Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bail Outs and Golden Parachutes

Can't say I agree with a lot of the noise about restricting pay or parachutes for CEOs from the failing or failed banks/lending institutions. I think these things come in different parts that no one seems to want to separate.

First, if one company buys another failing company, usually they purge the managers who oversaw the failure. That is normal. Frankly, I think the politicians need to require that of any bank they bail out of this fiasco. You screwed up, you're gone BEFORE we bail you out.

Then there is the notion of restricting the pay of the new management. That strikes me as foolhardy. I could care less as to what is viewed as obscene. Especially from the context of what politicians make compared to their effectiveness. Do we really want politicians defining what is just compensation? Well, I suppose many Dems/Progressives do. Personally I think the pay should be bound to performance. But that doesn't happen, because in these institutions too much of the profit is directly tied to uncertainties that the manager just can't control.
I think some of the packages, particularly the massive separation packages for failed CEOs and even those of successful CEOs ($400M for departing Exxon-Mobile CEO) are obscene.

However - and this is important here - it is more obscene, nay unconstitutional, for the federal government to be entertaining the directing pay and compensation for private sector employees not on its own payroll. Laws on minimum wage are one thing, but putting a government imposed ceiling on earnings in a capitalist free-market economy smacks of class warfare and incremental socialism.

Incremental socialism indeed. We've had that creeping malignancy clawing into this country for a long time and I don't see any push back. I'm tired of seeing the government wanting to tell everyone what to do all the time. Both sides of the aisle play the game, just in different ways. The only problem is that the citizenry are the ones that end up paying.

Then there is the idea of a profit to be made by this whole bailout scheme. (link via the GeekWife)
There is a saying on Wall Street that goes, "The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent." Long Term Capital Management learned this lesson 10 years ago when it got its portfolio picked off by Wall Street as its short-term financing dried up. I had thought the opposite -- hedge funds picking off Wall Street -- would happen today. But in a weird twist, it's the government that is set up to win the prize.

Here's how: As short-term financing dried up, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's deteriorating financials threatened to trigger some $1.4 trillion in credit default swap payments that no one, including giant insurer AIG, had the capital to make good on. So Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship. This removed any short-term financing hassle. He also put up $85 billion in loan guarantees to AIG in exchange for 80% of the company.

Taxpayers will get their money back on AIG. My models suggest that Fannie and Freddie, on the other hand, are a gold mine. For $2 billion in cash up front and some $200 billion in loan guarantees so far, the U.S. government now controls $5.4 trillion in mortgages and mortgage guarantees.

Fannie and Freddie each own around $800 million in mortgage loans, some of them already at discounted values. They also guarantee the credit-worthiness of another $2.2 trillion and $1.6 trillion in mortgage-backed securities. Held to maturity, they may be worth a lot more than Mr. Paulson paid for them. They're called distressed securities for a reason.

My concern is for what will be done with the "profit." Let's see... We didn't have the money to actually pay for this bail out, and when we make a profit off of the non-existent money, not to mention the return of that money, where exactly will those funds go? I'm going to be really really cynical and place a big wager on they will SPEND it. They being the politicians. Not that we haven't seen similar things before, like say the spending of the Clinton era "surplus" which never came into existence. I understand the S&L debacle was profitable as well. Wonder where all that cash went? I certainly do. (Guess I'll have to try and search the internet for that answer. Though I have a suspicion that it was spent and not utilized on deficit reduction or anything intelligent.)

Read that article it's fairly interesting.

Then there is the rants on protecting the homeowners.
The bailout's structure must be altered. While the credit markets must be reassured, homeowners must also receive help to avoid unnecessary foreclosures. The Center for Responsible Lending projects 6.5 million foreclosures in the next several years. This will cause a $356 billion decline in surrounding property values for the 46 million families that live next to foreclosed homes.

