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November 19, 2013

Nothing To Fear Except Fear Itself

NSA logo Last night in the invisible world of unrestricted power, James R. Clapper Jr. , director of national intelligence, released what appeared to be the original court document authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct sweeping collections of Americans’ communications records for counter-terrorism purposes, according to a piece in the Washington Post. In what appeared to be the original court document, there is also the description of the NSA’s failure to abide by court-imposed rules to protect Americans’ privacy, showing an agency more interested in collecting cell site location data than it had previously acknowledged.

The description of what constituted bulk information “metadata” was redacted in the released documents. In an order signed by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the National Security Agency was given permission by the secret court to gather in bulk information from e-mails and other forms of Internet communication such as e-mail addresses, but not the content. Its true scope, however, is unclear. This is about group power, unrestricted power, in a police state, over individual constitutional rights. Whatever the counter-terrorism purpose, however undefined. Who were these federal judges collaborating in what appeared to be “justice” in these secret courts? Inevitably did these justices belong to political parties, having given up any idea of an independent judiciary? What lawyer would dare criticize a judge, and put at risk his/her next case in front of the judge.

If a judge in the secret courts will give the NSA massive amounts of data to identify unknown people who may be in contact with terrorists’ whose e-mail addresses would be used to search the database, why not apply the same standard to domestic prosecutors? Is there a secret appellate court for bad decisions in secret courts? Is there a secret U.S. Supreme Court. Yet?

Franklin Roosevelt said in his first Inaugural Address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin Roosevlet tried to stack the Supreme Court with judge who shared his views of the world, which at the time never included concepts of secret courts and the unrestricted power of the sixteen agencies of the governments of the United States involved in “national intelligence.” It was the legislative branch with people named Boehner, Feinstein, Bolton who are giving the president’s intelligence agencies blank checks. When the NSA was spying on Angela Merkel, that spying included the most intimate parts of her life. If any politician is involved in illicit relationships, placing themselves in compromising positions, someone at the NSA has a view from the heavens of something that no human, in a military or political position, was ever supposed to have. The judiciary was set up to provide checks and balances rather than collaborate with the unrestricted power of the executive branch. When the judiciary abdicates this duty, there is something to fear, like the thinking of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, like in the thinking by senators from California, Feinstein and Chambliss, about group power – the unrestricted power – in a police state, over individual constitutional rights. In a world with a booming population, people become just commodities, and individual rights are set aside for classified information, “under appropriate circumstance.”

In the New World Order there might well be something to fear when the elected officials ignore the first ten amendments of the constitution of the United States. Wasn’t this the same problem from the first eight years of the New Millennium, directed at the time at the Securities and Exchange Commission, when the regulators quit regulating? And now the judges who quit judging in open court.

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

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January 26, 2011

The State of the Union: A New Director of Pork

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota health executive Lois Quam will lead the $63 billion Global Health Initiative which President Barack Obama in 2009 committed to the program at the U.S. State Department, over six years, aimed at helping developing nations provide more aid for prenatal and postnatal care, improve nutrition, and fight disease. This appointment reunites Quam who had been in the 1990s a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton on Hilary Clinton’s health care task force. A State Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Quam will be executive director of the initiative under Secretary of State Clinton.

Lois Quam,of St. Paul is a former UnitedHealth Group executive who co-founded a health consulting firm last year. She was one of the executives who worked under Dr.Bill McGuire grossly enriched by the backdating of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of stock options at UnitedHealth Group, the private insurance company whose shareholders have been getting rich off the invasion of disease that threatened people’s lives, for which approximately 70 million took out their health insurance. The exit compensation of McGuire was alleged to be around $1.1 billion, when he immediately stepped down as chairman and director of UnitedHealth Group due to his involvement in the employee stock options scandal.

There is something wrong with this picture. As government leaders work to manipulate people, worldwide under the auspices of the United State State Department. No mention is made in the story if the $69 billion is directed at American citizens overseas, and the issues in their lives of prenatal and postnatal care, the nutrition, and disease on foreign soil.

She is married to Matt Entenza, a former state lawmaker who wanted to be governor of Minnesota but unsuccessfully failed in a primary election for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination for governor in 2010. He was not the endorsed candidate of the party. It was alleged that Ms. Quam financed his campaign.

