Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ACORN & Chuck Schumer beat hipsters & firemen Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confident

I’ve written in the past about the development of the Nets (basketball) new arena in Brooklyn — a development that has involved eminent domain, subsidies, and race-baiting. This week, we get the news that the final holdout, and the loudest voice against the development, has accepted the theft of his house and his eviction, pocketed a $3 million settlement, and moved out.

The story intrigued me because it was big intramural battle on the Left. On the winning side are Chuck Schumer, developer Bruce Ratner, and ACORN. On the losing side are liberal, ill-shaven, bespectacled hipsters (including some of my friends).

The dividing line isn’t color or political affiliation. It’s people with access to government might vs. people without access to government might.

And as Ratner’s bulldozer shifts into high gear, Politico gives us this gem:

So, there Schumer was Monday morning, introducing Reid to the big-money developers of the New Jersey Nets’ new $4.9 billion facility in Brooklyn. Schumer told the developers that he and Reid had been “through war together,” and he called the Nevadan his “foxhole buddy,” according to someone who was there.

“He is beloved by our caucus, from the most conservative to the most liberal,” Schumer told the fundraisers on Monday, the source said. “He does a great job of bringing together 59 Democrats of such broad philosophical and geographic diversity. And the egos are not small. What Harry does is amazing.”

Monday’s fundraiser was headlined by Bruce Ratner, the real estate mogul who owns the Nets — and who has donated more than $127,000 to Democrats in recent years.

While Schumer’s office won’t say how much money the event raised for Reid, cash poured in from a number of developers and real estate types. The event came just hours before a procedural vote on a plan to rewrite the rules for Wall Street, but Reid’s office stressed that the donors who turned out Monday weren’t bankers or Wall Street officials — and that, in fact, many work for Ratner’s company as well as for electrical and construction companies.

This is what big government does.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/acorn--chuck-schumer-beat-hipsters--firemen-92246274.html#ixzz0mLk4ApFV

This Earth Day, Thank a Hunter

‘In 1970, a Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson raised his voice and called on every American to take action on behalf of the environment,” reads President Obama’s Earth Day proclamation. “In the four decades since, millions of Americans have heeded that call and joined together to protect the planet we share.”

Well, I’ve got news for our President. Millions of Americans who had never heard of Gaylord Nelson “took action on behalf of the environment,” decades before the good Senator “raised his voice.” More newsworthy still, most of these belonged to those insufferable rustics who “cling to guns and bibles.” To wit:

The Pittman-Robertson Act (1937) imposed an excise tax of 10 per cent on all hunting gear. Then the Dingell-Johnson act (1950) did the same for fishing gear. The Wallop-Breaux amendment (1984) extended the tax to the fuel for boats. All of this lucre goes to “protect the environment” in the form of buying and maintaining National Wildlife Refuges, along with state programs for buying and maintaining various forms of wildlife habitat.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Senators postpone climate bill unveiling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Monday's unveiling of a compromise Senate climate bill was postponed on Saturday, Democratic Senator John Kerry said, after a dispute arose over unrelated immigration reform legislation.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said earlier on Saturday he would have to pull out of the bipartisan climate change effort because of concerns Democrats would push forward with a debate on immigration reform, rather than the climate change bill, in the Senate.

Kerry said he hoped to keep working for passage of a climate bill.

He said that after more than six months of detailed meetings with Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman, "we believe that we had reached" an agreement on the details of a bill to reduce smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasesassociated with global warming.

They were planning to outline those details at a news conference on Monday that would have been attended by some environmental and industry representatives.

"But regrettably, external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily" the Senate's work on the climate bill that also would have expanded U.S. nuclear power generation and offshore oil drilling.

The wide-ranging climate bill already faced an uphill battle in the Senate, even before it became enmeshed in a partisan battle between Democrats and Republicans over immigration reform.

But with only a few months left before November's congressional elections, senators are trying to determine where their efforts should be focused, with the elections playing an important role in their decision.

Earlier on Saturday, The Washington Post reported that Graham wrote a letter to his colleagues informing them that unless Democrats stepped back from plans to move ahead with immigration reform rather than the climate change bill, the South Carolina Republican would drop out of the three-senator working group.

