Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greg’s Newsletter

Folks, I have been following the small country of Iceland. Why Iceland? Because they stood up to the international banking cartel and their government to claimed their sovereignty. This story hasn’t been in the U.S. press because if we did what they did, the international banksters would be going down the tubes, so our bankster’s influenced media will not report on what they have done.

I have presented a few links to give you an idea what Iceland has done to proclaim themselves as a sovereign people and not just assets to pump money into the international banking system.

This first article is a basic background of this global issue. (Click on the link at the bottom of this article for the original story of Iceland):

This article is telling what Iceland has done is beginning to go global, even though the media in several countries, including ours, are not reporting it:

This final article is the manifesto the people of Spain have put together to begin the process for their country:

We need to do similar things here in the USA to get out from under the control of the international banking system. As you see, Europe is beginning to follow Iceland’s lead.

One thing we do not need to do here is write a new Constitution which Iceland did. We just need to follow the one we have and have a common sense approach to the guidance of this precious document. Not what the high priced lawyers in Washington have bastardized it to the point of not making any sense for the intent of its articles.

It will be up to We the People because the current state of our political system is not working for you and me. The influence is so great buy this international financial system, we don’t get the truths so we can direct our own future, instead the goals are theirs.

A side note from me: Tea Parties, the most under and misreported group of citizens I have ever seen. Who are they? They are you and me who want our nation to get the government out of our lives and businesses, to put our country back to the prosperity we once knew. Before the national debt to the international banking cartel has taken us down and both political parties are at fault for participating and allowing it too happen.

Greg Goodwin

In order to create a global banking and economic system you must first destroy major parts of the existing one. Successful individual economies would not agree to a centralized global banking system, market system, monetary system, or economic system until a point where the current system is failing or has failed.   

Greg Goodwin

Debunking the Payroll Tax Cut Idea


Over the past 2 years, I’ve banged the drum for a payroll tax cut as a way to put more money into workers’ hands quickly and efficiently, arguing against most other forms of fiscal stimulus as too slow and unwieldy. Bruce Bartlett states the counter-case today in the New York Times:
First, the tax cut only helps those with jobs. While many have low wages and undoubtedly are spending all their additional cash flow, those with the greatest need and most likely to spend any additional income are the unemployed.
Second, the payroll tax cut helps many workers who have no need for it and will only pocket the tax savings.
Third, economic theory and the experience with tax rebates in 2001 and 2008 tell us that people are strongly inclined to save temporary increases in income. People only increase their spending when they perceive an increase in their permanent income.
Fourth, even if one assumes that the cost of employment has declined and employers can somehow  capture some of the payroll tax cut, there’s little sign that labor costs are the principal factor holding back hiring.
The main one is a lack of sales, as monthly surveys by the National Federation of Independent Business document. In the latest survey, 23 percent of businesses said poor sales were their No. 1 problem and only 4 percent cited the cost of labor.
Another issue is whether the Social Security tax is really a tax at all. A case can be made that it is really part of a worker’s compensation, rather than a reduction of it – because the workers generally get back all of their contributions, plus more, in the form of Social Security benefits in retirement. …
To the extent that workers perceive a linkage between the Social Security taxes they pay and the benefits they receive, the Social Security system reinforces work incentives rather than being a tax on work, as is commonly believed. If this is true, then workers may well view a cut in Social Security taxes as diminishing their future benefits, which may cause them to increase their saving rather than spend the additional cash flow.

Rick Perry’s Land Deals


Jim Geraghty replies to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s uncannily successful land dealings:
Last year the Democrat gubernatorial candidate in Texas, Bill White, tried to make an issue of it, and Texans largely yawned. Some of these deals go back to Perry’s time as Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the early 1990s. Fascinatingly, through six statewide general election races in addition to some brutal primary fights (even by Texas standards), none of Perry’s rivals have managed to get the accusations to stick or persuaded voters that anything corrupt occurred. Throughout the 1990s, the Texas Attorney General was Dan Morales, a Democrat, who would seemingly have no partisan reluctance about investigating a bribery accusation of a Republican state officeholder.
Perhaps it is voter cynicism. Perhaps the cacophony of negative attacks in Texas politics makes voters tune out or discount all charges.  Or perhaps, as Perry claims, he “did everything open and honest, at arm’s length” and there’s not enough there to justify charges, or even implicit suggestions, of corruption.
Some thoughts in reply:
1) This sequence of posts was inspired by the following remark of Jim’s in his indispensable Morning Jolt email:
Look, I have no idea whether Rick Perry is the kind of guy who would get confused if you invited him into the Oval Office and told him to sit in the corner. I do know that he’s been a C-130 pilot, has made a fortune in real estate, and has been elected governor of Texas three times.
People have been talking for years about Perry’s land dealings, but this was the first time I’d ever seen them cited as an affirmative credential rather than a troubling question mark.
2) I do not suggest that Perry’s deals are corrupt. As Jim says, “corruption” is a term with a legal meaning: an official takes money in exchange for a political favor. Nobody has ever shown Gov. Perry to have performed any favors for those with whom he has done profitable land business. Nobody has advanced evidence that any law has been broken.
3) At the same time, it’s asking a lot of the voters to believe that Gov. Perry scored these successes by acumen alone. The coincidences just pile up too thick.
So what?
Rick Perry is not the first politician to emerge from public life a lot richer than he started.
If he was offered access to sweetheart deals, again, he’s not the first to accept: remember Hillary Clinton and her cattle futures?
Many governors would regard active land investment as inconsistent with their public duties, even absent insider information and sweetheart deals. Haley Barbour of Mississippi put his wealth into a blind trust when he became governor. Mitt Romney not only put his assets into a blind trust during his governorship – but then forbade his trust to invest in Massachusetts municipal bonds, to avert any appearance of impropriety.
And no, it’s not just a Texas thing: George W. Bush put his assets in a blind trust when he became governor in 1994.
There’s more going on here than an issue of appearance of impropriety. There’s also a question about where a politician invests his time and energy. Successful real estate investing is difficult and time-consuming. Rick Perry may claim that his investments did not benefit from insider information and special favors, and as Jim notes, Texas voters have accepted his story sufficiently to elect and re-elect him. But Perry obviously cannot claim to have been 100% focused on Texas business during his many years in office.
At a minimum, the attempt to reinvent Perry’s business career as a rebuttal to negative allegations about Perry’s brainpower is … let’s say … ill-advised. Perry’s real-estate fortune is one of those subjects about which you’d expect Perry supporters to take the view: the less said, the better.

