Friday, 21 May 2010

THE FINANCE & BANKING REFORM BILL: POSITIVE SIDE

Ken Berwitz

It wasn't hard to find a positive view of the finance and banking reform legislation.  I just looked at the New York Times news section (not opinion, its news story).

Here, excerpted from the Times' article by David M. Herszenhorn, is the positive side:

Senate Passes Broader Rules for Overseeing Wall Street

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
Published: May 20, 2010

WASHINGTON The Senate on Thursday approved a far-reaching financial regulatory bill, putting Congress on the brink of approving a broad expansion of government oversight of the increasingly complex banking system and financial markets.

 

The legislation is intended to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis, but also reshapes the role of numerous federal agencies and vastly empowers the Federal Reserve in an attempt to predict and contain future debacles.

 

The vote was 59 to 39, with four Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor of the bill. Two Democrats opposed the measure, saying it was still not tough enough.

Democratic Congressional leaders and the Obama administration must now work to combine the Senate measure with a version approved by the House in December, a process that is expected to take several weeks.

While there are important differences notably a Senate provision that would force big banks to spin off some of their most lucrative derivatives business into separate subsidiaries the bills are broadly similar, and it is virtually certain that Congress will adopt the most sweeping regulatory overhaul since the aftermath of the Great Depression.

Its a choice between learning from the mistakes of the past or letting it happen again, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said after the vote. For those who wanted to protect Wall Street, it didnt work.

The bill seeks to curb abusive lending, particularly in the mortgage industry, and to ensure that troubled companies, no matter how big or complex, can be liquidated at no cost to taxpayers. And it would create a financial stability oversight council to coordinate efforts to identify risks to the financial system. It would also establish new rules on the trading of derivatives and require hedge funds and most other private equity companies to register for regulation with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Passage of the bill would be a signature achievement for the White House, nearly on par with the recently enacted health care law. President Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon, declared victory over the financial industry and hordes of lobbyists that he said had tried to kill the legislation.

The recession were emerging from was primarily caused by a lack of responsibility and accountability from Wall Street to Washington, Mr. Obama said, adding, Thats why I made passage of Wall Street reform one of my top priorities as president, so that a crisis like this does not happen again.

The president also signaled that he would take a strong hand in developing the final bill, which could mean changes to the restrictive derivatives provisions the Senate measure includes and Wall Street opposes. It is also likely that the administration will try to remove an exemption in the House bill that would shield auto dealers from oversight by a new consumer protection agency. Earlier, Mr. Obama had criticized the provision as a special loophole that would hurt car buyers.

Ok.  with this and the previous blog you have seen both sides. 

Now you're on your own.


ARIZONA'S SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT THE IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION

Ken Berwitz

If you believe the polling, Arizonans definitely are having second thoughts about the legislation regarding illegal aliens, which the Democratic party, especially the Obama administration, is so upset about.

From Rasmussen:

Arizona voters now support the states new immigration law more than ever and are still more inclined to think the law will be good for the states economy rather than bad. A lot of voters in the state are thinking its payback time, too, to those cities or states that boycott Arizona.

 

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Arizona finds that 71% now favor the immigration law, while 24% oppose it.

 

In late April, the law was supported by 64% of the states voters and opposed by 30%

Nationally, 55% of voters favor passage of such a law in their state.

There you have it. 

Arizonans used to be in favor of the laws by 64% - 30%. 

But now?  They are in favor of the laws by 71% - 24%.

And the overall country is solidly in favor of Arizona's laws as well.

Most U.S. voters have been following news reports about the new immigration law in Arizona, and 55% favor passage of such a law in their own state.

 

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 33% of voters are opposed to enactment of that kind of law. Another 12% are not sure.

 

When asked specifically about the chief provision of the Arizona law, support is even higher. Sixty-nine percent (69%) of voters believe a police officer should be required to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for a traffic violation or violation of some other law if he suspects the person might be an illegal immigrant.

 

Just 23% say police officers should not be required to do this.

But Democrats?  They stand and cheer while Mexico's President, instead of apologizing for running a country with so little opportunity that over 10% of its entire population has fled illegally to the United States, trashes those laws.

If that doesn't tell you something, you are immune to being told anything.


IS ARIZONA ALONE? NOT HARDLY

Ken Berwitz

With all the opprobrium being heaped on Arizona by Democrats, including the appalling spectacle of them giving Mexican President felipe calderon a standing ovation as he stood in the house of representatives and trashed its new immigration laws, you might think that the state is pretty isolated right now. 

But you would be wrong.

