I have a new piece up at the Hudson New York website, suggesting New Year's resolutions for the mainstream media. It's here.
I have a new piece up at Power Line, about Hollywood. It's here.
Daily Snippets are here.
Answers to the current question are here.
The new current question is here.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2008
Posted at 7:51 p.m. ET
No one could accuse Investor's Business Daily of being anti-business. It is a symbol of pro-business journalism. So, when IBD goes after businessmen, it's a story.
In a superb editorial, IBD does just that - going after the phonies in business who pay, or are paid, ridiculous "bonuses" for results not achieved or goals not met. We have said here at UA for months that this is a major scandal within capitalism, and the people who created this scandal seem to have learned nothing, which is usually the case. There is a corrupt culture in part of American industry, and it must be rooted out. We who believe in free enterprise should be in the lead. IBD:
In any real crisis, everyone sacrifices to weather the storm. But the panicky $700 billion bailout that Congress approved for 116 banks in the fall shows an entirely different sense of urgency.
On Sunday, the Associated Press found that $1.6 billion of bailout cash was converted to gravy for 600 bankers. They got bonuses, club dues, financial planners, corporate jet travel, daily limousines and home security systems, courtesy of the taxpayers.
This is a bad sign of what's ahead if failure continues to be rewarded and government keeps propping up uncompetitive companies and industries in crisis.
Well said, and not a moment too soon.
It's obvious these banker bonuses had no correlation to productivity or performance. In the real world, enterprises provide such benefits only when executives produce results — that is, profits.
And there are examples of sound practices. For example:
On Monday, for example, executives of Caterpillar gave up compensation to ensure that their firm would survive. The banks — especially investment banks — seem to play by different rules.
They certainly do. I've lived in towns where the investment bankers congregate. It's a different, often amoral culture, one most Americans wouldn't recognize. Some of them don't make money the old fashioned way, to put it mildly.
AP asked 21 bank spokesmen how their companies were spending their taxpayer money and got only evasive answers. Goldman Sachs told AP it needed to retain and motivate its talent to ensure its "continued success," not mentioning where this talent is threatening to migrate in a global and industry downturn.
The nerve of them. Unbelievable, isn't it?
To take bailout money, even a mere $1.6 billion, and blow it on bonuses is a violation of the public trust.
It is good to see a business publication writing about the public trust. For too many years we've put up with the argument that we must never question "the market," even when that market is distorted by corrupt or inferior practices. No, we can question. It's our responsibility.
Maybe Goldman's $600,000 earners can make do on the $400,000 salary of a U.S. president or the $200,000 salary of a senator to show some sort of leadership. At a time like this, they should be marshaling all their resources to invest in viable growth.
Sadly, they probably won't. It's their culture, the culture of grab fast, grab big, grab often, and make sure you have the right golfing partners. Their lives revolve only around money, and around no other value.
There are some wonderful people on Wall Street, like Felix Rohatyn, who earned his considerable keep and served society. But, sadly, their number seems small these days. We have some rethinking to do, and IBD has helped us do it.
December 23, 2008. Permalink
THE BRIGHT SPOT - AT 7:09 P.M. ET: From AP: Oil prices tumbled below $38 a barrel Tuesday on fresh evidence of weakness in the U.S. housing market and a shrinking gross domestic product that suggests the recession may be worsening. A report by the Commerce Department showed that sales of new homes fell in November to the slowest pace in nearly 18 years, while new home prices dropped by the biggest amount in eight months.
COMMENT: Low oil prices are a bright spot. Millions of Americans must drive to work or heat their homes. They deserve a break.
BULLETIN AT 7:04 P.M. ET: The Obama transition team has found itself not guilty of any inappropriate contact with the governor of Illinois regarding the naming of a successor to fill the Senate seat being vacated by the president-elect.
COMMENT: Well, that settles everything.
THIS JUST IN - AT 9:39 A.M. ET: Headline today from Gannett News Service: CONFLICTS LOOM FOR OBAMA
Just wanted to rush you that news.
Posted at 9:33 a.m. ET
Seattle, naturally, supplies us with a classic example of environmentalism run amuck, creating a dangerous situation. Seattle, it seems, is a bit delicate about snow removal. People? Who cares about people? The Seattle Times explains:
...it turns out "plowed streets" in Seattle actually means "snow-packed," as in there's snow and ice left on major arterials by design.
