Friday, July 16, 2010


First she couldn’t hispander enough for the illegals’ illegal votes! Now she wants them arrested?
About like Obama’s LA RAZA AMNESTY scam. First he says he will secure the border, then he stops the wall, and invades ARIZONA!

Meg Whitman's past immigration stance: "Prosecute illegal all of our cities" (VIDEO)
GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who this week decried what she called "harsh rhetoric" surrounding the issue of illegal immigration -- and who said she agrees with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown on much of the issue -- last year advocated that the state "prosecute illegal aliens and criminal aliens in all of our cities, in every part of California."
Whitman this week wrote a piece for the East Los Angeles Spanish-language newspaper chain, saying she and Brown are very close on the issue of illegal immigration. "What has bothered Latinos for too long is the harsh rhetoric around the immigration debate. Too often, the debate has been tinged with hurtful words signaling intolerance or worse to many Latinos,'' she wrote.
And she said: "Clearly, when examining our positions on immigration, there is very little over which Jerry Brown and I disagree. Latinos seeking a candidate who supports amnesty for illegal immigrants won't find one on the gubernatorial ballot this year."
But the talk sounds a little different from comments we reported here on SFGate last year,when Whitman spoke to our Shaky Hand Productions video cam. Back then, she was up against rival candidate Steve Poizner and promised "the tough approach California needs" on the issue.
Here's a visit to the Shaky Hand Productions' Vault and Wine Cellar for a look back at Meg's immigration comments in May 2009:
At the time, Whitman's comments elicited sharp response from voices on the left. Those included the folks at in San Francisco, a city she has repeatedly cited as the worst of the state's "sanctuary cities."
Update: Hector Barajas, spokesman for the Whitman campaign, has emailed us, saying that Whitman's position on this issue is that "undocumented immigrants who commit crimes need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Read more:


Still knotted with Boxer, Fiorina goes off on SF as sanctuary city

Team Fiorina -- and national Republicans -- are crowing about another poll (the robocalling Survey USA) showing the Demon Sheep slayer virtually tied with incumbent Dem Sen. Barbara Boxer. This comes last week's Field Poll showed the same knotting.
Carleton is now calling out the Obama Administration for not suing San Francisco for being a sanctuary city. Hey, if they're suing Arizona for its immigration policies, why not SF, Carleton says...and, presumably, the 30-odd other California cities with sanctuary policies.

Carly told KCBS/CBS5: "If the federal government wants to take the point of view that the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder seem to be taking, which is all immigration issues are federal government issues and therefore we will challenge any authority, then they ought to be applying that standard consistently and they clearly are not," Fiorina said

And here's the response from Sean Clegg, an advisor to SF Mayor Gavin Newsom: "It's sad and shameful that Carly Fiorina would try to score cheap political points by attacking the City of San Francisco, a city she claims she wants to represent in the United States Senate."

Team Boxer continues not to let any solid Carly punch go unreturned, debuting a new website that boasts five things you should know about Carly Fiorina. Well, you've already heard them before from the Boxerians, but there are web team consultants who need to justify their pay.

Read more:


National Guard troops will go to the border

Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 10:25 p.m.

SACARAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday will order 224 California National Guard troops to the border with Mexico, fulfilling an earlier commitment to President Barack Obama.

In May, Obama launched a plan to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the southwest border, alarmed by a tide of smuggled drugs and immigrants and pummeled politically over illegal immigration.

Schwarzenegger earlier pledged California’s full cooperation with federal initiatives to secure the border and attack the narcotics trade.

“This is just the beginning,” Schwarzenegger said last month. “We must find a more permanent solution to our broken immigration system.”

Schwarzenegger has long supported a larger military presence along the border in San Diego and Imperial counties, quickly endorsing previous buildups President George W. Bush.

However, the governor has largely refused to embrace aggressive measures cracking down on illegal immigrants, such as the new Arizona law that gives local law enforcement the ability to check immigration status if they reasonably believe the person may have crossed the border without documents.

In the order to be released Friday morning, the governor urged his adjutant general to “use volunteers to the maximum extent possible.”

In addition, Schwarzenegger’s order defines the state guard’s role more as supportive, noting that forces, while armed, “will not be deployed in a direct law enforcement role.”

Schwarzenegger limits







“We could cut unemployment in half simply by reclaiming the jobs taken by illegal workers,” said Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, co-chairman of the Reclaim American Jobs Caucus. “President Obama is on the wrong side of the American people on immigration. The president should support policies that help citizens and legal immigrants find the jobs they need and deserve rather than fail to enforce immigration laws.”


California job climate stagnant in June

The state unemployment rate dipped slightly to 12.3%, but 27,600 jobs were lost as census positions expired, an EDD report says. Some economists fear a double-dip recession unless jobless benefits are extended.

By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times

9:28 AM PDT, July 16, 2010

Reporting from Sacramento


California's jobs climate stagnated in June as part-time census workers lost their jobs and more than 400,000 others ran out of unemployment benefits.

While the monthly unemployment rate crept down a tenth of a percentage point to 12.3%, the economy lost 27,600 jobs, according to the California Employment Development Department. The state's unemployment rate was 11.6% in June 2009.

