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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"I'd give them away but my wife won't let me!"

Bail 'em out?

Dennis Gartman on GM

From the Gartman letter...

Here in the US, the debate is over the massive expansion of the Obama Administration’s power… some might call it a power-grab, and we are amongst those who do… in the aftermath of the “decision” by Mr. Wagoner to stand down as GM’s CEO over the weekend.

When we wrote yesterday’s TGL in the middle of the night we knew only of Mr. Wagoner’s resignation, which we accepted at face value as his decision to accept responsibility for the horrid path that GM has taken during his tenure in office. After all, GM stock was $70 when he became CEO; it is $2/share now. This is hardly the performance of a great leader, and certainly it warranted his removal. Indeed, we think that Mr. Wagoner was symptomatic of the problems that Detroit was incapable of overcoming: corporate incestuousness that kept repeating the same mistakes time and time and time again. After all, only Detroit could give us the Pontiac Aztec… the modern day equivalent of the Edsel... only materially and massively worse, and much, much uglier!

Now, however, we know that he, along with the entire Board of Directors, was forced to stand down by the Obama Administration. We have scanned through our copy of the Constitution that we keep by our desk at all times for easy reference, and nowhere in its main body, nor in the Amendments, can we find reference to the Federal government’s right to seek control of a business and to run it on behalf of the people of the country.

We are not legal scholars here at TGL, and we are open to arguments by such scholars proving the constitutionality of what the Administration has done, but in our reading of the work by the Founding Fathers and by their antecedents we find it not. This decision frightens us. What then is to stop the Administration from seizing control of some utility because the company’s carbon footprint is larger than the Administration wishes it to be? What is to stop the Administration from taking control of a corporation because its debt structure is too leveraged, according to Administration guidelines? What is to stop the Administration from taking control of a company because it has not met Administration demands on affirmative action? At first these appear to be reductio ad absurdum cases… but are they really, in light of the GM decision?

Indeed these are questions I asked.

On becoming more like Europe

Liberals ... oops ...Professives are always trying to get the US to look more like Europe. We're on the way in so many ways.

Government Motors Giving Itself an Advantage

From a major investment firm:

New management means a new plan. GM is announcing a new marketing program it is calling "GM Total Confidence". GM is also offering what amounts to a partial insurance program for car payments in case of job loss. If a car buyer loses their income (that is to say, is qualified for unemployment benefits) within 24 months of purchasing a GM vehicle, GM will make as many as 9 payments for up to $500/month. There is also a sales incentive package with GM offering to pay the balance owed on trade-in vehicles. This is on top of other incentives such as 0% financing. A new warranty covers 5 years and 100,000 miles (thanks apparently to the federal government).

When you have the US Treasury behind you you can load on as many features and benefits as you want.

It may not be legal, but who’s going to stop him?

Rush Limbaugh had a caller on today who asked the question: what gave Obama the power to fire the chairman and the board of directors of GM; and replace the chairman with his own pick? Rush rightly called this a

...junior high school understanding of civics101...

and answered

“Who's to stop him?”

But this is precisely the sort of question that I would expect to be asked by most thinking people.

Following the weekend firing of GM’s chairman and board, the only issues I hear being discussed is the wisdom of this take-over. Is it good for the auto industry? Is it fair to the unions? Why just fire the chairman of GM and not the heads of major banks? Should the head of GM's union be fired? Is the government any good at running a car company? How is this affecting the polls?

Can go back to the caller’s question? What inherent or legislative power did Obama exercise? Or is the assumptions that Obama can pretty much do anything he wants because there’s nobody to stop him?

Is the argument being made that the government is a major creditor of the auto companies and therefore can take over? Is that the law? The last I heard, removal of a board requires a vote of shareholders. Last I heard only a board of directors can fire a chairman.

Perhaps there would be a greater outcry of Obama was firing the head of a university, or a law firm, a sports team, or a movie studio? Would the lawprofs at the Volokh Conspiracy (recent post:The Right To Keep and Bear Arms and People Who Say They Feel Like Killing Others and Themselves) take note?

Where did Obama attain his Venezuelan dictatorial powers?

What worries me is that my interpretation of history shows that most dictators rode into power and exercised their powers with the overwhelming approval of the people. Stated another way, their polls were high. Courage to stand against popular opinion os not the hallmark of the

I have often said that there is no inherent difference between Americans and people from other countries. In fact most American or their ancestors are from other countries. But there has always been in American civic life a thread of individuality, a demand for individual freedom, a reverence for the ideals of the founding documents that other countries and cultures lack.

That common culture of freedom is now under its greatest test in over a century. The next few years will determine if this is forever lost. And when the proper questions are not being asked about the exercise of unprecedented government power in civilian affairs, I’m concerned that this culture is failing the test.

British Police Prevent Rescue of Burning Family

Via Belmont Club's Richard Fernandez...

The Times Online described a conflagration where the British police kept neighbors back from attempting a rescue of people screaming for help from a burning house for reasons of “health and safety”. The police defended their actions saying they were just trying to prevent more people from getting hurt.

A pregnant woman, her husband and their three-year-old son were killed in a house fire early yesterday as police who arrived before the fire brigade prevented neighbours from trying to save them. The woman screamed: “Please save my kids” from a bedroom window and neighbours tried to help but were beaten back by flames and were told by police not to attempt a rescue….

Davey Davis, 38, a friend of the family, said: “It was the most harrowing thing I have ever witnessed. Michelle was at the bedroom window yelling, ‘Please save my kids’ and we wanted to help but the police were pushing us back and not allowing us near. We were willing to risk our lives to save those kiddies but the police wouldn’t let us. “Tempers were running very high, particularly with the women who were there, but the police were just saying we have to wait for the fire brigade because of health and safety.

“There were four or five police officers. They were here before the fire brigade. We heard the sirens and we came across to help but they wouldn’t let us.

and from the Times Online...
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “The senior officer in charge is confident we handled this incident as professionally as possible. In a situation like that you could end up with more deceased bodies than you had in the first place.”

Let me repeat: The senior officer in charge is confident we handled this incident as professionally as possible

He decided he was not going to do anything heroic, and made sure that no one else would either. He is one of C.S. Lewis' Men Without Chests. Perfectly logical, a follower of the rules, and prefectly willing to see a family of three burn without rescue.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama's Industrialists - part 2

Can we stipulate that someone with the power to fire a man runs the organization in which that man works? I really don’t care that Obama claims that he does not want to run GM. In fact he does. He is the decider of who manages the company and that makes him the boss. But he did more than fire the chairman of GM, he fired most of the board of directors who are nominally superior to the chairman.

What I find chilling, is that the discussion among the talking heads, the opinion makers and opinion shapers, focuses on the effectiveness of Obama’s actions. Good God almighty, does no one care about the fact that the president of the United States just took over a major corporation? General Motors is now effectively an arm of the US government, just as I.G Farben – while ostensibly a private company – was essentially an arm of the German government.

And Tim Geithner is demanding the right to seize all non-financial companies.

Perhaps my concerns are overwrought. But each day that passes makes them seem less so.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama's "Industrialists"

There is something more than a little unsettling when a government and industry collaborate. Government is all about political power … and the use of force against those who refuse to cooperate. Industry is all about economic activity and, in free societies; it is closer to the individual. Business, after all, provides most of us our jobs, our income, our career paths. When business and government combine they form effectively fascist societies; combining the economic power or industry with the coercive power of the state.

Obama invited the heads of the major US banks to a meeting in the White House recently, and they came. They had no choice; the government is either a majority or minority stakeholders in their companies.

Beyond the banks, the Obama government is demanding the power to seize all non-bank companies that could, in its sole opinion, damage the economy. Keep in mind that the government already has the power to seize banks via the FDIC. By defining the seizure power to "non-banks" the government is literally asking for power to seize ANY company. Tim Geithner’s rationale is that this power could have prevented the AIG problem. But it is not at all clear how the government could have prevented AIG from imploding when it failed to do so with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two quasi governmental organizations over which the government had oversight. And the power that the government is demanding in it's power to seize "non-banks" is not limited to AIG-like corporations. Based on Geithner’s testimony, the power the government is demanding will give it the power to seize General Electric, General Motors, Boeing, Exxon and any other major corporation.

