All the current outrage and attention to bonuses paid out to employees of institutions that received federal bailout money is misplaced, according to an analyst that appeared on CNBC Asia on March 16.
The media is making much of the news that American International Group (AIG) executives are receiving compensation in the form of bonuses. But Kirby Daley, senior strategist at the Newedge Group explained how the focus was in the wrong place. Although some say allowing Lehman Brothers to fail in September 2008 was a mistake, it prevented the problem of taxpayer money being used for executive compensation.
"I'm not so sure that was a mistake," Daley said. "And what I mean by that is, look I had dozens of friends there. It's very painful and to see an institution like that go down, one that I have followed for years - it hurts."
The lesson according to Daley - either allow the institutions to have the same fate as Lehman Brothers, or just outright nationalize them.
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "Optimism offensive. An upbeat Ben Bernanke tells '60 Minutes' the economy could turn around within nine months." Chen later introduced the segment on the Obama administration’s new economic optimism: "...from bleak to bright. The Obama administration has switched its tone and is now saying the economy is on the road to recovery."
Correspondent Bill Plante reported: "... the administration's attempt to restore public confidence in the financial system, which is seen as weak both at home and abroad...The response, led by President Obama, is an offense of optimism." Plante focused entirely on the administration’s new tone, providing little substance or criticism. Also lacking, was any mention of John McCain’s efforts to instill economic confidence during the presidential campaign, for which he was derided.
Instead, Plante simply cited the new upbeat message being put out by Obama staffers: "Even though stimulus funds are just beginning to be spent, and the bank rescue details have yet to be announced, the message from administration officials is confidence." A clip was played of economic advisor Lawrence Summers exclaiming: "Don’t panic." That was followed by White House advisor Christina Romer declaring: "The stimulus package, the financial rescue plan, the housing plan, we think it's the right medicine, and we think it will work."
Barney Frank was allowed, by NBC's Meredith Vieira, to go on a tear against AIG for wasting bailout money on corporate bonuses, on Monday's "Today" show, yet Vieira never once interrupted Frank to point out his own wasteful stimulus spending on earmarks going to Frank's home district, including $1 million for scallop research. Vieira also didn't interject when Frank blamed the Bush administration for failed economic oversight, even though it was Frank who blocked reforms of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, something former Vice President Dick Cheney brought up on this Sunday's "State of the Union," on CNN.
Vieira never asked a challenging question throughout the whole interview, instead choosing to let Frank rant: "The time has come for the federal government to put some people in charge...When we were asked by the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve last fall, to do these things, they resisted some of the conditions we wanted to put on."
The following is a complete transcript of the interview with Frank as it was aired on the March 16, "Today" show:
Since CNBC's Rick Santelli first suggested a Chicago Tea Party to protest President Obama's plans to "stimulate" the economy and bailout homeowners through unrestrained government spending, organized demonstrations have been occurring across the fruited plain.
In fact, as Glenn Reynolds reported moments ago, there's one happening today in Cincinnati.
Unfortunately, unless you frequent conservative websites, you'd have no idea that such events were being staged.
Despite their lack of coverage, as Knoxnews.com revealed Sunday, these Tea Parties are springing up all over the country (image courtesy Geldpress):
As much as the 2008 presidential election was a battle between socialism and capitalism in America, so too is the highly-publicized feud between Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and CNBC's Jim Cramer.
Even their last names begin with the same letters as the economic philosophies they're defending.
Of course, the press coverage of the main event -- Cramer appearing on "The Daily Show" Thursday to face his accuser -- is also emblematic of this war with the liberal media cheering for Stewart, and those on the right clearly in the "Mad Money" host's corner.
On March 6, in response to New York Times reporters' questions, President Barack Obama told the paper that he is not a socialist. He or his advisers were apparently so bothered by the questions that Obama later called the Times reporters involved in an attempt to .... well, I'm not sure, because he had already supposedly denied the charge.
The best guess is that Obama and his peeps felt he needed to get in some gratuitous digs at former president George W. Bush.
