Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Obama Administration Clueless on Economy
Obama: No Ally to Israel
Barely a month into the presidency of Barack Obama, a profound realization is spreading among the pro-Israel community: we do not have an ally in the White House. The growing threat that Israel and the Jewish People now face demands an immediate acceptance of the "facts on the ground" regarding President Obama's perspective and agenda, and decisive action to prevent the frightening reality that he may play a leading role in creating.American Jews are going to come to a sad realization that they got taken in by an inexperienced Chicago neighborhood organizer who said that he was pro-Israel, and Jews believed him. Americans should have learned long ago that you can't count on ANYTHING a politican says when he is running for office and wants your vote.
So how exactly did this get by most Jewish voters during last year's election? While some, including this author, warned of his dubious associations and likely course of action regarding Israel, Obama brilliantly pandered to Jewish crowds around the country with his scripted and amorphous proclamations of support for Israel, while utilizing an array of prominent Jewish surrogates in order to avoid any real accountability.
Under the new Obama administration, our federal government is now beginning to comfortably operate within the realm of the anti-Israel perspective espoused by the likes of Mearsheimer and Walt, who argue that the political clout of American Jews is used to manipulate U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of broader American interests. On one hand, President Obama receives advice on Israel, Iran and the entire Middle East from advisors such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, and Chas Freeman, all of whom possess strong anti-Israel biases that are well documented. Freeman, whose nomination to a top intelligence post faces growing criticism, was quoted as saying "the primary reason America confronts a terrorism problem today... is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation." As if that were not bad enough, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is apparently now joining the fray with her recent remarks intended to unduly pressure Israel.
On the other hand, there is also a faction of prominent Jewish politicians who don't seem willing to speak out against the President's judgment or the actions we are now witnessing. While allowing President Obama to tout their Jewish identities for political gain, these politicians are also helping the Administration to confer mainstream status and legitimacy upon treacherous new Jewish agencies like J-Street, whose vision for Israel more readily identifies with that of her enemies. Combined, the forces at work within the Executive branch are helping to create conditions that will allow President Obama to force dangerous concessions upon Israel.
The policies put forth by President Obama during his first 30 days in office paint a disturbing picture as well. In light of his first Presidential news interview having been granted to the Al-Arabia television network, his first head-of-state phone call placed to Mahmoud Abbas, and his allocation of $20 million dollars of taxpayer money to resettling Palestinians with ties to Hamas in the United States, what we have witnessed is a clear pattern of taking the pressure off terrorist groups, the Islamist regimes that support them and other tyrants who hate Israel and America in favor of offering them legitimacy and leniency. The growing danger of the Iranians and their nuclear weapons program, along with the network of villains they are organizing and arming, are without a doubt today's greatest threat to America, Israel and the Western World. As President Obama offers the Iranians more time, despite plenty of credible evidence that their nuclear weapons program is speeding ahead, he is also granting a reprieve to their vicious surrogates. For example, numerous overtures and contacts are taking place between the Administration and the Al-Assad regime, less than a year and a half after Israel was forced to destroy Syria's secret nuclear reactor facility built by the North Koreans.
Another Iranian proxy, the Hamas terror organization, is also benefiting from President Obama's appeasement and accommodation. Special Middle-East Envoy George Mitchell recently signaled U.S. approval for Hamas to join in governing the Palestinian Authority. That is in addition to the $900 million in U.S. taxpayer money that will shortly be gifted to Hamas-controlled Gaza for "aid," which will only help to ensure that the terrorists need not spend their own money on anything other than arms and death. Once Hamas is finally legitimized, which now appears to be likely, one can only imagine how their international acceptance will adversely impact the prospect of peace.
Anti-Israelism and other forms of latent anti-Semitism have also received a boost from President Obama's initial decision to send a delegation to the negotiation sessions of the upcoming Durban II conference. The U.S. representatives' silence in the face of repeated attempts to demonize Israel and vilify Zionism did plenty to gratify the gathering of wolves, before the President ultimately realized that America's presence was making things worse rather than better. The damage has been done however, and while the U.S. has indicated after the fact that it likely will not participate in the plenary session, many nations that would have otherwise followed the U.S. in boycotting Durban II will now be lending their credence. Israel's supporters must understand that this set of circumstances significantly helps our enemies' effort to delegitimize Israel's right to exist by harkening back to the "Zionism is racism" days of U.N. Resolution 3379.
In looking squarely ahead to the grave challenges we face on the horizon, it is important to keep in mind that we are still early in the new President's term, and that there are a variety of ways to demand action on the promises we were assured of during his campaign. To begin, we must call upon pro-Israel Congressional leaders and Jewish activists - those who supported President Obama and those who didn't - to hold him to his word and protect the America-Israel relationship. We cannot afford to be passive in performing this task. Where there is inaction or resistance, we must withhold all support from politicians who won't stand up to the Administration's harmful policies. The solemn oath of "Never Again" must not be forgotten in our time.
