Saturday, 17 April 2010

CIVILITY, DEMOCRAT-STYLE (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

From John Hinderaker at www.powerlineblog.com:

What Democrats Mean By "Civility"

April 17, 2010 Posted by John at 1:26 PM

 

The Democrats are big on civility these days, or pretend to be, anyway. When Congress returned from its Easter recess, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took the opportunity to call for restraint:

"There are obviously clearly differences of opinion in the country and among members of Congress and between the parties," Hoyer told reporters. "But that debate ought to be civil, it ought to be constructive, and it ought to be designed to educate the public, not to incite the public."

Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum, who represents St. Paul and environs, wasted no time explaining what Hoyer meant. On the House floor on Tuesday, she claimed that today's conservatives, especially Tea Partiers, are just like Timothy McVeigh. She did so, of course, in the name of "civility:"

Madam Speaker, today I rise to remember the victims of the 1995 terrorist attack in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. This act of American terrorism was committed by a man who viewed the federal government as such a threat that it justified mass murder.

 

I applaud my colleague from Oklahoma for her resolution because it serves as a reminder that right-wing, anti-government extremist groups are on the rise today. ...

 

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center states, 'Individuals associated with the Patriot movement during its 1990s heyday produced an enormous amount of violence, most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing...'

 

Today, Mr. Potok states, 'as the movement has exploded, so has the reach of its ideas, aided and abetted by commentators and politicians...'

Got that? The "Patriot" movement, which was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, "has exploded" today. And conservative commentators and Republican politicians are behind it. She continued:

Only last month a Fox News commentator, with Members of Congress next to him, rallied a Tea Party crowd by disparaging Congress and calling the crowd 'all these Tim McVeigh wannabes here' to the crowds cheers and applause.

This was the only "evidence" McCollum offered to tie Tea Partiers to Timothy McVeigh--the ostensible subject of her speech--but even McCollum isn't dumb enough to fail to understand that Sean Hannity was making a sarcastic reference to the Democrats' absurd claim that Tea Partiers have something in common with the mad bomber. He was, in other words, ridiculing McCollum's claim, not supporting it.

 

She continued by renewing her call for civility:

The Members of this House Democrats and Republicans - have a duty and an obligation to end the dangerous name-calling that can only inspire the extremist militias and phony patriots.

Sure. And McCollum's contribution to "ending name-calling" consists of saying that her political opponents are would-be mass murderers. Such is the twisted logic that dominates today's Democratic Party.

You don't need to work too hard to understand that, with people like this,  "civility" is a sometimes thing. 

Look at what is said about Sarah Palin, for example.  Is there a name or a personal attack that hasn't been used against her or her family -  including her teenage daughter and her two year old Down Syndrome child -  in the past two years?  I dare you to find one. 

But have you heard any attacks on the people doing it by the Betty McCollum, or Barack Obama, or Bill Clinton, or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid crowd?  Even as they whine about how uncivil Republicans and Tea-Partiers (not always the same by a long shot) are when they dare to criticize actual Obama administration policies?

Pathetic.  And sickening.


THE GOLDMAN SACHS/JOHN PAULSON DEBACLE

Ken Berwitz

I have a great idea for President Obama.  If he really wants to go after Wall Street, Goldman Sachs is arguably the single major culprit, and should therefore be the focus of his attacks.

But there is a bit of a problem:  Goldman Sachs is a big-time benefactor of the Democratic Party.

Here are some of the particulars, excerpted from an article at www.online.barrons.com:

GOLDMAN SACHS' REPUTATION TOOK A HUGE HIT Friday when the Securities and Exchange Commission charged the firm with securities fraud in the underwriting of a $1 billion collateralized-debt obligation backed by subprime mortgages. But don't count Goldman out.

 

Goldman shares (ticker: GS) fell 13% Friday, to 160.70, in response to the SEC action. It was one of the most severe one-day declines since the securities firm went public in 1999.

