Friday, 25 December 2009


Ken Berwitz


Fannie, Freddie CEOs Get (Up To) $6M

December 24th, 2009

From an unfazed Associated Press:

Fannie and Freddie CEOs to get up to $6M in pay


December 24, 2009

The two chief executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could get paid as much as $6 million for 2009, despite the companies dismal performances this year which cost taxpayers more than $100 billion.

Fannies CEO, Michael Williams, and Freddie CEO Charles "Ed" Haldeman Jr. each will receive $900,000 in salary, $3.1 million in deferred payments next year and another $2 million if they meet certain performance goals, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

The pay packages were approved by the Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie.

That compares to $10.2 million former Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd received and $13.1 million former Freddie CEO Richard Syron pocketed in 2008. Both execs were ousted when federal regulators seized the companies in September 2008. In September, the federal government blocked exit packages for the pair worth up to $24 million.

Since then, Fannie and Freddie have needed $111 billion in taxpayer money to stay afloat, one of the most expensive aftershocks of the financial crisis.

Freddie Mac hired Haldeman, a former mutual fund executive, in July. At the time, the company disclosed his annual salary of $900,000 but did not disclose other incentive payments. In September, the company hired a new chief financial officer, Ross Kari, and said his pay package would be worth up to $5.5 million.

Williams, formerly Fannie Maes chief operating officer, took over as CEO in April after the first government-appointed CEO, Herbert Allison, took a job at the Treasury Department. Williams earned a base salary of $676,000 last year, plus a retention award of $260,000.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide vital liquidity to the mortgage industry by purchasing home loans from lenders and selling them to investors. Together, they own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.5 trillion. Thats about half of all mortgages.

Without government aid, the firms could have gone broke, leaving millions of people unable to get a mortgage. And most experts say the price tag for the bailouts will rise and complicate the governments exit strategy

Ho hum.

Fannie and Freddie are government run.

So their CEOs can make millions.

 Still think the Obama administration is against corporate fatcats getting millions?  Well, maybe for some.  But not for their corporate fatcats.

Need I remind you that the "brain trusts" (a term I use very, very loosely) at Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were willing accomplices to the financial disaster we are in?  

Enjoy those millions, guys.  And sleep well tonight. 

Zeke ... .... Why, it's just terrible ... .... those poor, underpaid fat-ass bureaucrats ... .... starvation wages at the F-Mac/Mae ... .... ... .... ... .... Remember, Franklin Raines, Clinton's appointment as Fannie Mae CEO ... .the dude overstated Fannie Mae's earnings, and walked away with NINETY MILL ($90,000,000) ! ! ! ... .... and his sidekick, Jamie Gorelick (no relative of Al-the-Global-Warmer), got 20 Mill ... Gorelick also wrote the 1990's Clinton-era law that the CIA and FBI couldn't share intelligence [Hello, 9/11] ... .... As Yakov Smirnoff used to say, "Vat a Country!" (12/26/09)


Ken Berwitz

For months I have been writing about the dismissal of Inspector General Gerald Walpin, who was summarily fired for the crime of looking into a major $$$ scandal regarding Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star who is now, somehow or other, mayor of Sacramento, CA.  Johnson, you see, is a big supporter of President Obama.

This is a scandal.  A real one (the specific procedures for Mr. Walpin's removal appear to have been ignored), unlike the removal of 7 US Attorneys by President Bush (who was not bound by such procedures had every right to do so).

So how did Matt Lauer of the Today show handle the Kevin Johnson affair?  Let's read Brad Wilmouth's account from and see:

Brokaw Touts Corrupt Obama Friend/Mayor Kevin Johnson, Skips Misuse of AmeriCorps Funds

By Brad Wilmouth (Bio | Archive)
December 25, 2009 - 01:34 ET

Thursday's Today show on NBC showed an excerpt from Tom Brokaws upcoming documentary, "American Character Along Highway 50," during which the former NBC Nightly News anchor plugged Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson a friend of President Obama -- and delivered a puff piece on Johnsons life and political goals, giving Johnson several soundbites to promote himself without being challenged, with Johnson at one point proclaiming that he ran for mayor partly because "theres a lot of inequality in our country."

But, even though at one point Brokaw recounted that Johnson founded the St. Hope foundation to help provide education, the former NBC anchor did not bring up Johnsons history of corruption, specifically the finding that he misused $800,000 in AmeriCorps funding at St. Hope.

