Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ben Stein Says Ron Paul Uses “Anti-Semitic Arguments”

Former actor-turned-economic and political advisor Ben Stein claimed Ron Paul was using an “anti-Semitic argument” when Congressman Paul argued the United States should refrain from bombing Yemen in a December 28 interview on CNN's Larry King Live.

Rep. Paul, a Republican from Texas, has argued for removing U.S. soldiers from the Middle East because the American presence there is increasingly seen by many Muslims as a foreign occupation force. Responding to Rep. Paul's argument that Americans should mind their own business and not become the policeman of the world, Stein argued: “No, we're not occupiers. That's the same anti-Semitic argument we've heard over and over again. That's the same anti-Semitic argument we've heard over and over again.”

Rep. Paul responded by saying, “That is a vicious attack,” and Stein defended his statement by saying, “Look, that is not a vicious attack.”

The argument began when Dr. Paul noted that American foreign policy experts make bombing decisions while “never asking the question: What is the motive?” He went on to explain that the most recent would-be airline hijacker “said why he did it. He said because we bombed Yemen two weeks ago. That was his motive.” Dr. Paul then went on to explain that the United States is falling into the interventionist trap:

Osama bin Laden said that he has a plan for America. First, he wants to bog us down in the Middle East in a no-win war. He wants to bankrupt this country, demoralize us, as well as have us do things that motivate people to join his radical movement. It seems like we have fallen into his trap.

Dr. Paul (he's an obstetrician as well as a Congressman) noted that the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, now in their seventh and ninth years respectively, have spurred terrorist attacks from Muslims who want the foreign troops out of their countries. Ben Stein responded to Dr. Paul by saying, “I never heard anything quite like that in my whole life. What he's basically saying is that we are doing something wrong by defending ourselves. Look, if these terrorists are trying to kill the government of Yemen, we've got to help defend them. They are our friends.”

That was an odd retort, since it leaves the question of who the “ourselves” is in Stein's sentence. While the question of whether Yemen is a government that ranks among “our friends” is debatable at best (it's a corrupt pseudo-democracy with a horrible human-rights record), it hardly stands to reason that defending a rather insignificant and corrupt government on the other end of the planet is equivalent to defending U.S. soil.

Asked again why terrorists were targeting the United States rather than other free countries, Stein replied, “They're terrorists and murderers because they are psychos. They're terrorists and murderers because they are psychos, same as all terrorists and murderers.” But, of course, if they are “psychos,” then they don't act with any reason. And if they don't act with any reason, then there's no reason to believe they would target the United States more than any other country. In fact, if they are indeed insane as Ben Stein suggests, there's less chance of them attacking the United States than the country where they are currently living because attacking the United States requires the kind of travel and planning that the insane rarely undertake.

Stein's attack on Dr. Paul is only the latest gaffe by the former movie actor. Stein served as a frequent financial advisor on CNBC in 2007, where he doled out terrible predictions in a debate with Euro-Pacific Capital President Peter Schiff. Faced with dire warnings about the coming housing market crash from Schiff, Stein predicted a healthy housing market. “Sub-prime is tiny. Sub-prime is a tiny, tiny blip,” Stein stressed, adding:

The financials, as I keep saying, are just super-bargains. I predict that, like, Merrill Lynch which is an astonishingly well-run company. Did you know that a couple of days ago it was trading at barely more than seven times earnings? Financials typically trade at a low P-E [price to earnings ratio], but this is a joke. This stock, they might as well be giving it away in cereal boxes and giving it away, that's how cheap it is.

Ben Stein made that investment advice when Merrill Lynch was selling at $76.04 per share. That value quickly sunk to $21 per share and the firm only avoided bankruptcy after a 2008 Bank of America merger that nearly bankrupted the banking giant (Bank of America is the largest bank in the United States). Stein also predicted the stock market would continue to climb during the August 2007 CNBC show. “I think stocks will be a heck of a lot higher a year from now than they are now,” Stein announced confidently. When he made this prediction on August 18, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was bouncing between 13,000 and 14,000, but within a year and a half, the DJIA had sunk to less than 7,000.

Throughout the heated debate, Stein never even tried to explain why Paul's contention that the United States should not be the policeman of the world is anti-Semitic. Ben Stein's accusation of “anti-Semitic argument” is clearly as accurate as his financial predictions several years ago. Perhaps that's why some Ron Paul supporters have started a “Win Ben Stein's Apology” page on Facebook, a play on the former actor's old game show Win Ben Stein's Money. Larry King announced that he would invite both people back onto the show December 29 to continue the heated conversation.

