Making Society Better

Allen West: I found a definition of Yin and Yang to be, “In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also, yin-yang or yin yang) describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.” It appears that our 2016 presidential election cycle is early on being defined by that philosophy. The question is, can this media-driven divide be good for the future of our Constitutional Republic?

In 2008 it was all about the “anti-Bush” sentiment in America – heavily fueled by a complicit media. The rallying slogan was “Hope and Change.” Some of us will never forget the statement, “we are the change that we have been waiting for.” Huh?

Pronoun Trouble… 🙂

None of this was challenged, but embraced as a historical moment that truly was the Yang to the existing Yin. Amazingly, there were little to no questions about policy; just the simplistic retort that “I will not be like the current president.” Furthermore, any challenge to the issue of a lack of policy proposals and experience in 2008 was met with the Alinsky tactic of personal demonization by way of being castigated as racist. And so in 2008 America replaced the Yin with the Yang and we had a new Yin – progressive socialism.

In 2012, the new slogan became “Forward,” and that was even as we recognized that so many quantitative assessments evidenced we were not going forward. We were certainly not progressing, and that situation continues to today. There were deceptions of jobs report numbers and we know that the economy was suffering under one of the most anemic recoveries in American history. But what was most telling was that we actually believed that we were safer; that Islamic terrorism was quelled. That was because Osama bin Laden had been double-tapped by U.S. Navy SEALS. However, the reality was far from being such. And so another deception took place when on 9-11-12 four Americans were abandoned to die in Benghazi – a place which had been destabilized by a horrific intervention by the current administration. Yet the new Yin, aided by a dedicated media campaign told us it was just a video.

So in 2012 we kept the current Yin.

Today, the situation is completely reversed. There is a new Yang that has risen due to the failures of the current Yin. The new slogan is “Make America Great Again.” This Yang has tapped into the evident weakness of the current Yin and has garnered a solid support base. Funny, this new Yang is not being embraced by the liberal progressive media, but its incessant assaults have enhanced the popularity of this new Yang in many aspects. And why is this happening? Simple: because the media clearly established and continues to establish itself as the protector of the progressive socialist ideal in 2008 and 2012. They have lost their credibility.

However, I would caution America to carefully assess whether this new Yang presents any viable policy solutions – similar to 2008.

My concern is that we Americans are once again being driven by media news cycles and not focusing on the prevailing issues or the future of America. Instead of basing our decisions about the future leadership of America on individual personalities, we must seek out a vision. Sadly, the social culture in America forces us to pay more attention to personas rather that principles. Now, I will be the first to admit that consideration of policy solutions may seem boring, but a base understanding is essential.

 

We have become more drawn to the person than the ideal. And what is lacking is a representation of the embodiment of that American ideal. Some would say that it does not exist, and God knows there are many who are trying to eradicate it – “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming America.”

What is necessary at this time in the current election cycle is for the American electorate to listen, and not be emotional. How do we restore the free enterprise opportunity society in order to get Americans back to work and productive in their own lanes? How do we develop a strategy to defeat militant Islamic terrorism? What needs to be done to reasonably stem the flow of illegal immigrants into America, secure our sovereign borders, yet also streamline our legal immigration system? How do we repair a healthcare system where individual premiums are rising, the individual mandate tax is increasing, and the level of care is decreasing? How do we advance the idea of parents being in charge of educating their children and being responsible for determining their outcomes – not the government?

The current Yin has done an exceptional job at focusing America on emotional “feeling” oriented issues. The reality is that the American public feels less safe. They know their beloved America, the land of individual economic empowerment, is becoming a breeding ground of collective economic enslavement, wealth transfer to grow the dependency society, a playground for social egalitarianism, and abject weakness.

And so we have the rise of the new Yang, a new slogan, but a lack of defined policy vision. The interconnection of the Yin and Yang of politics in America is that demagoguery has no favorite side. It can appear anywhere and finds a way to feed off the other.

As we close out 2015, enjoy a blessed Hanukkah, have a Merry Christmas, and celebrate a joyous and Happy New Year. May your favorite college football team win its bowl game – unless they are playing mine. But was we enter into a pivotal presidential election season, seek out an American leader, not an American celebrity.

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne
Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

The Shell Game

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget will forecast a $901 billion deficit for next year, falling far short of his goal to halve the deficit in four years.

The budget, an outline of which was released by the White House Friday night, will show a higher deficit this year than in 2011, up from $1.3 trillion to $1.33 trillion.

So that’s 3 strikes and hopefully he’s out! What a Turkey!

Wonder if this one will go down 96-0 like last years.

Mind you the US Senate that hasn’t passed a Budget in 1, 018 days has already telegraphed that it has no intention of passing a budget this year anyhow.

So this is largely an exercise in campaign BS. Which is all we’ve gotten since January 20th, 2009 anyhow.

The full blown still-born cow of a budget comes out Monday. I’m sure it will bloated, class envious, have lots of flashy fake or useless “cuts”, and totally political. What else would you expect.

“We will talk more before the end of the month on what corporate tax reform would look like,” the official said on Friday, confirming that it would include a call for “lower rates.”

Facing a potentially tough presidential re-election challenge this November, Obama will propose cutting the rate following the release of his 2013 budget plan on Monday, February 13, according to the sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

While he spent a big part of his January speech to Congress criticizing businesses for moving jobs overseas, Obama said that “companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world.”

So what do you wanna bet it’s going to be very selective and very “democratic”. 🙂

You do it my way or else. Or he’ll propose all new taxes to make up for it, disguised as something else or some other Orwellian turn of phrase.

Typically with this White House “tax reform” means bend over you’re about to get a massive enema!

Gene Sperling, director of Obama’s National Economic Council, has told reporters that the president will be laying out “principles” for corporate tax reform close to the budget release.

Obama’s corporate plan will also include a new minimum tax on foreign profits earned in low tax countries – an unpopular idea in the corporate community. (yahoo)

“principles” eh…This should be good… 😦

Ann Coulter:Having given up on pillorying Mitt Romney for plundering his way to vast wealth — because, unfortunately, it isn’t true — the Non-Fox Media seem to have settled on denouncing him as a rich jerk.

Liberals are disgusted by people who made their own money, as Romney did at Bain Capital. But they admire ill-gotten gains, which is how John Kerry, John Edwards, Jon Corzine, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and innumerable other spokesmen for the downtrodden amassed their fortunes.

Democrats are very proud of the rich, patrician FDR — who inherited all of his money and then launched a series of federal entitlements designed to bankrupt America 60 years later.

