Obamoses

Still think Obama is a friend of Israel?

/Michael Ramirez

See also:
Our World: Where Obama is leading Israel
Obama stopped what was left of the peace process
Obama’s mistaken approach to peace
Is support for pro-Israel lobby waning?
Poll: US social media users favor Israel
What are the options to derail Palestinian statehood at the U.N.?
Netanyahu had the courage to stand up to Obama

From Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, to Rashid Khalidi, Obama has close past associations with all sorts of anti-Semites.

/Obama: ‘Judge me by the people who surround me’

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Got Health Care?

/we are so [expletive deleted]

As They Say, Relax And Enjoy It

toon072209

toon072409

toon072109

Michael Ramirez is a Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, who nails everything political to the wall with a pneumatic gun.

You control zero branches of government.

/how creative are you prepared to get to stop the looming “duty to die” lunacy

Where’s The Fire?

Reformers’ Claims Just Don’t Add Up

Health Reform: Many extravagant claims have been made on behalf of the various health care “reforms” now emerging from Congress and the White House. But on closer inspection, virtually all prove to be false.

Yet even as many Americans start to have second thoughts about our government’s possible takeover of the health care system, Congress is rushing to make it happen.

On Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would radically change our current system and expand coverage for the uninsured. The action came a day after the head of the Congressional Budget Office said none of the plans under review would slow health care spending. None of them.

Still, lawmakers and the White House press on, relying on GOP weakness in the House and a new veto-proof majority in the Senate. They’re also relying on a lack of awareness that claims made on behalf of national health care may be mostly false. Among them:

• America has a health care crisis.

No, we don’t. Forty-seven million people lack insurance. Of the remaining 85% of the population, or 258 million people, polls show high satisfaction with the current coverage. Indeed, a 2006 poll by ABC News, the Kaiser Family Foundation and USA Today found 89% of Americans were happy with their own health care.

As for the estimated 47 million not covered by health insurance, 20 million can afford to buy it, according to a study by former CBO Director June O’Neill. Most of the other 27 million are single and under 35, with as many as a third illegal aliens.

When it’s all whittled down, as few as 12 million are unable to buy insurance — less than 4% of a population of 305 million. For this we need to nationalize 17% of our nation’s $14 trillion economy and change the current care that 89% like?

• Health care reform will save money.

Few of the plans now coming out of Congress will save anything, says the CBO’s current chief, Douglas Elmendorf. In fact, he says, they’ll lead to substantially higher costs in the future — costs that will be “unsustainable.”

As it is, estimates for reforming health care range from $1 trillion to $3.6 trillion. Much will be spent on subsidies to make a so-called public option more attractive to consumers than private plans.

To pay for it, the president has suggested about $600 billion in new taxes, meaning that $500 billion to $2.1 trillion in new health care spending over the next decade will be unfunded. This could push up the nation’s already soaring deficit, expected to reach $10 trillion through 2019 without health care reform. Massive new tax hikes will probably be needed to close the gap.

• Only the rich will pay for reform.

The 5.4% surtax on millionaires the president is pushing gets all the attention, but everyone down to $280,000 in income will pay more. Doesn’t that still leave out the middle class and poor? Sorry. Workers who decline to take part will pay a tax of up to 2% of earnings. And small-businesses must pony up 8% of their payrolls.

The poor and middle class must pay in other ways, without knowing it. The biggest hit will be on small businesses, which, due to new payroll taxes, will be less likely to hire workers. Today’s 9.5% jobless rate may become a permanent feature of our economy — just as it is in Europe, where nationalized health care is common.

• Government-run health care produces better results.

The biggest potential lie of all. America has the best health care in the world, and most Americans know it. Yet we hear that many “go without care” while in nationalized systems it is “guaranteed.”

U.S. life expectancy in 2006 was 78.1 years, ranking behind 30 other countries. So if our health care is so good, why don’t we live as long as everyone else?

Three reasons. One, our homicide rate is two to three times higher than other countries. Two, because we drive so much, we have a higher fatality rate on our roads — 14.24 fatalities per 100,000 people vs. 6.19 in Germany, 7.4 in France and 9.25 in Canada. Three, Americans eat far more than those in other nations, contributing to higher levels of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

These are diseases of wealth, not the fault of the health care system. A study by Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa found that if you subtract our higher death rates from accidents and homicide, Americans actually live longer than people in other countries.

In countries with nationalized care, medical outcomes are often catastrophically worse. Take breast cancer. According to the Heritage Foundation, breast cancer mortality in Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.’s rate is 88% higher. For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457% higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.