Some economists feared that the Golden State and the country could be teetering on the brink of a double-dip recession, especially if Congress does not quickly pass an unemployment insurance extension that's needed to keep $33 billion in benefits flowing to more than 2.5 million long-term job seekers.

A vote is scheduled for Tuesday in the U.S. Senate.

The national unemployment rate in June was 9.5%

JUDICIAL WATCH - Nebraska Town Passes Illegal Immigration Law - WAIT UNTIL LA RAZA OBAMA HEARS!

Nebraska Town Passes Illegal Immigration Law

While the feds waste valuable taxpayer resources to fight Arizona’s “unconstitutional” and “racist” immigration control law, Americans in other parts of the country are working to enact similar measures in their state even if it creates a legal war with Uncle Sam.

This week alone, in two vastly different parts of the country, citizens sent a message indicating that they’re fed up with the enormous toll that illegal immigration is taking on their communities. Nationwide, Americans annually spend billions of dollars to educate, incarcerate and medically treat illegal aliens as the government sits idly.

The federal inaction has motivated municipalities and private citizens across the country to take action, even if it leads to costly legal battles. In Utah, an anonymous group circulated a list of more than 1,300 illegal immigrants to various state and federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Accompanied by a letter from "Concerned Citizens of the United States," the detailed list includes the illegal aliens’ phone numbers, addresses and birth dates. The letter claims that the group "observes these individuals in our neighborhoods, driving on our streets, working in our stores, attending our schools and entering our public welfare buildings."

Also this week, a small eastern Nebraska meatpacking town (Fremont) passed a law that bans hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants. Voters in the town of about 25,000 residents approved the measure last month and the city council officially adopted it this week amid lawsuit threats from a notoriously liberal civil rights group. The measure was modeled after a similar ordinance in Hazelton Pennsylvania, which has been engaged in litigation since approving its law in 2006.

An increase in these sorts of local actions to curb illegal immigration is likely, considering that several national polls have revealed that most Americans support them. The surveys also show that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the federal government’s lawsuit against Arizona’s measure which is modeled after the federal statute and makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally, bans “sanctuary city” policies and allows local police to inquire about suspects’ immigration status.



From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

JW to Represent Author of AZ Immigration Law in “Legal Battle of Epic Proportions” against Obama Justice Department

This week, Judicial Watch initiated perhaps the most important piece of litigation in its 16-year history.

On Thursday, we filed a “Motion to Intervene” on behalf of Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law SB 1070, in the Obama Justice Department lawsuit challenging the law, which is set to take effect on July 29.

As I told you last week, Justice filed a lawsuit on July 6 against the State of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from being enforced. (I included a general refutation of the Obama administration’s legal arguments last week, so I won’t repeat this week. But you can click here to review.)

So why is the Obama White House so desperate to kill this law? Because Obama knows if this law is allowed to stand, other states will follow Arizona’s lead. (In fact, a few states have already gotten a head start.) The federal government must then assume its constitutional responsibility to secure the border and enforce the law. And that is something President Obama is loath to do.

So here we are, alongside Senator Pearce, head to head against the Obama White House in the nation’s most controversial, most heated and most significant legal battle. Here’s an excerpt from our court filing explaining why Judicial Watch is representing Senator Pearce:

To further the interests of his legislative district and all citizens of Arizona, Senator Pearce authored SB 1070. On January 13, 2010, Senator Pearce introduced SB 1070 into the Arizona Senate. Over several months, Senator Pearce worked with his colleagues to enact a statutory scheme that made SB 1070 the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona. Senator Pearce was the chief sponsor of SB 1070 and voted in favor of its passage. Senator Pearce’s efforts came to fruition when Governor Brewer signed SB 1070 and HB 2762 into law.

As the author and driving force behind the enactment of SB 1070, Senator Pearce has the right to defend it.

And here’s a statement from Senator Pearce explaining why he is undertaking this fight with Judicial Watch:

The purpose of SB 1070 is to protect the citizens of Arizona from the devastating and deadly impact of rampant illegal immigration. And it is outrageous that the Obama administration would attack Arizona for simply protecting its own citizens, especially when it has failed so miserably to do its constitutional duty and secure the border. This is a legal battle of epic proportions. As a Senator in a state on the frontlines, I see firsthand the damage being done to our state and our country. What happens here in Arizona will impact every state in the country interested in protecting its citizens by enforcing the rule of law. We are a nation of laws. We must have the courage — the fortitude — to enforce, with compassion but without apology, those laws that protect the integrity of our borders and the rights of our lawful citizens.

Look, here’s the bottom line: This is a fight between those who want to enforce the law and those who do not. We are proud to stand with Arizona State Sen. Pearce, Governor Brewer and the citizens of Arizona in support of the rule of law.

