This picture doesn't do it justice. The crowd is so thick I can't see the speakers or get to most of the booths. It's shoulder-to-shoulder all the way from the harbor to the street, more packed than I remember other Tea Parties here.
This is way more than I expected given the morning downpour. And despite threats of further drenching, the sun came out right as the party started.
Hundreds of Tea Partiers in good spirits, and across the street 30 or so counter-protesters. Ironically, many of the counter-protesters had signs protesting Obama policies like the war in Afghanistan.
Bottom line is that countries default all the time. And the United States defaulted in 1933. I found the history of that default in American Spectator fascinating. The U.S. had issued bonds with the explicit promise of gold backing. Then when the debt burden got too difficult, FDR and Congress decided to unilaterally violate the gold clause, devalue the dollar, and pay people off in cheap paper money instead of the gold-convertible sound money they had been contractually promised. If that's not default, I don't know what is.
Now this time around, the government won't have to legally default, because they never promised current bondholders that dollars would be exchangeable for gold or worth anything at all. They can print a one-trillion-dollar bill and ship it to China marked "paid in full." It's not a legal default, but it might as well be, because bondholders get back something that's worth far less than what they paid for the bonds.
Default by inflation is no picnic. It risks hyperinflation, which always causes social unrest, sometimes civil war, and occasionally genocide. And even if hyperinflation is avoided, moderate inflation is brutal on the working class and the elderly, as their wages and savings can't keep up with the rising cost of living.
But just because default by inflation isn't pretty doesn't mean it won't happen. That is the path we're on. Consider that before you shrug off the significance of trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.
Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.
Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?
This is in the same area of inland north San Diego County where 14-year-old Amber Dubois disappeared last year. The Escondido police blew that case off as a likely runaway, though friends and family vehemently denied that possibility. Remember, this is the same incompetent Escondido Police Department that bullied an innocent child into confessing to murdering his sister.
Here's Chelsea, in hopes that someone has seen her. If you have, please call the San Diego Police, not the Escondido Police, at (619) 531-2000.
The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.
- Alan Greenspan, June 10, 1999, almost nine years before the official record of Greenspan's Body Count began.
Palm Desert's Christopher Oetting got involved in just such a mortgage fraud ring:
Police say a Palm Desert businessman who pleaded guilty to taking part in a $150 million mortgage scam has hanged himself.
47-year-old Christopher Oetting was found dead in a home on Sagewood Drive in Palm Desert Tuesday, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Deparment. He was heading to federal prison in just a few weeks.
Oetting was one of seven co-conspirators who created false companies that officials say led to more than 200 homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure.
The kingpin - James Duncan - even made a Youtube video to lure investors.
More details about the scam here:
An investor would buy two, three or as many as eight houses within days of each other. Stonewood would apply for loans on behalf of the client, typically for two loans totalling 20 percent to 25 percent more than the appraised value of each house. The investor would pay the seller close to the asking price, typically $450,000 to $600,000. Jovane Investments would then pocket the excess cash, often $100,000 to $120,000.
Part of that money would be used to make regular mortgage and tax payments on the houses, the attorneys said. It seemed to be a great deal for the investors, the suit alleges, so they would bring in friends and family members.
[...]Things began to come apart in the fall, Abano said, when Oetting Enterprises simply stopped making payments on most of the loans. One of the families had taken out loans on eight investment properties and refinanced their own house, Abano said. The family received nine notices of default since mid-December, he said.
Scams like that wouldn't have been so easy without skyrocketing home prices and non-existent lending standards thanks to Fed easy money.
Greenspan's Body Count stands at 123.
Debra K. Gibbs
Kevin Daniel O'Connell
Siu Fong Ng
Ernest Scherer Jr.
Betty J. Lipply
Del Mar man
Wayne "Mike" Anderson
Jeffrey M. Pearson
Ervin Antonio Lupoe
Steven L. Good
Dallas Dwayne Carter
Lt. Michael Howe
Palmer C. White
Dianne Pittman White
Edwin F. Rachleff
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
News flash, geniuses: it's not an industry thing. They are your competitors. The Obama Administration owns Government Motors. You don't see them busting GM's balls about regulatory issues, do you? Quite the contrary, they're still using the fake bank "Ally Bank" to funnel taxpayer dollars to fund cheap financing for Government Motors vehicles.
