Archive for September 29th, 2008

House Defeats Wall Street Bailout Bill

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Looks like any bailout is going to have to be made much more palatable to the average person.

WASHINGTON — Stocks spiraled downward as much as 685 points on Monday as a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street ended in defeat in the House of Representatives.

House leaders held open the vote as they tried to sway reluctant lawmakers to support the plan, which failed 205-228. Arm-twisting continued even after the vote clock expired. One member, retiring Republican Rep. Jerry Weller, did not vote.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Democrats will take a look at what to do next.

“We did our part,” said Hoyer of Maryland. “As I said on the floor, this is a bipartisan responsibility and we think (Democrats) met our responsibility.”

Asked whether majority Democrats would try to reverse the stunning defeat, Hoyer said, “We’re certainly not going to abandon our responsibility. We’ll continue to focus on this and see what actions we can take.”

Hoyer was joined by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, who were among Democratic leaders debating whether and when to offer a new plan.

“We have to take a look at what to do next,” Frank said.

The bill aimed to open up clogged credit lines for financial markets that had come to a near collapse. Sellers continued to shed stocks as the market teetered down more than 500 points after the vote ended.

Representatives worked throughout the weekend to make a bill palatable. Republicans had insisted on a mortgage securities insurance paid by firms who had invested in bad housing loans. That was included in the bill voted on Monday as were provisions to prevent executives from getting massive severence packages, additional congressional oversight, more transparency and accountability and a means to let the taxpayer get back its investment before shareholders.

But many lawmakers continued to oppose the plan for a variety of reasons, including the massive price tag that would expand the national debt, and GOP members said their constituents were calling 10-1 in opposition to the bill, which had been described as too much government intervention. Of 235 Democrats, 140 supported the legislation. Of 199 Republicans, 133 opposed it.

President Bush was to meet with his economic team, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, to determine the next steps, and White House officials said they will meet and then contact congressional leaders.

“The crisis we are facing remains,” said White House Deputy Spokesman Tony Fratto, who added, “We’re obviously disappointed.”

Fratto said that he thinks many Americans were mistaken by believing that the bill was a “bailout of Wall Street.” Instead, he said the bill was to prevent a large economic crisis.

Nobody wants to bail out Wall Street, and we understand Americans might be opposed to bailing out Wall Street … This is not a bailout,” he said. “We hope Americans don’t need to see real evidence of a break down in order to prevent a break down.”

Earlier in the day, Bush argued that jittery U.S. taxpayers will benefit from a number of safeguards that lawmakers wrote into the pending legislation during weekend negotiations on Capitol Hill, including checks and balances on the operation of the program.

But supporters — even Republicans — said they didn’t like the bailout but didn’t want to play with history or risk an economic collapse.

“I’m not willing to put that bullet in the revolver and spin it. I will take the political risk,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee.

“We’re all worried about losing our jobs,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., before the vote. “Most of us say, ‘I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it — not me.’

“We’re in this moment, and if we fail to do the right thing, Heaven help us,” he said.

Opponents said part of the reason for the opposition from Republicans was what they termed a partisan speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said one GOP source. House Minority Whip Roy Blunt said he thinks Republicans could have provided a dozen more votes had Pelosi not given her speech.

Pelosi had said that Congress needed to pass the bill, even though it was an outgrowth of the “failed economic policies” of the last eight years.

“When was the last time someone asked you for $700 billion?” she asked. “It is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush administration’s failed economic policies — policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.”

House Republican Conference Chairman, Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., said “he was disappointed that the process that yielded a bipartisan approach took a very marked, partisan tone at the end of the debate.”

This is not a partisan crisis, this is an economic crisis,” said Deputy Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, who said that 94 Democrats also refused to go along with the bill. He described the vote as the result of “Speaker Pelosi’s failure to listen and failure to lead.”

Pelosi said that Republicans have not received the message from the White House that bipartisanship was needed.

“We delivered on our side of the bargain,” Pelosi said, congratulating Democratic leaders for getting 60 percent of the caucus to support the White House bill. “We extend a hand of cooperation to the White House, to the Republicans so we can get this issue resolved”

Bush used a four-minute speech at the White House to try to assure Americans that the plan is good for the country.

