Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sunday 'Report;' 12/18/2011

What The National Pamphleteers Don't Report:
Nigel Farage: Escape Euro Prison!
by Mike Shedlock
December 12, 2011
When it comes to humor from politicians (in a good sense), Nigel Farage is right at the top of the list.
His opening line had me laughing out loud.
Farage is 100% correct. If the UK is being push aside (and it is), Cameron should embrace being shoved aside and let Merkozy fend for themselves.
Partial Transcript
RT: Britain has no to tighter controls leaving Euro countries to sort themselves out and the UK is being pushed further aside.
Farage: Well let's hope so ... Cameron said can we have some small concessions. Sarkozy told him to take a running jump. On the face of it I should be cheering David Cameron and say isn't it marvelous, the British prime minister has finally stood up and said something. ... But we are still [....]

Newt is Right

by Michael Reagan
Dec 07, 2011
    Tom Brokaw has written a book about the Greatest Generation, a generation that grew up with fathers in the home who saw it as their duty to instill in their sons a work ethic. The Greatest Generation went on to win World War II. Newt Gingrich is right when he warns that the newest generation does not understand or appreciate the value of good, hard work.  Tragically, 40 million children will go to bed tonight without a father in the home to teach them the economic facts of life. One wonders how exactly these children will ever learn any kind of work ethic. While in some cases there is a fine mother like mine who can instill it in them, more often than not it's simply not possible.
    When I was 10 years old I wanted an expensive, new 10-speed Schwinn bike. I asked my mother -- the late Hollywood actress Jane Wyman, who could easily afford it -- if she would simply buy the bike for me.  She said she would loan me the money if I signed a note acknowledging the debt. I said, "Mom, I am only 10 years old. What can I possibly do to make enough money to pay you back?" She told me I could earn money by selling newspapers.  I signed the note, and every Sunday until I fully paid for that bike I sold papers in front of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. Later I asked Mom why she made me work for that bike when the other kids' parents simply gave them their bikes.
    I'll never forget what she told me. She said,
"I build men, not boys, and if you don't learn to work for what you want now, you will end up as a 40-year-old boy.  I want a man."
I pray that that's what she got in her only son. At least that's what I try to be.  On that issue alone, Mom would have voted [....]

Illinois Teen Learns About Bank Fees the Hard Way

by SUSANNA KIM (@skimm) 
Dec. 13, 2011
    Melinda Ganziano of McCullom Lake, Ill., wanted to introduce her son to the basics of banking, but he ended up with $229 in fees in two weeks with a balance of just $4.85.   Ganziano, a 55-year-old mother of five children, encouraged her fourth child, Daniel, 18, to set up a savings account at a nearby TCF Bank "out of convenience" due to its location.  Ganziano and her son discovered that the bank offered little convenience due to the growing number of bank fees, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune.  After he put money into the savings accont from his job, Daniel Ganziano's balance eventually fell to $4.85 and with such a small amount, he ignored it.
    However, TCF sent him a letter on Oct. 12 informing him that it had charged him a $9.95 monthly maintenance fee six days earlier because the account had a low balance. That led to an overdrawn account by $5.10, which then led to a $28-a-day overdraft fee. The account was 10 cents over the $5 threshold for which the daily fee kicks in. Young Ganziano's account was now overdrawn by $33.10.
Ganziano, who works in the nonprofit sector, and her son went to the bank that weekend to [....]

Oil-Rich America?

