The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
UPDATES AND MANY MORE LINKS: Obama Threats to Chrysler Creditors (and our way of life) Corroborated
Cartoon by Michael Ramirez (click to enlarge)
Via Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, more corroborating evidence of the Chicago Mobsters' complete disregard for the law and the Constitution:
Barack is acting more like a tinpot dictator than he is a President of the United States.
Business Insider reports that more than one Chrysler senior creditor has corroborated Thomas Lauria’s allegation that the Obama administration threatened them with public attacks if they didn’t surrender their contractual rights. One of their sources says that the Obama team comprises some of the worst “ends justify the means” people he’s ever encountered (via HA reader Geoff A):
Creditors to Chrysler describe negotiations with the company and the Obama administration as “a farce,” saying the administration was bent on forcing their hands using hardball tactics and threats.
Conversations with administration officials left them expecting that they would be politically targeted, two participants in the negotiations said. …
The sources, who represent creditors to Chrysler, say were taken aback by the hardball tactics that the Obama administration employed to cajole them into acquiescing to plans to restructure Chrysler. One person said described the administration as the most shocking “end justifies the means” group they have ever encountered. Another characterized Obama was “the most dangerous smooth talker on the planet- and I knew Kissinger.” Both were voters for Obama in the last election.
One participant in negotiations said that the administration’s tactic was to present what one described as a “madman theory of the presidency” in which the President is someone to be feared because he was willing to do anything to get his way. The person said this threat was taken very seriously by his firm.
Well, that’s certainly reassuring. The man at the helm during one of the biggest economic crises in decades is a madman who will act in an unpredictable and irrational manner if he doesn’t get his way. It sounds like they paint Obama as either a lunatic or a petulant child.
As Glenn Reynolds says, the country is in the very best of hands.
The story now has more than one source, and mounting testimony — albeit understandably anonymous testimony, at least at this point — that the White House tried threatening senior creditors instead of doing their job in enforcing the law. Not only do they not realize that their responsibilities do not include building business plans for private enterprises, but also don’t include assuming the role of Michael Corleone and acting like organized-crime thugs. Actually, the way the White House made Obama sound, maybe Sonny Corleone is a better analogy … or perhaps Fredo.
UPDATE: More backstory from the unimpeachable Michael Barone:
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein comments:
Last Friday, the day after Chrysler filed for bankruptcy, I drove past the company’s headquarters on Interstate 75 in Auburn Hills, Mich.
As I glanced at the pentagram logo I felt myself tearing up a little bit. Anyone who grew up in the Detroit area, as I did, can’t help but be sad to see a once great company fail.
But my sadness turned to anger later when I heard what bankruptcy lawyer Tom Lauria said on a WJR talk show that morning. “One of my clients,” Lauria told host Frank Beckmann, “was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight.”
Lauria represented one of the bondholder firms, Perella Weinberg, which initially rejected the Obama deal that 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.
This of course is a violation of one of the basic principles of bankruptcy law, which is that secured creditors — those who lended money only on the contractual promise that if the debt was unpaid they’d get specific property back — get paid off in full before unsecured creditors get anything. Perella Weinberg withdrew its objection to the settlement, but other bondholders did not, which triggered the bankruptcy filing.
After that came a denunciation of the objecting bondholders as “speculators” by Barack Obama in his news conference last Thursday. And then death threats to bondholders from parties unknown.
The White House denied that it strong-armed Perella Weinberg. The firm issued a statement saying it decided to accept the settlement, but it pointedly did not deny that it had been threatened by the White House. Which is to say, the threat worked.
The same goes for big banks that have received billions in government Troubled Asset Relief Program money. Many of them want to give back the money, but the government won’t let them. They also voted to accept the Chrysler settlement. Nice little bank ya got there, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.
Like I said, newspeak coming soon. Read all of Goldstein's excellent post.
Calm, sober centrism. Not fascism. No. Mustn’t stoop to the level of our political opponents and call fascism fascism. Otherwise we’re no better than they were when they were calling everything decidedly NOT fascism fascism.
Oh. And while we’re at it, stop making the claim that the left is forcing us to cede control of language. Such a claim is perfectly outrageous!Ahem.
