Cider Press Hill

Throw 'em in dungeons

Wednesday, 3:12 pm

Over the past few days, I’ve been watching the goings-on in Washington and on Wall Street—just like everyone else. And like most everyone else, I’m not quite sure what’s truth and what’s sheer hyperbole, either. Aside from the given that we are in big trouble. This government and Wall Street have ‘invested’ all of us into near penury and, they sort of threaten, we’re going to have a Great Depression II if we don’t do something right this very minute. I gather. Of course, the question is—just how big is the actual trouble? And what does that trouble mean to everyone (like you and me) if drastic action isn’t taken Right Now. Has anyone from the gov’t taken the time to explain this to us in detail? They want great gobs of our money, our children’s money, and their children’s money to do the deed, but I haven’t heard any clear and detailed explanations. If so, I’ve missed it and I’ve been paying close attention.

I’ve heard generalized scary memes and platitudes being thrown around. But I haven’t heard anything specific. And that leads me to think that several someones are trying to fleece us some more in order to save their own considerable wealth. I don’t think my meager wealth or yours is anywhere on their radar. I just get that feeling, ya know. I’d kind of like to know whether to expect a Great Depression II even if we bail out all these financial mercenaries. I’d put the odds at better than 50%. What kind of guarantees does Paulson’s revolving $700 billion line of credit offer us?

Today I hear that Warren Buffett has enthusiastically endorsed the largest bailout in humanity’s history. Because, he says, it’s absolutely necessary. Warren Buffett is an influential person and people do listen to him. Now if there’s anyone who understands money, it would most likely be Warren Buffett since he has almost uncountable amounts to it. But the thing is, Warren Buffett just bought a $5 billion stake in Goldman Sachs and he sort of has a vested interest in a bailout. He is quoted as saying, “If I didn’t think the government was going to act, I wouldn’t have done anything.” So, we see that maybe Warren has his best interests in mind first and foremost. I have to discount his concern and enthusiastic endorsement several notches on account of that. Warren is more interested in preserving his money, not mine.

It all seems to suddenly center around Goldman Sachs, doesn’t it? I’ve seen their name in the media more than just about any other in the past couple of days. That makes me suspicious. I do know that our Treasury Secretary was recently their CEO who raked in millions and millions of dollars during the height of the housing and housing investment boom. He made enough money in one year to finance my entire town’s school budget for the next 30 years. All the while the good times were rolling, did we ever hear him get up on his soap box to demand more regulation and oversight? Or alert the public to the unsound investment practices going on right under his nose? I think not. I’m assuming that Paulson isn’t a stupid man and, therefore, I’m pretty sure he knew precisely what was going on and what the probable outcome might be. Now that all the little greenbacks have galloped out of the stable, now he wants to close the barn door and post sentries? He wants regulation. We need regulation and oversight, he said in front of Congress yesterday. Yeah, and I have a bridge....

So now we’ve had the five big investment houses on Wall Street go under—plus assorted banks, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the largest insurance company in the world (AIG). To the tune of multiple trillions of dollars, when it’s all tallied up. Because they were stupid and venal and greedy. They ignored every shred of common sense and violated the public trust in so many ways, I’m not sure we can even count them. I’m no economist, but even back in 2005, I was getting nervous thinking the whole thing was going to collapse and thinking perhaps I ought to consider selling my house while it still had value. You think the titans of finance didn’t know the same damned thing?

So, really. I want to know who is going to benefit from this $700 billion revolving line of credit that Paulson wants. Is it all of us or mainly the crooks on Wall Street? I think that since we plebeian masses are expected to foot this bill and suffer the consequences of Wall Street’s excesses in the coming months and years, we have a right to know exactly where the trouble lies in dollars and cents AND names. Do we really need to bail out the rich CEOs who got us into this mess? Will the world end if there is no more Goldman Sachs? We evidently will survive without Lehman Brothers (I’m still curious why they were the sacrificial lambs). Is there a better way for the money to be spent? I’m going to guess that yes, there is a better way. I want answers—crystal clear ones. And I’m not getting them. And, frankly, I don’t expect to.