Part of Obama's phone call back to the Times including the following relative to the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) under then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson:
I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks.
..... I just think it’s clear by the time we got here, there already had been an enormous infusion of taxpayer money into the financial system.
There seems to be a wall of silence surrounding the sudden withdrawal of H. Rodgin Cohen (pictured at right) from consideration for the Number 2 job at the Treasury Department.
The party line, according to ABC's This Week host and former Clinton administration adviser George Stephanopoulos, is that "an issue arose in the final stages of the vetting process." David Cho at the Washington Post reports that "two sources familiar with the matter" confirmed this, but that they "declined to identify the reason."
Perhaps the press is not really interested in finding out that reason, or reasons. Or worse, they've got a pretty good idea, and they'd rather not dig; because if they don't dig, they won't have to tell us. Stephanopoulos appears to be giving away that he knows more than he's willing to reveal when he writes that "Cohen has been a counsel to just about every major player on Wall Street, which perhaps complicated his nomination."
"Perhaps"? A review of some of Cohen's known history makes it clear that he carries quite a bit of potentially heavy baggage.
Too bad this particular report didn't include an expert that was railing against the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailout before it was passed last October. They could have said, "I told you so."
Global banks lending money to other countries including "the playground of the Middle East" may have angered Congressmen, but Lisa Myers investigation didn't point out that those critics of how the banks lent money voted for TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) in the first place.
In a segment on March 11 "NBC Nightly News," Myers, NBC's senior investigative correspondent, probed into why three particular banks - Citigroup (NYSE:C), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) - made loans to overseas institutions, but supposedly neglected domestic institutions.
The good folks in the Obama administration and in the media took on the wrong foe with Jim Cramer, for the outspoken CNBC personality struck back at his ill-informed and economically-challenged critics Monday in a fashion those that have watched him for years have grown to expect.
In his self-titled "Cramer Takes on the White House, Frank Rich and Jon Stewart," the "Mad Money" host: referred to the current White House as "exacerbating the crisis with its budget and policies"; accurately exposed the New York Times' Frank Rich and comedian Jon Stewart for cherry-picking snippets of his on-air recommendations in order to discredit him, and; complimented the civility of folks on the right declaring, "I always love anyone from Fox on the team because they are fierce in their defense with much less gratuitous slamming."
Coverage of "tea party" protests in various cities around the country (this March 4 Pajamas Media press release, HT to FreeRepublic, cited 22 locations on February 27 and seven this weekend) has been sparse to non-existent, especially at major establishment media outlets.
Most notably, based on a seach on "tea party" (not in quotes) at its ap.org home page at about 10:00 a.m., there has been no coverage of this weekend's or last weekend's protests by the Associated Press, the self-described "essential global news network":
Don't expect Bill Clinton's former labor secretary Robert Reich to ever do so, for in an article published at Salon Thursday, the UC-Berkeley professor claimed "every major policy that led to this collapse occurred under George W.'s watch."
Not only that, but the man who recently told Congress that jobs created by the economic stimulus package shouldn't only go to "white male construction workers" also declared, "Angry right-wing populism lurks just below the surface of the terrible American economy, ready to be launched not only at Obama but also at liberals, intellectuals, gays, blacks, Jews, the mainstream media, coastal elites, crypto socialists, and any other potential target of paranoid opportunity."
Readers are warned to proceed with caution before going any further, for Reich was loaded for conservatives and wasn't taking prisoners:
A consistent media meme since Election Day has been that Barack Obama was inheriting a recession that some believe began as far back as December 2007.
Since then, despite various rescue plans from his Administration, and the passage of a $787 billion stimulus package, the stock market has continued to plummet while employers shed payrolls in a fashion rarely seen in history.
This all raises an important question: will media ever blame current economic conditions on Obama, or will they continue to point fingers at George W. Bush despite his residence being in Texas?
