Tim Geithner; Retention, Rewards, and Krugman Realizations

DN!>Paul Krugman (12) on $1 Trillion Geithner Plan to Buy Toxic Bank Assets

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Negotiations began in November.  Decisions were reached during the month of December.  By January, a retention bonus was awarded to the individual considered most superlative within the staff.  President Barack Obama presented the gift.  American International Group, Incorporated [AIG] executives did not receive the windfall.  Nor did someone “separate” from the previous President garner the honors.  Gold was not placed at the door of a New Deal Democrat.  No, dollars and command were delivered to a truly Progressive person.    Insider, Timothy Geithner was the recipient of a title that would sustain his service.  Mister Geithner was given a reward that was worth far more than mere millions in greenbacks.  Power and influence are priceless.

President Obama granted these “commodities” to one who worked to ensure banks and other financial institutions would continue to flourish just as they had in the Bush Era.  Now, the man with copious clout, wants more.

Indeed, Tim Geithner has already taken the reigns.  He has worked to set more rules.  Separate from Congressional approval for increased authority, and regardless of what regulatory standards the House and Senate might pass, Secretary Geithner, happily ensconced in President Obama’s favor, has begun to broaden his horizons.  He expresses his expansive preeminence, and all are a twitter.

New-found fame, a brighter, well-funded future befits the man whose face now appears everywhere.  Greater authority is as Tim Geithner was groomed to acquire.  Indeed, Secretary Geithner grew accustomed to attention and awards.

Perhaps, Timothy Geithner’s desire for further recompense, economically or emotionally, began when he was but a boy.  In his youth, the now Secretary of Treasury saw what could be wrought if one was well-connected.  His lineage allowed him to look into a world of affluence and advantages.  

Maternal grandfather, Charles F. Moore, was an adviser to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Mister Moore also served as a Vice President of Ford Motor Company.  “Dad,” Peter F. Geithner, was with the Ford Foundation.  Tim Geithner’s father oversaw the project that Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother gave birth to.  Stanley Ann Soetoro and Tim’s Dad, developed microfinance programs in Indonesia.

This association alone might have helped Mister Geithner realize his path to the White House.  Some theorize, President Obama and Tim Geithner formed an invisible bond, one that ties them together today

Money, power, and privilege were given to Timothy Geithner from birth.  The more the lad “earned,” the more he hoped to receive in return.  A graduate of Dartmouth and John Hopkins, initially Tim Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates, Incorporated.  He then entered government, just as his forebears had.  Geithner first joined the Department of Treasury in 1988 and worked in three administrations for five Secretaries of the Treasury in a variety of positions.  He served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 1999 to 2001.  He was Director of the Policy Development and Review Department at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 until 2003.  Then, he headed the New York Reserve.  He befriended the acclaimed Economist Professor Paul Krugman.  The two are associates within The Group of Thirty, a Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs.  It is no wonder President Obama was impressed and wanted to retain the financial expertise of one so esteemed.

Previously, the Secretary had succeeded, even exceeded expectations.  With each step, the esteemed Economic wizard takes, greater gratitude and gilt are given.  Hence, he moves forward.

Secretary Geithner addressed Congress on March 24, 2009.  He and his cohort, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke affirmed a need to be endowed with exceptional authority.  The two concurred.  The AIG catastrophe confirmed “a basic and tragic unfairness – that those who were prudent and responsible in their personal and professional judgments are harmed by the actions of those who were less careful and less prudent.”  Many would agree.  

On paper, the proposed request for increased control over financial institutions, other than banks, seems reasonable.  If Congress approves of the strategy, Federal authorities could seize a failed fiscal establishment.  Many believe the measures are long overdue.  However, several hesitate.  When they consider the fact, Secretary Geithner might be the person to decide the fate of these firms countless express concern.  Perchance, he is not the person to have or hold such extensive power.  

Esteemed Economist, and colleague Paul Krugman expressed disappointment after Mister Geithner revealed his bailout plan.  Nobel Prize recipient Krugman wrote in The New York Times, “”In fact it fills me with a sense of despair.”

“The Geithner scheme would offer a one-way bet: if asset values go up, the investors profit, but if they go down, the investors can walk away from their debt,” the Princeton University Economist explained, as he cited specifics within the proposed strategy.

Might the man Professor Krugman long admired not be competent to oversee the fringe financial institutions? Those who were uncertain Tim Geithner was ever the best, the brightest, or the person to be retained, are now joined by others who originally had confidence in the now Secretary of Treasury.  Since the appointment, and ample intangible appropriations were bestowed upon Secretary Geithner, the choice issue may be a moot point.  Only the battle for a bigger role, increased responsibility to regulate remains a subject of contention.

The Obama Administration, mostly through Tim Geithner, has compared the proposed process to the work of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  This favored institution protects depositors from bank failures.  Regulators can take control of a troubled depository, place it under the authority of the FDIC, and then, quickly, and competently, restructure the reserve

Perhaps, that is the most significant difference.  With consideration of the current economic crisis, and crucial assessments, the Secretary made prior to this plea for greater rule, Timothy Geithner showed no evidence of being swift or skilled in his ability to seize the moment or reign in American Insurance Group’s excesses.

As the former president of the New York Federal Reserve, Mister Geithner is the one Obama Administration official who is associated with the Bush-era bailouts.  Once AIG was under Federal control, public servants say, compensation arrangements were rarely, if ever, discussed.  In December, long before Tim Geithner received his own abundant reward, an initial $55 million in bonuses was delivered to the Insurance Group executives.  

