Posts Tagged ‘Bailout’

Treasury to covertly nationalize troubled banks?

April 20, 2009

A big damn smile may have just crossed Paul Krugman’s fuzzy face.  After weeks of lamenting the poor decisions of the Obama Treasury Department, new information from the New York Times suggests that the money used to shore up the banking giants during the bailout may soon be converted to common stocks.

Fuzzy Wuzzy.

Fuzzy Wuzzy.

The effect of such an action is consequential for anyone tired of giving free public money to private banks.  Essentially, this course will nationalize several of the banks because the United States government (taxpayers) will become the majority shareholder.   Apparently, the U.S. government has already arranged this type of relationship with Citibank.

Before this decision was made, a great number of tax dollars were given to the troubled banks without any strings attached.  Instead of buying up all the troubled assets (securities that can be difficult to value) of each bank, we would get common stock in the company.

This could be good news and could be bad.  If the stock price absolutely tanks (which the government could actually be anticipating), then the tax payers could end up suffering.  However, as a majority shareholder, the government will be on the board of directors for the company and will be able to influence decisions that are made regarding our investments.  We already know that the troubled assets are next to worthless, so if we can get a decent deal with the stock conversion plan, we may end up getting a lot of our money back.

When the credit lines open up again, we can expect the United States government to sell taxpayer shares in each bank.  Hell, we could even make money on this.

Expect this to be a rallying cry for the “Obama = Socialist” crowd.  But it’s a hell of a lot better than handing your federal taxes to the nearest AIG executive and expecting nothing in return.

RWP Rating: Bizarre

Full Story: New York Times

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Full impressions and tons of photos from Tea Party Protest in Eugene, Oregon

April 16, 2009

Digg It!

There wasn’t a Tea Party protest in the city of Eugene and I suppose that is appropriate.  Eugene, known for raucous WTO protests in the early 90s, violent members of the Environmental Liberation Front, and more aging, balding, dread-locked hippies than a Bob Dylan concert, wouldn’t look kindly on right wing protests.  The protest was ultimately held in neighboring Springfield, known for its incessant insistence that it is the true Simpsons Springfield.

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I showed up just minutes before the protest started, following a Nissan SUV sporting an NRA seal and a yellow Support the Troops ribbon in heavy traffic all the way to the event.  It was held just outside Gateway Mall in Springfield, right next to a United States Post Office, in a park paid for by state and local taxes.

Eugene and Springfield host a population of approximately 210,000, not including the 20,000 students that attend The University of Oregon.   I’m not great at crowd size pinpointing, but I would guess that the attendance was between 500-800.   Local media did show up, but their reports can’t be trusted.  They were about as inconspicuous as an orange-vested hunter in a barren forest.  They didn’t mingle with the people, they didn’t speak to the people, they filed their report in thick make-up and black whore boots and went home to watch Dancing with the Stars.

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The atmosphere was like a County Fair.  Middle-aged professionals with their children and seniors with their oxygen tanks crowded the sidewalks, while their 20 to 30 year old neighbors stayed home.   Opportunists sold t-shirts out of their cars.

A man from the Americans for Prosperity organization dressed up as Thomas Paine, a man he has little to nothing in common with ideologically, and spouted platitudes of Freedom, Liberty, Free Markets, and Fair Taxation.  It was like being at a fucking campaign speech.  Do we really need to subject ourselves to this bullshit more than once every two years?

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Of course, the main thing that Fraud Paine talked about was the horrors of earmarks and the out of control spending in Washington.  Next on the docket was lower taxes.  Of course, the majority of the electorate doesn’t see the inherent paradox in this philosophy.  We have to pay for tax cuts.  If the Republican party wants more Defense spending, we need to pay for that through taxes.  But what the hell am I thinking?  I’m trying to bury this in an article that is too long for many of the Tea Baggers to consider reading.

That brings us to the true “substance” of the Tea Party Revolution.  The substance is the sheer number of slogans and issues represented by the protesters.  There is no unity here.  It’s not the rage against the WTO that made Sublime immortalize Eugene in April 26, 1992.   It’s a mish-mash of right-wing talking points that all lead to a few basic underlying messages.

  1. Congress doesn’t read bills.
  2. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd are the only people to blame for the current economic crisis.
  3. Barack Obama is not “one of us.”
  4. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are dictators in Congress.
  5. Debt = “fiscal child abuse.”
  6. Democrats are godless.
  7. Democrats and Republicans are responsible for mess in Congress (even though they only single out Democrats)
  8. Advertisements for Glenn Beck.

I think I can fit all of the signs I saw today into each of those categories.  The problem is that there is no discussion at these events.  Because the attendees believe everything Fox spews, they accept these slogans as righteous.  Further exploration of these ideals needn’t be taken.  The people who attended the Tea Party today aren’t intellectuals who devour every word of George Will and David Brooks.  They listen to O’Reilly, Rush, Glenn Beck, and Neil Cavuto.  Additional research is unnecessary.

