consultants are sandburs

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A lesson on rights vs. privileges. Entitlement vs. permission. From a useful site with info on national and state law.

The site is the Cornell University Law School's "LLI - Legal Information Institute" page on constitutions, statutes and codes, (which has a top link to the site homepage).

The lesson of the day, however is at the end of the page.

Check the link at page bottom to, "Fundamental Rights Provisions from Constitutions of All Fifty States." In its own way it is informative.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Where is mainstream media on the tuition protests? Where on the brutality used in repressing a new generation - giving them a civics lesson?

A civics lesson like Kent State, Jackson State? Will it come to that? Do the present "kids" have the gumption to provoke that level of response which was imposed in earlier times to curb student thought and action?

The draft's gone because of those sacrifices, we must remember that.

I do not have a range of coverage, but this site documents things the "real news" outlets are not covering. Start with this link, and look at the earlier ones in the sequence. Here, here, here, here, here, here, here asking wide ranging questions, here.

This is a screenshot, without the links being active, but showing it's a must read for thinking readers - who luckily have had higher education in less stressing times.

It is the same cheat, as denying public funded healthcare. Go to that site, follow those links. It is part of ongoing education.

Minnesota and Wisconsin college students - how happy are you with the tuition levels being required of you? How do you suppose poor people, absent a scholarship, are supposed to get a college education? Is it that they are not, that it's an elitist thing for future GOP insiders? And don't worry about the need for an educated work force, big corporations can buy that cheaper in China, India, offshore almost anywhere. Wonders of the world-wide-web. Soon only the cops and janitors will not be outsourcable. Hence Robotic patrol cars and floor waxing may become reality.

And damn it all, educated people think. We have to consider that part of things. Gotta favor them as go rogue instead.

Bradblog has an interesting parallel post; this link.

Does the phrase "unallotment" come to mind when reading of California troubles?

The Amy Goodman Nov. 18, 2009 interview with George Lakoff, as referenced at the end of the BradBlog item, is online; this link. The second Amy Goodman - Democracy Now - item mentioned at the end of the BradBlog item, from Nov. 20, is online; this link.

Happy reading. Be thankful the mess has explanations and can be fixed once we understand it and move forcefully to rectify things and not let politicians or special interests enforce their favorable status quo. It will take an educated and energized electorate, free from falling for following misdirected activities in blind-alley directions. Remember in whose interest misdirecting you is - it is not in your interest, understand that. We need more Woodie Guthries, fewer Glen Becks.

Trouble-making coddled and naive youth, these bellyaching students? Simple irresponsibility?

You judge, further evidence being: this link, this link, this link, this link expanding on the previous one. Irresponsibility is likely, but not on the part of the students or faculty. The politicians, the regents, the bean counters seem - "inept" is a generous word - but that's only my thinking. Read stuff. Explore those websites beyond the linked items, you might find even more convincing evidence one way or the other. Make up your own minds.

And this IS California, not us you say. Try parking some time in the public space in the ramp at the Anoka County Hall and Courts, in Anoka. See where the public goes. See how the public rates, relative to the "public servants." Not us, you say? Uh huh.

Strib, Monday Nov. 30, online, about student mental health, stress, suicide and with that as background the tuition explosion is what, other than stressful? This link.

Fletcher for Governor? Get serious. But what about Gaertner for Governor? She facilitated the NRC mischief. Despite prosecutorial discretion.

Fletcher links, here and here. There are more, these are most recent.

Do not forget that Susan Gaertner as Ramsey County Prosecuting Attorney had the discretion to hand him back all his RNC arrests and say, "I am not going to prosecute this garbage." She did not. She facilitated Fletcher's excesses.

Gaertner at least owes us some explanation, or her ambitions for being chief executive should be dead on arrival. She has to undo the taint.

Unallotment - a claim of executive usurpation of legislative powers, with similarities to how Obama should follow a Bush imperial presidency.

I have criticized Obama for being too weak a leader on healthcare, allowing the mish-mosh situation now existing, via a failure of leadership; and I have said LBJ never did that in getting Medicare for the elderly but, unfortunately, not for all.

Yet, the other side of the coin is Obama deserves recognition for dismantling the imperial approach to handling the presidency, where his direct predecessor overstepped as much as LBJ and after him Nixon, in their primes.

For example, in the healthcare debate, Obama has been highly and quietly deferential to how the two houses of Congress have been conducting themselves and the debate, paying out rope both to the Blue Dogs and the Republicans and their lobbyist-led obstructionism against a sound and healthy and strong public option as part of the ultimate reform legislation.

He did not step in to loudly decry the Stupak mischief. Instead and despite advance warning it would be pressed, he let it happen. He deferred to it happening, not even strongly using the "bully pulpit" that Theodore Roosevelt long ago recognized attached to holding the White House.

Some might say Obama is being overly deferential, I think that, but at the same time I do have to recognize that he is countering the ways and means that Bush-Cheney used from the White House, their ever vexing tendency to throw their weight around in the course of starting two awfully failed wars, and to otherwise serve special intersts over the public interest, (oil industry interests coming to mind as the clearest example prior to the Paulson-Bernanke engineered Wall Street raiding of the public fisc during Bush-Cheney waning lame duck months).

Leaving that, and shifting to the unallotment context, MN Progressive has a recent post citing an impassioned rather than dispassionate presentation of the usurpation of powers challenge raised against Pawlenty. The underlying item was written by Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, "a member of the Minnesota House and a Bemidji High School graduate," and published online by the Bemidji Pioneer, with two paragraphs containing key aspects of the argument:

But instead of continuing constructive budget deliberations with the Legislature, Tim Pawlenty intentionally ignored his responsibility to seek a solution. He just walked away. Lawmakers passed a balanced budget, but the governor signed all the spending bills into law and vetoed the revenue needed to pay for it. He deliberately threw the budget out of balance in order to set the state’s two-year budget single-handedly, without input from the Legislature or the people of Minnesota.

Tim Pawlenty’s unfaithful use of the unallotment statute was nothing more than a politically-motivated power grab. He saw a political opportunity to personally manipulate the state budget on his own terms, and he took it.

We have all heard the term "balance of power" used for federal and State Constitutional principles of having three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, and distributing the functions of government among each in a way the writers of each Constitution felt proper in order to have an effective set of procedures to govern, but with "checks and balances."

Such general terminology does not say things in a way that whether Pawlenty overreached and usurped legislative rights and powers is an easy decision; which is why the judiciary must wrestle with argument and counterargument. Basically, my bottom line would be that the unallotment statute is a safeguard for unusual situations, an exception to the norm and never intended to be an exception that swallows the rule, (the rule being that there are Constitutional steps that a governor and legislature have to follow, clearly set out in the document). They are the rule - the written set of procedures the State government is to follow in working out balancing of revenue and spending.

The complaint is Pawlenty deliberately ignored the norms and tried to enhance executive powers, on his way out, and for reasons we can only speculate about [future ambitions inconsistent with allowing the legislated balanced budget situation to prevail is my guess, a weakness of character in a leadership position, a trumping of following the rules within the clear text of the Constitution by blind, burning ambition to be nationally recognized and saluted as an aggressive "anti-tax" maven].

Winkler writes about the sense that the unallotment statute was intended to be a seldom-used emergency step and not a regularly utilized political tool to enhance the range of powers allowed a Minnesota governor, stating the concept this way:

Minnesota’s unallotment statute has only been used six times in the state’s history — three of those times by Tim Pawlenty. Until now, unallotment has been used within the confines of the law. It has been used as the statute explicitly requires: when probable state revenue receipts are “less than anticipated.” In other words, according to the law a governor can only utilize the unallotment statute when the state faces a sudden and unanticipated budget deficit.

Last session’s record budget gap was anything but unanticipated. From January until May Gov. Pawlenty and both bodies of the Minnesota Legislature were negotiating budget solutions to fill a $6.4 billion budget shortfall — a deficit explicitly predicted by the 2009 February budget forecast. For months the deficit was there when the governor went to bed at night, and it was there when he woke up in the morning.

