October 18, 2011

Karl and Tom: Ending the Foodfight

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:48 pm

FoodFightWelcome to those linking over from the recap I put up at PJ Tatler (“Tom, Karl, and Paulson’s (Figurative) ‘Gun to the Head’: The Last Word”).

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Previous items:

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It seems that objections coming from “Karl” (I’ll stick to using his first name since that’s all he’ll use of mine; maybe he thinks we’re best buds or something; if so, guy, please don’t make it “Facebook Official,” okay?) over at Market-Ticker.org now boil down to these:

  1. A picture he shows of two supposedly happy bankers leaving Henry Paulson’s extortion chamber.
  2. A really weird and false contention on his part that Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds haven’t, as I stated, been largely repaid.
  3. The use of two quotation marks (really).
  4. My somewhat different yet not understood (by him) take on the meaning of the events of October 14, 2008, the years of government, financial, and bipartisan political malfeasance which led to them, and factors influencing why the economy isn’t growing acceptably.

Item 4 remains extraneous. Karl has his opinions; I have mine. I think I understand his. He doesn’t really seem to care about mine (except when he erroneously thinks they’re statements of fact which he can then characterize as “utter falsehood”), which at this point is just as well.

The supposedly probative picture of only two of the bankers who participated in the now-infamous October 14, 2008 meeting with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson doesn’t prove anything, in at least three senses:

  • Those who have successfully been shaken down by someone far more powerful than them can’t exactly afford to look like they’re unhappy, even if they really are.
  • The original column I wrote in full context was based largely on a CNBC report which made it crystal clear that some (that’s s-o-m-e, Karl, not “all”) bank CEOs objected to being forced to take Godfather Paulson’s offer they, as the New York Times reported, “could not refuse.”
  • The Times specifically identified Wells Fargo and Bank of America as registering strong objections. One can argue over whether these two banks’ CEOs were being delusional in believing they didn’t need help, but that doesn’t change the reported fact that they claimed they didn’t need it.

Even if you somehow know beyond doubt that their appearances were sincere (and I don’t see how you can, Karl), the assertion that two bankers’ happiness in front of the cameras proves that all of them were privately happy with what went down is an epic fail in fundamental logic.

As to whether TARP funds have, as I asserted, been largely repaid, they have. The program’s three-year anniversary report tells us that out of $413 billion spent, $124 billion, or 30%, remains outstanding. The other programs and problems Karl cited are clearly matters of extremely deep concern, but they aren’t part of TARP.

The third objection from crack grammarian Karl is the most risible. It concerns the following paragraph from the original column:

The “gun to the head” was obvious: “You really have a nice bank there. But if you walk out without signing this document, right here, right now, we will bring all of the regulatory and law-enforcement powers of the United States government to bear on your institution. Your depositors and shareholders will suffer immensely. Your bank won’t survive. It would really be a shame if that were to happen. But we promise you, it will.”

Note that Karl, in his re-rebuttal excerpt, left out the first seven words. I believe that’s not an accident, as their inclusion blows his breathtakingly ignorant contention out of the water.

You see, Karl, the first seven words of that paragraph — unless you believe that Hank Paulson was holding an actual gun against the CEOs’ heads, which would in turn depend on CNBC’s Charles Gasparino also believing it — made it clear to anyone with an IQ above room temperature that what followed was a succinct if somewhat dramatic interpretation of what I believe, based on the CNBC and Times reports, was the atmosphere in that room. For you to believe that I have misled those who have read the piece into actually believing that Hank Paulson used the exact words between the offensive but probably not grammatically incorrect in context quotation marks, you would also have to believe — this explains why you “cleverly” left the first seven words out of your excerpt — that Hank Paulson had an actual gun in his hand and serially put it up against each CEO’s head as he moved around the room, forcing them to sign their respective one-page “agreements.”

