September 23, 2008

I Detest Being Stampeded into Something ….

Filed under: Economy,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:17 am

…. and that’s exactly what this looks like:

PaulsonCNNemailHeadline092308

Wish I had time to dig into this today, but I don’t.

The BizzyBlog-patented Instinct-ometer™ senses that Congress had better not surrender its oversight responsibilities, and had better insist that controls are in place, including independent outside audits with required periodic reporting, to ensure that this doesn’t turn into the Mother of All Fraudulent Honeypots — Or the Fraud-Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson (you can figure out the acronym).

If it were me (and it’s not, because as you’ll see, I’d be a real pain in the posterior on this, and would probably be fired in about 10 seconds), I would set aside the $700 bil.

BUT, I would demand proof of loss and a full explanation of why the loss occurred for each bad loan involved on a case by case basis, attested to by an independent third party (probably a CPA firm other than the one each firm involved currently uses), before cutting any loss-reimbursement checks to anyone. Any money advanced ahead of that to keep the markets functioning would be treated as loans, not gifts, until such proof is provided.

I would treat Fan and Fred’s bailout in exactly the same way.

Too cumbersome? Too bad.

Of course, this makes too much sense.

___________________________________

UPDATE: Clarity, if needed — Advance the money necessary to keep the system liquid, and ONLY what’s necessary to keep the system liquid (my guess is that it’s a lot less than $700 billion immediately, and it sure as bleep shouldn’t be issued all at once). Offset “reimbursements” against advances as they’re resolved, until the advances are used up. Then issue actual reimbursement checks from that point forward.

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (092308, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 6:25 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • From Sept. 17 — “Even GOP Says McCain Must Accept Earmarks.” Among those quoted is Ohio’s own Ralph Regula, who said, “I don’t think it’s the right approach. I haven’t done an earmark I wouldn’t be happy to have spread all over the front pages of the paper.” Here’s the deal, Ralph: That’s fine if your precious little earmarks are passed by veto-proof majorities in both houses, one by one, each one by itself. No more larding them into any other appropriations bill, EVER. Is that OK? If it’s not, too bad.
  • One of the odder reports I’ve ever seen comes from Expatica Germany (“Islamic charity bosses jailed for fraud”). It’s odd because the jailed are never named.
  • It’s pretty hard to pin the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacles on the presidential candidate I refer to as JS3M3 (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III), given that he publicly called for reform 3-1/2 years ago.
  • From IBDeditorials.com, in essence: The big brokerage firms decided that they were smarter than the markets, effectively opened up their own ridiculously leveraged margin accounts with shareholders’ money, and “lost.” The final word is in quotes because the taxpayers are the losers. You can’t write government regulations for everything. The real question is where the Boards of Directors and shareholders were while all this risk was being taken. I guess the now-proven temporary rewards were too intoxicating.
  • Two of the latest posts from James Pethokoukis have been, unfortunately, spot on: “4 Ways to Turn a Recession into a Depression” and “Bailout Prevents Great Depression 2.0.” I’m not at all happy with what more and more seems to be necessary, thanks to “Barney’s Rubble.” A futile-seeming hope: There had better really tight controls on who gets paid in all of this (voice in back of head says, “dream on”). I don’t agree with a couple of the “fixes” Newt Gingrich is proposing, but I am totally down with repealing Sarbanes Oxley. Absent that, federal and state governments and all of their entities must be forced to comply (that will ensure that repeal is chosen if those are the only two choices).
  • Ouch — “A German bank that handed over 350 million euros this week to bankrupt Lehman Brothers and got nothing in exchange may pursue criminal charges against its own executives, a report said over the weekend. ….. The automated payment on Monday went out just hours before Lehman declared itself insolvent. Lehman did not settle the swap with the equivalent in US currency, $500 million, leaving (the bank) in the queue as a (general) creditor.”
  • Last week, multimillionaire NBA basketball player Josh Howard, and beneficiary of a free ride at taxpayers’ expense at the University of Michigan, said of the Star-Spangled Banner, “I don’t celebrate this [expletive]. I’m black.” He also made “a difficult-to-discern comment that includes a (favorable) reference to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.” Though he obviously didn’t have to, Obama had a perfect opportunity to repudiate Howard, and from what I can tell, didn’t. Certainly no candidate is under an obligation to repudiate kook supporters he or she doesn’t know. But repudiating the ones they DO know, especially ones they know well, and doing so on a timely basis is, of course, a totally different story. That Obama has not done this is an irrefutable fact.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (092308, Morning)

Whether or not Ohio Representative JohnHugsHusted does or does not spend enough time in the district he represents is not an unimportant matter, as anyone who has followed this blog knows, and what that percentage is would be useful to know.

But one thing that should not be relevant is this item alleged in the Dayton Daily News (HT Naugblog):

Husted’s Kettering home frequently looks unoccupied and newspapers sometimes accumulate on the grounds. He said he has a basket by the front door to collect items in and he does not believe that six weeks of newspapers piled up, as Doll contends.

Even if he were there 24-7-365, if those piled-up papers are all DDNs, I completely understand why Husted wouldn’t bother looking at them for at least six weeks.