Florida County Helps Illegal Workers Get Paid
$410k To Teach Drug Addicts Chinese Meditation
No English Defense Works In N.J. DUI Case
Lawmakers Settle Abuse Cases With Tax Dollars
Nebraska Town Passes Illegal Immigration Law
Obama Family Cook Named Policy Adviser
N.Y. Public Schools May Observe Muslim Holidays
Appeals Court Blasts Judge Who Ordered Terrorist Freed
By the way, as yet another disgraceful example of the Obama Administration’s hostility toward enforcing illegal immigration law the Obama Justice Department announced this week that illegal immigration sanctuary cities can continue their illegal behavior without fear of prosecution.

Here’s the scoop according to Newsmax: “A week after suing Arizona and arguing that the state’s immigration law creates a patchwork of rules, the Obama administration said it will not go after so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the federal government on immigration enforcement, on the grounds that they are not as bad as a state that ‘actively interferes.’”

In other words, the Obama Justice Department just announced that states can feel free to “passively ignore” illegal immigration law. But the Obama Justice Department will only sue those states that seek to uphold the law!

Most Americans stand with rule of law on the issue of illegal immigration enforcement.

The legal battle is on, and this is a fight we can win.

Questions Abound on Eve


List sends chill through Utah's Latino community

An anonymous letter naming 1,300 purported illegal immigrants sparks investigations and a wave of worry.

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

July 16, 2010

Reporting from Seattle

Since the distribution of an anonymous letter this week containing the names, addresses and other personal data of more than 1,300 Utah residents said to be undocumented immigrants, Tony Yapias' phone has not stopped ringing.

"I have one phone line; I've already missed 60 calls now, and there are 72 messages," said Yapias, director of the advocacy group Proyecto Latino de Utah. "People wanting to know if they're on the list. Should they move to another state? Should they leave the country? Horrified, scared, whatever language you can put on it."

The office of Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, announced Thursday that an investigation into the list was focusing on the possibility of an unauthorized release of information from the state Department of Workforce Services, which collects information on unemployment benefits, food stamps, Medicaid and other government programs.

"It appears that all the data on that list are contained within that agency's database, and they have found some evidence of inappropriate access, so they're drilling down on that as we speak," Angie Welling, the governor's communications director, said in a telephone interview.

A team of 10 state information technology specialists is examining who gained access to or printed out data that might have ended up on the list, which includes birth dates, addresses and in some cases Social Security numbers.

That information will be handed over to the state attorney general's office to determine whether a crime was committed, Welling said.

"These people [who distributed the list] are very interested in making sure that we disclose the names of people they think are breaking the law. I think it's only fair that they disclose who they are, and tell us why they didn't break the law," said Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah attorney general's office.

Intentionally disclosing a private record or gaining access to such a record under false pretenses could be prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, Murphy said. "It could be as much as a third-degree felony, meaning up to five years in prison, if the custodian of the records actually stole the records," he added.

Federal authorities also are examining the list because, in some cases, it contained Social Security numbers, said Jonathan Lasher, assistant inspector general for external relations for the federal Social Security Administration.

The mysterious list, accompanied by an unsigned letter demanding that those whose names appear on the list be immediately deported, appeared as some residents are pushing Utah to join Arizona in stepping up state enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants.

A bill similar to Arizona's new immigration law is expected to be introduced in Utah's Legislature next year.

The list, originally given to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Salt Lake City in April, was redistributed this week with additional names to legislators, police chiefs and Utah news organizations, accompanied by another demand that public officials take action.

"We ask that you remember who you work for in this country — you work for America and for the citizens in the state of Utah. You DO NOT work for illegal immigrants who have come into our country illegally and who now take advantage of our system," it said. "They need to go — and go now."

Yapias said some of those whose names appear on the list have been confirmed as legal residents. He said there are fears the list could reach extremists who might use it to intimidate or harass those on the list.

"Politically, we can agree to disagree," Yapias said. "We can say both sides of the issue have been going at it passionately at every level. But to begin a new level of terrorizing families, that's not right. I mean, it's un-American — whatever word you want to find for it, it's just wrong."

Most of Utah's major immigration activist groups have denied any role in distributing the list. Some have condemned it.

"Our position is it was inappropriate to compile or release the list," said Ron Mortenson, co-founder of the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, which has advocated for legislation to crack down on identity theft for the purposes of obtaining false immigration documents.

"We see it as a rule-of-law issue," he said. "The fact is we expect everyone to comply with the law, illegal aliens and American citizens…. If it's a political issue, you address it through the legislative process, not through some extralegal method."



One thing that has certainly changed since 1994 is Harry Reid. As Senate Democratic Leader, he now sees illegal aliens and foreign workers as future Democratic voters and believes that pandering to Hispanics will help him win votes.

It will grant amnesty to every single illegal alien present in this country the day it is passed. Besides rewarding the lawbreakers who are already here, this will encourage additional illegal immigration as the bill is debated. The bill even allows illegal aliens with multiple criminal convictions to receive amnesty.