No mention has ever been made about the issue of clawback for the undue profits that came to the team of UnitedHealth management. Clawback is now being used, under a provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, against those who unduly profited in their investments with Bernie Maddoff.

February 18, 2010

Declarations of Bankruptcy

With the Wednesday anniversary of the $787-billion package of tax cuts and spending in the Recovery Act, in defense of the stimulus, President Obama said, “One year later, it is largely thanks to the Recovery Act that a second Depression is no longer a possibility.” Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington marked America’s legalized corruption by sniping at each other. Bankrupt after 8 years of the leadership of George Bush, Republican lawmakers stepped up their attacks on what was the Paulson-Bush stimulus plan, calling it wasteful and ineffective.

From an article by Simon Johnson in the Atlantic, America’s Legalized Corruption

“The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.”


From the transcript of Frontline on February 16, 2010:

We didn’t truly know the dangers of the market, because it was a dark market,” says Brooksley Born, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] — an obscure federal regulatory agency — who not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country’s key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis.

They were totally opposed to it,” Born says. “That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?

They being the same people advising the current president. Then Assistant Treasury Secetary Lawrence Summers, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, as well as Alan Greespan heading up the Federal Reserve. And who did Timothy Geithner worked for through this all? As Henry Paulson got his start working in the Nixon White House; was it for Erhlichman or Haldeman? He learned under the best of hatchet men.

It had taken 40 years of the media making us all world experts, and this expertise along with the lobbyists had bankrupted American government. It was why I felt uncomfortable having my retirement accounts with Fidelity, with Merrill Lynch, with Morgan Stanley. They all had hijacked the government of the United States, through the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

One year later, President Obama was sounding a lot like George Bush, announcing victory in Iraq. Or Henry Paulson and Ben Ben Bernanke, with their similar pronouncements all along, when the Bush Administration on July 13, 2008 rescued Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or Bear Stearns. When that second Depression “was no longer a possibility.”

The Congressional Oversight Panel, chaired by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, warned on the same anniversary date that it remains “deeply concerned” that commercial loan losses could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly the nation’s mid-size and smaller banks. Highlighting yet one more hurdle for this country’s fragile economy, a wave of commercial real estate loan failures could threaten over the next few years America’s already-weakened financial system. The Congressional Oversight Panel was formed as part of oversight for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

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January 13, 2010

C-span

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is underway.

According to a Bloomberg piece by Hugh Son, the Federal Reserve of New York, under the leadership of Timothy Geithner, told AIG to withhold documents and delay disclosures of details from the public about the bailed-out insurer’s payments to banks during the depths of the financial crisis, e-mails over a five month span starting in November 2008 between the company and its regulator show. The New York Fed took over negotiations between AIG and the banks in November 2008 as losses on contracts tied to subprime home loans threatened to swamp AIGr weeks after its taxpayer-funded rescue. The New York Fed ordered the crippled AIG not to negotiate for discounts in settling the credit derivative swaps, crossing out the reference to discussion of a discount of up to $13 billion that tax payers funded, according to the e-mails. AIG excluded the language when an SEC filing was made public on December 24, 2008. This was a backdoor bailout of Goldman Sachs and more than a dozen banks which were owed $62.1 billion of the credit derivatives. The regulator decided that Goldman Sachs and more than a dozen banks would be fully repaid. At the time, Geithner “was recused from working on issues involving specific companies, including AIG.” In a separate statement, a spokesperson said that Geithner, after his nomination for Treasury secretary on Nov. 24, 2008, “began to insulate himself weeks earlier in anticipation of his nomination.”

It is hoped that Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is as affective as congressional oversight after the Mitchell Report was released for Major League Baseball. This bipartisan commission has been given a critical non-partisan mission. In the cultural atmosphere of Washington, with its campus as a political utopia. With a week or two of producing in video and interactive content creation for C-Span, the media division for both Democrats and Republicans, funded by your cable television payments.

Because what is said to the new media does have a huge impact on reputations and on careers. Or to Congress. In the new cultural atmosphere where everyone has an agent. Even Bob Costas is represented by IMG, when television journalist used the same system as your professional athlete. IMG also represents Tiger Woods through Mark Steinberg, Senior Vice President and Global Managing Director of Golf. IMG which owns half of Ari Fleischer’s company. Fleischer, the former White House press secretary who operates Ari Fleischer Sports Communications.

