The last couple weeks I have been in the Houston area doing recovery work for Hurricane Ike. The tumblr has suffered. Here is what I might have posted if the internet or downtime were at my disposal. I arrived in Houston after three flights and a long lay over in Dallas due to mechanical problems.
As if I wasn’t feeling old enough these days, the rental car company gave me a grand marquis. I got the last car in Austin and I saw this poor young couple from Houston that had just come back from Europe and couldn’t get home. I gave them a ride into town [Side note: They work for NASA mission control. Freaking fascinating!].
I was staying at the Hilton (hooray for expense reports), but don’t be misled, this was not the lap of luxury. Paris wouldn’t have stepped foot in there. No water, no power and the smell of feet everywhere. I navigated by cell phone for a while until we got power back. As it turns out there is little difference between the Hilton and a Motel 6 in a natural disaster.
Among the things I forgot to pack (bug spray, flashlight, etc.) I forgot to bring a charming Texan twang. The first thing everyone asks is where I’m from because I under-use ya’ll (which is to say it never leaves my lips).
The days blur together as one with intermittent power naps. I went around to a lot of the cities in Galveston County to meet with authorities and survey the damage. Some places faired pretty well but others are devastated. The boats that were in the marinas are sunk or tossed under dock rumble. Still other boats were completely lifted out of the water and sitting haphazardly on lawns. I saw a 50’ yacht that had taken out the side of someone’s house. The first floor of most of the houses on the coast where completely destroyed by about 4 feet of flooding.
I ran a truck certification site for most of the time I was down there. That is where we measure the cubic yards of the truck and verify tags and such so the trucks can collect debris and be reimbursed accordingly by FEMA. There is a mountain of paperwork involved in disaster recovery.
When things got crazy at my old job and someone wanted a status check on something mundane I used to say, “This is triage. We are doing open heart surgery on the sidewalk with a spoon. I don’t have time for that”. Disaster work is like that, only constant and with chicken-sized mosquitoes.
The adrenaline is incredible, which is important since I was working 16-18 hr days. Sleep deprivation is common and expected.
I am back in Seattle for a big sleep and some face time in office. I am going back to Galveston County next week.
“Why should I be worried about sending the ‘wrong messages’ to men? Why is that my personal responsibility? Isn’t that like saying “she was asking for it”? Is the state of feminism that precarious that my wearing a bow on my head is threatening and regressive? Where is the philosophical debate about men who wear short-shorts or sandals and how they make their gender look bad?”—Ellie (via robot-heart)
A golden parachute is a clause in an executive’s employment contract that specifies he will receive benefits in the event the company is taken over and the executive is let go. A golden parachute can come in the form of severance pay in cash, stock options, bonuses, etc. The term more loosely refers to an executive’s severance package - regardless of takeover. Golden parachutes are designed to protect the executive from job loss and to hinder unwanted takeovers.
The origin of the “golden parachute” comes from TWA and Howard Hughes. Shareholders wanted to decrease Hughes’ control of TWA and so appointed Charles Tillinghurst as chariman of TWA. They guaranteed Tillinghurst financial protection (a severance package) if Hughes were to retain control and fire him.
Below is a list of various egregious compensation packages and golden parachutes awarded to Wall Street’s best. They’re listed in chronological order of bank failure. (Numbers may be disputed based upon which CEO pay calculator you use. Some include cash, pension, benefits, accelerated stock and options and other compensation, while some do not. Either way - you get the point.)
Countrywide - Angelo Mozilo was supposed to receive a $37.5 million severance package when Countrywide was acquired by BofA in January, though he declined it. He did, however, cash in on his stock options to make about $122 million.
Bear Stearns - James Cayne sold his stake of Bear shares for $61 million just before the company completely collapsed and was sold off to JPMorgan.
Indymac – Michael Perry, Indy’s CEO & Chairman, was dealt something more like a golden anvil. He’s under investigation for misleading the investing public about IndyMac Bank’s risk profile and financial condition from April 26, 07 until May 12, 2008.
