You Know Things Are Bad When….the Mortgage Bankers Association Puts THIS On Sale….

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

The Washington Business Journal is reporting that the MBA is putting it’s nearly-new headquarters building up for sale:

MBA puts new headquarters up for sale – Washington Business Journal

The Mortgage Bankers Association is putting its new downtown headquarters building up for sale, citing the economic downturn.

The MBA’s headquarters, a 170,000-square-foot, 10- story building at 1331 L St. NW, was completed in the summer of 2008.

Spiffy "green" MBA Headquarters

The Association’s chief executive officer has decided that it would be “imprudent” to hang onto the building, which is one of a very few in Washington D.C. that meets “green” building standards:

“Since its purchase in May 2008, the U.S. economy has suffered one of the most severe recessions in a century, and the residential and commercial real estate markets have deteriorated,” said MBA chief executive John Courson in a letter to members.“ These factors, coupled with a challenging leasing environment, led the MBA board to conclude that continued ownership of 1331 L Street was economically imprudent, and over the long term would impair MBA’s ability to continue providing out members with MBA’s full range of services.”

I”m not exactly what services they provide to members, but I hope they’re giving them free lessons on how NOT to make crummy loans…

…’Nuff said…

Flattering Parade Magazine Spread on Hillary Clinton Let’s a Few Tidbits Drop About Her Situation

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Yesterday morning (Sunday, October 25) I opened the paper to find Parade magazine’s cover graced with a photo of a smiling Hillary Clinton. Reason? A 2-plus page spread entitled “A Day with Madam Secretary.”

Hillary Clinton on the cover of Parade magazine 10/25/09

Hillary Clinton on the cover of Parade magazine 10/25/09

The timing piqued my interest because just on Friday I had caught a discussion of Clinton on The McLaughlin Group.  Host John McLaughlin had outlined several successful Clinton initiatives that had been completed during the past week and wanted to discuss how important it all was…with a twist.  There have been rumors flying around about how Hillary is planning a 2012 run and how both Clintons are seething over what happened in 2008. While Pat Buchanan, Mort Zuckerman, and Eleanor Clift poo-pooed the idea, Monica Crowley held firm.

Zuckerman and Buchanan basically said that Hillary’s work wasn’t really “big” enough to get all that excited over and Clift brought up how, no matter how popular Teddy Kennedy was, he couldn’t derail the renomination of Jimmy Carter.  But Crowley, was sticking to chatter that she’s been hearing for awhile…that Hillary will resign over a foreign policy issue and launch another Presidential bid.  She won’t wait for 2016, either, when Crowley says she would be too old. No, the bid will come in 2012.

Take a look at the Parade piece. The piece is the work of Les Gelb, described this way:

Leslie H. Gelb is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served in senior positions in the Departments of State and Defense. He is the author of the book “Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy.”

What’s omitted from this bio is the fact was a long-time foreign policy writer for the New York Times. Just for the record…

The article is positively glowing, but there a few tidbits which raise one’s “suspicions”…


September 16
8:30 a.m. Daily Small Staff Meeting

The Secretary and six of her closest aides, including Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and Deputy Chief Huma Abedin, both of whom worked on her Presidential campaign, review the day’s schedule, looking for trouble and opportunities. They meet in Clinton’s small, personal office just behind her larger, formal quarters. Practically every day begins this way. They touch on various explosive international hot spots: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, North Korea. Though they don’t talk about it, they seem ever aware of President Barack Obama’s iron-handed control of decisions. One worry today: the President’s decision to cancel the U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe—a move bound to displease Poles, Czechs, and Republicans.

8:45 a.m. Daily Senior Staff Meeting

snip

Whatever subject comes up, Clinton calls on her practical instinct: “ We’ve got to do a better job explaining to people around the world what we’re doing.”

She manages to get to the White House to meet with Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada at 11:05; no report on the meeting which is off-limits to Gelb, then is back at State by 12:10 PM for ceremony for Senegalese diplomats.

During their lunch break, Gelb brings up the topic of a resignation directly:

1 p.m. Lunch With Leslie Gelb
We eat in the courtyard adjoining the State Department’s first-floor employee cafeteria. Diners gape as Clinton goes through the line, although she does this—most unusually for the nation’s top diplomat—nearly once a month. Many burst into applause.