 

The SEC, in a civil complaint, charged that Goldman let hedge-fund giant Paulson & Co. influence the securities put into the CDO, but didn't disclose that. Paulson, which was betting heavily against subprime mortgages, collected $1 billion when the CDO collapsed -- and two European banks took big hits.

 

Goldman's standing probably has never been lower, as the firm already has taken heat for emerging unscathed in the near-collapse of American International Group and for scoring with bets against subprime mortgages while clients suffered losses.

 

Critics have called the firm "Goldman Sleaze." Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway holds a $5 billion preferred-stock investment in Goldman, joked recently that the firm is so unpopular that "they're going to rewrite Genesis and have Goldman offering Adam the apple."

 

Goldman may face lawsuits from investors who lost $1 billion in the Abacus deal. Though the SEC complaint involves just that one deal, it's possible there could be other dubious mortgage deals created by the firm.

The talk on the Street Friday was that if the SEC can successfully bring its complaint against Goldman, it ultimately could cost the firm several billion dollars, largely to compensate investors who lost money on Goldman-underwritten CDOs.

 

The SEC complaint makes for fascinating reading as an inside story of the creation of a disastrous mortgage-backed deal just before the housing market cracked.

 

"The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple," the SEC said. "Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party."

 

The background for the Goldman underwriting was that several hedge funds like Paulson concluded in 2006 and 2007 that the subprime mortgage boom would end badly because of bad underwriting and inflated home prices. Their challenge was to find a way to express their view, since it's much harder to create a bet against subprime mortgages than an overvalued stock, which can be accomplished by a short sale.

 

The SEC complaint shows the lengths to which Paulson -- and Goldman -- went to create a CDO that Paulson figured stood a good chance of collapse.

 

Paulson & Co., led by John Paulson, correctly anticipated that the worst subprime securities would come from adjustable-rate loans to borrowers with low credit scores in such states as Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where home prices had soared, the SEC said.

 

Paulson & Co. cleverly sought to bet via a CDO, or a collection of existing sub-prime securities, rather than simply bet on a newly created pool of loans. The securities that were the focus of Paulson's efforts were rated Triple-B by the rating agencies and stood beneath a large group of highly rated bonds.

 

The Abacus CDO was backed by about 90 individual Triple-B tranches from sub-prime deals. Paulson probably recognized that if losses on the underlying subprime pools hit 10% to 15%, the triple-B tranches would be wiped out, resulting in a total loss on the Abacus CDO despite Triple-A ratings on the instrument. That is indeed what happened.

 

The losers from the Abacus deal were a German bank, IKB (IKB.Germany), which lost $150 million, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which lost $840 million.

 

The Scottish bank's loss, which helped lead to a giant bailout by the U.K. government, itself is fascinating. ACA Capital, designated to select the underlying securities, originally guaranteed the $909 million top-rated tranche of the Abacus deal for just 0.50%, or about $4.5 million.

 

ACA subsequently got buried by mortgage losses and couldn't pay the claim. ABN Amro, the Dutch bank subsequently bought by Royal Bank of Scotland, provided a backstop to ACA on the deal for an estimated $2 million. That $2 million guarantee ended up costing Royal Bank $841 million when the CDO collapsed, and most of that money was paid to Paulson.

 

For the record, John Paulson, who, with Goldman Sachs' help, pulled this neat little game off, is a major Democratic contributor.  Like most sleazeba...er, savvy financial professionals, he donated plenty to Republicans too, but Democrats appear to have gotten most of that money. 

 

According to www.thehill.com:

Campaign fundraising records show that John A. Paulson, founder and chairman of the hedge fund Paulson & Co., gave $30,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in June, qualifying him as a major Democratic donor.
 
He also gave $2,300 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reids (D-Nev.) reelection campaign in February of last year and $4,800 to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) last April, according to records filed at the Federal Election Commission.