Therefore, once the Treasury purchases distressed financial real-estate assets, I strongly urge the government to require mass modifications to owner-occupied home loans. This moderate investment might prevent thousands of foreclosures and considerable economic damage, much as the FDIC is doing with the loans it manages due to the failure of IndyMac bank.

I suppose I have some heartburn over that. Should we be bailing out homeowners who intentionally took on loans they KNEW they couldn't afford? This especially irks me because I wasn't smart enough to jump into this whole bailout scheme. I could have gone and bought a half-million dollar house on sub-prime and then gotten bailed out by the government. (Well, not really. I wouldn't have qualified for any of those loans from what I have discovered.)

I can understand whacking CEOs that frigged up the market legally since they weren't being responsible, but bailing out the bad loans from the other side is hypocrisy on a grand level. CEOs that make big bucks are held accountable, but if you were irresponsible yourself in buying that home, well, you should be forgiven.

Me I'm getting nothing out of any of this. I didn't make a bad loan and I'm not a CEO. So I'm just bitter all around.

Weekend Pictures from the White Mountains

No link. Just some photos.

This one is from Arathusa Falls. It was a knee jarring walk, but the falls were very pretty. I found it strange that people hiked in and only spent a couple of minutes at the falls before wandering back out.


Then there was Diana's Bath. Pretty cool place to wander around. Lot's of people though. It was an easy walk, so there were people all over. I managed to have enough patience to wait till some of the better sites emptied out before taking the picture.

And just a random picture. It looks much nicer enlarged. I seem to have things for red maple leaves in pictures.

I think we got lucky with the weekend. This weekend is pretty much just miserable weather wise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fact Checking

I generally don't like politicians because they can't ever seem to tell the truth about anything. When I refer to truth I mean unadulterated, in context, fully disclosed truth. I understand that politics is now a blood sport, with nearly no "sport" being included. Then there are blogs and news blogs doing fact checking. I really like them. I really appreciate them. They do the job that takes me too much time while I fight through life.

This article/blog does some fact checking on Barack "Toom Tabard" Obama's recent advertising.
There are some real factual problems with this ad, which is titled “Dos Caras,” or two faces.

First of all, tying Sen. McCain – especially on the issue of immigration reform – to Limbaugh is unfair.

Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue. Vociferously. And in a larger sense, it’s unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh on a host of issues since Limbaugh, as any even occasional listener of his knows, doesn’t particularly care for McCain.

Second, the quotes of Limbaugh’s are out of context.

Frankly, Limbaugh leaves himself wide open for such abuses. I can't stand Rush. I find him as offensive as any of the lefty talking heads. But, that's because I think he commonly does the same thing with distorting reality. Funny thing about reality is that we all have our own. Rush and Obama have very different versions, but neither of them sit close to where the majority of American's live.

Read the whole thing. It's pretty informative.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NBC Desperately Seeking Integrity

I'm stunned. You mean even the execs at MSNBC have found that Olbermann is just an opinionated blowhard and moved him off of being a Journalist and now just is a commentator? Wow. That took what, a couple of years. With glacial reaction times like that who knows, maybe someone will actually pretend they know what they are doing.
When MSNBC announced the other day that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews were being replaced as co-anchors of the cable network's nightly political broadcast, the news was widely taken as evidence that the grownups at the parent network are looking to salvage NBC News' reputation for balance. And who can doubt that Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams--who've had to squirm before the likes of Jon Stewart, pretending to be something other than appalled by the nightly goings-on at MSNBC--had a major hand in this move?

Indeed, during the conventions, what heretofore had merely been an embarrassment on MSNBC blossomed into full-blown travesty. While both Olbermann and Matthews had long since revealed themselves on their own shows as lapdogs for Obama, viewers were now treated to the spectacle of the two of them viciously snapping at one another; and, in Olbermann's case, at just about anyone else with what he took to be an errant take on the campaign or anything else.
Funny how the talking heads always want to abuse Fox for it's commentators, but completely fail to notice their own psychotic journalist issues. There are many Bloggers who have more journalistic integrity than Olbermann, and to a lesser extent Matthews. Letting these jerks rave nonsensically about issues without context or even merit and yet continue to hold them up as journalists in good standing is a joke.

