Monthly Archives: March 2009
An email from a squirrelly friend:
Q. How do you know you’re living under a Socialist government?
A. When your President is able to fire the CEO of an automobile company.
I had the same thought. What are you doing?
There is something absolutely surreal about the image of the President of the United States saying that it is okay to buy a GM car because the car warranty is backed by the government. So our federal government is now in the auto warranty business? How about backing our national security and just let the auto companies fend for themselves.
Can I post that on my blog?
Yes. Just say it’s from your squirrelly friend.
What are you doing?
I’m eating an oatmeal raisin cookie from LaMadeleine right now! But it’s not as good as I bet that Karamel Sutra is.
You don’t want my cookies?
The Karamel Sutra is okay. It’s a bit hard. I’m waiting for it to soften up. You’ll never hear me say those words again.
If you don’t leave it alone, it will never soften.
March 31, 2003, Enron’s lease on the towers at 1400 Smith Street expired. The company, which by this time was basically Enron Creditors Recovery Corp though it had not officially changed its name, moved from the beautiful towers to a dull brown office building called Four Houston Center which houses many law firms. The interior of the new building is pleasant enough, with cream marble floors and gilt elevators. But it’s not sexy. It’s just an office building.
Washington Times exposes a massive scandal (part two) involving Senator Dodd and AIG
As Democrats prepared to take control of Congress after the 2006 elections, a top boss at the insurance giant American International Group Inc. told colleagues that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd was seeking re-election donations and he implored company executives and their spouses to give.
Getty Images Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, has lost some political standing heading into re-election because of his ties to American International Group Inc.
The message in the Nov. 17, 2006, e-mail from Joseph Cassano, AIG Financial Products chief executive, was unmistakable: Mr. Dodd was “next in line” to be chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees the insurance industry, and he would “have the opportunity to set the committee’s agenda on issues critical to the financial services industry.
“Given his seniority in the Senate, he will also play a key role in the Democratic Majority’s leadership,” Mr. Cassano wrote in the message, obtained by The Washington Times.
How nice that even suggests the spouses donate.
The article continues:
Mr. Dodd’s campaign quickly hit pay dirt, collecting more than $160,000 from employees and their spouses at the AIG Financial Products division (AIG-FP) in Wilton, Conn., in the days before he took over as the committee chairman in January 2007. Months later, the senator transferred the donations to jump-start his 2008 presidential bid, which later failed.
Now, two years later, Mr. Dodd has emerged as a central figure in the government’s decision to let executives at the now-failing AIG collect more than $218 million in bonuses, according to the Connecticut attorney general – even as the company was receiving billions of dollars in assistance from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He acknowledged that he slipped a provision into legislation in February that authorized the bonuses, but said the Treasury Department asked him to do it.
The whole article is a necessary read. Read and marvel at the hypocrisy of the Democrat party.
I’m going on vacation for a few days so my blog won’t be updated. Please don’t worry.
Have a great April.
Death, erotic love, the midnight mind: clothes, rooms, doors. Teapots, copper cookers, the smell of Windex and Pledge, maps in the glove compartment of the car. The long line at the grocery store, rolling the cart over curbs of hard white snow to the car. Missed phone calls. Traffic. No makeup. The backyard white and bleak. The constant static of the ocean: the subtext of every conversation circling back to this life in Connecticut, meaning: not that life in New York. Bread. Maplewood burning in the fireplace. The place settings gleam in the recessed lighting. In laws. Dog tracks in the snow. Little hands, needy hands, hands of the clock. Warm socked feet under enormous puff comforter. Computers, projects, entrepreneurship, making our own foundation. Checking account. Conical time: it gets wider and better lit as it gets closer. Breakfast at the table, the baby’s hands like little starfish. Winter patterns, winter colors. Back kitchen windows black at six. Male patrols, setting alarms and doublechecking locks right before bed. Falling asleep with his body curled around mine like a small sea creature. Final act of love.
So. Imagine you’re an average guy who likes to get whipped like a bitch and have your genitals mutilated. After an evening in the – I quote – “beautifully decorated and fully equipped private dungeon” – you arrive home refreshed (I suppose?) and discover that your trusty dominatrix isn’t quite finished fucking you.
Newsday reports that your dominatrix, her husband, and several lawyers have used your identity to be a straw buyer in a $50-million mortgage fraud.
I like the idea of a dominatrix conspiring with lawyers to commit fraud. It creates some very Tarantino-worthy images.
But if you’re the average guy? That’s a real kick in the nuts.