If Toyota won't surrender to UAW demands and start writing big checks to Democrat campaign funds, they're in for the Dr. Jellyfinger treatment.
Krugman wants a weaker dollar, Mundell wants a weaker Euro, Japan wants a weaker Yen, and everyone wants a stronger Yuan except China.
It is impossible for everyone to get what they want: a weaker currency vs. everyone else hoping to stimulate exports.
Academia is never concerned with such details.
My money is on Zimbabwe Ben. He's a more fanatical debaser of the currency than his European counterparts. The Eurozone will break up before they'll print enough to keep up with ZB.
If you read my first entry on SFO to DFW here on WC Varones, you know I had absolutely no problems getting through TSA with a DMV printout (no photo) and a Costco card. Even better, my plane had WiFi so the story was up before I landed and dropped off the planet.
Fast-forward five days and I'm leaving DFW to return home to SFO. I'm not happy to report the return trip was not nearly as easy.
First of all, since my partner in crime (who got more *ahem* hassle than I on his way to DFW) and I were flying from different airlines, we had to go through different checkpoints and meet up after that. Lame.
Then I had to get past American Airlines. She politely checked my bag and talked to me about San Francisco while ripping up my pre-printed boarding pass and reprinting one with SSSS clearly written on the corner. That means I'm on "the List" forever or at the least flying as a "selectee" for the first time.
She smiled all the while and never mentioned it.
The SSSS is an asinine aviation security rule, of course, because if one were trying to get something into the airport that wasn't allowed, wouldn't one dump it as soon as they saw the SSSS on their boarding pass if they'd done their research and knew they were up for additional screening?
I'm cool, all I had was a laptop with a "Big Brother is Watching You" sticker and some questionable, um, "vacation" items that aren't necessarily contraband. I didn't even notice the SSSS until I was about to get on the plane, apparently TSA didn't either.
I rolled up to the elderly TSA gentleman (I'm being nice) and said "You're going to hate me," pulling out the DMV printout and began to explain that I was still waiting for my license that I went to California DMV for on 1/19/10. He immediately called for a supervisor.
Shit, I started with the jokes about the California budget crisis and how I probably won't see my license for 6 months. He didn't budge.
Thankfully for me and my no ID having ass, as he called a supervisor a second time, two McDonald's employees tried to roll through saying something about one of them being an escort and one working in the airport. Old dude was not buying it and I was trying my best not to pull out my BlackBerry and start making snarky TSA comments on Twitter. Keep in mind I'm wearing a kitty hat with ears and everything, how scary can I be?
The McDonald's chicks (I can pretty easily assume they were of Mexican origin) started saying they had no ID. None. Old dude didn't like this. Neither did the TSA supervisor who showed up, and went straight for the chicks. I'll save you the details, they denied them entry and snickered about calling immigration as it's illegal to get hired in the airport if one doesn't have ID blah blah blah. I of course said "isn't it a legal requirement to have ID?" with a straight face and my Costco card and every credit card in my wallet splayed out. I even had a W-2 just in case.
She let me go, said I was fine, and commenced to bitching about the McDonald's chicks with no ID at all. At least I had tax documents and credit cards, even if the names didn't match. Want a business card? Got that too. Two of them. I tell them thanks and Old Dude tells me you better take care of that as if I can solve the California budget crisis single-handedly and staff the DMV with enough driver's license makers so I get mine at last (to date it has been 4 weeks, I was told 2 - 3, the DMV 800# says it can take up to 6).
I was not subject to additional screening. Flying as a "selectee" is not nearly as cool as I thought it would be and to date I still have no idea what the air puffer is like. Lame x2, come on TSA, make it worth my time.
Then I had to take off my shoes.
The guy scanning baggage stopped and called another TSA guy over before my things popped out of the X-ray machine. "Am I in trouble?" He wanted to talk about my "aerosols", of which I had none so I knew it was the also seemingly Mexican guy in front of me. I grabbed my shoes and laptop and inappropriate "vacation" items and was done.
Does this mean I'm marked forever? Bring it, TSA, I'll be sure to keep my liquids under 3 oz and bring as many inappropriate but totally allowed "vacation" items as possible next time.
Thanks for the great time, DFW.
Ron Paul has ended Mitt Romney's three-year run as conservatives' favorite for president, taking 31 percent of the vote in the Conservative Political Action Conference's annual straw poll.
Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas known for his libertarian views, ran for president in 2008 but was never a serious contender for the GOP nomination.
Ron Paul will never be a serious contender for the GOP nomination. But his son Rand might be sooner than you expect.
UPDATE: Issue polls confirm gay marriage not at all important to CPAC attendees. It's gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiney day!
We are rapidly approaching the all-time record debt/GDP levels seen in World War II. The Greatest Generation sent millions of troops and countless tons of war machinery halfway around the world to stop the Axis' plans for world domination. We bailed out housing speculators.
But if World War II is the closest comparable debt burden, perhaps the way out of WWII debt will show us a way out of the current crisis. After all, look how nicely the debt/GDP ratio drops to reasonable levels so quickly after WWII.
Here's what Truman did:
He slashed spending by 67%, from $107 billion in 1945 to $36 billion in 1948. That, plus a little moderate inflation and some real GDP growth, brought down debt/GDP.
Now, I know Obama can't slash the federal government by 67% in three years, but he'll at least trim it a little, right? Didn't he just say something about fiscal responsibility and getting the deficit under control?
Nope. Obama plans to increase spending by 12% over the next five years. We're in the biggest hole in 65 years and Obama's solution is to keep digging!
We are so screwed.
Figure skating gets no respect because of outcomes like this...I am going to watch hockey, where athletes are allowed to push the envelope. A real sport.Normal sports blather, I'd say, except for the identity of the blogger: two-time silver medalist Elvis Stojko.
Schools: 50% more teachers per pupil and how's that working out for ya?
And federal spending. I hope you love your government
In the first eight fiscal years of FDR’s presidency, before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, federal spending as a percentage of GDP never exceeded 12 (despite the Depression). During those years, it averaged only 9.85 percent. Under Obama, annual spending as a percentage of GDP will average almost two-and-a-half times that much.
In fiscal 1942, when the U.S. started dramatically ramping up expenditures to fight World War II, federal spending equaled 24.3 percent of GDP. In 2010, the first full fiscal year of the Obama era, spending will reach 25.4 percent of GDP.
Related, Glenn Reynolds: What I saw at the Tea Party Convention.
Press attention focused on Sarah Palin's speech, which was well-received by the crowd. But the attendees I met weren't looking to her for direction. They were hoping she would move in theirs. Right now, the tea party isn't looking for leaders so much as leaders are looking to align themselves with the tea party.
UPDATE: Michael Reagan: Ronald Reagan would applaud the Tea Party movement. Is there any doubt he would? Reagan would have been a Tea Partier in his younger days.
If he wins the primary, he'd likely be favored against any Democrat to win the general election.
This looks like a real chance to get a real libertarian in the Senate!
Today is MoneyBomb day for the Liberty Slate candidates. You can donate to Rand Paul here and other Liberty Slate candidates here.
The US must fix its growing debt problems or risk a new financial crisis, Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, warned on Tuesday, adding a mounting deficit could spur inflation.
Mr Hoenig said that rising debt was infringing on the central bank’s ability to fulfil its goals of maintaining price stability and long-term economic growth. “Stunning” deficit projections were putting political pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates low, infringing on its independence at the risk of inflation, he said.
“Without pre-emptive action, the US risks its next crisis,” Mr Hoenig said in a speech at the Pew-Peterson Commission on Budget Reform.
He was the only Fed member who dissented at last month’s meeting against language indicating that interest rates should remain near zero for an “extended period”.
On Tuesday he said that the worst option for the US was a scenario where the government “knocks on the central bank’s door” and asks it to print more money.
I'm pretty sure we are already living that worst option. Only Hank Paulson and Timmy the Tax Cheat didn't have to knock because their soul mate Ben Bernanke can read their every thought and fulfill their every wish.
Dobbs: I don't think there's any question that the Fed has missed, grievously, a number of its policy choices, not understanding the bubbles that it was creating. And this is, if you will, a Greenspan-Bernanke responsibility. Because their failures absolutely conflate. And Bernanke unfortunately carries on some of those failures that began with Greenspan. But the lack of understanding, it seems to me, that they have a regulatory role, which they advocated. Secondly they seem to pay, for whatever reason, no attention whatsoever to the impact, the consequences of low interest rates and expansive monetary policy. Peculiar because everyone is fond of saying elections have consequences. So does Fed policy. And we are going through, I think, in large measure, some of the consequences that find their origin principally at the Fed.
