Stormy Monday, 9/16/13

StormyMondayNow that Congressional Republicans have slunk back from their extended and entirely undeserved late summer holidays, they have a lot of catching up to do in their continuing efforts to make pretty much everything worse for everybody except the wealthy, and eventually even for them. Look for a bill to be introduced this week that would double the $20 billion in SNAP cuts over 10 years previously endorsed by the House Agriculture Committee and reintroduce work requirements for eligibility in an economy where the official jobless rate is still north of 7.5%. Look for renewed efforts to kill federal nutrition programs. Look for a measure to erode federal standards and increase timber harvesting in national forests. Look for more blather about a spending resolution, and a possible government shutdown. Listen for exploding irony meters across DC on Wednesday when the Joint Economic Committee convenes a hearing titled, “The Economic Costs of Debt-Ceiling Brinkmanship.”

Sybrina Fulton, mother of murder victim Trayvon Martin, will testify Tuesday at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on “stand your ground” laws. Senators will offer condolences to Ms. Fulton, listen politely to her remarks, ask a few questions, make sympathetic noises, then head for the nearest Capitol Hill steakhouse to try and forget, over Wagyu medallions and merlot, just how heartrending their jobs can be sometimes.

Lest newer and even more egregiously contrived pseudo-scandals fail to hobble the Obama Administration, this week the House GOP also revisits – wait for it – Benghazigate, with exciting new hearings by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The former is designed to ferret out previously unidentified State Department scapegoats, while the theme of the latter is “unanswered questions,” although really the only unanswered question still remaining is how much longer Boehner’s Complainers can keep up this obsessive/compulsive inquisition.

Speaking of scandals, you might have noticed that this column didn’t appear last week. I was busy buying duct tape and plastic sheeting in advance of a world war triggered by Barack W. Obama and John Kerry, his bumbling rube of a Secretary of State. Miraculously, after their bellicose mishandling of the Syrian crisis exposed the United States as a bloodthirsty rogue state and international pariah, that nice Mr. Putin came along and insisted on a diplomatic solution, thereby pulling Obama’s incompetent ass out of the deep fryer. Thank God we have the internet to keep us all informed, huh?

Back on Earth, the details of a chemical weapons agreement were finalized in Geneva on Saturday. Kerry then visited Israel over the weekend, eliciting a statement of support for the deal from the Netanyahu government, and will meet Monday in Paris with top diplomats from France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UK.

Meanwhile, some Republican Congressional grandees are already rushing to proclaim that the US/Russia accord over Syria sucks ostrich eggs and needs to be toughened, while still others are magically rebranding themselves as principled peaceniks. And the Wall Street Journal weighed in Saturday with a cheery analysis of the deal’s probability of failure. Guess I’ll keep the duct tape handy. Continue reading Stormy Monday, 9/16/13

Bailey a Suicide After Fed Rejects Bailout for Building & Loan

Paulson, Bernanke Deflect Criticism
 
[Reprinted from Dec. 2008 -- MERRY CHRISTMAS ( & 'A Wonderful Holiday') TO ALL...]

The sudden, tragic end of a banking icon sent shudders through a shocked nation yesterday as the depth of the current mortgage crisis hit home, even to millions who have so far been unaffected.

George Bailey was, for over 60 years, the ‘kind face’ of the mortgage industry. His story inspired three generations following the success of the 1946 Frank Capra movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”, the bio-pic that told the story of Bailey’s early life and his struggle, against seemingly insurmountable odds, to save his beloved Building & Loan during a much more localized lending crisis in the small town where his father had founded the bank when Bailey was a small child.

Bailey, with wife Mary and daughter Zuzu, in happier times.
Bailey in happier times, with wife Mary and daughter Zuzu.

After receiving the news that the Building & Loan would not be allocated any emergency funding from the $700 billion set aside by the Federal government, Mr. Bailey reportedly jumped off of a local bridge into the frigid river below. His lifeless body was discovered some time later, ironically by local sheriff Bert Steward, III whose grandfather, ‘Officer Bert’ Steward (portrayed by Ward Bond in the Capra film) once helped to rescue Bailey from a similar attempt.

“Unfortunately, nobody was there to intervene this time,” Bailey’s daughter Zuzu told reporters through a family spokesman. “This time, the bell will be ringing for daddy.”

Even before the news of Bailey’s death became known, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came under heavy fire from all quarters when they announced that there would be no lifeline for the struggling Building & Loan. Continue reading Bailey a Suicide After Fed Rejects Bailout for Building & Loan