Last Thursday, Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward announced his support for Mitt Romney. Speaker Mike Hubbard had already announced his support while Congressman Mike Rogers and Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey share the chair of the Alabama for Romney campaign.

Considering the rhetoric of this crowd, how can they jump on the Romney wagon so enthusiastically? Over the past couple of years now, they have consistently beat the drum against President Obama’s “liberal” policies. Most prominently, they have fought his “socialized healthcare programs” even making opposition to any healthcare mandates a key plank of the now infamous ALGOP “Handshake with Alabama

So how do Hubbard and Rogers overlook “push toward a socialistic-leaning government in this country” with RomneyCare and its “socialist” mandates which “will dampen too many employers’ ability to hire and expand” and “threaten job creation and stability across East Alabama” and “which force citizens to purchase something they do not wish to purchase, a mandate which has never been previously demanded of the populace.

Perhaps a healthcare mandate is a “conservative” policy position if a Republican says it:

or if the very conservative Heritage Foundation and Newt Gingrich actually created the idea.

Fed. Chairman Bernanke, Pres. Bush, and Sec. Paulsen, architects of the bailouts

According to reports:

The first-ever audit of the US Federal Reserve has revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret bank bailouts and has raised more questions about the quasi-private agency’s opaque operations.

“This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,” US Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said in a statement.

The majority of loans were issues by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY).

“From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars … in emergency loans to the financial sector to address strains in credit markets and to avert failures of individual institutions believed to be a threat to the stability of the financial system,” the audit report states.

“The scale and nature of this assistance amounted to an unprecedented expansion of the Federal Reserve System’s traditional role as lender-of-last-resort to depository institutions,” according to the report.

$16 trillion? $16 trillion!?! And that is over and above the trillions in other TARP monies.

Crony Corporatism and picking winners? Check!

Some of the financial institutions secretly receiving loans were meanwhile claiming in their public reports to have ample cash reserves, Bloomberg noted.

The Federal Reserve has neither explained how they legally justified several of the emergency loans, nor how they decided to provide assistance to certain firms but not others.

The main problem is the lack of Congressional oversight, and the way the Fed seemed to pick winners who would be protected at any cost,” Randall Wray, professor of economics at University of Missouri-Kansas City, told IPS.

“If such lending is not illegal, it should be. Our nation really did go through a liquidity crisis – a run on the short-term liabilities of financial institutions. There is only one way to stop a run: lend reserves without limit to all qualifying institutions. The Fed bumbled around before it finally sort of did that,” Wray said.

“But then it turned to phase two, which was to try to resolve problems of insolvency by increasing Uncle Sam’s stake in the banksters’ fiasco. That never should have been done. You close down fraudsters, period. The Fed and FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Commission) should have gone into the biggest banks immediately, replaced all top management, and should have started to resolve them,” Wray said.

Congressional oversight? Does anyone think Congress would have done anything differently if they had more oversight? They would have rubber-stamped these loans as well. Remember the logic of Congressmen like Mike Rogers from Alabama:

Now, over and above the other insane spending, corporate welfare, and tax-cuts, Mike Rogers voted for the most radical initiative of my lifetime: a trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout. A week before this, no one ever mentioned such, but Congress approved the bill a week after its proposal. He tacitly approved the buyout of Bear Stearns in March ($29 billion),  nationalization of an insurance conglomerate, AIG ($85 billion), and repossession of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae ($200 billion).

The Congressman defends that “the Great Depression was the hard lesson of inaction.” On the contrary, following the excesses of the Roaring 20′s, then-president Hoover engaged in an aggressive “intervention” of artificial prices, credit expansion, propping up of weak firms, and increased governmental spending. Rogers’ and Hoover’s policies and rhetoric are eerily similar. Hoover said “we might have done nothing. . . .Instead we . . .put into action. . . the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic . . .” Hoover’s actions, not inaction, caused a necessary correction to spiral the economy into the Great Depression.  Congressman Rogers should reconsider the lessons learned from Herbert Hoover.

Conflicts of Interest and self-dealing? Check!

The GAO also found existing Federal Reserve policies do not prevent significant conflicts of interest. For example, “the FRBNY’s existing restrictions on its employees’ financial interests did not specifically prohibit investments in certain non-bank institutions that received emergency assistance,” the report stated.

The GAO report noted on Sep. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the President of the FRBNY, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric, while at the same time the Federal Reserve granted bailout funds to the same two companies.

