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Archive for March 23rd, 2009

Wouldn’t Let Geithner Quit Even if He Tried, Obama Says

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:54 am by HL

Wouldn’t Let Geithner Quit Even if He Tried, Obama Says

Obama and Geithner

Although Timothy Geithner is under fire from several directions, especially because he failed to stop the AIG executive bonus train from arriving at its destination, President Obama continues to actively support him. In fact, Obama says he wouldn’t let Geithner quit even if the treasury secretary tried to do so at this point.

BBC:

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will not be allowed to resign amid criticism of his short term in office, President Barack Obama has said.

Mr Obama told CBS News he would turn down any offer by Mr Geithner to quit, and would tell him: “Sorry, buddy, you’ve still got the job.”

But Mr Obama stressed that the pair had not spoken about the possibility.

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Obama: I’ve Gotten Lost In White House “Repeatedly”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:53 am by HL

Obama: I’ve Gotten Lost In White House “Repeatedly”
WASHINGTON — Sasha and Malia Obama “are adapting remarkably” to life in the White House, according to their father _ who added, “They do seem…

Schwarzenegger Rumored To Be Eyeing Senate Seat
Is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – the former bodybuilder and action hero – getting ready for the next big starring role in his larger-than-life political career?…

Michael Likosky: A Drinking Water-Backed Economy
As politicians and pundits continue to pillor Wall Street and the Beltway for bad investments, on this week’s Meet the Press, David Gregory welcomed a…

Obama “60 Minutes” Interview Transcript (VIDEO)
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEOS Here is the transcript of part one of President Obama’s interview with “60 Minutes”: STEVE KROFT: Were you surprised by the…


Wash. Post still reporting GOP attacks over bonuses while ignoring IG testimony implicating Bush administration

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:51 am by HL

Wash. Post still reporting GOP attacks over bonuses while ignoring IG testimony implicating Bush administration

In a March 22 Washington Post article, staff writers Michael D. Shear and Paul Kane wrote that “Republicans have seized on the AIG issue in the belief that it has the potential to link Obama more closely to the widely unpopular $700 billion bailout legislation for the financial sector — legislation that was crafted in the Bush administration.” Shear and Kane went on to report Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) saying of the Obama administration: “They’re in charge. … This could be a game changer in one sense. It’s tapped into the populist outrage.” However, Shear and Kane did not note that, as Media Matters for America has documented, Neil Barofsky, a Bush-appointed special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), stated in March 19 congressional testimony that the Bush administration Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their abrogation as a condition of AIG’s receiving bailout money through a stock purchase agreement signed by AIG and the Bush Treasury Department.

Previously, the Post reported on March 20 that after Congress’ move to “levy punitive taxes on bonuses paid by financial firms receiving government aid,” the “Republicans voiced strong objections to the tax approach, calling it a smokescreen for the [Obama] administration’s faulty oversight of the Troubled Assets Relief Program.” The article quoted Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) as saying, “It sounds to me like these guys are trying to cover their tracks,” and also reported: “Eager to blame Democrats as not preventing the bonuses, GOP lawmakers pointed to a last-minute tweak last month to the $787 billion stimulus package that allowed for bonuses that were signed in contracts before Feb. 11.” However, according to a Media Matters search*, the Post has yet to report on Barofsky’s testimony about the negotiations of the stock purchase agreement.

In prepared testimony for a March 19 House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Barofsky stated, “Preliminary information we have seen indicates that the TARP contract between AIG and Treasury that was entered into back in November specifically contemplated the payment of bonuses and retention payments to AIG employees, including AIG’s Senior Partners.” He also stated that his office “will be reviewing the process at Treasury with respect to Treasury’s decision to authorize and approve such payments, both at the time it entered into the contract with AIG and since that time.” During an exchange with Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) in the hearing, Barofsky explained that in AIG’s November 2008 agreement with the Bush Treasury Department, “retention payments were explicitly contemplated.” From the testimony (transcript retrieved from the Nexis database):

REP. ROSKAM: You mentioned the online aspect of the disclosure of the TARP agreements. Would those online disclosures, as they’re currently exercised by Treasury, would they have revealed the AIG problem?