MLK: An American Christian


Like most Americans, I want the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to be great. I want it to be an awe-inspiring monument to greatness and an eternal reminder of the promise of America — a promise that King helped make real for millions of African Americans and people of color.
But alas, after visiting the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial yesterday, I am afraid that Noah Kristula-Green is mostly right. Despite some impressive conceptual underpinnings and sculptural success, the new memorial is, ultimately, unsatisfactory — and unbecoming of the man and the Civil Rights Movement that King inspired and led.
Noah is disturbed by the massive sculpture of King, which, he says, bears an eerie resemblance to other pieces of Communist Socialist Realism. As Charles Krauthammer observes, this “flat, rigid, socialist realist King does not do justice to the supremely nuanced, creative humane soul of its subject.”
That’s true. Still, I found the sculpture of King to be perhaps the most impressive or least offensive aspect of the memorial.
True, King looks stern and intimidating — more stern and intimidating than this warm and reflective apostle of non-violence looked like in real life. But at least there’s a formidability to the sculpture. There’s a sense, both literally and figuratively, that King is larger than life. He towers above us because he is, in a real and fundamental sense, better than us.
This is a refreshing return to artistic tradition and a change in approach taken by most national memorials of recent vintage.
For example, the Lincoln Memorial, which was dedicated in 1922, elevates Lincoln to the status of an American political saint, which he was. Thus when entering the Lincoln Memorial, you feel almost as if you are entering a church or a temple. There’s a sense of solemnity and solitude that is awe-inspiring.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, by contrast, was dedicated in 1997. This newer and more modern memorial thus downsizes FDR — literally and figuratively — into one of us.
We see FDR, then, at eye level, and without his trademark cigarette holder, which is now politically incorrect. The idea that this four-term president, who led America through the Great Depression and World War II, might somehow be special, distinct and extraordinary is purposely denied.
No such mistake can be made when looking at the towering sculpture of King, which is impressive and noteworthy, though lacking perhaps in overall grace and majesty.
And, conceptually at least, the sculpture is fitting. King is looking forward, across the Tidal Basin, toward the Jefferson Memorial, which is clear and visible, though distant. The implication is clear: King is looking forward to the promised land — to that one day in which:
this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
Those, of course, are the words of the Declaration of Independence, which was written by Thomas Jefferson.
So it is entirely appropriate that, in his new memorial, King has his eyes on Jefferson: Because in truth, Jefferson — and the American political creed that Jefferson helped write — was a guiding inspiration behind King and the Civil Rights Movement.
Similarly, behind King lies the sculpture of a mountain, which serves as the memorial’s entrance. And, on the left side of the King sculpture is inscribed: “Out of the mountain of despair, a Stone of Hope.”
This line comes from King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. But what is conspicuously missing from the inscribed quote is King’s purposeful reference to faith, by which King means both his political and Christian faiths. Here, in fact, is the full King quote:
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
These are beautiful and moving lines. And in fact, King’s entire “I Have a Dream” speech is filled with memorable and poetic verse.
But unfortunately, as Krauthammer points out, most of the quotes inscribed in the new King memorial are decidedly unmemorable and some are actually banal. You simply cannot separate King and the Civil Rights Movement from their uniquely Judeo-Christian American inspiration without losing much of their awe-inspiring majesty.
Yet, this seems to me to be exactly what the memorial builders have tried to do: They’ve tried to rewrite history to portray King not as the uniquely Christian American leader that he was, but rather as a world leader who espoused United Nations-like pap about universal man-made rights.
Here, for instance, is one of the 14 King quotes inscribed into the memorial:
Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.
King may have said this, but this is hardly the type of sentiment that makes King stand out in the American pantheon, and for which he will be remembered by his fellow Americans. It is hardly the type of idea that made the Civil Rights Movement such a stunning and remarkable success.
In fact, quite the opposite: King and the Civil Rights Movement succeeded precisely because they appealed to the American political creed as articulated by Jefferson and the founding fathers.
Now, it is true that the American political creed speaks to all peoples everywhere; it is universal in its reach and application. Nonetheless, it is uniquely American in its origins; and King petitioned Americans upon the basis of that creed. He appealed to our national civic or political religion.
Equally offensive and wrong, the new memorial gives pride of place to King’s left-wing economic views and his opposition to the Vietnam War. There, are for instance, these two quotes:
I oppose the Vietnam War because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.
It is true, of course, that, in his latter life — after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and before his assassination on April 4, 1968 — King was moving leftward politically. He was becoming more anti-war and more committed to the economic redistribution of wealth.
But again, this is hardly what made King an important and historical figure. This is hardly what history will remember about the man and the Civil Rights Movement. It is hardly what resonates now, let alone 100 years from now.
So why inscribe these banal and unmemorable quotes into the King memorial? Why introduce politically divisive comments that will divide Americans and, which, I would argue, run counter to the American political and economic traditions?
The answer is obvious: Because the King memorial is as much an act of politics as it is a work of history. It was designed, I regret to say, to promote a certain secular, left-wing worldview. This political lesson, fortunately, is not pushed on us in a tendentious and heavy-handed manner, but it is there nonetheless.
And so, what is missing is any of King’s distinguishing Christianity and Americanness. Indeed, there’s no real sense that King was not simply a great man, but a great American and a great Christian. (And yes, King was a great Christian. Whatever his private failings, his public Christianity was rich, memorable and wonderfully inclusive.)
There’s no sense that King drank deeply from the America political tradition; and that he helped to develop, foster and promote that tradition. One hopes that, in time perhaps, this shameful and lamentable oversight can be remedied through additions to the memorial grounds.
What is needed is an explicit acknowledgement and recognition of King’s Christianity and of the American political creed. These underlie and undergird our history. And you simply cannot understand King and the Civil Rights Movement unless and until you understand how and why they captured the American imagination.

