March 8th, 2012
March 8th, 2012
Washington (CNN) -- The Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-sponsored measure Thursday that would have bypassed the Obama administration's current objections to the Keystone XL pipeline and allowed construction on the controversial project to move forward immediately.
Fifty-six senators voted in favor of the amendment -- four short of the 60 required for approval. Eleven Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus in backing the plan.
The proposed 1,700-mile long pipeline expansion, intended to carry crude oil from Canada's oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has become a political lightning rod. Supporters, including the oil industry, say it's a vital job creator that will lessen the country's dependence on oil imported from volatile regions.
Opponents say the pipeline may leak, and that it will lock the United States into a particularly dirty form of crude that might ultimately end up being exported anyway.
The measure has sharply divided key Democratic constituencies. Labor unions largely back the plan while environmentalists oppose it.
President Barack Obama rejected a bid in January to expedite the pipeline, arguing that a decision deadline imposed by Congress did not leave sufficient time to conduct necessary reviews. Administration officials have said the president may still eventually give the project a green light, though critics accuse him of trying to delay a final decision until after the November election.
Obama personally lobbied wavering Democrats to block passage of the amendment.
"He made some calls," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters before the vote. "The president believes that it is wrong to play politics with a pipeline project whose (exact) route has yet to be proposed."
While the amendment would have approved the construction of most of the pipeline expansion, it would not have allowed any work to begin immediately in Nebraska. Dave Heineman, Nebraska's Republican governor, cited environmental concerns in opposing the original route of the proposed expansion.
For their part, congressional Republicans blasted the president for twisting the arms of fellow Democrats.
"By personally lobbying against the Keystone pipeline, it means the president of the United States is lobbying for sending North American energy to China and lobbying against American jobs," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a news conference.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Obama is "out of touch" on the issue.
"At a moment when millions are out of work, gas prices are skyrocketing, and the Middle East is in turmoil, we've got a president who's up making phone calls trying to block a pipeline here at home," he said. "It's unbelievable."
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney called the decision a "no-brainer."
"How in the world can you have a president who doesn't understand the importance of getting energy from our next-door neighbor?" he said.
Democratic opposition to the Republican measure was complicated by reports last week that former President Bill Clinton came out in favor of building the pipeline.
March 8th, 2012
BLS note: Typically, if homeowners allow coverage to lapse on their home, while the bank requires coverage, the bank can force-place the coverage which then covers only the interest of the bank. Now, the Government will step in and take over this process, which means nothing less than yet another bureaucratic layer of costly regulations and tax-funded personnel, as mandated by the government.
While some banks have, indeed, abused this process with their mortgage customers in the past, allowing the government to come in and take over is nothing less than yet another avenue allowing the government into what should be a corporate process only.
The simple remedy, beforehand, was designed to make it onerous for the bank to get involved in the insuring process, by making premiums high and thereby easily discouraging a homeowner's irresponsibility in not maintaining their own coverage.
Ergo, this is but another step into the great Nanny State that the US government has finally become.
The practice of banks forcing expensive homeowners insurance on borrowers could come to an end after Fannie Mae told lenders it would seek to oversee such policies itself.
For many homeowners who are required to buy insurance as a condition of getting or keeping a mortgage, there is no choice as to insurer, terms or price. They end up with “force-placed insurance,” controversial policies that are purchased by the bank or mortgage servicer on the homeowners’ behalf.
Government-controlled Fannie Mae, the biggest source of money for U.S. home loans, notified lenders of the planned policy change in a Tuesday bulletin, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
“Fannie Mae will soon implement changes to its Lender-Placed Insurance (LPI) requirements to significantly reduce costs to homeowners, taxpayers, and Fannie Mae,” it said, adding that it has issued a request for proposals to insurance companies to compete for the business.
“The (proposal) is structured to ensure that insurance costs are significantly reduced,” Fannie said. Fannie Mae also said it would issue guidelines to mortgage servicers on when and how to obtain what are often called “force-placed” policies, and on what costs would be reimbursable.