And we question why we have a zombie economy today. As I wrote in 2008:

Congress deformed not just authentic prosperity in the near future but for the next fifty years. The market will be plagued with higher unemployment, rising costs of goods: long-term stagflation.In addition, Congress has directed us toward domination by a few huge universal banks and a small number of gigantic corporations, all of them “too big to fail,” under the careful tutelage of a governmental Leviathon dominated by these same cartels.

Does Congress not recognize this vote penalizes prudence, care and thrift and encourages further greed, seduction, waste, and ruin by the palaces of crony capitalism? Or does it agree with John Maynard Keynes, the father of this type economics, when he stated: “in the long run, we are all dead.”

While intentions to protect Main Street are good, Congress has failed to be the defender for the little people: small businesses, family farms, and local communities. Instead it has only transferred wealth from low- and middle-classes to pockets of those who know how to work the system: corporate fat-cats, Wall Street executives , and D.C. bureaucrats.

The very conservative political magazine American Spectator calls outs GOP House-members. The author confirms some of my complaint against my Congressman Mike Rogers when he chaffed at the concept of any defense cuts.

The disappointing response has come from the Republicans. On Capitol Hill, we now have reports of “conservative Congressmen” mobilizing against the skin-deep cuts proposed for the defense budget (even before the specific reductions are particularized by the so-called Super Committee). I don’t pretend to have interviewed these Pentagon hawks in depth, but a quick scan suggests that the operative word here is much more likely to be “Congressmen” than “conservative.” It is hard to find a conservative anywhere, either sitting in Congress or fretting at home, who thinks that the U.S. should continue to spend more on defense than all of the other almost-two hundred countries of the world combined. (The minor cuts suggested — what the Pentagon lobby describes as “gutting the military” — would impose a reduction in the rate of increase.) Do Republicans support a strong national defense? Absolutely. And they have no trouble whatsoever in separating Obama’s wars from our heroic warriors: virtually all conservatives and most libertarians support American servicemen and women without reservation. But legions of democracy imposing “Western values” on Muslims at the point of a bayonet? Trust me. There are reservations.

My sense of the Capitol Hill hawks, in other words, is that they are acting very much like Congressmen and not at all like conservatives. They want to keep the juice flowing to the military base back in the district, as also the grants to the research outfits, the contracts to the suppliers, and the fees to the lobbyists who keep the process running agreeably for all concerned. (For all of those directly concerned, to put it more carefully.) If any of these Congressmen are zealots fired by the neocon incubus, I haven’t spotted them. They seem to be nothing more than politicians doing what politicians do, which should be cause more for ongoing dismay than proximate alarm.

I disagree with the latter portion; neo-conservatism has infested into the worldview of many, if not, most GOP congressmen. It is no coincidence that every GOP presidential candidate, except Ron Paul, enunciates neo-conservativism’s global agenda. It has become a new litmus test for GOP politicians. Unfortunately, their is not much of an alternative philosophy, if any,  presented by the President and the leading Democrats.

Remember the Wall Street Bailouts? I think most people have forgotten this bit of recent economic history. Considering the short memory in DC, I am quite positive they have. A new  report brought it back to my mind, though

A new study released today by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) shows that, despite rosy statements about the bailout’s impending successful conclusion from federal government officials, $1.5 trillion of the $4.8 trillion in federal bailout funds are still outstanding.

First, I would note that this 1.5 trillion dollars would have been helpful to avoid our recent debt ceiling brinkmanship.

Second, our economic recovery actions cannot seemingly gain any real traction and this baffles most TV talking-heads. I have not heard anyone consider whether the Bush-Paulson Wall St. bailouts of 2008 may be the cause of our current  stagflationary state.

After all, isn’t the current economic malaise exactly what the experts predicted would occur? Didn’t they predict that the bailouts could make things worse?  Does the impotence of fiscal and monetary stimulus  not comport with the economists predictions ? Remember the economists’ view of the Wall Street Bailouts of  2008:  “it’s not the disease that will kill us but the cure.”

In hind-sight, perhaps Congress should have, at least, consulted professional economists or invited some to present their views at the Congressional hearings on the Wall St. “rescue plan.

“Four Hundred (400) economists told Congress by letter that “[i]f the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation.”  There was almost universal opposition from economists to the bailout. (See here also.)

Was it not advised that Bush/Paulson Bailouts could push the economy into a long-term, zombie-like state?

Japan’s experience in the 1990s is a cautionary example of the peril of propping up banks after a real estate boom ends. The Japanese government helped keep many troubled banks afloat, hoping to avoid the pain of bank failures, only to extend the economic downturn as consumer spending and job growth fell.

The Japanese slump continued for many years, ending only a few years ago, a stretch of economic stagnation known as Japan’s lost decade.

