John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

John Wayne's Holster
John Wayne's Holster
Visit my main blog at Monkey Wrench Revival. Visit my birdwatching blog at The Birding Nerd.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

John Wayne Hangs Up His Holster



John Wayne has ridden off into the sunset!

I have decided to put this blog to rest. Since I started this blog in January of 2005, I have posted 184 blog articles (185 if you count this one). The original intent of this blog was to provide a forum for airing my views and provoking discussion on various topics, ranging from politics to culture. From that perspective, I beleive the blog was successful.

That being said, my political views have changed considerably over the past several years. I have evolved from a lower primate (card-carrying conservative republican) to something more akin to a shotgun marriage between a economic libertarian and a social liberal.

My views are still evolving.

As such, I have decided to shut down this blog, which reflected my former self and launch a new blog which will focus more on my social and environmental views and less on politics, at least on electoral politics (if that is indeed possible).

The new blog, Monkey Wrench Revival, can be found HERE.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

After Forever


Ozzy Osbourne

After a brief Facebook discussion with friends about Black Sabbath, I could help but post some lyrics. Here's After Forever, from Masters of Reality.





Forever After - Black Sabbath

Have you ever thought about your soul - can it be saved?
Or perhaps you think that when you're dead you just stay in your grave
Is God just a thought within your head or is he a part of you?
Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were in school?

When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope - do you think he's a fool?
Well I have seen the truth, yes I've seen the light and I've changed my ways
And I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of our days

Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believe in God above?
They should realize before they criticize
that God is the only way to love

Is your mind so small that you have to fall
In with the pack wherever they run
Will you still sneer when death is near
And say they may as well worship the sun?

I think it was true it was people like you that crucified Christ
I think it is sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced
Will you be so sure when your day is near, say you don't believe?
You had the chance but you turned it down, now you can't retrieve

Perhaps you'll think before you say that God is dead and gone
Open your eyes, just realize that he's the one
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it's too late.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Student Defies Book Ban


Source: Flickr.com

Saw this story while surfing - "Kid Keeping a Lending Library of Banned Books in Her Locker". This is the kind of thing that makes America great and gives me hope.

Here is an exerpt:
A school friend asked to borrow off him The Catcher in the Rye, one of the books in the banned list, and one thing led to another..." This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with the banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list.

Full story can be found HERE

I found it odd that some of the listed books were banned, especially in light of the fact that I read several of them while a student at Monsignor Bonner High School in Drexel Hill, PA. Books such as Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Catch-22 and Animal Farm. Several others I have read independently, including two of my favorites, A Picture of Dorian Gray and Slaughterhouse Five.

Here is a link containing a list of banned books. The list was compiled by the American Library Association, and contains some insightful commentary as to why some of the listed books are/were banned.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Stress Tests: Don’t Bank on the Results


Image Source: Phil’s Favorites

Yesterday, the Federal Government released the results of so-called “stress tests (pdf). Ostensibly, the tests were designed to determine whether the nation’s largest 19 banks would be able to withstand an even deeper recession than we are presently experiencing. The results show that 10 of the 19 banks needed about $75 billion in additional capital to withstand heavier losses that would likely come if the recession worsened. The ten banks in question immediately put forward plans as to how they intend to raise the required capital, and further suggested that more bail-out money won’t be need (beyond the $700 billion already approved last year).


What, Me Worry?

Great! I suppose we can all go back to sleep now. The banks are all fine and there is nothing to worry about. Right?

Wrong?

The stress tests were lame. They are just another piece of misinformation designed to lull the public into a false sense of well-being – or complacency. For staters, as Money & Markets points out, the test results are based on a bank’s “self-evaluation - not only for loan loss estimates that can be derived from past data, but also for the future performance of trading accounts, which can be far more subjective”. And guess what else! If the banks don’t receive favorable grades, they can appeal the final results and ask for a better score.

The conditions of the tests, and the underlying assumptions upon which they were founded, were designed so that most banks would pass, and the others would have problems that could easily be addressed. According to Money & Markets, the Stress Test don’t fully consider the banks total exposure to derivates, particularly those backed by commercial real estate debts. To make matters worse, the test only assumes ONE YEAR of further decline. Moreover, that rate of GDP decline is assumed to be only 2%. Those are both bogus numbers designed to mislead. Most market forecasts are predicting a much longer recession, and the current rate of GDP decline is closer to 6%.

Martin Weiss, president of Weiss Research, Inc., conducted his own stress test, based on data provided by TheStreet.com Ratings, by the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and in first quarter financial statements. Employing more objective economic assumptions, Weiss concluded that 15 of 19 of the nation’s largest banks would FAIL. According to Weiss, “Our analysis directly contradicts the overall conclusion by the banking authorities that most bank holding companies are well capitalized.”

That’s quite a different picture!

When you look behind the curtains, the Fed’s Stress Test doesn’t really give a true picture of what could happen if things get worse. In other words, it was a farce. The results were essentially pre-determined. Increasing bank supervision seems to be a top priority for the Fed. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke basically said so himself. According to Bernanke, the purpose of the stress tests is to “provide a guide to improvements in financial supervision and regulation.” Foreshadowing this, Bernanke stated Wednesday, "We hope that the Congress will consider revising the provisions of Gramm-Leach-Bliley to help ensure that consolidated supervisors have the necessary tools and authorities to monitor and address safety and soundness concerns in all parts of an organization."

In other words, it’s a power grab! And the stress test was used to generate the results to justify it. As Texas Congressman Ron Paul stated, the tests are “propaganda”, they are “nothing more than a pretense that they can have central economic planning by manipulating money and credit through the Federal Reserve system.”

More Federal Control! Isn’t that how we got into this problem in the first place!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Moses: The Father of Fascism


Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments

I read. A lot. It’s not that I have no social life, its…. OK, it’s true! I have no social life. What’s the big deal anyway. Back to my point. I read a lot.

One of the rags I read is World Net Daily. It’s mainly a right wing conservative website. Although I consider myself more of a libertarian, I do find some if its articles and a few of its columnists (e.g. Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter) worth reading, regardless of whether I agree with them completely or not. They, particularly Ms. Coulter, are entertaining if nothing else.

