigate the shenanigans of Clinton administration HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros.  Cisneros lied to the FBI about hush money paid to a mistress, pled guilty, paid a fine and was, wonder of wonders, then pardoned by President Clinton in one of his last acts in office.”

“Barrett's investigation has lasted 10 years and cost taxpayers more than $20 million.  Why so long and so much for a garden-variety scandal, long since seemingly dispatched?  Well, unconfirmed but unrefuted reports indicate Barrett expanded his work to look into IRS and Justice Department interference with his investigation as well as harassment of Clinton enemies.  Unconfirmed but unrefuted reports indicate Barrett found stuff, lots of stuff, that even if not prosecutable by Barrett could prove highly damaging to the Clintons - including Hillary Clinton's political future - and the former officials involved.”

“The details of what Barrett found are in his report, but he cannot release that, or even discuss it, without approval from the three-judge federal panel overseeing his work who, to date, have kept it tightly under seal.  A barrage of legal motions, filed by the Clintons' law firm, Williams and Connolly, and congressional maneuvering, led by Democrat Senators Byron Dorgan, Carl Levin, Richard Durbin, John Kerry and Representative Henry Waxman, have thus far successfully forced redaction of some of the report's more explosive revelations and removed Barrett's funding.  Senator Levin has apparently seen at least some of the report's information, and is thus presumed to understand the potentially devastating political stakes.” <Source>

Note: apparently the government has removed the site where Barrett’s conclusions that the cover-up succeeded and where the redacted documents could have been found.

Cisneros at Countrywide …

Cisneros who was convicted and who received one of those infamous last-minute pardons from President Clinton was to go on to serve on the Board of Directors of Countrywide Funding as, if you can believe this, a member of the audit and ethics committee. Life can be so ironic for those with wealth, power and political connections.

Bottom-line …

Everybody knew what might happen in a real estate downturn where the value of a borrower’s property could not support either continual re-financing or be sold at a price above the loan amount. While the GREED of Wall Street was primarily to blame, along with artificially low interest rates, a lax regulatory environment and a complicit congress … the only people who will suffer will be the American taxpayer.

Fast forward …

To trust the democrats to resolve our current financial crisis or even defend our nation from its enemies, both foreign and domestic is a stretch.

And, to elect Barack Obama as the President would be to exponentially compound this tragedy as he was directly involved in ACORN’s operations and has a personal acquaintance with real estate-related scandal. His work for slum lord and convicted felon, Tony Rezko should be examined in detail –- and even Barack Obama admits that his home purchase, with the assistance of Rezko, was a MISTAKE! Not fraud, not a bribe, not a friendly reward – A MISTAKE.

What can YOU do?

Vote for the candidate not for the corrupt party to which he belongs.

Do not give those who are complicit in fraud and deceit a second chance to pick your pocket.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's 'St. Matthew's Passion' on a ukulele.” - Bagdikian's Observation

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending - New York Times


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


OBAMA SURROGATE: BLACK RACISM?

If any other elected official had said  “Palin 'Don't Care Too Much What They Do With Jews and Blacks,’ the media would be loudly shouting racism! So why does black democrat congressman, Alcee Hastings – a nasty piece of work who was impeached and removed from office as a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida for corruption and perjury and who should not be serving in public office, get a pass.

According to ABC News …

“ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Florida Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings pointed to Sarah Palin on Wednesday to rally Jews to Obama.”

" ‘If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention,’ said Hastings. ‘Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through.’"

“Hastings, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, made his comments in Washington, D.C., while participating in a panel discussion sponsored by the National Jewish Democratic Council.”

“After saying that Palin ‘don't care too much’ about Jews and blacks, Hastings argued that African Americans and Jews should come together behind Obama because there are many issues on which they agree.” 

" ‘Just like Jews, blacks care about affordable health care, energy independence, and the separation of church and state,’ said Hastings. ‘And just like blacks, Jews care about equal pay for equal work, investment in alternative energy, and a woman's right to choose.’"

“Asked what the congressman meant, Hastings spokesman David Goldenberg told ABC News that he was trying to argue that Palin is an ‘extremely conservative woman who is out of touch with mainstream America.’"

Supporting civil rights for everyone …

Traditionally, the Jewish vote skewed heavily democratic and Jews have been traditionally in the forefront of the socialist movements. They have also traditionally supported black causes as they are extremely sensitive to the issues of human rights and the oppression of minorities.

Case-by-case support …

However, considering Barack Obama’s 20+ year inculcation in black liberation theology at the pew of the racist and anti-American Reverend Wright and his open associations with other radical haters such as Father Phleger and the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan, one should reconsider, in my opinion, voting for someone with such a limited viewpoint and close associations with people of extremely dubious and dangerous character. 

Code words?

In a turnabout with those who are fond of pointing to code words which supposedly convey a racial or ethnic meaning outside of the actual word’s definition, why should not Hastings’ words “conservative”  and “gun toting” to be interpreted as being synonymous with the stereotype of the so-called southern white “cracker”  who is traditionally opposed to people that are not “like us?”

In my opinion, Alcee Hastings is just another corrupt elected official who exists because of his image and his patronage gifts to those who deliver the votes. A slimeball who uses race for personal power, prestige and profits much in the same manner as the Reverends Jackson and Sharpton view everything through a racial prism.

Showing class …

Regardless of what you may think of her, Sarah Palin has presented a professional image consistent with the behavior we expect from a politician running for office.

“Asked about the Hastings criticism, Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said, ‘We’re taking a pass.’"

And perhaps we, the people, and the good people in Florida should take a pass on the racial politics of Alcee Hastings … who seems to be living in yesteryear as he tries to scare senior citizens and those of the Jewish Faith into supporting Barack Obama when the evidence of his inexperience and dubious associations suggest otherwise.

What can YOU do?

Consider that some of those who always cry racism or view things through the prism of race and ethnicity are often the ones that are most openly racist among us.

Deny the vote to any candidate whose experience, associations and political philosophy does not bode well for the people of the United States.

Make sure you, your family and your neighbors vote. If you do nothing and someone who damages the United States achieves power – you are part of the problem.

-- steve

Quote of the day: No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” -- Judge Gideon J. Tucker

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Political Radar: Florida Congressman: Palin 'Don't Care Too Much What They Do With Jews and Blacks'


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


Why I hate Wall Street Wizards...