But what about the health care paradise to our north? Americans have almost uniformly better outcomes and lower mortality rates than Canada, where breast cancer mortality is 9% higher, prostate cancer 184% higher and colon cancer 10% higher.

Then there are the waiting lists. With a population just under that of California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the list is 1.8 million deep.

Universal health care, wrote Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute in her excellent book, “Top Ten Myths Of American Health Care,” will inevitably result in “higher taxes, forced premium payments, one-size-fits-all policies, long waiting lists, rationed care and limited access to cutting-edge medicine.”

Before you sign up, you might want to check with people in countries that have the kind of system the White House and Congress have in mind. Recent polls show that more than 70% of Germans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders think their systems need “complete rebuilding” or “fundamental change.”

• The poor lack care.

Many may lack insurance, but that doesn’t mean they lack care. The law says anyone who walks into a hospital emergency room must be treated. America has 37 million people in poverty, but Medicaid covers 55 million — at a cost of $350 billion a year.

Moreover, as many as 11 million of the uninsured qualify for programs for the indigent, including Medicaid and SCHIP. But for some reason, they don’t sign up. Are they likely to sign up for the “public option” when it’s made available?

See also:
Investors Business Daily
Congressional Budget Office
Heritage Foundation
House Ways And Means Committee
Kaiser Family Foundation
Pacific Research Institute

Just the facts ma’am. Make up your own mind. But remember, you only have TWO WEEKS TO DO SO OR THERE WILL BE CATACLYSMIC HEALTHCARE DISASTER!

Stay strong, fight back, hold your ground.

/in January 1945, the Germans were desperate to take Bastogne and the surrounding terrain, we won

The Banks And Car Companies Are Not Enough!

Obama must have more power, more control! He must reign over everything, the entire U.S. economy belongs to him! You cannot be trusted with capitalism and free markets. Obama knows best and Obama has spoken.

New Foundation, New Stability

Over the past decades, government has often haphazardly weakened and jettisoned the regulations on the financial sector that were designed to bring stability to the economy. The result has been what the President refers to as a “bubble and bust” economy, leaving American families at the whim of greed and excess far beyond their control and hundreds of miles away. As the President said today, it is indisputable that this peril was a leading contributor the economic breakdown America has seen over the past years.

Today marked a culmination of a months-long process in which the President consulted with the most expert and experienced regulators, leaders in Congress, and his entire economic team to craft a revamping of the system, a “new foundation” on which our economy can grow for decades to come. Many of them joined him today as he announced the principles they had agreed upon.

The President began his remarks by diagnosing the problem:

In recent years, financial innovators, seeking an edge in the marketplace, produced a huge variety of new and complex financial instruments. And these products, such as asset-based securities, were designed to spread risk, but unfortunately ended up concentrating risk. Loans were sold to banks, banks packaged these loans into securities, investors bought these securities often with little insight into the risks to which they were exposed. And it was easy money — while it lasted. But these schemes were built on a pile of sand. And as the appetite for these products grew, lenders lowered standards to attract new borrowers. Many Americans bought homes and borrowed money without being adequately informed of the terms, and often without accepting the responsibilities.

Meanwhile, executive compensation — unmoored from long-term performance or even reality — rewarded recklessness rather than responsibility. And this wasn’t just the failure of individuals; this was a failure of the entire system. The actions of many firms escaped scrutiny. In some cases, the dealings of these institutions were so complex and opaque that few inside or outside these companies understood what was happening. Where there were gaps in the rules, regulators lacked the authority to take action. Where there were overlaps, regulators lacked accountability for their inaction.

. . .

The President concluded by making clear the necessity of the solution:

There’s always been a tension between those who place their faith in the invisible hand of the marketplace and those who place more trust in the guiding hand of the government — and that tension isn’t a bad thing. It gives rise to healthy debates and creates a dynamism that makes it possible for us to adapt and grow. For we know that markets are not an unalloyed force for either good or for ill. In many ways, our financial system reflects us. In the aggregate of countless independent decisions, we see the potential for creativity — and the potential for abuse. We see the capacity for innovations that make our economy stronger — and for innovations that exploit our economy’s weaknesses.

We are called upon to put in place those reforms that allow our best qualities to flourish — while keeping those worst traits in check. We’re called upon to recognize that the free market is the most powerful generative force for our prosperity — but it is not a free license to ignore the consequences of our actions.

