Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Dear Friends far and near,

A mere 24 hours to Christmas, 2008 is almost in the books. Turning 55 this past Saturday had its pitfalls. No question I look older every time I glance in the mirror so I don’t do it much. The boys tell me to comb my hair. I tell them I am lucky to have hair and I tell everyone I am so old I was a waiter at the Last Supper! This year started off like every year, a whirlwind. We got back from a wonderful holiday and New Years at Pamelot, our farm in Tennessee. A week later we put my Dad on the plane back to Minnesota and a week later grabbed a flight to New York City with the boys. Their first visit to the Big Apple! We stayed in Times Square and took in the sights and sounds of the greatest city on earth. We dined at Carmines, did the Lion King on Broadway, shopped on Canal Street, walked to the World Trade site and covered the financial district which on a weekend was a tad boring for the boys among the canyons of Wall Street but it brought back as it always does the great times I had in 1983 when I trained at 20 Exchange Place with the venerable Kidder Peabody. We also went to the top of Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. It was a great trip. Valentines found Pam and me with friends on a private jet to the Florida coast for my one and only round of golf this year. It was a hoot as I sprayed balls up and down the links. A Tiger wanna-be I am not. A couple of weeks later Pam and I headed to Phoenix for the Super Bowl. It is extremely difficult not to have a great time at any Super Bowl function and a super game it was.

Spring break found the gang in Vail doing the whoosh-n-shoosh in the best skiing of my life. It snowed every day and Vail broke the 500 inch mark for the season. Amazing snow but the mule deer herds in the Eagle Valley and Gunnison Basin were hurt, big time. So much for global warming! The summer warmed up and we headed to the great Northwest. Flying into Seattle with Mt. Rainier clear and calling was just a warm-up for a great family vacation. We boarded a seaplane in Seattle and headed for Canada and out into Puget Sound to chase killer whales on a small Zodiac, hiked towards Mt. Rainier and turned back by massive snow drifts and spent July 1st in Victoria, British Columbia, celebrating Canada Day with our neighbors to the north. The weather was great and we enjoyed so much including Butchart Gardens in BC and the Boeing Field Museum. We even were caught in a parade, the Seattle Gay Pride parade as we walked to the Space Needle. The boys saw more than I wanted them to! After getting home we got back into the swing of summer swim season and Hunters job lifeguarding. He turned 16 in June and took the reins of “Red Rover”, my old 1990 Jeep Cherokee. July found Jordan training in the heat for his 5th year of organized football as a 6th grader. As assistant coach we had a great year and won the league championship. Grandpa Doug Parisian came down for the championship game from Minnesota and watched a great football game as we prevailed 12 – 6. Jordan, playing middle linebacker and running back had a great season and gave his all at every practice. A father couldn’t have been more proud. And grandfather either.

Late July found me in Minnesota with friends at the Minnesota Trappers Association summer convention. Probably a finer bunch can’t be found. Always fun and I managed to visit some old haunts that haven’t changed all that much.

School started the second week in August and Hunter began his second year of running cross-country and Jordan busy with football practice. August sports practices are always hot in Georgia. Just imagine. Early September I ran out to my old love, the state of Montana for a few days of trying to shoot a pronghorn antelope with my bow. I succeeded but it didn’t come easy and had to call on a lifetime of experience to bag my animal. It was another priceless trip to Gods last great place. In late September Pam and I headed with friends to the south of France for a week of food and laughs. We loved the beauty of the wine country and the trip was one of our best. October rolled in and before Hunters swim season got underway we found time to head to South Dakota to gun waterfowl and pheasants with some great pals.

I got in some deer hunting in November and dad joined us for Thanksgiving at Pamelot. We have much to be thankful for and good health is a major gift that we enjoy. Dad will turn 86 in a couple of weeks and still goes hard. He is spry and quick with a joke. Some things seem never to change but they will.

In the most unique place I have ever chased whitetail deer, Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia I spent the past few days with some friends gunning small island deer and pigs. We had a blast camping, eating elk steaks, grouper and most of all, laughing. I have never been in such a unique ecosystem that is void of predators and hence such a massive amount of deer and pigs that need to be controlled by rifles. That makes it both coasts I have had the opportunity to enjoy the ocean’s power and currents while deer hunting and for that I am thankful.

Next year will be Hunters senior year of high school and we will be looking at colleges in January. My how time flies and I am very lucky to be a husband and father of such a great family. I say my prayers every day for what the Creator has provided.

Pam has had a very busy year as she contemplates retirement in about 1,000 days. As the Chief Information Officer of the combined AT&T Wireless and Land-line units her days are hectic to say the least. There is a lot of change at AT&T and she is at the forefront.

From our home to yours I hope that next year is the best year of your life. I still like to believe that the best is yet to come and hope that you do to. Again here’s to a warm and blessed holiday season and a stellar 2009. I want to leave you with one of my favorite Native American prayers.

May the Blessings of the Creator be with you and yours.
May warm winds blow gently upon your home and all who enter.
May rainbows always shine on the shoulder of your life.
May your moccasins make happy tracks on your travels.
May good health be yours to enjoy each day.

With best wishes always,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Paulson's only goal was taking care of Wall Street

Hank Paulson is one of the largest dangers to Americans. Believe it.

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday he wants Congress to release the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue package, setting up what is expected to be a bruising dialogue with lawmakers from both parties who have expressed frustration with the way he has navigated the financial crisis.
Mr. Paulson said the $17.4 billion Treasury committed to provide General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC means that the government has "effectively" allocated the first $350 billion that Congress authorized in early October for the Troubled Asset Relief Program to stabilize the financial markets. Mr. Paulson said he has "confidence" that "we have the necessary resources to address a significant financial market event." (Read the statement.)
"It is clear, however, that Congress will need to release the remainder of the TARP to support financial market stability," Mr. Paulson said. "I will discuss that process with the congressional leadership and the President-elect's transition team in the near future."
Mr. Paulson's statement signals a shift from recent statements when he suggested he wouldn't ask for the rest of the money. Lawmakers from both parties have blasted Treasury's use of the first $350 billion, which has mostly gone to inject capital into healthy banks as well as troubled institutions such as Citigroup Inc. and American International Group Inc. Treasury originally sold lawmakers on the plan as a way to purchase troubled assets off from financial institutions.
Top Democrats have said they would only negotiate with Treasury on the next $350 billion if Treasury creates a huge plan to help homeowners avert foreclosure. The request could spark a battle with lawmakers unhappy with the bailout who want to add new conditions, such as requiring banks to lend the funds they receive.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deep Capture

Mary Shapiro, Obama's SEC chief should do lunch with the author of this blog:

http://www.deepcapture.com/

Here is a recent entry from his blog. If any of you have ever walked into an SEC office to bring a complaint against a public company, person or fund you know that the presumption of innocence for the entity you believe needs investigation is on them, not on the person walking in to bring the complaint. I've been there and they act as if they are doing you a favor to even listen to your complaint. Shapiro has done little for FINRA and it will take tremendous change for her to do anything at the SEC. It should be quickly disbanded and a new regulator be put in place that can address the markets of 2009 and beyond. It wouldn't be that hard if politics were taken out of the equation. Unfortunately, it is all politics and money. What else is new?

