Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where Are They Now?

Here is a quick look into three former Fannie Mae executives who have brought down Wall Street.

Franklin Raines was a Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Fannie Mae. Raines was forced to retire from his position with Fannie Mae when auditing discovered severe irregulaties in Fannie Mae's accounting activities. At the time of his departure The Wall Street Journal noted, " Raines, who long defended the company's accounting despite mounting evidence that it wasn't proper, issued a statement late Tuesday conceding that "mistakes were made" and saying he would assume responsibility as he had earlier promised. News reports indicate the company was under growing pressure from regulators to shake up its management in the wake of findings that the company's books ran afoul of generally accepted accounting principles for four years." Fannie Mae had to reduce its surplus by $9 billion.

Raines left with a "golden parachute valued at $240 Million in benefits.

The Government filed suit against Raines when the depth of the accounting scandal became clear. . The Government noted, "The 101 charges reveal how the individuals improperly manipulated earnings to maximize their bonuses, while knowingly neglecting accounting systems and internal controls, misapplying over twenty accounting principles and misleading the regulator and the public. The Notice explains how they submitted six years of misleading and inaccurate accounting statements and inaccurate capital reports that enabled them to grow Fannie Mae in an unsafe and unsound manner." These charges were made in 2006. The Court ordered Raines to return $50 Million Dollars he received in bonuses based on the miss-stated Fannie Mae profits.

Tim Howard - Was the Chief Financial Officer of Fannie Mae. Howard "was a strong internal proponent of using accounting strategies that would ensure a "stable pattern of earnings" at Fannie. In everyday English - he was cooking the books. The Government Investigation determined that, "Chief Financial Officer, Tim Howard, failed to provide adequate oversight to key control and reporting functions within Fannie Mae,"

On June 16, 2006, Rep. Richard Baker, R-La., asked the Justice Department to investigate his allegations that two former Fannie Mae executives lied to Congress in October 2004 when they denied manipulating the mortgage-finance giant's income statement to achieve management pay bonuses. Investigations by federal regulators and the company's board of directors since concluded that management did manipulate 1998 earnings to trigger bonuses. Raines and Howard resigned under pressure in late 2004.

Howard's Golden Parachute was estimated at $20 Million!

Jim Johnson - A former executive at Lehman Brothers and who was later forced from his position as Fannie Mae CEO. A look at the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's May 2006 report on mismanagement and corruption inside Fannie Mae, and you'll see some interesting things about Johnson. Investigators found that Fannie Mae had hidden a substantial amount of Johnson's 1998 compensation from the public, reporting that it was between $6 million and $7 million when it fact it was $21 million." Johnson is currently under investigation for taking illegal loans from Countrywide while serving as CEO of Fannie Mae.

Johnson's Golden Parachute was estimated at $28 Million.


Raines works for the Obama Campaign as Chief Economic Advisor

Howard is also a Chief Economic Advisor to Obama

Johnson hired as a Senior Obama Finance Advisor and was selected to run Obama's Vice Presidential Search Committee

(Our thanks to whoever put this together! For more information about the results of the actions of these individuals, plus shedding some light about who in Congress let them get by with it, see this article.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Terrestrial Energy

I just finished reading a recently-released book entitled "Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey" by William Tucker.

The title tips you off to the premise of the book, but if you're anti-nuke, don't let that deter you from at least learning about the alternatives to nuclear. This book has the most comprehensive coverage of ALL our energy options, both historically and today, than any I've run across.

Those options include oil, shale oil, natural gas, coal, coal gasification, hydro, wind, solar and all are treated in a very even-handed, pro vs. con manner.

I was initially somewhat skeptical of the premise when it appeared he was buying into the man-made global warm hype. But I must say his discussion of BOTH sides of the global warming debate was the most comprehensive and unbiased I've read. Kudos to the author for being willing to wade into that quagmire and do so without overly tilting the scale towards his bias.

Equally important is the fact he doesn't try to shy away from or sweep under the rug the two events that have done the most damage to nuclear power's image: Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

He tackles both head-on and honestly reveals the shortcomings, both technologically as well as the human factors, that resulted in those accidents. He also addresses what's been done to make sure those types of accidents cannot happen again, at least in the responsible free world.

If you have an interest in our current energy predicament, you need to read this book. It will poke holes in alot of the myths perpetrated by the greenies (both for alternatives and against nuclear) and will leave you with an honest assessment of all our options.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Continues Break with Republicans

Colin Powells recent endorsement of Obama continues his long-time break with the Republican party.

As a career military man, it's hard to understand his alignment with the party committed to dismantling our military, both in material assets and in morale.

He cites Obama as a "transformational figure" as a basis for his endorsement. If by that he means someone who might transform America the Republic into America the Socialist state, I would have to agree. Beyond that Obama is just your traditional Chicago-mob politician brought to a national scale.

As the former Secretary of State, Obama's stated positions on critical foreign policy matters (i.e. no pre-conditions to meeting with Iran, Iran as a "tiny" state that poses no threat to the U.S., etc.) should be enough to recognize any "transformation" will not be for the better.

