Archive for September, 2008

Sing a song of cultism:

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

UPDATED
Please scroll down

Anthony‘s officially weirded out…and so am I:

NOTE: The first video was pulled but now is back here:

Follow-up post.

Pay attention to the messianic cult lyrics:

“We’re gonna to spread happiness.
We’re gonna to spread freedom.
Obama’s gonna change it,
Obama’s gonna lead us.
We’re gonna change it
and we arrange it:
We’re gonna change the world.”

The drumbeat, and the drummers are marking the beat. In the background, the campaign logo with the rays of sunshine added, to remind you of this poster:

If this is not a hymn to the dear leader I don’t know what is.

UPDATE, Wednesday, 1 October:
Dymphna asks in the comments,

The background — the venue — is most intriguing. Is this a library in a private school?

What’s your guess, Fausta? Someone said an NBC exec is responsible. Do you think it’s his kids’ school. The music that continues long after the video is over is every bit as interesting as the main event.

Ed found the website Sing for Change, which makes it sound as if it was just something that came out of the blue even when they acknoledge that “several musicians…three High Definition cameras (Panasonic HVX250’s), and an AVID editing facility…a RED camera set up on a SteadiCam”, a professional-quality banner and 22 children were involved. And let’s not forget a fully set up website and all those pie-in-the-sky-blue t-shirts, too.

Scoop this.org also found out about music teacher Kathy Sawada,, who supposedly had the brainstorm

She teaches at the Colburn School of Performing Arts, an elite academy in Los Angeles, CA.

The Anchoress has lots more in her roundup.

NBC denies that the Jeff Zucker mentioned at the Sing for Change post is their Jeff Zucher.

Must be a different one, then, if they say so. Would NBC lie?

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And now for a Humphrey Bogart moment

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Betty Jo’s podcast is on right now and she’s talking about Humphrey Bogart.

I posted about Humphrey Bogart in Dark Victory last year, but my most favorite Bogey scene is this one:

You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.

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ACORN, Obama, and the Mortgage Mess

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

In tomorrow’s podcast at 10AM Eastern Matthew Vadum will be my guest to explain how Financial Affirmative Action works.

Today Mona Charen, both at Real Clear Politics and NRO, explains ACORN and Obama’s ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (emphasis added):

ACORN does many things under the umbrella of “community organizing.” They agitate for higher minimum wages, attempt to thwart school reform, try to unionize welfare workers (that is, those welfare recipients who are obliged to work in exchange for benefits) and organize voter registration efforts (always for Democrats, of course). Because they are on the side of righteousness and justice, they aren’t especially fastidious about their methods. In 2006, for example, ACORN registered 1,800 new voters in Washington. The only trouble was, with the exception of six, all of the names submitted were fake. The secretary of state called it the “worst case of election fraud in our state’s history.”

Along comes Obama and the Chicago Annenberg Challenge,

ACORN attracted Barack Obama in his youthful community organizing days. Madeline Talbott hired him to train her staff — the very people who would later descend on Chicago’s banks as CRA shakedown artists. The Democratic nominee later funneled money to the group through the Woods Fund, on whose board he sat, and through the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, ditto. Obama was not just sympathetic — he was an ACORN fellow traveler.

Betsy has the must-read post on the bailout bill shennanigans:

And if Obama is the type of leader who lives up to his bragging about being able to bring all sorts of people together to solve difficult issues, why the blankety-blank didn’t he call a single House member to try to get this bill passed? It’s all well and good to blame John McCain for inserting himself into the negotiations last week, but without his efforts to bring the House Republicans to the table so that some of the most egregious parts of the bill like the money for ACORN, we wouldn’t have seen the numbers from the GOP voting for the bill that we saw yesterday.

And if you buy Pelosi’s argument that this was all the Republicans’ fault, perhaps the media could check out this video of Democrats in the House in 2004 denying that there is anything wrong at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and chewing out the regulators and Republicans who wanted more oversight. Watch the video and see how far off Nancy Pelosi is in blaming the Republicans and the free markets.

