"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
-- Clarence Darrow
Emma, Dixie & Kaleigh.
On November 25, two days after a failed German government bond auction in which Germany was unable to sell 35% of its offerings of 10-year bonds, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble said that Germany might retreat from its demands that the private banks that hold the troubled sovereign debt from Greece, Italy, and Spain must accept part of the cost of their bailout by writing off some of the debt. The private banks want to avoid any losses either by forcing the Greek, Italian, and Spanish governments to make good on the bonds by imposing extreme austerity on their citizens, or by having the European Central Bank print euros with which to buy the sovereign debt from the private banks. Printing money to make good on debt is contrary to the ECB's charter and especially frightens Germans, because of the Weimar experience with hyperinflation.Obviously, the German government got the message from the orchestrated failed bond auction. As I wrote at the time, there is no reason for Germany, with its relatively low debt to GDP ratio compared to the troubled countries, not to be able to sell its bonds. If Germany's creditworthiness is in doubt, how can Germany be expected to bail out other countries? Evidence that Germany's failed bond auction was orchestrated is provided by troubled Italy's successful bond auction two days later.Strange, isn't it. Italy, the largest EU country that requires a bailout of its debt, can still sell its bonds, but Germany, which requires no bailout and which is expected to bear a disproportionate cost of Italy's, Greece's and Spain's bailout, could not sell its bonds.In my opinion, the failed German bond auction was orchestrated by the US Treasury, by the European Central Bank and EU authorities, and by the private banks that own the troubled sovereign debt.
Change is difficult, especially for children, but I was almost used to it. When I was a child, my daddy, Raymond Oakley, would travel to wherever he was hired to cure tobacco on large farms, as some men did trying to take care of their families. We were tenant tobacco farmers. Each year until about the time I entered high school, we moved to a different farm about Christmastime.
In Granville County, as a family of five, we farmed and faced lean years when there was no car and no money for frivolity. A two-horse wagon and our legs provided our transportation. Before tractors and electricity were widely used, before farmers gave up nighttime work for the comforts of home and the flicker of television sets, we found our entertainment in various simple ways.
It was 1949, and I was in the fifth grade at Creedmoor High School. Tobacco was cured in an old log barn where the sticky green leaves were strung up on sticks and dried by burning hardwood night and day. Daddy sometimes would allow me, along with my sister Margaret (“Monk”) and brother Archie (“Buck”), to spend the night at the curing barns where he’d wake up to check on the temperature and stoke the fire in the wood-burning flues. We listened as summer’s cicadas sang under a pale moon on into the night. We thought it was exciting to sleep on the table used to string tobacco, wrapped in one of the patchwork quilts made by my mama, Prudie Brogden Oakley.
One day early in the year, Daddy was cutting down trees that he would later split with a maul and wedge, then burn in the barn flues. He spotted a crow’s nest in a tall pine tree that he had chopped down. The nest had in it a young crow whose head feathers were not yet glossy, but more fluffy. It was just a baby. Young crows usually remain with their parents until they can find a home of their own, and this one had no family that we could see. But he had found a home.
Daddy kept his wings clipped, and our whole family loved Blackie. He would eat grain, earthworms, insects, seeds, fruit and bird eggs. Daddy fed Blackie small chunks of liver once in a while.
Soon Blackie was my constant companion, playing and working on the farm. He rode the handle bars of my shiny, maroon bicycle as Monk and I pedaled just short of a mile to the neighborhood store where we’d meet the school bus. Blackie would return home alone. In the afternoon, he’d be at the store, and we’d ride home together. I sometimes wondered how he could tell the time. With Blackie perched on the polished chrome bars of my bike, my head thrown back and the wind racing through my long hair, we sped along, skimming happily down the road. Once, Mr. Yeargin, the store owner, said to Daddy, “There’s a crow that keeps flying around my store. I got my gun to shoot at him.” Well, Daddy didn’t like that, and in a no-nonsense manner replied, “You’d better not shoot that crow! He’s my children’s pet.”