Oh, I can't wait to drive. Wait. Let me check my collision insurance.
The city's approach means crews clear the roads enough for all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles, or those with front-wheel drive cars as long as they are using chains...
The other cars are owned by despicable clowns who don't understand the way better people live and think.
The icy streets are the result of Seattle's refusal to use salt, an effective ice-buster used by the state Department of Transportation and cities accustomed to dealing with heavy winter snows.
Why do anything that works? That's for the capitalists and their middle-class lackeys.
"If we were using salt, you'd see patches of bare road because salt is very effective," an official said. "We decided not to utilize salt because it's not a healthy addition to Puget Sound."
And people killed in road accidents aren't healthy additions to cemeteries. Anyone think of that?
Seattle also equips its plows with rubber blades. That minimizes the damage to roads and manhole covers, but it doesn't scrape off the ice, Wiggins said.
Manhole covers over man. What a concept.
The city's patrol cars are rear-wheel drive. And even with tire chains, officers are avoiding hills and responding on foot, according to a West Precinct officer.
So what? Just don't get robbed or have a heart attack when there's snow on the ground. This answer is so obvious.
Seattle's stand against using salt is not shared by the state Department of Transportation, which has battled the latest storms in Western Washington with de-icer, 5,800 tons of salt and 11,500 cubic yards of salt and sand mix, said spokesman Travis Phelps.
Techno-fascists! They probably voted for BUSH.
Wiggins, of Seattle's transportation department, said the city's 27 trucks had plowed and sanded 100 percent of Seattle's main roads, and were going back for second and third passes.
"It's tough going. I won't argue with you on that," he said. But here in Seattle, "we're sensitive about everything we do that impacts the environment."
Why not send Wiggins, on foot of course, to notify families whose loved ones have been hurt, or worse, when cars went out of control on the ice? Maybe he can explain environmentalism to them, or give them autographed copies of "Silent Spring."
December 23, 2008. Permalink
THE BUILDER - AT 8:13 A.M.: From The New York Times: WASHINGTON — Even before taking office, Hillary Rodham Clinton is seeking to build a more powerful State Department, with a bigger budget, high-profile special envoys to trouble spots and an expanded role in dealing with global economic issues at a time of crisis.
COMMENT: The question is what she will allow Obama to do.
"THE ONE" PREPARES
Posted at 7:52 a.m. ET
The news today (see our "snippets" page) that Barack Obama will use the same Bible at his inauguration that Lincoln used at his first - something no other president has dared to do - reminds us that Obama is being draped in greatness even before he sits at the presidential desk.
Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal has noticed. He points out that Obama has been anointed "person of the year" by Time, which describes The One in almost religious terms:
"His genome is global, his mind is innovative, his world is networked, and his spirit is democratic," gushes Time magazine's David Von Drehle in his "Person of the Year" profile of Mr. Obama. Time betrays its parochialism by almost invariably choosing the American president-elect for the honor every fourth or eighth year. But although the selection of Mr. Obama was predictable, Time's choice for a cover is instructive. The Che Guevara-esque, eyes-to-the-far-distance portrait by "street artist" Shepard Fairey is a throwback to the magazine's earliest days, when hero worship was considered an honest form of journalism.
But it was a bit more cautious then:
Still, there's a difference. Charles Lindbergh was 1927's Man of the Year only after he had flown across the Atlantic. The man preceded the myth (even if the myth did not survive the man). Abraham Lincoln became a patron saint to all kinds of political movements and social causes not necessarily his own, but only after April 15, 1865. The cult of George Washington was well advanced by the time of his death in 1799. But it was a peculiar republican cult that grew in proportion to its object's disdain for it.
No caution with Obama:
With Mr. Obama, by contrast, the myth precedes the man. Time's profile waxes long about the president-elect's "simple competence" -- the central evidence for which was the skill with which he and his advisers ran their campaign and the transition process. But if getting oneself elected president can predict executive competence, what do Time's editors now make of their choice of Mr. Carter in 1976, or of George W. Bush in 2004?
Maybe we should just build the monument now. But who will it honor?
