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With just ten minutes left for one Senator to possibly scramble upstairs and cast a vote that would not change the outcome, Chuck Hagel’s secretary of defense nomination was sent to the Floor….

One of the more surprising moments was the very Senatorial response given by Mazie Hirono, the replacement for Dan Inouye, who passed away after the election.

In a brief statement she noted (at exactly the 2:00 mark) that the national security need for an immediate Secretary of Defense was necessary, and to abort the process and begin anew was irresponsible, for with sequestration, budget reductions, downsizing after Afghanistan, re-pivoting to the Pacific, challenges of North Korea, Syria, North Africa, cyber attacks to our data systems, power grid, infrastructure, all requiring immediate attention. Chuck Hagel exemplified himself in war, as a CEO, and in the chambers of the Senate itself. That puts him as equally qualified as anyone else in that room. Simply put, we need someone now, this man is capable, he has my vote.

The New Kaufman?
Courtesy of C Span
I guess she hasn’t learned to be long winded yet.

Which brings up the Republicans… What on earth is wrong with them? Are they nuts?

Every unbiased report confirms they are nuts.

Republican foreign policy is farce, not even worthy of Shakespeare.

So Republicans have decided that Afghanistan doesn’t exist. At last summer’s Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney never mentioned the Afghan War (that was left up to Clint Eastwood).

During Hagel’s seven and a half hours of questioning by the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, the country where 66,000 American troops are still fighting, and dying, was mentioned 27 times. How many mentions did it receive from the Armed Service Committee’s 12 Republican members combined? Four.

Drones, Zero mentions.

Cyber warfare, two came from Committee Republicans..

China, only one mention came from a Senate Republican. (and that occured when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz asked Hagel if he had traveled to China with Chas Freeman, a former American diplomat known for critical views toward, you guessed it, Israel.)

Israel (178 Republican mentions)

America must help Israel prevent the development of Iran’s nuclear weapon. (171 mentions)

The GOP campaign against him has descended even deeper into triviality. Republicans on the Armed Services Committee are now refusing to vote on Hagel’s nomination until he provides evidence that no organization he was affiliated with received foreign funding over the past decade? WTF? Every Republican on that committed gets foreign political funding from AIPAC….

His answer: no.

Republicans stoop even lower.

Republicans are demanding that he prove that no company or non-profit he has been involved in has received any foreign funding either!

Chuck Hagel’s answer? “That information…is legally controlled by the individual entities and not mine to disclose.”

This is “unprecedented,” as well as “ridiculous and outrageous,” especially since there’s zero evidence that Hagel—a decorated Vietnam veteran—has ever subverted the interests of the United States in service of a foreign power.

One senses Chuck Hagel’s ridiculous farcical hearing process, brought to its knees by these Republicans, has not one iota of relevance to Mr. Hagel’s qualifications, and every bit of relevancy to fending off a potential evangelical Tea Party primary challenger chomping for a run against these Republicans in the next election season….

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Every Senator steps forward on his first day in office, puts his hand on the Bible and then utters these words…..

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

The Fourth Amendment, considered by most to be part of the Constitution states the following……

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

These are those following who allowed unwarranted wire tapping by the government to continue….. five more years. It was voted in 2008 to expire on Monday.

R Andrew Alexander TN
R Kelly Ayotte NH
R John Barrasso WY
D Michael Bennet CO
D Richard Blumenthal CT
R Roy Blunt MO
R John Boozman AR
R Scott Brown MA
R Richard Burr NC
D Benjamin Cardin MD
D Thomas Carper DE
D Robert Casey PA
R Clarence Chambliss GA
R Daniel Coats IN
R Thomas Coburn OK
R William Cochran MS
R Susan Collins ME
D Kent Conrad ND
R Robert Corker TN
R John Cornyn TX
R Michael Crapo ID
R Michael Enzi WY
D Dianne Feinstein CA
D Kirsten Gillibrand NY
R Lindsey Graham SC
R Charles Grassley IA
D Kay Hagan NC
R Orrin Hatch UT
R Dean Heller NV
R John Hoeven ND
R Kathyrn Hutchison TX
R James Inhofe OK
R Johnny Isakson GA
R Mike Johanns NE
R Ron Johnson WI
D Timothy Johnson SD
D John Kerry MA
D Amy Klobuchar MN
D Herbert Kohl WI
R Jon Kyl AZ
D Mary Landrieu LA
D Carl Levin MI
I Joseph Lieberman CT
R Richard Lugar IN
D Joe Manchin WV
R John McCain AZ
D Claire McCaskill MO
R Addison McConnell KY
 D Barbara Mikulski MD
R Jerry Moran KS
D Clarence Nelson FL
D Earl Nelson NE
R Robert Portman OH
D Mark Pryor AR
D John Reed RI
D Harry Reid NV
R James Risch ID
R Charles Roberts KS
D John Rockefeller WV
R Marco Rubio FL
D Charles Schumer NY
R Jefferson Sessions AL
;D Jeanne Shaheen NH
R Richard Shelby AL
R Olympia Snowe ME
D Deborah Stabenow MI
R John Thune SD
R Patrick Toomey PA
R David Vitter LA
D Mark Warner VA
D James Webb VA
D Sheldon Whitehouse RI
R Roger Wicker MS

