Wednesday, March 18, 2009
President Barack Obama and everyone else in Washington is in a sprint for the microphones to express outrage at the big bonuses for the knuckleheads who screwed up American International Group and threaten to do the same to the rest of the economy.
Watching the coverage the past 24 hours, it would seem AIG just made public its plans to give top employees big bonuses.
AIG disclosed its retention-bonus program more than a year ago, including bonuses directed to those handling the exotic derivatives that got the company and the country into this mess.
The bonuses were essentially a nonissue when AIG got its initial bailout money, almost $150 billion under President Bush in the two months surrounding the presidential election.
Timothy Geithner, then at the New York branch of the Federal Reserve, was a huge proponent and architect of the AIG bailout. So if Obama had strong private opposition to the idea it did not affect his pick for the person who would oversee all bailouts.
The bonuses were again a nonissue when Obama himself increased the bailout to $173 billion last month.
If this were just a usual case of politicians acting like phonies people could roll their eyes and move on. But this time the competition among politicians to outdo each other in the outrage derby will soon put the White House, Congress and the country in a very tough spot...
[Summary: this is another fabricated witch hunt deliberately intended to provide a new evil enemy to distract us from the Democrat's intention to continue expanding government and not notice that the economy remains 'unstimulated'. Highly Recommended > ]
Taxpayers have already put up $173 billion, or more than a thousand times the amount of those bonuses, to fund the government's AIG "rescue." This federal takeover, never approved by AIG shareholders, uses the firm as a conduit to bail out other institutions. After months of government stonewalling, on Sunday night AIG officially acknowledged where most of the taxpayer funds have been going.
Since September 16, AIG has sent $120 billion in cash, collateral and other payouts to banks, municipal governments and other derivative counterparties around the world. This includes at least $20 billion to European banks.
The list also includes American charity cases like Goldman Sachs, which received at least $13 billion. This comes after months of claims by Goldman that all of its AIG bets were adequately hedged and that it needed no "bailout." Why take $13 billion then?
This needless cover-up is one reason Americans are getting angrier as they wonder if Washington is lying to them about these bailouts.
Given that the government has never defined "systemic risk," we're also starting to wonder exactly which system American taxpayers are paying to protect. It's not capitalism, in which risk-takers suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And in some cases it's not even American.
The U.S. government is now in the business of distributing foreign aid to offshore financiers, laundered through a once-great American company.
The Washington crowd wants to focus on bonuses because it aims public anger on private actors, not the political class. But our politicians and regulators should direct some of their anger back on themselves -- for kicking off AIG's demise by ousting Mr. Greenberg, for failing to supervise its bets, and then for blowing a mountain of taxpayer cash on their AIG nationalization.
Whether or not these funds ever come back to the Treasury, regulators should now focus on getting AIG back into private hands as soon as possible. And if Treasury and the Fed want to continue bailing out foreign banks, let them make that case, honestly and directly, to American taxpayers.
[Highly Recommended > ]
After sinking our money into companies like AIG to keep them afloat and the credit markets operating, how dumb is it of the President and Senators like Dodd to attack the AIG bonuses to those key employees who we need to bring the company back into the red again? From the WaPo:
Politicians and the public spent yesterday demanding that AIG rescind payouts that they said rewarded recklessness and greed at a company being bailed out with $170 billion in taxpayer funds. But company officials contend that the uproar is scaring away the very employees who understand AIG Financial Products' complex trades and who are trying to dismantle the division before it further endangers the world's economy.
"It's going to blow up," said a senior Financial Products manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the company. "I have a horrible, horrible, horrible feeling that this is going to end badly."
In the old days countries threatened each other by sabre-rattling - moving armies, positioning navies, making physical threats. In the past few days we have seen the modern way to intimidate another power.
The Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, expressed concern about his country's $US1 trillion ($1.5 trillion) holdings of US government bonds.
"We've lent a huge amount of capital to the US, and of course we're concerned about the security of our assets. And to speak truthfully, I am a little bit worried."
That was all it took.
It marked a threshold moment in relations between the current superpower and the potential one - Beijing demonstrated that it is prepared to use its financial power over the US as an instrument of pressure.
US officials, including Barack Obama himself, hastened to reassure the Chinese over the weekend.
"Not just the Chinese Government, but every investor can have absolute confidence in the soundness of investments in the US."