At one point Powell was looked upon as a potential presidential candidate. That may still be (he's far more qualified for the position than Obama will likely ever be), but at this point it would pretty difficult to win support from any Republican. But I suspect Republican support is the last thing on Powell's mind these days.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Palin on SNL: Lending some Class to the Classless

Twenty years ago, I was a huge Saturday Night Live fan. Back in the day of Belushi and Akroyd, it was hilarious. It exuded creativity and talent.

Watching it tonight for the first time in years, I was struck by how far it has fallen from its former greatness.

The majority of it isn't even funny. Much of it smacks of Jr. High study hall humor.

I mean, entire skit built around calling each other "fart face." Wow. Creative.

That said, I must say Palin came off as extremely polished. She was funny, gracious, pretty and so dang likable.

I'm sure her appearance drew massive crowds of Lefties hoping to see her make a fool of herself. Instead, they saw a very cool, very poised woman who exuded class while still coming off as very down-to-earth.

It's gotta be driving them nuts about now.

Go, Sarah, go!

(P.S. This episode of SNL had the highest ratings in 14 years! Do you think there's some interest in Palin?)

McCain's Missed Opportunities

It's so frustrating.

You see a beautiful hanging curvball drifting right toward McCain's bat and he just stands there readjusting his bat as the ump calls another strike.

The most recent missed opportunites were last night on David Letterman.

First, Dave made a quip about his show not being important. That one was ripe for a good swat out of the park. (Letterman's show is NOT that important!) But instead, McCain just smiled and apologized.

Oh, well.

But then he missed the the best opportunity.

Letterman jumped on the leftist rant about Sarah Palin's qualifications and whether if, God forbid, something should happen to McCain would she be ready to step into the Presidency?

McCain launched in the same old, true but boring rhetoric he's used before, describing her history as a reformer who stood up to her own party's governor.

What he SHOULD have done was simply point out that she had more executive experience that he, Obama and Biden have combined. If people think Obama's qualified, Palin should be considered triple-qualified.

What a shame. Time and time again he's offered up these great opportunities to point out the true weaknesses on the other side while highlighting the strengths of his side, and he squanders them.

Is this some misguided attempt to be Mr. Nice Guy?

Someone needs to remind him that Nice Guys often do finish last.

Obama: Blame Bush for Obscene Profits

I just heard a clip of Obama decrying the record profits of the oil companies under Bush.

As if Bush had one iota of influence over the world's oil markets!

Only a socialist liberal can find fault with publicly held companies realizing record profits for the benefit of their shareholders.

Here's a couple of quick facts to consider: From 1980 to 2005 the oil companies paid $2.2 Trillion dollars in taxes.

Those taxes amounted to three times the profits for the same period of time.

So, when you hear Obama complaining about the oil companies' profits remember that the government has taken $3 from them for every $1 they distributed to their shareholders.

So who is it that's really raking in the "obscene" profits?

Lesson Learned From Campaign Signs

Consistent with every previous political season, our landscape today is littered with campaign signs for politicians of every flavor. You get a sense of a particular neighborhood by the distribution of opposing signs.

But I've been noting a troubling trend over the last few weeks.

I'm noticing an amazing number of McCain/Palin posters that are either defaced or physically damaged. I keep looking for similar signs of vandalism on Obama signs but have yet to see one that has been defaced.

I've also been reading and hearing of McCain/Palin signs being stolen from yards. Three first-hand accounts have been shared with me, and I've heard similar tales told by callers on both local and national talk radio programs.

I think therein lies a lesson.

In spite of all their talk about being the party of tolerance and diversity, the reality is that Democrats as a whole are a whole lot less tolerant of different view points than the Republicans.

It also points to a moral deficit in many (not all, but many) of those who adhere to the Democrat point of view.

I guess you could argue that it's consistent with their overall attitude that what's theirs is theirs and what's yours is theirs, too. If they can take your money from you at the point of a gun, why not your campaign signs?

It bodes ill for a Democrat controlled government. Hold onto your wallet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Understanding Community Organizers

So what exactly is a "Community Organizer?" That question has been asked time and time again since Barack Obama arrived on the national political scene using that experience as the basis for his qualificaitons to be President of the United States.

Lately we're learning more about "community organizers" through a community organizer association with ties to Obama. The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) has been making headlines again recently, enlightening America to what a "community organizer" really does.

It seems the job of a community organizer is to round up homeless people and drug addicts and drag them to the polls to vote for their favorite liberal candidate. ACORN is now being investigated in a dozen states for blatant voter fraud. The number of irregularities is mounting up.

In Nevada, they were registering the entire Dallas Cowboys football team to vote in Nevada....despite none of them actually living, or even being, in Nevada!

Now, that's some very creative community organizing!

Seems to me Barack is bringing good old Chicago-style politics to the national level.

Chicago for years has been notorious for entire graveyards voting a straight Democratic ticket year after year after year.

When I was on the faculty of a Chicago law school back in the late 80's a colleague said that out of random curiousity she did a check of her precinct voting records. She was surprised to find her ex-husband had continued to vote a straight Democratic ticket each of the previous dozen or so years since their divorce, despite the fact he had relocated to another state shortly after their divorce.

You have to appreciate people who truly value the democratic principles upon which our republic was founded. Little things like the sanctity of the vote, etc.

Once again, Obama is showing us he represents "change", but not the kind of change anyone who loves this country actually wants or needs.