“The lesson from Japan is that tough love for the banks is what’s needed,” said Kenneth Rogoff, an economist at Harvard.

Chris Low, chief economist with FTN Financial Group in New York, said that 10 per cent unemployment is “almost inevitable.” “I think it’s going to get real ugly,” Low said. “We’re looking at economic pain for two or three years.”

To quote Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research at the time:

Suppose the Paulson plan goes through. It is virtually certain that the economy will weaken further and the number of foreclosures and people without jobs will continue to rise. . . In this sense it is hard to view supporting a bad bailout package as the responsible course of action. While the bailout may lesson a presumably small risk of financial breakdown, it could have the effect of making the recession much longer and more painful than necessary. This would not be responsible.

Those votes in October 2008 had consequences; Main St. is very well versed now in those consequences. Our families, communities, and businesses are reaping the fruit of October 2008.  You cannot just ignore the cause or pretend it never happened.

So it frustrates me to hear my Congressman Mike Rogers now rail against “excessive spending”  and blame others for current economic problems considering he voted for the Wall Street bailouts, not once but twice.

Explaining my opposition to Rogers’ candidacy and my opposition to the bailouts, I wrote in the Clay Times -Journal on October 8, 2008:

As a Congressman, he has been anything but conservative or Constitutionally faithful. In the past decade, the term “conservative Republican” has been fundamentally redefined beyond all former recognition.

The current federal debt is $10.25 trillion dollars ($10,250,000,000,000.00) not including the other$55 trillion worth of unfunded liabilities in Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Proverbs teaches that the borrower becomes the lender’s slave; our “lenders” are primarily Asian central banks and oil-exporting countries. Congressman Rogers failed to reduce this burden; instead, it grew by $4.5 trillion or seventy-one percent (71%) since 2000.

Who pays this debt? Our children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren will. Each child born today is automatically indebted to the tune of $45,000.00 in federal debt alone. Proverbs says a “good man leaves an inheritance for his childrens’ children;” Solomon did not have this kind of “inheritance” in mind.

Now, over and above the other insane spending, corporate welfare, and tax-cuts, Mike Rogers voted for the most radical initiative of my lifetime: a trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout. A week before this, no one ever mentioned such, but Congress approved the bill a week after its proposal. He tacitly approved the buyout of Bear Stearns in March ($29 billion),  nationalization of an insurance conglomerate, AIG ($85 billion), and repossession of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae ($200 billion).

The Congressman defends that “the Great Depression was the hard lesson of inaction.” On the contrary, following the excesses of the Roaring 20′s, then-president Hoover engaged in an aggressive “intervention” of artificial prices, credit expansion, propping up of weak firms, and increased governmental spending. Rogers’ and Hoover’s policies and rhetoric are eerily similar. Hoover said “we might have done nothing. . . .Instead we . . .put into action. . . the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic . . .” Hoover’s actions, not inaction, caused a necessary correction to spiral the economy into the Great Depression.  Congressman Rogers should reconsider the lessons learned from Herbert Hoover.

Do not let them fool you by blaming the “free-market” either; the natural free market did not produce these Wall Street dollar-daddies. On the contrary, the truly free market encourages prudent and modest risks. Our current crisis should be largely blamed on Congress’ fiscal irresponsibility (i.e. massive budget deficits) and the Federal Reserve’s inflationary monetary policy (“easy credit”) which caused a glut of drug-like, addiction-forming “paper money” to flow into the market causing the greatest bubble in history. Flush with new wealth on paper, common people, businesses, and local governments were tricked by this unnatural distortion into making unwise purchases and investments. This intervention only exacerbates, delays, and lengthens the severity of pain when the “high” wears off.

Accordingly, these Wall Street yahoos are creatures of Congress’ own making; they are not naturally occurring. Congress created a Jurassic Park of crony capitalists. While Congress’ intentions, like the billionaire in Jurrasic Park, were benign; it is now horrified at the monsters its policies created. Now Congress tries to contain these financial Velociraptors using the same manipulations which created them.

Do not get me wrong; I do not suggest the alternative is a walk in the park. Our Wall Street “friends” deserve to pay; unfortunately, we would all suffer pain, temporarily, during the correction. Like a drug addict after going dry, he writhes in pain; however, such temporary agony is necessary to “get clean” for long-term health and well-being. During the adjustment, everyone would have paid for this government-induced recklessness. After the dross purged and more prudent hands assumed the valuable; we would have come through more healthy. Congress wanted to avoid this pain and asked for another “hit” from its “source.”