Democrats Propose Toothless Balanced Budget Amendment


One of the terms of the recent debt ceiling deal between Congress and the White House was that Congress would vote on, but not necessarily pass, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. The deal did not, however, specify the language in the amendment, giving legislators plenty of opportunities to sneak in loopholes that might very well render any amendment that does pass meaningless.
One Senator, in fact, is doing just that. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has proposed an amendment with more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese — “the worst idea of them all,” according to Colin Hanna, president of the Pennsylvania public-policy organization Let Freedom Ring. While Udall’s amendment does require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, it also provides Congress with several ways to skirt the same requirement for the budget it passes.

For instance, if 60 percent of both houses of Congress votes to override the balanced budget requirement for the current fiscal year, it’s a goner. (Hanna notes that this “effectively applies only to the House, since the Senate typically requires 60% for nearly everything already.”) Even if both houses were evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, it wouldn’t take much logrolling to get slightly more than half the members of each house to vote to spend in the manner to which they have become accustomed. And woe to those holdouts who don’t want to shell out for, say, disaster relief, argues blogger Randall Smith: “You think the rhetoric around the debt ceiling was bad? Every time someone wants new deficit spending, they’re going to be all up in the news yelling about how members of the opposition are ‘terrorists’ because they won’t let Congress spend.”

Congressmen and Senators who might be wary of going on the record in favor of deficit spending by voting to suspend the balanced budget requirement will find an even more insidious means of escape in Udall’s amendment. The amendment states that the budget need not be balanced “during any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect or in which the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.”

“That gives Congress the perverse inventive [sic] to ensure that the United States is engaged is [sic] a military conflict somewhere to ensure that they can spend whatever they want,” Smith observes.

Then again, Congress hardly needs much prodding to vote for foreign intervention, as Hanna makes clear with his rhetorical question: “In how many of the last twenty years or so would that loophole have not applied?” Moreover, he maintains, the military-conflict loophole also makes a mockery of the supermajority requirement for a balanced budget override since “some kind of vague resolution supporting a military action would need only a simple majority of both houses to pass.”

The amendment moves Social Security, one of the biggest budget busters, off-budget and protects it in perpetuity. Only a politician could so brazenly attempt this kind of sleight-of-hand. Try applying for a bank loan while arguing that the payments on your new Mercedes — the one you can’t afford on your current salary — shouldn’t count against you because you’ve declared them “off-budget.” Furthermore, try telling the loan officer that regardless of the bank’s concerns over your finances, there is no chance that you’re going to sell the car, no matter how impossible it is for you to afford: “Once Social Security is enshrined in the Constitution, there’s no way to eliminate or replace it,” avers Smith.