UPDATE: From piece emailed by Newt Gingrich (also well worth the read):
What follows is just a partial list of the winners and losers of the Obama Administration so far, organized by the government policies that will decide their fate:My wife and I watched the Richard Burton remake of 1984 the other night (his last film before he died, and a very dark vision). Good film although it could have been even better--but very powerful nevertheless. Watch the Opening scene (first 10 minutes) below. Consider the current cheerleading of our media and the logic-be-damned "worship" of the cult figure Obama. Imagine in the opening scene the people chanting "Obama, Obama...." instead of "Big, Big, Big...."... then watch as the paid "newsman" rewrites history and alters fact, even as he wrestles with being guilty of "thought crime".
The Chrysler Bankruptcy Pt. 1: From the Rule of Law to the Rule of Politics
Bankruptcy was once a legal process in which an insolvent company, an impartial judge and creditors voting in good faith worked together to make the best of a bad situation.
- Winners: The United Auto Workers
- Loser: The Rule of Law
Under the Obama Administration, the Chrysler bankruptcy has become a political process in which government has bought off some creditors, demonized others, and predetermined a favorable result for an important political constituency.
What happened last week with Chrysler was an unprecedented case of executive branch involvement in a bankruptcy proceeding. The Obama Administration bullied smaller investors to fall in line with TARP-funded creditors in a deal that ultimately benefited the union bosses who bear so much of the responsibility for Chrysler’s downfall to begin with. In the end, the losers weren’t just the secured creditors and the taxpayers who have footed the bill for all these bailouts, but the rule of law itself.
The Chrysler Bankruptcy Pt. 2: America, Get Ready for the “Model O”
The end result of the rigged Chrysler bankruptcy is that two political entities whose priority is winning votes (the Federal Government and the UAW) now have majority ownership of a commercial entity whose priority should be making good cars.
- Winners: The People Who Are Evading Responsibility for Chrysler’s Bankruptcy
- Losers: Consumers Who Want to Buy Good American Cars
And despite his protestations that he wants to get out of the auto business, President Obama has some definite ideas about what kind of cars Chrysler should make. Announcing the bankruptcy, he blamed Chrysler’s troubles, not on its uncompetitive labor costs, but on its “failure to make the fuel-efficient cars like its foreign competitors.”
Politicians, not businessmen and women, are calling the shots at Chrysler. America, get ready for the Model O.
There have always been those who will argue, "Oh what's the fuss--it can't happen here." I beg to differ. From what I can tell there are many more signs that it is happening than it isn't. Friends, we are closer to Orwell's nightmare vision that we have ever been. And if we do not get organized and take our country back to the rule of law; if we do not act now to reverse the course of this insanity within the next two election cycles, America as we once knew her may never recover.
From their actions in the last 60 days, Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, George Soros, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of these power-mad aparatchiks apparently believe that they can do anything they want, the Constitution and written laws of the land be damned.
The closest historical comparison I can think of to parallel what is happening to us is Russia's corrupt oligarchy. Obama's actions to consolidate power, pay off his cronies, and intimidate his enemies into submission is almost a textbook re-creation of Vladimir Putin in his early days as Russian President. And just look at him now...
If our President, with a rubber stamp hyper-partisan Congress can be so indifferent to our Constitution and laws--all in the name of consolidating power and Nationalizing everything in sight--who is to say that a Secret Police or a STASI-like "Big Brother" presence--or even opposition voices mysteriously disappearing in the middle of the night or dying of "natural causes" --(like they do in Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela) can be ruled out altogether?
If this President so obviously views the Constitution, individual rights, and private property rights to not even be worth the parchment they are written on; if he feels he has the authority to blatantly violate the law to impose his will like some Michael Corleone wannabe, then why would any one individual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (other than KSH and others locked up in Gitmo...) be of any concern to him whatsoever? Who are they trying to kid?
Hitler and Stalin may be long gone, but the smiling, waving Barack Obama is partying like it is 1933. And a sleepwalking American public, wanting desperately to "believe" in something, anything, seem to be marching like zombies towards a darkness that America has never seen in its long, storied history.
