May 25th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal / By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
President Obama is no fan of Mitt Romney-style "vulture" capitalism. So what's his alternative?
All those Republicans grousing about the president's attacks on private equity might instead be seizing on this beautiful point of contrast. Mr. Obama, after all, is no mere mortal president. Even as he's been busy with the day job, he's found time to moonlight as CEO-in-Chief of half the nation's industry. Detroit, the energy sector, health care—he's all over these guys like a cheap spreadsheet.
Like Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama has presided over bankruptcies, layoffs, lost pensions, run-ups in debt. Yet unlike Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama's C-suite required billions in taxpayer dollars and subsidies, as well as mandates, regulations, union payoffs and moral hazard. Don't like "vulture" capitalism? Check out the form the president's had on offer these past three years: "crony" capitalism.
The case study is the solar-panel maker Solyndra, which was part of a green-energy sector that even by 2009 was flailing. The president took one look at the industry's utter lack of both profits and sellable products, and yelled "that's my baby!" The stimulus bill shipped tens of billions of dollars to the Energy Department to pour into green companies via grants and loans. It promised five million jobs.
The Energy Department's nuclear physicists were admittedly a bit flummoxed by the whole P&L thing, but they got their venture-capitalism groove on and in 2009 handed Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee. Even prior to disbursement, government accountants were warning that Solyndra was a lemon, but the White House didn't worry. After all, the IRS had only recently and conveniently tripled the tax credit (to 30%) for buyers of Solyndra products, which the government figured would help grease their start-up's skids.
Unfortunately, the physicist-CFOs overlooked that whole "global energy market" factor—easy mistake! Foreign competitors were already piling into Solyndra's niche. Unable to compete, the firm went bankrupt last year. And, oh, the carnage! It was kind of like . . . GST Steel! Only worse. Solyndra laid off 1,100 employees. It provided no severance, not even back pay due for vacation credits. But a bankruptcy judge would later approve $370,000 in bonuses for 20 employees.
Mr. Obama railed against the high-dollar Silicon Valley investors who lined up in front of government to "suck" the remaining "life" out of the bankrupt firm, even as employees were left to . . . Oh, wait. He said no such thing. He was probably too busy doing damage control on his other government-subsidized energy bankruptcies, from Beacon to Ener1. Or running down the latest report of a government-funded, instantaneously combusting electric car. (Karma, anyone? Now at the low, low price of $103,000. Fire extinguisher included.)
Speaking of cars, Detroit is the business venture Mr. Obama's team has been most flogging as a success. True, General Motors and Chrysler are still turning their lights on, though they'd have arguably been doing the same had they been left to go through normal, orderly bankruptcies like those that helped the steel and airline industries restructure to become more competitive.
To get to the same place, Mr. Obama's crony capitalism handed $82 billion in taxpayer dollars to the two firms. That bailout money went to make sure the unions that helped drive GM to bankruptcy (and helped elect Mr. Obama) did not have to give up pay or pension benefits for current workers. They were instead rewarded with a share of the new firm. The UAW at GM meanwhile used the government-run bankruptcy to bar some 2,500 nonunion workers who had been laid off from transferring to other plants. How truly vulture-like.
Contract law was shredded, as unions were given preference over other creditors, such as pension funds for retired teachers and police officers. Congressmen used political sway to keep open their weak auto dealerships, forcing layoffs at stronger ones (vulture . . . vulture . . . vulture). Political masters obliged the industry to pour resources into unpopular green cars. The political masters were obliged to offer $10,000 tax credits to convince Americans to buy them. (They still won't.) And the message to every big industry? Go ahead, run your business into the ground. The Capitalist-in-Chief has your back (especially if you are unionized).
So, take your pick. Mr. Obama's knock on free enterprise is that it is driven by "profit," and that this experience makes Mr. Romney too heartless to be president. The alternative is an Obama capitalism that is driven by political favoritism, government subsidies, mandates, and billions in taxpayer underwriting—and that really is a path to bankruptcies and layoffs. If the president wants to put all 3,545 green stimulus jobs he's created up against Bain's record, he should feel free.
Mr. Romney could make the comparison himself. Ronald Reagan ran against Jimmy Carter's own industrial policy, and to great success. Viewed in isolation, "vulture" capitalism has some PR downsides. Viewed against the alternative, it's a flat-out winner.
May 25th, 2012
Newsmax / By Jim Meyers and John LeBoutillier
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump tells Newsmax he is seriously considering launching his own super PAC to produce anti-Obama ads showing how Washington is allowing outsiders to “absolutely suck the blood out of this country.”
Trump sat down in New York on Wednesday with former Congressman and Newsmax columnist John LeBoutillier for an exclusive interview exploring a wide range of topics, including the economy and the deficit, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, the Keystone pipeline, the “disaster” of Obamacare, Facebook, potential GOP vice presidential nominees, and the European financial crisis.
LeBoutillier asked the real estate mogul and host of “The Apprentice” if anyone has approached him to fund a super PAC to support political candidates.
“Yes they have, and I am thinking about just doing my own super PAC.
“There was a recent [anti-Obama] commercial done where they made him look like a superhero. I’m saying, who made this commercial? I thought it was one of the worst commercial I’ve ever seen.
“If I did one I would show how bad we’re doing as a country, how disrespected we are as a country. I would show people from OPEC, 11 people sitting around a beautiful gold-encrusted table talking about how they are going to continue to rip off the United States.
“I would do one on China and talk about the manipulation of their currency, which is draining the blood out of this country. We could stop that very easily. All we have to do is impose a 25 percent tax on their products coming in. Somebody would say, Oh gee, what about free trade?