Tom Tancredo
Bring back the Old Harry Reid

When asked about figures released by the Pew Hispanic Center that found that 14% of the nation’s construction workers are illegal aliens, Harry Reid responded, “That may be some place, but it’s not here in Nevada.” Reid is right. The number is much higher in Nevada. According to the same report, Nevada has the highest level of illegal aliens in the workforce at 12.2%—2.3% higher than the next highest state.
When asked to justify why he blocked Senator Jeff Session’s Amendment to require government contracted construction workers use E-verify to prevent them from hiring illegal aliens with the taxpayer’s money, he replied: “That’s the reason we need to do comprehensive immigration reform. We cannot do it piecemeal.”
In other words: he refuses to enforce our immigration laws unless we pass amnesty.
Earlier in the year, Reid wrote a detailed outline with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) of what they wanted “comprehensive immigration reform” to look like.
It isn’t pretty. The bill will gut enforcement, voiding all state and local laws such as the one just passed in Arizona. It will also greatly increase legal immigration levels—adding at least 550,000 permanent work visas and 3.4 million permanent family visas.
It will grant amnesty to every single illegal alien present in this country the day it is passed. Besides rewarding the lawbreakers who are already here, this will encourage additional illegal immigration as the bill is debated. The bill even allows illegal aliens with multiple criminal convictions to receive amnesty.
Needless to say, this is not the type of immigration reform that Americans want.
Harry Reid did not always support amnesty. In 1993 he introduced the Immigration Stabilization Act, and he reintroduced it the following year.
Upon introducing the bill, Reid said, “Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs… Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits often without paying any taxes.”
While “comprehensive immigration reform” is now used as an euphemism for amnesty, Reid’s office called the bill “the first and only comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress.”
And comprehensive it was.
Reid’s bill would have ended giving birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, increased border security, created new sanctions against illegal aliens and their employers, and barred illegal aliens from receiving government benefits. Additionally, the bill reduced legal immigrant admissions by 500,000 people a year. It achieved this by eliminating the visa lottery, limiting work visas to truly skilled immigrants with advanced degrees and extraordinary abilities, and limiting family reunification to children and spouses.
What has changed since Reid introduced the bill? In 1994, there were approximately 3 million illegal aliens living in the United States. Today there are 11 million. In 1994, we accepted 800,000 legal immigrants each year. Today, we accept 1.1 million. In 1994, Unemployment was at 6.6%. Today it is officially at 9.5%, and these numbers do not include the temporary census workers who will soon be out of a job. The Census bureau reports that one out of every six workers, in America, is foreign born with eight million illegal immigrants in the workforce.
Things are even worse in Nevada. In addition to having the highest number of illegal aliens in the workforce, it also has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 14%.
One thing that has certainly changed since 1994 is Harry Reid. As Senate Democratic Leader, he now sees illegal aliens and foreign workers as future Democratic voters and believes that pandering to Hispanics will help him win votes. The Arizona Republic recently ran a piece entitled “Harry Reid's dislike of Arizona law may aid re-election.”
Fortunately for Nevadans and Americans, Reid’s repositioning on immigration will most likely backfire. Hispanics only make up 12% of the electorate, and many are patriotic citizens who support Arizona’s law. As a whole, 57% of Nevada voters support Arizona’s law and 63% oppose the Obama administration’s lawsuit to prevent it.
While illegal immigration has become a hot button political issue, no politician of either party has introduced legislation for across the board cuts on legal immigration since I introduced the Mass Immigration Reduction Act of 2004.
The fact that this is not getting any attention is outrageous. Despite skyrocketing unemployment, we actually increased the number of foreign workers we accepted into the country in 2009, with over 1.1 million permanent green cards issued in addition to over 880,000 visas to temporary foreign workers.
With our immigration and economic problems out of control and politicians refusal to fully address the issue, we need the Harry Reid of 1993 and 1994 more than ever.


Immigration re-
enters national

Updated 2h 12m ago

By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

Four years ago, immigration was a major issue in
congressional campaigns across the country.
Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords won her first
term representing a southern Arizona district in
2006 against a Republican she described as "an
immigration hard-liner." Two years later, she says,
she was surprised that the nation's broken borders
got hardly a mention in the presidential campaign.

This year, after the still-unsolved March shooting of
rancher Robert Krentz along the Mexican border in
Giffords' district, "immigration is back," she said.

A controversial new Arizona statute would allow
police officers who are enforcing another law to
demand identification from suspected illegal
immigrants. Giffords says the law was prompted in
part by Krentz's death, in an area traversed by illegal
immigrants. The law is set to take effect later this
month unless a federal judge supports a legal


Imprisoned for debt in America
By Nancy Hanover
16 July 2010
People are being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts in the United States, despite the fact that federal imprisonment for debt was abolished in 1933.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has documented such arrests, essentially for poverty, increasing throughout the United States. During the last four years, the use of arrest warrants against debtors in Minnesota has jumped by 60 percent, to 845 cases in 2009. The exposé showed that sometimes the unpaid bills were as low as $85.

The mechanism used to extract payment from the impoverished is the bench warrant. Workers are not actually incarcerated for debt, but for failing to respond to the legal system. However, the perpetrators of the court filings, the debt buyers and their legal representatives, are transparently using the system to intimidate, harass and frighten individuals into payments, sometimes for debts they do not even owe.