The world didn’t end after 2008… It may not end now in 2012.. but estimates are currently that over 10,000 Americans have been picked up and held like Joe Padilla somewhere without access to an attorney, without access to communication, without access to due process, because of the Patriot Act.

One day we will ask how this could happen. Who was too blame? Who could have stepped up and stopped it, but instead, chose to turn away?

This will be their answer.

DAMN THIS STUPID CONGRESS THAT FORCES US TO TAKE DESPERATE MEANS. HOW CAN OLD MEN BE SO STUPID. I THOUGHT YOU GOT WISER WITH AGE
Image direct result caused by actions of the stupid fools impersonating a US Congress

This Wednesday, on January 18th 2012, we too will be participating in SOPA Blackout Day… I encourage every true American patriot left, to do likewise.

Matt Taibbi is one of our best investigative reporters. You can find his newest article, The People vs. Goldman Sachs in the newest edition of Rolling Stone

Here are some bullet points of what he brings up, or actually the bipartisan Senate investigative committee brought up, when they pulled the details out of testimony and their prior investigation.

Before we start, one should remember: At one point banks/investment houses were regulated. Government regulatory agencies used to pour over loans and investment deals, looking for aberrant behavior that might damage damage depositors or put the entire financial system at risk. If found, they built the case and referred the evidence to the appropriate Justice Department.

Threat of that, was enough to keep most people honest…

In 2004, after the “mandate” by a fraction of voters in Ohio, the Republicans created a new, voluntary approach to regulation of financial houses, called Consolidated Supervised Entities (CSE)… Instead of a series of several agencies stocked with people pouring over the books, all financial regulatory oversight lay in the hand of 2 people in Washington DC and 5 in New York.

In exchange for “submitting” themselves to this new, voluntary regime of law enforcement, the Republicans gave Goldman and other banks the right to lend in virtually unlimited amounts, irregardless of their cash reserves… Banks like Bear and Merrill were lending out 35 dollars for every one in their vaults…

In their defense, Republicans didn’t do this to screw the American people. Republicans in general, as a class of people, just are not intellectually capable of visualizing potentials of future “what-could-happens.” Lulled by the foxes’ own words, “Rooting out corruption and fraud is in our own self-interests. In the event of financial wrongdoing, we WILL do our civic duty and protect the markets!., republicans agreed.

But, as Democrats readily know, that “only” happens if the perpetrator himself is honest.

And according to the report processed by Senator Levin and Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, apparently most financial guru’s are… There are two flagrant players who are to blame for the financial crises. One is AIG and their theft of money paid to them to cover short claims, and the other is: Goldman Sachs.

It is apparent that Goldman Sachs had in their hands, the ability to stave off this global crises in 2006. They recognized the potential at that time (2006) of the world financial system imploding, when a $6 billion loan by the feds, could have simply prevented the entire global crises before it began to collapse… Goldman recognized they were heavily invested in junk. In a series of memos and emails from that time, they collectively decided to say nothing, sell off their worthless junk, (basically meaning they lied about it’s worth to investors)., and at the same time they were selling, all the while describing how safe these investments were, they shorted the market to recoup their losses.

Well, is this illegal?

I don’t know. Is it illegal to buy a used car that the dealer knows will only go to blocks on the either he’s loaded into the lines venting from the air filter? And then make additional money on betting that you won’t make a mile in what you just purchased?