Well, I’m a believer in fair trade, not necessarily free trade. We don’t have fair trade. You try to do business in China. It’s very very hard. It’s a one-way street."
Trump flirted with the idea of a presidential candidacy last year and even enjoyed a brief turn in the polls as the frontrunner. He first gained serious attention in March 2011 with his harsh words for China and his tough critique of the Obama administration's weak foreign policy.
“My super PAC ads would be focused on how outside places and outside things are absolutely sucking the blood out of this country, and this country can’t be great again unless it really starts to generate money. You can’t fund Medicare, you can’t fund Social Security, unless we start to generate money, and we can’t because outside sources are taking our money. We’re like children with a wallet and they’re just taking the money right out of our wallet.”
Trump comments on a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showing that 48 percent of the American people think the country is in a serious long-term decline. “I’m actually surprised that 48 percent is the number because you would think it would be much higher,” he says. “If people knew what was going on, which obviously they don’t when I hear that number, it should be much higher.
Read more on Newsmax.com: Trump to Newsmax: I'm Mulling Own Super PAC to Defeat Obama
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May 25th, 2012
"180 Countries Agree on New Climate Treaty Agenda"
More than 180 countries agreed on an agenda for work on a new climate treaty by 2015 at United Nations climate talks on Friday, breaking a week-long deadlock over procedure.
“(The work plan) was not an easy issue to agree (on),” U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres told reporters after the negotiations held at Bonn in Germany.
“All parties needed reassurances from each other to allow them to undertake the work with a certain sense of comfort.”
U.N. climate talks in South Africa last year agreed a package of measures that would extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol after it expires at the end of this year and decide a new, legally binding accord to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 2015, coming into force by 2020.
In the Bonn talks, the first negotiation session since that deal was struck, delegates have argued for over a week on how to organize work on a new climate deal and appoint a chair to steer the process.
Procedural wrangling during the two-week session showed that deep disagreements remained among participants and put a lot of pressure on talks in Doha, Qatar, at the end of the year to deliver, observers said.
“When people start fighting about agendas it is a symptom of lack of trust and of some pretty substantive areas of disagreement,” said Celine Charveriat, director of advocacy and campaigns at international development charity Oxfam.
Countries will still need to work more on some critical issues, including the length of an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which nations will sign up to it and the level of emissions cuts that they will pledge.
They also need to identify ways to raise $100 billion a year of finance by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change.
Green groups and nations most vulnerable to the effects of global warming warn time is running out to avert disastrous consequences like increased extreme weather, ocean acidification and melting glaciers.
Countries have agreed that deep emissions cuts are needed to limit a rise in global average temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius this century above pre-industrial levels, a threshold that scientists say is the minimum required to avert catastrophic effects.
However, one of the main contributors to climate change, global carbon dioxide emissions, hit a record high last year, according to the International Energy Agency, which advises industrialized countries.
Some countries also look set to miss their emissions cut targets for 2020, putting the world on a dangerous trajectory towards a rise in global average temperature of 3.5 degree Celsius, research showed on Thursday.
“The majority of countries want to move forwards faster but..a relatively small group is holding up what the rest of the room wants,” said the European Union’s chief negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger.
May 25th, 2012
Conservative Refocus Notes: Well, we get the gist of this article, however, "Corporate News?" As if the media is of the same brand as your typical corporation? We don't think so, in fact,corporations and the media are at continual odds as bespeaks ideology, at least in large part. But all of that aside , this story speaks volumes in its portent.
Corporate news blackout as Obama designates John Brennan as the sole person in charge of designating people to be assassinated.
Vision to America
John Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor was a name that you did not see on the Mainstream media today as the continue to run stories that serve to distract the masses from stories that matter.
Most recently he publicly spoke about the drone program calling it moral and ethical and just.
According to reports from the Associated Press, John Brennan has now seized the lead in choosing who will be targeted for drone attacks and raids and Obama has delegated him the sole authority to designate people for assassination under the United States top-secret assassination program.
Yes, if it such a secret program then why is the associated press running a story on it? Because it is only a “top-secret” matter of National Insecurity when the public and organizations such as the ACLU request more details on it than the propagandized reports the public is fed through the corporate media.
May 24th, 2012
By Jennifer Viegas
Geologists say Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.
The latest investigation, reported in International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”
To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.
Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and a seismic event that happened sometime between the years 26 and 36.
The latter period occurred during “the years when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea and when the earthquake of the Gospel of Matthew is historically constrained,” Williams said.
"The day and date of the crucifixion (Good Friday) are known with a fair degree of precision," he said. But the year has been in question.
In terms of textual clues to the date of the crucifixion, Williams quoted a Nature paper authored by Colin Humphreys and Graeme Waddington. Williams summarized their work as follows:
- All four gospels and Tacitus in Annals (XV, 44) agree that the crucifixion occurred when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36.
- All four gospels say the crucifixion occurred on a Friday.
- All four gospels agree that Jesus died a few hours before the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath (nightfall on a Friday).
- The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) indicate that Jesus died before nightfall on the 14th day of Nisan, right before the start of the Passover meal.
- John’s gospel differs from the synoptics, apparently indicating that Jesus died before nightfall on the 15th day of Nisan.
When data about the Jewish calendar and astronomical calculations are factored in, a handful of possible dates result, with Friday, April 3, 33, being the best match, according to the researchers.
In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 A.D. that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”
“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write.
Williams is studying yet another possible natural happening associated with the crucifixion — darkness.
Three of the four canonical gospels report darkness from noon to 3 p.m. after the crucifixion. Such darkness could have been caused by a duststorm, he believes.
Williams is investigating if there are dust storm deposits in the sediments coincident with the earthquake that took place in the Jerusalem region during the early first century.
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