Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who's Minding The Store?

Like child looters in a power outage, congress and the Obama Administration have raided the treasury at will, promising full accountability. Obama personally vowed to count "every dime" of the stimulus money. He lied, telling us now that a government website dedicated to tracking the spending won't have details on contracts and grants until October and may not be complete until spring of 2010.

What's more, Rep. Brad Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology's subcommittee on investigations and oversight says that the subcommittee is going to "deputize the entire American citizenry to help with the oversight of this program," meaning that they can't perform the tasks we've elected them to perform. Perhaps it's not even a question of ability but rather one of desire. The subcommittee - consisting of ten members - recently held their second meeting titled "Follow the Money Part II." Only three members bothered to attend. Maybe the seven no-shows were busy pursuing other money, like lobbyist money.

Then there is the story of Chrysler bondholders who opposed the Obama administration's plans for rescuing the car manufacturer and the swirling, persistent rumors that the administration threatened one of the bondholders. Tom Lauria, the head of Case & White, a bankruptcy law firm, was representing the firm of Perella Weinberg. Perella Weinberg was one of Chrysler's bondholders and the firm that accused the White House of threatening to unleash the White House press corps on them if they continued to oppose the Chrysler deal. Perella Weinberg has since changed its position and accepted the deal offered while never denying the threat charges. Tom Lauria continues to represent the remaining hold-out firms.

The reasons that these bondholders are fighting against the administration's Chrysler deal are intriguing, however, because they deal with the settlements of the Chrysler bankruptcy. The deal would give the bondholders about 33 cents on the dollar for their secured debts while giving the United Auto Workers retirees about 50 cents on the dollar for their unsecured debts. One of the basic principles of bankruptcy law is that secured creditors get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get a dime. For example, an individual filing for bankruptcy must pay off bonafide creditors before repaying Grandma for the kind assistance in getting that house. While it would seem only fair that dear, sweet granny - who probably needs the money more than Wachovia - should get her money first, that's not what the law says. Obama should know this. I maintain that he does and he just chooses his perceived notion of "fairness" to be sufficient reason to abandon the law. He'll make his own, thank you very much.

A good example of this is Obama's recent comments about Justice David Souter's planned retirement from the Supreme Court. Interrupting White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Obama had this to say about his idea of a good replacement for Souter:

"I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone who understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes."
(Emphasis mine.)

What he clearly means is that if the law as written in the U.S. Constitution can be perceived as somehow "unfair" to an individual, a Supreme Court Justice should have the ability to ignore the wisdom of the Founding Fathers who, in their antiquity, could not have envisioned the suffering of the downtrodden in modern and cruel America, and make a new rule favorable to that individual.

I hope the adults marked the liquor bottles before they vacated the White House because the kids are planning a big party. It may take a while to clean up the mess. Oh, and don't even bother looking for the missing jewelry.

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