JFK also inherited his wealth, from a father who made his money as a bootlegger and stock manipulator. (In their defense, both went on to create jobs for bartenders and prostitutes.)

Kerry is in a special category of the gigolo. He acquired his fortune by marrying someone, who married someone, who inherited the money — leading Kerry’s children to refer to Teresa Heinz Kerry as their “step-money.” In what can only be described as luck, Kerry’s first wife was also an heiress.

I’ve been diligently searching for the shrieks of horror from the media over John Kerry’s tax returns when he ran for president eight years ago, but I can’t find anything. (Although I did find a reference to Kerry’s having served in Vietnam. Anybody else hear about that?)

Even when Kerry refused to release his wife’s tax returns in order to avoid the humiliation of revealing his allowance, the press was demurely silent.

John Edwards made well over $50 million by shaking down hardworking doctors with junk science lawsuits — as the New York Times has since admitted. The highlight of his sideshows was when he channeled unborn children in front of illiterate jurors.

(In the Democrats’ moral universe, the unborn have no right to life, but they’re perfectly acceptable as witnesses for the plaintiff in a malpractice suit.)

Democrats were overjoyed with Wall Street financier-turned Democratic politician Jon Corzine. It was just three years ago, in 2009, when President Obama was hailing Corzine as one of the “best partners I have in the White House.” Today, prosecutors are trying to find out what Corzine did with hundreds of millions of his customers’ money.

The media do everything they can to avoid looking into these mountebanks when they are active politicians. Then, when they’re out of office, the NFM summarily announce that they always knew the Democrats were sleazeballs, and why are we still talking about them?
It’s never a good time to talk about Democrat plutocrats until it’s way too late to talk about them. With Corzine, we’ll have a window of three seconds to talk about his financial shenanigans. He’s innocent until proved gui — Convicted! — What? You’re still burbling about that guy?

Liberals will be carrying on about Richard Nixon until we’re all long dead. Why has the time passed for them to really examine the man who was their vice presidential candidate only eight years ago and was desperately seeking the presidential slot four years ago?

Until we hear ferocious denunciations of FDR, JFK, Kerry, Edwards and Corzine, liberals have no business criticizing Bain Capital.

Maybe some people are irrationally offended by the rich, but Democrats aren’t. It’s the party of George Soros, Goldman Sachs and Nancy Pelosi!

The six wealthiest senators are all Democrats, half of whom married or inherited their money. Some other multimillionaire Democrats are:

• Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the second-richest senator after Kerry, who inherited his money.

• Dianne Feinstein of California, the sixth-richest senator, who married her money.

• Maria Cantwell of Washington, a bogus dot-com multimillionaire who cashed out before the stock crashed.

• Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the ninth-richest senator, who failed to pay taxes on her private plane until she was caught last year, and who married her money.

Meanwhile, with few exceptions, Republicans either made money on their own or they don’t have it. It’s no accident Democrats oppose a tax on wealth, of which they have boatloads, but strongly support taxes on income, which they typically do not have.

Democrats don’t hate the rich; they are the rich, luxuriating in fortunes acquired by inheritance or marriage, fleecing the taxpayer, trial lawyer hucksterism or disreputable money manipulation. Their contempt is reserved for those who engage in honest work for a living, whom they accuse of “greed” for wanting to pay the government a little less.

As I have said many times before, I believe the greediest people in this country are Liberals. Period.

See: https://indyfromaz.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/greed/

So get out your Salt Mine, because here comes another Budget from Dear Leader! Can you take it?

Political Cartoon by Mike Lester
Political Cartoon by Eric Allie
Political Cartoon by Lisa Benson

 

15 Questions

During the practically endless series of Republican debates, we have heard almost every question imaginable asked to Republican candidates – if by every question imaginable, you mean horribly slanted, often irrelevant questions designed to make them look bad and help Obama. We’ve heard questions about contraceptives, religion, Newt’s angry ex-wife, Gardasil, etc., etc., etc. So, what would happen if the mainstream media treated Barack Obama the exact same way that they treat Republicans? The questions might sound a little something like this.

1) Numerous Mexican citizens and an American citizen have been killed with weapons knowingly provided to criminals by our own government during Operation Fast and Furious. If Eric Holder was aware that was going on, do you think he should step down as Attorney General? Were you aware that was going on and if so, shouldn’t you resign?

2) In 2010 you said Solyndra, which gave your campaign a lot of money, was “leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” Today, Solyndra is bankrupt and the taxpayers lost $500 million on loans that your administration was well aware might never be paid off when you made them. What do you say to people who say this is evidence of corruption in your administration?

3) Unions invested a lot of time and money in helping to get you elected. In return, they gained majority control of Chrysler, the taxpayers lost 14 billion dollars on General Motors, and General Motors received a special 45 billion dollar tax break. What do you say to people who view this as corruption on a scale never before seen in American history?

4) Through dubious means, you and your allies in Congress managed to push through an incredibly unpopular health care bill that helped lead to the worst election night for the Democratic Party in 50 years. Since the bill has passed, many of your claims about the bill have proven to be untrue. For example, we now know the bill won’t lower costs and despite your assurances to the contrary, big companies like McDonald’s say they may drop health care because of the health care reform. Since the American people have rejected your health care reform and it doesn’t do what you said it would, shouldn’t you work with the Republicans to repeal it?

5) When you took office, gas was $1.79 per gallon. Since then, you’ve demonized the oil industry, dramatically slowed offshore drilling, blocked ANWR, and killed the Keystone Pipeline. Now, gas is $3.34 per gallon. How much higher do you anticipate driving gas prices?

6) Occupy Wall Street has been protesting against Wall Street and the richest 1 percent in America. You are in the top 1 percent of income earners in America and you have collected more cash from Wall Street than any other President in history. So, aren’t you exactly the sort of politician that Occupy Wall Street wants to get rid of?

7) How do you decide which foreign leaders to submissively bow towards and why do you think that’s appropriate for an American President?

8) If they could, don’t you think the Nobel Committee would take back the Nobel Peace Prize that you were awarded?

9) You made bipartisanship one of the central themes of your campaign in 2008. Yet, you’ve worked to push bills through Congress with almost no Republican support, spent much less time negotiating with Congress than George Bush, and you’ve said things like, “But, I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.” Why did you decide to break your campaign promise to pursue bipartisanship?

10) America lost its AAA credit rating for the first time under your watch. What do you think you should have done differently to have prevented that historic failure?