This being a Democrat proposal, it wouldn’t be complete without a little class warfare, and Udall doesn’t disappoint. Under his amendment, Hanna writes, “Congress would not be allowed to provide any tax loopholes or reductions to people earning over $1 million a year unless the federal budget was in surplus.” That pretty much rules out tax cuts for the very wealthy for good. However, as Smith reminds us, $1 million ain’t what it used to be; and with the Federal Reserve continually printing money to keep Uncle Sam afloat, it may not be long before $1 million is pocket change (see 1923 Germany or 2008 Zimbabwe), at which point no one will be eligible for a tax cut.

In short, Udall’s proposed Balanced Budget Amendment is a sham — but one likely to be supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and “a cohort of Democrats who are in tough fights for re-election in 2012,” Hanna says. “For political reasons, they want to be able to say they support a balanced budget amendment, but they don’t really want their hands tied when it comes to future spending. It is a cynical political ploy to provide political cover, not a genuine attempt to restrain overspending and impose fiscal discipline.”

This is not to say that Republican proposals will turn out to be any better or, should they be added to the Constitution, any more effective at restraining spending. As Chip Wood points out, a Jimmy Carter-era law already demands that the budget be balanced, yet that statute “has never been obeyed.” “If the big spenders in Washington won’t obey this law,” Wood asks, “what makes you think they’ll obey another one that says essentially the same thing?”

The only solution to federal overspending — other than simply waiting for the inevitable but extremely painful day of reckoning — is for voters to “come to understand that it is our responsibility to make certain our Representatives honor their oath of office and keep their actions constrained within the scope and bounds established by the Constitution,” in the words of Scott N. Bradley. “If Congressmen were simply to honor their oaths of office to abide by the Constitution,” he explains, “the deficit problem would take care of itself.”

The Balanced Budget Amendment is but one of the many empty promises of future spending reductions comprising the debt ceiling deal. Like all the others, its purpose is to distract voters’ attention from the fact that Congress just allowed the nation to go trillions of dollars further into debt without even the slightest attempt to enact immediate and significant spending cuts. Let’s hope voters keep their eyes on the main event — forcing elected leaders to abide by the Constitution and seriously reduce outlays — not the sideshow.

Shakeup Linked to ATF "Fast and Furious" Scandal


Two federal officials have been reassigned and a third has resigned in the wake of controversy over "Operation Fast and Furious," the controversial sting that is also known as the "Gunwalking Scandal." Kenneth Melson (pictured at left), acting director for the past 28 months of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, will become senior advisor on forensic science in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Programs, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tuesday. U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke, who approved the flawed operation that allowed weapons to be delivered to drug gangs, submitted his resignation to President Obama effective immediately. Emory Hurley, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix who worked on the Fast and Furious investigation, has been reassigned from criminal cases to civil casework.
The reassignments appear to be an ongoing shakeup at ATF, where two assistant Special Agents in Charge of the operation, George Gillett and Jim Needles have previously been reassigned to other positions, CBS News reported.
"Fast and Furious" was reportedly designed to gather intelligence on gun sales as ATF agents observed sales of thousands of high-caliber weapons to alleged middlemen for drug cartels operating on both sides of the Mexican border. The guns were supposed to lead agents to the drug gangs, but at least 2,000 of the weapons were never accounted for, while others were recovered at a dozen crime scenes in the United States and undetermined number in Mexico. Two were found at the site where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout near the Mexican border in December of last year.
The operation has become the subject of hearings in Congress, where ATF agents testified in committee that they had been repeatedly told to "stand down" when they wanted to intercept the weapons. Earlier this month, there was still more controversy over reports that three of the supervisors of the operation had been promoted to management positions at the bureau's headquarters in Washington. William McMahon, the agency's Deputy Director of Operations in the West at the time of the ill-fated sting operation, became Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility. William Newell, special agent in charge of field office for Arizona and New Mexico, was reassigned as Special Assistant to the Assistant Director of the agency's Office of Management. David Roth, who was an on-the-ground team supervisor of the sting operation, went to Washington as Branch Chief for the ATF's tobacco division. The moves brought sharp criticisms from congressional critics of ATF and of "Fast and Furious" in particular.   
"Until Attorney General Holder and Justice Department officials come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme, it is inconceivable to reward those who spearheaded this disastrous operation with cushy desks in Washington," said Senator John Cornyn (R- Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee.
ATF spokesman Scot Thomasson denied the moves were promotions, saying the men were "laterally transferred" from operational duties into administrative roles. "These transfers/reassignments have never been described as promotions in any of the documents announcing them," Thomasson said at the time.
Acting Director Melson will be replaced by U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Todd Jones, who will continue in his present job while he runs ATF, Attorney General Holder announced Tuesday.
"As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position," Holder said. Burke, who was chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she was Governor of Arizona, said in a memo to his staff at the U.S. Attorney's office that it is time for him to move on. "My long tenure in public service has been intensely gratifying. It has also been intensely demanding. For me, it is the right time to move on to pursue other aspects of my career and my life and allow the office to move ahead," he wrote.
A senior Justice Department official said Holder had lost confidence in both men and decided that ATF needed "a fresh start," NBC reported
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, welcomed the changes announced Tuesday, but said the committee's investigation of the gunwalking operation would continue. "While the reckless disregard for safety that took place in Operation Fast and Furious certainly merits changes within the Department of Justice, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue its investigation to ensure that blame isn't offloaded on just a few individuals for a matter that involved much higher levels of the Justice Department," Issa said.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, called for a full accounting from the Justice Department as to "who knew what and when, so we can be sure that this ill-advised strategy never happens again."

