The Deal Behind the AIG deal – Video: Warren vs Geithner

OK, the video is juicy and it’s fun to watch a very smart woman smack down the wizard of smart (H/T Rush). But, to truly enjoy Professor Warren’s performance and Tim Geithner’s squirm, you need some background. Read more

Dodd Man Walking – Part 2 – Simmons responds

The troubles continue to mount for Chris Dodd and it’s not jut this amazing piece in today’s Washington Times either.

As Democrats prepared to take control of Congress after the 2006 elections, a top boss at the insurance giant American International Group Inc. told colleagues that Sen. Christopher J. Dodd was seeking re-election donations and he implored company executives and their spouses to give.

The message in the Nov. 17, 2006, e-mail from Joseph Cassano, AIG Financial Products chief executiveve, was unmistakable: Mr. Dodd was “next in line” to be chairman of the Senate Banking …

While Steve correctly points out that the donations come from individuals, in this case they did so at the insistence of an AIG executive with the clear intent of getting the company on the good side of the Chairman of  the Senate Banking Committee. 

Nothing here indicates that AIG was buying Dodd, or that he could be bought, but it calls into question how much independence a Senator can have when his coffers are being filled by the very company he must help regulate. But the troubles for Dodd are just the beginning.

The same is true with the  VIP Countrywide Mortgages. No indication, at least right now, that Countrywide bought anything for its sweetheart mortgage arrangement with Dodd, but its clear Countrywide thought it did, as did AIG. Once is bad, twice is deadly for a man who is in charge of regulating the industry.

Combine this with his wife’s connection to AIG and his real estates dealings with a felon, and you have a pattern.

Rob Simmons has emerged as a leading candidate for the Republicans because he is willing to speak out and point out that it doesn’t much matter what Dodd did or did not know, in his position he should have known what these two financial giants were trying to do and should have stopped their efforts long ago. Jim Geraghty spoke with Simmons.

“This is a classic case of the conflict of interest that exists when a powerful chairman of an oversight committee puts himself in a position to shake down the people he oversees — and it is a shakedown,” Simmons said. “It’s inappropriate, and it violates the public trust. I believe public office is a public trust — that’s what I learned in the army, and what I’ve followed throughout my career, when I worked for Senator [John] Chafee of Rhode Island and Senator [Barry] Goldwater. You have to hold yourself to a higher standard.”

He is right of course and nothing Dodd can do can erase the fact that he and his staff got careless at best and quite possibly much worse. Chris Dodd has become a symbol of old style politics, where people enter modestly paid statesmen and leave with generous pensions, lavish lifestyles and a full bank account. Or as my grandmother used to say to me … “Jimmy, they always leave with more than they came in with.” Indeed.

Totalitarianism? Update-Commentary

Newt Gingrich thinks it may be an over statement, but no question Geithner’s grab at Treasury to control financial institutions and Obama’s grab over at GM … translates into a power grab. Where will it stop?


Update 1: I never had the chance to comment on this. It is clear, after listening to Obama administration folks on TV today, that the control of GM is just the beginning and that this is but a warning shot. Obama’s folks feel flush with power over anyone that took bailout money, loan or not, and are not afraid to assert that power to reshape not just banking but corporate America as well.

Right now fear grips folks in banking and finance as well as on the street. Finance is frozen. You know, those people who you are asking for a loan, or invest your money for that new house, car or college. People in power in the industry most assuredly are not sure what moves to make on the chance that the government will either step in to void that deal in the name of “public good”. And while that fear freezes the financial system, my guess is its seeping into other industries as well, although I have no evidence that is the case.

The ends do not justify the means, so while some may be convinced that government asserting its will on business is the only way to cure a wounded system, Newt is right, in the end it will end the system itself.

Update 2: I apologize. I originally classified this under economics when in fact we are talking politics. My guess is it could be on either side, but I think it rightfully belongs here. Jim

Politicians STILL taking money from TARP recipients.

As late as February politicians were still taking campaign contributions from TARP recipients. (click the image below for the story).

While the AIG bonus fiasco was unraveling, politicians and the media whipped our population into a frenzy, demonstrating once again how easily some (if not most) Americans can be manipulated through fear and anger to adopt whatever stance they are told to take.  Critical thought be damned.

Even though this bonus money was .01% of the money that has been distributed, politicians crowed “It’s not about the amount of money, it is about the principle.”

For all of you who were so easily whipped into the frenzy over AIG, how about whipping up a little frenzy toward your politicians who are STILL taking political contributions from companies that took TARP money. Where is the anger and the outrage? Where are the bus tours of the politicians homes? Where is this populist uprising now? The amounts may seem small ($5k here and $5k there), but they are taking taxpayer money, and remember … it’s the principle.

Click the image for an NBC report on politicians that are still taking donations from TARP recipients.


Connecticut AG targets AIG employee who does not work for AIG – “Death Threats”

This is just too much and what happens when publicity hungry politicians try to capitalize on public outrage and ginned up fury. Read more

White House political appointees keep Citigroup bonuses (Audio)

As congress continues to call AIG executives to task in televised hearings, Executive Branch political appointees keep year-end bonuses from Citigroup and that’s perfectly fine since – get this – there is no need to bother them with that trivial stuff since the government “needs the talent we have” and faces “enormous challenges” so they need “all hands on deck.”