The concerns about this seizure of power by government are not theoretical. Historians, especially historians of the Left are constantly reminding us that Hitler had the support of German “industrialists.” Here is the testimony of those industrialists and their co option by the Nazi regime.

  • Leaders of industry are invited to the capital and given a speech by the head of government. Check.
  • Leaders of industry were warned of the dangers to the country if not properly addressed. Check.
  • Leaders of industry praise the wise measures taken by the government to meet the threat. Check.
  • Leaders of industry pledge overwhelming support of government aims. Check
  • Leaders of industry lead their enterprises for no compensation. Well, is $1 a year close enough?
  • Industry that does not cooperate can be seized on the pretext that is is a threat to the economy. Working on that.

Have we had our Reichstag fire yet?

UPDATE: Thanks for the link Glenn.
Glenn Reynolds referred to my post as "Perhaps a bit overwrought..." but his very next post is about
GM’s CEO Resigns At Obama’s Behest. What do you call it when the private companies are nominally independent, but do whatever the government wants? Not capitalism...

Let's see, what would you call a society in which the President of a country fires the Chairman of a Company? Maybe we should re-read Jonah Goldberg's latest book.

MORE “SMART DIPLOMACY:” The country’s in the very best of hands.

Glenn Reynolds links to a post on referring to the fact that Hillary Clinton made a gaffe in her visit to Mexico.

I thought I’d wait to write this post until I saw mainstream media coverage of one particular aspect of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. And then, thousands of stories about the visit to Mexico later, I realized that the press wasn’t going to be covering it.

Which, assuming this story is true, says a lot about the media. Here’s how Catholic News Agency reported the most recent diplomatic gaffe:

During her recent visit to Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unexpected stop at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and left a bouquet of white flowers “on behalf of the American people,” after asking who painted the famous image.

You can read more about Guadalupe here, but Roman Catholics believe that the beautiful image was miraculously imprinted on the cloak of a 16th-century peasant. It is Mexico’s most popular and important religious image and the basilica that houses it is the second-most popular Catholic shrine in the world.

Here are the details of the exchange:

Msgr. Monroy took Mrs. Clinton to the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been previously lowered from its usual altar for the occasion.

After observing it for a while, Mrs. Clinton asked “who painted it?” to which Msgr. Monroy responded “God!”

Now, it’s one thing to not know what the Catholic Church teaches about Guadalupe. But it’s another for the State Department not to have briefed Clinton prior to her visit. Of course, those are political considerations.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse ...

I'll say that I didn't know this story myself, but I do think that if I was representing our country and visiting any cultural site, I'd have somebody telling me what I needed to know not to look stupid from the perspective of those whose respect I wanted.

Anyway, think how much worse it could have gone. I'm picturing this:

Who painted it?


Ha ha ha. No really. Who painted it?


Ha ha ha. You people kill me. Come on. Seriously.


Look. I have seen paintings that were done by ordinary mortals. Leonardo. Raphael. Michelangelo. If God were going to suddenly make a painting, wouldn't it be... uh... you know... better?

The comments on the thread are predictable. Some question whether this actually happened at all, or is simply a lie promulgated by CNS (the Catholic New Service). It took someone a few minutes to get two additional sources from Mexican newspapers. Here’s one:

“¡Oh!, ¿quién la pintó?”, preguntó asombrada Hillary Clinton al ver el cuadro de la Virgen de Guadalupe.

Translation (via WordLing)

“ Oh! , who painted it? ”, it asked astonished to Hillary Clinton when seeing the picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Is this the end of the world? No. But it is one of a series of gaffes that the members of this administration are making indicating a group of people who are amateurish and that I would not want near the levers of power.

Ignorance of THE major cultural icon of Mexico when you set out to visit is stupid. Giving a SET OF CDs as a gift to Britain’s Prime minister (ignoring the fact that the CDs cannot be played on British equipment) is either a deliberate insult or incredibly low class. Obama and his verbal crutch, the teleprompter, has become a rather funny joke and spawned a website. Telling the Special Olympics joke on Jay Leno exhibits a brand of careless frat boy cruelty that’s off-putting in a President. The tax problems of Obama’s appointees seem to indicate that his kind of people are more apt than usual to believe that laws are for little people.

And let’s not even go into his friends, associates and pastors before he became president.

If we had a president who just wanted to revel in the perks of office, this may be tolerable. But instead we have someone who appears to believe that he has the wisdom to transform America, re-write the constitution, and turn the country into a quasi-Fascist state.

That’s when gaffes become an issue.

Quantum of Soros

Signals of a Strange Universe

I am confident that the universe is stranger than many scientists even guess.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Oliphat: AntiSemite

This could be from the Nazi era Der Sturmer.

It's not. It's by the Pulitzer Prize winner and reliably Liberal Pat Oliphant.

The Other McCain: Thoughts on the 'Ransom-Note Method' and the Twelfth Commandment

The Other McCain: Thoughts on the 'Ransom-Note Method' and the Twelfth Commandment

How We Got Here - Part 1

Art Cashin is a governor of the NY Stock Exchange and has amazing insight into the way the financial engines of the world work. It is my privilege to read his comments every morning.

Here is his explanation of the financial mess we are working our way through.

With all the finger pointing and acrimonious "us and them" about, we thought it would be helpful to look back and find out how we got swept into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The following is an amalgam of observations by several members of the FoF [Friends of Fermentation] over several evenings of marinating.

As many believe, a driving force in this process was greed. Somewhat perversely, however, the greed was on both sides of the transaction.

Let's set the background. Overall, interest rates had remained low from the mid-nineties on. There were a variety of reasons for this phenomenon. First, was a nearly back to back series of financial shocks. There was the collapse of the Thai Baht followed by the Russian Ruble followed by Long Term Capital Management. At each one, the Fed and other central banks responded by flooding the system with liquidity. And, the crises came so hard upon each other that the banks could not drain the liquidity before having to add more for the next crisis. Then came Y2K. Central banks worried that the public might hoard cash fearing a Y2K collapse of ATMs, bank records, etc. To prepare for the drain that this hoarding might cause, they added yet more liquidity.

Shortly before Y2K actually began, the Fed, realizing there was no hoarding, began hiking rates to sop up all that liquidity. The hikes were a strain on the Bubble and it began to collapse. In response, the Fed began to cut again and then, along came 9/11. The concern was that a fear of terrorism could kill the economy. That fear permeated Washington. Recall that when President Bush was asked – "What can the people do for the country in this crisis?" He simply replied "Go shopping." The message was not lost on Fed. They kept lowering rates. Americans would not be fooled twice, however. They would not rush back to the stock market. They'd put the new liquidity in something "safe" – something like "real estate."

Central banks didn't feel much pressure to raise rates since inflation was basically dormant. They wondered why such huge liquidity had not sparked rounds of inflation. Mr. Greenspan attributed it to an amazing and unusual growth in "productivity." It was productivity alright – but it was Chinese productivity. At very low wages, they produced low cost goods which they sold to U.S. consumers, holding down prices and thus inflation. Further, the Chinese recycled the money by buying a swelling pile of U.S. Treasuries – further holding down yields. So, with no sign of inflation, the Fed kept rates very low, very long.

Now, if you are a pension fund manager these low yields on bonds were causing you problems. Without a better yield, you might be under-funded which might cause you to be unemployed. Seeking better yielding alternatives to Treasuries and corporate bonds, they began to look at those recently new instruments – mortgage backed securities.

This was the picture the pension managers (and other bond buyers found). The packages were made up of different mortgages, which gave an image of safety through diversification. There was a small bit of subprime in the package to "juice up the yield." The ratings agencies (who got paid by the packagers) pronounced the packages to be AAA.

