Archive for the ‘President Bush’ Category

Why Spitzer Had to Go?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

Here’s another one sent to me by Chris – this time by my son Chris rather than my friend-since-ninth-grade Chris: http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/291.html As the link points out, the takedown of Elliott Spitzer for admittedly sleazy behavior, using what should have been confidential FBI information, took place shortly after he publicly pointed out the role of the Bush administration in creating the subprime mortgage mess by blocking the efforts of the state attorneys general to regulate lenders and investigate predatory lending. It sort of reminds me of the way Nixon used the IRS as his personal political hit team against people that made his enemies list.

God Loves Guns

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Based on the President’s Easter benediction, you would think God loves guns. Certainly, it’s plain: God loves strong military might.

On Easter, we hold in our hearts those who will be spending this holiday far from home — our troops on the front lines. I deeply appreciate the sacrifices that they and their families are making. America is blessed with the world’s greatest military, made up of men and women who fulfill their responsibilities with dignity, humility, and honor. Their dedication is an inspiration to our country and a cause for gratitude this Easter season.

God Bless America, may she always be right!

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…..psst…what are you doing looking down here….yes, May God Bless America and may she always be right….That’s what I typed….

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psstt….why do you continue to scroll down…what? We weren’t right about WMD in Iraq? My goodness, do you think we are on shaky ground here?

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Psst…why do you keep scrolling down….God does live the Military, particularly ours. God thus, must love guns, no? Am I wrong?

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Allah Akbar!

The Madness of King George

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Our F*ck Up-in-Chief likes to portray himself as a bold leader who keeps his head while all around him lose theirs. That’s true enough as far as it goes. He’s certainly bold - although brazen might be a better word - and he does steadfastly keep his head. The only problem is that it’s empty.

More than once, people have wondered about the cranial pea he keeps rolling around. First he was criticized for living in a bubble and then conservative pundits like Joe Scarborough began to wonder aloud if he was stupid. Even Nelson Mandella posited that he “couldn’t think correctly” and several foreign ministers have remarked on their low esteem for the boob.

I’m currently reading Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, by psychologist Justin Frank. In the book, Frank does a little forensic psychology to see if he can determine just why the president seems so bat-shit crazy. Frank definitely has an anti-Bush point of view so I take what he says with a grain of salt. However, many of the things he discusses in the book match up well with known events and continue to surface four years after Frank wrote the book.

The Psychotic Break Begins
Now five years along in Iraq, I used to think his reassurances that Iraq was going swimmingly were just the rants of a craven politician angling for better poll numbers. Now I wonder if those weren’t the first clear signs that he wasn’t just disingenuous, he was literally in the throes of a psychotic break.

(more…)

No Basis For Comparison

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Found out this about Barack Obama’s mother:

Kansas was merely a way station in her childhood, wheeling westward in the slipstream of her furniture-salesman father. In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor.

Makes me wonder what George W. Bush’s mother has done to advance the world. I’m sure there’s no basis for comparison, but it looks to me that Barak Obama is coming from a solid rather the entirely privileged lineage like some Presidents we know.

George Bush (Brillant Master Of The Obvious) Says, “In The Long Run, Our Economy Is Going To Be Fine”

Monday, March 17th, 2008

No one ever claimed that George Bush has a powerful intellect. Certainly, you can’t expect more from the man who claimed a while back that we should “not misunderestimate” him. I cannot help but hearken back to that wonderful scene in the classic movie Animal House - where with the hoards roaring at him, the ROTC cadet yelling “all is well, remain calm” while getting flattened by the onrushing mob.

George Bush is so insignificant to the economy except for the inexcusable abuse of his administrations authority to get our country into this situation. His recent one minute speechifying is proof that he is irrelevant at this point in time:

9:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming by today to talk about the economic situation — we’ll be meeting later on this afternoon with the President’s Task Force on Financial Markets.

