Archive for January 2009

Afghanistan Surge

January 27, 2009

Biden warns of higher US death toll Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden says the nation should expect more U.S. military casualties as the Obama administration plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials say they plan to send up to 30,000 additional troops to the Afghan war, where the Taliban is resurgent and violence has been on the rise. The request for more troops from military commanders was endorsed by the Bush administration and has been favored by the Obama government, too.

Biden said Sunday that additional U.S. forces will be engaging the enemy more. Asked if that means the U.S. public should expect more American casualties, the vice president said: “I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”

Biden spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090125/ap_on_go_pr_wh/biden_afghanistan_1

It will be interesting to watch all the liberals who so loudly criticized George W. Bush’s “troop surge” in Iraq defending and applauding Obama’s “troop surge” in Afghanistan.

“Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss…”

Obamanomics Again

January 27, 2009

Obama Economic Adviser Predicts Relief Within Weeks of Stimulus Passage

Measures to save law enforcement and teaching jobs will help cities see changes rapidly while withholding changes on paychecks could come “within weeks” of passage of an economic stimulus plan now being considered by Congress, one of President Obama’s top advisers said Sunday.

National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers said despite the fact the U.S. economy’s problems took months or years to create — and it may take just as long to solve them — immediate stimulus could come with hundreds of billions of dollars in government spending and tax cuts. 

Congress is working on an $825 billion package — the largest that would ever be enacted by the U.S. Legislature. Obama is scheduled to meet with Republicans this week to go over details of the plan. He met with a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers at the White House on Friday.

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On the other hand…

Democrats: Stimulus plan no quick fix for economy

The White House warned Sunday that the country could face a long and painful financial recovery, even with major government intervention to stimulate the economy and save financial institutions.

“We’re off and running, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Vice President Joe Biden, taking the lead on a theme echoed by other Democratic officials on the Sunday talk shows.

At the end of the Obama administration’s first week, the party in power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue sought to lower expectations for a quick fix despite legislation expected to pass by next month that would pump billions of dollars into the economy. Democrats also opened the door for even more government aid to struggling banks beyond the $700 billion bailout already in the pipeline.

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13 O’Clock just loves the doublespeak.

Citigroup’s New Luxury Jet

January 27, 2009

Bailed Out Citigroup Buying a $50 Million Luxury Jet

Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet – only this time, it’s the taxpayers who are getting screwed.

Even though the bank’s stock is as cheap as a gallon of gas and it’s burning through a $45 billion taxpayer-funded rescue, the airhead execs pushed through the purchase of a new Dassault Falcon 7X, according to a source familiar with the deal.

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How much more of this are we going to take?

Fed May Gain More Financial Oversight

January 27, 2009

 By Neil Irwin and Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 26, 2009; Page A01

 

Congress is moving to create strong new oversight of the financial sector that would likely give the Federal Reserve authority to examine the workings of a wide range of companies in an attempt to address one of the key failures that led to the financial crisis.

But the initiative, which could be finalized in the House by spring, is raising concerns about whether it would muddy the Fed’s traditional mission and concentrate too much power in a single federal body.

The legislation envisioned by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would put the Fed, or less likely another government agency, in charge of protecting the stability of the entire system, Frank and other congressional sources said.

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[emphasis added]

Here’s the problem with the bold text – the Federal Reserve is not a government agency. The Federal Reserve is no more “federal” than Federal Express.

The Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel run by unelected, private individuals who do their business in secret, which leads to the problem with the whole idea of giving the Fed more power. Who’s interests do you think the Fed really serves? Hmmm?

Peter Schiff Goes Viral

January 26, 2009
Nice article about Peter Schiff in Fortune magazine:

Peter Schiff: Oh, he saw it coming

(Fortune Magazine) — A couple of years ago, when Peter Schiff first began appearing regularly on TV to warn of an impending real estate collapse that would crash the U.S. economy and stock market, he was surprised and disappointed to find that he was rarely, if ever, approached by strangers in restaurants.

“I’d walk down the streets of New York and figure, ‘Gee, you know, I’m on CNBC, CNN,'” says the brash 45-year-old president of brokerage Euro Pacific Capital. “But nobody ever recognized me.”

Those days, as Schiff will triumphantly tell you, are over. Perhaps no market soothsayer has had his profile raised higher over the past six months. As one of the few talking heads who loudly, relentlessly, and more or less accurately sounded the alarm about the mortgage bubble and its consequences – in the process becoming the latest bearish commentator to earn the moniker “Dr. Doom” – Schiff has suddenly emerged as a cult hero and something of a minor celebrity.

