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More Crooks

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Jake Tapper at ABC News’ Political Punch looks at a number of potentially crooked Republicans who have been associated with Sen. Steven’s gravy train.

Names included in his post are Senators Collins (R-Maine), Dole (R-NC), Smith (R-Ore), Sununu (R-NH), and Minnesota’s own Norm Coleman.

A lot of these donations are party of normal practice in politics, but this doesn’t make them right by any means. ALSO: just because we’re knocking Republican Senators here, let’s just remember that this happens to all politicians. The question is whether its easily visible or cloaked with smoke and mirrors. There is a reason why politics is the “second oldest profession.” (The first being prostitution.)

Depending on your level of cynicism, you might find very little difference between the two.


Written by walonline

August 1, 2008 at 8:07 am

Open Thoughts

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I’m not normally the one to dream up conspiracies. For example, I’ll call you delusional if you’re one of the folks that believes the Bush Administration set up the attacks on 9/11. On the other hand, people would probably call me crazy for saying “Wag the Dog” and Bill Clinton’s interesting tendency to make military strikes when the heat was on him for, er, domestic issues, are strikingly similar–more so than Oliver Stone‘s movie could ever be.

My thoughts:

Used under a Creative Commons License. Crooked Door by Skinnyde (Flickr)

What chance is it that there are politician motivations for the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens to take the heat off Justice Department employees embroiled in the politically-motivated hiring policies of the Gonzalez Justice Department?

Politics is far reaching, and a connection here–although it wouldn’t really matter or be significant–would not surprise me one bit. I probably am going crazy, though. If some of these stories surrounding Stevens are true, he needs to go:

On Tuesday a federal grand jury charged Stevens with failing to report gifts from Veco, including cars and free labor for a home in Girdwood, Alaska the senator called “the chalet.”

Maybe it will serve as an example for other Politicians and they’ll at least be a little more careful to conceal their dealings. In fact, the article I linked to above speculates on the involvement of other officials:

[Stevens] isn’t the only U.S. lawmaker whose fortunes are likely threatened by his ties to an obscure oil services company […].

Am I going crazy, or just being a little too cynical? Any thoughts of your own on this?

Also, I’m adding a new category for just this sort of discussion (because it makes me all sorts of angry): “Crooks!”

UPDATE 7/31 @ 8:50a: It appears that I’m not the only one that thinks this. White Collar Crime Prof Blog has been considering whether this indictment was used to take the head off the Department of Justice also.

Written by walonline

July 30, 2008 at 7:08 pm

Some People Finally Get It

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Gristmill, an environmental news blog, has an interesting post on the inefficiencies of gasoline blended with ethanol and how more people are catching on:

In Oklahoma, some vendors are refusing sell ethanol-spiked gasoline. And they’re winning customers with signs like “No Corn in Our Gas” and “Why Do You Put Alcohol in Your Tank?” the Times claims. In Oregon, new rules requiring the state’s fuel supply be E10 — a mix of 90 percent ethanol and 10 percent gasoline — are being associated with sputtering boat engines and failing weed whackers.

Used under a Creative Commons License. "Gasohol (Ethanol)" by Todd Ehlers (via Flickr).

Used under a Creative Commons License. "Gasohol (Ethanol)" by Todd Ehlers (via Flickr).

The idea that ethanol is less efficient than straight gasoline is easy to document: drive your car to or from a state with an ethanol blend from one with the opposite. Check your milage going either way. Even with other factors (such as wind), you’ll notice a marked difference. I did this at the beginning of the month, travelling from the Minneapolis area to Nebraska and back.

This is nice to hear, since I wrote on this back in April. And my accounting theory professor railed on it numerous times last fall. Gristmill also gets into it. What makes this policy so sickening are the huge amounts of taxpayer dollars being poured into a policy that raises food prices. This effects our nation’s (and the world’s) poorest people–not exactly something any politician would consider politically expedient.‘s Felix Salmon is writing today with regards to a World Bank report sayng that:

The combination of higher energy prices and related increases in fertilizer prices and transport costs, and dollar weakness caused food prices to rise by about 35-40 percentage points from January 2002 until June 2008.

Salmon also notes:

According to Chakrabortty, World Bank president Bob Zoellick tried to suppress publication of the report – something which, if true, probably only served to draw further attention to it.

Its not exactly like I was expecting a World Bank president clean of politics.

Written by walonline

July 30, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Just For Perspective

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Running back through my starred items on Google Reader, I came across an interesting post from Accrued Interest posted on May 19 on the GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.).

Let’s just say the markets have known about the Fannie and Freddie mess for a while. This post might be from a few months ago, but different people have been calling to phase out these out-dated institutions for quite a while.

Written by walonline

July 27, 2008 at 9:53 am

Moving Liabilities off Balance Sheet Nothing New

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Via Greg Mankiw, The New Yorker looks at how LBJ moved Fannie and Freddie off the government’s balance sheet (making them public) in order to fund the Vietnam War. What’s interesting in this is twofold:

  1. During this housing crisis, mark-to-market rules have caused the iBanks to recognize securities that they have moved off the balance sheet.
  2. Issues with both LBJ’s decision and the more current mortgage security situation have come to light in the current market.

This just goes to show that a lot of bad policy can be covered up as markets expand. Maybe its a good thing that the housing bubble popped. Now we know about these problems and can make decisions with them in mind.

UPDATE @ 11:55a: I don’t know what happened with the title. It was missing the final word. Now it makes a little more sense than before.

Written by walonline

July 23, 2008 at 9:08 am

Officials Let DNC Avoid Gas Taxes, Pocket Cool Half Million

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It appears that government officials love to help each other out. The committee running the DNC in Denver, according to the Rocky Mountain News, has been allowed by the city council to use Denver’s public works gas pumps. What makes this particularly interesting is how the committee avoids federal and state taxes, and looks to pocket a profit of $466,125. Yeah, basically a cool half million to pad their coffers.

Denver must have at least one council member with some level of comon sense. Here’s her take:

“There’s something there that just doesn’t seem right to me because, in a sense, you’re saying then that the officials who pass the laws are not willing to live by them, and that concerns me,” Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz said.


“I am just troubled by not having the payment of taxes for what I consider to be a privately funded party, and that’s what the host committee is: it’s a private organization,” she said.

“The DNC is not government. The RNC is not government,” said Faatz, who, at the time, had been told that the “same exact thing” was happening in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Funny thing is, here in Minnesota, the host of September’s RNC, the Republicans weren’t afforded tax-free gas. Continuing from the article:

Teresa McFarland, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-St. Paul host committee, said they’re getting their gas at the pump.

“We’re not getting a tax break on fuel,” she said. “That’s not the set-up at this end.”

Is anyone really surprised that strings are pulled like this? Not I.

UPDATE 7/23 @ 8:30a: The city makes off like a crook in this as well. Their cute business venture won’t pay income taxes, either. Not only is this deal removing road taxes, but it is also removing general fund taxes, which might also go to state services. It really is, as Councilwoman Faatz said: “the officials who pass the laws are not willing to live by them.”

Written by walonline

July 22, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Politics, Regulation

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The follow graph from the Hoover Institution may cause limited-government-types to cringe. If you follow the link, there is another one showing the effect of probable taxation policies on the public in the next four years.

Hat tip to The Corner.

Written by walonline

July 21, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Economics, Politics

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