Consider that as was reported by Bloomberg Friday, Obama now does indeed have his own bear market (image by Martin Kozlowski courtesy Wall Street Journal):
An early review of press coverage relating to this morning's warning by General Motors that "there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern" shows no coverage of the reason why, despite $13.4 billion in taxpayer money (NOT counting bailout money going to GMAC), things have gotten so much worse so quickly.
The reason is that sales in the two full months since the Bush-approved, Obama-cheered bailout took place have tanked (see graphic at this NB post yesterday):
December 2008 (last [mostly] pre-bailout month) — down 31.2%
January 2009 (first full bailout month) — down 48.9%
February 2009 (second full bailout month — down 53.1%
Press reports I have seen are saying nothing about this frightening decay in the past 60 days:
As part of a continuation of his "COMЯADE UPDATE" segment he started near the beginning of his show, which became a YouTube sensation, Fox News host Glenn Beck is picking up right where he left off.
Beck, on his March 4 program took on a couple new targets, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and union labor.
"Comrades! Comrades, there is good news from the Western front," Beck said. "Our glorious revolution is starting to take hold on a global scale. Just listen as Comrade Brown pounded our propaganda into the minds of the clueless capitalist pigs today. Listen up."
Beck played a clip from Brown's address of a joint session of Congress, where the prime minister lobbied for the "world" to work together.
For the second month in a row, taxpayer-bailout beneficiary General Motors fared worse than every one of its non-bailed-out competitors.
The Associated Press's Tom Krisher and Bree Fowler didn't totally hide that fact, but it took them until the 22nd paragraph of their report, which was supposedly about the February performance of the entire auto industry ("Auto sales slump persists as consumers stay scared"), to mention the specifics of the sales declines at Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. Those declines "just happened" to be smaller than those at General Motors, fellow bailout bud Chrysler, and non-bailout recipient Ford. The AP pair stated in an early paragraph that "Japanese makers fared only slightly better." Readers will, I believe, question Krisher's/Fowler's definition of "slightly."
Also not emphasized, and illustrated in a chart below: The share of the US auto market held by Detroit's so-called Big Three has fallen significantly since the government bailouts of GM and Chrysler in December.
In February, in the build up to the ultimate passage of President Barack Obama's $787-billion stimulus package, there was a lot of discussion about how much the stimulus was going to help the ailing economy. And to promote the bill, Obama visited a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Ill.
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who represents the 18th Congressional District of Illinois, where the Caterpillar plant is located, described Obama's visit and how he used it to lobby him to vote for the bill. It was another side of the story that went unreported by the media.
Here we go again - another Obama administration/media personality feud in the works.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has no problem addressing media critics of President Barack Obama - even on an individual basis. Since Obama was sworn in as president, Gibbs has addressed criticism from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, CNBC mercantile exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli and now CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
During the March 3 White House press briefing, Tom Costello of NBC News asked Gibbs to respond to remarks from Cramer, who was described as "not a conservative," made on NBC's March 3 "Today" show that he "thought the president's policies, his agenda had contributed to the greatest wealth destruction he's ever seen by a president."
Although an admitted Barack Obama supporter during last year's campaign, CNBC's Jim Cramer has certainly changed his view concerning our 44th president.
On Tuesday's "Today" show, the outspoken "Mad Money" host said: we have "an agenda in this country now that I would regard as being a radical agenda"; Obama's just announced budget "put a level of fear in this country that I have not seen ever in my life," and; "This is the most, greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president."
He also called Timothy Geithner "an invisible treasury secretary," and expressed hope that the next time he goes to Capitol Hill "he doesn't throw the drowning man the anvil like he did the last time he spoke" (video and transcript below the fold, file photo):
It was news media conventional wisdom during the 2008 presidential campaign: the worse the economy, the better it was for Democrat candidate prospects. But now that they have the legislative and executive branches and the burden of actually governing, that advantage is slowly being chipped away.
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, who first starting connecting that perhaps a Democrat-controlled federal government might not be the best thing for the United States earlier this year, gave something of a downbeat rant on Feb. 2 about Obama's handling of the economy so far.