Obama Jobs Plan Preempts GOP Debate

President Obama will roll out his new jobs plan before a joint session of Congress -- right in the middle of a Republican candidates' debate. "It is coincidental," White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the speech, will be take place as Obama's potential challengers gather at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
UPDATE: Ron Paul, as one of two sitting House members invited to the debate, may object.

The Huntsman Tax Plan

Some details of Jon Huntsman's tax reform proposal are starting to emerge. Huntsman would eliminate the alternative minimum tax, as well as taxes on capital gains and dividends. He'd scrap the existing personal tax code and replace it with three lower rates: 8 percent, 14 percent, and 23 percent He would zero out all loopholes, credits, and deductions, though I am awaiting confirmation on mortgage interest and charitable giving.
Huntsman would reduce the marginal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, one point lower than the OECD average. Reuters' Jim Pethokoukis is a believer: "The Hunstman tax plan is -- easily -- the most pro-growth proposal ever offered by a US presidential candidate."
UPDATE: It's been confirmed that all the deductions would go, according to this plan.

Huntsman’s Great (Pre-Recession) Jobs Record


Jon Huntsman has unveiled his jobs plan and it is accompanied by an impressive web video touting Huntsman’s success in job creation. The video argues that Huntsman not only has a good jobs plan, but that his record as governor is also worth running on. The video says that Utah is the “#1 State in Job Creation”.
But wait! I thought it was Rick Perry who had the best job creation talking point? What happened to the idea that the place to find job creation was in Rick Perry’s “Texas Miracle”?

The key to understanding the quote is the source. It comes from a National Review blog post by Katrina Trinko from June of 2011 which compared the job creation record of different GOP governors over time. Here is why Huntsman does well:
Among the crowd who governed primarily during the 2000s, Huntsman has the best record. During his 2005 to 2009 tenure as governor of Utah, the number of jobs grew by 5.9 percent.
Trinko acknowledges up front that there are a lot of problems with using this method to measure job creation. The candidate who has the absolute best record under this system is actually Gary Johnson, but he governed New Mexico during the boom years of the 1990’s.
So she also looked at job creation achieved by governors over the same period of time, to try and be a bit more fair:
During Huntsman’s tenure, January 2005 to August 2009, Utah had the best overall job-growth rate of any state in the nation [5.9%]. In that same time frame, Perry’s job-growth rate was 4.9 percent. Pawlenty’s job-growth rate was negative: The number of jobs in Minnesota decreased by 1.8 percent.
Its still a good number and nothing to be bashful about, but it is also clear that it is a number that from his work before the recession.
So an important reality check on Huntsman’s new talking point might be: “#1 State in Job Creation before the recession really hit.”