11) You cut more than 500 billion dollars out of Medicare to fund your wildly unpopular health care reform bill. Given that Medicare is running in the red already, don’t you think it’s irresponsible to cut money out of one entitlement program, that millions of seniors depend on — to put it into a risky new entitlement program?

12) Back in July, you said, “Nobody’s looking to raise taxes right now. We’re talking about potentially 2013 and the out years.” Since you plan to raise taxes if you’re elected and you’ve had kind words for a value added tax, shouldn’t every American expect a tax increase if you’re reelected?

13) Why should the American people reelect you when your 10 year budget saddles America with more debt than all previous Presidents combined?

14) Your stimulus bill cost more in real dollars than the moon landing and the interstate highway system combined. What do we have to show for all of that money spent?

15) Members of your administration promised that the trillion dollar stimulus would keep unemployment under 8 percent. Instead, we’ve had 35+ months of 8% and above unemployment. Doesn’t that mean we wasted a trillion dollars on nothing? (John Hawkins)

It’s fun to think what could have been if we had Journalists instead of Left Wing Propagandists masquerading as “journalists”.

So have a supply of industrial barf bags if yo decide to watch Obama’s “soaring” Campaign Bull shit speech tonight then the fawning and slobbering by the Liberal Media before and after.

I will be watching “Chopped” on the Food network.

 

Ego Runneth Over

Obama has figured out why Americans perceive him as aloof: It’s the media’s fault

And the Republican’s want to help him with his image.

Pete Souza / White House

As he faces a reelection challenge with national job approval ratings still well below 50%, President Obama is seeking to portray himself as a man of the American people, stalled by those bipartisan know-nothings in Congress but determined to look out for the little guy in any way possible.

“We Can’t Wait” is his latest slogan, one which Republicans have mockingly picked up referring to the Nov. 6 election date.

After a brief bump from telling the Navy SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden, Obama’s approval is now no better than any other modern president and below all but one.

George W. Bush, who caused all the mess that Obama says he needs four more years to fix, was higher (49%) at this point in term one. And even doomed Democrat Jimmy Carter had majority approval (58%) at this late stage in his only term.

Obama will attempt to work on this public perception challenge Tuesday evening during his nationally-televised State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress with a lengthy wish-list of populist programs. Soon after, comes his proposed federal budget.

Of course, very little of these ideas and items will ever come to pass, which the president knows.

As he seeks to become only the second Democrat president since World War II to win reelection, Obama is in reality building a premature platform to campaign on these next seven months leading to his party’s national convention in Charlotte.

A major challenge in Obama’s billion-dollar bid for a renewed lease on the White House and four more years to drive his progressive spending agenda is his image as an aloof Harvard elitist out of touch with ordinary citizens, much like 18th century French royalty.

One who golfs during wartime, stages frequent lavish celeb parties while citizens suffer high unemployment and foreclosure rates and vacations luxuriously on distant islands at the drop of a 747-boarding ramp. During last month’s holidays, Obama’s White House got by with only 37 Christmas trees.

With one highly-publicized exception last summer, Obama’s golfing partners and basketball buddies are almost always close friends or staff, an opportunity other chief executives have used for outreach bonding and socializing to ease everyday political cooperation and deals.

It took Obama 18 months, for instance, to invite the Senate opposition leader for an Oval Office coffee, a simple social gesture that most presidents accomplish their first week in office. Intentionally or not, even one of Obama’s favorite public postures (see White House photo above) gives off a sense of aloofness or arrogance. Watch for this gaze also as he reads the teleprompter Tuesday evening.

But now in one of a growing number of election year interviews, Obama reveals that he has figured out the real reason the American public sees him as cold, aloof and distant.

It’s the media’s fault.

Obama threw the entire Washington press corps under the bus. He was talking with a sympathetic Fareed Zakaria of Time in the Oval Office the other day.

In answer to a question, Obama said he’d forged close working relationships with world leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron and India’s Singh. Speaking of himself in the third person, Obama predicted they would each say:

“We have a lot of trust and confidence in the President. We believe what he says. We believe that he’ll follow through on his commitments. We think he’s paying attention to our concerns and our interests. And that’s part of the reason we’ve been able to forge these close working relationships and gotten a whole bunch of stuff done.”

Zakaria then interjected: “You just can’t do it with John Boehner.”

And Obama replied:

“You know, the truth is, actually, when it comes to Congress, the issue is not personal relationships. My suspicion is that this whole critique has to do with the fact that I don’t go to a lot of Washington parties.

“And as a consequence, the Washington press corps maybe just doesn’t feel like I’m in the mix enough with them, and they figure, well, if I’m not spending time with them, I must be cold and aloof.”

Obama claimed he and his wife “don’t do the social scene” because they are busy with their two daughters.

On Thursday, for example, Obama began the day with office work, then flew two hours south for a 13-minute speech at Disney World. Then he flew two hours back north to New York City for speeches at four Manhattan political fundraisers, including a show at the Apollo and a party at Spike Lee’s place.

After another hour flight on Air Force One and 10 minutes in a Marine helicopter, the president returned to the White House shortly before 1 a.m. Friday.

But he’s not an aloof, aristocratic dictator-wanna be. 🙂

And the liberal media that is slobbering all over…It’s their fault.

They need to do a better job of slobbering?

Not possible.

Nope. It just has to be every being in the universe’s fault except his. Period.

Except no substitutions.

And everyone will be thrown under the bus to save his Majesty’s Ego.

And the proper response is “Thank you, Master. You are too kind”.

And another interesting tidbit, when His Emperorship is giving his canned Ra-Ra Campaign Speech full of lofty rhetoric he absolutely does not mean and lowdown dirty politics that does mean it will be Tuesday January 24, 2012.

1000 Days since the US Senate (and thus the US Government) has passed a budget (which is the Republicans fault for passing a budget the Democrats didn’t like 3 years ago!).

He will likely propose another budget that will get voted down 96-0 like the last one because it’s all symbolism.

The Republicans are to blame for every thing. And they are too busy beating the crap out of each other to notice.

If your Frappucino machine spills your coffee all over the counter that’s the fault of the Manufacturer which is some faceless corporate intentity that supports the Republican Party so it’s their fault!

The Tea party are a bunch crazed whackos!

And then everyone else is to be blame because he’s black.

No wonder survivalists are on the rise with going on.

His people say the Democrat has some new ideas on how to increase tourism to Florida and probably the entire 57 states. Naturally, this requires another Obama speech.

And what better place for a campaigning president to go lecture needlessly on improving tourism than the iconic institution that figured it all out decades ago, Walt Disney Resorts? 