There's a case to be made that even if Mr. Obama turns out to be a mediocre or bad president, the very symbolism of his election is a historic achievement unto itself, a reflected monument to America, its promise, and every prejudice it has overcome. In this account, Mr. Obama is merely the guy who walked through weighty doors opened by others.
But that wouldn't be a monument for Mr. Obama. That monument will be to a presidency we already know will be great, because its greatness rests fundamentally on how it makes us feel about ourselves -- intelligent, broad-minded, good-hearted -- and bears only an abstract relation to whatever objective results it might achieve. It is a monument to a cult of personality in the making, a personality that will bear the name of Barack Obama but whose central character is -- who else? -- you. Imagine an interior space, with lots of mirrors, and you've got the basic design.
Well said. Give Mr. Obama a chance, but no greater chance than any other president. The stakes are too high.
December 23, 2008. Permalink
MORE CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN - AT 6:33 A.M. ET: We are only hours away from one of the great political events of modern times - the release by the Obama camp of its own internal investigation, tough as nail polish, of contacts with the corrupt governor of Illinois. The report will be released in Chicago, while the president-elect is in Hawaii on a vacation. Now, it's perfectly fine for Mr. Obama to take some time off. He probably needs it. But the appearances here are less than worthy. No one expects the report to reveal anything embarrassing. And The One will not be present to answer questions. Ah, the aroma of reform.
We understand that department stores will be closed, and no Christmas shopping will be permitted, so that citizens can concentrate their full attention on the report. Just kidding.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2008
BIT OF A PROBLEM FOR CAROLINE - AT 10:32 P.M. ET: From The New York Times:
...Ms. Kennedy, who has asked Gov. David A. Paterson to appoint her to succeed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — and who helped oversee the vetting process for Mr. Obama’s possible running mates — is declining to provide a variety of basic data, including companies she has a stake in and whether she has ever been charged with a crime...
...Through a spokesman, she said she would not disclose that kind of information unless and until she becomes a senator. “If Governor Paterson were to choose Caroline, she would, of course, comply with all disclosure requirements,” said the spokesman, Stefan Friedman.
COMMENT: Once she becomes a senator, it's too late. The whole idea of disclosure is to allow the governor, and the citizenry, to evaluate her. The arrogance here is breathtaking.
REDEMPTION - AT 8:10 P.M. ET: We bash the press regularly here, and for good reason, but we're happy to acknowledge progress and reform. Author Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post reporter, asserts that the Post is making progress in correcting the leftist bias on its news pages. It's encouraging to read this:
...since Katharine Weymouth, a granddaughter of former Post Chairman Katharine Graham, became publisher a year ago, the paper has steadily become more fair. A graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School, she practiced law at Williams & Connolly in Washington prior to coming to the Post. After Weymouth named former Wall Street Journal Editor Marcus Brauchli executive editor last September, the switch to more balanced coverage became even more noticeable.
No longer do I pick up the paper to find slanted stories that suppress or ignore the other side or that mischaracterize issues to further a liberal agenda. Instead, honesty has been restored to the coverage. It has become more probing and interesting as well.
I go through the online edition each day, and I must say that the progress there has been limited. But Kessler is a good source, and I take his judgment about the printed paper seriously. The Post has, by the admission of its own ombudsman, lost readers over the bias question, and, if its leaders are addressing it seriously, more power to them. For years the Post's editorial page has been superior to that of The New York Times. If the news section shakes its problems, the Post can become the most important paper in the country.
MORE ADVENTURES IN FACT CHECKING - AT 7:35 P.M. ET: From AFP: The New York Times admitted Monday it was duped into publishing a fake letter claiming to come from Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe that criticized Caroline Kennedy's senate bid as "appalling" and "not very democratic."
"What title has Ms. Kennedy to pretend to Hillary Clinton's seat?" read the letter, printed in Monday's editions of the leading US metropolitan daily.
"We French can only see a dynastic move of the vanishing Kennedy clan in the very country of the Bill of Rights. It is both surprising and appalling ... Can we speak of American decline?" read the letter.
Later Monday, the newspaper published an editor's note on its website stating "this letter was a fake. It should not have been published."
COMMENT: Fake phone calls and letters from people claiming to be high public officials are commonplace, and even experienced hands fall for them. But checking the source of a letter to the editor is routine stuff. This flap is another symbol of The Times's decline.
