Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The continuing saga of the super-secret administration...

In the continuing saga of the super-secret administration, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has refused to recover, from archive tapes, the public business done at the White House via ‘private’ e-mail services; provided by the RNC. The US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were told that the e-mails, that had been programmed to be automatically deleted after 30 days, would not be recovered from the archives and turned over to the House committee as requested.

Once again the constitutionally mandated oversight of the Executive Branch of the federal government, by the legislative and judicial branches thereof, has been flouted by the current administration. The system of checks and balances established in the US Constitution was designed to prevent the temptation to abuse power from coming to fruition, and the W administration has shown that it is determined that that restraint will not apply to them.

Previously in the super-secret administration:

  1. Undermine the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) secret court’s ability to determine if surveillance is warranted.
  2. Refute Congressional and Judicial (causing lawsuits to be thrown out) oversight by refusing to allow access to White House personnel or documents.
  3. Pseudo-private e-mail accounts to do the public’s business, avoiding government provided e-mail accounts, which have been claimed repeatedly to be immune to judicial or congressional access.
  4. Reclassifying as secret, documents that had been publicly accessible via the National Archives; for decades, in some instances.
  5. Classifying, as secret, record numbers of current working documents created, or in use, at the White House.
  6. Attempt to close EPA libraries and classify, as secret, publicly funded EPA research documents.

This is just what comes to mind immediately, and is sufficient to warrant the US House of Representatives to investigate as grounds for impeachment of both elected officials in the White House: President and Vice President.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Real help for homeowners...

In an earlier posting about the economy I compared the current sub-prime mortgage fiasco to the S&L disappearing act of 1986, because both problems were related to home loans gone bad. Why do home loans go bad? Because some of the loans are structured to sucker folks, who might not ordinarily qualify for such a loan, into a deal that will imminently be most profitable for the lender. I recently learned that, once in such an arrangement, the homeowner has no recourse if a lender is not willing to re-finance to more affordable (read: less profitable) terms. Bankruptcy allows the court to restructure a wide variety of kinds of secured debt, but not debt secured by a home (even if it is a person's primary residence).

The Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act being considered by Congress would allow the court to change the terms and conditions of debt secured by the debtor's home. This Act would allow the Bankruptcy Court temporary power to deal with this type of secured debt, but I would suggest that this type of authority be granted to said courts permanently. If this had been the case since the 1980's both the S&L fiasco and this sub-prime mortgage driven, economic recession might have been averted.

The aforementioned, pending Act of Congress would be real assistance to those in need, and it would not cost the US Treasury any money. The current plan, to return tax money to citizens, adds substantially to the federal government's enormous debt while getting money into the hands of people who don't need it. Even if all the refunded monies were spent immediately it wouldn't help the economy. More important, the cash would be no help at all to those with the most urgent need.