US Sues Standard & Poor’s Over Credit Ratings, Forgets It Made The Mess Itself

Oh, what a tangled web we weave. The United States government has sued credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s over the ratings it gave to mortgages just before the financial crisis:

The U.S. government is accusing the debt rating agency Standard & Poor’s of fraud for giving high ratings to risky mortgage bonds that helped bring about the financial crisis.

The government said in a civil complaint filed late Monday that S&P misled investors by stating that its ratings were objective and “uninfluenced by any conflicts of interest.” It said S&P’s desire to make money and gain market share caused S&P to ignore the risks posed by the investments between September 2004 and October 2007.

The charges mark the first enforcement action the government has taken against a major rating agency involving the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

According to the government filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the alleged fraud made it possible to sell the investments to banks. The government charged S&P under a law aimed at making sure banks invest safely.

S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has denied wrongdoing and said that any lawsuit would be without merit.

It is without merit, but not for the reasons S&P thinks. See, this whole thing is hilarious, because the situation itself was created by the government. That’s right; if it wasn’t for government meddling in the credit rating market, this would never have happened:

Bobby Jindal Sandblasts the GOP: Thank God, Finally

Bobby Jindal

Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake of the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog—arguably one of the best blogs about politics today—have gotten a copy of Bobby Jindal’s speech to the RNC this Thursday. It looks like it will be a well-needed tongue-lasher:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver a forceful denunciation of his party’s Washington-centric focus in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday evening, arguing that the GOP is fighting the wrong fight as it seeks to rebuild from losses at the ballot box last November.

“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and short-sighted debate,” Jindal will tell the RNC members gathered in Charlotte, N.C. for the organization’s winter meeting, according to a copy of the speech provided to The Fix. “If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.”

Jindal’s speech — and his call to “recalibrate the compass of conservatism” — is the latest shred of a growing amount of evidence that the Louisiana governor is positioning himself to not only run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but do so in direct (or close to it) opposition to his party in the nation’s capital.

In the speech, Jindal will repeatedly caution that Republicans in Washington have fallen into the “sideshow trap” of debating with Democrats over the proper size of the federal government.

Despite Obama’s second term, there is light at the end of the tunnel

As the presidential inauguration comes upon us today, I can’t help but think that we’re seeing Bush’s fourth term. Barack Obama, while talking up a good liberal game on international peace and social issues, is really quite similar to his Republican predecessor. He has widely broadened the use of drones pioneered with Bush 43. His signing of the NDAA act authorizing indefinite detention is merely a sequel to the PATRIOT Act Bush signed in 2001. And his recent executive orders on guns have elicited much the same outrage from conservatives that liberals had over Bush’s signing statements.

Combined with staying the course on military spending, staying the course on not making any significant reforms to entitlements, staying the course on the War on Drugs, and staying the course on corporate bailouts…

…and I’m wondering if George W. Bush ever left.

Certainly, there are differences. George W. Bush championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while the Obama Administration has just given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama is also far more supportive of a woman’s right to choose, while George W. Bush was pro-life (mostly). But on nearly all other issues, ranging from torture, to war, to government spending, our 44th president is little more than an “expansion pack” to our 43rd — doing the same things, only worse.

French Socialist Minister of Nationalization: “Obama Does It!”

In what is sure to raise eyebrows and cause some headdesk moments across the world, the French Industry Minister, a member of the ruling Socialist Party, has said that what he’s doing is what Obama is doing:

The French politician who said Indian steel company ArcelorMittal should leave the country has told CNBC that his government is only acting like U.S. President Barack Obama.


Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images

French Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg poses as he arrives at the Hotel Matignon (the Prime Minister’s official residence) in Paris.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, a member of the governing Socialist party, caused controversy last week when he said that the Indian company, which employs close to 20,000 people in France, should leave after it said it would have to close down a factory.

The French government announced on Thursday that it could nationalize the factory in question, with backing from an unnamed businessman.

The news raised the specter of the nationalizations of the early 1980s, which were instigated by Hollande’s predecessor Francois Mitterrand.

Montebourg told CNBC after a meeting with trade unions in Paris: “Barack Obama’s nationalized. The Germans are nationalizing. All countries are nationalizing. I’ve also noticed the British nationalized 6 banks.”

How to Explain the Entitlement Crisis to Children

Promoted by AEI and based on Nicholas Eberstadt’s book, “A Nation of Takers,” this Dr. Seuss-like video depicts the dangerous dependency of entitlements and the importance of liberty.

Very clever animation with an important message:

The “Independence” of the Thoroughly Dependent: Modern Scotland’s Welfare Mentality and Proposed Secession in 2014

Scotland holds a very special place in my heart as it always does for anyone who has had the pleasure to travel there.  My wife and I lived in Scotland while I was at the University of Glasgow, and our time spent amongst those charming, funny, witty, spirited people will never be forgotten.  I still enjoy all things Scottish and look forward to my future visits to that amazing country.  It is because of my admiration for both the Scottish people and succession movements in general that I have been closely watching the Scottish independence movement and am eagerly awaiting the upcoming referendum.  I’d love to see a truly free Scotland loosened from the socialist, statist, bureaucratic chains of the United Kingdom.  I get goosebumps at the very thought.