Then there is the foolishness and unbalance of interviewing comedians on politics. Note, CNN isn't trying to pass this as a comedic interview. And Maher is about as funny as a flat tire. (Not an unusual thing.) You'll love his "brother" comment about CNN and HBO supporting the "brother" for president.

I dont' quite understand why anyone interviews actors or comedians with respect to news or politics. All the networks do it, but it always is quite pathetic. These people are not brilliant or even moderately intelligent, would I care what they think?

Maher is a comedian, so he's trying for a laugh, so why is he being interviewed as a news item?

I did watch most of Blitzer's show and never saw a right-leaning comedian discuss Obama's campaign. So, is this fair and balanced or just yellow journalism?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Vulnerability Report

You have to love the MSM, and the AssPress in particular. Why is it they never can tell you who is issuing these reports or even what the name of the report is? Who exactly is the "independent commission?"
A shocking study finds that seven years after 9/11, the U.S. remains "dangerously vulnerable" to chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.
The recent political rupture between Russia and the U.S. over the former Soviet state of Georgia has made the war on terror more difficult, the study by an independent commission also says.

The panel is headed by Lee Hamilton, the former congressman who helped lead the 9/11 commission, and other leaders from that disbanded bipartisan group.

"The threat of a new, major terrorist attack on the U.S. is still very real," concludes the report, which is to be released tomorrow, the same day a congressional panel holds a hearing in lower Manhattan on .nuclear and biological terrorism threats.

"A nuclear, chemical or biological weapon in the hands of terrorists remains the single greatest threat to our nation," reports the independent panel.

"While progress has been made in securing these weapons and materials, we are still dangerously vulnerable."
I suppose I'll have to wait for the report since this isn't providing any supporting evidence. I really like the Russian reference, since we all understand that terrorism by megapowers is so much less terrorizing than that of non-state actors. If anyone actually is question if what Russia did isn't terrorism, they may look at the reaction of the Baltic states, Poland, and Ukraine. No doubt they didn't feel threatened and reacted to move away from Russia and closer to the west.
The report describes the failure of international cooperation to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. Many countries continue to ignore a UN mandate to prevent the spread of weapons, and the ability of many countries to monitor potential bioterror is "essentially nonexistent," the report says.
What? Those that wrote the report were expecting the UN to be actually effective? Wow, that is simplicity on a grand scale.

Of course, as expected, though they waited till the last paragraph, it's all Bush's fault.
Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, also have a report out today. Written by the staffs of the House Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees, its concludes: "The Bush administration has not delivered on myriad critical homeland and national security mandates."
It's got to be true, I mean, they don't have any ability to legislate or anything like that now do they? No doubt Bush could deliver some of the 9/11 commissions more foolish recommendations, but seeing as he already has, why bother pissing away more money on things that won't make anyone any safer. RealID, TSA "improvements" etc. See Schneier for multiple examples.

I suppose I'll need to do a lot of searching to find the report. No doubt it will be screached about all over the MSM today, but we won't actually be given a link to it in the vast majority of reports.

Well the WSJ actually gives a name for the commission, though it's hard to tell which of the reports it could be discussing. I'm guessing it's the politician's report.
The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism will hold public hearings during the run-up to the November election. The first, examining the nature of the threat, is to be held Sept. 10 in New York. The commission's final recommendations are due in mid-November.
The odd part of all this is that they never give you any idea of how real the risk is. If the vulnerability were that simple to use, you'd think it would have occurred.

I think WaPo has the actual name of the independent commision:
Seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the federal government has made only limited progress toward preventing a catastrophic nuclear, biological or chemical attack on U.S. soil and combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction abroad, according to a report card to be issued tomorrow by 22 former U.S. officials.

