Archive for July, 2011

Monopoly Get Out Of Jail Free Card by dysamoria

The United State’s debt crisis, caused by the legally enforceable maximum “debt ceiling” in the United States is reaching a point where the USA could default on it’s national debt. An unimaginable situation. Financial Armageddon would probably ensue.

The failure by Congressional Democrats and Republicans to reach a deal on cutting discretionary spending and raising the debt ceiling means that President Obama may be placed in a position where he has to envoke the antiquated Section 4 of the 14th Amendment.

Section 4 of the 14th Amendment (ratified on the 9th July 1868) to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

The 14th Amendment would therefore allow, by virtue of the words “validity of the United States public debt….shall not be questioned” President Obama to raise the debt ceiling of his own doing, without Congressional approval.

To do so would be a bold step.

Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, the second and third highest ranking Democrats in the House, and John Larson and Xavier Becerra, the chairman and co-chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, have said they would support Obama if he uses the amendment to avoid a default.

Senator John F. Kerry and Bill Clinton, the former president, have also supported the idea, with Clinton saying he would use the amendment “without hesitation and force the courts to stop me.’’

International debt holders, in particular China ($1tn +) who are the largest holders of US National Debt have expressed concern at the political crisis which has engulfed Washington.

To invoke the 14th Amendment, and therefore bypass Congress would be a drastic measure which would deviate from a longstanding constitutional convention whereby the debt ceiling of the United States is raised by vote of both Houses of Congress.

The 14th Amendment, ratified during the Reconstruction to ensure that the North could overcome Southern opposition to paying down Union war debts, has never been invoked by a president and has rarely been tested in court.

As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The 14th Amendment provides President Obama with a 143 year old “get out of jail free” card. Will he bold enough to use it?

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Figures from the Treasury (see Table 1.9) show that the NHS spent £101,985m from April 2010 to April 2011, down from £102,751m the previous year.

A real-terms cut of £766m.


Yet another promise broken……….

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The last week has been, without doubt, the best week of the Ed Miliband’s leadership of the Labour Party. With the Government in disarray over the recent revelations of phone hacking in the News of the World, Ed has succeeded in both setting the agenda on this issue, and winning the ensuing arguments.

In Prime Ministers Questions, Ed presented himself in a new light. In thoughtful, measured questioning, which is a trademark of his style, Ed slowly caused David Cameron to disintegrate.

Mr Miliband highlighted the “immoral and disgraceful” phone hacking by the News of the World. He drew Cameron into accepting the need for a public enquiry. He forced the Prime Minister into defending the acquisition of BSkyB by News International.

Finally, the Prime Minister was forced into accepting the error of his judgment in employing Andy Coulson. “I take full responsibility” were the words of choice. Those leave David Cameron open to serious and valid criticism should Andy Coulson be found guilty of the charges on which he has been arrested.

David Cameron has also bowed to the media and public pressure on him to take a harder stance against Rebekah Brooks. Ed Miliband, by calling on Rebekah Brooks to resign from News International, has forced David Cameron to admit that he would have accepted Mrs Brooks’ resignation if it had been offered to him.

Ed has all but defeated the Government on this issue, and in doing so has harnessed public opinion to great effect. Mr Miliband may have received criticism for bringing Tom Baldwin, formally of News International onto his own staff, but there is a significant difference.

When Mr Cameron employed Mr Coulson on behalf of the Government, he was aware of some of the practices at the News of the World when it was edited by Andy Coulson. These allegations show a serious error in judgment by the Prime Minister. Alan Rusbridger also claims to have told Nick Clegg in a face to face conversation about these allegations. This raises questions into Mr Clegg’s and the Liberal Democrats claims to be the only Party to resist the entreaties of News International.

By remaining calm and collected, and pressing the Prime Minister on a serious issue, Ed Miliband has bought the full force of public opinion against David Cameron and the Conservative-led Government.

 More of the same, please.

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Here is a statement from the Guardian, explaining what the Editor in Chief of the Guardian Group told Cameron and Clegg about Andy Coulson last February:

Before the general election the Guardian contacted all three party leaders to tell them of certain facts about Andy Coulson which the Guardian could not at that stage report.

In a telephone call around February 25th, Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz told the prime minister’s director of strategy Steve Hilton a number of details about the case of Jonathan Rees, a private detective who had worked for the News of the World, which the paper had been unable to publish due to ongoing legal proceedings. These included:

• Rees’s name – he had been described in a Guardianreport published online on February 24th and in the paper edition of February 25th only as “Mr A”

• The fact that he was awaiting trial for a murder in which the victim was found in a pub car park with an axe in his head

• The fact that Rees had been jailed for seven years for conspiring to frame a woman by placing cocaine in her car, after which he had been rehired by Coulson’s News of the World.

• The fact that Rees’s illegal activities on behalf of the News of the World had been prominently reported in the Guardian before he was rehired under Coulson.

None of these details was included in any report for several months until after the collapse of Rees’s trial in March 2011. The thrust of the conversation was that Rees was a murder suspect who had been involved in massive corruption on behalf of the News of the World of which Coulson could not have been unaware. The Guardian understands No 10 chief of staff Edward Llewelyn was informed of this conversation.

Downing Street’s reference to the private detective working for Panorama is baffling and irrelevant to how the Rees information was handled. There was no suggestion that Rees ever had any connection with Panorama until March 2011, many months after No 10 was told the details of the Rees case.

Staff at the very top in Downing Street knew the sort of activities that Andy Coulson was allegedly engaged in when Editor of the News of the World….

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The Guardian is today reporting that Andy Coulson, former Director of Communications to the Prime Minister is going to be arrested by the Metropolitan Police tommorow for his part in the phone hacking scandal.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, reports here that he was aware of how deeply Mr Coulson was involved in the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World, and that he informed David Cameron through an “emmisary”. Mr Rusbridger also states that he told Nick Clegg in a face to face conversation….

Mr Rusbridger states:

 Before the election it was common knowledge in Fleet Street that an investigator used by the NoW during Andy Coulson’s editorship was on remand for conspiracy to murder. We couldn’t report that due to contempt of court restrictions, but I thought it right that Cameron should know before he took any decisions about taking Andy Coulson into Number 10

I don’t think I was the only person to warn Cameron in advance about Coulson, incidentally.

Mr Coulson’s job title was officially given as “Downing Street’s Director of Communications”, and he was employed by HM Government, not Mr Cameron. His £475,000 contract with CCHQ was terminated when Mr Cameron moved into Downing Street.

Update: Andy Coulson was indeed arrested on charges of phone hacking and making illegal payments to policemen.

This seriously brings into question the conduct of Nick Clegg and David Cameron who knowingly employed someone at the heart of Government who may be arrested……

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