In addition to the political component of the website, there are strong fundamentalist Christian overtones in much of the website content. Although I don’t particularly enjoy having someone else’s faith pushed in my face at every opportunity, I realize that there are some folks who are so inclined. In fact, I would venture a guess that most of WND’s readership consists of Christian fundamentalists. I guess that’s OK. After all, no one is forcing me to read it. I can always find another rag to read.

As you may have guessed from WND’s description as a “right-wing, fundamentalist Christian” publication, they are not big fans of President Obama. A recent article by columnist Ellis Washington even made Obama out to be a fascist.

While I have no debate with WND over this moniker for the Commander in Chief, I find it quite ironic that it is a columnist at a Christian fundamentalist publication who has bestowed this title. Out of curiosity, I went to the WND search engine and dropped the terms “Obama” and “fascist” in the query box, and several pages of articles popped up!


Image Credit: The Indypendent

If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is!

Perhaps the editors and columnists at WND should go back and read the Bible again before throwing the “fascist” bomb around. Even a casual reading of the Bible, which serves as the basis for fundamentalist Christianity, reveals that it is rooted in fascism. In fact, it would not be much of a stretch to say that Moses, the supposed author of the first five books of the Bible, is the Father of Fascism!

For starters, Moses lays out his plans for building and maintaining a patriarchal society in the Bible. Accordingly, a woman is considered the property of a man, and her value lies in her ability to provide valet services and to breed. As for breeding, women must be pure (i.e. virgins), so that the male does no have to deal with the possibility of cuckoldry. Women who are not "pure as the driven snow" bring shame to their families, defile their father and husband, and are thereby not worthy of life. Here are a few gems outlining Moses' chauvinistic and misogynistic view of women, with links to the actual Biblical passages for your reference.

Genesis 3:16 16 To the woman [God] said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Genesis 16:1-2 1 Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant.

Leviticus 21:9 9 If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

Deuteronomy 21:10-13 10 When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.


Moses also condones slavery.
Exodus 21:20-2120 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

Leviticus 25:44-46 44 " 'Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life.


There is also the whole notion of nationalism and racial superiority inherent in the Mosaic laws. Apparently, we are to believe that God loves us all, but he just loves his “chosen people” more. He loves them so much, that He has apparently set aside land for them. All the “chosen” have to do to claim the land is to drive off its current inhabitants, enslave those who may prove useful, and kill those who resist. Not exactly my idea of peace and love, but to each his own.


Deuteronomy 14:1-2 1 You are the children of the LORD your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave the front of your heads for the dead, 2 for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.

Deuteronomy 20:10-14 10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.

Exodus 23:31-33 31 "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me.


With these examples in mind, examples which are drawn from the texts upon which fundamentalist Christianity is rooted, the zealots at WND should be careful of just who they are calling fascists. But as the old saying goes, it apparently “takes one to know one”.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easter is a Pagan Holiday


The Sun of God

Two weekends ago, many Americans celebrated the Easter holiday by coloring eggs, hunting for easter eggs, and awaiting the arrival of the Easter Bunny. In addition to these festivities, Easter also signifies the arrival of spring. All in all, it makes for a joyful holiday.

For others, Easter is an exalted religious holiday signifying the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal salvation.

To each his own, I suppose. Or perhaps not...

Many self-righteous religious folks despise the fact that the Easter holiday has a secular dimension. They carp about the way “their” solemn holiday has been hijacked and desecrated by the godless heathen. They yammer that the secular traditions are nothing more than unadulterated pagan rituals.

Perhaps they are right! However, what they fail to recognize is that they too are celebrating a pagan ritual. Their so-called Christian rituals have been carefully primped and preened, thus concealing their pagan origins behind the pretext that they were heavenly ordained. In fact, the whole of Christianity, from the Immaculate Conception to the Resurrection, is all drawn from mythology and astrology. Christianity (and Judaism for that matter) is essentially a rehash or repackaging of the same allegorical traditions that have formed the centerpieces of various cultures for millennia.

It is even fair to say that Jesus Christ as a historical person probably never existed! After all, despite the suppossed importance of the Christ character in the first century, and the fuss he is said to have created for both the Romans and the Jewish clerics, there is no historical record of his existence. And as for the Nativity story, Christ’s ministry, the Passion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, etc, it’s all been done before by various other sun gods and other deities, such as Dionysius (Greece), Horus (Egypt), Mithra (Persia), Zoroaster (Persia), and Krishna (India) - just to name a few. The elements of their stories are all similar and share a number of common themes.

These pagan mythologies were co-opted by the Romans, repackaged, and sold to the early pagan communities as the Jesus story in order to unify the empire under a common or shared mythology. Read the stories of any one of these pagan gods and you will find that they were all sons (suns) of god, their births were announced by star, they were born of a virgin, they were miracle workers and healers, they were crucified, resurrected and returned to heaven, they were memorialized in a sacred cannibalistic ritual involving consumption of their body and blood, etc, etc. On top of all that, their births and deaths coincide with the astrological calendar to occur around the time of the spring equinox and the winter solstice.

There is nothing new or unique in Christianity!

In addition to all the astrological tie-ins, the stories presented in the gospels are beyond credible. Walking on water, raising of the dead, turning water into wine, feeding thousands with a few loaves and fishes, etc. No one in their right mind could believe such yarns. Some of the miracles themselves even contradict what is written in the bible itself. For example, Jesus is supposedly descended from the Royal House of David. The genealogy given in the gospels (Matthew 1:1–17) traces his lineage from David through his earthly father Joseph. Yet the gospel also claims that Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:16-25M). A virgin birth? Sounds like a claim made by many otherwise good girls and supported by an equal number of ostensibly pious lads.

Putting the powers of logic to work, one can readily see that these two passages, which are from the same gospel account, are contradictory. Either Joseph sired Christ, keeping the line of descent from the Royal House of David intact, or he didn’t. Christianity maintains the veracity of the virgin birth. That means that no member of the “royal swim team” made its way up the immaculate fallopian tubes. Therefore, Joseph can not be the father, and that there is no royal blood flowing through Christ’s veins. And no post-facto fulfillment of vague Old Testament prophesies (see Psalms 89:3-4).

