Monthly Archives: September 2008

FGF- Oh, Little Gnome


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New Technology

Would someone please notify the McCain camp that Circuit City has a few things on their shelves that might help them multitask.  Tell you what, lets spring for some cell phones, a fax machine, and laptop and at least a dial up connection to the tubes for them if they can’t find money in their budget on their own.  I won’t even get into video-conferencing and texting.

No need to drop everything and fly into Washington to bring his considerable influence to bear on the House Republicans.  Call em up!

Then, go debate Obama in Mississippi.

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$25 Billion Here, $700 Billion There

Pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

My mother used to tell me “you’re worrying about pennies while the dollars fly out the window.”  I’ve been trying to apply that to the current economic concerns of this country, and, well, I can’t do it.  But I reserve the right to come back later and tie it in.

Instead, I’d like to point out that while we were all focused on The Bailout, a 25 billion dollar “aid package” for Detroit automakers passed in the House yesterday.  Information is a bit sketchy at the moment, but i can’t wait to know the details.  What, if any, stipulations were attached?  Sure, neither Party wants to deny Michigan a damn thing right now, since its a huge “battleground state”, but, apologies to my late Mom, I am very worried about those pennies.

25 Billion.  Its being touted as low interest loans to help automakers re-tool to build hybrid cars.  Great.  But I have some questions.  Were labor a part of this negotiation?  Is CEO pay addressed?  How about security in the (likely) event that those loans are not repaid in a timely manner?

I want to get into this today, but if someone out there knows more than i do about this particular bill, I’d love it if you would catch me up.

More later….


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A Crisis Of Leadership

If there was ever a clearer illustration of why the Republican brand has tanked, I don’t think I’ve seen it.  It seems the Republican caucus wants no part of this bailout package, and anyone paying attention should know why.

They do not lead.

Public opinion on the proposed bailout is split, with more people against it than for it.  It is a complicated matter, one that cannot be boiled down to a catchy slogan that people can recite easily or slap on their bumpers.  If you have no experience keeping your constituents informed on why you made a particular vote on a particular issue, helping the nation avert a total economic meltdown may not be the issue upon which to cut your teeth.  If you have not been transparent in the past, it won’t look like transparency, it will look like pandering.  In short, if you haven’t really lead your people, but merely gauged their opinions and took the path of least resistance, you don’t have the tools in your bag to be of much help.

I’m all for a bailout, provided that we, also known as The Collective, approach this process as if the shoe were on the other foot.  If, for some reason, the United States Treasury were to approach the banking and finance industry for an emergency loan, I’m pretty sure that they, having the upper hand, or leverage, if you prefer, would ensure that they received, at a minimum, the following:

1.  Control over how the money was spent.

2.  A stake in the “company.”  Percentages can be determined later.

3.  A healthy return on their investment.

4.  A hedge fee for making the loan in the first place.

Approach it as a business deal.  Have Congress announce that it will provide a bailout measure to calm nervous investors.  Explain that in a business transaction of that size, due diligence is required.  Go home and explain to your constituents what is at stake if we do nothing, then lead them, regardless of what impact that decision has on your chances of re-election.  That, my friends, is leadership.


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The Irony Burns

What is it called when you lend people money who have displayed a tendency to be irresponsible about their finances?  A sub-prime loan.  Or, a bailout.

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A Word To You Gardeners

The other day, I went to a farm up in Springfield to buy hay for the winter.  The man I met there was one fine human being.  Not only did he sell me quality hay at an affordable price, but he took me over to see his garden and chicken coop.  His garden was incredible.  He had tomatos the size of softballs.  Meaty and nearly seedless.  He doesn’t stake his tomatos, he places them in beds and puts straw under his plants, and allows them to grow along the ground by breaking off the tops.  The seeds he uses have been passed down in his family for years.  He gave us some of his tomatos, and promised us seeds this Spring.

I hit the motherload.  More later.  Oh, I forgot, he claims these tomatos are low acid.  we’ll let y’all know. They were delicious.