A Ponzi Scheme that is Bigger than Bernard Madoff’s

December 13th, 2008 by Mark Mitchell
Bernard L. Madoff’s fraud is “stunning,” says the SEC. It is a crime of “epic proportions.” But, says the SEC, we have nothing to worry about. The SEC caught the bad guy. It “moved swiftly” to protect the integrity of the financial markets.
Nonsense.
The only thing “stunning” is that the SEC continues to condone and even fraternize with the organized mob of hedge fund miscreants who have destroyed hundreds of companies, wiped out the jobs of countless ordinary folks, and brought our financial system to the brink of ruin.
The Madoff case may one day prove to be “epic,” but right now it can best be described as “pathetic” – or just plain “weird.”
Apparently, the SEC began receiving tips from Madoff’s enemies (rival brokerages, private investigators working for rival hedge funds, etc.) several years ago. The commission made inquiries, but took no action.
Then, earlier this week, Madoff purportedly had some kind of nervous breakdown, announcing to his sons that he was a criminal.
If we can believe the news reports, the sons then called the FBI, which dispatched an agent to Madoff’s apartment.
Madoff, dressed in a baby blue bathrobe and slippers, opened the door, and said, “I know why you are here.”
With that, the agent arrested Madoff, and within a few hours the FBI and the SEC had whipped out cases accusing Madoff of wrong-doing, but providing few details.
Indeed, it is clear from reading these cases that the FBI and the SEC know nothing about Madoff’s market making and hedge fund firm except that two employees (Madoff’s two sons) have made the vague claim that Madoff told them, vaguely, that his hedge fund was “a giant Ponzi scheme.”
Madoff’s lawyer says his client has admitted to no such crime.
Children do not usually turn in their fathers to the FBI unless they bear other grudges. And it is standard operating procedure for shady high-finance predators to sniff out and prey on feuding relatives who are in business together.
This in no way suggests that Madoff is clean, but it raises the possibility that even dirtier people orchestrated the demise of Madoff and his hedge fund in order to absorb his more lucrative (and crooked?) market making operation.
An alternative explanation comes from Bill Cara, one of the nation’s more perceptive business writers. He concludes that Madoff “is just the beginning. I don’t know, of course, more than you, but…I think he has in fact indicted himself to cause prosecutors to investigate the entire corrupt system.”
Whatever the real story, it is clear that market makers are accessories to a scheme that is much, much bigger than Madoff.
The key players in this scheme are 20 or so mega-billionaire hedge fund managers, who operate with a supporting cast that includes not just market makers, but also smaller hedge funds, rogue prime brokerages, corrupt lawyers, dishonest journalists, bogus one-man credit rating agencies, dubious index trackers, bribed “experts,” skalawag statisticians, compromised professors, private investigators, crooked financial researchers, captured government regulators, hustlers, felons, thugs and mafiosi.
The mega-billionaires masterminded their scheme in the 1980s, and ever since, they and their progeny have been working together – raiding and destroying public companies for profit. In the rubble of these attacks (there are hundreds of examples) one can almost always find evidence of unrestrained naked short selling (people selling things that they do not possess – phantom stock, phantom bonds, phantom mortgage backed securities, phantom CDOs, all manner of phantom derivatives).
This is the organized exploitation of our national clearing and settlement system – a system that fails utterly to ensure that traders actually deliver that which they have sold. If the SEC and FBI are looking for a “Ponzi scheme” of “epic proportions” – this is it.
Mr. Madoff surely knows something about this scheme. Market makers (Madoff’s operation was among the better known) are exempt from rules prohibiting naked short selling. They can sell stock that they have not yet borrowed or purchased, so long as they are legitimately “making a market” (i.e. maintaining liquidity) — and only if they intend to settle the trade soon after. In practice, however, billionaire hedge fund managers have rented market makers’ exemptions to manipulate markets with phantom securities – a blatant crime that is rarely prosecuted.
While Mr. Madoff is talking to the SEC and the FBI, I am going to begin telling you more about the scheme that is bigger than Bernie. Soon, I will name those 20 mega-billionaires, their supporting cast — and the man who is their guru. The evidence is pouring in – there is much to reveal.
But for now, let me leave you with a quotation from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s “Notice 93-77.” Published in 1993, it reads:
Shortly after the market crash of 1987, “then Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady referred to the clearance and settlement system as the weakest link in the nation’s financial system…Gerald Corrigan, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted: ‘The greatest threat to the stability of the financial system as a whole was the danger of a major default in one of these clearing and settlement systems…”
“The connection between a crisis in the clearance and settlement system and the financial industry was highlighted by the bankruptcy in 1990 of Drexel Burnham Lambert Group…As described in the [SEC’s] testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, near gridlock developed in the mortgage-backed securities market and in the corporate debt and equity markets where Drexel was an active participant.”
Now that our financial system has come to a screeching halt, read those words for clues as to how much worse things can get – and whom we need to stop to prevent that from happening.
* * * * * * * *
Mark Mitchell is a reporter for DeepCapture.com. He previously worked at the Wall Street Journal editorial page in Europe, Time magazine Asia, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and the Columbia Journalism Review. Email: mitch0033@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bernie Madoff

Can anybody believe that this scum bucket isn't in cuffs and stripes yet?

Why this thief isn't behind bars tonight defies decency. He will get his due and it won't be soon enough.

Ossabaw Island, 2008




In the most unique place I have ever chased whitetail deer, Ossabaw Island, off the coast of Georgia I spent the past few days with some friends gunning small island deer and pigs. We had a blast camping, eating elk steaks, grouper and most of all, laughing. I have never been in such a unique ecosystem that is void of predators and hence such a massive amount of deer and pigs that need to be controlled by rifles. That makes it both coasts I have had the opportunity to enjoy the ocean’s power and currents while deer hunting and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Prison wouldn't be enough for this guy........

Why Franklin Raines isn't behind bars belies the issue of politics. I guess it's taxpayers be damned. I say throw away the key if and when justice is ever served.


Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines faulted regulators and lawmakers for encouraging the mortgage-finance company and its competitor Freddie Mac to expand into riskier loan products with limited oversight.

“It is remarkable that during the period that Fannie Mae substantially increased its exposure to credit risk its regulator made no visible effort to enforce any limits,” said Raines, who was ousted in 2004 and accused by federal investigators of accounting manipulation. Raines made his comments in written testimony being delivered today to the House Oversight and Government

Reform Committee in Washington.
Raines, his successor Daniel Mudd, and former Freddie Mac CEOs Richard Syron and Leland Brendsel told the committee that it was a struggle to meet the companies’ dual mandates as profit- making, shareholder-owned corporations that were also required to promote affordable housing, according to the written testimony. Congress pressured the companies to finance more and lower-income borrowers while the regulator did little or nothing to curb their increasing exposure to riskier mortgages, the executives said.
Representatives Henry Waxman and Darrell Issa disputed that account, saying the companies played a primary role in the housing slump and made reckless bets that hurt the market.
“Their irresponsible decisions are now costing taxpayers billions of dollars,” Waxman, the committee chairman, said at the hearing. Waxman said the CEOs ignored the “warnings of risk” and ended up following the market instead of leading it.

Well Capitalized
Raines said the companies’ regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, didn’t seek to restrict the amount of credit risk.

“The regulator limited its intervention to the size of the on-balance sheet mortgage portfolio and the attendant interest rate risk,” Raines said. “Indeed, right up until the time Fannie Mae was placed into conservatorship, the director of Ofheo maintained that the company was well capitalized to withstand the losses it would face.”

Ofheo, which was reorganized with expanded powers this year as the Federal Housing Finance Agency, placed the companies in conservatorship Sept. 6 after regulators discovered that losses at the two largest sources of U.S. mortgage financing were preventing them from fulfilling their mission of supporting the housing market, officials have since said.
Up until the companies were taken over, Mudd said the FHFA “declared us in full compliance with our capital requirements.”

Full Compliance
“At the time the government declared conservatorship over the company, we were still maintaining capital in accord with the relevant regulatory standards, and we were still -- along with Freddie Mac -- the principle source of lending to the mortgage market,” Mudd said in written testimony.
Fannie and Freddie, which own or guarantee $5.2 trillion of the $12 trillion U.S. home loan market, have accounted for 70 percent of all mortgages originated this year, according to the FHFA.
Mudd said the takeover of Fannie was unnecessary, and a “more modest” form of government action would have been enough to keep the business sound.
“While I deeply respect the myriad challenges facing the Treasury Department and the regulator, I did not believe that conservatorship was the best solution for Fannie Mae,” Mudd said in his testimony. Mudd said he argued for “more modest government support” that could have been used to raise private capital, “basically something more like the program many banks are eligible for now,” according to the testimony.

No Man’s Land
Mudd said lawmakers ought to rethink the structure of Fannie and Freddie as shareholder-owned companies with a public mission and “whether the economy would be better served by fully private or fully public” government-sponsored enterprises. With the U.S. housing market in a “freefall,” he said the companies could not “flourish” under the constraints of a business model that required them to support the entire market.
“I would advocate moving the GSEs out of No Man’s Land,” Mudd said. “Events have shown how difficult it is to balance financial, capital, market, housing, shareholder, bondholder, homeowner, private and public interests in a crisis of these proportions.”
Raines and the other executives echoed that sentiment.
“The GSE model is a far from perfect way to achieve the goal of using private capital to achieve the public purpose of homeownership and affordable rental housing,” Raines said. “However, if the public policy goal remains the same, it will be hard to find a model that has more benefits and fewer demerits than the model that worked reasonably well for almost seven decades at Fannie Mae.”

Monday, December 08, 2008

Never forget...........

'The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' - Ronald Reagan

The truth and only the truth please.......

Wall Street needs billions upon billions to feed itself every year. In 2009 it may need less.

As the world knows, the legions of salesmen who generate the massive fees and commissions that are required to "feed the Street" rely on the public to keep the machine running smoothly.

When the public gets bent over and taken to the woodshed, it mirrors the relationship Congress has to America's citizens.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dakota Storm 2008 from Craig Rasmussen

Getting There

We started the Storm with a smooth pick-up at MSP on Halloween. Dean and Hunter came in from Atlanta and Bentley and I from DC. We all arrived with-in minutes of each other and Tommy in the Black Silvy was there to collect us and all of our belongings. Basically, nothing had changed from 2006, except Hunter. He had grown, filled out and become a handsome young man.

We headed to Kari and Dan’s to transfer gear and say hi to them and Lilli. Little did we know that Joe the Plumber, complete with uniform and butt crack would be there to say hi, offer gifts to the soon-to-be birthday boy and share a Leine with us. Lillie, the Halloween bumble bee was asleep, nonetheless we had some good times and merriment and then headed into the dark prairie skies to Morris and the Old Sunwood Inn. Grandpa Doug was waiting there in the room with the heat at tropical levels. We had some laughs, a drink and hit the sack.