Without Graham on board, efforts to pass climate control legislation could be doomed as he was expected to work to win more Republican support for the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement on Saturday that immigration and climate change were both important to Americans.

"They expect us to do both, and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one is an excuse for not acting on the other," Reid said.

State reps want to fight violence with National Guard's help

Two state representatives called on Gov. Pat Quinn Sunday to deploy the Illinois National Guard to safeguard Chicago's streets.

Chicago Democrats John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford said they want Quinn, Mayor Richard Daley andChicago Police Supt. Jody Weis to allow guardsmen to patrol streets and help quell violence. Weis said he did not support the idea because the military and police operate under different rules.

"Is this a drastic call to action? Of course it is," Fritchey said. "Is it warranted when we are losing residents to gun violence at such an alarming rate? Without question. We are not talking about rolling tanks down the street or having armed guards on each corner."

What he envisions, Fritchey said, is a "heightened presence on the streets," particularly on the roughly 9 percent of city blocks where most of the city's violent crimes occur.

Weis previously identified those "hot spots" and said he plans to create a 100-person team made up of selected and volunteer police personnel to respond to crime there. If guardsmen were to assist police, they could comprise or contribute to that force, Fritchey said.

So far this year, 113 people have been killed across Chicago, the same number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined in the same period, Fritchey said.

"As we speak, National Guard members are working side-by-side with our troops to fight a war halfway around the world," Fritchey said. "The unfortunate reality is that we have another war that is just as deadly taking place right in our backyard." While the National Guard has been deployed in other states to prevent violence related to specific events and protests, the Chicago legislators said they are unaware of guardsmen being deployed to assist with general urban unrest.

Weis countered that the only scenario in which the National Guard would be helpful is in the situation of a tornado, earthquake or flood. If the military were brought in to help with city violence, they wouldn't answer to police command -- creating a "major disconnect" in mission and strategy.

Alluding to the 1970 Kent State University incident where the National Guard was called in and protestors and students were shot, Weis said having guardsmen handle crime could be "disastrous." But he said if the Daley suggested it, he would consider the option.

"I'm open to anything that reduces violence. But I have concerns when you mix law enforcement and the military," Weis said.

But Fritchey and Ford said prompt action is needed because summer is right around the corner and with the warm weather comes an increase in violence.

Fritchey and Ford serve two different constituencies, representing the North Side and the West Siderespectively. "One half of this city views this as a part of daily life," Fritchey said. "Another part of the city doesn't care because it doesn't affect them." Yet the lawmakers said they are coming together because gun violence should be a priority to all Chicagoans.

"No help is too much help" Ford said. "This is not just about the murders. It's about the crime. It's about people being stabbed, robbed and in the hospital on life support."

Fritchey said he spoke to representatives from Quinn's office about deploying guardsmen and they "seemed open to the idea." The lawmakers had yet to speak to Weis or the mayor's office.

"I don't anticipate the governor implementing it over the objection of the mayor," Fritchey said.

"I hope this doesn't become a territorial issue. I hope this doesn't become an ego issue. This isn't about public relations or politics. This is about reclaiming our communities."

US prepares to push for global capital rules

By Tom Braithwaite

Published: April 25 2010 17:24 | Last updated: April 25 2010 17:24

The US is preparing to pivot from domestic regulatory reform to a push for a tough new international capital regime after the weekend’s G20 and International Monetary Fund meetings glossed over differences between leading economies.

Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, met Mario Draghi, chairman of the Financial Stability Board, on Sunday to discuss the contours of a system that would decide the safety and profitability of banks for decades to come and could eclipse the arguments over bank taxes and regulation.

But the different positions of senior central bank and government officials from several countries expressed to the Financial Times on the sidelines of the G20 meetings in Washington suggested that a final international agreement remains a challenge.

The G20 communiqué on Friday said: “We recommitted to developing by end-2010 internationally agreed rules to improve both the quantity and quality of bank capital and to discourage excessive leverage.”