At the time, the glorious Geithner did not decry the greed.  Indeed, even on this date late in March 2009, as he answered questions before the House Financial Services Committee, Secretary Geithner stated, “It’s a difficult balance.”  He then further explained his belief; the government should not dictate detailed executive compensation limits to bankers.  Timothy Geithner empathized with those who had been given retention bonuses.  Indeed, while he did not give voice to the thought, the Secretary understood, he too was a very recent beneficiary of such graciousness.

Perhaps, opponents of greater government oversight appreciated the more individualist posture Treasury Secretary Geithner presented. However, a few felt a vital veracity must be pondered.  An individual Presidential appointee [Geithner], and an agency [FDIC] with ample autonomy, are not one and the same.

Intentionally, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, unlike the Treasury Department, was designed to be separate from the political process.  The bureau acts in accordance to law.  Should Congress consent to the Geithner request, a person who is profoundly affiliated with a partial, political body, would have the authority to take possession of a business that displeases the White House.  Granted, supporters assure those who challenge the proposal, only corporations in crisis would be seized.  Nevertheless, dissenters declare, corporate collusion with government insiders would remains a concern.  A poorly regulated financial institution potentially would corrupt the government [further?].

Policy-wonks state, the power to take over banks or other alternative financial entities need be part of a broader regulatory structure.  Limits are set on the risks that economic establishments can take.  Therefore, the need for seizures is, and must be, more fully linked to violations.  The Obama Administration has expressed a desire to increase regulations on firms that might be eligible for seizure under the proposed law.  However, specifics have yet to be furnished.  

For now, the focus remains solely on the Treasury Secretary.  Tim Geithner seeks greater power than was given to him in the form of a gift, his title.

Unequivocally, Tim Geithner has received many accolades.  Perchance, he was and is deserving.  Secretary Geithner offered a welcome plan to resolve the mortgage meltdown the day before his most recent plea.  Wall Street applauded the strategy, as evidenced by a record rise in stocks.  The headlines for the long-anticipated program that would remove bank toxic assets and revive the financial system, bedazzled those with money to spend.  Rescue Plan, With Fine Print, Dazzles Wall Street. Urged on by his success, Secretary Geithner had reason to  hope he could garner greater authority.  Those with big bucks see his increased powers as a bonus.

Yet, the apprehension Nobel Prize Economist, Paul Krugman expressed on March 23, 2009, the day before this recent hearing hangs over the head of Treasury Secretary Geithner. Thankfully, rancor for the subprime solution seems to receive less attention, at least amongst the House Financial Services Committee.  Possibly, acrimony over Geithner’s past performances is also forgotten.

For a time it seemed Professor Krugman too had been willing to forgive and forget.  There was a time the Princeton Professor was with those who sanctioned the selection of Tim Geithner to Treasury.  Doctor Krugman had thought as President Obama did; Tim Geithner should be retained.  His mere presence in the Administration would be a worthy bonus.  Only months ago, Krugman approved of Geithner and his work.  In his article, The grown-ups are coming, the stellar observer of economic policy sardonically noted the Tim Geithner was an improvement in contrast to the  Bush Best and the Brightest.  

Paul Krugman spoke highly of his associate from The Group of Thirty, a Consultative Group on International Economic and Monetary Affairs.  That is, until Tim Geithner introduced his solution for toxic assets relief.

Perhaps times have changed.  Certainly, there is reason to think Timothy Geithner has not.  Nonetheless, earlier impressions and associations formed long ago linger in the present.

The New York Times Columnist and Economist publicly offered his “Despair over financial policy.” However, in a recent interview with Democracy Now’s, Amy Goodman, Krugman was reluctant to say the person who ascribes to lemon socialism, Timothy Geithner must go.

Paul Krugman as others may not have yet come to terms with contradictory views of the man who now Heads the Treasury.

Prior to the prize bequeathed on Mister  Geithner, all of his actions appeared above board and in alignment with the ethical standards President Obama set for his Cabinet.  The beneficiary of perks and power was perceived as an individual who had sacrificed much in order to serve his country.  Tim Geithner was subjected grueling to Senate hearings.  His records were scrutinized. To be certain no one would have reason to question the calculations, a highly respectable résumé was submitted.  

Before his selection, Mister Geithner served as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  In his career, he worked closely with former U.S. Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan, Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and head of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, and oh yes, venerated Economist Paul Krugman.  

Overdue taxes were paid to ensure that all appeared proper and in order.  That is, at least some of the levees never accounted for were remunerated  Other outstanding tariffs, Tim Geithner was told, need not be paid,  The statute of limitations had lapsed.

Just as had been with much else in his life, Tim would be forgiven for his forgetfulness or failures to do what most think ethical.  No one would think to inquire of the enormous sums the Head of Treasury would garner for his friends, former colleagues, and himself.  People were expected to consider the pittance he “earned” as a civil servant and be reassured, Tim Geithner is committed to the good of the country.  After all, were he still with his previous employer, investment firm Goldman-Sachs,  Secretary Geithner’s salary would have been far greater.  

The power Timothy Geithner garnered throughout his life cannot be counted.  Personal financial gains for friends, former colleagues, and himself are ample.  Influence is near infinite.  Why not, some might say, give Geithner more authority to rule.  He has “earned” it.  Perhaps, one day in a sequel to Professor Krugman’s recent tome, “America the Tarnished”, the established Economist will reject the cry, “Why not indeed.”  He might even pen prose that state more directly  Timothy Geithner, his retention, and the rewards he has already received  are a significant part of “the crisis [that] has cost America much of its credibility, and with it much of its ability to lead.”

References for a Geithner Rule to be realized . . .

Updated Reference . . .

Obama’s Strategy on Afghanistan

copyright © 2099 Jerome Grossman.  Relentless Liberal

It is difficult, even impossible, to accept President Obama’s “New strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan” as described by him in a formal speech on March 27.  It fails by imperial and non-imperial standards.

