The Jury Talks Back

4/30/2009

And there’s the money shot.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 8:17 pm

I suspect we might find there was more than a bit of dirty business at Freddie than we originally thought.

Yup.

Totally saw this coming.

Federal investigators looking into possible accounting violations at Freddie Mac are raising questions about whether the giant government-backed mortgage company improperly delayed the recognition of billions of dollars of losses, according to people familiar with the matter.

4/28/2009

GM’s Special Bondholders

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 8:34 am

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

– George Orwell, “Animal Farm”

Some GM bondholders own $27 billion in secured bonds.  The administration’s negotiators are offering them 10% of GM’s stock in exchange.  Another set of bondholders hold $20 billion in bonds, identically secured.  They are being offered 39% of GM’s stock and $10 billion in cash.

The difference?  The favored group happens to be the UAW, as the result of their negotiations with the Obama administration.  The private bondholders are offered the scraps that the union left.  Of course, if GM goes into bankruptcy, this deal is off the table.  Since it will require 90% of the bondholders to agree — something that looks unlikely considering the imbalance in the offer — bankruptcy seems all but certain.

So, when GM goes into liquidation, amid all the wailing about the lost jobs, the failing economy in Michigan, greedy banks and GM’s horrible management, remember: This could have been avoided.  They just had to give all parties a fair deal, and they didn’t.

UPDATE:  Sometimes this article disappears behind the WSJ subscriber barrier (but Google GM bondholders unfair).  The relevant portion:

Earlier Monday, GM announced an exchange offer for $27 billion of its unsecured bonds. The exchange will commence only if 90% of bondholders agree to the terms. If GM fails to get adequate participation, it will file for bankruptcy protection.

These terms are “neither reasonable nor adequate,” the bondholders’ committee said. Those who own more than $27 billion of GM bonds would only receive 10% of the restructured company and “essentially no cash,” the statement said. Meanwhile, the union, which has the same legal rights as the bondholders and has $20 billion in obligations, would benefit more – 50% recovery in cash and a 39% stake in the new company, according to the statement.

“We believe the offer to be a blatant disregard of fairness for the bondholders who have funded this company and amounts to using taxpayer money to show political favoritism of one creditor over another,” the statement said.

Keep Watching the Skies!

Filed under: Uncategorized — fat tony @ 8:17 am

 

Recalling events that occurred when President Barack Francis Xavier Obama was
only forty, several planes paraded through downtown Manhattan today, glorious
against a cerulean backdrop. One of Dear Leader's transports, trailed by two
disarmed F-16s!! Glorious! A picture perfect commemoration of His first one hundred days of rule!!

Thousands of subjects took to the streets to be part of this great historical
moment. Eschewing elevators, they ran down dozens of flights, screaming
rapturously. Many spontaneously gathered on the shores of the Obama (formerly, the Hudson)
River, the better to see the expected fireworks display of national pride and
atonement. 

Sadly, what should have been an image inspiring a national coming (together) was
spoiled when certain reactionary elements and their EastAsia overlords attempted to
foment panic. Not content with their financial manipulations that have bled
us dry (and the "teabagging" spectacle so sparsely attended last week) this parasitic class now pretends to fear the mere sight of a 747 flying
two full wingspans from the heart of the cabal, accompanied by fighters from the
palace guard. They will stop at nothing in their attempts to regain power. Soon they will have real cause to fear! 

New York City proved yesterday that it is no longer the provincial town of eight
years B.O. Cosmopolitan and internationalist now, the populace celebrates its
redemption! As Indonesia-raised Obama hurtles planes through the skies of our
great cities while the people scream, we assert that no more glorious
metaphor exists!! Soon, whole world will hear from us!
_________________________
Honeymoon's over, Mr. President.

4/24/2009

Swine Flu: Obama’s Katrina?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 8:18 pm

The news today is potentially grim:

  • The WHO and CDC track the spread of a new H1N1 swine flu that is an unusual blend of 2 forms of swine flu, bird flu and a human flu.
  • Unlike most swine and bird flu strains, this virus can be transmitted between humans.
  • Over 60 young adults are dead in Mexico.
  • Several people in California and Texas have become ill, and the CDC says it’s from the same strain.