Crony Capitalist Scheme Declaring Bankruptcy Today

Ed Lasky

NBC is reporting on yet another green scheme going belly-up and this one is a big one. Scott McGrew reports:
Solyndra, a major manufacturer of solar technology in Fremont, has shut its doors, according to employees at the campus. 
"I was told by a security guard to get my [stuff] and leave," one employee said. The company employs a little more than 1,000 employees worldwide, according to its website.
Solyndra was touted by the Obama administration as a prime example of how green technology could deliver jobs. The President visited the facility in May of last year and said  "it is just a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world. And you guys all represent that. "
The federal government offered $535 million in low cost loan guarantees from the Department of Energy. NBC Bay Area has contacted the White House asking for a statement.
The company has announced just a short while ago it is declaring bankruptcy.
I have written numerous times that Solyndra is a prime example of the foolish green schemes Barack Obama and his team have been promoting across America.  Sadly, this promotion has been more than just Obama-like airy platitudes about moon shots and being world leaders. The taxpayers are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars that Obama extended as loan guarantees. The handwriting was on the wall even before Obama handed our money over as the firm's own accountants warned that the company was in dire financial straits and was unlikely to continue as a "going concern."
Solyndra  had as an investor a big bundler for Barack Obama -- Oklahoma  billionaire George Kaiser. I warned last year that the sun was setting on these solar green schemes:
Solyndra is (and maybe will soon be "was") a green company that was showered with 535 million dollars of Department of Energy loan guarantees last year (the first such guarantee the Department had issued in years). Steven Chu, Obama's handpicked energy guru (with zero experience in the real world), could not wait to send the dollars flowing, issuing the guarantee before he even hit the three month mark as Cabinet Secretary. He hailed it, as did Joe Biden, as a miracle in the making. Barack Obama toured the factory and hailed it as "leading the way towards a brighter and more prosperous future"
How is that working out?
Solyndra canceled an initial public offering because its auditor said its operating losses and negative cash flow raised doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.
Well maybe it was prosperous for executives and suppliers but not for the company and certainly not for the taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.
One of the biggest investors in the company was Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser - a big bundler for the Obama-Biden campaign. Not to worry for Mr. Kaiser. The administration is looking to extend hundreds of millions of dollars in additional loans (our money) to the venture. Needless to say, where is the major media that was so busy reporting on the Bridge to Nowhere (and that has also been conspicuously silent in the billions of dollars Robert Byrd sent to West Virginia to raise monuments to himself). Throwing good money after bad doesn't really matter when the money is Other People's Money and you are providing a return on investment for
The landscape will be littered with failed solar farms, giant windmill plantations, shuttered ethanol plants. All will costs us billions and billions. All will stand as evidence of the bankruptcy of not just the companies involved but of Barack Obama's crony capitalism and  delusional visions.
The scary part: he is not done either. He does not fold his hand, he doubles down. Watch the touting of green jobs in his labor plans to be announced next week.
Update: The tale gets murkier and murkier by the minute.
The Washington Post reported that Solyndra was granted the loan guarantee despitegovernment auditors questioning the viability of Solyndra.
Furthermore, the protocols that were supposed to be followed before loan guarantees would be granted were ignored by the Department of Energy.  These guidelines and filters are put in place to protect taxpayers. They were waived by the Obama team. One Republican skeptic, Representative Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Energy and Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said he was "concerned that there was a hurry to get this money out of the door and that companies and individuals that supported the president were among the beneficiaries.'' Many companies sought such help-only some met the tests. Why were the normal rules waived for a Democratic bundler's pet green scheme? Experts outside the government also warned that Solyndra was a disaster waiting to happen.
Republicans have been eager to explore how this loan guarantee -- and others made to companies connected to Obama donors -- were extended. The response from the administration has been stonewalling the request with administration Democrats allies decrying these inquiries as "fishing expeditions."
The American people have been taken to the cleaners. And , the administration is proud to declare they will not be stopped and that the loan guarantees, grants, and other taxpayer help will continue to flow. A spokesman  for the Department of Energy blithely states: "While not every company will succeed in this competitive industry, we believe that solar generation and manufacturing play a vital role in helping America win the clean energy race.
The giveaways will go on and on until someone stops this thievery.

GE gives tech secrets to Chinese government

by mikeparanzino
Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, was responsible a number of years ago for one of the great quotations of recent decades, so I do not criticize him or GE lightly. He said: “More people will graduate in the United States in 2006 with sports-exercise degrees than electrical-engineering degrees. So, if we want to be the massage capital of the world, we’re well on our way.”

His willingness to take on the University Industrial Complex for the costly and useless degrees they hand out – while not sparing young Americans’ complacency as our nation’s leading position in the world erodes – was courageous and much-needed. Unfortunately, it was noted by Newsweak magazine and Fareed Zakaria, so no one has ever heard the line. [I'm breaking my only-link-to-Newsweak-for-Kaus-and-Will rule because the Immelt line is so good.]

But with President Barack Obama making Immelt the willing front man for Obama’s latest head-fake on jobs and the economy, and ultimately his re-election campaign, Immelt has cast GE into the spotlight and sorry, Mr. Immelt, the spotlight is incandescent, not compact fluorescent, so Americans will actually be able to see the truth about your company. It ain’t pretty.

Let’s start with jobs. The media, of course, took the bait surrounding Immelt’s new position at the helm of Obama’s “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” The Christian Science Monitor, to take one example, embraced the White House spin in its headline: “Obama launches new push for US jobs, tapping GE’s Immelt to help.”

But tapping GE’s top honcho to generate jobs for Americans is like the old saw about the guy who loses money on each item he sells but intends to make it up in sales volume. Newsflash for the Lamestream Media: GE has been shedding US jobs under CEO Immelt, while adding jobs overseas, notably in China.

In 2001, the year Immelt became CEO, GE had 158,000 US employees. In 2009, GE employed just 134,000 Americans. Under Obama’s guy Immelt, GE has shed 24,000 American workers, or 15% of its US workforce.

Abroad it’s a different story. In 2001, GE employed 152,000 workers abroad. In 2009, that number had edged up to 154,000. GE’s non-US workforce now exceeds its American workers. [I have heard that this trend continued in 2010 but could not find an authoritative figure by press time.]

Speaking at GE this past week, Obama said he intends, with Immelt’s help, to increase US exports. Let’s hope he was not talking about GE’s record exporting US jobs.

Where GE does clearly excel is getting the federal government to give taxpayer dollars to GE. The stimulus bill was loaded with programs for GE, and of course GE and GE Capital tapped tens of billions in bailout funds. And when they are not taking direct cash handouts from US taxpayers, GE lobbies for programs to make it billions more.