When you boil it all down, Christ is rendered into nothing more than the latest version of the ever-morphing, new and improved, sun god. The supposed documented aspects of Christ’s life and times that are contained within the various gospel accounts are nothing more that fraudulent histories retrofitted onto a concocted fairytale. His alleged life story is just an allegory to describe the movement of the constellations and the precession of the equinoxes. As Acharya S suggests, a more appropriate title for Christ would be the Solar Avatar of the Age of Pices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Impressions of Dubai


Burj Al Arab
Photo Credit: Kellogg, NWU

I spent the first week of March in Dubai (UAE) visiting friends, watching birds (see the report here), and checking out the business climate. Due to my dress and accent, it was fairly obvious to most people that I was American. While a few people did give me the fish eye, I found the majority of people in Dubai to be warm and friendly. The presence of a large ex-pat population was undoubtedly a factor. However, even among Emiratis, my family and I felt welcomed.

Economic Growth

On the surface, Dubai has a thriving economy. It has enjoyed one of the highest levels of GDP growth in the world of the last several years. From a western perspective, one would conclude that the standard of living there surpasses that in the US – at least economically. The average price of a home there is comparable to that here in the states. Most families have two vehicles. And the average annual income is about the same. However, there are no income taxes in Dubai! Thus, the people get much more benefit from the fruits of their labor.

As far as personal freedoms go, Emiratis enjoy less freedom than we do here in the US, although I would not call it oppressive. For starters, there is no democratic electoral system. Each of the seven emirates is ruled by a Sheik whose power is hereditary. The Sheiks, in turn, are subservient to the Sheik of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. All laws are reviewed by a Supreme Council composed of the seven ruling sheiks and a appointed Council of Ministers. All the emirates have both secular and Sharia (Islamic) law for civil, criminal, and high courts. Islam is the de facto religion. While religious freedom is tolerated, non-Islamic proselytizing is illegal.

There is also significant to overwhelming social pressure to conform to Islamic standards in dress and personal conduct. Native woman are expected to cover with an abaya and head scarf. Ex-pats and foreign nationals are expected to dress modestly, although they don’t always do so. In truth, I found it quite comforting. One does not always need to be affonted by testosterone-raging Hercules wanna-bes on their way from the gym, or college age women with the pillows of motherhood leaping out of their blouses.

So, overall, the standard of living in Dubai is fairly good, at least for those who are financially comfortable. However, one thing I found worrisome was the cultural and economic stratification that is developing. As it turns out, most of the lower paying labor and social service jobs in Dubai are not provided by Emiratis. They are provided by foreign nationals - mostly from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. Go to any hotel, restaurant, or construction site, and you will be hard pressed to find an Emirati among the ranks. This is particularly true in the construction industry. Like all capitalist societies, the upper class extracts its comforts and pleasures off of the sweat of the exploited classes. (OMG, I sound like a communist!)

Construction Boom


Burj Dubai Tower
Image Credit: WeeklyDrop.com

Speaking of construction, Dubai has gained a lot of notoriety over the last few years due to all its construction projects, and there are a LOT of them. Projects from the Palms to the Burj Dubai (world’s tallest building) to the Lagoons. In fact, almost everywhere you look in Dubai there are construction projects underway. From one vantage point alone, I counted over 15 construction cranes in action. Due to the worldwide economic turmoil we are experiencing right now, some projects have been put on hold; however, there is still plenty of work going on.

Where is all the money for these projects coming from? The popular opinion is that the money is coming from Dubai’s oil; however, these does not seem likely to me. Contrary to popular opinion, Dubai is not an oil country. In fact, oil revenues account for only 6% of Dubai’s economy. Most of their money comes from tourism, trade, and commerce. That leaves the investment banks. They are the ones pumping the economy full of steroids.

If one were to take a quick view around the city, this fact becomes apparent. The city is dominated by western banks (Barclay’s, Citibank, HSBC, Credit Suisse) and western/asian companies (IKEA, Armani, Sony, Toyota, McDonalds). If you were to theoretically step out of your teleporter into the heart of Dubai with out knowing where you where, you would be certain you were in the middle of New York or Hong Kong (sand, palm trees, and ever-present mosques aside). I must say that I find these developments saddening. It seems as if the entire culture and economy in Dubai is coming under the sway and control of western interests – interests whose only concern is their own self-interest.

Environmental and Social Impacts


Jumierah Palms
Image Credit: Emirates Network

This boom in the commercial development of Dubai is not without its side-effects. Of particular concern are the Palm and Lagoon projects. There are, and will be, huge social and environmental repercussions.

The Palm Projects essentially involve the creation of artificial islands off the north coast of the Dubai – in the Arabian Gulf (don’t say Persian Gulf, nobody knows what that is). Sand is dredged from the gulf or excavated from the desert to build up the islands. Then high-rise condos, hotels, and apartments are put up. Developers then charge top dollar to buyers who want beach front property. In most cases, the buyers will be greatly disappointed, as the only view they will get is the back door of their neighbors home on the adjacent “palm frond”.

There is also the issue of the environmental impact. I visited the Jumeirah Palm Island while there. I took an opportunity to walk along the “beach” in my obsessive quest to watch birds. I was disheartened by what I saw, or more correctly, didn’t see. The beaches were sterile! There were virtually no birds to be seen. No gulls patrolling the coast. No stints combing the surf line. No terns diving for fish. There was also the hint of a stagnant marsh in the air. The only creatures we did see were a few starfish - several of which were dead, and a few bivalves. With several Palm Projects still underway, the prospects for a the ecology of the coast do not look good.

Then there is the Lagoons. Similar to the Palms, the goal of the Lagoons projects is to create more artificial waterfront property around which residential communities and commercial centers will be built. We drove by one of the soon to be developed Lagoon sites on our way to visit the Ras Al Khor Wildbird Sanctuary on the Dubai Creek. The sanctuary, located at the base of the creek, is home to over 5000 Greater Flamingos and a variety of other shore birds.