From that presentation of his view of background to the latest Pawlenty use of the unallotment statute, (characterized clearly in a way implying Pawlenty was a tricky politician doing what he knows best, trickery), Winkler moved to the earlier quoted two key paragraphs of his argument.

It seems to boil down to Pawlenty saying the statute was the legislature giving the governor the unallotment powers, and he, as governor, properly used them.

The counter argument is that he misused the powers, and that they were never intended, nor could they be Constitutionally intended to subvert procedures clearly mandated within the Constitution itself - that the Constitution cannot be amended indirectly and backhandedly by statute and by a handful of instances of prior allowed practices; but only by the express manner of direct amendment the document itself specifies.

The judiciary will provide an answer, and the time frame is as uncertain as what the answer will be - but my guess is the answer will be Pawlenty exceeded his authority when statute and Constitution are reasonably read together in a consistent way; and that the legislature and new Governor need to correct the mess left on the way out by Governor Pawlenty - and many, myself included, consider it an unnecessary mess that happened only because the man was ambitious and positioning himself for a calculated run at the presidency as a "tax-opponent governor," and that he put personal ambitions of that kind ahead of all else, i.e., being an unsound governor by being an anti-tax showman.

On time frame, I expect it will derail the man's very ambitions that deterred him from signing both the spending and revenue bills together for a balanced budget, and instead motivated him to play games impacting real people, such as the six plaintiffs in the litigation. By that, I mean the judicial challenge will continue unresolved well into next year, and not be resolved earlier where the short attention span of the public and MSM "news" outlets otherwise might create distance in time, and a consequent disinterest around election day.

NOTE: An earlier Crabgrass post relating to the unallotment dispute is this link. It is more informational for readers to gain an informed opinion, while this post gets more into the opinions held and expressed by a DFL legislative member, and by me, as largely in agreement with Rep. Winkler's view.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two separate suggestions that some should curb intemperate rhetoric. Perhaps Crabgrass has overstepped the line once or twice, but not this badly.

Locally, Riley ranting at Licking Calcutta. ("Riley's rants" being her term, to which I defer, while I actually do not view her referenced post as being ranting at all. Indeed, more rational than rant.)

Nationally, the effort aimed to "stop domestic terror," or at least to curb inflamatory speech that might motivate unstable people to actually do improper, criminal things.

I've noted Gary Gross as a GOP commentator worth reading from time to time, and he and I in emails have talked about how positions can be argued without getting inflamatory. I tend to be a bit more judgmentally derisive of idiocy than Gary is of positions he dislikes or disputes. There is that difference in style. One person who blogged in the past, Kyle Baker, had a sub-heading on his bannerline, "To root out idiocy in all its forms." Needless to say, he'd not succeeded at the point he dropped blogging.

That, folks, is a tall order. I only aim to point it out and now and then mock it.

But I have no illusions it will be close to rooted out in my lifetime. If ever. All evidence, so far, is it is vigorous, alive and well, and the daily modus operandi of many.

Curbing any violent tendencies arising from idiocy is needed; but rooting out idiocy, good luck on that.

One thing I do remember from my time in Seattle, the Aryan Nation, headed by a Richard Butler, at the other end of the state on the Idaho border was broken up by a civil judgment obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center against its property by survivors of persons murdered and claiming in court that the Aryan hate-rhetoric caused identifiable unstable individuals to act instead of only imagining - and the jury awarded substantial damages in believing the charge proven.

But socking the wallet as a lesson after the violent act, rather than forestalling it, is clearly "second best" over the better run of events.

Moreover, an enclave of Aryan voices, the Klan, these are more easily connected to events than others - James Dobson's personal stake in setting off the Tiller killer, these ties are too distant, and there are too many as hateful of women's rights as Dobson - and Fox, how far does the First Amendment protect before money judgments for inciting riot can be attained - when, at least for now, there's only teabagging nonsense rather than riot?

To the extent The Stop Domestic Terror Campaign would suggest curbing prior speech, apart from allowing recovery of damages where causal connections can be made convincing to a jury, is a question loaded with worry, lest everyone's rights to think and speak freely is further compromised by demands for political correctness.

Read that Stop Domestic Terror Campaign presentation carefully for well-intentioned people should not join onto something that in the extreme can lessen liberties.

Be thankful you have the liberties the Constitution contains, and hope to see a time when a general moral imperative among people of the nation is such that it would include a recognition and articulation of a right to be free of hunger and to be fed, a right to shelter and decent clothing, and a right to basic medical care for every human, out of a true and not misdirected or partly-hateful and restrictive and ill-thought-out "respect for life." These things are moral rights and should be enacted into law as enforceable things every citizen, every resident, of the nation is accorded. And to give a finite world's resources the capability to make that goal achievable there must be a curb on overproducing people on the face of the earth, because there either will be a birth control of sustainable population levels, or a death control, imposed by nature, as the numbers on earth continue trending higher to unsustainable numbers while some for contorted reasons stand in the way of curbing and controlling the threat of overpopulation. Those are perhaps the most dangerous people of our time - those and ones profligately reproducing around the planet. Not that a birth control regime is imposed by armies or force of that kind, but by force of reason. By good sense. Instead of idiocies of creed.

revised Thanksgiving morning - 7:30 AM

“When your captain’s crazy, it’s time to find a new ship,” the lawmaker said.

By JONATHAN ALLEN - 11/4/09 2:34 PM EST

The aide who helped turn Rep. Michele Bachmann into a controversial mainstay of cable news has informed colleagues that she’s quitting —

Multiple sources have confirmed that Michelle Marston, a veteran Hill aide, is leaving Bachmann’s office.

In an e-mail exchange with POLITICO, Marston declined to say why she’s going.

“I’m just not talking about it, and frankly I don’t think there’s a story here,” Marston wrote [...] referring to the prolific Bachmann’s latest political brainstorm, a “house call” on the Capitol Thursday [the day after the Politicl story went online] to which she’s invited Fox News viewers and other conservatives to march with her through House office buildings, “find members of Congress, look at the whites of their eyes and say, ‘Don’t take away my health care.’”

The image of travel-ready conservatives flooding the hallways of the Capitol complex to confront members of Congress may not be one that Republican leaders are too keen to project.

A conservative Republican House member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that Bachmann’s views — and her willingness to state them — make it hard for her to keep staff.

When your captain’s crazy, it’s time to find a new ship,” the lawmaker said.

Marston replaced Bachmann’s former chief of staff, Rich Dunn, last February. She beefed up Bachmann’s outreach operations with the aim of getting her out in the public eye more often.

“She looks like the type of person who you would invite in to have a cup of coffee at your table,” Marston said at the time.

Politico, this link. This Bachmann woman has gone through staff quicker than Custer went through Indians (until he met Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, of course, hence we in the Sixth District who know her best await a Bachmann Bighorn Event).

Did Katherine Harris go through staff? Has the Pope always been Catholic:

Staff resignations
In late February 2006, in the midst of revelations surrounding Mitchell Wade's illegal contributions, Harris' campaign finance director and campaign treasurer both resigned.

On April 1, 2006 Harris' top campaign advisor, pollster and campaign manager all resigned with a half-dozen other staffers. Republican pollster and consultant David Johnson said, "I've never seen staffers go like this. It's just imploding."


And I don't think Harris made that conservatives calendar - Bachmann also took over the Katherine Harris mantle there too, I suppose.

The pending Minnesota Constitutional litigation over the Pawlenty "unallotment" actions - a link, with limited view points expressed on my part.

Gary Gross, who authors the GOP-leaning blog, and I have exchanged email about the unallotment litigation, and the Minnesota House entering that dispute as an Amicus party [a "friend of the court"].

Gary put up a post yesterday; this link; and I added info in three related but separate comments there. Since there is no need to reinvent the wheel, have a look at that link and then pursue the resource materials as you see fit.

The House Amicus brief is online, this link, (courtesy of Eric Black, at MinnPost, see also this prelude item), so readers can see its arguments in comparison to Gary's briefer presentation arguing the other [Pawlenty] side.