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What’s wrong with the youth today?  It’s a popular motto for many people in the twilight of life.  Today, I ask a different question.  What’s wrong with the baby boomers?  Why have they lost their taste for good, investigative journalism and rational facts?  We can have a real debate in this country if they would accept that their taxes are not increasing if they make under $250,000.  We can have different opinions about what we are going to do in the future.  We cannot have different opinions on facts.

The big takeaway from this is that right-wingers aren’t used to protesting.  When they do protest, they want to protest 10,000 different things at the same time so that they never have to do it again.   Abortion, Cap & Trade, Obama’s legitimacy as President, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, the Stimulus Bill, the Bailout, the Budget, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Gun Laws, “Christian” values, Earmarks, the free market, spending, Joe Biden, Janet Napolitano, Ron Paul, Bob Barr, the Federal Reserve, the renegotiation of home loans, Obama’s bow to the Saudi prince, terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security, the Employee Free Choice Act, NAFTA, the Death Tax, and the IRS were all targeted today.

When you have 800 people with 800 different reasons for protesting, the message is lost in the crowd.  But the real reason they’re there is simple.  Mass media and lobbying firms have a hell of an influence.

More pictures:

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Preparing for the Tea Party Revolution – What you can do

April 14, 2009

“Remember, Remember the Fifteenth of April.”

No, it just doesn’t quite work as well, which is ultimately the story of the Tea Party Revolution.   Smoke and mirrors and idiots that don’t quite know why they are mad will be taking to the streets in disappointing numbers to protest tomorrow.

The problem is that none of them know what the hell they are yelling about.  But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for now and go into a little history.

You will not see this tomorrow.  You will see overweight white people.

You will not see this tomorrow. You will see overweight white people.

Why the Tea Party Revolution?

There isn’t really a good answer for this one.  The original Boston Tea Party occurred on December 16, 1773 in opposition to a 10% additional duty on tea imported into the United States.  Sam Adams, of delicious beer fame, organized a mass dumping of 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor.  The key motto during the Boston Tea Party was “No taxation without representation.”  Colonists were pissed that they did not have any representation in Britain and could not have an impact on legislation.

Fast forward to now.   The Republican party is damn close to irrelevancy and is becoming more and more fringe.  They lost seats in 2006, 2008, and will more than likely lose additional seats in 2010 if the latest polls from Gallup (left-leaning) and Rasmussen (right-leaning) are considered.

Tomorrow, when thousands of people wake up and take to the streets for the Tea Party Revolution, every single one of them has three representatives in Congress.  This is not the Boston Tea Party.  Every single one of the people tomorrow are represented by two democratically-elected Senators and a Representative.  If they are unhappy with the way things are going in their district/state, they can vote that person to the curb.  Hell, if it is the people’s will, then people like Ron Paul could have been elected to the presidency in 2008 and we could have cut all kinds of taxes.

But that isn’t what the people want.

The Tea Party Credo

If you sign up to attend one of the Tea Party events, you will be asked to print out two documents to share with people who see the protest.  One is an elected officials checklist (what does your Rep, Senator, etc. think about a variety of issues) and the other is 12 American Solutions for Jobs and Prosperity.

Because the checklist can vary (and it’s really easy for Republican representatives to say what they want when they don’t have any power to set the budget/agenda), let’s look at the “Solutions” handout.

Whosoever has the gold, shall make the rules.

Whosoever has the gold, shall make the rules.

12 American Solutions for Jobs and Prosperity

  1. Payroll Tax Stimulus. With a temporary new tax credit to offset 50% of the payroll tax, every small business would have more money, and all Americans would take home more of what they earn.
  2. Real Middle-Income Tax Relief. Reduce the marginal tax rate of 25% down to 15%, in effect establishing a flat-rate tax of 15% for close to 9 out of 10 American workers.
  3. Reduce the Business Tax Rate. Match Ireland’s rate of 12.5% to keep more jobs in America.
  4. Homeowner’s Assistance. Provide tax credit incentives to responsible home buyers so they can keep their homes.
  5. Control Spending So We Can Move to a Balanced Budget. This begins with eliminating Congressional earmarks and wasteful pork-barrel spending.
  6. No State Aid Without Protection From Fraud. Require state governments to adopt anti-fraud and anti-theft policies before giving them more money.
  7. More American Energy Now. Explore for more American oil and gas and invest in affordable energy for the future, including clean coal, ethanol, nuclear power and renewable fuels.
  8. Abolish Taxes on Capital Gains. Match China, Singapore and many other competitors. More investment in America means more jobs in America.
  9. Protect the Rights of American Workers. We must protect a worker’s right to decide by secret ballot whether to join a union, and a worker’s right to negotiate freely. Forced unionism will kill jobs at a time when we can’t afford to lose them.
  10. Replace Sarbanes-Oxley. This failed law is crippling entrepreneurial startups. Replace it with affordable rules that help create jobs, not destroy them.
  11. Abolish the Death Tax. Americans should work for their families, not for Washington.
  12. Invest in Energy and Transportation Infrastructure. This includes a new, expanded electric power grid and a 21st century air traffic control system that will reduce delays in air travel and save passengers, employees and airlines billions of dollars per year.