Entering Dakota Territory

At first light on Saturday a resplendent rooster greeted us, just like a SD Game and Fish plant, a few yards inside the state line. Little did we know it would take us three days of hunting in SD to bag our first rooster after such a glorious site.

Before we left Morris that morning for SD we had a Red-Letter Breakfast with the aforementioned party, plus Dave Amberg and Paul Rentz—old friends of Dean, Doug and Me, in some way. Tom and Hunter greeted them for the first time. It’s hard to recount the good feeling of the food, stories and number of laughs at that table that morning, and the surprise in the parking lot as hundreds of Canadas taunted us as we said, ”So long.”

Near Lake City as we crested the SD Coteau, ducks were in most of the ponds and Dean harvested our first bird. First blood. It was our first and last grey duck. Benny, like a prison inmate out on good behavior and me as the warden, scooped-up the hen gadwall in the road ditch. Game on.

Ducks were on the Coteau, but permission was tough. We headed west and fell off it to the James River plains. We had clear skies and mild weather. Benny found a full mallard drake on the shores of a small, grassy creek after I dropped it. A few hours and a few miles later, we found the mallards pouring into standing, flooded corn. We learned then and there about how much rain they had in NE SD and what it did to the crops and to the ducks. I pleaded with some young farmers/duck hunters who were in their combines , picking their wet corn. I begged for permission to head into this beehive on the other side of the road. They had seen the mallards pouring into the standing corn. Truth be known, these guys had a whole section of such action, and they knew it and knew that it was more than they could take advantage of. Finally they said, “Go ahead.”

We hustled in there, as the mallards dove in, like kids to candy. We enjoyed every minute of the spectacle until the sun set, which happened all too quickly. We came out of there in short order, hot with muddy boots and many mallards.

The Ecstasy and the Agony

That Saturday night while at the Hunter’s Inn, we received permission from a wonderful fellow to hunt a flooded bean field that held thousands of ducks and geese. We were pumped and due to our excitement, the shift in times due to DST changes and my inability to figure out ‘what the hell time it really was’ we got up and set out the decoys and ourselves way too early the next morning. Hunter and I went into the middle of the wet beans and Dean and Tom held next to the high and dry road. The ducks did not wait to come in. Hunter and I watched a true waterfowl spectacle. First light broke and ducks from all varieties buzzed us from every way. We just watched. There was going to be no hurry. We saw to the northeast where the mallards were heading. It was the flooded, standing corn. Here we go again.

We moved to a fence line next to the flooded corn and soon Hunter took an incoming drake. Nice shot. What followed was a true waterfowler’s delight—a clear, mild day with northern mallards ‘workin’’ and falling out of the sky to where we were. The Ecstasy. Soon greenheads began to fall to the gun and they kept coming.

Meanwhile, Dean was working the road and stalking Canada geese, collecting his limit of Canadian geese by incredible means.

The Agony of the morning came when my gun jammed as the mallards circled. It was jammed for the rest of the trip. Hunter and I were short of our limit. More Agony came when Hunter tried his damndest to connect on these big birds at short and long range with his new gun but he just seemed snakebit. We swithched guns, I missed too but we did collect a few more. The agony continued at the end of the morning when the SD Game and Fish Warden checked us as we came out and found a gun w/o a plug in it and fined Tommy. He was zealous in his efforts to comb through everything on us and in our vehicles.


The Hoots

On Monday we hunted on landed farmed by a colony of Hutterites—the locals call them the Hoots. They are from German stock and practice a socialistic, communal life style. We spoke on Sunday with the Farm Manager who oversees 6000 acres of production plus all the related livestock. He had ducks in his flooded corn. He couldn’t have been nicer or more interesting. We hunted their land on Monday morning but only scratched a few ducks because someone had been there the night before. As we pulled the decoys and began walking out, the geese came over us as we had hoped. What else is new?

We ended Monday on a wild-goose chase. We spotted the single greatest concentration of light geese any of us had ever seen landing on a body of water. We ate chili, marveled at them, chased a pheasant on the lake’s edge and planned our attack. Dean and Hunter set-up in a field for them while Tommy and I pursued other means which meant asking to get on another flooded cornfield across from the light geese. It had mallards and geese in it. We were turned down. Tommy, Benny and I struck out for some pheasants and ended with up two mallards. One after Tommy waded into the flooded corn in his stocking feet to retrieve it. Benny proudly carried the bird back to the truck for us.

Tuesday’s sunrise on land of the Hoot’s produced visual wonders that are famous in the northern plains. It made up for the lack of Canadas that never appeared in our spread which was right next to their colony. The sun, the range of colors, the cloud patterns, the rain tornado, the waves of migrating birds with a mysterious single bird soaring in the mix created a changing picture of interest for us for over two hours. We left the field empty handed but not disappointed. That was right when Tommy’s chili began to work on all of us at a fearsome rate.

Sand Lake and History

We headed west. In the afternoon, we found a wet section where the mallards were piling into flooded corn and beans. A wonderful old-timer working on drying his crop gave us permission. We waded into the mallards and they arose in waves. We came out with a nice brace of drakes.

After off-loading some cleaned birds to a local bachelor, we headed west to where the James River forms the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge. We crossed it and marched some pheasant land on its west edge that Tommy secured for us. Finally we had our first rooster courtesy of Tommy. Me and Benny collected our second and we thought we had our third but it took all of what Tommy and I had to offer and still ran off before Benny could close on it. A few other cocks were shot at but none were dispatched. We headed to our hotel.

Presidential history was made that night but due to the lack of television coverage at the Hunter’s Inn in Britton, SD, we were not able to follow it. Welcome to the Northern Plains.

Oh for the Robo

Dean and Hunter took off to see Doug and head to MSP for their flight home to Atlanta. Tommy and I were to head through SD onto Balaton. We all left early. Tommy and I wanted to start in the cornfield again east of Sand Lake. It proved to be a good choice. Ducks and pheasants were everywhere and were calling in the fog as we were getting ready. We watched a rooster try to spot us for a few minutes before we headed in. We dropped some drakes, continued on and wished we had a robo over some beans since they wanted to come in to them sooo bad. Our SD Game Warden said that a robo is all the decoy you need. We left happy but wishing for more.

We found some nice public pheasant ground near Sand Lake. Shortly after opening time. Benny flushed rooster that flew to me and which I missed twice , but Tommy reached out and touched him from over 60-70 yards going away. A great shot! Benny did the collection.

We packed up and headed south and found half-sections filled with light geese but could not get on. We ran into ‘Cover Girl’ who farmed with her husband, and we asked her for permission, but it was too late. They all lifted and she drove away in her red Escalade all made-up, pouty and determined.

On our journey out of Northern SD toward Balaton we saw the full spectacle of the migration. Geese topped every hill, ducks swarmed every pond and pheasants were leaving every cornfield for evening cover. We knew a storm was on the way. Tommy and I marveled at it all and collected, with Benny’s help, a very nice rooster. Several others slipped out of our grasp.


Wet and Wild

We arrived in Balaton that evening in time for a warm meal. Our purpose was to be with and help Grandma Phyl. We set out to do that the next morning since the wet and windy dawn made it easy to sleep in and not worry about hunting. Lot of tasks were accomplished in the house and it was great poking around the house and helping out. We did journey out later in the rain to see what pheasants we could locate. We saw them huddles in farm groves and underneath no hunting signs. Tommy and Benny chased after 5 roosters right at town’s edge but they knew the game and took off early. The same thing happened the next morning when the rain turned to snow. Due to needing to get to the airport, we decided not to walk with a local friend Bob Villa but we thought we would just do a quick drive after breakfast. We saw plenty of roosters and one presented itself nicely but it flew out on the opposite side of a drifted in willow tree and Tommy did not catch up with it. That turned out to be our ‘last whack’.

We loaded up and with Benny in his usual spot in the front of the pick-up we headed to MSP. Joe the Plumber was around and we chatted with him for a bit and off-loaded some mallards. The flight home was uneventful. South Dakota was a ‘nice package’ with good times with family and friends, no major travel issues and lots of birds to see, but it left us a bit short of full satisfaction, for some reason. Maybe it was hearing, “no” too much or not having many pheasant chances or not being able to fool more geese—I don’t know. We did have great action on mallards which made up for a lot.

All of our experiences, plus those form previous hunts will be factored into the planning for The Storm of 2009.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Boo-yah Cramer...............

"Jim Cramer is a charlatan. He turns the serious issue of personal financial security into a complete joke. There is nothing that comes out of James Cramer's mouth that allows people to make intelligent investment decisions."

A quote from David Swenson in the December/January 2009 issue of Worth magazine. Mr. Swenson is the chief investment officer of Yale University.

Late to the party boys..........

"You can't get much uglier than this. The economy has just collapsed, and has gone into a free fall," said Richard Yamarone, chief economist at Argus Research in New York.