Other than the fact that they are like lawyers, parasites who profit from both the fortunes and misfortunes of others, the primary reason I hate these bastards is that they produce nothing of value and destroy anything and everything they can as long as they can make a profit.

My naive view of Wall Street …

As I was taught in junior high school, Wall Street is America’s capital source: the money raised on Wall Street helps for companies and fuels their growth and expansion while they provide goods and services to the people of the world. I was also taught that the markets were self-regulating and that supply and demand was the operative principle. If nobody purchased your products or services, you went out of business, innovated other solutions, penetrated other markets – and moved forward in a positive manner.

The reality …

At the time, I did not even consider that the markets could be rigged or that the market could be manipulated with disastrous consequences. However, in High School, various and sundry Wall Street scandals were included in history class and I began to consider Wall Street somewhat like keeping a pet tiger. It could be rewarding, but the tiger could, in a moment of instinctual preservation or hunger, make you its next meal.

But what makes me really mad is …

Wall Street’s attitude that decent companies who are associated with problematical industries can be artificially manipulated to the point where their survival is questionable.

From TheStreet.com …

“What to Short When You Can't Short Financials”

“It has been, and continues to be, a disastrous situation for financial stocks.”

“Now, all the major investment houses are either bankrupt, no longer independent or looking for options rather than stay as investment banks. Since we can't short these stocks anymore, there may be another way to take advantage of this weakness through another sector also impacted by weakness in the financials.”

"’The issue we want to discuss for a moment is the "collateral damage’ to businesses because of these companies' failure and continued problems. It takes technology to run these large-transaction and heavily regulated businesses. Now that so many are no longer around and the rest are seeing business shrink, what happens to the technology companies providing these firms with their technological infrastructure? These are big contracts that are disappearing, and with existing clients falling like flies, the possibility of growth or up-selling these customers has also become impossible.”

“In fact, a large percentage of revenue for technology companies as a whole comes from the financial sector. The financial sector is the largest buyer of tech goods and services. One tech sector that is heavily impacted by these changes is the outsourced technical firms located in India. With financial companies not spending at the same levels and further planned cutbacks, these companies are taking a major hit to their business.”

I have purposely deleted the stock that was used as an example.

“... This is a deteriorating and vulnerable configuration. We would use the strength, or further strength, back to $28 as an opportunity to sell this stock short, looking for a possible decline to the upper teens. The trade can be stopped out on a move above $29, or if traders are looking for a looser stop, above $30.”

Wonderful …

Here is a company struggling to survive amid a catastrophe not of its making. Employees dependent upon their paychecks, insurance and retirement benefits. All placed at risk so the Wall Street Wizards who produce nothing can line their pockets. And I am not talking about the individual investor … I am speaking about the middleman: the person who takes a chunk of change for buying and selling stocks, bonds and commodities. Chaos and confusion are their friends as it maximizes both buying and selling opportunities. If the market was quiescent, these are the guys most likely to whisper “Blue Star is in play” into the medias ear or capitalize on some other story which provides a plausible excuse to tell their customers to buy or sell.

These are the slimeballs that caused the current crisis with their artificially engineered financial products which they assured everybody were of investment grade with iron-clad risk management built in. They kept talking and collecting their bonuses right through the crash.

What can YOU do?

Before gambling on the market, make sure that your salesmen (account executives, financial consultants, financial advisors, whatever) is not simply churning your account for his personal profit.

When selecting an advisor check the source of their compensation, check their background, check their own trading history and make sure that they sign an agreement that they are  acting in a fiduciary capacity to protect your interests. If they are not willing to sign a statement of fiduciary responsibility, tell them to pound sand. A good advisor may charge a fee for their services, but it is better than risking everything on someone who is struggling with his Porsche payment.

Remember, unethical people may work for brand-name companies and, in the final analysis, they will almost always back their employee rather than admit to malfeasance or improper account handling.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” - Alan Kay

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

TheStreet.comTheStreet.com|What to Short When You Can't Short Financials


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


BAILOUT: BOHICA -- BEND OVER HERE IT COMES AGAIN (Updated)

UPDATE: 09-25-08 PLAYING POLITICS?

Reports are surfacing that certain conservative Republicans are reluctant to vote for the bailout package prompting us to ask, are we seeing another chapter in Republican presidential politics? The prevailing theory is that McCain has suspended his campaign, returning as a Senator to assist in resolving the current financial crisis, whereas Obama seems to be taking his Senatorial duties, shall we say, more lightly. Since McCain can deliver the Republican vote and Obama can't do much of anything, McCain could (theoretically) walk into the first Presidential debate with a significant economic accomplishment under his belt. Whereas, Obama is left as being seen as a impotent member of the crowd and unable to exert real leadership in a time of crisis. Time will tell whether or not this scenario is true, and if true, will come to pass.

Screw the people ...

Barack Obama and the democrat leadership are every bit as interested in playing politics with this issue as the McCain camp. The public be damned: it's all about politics! From Politico.com we can see the memo that Obama issued to the press. It starts out ...

"John McCain sought to change the subject from his out-of-touch response to the economic crisis with a big announcement that he was 'suspending' his campaign. But the only thing McCain really wants suspended is the American people’s disbelief. In fact, he’s been in full campaign mode the entire time." <Source: Politico.com -- read the whole message>

Isn't it nice to know that in the face of a true fiscal emergency, both sides of the aisle would rather let the people down rather than come to some compromise solution? In this case, it makes one actually wonder just how big of an emergency is this bailout and if alternate solutions already exist. Both sides have hardened their stance to the point of behaving like angry little children. Where is the Congressional leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid or are they too busy concealing their party's role in this financial debacle?

UPDATE: 09-25-08  FUNDING GAMES -- WHICH ACCOUNT?

Published reports are now circulating that the FDIC may need an additional $150 BILLION from the United States Treasury to supplement its current on hand 42+ BILLION as of June 30, 2008. In addition, there is no mention of the amounts that the Federal Reserve will continue to supply in liquidity injections. Hundreds of Billions have already been injected into the system in the form of loans collateralized by potentially toxic paper. This is also apparently in addition to any money supplied to the automotive manufacturers in separate funding bills. Automtotive manufacturers who may be associated with past subprime mortgage operations (GMAC/DiTech Funding) or the collateralization of auto loan and lease payment streams.

