Monday, March 30, 2009

President Good Wrench, Beck, and bin Laden...

Paul Krugman
E J Dionne
Robert Sauelson

"It's like a game of 52-card pickup and all of the cards are still in the air." -David Winston, a Republican pollster

"I have a few responses to those points. They are 1) Bullshit; 2) bullshit; 3) bullshit, plus of course; 4) bullshit. Lastly, there is 5) Boo-Fucking-Hoo. You dog. - Matt Taibbi

The Obama administration didn't like the plans that GM and Chrysler submitted to them, and announced today that they were giving them another chance to submit a restructuring plan more to their liking. Chrysler has 30 days to find a partner to merge with or it gets no more help at all. A quick response from the Political Animal: "First of all, the most high-profile fallout is that GM CEO Rick Wagoner was forced out. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm described Wagoner, who was with GM for 31 years, as a "sacrificial lamb." He admittedly was at the helm when American automakers failed to adjust over the last decade, making SUVs and losing market share to Toyota and Honda. The company has lost $82 billion over the past 4 years.

And obviously, bailouts of any kind are unpopular at this point, and must be met with major concessions. However, one must be struck by the dichotomy of the President and bank CEOs making nice-nice on Friday, and forcing Wagoner out today. As Atrios put it, "apparently the real economy is less important than the paper one."

Some folks are claiming that the banks were not treated so heavy-handed. But, as TPM points out: "Citi does not have the same CEO it did at the start of the crisis. And the government installed a new CEO at AIG after the initial bailout. Another rejoinder might be that the automakers' plight is of a much more longstanding vintage than that of the finance barons, though I suspect, as we learn more, we'll be revisiting those assumptions. And even after getting substantial government aid, I think Wagoner's the first auto industry CEO to get the boot. So perhaps we should be asking why it is that something like this hasn't happened sooner... All that said, though, after that meeting of the major bank CEOs at the White House last week, it's hard for me not to think that, for all that has happened, their clout in Washington is just on a scale where they are accepted as peers of the realm. And simply immune to certain sorts of treatment.

The White House may believe that anger over the initial auto bailout, and bailouts in general, force them to be tough. And certainly the government should not throw good money after bad if there's no hope of viability. But with millions of jobs at stake, certainly a good bit of people are going to notice that the auto industry is being forced into concessions that practically no bank has had to make."

This morning's NY Times has a colorful piece on Glenn Beck: "In an interview, Mr. Beck, who recently rewatched the 1976 film “Network,” said he identified with the character of Howard Beale, the unhinged TV news anchorman who declares on the air that he is “mad as hell.”

“I think that’s the way people feel,” Mr. Beck said. “That’s the way I feel.” In part because of Mr. Beck, Fox News — long identified as the favored channel for conservatives and Republican leaders — is enjoying a resurgence just two months into Mr. Obama’s term. While always top-rated among cable news channels, Fox’s ratings slipped during the long Democratic primary season last year. Now it is back on firm footing as the presumptive network of the opposition, with more than 1.2 million viewers watching at any given time, about twice as many as CNN or MSNBC."

I haven't watched him on the tube yet, guess I'll have to check him out. I tried listening to him on the AM radio, but found him to be a ranting lightweight, though better than Michael Savage. My radio actually starts foaming out the dial when Michael is on the air... I was surprised to find that I actually preferred Bill O'Reilly over Glenn. I had been hoping to find some good local political talk shows when I moved to Colorado Springs, but what I found was too far to the right, and it gets tiring listening to the same three points made over and over and over again. But Fox is trying and succeeding in boosting its ratings. By providing an emotional catharsis with Glenn Beck, it may be helping diffuse the right wing anger, frustration, and sudden feelings of impotence, a public service to us all...

Well, George Bush spent the last year in office actually looking for Osama bin Laden, which began the Predator program of flying drones into Pakistan, and the hiring of British commandos who could sneak into places our own military could not, to sending out various assassination squads from different clandestine sources. What did it accomplish? According to CQ Politics Spytalk: "All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama bin Laden. But tell that to the CIA and all the other misconceptualizers of the War on Terror," scoffs intelligence expert Angelo M. Cordevilla, in the March issue of The American Spectator.