I think that looting the treasury on this grandiose scale requires something a little more draconian than blank check bailouts and executive compensation, don’t you? I’m all for seeing heads on platters and the venal SOBs who got us into this mess reduced to penury. And jail time. I’d like it painful enough for them to remember it for the couple of generations. I’m vindictive like that and I’ll bet there are a lot of other people who feel exactly the same way. And if they don’t now, they will in the not too distant future, I have a feeling.

Beyond the larceny, this has the feeling of Shock Doctrine (Disaster Capitalism) to it, and I don’t trust that these people have our best interests in mind At All. The longer Congress thinks about it, the better for us. I hope they think about it a good long time. What are the chances? They have certainly heard from a lot of us, me included.

And if all of the above isn’t enough to worry ya, the IMF has informed Bernanke that they will be descending in the next couple of months to do a Financial Sector Analysis—a detailed examination of the entire US financial system. A rather embarrassing and alarming situation to be put in for the US who is, naturally, the biggest and best and most powerful. There’s gotta be some sly pay back in that decision somewhere. Nevertheless, when the IMF gets involved you might want to consider stuffing your mattress and hiding gold and silver coins under your floor boards.

Posted by Kate on 09/2408 at 03:12 PM

I don’t think the comment tool allows embedding of YouTube videos, so I’ll just link to a floor speech on this subject by my Congressman on Monday.
(I embedded it for you, hope it shows for everyone else. I really like your Congressman! - Kate)

FWIW, my captcha describes Dubya et al. ... gorgons.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that Paulson will probably be right back at Goldman Sachs soon after the Dubya malAdministration scuttles out of the White House.  If you believe that, I also have a bridge—Brooklyn or Nowhere, your choice—you might be interested in acquiring.

Posted by N in Seattle on 09/24  at  05:21 PM

Hmmm, how come that “captcha” sentence ended up above the bridge paragraph?  I’m certain it was at the bottom of the comment when I wrote it.

Posted by N in Seattle on 09/24  at  05:23 PM

The physical laws governing the universe currently state that up is down and black is white, sooo....dunno. ;)

Yes, I’m sure there will be a nice warm seat waiting for King Henry when he returns to Goldman. And a nice set of perks and compensation package. The man deserves MILLIONS for what he’s done to save Goldman. To hell with the rest of us peons.

Posted by Kate on 09/24  at  05:33 PM

Thanks for the embedding.

In a Daily Kos comment today, I opined that Fannie, Freddie, AIG, Lehman, and all are now owned by the United States.  And that this fact makes their employees in essence Federal employees, who should be paid accordingly.

I think it would be justifiable to consider the CEOs, CFOs, et al. as “executives” rather than GS-classified employees.  So they could be paid more than the $149,000 that a GS-15/Step 10 can earn in New York.  The highest Federal salary I could find—and IMHO it’s plenty for these crooks—is $191,300, though it’s possible that the locality adjustment for NYC would take it up to $242K or so.

Posted by N in Seattle on 09/24  at  06:10 PM

I agree. Since they have been so free and easy with our money already—or, actually, with money that didn’t even exist yet—they should learn how to manage their own money first. I should think they’d still be able to live comfortably on even $242K, though they might have to budget a bit and sell off some of their toys on e-bay or something. Though, my preference is to ban them from being employed anywhere near money for the next five years, mandate that they attend gamblers anonymous, and make them stand in the unemployment line.

Posted by Kate on 09/24  at  06:19 PM

Still more to get your blood boiling.  From Forbes:

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 Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number."

In words of one syllable, WTF???

[hat-tip to SusanG at DailyKos]

Posted by N in Seattle on 09/24  at  06:27 PM

Well. That’s a stunning admission.

So...does this lend credence to the idea that this is the biggest public heist in history? What’s their end game, anyway?

If I were to guess: 1)bankrupt the Fed. so that they’d *have* to 2)privatize social security. 3)eliminate other “entitlement” programs. 4) drastically cut public education funds. 5) privatize public utilities. 6) what else?