First of all, the Secretary has given me an update. One thing is for certain — we’re in challenging times. But another thing is for certain — that we’ve taken strong and decisive action. The Federal Reserve has moved quickly to bring order to the financial markets. Secretary Paulson has been — is supportive of that action, as am I. And I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for working over the weekend. You’ve shown the country and the world that the United States is on top of the situation.

Secondly, you’ve reaffirmed the fact that our financial institutions are strong and that our capital markets are functioning efficiently and effectively. We obviously will continue to monitor the situation and when need be, will act decisively, in a way that continues to bring order to the financial markets.

In the long run, our economy is going to be fine. Right now we’re dealing with a difficult situation and, Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you very much for your steady and strong and consistent leadership.

Thank you very much.

END 9:41 A.M. EDT

So, in the one minute it took George Bush to deliver his comments, has he been able to restore your faith in his leadership to deliver us from the mess he helped cultivate? Right, of course our economy will be fine in the long run. We recovered from the Depression right? It’s what’s happening right now that hurts.

Pretty soon, they are going to foreclose on the undelivered FEMA trailers and then what? Too bad George can’t think past saving his pals in big business. If he was so keen to screw the little guy by routing the Chapter 11 laws, why wouldn’t they have let Bear Sterns sink in it’s own sauce?

When it gets right down to it, we see the President and his staff doing the time honored W, Rove and Co thing, saving their friends asses, screwing the little guy, and then blaming some one else for the economy they delivered.

Q For people who are losing their homes, or losing their jobs, and then they see the government helping engineer this $30 billion line of credit for Bear Stearns, and help for other financial investment firms on Wall Street, how do you reconcile the two?

MS. PERINO: Well, the way I would answer that question is in two parts. One, this isn’t about bailing anyone out. These actions are intended, as I said earlier today, to minimize financial market disruptions. And investors in Bear Stearns are taking large and significant losses in this transaction. And that’s not what happens in a bail-out. They bought into a company, they took a financial risk — and it had paid off quite well for them a while ago, but today they’re looking at a stock that’s only worth $2. And the Fed, what they did last night, is try to provide liquidity to the markets so it would stabilize, and we could have orderliness in the system.

But I would also say that a major market disruption would have very damaging consequences and be very painful for everybody, from the small business owner to the homeowner, for everybody all the way up and down the economic food chain. And the goal here is to prevent a major disruption in financial markets. And the Fed is taking decisive action when necessary, and that is what they saw last night.

In addition to that, homeowners and small business owners and everyone across America needs to know that we’ve acted on multiple fronts, starting back in August — that was when the President recognized that we might be heading into some headwinds in the economy, with several different aspects of it. And if you look back consistently over those past several months, he has said that we needed to take some action. And over time, we proposed legislation, dealing with the housing market. We also worked with the private sector to help homeowners, through HOPE NOW, and then Project Lifeline. We supported legislation that would not penalize people for writing down mortgage debt when they did a refinancing. And that finally became law.

We haven’t had Congress act on one of the most important things they could do, which is Federal Housing Administration — changes in reforms that we’ve asked for. It’s been about seven months since the President first announced that, and Congress is now and again on a two-week recess, and nothing is going to happen.

But at the same time, back in January, the President said, when we worked on the stimulus package, that the reason that we’re doing that is because we could see in the future there could be a potential downturn in the economy. And so if things were to get worse, we would have a stimulus package in effect. We called that, remember, an insurance policy, a booster shot, that we said would take effect and have impact later in the summer. And the President and Congress were right to work together on that bipartisan package, because those tax rebates will be going out to people all across the country, including the homeowners that you talk about.

Q But, Dana, how does this square with sort of traditional conservative economic principles of limited government involvement in terms of, sort of, maybe culling the herd a little bit, letting the firms that are going to fail, fail, and thus more can sort of live on the back end?

MS. PERINO: Well, I would point out again that, remember, investors — Bear Stearns basically went from a company that was doing quite well to failure, and at $2 a share, I should think that those investors are seeing — feeling today the consequences of that risk in a marketplace. But I would remind you that what’s right for the markets and stability for the financial system had to be taken into consideration. And that’s what the Fed decided to do, is to act quickly, to act decisively, to make sure that we could provide what’s needed right now, which is stability and liquidity and orderliness.