We now have to be diligently on guard to protect the interests of Jews and of our democratic ally, Israel against the Obama administration.
Previous Related posts:
Obama: No Friend of Israel
American Jews are in Denial
Can Jews Afford To "Roll the Dice" on Obama?
Morris: American Jews Misguided
Jackson Confirms Jewish Community Concerns About Obama
Foreign Policy is Reason to Vote McCain
The Jewish Case Against Barack Obama
Obama, McCain and Israel’s National Security
The Obama Voter – Not This Jew
Technorati Tags: American Jews,Israel,Election 2008,Barack Obama
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Propositions 1A - 1F - An Analysis
By going to the web site of the California Secretary of State, which you can do by clicking here, you will find both the text of the propositions and the arguments for and against it in separate pdf files.
|Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association|
THE NEW CALIFORNIA TAX REVOLT!
Vote No on Prop. 1A
March 7, 2009
"We are a government of the People and for the People instead of by and for the Politicians."
- Howard Jarvis, 1977
Proposition 1A is a blatant attempt to raise all Californians' taxes to support the continual overspending by Sacramento politicians.
Sacramento Politicians Wage War Against California Taxpayers!
Sacramento politicians just raised taxes on all Californians while 1 in 10 is unemployed, foreclosures are at record levels, and people and jobs are leaving the state.
These new taxes will cost the average California family over $1,100 per year.
That's right, higher sales taxes, higher income taxes and a higher car tax. If you have children, you have lost much of your tax credit for dependents.
Now is the time to fight back! It is time to show Sacramento that "WE THE PEOPLE" are the government. The people we elect are not the bosses, we are!
The Governor and two-thirds of the Legislature have voted to make California taxpayers the highest taxed people in the country for the next two years.
To make matters worse, these same political elitists have placed Proposition 1A on the May 19 special election ballot, which would DOUBLE the damage to taxpayers if passed.
Here is what is important about Proposition 1A: Masked behind a phony spending limit is an extension of the massive tax increase just approved. Proposition 1A means an additional two years, for a total of 4 years of record high taxes. That's another $16 billion of your money!
THE FACTS:Prop. 1A will raise taxes on all Californians and extend them for an additional two years, taking another $16 billion from you! The already approved tax increase will cost a typical California family $1,100 annually.
HIGHER SALES TAX! Prop. 1A will extend the sales tax hike for another two years. California taxpayers already pay the highest sales tax in the nation - this is a direct attack on all working families, especially low-income residents.
HIGHER CAR TAX! Prop. 1A will extend the DOUBLING of the car tax. This affects every California car owner.
HIGHER STATE INCOME TAX! Prop. 1A will extend an income tax increase for two extra years. Californians already pay the highest income tax rates in the nation. And now they will collect more from you.
REDUCTION OF TAX CREDIT FOR DEPENDENTS! Californians with children will see a reduction in the tax credits for dependents, costing families $200 per child. Prop. 1A will extend this attack on families for an extra two years.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is urging a vote of "NO" on Proposition 1A, which DOUBLES the tax increase!
DECEPTION, FAKE, FRAUD AND A $16 BILLION TAX INCREASE.
DON'T BE DECEIVED by statements that this is a "SPENDING LIMIT" initiative.
Those Sacramento politicians, who made a backroom "deal" to resolve the budget process with a tax increase that will cost the typical California family over $1,100, are offering another deal they hope will fool voters.
What they are offering is a package of measures on the May 19 Special Election ballot that will confirm their tax increase budget. However, the lynchpin of their plans is Proposition 1A.
1A is being promoted as a spending limit that will compel those under the Capitol dome to behave responsibly. This spending limit is a limit in name only because it will automatically go up as taxes are increased by the Legislature.
THE LEGISLATIVE ANALYSTS OFFICE TELLS THE TRUTH ABOUT PROPOSITION 1A
On March 13th the LAO released a budget report containing a graph that clearly illustrates how Proposition 1A would extend California taxes.
CLICK THE GRAPH below to open a larger version.
Legislative Analyst's Office says: "Proposition 1A Results in Tax Increases."
Click here for complete analysis by the California Legislative Analyst.
THE FIRST STEP IN THE NEW CALIFORNIA TAX REVOLTSPREAD THE WORD with our printable fact sheet. This one-page summary explains in clear English exactly why Proposition 1A means HIGHER TAXES. Print out as many copies as you like and give them to your friends, family and neighbors. Keep one for yourself so you'll know what to say when people ask you how they should vote on May 19th. You'll have all the answers right in your hand! Click here to download our Prop. 1A Fact Sheet.
WHAT ELSE IS ON THE BALLOT?
The following are also part of the Sacramento politicians' budget and tax package:
Prop. 1B: Provides extra funds for schools and community colleges starting in 2011 to compensate for cuts in the current budget.
Prop. 1C: Allows the state to borrow $5 billion against future state lottery sales; allows the state to change the lottery system to generate more revenue and use funds for programs other than education.
