Archive for May, 2010

The Flag (May 31, 2010)

Posted in Society on May 31, 2010 by

. . .

“No one on his street displayed one, he observed, before he requested listeners to display theirs.”

“Some displays are unduly nationalistic and even jingoistic.”

“Some are, no question.  However, every person is free to make a personal statement.  Display it during the day and doff it at night or illuminate it appropriately.  Shelter it from the rain and shelter those who elect to burn it.  That is freedom.  That is America.  That is the way to celebrate this day.”

. . .

Bumper sticker of the week:

Respect the troops

On Freedom and Liberty (May 24, 2010)

Posted in Bailout/Bribe, Energy, Gas/Fossil Fuel, Government Regulation, Less Government Regulation Series, On [Traits/Characteristics] on May 24, 2010 by

. . .

F          “Freedom and liberty are easy to define and difficult to protect and balance.  Assign Mill on Liberty.  That is the run of the mill solution.  Yet freedom and liberty are much more complex in practice.”

L          “Who constrains your freedom and liberty?  If prices are controlled by the government, are you free?  If prices are controlled by a private monopoly, are you free?  Monopolies from Microsoft to Monsanto are greater threats to our freedom than the not infrequent bumbling actions and inactions of incompetent and officious government officials.”

F          “I have a beef with four beef producers controlling the price and quality of beef.  From what I read, every major industry in America is monopolized.”

L          “Which constrains our freedom and liberty.  The chance, albeit slight, of restraining the monopolies and protecting our freedom requires government involvement.  That realization is the beginning of frustration.”

F          “And a few private sector monopolies own Congress and thwart any possibly effective legislation.”

L          “A generation ago, then-Senator Philip Hart of Michigan worked to break up monopolies and confronted Texaco, the oil company, who asserted in ads:  ‘We’ve been working to keep your trust.’  They worked hard and kept their trust.  Those oil companies have their own special charm.”

F          “How do we regulate the financial institutions that are ‘too connected to fail’?  They limit our freedom and liberty.  Lehman deserved to fail and was allowed to fail in part because Paulson did not like Fuld, the President of Lehman.  Washington Mutual deserved to fail and was allowed to fail in part because a West Coast bank is not among the East Coast players.  The other institutions deserved to fail and yet were bailed out.”

L          “It is not pretty or easy.  Why not limit the size of every financial institution to 100 billion dollars?  There are no economies of scale above that limit and many benefits from more players.  Any financial institution with more than 100 billion in assets is a direct threat to our freedom and liberty.”

F          “Great, but the financial sector will veto it.  And regardless of what Congress directs, the regulatory agencies are captured by those who are intended to be regulated.  Investment banks and others realize that no investment pays a greater return on investment than purchasing a piece of a politician.  Money invested in R&D or in HR or in PR does not come close to providing such a handsome return.  Purchasing an entire government agency is cheap and tax deductible as a business expense.”

L          “It is not easy or pretty.  You are doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t.  On the other hand, when the invisible hand begins to backhand the people, the heavy hand of the government is often the only recourse.”

F          “On the other hand, it seems that the government comes around when it is not needed and is not around when it is needed.”

L          “It is not pretty or easy.  I have worked for years with some agencies that are useless.”

F          “Need I say more.”

L          “I would like to see private sector initiatives such as the Young Americans For Freedom allying with the Innocence Project to protect freedom and liberty.  The white boys are too fixated on limiting taxes on their greens fees when they should be concerned about freedom and liberty for those who are black, brown, red, yellow and ivory.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” dated Mar. 26, 2007 titled “Who Is Your Big Bad Bogeyman?” and dated Sept. 4, 2009 titled “The Meltdown Continues, Subtly.”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Freedom is not free so pay your taxes and shut up

Boycott Arizona

Drill, Baby, Spill (May 17, 2010)

Posted in Antitrust, Energy, Gas/Fossil Fuel on May 19, 2010 by

. . .

“Long before the oil tanker EXXON VALDEZ ran aground in 1989 in Prince William Sound, the maritime pilots and local fishermen knew and protested that a tanker would run aground.  No doubt about it, they warned.”

“The tanker was caught between a rock and a hard piece of ice.  The rock was less forgiving; the rock did not forgive.  There were also warnings about deep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.  The damage may be far worse than suggested.  And the by-product of the same arrogance.”

“Arrogance and avarice are the two companion killers.  Oil companies are so diabolically ironic.  Exxon once was called ESSO, the ‘Eastern Subsidiary of Standard Oil’ or the phonetic pronunciation of the letters ‘S’ and ‘O’, so that no one would forget that it had been part of the great oil monopoly Standard Oil.  Before that, the company was known as ‘Humble Oil’ to remind the public of its humble manner.”

“BP had been doing an effective job of appearing green.  Although if you think about it, it looks like the British Polluters made all the decisions to maximize the green.”