Fascinatingly, if you reverse the relative amounts, that is exactly what could be said about Jack Abramoff.  He gave plenty to both, but mostly to Republicans.  Yet we barely heard a word about his Democratic contributions during the months his name was front page news. 

Similar media coveage for Paulson, therefore, would predominantly feature the money he gave to Democrats.  Let's see if it happens.


GLOBAL WARMING FRAUD AND MEDIA COMPLICITY

Ken Berwitz

What you are about to read is an editorial from Investors Business Daily, which describes how blatantly fraudulent the "investigation" into the global warming scam tuly was.  The bold print is mine:

Climate-Gate Gets A Whitewash

 Posted 04/15/2010 06:54 PM ET

Global Warming: The first probe into the integrity of the science being conducted at the Climatic Research Unit is in and nothing's changed. Those who created and perpetuated this sham are not called into account.

It was quite obvious, judging by the communications between climate researchers, that there was something wrong with the scientific process at the University of East Anglia's CRU.

E-mails from the unit made public last fall indicated the scientists were dishonest and conspiratorial, that the outcome of their research proof that man is dangerously warming his planet was more important than the facts.

The university, as it should have, commissioned two independent inquiries into what became known as the Climate-gate scandal. But what has transpired since then doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

At five pages long, the report from the first probe doesn't say much. The researchers are "dedicated if slightly disorganized" and did not engage in deceitful practices, the panel believes.

If there are exaggerations, well, they were made by other organizations that didn't properly use the CRU's data.

The sugarcoated report should be no surprise. The probe was conducted by Lord Oxburgh, an academic who was briefly chairman of Shell. He is now, according to the Financial Post, chair of Falck Renewables, a firm that has wind farms across Europe, and chair of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, "a lobby group which argues that carbon capture could become a $1 trillion industry by 2050."

Imagine that. A man with a financial interest in companies that would benefit from efforts to arrest man-made global warming is asked to look into the possible scientific malpractice of researchers whose conclusions are favorable to his business concerns.

Oxburgh is a man of clear bias who should have never been allowed to be near the probe. Six years ago, he told the British press that "if we don't have (carbon) sequestration, I see very little hope for the world." In fact, he said he was "really very worried for the planet," without large-scale sequestration.

Three years later he said, "We are sleepwalking" into a global warming disaster of such proportion that the world might need "regulations which impose very severe penalties on people who emit more than specified amounts of greenhouse gases."

Yes, just the man to have in charge of an investigation of researchers who seem more concerned with politics than science.

The Oxburgh panel could have at least spoken to one global warming skeptic, but reportedly it did not. It did, however, include David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society, who was critical of the way the CRU handled statistics.

That, folks, is why they invented the word "fraud".

Now:  if you are not an IBD reader, did you see this information anywhere but here? Did you catch a major story or feature about it on the network news?  How about a two-liner during the "and in other news" part of the broadcast? 

I think I already know the answer.

One other question:  if a major investigation showed that global warming was largely a scam, and it was run by someone who stood to benefit financially if the global warming people were dismissed and ignored, do you think our wonderful "neutral" media would have told you so?  Do you think you'd have to read it here to know about it at all?

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

Zeke .... .... Open and Transparent .... Sorta like the Emperor's New Clothes .... .... .... AlbertGore will not debate anyone on Global Warming; ... won't even take questions from the audience (occasionally, will answer written questions handed in to his staff at a speech). ..... .... Often won't permit recording when he delivers a speech ... certainly not past the 15 minutes of introductory remarks ..... ..... And, can ANYONE explain WHY Barry O'Bama [ certified, guaranteed, attested and witnessed born-in-Hawaii American ] will NOT permit his birth certificate to be made public ? .... And, is running up multi-million dollar legal bills to prevent anyone from seeing the Hawaii birth certificate? WHAT POSSIBLE PURPOSE could be served in hiding this simple document ? ? ? I mean, after all, we KNOW he is a 'natural born American' ... cause ... well, cause he TOLD us that. .... ..... ..... So, WHY can't we see the proof, Barry ? .... .... .... (04/17/10)


