Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Burr's Billionaire Sugar Daddies

Ever read an Op-ed piece that jumps off the page, slaps you in the face, and screams "WAKE THE HELL UP"? Here's one.

My favorite line: "The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests."

The Billionaire Sugar Daddies behind the Tea Party movement, and winding their way into controlling the Republican Party, are simply selfish slimeballs. They worship money. There's never enough money for them. They are all about .... take, take, take. And they'll stop at nothing short of paying ZERO income taxes. They don't want to contribute to our society.

Are you really going to be their dupes? Are you really going to vote Republican, so you can help these Billionaires accumulate even more wealth, at our expense? Go ahead, be a gullible idiot.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Senator Burr - I want our $1.34 Trillion back

All day long, CNBC has been broadcasting the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over the last decade. They say we've spent $1.34 Trillion on these wars so far. Was it worth it? I don't see it. I don't see that it was worth a damn dime.

Republican Senator Richard Burr - I want our money back.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Burr plays the Fannie card

Months ago, my wife wrote Senator Burr a letter complaining about Republicans blocking financial reform. I did not know about this until we recently received a canned response from one of the Senator's minions. The letter from our Senator's office was a real hoot. True to form, he played the Fannie card as the primary explanation for why he was blocking financial reform legislation:

".... a massive housing bubble fueled by subprime and other alternative mortgages with little to no underwriting standards and backed by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Unfortunately, the bill that came before the Senate fell far short of that goal, and I was unable to support it. The bill that was passed by the Senate does nothing to address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ...."

Does the Senator think we're all idiots?

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had little to do with our housing crises. I'm with Barry Ritholtz on this one. Barry is also a lifelong Republican, and Wall Street veteran. He recently wrote an excellent book, Bailout Nation. Barry sums it up best on page 261 of his book:

"Fannie has been around since 1938, Freddie since 1968, .... Suddenly, all of housing goes to hell in 2006, and then credit collapses two years after - and the best explanation some people can come up with is Fannie, Freddie, ...? Gee, isn't that rather odd - especially after 70 years?

While reducing the complexities of economic history into bumper-sticker phrases is politically expedient, it does not help us get to the root cause of the problems. And it gets in the way of helping us fashion a solution for the future. This is why I hold the weasels who are attempting to obscure reality and rewrite history in such disdain.

For the nonpartisan, non-hacks among you, for the policy makers and academics and economists who are truly interested in how this came to pass and what we can do to fix it, the bottom line remains: .... Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were mere cogs in a very complex financial machine with many moving parts. But the primary cause of the mess? NOT EVEN CLOSE.

Yep. I agree with Barry. Our Republican Senator Richard Burr is a weasel and a hack. Senator Richard Burr would like to blame this mess on anyone and everyone, but himself.

Republicans were all about "an ownership society". Republicans controlled the White House and Congress in the six years leading up to the apex of this housing crises. Republicans are to blame for this housing mess.

Don't fall for North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr's lies. Our Senator is a clueless dolt when it comes to understanding why it is that our economy went to hell. He just needs to look in the mirror for the explanation.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stunning Republican incompetence

I've been reading "In Fed We Trust" by David Wessel. David does a very good job of giving us a blow by blow look into the abyss of the 2008 - 09 financial crises from the eyes of the key players at the Federal Reserve Board, US Treasury and the New York Fed. It's a book that simply documents what meetings and conversations happened and when, who was present, and some insights into the details of the events - who said what, what opinions were expressed, what actions were taken. Many years from now, historians will be quoting this book as the single best reference for what occurred during this recent financial crises that destroyed our economy.

What did I learn from this book? It was absolutely STUNNING just how little our top government leaders understood about our financial system. It was absolutely STUNNING how time and again, major events of this crises unfolded without our government having a clue. We were in constant crises mode. We spend hundreds of Billions a year on people and infrastructure for our US Treasury and Federal Reserve Board, yet these government organizations were absolutely clueless. I was livid after reading this book - pissed off at the incompetence of the Federal Government institutions that failed the American people so miserably.

