Frontier Former Editor

March 17, 2009

Here’s another reason to major in history, or at least read it more than once every few years . . .

The Credit Mobilier scandal of 1872 – a good reason to hold big business’ s and elected government’s collective feet to the fire on a regular basis.

“Crédit Mobilier of America was formed by George Francis Train, the vice-president in charge of publicity for the Union Pacific Railroad. Crédit Mobilier of America was designed to limit the liability of stockholders and maximize profits from construction with the hefty fees being paid by federal subsidies. The company also gave cheap shares of stock to members of Congress who agreed to support additional funding  . . .

“It was claimed that the $72 million in contracts had been given to Crédit Mobilier for building a rail only worth $53 million. Union Pacific and other investors were left nearly bankrupt.”

Okay folks, and that was 57 years before the 1929 crash. Dubya, let’s go over the success of the “No Child Left Behind Act” again, shall we?

March 13, 2009

Where have you gone, Louis Rukeyser? Our nation holds its lonely eyes to you . .

If anyone ever questions or trivializes the role of satire and humor in society, they should remember this 10-minute segment.

Especially in a time where Citibank is hosting conference calls – on our tax dime – to encourage union-busting and who-knows-what-else.

What Stewart did is in the best tradition of Petroleum V. Nasby, Herblock, Samuel Clemens, Mort Sahl, George Carlin, Tom Lehrer and hosts of other humorists – ridicule, embarass, shame, humiliate and destroy anything that would prey upon society.

This society needs a huge sweep to remind ‘big business,’ ‘Wall Street,’ and every other over-dominant segment of the American business and political scene that acting like Charles Keating did in the  years leading up the the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s may not be child molestation but is just about as legally and morally defensible as being a child molester.

And while we’re at it on a bleak Friday afternoon, please allow Rush Limbaugh to continue broadcasting and expressing his opinion. Part of a free society is having the right to express one’s opinions and having the responsibility to defend the logic and rationality of those opinions.

And please allow Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele the right to express his political views for the same reason – even if he lacks the intellectual weight to generate rational policy and philosophical positions.

By the way – even Louis Rukeyser got caught violating federal trading rules, so be thankful, Jim Cramer. Be very, very thankful.

January 15, 2009

Even better than a ‘Simpsons’ rerun!

Our soon-to-be-ex-president makes a live speech to family and friends at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Guess he needed a sympathetic laugh track .

Just the other day, MSNBC ran parts of his press conference in defense of his presidency. The national lack-of-command-of-his-faculties authority defended the federal response to hurricane Katrina, noting that 30,000 New Orleans residents were rescued from their rooftops.

Let’s see. Thirty thousand people recovered from rooftops, as opposed to evacuating them – and thousands of others stranded in the city – before the hurricane. That doesn’t sanctify the federal response. It does, however, speak volumes of the courage of hundreds of military helicopter aircrew who risked their lives to rescue the victims of criminally stupid municipal, state and federal government officials.

Enjoy your speech, Dubya. If there was any justice on January 20, you’d get nothing more than a car ride to the train station so you could buy your own train ticket home.

December 13, 2008

Hey Blagojevich, you need to catch a Broadway show!

And what more appropriate show than ‘Chicago’?

I’m accepting new lyrics . . .

September 24, 2008

Wonder why Bush begged for public support on the bank bailout Wednesday night?

I knew there was something up when Bush’s deer-in-the-headlights look was more stunned than usual. Here’s a hint:

BEIJING, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

 

The Hong Kong newspaper cited unidentified industry sources as saying the instruction from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) applied to interbank lending of all currencies to U.S. banks but not to banks from other countries.

 

“The decree appears to be Beijing’s first attempt to erect defences against the deepening U.S. financial meltdown after the mainland’s major lenders reported billions of U.S. dollars in exposure to the credit crisis,” the SCMP said.

 

A spokesman for the CBRC had no immediate comment. (Reporting by Alan Wheatley and Langi Chiang; editing by Ken Wills)

They didn’t sell us the rope. They merely bought the paper funding the rope. And now, let’s hear Sarah Palin tell us this one is a task from God . . .

July 13, 2008

Translation: Things are pretty damned bad

There is a point, in financial markets, when things stop being psychological in origination and become real as hell. The housing market has been bad enough in recent months, but it’s a fairly good indicator that reality is in the parking lot when federal officials scramble to keep federally-backed paper from becoming just as worthless as the commercially-owned paper before it.

(from the Department of the Treasury website)

July 11, 2008
HP-1078

Statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. made the following comment today on news stories about “contingency planning” at Treasury:

Washington, DC–

 

“Today our primary focus is supporting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in their current form as they carry out their important mission.

“We appreciate Congress’ important efforts to complete legislation that will help promote confidence in these companies. We are maintaining a dialogue with regulators and with the companies. OFHEO will continue to work with the companies as they take the steps necessary to allow them to continue to perform their important public mission.”

 

and . . .

