Archive for July, 2010

1.47 TRILLION DOLLARS IN DEFICIT

W. House predicts record $1.47 trillion deficit

By Andrew Taylor ASSOCIATED PRESS

5:12 p.m., Friday, July 23, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — New estimates from the White House on Friday predict the budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. The government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends.

That’s actually a little better than the administration predicted in February.

The new estimates paint a grim unemployment picture as the economy experiences a relatively jobless recovery. The unemployment rate, presently averaging 9.5 percent, would average 9 percent next year under the new estimates.

The Office of Management and Budget report has ominous news for President Barack Obama should he seek re-election in 2012 — a still-high unemployment rate of 8.1 percent. That would be well above normal, which is closer to a rate of 5.5 percent to 6 percent. Private economists don’t think the unemployment rate will drop to those levels until well into this decade.

“The U.S. economy still faces strong headwinds,” the OMB report said. They include tight credit markets, a high inventory of unsold housing and retrenchment by state governments bound by balanced budget mandates. The European debt crisis has also had an impact.

“Despite these headwinds, the administration expects economic growth and job creation to continue for the rest of 2010 and to rise in 2011 and beyond,” the report said.

The gaping deficits are of increasing concern to voters. But Obama and Democrats controlling Congress are mostly taking a pass on deficit reduction this year as they await possible recommendations from Obama‘s deficit commission.

While there’s a slight improvement in the deficit for the current year compared to the administration’s February forecast, next year’s predicted $1.42 trillion worth , next year’s predicted $1.42 trillion worth of red ink — that’s 37 cents of borrowing for every dollar spent — is looking worse. It’s about $150 billion more than previously predicted, because of still-slumping tax revenues.

The current record holder is the $1.41 trillion deficit for 2009.

Economists agree that the most important measure of the deficit is against the size of the economy. Opinions vary, but many economists say a deficit of 3 percent of gross domestic product is sustainable since it would stabilize the overall debt when measured relative to the economy.

The report put the deficit at 10 percent of GDP this year and 9.2 percent of GDP next year. It would never reach the 3 percent figure under Obama‘s predictions — which underestimate war costs and depend on assumptions of tax hikes that may not materialize.

OMB Director Peter Orszag said the numbers represent a “fiscal situation that requires attention.”

Obama “has done little to confront this domestic enemy,” said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. “Washington desperately needs real leadership. We cannot continue to postpone the hard choices and sacrifices that are necessary to stop this fiscal train wreck.”

Deficits have skyrocketed since the recession took hold in 2008 and Congress responded with a massive bailout of the financial system and last year’s $862 billion stimulus measure.

“What we should be doing now is putting in place deficit reduction policies that will kick in after the economy has more fully recovered,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota. “It is an unsustainable long-term course.”

( Illegal )Immigrant groups criticize fingerprint initiative

( Illegal )Immigrant groups criticize fingerprint initiative

IVAN MORENO

July 26, 2010 3:08 PM EDT

DENVER (AP) — The federal government is rapidly expanding a program to identify illegal immigrants using fingerprints from arrests, drawing opposition from local authorities and advocates who argue the initiative amounts to an excessive dragnet.

The program has gotten less attention than Arizona’s new immigration law, but it may end up having a bigger impact because of its potential to round up and deport so many immigrants nationwide.

The San Francisco sheriff wanted nothing to do with the program, and the City Council in Washington, D.C., blocked use of the fingerprint plan in the nation’s capital. Colorado is the latest to debate the program, called Secure Communities, and (Illegal) immigrant groups have begun to speak up, telling the governor in a letter last week that the initiative will make crime victims reluctant to cooperate with police “due to fear of being drawn into the (Illegal) immigration regime.”

Under the program, the fingerprints of everyone who is booked into jail for any crime are run against FBI criminal history records and Department of Homeland Security immigration records to determine who is in the country illegally and whether they’ve been arrested previously. Most jurisdictions are not included in the program, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been expanding the initiative.

Since 2007, 467 jurisdictions in 26 states have joined. ICE has said it plans to have it in every jail in the country by 2013. Secure Communities is currently being phased into the places where the government sees as having the greatest need for it based on population estimates of illegal immigrants and crime statistics.

Since everyone arrested would be screened, the program could easily deport more people than Arizona’s new law, said Sunita Patel, an attorney who filed a lawsuit in New York against the federal government on behalf of a group worried about the program. Patel said that because illegal immigrants could be referred to ICE at the point of arrest, even before a conviction, the program can create an incentive for profiling and create a pipeline to deport more people.