So, the bond buyers began to buy and, early on, it worked just as planned. Everyone from pension managers to bond arbitrageurs loved them. They loved them so much they asked for more – and more – and more. That led the packagers (banks and brokerages) to ask the mortgage writers to get more and more mortgages. That's when things began to fall apart.

In the early years of growing demand for packages, mortgage writers cut rates and cut down payments to sell mortgages. They quickly used up nearly all qualified home buyers while they created a huge housing boom. Yet the demand for the packages grew and grew. (Get me more. I love the yield.) At the same time, Congress was pressing Fannie and Freddie to make mortgages "more available."

The packagers, or syndicators pressed hard for more mortgages to package to meet the demand. The conventional mortgage lenders began to lower standards to expand the target audience (and comply with Congress). The nonconventional lenders threw out almost all standards. Some even began to pay people to apply for mortgages. Some had no income, no job or assets. (The so called Ninja mortgage).

So the greed of the buyers and of packagers fed on each other. A once very viable product became tainted like meat rushed out to meet holiday demand without being fully checked for bacteria. Soon it would bring a fear that would poison the whole system. And, to help grease the skids, FASB 157, the accounting rule to enforce "mark to market" was put in effect November 15, 2007, less than a month after the Dow made its all time high. Talk about ringing a bell at the top.

So let's review how we got here. The Fed held rates artificially low for a very long time. That created an almost insatiable demand for yield which crowded into mortgage CDO's. The demand caused packagers to sharply lower standards to levels well below those used in the computer models that the validity of the packages was based upon. The rating agencies seemed to just rubber stamp the paper.

The fatal flaw in syndication was exposed. Without recourse or look back, the original mortgage lender had no liability. With no "skin in the game", there was no motivation to properly vet the mortgages. The motivation was just the opposite. Move as much paper as you can, book the profits and do it again. Add to all of the above, the imposition of a poorly thought out mark to market rule that would turn a few problems into a massive chain reaction. That's how we got here.

"...this new era of transparency and accountability..."

An internal e-mail at a global investment bank commenting on TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) ....

Tsy Sec Geithner was asked twice this week about how much money was left in TARP. The WSJ reports this morning that according to Dow Jones News calculations show only $52.6bln is left in TARP - at best. That is about 92% already committed - so what is left to rid bank balance sheets of toxic assets. The Tsy Dept has not yet provided an official accounting total in this new era of transparency and accountability and regulation for everyone else.

As Barry would say "That was a campaign promise."

The Media's New Spin on the Economy

Ideally, the press would relate the facts of what happened in the world today.

Because that task is beyond the ability of anyone, the press filters the news so that we are not overwhelmed by facts. Therefore, one of the functions of the press is to tell us what “news” is. This filtering is the first source of bias in delivery of facts to people. The other function they perform is to put facts in context. By doing so they tell us how to think about things.

As a consumer of financial information, I enjoy reading a newsletter by John Mauldin, an author, investor and commentator with an outstanding reputation. I was struck by this passage from his most recent e-Letter (March 28, 2009)

I opened the Wall Street Journal and read that new home sales were up in February. Bloomberg reported that sales were "unexpectedly" up by 4.7%. I was intrigued, so I went to the data. As it turns out, sales were down 41% year over year, but up slightly from January.

But if you look at the data series, there was nothing unexpected about it. For years on end, February sales are up over January. It seems we like to buy homes in the spring and summer and then sales fall off in the fall and winter. It is a very seasonal thing. If you use the seasonally adjusted numbers, you find sales were down 2.9% instead of up 4.7%. But the media reports the positive number. Interestingly, they report the seasonally adjusted numbers for initial claims, which have been a lot better than the actual numbers. Not that they are looking to just report positive news, you understand.

I think that Mauldin may be taking a not-so-sly dig at the MSM for putting the economic news in a positive context now that the economy has the potential of becoming a liability for Obama. The upcoming earnings for the 1st and 2nd quarters are apt to be very, very ugly. But as a result of all the “free” money thrown at the big banks, the MSM may have the opportunity to tell us that the financial crisis is behind us if Citi or B of A report a quarterly profit. Under those conditions, Team Obama and the hapless Geithner will become Superstars again rescuing America from the Perils of Pauline.

From Mauldin's letter:

Plus, as my friend Barry Ritholtz points out, the 4.7% rise was "plus or minus 18.3%". That means sales could have risen as much as 23% or dropped 13%. We won't know for awhile until we get real numbers and not estimates. Hanging your outlook for the economy or the housing market on one-month estimates is an exercise in futility, and could come back to embarrass you.

I would not start celebrating just yet.

Tales of Totus, the President’s Teleprompter

Peter Baker at the NY Times writes an article about Obama's teleprompter. It's really a defense of Obama as much as a commentary on an item that has been much discussed on the Internet.


Notice anything missing from Tuesday night’s presidential news conference? Those teleprompters that generated so much attention at President Obama’s first prime-time session with reporters were gone. Or actually, just out of sight.

The White House replaced the tall, thin teleprompters that were standing to Mr. Obama’s right and left in the East Room a month ago and instead set up a large screen behind the reporters – and out of the camera shot. “Remarks of President Barack Obama Press Conference Tuesday March 24 2009 Washington DC,” it said as journalists arrived.

As a result of the change, Mr. Obama looked straight into the camera as he delivered his opening statement, allowing him to address tens of millions of viewers more directly. The screen only displayed his prepared remarks at the start of the session and offered no assistance when it came time to answer questions, so for most of the session he still appeared to be addressing the reporters in the room even though his message was really intended for those watching at home.

But read the comments. Baker is attacked for even bringing the subject up.

And the MSM wonders why they aren’t getting called on in pressers? Maybe it’s because they’re all doing stories on things like teleprompters. Here’s betting that the questions the President gets & answers in the online townhall are far better and far more representative of Americans questions & concerns than anything he gets from the MSM.


What a waste of time… one cares about this but the nit picking corporate media talking heads


Why is NYT writing about this stuff. This is stupid. ...


Why is the MSM picking up right-wing talking points?


It is really pathetic when the press lets themselves get lead around by the nose by the RW freaks.

Well, you understand that this is the NY Times readership.

I left also left a comment (awaiting moderator approval)...

“Leave Brittany …. sorry …. Barack …. alone.”

That’s what went though my mind reading all the whining by the defenders of “The Big O.”

Isn’t it time for a video?

The "smartest people in the room" who supported Obama still don't get it. Via Mark Steyn ...

Mark Steyn: Missing the point.

The Economist is the latest of the smart guys to notice that President Obama is proving strangely unlike the guy they told us he was back in late October: ...

The geniuses then go on to explain why this is: first, he hasn't "grappled" with the economy as singlemindedly as he should; second, he hasn't managed his relations with Congress very well. Jennifer Rubin gently explains what the smart guys have missed:


This is the point: The nuancey boys were wrong on Obama, and the knuckledragging morons were right. There is no post-partisan centrist "grappling" with the economy, only a transformative radical willing to make Americans poorer in the cause of massive government expansion. At some point, The Economist, Messrs Brooks, Buckley & Co are going to have to acknowledge this. If they're planning on spending the rest of his term tutting that his management style is obstructing the effective implementation of his centrist agenda, it's going to be a long four years.

It’s something that I have noticed in talking to my associates. Few people who were for Obama, on the fence, or willing to give him a chance are willing to support the policies that he is pursuing. Their defense of him amounts to a rejection of criticism. They turn the discussion to Bush. They believe that those who opposed Obama did not do so because they disagreed with his policies – as interpreted by his earlier positions and, by implication, by the people he associated with – but because of a personal animus.

It was never that, but it is fast becoming that. How can a person remain neutral toward someone who continues to use straw-man arguments, to offer false choices, and to remain supremely unconcerned about the destruction of the people’s wealth while loading a debt burden on the next generation that will be impossible to repay. Just as people, as moral agents, should not remain neutral in the face of evil men, we should not refrain from passing judgment on the person who is deliberately deconstructing America.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How does "Obama Youth Corp" sound to you?