This could get very bad, very fast.  Hopefully the American health care system can be brought to bear quickly.  FEMA, the CDC and local agencies should be gearing up as I type.  Information on the flu, antivirals and such vaccinations as exist (it is thought that the flu vaccine may moderate the disease) would be moving to the front line providers in the private health care system.

Or maybe not.  With all the focus in Washington on a passing a national health care bill, with all the private health care providers hunkering down for the duration, maybe the response will be as delayed and muddled as the disastrous response to Katrina.

Hope not.  But what I’ve seen so far of the new guys doesn’t bode well.

Update:  Glenn Reynolds isn’t impressed either.

4/22/2009

Why SERE Training is Essentially Different Than Torture

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 10:13 am

From “Harm School: Rape, S&M, and the Bush torture program” by William Saletan of Slate:

Fifth and most important, SERE is voluntary. “Students can withdraw from training,” Ogrisseg noted. In a report issued four months ago, the Armed Services Committee added that in SERE, “students are even given a special phrase they can use to immediately stop” any ordeal. The report concluded:

The SERE schools employ strict controls to reduce the risk of physical and psychological harm to students during training. Those controls include medical and psychological screening for students, interventions by trained psychologists during training, and code words to ensure that students can stop the application of a technique at any time should the need arise. Those same controls are not present in real world interrogations.

Freddie Mac acting CFO found dead

Filed under: Uncategorized — Scott Jacobs @ 4:29 am

Apparent suicide.

Before being the acting CFO, he was the VP of Mortgage operations.  I suspect we might find there was more than a bit of dirty business at Freddie than we originally thought.

4/21/2009

“Torture” Memo Prosecution — What Are The Charges? What Is The Evidence?

Filed under: Uncategorized — WLS @ 12:59 pm

Posted by WLS Shipwrecked:

In mulling over the news of the past few days, I’m curious as to what the critics of the Bush Administration see as plausible criminal charges against the officials who were responsible for the drafting/authorizaiton of the “Torture” memos. 

It would be one thing to actually prosecute the CIA officials involved in carrying out the interrogations — they actually did something that might fall within the parameters of the statute, if their actions are found to satisfy the definition of “torture” that was readily discernible from the language of the statute.

But they would likely have the time-honored defense of “advice of counsel” which works to negate the mens rea (“guilty mind) necessary to establish knowing criminal conduct.  When the top law enforcement officials of the US government tell another component of the US government that the conduct they are proposing to carry out on behalf of the government is not prohibited by statute, it’s exceedingly difficult — if not impossible — to mount a successful prosecution against any government official who acted in accordance with the advice.  If the actions went beyond the scope of the advice given, that would open up a potential prosecution.  But there is no factual record that I’m aware of suggesting that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques following the issuance of the memos was different than that described in the memos.

Prosecuting the officials who offered the advice is a different question.  But what would be the charge?  It can’t be “Torture” under the statute — they didn’t do anything.  They simply responded in their official capacity to a question raised by another governmental entity. 

I would first caution you to read the actual memos — which I suspect Andrew Sullivan has never taken the time to do. 

Two things you need to take into consideration:

1)  Provide a solid legal explanation about why the enhanced interrogation techniques described and authorized by the memos fall within the prohibition of ”Torture” as prescribed by 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2340 and 2340A.  If they weren’t “Torture” as defined, then there is seemingly no basis for prosecuting the drafters of the memos which authorized their use.

2) How does the act of drafting of the memos setting forth a legal analysis of these interrogation techniques, and the application of the torture statute to them, fall within the prohibition of that statute — or any other statute?

It’s one thing to say that members of the previous administration should be prosecuted, it’s quite another to set forth a cogent and persuasive legal theory upon which such a prosecution would rest, and the evidence that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt the mens rea and actus reus necessary to sustain a criminal conviction.  

It’s tiresome to hear critics simply say “Waterboarding is torture. Prosecute them all.” 