MR. BAROFSKY: It would have revealed that in the AIG agreement with Treasury, retention payments were explicitly contemplated. It didn’t list the contracts; it didn’t list the amounts, but in the executive compensation provisions, there’s an explicit reference to retention payments in calculating the total amount of payment a senior executive could receive. So that issue was, in fact, in those agreements.

REP. ROSKAM: So is it fair to say that if they had been online, that issue would have been red flagged and certainly drawn attention in advance to the problem?

MR. BAROFSKY: Potentially. I’m not sure of the exact date that the AIG agreement did go up on the Internet. Our recommendation was sort of adopted in waves after it was made in late December and is now being fully complied with. But I’m not sure the exact date the AIG agreement went up.

REP. ROSKAM: I understand.

Thank you. I yield back.

Indeed, the executive compensation section of the Bush Treasury Department’s November 2008 TARP agreement with AIG addresses the “annual bonus for 2009” for “Senior Partners,” including “all retention payments paid or payable to such Senior Partner under any retention arrangement between the Senior Partner and the Company for any period ending on or prior to March 31, 2010.” The section states that such bonuses “shall not exceed 3.5 times the sum of such Senior Partner’s base salary and target annual bonus for 2008” and does not mention retention payments for other AIG employees.

A graphic accompanying the March 22 article in the print edition of the Post reported that in “[m]id-October,” “Treasury and Fed officials beg[a]n directly dealing with AIG compensation issues” and that on November 11, “AIG reveal[ed] Financial Products bonuses in its third-quarter filings for the first time.” But like the article, the graphic did not note Barofsky’s testimony or mention the executive compensation provision in the November 2008 TARP agreement between Bush’s Treasury Department and AIG.

From the March 22 Post article:

In his weekly radio and Internet address yesterday, Obama made no mention of the AIG bonus scandal, choosing instead to use the forum to urge lawmakers to pass his budget. He plans to do the same at his second prime-time news conference Tuesday night.

His call on Congress to take up “the important work of debating this budget” is unlikely to do much to shift the political conversation away from where it has been for seven days.

Even as the president left Washington mid-week for town hall meetings on the budget and an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” his Treasury secretary became the whipping boy for congressional anger as lawmakers proceeded to draft legislation aimed at punishing AIG executives for the bonuses.

“Quite simply, the Timothy Geithner experience has been a disaster,” Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said Tuesday in calling for the secretary’s resignation.

The AIG controversy has prompted Republicans to more directly attack Obama than at any time since he took office. At a Thursday session with reporters, Senate GOP leaders personally mocked him as a dilettante president, busy making lighthearted appearances on television, even talking about college basketball on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“He’s even found time to fill out his NCAA bracket,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said.

[…]

Republicans have seized on the AIG issue in the belief that it has the potential to link Obama more closely to the widely unpopular $700 billion bailout legislation for the financial sector — legislation that was crafted in the Bush administration.

“They’re in charge,” Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said of the Obama administration. “This could be a game changer in one sense. It’s tapped into the populist outrage.”

* Nexis search of Washington Post database was “(Barofsky or inspector general or November) and (AIG or bonus! or retention or (contract or agree!)) and date aft 3/18/2009”


Are Obama’s Problems Generational?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:50 am by HL

Are Obama’s Problems Generational?
One of the major themes of Barack Obama’s political philosophy has been that it’s time for America to move beyond the Baby Boom Generation’s petty partisanship. In The Audacity of Hope, he wrote that when he observed politics in his younger days, “I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the Baby Boom Generation — a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago — played out on the national stage.” Once he became a presidential candidate, Obama picked up on the theme. “I think there is no doubt that we represent the kind of change that Senator Clinton can’t deliver on, and part of it is generational,” he said. In a key article boosting Obama in December of 2007, Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic argued that Obama “could take America — finally — past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom Generation that has long engulfed all of us.” So Obama, even though some would technically still consider him a late baby boomer (or part of the transitional “Generation Jones” — born in 1961) became the president of a new generation, boosted by strong support among an even younger generation. In the White House, he has surrounded himself with his generational cohort, including Rahm Emanuel (two years older) and Tim Geithner (same age as the president).