Car dealers want to keep buyers of dying brands

DETROIT — This Christmas and New Year, the auto industry is worried about the orphans.

There are about 3 million of them: Customers who either lost their dealer because of closings in 2009 or whose current car brand is going out of business. And it's pitting carmakers and car dealers against one another as they fight for who'll win that business.

Urban Science, a consultant firm in Detroit, says 1,467 dealers closed in 2009. The bulk were General Motors or Chrysler dealerships. They were forced out of business when the carmakers filed for bankruptcy and could close weak dealers.

Auto sales are expected to rise slightly in 2010, up to around 11 million, compared with fewer than 10 million sold in 2009. But dealers are still expected to close at a faster rate than usual, because GM isn't done closing outlets.

GM is killing the Pontiac, Saab and Saturn brands. Its Hummer brand will likely be sold to a Chinese company. That leaves Pontiac, Saab and Saturn customers needing a new place to service their cars.

If GM can't hang on to these customers, it risks losing sales to other brands.

"GM desperately needs those sales and that market share," says Michelle Krebs, senior analyst and editor at consumer website's AutoObserver publication.

Wooing orphan customers with offers

In an effort to prevent this, GM has sent mail to millions of customers, offering free oil changes and other bonuses to keep people shopping at GM dealers. They've also offered rebates up to $2,000 to customers willing to buy another GM brand.

"The challenge for us is to grab those customers by the hand and make sure they know where to go," said Susan Docherty, GM's vice president of U.S. sales, in a recent conference call.

The automaker has been sharing customer lists from closing stores with remaining dealers and urging them to reach out to customers.

But dealers will need to use that information correctly, says Katherine Kress, vice president of customer marketing at Urban Science. Bombarding customers with new car offers just months after they bought a car will be a waste of postage, because those buyers likely won't be back in the market for a couple of years.

"The more information the automaker can provide the dealer, the better the brand will be at keeping those customers," Kress says.

Other dealers — those who no longer sell GM brands but might have other competitive brands still operating — are desperate for those customers, too. The bulk of dealer profits comes from service work, not new car sales, so it's crucial for dealers to keep those customers coming back.

Just another hurdle for dealers

Providing good service also is key to making the next new car sale, Krebs says. "It's not very glamorous, but it's the bread and butter of a car dealership," she says.

The battle for service business and new customers is another hurdle dealers will have to jump in 2010 to stay in business, but many dealers are prepared for that, says Randy Berlin, global practice director for Urban Science.

"Dealers are resilient business people. ... They've got revenue channels besides new vehicle sales that allow them to maintain their businesses," he says. "They've made it through the worst of it, but they need to maintain their owner base and service business."
























英國‧twenty-ten? two thousand and ten? 2010英語怎麼說?


有些人認為唸作twenty-ten,有人偏好唸成two thousand and ten,甚至有人唸two-o-one-o。


但節目來賓克里賓斯認為,老一輩的人大多會唸成two thousand and ten。
























李光耀週二(12月29日)晚上應邀在“通商中國”組織在金字塔俱樂部(The Pyramid)舉行的成立二週年紀念晚宴和會員對話會上,在應提問者要求分析中國人民的心態時指出,中國傳統上是將本身視為世界的中央王朝,現在雖把周 邊各國都視為平等國度,但那只是理論上的表述。



李光耀指出,當他10月底在美國華盛頓發表演講時,如實評估現實情況後,提到美國必須繼續維持 它作為太平洋地區超級強國的地位,以維護它在本區域的核心利益,如果它不同亞太區域保持接觸,將削弱它在全世界所扮演的角色時,中國的年輕網民卻把他這番 話理解為要美國去“制衡中國”,於是在互聯網上大肆批評。














“正因為我們是個立場獨立的國家,也是對局勢的獨立觀察者,所以當我們發表看法時,別人會說: ‘啊,這是新加坡的觀點,是個現實的觀點’。如果你每次只會如鸚鵡學舌般重複美國、中國或是日本的立場,那你將被別人視為毫無價值,是個傀儡、是只鸚鵡, 那就完蛋了。這是我們必須維護的立場,別去管別人會不會對我們有所不滿。”






(新加坡)被指涉嫌連撞3人後逃逸的羅馬尼亞全權公使約內斯庫,疑在車禍前曾在建安大廈(Peace Centre)一家酒廊喝酒。





羅馬尼亞大使館的一名職員說者,約內斯庫已回國度聖誕直到1月,並要記者向大使館經濟參贊科謝魯(Alexandru Nicolae Coseru)詢問其他詳情。但記者一直無法聯絡科謝魯。







