Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 8:31 pm

Why am I not surprised?

My junior senator, Kay Hagan, appears hell-bent on topping predecessor Elizabeth Dole’s world land speed record for pissing away credibility.

You’ll recall that apparently she has some issues with investigating and prosecuting war crimes (and more about that later). Now, she’s apparently decided to join the criminals by becoming a co-chair of Third Way, a bogus corporate “think tank” that recently advanced the novel idea that banks ought to be able to foreclose on property to which they do not, in fact, have clear title.

Geez, Kay, why not just legalize cocaine trafficking and money laundering and call it Miller Time.

Friday, May 14, 2010 8:27 pm

Taxation without representation

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , ,

Some of the less-informed members of the Tea Party movement have argued that our current economic arrangement constitutes taxation without representation. They’re right, but not in the way they think.

Zero Hedge guest poster Chindit13 explains:

Little known to the average taxpayer, the Fed is a public-private entity that not only issues the nation’s currency, but sets interest rate policy and has supervisory authority over the banking system.Its private owners, who are anything but neutral, number the largest banking and finance institutions in the country, the so-called Too Big to Fail banks.

Along with Treasury, the Fed has been instrumental in what SIGTARP Chief Barofsky has estimated has been $23 trillion of bailouts, loans, backstops and guarantees, since the financial crisis struck two years ago.  To put that number in perspective, it represents almost twice the US GDP and 40% of World GDP.  It also represents $75,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US.

Although not all of that money has been created or spent, much has, which means the US taxpayer now carries the responsibility for paying it back.  Oddly, one might even say immorally, the Fed goes out of its way to prevent even the democratically elected representatives of the people from seeing the inner workings of that entity.  The Fed—with help from the Obama White House—has lobbied to block access to information about what the taxpayer has bought, though the taxpayer is still required to pay for it, either directly in taxes or through inflation and a depreciating currency.  If this is not the definition of “Taxation without Representation,” I do not know what is.

Our state’s senators, Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, went along with a minimal audit requirement, and that’s OK for a start. But we need more. Much, much more.

Friday, May 7, 2010 9:32 pm

If you liked 2007-08, you’re gonna love the next few years

The Senate has voted almost 2-1 against ending “too big to fail” banks. (North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Kay Hagan both voted for the banksters.)

Which means more too-big-to-fail banks.

Which means more bank bailouts. (Thanks, Dick. Thanks, Kay.)

Which means more sucking up of middle-class and working-class wealth — what there is left of it — by a very few, very wealthy banksters.

Bonus fun: In addition to owning AIG, GM and some banks, you now own Red Roof Inn. But you’re still going to have to pay to sleep there.

Friday, January 15, 2010 7:15 pm

Odds and ends for 1/15

Why Haiti is so poor: Because it’s an abused nation, David Brooks, you staggeringly stupid person.

The Fort Hood Shootings: DOD’s official report, out today. Haven’t had time to read it.

But Fox News is cracking down on inaccuracy! Really!: The author of a study that Fox claims proves we’re entering a “mini ice age” says, “I don’t know what to do. They just make these things up.”

Relatedly, global-warming denialism is becoming (surprise!) big business.

The Politico has a scoop! “GOP leaders have privately settled on a strategy to win back the House by putting the vast majority of their money and energy into attacking Democrats — and turning this election into a national referendum on the party in power.” Because Wow! They’ve never done that before! [headdesk]

“I want uninterrupted expertise.” Who cares what the public thinks?

For God’s sake, no one tell David Broder: The public thinks bipartisanship is less important than principles. Richard Burr gets this. Does Kay Hagan?

The National Center for Counterterrorism? Has serious problems.

Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Plan: The Pentagon is preparing for the likelihood that DADT will be repealed. Good. Whether they like it or not, Obama certainly campaigned on repeal, so they at least ought to be prepared.

If Joe Lieberman doesn’t like being called “untrustworthy,” maybe he should stop acting, you know, untrustworthy. Because otherwise, a blog not predisposed to liking Joe very much might throw an impromptu contest to see who can come up with the best synonym for “untrustworthy” (oh, so NSFW), and that would be simply awful.

“The costs of imprecision” are staggering and growing.

One of history’s biggest arguments, settled. (I win.) (h/t: Fred)

ZOMG! Real-life “Calvin & Hobbes” snowmen!

Reason No. 4,298 why I love FailBlog (h/t Jill, who had to be a student in sex-ed classes taught by her mom at both school AND church, which must be, like, a preadolescent’s worst nightmare):

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 8:15 pm

Calling out Sen. Kay Hagan

I mentioned earlier that North Carolina’s junior senator, Democrat Kay Hagan, had not signed on to S. 604, the Senate companion to Rep. Ron Paul’s HR 1207 audit-the-Fed measure. Now we know why: She opposes it:

Under common usage of the term audit — an examination of accounts and records — there is already a 100 percent audit of the Federal Reserve.