I PLEAD NEGLIGENCE - AT 7:18 P.M. ET: I read something fascinating today while researching UA, but, for some reason, failed to note the source, and it isn't showing up in a Google search. So, I stress that this isn't original with me, and I apologize to the author. However, whoever it was noted that David Paterson, the governor of New York, got to where he got because his father, Basil Paterson, is an influential New York City politician. Governor David Paterson will appoint the person to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. The leading candidate is Caroline Kennedy. So, the son of Basil Paterson will fill the Senate seat held by the wife of Bill Clinton, and will probably select Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy.
Is this a great state or what? Any New Yorker from the right family can get to be senator, governor, you name it. Look, at least it isn't Illinois, where they charge for these things.
WARMING, OR HOT AIR?
Posted at 10:09 a.m. ET
Frank Tipler, the distinguished mathematical physicist at Tulane University, is an Urgent Agenda reader. We recently asked him for his view of the global-warming controversy, and he was kind enough to send us this thoughtful reply. We reprint it in full. Recommended reading:
As regards global warming, my view is essentially the same as yours: Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science.
A few comments on my own particular view of global warming:
(1) I am particularly annoyed by the claims that the "the debate is over," because this was exactly the claim originally made against the Copernican theory of the Solar System. Copernicus' opponents said the idea that the Earth was the third planet from the Sun was advanced by Aristrachus in 300 B.C. (true), and had been definitely refuted by 100 A.D. The debate is over! Sorry, it wasn't: the Earth IS the third planet.
(2) It is obvious that anthropogenic global warming is not science at all, because a scientific theory makes non-obvious predictions which are then compared with observations that the average person can check for himself. As we both know from our own observations, AGW theory has spectacularly failed to do this. The theory has predicted steadily increasing global temperatures, and this has been refuted by experience. NOW the global warmers claim that the Earth will enter a cooling period. In other words, whether the ice caps melt, or expand --- whatever happens --- the AGW theorists claim it confirms their theory. A perfect example of a pseudo-science like astrology.
(3) In contrast, the alternative theory, that the increase and decrease of the Earth's average temperature in the near term follows the sunspot number, agrees (roughly) with observation. And the observations were predicted before they occurred. This is good science.
(4) I emphasized in point (2) that the average person has to be able to check the observations. I emphasize this because I no longer trust "scientists" to report observations correctly. I think the data is adjusted to confirm, as far as possible, AGW. We've seen many recent cases where the data was cooked in climate studies. In one case, Hanson and company claimed that October 2008 was the warmest October on record. Watts looked at the data, and discovered that Hanson and company had used September's temperatures for Russia rather than October's. I'm not surprised to learn that September is hotter than October in the Northern hemisphere.
It snowed here in New Orleans last week and it was the second heaviest snowfall I've seen in the 25 years I've lived in New Orleans. According to the local newspaper, it was the earliest snow had fallen in New Orleans since records were kept, beginning in 1850. I myself have looked at the relative predictive power of Copernicus's theory and the then rival Ptolemaic theory. Copernicus was on the average twice as accurate, and the average person of the time could tell. Similarly, anybody today can check the number of sunspots. Or rather the lack of them. When I first starting teaching astronomy at Tulane in the early 1980's, I would show sunspots to my students by pointing a small $25 reflecting telescope at the Sun, and focusing the Sun's image on the wall of the classroom. Sunspots were obviously in the image on the wall. I can't do this experiment today, because there are no sunspots.
(5) Another shocking thing about the AGW theory is that it is generating a loss of true scientific knowledge. The great astronomer William Herschel, the discoverer of the planet Uranus, observed in the early 1800's that warm weather was correlated with sunspot number. Herschel noticed that warmer weather meant better crops, and thus fewer sunspots meant higher grain prices. The AGW people are trying to do a disappearing act on these observations. Some are trying to deny the existence of the Maunder Minimum.