第一、接受國(receiving state)可以要求派駐國(sending state)免除這名官員的豁免權。
















(新加坡)在印度洋塞舌爾群島海域被索馬里海盜騎劫的新加坡註冊集裝箱船“Kota Wajar”號已獲釋,21名船員健康狀況良好。


“Kota Wajar”號是太平船務(私人)有限公司(PIL)所有。董事總經理張松聲週二(12月29日)受訪時說,海盜是在新加坡時間前晚約10時在索馬里岸外的哈拉德雷將船釋放,但表示細節不便透露,包括贖金。

EXCLUSIVE: Photos of the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 Bomb

Accused Bomber Abdulmutallab's Underwear, Explosive Packet and Detonator

A singed pair of underwear with a packet of powder sewn into the crotch, seen in government photos obtained exclusively by ABC News, is all that remains of al Qaeda's attempt to down an American passenger plane over Detroit.

As seen in these photos, the alleged bomb consisted of a packet of powder sewn into the briefs of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian. Al Qaeda took credit Monday for the attempted bombing, boasted of its ability to overcome U.S. intelligence and airport security, and promised new attacks.

The first photo, to the left, shows the slightly charred underpants with the bomb packet still in place. All photos include a ruler to provide scale.

The bomb packet is a six-inch long container of the high-explosive chemical PETN, less than a half cup in volume, weighing about 80 grams.

In the second photo (right), the packet of explosive powder has been removed from the underpants and displayed separately.
A government test with 50 grams of PETN blew a hole in the side of an airliner. That was the amount in the bomb carried by the so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid over Christmas 2001.

The underpants bomb would have been one and a half times as powerful.

Mumbai suspect is US double agent, India claims

An American man charged with plotting the attacks on Mumbai was a double agent for both the United States and al-Qaeda terror group Lashkar e Taiba, Indian officials have claimed.

David Headley, a Pakistan-born American national arrested in Chicago in October, is alleged to have carried out reconnaissance missions in the run-up to the Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people were killed.

He is also believed to have been present in the terrorists' "control room" in Pakistan where their handlers directed the killing spree over an open telephone line.

According to Indian officials, Headley travelled to India again in March this year, with the knowledge of American agencies who did not inform their Indian counterparts. During the trip, Headley is alleged to have collected intelligence for future terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets, including India's National Defence College.

Indian officials are desperate to question Headley but have been frustrated by American refusals to grant them access. A team of Indian investigators travelled to Washington shortly after Headley was arrested in October but soon returned after their American counterparts told them they would not be able to meet him.

They want to question him about the Mumbai attacks involved Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency in any way and the role of Indian extremists in providing logistical support.

American officials say that under US law they cannot force any person in their custody to give evidence to foreign agencies. But Indian intelligence officers have questioned why Washington is not doing more to help their own inquiry and suggested Headley's connections with American intelligence agencies is behind the reluctance.

Headley, who was born Daood Syed Gilani and schooled in Pakistan before moving to Philadelphia with his American mother in 1977, was convicted of smuggling heroin into the United States in 1998. He served only 15 months in jail after agreeing to become an informant for the Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA). He changed his name to David Headley in 2006.

According to Indian officials he continued to serve as a DEA informant until shortly before his arrest in October. Indian intelligence sources believe Headley may have been recruited to work for the CIA which, along with the FBI, shared intelligence with the DEA and other government agencies after the creation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre in 2004.

B. Raman, a former senior official in India's intelligence agency, said: "He was working for Lashkar e Taiba, taking photographs and video recordings of the [Mumbai] hotels and harbour. And he was an agent for the DEA on drugs, so in that sense he was a double agent.

"Indian officials are very keen to question him about his network, but we can't because we might find out about any connections with the CIA or ISI. They don't want that to happen. The Americans say 'you ask us what you want us to find out and we'll share the information'," he added.

Dennis Hastert: A Portrait of a Political System Termite

The Erosion & Rotting of a Nation’s Foundation

TermitesWhile dictionaries and encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, provide a thorough definition and description of insect termites, none offers any information on the semi-human termites imbedded within the political system of our nation, where they feed on the lobby and special interest Political Eco System while they cause serious foundational and structural damage to the welfare of the public majority, and to future generations’ prosperity and liberties. These Political System Termites (PST) and their colonies exist and thrive within various branches and layers of the political governing system, and they go by different names or titles, including Representative, Senator, Secretary, and Advisor. Regardless of title differences and purely cosmetic differentiations and technicalities, they belong to the same political eco system and all are considered members of the PST family. This article will focus mainly on Congressional Termites.