We sit at a table away from the crowd. Clinton has a hard edge to her foreign-policy views and generally positions herself to the right of her colleagues in national security. Yet she staunchly defends President Obama and his prerogatives. While she’s “not satisfied that we’re executing as we should” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere, she nonetheless argues for continuing “present directions” in most areas. When I question whether the U.S. really has vital interests in Afghanistan, she shoots back that if we simply leave and allow the Taliban to return, al-Qaeda “would come right back, and we’d be worse off in Pakistan.” She continues: “Despite how hard Afghanistan is, we have to make progress. And what we do and what happens in Afghanistan will affect Pakistan.” Regarding Iran, she says, “We can’t choose negotiating partners in countries like Iran. So we’ve got to look for ways to change the perceptions of those we have to negotiate with.”

And what of the rumors, I venture, that she’s unhappy and may step down to run for governor of New York or her old Senate seat? She guffaws. “What nonsense! I love this job and working for President Obama and trying to do something about the critical problems we face in the world—and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Odd though, that Gelb should ostensibly limit the discussion to being governor of NY or running for the Senate again.  Why even bring these rumors up if they’re just rumors that most people don’t even care about?

Right after lunch, there’s this brief report:

2:15 p.m. U.S.-India Strategy Dialogue
Some 60 Executive Branch officials assemble to discuss strategy toward India—one of the new major powers in the world. Clinton stays briefly to bless the effort.

Seems like there’s really no need for Clinton to “bless” any effort when there are 60 EXECUTIVE BRANCH officials all gathered together, right?  Doesn’t Hillary have a role in this at all?

Winding up the day with a 7:30 PM policy dinner on Iran with some 30 experts from inside and outside the government, Gelb makes these final comments:

I scurry to catch the last flight back to New York. The Secretary, with her unfailing smile, repairs to her office for more calls and reading. It’s hard to read the mind of someone frozen in the public spotlight like Hillary Clinton. She has to be perpetually onstage. But what I think I glimpse beneath the unflagging smile and constant concentration is a very tired person—tense, frustrated, but absolutely determined to make her tenure as Secretary of State a success and to accomplish important things.

While this spread in Parade is flattering, one gets the sense of  how tightly Hillary is controlled by the White House and how she may be getting squelched on larger issues.

Frankly, I view Hillary Clinton as being the “finger in the dike” for U.S. foreign policy at this point.  Obama’s bowed to the Saudi leader. He’s squandered our prestige over a failed Olympic bid for Chicago, and he’s dithering on Afghanistan. (Note: France announced on October 15, 2009 it won’t be sending any more troops to Afghanistan). China may be drilling for oil in U.S. waters.  And let’s not forget to mention Obama’s prior rebuffed peace offerings toward Iran.   Hillary talks tougher than Obama does, but, unfortunately, she’s not the one in charge.

Meanwhile, some of our allies are less than pleased about Obama. France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, thinks Obama is “incredibly naive and grossly egotistical.”  After Obama’s speech to the U.N. Security Council in late September (spun nicely here by the New York Times), Jack Kelly appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show, but here’s link to the full piece he wrote on the subject entitled “Sarkozy’s Contempt for Obama”  (anonymous sources, unfortunately).

Vodpod videos no longer available.

While most world leaders dutifully praised the Nobel Prize awarded to Obama, the many were unimpressed. And there is some fraying around the edges lately, from both the right and the left. See and Obama the Impotent in the Guardian and Analysis: Why Everyone Is Saying No to Obama in the Jerusalem Post.  Obama is viewed as weak, no doubt about it.

I can’t imagine how Hillary Clinton keeps chugging along in this Administration and can fully understand her “frustration.” As for her desire to accomplish important things, she’s pushing against some forces that really don’t want her to get credit for anything “important.”  Heck, when you are up against 60 Executive Branch officials at a meeting on India and you don’t stay very long, what does that say about your position??

Whether Hillary Clinton is planning to take on Obama in the primaries for 2012 or not, there may just come a point where she really DOES decide to resign rather than to have her reputation ruined if Obama does something really stupid.  We’ll have to see, won’t we?