"Until the Obama administration starts listening, until they start paying attention to what you're watching - to the stock market, until they realize that their agenda is destroying the life savings of millions of Americans - then all I can give you is caution," Cramer said on his March 2 broadcast.
Playboy Magazine got its undies in a bundle over the nation wide Tea Party protests held last Friday that were inspired by CNBC's Rick Santelli's free market rant of February 19. As Noel Sheppard noted on March 1, the skin mag published a piece claiming that Santelli was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy to protest Obama's socialist policies.
It turns out, however, that the story has been proven false and in response Playboy has mysteriously removed the piece that first raised the question of the grand conspiracy. Happily, the facts have won over on Playboy forcing it to pull down the fallacious story. In its place, all we now get is a "We're sorry, we couldn't find the page you requested," notice.
There's an N-Word you apparently write at your own risk if you're in the establishment media. It's "nationalization."
The Associated Press's Stephen Bernard, with the help of old reliables Jeannine Aversa and Martin Crutsinger, blew through almost 800 words (link is dynamic; 12:49 p.m. version is saved here for future reference, is now authored by Crutsinger, and is longer than what I originally read) about the deal between Uncle Sam and Citigroup, under which the government could end up with a 36% ownership stake -- almost certainly enough, as Citi's largest shareholder, to impose its will -- without mentioning the term.
Another precious tidbit is in the story's second-last paragraph (bold is mine):
Last month, Robert Rubin, a former Treasury Secretary who was a longtime Citigroup board member, and Win Bischoff, most recently chairman at Citigroup, both announced their retirement from the company.
"A" former Treasury Secretary?
Gee, until recently he was known as Democratic Treasury Secretary under Democrat Bill Clinton.
Maybe it was just too easy to assume the worst of the news network most others in the press love to hate. Or perhaps it was deliberate.
Whatever the reason, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire service's Wednesday story about reaction to Barack Obama's sort-of State of the Union Speech the previous evening spent four of its last five paragraphs pinning a report harshly critical of various claims in the speech on Fox News.
True, Fox News's web site carried the story ("Fact Check: Obama's Words on Home Aid Ring Hollow"). But it was actually written by the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn. (Yes, the AP actually wrote an Obama-critical story. More on that in a bit.)
Here are the four paragraphs in question from the AFP report, which otherwise lavishes praise on Obama's speech and rips into Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's GOP response performance:
Once again CNN goes over the top in its gobsmacked praise of its Obammessiah. This time appropriating Ronald Reagan's famous "morning in America" theme and assigning it to President Obama as a result of his not-the-state-of-the-union speech last night. In reality, Obama's speech was more like a moaning in America as opposed to that bright new morning that Reagan invoked.
Worse, Reagan's main theme for his "morning in America" ideal was to provoke Americans into a renewal of the American way of self-reliance, one removed from sucking at the teat of government. On the other hand, Barack Obama's main point was that without government, without The One and all his fixes, we are all doomed.
It was obvious to anyone's ears that Obama's theme was as far removed as Reagan's as can be.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with FDIC Chairwoman Shelia Bair and asked: "I can't think of a better morning to have you here, because all the talk is about the bank and if you look at the cover of The Washington Post, there it is, the n-word, 'nationalization,' which you have said you would be surprised if we get to that point. But isn't it maybe going to be a necessary evil?" On February 16, Rodriguez asked Republican Congressman Eric Cantor: "Can the Republican Party accept that there are situations when large-scale government intervention is necessary?"
After Bair downplayed the possibility of a government takeover of banks, Rodriguez countered: "But it sounds to me like it's a very real scenario that the government could wind up owning a majority stake in these banks if these stress tests show serious cracks because the stock is worth so little now, we don't have to put that much money in to own a majority." Bair replied: "Well, I think the inter-agency statement that was released yesterday indicated a strong presumption in favor of private control. And I think we would like to continue that. It's a very tough thing to run a bank." Rodriguez responded: "You would like to but is it realistic, do you think?"