Wen's remark was not random. It was made in answer to a pre-approved question at his annual news conference. It came just as his Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, was in Washington to negotiate with the US the approach the two countries would take to the Group of 20 summit in London on April 2.
And it emerged a few weeks after Hillary Clinton went to Beijing and explicitly called on the Government to keep buying US bonds - the Obama Treasury is hoping to sell the world another $1.7 trillion in treasuries this year to pay for the US Government's deficit.
In other words, the US, the world's biggest debtor, finds itself unusually vulnerable. And China, the world's biggest creditor, is newly powerful.
[Being that this nation is bankrupt, our 'leaders' are literally selling us to the devil for their personal political expediency.]
MOSCOW – President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday announced a "large-scale" rearmament and renewal of Russia's nuclear arsenal, accusing NATO of pushing ahead with expansion near Russian borders.
Meeting defence chiefs in Moscow, Medvedev said he was determined to implement reforms to streamline Russia's bloated military and stressed Moscow continued to face several security threats needing robust defense capacity.
"From 2011, a large-scale rearmament of the army and navy will begin,"
The Obama administration is abandoning one of President George W. Bush's key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant.
In court filings Friday, the Justice Department said it will no longer use the term to justify holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
The Justice Department says prisoners can only be detained if their support for al-Qaida, the Taliban or "associated forces" was "substantial."
But it does not define the terms.
[An Ldotter suggests: CAIR Bears.]
All three morning shows on Monday skipped a rather serious charge made by former Vice President Dick Cheney that Barack Obama, through his actions as president, has made America less safe and more susceptible to terrorist attack.
Speaking to CNN host John King on Sunday's "State of the Union," Cheney criticized some of Obama's actions, including giving the order to close Guantanamo Bay. The ex-vice president asserted,
"And now he [Obama] is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack."
And yet, ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today" and CBS's "Early Show," all completely ignored Cheney's attack on President Obama.
Considering that over the last eight years, members of the media often referred to Cheney as Darth Vader and insinuated that he was actually pulling the strings in the Bush White House, shouldn't such a serious charges, leveled by such an influential person, at least have warranted a mention?
Israel is threatening to hit back hard for Palestinian rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Eight weeks after the Gaza war, Israel is growing impatient with continuing Palestinian rocket attacks.
[Not that you'd know it from the MSM, but the daily rocket attacks against Israel never stopped; they continue, day in, day out, while the UN meets to discuss Israeli 'atrocities'... ]
Ex-US Envoy Bolton: Obama ‘Bad News for Israel’
The Obama government’s thinking that Arab-Israeli peace is the key to Mideast stability “is bad news for Israel - and for America,"
Bolton said that President Barack Obama and his advisors have adopted the theory that the
“overwhelming bulk of other Middle Eastern grievances, wholly or partly, stem from Israel's founding and continued existence.”
Iran is increasing its activity in Latin America and the Caribbean, including actions aimed at supporting the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a top U.S. military commander said on Tuesday.
Navy Admiral James Stavridis, who oversees U.S. military interests in the region as head of U.S. Southern Command, also said Hezbollah was linked to drug-trafficking in Colombia...
[And still congress stonewalls the trade agreement Columbia needs to fortify itself in its struggles]
... The new, supposedly reformed UN Human Rights Council ended up with such human rights champions as Cuba, Russia, and China, along with 14 members of the OIC, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Algeria.
In its meeting of March 2007, the new council promptly adopted a new resolution warning that "defamation of religion…leads to violations of human rights" and again mentioning only "Islam and Muslims" by name... [snip]
"... speech may therefore be subject to limitations…necessary for respect of the rights and reputations of others…and respect for religions and beliefs" and therefore "deplore[d] the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet…to incite…xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination toward Islam"
In its meeting of March 2008, the council voted to refer its concerns about "defamation of religion" to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. In effect, the resolution demanded that protection of free speech give way to protection against improper—Islamophobic— speech.
As the Canadian delegate protested,
"instead of promoting freedom of expression, the Special Rapporteur would be policing its exercise."
But of course, it made no difference. In its December meeting at the end of last year, the UN General Assembly simply went ahead and endorsed the OIC-sponsored resolution that condemned "discrimination against religions"—but, as usual, mentioned only "Islamophobia" rather than attacks on any other faith...