More blogging later.

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Ecuador’s new constitution: Today’s 15 Minutes on Latin America

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Today at 10AM Eastern I’ll do a news roundup on Ecuador’s new constitution, which was approved on Sunday by a 65% margin.

Chat’s open at 9:45AM and the call in number is 646 652-2639. Join me!

Yesterday’s podcast on the US constitutional issues with Andrew Grossman generated a lot of interest. When I got up this morning I found I had 110 new emails, none of them spam, so please bear with me – I will reply! – there are a number of appointments I must keep today, too. Thank you for your patience.
If you have an urgent matter please call me on my cell phone or Skype me.

Listen to Faustas blog on internet talk radio

We’ve got a hostage situation here

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

The Obama campaign better cough up a couple of hot kinky young i-Macs or their man is toast:

Why doesn’t the McCain campaign or its supporters buy 5 minute infomercials and run this in heavy rotation from now until, and through, election day? Click on that question for a second question…

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Bailout fails in House

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Washington Post and WSJ

Bailout Fails in House
The House defeated the $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan by a 228 to 205 vote. The legislation had been finalized Sunday after exhaustive negotiations, but ample “no” votes came from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle.

But it was clear that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were skittish about voting on such a dramatic piece of legislation a little more than a month before the November elections. Polls have shown voters are wary of the plan to rescue financial firms by having the federal government buy up hundreds of billions of dollars of toxic assets, and many members described Monday’s decision as a “legacy vote” similar to the decision to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

This morning I talked to Andrew Grossman on the Constitutional issues in the bailout bill but there are many more reasons why the bill should be rejected:

Dale Franks at Q&O explains Why I Oppose the Bailout. It’s a lengthy post but worth reading every word. Money quote (all puns intended)

So we’re in the middle of this crisis because the Government of the United States created the incentives that caused it.

And with all this current talk of making the bad actors pay for their sins, you’ll notice that no one is talking about changing the government’s policies that caused this. It’s never the government’s fault, apparently. They only create the incentives. And hold a gun to the banks head to comply with them. But they don’t actually, you know, sign the mortgage papers, so they’re in the clear. They can just point at the bankers and say, “It’s the greedy capitalists, man!”

Dale’s reasons are:

  • It isn’t necessary.
  • The bailout will force us all to sign on as crewmembers of Wall Street’s sinking ship.
  • It doesn’t avoid the pain.
  • It props up the guys who are the biggest problem children.
  • The market actually works.
  • This isn’t “reform” in any meaningful way at all.
  • Ownership warrants are death to capitalism.

He proposes:

  • Clear the market.
  • Protect the depositors
  • Coordinated central bank activity
  • Re-examine the CRA

Dick Armey also opposes the bailout, for similar reasons:

Granting the Treasury broad authority to buy troubled assets from private entities poses a significant threat to taxpayers and fundamentally alters the relationship between the private economy and the federal government. Despite the sweeping breadth of the proposed bailout, there is virtually nothing in the bill that addresses the underlying problems that created the housing bubble and the oversized and over-leveraged financial services sector that grew with it. Taxpayers have become Wall Street’s newest financier, with little more than a promise—and a report to Congress on “regulatory modernization”—that Congress will not let this happen again.

Hidden in the bailout bill arcana there’s another issue that Andy McCarthy points out, The Bailout Follies: Taxpayers Will Be Forced to Buy the Bad Debt of LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

So in addition to rewarding irresponsible lenders and borrowers, we taxpayers are now to be “protected” by buying the toxic debt of states, cities and municipalities. It’s one thing to throw a life-line to the credit industry; local governments, by contrast, have the ability to cut spending drastically or raise taxes if their inhabitants want government services. Elected politicians are then accountable for runaway spending and mismanagement. If Detroit or Chicago is sinking because of big-government policies, that’s what the citizens of those cities asked for by voting for Democrats year in and year out. Why should the rest of us be on the hook for that?