“I am also afraid that we need to continue exploring for dead compressed dinosaurs in the short term.  Drilling on American land or in American waters does make the country less vulnerable to foreign suppliers.  Drilling within an American jurisdiction is more likely to result in the oil company being compelled to internalize the ‘externalities’ which are all of the costs of production.”

“Externalities?  I’m not quite with you.”

“The company may be required to pay for anti-pollution safeguards and the actual cost of labor including safety measures and the like.  Foreign operators are even worse because they can totally disregard health and safety concerns.”

“Except when domestic operators have enough stroke to avoid paying and complying.”

“There are no guarantees.  O’Bama’s recent statements about opening coastal areas to drilling are also ironic.  He is trying to develop a realistic and balanced energy policy.  The oil industry did not do much to help the case.  And look at you.  And me.  Before this day is concluded, I will drive my car with the ‘Support the Terrorist Tax’ bumper sticker on a trip that may not be necessary.  I am voting on drilling.  If not here, then there will be drilling somewhere.”

. . .

Bumper sticker of the week:

Drill, baby, spill.

Republicans are Enemy Combatants? (May 10, 2010)

Posted in Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Military Commissions Act on May 10, 2010 by

. . .

U          “I noticed on the Internet a few minutes ago that all registered Republicans have been deemed enemy combatants and will be rounded up on Tuesday at 3:00 a.m. and taken to undisclosed locations.”

R          “No way.”

U          “It’s your call.  I believe that I’m safe.  I am registered as Unaffiliated.  But who knows today.”

R          “I’ll call my lawyer.”

U          “You don’t get to call your lawyer.  That quaint right protected by activist liberal Democrats has been expunged.  Your cell phone has been disabled and will be confiscated.”

R          “It isn’t working, . . . but they are installing a new tower.”

U          “Assume that you are able to contact a lawyer.  Then what?”

R          “I know a judge who owes me.”

U          “Owes a terrorist what?  That is bad press for him.  At best, you might get an answering machine and no answer.  What would he do for you?”

R          “Get me out.  Habeas corpus me.  It’s a legal way to get me released.  It means that the authorities must deliver the body to the court.”

U          “The authorities might oblige and deliver your body to the court.  The Republicans have you covered.  They suspended habeas corpus.  At least one Republican did.  Recall our good friend Abraham Lincoln who suspended habeas corpus.”

R          “What about Democrats?  They could be deemed enemy combatants.  They could be confiscated.”

U          “They could.  And they could.  And they might.”

. . .

Bumper sticker of the week:

I wasn’t using my civil rights anyway.

Rating The Rating Agencies And The Courts That Should Berate Them: FFF (May 3, 2010)

Posted in Bailout/Bribe, Conflicts of Interest, Courts, Crime/Punishment, Perjury, Perjury/Dishonesty, Rating Agencies on May 3, 2010 by

. . .

NNN          “The ratings agencies such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch knew or should have known that third parties would and did reasonably rely on their ratings.”

OOO          “Exactly.  They intended for third parties to rely on their ratings.”

NNN          “Didn’t some court reach the preposterous conclusion that the ratings agencies are protected by the First Amendment?”

OOO          “The free speech rights of the rating agencies are protected against government interference.  The government did not interfere with their right to free speech.  That ends the First Amendment inquiry.  The ratings agencies are not immune from civil and criminal prosecution.”

NNN          “But the court used the First Amendment to provide complete immunity for the rating agencies.”

OOO          “Keep in mind that there are thousands and thousands of incompetent and marginally competent judges in America.  And thousands of dishonest ones.  The judge may have seen his stock portfolio decline and decided to take action.  In the end, if the decision is patently incorrect, do not follow it.  Disregard the decision as a perverse anomaly.  Law books are littered with dishonest decisions.”

NNN          “The ratings were patently false and fraudulent.  The rating agencies intended for others to rely on the ratings.  Ordinary citizens reasonably relied on the ratings.  Ordinary citizens were damaged by the fraudulent ratings.  So the only issues for an honest judge in a civil action are the amount of damages and the amount of punitive damages.”

OOO          “Exactly.  And the heads of the ratings agencies lied under oath before Congress.  They were advised by their attorneys not to ‘tell the whole truth’ to Congress and they did not ‘tell the whole truth’ to Congress.  That is perjury.  Except in the land of perjury.  Their attorneys suborned perjury.  Combine perjury and obstruction of justice and conspiracy and RICO charges.  The sentence for four felonies is much stiffer.  A summer law clerk could handle the prosecution.”

NNN          “The biggest question is also easily answered.  There are no prosecutions because the ratings agencies and their friends on Wall Street own the government and the prosecutors.”

OOO          “Talk about systemic failure.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” dated Jan. 14, 2008 titled “The ‘R’ Word, The ‘D’ Word or the ‘S’ Word?” on the rating agencies and the “e-ssay” dated May 2, 2005 titled “Ohio – Not Forgettin’ Ohio; The Battleground State Battles On.”]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Better to know the judge and the prosecutor than to know the law.

Spill, baby, spill.