And the Treasury Department is able to answer lots more of detailed questions, and the Fed certainly on historical questions in this matter.

Q But people who are facing, say, foreclosure, the individuals, the little guys who are facing a foreclosure are looking at the big guys getting government, if not brokered, certainly they’re overseeing deals that are engineered to sort of keep the big picture financial community afloat, and they’re saying, well, where’s my boost of liquidity?

MS. PERINO: They’re going to get that boost of liquidity in the form of a stimulus package and a tax rebate that’s coming to them the second week of May.

Q But that’s not going to save their houses.

MS. PERINO: The other way to help work on the housing issues is to take advantage of some of the programs that we have in place, to talk with HOPE NOW or Project Lifeline, for those who are in more serious dire straits, and also to work — for us to continue from the administration to call on Congress to finally take action on Federal Housing Administration reforms, which we think are necessary to help homeowners across-the-board.

But I would remind you, and remind consumers all across America, that the decisive action taken by the Fed yesterday was precisely to prevent long-term economic harm to everybody in the United States, including, as you said, the little guy.

Right, so they are suggesting the 300 or 800 so dollars you and I get are the equivalent of the multi-billion dollar bail out of the investment industry? Right. When was the last time Reagan applied strategy of “trickle down economics” actually worked to help leverage the little guy up out of an economic hole she or he didn’t create?

Uh Oh!

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Sure fire way to get the market to tank even further? Add President Bush’s sharp intellect to solving the fiscal woes of our country:

President George W. Bush plans to meet on Monday with top U.S. financial policymakers, the White House said, at a time of increased strains in credit markets and fears of a recession.

What’s that sucking sound? That’s the market drowning in corporate bail outs (read: corporate welfare) for the already rich (Bear Sterns ring a bell any one). Any one taking bets on if Bush will be able to fix this situation like he’s fixed Iraq?

GWB: The Cash In The Cradle & The Silver Spoon - I’m Gonna Be Like Him

Friday, March 14th, 2008

I try to avoid making unequivocal assertions…but if my instincts are correct, I’m not taking much of a risk in predicting that the calamity that will define this Bush presidency will not be the Iraq war. As with his father’s presidency, it will be the economy. Yes, the Iraq war will be factored into the equation that facilitated one of the worst recessions in modern times, but numerous other missteps will receive far more attention.

With the Savings and Loan scandal of the late 80’s as my point of comparison, I expect the magnitude of this recession to be much deeper and far more complex. Frankly, the fact that we survived events like the S & L scandal and the tech bubble have only contributed to the lackadaisical policies that have fostered an air of invincibility. This false confidence has resulted in a deadly conflation of economic poisons that will place a strain on our financial fortitude that hasn’t been witnessed since the Great Depression.

For months, the Bush administration has sought to convince the American public that the economy is sound. Unfortunately, the hollowness of those assurances expands exponentially with each new report. Today’s news is awash with further warnings of economic uncertainty. The President’s remarks, in response to the growing storm clouds, simply highlight the mindset that has typified his inclination to ignore information that doesn’t comport with his rose colored rhetoric.

Unfortunately, I fear this president suffers the misconception that he can tackle this systemic economic malaise in the same manner he addressed the many miscalculations that have plagued the prosecution of the Iraq war. Sadly, brute force has little relevance when it comes to the economy. As with the troop surge, the attempts by the Federal Reserve to pump more money into the economy in order to prop up flailing financial institutions fails to address the dire dynamics that underly the debacle.

Let’s pause to review the observations of others.

From The Wall Street Journal:

It is a very logical progression. Peloton, Carlyle, Focus — hedge funds and other non-deposit-taking financial institutions (NDFIs) are now being hit by the credit crunch, which had so far been mainly confined to mortgage lenders and the banks.

The Federal Reserve has reacted. Its Term Securities Lending Facility aims to encourage investment banks and prime brokers to lend to NDFIs and so relieve those parts of the credit market it cannot reach with its rate cuts and loans to banks.