The bipartisan Partnership for a Secure America gave the United States an overall grade of C. The government received in total three D's, eight C's and seven B's in areas such as sustaining support of foreign scientists and governments, integrating programs to prevent nuclear terrorism and strengthening multilateral law enforcement efforts.

Of course, surfing around their website produced nothing. So we can only wait to see what the report card actually states.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bill Whittle on National Review

Yep, haven't heard much from him at E3, but glad to see him writing.

Big hat tip to GeekWithA.45 for posting the link.

I'm going to read the article now.


Bill's Best Line:

As for the speech: yes, it was stilted. Awkward in places, true. Ugly background, cheesy flagpole, lack of polish — got it. But as the northerners said of Abraham Lincoln in the first days of the war, when he was mockingly compared to the effortless grace of Jefferson Davis: “We didn’t get him for ballroom purposes.” Damn right we didn’t.
Nice. That is killer perspective. Especially when you look at Barack Fandango Obama out there doing nothing beyond looking pretty. If he isn't making a speech and actually has to think on his feet, he stumbles and stammers. Yeah, I'd prefer a president that is better at reality than ballroom dancing.

Oh, and Bill has a bit of a hello at his site on the article. And he's saying he'll be publishing a longer piece shortly:
I'll have a long-format essay on this incredible campaign in a few days. Look for FOUR CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A STORY in the near, near future.
Looking forward to that.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Biden's Preservation of the Law

Joe best be watching what he promises. This one would set a precedence that could come back and bite him in the future. (That is if he gets elected.)
Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden said yesterday that he and running mate Barack Obama could pursue criminal charges against the Bush administration if they are elected in November.

Biden's comments, first reported by ABC news, attracted little notice on a day dominated by the drama surrounding his Republican counterpart, Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

But his statements represent the Democrats' strongest vow so far this year to investigate alleged misdeeds committed during the Bush years.

"If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued," Biden said during a campaign event in Deerfield Beach, Florida, according to ABC.

"[N]ot out of vengeance, not out of retribution," he added, "out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no attorney general, no president -- no one is above the law."

Not out for retribution, My Ass. If there was workable criminal charges for the President today they should impeach him, not make lame-ass threats for political posture with the fever-swamp left.

Biden again gives a very good reason not to vote for him. If you can't pursue justice in a timely manner, then there is no reason for us to expect you ever will. Anything other than a timely response in negligence. And this is obviously posturing in the most blatantly foolish of means.

You can note that Obama is on the same page:
Obama sounded a similar note in April, vowing that if elected, he would ask his attorney general to initiate a prompt review of Bush-era actions to distinguish between possible "genuine crimes" and "really bad policies".

"[I]f crimes have been committed, they should be investigated," Obama told the Philadelphia Daily News. "You're also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve."

Just remember that Barry, because no doubt the next Repug president will be investigating you for vague and unsubstantiated crimes. And it won't be for retribution either, right?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Whakos Move to Repub Infomercial

Not a big surprise that they are acting more violently to the the repugs. Usual BS you expect from those with throw back ideas to the Fascist era.
Protesters smashed windows, punctured car tires and threw bottles Monday during an anti-war march to the site of the Republican National Convention. Police used pepper spray in confrontations with demonstrators and arrested five.

Instead of the single coherent march that organizers had hoped for, fringe groups of anarchists and others wrought havoc along the streets between the state Capitol and the Xcel Energy Center where the convention was taking place.

I wonder if the MSM will give the police more credit this week for restraint than they did last week.


Well, I'm not surprised.

Nothing like good ole rhetorical license to distort reality.
News of Sarah Palin and Hurricane Gustav has eclipsed a series of police raids that took place in the Twin Cities over the weekend, in which FBI agents and local law enforcement detained six people on suspicion of conspiracy to riot at the Republican National Convention. The detainees have not been formally charged with any crime and their lawyers are in court today seeking their release. There were no such pre-emptive arrests of protesters at the Democratic Convention in Denver last week.