Prop. 1D: Allows the state to divert $608 million from Proposition 10 (tobacco tax for children's health care) to general-fund costs of children's health care in the fiscal year beginning July 1. The amount drops to $268 million a year from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2014.
Prop. 1E: Allows the state to divert $230 million a year from Proposition 63 (taxes the wealthy to fund mental health programs) to offset general fund costs of other mental health programs for two years beginning July 1.
WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE THE TAX REVOLT! TOGETHER WE CAN SHOW SACRAMENTO WHO'S BOSS! VOTE "NO" ON PROP. 1A.
Knowledge is power! Get informed, be informed and stay informed.
Official "NO on Prop. 1A" Window Sign
"NO on Proposition 1A" Facebook Group
Prop. 1A Fact Sheet.
To see this article on the HJTA web site go here.
|A Letter from Steve Poizner to the CRP|
Steve Poizner today sent the following letter to California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring. Steve called on the CRP to formally oppose Proposition 1A on the May 19 ballot.
Steve is vigorously campaigning against Proposition 1A because its passage would result in $16 billion in higher car, income, and sales taxes for an additional two years. A copy of the letter follows:
For the text of the letter, click here.
|Sonoma County Analysis|
The Republican Party of Sonoma County did a thorough review of the Propositions. They came up with the following information, which I have read and find that I agree with.
The measures are set up as a "family"- all measure 1, but with alphabetical sub-designations to divide distinct items as Propositions 1-A through 1-F. This listing tends to produce confusion among the voters on the various parts of the "family" of propositions, making it more difficult for voters to remember which to favor and which to oppose on a divided ballot. It is a way of getting voters to vote on the "package" without looking carefully at the contents. Unfortunately, some will fall for this calculated ruse. The Sonoma County Republican Party thinks the voters are due more than disrespectful ruses from their government. We have looked carefully at each proposition and have come to a common conclusion: it is not just the ballot numbering that is a ruse.
In this election, California voters are facing a barrage of unparalleled falsehoods and misrepresentations. Proponents of these bogus measures called for a May vote hoping for a low voter turnout. Do not be bamboozled. We hope you will vote as we suggest, but at all hazards: VOTE in this election!
Proposition 1-A: THE "RAINY DAY" BUDGET STABILIZATION FUND
VOTE NO on this fraud. If politicians could be prosecuted for deceptive advertising this little item would land a bunch of Sacramento hacks in jail. According to the Secretary of State's Ballot Label for this proposition, the measure would "limit future deficits by increasing the State's 'rainy day' fund," but it would also exact "higher state tax revenues of roughly $16 billion." Yes, Proposition 1-A is nothing less than the authorization of a massive tax increase to deposit in a state "reserve;" but these additional reserve funds are intended to be spent when state revenues drop below the amount "needed" to fund the government. Those who decide how many dollars are "needed" to fund the government also decide when to spend the reserve. In the end, the State "Rainy Day" reserve is nothing more than another pot of money to feed the big government monster.
Proposition 1-B: EDUCATION FUNDING. PAYMENT PLAN
VOTE NO on this "save now - pay later" scheme. The Secretary of State says, "Potential state savings of up to several billion dollars in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Potential state costs of billions of dollars annually thereafter." Temporary cuts to education made now will be added back to the education budget later and taxpayers will receive the bill for the "repayment."
Proposition 1-C: LOTTERY MODERNIZATION ACT
VOTE NO on this shell-game gamble. If "modernizing" means increasing the public debt by writing IOU's in the name of California taxpayers to the California State Lottery, then this could rightfully be considered as a contribution to progress. The State is having problems selling its unsustainable debt instruments to investors, so why not just strongarm some more credit from one of its own public-private partnerships?
Proposition 1-D: CHILDREN'S SERVICES FUNDING
VOTE NO on this bait and switch sham. The California Legislature imposed a tax on cigarettes a few years back on the pretence that the new tax would yield money for early childhood programs. Now, here is that same Legislature in your face telling you that it wants to move that money around in whatever way it sees fit. Make a promise. Find an excuse. Break the promise. See a pattern here?
Proposition 1-E: MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING.
VOTE NO on this hand-is-quicker-than-the-eye scam. Californians voted in 2004 to provide funds for specific mental health services. It was called Proposition 63. Now comes the Legislature to undo the work of the supporters of Proposition 63 by getting what they hope is a forgetful public to take money from that purpose and give it over to another purpose. So much for public earmarks! You may get your wish today, but ultimately all forms of revenue will go to the general fund where politicians can use it to meet their own agendas. Don't fall for this undermining of the California initiative process.