But here’s the problem with Obama going to Disney’s Main Street: They have to halt all tourism there for him to be seen encouraging more tourism, close the whole place down to tourists for much of the day while he’s there and before. Even Disney employees are being barred.

So, Main Street won’t look anything like the photo above. And the thousands of existing tourists who expected to spend a valuable vacation day strolling the old-fashioned shops for fudge and Mickey ears, riding the steam-powered cars and horse-drawn streetcars and getting a photo with the real Snow White today are just plum out of luck, like Grumpy.

This isn’t the first time Obama’s message has messed with the mechanics. A while back he flew about two hours to Columbus, Ohio for a 10-minute speech celebrating stimulus jobs at a construction site where workers had to take a day off without pay because the president decided to come mark their employment in front of cameras.

Does Obama, after all his lagging economic recovery, really want today’s political optics to be this oblivious president himself shutting down businesses all along any Main Street so that the Real Good Talker can read from a teleprompter at yet another hand-picked crowd for the cameras? Seriously?

Later, after the president’s entourage and motorcade depart the wonderful world of Disney following their private photo op visit, they’ll likely re-open the magical street to the tourists he was talking about getting more of. After how much lost business?

But Obama leaving Main Street is bad news for Broadway.

After shutting down Disney’s Main Street, President Obama is heading to New York City this afternoon to paralyze Manhattan traffic again. That’s because the Obama 2012 campaign has him scheduled for not one, not two, not three, but four campaign fundraisers in one evening.

Hopefully, the well-heeled 1% can listen as fast as he talks.

A common question I ask the “soak the rich” crowd (which usually gets an angry response): “Have you gotten your $38,500 “middle class warrior” autograph yet?”

He is a man of the people. He hates rich people. He hates Corporate America.

But they love him anyways and give him millions of dollars to continue bashing their heads in.

Why?

As I said yesterday, Zombies don’t understand logic or reason. They sure as hell don’t care.

Create an entirely new narrative. Push an entirely new issue. Change the subject from your record and your ideology, from massive debt and overreaching government, to fairness and inequality. Make the election a referendum on which party really cares about you, which party will stand up to the greedy rich who have pillaged the 99 percent and robbed the middle class of hope.

This charge, too, is straightforward: The Republicans serve as the protectors and enablers of the plutocrats, the exploiters who have profited while America suffers. They put party over nation, fat-cat donors over people, political power over everything.

It’s all rather uncomplicated, capturing nicely the Manichaean core of the Occupy movement — blame the rich, then soak them. But the real beauty of this strategy is its adaptability. While its first target was the do-nothing protect-the-rich Congress, it is perfectly tailored to fit the liabilities of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney — plutocrat, capitalist, 1 percenter.

Obama rolled out this class-war counter-narrative in his December 6 “Teddy Roosevelt” speech and hasn’t governed a day since. Every action, every proposal, every “we can’t wait” circumvention of the Constitution — such as recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess — is designed to fit this re-election narrative.

Hence: Where does Obama ostentatiously introduce the recess-appointed head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? At a rally in swing-state Ohio, a stage prop for Obama to declare himself tribune of the little guy, scourge of the big banks and their soulless Republican guardians.

Now, economic inequality is an important issue, but the idea that it is the cause of America’s current economic troubles is absurd. Yet, in a stroke, the Republicans have succeeded in turning a Democratic talking point — a last-ditch attempt to salvage re-election by distracting from their record — into a central focus of the nation’s political discourse.

How quickly has the zeitgeist changed? Wednesday, the Republican House reconvened to reject Obama’s planned $1.2 trillion debt-ceiling increase. (Lacking Senate concurrence, the debt ceiling will be raised nonetheless.) No one noticed. It made page A16 of the New York Times. All eyes are on South Carolina and Romney’s taxes.

This is no mainstream-media conspiracy. This is the GOP maneuvering itself right onto Obama terrain.

The president is a very smart man. But if he wins in November, that won’t be the reason. It will be luck. He could not have chosen more self-destructive adversaries. (Charles Krauthammer)

As always, Charles, I agree.

What’s Worse than a Zombie Hoard coming to get you?

Your “protectors” giving you to them willingly because they are too busy beating the crap out of each other to “protect” you or even care if you live or die.

Thy Ego Runneth Over.

Moral Hazard

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy)- a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing,and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed,are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

THE $7 Trillion Dollar Secret

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.
‘Change Their Votes’

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.”

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC to force lending details into the open.

The Fed, headed by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma — investors and counterparties would shun firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort — and that needy institutions would be reluctant to borrow in the next crisis. Clearing House Association fought Bloomberg’s lawsuit up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the banks’ appeal in March 2011.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Bankers didn’t disclose the extent of their borrowing. On Nov. 26, 2008, then-Bank of America (BAC) Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed “one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world.” He didn’t say that his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm owed the central bank $86 billion that day.
‘Motivate Others’

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon told shareholders in a March 26, 2010, letter that his bank used the Fed’s Term Auction Facility “at the request of the Federal Reserve to help motivate others to use the system.” He didn’t say that the New York-based bank’s total TAF borrowings were almost twice its cash holdings or that its peak borrowing of $48 billion on Feb. 26, 2009, came more than a year after the program’s creation.

Howard Opinsky, a spokesman for JPMorgan (JPM), declined to comment about Dimon’s statement or the company’s Fed borrowings. Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Bank of America, also declined to comment.

The Fed has been lending money to banks through its so- called discount window since just after its founding in 1913. Starting in August 2007, when confidence in banks began to wane, it created a variety of ways to bolster the financial system with cash or easily traded securities. By the end of 2008, the central bank had established or expanded 11 lending facilities catering to banks, securities firms and corporations that couldn’t get short-term loans from their usual sources.
‘Core Function’

“Supporting financial-market stability in times of extreme market stress is a core function of central banks,” says William B. English, director of the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs. “Our lending programs served to prevent a collapse of the financial system and to keep credit flowing to American families and businesses.”

The Fed has said that all loans were backed by appropriate collateral. That the central bank didn’t lose money should “lead to praise of the Fed, that they took this extraordinary step and they got it right,” says Phillip Swagel, a former assistant Treasury secretary under Henry M. Paulson and now a professor of international economic policy at the University of Maryland.

The Fed initially released lending data in aggregate form only. Information on which banks borrowed, when, how much and at what interest rate was kept from public view.