Paulson Statement on Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae: Full Text (from Bloomberg)

July 13 (Bloomberg) — Following is the text of a statement issued today by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a central role in our housing finance system and must continue to do so in their current form as shareholder-owned companies. Their support for the housing market is particularly important as we work through the current housing correction.

GSE (government sponsored entity – ed.) debt is held by financial institutions around the world. Its continued strength is important to maintaining confidence and stability in our financial system and our financial markets. Therefore we must take steps to address the current situation as we move to a stronger regulatory structure. In recent days, I have consulted with the Federal Reserve, OFHEO, the SEC, Congressional leaders of both parties and with the two companies to develop a three-part plan for immediate action. The President has asked me to work with Congress to act on this plan immediately.

First, as a liquidity backstop, the plan includes a temporary increase in the line of credit the GSEs have with Treasury. Treasury would determine the terms and conditions for accessing the line of credit and the amount to be drawn.

Second, to ensure the GSEs have access to sufficient capital to continue to serve their mission, the plan includes temporary authority for Treasury to purchase equity in either of the two GSEs if needed.

Use of either the line of credit or the equity investment would carry terms and conditions necessary to protect the taxpayer. Third, to protect the financial system from systemic risk going forward, the plan strengthens the GSE regulatory reform legislation currently moving through Congress by giving the Federal Reserve a consultative role in the new GSE regulator’s process for setting capital requirements and other prudential standards.

I look forward to working closely with the Congressional leaders to enact this legislation as soon as possible, as one complete package.

And add to that the run and panic on Indy Mac late last week:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — IndyMac Bank’s assets were seized by federal regulators on Friday after the mortgage lender succumbed to the pressures of tighter credit, tumbling home prices and rising foreclosures.

The bank is the largest regulated thrift to fail and the second largest financial institution to close in U.S. history, regulators said.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said it transferred IndyMac’s operations to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation because it did not think the lender could meet its depositors’ demands.

IndyMac customers with funds in the bank were limited to taking out money via automated teller machines over the weekend, debit card transactions or checks, regulators said.

Other bank services, such as online banking and phone banking were scheduled to be made available on Monday.

“This institution failed today due to a liquidity crisis,” OTS Director John Reich said.

While Shrub and his gang of idiots certainly have their share of the blame in this fiasco, they’re just part of a longer-term fiscal and financial idiocy amongst the government and citizenry of this fair land.

If anyone believes that the Democratic Party will be able to carry on with classic post-1960 American liberal policy and philosophy if Obama wins in November 2008, then you may want to go back and read some applied economics.

On the other hand, if anyone believes that a Republican-controlled 1600 Pennsylvania Ave can carry on with classic post-1979 American conservative thought and philosophy, then you might want to read up on the French Revolution, the Weimar Republic and 1929-1933 in the U.S. and Germany.

Brother can you spare a million Deutschmarks and a wheelbarrow?

June 9, 2008

Something more freakish than living-dead dog heads

 

namely, the man who would think he has even a snowball’s chance in the jet blast of an F-15 in afterburner of becoming Virginia’s junior U.S. senator. I give you . . . . . James Gilmore.

Yes, James Gilmore, whose administration gave me more than enough to do during my career as a reporter.

James Gilmore, whose political bright idea was to phase out Virginia’s local personal property tax on personal automobiles. It sounds good, until one realized that:

A) Gilmore’s bright idea included having Virginia replace the phased-out revenue with state tax revenues, so we could all pay for our lower car tax with our own state tax monies.

B) Gilmore slightly underestimated the cost to state coffers – he said $40 million in state revenue annually to pay for the phase-out. The actual cost? Try more than $100 million annually.

C) Gilmore’s vision of lowering the local tax burden on Virginia citizens would have qualified as legal blindness, since localities found themselves raising real estate tazes and other fees to meet the shortfall. Ergo, more local taxes on the hard-working Virginia taxpayer.

D) Less available state tax revenue meant less funding for things like education, transportation, public health, and teacher and state employee raises. (The last item always gives me a big chuckle, since one of my relatives goes on about how Gilmore’s Democrat successors as governor screwed deputies and corrections staff out of their raises. News flash: Gilmore spent damn near all the money on your raises on his goofy pyramid scheme to lower your car taxes).

And, to round out a fun-filled four years of Big Jim the Car Tax King, he managed to make enough of his own party mad enough at him so that two major Republican legislators came out today to support the Democratic candidate for Virginia’s U.S. Senate candidate, Mark Warner.

Yep, it’s in the Washington Post and the Roanoke Times

Warner, incidentally, succeeded Gilmore as Virginia governor and managed to work with most state Republican legislators to rescue basic services and the state’s bond ratings. The two Republicans – Delegate Vince Callahan and state Senator John Chichester – were the top overseers of the state budget legislative process and enjoyed the distinction of having Gilmore veto the budget plan they crafted in an attempt to clean up the mess he helped bring about.

