Friday, September 19, 2008

Wall Street's On Sale, Baby!

17 September 2008

Oh, poor, poor CEO of AIG. He has only been in the position for a few months and is forced into the ranks of the unemployed...with his Golden Parachute of $5 million. I sure wish my unemployment check had been that paltry back in 2003. How is he EVER going to make his house payment, car payment, credit card payments AND his health care COBRA payment now that he is out of work on that paltry $5 mil???? Boo-hooo!

Big question is whether he would he have been collecting that check if the Fed (with your children's future dollars) hadn't bailed AIG out of bankruptcy to the tune of $85 BILLION!?? Where does it stop. Used to be that people were held responsible for their gross negligence. Now, corporate failure begets Fed bailout. Oops, it was a mistake. No one to blame. Clear out folks, nothing to look at here! Fat cats save the skin of fat cats and all you other schmoe's that are losing your houses because of the sub prime issue and your retirement investments due to funds mismanagement are SOL. The curse of being born a peasant. But we need to just take our medicine since McCain and camp have declared us to be "a nation of whiners"!

Hard to believe that it was just this last weekend, Merrill Lynch stumbled only to be scooped up at the fire sale by BofA, and then Lehman Bros went tits up. Good thing the Fed is there to make good on all those paper promises by mortgaging the futures of your kids great-grand kids at this point. It just keeps getting better and better. I just don't know what we'd do without John McCain here to reassure us that "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."

At the root of things he may be correct, but the sting of mortgaging generations into future decades is making that remark a rather hard sell to the average American...six weeks prior to the election. Americans don't want to listen to a used car salesman at this point but want acknowledgment of what they already know (Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus AND yes, we ARE in a recession) and a detailed plan to change the direction things are currently going. Right now that isn't easy. Especially when the bailout of Wamu is probably next in line later this week or early next week.

Bottom line really is that the Fed and Washington are too focused on mitigating the pain for Wall Street but don't give a rat's ass about mitigating the pain on Main Street. Some sort of assistance for the middle class caught up in the sub prime issue has languished on the back-burner. Hmmmm, elite helping the elite. These CEOs of all these failed, slipping Wall Street giants should be ashamed to be taking the Golden Parachutes when you see the worker bees losing all their investment in the companies they used to work for from lost 401K bennies, lost health care bennies and lost jobs and soon, lost cars and homes.

But take heart, due to the recent bankruptcy laws change pushed through by lobbyists and the Republicans, the every day broke-ass middle class schlub will be held accountable for every penny of debt they incurred for years after their bankruptcy case is discharged in the court. YEAH! AND they will be hounded for years into their retirement until they make good on all those odds and ends they purchased thirty years ago, but thought would be discharged and forgiven when they filed for bankruptcy protection twenty years ago (even though it was written off as "bad debt" by the credit card company twenty-five years ago) Another fine law improved upon under this President's watch.

But don't blame him, he was only watching out for his elite buddies in the banking industry that needed protection from those middle class cheats trying to avoid paying for their purchases by having their debt discharged. Debt they were convinced by the banking industry to incur anyway. Guess that Starbuck's latte and those Chinese do-dads you bought with your credit card five years ago AREN'T as "priceless" as MasterCard led you to believe they were!

Meanwhile, back at the Treasury, Bernanke is giving Paulson a hand, putting in extra hours in the basement printing presses printing up more bills for the impending bailout of Wamu and whoever is next on that list. Their biggest worry is whether they have waited long enough to let the ink dry before cutting and stacking the piles of new bills at Treasury. Wouldn't want any ink smudges on those new bills, now would we? Uncle Sam and the Fed are on a spending spree! Woo-hoo!! Wall Street's on Sale, baby!! Nationalize it all! Socialism and Communism is great when you paint it blue and call it "free market." You can bet that those huevos on that big bull statue on Broadway and Wall have been cut off, put on a plaque and are now hanging in Bernanke's office on the wall behind him!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Election Year Rave

12 September 2008

Sorry that i haven't been writing much. I just have been "in a mood" and haven't done much emailing or writing lately. Some of it has to do with my schedule. The past five weeks, I've been doing 7X12's. I don't have a social life anyway, so I don't worry about that, but it might be nice to sleep in one day soon. Just got notice that I'm going to Kuwait for three weeks of classes...CCNA and Promina (Cisco classes and mux classes). Maybe I'll finally be able to test on that CCNA. Looking forward to taking off for vacation in December. It will be nice to finally be home for Christmas. The first one in four years.