So far its liquidity injections have got no further than the banks. Now it hopes to reach higher. Unfortunately, it won’t work.

The Fed is like King Canute with a difference — it is trying to halt an ebbing tide rather than a rising one. Its liquidity injection seems huge at $200 billion (with perhaps more to follow), but it is still only equivalent to one-third of the expected losses in the NDFI sector.

Moreover, the Fed’s readiness to accept almost any asset at just below face value as collateral will prevent price discovery. That means the U.S. financial system will remain burdened with uncleansed balance sheets that penalize future lending and economic growth.

Creating a lot of liquidity does not resolve an issue of solvency, which is now the driver of credit contraction. All the Fed will achieve is a dollar that will be further debased and inflation that will be higher. It cannot stop the process of deleveraging and asset price decline.

The credit crisis is unfolding as we expected, but more slowly than anticipated, because of the actions taken by central banks (mainly the Fed) and the U.S. government to allay its effects. The wholesale socialization of credit has meant that government and central bank measures account for 70% of new credit since last summer.

But these policy measures will not prevent asset-price deflation or credit contraction, which are functions of risk appetite and general readiness to maintain current levels of gearing throughout the economy. The non-bank sector has the potential to inflict more damage on the system than banks, because it has a much smaller capital cushion for a much more volatile and risky balance sheet.

Credit contraction translates through the financial system into a reduction in available credit for the non-financial corporate sector, and thus into reduced investment and growth in the real economy. The size of that contraction can be estimated from the leverage ratios of the financial sector and their impact on real GDP growth.

We estimate that nonfinancial corporate debt ultimately will have to shrink by 11%-12%. This will generate a decline of five percentage points of real U.S. GDP growth and push the U.S. into recession. Europe’s real GDP growth will contract by two percentage points.

Essentially, the point being made by the author is that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to lower interest rates is inadequate to address the fundamental problem - the value of the assets that underly much of the existing debt is in a period of contraction…largely as a result of the collapsing housing industry.

As such, the ability of lenders to lend is limited. They lack the capital needed to make loans; let alone the capital required to support declining equity positions and the increasing default risks that are associated with these loans. Hence, the Fed’s efforts to infuse the economy with the capital needed to spur growth isn’t going to be sufficient. Even worse, should this contraction lead to lender insolvency, the likelihood of the need for a huge government bail out advances. If this happens, I believe it will be far larger than the one witnessed during the S & L scandal.

From The New York Times:

The Fed’s economic power rests on the fact that it’s the only institution with the right to add to the “monetary base”: pieces of green paper bearing portraits of dead presidents, plus deposits that private banks hold at the Fed and can convert into green paper at will.

When the Fed is worried about the state of the economy, it basically responds by printing more of that green paper, and using it to buy bonds from banks. The banks then use the green paper to make more loans, which causes businesses and households to spend more, and the economy expands.

This process can be almost magical in its effects: a committee in Washington gives some technical instructions to a trading desk in New York, and just like that, the economy creates millions of jobs.

But sometimes the magic doesn’t work. And this is one of those times.

Instead of following its usual practice of buying only safe U.S. government debt, the Fed announced this week that it would put $400 billion — almost half its available funds — into other stuff, including bonds backed by, yes, home mortgages. The hope is that this will stabilize markets and end the panic.

Officially, the Fed won’t be buying mortgage-backed securities outright: it’s only accepting them as collateral in return for loans. But it’s definitely taking on some mortgage risk. Is this, to some extent, a bailout for banks? Yes.

Still, that’s not what has me worried. I’m more concerned that despite the extraordinary scale of Mr. Bernanke’s action — to my knowledge, no advanced-country’s central bank has ever exposed itself to this much market risk — the Fed still won’t manage to get a grip on the economy. You see, $400 billion sounds like a lot, but it’s still small compared with the problem.