Let’s start by comparing some general overlapping characteristics between the widely acknowledged and recognized insect termites and the still-waiting-to-be recognized and defined Political System Termites (PST):

Insect termites divide labor among gender lines, produce overlapping generations and take care of their young collectively. Political System Termites divide their activities based on a corruption hierarchy, create networks of laws and legislations to protect themselves and the establishment, and protect one another collectively, including their retired then turned lobbyist seniors – regardless of cosmetic brand differentiations, such as ‘D’ or ‘R.’

Insect termites are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests. Political System Termites are also economically and politically significant as pests that can create a seriously damaging web of laws and regulations particularly harmful to society at large, while sucking up taxpayers’ resources and trust, and betraying the people’s interests in exchange for establishment and external interest connected personal gain.

Insect termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. The potency of Political System Termites has a bit less to do with their actual numbers, and much more with the power and freedom granted to them by the very same victims they feed and extract upon. After all, PSTs are in charge of making the laws and rules governing their own existence and survival.

A typical insect termite colony contains nymph workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals of both genders, sometimes containing several egg-laying queens. A typical Political System Termite colony may include a Speaker of the PST Colony, Chairmen and Chairwomen of sub-colonies, congressional larva (aka aides), and extended networking PSTs in media and PR colonies.

The most significant difference between insect termites and Political System Termites has to do with their ecology. While the former are important in nutrient recycling, habitat creation, soil formation and quality, the later is not known for any positive contribution to the human eco system, at least not in the last few decades. The only known habitats for Political System Termites are those marked by social deceases such as bribery, greed, prostitution, treason …

This should be enough for a preliminary albeit simplified scientific definition and general description of Political System Termites. I will leave further and more expanded descriptions and literature to sociologists and political scientists in academia, where time always seem to be abundant to formulate definitions and answers into long winded gobbledygook no one ever seems to understand, let alone critique.

Instead, I will provide you with a short portrait of a known Political System Termite which acted as the Speaker of the PST Colony of Capitol Hill for nearly a decade. This example should sufficiently illustrate how these termites go about eroding and rotting the nation’s foundation, while putting in place laws meant to ensure further and easier erosion by their larva, the future PSTs.

PST Dennis Hastert: A Portrait

PST HastertDennis Hastert, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives from 1987 until 2007, represented Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, and served as the Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007.

Prior to his two-decade long career as a congressman, Hastert was a high school teacher in Chicago with a modest family income. Yet, somehow, he managed to become a multi-millionaire while in Congress: his financial net worth went from less than $270,000 in 1986 to an estimated $4 million to $17 million. No, this was not due to a rich wife or a sudden inheritance, nor was it due to winning a lottery. This fortune came about solely as a result of his activities as a Political System Termite. We will have more on this further down the article.

This PST, while hard at work with his comrade termites eroding and rotting the legislative foundation, while filling up his personal pockets with hard-earned taxpayers money and building a fortune, was involved in almost every major scandal involving the Capitol Hill PST Colony during the last decade: From the Jack Abramoff Scandal to the Mark Foley Disaster, from being pocketed by foreign government(s) to making millions in congressionally earmarked land deals.

Well, this PST may have had retired in 2007, but he is still sucking up taxpayers money, and not a meager amount. Let’s look at the latest on this PST and on our rotten system with real rotten laws drafted by even more rotten lawmakers to benefit the most rotten ones.

Last Monday Politico ran an exposé on Hastert, who’s been collecting and spending more than $40,000 of U.S. Taxpayers’ money per month, around half a million dollars of public money per year, while working for lobbyists and doing the usual dirty lobby work for foreign governments as a registered FOREIGN AGENT. That’s right. If you are not nauseated, disgusted, and outraged, then you haven’t really registered the significance of this ludicrous and appalling exposé. Let me quote directly from the article:

U.S. taxpayers are spending more than $40,000 per month on office space, staff, cell phones and a leased SUV for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, even as he works as a lobbyist for private corporations and foreign governments.

Now, this is pretty rotten on its own, but here is why I characterized our lobby-serving anti-public political system rotten, and those crafting and drafting the laws serving this system and themselves, as PSTs:

The payments are perfectly legal under a federal law that provides five years of benefits for former speakers — but only if Hastert never makes use of his government-funded perks in the course of his lobbying work. Ethics experts say that sort of separation is hard to maintain.