Read this excerpt from an article at Fox News and see for yourself:

While Arizona faces the scorn of the White House and local governments across the country for its immigration law, lawmakers in several states are looking to follow the Grand Canyon State's lead. 

Lawmakers and politicians in Texas, Rhode Island, Utah and Georgia are among those who, in the month since Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law, have announced plans to introduce similar legislation. 

The officials say states need to take matters into their own hands to tackle illegal immigration and in turn reduce the taxpayer cost associated with large undocumented populations in their hospitals, schools and prisons. They draw inspiration directly from the Arizona law, bucking the trend of local and state officials who have protested Arizona and called for boycotts against the state. 

Rhode Island state Rep. Peter Palumbo has filed a bill that looks nearly identical to Arizona's. It requires law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally -- provided they don't stop someone on that basis alone. The proposal empowers police to turn over illegal immigrants to federal custody and also bars local jurisdictions from limiting immigration enforcement. Several other provisions in the bill are based on Arizona's law

Palumbo, a Democrat, told Fox News that Arizona residents were "merely trying to protect themselves" and that the Rhode Island bill could help the state save millions every year. 

"You don't need to be a ... border state to have problems with illegals," he said, estimating the number of undocumented residents in Rhode Island at 40,000. 

Palumbo acknowledged that his state might not be as receptive as Arizona to such a bill. He said he's got about a half-dozen co-sponsors but hopes media coverage can build support. 

"It's difficult. We have a lot of progressives in Rhode Island," he said. 

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, an anti-illegal immigration group, has tracked 17 states to date where lawmakers are pushing for Arizona-style enforcement bills

Our wonderful "neutral" media have decided to make Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats happy by providing we plebes with little other than negative coverage of what Arizona has done.  But the reality, as you can plainly see, is very different.

This country supports serious laws regarding the flood of illegal aliens across our borders -- even if some politicians try to pretend otherwise, and even if they are abetted by a media that have decided to avoid the other side of the story.

But the other side is there.  Don't think for a minute that it isn't.

Zeke .... .... Tie together the pieces of the puzzle: .... Social services (hospital, welfare, public schools), ... ignoring laws (driving without license or insurance, converting one family apts & houses into flophouses, not vaccinating children) .... gang violence (CA has 100,000 gang members who are illegals) ... High crime rates (30% of Federal prisoners are illegal aliens) ... oh, and of course ..... illegal immigration (which IS a crime). .... .... The COST is incredible ... in terms of tax money to support illegals, .... the devastation of crime, .... ... taking jobs (at much lower wages) from poor (and middle class) American citizens ... ... .... .... (05/22/10)


HAMAS HOMELESSNESS

Ken Berwitz

Here's a construction project you won't hear a peep about from President Obama.

It comes to us via H'aaretz, the (decidedly leftward) Israel daily:

Latest update 01:35 21.05.10

Hamas to raze 180 Gaza houses to erect Islamic religious center

Palestinian Center for Human Rights says Gaza authorities already destroyed 20 homes, forcing 150 people to live in tents.

By Avi Issacharoff

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip plans to raze another 180 Palestinian houses, on top of the 20 it recently demolished in the southern town of Rafah, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights charged on Thursday.

The 20 houses already destroyed were home to some 150 people, who are now homeless and living in tents, the organization said.

The government said it razed the houses because they were built illegally on government land. The organization said that Hamas plans to use the same pretext to demolish houses in Khan Yunis and other towns.

Most of these houses' inhabitants are poor, the organization said, and several saw their previous houses demolished during the years of fighting with Israel.

Palestinians sources told Haaretz that the area in question, comprising around 200 dunams (some 50 acres ), had been given by the Hamas government to a charitable organization called Fadila so that it could build a religious study center there comprising a school, a college and a mosque. But when Fadila sought to begin construction, it discovered that dozens of houses had been built on the site. In most cases, these houses were built by owners whose original homes had been destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces.

Fadila applied to the Hamas government, which asked the residents to leave. When they refused, saying they had nowhere to go, the government went to court, and the court ordered them to leave. The government then began razing the houses.

Hamas halted the demolitions after they sparked outrage among ordinary Gazans and the Palestinian media. But the Palestinian Center for Human Rights fears they are slated to resume soon.

This is not the first move Hamas has made recently that sparked an outcry in Gaza. Another was its decision to impose a hefty tax on the cigarettes that are smuggled in from Egypt via tunnels, and which until then were very cheap. It has also imposed taxes on various other products smuggled through the tunnels, as well as on market stalls and all shops that sell produce by weight.