The secrecy extended even to members of President George W. Bush’s administration who managed TARP. Top aides to Paulson weren’t privy to Fed lending details during the creation of the program that provided crisis funding to more than 700 banks, say two former senior Treasury officials who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Big Six

The Treasury Department relied on the recommendations of the Fed to decide which banks were healthy enough to get TARP money and how much, the former officials say. The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed, measured by peak daily debt calculated by Bloomberg using data obtained from the central bank. Paulson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The six — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley — accounted for 63 percent of the average daily debt to the Fed by all publicly traded U.S. banks, money managers and investment- services firms, the data show. By comparison, they had about half of the industry’s assets before the bailout, which lasted from August 2007 through April 2010. The daily debt figure excludes cash that banks passed along to money-market funds.
Bank Supervision

While the emergency response prevented financial collapse, the Fed shouldn’t have allowed conditions to get to that point, says Joshua Rosner, a banking analyst with Graham Fisher & Co. in New York who predicted problems from lax mortgage underwriting as far back as 2001. The Fed, the primary supervisor for large financial companies, should have been more vigilant as the housing bubble formed, and the scale of its lending shows the “supervision of the banks prior to the crisis was far worse than we had imagined,” Rosner says.

Bernanke in an April 2009 speech said that the Fed provided emergency loans only to “sound institutions,” even though its internal assessments described at least one of the biggest borrowers, Citigroup, as “marginal.”

On Jan. 14, 2009, six days before the company’s central bank loans peaked, the New York Fed gave CEO Vikram Pandit a report declaring Citigroup’s financial strength to be “superficial,” bolstered largely by its $45 billion of Treasury funds. The document was released in early 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a panel empowered by Congress to probe the causes of the crisis.
‘Need Transparency’

Andrea Priest, a spokeswoman for the New York Fed, declined to comment, as did Jon Diat, a spokesman for Citigroup.

“I believe that the Fed should have independence in conducting highly technical monetary policy, but when they are putting taxpayer resources at risk, we need transparency and accountability,” says Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who was a lead Republican negotiator on TARP, and Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, both say they were kept in the dark.

“We didn’t know the specifics,” says Gregg, who’s now an adviser to Goldman Sachs.

“We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Frank says. “We didn’t know the specifics.”
Disclose Lending

Frank co-sponsored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, billed as a fix for financial-industry excesses. Congress debated that legislation in 2010 without a full understanding of how deeply the banks had depended on the Fed for survival.

It would have been “totally appropriate” to disclose the lending data by mid-2009, says David Jones, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who has written four books about the central bank.

“The Fed is the second-most-important appointed body in the U.S., next to the Supreme Court, and we’re dealing with a democracy,” Jones says. “Our representatives in Congress deserve to have this kind of information so they can oversee the Fed.”

The Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to release details of some emergency-lending programs in December 2010. It also mandated disclosure of discount-window borrowers after a two- year lag.
Protecting TARP

TARP and the Fed lending programs went “hand in hand,” says Sherrill Shaffer, a banking professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a former chief economist at the New York Fed. While the TARP money helped insulate the central bank from losses, the Fed’s willingness to supply seemingly unlimited financing to the banks assured they wouldn’t collapse, protecting the Treasury’s TARP investments, he says.

“Even though the Treasury was in the headlines, the Fed was really behind the scenes engineering it,” Shaffer says.

Congress, at the urging of Bernanke and Paulson, created TARP in October 2008 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. made it difficult for financial institutions to get loans. Bank of America and New York-based Citigroup each received $45 billion from TARP. At the time, both were tapping the Fed. Citigroup hit its peak borrowing of $99.5 billion in January 2009, while Bank of America topped out in February 2009 at $91.4 billion.
No Clue

Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible.

Mark Lake, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Had lawmakers known, it “could have changed the whole approach to reform legislation,” says Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic Senator from Delaware who, with Brown, introduced the bill to limit bank size.
Moral Hazard

Kaufman says some banks are so big that their failure could trigger a chain reaction in the financial system. The cost of borrowing for so-called too-big-to-fail banks is lower than that of smaller firms because lenders believe the government won’t let them go under. The perceived safety net creates what economists call moral hazard — the belief that bankers will take greater risks because they’ll enjoy any profits while shifting losses to taxpayers.

Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking his or her car, because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company.

If Congress had been aware of the extent of the Fed rescue, Kaufman says, he would have been able to line up more support for breaking up the biggest banks.

Byron L. Dorgan, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, says the knowledge might have helped pass legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which for most of the last century separated customer deposits from the riskier practices of investment banking.

“Had people known about the hundreds of billions in loans to the biggest financial institutions, they would have demanded Congress take much more courageous actions to stop the practices that caused this near financial collapse,” says Dorgan, who retired in January.
Getting Bigger

Instead, the Fed and its secret financing helped America’s biggest financial firms get bigger and go on to pay employees as much as they did at the height of the housing bubble.

Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.

For so few banks to hold so many assets is “un-American,” says Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “All of these gargantuan institutions are too big to regulate. I’m in favor of breaking them up and slimming them down.”

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data. The banks spent $146.3 billion on compensation in 2010, or an average of $126,342 per worker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up almost 20 percent from five years earlier compared with less than 15 percent for the average worker. Average pay at the banks in 2010 was about the same as in 2007, before the bailouts.
‘Wanted to Pretend’

“The pay levels came back so fast at some of these firms that it appeared they really wanted to pretend they hadn’t been bailed out,” says Anil Kashyap, a former Fed economist who’s now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “They shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people find some of the stuff that happened totally outrageous.”

Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch & Co. at the urging of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson after buying the biggest U.S. home lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. When the Merrill Lynch purchase was announced on Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America had $14.4 billion in emergency Fed loans and Merrill Lynch had $8.1 billion. By the end of the month, Bank of America’s loans had reached $25 billion and Merrill Lynch’s had exceeded $60 billion, helping both firms keep the deal on track.
Prevent Collapse

Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank by deposits before the 2008 acquisition. Because depositors were pulling their money from Wachovia, the Fed channeled $50 billion in secret loans to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank through two emergency-financing programs to prevent collapse before Wells Fargo could complete the purchase.

“These programs proved to be very successful at providing financial markets the additional liquidity and confidence they needed at a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” says Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for Wells Fargo.