BIG QUESTION: WILL ANY PART OF THIS PROPOSED BAILOUT BE USED TO REPLACE CURRENT FEDERAL RESERVE LENDING?

Already questions are surfacing that places the exact amount of money leaving the Treasury further in doubt. Will it be ONLY $700 BILLION or something much, much larger?

Original Blog Entry ...

In what could only be described as political theatre, President Bush took to the airwaves and cited the dire need for passing his Administration’s bailout bill. Like a democrat, he was heavy on feeling and light on details.

And that seems to be the problem: both President Bush and Congress still continue to engage in political theatre while being light on details. And no one can tell you the consequences on non-action except that the result will be bad for the people. Sorta sounds like the buildup to Iraq: trust us, it's needed, it's necessary, it's cost effective, it will benefit the people and save lives.

According to my understanding, we will be providing an unelected member of the Administration, Treasury Secretary Paulson, with a blank check worth up to 700 BILLION dollars to spend as he, in his infinite wisdom, sees fit – all without the possibility of judicial or agency review or oversight. Considering the Paulson, a creature of Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve, a private entity owned and operated by its member banks, will be completely at liberty to do what they wish, it seems that the entire process is both unconstitutional and possibly illegal under the laws which govern the handling of government funds.

The democrats want to go along with the plan because much of the mess is of their making – with the legislatively-mandated community housing programs and affordable housing initiatives which forced lenders into making subprime loans to those who could least afford it.  So there primary goal is to stir up initial opposition to the plan, demand certain populist changes like curbing CEO pay (after all, they are still socialists at heart) and then grudgingly sign a plan they are crafting in secret.

Yes, in secret! Like the McCain SHAMnesty legislation, all work it taking place behind closed doors and the so-called transparency that Congress is demanding of others is nowhere to be found.

It is likely that there will be a few cosmetic changes relating to CEO pay, the creation of a powerless after-the-fact review board and perhaps a few tweaks here and there. Then will come the loud shrill sound of democrats crying that they were forced to take action by the exigent nature of the financial crisis.

And life will go on …

The democrats and republicans (both now deserve lower case designations) will continue to suck up campaign funds from lobbyists, try to exert spin on which organizations receive the funds and spin the issue to their advantage.

It still remains to be seen if there are any substantive changes to the bill. It is rumored that they will be working behind closed doors throughout the night (at least their staff members will) and vote on it before the week is out. Of course, the president (again with the lower case) will sign the bill into law and we will have just blown $1.2 TRILLION or more dollars down a rat hole.

Will it solve the crisis?

The current proposal solves nothing and it is likely that the modified proposal will do little more than bailout some of the fat cats and result in media happy-talk from the spinmeisters.

Will this money halt the slide of property valuation and stabilize home prices?

Not likely as none of the money is being used to purchase homes, only toxic paper held at artificially high valuations on the books of various and sundry financial institutions.

Property is a function of supply and demand. Now the supply is exaggerated as new homes that were built in boom times sit awaiting buyers. Foreclosures add more inventory to the already burgeoning stock of homes. Unless people are willing to price them to make a reasonable and attractive purchase – and people can get loans to buy these re-priced homes – the inventory will stay high and prices low. 

Will this money make financial institutions sounder?

First, nothing in the bill will change the current accounting standards which allows the parent entities to keep much of the toxic paper off the balance sheet. So it is unknown whether or not purchasing this paper will do little more than provide a wash against losses.

Second, since the government needs to shore up a financial institution’s numbers, it is likely that the purchase of toxic securities will be made at artificially inflated values. Because the institutions themselves are unable to value the toxic paper they hold and their does not seem to be any counterparties willing to purchase the paper, the valuation becomes a crapshoot. A crapshoot controlled by Treasury Secretary Paulson who can do anything he damn pleases without fear of consequences or judicial review. He cannot be held accountable, in a court of law, for any actions he may take.

Is $700 BILLION enough?

Probably not. But the current proposal allows for an outstanding amount of $700 BILLION at any one time. Thus the Treasury Secretary can purchase $700 BILLION dollars worth of toxic waste, sell them off at a sweetheart price of 25% and then have $175 BILLION in cash or equivalents. Then he gets another $700 BILLION and now has $875 BILLION to purchase more toxic waste. There does not appear to be anything in the current proposal that specified that the proceeds of any sale be used in a particular manner – only that the Treasury Secretary can purchase up to $700 BILLION worth of crap at any one time. Too bad they did say, $700 BILLION total! It seems that the government is too chicken to note that more realistic estimates place the capital needs between 1.2 and 2.0 TRILLION dollars before all of the toxic waste is in the government’s pockets.

Sweetheart deals?

There are some who might wonder why I made reference to a sweetheart price of 25%. Most mortgages are not underwater and people continue to make their monthly payments. It doesn’t really matter that the value of their house has declined because they do not intend to sell the property of re-finance their loans. Those that could not afford the house in the first place will still lose their property to foreclosure. Therefore, their may be real value (land plus improvements) underlying some of this paper. Probably why bottom-fishing hedge funds are buying toxic paper at pennies on the dollar.

Some, including the erstwhile Warren Buffett are making huge bets in institutions like Goldman Sachs ($5 BILLION) which will immediately profit from the bailout. To be noted, Buffett negotiated a deal which on terms unavailable to any ordinary citizen – so let him pay increased taxes out of his profits as he wishes ordinary Americans to do out of their impoverished pockets.

How do you unwind the leverage?

When financial institutions borrowed $30,000 based on $1,000 of equity capital and the market for toxic paper cratered, they were left technically insolvent with $9,000 in losses. How one unwinds the leveraged funds to their advantages without negotiating a settlement with the primary lender is beyond me. If some of the proceeds of the government’s purchase of toxic paper  goes to satisfy the loans granted by other financial institutions, it seems to me like everybody taking in everyone else’s laundry. The money goes around in a circle and essentially becomes unavailable for new loans to be made to the public. So much for liquidity. Perhaps Paulson and Company can specify for what purposes the newly acquired money can be used? By requiring a percentage of the newly-created funds to be used for new mortgages and loans, perhaps some degree of public liquidity will be injected to the system. As of this time, no such provision appears in the Paulson proposal.

What about the government-owned GSEs?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each own toxic paper. Will they, now being part of the government, be allowed to participate in the bailout – or will additional funds be used for this purpose? If additional funds are used, wouldn’t this really mean that the government knew the apparent bailout would cost more than $700 BILLION and that they have deliberately and dishonestly misstated the truth?