Recently he’s even gone viral. One ten-minute video on YouTube that’s packed with some of his “greatest hits” – with, for instance, clips of Schiff predicting a brutal recession and massive credit crunch while prominent debate partners, such as writer and actor Ben Stein and former Reagan economic advisor Art Laffer, make what now sound like laughably optimistic counterarguments – has been viewed just over a million times at last count.

Read the rest: http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/20/maga…tune/index.htm

Over a million views on the video mentioned is fantastic news. I really hope people are starting to actually pay attention and trying to understand what is going on with this economy. And if they’re learning from Peter Schiff, they’ll be so much better off – and so will the rest of us who have known for quite some time that he was right all along.

The Audacity of Hype

January 21, 2009

President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech, annotated.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

They will be met with a UN-approved, socialist agenda whether you like it or not.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

Pay no attention to the 42,000+ security personnel watching your every move and listening to your every word here today.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In other words, keep your dissenting opinion to yourself as we shove our UN-approved, socialist agenda down your throats.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Remaking America into a nation that would shock and dismay the founders – a place with nationalized banking, nationalized industry, nationalized health care, oppressive taxes, an astronomical national debt and politicians who pay no heed to the wishes of their constituents.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

The science we approve of, that is. Here also, dissenting opinions are unwelcome.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

I repeat, keep your dissenting opinions to yourself. We don’t care if you think our government is too big or too small. We don’t care if you think we’re doing more harm than good with all our grandiose plans. Sit down and shut up so our propaganda will work more efficiently.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

Never mind that the mountains of regulation we already have didn’t do any good that they most likely built up a false sense of security that caused a lot of harm to a lot of people recently. We’re going to regulate even more so that people will go back to not paying attention themselves.

To those who have prospered through hard work and sacrifice, get ready to spread your wealth around – by force, not by charity.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers … our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

I reject the false choice between safety and ideals. That’s why I voted for Patriot Act II and FISA. Who cares about ideals anyway.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

Our power alone does not entitle us to do as we please, but we will do as we please just the same. The “war on terror” continues.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

Only evil regimes silence dissent – oh, wait….nevermind.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

Whatever the UN wants us to do, we will do it. Deficits don’t matter.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This responsibility does not apply, of course, to banksters, automakers, and whatever other industries we choose to bailout. Just let us know how many billions of responsible taxpayer dollars you need, ok?

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

In this winter of our hardship, we’re going to throw the biggest, most expensive inauguration party the country has ever seen. That’s just our little way of showing what we mean by “hope and virtue”.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Let them eat cake!

 

Lew Rockwell – How This Happened

January 19, 2009

How This Happened

For years, many of us puzzled about how something so stupid and destructive as the New Deal could have happened. The stock market crashed because it was over-inflated. That’s nothing new. History is filled with credit-filled bubbles that pop. Resources are reallocated to reflect economic reality and we move on.

The New Deal was different. It actually began under Hoover, who initiated new spending programs and jobs programs, and tried to inflate the money supply and bail out the banks. He was blasted by FDR for his big government policies, and FDR won the election. Once in power, FDR went nuts, instituting a program of central planning that combined features of the Soviet and Fascist models.

It was one idiotic program after another. They tried to raise wages when they should have fallen. They tried to save banks that should have collapsed. They destroyed resources when they were most needed. They encouraged spending when people should have been saving. They smashed the dollar at a time when it needed to be shored up. They cartelized business when competition was most necessary.

What were the results? Economic growth went nowhere between 1933 and 1939, with real gross domestic product per adult still 27 percent below trend at the end. Per capita GDP was lower in 1939 than in 1929. Unemployment was at 17.2 percent in 1939. This was actually higher than it was in 1931. This is despite 100 percent increases in monetary expansion. Taxes had tripled. Employing people became ever more expensive due to unions and national income guarantees.

Every time the economy would bottom out and genuine recovery would begin, policy would knock it back down again. Other seeming upturns were entirely artificial: make work instead of real work, for example. Regimentation was everywhere, so that business couldn’t compete, farmers were destroying livestock and crops on command, and dissidents were being ferreted out through police-state tactics.

In other words, the whole project was a massive dud. It turned what might have been a short downturn into a decade-long national calamity, the biggest cost of which was freedom itself. And then as a cover-up for the calamity, there was war. At last FDR found some use for those unemployed workers: send them to kill and be killed at taxpayer expense. As for wartime price controls and nationalization, it was the New Deal by other means.

(For a full account, with all the detail, in scintillating prose, see Flynn’s Roosevelt Myth.)

Was it some sort of national insanity?

No, it was a power grab, and the current political moment shows precisely how this happens. A small group of elites, cut off from the broader reality, decide to finagle the system to serve themselves and their friends in the short term while forgetting the big picture and the long term. Sensible people try to point out obvious facts but their voices are drowned out.

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