Proposition 1-F: ELECTED OFFICIALS' SALARIES. PREVENTS PAY INCREASES DURING BUDGET DEFICIT YEARS
VOTE NO on this sly bit of chicanery. The measure only empowers the Director of Finance to prevent the Citizens Compensation Commission from recommending an increase when a deficit year is declared. Of course, the politicians can still pass their own increases; but even if they don't, it would be a small loss compared to the big money showered on their campaigns by the unions and other special interests. Why punish our own people for having the courage to represent us?
|May Propositions: Fix is in|
Dan Baren, Chairman of the Lincoln Club of Orange County and Richard K. Wagner, President of the Lincoln Club of Orange County wrote an article in the Orange County Register. You can read the article here.
The governor claims these "reforms" will solve California's current budget crisis and prevent future calamities. He will ominously warn that all hell will break loose if voters fail to pass these initiatives. The governor's propaganda machine will go largely unanswered - as potential opponents of the initiatives, both from the left (labor unions) and the right (business and taxpayers groups), have tacitly signed on to the deal or are simply sitting this one out.
That's unfortunate because the initiative package championed by the governor is a sham and does nothing to address the real problems in Sacramento - runaway spending, an ever-increasing tax burden and a budgetary process that is controlled by special interests, namely state employee unions.
Start with their blatantly dishonest packaging. Proposition 1A, the cornerstone measure of the package, asks voters to rubber-stamp one of the largest tax increases in state history. You would never know it by reading the official title of the measure - "Spending Cap Amendment."
Even worse, the official ballot statement opposing 1A makes no mention of any tax increases. Rather than use the persuasive anti-tax message submitted by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, the secretary of state selected an argument authored by labor groups and lamenting that the spending cap will make it too hard for the state to keep spending.
The fix is clearly in.
|Other Information on 1A -1F|
The following are links to articles commenting on the Propositions, particularly the deceptive Proposition 1A:
May Ballot Props - a Really Bad Deal, Assemblyman Ray Haynes
PROP. 1A: FR INTERVIEW WITH ECONOMIST BEN ZYCHER WHO SAYS THE MEASURE DOES NOT DELIVER ON A PROMISE OF A REAL SPENDING LIMIT
Assemblyman Jim Nielson Blasts Proposition 1A
Orange County Republican Party Joins Growing GOP Opposition To Special Election Ballot Props
There are many other articles, but you get the gist.
After reading all of the above material, you have probably come to the conclusion that Propositions 1A -1F should be defeated on May 19th. Do not be fooled by the so-called "spending cap" in Proposition 1A. As you have read above, it is not a true spending cap, and, of course, Proposition 1A extends the higher taxes for an additional two years.
If you still have some questions, or doubts about whether to oppose the Propositions, please feel free to contact me.
Before closing, I would like to address one other issue. I have heard it said that the Republican Party is just the Party of No. That all the Republicans do is oppose other people's ideas, but don't have any good ideas of their own.
There was an alternative to the vote of the Legislature to approve the present budget last February. Most Republicans in the legislature knew that. Republicans have presented viable alternatives to the huge budget that the California legislature adopted in February, including myself. It is not true that the only possibility was to adopt the budget presented because there was no way to cut further spending and because the State would have become insolvent. You can read my proposal here.
We are Republicans. We stand for liberty, limited government and low taxes. The Propositions 1A through 1F raise taxes and increase spending, the opposite of what we stand for. Higher taxes decrease Liberty. We need to take a principled stand for what we believe in.
Vote NO on Proposition 1A and on the other Propositions.
San Fernando Valley Republican Club
Former Los Angeles Mayor, Richard Riordan says May Ballot Propositions are a scam.
Go here to read the article in the Los Angeles Times
Here is an excerpt:
If you think Bernard Madoff is the swindler of the year, stop and consider Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, the gang responsible for the ballot measures we'll be voting on in May.Additional Update - April 27, 2009
Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times reporter and analyst, wrote an article today titled,"California budget fixes on May 19 ballot are mostly shams and frauds"
One can always tell that a California election is drawing near because commercials lying about ballot propositions start crowding commercials lying about detergents and pharmaceuticals off the TV.Read the whole article.
It remains obvious to everyone, except the uninformed public, many of whom will be swayed by and believe the deceitful advertisements that unashamedly lie about the Propositions, that these Propositions do nothing to fix the State Budget problems. Time to send the Legislature back to the drawing board to cut the fat. Don't believe them when they tell you there is no room to cut. Spending by the State Government has increased 50% in the past five years, while the population of California increased 10% during the same period. Why? The State has added 50,000 employees to the State payroll over the past 5 years. Why?
There is room to cut. The problem is the legislators don't want to offend the special interests that fund the Democratic Party.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Obama Makes U.S. Vulnerable
President Obama’s stewardship of the national security portfolio to date amounts to a wrecking operation, a set of policies he must understand will not only weaken the United States but embolden our foes. After all, the Communist agitator Saul Alinsky, a formative influence in Mr. Obama’s early years as a “community organizer,” made Rule Number One in his 1971 book Rules for Radicals: “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”President Bush, whatever else you can say about him, was very careful to make sure that our enemies never got a perception of the U.S. as being weak or vulnerable. Is that why we were never attacked after 9-11? Will the actions of this President encourage at attack because we will be perceived as weak? Only time will tell.