More questions than answers …

While there are many more questions I could ask, I will wait and see what tomorrow’s proposal brings. Which leaves the single biggest question in my mind: all of this bailout takes study, detailed accounting and time – who will replace Treasury Secretary Paulson in four months when the Bush Administration comes to an end? Perhaps each candidate should announce his choice (and backup choice) for Secretary of Treasury so that we can make an informed choice in November?

Key Players …

There is no doubt that the key players are Ben Bernanke who heads the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary Paulson. But shouldn’t two of the players, Representative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd step aside as chief negotiators as they appear to be complicit in creating the problems which brought us to this point? Let them retain their votes, but kick them off the committees which wreaked this havoc on the American public.

What will Congress do tomorrow?

All I can say is that Congress will bend to the sum of all the pressures being applied by the Administration, the special interests, the media and the wealthy and powerful Wall Street Wizards – let us hope they can withstand the challenge to stand upright in the face of adversity, rather than become bent and crooked as they have so often done in the past. Perhaps they will even consider the American people in their calculations of the future?

-- steve

Quote of the Day: “Senators are like armpits: Everybody has two of them and they stink most of the time.” Paraphrased from an anonymous source.

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change!

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


Bailout: meet the next unelected Czar of the United States

Thinking the unimaginable: that the immediate financial problem may be unsolvable by legislation alone, we now examine what is being proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Understanding the current financial crisis …

The current financial crisis is fairly easy to explain and may be impossible for the government to resolve with their proposed bailout.

The assumption which sunk the ship was that real estate values would keep rising indefinitely and that any foreclosure sale would return a significant percentage of the amount loaned on the property. No one believed that property values would decline to the point of significantly impairing the underlying collateral.

The second assumption which added to the current financial crisis is that insurance guaranteeing the pay-off of the mortgage would make the lender whole and prevent a catastrophic loss. It was this second assumption which led to the present crisis as the Wall Street Wizards came to believe that they could engineer any mortgage package into an acceptable risk using a combination of insurance and interest-hedging techniques. Again, all conditioned on the theory that home prices would continue to rise and that risk could be adequately managed.

Wall Street Creativity …

Whether attributable to GREED, stupidity and the lack of regulatory oversight, the Wall Street Wizards decided to use securities collateralized by mortgage pools to create other securities. By picking and choosing mortgage pools and slicing and dicing mortgages of various degrees of risk, the Wizards created paper based on paper – added more insurance and hedges and then sold these to investors as investment-grade securities that were said to be just slightly less risky than government-issued treasury bonds.

This slicing and dicing process eventually produced the same result as if you took all of the original underlying mortgages, ran them through a shredder and sold the individual strips to investors with the promise of producing an acceptable and safe yield. Should any of the mortgages actually default, the problem was to gather up all of the strips, foreclose on the re-assembled mortgage and settle all outstanding debts – perhaps, in the process, making a claim on an insurance company for any losses incurred by the lender. Bottom line: we are now in a position where the confetti produced by the shredder cannot be easily reassembled to determine the value of the underlying mortgage or the value of any given strip of paper produced in the shredding process.

Greed, pure and simple …

The almost insurmountable problem of re-assembling the strips of shredded paper was compounded by the fact that may investors only invested a portion of their own money in purchasing the confetti. They used borrowed funds to purchase these toxic products in order to amplify their yield.

Some companies used leveraged funds at a thirty-to-one ratio where then entire amount of their purchase exceeded thirty times the amount of ownership capital in the business. With this amount of leverage,  $1,000 of the company’s equity assets were used to purchase $30,000 worth of paper. Turning an acceptable loss of 30%  ($300 loss in a non-leveraged transaction) into a $9,000 disaster which bankrupts the company.

Compounding the problem: the liquidity crisis …

Considering it is next to impossible to value the confetti strips produced by the shredder and, in the absence of recent sales, to provide some estimate of value, the toxic securities became worthless as nobody had enough confidence to purchase the distressed paper at a fair market price which insured a profit -- instead of a larger loss.

Financial institutions refused to do business with each other because the true value of their balance sheets could not be determined. Not only did the financial institutions refuse to do business with each other, they refused to lend funds to the general public. One, they did not know their own financial strength and thus could not determine how much money was available for lending; and two, they wanted to conserve their cash as loan loss reserves to insure their own firm’s survival in these perilous times. This is the nub of the real liquidity crisis: the loss of confidence in our financial institutions created by their inability to present a true and accurate account of their net worth without relying on potentially fallacious assumptions and computer models.

Business slowly ground to a halt which prompted federal intervention.

Previous government actions …

Realizing that financial institutions, with billions of dollars worth of highly leveraged paper outstanding, would become immediately insolvent if they were forced to account for their losses, the federal government has stepped in to save the day. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department collaborated on a series of “liquidity injections” in which the Federal Reserve collectively loaned depository institutions billions of dollars -- secured in many instances by collateral consisting of the toxic paper itself. To avoid unduly stigmatizing the depository institutions, the Federal Reserve created artificial devices called oddly-named “loan facilities” in order to spare the institution the humiliation of appearing at the Fed’s overnight window, hat-in-hand, to borrow funds to meet their core capital requirements which would allow them to stay in business. Adding to the charade, the borrowers were forced to participate in an artificial “auction” to determine a fair market price for the capital they were borrowing.

Expanding the lending program …

This stop-gap lending required ever increasing amounts of capital and continually re-financing the paper at 28-day (now longer) intervals. A Ponzi-like scheme which requires ever more new capital to be injected into the system and benefits only the early institutional borrowers. But the problem was much larger than the depository institutions, so the Federal Reserve then allowed non-depository institutions such as the large brokerages to also tap the Fed funds.

Today …

Nothing much has changed. Fundamental real estate prices are still declining and people, many of whom could not afford their homes in the first place, are continuing to face foreclosures. Financial institutions still have no idea of their true balance sheet positions. And counterparties are still reluctant to do business with each other.

The great bailout …

So a lame duck Administration, with less than four months on its watch, wants Congress to provide a blank check from the taxpayers to bailout those institutions and others who defied sound business practices and conventional wisdom and who find themselves technically insolvent were it not for the regulatory agencies letting them slide with a host of financial tricks.