A good way to understand a problem is to review how it came about:
Who caused “the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression?” by Roger Kimball and The Financial Mess: How We Got Here by Abraham Miller are two must-reads.

Matthew Vadum writing at American Spectator looks at Financial Affirmative Action

Last, but not least, ack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis

UPDATE
Michael Moore gets results.

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The nuclear Venezuela Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. If you would like your posts included, please email me: faustaw2 “at” gmail “dot” com.

The big news this week:
Alvaro Uribe visited the US and spoke at the UN. The American media paid no attention to the US’s greatest ally in the hemisphere.

A new oil field recently found in Colombia is larger than expected.

Chavez is back from his tour of China, France, Portugal and Russia promising he will develop nuclear power “for peaceful purposes” with Russia’s help

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had offered help with a reactor, adding that “we already have a commission working on this issue.”

From China, Chavez got agreements on oil, producing oil tankers and a refinery, and launching a Venezuelan telecommunications satellite from China.

A more important result from the trip is that $1 billion military loan and a new oil consortium from Russia. Putin doesn’t send you $1billion without expecting really big results: Russia is bankrolling an arms race right in our hemisphere, folks.

In other news, Ecuador’s new constitution was approved by a margin of 65%. I predicted yesterday that it would pass by 60%, only because Soviet-style 99%+ margins have gone out of fashion. This is probably the first Constitution in the world which grants inalienable rights to nature

Ecuador’s proposed constitution includes an article that grants nature the right to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution” and will grant legal standing to any person to defend those rights in court.

Conveniently so, considering how it’ll be yet another weapon against foreign corporations and political enemies.

And now for the Carnival
LATIN AMERICA
Today’s Brazil, Peru, Argentina: Latin America Bond, Currency Preview at Bloomberg.

ARGENTINA
Better late than never: Ms Fernández tries to charm the markets by revisiting the 2005 debt swap

BOLIVIA
The Last Days of a Nazi-Era Photographer

Via IBD Blog, U.S. moves to suspend trade benefits for Bolivia

Bolivia es un paraiso de narcotraficantes

Evo Morales Supports Terrorist Groups

US-Bolivia economic relations hit the skids

BRAZIL
Brazil Booms by Going Lula’s Way

Brazil unveils deforestation plan: The Brazilian government has pledged to end net deforestation by 2015.

Brazilian speeder gets $1.9m fine

Real-politik: Why elections, even to lowly office, are so expensive

Lula’s oil dream

CHILE
A force for good, now: A newly streamlined army polishes its democratic credentials

What We Can Learn From Chile’s Financial Crisis. I’ll add the video as soon as the code is available.

COLOMBIA
80%’er Meets 80%’er at UN Photos: Sarah Palin meets with Uribe

Solana Says Oil Field in Colombia May Be Larger Than Estimated

New NEFA Report on the FARC’s International Support Network

CUBA
Proposed Russian-Cuba-Venezuela Space Cooperation Raises Many Questions

Cuba silent on latest U.S. aid offer
The United States made another offer of aid to Cuba, this time in the form of $6.3 million worth of construction materials. Cuba has yet to respond.

Via Lucianne, Castro’s arrogance blocks aid

Back to normal, also at Babalu

Cuba’s ambitions for growth laid to waste yet again.

ECUADOR
Correa’s Communism Set to Win on Sunday: Opposition Failed to Tell the Truth; Carter Center Lies about Ecuadorean Constitution

Ecuador Seems Likely to Clear Constitution

Ecuador: New laws, new conflicts

China, Ecuador: Beijing’s Latin American Opportunity

GUATEMALA
U.S. Coast Guard Sinks 60-Foot Cocaine “Submarine” off Guatemala-Mexico Coast

MEXICO
1,000 slain: Juárez drug war death continue to mount

Mexico on the brink?

NICARAGUA
Rewriting the book of Daniel

Nicaragua’s stellar record of treatment of dissenting opinions

PARAGUAY
Critters!