The hot, hot weather just broke here in Baghdad yesterday. We had our first rainstorm today since March! I got woken up by the thunder about 1230pm. We had a wicked sandstorm two nights ago and yesterday morning before all the rain. I ran yesterday morning and had fine dust sandblasting my face the whole time. When I showered and took Q-tips in my ears, they came out brown! Yech! :P But when I woke up at 6pm yesterday, the temps were only 95F when they are usually around 102-106! Tonight it must have been around 85...it's almost chilly out! :)

Got a nice email from one of my friends at Lucent. She is worried. Lucent is going to have yet another lay-off. Starship Lucent is slowly breaking up in pieces. The job market back home isn't getting any better, but noone at home can seem to understand why I keep a good-paying job here! Go figure...hmmmm, pay the mortgage or let it go into forclosure. No-brainer! I don't understand how people can even think of giving the Republicans four more years of a pissy economy, higher inflation, higher fuel costs and more bank failures. Yeah, sign me up for four more years of THAT!

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Disclaimer: I am usually not one to talk politics with people and go out of my way in the office to avoid it at all costs. I'd just as soon cut off my right hand as talk politics at work. Like religion, way too volatile! But since this is my blog, I will speak freely! Speaking of religion, I'm not anti-Christian...you'd probably find me more rabidly Lutheran.
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Been keeping up with politics too. Among all our system monitors, we keep CNN/Fox News up on one. So who am I voting for? No question...Obama. I'm having a hard time with McCain and his former (but not reformed) lobbyist wife....What do you call a busload of lobbyists careening over a cliff? A GOOD START!!!! And I find Palin downright scary. We don't need any televangalist eventually running the country. Has nothing to do with her being a woman cuz I was all set to vote for Clinton had she won the ticket. I still feel she and Obama would have been a stronger ticket, but that's past now. McCain has lots of room to talk about Obama being a celebrity, when he and his team set out to make sure they got their own!

It certainly has caused a stir, but how long until the public finds out that they're looking at Oral Roberts in a skirt? If I remember correctly, we have a separation of church and government. Increasingly over the last 8 years, government policy has been and is being dictated by church values without regard to the impact on all American's rights. And the reason for all the concern of the Repub's vice choice is that McCain would be the oldest elected president on record if elected. Figure the odds and extrapolate a future under a Palin-led government.

So how ridiculous is it that I'm here at work at 0630am on the 12th watching Sarah arrive in Anchorage at about 630pm Anchorage time on the 11th? Sounds like the whole city of Anchorage is crazy-nutso about The Wicked Witch of the North returning home. You'd think she just walked on the moon or something! Sheez! What a big to- do about nothing. It's not like the Repub's have let her speak anything unscripted to date. How many days did it take to install that chip in her head anyway? They have cloistered her away and monitored her every move up till today. They should save some of that celebration for the troops who should be returning home...until they get diverted to Afghanistan. You know that's what is going to happen.

This week, one of my friends asked me what I thought of Sarah? I sent her this little montage of editorial comics that I think fairly represents my opinion on the matter. On my Yahoo page, I have a few editorial cartoons that I regularly subscribe to by comics writers Ben Sargent, Pat Olifant and Tom Toles who are my personal faves. I've always been a big editorial comic fan ever since my college years at Southern Illinois University! It's not that I'm NOT progressive (and my nickname for some reason around here is Hippy!), but I don't know if we're quite ready yet for "Todd, the First Dude!"...Sarah's phrase, not mine! Almost sounds presumptuous...like she is already burying that dinosaur McCain and having "Todd the First Dude" picking out new White House china! Doesn't Noritake have a new Northwest-motif moose and polar bear pattern?

When I sent one of my friends in Alaska the comics, his instant response was "Leave Sarah be!!" His response was almost reminiscent of the "Leave Brittany alone!" video on Youtube, don't you think? Although I'm sure he wasn't as teary-eyed (nor does he wear mascara to have it running down his face...that I know of, at least) as the creator of that video, when he typed that message to me! Ha!!

