Thursday, August 27, 2009
Could she have been right when she said that he was the candidate of lofty promises "the skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect" and not the candidate of real leadership?
In her former life as a presidential candidate, Clinton warned voters that Obama would let them down. She warned them that when the going got tough, he would fold up.
She said it was not just a matter of Obama lacking experience that was the least of it but that he lacked the strength, the toughness, the will to get the job done.
In January 2008, at Nashua High School North just before the New Hampshire primary, Clinton said of Obama: "I applaud his incredible ability to make a speech that really leaves people inspired. My point is that when the cameras disappear and you're there in the Oval Office having to make tough decisions, I believe I am better prepared and ready to lead our country."
Democratic voters disagreed with her (though she did win New Hampshire), and Obama went on to win both his party's nomination and the presidency. But Clinton, now his secretary of state, left him with a warning: "You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose."
It is prose time for Obama.
And we are now going to see how he governs when it comes to meaningful health care reform. In his heart and in his head he knows what it takes for such reform. He knows that a public option a government-run health care program like Medicare has the best chance of competing with the insurance industry.
Zero Hedge Claims that the Federal Reserve ITSELF Traded Over a Trillion Dollars Worth of Derivatives in March Alone
You know Zero Hedge, the popular website which has broken major stories like Goldman's dominance of high-frequency trading.
Some say that Zero Hedge occasionally breaks stories before adequately fact-checking them. I don't know whether that is true or not, but I do know that - in the months I've been reading the site - ZH has broken a number of major stories which:
(1) Were later covered by the world's biggest financial news outlets
(2) Have caused Congress members, Senators, the New York Stock Exchange and others to take action to change reporting requirements and to shut down questionable practices
Zero Hedge is now claiming that the Federal Reserve itself traded over a trillion dollars worth of derivatives in March alone:
Federal Reserve Disclosed Trading $1.4 trillion in OTC "Other" Derivatives in March 2009 *corrected
The Federal Reserve has apparently been engaged in OTC derivatives trading. As of March 2009, they began publishing this information in several categories broken down by 'risk'. Tyler discovered this bombshell last Friday. In Treasury TIC data there are large sums classified as "Other Contracts". While it is not clear what specifically is being traded , we know these are not "Single-currency Interest Rate Contracts" nor are they "Foreign Exchange Contracts". These contracts are classified as "Other Contracts by Type of Risk" -- and they include $85 billion in OTC equity derivatives , and $1.169 trillion (yes, with a T) in OTC credit derivatives.
What is interesting here is that prior to March 2009 such trading was not reported in detail. The March disclosure by category is what is completely new. These Fed OTC derivatives have $1 trillion+ in capital in "Other". It is unclear what aspect of the credit capital markets this is allocated to or propping up: is it CDS? And if so, what entities are the contracts written on? At this time, it is unclear what relationship, if any, these $1.4 trillion in Federal Reserve OTC derivatives have to the unusual market activity many of us have been observing.
If Zero Hedge is right about this one, it will end up being one of the biggest stories of the year.
Memo tells employees to keep a low profile
A spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's trade group, admitted in an article published Monday that as many as 50,000 industry employees are involved in an effort to fight back against aggressive healthcare reform.
The admission, published in the last sentence of a Wall Street Journal article, highlights the stakes of potential healthcare reform for the private health insurance industry. Insurers and investors alike are terrified at the prospect of a so-called "public option," which would create a government-run health insurance program to compete with private insurers. Because the government plan wouldn't have to earn a profit, the plan would be able to undercut the premiums of private firms, pressuring profit margins.
"The health-insurance industry is sending thousands of its employees to town-hall meetings and other forums during Congress's August recess to try to counter a tide of criticism directed at the insurers and remain a player and not an outsider in the debate over the future of the health-care system," the Journal's Vanessa Fuhrmans and Avery Johnson wrote Monday.
by Erik Deckers
I think PETA is getting into comedy, because their latest caper just screams hilarity.
They want to buy the Grand Haven lighthouse on Lake Michigan as its new anti-fishing campaign headquarters and memorial center, says the Detroit News. PETA applied to take over the lighthouse through a federal program that allows nonprofits to take control of the country's lighthouses as a way for the federal government to reduce operating costs.
"We want to renovate the Grand Haven lights as a memorial to the billions of fish killed annually by sport fishermen, as well as for their flesh (commercial fishing industry)," said Lindsey Rajt, manager of PETA's campaigns department. "We also want to make it a fun and educational place."
You know, I'm thinking we need a grain empathy center to commemorate the billions of tons of grains killed to make the granola PETA loves so much. We'll build it in an abandoned barn I saw a couple hours north of Indianapolis. And we'll start a similar one for a soybean memorial center for all the tofu they've preyed upon over the years.
