Grunge Men, Obama Man, All the Men Together
Former Goldman Sachs executive Robert Hormats has been named by the Obama Administration to serve as Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs.
Not only has Mr. Hormats worked for Goldman Sachs since 1982 rising there through the years ultimately to attain the title Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International and Managing Director of Goldman, Sachs & Co. but he is also a trustee of the Freedom House, whose associations include the extremist Right-wing Sarah Scaife Foundation; Peter Ackerman, also associated with Scaife's group; Project for the New American Century neo-conservative chickenhawk Kenneth Adelman (who endorsed then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in October of 2008); Diana Negroponte, wife of Reagan- and Bush-era denizen John Negroponte; and an assortment of other individuals of varying degrees of repute and ill-repute.
Hormats is also a trustee of the Economic Club of New York, on which trustee list can be found none other than the failed former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and now U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner.
Before his long stint at Goldman Sachs, during the Nixon presidency, Hormats was an economic adviser in the National Security Council, working successively under Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Aside from the eyebrows raised by the appointment of yet another Goldman Sachs alumnus influencing policy in the White House, Mr. Hormats joining the State Department has reinvigorated a relatively arcane scandal from the year 2000 involving the initial public offering of PetroChina, whose parent company, CNPC, was operating in the Sudan, which already had been listed by the U.S. State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal at the time of the IPO, Hormats asserted, "Sudan should not be an issue because of extensive legal firewalls in place to ensure that IPO proceeds are used domestically in China." That turned out to be incorrect. A materially false or misleading statement made publicly about a company that is the subject of a registration statement (like an IPO) would normally be treated as a violation of the Securities Act of 1933 if such a statement were made by a party involved in the offering of securities; but unlike many brokers, promoters, company insiders, and others who have deliberately or inadvertently run afoul of rules promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Hormats was never prosecuted.
Robert Hormats joins a fair-sized list of Goldman Sachs employees who have joined the Obama Administration, with the latest before Hormats being Philip Murphy, nominated earlier in July to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Germany, who was not only in charge of Goldman Sachs' operations in Germany, but was also at one time a finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee.
Gary Gensler, now the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was formerly an insider at Goldman Sachs before joining Robert Rubin during the Clinton Administraton, where Mr. Gensler and his boss successfully spearheaded the deregulation of the credit derivatives swap market, with the help of Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) and then-Federal reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson is now Chief of Staff for Timothy Geithner.
Former Goldman Sachs executive Neel Kashkari was tapped last year by Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to run the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Kashkari's official (and officious) title is Interim Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, where he remains under the Obama Administration, despite the "Interim" nature of his appointment made in the waning days of the President whose indisputably incompetent people and policies led to the financial meltdown from which the world's financial markets and economies are still struggling to recover.
Goldman Sachs, through its bundling of employees' donations, contributed $994,795 to the Obama campaign in the 2008 election cycle, making it one of the largest identifiable sources of donations to the man who was to become President of the United States and who, in that position, would then ensure that his financial benefactors were amply represented in his Administration, notwithstanding the palpable and justified scorn in which Goldman Sachs is held by those who do not benefit from its largesse, but instead must bear the burden of paying the incomprehensible cost of its grotesque, incompetent, irresponsible greed.
Obama Up, Obama Down
I am currently running a poll at Big Brass Blog, asking readers the following question: "Overall, what grade would you give Barack Obama for his performance to date as President of the United States?" You are invited and encouraged to participate in this unscientific, but perhaps revealing, survey of reader assessment of our President.
Click here to go to the poll.
Sarah Palin has announced that she will resign as Governor of the State of Alaska, effective July 26.
She did not explain exactly why she is resigning, although she repeated her recent complaints about her family being the butt of jokes, mentioning that her son Trig, who has Down's Syndrome, was "mocked and ridiculed by some mean-spirited adults recently."
Setting aside her newly found concerns for family members, speculation about why she intends to step down centers on the possibility that she wants to run for President in 2012, given her slightly veiled claim earlier this week that she could beat President Barack Obama in a race for the White House.
Albeit less likely, another possible reason she is resigning is that she has become aware of adverse information about her that will soon become public. Rumors persist about whether it is she or her daughter Bristol who is the biological mother of Trig, and scandals around allegations of personal intervention in legal matters involving family members caused considerable dismay even among members of her own party in the Alaska legislature. Furthermore, aids to Senator John McCain continue to let fly quite a few stories about her ignorance, her obstinacy, and her lack of self-control in spending campaign funds while she was the GOP nominee's running mate.
So, what's the real reason Palin's resignin'?
Only time will tell, but you betcha that the soon-to-be-former governor has her eye on the White House; and if the Republican Party has the common sense to slam the door on her aspirations, she could very well keep her ambition alive by other means, as I cautioned months ago in my November 2, 2008, article, "Sarah Palin, All on Her Own."
In the months ahead, if Ms. Palin does, indeed, plan to keep her burgeoning ego fed by the public limelight, she can be assured that she will have an ample and continuing supply of excuses to trot out her special, transparently disingenuous brand of manufactured outrage, if from no other source, then certainly from here, where she will get all the respect those who are pridefully ignorant, pompously hypocritical, and unintentionally ludicrous deserve.