Cuomo Has Names Of AIG And Merrill Bonus Recipients

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:49 am by HL

Cuomo Has Names Of AIG And Merrill Bonus Recipients
It looks like Andrew Cuomo holds all the cards. He now has in hand the names of the recipients of both of the corporate payouts that have provoked all that populist rage lately. A judge earlier this week ruled that…





Connecticut AG Subpoenas AIGers For Testimony On Bonuses
This could be good. Not content with letting New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo hog the spotlight, his Connecticut counterpart, Richard Blumenthal, has subpoenaed several AIG employees, incluing CEO Ed Liddy, to testify about those bonuses, totaling $165 million, at…


The Tattlesnake – Red Tails in the Sunset Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:44 am by HL

The Tattlesnake – Red Tails in the Sunset Edition
Wall Street Will Soon Become Insignificant to Our Financial Future “The reality is that the American overclass has just been on the most amazing feeding frenzy for three decades now, to the extent that they’ve simply lost any sense of proportion, whatsoever. The sense of predatory entitlement has become what water is to fish. It is […]


Economy Board Meeting in Private

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Economy Board Meeting in Private
Six weeks after President Obama “appointed a blue-ribbon panel to help him dig America out of its economic crisis, the board has yet to hold an official public meeting,” Politico reports.

“Comments from board members and Obama himself indicate that some members of the panel are meeting, in smaller gatherings that have not been announced or opened to the public. And that raises the question of whether an administration that prides itself on openness and transparency is in fact finding it more convenient to conduct public business in private.”

Obama Does 60 Minutes
In his longest interview since being sworn in, President Obama sat down with 60 Minutes in the Oval Office for a fascinating conversation about the AIG bonuses, the economy, and how he’s dealing with the world’s most difficult job.


The Top 10 Aphrodisiac Foods

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:42 am by HL

The Top 10 Aphrodisiac Foods
Asparagus, honey, bananas and other foods can get you in the mood and help get your blood flowing down to your sexy parts.

Is It Morally Wrong Not to Send Thousands Each Year to the Developing World?
Controversial ethicist Peter Singer says that the destitution abroad compells us to share our wealth, even in an economic crisis.

The Big Takeover: How Wall Street Insiders are Using the Bailout to Stage a Revolution
The global economic crisis isn’t about money — it’s about power.

The French Nuclear Industry Is Bad Enough in France; Let’s Not Expand It to the U.S.
Areva, France’s nuclear industry, has a solid reputation, but a trail of radioactive waste and deaths in Africa follow its wake.

Looking for Support in Hard Economic Times?
Part mutual aid association and part social action group, common security clubs offer a great way to take action.


Soros, Tyson, Martin Wolf to Headline Discussion on What Will (or Won’t) Replace US Consumer

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:41 am by HL

Soros, Tyson, Martin Wolf to Headline Discussion on What Will (or Won’t) Replace US Consumer
Regrettably, the Obama administration seems to be fumbling the ball on an economic policy course that restores confidence in the American economy on both the optics level and also on a substantive front that reorganizes the “social contract” and design…

Travel Journalist Rick Steves on Iran: Smart, Smart Stuff
Check this out. Everyone knows travel journalist, Rick Steves, but few — I certainly didn’t — know that he is very political and very smart about the world he covers. In this interview about his recent travels with Iran, he…