(6) AGW supporters are also bringing back the Inquisition, where the power of the state is used to silence one's scientific opponents. The case of Bjorn Lomborg is illustrative. Lomborg is a tenured professor of mathematics in Denmark. Shortly after his book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," was published by Cambridge University Press, Lomborg was charged and convicted (later reversed) of scientific fraud for being critical of the "consensus" view on AGW and other environmental questions. Had the conviction been upheld, Lomborg would have been fired. Stillman Drake, the world's leading Galileo scholar, demonstrates in his book "Galileo: A Very Short Introduction" (Oxford University Press, 2001) that it was not theologians, but rather his fellow physicists (then called "natural philosophers"), who manipulated the Inquisition into trying and convicting Galileo. The "out-of-the-mainsteam" Galileo had the gall to prove the consensus view, the Aristotlean theory, wrong by devising simple experiments that anyone could do. Galileo's fellow scientists first tried to refute him by argument from authority. They failed. Then these "scientists" tried calling Galileo names, but this made no impression on the average person, who could see with his own eyes that Galileo was right. Finally, Galileo's fellow "scientists" called in the Inquisition to silence him.
I find it very disturbing that part of the Danish Inquisition's case against Lomborg was written by John Holdren, Obama's new science advisor. Holdren has recently written that people like Lomborg are "dangerous." I think it is people like Holdren who are dangerous, because they are willing to use state power to silence their scientific opponents.
(7) I agree with Dick Lindzen that the AGW nonsense is generated by government funding of science. If a guy agrees with AGW, then he can get a government contract. If he is a skeptic, then no contract. There is a professor at Tulane, with a Ph.D in paleoclimatology, who is as skeptical as I am about AGW, but he'd never be considered for tenure at Tulane because of his professional opinion. No government contracts, no tenure.
(8) This is why I am astounded that people who should know better, like Newt Gingrich, advocate increased government funding for scientific research. We had better science, and a more rapid advance of science, in the early part of the 20th century when there was no centralized government funding for science. Einstein discovered relativity on his own time, while he was employed as a patent clerk. Where are the Einsteins of today? They would never be able to get a university job --- Einstein's idea that time duration depended on the observer was very much opposed to the "consensus" view of the time. Einstein's idea that light was composed of particles (now called "photons") was also considered crazy by all physicists when he first published the idea. At least then he could publish the idea. Now a refereed journal would never even consider a paper written by a patent clerk, and all 1905 physics referees would agree that relativity and quantum mechanics were nonsense, definitely against the overwhelming consensus view. So journals would reject Einstein's papers if he were to write them today.
Science is an economic good like everything else, and it is very bad for production of high quality goods for the government to control the means of production. Why can't Newt Gingrich understand this? Milton Friedman understood it, and advocated cutting off government funding for science.
We should add that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his famous farewell address as president - the "industrial-military complex" speech - also warned of the intersection between science and government. This is what he said:
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
We thank Professor Tipler for his contribution.
December 22, 2008. Permalink
WATCHING A THREAT
Posted at 9:11 a.m. ET
Terrorism, and a possible attack on American soil, will be one of the major challenges confronting the new president. The Wall Street Journal reports on concerns that some Somali immigrants may be involved in terror-related activities.
WASHINGTON -- Federal agents are investigating whether young men from Somali immigrant enclaves in the U.S. are traveling back to their parents' homeland to fight on the side of Islamist terror groups.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is following the trail of more than a dozen young men missing from Somali communities in several U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, Boston and Columbus, Ohio, according to people familiar with the probe. Counterterrorism officials in Europe and Australia also are investigating similar reports in their countries.
This is not racial profiling. It is an investigation of missing men. Calm down, ACLU.
Somali community leaders say the families are assisting authorities to find out how the young men, some of them immigrants and others American-born, were recruited. "Two of the mothers received phone calls from kids saying that they were in Somalia, in Mogadishu city, saying that they cannot talk and that they will see them in heaven," says Omar Jamal, executive director of Minneapolis's Somali Justice Advocacy Center.
Certainly an optimistic point of view.
The reports have raised concern among counterterrorism officials about immigrant youths being recruited by radical groups...
...E.K. Wilson, an FBI special agent in the bureau's Minneapolis office, said he couldn't confirm the existence of an investigation, but he said the FBI is aware that "a number of young Somali men from throughout the United States have left, potentially to fight with terrorist groups.
U.S. counterterrorism officials have been on guard for homegrown recruitment by radical groups. Intelligence analysts from the New York Police Department, in a study of radicalization in Western Muslim communities, warned that "jihadist ideology" is "proliferating in Western democracies at a logarithmic rate."
