Archive for 04/17/2010

Why is FEMA trying to cover up NLE 10?

Posted: 04/17/2010 by Lynn Dartez in un

(Public Intelligence)

Public Intelligence has received a request from FEMA to remove a “For Official Use Only” document regarding the National Level Exercise 2010 (NLE 10), which was scheduled for this coming May.  The exercise was to be based on National Planning Scenario 1 which simulates a nuclear detonation in a U.S. city.  However, recent political pressure has led to the exercise being “scaled back” according to the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and a variety of other publications.  At the behest of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the exercise’s Nevada events have reportedly been canceled and the FEMA website now shows no mention of NLE 10.

On top of this, the Obama administration has recently been emphasizing the threat of a domestic nuclear attack. President Obama’s remarks at the Nuclear Security Summit on April 13, 2010 emphasize that the threat of terrorists using nuclear weapons inside of major metropolitan cities is one of the “greatest threats” that the world faces:

Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history — the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.

Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations. Just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it. Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world — causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability.

In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security — to our collective security.

NLE 10 concerned itself with exactly this scenario: the detonation of a nuclear device inside of a U.S. city.  Las Vegas was to be the epicenter of this hypothetical attack and, if the exercise utilized the same circumstances as National Planning Scenario 1, it would have involved “hundreds of thousands” of casualties, more than 300,000 refugees and ultimately more than 1 million displaced persons.

The unpopularity of such a scenario, regardless of its security benefits, is obvious.  What is strange is the attempt that is now being made by FEMA to eliminate references to the exercises and remove from circulation a document that has played an important role in drawing attention to the exercise.  As the state of NLE 10 is unclear at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the request is truly motivated by security or whether there is a more dubious intention.

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Ron Paul and the Libertarian Moment

Posted: 04/17/2010 by Lynn Dartez in 2011


“Freedom in our time” – is it possible?

by Justin Raimondo
by Justin Raimondo

Recently by Justin Raimondo: Rachel Maddow, McCarthyite

//

The news that a Rasmussen poll has Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) running in a dead heat against President Barack Obama in a hypothetical Paul-Obama face-off for the White House has the pundits fuming. Ben Smith, over at Politico, can hardly contain his annoyance: the poll “is a useful reminder of how totally flaky early polling is,” he rants, and “this is the Ron Paul who polled, literally, thousands of votes placing fifth in the Iowa caucuses,” and then only breaking ten percent after everyone but McCain had bailed. This evaluation depends on a static model, however: back then, there was no bank bailout, no insurance industry takeover, no tea party movement, and Ron had no real public record to run on – the 2008 campaign, in short, was a way for the country to get to know Rep. Paul, and the Rasmussen poll is a clear indication they liked what they saw. Instead of invoking Paul’s showing in the Iowa caucus, it’s more useful to compare this poll to the results of another similar Rasmussen poll taken in 2008, in which, as the pollster reported, “For Ron Paul, 10% of all voters would definitely vote for him. Fifty-nine percent (59%) say it’s No, no matter what.”

Voter sentiment is now completely reversed: today, he’s in a dead heat with a sitting President. No matter how hard you try to minimize that, it’s an astonishing fact.

What Smith has to say about the perils of early polling would normally be accepted as beyond dispute: after all remember when Fred Thompson was the man to beat for the GOP nomination? However, we are not living in normal times, which I define as any period when Americans abandon their traditional attitude toward politics: i.e. indifference bordering on contempt. These days, the indifference has given way to not only awareness but also to active engagement, and the contempt for politicians has turned into a burning hatred, i.e. the very stuff and fuel of politics.

What makes it possible for Paul to ride this untamed mare is that he isn’t a politician at all: he is, in fact, the archetypal anti-politician, a professorial figure who lectures Republicans on the gravity of their fiscal and foreign policy sins, and is about as charismatic as plain oatmeal served without milk and sugar. What’s more, he tells the public what politicians have been loath to tell their constituents, and that is the necessity of deflation and the bearing of economic pain. In Paul’s view, the economic bubble generated by the Federal Reserve‘s inflationary policies has led to the current downturn, and nothing less than gritting our teeth, cutting spending radically, and allowing the market to correct itself from government-induced distortions, is the cure.

His message, in short, is eat your spinach – not something any politician who hopes to keep his job (or get one) would normally say. But then again, as I said above, these are not normal times: far from it. The crisis of the American republic is acute, as we teeter on the brink of bankruptcy and our overseas empire shows every sign of imploding, just like the old Soviet Union – and, what’s more, the American people know it.

As our corporatist masters feast on our tax dollars in Washington, out in the provinces voters faced with economic ruin are looking for some explanation, a conceptual framework that gets at the root of the problem and provides some solution. Paul’s rising popularity is due to the fact that he does indeed have a consistent philosophical approach, one that has propelled him from being a mere marginal figure – a “gadfly,” as they said – to a very real contender. Yes, that’s right, I said a contender for the White House: it’s real, it’s possible, and here’s why.

Paul has consistently emphasized two themes that successfully capture the sentiments of the average American voter, and address the top two issues on their minds: 1) Fiscal sanity, and 2) A non-interventionist foreign policy. As regards the first point, Ron is the foremost opponent of government spending in Congress, and has earned the sobriquet “Dr. No” many times over. But of course practically all Republicans at least pay lip service to this ideal, although none that I know of lives up to it like Dr. Paul. However, it’s the second point – opposition to imperialism, and especially opposition to our crazed post-9/11 foreign policy of perpetual war – that is the key.