Last June, in an interview on FNCs Fox and Friends, former inspector general Gerald Walpin of the Corporation for National and Community Service  who had just been fired by the Obama administration  recounted his findings against Mayor Johnson and theorized that Obama had fired him because of his aggressive stance against his political ally. Walpin:

We found out that Johnson had misused the members of the AmeriCorps volunteers for his own personal purposes, had used them in political campaigns, had used them to wash his car, and had even taken them to New York to lobby for him, and they're supposed to be working tutoring students in Sacramento. He took them to New York to lobby for him to get a charter school charter here in New York.

Walpin further charged that Johnson had not been required to pay any portion of the money back:

Well, he never has paid back a portion. The settlement agreement signed behind our back, and remember, we're the referring agency, and U.S. attorneys always deal through the referring agency. They ignored us and they entered into a settlement agreement that doesn't require Johnson to pay anything back.

But instead of challenging Johnson, Brokaw was more interested in nudging the corrupt mayor toward higher office. Brokaw contended that Johnson is "boosting expectations in a wider arena," and suggested to him that his current position could be a "stepping stone," prompting the Sacramento mayor to deliver the modest reply that "I've got to figure this [current position] out first."

Below is a complete transcript of the piece from the Thursday, December 24, Today show on NBC:

LESTER HOLT: Our colleague, Tom Brokaw, has spent the past year traveling across the country on famed Highway 50 for a special documentary airing next month on the USA Network. And he's just reached the end of the road.

TOM BROKAW: It's been called the backbone of America, one highway that cuts through the heart of a changing nation. And at every crossroad, a new story 3,073 miles on Highway 50 in search of the American character. Mile 3,073, where Highway 50 ends just west of California's capital. You think one day he'd be the mayor of Sacramento?

MOTHER OF MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON: No, I didn't think he'd be the mayor. That's the last thing I thought.

BROKAW: It's a future Kevin Johnson's own mother wouldn't have dared to imagine when she gave birth to him at the age of 16.

KEVIN JOHNSON, SACRAMENTO MAYOR: I'm a kid that grew up in a ghetto community, being elected not only the first African-American mayor, but the first native-born mayor. It was one of the greatest days of my life.

BROKAW: Johnson was elected by a landslide on the same day as Barack Obama in a city where just 15 percent of the population is African-American.

JOHNSON: Both of us represent, I think, a new breed of politician. We're representing a multicultural world.

BROKAW: Both economies were in a freefall.

JOHNSON: Our unemployment rate is extremely high. The foreclosure rate has hit our region harder.

BROKAW: Only months into his first term, this rookie mayor was forced to address a shameful truth.

JOHNSON: There were a lot of homeless people camping along the river.

BROKAW: With its echoes of the Great Depression's Hoovervilles, Sacramento's tent city became a national symbol of just how bad things had gotten.

JOHNSON: My responsibility as a mayor was to not allow us to sweep this dirty little secret under the rug, let's deal with it head on.

BROKAW: Johnson is new to politics, but says his first career as an all-star player in the NBA prepared him well.

JOHNSON: I thought that all the trash-talking and the elbow-throwing only happened on the basketball court. Politics, there's more trash talk and more elbow-throwing.

BROKAW: His hoop dreams may have been Johnson's ticket out, but his greatest cause is education.

JOHNSON: I always knew I wanted to come back to my community so that kids would be able to experience the same thing. And basketball may not be their ticket out, but certainly education and college will be.

BROKAW: With the money he earned in the NBA, Johnson started a foundation, St. Hope, which now runs his old high school. So graduation rates were what?

JOHNSON: Twenty percent before we took over the schools, a charter school, and now 80 percent of our kids are graduating and going on to four-year college. If you lay out high expectations for parents and kids, they want it.

BROKAW: As mayor, he is boosting expectations in a larger arena.

JOHNSON CLIP #1: I don't want to waste a moment.

JOHNSON CLIP #2: We've made great strides, but the job is not done.

JOHNSON TALKING TO BROKAW: There's a lot of inequality still in our country, and that's partly why I decided to run for mayor is trying to level the playing field.

BROKAW: This is the mayor's office, could be a stepping stone.

JOHNSON: This stone right here is pretty heavy in and of itself, so I've got to figure this one out first, Tom.

BROKAW: Mile 3,073, the end of Highway 50, and the end of our journey.

HOLT: We should let you know "American Character Along Highway 50" airs January 18th on our sister network, USA.

Great job, Tom.  Make sure that Obama's guy is protected from having to answer any of those troubling questions about his misappropration of money, and not a word about the Inspector General who was fired while investigating it.  I'm sure you would have done exactly the same if this were the Bush administration and the mayor of Sacramento were a Republican.

The saddest part is that Today has the largest viewing audience of any network morning show.  This means that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people watch Today (and NBC in general) thinking they are getting honest, balanced information.