"It's just a disaster," said Stephen Stanley, chief U.S. economist at RBS Greenwich in Greenwich, Conn.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Main Street versus Wall Street

The fine Americans in the fly-over states have every right to be totally miffed.

The bailout of the losers at Citigroup get $300 BILLION in guarantees, the scum running the Big Three auto's want over $30 billion and today they have these bogus hearings with the back-slapping folks on Capital Hill.

It is a slap in the face to every American taxpayer.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Yes Virginia, there is a BIA

Written by Tim Giago

Yes Virginia, there is a Bureau of Indian Affairs. No Virginia, there is no bureau of African/American, Hispanic American, or Asian/American affairs.
The United States government in its infinite, all seeing, all knowing and all caring wisdom decided that in order to better regulate and oversee the lives of the indigenous people, it had to create within the U. S. Department of the Interior, an agency to be the trustee and caretaker of the First Americans. After all, the Indian people were children, wards of the government, people unable to care for themselves. That they had survived for thousands of years without the benevolence of the BIA apparently was not taken into consideration.
I’m sure that if one dug deeply into the dusty archives of the federal government one would find programs dedicated to African/American slaves, Hispanic/American immigrants and field workers, or of the influx of Asian/American railroad workers and miners. It’s just that the government did not create a bureau to serve their needs.
Now why would they create a bureau just to serve the Native Americans? Mostly out of greed. The Indian tribes had what none of the other racial minorities had: millions of acres of land filled with natural resources. The government had already subjugated or obliterated the tribes of the eastern seaboard and driven the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw and the other tribes of the Southeast on a Trail of Tears to the Territory of Oklahoma.
The tribes of the Northern Plains and of the Southwest would not go down without a fight. The troops of General Miles found this out at the battle on the Rosebud and General George Armstrong Custer and his Seventh Cavalry learned their lesson when they were annihilated on the Little Big Horn. It was only after the systematic destruction of the vast buffalo herds that clothed, housed and fed the Plains Indians that the government was able to bring the tribal leaders to the table of false treaties. In the meantime, Geronimo and his followers were teaching the American Army the art of guerilla warfare in the Southwest.
The treaties were nothing more than shams intended to quiet and appease the Indians while the more complicated schemes of divestiture and captivity without fences (called reservations) were initiated. While the tribal leaders touched the pen to the treaties with all honesty and integrity, the representatives of the United States government signed the same treaties with one hand behind their backs, fingers crossed, in the new, covert gesture of dishonesty known as “honest Injun.”
There were those warriors who knew that the treaties would become nothing more than worthless pieces of paper. You will not find the signatures of Crazy Horse or of any of his followers on the Treaties of 1851 or 1868. Crazy Horse ceded nothing or surrendered nothing to the United States. Crazy horse was feared by the USA because of his high stature with the people of the Great Sioux Nation. He was murdered when he brought his people into Fort Robinson to talk about peace and justice.
Soon the BIA had spread its tentacles to all of the Indian reservations out West. As they set up their agency headquarters they soon started to report to the U. S. Army the numbers of Indians that did not report to their agencies as ordered. As the Army went out to hunt them down the term “off the reservation” was born.
It is written that the Little Crow wars of 1862 that caused several hundred deaths happened because an agent of the BIA, when he was told that the Dakota people under his supervision were starving said, “Let them eat grass.” His body was found next to his agency office with grass stuffed in his mouth. The aftermath of this uprising was that 38 Dakota warriors were hanged in the largest mass hanging in American history at Mankato, Minnesota. President Abraham Lincoln gave this mass execution his approval.
The 12-year-old lawsuit initiated by Eloise Cobell, a lady of the Blackfeet Nation, seeking the recovery of billions of dollars mishandled or stolen outright by the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the Indian people, is still in litigation. Perhaps an honest and rightful settlement in this case will restore some of the integrity lost by the United States government in its treatment of its indigenous people.
Yes Virginia, there still is a Bureau of Indian Affairs and it has had a long history of good, bad and evil deeds. Perhaps under the leadership of the first African/American president, Barack Obama, the BIA will be reorganized to do the job it has never been able to do in its one hundred year history: to serve with justice, honesty and integrity, the needs and concerns of the indigenous people of America. Yes Virginia, it is worth a prayer.
Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association and the founder and publisher of Indian Country Today, the Lakota Times, and the Dakota/Lakota Journal.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

CHAMPIONS!!


Saturday night, November 22, 2008. The championship game for the 11-year old division of AYFA fall football season came to a wonderful conclusion for the White Eagle team.
Jordan Parisian, playing running back and middle linebacker played a stellar game in front of friends and family, among them his 85 year-old grandfather, Douglas Parisian from Spicer, MN.
The mighty White Eagles came up on the winning end of a hard fought battle against a well-coached Roswell, GA team on a very cool fall evening.
As one of the assistant coaches, it was a great victory.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love the truth from a politician

I love this cowboy congressman from California who asked the 3 honcho's from the auto industry if they took a commercial flights or flew on the corporate jets to the congressional hearings.

Let the record show they all flew on the corporate jets and aren't selling them.

145 Years Ago Today........

Gettysburg, PennsylvaniaNovember 19, 1863

On June 1, 1865, Senator Charles Sumner commented on what is now considered the most famous speech by President Abraham Lincoln. In his eulogy on the slain president, he called it a "monumental act." He said Lincoln was mistaken that "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here." Rather, the Bostonian remarked, "The world noted at once what he said, and will never cease to remember it. The battle itself was less important than the speech."

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chris Dodd, a true American travesty

The Congressional "grilling" of the Big Three "chiefs" is truly historic and will make for great business school chatter years down the road. And the political science profs will have a field day.

This UAW chief, Mr. Gettelfinger is a real piece of work.

Is it any wonder the stock market can't find a bottom? The Obama "bail-out" nation looks like it is here to stay.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Please PRAY for Jeff Rollert's Scoutmaster.....

Our neighbors son was lethargic during the scout camping trip this weekend, and since we had two doctors there, he got a quick exam. The whole family is tired, as they have a new daughter.
I got to watch the father, as the E/R doctor found a lump in the abdomen, and the cancer doctor called Childrens Hospital and had him admitted stat. He is currently on the operating table to have a grapefruit size tumor removed from his liver. He's 11 years old.

This is a Dad's worst nightmare. He is also our scoutmaster. For the next four hours, please rub the rabbits foot, pray, or do whatever works for you. He's been on the table for an hour, and has about five hours of surgery left.

Many thanks in advance…

Jeff

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Soros talks, Parisian listens..........

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management, testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Thursday. Highlights:
* Said "a deep recession is now inevitable and the possibility of a depression cannot be ruled out."
* Said hedge funds were an integral part of the financial market bubble which now has burst.
* Said hedge funds will be "decimated" by the current financial crisis and forced to shrink their portfolios by 50-75 percent.
* Said Fed, Treasury Department and the SEC must accept responsibility to prevent market bubbles from growing too big in future.
Said impossible to prevent market bubbles from forming, but they can be kept within "tolerable bounds."
* Said financial engineering should be regulated and new products approved by regulators, and that such regulation should be a high priority of the new Obama administration.
* Said a recent IMF credit facility not large enough to stabilize markets.

Worlds best recipe............

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. Itis the ultimate anti-depressant. 2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God aboutwhat is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to. 3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'Mypurpose is to__________ today. I am thankful for______________' 4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food thatis manufactured in plants. 5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskansalmon, broccoli , almonds & walnuts. 6. Try to make at least three people smile each day. 7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issuesof the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Insteadinvest your energy in the positive present moment. 8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like acollege kid with a maxed out charge card. 9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good. 10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. 11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does. 12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument.Agree to disagree. 13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present. 14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. 15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you. 16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years,will this ma tter?' 17. Forgive everyone for everything. 18. What other people think of you is none of your business. 19. GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him. 20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. 21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch!!! 22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. 23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: Iam thankful for__________. Today I accomplished_________. 24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed. 25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GM and the labor unions.........

If one dime of taxpayer money goes to save GM the union agreements should be nullified, voided and they start negotiation from square one. Management and the unions are killing GM to say nothing of a poor product line and engineering.

Paulson, the bailout and OUR money.........

The betrayal of the regulators is appalling. Paulson will have zero legacy when this is said and done. Bailing out every Tom, Dick and Harry with taxpayer money (OUR money by the way) is like putting a band-aid on a cancer.

There is no rationale for this auto industry bailout. Maybe 10 trillion of wealth has been lost on paper in the US financial markets. We don't need any more GM cars. If they built a competitive car with the Japs they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place. Trillions more are at risk with this move and the American taxpayer is losing confidence in these morons. It was all about election politics to begin with.

American disgust

This government booddoggle called the bailout is getting comical.

It is like a welfare line for corporate America. And until they shut it off the line will only get longer.

