Wotka World Wide

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Robert Samuelson writes on the folly of the attempts to block the planned Keystone XL pipeline that will move oil produced from Canadian oil sands developments to refineries in Texas. The most salient argument is the fact that if we don't build the pipeline, the Canadians will, to the West Coast, and then sell the oil to the Chinese. This would understandably create more greenhouse gas pollution (while of course driving up oil prices and production costs and necessitating we buy our oil from overseas thugs), but this sort of logic never gets in the way of environmentalists and their ideals, as Daryl Hannah's arrest in front of the White House the other day for protesting the pipeline amply demonstrates.
The Justice Department is messing with Gibson Guitars, raiding their facilities and seizing materials and guitars with no notice of violation. Their CEO is wondering what is up, as are more and more Americans. The nature of the violation may stem from the rosewood used in some guitars, legally imported from India, but a concern for conservationists. The funny thing is, the Gibson CEO is a big donor to Republican causes and their facilities are non-union shops. Meanwhile, their top competitor Martin, makes guitars using rosewood as well, but nothing has befallen them. And their CEO is a major Democratic donor. Draw your own conclusions here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Freedom of Information Act requests combined with new reporting requirements in the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill have finally forced the Federal Reserve to reveal the extent of emergency discount window loans of funds to troubled banks. And it turns out they loaned out nearly twice the amount of the TARP bailouts, $1.2 trillion, during the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. There were huge payments to the usual US banking behemoths, but also to many of the large banks in Europe that likely would have gone under without these funds. Even the major brokerages got huge loans, which apparently kept Morgan Stanley afloat in the weeks after Lehman Brothers collapse. Left unanswered is why Lehman wasn't extended the same courtesy... I wonder why certain firms were loaned tens of billions, while others were allowed to collapse. Maybe the Fed did the right thing here, but then why the hell were they picking winners and losers to such a large degree? Saving Morgan and Goldman while letting Baer Stearns and Lehman go, saving RBS, UBS and SocGen while permitting the major banks (and economies) of Iceland and Ireland to collapse, bailing out Citi and BofA above and beyond the TARP funds while Washingon Mutual and others were allowed to go under. Will we ever get answers to these questions? Or is it just simply who was politically connected? Hopefully at some point we will get an insider's account of who made these decisions and how they were made.
Medicare Regulation Causes Shortage of Cancer Drugs? Who would have thought? And this stems from Bush's Medicare drug reform. Who knows how Obama's health care reforms will impact availability of drugs, not to mention surgeries and other procedures.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Remember that whole brouhaha about a female KBR/Halliburton worker claiming she was drugged, gang-raped and locked in a shipping container while working in Iraq? The same case that Al Franken championed his first month in the Senate? Well, a jury decided that she made the whole thing up. Don't expect to see too many stories highlighting that fact though. The New York Times had one buried paragraph giving the barest of details, when they had her claims running front page for weeks. Can anyone say Duke lacrosse team redux?