What a disheartening thought.

WisOldMan Three Truths: Tom Brokaw is a fraud. NBC is corrupt. The sky is blue. (12/25/09)


Ken Berwitz

Here is a lucid analysis of the problems faced by Democrats next year.  It has been excerpted from an article in today's Washington Post, which was written by, of all people, William "Boss" Daley, the mayor of Chicago:

The announcement by Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith that he is switching to the Republican Party is just the latest warning sign that the Democratic Party -- my lifelong political home -- has a critical decision to make: Either we plot a more moderate, centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come.

Rep. Griffith's decision makes him the fifth centrist Democrat to either switch parties or announce plans to retire rather than stand for reelection in 2010. These announcements are a sharp reversal from the progress the Democratic Party made starting in 2006 and continuing in 2008, when it reestablished itself as the nation's majority party for the first time in more than a decade. That success happened for one major reason: Democrats made inroads in geographies and constituencies that had trended Republican since the 1960s. In these two elections, a majority of independents and a sizable number of moderate Republicans joined the traditional Democratic base to sweep Democrats to commanding majorities in Congress and to bring Barack Obama to the White House.

On the one hand, centrist Democrats are being vilified by left-wing bloggers, pundits and partisan news outlets for not being sufficiently liberal, "true" Democrats. On the other, Republicans are pounding them for their association with a party that seems to be advancing an agenda far to the left of most voters.

The political dangers of this situation could not be clearer.

Witness the losses in New Jersey and Virginia in this year's off-year elections. In those gubernatorial contests, the margin of victory was provided to Republicans by independents -- many of whom had voted for Obama. Just one year later, they had crossed back to the Republicans by 2-to-1 margins.

Witness the drumbeat of ominous poll results. Obama's approval rating has fallen below 49 percent overall and is even lower -- 41 percent -- among independents. On the question of which party is best suited to manage the economy, there has been a 30-point swing toward Republicans since November 2008, according to Ipsos. Gallup's generic congressional ballot shows Republicans leading Democrats. There is not a hint of silver lining in these numbers. They are the quantitative expression of the swing bloc of American politics slipping away.

And, of course, witness the loss of Rep. Griffith and his fellow moderate Democrats who will retire. They are perhaps the truest canaries in the coal mine.



Ken Berwitz

Did you think that terrorism -- oop, excuse me, "man-made disasters" as the Obama administration prefers to call them - are no longer occurring?

Well, if so, this should disabuse you of that thought:  today, Christmas day, a would-be al qaeda terrorist tried to blow up an airplane headed for the USA.

Here are the particulars, via an excerpt from an article at

Officials: Possible terror attack on Northwest jet

Nigerian who allegedly tried to ignite powder on flight claims al-Qaida ties and NBC News

updated 1 minute ago

ROMULUS, Mich. - A Nigerian man claiming ties to al-Qaida tried to light a powder aboard a commercial jetliner before it landed Friday in Detroit in what senior U.S. officials called an attempted act of terrorism.

He appears to have had some kind of incendiary device he tried to ignite, a senior U.S. official told NBC News.

Two people noticed the attempted attack, and a third person jumped on the man and subdued him, an airline official told NBC News. The man was being treated at the burn unit of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor, officials said.

Terrorism doesn't celebrate Christmas.  Or any other holiday.  It is a constant, ongoing threat that we ignore at our own peril.

And the only effect of calling it some idiotic sanitized alternative name, like "man-made disasters" is that would-be terrorists become emboldened because they assume we're not serious about fighting back.

Do you blame them?


free` The passenger who subdued him will probably be sued or jailed like those 3 Navy Seals. (12/25/09)

Ken Berwitz Don't even start me on what's being done to the three Navy seals. As I'm sure you know, I've already blogged about them. Sometimes I wonder whose side the authorities are on. (12/25/09)


Ken Berwitz

One of Dick Morris' greatest talents is his ability to present entire thoughts in understandable language using very few words.

Here is his short piece on the just-passed health care abomination.  I suggest gritting your teeth before reading it:

MORRIS: No gain, plenty of pain, on Day One

By DICK MORRIS | Posted: Friday, December 25, 2009 12:00 am

Obama's health care bill, the poisoned Kool-Aid making its way through the Senate, will not confer any of its supposed benefits on Americans until 2013. But they will find themselves chafing at its restrictions and paying its taxes immediately after the law takes effect.