The memos state that waterboarding, in the specific method advocated by the interrogators, does not fall within the prohibition on torture.  Other forms of waterboarding might — such as that used by the Japanese in WWII that often resulted in the drowning of the person undergoing the procedure. 

Why is the ANALYSIS of the specific technique described in the memos — concluding it would not fall within Sec. 2340 — wrong?  Reading the memos is necessary to answering this question.

How does the act of engaging in this analysis — even if the legal conclusion reached is erroneous –  fall within the prohibition of any criminal statute?

Hillary Resignation Watch

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 8:02 am

President Obama bows to Saudi King.  President Obama pals around with Marxist dictator. President Obama apologizes for Hiroshima, for our “arrogance”, for his predecessor’s response to Islamic terror; for nearly everything imaginable.  America, he says repeatedly, is “at fault.”   Soon he will be calling us the “evil empire” like his buddies Chavez and Ortega.

And he hasn’t even gone to Cuba to meet Fidel yet.

The President cannot seem to tolerate our closest allies, like the British, and he wants to renegotiate NAFTA, annoying both our neighbors.  Germany and France are having buyer’s remorse, and a once-grateful Eastern Europe is left twisting in the wind.  China’s support of North Korea, Zimbabwe and Sudan goes uncriticized.  But he does manage to reach out to the Islamicists running Turkey, talk up his middle name with the Arab press and make overtures to Iran.  What must Israel think?

So.  How long can Hillary Clinton abide Barack Obama’s recklessness?  How long can she be an avatar for a policy so far afield from anyone’s prior positions?  Yes, it is for the President to set foreign policy, but Hillary increasingly associates herself with these radical breaks the longer she stays.  See Humphrey, Hubert (and especially Tom Lehrer’s take).

Then again, there’s party loyalty.

It must be hard, and you have to think she wishes she’d never got the job.  Neither stay nor quit looks promising.  Powell stuck it out to the end of the first term with much less disagreement.  Can Hillary last that long?

4/19/2009

Not Nearly Enough

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 8:43 pm

The NY Times breathlessly reports that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the organizer of the cold bloooded mass murders of 9-11was waterboarded 183 times.  Apparently this was both evil and ineffective.  Considering that I favor tossing him off of the Empire State Building while being consumed by napalm, I just cannot get worked up over this.  For all I care they could have been drilling his kneecaps 183 times.

But perhaps some federal judge will find fault and order him released.  Be about par for the course.

4/18/2009

Scoring Barack

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 11:33 am

Now that he’s been in office for a few months, the mystery that was candidate Obama is coming into focus.  So I thought I’d run President Obama’s apparent positions through the Libertarians’ two-axis political test.

Note that the LP test is criticized for making everyone look more libertarian.  Doesn’t help Barack Obama much. Obama seems to score a solid ZERO on economic freedom, but might move along the personal freedom scale depending on the questions asked.

I think the answers to the economic questions are uncontrovertable, but the personal issue questions are somewhat fuzzier.  I’m going with the Barack that walks, not the Barack that talks.  If one were to change the draft question to a “mandatory public service” question, even this axis would be near zero.

NOT a friend of Liberty.

4/17/2009

Condom Ad

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 10:00 am

Apparently the Chinese are way upset over this ad campaign by the Doc Morris online pharmacy, which depicts the dangers of not wearing a condom during sex.  They don’t mind the Osama and Adolf references, but for some reason they have a problem with this (possibly offensive to some):

(more…)

Racists!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 8:13 am

Or so says Janeanne Garofalo.

Liberal actress and political activist Janeane Garofalo, in all seriousness, said activists who attended tea parties are racists with dysfunctional brains in a recent prime-time television appearance.

“Let’s be very honest about what this is about. This is not about bashing Democrats. It’s not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea party was about. They don’t know their history at all. It’s about hating a black man in the White House,” she said on MSNBC’s “The Countdown” with Keith Olbermann Thursday evening. “This is racism straight up and is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. There is no way around that.”

Ironically, she has no idea what THIS tea party was about.  Just another meat puppet with the personality of a yap dog.

Note: There should be some corollary of Godwin’s Law that says that bringing race up in a discussion of Obama’s policies means you lose.

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