As Paul explained at the CPAC conference – where he won the presidential preference poll – and on many other occasions, we can’t have our old republic back unless and until we rid ourselves of the empire we’ve acquired along the way to bankruptcy. Lecturing them on the evils of Woodrow Wilson‘s “progressivism,” and the virtues of the Old Right’s Robert A. Taft, he received a standing ovation (as well as a few boos from the minuscule-but-loud David Frum Fan Club). A similar reception occurred at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, where he came within a single vote of winning the presidential poll (losing only because the SRLC officials closed registration early, betting correctly that Paul’s youthful supporters wouldn’t show up until it was time to address the convention).

What’s interesting about this, from the perspective of my readers – a majority of whom are not libertarians, I dare say, and are not generally sympathetic to my “anti-government” views – is that the more Ron talks about the one subject that is supposed to rile Republicans – his foreign policy views – the more popular he gets. It was the leitmotif of his CPAC speech, and a main theme of his SRLC speech: his opposition to what he calls “the Empire” inveigles its way into most of his public utterances: even if he’s asked a specific question about, say, the economy, he emphasizes the impossibility of ever getting out of the economic slough we’re in unless we throw off the burden of empire.

Paul’s candidacy is interesting to the antiwar movement, because he has managed to mainstream ideas that were long considered too radical for the ordinary American to even bear hearing about. To even raise the idea that the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” – in CIA parlance, an unintended consequence of US policies – was once considered a cardinal, self-marginalizing sin. Yet Paul took this view from the beginning: that the attacks were the boomeranging after-effects of playing “king of the hill” in the Middle Eastern sandbox and succoring the Afghan “freedom fighters” (as Ronald Reagan called them) who later morphed into al-Qaeda.

Read the rest of the article

April 17, 2010

Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

Copyright © 2010 Antiwar.com

Friday, 16 Apr 2010 03:53 PM

Fraud charges filed by federal regulators against Goldman Sachs on Friday immediately added momentum to the push on Capitol Hill for U.S. financial regulation reform.

A sweeping reform bill was expected to come to a vote soon in the Senate. The Democratic bill, backed by President Barack Obama, would slap new restraints on large firms like Goldman.

The Goldman case centers on a collateralized debt obligation, a debt instrument that was based on securitized subprime home mortgages. The securitized debt market is directly targeted by Democratic reform proposals.

“This is another example of how risky Wall Street behavior puts our nation’s financial system in peril and further illustrates the need for the strong reform that my legislation provides,” said Senator Blanche Lincoln in a statement.

Lincoln, who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, unveiled a bill on Friday cracking down on the unpoliced over-the-counter derivatives market. Her bill will likely be folded into a broader Senate bill.

“The timing of this works out well to get some legislation done … it gives (lawmakers) another arrow in the quiver,” said Jason Tyler, a senior vice president at asset management group Ariel Capital Management.

The House approved its financial reform bill in December. It would have to be merged with whatever the Senate produces before a final bill could go to Obama to be signed into law. Analysts say that could happen by midyear.

As news of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s lawsuit against Goldman broke, senators vowed support for the SEC and determination to bring lawbreakers to justice after the worst financial crisis in generations.

“These are complicated cases that take time to develop.

However long it takes, whatever resources the SEC needs, Congress needs to continue to back the SEC and the Justice Department,” said Democratic Senator Ted Kaufman.

Goldman was charged with fraud by the SEC over the structuring and marketing of the CDO. The SEC alleged that hedge fund Paulson & Co worked with Goldman in creating the instrument and stood to benefit as its value fell, costing investors more than $1 billion.

Fabrice Tourre, a Goldman vice president who the SEC said was principally responsible for creating the product, was also charged with fraud. Paulson has not been charged.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, marks a dramatic expansion of efforts to hold people and companies accountable for the 2007-2009 crisis that tipped the economy into a deep recession and unleashed a drive for reforms.

“While its action was slow in coming, I applaud the SEC for finally beginning to deal with the illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms which, in my view, knowingly sold junk products and as a result helped cause the worst recession since the 1930s,” said independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

Democrats pushed their reform bill through the Senate Banking Committee last month and are now trying to round up enough Republican support to win approval in the full Senate.

“Whatever reform financial services investors were bracing for, this could be the impetus to speed it up and perhaps give it more teeth and what does that do to the profitability of Goldman and others going forward?” commented David Dietze, president of Point View Financial Services.

© 2010 Reuters. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.

Soros Warns of Market Crash

Posted: 04/17/2010 by Lynn Dartez in un
Thursday, 15 Apr 2010 10:58 AM

Railway porter-turned-billionaire financier George Soros delivered a stark warning that the financial world is on the wrong track and that it may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis.

The man who ‘broke’ the Bank of England (and who is still able to earn a cool $3.3 billion in a year) said the same strategy of borrowing and spending that had got us out of the Asian crisis could shunt the financial world towards another crisis unless tough lessons are learned.

Soros, who worked as a porter to pay for his studies at the London School of Economics after emigrating from Hungary, warned the financial world to heed the lesson that modern economics had got it wrong and that markets are not inherently stable.

“The success in bailing out the system on the previous occasion led to a superbubble, except that in 2008 we used the same methods,” he told a meeting hosted by The Economist at the City of London’s modern and impressive Haberdashers’ Hall.

“Unless we learn the lessons, that markets are inherently unstable and that stability needs to the objective of public policy, we are facing a yet larger bubble.

“We have added to the leverage by replacing private credit with sovereign credit and increasing national debt by a significant amount.”

One crumb of comfort could be the 10-year period between the 1998 Asian crisis and the 2008 credit crisis. If the pattern is repeated, it should at least mean we have another eight years to go before the next crash.

© 2010 Reuters. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.