Karl, I think it’s pretty damned obvious who, to use your terminology, is being “dumber than a box of rocks.” As to the use of the quote marks, I’ll turn myself and my PJM editor over to the tender mercies of my grade school English teacher Sister Jude or a nun of PJM’s choosing for a ruling, followed if necessary by a few ruler slaps on our respective wrists. Zheesh.

Thus, as demonstrated on Monday, the original column contains no “utter falsehoods.”

The demand for an unconditional apology to me and Pajamas Media stands. To repeat, Karl, it must go like this: “I was wrong. I am sorry. I will appropriately retract.”

Personally, I don’t give a flying flip whether Karl Denninger renders the required apology. He’s the one hanging out there looking so obviously foolish describing me, in effect all the contributors at Pajamas Media, and the web site’s management, “as the liars they are.” He’s the one with the problem.

Positivity: RIP, Carl Lindner (Also See Links Below)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 2:57 pm

(Moved to the top in a salute to the man’s life and accomplishments.)

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A “1%-er” who made such a difference and won well-deserved and almost universal admiration and respect both in and out of business is no longer with us — and the city he loved so dearly, while celebrating his life and accomplishments, is already feeling the loss (comments are open on this Positivity post):

11:27 PM, Oct. 17, 2011

Carl Henry Lindner: 1919-2011

From humble beginnings running his father’s dairy store in Norwood, Carl Henry Lindner Jr. grew into a billionaire, a friend of U.S. presidents and Greater Cincinnati’s most successful entrepreneur.

For nearly a century until he died late Monday at age 92 , the former Reds owner never shed the fierce competitiveness and loyalty that made him a hometown icon.

His influence ran to every corner of Greater Cincinnati. The high-school dropout bought and sold Kings Island, the Reds, Provident Bank and the Enquirer. His name is on buildings from the University of Cincinnati’s business school to the tennis center at Lunken Playfield.

But it was the banking and insurance business that made him a billionaire. At his death, his American Financial Group Inc. controlled assets of nearly $32 billion and he was routinely listed as one of the richest men in America.

Ever the optimist, Lindner often carried an inch-thick stack of cards with motivational sayings – one was “Only in America! Gee, am I lucky!” – that he handed out to anyone he would meet.

He was a teetotaler, physically unimposing yet with a prominent shock of white hair and a penchant for wearing flashy neckties.

Even to his closest friends and colleagues, he was soft-spoken and rarely confrontational. Yet some business partners complained about unfair treatment and he flashed a harsh temper when confronting reporters who wrote what he perceived as unfriendly stories or criticism of his business dealings.

A devout Baptist and a longtime member of Kenwood Baptist Church, Lindner used his wealth and influence behind the scenes to become Greater Cincinnati’s largest benefactor and economic development force. At the height of his personal giving he contributed millions of dollars a year to charitable causes, and brought thousands of high-paying jobs to downtown Cincinnati. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Related Links at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

UPDATE, 2:45 P.M.: “Lindner ‘a One-Man Chamber of Commerce‘” —

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory issued a statement early Tuesday.

“Carl Lindner has left a tremendous mark on our region,” Mallory said. “He understood the impact that his money could have on people and causes in our community, and he took his ability to make positive change seriously. But he also did a lot of things that he never even took credit for. His legacy will be felt for a long time. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family. Cincinnati mourns a truly great Cincinnatian.”

Ellen van der Horst, president of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, said Lindner “personifies everything that we stand for as a community.”

“He was a real life size hero,” van der Horst said the morning at the chamber’s annual economic forecast breakfast. She said the Chamber annually gives a Carl H Lindner award for Entrepreneurial and Civic Spirit, one if many awards in his honor.

“Cincinnati is a better place Because of Carl,” she said. “He is unequaled and he will be missed.”

Jeff Wyler, owner of the local automotive chain, said he met Lindner nearly 50 years ago.

“He was a legend in Norwood then,” Wyler said. “I have never met anyone who was more gracious and gave so much back to his community. What a great human being.”

“No one else in the community has had nearly the impact Carl has had,” said Tom Williams, chairman of the CEO group the Cincinnati Business Committee and president of North American Properties.