The litigation raising a constitutional challenge to Pawlenty's unallotment actions was filed Nov. 3, 2009; with the Amicus Brief submitted Nov. 20, 2009.

Dig as deeply into it as you choose. At this point it is not a fully developed story, but probably will gain attention as it is decided by the chief judge, and then further pursued on appeal.

Searching the law library's online cases, via a full text search off of this page, for the unallotment statute, Minn. Stat. 16A.152, subd. 4, via searching all online cases at that site for "16A.152" reveals the Rukavina case Gary cited is the only item the search returns. That means it is the only prior case under the statute (or that the search was defective, and perhaps another case might have contained the "16A.152" term). I would trust it as the only precedent under the statute.

Gary's post makes one mistake (or it was made for him by another individual); the Rukavina case was not a top court opinion, nor an en banc Court of Appeals decision. Roughly speaking, a trial court should try to comport its opinion in the present situation with a rational reading of the earlier case; and a panel of the court of appeals may follow the earlier opinion or choose to differ. Only a Minnesota Supreme Court opinion would require deference from the intermediate reviewing court. Usually an intermediate court will want to explain and enlarge or limit earlier decisions from the same level, but, so far, only three intermediate appellate judges have written, without dissenting opinion, so the "precedent" is weaker than Gary's characterizing it as Supreme Court authority.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
There is always the possibility that an argument against the unallotment statute might exist, depending on its passage, if circumstances arguably violated the Single Subject and Title Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, Article IV, Section 17, when passed. (The argument has been successfully litigated; see, e.g., this online Supreme Court case).

Leaving that aside, I see an interesting question on the constitutionality of the process Pawlenty exploited, i.e., reading the statute as allowing him to veto the revenue portion of a balanced budget, and then to not in good faith seek to balance it by using the line item veto (where a veto could have been presented for overriding); which is the Constitutional way of doing things; Article IV, Section 23 (the entire Constitution is online as one item, or by chapters, see, this link).

Pawlenty apparently wilfully avoided the line-item veto process (presumably, with that existing as the only Constitutional provision on negating appropriations, it was intended to be exclusive of any and all other ways to evade its clear procedural specifications); so that Pawlenty arguably acted unconstitutionally, and willfully so; or it can be phrased that Pawlenty's reading the statute to include how he operated is an overbroad reading and in error, so that the statute in the main is constitutional, but the manner of Pawlenty's chosen way of exploitning it was not.

Having not read the Amicus brief, I do not know whether any such arguments were raised yet in the trial court, but since courts review the constitutionality of a stutute de novo as a matter of law, raising new arguments of law in the appellate courts not raised below, might, in unusual cases, not be forestalled.

But it sure appears that Pawlenty was playing games; by not taking line item veto steps where there would be another legislative bite at the apple, and not calling the legislature back into session, etc.

Perhaps calling a special session would have impeded his vast ambitious and self-centered present travel agenda, and seeing that impediment had he done that, he got cute with a vague statutory situation - the entire unallotment game he pulled.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
As a practical matter, delegation of "legislative" authority occurs where a budget is passed for, say MnDOT, and then it sets its spending priorities, and spends all alloted funds, or not. But that is executive agency behavior, not the chief executive affirmatively stepping to the plate saying, "I am rewriting the budget and not using line-item veto procedures to do it." It goes to the practical matter, after a legislature passes spending allotments, what authority does it have to force a governor to spend all of each allotment? If a governor runs a surplus by not spending it all, that's, however, quite different than a before the fact dithering with the spending priorities the legislature, within its powers, established by duly passing legislation which was not vetoed in whole or in part - unallocation being the tricky dance step used instead.

_________FINAL UPDATE___________
I have given links to two helpful MinnPost items above; yet there is a third that explains the dispute quite well; so giving all three now makes the most sense.

Here, here and here. And remember you can follow the case somewhat, by referring from time to time to the online docket. Also, expect local press coverage to continue, and if anything, to increase.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Energizing Dogpatch.

An extended excerpt. From The Nation. This link. [italics added]

November 16, 2009 --- Warming up for a [Going Rogue book] tour that will take her across Middle America in a bus, Palin tested her lines in a November 7 speech before a crowd of 5,000 anti-abortion activists in Wisconsin. She promptly cited an urban legend as a "disturbing trend," claiming the Treasury Department had moved the phrase "In God We Trust" from presidential dollar coins. (The rumor most likely originated with a 2006 story on the far-right website WorldNetDaily.)

Palin did not hesitate to take up this "controversy," however false, since it conveniently pits a tyrannical, God-destroying, secular big government against humble God-fearing folk.

Palin's influence is now unparalleled. Through her Twitter account, she was the one who pushed the rumor of "death panels" into the national healthcare debate, prompting the White House to issue a series of defensive responses. Unfazed by its absurdity, she repeated the charge in her recent speech in Wisconsin. In a special Congressional election in New York's 23rd Congressional district, Palin's endorsement of Doug Hoffman, an unknown far-right third-party candidate, helped force a popular moderate Republican politician, Dede Scozzafava, from the race. In the end, Palin's ideological purge in upstate New York led to an improbable Democratic victory, the first in that GOP-heavy district in more than 100 years.

Though the ideological purge may have backfired, Palin's participation in it magnified her influence in the party.

"She's gangbusters!" a leading conservative radio host exclaimed to me. "There is nobody in the Republican Party who can raise money like her or top her name recognition."

During the 2008 presidential race, some Republican Party elders warned of Palin's destructive influence. They insisted she was a polarizing figure whose extremism would accelerate the Party's slide toward the political and cultural margins. New York Times columnist David Brooks, a card-carrying neocon who had written glowingly of Senator McCain, claimed Palin represented "a fatal cancer to the Republican Party." Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Reagan and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, blasted Palin as "a dope and unqualified from the start."

According to an October 19 Gallup poll, the former governor of Alaska has become one of the most polarizing and unpopular politicians in the country. Since she quit the governorship to pursue her lucrative book deal, a move that upset many in Alaska's Republican leadership and cost the state's taxpayers almost $200,000, her unfavorability rating has spiked to 50 percent while her favorability has sunk to 40 percent, again according to Gallup's figures. (The only nationally known politician who is less popular right now, according to the poll, is John Edwards, the former two-term senator who fathered a child out of wedlock and paid his mistress hush money while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination on a social justice platform.)

Queen Esther

If Palin is indeed a cancer on the GOP, why can't the Republican establishment retire her to a quiet life of moose hunting in the political wilderness? Why has her appeal only increased in the wake of her catastrophic political expeditions? Why won't she listen to, or abide by, conventional political wisdom?

The answer lies beyond the realm of polls and punditry in the political psychology of the movement that animates and, to a great degree, controls, the Republican grassroots--a uniquely evangelical subculture defined by the personal crises of its believers and their perceived persecution at the hands of cosmopolitan elites.

By emphasizing her own crises and her victimization by the "liberal media," Palin has established an invisible, indissoluble bond with adherents of that subculture--so visceral it transcends any rational political analysis. As a result, her career has become a vehicle through which the right-wing evangelical movement feels it can express its deepest identity in opposition both to secular society and to its representatives in the Obama White House. Palin is perceived by its leaders--and followers--not as another cynical politician or even as a self-promoting celebrity but as a kind of magical helper, the God-fearing glamor girl who parachuted into their backwater towns to lift them from the drudgery of everyday life, assuring them that they represented the "Real America."

If McCain had taken his preferred choice for a running mate in 2008, he would have chosen Joseph Lieberman, the turncoat Democrat and his best friend in the Senate. But with the base of the Republican Party subsumed by a Christian right that detested the senator, his advisers urged him to choose the untested, virtually unknown Alaskan governor to bring the faithful back to him. Their gamble paid off--at least in the short-term. Tom Minnery of the Christian right outfit Focus on the Family recalled, "People were on their seats applauding cheering, yelling.... that room was electrified."