If she wanted us to leave her be, she very well can still crawl back in her cave and take her flying monkeys with her!!! But I don't think that is going to happen. Actually, I have a lot of respect for her and kind of like her spunky attitude. She has the 'moxie' for the VP job, I just don't like her mix of religion and politics. But how do we keep her from taking any hunting tips from Cheney? It is going to be a very interesting 7 weeks to come.

Getting down to brass tacks, it is supposed to be about issues. For the record, I personally would never want an abortion, but we were raised in a home that believed that some people want that choice. I remember being told by Mom that Great, great Aunt Annie had an abortion in the 1930's and that was why she and Uncle Tom couldn't have kids. I'll never know now if that is true because all the family members that could verify the story are dead, but it certainly gave us something to think about when were were growing up.

If you criminalize it, you lose control of it at all stages and send it back to the back-alley. You make a criminal out of someone who is only trying to make ends meet or stigmatize someone who has chosen not to procreate for various reasons...usually financial. (Read Ilse Eichinger's, Spieglegeschichte - Mirror Story...don't know if an English translation from German is available, but after having to translate this short story in German class my Junior year in high school, it solidified my belief that allowing "choice" is better than the painful death of a botched back-alley abortion)

If you read Freakonomics, the author specifically suggests that the lull in crime now is because more women 30 years ago to present, chose abortion. Fewer unwanted children were brought into the world and left to a poor upbringing so fewer criminals were spawned. May sound a bit far fetched, but it's an interesting hypothesis. I'm sure the Pope doesn't like planned procreation, but he doesn't get to vote here. Sure we will all have to answer to the Higher Being at some point, but that is a very personal one-on-one meeting and I'm sure She will hear us out and let us know what we need to improve on in our next iteration! (How "hippy' did THAT just sound???!! I think I need to chill out and get me a cup of hemp tea!)

At any rate, Palin is WAY, WAY too right-wing for me. Restricting rights, ignoring rights or taking rights away from people does not make the issues disappear. Abortion, stem cell research, gay rights/gay marriage, Medical care, senior car, Rx drug packages and social programs all are issues that should be left to the determination of the States anyway. I'm a foaming-at-the-mouth "States rights" advocate. The Federal govt is way too involved in issues that should be left to and should have been left to the individual State's discretion. The founding fathers are rolling in their graves right now! This country was founded on less federal government and not sticking their noses into issues that should be dealt with at the State level whenever possible.

While I'm on a roll here, Carl, I have been doing a lot of thinking about this whole Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae bailout. I've come to the conclusion that at this point in this banking and housing crisis, we are no better than a communist regime painted blue instead of red. If the federal govt now owns/or is "conservator" over more than 50% of the loans covering property in the US... that pretty much means the U.S. government and Uncle George own our behinds. (And it's the IRS that wants to screw our behinds! One stop shopping now for ol' Uncle Sugar)

Then add in the fact that the Fed (since Uncle Ben took the reigns) allows itself to summon trillions of dollars for any "emergency" bailout of ANY financial organization under ANY circumstances that have chosen to practice unethical methods of investment and give out unverified loans without even batting an eyelash!! Which means the bonehead CEO's of these rescued corporations get their Golden Parachutes and noone is held accountable for bad accounting, massive losses and skirted law. Ethics is no longer enforced, considered or permitted. Why worry? The Fed will bail you out provided you have gifted enough payola to your lobbyists in your corner!

Now add to this, billions of tax dollars being given back to taxpayers to try and stimulate a lackluster ecomony, leaving yet more deficits for us and future generations to deal with later...all the while festering with more interest like yeast in a loaf of bread dough rising in a warm place in the kitchen.

Bush came into the presidency with a relatively balanced budget handed to him and wrapped in a gold bow but is somehow now leaving us hundreds of millions in the red. I think that is called f-ing up a one-car parade! Add to that red ink, millions of dollars per day spent on my salary and that of over 150,000 contractors and 145,000 military members and all the equipment, food and other resources necessary to maintain this civilian and military occupation of the Middle East for nearly five years. We sound more and more like a failed communist super-power by the hour. Yep, we need four more years of this, now don't we?

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