by Victor Davis Hanson
December 8, 2011    There is a revolution going on America. But it is not part of the Tea Party or the loud Occupy Wall Street protests.  Instead, massive new reserves of gas, oil and coal are being discovered almost everywhere in the United States, due to revolutionary methods of exploration and exploitation such as fracking and horizontal drilling. Current prices of over $100 a barrel make even complex efforts at recovery enormously profitable.  There were always known to be additional untapped reserves of oil and gas in the petroleum-rich Gulf of Mexico, off America's shores, and in the American West and Alaska. But even the top energy experts never imagined just how vast was the energy there -- or beneath far more unlikely places like South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. Some studies suggest the United States has now expanded its known potential gas and oil reserves tenfold.
    The strategic and economic repercussions of these new finds are staggering, and remind us how a once energy-independent and thereby confident American economy soared to world dominance in the early 20th century.  America will soon again be able to supply all of its own domestic natural gas needs -- and perhaps for the next 90 years at present rates of consumption. We have recently become a net exporter of refined gas and diesel fuel, and already have cut imported oil from OPEC countries by 1 million barrels per day.  With expanded exploration and conservation, the United States could also eventually supply half its own petroleum needs. If we were to eliminate just 5 million barrels of our current daily 9 million barrels of imported petroleum, the annual savings could reach nearly $200 billion per year. Eventually, the new gas and oil could add another 1.6 million new jobs and add [....]

The Top 50 Examples of Liberal Media Bias

by Warner Todd Huston,
The Western Center for Journalism
December 10, 2011
    Let’s face it, liberal media bias has been around since there have been liberals to do the “reporting” of the news. But this fact should surprise no one. After all, the news media has always been filled with bias of one type or another. In fact, there was a time when American customers of the news knew exactly which newspapers sported which point of view. It was taken for granted that one newspaper supported one side and another newspaper a different side.
Liberal Bias is Prevalent in the Mainstream Media    But in the late 1950s and early 1960s that all changed. Suddenly the folks in the news media began to present themselves as unbiased pursuers of “the truth.” Gone was the out-in-front bias and instead the media cloaked itself in a new air of detachment, a new just-the-facts mien.  This new era in media conceit coincided with the advent of a liberal mindset that took on the weight of the world, a new era in which liberals felt that their ideals rose above God, tradition and country.
    Suddenly a journalist’s work was divorced from the trade in local news and became a profession increasingly assuming a national and ideological agenda, one fueled by journalism schools and professors that began to disgorge university trained “journalists” with a left-wing agenda. These people then went forth to replace the grizzled local reporters that were wedded to their local political culture. This new wave of “journalists” did not want to report what was going on in their local news as much as they wanted to “save the world.”  In pursuit of that left-wing national agenda — if not a leftist world agenda — “reporters” began to spin all news stories, from the most mundane stories to the hottest national news, toward a left-wing agenda. These “journalists” slipped in bias in every way they could to push the leftist’s meme.  For decades this left-wing [....]

Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny

With public workers eligible to retire at 55 or 60, governments look to boost retirement ages
By Don Thompson,
Associated Press
December 12, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- After nearly 40 years in public education, Patrick Godwin spends his retirement days running a horse farm east of Sacramento, Calif., with his daughter.   His departure from the workaday world is likely to be long and relatively free of financial concerns, after he retired last July at age 59 with a pension paying $174,308 a year for the rest of his life.  Such guaranteed pensions for relatively youthful government retirees — paid in similar fashion to millions nationwide — are contributing to nationwide friction with the public sector workers. They have access to attractive defined-benefit pensions and retiree health care coverage that most private sector workers no longer do.
    Experts say eligible retirement ages have fallen over the past two decades for many reasons, including contract agreements between states and government labor unions that lowered retirement ages in lieu of raising pay.  With Americans increasingly likely to live well into their 80s, critics question whether paying lifetime pensions to retirees from age 55 or 60 is financially sustainable. An Associated Press survey earlier this year found the 50 states have a combined $690 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $418 billion in retiree health care obligations.   Three-quarters of U.S. public retirement [....]