First the imperial: Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA agent, reports in his book Nemesis: “The Carter administration deliberately provoked the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  In his 1996 memoir, former CIA Director Robert Gates acknowledges that the American intelligence services began to aid the anti-Soviet mujahideen guerillas not after the Russian invasion but six months before it.  President Carter’s purpose was to provoke a full-scale Soviet military intervention to tie down the USSR.”  Will an expanded military effort in Afghanistan tie down the U.S. as it did the USSR?

Obama plans a U.S. military effort in Afghanistan lasting at least five years in a country 50% larger than Iraq in area and population.  The NATO allied forces are token in size and commitment and rarely leave their base camps.  A serious U.S. military effort will require at least 250,000 troops tied down in Afghanistan/Pakistan.  Will America be unable to react to other challenges as they arise especially its obligations, to protect Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, to deter Iran from a nuclear program, to support Pakistan from collapse; etc?

The invasion of Iraq could be justified on imperial grounds because it is strategically situated in the heart of the largest concentration of oil in the world.  Afghanistan has no comparable resource, one of the poorest countries, no industry, little farming, rugged terrain, a land of banditry and bribery.

The adventure fails from a non- imperial perspective.  Obama says “That country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.”  None of the 19 people who perpetrated the September 11 criminal tragedy were Afghan or Taliban.  Fifteen of them were Saudi.  There are no Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan any longer.  Osama bin Laden and what is left of his crew is in hiding somewhere in the wilderness of Pakistan.  The Al Qaeda operation is scattered and disorganized.  Yes, another 19 thugs could infiltrate the U.S. and kill Americans, but sending an army into Afghanistan is not going to prevent another such criminal act.  In fact, the hyped war in Afghanistan is more likely to divert us from protecting ourselves against another September 11.

  • Obama’s Strategy on Afghanistan
  • MoveOn Obama Budget

    copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    The mail arrived.  It was from MoveOn.org.  Overwhelmed with work, I thought to delete it.  I noticed the surname of the sender was the same as a friend of mine.  Only that [cosmic] coincidence led me to open the message and peruse.  I read Daniel Mintz’s words with interest, for he spoke of what I miss in the news.  Mister Mintz did not focus on the folly of a few executives at American International Group, Incorporated (AIG).  The representative  from MoveOn offered what is more real to me, an average American.

    As we’ve seen with AIG this week, the powerful don’t give up their special treatment without a fight.  They’re spending millions on lobbyists to quietly kill the provisions that would make them help pay for America’s priorities. 1 And despite all the posturing in Congress over AIG’s bonuses, too many senators are still listening to the banking and insurance lobbyists on the issues that aren’t in the headlines.

    So we need to speak louder than the lobbyists . . .

    Today’s Washington Post calls it “a populist budget” 2 because it cuts taxes for most Americans while ending unfair tax advantages for the richest among us.  The best part is that it takes all the money we’ll save and invests it in critical national priorities that will help build and strengthen the middle class.

    Obama’s budget gives tax breaks to working families instead of CEOs.  And it closes the tax loopholes for special interests that cost us billions, like:

    • The loophole that lets companies take tax breaks for sending jobs overseas.  This will save us more than $200 billion over the next decade. 3
    • The loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay a 15% tax rate on their income, instead of regular income tax like the rest of us.  That will save us more than $20 billion. 4
    • The loophole for big oil companies that gives them huge tax breaks even when they’re posting record profits, saving us more than $30 billion over the next decade. 5
    • The loophole that gives the richest Americans bigger tax breaks for their deductions.  Right now, a teacher who contributes $1,000 to the Red Cross gets a $150 tax break.  A Wall Street executive making the same contribution gets a $350 tax break. 6

    Quality references were offered for each claim.  Research for me is more real than rhetoric.  Almost as an automaton might, as I read, I reached for the telephone.  I smiled at the thought that I might respond as directed.  I called my Senator in Washington, District of Columbia.

    I was surprised when I heard a ring.  Too often, when I have attempted to connect with this individual Senator I receive a busy signal.  Bill Nelson is frequently busy, but it seems he does not always speak on my behalf.  His record on the issues that are most meaningful to me is as inconsistent as is my ability to speak with someone in his office.  I am; however, thankful that Senator Nelson, is at least closer to my truth than Senator Mel Martinez, of Florida is.

    As the phone rang and rang, I wondered, would I only have an opportunity to leave voice mail.  No; a man answered.  He said, “Senator Nelson’s office.”  I shared with the gent as I later did with MoveOn.org.  Now, I offer what was said with any reader who might wish to consider.

    In my conversation with Senator Bill Nelson’s office, I shared my name, address, and my serious concern for the constant distractions.  Rather than attend to substance, the need for green jobs, health care for all, quality education provided equally for our children, America cries of a discontent for bonuses.  While the ten percent of the AIG bailout bestowed upon the privileged in additional benefits may be important, for me, it is not the cause for my greater apprehension.  

    Tax loopholes, the levees unpaid by the wealthy, the money held back without an approval of the Obama budget, I believe these are far more significant, if we are to create other than the economic crisis we now have.  I reminded the office worker, the last Bush budget proposed was for $3.1 trillion.  That submission did not include the supplemental costs of war we all knew were coming!  In truth, I am fascinated by a fixation that promotes falsehoods.  I think the Obama financial plan is far more restrained than George W. Bush’s expenditure ever were.  

    The Senate associate listened, or so I hope.  He was extremely quiet.  He closed the conversation by saying he would pass my message on.  A perceived lack of enthusiasm on the part of the gentleman I spoke with leads me to wonder; can I or we believe much will change.

    Please, if you have not already dear reader, as a concerned citizen, would you too call your Senators, Congresspersons, anyone and everyone who might have the power to help pass the Obama budget.  I offer a few ways to locate your Representatives.

