Monthly Archives: March 2009

Maryland House Passes Mayor Calvo’s SWAT Bill by 126 to 9 Vote

Despite the objections of the National Tactical Officers Association, the bill championed by Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo passed the Maryland House by a wide margin:

Delegates adopted a bill, on a 126 to 9 vote, that would require law enforcement agencies to report every six months on their use of SWAT teams, including what kinds of warrants the teams serve and whether any animals are killed during raids. The bill was prompted by the case of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose two black Labrador retrievers were shot and killed during a botched raid by a Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in July.

Calvo has said he was surprised to learn that police departments use the heavily armed units far more routinely than they once did but that it is difficult to get reliable statistics about SWAT raids. The Senate has passed a similar measure.

Here’s hoping that the differences in the House and Senate bills are ironed out, that the Governor has the good sense to sign this bill into law, and that the remaining 49 states will soon pass similar legislation.

H/T: Reason Hit & Run

Russia Considering Return to Gold Standard

Here’s some irony for you. Perhaps Obama, Reid and Pelosi might consider following Russia’s lead:

Arkady Dvorkevich, the Kremlin’s chief economic adviser, said Russia would favour the inclusion of gold bullion in the basket-weighting of a new world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.[…]

[…]Mr Dvorkevich said it was “logical” that the new currency should include the rouble and the yuan, adding that “we could also think about more effective use of gold in this system”.

The Gold Standard was the anchor of world finance in the 19th Century but began breaking down during the First World War as governments engaged in unprecedented spending. It collapsed in the 1930s when the British Empire, the US, and France all abandoned their parities.

It was revived as part of fixed dollar system until US inflation caused by the Vietnam War and “Great Society” social spending forced President Richard Nixon to close the gold window in 1971.

The world’s fiat paper currencies have lacked any external anchor ever since. It is widely argued that the financial excesses and extreme debt leverage of the last quarter century would have been impossible – or less likely – under the discipline of gold.

Of course, this would make bailouts and excessive federal spending less palatable politically, so it ain’t gonna happen here until it’s forced on our governmental leadership.

Don’t Read This if You Aren’t Libertarian

Here’s the wording (no direct link available yet, but here’s the latest cut-and-paste source) from one of the April 15th Tea Party notifications. To further insult people with an I.Q. over 80, they threw a new Gingrich video on the page.  They ask:

Are you fed up with a Congress and a president who:

* vote for a $500 billion tax bill without even reading it?
* are spending trillions of borrowed dollars, leaving a debt our great-grandchildren will be paying?
* consistently give special interest groups billions of dollars in earmarks to help get themselves re-elected?
* want to take your wealth and redistribute it to others?
* punish those who practice responsible financial behavior and reward those who do not?
* admit to using the financial hurt of millions as an opportunity to push their political agenda?
* run up trillions of dollars of debt and then sell that debt to countries such as China?
* want government controlled health care?
* want to take away the right to vote with a secret ballot in union elections?
* refuse to stop the flow of millions of illegal immigrants into our country?
* appoint a defender of child pornography to the Number 2 position in the Justice Department?
* want to force doctors and other medical workers to perform abortions against their will?
* want to impose a carbon tax on your electricity, gas and home heating fuels?
* want to reduce your tax deductibility for charitable gifts?
* take money from your family budget to pay for their federal budget?

If so, participate in the TEA party rally, the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party.

Disregarding a few more minor issues towards the end of the list, this sorta sounds remotely similar to business as GOP normal for the last eight years, doesn’t it?  I’ll be participating in multiple Tea Parties on April 15.  Preferring Goldwater to opportunists, I’ll not be quoting Newt that day.  I’d rather be part of the solution than be part of the problem.

White House Blackmails General Motors’ CEO To Resign

In what can only be described as yet another one of those “crossing the Rubicon” moments that we’ve seen so many of since this economic crisis began, the CEO of General Motors has resigned in response to political pressure from the President of the United States:

The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.

On Monday, President Barack Obama is to unveil his plans for the auto industry, including a response to a request for additional funds by GM and Chrysler. The plan is based on recommendations from the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, headed by the Treasury Department.

The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government’s behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.

General Motors issued a vague statement Sunday night that did not officially confirm Wagoner’s departure.

“We are anticipating an announcement soon from the Administration regarding the restructuring of the U.S. auto industry. We continue to work closely with members of the Task Force and it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the content of any announcement,” the company said.

The surprise announcement about the classically iconic American corporation is perhaps the most vivid sign yet of the tectonic change in the relationship between business and government in this era of subsidies and bailouts.

The strong implication, of course, is that Wagoner’s departure was at least part of the price that General Motors must pay for additional taxpayer largesse.

Of course, as with much else of what the Obama Administration is doing, the precedent for this move was set by his Republican predecessor:

Obama’s move against Wagoner hearkens back to September 2008 when President Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, insisted that AIG CEO Robert Willumstad step down as part of an $85 billion bailout of the insurance giant. Paulson installed in his place Edward Liddy, a former Allstate executive.

Much of this, of course, can be chalked up to the idea that if you talk the government’s money, you pay the price for that by agreeing to listen to it’s dictates. And, as I’ve said elsewhere many times, many American businessmen are far from being the champions of free market capitalism that their opponents on the left would like to think they are.  To use the Atlas Shrugged example, they are more James Taggart than Dagny Taggart; and that fact is no better demonstrated than by the spectacle that Wagoner and his fellow auto executives made of themselves in December when they went to Congress begging to be bailed out.

Moreover, it’s absolutely true that Wagoner, and most of the other people in charge of General Motors have done a pretty good job at only one thing; ruining the company. By all rights, they should have been ousted long ago, and if the company were forced into the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy that it deserves, they’d be out as soon as the ink of the Judge’s First Day Orders was dry.

Nonetheless, there’s something shockingly wrong about this. The President of the United States has fired the Chief Executive Officer of an American corporation whose shares are held by millions of people. If the American people don’t realize that there is something horribly wrong about the precedent that this sets, then we are truly screwed.

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