[Long, but necessary reading to know why our participation in the UN is among the greatest long term threats we face - Highly Recommended > ]
John Hinderaker of Power Line makes the essential point about the AIG bonus imbroglio: allowing AIG to go bankrupt would abrogate the bonus obligations the firm contractually entered into. Keeping the company alive and 80% owned by taxpayers merely short-circuits the highly effective cleansing mechanisms capitalism provides for "creative destruction" (Joseph Schumpeter's term) of firms that waste resources.
Instead, the federal government is attempting to interfere with private contracts because it doesn't like them. Making private contracts subject to the whim of the ruler (the king, president, or führer - it doesn't matter) weakens the private economy. If contracts are not enforced, we do not have the possibility of a private economy any more. Nobody will trust in the ability to gain from the private arrangements they make.
Capitalism is undergoing the death of a thousand cuts.
The ‘stimulus' package has not had chance to do anything yet, either fly or fail, but the Commerce Department reported some unexpectedly positive news:
"Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 547,000.
This is 3.0 percent (±3.5%)* above the revised January rate of 531,000, [...]"
"Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 373,000; this is 11.0 percent (±2.1%) above the January figure of 336,000."
Now, it can, and will be said that the numbers are less than sterling in regard to 2008, but economists were expecting a drop for the month. Apparently, the destructive effect of bursting housing bubble had its limits, but all the same, the damage doesn't appear anywhere near terminal.
[More proof that the market will self correct, and more quickly, if left alone. Meanwhile, the mountain of debt foisted upon us and our children will remain long, long after the recovery...]
image toon - 1st mny fnn - Demand for Zero's soars
Scientists Claim Earth Is Undergoing Natural Climate Shift
A new study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee could turn the climate change world upside down.
"This way we were able to explain all the fluctuations in the global temperature trend in the past century," ..."The research team has found the warming trend of the past 30 years has stopped and in fact global temperatures have leveled off since 2001."
"But if we don't understand what is natural, I don't think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand -- first the natural variability of climate -- and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,"
Tsonis said he thinks the current trend of steady or even cooling earth temps may last a couple of decades or until the next climate shift occurs.
Global warming policy can sound pretty good one sound byte at a time. But as Americans learn more, they are buying it a lot less.
That is because Americans are beginning to understand that a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is nothing more than a regressive tax that will raise energy prices and cost Americans jobs – all for little, if any, environmental gain.
It is shaping up that if Congress passes any version of a cap-and-trade bill, just like the stimulus spending, it will come with large public dissent. In fact, a recent Gallup pole announced that
Although a majority of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is either correctly portrayed in the news or underestimated, a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated. This is up from just 30% in 2006.
And maybe that is why we are starting to see a ramp up in the rhetoric from the global warming alarmists. The numbers don’t lie; support for global warming policies are eroding, faster than polar ice caps, as it turns out.
[Shades of 2007, when a surge of science refuting AWG was successfully countered with massive PR stunts and fawning media coverage - ergo...
"The Age of Stupid" Cometh
"What frame of mind were we in to face extinction and simply shrug it off?"
That powerful question is central to "The Age of Stupid," a climate change 'documentary' that aims to hit every viewer (and they're hoping for 250 million of them) where it hurts, and turn them into climate change activists.
The film premieres in London on March 15, then in the U.S. in May, by which time its makers hope to have started a global movement.
The filmmakers have their sights set squarely on the upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen, and they've joined the umbrella campaign group "Not Stupid".
The European Parliament, the Dutch Parliament, the British Parliament have already seen the film, and the United Nations has requested a screening. Director Franny Armstrong isn't shy about her determination to influence the U.S.
"In terms of climate change, the U.S. is the most important, both politically and in terms of emissions," ... "Obama can radically change the U.S. approach to climate change in Copenhagen, so our focus is definitely on him."
But can a film really rally public opinion enough to compel politicians into taking significant environmental action?
[The campaign intensifies]
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — In this carnage-racked border city of 1.3 million, more than 80 murders have been clocked in the past three weeks, and kidnappings, extortions, robberies and rapes further bedevil an already rattled population. So far, the new year looks to be bringing as much, if not more, havoc than the last.
“Walking in the streets of Juarez is an extreme sport,”
said political scientist Tony Payan.
