September 29, 2008

Bailout’s ‘$700 Billion’ Cost Is a Contrived Wild Guess; Media Mostly Ignores

As I write this on Monday afternoon, the People’s House has rejected “the $700 billion bailout.”

You won’t believe, unless you’re a very experienced cynic, where that $700 billion figure came from.

The answer appears to be “out of nowhere.”

With no basis.

I’m not kidding.

Here’s the evidence, carried six whole days ago at Forbes (HT LAT’s Top of the Ticket Blog via BizzyBlog commenter Dan Scott):

….. The committee’s top Republican, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, says he’s concerned about its cost and whether it will even work.

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

My guess is that the person just quoted, if discovered, might be better known today as a “former Treasury spokesman.”

It doesn’t seem like a wild stretch to suggest that there is a whiff of blackmail in the figure Treasury decided to use (i.e. “How big does it have to be to get them to do what we want?”).

This is serious stuff ….. right?

Yet the press coverage of this quote, admittedly unattributed (not that it’s stopped the press before), is very light. Further, though I may have missed it, I haven’t seen anyone challenge Paulson, or Bernanke, or Bush about the validity of the $700 billion figure.

The New York Times has not reported it (search is on “particular data point” in quotes) in its regular news coverage. It is mentioned at the Times’s Freakonomics blog — in a comment.

The same search at Google News at about 3:00 p.m. ET returned 61 items (not 66, as claimed on the first page). Almost all are local TV stations, relatively minor publications, or right-leaning blogs. I saw not major Old Media outlet.

Although many of those TV items indicated that the Associated Press had a hand in their reports a 7-day search at the home page of ap.org came up empty, even typing “particular data point” without quotes.

I daresay if most Americans knew of the Treasury person’s quote, the communication lines in Washington would melt down. How can this possibly not be important?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Missouri Sheriffs’ and Prosecutors’ Obama ‘Truth Squad’ Getting Old Media Silence

(Originally posted shortly after midnight, carried forward to the top)

What if I told you that sheriffs and prosecutors in, say, Indiana, had formed “truth squads” and “subtly” threatened prosecutions of critics of John McCain?

Does anyone think that the New York Times, Washington Post and Old Media in general wouldn’t be putting the news on the front page, even with the bailout-apalooza going on in Washington?

Well, there is a “truth squad.” It’s in Missouri. It includes prosecutors and sheriffs. Oh, and they have formed their truth squad to threaten and intimidate the critics of ….. Barack Obama.

Here is a transcript of a report from station KMOW in St. Louis (first 1:45 of vid; HT Gateway Pundit) that may leave you wondering whatever happened to the country we once knew:

(more…)

Hank Paulson’s Resignation Should Be a Bailout Precondition

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:54 am

Paulson can assert that he can be independent in fact all day long, but his lack of independence in appearance, and attitude, is obvious.

Many of the provisions in what Paulson originally proposed betray his lack of true independence.

His original “solution” involved him becoming the country’s virtual chairman of the board. There may still be probably is too much power concentration even in the current bailout bill.

Not to mention the possibility that Paulson, perhaps with the help of Ben Bernanke, may have blackmailed Congress into acting — which, if true, is grounds for doing more than merely forcing his resignation.

Newt Gingrich:

Gingrich even expressed concern with Paulson’s connections to Wall Street.  The treasury secretary served as the chairman of a major global investment banking and securities firm before joining the Bush administration.

“You have the former Chairman of Goldman Sachs asking for 700 billion dollars, and in his initial request, asking for it in such an un-American way that I think he should have resigned,” said Gingrich. “I think Paulson has terminally misunderstood the nature of the American system. Not just no review, no judicial review, no congressional accountability. Give me 700 billion dollars, 700 BILLION dollars! ‘I’ll be glad to spend it for you.’  That’s a centralization of power that is totally un-American.”

“Even expressed?” Zheesh, ABC, those connections form the heart of the problem.

Paulson will never be able to make a convincing case that valuation decisions involving investments originally made by people he used to either work with, manage, or hang around were made fairly and impartially. Despite the presumption that “of course” he’s leaving on January 20 of last year, I believe that he intends to convince the next president that he’s “indispensable” and needs to stay.

The bailout in any form shouldn’t pass unless Paulson leaves.

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UPDATE: Here’s the link to Michelle Malkin’s post containing the bailout bill as of sometime yesterday afternoon.

Positivity: Soccer player returns to the field where he nearly died

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:15 am

From Augsburg College in Minnesota (video is also at link):

Sept. 25, 2008

On a damp field at Augsburg College Tuesday night, Matt Bowman enjoyed his soccer team’s Homecoming game.

But the game wasn’t just Matt’s return to where he belongs — it was his return to where he nearly died just a little more than a month ago.

On August 20th, the 19-year-old sophomore collapsed in the final minutes of his soccer game.

“I was jogging around the field, my vision tunneled. I thought, ‘I have to go down,’” said Matt on Tuesday night.

Matt’s parents ran from the bleachers to their son’s side.

“She looks at me and says, ‘I can’t find a pulse,’ and I say, ‘what, what do you mean you can’t find a pulse?’” said Gary Bowman, Matt’s dad. “His lips were already blue, tops of his ears were blue.”

But then Gary started calling his son’s name. Matt heard the calls and eventually, recovered.

“I definitely felt like something was going on. I was going somewhere, I was slipping into something – it felt like back and then coming to,” Matt said.

After one long minute, Matt was conscious again. A week later, doctors figured out what had happened.

Dr. Tim Kroshus of the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, said Matt experienced a “sudden death episode” caused by an anomalous coronary artery. One of his arteries was being pinched between his aorta and pulmonary artery which cut off the blood supply to his heart.

“The condition itself is one of the most common causes of death in young athletes,” Dr. Kroshus said, adding that they learned of Matt’s condition through a relatively new test: a CT coronary angiogram.

Dr. Kroshus and his team were able to correct Matt’s condition — moving it from one side of the valve, to the other.

Matt will be able to return to playing soccer and other sports by mid-November. According to Matt, it’s a medical miracle that he doesn’t take lightly.

“I’m so grateful. I don’t know why I was given a second chance but I know someone was watching over me and God pulled me through, I think,” Matt said. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.