The Chron has an article about Jeff Skilling’s re-sentencing date (July 30). The comments, though, are not to be believed. The torch and pitchfork crowd have descended into madness, some even blatantly demanding Jeff’s head:
One guy says:
Hang this Turd. I lost all of my money. I worked for Enron Energy Services.
Hang them all
Hook’EM Horns and Kill Skilling
Despite the magnificent grammar and use of punctuation, this guy worked at EES? But that’s beside the point. These kinds of comments are not rare on the Chron. Why are they still up? Doesn’t the Chron have some sort of policy about, you know, encouraging the death of a man?
I love seeing these wealthy snots get their comeuppance. Is it too late to hang him?
This is repulsive.
Unfortunately, it’s not localized to Jeff Skilling. AIG and Merrill Lynch executives are also in the public bullseye.
The savages are not the executives. The savages are the people who wish for the death of others.
If this doesn’t set you right about AIG, I don’t know what – if anything – will. It is a resignation letter from Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of AIG:
DEAR Mr. Liddy,
It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:
I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.
After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.
I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.
You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.
I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.
The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.
I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.
But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.
My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.
That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”
That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.
At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.
I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.
You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.
As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.
Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.
The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.
So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.
That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.
On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.
This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.
Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”
Holy pogosticks. If there are still men like this out there, there is hope for our nation and our freedom. Mr. DeSantis is a real-life John Galt. Perhaps because of the difficult financial times and the narrowing of our culture as Socialism casts its shadow over us, I seem to be hearing more of these stories of great businessmen who are carry with them the values of independence, capitalism, self-reliance, and achievement. These are the flickers of greatness – these stories, these men – are the reason America will endure.
The John Galts of our society should be admired (I certainly admire them). They should be given every freedom to accomplish their dreams. Without them, the rest of society is doomed … and they don’t even realize it. Yet.
Oh, I love this:
A Brooklyn Law School student from Dix Hills got a court order Wednesday temporarily freezing the assets of Bernard Madoff’s younger brother, Peter, in connection with a nearly $500,000 inheritance allegedly lost in the massive Wall Street Ponzi scheme, according to court records.
In papers filed in Nassau County State Supreme Court, Andrew Ross Samuels, 22, alleged that a trust set up by his late grandfather, Martin Joel Jr., in which Peter Madoff was also a trustee, was wiped out in the Ponzi scheme carried out by Bernard Madoff.
The Hill smacks down the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for keeping $100K in contributions from Bernie Madoff, who faces up to 150 years in prison for swindling billions from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick in a massive Ponzi scheme.
The writer mentions Enron:
During the Enron scandal, returning campaign money was a daily drumbeat, as were the news stories discussing Enron’s purported ties to President Bush. Now, when the Democratic Senate campaign vehicle makes the conscious decision to keep $100K in Madoff money, stolen just as if it came from a bank holdup, there’s little to no outrage. Why?
Here’s a suggestion for members of the media — ask Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who himself was robbed by Madoff, what he thinks of the DSCC keeping stolen money in order to help fund his colleagues’ Senate campaigns this election cycle.
I like the analogy, though I must point out that President Clinton was the primary beneficiary of Enron’s largess. Whatever Enron’s ties to President Bush, they certainly did not help the energy giant; President Bush refused to bail them out when Mr. Lay called and asked for help. This act of cowardice on the part of the President is unconscionable. This is how you treat your friends? The act is particularly egregious since we saw during his presidency that he was not exactly opposed to government spending, and at the end of his presidency that e was not opposed to government spending on companies encountering liquidity crises.
Those who remember Right Thinking Girl may remember Miss Sluttington’s School For Wicked Girls. It was a fictional boarding school where girls who were thought to be too sexually outspoken were sent for “re-education.” When I created Miss Sluttington and her wicked girls, I deliberately used the term “re-education camp”, the euphemism for Soviet gulags. My point was that, in general, girls who are openly sexual are much more threatening than men who are, and society has a way of letting us know it.
Flash forward to today. LawBlog reports on the phenomena of teenagers who are taking nude pictures of themselves on their cell phones and sending them to their boyfriends. This is resulting in bizarre prosecutions for kiddie porn for both the girls and the boys who receive the pictures on their phones.
In a case in Wyoming, prosecutors are coming down hard on the kids and the ACLU is fighting back.
“Kids should be taught that sharing digitized images of themselves in embarrassing or compromised positions can have bad consequences, but prosecutors should not be using heavy artillery like child-pornography charges to teach them that lesson,” said Witold Walczak, Legal Director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania in this news release. “These are just kids being irresponsible and careless; they are not criminals and they certainly haven’t committed child pornography.”