Krugman offers a look into the risks being taken by the Federal Reserve to avert the looming collapse of financial institutions. The fact that the government is taking unprecedented risk signals the seriousness of the situation. The fact that the government has committed half of its available funds to this risk intensive effort suggests that the ultimate solution will require the government to appropriate additional funds…hence the bailout begins. The price tag of the S & L scandal would likely pale in comparison.

The impact to the overall economy could be mind-boggling since it would be apt to affect consumer spending. Falling home values would strip millions of Americans of the bulk of their accumulated wealth which would no doubt restrict their ability and willingness to spend money. The direct correlation of this intertwined cause and effect spiral could have disastrous consequences.

We haven’t even factored in the disproportionate numbers of baby boomers moving towards retirement. A worst case scenario could place the financial stability of many of these individuals in jeopardy at a time when the safety net of Social Security is also approaching insolvency.

From CNBC:

The United States has entered a recession that could be “substantially more severe” than recent ones, former National Bureau of Economic Research President Martin Feldstein said Friday.

“The situation is very bad, the situation is getting worse, and the risks are that it could get very bad,” Feldstein said in a speech at the Futures Industry Association meeting in Boca Raton, Florida.

“There isn’t much traction in monetary policy these days, I’m afraid, because of a lack of liquidity in the credit markets,” he said.

The Fed’s new credit facility, announced on Tuesday, “can help in a rather small way … but the underlying risks will remain with the institutions that borrow from the Fed, and this does nothing to change their capital,” Feldstein noted.

I simply don’t see the mechanism by which this strained liquidity can be alleviated in the near term. Pumping more cash into the system could have short term benefits but the risk to the already tenuous value of the dollar would likely outweigh them. Relying upon the standard bearers…the consumer…to spend us out of this mess seems unlikely. Rarely have prior recessionary periods been accompanied by such significant declines in home values.

Were we to see the emergence of sustained inflation, the picture becomes even more disconcerting. Many of the measures designed to address the liquidity crunch have the potential to do just that. Toss in our trade imbalance, the amount of debt held by the Chinese, and an international shift away from the dollar as the preferred reserve currency and one begins to see the growing alignment of negatives.

The fact that the American image has been tarnished during the current administration makes it difficult to imagine the kind of international cooperation we might have otherwise received during such a slowdown. In fact, don’t be surprised if a number of nations stand idly by as the perceived bully endures its comeuppance.

Returning to the Bush legacy, I recall the deteriorating situation faced by his father prior to the 1992 election. When the senior Bush expressed his amazement with the scanning technology found in grocery stores, his appeal and his connection to the average American is thought to have suffered. When the Clinton campaign added, “It’s the economy, stupid”, the stain became permanent.

The fact that the current president expressed surprise when a member of the press mentioned the prospects of $4.00 per gallon gas seems eerily similar to the last days of his father’s presidency…and it may also assist in cementing the economy as his legacy’s leading albatross.

George W. Bush’s seeming shortage of empathy for the plight of the average American shone through in his mishandling of Katrina, his passage of tax cuts for the wealthiest, his inept energy policy, and his willingness to sink trillions of dollars into the execution of a virtual vendetta in Iraq. These events will forever be tethered to his tenure and his successors are apt to spend years trying to repair the damage done.

They say the writing of one’s legacy is rarely finished since the past undoubtedly shapes the future. In the case of George Bush, I suspect he’d be best to hope that his influence on the future be less indelible than his unabashed attempts to color the present.

Gertrude Stein stated that a “rose is a rose is a rose”. Ernest Hemmingway responded with “a rose is a rose is an onion”. In thinking of the Bush legacy, I’m inclined to argue that a silver spoon may beget rose colored rhetoric…but a silver spoon full of rose petals rarely helps us swallow the thorns. When the bow breaks, the Bush legacy will fall.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Dear President Bush, Thanks For The STD!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

One of George Bush’s educational mainstays beyond the nutty notion that bringing mediocrity to our schools via No Child Left Behind is good was “abstinence only” education. Of course, what does that get you? Apparently, uneducated kids with large amounts of STDs.

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

How much did it cost us to learn that abstinence education really is a flop (not unlike energy deregulation)?