Fannie Mae - Daniel Mudd earned $11.6 million last year and was expected to receive $8 million in a severance package after Fannie was rescued. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) denied him that golden parachute.
Freddie Mac - Richard Syron earned $18.3 million last year and was expected to receive $16 million when Freddie went down. Again, the FHFA, which Congress gave the power to limit severance packages of departing executives, said no.
Merrill Lynch - Stanley O’Neal received a $161 million retirement package when we was let go last year after the bank saw huge losses. When Thain came on board, he said he wouldn’t accept any cash severance. Instead, he took restricted stock, giving him a nice $9 million parachute to fly away from the sale of Merrill to BofA.
Lehman Brothers - Richard Fuld, Lehman’s CEO, received about $22 million in exit packages and earned $354 million in his last 4 years as CEO. He also sold about $490 million worth of LEH stock before it collapsed. Not a bad retirement plan.
AIG - Robert Willumstad was supposed to receive a $22 million exit package when AIG was rescued by the Treasury, but he voluntarily declined. His predecessor, however, was not as humble. Martin Sullivan, who was forced out of AIG in June 2008 received $15 million in severance package.
Washington Mutual - Kerry Killinger, WaMu’s former CEO received $44 million upon his departure on September 8. He was succeeded by Alan Fishman, who was on the job for 17 days before WaMu went down, but received $20 million.
Goldman Sachs - Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s CEO, made $70 million last year.
Morgan Stanley – Mack the Knife received over $1.6 million in stock last year.
Wachovia - Ken Thompson received package worth $5 million when he was ousted in June (after making a nice salary of $20 million in 2007). Bob Steel, his predecessor brought on in July, was set to receive $1 million salary plus a $12 million bonus, but we’ll see what he really gets after the dust settles in Wachovia’s sale to Citigroup.
Citigroup - Chuck Prince left Citi last year with a $22 million severance package. Mind you that was after Citi announced far greater than expected losses.
JP Morgan Chase – CEO James Dimon earned about $28 million in 2007.
Other Refs and Reading
It seems to me we have a solid start on a bail out plan right here. CEO’s, please empty your pockets before leaving the building.
“Well! The economy was fun while it lasted. You can watch exciting live footage of the vote at CNN.com. Now it’s 228 nay, 205 YAY. The Dow has dropped more than 600 points in the last few minutes. Seriously, buy canned goods.”—Wonkette: The D.C. Gossip » Blog Archive » World Collapsing Rapidly (via robot-heart)
An ambulance drove down the street between us, and I imagined who it was carrying, and what had happened to him. Did he break an ankle attempting a hard trick on his skateboard? Or maybe he was dying from third-degree burns on ninety percent of his body? Was there any chance that I knew him? Did anyone see the ambulance and wonder if it was me inside?
What about a device that knew everyone you knew? So when an ambulance went down the street, a big sign on the roof could flash
DON’T WORRY! DON’T WORRY!
if the sick person’s device didn’t detect the device of someone he knew nearby. And if the device did detect the device of someone he knew, the ambulance could flash the name of the person in the ambulance, and either
IT’S NOTHING MAJOR! IT’S NOTHING MAJOR
or, if it was something major,
IT’S MAJOR! IT’S MAJOR!
And maybe you could rate the people you knew by how much you loved them, so if the device of the person detected the device of the person he loved the most, or the person who loved him the most, and the person in the ambulance was really badly hurt, and might even die, the ambulance could flash
GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU! GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU!
One thing that’s nice to think about is someone who was the first person on lots of people’s lists, so that when he was dying, and his ambulance went down the streets to the hospital, the whole time it would flash
GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU! GOODBYE! I LOVE YOU!
— Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
“The notion that it would be okay for high-ranking public officials to have no better understanding of policy issues than does the average person is bizarre. When you get someone to fix your car, you want that person to know more about fixing cars than do most people. Houses are designed by architects and actually put together by a whole bunch of specialists — plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. — who know more about what they’re doing than do most people. That doesn’t mean the building trades are dominated by a shadowy elite that the rest of us need to overthrow, it just reflects the benefits of the division of labor. There’s no need for politics to be totally controlled by some narrow cabal of credentialed experts, but at a minimum it would be nice for policymakers to be people who’ve been paying attention to policy debates.”—Matthew Yglesias » Ignorance is Bliss (via julyshewillfly)
If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain. -Winston Churchill
This quote has come up several times in my conversations about the current presidential election.
This is the kind of thinking that leads people to be dismissive of the contributions of young people. The mantra would dictate that liberalism is a stage and a natural stop on a political coming of age journey, like keg stands or skinny dipping, something that should be indulged, enjoyed and left in the past. It would further imply that people who are liberal beyond their twenties are the political equivalent of adults who live in their parent’s basements; to be pitied and written off.
Maybe being liberal is something that is easier when you are younger. It can be almost instinctive to latch on to optimism and hope and the struggle for equality. It’s a lot hipper than trickle down economics and school prayer and the death tax. However, just because it easier when you’re younger doesn’t mean it goes out of style as you age. Liberalism is much more than a passing fad of youth. As you grow older, your political identity gains depth and you grow into yourself. Your views exist in a gradient atmosphere rather than a binary vacuum. Your politics are no longer limited to a campaign slogan and a few feisty quips.
So why is that liberal ideals are less acceptable as one ages? Ask your average twenty something and they will tell you that the policy of the left is about standing up for disadvantaged and the underrepresented. Whether or not they qualify, most of them on some level see themselves as a part of those groups and therefore identify with the struggle.
As a result, as one grows older, and wealthier and more comfortable it is easy to adopt a “pick –yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” mentality. After all, they did it. With a little bit of privilege it is easy to say, “If I can do it, so can they”. The problem is of course that reality is complicated.
What it comes down to is this: Just because conservative values seem better for your pocket book doesn’t mean you need to sell out. Just because you made it “all on your own” with a little hard work doesn’t mean the playing field is level. And just because I am a liberal doesn’t mean that that I naïve and young or older and stupid.
Mention a name or theme — Brett Favre, the Patriots under Belichick, Lance Armstrong’s comeback, Venus and Serena — and anyone who cares about sports can have a very sophisticated discussion about the ins and outs and myth and realities and arguments and rebuttals.
People who don’t like sports can’t do that. It’s not so much that they can’t identify the names — they’ve heard of Armstrong — but they’ve never bothered to follow the flow of debate. I like sports — and politics and tech and other topics — so I like joining these debates. On a wide range of other topics — fashion, antique furniture, the world of restaurants and fine dining, or (blush) opera — I have not been interested enough to learn anything I can add to the discussion. So I embarrass myself if I have to express a view.
What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the “Bush Doctrine” exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.
“Cheer up, Obama-ites. You’re overreacting. I’ll answer all your questions as long as you promise to take deep breaths into this nice paper bag […] Just chill for a few weeks until the debates start and let the Sarah Palin thing play itself out ”
“since this is a Black show, we’re gonna close at 1:25am, instead of 2:00am. it’s 2am for the white shows, and 1:25 for the Black shows. you see, around 1:25 is when the Blacks seem to pull out their guns and blah blah….”—excerpt from the Blue Scholars tour blog. For those of you who think no one says stuff like this anymore…they do. Can’t wait to see them again 9/27 at the showbox!