The government is asking Congress to allow an unelected official Henry Paulson, in consultation with other government and non-government people, to use $700 BILLION of the taxpayer’s money to help solve the current crisis.

In my humble opinion, we are headed for an even bigger problem …

One, the fundamental problem of real estate values, which underlie much of the toxic paper, has not been stabilized and nobody appears to have a method of calculating the further decline or how to halt further erosion of property values.

Two, if the financial institutions cannot fairly value the toxic paper, what chance does the federal government (which unaccountably lost billions of dollars overseas) have to derive a fair market value for buying the toxic paper.

Three, if the last sale of toxic paper was made at approximately twenty-five cents on the dollar, why is the government willing to pay much, much more for the same paper?

Four, how does one unwind the losses due to the imprudent use of leverage without causing financial institutions to declare insolvency or be ruled unsound by regulatory agencies. The only answer to the problem is to perpetuate the accounting tricks which are being used today – further injecting fear, uncertainty and doubt into counterparty transactions.

And five, can we really trust the government. Already the democrats are demanding that individual homeowners facing foreclosure receive some unspecified benefit. And expanding the program to include auto loans and credit card debt.

Let’s look at the proposal being submitted to Congress …

Here is the full text of the Paulson/Treasury plan as sent to congress late yesterday. It is deliberately vague, of course, which will makes its Congressional ride a roller-coaster. At least as importantly, the two key numbers: $700-billion and $3-trillion. The former is the amount that Paulson would like authorized for securities purchases, and the latter is the amount by which Paulson would like to "temporarily" increase the U.S. debt limit.

LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL FOR TREASURY AUTHORITY TO PURCHASE MORTGAGE-RELATED ASSETS

Section 1. Short Title.

This Act may be cited as ____________________.

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

Two points of contention: one, members of Congress are trying to expand the program from mortgage-related assets to collateralized commercial loans, auto loans and credit card debt; and two, members of Congress are also trying to include foreign-owned banks who do a substantial part of their business in the United States. Thus we are already moving past securitized mortgages and the bailout of American institutions. All with the taxpayer’s money.

(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

We are investing tremendous authority in an unelected official whose job comes to an end in four months and whose successor is totally unknown at this time. We cannot assume that the next Treasury Secretary will be any more than a political appointee or be qualified to assist in solving the current crisis.

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

There are no qualifications for such employees and there is no prohibition from hiring politically-connected people or people who were engaged in creating this mess in the first place. This may become the full employment opportunity act for the terminally lame. And the Republican’s are screaming about Barack Obama’s planned expansion of government.

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

Can you say Halliburton, no-bid contracts?

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

Which financial institutions? The very same ones that created the mess? Or is this the same type of legislation which resulted in chartering the Federal Reserve to perform the functions of a United States Central Bank?

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

Like off-balance sheet vehicles or other abominations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which will be run by executives with multi-million dollar payouts? Or is this simply a conduit for power to be shared by the privately-owned Federal Reserve?

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

This could mean anything from nationalizing the banks to enlarging the lending limits themselves. This is truly an open-ended run around the Constitutional authority of the President and the Legislature. This section must contain better definitions unless we, the people, are willing to accept the government’s Orwellian language that a loss is really a profit and that a bankrupt entities is really a going concern.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for--

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

This is sort of a mission statement that means exactly nothing as nothing would be enforceable under the law.

Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.

Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.

This is not acceptable. Along with the Administration’s ability to classify documents and Congressional ability to hold close door meetings, this is not kosher. We should see a monthly balance sheet on the Treasury’s (Or the Federal Reserve’s) web site showing purchases, amounts, and people involved in the purchases. More transparency in what has been essentially an opaque process up to this point. Reporting to those hyper-partisan committees who did nothing while this crisis developed or progressed is obscene.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.--The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

Like imposing conditions on those who have borrowed significant amounts of money or who have sold their toxic assets to the government?

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

Does this mean that the government is now going to hedge risks in the same way the private financial community did? Or purchase insurance from insurance companies to unofficially extend the bailout to the insurers who got caught short?

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

I do not see the words “fair and equitable price” which means that the Secretary can provide sweetheart deals to the undeserving Wizards of Wall Street and political special interests. Not to mention foreign countries.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.- -The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage- related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Governmental gobbly-gook. If there is a sunset provision, why is it not stated here? And the section “is not subject to the provisions of section 9” means little or nothing at this point. This is the type of double-dealing loophole found in most legislative documents. We need a return to clear, well-defined and unambiguous language – especially in this bill.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary's authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time

I want to stand up and cry bullshit! This appears to be a trick to exceed the $700 BILLION authorization! Am I the only person to see that the Secretary could purchase $700 BILLION in mortgages, sell them off at a low price, return to purchase additional securities, sell them off at a low price … and continue this until they have processed the estimated $1.2 TRILLION dollars worth of toxic mortgages they are too chicken to mention to the public? I this were truly a capped expenditure bill, the Secretary would only have the authority to purchase up to $700,000,000,000 of toxic securities and then return to Congress for additional spending authority or use the money that was received in any sales to purchase additional toxic securities – which could also lead to a government program overrun! What a concept!

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Another reference to another law which may provide additional “unexplained” latitudes in administering this legislation.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Absolute power granted to an unelected offical and his successor. Not even the courts can intervene should something illegal or untoward be encountered. This is the type of unconditional power granted to the President of the United States in a time of war. Certainly, this type of power must be subject to judicial review in order to be constitutional.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

This is not an unconditional termination of authority and as such, should be rejected.

Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.

Very cute. There is no indication of the amount being raised as the original amount as shown in the code section has been modified by many public laws.

Sec. 11. Credit Reform.

The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.

More references to additional legislation and thus more loopholes introduced into this legislation.

Sec. 12. Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Mortgage-Related Assets.--The term mortgage- related assets means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.

Why would we bailout “commercial mortgages?” Are we planning to save major buildings or just the collateralized lease payments which have turned sour in this economy. This is a non-definition.

(2) Secretary.--The term Secretary means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(3) United States.--The term United States means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.

There you have it. Hastily crafted legislation ceding an unprecedented amount of power to an unelected official whose successor remains unknown at this time. Imagine what would happen if, hypothetically, a President Obama appointed Franklin Raines, the ex-Fannie Mae CEO who cooked the books to insure his bonus, as the Secretary of the Treasury and the appointment  was confirmed by a corrupt democrat-controlled Senate. Talk about a worst case scenario?