GENERAL ELECTRIC, TAXES, AND MSNBC

Ken Berwitz

Here, from www.cnnmoney.com, is a story that Schultz, Matthews, olbermann and Maddow won't be providing a lot of coverage on:

GE: 7,000 tax returns, $0 U.S. tax bill

By Annalyn Censky, staff reporterApril 16, 2010: 11:52 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Electric filed more than 7,000 income tax returns in hundreds of global jurisdictions last year, but when push came to shove, the company owed the U.S. government a whopping bill of $0.

How'd it pull off that trick? By losing lots of money.

GE had plenty of earnings last year -- just not in the United States. For tax purposes, the company's U.S. operations lost $408 million, while its international businesses netted a $10.8 billion profit.

That left GE (GE, Fortune 500) with no U.S. profit left for Uncle Sam to tax. Corporations typically face a 35% federal income tax on their earnings. Thanks to its deductions and adjustments, GE reported an actual U.S. federal income tax rate of negative 10.5%. It got to add a "tax benefit" of $1.1 billion back into its reported earnings.

"This is the first time in at least decades that GE has reported negative U.S. pretax income and it reflects the worst economy since the Great Depression," Anne Eisele, GE's director of financial communications, said via e-mail.

But what about the $10.8 billion profit overseas? GE is "indefinitely" deferring income tax payments on those profits, Eisele said.

It may seem like accounting magic, but it's completely legit.

GE isn't the only "Top 5" company on this year's Fortune 500 list that owed no income taxes. Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), which suffered major losses in 2009, included a tax benefit of $1.9 billion in its annual profit.

"That's one way of escaping taxes," said Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation. "Companies get to deduct their losses, so if there's no earnings, then they pay no income tax."

But GE isn't exactly escaping all tax-related pain: The company paid almost $23 billion in taxes to governments around the world from 2000 to 2009, Eisele said.

Plus, paying the accountants to crank out 7,000 tax returns can't be cheap.

And then there's all the lawyers needed to defend those returns. GE filed tax paperwork in more than 250 jurisdictions around the world last year. "We are under examination or engaged in tax litigation in many of these jurisdictions," the company dryly notes in its annual report.

GE may not owe the IRS, but it still has to file -- and its filings are epic.

In 2006, as the IRS ramped up its corporate e-filing program, the tax agency actually issued a celebratory press release when it processed GE's tax return. On paper, the return -- the nation's largest -- would have totaled a massive 24,000 pages. But instead, the IRS was able to upload the 237 MB document in under an hour.

Reading it, though, is apparently taking a bit longer. The IRS is currently auditing GE's tax returns for 2003-2007. 

How many times has the MSNBC lineup railed against tax cheats, tax evaders and corporations which figure out a way to move their money out of the clutches of the IRS? 

But, hey, GE owns MSNBC.  So that's different.  Right?

Well, right?

I wish the IRS every success in its audit.  And I'm sure I'll hear all about it --- on CNN and Fox.


Buy Our Book Here!


Return to Current Blog
We're Hopelessly Partisan

hopelesslypartisan.com, is a web site which is dedicated to honest, blunt, debate on the issues of our time.


About Us



Privacy Notice: In conjunction with the ads on this site, third parties may be placing and reading cookies on your browser, or using web beacons to collect information.


At “Hopelessly Partisan” we discuss all issues, big and small. In here, nothing is sacred and nothing is out of bounds.

So settle back, preferably after laughing your way through a copy of “The Hopelessly Partisan Guide To American Politics”, and let the battle begin. In this blog, your opinion counts every bit as much as anyone else's, maybe even more.

And to show that my willingness to provide all sides of the issues is sincere, here are links to a variety of web sites, from the left, the middle (more or less) and the right. Read them and either smile in agreement or gnash your teeth in anger!!