With almost no public attention, both chambers of Congress in the past week advanced an alarming expansion of the Americorps national service plan, with the number of federally funded community service job increasing from 75,000 to 250,000 at a cost of $5.7 billion. Lurking behind the feel-good rhetoric spouted by the measure’s advocates is a bill that on closer inspection reveals multiple provisions that together create a strong odor of creepy authoritarianism.

Let's see: uniforms, a draft, indoctination, how about armbands and a salute?

Rahm Emanuel's profitable stint at mortgage giant

Short Freddie Mac stay made him at least $320,000

Freddie Mac was a piggie bank for Democrats who needed lots of money quickly for no work.

Before its portfolio of bad loans helped trigger the current housing crisis, mortgage giant Freddie Mac was the focus of a major accounting scandal that led to a management shake-up, huge fines and scalding condemnation of passive directors by a top federal regulator.

One of those allegedly asleep-at-the-switch board members was Chicago's Rahm Emanuel—now chief of staff to President Barack Obama—who made at least $320,000 for a 14-month stint at Freddie Mac that required little effort.

$320,000 for 14 months to attend 6 board meetings?

The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board's working committees, according to company proxy statements. Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate.

And this was during a time Freddie was cooking the books and bribing politicians:
On Emanuel's watch, the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass.

The accounting scandal wasn't the only one that brewed during Emanuel's tenure.

During his brief time on the board, the company hatched a plan to enhance its political muscle. That scheme, also reviewed by the board, led to a record $3.8 million fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago.

Here's a picture of the perp:

Now chief advisor to Obama. The country is in the very best hands.

Documents reveal the level of threats against AIG employees

This is the mob that the Democrats in Congress and Obama is leading.

"Get the bonus, we will get your children," someone identified only as "Jacob the Killer" hauntingly writes in an e-mail.

And that's the clean one.

Washington Post to offer new buyouts

And now some good news from the Washington Post.

More indications of financial stress at the NY Times: layoffs and salary cuts.

Bringing a smile to all of our faces:

The New York Times Company budget plans announced Thursday, including a temporary 5 percent pay cut for most employees, should avert newsroom staff cuts at the flagship Times newspaper this year, the executive editor, Bill Keller, said.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, announced a temporary 5 percent pay cut and furloughs for most employees in a meeting with the news staff Thursday afternoon.

The cuts were mandated for management and nonunion employees, and the Newspaper Guild has been asked to agree to them for those it represents on the newsroom staff. If the union does not agree, Mr. Keller said during a meeting of hundreds of staff members in the paper’s main newsroom, “we will face layoffs, probably on the order of 60 to 70 people,” out of almost 1,300 on the news staff.

Also on Thursday, The Times laid off 100 people in its business operations, and Mr. Keller said it would make other cuts, like reducing spending on freelancers by 10 to 15 percent and possibly consolidating some sections.

The planned 5 percent pay cut for nine months, coupled with an additional 10 days of leave, would apply to most employees at the largest units, including The Times and the corporate offices, and to most nonunion employees at The Boston Globe.

Across the company, advertising revenue fell 13.1 percent in 2008, and 17.6 percent in the fourth quarter. Executives declined to provide any 2009 figures, but said that so far the year has been worse than expected.

I think a bus tour of overpaid Times executive homes is in order.

Here's Sulzberger's NY City residence:

And here's his Long Island estate:

If you want a closer look at how this champion of the little guy lives, go to Google maps and enter 283 Gin Ln Southampton, NY and get an eyeful of how the people who controlled the political dialog in the country lived. The Sun King?

Obama’s bank plan could rob the taxpayer

Jeffrey Sach in the Financial Times:
The Geithner-Summers plan, officially called the public/private investment programme, is a thinly veiled attempt to transfer up to hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayer funds to the commercial banks, by buying toxic assets from the banks at far above their market value. It is dressed up as a market transaction but that is a fig-leaf, since the government will put in 90 per cent or more of the funds and the “price discovery” process is not genuine. It is no surprise that stock market capitalisation of the banks has risen about 50 per cent from the lows of two weeks ago. Taxpayers are the losers, even as they stand on the sidelines cheering the rise of the stock market. It is their money fuelling the rally, yet the banks are the beneficiaries.

Read the rest.

Prospect on Obama: "No he can't."

The wheels are already coming off Obama’s Trojan horse revolution. Will he, like Jimmy Carter, be seen as a one-term disaster?

Barack Obama was always going to disappoint. When you promise almost everything to almost everybody—I’ll stop the fighting in Iraq but I’ll also keep going after al Qaeda there; I’ll make the economy grow more but I’ll spread the wealth around, and so on—you will inevitably let many people down. Human beings, even those who read fluently from teleprompters, simply cannot walk on water. ...

Even the sympathetic press is starting to speak of an “incompetence” crisis. Abroad, North Korea, Russia, China and Iran have all turned up the heat, as have Hamas and Chavez. At home, Obama’s Trojan horse agenda—using the economic crisis as an excuse to advance radical social change in areas unrelated to returning growth to the economy—threatens to pull his government into ideological quicksand when all the public really want are jobs. Centrist Democrats are deeply concerned about what Obama’s poor start means for the long-term, moderate Democratic majority whose possibility was glimpsed in the Clinton years.

A president with historic ambitions was never going to be content with tackling a mere recession. Thus in his televised address before both houses of congress in February he delivered a special history lesson: “Our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank.” The current recession and housing and financial problems have deeper causes, he said. What are these underlying maladies that so badly need the shaman’s touch? The president named four: energy, healthcare, education and debt. The “day of reckoning” for ignoring these issues—and for exacerbating this failure with excessive borrowing—has arrived, he said.

Americans who concentrated on the president’s words rather than on their characteristically sonorous delivery found the diagnosis baffling. Education, energy and healthcare policy in the US, as almost anywhere, all need help. But are America’s flaws in these areas really the causes of the housing bust and the paralysed banking system? What about the cyclical contractions that follow all economic booms? What about a decade and more of absurdly cheap money? How about all that Fannie and Freddie-fuelled lending to inappropriate borrowers? What happened to lax oversight? What about greed, that comforting straw man? No, according to Obama, we are losing our jobs and being kicked out of our excessively mortgaged houses because America lacks universal healthcare, federally sponsored nursery school, university for all, and a progressive emissions-oriented energy policy.

Burt Prelusky on Obama: "Left wing nut," and Congress.

I have to hope for the sake of our country’s future that when people voted for Obama they really had no idea what a disaster he would be, even though I kept warning them that he was a left-wing lug nut. It seemed to me that his legion of fans had been hypnotized or sprinkled with fairy dust. They blindly accepted that words like “hope” and “change” were complete sentences that actually added up to a national policy.
How is it that nobody is demanding that 435 self-righteous congressmen and 100 arrogant senators give back their salaries? They’re the folks who not only oversaw a failing economy, but, thanks to pushing sub-prime home loans on people who didn’t have a pot to piss in, did the most to cause the financial calamity in the first place.

Read the rest.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deep Inside the JournoList

I have been reading about a bunch of Liberals who interact secretly to fellate each other and make catty remarks in a surprisingly sophomoric way about people outside their clique.

It's called the JournoList and one such series of encounters is found at Kausfiles.

JohnHuang2 in talks with Obama's Teleprompter, in hopes of bailout

From FreeRepublic...

"You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and I share the finger-pointing and outrage every bit as much as the finger-pointers and outragers," the Teleprompter said of the bonuses in its opening remarks. "I'm as angry as anybody about the bonuses immaculately conceived in the stimulus bill. In fact, I'm choking with anger here."

The Teleprompter then promptly plunged into ghastly detail: "When I first heard that bankers and executives on Wall Street were enriching themselves on taxpayers' dime, I could hardly breathe. Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling, 'I thought only presidents and Congress could do this!'" Then this heart-rending recollection: "I felt nothing but profound sadness and unresolved anger. I could barely speak to Obama and when I did it was a tirade. I read. I walked on the beach. He slept upstairs and I slept downstairs."