I hope when the time comes to re-elect all these pitiful politicians that they will play the soundbites of them asking America for bailout money.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pine Ridge, Oglala Community High School

I went to high school at OCHS back in the late 1960's. This is the take from Russell Means on Pine Ridge and the Pine Ridge Reservation today. Though it was a beautiful place to grow up for a kid who enjoyed his horse and hunting, then, as now, the minus's outweighed the positives.

Genocidal Results of the Failed American Indian Policies of the United States Government:
MORTALITY:
Lakotah men have a life expectancy of less than 44 years, lowest of any country in the World (excluding AIDS) including Haiti.
Lakotah death rate is the highest in the United States.
The Lakotah infant mortality rate is 300% more than the U.S. Average.
One out of every four Lakotah children born are fostered or adopted out to non-Indian homes.
Diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, etc. are present. Cancer is now at epidemic proportions!
Teenage suicide rate is 150% higher than the U.S national average for this group.
POVERTY:Median income is approximately $2,600 to $3,500 per year. 97% of our Lakotah people live below the poverty line. Many families cannot afford heating oil, wood or propane and many residents use ovens to heat their homes. UNEMPLOYMENT: Unemployment rates on our reservations are 80% or higher. Government funding for job creation is lost through cronyism and corruption. HOUSING: Elderly die each winter from hypothermia (freezing). 1/3 of the homes lack basic clean water and sewage while 40% lack electricity. 60% of Reservation families have no telephone. 60% of housing is infected with potentially fatal black molds. There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home (may only have two to three rooms). Some homes, built for 6 to 8 people, have up to 30 people living in them. DRUGS AND ALCOHOL: More than half the Reservation’s adults battle addiction and disease. Alcoholism affects 9 in 10 families. Two known meth-amphetamine labs allowed to continue operation. Why? DISEASE: The Tuberculosis rate on Lakotah reservations is approx. 800% higher than the U.S national average. Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S national average. The rate of diabetes is 800% higher than the U.S national average. Federal Commodity Food Program provides high sugar foods that kill Native people through diabetes and heart disease. INCARCERATION: Indian children incarceration rate 40% higher than whites. In South Dakota, 21 percent of state prisoners are American Indians, yet they only make up 2% of the population. Indians have the second largest state prison incarceration rate in the nation. Most Indians live on federal reservations. Less than 2% of Indians live where the state has jurisdiction! THREATENED CULTURE: Only 14% of the Lakotah population can speak the Lakotah language. The language is not being shared inter-generationally. Today, the average age of a fluent Lakotah speaker is 65 years. Our Lakotah language is an Endangered Language, on the verge of extinction. Our Lakotah language is not allowed to be taught in the U.S. Government schools. Please contact: info@republicoflakotah.com, 605-867-1025

Wyoming casting call..............

Due to the popularity of the Survivor's shows, Wyoming is planning to do its own, titled "Survivor-Wyoming Style." The contestants will start in Cheyenne , travel over to Casper , Lander, and Rawlins. Then, they will head west to Rock Springs , north to Pinedale and Big Piney. From there they will proceed east to Gillette. The final leg will be back to Cheyenne . Each will be driving a pink Volvo with California license plates and a HUGE bumper sticker that reads: "I'm gay. I'm a vegetarian. Beer is harmful to your health. Republicans suck. Obama in 2008. Deer hunting is murder, and I'm here to confiscate your guns."

The first one that makes it back to Cheyenne alive wins.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Death penalty needed here.........

By RHONDA COOK
The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionSunday, September 21, 2008

The destruction caused by the Brian Nichols case has gone beyond the four people he killed, beyond the five he carjacked. It’s also gone beyond the people he assaulted in the hours between his unprecedented escaped from the Fulton County Courthouse on a windy Friday morning and his surrender 26 hours later at a Duluth apartment complex.The cost has been more than any other in the state and some estimates are that it will ultimately cost taxpayers at least $5 million to prosecute and defend Brian Nichols.Those 26 hours three-and-half years ago may have been the death-knell of Georgia’s then-new system that had been created to eliminate the inequities of a hodge-podge of indigent defense systems.“This is a tragic case that comes along once every 50 years,” said Stephen Bright, who teaches law at Georgetown and Yale Universities.“It’s too bad it couldn’t be handled in a way that didn’t result in consequences for the judiciary and the representation of poor people,” said Bright, a veteran death penalty defense attorney.The financial — and political — drain of the case has crippled, and maybe destroyed the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council, Mears and Bright said.When he was head of the council, Mears recalls, he had “several heated discussions” over state funding with legislators who “want to use the Nichols case to destroy the indigent defense system because of how much it’s costing and how much we should have not been paying for this defense.“This case may result in the end of the indigent defense system,” Mears. “There has been a lot of collateral damage as a result of this case, starting with the [judicial] system itself.”The Nichols case has become the example both sides point to when arguing the shortcomings of the death penalty system.The staggering expense of the Nichols case has gone beyond $13 million, including two $5 million settlements paid to the families of those killed at the courthouse.Georgia’s taxpayers are paying to defend Nichols, to prosecute him, to protect him and to house him.At the same time, the case has consumed the attention of the public, a courthouse, the judiciary and a prosecutor’s office. Because of the multiple on-and-off trial start dates and the media attention, some outside the system believe the case has taken too long to come to trial even though there have been death penalty cases that have taken longer.Trial finally begins MondayThree years, six months, and 10 days after accused rapist Brian Nichols, 36, escaped from the Fulton County Courthouse on March 11, 2005 — leaving blood in his path and briefly terrorizing a city — he is going on trial before a jury dominated by women.Is Nichols not guilty by reason of insanity — as he claims — for the series of crimes referred to as “the courthouse shootings?” Or is he guilty of multiple murders and should he die for killing Judge Rowland Barnes, court stenographer Julie Ann Brandau, Fulton deputy Hoyt Keith Teasley and agent David Wilhelm of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.Hopefully, by Christmas, there will be a verdict.But many agree the effects will linger long after the verdict.“It’s an extraordinary case because of the number of twists and turns it has in it,” said law professor Michael Mears, who previously headed the Public Defender Standards Council, the state agency charged with representing capital defendants like Nichols.The cost has been more than any other in the state and some estimates are that it will ultimately cost taxpayers at least $5 million to prosecute and defend Nichols.Already Fulton County has spent almost $954,000. The county also cancelled a $376,000 debt the city of Atlanta owed for court services in exchange for use of the entire sixth floor of the Municipal Court.Barnes’ widow recently won a $5.1 million lawsuit against Fulton County for her husband’s death in his courtroom that fateful day. Brandau’s daughter was awarded a $5.2 million settlement a few days ago.Other lawsuits are pending.And by the time the trial is over, Fulton County will have spent at least another $118,534 just for juror expenses and more than $151,000 for overtime for deputies assigned to the trial. Fulton is expecting spend even more because the county is now picking up the expense of one of Nichols’ four attorneys and there are several months of billable hours not yet worked.At one County Commission meeting in July, the county manager warned another $1.8 million may be needed.Meanwhile, taxpayers also are spending millions to both to prosecute and defend Nichols — costs that are harder to tally.The prosecution costs are spread out in the budgets of several local, state and federal agencies, including the expense of lawyers and law enforcement officers, who are also handling other cases.The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council had paid six Nichols’ lawyers — four at first and now only two — at least $1.5 million by the first of this year.How much it has cost since the first of this year is not known because both judges in the case — the previous judge, Hilton Fuller ,and now-presiding Judge James Bodiford — have ordered the council not to discuss the case.“It’s cost much more than I could ever imagine,” Mears said.Indigent defense system damagedThe statewide indigent defense system had been in place little more than two months when Nichols escaped the courthouse where he was on trial on charges of raping a former girlfriend.“Nichols was the first major capital case coming out of the chute,” said Gary Parker, who was the previous lead defense attorney until he resigned more than a year ago for health reasons. “The level of resources … hasn’t been spent anywhere.”Bright said the damage to the state’s indigent defense system will be lasting.“The legal system does not work at its best when caught up in the passions of the moment,” Bright said. “Once you accentuate those passions, the more people’s careers get caught up, the worse it gets. A lot of times when we look back on it several years later, those are not the legal system’s finest hours. The independence of the judiciary may be one of the greatest casualties of the case, Bright said.“It has been a tremendous blow to the independence of the judiciary in Georgia,” Bright said. “The rule of law is based on the notion that cases are tried in accordance with the law and not the passions of the moment and the legislature.”Bright said some elected officials blamed Fuller, the first judge on the case who resigned. Bright said it was “shear demagoguery and that hurt the legal system. The idea that a judge is supposed to play to the crowd is totally antithetical to our notions of justice.”

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ann Coulter said..............

THE REIGN OF LAME FALLS MAINLY ON MCCAIN November 5, 2008

Last night was truly a historic occasion: For only the second time in her adult life, Michelle Obama was proud of her country! The big loser of this election is Colin Powell, whose last-minute endorsement of Obama put the Illinois senator over the top. Powell was probably at home last night, yelling at his TV, "Are you KIDDING me? That endorsement was sarcastic!"