This is a difficult time for our nation. But from this period of challenge, we can once again tap those values and ideals that have allowed us to lead the global economy, and will allow us to lead once again. That’s how we’ll help more Americans live their own dreams. That’s why these reforms are so important. And I look forward to working with leaders in Congress and all of you to see these proposals put to work so that we can overcome this crisis and build a lasting foundation for prosperity.

And, of course, Obama has a detailed plan for tightening his grip on the free market system.

Financial Regulatory Reform: A New Foundation

We must act now to restore confidence in the integrity of our financial system. The lasting economic damage to ordinary families and businesses is a constant reminder of the urgent need to act to reform our financial regulatory system and put our economy on track to a sustainable recovery. We must build a new foundation for financial regulation and supervision that is simpler and more effectively enforced, that protects consumers and investors, that rewards innovation and that is able to adapt and evolve with changes in the financial market.

In the following pages, we propose reforms to meet five key objectives:

(1) Promote robust supervision and regulation of financial firms. Financial institutions that are critical to market functioning should be subject to strong oversight. No financialfirm that poses a significant risk to the financial system should be unregulated or weakly regulated. We need clear accountability in financial oversight and supervision. We propose:

• A new Financial Services Oversight Council of financial regulators to identify emerging systemic risks and improve interagency cooperation.

• New authority for the Federal Reserve to supervise all firms that could pose a threat to financial stability, even those that do not own banks.

• Stronger capital and other prudential standards for all financial firms, and even higher standards for large, interconnected firms.

• A new National Bank Supervisor to supervise all federally chartered banks.

• Elimination of the federal thrift charter and other loopholes that allowed some depository institutions to avoid bank holding company regulation by the Federal Reserve.

• The registration of advisers of hedge funds and other private pools of capital with the SEC.

(2) Establish comprehensive supervision of financial markets. Our major financial markets must be strong enough to withstand both system-wide stress and the failure of one or more large institutions. We propose:

• Enhanced regulation of securitization markets, including new requirements for market transparency, stronger regulation of credit rating agencies, and a requirement that issuers and originators retain a financial interest in securitized loans.

• Comprehensive regulation of all over-the-counter derivatives.

• New authority for the Federal Reserve to oversee payment, clearing, and settlement systems.

(3) Protect consumers and investors from financial abuse. To rebuild trust in our markets, we need strong and consistent regulation and supervision of consumer financial services and investment markets. We should base this oversight not on speculation or abstract models, but on actual data about how people make financial decisions. We must promote transparency, simplicity, fairness, accountability, and access. We propose:

• A new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers across the financial sector from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.

• Stronger regulations to improve the transparency, fairness, and appropriateness of consumer and investor products and services.

• A level playing field and higher standards for providers of consumer financial products and services, whether or not they are part of a bank.

(4) Provide the government with the tools it needs to manage financial crises. We need to be sure that the government has the tools it needs to manage crises, if and when they arise, so that we are not left with untenable choices between bailouts and financial collapse. We propose:

• A new regime to resolve nonbank financial institutions whose failure could have serious systemic effects.

• Revisions to the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authority to improve accountability.

(5) Raise international regulatory standards and improve international cooperation. The challenges we face are not just American challenges, they are global challenges. So,as we work to set high regulatory standards here in the United States, we must ask the
world to do the same. We propose:

• International reforms to support our efforts at home, including strengthening the capital framework; improving oversight of global financial markets; coordinating supervision of internationally active firms; and enhancing crisis management tools.

Nowhere in the President’s remarks or in his new regulation plan will you find any mention, let alone an admission, of the government’s primary role in causing the latest financial collapse. Fortunately, IBD tells it like it was.

Regulation Nation

Regulation: The White House wants to impose sweeping new rules for the financial industry to prevent another meltdown. Unfortunately, it was government — not the private sector — that was to blame.

Citing a “culture of irresponsibility” that it says helped cause last year’s financial crisis, the White House on Wednesday released an 88-page report that proposes major changes in America’s financial system. The Associated Press aptly called it “the greatest regulatory transformation since the Great Depression.”

Among the reforms put forward were a new, pumped-up Federal Reserve with greater powers to regulate and oversee the entire financial system, a new consumer credit watchdog to oversee home loans and credit cards, and new rules and oversight for hedge funds and exotic securities, such as credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations, which some blame for making the financial crisis worse.

It’s nice to see that our government is so concerned about not repeating the errors of the past. But our advice comes from an ancient proverb:

“Physician, heal thyself.”