The taxes are meant to improve the Hamas government's financial plight. Its revenues have recently declined, due to the international community's efforts to crack down on fund transfers to Hamas from overseas banks, especially in Europe. In addition, less cash is being smuggled in via the tunnels, due to Egypt's crackdown on the cross-border smuggling business.

Last month, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine even warned of a popular uprising against the new decrees - or in other words, an intifada.

Interesting, wouldn't you say?  Hamas, which enthusiastically joined in condemning Israel for building housing units in a primarily Jewish part of East Jerusalem, has no problem tearing down housing for its own people, to build a "religious center" (and, given that it is hamas-controlled Gaza, you can guess what quality of "religion" will be taught there).

Maybe they just don't like housing.

I'm also fascinated by the "hefty tax on the cigarettes that are smuggled in from Egypt via tunnels....(and) various other products smuggled through the tunnels...". 

How do you tax stolen goods?  How do you know where they are and that they were stolen - unless, of course, you are involved in the operation.

Wouldn't it be a tad easier to make a serious peace settlement with the Israelis and peacefully coexist with them?  Then Israel, with dramatically more of everything Gaza lacks, would be a major asset and benefit to the Palestinian Arabs living there, instead of just a bunch of Jews they want dead.

That would benefit both sides immeasurably, very especially Palestinian Arabs.  Which, sad to say, intuitively explains why hamas won't ever allow it to happen.


TOM MCCLINTOCK TELLS CALDERON OFF. HALLELUJAH!!

Ken Berwitz

Now that I've shown you a video of Mexican President felipe calderon telling us that Arizona has no right to protect its border - to the enthusiastic delight of house Democrats who gave him a standing ovation for his comments - I thought you would like you to see Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) tell this loudmouthed ingrate where to go and what to do when he gets there.

 

THANK YOU TOM MCCLINTOCK! 

And shame on you, house Democrats.  Which side are you on, anyway?  Or is that standing ovation your way of answering the question?


CALDERON LECTURES ARIZONA ON TRYING TO SEAL ITS BORDERS, DEMOCRATS STAND AND CHEER

Ken Berwitz

Warning:  If you have a weak stomach, this video is not for you.

Here is a video of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, standing before the US house of representatives and lecturing us on why he is against Arizona's new laws - the laws enacted to prevent the tidal wave of CALDERON'S OWN PEOPLE from illegally coming into the United States.

And the house of representatives' reaction?  Its Democrats give calderon a standing ovation.

Do yoiu think I must be kidding?  Just Crazy? 

Do you think it is impossible that congressional Democrats would give a standing ovation to a head of state with the gall to stand before them and criticize an attempt to secure this country's borders from his own people - an attempt that Calderon is either incapable or unwilling to mount? 

Then watch and see for yourself:

 

Did you also see that, among those giving Calderon a standing ovation for telling Arizona - and the US in general - that it has no right to secure its own borders, were Speaker of the House nancy pelosi (behind him), eric holder (our Attorney General) and janet napolitano (our Homeland Security Secretary, and the former Governor of Arizona!)
 
Instead of telling Calderon to shut the hell up, mind his own business, and worry more about why over 10% of his country's entire population has fled to the USA because it is better to be an illegal here than a legal there, these effing morons cheer him on. 
 
To them, Arizona - which passed the laws out of desperation because the federal (which the house of representatives is part of) has done nothing to stop illegals from flooding into the country - is the villain.
 
If you remember one thing when you go to the polls this November, let this be it.

Zeke .... In the interests of good fellowship and a fear of burrito shipments being curtailed ....... should the US immediately adopt Mexico's ideas about immigration and border security ...... The Mexican ideas used on THEIR southern border.... Imprisonment, beatings, mistreatment (aka rape). No path to citizenship, no right to own land (05/21/10)

free` I am not a fan of Rush, but he nails this issue. Audio here: gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/05/after-dumping-on-arizona-calderon-admits-of-course-we-ask-for-papers-from-immigrants-rush-limbaugh-video/ (05/21/10)


THE FINANCE & BANKING REFORM BILL: NEGATIVE SIDE

Ken Berwitz

The Obama banking reform bill has been voted through to debate, and a vote - a successful one, given the huge majority Democrats have in both houses - is virtually certain.

But what is it and what does it do?

I'm not going to pretend to know about financial regulatory legislation.  So I'm going to give both the positive and negative sides, as I find them, for you to make up your own mind.