I am not alluding to the slobbering hero-worship on the networks. I'm not talking about Breaking News highlighting Hamburger moments and Hand-holding on the White House lawn; I am alluding to what is really happening behind the scenes of this "utopian fantasy" our media seems to want to construct for its Sun King.
Consider that the economic course that this President and this Congress have set us upon; a course which is much more likely to result in conditions resembling the Weimar Republic (where a wheelbarrow of cash would buy you a loaf of bread), than it is to lead to any lasting prosperity. If you thought the last bubble was bad, just wait until Obama's $10 TRILLION tab comes due.
Of course it goes without saying that the end of the Weimar Republic came when a "savior" stepped forward to "save" a starving economy and another nation wanting someone--a cult figure if you will--to believe in. They got what they wanted all right. You might have heard of him: guy named Adolf Hitler. At the worst of the economic depression, ol' Adolf stepped in and assumed absolute power, promising Change and a New Day and Prosperity for all! Woo hoo! And, oh, did the German people ever want to believe in him. Sound familiar?
Friends, just look at what is happening before our very eyes. And yet most of us are sitting on our hands, pretending that someone is going to come in the middle of the night to "kiss the boo-boo". Think again. They may indeed come in the middle of the night, but it won't be to give you a kiss.
Here is a "what if" to at least consider--just for grins: what if Obama really wants another Weimar, just so he can step in (as Hitler did under similar conditions) and assume "absolute power"? What if the destructive actions they are taking to "create jobs" is really intended to make things much worse, so that he can justify trampling our laws and rights to consolidate his power? Just look at what he has done already to Chrysler! I ask this question only because his budget and "emergency stimulus" packages are almost certain to bring the United States to financial ruin such that it has never seen.
Paranoia? Certainly I cannot read Obama and Emanuel's minds, I can only see what they have done already--how they have trampled on the Constitution, rewarded their cronies, and threatened/smeared anyone who dares to disagree with them (remember Joe the Plumber?). All the while smiling and waving, holding hands with his wife, eating hamburgers for the cameras, (taking big donors on an Air Force One joy ride and then covering it up?) and fielding softball questions from an adoring, slobbering media. Unfortunately, while these sorts of photo ops and smooth rhetoric may soothe the average viewer of Oprah or The View, none of it is very comforting to any real student of history and (especially) with an understanding of economics.
This is your wake up call, America. Our greatest generation is passing away, and they have left us with the greatest place to live that has ever existed; a place where people risk their lives to get IN, rather than to escape. A place where--even when people like me become alarmed and disagree--we are (for now anyway) free to speak our minds and to exchange ideas. That Greatest Generation, and those who preceded them, paid dearly for the freedoms that we take for granted today. The Great Depression, 400,000 dead in WWII. Many more dead in WWI and the Civil Wars. And then there was the American Revolution, where men valued freedom more than comfort and safety; where educated brilliant men risked being executed for treason and were condemned to death by King George because they signed a document in 1776; where, fighting against the greatest military power on Earth, against all odds, patriots and visionaries achieved the noblest experiment in history, culminating in 1789 with the most brilliant conception of government ever devised, the US Constitution. And from there flourished into the wealthiest, most prosperous, freest, most egalitarian nation the Earth has ever seen.
And so what are we, the "Spoiled Generation", going to do to defend what those before us have died to protect? Nothing?
Are we to simply pretend it will all just "be OK" and to continue to turn a blind eye to the treachery at work behind the scenes? To a person who loves this place as much as I do, that would be criminal.
In the depths of my soul, I believe that our country is at a true crossroads, the same crossroads defined so eloquently in Levin's Liberty and Tyranny. The good news is that the future of the country is still in your hands--for now. The bad news is that with every passing day it is becoming more and more apparent that dark forces are working night and day to change all that. If we do not act soon--within the law, by becoming activists and working together to vote these slugs out of office, there may be no more "law" as we have known it; there may be no Constitution where We the People are in charge of our government; in fact it is much more likely that it will be the other way round.
We will have squandered our chance; we will have sat and done nothing as our government transformed its contract with us to be servants "of the people, by the people and for the people" into a real-life manifestation of Big Brother, who see the people as indentured slaves rather than their "employers".