    References . . .

    Infamous Anniversary of Attack

    Global Greens 2008 – Bruce Gagnon (Maine, USA)

    copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    March 19, 2009, is a day that lives in infamy.  There were others in the past.  However, on this date six years ago, the United States launched what has come to be accepted as unwarranted attacks on Iraq.  Although, from the first, there were protests even in high places such as the Senate floor, unilaterally, Americans bombed an innocent people.  This time, for near two years prior, pretense was presented as truth.

    The American people were told by their President how dangerous the Iraqi Al Qaida terrorists were.  George W. Bush assured anxious Americans, he would protect us.  Congress was warned of what would occur if the United States did not react to the Middle Eastern threat.  Commander Bush sent a letter on March 18, 2003.  Even as his eight-year term ended, he worked to establish in the minds of historians and the electorate who had experienced all that occurred, Mister Bush kept us safe.  

    As recently as December 2008, the now former President proclaimed, a newly acquired nuance to the saga he has long recounted on the war in Iraq.  “It is true, as I have said many times, that Saddam Hussein was not connected to the 9/11 attacks.  But the decision to remove Saddam from power cannot be viewed in isolation from 9/11.”  Yet, he retained and repeated his ever-strident commitment to the combat.  “It was clear to me, to members of both political parties, and to many leaders around the world that after 9/11, this was a risk we could not afford to take.”

    Americans, many of whom are content the Bush era has passed, refer to the 9/11 Commission Report to invalidate the claims of a President who no longer resides in the White House.  Currently, countless citizens take comfort; Barack Obama presides over the Oval Office.  The just elected Commander-In-Chief has already begun to take steps to remove beleaguered troops from the embattled frontlines.  

    Since Mister Obama took office, citizens are less concerned with the war in Iraq.  Many have faith the President will do what is best for military men and women.  Some are encouraged by reports that the Commander-In-Chief will send combat soldiers stationed in Iraq home safely, or perhaps, individuals are focused on more personal realities.  Anxiety over a potential, probable, or actual job loss consumes countless Americans, more so than combat abroad does.  A pension-plan gone bust, a lack of health care coverage, and a possible home foreclosure take precedence for millions more than war.  Few of the common folk feel as troubled by occurrences in the Middle East.  Most merely hope Mister Obama will do what is best.  

    Occasional outspoken exception can be heard.  On March 12, 2009, former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleisher stated, “[A]fter September 11th, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam Hussein might not strike again?  We got a report saying al Qaeda is determined to attack the United States.”  Nonetheless, even Conservatives such as John McCain endorse President Obama’s plan for withdrawal.

    Overall, opinions on Iraq, the war and the withdrawal are mixed, even among foreign policy experts.

    Then there are the few who fear further folly in the Persian Gulf.  Progressives, be they political figures or peace activists amongst the public, think the Obama agenda to end the conflict in Iraq is too little and too late.  Official dissent is often stated diplomatically.  Personal pleas may be more moving.  

    A week before the sixth anniversary of America’s Second Gulf War, regardless of the President’s intended withdrawal everyday people stood out in the streets, just as they had done throughout the war.  ‘Iraq is a symptom of a foreign policy and priorities” that the peaceful felt and feel they cannot sanction.

    At local vigils nationwide attendees talked of their observation, verified in the news.  Americans support the President’s proposed Afghan buildup.   ”Enough!  Bring the Troops Home Now!” was the oft-heard cry from those who crave global harmony.  Most asked as they had during the fateful Bush years.  “What Do We Do Now?”

    Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons offers his perspective.  In an article published on June 14, 2007, the recipient of the Doctor Benjamin Spock’s Peacemaker Award presents his ten-point plan.

    I often hear from people asking me, “What should we do about all this?  How can we stop Bush?”

    I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush.  The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush.  Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire-building plan.  It is about corporate domination.  Bush is just the front man for the big money.

    So to me that is step #1 .

    Step #2  is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and we as citizens, benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire.  By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world’s resources.  We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base.  This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.

    Step #3  is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence.  The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery.  A veteran of George Washington’s Army, in 1779, said, “I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere..  Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire.”  The soldier wrote this as Washington’s Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River.  The creation of the American empire was underway.

    Our history since then has been endless war.  Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket.  Butler recalls in his book, “I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service….And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.  In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism….Thus I helped make Mexico and especially

    Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914.  I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.  I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street….I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912.  I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.  I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903.  In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.”

    Step # 4  We have to begin to change how we think about our country.  We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means.  I’ll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition – A government in which power is in the hands of a few.  When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do?  They must fight (non-violently) to take it back.  This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience.  Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women’s suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed.  Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today.  Are you in or out?

    Step #5  Forget the “every man for himself” mythology.  We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story.  But movement for change can only happen in community – working with others.  So forget the egocentric notion that “one great man” is going to come save us.  It’s going to take a village – in fact all the villages.  Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can’t do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children’s future.

    Step # 6  What about my job?  Another smothering myth in America is success.  Keep your nose clean and don’t rock the boat.  Don’t get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you’ve always dreamed of.  In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology.  We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination.  Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.

    Step #7  Learn to work well with others.  Sure we all want to be stars.  But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes.  Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.

    Step # 8  It’s the money.  How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage?  I’d like to help but I’ve got bills to pay!  Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time – which is protecting the future generations.  How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?

    Step # 9  Learn to read again.  Many of us don’t read enough.  We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us.  We’ve got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves.  Reading and talking to others is a key.  Read more history.  All the answers and lessons can be found there.

    Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun.  Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work.  Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.