Forbes: It's amazing. When the Fed messes up the free markets get the rap.
Dobbs: Exactly, exactly. And that may continue for some time. Ben Bernanke, the open question as to, you know, his leadership to the degree of which he should be replaced. We find ourselves in an odd place. Because here is a man who in my opinion should definitely be replaced. There are lots of capable, bright folks who understand the role of the Federal Reserve--the proper role of the Federal Reserve--[and] understand the policies that should be followed.
Video of the interview here. He hates Obama and the bailouts, loves Volcker and Glass-Steagall.
Good news, kids, all it takes to get on a domestic flight these days is the following:
- a (current) DMV printout (no photo)
- a Costco card with horrible photo (the last name need not match)
- a credit card (again, last name irrelevant however this may only work if you are a female who could easily claim any one of the mismatched names as your "married name". TSA doesn't have to know about those three weeks when I lived in Reno at 18 years old... *cough*)
And here I was worried about losing my passport two months ago on a flight back from Chicago and the State of California taking too long to mail me my driver's license in time for my flight this afternoon to Dallas! Who needs it? (A quick call to the TSA revealed an airline loophole: the TSA themselves informed me that the hardest part would be convincing the airline to let me on without valid government-issued ID, therefore it would be wise to print my boarding pass at home before heading to the airport. Thanks, random TSA operator!)
For those of you looking to push it a tad further with our friends at the TSA, check out How to Fly without ID for tips on asserting your rights to the Air Gestapo.
As always, a smile and a reasonable demeanor can go a long way, even when you're dealing with overpaid rent-a-cops carrying out yet another failed Bush administration scheme.
As I write this, I'm milking American Airlines WiFi so thank you, SFO TSA and I sure will enjoy my flight, yeehaw! I'm a tad disappointed they didn't put a "SSSS" on my boarding pass and shuffle me through the airpuffer machine, I always wanted to try that bad boy. Oh well.
The ultimate irony of this experience is that my partner in crime - who is significantly more legit than I - departed from an East Coast airport and ended up having his bits under surveillance in the X-ray machine and everything while yours truly trotted her happy, ID-less ass scot-free to her plane.
*obligatory disclaimer: terrorism is not funny and JDA does not advocate messing with the TSA just to mess with them. I didn't choose not to show ID, I genuinely do not have any at this time. But seriously, anyone need anything from the Dallas Costco?
Just as the real estate industry suckered millions of Americans into taking on crushing debt to own a home because home ownership was the Meaning of Life, the education industry has suckered millions of Americans into taking on crushing debt to go to school because education is the Meaning of Life.
And like the housing bubble, the education bubble was created with easy money. If people actually had to save for college, colleges couldn't charge $40,000 a year. But when student-victims can be swindled into signing a lifetime debt agreement, colleges can charge whatever they want.
Just as with the housing bubble, consumers are now realizing they overpaid. Unlike a house, though, when you're underwater on your education, you can't walk away. Student loan laws make borrowers debt slaves forever, with the debt immune from discharge even in bankruptcy.
This weekend, the Wall Street Journal chimed in:
When Michelle Bisutti, a 41-year-old family practitioner in Columbus, Ohio, finished medical school in 2003, her student-loan debt amounted to roughly $250,000. Since then, it has ballooned to $555,000.
It is the result of her deferring loan payments while she completed her residency, default charges and relentlessly compounding interest rates. Among the charges: a single $53,870 fee for when her loan was turned over to a collection agency
There are a couple other sob stories in the article. And then this:
There is an estimated $730 billion in outstanding federal and private student-loan debt, says Mark Kantrowitz of FinAid.org, a Web site that tracks financial-aid issues—and only 40% of that debt is actively being repaid. The rest is in default, or in deferment, which means that payments and interest are halted, or in "forbearance," which means payments are halted while interest accrues.
How's that for a Ponzi scheme? Sounds an awful lot like Option-ARMs, where subprime lenders recorded phantom interest as "profit" while loan balances obviously would never be repaid as they grew far beyond the value of the collateral.
Now Obama wants to address this not by stopping the abusive lending of obscene amounts, but by forgiving all that student debt and just piling it onto the national debt. And government workers will be considered "public interest" and get a much sweeter deal than private sector peasants.
It was a full ballroom.
The Campaign for Liberty and other libertarian-types were there, and co-existed peacefully with old-school OC religious conservatives.