This odd juxtaposition of "suffer now, benefit later" is the byproduct of the administration's sleight of hand in specifying 10 years' worth of cuts and taxes in the legislation, but deferring its benefits for the first four years. By comparing six years of spending with 10 years of taxing, it managed to appear deficit-neutral under the rules of the Congressional Budget Office. In fact, the annual revenues fall far short of covering any single year's worth of spending, adding to the deficit for each of the last six years over the next 10 ---- but, viewing the decade as a whole, it appears deficit-neutral.

Yet the political price is hardly neutral. Democrats who misguidedly vote for this monstrosity will face immediate political repercussions.

The harshest of these backlashes will come from the elderly, who will face the rationing immediately.

The first "no" will hit the 10 million elderly who now rely on Medicare Advantage to pay for the care Medicare itself does not cover. In a payoff to AARP, Obama gutted this program in his bill, ending over $100 billion in federal premium subsidies. These 10 million voters will get the grim news that their premiums are going up and their benefits dropping early in 2010. The goal, of course, is to force them to drop Medicare Advantage and sign up, instead, for Medi-gap insurance ---- offered, not coincidentally, by the AARP ---- which provides less coverage at higher cost.

Young people without health insurance can expect to start writing $750 annual checks to Washington to pay the fines written into the bill. (And, after the Conference Committee finishes its work, the fines may be higher.)

All Americans will soon find their insurance premiums rising as a result of the bill. The young uninsured will not buy policies. Why should they? Why not just pay the $750 fine each year? Why pay between 2 percent and 10 percent of their household income before subsidies kick in? It makes no financial sense for anyone making more than $30,000 to pay for coverage. (And most of those under that threshold will be covered by Medicaid, not by private insurance.)

There is no reason for the young to buy private insurance. The legislation requires that health insurers take all comers and not raise rates based on pre-existing conditions. So the young can get coverage when they need it, having only paid $750 per year beforehand.

The difference in cost will, of course, be borne by families throughout America, who will see their health insurance premiums increase. President Obama and his Democratic rubber stamps may appreciate that they are not raising taxes on the middle class, just raising mandatory health insurance premiums, but the distinction is likely to be lost on swing voters.

From now on, any increase in health insurance premiums will become the political responsibility of the Obama administration. As Gen. Colin Powell once said of Iraq, "You break it, you own it."

Remember;  not one Republican voted for this bill.  And a number of Democrats had to be bribed (with our money) to sign on.

It is an abomination that will irreparably damage our health care system at a cost far in excess of the BS numbers this dishonest, corrupt administration is barfing out at us.

And whose fault is it that we have been saddled with ObamaCare?  OUR fault, that's who.  We elected a Chicago machine politician, unqualified for the office of President, who has spent his entire life spending huge amounts of other people's money that he never had to earn in any way.  And we elected a lopsided majority of his party in both houses to back him up.

Are we learning just how bad this mistake was?  If the polling data are correct, the answer is a resounding yes.  But it's too late to prevent this phoney-baloney health care atrocity.

The 2010 elections cannot come soon enough.  And that goes double for 2012.


Ken Berwitz

To all my Christian readers, may you have a very merry Christmas.

To all my readers, may you have a great holiday season and a happy new year too!


Ken Berwitz

This fascinating little piece comes to us from The Weekly Standard (in case you don't know, TPM stands for the Talking Points Memo web site):

Dems' 2010 Strategy: GOP Will "Repeal" Obamacare

TPM reports:

With Democratic senators united on the health care bill today, their campaign arm has settled on an attack plan for 2010: Republicans would "repeal" it if they win control.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, aggressively challenging incumbent GOP senators and vying for open seats, will paint the Republicans as only interested in obstructing.

So, the Democrats' attack plan is to tell voters that the GOP will repeal the budget-busting, tax-hiking, Medicare-cutting, abortion-funding, big insurance and big pharma giveaway that only has the support of 35% of voters. Brilliant!

Conservatives have been saying that if Obamacare passes Republicans should run on the platform of repealing this monstrosity. The Democrats really think it's a smart attack plan to send the same message?

Does this count as an in-kind contribution to Republican candidates?

Here are a couple of points that Democratic candidates ought to think about: 

-Since benefits do not kick in for four years, no one will get a thing out of this health care bill next year.  But they'll be paying for it anyway.  That should do wonders for Democratic prospects in November;

-It is likely that a large majority of the people who favor this health care legislation would be voting Democrat anyway, so even if there is a political gain it will probably be marginal.  By contrast, the number of independents who will vote against Democrats because of it is likely to be dramatically larger.

I can't wait to see how they handle this during next year's campaigns. 

WisOldMan Democrats are going to try and sell this healthcare "reform" package as something positive, then demonize anyone that opposes the policy. What other choice do they have ? The bill is a tragedy. (12/25/09)

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