    Mister Gagnon professes wars will be forever perpetual if we the people continue to consider our brethren an enemy.  If dominion is our preference, diplomacy will never be more than a mere word.  The public cannot blame George W. Bush or Barack Obama for its addiction to might and material goods.  Nor can we, the people expect an oligarchy to have the best interests of common folks at heart.  If consumption and competition are the principles that guide our population, battles will endure.  If peace is to ever come, as citizens, as a country, on every continent, the people must act in accordance with the principles most claim they hold dear.  Consistency, in thought and deed, can eliminate combat.

    “Love thy neighbor” cannot be said only on Sundays, on the Sabbath, or in houses of worship.  Indeed, Bruce Gagnon might avow, as other peaceful persons do, March 19, 2009 is not the sixth anniversary of a war.  It is another date that lives in infamy, as has been every day in centuries of battles fought.

    References for the reality of war . . .  

    Cramer Past Versus Cramer Present; CNBC Future

    copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    On the evening of March 12, 2009, a deal was struck.  Americans looked on.  After a week of on air battles, opponents who had earlier been seen on separate stations, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and Jim Cramer of Mad Money met face-to-face.  Bombarded with video clips financier Cramer was forced to face his past.  Much was revealed.  An arduous conversation ensued.  Confronted with his own contradictory claims, Mister Cramer promised to transform himself.  Ultimately, Comedian, Jon Stewart and the self-identified “personal guide through the confusing jungle of investing” Jim Cramer shook hands.

    Many in the audience were moved.  Countless cried; change could come to America, or at least to CNBC.  For a moment some mused; the “recognized world leader in business news” might be more than a haven for the moneyed.  Perhaps, with this agreement the network would authentically inform the public rather than invite them to invest in corporations who act in ways that are counter to the good of the country.

    Other viewers observed the pledge as tenuous.  A forlorn and beaten-down Jim Cramer, with a bit of trepidation and desire to please the public who he felt now might punish him offered his commitment.  He said he would clean-up his act.  Yet, a history of dishonesty caused some viewers to be more than a bit skeptical.  Cynics understood one man’s promise does not a vow to integrity make.  Nor does such supposed harmony eliminate the concern Jon Stewart so aptly stated.  There is a “gap between what CNBC advertises itself to be and what it is,” a means to ensure profits for favored entrepreneurs and enterprises.

    Jim Cramer, the Comedy Central host cried, it is not all about you.  Granted, for the week that preceeded this more prominent occasion, “Cramer,” as he is commonly called was the face of a message that helped to encourage an economic failure.  Nonetheless, the man, who is presented as omnipotent, “In Cramer We Trust,” is but a familiar figurehead for a network-wide dubious practice.

    Jim’s own dirty laundry was aired publicly, for a week, for he has become the familiar face of CNBC.  His antics, and what many think his arrogance, led to a focus on Jim Cramer.  The depth and deceit evident in the financial wizard’s work was easily documented.  Jon Stewart was able to quickly prove Jim Cramer, the network’s business prophet, was, at best, duplicitous.  Former, hedge-fund proprietor, Jim Cramer would speak a specific gospel one day; then, on a subsequent day, he would apologize for his error.  Countless tapes exposed “one of Wall Street’s most respected and successful money managers” Jim Cramer, was not merely mistaken, he was intentionally deceptive.

    Hence, Mister Cramer seemed to be the focus.  He screamed for more attention than his colleagues did or have done, and he received it.  Yet, again as Jon Stewart professed, the problem is the snake oil salesmanship that has become CNBC.  

    Jon Stewart said of himself, and by extension, his program, The Daily Show is labeled as entertainment.  The audience is advised; snake oil is for sale here.  Jim Cramer and his cronies, on the other hand do not advertise themselves as marketers.

    Although, admittedly, while with Jon Stewart Jim Cramer declared himself a dealer in dollars, not a teacher, an instructor, or an investment counselor.  However, he and his fellow founders of fiscal folly have not stated this truth before.  It took a barrage of videos to bring Jim Cramer to his knees.  

    On this auspicious occasion, Mad Money moderator Cramer spoke of the shenanigans in his profession.  At the same time, before the hand shake, defensively, he pleaded his case.  The CNBC professional financier, Cramer spoke of how he had exposed the mischief.  He referenced his “Wall of Shame.”  He also denied the intent of Mad Money, his exceedingly influential television show.  

    Detractors have their doubts, just as they have reservations about a commitment to change on the part of the celebrated Jim Cramer.  Those who wish for a channel that advances knowledge remain critical of a network agenda.  The have seen the damage done when a game that allows the affluent to garner greater gains is promoted.  Thus, those desirous of insightful investigative business reports on CNBC rage on.  

    People who wish to be informed on investment possibilities posit a petition, a request for a more real delivery of data.  Credo Action invites each of us to be accountable for what is on the airwaves.  If CNBC, a corporation, wants to deliver the goods, we, the people have a responsibility to tell the network what we want.  Please ponder the appeal, and sign if you choose.

    Tell CNBC: Listen to Jon Stewart and report the news.

    We know about the Bush administration turning a blind eye and refusing to regulate bad behavior.  We know about the banks that played fast and loose with our retirements, and then, when it all blew up, they took golden parachutes lined with our tax dollars.

    On March 12, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show discussed another serious problem: financial news networks like CNBC that promoted Wall Street propaganda and then blamed the financial crisis on “losers” who couldn’t make their mortgage payments.

    Stewart took on Jim Cramer of CNBC; the interview was moving, appalling, and a searing indictment that hit home for us here at CREDO.  Take a few minutes to see for yourself:

    The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

    M – Th 11p / 10c

    Jim Cramer Pt. 2

    As Stewart said, “So what it feels like to us – and I’m talking purely as a layman – it feels like we are capitalizing your adventure by our pension and our hard earned money.  And that it is a game that you know.  That you know is going on.  But that you go on television as a financial network and pretend isn’t happening.”