“It has the potential to revolutionize (Illegal) immigration enforcement,” said Patel.

Patel filed the lawsuit on behalf of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which is concerned the program could soon come to New York. The lawsuit seeks, among other things, statistical information about who has been deported as a result of the program and what they were arrested for.

Supporters of the program argue it is helping identify dangerous criminals that would otherwise go undetected. Since Oct. 27, 2008 through the end of May, almost 2.6 million people have been screened with Secure Communities. Of those, almost 35,000 were identified as illegal immigrants previously arrested or convicted for the most serious crimes, including murder and rape, ICE said Thursday. More than 205,000 who were identified as illegal immigrants had arrest records for less serious crimes.

In Ohio, Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones praised program, which was implemented in his jurisdiction earlier this month.

“It’s really a heaven-sent for us,” Jones said. He said the program helps solve the problem police often have of not knowing whether someone they arrested has a criminal history and is in the country illegally.

“I don’t want them in my community,” Jones said. “I’ve got enough homegrown criminals here.”

Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesman, said Secure Communities is a way for law enforcement to identify illegal immigrants after their arrest at no additional cost to local jurisdictions. Jones agreed.

“We arrest these people anyway,” he said. “All it does is help us deport people who shouldn’t be here.”

Rusnok said ICE created the program after Congress directed the agency to improve the way it identifies and deports illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. ICE has gotten $550 million for the program since 2008, Rusnok said.

Rusnok said the only place he knows of that has requested not to be a part of Secure Communities is San Francisco, which began the program June 8. Eileen Hirst, the chief of staff for San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, said it happened “without our input or approval.”  Hirst said the sheriff thought Secure Communities cast too wide a net and worried that it would sweep up U.S. citizens and minor offenders, such as people who commit traffic infractions but miss their court hearings. Hirst also said the program goes against San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy that calls for authorities to only report foreign-born suspects booked for felonies.

“Now, we’re reporting every single individual who comes into our custody and gets fingerprinted,” Hirst said.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown denied Hennessey’s request to opt out. Brown said that prior to Secure Communities, illegal immigrants with criminal histories were often released before their status was discovered.

This month, Washington, D.C., police decided not to pursue the program because the City Council introduced a bill that would prohibit authorities from sharing arrest data with ICE out of concern for immigrants’ civil rights. Matthew Bromeland, special assistant to the police chief, said police wanted the program and were talking with ICE about how address concerns from (Illegal) immigrant advocates before the bill forced them to halt negotiations.

Colorado officials became interested in the program after an illegal immigrant from Guatemala with a long criminal record was accused of causing a car crash at a suburban Denver ice-cream shop, killing two women in a truck and a 3-year-old inside the store. Authorities say the illegal immigrant, Francis M. Hernandez, stayed off ICE’s radar because he conned police with 12 aliases and two different dates of birth.

A task-force assembled after the crash recommended Secure Communities as a solution.

Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, said Ritter recognizes that other states have had issues with the program and he wants to take time to consider the concerns raised by (Illegal) immigrant rights groups before deciding “how or if to move forward.”

The Colorado (Illegal) Immigrant Rights Coalition said in its letter to the governor that the Secure Communities is “inherently flawed and should not be implemented.” CIRC said one of its main concerns is that in cases of domestic violence, where both parties may be taken into custody while authorities investigate a case, victims may feel reluctant to report a crime out of fear that their illegal status will be discovered.

Law-Enforcement-Free Sanctuaries

Hans A. von Spakovsky

Law-Enforcement-Free Sanctuaries

The Obama administration will sue Arizona for trying to help Washington enforce federal immigration laws, but flatly rejects the notion of suing sanctuary cities that blatantly defy those same laws. That announcement two weeks ago revealed the hypocrisy and utter contempt for the rule of law rampant in Eric Holder’s Justice Department.

It was the latest example of the Department letting partisan politics, rather than the interests of justice and the impartial enforcement of the law, drive its legal decisions. In this instance, it both threatens national security and undermines public confidence in our legal system.

The very weakness of the Department’s legal arguments in the Arizona suit betrays its political genesis. As the brief filed on behalf of Arizona by nine other states persuasively argues, Arizona is not interfering with federal authority: it has neither created new categories of aliens nor attempted to independently determine the immigration status of aliens. Arizona’s law simply requires local law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of individuals arrested for other reasons. This is exactly the regulatory scheme of concurrent enforcement envisioned by federal immigration law.