Yet, through it all, the Teleprompter didn't seem angry. Nor did it sound like a pitchfork-wielding populist. Indeed, it was a carefully modulated statement, and the Teleprompter, relying on a familiar crutch -- Obama -- fed the speech and answers and the cerebral 'ums' and 'uhs' to him while perched at the back of the East Room.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Soros Profiting from Your Loss

If you were upset by the AIG executives, what is your reaction to George Soros? While Barack Obama was talking down the economy and investors saw their portfolios cut in half, Soros and three other hedge fund managers made literally billions buy selling stocks short and driving the price of shares down.

Four hedge fund managers made over $1 billion by wiping out trillions of dollars of people's net worth. Together the top four fund managers made between $7 and $8 billion dollars personally. Meanwhile the Democrats in Congress are busy stirring up public ire about a few million that workers at AIG were promised if they stayed on to clean up the mess.

It's an old magician's trick of misdirection. While Frank, Dodd and Obama tell you to look over there, they rake in the campaign contributions from financial pirates who profit by driving the price of your stocks down and destroy your plans for retirement. Coincidence?

George Soros, ... made .. $1.1 billion last year.
'It is, in a way, the culminating point of my life’s work,' he told national newspaper The Australian.

Soros is one of 25, top hedge fund managers from across Wall Street.

The other top earners in the hedge fund world are

1 - James Simons, Renaissance Technologies Corp, $2.5 billion
2 - John Paulson, Paulson & Co, $2 billion
3 - John Arnold, Centaurus Energy, $1.5 billion
4 - George Soros, Soros Fund Management, $1.1 billion

Guess who these masters of universe, these uber-rich plutocrats who feast at your expense, who short the stock you own to drive the prices down ... guess who they support? From Open Secrets:

Here's James Simons who personally made $2.5 billion last year. And who does this Wall Street plutocrat support? Check this out (clue - there's not a Republican on the list):

NEW YORK,NY 10128 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES/MONEY MANA 3/13/07 $2,300 Clinton, Hillary (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES/MONEY MANA 3/13/07 $2,300 Clinton, Hillary (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES 12/14/06 $2,100 Dodd, Chris (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 8/21/08 $-2,100 Dodd, Chris (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES CORP./CHAI 6/29/07 $28,500 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATIO 2/13/07 $25,000 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATIO 3/18/08 $12,000 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGY CORP./PRESID 3/27/07 $2,300 Miller, George (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGY CORP./PRESID 4/22/08 $2,300 Miller, George (D)
Simons, James H
New York,NY 10128 Renaissance Technolgist 8/31/08 $2,300 Obama, Barack (D)
Simons, James H
New York,NY 10128 Renaissance Technolgist 8/31/08 $2,300 Obama, Barack (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES/PRESIDENT 10/17/08 $2,300 Shaheen, Jeanne (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES 8/28/08 $2,300 Clinton, Hillary (D)
SETAUKET,NY 11733 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES CORP./INVE 8/17/07 $2,300 Bishop, Timothy H (D)
SETAUKET,NY 11733 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES CORP./INVE 8/17/07 $2,300 Bishop, Timothy H (D)
SETAUKET,NY 11733 RENAISSANCE TECHNOLOGIES CORP./INVE 5/28/08 $1,000 Bishop, Timothy H (D)

John Paulson spreads it around, giving some to some Republicans...

NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & C, INC 9/26/07 $2,300 Specter, Arlen (R)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & C, INC 9/26/07 $2,300 Specter, Arlen (R)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & CO., INC./FINANCIAL SERVI 12/12/07 $1,000 Managed Funds Assn
Paulson, John A
New York,NY 10022 Self-Employed/President 5/29/08 $28,500 Republican National Cmte (R)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & CO, INC./PRESIDENT 12/7/07 $25,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 PAULSON & CO/PRESIDENT 3/27/08 $2,300 Lautenberg, Frank R (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 PAULSON & COMPANY/PRESIDENT 2/25/08 $2,300 Levin, Carl (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 PAULSON & COMPANY/PRESIDENT 2/25/08 $2,300 Levin, Carl (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 PAULSON & COMPANY/PRESIDENT, PORTFO 3/28/08 $2,300 Baucus, Max (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 PAULSON & COMPANY/PRESIDENT, PORTFO 3/26/08 $2,300 Baucus, Max (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10022 PAULSON & CO/PRESIDENT 3/27/08 $2,300 Lautenberg, Frank R (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON AND CO./BANKER 11/8/07 $2,300 Durbin, Dick (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON AND CO./BANKER 11/8/07 $2,300 Durbin, Dick (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & COMPANY INC/PRESIDENT 3/20/08 $1,000 Foxx, Virginia (R)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & COMPANY INC./BANKING 7/31/07 $2,300 Giuliani, Rudolph W (R)
NEW YORK,NY 10028 PAULSON & COMPANY/MONEY MANAGEMENT 12/12/07 $2,300 Romney, Mitt (R)

John Arnold contributed to ... only Democrats ...

HOUSTON,TX 77056 CENTAURUS ADVISORS, LLC/INVESTOR 7/31/08 $28,500 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
Arnold, John
Houston,TX 77019 Centaurus Energy/CEO 10/7/08 $5,000 DNC Services Corp (D)
HOUSTON,TX 77019 CENTAURUS ADVISORS, LLC/INVESTOR 7/24/07 $2,300 Obama, Barack (D)
Arnold, John
Houston,TX 77019 Centaurus Energy 7/31/08 $2,300 Obama, Barack (D)
Arnold, John
Houston,TX 77019 Centaurus Energy 7/31/08 $2,300 Obama, Barack (D)
HOUSTON,TX 77019 CENTAURUS ENERGY MANAGEMENT/EXECUTI 4/22/08 $2,300 Skelly, Michael Peter (D)

And George Soros appears to have bought the entire Democrat party ... not counting Bankrolling groups like MoveOn. org.

NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT/PRESIDENT 6/29/07 $21,750 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 SOROS FUND MANAGMENT/EXECUTIVE 6/29/07 $21,750 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC 12/5/08 $10,000 Democratic Party of Virginia (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUNDS MANAGEMENT LLC 12/8/08 $2,300 Franken, Al (D)
Soros, George
New York,NY 10106 Soros Fund Managment 7/31/08 $2,300 Obama, Barack (D)
IR, 7/31/08 $2,300 Clinton, Hillary (D)
KATONAH,NY 10536 SOROS FUND MGMT/BUSINESS EXEC 1/26/07 $2,100 Obama, Barack (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT/BUSINESS EXEC 12/27/07 $2,000 Shaheen, Jeanne (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MGT LLC/BUSINESS EXECUTI 12/26/07 $2,000 Udall, Tom (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS MANAGEMENT FUND, LLC/BUSINESS 12/17/07 $1,500 Edwards, Donna (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC/BUSINESS 12/21/07 $1,000 Shea-Porter, Carol (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC/EXECUTIVE 12/31/07 $1,000 Brown, Charles D (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT, LLC/EXECUTIV 7/22/08 $1,000 Cohen, Stephen Ira (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC/INVESTMEN 12/19/07 $1,000 Arcuri, Michael (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC/BUSINESS 12/21/07 $1,000 Hodes, Paul W (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SELF/SOROS FUND 6/30/08 $1,000 Perriello, Tom (D)
Soros, George
New York,NY 10106 Soros Fund Management 8/11/08 $1,000 Rangel, Charles B (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 SOROS MANAGEMENT FUND LLC/BUSINESS 12/20/07 $1,000 Kilroy, Mary Jo (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10128 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT/EXECUTIVE 6/28/07 $1,000 Murphy, Patrick J (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGMENT INC./CHAIRMAN 5/14/07 $1,000 Sestak, Joe (D)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS MANAGEMENT FUND/EXECUTIVE 8/7/08 $1,000 Powers, Jonathan (3)
Soros, George
New York,NY 10106 Soros Management Fund 8/20/08 $40 Powers, Jonathan (3)
NEW YORK,NY 10106 SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT/EXECUTIVE 6/30/07 $21,750 DNC Services Corp (D)

EU leader condemns US ‘road to hell’

Is it possible that all of Europe is not standing in rapt adoration of "The One?" Via the Financial Times (UK):

European Union hopes for a new era in relations with the US were thrown into chaos on Wednesday when the holder of the EU presidency condemned American remedies for the global recession as “the road to hell”.