A new survey conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates asks respondents to what degree they support or oppose "[s]tarting a new federal health insurance plan that individuals could purchase if they can't afford private plans offered to them" -- a public option, in other words. The results are interesting, though not necessarily surprising to those who have been closely following the debate.
All: 79 percent favor/18 percent oppose
Democrats: 89 percent favor/8 percent oppose
Republicans: 61 percent favor/33 percent oppose
Independents: 80 percent favor/16 percent oppose
Not only does a public option enjoy strong support (37 percent strongly support such a choice), it enjoys broad support -- a finding based not only in this new survey but also in SurveyUSA polling released last week. Indeed, a supermajority of even Republicans supports a federal program to provide individuals with a choice for their health insurance coverage, with just a third of the party membership opposing such a plan.
So why, again, are supporters of a public option finding such difficulty in Congress?
By Associated Press
Only a few years ago, making meth required an elaborate lab - with filthy containers simmering over open flames, cans of flammable liquids and hundreds of pills. The process gave off foul odors, sometimes sparked explosions and was so hard to conceal that dealers often "cooked" their drugs in rural areas.
But now drug users are making their own meth in small batches using a faster, cheaper and much simpler method with ingredients that can be carried in a knapsack and mixed on the run. The "shake-and-bake" approach has become popular because it requires a relatively small number of pills of the decongestant pseudoephedrine - an amount easily obtained under even the toughest anti-meth laws that have been adopted across the nation to restrict large purchases of some cold medication.
"Somebody somewhere said 'Wait this requires a lot less pseudoephedrine, and I can fly under the radar,"' said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.
An Associated Press review of lab seizures and interviews with state and federal law enforcement agents found that the new method is rapidly spreading across the nation's midsection and is contributing to a spike in the number of meth cases after years of declining arrests.
The new formula does away with the clutter of typical meth labs, and it can turn the back seat of a car or a bathroom stall into a makeshift drug factory. Some addicts have even made the drug while driving.
The pills are crushed, combined with some common household chemicals and then shaken in the soda bottle. No flame is required.
Using the new formula, batches of meth are much smaller but just as dangerous as the old system, which sometimes produces powerful explosions, touches off intense fires and releases drug ingredients that must be handled as toxic waste.
"If there is any oxygen at all in the bottle, it has a propensity to make a giant fireball," said Sgt. Jason Clark of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control. "You're not dealing with rocket scientists here anyway. If they get unlucky at all, it can have a very devastating reaction."
One little mistake, such as unscrewing the bottle cap too fast, can result in a huge blast, and police in Alabama, Oklahoma and other states have linked dozens of flash fires this year - some of them fatal - to meth manufacturing.
"Every meth recipe is dangerous, but in this one, if you don't shake it just right, you can build up too much pressure, and the container can pop," Woodward said.
When fire broke out in older labs, "it was usually on a stove in a back room or garage and people would just run, but when these things pop, you see more extreme burns because they are holding it.
The Air Force found out the Boise airman was gay when he had to defend himself. The Pentagon chief says such cases may justify changing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
BY DAN POPKEY
Fehrenbach faced anti-aircraft fire, surface-to-air missiles and a mechanical problem on his wingman's plane. Still, he destroyed the enemy position and helped clear the way for the Army to take the airport that night. For his heroism, the Notre Dame grad won an Air Medal with a valor device, one of his nine Air Medals.
Five years later, Fehrenbach confronted a crisis in a very different setting. A Boise police detective sat across a conference table questioning him about an alleged crime.
Fehrenbach, stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, was in a Catch-22. To clear himself of the claim he'd raped a man, Fehrenbach could tell police his side of the story. But admitting he'd had consensual sex could get him kicked out of the Air Force he loved after 18 years.
Fehrenbach asked Detective Mark Vucinich whether his employer had a right to see his statement. Yes, replied Vucinich.
Fehrenbach then told the detective he had sex with Cameron Shaner on May 12, 2008. He'd met Shaner, 30, on a gay Web site and invited him to his southeast Boise home.
Fehrenbach was soon cleared by police and the Ada County prosecutor's office. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations subsequently found no violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. AFOSI concluded that Fehrenbach and Shaner had consensual sex, and that Shaner was an "unreliable source of information."
But the Air Force wasn't done: Fehrenbach's admission he'd had gay sex was a violation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
"Because of the criminal allegation, Victor confirmed the fact he was gay," said Emily Hecht, a lawyer for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund. "That's all the Air Force needed. Had his accuser been a woman, he'd have gone back to work with no further issue."
FIGHTING BACK, CHANGING POLICY
Fehrenbach, 40, was notified in September that he would be discharged, costing him a $46,000 annual pension and the dignity of retiring on his own terms, as his Air Force parents both had.