“I’m confident that this rescue plan along with other measures taken by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve will begin to restore strength and stability to America’s financial system and overall economy,” Bush said. “And I’m confident in that in long run, America will overcome these challenges and remain the most dynamic and productive economy in the world.”

The president spoke shortly after two leading players in the Hill bargaining went on television news shows to urge passage, even as both acknowledged the necessity of this action represents a sad day for the nation.

Asked if the compromise bill indeed will go through Congress, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., replied: “We hope so.”

But the Connecticut senator, chairman of the Banking Committee, also said the bill is not a panacea for all the problems that have bedeviled the U.S. financial markets. He also said, though, that failure to act would spread the contagion of frozen credit markets even further. “This is not just about Wall Street,” Dodd said. He said that it’s “potentially going to hurt other people across the country.”

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who represented fellow Republicans in the weekend talks, called it a “tourniquet” for the ailing financial industry and slow-moving economy.

The latest assessments of prospects for passage came as investors worldwide and in early trading in the United States continued to show doubt about whether the bill would go through, much less go a long way toward curing the systemic problems that have unnerved financial markets across the globe for weeks.

Bush said the legislation addresses the root cause of the problem — “assets related to home mortgages that have lost value during the housing decline.”

And the president noted that under provisions of the pending bill, “the federal government will be authorized to purchase these assets” and said that will help financial institutions to resume lending to individuals and businesses.

“I know many Americans are worried about the cost of the bill,” Bush said. But he also said the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the federal Office of Management and Budget expect that the “ultimate cost to the taxpayer” will be much less.

Original Link.

Happy Rosh Hashanah to All of Our Jewish Friends – 2008

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Rosh Hashanah begins this evening at sun down. so we wanted to take a moment to wish a very happy Rosh Hashanah to our Jewish friends!!

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו
לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום

l’shanah tova tikkatevu vetechatemu
le’altar lechayim tovim ul’shalom

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!
Immediately, for a good life and for peace.

Treasury on $700 Billion Bailout Amount: “It’s Not Based On Any Particular Data”

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Do What??
OK, let’s see the full quote:
“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”
“”We just wanted to choose a really large number.” Are these jokers for real???
We (the tax payers) are supposed to add $700 billion to a massive national debt in order to bail out a bunch of poorly run companies, but we find out that the Feds aren’t even sure how much money they need.
Are we going to keep allowing this nonsense to continue???

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill seem determined to work together to pass a bill that will get the credit markets churning again. But will they do it this week, as some had hoped just a few days ago? Don’t count on it.

“Do I expect to pass something this week?” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., mused to reporters Tuesday. “I expect to pass something as soon as we can. I think it’s important that we get it done right, not get it done fast.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, says his office has gotten “close to zero” calls in support of the $700 billion plan proposed by the administration. He doubts it’ll happen immediately either. “I don’t think it has to be a week” he says. “If we do it right, then we need to take as long as it needs.”

The more Congress examines the Bush administration’s bailout plan, the hazier its outcome gets. At a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle complained of being rushed to pass legislation or else risk financial meltdown.

“The secretary and the administration need to know that what they have sent to us is not acceptable,” says Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn. The committee’s top Republican, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, says he’s concerned about its cost and whether it will even work.

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

Original Link.

FBI Hunts American Citizens Trained Overseas for Terror

Monday, September 29th, 2008

As Pakistani investigators hunt the terrorists behind the massive Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad, FBI agents in the U.S. have begun aggressively hunting for Americans who have recently returned from trips to Pakistan where they may have trained at al-Qaida camps, WND has learned.

A coast-to-coast dragnet has been launched partly in response to leads developed in the arrest of one of al-Qaida’s “fixers” in the U.S., say FBI officials. They report the bureau is in a race against time to identify Pakistan-trained sleeper cells and disrupt a possible pre-election “October surprise.”

For the first time since 9/11, counterterrorism field agents have been authorized to spy on young Muslim men and women – including American citizens – who have traveled to Pakistan without any specific evidence of wrongdoing.