The Justice Department’s suit directly contradicts the 2005 Supreme Court decision in Muehler v. Mena. In that case, all nine justices upheld the right of local police officers to question a detained individual’s immigration status while a search warrant was being executed. The suit also flies in the face of Estrada v. Rhode Island, in which the First Circuit Court of Appeals this February upheld a state trooper’s questioning of immigration status during a traffic stop. This is the exact policy being implemented in Arizona.

Federal courts have long upheld the power of state law enforcement officers to arrest those who violate federal law, as long as it is also a violation of state law, including immigration laws. The inherent authority of local police to arrest immigration violators was outlined in 2002 in a legal memorandum issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Yet Attorney General Holder has filed a lawsuit making claims completely at odds with an opinion issued by his own department.

Holder’s suit also conflicts directly with federal immigration law. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. §1373) specifically mandates that no federal, state, or local government can “prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service [now Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE], information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual,” a provision upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1999. Congress wanted local governments to get information on immigration status from the federal government – and that is exactly what the Arizona law requires for anyone arrested in the state. Yet Holder is trying to prevent Arizona officials from checking “the citizenship or immigration status” of “any individual.”

Now we’re awaiting a ruling by a federal judge on the Justice Department’s request for a temporary injunction to stop the law from going into effect on Thursday. It’s clear, though, that the only way that judge could possibly rule in the Department’s favor is by ignoring the law and this precedent.

Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler asserts that Arizona is “actively” interfering with federal law while sanctuary cities are just not using their resources to enforce federal law. This bogus claim displays fundamental ignorance of these federal legal requirements. Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary committee and the chief author of the 1996 immigration law, rightly calls it “absurd.” Cities like San Francisco not only do not enforce federal immigration laws, some violate it by protecting aliens from deportation and refusing to cooperate with or provide information to immigration officials.

As the nine states note in their brief, the Justice Department is trying to negate the “preexisting power of the States to verify a person’s immigration status and similarly seeks to reject the assistance that the States can lawfully provide to the Federal government.” Holder’s claim that Arizona is interfering with federal power to regulate immigration is near frivolous.

Arizona simply requires that law enforcement personnel (1) ascertain the immigration status of people they have lawfully detained for some other reason and (2) report to the federal government the presence of any detainee determined to be here illegally. If the Obama administration wants to ignore that information and reject that assistance, it has that option. The only possible “interference” with federal power is the risk that the feds might be publicly embarrassed by a policy of non-enforcement. Apparently the White House and DOJ consider embarrassment a federal offense.

Holder makes one further — yet equally absurd — claim: that by trying to deter the movement of illegal aliens into Arizona, the state is restricting interstate commerce and thus violates the Commerce Clause. How can deterring the entry of people who have no legal right to enter possibly violate interstate commerce? It is the same as saying that — notwithstanding federal laws that bar importation of heroin — a state that busts heroin traffickers is flouting the Commerce Clause.

Federal law stipulates that any person who “conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection,” an illegal alien is committing a crime. It is also criminal just to “encourage” residence by illegal aliens. Yet sanctuary cities like San Francisco have enacted formal policies that embrace all these illegal acts. Such policies lead directly to further crimes, such as the vicious murder of a father and his two sons on a San Francisco street. The killer was an illegal alien with two prior felony convictions — yet on neither occasion did San Francisco authorities notify the feds of his presence. Had they done so, he would not have been able to gun down Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16, as they sat in their car on June 16, 2008.

Holder’s refusal to sue sanctuary cities is an abrogation of his responsibility as the nation’s chief federal law enforcement officer. Unlike Arizona, many of these cities have policies that violate federal law.

The Obama administration claims Arizona’s law will “disrupt federal immigration enforcement.” But the only thing it could possibly disrupt is federal non-enforcement. As the elections approach, Holder’s suit may help gin up enthusiasm among the president’s more radical political allies, such as La Raza. But using the law enforcement powers of the federal government to achieve political ends is a dangerous abuse of power.

New financial regulation reform bill exempts SEC from FOIA

So here is one more ” We have to pass the bill to know what’s in it.” There is no end to the trash we can expect from the Democrats. I have to ask. 

 Is there one Democrat in Congress who isn’t a flaming socialist bent on destroying this country?

New financial regulation reform bill exempts SEC from FOIA

 

Morrisseyposted at 10:55 am on July 28, 2010 by Ed

 When Barack Obama signed the new financial-regulation reform bill into law, its supporters claimed it as a victory for transparency and accountability.  That may be true for Wall Street, although debatable, but it’s not true for government and the regulatory regime it enhanced.  The SEC now claims that the bill has given them an exemption from Freedom of Information Act requests, the very device by which citizens and media force transparency in the halls of power:

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from “surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities.” Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings.”