This Arizona ACORN guy and his friend loitered around the ballroom doors with their cameras looking for racists and Nazis. They didn't find any; just a bunch of friendly folk who've had enough of bailouts, borrowing, and spending.
Seated at the table is Mason Weaver, San Diego Congressional candidate and original Tea Partier.
This is Damon Dunn, an awesome speaker and a true small-government conservative running for Secretary of State.
Dr. Obama Joker checks his rationing list.
This is Chuck DeVore, the only fiscal conservative in the Senate race and the only candidate who respects the Tea Party movement.
San Diego's own Tea Party founder Dawn Wildman gave a great speech as well, though my pics and vid didn't come out.
Also fun was a comedy bit by Evan Sayet, who I got to chat with a little after.
Steve Poizner was scheduled to speak later, but I didn't stick around for him. Poizner was for tax hikes before he was against them, and is even more of a Demon Sheep than Tom Campbell. What's more, he strangled the Part-Time Legislature and Unplug the Machine initiatives in their crib by refusing to fund them from his multi-million-dollar personal fortune.
As I pulled out of the hotel parking lot, the Grateful Dead's Liberty played on XM Sirius.
Saw a bird with a tear in his eye
Walking to New Orleans my oh my
Hey, now, Bird, wouldn't you rather die
Than walk this world when you're born to fly?
If I was the sun, I'd look for shade
If I was a bed, I would stay unmade
If I was a river I'd run uphill
If you call me you know I will
If you call me you know I will
Ooo, leave me alone
To find my own way home
To find my own way home
Say what I mean and I don't give a damn
I do believe and I am who I am
Hey now Mama come and take my hand
Whole lotta shakin' all over this land
If I was an eagle I'd dress like a duck
Crawl like a lizard and honk like a truck
If I get a notion I'll climb this tree
or chop it down and you can't stop me
Chop it down and you can't stop me
Ooo, leave me alone
To find my own way home
To find my own way home
Went to the well but the water was dry
Dipped my bucket in the clear blue sky
Looked in the bottom and what did I see?
The whole damned world looking back at me
If I was a bottle I'd spill for love
Sake of mercy I'd kill for love
If I was a liar I'd lie for love
Sake of my baby I'd die for love
Sake of my baby I'd die for love
Ooo, leave me alone
To find my own way home
To find my own way home
I'm gonna find my own way home
Gerard Finneran was born February 16, 1937. Truly a renaissance man, Finneran was a multi-sport athlete who went on to an extraordinarily successful career in banking. The details of Finneran's long and storied career are chronicled here in a 2005 obituary. But he will always be remembered for that one, shining moment. A quarterback for the Air Force Academy, Finneran would come to be known for a far greater feat in the air.
... on a flight back from Buenos Aires to New York, Mr. Finneran had a bit too much to drink.
He drank snowballs and other cocktails, starting before take-off and continuing until a flight attendant decided that it would not be appropriate to serve him any more. He assaulted her, then then started shouting "Fuck the President, fuck him in the ass" while serving himself from the trolley. (History does not record whether he meant the President of Argentina or the President of the United States.)
Moments later, Finneran made the decision that entered his name in the annals of history.
He dropped his pants, pulled off his underwear, and took a shit on a service cart. When he had finished his business, he used linen napkins as toilet paper and wiped his hands on various work surfaces in the galley, smearing faeces throughout the first class cabin.
Gerard Finneran, we salute you.
I did the extended version of the death of Berkeley's Daily Planet at Jr Deputy Accountant. Here's the short one.
First they got ripped off by a sketchy payroll company run by a bunch of right-wing nutjobs (?):
The Berkeley Daily Planet has discovered that the company that has prepared its payroll for eight years vanished from its Oakland office shortly after the first of this year, leaving behind a trail of unpaid taxes and embezzlement charges. The Planet is not the only victim of what looks like a major fraud and a possible Ponzi scheme worthy of Bernie Madoff—the company claimed that it had more than 100 clients. Most of them are small businesses or nonprofits, and it seems likely that most of them have been stung. The total take could be in the millions of dollars.
Clickbooks.com Inc. maintained a small dingy office in a warehouse on 98th Avenue. Clients who went there to pick up paychecks for their employees occasionally encountered founder Bill Norgren in the back room. His mother, Ellen Norgren, was a constant presence in the front—the Planet’s publisher saw her there not long ago reading right-wing political tracts and denouncing Obama’s health care plan.
