CREW’s Top Ten Scandals of 2009 (Including Some That May Have Slipped Under Your Radar, But Which Will Keep on Giving!)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

What better way to end 2009 with a snappy overview of the “top ten” ethics scandals of the year!

Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has put together a review of some of some of the high points, along with CREW’s wishes for the new year.

Of course, there’s the TARP/executive pay bonuses,  the SEC’s failure to catch Madoff  as he ripped off clients (starting way back in 1992), and a few sex scandals involving the likes of Gov. Mark Sanford and Senator John Ensign.  Then there was the political corruption of  Reps. Charlie Rangel and John Murtha with transgressions ranging from failing to pay taxes to shady pay-to-play schemes.

But there a few other items that may have slipped under your radar.

Here’s a sampling (the report is in PDF format):

CREW’S TOP TEN SCANDALS OF 2009

Public Corruption Prosecutions Were So 2009.
In 2009, the Supreme Court accepted three cases challenging honest services law, a provision in the federal mail-fraud statute making it illegal for public or private employees to “deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” This statute is a critical prosecutorial tool for fighting public corruption, having been used to convict former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and a large number of those involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal. During oral arguments, the Supreme Court justices focused on all the ways the statute can misapplied, strongly suggesting they plan to limit the statute’s breadth, if not hold it unconstitutional. Already, the prosecutors
handling the case of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich have indicated they will re-indict the governor to delete the honest services fraud counts. In addition, Rep. Jefferson plans to ask a court to give him a new trial, though he was convicted of other charges in addition to honest services fraud.

CREW’s holiday wish: For the honest services fraud statute to remain intact so the law can continue to be used to convict the likes of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Jefferson.

Ah, what would the year be like with the Roberts Supreme Court pulling some sort of crap?

And then there’s this:

What, The FEC Is Supposed to Enforce (Not Gut) Campaign Finance Laws?
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is failing in its mandated mission to administer and enforce regulations governing the financing of federal elections. Violations of federal campaign finance law are likely to go unpunished thanks to the partisan deadlock that has rendered the FEC ineffectual. With three Republican and three Democratic appointees, the FEC consistently fails to take action against even the most egregious violations. As The Washington Post said in an op-ed on June 15th: “The three Republican appointees are turning the commission into The Little Agency That Wouldn’t: wouldn’t launch investigations, wouldn’t bring cases, wouldn’t even accept settlements that the staff had already negotiated.”

By not taking action against federal candidates who break the rules, the FEC is encouraging unethical campaign tactics that privilege money over principle. The FEC commissioners’ failure to take their oversight mission seriously threatens to undermine campaign finance laws and further flood the electoral process with money. With a lack of campaign finance oversight, political influence on Capitol Hill will be bought by the highest bidder and the common good will be sacrificed to special interests.

CREW’s holiday wish: A restructured FEC with an odd number of commissioners, as opposed to  he current even number of six, would go a long way to ending the deadlock and allow the FEC to effectively enforce campaign finance laws.

Gee, where’s all that “bipartisanship” when you need it??

All in all, it was a banner year for scandals, but it looks like the stage is set for some of them to staying around as the “gifts that keep on giving.”

…including one that’s just revving up!   Ever hear of the “Caribbean Caucus?”  From the Miami Herald:

Feds probe banker Allen Stanford’s ties to Congress

The ties between indicted banker Allen Stanford and members of Congress — including millions in contributions and weekends in five-star Caribbean resorts — are now the subject of a sweeping federal investigation.

Lots of money floating around over the years to some familiar names: the powerful Republican Pete Sessions, John Sweeney, Gregory Meeks, Donald Payne, Phil Crane, the Republican National Committee, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, the G.W. Bush inaugural committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and more…

Won’t that make a great start to 2010??

P.S.–HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!

A Black Blogger’s Take on Obama’s Ambivalence toward the Real Problems in the Black Community

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

During last year’s primary season I discovered The Black Agenda Report which bills itself as “The Journal of African American Political Thought and Action.”  Glen Ford, the site’s executive editor, did NOT support Obama during the primaries and expressed his fear that Obama would actually set efforts to address real concerns in the black community back.

Ford and a group of writers continue to write compelling essays about the Obama Administration and his perspective is valuable as being an expression of how some blacks who are not Obots view what’s going on.

The most recent post deals with TBAR’s disappointment about Obama’s “ambivalence” over the effect of the current economic situation on black Americans.

Obama Preserves Entrenched Power, Sidesteps Racial Disparities

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama deploys the same twisted logic as generations of white, corporate politicians.”

In his own clichéd words, President Obama reveals himself to be, at best, ambivalent on the need to confront historical and current racial disparities in the United States. Behind the awesome hype and intellectual façade lies your garden variety corporate-bought politician whose worldview is no deeper than the shallowest catchphrase in long-discredited American economic discourse: a rising tide lifts all boats.

Ford takes Obama to task for stating that more “welfare” will meet the real needs of blacks.  Ford argues that real programs addressing such things as “institutionlized racism” and structural unemployment are needed, not just more “assistance.”  I’ve bolded a few key comments in the excerpt.