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Definition Of Insanity

“doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

There is some great stuff around the web regarding The Bailout, but I wish there were more attention paid to what i think are some root causes of this mess in the first place:  Stagnating wages, un/under-employment, increases in fuel costs, food prices, etc.

We bail these firms so they don’t “crash”, yet we do nothing to address the factors that lead us here? Perhaps this isn’t possible.  I saw this quote today:

If you catch a cold because you got caught out in the rain, you don’t try to change the weather. You take your lemon tea and an aspirin.

Ok, so if we cannot eliminate greed, speculation, short-sightedness, etc, why not, in this case, circumvent the system and go directly to the individual homeowners?  If roughly 80% of the loans are “good paper”, can we not shore up the other 20% (provided they are owner-occupied, to hell with the house flippers) until real estate values catch up with the amount owed?  Because, eventually, it will.  It has to.  Whats the old saying about real estate?  “They ain’t making any more of it?”

I realize that there isn’t a palatable choice out there for us as taxpayers.  But, surely we can find balance to this situation, and spend the money wisely, expecting a return in time for our children to benefit from this decision instead of having to pay for it.

EDITED TO ADD:  Wow.  Go read this article.  Heres a key quote:

The Treasury Secretary’s authority is limited to $700 billion outstanding at any time. That means he could buy $700 billion — then sell some at a loss — and then buy more to get back to $700 billion. This is a revolving credit line, not a firm upper limit. It’s conceivable the Treasury could buy and sell trillions of dollars under this authority.


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Too Funny

From The Nation:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

H/T:  Jim Voorhies


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Throwaway Line?

Did Andrea Mitchell just say about the news coverage of the financial crisis, “We shouldn’t be gaming it minute by minute?”  Really?

I’ve watched the press parse, dissect, scrutinize, take apart and study every utterance by candidates and would be candidates for almost two years now.  The press is openly driving this election.  Its getting worse every election season.  Remember the Dean scream?  Was that, for even a millisecond a story?  Sure, political oponents would surely exploit it, as would comedians, but, really, the “mainstream press” coverage of that went well beyond the pale.  Ditto the lipstick on a pig non-story.

Well, this crisis cannot be overshadowed by stupidity and laziness.  The issue must be covered in a frank and sober manner.  For at least a week.  I can guarantee you that neither candidate is going to say anything new until November.  I could write their scripts myself, in advance, and there would only be a need for an ocassional tweaking to fit the crowd.  The debates will tell us nothing.  I swear to God, if i hear one more jerk-off reporter regurgitate the line “Obama must connect with the average voter” or “Obama must prove he is one of us” or some other variation, I’m going to put a contract out on his/her life.

Lets stay with this story, and as ever, follow the money.  Or, you know, just cue the circus.  Whatever.


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My Thoughts In Three Paragraphs

Quick hits:

1.  If ol “Hank” Paulson was across the table from me in a poker game, and went “all in”, I’d bet all my chips he was bluffing.  Have you seen his face?  Terror.  At least he is not alone.  I’m scanning the faces and body language of the various officials pushing for this bail-out, and it is too easy to read them.  They are unsure what to do, and fearful of doing nothing.  I’ve decided, after thinking about it all weekend, that I am against the bail-out under almost any circumstances.  I want the FDIC fully funded if the banks fail, but the Corporations that are in trouble should pay the price.  Whatever that price is.  Perhaps a full-scale purge is what this country needs to get it’s priorities straight.

2.  I hope he doesn’t mind, but I have to mention my friend John Lamb.  He called on Saturday to talk a little, and i got so tickled watching him tie himself in knots trying to figure how to ask me if I was a “person of Faith.”  He finally just asked me if i considered myself a Christian.  I told him I did indeed consider myself a Christian, but that almost no other Christian would agree.  No matter, and I only bring this up because of this very cool post from Margaret Cho, shared by The Recovering Baptist.  There is a great deal of truth in the post, but if you are squeamish about language, don’t read it.  Period.

3.  I really hope the events of this past week bring more interest in cooperative living.  I’d love to see more sharing of talent and resources, more planning in our lives, and, in general, a slower, more deliberative approach to how we treat ourselves and each other.


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