But participants said little time was spent on the issue and that officials were gearing up for a battle at the June meeting over the direction of the new standards, which would prevent banks from relying on short-term funding and disqualify some assets from counting towards core regulatory capital, the highest-quality loss-absorbing part of the capital structure.

The most important fault line runs between a bloc of countries that includes the US, the UK and Switzerland and one that includes Germany, France and Japan.

The first group is enthusiastically behind a substantial increase in capital ratios coupled with a more conservative assessment of what counts as capital, tough liquidity rules and a new simple leverage ratio.

The second group is more attached to the pre-eminence of the current risk-based approach and wants the leverage ratio to have a much less important role in governing banks’ balance sheets.

Officials in the US and Europe are now starting to discuss the quantity of an increase in ratios among themselves. Some want a dramatic increase in the minimum level of capital over risk-weighted assets – perhaps to as much as 25 per cent from 8 per cent today – to be on the table while others want a more modest revision of capital rules.

“In the US right now there’s an absolute paranoia about a future bail-out,” said Douglas Elliott, fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank. “In Germany and France, where they haven’t had to do this to the same extent and there’s more of a feeling that the state should be involved in the banking system, they’re not as concerned. The more you’re comfortable with the public sector as the potential backstop, the less private capital you need.”

Initial proposals from the Basel committee that sets capital rules met a robust response from banks which complain – with the sympathy of some officials in France and Germany – that some proposals are too unsophisticated to take account of the real asset risk, and credit would become scarcer and more expensive as a result of a move towards tangible equity capital and an increase in capital ratios.

JPMorgan Chase, in a response to a request for consultation, said: “To maintain the same level of profitability, pricing on products would have to increase by 33 per cent.”

One participant at a US Federal Reserve meeting this month to discuss the new regime said “full and frank” did not do justice to the furious response from some industry delegates.

The reaction from capital hawks was that a blunt backstop might be better than an overreliance on the sophistication of risk models and regulators. They also said banks would be given plenty of time to adjust to the new system, perhaps several years, to minimise the immediate impact on credit provision.

Technocrats said they were stepping up the pace of their work, drawing up impact assessments for new regimes. But they were under contradictory pressures, not only over content but also timing, with countries including France recommending a slower, more deliberative approach while the US urges more speed.

For all the technical work, there is an increasing belief that governments and central banks will supersede the Basel officials in the next few months and engage in contentious meetings over the summer.

Judge Napolitano: Immigration law will ‘bankrupt the Republican Party’

Andrew McLemore
Raw Story
April 25, 2010

After Fox News analysts spent most of Friday defending Arizona’s bill to target illegal immigrants, Judge Andrew Napolitano offered a different take on the controversial measure.

When asked about Gov. Jan Brewer, Napolitano said her signing of the bill into law will have disastrous consequences:

Napolitano: She’s gonna bankrupt the Republican Party and the state of Arizona. Look at what happened to the Republicans in California with the proposition –

Cavuto: What happens?

Napolitano: Ah, Hispanics — who have a natural home in the Republican Party because they are socially conservative — will flee in droves. She’s also gonna bankrupt her state, because no insurance company will provide coverage for this. And for all the lawsuits that will happen — for all the people that are wrongfully stopped — her budget will be paying for it. Her budget will be paying the legal bills of the lawyers who sue on behalf of those that were stopped.

This will be a disaster for Arizona — to say nothing of the fact that it’s so unconstitutional that I predict a federal judge will prevent Arizona from enforcing it as soon as they attempt to do so. That will probably be tomorrow.

The new law, which will take effect in late July or early August, was cheered by many, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose tough crackdowns have made him a hero in the anti-illegal immigration community. He said it gives him new authority to detain undocumented migrants who aren’t accused of committing any other crimes.

“Now if we show they’re illegal, we can actually arrest them and put them in our jails,” Arpaio said.

Critics claim the bill will effectively encourage racial profiling. President Barack Obama branded it“misguided.” Hispanic groups across the country tend to agree with Napolitano’s assessment of the bill.

Immigrant advocates say the bill could worsen an already tenuous relationship between law enforcement and Hispanics in Arizona.