No Pretense of a Racial Policy

So confident is Obama that his personal Blackness is all that is required to offset horrific realities such as New York City’s nearly 50 percent Black male non-participation in the formal job market – statistics from 2003 that have certainly worsened in the current crisis – he offers not a single programmatic response. Obama is quick to point out that his plan is “is designed to help all people” – another way of saying there’s nothing in it to address the specific problems of people of color.

Obama claims there is no need for specific programs.”

He deploys the same twisted logic as generations of white, corporate politicians, who pointed to Black overrepresentation on welfare rolls as proof of the government’s deep concern for African Americans. In fact, concentrated levels of public assistance, food stamps and unemployment checks are elements of the misery index that, especially when dramatically skewed by race, cry out for specific programs and policies of remediation. Obama claims there is no need for specific programs because “folks who are most vulnerable are most likely to be helped because they need the most help.” Thus, he turns logic and language on their heads. The deeper Blacks sink into the abyss, the more they are eligible for general assistance – therefore, the Obama plan already contains everything African Americans need as a group, and will be of more use to them than to more advantaged groups. According to this line of reasoning, the worse things get, the more responsive the Obama plan is. There’s no need to deal directly with the underlying causes of disproportionate misery, such as institutional racism.

Presidential Denial

Obama is not even willing to fully acknowledge that Blacks and Browns have actually suffered disproportionately in the meltdown. In three successive sentences, he three times uses the word “probably” to describe what are solid facts. African Americans have not “probably” lost a disproportionate amount of jobs – Obama’s own Labor Department figures show that to be the case, on top of previously existing, horrendous rates of structural unemployment.

African American children are not “probably” over-represented among those lacking health insurance. They are, in fact, disproportionately uninsured. Obama belatedly corrects himself on this point, but his reflexive reluctance to give voice to the glaring racial disparities that are fundamental markers of American life, is deeply disturbing.

I love Ford’s opening description: “So confident is Obama that  his personal blackness is all that is required….” There are legitimate underlying problems that still need to be addressed and that the election of a black to the Presidency can’t cover up…especially a person like Barack Obama, who has no core values whatsoever and whose allegiances are all about drawing more power to himself.

But Ford and many of us already knew this during last year’s election season.  The “post-racial” candidate who spent most of the primaries playing the race card to win black votes has predictably been shafting this bloc by ignoring very real problems.  Instead, the Obama regime will offer more housing loans to folks who can’t afford them and trot out his “blackness” when re-election time comes around. In the meantime, very real issues concerning the black community will be brushed aside as usual.

And, of course, the same technique is being used with the poor in general and the middle class, as their  futures are thrown out the window to save the big banking friends of the Obama Administration.  There seem to be plenty of “programs” for bailing out banks (like TARP)  and taking over industries and “reforming” healthcare…Meanwhile,  the little guy will sink.

A writer in an earlier piece (about Guantanamo) asks the question “… Is Bush Still President?”

Seems appropriate since the “change” promised doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight…

Sharia Finance: Rapidly Increasing Inroads Via American Banks…With the Help of Our Treasury Department

(Editor’s Note:  IA has visited the subject of Sharia law several times…See below for earlier posts on the topic. The accepted spelling is Sharia or Shariah.)

~~By American Lassie

The first thing I’d like to state before I get into the meat of this article is the fact I hold the opinion that most Muslims are just like you and me, only believing in a different religion. Their everyday lives are much the same as ours. It is the fanatical Hanbali form of Islam that is so autocratic and dangerous and considered authoritative in Saudi Arabia and other areas around the Persian Gulf.

During the Bush Administration, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Robert Kimmett’s visit to Saudi Arabia and other oil rich Persian Gulf states was with the purpose of recycling of petro dollars in the form of foreign investment in the United States to alleviate the financial crisis.  I’m sure Mr. Kimmett was told by the Saudis and others that in order to obtain their money, the banks would have to abide by Sharia Finance Law.  Whatever went on in his meetings with the Persian Gulf States, he came back to America and co-sponsored the Harvard University Law School’s Project on Islamic Finance.  The host of a seminar held at the Treasury Building was Neel Kashkari, Interim Secretary of The Treasury for Financial Stability and also administrator of the first of the TARP money while George Bush was President.  Kashkari was Henry Paulson’s top assistant.  Unfortunately Shariah-Compliant Finance seems to be the current party line in The Treasury Department.   (See: http://www.thebobofiles.com?p=632)

I’ll come back to this seminar later, but first I would like to present a little more background. This seminar is very important so please stay with me until the end of this article.

The United Kingdom is in deep trouble with all the concessions they have made to Sharia Finance and Sharia Law.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has caused a lot of turmoil in England with his pronouncements in favor of Shariah Law. Her Majesty’s government has allowed the establishment of at least five Shariah Courts to hear (initially) family law cases.  Polygamists in the UK can get welfare for each of their wives as long as all marriages beyond the first were performed overseas), Sharia promoting Islamists are seeking to achieve “parallel societies” here and elsewhere in the West.  Islamists secure footholds over other Muslims through “parallel societies” and then to non-Muslims.  This is an insidious industry meant to foist Islam on the policy community, the markets and western countries.