In many cases, existing force-placed insurance policies are sold by insurance companies owned by the lenders, or by insurers with which the lenders have a financial relationship. Prices are usually substantially higher than they would be normally.
“Our goal is to reduce costs for Fannie Mae and thereby taxpayers, and to reduce a barrier for homeowners becoming current on their loans,” said Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Fannie Mae.
New York financial regulators have been investigating the practice, issuing subpoenas in January to roughly two dozen insurers and mortgage servicers.
New York’s Department of Financial Services said it would continue its probe, even with Fannie’s move.
“Force placed insurance has been and will continue to be one of our top initiatives,” the department’s superintendent, Ben Lawsky, said in a statement.
American Banker first reported the details of the Fannie bulletin.
More from Reuters
March 8th, 2012
By Barry Secrest
On Tuesday, Rush began his show with an admonition "not to worry" regarding the exodus of a number of advertisers. Limbaugh went on to explain that the Media has blown much of the facts, surrounding his show, completely out of proportion. The following are a few of his direct words on the subject of his show advertisers:
I want to ask if you will indulge me for just a brief few minutes for some inside baseball stuff before we move on to our review of the issues of the day, politics and so forth, Super Tuesday, the results, and where we are. The reason for this is, once again, so much misinformation about this program and advertisers is in the mainstream media. People are reporting things that, A, are not true, and B, I don't even think the people reporting it have the slightest idea what they're talking about, nor do they have the ability to understand it.
Rush then went on to explain that the number given by the Axis Press of advertisers exiting the show were nothing much more than pie-in-the-sky rhetoric, since there is actually no true way to know, on both a local and national level.
But I know that many of you are spending a lot of time -- God bless you -- on the Web doing what you can to express your support for the program. And judging from the reaction of my own brother, who sends me a note last night, "You really lost 28 sponsors?" No, we have not lost 28 sponsors. "Well, how can they say it?" Because they lie and because they don't understand how it works, and that's what I want to try and explain. In fact, folks, we have three brand-new sponsors that will be starting in the next two weeks. Now, obviously, I'm not gonna tell you who they are today, but we've got three brand-new, full-fledged sponsors starting in the next two weeks.
In fact, most likely as a result of the Conservative backlash towards these sunny-sky advertisers, Limbaugh went on to explain how two advertisers are practically begging to come back. This, also, on the heels of a report that stated Carbonite's stock had dipped by almost 12 points, since their exit of the Rush Limbaugh show.
Two of the sponsors who have canceled have asked to return. We are being very careful about that. Not gonna give you any names here. One of them is practically begging to come back. Everything is fine on the business side. Everything's cool. There is not a thing to worry about. What you're seeing on television about this program and sponsors and advertisers is just incorrect. And let me try to explain how this works. Let's take the claim that we've lost 28 sponsors. Sponsors on this program are both local and national. We deal with the national sponsors on this program. We have 600-plus stations. They sell their own commercials. We don't have anything to do with those sponsors. We don't get paid by those sponsors. We have no idea who those sponsors are.
Finally Rush goes on to make the point that no one is losing money, and that his detractors are actually frustrated that the scenario did not end-up forcing him off of the air.
Nobody is losing money here, including us, in all this. And that is key for you to understand. They are not canceling the business on our stations. They're just saying they don't want their spots to appear in my show. We don't get any revenue from 'em anyway. The whole effort is to dispirit you. It's to make you think the left is being successful in its campaign when it isn't. In fact, the left is so fed up, they can't see straight. They thought they had me. They thought I would be off the air by now. They can't understand why I still am on the air. There is also another rumor going around that I am going to be suspended for a week. It is utter BS.
I would have to suspend myself!
To read the full post please click on this link
March 8th, 2012
BLS note: I love the way the writer starts out this particular post, if you will note, he begins by comparing a fictional and now defunct show on TV as a bastion for Libs, when in fact, virtually every vendor of the news these days on cable and network, except Fox, is a bastion for Left-Wingers and, in fact, was a bastion for Liberals during the entire eight-year term of Bush, and certainly long before.
