Friday, February 20, 2009

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Fred Barnes is an ass.

Two And A Half Dubyas

So, Obama's approval rating is a good 2.5 times that of Bush's end of term numbers. Still has a 92% approval among Dems, and 61% among Independents...but that 31% among Republicans means of course that he's a total failure.

Epic Existentialism Fail

I submit the above EPIC FAILS through its own existence.

Loose Lips Sink CEOs

Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis is trying to keep the worst kept secret in Washington: Plan N. He's not doing too hot of a job.
Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis tried to assure his senior team that the bank would not be seized by the government, the WSJ says. As nationalization talk gains momentum in Washington, Lewis also reportedly asked the government to say publicly that it is not considering this option.

WSJ: Mr. Lewis addressed the nationalization speculation during a senior leadership meeting Thursday at the bank's headquarters, according to a person there. Policy officials in Washington have assured Mr. Lewis that such an option isn't on the table, the CEO said. He also said he has urged the government to say this publicly.

It's not clear which "policy officials" Lewis was referring to, exactly. Presumably some folks at the Treasury and Fed. Nationalization is now emphatically "on the table" in Washington, with Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and others publicly calling for it.

The other news about Lewis that we can infer from this article is that he's likely losing the support of his senior team. Unless Lewis himself ordered the leak--perhaps in an attempt to get the "nationalization not on the table" idea into the press again--Bank of America's senior team is now going around him to the press (and quickly, too).

This, combined with the crushed stock price, Merrill Lynch deal, and Cuomo subpoena, suggest that Ken Lewis's tenure is not long for this world.

And that's putting it mildly. I'm gonna say that Bank of America is not long for this world, and that includes a number of other banks, including Citigroup.

Some sort of government receivership of these banks will be required very, very soon. The calls for Plan N are growing louder every day. Ken's fighting for his job, understandably. But he's on the losing side of history here, and the tsunami is coming for him and a lot of other bank CEOs here in the next few months...maybe even weeks.

[UPDATE] Add Senate banking committee chair Chris Dodd to the list of folks saying "Plan N is go". Citigroup and BoA stocks taking a complete nosedive at this hour.

Benny Up To Bat

As widely expected, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu has been given a chance to form a coalition government with himself as Prime Minister.

The decision comes after Avigdor Lieberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, said he would recommend Netanyahu for the post, but only if he promises to form a "broad-based" coalition government.

In last week's parliamentary elections, no single party won the minimum 61 seats needed to form a government. That means a government of two or more parties is virtually inevitable.

To become Israel's next prime minister, Netanyahu must form a coalition within six weeks, or the process will start all over.

The ruling moderate Kadima Party won the most seats in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. But Kadima, led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, received one more seat than Netanyahu's conservative Likud Party.

The strong showing of other right-wing parties -- including Yisrael Beytenu and the Orthodox Shas movement -- could give Netanyahu a better chance of forming a coalition government.
With the other right-wing parties backing him up, Netanyahu does have the support to form a government. The question at this point is will it include the moderate Kadima party of Livni or not.

Netanyahu can't afford to freeze them out, or he seriously risks damaging relations with President Obama. I'm curious as to how he will balance what Lieberman and the ultra-nationalists want with what Livni and the moderates want. If you thought Obama had to walk a fine line, you don't want to be in Bibi's shoes.

Right now all sides are talking inclusion and power-sharing and uniting to help Israel. That'll change once Netanyahu gets settled. I predict serious friction between the US and Israel in 2009. From an objective point of view, Netanyahu's job is actually worse than Obama's predicament right now.

Oh Please Let This Happen

Over at National Review's blog The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez puts up possibly the funniest, most fever-bright insane-o-vision suggestion I've seen in quite some time, the notion of the GOP Populist Ticket Of Megastupid, where she slyly suggests that the cure to AFOP is a combination of Aurora Sarahalis and CNBC's Rick Santelli.

Who the hell is Rick Santelli? Much like Chase CEO Jamie Dimon yesterday, Rick has gone on a Jim Cramer style tirade against Obama's mortgage plan, saying that people need to revolt against it becuase "the government is promoting bad behavior."

Yep. Trillions in free money for banks, fine. But $75 billion to keep Americans in their homes? The government and Obama are "subsidizing the losers".

So yes. Let's see the GOP embrace this notion of Wall Street hotshots getting trillions in taxpayer loans and capital telling the American people to go screw themselves with a length of PVC pipe for wanting to keep a roof over their heads. Please. Let's go back to blaming Americans who bought a home over the last two years and made the same mistake that Wall Street did and didn't anticipate the housing bubble.

Let's throw these "losers" out on the street and give their homes to the banks, along with trillions of our tax dollars. Run with that notion, guys. Run with it.

[UPDATE] John Cole has more, and White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs tells Santelli to stick it.


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