Controversial new investigative guidelines approved by the Justice Department allow agents to monitor suspects and conduct undercover interviews even before opening formal investigations.

FBI headquarters has ordered its field offices to aggressively pursue anonymous tips and report back any suspicious activities in their Muslim communities. The intelligence will be immediately analyzed and shared in a threat matrix to avoid a repeat of the so-called “Phoenix memo” intelligence failure, officials say.

In the weeks prior to 9/11, an alert agent in the FBI’s Phoenix office noted that several radical Middle Eastern men were taking flying lessons. He drafted a memo and sent it to headquarters, which promptly buried it, missing an opportunity to act before the disastrous hijackings of 9/11.

The FBI’s new rules and current sense of urgency follow the recent interrogation of al-Qaida operative Aafia Siddiqui, an M.I.T.-educated scientist who fled to Pakistan after 9/11. She was arrested this summer in Afghanistan and brought back to the U.S. after sustaining injuries from a gun battle.

According to a federal indictment, Siddiqui was found with handwritten notes that referred to a “mass casualty attack” and listed various locations in the U.S. including Wall Street, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Plum Island and the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition, certain notes referred to the construction of “dirty bombs,” chemical and biological weapons and other explosives.

Original Link.

“Forget Bailouts – Let the Hammer Fall” By Johnnie Byrd

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Listening to the many voices offering “solutions” to the current economic crisis reminds me of some sage advice from an old friend who was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. Looking for help, he bounced from doctor to doctor, each of whom assured him they had the cure, i.e. surgery by the surgeon, radiation by the radiologist, chemotherapy by the oncologist, etc. My friend laughed it off observing that, “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If my friend were alive today he’d listen to all those who have the sure cure for what ails our nation’s economy and say, again, “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

To a lame duck president who is desperate to deal with “the legacy thing” his solution is doing anything to avoid the Hoover label. He is dreaming if he thinks Americans want to assuage his fear with their money.

To the Democrats in Congress who shook down Freddie and Fannie, the solution is pretending they never did. Since Obama was particularly adroit at this shakedown, his protectors in the mainstream media will turn a blind eye to it while allowing the Bush administration to twist in the wind. More government is a solution with which they can always live happily ever after.

For Republican Senator Richard Shelby (AL), who was frustrated by the Democrats in his attempts to reform Freddie and Fannie, it is payback time. His solution: let Dodd and friends twist in the wind. The only question is whether Shelby and friends are tenacious enough.

To the socialists of both parties the solution is bigger government with smarter bureaucrats packing more oversight, knowing what is best for us. After all, why were they elected to Congress if not to legislate? Fortunately, this group is adroit at reading the tea leaves and may be dissuaded by the mixed reviews the bailout plan is receiving in the polls.

To the freedom lovers, who understand that success and failure are the yin and yang of free market capitalism, the solution is to let the market work thereby allowing only the truly strong rise from the ashes of bad decisions. Let the risk takers on Wall Street reap what they’ve sown—period. In other words, the fundamentals of our economy are strong. Hint for Senator McCain: it’s the capitalist system that is fundamentally strong.

Let’s not forget the people who are running the show. To regulators like Bernanke and Paulson more regulation by smarter, more powerful bureaucrats is the answer. As recently as July 8, 2008, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said:

I welcome recent efforts to improve the regulatory oversight of the government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If these firms are strong, well-regulated, well-capitalized, and focused on their mission, they will be better able to serve their function of increasing access to mortgage credit, without posing undue risks to the financial system or the taxpayer.

These folks believe in bigger and bigger government—and they are wrong.

Unfortunately, most observers of the political class believe that the regulators will eventually have their way, only after much gnashing of teeth by our electeds in Congress. Why? Because as my old friend also taught me, “You can put all the courage in Washington in a thimble.” That’s why “mavericks” stand out.

Finally, most taxpayers have simply had enough of Washington “solutions” purchased with their money. Ordinary Americans are entirely skeptical when Bernanke and Paulson tell them that things will be worse without the bailout—because things are already worse. To most Americans the solution is for Congress to find the courage to put the hammer down and let our capitalist system work. If so, this will have proven to be a truly remarkable political season full of hope and change.