Here, from Mark Calabria (the Director of Financial-Regulatory Studies at the Cato Institute) is a negative view:

Dodd's do-nothing financial 'reform'

Last Updated: 4:44 AM, May 21, 2010

 Mark A. Calabria

Wall Street is heaving a quiet sigh of relief: All Washington is going to give us for "financial reform" in the wake of the collapse of 2008 is a law based on Sen. Chris Dodd's bill.

That thin semblance of reform will let Congress and the Obama administration claim they brought Wall Street to heel. But by dodging all the hard issues, this "reform" makes it likely that the next crisis will put the last one to shame.

 

Start with ending "too big to fail": Despite Dodd's floor statements (and improvements made at the request of Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on Dodd's committee), the bill actually fur ther enshrines the special and privileged status of our largest financial institutions. It squashes whatever hope there was of bringing back market discipline to our largest financial institutions -- and guarantees ever-increasing concentration in our financial markets.

 

Going forward, we are left with relying on only the discretionary wisdom of the same regulators who were asleep at the wheel last time. And though that crisis cost millions their jobs, the Dodd bill won't see even one incompetent bureaucrat lose his.

 

Yes, the Dodd bill eliminates the Office of Thrift Supervision -- but it guarantees that all OTS employees will have jobs at the new bank regulator. How exactly is moving around boxes on the organizational chart going to prevent the next financial crisis? (Ironically, OTS was itself created in the "crackdown" after another Washington-sparked meltdown, the savings-and-loan crisis of the late '80s.)

 

Indeed, the real theme of the Dodd bill is: Give the bureaucrats more power and discretion, without any accountability. Its main achievement is to set up a new agency that will largely determine who, what and how it will regulate.

But the bill itself doesn't touch even blatant problems.

 

For example, with almost universal recognition that banks lacked sufficient capital going into the financial crisis, it should be a "no-brainer" to fix our flawed regulation of bank capital -- in other words, to prevent banks from borrowing 40 times as much as their assets, as Lehman Bros. was doing shortly before its collapse.

 

Sorry, no: The Dodd bill simply proposes that its new "council of regulators" may recommend that the Federal Reserve impose more stringent standards. Yes, that's may. The bill doesn't even require regulators to change the current levels or framework for bank capital.

 

Even where Dodd claims to be the toughest, on issues of consumer protection, he simply punts to the regulators and the trial bar. That is, he orders bureaucrats to do better -- and makes it easier for lawyers to sue.

 

The bill doesn't even eliminate zero-down mortages -- or any of the irresponsible lending products that plainly contributed to the crisis. Indeed, Dodd twice fought off floor amendments to require modest down payments.

Perhaps most insulting is Dodd's pretense that ordering up a "study" should count as addressing an issue. By my count, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office or the financial regulators to conduct no less than 28 separate studies.

 

What's Dodd's solution to the failings of the credit-rating agencies? A study.

 

His answer to the crisis in the auction-rate-securities and municipal-debt markets? A study. What to do about proprietary trading? A study. How about the flawed home-appraisal process that contributed to inflated housing prices? You got it, another study.

 

The worst of all; How do we protect the taxpayer from further losses from Fannie and Freddie? One more study, of course -- although Dodd has assured us that this one will be a "tough study."

 

Our system of financial regulation is an embarrassing mess. But rather than restructure it, the Senate bill doubles down on the flaws and weakness of that mess.

 

It would be nice, just once, to see Congress make some hard choices and legislate -- especially when the longterm health of America's financial system is at issue.

Obviously, Mr. Calabria is not taken with this "reform".  So there's your negative side.  I will look for, and post, a positive view before the day is out.


THE DUMPING OF DENNIS BLAIR

Ken Berwitz

Did Barack Obama and his sycophants dump Dennis Blair because Mr. Blair's competence and honest embarrassed them?

Read Steve Gilbert's excellent take-apart of the Associated Press article on Blair, from www.sweetness-light.com, and decide for yourself.:

DNI Admiral Blair Forced Out By Obama

May 21st, 2010

From an always compliant Associated Press:

Intelligence director knew his days were numbered

By Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press Writer Fri May 21, 2010

WASHINGTON For months, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair has been a dead man walking and he knew it. So constant and vicious were the leaks from the White House and Congress of his imminent departure that he opened a recent speech on intelligence reform with a joke that his replacement would be Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The crowds laughter was just a little uncomfortable, as Blair himself spotlighted the elephant in the room by suggesting that even the just-traded NFL star was being mentioned to fill the job.

So Mr. Blair was able to connect some dots.

Everyone seemed to know this just wasnt working.

His 16-month tenure had been studded with public intelligence failures, turf wars and that uniquely inside-the-Beltway ritual humiliation via leaks to the press.