Obamacare includes mandates that are expected to make GE billions in electronic medical records and other areas. And GE even lobbied in support of the (sadly bipartisan) 2007 law that will ban the inexpensive, sometimes US-made, bright incandescent light bulb by 2014, in favor of mercury-containing, expensive, foreign-made, dim compact fluorescents. GE recently shut its last US-based light bulb factory, in Virginia, as Chinese plants churn out almost the entire supply of mercury-laced CFCs. (By the way, Speaker Boehner, it’s late January: why hasn’t the House yet passed a repeal of the “efficiency standards” that effectively ban incandescents? Call it the No Mercury for our Kids Act.)

So GE exports US jobs and aggressively sucks at the taxpayer teat. How’s it doing on our economic and national security? Not so good. GE recently inked a deal with a Chinese government-owned aviation company that will transfer advanced GE knowhow to the Chinese communist party and Chinese military – yes, the folks with nukes pointed at our cities. As the NY Times reports it:

G.E., in the partnership with a state-owned Chinese company, will be sharing its most sophisticated airplane electronics, including some of the same technology used in Boeing’s new state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner.
… But doing business in China often requires Western multinationals like G.E. to share technology and trade secrets that might eventually enable Chinese companies to beat them at their own game — by making the same products cheaper, if not better.
The other risk is that Western technologies could help China play catch-up in military aviation — a concern underscored last week when the Chinese military demonstrated a prototype of its version of the Pentagon’s stealth fighter, even though the plane could be a decade away from production.

In fact, the corporate competition for contracts on the C919 became a “frenzy,” said Mark Howes, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific. The Chinese government, he said, had made it clear to Western companies that they should be “willing to share technology and know-how.”
But the G.E. avionics joint venture, analysts say, appears to be the deepest relationship yet and involves sharing the most confidential technology. And G.E.’s partner, Avic, also supplies China’s military aircraft and weapons systems.

This is not just GE creating a future national security threat by handing advanced dual-use (civilian and military) technology to a dictatorship (Senator Reid was right on that one, bless his heart) with a soaring defense budget. GE is also eating its seed corn to goose profits today. As the Times put it:

The real concern lies further head, according to a study of China’s strategy included in a report published in November by a bipartisan Congressional advisory group, the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The group concluded that China’s huge state subsidies for its own industry, its requirements that foreign companies provide technology and know-how to gain access to the Chinese market, along with the close ties between its commercial and military aviation sectors all raise concerns and “bear watching.”
The big aviation equipment makers say that, by now, they are experienced at grappling with matters of technology transfer in China. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Kent L. Statler, an executive vice president for commercial aviation at Rockwell Collins, observes that his employees often ask whether the company is trading its future for immediate sales in China.

So GE is just a typical company putting short-term profits ahead of longer-term interests of itself or our country. That’s what companies do, right? That’s what GE does, except in one area. In its ownership of NBC and MSNBC, GE has consistently walked away from profits to maintain the liberal bias in its news division. In this one area alone, GE has left hundreds of millions of dollars in profits on the table over the years by keeping its news reporting slanted Left even as Americans grew more conservative and even after Fox News showed how a network devoid of liberal bias can dominate the ratings. Imagine if NBC News had ever eliminated its liberal bias. It would enjoy mammoth ratings (and bigger profits) today. But GE ignored those potential profits. Handing sensitive aviation technology to the Chinese communists for a quick buck? Sure. Eliminating liberal bias to increase profits? GE has always said no thanks. It took Comcast buying control of MSNBC just to get Keith Olbermann fired!

All of this is a reminder why it is folly to merge in one’s mind the interests of the American people with that of corporations, or labor unions, for that matter. Always look to the fiduciary duty to sort these issues out. A corporation’s duty is to its current shareholders, to maximize their profits. Their duty is NOT to America. A union’s duty is similarly to maximize its members’ wealth, NOT to help customers or make money for shareholders or to help America. It is the government’s role to protect America’s vital interests. Unfortunately, too many of our politicians believe their role is to protect favored corporations, or to protect the politicians’ own jobs. This is why our country is in so much trouble.

GE exports jobs, lobbies very well for direct taxpayer handouts and laws and regulations to further enrich itself at Americans’ expense, hands over its advanced technology to our adversaries for short term profits but to the nation’s and the company’s future peril, while protecting liberal media bias at all costs.
Your feedback is always welcome.
Thank you!

The Bloody Aftermath of NATO’s Libya War


While the truth about what is going on in Libya remains concealed behind a web of lies from both sides, Gaddafi’s forces are still fighting as analysts discuss the future of the nation following “regime change.” Based on available information, it doesn’t look bright. Talk of protracted civil war, genocide, violent retaliation, plundering, and deepening chaos is well underway as the bodies of Libyans continue to pile up. Thousands of civilians have already died — some killed by NATO air strikes and Western-backed rebels, others by the Gaddafi regime and its supporters.
And analysts expect the bloodshed and violence to continue for the foreseeable future. A spokesman for the regime said earlier this week that Gaddafi’s forces were able to fight on “for years.” Contingency measures and “alternative plans” have been made, he explained, to ensure that the battle for Tripoli will rage on indefinitely.
Meanwhile, NATO boss Anders Rasmussen said the military alliance would fight for as long as necessary. “I’m not going to guess about any time frame,” he said during an interview with the Russian RT news agency. “We are prepared to stay committed as long as it takes to fully implement the UN mandate.”