State Sen. Rebecca Rios, a Phoenix Democrat and fourth-generation Arizonan, said she’s concerned about her 14-year-old son being harassed by police because of his brown skin, black hair and dark-brown eyes.

“I don’t want my son or anyone else’s son targeted simply because of their physical characteristics,” Rios said. “There’s no reason I should have to carry around any proof of citizenship, nor my son.”

Arizona immigration law stirs emotions

Peter Schworm and Liz Kowalczyk
Boston Globe
April 25, 2010

To supporters, the new Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants is a sensible, overdue response to an intractable problem. To opponents, it is a draconian outrage that will lead to systemic racial profiling and widespread harassment of Hispanics.

And in Massachusetts, where an estimated 190,000 immigrants live illegally, the unusually strong measure, which would give police sweeping powers to detain those suspected of immigration violations, drew visceral reactions on both sides yesterday. On Boston Common, activists denounced it as discriminatory and urged the crowd to fight for its repeal.

“As Americans, we must stand up against this law,’’ Elena Letona said at a midday demonstration. “It’s a travesty, and it’s a moral outrage.’’

Groups that favor stricter controls on illegal immigration praised the measure for giving police more authority to arrest and deport people who are violating the law.


Hundreds Of Thousands Of Teachers To Be Laid Off

Hundreds of thousands of public school teachers across the United States are facing possible layoffs this coming academic year.

Confronting massive budget deficits, school districts throughout the country have been sending out notices (“pink slips”) to employees this spring, warning them that they are unlikely to have a job in the fall. The bloodletting is worst in California, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and New Jersey, but nearly every region in the country is affected.
Pink slips were sent out to 22,000 teachers in California, 17,000 in Illinois, and 15,000 in New York. The jobs of 8,000 school employees in Michigan, 6,000 in New Jersey, and 5,000 in Oklahoma may also be axed.
These numbers are expected to increase in coming months. Officials in Illinois report that as many as 20,000 educators could lose their jobs in the state. In California, an additional 4,000 people may be put on notice.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated earlier this week that between 100,000 to 300,000 public education positions in the US are in danger. A study conducted by the American Association of School Administrators found that ninety percent of the nation’s school superintendents plan to cut jobs in the fall. This represents an increase of about 30 percent over the previous year.
The mass layoffs have the Obama administration’s stamp of approval.

On March 1, Obama publicly supported the firing of the entire faculty and staff at Central Falls HighSchool in Rhode Island. He hailed the action as an example of what should be done at schools around the country in order to hold educators “accountable” for so-called “poor performance.” In doing so, Obama gave a green light to a nationwide attack on teachers.
The Obama administration has also tied meager federal funds to the implementation of such measures, as well as the expansion of charter schools. The crisis facing school districts in the coming school year is exacerbated by the fact that most states have used up whatever portion of the $100 billion in federal stimulus money they received from Washington in 2009.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin has proposed a paltry $23 billion education bailout. The allocation of such a sum, which is only $6 billion more than the cuts made to public education in California in the past two years alone, would be inadequate to rescue the public school system in the US.
In any case, the Iowa congressman’s proposed legislation is largely for show. As the New York Times observed in an April 21 article, “Senior Democratic aides said that because Mr. Harkin’s would add to the deficit, it was unlikely to pass.”
Major metropolitan areas are being particularly hard hit by teacher layoffs. Detroit has warned 2,000 educators—40 percent of its total teaching staff—they might be out of a job come September. News of the pink slips follows an announcement that the city plans to permanently close 41 schools in June and another 13 within the next two years.