When work time came, Blackie joined our family in the fields. I thought that worming tobacco was disgusting, but Blackie would wander up and down the rows of plants plucking off the hornworms that ate large holes in the tobacco leaves. I tried but couldn’t bring myself to take off the nasty worms and crush their heads like my family did. So I used an old pair of scissors to snip off the head while the worm was still on the leaf. At harvest time, I drove a harnessed mule to the barn, hitched to slides that carried primed, green leaves of tobacco for stringing on the sticks. Blackie rode on my shoulder or bummed a ride on the back of the slide.
Around about this time, Mama started missing items from her kitchen. She especially missed her good scissors. It turned out that when Blackie saw the opportunity, he’d hop into the house, select an object and fly to a hollow in a huge oak tree at our back door. When my parents realized what was happening, Daddy climbed a ladder and retrieved Blackie’s stock of hoarded goods, including silverware and Mama’s scissors. It seemed that gleaming items caught his sharp eye.
The stable that housed the work mules was down the path from our house. Sitting in the loft of the stable with the end door open, Blackie would look out with piercing eyes watching for Mama’s hens to lay fresh eggs in their nests. He would then perch on the small ladder the hens used to walk up to their nests. Daddy would say, “He can pop his bill in an egg and suck it out before you know it!”
That summer he sometimes became frightened by the loud noise of discharging dynamite set off by men building a huge pond on the farm. He didn’t have a companion crow to watch out for him as crows often have. A watch crow will fly out and keep a keen eye focused to warn others of danger.
As the long days of summer came to a close, the tobacco crop was sold at the warehouse in town, and the corn was pulled and stored in the corncrib to feed the animals. Winter was on the way. We noticed that Blackie would stay away from the house for extended periods of time. Daddy had ceased clipping his wings. He said one day, “The other crows sit in the trees close to the stable and call out to him.” And we also heard Blackie’s common call, a harsh “caw,” in answer. Daddy eventually said, “We won’t hold him any longer. We’ll let him go free.”
Sad as we were, our hearts knew it was the right thing to do. “Blackie wouldn’t have gone if he hadn’t wanted to,” Daddy told us. “Let him do as he pleases.”
I began to understand that no matter how much you love something or someone, for whatever the reason there comes a releasing time. And it does hurt.
And at the end of that year, we moved too, on to another farm.
Finally in 1955, we landed on a farm that Daddy loved. It had cleared fertile land, a big roomy house for our family, ponds to water the crops, wide open spaces, excellent barns and outside buildings, and a small tenant home where Daddy could house folks to help us work. And most important, it was very close to our church. We were thankful for a fair-minded landlord who respected and trusted Daddy’s wisdom and ability to raise tobacco. We could draw water from a hand pump instead of from a bucket on a chain. And for the first time, my parents owned the equipment to work the farm and could purchase the livestock.
Those long-gone days of my childhood are treasured memories of the post World War II years. They were simple times with simple pleasures, when little was much and seemed to be enough.
Even though I’ve had numerous pets throughout my life, there is a special part of my memory reserved for a fantastic, down-to-earth, ordinary black crow, simply called “Blackie.”
Peggy Norwood lives in Creedmoor, Granville County.
Starting next year, jaguars will be the target of an extensive network of remote cameras placed across Southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico.
In a three-year, $771,000 project that has been greeted warmly by environmentalists but warily by cattle growers, University of Arizona researchers will try to learn more about the status and presence of the endangered animal.
Fifteen years after the jaguar was listed as endangered in the U.S., this project will try to determine how often it roams from Mexico to the United States and back, said Melanie Culver, the project's principal investigator and a geneticist for the U.S. Geological Survey and the UA's School of Natural Resources.
Referring to the adult male jaguar photographed in Cochise County Saturday, Culver added that the project will try to learn, "Is this the only one?"