This is bad legislation or I should say ill-defined legislation which should not be passed in its present form.

We need to wait and see what Congress will do with this Paulson proposal.

-- steve


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


Homeland Security is targeting the wrong threats ...

I couldn’t help but think that Homeland Security is targeting the wrong threats …

From Fox News …

“Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind”

“Most preventive screening looks for explosives or metals that pose a threat. But a new system called MALINTENT turns the old school approach on its head. This Orwellian-sounding machine detects the person — not the device — set to wreak havoc and terror.”

“MALINTENT, the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security's directorate for Science and Technology, searches your body for non-verbal cues that predict whether you mean harm to your fellow passengers.”

“It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye — signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack.”

“But this is no polygraph test. Subjects do not get hooked up or strapped down for a careful reading; those sensors do all the work without any actual physical contact. It's like an X-ray for bad intentions.”

Homeland Security has developed a system to recognize, define and measure seven primary emotions and emotional cues that are reflected in contractions of facial muscles. MALINTENT identifies these emotions and relays the information back to a security screener almost in real-time.”

So if Homeland Defense truly has this capability, let them truck the prototype over to Congress and scan the Senate, the House of Representatives and members of the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department as they as America to write a blank TRILLION DOLLARS PLUS check (I know they are only asking for 700 BILLION, but this is, after all, the government) to an unelected government official who will be replaced in four months by some unknown person. Legislation which grants extraordinary powers to a single individual which are not subject to judicial review or scrutiny. Absolute power similar to that granted to the President of the United States.

This is definitely a constitutional threat to our way of life that will have a more significant impact on our daily lives than all of the terrorists combined.

Hence, we need the DHS to give up screening passengers at airports and dispatch their wonder-system directly to the halls of Congress.

What can YOU do?

This is a serious matter and a Constitutional crisis. To hand an unelected official unlimited power and a blank check – even though he will be replaced by an unknown functionary in four months – is a serious challenge to the powers granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

These people can not provide a lasting solution until they can halt the slide of home prices which will bring a measure of stability to the entire financial sector. To attempt to cure the symptom while the disease rages on is to court financial death.

Vote for people who are trustworthy – and not packaged empty suits spouting the lines written by their speech writers.

-- steve 

Quote of the Day: “Smooth seas do not make for a skillful sailor.” -- --African Proverb

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

FOXNews.com - Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


THE WRONG CRISIS: IS ANYONE LISTENING?

Overlooking a bigger crisis …

While we have been inundated with breathless media reports recounting the fall of Bear Stearns, Lehman Bothers, the take over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and most recently, the nationalization of 80% of insurance powerhouse AIG, it seems that we are overlooking a much bigger crisis.

While the President is urging Congress to quickly pass the Paulson plan to get the recovery under way, we have ignored a fundamental fact:

This is the greatest expansion of government power in the history of the nation. There is little or no authority for either branch of the government, Executive or Legislative, to use taxpayer revenue’s to interfere with private commerce.

That the government, in effect, is writing a $700 BILLION (because they lack the balls to say $1 TRILLION) blank check payable to an unelected official, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, to do with as he sees fit. With no plan. With no oversight. With little more that the hopes and wishes of those who stand to gain from this extralegal maneuver that is not sanctioned in the Constitutional powers vested in our elected officials.  Even a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States would be hard-pressed to invent a Constitutionally valid reason why taxpayer funds should be used for private enterprise in a competitive situation where one company competes against another and neither one is guaranteed an advantage by our government.

And this legislation is being rushed into existence, as if the financial world might collapse tomorrow. To me, it has the look and smell of a man-made, manufactured panic designed to force the ordinary citizen to suspend critical analysis and allow the government to proceed on our behalf. Or should I say, their self-interested own behalf?

Elected officials like Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd are hip-deep in the mess that Congress has made of our financial system. The President of the United States and his Administration, whether by design, incompetence or laziness has foresworn enforcing laws, rules and regulations that were clearly in place to prevent this type of financial catastrophe from happening.

These people failed to warn the American people about the consequences of unchecked financial transactions involving derivatives although we have experienced severe difficulties with these financial instruments in the past. They failed to uphold the Constitutionally-mandated oath of protecting the people of the United States.

Now we are hearing that Congress plans a gross expansion of the plan to cover collateralized debt of all kinds: credit card debt, auto loans and corporate debt. We are hearing that entire industries, automotive and airline, are said to be considered for additional governmental funds.

This is an unannounced expansion of government into the realm of socialism. Can healthcare be far behind? We need only ask Barack Obama for the answer.

And while the candidates prattle on about race, abortion, experience and other matters, we are losing our nation to those who are usurping Constitutional power and abandoning the principles of our founding fathers. All for their personal thirty pieces of silver and a guest appearance on Nightline!

THIS IS YOUR FINAL NOTICE BEFORE WE TAKE LEGAL ACTION!

Ordinary people are faced with the consequences of their actions. Purchase a car you cannot afford and it is repossessed. Purchase a house you cannot afford and it is foreclosed. Use your credit card to purchase more than you can afford and you may be forced to declare bankruptcy.

But here we see a Congress acting  without Constitutional authority to bail out those who have not played by the rules and who assumed more risk than their company’s net worth. And yet, we are planning to bail out these companies whose executives pocketed multi-million dollar bonuses even when their own malfeasance and lack of ability led their firms into the financial neverland.

In a massive redistribution of wealth, from the working man and woman to the already rich and powerful, we can see evil socialism rearing its ugly head.

Men and women who followed the rules: bought only what they could afford and placed their hard-earned money in financial institutions for a rainy day or retirement are now being screwed with losses not of their making. With an interest rate that provides a negative yield rate when inflation’s ugly effects are factored into the equation. With sky-high interest rates, fees and miscellaneous charges that exceed the old usury laws facing them when they purchase goods and services in today’s damaged economy.

Where the hell was Congress? Toughening the bankruptcy laws in return for campaign contributions from the credit card industry? Promoting affordable housing to those who could not afford a car, let alone a house. Not a peep from the democrats as they used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as their own private piggy bank to promote housing in politically sensitive areas.

Where the hell was the President with his MBA? Possibly 0n vacation or cavorting with some of his incompetent appointees such as Alberto Gonzales (Justice) or Alphonso Jackson (HUD)?