We all know the fighting spirit of William Wallace who proclaimed that the enemies of Scotland may take their lives but never their freedom.  Statism and state-dependency have taken both from today’s Scotland.  As shown on the Drudge Report this week, Mrs. Ruth Davidson of the Tory party recently got into hot water by drawing attention to the fact that nine out of ten Scottish households take more from the government than they pay in.  In her words they are “living off of the patronage of the state.”  This should shame those nine out of ten households, but it won’t.  For the European lefty political class, there is no such thing as shame and they have passed this mentality onto their constituents.

Update: Occupy’s “Autonomous Individuals” Share Cohesive Message

OWS goons

This morning Citizen Journalist blogged (with video) about a Bay-Area meeting of Occupy types billed as “Hoodies and Hijabs.”  Although commenters at this site and others attempt to distance themselves from any calls for destroying capitalism that come from these gatherings - stating that no one is a “leader” of Occupy and it’s a gathering of autonomous individuals - the message coming from these rallies, gatherings, protests (whatever you want to call them) - is remarkably cohesive.

  • “Joyful violence against the state is the sanity to the everyday misery.” (Occupy Oakland)
  • “An organization has to be built which can bring down capitalism.” (Occupy DC)
  • “We need a revolution to overthrow capitalism and take society into a socialist direction.” (March on the RNC)
  • “Fight Genocide, Destroy what is civilized.” (Occupy Oakland)

It is becoming ever more clear that the Occupy movement is cohesive and with a single goal of overthrowing capitalilsm.

Politics Ruins Everything

Gene Healy, vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute in DC, is pretty much over politics:

I have a confession to make: Even though it’s my job to write about politics, I didn’t watch a single second of the Republican or Democratic conventions — not even a YouTube clip of Clint Eastwood talking to the chair.

I’ve long found electoral politics seedy and dispiriting, but that sensibility has lately become a debilitating affliction: like being a sportswriter struck by the unhelpful epiphany that it’s silly for a grown man to write about other grown men playing a game for kids.

These days, when I tune in to ABC’s “This Week” looking for a column topic, I can’t even make it past the first commercial break. Like Peter says to the management consultant in “Office Space,” “The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy; it’s that I just don’t care.”
Politics makes us worse because “politics is the mindkiller,” as intelligence theorist Eliezer Yudkowsky puts it. “Evolutionary psychology produces strange echoes in time,” he writes, “as adaptations continue to execute long after they cease to maximize fitness.” We gorge ourselves sick on sugar and fat, and we indulge our tribal hard-wiring by picking a political “team” and denouncing the “enemy.”

What Healy is talking about is mostly elections and the actual governing process. He cites fellow Catoites Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus, who write in their essay “Politics Make Us Worse”:

Should We Have A Capital Day?


(Image from Progressive Libertarianism)

Today is Labor Day, that holiday created in the 1880s to celebrate workers and blue-collar labor.As a youngster,  I always found it quixotic, since doesn’t everyone labor somehow? It’s a holiday for everybody? But now I know what it really is about, and the new question I have is: Why not have a capital day?

With all the demonization of the 1% and industrialists in this day and age, it’s necessary to take a moment and remember just where we would be without capital: not very far. Foundation for Economic Education President Lawrence Reed explains it well:

Capital without labor means machines with no operators, or financial resources without the manpower to invest in. Labor without capital looks like Haiti or North Korea: plenty of people working but doing it with sticks instead of bulldozers, or starting a small enterprise with pocket change instead of a bank loan.

Capital can refer to either the tools of production or the funds that finance them. There may be no place in the world where there’s a shortage of labor but every inch of the planet is short of capital. There is no worker who couldn’t become more productive and better himself and society in the process if he had a more powerful labor-saving machine or a little more venture funding behind him. It ought to be abundantly clear that the vast improvement in standards of living over the past century is not explained by physical labor (we actually do less of that), but rather to the application of capital.

Let Me Show You Why Capitalism Is AWESOME

Diced Meat

Look at that. That is meat. Juicy, delectable, delicious, wonderful meat. It is the cornerstone of our existence, the very foundation of our diets (no matter what that silly treehugger food pyramid says. I mean, it’s a pyramid. Clearly it wasn’t intended for Americans.) You get it from animals. It is animals. That tends to make folks like PETA mad (the other PETA, I mean, not the People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.) This is something we just can’t see eye to eye on.

Until now.

See, a great guy named Peter Thiel—he got the very first Alumnus of the Year award from Students for Liberty this year—has decided to invest a ton of money in a new project that will create meat from a 3-D printer:

Billionaire Peter Thiel would like to introduce you to the other, other white meat. The investor’s philanthropic Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs is offering up a six-figure grant (between $250,00 and $350,000, though representatives wouldn’t say exactly) to a Missouri-based startup called Modern Meadow that is flipping 3-D bio-printing technology originally aimed at the regenerative medicine market into a means to produce 3-D printed meat.


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