Daily Flog: Bailing out the planet’s investors; a swift boot to Olbermann


Running down the press:

Great news for Wall Streeters this morning! The public’s going to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it’s only going to cost you $100 billion or so, and you (and perhaps the Democrats) will be taking on an additional $6 trillion in debt.

When blacks were recently freed slaves and not presidential candidates, this financial system was referred to as sharecropping and owing your soul to the company store.

But the average American in the 21st century will be doing global investors a big favor, as the Wall Street Journal reports, amid the news of booming stock markets around the globe:

The bailout of “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has reduced the risk of a spiraling U.S. mortgage crisis and therefore has made the world a safer place for global investors,” said the foreign exchange strategy team at Commerzbank.

Ah, the world’s a safer place. Bloomberg notes the huge gains for European banks, and the Times humanizes the frightening event by anthropomorphizing:

Investors around the world breathed a sigh of relief Monday after the U.S. government took over and backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, assuring a continued flow of credit through America’s wounded mortgage system.

In other bailout news, MSNBC bailed out of news coverage of the presidential campaign by pulling the anchor chairs out from beneath Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews.

The cynic and yeller, respectively, added too much color to a campaign that already includes a black candidate. Republicans were enraged at Olbermann’s sneering at Sarah Palin.

Brian Stelter at the Times broke the news yesterday, noting:

When the vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin lamented media bias during her speech, attendees of the Republican convention loudly chanted “N-B-C.”

MSNBC’s bailout was great news for Fox, whose screaming TV talking heads paved the way for MSNBC’s attempt to grab a liberal audience by doing kinda the same thing.

Fox now stands alone, and its sister Murdoch property, the Post, celebrated by bannering its official endorsement of John McCain for president. There’s a shocker, but that “enthusiastically urges” opinion is expected to have no effect on the paper’s news coverage of the race.

The Post‘s Page Six — “Chris & Keith ‘Left’ Out at MSNBC” — has more on MSNBC’s swift-boot maneuver, in addition to the gossip page’s daily scoop about Britney Spears again being pissed off about too much publicity (this time it’s about her mom’s book).

Regarding the bailout of the less shapely Fannie, which Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson portrayed as a positive move for taxpayers that may even result in gains for them as well, today’s New York Sun chips in with the most interesting take, editorializing that the move was, in effect, the nationalizing of the companies:

Imagine if the Bush administration, having decided that gasoline prices are too high, decided to nationalize ExxonMobil.

So if Paulson is wrong, the downside of that tighter regulation of, say, an oil company, as the Sun‘s analogy has it, would be…?

If you really want to cut through the bullshit, go to the BBC, which reports that the bailout staves off a “’30s style depression” in the U.S. Or see McClatchy, whose Kevin G. Hall had the guts to point out way high, in his fifth graf, that the seizure is akin to bankruptcy proceedings:

Fannie and Freddie will continue to operate as normal but under conservatorship, a process similar to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, where a business is allowed to restructure its operations.

The words “depression,” “bankruptcy,” and “Chapter 11” didn’t make their way into the Times‘s main story.

The BBC explains things better than most:

The move is intended to keep the two companies afloat, amid fears that either could go bankrupt as borrowers default on their home loans.

Together, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own or guarantee about $5.3 trillion (£3 trillion) of mortgages.

But they have made a combined loss of about $14bn in the past year and officials were worried that they would no longer be able to continue functioning if such losses continued.

Banks around the world are highly exposed to the two companies and therefore, given the febrile state of markets across the world, it had become dangerous for doubts to persist about whether they were viable and would be able to keep up the payments on their massive liabilities, says the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston.


Veteran crimebuster Murray Weiss took time out to watch some golf on TV and produced this interesting piece:

For the first time, the city’s police commissioner has appeared in a television commercial that helps burnish the image of a major company that does business with the NYPD.

During the recent British Open golf tournament, tens of millions of viewers were treated to a polished, two-minute ad produced and paid for by IBM, a k a “Big Blue.”

The spot featured Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly — along with an IBM executive — extolling state-of-the-art technology used by the NYPD’s “Real Time Crime Center” to help quickly solve crimes.

Why would Kelly do this? Weiss notes:

Government watchdog groups voiced concerns about the commercialization of a public agency, noting the corporate behemoth reaps untold benefits from the reputations of Kelly and the NYPD.

“It is appropriate for the public to question why a public agency would lend their endorsement to a private company,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York, adding that it’s “surprising that the police commissioner would personally appear.”

Present and former city officials polled by the Post could not recall another time when a sitting commissioner and their agency were used in a similar fashion. Kelly was not paid for his appearance.

Weiss doesn’t mention it, but Kelly was paid plenty — in free publicity should he decide to run for mayor.


The infidel Selim Algar‘s fine coverage of a Jew vs. Jew battle:

Tensions over the proposed creation of a symbolic Orthodox Jewish boundary in a tony Long Island hamlet boiled over yesterday at a raucous meeting in Westhampton Beach.

Organized by a group called Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, the rowdy morning gathering of more than 250 people pitted Reform Jews against Orthodox Jews.

Clearly, Westhampton is more of an Irv or Sid hamlet than a Tony one.

L.A. Times: ‘Sarah Palin’s leadership style has admirers and critics’

A chickenshit cop-out headline on a pretty good story whose subhead foreshadows the meat of a real tale that, unfortunately, also steps gingerly into the debate over her lack of qualifications: “Some who have worked with the Alaska governor say her bold approach is lacking in follow-through, and that she punishes those who dare say ‘no.’ “

Der Spiegel: ‘Trouble in the North Caucasus: Russia’s Restless Muslim Republics’

Ignored by papers on this side of the Atlantic is the troublemaking of McCain, who isn’t even the U.S. president yet.

If you think that the Georgia-Russia war is bad news, a spread into full-scale conflict involving big bad Russia and the other crazy Caucasoid republics would be even worse, and guess who’s lighting the match? The German site reports:

In response to Russia’s recognition of the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, US presidential candidate John McCain said that after Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Western countries ought to think about “the independence of the North Caucasus and Chechnya.” That would definitely be pouring oil on the fire.

And we don’t have the oil to spare, unless Palin and McCain tap Alaska’s big butt.

Oh, yes, frequent flyer-by-the-seat-of-his-pants McCain, please thrust us into Chechnya. Talk about Vietnam all over again. How about sending some “advisers” over there? Then it would be the entire U.S., not just McCain, held hostage by an unwinnable war.