31 March 2009

AIG Bought Out Chris Dodd

You’d Be Foolish Not To Contribute To Chris Dodd’s Campaign

Promoted from diaries. - Moe Lane.

In today’s Washington Times there is a report about how a bunch of AIG Financial Services executives were “asked” by their CEO to donate to Chris Dodd’s campaign, and to encourage their subordinates to do the same. Read AIG chief executive Joseph Cassano’s email for yourself.

Was this more than just a suggestion? Well, the boss said he wanted copies of the checks they sent. And it seems pretty clear that the recipients of the email got the gist: in less than two months, Dodd received over $160,000 in donations from AIG employees and their spouses.

Did Chris Dodd have any part in this request? We may never know. And it’s not illegal. So what’s the big deal? Well, the email pretty explicitly calls for the donations with the understanding that they will have very real and practical effects in their favor:

With the Democrats having regained control of the Senate following the November elections, Senator Dodd is next in line to become chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. From securities litigation reform, class action reform, mutual funds, and international trade, Senator Dodd will now have the opportunity as chairman to set the committee’s agenda on issues critical to the financial services industry.

And it just happens to turn out that Cassano was right on. On the eve of the passage of the stimulus bill, who tweaks an amendment that a few weeks later allows numerous AIG executives to collect about $160 million in bonuses that would not have been allowed without the last minute change by Chairman Chris Dodd! Not a bad return on an investment: donate $160k, 28 months later get $160 million.

Dodd doesn’t deny any of it. Instead, he sends his spokesman to trots out his now-tired line of “it’s old news.” From FoxNews:

…[DeAngelis] said Dod’s fundraising “has always been above-board, transparent and in accordance with campaign finance rules.”

“This is a biased news story that seems to be a blatant attempt to repeat old news,” DeAngelis told FoxNews. “The truth is, Senator Dodd has made it clear that he will not accept contributions from PAC’s of companies receiveing (federal bailout) money and has also made it clear that if anyone who received these recent bonuses from AIG has donated to his campaigns, he will donate that money to charity.”

As if the fact that he got paid off two years ago and that he was “transparently” bought off makes it okay. Just like when he got caught with his sweetheart Countrywide mortgages, he figures that since the unethical behavior was a long time ago and he recently got around to remortgaging, there is no story there.

Frankly, the fact that he doesn’t seem to think any of his numerous scandals are newsworthy is nearly as worrisome as the scandals themselves.

Here are a few links on the story: NRO (and here and here), Everyday Republican, Hot Air, Courant’s Capitol Watch,

And via “A Disgruntled Republican,” you might get a chuckle out of this:

Hey, you hear about this? Very strange incident at JFK Airport in New York City today. An AIG executive going through security had to empty out all his pockets. You know what fell out? Senator Chris Dodd.” - Jay Leno

Cross-posted at The Artful Doddger.

I still believe that some Employees of AIG got a raw deal, but this is just more proof that Washington, with their fake outrage needs to get on the ball and get off the take.

25 March 2009

Dear A.I.G., I Quit! (Part 1 of 2)

The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.

I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

Page 2

Dear A.I.G., I Quit!

(Page 2 of 2)

My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.

That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”

That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.

At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.

I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.

As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.

So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.

This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.

Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”


Jake DeSantis

Back to Page 1

24 March 2009

Conservatives Against Marijuana Prohibition

Why Conservatives should insist on overturning cannabis prohibition in the U.S.:
Cut wasteful spending, restore respect for law enforcement, grow a sustainable economy without large government stimulus.
Personally, I'm not a Marijuana user, though I did experiment over 20 plus years ago in my youth. I do however enjoy a nice Margarita every once in a while and really see no difference between that and occassionally "lighting one up". The preposterous laws that we have banning cannibis, hemp and Marijuana based pharmacuticals is absolutely un-American, and was born out of a campaign of fear, not facts.
Here's a few highlights of the benefits of legalizing this herb.

1) Effective Law Enforcement: Ending cannabis prohibition will drastically reduce wasteful government spending and corruption of law enforcement officers. Half of the police budget is spent on invesitigating and prosecuting non-violent drug offenders.Law enforcement funds should be used to fight real crimes like murder, robbery, sexual abuse, fraud, assault, domestic abuse, driving while intoxicated, money laundering, cyber crimes, government corruption, vandalism, arson, conspiracy against rights, and medical and legal mal-practice. In todays socio-economic upheaval we need all the resources available to suppress gang violence, prevent home invasion and protect our citizens against real threats to their safety. With the lessening of profits available in the street drug business, that will certainly come about with the end of prohibition, our inner-city youth will have more incentive to get an education and seek a ligitimate career. No more kingpins.

2) Cut Government Spending: Cap on Taxes Ending proibition of cannabis will allow the introduction of the highly prolific hemp industy in New York State, which produces the essentials of life: food, clothing and shelter, and a multi-purpose medicine, thus giving non-profit charities the key ingredients for aiding the poor and disabled citizens, and eliminating nearly all of the need for state funding for welfare, medicaid, H.U.D., and Food Stamps.