The winner, of course, is Obama, who must be excited because now he can start hanging out in public with Bill Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright again. John McCain is a winner because he can resume buying more houses. And we're all winners because we will never again have to hear McCain say, "my friends." After Bill Clinton won the 1992 presidential election, Hillary Clinton immediately announced that, henceforth, she would be known as "Hillary Rodham Clinton." So maybe Obama can now become B. Hussein Obama, his rightful name.

This was such an enormous Democratic year that even John Murtha won his congressional seat in Pennsylvania after calling his constituents racists. It turns out they're not racists -- they're retards. Question: What exactly would one have to say to alienate Pennsylvanians? That Joe Paterno should retire?

Apparently Florida voters didn't mind Obama's palling around with Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, either. There must be a whole bunch of retired Pennsylvania Jews down there. Have you ever noticed that whenever Democrats lose presidential elections, they always blame it on the personal qualities of their candidate? Kerry was a dork, Gore was a stiff, Dukakis was a bloodless android, Mondale was a sad sack. This blame-the-messenger thesis allows Democrats to conclude that their message was fine -- nothing should be changed! The American people are clamoring for higher taxes, big government, a defeatist foreign policy, gay marriage, the whole magilla. It was just this particular candidate's personality.

Republicans lost this presidential election, and I don't blame the messenger; I blame the message. How could Republicans go after B. Hussein Obama (as he is now known) on planning to bankrupt the coal companies when McCain supports the exact same cap and trade policies and earnestly believes in global warming? How could we go after Obama for his illegal alien aunt and for supporting driver's licenses for illegal aliens when McCain fanatically pushed amnesty along with his good friend Teddy Kennedy? How could we go after Obama for Jeremiah Wright when McCain denounced any Republicans who did so? How could we go after Obama for planning to hike taxes on the "rich," when McCain was the only Republican to vote against both of Bush's tax cuts on the grounds that they were tax cuts for the rich? And why should Republican activists slave away working for McCain when he has personally, viciously attacked: John O'Neill and the Swift Boat Veterans, National Right to Life director Doug Johnson, evangelical pastors Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and John Hagee, various conservative talk radio hosts, the Tennessee Republican Party and on and on and on? As liberal Democrat E.J. Dionne Jr. exuded about McCain in The Washington Post during the Republican primaries, "John McCain is feared by Democrats and liked by independents." Dionne proclaimed that McCain "may be the one Republican who can rescue his party from the undertow of the Bush years." Similarly, after unelectable, ultraconservative Reagan won two landslide victories, James Reston of The New York Times gave the same advice to Vice President George H.W. Bush: Stop being conservative! Bush was "a good man," Reston said in 1988, "and might run a strong campaign if liberated from Mr. Reagan's coattails." Roll that phrase around a bit -- "liberated from Mr. Reagan's coattails." This is why it takes so long to read the Times -- you have to keep reading the same paragraph over again to see if you missed a word. Bush, of course, rode Reagan's ultraconservative coattails to victory, then snipped those coattails by raising taxes and was soundly defeated four years later. I keep trying to get Democrats to take my advice (stop being so crazy), but they never listen to me.

Why do Republicans take the advice of their enemies? How many times do we have to run this experiment before Republican primary voters learn that "moderate," "independent," "maverick" Republicans never win, and right-wing Republicans never lose? Indeed, the only good thing about McCain is that he gave us a genuine conservative, Sarah Palin. He's like one of those insects that lives just long enough to reproduce so that the species can survive. That's why a lot of us are referring to Sarah as "The One" these days. Like Sarah Connor in "The Terminator," Sarah Palin is destined to give birth to a new movement. That's why the Democrats are trying to kill her. And Arnold Schwarzenegger is involved somehow, too. Good Lord, I'm tired. After showing nearly superhuman restraint throughout this campaign, which was lost the night McCain won the California primary, I am now liberated to announce that all I care about is hunting down and punishing every Republican who voted for McCain in the primaries.

I have a list and am prepared to produce the names of every person who told me he was voting for McCain to the proper authorities. We'll start with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Then we shall march through the states of New Hampshire and South Carolina -- states that must never, ever be allowed to hold early Republican primaries again. For now, we have a new president-elect. In the spirit of reaching across the aisle, we owe it to the Democrats to show their president the exact same kind of respect and loyalty that they have shown our recent Republican president.

Starting tomorrow, if not sooner.

It is all about the ice cream

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while talking recently to a third grade teacher. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. They had decided they would have an election for class president. They would choose the nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote. To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. They discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. They got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot. The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. The teacher thought that Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. The teacher had never seen Olivia's mother. The day arrived when they were to make their speeches Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make the class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was concise. She said, "If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream." She sat down. The class went wild. "Yes! Yes! We want ice cream." She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn't sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn't know. The class really didn't care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a land slide. Every time Barack Obama opens his mouth he offers ice cream, and fifty percent of America reacts like nine year olds. They want ice cream. The other fifty percent know they're going to have to feed the cow.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Native Oversight .......what a portrait

The founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian has agreed to repay the Smithsonian Institution more than $9,700 for improper travel and entertainment reimbursements, according to an audit released Wednesday.

The report from Smithsonian Inspector General A. Sprightley Ryan was issued to members of Congress and Smithsonian leaders following scrutiny last year of W. Richard West Jr.'s extensive travel expenses. He spent more than $217,000 on transportation and luxury hotels in 2006 and 2007, according to calculations in the audit.

The audit found the appearance of "lavish entertainment expenses and premium travel" but asked West to repay less than $10,000 and faulted lax oversight by past Smithsonian executives for most of the problems.

Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, who took office in July, issued a statement saying the museum complex has strengthened its policies to ensure such excesses "never occur again."
Attorney apologizes for excesses West's attorney, Michael Bromwich, said the report largely cleared West of any wrongdoing. Still, he apologized for any excesses. "I accept the (inspector general's) conclusion that I should have exercised better judgment," West wrote in a statement. "I have without hesitation agreed to reimburse the funds."

West, a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, retired in 2007. The report noted that during 17 years at the Smithsonian he raised more than $155 million to establish the American Indian museum and was a "beloved and accomplished leader."

The museum, which opened on the National Mall in 2004, drew 1.8 million visitors in 2007.

Ryan's report said West traveled more than any other Smithsonian executive because of his job but sometimes mixed business with personal vacations. Some of the improper reimbursements were attributed to administrative mistakes, while in other cases West asked to be reimbursed for more than receipts showed he paid. West also charged the Smithsonian for some expenses relating to his work with universities or museum associations.

West agreed to repay about $1,400 for breaking two travel rules, one limiting first-class train travel and another on charging for laundry service while traveling abroad.

On trips to Europe, West stayed in four- and five-star hotels, spending more than $1,000 a night for a hotel and expenses in Venice, Italy, though he wasn't asked to pay back most of that money.

"We see no justification for this level of accommodation," Ryan wrote in the report.

The audit confirmed the museum, with some help from donors, spent $48,500 for a portrait of West and more than $30,000 for an eight-minute video extolling his leadership.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

San Diego Home Prices.......

If the average home in San Diego has come down in value by approximately 25% and the average home is priced around $600,000 then every "average" home owner is down about $150,000. How much more do they fall?

Obama's redistribution.........

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence. When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight. I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application..........OR....... IS IT THAT REDISTRIBUTION OF SOMEONE ELSE'S WEALTH IS A GREAT IDEA..............or just a fools game !!

Conflicted Wall Street advice.....




Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John McCain

I cast my vote for the distinguished aviator the other day. Election day will find me in the great state of South Dakota so I went ahead and got my civic obligation out of the way.

Let me tell you why I voted for McCain.

The financial calamity that we have experienced in our nation has hurt hundreds of millions of great Americans. There has been zero accountability by our government as to who caused it and nothing done to rectify it.

I know that the candidate opposing John McCain opposed attempts to put stricter regulations on Fannie Mae and that he was the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae. I know that this very year his campaign sought the advice of the former Fannie Mae CEO, Franklin Raines. Why Mr. Raines isn't in jail for all the shady shenanigans he pulled defies common decency toward the American people. You see, I believe Raines, Fannie Mae, Wall Street, the mortgage industry, the banking sector are all at the heart of "the mess" that defines Washington and our financial system. McCains opponent claims he is going to clean up our government under the banner of "change".

I know little about what "change" this young Senator stands for. His rhetoric is superb. I know that he opposed the practice of putting violent young felons on trial as adults. That was all the "change" I needed to cast my vote.

News of the weird............

Back in July, 500 truckloads of white sand were stolen from the location of a planned resort in Jamaica. This works out to around 400 meters of beach—quite a heist. Police are taking the investigation very seriously, going so far as to test other beaches for traces of the missing sand.

Though there have been no arrests, there are suspicions that "hotels may have been involved."

In 2007, a Hungarian resort was also relieved of its beach, huts, and sun loungers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hank "sign here, we're injecting you" Paulson.........

Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson spoke Monday to alternatively discuss the need for another economic stimulus package and make the case for the bailout efforts taken to date.
Many issues about the rescue plan and the economy remain unanswered, but a more fundamental question remains: Are the Fed chairman and Treasury secretary up to the job?
A resounding "no" is the answer from Christopher Whalen, managing director at Institutional Risk Analytics, who is particularly critical of Paulson.


The Treasury secretary is "grotesquely conflicted" in his efforts to bail out his former employer, as detailed here, and has found "common cause" with an overly lenient Fed chairman.
"They have a bias to preserve the derivatives market" -- the riskiest part of Wall Street, Whalen says, noting the government let Lehman and Bear fail but bailed out AIG and (according to Whalen) rescued Goldman Sachs and Morgan -- at least for the time being.

This should enrage you..............

From early 2004 till mid-2007, the nine banks named so far to participate in the government's rescue plan earned $305 billion. Since then they have posted losses or write downs of $323 billion (Wall Street Journal).

I haven't heard of any mega-bonuses from the good years being returned.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Buffett's thoughts for the deer stand.........

About the time that little fawn below your deer stand turns into a thick-necked, 14-pointer your 201-k plan (pun intended) will be back to record highs. Believe it. Warren Buffett does.

(Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is buying U.S. stocks, he wrote in an opinion column in the New York Times."A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful," Buffett wrote in the paper.Buffett acknowledged the economic news was bad, with the financial world in a mess, unemployment rising and business activity faltering.

"What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up," he said. "So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

"Buffett, who made his money by building his company Berkshire Hathaway Inc into a $199 billion conglomerate, wrote that investors were right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions."But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation's many sound companies make no sense," he said.

Buffett said major companies would suffer earnings hiccups, but added they "will be setting new profit records five, 10 and 20 years from now."

Joe, the plumber............

Having the main stream media attack this fine American is par.

Maybe when they get around to looking at their 201-k accounts (pun intended) they might do some analysis of who got this financial calamity off to a fine start.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Corporate Governance

In America, it is a joke. The wolves and fox are still guarding the hen house. Until that changes how or why would anyone commit private capital to help bail any company out?

Put some of these CEO's in leg irons and there would be some howling.

Or how about some of the clowns who sat on the Board of Directors and toasted the party line all the way to the meltdown. Let some inmates bend over these chieftains and politicians who got us in this mess. Now that would be some Obama-style, change!!!!!!

And the first guy to the slammer should be the guy in charge of the SEC.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Outrage.........

Where is the outrage? Who represents the anger of Main Street? What policy maker has our interests at heart first and foremost? What politicians should be tossed from office for the billions in losses suffered by American retirement plans? How do the chieftains of these Wall Street firms continue to rip off shareholders without any repercussions?

Letting the Democrats lead an inquiry into the horrorific financial mess is like letting the potheads guard the chips-n-dip. The SEC, out to lunch. Cris Cox is beholden to higher powers. Franklin Raines? Why that cat isn't in jail is anyone's guess. Robert Rubin, a near billionaire doing nothing; absolutley nothing.

Hank Paulson, taking care of the Mother Ship (Goldman Sachs, the firm he sucked $500 million out of before taking the Treasury job). Letting all those major firms go down BEFORE they change the mark-to-market rules is sheer travesty. Imagine the outrage of the thousands of former employees of those firms!

The lack of trust that America has for Wall Street and the slimy politicians trying to spend our money to extricate the big players from oblivion is warranted. I say the best start would be vote out any incumbent. That is a start in the right direction.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Panic is for losers..............

Third quarter 2008 statements are out and you might want to stop worrying, it doesn't do any good. The stocks don't know you own them and wouldn't behave any different if they did. So, first, take a deep breath. Get some perspective. If you don't have any, may I kindly offer up some for free.
First, review these facts of the market since I went to work on Wall Street in 1982:
1982: Double-digit unemployment
1983: Record budget deficit
1984: Technology new issues bubble bursts
1985: Dollar too strong
1986: Dow at 1800 - "too high"
1987: Stock market crash
1988: Worst drought in 50 years
1989: Savings & loan scandal
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait
1991: Recession
1992: Record budget deficit
1993: Clinton health care plan
1994: Rising interest rates
1995: Dollar at historic lows
1996: Greenspan "irrational exuberance" speech
1997: Asian markets collapse
1998: Long Term Capital collapses
1999: Y2K problem
2000: Dot-com stocks plunge
2001: Terrorist attacks
2002: Corporate scandals
2003: Gulf War II
2004: High oil prices
2005: Trade deficit - KATRINA hits
2006: Commodity prices spike- T buys BLS
2007: New Fed Chair, inflation, energy, metals, int’l

Now consider the following;

SAVERS PROCESS THE FUTURE THROUGH THE EMOTION OF FEAR.
INVESTORS PROCESS THE FUTURE THROUGH THE EMOTION OF FAITH.
SAVERS THINK THAT PAPER MONEY HAS REAL VALUE, IE. A $100 BILL.
INVESTORS KNOW THAT PAPER MONEY IS ONLY A MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE.
HARD CURRENCY IS NOT A STORE OF VALUE, PURCHASING POWER OF MONEY IS.
SAVERS THINK THAT LONG TERM RISK IS THE LOSS OF PRINCIPLE.
INVESTORS KNOW THAT LONG TERM RISK IS OUTLIVING YOUR MONEY.
REMEMBER, THE CPI OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS HAS TRIPLED, WHO TRIPLES THEIR INCOME? RISK IS THE EXTINCTION OF THEIR PURCHASING POWER. SAFETY IS INCREASING THEIR PURCHASING POWER.
SAVERS DO NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOSS AND FLUCTUATION. INVESTORS KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
IF THE MARKET INDICES FALL 25%, THAT DOES NOT MEAN A LOSS OF 25%.
IF YOU DON’T PANIC, THERE IS NO LOSS. IF YOU DO NOT SELL, YOU HAVE NO LOSS.

THE DOWNS IN THE STOCK HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TEMPORARY. ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. THE UPS IN THE STOCK MARKET HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PERMANENT, ALWAYS HAVE BEEN.

THE REAL RISK IN STOCKS IS NOT OWNING THEM. THE LACK OF INTELLIGENCE IS NOT THE SAVERS DOWNFALL. FEAR AND THE LACK OF STOCK OWNERSHIP IS!

Stocks solve long-term problems and should be owned for the long haul. If you are going to puke them up every time America stumbles into a mild recession or correction you deserve your investment fate. Listen up and pay attention here. At the end of an investor’s life, less than 5% of total lifetime return will come from what the investments did versus other investments. The other 95% will come from how the investor behaved. I have a firm belief that there is no relationship between investment performance and investor performance. Stock market success is a function of two things: first, recognition that the markets will go down and sometimes go down a lot and two: preparation to regard those declines as either non-events or buying opportunities, and never as an occasion to sell in a panic.

With all certainty, the most boring and mediocre stock fund in your portfolio, the one that you hold onto during a vicious and severe bear market is infinitely better than that world-class stock fund that you sell out of at the bottom of a temporary decline.

Now, if your serious retirement portfolio is making you feel uneasy and you feel it needs professional, unbiased attention, let’s talk for a moment on what you might do. The first thing you should do would be to shut off CNBC. I hope someday CNBC will be required by law to flash on the TV screen a graphic that says “Nothing that happens in the market in the next 30 days will matter in 10 or 15 years”.

You also might want to stop reading the financial press. Yes, I read three papers every morning before the average guy gets out of bed, but journalism always gets it wrong. It has a relentless bias to the negative. I call it financial pornography. Reporters never report my reasons the stock market is headed up in our lifetime and it isn’t the job of journalists to make people great investors. It’s their job to make people come back for more journalism.

The simple lesson to remember is that markets are not logical or reasonable; they are emotional and unstable. Markets are crowds of people. As we know from attending sporting events or concerts, the normal rules of behavior do not apply when we are in large groups. If we try to predict what a crowd will do based on logical behavior of a single person in isolation we will most likely be mislead. And so it goes with the stock market.

Today the black boxes at a handful of firms scan the exchange order books every millisecond and automatically execute algorithmic trades, ripping any conceivable advantage away from the public. They are the casino, with structurally embedded multi-billion annual profits — leaving everyone else on the other side of the zero-sum game. We think that sitting and doing cold and hard calculations on valuation levels and the reasonableness of gains is as futile as predicting what a teenager might do at a rock concert. The market is not an exercise in calculus. It is primarily an experiment in crowd psychology.

Today, stocks are on sale, we are in a recession and stocks are down to more attractive buying levels. Stay the course, stay smart and keep contributing to your 401-k. And don't forget one thing. I've never met a successful pessimist.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wall Street's Con Artists to the end.........

WASHINGTON - Days from becoming the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Lehman Brothers steered millions to departing executives even while pleading for a federal rescue, Congress was told Monday. As well, executives who feared for their bonuses in the company's last months were told not to worry, according to documents cited at a congressional hearing. One executive said he was embarrassed when employees suggested that Lehman executives forgo bonuses, and cracked: "I'm not sure what's in the water."