There is an endgame goal to all of this. That section 8 of the original plan was a clear tip off.

Amended to add—This has now become a global crisis, hasn’t it? Runs on Asian banks yesterday, Britain’s economy going down the crapper faster than ours....etc. We’re all toast. My outlook on the future is exceedingly bleak and it’s very frightening. I want revenge and long prison sentences. Quite simply. Won’t fix anything, but I still want it.

Posted by Kate on 09/24  at  06:57 PM

Welcome back!  I was beginning to think the paint fumes had done you in!!  And the day gets curiouser and curiouser.  I cannot even keep up anymore.  Cancel the debate, reschedule the debate, oh wait, we could reschedule for the night of the VP debate and CANCEL that there is a clever idea, wonder who thought that one up?  Wonder not, I think we know who and why.....and of course all because McCain felt his presence was going to be the decider in the incredible debacle going on in the financial world.  But then Bush--in what might be the one and only time I have ever liked anything he did--invited Obama to the White House along with McCain to discuss everything.  Sort of took the wind out of McCain’s sail, eh?  And on it goes, like I said, I just can’t keep up.  Today/tonight you blink and the whole thing changes.  Crazy times, scary times and sometimes actually amazing times.......

Posted by cyn on 09/24  at  09:20 PM

Cyn, looks as if McCain bailed on David Letterman last night, too. At the last minute. Dave was not a happy man about it. But, I guess Keith Olbermann filled in, so it was probably better. I saw a You Tube Letterman clip somewhere this morning and it was rather brutal. I don’t remember where I saw it or I’d post it.

Did you see the Prez’s speech last night? I didn’t, but I read a couple of live blogging thingies. I’m sure it was better that way. Only took him 7 years to thoroughly trash the US. His record is unbroken. Molly Ivins must be wagging her finger, saying “I told you so”, wherever she is. We’re so screwed I can’t even begin to imagine it. We’ll find out soon though, I’m sure.

N, I read someplace last night that the Fed’s balance sheet is down about $600 billion. There’s not much in the coffers at the moment. We’re apparently close to insolovency and they’d rather not fire up the printing presses if there’s any other way out. That could be part of where that nice big $700 billion figure came from. Dunno. Will we ever know?

Posted by Kate on 09/25  at  12:17 PM

apparently last night Letterman continued to go off on him.  For sure the other night was hilarious and while I have not watched last night’s yet (thank goodness for Tivo) I expect more of the same.  I have become an MSNBC addict, I cannot stay away from it.  And the more you listen and watch, the more you learn and the more you pick up on the out and out lies and the shadiness of certain campaigns.  I am so po’d lately I can hardly speak straight - I want women to stand up and speak out..Every single woman who has a brain in her head - and most of us do, ought to be outraged at what is being handed to us as a potential VP.  Have you heard any of her three interviews.  It is disgusting Kate, out and out disgusting.  McCain and his campaign have given pandering an entirely new definition.  And as for this bailout, I cannot even begin to talk about that.  In my entire life, I do not remember being so sickened and so angry over what is going on.  Send me to DC, I will straighten those ****’s out.  One way or the other.  About time someone starts slapping a few people upside the begin with....

Naomi Klein was on Bill Mahar(sp) last Friday, did you catch it?

See, I cannot even piece together cohesive thoughts, my head is all over the place.  Just saw an interview with turncoat Lieberman.  AHHHHHHHHHHH

Posted by cyn on 09/26  at  02:38 PM

I take it as a good sign that a friend of mine, who was all set to vote for McCain *because* of Palin, has decided that McCain has lost his mind and Palin is an imbecile (after her last couple of interviews). No vote for that pair. I don’t think that necessarily translates to a vote for Obama, but at least it’s one less for McCain/Palin. I suspect there are many people who have reached the same conclusion after initially feeling all tingly about Palin’s selection.

The world is getting scarier by the minute. It’s hard to keep up. I see that my mortgage company was seized by the Fed last night and bits and pieces of it are being distributed. No idea where my mortgage is right now, but I’m sure someone will scoop the payment out of my account on Wednesday. I’m wondering if this weekend would be too soon to start shopping for a nice refrigerator box to put down under one of our crumbling bridges somewhere around here.....