Original Link.

“PROTESTORS TO AHMADINEJAD: YOU’RE NOT WELCOME IN NEW YORK” by Fern Sidman

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Chants of “Stop Iran” and “Shame on the Grand Hyatt” could be heard on East 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan, early Thursday evening, September 25th, as over 1000 Jews and non-Jews, representing over 60 political and religious organizations gathered across the street from the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Angered by the invitation extended to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend a gala dinner in his honor at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, an umbrella organization called 9/25 Rally, under the leadership of the Jewish Action Alliance’s Beth Gilinsky assembled for a historic rally featuring a veritable cornucopia of speakers representing a broad cross section of affiliations. The dinner at the Hyatt was hosted by the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker United Nations office, a group called Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches – United National Liason Office. The co-sponsor of this event was the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.

The rally was held just two days after the Iranian president took the podium at the General Assembly of the United Nations and addressed the world body. Calling the United States “occupiers, without a sense of shame”; a direct reference to the US military presence in Iraq and consistently pointing to the US as a “bullying power”, Ahmadinejad saved his most vitriolic statements for Israel and the Jewish people.

Questioning Israel’s right to exist he stated, “In Palestine, 60 years of carnage and invasion is still ongoing at the hands of some criminal and occupying Zionists. They have forged a regime through collecting people from various parts of the world and bringing them to other people’s land by displacing, detaining, and killing the true owners of that land. ”

In typical Hitlerian fashion, he intimated that worldwide Jewry maintains a secret cabal, whose ultimate goal is global domination. Substituting the politically correct word “Zionists” for “Jews”, he assigned direct blame on Jews for the collapse of the financial markets and several Wall Street investment icons. Said Ahmadinejad, “The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.”

Commenting on what he perceives as pandering by American presidential nominees to Jewish interests, the Iranian president continued spewing forth his invective by intoning “It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support. This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against
their will.”

Among the personalities speaking at the rally were Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Guardian Angels founder, Curtis Sliwa, Edward Cox, Representative of Governor Sarah Palin, Beth Gilinsky, Jewish Action Alliance & Women United, Father Keith Roderick, Christian Solidarity International, Amir Abbas Ffakhravar, Council for a Democratic Iran, State Senator Ruben Diaz, New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, Father Rob Schenck, National Council of Clergy and Faith in Action, Rabbi Zev Friedman, Rambam Mesivta High School, Michael Hines, International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Joseph Hakim, International Christian Union, Aryeh Eldad, Member of Israeli Knesset, New York City Councilman David Weprin, New York State Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Gregory Wright, Log Cabin Republicans of New York, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, New York Board of Rabbis, Simon Deng, former Sudanse slave, Sudan Freedom Walk, Dr. Richard Land, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Fira Stukelman, Holocaust survivor, Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO), Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition, Desiree Bernstein, 911 Families, Banafshe Zand-Bonazzi, Alliance of Iranian Women, Christine Brim, Center for Security Policy who read a prepared speech by Dr. Phyllis Chesler, author and women’s right activist, Anne Bayefsky, Eye on the UN, Dr. William Donohue, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and Frank Gaffney, Center for Security Policy.

Many of the speakers excoriated Grand Hyatt Hotel owner, Penny Pritzker for allowing her hotel to be used as a venue to honor the Iranian president. Ms. Pritzker, a Chicago billionaire who now serves as the National Finance Chair for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was asked by the speakers to turn over all revenue generated by this event to the United States armed forces. Other speakers took direct aim at human rights abuses in Iran and strongly lambasted President Ahmadinejad for executing dracanion forms of torture on all those who do not march lock step with the Iranian regime. Michael Hines of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem wore a symbolic armband with a bright yellow Jewish star as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and the land of Israel. “Despite the dangerous rants of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel will not be wiped off the map. Not under our watch,” he declared forcefully.