The SEC cited the new law Tuesday in a FOIA action brought by FOX Business Network. Steven Mintz, founding partner of law firm Mintz & Gold LLC in New York, lamented what he described as “the backroom deal that was cut between Congress and the SEC to keep the  SEC’s failures secret. The only losers here are the American public.”

The Dodd-Frank bill had a lot of bad ideas rolled into it, but this may be the worst.  As Mintz notes, the next time a Bernie Madoff-type scam occurs, the American public won’t have any idea about it, or about the SEC’s efforts to prevent it.  The use of FOIA has uncovered many problems at the SEC, which is undoubtedly why Chris Dodd and Barney Frank wanted the exemption.  Among the cases listed by Fox Business as having been boosted by FOIA requests are:

  • March 2009 – Fox used FOIA to discover that the SEC had investigated Madoff and R. Allen Stanford, but failed to follow through on prosecution in time to save investors.

 

  • 2009 – Fox again used FOIA to get records showing that the Fed knew AIG execs would get their bonuses under the bailout legislation proposed by Congress.

 

  • SEC whistleblower Gary Aguirre forced the SEC to release documents through FOIA requests that showed he was correct in accusing the agency of interfering in an investigation of Pequot Asset Management — and allowed him to get a settlement for wrongful termination.

None of these would have happened without FOIA.  Government has only one purpose in issuing FOIA exemptions — opacity.  Some functions in government require secrecy, but those should be limited to acute national security operations and other such public-safety tasks (such as raw FBI files, for instance).

Barack Obama and the Democrats don’t want people to see how the SEC does its work, and that should worry everyone who has watched the SEC blow its regulatory responsibilities over the last few years.  This is an agency that needs more oversight, not less, especially with its increased power and authority.

Journolisters debate, endorse Gov’t control of Fox News

Journolisters debate, endorse gov’t control of Fox News

posted at 8:48 am on July 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
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Tucker Carlson has another Journolist exclusive today for the Daily Caller, and this one rates high on the irony meter.  Jonathan Strong starts off his report with the assessments of the Tea Party as fascists, if not flat-out Nazis, by Journolist members such as Bloomberg News’ Ryan Donmoyer, who clearly needs a refresher course on early 20th-century history with his insipid confusion of normal political rallies to the Beer Hall Putsch and the SA.  We’ll get back to that in a moment, because the real meat comes on page 2, where reporters from Time Magazine and the British newspaper Guardian endorse a “tough legal framework” designed to silence Fox News:

The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.

“I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tough legal framework.” Davies, a Brit, frequently argued the United States needed stricter libel laws.

“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”

Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “Do you really want the political parties/white house picking which media operations are news operations and which are a less respectable hybrid of news and political advocacy?

But Zasloff stuck to his position. “I think that they are doing that anyway; they leak to whom they want to for political purposes,” he wrote. “If this means that some White House reporters don’t get a press pass for the press secretary’s daily briefing and that this means that they actually have to, you know, do some reporting and analysis instead of repeating press releases, then I’ll take that risk.”

Scherer seemed alarmed. “So we would have press briefings in which only media organizations that are deemed by the briefer to be acceptable are invited to attend?”

How did the rest of the liberal journalists react to the idea of either government regulation of the press or outright squelching of a media organization?  Strong includes the reaction from The New Republic’s John Judis, who said that “pre-Fox,” he would have shared Scherer’s alarm at a White House manipulating media access.  In  the Obama administration, however, the representative of “the inflight magazine of Air Force One” suddenly sees the tactical advantages of such a strategy.

Zasloff eventually offered a different strategy:

I hate to open this can of worms, but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their [Fox News] broadcasting permit once it expires?

I’m actually unclear on whether Fox News has an FCC license, since it uses satellite transmission rather than actual broadcast through local affiliates.  Usually, it’s the affiliates themselves that have to get the licenses, not the network whose content they broadcast, and Fox News doesn’t use traditional TV stations for its content.  But that’s a more esoteric point.  The point is that Zasloff has no trouble letting government determine whether a news organization should be allowed to publish, apparently based on nothing more than its discomfort with the news itself.  Not only does this sound as though Zasloff needs a refresher course on Constitutional law and free speech, it also sounds like an endorsement for fascism, in which governments pick and choose which businesses are allowed to exist based on their level of cooperation with the government.