After eight years of blaming everything that came out of our nation's capitol on George W. Bush, the New York Times is suddenly separating the White House from the government.
Such was immediately apparent in the Times front page story Tuesday addressing the mounting pressure being exerted on Washington to come up with more bailout funds for companies and industries in financial trouble.
The following are the opening three paragraphs. As you read them, consider how much differently they would have looked if Bush was still president:
"Listen, I think the government should stay out," Santelli said to Kudlow about the banking system. "I mean, look at the last plan where we put that money in there. There was talk about obviously the preferred shares and the dividend payments and paying it back, and now that's under review. You know, so we're revising the last plan. We're throwing more money in."
The resolution, according to Santelli, would be to protect the depositors, but let the institutions fail.
Americans increasingly see the danger in Barack Obama's scheme to spend our way out of economic difficulty. So for the mainstream media, it's all hands on deck to bolster confidence in Obama and his decisions. The dependable Jonathan Alter reports for duty in the March 2 Newsweek, also posted on the magazine's Web site. Titled "America’s New Shrink: Chin up, everyone. This president is well poised to bring us back from the brink," the article is loaded with happy talk about Obama and his incredible attributes. A few examples:
. . . Because my take on Obama, based on conversations with him and his team stretching back more than four years and extending into the White House, is that he has a firm grasp of the psychological and substantive challenges of the presidency. Equally important, his 2008 campaign proved that he possesses a superior sense of timing. He knows that now is not the moment to cheerlead, not when the financial players are lying dazed on the field. There will be time for that, when the banks have been "restructured" (see, that sounds better than "nationalized") and the credit starts flowing again.
. . . It's early yet and much can change, but the new president is showing signs of carrying himself in a more naturally confident way, with the right blend of traits. He's bold enough to add a couple of zeroes to the conversation about spending, but humble enough to utter those three most unpresidential words: "I screwed up."
Obama's confidence is the product of an unusual combination of good early parenting by his mother and grandmother and his own search for racial identity. "The earth shook under my feet, ready to crack open at any moment," he writes in "Dreams From My Father" of a moment of painful clarity when he was in high school. His white relatives, he now realized, could never understand him. "I stopped, trying to steady myself, and knew for the first time that I was utterly alone."
CNBC reporter Santelli's Thursday morning "Shout Heard Round the World" (CNBC's term) objecting to the Obama administration's mortgage modification program on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange quickly went viral, and struck two nerves. First, it ignited a groundswell of support from the over 90% of the of the nation that pays its bills and plays by the (normal) rules. The other nerve it struck was at the White House, whose spokesman Robert Gibbs struck back with a level of poorly concealed fury and contempt that I don't think I've seen publicly displayed by any other administration in my lifetime.
Larry Kudlow had Santelli as a guest on CNBC's Kudlow Report Friday night (CNBC video here; YouTube here [HT Scott's Slant]). As one would fully expect by this time, Santelli made a few huge, emotionally-charged points of his own. The gratifying stunner is Kudlow's passion in the final third of the interview, where he sounded the alarm over freedom of the press, basic respect, and bullying.
Looking around the web, at least at this point, this interview has gained relatively little exposure, leaving the distinct and incorrect impression that Gibbs has the rhetorical upper hand.
No way. The CNBC pair of Santelli and Kudlow has the White House on its heels. Common-sense, passionate, principled assertions rooted in truth will tend to do that. Here's the full transcript (bolds are mine):
Regardless of their actions on the stimulus plan, Republican governors are always wrong, at least according to MSNBC talk-show host Rachel Maddow.
The ardently earnest Maddow demonstrated this on consecutive nights this week, first on Tuesday when Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, was one of her guests.
Maddow described how GOP governors are split on whether to accept money for their states from the stimulus plan. Some, such as Charlie Crist of Florida and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, want the funding while others, including Sarah Palin of Alaska and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, are "vociferously opposed to the stimulus bill," Maddow said.