Hastert “has to be meticulous in his schedule to make sure there is no bleed from his publicly subsidized office into his private practice,” said Kenneth Gross, a former Federal Election Commission general counsel and congressional ethics authority. Steve Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, called the arrangement “really concerning.”

“It is specifically prohibited — federal dollars can’t be spent on lobbying operations,” Ellis said. “We are paying for his staff [and] for a car, and we need to be very sure that he isn’t spending a dime of that money on lobbying operations. “That all needs to be above board, in the clear and transparent. And it’s not.”

So, what does Denny Boy have to say about all this:

Hastert declined to discuss the situation with POLITICO.

You must give the man credit; at least he’s been very consistent in never providing any answer, any comments, even any denial in every case – on every scandal, on every corruption case, and in regards to all never-investigated criminal deeds. This man’s record in this regard is so very long and his file of black deeds so very thick, so where do I begin and how much should I include?

Head Deep in Foreign Lobby Operations While in Office

I guess it is appropriate to start with a part of Hastert’s shady past (and obviously present) exposed by myself and by several other colleagues’ disclosures in the Vanity Fair article in September 2005:

It may be more than another embarrassing security scandal. One counter-intelligence official familiar with Edmonds’s case has told Vanity Fair that the F.B.I. opened an investigation into covert activities by Turkish nationals in the late 1990’s. That inquiry found evidence, mainly via wiretaps, of attempts to corrupt senior American politicians in at least two major cities—Washington and Chicago. Toward the end of 2001, Edmonds was asked to translate some of the thousands of calls that had been recorded by this operation, some dating back to 1997.

Sources familiar with this testimony say that, in addition to her allegations about the Dickersons, she reported hearing Turkish wiretap targets boast that they had a covert relationship with a very senior politician indeed—Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999. The targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information.

Some of the calls reportedly contained what sounded like references to large scale drug shipments and other crimes. To a person who knew nothing about their context, the details were confusing and it wasn’t always clear what might be significant. One name, however, apparently stood out – a man the Turkish callers often referred to by the nickname “Denny boy.” It was the Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. According to some of the wiretaps, the F.B.I.’s targets had arranged for tens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks. Under Federal Election Commission rules, donations of less than $200 are not required to be itemized in public filings.

So, what did Dennis Hastert have to say about all this? Just his usual:

Hastert’s spokesman says the congressman withdrew the genocide resolution only because of the approach from Clinton, “and to insinuate anything else just doesn’t make any sense.” He adds that Hastert has no affiliation with the A.T.C. or other groups reportedly mentioned in the wiretaps: “He does not know these organizations.” Hastert is “unaware of Turkish interests making donations,” the spokesman says, and his staff has “not seen any pattern of donors with foreign names.

Approximately two years after Hastert’s denying all this – his association and business deals with shady Turkish operatives and lobbyists – he resigned and immediately went on the payroll of these same shady Turkish operatives and lobbyists:

Washington – The firm of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) will receive $35,000 a month to lobby for the Turkish government, the Hill newspaper reported on April 10 citing public filings made to the Department of Justice as part of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

In August 2005, Vanity Fair magazine published a story referring to a federal investigation that looked into payments that Turkish diplomats allegedly discussed making to then-Speaker Hastert and others in U.S. government in an effort to prevent the Genocide resolution from passing in 2000.While the speaker’s staff denied any knowledge of the matter, in December 2005 Mr. Hastert shed himself of $70,000 in “tainted” campaign contributions, directing them to an unspecified charity, the Village Voice reported at the time.

Okay, that’s enough background and highlights on Denny Boy betraying his country for cash and perks from other countries, the highly shady campaign contributions, and his nonverbal confession through actions – by becoming a foreign agent and lobbyist to those whose hands fed him throughout his years in public office. Let’s look at another scandalous incident involving this same Denny Hastert:

Neck Deep in Land-Deal Corruption

When Hastert, a former high school teacher, was first elected to Congress in 1986, he showed assets worth less than $270,000. By mid 2006, after his own real estate investments, Hastert’s net worth had increased to somewhere between $4 million to $17 million. Now, how did this happen? What kind of real estate investments are we talking about here? A very special kind, indeed!

Let’s take a look at an example of Señor Hastert’s not so savvy but so very corrupt and unethical land deal:

An investigation in June by the (Aurora) Beacon News, a sister paper to The Courier News, uncovered the land deals that netted the Yorkville Republican a $1.99 million profit.