Before her nomination, the provincial Palin had traveled outside the country only once and demonstrated little, if any, intellectual curiosity. During the campaign, she was flummoxed when CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric simply asked what magazines she read. Yet the fact that she had such a limited understanding of the world actually recommended her to the Republican base.

The gun-toting, snowmobile-cruising former beauty queen became an instant cultural icon. Little understood by those outside this culture was her religious worldview, cultivated during the twenty years she spent worshipping at the Wasilla Assembly of God, a right-wing Pentecostal church in her hometown north of Anchorage. When I visited the church in October 2008, a pastor from Kenya, Bishop Thomas Muthee, was at the podium comparing Palin to Queen Esther, the biblical queen who used her wiles to intercede for her people.

Three years earlier, in 2005, Muthee had anointed Palin during a public ceremony at the Wasilla Assembly of God, laying his hand on her forehead while praying to protect her "against all forms of witchcraft." The bishop claimed that he had personally battled a witch in his hometown of Kiambu, Kenya, driving the evildoer from the town and thereby ending an epidemic of crime and licentiousness. The episode was later revealed as a farce by a reporter from Women's eNews who traveled to Kiambu and found the supposed witch, a local healer named Mama Jane, still living happily in her compound. In palling around with Muthee, whom she credited with helping propel her into the governor's mansion by anointing her, Palin revealed herself as an authentic religious zealot.

Once Palin was nominated, her 16-year-old daughter, Bristol (named for Bristol Bay, Alaska), became the subject of ferocious media scrutiny. She had, it turned out, been impregnated by Levi Johnston, a local 18-year-old jock who identified himself on his MySpace page as "a f**kin' redneck." To media outsiders, Bristol's out-of-wedlock pregnancy was particularly startling, given Palin's advocacy of abstinence-only education. In the eyes of many liberals, Palin had been revealed as but another family-values hypocrite, but to members of the Christian right, she was something quite different--a glamorized version of themselves.

The Culture of Personal Crisis

Palin's daughter's drama caught vividly a culture of personal crisis that defines so many evangelical communities across the country. That culture is described in a landmark congressionally funded study of adolescent behavior, Add Health, revealing that white evangelical women like Bristol Palin lose their virginity, on average, at age 16--earlier, that is, than any group except black Protestants.

Another recent study by sociologists Peter Bearman and Hannah Bruckner notes that over half of evangelical girls who have pledged to maintain their virginity until marriage wind up having sex before marriage, and with a man other than their future husband. Bearman and Bruckner also disclose that communities with the highest population of girls who attend so-called purity balls, where they vow chastity until marriage before their fathers in a prom-like religious ceremony, also have some of the country's highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases. In Lubbock, Texas, where abstinence education has been mandated since 1995, the rate of gonorrhea is now double the national average, while teen pregnancy has spiked to the highest levels in the state.

"So many families deal with the same issues Sarah Palin is dealing with, so we really can relate to what she is going through," Grace Van Diest, a middle-aged Alaskan delegate from Wasilla, told me on the floor of the 2008 Republican National Convention. Van Diest then described how each of her daughters went on "a date with their dad" to discuss their pledge to "keep themselves pure until marriage."

Palin consolidated her bond with the movement in another very personal way. She cradled her new son Trig, born with Downs Syndrome, before the klieg lights. Her husband Todd had chosen the name believing it was Norse for "strength." ("Trygg" actually means "safe" or "reliable" in Norwegian.) Palin's decision to carry the baby to term excited many evangelicals and anti-abortion activists, including James Dobson, who wrote a letter congratulating her for having what he called "that little Downs Syndrome baby." "What a way to emphasize your pro-life leanings there!" he exclaimed during a radio broadcast in which he endorsed the McCain-Palin ticket, even though he had denounced McCain as a "liberal" only weeks before.

After the market collapsed in the fall of 2008 and the McCain campaign ran off the rails, Palin untethered herself--as her book title has it, she went "rogue"--ignoring McCain's rules on attacking Obama. Instead, she lashed out at candidate Obama in her own distinctive way. "This is a man who launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist," she insisted. "This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America." With these two lines, apparently uttered without the permission of McCain or his top aides, Palin opened up a deep schism within the campaign, while unleashing a flood of emotions from the depths of the Party faithful.

By "going rogue," Palin instinctively and craftily propelled her ambitions beyond Election Day, and so anointed herself as the movement's magical helper in the Obama era.

Elevated by yesterday's man, Palin now represents her party's future--and the greatest danger it faces. Her intimate bond with the Republican grassroots has made her the indispensable woman, even if she provokes a visceral sense of revulsion from many independents and moderates. Other Republican frontrunners like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty have a debilitating problem to face in any race for the presidency: they are viewed as inauthentic candidates by the movement--cardboard men in suits who are only pantomiming appeals to cultural resentment.

Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister who understands the nuances of evangelical culture, nonetheless bears the burden of being a 2008 primary loser. At that time, the former governor of Arkansas had a clear field when it came to the religious right, but was unable to expand beyond his Southern bastions of support.

Palin is so well positioned as the darling of the movement that any criticism of her would be experienced by believers as a personal attack on them. In this way, their identification with her through the politics of personal crisis is complete. Any Republican primary challenger assailing Palin will be seen as victimizing her, as channeling the attacks of the liberal elites, and possibly as having a secret liberal agenda. On the other hand, to embrace her is to risk losing the great American center.

We like our Sarah Palin, she is like us, she is us. Wasilla is us.

Should any dispute the theme of the item, there is this, a Crabgrass comment (anonymously left), this post.

Anonymous said...
Open your eyes! The ladies are drawing huge crowds. Hard working americans have had a it with your elite liberal BS!
7:44 PM

That elite liberal is the devil theme, as the article explored. A few months ago, Carrie Prejean could not have extended that kind of never compromise with the elite liberal manipulators message any better.

"It did cost me my crown," Prejean continued. "It is a very touchy subject and [Hilton] is a homosexual, and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."

"I feel like I won," she said. "I feel like I'm the winner. I really do."

Somehow I am reminded of the opening lines of Sinatra singing It Was a Very Good Year.

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We'd hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

These conservatives. They are something.

Dogpatch farts. See comment. Thanks to Ms. Prejean for taking time to comment.

________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Our own uber-aggressive GOP harpy, Michele Bachmann, pulls the same poor little me victimization game with her Dogpatch constituency - even saying, "Palinize," a newly invented Bachmannistani word:

“Don’t let them Palinize me!’ cries the subject line of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s email to supporters today. Laying claim to the Sean Hannity–bestowed title of “second most hated Republican woman,” Bachmann makes a pitch for cash: “With Governor Palin taking a well-deserved step out of the spotlight, it appears that I may be absorbing even more of the liberals’ scorn. And, I’d really appreciate your support so that I can defend myself against their attacks.”

Hat tip to MinnIndependent, and Aubrey Immelman, respectively here and here, for the insight - two divas are playing the identical claiming game -- victimizing me is victimizing my Dogpatch constituency, and we all should be outraged, shocked, shocked, so send me cash. I credit each of the two online resources for the insight, but I first saw the item on Immelman's website.

We could debate whether the major message is victimization, Palinization, or send me money; but I say the third factor cuts more weight with Michele Bachmann, (as best as I can see things while not being privy to the murky cobwebbed area between the lady's ears, and while being indisposed to believe her if she says, "Not so").

_______FURTHER UPDATE__________
Bradblog carries an interesting blog-essay by Frank Schaeffer,"Moral Cowards vs. The American Taliban;" this link. The theme is fairly straightforward, and a percent of the people would either denounce it before finishing it, or otherwise go into denial. It does hand a bunch of people a moral question, and ducking and denouncing is NOT answering the question.

In the Sixth District Congressional contest women prove themselves to be the brighter gender. They prove it by where they put their cash.

Sometimes Blogger makes a long screenshot unreadable. It happened this time. When that happens, as with the screenshot below, it is best if you save your time and avoid eyestrain, and go here, it is from this link. (It is a site worth exploring in any event, beyond its recently posting the proof of clear and undeniable female gender superiority in the Sixth District.)