Euro Summit – I wonder what Soros thinks, in private
by The Banking Nerd, 

December 12, 2011    As these Euro meetings were unfolding I, like most people, started to get quite confused about what was what going on, and it was (is) becoming more and more like watching some kind of bizarre alternative theatre. BUT if markets are perfect, essentially governed by simple rules of supply and demand, equilibrium and most importantly PERFECT KNOWLEDGE, then, with all the collective brain power of Europe, why does it seem so hard to find solution, and why do the meetings themselves seem to affect to markets so profoundly (because it shouldn’t really if they are perfect). Then I thought about a book I read a couple of years ago by George Soros. Soros one of the most admired, respected, feared and hated investors of all time, made it from rags to currently 7th richest person in America, by challenging some of the fundamental principles of our market system; that markets are perfect and self regulating. Love or load him, his results do warrant some attention.
    In his book “The new paradigm for financial markets, the Credit Crisis of 2008 and what it means” he is attacking the very idea that markets are perfect. Instead he argues that markets are constituted by two processes, what he calls the cognitive function and the manipulative function and because these two processes constantly react to each other, prolonged periods of disequilibrium, or bubbles, can develop. It is a bit heavy reading but one could perhaps view what he is saying like a game of chess between those trying to understand what is going on, and those trying to affect what is going on. Because each player react to the other players move, those trying to understand will never fully understand, and those trying to manipulate will rarely reach the exact outcome they were aiming for, and almost certainly both players are working on assumptions/expectations that are wrong.  It is actually a very interesting concept. Particularly interesting is a piece he is quoting from a Ron Suskind article, which I will re-quote to you.
In the summer of 2002… I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush…
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."  Soros comments that the Aide, presumably Karl Rove, did not merely recognise that the truth can be manipulated, he promoted manipulation of truth as a superior approach.  More than anything it was the above quote that stayed with me, it is one of the most powerful things I have ever read, and I have thought about it countless times in so many situations since.
    Then what kind of players are Merkozy? How about Cameron? How about the other EU leaders? S&P, IMF and ECB? Are they cognitive or manipulative or both? When I wrote the post "Angela Merkel Kann ich bitte mehr Taschengeld haben?" those were precisely the questions I was struggling with.  So what would George say? Well he has been saying many things, about the risk of defaults, countries leaving the euro, probability for [....]
Host Kicks Atheist Off Show For Calling Jesus & the Nativity ‘An Insult’

by Billy Hallowell,
December 13, 2011
The atheists over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation aren’t ashamed to let their anti-faith message be heard loud and clear.
The Blaze has spoken with the group and heard, first-hand, just how strong-worded and offensive (to people of faith, at least) its message can be. Last night, the Fox Business Network’s Eric Bolling invited a FFRF representative onto his show to discuss the group’s anti-Christian stance.  During a dialogue with FFRF spokesperson Dan Barker (who is married to FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor), “Follow the Money” host Eric Bolling was so dumbfounded by the group’s anti-Jesus views that he ended up booting the atheist-spokesperson off of the program. Mediaite’s Colby Hall called the moment a “‘War on Christmas’ miracle!”
    At the center of the discussion was a Texas nativity scene that the Madison, Wisconsin-based FFRF has been demanding be torn down immediately. During the dialogue, Barker claimed that America is not a Christian nation and that the nativity should not be present on government property. He went on to say that the nativity represents “an insult to human nature that we are all doomed and damned.”  It was this comment that commenced the uncomfortable exchange between Bolling and Barker. “Sir, I have to take exception to the way you’ve described the nativity scene. It’s not an insult. It’s certainly not an insult to me. I’m a Christian,” Bolling explained. “It is an [....]

All-American Made House
by Diane Sawyer-Video Report,
(plus associated material:  List of American Made building products)

Debunking the myths of Tim Tebow

by Les Carpenter,
Yahoo! Sports
Dec 14, 2011
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – On a winter day in 2010, Tim Tebow sat alone in a hotel meeting room with Ken Herock, a former NFL general manager who tutors players on how to approach important team meetings at the NFL scouting combine. The topic was a perception among NFL teams that Tebow was successful in college only because of the University of Florida’s offensive system, a notion upheld by the failure of Alex Smith to thrive in the NFL after having played for Tebow’s coach, Urban Meyer, when Meyer was at Utah.
    At 7-1 as a starter for the Broncos this season, Tim Tebow is the toast of the NFL world.  “A lot of people are comparing you to Alex Smith because you run the same offense … ” Herock started when Tebow suddenly cut him off.  “Now hold on there, Mr. Herock,” Tebow said. “That’s where the comparisons end. I won the Heisman Trophy. I won a national championship two times.”  He said it not with arrogance, although the words could have been parsed that way, but rather with an assuredness Tebow rarely reveals in his public interviews. It is the kind of thing the Denver Broncos see all the time, the reason many of the team’s assistant coaches have come to love his [....]