3) Freedom of Enterprise The hemp industry was a standard part of the spectrum of agricultural and manufacuring business ventures in nearly every state in the country until it's prohibition was established deceptively by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Millions of Americans were in one way or another benefiting from hemp industries and were unaware that the arbitrary banning of marijuana was actually a ban on hemp. Had it been clearly explained to the public the law would likely have been opposed by an overwhelming majority. The cultivation of hemp never posed any serious threat to public safety, and in fact only threatened some newly invented pharmaceuticals.

4) Right to Bear Arms The unconstitutional prohibition of cannabis exposes free and upstanding citizens who grow the herb for personal use to felony charges which deprives them of their right to keep and bear arms and violates their right to privacy and sovereignty in the home. Let us not give the government licence to invade us.

5) Freedom of Education Choices Just as Conservatives value the right to pray in schools, the implication by police in D.A.R.E. programs, that the choice to use marijuana, as opposed to store-bought cold medicine, such as Nyquil is inherently self destructive, is not scientific and imposes a particular religious stance on our children, comparable to telling our children that God is not real. The role of public schools is to teach our children about science and generally accepted morals, not one religious stance or another. It is a family choice to teach kids our personal ideals.

6) Economic Prosperity Ending prohibition of cannabis will introduce a wide array of hemp products, grown and manufactured here in New York, including food, clothing, rope, canvas, building materials, fuel, and cosmetics. The production of so many valuable saleable items here at home will make way for many prosperous, self- sufficient economic networks. Our children won't have to wonder where they will work, because the job market will arguably be growing nearly as fast as the hemp fields. The lessening of the need for public welfare programs will free up government funds and open the opportunity to introduce sizeable tax-break incentives for new businesses. Allowing marijuana users to grow their own will allow them to save on healthcare and return their money to the mainstream economy. Let's put the criminal drug dealers out of business.

7) Medical Practice Accountability Without the restrictive control of the individual's free choice of medical treatments, the pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers will not be able to corrupt the medical establishments by encouraging certain prescriptions for the benefit of private corporate interests.

8) Freedom of Religion Many conservatives strongly believe that use of any mind-altering substance is morally damaging and should be kept from reaching our children. However, the current laws are a blatant invasion of people's rights to make their own moral judgements concerning what medicines to use, and whether or not to engage in euphoric practices. Prohibition is encouraging government to make arbitrary decisions on which freedoms to violate, depending on what party or political agenda is in control. The unavoidable truth is that not everyone's religion calls for the same guidelines, therefore we can not make state laws based on a certain group's religious convictions. That is a violation of the separation of church and state. We should follow the example of the founding fathers by opposing any infringement on rights and thereby protect our offspring from being subject to the future loss of their own freedoms. As long as your religion is not becoming an invasion of someone else's safety and well being, your religion is lawful and protected within the Constitution.

9) Right to Privacy If you allow the government to control what plants you grow on your own property even when you pose no real threat to neighbors or the community, then you are allowing government to violate your constitutional rights, committing treason against the country. If you let the government invade us because of regulations on plants, you are certainly encouraging the arbitrary invasion of whatever rights the acting regime might want to deprive us of in order to gain more control over our personal freedoms. You have a right to grow food, medicine and herbs on your own property. Prohibition of alcohol was destructive to the peace and tranquility of communities and so is prohibition of cannabis.

read more digg story

02 March 2009

Rush Limbaugh's CPAC Speech in Full

Perusing through the plethora of YouTube videos that has Rush's Speech in it's entirety is a bit of a mishmash, so I figured I'd post them here... In order, along with some responses from the Mainstream Media.

One of Ten

Two of Ten

Three of Ten

Four of Ten

Five of Ten

ix of Ten

Seven of Ten

Eight of Ten

Nine of Ten

Ten of Ten

Keith Oberman's Delusional Response

Ron Christie Defends Rush at CNN

01 March 2009

The Young Turks, More Partisan Bickering.

This is kind of old, but for a fleeting moment, I thought to myself, WOW, for once I have to agree with these guys. Of course, in the end though, he makes this all about the Evil "Republicans" vs the "Saitly" Democrats. What he fails to say however, is the fact that the Democrats have been in charge of Congress for the past 2 years and could have crafted this in any way they wanted to. They've been in the majority since the 2006 Elections, so why the outrage against JUST the Republicans. Once again, The Young Turks prove themselves to be nothing but a mouth peice for the Democrat Party.

I checked their You Tube Video's to see if they had something similarly critical of Obama's Trillion Dollar "Bailout" or his nearly 4 Trillion Dollar budget, and of course there's nothing there critisizing that level of outrageous spending. So there you have it, these so called "Rebels" are nothing more than

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