Then they lost ad revenue and blamed it on the recession. They've now officially announced they'll be cutting down to "Online only". Daily Planet reporters did not comment on what was wrong with denouncing Obama's health care plan. (Can anyone answer that one for me? I'm confused)
"The only way to cut expenses further is to give up print publication for the moment," according to the O'Malleys" editorial. "We know that many if not most of our 40,000-plus faithful readers prefer paper, and frankly, we do too. But our central mission continues to be reporting the news, and new technology has made online news delivery very attractive."
Reporting the news like details about strange encounters with (admittedly weird-sounding) anti-Obamacare payroll chicks?
It gets better, at least from a journalistic standpoint. Check out this sweet jiggling motion over Obama's Oslo speech in December:
If you’re smart enough to edit the Harvard Law Review, literate enough to write two very good books, clever enough to gain the Democratic Party’s nomination for president and wily enough to defeat the Republican nominee, then you’ll most certainly be able to obtain the assistance of the best and the brightest. Thus, it is no surprise that President Obama, in humbly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, would deliver a speech that was magnificent in every way. It was erudite and didactic; it had depth and breath; it was a political masterstroke that at once quieted shrill prior criticisms, satisfied nervous supporters and disquieted unattached progressives like me.
Well of course they lost ad revenue. There is only one product I can think of that might want to advertise in a paper of that caliber, I need a tissue and want to cuddle after reading that garbage. Is it Alan Greenspan's fault the paper died?
I'm going to have to vote not totally but absolutely blame his easy money for having kept crap publications like that alive this long. RIP, Daily Planet, please take the LA Times with you.
It's not hard for Goldmanites to rip off the taxpayers when they have influence over, and higher IQs than, Timmy the Tax Cheat and Sheila Bair.
President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay.
“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”
Begrudge? Hell, the Obama Administration gave multi-million dollar packages to the bureaucrats running bankrupt government agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
UPDATE: ABC News: Obama doesn't begrudge an "obscene" and "shameful" "outrage."
This video states the same argument...without all the slurring, swearing and spitting.
the creditor and the deadbeat broke-ass plastic duck junkie
UPDATE: W.C. here. Awesome video. My thoughts on this subject from October here.
Just days after the New York Times tells us Goldman Sachs caused the AIG collapse, Germany's Der Spiegel tells us that Goldman helped Greece hide huge deficits.
Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules. At some point the so-called cross currency swaps will mature, and swell the country's already bloated deficit.
Creative accounting took priority when it came to totting up government debt.Since 1999, the Maastricht rules threaten to slap hefty fines on euro member countries that exceed the budget deficit limit of three percent of gross domestic product. Total government debt mustn't exceed 60 percent.
The Greeks have never managed to stick to the 60 percent debt limit, and they only adhered to the three percent deficit ceiling with the help of blatant balance sheet cosmetics. One time, gigantic military expenditures were left out, and another time billions in hospital debt. After recalculating the figures, the experts at Eurostat consistently came up with the same results: In truth, the deficit each year has been far greater than the three percent limit. In 2009, it exploded to over 12 percent.
Now, though, it looks like the Greek figure jugglers have been even more brazen than was previously thought. "Around 2002 in particular, various investment banks offered complex financial products with which governments could push part of their liabilities into the future," one insider recalled, adding that Mediterranean countries had snapped up such products.
Greece's debt managers agreed a huge deal with the savvy bankers of US investment bank Goldman Sachs at the start of 2002. The deal involved so-called cross-currency swaps in which government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period -- to be exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date.
Such transactions are part of normal government refinancing. [...]
But in the Greek case the US bankers devised a special kind of swap with fictional exchange rates. That enabled Greece to receive a far higher sum than the actual euro market value of 10 billion dollars or yen. In that way Goldman Sachs secretly arranged additional credit of up to $1 billion for the Greeks.
This is typical of Goldman Sachs' "financial innovation." They create financial transactions which have no economic value but serve to hide their clients' true financial situation from regulators, investors, and/or counterparties. Then they collect a huge fee and they're long gone by the time the whole thing blows up.
Read the whole thing and decide if "financial innovation" is a good thing or if we'd be better off tarring and feathering these bastards and running them out of town.