“In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases,” the Star-Tribune reports, “people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Illinois, man to ‘indefinite incarceration’ until came up with $300 towards a lumber yard debt.” The self-employed roofer had broken his neck and back and filed for disability. After three hours in a holding cell, his wife got him released by borrowing $300 on a credit card.

Joy Uhlmeyer was stopped and arrested in her car on her way home from spending Easter with her elderly mother. After a costly divorce in 2006, she defaulted on a $6,200 Chase credit card. She was arrested and spent a freezing night in a holding cell. Then, handcuffed in a squad car, she was taken to downtown Minneapolis for booking. After 16 hours, she was fingerprinted and learned why she was being held. She had missed a court hearing scheduled by Resurgence Financial, a company she had never heard of.

She said, “The really maddening part of the whole experience was the complete lack of information. I kept thinking ‘If there was a warrant out for my arrest, then why in the world wasn’t I told about it?’” she recounted to the Star-Tribune.

Behind these and countless other cases across the country stand collections firms and debt-buyers. But behind these middlemen stand the major banks—Chase, Citigroup, etcetera—who profit most from the collection industry. Tens of thousands of suits are routinely filed in state courts by the large debt-buying companies. Once a judgment is issued, a court date is set. However, if for any reason a consumer fails to appear for a court date, a bench warrant can be issued for “default.”

In many cases, consumers are unaware of the case against them. The Legal Aid Society of New York’s study showed that the debt buyers often had not notified the purported debtor, and in many cases had no proof of claim. Their study found that debt buyers filed over 450,000 lawsuits in New York alone, winning default judgments against many workers. When these cases came to court only 1 percent of the debtors were represented by legal counsel.

The Star-Tribune points out that no national statistics are kept on arrested debtors in the US. “My suspicion is the debt collection industry does not want the world to know these arrests are happening, because the practice would be widely condemned,” said Robert Hobbs, deputy director of National Consumer Law Center in Boston.

“We have created a de facto debtors prison system in the United States that is largely unconstitutional,” said Judith Fox, a law professor at Notre Dame Law School. “In some parts of the country, people are so fearful of arrest they are scrambling to pay money they might not even owe,” she concluded.

Haekyung Nielsen, 27, of Bloomington, Minnesota, told the Star-Tribune that police arrived with a civil arrest at her home two weeks after giving birth through Caesarean section. A debt buyer had sent her court papers for an old credit card debt while she was in the hospital. “To send someone to arrest me two weeks after a massive surgery that takes most women eight weeks to recover from was just unbelievable,” she said.

The Minneapolis paper also noted the tendency for bail to be set at the judgment amount, the court-defined amount of debt. The Star-Tribune spoke to Judge Robert Blaeser, Hennepin County court civil division, who said that linking bail to debt streamlines the process. Creditors, in most cases credit card companies, are then able to petition the courts for the money.

They cite the case of Vee, a highway construction worker who was arrested on afternoon in February while driving his teenage daughter home from school. “As he was being cuffed, Vee said his daughter, who has severe asthma, started hyperventilating from the stress. ‘All I kept thinking about was whether she was all right, if she was using her inhaler,’ he said. From the jail, Vee made a collect call to his landlord who promised to make his bail. It was $1,875.06, the exact amount of a credit card debt.

The court system collected his debt on behalf of the credit card company, but Vee—like many others—continues to be traumatized by the experience. He still has unpaid medical and credit card bills and owes $40,000 on an old second mortgage. He told the Star-Tribune that the sight of a squad car in his rearview mirror fills him with anxiety, “Are the cops going to arrest me again...? So long as I’ve got unpaid bills, the threat is there,” he concluded.

The legal threat of a bench warrant against debtors is not new. What is new is the huge, highly capitalized and aggressive debt-buying and collection business. These middle men enable the credit card companies and the large banks that underwrite them to first “charge off” the debt, e.g., write it down as a business loss, then to sell the debt to the next tier of debt buyer.

According to the court data accessed by the Star-Tribune, three debt buyers—Unifund, CCR Partners Portfolio Recovery Associates and Debt Equities LLC—account for 15 percent of all debt-related arrest warrants issued in Minnesota since 2005.

The publicly-traded debt-buyers purchase old debt for pennies on the dollar (some of it past the statute of limitations) and then use teams of lawyers to collect the debt. In many cases the debt is impossible to verify. The National Consumer Law Center estimates that 1 in 10 debt-buyers’ lawsuits are based on inaccurate information.

The Star-Tribune reports that the top 10 debt-buyers in Minnesota obtained more than $223 million in court judgments from 2005 to 2009. This represents tens of thousands of individuals who are squeezed mercilessly for their last discretionary dollar. Jail is just the most extreme of the measures used to this end.

Meanwhile, debt-buyers are handsomely rewarded for their service to the financial industry, the large banks and the credit card companies. For debt-buyers profits have never been better. Portfolio Recovery Associates earned $44 million last year, an almost unheard-of 16 percent net profit margin.

In the first quarter of 2010 Portfolio’s profits skyrocketed even higher, with a net income increase of 47 percent. They are not alone. San Diego-based accounts receivable management company Encore Capital Group increased net income 21 percent or $.44 per share. These firms showed significant gains in all divisions—collection agency outsourcing, call centers, legal collections and bankruptcy servicing.