An unidentified military official cited by the New York Times this week said Western “commandos” were already on the ground offering “fairly extensive” help to the rebels. And calls for even more NATO “boots on the ground” continue to grow as the prospect of “nation building” looms.

A leaked document obtained by a British newspaper actually outlines NATO and rebel plans for a post-Gaddafi Libya. According to the document, confirmed as authentic by the Western-backed rebel National Transitional Council, mass arrests of Gaddafi supporters conducted by a foreign-controlled “task force” will begin if and when the dust settles.

The plans reportedly factor in lessons learned from the bloody aftermath of “regime change” in Iraq. Measures to deal with a “hostile fifth column” and different rebel factions, for example, have been taken into account.

Among the most concerning elements of the scheme: The new regime will keep large swaths of the Libyan dictatorial “security” apparatus intact. Many of Gaddafi’s former henchmen will even be allowed to maintain their positions provided they swear allegiance to the new regime.

The outline also states that the new rulers’ propaganda will immediately flood the nation through radio stations and other media. Citizens would reportedly be informed that their new government was firmly in control and that they should remain calm.

As The New American reported on August 26, a draft Constitution for Libya based on Sharia law, created with Western assistance, is ready to be imposed on the nation. “Islam is the religion of the state and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence,” states the proposed new Constitution.

Even after the rebel regime is entrenched, however, outside intervention will be far from over. The U.S. government, European powers, the Chinese regime, Egypt, Russia, and countless other authorities — sometimes through the United Nations and a range of supranational institutions — will then begin the next phase of regime change and nation building.

Other influences will be vying for power, too. “The outside actors seeking to take advantage of Libya’s fault lines do not necessarily need to be nation-states,” noted Scott Stewart in a report for the private intelligence firm Stratfor. “It is clear that jihadist groups such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb see the tumult in Libya as a huge opportunity.”

In fact, countless reports already indicate that huge stockpiles of advanced military weapons are ending up in the hands of Islamic extremists, many of whom played a key role in the rebellion from the start. And that is causing serious problems as the weaponry — missiles, machine guns, and possibly even chemical weapons — begins to circulate around the world.

Even in Libya, however, the flood of armaments could lead to more trouble. “Between the seizure of former Gadhafi arms depots and the arms provided to the rebels by outside powers, Libya is awash with weapons,” Stratfor noted in its report. “If the NTC fractures like past rebel coalitions, it could set the stage for a long and bloody civil war — and provide an excellent opportunity to jihadist elements.”

On the other hand, the new Libyan regime could — and likely will — seek to disarm the population, as many “experts” are advocating. But according to some analysts, that could easily lead to more tyranny and bloodshed, potentially worse than what was experienced under Gaddafi’s dictatorship. Evidence of widespread brutality by the NATO-backed rebels continues to surface almost daily.

If captured alive, Gaddafi and his main minions will almost certainly face war crimes trials at the International Criminal Court — thereby further legitimizing the institution. But similar crimes by NATO and its proxies on the ground will almost certainly go unpunished, creating an atmosphere of impunity that could contribute to further atrocities.

While the new government will retain large segments of Gaddafi’s regime in place, some important changes have already been made. As The New American reported in March, in the first weeks of NATO intervention the rebels had already announced the creation of a new central bank to replace the existing state-owned monetary authority. A new oil regime was also put in place.

Perhaps even more troubling for the U.S. than growing chaos in Libya, however, is the precedent established by Obama’s unilateral decision to use military force without even consulting Congress. If the decision remains unchallenged, analysts expect many more undeclared wars in the coming years, withSyria, Iran and a host of other nations already in the crosshairs.

“The current situation in Libya may be a short term victory for Empire, but it is a loss for our American Republic,” explained GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in an August 25 statement, noting that Libya’s future looked bleak as well. “We have spent over $1 billion on a war that this administration has fought not with the consent of Congress but under a NATO flag and authorization from the United Nations.”

Congressman Paul, like Obama before being elected, noted that the President is bound by the Constitution to seek authority from Congress before engaging in military action. “And so, our government continues to spend trillions of dollars in overseas foreign wars while we face unsustainable debt, a looming dollar crisis, and our Constitution seems to lose any meaning,” he noted. “These actions will sink our country if we do not reverse course.”

Incredibly, as The New American reported months ago, U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed that a high-level American delegation to Libya in 2009 was swooning over the Gaddafi regime. U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman called the dictatorship “an important ally in the war on terrorism,” while Sen. John McCain assured the regime that the U.S. government wanted to supply Gaddafi with military equipment.

America’s foreign policy of variously backing dictators and terror groups before turning against them has left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. But despite being in violation of the Constitution, re-thinking it appears to be off the table for now.

Instead, as Libya spirals out of control and the death-toll mounts around the world from Iraq to Afghanistan, the prospect of even more war grows larger every day. And if current trends continue, critics say disaster will be the inevitable result.