Interestingly, there are three Sixth District female candidates - and women can see who are their friends and who'd as soon as not see the majority of American women kept eternally barefoot and pregnant.

So, why are men putting individual cash into the Sixth District lagging behind the intelligence bell curve?

Probably too many of them are more attuned to the NRA's choices, than pro-choice.

My Theory: Women simply have a more developed sense of decorum and decency in public behavior, and of embarrassment, and hence are more quickly and decisively prone to not want their congressional district to remain an international joke; this link.

If anyone knows how to make a long screenshot from a webpage readable in Blogger, instead of it shrinking print beyond readability, please email me the secret.

Another overdue post - a milestone on the way to commercial real estate bubble adjustment. Opus contracts.

The Strib's story from Oct. 22 is still online, so have a look, this link.

The subprime events of the last half of the last year of the Bush presidency got more intense attention, but for some time the commercial real estate market was said to be trailing housing in terms of wrenching adjustments. Opus grew and florished, and is still alive, but scaled back and not likely to be contemplating many new ventures.

The firm's website

still gives the intriguing appearance of an ongoing viable chest-pounding Tarzan of a company, not one dead or hibernating.

Hibernation is my guess. Poised with business scaled back but as much liquidity as feasible, awaiting a change. The Japanese 1990 real estate bubble burst, however, suggests long recovery times in mature economies - ours being yet the world's largest, despite China's current eight percent growth and India's seven percent.

Charge it to global warming, cutting back on US domestic energy usage?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. By 2010 that debate might prove interesting.

On the severity of the housing situation, still while some are singing false "recovery" songs such as "Happy Days are Here Again," there is this link, from California, but covering a nationwide scope.

Mortgage Bankers Assn. says delinquencies and home repossessions have hit a new high. Blaming job losses for most of the pain, it sees a continued surge in foreclosures through all of next year.
By E. Scott Reckard - November 20, 2009

Home foreclosures are likely to keep climbing through all of next year despite stabilizing housing prices in some areas, a major lender group said Thursday as it reported that the level of delinquencies and repossessed homes had jumped to a record.

One in seven U.S. home loans was past due or in foreclosure as of Sept. 30, putting that quarterly delinquency measure at its highest level since 1972, when the Mortgage Bankers Assn. began reporting it. At the beginning of this year, 1 in 10 loans was past due or in foreclosure.

The continued surge in delinquencies suggests that a recovery in the housing market could be stalled by the worsening job picture as well as by further fallout from the easy-money lending that prevailed during the boom years.

Signals about housing have been decidedly mixed. On the bright side, median home prices appear to have stabilized -- for the time being, anyway -- in hard-hit areas of California such as the Inland Empire, and have begun to inch up again in San Diego and Orange counties and in San Francisco.

But recent negative indicators, in addition to rising foreclosures, include the home lender group's report Wednesday that applications for mortgages to buy homes have declined for six straight weeks despite interest rates below 5% on 30-year fixed-rate loans. Also Wednesday, the Commerce Department said the seasonally adjusted rate of housing starts fell more than 10% in October from the previous month.

That's the article's opening, the link to read it all is above, but the next two paragraphs are included for those who like irony as much as true candor:

Overall, 14.41% of all U.S. home loans were in foreclosure or at least 30 days past due at the end of the third quarter -- 1 in 7 -- and up from 13.16% in the second quarter.

As it has for some time, the group's report on delinquencies blamed job losses, not tricky adjustable-rate loans, for causing most of the recent pain.

The mortgage group's chief economist, Jay Brinkmann, said he expected the delinquencies to keep rising until the unemployment rate tops out in the first or second quarter of next year.

Normally, foreclosures would continue rising for two quarters past the peak in delinquencies, he said. However, given the extreme decline in home prices, Brinkmann predicted the foreclosure rate would continue to rise longer than usual past the peak in delinquencies.

Yes, I said two, then gave four paragraphs, but aside from the "not us, not our rapacious lending tricks nor our co-conspiring rapacious developers and their excessive but long-sustained overpricing" thing; aside from that amusing duplicity the remaining factual presentation appears fair, but bleak.

Those developers (and allied lenders) have been the Crabgrass on the lawn of American life, so should I add lenders to the blog title?

A CLOSING THOUGHT: Those presently not in dire straits have much to be thankful for, this Thansgiving holiday.

We all hope for a prompt recovery, but the mood is to not really expect one, and that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mood and expectations are a big part of the grand game we call a national economy, and the grander one, a world economy.

Fiat money and all, trust and belief is a big part of what's holding things up -- while, what, Wall Street's been holding us up? If it were not Goldman Sachs, it would be somebody else.

Audit the Fed. Audit FDIC. Start there, since not knowing facts puts you in a one-guess-is-no-better-than-the-next state, awaiting the deluge of politicians next year.

Be thankful the political deluge is only starting, this year. And for the ones promising, "jobs, jobs, jobs," does anyone really expect such individuals can deliver, deliver, deliver?

I don't.

Explore this Google.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fox lies about event popularity again - same way - with false footage from an earlier event.

Fox lying about the turnout at the Bachmann anti-healthcare hate-in on the Capitol steps was posted on Crabgrass; this link.

Ditto, Fox lying in exactly the same manner about turnout for another uber-rightwing diva; two links, here and here.

Won't those bozos quit that stuff and be honest for a change?

They should change the advertising slogan, "fair and balanced" to "false and biased," if they intend to keep such deceit up as an ongoing fake-the-news-we're-Fox practice.

Some interesting recent posts at MN progressive project.

Have a look. This link.

City of Ramsey government. Openness and responsiveness is refreshing and praiseworthy even if you disagree with decisions the decision makers reach.

This link, the mayor's blog [the predecessor did not even list an email address on the city's webpage]:

I asked some questions there, in part playing the Devil's advocate, and am happy with answers being added in the post comments.

The entire bonding and reserves question is more complex than the thread in comments there indicates.

In economic hard times, stimulus concerns suggest that government can act counter-cyclically. With a credit crunch and unemployment effects being reported in the press so generally that no link is needed, a municipal government that lessens its budget and spends down reserves acts prudently, and reserves can be replenished later, in better times - as they were built up in the past.

At the federal level it is not a question of reserves management, but deficit management; where, for example, deficits arising during the Reagan presidency were paid down during the Clinton presidency, and where now, because of the economy, the record deficits from the Bush years can be carried longer to not further stress the current credit-pinched situation.

Either way, Keynes advocated government counter-cycle policy to smooth business cycle impacts on world economies. Having counter-cycle policies, and auditing the central bank's meanderings to see if its policies have been sound, are both requisite behaviors of good government. I await the success of the Audit the Fed movement, and if it reaches to auditing of FDIC and how community bank cut-overs are handled, the greater degree of sunshine will lead to greater public trust and better policy.

More on FDIC and an update of sorts on the Otsego bank situation. Dueling letters.

The FDIC first. Mainly using Reuters as source.

First, generic reporting (with only passing mention of Central Bank, Stillwater, MN); here, with this being the entire short item:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida, based in Fort Myers, Florida, was closed and that Central Bank of Stillwater, Minnesota, will assume all of the deposits.

The FDIC did not give a reason for the failure, but small banks are collapsing almost every week, taken under by portfolios of deteriorating loans originated during the credit boom.

The FDIC has said bank failures will remain elevated through next year, as the recovery of the banking industry lags the healing of the overall economy.

Commerce Bank had assets of $79.7 million and total deposits of about $76.7 million, the FDIC said. The FDIC and Central Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on about $61 million of Commerce Bank's assets

The sole branch of Commerce Bank will open on Monday as a branch of Central Bank.

The failure is expected to cost the FDIC's insurance fund $23.6 million.

The fund's balance went negative as of the end of the third quarter, but the FDIC has plenty of access to funding, including a $500 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury Department.

The agency earlier this month approved a plan to have banks prepay three years of industry fees to give the FDIC cash to handle the cost of bank failures.