Is it illegal to buy a foreign soda ($5) from a vendor in New York City, to find upon its opening, that it contained New York City tap water?

Is it illegal to buy a CD that says Rick Astley: Made in China or the movie Inception, complete with images of people getting up and down in front of you on your screen?

Last time I looked,… the laws for fraud were still on the books, even if regulatory agencies are undermanned!

Meet the Goldman Sachs’ Players: Hank Paulson, David Viniar, Daniel Sparks, Thomas Montag, Lloyd Blankfein, Michael Swenson,

Here is the evidence as compiled against them by the above mentioned Senate Committee.

1) Internal memos indicate that the executives soon became aware of the host of scams that would crater the global economy: home loans awarded with no documentation, loans with little or no equity in them….

2) On December 14th, 2006. Viniar met with Sparks and other executives, and stressed the need to get “closer to home” — i.e., to reduce the bank’s giant bet on mortgages….

3) In a memo after that meeting, entry No. 2 is particularly noteworthy:. “Distribute as much as possible on bonds created from new loan securitizations,” Sparks wrote, “and clean previous positions.” (In other words, the bank needed to find suckers to buy as much of its risky inventory as possible)

4) Viniar seconded the plan in a gleeful cheerleading e-mail. “Let’s be aggressive distributing things,” he wrote, “because there will be very good opportunities as the markets [go] into what is likely to be even greater distress, and we want to be in a position to take advantage of them.”

5) Two months after the Sparks memo, Goldman Sachs had gone from betting $6 billion on mortgages to betting $10 billion against them — a shift of $16 billion…

6) Lloyd Blankfein CEO: “Could/should we have cleaned up these books before,” Blankfein wrote in one e-mail, “and are we doing enough right now to sell off cats and dogs in other books throughout the division?”

7) The names of the deals Goldman used to “clean” its books — chief among them Hudson and Timberwolf — are now notorious on Wall Street…

8) Inside the marketing materials for the Hudson deals, Goldman claims that its interests are “aligned” with its clients because it also bought a tiny, $6 million slice of the riskiest portion of the offering. But what it left out is that it had shorted the entire deal, to the tune of a $2 billion bet against its own clients!!!!$6 million / $2 billion = 0.003…..or 0.3%…. or the loss of one third of one penny on the dollar!

9) One of its creators, trading chief Michael Swenson, later bragged about the “extraordinary profits” he made shorting the housing market. All told, Goldman dumped $1.2 billion of its own crappy “cats and dogs” into the deal — and then told clients that the assets in Hudson had come not from its own inventory, but had been “sourced from the Street.”

9) Hilariously, when Senate investigators asked Goldman to explain how it could claim it had bought the Hudson assets from “the Street” when in fact it had taken them from its own inventory, the bank’s head of CDO trading, David Lehman, claimed it was accurate to say the assets came from “the Street” because Goldman was part of the Street. “They were like, ‘We are the Street,'” laughs one investigator.

10) Goldman’s biggest client, Morgan Stanley, begged it to liquidate the investment and get out while they could still salvage some value. But Goldman refused, stalling for months as its clients roasted to death in a raging conflagration of losses….the bank had an incentive to drag its feet: Goldman’s huge bet against the deal meant that the worse Hudson performed, the more money Goldman made. After all, the entire point of the transaction was to screw its own clients so Goldman could “clean its books.”

11) This action taken by Goldman Sachs is illegal, even if there are no regulatory agencies left to discover it. Courts have held that “the relationship between the underwriter and its customer implicitly involves a favorable recommendation of the issued security.” The SEC, requires that broker-dealers like Goldman disclose “material adverse facts,” which among other things includes “adverse interests.”

12) Prosecutors and regulators interviews by Traibbi, point to these areas as avenues for prosecution; lol, you can judge for yourself if a $2 billion bet against clients qualifies as an “adverse interest” that should have been disclosed….

13) Goldman also used a complex pricing method to turn the deal into an impressive triple screwing. Essentially, as values plummeted, Goldman bought some of the mortgage assets in the Hudson deal at a discount, resold them to sucker clients at the higher price and pocketed the difference….