You didn't think it could be this bad in Congress, did you? See, the problem was; the Committee voted "no", and Murtha single-handedly pushed the bill through as a "yes" anyway. Democracy? Republic? That is neither. I'll leave it to you to decide what it is.
Or perhaps this video of Murtha negotiating a bribe is more appropriate at this time.
The Democratic nominee for Illinois lieutenant governor has dropped out of the race less than a week after winning the nomination amid a political uproar about his past.
Scott Lee Cohen announced his decision Sunday night at a Chicago bar.
The pawn broker and owner of a cleaning supplies company won the nomination Tuesday. Since then, it has become widely know that he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and holding a knife to the throat of an ex-girlfriend.
The girlfriend herself had been charged with prostitution. He also admits using steroids in the past.
Where's moveon.org when you need them?
And if you think that's bad, look at the one item on the list that's now financed largely by the consumer debt that the Dirty Fed loves to encourage: college tuition. 4,230% inflation!!!
Anyone who can look at this and still defend the existence of the Dirty Fed needs to have his head examined.
UPDATE: Skeptical CPA has an expanded list of items from that era with similar inflation.
The poor, on the other hand, are screwed. You can tax the crap out of them and it only makes them poorer and less able to get away from the taxes. Phoenix is going to implement a food tax. SF Muni is raising fares three times in a row. How many poor people in Phoenix can escape to a better place? How many Muni riders can really telecommute or buy, maintain, fuel, and park a car instead?
Europe had this figured out a long time ago. Instead of getting so much of their revenue from high marginal personal and corporate income taxes, they have VAT (sales) taxes that keep the poor poor and keep revenue rolling in to feed the government beast.
This just a couple years after going heavily Democratic as a repudiation of Bushism.
If the two major parties are paying attention, they should be aware that the huge, moderate/independent swing vote hates two things: 1) religious zealot social conservatives imposing their morals on others; and 2) tax, spend, and borrow leftists mortgaging our country's future.
It's a jump ball for the fiscal conservative, socially tolerant middle. So far, the Republicans are reaching for it. They are burying social issues and focusing 100% on the fiscal disaster. I recently attended a fundraiser that featured both a moderate Republican Congressman and a social con Republican Congressman. Both swore to a skeptical Republican audience that the social stuff was so far on the back burner that it wasn't even an issue. Democrats, not so much. They are doubling down on burying our children in debt.
A Room Full Of Mirrors
First Jimi Hendrix sang about one. Then Bruce Lee fought Mr. Han in one. Now President Obama lives in one!
According to this transcript of a radio discussion with people who have been inside the White House recently, the entire building has been virtually turned into A Room Full of Mirrors where the President sees his own face wherever he looks. Photos of Dear Leader are everywhere. The people's house has become the people's shrine to Obama. It's suggested that they might have even removed paintings of former presidents and replaced them with photos of Obama. Even the Oval Office is plastered with images of Obama, neck-problem and all.
I think the toughest task Obama faces in his life is tearing himself away from the mirror in the morning.
Still, I've got to give her credit for this ad, which uses silliness and hyperbole to expose Tom Campbell's fake "fiscal conservatism."
My one quibble is that it's a little weird that almost all of the "us" people in the ad are white. At 0:57, there are three consecutive shots of white people, then at 1:00 a shot of four white people and a token light-skinned black woman (Harry Reid was not available for comment as to whether she had a Negro dialect). No Hispanics or Asians in California? My guess is that the ad creators were thinking "Our target audience of fiscal conservatives means cranky old racist white guys. Let's show a lot of unhappy white people." Carly's a saleswoman, through and through. Whatever the marketing hacks tell her will sell, she'll push.
Chuck DeVore is the real fiscal conservative in the race, though he doesn't have the money Carly does, and he
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” said “every single human being” should bet U.S. Treasury bonds will decline, citing the policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and the Obama administration.
It’s “a no brainer” to sell short Treasuries, Taleb, a principal at Universa Investments LP in Santa Monica, California, said at a conference in Moscow today. “Every single human being should have that trade.”
Taleb said investors should bet on a rise in long-term U.S. Treasury yields, which move inversely to prices, as long as Bernanke and White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers are in office, without being more specific.