The FDIC has estimated the total cost of failures will be $100 billion from 2009 through 2013

The agency will hold a briefing next week to reveal bank industry earnings for the third quarter. It also will provide an update about the state of the insurance fund and how many banks are on the FDIC "troubled bank list."

The FDIC said 416 banks were on that list as of the end of the second quarter. Most banks on the list do not fail, the agency has said.

[emphasis added] Two separate things need emphasis; first, the Treasury, taxpayer money, stands behind the bankrupt fund as guarantor, with the fund insolvent as of August this year so that it's using borrowed taxpayer Treasury money from September onward to cover whatever part it eats from a failure and work-out takeover contract [that's twenty million estimated for the Riverview Community Bank, Otsego, MN, and twenty-three million for the Florida bank failure].

Second, the fund is being replenished by tithing healthy banks, with the cost, clearly, to be passed onto us, consumers, the public. So whether the FDIC fund is temporarily insolvent, or made solvent out of further stressing other banks to cover for mismanaged or unlucky failures, the public, us, we cover the hit - at least in two twenty million dollar instances happening weeks apart.

Consumer-depositors put money in banks where no or small rates of return apply, but, in turn, there is no dollar-for-dollar risk as with other investments promising potentially higher yields. In such risk-averse positioning, taking the lesser yield in return for insurance amounts to depositors indirectly "buying" the insurance at the depositor level for their deposited money, via accepting a lesser return.

In any economically realistic anaysis, it is not banks gratuitiously insuring depositor cash with FDIC, and anyone implying that is probably motivated in part by total child-like unsophisticated misunderstandings, or by deception and a willingness to mislead.

As a related interesting point of emphasis there are conflicting arguments possible on whether bank payments into the FDIC insurance pool should be risk measured vs. coverage measured; with that situation currently but quietly in the news.

Risk generally would be proportional to a bank's assets, (its outstanding performing loans, its unperforming loans, its foreclosure positions in litigation, and its foreclosed real property holdings held pending liquidation (and lease income from foreclosed property with performing lessors a factor since many commercial and industrial site deals involve long-term leases to occupying firms so that all firm costs can be expensed in the year paid, and amortization of the property over its "useful life for tax accounting purposes" stays with the title holder - so who "owns" what with 99-year leases)).

Coverage is for deposits, since FDIC covers first dollar [no deductible] up to $250,000 depositor money at risk in any of its insurance arrangements. So the payout exposure [apart from the risk of failure] is based on the amount of deposits a bank holds.

The simplest of arguments is that a bank fails when its assets fail, independent of amounts of deposits, and FDIC payout only happens when there is a failure, so that risk of failure - the asset based assessment for pool payments is favored as a fairer measure under such thought. I.e., failure is independent of pool coverage exposure, and is an operational-management risk of any banking institution.

That is not merely a hypothetical debate. Instead, it practically relates to which kinds of banks pay differning amounts into the FDIC coverage pool - a quite practical matter for each participating bank. Reuters coverage of that situation is here, and here, with the Wall Street vs. Main Street characterization arguably applying. And with the proposal being a three-year prepayment being tithed against the banking community to reestablish a solvent pool, and that to be done soon, the question of what's a fair share for bigger banks to pay should be expected to at some point be publicly debated.


That leaves only the wrap-up. Involving Mary Kiffmeyer.

In responding to a letter to the editor, here; Rep. Kiffmeyer puts herself on record publicly in a responding letter, here, and in relevant part she wrote:

I am writing in response to the DFL activist, Tom Beckfield's, letter to the editor which was filled with many inaccuracies and false insinuations.

Normally I would refrain from bothering to respond to such an obviously outrageous tale but, out of regard for the truth, respect for you the readers and respect and admiration for all our friends and neighbors that were also associated with that local bank, I will comment on a few items and stand up for what's right.

I personally did not own or operate a bank nor do I own a "holding company". My husband Ralph and I, along with over 85 other small investors from the community put money into a start-up community bank in 2003 by purchasing shares of stock, a bank that ultimately failed due primarily to these adverse economic times that we are all struggling with. Regarding an alleged $20,000,000 bail out, there was none. Also, since the bank paid premiums into the FDIC insurance fund, as all banks do, there is no loss to taxpayers of any kind.

Readers wanting a full picture should read both letters.

Earlier this year Mary Kiffmeyer in required reporting to a state board declared herself to be "owner" of the bank and writer Beckfeld in his letter was entitled to rely on her truthfulness and her being sophisticated enough to know what "owner" means.

Now, in light of the quoted Kiffmeyer letter quibbling over detail, and fleshing out a story different than the earlier self-characterization as "owner" we can let that question pass as less important than other things.

As to the Otsego bank's pre-failure status before its closure by regulators, Kiffmeyer had signed a binding document mere weeks before the Halloween failure-closure [regulatory ceasation of prior ownership with FDIC appointed as receiver, and then a different bank stepping in to share mop-up along with FDIC being widely reported as ending up eating an estimated twenty million of that hit], and she signed that early October document between the Federal Reserve Minnesota branch and her bank holding company, signing as holding company president, board member, and shareholder authorized in advance by the fiirm's board to bind the holding company by her signature alone, and it was that very holding company that owned all of the bank's stock. Moreover, FDIC documents, as Crabgrass reported, now show the holding company business address to be identical to the Kiffmeyer business address she reported early in the year to the state board, and which is also her campaign headquarters address.

Yet Kiffmeyer wrote the editor and readers, " ... out of regard for the truth, ... I personally did not own or operate a bank nor do I own a "holding company". My husband Ralph and I, along with over 85 other small investors from the community put money into a start-up community bank in 2003 by purchasing shares of stock, a bank that ultimately failed due primarily to these adverse economic times ...".

Out of regard for the truth, I in that position would not have shaded it so coarsely, nor left out so many big chunks of truth, truth for which we all should have regard.

The document Kiffmeyer signed in early October this year is online - it was stated on its face to be a regulatory Agreement between AMERICAN EAGLE FINANCIAL CORPORATION, Otsego, and FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF MINNEAPOLIS; promising insiders (including Kiffmeyer) would not remove further cash from the venture, and promising compliance with a 04/07/09 FDIC order requiring additional capital and other adjustments needed because of failures of bank management to have acted prudently but rather in a way that imperiled the soundness of the bank and the integrity of depositer money it managed, at least as far back as this spring: See, the Fed - holding company promises the Kiffmeyer interests made:

See, also, the earlier multipage characterization of mismanagement in the FDIC Cease and Desist order it stipulated to follow:

Indicia of ownership and control are objective, and in this instance evidence as set out above exists to contradict self-serving carefully couched statements within the Kiffmeyer letter.

The objective regulatory documents are something Kiffmeyer cannot credibly dispute, and her letter goes on and on, as if they never existed as evidence, or were not something readers, in fairness, would expect her to address.

Most importantly, the Kiffmeyer bank failed from mismanagement not because of the economy tanking, a fact clear in light of Bank of Elk River in the identical market locale continuing to prosper from the 1880's onward, it being in that interval a prudently managed operation whereas the Kiffmeyer bank lasted a mere six years.

Kiffmeyer's denial of such things must be weighed in light of objective factual proof contradicting her. Beyond that, the dissembling about the public somehow not being hit with mop-up costs is to me the most offensive shaded statement Kiffmeyer makes, in that the Beckfeld letter [you can read it] never mentions it as a "taxpayer" bailout, only calling it a "bailout," with Kiffmeyer in her writing denying FDIC would eat twenty million, while being, herself, the first one to introduce the hair-splitting "taxpayer" terminology as a straw man propaganda tactic - build a straw man and destroy it instead of addressing the substance of the contention - that the public actually suffers indirectly the $20 million that FDIC indicated it expected it would have to absorb, i.e., that the public pays no matter how Rep. Kiffmeyer splits hairs off the head of "taxpayers."

Two closing thoughts, Kiffmeyer terming Beckfeld, (who I witnessed assisting the 2008 IP Barkley effort), a "DFL activist" is as disingenuously argumentative as it is to begin things by interjecting, "Normally I would refrain from bothering to respond to such an obviously outrageous tale," when the clear reason she wrote was precisely to address the prior letter.