According to this logic, the various steps Barack Obama is taking with respect to the armed forces, the foreign battlefields in which they are engaged, our allies as well as our adversaries will not only diminish our power. They will encourage our enemies to perceive us as less powerful – with ominous implications. Consider some illustrative examples:
* The Obama administration is cutting the defense budget by 10%. The result will be to preclude much, if not virtually all, of the modernization that will be required to prepare the U.S. military to contend with tomorrow’s wars. Most of what the Pentagon spends goes to fixed – and growing – personnel-related costs (pay, bonuses, health care, etc.) and operations. As a result, at Obama funding levels, there will not be much available even to “reset” today’s forces by refurbishing the equipment they have been using up in present conflicts.
* The President is on a path to denuclearizing the United States by refusing to modernize the arsenal or even to fund fully the steps necessary to assure the viability of the weapons we have. He hopes to dress up this act of unilateral disarmament by seeking to resume arms control negotiations with Russia, as though such throw-backs to the old Cold War and its bipolar power structure apply today – let alone that there are grounds for believing the Kremlin will adhere to new treaties any better than the previous ones it systematically violated.
* For good measure, Mr. Obama is mounting a frontal assault on the armed forces themselves. The President plans to repeal the law prohibiting homosexuals from serving in the military. It is absolutely predictable that significant numbers of servicemen and women – including many of the most experienced commissioned and non-commissioned officers – will retire rather than serve in conditions of forced intimacy with individuals who may find them sexually attractive. The effect will be to break the all-volunteer force.
* Then there are the Obama initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan. The President’s adoption of a deadline for withdrawing most U.S. forces from the former and his signaling that – despite a near-term 17,000 troop “surge” – he is preparing to turn the latter over to the oxymoronic-dubbed “moderate” Taliban are conveying unmistakable messages to friends and foes alike: Under Barack Obama, it is better to be a foe of America than one of its friends.
This message is, of course, being strongly reinforced by the treatment he is doling out to nations in each category.
* Friends like the Poles and Czechs have been left in the lurch as the Obama administration intimates that the United States now thinks Europe does not need after all to be defended against Iranian nuclear-armed missile threats. Not since Jimmy Carter abandoned the NATO deployment of so-called “neutron bombs” has a President conveyed such a devastating message of weakness and irresolution in the face of hostile threats to our European alliance partners.
* Other allies have not fared much better. Israel is on notice that its security interests are going to be sacrificed to the Obama administration’s pursuit of a Palestinian state – even one ruled by a terrorist organization like Hamas (or, for that matter, Fatah) committed to Israel’s destruction. Britain has been told it neither deserves nor has a “special” relationship with the United States.
* Meanwhile virtually every enemy of the United States is the object of assiduous cultivation and overtures for rapprochement by the Obama administration. It will reward IranSyria can expect the Golan Heights and removal from the terrorism list even as it pursues nuclear arms, renews its overtly colonial hold on Lebanon, supports the terrorists of Hezbollah and helps its abiding master, Iran, destabilize Iraq. for “going nuclear” with normalized relations.
* As mentioned above, Russia gets to be treated like a superpower again while it arms Iran, inserts bombers and naval units into our hemisphere, wields its energy leverage against our friends in Europe, Ukraine and Georgia and squeezes our supply lines into Afghanisan. There are no repercussions for China as it makes a mockery of the administration’s beloved Law of the Sea Treaty by threatening an unarmed U.S. naval vessel in its Exclusive Economic Zone.
* Last but hardly least, a “respectful” Obama administration seems keen to embrace those in the Muslim Brotherhood and like-minded Islamist organizations who seek to impose the toxic theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls Shariah on distant populations – and insinuate it into our country.
Can there be any doubt what America’s adversaries make of all this? Great grief will come our way if they conclude, as Alinsky surely would, that our power is waning, and that they can exercise theirs with impunity against our interests – and those of whatever friends we have left.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Sen Gregg: Obama's Budget will Bankrupt America
“Today’s analysis of the President’s FY 2010 budget by the Congressional Budget Office confirms that under the President’s plan, our debt will increase to shocking levels that are simply unsustainable and will devastate future economic opportunities for our children and grandchildren.Contact your Congressman and Senators and ask them to vote against this huge expansion of government and the probable economic ruin of America.
“According to CBO, the President’s budget would double publicly held debt in five years and nearly triple it in ten years. President Obama’s borrow-and-spend-and-borrow-more policies result in debt growing to 82% of GDP by 2019. The last time the debt was near that level was in 1948 when the country was paying off its debts from World War II.
“This debt buildup is due to massive spending that we cannot afford, and deficits that go unaddressed. Unfunded entitlement obligations also are ignored. Debt at that level is unsustainable and represents an unprecedented threat to our economy and the value of our currency. This debt could very well bankrupt future generations.