Two issues in particular strike me as being absolutely insane examples of incompetence. Pages 152 - 175 of David's book outlines the Bear Stearns debacle. Bear Stearns, a major NY Investment Bank, was a problem in the making for years. Yet, Bear's unwinding happened within days. One mid-week evening, our New York Fed gets a frantic call from the Bear Strearns CEO indicating Bear is days from going under. No one in the Federal Reserve Board, or US Treasury, had a clue. A series of late night calls and meetings unfolds. The meetings are aimless, like nomads wondering around in a barren desert without a map or compass. In the end, Ben Bernake simply makes a "gut" call that the US Government should step in and help Bear Stearns limp along until it can find a buyer.

Pages 191 - 201 of David's book outlines the key events around the unfolding of the AIG crises. It is shocking to find out that our government leaders had absolutely no clue that AIG was on the hook for hundreds of billions of financial insurance written for banks around the world. Just days before AIG had to be saved with hundreds of billions in US taxpayer money, our government leaders discovered that if AIG goes under, the entire world financial system is at risk. Days. No one in our government had a clue how intertwined the international financial system had become.

Who is to blame? Well, this crises unfolded in the 7th and 8th year of the Republican administration of George W Bush. In 6 of those 8 years, Republicans also controlled Congress. The buck stops with the leaders. Our government leaders were Republicans. Our lack of systems, information, and knowledge needed to have prevented this crises is the direct result of Republican incompetence.

Republicans were to blame for this financial mess. All Republicans who served during the administration of George W Bush need to be punished for failing the American people. That includes North Carolina Senator Richard Burr.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Enough with the *#(@ing Presidential Vacations

Mark me down as one more American who can't understand why our President can't show a little more restraint on the vacation front. Have some empathy for Americans going though these tough economic times Mr. President. Maybe stay home. Take a bike ride. Watch a couple movies with the kids. President Obama sure as hell makes it difficult to vote against Republicans in the upcoming election. Especially when the only other choice is the party led by a vacation addicted President.


In case you can't tell, my anger toward my Republican Party still runs deep. But I'm edging closer and closer to fence sitting. Democrats are simply blowing it, big time.

Potash explains why Republicans really SUCK

Potash corp makes fertilizer. BHP is a giant mining company that mines iron ore, gold and other metals and minerals. BHP wants to buy Potash, but Potash told BHP to take a hike. BHP isn't taking no for an answer and is now attempting a hostile takeover. Interesting stuff if you focus on the circus around this hostile takeover. I don't care about the takeover. I DO care about one of the outcomes from this takeover. The Potash CEO will pocket $445 Million if the takeover happens.

Just who in the *#&$ thinks this kind of payment is justified for a man who is NOT a founder of the company? The CEO has been with the company for 22 years, yes. But this man is not the reason that this company is being taken over. And $445 Million is an absolutely egregious amount of money to pay to a person who had not one damn thing to do with founding the company, and never had a significant amount of his wealth at risk in the company.

Republicans are to blame for this crap. And it has to stop.

We've just experienced a decade where our retirement investments in public company stocks have gone absolutely no where. A decade where Republicans were in control. A decade where Republicans fought tooth and nail to allow brain dead Boards of Directors to stay in place and continue to reward massive amounts of shareholder wealth to equally brain dead CEOs. Is it any wonder that shareholders and their retirement plans get absolutely zero return on their investment over the last decade? Un-deserving CEOs are stealing our wealth, by the hundreds of millions.

STOP this crap now. Allow a completely open and free process in the election of Board of Directors. Put some god damn adult oversight into the rewarding of stock options. Just plain get rid of employment contracts. And start slapping the cuffs on CEOs who run their companies into the ground and walk away with massive wealth. Enough is enough.

I'm tired of my Republican party defending Corporate America. I'm just damn tired of it. Screw the Republican party, because they've done nothing but screw our retirement investments.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

I can't support a Democrat

President Obama and the Democratic Party are failures, on par with the failures of George W. Bush and the Republican Party. There are simply no good alternatives in the American Political landscape now. Both of our main political parties, well, they both just suck. Maybe Revolution is a concept that will become more palatable if the situation doesn't improve soon?