The differing views of Archbishop Williams and the Bishop of Rochester, England, Michael Nazri-Ali, are causing a rift in the Church of England. The debate over the path of the western sociopolitical system is the most pivotal in today’s world.  This is more and more evident in the crack it is causing in the Church of England.

Multiculturalism and universalism are fundamentally opposed beliefs.  The  level of danger to Britain, Europe, and the entire West created by homegrown Islamists  will be determined by which system prevails.

An op-ed by Dr. Nazir-Ali (January 11, 2008) discusses why he believes that “Britain’s campaign to reconstruct itself as a multicultural society has failed.” (See: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1574695/Extremism-flourished-as-UK-lost-Christianity.html)

Dr. Nazir-Ali has resigned his post to devote his time to working in communities where Christians are a minority.  He said he was inspired by the story of Hanna Shah, an imam’s daughter who faced being killed by her family for refusing an arranged marriage before she became a Christian.

Radical Muslims have became more militant as Britain has increasingly accomodated the strictures of Islam’s law:

“The death threats that followed Nazir-Ali’s essay only bolstered his thesis.  ‘The irony is that I had similar threats when I was a Bishop in Pakistan”,  he noted,  “but I never thought I would have them here.'”

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested that official acceptance of some facets of Sharia not only “seems unavoidable” but could actually improve social cohesion. To Williams the idea that “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said, and anything else is completely irrelevant in the process of the courts – I think that’s a bit of a danger.”
(See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7232661.stm)

Michael Nazir-Ali witnessed the realities of Sharia Law as a man in Pakistan.  He came to Britain to escape this for himself and his family and now finds himself in the same situation in Britain.  And the cultural split becomes more prevalent as native Britons see more and more acquiescence to Islamic Law. There will be more strife.  It will be battling enclaves with more and more social unrest.

Discussion about Sharia Law

From the Middle East Forum: David J. Rusin, a research associate at Islamist Watch and a Philadelphia-based editor for Pajamas Media, writes:

“Historians may one day look back on these two prelates and the church they serve —- a body faced with plummeting attendance and approaching disestablishment  — as a symbol of the early twenty-first -century discourse over the future of the West.  For now, Michael Nazir-Ali and Rowan Williams illuminate the diverging paths before us: one paved with an ardent defense of Western Liberties, the other with a nihilism that leads inexorably to dhimmitude. (See: http://www.meforum.org/1890/a-schism-over-sharia-in-the-church-of-england)

Melanie Phillips in the Spectator newspaper offered this statement in her rebuttal to Williams’ comments. (See: http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/492106/the-archbishops-speech.thtml)

“One law for all is the very basis of legal and social justice and is the glue that binds a society together.”

DO WE WANT THIS FOR AMERICA? Our Treasury Department is inviting just this scenario because of the greed of our officials.  In the wake of all the brouhaha about the banks–the Wall Street crisis, the enormous bailouts, The Federal Reserve’s suspect bailouts of AIG–one thing troubling me is the lack of publicity on our government’s support of Islamic financing. Is it being done under cover of all this other money boondoggle so that the American people don’t know what is going on?

***

“JIHAD WITH MONEY”
“While America struggles with the sub-prime and credit market crisis, Sharia-Compliant Finance, is quickly infiltrating our financial markets – and bringing Islamic Shariah Law with it.  As one leading Islamic authority on Shariah-Compliant Finance has stated, “it is jihad with money.” In a new ACT! for America video, Joy Brighton, ACT! for America’s financial expert on Shariah Compliant Finance warns America of this chilling threat.” (See: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/023435.php)

Sharia means “path” or  “path to water.”  It means God’s Law that will provide salvation if followed.  The Quran, Islam’s holy book is considered the literal word of God.  Unfortunately, the Quran is interpreted in different ways by different teachers.

Sharia governs all aspects of life, not just financial.  It governs men and women’s relations, education and inheritances.  Some Islamic nations temper the application of Sharia in criminal law, but Iran and Saudia Arabia are exceptions.  They fully implement Sharia in all areas of the law.
(See: www.cfr.org/publication/8034)

***

FROM:  Shariah, Law and ‘Financial Jihad’: How Should America Respond?
Analysis and Findings of a Workshop Co-sponsored by: The McCormick Foundation and The Center for Security Policy

(See: http://www.rrmtf.org/publications/JihadReport.pdf)

The primary purpose of Shariah is to promote Islam as the only legitimate theo-political system and to accomplish it’s dominance, through violent jihad if necessary, worldwide. (This is what is meant by the “Islamist” agenda.)  Shariah rules govern all aspects of life but are most notorious for the mandate they provide for–toning of adulteresses, execution of homosexuals, amputations for petty crimes, beheading of Muslim Apostates, institutionalized misogyny and myriad other violations of western values and international norms. For example, a popular poster from the Islamic region of Nigeria, shows the dire punishments of Shariah in a country torn in two by conflicts over new Shariah Courts.  In the top row, a woman is shown riding a bike with a man, and next is shown her punishment: being stoned to death. (Page 7)

SNIP

The Law of Shariah is the source of the command for faithful Muslims to practice jihads. For peaceable Muslims the term is usually interpreted to mean a personal, introspective “struggle” against Muslims own sins or temptations.  The authoritative rendering of Islamic jihad, however is a ‘just’ war against non-Muslims and Muslims who have gone astray.  “Shariah-adherent Muslims must engage in jihad to bring about the global Islamic state under a caliph who governs pusuant to Shariah. (Page 10)

***

Islamic Finance and the U.S. Treasury Department

The United States Treasury Department is opening the back door to Sharia Law in this country by wooing the money of the Muslim States. This wooing of Sharia began in the Bush Administration.  In addition to the Nov 6, 2008 seminar at the Treasury Dept. there was an earlier seminar on April 26, 2002. Following are the introductory remarks by John B. Taylor, undersecretary for International Affairs at the Islamic Finance 101 seminar at the Treasury Department (www.treas.gov/press/releases/po3068.htm).