I had the interesting experience of interviewing Gilmore and of observing his arithmetic skills. When asked to explain why he didn’t apply more of his own discretionary economic development fund to seducing businesses to southwest Virginia. Gilmore promptly countered with the fact that he had spent several tens of millions in that fund west of Marion – even after I gave him the out of asking if he meant Marion.

After a little fact checking with the state’s economic development arm, it turns out that he spent more like less than $10 million west of Roanoke. Roanoke, incidentally, is about 100 miles east of Marion.

This – among several other chapters in Gilmore’s four-year success story – leads me to believe that Gilmore’s map of Virginia west of Roanoke consists of a blank area captioned with “Thar be sea monsters beyond!”

It’s not that Gilmore is a Republican and his opponent is a Democrat. It’s that Jim Gilmore has to be one of the dumbest, out-of-touch people ever to be governor of Virginia. I could name three Republican governors of this state who, in their worst ever days each could show without effort the decency, grace and intelligence that would turn James Gilmore into a pillar of salt.

Please, Jim, take the advice of Biff from “Back to the Future” and just make like a tree and GET OUTTA HERE!

May 18, 2008

It’s always enlightening to hear self-assessment

Thanks to The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room, via  Virginia Virtucon for this rather revealing document.

Just for background, Tom Davis is a Virginia Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Given that my Commonwealth now houses Republican luminaries such as Oliver North, Pat Robertson, Jim Gilmore and others, I’m sure that Davis’ little dissection is going over particularly well.

Especially when the Republican National Committee is so inclined to public self-denial. Yep, we’re winning the hell out of the war in Iraq and we’re going to achieve peace in our time in Palestine, yessiree!

Excerpt:

“The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006 when we lost thirty seats (and our majority) and came within a couple of percentage points of losing another fifteen seats. Whether measured by polls, open seats, money, voter registration, generic ballot, Presidential popularity or issues, our party faces a steep climb to maintain our current numbers.

This slope is exacerbated by the fact that little has changed to improve our image over the past eighteen months and that voters looking for change are unlikely to embrace the same-old, same-old, which was overwhelmingly rejected in the last midterms. Members and pundits waiting for Democrats to fumble the ball, so that soft Republicans and Independents will snap back to the GOP, fail to understand the deep seeded (sic) antipathy toward the President, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures and, in some areas, the underlying cultural differences that continue to brand our party.”

Really? You think?

There’s probably a strong clue in this document as to why Tom Davis chose not to run for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s open U.S. Senate seat: the Democrat candidate makes a better fiscally responsible, socially moderate Republican than any national Republican could hope to even dream of being.

But at least Tom Davis has a fair grasp of why Republicans in general are a pox upon the land – not that the Republican National Committee rank-and-file are going to listen.

Don’t think that, by implication, this post means that I wholeheartedly support the opposition. After wading through the pre-election festivities to date, I’d almost be willing to raise Nixon from the dead and vote for him.

Nixon might have been a paranoid, sociopathic, drunken, revanchist monster with fascist and John Bircher tendencies, but you could at least trust him to be those things and corner him like a rat to control those tendencies. Come to think of it, he was probably a better domestic-affairs and foreign policy president than just about every president in the 20th century with the possible exception of Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

Hell, even Nixon was willing to talk with our enemies because he could speak from a common base of experience, philosophy and complete lack of ethical grounding. Tyrants and subverters of democracy can appreciate threats and cajoling from other tyrants and subverters.

Not so with the greasy, amateurish pack of three trying to win our hearts and minds this year.

October 7, 2007

And if you really support the troops . . .

stop spending money on those tacky-assed magnetic yellow or red-white-and-blue “Support Our Troops” ribbons and start riding the collective ass of your elected officials from legislators on up to the f*ckwit masquerading as Commander-in-Chief.

Latest example (courtesy of WCSH, Portland, Maine, ayuh):

National Guard Troops Denied Benefits After Longest Deployment Of Iraq War

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) — When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush’s surge.

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

“It’s pretty much a slap in the face,” Anderson said. “I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership… once again failing the soldiers.”

Anderson’s orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.”

And, fittingly enough, inset into the above article was this . . . .

  • Enlist In The U.S. Army

    Enlistment bonuses of up to $40,000 100% college tuition reimbursement.

    officialarmy.com

  • I am so goddamned tired of my government.

    September 23, 2007

    I agree wholeheartedly . . . .

    with Stiletto on this one:

    By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer Sat Sep 22, 1:59 PM ET

    WASHINGTON – President Bush again called Democrats “irresponsible” on Saturday for pushing an expansion he opposes to a children’s health insurance program.

    “Democrats in Congress have decided to pass a bill they know will be vetoed,” Bush said of the measure that draws significant bipartisan support, repeating in his weekly radio address an accusation he made earlier in the week. “Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point.”

    In the Democrat’s response, also broadcast Saturday, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell turned the tables on the president, saying that if Bush doesn’t sign the bill, 15 states will have no funding left for the program by the end of the month . . . . more

    (more…)

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