In December 2005, Hastert sold for $2.48 million a 69-acre parcel of land he purchased in 2002, taking in a $1.7 million profit. Also that month, he sold for $627,000 a one-quarter interest in an adjacent 70-acre parcel he purchased in 2004, bringing him an additional $287,000 profit.

These deals came four months after Hastert helped earmark $207 million for the Prairie Parkway in the Federal Transportation Bill, which President George W. Bush signed while visiting the Fox Valley in the summer of 2005.

Here is another detailed account of this highly shady yet legal deal:

According to Hastert’s disclosure form and county property records, a 69-acre parcel was put into a trust, Little Rock Trust #225, on May 2, 2005.

Two months later, in July 2005, Hastert pushed the highway appropriation bill through a conference committee. On Aug. 6, 2005 President Bush appeared with Hastert at a ceremony in Illinois to celebrate the new highway’s funding. On Dec. 7, 2005 the trust sold the parcel of land to the developers.

That’s right; just like that!

Waist Deep in Jack Abramoff Scandal

AbramhoffHastert and his PAC took more than $100,000 in contributions from Abramoff and his clients. In June 2003 Hastert, together with three other members of the GOP leadership, Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt, and Eric Cantor, signed and sent a letter to oppose Indian Casino expansion that would have cut into the profits of one of Abramoff’s clients. Interestingly, neither Hastert nor any of the signatories represented any tribal interests! Here are some more interesting facts on this particular case:

Seven days before writing the letter, on June 3, 2003, Hastert attended a fundraiser for his leadership PAC, Keep Our Majority, at Signatures, a restaurant owned by Jack Abramoff. Keep Our Majority collected “at least $21,500 for his Keep Our Majority political action committee from the lobbyist’s firm and tribal clients.” Hastert then failed for two years to report using the restaurant for fundraising, and did not reimburse for the cost as he is supposed to. In total Dennis Hastert and his PAC, Keep Our Majority, took in well over $100,000 in contributions from Abramoff and his clients.

You may also remember this from a May 2006 report by ABC News:

Federal officials say the Congressional bribery investigation now includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, based on information from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

Consistent Denny! Always deny, and then, turn around and continue your shady and illegal operations bolder and even more daring than the previous ones!

Knee Deep in Mark Foley Disaster

FoleyDuring the early part of the Foley Scandal Hastert denied knowing about Foley’s Page problems, but later he was contradicted by several Republican members who said they’d briefed him on this matter directly. Hastert later changed his story and claimed he may have been told but did not remember the conversations. Good ole consistent Denny! In fact, the media and members of Congress called for his resignation as Speaker of the House. The actions of Hastert’s office were also the target of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

Not only was he involved in the scandal itself, but during his involvement Hastert used his campaign funds to pay for legal fees associated with the Foley Scandal. Here are a few excerpts from a MSM exposé:

According to FEC documents, Hastert last January initially failed to disclose that legal fees had wiped out the final bit of cash he had in his campaign account. The Illinois Republican and former high school wrestling coach filed an amended finance report in February showing that his ‘06 campaign had racked up $147,000 in legal expenses in connection with the Foley investigation. In order to avoid substantial fines (and further debt), Hastert quietly agreed last summer to shut down his campaign and pay a $1,000 penalty, the FEC documents show. When he publicly announced on August 17 that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, Hastert didn’t mention his campaign’s legal debt from the Foley scandal, or the settlement his lawyers were brokering with the FEC.

It wouldn’t be difficult to fill several volumes on PST Hastert’s shady business deals, his involvements in high-profile criminal and corruption scandals, and his not very legal connections to and serving of foreign governments and entities. Most likely someone will write it; some day.

Meanwhile, as characteristic of all Political System Termites, Hastert continues to suck the public’s resources, and although technically outside the colony, through ever-expanding and far-reaching PST webs and networks, he is still at work: rotting and eroding the system.

Also very characteristically, this PST’s larva, despite their widely known and acknowledged intellectual and reputational challenges, have been supported and courted into becoming PSTs within the same colony and its network. The oldest one, Joshua, became a lobbyist for Podesta-Mattoon with hot-shot clients such as Lockheed Martin, and all this while his dad served as the Speaker of the PST Colony. Another one, Ethan, who was arrested and cited in 2001 on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and other traffic violations, who also happened to work for Dick Cheney while his dad headed the PST colony on Capitol Hill, is now running for his father’s old seat, set to prove himself a PST worthy and qualified for the Capitol Hill Colony.