Real leadership would have sought to aggressively address the root cause by cutting back on further borrowing, unnecessary spending, easy credit and wasteful excesses. Congress deformed not just authentic prosperity in the near future but for the next fifty years. The market will be plagued with higher unemployment, rising costs of goods: long-term stagflation. In addition, Congress has directed us toward domination by a few huge universal banks and a small number of gigantic corporations, all of them “too big to fail,” under the careful tutelage of a governmental Leviathon dominated by these same cartels.

Does Congress not recognize this vote penalizes prudence, care and thrift and encourages further greed, seduction, waste, and ruin by the palaces of crony capitalism? Or does it agree with John Maynard Keynes, the father of this type economics, when he stated: “in the long run, we are all dead.”

While intentions to protect Main Street are good, Congress has failed to be the defender for the little people: small businesses, family farms, and local communities. Instead it has only transferred wealth from low- and middle-classes to pockets of those who know how to work the system: corporate fat-cats, Wall Street executives , and D.C. bureaucrats.

I think the economists were right; the votes of October 2008 have disabled us us for a generation, made the recession longer and more painful than necessary, and propelled us into long-term stagnation,  a possible “lost decades.” It is exactly what they predicted.

I will respect our elected officials such as Rep. Mike Rogers (and President Obama also, for that matter) if they will acknowledge that their actions over the past decade and particularly their votes in 2008 are the major contributing cause for the current state of the  economy today. Until then, I hope they cease hypocritically demogoguing the “spending” issue.

I commented yesterday on the current Republican Party visceral (and ideological) opposition to any supervision of environmental contamination from big business and corporation. I stated expressly:

We very well may need to remove overly burdensome regulation that stifles economic growth. As evidenced by their all out assault on all environmental regulation, this is not the Republican’s desire. According to their ideology, ADEM and EPA are illegitimate period. They are opposed to even intelligent regulation that protects consumers and citizens.

My congressman, Republican Mike Rogers, now makes his radical and ideological commitments explicit. In an interview, he comments:

For example, we didn’t have an EPA under Jimmy Carter. Who says the federal government has to have an EPA. Every state has their own environmental protection agency. Why does the federal government need to be doing that? Department of Education: I’m a big believer that education is a state and local matter, why do we need a federal department of education? I think we’ll have to look at a lot of things that we’re doing at the federal level and ask ourselves, ‘is this really what the federal role?’ And if not, discontinue it.

There you go: the EPA is illegitimate. (As well as the Department of Education)

Let’s dissect his statement.

First, as I pointed out yesterday:

Republican doctrine wasn’t always so hostile to environmental protection. The Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act of the 1970s had strong support from both parties. Republican President Richard Nixon created the EPA and told Congress in 1973 that America’s “irreplaceable heritage” had to be protected, arguing that “the price of economic growth need not and will not be deterioration in the quality of our lives and our surroundings.”

Jimmy Carter came after Richard Nixon; so we did have the EPA under Jimmy Carter.

Second, “is this really what the federal role.?”

At least as early as 1882, the constitutional legitimacy of federal oversight of pollution and enforcement of environmental protection was recognized and approved. Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1882 which criminalized polluting rivers and navigable water ways. Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 created federal water quality programs. Then there was the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (1954), Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, 1956 and 1958 Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Amendments, Clean Air Act of 1963, Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, and it goes on.

I recognize that the constitutional limitation on Congress of just “regulating interstate commerce” has been stretched almost to meaninglessness; however, regulating environmental pollution is certainly within the province of federal power. Even the most strict originalist would agree. Air and water pollution do not stop at state boundary lines, it travels interstate.

There is certainly a federal role.

Last week, to howls and cries from neo-conservatives, President Obama announced a limited withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan over the next 15 months.

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that all the 33,000 additional U.S. forces he ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 will be home within 15 months.

In a nationally televised address from the East Room of the White House, Obama said 10,000 of the “surge” forces would withdraw by the end of this year, and the other 23,000 would leave Afghanistan by September 2012.

This withdrawal should not have come as a surprise; he advised of his plans 18 months ago.

So after 15 months, we will still have a substantial occupying force in Afghanistan.  After draw-down is complete, the total U.S. military deployment in Afghanistan will still be nearly 70,000 troops.

Nevertheless, my Congressman, Republican Mike Rogers, saw fit to, not only criticize the President’s decision, but cynically impugn his motives:

The sacrifices our brave men and women in uniform have made in Afghanistan have helped bring greater stability there, and must not be jeopardized by any withdrawal plan based on political expediency and not the real-world decisions of our commanders on the ground.

We have been in Afghanistan for 10 years.  How long should we stay? When would be an appropriate time?