Flamingos at Ras Al Khor
Photo Credit: Gulf News

While admiring the Flamingos, I began to wonder about the Lagoons Project site we passed on the way. The construction site is visible from the sanctuary – in fact, it’s just upstream. To make the project go, the banks of the creek will have to be dredged and an artificial inlet will have to be put in to let water into the soon to be build residential and commercial areas. Roads will be laid down, buildings will be put up, and eventually cars and people will move in. I can’t imagine the adverse impact this will have on the wildbird sanctuary.

And what about the land where other Lagoon projects will be undertaken? Some of it is desert, some of it is of ecological significance, but the vast majority of it is presently occupied by residential areas. In other words, there are already neighborhoods with people living in them. What will happen to these neighborhoods and their residents? Can you say eminent domain?

The government is forcing the people to move out and find other housing. While it’s true the people are being compensated, they are not getting real value for their homes. This also does not take into account the social cost of the break-up of communities that have been living in the area for generations.

The recent worldwide economic crisis has also had an unforseen impact. People who were told to move from their homes began selling furniture and stripping their houses to get cash for their doors and windows. Since some of the projects are now on hold, the government did an about face and told the people to stay in their houses – houses that now have no furniture, no doors, and no windows. Those who already moved or purchased new properties are now stuck with their original property which they can not sell.

Conclusions

Overall, Dubai is a thriving state (emirate) with a potentially bright future - provided they don't follow the example of the west. With the impending collapse of the U.S. dollar, the massive construction boom in the Emirates, along with expanding markets in India and China, it seems that the financial center of the world is moving east. Dubai will undoubtedly emerge as one of its hubs.

For Dubai to avoid repeating the mistakes of the west, it will have to learn from our history and put appropriate safeguards in place. Unfortunately, Dubai does not appear to be doing so. Rather, they are following in our footsteps. Their economy is driven by credit. While I have no statistics to determine the level of personal debt, my converstations with locals lead me to believe it is significant.

Dubai must also take steps to avoid the loss of its culture, and its supplantation by western culture. Emirati culture is getting lost behind the facade of capitalism and consumerism. They are losing touch with nature and with their identity as a people. They are quickly become like westerns clad in a dishdash and a headscarf. Just how far Emiratis have strayed from their culture can clearly been seen by making a breif trip over the border in to Oman. Hopefully, Emiratis will do more to preserve and safeguard their culture... Insha'allah.

Audit the Federal Reserve!



Ron Paul’s bill, H.R. 1207, to audit the Federal Reserve continues to gain momentum. Please write to your Congressman to urge them to support the bill. Here is a link to help you find all the current members of the US House of Representative.

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to my Congressional representative. Feel free to use it, edit it, write your own, or use a template available at RonPaul.com. The important thing is that you do something to get your Congressional Represeantative involved on your behalf.

Here is a copy of my letter,


Dear Representative Thompson,

We are currently faced with a slew of corporate and banking failures brought on by greed, selfishness and downright deception from Wall Street. Are we letting these companies go under, as they should in a free market? Or are we propping them up, thus rewarding their failure and mismanagement? Unfortunately, we are propping them up by bailing them out.

Where is the money for the bail-out coming from? The Fed simply sits back, makes a few key stokes on a computer, and literally creates money out of thin air. They then give this money to bad companies, and charge the principle and interest to ordinary people like the citizens of Centre County, effectively putting us and our children in perpetual debt. In the meanwhile, the bankers at the Fed are raking in profits on interest payments - on money they created from nothing. As if that were not bad enough, the bail-out money is going toward the paying of bonuses to the very people whose mismanagement and greed created all the problems in the first place.

For all this, the Federal Reserve is not even accountable. Despite the rhetoric from Washington, there is little or no transparency at the Fed. We do not even know who they are lending money to, and they won’t even tell us when we ask. Nevertheless, we are expected to foot the bill. Sounds like downright highway robbery, to me. It is about time this stopped.

We need more transparency and accountability at the Fed! As citizens, we have stood by for decades an allowed ourselves to be fleeced by our government via the Federal Reserves system. You, as our elected representative, can and must help! The Federal Reserve must be audited! If you or I were in a similar position as the Fed, we would be legally required to account for every dollar that passes through our hands. Why has the Federal Reserve never been held to the same standard?

Please co-sponsor or support H.R.1207.

Sincerely,
Joseph A.Verica

Friday, February 27, 2009

Depression 2009 - How We Got Here!



This short video tells you all you need to know!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ron Paul Ponders What Would Happen If the American People Knew the Truth



Ron Paul on the House Floor

What If...The American People Learn Truth?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Turbines Give Me the Wind Something Terrible


Wind Turbines Are Bad for the Environment
Image Source: Keepers of the Blue Ridge

I recently came across an article on the web stating that RWE Innogy - European energy supplier - is planning on building a 960 megwatt "wind farm" in the North Sea. The "farm" will be built 40 kilometers north of the island of Juist and cover an area of sea about 150 square kilometers. Construction is slated to begin sometime next year, with an estimated completion date of 2015.

To many worshippers at the alter of Al Gore, this may seem like a great thing. After all, wind power is touted to be the next great thing in the energy field. It will supposedly free us from the use of fossil fuels. On top of all that, it is "clean", and "green". In other words, it's environmentally friendly.

Or so they say.

Although I am no big fan of oil or other fossil fuels, and we be ecstatic to see a decline in or an elimination of their use, I don't think wind energy or any of the other alternative energy sources we are being pitched are going to solve much of anything. The whole thing is just a big scam to find more ways to waste more energy. And contrary to what the Goregoyles tell you, these forms of energy are not without their environmental impacts.

The whole naming of the above mentioned facilities as "wind farms" is misleading. There is nothing pastoral about them. There are no animals, there are no barns, there is no cultivation, and there is no husbandry of any kind going on. The misnomer is really just a way to soften the reality that the facilities are production plants. Perhaps the term wind industrial complex would be more appropriate.

Besides being noisy and unattractive, wind plants pose significant problems. For starters, the energy produced by wind power can not be stored. It must be produced on demand. It is alos unreliable. Winds are higly intermittant, with daily fluctuations between 50% to 100%. If the wind is not blowing, you get no energy. And on top of all that, it is inefficient, having a capacity factor of only about 30%. This means that you need a non-wind based back-up source of energy to meet the 70% short-fall.