Starting with inflamatory and accusatory language about one questioning her conduct, while saying no reply was needed, yet with it clear that the entire point of Kiffmeyer's letter-to-the-editor writing was to reply --- all of that is pure politician bunk, and detracts from more cogent and well stated points of argument by descending into name calling from the start, as if that is a true form of self-defense.

There's nothing at all "obviously outrageous" in calling a public official to task over error and omission in duties that either Kiffmeyer was capable of performing but arguably was grossly negligent in attending to, or duties that were beyond Kiffmeyer's capabilities and which she, accordingly, should never have taken on as a director and hence a management person of a bank, (and president and director of a bank holding company).

BOTTOM LINE THERE: People ineptly not knowing what they are doing in banking is in its own way as dangerous as children playing with matches. People negligently handling understood banking board supervisory duties is much like parents inattentive to children playing with matches.

DISCLOSURE: I know Tom Beckfeld, and consider him somewhat of a remote friend, although we have differed over substantial political beliefs in the past, while agreeing on other things. I would never question his honesty or integrity, nor his honest commitment to things he believes in.

I do not know Mary Kiffmeyer, and can only judge her by her extensive public record - and clearly, I am far less than impressed.

If any reader wants to consider other parts of the Beckfeld and Kiffmeyer letters, (relating to things that an audit reported during the Kiffmeyer tenure as Secretary of State), please send an email or add a comment.

I have not discussed that aspect of the two letters, but will, if requested to by a reader.

I am in error. Double checking the Sherburne County Citizen website, there were three letters, not merely two, the third being dated Nov. 21, and included with others, this link, it stating:


Rep. Kiffmeyer's letter last week stated that inaccurate and false claims were made about her.

She said: "I personally did not own or operate a bank nor do I own a "holding company". The report she filed with the campaign finance board on 01/06/09 of the year she listed herself as owner of the bank.

Mary Kiffmeyer the president and director of American Eagle Corporation, signed the written Agreement by and between AMERICAN EAGLE FINANCIAL CORPORATION Otsego, Minnesota and FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota on Oct 9th 2009 of this year.

She was also listed as a member of the board of directors of the bank.

My statement of the bank being owned and operated by her is based on these facts.

The bank was only one of five in the state to have this action taken against it so to blame it entirely on the "economic times" make one wonder why so few banks went through this.

The "bogus travel" statement: According to the Legislative auditor's report: For 17 events we reviewed, the public purpose of the trip was not adequately identified. These events included travel between the airport and home, various receptions, celebrations, and charity events."

Having taxpayers reimburse her for participating in celebrations and charity events was what I considered "bogus travel expenses". She stated there was "none".

The $190,000 in overpayment to staff: "These higher compensation rates resulted in over $190,000 in overpayments during the audit period" (2005-2006)

She stated that "compensations were corrected and repaid..." The overpayments were not repaid and the corrections were made after she left office.

A local bank was in trouble for a long time and there was little or no reporting on it. The depositors were protected because of a government program that provided a safety net and that program worked. Sometimes safety nets are a good thing.

Tom Beckfield,

Big Lake, MN.

NOTE: I was aware Beckfeld [aka Beckfield per the news publishing] was preparing to submit a reply to the Kiffmeyer response.

I was unaware until double checking that there was a reply letter that had actually been published.

From reading it, it is clear that it overlaps my thoughts at the end of the main post but goes beyond them to discuss mismanagement questions during Mary Kiffmeyer's Secretary of State tenure, including objective audit results which arguably presage current parallel mismanagement questions regarding the banking fiasco.

So, three letters, so far, not merely two; and it remains to be seen if Kiffmeyer has more to add.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Personal Impressions - of Northstar by one who's given it personal attention.

For now, I defer entirely to these two blog posts, here and here.

If any readers use the service, or the bus service out of the Ramsey Town Center stop by the parking ramp, and have strong thoughts on usefulness and appeal, please add a comment to this post.

Despite bombast, there is cogent argument, "It is NOT a center-right country."

With charts and links, on KOS, here, a source I do not often link, but this one is worth reading and excerpting would only detract. Again, this link.

A point of effective propaganda is to repeat a false or debatable message to the point it is accepted as if it were undeniable truth, and the method is effective when opposing voices are repressed or weakly advanced.

Nazi uber-Mensch and unter-Mensch propaganda, without any public opposition viewpoint expressed, is the paradigm of the method's effective deployment.

Hence it is important that the kind of KOS presentation is seen and deliberated.

The Emperor's New Clothes is the children's fairy tale version of the concept.

We are a center-right nation, and, wow, is the Emperor ever well dressed. Have at it.

Bob Ramsey left a comment, and rather than comment I am doing an update. I suppose I sometimes have repeated things, unnecessarily, but another criterion for propaganda success and effectiveness is an extensive gullible audience - I believe my readers are neither.

Bob and I have also discussed a problem with labeling and too easy labels, where sometimes people put labels in place and think it aids understanding or has provided universally accepted views of what a label entails.

Sometimes an unbiased succinct label does help, other times it obscures the range of policy and equity balances between opposing needs or views.

My current example - as of last night with 60 Minutes having a segment on end of life decision making and disproportionate costs of some elderly end of life short-run life sustaining effort yielding only short-term artificial extension of an infirmed situation, often at staggering costs. With Medicare, the public pays often where dispassionate cost-benefit analysis suggests the public treasury is being unduly burdened to beggar other probably more promising spending alternatives in terms of utility to the entire public. In emergencies triage happens for a reason. It is optimization where multiple interests and needs must be balanced.

In the context of that 60 Minutes segment, current "death panels" terminology generates far, far more heat than light.

I expect there was an intent to do exactly that when the wording was trotted out.

We execute criminals humanely by quick lethal injection while some elderly are counseled about ceasing to eat as a decision open to them if they see the practical end of life facing them.

How options are used in one situation and denied in the other seems strange to me, in terms of what is a "humane" way to handle options.

On a less gloomy tone - Good luck to everyone with the holidays close upon us, and let us all hope for prosperity in the new year. Yet, even hoping for a true and extended economic recovery near term, we must anticipate down side risk and costs and alternative still-negative scenarios.

Not to be bombastic, ...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Central Bank of Stillwater swallows yet another bone picking load. This time with a second $20+ million subsidy within a month, from FDIC. What's up?

Click the image to enlarge and read. A time zone away in deepest Dixie, (Fort Meyers, Florida), while geographically quite unlike the three bank takeovers Central Bank has engineered in Minnesota, the voracious firm strikes again. If you recall, it was the Halloween weekend, or the weekend before, that Central Bank took weekend cutover control of the Mary Kiffmeyer-related Riverview Community Bank, Otsego, MN.

In each instance there was FDIC "by agreement" eating $20 million of each failure, (as was widely reported in Minnesota for the Otsego bank takeover).

How does FDIC allow the bailout pool, supported by healthy and prudently run (though presently quite stressed) community banking to suffer such depradation, twenty million at a pop, to favor a single firm in repeated takeover lust?

Is it a secret procedure, secret handshakes and all, or is there sunshine on the process with it all shown to be on the up-and-up via multiple easily findable links and pages on the FDIC's website? Perhaps only people at FDIC know that answer. And they are not overly open communicating it to the blogging press. "Pursue FOIA" is the basic answer I so far have seen, even for the simplest of questions such as who was the authorized signing counterparty for the April 2009 stipulation to entry of a Cease and Desist order against the Otsego "Christian" bank - a stone wall, (not called that but "pursue FOIA" means little else), and "pursue FOIA" as a response from the FDIC's designated answer man, David Barr, begs the question entirely.

A person wanting to give a helpful answer would give one.

Aside from questions that naturally arise around a question of stone walling, STRIB this Friday carried the AP wire feed on the Florida bank, stating in part:

Central Bank, based in Stillwater, Minn., agreed to assume the deposits and assets of Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida. The failed bank's sole branch will reopren Monday as a branch of Central Bank. [...]