And the records of these audits are publicly available where, exactly?

Furthermore, Congress already reviews semi-annual reports on monetary policy submitted by the Board of Governors as required under the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act (PL 95-523).

Bully for Congress. What about the rest of us?

When Congress passed the Federal Banking Agency Audit Act in 1978, the legislation attempted to balance the need for public accountability of the Federal Reserve with the need to insulate the Reserve’s monetary policy function from political pressures. I believe this balance must be maintained going forward.

Because that’s worked out so well up ’til now.

There are political pressures and political pressures. Messing with the money supply or meddling in markets for partisan advantage is one thing, and a very bad thing at that. That said, the public needs to know how its economy and its fiat currency are being managed, so that the experts among the public can advocate for policy on the basis of the soundest possible information. That isn’t happening now, mainly because under current circumstances, it can’t.

The formulation of monetary policy is a decision-making process that involves information gathering from a host of foreign governments and central banks. The information provided from those exchanges is critical and extremely sensitive. The immediate and broad disclosure that S. 604 would require could disrupt the financial markets, and jeopardize our country’s international finance relationships.

Release of information can be delayed just long enough to keep it from being able to move markets.

Ultimately, it would be taxpayers who would bear the brunt of any losses resulting from policies caused by untimely disclosure of sensitive information. Because of this, I do not believe the benefits of legislation like the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act outweigh the costs.

Like we haven’t been bearing the brunt of losses already.

As Zero Hedge points out, we need answers to other questions, among them:

Under what circumstances, and under what authority, did the Federal Reserve step in and become the lender of last resort to the entire world?

Given what has happened in the past year, why is it such a good idea to have the Fed (which is to say, us) remain on the hook for $6.5 trillion in other countries’ potential problems?

Why have we not mitigated the international conditions that made it necessary for the Fed to bail out these other countries, so that we’re at just as much risk now as we were before the collapse of Lehman Bros. a year ago?

To what extent do we recognize, and to what extent are we addressing, the dangers created by the weakening dollar? (Yeah, I realize a weak dollar should help exports, but with capacity down in the 60s and not likely to budge soon, it ain’t helping much.)

Why is the Fed’s discount window allowing banks to offer stock in bankrupt companies as collateral? And if the banks can do it, why can’t I?

Cuz here’s the thing:

… the Fed’s liquidity swaps are now back to almost zero. This means that foreign Central Banks believe they have the [foreign-exchange] swap and dollar maturity situation under control. They thought the same before Lehman blew up. And they were wrong. As the [dollar] continues tumbling ever lower [against the yen] to fresh 2009 lows, the trade de jour is once again the dollar funding one, although unlike before when the Yen was the carry currency of choice, this time it is the dollar itself, positioning banks for the double whammy of not just a dollar funding shock, but one coupled with a potential massive and historic short squeeze. If and when an exogenous event occurs, not even $6.5 trillion in Fed swap lines will be sufficient to bail out the world economy.

In plain English, if something else bad happens, we’re going to go through the same thing we went through a year ago. Only worse.

And then there are the categories of information Rep. Alan Grayson has asked for — and still not gotten:

  • Information that Bloomberg reporter Mark Pittman has requested via a Freedom of Information Act Request on the Bear Stearns rescue and that the Federal Reserve is contesting in the courts,[i] and which Manhattan Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska has ordered by turned over by the Federal Resrve.
  • Information that Rep. Grayson requested in February at a hearing and by follow-up letter on which institutions received the $1.2 trillion added to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, how much reach institution received, and what was promised in return.
  • All Federal Reserve documents that went to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office relating to the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger in which potentially illegal and coercive activity might have occurred, as well all Federal Reserve documents relating to the lawsuit pursued by Merrill Lynch shareholders in the US District court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Transcripts of all Open Market Meeting Minutes up to and including that of June, 2009, transcripts which are normally withheld from the public for five years.
  • Full disclosure of all terms and conditions of all off-balance sheet Fed transactions in the past three years.

In light of all of this, someone needs to explain to me again why Ben Bernanke should be re-confirmed. Because I’m thinking Sen. Hagan needs to vote a big, fat, resounding “Nay!” on that one.

Elsewhere, Zero Hedge writes:

We hope that the over 300 members of Congress who already support Ron Paul’s “Audit the Fed” Initiative consider the implications of what the Lehman fiasco has taught us, and how this unique look into the Fed’s balance sheet should be a very critical reminder of just how much risk the Fed is willing to take on with taxpayer capital when bailing out a financial system that, absent ongoing accounting gimmickry and endless Reserve Banking System subsidies, is still rotten to its core.