“Welcome to Islamic Finance 101.  As the Undersecretary of Treasury I want to thank you for joining us at this seminar on the fundamentals of Islamic Finance….We are very  grateful that this diverse panel is here today to share their knowledge with us.  They have joined us from great distances – traveling from Bahrain, Houston, Boston, and New York to share their expertise with us”
***
Treasury’s Office of International Affairs implements the U.S. Government’s international and finance and economic development polcies and develops U.S. policy toward the World Bank and IMF.  We have had a growing interest (sic) Islamic finance because of its rapid growth and significant presence in many partners of the United States such as Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Pakistan.”
***
“Today’s seminar was inspired by a round table that Secretary O’Neill attended last month in Bahrain.  At the roundtable hosted by Citibank Bahrain’s Islamic Investment Bank”—
***
“The Secretary wanted to make sure that we hosted a similar event in the United States to “demystify” Islamic Banking for our colleagues in Washington who may not have exposure to this topic.”

MORE

Then on Nov 6, 2008 there was another seminar at the Treasury Deparment.  This was the first time I learned that this was planned by the Bush Administration.  It had to be with the knowledge of the man who had just been elected to replace George Bush.

ISLAMIC FINANCE 101, Nov. 6, 2008.

Welcome by Neel Kashkari, Assistant Secretary and custodian of the first TARP money.
PURPOSE: “This forum is designed to help inform the policy community about Islamic Financial services, which are an increasingly important part of the global financial industry.
The Department of the Treasury, working with Harvard University’s Islamic Finance Project, will host speakers from academia and industry to share information on the development of Islamic Finance, both in the U.S. and globally.  The primary audience of this seminar is comprised of staff from U.S. Banking regulatory agencies, Congress, Department of Treasury and other parts of the Executive Branch.  For some in attendance this may be their first and only opportunity to learn formally about Islamic Finance.  We expect about 100 people in the audience.  The presentations will be short and focused, and directed toward policy makers rather than academics.
MORE
(See: www.saneworks.us/uploads/news/applications/7.pdf)

Representative Peter King, R-NY reacted, warning that “There are too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam.  We should be looking at them more carefully.”

While our Treasury Department is courting these people, they are teaching insurrection on our very soil.  Their mosques and schools and Islamic Centers across the country are inciting insurrection by Saudi trained imams.

THE RISKS OF ISLAMIC FINANCE:
“Of particular concern is the progress being made to establish Shariah-Compliant Finance (SCF) within Western, and most recently, U.S. banks and other institutions that trade securities.  Islamic finance’s leading Shariah authorities have made plain that they consider SCF to be “jihad with money”, “financial jihad” and a means of promoting their objective of destroying the West’s economic system and replacing it with an Islamic one.

“Incredibly, in recent days, the Treasury Department has begun embracing Shariah-Compliant Finance.  Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmett has professed an interest in “studying the salient features of Islamic Banking to ascertain how far it could be useful in fighting the ongoing world economic crises”.  According to a press report out of Saudi Arabia he has declared that “experts in the Treasury Department are currently learning the important features of Islamic Banking.” (See: www.USAStopSharia.org)

STRINGS ATTACHED TO HANBALI MONEY:
Robert Kimmett and his crew in the Treasury Department had better be sure they read the fine print.  When you accept Shariah money, you must accept Shariah Law with it.  These greedy officials at Treasury can’t see beyond their noses.  Their stupidity is going to land us in the same soup pot as the United Kingdom is in if we don’t manage to stop them.

At least Peter King, R-NY sees the danger in what is happening here.  Maybe if enough of us contact him he will raise a ruckus in Congress.  It’s worth a try.

***

Hanbali Islam (From Overview of World Religions from the University of Cumbria)–
“Today the school is officially recognised as authoritative in Saudi Arabia and areas within the Persian Gulf.”

Wikipedia article on Hanbali

Hanbali Material in English

Related Posts:

The Scanner–Politics March 18, 2009: (Taitz-Supreme Court; Sharia Law in Minnesota re: Home Mortgages; Stimulus Money Wanders from the States; Privatizing Vets’ Healthcare)

The SCANNER-Politics 11/7/08: Newsweek Editors on Charlie Rose in the SCARIEST Description of Obama So Far…(Video/Partially Transcripted); Sharia Hits the Treasury Department/HARVARD Alert!; Hill the Shill (UPDATE 1X)

While Hillary and Sarah Get Trashed in the U.S., Muslim Women in Britain Get Sharia Law

Obama-Odinga:50-50 Split Demands Sound SOOOO FAMILIAR…(UPDATE 1X–Author of “The Obama Nation” Detained in Kenya; UPDATE 2X–Corsi Released, Odinga Official Website)

Wells Fargo Bank Goes Insane! (Antidote: Nice Pictures)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s way past my bedtime and after a very busy weekend tending to my mother, just home from the hospital, I ran out of gas when it came to doing a post for today.