The failure of Commerce Bank is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund about $23.6 million.

It was the 12th failure of a Florida bank this year. Failures also have been concentrated in California, Georgia and Illinois.

As the economy has soured, with unemployment rising, home prices tumbling and loan defaults soaring, bank failures have accelerated and sapped billions out of the federal deposit insurance fund. It has fallen into the red.

[emphasis added]. Subsequently, Chris Serres wrote his own version of the story, quite shortened (presumably as previously where mention of Mary Kiffmeyer was surprisingly dropped because of online page length concerns), removing mention of the amount of the subsidy accorded Central Bank this go-round, and removing mention of the dire straits FDIC actions with so-far failed banks has caused their managed depositor bailout pool, Serres writing only:

Central Bank of Stillwater, continuing to hunt for bargains among failed banks, agreed late Friday to buy a small Florida bank seized by regulators after too many of its commercial real estate loans went bad.

It was Central's fourth acquisition of a failed bank since August, and the first one outside Minnesota. Taken together, the failed banks had $700 million in assets, which means Central, which had $430 million in assets as of June, has more than doubled in size in just three months.

Central agreed to buy Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, which had $79.7 million in assets and deposits of $76.7 million, after the bank was seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. late Friday.

As part of the deal, Central Bank agreed to share losses on about $61 million of Commerce Bank's assets.

Central Bank did not pay a premium for the deposits, which suggests the FDIC had trouble finding many bidders. In many failed-bank deals, the acquiring institution pays a percentage, often 1 to 2 percent, of the failed bank's deposits.

Central also has acquired Mainstreet Bank of Forest Lake, Riverview Community Bank of Otsego and Jennings State Bank of Spring Grove, Minn. The largest of these was Mainstreet, which had $459 million in assets when it collapsed Aug. 28.

Like many failed banks, Commerce Bank had a heavy concentration of commercial real estate loans.

"Couple that with the weak real estate market in the general area where it operated, and the loan-related losses depleted earnings, causing it to fail," said Greg Hernandez, a spokesman for the FDIC.

[Again, emphasis added.]

STRIB published its own Oct. 24 report on the Riverdale Bank takeover by Central Bank, stating in part:

Early in its life, Riverview had a reputation for mixing faith and finance. Chuck Ripka, one of the bank's founders, once told the Star Tribune that God spoke to him and said, "Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I'll take care of the bottom line." Ripka and his staff would pray with customers in the bank's Otsego branch and even at the drive-up window. In a 2004 New York Times story, Ripka said he occasionally slipped up and said, "Come on over to the church -- I mean the bank."

Riverview was among a slew of small community banks that got their start earlier this decade and expanded aggressively. Another of these upstart firms, Brickwell Community Bank of Woodbury, was shut down in September.

The FDIC and Central Bank have entered into an agreement in which the federal agency and the bank will share in the losses on about $75 million of Riverview's assets. The FDIC said it estimates the cost to its insurance fund will be $20 million.

[Again, emphasis added.] And don't just take my word on the story scrubbing, here's the screenshot of the earlier version, p.1,

Compare the scrubbed, Serres version:

So, you tell me. What is FDIC doing? (Indeed, what is Strib doing?) Why is the depositer bailout pool eating such big subsidy bites out of the to-be-tithed-but-yet-healthy banks? The other sound banks in the nation will have to put in cash in order to replenish the depositer bailout pool? Why is Strib now removing such news from its online reporting?

Bottom line: Why the sensitivity on different fronts about twenty million at a pop subsidies favoring the one Stillwater Minnesota bank, Central Bank, out of a bankrupt FDIC bailout pool?

What is news and what is not? The BIG editorial question we each can ask.

Presuming a rationale exists for how FDIC goes about arranging bailouts and how it favors one bone picker over another, why will FDIC not simply publish facts of that rationale on their webpage?

Or have they, and I am too ignorant to find them?

You tell me, which is it.

David Barr will not tell me, so somebody, please help.

There has been traction for the Audit the Fed idea. At least it has gotten out of committee despite committee leadership ambivalence.

It perhaps is time for an Audit of the FDIC also.

The particular question I would want an audit to examine, is how FDIC operated in 2007-2008, in the tail end of the Bush term after the 2006 Democratic landslide, as to whether there was laxness or unwillingness to call the community banking situation for being as bad as it was then, so that the Bush people could exit and hand it off to successors and to then have the Bush party do finger-pointing as if the successor administration was responsible.

And of course at the time when Wall Street was being bailed out, what about the little banks, the small businesses, being ignored as second class citizens.

Deliberate delay would be dishonest, but not out of character for the Bush-Cheney-Paulson types in their eight years in the saddle. They did much to question.

Now, is the FDIC current wave of shutting down banks something that, done earlier, might have been far less costly to the economy? Might it have been averted if the powers in DC had paid as much attention to the little guys left holding real property default situations, as was paid to the big players holding securitized real property situations after THEY had been the ones fanning the flames and doing the securitization.

Or am I wrong?

Bottom line: Somebody should investigate that, and given the FDIC as a federal institution, it seems it should start with an audit, in parallel to an audit of the Fed. Until there is that kind of fact-finding, we all can speculate on responsibilities and possibilities of collusion - and only facts can affirm or dispel such worry.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
1. On the FDIC's rule making effort to have healthy banks prepay three years of assessments to make the depositor-bailout fund solvent; here.

2. Because of Strib pulling the AP feed for the watered-down locally written version, let us say shortened, only the first page screenshot was attained as shown above. For the full AP feed, see here, including sobering numbers in a sobering context:

Since some of the banks already were under scrutiny before they received money, the enforcement records also raise questions about how officials decided which banks should get taxpayer money that wasn't supposed to be at risk.

The FDIC expects the cost of bank failures to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.

Depositors' money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. The FDIC still has about $21 billion cash in loss reserves apart from the insurance fund. It can also tap a Treasury Department credit line of up to $500 billion.

Banks have been especially hurt by failed real estate loans. Banks that had lent to seemingly solid businesses are suffering losses as buildings sit vacant. As development projects collapse, builders are defaulting on their loans.

If the economic recovery falters, defaults on the high-risk loans could spike. Many regional banks hold large concentrations of these loans. Nearly $500 billion in commercial real estate loans are expected to come due annually over the next few years.

The 124 bank failures are the most in a year since 1992 at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis. They have cost the federal deposit insurance fund more than $28 billion so far this year. They compare with 25 last year and three in 2007.

The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem list" jumped to 416 at the end of June from 305 in the first quarter. That's the most since June 1994. About 13 percent of banks on the list generally end up failing, according to the FDIC.

[emphasis added] Small bank failure is big news, and will get bigger, and federal handling should be audited, sooner being a better time to begin than later.

Big news, due to get bigger, and Strib pulls it and you can go back and see what their don't-worry-be-happy editorial view substituted. I guess it's a matter of perspective. But the truth is, the longer the truth is shunted aside the greater will be the blaming of the present elected officials in Washington for what is a failure of the past, not of the present.

Blame might be misplaced if truth now is suppressed.

I suppose it's as the Gipper and Thatcher in a years ago duet in a separate but similar hose the little guy context said, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

3. As to possibilities of favoritism, the key question of the post, The Street, at p.2 of this post notes:

Many bank holding companies are taking advantage of the crisis to grow their deposit bases by taking over failed institutions, often aided by generous loss-sharing agreements with the FDIC.

Large holding companies acquiring failed institutions during 2008 and 2009 have included J.P. Morgan Chase(JPM Quote), which acquired Washington Mutual, the largest-ever bank or thrift to fail in the U.S.; U.S. Bancorp(USB Quote); SunTrust Banks(STI Quote); Regions Financial(RF Quote); Fifth Third Bancorp(FITB Quote); Zions Bancorp(ZION Quote); PNC Financial(PNC Quote); and BB&T(BBT Quote).

[bolding and links in original omitted]

4. See also; here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and, again, here.