Besides being a Who’s Who of failed John McCain campaign economic tactics, this list should be ridiculed for its complete lack of rational thought.  Most of the steps reduce taxes, yet step five brazenly maintains that they want to balance the budget.  How the hell are you supposed to balance the budget when you cut all of these taxes?

Pork spending is a small fraction of the budget in Washington and seven out of the ten biggest piggies this year were Republicans.  Many of these ideas sound like they will help the average worker, but this proposal really helps billionaires.  With no capital gains taxes, billionaires will have a heyday on Wall Street.   So why are they trying to help the rich, when the middle class is seeing record unemployment?

Who funds the Tea Party Revolution

Even though Fox News will have you believe that the Tea Party Revolution is a spontaneous reaction from “The People,” it really was started by FreedomWorks, the conservative version of MoveOn.  Along with Dick Armey, FreedomWorks is organizing and funding many of the larger Tea Parties.  In other words, protesters are going to be paid tomorrow to protest.   It has nothing to do with outrage over the bailouts (which should cause protests), it has everything to do with a bunch of billionaires that don’t want to pay higher taxes under Obama.

Dick Armey wishes he still had power.

Dick Armey wishes he still had power.

The FreedomWorks web page is a joke.  Any rational person that peruses it will find more lies than an OJ Simpson trial.  Armey says that Obama is going to cap all executive pay…which isn’t true at all.  Obama is capping how much money can go to executives that receive money from tax payers.  Do you want your federal income tax money going to buy a 12th home for some asshole AIG executive?  If Microsoft wants to pay their executives millions a year then I have no problem with that.  They haven’t accepted any bailout money at all.  Obama is saying the exact same thing.  That doesn’t stop the BS from flowing from Fox News and CNBC with comedic consistency.

What you can do

  1. Find a Tea Party near you.  You can find them by visiting the FreedomWorks website or by visiting www.taxdayteaparty.com
  2. Go to the Tea Party and take pictures of signs.  Count the number of protesters.
  3. Interview people participating in the Tea Party.  Ask them if they have heard of FreedomWorks.  Ask them who organized the party and attempt to speak with the person in charge.  If you are able to, ask them if they are being compensated for their work.
  4. Write up your impressions of the protest.  Whether positive or negative, we will give you a voice on Real Weird Politics.  You can comment with a link to your blog, youtube videos, or photos.
  5. Real Weird Politics will have stories all day tomorrow with impressions from demonstrations around the country.

We’re already ready with one delightful video from The Young Turks.  One protester at a Tea Party Revolution event started spouting off about how the Communists had infiltrated America in a plan hatched during the 1950s.  He wants you to take your kids out of college and stop paying your taxes.  A woman in the crowd thinks you should burn all your books.  Sounds like a great way to succeed!  Here is the video:

Have fun tomorrow!

Real Fucking Weird: Rolling Stone redeems itself after years of sucking

March 22, 2009

Your favorite Led Zeppelin album?  Rolling Stone trashed it.  And if you have a sister, Rolling and Stone doubled teamed her at a frat party and never called back.

Chuck Basss fortune was not tied up in Credit Default Swaps

Chuck Bass's fortune was not tied up in Credit Default Swaps

But here is where I defend them for fucking your sister.  Rolling Stone miraculously hires the best damn political journalists in the country every few years.   Matt Taibbi has been on the beat with Rolling Stone and has already experienced his share of controversey.   In March of 2005, Taibbi wrote a column on his blog entitled The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope.  Clearly this sparked some outrage in the 25% of the United States that call themselves Catholics.

But you’ve got to hand it to Rolling Stone.  They allow their writers to have ultimate creativity in their articles.   With that freedom comes the best damn Bailout article I’ve read this year.   In its 8 pages, Taibbi outlines each bill that was passed, each new financial avenue that was created, and each misstep by the SEC that led to the current financial crisis.   It is somewhat of a swan song, an epitaph for a country that Taibbi sees as doomed to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

This is real reporting.  This is the kind of stuff we need to see on our mainstream news.   Even if 92 out of 100 pages in the magazine are utter crap, this 8 page article is fucking fantastic.  Ergo, it’s Real Fucking Weird.

RWP Rating: 5/5 Real Fucking Weird

FULL STORY: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover/1