    Sign this petition today to tell CNBC that they should be ashamed of their behavior.  A financial news channel should investigate and report the truth, not merely air infomercials for Wall Street.

    If you can’t watch the video above, you can read a transcript by clicking here.

    Also, if you haven’t seen it already, take a few minutes to watch The Daily Show’s collection of CNBC’s worst advice.  It’s pretty insane to see how wrong the supposed “experts” were – and how happy they are to let hardworking Americans take the fall.

    It may only be a beginning, a blip on a screen.  Nonetheless, the now famous handshake between Cramer and Stewart may go down in history as the moment when honesty in broadcasting became a priority.  Perchance, change could come to CNBC if the network accepts, in America, the dustup and the economic demise never was all about Jim Cramer.  Citizens in the United States are disgusted with a system that put dollars in the pockets of the super-rich, and places the average American out on the streets.

    This is it!  The time has come.  Countless Americans say, as Jon Stewart did, we want the people, wealthy and the woefully poor, to work together for the common good.  Citizens crave a connection to a compassionate CNBC channel, a Jim Cramer who speaks with care for all comers, equally.  

    Laypersons yearn for an authentic transformation, not merely a moment captured on screen.  Those desirous of reliable investment information want Jim Cramer of the past to disappear.  They yearn to trust; snake oil will not be identified as instruction.  Citizens in this country ache for a time when a promise made on March 12, 2009 will be a reality lived day in and day out.  

    Until then, audiences will but reflect on a freeze-frame.  The average American will ponder whether the once presumed “personal guide to finance” is for real.  The people will look for someone who will not steer them down an endless economic hole.  Possibly, if Jim Cramer was transformed he could be the coveted expert.  However, if CNBC, in the present continues to be the channel it was in the past, the public may decide not to turn to the station.  Should genuine change not come to the network, perchance, Jon Stewart will become the better source for accurate reports.  Stay tuned investors.  CNBC versus CNBC may be the series yet to come.

    Reality TV References . . .

    Bush/Obama Administration?


    copyright © 2009 Forgiven.  The Disputed Truth

    The average American looks up, they distrust politicians in general and they don’t think they’ve been told the truth, and I think they got good reason. They’ve watched a Bush/Obama spending cycle that began with a stimulus package last year which failed at $180 billion, a housing package in August which fail–or July which failed at $345 billion, a Wall Street bailout at $700 billion, a Federal Reserve guarantee of $4 trillion; a stimulus package of $787 billion, which we’re now being told weeks later isn’t big enough, but which had to be passed so quickly no one could read it, because we had to get it out there immediately.

    ~ Newt Gingrich

    I saw the new, old face of the Republican Party this weekend on a Sunday talk show and I was shocked at the new tact of the Republicans. According to Newt Gingrich the last eight years has been the Bush/Obama administration. Who knew? In an effort to once again fasten President Obama to the current economic meltdown the new strategy appears to be to unite him to the failed policies of the Bush administration. The once revered George W. has now been turned into a tax and spend liberal by the very same people who heralded his accent to power. These people have no shame. They are willing to throw Bush under the bus for the sake of some political advantage that doesn’t exist. Do they think that the public is so incompetent that they don’t know the difference between Bush and Obama for the last eight years? Here’s a hint Obama is the tall, dark one.

    So are we to assume that the last eight years were not Republican run as we were led to believe by their policies and their utter failure? So Republicans were not the ones who put the economy and our nation on the road to a “China Syndrome”. You have to hand it to them though that is innovative. You attach the incoming administration not only from another Party but another galaxy to the previous failed administration which happened to have been from your Party. My guess is that the goal of this strategy is to try and reduce the amount of patience the American people will have with the new President since he has been in office for the past eight years and hasn’t done anything.

    Now for those following at home here is the latest. Not only did President Obama not inherit this economy he actually caused the economy to crash as a member of the Bush administration. Theoretically he has not been in office for only two months after all so his policies don’t deserve anytime to work. After all they are the same big spending, big government policies of that other liberal stalwart George W. Bush. How Mr. Gingrich can expect any national political aspirations to be taken seriously following comments like these are beyond me. But considering no one on the panel gave them a second look maybe he knows something I don’t. The problem with Mr. Gingrich and all of his new and old GOP faces is not that they are new or old; it is that their ideas are old. The GOP continues to repackage their “new” faces with the same failed ideas. I mean to try and pretend that the Republicans outside of George Bush had nothing to do with what is happening in the country today is ludicrous.

    Mr. Gingrich would rather join his other political cohorts and fiddle while the empire burns and continue to be apologists for the wealthy than pitch in and help. For anyone to say it is unfair for the taxes of the wealthy to be raised after decades of tax-breaks and inequitable distribution of wealth is completely out of step with the mood of the country. For anyone to argue against giving 95% of working Americans a tax-break they are out of step with the mood of the country and the polls attest to this fact. While Mr. Gingrich and the other ignore the polls munchkins continue to try and deny his popularity the President’s numbers continue to rise. Now the new line is that the President has popularity but doesn’t have credibility with the people. Let’s be clear it is not the President that doesn’t have credibility it is the bankers, politicians, and talking heads that have no credibility. The public is tired of hearing about bankers and wall-streeters who continue to take bail-out money and hoard it or continue to live in a culture of a by-gone era. The public is tired of politicians who refuse to understand that they are hurting and “Just say no” is not an option. The public is tired of media-types who live in a bubble telling them who is at fault and who to trust.

    Mr. Gingrich there was no Bush/Obama White House and until the Republicans can acknowledge their role in this economic melt-down and begin to articulate a new strategy that addresses these problems they have no credibility with the public. The public is not willing to ignore the last eight years or pretend they never happened. Until the Republicans can acknowledge their failures they are doomed to repeat them, but not at the expense of this nation. You can’t start a fire and then charge the firefighters with arson. The best thing the Republicans can do to avoid another 50 years in the wilderness is to begin to help craft real legislation that will turn this economy around at least then the Democrats won’t be able to take full credit for the salvation of our country.