I agree. I’ve heard horror stories of sixteen year old boys having to register for the rest of their lives as sex predators because they’ve received one of these cheeky pictures. Such drastic action for something the boy has no control over seems worse than just silly; it seems a violation of his basic human rights.
Which leads us to the most horrifying quote, for three different reasons:
The district attorney has offered that in order to avoid the charges, the girls be placed on probation, participate in a five-week re-education program and be subject to random drug testing.
Ooookay. In the first place, any discussion of charges is silly. The girls are just being girls. (“Boys will be boys” finally has an appropriate rejoinder!) They are being flirtatious, they’re trying to give the boy something to remember, something that feels personal and private (even if those perceptions are wrong.)
These girls are not criminals; they are not making child porn. They’re not making porn of any description. It’s just flirtatious play. Though such play can have serious consequences, there must be some mens rea for it to equal a crime.
Secondly, “re-education program”? What will they learn in such a camp? That cell phone cameras are for taking pictures of cute kittens and rainbows? That her private bikini area is for herself alone? According to the article, it is worse than that:
The course will teach the girls “[t]o gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today’s society, both advantages and disadvantages,” and “[i]dentify nontraditional societal and job roles.”
The disadvantages of being a girl? I’m not even sure how to approach that issue; I’ve never been at a disadvantage because I’m a girl. In fact, I probably have a lot more advantages: I never have to open a jar of pickles; doors are opened for me wherever I go; I never have to change my own flat tire; on the Metro, men give up their seats for me; if I have a baby, I get federally-mandated time off if I work for a public corporation; I am not expected to carry heavy things; according to statistics I will live longer than men; I am better educated, on average, than men; women executives earn more money, on average, than men. I fail to see the disadvantages.
But okay, whatever. Why approach job roles? This course is supposed to be about taking naughty pictures, so how did job roles get thrown into the curriculum? Are the state flunkies trying to say, “If you take off your shirt for your boyfriend, you’re gonna end up on a stripper pole”? That’s hardly fair. And who the hell cares about societal roles? I am not aware of any “roles”, just as I am not aware of any “disadvantages”. I find the idea preposterous. I believe that prosecutors are just trying to shame these young girls into putting on nice knee-grazing skirts and cable-knit sweaters.
And third – random drug testing? No drugs have yet been mentioned in the article. Is it just a Prosecutor’s trick to ensnare more girls – I imagine he calls them “fast girls” – in some secondary crime of drug use? Since the girls aren’t officially charged with anything, how is it legal for the state to compel them to submit to random drug testing?
I am appalled by the way these girls are being treated. They’re young women who took pictures of their boobs; they’re not harlots.
And what of the boys? They’re not taking pictures of themselves. Why not? That is an interesting societal question. And the boys who receive the photos – are they being required to attend re-education camp too? Or do they just get to stay at home and post the pictures to MySpace while the girls are being figuratively ass-smacked by the State? Do they have to attend a class about societal roles, and traditional jobs? Newp. Just the girls.
I suppose in this one respect, the State is correct. Society, i.e., the State, does treat girls unfairly by shaming them about the pictures and forcing them into these Girl Gulags. Girls are treated equally in this society in every respect – except when it comes to being sexual creatures. I am sure the irony would be lost on the humorless bureaucrats. (Which is probably why they never received naked pictures on their cell phones.)
Excellent / hilarious quote from the Treas during this afternoon’s conference call:
Regarding assigning asset prices, Jeremy Rudd actually says: “We think we are pretty clever here at the Treasury department, but we aren’t that clever.”
FBI announced today the arrest of a 23-year veteran of the Conroe Police Department on charges he robbed the First Bank of Conroe in August of 2008.
Sgt. Mike Tindall was listening to his police monitor and he robbed the very bank where he worked an off duty security assignment. He was off duty when the robbery took place. (Though I think the union will still claim that since he was there, he was workin’, damnit.)
The FBI said Tindall wore a motorcycle helment when he took over $28,000 from the bank tellers.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine if convicted. Not to mention the stigma of being a total jagoff.
I have discovered the rarest gem in the whole universe: I’ve discovered someone who thinks the exact same way I do about Arthur Andersen and AIG.
Will Offensicht, the pseudonymous author of the above entitled action, patiently, calmly, rationally explains how AIG made its money, and why it was no biggie that some of those guys got bonuses.
I’m too stunned to even be snarky.