JPMorgan absorbed the country’s largest savings and loan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. The New York Fed, then headed by Timothy F. Geithner, who’s now Treasury secretary, helped JPMorgan complete the Bear Stearns deal by providing $29 billion of financing, which was disclosed at the time. The Fed also supplied Bear Stearns with $30 billion of secret loans to keep the company from failing before the acquisition closed, central bank data show. The loans were made through a program set up to provide emergency funding to brokerage firms.
‘Regulatory Discretion’

“Some might claim that the Fed was picking winners and losers, but what the Fed was doing was exercising its professional regulatory discretion,” says John Dearie, a former speechwriter at the New York Fed who’s now executive vice president for policy at the Financial Services Forum, a Washington-based group consisting of the CEOs of 20 of the world’s biggest financial firms. “The Fed clearly felt it had what it needed within the requirements of the law to continue to lend to Bear and Wachovia.”

The bill introduced by Brown and Kaufman in April 2010 would have mandated shrinking the six largest firms.

“When a few banks have advantages, the little guys get squeezed,” Brown says. “That, to me, is not what capitalism should be.”

Kaufman says he’s passionate about curbing too-big-to-fail banks because he fears another crisis.

‘Can We Survive?’

“The amount of pain that people, through no fault of their own, had to endure — and the prospect of putting them through it again — is appalling,” Kaufman says. “The public has no more appetite for bailouts. What would happen tomorrow if one of these big banks got in trouble? Can we survive that?”

Lobbying expenditures by the six banks that would have been affected by the legislation rose to $29.4 million in 2010 compared with $22.1 million in 2006, the last full year before credit markets seized up — a gain of 33 percent, according to OpenSecrets.org, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, OpenSecrets.org reported.

Lobbyists argued the virtues of bigger banks. They’re more stable, better able to serve large companies and more competitive internationally, and breaking them up would cost jobs and cause “long-term damage to the U.S. economy,” according to a Nov. 13, 2009, letter to members of Congress from the FSF.

The group’s website cites Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver E. Williamson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, for demonstrating the greater efficiency of large companies.
‘Serious Burden’

In an interview, Williamson says that the organization took his research out of context and that efficiency is only one factor in deciding whether to preserve too-big-to-fail banks.

“The banks that were too big got even bigger, and the problems that we had to begin with are magnified in the process,” Williamson says. “The big banks have incentives to take risks they wouldn’t take if they didn’t have government support. It’s a serious burden on the rest of the economy.”

The Moral Hazard.

Dearie says his group didn’t mean to imply that Williamson endorsed big banks.

Top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration sided with the FSF in arguing against legislative curbs on the size of banks.
Geithner, Kaufman

On May 4, 2010, Geithner visited Kaufman in his Capitol Hill office. As president of the New York Fed in 2007 and 2008, Geithner helped design and run the central bank’s lending programs. The New York Fed supervised four of the six biggest U.S. banks and, during the credit crunch, put together a daily confidential report on Wall Street’s financial condition. Geithner was copied on these reports, based on a sampling of e- mails released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

At the meeting with Kaufman, Geithner argued that the issue of limiting bank size was too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions, Kaufman says. According to Kaufman, Geithner said he preferred that bank supervisors from around the world, meeting in Basel, Switzerland, make rules increasing the amount of money banks need to hold in reserve. Passing laws in the U.S. would undercut his efforts in Basel, Geithner said, according to Kaufman.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Geithner, declined to comment.
‘Punishing Success’

Lobbyists for the big banks made the winning case that forcing them to break up was “punishing success,” Brown says. Now that they can see how much the banks were borrowing from the Fed, senators might think differently, he says.

The Fed supported curbing too-big-to-fail banks, including giving regulators the power to close large financial firms and implementing tougher supervision for big banks, says Fed General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. The Fed didn’t take a position on whether large banks should be dismantled before they get into trouble.

Dodd-Frank does provide a mechanism for regulators to break up the biggest banks. It established the Financial Stability Oversight Council that could order teetering banks to shut down in an orderly way. The council is headed by Geithner.

“Dodd-Frank does not solve the problem of too big to fail,” says Shelby, the Alabama Republican. “Moral hazard and taxpayer exposure still very much exist.”
Below Market

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, says banks “were either in bad shape or taking advantage of the Fed giving them a good deal. The former contradicts their public statements. The latter — getting loans at below-market rates during a financial crisis — is quite a gift.”

The Fed says it typically makes emergency loans more expensive than those available in the marketplace to discourage banks from abusing the privilege. During the crisis, Fed loans were among the cheapest around, with funding available for as low as 0.01 percent in December 2008, according to data from the central bank and money-market rates tracked by Bloomberg.

The Fed funds also benefited firms by allowing them to avoid selling assets to pay investors and depositors who pulled their money. So the assets stayed on the banks’ books, earning interest.

Banks report the difference between what they earn on loans and investments and their borrowing expenses. The figure, known as net interest margin, provides a clue to how much profit the firms turned on their Fed loans, the costs of which were included in those expenses. To calculate how much banks stood to make, Bloomberg multiplied their tax-adjusted net interest margins by their average Fed debt during reporting periods in which they took emergency loans.
Added Income

The 190 firms for which data were available would have produced income of $13 billion, assuming all of the bailout funds were invested at the margins reported, the data show.

The six biggest U.S. banks’ share of the estimated subsidy was $4.8 billion, or 23 percent of their combined net income during the time they were borrowing from the Fed. Citigroup would have taken in the most, with $1.8 billion.

“The net interest margin is an effective way of getting at the benefits that these large banks received from the Fed,” says Gerald A. Hanweck, a former Fed economist who’s now a finance professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

While the method isn’t perfect, it’s impossible to state the banks’ exact profits or savings from their Fed loans because the numbers aren’t disclosed and there isn’t enough publicly available data to figure it out.

Opinsky, the JPMorgan spokesman, says he doesn’t think the calculation is fair because “in all likelihood, such funds were likely invested in very short-term investments,” which typically bring lower returns.
Standing Access

Even without tapping the Fed, the banks get a subsidy by having standing access to the central bank’s money, says Viral Acharya, a New York University economics professor who has worked as an academic adviser to the New York Fed.

“Banks don’t give lines of credit to corporations for free,” he says. “Why should all these government guarantees and liquidity facilities be for free?”

In the September 2008 meeting at which Paulson and Bernanke briefed lawmakers on the need for TARP, Bernanke said that if nothing was done, “unemployment would rise — to 8 or 9 percent from the prevailing 6.1 percent,” Paulson wrote in “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010).
Occupy Wall Street

The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.

The Tea Party, which supports a more limited role for government, has its roots in anger over the Wall Street bailouts, says Neil M. Barofsky, former TARP special inspector general and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor.

“The lack of transparency is not just frustrating; it really blocked accountability,” Barofsky says. “When people don’t know the details, they fill in the blanks. They believe in conspiracies.”