Let’s get back to Donmoyer, and his historical illiteracy.  Most of the quotes regarding the supposedly fascist quality of the Tea Party movement come from people outside of traditional journalistic roles (a blogger and an academic), but Donmoyer is ostensibly an objective news reporter covering Capitol Hill and the White House for Bloomberg.   On Journolist, however, he lets his paranoia show:

“You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts?” asked Bloomberg’s Ryan Donmoyer. “Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.”

The Brownshirts were the SA, armed thugs organized into a paramilitary structure by the Nazis (who later were deemed expendable, with most of their leadership murdered by the SS after the Nazis took power).  The term “Brownshirts” came from the uniform they wore in public.  They conducted massive levels of violence against their political opponents, especially the Communists, but hardly limited to them.  They took their direction from the very hierarchical Nazi Party leadership.  In short, they’re nothing like anything on the American scene on either side of the political divide, not even the anarchists who conducted real violence in St. Paul during the Republican convention.  Donmoyer’s education on this period seems to have been gleaned from comic books and paranoid fantasies in progressive blogs.

And when did Tea Parties start “getting violent”?  The only violence of note at any of the Tea Party rallies has been the violence perpetrated against the Tea Party activists, such as when union thugs beat up Kenneth Gladney in St. Louis.  Shouldn’t a reporter in an objective news capacity check his assumptions before painting Americans as Nazis simply for grassroots political activity?

The irony here, of course, is that these journalists fret over the fascism they see while gleefully looking for ways to get the government to silence people they don’t like.  They’re so desperate to find the mote in the eyes of their opponents that they completely miss the log in their own.  And that wouldn’t be anything more than human nature, if it wasn’t for the fact that media outlets like Time, Bloomberg, and Guardian hire these people to deliver the news.

Addendum: I’m going to add one more point that will probably not be terribly popular, but still should be kept in mind.  Painting the entire journalistic profession as evil and conspiratorial because the Journolisters either participate in proposing smears and government totalitarianism or silently give implicit consent is as unfair as painting the Tea Party movement as racist because a few neo-Nazis and LaRouchies show up as provocateurs.  The Journolist isn’t a random sample; it was self-selecting among political activists masquerading as journalists.

That doesn’t mean that this kind of activity was limited to Journolisters, either, but we should stick to the evidence at hand.  The Journolist appears to have plenty of delights to keep us busy for a while.

 This is an on going story more to follow.

Race Played Role in Obama Car Dealer Closures

July 22, 2010

Race Played Role in Obama Car Dealer Closures

By William Tate

The Obama administration, already under fire

for unprecedented allegations of racial bias, faces a new bias claim from a most unlikely source: one of the administration’s own inspectors general.
 

 

Decisions on which car dealerships to close as part of the auto industry bailout — closures the Obama administration forced on General Motors and Chrysler — were based in part on race and gender, according to a report by Troubled Asset Relief Program Special Inspector General Neal M. Barofsky.

 
 

 

[D]ealerships were retained because they were recently appointed, were key wholesale parts dealers, or were minority- or woman-owned dealerships. [Emphasis added.]

 

Thus, to meet numbers forced on them by the Obama administration, General Motors and Chrysler were forced to shutter other, potentially more viable, dealerships. The livelihood of potentially tens of thousands of families was thus eliminated simply because their dealerships were not minority- or woman-owned.

 

As has been widely reported, the Inspector General’s study skewered the Obama Gang for strong-arming the companies into closing 2,000 dealerships, costing an estimated 100,000 people their jobs during a recession.

 

But the news media has ignored key elements of Barofsky’s report — elements that are far more damaging, if possible, to Obama. As we reported earlier in the week, a top Obama official, manufacturing czar and “Auto Team” leader Ron Bloom admitted that the dealerships could have been kept open, saving those jobs, “but that doing so would have been inconsistent with the President’s mandate for ‘shared sacrifice.'”

 

Barofsky says the administration insisted on the closings even though a GM official told him

 
 

 

that GM would usually save ‘not one damn cent’ by closing any particular dealership. … Furthermore, a GM official stated that removing a dealership from the network does not save money for GM — it might even cost GM money — and that savings cannot be attributed or assigned to any one dealership.

 

And a reading of the IG’s study makes plain that some dealership closings forced by the administration were based largely on politics.