Where the hell was the media. Even the media has failed us as it has turned into a corporate toady bowing before the power of access and the need to persuade an audience on a 24/7/365 basis that they are relevant and that you should purchase the sponsor’s wares.

Objective journalism seems dead, replaced by Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Hannity and Colmes who are actually commentators, personalities with a viewpoint. We are living in an age where if it isn’t sensational and attracts attention, it is never printed or aired. Who in the media is pointing out that we are facing a Constitutional crisis and an unholy expansion of government power and control? It appears nobody of note.

Folks, the Federal Reserve is a private corporation owned by its member banks. It has a Congressional charter to act as the nation’s central banker. They do not have the Constitutional power to engage in bailing out financial institutions using the taxpayer’s money.

So, in a nutshell, who is looking out for the American citizen as our government uses non-existent authority to confiscate the hard-earned money of its citizens in order to give it to other citizens so that they may survive, thrive and continue to earn their outrageous compensation?

Who is going to stop this trend of strengthening the federal government? Certainly not Barack Obama! And if you can believe a recent McCain interview with Univision, the Spanish Language network, not McCain as he prepares to legalize 12+ million illegal aliens – most of whom are impoverished, uneducated and will do little or nothing to move our economy or society forward.

We are at a crossroads, when you vote really counts. Choose wisely or we will find ourselves becoming another European country. The America we know and love is on the verge of being lost and our elected officials are so consumed with self-interest and the acquisition of power to care.

It is up to us to take back our government by voting for the best of all candidates although all of them seem deeply flawed. Then we have to vote out those associated with Congressional malfeasance (Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters, Christopher Dodd as well as a host of others on both sides of the aisle) and replace them with people who have not been steeped in the corruption of power and money.

Nothing makes me angrier than to see my money being given to a firm headed by someone who just earned a $50 million dollar bonus while his company lost billions of dollars. Or earning a meager rate of return on my investments so that the banks and other financial institutions may continue to earn significant profits to work their way out of this current financial catastrophe.

I, for one, do not want to expand the power of government. I do not want to pay more taxes. I want us to use the oil we have to avoid giving money to our enemies; to be used against us by our so-called friends like Saudi Arabia which exports Islamo-fascism throughout the world in the form of a toxic religion.

At this point in time, I am not even sure that the financial crisis can be resolved with only $1 TRILLION dollars and that the consequences of letting poorly-managed companies fail are worth the expansion of government influence and the raping of our national treasury.

Like the man in the movie said: “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

Vote! Vote the bastards out. And hold the members of Congress responsible for this debacle. Not to mention the political parties which have devolved into power brokers and influence peddlers – worse than any lawyer/lobbyist.

Did you cede this type of power to the federal government? I didn’t and I don’t believe you did either!

VOTE!

-- steve

Comments are welcome.


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


Before the debates: at this point in time...

As we enter the final campaign stretch and before we view the debates, here are my feelings toward the candidates. Remember, I am a self-described conservative Republican who may have some liberal leanings (according to my best friend, Al).

So here is how I believe the candidate's currently stack up:

HOW I SEE BARACK OBAMA ...

  • A charter member of the "Angry Black Man" club along with Reverend Wright, Louis Farrakhan and Spike Lee.
  • A prolonged exposure to ""Black  Liberation Theology" which promotes a far-left Marxist agenda.
  • An inexperienced legislator who is still feeling out his foreign policy positions.
  • A legislator committed to increasing tax revenues to fund a variety of social programs that have failed in the past.
  • A reliance on democrat advisors who were part of the failed Clinton Administration and who have proven to be mostly inept or corrupt.
  • Beholden to unions.
  • Does not support the war or our soldiers.
  • Plays the race card and seems to view everything through a racial prism.
  • An elitist who is not what he appears to be.
  • Spouse: Bitter, angry and an unknown quantity.

HOW I SEE JOE BIDEN...

I cannot believe that Barack Obama selected an old democrat party hack for a running mate. In spite of his familiarity with the ins-and-outs of Congress and he foreign affairs knowledge, I think Hillary Clinton would have been a stronger choice. Not selecting her as his running mate proved,  for one and all, that Obama was not strong enough to control the Clintons and to use their talents to his advantage. Which speaks poorly of his leadership and executive abilities. Each and every time Biden opens his mouth, one wonders what he might say. He is a loose cannon past his prime. A perpetual, Teddy Kennedy-style democrat who is out of touch and out of place in this campaign.

HOW I SEE JOHN McCAIN ...

  • A hesitant and unpolished public speaker (but overcomes it with sincerity and conviction)
  • Too concilliatory towards democrats to fight harder against their socialist tendencies
  • A non-traditional Republican who has successfully collaborated with democrat politicians which ended with ineffective campaign finance legislation (McCain-Feingold) and the rise of George Soros-style far left 527 organizations.
  • A non-traditional Republican who has unsuccessfully collaborated with democrat politicians which ended with an unworkable immigration system which appeared to compromise United States sovereignty (McCain-Kennedy) which inspired a citizen uprising against the egregious legislation.
  • A non-traditional Republican who ignores existing science and buys into the political fraud that is global warming warming seems to support bi-partisan global warming legislation  (Warner-Lieberman).
  • The possibility of diluting the Republican party further by nominating or appointing democrats to key Administrative positions.
  • Supports the war and, especially, our soldiers.
  • A reliance on unknown advisors.
  • Does not play the race or sex card.
  • Spouse: rich, aloof and an unknown quantity.

HOW I SEE SARAH PALIN ....

As a person, Sarah Palin represents a breath of fresh air in the land of  winks, nods, pre-arrangements and Washingtonian understandings. I do not agree with all her views, as reported by the media, and especially on creationism and abortion. While I believe in a higher power, I do not discount the role of evolutionary development and I certainly believe in abortion when it comes to rape, incest and medical necessity. If that makes me less than a conservative, so be it. I am sure that Sarah Palin's viewpoints were probably filtered through a biased press with a preconceived notion about so-called evangelicals. However, I am extremely pleased that Palin is on the McCain ticket and believe that it provides the team with the requiste youth, vigor and a younger viewpoint. Not that McCain is not vigorous or has strong opinions.

HOW I SEE BOB BARR...