The first hearing into what caused the nation's financial markets to collapse last month, precipitating a $700 billion bailout, opened with finger-pointing and glimpses into internal company documents from Lehman's chaotic last hours.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the giant investment bank was "a company in which there was no accountability for failure." Lehman's collapse set off a panic that within days had President Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson asking Congress to pass the rescue plan for the financial sector.

Richard S. Fuld Jr., chief executive officer of Lehman Brothers, declared to the committee "I take full responsibility for the decisions that I made and for the actions that I took." He defended his actions as "prudent and appropriate" based on information he had at the time.

"I feel horrible about what happened," he said.

Waxman questioned Fuld on whether it was true he took home some $480 million in compensation since 2000, and asked: "Is that fair?"

Fuld took off his glasses, held them, and looked uncomfortable. He said his compensation was not quite that much.

"We had a compensation committee that spent a tremendous amount of time making sure that the interests of the executives and the employees were aligned with shareholders," he said. Fuld said he took home over $300 million in those years — some $60 million in cash compensation.

Waxman read excerpts from Lehman documents in which a recommendation that top management should forgo bonuses was apparently brushed aside. He also cited a Sept. 11 request to Lehman's compensation board that three executives leaving the company be given $20 million in "special payments."

"In other words, even as Mr. Fuld was pleading with Secretary Paulson for a federal rescue, Lehman continued to squander millions on executive compensation," Waxman said before Fuld appeared as a witness.

The government let Lehman go under Sept. 15, only to bail out insurance giant American International Group the next day, in a cascading series of financial shocks and failures that put Washington on track for the multibillion-dollar rescue starting the end of that week.

Waxman described that plan as a life-support measure. "It may keep our economy from collapsing but it won't make it healthy again," he said.

That sentiment echoed on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrials sank below 10,000 on Monday for the first time in four years. Investors fear the crisis will weigh down the global economy and the bailout won't work quickly to loosen credit markets.

The rescue plan, now law, was so rushed that the usual congressional scrutiny is only coming now, after the fact.

"Although it comes too late to help Lehman Brothers, the so-called bailout program will have to make wrenching choices, picking winners and losers from a shattered and fragile economic landscape," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the committee's senior Republican.

Waxman said that in January, Fuld and his board were warned the company's "liquidity can disappear quite fast."

Despite that warning, he said, "Mr. Fuld depleted Lehman's capital reserves by over $10 billion through year-end bonuses, stock buybacks, and dividend payments."

Waxman quoted Fuld as saying in one document, "Don't worry" to the suggestion that executives go without bonuses.

That suggestion came from Lehman's money management subsidiary, Neuberger Berman. Waxman quoted George H. Walker, President Bush's cousin and a Lehman executive who oversaw some Neuberger Berman employees, as responding with a dismissive tone to the idea of going without bonuses.

"Sorry team," he wrote to the executive committee, according to Waxman. "I'm not sure what's in the water at 605 Third Avenue today.... I'm embarrassed and I apologize."

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said: "I wonder how he sleeps at night."

Fuld said in his statement that the company did everything it could to limits its risks and save itself.

"In the end, despite all our efforts, we were overwhelmed, others were overwhelmed, and still other institutions would have been overwhelmed had the government not stepped in to save them," he said.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The 1999 Clinton Administration.........

"In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring. Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits......'Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.'' (Frank Raines statement)......By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings....In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Monday, September 29, 2008

Election year.........

Folks, it is an election year. The people have let their views be known via those Congressmen and women who are up for reelection this fall.

Barney Frank blaming the Republicans is great comedy. Look, America needs to shut down these politicians. Congress needs term limits and they need them now. They need to shut off the spigots of the lobbyists. Congress, Wall Street and the inept regulators (SEC, FINRA) are all to blame besides those ungodly Americans who did all the lying on their mortgage applications the past few years. The government is not the answer. Government got us into this mess. Maybe they should legislate the Community Reinvestment Act out of existence for starters.

The stock market looks to be trading just fine. Sellers are meeting buyers at lower prices.

The Democratic leaderships response to this vote is as expected. Priceless rhetoric blaming everyone but themselves. Listening to these Congressmen tell the media about how hard they worked all weekend up until 1 a.m. on Sunday morning is also great comedy. Just the hours of about any small business person in America.

Friday, September 26, 2008

History repeats itself..................

The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled; public debt should be reduced; and the arrogance of public officials should be controlled. -- Cicero, 106-43 B.C.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Soros: Just Say No To Blank Check ‘Hanky’ Panky

Hank Paulson’s $700bn rescue package has run into difficulty on Capitol Hill. Rightly so: it was ill-conceived. Congress would be abdicating its responsibility if it gave the Treasury secretary a blank cheque. The bill submitted to Congress even had language in it that would exempt the secretary’s decisions from review by any court or administrative agency – the ultimate fulfillment of the Bush administration’s dream of a unitary executive.

Mr Paulson’s record does not inspire the confidence necessary to give him discretion over $700bn. His actions last week brought on the crisis that makes rescue necessary. On Monday he allowed Lehman Brothers to fail and refused to make government funds available to save AIG. By Tuesday he had to reverse himself and provide an $85bn loan to AIG on punitive terms. The demise of Lehman disrupted the commercial paper market. A large money market fund “broke the buck” and investment banks that relied on the commercial paper market had difficulty financing their operations. By Thursday a run on money market funds was in full swing and we came as close to a meltdown as at any time since the 1930s. Mr Paulson reversed again and proposed a systemic rescue.

Mr Paulson had got a blank cheque from Congress once before. That was to deal with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. His solution landed the housing market in the worst of all worlds: their managements knew that if the blank cheques were filled out they would lose their jobs, so they retrenched and made mortgages more expensive and less available. Within a few weeks the market forced Mr Paulson’s hand and he had to take them over.

Mr Paulson’s proposal to purchase distressed mortgage-related securities poses a classic problem of asymmetric information. The securities are hard to value but the sellers know more about them than the buyer: in any auction process the Treasury would end up with the dregs. The proposal is also rife with latent conflict of interest issues. Unless the Treasury overpays for the securities, the scheme would not bring relief. But if the scheme is used to bail out insolvent banks, what will the taxpayers get in return?

Barack Obama has outlined four conditions that ought to be imposed: an upside for the taxpayers as well as a downside; a bipartisan board to oversee the process; help for the homeowners as well as the holders of the mortgages; and some limits on the compensation of those who benefit from taxpayers’ money. These are the right principles. They could be applied more effectively by capitalising the institutions that are burdened by distressed securities directly rather than by relieving them of the distressed securities.
The injection of government funds would be much less problematic if it were applied to the equity rather than the balance sheet. $700bn in preferred stock with warrants may be sufficient to make up the hole created by the bursting of the housing bubble. By contrast, the addition of $700bn on the demand side of an $11,000bn market may not be sufficient to arrest the decline of housing prices.

Something also needs to be done on the supply side. To prevent housing prices from overshooting on the downside, the number of foreclosures has to be kept to a minimum. The terms of mortgages need to be adjusted to the homeowners’ ability to pay.
The rescue package leaves this task undone. Making the necessary modifications is a delicate task rendered more difficult by the fact that many mortgages have been sliced up and repackaged in the form of collateralised debt obligations. The holders of the various slices have conflicting interests. It would take too long to work out the conflicts to include a mortgage modification scheme in the rescue package. The package can, however, prepare the ground by modifying bankruptcy law as it relates to principal residences.

Now that the crisis has been unleashed a large-scale rescue package is probably indispensable to bring it under control. Rebuilding the depleted balance sheets of the banking system is the right way to go. Not every bank deserves to be saved, but the experts at the Federal Reserve, with proper supervision, can be counted on to make the right judgments. Managements that are reluctant to accept the consequences of past mistakes could be penalised by depriving them of the Fed’s credit facilities. Making government funds available should also encourage the private sector to participate in recapitalising the banking sector and bringing the financial crisis to a close.

The writer is chairman of Soros Fund Management

Native American Advisors CHIPPEWA PARTNERS

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CHIPPEWA PARTNERS, Native American Advisors, Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor, founded by Dean Thomas Parisian in 1995. The firm is a manager to an exclusive clientele and is closed to new clients. As a Registered Investment Advisor, our expertise developed over 35 years balances experience, integrity and tremendous work ethic. Dean Parisian is a member at the White Earth Reservation of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, a former NYSE and FINRA arbitrator and trader who began his career with Kidder Peabody and later worked for Drexel Burnham Lambert in LaJolla, CA. His philanthropic interest is in Native American education and he's endowed a significant scholarship for Native Americans at the University of Minnesota. His greatest accomplishment includes raising two sons and 26 years of marriage. The Parisian family enjoys outdoor pursuits at Pamelot, their farm in Tennessee and at the Ghost Ranch, their ranch on the Yellowstone River in Montana. For media requests contact the firm via email: ChippewaPartners (at) gmail dot com, on Twitter: @DeanParisian. Global 404-202-8173