Banking on Congress
This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) officials are pushing various agencies charged with regulating banks, such as the Treasury’s Office of Thrift Supervision to more aggressively give problem banks lower ratings than they may now be receiving from regulators. Regulators give banks a rank between 1 and 5. Well-managed banks get a 1, problem banks receive a 4 or 5. The FDIC wants to see more banks getting 4s or 5s.
In late July, I wrote to U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass. to suggest that they jointly hold hearings on the FDIC’s ability to deal with potential bank failures in the next several years. In the letter, I noted that in a March 10, 2008 memorandum on insurance assessment rates, Arthur J. Murton, Director of the Division of Insurance and Research for the FDIC stated:
While 99 percent of insured institutions meet the “well capitalized” criteria, the possibility remains that the fund could suffer insurance losses that are significantly higher than anticipated. The U.S. economy and the banking sector currently face a significant amount of uncertainty from ongoing housing sector problems, financial market turbulence and potentially weak prospects for consumer spending. These problems could lead to significantly higher loan losses and weaker earnings for insured institutions.
FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair, however, has been singing a more upbeat tune. She recently said, "The banking system in this country remains on a solid footing through the guarantees provided by FDIC insurance. The overwhelming majority of banks in this country are safe and sound and the chances that your own bank could fail are remote. However, if that does happen, the FDIC will be there - as always - to protect your insured deposits."
Despite these reassuring words, the recent failure of IndyMac highlights the need for tough Congressional oversight. Banking experts have indicated that the cost of the collapse of IndyMac alone will be between $4 billion and $8 billion. The FDIC has approximately $53 billion on hand to deal with bank failures. This amount may not be adequate, given the cost of IndyMac and given the approximately $4 trillion in deposits the FDIC insures.
Congressional oversight of the financial services industry and its regulators should be a topic priority for Congress. I even suggested several questions that should be put to FDIC officials such as:
1. Was IndyMac on the list of “Problem Institutions” before it failed?
2. Were the other banks that failed this year on the FDIC list of “Problem Institutions”?
3. What is the anticipated cost of dealing with the failures of the other four banks that failed this year?
4. As of March 31, 2008 the FDIC reported 90 “Problem Institutions” with assets of $26 billion. What is the current number of “Problem Institutions” and what are the assets of these “Problem Institutions”?
5. How many banks are likely to fail in 2008 and 2009 respectively?
6. What is the estimated range of costs of dealing with the projected failures?
7. What will the effect of higher losses than those projected be on the FDIC’s estimate of the proper reserve ratio?
8. What are the FDIC’s projections for reserves needed and potential bank failures beyond 2009?
9. Is the FDIC resisting raising the current rates of assessments on FDIC insured banks so that the cost of any significant bailouts will have to be shifted to the taxpayers?
10. Does the Government Accountability Office (GAO) believe that the existing rate schedule for banks to pay into the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) is set at the proper level?
It would also make sense for Congress to revisit the FDIC’s current approach to setting reserve ratios for banks.
The FDIC is not likely to address its own inability to clearly assess the current risks posed to depositors and taxpayers by the high-rolling, bailout-prone banking industry.
When Congress reconvenes after Labor Day it would be prudent for Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank to focus on the FDIC and our nation’s troubled banks through some tough no-holds-barred hearings. These two lawmakers are going to have to hear from the people back home soon.
Neither Senator Dodd nor Congressman Frank have responded to my letter of July 23, 2008.
Stephanie Tubbs Jones died yesterday. She really was something. She will be sorely missed. As an African-American, I applaud her for having the strength to stand with Hillary when The Cult of Barack attempted to pressure her, threaten her re-election and so much more. She was one strong woman.
Now I'm about to let it rip. C.I. asked me if I wanted a highlight there wasn't room for in the snapshot today? Absolutely. This is from Lance Selfa's "Chasing the Obama mirage" (US Socialist Worker) and he's explaining how 'progressives' like Tom Hayden and Barbara Ehrenriech rush to order other 'progressives' to support Barack:
The arguments of Progressives for Obama also head off the possibility that those genuinely interested in voting for an end to the war in Iraq, a single payer health care plan or an end to government violations of civil liberties will find prominent advocates for their point of view.