In the cultural atmosphere, IMG is the global leader in event management and talent representation. “Our media division is one of the world’s top independent producers of sports and entertainment television across multiple genres and is an emerging leader in video and interactive content creation for broadband and mobile platforms.”

In the cultural span of c-span, of sports, of television, of entertainment. With all of its sponsors.

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November 26, 2009

At the Governmental Massage Parlor

That White House state dinner for the Indian prime minister. With the guest list of Katie Couric, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, and Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Why? Speaking of caste systems, why were tax dollars feeding more than the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? Why were 338 people in addition to Tareq and Michaele Salahi being fed? If charges are brought for theft of services against the uninvited guests, maybe an explanation can be given why taxpayers were paying to feed Katie Couric and Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty? With Washington insiders, Hollywood A-listers, campaign donors, prominent figures from the community of the guest prime minister who live in the US, and Obama friends, why were these state dinners continuing in a country without royalty? Wasn’t the last election a statement about change?

Those rubbing of shoulders with Vice President Joe Biden. The official guest list. The official shoulder rub. Governmental massages. The agency charged with protecting the US President and other high-level officials is conducting a comprehensive review of the security breach on Tuesday at the dinner in honor of the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. About an unofficial shoulder rub. Received by Tareq and Michaele Salahi of Virginia, who crashed the White House party.

Feeding the system. The American caste system on display at White House state dinners.

September 6, 2009

In the Shadows of Those Cloakrooms

Twelve months ago, there was talk of a revolution coming in the financial markets, which was financially supported by the 3500 lobbyists in Washington, for both parties. There was a new form of fascism in those stories at the time. That is if “fascism” was a word about comforts, with government offering instruction how all of us could live easier. With the help of former Goldman Sachs officers in government, government was now deciding, 12 months later, who were saved, which among us were rescued, at least amongst financial institutions. The free market had been replaced.

If the revolution in the financial markets was not enough, how did you feel as Congress was coming back from summer recess, from all the dog and pony shows, to address not the health care crisis but how, with a nation with an aging populace, to pay for health care. At a point in time when government through Medicare had not exactly been covering the cost of new technology in hospitals, was not paying a fair share. Yet health care itself had never been better.

In the debate, there are people who desire government to decide all of the issues of health care. How much to pay medical institutions, when government was not, had not been, reimbursing hospitals the true cost of taking care of patients with Medicare. Government now wanted to mandate the amount of reimbursement for all procedures, and somehow distribute the cost throughout the entire population in the form of premiums. People who thought government was honest seemed to support the concept. Did they know about the 3500 lobbyists in Washington who had been working for more than a generation to make sure the system was not fair? How had these health care reform supporters felt about the bailouts? (In the case of my Congressional Representative, Betty McCollum supported both the bailout and health care reform.)

Like in those financial bailouts, government was now deciding, if Betty McCollum got her way, who would be saved, which among us would be rescued, amongst both health care institutions, and their patients. Suddenly aware that government knew it had the power to print money, increase property taxes in the states, and if the need were come, to confiscate everything, now they would decided every health care procedure. We had yet to hear specifics how Washington would replace those Blue Cross Blue Shield claims people to make the same kind of every day decisions with all the love and care I found when I went to renew my license plate tabs.

The timing was not real good in September 2009, less than 12 months after the revolution in the financial markets. Not when this discussion seemed more like elective surgery. With a lot of swine flu around. I hoped the vote might be postponed for 6 to 12 months. Until the patients had a lot more strength. Until the president had the courage to introduce the specifics of a bill himself, with some accountability, rather than rely on Congress or the 3500 lobbyists in Washington to take the citizens to a health care destination. Congress had not done a very good job dealing with triage in the last crisis, but that might have been due to a president who just wanted to get out of office after creating the mess himself rather than actually lead.

I wonder if somewhere in those August dog and pony shows from New Hampshire to Montana, if the president heard someone ask when he might introduce the actual legislation that might work. If Congress had spent the time to approve his appointment so he had enough staff to work on a bill.

July 25, 2009

Those Domestic Situations

The New York Times reports today that the Bush administration in 2002 considered sending U.S. troops into a Buffalo, N.Y., suburb to arrest a group of terror suspects in what would have been a nearly unprecedented use of military power.