“This happens every election cycle. Every four years. This is what we do. We’ve got an energy crisis. We have an education system that is not working for too many of our children and making us less competitive. We have an economy that is creating hardship for families all across America. We’ve got two wars going on — veterans coming home not being cared for — and this is what they want to talk about. This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about. You know who ends up losing at the end of the day? It’s not the Democratic candidate. It’s not the republican candidate. It’s you, the American people, because then we go another year or another four years or another eight years without addressing the issues that matter to you. Enough. I don’t care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift-boat politics. Enough is enough.”—Barack Obama (via azspot)
“In this survey, when questions were asked about Palin herself, she performed well, but not all that well. As might be expected, she leads Joe Biden on the have-a-beer-with attributes and trails him on the ready-on-day-one attributes.”—
Lose your house, lose your vote [LINK]michiganmessenger.com
Michigan Republicans plan to foreclose African American voters…
"At a minimum what you are seeing is a fairly comprehensive effort by the Republican Party, a systematic broad-based effort to put up obstacles for people to vote,” he said. “Nobody is contending that these people are not legally registered to vote.
“When you are comprehensively challenging people to vote,” Hebert went on, “your goals are two-fold: One is you are trying to knock people out from casting ballots; the other is to create a slowdown that will discourage others,” who see a long line and realize they can’t afford to stay and wait.“
Does this sound like 2000 and 2004 to anyone else? How is this sort of targeting of the black democratic vote still possible?
In 2004 in Oakland, where racial minorities are the overwhelming majority, there where signs posted all over town saying that election day had been moved back a day so that people wouldn’t show up to vote. Honestly, can’t you just run a good campaign let the best candidate win? These sort of underhanded tactics by the Republican Party only serves as proof of there lack of confidence that the can get elected based on issues.
The devastation in Cuba also provides an opening for the presidential candidates. Cuban Americans in the decisive electoral state of Florida are restless. Cuban Americans there are historically Republican, but many are bewildered that the party that extols family values prevents them from helping or visiting their families.
Barack Obama has recognized this and supports temporarily lifting restrictions on family remittances, travel and private aid to the impoverished island. John McCain should do the same, even if only to ensure he gets the bulk of the Cuban American vote as George W. Bush did in 2004.
Ultimately, helping Cubans recover is in the best interest of the United States. A humanitarian catastrophe 90 miles from our shores is also a national security issue.
Cuba’s Katrina - washingtonpost.com
I think we can put aside political differences in a time of disaster. If we can send billions of dollars in aid to Georgia, we can certainly do better than an insulting $100,000 to our neighbors in Cuba.
The treatment of Cuba in so many aspects is outdated and useless. Let’s just help out instead of clinging to failing 60’s policies that only tarnish our reputation worldwide and make us look ridiculous and prideful.
Last night I watched Head of State with Chris Rock. With the following mental search and replace I drew a quick parallel to how ludicrous some of the attacks ads against Obama. (Please note the movie is a satire and was never intended to foreshadow the current election)
Mays Gilliam Barack Obama did not attend this year’s annual rally against cancer.
Is Mays Gilliam Barack Obama for cancer or against cancer?
Mays Gilliam Barack Obama, he’s for cancer.
Vote Brian Lewis John McCain for President. It’s your last chance.
“Enough. I don’t care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and ‘swift boat’ politics. Enough is enough. These are serious times, and they call for a serious debate about where we need to take the nation. We can’t take another four years that were like the last eight.”—Barack Obama (via unburyingthelead)
I’m sick of Republicans suggesting I’m unpatriotic while they ruin my reputation around the world. I’m sick of people casting votes of fear because of threats that are mischaracterized and exploited by their own political leaders. I’m sick of distorted television commercials being my country’s primary method of public discourse. And I’m sick of being told that straight, white, Evangelical family values are better for my country than my family’s values. Anyone who has paid lip service to the idea that America’s strength relies upon its diversity, be warned: it’s actually true, and it will be even truer in the future. I think my generation will be known as the diversity generation. We get America. We are ready to be leaders for the world community. We are motivated. We think. We are patriotic.
The candidate says she’s a tough fiscal reformer. But Alaska leads the nation in leeching off Washington
“Alaska is, in essence, an adjunct member of OPEC[…]Any sympathy the governor of Alaska expresses for folks in the lower 48 who are suffering from high gas prices or can’t afford to heat their homes is strictly crocodile tears. ”
Anyway, the Republicans were back at it last week at their convention. Mitt Romney wasn’t content to insist that he personally knows that “liberals don’t have a clue.” He complained loudly that the federal government right now is too liberal.