President Obama really screwed up. Instead of using his power and popularity to destroy Republicans, he took the diplomatic approached of compromise. He allowed Republicans to slip hundreds of billions of tax cuts into the stimulus plans. That was wasted money and did nothing but add to our debt. Tax cuts don't do a damn thing when the economic problem is demand destruction. Tax cuts only add to capital formation. We are so awash in capital now that our Treasury yields are being bid to records lows. He allowed Republicans to take the high ground over claiming that Freddie and Fannie were the cause of all our economic problems. Freddie and Fannie were only minor players in the housing debacle, very minor players. Our President should have delivered a crushing blow to the idiot Republicans who destroyed the United States Economy. Our President should had shoved Republicans aside and embarked on his plans for fixing America. Instead, we're left with ineffective fixes that aren't working, all having been molded and altered by Republicans.

And President Obama is simply going off the reservation on too many issues. Why in the hell can he not take the side of the vast majority of Americans and do something about getting rid of illegal immigrants? Why is he destroying American jobs by putting a hold on offshore drilling? Why is he continuing to waste our money on stupid wars and other unnecessary defense spending outside of our country? Why is he just handing money to stupid people who went into debt over their eyeballs and overpaid for their homes? President Obama is a massive disappointment.

But, the Republicans have absolutely no one who can challenge. We have a giant void in intellectual leadership in America. We have no real leaders. Sarah Palin? Right. Let's put an idiot in the White House. Newt Gingrich? Right. Let's put a fat, lying, sex addict in the White House. Mike Huckabee? Bible thumping nut job who knows less about economic issues than Dora the Explorer. Mitt Romney? Please, the man made his wealth by buying companies, throwing people out of work and raiding their pension plans. Mitt will say ANYTHING to get elected. These idiots will solve all our problems? Got it. NOT.

Revolution. Its a concept I no longer fear. It can't be worse than what we're suffering through now.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 2 worst days of my life

Two days stick out in my mind as the very worst of my life.

The runner up happened over 40 years ago, but remains as vivid as ever in my memory. When I was a child, we moved frequently. My father was a career military officer. Early in their careers, military officers move around the world at a head spinning pace. As a result, I attended 3 different first grade schools. I can remember riding the bus to school on the first day of the 3rd school. They dropped us off at the playground. I knew where my classroom was and headed to the door. All the kids were putting stuff on the floor outside the door to reserve a place in line, then heading out to the playground to play. It was a big deal to get a place as close to the door as possible. But I had no lunch box, coat or books to reserve a place. I didn't know what to do.

I fell victim to a 3rd grade con job. A group of 3rd grade boys came down the hall and started up a conversation. When they learned of my predicament, they convinced me to leave my lunch money as a marker in line. With naive ease, I plunked down my lunch money and headed out to the playground to play. You can guess what happened. When the bell rang, my lunch money was gone and I stood in the very back of the line. It was humiliating. I didn't eat lunch that day.

The day only got worse. At afternoon recess, some deranged kid, who is likely the leader of a modern day radical gay rights group, kept picking on me. The weird kid kept grabbing at my pants at recess and unzipping my zipper. I tried to run away and avoid him. He'd follow me and continue his games. I finally shoved him away. Of course my teacher only saw me shoving another child on the playground. Ouch. I got called out of the classroom. She delivered a slap across my face that left a protruding red welt which I still subconsciously feel 40 years later. I remember crying on the bus on the way home. I remember running to my room, burying my head in my pillow and crying myself to sleep. Bad day. It was a day that seared itself into my memory and left a life-long scar.

The worst day of my life? I walked into a voting booth on November 4, 2000 and voted for George W Bush. I voted to put Republicans back in control of our White House. I voted for the party who would adopt policies that destroyed our economy. I'm partly responsible for putting millions of Americans out of work, crushing the value of our homes and retirement plans, and sending our children off to senseless and expensive wars. Many of those children are now dead. I voted for the party that adopted such irresponsible fiscal policies that they all but bankrupted our country. That day really sucked. I am deeply ashamed. I hope to never repeat that day. And I won't. I'll never again vote for a Republican.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Can the Republican Party splinter?