 

The report is highly critical of how dealerships were selected for closure, or termination. Barofsky notes that

 
 

 

experts said that while metro areas were oversaturated with GM and Chrysler dealerships and reductions were needed in these areas, this was not the case in rural areas where GM and Chrysler had an advantage over their import competitors. […]

 

Although sales volume in small towns may be lower, the cost of operating dealerships in small towns is lower as well.  In addition, closing dealerships in small towns could ruin the “historic relationship” that GM has had with residents in small towns and force buyers to drive to metro areas, where there are more competitors. In the worst case, the loss of market share in small and medium-sized markets could “jeopardize the return to profitability” for GM and Chrysler, the (the Center for Automotive Research) representative said.  Representatives from the National Automobile Dealers Association also concurred that dealership terminations would cause GM and Chrysler to lose market share in rural areas. [Emphasis added.]

 

Nevertheless, as Barofsky notes, “ultimately close to half of all of the GM dealerships identified for termination were in rural areas.”

 

That is where raw, hard, sewage-filled Chicago politics came into play.

 

Records indicate that in 2008, Obama lost the vote totals in the nation’s 1,300 rural counties by nearly 80%.

 

The Obama administration’s insistence on radical numbers of closures ended up shuttering dealerships in those rural areas disproportionately, while dealerships and jobs in metro areas — Obama’s geographical base — were left open.

 

Additionally, it has been widely theorized that dealers targeted for closure as a result of Obama’s interference were predominantly those who donated campaign contributions to Republicans. Although evidence to date is largely anecdotal, given what we’ve already reported about the Obama administration’s handling of the auto bailout, such speculation does have considerable grounds for support.

 

While that last point is leaves room for debate, the details contained in the Barofsky report are not. As Barofsky points out, the Obama administration was given an advance copy, and “Treasury [the Obama Treasury Department] might not agree with how the audit’s conclusions portray the Auto Team’s decision making or with the lessons that SIGTARP has drawn from those facts, but it should be made clear that Treasury has not challenged the essential underlying facts upon which those conclusions are based.”

 

Included among those undisputed facts:

 
 

 

-“[D]ealerships were retained because they were … minority- or woman-owned dealerships”;

 

-Thousands of jobs were lost, unnecessarily, due specifically to Obama’s “mandate for shared sacrifice”;

 

-A disproportionate number of Obama-forced closings were of rural dealerships, in areas unfriendly to Obama, even though such closures could “jeopardize the return to profitability” for GM and Chrysler.

 

The media, of course, remain mute about these serious allegations in the Barofsky report. They have limited their coverage to the job loss numbers and tried to place the blame on Treasury Secretary Turbo-Tax Tim Geithner.

 

For now.

 

Before long, we’ll be reading that it was somehow Bush’s fault

General Motors: You’ve Got Low Credit Scores? No Problem

General Motors: You’ve Got Low Credit Scores? No Problem

posted at 11:00 am on July 22, 2010 by Rovin
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Your Tax Dollars at Work 

In the spirit of the Community Reinvestment Act, (and according to AP), General Motors is in the process of purchasing a financing company, AmeriCredit Corp. to make it easier for people to purchase new vehicles with low credit scores. 

Did we learn nothing from the disaster of the housing market that plunged this nation into a massive recession? Instead, General Motors, (60% of which is owned by you, the taxpayer), is planning on continuing the sins of our past: 

General Motors to buy AmeriCredit Corp. for $3.5B  

The Associated Press 

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. says it will acquire auto financing company AmeriCredit Corp. so it can increase leasing and make more loans to buyers with low credit scores.  The Detroit automaker says it will pay $3.5 billion to buy all of AmeriCredit’s stock at $24.50 per share — a 24 percent premium over Wednesday’s close.  It expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter. LINK 

 No problem, right? Wrong! If GM, (our car sales company), provides loans that will force competitors to lower their standards for the same loans, we, the taxpayers will be on the hook again to pick up the tab when these loan obligations can not be met. 

Who’s going to pick up the tab, Fannie and Freddie, that pesky little government clearing house that feeds on the Treasury to the tune of a five trillion dollar debt? 

These are the same irresponsible policies that brought this nation to its current status. You would think the people running “government motors” would try to avoid extending credit to a portion of the market that are struggling to keep food on the table and the monthly bills current. Instead, the intent of General Motors appears to facilitate similar lending practices that put unqualified buyers into homes. If this is what the administration means by encouraging banks and credit services to “loosen credit”, some one’s making a big mistake—again. And guess who will pick up the tab in the end?

Sub-prime ponzi scheme, rinse and repeat.

 Any one smell another government bailout? Or is this another form of redistribution?