As you can see Political System Termites are far more potent and destructive than insect ones. Looking at them, examining the species, as we briefly did with the one sample-Dennis Hastert, makes us ponder the validity and the real intent of the laws we are accustomed to abiding by. These legislations/laws are being formulated and drafted by our system’s termites. So who are these laws meant to serve? Who are they to benefit? One might think of the Patriot Act, funding for war(s), earmarks for ‘national security’…

And finally, all of you, at least those of you who live here in the States, are familiar with spotting and getting rid of insect termites: have your house inspected, use exterminators and treat your home if any are present. In a way, it is easier with some of these Political System Termites. All one has to do: vote them out; especially when you’ve determined their status as a PST. Then, why is it PSTs like Hastert kept getting reelected, every two years, even after all the exposures and scandals? That my friends, is the real question.

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U.S. Counts on Foreign Buyers

The Year's Last Treasury Auctions Feature Two, Five and Seven-Year Offerings

The U.S. government will again bank on foreign investors, including its biggest creditors China and Japan, to take a record-tying $118 billion in notes to be auctioned this week.

With foreign buyers holding about half of the Treasury market, their continued appetite for government securities is essential in order to continue funding mounting budget shortfalls in the U.S. at historically low interest rates. The auctions will be the last offerings of Treasury debt for 2009, adding to a record net supply of $1.48 trillion for the year.

They start Monday with $44 billion in two-year notes, followed by $42 billon ...

to continue ........

Fannie / Freddie - What Does Treasury Know?

On Christmas Eve one would think you could have a nice evening with your family. Little did I know what Timmy Geithner had up his sleeve:

The two companies, the largest sources of mortgage financing in the U.S., are currently under government conservatorship and have caps of $200 billion each on backstop capital from the Treasury. Under the new agreement announced today, these limits can rise as needed to cover net worth losses through 2012.

I see. But I thought housing was getting better? That's what I heard on CNBS Tuesday when existing home sales came in "above expectations."

But then Wednesday came around and, well, new homes? They're just not selling.

Purchases dropped 11 percent to an annual pace of 355,000, lower than the lowest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median sales price decreased 1.9 percent from November 2008.

Wait a second. How come the disparity?

Two reasons, really. The first, which the pumpers cite, is that "the tax credit was maybe going to expire." Uh huh.

No, folks, that's not the reason. The reason sales fell is that they're still falling everywhere. What's happening in the "existing home" sales numbers is that foreclosure sharks are taking a bite here and there, in many cases generating double counts in the "existing home sale" category, never mind the alleged data source in the first place. But even the NAR acknowledges that 33% of existing home sales were foreclosures, not actual organic "meeting of the minds" transactions. Take those out and existing home sales didn't rise 7.4%, they instead did their best imitation of a cliff-dive, with organic sales being a mere 4.38 million units (annualized), which is a mid-to-late 1990s print (and then again around the 1978 time frame).

The Obama administration is “beginning to realize it’s not getting better and it’s not likely to get better” soon in the housing market, said Julian Mann, who helps oversee $5.5 billion in bonds as a vice president at First Pacific Advisors LLC in Los Angeles. “They don’t want the foreclosures now, so they’re saying, we’ll pay whatever it takes to continue to kick the can down the road.”

No, really?

Mark Hanson has been on this since the beginning: if you haven't read his stuff, here's a nice treatise of why we are nowhere near recovery in the housing market. Read it and weep - Timmy has.

By the way, if you're wondering what sort of trash Fannie (FNM) and Freddie (FRE) are holding, here's what Mark says about their "underwriting quality" during the boom years:

Many lenders, especially the big banks, had in-house DU and LP underwriting ‘trainers’ that would go around to the various mortgage branches and teach underwriters how to ‘trip’ the systems in order to achieve automated loan approvals when a declination was certain, or simply get fewer approval conditions on a loan that was borderline. Getting a loan approval out of DU/LP on a borrower with a 100% DTI — with limited documentation required on the automated findings — was not uncommon.

Got that? A DTI - that is, debt-to-income - of one hundred percent - was quite possible, along with limited documentation as well.

Now let's remember that most people turn over their home about every seven years (that's the average "holding time"), so an awful lot of Fannie and Freddie's paper - quite possibly as much as half - is contaminated.

Still feeling good about a housing recovery?

If you're wondering how bad this is in the so-called "prime" loans the Mortgage Bankers Association lays it all out:

6.84% of prime loans are now delinquent (at least one payment behind but NOT in foreclosure) and 3.20% are in foreclosure. This means that almost 1 in 10 PRIME LOANS are either late or in foreclosure.

FHA loans are running close to 20% between delinquent and foreclosure-in-process. That's one in FIVE.