Congressman, there are many reasons to make this decision wholly apart from “political expediency.” For instance, in addition to the human loss (2554 US and coalition deaths in Afghanistan alone), the fiscal costs are unsustainable. In support of bringing the troops home, the conservative Future of Freedom Foundation stated:

The occupation of Afghanistan costs $10 billion a month. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have now cost more than $1 trillion, and these money pits are still in operation. Let that sink in: The government has a $14 trillion debt. Annual budget deficits are running at more than $1 trillion a year. Congress and the president are wrangling over whether to raise the debt ceiling. And the government is spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan alone.

If this were a movie, you’d dismiss it as ridiculous beyond belief. Yet our “leaders” expect us to accept this as reasonable, reassured that wise people in power know what they are doing. If it seems screwy, you must be an “isolationist” or uninformed.

If there is a criticism of the President, please address why we should not bring the more troops home more rapidly. I mean the president has not exactly shown himself to be an antiwar radical nor a lover of civil liberty. Greenwald summarizes his recent actions well:

In just the past two months alone (all subsequent to the killing of Osama bin Laden), the U.S. Government has taken the following steps in the name of battling the Terrorist menace: extended the Patriot Act by four years without a single reform; begun a new CIA drone attack campaign in Yemen; launched drone attacks in Somalia; slaughtered more civilians in Pakistan; attempted to assassinate U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki far from any battlefield and without a whiff of due process; invoked secrecy doctrines to conceal legal memos setting forth its views of its own domestic warrantless surveillance powers; announced a “withdrawal”plan for Afghanistan that entails double the number of troops in that country as were there when Obama was inaugurated; and invoked a very expansive view of its detention powers under the 2001 AUMF by detaining an alleged member of al-Shabab on a floating prison, without charges, Miranda warnings, or access to a lawyer.  That’s all independent of a whole slew of drastically expanded surveillance powers seized over the past two years in the name of the same threat.

And “real-world decisions?” In the real world, does our War in Afghanistan effectively deal with Terrorism or actually make it more likely. A well stated here:

Of course, just in case those propagandistic claims aren’t sufficient — we must wage war in multiple countries and seize ever-expanding surveillance powers to stop this group of two dozen Terrorist masterminds — the U.S. is doing everything possible to ensure that Terrorism remains as large as a threat as possible:

A NATO air strike has killed at least 14 civilians, including eight children, in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, local police say. . . .The deadly air raid came a day after two children were reportedly killed in a separate air strike in southwest Ghazni province.

The killing of civilians by foreign troops is a major source of friction between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers, and has soured the feelings of many ordinary Afghans towards foreign forces. . . . As violence has spread across the country, casualties have risen, and the United Nations said May was the deadliest month for civilians since they began keeping records four years earlier.

So Congressman Rogers, please encourage the President to bring the troops home as quickly and safely as possible.

 

 

As this Daily Home article shows, most people expect the Republican’s redistricting plan to be signed by the governor and then submitted to the U.S. Justice Department for federal approval.

The Senate passed the plan 16-15 and the House approved it 57-45, with most of the opposition coming from the Democratic minority. The plan still must be approved by the governor and the U.S. Justice Department before taking effect for next year’s elections.

But will it. We know that Hubbard and Marsh do not exactly like the Obama administration. Will they try to avoid any review of their plan by the Obama Justice Department? Will the Alabama Republicans follow the lead of their North Carolina and Texas brethren? As reported by the ISS,

Instead of submitting North Carolina’s redistricting plan to the Department of Justice — where it needs pre-clearance because 40 of the state’s counties are covered by the Voting Rights Act — the GOP law would allow the state’s Legislative Services Commission to directly present the plan to a district court in D.C.

Their scheme was inadvertently revealed by broadcast (listen to the audio here.) over the House speaker system. Oops.

The leaked audio has House Speaker Thom Tillis describing the plan, which he also warned was “extremely sensitive” and shouldn’t be publicly discussed: The plan all along has been to submit this to the courts, rather than the Department of Justice, since this will be the first redistricting plan under the Voting Rights Act submitted to a DOJ controlled by Democrats, let alone Obama.

With the exception of Roby, all the current incumbents feel comfortable with the current lines so there is no rush pursuing such an option.

We’ll see.

(BTW: Rep. Mike Rogers must be very thankful to his cronies in the Legislature. He almost picked Etowah and DeKalb counties. Then he almost picked up Chilton and the rest of Coosa County. But he got his dream, he got rid of Goodwater and gobbled all St.Clair County aka Republicanville. His district now only has 25% African-American population rather than 32%. in 2008 )

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.