Barely a week before Barack Obama is due to arrive in Europe on his first official visit as US president, Mirek Topolanek, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, put the 27-nation EU on a collision course with Washington.


Mr Topolanek said EU leaders had been disturbed at a summit in Brussels last week to hear calls from Tim Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, for more aggressive policies to fight the global downturn.

“The US Treasury secretary talks about permanent action and we, at our spring council, were quite alarmed at that . . . The US is repeating mistakes from the 1930s, such as wide-ranging stimuluses, protectionist tendencies and appeals, the Buy American campaign, and so on,” he told a European parliament session in Strasbourg. “All these steps, their combination and their permanency, are the road to hell.”

If only all EU citizens were 25 year-old stoners, this would not be happening.

Daniel Hannan MEP: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

Tea Parties And Thugs

From Investors Business Daily...
Five more "tea parties" took place last weekend to protest runaway congressional spending. Showing up with hand-lettered signs were people not often seen at protests.

Inspired by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli's rant over excessive bailouts, these demonstrations started small but now draw thousands. The weekend protests were held in Orlando, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Solomon's Island, Md.; Lexington, Ky., and Ridgefield, Conn. Another 150 tea parties are set for tax day April 15.

Bloggers and local press do cover these events, and to give credit due, so did Investor's Business Daily in a front-page story Feb. 28. But the national TV and print media are conspicuous by their absence. Some big news outlets see these events as atomized and unlikely to lead the nightly news. Others aren't interested because they're well outside media centers.

But the real reason the major media aren't interested in these protests is that they don't agree with them. In the final analysis, these affairs are really taking issue with the political party they helped elect without hiding bias in the last election.

That's why a small scrum of Acorn-financed wackos on a bus tour to intimidate AIG execs last weekend made the news while the tea parties didn't.

Telling the Truth and Scooter Libby

David Walser at the Volokh Conspiracy makes an compelling argument...
Two aspects of the Libby trial have always bothered me: First is the oft' repeated wisdom that Libby wouldn't have been in trouble "if he'd just told the truth." This dismisses Libby's actual defense of his actions -- that what he told investigators and the Grand Jury was consistent with what believed to be true at the time he said it. The advice to "simply tell the truth" is useless to a person whose memory is playing him false. If someone believes "x" is true, when in fact "x" is false, telling them to tell the truth is of no avail. He or she will simply say "x", believing they are doing exactly as you instructed.

Second is the fact the judge prevented Libby from presenting expert testimony in support of his claim that his inaccurate statements were due to memory error. The judge ruled the expert testimony inadmissible because it covered a topic, memory lapses, with which the members of the jury were intimately familiar by virtue of there everyday life. This ruling seems to ignore that the expert was not going to testify just about the types of memory failure to which we are all subject but to the fact that most members of the public dramatically overestimate the reliability of their own and others' memory. In other words, the expert was going to show that the jury members' everyday experience did NOT equip them to judge whether Libby's claims of memory failure were accurate or not.

Did Libby intentionally mislead investigators? I don't know. I do find his claim of memory failure plausible. Were it not for three experiences I had at the time of the Plame controversy (both pre-trial and during the trial), I would most likely be counted among the crowd tisking "He should have just told the truth."

The first of these experiences relates to a series of conversations I had with another member of my firm. I'm a tax professional and, in that context, was asked to review a trust document. After reviewing the document, I discussed it at length with my peer. About two weeks after that conversation, my peer asked me a follow up question by showing me a copy of the trust document and pointing to one of its provisions. I swore that I had never seen the document in my life and that we had never discussed it before. My peer was quite perplexed and assured me we had discussed the document -- over lunch! I was certain he was wrong and would still be of that opinion had I not found my review copy -- complete with my notes in the margins. Even with the help of those margin notes, in my handwriting, I still have no recollection of reviewing the document or discussing it. It's as if someone else wrote those comments.

The second experience concerns my recounting a funny experience I'd had at a business dinner. In my tellingy, my wife and I had gone to dinner with a group of other professionals and their spouses. I told the story, in the presence of my wife, to my sister and her husband. My wife said she'd never attended such a dinner. I assured her she had and even reminded her of a clever and witty remark she had made. At that point, my sister spoke up. She had attended the dinner in my wife's absence. It had been my sister, not my wife, who'd made the witty remark. Again, despite all the evidence to the contrary, my memory is still of my wife attending the dinner. Somehow my memory has put the words of my sister into my wife's mouth.

Third, I was asked to appear before a Grand Jury as a witness. A law firm had approached one of my clients about a tax strategy the government considered fraudulent. My client, on my advice, had not pursued the transaction; and I was there to explain why we had advised against the deal. In preparing for my time before the Grand Jury, I had the privilege of being questioned by members of the prosecutor's staff for a couple of days. Towards the end of the 1st day of questioning, I was asked about an entirely different transaction entered into by an entirely different client who was assisted by this same law firm. I was shown a copy of a tax opinion from the law firm addressed to my client and asked if I had ever read it. I confidently answered that I had and, in response to further questions, declared that I'd seen the opinion in draft form and had helped ensure the factual representations in the opinion were accurate. I was then asked to read certain of those factual representations and tell them whether or not I thought they were accurate. It was if I had never seen them before in my life! Some of the factual representations were, to my mind, total fabrications and misrepresented what had happened. My attorney asked permission for us to consult in the hall. He told me to quit talking out of both sides of my mouth and to just tell the truth. I told him I was telling the truth!

Except, I wasn't. That night, I reviewed my files and found a note I had written. At the last moment, the law firm had refused to allow me to see the draft and the final version of the opinion. They released it to the client only on condition I not be allowed to see it. I had been furious. My anger indelibly seared the events into my memory. Yet, a few years later, under questioning from law enforcement officers, I gave false and misleading answers to questions about those events. Were it not for my file note, I would not have been able to correct my honest errors the next day.

Despite these three experiences, I'm known as someone with an exceptionally fine memory. Were it not for outside evidences, I'd still believe I had read something I had not read, that I had not read something I had read, and that I had witnessed my wife say something someone else had said. In each case, I was absolutely certain my memory was correct and I would have bet my life on the accuracy of my recollection. Had it not been for these events happening around the time of the Libby trial, I'd probably not remember these memory lapses today. As a consequence, I'd be more than willing to convict someone of perjury when their testimony is clearly contradicted by outside evidences.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MSM got their man elected last fall. And like any powerful lobby — or high-priced call girl — they should expect to get something for their services

Instead of taking a critical look at the Pork Package passed by Congress last month, it seems the newspaper industry is getting ready to receive a little something-something in return:

With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

“This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat,” said Senator Benjamin Cardin.

A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs

Oh no they don't this will cause a riot and I'm leading the first one.

Dispelling the Global Warming Myth

You can prove virtually anything with selected use of statistics.
These are a few of the many slides that I found interesting. This one, by Dennis Avery, puts the climate swings of the last 12,000 years (i.e., since the last Ice Age) in perspective...:

This one, by Syun Akasofu, also takes a long-term view, and compares the politically-driven prediction by the UN's IPCC with the historical trend as the earth has recovered from the Little Ice Age:

You can see that by choosing the beginning and end points carefully you can make a case for global warming ... or cooling And when you project a recent trend you can show pretty much any scenario you want.

Based on recent stock market action, I can predict, with graphs and tables that the stock market will advance 1000% over the next year.

Wanna bet on that?