***

Earlier Related Posts:

The Complicated Diplomatic Life of Hillary Clinton (UPDATE 1X: Clinton on the Defensive in Congo over Bill’s “Presence”; UPDATE 2X: Bill Off the Leash?; UPDATE 3X: Video of Clinton Congo Outburst, Glenn Beck Comments) (August 10, 2009)

Hillary Clinton At It Again in Africa…This Time, Talking about Elections…(August 13, 2009)

China Gearing Up to Drill for Oil in U.S. Territory in the Gulf of Mexico?

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Back in the beginning of the year we noted how the Chinese were expanding their influence by buying all sorts of resource companies around the globe, including sources of oil. (See: The Past Week: February 22-28, 2009 (Laura Bush Lives On; Budget Director Peter Orszag/Robert E. Rubin, Iceland Bankrupters; China Taking Advantage of U.S. Weakness As It Looks to Buy Foreign Oil Companies?; U.S. Deaths Spike in Afghanistan; Baracus Caesar Obamacus Meets Barackistanis).

A few years ago the U.S. was able to rebuff a move to by China to buy Unocal. But things have changed dramatically we now can see how our poor financial situation is affecting our ability to handle outside economic threats…and security. According to the LA Times:

China’s push for oil in Gulf of Mexico puts U.S. in awkward spot

A Chinese company’s gambit to drill for oil in U.S. territory demonstrates China’s determination to lock up the raw materials it needs to sustain its rapid growth, wherever those resources lie.

The state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp., or CNOOC, reportedly is negotiating the purchase of leases owned by the Norwegian StatoilHydro in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico, the source of about a quarter of U.S. crude oil production.

China’s push to enter U.S. turf comes four years after CNOOC’s $18.5-billion bid to buy Unocal Corp. was scuttled by Congress on national security grounds. The El Segundo oil firm eventually merged with Chevron Corp. of San Ramon.

There is some question about what will happen this time around. The speculation in the piece is that due to our economy and the need for cooperation between the U.S.and China, there may not be any real backlash to the current deal.

In addition, since the U.S. has welcomed oil investments in the Gulf of Mexico from other foreign companies, such as Britain’s BP, Brazil’s Petrobras, France’s Total and Shell (Dutch), as well as others, saying “no” to the Chinese may get a little sticky.

But most serious are  the foreign policy implications of China’s moves:

The U.S. risks undercutting its foreign policy goals as well. Concern is growing over China’s aggressive investment in oil-rich nations with anti-U.S. regimes, including Iran and Sudan. Denying China a shot at drilling in U.S. waters would only encourage Beijing to make deals in volatile regions given that new oil reserves in stable, democratic nations are getting harder to find.

more

Gee, do you get the feeling that things are closing in on us a bit?

Will Congress have any response?  Will there be any leadership from the Obama Administration?  What will Hillary Clinton be thinking and how much leeway will she have in dealing with the situation?  Or will she be ordered to sit on her hands?

Time will tell…


This Would Be the Laugh of the Day if It Weren’t So Aggravating: Pious Rationalizations About “Morality in the Marketplace” from Our Buddies at Goldman Sachs

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Gee whiz, we’re supposed to feel sorry for the health insurance industry if there’s a public option for healthcare and Lord knows, allowing that Bush tax cut which benefits the top 2% income bracket to expire is positively horrific.

And the people at FOX “News” and Rush Limbaugh keep weeping over all this, but do they ever express similar angst over THIS?   NAH!!!

Goldman Sachs’s Griffiths Says Inequality Helps All

A Goldman Sachs International adviser defended compensation in the finance industry as his company plans a near-record year for pay, saying the spending will help boost the economy.

“We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” Brian Griffiths, who was a special adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said yesterday at a panel discussion at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The panel’s discussion topic was, “What is the place of morality in the marketplace?”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., based in New York, set aside $16.7 billion for compensation and benefits in the first nine months of 2009, up 46 percent from a year earlier and enough to pay each worker $527,192 for the period. The amount set aside this year is just shy of the all-time high $16.9 billion allocated in the first three quarters of 2007. Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael DuVally in New York declined to comment.

Hey, isn’t some of that money from US, the despised little people who’ve been funding this financial feast?

But I guess “tolerating” all that “inequality” must be one helluva burden to bear, indeed.  And exactly how much are we are boosting the economy?

Of course, this kind of rationalization by a former Thatcherite just goes to show how the “Goldman Grip” extends outside U.S. borders.