The raids started Friday night with gun-toting officers entering an anarchist headquarters in downtown St. Paul, known as a “convergence space.” The occupants, ordered to lie on the floor, demanded to see a warrant, as heard on the audio on this not-very-revealing video.

So, it is interesting that they state there were no pre-emptive arrests in Denver, but never state whether the police or any LEO had any worry about such an issue there. I love the bit about "gun-toting" police. I've never heard of the police not having guns with them during an arrest. What do you thing the writer was trying to imply? Oh and the demands for a warrant without ever stating whether one was served or not again implies something nefarious on the police's part, though no evidence of wrong doing is shown. In fact they later state that the warant was served.

I have to say I don't like the ninja cops things and many of the problems LEOs face, but this is supposedly a journalistic report and the work is so shoddy that it's rather pathetic.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Shame on the Left

I think I first saw this discussed at SayUncle. I hadn't heard of this since I don't tend to bother with the stupidity of the DailyKos. (Nor will I link those losers.)

This is from
Members of the lefty blogosphere haven't stopped perpetuating the rumor Sarah Palin "faked" her last pregnancy and are now humiliating her daughter Bristol on the blatantly incorrect suspicion she is the real mother of baby Trig. "Sarah Palin is NOT the Mother" is the title of this DailyKos blog that accuses Bristol, a completely fit-looking adolescent teen, of having a baby bump" in a photo they allege was taken March 9th of this year.

"Sarah, I'm calling you a liar" wrote blogger ArcXIX. "And not even a good one. Trig Paxson Van Palin is not your son. He is your grandson. The sooner you come forward with this revelation to the public, the better. " Photos of Bristol with detailed commentary about her abdomen are contained in the post.
And I did remove the embedded links.

I'm still waiting for some truth to be stated, but I'm not expecting any. Funny how the left so loudly screech about "swift boating" when they pull stunts like this. The Swift Boaters were at least 85% factual according to the analysis I've read. (Some said more. Some said less. But at least they had demonstrably factual parts.)

Funny how the Dems and the left love to point and shout about hypocrisy on the right, but wallow in it when they come to play.

Oh, Wait. Apparently they really were wrong.

Weekend Walk

No link, just a picture.

I took my girlfriend M. up for a walk in Pawtuckaway state park. This is on one of the nicer views on North Mountain. These "bushes" in the foreground are actually tree tops. Full sized trees.

It was a nice walk other than it was a bit much for M. It starts out through the appropriately Named "Devil's Den" and then is fairly easy. Well, I find it fairly easy. But that could just be that I don't know how people define these hikes. Funny thing is, I've never met anyone climbing up the hill in Devil's Den, only down.

That's M standing out on a granite knob in the park. The camera we brought was a POS so the photo didn't come out very well, but it's ok for this I suppose.

I bought us some trekking poles, which you can see she has. I don't think she quite got the hang of using them, but I do think they helped on the downward slopes. I know I liked them just for the aid in balancing and getting some of the abuse off of my knees. (The first one who says I'm getting old gets to have me give them the torn cartiledge that I have.)

The mosquitoes were horrid and even the bug spray wasn't the best of a help. But, when it was breezy they weren't so bad.

Anatomy or Jounalistic Malfeasance

Pajamas Media gives us this one. I saw this and didn't thing much of it, because frankly, I saw it was a code-stinker and was during a protest, so I just assumed the police were in fact doing the right thing. I didn't think it was the brightest thing, but understandable. Personally, I think he should have just grabbed her and cuffed her right there and added her to the original arrest.

But then, the code-stink protester was an imbecile for wallowing in her own sudden, it illusory fame and stuck around to gloat. If she had walked away, she would clearly have won.

It's not excessively long, and I think overall it is a balanced report compared to what you may have originally read or saw. They don't even mention that in one of the videos you can catch the code-stinker waving something at the police horse and it gets jumpy. (Also interesting to watch them walk the horses in a circle around the arrest group. Wonder if that helps keep the horses calmer and make it harder for anyone to interfere.)