“He brought big companies to town,” Williams said. “It just demonstrated his love and devotion to Cincinnati.”

The bet here is that many if not most of the so-called “Occupy Cincinnati” folks — at least those native to this area — benefitted greatly from 1%-er Carl Lindner. Perhaps someday they’ll come to appreciate it.

Herman Cain ‘Leaving the Campaign Trail’ Update

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:45 pm

At Newsmax:

Cain Soars to 8-Point Lead in Iowa

Herman Cain has surged into an eight-point lead over his nearest Republican rival in first-in-the-nation Iowa, an exclusive Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll released on Monday shows.

The former pizza magnate is supported by 26 percent of voters who say they will vote for him in the Hawkeye State GOP caucus, compared to 18 percent who opt for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The surprising numbers come just two months after the popular Ames Iowa Straw Poll where Cain ranked fifth among the top-tier candidates, taking 1,456 votes to winner Michele Bachmann’s 4,823 votes.

Cain also is running second behind Romney in New Hampshire, according to a separate Newsmax poll in that state.

Combined, the two polls confirm that with the clock ticking on the primary season, Cain is now the clear favorite among conservatives who are determined to defeat Romney for the nomination.

… The polls in Iowa and New Hampshire and two other InsiderAdvantage polls in the other early voting states of South Carolina and Florida were all taken on Sunday evening.

All four show that Cain is the only candidate currently challenging the more moderate Romney.

… Cain’s eight-point lead in Iowa mirrors a similar figure revealed in a survey by the Democratic group Public Policy Polling taken last week. The Newsmax poll puts former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in third with 12 percent, followed by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann with 11, Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 10 and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 6.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who supposedly was conceding Iowa, is, as reported five days ago, “working Iowa quietly for (a) caucus surprise” — and he can’t even break 20%.

If he keeps on “Leaving the Campaign Trail” like this, someone will have to call him back in the summer of 2012 so he can accept the GOP’s nomination — despite his “obvious” lack of effort (/sarc).

Related: Here’s an emailed suggestion for a Herman Cain campaign slogan: “Hop on Cloud 9-9-9; Cain for President.”

CainCloud999

Works for me. And supply-side godfather Arthur Laffer. And Stephen Moore (“rocket fuel for the economy”). I do have a problem with whether the sales tax element can be kept under control in future years, but I’d rather deal with that problem than the awful tax system we currently have.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (101811)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 11:57 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder will follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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At Investor’s Business Daily (“The President’s Strange Bedfellows”) — “Barack Obama … has now aligned himself with a radical fringe seeking to destabilize the U.S. financial system.”

When you’ve lost Letterman …: A joke on his late-night show (HT Instapundit) — “Obama’s dog Bo has turned three. Do you know the difference between Obama’s dog and the U.S. economy? Obama fixed Bo.”

Utterly clueless at Mashable Entertainment, concerning the Herman Cain Godfather’s Pizza video from 1991 — Zachary Sniderman asks his readers, “Is this a career-crushing mistake or quirky aside?” Oh, and this: “Cain’s probably going to get some backlash for the video even as he leads the GOP race in most polls.” Huh?

At USA Today (“Budget cuts claim hundreds of thousands of county, city jobs”): Not that there aren’t any layoffs occurring, but note that the item cites no Ohio locales.

Oh, And He Can Sing, Too

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 8:01 am

… and has a sense of humor and great stage presence.

Herman Cain, at the 1991 Omaha Press Club show (hang on for the background singers):

Okay, that was the single (that’s old fogey for “the short version”).

A link to the album version (that means it’s longer — about 7-1/2 minutes) is here, complete with the “Godfather’s Girls,” Cain’s schmaltzy intro, and “All I Am Saying Is Give Pizza a Chance.” You MUST see it.

UPDATE: Here’s a 5-minute version with Cain’s vocals —

The heck with campaigning and political persuasion. Just show people this video, and the rest of the field is, uh, toast. Garlic toast.