Wind turbines also have a negative impact on the environment. Turbines generate a lot of turbulence which can have a significant impact on local weather patterns. It is estimated that it would require about 250,000 wind turbines to meet U.S. energy needs. Such a vast array of turbines would alter wind speeds and cause a local drying of soils in their vicinity, leading to increased evaportation and thus the need for increased irrigation.

Turbulence created by wind turbines at sea causes upwelling, wherein deep ocean water is drawn up to the surface. This, in turn, drives the surface water down to replace it. The overall effect of this is to alter the temperature flow within the water, which could potentially effect currents and the resulting weather patterns they influence. In addition, the drag created by the turbines has been shown in modeled systems to shift wind currents substantially in a manner that could impact the movement of storms.

Although wind facilites have been promoted as "green", in that they generate no greenhouse gases, this in not the same as saying that they don't lead to an increase in greenhouse gases. Many of the land-based wind turbines are located on mountain ridges, where winds are typically high. The construction of the turbines themselves requires a significant amount of forest clearing (pronounced - deforestation) for the access roads and turbine pads, not to mention that needed to make space for above-ground powerlines and trenching for underground power lines. This, in turn, results in less carbon dioxide uptake by the trees that are no longer there. You do the math.

Wind plants are detrimental to wild life. Many turbines, particularly those on mountain ridges, are positioned along vital migration routes for birds. Because birds typically migrate at night, the flashing lights on the turbines act as an attactant. This results in collisions with the turbine blades, and the killing of tens of thousands of birds every year. In Northern California, the Altamont Wind Turbines alone kill up to 1,300 birds each year. Bats don't fare well either. There is also the matter of habitat fragmentation resulting from forest clearing.


Birds Don't Fare Well Near Wind Turbines
Image Source: Keepers of the Blue Ridge

When you add it all up, wind energy does not turn out to be the free lunch that its proponents make it out to be. There are significant environmental and ecological costs. There is also the matter of the economic costs due to decreased in property values and the tax increases that are required to subsidize the wind facilities, but that is another matter.

One could always make the argument that, despite these costs, we would still be better off than we are in our current situation with fossil fuels. Perhaps. But then again, perhaps not. According to a study on the Point Petre Wind Plant in Canada, the amount of carbon saved by a single turbine is canceled out by a "18 wheel truck traveling at 60 mph". This is not to say that any offset in carbon emmissions is waste of time.

The real issue is that the promotion of alternative energy sources completely misses the point. It glosses over the real problem - that we use and waste way too much energy! It is also not clear that the use of alternative energy sources will have much of a positive impact, as world energy consumption in increasing, not decreasing. Wind power and its alternative energy cousins turning out to be nothing more that supplemental energy sources. As such, they are just adding to the problem. We should really be focusing on more efficient forms of energy and, more importantly, energy conservation.

As it stands now, all this wind power stuff give me the wind something terrible.

I'm Mad As Hell and I'm Not Gonna Take It Anymore


“Harold Beale” from Network (1976)

I think anyone growing up in the US in the 60’s and 70’s will recall the personality that was Dr. Timothy Leary. Leary’s famous quote, which more or less summed up his philosophy, was “turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Ostensibly, the phrase was to promote experimentation with LSD. Actually, it was aimed at encouraging people to detach themselves from the conventions of society. Many self-annointed “responsible” people dismissed Leary’s advice as the ravings of a madman. However, what these “responsible people” don’t realize is that they have plugged-in to something that is much more insidious – the corporate/government media, otherwise known as the public relations industry. Perhaps they would have been better off taking the ticket to ride.

As Noam Chomsky states in Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind, the goal of the public relations industry is “the conscious control and manipulation of the habits and opinions of the masses”, the intended purpose of which is “to maintain power structures and authority structures”. In other words, we are being brainwashed into accepting the version of reality that the ruling corporate class imposes on us. They do this so that they can continue to exploit our labor and extract our wealth. And I must say, they are quite good at it – so good, that they have us believing that it is the way things are naturally supposed to be.

Over the weekend, I rented a DVD from my local video store that satirized this quite nicely. The movie is called Network. Here is an edited summary of the movie from IMDb:

In 1975 terrorist violence is the stuff of network nightly news programming and the corporate structure of the UBS television network is changing. Meanwhile, Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, has lost his once strong ratings share and so the network fires him. Beale reacts in an unexpected way… In doing so, [he] becomes a major TV icon and one of the most valuable assets to the Communications Corporation of America (CCA), the company that is gradually taking control of UBS. As a result he is given his own show as 'the mad prophet of the air-waves'. He appears live on television every week-day evening to tell the real truth to the people of America. The programme is a huge success but Beale uses his power to make startling revelations about CCA, leaving the company executives with a serious problem.


Here are a few scenes from the movie:


Harold Beale is Mad as Hell.


TV is an Illusion.

Inevitably, Beale reveals too much about the way things work, and needs to be brough in line. This is attempted by the UBS execs.


Beale Sees the Face of God - Corporations run the world.

Eventually, Beale is assassinated...

I found the movie to be both eye-opening and disturbing, not because it revealed to me anything I was not generally aware of, but rather, because the events the movie satirizes are playing out all over again in the present time. The corporate media is controlling us with a campaign of fear and disinformation. In doing so, they have paralyzed us as citizens. They trample our rights, violate our humanity, and extract our wealth. Although we may bitch and moan, we nevertheless roll-over and allow them to have their way with us. We content ourselves with the false notion that we are free, when in reality, we are not. Deep down, we know this to be true, but rarely give more that a passing thought to it. To assure that we don’t do so, the ruling class placates and appeases us with the modern equivalent of bread and circuses – endless entertainment, fantasy, drugs & alcohol, sexual license, etc. I could go on, but I think one just needs to look around to see that this is true.

I think it is time we were all "MAD AS HELL

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Hampshire Has It Right!


Live Free or Die!