Obama’s toothless bank “reform” to become law
By Barry Grey
16 July 2010
The US Senate on Thursday passed the administration’s financial regulatory overhaul, paving the way for Obama to sign the measure into law next week. The House of Representatives had passed the bill on June 30.

The vote on the bill was 60 to 39, with Republicans Scott Brown (Massachusetts), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) joining 57 Democrats in voting “yes.” Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, on the grounds that it was insufficiently tough.

The final bill, the product of intensive lobbying by the banking industry, is even weaker than the version approved by a House-Senate conference committee on June 25. In order to obtain the three Republican votes necessary to block a Republican filibuster and bring the bill to the floor for a vote, the administration and the Democratic congressional leadership agreed to drop a $19 billion levy on big banks and hedge funds to pay for the implementation of the bill, and to further water down restrictions on the ability of commercial banks to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds.

The resulting bill, widely described in the media as the most sweeping financial reform since the 1930s, represents a full-scale capitulation to Wall Street. Nearly two years after the major banks and financial firms drove the financial system and the economy as a whole into the ground through their reckless profiteering and speculation, the so-called “reform” avoids any genuine reform of the financial system and places no serious restraints on the activities of the most powerful financial companies.

In important respects, it increases the power of the biggest banks and sets the stage for even more frenzied speculation and risk-taking. As a former US Treasury official told Newsweek magazine last month, “We’ve consolidated the position of the five banks that were most central to the crisis.”

Obama hailed the passage of the bill Thursday afternoon, declaring, “Because of this reform, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts—period.”

He hastened to reassure Wall Street, saying, “The financial industry is central to our nation’s ability to grow, to prosper and to innovate.”

Virtually nobody on Wall Street and few in Washington believe that the bill’s patchwork of half-measures will prevent further taxpayer bailouts down the road. The most important innovation contained in the measure is the establishment of a so-called “resolution authority,” whereby the Treasury and the Federal Reserve will be able to seize and wind down any large financial company whose failure would threaten the stability of the financial system as a whole.

The bill authorizes the allocation of pubic funds to pay for the operation, without congressional approval, with the proviso that the major banks would subsequently be taxed to defer some of the cost.

This amounts to the institutionalization of financial rescue operations, instead of the ad hoc methods employed in the fall of 2008. The procedure is being put into place precisely because the regulatory overhaul fails to impose any real restrictions on the speculative activities of the banks.

In assessing the bill, it is useful to start with what it does not do. It does not break up the mega-banks that control an ever-greater share of deposits, assets and profits.

It does not restore the legal wall between commercial banking and investment banking, a central reform carried out during the Depression of the 1930s to prevent deposit-taking commercial banks from engaging in the high-risk speculation that is the bread and butter of investment banks and brokerages. The weakening and final removal of this wall in 1999 during the Clinton administration encouraged the wave of speculation and swindling that led to the collapse in September 2008.

It does not cap executive compensation.

It does not eliminate or seriously limit trading in derivatives, the complex and opaque financial instruments that played a central role in the collapse of American International Group (AIG) and threatened to topple the entire banking system.

Instead, the bill sets up what some have called a Potemkin village of regulatory structures with little real substance, which Wall Street banks will have little difficulty manipulating and gaming. For the most part, the details concerning how much capital banks must hold in reserve, what percentage of their capital they can invest in hedge funds, which types of derivatives will be forced onto clearinghouses and exchanges and which will continue to be traded in the “shadow banking system,” etc. will be determined by the various regulatory agencies.

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday cited a law firm’s estimate that the new bill mandates at least 243 new federal rule-makings. The US Chamber of Commerce puts the number at 533.

In practice, this means that any provisions that threaten to hamper the profit-making activities of the banks can, and in all likelihood will be watered down to the point of irrelevance in the rule-making process. As the Journal pointed out, the massive lobbying carried out thus far by the banks will only grow more intense in the rule-making phase that follows formal enactment of the bill into law.

The process of drafting the bill has exemplified the corruption and bribery that pervade the US political system, and the domination of Congress, the White House and both political parties by the financial elite. The banks have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to lobby congressmen and senators, and spent millions more to bribe them in the form of campaign donations. Much of the 2,300-page bill was directly or indirectly dictated by Wall Street lawyers and lobbyists in closed-door meetings with Democratic officials.

The measure is being referred to as the Dodd-Frank bill, after its main congressional sponsors—Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (Democrat from Connecticut) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (Democrat from Massachusetts). These two long-time legislators are among the biggest beneficiaries of the largess of the financial industry.

Dodd’s single biggest campaign contributor has been Citigroup. The securities and investment industry has been his biggest source of funds, over $6 million during his Senate career.

Frank’s top contributor has been the American Bankers Association, followed by JPMorgan Chase.

The New York Times on Thursday published an article that provides a sense of how pervasive and shameless the process of bribery and vote selling has been. It reports that the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating eight congressmen—five Republicans and three Democrats—who raised a combined $405,000 from the financial sector in the six weeks leading up to the December 11, 2009 vote in the House of Representatives on the House’s version of the bank regulation bill.