Posted by Kate on 09/26  at  03:59 PM

I read that about the $700B pulled out of the air and it instantly reminded me of Wolfowitz, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was.

The presence of WMD as the reason for invading Iraq.

Paul Wolfowitz said it was the one thing we could agree upon, that was the one thing we could all agree upon was that weapons of mass destruction; that was a case that was made.

Posted by Linkmeister on 09/27  at  02:21 AM

Linkmeister--are you ever coming back?? Checked last night and you were still MIA.  KAte, check your emails, sent you something about Planned Parenthood Donations you will definitely get a chuckle out of.

Anyone watch the debate? No bloodletting although the cranky old man tried, but I feel honestly Obama held his own and then some.  It may have served as notice to the undecided that he will do us no harm!!

Posted by cyn on 09/27  at  12:37 PM

cyn, you can’t reach my site?

I changed hosts two weeks ago, and most people seem to have no trouble at this point.

Posted by Linkmeister on 09/27  at  01:33 PM

I didn’t have any trouble reaching Linkmeister’s site yesterday. His RSS feed comes through just fine for me, too. You’re on Comcast, too, aren’t you Cyn? How odd.

Linkmeister, you hate to think that our government is so—I can’t think of an appropriate word so fill in the blank here—that they just manufacture stuff out of thin air. You especially hate to think they’d do that when the situation is so serious. It’s good to be reminded that indeed they do manufacture stuff out of thin air if it advances their argument. I suppose a $200 billion package wouldn’t sound dire enough and perhaps a $1.2 trillion one would send everyone into a worse panic. This should be a fascinating period for historians to pick apart if there are any official records that survive shredding.

Cyn, no debate watching here. I read some of the reactions from various people. Some think McCain won and some think Obama won. McCain seemed to win points simply for not losing his temper. What a sad pass we’ve reached.

Posted by Kate on 09/27  at  02:13 PM

A friend in Minnesota is also having trouble reaching my site; she’s also on Comcast.  I wonder what’s going on.  Most ISPs update their caches of domain addresses at least once every two or three days, so Comcast should have picked up the new URL by now.  And if Kate’s using them and it’s working, then I don’t know what might explain it.  Regional differences within the company?

Posted by Linkmeister on 09/27  at  03:59 PM

I wonder if clearing her browser’s cache would help? I’m not sure of the logic behind that suggestion, but it seems to solve a multitude of problems.  question

Posted by Kate on 09/27  at  04:09 PM

That’s the standard #1 option.  She did get there by clicking on my name in my last comment, so who knows?

Posted by Linkmeister on 09/27  at  08:02 PM

I just tried again using kate’s link and got the old one.  Only get the new one clicking on your name.  Am using Comcast.  I shoulld try it on Safari as I have it on my computer as well......later, maybe.

Just got in, we went to a Home Show tonight (time to do the kitchen and a few other little things--husband has no clue about the “few other things” I have in mind). Anyway, was proudly wearing my Obama pin on my jacket and got a thumbs up from most everyone, especially the women.  Now most of the businesses were from MA, but a few from NH, but still it was nice to see.  Went out to dinner after and sat near a couple I wanted to pop--I gathered from their rather LOUD discussion (brought on perhaps by my button?) they will ultimately vote for Obama but still.........ignorance IS bliss, I guess cause they had not a clue.  I was sputtering.  But a couple of my favorite liquid libations mellowed me out.............;)

Posted by cyn on 09/27  at  09:54 PM

OMG!!!! monkey dance  monkey dance  monkey dance  wave
I don’t ever want to go without internet for that long again! Dear gawd, I think I was starting to really get bitchy too lol. Hey what the heck are you doing today girl? I really wanted to do something, anything tomorrow. I hope you are not sick again!! Please don’t be sick. And call me for PETES SAKE, will ya?
ahhhhhhhhh this feels good. I think no one is getting fed for a week LOL. I need to catch up.

Posted by justme on 10/03  at  04:58 PM