The End of the Global War on Terror

We'll see if the Islamofacists agree.
The end of the Global War on Terror -- or at least the use of that phrase -- has been codified at the Pentagon. Reports that the phrase was being retired have been circulating for some time amongst senior administration officials, and this morning speechwriters and other staff were notified via this e-mail to use "Overseas Contingency Operation" instead.

"Recently, in a LtGen [John] Bergman, USMC, statement for the 25 March [congressional] hearing, OMB required that the following change be made before going to the Hill," Dave Riedel, of the Office of Security Review, wrote in an e-mail.

"OMB says: 'This Administration prefers to avoid using the term "Long War" or "Global War on Terror" [GWOT]. Please use "Overseas Contingency Operation.'"

Riedel asked recipients to "Please pass on to your speech writers and try to catch this change before the statements make it to OMB."

I'm looking for the end of the term "The Great Satan." But that would be asking too much. Perhaps we can be re-defined as one of the lesser devils.

Busy Simon Cowell Tells Jay Leno He Turned Down Obama’s Invitation to Have Dinner in LA

Strangely, I believe this ...


Newt Gingrich served in the House of Representatives (from Georgia ) beginning in 1978As House Minority Whip in 1989. He was Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. During that time he NEVER made use of military aircraft.

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat from California, current Speaker of the House.

The Pentagon provides the House speaker with an Air Force plane large enough to accommodate her staff, family, supporters, and members of the California delegation when she travels around the country, but, Pelosi wants routine access to a larger plane. It includes 42 business class seats, a fully-enclosed state room, an entertainment center, a private bed, state-of-the-art communications system, and a crew of 16. Pelosi wanted "carte blanche for an aircraft any time", including weekend trips home to San Francisco .

Pretty nice but very expensive perk!

Her Air Force C-32 costs approximately $15,000 an hour

or approximately $300,000 per trip home.

And she has the nerve to confront the Big Three CEOs

for flying their corporate jets to Washington

And she's the one who crafted the trillion dollar "Economic Stimulus" legislation.


Obama's Teleprompter Sends a Message

Whoever is in the White House and whatever happens, believe this even if it isn’t true: we will survive.

Richard Fernadez discussed the feeling of helplessness and despair gripping many people. Read the whole thing.


Comments in some of the most recent Belmont Club posts have been haunted by what Scott Johnson and Victor Davis Hanson have called depression. No longer do people put forward solutions as much as despair of solutions until the prevailing conditions change or the national mood shifts. Afghanistan? Well it’s no good discussing it until someone serious is in office. The economy? We’re all doomed so let’s just measure the rate of our decline. Dr. Hanson attributes the gloom to the loss of the old certainties. The world has been turned upside down by recent crises, and things no longer work in predictable ways. The present only seems to confirm the worst suspicions of some and they await the rest of the sentence with a kind of masochistic glee. In contrast to VDH’s focus on zeitgeist as the source of passivity, Scott Johnson puts his personal source of malaise down to one thing: Barack Obama. “I feel utterly powerless to do anything about the fellow in the Oval Office who combines infantile leftism and adolescent grandiosity in roughly equal measures. It seems to me that every day he is responsible for assaults on the freedom and well being of the American people. I can’t keep up and I can’t stand to pay attention.”

Obama Imploding

Is the NY Times throwing Obama under the bus? That would be change of roles!

The NYT, in an editorial, categorically rejects Geithner’s bank rescue plan. It is an unswerving rejection of Treasury’s assumption that the auction system through which it proposes to dispose of the troubled assets will value them properly. But more importantly, it reflects a lack of faith — even among the converted — in the ability of government to keep from playing favorites where such sums are concerned. Geithner’s bank rescue plan, coming on the heels of the AIG scandal, had to be both financially sound and politically viable to keep the administration’s credibility from cracking. With liberal economists like Krugman already against Geithner’s plan, the categorical rejection of Geithner’s plan by the NYT implies that the Obama administration is running out political places to hide.

Further ...

Only three months into his Presidency, Barack Obama is failing the most important test of his life. His team can’t come up with a plan to pull the American economy out of a tailspin. More importantly he is losing public confidence in his ability to come up with one.

At last:
President Obama is going to give a prime time news conference tomorrow (EST). Let’s see what it will be all about. But I think the time for talk is rapidly drawing to a close. People are looking for sensible action, at least a semblance of decency and an end to the lawyerly double-talk and run around. ‘I forgot. I misspoke. Let me be perfectly clear’ — all these magic phrases are losing their traction.

Even Juan Williams is saying a few words that are less than supportive.

Fearless forecast: The NY Times will discover Obama's original birth certificate and you know what that means.

Monday, March 23, 2009

China Votes "No Confidence" in Obama Economy

China calls for new reserve currency.

The basic message fromthe Chinese is: we don't want to get stuck with a bunch of worthless paper when the trillions being thrown around by Team Obama devalues the US dollar.

“This is a clear sign that China, as the largest holder of US dollar financial assets, is concerned about the potential inflationary risk of the US Federal Reserve printing money,” said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC.

Although Mr Zhou did not mention the US dollar, the essay gave a pointed critique of the current dollar-dominated monetary system.

“The outbreak of the [current] crisis and its spillover to the entire world reflected the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system,” Mr Zhou wrote.

"Creator of Systemic Risk" is a more formidable title than "community organizer." Chicago style Marxist politics can be contained within the American economic system as long as they remain localized in the Windy City. When translated and magnified to a national level, they will rock the world.

In his "60 Minutes" interview, Obama said he enjoys his job and is good at it.
It's exhilarating. It's challenging you know, I-- I find that-- the governance part of it, the decision making part of it-- actually comes-- comes pretty naturally.
The Greeks had a word for it; "hubris." It led to tragedy.

And the bad part of his job? Fixing things that prior Presidents, for whom governing was not as natural as Tiger Woods' golf swing, got wrong:
(SIGH) The-- the fact that-- you are often confronted with bad choices that flow from less than optimal decisions made a year ago, two years ago, five years ago, when you weren't here. A lot of times, when things land at my desk-- it's a choice between bad and worse.

And if you don't know how incredibly important he is, he reminds you
And as somebody pointed out to me-- the only things that land on my desk are tough decisions. Because, if they were easy decisions, somebody down the food chain's already made them."
All you lesser lights are below The One on the food chain.

If there was ever any doubt, this confirms for me that when Obama referred to the the Special Olympics it was not an innocent slip, it was a reflection of his view of the rest of humanity.

This is getting scary.

I hope the writers for the NY Times live on cat food after they retire. Is that wrong?

Mark Steyn tells us that the MSM is beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, the "Big O" is not the Messiah after all; that he may not be up to the job. That he may be making matters worse.

They expected a conventional Liberal who would do more for the environment, spend a little more money on welfare, make race based preferences a little more explicit.

Instead they got a smooth talking Chicago street thug who's a full blown Marxist who is so radical that he's splitting the country in two or more pieces. Someone who blew right past billions in spending so that our smallest budget numbers are now denominated in trillions.

They are Dr, Frankenstein and they have just lost control of the experiment.

So now we have:
Michael Wolff - "Barack Obama Is A Terrible Bore":

To a man like Obama, as he has let slip on too many occasions when away from his teleprompter, "Middle America" is not something to be compromised with, but rather, something that must be manipulated, because it is stupid. And the proof that it can be manipulated is that he is the president today.

Yes, but the manipulation of "Upper-Middle America" - the Dowds, Riches, etc - was key to that. They're the beneficiaries, ungrateful though they are, of the boom years. Politics is cyclical so in the fulness of time it may yet deliver up another Reagan. But, if you're Frank and Maureen's age, at the rate the Obama-Frank-Dodd crowd are vaporizing American wealth, the new Reagan may not arrive in time to enable you to make back everything Obama's costing you. But hey, that's "social justice", right?

Is it wrong of me to hope that Dowd and Rich's personal assets are invested in NY Times stock and an S&P500 index fund? Probably. But I am a Calvinist and acknowledge that I sin; so I'll cling to this sin like I cling to my guns and religion. Because I believe in a just God.