____________________________________________________

James Pethoukoukis, last Thursday, on the creator of Barney’s Rubble:

“The private market screwed itself up, and they need the government to come help them unscrew it.” So says Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Did Wall Street make mistakes? Absolutely. But so did our fellow Americans who took out loans that they shouldn’t have.

And so did Uncle Sam. The more you look at the history of the housing-spawned credit crisis, the more you notice Uncle Sam popping up, Zelig-like, in every scene. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were government-birthed entities that decided to buy securities tied to subprime loans. And it was government officials on Capitol Hill, the recipients of millions in campaign donations from the F&F lobby, who decided not to rein in those entities. You had the government ‘ s Community Reinvestment Act nudging banks to make unsound loans.

….. And now, folks like Barney Frank pretend government just showed up on the accident scene moments ago like an innocent passerby who wonders aloud, “Anyone here know what happened? Anyone?” I mean, how can we try to prevent future financial crises, or least minimize their damaging effects, if we delude ourselves on the causes of the current one?

The free market didn’t start the fire. Barney and his boys and girls did.

__________________________________________

From Michigan, via AP: McCain-Obama basically tied (HT Right Michigan).

This makes me wonder if anyone has done the work to see if the weighted-average state-by-state results support the daily notion that Obama is up nationally. Someone ought to. I’m not accepting any nominations — yet.

__________________________________________

What HAS Obama accomplished legislatively? Barely, if anything, more than this poor guy could come up with back in February:

Oh, I forgot. There’s the $100,000 Obamazebo.

Positivity: 94-year-old Holocaust survivor reconnects with family that saved her life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Israel, and Poland:

Sep 18, 2008 21:36 | Updated Sep 19, 2008 2:15

A 94-year-old Holocaust survivor, the mother of the prominent Israeli businessman Yossi Maiman, has reconnected with the Polish family who saved her life and that of her own mother by sheltering them from the Nazis in Poland during World War II.

The story of life and bravery amid death and destruction begins nearly a century ago in Poland.

Esfira Maiman was born in 1914 in the central Polish city of Lodz, where her family was in the textile business.

After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, she and her parents made their way to Warsaw, where they were incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto.

In 1942, she managed to escape the ghetto, where her father had died of a heart attack, due to her job as a steel laborer, which afforded her the rare privilege of leaving the restricted zone.

Abetted by her husband’s contacts with the underground, Maiman quickly connected with a Polish woman, Stanislawa Slawinska, who lived in the rural community of Grodzisk Mazowiecky, about 30 km. from Warsaw.

Slawinska, a Polish Catholic, vehemently opposed the Nazis even though her own father was German, and readily took Maiman in.

“From the minute we entered her home we became friends,” Maiman recounts from her home in an upscale retirement complex in Herzliya Pituach.

A week later, Maiman was able to get her mother smuggled out of the ghetto and into Slawinska’s home as well.

Her husband was caught and murdered by the Nazis on one of his underground missions.

Maiman and her mother spent the next two years in the safety of Slawinska’s home, which she also opened to other Jews hiding from the Nazis.

The home was situated in a rural area, with train tracks one side and a bloc of German soldiers on the other, she said.

“Every day I would see the trains going by, taking the Jews from their homes and villages to their death, and on the other side the German soldiers drawing water from a well,” Maiman recalled.

To avoid detection, Maiman rarely left the home for the next two years, too fearful to even venture to a small bathroom outside the house. The residents placed a piece of spoiled meat at the entrance to the hiding place to repel the dogs of the German soldiers if they ever searched the house.

Though at one point she was blackmailed by a Polish neighbor who knew she was hiding Jews, Slawinska, who was childless, never turned them out, despite the danger to her own life.

After the war ended, Maiman remarried, and spent the next year and half in a DP camp in Germany, where her son Yossi was born.

In 1948 she and her husband and mother moved to Peru, where she had a cousin who survived the war, and where they lived for the next two decades.

Over the years, she would send packages of rice and flour – along with some money – to her Polish savior, but never got a reply, she said, and contact between the two women was lost.

The Maimans moved to Israel in 1972; today, Yossi Maimon is chairman of the Merhav Group, which is known worldwide for project development, contracting and finance.

Despite the passage of time, the nonagenarian never forgot the woman who saved her life.

Two years ago, Maiman formally requested that Yad Vashem recognize Slawinska as a Righteous Among the Nations, but the request was put on hold as they investigated the case, she said.

“We felt helpless,” her daughter Michele recounted.

Six months ago, Michele approached an Israeli official with the New York-based International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and recounted her mother’s story.

The decade-old organization, which seeks to identify stories of Holocaust rescue that have not been previously uncovered, rushed into action.

Maiman was sure that Slawinska, who was about seven years older than she was, was no longer alive, but she remembered her nephew, Roman, who was a boy during the war, and who kept the secret of the hidden Jews.

Within weeks the Foundation was able to locate Roman Slawinska, who was still living in the same Warsaw suburb, and found documentation of his aunt’s courageous deeds. Copies of the documents – it turned out – had been in the Yad Vashem archives the whole time, according to Danny Rainer, the vice president of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

Maiman and Slawinska were soon on the phone, sharing stories of their linked past, crying tears of joy. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.