The Fed’s latest actions in cooperating with foreign central banks to undertake liquidity swaps of dollars for foreign currencies is another reason why Congress needs enhanced power to oversee and audit the Fed. Under current law Congress cannot examine these types of agreements. Those who would argue that auditing the Fed or these agreements with central banks harms the Fed’s independence should reevaluate the Fed’s supposed independence when the Fed bails out Europe so soon after President Obama promised US assistance in resolving the Euro crisis.
Rather than calming markets, these arrangements should indicate just how frightened governments around the world are about the European financial crisis. Central banks are grasping at straws, hoping that flooding the world with money created out of thin air will somehow resolve a crisis caused by uncontrolled government spending and irresponsible debt issuance. Congress should not permit this type of open-ended commitment on the part of the Fed, a commitment which could easily run into the trillions of dollars. These dollar swaps are purely inflationary and will harm American consumers as much as any form of quantitative easing.
Embattled Attorney General Eric Holder today demanded The Daily Caller stop publishing articles about the growing calls in Congress for his resignation because of the failed Operation Fast and Furious gun-walking program.
As Holder’s aide was escorting the attorney general offstage following his remarks Tuesday afternoon at the White House, a Daily Caller reporter introduced himself and shook Holder’s hand. The reporter asked him for a response to the growing chorus of federal legislators demanding his resignation.
Holder stepped towards the exit, then turned around, stepped back toward the reporter, and sternly said, “You guys need to — you need to stop this. It’s not an organic thing that’s just happening. You guys are behind it.”
Holder then walked offstage without answering TheDC’s request for comment about calls for his resignation.
There have been several serious attempts to rein in the decidedly pro-union National Labor Relations Board in 2011. While some bills were passed in the House, they stalled in the Senate. The result is that there’s been little real progress in trying to control an unaccountable, “independent,” but tax-payer funded federal agency that arbitrarily promotes rules and regulations that heavily favor unions.
The NLRB, which gained considerable notoriety for the Boeing incident, is currently engaged in trying to rush a new rule into effect that would reduce the time required for a unionization election process to as few as 10 days. Because of public outcry over complicated and controversial political techniques by the Board, the original NLRB union rule proposal has been scaled back somewhat. However, the principle that a federal agency residing in the Executive Branch shouldn’t legislate, as that is the sphere of the Legislative Branch, is still being violated. Congressman John Kline (R-Minn.) therefore, introduced new legislation that will be considered in the House on November 30 that counters the NLRB’s newest rule.
House Resolution 3094, the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, would “amend the National Labor Relations Act with respect to representation hearings and the timing of elections of labor organizations under that Act.” It also in effect, “reverses the NLRB's August 26, 2011, decision in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation of Mobile and its June 22, 2011, rulemaking regarding proposed changes to procedures involving the election of collective bargaining representation.”
Under H.R. 3094 employers would have at least 14 days to prepare their case for a NLRB election officer, and no union election could be held until at least 35 days after a petition is filed for an election. This legislation ensures that employers are able to participate in a fair union election process, guarantees workers have the ability to make a fully informed decision, reinstates the traditional standards for determining which employees will vote, and also safeguards privacy by allowing workers to decide how much personal information can be provided to a union.
After an October 12 congressional hearing regarding H.R. 3094, the Associated Builders and Contractors stated in a press release, “the NLRB’s ‘ambush’ elections proposal” would “significantly impede the ability of construction industry employers to protect their free speech rights” and “hinders the free choice of workers to make a fully informed decision in a union election campaign.” Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson described the NLRB proposal as an "abusive power grab by the NRLB.”
It’s difficult enough in today’s economic crisis to run a business that is often burdened by mountains of costly regulations from various government agencies without having unfair and unjust edicts from the NLRB to cope with as well. While H.R. 3094 certainly doesn’t fix all that is wrong with the NLRB, at least the latest and most blatant pro-union action by the NLRB can be rectified through passage of this bill.
Stop the NLRB from circumventing Congressional authority by pressuring your Representative and Senators into supporting H.R. 3094. Tell them to help protect free enterprise by reducing the power of the NLRB, a federal agency that costs our nation jobs and hurts small businesses, as well as discounting and undermining workers' and employers’ rights.