And of subprime loans, 41% are either delinquent or in foreclosure. Forty one percent.

A mortgage that is at least two payments late almost never "cures" - that is, once you miss a second payment you're virtually assured of an eventual foreclosure. (Some one-payment misses are legitimate errors or very temporary cash-flow disruptions.)

So let's ask a few questions here:

  1. What's the bond market going to think about a literal $5 trillion guarantee (for three years anyway) on MBS? Might some people have known about this in advance, with that being the reason for the bleed in the long end of the bond curve this last week or so? One wonders - of course nobody would ever trade on inside information, right?
  2. Why wait until the market closed on Christmas Eve for this? Oh, that's to stop a sell-off in bonds, right? Yeah, we're playing "American Idol is on, and you're too stupid to remember this for three days." Got it. We'll see how that works out.

Oh, and if that's not enough to make you vomit, get a load of this:

The government announced Thursday that it had approved Wall Street-style, multimillion-dollar compensation packages for top executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage companies that have become little more than arms of the federal government.

The two top executives at the companies, which have received $121 billion in federal aid since they were seized last year, could be paid up to $6 million each for their services this year. In total, the top 12 executives at the two firms are in line to receive up to $42 million in 2009 alone.

Cost the taxpayer an unlimited amount due to shoddy underwriting and lax (or absent) risk controls and not only do you get bailed out, you also get paid $6 million a year.

One final question: Does this force consolidation of Fannie and Freddie onto The Government's balance sheet? I'd think so - what say you CBO?

Why the Global Warming Hoax?

The major unanswered question are the motives behind all the lies, exaggerations, cover-ups, and suppression of opposing views. The scientists’ actions can be understood in part because of all the fame, luxury meetings, and millions of dollars of government money they received to promote their agenda—namely, (1) that the world was warming and (2) that human beings were responsible. If sunspots were responsible for the warming cycles, then there would be little justification for government money to subsidize the scientists to find ways to stop it.

Similarly, many big corporations saw billions in government “carbon” subsidies for windmills, research, and such, so they supported the theories as well. They could sucker the taxpayers while making for themselves an image of concerned citizens helping to “save the world.” (See Climate Money–$79 Billion So Far and Trillions To Come from the Science and Public Policy Institute.) For comparison, think also of the way many businesses supported the lies about ethanol saving energy–with billions of dollars in subsidies for ethanol production. The whole hype was another hoax. Historians one day will write in awe of America’s unbelievable waste of money and resources during the Bush-Obama years.

The crazy big-media hype was mainly for the same old reason newsboys used to shout “FIRE!” or “MURDER!” The “end of the world” is always a good topic to pique readers’ and TV viewers’ interest. Circulation and money drive big media. Everyone would pay to learn about coming disasters. Remember how, a little while ago, they were telling us that more and stronger hurricanes would be coming every year.

However, there were some real brains with other motives for promoting the lies. Extreme environmentalism has become the new socialism, an excuse for dictatorial rule to limit consumption and justify highly centralized government power “to save humanity.” Below is a list of quotes from leading leftists. There were brains behind it all, the old socialists looking for a new justification for government takeover of the economy, for a “planned” economy which they would plan and manage. Man-made global warming became the substitute agenda for Leftists who had been discredited by Reaganomics and the collapse of communism.

The following quotes were first circulated by Ralph Voss, editor of the Unterrified Democrat published in Linn, Mo. They well explain the agenda. They provide much hard evidence about the hoax. (The links to sources are mine.)

“We’ve got to ride this global warming issue. Even if the theory is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic and environmental policy.” Timothy Wirth, President of the U.N. Foundation and former Democratic U.S. senator from Colorado.

“No matter if the science of global warming is all phony…climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world.” Christine Stewart, former Canadian minister of the environment who led that country’s delegation to Kyoto.

“A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States,” John Holdren (Obama’s Science Czar) wrote in a 1973 book he co-authored with Paul R. Ehrlch and Anne H. Ehrlich. “De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation.” See also John Holdren and the Anti-Growth Malthusians for interesting links and quotations.

“The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.” Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton professor and member of Environmental Defense Fund.

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” Maurice Strong, a native of Canada considered by some to be one of the leading environmentalists in the world. He is an official at the U.N.

“It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” Paul Watson, co-founder of the environmental group Greenpeace.

“My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with its full complement of species, returning throughout the world.” Dave Foreman, U.S. environmentalist and co-founder of radical environmental group Earth First.

U.S Soldiers Are Waking Up!

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