The secret is out! The Federal Reserve Bank is a fraud. It is neither Federal nor does it have any real reserves. It is a privately owned multinational bank operating under the neglectful oversight of the United States Treasury. The Fed loans money to the government who must then pay it back! Plus interest! Under such a set-up, there is no incentive on the part of the Fed to be fiscally responsible. To the contrary, it is in their best interest if the govt borrows and spends recklessly. This way, the Fed collects more interest. This has to stop! Under the Constitution, the power to coin money belongs soley to the government, and not to a any private enterprise. But to our government, it seems that the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper".

Finally (and thankfully), people are getting fed up! The Fed creates a fiat currency out of thin air. The more they print, the less the "money" is worth. Now, our money is practically worthless. The world is starting to give up on the dollar as well. Putin is calling for the end of the dollar as the world reserve currency. China no longer wants to buy our 30-year Treasury Bills (i.e. they don't want to loan us any money to pay for our bail-outs). As a result, the Fed says they will buy the T-bills (talk about a Ponzi sheme). In the end, we the taxpayer, and our children are going to end up footing the bill for all this.

It seems that some states have had enough. New Hampshire just introduced a bill to its state legislature calling for the nullification of federal legislation and to federally assumed powers not specifically granted by Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution (remember that goddamned piece of paper Bush mentioned). The NH bill specifically calls attention to the counterfeiting scheme that the Federal Reserve bank has been running since its creation in 1913.

In essence, the bill is a clear reminder to the federal government that it could potentially be stripped of those powers that it unlawfully assumed and now forcefully impose on the states - a power grab that can be traced back to Abe Lincoln and others of his ilk.

I am not sure how much chance this bill has to pass, but I certainly think it is a step in the right direction. People need to understand the nature of the enslavement we are under by the Fed. Only when they are educated can we hope to see anything get done. I will also be interested to see how much attention the media pays to this bill.

For those interested, the full bill can be viewed here


UPDATE
Three other states - Arizona, Missouri, and Washington - have followed suit and submitted their own bills reasserting state sovereignty. The links are as follows: AZ, MO, & WA

Saturday, January 31, 2009

All He Does Is Catch Touchdowns!


Cris Carter

I saw this article today on ESPN about the 2009 Class of Pro Football Hall of Fame. I read through the list of the guys that got in, such as Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, and Derrick Thomas. No real suprises there. I kept reading the list - Randall McDaniel, Bob Hayes, Ralph Wilson. Yeah, I guess those guys deserved it as well.

I continued reading... What? Is that it? Must be some mistake - some typo. Where is Cris Carter? After all, it's a no-brainer that he gets in.

I surfed around a little at other news outlets. Surely one of them got the story right.

You gotta be kidding! Carter didn't make it? THis guy clearly deserved to be in the Hall. Like the immortal Buddy Ryan said, "All he [did was] catch touchdowns". His career stats speak for themselves. He is 2nd, behind only Jerry Rice in receptions. He should have been a first ballot guy.

Here are his stats:

Reception: 1,101
Yards: 13,899
Touchdown: 130
Pro Bowls: 8

On top of all that, Chris Carter is an example of the kind of guy the NFL should be promoting. He had early troubles in personal life while a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. This eventually led to his release from the team by then Eagles coach Buddy Ryan. Carter credits Ryan with helping the turn his life around, something which Carter clearly did. He went on to have his best years as a Minnesota Viking.

Carter is a great guy and a class act. He was a great football player on top of all that. It is a joke that this guy is not already in the Hall. I am sure this will be rectified next time around.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gun Control and Its Hidden Agenda


Image Source: Patriot Underground

Here is an exerpt from a great article on the hidden agenda behind gun control by Texas Congressman, Ron Paul:

Gun control advocates tell us that removing guns from society makes us safer. If that were the case why do the worst shootings happen in gun free zones, like schools? And while accidents do happen, aggressive, terroristic shootings like this are unheard of at gun and knife shows, or military bases. It bears repeating that an armed society truly is a polite society.

The fact is that firearm technology exists. It cannot be uninvented. As long as there is metalworking and welding capability, it matters not what gun laws are imposed upon law-abiding people. Those that wish to have guns, and disregard the law, will have guns. Gun control makes violence safer and more effective for the aggressive, whether the aggressor is a terrorist or a government.


Read the full article here

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial: Celebrating 200 Years of Tyranny


Abraham Lincoln: Tyrant
Image Source: Civil War Memory

I was watching Book-TV on C-SPAN the other day when a program on President Abraham Lincoln was aired. Turns out that this coming February will mark the 200 year anniversary of the birth of our 16th President. In celebration of such, C-SPAN is showing a series of programs focusing on Lincoln and his legacy. In addition, C-SPAN will also be airing coverage of events sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC).

As a history buff and an American, I decided to check out some of the programs that C-SPAN and the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission were putting on. Many of these programs are available as podcasts or archived videos on the above-mentioned C-SPAN website. I also checked out the ALBC website to see what they were all about. Thus far, I have been very disappointed at what I have seen and read. The whole bicentennial celebration amounts to nothing more than a myopic, romanticized puff-piece on Old Abe. Moreover, it is a waste of our tax dollars by the ALBC.

According to the ALBC’s mission statement, their goal is to emphasize how Lincoln’s thoughts and ideals have served “as a catalyst for strengthening freedom, democracy and equal opportunity for all”.

What? The name of Lincoln in the same sentence with the words freedom and democracy? Are they kidding?

Perhaps I should not be surprised. If one where poll the average American on who they thought the best President was, one could receive a variety of answers. Many will say George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. Others may opine that it is Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Regan. A few many even suggest that it is George W. Bush (now I understand the need for reality TV programs like A&E’s Intervention). However, the most popular answer is Abraham Lincoln.

Among friends that I have questioned, Lincoln also came out at, or near, the top of the list. When I asked why they admired Lincoln so much, some said it was because he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves. Others said that it was because he saved the country by preserving the Union. And others were not sure why.

I say that people don’t know much of their Lincoln history. They have apparently focused too much of Lincoln’s prosaic double-speak and over-looked what he actually did. They have also become intoxicated on Carl Sandberg’s rosewater drivel and taken it at face value. That’s like taking Johnny Cochran at his word on O.J. If one were to take an unbiased and unedited view of Lincoln’s political career, with the historical record as the back drop and the Constitution as the guide posts, one would inevitably see that most of what are taught about Lincoln is myth. In reality, Lincoln was one of the most ambitious and despotic tyrants ever to occupy the White House.