The Fed and U.S. agencies have lent, spent or guaranteed $9.66 trillion to lift the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. President Barack Obama has increased the U.S. marketable debt to a record $7.27 trillion as he tries to sustain the recovery from last year’s recession. Obama projects the U.S. budget deficit will rise to a record $1.6 trillion in the 2011 fiscal year.
The Special Olympics is disputing the White House claim that its chairman, Tim Shriver, accepted Rahm Emanuel's apology for calling liberals "retarded."
In case you missed it, Reuters pulled an article about new Obama initiatives to tax the middle class to death. After a little digging, we find that it was at the White House's request. Really? Like we weren't going to find out.
Anyway, for posterity's sake and because we don't take orders from White House rats, here is the article in its entirety. JDA encourages ALL bloggers, threats to the regime, sound money advocates, and patriots to repost it - Reuters may not have a pair but we certainly do.
Backdoor taxes to hit middle class
By Terri Cullen – Mon Feb 1, 4:09 pm ET
NEW YORK (Reuters.com) --The Obama administration's plan to cut more than $1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade relies heavily on so-called backdoor tax increases that will result in a bigger tax bill for middle-class families.
In the 2010 budget tabled by President Barack Obama on Monday, the White House wants to let billions of dollars in tax breaks expire by the end of the year -- effectively a tax hike by stealth.
While the administration is focusing its proposal on eliminating tax breaks for individuals who earn $250,000 a year or more, middle-class families will face a slew of these backdoor increases.
The targeted tax provisions were enacted under the Bush administration's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Among other things, the law lowered individual tax rates, slashed taxes on capital gains and dividends, and steadily scaled back the estate tax to zero in 2010.
If the provisions are allowed to expire on December 31, the top-tier personal income tax rate will rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. But lower-income families will pay more as well: the 25 percent tax bracket will revert back to 28 percent; the 28 percent bracket will increase to 31 percent; and the 33 percent bracket will increase to 36 percent. The special 10 percent bracket is eliminated.
Investors will pay more on their earnings next year as well, with the tax on dividends jumping to 39.6 percent from 15 percent and the capital-gains tax increasing to 20 percent from 15 percent. The estate tax is eliminated this year, but it will return in 2011 -- though there has been talk about reinstating the death tax sooner.
Millions of middle-class households already may be facing higher taxes in 2010 because Congress has failed to extend tax breaks that expired on January 1, most notably a "patch" that limited the impact of the alternative minimum tax. The AMT, initially designed to prevent the very rich from avoiding income taxes, was never indexed for inflation. Now the tax is affecting millions of middle-income households, but lawmakers have been reluctant to repeal it because it has become a key source of revenue.
Without annual legislation to renew the patch this year, the AMT could affect an estimated 25 million taxpayers with incomes as low as $33,750 (or $45,000 for joint filers). Even if the patch is extended to last year's levels, the tax will hit American families that can hardly be considered wealthy -- the AMT exemption for 2009 was $46,700 for singles and $70,950 for married couples filing jointly.
Middle-class families also will find fewer tax breaks available to them in 2010 if other popular tax provisions are allowed to expire. Among them:
* Taxpayers who itemize will lose the option to deduct state sales-tax payments instead of state and local income taxes;
* The $250 teacher tax credit for classroom supplies;
* The tax deduction for up to $4,000 of college tuition and expenses;
* Individuals who don't itemize will no longer be able to increase their standard deduction by up to $1,000 for property taxes paid;
* The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits are taxable, in 2009 that amount was tax-free.
Like I said, the middle class has been eliminated anyway so does this actually matter? What is our buddy OMG so afraid of?
Update: Reuters is defending itself. Hahahahahaha "fair and impartial" mainstream media my ass.
The latest index of economic freedom shows America falling fast, being ranked for the first time as "mostly free." We've fallen behind Canada, and it's look out below.
Our accelerating descent into a command-and-control economy with government pulling the strings is taking its toll.
The Heritage Foundation's 2010 index of leading economic indicators shows that the land of the free is only mostly free, falling to eighth in the world from sixth last year, now sandwiched between Canada and Denmark.
Ponder that before you decide to blow off your next local Tea Party.
A republic, if you can keep it.
Body Count goes to Vegas! Ernest Scherer III was a Vegas loser who fancied himself a professional poker player. Doesn't that photo t...
UPDATE: Edited to remove the guy's name. I hope nobody harasses him or his employer. He was good-natured and his sign was innocuous a...
Anybody else think horse paste might be worth a try?