However, I’m still up and wired since I got off the phone with Wells Fargo Bank.

It all started when my mother and I set up a joint checking account, a sort of  “just in case” account so I could pay bills, shop, etc. if she couldn’t get out on her own.

First paper statement comes, no problem.

I go online tonight to check this little account, as well as another account that is for an A-B  trust we have.  WELL……………I see that when I sign in to the checking account, there’s the info from the A-B Trust.  Then I try my mother’s separate account and the little joint checking account is there, too.  Well, that’s OK, but what’s freaky is that I don’t have the totals for each account separately. I get the info on the A-B trust,  HER account (a living trust), each combined with the the info from the joint checking account (money which is outside the trusts) into one total.

In other words, each trust account doesn’t have its total separate…the totals both include the  joint checking account. Not good!

So I call Wells Fargo. Around and around we go on the phone…it all has to do with Social Security numbers and since I’m a trustee of  the A-B trust, well, that little checking account is joined to that.  Same thing with my mother, whose SS on the joint checking account screws up her trust and the A-B trust.  And I get linked to my mother’s trust, too!  We’re all thrown in together.   And I’m finally told that the checking account can be de-linked, but if I do that, I won’t be able to see the trust account I need to access online.  WTF???  I’m supposed to straighten it out at the branch, but they are the ones who set it up to begin with…

I can sign onto an account at Schwab and find two accounts there, mine and a trust…but when I click on the one, I get that ONE account, not the money mixed together!  At TDAmeritrade, I have a separate sign-in each for my account and the trust.  NOTHING gets co-mingled there, either.

But not at Wells Fargo. The last question the guy on the phone asked me was, “Why would you not want them linked?”    “Shit,”  I thought… but said:

“Well, it’s useless to sign on to get a total on an account and instead get a number that combines another account in with it!! “

I finished with a flourish, telling the guy that now I understood how Wells Fargo could make a dumb deal and buy Wachovia and their mortgage mess.  The same jackasses who did that deal created this nightmare with accounts being glombed together.

Now, they MAY be able to fix all this, but we’ve decided to close the little checking account and take it elsewhere if we can find a place that won’t freak over two accounts and combine them!  I mean, a trust is treated as a separate individual and money outside of the trust, stays out of it!

I know this sounds boring but these people are taking our tax money to get “bailed out” and they can’t even set up a bunch of accounts correctly and according to the damned IRS rules.

I won’t bore you with this any longer.  To reward you for your patience, I’m posting a few pictures.  The banks are closed since it’s President’s Day so I can’t do anything to straighten out this mess…so I’ll enjoy the pictures and hope you do, too.

Slick in Stylish Off-the-Shoulder PJs

Slick in Stylish Off-the-Shoulder PJs

Tico with His Mealtime Squeaker Toy

Tico with His Mealtime Dinner Bell Squeaker Toy

Tico squeaks toys when he wants to eat!  This is his favorite…

Toro Trying on Some Thread, Which Went Back to the Store

Toro Trying on Some Threads, Which Went Back to the Store for Obvious Reasons

Awhile back, someone requested more pictures of sunsets, but I thought I’d go with a SUNRISE picture instead…

SUNRISE 1/23/09

SUNRISE 1/23/09

Well, hope you enjoy your day today!

And my condolences to Lincoln and Washington who now have to share one lousy day.  Washington who??

Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY: “Fighting Dem”? Or Just Blowing Smoke for the Folks Back Home? (Guess…)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Yesterday, it really looked like we had a “Fighting Dem” as Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY went after the SEC over its failure to uncover the Madoff Ponzi scheme, didn’t it?  Ackerman is known for having a gift for making acerbic comments…but how much fight is really there?

First a bit of history on Ackerman. He was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the primaries last year, endorsing her in late January 2008. On June 5, just a couple of days before Clinton suspended her campaign early on June 7, he endorsed Obama. (There were others who waited another day, by the way. Full list of who did what, when here.)

He showed real signs of life during the Caroline Kennedy/NY Senate saga. He was the first to question her qualifications with comments like these:

From the NY Post (December 11, 2008):

Rep. Gary Ackerman of Queens, a 25-year veteran of Congress, declared in a radio interview: “I don’t know what Caroline Kennedy‘s qualifications are.”

“Except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo,” Ackerman continued on Steve Malzberg’s radio show on WOR. “I wouldn’t make J.Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven’t seen them yet.”

He took the obligatory hit at Sarah Palin on Face the Nation as things moved forward (December 22, 2008):

WASHINGTON – A Democratic congressman compared Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin, saying the would-be senator hasn’t proved she has the “guts and the gumption” to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rep. Gary Ackerman of Roslyn Heights said on CBS‘ “Face the Nation” yesterday that the Kennedy legend and connections won’t be enough to make her a successful senator if Gov. David A. Paterson appoints her to the U.S. Senate.