FBI considered sting against Gingrich

by United Press International, Inc.
(via Personal Liberty Digest)
December 16, 2011

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The FBI considered, then abandoned, a sting against Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich when he was U.S. House speaker, The Washington Post reported.  The operation was quashed in 1997 after the FBI determined there was no evidence that Gingrich knew about telephone conversations involving an arms dealer that indicated a $10 million bribe might lead to Congress lifting the Iraqi arms embargo, the Post reported Thursday.  The arms dealer secretly recorded the conversations with a man who said he was acting on behalf of Gingrich's then-wife, Marianne, people knowledgeable about the investigation said.
    "There are so many falsehoods," Marianne Gingrich said Thursday. "The FBI, they should have been protecting me, not going after me. This is scary stuff."  Her lawyer, Victoria Toensing, said there was no basis "whatsoever" for an investigation.  These were people "making up access to a high-level government person," Toensing told the Post.  Details of the matter became public this week in an article and documents posted online by a journalist who operates a Web site called DC Bureau.  Gingrich's presidential campaign did not immediately comment, the Post said.
    The investigation began after the arms dealer, Sarkis Soghanalian, told federal prosecutors and FBI agents that Marianne Gingrich [....]

Time to Stock Up on Toilet Paper, Batteries, and More–CHEAP!

by Kellene Bishop,
December 13, 2011
    I have specific price points set for the various items I purchase. When a product reaches a particular price point, I stock up. Well, recently I was made aware that Amazon has a “Subscribe and Save” option on their website for some common items that I always purchase and with free shipping. Even better, usually if there’s a coupon in circulation that I would normally be using in a physical store, Amazon has available on their site that is mine for the using simply by clicking on it at the time of my order.
    My price point on my beloved toilet paper is 25 cents a roll (regular roll). Thanks to the “Subscribe and Save” option which lowers the price of the product by 15%, free shipping, and the $3.00 off coupon I was able to take advantage of, I was able to purchase Charmin Ultra Strong for only 20 cents a roll! Yeah, baby. I’ll purchase this all day long–so long as there is money to purchase it with. And contrary to some totally gross suggestions to plan on doing without toilet paper, I’m always sure to have plenty on hand in order to avoid a sanitation nightmare someday. (Though I’m sure Big Brother will soon list the “possession of more than a month’s worth of toilet paper” as grounds for “enemy combatant” suspicion. *sigh*)  Just a tidbit of info on the “Subscribe and Save” option, you can cancel and renew it at any time. So if my price on the TP goes above my mandatory 25 cents a roll, then when I get my little notice from Amazon that it’s time for my next shipment, I just click to cancel. There’s more than one [....]

The World’s Happiest (And Saddest) Countries

Slideshow Presentation
These are the 20 most prosperous countries in the world, followed by the 20 least. According to rankings in the 2011 Legatum Prosperity Index.

Why a millionaire wants autoworkers to take a pay cut

by Justin Hyde
Senior Editor of Motoramic
December 16, 2011
    Former auto czar and wealthy Wall Street financier Steven Rattner told a luncheon in Detroit on Thursday that while the $50 billion GM bailout was successful, "we should have asked the UAW to do a bit more. We did not ask any UAW member to take a cut in their pay." He also said that "friends on Wall Street" were concerned by GM's earnings and communications with the market, pushing the stock down to a level that would lose the goverment $14 billion if it sold its shares today.
    Meanwhile, at General Motors' Orion Township, Mich., plant about 45 minutes away from where Rattner spoke, there are three tiers of hourly workers. Roughly 900 workers at the top tier, the most senior UAW workers, make $29 an hour, a rate unchanged since 2008. Another 500 or so UAW workers are paid about $16 an hour — a rate, adjusted for inflation, equal to the famed $5 a day Henry Ford started paying his workers in 1914.  And at the bottom scale are 200-odd workers technically employed by an outside supplier but who work in the plant moving parts to the assembly line, jobs once done by GM workers paid $29 an hour. The contractors' pay: $9 an hour with no health care, a rate which over a year's work would leave them below the poverty level for a family of four.  GM's contract with the UAW that convinced the [....]