According to U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) said that as U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pushed for the Wall Street bailout in September 2008, he brought up that that the crisis might even require a declaration of martial law, as a worst-case scenario.

The Associated Press notes that dispatching troops into the streets is virtually unheard of. “The Constitution and various laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.”

A 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) allegedly allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage. The Clinton administration had set up the Joint Task Force-Civil Support in October 1999 as a “homeland defense command.”

In 2002 the Pentagon established the U.S. Northern Command, charged with carrying out military operations within the United States. Prior to this, under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the U.S. armed forces had been barred from domestic operations, except in specific, limited circumstances.

So that Associated Press note about “dispatching troops into the streets as virtually unheard of” is a historic note. It is a mistake to say the “constitution and various laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.”

Pentagon officials at one point to end 2008 were projecting some 20,000 active-duty U.S. troops to be stationed in the United States by 2011.

July 17, 2009

Summer Recess


The outlook on future economic behavior: One in five people in California who desire full time work are not now working. That rate reached 23.5 percent Oregon this spring,, 21.5 percent in both Michigan and Rhode Island, and 20.3 percent in California according to a New York Times analysis of state-by-state data. The rate was just under 20 percent this spring in Tennessee and Nevada.

Mortimer Zuckerman, the chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report wrote today in the Wall Street Journal: “Unemployment has doubled to 9.5% from 4.8% in only 16 months, a rate so fast it may influence future economic behavior and outlook. How could this happen when Washington has thrown trillions of dollars into the pot, including the famous $787 billion in stimulus spending that was supposed to yield $1.50 in growth for every dollar spent? State budgets are drowning in red ink as jobless claims and Medicaid bills climb. Next year state budgets will have depleted their initial rescue dollars. Absent another rescue plan, they will have no choice but to slash spending, raise taxes, or both. As paychecks shrink and disappear, consumers are more hesitant to spend. The combination of a weak job picture and a severe credit crunch means that people won’t be able to get the financing for big expenditures, and those who can borrow will be reluctant to do so. The paycheck has returned as the primary source of spending. Businesses will not start to hire nor race to make capital expenditures when they have vast idle capacity.”

I would not be buying stocks with this kind of economic forecast. The next 12 months are going to be the hardest in 70 years. And in my view, Congress and the president have the same insight into how to resolve pending current affairs as FEMA did during Hurricane Katrina.

July 6, 2009

Those Milwaukee Bucks

The story over the next 3 years will be about the value of the U S dollar.

If drugs continue to be injected which mask symptoms rather than address the disease (medicine in the form of debt destruction), the likelihood of a seismic readjustment increases in kind, writes Todd Harrison, about the dollar. “As governments take on more risk—as they price assets on behalf of the market and transfer debt from private to public—the common denominator, or release valve, becomes the currency.” Asset classes will, as a whole, deflate, and my economic condition measured in greenback will appreciate. And so will my taxes. To pay for it all.

The seeds of discontent have been sowing under the surface for years, with the greenback off 30% since 2002.

With quantitative easing came a concern for flight of capital from the U.S. A position paper was written by the Federal Reserve a few years back, discussing the option of a two-tiered currency, one for U.S. citizens and one for foreigners.

Joining the growing chorus questioning the U.S. dollar’s unofficial position as global reserve currency, in India, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, Suresh Tendulkar, is urging India to diversify its foreign-exchange reserves and hold fewer dollars, according to Bloomberg News.

Zeng Peiyan, the head of China Center for International Economic Exchanges and the former Chinese Vice-Premier, in a speech in Beijing on Friday called for a new system to ensure the stability of the major reserve currencies. China Daily reported.

Tensions mounting between the People’s Bank of China’s economic concerns over China’s holdings of dollars, with the earlier call by central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan for the development of a new super-sovereign currency largely taking the place of the dollar, and the Chinese government, with their “diplomatic reasons” for toning down their criticism, said Stephen Gallo, head of market analysis at Schneider Foreign Exchange. The Chinese government is still more happy to play to the tune of the Bernanke-Geithner camp which sees leaning against the wind in order to protect the U.S. dollar as a necessary evil,” Gallo said.

There is a palpable likelihood that the global balance of powers will fragment into 4 primary regions: North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with ramifications which would manifest through social unrest and geopolitical conflict, writes Todd Harrison at Marketwatch.com.

June 24, 2009

A New Asian Contagion?