"Seven years after Osama bin Laden's last verifiable appearance among the living, there is more evidence for Elvis's presence among us than for his," Cordevilla continues.

"Hence there is reason to ask whether the paradigm of Osama bin Laden as terrorism's deus ex machina and of al Qaeda as the prototype of terrorism may be an artifact of our Best and Brightest's imagination, and whether investment in this paradigm has kept our national security establishment from thinking seriously about our troubles' sources."

Cordevilla argues that the lack of verified Bin Laden sightings in recent years, plus expert audio and visual analyses of tapes attributed to him since, strongly suggests that the author of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks is dead. "
Which may explain why George Bush is resting comfortably in a Dallas neighborhood and not holed up at the ranch in Crawford...

Here are some vintage late night jokes on the bailout:

"'The Washington Post' reporting that senior executives at AIG whose decisions caused the companies to collapse are long gone and that these bonuses that everybody's complaining about are actually being paid to people who are trying to fix the problem. Okay, here's my thing. Fix the problem, then you get the bonus." --Jay Leno

"In his speech yesterday, President Barack Obama lashed out about these excessive bonuses. He said the trouble at AIG was caused by recklessness and excessive greed. But here's the problem. The AIG executives thought it was a compliment. They went, 'Oh, thanks, wow.'" --Jay Leno

"The Republicans are on board in this, too. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley told AIG executives -- this is what he actually said -- he said they should either quit or commit suicide. But I think that's plain wrong. I mean, why give them the option of quitting?" --Jay Leno

"I like Grassley's idea, but here's my question: where was Congress when everything was falling apart, you know? They're supposed to be looking out for us. Here's a better idea. How about AIG and Congress making a giant suicide pact?" --Jay Leno

"The federal government agreed on Sunday to provide an additional $30 billion to AIG. According to AIG, $15 billion will be used to build the world's biggest toilet, down which the other $15 billion will be flushed." --Seth Meyers

"Do you know what AIG stands for? Adventures in Greed." --Jay Leno

"Now it turns out AIG gave $35 billion of our money to bail out Europeans. See this is how a global economy works. Our hard-earned tax dollars are used to bail out German banks for making bad investments in American companies that shut down because the Japanese owners moved the whole thing to India, China and Mexico." --Jay Leno

"In a stunning announcement, Citigroup showed a profit and had its best quarter since 2007. They made $8 billion in profit. That just goes to show you, you give a company $45 billion in government bailout money, and they'll show you how to turn it into $8 billion. See this is capitalism!" -- Jay Leno

"Astronomers say they have discovered enormous black holes 5 billion light years from Earth that is sucking up everything in their path. They named the black holes 'AIG-1' and 'AIG-2.'" -- Jay Leno

"Citigroup, who received a huge bailout from the government, owns the naming rights to the New York Mets' new stadium. It is currently called Citi Field, but because of Barack Obama's crackdown on the Federal bailout money, Citigroup will legally have to change the name of the stadium to Money Grubbing Bastards Field." --Jay Leno

"The Federal Reserve chairman said today that the $700 billion bailout of the banks is not going to be enough money. When did the Federal Reserve become like a car mechanic, you know? 'Yeah, we can get the economy running for maybe $700 billion, but there's no guarantee it's not gonna stall out on you.' Well, now, the government has given AIG $30 billion more. We gave them $165 billion. Now we're giving them $30 billion. You know what AIG stands for? 'And it's gone!'" --Jay Leno

"In real estate news, the octo-mom just bought a home here in Southern California for $565,000. How is she paying for this? She's got 14 kids, no job and no credit. Who financed this deal, A.I.G.?" --Jay Leno

"Couple of days ago in New Jersey, there were UFO sightings. Believe me, it's not an invasion. The aliens are actually here because they want some of that Federal bailout money." --David Letterman

"A plan to bail out the Big Three automakers stalled in Congress today. Yeah. As a result, Congress plans to buy a better-built Japanese bailout plan." --Conan O'Brien

"President Obama, getting very tough now, has imposed a $500,000 salary cap for executives getting federal bailout money. And, listen to this: Now on weekends, they can only play miniature golf. No more 18 holes." --Jay Leno

"How about this for nerve? This is unbelievable. The porn industry is now asking for a $5 billion federal bailout. The porn industry. Talk about a stimulus package." --Jay Leno



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