    “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.”

    ~ Albert Einstein

    Wars; Endless Wars. The Want for More


    copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

    It is March, again.  Just as I have been for years, in this month I am haunted by the hate we, humans, propagate.  March 19th is the sixth anniversary of “unnecessary wars”.  The phrase is not mine alone.  Public servants,  Ambassadors, and former Presidents have proclaimed as I have.  Foreign Secretaries and domestic Diplomats deem the war was a mistake.  Then there are the people.  

    Those embroiled abroad cannot be happy with a hapless combat that destroys homes, the lives of families, and fractures communities.  The American public also grapples with great pain, albeit for those safely ensconced in the States, the pain is less physical or psychological than a soldier’s stationed abroad might be.  

    When polled five long years ago, people in this country stated the war was a mistake.  At the time, fifty-six percent of the United States population rejected further battle.  Americans decisively declared, the “war is not worth fighting.”  Seventy (70) percent of Americans thought any slight gains in security had come at an “unacceptable” cost in military casualties.  That was then.

    Today, as the economic crisis looms larger in the minds of many United States citizens, less pay attention to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Americans hope only for change, spare dollars, and cents.  Indeed, the American people want jobs.  The public craves the cash they need to put food on the table.  People are more focused how they personally might pay for the roof over their heads.  The only wars that cause them worry are “trade” battles.  All is not well on the Western Front.

    On the home front, Americans are anxious.  To worry about the conflict abroad seems a waste.  Many families face foreclosure.  Businesses fail.  Jobs are lost.  Ours is a generation who will not prosper as their parents’ had.  A few, although not few enough in the minds of those affected, fear the future for sons, daughters, husbands, and wives who are called to combat.  Perhaps a lesser number are apprehensive when they ponder the fate of a loved one who will volunteer for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My sister, brother-in-law, and I are amongst these.

    This weekend, on his father’s birth date, I learned my nephew has considered his options, his career, and the choices he has.  Jason is a Marine.  He enlisted near a year ago.  He enjoyed boot-camp.  The not yet twenty one-year-young man did as he has always done; he endeavored to do his best.  Months ago Jason was promoted to Lance Corporal.  It was quite an honor He is proud and happy to serve his country.  Perhaps, he will overseas.  Jason has not decided conclusively.  Yet, it seems a stay in Afghanistan is his plan.

    His family, mine, understands at any moment the decision will not be made by him.  The Marines might move him to the Middle East.  While change came in American policy, it appears an end to armed conflicts is no longer the priority.

    Nonetheless, as one who has stood vigil for peace since before the first American bombs blasted over Afghanistan, as the sixth anniversary of the more often observed Iraq War draws near, I invited many of my fellow activists to commemorate the day.  I sent an electronic mail to the many who have joined the local Peace Corner congregation each week.

    My message was delivered on the same day the stock market slipped to a record low.  An acquaintance, one who organized our local community in support of then Senator, Barack Obama, answered.  She stated she could not participate in an hour-long peace vigil on March 19th, regardless of what time it was held.  

    Jesse wrote of her commitment to Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.  Her advocacy, she said, would prevent her attendance.  However, she revealed, in truth, she felt she could not sanction the remembrance.

    Jesse penned, “I may not love all aspects of the President’s plan regarding Iraq but trust that he knows much better then I how to get out without bloodbath.  With regard to “Afghanistan,” she wrote; “until there is a strong diplomatic effort going in that region, which wasn’t done under the Bush regime, we owe it to soldiers there to give them the support they need to protect themselves while they are trying to destroy our enemy.”

    I wondered what I might say.  Frequently I spoke of my belief; I wish to support our servicemen and woman actively.  That is the reason I want them safe and sane.  I thought of my conversation with my sister.  Linda feels certain Jason will offer to serve abroad.  She wishes not only for his safe return, she prays for his sanity.  Too many, Linda bemoaned, come home, and mentally, emotionally, the troops who travel afar, and saw a world of woe, are never the same.

    As I reflected on my siblings reality, I read more of what Jesse avowed. “Our enemy is there – and despite what you and I have discussed in the past Betsy, this is NOT a people you can negotiate with and you can’t change their mind set.  They are out to destroy us so we have to try to destroy them first.”  As I considered her words, I reflected on an article presented three days after the Twin Towers fell, long before America wrecked greater havoc on a country bombed back to the Stone Age before the US sent more artillery.  Tamim Ansary penned, An Afghan-American Speaks.  In the reflection, published in Salon the author offers a thoughtful analogy, one I observed to be true, even as an outsider.

    (T)he Taliban and bin Laden are not Afghanistan.  They’re not even the government of Afghanistan.  The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997.  Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan.  When you think Taliban, think Nazis.  When you think bin Laden, think Hitler.  And when you think “the people of Afghanistan” think “the Jews in the concentration camps.”

    I thought to share the source; yet, I feared Jesse might not be open to the comparison.  Although she has often heard of my belief in the principle, transformation is invisible.  We must talk endlessly if we are to build trust and a novel truth, the woman who advocates for diplomacy expressed what for me feels forever dismissive.  “We will just have to agree to disagree on this one,” Jesse typed.

    “I wish all of you well in your efforts since I know you only want what you think is right and moral.  I wish the conflict had never started in Iraq and that we had completed what we started in Afghanistan . . . which was to find and capture Bin Laden and his followers, and bring them to justice.”  