Your friends at The John Birch Society
America's newest Medal of Honor recipient has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, defense contractor BAE Systems, alleging the company and his supervisor there punished him for his opposition to a weapons sale to Pakistan and prevented him from finding other work by portraying him as a problem drinker and mentally unstable.
Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the honor in September, objected to the company's sale of high-tech armaments to Pakistan, according to the lawsuit, saying the U.S. weapons sale is "giving to guys who are known to stab us in the back" and "the same people who are killing our guys."
In response, BAE is carefully pushing forward with defending itself in the case while not personally criticizing the Medal of Honor recipient.
The famous oak tree was toppled by high winds this past June. Now, thieves have stolen the "remains.""A 350-year-old oak known as the Stonewall Jackson Prayer Tree was reported stolen Tuesday, the Augusta County Sheriff's Office said."The owner had donated the tree from which items were to be crafted and sold, with the funds being donated to the Wounder Warriors project.I'm curious as to why someone would steal it though. They can't sell it without being caught. Perhaps some ole boy is, as I type this, warming his feet by a log fire. Oh, perish the thought. Let's all pray the thief/thieves get caught.Fellow CW blogger Robert Moore gives a good summation of how the tree came to be known as "Jackson's Prayer Tree" here.More here.
Three days before the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval intelligence that Tokyo's military and spy network was focused on Hawaii, a new and eerie reminder of FDR's failure to act on a basket load of tips that war was near.
In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR's declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, "In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii."
The federal government has offered western Wake towns a double-edged deal. The General Services Administration will divulge details about an immigration-law enforcement and short-term detention facility slated for the area, but the towns must agree to keep quiet.
GSA officials say they're being as open as possible under federal laws that require secretive planning for the 19,000-square-foot facility, which could land anywhere from Garner to Morrisville. But some local leaders say the offer is a Catch-22, and they're unsure whether they could oblige without breaking state public records laws.
"If you sign the contract, then you can't tell citizens what's going on. And if something bad comes up, then you're screwed," said Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. "If you don't sign the contract ... if something comes up, people get ticked off and you're screwed."
President Barack Obama has one of the worst approval ratings of any president in modern political history, Paul Bedard notes in his Washington Whispers blog in US News.
Obama’s 43 percent rating in Gallup’s daily presidential job approval index today is far below Democrat Jimmy Carter’s 51 percent at the same point in his presidency. Carter has been considered one of the 20th century’s worst presidents, according to the index.
Political experts consider the ratings a crystal ball with the potential for predicting a president’s chances for re-election.
Historically, it has been difficult for incumbents to remain in office if their approval ratings are below 47 percent. At this same stage of Dwight Eisenhower’s term, the popular Republican president had an approval rating of 78 percent.
Bedard chronicles the approval ratings of other presidents at this point in their presidencies:
The pat answer from the Fed is that propping up failed banks long enough to be taken over by "healthy" institutions is better for the system than letting them fail. On the surface that's true, but it's what's under the surface that's destroying America's free market foundation.
Here's what's come as a result of the Fed's actions: The "Super-Six" – JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) – which held $6.8 trillion, or about half the industry's assets in 2006, had increased their holdings by 39% to $9.5 trillion as of September 2011.
So what's really going on is that the country's biggest banks, which weren't healthy when their CEOs lied to us (as they still do), have gotten even bigger.
With size comes power – the power to pay lobbyists, the power to pay for legislators, and the power to change regulations.
These banks don't always get what they want exactly when they want it, but they do eventually get what they need to make money hand over fist.
The whole thing reminds me of a Ponzi scheme.
The Federal Reserve might as well be Bernie Madoff and the banks "feeder funds" in this nationalized scheme to perpetuate the channeling of depositor money into banks and investor money into bank stocks and debt securities.
For the chain to be broken the Federal Reserve is going to have to be overhauled – seriously overhauled – and big banks are going to have to be broken up, once and for all.