Within the last couple of days, the New York Times quietly reported that three political advisers to the White House received year-end bonuses from bailed out Citigroup. From Charlie Savage’s piece in the Times

Several members of the Obama administration worked for financial companies that received bailout funds, raising the question of whether they should keep any bonus they received.

At least three members of the still-growing team of political appointees, for example, worked at Citigroup and were eligible for year-end bonuses. One of the former Citigroup executives, Michael Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, has decided to give his bonus to charity. The White House declined to provide specific details on what the other two — the deputy Secretary of State, Jacob J. Lew, and David A. Lipton, the White House’s senior director for international economics — will do.

Why are they not stunned and “obviously angry” about the bonuses paid? Any demands to return the cash to the government? Have they been targeted for a 90 percent tax on the money?

Jennifer Psaki, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement that the administration had scrutinized “the employment and compensation history of all our appointees,” but the administration is not forcing people to give up their year-end bonuses.

“While we don’t require former executives to forgo their bonuses when they come to work here, some made the choice to give their bonus or other compensation up,” Ms. Psaki added. “Executives who come to work for this Administration take a major pay cut to do so because they believe in the efforts of the President to change the system–including his long time commitment to stronger regulation of the financial services industry.”

So, if you go to work for the government, you get a pass since you’re doing The One’s work, but if you agree to a $1 salary and only get paid if you stick around and work your tail off to solve a problem in a division of AIG that is slated to be closed, you’re evil.

On today’s Rush Limbaugh show – which I rarely get to listen to these days – he tuned us into an interview with David Axelrod, President Obama’s top political adviser who had no problem with the bonuses. They really need to keep the talent in the White House, it’s really important and they need to have all hands on deck. Here’s the audio.


I guess AIG’s problem is not all that important.

Were Laws Broken?

The charges against Chris Dodd continue to pile up. It started with the sweetheart Countrywide Mortgages, then the “cottage” in Ireland, the association with a convicted felon, the AIG bonus “lie”, and finally word that his wife once collected a paycheck from an AIG company.

No wonder Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) went wobbly last week when asked about his February amendment ratifying hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to executives at insurance giant AIG. Dodd has been one of the company’s favorite recipients of campaign contributions. But it turns out that Senator Dodd’s wife has also benefited from past connections to AIG as well.

From 2001-2004, Jackie Clegg Dodd served as an “outside” director of IPC Holdings, Ltd., a Bermuda-based company controlled by AIG. 

Were any laws broken. That’s what Cavuto asked Judge Andrew Nepolitano.


I am not a lawyer or a judge so I do not know and we won’t until papers are released. Somehow I doubt any illegality. But certainly there’s enough there to vote for his retirement next year.

Dear AIG – I quit.

I’ve been waiting for stories to be released from AIG executives who elected to leave the company during the last week due to attacks from political hacks who never want to let a good crisis go to waste. Read more

Barney Frank on Religion and Taxing Executive Pay

Because he can … and because he’s been thinking about it since 2006. From CBS’ Face The Nation. By the way I am posting this because “I worry.” Read more

Dodd Man Walking?* Video

Kevin Rennie takes another look at Chris Dodd’s Irish Country Cottage and his conveniently vague and incomplete answers. After fist denying, than admitting, than blaming Treasury (W apparently wasn’t available) for that AIG Bonus Loophole he authored … Rennie says he’s being less than honest about the value of his Irish Ranchero too, and who paid for what. Here’s the link.

That house on nearly 10 waterfront acres in Ireland, the senator maintains, really isn’t much. Only a rickety bridge connects it to the mainland. The Irish real estate boom from 1994 to 2007, he says, missed Inishnee, the island he wandered onto in the late ’80s when he was recognized by an admiring Connecticut constituent. What are the odds?  The woman contacted him, Dodd says, several years later when she wanted to sell her property. 

In 2001, a new bridge to Inishnee was completed, dedicated and blessed by local priest Father McCarthy. The next year, Dodd, armed with an appraisal by someone who must not have noticed the new bridge, bought out Kessinger’s interest in the property for far less than what the property boom was doing to every other piece of real estate in Ireland. 

Maybe Kessinger, who’d spent decades in real estate, wasn’t paying attention to his investment in Ireland. He might have been devoting his time to increasing Kessinger/Hunter and Co.’s share of federal contracts.

Today on Fox 61 Shelly Sindland interviewed Roy Occhiogrosso, who worked on Dodd’s ’04 campaign (full interview here). Two clips. The first… the bonus bailou wasn’t Dodd’s fault … it was … drumroll please …


Of course he fails to mention that Dodd failed to tell the truth and could have stopped the bailouts. He did neither. The second … if not laughable, certainly  incredible. Dodd is too busy managing the eonomy and health care to consider the ramifications of the “Bonus Clause”. Makes me rest easier knowing he’s Banking Chairman.


I can understand why Roy Occhiogrosso wants us all to move on. It isn’t going to happen.

*Post title taken from yesterday’s Tea party Protest. Courtesy Powerline.