“Our struggling economy is now at a crossroads, and I strongly urge the Democratic majority to show the fiscal restraint needed to control spending, maintain a fair tax policy and cut the deficit, so that we can head off the avalanche of debt that is poised to crush the economy.”
Technorati Tags: Obama Budget,Obama,Judd Gregg,Deficit
Roots of the Crisis
1965 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is created.
HUD and FHA insure loans for borrowers with insufficient credit, thereby driving down interest rates for low-income borrowers and artificially increasing the amount of housing produced and sold.
1977 – The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) becomes law
and requires banks to loan to the areas where the banks are located, regardless of the eligibility of potential borrowers. To enforce the statute, government agencies take the information they gather on the banks into consideration when deciding to approve applications for new bank branches or for mergers or acquisitions.
1992 The Clinton Presidency Begins
Government weakens bank lending standards. A now-discredited study published by the Boston Federal Reserve enables Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to accept lower underwriting standards for mortgages they are seeking to purchase, so they may expand their portfolios, enable private banks to make more loans and influence the housing sector.78
At the same time, Congress weakens Fannie and Freddie standards. The Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act (FHEFSSA) is passed into law. This act mandates that the GSEs increase their acquisition of bank loans made to risky and lower income borrowers. GSE Fannie Mae announces a trillion dollar commitment. Banks know they can meet CRA requirements by giving these loans, and that they will be able to pass the risk of such loans on to the implicitly taxpayer-backed Government Sponsored Enterprises, so they make lower quality loans.
Also in 1992, Countrywide, Wachovia, and others pushed by Federal Reserve publications and other regulations begin loaning to clients with no or bad credit. Lenders are able to pass on the added risk of these loans by selling them to the GSEs, who guarantee, repackage, and sell them as securities with the implicit backing of the government in the case of default.
2003 Corruption at Fannie and Freddie
In 2003, the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates to 1% – the lowest since the 1960s. The rate allows borrowers to borrow at an interest rate lower than the rate of inflation, effectively subsidizing borrowers, encouraging banks and individuals to borrow as much as possible.
President Bush calls for reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by increasing their capital-reserve requirements, the percentage of liquid assets lending institutions must keep on hand incase of financial trouble.17 Third-party groups call for the two Government Sponsored Enterprises to be fully privatized, rather than the current status which privatizes profits but socializes risk. Congress, heavily lobbied by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to oppose the reform, opposes reform.Frank: “I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two government sponsored enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis… . I do not think at this point there is a problem with a threat to the Treasury.
— Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), at a hearing in 2003
Read the whole article.
Technorati Tags: Economic Crisis,Economic Meltdown,Mortgage Meltdown,Banking Crisis
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Saturday, March 07, 2009
A Purim Guide to the Perplexed
Yoram Ettinger, March 6, 2009
Assembled from various Jewish Sages
1. THE TIMING – THE JEWISH MONTH OF ADAR. Adar is the root of the Hebrew adjective "Adir" (glorious, awesome, exalted, magnificent) and the Hebrew verb “Le’Ha’adir” (to glorify), which are frequently employed in the Old Testament (e.g. the Hymn of the Sea following the Parting of the Sea). It is, also, a derivative of the Akkadian word Adura (heroism). Jewish tradition (Babylonian Talmud) highlights Adar as a month of happiness, singing and dancing, prohibiting eulogies and fast on Purim. The zodiac of Adar is Pisces (fish), which is a symbol of demographic multiplication. Purim is celebrated on the 14th (in non-walled towns) and (in Jerusalem) on the 15th day of Adar (March 10/11, 2009), commemorating the national liberation of the Jewish People in Persia and the (161 BCE) victory of Judah the Maccabee over Nikanor, the Assyrian commander. Moses – whose burial site is unknown - was born, and died (1273 BCE), on the 7th day of Adar, which is Israel's Memorial Day for soldiers, whose burial site is unknown. The events of Purim occurred following the destruction of the 1st Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (586 BCE) and the exile from Zion, during the leadership of Ezra who returned to Jerusalem, and the inauguration of the Second Temple (3rd of Adar, 515 BCE) by Ezra and Nehemiah. Nebuchadnezzar died in Adar 561 BCE (Jeremiah 52:31). Einstein published the theory of General Relativity in Adar 1916.
2. PURIM'S Hebrew root is fate/destiny (“Pur”), as well as “to frustrate”, “to annul” (“Le’Ha’fer), “to crumble” and “to shutter” (Le’Phorer), reflecting the demise of Haman.
3. PURIM – A (522 BCE) WAR OF CIVILIZATIONS between Mordechai the Jew and Haman the Iranian-Amalekite – constitutes an early edition of the war between Right VS Wrong, Liberty VS Tyranny, Just VS Evil, Truth VS Lies, as were/are the precedents of Adam/Eve VS Snake, Abel VS Cain, Abraham VS Sodom & Gomorrah, Jacob VS Esau (grandparent of Amalek), Maccabees VS Assyrians, Allies VS Nazis, Western democracies VS Islamic terrorism.