Lincoln had an agenda. It was to establish a strong central government in the United States. To be fair, the agenda did not start with Lincoln. It started with Alexander Hamilton, and was later championed by Henry Clay and the Whig Party. Their platform called for protectionist tariffs, government subsidies, and a centralized banking system.


Henry Clay

Unable to stably establish (read: impose) their policies via Constitutional means, they sought to subvert the Constitution and cram their system down the throats of Americans by whatever means necessary, including brute force. Modeling himself after Clay, Lincoln and the fledgling Republicans picked up the Whig torch and used it to ignite the conflict (Civil War) that would allow them to foist their agenda on the country. Unfortunately, they succeeded. The bailouts and fiscal problems we are experiencing today in this country are all part of Lincoln’s legacy.

To set the record straight, let us examine the legend and legacy about Lincoln and expose them for what they really are – myths.

Lincoln Preserved the Union
A popular belief among many is that Lincoln fought the Civil War to preserve the Union. On its face, this seems true. As a result of the Union victory, the United States was geographically maintained, but as a union? How can one forcefully coerce another to remain part of a federation, and simultaneously maintain that it is united? Sound more like Lincolnian double-speak to me.

The South had every right to secede, as many Northern states has contemplated before. The right to do so is clearly indicated in the Declaration of Independence. In reference to the tyrannical government of George III and England, Jefferson stated, “…when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security”.

What Lincoln actually did was prevent the South from exercising its right as a free and sovereign state to secede from a Union that was plundering them via its imposition of heavy tariffs, the proceeds of which were used to subsidize industrial interests in the North. Lincoln’s agenda was not union per se, but rather, to prevent to loss of revenue that the country extracted from the South. It was revenue the North needed to fuel its industrial economy. The South had protested these tariffs for decades, but to no avail. In his First Inaugural Address, Lincoln even threatened to use military force to collect the tariffs in the South refused. It must be pointed out that this was BEFORE the Civil War.

Lincoln as Constitutional Protector
This is perhaps the biggest myth of them all. Far from being its protector, Lincoln had a long track record of trying to subvert the Constitution so that his Centralizing Agenda could be imposed on the country. His actions during the war clearly illustrate that he respected no Constitutional bounds. There were no limits which he would not exceed in order to accomplish his goal. For those interested, I would encourage you to Google this topic or simply read one of the following books: The Real Lincoln, by Thomas DiLorenzo, Lincoln Reconsidered, by David Donald, or The South Was Right, by James Kennedy. Here are a few examples from these sources:

Lincoln invaded the South without Congressional approval.

Lincoln suspended habeas corpus for the duration of his Presidency. As a result, Lincoln literally had thousands of people, northerners and southerners alike, arrested and imprisoned with out trial for simply opposing his views. Those imprisoned included newspaper publishers, as well as members of Congress, such as Clement Vallandingham, who Lincoln later deported. In addition, Lincoln has several democratically elected members of the Maryland House of Delegates arrested and imprisoned, without a trial, for having secessionist sympathies.

Lincoln suppressed free elections. In 1861, Maryland was still undecided as to secession or neutrality in the war. The legislature had discussed convening in Annapolis to discuss the matter. Lincoln threatened to have the town bombarded if they did so. As such, the legislature decided to meet in Frederick. To prevent this, Lincoln ordered that only Unionist members of the legislature be allowed to attend. Members of the pro-secessions Peace Party were to be prevented from attending, by arrest if necessary. As a result, the members of the Baltimore contingent of the legislature were arrested, as were the mayor of Baltimore and Maryland Congressman Henry May. Those who made their way through and voted for the Peace Party were subject to arrest, and many had their ballots tossed.

Lincoln suppressed free speech. Lincoln declared martial law in many parts of the North, under which he had thousands of anti-war demonstrators arrested for the protesting. Moreover, Lincoln censored telegraph communications from both the North and South. Lincoln denied mail delivery to newspapers, such as New York’s Daily News, Brooklyn Eagle, Freeman’s Journal and the Journal of Commerce, which opposed his policies. Other newspapers were censored, such as the Chicago Times, Dayton Empire,Baltimore Gazette,Philadelphia Evening Journal,New Orleans Advocate,Wheeling Register, and Louisville Presbyterian, just to name a few. And several others has their offices and printing facilities destroyed by federal soldiers.

Lincoln condoned and encouraged the total war polices of his Generals, such as William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan - who both ordered their men to confiscate, burn and pillage the private property of Southern citizens.

The list goes on…

Lincoln the Emancipator
Lincoln is often credited with fighting the Civil War to free the slaves. As the Chinese would say, this is 狗屁 (pinyin: go pi; literal: dog fart; translation: BS). The fact is that Lincoln cared very little about the issue of slavery, but he did realize the power he could wield if he appeared to be concerned. But don’t take my word for it, take Honest Abe’s words.

During the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln stated, “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two…”. Throughout his Presidential campaign, Lincoln promised to uphold the Fugitive Slave Act by returning escaped slaves to their owners. Asked about what he would if emancipation became a reality, Lincoln stated on numerous occasions that he would favor colonization of slaves back to Africa, the West Indies or Central America. In his First Inaugural Address, Lincoln stated, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

What about the Emancipation Proclamation? Didn’t Lincoln intend to free the slaves with that document? Answer: No! Don’t believe me, then go and read it. In reality, the EP was nothing more that a hollow and disingenuous foray by Lincoln intended to drum up support for the then-failing Union war effort under the pretense of some noble or higher moral calling. A casual reading of the document reveals that the EP applied only to slaves in so-called rebel territories; and some states, such as Maryland, Kentucky, West Virginia and many parts of Virginia were specifically exempted. In states loyal to the Union, the EP did not apply. Even Lincoln’s own Secretary of State, William Seward, commented on the duplicity of the EP was stating, “We show our sympathy…by emancipating slaves where we can not reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.