Of course the greatest humiliation was probably that nobody has ever heard of him before. Indeed, we are probably only hearing about him now because the Obama administration needs a fall guy.

And Dennis Blair is so outside the Obama circle, he didnt even go to Harvard. He went to the Naval Academy instead, which is Harvards polar opposite.

And, weirdly, Admiral Blair actually had some background for his job. Which probably made him stick out like a sore thumb, as well.

Blairs official decision to step down came Thursday after an Oval office meeting with President Barack Obama, according to two senior congressional staffers. They said it became clear by the end of the meeting that Blair had "lost the confidence of the president."

The good news is that Mr. Holder and Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Panetta all still enjoy Mr. Obamas full confidence.

Two other government officials said several candidates already had been interviewed for the DNI job, which is to oversee the nations 16 intelligence agencies

Its a cinch they will pick a leftwing radical with little or no on-the-job experience, but who went to Harvard or near abouts.

Blairs later testimony before Congress did not endear him to the White House, the officials said, when he acknowledged that an elite interrogation team known as the High-Value Interrogation Group had not been deployed to question Abdulmutallab. Blair may have further damaged himself by admitting that he had not been consulted on whether the HIG unit should have been used

In other words, Mr. Blair damaged himself by telling the truth. Actually, that makes sense. Since it is clear such a man would not fit in with the rest of Mr. Obamas acolytes.

Blair was the first Obama administration official to describe the deadly shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, last fall as an act of homegrown extremism. The administration had previously been reluctant to call the suspect, an Army psychiatrist, a homegrown terrorist or extremist

Again, Mr. Obama certainly cannot have people in his administration speaking the obvious truth. Or as Mr. Obama put it, jumping to conclusions.

What a blunder, putting someone into a position of authority with an actual background in what he was doing and a serious intention to address it honestly instead of politically.

No wonder Blair is unceremoniously dumped. 

Didn't he ever hear of the Chicago way?


CAN RICHARD BLUMENTHAL SURVIVE?

Ken Berwitz

Can Connecticut Attorney General and presumptive senate candidate survive, when the New York Times, which figured to be among his most important supporters, is running expos after expos on his lies about his military service?

Here is the latest, via excerpts from Raymond Hernandez' article in today's edition: 

WASHINGTON -- Broader newspaper archival searches continue to turn up instances in which Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut portrayed himself as a Vietnam War veteran even though he did not serve in the war.

The most recent article unearthed is one published in The Milford Mirror, a weekly, describing an appearance he made at a May 2007 Memorial Day Parade in Milford, Conn., attended by local officials, military people and the relatives of a local man killed while serving in Iraq.

As people gathered around a bandstand to give praise to fallen veterans, the article said, Mr. Blumenthal recalled his days during the Vietnam War.

In Vietnam, Mr. Blumenthal said, according to the article, we had to endure taunts and insults, and no one said, Welcome home. I say welcome home.

The disclosure of the Milford episode comes days after The New York Times reported that Mr. Blumenthal, who is running for the United States, had falsely claimed that he had served in Vietnam, and had failed to correct reports in the news media that perpetuated the claim.

In one instance, according to The Times, Mr. Blumenthal told a Norwalk audience in 2008, We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.

The article also described his attendance at a rally in Bridgeport, where about 100 military families gathered to express support for American troops overseas. When we returned, we saw nothing like this, he said. Let us do better by this generation of men and women.

Mr. Blumenthal has acknowledged that on occasion, he has misspoken about his military service. But he has said that he never intentionally misled the public about his military record.

The report in The Times was followed by a report in The Advocate of Stamford that described Mr. Blumenthal speaking about his military service during the Stamford Veterans Day parade on Nov. 9, 2008.

I wore the uniform in Vietnam, he said, and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.

An honorable man would apologize profusely, take himself out of the senate race and resign as Attorney General.

But Blumenthal is not apologizing, not taking himself out of the senate race and not resigning as Attorney General.  Yet.

Common sense tells me that if his poll numbers stay down or drop further, however, his current supporters in the Democratic Party will quickly morph into erstwhile supporters, and he won't have a choice.

If it's going to happen, Democrats know that the sooner he does so, the better for them.

The next week or so should be interesting, and then some.

free` I am sorry but i do not trust the nyt's, they are treating this guy as if he were a Republican. We need to know why they are doing this, we know the nyt's doesnt care for Republicans or the military. So why are they running these stories? (05/21/10)

Zeke .... The man would climb a tree to tell a lie, when he'd be better served by standing in front of you, and relating the truth ..... ...... ..... ...... Just like Willie Clinton. (05/21/10)


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