14) Timberwolf was more notorious than Hudson… Goldman clients who bought into the deal had no idea they were being sold the “cats and dogs”, or that the bank was desperately trying to get off its books. An Australian hedge fund called Basis Capital sank $100 million into the deal on June 18th, 2007, and almost immediately found itself in a full-blown death spiral. “We bought it, and Goldman made their first margin call 16 days later,” says Eric Lewis, a lawyer for Basis, explaining how Goldman suddenly required his client to put up cash to cover expected losses. “They said, ‘We need $5 million.’ We’re like, what the fuck, what’s going on?” Within a month, Basis lost $37.5 million, and was forced to file for bankruptcy….

15) In February 2007, Goldman mortgage chief Daniel Sparks and senior executive Thomas Montag exchanged e-mails about the risk of holding all the crap in the Timberwolf deal.

MONTAG: “CDO-squared — how big and how dangerous?”
SPARKS: “Roughly $2 billion, and they are the deals to worry about.”

16) In a crucial conference call on May 20th 2007, that included Viniar and, Sparks, a PowerPoint presentation spelled out, in writing, that Goldman’s mortgage desk was “most concerned” about Timberwolf and another CDO-squared deal. In a later e-mail, he offered an even more dire assessment of such deals: “There is real market-meltdown potential.

17) On May 22nd, 2007, two days after the conference call, Goldman sales rep George Maltezos urged the Australians at Basis to hurry up and buy what the bank knew was a deadly investment, suggesting that the “return on invested capital for Basis is over 60 percent.” Maltezos was so stoked when he identified the Aussies as a potential target in this scam, that he subject-lined his e-mail “Utopia.” “I think,” Maltezos wrote, “I found white elephant, flying pig and unicorn all at once.”

18) Montag wrote to Sparks only four days after they sold $100 million of Timberwolf to Basis. “Boy,” Montag wrote, “that timeberwof [sic] was one shitty deal.”

19) Then, a year ago, under oath, before the congressional committee investigating Goldman Sachs involvement in the financial crises, Sparks repeatedly dodged questions from Levin, about whether or not the bank had a responsibility to tell its clients that it was betting against the same stuff it was selling them. When asked directly if he had that responsibility, Sparks answered, “The clients who did not want to participate in that deal did not.” ..When Levin pressed him again, asking if he had a duty to disclose that Goldman had an “adverse interest” to the deals being sold to clients, Sparks fidgeted and pretended not to comprehend the question. “Mr. Chairman,” he said, “I’m just trying to understand.”

20) Sparks had a revealing exchange with Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. Tester calls the Goldman deals “a wreck waiting to happen,” noting that the CDOs “were all downgraded to junk in very short order.” At which point, Sparks replies, “Well, senator, at the time we did those deals, we expected those deals to perform.” Tester then cannily asks if by “perform,” ..Sparks meant “go to shit”.. — which would have been an honest answer. “Perform in what way?” Tester asks. “Perform to go to junk so that the shorts made out?”

Unable to resist the taunt, Sparks makes a fateful decision to defend his honor. “To not be downgraded to junk in that short a time frame,” he says. Then he pauses and decides to dispense with the hedging phrase “in that short a time frame.” “In fact,” Sparks says, “to not be downgraded to junk.”

21) “Article 18 of the United States Code, Section 1001,” says Loyola University law professor Michael Kaufman. “There are statutes that prohibit perjury and obstruction of justice, but this is the federal statute that explicitly prohibits lying to Congress.” The law is simple: You’re guilty if you “knowingly and willfully” make a “materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation.” The punishment is up to five years in federal prison……

When Roger Clemens went to Washington and denied taking a shot of steroids in his ass, the feds indicted him — relying not on a year’s worth of graphically self-incriminating e-mails, but chiefly on the testimony of a single individual who had been given a deal by the government…

We have a brazen lie, told to Congress, contradicted by that person’s own emails.

Yet, a year has gone by. When it comes to fraud, Bernie Madoff did exactly the same thing, except, of course, he was too honorable to lie… Wonder what that make Sparks?

Back to the original point… Republicans, if they had more than “pretend balls”, should be all over this… For one, a willful, flagrant act of destruction occurred to the financial world, one equivalent to Osama Bin Laden’s 9/11, and the current administration is caught playing the role of Pakistan. And two, even though it was the Republican administration that relaxed the regulations, they were duped, and because of that, they lost badly among the independents in 2008, pretty much because the economy collapsed from the fraud, misrepresentation, and dumping of bad investments on the market, by one,… one investment house… Goldman Sachs.

They should be screaming for their heads…