As anyone who has the ability and willingness to look beyond the romanticized mythology surrounding Lincoln can clearly see, he was not a great President. Not even a good or mediocre one. In reality, he was a consummate politician, full of ambition and a lust for power. The ends he went to in order to attain that power and impose his toxic agenda knew no limits. As a result, he set this country on a collision course with its demise, which we are all witnessing in the flesh today.

In the simplest terms, his was a tyrant! And as the saying goes…



Sic semper tyrannis!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Not Wasting My Vote This Election!



"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." John Quincy Adams

I wasted my vote in 2004. I am ashamed to admit it, but I voted for Bush last time around. Actually, to be more precise, I voted against Kerry. I learned something very important as a result.

Don't compromise your principles!

I did! I guess I got what I paid for.

I won't make that mistake again. That's why I am voting for Chuck Baldwin.

Here is an exerpt from an article by Chuck Baldwin that sums up my feeling rather nicely.


[A] wasted vote is a vote for someone you know does not represent your own beliefs and principles. A wasted vote is a vote for someone you know will not lead the country in the way it should go. A wasted vote is a vote for the "lesser of two evils." Or, in the case of John McCain and Barack Obama, what we have is a choice between the "evil of two lessers."

Albert Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. For years now, Republicans and Democrats have been leading the country in the same basic direction: toward bigger and bigger government; more and more socialism, globalism, corporatism, and foreign interventionism; and the dismantling of constitutional liberties. Yet, voters continue to think that they are voting for "change" when they vote for a Republican or Democrat. This is truly insane!


Don't waste your vote on Obama or MaCain. Go vote for Chuck Balwin on November 4th.

Paper Is Not Money...


...it’s only money because we’re forced to use it!

Here is an exerpt from a speech given by Ron Paul back in 1983. It is just as relevant today, as it was back then. You can watch a video or read the complete transcript of the speech here.


There is no other power greater than the power over money, the power to create and contract the money supply, the power to control the purchasing power of your money.

Throughout history, this has proven to be the most sought after monopolistic power of man. It has become more sophisticated over the decades and over the centuries, more sophisticated now and more international in scope than ever before. So I see the issue of power and the control over money as being something that we cannot ignore, we must address.

I believe closely associated with this is the issue of morality as well. By what moral right we have to create purchasing power out of thin air? Whether it’s done by the creation of credit or Federal Reserve notes or whether it’s the creation of SDRs on an international scope. By what right do they do this?


Hear the speech or read the transcript here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Congress: Leadership When We Need It Most!


An Empty Congress...

The United States is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The fall-out from the sub-prime mortagage crisis is just starting to be felt. Ripples are beginning to move through the economy.

So far, one of the country's most successful investment firms (Bear Stearns) went belly-up, as did two of the biggest names on Wall Street (Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers). Then, the country's biggest mortgages lenders (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) were nationalized. A few days later, the country's largest insurace company (AIG) had to trade 79.9% of its shares for a punitive loan from the Fed that will keep it alive just long enough for all its organs to be harvested. And two days ago, the country's oldest money market fund (The Reserve Fund) "broke the buck".

What's next?

The auto industry is not doing so hot. The Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) are already sniffing around Washington for $50 million in low-interest federal loans. Then there is the airline industry? They have not completely recovered from 9/11 and more recently have been hit hard by rising fuel costs. I suppose we will end up bailing them out too.

Of course, with all these bail-outs, the taxpayers are going to end up footing the bill.

Surely our elected leaders will step forward to stand-up for the people they claim to represent. After all, it is in difficult times such as these where America shines brightest. Isn't it?

Who will step forward? Anyone? Anyone at all?

crickets chirping...

What exactly is Congress planning on doing to help solve the economic crisis were are in? As it turns out, the Congress says that it will likely adjourn next week. Yep, their packing they are bathing suits and heading to the beach.


Harry Reid's Message to Taxpayers

When asked about the Congress' plans, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stepped forward like the true leader he is, and boldly stated stated, "No One Knows What to Do"..."The [Banking and Financial Services Committees] is where the action is anyway."

And what are the "committes" doing about the problem? They passed the buck too. They turned it over to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

In other words, our elected "leaders" have turned over the responsibility for solving the biggest financial crisis since the Depression to a handful of unelected bankers whose primary loyalty lies with the Fed and its stock holders (i.e. - the guys that orchestrated the sub-prime mess in the first place).

And what do you know, Paulson and Bernanke already have a plan. Imagine that!

What is their plan, you ask? BOHICA!

Their plan is to "remove illiquid mortgage securities from companies' balance sheets." That's banker-speak for shifting the responsibility for all the bad loans to the taxpayer. That's right, we are picking up the tab yet again. And we are not talking about pocket change either. As Paulson himself said, "We're talking hundreds of billions [of dollars]". It will more likely be trillions, but then again, whose counting?

Personally, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's the same thing all over again. All the profits these now-defunct companies made along the way where pocketed by the banks and the CEO's. Now that they coffers are empty and they have debts coming out the wazoo, they have all fled the scene. Of course, they took their severence packages and their corporate bonuses with them.

And if I haven't mentioned it already, the taxpayer has to step in and pick-up the tab. Meanwhile, the bankers/CEO's are sipping champagne on the beach somewhere. And Conress it apparently getting ready to join them on vacation.

And who said there were no real leaders left in America?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vultures Clean-up on Wall Street


Photo Credit: Safaris Pictures

Another day, another take-over by the Fed!

This time its AIG (American International Group) - the world's largest insurance company.

The Fed announced yesterday that it, "will provide a two-year loan, take 79.9 percent of the New York-based company's stock and replace its management..".

And like the script goes, the taxpayers will pick-up the tab for the loan.

The government is lending AIG the money at a rate of about 11.5 percent. According to Marco Annunziata, an analyst at UniCredit SpA, " the 'punitive' interest rate on the loan makes it extremely clear that this is not a subsidy extended to keep the company afloat but rather a stranglehold that makes AIG unviable while ensuring that its obligations will be met. This is to all extents and purposes a controlled bankruptcy"

A controlled bankruptcy? In other words, the loan will give the company just enough time to sell of its assets, most likely at fire sale prices.

Expect the regular players (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citibank, Barclay's, etc) to be involved. They will descent on AIG like vultures on a rotting carcass.