More claptrap follows…notice the emphasis on “giving” to improve business reputations:

Griffiths, 67, called on bankers to boost their charitable giving to help improve the financial industry’s reputation following a worldwide crisis.

‘Much Is Expected’

“To whom much is given much is expected,” he said. “There is a sense that if you make money you are expected to give.”

And Griffiths rambles on:

Griffiths said that banks should hire and promote people based on criteria beyond how much money they could or did make.

“It was the failed moral compass of bankers which was primarily responsible for why we had this crisis,” he said. “The question is: what can we do in the culture of institutions to make them behave in a more socially responsible way?”

What can you do?  Well, why not stop offering the huge, friggin’ packages for a start!!  Of course, all you hear is the the constant drumbeat about how it’s impossible to get the “best talent” without these huge compensation deals…

Give me a break!!

My Apologies to Terry O’Neill, President of NOW, Who Actually Has Been Doing What She Said She Would Do

~~By  InsightAnalytical-GRL

In my previous post, Surprise, Surprise: Obama Advisor (Female) Thinks Sharia Law is “Misunderstood”, I made this caustic comment:

What’s up with this willingness by “liberal” women to sell out women?  We saw it with Ms. Magazine and all many female Democrats during the primaries.  Supposedly NOW chose a woman to head the organization who is ready for a fight, but I haven’t heard a peep out of her, have you?

I still feel the same way about Ms. Magazine and other so-called “progressive/liberal” women’s publications and Obama supporters who have managed to excuse the misogynistic vein which runs through the Obama crew.

However, I must update some of what’s going on with NOW and offer a bit of an apology to Terry O’Neill of NOW.  Today I saw in the a story in the Albuquerque Journal that piqued my interest in revisiting NOW.

This story was an AP piece, which means I can’t quote it nor link to it under penalty of legal action.

The gist of the story is that NOW’s new President , Terry O’Neill (elected in June 2009), has been working on trying to assess what health care “reform” will mean to women. (More on this further down)

But, the old story of creepy men has become a top concern due to the Roman Polanski arrest and David Letterman’s revelations about his dalliances with women employees.  O’Neill has been quick to respond to those who try to makes excuses for these louses. See below for links to O’Neill’s statements on both of these clods.

Amazingly the AP article reports that while O’Neill has recieved a surge of emails to NOW about the latest Letterman revelations, many of them criticize HER, calling her a “man-hater.”

Sigh.

O’Neill has been on Letterman’s case since June, when he spewed this, as described in the Atlantic:

Jun 12 2009, 9:50 am by Chris Good

NOW Condemns Letterman

After this week’s flap between Sarah Palin and David Letterman, which started when Letterman cracked a joke about Palin’s “slutty flight attendant look” and another about her daughter getting “knocked up” by New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, the National Organization for Women has condemned Letterman’s jokes and is asking its supporters to write to CBS and voice criticism.

Letterman was added to NOW’s Media Hall of Shame after this incident (see page 5). (You might be interested to see the latest additions to the list…Glenn Beck is currently the most recent addition, but lo and behold, there’s a dig at the Huffington Post for their games with women’s chests right underneath…)

On the subject of these crappy “reform” plans, I heard a two-second blurb on the radio “news” a few weeks ago about the restoration of funding for “abstinence only” education, which has been called a complete failure.  The Senate Finance Committee actually restored funding to this crap at the behest of Sen. Orrin Hatch with the help of two Democrats, Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) joining with all the Republicans on the Committee. JERKS!!

Read more about it at NOW’s call to action so that this garbage will be out of the final bill when reaches the Senate floor: Abstinence-Only Education Shouldn’t Make the Cut and also check out the Center for Public Integrity on who’s behind Sen. Hatch’s move for restoration and the kinds of money wasted on the lie-laden program.

Another Action Alert includes a broader discussion of  the “reform” plans and their impact on women: Bad Health Care Bill Penalizes Women: More Amendments Limiting Reproductive Health Care and Excessive Premium Rates for Older Women .

NOW is also supporting a single-payer system.

After the debacle of the 2009 Democratic primaries and NOW’s support of Obama, it’s good to see that Terry O’Neill seems to be more on target with a message that really is pro-women. This older “war horse” is doing exactly what she said she would do.