“We need change, all right,” he said. “Change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington.”
Why liberals don’t stand up to this garbage, I don’t know. Without the extraordinary contribution of liberals — from the mightiest presidents to the most unheralded protesters and organizers — the United States would be a much, much worse place than it is today.
There would be absolutely no chance that a Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin could make a credible run for the highest offices in the land. Conservatives would never have allowed it.
Civil rights? Women’s rights? Liberals went to the mat for them time and again against ugly, vicious and sometimes murderous opposition. They should be forever proud.
”—Bob Herbert, Hold Your Heads Up (via julyshewillfly)
Obama on the Need for Habeas Corpusblogs.abcnews.com
“But, the former constitutional law professor argued, “What I have also said is this: that when you suspend habeas corpus — which has been a principle, dating before even our country, it’s the foundation of Anglo-American law — which says, very simply, if the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, ‘Why was I grabbed?’ and say, ‘Maybe you’ve got the wrong person.’
“The reason you have that safeguard,” he said, “is because we don’t always have the right person. We don’t always catch the right person. We may think this is Mohammed the terrorist, it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You may think it’s Barack the bomb thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president.
“The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism, it’s because that’s who we are,” Obama said as the crowd rose to its feet, applauding. “That’s what we’re protecting. Don’t mock the Constitution! Don’t make fun of it! Don’t suggest that it’s un-American to abide by what the founding fathers set up! It’s worked pretty well for over 200 years!”
If foreign central banks stop financing U.S. debt (there are no free rides), then the U.S. is in a world of hurt. As Brad Setser notes:
…in fact, the economic and financial risks that arise from the U.S. current account deficit (and the resulting dependence on foreign financing) have not been exaggerated. If anything, they have received too little attention — and are set to grow in the coming years.
Well, “the coming years” may be sooner, not later. For the U.S., the consequences may be immediate inflation as Treasury attempts to makes its offerings more palatable. The dollar will plunge. And these are just for starters.
The party is over. Sorry that most of you working stiffs missed it. Oh, by the way, here’s the bill.
Angry Bear: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: A Broader View
Times like these, if you’re under 35—especially if you’re under 35 and not married with kids—it can’t hurt to update your passport and see what kind of emigration visas you may qualify for. Just in case.
“But before everyone gets all smug and self-righteous about the Palin selection, remember where you live. You live in a nation of gun owners and hunters. You live in a country where one out of three girls get pregnant before they are 20. You live in a nation of C students. Knocking Bush for being a C student only endeared him to the nation of C students. Knock Palin for having kids, for having a kid who’s having a baby, for anything that is part of her normalness — a normalness that looks very familiar to so many millions of Americans — well, you do this at your own peril. Assuming she’s still on the ticket two weeks from now, she will be a much tougher opponent than anyone expects.”—Michael Moore on Sarah Palin (via unburyingthelead) (via robot-heart)
“She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women’s wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves “abstinence-only” programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers’ millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn’t spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling.”—Gloria Steinem, on Sarah Palin (via thebronzemedal) (via robot-heart)
“But what about the family who cannot afford that insurance for their child? The family who can barely make rent, and if they stretch the budget they can eat three meals a day all week, let’s hope nothing bad happens to their kids because then they’re screwed. Kids, go hug your father, he’s off to one of his three jobs, none of which provide him insurance. And it’s not because he’s lazy or unwilling to work, it’s that his family couldn’t afford to send him to college, or he came from a family that didn’t know they should encourage him to go to college because they were busy trying to survive. If giving up more of my paycheck could help get this family adequate healthcare, then PLEASE. TAKE MY FUCKING MONEY.”—
“Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.””—Stephen Colbert (via julyshewillfly)