In the end, Geithner had his way. The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.

They take full effect in 2019.

Meanwhile, Kaufman says, “we’re absolutely, totally, 100 percent not prepared for another financial crisis.”(Bloomberg)

Feel better now? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

The Ruling Elite Exposed

One of the biggest scandals in American politics is waiting to explode: the full story of the inside game in Washington shows how the permanent political class enriches itself at the expense of the rest of us. Insider trading is illegal on Wall Street, yet it is routine among members of Congress. Normal individuals cannot get in on IPOs at the asking price, but politicians do so routinely. The Obama administration has been able to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to its supporters, ensuring yet more campaign donations. An entire class of investors now makes all of its profits based on influence and access in Washington. Peter Schweizer has doggedly researched through mountains of financial records, tracking complicated deals and stock trades back to the timing of briefings, votes on bills, and every other point of leverage for politicians in Washington. The result is a manifesto for revolution: the Permanent Political Class must go.
For the Palin Deranged, let it be known he has worked for her and shares her ideas so you may want to consult your Thought Police Manual before continuing…Thank you.
Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
The Point is not that it’s the Democrats or The Republicans doing it, it’s both!
The fact is NEITHER of them should be doing it is the point!
Martha Stewart went to Jail for “insider trading”.
Congress does it as matter of course. It’s a normal part of the day. Nothing special.
Perfectly Legal. They wrote the laws that say so! 🙂
They get opportunities that would send us normal people to jail, they can do it with abandon.
It turns out that it is not illegal for member of Congress to make stock trades using inside information they learn while working on legislation.
So they can use, say, the passing of Health Care Laws to buy and selling stocks that would be effected by it to enrich themselves.
Or an earmark for a major road to be built conveniently near property you just bought.
They could get out of the Stock Market before it crashed in 2008.
You could buy IPOs not available to normal people (Nancy Pelosi).
Conflict of Interest is not illegal for Congress. Everyone else, yes, Congress, No.
Political Intelligence groups data mine and gather the non-public info in Congress and sell it to Wall Street so they can all make money.
Yes, that evil Wall Street that is so “evil” and so is the subject of so much hypocritical demonizing.
Thus you may surmise that a political opposition to Big Brother Obama was psychologically necessary in order to provide an internal enemy posing a threat to the rule of the Party; the constantly reiterated ritual of the Two Minutes Hate help ensure that popular support for and devotion towards Big Brother is continuous.
So it’s Orwell’s  Hate Week is an event in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, designed to increase the hatred for the current enemy of the Party, as much as possible but now they have 24/7/365 newscasts and cable channels along with newspapers to keep it going ad infinitum!
But again, it’s Both Republicans and Democrats.
The Democrats tell the masses to hate Wall Street, but they are using Wall Street to get rich.
Rich people are evil.
Then they use info that would be a normal person a prison sentence to get rich.
They are the Political and Economic Elite.
They are in fact, the very thing they are saying is evil and that the class warfare is supposed to be about but they have re-directed it.
Class Warfare is a fraud. It’s a Diversion. It’s an Orwellian Hate ploy.
Fascinating. Disgusting. And perfectly Legal, for them.
One set of rules for the Ruling Elite. One set of rules for the peasants.
Is that Democracy?
No.
This is both Republicans and Democrats!
By the way: Mr. Warren “tax me more” ‘Darling of the Left’ Buffet is one of the major influences. Aw shucks…
One of the most damaging things reported by Schweizer is how Warren Buffett profited with millions from the government bailout programs he helped design. Wynton Hall, writing in Big Government says: In the wake of the $700 billion TARP bailout, Warren Buffett apparently shaped a plan to clean up toxic assets that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner later adopted–resulting in massive profits for Buffett.
Buffett proposed something he called a “public-private partnership fund.” For every $10 billion the private sector invested, Buffett said the government should put up $40 billion.
As the political debates surrounding the proposed $700 billion TARP bailout bill heated up, Buffett maintained an appearance of naivete, an “aw shucks” shtick that deferred to the judgment of politicians.  “I’m not brave enough to try to influence the Congress,” Buffett told the New York Times.
During the meeting, Buffett strongly urged Democratic members to pass the $700 billion TARP bill to avert what he warned would otherwise be “the biggest financial meltdown in American history.”
That soundbite sound familiar? 🙂
After Paulson’s exit, incoming Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner tweaked the plan and rolled it out in March 2009. But according to quarterly reports from Buffett’s holdings company, Berkshire Hathaway, between the time the billionaire crafted his plan and Geithner adopted it, Buffett quietly purchased 12.4 million shares of Wells Fargo stock and 1.5 million shares of U.S. Bancorp. Once the government unveiled its “Public-Private Investment Program,” bank stocks jumped, resulting in large profits for Buffett.
In September of 2008, Buffett invested $5 billion in the over-leveraged investment house of Goldman Sachs, having obtained impressive terms: Berkshire Hathaway would receive preferred stock with a 10% dividend yield, and the option to buy another $5 billion at $115 a share.
Buffett had a strong financial interest in the bailout’s passage, says Schweizer. “If the bailout went through, it would be a windfall for Goldman. If it failed, it would be disastrous for Berkshire Hathaway.”

Yet Buffett had little reason to worry; his insider political connections afforded him two guarantees. First, many members of Congress were themselves investing heavily in Berkshire Hathaway throughout the bailout talks–a move that may simply have been a good investment in an unsteady time, or else a shrewd exploitation of unique information. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), for example, snatched up $130,000 worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock.  Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also bought shares in Berkshire Hathaway, as did Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who purchased half a million dollars’ worth just days after the Wall Street bailout bill was signed.  Second, Buffett knew he had an ally in the surging Barack Obama. Buffett had backed Obama in 2008. And as Obama has himself conceded, “Warren Buffett is one of those people that I listen to.”

When the TARP bailout passed, Berkshire Hathaway firms received a staggering $95 billion in bailout cash from U.S. taxpayers. In total, TARP-assisted companies made up almost a third (30%) of Buffett’s entire publicly disclosed stock portfolio. The payoff:  by July 2009, Buffett’s Goldman bet and his congressional jawboning had yielded profits as high as $3.7 billion.

Incredibly, in a breathtaking public relations move, Buffett publicly complained that the government bailouts had put his company at a disadvantage,  because funders “who are using imaginative methods (or lobbying skills) to come under the government’s umbrella–have money costs that are minimal.”  Rolfe Winkler of Reuters best captured Buffet’s audacity: “It takes chutzpah to lobby for bailouts, make trades seeking to profit from them, and then complain that those doing so put you at a disadvantage.”