PERU
Mitsui Mining to Restart Copper Production at Mine in Peru

VENEZUELA
Chavez says Venezuela will develop nuclear power

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part X: A Venezuelan court orders the assets of Maionica and Kauffmann seized

Some possible leftovers from the Vene-Russian love affair

Putin says ties with Latin America a top priority

Chavez: Latin States Should Partner With Russia Against U.S.

Venezuelan president arrives in China

Venezuela: Iran to finance 25 factories

Downright lunacy, via IBD Blog, US Department of Energy to deliver oil from strategic reserve to Citgo

La oposición venezolana acusa a la Policía de idear un falso complot para matar a Chávez

Russia, Venezuela to Form Oil Venture, Spend Billions

Newly installed in Caracas: a monument to the FARC’s founder, Manuel Marulanda, who died of a heart attack last March.

AMERICAN POLITICS
Republican quits in Hispanic row

Moscow on the main

Change for Change’s Sake isn’t Enough

This week’s podcasts and posts

Uribe, Brazil, and the UN: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Special thanks to Eneas, GoV, Larwyn, Maggie and Maria.
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Today at 10AM: The bailout and the Constitution

Monday, September 29th, 2008

UPDATE
Andrew and I discussed many of the Constitutional questions affecting this legislation, which aims to solve the present liquidity crisis.
Among them, oversight, meaningful standards, whether the standards are capricious, who are the people on the 5-person board reviewing the Secretary of the Treasury, and the aspects of due process involving any actions.

You must listen to this podcast and read Andrew’s papers; the issues raised will affect us for generations. The podcast is here

The Heritage Foundation elucidates:

p>However, there are still two major constitutional problems that need to be addressed. First, the latest text does not sufficiently narrow the scope of authority delegated to the Treasury secretary; i.e., [2] the law provides no “intelligible principle” to guide and direct the secretary’s actions. [3] Our Constitution allows no czar, with standardless discretion to prop up or manage various industry sectors. [4] Language does exist that can both provide Treasury with the tools it needs while protecting liberty. Hopefully, conservatives in Congress will fight for such measures.

The second constitutional problem arose only after Congress tried to fix the first. Instead of finding language that properly directed executive action, Congress punted by creating a new “power-sharing” arrangement: the Financial Stability Oversight Board. Composed of the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Treasury secretary, the director of the Federal Home Finance Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, this quasi-executive entity would have unprecedented structure and power. A majority of these board members are not removable by the president except for cause.

Congress has never attempted to give the discretion and responsibility to one cabinet official who is directly answerable to the president, and then subject his actions to the direction, modification and veto of another board – especially one not wholly subject to the president’s direction and control. This oversight “fix&” makes it harder for the American people to hold their elected leaders accountable. It remains dubious whether such an entity would pass muster in the courts, as it clearly offends Article II and the lines of democratic accountability that it established.

(more…)

Congress has a bailout deal, Ecuador has an election, Dan has an ad, I’ve got jazz

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Washington Post: Lawmakers Reach Accord on Huge Financial Rescue

Congressional leaders and the Bush administration this morning said they had struck an accord to insert the government deeply into the nation’s financial markets, agreeing to spend up to $700 billion to relieve Wall Street of troubled assets backed by faltering home mortgages.

House and Senate negotiators from both parties emerged with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. at 12:30 a.m. from a marathon session in the Capitol to announce that they had reached a tentative agreement on a proposal to give Paulson broad authority to organize one of the biggest government interventions in the private sector since the Great Depression.

Full details of the plan were not immediately available. Lawmakers said their staffs would be working through the night to assemble the package and post it on the Internet.

Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Reach Tentative Bailout Deal

Top U.S. policy makers emerged from hours of tense negotiations with a clear message just after midnight Sunday morning: A deal to bailout U.S. financial markets has been agreed on and all that remains to be done is to commit the legislation to paper.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.), were flanked by key negotiators in the Capitol as they announced that a $700 billion plan to have Treasury buy up toxic assets had been all but finalized after hours of exhausting negotiations.