The Statists (read: Marxists) desire control over every aspect of life. If successful they will assert their power over everything. How hot/cold you keep your house. What you drive. Who works and who doesn't. Who thrives and who starves. Who is watched for the "national good".
They will even have the ultimate power that any tyranny can have over its citizen slaves: the power to determine who gets medical treatment and who doesn't; to decide who lives and who dies. And quite likely, for no additional charge: they will get to tell you what/who you can say and criticize and what/who you cannot. PC speech "thought police" on college campuses is only the beginning. For many on the angry Left Orwell's newspeak is THE GOAL.
Allowing the Statists to achieve their goals will be the equivalent of building a big bonfire at a modern-day Reichstag and burning books they disagree with, burning the Declaration of Independence and every word in it (or replace with the Declaration of Dependence), incinerating the Constitution. Hell, they might even burn a few thousand people who disagree with them... just like they do in their "model socialist society" (China). Thought Police. Rewriting language and history. Monitoring everything and every one. Sound familiar?
If we squander this opportunity, there is a very good chance that our great experiment will crumble, just as Greece and Rome did, to corruption; to the whim of the Dictator, to the interests of the Oligarchs, and to Mob rule equaling that at the height of the French terror. As you may recall, in the France spawned by Rousseau's ideas of man's "perfectability", etc., there was a revolution. Unfortunately, after the revolution it became necessary to behead those who did not agree with this philosophy--all in the name of the myth of a utopian "equality of result" rather than the principles of Burke and Smith (and later: Friedman, Hayek and Sowell) i.e. equality of opportunity. The French Reign of Terror was not exactly the Bill of Rights in action...
Fortunately, this is not (yet) Barack Obama's country to do with as he pleases. We have a Republic, not a dictatorship (for now..). But when the bill for the Democrats' catastrophic budget finally comes due and the mother of all bubbles bursts, you are almost guaranteed Weimar Republic--The Sequel; at that point the only way that those in power--for whom power over our lives had been an all-encompassing obsession--can retain that power is to squelch all dissent, lock up its enemies and bring down the iron fist of Big Brother. Is there not at least a glimmer of doubt that this narcissist--who revels on seing his face on every magazine cover and the effusive praise of the ignorant illiteratiis (witness that trip to Berlin during the campaign)--is not fully willing and capable of doing anything to retain this power and increasing control of our lives?
History will look back some day and know the answer. The will know if Americans lost their bearings as the Germans did, empowering absolutely a "savior" and a bankrupt economic theory to change our climate and bring a utopian prosperity to all, only to destroy the only means for that prosperity, because his ego, arrogance and lust for power trumped all else.
Or it may show that Obama did not become Ceasar; rather that he simply ruined our economy, turned America into a chaotic replica of post-Cold War Russia where corruption and who you know rules. Where oligarcs and criminal enterprises have free reign. Maybe history will show that Obama's judicial appointees so dramatically ignored our Constitution that they rendered it completely impotent. That he eventually turned over power to other Statists who continued the soft tyranny Obama ushered in--or perhaps enslaved the people even more. It might even show that Obama's appeasement of regimes bankrolling religious fanatics sworn to wipe us from the face of the earth actually led those fanatics to succeed in taking out an American city or two; or perhaps even whole country at once with one well placed EMP. Perhaps millions will die in the process and historians will say: if the people had only seen it coming, they might have taken action in time to prevent the catastrophe.
OR just maybe we will get our act together. Maybe history will show that We the People, like those before us, stepped up and prevented a catastrophe for our Country, our Economy, and our Constitution. That we re-established the only engine for prosperity and wealth that exists: free enterprise and free trade.
Those coming after us will know for sure; we mere mortals can only guess. But--for my part--I'm not going to trust the future of my country to any man who has so blatantly lusted for absolute power in such a short time period, and who has been so agressive in breaking laws and trampling the Constitution to consolidate that power.
Our Ceasar may be nearing the Rubicon as we speak; will we go into the dust of history as have so many great civilizations before us? Or will we get organized, get motivated, and once again--as all our forefathers have done--do whatever it takes to preserve, to protect, and to defend the Constituion?
It is in our hands.