It appears that the radical, ultra right wing nut jobs are defecting to the Tea Party. The best we can hope for is that the Tea Party becomes a valid party with significant mass, largely made up of former Republicans. That would successfully split Republican voters, and leave the field wide open for both Republicans and nut job Tea Partiers to be minority players in American politics. There's always hope.

Democrats lost my vote, but Republicans will never get it back

I'm a weary American voter. I've rebelled against my Republican party. I can't wait for the day to walk into the voting booth to vote against Republicans. But there's a problem with my strategy. I simply can't stand what's going on right now in Washington DC. Democrats are just as bad, if not worse.

What's up with illegal immigration? Well over 60% of Americans want illegal immigration dealt with, and harshly. We need to move illegal aliens out of this country. We need to seal our borders. We need to stop handing out citizenship to the 1 of 12 babies born in this country, born to illegal aliens. America can simply no longer afford to pay the heavy social costs of illegal immigration. Yet, President Obama is moving to stop Arizona from doing what the American people want done? How much sense does that make? None.

What's up with the ban on offshore drilling? Americans need jobs, damn it. How much sense did it make to slap a ban on offshore drilling? None. Executives in every corporate oil company are now running scared. They are checking and double checking all their equipment and procedures. They saw what happened to BP and how costly that mistake was. And there's no way any oil company executive wants to become another BP. It is now the safest time in history to be conducting offshore drilling operations. Yet, in its warped wisdom, Washington DC has slapped a ban on offshore drilling and thrown a number of Americans out of work. What a dumb move. Just plain dumb.

What's up with Afghanistan? Aren't we old enough to remember Vietnam? We continue to dump massive amounts of our money in a war that is senseless. Stop the madness. Bring all our troops home. Every last American soldier who now serves outside our country needs to come home. We can no longer afford to be the protector of the entire Earth. We can't afford it. We're broke.

What's up with rewarding irresponsible people? I'm just damn tired of reading about all the federal programs being passed to simply hand my money over to people who were irresponsible when it came to buying a home. Why do they deserve a hand up? Isn't that rewarding stupidity? And I'm even more tired of reading about Americans who borrowed heavily against their homes and bought cars and vacations. These people are now walking away from their obligations in droves with no responsibility to pay back the loans. The Federal Government is doing nothing to punish these morons? We've become a society where the irresponsible win at the expense of the responsible. Just stop with the damn mortgage programs. Get out the handcuffs and arrest people who walk away from their debts.

I'm just plain weary, and lost. My Republican party really sucks. It is dominated by religious nut jobs who protect the very wealthy at the cost of fiscal saneness. My party protects the thieves and crooks in corporate America. It lies, constantly. It spreads fear at the drop of a hat. And it lets flawed economic policy destroy the savings of Americans. My Republican party is broken.

There's nowhere to turn though. So, it looks like I won't be voting this fall. Bummer.

One thing for sure however - North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Republicans support Mark Hurd. Republicans support theft and criminal activity.

Say you were to lie on your expense report. Say you were to arrange for a friend of yours to get paid by a company you work at, for doing nothing. Would you be fired? You're damn right you'd get fired. And you'd get arrested. But not Mark Hurd, the CEO of HP, a giant public company. What happened to Mark Hurd when he lied, cheated, and stole money from HP? Mark was paid a $28 Million severance package. Just WTF is going on here?

Republicans. Republicans are at fault for this crap.

Our country's public companies are run by Boards of Directors that are hand picked by the company. The company management, that Board's are supposed to oversee, actually pick the Board members who will be put on the ballot for election. There are so many restrictions and limitations preventing shareholders from nominating Board members, that it's always a hand picked group that gets elected to the Board of Directors. And in our country, we get saddled with brain dead Board members who reward company management with egregious compensation packages that are an insult to an average person. It's just plain theft. And it happens day in and day out.