More than a third of this total ($140,000) was collected in the ten days before the vote. The article points out that the money was solicited by the lawmakers, who in some cases shifted their votes to accord with the desires of the banking lobby. Some congressmen went directly from debates in the House on the bill to fundraisers hosted by bank lobbyists.

The Times suggests that the eight congressmen being investigated were only the most flagrant in selling their votes for cash, and that such efforts were commonplace. The newspaper writes: “But the practice of soliciting donations in the midst of legislative debates remains common. In fact, dozens of members not included in the current ethics inquiry scheduled their own fund-raising events in the weeks before the House vote, many of them taking donations from financial services companies.”


World Socialist Web Site
Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)
As Congress, Obama stall action
US jobless benefit cutoff to hit three million
By Patrick Martin
16 July 2010
More than three million unemployed workers will have lost jobless benefits by the end of this month. Some 2.5 million have already been cut off since the federal program for extending unemployment compensation beyond 26 weeks expired June 1.

An analysis published Thursday in USA Today estimated the number of those to be cut off by the end of July at 3 million. A separate study by the National Employment Law Project put the figure at 3.2 million.

Even if the long-delayed legislation is finally taken up July 20, the new date announced Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, it would only authorize an extension of jobless benefits through the month of November. Once the congressional election is safely past, there is little doubt that both Democrats and Republicans will agree to terminate the extended benefits program altogether.

The Obama administration is responding to this monumental social catastrophe with complete indifference. When extended benefits first expired in June, Obama devoted one Saturday radio/Internet speech to the topic. White House lobbying efforts for the past month have been focused on Senate passage of the financial reform bill, which does nothing to punish those responsible for the economic crisis or prevent another disaster in the future.

The sums involved in the banking bill dwarf the $34 billion cost of restoring extended jobless benefits. A single concession to Senator Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican who demanded that a new tax on hedge funds be dropped, was worth $19 billion.

The failure to extend jobless benefits in the midst of a deep recession is unprecedented since the program first assumed its modern form after World War II. In every recession since then, an extension of unemployment benefits has received bipartisan congressional approval as an emergency measure—i.e., without any offsetting budget cuts or tax increases to pay for it—whenever the unemployment rate was higher than 7.2 percent. The current US rate, which grossly underestimates the actual jobless toll, is 9.5 percent.

In the current slump, extensions of unemployment benefits were enacted in a similar fashion until the beginning of 2010, when first a handful, then nearly all Senate Republicans began demanding that the extended benefits should not add to the federal budget deficit. This was combined with the defection of key right-wing Democrats whose votes were needed from time to time to sustain a filibuster.

Neither Reid nor Obama put any special pressure on those senators, Republican and Democrat, whose opposition was responsible for cutting off millions of the most vulnerable in American society—long-term jobless workers.

This category has swelled until it embraces more than half the army of unemployed workers in America. The average duration of unemployment is now 35 weeks, compared to the 26-week basic benefit provided by the states. Federally funded extended benefits are required to bridge the gap.

According to the USA Today report, “Unemployment insurance has played a bigger role in this recession—the longest since the Great Depression—than in previous downturns… This extraordinary response has helped as many as 11 million people at one time—a record—while driving the program’s cost to an annual rate of $145 billion in the first quarter.”

The total annual cost of unemployment compensation is thus less than the amount squandered on the war in Afghanistan alone. It is one-quarter the size of the Pentagon budget, and less than 20 percent of the funds allocated by Congress for the bailout of Wall Street.

The amount paid out in benefits varies greatly from state to state, but it barely exceeds $300 a week even in traditionally higher-paying states like New York, Michigan and California. It is less than half that level in many states in the South and Mountain West.

Extended benefits beyond the basic 26 weeks were the product of a series of separate congressional actions, including 53 weeks of emergency benefits, 13 weeks of additional benefits in states with a jobless rate over 6.5 percent, and 20 additional weeks in states with a jobless rate over 8 percent.

The result is that the expiration of extended benefits affects workers differently from state to state.

But the impact is disastrous everywhere. According to a study by Harvard University economist Raj Chetty, the median net savings of a newly unemployed American worker is only $250. In other words, for the typical worker, loss of his or her job means instant and crushing economic want, if not an immediate plunge into poverty.

A report issued Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute points out that jobless benefits, both basic and extended, have been one of the principal supports for the US economy in the current slump. Spending of benefits by jobless workers is responsible for the creation of 1.15 million jobs since 2007, the EPI states.

The EPI study found that during 2008, the last year for which such figures are complete, 21.2 million American workers experienced unemployment at some point, while the average monthly figure was 8.9 million. If the same proportion holds in 2010, an average monthly jobless figure of 15 million will mean at least 35 million people out of work at some point during the year.

Despite the claims of the Democratic and Republican parties, the Obama administration and the corporate-controlled media that an economic “recovery” is underway, the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for May showed that the number of job openings was 3.2 million. With 15 million out of work, the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings was 4.7 to one. This is triple the ratio before the recession started in 2007, and nearly double the worst point of the last recession, when the ratio hit 2.8 unemployed per job opening.

