Daily Archives: December 3, 2009

Let’s Be Fair to Bernanke– hindsight’s 20/20

posted by Ogenec
While neither the Fed nor the Treasury got everything right, they did far better than the Monday-morning quarterbacks would have us believe

By Steven Rattner
Thursday, December 3, 2009.

When the Senate Banking Committee welcomes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for his confirmation hearing today, the questioning is sure to be sharp, yet another chapter in the unceasing second-guessing of the government’s handling of the Wall Street meltdown.

Almost since the first cracks in Wall Street’s facade appeared more than two years ago, commentators and politicians of all stripes have questioned whether the Fed and, equally, the Treasury made proper decisions as they faced the worst financial crisis in 75 years.

It is very much the Banking Committee’s responsibility to satisfy itself about Bernanke’s qualifications and the overall management of the financial crisis. It is also appropriate for other oversight groups to conduct their own inquiries.

But much of the barrage of criticism is unfair, and some of it is simply ignorant.
Take, for example, the drumbeat of criticism for the decision to let Lehman Brothers fail. Conveniently forgotten by critics is the fact that until the consequences of Lehman’s bankruptcy became evident, the refrain from all quarters after the bailout of Bear Stearns in the spring was that the next floundering bank needed to be allowed to fail to teach Wall Street a lesson (preserve “moral hazard,” to use the jargon).

Shortly after Lehman’s filing, Allan Meltzer, a distinguished monetary economist, commended the Fed for letting Lehman go, telling PBS that “within a few days, just a few days, Barclays was there buying up some of Lehman’s assets.” A year later, Meltzer had a different view: “Allowing Lehman to fail without warning is one of the worst blunders in Federal Reserve history.”

More recently, a government oversight report came out swinging against the handling of the AIG bailout, suggesting in particular that the Fed and the Treasury should have demanded concessions from the banks that were counterparties to AIG’s hundreds of billions of dollars of credit insurance contracts.

That criticism sounds good, but like much after-the-fact commentary, it’s off-base. Once the Fed and the Treasury concluded (correctly) that an AIG bankruptcy posed unacceptable systemic risks, the government immediately lost any bargaining power to demand concessions. The result was a very unfortunate windfall for the counterparty banks, but what was the realistic alternative?

read more here:


related story:
Unexpected drop in jobless rate sparks optimism
WASHINGTON (AP) — A surprising drop in the November unemployment rate and in job losses cheered investors Friday and raised hopes for a sustained economic recovery.

source:

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Filed under Bailout, Banking, Economy, Free Market, Timothy F. Geithner (Sec of Treasury), Uncategorized

The 86th Anniversary–Lighting of The National Christmas Tree

On December 3, 2009, the National Christmas Tree Lighting will once again provide an opportunity for all Americans to come together to celebrate the season and to share the message of peace.

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Live Webcast

This year, experience the magic of the National Christmas Tree Lighting without ever leaving your home. Visit www.thenationaltree.org on December 3rd at 5pm ET to watch the show LIVE! Every performance, presenter and holiday festivity from the ceremony will be broadcast online for you to view from wherever you are.

Broadcast

Public television stations nationwide will broadcast the 2009 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony across the country for the first time. In partnership with WETA, Washington, D.C.’s flagship public broadcasting station, public television stations will begin airing the 60-minute lighting ceremony on Friday, December 4th and continue throughout the holiday season. Viewers are invited to check their local public station schedules for exact broadcast dates and times.

Performers

Presented by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation, and produced by Alex Coletti Productions, an all-star lineup of stars will offer a diverse program of holiday music, including traditional songs with dashes of pop, folk and hip-hop.




Featured artists include:

History of the National Christmas Tree

The first National Christmas Tree, lit on December 24, 1923, in the middle of the Ellipse.

In November 1923, First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia Public Schools to erect a Christmas tree on the Ellipse south of the White House. The organizers named the tree the “National Christmas Tree.”

That Christmas Eve, at 5 p.m., President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse and “pushed the button” to light the cut 48-foot Balsam fir, as 3,000 enthusiastic spectators looked on. The tree, donated by Middlebury College, was from the President’s native state of Vermont.

From 1924 to 1953 live trees, in various locations around and on the White House grounds, were lit on Christmas Eve. In 1954 the ceremony returned to the Ellipse and expanded its focus. Local civic and business groups created the “Christmas Pageant of Peace.” Smaller live trees representing the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, formed a “Pathway of Peace.”

On December 17, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower lit the cut tree donated by the people of Michigan. Cut trees continued to be used until 1973.

Center to the season’s celebration is the living National Christmas Tree, a Colorado blue spruce from York, Pennsylvania, planted on the Ellipse October 20, 1978. The tree stands as a daily reminder of the holiday spirit and of the tradition each succeeding President has participated in since 1923.

President Obama, joined by the First Family and Vice President and Dr. Biden, hosts the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Ellipse. December 3, 2009.

Posted by Audiegrl…ho, ho, ho

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Filed under Art, Barack Obama, Calvin Coolidge, Change, Children, Christmas, Christmas at the White House, Culture, Dancing, Entertainment, Environment, First Lady Michelle Obama, Green, Hip-Hop, History, Holidays, Jazz, Latin, Media and Entertainment, Music, News, Politics, Pop, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, Rock & Roll, Television, Uncategorized, United States, Video/YouTube, Washington, DC

44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 3rd)

Christmas Time Is Here Performed by Toni Braxton

Jumping high heels first into the Christmas genre, Toni Braxton has come up with a spectacular first effort. Teetering into smooth jazz territory, Braxton gives her sophisticated, breathy vocals a workout on this untraditional Yuletide collection. Instead of revamping old holiday standards, Braxton has co-written seven new songs–with husband Keri “Mint Condition” Lewis, her sister Tamar, David Foster, and Kenny “Baby Face” Edmonds–and has created what sounds more like a proper Toni Braxton album than a seasonal offering. When Braxton did decide to cover a classic, she choose more contemporary tunes such as perennial favorite “The Christmas Song,” which she revives with aplomb and crisp pacing, and the beloved “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which she doesn’t tinker with at all. Braxton also pulls Charlie Brown’s “Christmas Time Is Here” out of mothballs and gives it a contemplative, melancholy spin that serves the tune well.

Lyrics

Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share

Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there

Christmas time is here
We’ll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year…

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Filed under Art, Christmas, Holidays, Music, Pop Culture, United States, Video/YouTube

Soldiers On Acid: 1963 British VIDEO Shows Troops Under The Influence Of LSD

This is a must watch. Environmental Graffiti has a post up on the decades of experiments western armies undertook in an attempt to develop chemical warfare to render their enemies incapacitated: In short, armies gave their own soldiers LSD, and other psychedelic drugs, and studied the effects. The Nazis did it first, then Britain, and the U.S. and other countries followed suit.

The video below is from 1963 and shows British soldiers under the influence of LSD.

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Filed under Army, British Politics, England, Europe, Germany, Marines, Military, Navy, Politics, Reserve, United States, Veterans, Video/YouTube, War