Did Israel Intentionally Subvert Obama’s Iran Message?
Yesterday when the New York Times inexplicably gave Shimon Peres’ threatening and insulting message to Iran equal play with President Obama;s, I thought it might be no coincidence. Peres, who is an uberhawk on Iran, suddenly sends “greetings” to the…


Kristol Complains That Obama?s Iran Message Is ?Weak? And ?Embarrassing?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 23rd, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Kristol Complains That Obama?s Iran Message Is ?Weak? And ?Embarrassing?
In his latest column for the Weekly Standard, super-hawk Bill Kristol addresses President Obama’s recent Persian New Year message to the Iran’s leaders and its people, calling it a “message of weakness.” He is upset that Obama didn’t use the words “liberty,” “freedom,” “democracy,” or “human rights” and chastises Obama for referring to Iran as […]

In his latest column for the Weekly Standard, super-hawk Bill Kristol addresses President Obama’s recent Persian New Year message to the Iran’s leaders and its people, calling it a “message of weakness.” He is upset that Obama didn’t use the words “liberty,” “freedom,” “democracy,” or “human rights” and chastises Obama for referring to Iran as the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” claiming that doing so means that Obama is “kowtowing” to Iran’s leaders.

On Fox News Sunday this morning, Kristol picked up where he left off in his column and continued to whine about Obama’s move, calling it “a weak and embarrassing statement by the President of the United States.” Fox News’s Brit Hume piled on, complaining that it “appears” that the U.S. has now “joined the rest of the world and practicing the diplomacy of talk.” Watch it:

It is sad to see that Kristol hasn’t learned from any of the Bush administration’s foreign policy mistakes. He still appears to be happily wedded to neoconservatism, the results of which are on full display, most notably in Iraq, where after six years of war, Americans and Iraqis are still dying because of the most disastrous foreign policy blunder in American history.

But also, Kristol’s vision is what has contributed to where we are with Iran today — a bigger, more powerful player in the region that is closer to a nuclear weapons program. Yet as Triti Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, points out, rhetoric preferred by Kristol actually served to help Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and that Obama’s “historic” approach “now may ‘un-help‘” him. Carnegie Endowment expert Karim Sadjadpour agrees:

What this message does is, it puts the hard-liners in a difficult position, because where the Bush administration united disparate Iranian political leaders against a common threat, what Obama is doing is accentuating the cleavages in Iran,” Mr. Sadjadpour said. “It makes the hard-liners look increasingly like they are the impediment.”

Other experts have “applauded” Obama’s move, and called it “very significant.” The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana said it was “very constructive.” Thus, the only thing that is “embarrassing” in this instance is the fact that Bill Kristol keeps trying to play 2002 all over again.

O?Reilly: If Cheney had ?an assassination squad,? he would have killed Seymour Hersh ?a long time ago.?
During a speech at the University of Minnesota last week, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claimed that the Bush administration had employed “an executive assassination ring” that “reported directly to the Cheney office.” In an Boston Herald op-ed today, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly mocked Hersh’s claim, saying “If Cheney really had such a crew,” reporters like […]

During a speech at the University of Minnesota last week, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claimed that the Bush administration had employed “an executive assassination ring” that “reported directly to the Cheney office.” In an Boston Herald op-ed today, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly mocked Hersh’s claim, saying “If Cheney really had such a crew,” reporters like Hersh would have already been killed:

The other day, left-wing muckraker Seymour Hersh went on MSNBC and said he had information, provided by the usual anonymous sources, that Dick Cheney was running an assassination squad out of the White House.

I have but one simple observation: If Cheney really had such a crew, Hersh would have been dead a long time ago, and so would most everybody at MSNBC.

Update At Newsbusters, Noel Sheppard calls O’Reilly’s column “fabulous” and “delicious,” writing that he expects “O’Reilly to take a great deal of heat for his opening quip concerning Hersh and MSNBC, and for me to similarly be defamed by all manner of left-wing shill for having the nerve to repeat it.”