Further, the writer must know these facts, unless the alternative explanations are fully in play; those being either unbridled stupidity,cloying cluelessness or simply a devious decepticon. You be the judge....
By Joshua Ostroff
During the Bush Era, "West Wing" President Jed Bartlet offered left-wingers a refuge from reality—much as Fox News does for conservatives today.
But Martin Sheen, who turned his late-career turn as Bartlet into his signature role, had already been a liberal icon for decades before the show, thanks to his political activism and his performances in counterculture classics such as"Apocalypse Now."
Today, however, Sheen finds himself frustrated with fellow progressives over their disappointment that Barack Obama’s real presidency hasn’t matched the heights of his imaginary one.
“It’s unrealistic,” Sheen told The Huffington Post Canada in a backroom at Montreal’s Theatre St-Denis after speaking at Free the Children’s latest We Day youth rally. “I wonder how many of those progressives are black? How many of those progressives understand historically what happened?
“There’s one face in that crowd that night in Lincoln Park that was the expression of absolute miraculous reality when Barack Obama took the stage with his family as president-elect. Did you see that night when they showed Jesse Jackson?” he asked, mentioning the civil rights icon who spoke earlier at the same event. “I wonder how disappointed Jesse is with Barack Obama?”
Sheen dismissed the complaint from the left that Obama has failed to match the intense umbrage of his Republican opponents. “People say he ought to start getting mad and start yelling at these people,” Sheen said. “He didn’t get here by showing an angry man; this is a very important job. The whole world is watching every move, listening to nuance that he breathes in public.”
The actor pointed his finger squarely at Republicans for Obama's problems, arguing that they have been an unprecedentedly obstructionist congress, especially since the 2010 mid-term elections.
“It’s been fighting tooth and nail to get anything on the table with these morons,” Sheen groused, adding that the GOP is being directed by the Tea Party, which he called “the professional against-ers who are really to be identified as radical extremists who have no agenda and no purpose.”
As for the Republican candidates currently battling it out for the chance to challenge Obama in the general election -- a field which remains crowded after Rick Santorum claimed three states, Mitt Romney six and Newt Gingrich one on Super Tuesday -- Sheen isn't concerned.
“It does not shift the balance of reality. You can listen to any one of those four nominees talk about the [economic] situation and none of them is really in touch with what the hell people are facing, you know? They keep knocking the president, and yet they can’t find any fault with him regarding the specifics of the programs that he’s initiated in opposition to them.”
Despite the seemingly never-ending Republican primary, Sheen said he predicts Romney will wind up the ultimate nominee. But the actor said the former governor of Massachusetts will enter the general election hamstrung by what he’s had to say to compete in Tea Party-influenced primaries.
“Who the hell is going to be able to really believe anything Romney says when he stands next to someone who comes from a place and stands for it and risks his life to achieve it? You know, Obama rarely raises his voice, but he rises to every occasion
“Of course, he’s going to win. When he gets Romney one on one then you’ll see the quality of the man, where he comes from, what he stands for and where he wants to take us. Romney’s got a big wallet and a lot of campaign rhetoric, but what’s he going to stand on when he stands next to Obama and debates?”
Besides, Sheen said, progressives can also take heart that Occupy Wall Street has halted the rightward swing after the mid-terms and set Obama up to knock the pins down during the election.
“I cannot begin to tell you how encouraging and refreshing the Occupy Movement is to us old-timers, because it came about from a totally new, unconnected generation to us. It came of its own volition, dealing with its own issues. This message that, ‘we are divided in a lot of very fundamental ways. There’s the 1 percent and the 99.’ That is on the agenda now. That cannot be erased.
“It’s like you cannot un-ring the bell. They rang the bell on Wall Street, if you will, and that clang reverberated around the world.”
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