    In accordance to what Jesse thinks humanitarian relief, she stated her hope is America will “rebuild what we destroyed in the region, build schools and proper roads, lay down broadband to connect these backwoods people to the rest of the world so they can see what there is out there.”  

    Jesse theorized; “Only by doing that can we offer them an alternative to what they have now.”  I wondered.  How might we accomplish any of what would be good in the Middle East as long as we came, and continue to come to Afghanistan with guns ablaze.  Had our failed policy in Iraq not been a lesson, or are we do believe as Jesse, and even George W. Bush might.  The only reason for regret in the past was a lack of intelligence.

    Just before he left the Oval Office, the previous President, who Jesse blames for the battles that brew, ruminated.  “The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq,” a remorseful George W. Bush told ABC television in December 2008.  “I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.”

    Intelligence.  That is often the problem.  Intellectually adept as any of us might be, emotionally, each of us is handicapped by what we believe.  We forget, as I shared with my sister days earlier.  “No one can be inside of our heart, soul, being, or brain.”  I asked Linda to think of the two of us, our experience of our home life, our parents, and our shared history.  We do not perceive any given moment as our sibling does.  Nor do either of us relate to what others in our brood believe to be true.  Perchance, this lack of perspective, an empathetic point of view is the cause for endless wars.

    As I pondered, Jesse apparently perused another article and sent the source on to me.  I trusted she knew as I frequently express, I never agree to disagree.  I believe, personal philosophies, peace, and profound inquiry, are each part of a never-ending process.  Agreements are not achieved in an instant.  Combat will not cease in a second, and conversations, if they are to be effective, must be ongoing.

    With a link to the essay, Jesse included a statement, “Knew you would want to see this.  I’m so conflicted – wish I knew the right thing to do.”  I clicked on the link and smiled when I saw the New York Times Columnist Bob Herbert treatise appear.  A man I personally admire, one I think phenomenal, in his March 3, 2009 editorial addressed the issue of Wars, Endless Wars .

    The article begins . . .

    The singer Edwin Starr, who died in 2003, had a big hit in 1970 called “War” in which he asked again and again: “War, what is it good for?”

    The U.S. economy is in free fall, the banking system is in a state of complete collapse, and Americans all across the country are downsizing their standards of living.  The nation as we’ve known it is fading before our very eyes, but we’re still pouring billions of dollars into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with missions we are still unable to define.

    I read the article in its entirety and responded.  “Dearest Jesse,” I enthusiastically noted.  “I am past partial.  I love Bob Herbert!”  Herbert’s reference to a favorite tune and musician of mine, prompted an impulsive applause.  When I saw he had connected the wars to the economy, I became more enthralled with his every word.  

    I thanked Jess for her being open to further thought, and her willingness to share.  I expressed my own truth.  I observe “The war is tied to economics.”  Conflicts overseas have an effect on the environment, education at home, business, and whether we rebuild the infrastructure.  Questionable ethics, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and homicide, increase when a country is consumed with a waged conflict.  Homelessness, amongst veterans, or the displacement of those on foreign soil, is disregarded when we are embroiled in warfare.  I stated, “The list of effects is endless.”  

    I also believe emotional intelligence is altered when we think war is a necessary evil.  We begin to engage in one battle, it seems enemies are everywhere.

    Then, I told Jesse a tale, a true story that occurred seconds after I spoke with my sister.  

    I entered the Recreation Center ready to swim.  I trusted thoughts of my nephew and the war would fill my mind while I was under water.  I entered the locker room to prepare for my exercise, and there I saw an acquaintance.  Sue, a Korean woman I often chat with, was gathering her gear.  She has lived in the States for near a decade.  Sue is young, beautiful, and does not speak in depth on most subjects.  When we see each other at the cement pond, the swim is often our priority.  

    Brimming with beliefs, I blurted out, “I loathe war.”  Sue verbalized her venom for violence immediately.  She told me of how awful the North Koreans are and why combat is necessary.  I responded; the North Koreans are people.”  Sue spoke with knowledge.  She told me of the dictatorial government, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and the people who will do whatever their government demands.  

    In all the years we have known each other, we have chatted frequently.  Yet, I have never seen or heard Sue speak with such vigor.  Sue assured me the North Korean people will follow their leader.  I reminded her of Hitler, and the economic Depression, that helped catapult the Fuehrer to power.  Even long before my review of the aforementioned article, An Afghan-American speaks these comparison was so real for me.

    As we discussed the dynamics of conflict, I introduced many more instances, on various continents.  “Much of what occurs worldwide illustrates why people are motivated to do as an autocrat deems they must,” I said.  I referred to the reality in Afghanistan, although not as eloquently as Author Tamim Ansary had.

    Some say, why don’t the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban?  The answer is, they’re starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering.  A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan — a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets.  These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

    We spoke further of other circumstances in countless countries.  “Each,” I exclaimed,  “exemplifies the same truth.  War is an economic endeavor, always has been . . . even the Civil War is but an example.”

    Sue listened; and then rationalized her beliefs.  I too paid attention; and then shared why I thought, why I think, as I do.  Finally, my sincerest belief rose to the surface.  Empathy is the best educator.  I invited Sue to imagine.  “If you had a relative who resided in North Korea, would that individual be evil?”  Would you wish to kill them . . . before they killed you?  Sue stood quietly.  She stopped speaking.  Reflected for a time.  Then she said, “I understand.”

    Perhaps, if Jesse, the President of the United States, and the people, in each an every country contemplated our deeper connections, the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war, March 19th, would not need to be commemorated.  Nor would we prepare to pay tributes to those who have or will fall in Afghanistan.  If humans were to honor, no man, or matter is an island, perhaps, people would not need to fight for jobs, fiscal stability, food, shelter, power, or for principles that are contrary to a stated belief in peace.

    References for a wartime, all-time reality . . .