So, the fireworks yesterday at the Madoff hearing seem to be pretty typical of Ackerman’s style. (The video at his website is a shorter version of this clip, without the reference to “dung”):

One thing to be aware of is the fact that a lot of the money that has disappeared once belonged to a lot of folks from Ackerman’s district, so Ackerman’s umbrage will certainly play well at home!

Kanjorski-led panel reviews $50 billion fraud scheme

By MARCY GORDON
Associated Press Writer
Published: Monday, January 05, 2009
Updated: Monday, January 5, 2009 6:28 PM EST

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic House members said Monday that the alleged $50 billion fraud involving Wall Street figure Bernard Madoff reflects deep, systemic problems at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SNIP

The SIPC shortfall will only worsen the distrust of investors, already deepened by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y. His district encompasses the affluent north shore of Long Island, home to many of Madoff’s alleged victims

(Note the reference to the Great Depression, the party line these days as part of the “fear stimulus” being used to pass the pork-laden “stimulus”  package.)

But beneath the brash, confrontational style that plays well on TV, we see a typical Democrat who’s sticking with the crowd:

From November 19th, 2008:

Think Progress » Rep. Ackerman: Auto Execs’ Private Jet Travel Like Guy At ‘The Soup Kitchen In High Hat And Tuxedo’.

But by December 5, 2008:

Automakers’ fourth-and-long plea

Last Updated: December 5, 2008: 8:06 PM ET

Even Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., who was the first to raise the issue of corporate jets at the earlier hearing, seemed more open to helping the auto industry in his opening comment this go round.

“One does not always have a second chance to make a first impression. Welcome back,” Ackerman said. “The last time you didn’t get it. By coming up with this plan, maybe you do.”

From September 11, 2008:

Mortgage Mess Unleashes Chain Of Lawsuits

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 11, 2007; 10:34 AM

Credit agencies, which graded billions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities as safe investments throughout the recent housing boom, are also feeling the heat.

Members of Congress are calling for hearings and oversight, saying the rating agencies are conflicted because they are paid by investment banks that issue the securities the agencies rate. Institutional investors accuse the rating firms of being slow to downgrade securities.

“Essentially, the originators and credit raters shoved enough pigs and laying hens in with the beef herd that investors expecting prime ribs on their silver platter and money in their pocket ended up with pork ribs on their paper plate and egg on their face,” Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said in an opening statement during a Financial Services Committee hearing last week.

Nice, but what was 13 term Congressman Ackerman doing when there were calls for “oversight” when Democrats took charge of Congress a couple of years ago?  I don’t see any mention of a crusade for oversight in Ackerman’s bio and list of accomplishments at his website. I don’t have the time or inclination at this point to see how he voted when the whole business of pushing bad loans was originally put together way back when, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ackerman went along with it all then…(See his new legislation introduced January 27, below.)

And he’s right in line with all the rest on other aspects of current economic issues (Also, seee voting pattern, below):

LI House delegation to back $700B bailout

“We, the taxpayers, will get back our investment,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights). “Any shortfall where we don’t get our money back is going to be paid for by Wall Street.”

Really???

Ackerman Running for Re-election to Congress

Manhasset Press  October 24, 2008

Following his interview with the Great Neck Record, Congressman Ackerman was to head to Washington to vote on the “bailout.” With the financial crisis at the forefront, he was quick to note: “We have to correct the errors of the past.” He emphasized that the country must “restore confidence and put liquidity in the market” so that “people can pay for education, pay bills, pay mortgages, run businesses …”

With his background on financial service committees, the congressman emphasized that the country “must come up with solutions even before a crisis.”

Congressman Ackerman told how he had put in financial legislation even before this current financial crisis came to a head. His bill calls for credit agencies to be required to put like loans in a package, and prohibiting them from “rating what is not ratable.” And he emphasized that “We must hold credit agencies responsible for what they do.”

Congressman Ackerman termed this “common sense regulation.”

Blah, blah, blah…”correct the errors of the past”…Not without oversight, I’m afraid.

And in the run-up to the now “Bad Bank” which is in the works, we saw how Ackerman was already on board:

Rep. Steve LaTourette seeks help from President Bush to stop National City sale

Posted by Sabrina Eaton, Stephen Koff and Teresa Dixon Murray/ Plain Dealer Reporters November 18, 2008 09:51AM

Other committee members grilled Paulson on his failure to use money in the $700 billion bailout package to reduce mortgage foreclosures. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the committee, put in the hearing record a letter from Rep. Dennis Kucinich in which the Cleveland Democrat urged Congress to withhold more TARP money from the Treasury Department because of its failure to act on foreclosures.

New York Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman called the Treasury Department’s decision to avoid buying troubled mortgages from banks, as it originally promised, “the second-largest bait-and-switch scheme that history has ever seen, second only to the reasons given us to vote for the invasion of Iraq.”

Paulson said that the money had to be used to prevent a collapse in the financial system and that the Treasury Department is still looking for ways to reduce foreclosures.