4. MORDECHAI, the hero of Purim and one of Ezra’s deputies, was a role model of principle-driven optimism in defiance of colossal odds, in face of a global power and in spite of Jewish establishment. According to Judaism, deliverance is ushered by the bravery of faith-driven individuals, such as Nachshon - who was the first to walk into the Red Sea before it was parted – and Mordechai. He was a politically-INcorrect statesman and a retired military leader, who practiced “disproportionate pre-emption” instead of defense, deterrence or retaliation. The first three Hebrew letters of "Mordechai" spell the Hebrew word "Rebellion" ("Mered"), which is consistent with the motto/legacy of the American Founding Fathers: "Rebellion against Tyranny is Obedience to G-D"). Mordechai would not bow to Haman, the second most powerful person in the Persian Empire. Mordechai was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, the only son of Jacob who did not bow to Esau. The name Mordechai is also a derivative of Mordouch – the chief Babylonian god.
Mordechai was a descendant of King Saul, who defied a clear commandment and spared the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, thus causing further calamities upon the Jewish People. Consequently, Saul lost his royal position and life. Mordechai learnt from Saul’s error, destroying Haman (a descendant of Agag the Amalekite) and his entire power base, thus sparing the Jewish People a major disaster.
5. QUEEN ESTHER, the heroine of Purim’s ESTHER SCROLL (the 24th and concluding book in the Old Testament) was Mordechai's cousin. One cannot comprehend Purim without studying Esther Scroll. Esther demonstrates the centrality of women in Judaism, shaping the future of the Jewish People, as did Sarah, Rebecca, Miriam, Batyah, Deborah, Hannah, etc. Sarah was the first Jewish woman, and Esther was the last Jewish woman, mentioned by the Old Testament. Sarah lived 127 years and Esther ruled over 127 countries. The name Esther is a derivative of the Hebrew word "Hester" - "clandestine", "hidden", "subtle", which was reflective of her (initially) unknown Jewish identity and subtle-style at the royal court. The name Esther is also a derivative of Ishtar – a Mesopotamian goddess, Astarte – a Phoenician goddess. In fact, the one day pre-Purim Fast of Esther (commemorating the three day fast declared by Esther in order to expedite deliverance), was cherished by the Marano in Spain, who performed Judaism in a clandestine manner. The Scroll of Esther is the only book in the Old Testament, where the name of G-D is hidden/absent. It has been suggested that the explicit name of G-D is absent because the Scroll of Esther is the only Old Testament book, which deals exclusively with the Diaspora and not with the Land of Israel. According to Michael Bernstein, the noun "King" appears 182 times in Esther Scroll, which is the total sum of 26 (numerical value of G-D) times 7 (days of creation). Esther’s second name was Hadassah, whose root is Hadass – myrtle tree in Hebrew – which constitutes a metaphor for eyesight 20:20 and is identified with Venus (hence, Esther’s other Hebrew name – Noga – glaring divine light, which is Venus in Hebrew). Myrtle flowers and leaves are a traditional decoration of brides.
6. THE PERSIAN KING appointed Mordechai to be his top advisor, overruling Haman's intent to prevent the resettling of Jews in Zion, the reconstruction of the Temple and the restoration of the wall around Jerusalem. He foiled Haman’s plan to exterminate the Jews. The king prospered as a result of his change of heart and escaped assassination. That was the case with Pharaoh, who escaped national collapse and starvation and rose in global prominence, once he appointed Joseph to be his deputy.
7. CONVICTION-DRIVEN transparency/bluntness is one of the lessons of Esther Scroll, "Megilat Esther" in Hebrew. The Hebrew root of "Megilah" is "Galeh" – exposed, overt, in-the-open – the opposite of "Esther"-"Haster" (hidden). The contradiction between these terms constitutes a cardinal lesson: life is not a picnic; it is complex, full of contradictions and difficult dilemmas. One should be driven by principles, rather than by shifty convenience, in order to attain one's goals. Just as (Esther) the covert became overt, so would pessimism be transformed into optimism, if one adheres to one's long-term conviction, rather than to one's immediate convenience.
8. PURIM'S FOUR COMMANDMENTS:
*Reading/studying the “Esther Scroll” within the family highlights the centrality of family, education, memory and youth as the foundation for a solid future.
*Gifts to relatives and friends emphasize the importance of family and community.
*Charity (at least the value of a meal) indicates the value of compassion.
*Celebration and Happiness sustains the element of optimism and faith as the backbone of an individual and a nation.