The underfunded independent candidacies of Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney and independent candidate Ralph Nader are raising those demands. But with the likes of Progressives for Obama pledging to "seek Green support against the claim of some that there are no real differences between Obama and McCain," and with Black nationalist-turned-Stalinist Amiri Baraka comparing those who would vote for McKinney or Nader to the German left whose disunity allowed Hitler to triumph (!), it's clear that genuine left voices will be muffled in 2008.
With so many millions wanting to see the end of Republican rule, Obama, rather than McKinney or Nader, will capture the vast majority of votes from those seeking progressive change. But regardless of any "moves to the center," his candidacy has raised expectations among large numbers of people that Obama has no intention of meeting. An Obama presidency will prove that--and set the stage for grassroots movements to emerge in larger form.
Amiri Baraka. I guess we should say that's his name today. He was born Everett Jones. Then he legally changed his name to Leroi Jones (1952). Then in 1967, he changed his name to Imamu Ameer Baraka. And then he changed his name to Ameer Baraka. Now one name change, no problem. But we're talking about a man born with one name who changed it three times and may go for four before he hits the finish line. And I think that many name changes indicates someone not comfortable in their own skin -- to say the least.
His first wife, pay attention to this part, says he abused her (she gave him children, by the way, that's important for what's coming up as well) and his second (current?) wife was so abused, Amiri/Leroi/Everett got his ass sentenced to community service for it.
He was a Black Nationalist at one point and then became a Communist (which is where he is today). The man is a homophobic, sexist, racist nut-job who should have been institutionalized. Instead, he walks among us. And he's eager to share that Barack must become president. In an open letter, nut job felt the need (remember the history I gave you above) to write, "Here’s a charming character who on returning from Vietnam soon dumped his 1st wife who had been severely crippled in an automobile accident, to run off with, among others, a beer brewery heiress who could support his political barn storming. " Pretty moralistic words for a man who left his first wife, the mother of his children, and that's before you throw in that Toy Leroi abused her. I'm going to call him "Toy Poodle" for the rest of this because he's just a reactionary joke. So Toy Poodle's disgusted with McCain for leaving his first wife? But Toy Poodle gets a pass?
I'm not voting for McCain, I'm not a fan of his. But divorce among veterans isn't uncommon. Then or today.
And here Toy Poodle hurls a spit-gob at the Green Party (I hope Kimberly Widler's paying attention):
For those who claim radical by supporting McKinney or, brain forbid, the Nadir of fake liberalism, we should have little sympathy. As much as I have admired Cynthia McKinney, to pose her candidacy as an alternative to Obama is at best empty idealism, at worst nearly as dangerous as when the Nader used the same windy egotism to help elect Bush.
Why Kimberly Wilder? White Momma wanted to play the race card. How's it feel when it's played back on you, White Momma? Does it smart White Momma? Does it hurt when the woman you support is judged a threat to The Cult? Maybe you can write a defense of Toy Poodle the way you rushed to defend Jeremiah Wright? Or maybe you can just offer another one of your goofy 'I'm a Green but Obama's so dreamy' posts?
White Momma's got a post on Stephanie Tubbs Jones and how wonderful she thinks the woman was but she won't tell her readers that Stephanie supported Hillary, will she? Kimberly Wilder's just a Hillary Hating White Momma which makes her a self-hating woman in my book.
Tomorrow night, I let it rip. That's your warning. C.I.'s going to put a warning in the snapshot to be sure everyone has a heads up. (At my request. I asked for that.) Something may happen and I may use "*" or "-" in words. But I don't think so. I think I'm just going to let it rip. It's my pre-Denver post where I bury the mythical Unity pony. You've been warned.
I actually had the idea for about a week now and then Kat told me about a speech C.I. gave this week. They were speaking to a woman's group. C.I. was first and did a little preface explaining the first few minutes "I'm just going to let it rip." If someone's offended, feel free to leave now or cover your ears. If you cover your ears, I'll do a hand motion at the end to let you know I'm done cursing. and anyone who wants to take issue with my language can afterwards and I apologize in advance but sometimes we just need to cut to the chase." I'm told by Kat that C.I. may have used the f-word more times in the first three minutes than you hear in the entire film Scarface. Let me pull a Mike and put this in ":D." The speech was very well received, women up on their feet applauding. When Kat was telling me about that, I told her about a post I'd been toying with writing. She listened and said I should go for it. I explained that I was worried about getting someone in trouble. She suggested I do a heads up the day before (which I'm doing here) and I also followed up with C.I. to request a heads up in tomorrow's snapshot so no one accidentally wonders over tomorrow night. (For any who wonder about my family, they're fine with it. My father's only question was, "You're not going to say ___ damn, are you?" Using the Lord's name in vain. No. I wouldn't do that. But I told him I will be referring to vaginas (with the p-word) and using a lot of strong language. He said he was sure it would be worth reading and told me not to hold back. By the way, Boyd, whomever you are, your e-mail that you sent yesterday just convinced me all the more to write this.
Also, let me pull this from the snapshot:
Yesterday evening and night time community posts revolved around the theme of 80s music so be sure to check out Rebecca's "corey hart's 'never surrender'," Ruth's "Stevie Nicks' 'Edge of Seventeen'," Kat's "Tracey Chapman's 'Fast Car'," Marcia's "Ashford & Simpson 'High Rise'," Elaine's "Cyndi Lauper" and Mike's "Tina Turner, Bangles, R.E.M.." Cedric's "Barack tells people what he thinks there problem is" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HE JUST CAN'T CONNECT!" joint-post addresses Barack. Trina's "Split Pea Soup in the Kitchen" went up this weekend as did Betty's latest chapter "Betsy and Valda come calling" and we'll note those here as well.
I really loved all the posts but I need to explain about Mike's. A friend at work asked me why he had so much trouble figuring out 80s songs? The first election he voted in was 2004. He was 18. When he's talking about it all blurring to him because his families listened to music from all eras and about how he was too young, that's what he's talking about. He was born in 1984. He's five-years-old when the 80s are ending.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tim Richard: Yes, well I would say the moral misgivings were much stronger than the political misgivings. Cause, like I said, I joined the military with the idea of defending the United States and, you know, if that had been the case, I might feel differently about the Iraq War. But now I just felt like what they were asking me to do was just flat wrong. Shooting somebody who is virtually defenseless is wrong and that's something that I didn't think I could be any part of.
7:30am - Supporters are encouraged to attend the trial
Arrive at the Ft. Carson Main Gate at 7:30 am to ensure you can get to Bldg. 6221 in time. You will need to provide a drivers license, registration, and proof of insurance if driving. Do not wear any political buttons, t-shirts, etc.
5:00 pm - Main Gate vigil and press conference
Join Robin's lawyer James Branum and supporters for a vigil and press conference at the Main Gate
1. Donate to Robin’s legal expenses
2. Send Robin letters of support, more
3. Leaflet: Support Robin Long! (PDF)
Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email email@example.com,"Iraq Veterans Against the War also encourages people to take action, "To support Jeremy, call or email Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and ask her to intervene in this case. Phone: 613.996.4974 email: firstname.lastname@example.org."
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
US Secretary of State Condi Rice snuck into Baghdad. She held a press conference there with Hoshyar Zebari (Green Zone spokesmodel for Jenny Craig as well as the country's foreign minister) to discuss the treaty they're attempting to pass off as a SOFA. Jonathan S. Landy (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Rice relaxing at Nouri al-Maliki's palatial digs declaring, "Nothing will be signed today." Of course not. Even Gordon Johndroe was attempting to slowly explain that to the press via the traveling White House (in Crawford, TX) on Tuesday. ("Drafts aren't final until they're final," Johndroe declared. "So there are drafts and there have been drafts for the last few weeks.") For those who still can't grasp it, Condi and Hoshy held a joint-press conference in the Green Zone. It was cute the way Hoshy thanked her (repeatedly) for dropping by as he pointed out that "you have so many other preoccupations, but thank you for making the time to visit us." Yes, Condi, "thank you for making the time" despite your "many other preoccupations." She's just the Secretary of State. How nice of her to make time for a war that the US launched. As the White House announced Tuesday: "Secretary Rice was scheduled to lead a delegation to the closing ceremonies of the Olympics in Beijing this coming weekend. Because of ongoing events around the world she is no longer going to be leading that delegation."
Landay was at the press confernece and asked Hoshy, "You have to put it" SOFA "through your political and national security committee, your Parliament, and Ramadan falls early this year. What will you do if you can't get this done by December 31st." Hoshy's optimistic but also noted that the draft of the agreement has to go to the Executive Council as well ("an important body").
Stephen Farrell and Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported this morning: "The main sticking points, in fact, are also the most delicate: setting a timeline for American troops to leave and declaring whether American forces would be granted immunity from Iraqi prosecution." Today at the White House, Gordon Johndroe again tried to stress the obvious: "Discussions are ongoing. We have made some progress in the recent days on an agreement with the Iraqis, but there is no final agreement yet. We will continue to have these discussions with the Iraqis." Johdnroe danced around Senate ratification at first when asked about the US Congress' role by saying certain members had been consulted but then, pressed, stated, "So it's not a treaty, so it would not require Senate ratification or anything like that." At the Pentagon, Bryan Whitman explained that "it's very premature at this point to say that we have an agreement." And it's premature to assume the US Congress is going to go along with being shut out of any process. Among the House members on record publicly raising objection to ignoring the Constituation are US House Rep Susan Davis, US Senators Russ Feingold and Hillary Clinton and US Senator and chair of the Committee of Foreign Relations Joe Biden. And for those confused about the basics, US House Reps Bill Delahunt and Rosa DeLauro explained it in a column for the Washington Post last month explained how "congressional approval of the agreement" is required and urged an alternative to the treaty:
We should extend the U.N. mandate for a short period to maintain the status quo and ultimately turn this issue over to the next president and Congress, who must implement any agreement. Rather than dictating the terms of our long-term relationship with Iraq, such a policy would allow us to work with Iraqis to craft an agreement that includes the carefully coordinated withdrawal of U.S. combat forces that majorities in both countries support. Doing so would also solidify the type of sustainable partnership that the people of the United States and Iraq need and deserve.
As so many in the press corps rush to gush and pretend a treaty has been finalized, Deborah Haynes (Times of London) appears to be the only one who looked beyond the arranged press briefings who notes that "a flying visit to Baghdad by Dr Rice, which drew a scathing reaction from the anti-US cleric Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr. He accused Washington of trying to pressure the Iraqi authorities to bend to its will."
Meanwhile, Campbell Robertson and James Glanz (New York Times) explore the Iraqi Finance Ministry claims (in figures they handed over to the Times as well as in statements to the paper) that they are spending 57% "of their annual reconstruction budget" and the paper's examination of the figures finds that 18% is the better number and if monies for the Kudistan region (which have not been spent, only allocated) is removed, the figure "drops to 8.7 percent." Stephen Farrell (New York Times) reports that Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora followed "in the footsteps of King AbdullahII of Jordan" by visiting Baghdad yesterday where he held a joint-press conference with Nouri al-Maliki "about an agreement to export oil to Lebanon." China's Xinhua quotes Sinora stating that "we advise the Arab leaders that Iraq should return to the Arab group. The return of Iraq is an essential goal." CNN adds: " Saad Hariri, the leader of Lebanon's parliamentary majority, visited Iraq last month. Lebanon named an ambassador to Iraq two years ago, but he died, and a replacement has not yet been chosen. There is an Iraqi Embassy in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon." And Dexy's back in Iraq. And apparently hasn't learned a damn thing while gone as he rushes to write a 'peace in the valley' piece for the New York Times today. In some sort of a Karmic Smackdown, his fluff runs the same day the paper editorializes "Afghanistan On Fire" (A22) which should serve to remind everyone that Kandahar is where the puppet of Afghanistan can semi-freely roam and the Green Zone in Baghdad is where the puppet of Iraq can semi-freely roam. There is no peace in either country. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 1 life and left four more people wounded and a Baghdad "sound bomb" resulted in three people being injured.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Maj Gen Ahmed Rasheed ("director of the government office that issues identification cards") was shot in Baghdad today and is "injured seriously," in another Baghdad shooting 1 person was killed and another wounded and, in seperate incidents, 2 police officers were shot dead in Mosul.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 headless corpse discovered in Mosul. Reuters notes 2 more corpses were discovered in Mosul.