79% Support U.S. Troops on the Border to Fight Drug Violence
Seventy-nine percent (79%) of U.S. voters now say the military should be used along the border with Mexico to protect American citizens if drug-related violence continues to grow in that area.
This marks a 21-point jump in support for the use of the U.S. military along the border in just two months.
Only 10% now say the military should not be used in that fashion, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.
Are American college students being indoctrinated in their classrooms?
Closed Minds? is a survey of 1270 professors conducted by authors associated with the Brookings Institution. The survey asked these academics what their political persuasion was and whether they let politics influence their classroom presentations. The overwhelming majority of respondents said they were on the political left, but ninety-five percent denied that they used their classrooms to influence their students politically. This encouraged the Brookings experts to conclude
“The idea that the elite universities are rife with leftist politics, or any politics for that matter, is at odds with the evidence.”
We beg to differ. In researching our new book One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy, we didn’t ask professors what they thought of themselves.
Instead, we looked at the courses they actually teach -- courses like Community Studies 100P at the University of California Santa Cruz, which is described in the university catalogue in these words:
“The goal of this seminar is to learn how to organize a revolution. We will learn what communities past and present have done and are doing to resist, challenge and overcome systems of power including (but not limited to) global capitalism, state oppression and racism.”
This is clearly a training course in radical politics – an exercise in indoctrination, not a scholarly inquiry designed to examine its subject matter in a critical, academic manner. [snip]
... we examine doctrinaire syllabuses and one-sided reading lists, which leave no doubt that their purpose is to instill radical prejudices and recruit students to radical causes. Literally. At the University of Arizona , for example, students can take a course in “Social Movements” whose official catalogue description announces:
“Here it is, activism for credit. Give four hours to a social movement and I’ll give you 200 points.”
The instructor then provides students with a list of social movements, which are all far left groups.
The evidence presented in our book that indoctrination is a real problem and one that is widespread is irrefutable. It is time to stop denying the obvious and start taking steps to remedy.
[Highly Recommeded > ]
Last night, "Indoctrinate U" director Evan Coyne Maloney appeared on
CNN with Lou Dobbs, who said the film was was "terrific." Dobbs
"I can't recommend it highly enough" and he urged viewers to
"get this documentary. It's extraordinary."
Video of the interview is available here.
Also, the Documentary Channel has a few more
screenings of "Indoctrinate U" coming up:
Tuesday, March 17th: 9:00PM - 10:30PM
Wednesday, March 18th: Midnight - 01:30AM
(after midnight Tuesday)
Wednesday, March 25th: 5:00PM - 6:30PM
Monday, March 30th: 2:00AM - 3:30AM
(All times Eastern U.S.)
For more information, visit:
Of course, as always, the film is available on DVD or as a download
at the "Indoctrinate U" online store:
The U.S. Census is supposed to be free of politics, but one group with a history of voter fraud, ACORN, is participating in next year's count, raising concerns about the politicization of the decennial survey.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now signed on as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau in February 2009 to assist with the recruitment of the 1.4 million temporary workers needed to go door-to-door to count every person in the United States...
Dear Senator Feinstein/Senator Boxer/Rep. Jane Harmon,
I am writing you today regarding President Obama’s recent proposal to charge U.S. combat veterans (through their insurance carriers) for treatment received as a result of injuries suffered on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan...
"OPPOSE BILLING FOR SERVICE INJURIES"
YOUR Senator: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
YOUR Congressman: https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml
or: Speed Message them with your personal distribution list...
Support for the Democratic Congressional candidates fell to a new low over the past week, allowing the GOP to move slightly head for the first time in recent years in the Generic Congressional Ballot.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 39% would choose the Democrat.
Democrats began the year holding a six or seven point lead over the GOP for the first several weeks of 2009. Over the past month, the gap has been smaller, with Democrats holding a two-to-four point lead.
Bush refuses to criticize Obama in Canada
CALGARY, Alberta - Former President George W. Bush says he won't criticize President Barack Obama because Obama "deserves my silence," and says he plans to write a book about the 12 toughest decisions he made in office. Bush's speech Tuesday at a luncheon in Calgary, Alberta was his first since leaving office.
[The unpolished cowboy does have his own brand of class. Handled it just like Jimmy Carter - but different.]