Unrest. Unease about the economic outlook. There was a lot of restlessness out there. Unrest beyond the stories out of Iran. Unrest in the market. Marketwatch reported that the dollar gained against the Euro but declined against the yen, “in a pattern that has frequently emerged when traders grow nervous about the outlook.”

The World Bank said that the global economy will shrink by 2.9% in 2009, a revised outlook from a previous forecast of a 1.7% contraction. That mean the deflation animal was loose around the world.

Money always seemed to affect the outcome of elections. Japan is now in the throes of its worst post-World War II recession. I think we all were, actually. As fate would have it, the prime minister must call elections by September 2009.

Last week there was a summit of the world’s four largest emerging economies, as leaders from of China, India Russia, and Brazil met in Yekaterinburg, Russia to discuss reforming the global financial system and lessening reliance on the United States. These four countries hold nearly 40 percent of the world’s currency reserves and make up 15 percent of the global economy.

A joint BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) statement issued before the summit expressed a commitment to advance the reform of international financial institutions so as to reflect changes in the world economy. The statement said. “The emerging and developing economies must have a greater voice and representation in international financial institutions,” calling for a greater role for developing nations in global financial institutions and the United Nations.

Leaders discussed investing their reserves in one another’s bonds, swapping reserve currencies and increasing the role of Special Drawing Rights, an international reserve asset. Discussions took place earlier in the day in the Urals city at a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization about the creation of a supranational currency and lessening global reliance on the U.S. dollar. President Dmitry Medvedev was an outspoken a critic of the current world financial system, reserving his most bold comments for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. “There cannot be a successful global currency system if the financial instruments it uses are denominated in only one currency, which is the case today. And that currency is the dollar.”

But the idea of replacing the dollar found little traction with China, which holds $2 trillion in foreign currency reserves and which did not offer any comment in support of the proposal. Back in February 2009 at the Davos, Chinese premier Wen Jiabo, looking at the system of capitalism, lashed out at the ‘blind pursuit of profit’ in some countries in what he called the ‘American financial crisis.’ The view from China was that stocks and bonds were an American system.

In Japan, exports were down 40.9% from May 2008, adding to doubts about the possibility of a quick recovery from the global recession.

In Japan, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) hopes to topple Japan’s prime minister Taro Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party which has been in power for almost all of the past 50 years, seeing Japan rise to become the world’s number 2 economy, Asia’s largest economy. If he becomes the next finance minister, Masaharu Nakagawa of the Democratic Party of Japan would like to make changes to reshape Japan into a kinder gentler place.

Saying the dollar may no longer reign supreme in the future, Nakagawa envisions “in the course of the region’s forming a single economic zone,” as he told AFP, an Asia united by a single common currency. With possibility the dollar might not function as the key currency any more in the medium term, Nakagawa said, “Now is the time for Japan to say what kind of world it would like to create. Not to adapt itself to the given circumstances as it has,” since the end of World War II. People must take change into account as the world seeks a new order in the post-Cold War era.

Speaking more broadly about his vision for Japan, he said his country had followed the liberalism of the United States in the past, but the time had come for the nation to be “more Asian.”

In an article by Miwa Suzuki, he said the Japanese government could extend lending to the International Monetary Fund on condition that it is in yen, while guaranteeing bonds by Asian countries if they are denominated in the Japanese currency. “Until an Asian common currency emerges,” he said, “the Japanese government should make efforts to have the ‘Asia zone’ use the yen, not the dollar, for trade settlements. It’s time for Japan to launch this plan.”

Money and fate. And relationships. On June 17, 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement in which Russia will sell 300 million tons of oil to China over 20 years at $57 per barrel or $100 billion. In order for Russia to deliver that oil, a new pipeline has to be built by Yukos to China which was originally planned at a cost of $4 billion for the mid-2000s, but by March 2008, the price had risen to $29 billion. Given oil prices of at least $80 per barrel, Russia has no plan to recoup this cost at the agreed to price of just $57 per barrel. This is the same Russia that has been using oil as a weapon against it Slavic brethren in Belarus and Ukraine.

Money and fate and relationships. These were the major ingredients in a love story. Any love story. Money and the times always provided the ambiance to the story. In all relationships, actually. Even with the new BRIC nations. Amidst this unrest and unease about the economic outlook.
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