The White House’s financial regulation proposal blames “gaps in regulation” for our financial crisis. Wrong. It was in fact government misregulation and miscalculation that created our financial crisis — not private businesses. The record on this is quite clear.

As economic historian Lawrence White of the University of Missouri has written:

“The expansion in risky mortgages to underqualified borrowers was encouraged by the federal government. The growth of ‘creative’ nonprime lending followed Congress’ strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act, the Federal Housing Administration’s loosening of down-payment standards, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s pressuring lenders to extend mortgages to borrowers who previously would not have qualified.”

Add to that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — created and regulated by acts of Congress — which together at one point controlled nearly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market. The two quasi-private entities served as the grand financial engine by which Congress would boost homeownership.

It worked well for a while. And we can’t fault the intent to help people. But the failure was one of too much government — not too little, which is the rationale for the new financial regulation regime sought for Wall Street and the banks.

As for the Fed’s new powers, we happen to believe the central bank has done a reasonably good job responding to this crisis — though as many others have noted, the vast expansion of the U.S. money supply in the last year poses a future inflationary threat.

But we don’t think the Fed needs enhanced powers. Far from it. It’s too powerful already. Giving it virtually unbridled control over our financial system without having to directly answer to the people is a danger to free market capitalism.

Many have argued that the Fed’s slashing of interest rates from 6.25% in 2001 to 1% in 2003 — following a stock market meltdown, a recession, the 9/11 attacks and the start of the War on Terror — was too much and led to the housing market bubble.

Now, strangely, many of the same people advocate giving the Fed even more power. It makes no sense.

If the White House really wants to fix our ailing financial system, it would do well to start by repealing what remains of TARP, undoing the government’s takeover of our auto industry and halting the fraudulent and wasteful $787 billion “stimulus” program.

Then you might see a real economic recovery take place.

See also:
Obama Defends Financial Overhaul
Geithner: Govt. Needs Better ‘Crisis Management’ Tools
In huge change, Obama’d strip Fed of credit card oversight
Obama: ‘A sweeping overhaul’
Historic Overhaul of Finance Rules
Obama Lays Out ‘Sweeping Overhaul’ of Financial Rules (Update3)
Not Everyone Is Cheering Fed’s New Role
New financial rules: Major changes for big, small
Obama unveils ‘sweeping overhaul’ of financial regulations

The truly ironic part is that most of Obama’s free market control plan has to go through Congress to become law, those most responsible for the financial mess in the first place. Can you just imagine what hideous manner of bull[expletive deleted] regulation will come out the other end? How much additional U.S. government oppression can free enterprise take before major corporations will just say enough already and reincorporate in another country with a more business friendly environment?

/one thing I know for sure from daily first hand stock trading experience, between Obama’s encroachment into the private sector economy and his out of control government spending, he’s spooking the ever loving [expletive deleted] out of the markets

GM Goes Bankrupt, Sun Rises In East, Sky Doesn’t Fall

As widely predicted and telegraphed, the once unthinkable finally became reality today.

GM Files Bankruptcy to Spin Off More Competitive Firm

General Motors Corp., the largest manufacturer to go bankrupt, filed for court protection with a government-financed plan intended to create a viable company that can compete in world markets.

The U.S. government will extend $50 billion of loans to the 100-year-old automaker and plans to convert that into a 60 percent stake in the reorganized company, according to a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. GM today missed a deadline to show that it could reorganize outside of court and reported debt of $172.8 billion, more than twice its assets.

“GM and its stakeholders have produced a viable, achievable plan that will give this iconic American company a chance to rise again,” U.S. President Barack Obama said today. The government was becoming a “reluctant” owner of the automaker, Obama said, adding that his goal was to “take a hands-off approach and get out quickly.”

GM, the largest carmaker until its 77-year reign ended last year, surpassed Chrysler LLC as the largest manufacturer to file for bankruptcy. Detroit-based GM plans to launch a new company in 60 to 90 days, armed with vehicles from its Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC units for the U.S. market. The court will supervise the sale or liquidation of unprofitable brands, such as Saturn and Hummer, and at least 11 unwanted factories.

Interim Loan

The automaker won approval of a plan to auction its assets and interim approval of a $15 billion loan from the U.S. and Canada to keep the company going until it can complete the sale, which it plans to do in July.

GM said it has more than 100,000 creditors, and that unsecured creditors will recover some assets in the reorganization. Company operations outside the U.S. weren’t included in the petition.

The case was assigned to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber in Manhattan, who also presides over the bankruptcies of Lyondell Chemical Co. and BearingPoint Inc. He presided over the bankruptcy of Adelphia Communications Corp. as well.