“The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

I suggest all teens with STDs who were forced into abstinence only courses send a nice post card to the Whitehouse and to George Bush saying “Thanks for the STD, Mr. Bush.”

Democrat Election Over Kill

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

With all the hype over the election it makes one wonder who the real person is that is actually the candidate for President of the United States of America. I can picture John McCain red faced with anger in a doubting mode just before bed forgetting where he put his glasses only to have his lovely wife point out that they are on the tip of his nose. Hillary, upon getting ready for bed would kick all of the campaign staff off the Clinton couches and out of the kitchen so she could get the 3:00 AM call from Bill at yet another undisclosed location. Barack would be rolling into bed as the stars were perfectly aligned, the sound of choirs from heaven above singing and just as he kissed Michelle good night she punches him solidly in the arm demanding that he shut the damn motivational tapes off and go to bed like a normal person.All of the candidates claim to be what is best for America and yet each has their own faults. While John McCain takes a walk as the duly elected next candidate from the Republican Party he is not the next President. He might as well be if the two candidates on the Democrat side keep up the daily slams of one another. He said, she said, is bull and the only one that wins in that kind of debate between Obama and Clinton is McCain.

I have been in constant contact with some very interesting friends and bloggers that write about politics all the time and this election is unique in a generation or more time span. Not since the primaries of Bobby Kennedy have the Democrats been so active with such a passion for politics that we are all in fact wearing our heart and soul candidate for President on our sleeves. Our choice of candidate no matter who it is can be and is the only hope for change in America. We are a political party so desperate for change that the actual process of selecting the one candidate to represent our political party could be our undoing. While we tear the candidates down in comments on blogs we in fact tear one another down in the process. Who benefits from that other than the one true candidate from the right, Senator John McCain.

If you do not know what Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama stand for then you have not listened. If you know one then you know the other and the end result is a Presidency based on change. Neither is George Bush and that is honestly clear. If you love W then by all means vote for more of the same in John McCain. If you want a new America not owned by special interest where the future is just a little bit brighter than a ten thousand year war in the Middle East then vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Pick a damn issue and they are close enough on those issues to be brother and sister arguing over who did the dishes the last time. As a voter you should not care who did the dishes last but care if you have a clean plate to start your meal off with.

If there is one more debate, Obama and Clinton should not bash one another over the issues but concentrate on what McCain will not do for the people. Other than his commitment to continue to send our sons and daughters off to fight in a land that would not recognize freedom even if it was stuffed down their throats. Isn’t that what Hillary and Barack are both running against anyway?

The people are voting in such large numbers because they do not want George Bush policies anymore. Concentrate on that and you win the election.

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Feel free to link to this post…

Working The Economic Voodoo: Bush’s Magic “Shot In The Arm”

Friday, March 7th, 2008

If you listen to W, today, you would think we are all but one shopping spree away from fixing what ails our economy.

Secondly, the growth package will provide tax rebates to more than 130 million American households. These rebates will begin reaching American families in May. And when the money reaches the American people, we expect they will use it to boost consumer spending, and that will spur job creation, as well.

Well, we all wish that were true. Unfortunately, it’s our reckless spending on wars and mortgages we can not afford that his killed George Bush’s economic plan.

When a person suggest that all we need do is go out and spend our way out of recession, she or he misses the whole point. It’s not spending that we have trouble with; it’s spending without the means to cover the costs. All Bush is doing is feeding our habitual spending beyond our means by encouraging “retail therapy.” That’s like giving crack free to the local crack head. Before you know it the blow is gone and you are back to the debt ridden operation you had before the check arrived. Sounds like more of that twisted brand of GOP fiscal conservatism that put us where we are now; in a very large hole with no ladder big enough to reach the rim out.

Well, shoot, if I get one extra Starbucks Latte out of my rebate check I’ll be happy, but I doubt it will create a new job. In fact, if I were responsible, I will simply have to sign over the rebate check back to the government to pay my tax bill in April.

Just out of curiosity, what do you plan to do with your check to accomplish the President’s aims?


Fish.Travel