If they support Paul’s measure or its Senate companion measure, it’s probably because they’ve already considered those implications.

Sen. Hagan would be wise to do the same.

UPDATE: Kay, here’s a clue: Whatever Jon Kyl wants to do, both you and Americans in general are probably better off doing the opposite.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:13 pm

Linin’ ‘em up

A couple of weeks ago I said that auditing the Federal Reserve was a great idea even if it was Ron Paul who introduced the bill that would make it happen. I am delighted to note that that bill, HR 1207, has, as of today, 282 co-sponsors, more than enough to pass if the bill makes it to the floor. I’m less delighted that only one of Greensboro’s three reps, Howard Coble, is among the co-sponsors, although I don’t know whether that means Brad Miller and Mel Watt oppose the bill or just figured that with a majority assured they would turn their attention to other things.

The companion Senate bill, S 604 from Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has 23 co-sponsors, ranging in political ideology from Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to Sam Brownback, R-Kansas. (That’s quite a range, actually.) Among them is North Carolina’s Richard Burr but not our other senator, Kay Hagan. I do not know why that is.

But here’s what I suspect.

I suspect that the Fed has been doing things with our tax dollars, largely for the benefit of a few very large financial institutions, that will infuriate people once word becomes public. I further suspect that the wave of outrage that will follow will be something any incumbent and quite a few challengers would want to surf, rather than be swamped by. That wave is coming, and the time to get your board lined up and get up on your feet is drawing to a close.

There’s additional good news on this front: The Bloomberg news organization sued the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year under the Freedom of Information Act for records on how tax money was spent. On Monday, a federal judge granted Bloomberg’s motion for summary judgment, meaning that both the facts and the law are so clearly on Bloomberg’s side that there’s no need for a trial. The bank has five business days to provide certain records and until Sept. 14 to let the court know how it intends to provide others. Should bank allies manage to kill or stall the Paul or Sanders bills, people could just file more FOIA lawsuits. So one way or another, this stuff’s coming out.

Congresscritters and would-be congresscritters of all stripes, take note.

UPDATE: Arguably another excellent reason to support auditing the Fed: Tim Geithner thinks it would be a bad idea.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 9:40 pm

Why they ran the ‘Godless’ ad

Shorter Marty Ryall: “We were broke and desperate.”

No, really, that’s pretty much what he says.

And I’d be happy to leave it at that except that he also says:

It was never an attempt to fake Kay Hagan’s voice, or imply that she thinks there is no God. The intention was to provide an exclamation to the ad, showing how radical this group [the atheists who hosted a fund-raiser for Hagan in New York -- Lex] is. In hindsight, that voiceover should not have been in the ad. It gave her another avenue of counter-attack to discredit it.

A few points:

  • “It was never an attempt to … imply she thinks there is no God.” Please. Subliminal advertising wasn’t invented yesterday.
  • “The intention was … showing how radical this group is.” At least 10 percent of Americans are atheists or agnostics, and those are just the ones willing to be honest with pollsters. That might be politically unacceptable in many parts of North Carolina, but it isn’t radical. Freedom from religion is just as much a part of our heritage as freedom of religion.
  • Note that he doesn’t say the voiceover shouldn’t have been in the ad because it was wrong. He says it shouldn’t have been in the ad because it gave Kay Hagan a big stick with which to beat Elizabeth Dole over the head. In other words, he’s not sorry he did it, he’s sorry it backfired.
  • Only he also says it didn’t backfire: “Our last tracking poll on the Thursday before the election had us down 8 points and virtually no one was mentioning the Godless issue.” Dude. Get your story straight.

This column is such a mishmash that it’s hard to know what Ryall’s motive is. Perhaps he’s trying to keep his career alive by quasi-distancing himself from one of the biggest Epic Fails in political-advertising history. Perhaps he really believes all this stuff, contradictions included. But it comes across as a dumb explanation of a really dumb move.

Friday, October 31, 2008 5:24 pm

Elizabeth Dole’s question

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , ,

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole has a new ad out that asks, “If Godless Americans threw a party in your honor, would you go?”

Since the question is directed to me as a voter, not a candidate, allow me to answer that question:

I would decide whether or not to go based on the criteria by which I always decide whether or not to go to a party. Those criteria include:

  • Where and when is it? Do I have a conflict?
  • Will anyone be there whom I know?
  • Does the party have an agenda or theme (e.g., Halloween, New Year’s, somebody’s birthday)?
  • Will there be cake? Ice cream?
  • Would I have the opportunity to proselytize?
  • And, most importantly, can I get a babysitter?

Would I ditch the party solely because Godless Americans threw it? Heck, no. For one thing, at least half the people Jesus spent time with appear to have been atheists.

Also: Party.

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