In spite of his apparent sincerity, I am considering the fact that he might be an opportunist seeking a powerful position in the McCain Administration as a reward for abandoning his run and siphoning off votes. Cynical? You bet -- but when all is said and done, he is a pragmatic polititian.

HOW I SEE RON PAUL ...

In spite of the main stream media, Paul seems to be unofficially still in the running. However, I view him as a candidate in the  Ross Perot mold. Intelligent with no chance of winning.

HOW I SEE RALPH NADER ...

A trial lawyer who appears to be something is is not. An almost iconic image seeking to influence the race and re-prove his relevance.

Summary:

Barack Obama -- my fear that he is a closet racist with anti-American sentiment. Any person who would allow a Che Guevarra banner to adorn his campaign office is not my kind of  politician. I believe he is an opportunistic, Chicago-style politician. Or even worse, a wishy-washy politician susceptible to the influence of his wife and advisors. I measured him against my favorite choice for President, Colin Powell, and found him wanting. (I am keeping my Colin Powell for President buttons) I just don't trust Obama or the democrat party.

John McCain -- I do not trust John McCain to pursue a conservative Republican agenda. However, since I believe that McCain is the best defender of the American way of life, he is my current frontrunner. With the addition of Sarah Palin to the team, my belief in the McCain Presidency has found a measure of newfound hope.

What can YOU do?

This may be one of the most important elections in our nation's history. Research the candidates. Check their associations with both advisors and supporters.

Ignore race. Ignore sex. Ignore age. Ask three major questions: one, can this person defend America against all enemies, both foreign and domestic;  two, does this candidate look like they can deal with our domestic economic malaise; and three, can this person dial-back the hyper-partisan Agencies to return them to a normalcy which pursues the people's business rather than the party's business.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

Comments pointing out my ignorance, bigotry and lack of good judgement are always welcome. Just remember to make some point.

-- steve

Quote of the Day: "For Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds; Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds."  --William Shakespeare

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Capture5-21-2008-10.32.59 PM


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS


McCain guilty of bad commercials ... relied on newspaper accounts of Raines association with Obama?

A reader-inspired blog entry …

A reader’s comments led me to search for the truth regarding one of John McCain’s approved campaign advertisements. The reader claimed that there was little or no evidence that one, Franklin Raines, the former head of Fannie Mae who is alleged to have participated in a scheme to cook Fannie Mae’s books to insure multi-million dollar  executive bonuses, was an Obama advisor.

Two commercials …

In an effort to portray Barack Obama as having little or no idea how to fix our currently ailing financial sector and possibly to link the democrats to the Fannie Mae failure, the McCain campaign released two commercials.

One involving the head of Obama’s Vice Presidential Search Committee was dead on. James Johnson, former head of now-nationalized Fannie Mae, appeared to have received special consideration on mortgage loans from Countrywide Funding under its “Friends of Angelo” program.

However, the other one featuring Franklin Raines as an Obama advisor is now suspect. Relying on published reports in the Washington Post, which were apparently not challenged until after the McCain campaign advertisement aired, the published report was based on the casual comments of Raines while he was being interviewed.

Considering that most campaigns use prominently displayed newspaper quotes as if somehow a newspaper always publishes the full and complete story, we would tend to give the McCain campaign a pass – and recommend that they do a little more fact-checking before releasing their campaign commercials.

And considering that Obama’s campaign released an even worse authorized campaign advertisement smearing McCain and President Bush with the words lifted out of context from a Rush Limbaugh parody, it seems both sides need to clean up their act before they present false and misleading information to the American public.’

No moral equivalency: both parties act poorly …

Since we are not a democrat, we will not attempt to excuse what McCain’s camp published as fact using the old “moral equivalency” dodge so favored by far-left liberal democrats. Both parties are guilt of engaging in some degree of putting forth false and misleading information to the public. Symptomatic of today’s hyper-partisan spin machines where negative advertising is more potent than boring issue advertising since complex concepts can very rarely be explained in sound bites.

For your viewing pleasure …

For those who have not seen the McCain campaign advertisements, we present them for your viewing pleasure. In the interest of fairness to my readers,I am also presenting the links to the Washington Post’s Franklin Raines story which now appears to be suspect.  

The good one featuring James Johnson

The not so good one featuring Franklin Raines …

The Washington Post links …

  • July 16, 2008 Washington Post ArticleOn the Outside Now, Watching Fannie Falter
  • September 19, 2008 Washington Post Ad Watch:
    McCain Charges Obama with Taking Advice from Raines
  • September 19, 2008 Washington Post Ad Watch:      Obama's Fannie Mae 'Connection'
  • September 19,2008 Washington Post Article:
    Obama, McCain Trade Shots Over Responses to Financial Meltdown

Remember, the story is suspect and still may be true to some degree …

Since we do not have access to Barack Obama’s campaign team, it is almost impossible to confirm the part that Franklin Raines may or may not have played as a campaign advisor.

They lied to the American people before …

What we do know however, is that the Obama campaign has lied before to the media. Widely claiming that they did not tell Canadian politicians that what Barack Obama was saying about NAFTA should be taken with a grain of salt as it was only targeted to a specific group of voters. The Obama camp persisted in maintaining the charade up until a memo of the meeting between Obama campaign advisors and the Canadians surfaced. The matter played in the media for a few days and was then buried by a complacent press corps who have a demonstrated left-liberal bias. <Source>

What can YOU do?

Most of what the media reports is influenced by campaign spinmeisters and there is little or no critical reporting to be found in today’s mainstream media. Unfortunately, this leaves one to filter our own raw information and commentary from such sources as cable television, talk radio and the ubiquitous Internet. Or like Fox News is fond of saying, “We report, you decide!”

Carefully watch what the candidates say and do. Their actions always speak louder than words. Anything proposed by a campaign surrogate that is labeled a campaign advisor or a party strategist should be taken with a grain of salt.

Both political parties and all of the politicians involved are playing a high-stakes game where the rewards include power, prestige and profits and the ability to “do things for the right people.” By virtue of being a politician, candidates are automatically suspect and should be scrutinized closely.

Vote for your interests, not theirs.

-- steve

Quote of the day:  I am not sure that Galbraith was not speaking of politics when he said, “Where humor is concerned there are no standards - no one can say what is good or bad, although you can be sure that everyone will.”    -- John Kenneth Galbraith

Capture9-22-2008-2.07.25 AM

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS