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PW logo Obama to Announce Iraqi Troop Withdrawl Obama Scales Back Executive Power
Burris Refuses Plea to Resign Holder Will Stay Away
Burris Will Not Resign, Will Not Run in 2010 GOP Strategy for Obama Not Working Yet

News from the Votemaster

Bunning Apologizes to Ginsburg

Sen. Jim Bunning apologized to Justice Ruth Ginsburg for saying she would be dead in 9 months. In a statement released by his office he said: "I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsburg. That certainly was not my intent. It is great to see her back at the Supreme Court today and I hope she recovers quickly."

This statement can best be compared to that stuff sometimes found on the ground behind the rear end of a bull. Sentence 1 contains a conditional apology. If she wasn't offended, then there is no apology. That the original comment was in very bad taste, not befitting anyone, let alone a United States senator, is not mentioned. Sentence 2 might be literally true. He didn't mean it as a personal shot at Ginsburg. He meant it as a warning to Obama that when she dies he better not appoint another liberal or he will not vote to confirm her. That is probably worse than if he had a personal dislike for Ginsburg. Finally, he is happy to see her at work again. What a hypocrite. He may or may not have anything personal against her (he probably has never even met her) but he vigorously opposes how she votes on the Court. The only reason he might be happy to see her at work again is the small chance she will survive past Jan. 20, 2013 and a potential future Republican President could appoint her successor. But the odds of that are very small. Pancreatic cancer is indeed deadly and Ginsburg probably won't survive to see another President, but she is smart enough to resign long before the next Presidential election.

This kind of incident is what makes Americans so cynical about politicians. A senator makes a statement that was not exactly correct (how could he know when she might die--he's a former baseball player, not a former doctor) but the spirit of which was correct (Ginsburg probably won't survive to 2013). Then there is a storm about it and he sort of half takes back what he said in a particularly fawning way that nobody with an IQ above 60 could possibly believe. It is no wonder the Republicans are doing everything they can to push him out of the Senate short of offering the Democrats a trade: we kick out Bunning and you kick out Burris. Of course, Bunning is not the first politician to speak something approximating the truth and then getting flak for it and having to sort of retract it. But people don't like that.

Bank Nationalization Gets Closer

The Obama administration made a small technical change to the bailout program but one with great emotional consequences. Instead of getting preferred stock or IOUs for the bailout money, the government would get common stock, either now or later. Consider Citbank. Its stock is now worth $12 billion. In other words, an investor could buy 100% of Citibank for $12 billion. The government is considering giving Citibank $30 billion. If Citibank has to issue new common stock at the current price for that money, the government would then own 30/42 of Citibank and would become the majority stockholder. In effect, the government would own Citibank. But as long as it is not called "nationalization" it is OK.

Many economists have called for nationalization of insolvent banks in one form or another, followed by replacing current management with new people (presumably chosen by Sec. Timothy Geithner and/or Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke) who would clean up the mess and eventually auction off the government's $30 billion worth of shares. With a bit of luck, the sale would generate $30 billion or more, getting the taxpayers off the hook. This is precisely what was done in the 1980s in the aftermath of the savings & loan crisis. A government corporation, the Resolution Trust Corporation, took over the insolvent S&L's, cleaned up the mess, sold off the assets that still had value, and closed down when the job was done. The main problem is doing the same thing again in a way that is not called nationalization. Sort of like Medicare or veterans health care not being called "socialized medicine," even though they are government run health programs. Names matter.

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