Fira Stukelman, a Holocaust survivor from Babi Yar, spoke of Ahmadinejad’s popularity with certain organizations. “What we are witnessing is rise of a genocidal maniac, in the same genre as Adolf Hitler and the world remains silent” she said while holding a sign that said, ‘Never Again’. Rabbi Avi Weiss led the crowd in prayers and the recitation of Psalms and applauded those who had the courage and temerity to speak out against evil as personified by Ahmadinejad. Other speakers addressed the ubiquitous phenomenon and dangerous proliferation of Sharia law throughout Europe and how the stringency of such laws could possibly permeate North American society. Edward Cox, the representative for Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee said that the “Iranian uranium enrichment program poses a great danger to the free world and must be stopped at all costs.” Others referred to Ahmadinejad as a terror monger who will stop at nothing to destroy those he bitterly opposes.

In her prepared remarks, read by Christine Brim, author and women’s rights activist, Phyllis Chesler who specializes in documenting horrific honor murders of women in the Muslim world, spoke of the barbaric murder of a Iranian woman named Soraya M. who was falsely accused of adultery. Soraya was stoned to death, with her body being subsequently immolated. Says Dr. Chesler, “The villagers—who had know Soraya since her birth—cursed her, spit on her, hit her, and whipped her as she walked to her stoning. A “shudder of pleasure and joy ran through the crowd” as their stones drew blood. According to one account, Soraya died a slow and agonizing death.”

Gregory Wright of the Log Cabin Republicans spoke of the horrific executions of homosexuals in Iran and chided other left-wing Gay and Lesbian organizations for not speaking out against the persecution of gays in Iran. “The reason Ahmadinejad said that there are no gays or lesbians in Iran last year at Columbia University, is because they’ve all been murdered or are in hiding.”

Signs that read, “Iran Needs Regime Change”, “No Jihad in My Backyard”, “No Nukes for Kooks”, and “Ahmadinejad = Hitler” were held by rally participants as well as signs from such Christian groups such as Christians United for Israel” and human rights organizations.

Crowd at Protest Rally

Curtis Silwa

Protesters at Rally

Rabbi Weiss

Christian at Protest

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

Congressman John Culberson Opposes the Wall Street Bailout

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Good for you, Congressman. It’s level headed thinking like this that makes me vote for you, even though we don’t see eye-to-eye on some other issues.

Congressman John Culberson released the following statement today voicing his strong opposition to the Paulson-Pelosi $700 billion Wall Street bailout:

“The $700 billion Paulson-Pelosi bailout forces Americans to choose between bankrupting our children or big Wall Street banks. The revised plan was just released a few hours ago, and while it contains some oversight, eliminates golden parachutes for bad actors, and creates an investment banking insurance program for the future, the bottom line requires me to oppose it.”

“This bailout will saddle our children and grandchildren with at least $700 billion in new debt on top of the existing $9.8 trillion national debt. It will double the budget deficit overnight, and it will lead to additional bailouts as the multi-trillion dollar credit default pyramid scheme collapses.”

“I fought to help Congressman Richard Baker enact essential reforms of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which would have prevented this crisis today. I was one of only seven congressmen to vote against loosening FHA loan requirements and I have opposed efforts from liberals like Congressman Barney Frank to push Fannie and Freddie to encourage banks to make loans for politically correct reasons rather than sound financial reasons.”

“I will not vote to bankrupt future generations to protect Wall Street investment banks from their own mistakes. The best solution to this crisis is to suspend mark-to-market accounting rules, establish a mandatory insurance/guarantee program to cover the banks’ losses at no expense to taxpayers, cut the capital gains rate to zero, cut taxes for offshore dollars repatriated back into the U. S., and cut corporate tax rates dramatically to encourage investment and lending. Changing the mark to market accounting rule alone will allow banks to keep non-performing assets on their books until they recover their value, and solve a huge part of the problem.”

“My principal, long term goal in Congress is to balance the budget and protect the treasury from bankruptcy – which is why I have opposed so many spending requests as a member of the Appropriations Committee and voted ‘no’ so often against big spending programs like the Farm Bills, the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, fighting AIDS in Africa, and so many others pushed by this Administration.”