(Note: The first and the last full paragraphs were edited for clarification)

It’s Really About Controlling Our Lives

Within days, Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to bring sweeping energy and climate legislation to the Senate floor. He won’t call it cap-and-trade or cap-tax-and-trade, and certainly not a carbon tax.

“Those words are not in my vocabulary,” he says. “We’re going to work on pollution.”

Senator Reid’s twenty-pound bill will be laden with lofty language about “clean energy,” energy conservation, “green jobs,” reducing “dangerous” power plant emissions, ending our “addiction” to oil, creating a renewable economy, and saving the planet from “imminent climate disaster.”

Environmental euphemisms aside, however, the legislation is really about imposing national “low carbon fuel standards” (LCFS) and forcing dramatic reductions in the use of oil, natural gas and especially coal. It would expand on existing laws, regulations and decrees, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that carbon dioxide somehow “endangers human health and welfare,” EPA’s June 30 invalidation of flexible air quality permits for Texas refineries, Interior Secretary Salazar’s offshore drilling moratorium, multiple state and federal renewable energy standards and mandates, and various state and regional “greenhouse gas initiatives” that restrict emissions from power plants and industrial facilities.

The EPA, Energy Information Administration, White House and Mr. Reid insist that America can easily limit hydrocarbon use and switch to “eco-friendly” wind, solar and biofuel energy – at low cost and minimal harm to families, businesses and jobs. However, their self-serving, other-planet claims are flatly contradicted by a host of studies by reputable analysts with a solid history of integrity and accuracy.

The most recent is a June 17 report by Charles River Associates, examining the “Economic and Energy Impacts Resulting from a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.” Prepared for the Consumer Energy Alliance, the study looked only at transportation fuels. (Including coal for electricity generation and other uses would dramatically increase its cost estimates.) Nevertheless, the study found that national standards implemented in 2015 would:

* Increase average gasoline and diesel prices by up to 80% in five years, and 170% within ten years – sending regular gasoline prices soaring to nearly $5 per gallon by 2020 and $7.50 per gallon by 2025 (assuming other international price pressures remain unchanged);

* Spur sharp cost increases for petrochemicals in plastics, pharmaceuticals and other vital products;

* Reduce employment and consumer demand significantly, by increasing the cost of transporting people, equipment, supplies, raw materials, food and finished products – for work, school, healthcare, business, manufacturing, vacation and other purposes;

* Cut business investment by $200-320 billion annually, compared to the no-LCFS baseline;

* Slash gross domestic product by $410-750 billion annually by 2025;

* Cost 2.3 million to 4.5 million American jobs, including up to 1.5 million in manufacturing and 3.0 million in the service sector; and

* Force household purchasing power downward by $1,400 to $2,400 for a family of four by 2025 – impacting minority, elderly and other low and fixed income families worst of all.

None of this should be surprising. As President Obama himself has said, the very purpose of energy and climate policies like LCFS is to ensure that prices “necessarily skyrocket.” It is to force people to use less fuel, compel companies to change power generation and use practices, drive coal companies and utilities out of business, and force the development of new fuels and technologies that may or may not work.

All on the premise that we waste energy and are causing a planetary meltdown. Climate change is real, and has been since the dawn of time. But there is no consensus and no evidence that carbon dioxide is the primary factor in global warming and cooling, or that humans are causing a climate disaster. Assertions, assumptions and computer models are not evidence, and cannot justify what Harry Reid is pushing.

Restricting, taxing, regulating and penalizing the hydrocarbon fuels that provide 85% of America’s energy would severely hobble our free enterprise system and impact jobs, families, living standards, and basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Doubling the price of electricity in our industrial heartland – where coal provides 50-95% of all electrical power – would kill millions of jobs, and send millions of families into fuel poverty.

Renewable energy is intermittent, unreliable, land and raw materials intensive, and unsustainable without government mandates and constant infusions of “other people’s money” in the form of subsidies. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus might be ecstatic that an F/A-18 fighter jet recently flew on biofuel av-gas. But brewing $65-per-gallon fuel from camelina is hardly sustainable, even for the Defense Department.

As to the great utopian vision of “green jobs,” Spain’s subsidy-driven wind turbine industry cost the country 2.2 jobs for every eco-job it created, according to studies by Dr. Gabriel Calzada. And when the global recession hit, the subsidies dried up, the turbine-making jobs disappeared, and hundreds of wind and solar companies were driven to the precipice of bankruptcy.

Wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars require “rare earth” metals. America’s probable deposits are locked up in wilderness areas, which leaves China as the world’s predominant producer. So the bulk of the green manufacturing jobs will be in China – while we will get the temp jobs hauling, assembling and installing components made in the Middle Kingdom and shipped to the United States.

Thus, China, India and Brazil will continue to surge forward on plentiful coal and metals, cheap labor, affordable electricity, a can-do attitude, laxer environmental standards, and a rational refusal to accept legally binding carbon dioxide reductions. Thus, even if the USA went cold turkey, and completely shut down all greenhouse-gas-spewing factories, homes and cars, these developing country emissions would overwhelm our sacrifices within a few months, and atmospheric CO2 levels would continue to rise.

And for what? Cars and power plants are already 90% cleaner than their 1970s era predecessors. Climate change is moderate and primarily natural. Mr. Reid’s formula is all pain, for no environmental gain.

Even bright high school students understand this. US senators certainly ought to. But Harry Reid is hoping 60 do not. That’s the magic number he needs to regulate not just one-sixth of our economy (the healthcare sector), but 100% – because nothing happens without abundant, reliable, affordable energy. And enacting any form of fuel rationing legislation will put Congress and bureaucrats firmly in charge of our lives, liberties, hopes, dreams and rights.

Either Mr. Reid’s cadre doesn’t understand these basic facts – or they are so blinded by power, ambition, ideology and desire to control that they willfully ignore them.

Climate change truly is a huge moral issue. What the Political-Activist-Industrial Complex is doing in the name of preventing climate change and creating a green economy is un-American and immoral. Applied to poor countries, to restrict their access to abundant, reliable energy, it becomes lethal and inhumane. It can no longer be tolerated.

Be alert. Speak out. And beware of energy and climate dictators and charlatans, and any lame duck session that may come after citizens vote to replace many of the control freaks on Capitol Hill.

EMAIL PAUL DRIESSEN | COLUMNIST’S ARCHIVE

 From Townhall.com

 Paul Driessen

Judicial Watch Corruption Chronicles

Obama Family Cook Named Policy Adviser

In a comical move even for a czar-happy president who has rewarded dozens of cronies with distinguished titles, the White House has named the Obama’s personal Chicago cook as “Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives.”

It’s no joke, even though is sounds like a bad one. The Chicago chef’s rapid ascension, reported this week by a conservative Washington D.C. newspaper, has been kept under the radar for the last month. Sam Kass went from being a 20-something, Windy City gourmet cook—privately paid by the Obama’s to feed them—to big-time White House adviser in a matter of months.

In between, Michelle Obama made Kass a “Food Initiative Coordinator” for her new healthy nutrition program which is supposed to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation, especially in the nation’s inner cities. The First Lady claims that childhood obesity is a threat to national security and a crisis equivalent to AIDS and youth violence.

Because it’s such a dire situation, she has convinced her husband’s administration to spend $400 million a year to bring “healthy foods” to low-income neighborhoods and $10 billion to revise a decades-old federal measure that already feeds tens of millions of poor children at school for free.

This culinary revolution no doubt requires a trusted senior policy adviser—like Kass—who is an expert in healthy cuisine. The First Lady refers to her cook as a “partner in crime” and says it’s “just pretty powerful” to see what started out as talk in her South Side Chicago kitchen turn into a major initiative that “hopefully will change the way we think as a country.”

Makes you wonder what Kass, who also doubles as a White House chef, has been putting in the Obama’s food all these years. Incidentally, the “most transparent administration” in history doesn’t want Americans to know how much the famous family cook earns. Although he’s an important administration wonk, Kass’s salary is excluded in the Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff because he’s considered “residence staff” and those salaries don’t need to be disclosed.

Does this make you feel better

Agency applied political litmus test to data requests

By Ted Bridis
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, according to 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by the Associated Press.

The department abandoned the practice after the AP Press investigated. The Office of Inspector General is trying to determine whether political advisers acted improperly.

The Freedom of Information Act is designed to be insulated from political considerations. But in July 2009, Homeland Security introduced a directive requiring a wide range of information to be vetted by political appointees.

These special reviews at times delayed the release of information to Congress, watchdog groups and the news media for weeks, even though the directive specified the reviews should take no more than three days.

The foot-dragging reached a point that officials worried the department would get sued, one e-mail shows.

“We need to make sure that we flip these ASAP,” the agency’s director of disclosure, Catherine Papoi, wrote to two of Secretary Janet Napolitano’s staffers.

Career employees were ordered to provide Napolitano’s political staff with information about people who asked for records, such as where they lived and whether they were reporters.