Category Archives: Social & Political

Our “CEO President” and the economic record

George W. Bush liked to call himself a “CEO President”—though even that conceit has passed away now—so let’s look at the record of the performance of our economy to see what his results look like.

Here is the Dow Jones Industrial Average from the first business day after Inauguration Day in 2001 through today.

George W. Bush's economic stewardship in a nutshell

You can check this yourself here. Unfortunately, we are not done, yet.

By the time Bush leaves office, his team of cronies and their lax approach to regulation will have managed to do worse damage to the economy than the 9/11 terrorists—who were trying.

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My Twitterscript of the debate tonight

Mitch I’m getting back to work on a project now…. debate over, Obama took this one.via Twitter – 7:37pm – Comment

Mitch “Our country’s business” is so much more than war, but that is all I hear McCain talk about when he talks about America: fighting.via Twitter – 7:34pm – Comment

Mitch Terry Scherry nodded to Obama at the end of Obama’s answer, suggesting he won that one with the questionner.via Twitter – 7:30pm – Comment

Mitch Obama’s “all the tools/scalpel” vs. McCain’s I’ll-take-hammer-to-it generalties is the story of this debate.via Twitter – 7:29pm – Comment

Click to continue reading “My Twitterscript of the debate tonight”

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Palin’s pal: Anti-American, Iranbuddy

Salon takes a look at Sarah Palin’s hypocritcal portrayal of Barack Obama as “friend of terrorists.”

“My government is my worst enemy. I’m going to fight them with any means at hand.”

This was former revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers back in his old Weather Underground days, right? Imagine what Sarah Palin is going to do with this incendiary quote as she tears into Barack Obama this week.

Only one problem. The quote is from Joe Vogler, the raging anti-American who founded the Alaska Independence Party. Inconveniently for Palin, that’s the very same secessionist party that her husband, Todd, belonged to for seven years and that she sent a shout-out to as Alaska governor earlier this year. (“Keep up the good work,” Palin told AIP members. “And God bless you.”)

That’s a “God bless you” aimed at secessionists who, as the article goes on to explain, have solicited the support of the Iranian government to gain United Nations support for Alaskan independence.

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Disgusting AIG antics exposed at hearing

Watching the chairman of Lehman squirm yesterday when asked about his half-billion dollars in pay was fun, but the fact AIG execs are already back to the high-flying lifestyle is simply infuriating.

After Bailout, AIG Executives Head to Resort:
Less than a week after the federal government offered an $85 billion bailout to insurance giant AIG, the company held a week-long retreat for its executives at the luxury St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., running up a tab of $440,000, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said today at the the opening of a House committee hearing about the near-failure of the insurance giant.

Showing a photograph of the resort, Waxman said the executives spent $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa.

“Less than a week after the taxpayers rescued AIG, company executives could be found wining and dining at one of the most exclusive resorts in the nation,” Waxman said. “We will ask whether any of this makes sense. “

Waxman should press for criminal investigations as to whether the bailout made this illegal. And, if it didn’t, then we should make it illegal until these companies have paid back every penny of taxpayer money with interest.

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An alternative to the bail-out that makes sense

James K. Galbraith writes in the Washington Post, arguing that, with all the big investment banks gone already, the best move is to fund the FDIC to cover all deposits and just be done with it. Then, take steps to shore up local governments.

It’s a thoughtful alternative to buying bad paper. Read, think.

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Imagine we bailed out homeowners

There would be huge uproar if the United States bought out the distressed mortgages in the country and just let the people who had trouble with their loans remain in the house, just wiped the slate clean. Yet that is what the bank bail-out will do, if the U.S. buys up all the bad debt banks hold while leaving the healthy banks “unclogged” (to use President Bush’s plaque-in-the-veins metaphor of this evening) and ready to operate profitably, again.

Make no mistake, helping taxpayers recover the value lost on that “toxic paper” would be the lowest priority on Wall Street.

On the other hand, if the U.S. government bought up all the bad mortgages, foreclosed on them and, then, let the people who defaulted live in those homes on rental terms, eventually providing programs to buy homes back from the government, that would be considered a fair treatment by many voters. The assets seized would offset the cost of the mortgage losses and provide the basis for recovering the losses later by selling the property. We’d be tangibly helpful to distressed families, giving them a roof over their heads while opening the door to their repaying the cost of the home in rent and, ultimately, new mortgages.

Why is the U.S. not taking the same approach as it did to AIG when it failed last week? The U.S. government now owns about 80 percent of the company in exchange for the cash it needed to stay afloat. There are already investors interested in buying that equity at a profit to the government.

Wall Street should be sold off to the government, just as mortgage-holders in default would find their homes repossessed, and the companies receiving money from the public held responsible to the taxpayers as shareholders, because without that public money, they will be out of business. Surely, if the crisis is resolved, the assets will be worth more, but so too would there be viable economic reasons to buy those assets back from the government at a profit.

If the bail-out goes ahead based on the U.S. buying “toxic paper” the banks, for all intents and purposes of analogy between these scenarios, will end up owning their homes and mortgage-free. The U.S. government will be left holding the paper that representeds inflated values of assets held by others — no collateral and, therefore, unlikely to be treated as a pressing debt to be paid by responsible people who want to own their property.

I don’t doubt we need to do something about the credit crisis–I just think we should treat the recipients of the largesse of the U.S. taxpayers like any business would treat someone asking it for value: Ask for security that the debt will be repaid. Then, the bankers can keep their banking houses and learn to run their businesses responsibly before buying out their saviours, the American people.  We could even cap the premium the government demands to make sure that, once the industry is able to profit honestly, it could become a truly private concern.

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Legislators from both sides agree: Rip-off

It may be needed, but the bail-out shouldn’t come in the form of a give-away to the banks, Congress says.

This is when the vaunted “bipartisanship” Republicans demand at every turn actually becomes a real debate and negotiation. In this case, the only people in favor of the bail-out in its current form are the Bushies. This is why we need a strong Congress, not a unitary executive.

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