Still, despite Buffett’s apparent, and brazen, display of crony capitalism and political manipulation to produce billions in profits, Schweizer says that the most egregious part is that his behavior appears to have been entirely legal. Buffett merely leveraged his unique and powerful political connections to turn taxpayer money into massive private profits.

Now, with the 2012 presidential election right around the corner, Buffett plans to back President Obama again. In August 2011, the two men vacationed together in the plush surroundings of Martha’s Vineyard. Shortly thereafter, Buffett hosted an Obama fundraiser in New York City where contributors spent $35,800 for VIP tickets and the chance to discuss the economy with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO.

If Buffett’s political track record is any indication, his time spent alongside President Obama was an investment intended to yield a high rate of return–at taxpayers’ expense. (Big Government.com)

Aw shucks, Tax me More Warren is part of the disease, what a shock. And of Course, Obama has his ‘full support’ $$$$

In January, Obama specifically said, “But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

We were told to change our rhetoric, to have a new “tone” of civility free of violent references.

Fast forward to now, and Obama’s Vice President Joe Biden, is telling unions they “fired the first shot” at a campaign events.

“Folks, you fired the first shot. It’s not about Barack Obama. It’s not about Joe Biden. It’s about whether middle-class people are going to be put back in the saddle again – because you are the people who make this country move,” Vice President Joe Biden said at a campaign event in Ohio today.

Thanks for leading by example, Biden.

But then again, The Unions are the Brownshirts, the army of this Adminstration and as has been chronicled in this blog many times, the incestuous $$ partners of Democrats.

So the Circle of Sleeze continues. But don’t worry, it’s <fill in the blank>’s Fault! 🙂

Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain…

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez
Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

 Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell
Political Cartoons by Gary McCoy

Occupy Hollywood

More Hope & Change: 🙂

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

More hilarity for “99% er” Millionaire Michael Moore. Who seems to want some media attention more than anything else. Any publicity is good publicity.

Too bad he’s gone so Hollywood. Roger & Me is deeply cynical and hilarious. But we come from the same town and the movie was about the same time I was growing up there, so I understood the humor and the sarcasm. Then.

In Denver: Moore, ever the populist $50 millionposeur, did not disappoint. “Everybody is a leader!” he insisted. “Wage slaves! That’s right. You know, historians — I believe that’s what they’re going to call us. They’re going to call us all wage slaves!” (would that apply to the little people who work for a guy who has $50 Million Dollars like he does?)

When Michael Moore told Piers Morgan that he was not among the hated 1 percent, he wasn’t lying. That’s because with a net worth upwards of $50 million he’s among the top 0.1 percent.

This story appears in the Nov. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

One of the many things that bug me about the industry in which I work is the large population of phonies who claim to be liberal, caring, green and unaffected by their wealth and fame but in reality are just as self-centered and addicted to their huge, over-air-conditioned living spaces and private planes as those at whom they point their fingers. And none is more phony and finger-pointing than Michael Moore.

But it looks good. And in Hollywood, Perception IS reality. And in Democrat Politics Perception is the ONLY reality they want.

Moore seems to be everywhere of late, talking about the “occupy” movement and fashioning himself its spokesmodel. I saw him on CNBC blowing hard and receiving kid-gloves treatment from Carl Quintanilla. On Piers Morgan Tonight, Moore said, “How could I be in the 1 percent?” When Morgan made the statement that Moore is “worth millions,” Moore responded with “No, that’s not true.” He went on to justify that comment by saying, “Even though I do well, I don’t associate myself with those who do well.” Although Morgan started off a bit confrontational, he, like most other interviewers, backed down fast. In my opinion, a lot of important issues are being brought up by the “occupiers,” but overall, this protest would be better served if those speaking on its behalf were of cleaner hands and less hypocritical than Moore, who has suckled mightily at the teat of “those who do well.”

In 2005, the Weinstein Co. set up financing of about $500 million to fund production and distribution. The investment vehicle was created and syndicated by a little firm called Goldman Sachs. One of the films that was produced by TWC using funds from that investment was Moore’s documentary “Sicko”. Given the success of his previous film, Fahrenheit 9/11, which he made with Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Moore was able to command a terrific deal for himself.

For which he is suing The Weinsteins for  alleged “financial deception” and “bogus accounting methods” in their production deal.

Apparently, the “wage slave” feels he’s owed more $$$ millions. 🙂

By 2010, TWC had burned through the capital raised in the Goldman Sachs deal. Investors were forced to restructure their arrangement, meaning some suffered a devaluation of their investment. Goldman also lost some money it put in TWC, but it could handle the loss in part because it was a recipient of the government’s TARP bailout. Some unlucky investors might never get back the money they put into funding TWC.

Not unlike other bad investments set up by Goldman Sachs and others during this period, some people did make out quite well, while others, often lower on the food chain, suffered. One of those who did quite well using the TWC funds was Moore.

While I don’t know for sure what Moore received on his movie, given his previous success, it likely was several million dollars. Sicko, produced by TWC but released in 2007 by Lionsgate, did not perform as well as Fahrenheit, earning $36 million at the box office. But Celebritynetworth.com pegs Moore’s net worth at more than $50 million, and Moore is suing TWC for $2.7 million more in profits from Fahrenheit. (Reports at the time of the lawsuit said Moore already had received $19.8 million from TWC for that film alone.)

If Moore really wants to be seen as someone outside the circle of those he is protesting, it would be great if he would disclose how much he has made off his TWC-backed movies and why he was willing to associate himself with financing set up by Goldman Sachs. Further, journalists should start showing more backbone in testing the veracity of statements made by those who use the media to disseminate a holier-than-though message.

Never happen. They are too dishonest and in-the-tank for that to happen. There are virtually no actual journalists left, the vast majority are just Propagandists.

There are many reasons our country is in financial trouble, and some do relate to misdeeds by Wall Street executives. Calling attention to such misdeeds and issues of income inequality is a good thing. But the true fault of what put us in this situation resides with the government that gave leeway to those who contributed to political campaigns and provided jobs to those who ran between the various administrations and the private sector. Having a hypocrite blowing hard about groups of people in whose number he himself should be counted diminishes the impact and validity of the message.

Ah, who cares, he’s a Liberal, so we’ll give him a pass…

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Now this made me laugh:

“I have made it to the big time. I’m on MSDNC…”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vitn50hI0OA