9. TEN PARTIES are commemorated by the Scroll of Esther – the king's 2 parties for the entire kingdom and for Shushan (the capital), Esther’s coronation party, the king's and Haman’s party, Esther’s 2 parties for the king and Haman, Jewish deliverance party, post-deliverance parties in the entire kingdom and in Shushan and the 10th party is the traditional annual party. The number "Ten" has been very significant in Judaism: 10 commandments, 10 days of atonement, 10 plagues, 10 miracles during the Exodus from Egypt, 10 chapters and 10 parties in Esther Scroll, 10 key biblical hymns, 10 divine Genesis assertions, the 10th Hebrew letter is "Yod" (G-D), 10 measurements of wisdom, 10 spiritual dimensions, 10 sanctuary crowns, 10 tribes of Canaan, 10 participants as a quorum in Jewish services, etc.
10. THE FAST OF ESTHER (on the day preceding Purim) symbolizes the turning point from near-oblivion to deliverance. The fast constitutes a sobering morality-driven experience, which stands in contradiction to – and above – partying. Mordechai fasted upon learning of Haman’s conspiracy against the Jews. Esther declared a three-day Jewish fast, in advance of her crucial meeting with the king.
11. LETHAL ENEMY DESTROYED & COMMEMORATED. The pre-Purim Sabbath is called "Memorial Sabbath" ("Shabbat Zakhor"), commemorating the war of extermination launched by the Amalekites against the Jewish Nation, since the Exodus from Egypt. One of Purim's lessons is that there are enemies, whose strategic goal is extermination, advanced by the tactical element of false-tenuous accommodation.
Technorati Tags: Judaism,Israel,Purim,Haman
A Letter To Secretary of State Clinton from Israel
Secretary of State Clinton must accept that most Israelis object to two-state solution
Dear Ms. Clinton,
This letter was originally written in Hebrew, which you would probably have trouble reading. However, I know that more than a language barrier stands between us. More than 3,000 years of history make a difference too. There are historic lessons and perspectives that the Jewish people learned in person. At this time, on the eve of Purim, when again we see a Persian archenemy planning to exterminate us, all the ancient defense mechanisms are emerging within us – the ones that refuse to buy into the false promises of those who view themselves as Israel’s friends, and as such tell us what is good for the Jewish people and for the State of Israel.
You came here from the world’s greatest and strongest democracy. You come from the Democratic Party and you know how to recite the familiar mantras, claiming that the United States respects Israel’s democracy and will cooperate with any elected Israeli government.
Well, Israeli democracy has spoken: Most Israeli citizens do not wish to establish an Arab terror state in our homeland. If your democracy is real, you should of course respect the democracy of others as well.
However, as we all realize that what guides the US is not democracy in other countries, but rather, what the American Administration perceives as American interests – it would be worthwhile to remind you of Einstein’s definition for madness. He said that madness is the attempt to repeat the same action time and again, in the hopes that the result will be different next time.
The US, while conveniently ignoring the values of democracy, attempted on more than one occasion to appease aggressors, especially by sacrificing the interests of other states. Yet it always ended disastrously. Only when these aggressors attacked the US, its citizens, or its interests, America changed its policy.
At this time it appears that the US is planning to appease the Iranians, Syrians, and Palestinians by paying with “Israeli currency.” As you recall, dear Ms. Clinton, we have too much history. We remember what happened when the Free World was willing to sacrifice Czechoslovakia in order to appease Hitler. We are unwilling to risk our very existence in order for the US to buy itself a quiet withdrawal from Iraq.
Nobody really thinks that words or economic sanctions will prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons. America’s declarations that it will destroy Iran should it dare attack Israel with nuclear weapons don’t help us, because we are unwilling to be the excuse for attacking Iran after we’ve already been exterminated. This too is a historical lesson we bear. We are also unwilling to see the desire to appease the Sunnis in Iraq to prompt an American payment to the Syrians and Palestinians.
Don’t you understand that pressing Israel to renounce the Golan Heights in order to buy Syrian cooperation with the withdrawal form Iraq will not calm the Mideast, bring peace, or reinforce western democracy? Rather, it will encourage the Arabs to continue on the path of terrorism because you will prove to them that terrorism pays off.
Dozens of bloody conflicts are taking place worldwide. The vast majority pit Muslims against their neighbors. The US is not fighting Jihadist terror in Afghanistan and Iraq because Israel is building houses in the West Bank. One cannot cure a global disease by using a local lotion; however, you may prompt a global Jihad flare-up should you try to sacrifice Israel’s interests in order to appease Muslim terror.
And if everything is no more than a show – hollow words empty of all substance – and the only purpose of your visit was to press the upcoming government to form a cabinet that would be convenient for the US and bring leftist Trojan horses into it – then certainly it would be worthwhile to remind you, Ms. Secretary of State, that Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak failed to realize your dream or President’s Bush’s vision – to give the Arabs another state – even when they were in power.
So why should this suicidal attempt succeed now, after they lost the support of the Israeli people? Ms. Clinton, do you also believe that only Likud can realize the plans of Peace Now?
Arieh Eldad is a National Union Knesset member
From YNET News
Technorati Tags: Judaism,Israel,Two State Solution,Palestinians