Rep. Ackerman can display all the “righteous anger” that he wants for the TV cameras and the folks back home, but I have to ask–isn’t he really just part of “diversion” along with all the huffing and puffing about capping executive salaries?  The Madoff  issue is important, of course, but Ackerman’s brash style seems to be only style when it comes to many economic issues and, like others,  late to the party with his protests.

Eleven Democrats in the House voted against the stimulus bill…you won’t find Ackerman’s name among them.

***

ADDENDA

Rep. Gary Ackerman’s Official Website biography

According to GovTrack.us, Ackerman is a “rank and file” Democrat; OpenCongress cites a 98% record of voting with party (Votes most often with Ellen Tauscher, D-CA)

Rep. Ackerman introduced this bill on January 27, 2009 Source: GovTrack.us

H. R. 710

To secure additional Tier I capital for the United States banking system from parties other than the Federal Government by providing authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to guaranty certain new preferred stock investments made by public pensions acting in a collective fashion, and for other purposes.

If you have a public pension, watch this bill:

(2) INSTITUTION ELIGIBLE FOR INVESTMENTS- Only an investment in preferred stock that meets the requirements of subsection (e) and has been issued by a financial institution which meets the definition of a qualifying financial institution under the TARP Capital Purchase Program established under the authority of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 may be treated as an eligible investment for purposes of this Act.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-710

The Past Week: January 11-17, 2009 (Al Jazeera Hooks up with PBS; House vs. Senate/Obama and Bailout Oversight; “Everyman” Biden; Non-GMO Verification Project; “The Prisoner” is Free; Extra Anatomical Tube Bypass

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Looks like Al Jazeera finally is going to get a wider audience in the U.S.  From what I’ve seen of it on the Internet, I’m thinking it’s credible but I AM wondering about the connection to PBS!  Who set up this deal?  Was this just the Bush Administration’s idea or did the hand of Obama get involved somehow? And that the mere mention of NBC….

Al Jazeera Network TV deal broadens U.S. reach

Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:17pm EST

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Al Jazeera Network plans to announce on Thursday that it has signed a deal to run its news on Worldfocus, a syndicated nightly news program produced in New York and distributed throughout the United States.

(SNIP)

Worldfocus, hosted by former NBC News correspondent Martin Savidge, is produced by New York City public broadcaster WLIW and syndicated to a number of Public Broadcasting Service affiliates, as well as other stations in 60 U.S. markets, including 27 of the top 30.

Al Jazeera declined to disclose terms of the deal.

The service’s Arabic-language network is available in the United States through the DISH Network Corp. It has been trying to increase the distribution of its English- language network through cable television, but so far is available only in Washington, D.C., Toledo, Ohio and Burlington, Vermont.

(MORE)

The story contains more details on Al Jazeera’s expansion via the Internet, which has grown to include a free broadcast service, YouTube, Twitter…and a marketing campaign being launched in the New York  Times and Washington Post.

***

On Wednesday, Harold Meyerson wrote an op ed piece in the Washington Post on the current financial crisis and had a moment of upset:

The Money-Changers

Wednesday, January 14, 2009; Page A17

…That’s why a bill that Barney Frank is promoting in the House, which would direct banks that choose to take bailout funds to start lending to creditworthy borrowers and designate no less than $40 billion for mortgage relief, is necessary if Congress is to authorize the Treasury to spend another $350 billion on TARP. Over in the Senate, the Democrats seem inclined to think that the need for such legislation is obviated by President-elect Obama‘s promise to administer the TARP in the ways that Frank’s bill would mandate.

If Obama’s appointees inspired sufficient trust that they would be willing to take on the banks, such legislation would be unnecessary. Unfortunately, they don’t.

(MORE)

What? A bit of doubt about Obama’s choices?  But my mind, as simple as it may be, asks this question.  First, what’s going to happen between the House and the Senate?  Seems Rep. Barney is having a sudden bout of  “accountablilty” when it comes to delivering bailout money to borrowers…they should be “creditworthy.”  And  that stipulation has to be within legislation that must be passed to authorize the Treasury to spend more bailout money.  But the Senate is saying “Who needs legislation?  We’ve got OBAMA’S WORD that he’ll do exactly the same thing without the bother of a law.”

So, I then ask myself: if Obama gets his mitts on this money, does it really go to “creditworthy” individuals?  Which individuals?  Will this be “reparation” money? If the recipients are the not “creditworthy” and a lot of them are the same people who couldn’t meet previous mortgages doesn’t this mean that Obama is just repeating the “non-oversight” pattern of the Democrats that helped get us into this MESS we’re in??

***

OK, the guy they tried to tell us hung out at his local Home Depot (he didn’t) and who’s got his son Beau lined up to glide into the Senate is still being sold to us as “Everyman”??  Oh, PLEASE!  From Silicon Valley’s Mercury News, which picks up this AP nonsense:

Senate veteran, Delaware everyman faces new role

By BETH FOUHY Associated Press Writer

As for the story, it’s the same old same old…

***

So, do you have any confidence that Obama will do something to remedy this situation?  Wonder if this is even on Tom Daschle’s radar? From the American Association for Health Freedom:

The Non-GMO Project Product Verification Program is Up and Running

The governments of the US and Canada stand in sharp contrast to sixty other countries around the world, including the European Union, Russia, and China, by not requiring foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be so labeled. They do so despite good evidence that GMOs could have negative health implications for humans and the environment, and despite the fact that 87% of American consumers want products that contain GMO ingredients to be labeled.