The Truth About Wealth
by Robert Frank,
Weekend Investor
December 17, 2011
Who says the rich always get richer?
    Despite heated rhetoric emanating from politicians and pundits, the top 1% is hardly a fixed group that enjoys consistent income gains. To the contrary, the wealthiest have become the most crash-prone group in our economy.  The total income of the top 1%—or those earning more than $343,000 in 2009—fell by more than 30% from 2007, according to the most recent Internal Revenue Service data. By contrast, the average income of the bottom 90% fell less than 3% during the same period.  A November Federal Reserve study, meanwhile, found that a third of the people in the top 1% in 2007, as measured by wealth, were no longer in the top 1% in 2009.
    The good news: Despite the turbulent new economics of wealth, there are safeguards that the rich and future rich can deploy to cushion the shocks and mitigate their risks.  The wealthiest have likely recouped some of their sunken fortunes since 2009, along with financial markets. Yet the latest wave of data points to an indisputable trend—we have entered the age of "High-Beta Wealth."
    On Wall Street, "beta" measures volatility relative to the overall market; a beta of 1.0 signals alignment with the market. Technology and [....]

US charges ex-Fannie, Freddie CEOs with fraud

6 ex-Fannie, Freddie executives charged with civil fraud over risky subprime mortgages
by Derek Kravitz,
AP Business Writer
December 17, 2011WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two former CEOs at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday became the highest-profile individuals to be charged in connection with the 2008 financial crisis.  In a lawsuit filed in New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against six former executives at the two firms, including former Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd and former Freddie CEO Richard Syron.  The executives were accused of understating the level of high-risk subprime mortgages that Fannie and Freddie held just before the housing bubble burst.
    "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives told the world that their subprime exposure was substantially smaller than it really was," said Robert Khuzami, SEC's enforcement director.  Khuzami noted that huge losses on their subprime loans eventually pushed the two companies to the brink of failure and forced the government to take them over.  The charges brought Friday follow widespread criticism of federal authorities for not holding top executives accountable for the recklessness that triggered the 2008 crisis.
    Before the SEC announced the charges, it reached an agreement not to charge Fannie and Freddie. The companies, which the government took over in 2008, also agreed to cooperate with the SEC in the cases against the former executives.  The Justice Department began investigating the two firms three years ago. In August, Freddie said Justice informed the company that its probe had ended.  Many legal experts say they don't expect the six executives to face criminal charges.  "If the U.S. attorney's office was going to [....]

Congressmen can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ in mail

by Mark Tapscott
The Washington Examiner
December 16, 2011
    Looks like the PC police have threatened members of the House of Representatives against wishing constituents a "Merry Christmas," if they want to do so in a mailing paid for with tax dollars.  Members who submit official mailings for review by the congressional franking commission that reviews all congressional mail to determine if it can be "franked," or paid for with tax dollars, are being told that no holiday greetings, including "Merry Christmas," can be sent in official mail.  "I called the commission to ask for clarification and was told no 'Merry Christmas.' Also told cannot say 'Happy New Year' but can say 'have a happy new year' – referencing the time period of a new year, but not the holiday," said a Hill staffer who requested anonymity.  Another Hill staffer told The Washington Examiner that "we were given that advice after submitting" a draft mailing.
    Members of Congress send millions of dollars worth of mail to constituents every year but there are official rules that govern what can and cannot be said in those mailings. Members are barred, for example, from saying anything that might be construed as advocating their re-election.  But saying "Merry Christmas" [....]
Until Next Sunday....



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