Of course, you may not see or hear much of her unless you look at the paper for a story buried under a piece about bears favoring minivans when they go out steal food at the national parks (yes, on page D4 of the Albuquerque Journal).

And for sure, you won’t see Terry O’Neill on TEE VEE very often, either.  After all, she’s OLD and her chest probably not up to snuff…

***

O’Neill Statements:

The Latest Letterman Controversy Raises Workplace Issues for Women (October 6, 2009)

NOW President Terry O’Neill Calls Polanski Furor “Dangerous Talk” That Could Set Back Women’s Rights/”Celebrity Culture Gone Haywire” Blurs Case, O’Neill Says (October 2, 2009)

Hedging Our Bets…Hedging Our Futures

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I have a load of interesting things to write about, but no time.  But it’s not the usual daily chores and appointments.

Lately I’ve been wracking my brains about what to do with all the cash I raised as I eased out of the market after last year’s crash.

I’ve take some small steps, but most of the time I’ve been reading a lot and worrying.

Now, I’m REALLY worrying…I stumbled upon this link a couple of days ago…

Now, we’ve all see those little “how much you need to survive during your retirement years” calculators, some of which seem to think we’re going to be having normal economic conditions in the foreseeable future.

But it’s apparent now that our dollar is going to sink.  The hope is that it will do so gracefully, but there’s always the chance that things will get chaotic.

The unsuspecting public doesn’t have a clue about all this.  But retirees who are facing another 20-30 years on the planet are shaking in their boots if they have any knowledge of what’s going on.

Of course, I’m one who is totally immersed in this, so the calculator I found really lit even more of a fire under me.  This calculator is painfully detailed and will probably make you faint if you fill it out with some seriousness.

You’ll learn a bit about some of the parameters as you go along since every field is explained below  the tool. (Note: this is an online calculator, nothing to download.) And, here’s how this in-depth tool is described:

The Advantages of a Return on Investment Calculator

Return on investment calculator is a handy software tool that helps a layperson comb through the cobwebs of financial and investment planning. Most of the people feel genuinely sick when adjusting the tax deductions and effects of inflation on the actual investment returns.

Be brave.  Check it out:

RETURN ON INVESTMENT CALCULATOR

I can honestly say that not only did I feel sick, but I felt scared to death.

But, it’s something to confront, NOW!~

And, if you want to see what some smart folks are talking about how to cope with our situation today and in the future, do check out the links on the sidebar under the “Economic News/Analysis/Contrarian Blogs.” One of my absolute favorite hangouts is ChrisMartenson.com.   The Daily Digest is a must read for stories are ignored by the mass media and the discussions are full of informative links and insight. Do make sure to visit that site if you only have time to check out one site…It’s right at the top of the list…

The World Bank Running Out of Money?

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Well, here at home the FDIC is broke, but guess what?

The World Bank is on the verge of going broke, too…

According to the  Telegraph (U.K.):

World Bank could ‘run out of money’ within 12 months

(SNIP)

The Bank, whose job it is to support low-income countries, has had to hand out so much cash in the wake of the financial crisis that it faces a shortfall in what it can spare for new projects within 12 months.

“By the middle of next year we will face serious constraints,” said its president Robert Zoellick, as he launched a major campaign to persuade rich nations to pour more money into the Washington-based institution.

He conceded that such a task was likely to be extremely difficult, given the difficulties facing countries in the wake of the developed world’s biggest recession since the Second World War.

Although the Bank has enough cash to fund existing projects and its day-to-day operations, the demands thrown up by the global recession have meant it may need extra capital contributions from rich nations to bolster its balance sheet if it is to satisfy such needs.

Mr Zoellick, speaking at the opening of the IMF and World Bank annual meetings in Istanbul, said the Bank needed a capital increase of $3bn-$5bn, though others suspect the eventual need could be higher still.

SNIP

The money would be shared between the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development – the key part of the bank, which lends to poor nations – and the International Financial Corporation (IFC), which lends to companies.

The World Bank has pretty much screwed poorer countries with the terms of the largesse they’ve offered in the past, but, nonetheless, it’s still pretty amazing that this oufit would be afraid of  running out of cash.

What an economic cesspool we’re in…

***

By the way, Robert Zoellick is an alumnus of the George W. Bush Administration…