In the US, Congressional opponent of the Iraq War Stephanie Tubbs Jones is dead. Tubbs Jones was a courageous member of the House who stood up for the voters and for the vote in January 2005 (along with US Senator Barbara Boxer). The New York Times had long ridiculed questions of voter fraud in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Tubbs Jones and Boxer's stand meant the press had to take it a little more seriously. Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a judge, a prosecutor and, following the November 1998 elections, a member of the House of Representatives. The Clintons -- Bill, Hillary and Chelsea -- issued the following joint-statement:
There are few words to express the shock we feel at this time our deepest condolences are with Stephanie's son, Mervyn, her family, and her many loved ones, friends, and supporters. Stephanie's friendship meant the world to us, a friendship that deepened through every trial and challenge. We could always count on her to be a shoulder on which to lean, an ear to bend, a voice to reassure. Over the course of many years, with many ups and many downs, Stephanie was right by our side -- unwavering, indefatigable. It was that fighting spirit -- safely stowed behind her disarming smile, backed by so much integrity and fiery intelligence -- that allowed Stephanie to rise from modest beginings, to succeed in public service, to become a one-woman force for progress in our country. All of us who were lucky to know her and love her can only hope now to live like her -- to be as passionate, loyal, hard charging, and joyful in life's pursuits. Stephanie was one of a kind. We will miss our friend always.
Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a strong foe against the Iraq War so her passing is included for that reason. There are many other reasons. As 2005 community members will recall, there's the White Man who refused to highlight Tubbs Jones' continued work on the Ohio vote and dismissed it (and her) in what we will just call here 'far from left' comments. No, we don't link to that trash. Among the many other reasons to note Stephanie Tubbs Jones' passing is Ruth Conniff. Apparenly Ruth's unaware that Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a friend of and super delegate for Hillary. When she does find out, she will, no doubt embarrass herself again -- as she did earlier this month by using the murder of Bill Gwatney -- a friend of Bill and Hillary's -- as an excuse to trash the Clintons. A man was shot dead in Arkansas and, for Ruth Conniff, his friendship with the Clintons provided her the perfect opportunity to scribble some more garbage attacking them. How proud she must be so have sunk so far into the gutter. Kat called Conniff out here.
Turning to the US presidential race, independent candidate Ralph Nader is providing audio commentaries at Ralph's Daily Audio and the one below is "Debates Declaration:"
This is Ralph Nader. The two major parties -- Republican and Democratic Parties -- and their candidates seem to want to ration debates in this country. Why do we allow presidential debates to be rationed?
We don't allow weather reports to be rationed, entertainment to be rationed, sporting events to be rationed. But when it comes to the future of our country and it's place in the world, when it comes to the livelihoods and the necessities of the American people, we're left with three debates, so-called, in the fall with only Barack Obama and John McCain on the stage. Their own debate commission/corporation ensures that no one else on the stage and they're really not debates, they're like parallel interviews.
So we want people to open up the debates and to support the following declaration:
"We call for opening up the debates. The scope of discussion must be as broad and deep as the serious challenges we face as a nation. We agree that vibrant debate is the heart beat of our democracy and our First Amendment especially during an election year. We recognize that smaller third parties and independents have traditionally played a vital role in our democracy including leading the charge for the abolition of slavery, the women's right to vote and economic justice for workers and farmers. We support opening up the debates beyond the two parties and the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates -- which is a private corporation, co-chaired by former chairman of the Republican and Democratic Parties -- it's time for our presidential debates to once again be hosted by truly non-partisan, civic minded associations."
If you support this declaration, let's hear from you.
jonathan s. landay
the new york times
the washington post
like maria said paz
sex and politics and screeds and attitude
the daily jot
cedrics big mix
mikey likes it
thomas friedman is a great man