“Today marks a defining moment in the reinvention of GM,” said company President and Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson. “The economic crisis has caused enormous disruption in the auto industry.”

GM listed in its petition as top creditors Wilmington Trust Co., representing bondholders owed $22.8 billion; International Union, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, owed $20.6 billion; and Deutsche Bank AG, representing bondholders owed $4.44 billion. The Unofficial GM Dealers Committee, which said it represents more than 6,000 GM dealers in the U.S., filed a notice that it will take part in the bankruptcy litigation.

A Matter Of Law

Economy: With General Motors’ long-awaited “pre-packaged bankruptcy” finally here, America is on the verge of a new era — one where government, not investors and consumers, is the final arbiter of success.

GM’s bankruptcy pushes bondholders aside in favor of the U.S. government and the UAW. Though bondholders hold $27 billion in debt, they’ll get just 10% of stock.

How’s that compare with the other “stakeholders?” For spending $50 billion to bail out GM, the government will get 60% of the equity in the new GM; the UAW, which along with other unions gave millions to Democrats, will be repaid for its loyalty with 17.5% of the stock for $10 billion of unsecured debts.

So the government, with roughly two times what private bondholders have on the table, gets a stake five times bigger. And the union, with about a third as much “invested,” gets a 70% bigger stake. Even the Canadian government, with its $9.5 billion “invested,” ends up with 12%.

They call it “restructuring.” We call it theft. Never in our memory has there been a more thorough, systematic effort to disenfranchise the shareholders and bondholders of a major American firm.

It will make investors — domestic and foreign alike — think twice about investing in an American stock or bond in the coming years. Why invest if your money and rights as an investor can be arbitrarily stripped from you, as they were in GM’s case?

But our real issue with this isn’t that people will lose money. It’s that we don’t believe the government’s actions are even legal.

The White House has basically been manipulating GM into bankruptcy since early this year, putting 31-year-old Brian Deese, a Yale law student, in charge of GM’s restructuring. “It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism,” the New York Times said with tongue in cheek (we think).

It used to be that the “rules of American capitalism” came from 200 years of U.S. case law, the Constitution and legitimate federal regulation. But no more. Instead, the job’s been given to someone not yet out of law school. This shows shocking contempt for GM, once the world’s pre-eminent industrial company, for American capitalism and the rule of law.

We don’t think this travesty passes constitutional muster and hope to see it vigorously challenged in federal court soon.

Our Constitution is very specific. It limits the executive branch’s rights to those enumerated therein. The rest it grants to the people and the states. It also requires due process under the law, especially when government “takings” are involved.

That’s why in 1952, when President Harry S. Truman tried to seize control of the U.S. steel industry during a debilitating strike, the Supreme Court made him back down. And Truman had a real emergency on his hands: the Korean War.

We pored over Article II of the Constitution, known as the Executive Powers Clause. Nowhere is the White House granted the right to override the time-tested bankruptcy process, to use Treasury money raised by taxing Americans to buy or bail out companies, to fire CEOs, to micromanage corporate policy, or to abrogate lawful contracts made by private parties.

Yet, our government has done these things and more — leading to a corrupt GM bankruptcy. The damage to our system of corporate capitalism and the rule of law is severe. Next stop: Federal court?

See also:
GM Collapses Into Government’s Arms
General Motors files for bankruptcy
GM declares chapter 11 bankruptcy
World’s Largest Company Files For Bankruptcy Protection As GM Makes It Official
General Motors may follow Chrysler’s path to quick exit from bankruptcy

So, this travesty of a probably illegal boondoggle taxpayer funded GM bankruptcy, alarmingly prophesied as the loosing of the seventh seal of the Apocalypse, was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York today. What were the dire and scary consequences? Did the economy fall off a cliff into the abyss? Was there panic in the streets? Did dogs and cats start living together, was there mass hysteria?

Hell no! Wall Street and the equities markets not only totally ignored the GM bankruptcy, all the major stock market indices soared, tacking on gains of 2 1/2-3% each, having their best session in months! Personally, I had a great day!

/so, once again, all the Chicken Littles were wrong, GM should have been put into bankruptcy six months ago, it would have saved the taxpayers $20 billion that has all since been flushed down the GM/UAW toilet, never to be seen again

Ouch, That’s Going To Leave A Mark!

Friday, April 24, 2009

toon042409

/as usual, Michael Ramirez absolutely nails it to the wall