Obama auto czar caught up in NY pension fund scandal

Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration’s auto task force, was one of the executives involved with payments under scrutiny in a probe of an alleged kickback scheme at New York state’s pension fund, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A Securities and Exchange Commission complaint says a “senior executive” of Mr. Rattner’s investment firm met in 2004 with a politically connected consultant about a finder’s fee. Later, the complaint says, the firm received an investment from the state pension fund and paid $1.1 million in fees.

The “senior executive,” not named in the complaint, is Mr. Rattner, according to the person familiar with the matter. He is co-founder of the investment firm, Quadrangle Group, which he left to join the Treasury Department to oversee the auto task force earlier this year. Neither Mr. Rattner nor Quadrangle has been accused of any wrongdoing. Mr. Rattner did not return calls for comment. (more at WSJ)

Culture of corruption anyone?

More at NYT
“Mr. Rattner’s selection for the auto job was a topic of much speculation beginning in January, but it took several weeks to be settled. Two people close to the Obama administration said there were a handful of concerns about Mr. Rattner before he was named to his new position, but they declined to elaborate on what those concerns were.”

Gore ducks climate debate (again)

from WSJ

Former Vice President Al Gore repeated his message that climate change is a planetary emergency at the WSJ’s Eco:nomics conference in California. The Nobel-prize winner declined to take any questions from reporters, but he did receive a couple of challenges from attendees, including Bjorn Lomborg. But don’t expect Mr. Gore to debate the merits of how best to tackle climate change anytime soon.

Mr. Gore stuck to his prepared script about the urgency of taking action to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions, down to well-worn phrases he trots out at conferences across the country: America is at “a political tipping point” on climate change, and even if Washington has failed to address the energy challenge in the last 35 years, “political will is a renewable resource.”

But he was challenged by Mr. Lomborg, the Danish skeptical environmentalist who thinks the world would be better off spending more money on health and education issues than curbing carbon emissions.

“I don’t mean to corner you, or maybe I do mean to corner you, but would you be willing to have a debate with me on that point?” asked the polo-shirt wearing Dane.

“I want to be polite to you,” Mr. Gore responded. But, no. “The scientific community has gone through this chapter and verse. We have long since passed the time when we should pretend this is a ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ issue,” he said. “It’s not a matter of theory or conjecture, for goodness sake,” he added.

WTF Open Thread

2008. The year of WTF.

People behaving out of character. A realignment on the political Right. The attempt to marginalize Christians. Weird, strange, unpredictable stuff. I can’t think of a better way to describe it than “WTF.”

First up, articles from NRO, Times Online, and JihadWatch.

Writing at NRO, Mark Steyn takes issue with those who would try to use the “nazi” label against the anti-jihad alliance. Roger Boyles continues the theme at the Times, And, writing at JihadWatch, Spencer takes on WSJ.

Mark Steyn says, “Silence = Acceptance”

We are told that the “vast majority” of the 1.6-1.8 billion Muslims (in Deepak Chopra’s estimate) are “moderate.” Maybe so, but they’re also quiet. And, as the AIDs activists used to say, “Silence=Acceptance.” It equals acceptance of the things done in the name of their faith. Rabbi Holtzberg was not murdered because of a territorial dispute over Kashmir or because of Bush’s foreign policy. He was murdered in the name of Islam — “Allahu Akbar.”

Roger Boyles reports from Berlin, “Mosques are a land grab, not a place of worship.”

So says Ralph Giordano, 85, Holocaust survivor. His protests against the grand mosque in Cologne brought a flood of supportive mail.

“…Mr. Giordano, we are afraid as you are of this creeping Islamification but we can’t say anything in public because we will end up being branded as neo-Nazis.”

The novelist and essayist pauses for effect. “Well, that’s something that cannot be pinned on me!”

Mr Giordano finds himself in the company of far-right activists. “Of course, you have to distance yourself clearly from these people – obviously their racist, neo-Nazis arguments are quite different from mine – but I am not going to be muzzled just because people are fighting on the same issue with false arguments and a false ideology.”

Also counterpunching against the PC “right” at JihadWatch,

Over the weekend, Robert Spencer called out Wall St. Journal drone James Taranto on his cynicism about the intentions of the man who is most adamant about preserving Western civilization, Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

Specifically, as Spencer points out, Taranto finds Wilders’ views on Islam “problematic” and isn’t sure whether or not Geert Wilders is simply an “anti-Islamic provocateur.” To which Spencer replies, “It is a pity that Taranto would characterize speaking accurately about how Muslims use Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence and Islamic supremacism as being an ‘anti-Islamic provocateur.’”

More WTF on the domestic front, as the Mother of all Bailouts continues….

The Ohio Agriculture Department conducts a SWAT Team raid on a food co-op known as the Mana Storehouse. The charge? Running a retail establishment without a license. No kidding. Selling unlicensed food is now an offense worthy of a SWAT Team raid. Read more here.

At Euromoney, Helen Avery reports that the settlement system for the US Government bond market has broken down.

And,at the Market Oracle, Martin Weiss says, “America’s Second Great Depression has started.”

Right now, our country’s finances have deteriorated too far to balance the federal budget anytime soon. But it’s not too late to avoid some major financial blunders that could seriously weaken our country for the rest of the century. Even in the worst-case scenario, it is certainly not too late for you to protect your savings, boost your income and grow your wealth.

How long could the depression last? How much further can home prices fall? How far down will the stock market go? Will it be as bad as the 1930s? At this juncture, you can count on your fingers the number of serious analysts who believe that’s even a remote possibility. And yet, stranger things have already happened, including the largest bank and insurance company collapses of all time.

And, on a lighter note, Sparty claims that Chris Petersen will be named head coach at Mississippi State, right after today’s SEC Championship game, even though Petersen and everyone else denies it. I hope Sparty’s right.

Also, South Panola’s 89 game win streak is snapped by Meridian in the 5A Championship game. Yes Virgina, Meridian’s All-State QB Tyler Russell is headed to Mississippi State! C’mon Chris Petersen.

Finally, GN Magazine has “Surprising Truths” you may not know about the Nativity story.

Friday Reading

The new digital “brownshirts”: Informed observers don’t get “the facts” only from a political campaign. They read and listen to the independent media outlets – the same outlets the thin-skinned Mr. Obama is currently trying to quash. Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis

Corning Inc. blasts Obama ad: More of the “new” politics from the anointed one.

An update from Galveston: Tough times ahead

Twelve-year old makes solar cell breakthrough: And a child shall lead?

Blast from the Past: An archive report from WSJ…quite prescient…“Fannie Mae Enron?”

Update: Rangel calls Sarah Palin “disabled”

What are you reading? Links welcome (WFFOT)

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Stocking up

I admit to being surprised at the reports of Sam’s Club and other retailers limiting bulk sales of rice. Panic-buyers, breathlessly reported by mass media, generating concern among the public of possible food shortages, and skyrocketing prices of basic food staples. Is this the next crisis we must face in these bizarre times, or is this just another sign of the times?

In fact, WSJ’s Brett Arends opined the other day that “maybe it’s time for Americans to start stockpiling food.”

Maybe it is.

9/11, Katrina, H5N1 preparation, …. If these events didn’t get America’s attention, then maybe a potential problem with food supplies will do the job.

We have been buying a few extra cans all along, trying to get to the point that we can go for ninety days — like FEMA has recommended to our hospitals — but 90 days of self-sufficiency is a tall order. That’s a lot of cans.

Kind of like filling the Strategic Petroleum reserve. If it’s there when you need it, it really doesn’t matter what you paid for it.

Previously:
“What’s in your emergency kit?”

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