ACORN adored, Tea Party ignored

Don Surber put a picture from the Connecticut Post on his website. Take a close look. I count 2 protesters surrounded by at least 15 members of the press carrying cameras.

Here's a suggestion for tea party protesters. As part of the protest, get people to surround the offices of the largest newspaper in town. Rent buses, lead parades, chant slogans, demand to see the editor, enter the lobby, demand to see the newsroom, and get lots of pictures. Record both video and audio. Get in their faces, get their names, ask where they live.

Protest Bust: Lots Of Media, Just One Bus Of Protesters

From inside the protest bus:
Several hours after the protest was set to begin, it's looking like today's much-hyped protest against AIG (AIG) and its execs is a total bust.

At this point, we're waiting outside of AIGFP HQ, and still waiting for another bus to arrive. But we've heard that that bus is being followed by 20 vans of media. Once again, it seems the media is much more interested than anyone who's actually protesting.

And this:
The protest at AIG was fake and contrived. There was no authentic popular anger on display, just staged photo-ops by professional protestors from ACORN. My only surprise was that ACORN did not even attempt to pretend that this was being run by the supposed sponsor, the ACORN front group Working Families Party.

There were more media in attendance than protestors, and it was so staged and artificial that all the media wanted to do was get a few pics and get out of there before Starbucks closed.


What all the fuss was all about.

The Seahorse of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's the economy, stupids: Congressional Democrats' bonus witch hunt will sink N.Y.

The MSM is in the process of committing suicide; now it's the turn of New York.

The dangerous consequences of slapping punitive taxes on Wall Street bonuses are becoming clearer in the ashes of Washington's AIG bonfire.

President Obama and cooler Senate heads must apply reason amid hysteria to avoid damaging the economies of New York and America.

The tax plan approved by the House as revenge against a handful of obscenely greedy AIG executives would slam tens of thousands in the financial industry, many of them New Yorkers, who have nothing to do with AIG or any other wrongdoing.

And that would be just start of the collateral damage.

The levies are so draconian that major banks that took bailout money are threatening to give it back - defeating the purpose of jump-starting the economy with an influx of cash.

Businesses with so-called TARP money in their accounts would also be put at a great competitive disadvantage to firms that have none. Those include foreign banks that will poach top Americans with higher pay.

As the financial capital of the world, New York would take the hardest hit. The city and state stand to lose millions in needed tax revenues.

Obama gets lost reading his teleprompter- Teleprompter-in-Chief

Special Olympian.

Liberal Voters give Bonuses to AIG

Banking Queen, the Video

Frank: Retention Bonuses Are Extortion

As a member of congress, he's an expert on extortion ... and bribery.

The Banking Queen.

Hamas: I [Heart] Obama

And it only cost $900 million.

I could be his friend for less ... no, on second thought, there are things that no amount of money could get me to do.

Sen. Gregg says Obama budget will bankrupt US

Still wonder why he withdrew his nomination for Commerce Secretary?
Maybe he did not want to go down with the SS Obamic.

Venezuela's Chavez calls Obama "ignoramus"

But they told me that once Obama was elected the world would love us, the oceans would recede and the lion would lie down with the lamb.

Maybe Chavez needs a hug. Go hug him Barack.

Tell him about the Special Olympics.

The Second American Revolution

We The People Stimulus Package

Thoughts About Depressed Americans

Victor Davis Hanson ruminates of the current malaise. Well worth a read.

Cyrano de Teleprompter

Chec out the picture at Ace of Spades.

Obama forgets ...

The O.J. Trial - Take 2

In the “How stupid do they think we are” department we have an announcement by John Conyers (D-MI) proposing to hold hearings on ACORN.

If you thought the O.J. Simpson jury was determined to exonerate him, wait until Conyers and the rest of the Democrats in congress hold hearings on ACORN. Afterwards, they will be able to say: all allegations against this glorious organization were totally unfounded.

Actually a pretty smart move on the part of the Democrats. In fact, they can hold hearings on all of their crooks and liars and pronounce them pure as the driven snow.

Obama to Limit Pay for Wall Street, NFL, NBA, MLB

After all:

“Some of these sports stars, like AIG execs, have negotiated sweetheart deals paying them millions of dollars, and yet they lose games,” ...“How hard can it be to show up on Sunday and toss a few passes?” said Mr. Gibbs.

The other joke was the election.

News vs. Not News

John Hinderaker at Powerline makes a point that has been made thousands of times before but demands repeating: the MSM are either incompetent or so ideologically focused that they really don't know how the rest of us live.

I believe I read a story not that long ago about the NY Times assigning a reporter to report on what non-liberals were doing. To most in the media, at least half the country resembles some of those maps from centuries ago which had blank spaces for unexplored territory.

The tea party movement continues to gain steam, as anti-tax increase, anti-bailout, anti-ballooning deficit citizens turned out around the country today. Glenn Reynolds, as always, has a roundup with links and photos. I especially liked this reference to Chris Dodd at a rally in Connecticut:

One emerging theme is the absence of press coverage, especially at the national level. For some reason, reporters and editors believe it is not news when thousands of people, all around the country, gather to protest the government's bailouts, trillions in debt, etc. And yet, when a mere forty people turned out in Connecticut for an ACORN-sponsored bus tour of homes owned by AIG executives, there were more media people covering the event than there were people on the bus. So let's see: conservative and libertarian opposition to the government's economic initiatives--not news. Far left opposition to the government's economic initiatives, no matter how few participate--that's news. But of course, not a single person reading this will be surprised.
And of course no mention of these tea parties in the Virginian Pilot. Pravda was a beacon of journalistic truth and technical prowess compared with the Virginian Pilot

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A roudup of congressional tax cheats: Rangel, Stark, Engel ....

Via Glenn Reynolds:

California congressman Pete Stark has improperly claimed a Maryland lakefront home (assessed at $1.7 million) as his primary residence in order to qualify for a special real estate tax break . . . Earlier this month, Congressmen Eliot Engel, a lifelong resident of the Bronx, was outed for claiming the Maryland real estate tax break on his Maryland home (formerly owned by ABC’s Ted Koppel and Wonder Woman Lynda Carter) assessed at $938,000.

What should be the penalty for being a tax cheat and being in congress?

And let's not forget Tom Daschle.
Tom Daschle claimed a similar homestead exemption for his $1.9 million Washington, D.C. home while he represented South Dakota as Senate Minority Leader, and this was an issue in his losing 2004 re-election campaign.

From the Teabag Rebellion

Via Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama Is a Terrible Bore

The guy just doesn’t know what to say. He can’t connect. Emotions are here, he’s over there. He can’t get the words to match the situation.

This began, I’d argue, from the first moment. He punted on the inaugural. Everybody ran around like crazy trying to praise it because if Barack Obama couldn’t give a speech then what?

But now, at week 11, we’re face-to-face with the reality, the man can’t talk worth a damn.

Strange ... Some us us noticed this before the election.


He's like uh, uh, uh, a Special Olympics type of POTUS.

That's cold.

Another Obama Joke (the first one was his election)

The Department of Defense briefed the president this morning and told President Obama that two Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq.

To everyone's surprise, all the color drained from Obama's face.

Then he collapsed onto his desk, head in his hands, visibly shaken, almost in tears.

Finally, he composed himself and asked, "Just how many is a brazilian?"

This is especially enlightening since he obviously has no concept of a billion or a trillion, either.

Barack Obama facing criticism for his "dial-a-pastor" advice line

The British press ... doing the jobs that the American MSM won't do.

The president is now taking spiritual guidance from no less than five different pastors, whom he phones for advice at moments of stress or when making big decisions.

But a year after the incendiary rantings of Rev Wright threatened to derail Mr Obama's presidential campaign, revelation of the "dial-a-prayer" sessions has prompted critics to declare that he has a new "pastor problem".

And they told me that if I voted for Sarah Palin there would be a Jesus Freak in the White House .... and they were right. [a tribute to Glenn Reynolds]

And we were told that George Bush was an dangerous Christianist.