***

This week we lost Patrick McGoohan, who was Number 6–“The Prisoner”–in the Village.  I also enjoyed watching him in “Secret Agent” (“Danger Man” in the UK)  when I was  teenager. In fact,  I had a huge crush on him!

And, we can’t forget Ricardo Montalban either, who’s own “village” was on Fantasy Island…

Godpseed…

***

Ever hear of an “extra anatomical tube bypass”?  Well, my 24-year-old nephew had this surgery on Wednesday. He was born with a congenital defect of the aorta and underwent surgery when he was about 3.  His blood pressure has always been high and the meds have made him tired.  It was now time to make the fix since he’s stopped growing.  Instead of messing with the aorta itself and dealing with possible complications from previous scarring, the procedure used was a “bypass” which eliminates the need to arrest the heart and putting the body into hypothermia.  The surgery went well.  I convinced him to go to a medical hypnotist.  He didn’t need any blood transfusions and today, 3 days after the procedure, he’s only on Tylenol for the pain (which even the day of the surgery he described as being only “soreness”) and the swelling is almost gone. And his blood pressure is better now than ever before and equalized throughout his body.

Congratulations, Mark! You did it!!

***

THE PAST WEEK

“The Black President”: A 1926 Novel “Predicts” the Politics of 2008 with Some Eerily Similar Details

The Scanner-Politics 1/15/09 (40 Musical Obama Supporters Slide-Show; Barbie at 50 [French]; Women and the World; “Obama-Cola The Great National Temperance Beverage”; Tina Brown; WLS Chicago–the Governor Sells Furniture)

Hip-Hop Inaugural Events Start TONIGHT (1/14/09)…Ludicras Co-Hosting “Urban Ball”

The Obama/Media Combine Whoring Abraham Lincoln, Non-Stop

Reality Check from Our Chicago Correspondent: University of Chicago & Its Hospital “Terminating” Jobs Like Crazy (Michelle O., Guess Shuffling All Those Indigent Patients Elswhere Didn’t Help the Bottom Line That Much? Your “Plum” Job is Going, Too!)

The Past Week: January 4-January 10, 2009 (Donor Fatigue among Obamacrats; Wes Clark; Ms. Magazine–Total Sellout; Tess; Street Numbers Man; “Grounding” with Harvesting; Betta Fish Drama)

The $700 Billion Bailout Bait and Switch

~~By American Lassie

In an earlier post, on November 4, 2008 before the Presidential race was called, I expressed a worry about where the $700 billion bail-out money was going. It didn’t seem to be going where we were told it was intended to go.

Now Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is addressing this in same manner.  On Saturday, November 15, he said we should take back the remaining money given to Henry Paulson in that “blank check.”

First we were told it was to buy mortgage-backed securities.  Then Paulson shifted gears and said it was to use $250 billion to buy stakes in banks.  The “Troubled Asset Relief Program” (TARP) would enable ailing banks to start lending money again and thus boost the economy.

-No homeowner has yet been helped and foreclosures are multiplying.
-Senator Chris Dodd said Paulson’s actions are “beyond belief.”
-Paulson told Charlie Rose  – “The driver is to have healthy banks be well capitalized so they can play for our country right now.”
-Paulson diverted $250 billion to buy stakes in healthy banks to spur lending, but they are not doing this with the money.
-Charles Schumer, Democrat-NY, fears the banks might stuff the money “under the proverbial mattress”.  It appears this is exactly what they are doing.
-Treasury hired the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. as “custodian” of the TARP program.  They also picked Mellon to receive a $3 Billion investment as part of the Capital Infusion Program.

Heads should roll !!!  Greed, corruption, and incompetence – where does it end?
Martha Stewart was imprisoned for lying – but then, she is a woman. Administrators’ neglect brought on this crisis.  It has been coming on for some time.  There were ample warnings (Bush and McCain) but Congress did nothing.  Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is one of the prime culprits.  When warned about Fannie Mae he said there was no problem there.  At the time his live-in partner, Herb Moss, was an administrator at Fannie Mae.  Conflict of interest?  I’d say so, but to paraphrase Katie Couric, “Who am I to judge anyone?”

Now everybody wants a bail-out.  The auto industry appears to be next on the list and Governor Schwarzenegger of California thinks that his state should be bailed out because California has shown discipline. (This has nothing to do with the fire – this is another matter).  Give me a break – when has California shown any discipline?  And why should that entitle them to bail-out money from us tax payers in the rest of the country?  What’s next?  The health industry, the remaining 49 states?  (Except for Alaska which seems to be doing fine, thanks to a smart governor).  Next we will have government-owned 7-11 stores.

I’m with Jim Inhofe.  Let’s demand our money back. It’s our money and we didn’t agree to this giveaway.  In my opinions, bankers can’t be trusted.  Remember Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  Greedy, crooked, conniving piece of scum…

***

Check out BailoutSleuth.com to keep up with the bailout developments and who’s getting what…