The system is broken, and Republicans want to keep it that way. In the SEC's latest efforts to change this system, the vote to do so was straight down political party lines. 3 Democrats voted for change. 2 Republicans voted against change. Republicans are with Mark Hurd. Republicans want egregiously paid CEO's to get away with theft and walk away with Millions and Millions of shareholder money. How much common sense does this make? NONE.

I'm deeply ashamed of my Republican Party on this very issue. It needs to be changed. All shareholders should be given a right to nominate who ever the hell they want to nominate, no matter how many shares a shareholder owns. This election process to a Board of Directors of a public company needs to be as wide open as the election process to public office. But Republicans stand in the way.

You know how I would solve this Mark Hurd problem and thereby bring egregious pay packages back down to earth? I'd send in the FBI and Justice Department today. I'd slap handcuffs on every Board Member of HP and march these idiots off to jail. I'd give directions to the Justice Department to make every possible effort to make a case for theft and to deny bail as long as possible. I'd throw the damn book at HP in this case to make a point. It's time in this country to bring common sense back into the Board rooms across America when it comes to executive compensation packages.

But you won't get a single Republican to support this effort. And its a damn shame.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Peggy Noonan is my hero

Peggy Noonan just wrote one heck of a great opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, "America is at Risk of Boiling Over." Read it when you get the chance. It's a piece I wish every American would read. She really hammers on how detached Washington DC is from the rest of America. They're doing stupid shit in Washington DC. That's the bottom line.

It's time to send the stupid people in Washington DC packing. I can think of no one more deserving of a ticket home than our brain dead Republican Senator from North Carolina.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finally, the SEC opens up the proxy process

From this Wall Street Journal article, it finally appears that the SEC is set to open up the proxy process. What's this mean? Shareholders are finally going to get the opportunity to nominate people to appear on the ballot for election to the Board of Directors. Can you imagine that? Shareholders of public companies in America are FINALLY going to get the opportunity to choose the people who oversee the managers of the companies that shareholders own. A company owner finally gets a say in how his company is managed. A human trying to breathe is finally going to get oxygen to breathe. Finally.

For all their talk about free markets, capitalism, getting government out of the way, laissez-faire, my Republican party has always objected to giving the owners of public companies the basic right to appoint company overseers. As a result, we've endured decades of brain-dead public company Board of Directors who sat around and allowed shareholders to be raped. We've endured egregious salary packages and golden parachutes that are just plain sinful. We've endured so many Enrons, Worldcoms, and bank failures that its just plain shameful to call ourselves capitalists. We've been deprived the very basic rights of capitalism, thanks to my Republican party.

And the really sinful thing about this whole mess? Republicans still object. The SEC vote to allow shareholders to have this basic say in corporate oversight is going to be 3 to 2. Three Democrats will vote yes. Two Republicans will vote no.

This one issue is the single most important reason I broke ranks with my Republican party and voted for President Barack Obama. And I have a message for the Republican Party about the two no votes that will happen ..... Go F*#& yourselves Republicans. You are hypocrites and deserve to have your sorry asses kicked out of office.

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

David Stockman blasts the Republican Party

I'm with Barry Ritholtz (How the GOP destroyed the economy), David Stockman's op-ed piece in the NY Times is a real eye opener. Stockman, the OMB Director for President Regan, really blasts the Republican party. According the Stockman, this financial crises we are enduring is the direct result of errant Republican policies. Republicans are to blame for the current state of our economy. Republicans, not President Obama or Clinton, and not the current Democrats controlling Congress. Republicans brought us this mess. Our Republican party screwed America. And don't forget that when you walk into the voting booth this fall.

From Stockman's op-ed piece, the last two paragraphs pack a blow out punch:

"It is not surprising, then, that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1 percent of Americans — paid mainly from the Wall Street casino — received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90 percent — mainly dependent on Main Street’s shrinking economy — got only 12 percent. This growing wealth gap is not the market’s fault. It’s the decaying fruit of bad economic policy.

The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing — as suggested by last week’s news that the national economy grew at an anemic annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter. Under these circumstances, it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever."

North Carolina deserves better than Republican Senator Richard Burr.