In a 2002 case against the so-called Lackawanna Six, federal authorities won convictions against six Americans of Yemeni descent on charges of providing support to al Qaeda. Peter Ahearn, former chief of the FBI's Buffalo, N.Y., field office and leader of the Lackawanna investigation, says investigators "have to assume the possibility" that young men who travel to Somalia to fight could become radicalized and turn against the U.S.
One of the great dangers is that terror-trained operatives can return to the U.S. and hide within their communities.
We've noticed at Urgent Agenda that the foreign press, especially the British press, is now more active in reporting terrorist threats than is our own. This may simply reflect the fact that we haven't had an attack since 2001, but we must resist the tendency to look away or pretend the threat is past.
December 22, 2008. Permalink
A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE - AT 7:59 A.M. ET: From AP: Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits in the calendar year 2007, an Associated Press analysis reveals...
...The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for 53 of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.
COMMENT: Read the story. This is no longer the market system at work. This is legalized thievery. We who believe in the free enterprise system can no more accept this than we can accept excessive labor contracts. You can't say a laboring man isn't worth thirty dollars an hour, then turn around and ignore the bank executive who's paid 50-million a year in order to "motivate" him. Not right. Not consistent with true conservative values. The president of the United States is paid $400,00 a year, and there's no shortage of motivation or applicants.
BAILOUT? WHAT BAILOUT?
Posted at 7:55 p.m. ET
Look, it's only the taxpayers' money. It's not as if it's real money. Fox News reports that some of the recipients of federal bailouts are having difficulty finding out where the cash is going. You know, it's such a burden:
WASHINGTON — It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going?
But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they either can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.
"We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it,"' said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to."
We're declining to? Is that what the man said? The arrogance here is beyond belief. Well, maybe it's not. Maybe this is the kind of attitude that got us into trouble in the first place.
Some banks said they simply didn't know where the money was going.
"We manage our capital in its aggregate," said Regions Financial Corp. spokesman Tim Deighton, who said the Birmingham, Alabama-based company is not tracking how it is spending the $3.5 billion it received as part of the financial bailout.
Lawmakers summoned bank executives to Capitol Hill last month and implored them to lend the money — not to hoard it or spend it on corporate bonuses, junkets or to buy other banks. But there is no process in place to make sure that's happening and there are no consequences for banks who don't comply.
Doesn't this give you confidence in your government?
"It is entirely appropriate for the American people to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent in private industry," said Elizabeth Warren, the top congressional watchdog overseeing the financial bailout.
But, at least for now, there's no way for taxpayers to find that out.
The American people may actually wake up one day and get angry. Frankly, it would be about time. There's a stoicism out there that's infuriating.
Lawmakers say they want to tighten restrictions on the remaining, yet-to-be-released $350 billion block of bailout money before any more cash is handed out. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the department is trying to step up its monitoring of bank spending.
"What we've been doing here is moving, I think, with lightning speed to put necessary programs in place, to develop them, implement them, and then we need to monitor them while we're doing this," Paulson said at a recent forum in New York. "So we're building this organization as we're going."
That still doesn't tell us how the money is being spent. A mechanism for determining that should have been in place from day one.
But Warren said she's surprised she even has to ask.
"If the appropriate restrictions were put on the money to begin with, if the appropriate transparency was in place, then we wouldn't be in a position where you're trying to call every recipient and get the basic information that should already be in public documents," she said.
And she is correct. We may learn that a lot of the money was wasted, or that some of it went to failing executives who wanted one last fling. This could get very bitter. It's a story to watch, at the same time that we watch what GM and Chrysler do with their federal loan.
December 22, 2008. Permalink
SEAT FOR SALE IN ILLINOIS - AT 7:12 A.M. ET: From The Los Angeles Times: A mysterious "Individual D" in the ongoing Illinois political scandal to auction off President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat has now been identified as Raghuveer Nayak, a millionaire Chicago area Indian businessman whose voice turned up on FBI wiretaps and bugs of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
COMMENT: There are reports that he ran a fundraiser to raise money to buy the Senate seat for Jesse Jackson Jr. Only allegations at this state.