Other economic figures dispel the claims of recovery: manufacturing was reported down in June in two key regions, New York and Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the number of foreclosures in the United States topped 520,000 in the first six months of 2010 and are projected to exceed one million for the year, for the first time in American history.

The “recovery” is only for Wall Street and corporate profits, which have risen steadily for the past year and now stand at 5.7 percent above the level of late 2007, the start of the slump. Total profits of all US corporations were $1.59 trillion in the first quarter of 2010, according to the Commerce Department. The $34 billion cost of extended unemployment benefits works out to two days’ profits for corporate America.

Another yardstick for measuring the acute socio-economic polarization in America is reported Thursday by the Washington Post. “Corporate America is hoarding a massive pile of cash,” the newspaper notes. “It just doesn’t want to spend it hiring anyone. Nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash, roughly one-quarter more than at the beginning of the recession. And as several major firms report impressive earnings this week, the money continues to flow into firms’ coffers. Yet all the good news from big business hasn’t translated into much promise for jobless Americans, leading many to wonder: If corporations are sitting on so much money, why aren’t they hiring more workers?”

The newspaper—itself run by one of the largest media corporations—does not attempt a serious answer to this calculation. There is no doubt a deliberate calculation that high levels of unemployment are useful for bludgeoning the working class into accepting ever-lower levels of wages and benefits and ever worse forms of exploitation. Even more fundamental is the long-term crisis of profitability. American corporations increasingly look to speculation and other forms of financial parasitism, not production, as the more reliable source of profits.

The solution to the crisis of ever-growing joblessness and exploitation is clear: the resources of society, themselves the products of human labor, must be taken out of the hands of the capitalists and used for the benefit of the working people, beginning with an emergency program to provide every unemployed worker with a good-paying job.

The vast assets of the giant corporations and the super-rich must be placed at the disposal of society, and economic life reorganized to serve human needs, not private profit.


CALIFORNIANS DIVIDED ON ARIZONA LAW - But Do They Know How Much Illegals Really Cost???

Californians divided on Arizona immigration law
Justin Ho, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Friday, July 16, 2010

(07-16) 04:00 PDT Sacramento - --

A slight majority of Californians favor Arizona's controversial law that makes illegal immigration a state crime and allows police officers in the Grand Canyon state to question people's immigration status based on "reasonable suspicion," according to a Field Poll released today.

However, the results are close and clearly divided along partisan lines. California voters approve of the law by a 49 to 45 percent margin. A 62 percent majority of Democrats disapprove of the law, while 77 percent of Republicans said they favor the law.

"It's a very divided public here in California," said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. Opinions here are much more divided (than national opinions), and I would even say that the splits are wider."

The poll also gauged whether respondents who will vote in the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate elections support or oppose the Arizona law. Supporters of Democrats Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer largely oppose the law, and supporters of Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina favor the law.

Gubernatorial undecided voters generally favored the law, and Senate race undecided voters were roughly split.

Corey Cook, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, said that Californians' views on the Arizona law will probably have little effect on the two races. The real issue, Cook said, is how the candidates will deal with the immigration question.

Though Californians generally view illegal immigration unfavorably, the poll also found that respondents are less opposed to illegal immigration than those polled in 1982.

Cook also said the immigration issue requires a balancing act by Republicans as they try to both address conservative values and gain Latino support.

While most racial and ethnic groups that were polled generally favor the Arizona law, 71 percent of Latinos disapprove of the law.

Whitman, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, has made several efforts to appeal to Latino voters in recent weeks. She opposes the Arizona law, and recently published an essay in several bilingual newspapers highlighting her similarities with Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, on the immigration issue. The Brown campaign has challenged this claim.

Fiorina, a Republican challenging Boxer for the U.S. Senate seat, has come out in support of the law. The candidate recently criticized the Obama administration after the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the Arizona law. Because the lawsuit challenges Arizona's ability to regulate immigration as a state, Fiorina said the suit was inconsistent, telling KCBS radio and KPIX that the government "ought to be applying that standard consistently" with regard to San Francisco's sanctuary policies.

Moreover, most poll respondents have strong opinions about the Arizona law. Of the 62 percent of Democrats opposing the law, 49 percent said they strongly disapprove. Of the Republicans favoring the law, 64 percent said they strongly approve.

Some critics of the law, including several California cities, have called for a boycott of Arizona. San Francisco banned city employees from traveling to the state, and a resolution in the Legislature calling for a boycott is supported by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, among others.

Walter Stone, chairman of the political science department at UC Davis, said that the issue will be less relevant in the gubernatorial race because both candidates oppose the Arizona law.

"It may cause some Republicans to entertain doubts about Whitman, but the choice is still between Whitman and Brown," Stone said. "Party responsibility is a stronger force."

The poll was conducted between June 22 and July 5, surveying 1,390 registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

Field Poll results
California opinions on Arizona's immigration law:





Partisan divide:


of Democrats disapprove


of Republicans approve