“I think we’re there,” an exhausted Mr. Paulson said, a sentiment echoed in the statements of negotiators such as House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and Senate Banking Committee head Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.).

Hugh Hewitt calls it A Responsible Exercise of Representative Government; Ed says ACORN is out:

The funding of the Housing Trust Fund, the slush fund that feeds ACORN and La Raza, is out. You can thank House Republicans for enough obstructionism to get that result. Other changes made to the final version of the bailout, according to a source on the Hill:
  • Provision to provide unions and other activist groups with proxy access for corporate boards
  • Provision to mandate shareholder votes on compensation issues (union priority)
  • Diversion of funds into a housing fund to support left-wing activist groups like ACORN
  • A provision to allow trial judges to arbitrarily adjust mortgages, creating bonanza for trial lawyers
  • A provision to require the government to sell to state and local governments at a discount homes the government acquires as a result of foreclosure

It also suspends mark-to-market rules and requires a study on their effects on the collapse.

Color me skeptical. I don’t believe for a moment that ACORN will go quietly into the night, and I am fully convinced that Nancy and her camarilla will do anything to sink the economy if they believe it will get them control of all the branches of government and the Treasury.

Will have to read the actual document.

UPDATE
I don’t have time today to study the bill, but Larwyn sent this Comparison of original Paulson bailout to compromise proposal from House Republican Whip Roy Blunt’s office.

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Ecuador is holding a constitutional referendum today. The Beeb touts it as Ecuador’s poor bank on referendum. In addition to lowering the voting age to 16, instituting civil marriage for gay couples, and legalizing abortion, the 444-article Constitution will

allow President Rafael Correa to seek re-election while giving him a hammerlock on the courts and the power to dissolve the legislature.

ECrisis has the story-behind-the-story.

Noticias24 reports that Correa’s all set to default on Ecuador’s foreign debt.

I predict that the referendum will be approved by 60% of the official results; however, I was talking to a friend who believes it would be 51% at best.

This will be Ecuador’s 20th Constitution.

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Dan asks, So, Why Not Post The Ad?

Why not, indeed?

Yes, we ban

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It’s pouring rain outside, which makes it a perfect day for listening to jazz music. The WSJ’s 5 best books on jazz, selected by John Edward Hasse:

Speaking of jazz, here are Sarah Vaugh and a very young and handsome Winton Marsalis (wearing white tie!)

Come to think of it, maybe I’ll spend the day listening to Marsalis YouTubes…

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I don’t really like wearing rain boots, but it’s raining outside, so here are a nice pair of Kate Spade rubber flats:

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EU report: “Blogging is also seen as an anti-establishment activity”

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

At Eurosoc:
The EU Blog Wars Have Begun

A recent European Commission report leaked earlier this month said that the EU was “losing the battle for hearts and minds” partly because of the activities of anti-EU bloggers. The recent defeat of the Lisbon Treaty in the Irish referendum led Eurocrats to study blog activity in the Republic; they concluded that Eurosceptic blogs, some by anonymous sources, outnumbered pro-treaty blogs. Of course the fact that the main Irish newspapers were overwhelmingly pro-Lisbon didn’t seem to worry them unduly.

“Blogging is also seen as an anti-establishment activity,” the report concluded, complaining that “the quality of debate has suffered” as a result of blog dissent attracting the attention of readers from TV and radio.

Bloggers anonymous and otherwise have good reason to be delighted to have proved a thorn in the EU’s side on this and other issues. The mainstream media on continental Europe is increasingly docile: Blogs offer the only real dissent in some countries. Even in Britain, where Eurosceptic newspapers enjoy a large market share, the reporting of EU issues is feeble: Dedicated Eurosceptic bloggers like Richard North spend almost as much effort correcting false Eurosceptic reporting as they do criticising the EU itself.

That’s Richard North of the excellent EU Referendum.

That bloggers challege the EU establishment comes as no surprise. However, the EU establishment is now changing the game:

The EU itself has decided that bloggers pose a threat to its status and even existence.

This is war.