U.S. Food Inflation Spiraling Out of Control

FORT LEE, N.J., April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Inflation Association today issued the following food inflation alert to its http://inflation.us members:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today released their Producer Price Index (PPI) report for March 2010 and the latest numbers are shocking. Food prices for the month rose by 2.4%, its sixth consecutive monthly increase and the largest jump in over 26 years. NIA believes that a major breakout in food inflation could be imminent, similar to what is currently being experienced in India.
Some of the startling food price increases on a year-over-year basis include, fresh and dry vegetables up 56.1%, fresh fruits and melons up 28.8%, eggs for fresh use up 33.6%, pork up 19.1%, beef and veal up 10.7% and dairy products up 9.7%. On October 30th, 2009, NIA predicted that inflation would appear next in food and agriculture, but we never anticipated that it would spiral so far out of control this quickly.
The PPI foreshadows price increases that will later occur in the retail sector. With U-6 unemployment rising last month to 16.9%, many retailers are currently reluctant to pass along rising prices to consumers, but they will soon be forced to do so if they want to avoid reporting huge losses to shareholders.
Food stamp usage in the U.S. has now increased for 14 consecutive months. There are now 39.4 million Americans on food stamps, up 22.4% from one year ago. The U.S. government is now paying out more to Americans in benefits than it collects in taxes. As food inflation continues to surge, our country will soon have no choice but to cut back on food stamps and other entitlement programs.

100's Lineup For Elevator Job

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- Hundreds of job seekers camped out over the weekend at a union office in Queens hoping to be first in line for jobs repairing elevators.
Some set up tents and barbecue grills along four blocks in the Long Island City neighborhood. They began showing up as early as 4 a.m. Friday for applications that will be handed out at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
The Local 3 elevator mechanics union will hand out 750 applications for 100 apprenticeships.
Apprentices with the union earn $14 to $16 an hour, and full-fledged elevator mechanics can make up to $40 an hour.
Alberto Cortes, a former security guard who has been unemployed for two years, called it "the opportunity of a lifetime."

Obama's Broken Promises

In a Reason Magazine interview last year, Ted Balaker asked me about my hopes for the incoming Obama administration. "Maybe Obama will be financially responsible," I said.

I’m so inclined to wishful thinking.

It's now been one year since Obama took office. He promised fiscal responsibility. Then he broke lots of those promises. Here is a list of some:

Promise #6: No Tax Increase on Families Making Under 250k

“Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase - not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes,” Obama said in a September 2008 town hall meeting in Dover.

Reality: In his first year in office, he proposed Cap and Trade, which would be a fat tax on everyone. He increased the cigarette tax by 159 percent, and now we have that proposed tax on fancy health care benefits.

During the campaign, he criticized John McCain for just suggesting that.

“My opponent can't make that pledge [not to raise taxes] and here’s why: for the first time in American history, John McCain wants to tax your health care benefits," he said in the same speech.

But now it's Obama who wants to tax health plans:

“This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies,” he said in his health care address to Congress.

Promise #5: Ban Earmarks

"We are going to ban all earmarks,” Obama said at a press conference on January 6, 2009.

Reality: The first spending bill he signed had over 9,000 earmarks.

Promise #4: I Won't Force Americans To Buy Insurance

During the campaign, Obama attacked Hillary Clinton:

“She believes we have to force people who don’t have insurance,” he said in a primary debate in January 2008.

In a Feb. 2008 CNN interview, he added: “If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating that everybody buy a house.”

Reality: This September, he told Congress: “Under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance.”

Promise #3: Health care negotiations will be on C-SPAN

Obama promised at least eight times that "we’re going to do all the negotiations on C-SPAN, So the American people will be able to watch.”

Reality: They haven’t been there.

Well, briefly. C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb said, “The only time we’ve been allowed to cover the White House part of it was one hour inside the East Room, which was kind of just a show horse type of thing.”

Promise #2: Putting bills online

Obama promised “When there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you the public will have five days to look online, and find out what’s in it before I sign it.”

Reality: He broke that promise when he singed his first bill, the Fair Pay Act. He's broken it since, for instance on the Credit Card Bill of Rights and an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Promise #1: Cutting spending

On the campaign trail, Obama promised to cut spending several times. In the second presidential debate, he said that “actually, I am cutting more than I’m spending. So it will be a net spending cut.”

In the third debate, he reiterated: “what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.”

Of course, Republicans made claims like that, too. Bush Sr. is famous for his “Read my lips. No new taxes” line. Bush Jr. made statements like “Prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government.”

Read more: http://stossel.blogs.foxbusiness.com/2010/01/20/obamas-broken-promises/#ixzz0m9AJlheX