Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The 228-205 defeat reflects badly on all concerned, starting with the Democrats who run the House. The majority party is responsible for assembling a majority vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed in that fundamental task.
House Republicans share the blame, and not only because they opposed the bill by about two-to-one, 133-65. Their immediate response was to say that many of their Members turned against the bill at the last minute because Ms. Pelosi gave her nasty speech. So they are saying that Republicans chose to oppose something they think is in the national interest merely because of a partisan slight. Thank heaven these guys weren't at Valley Forge.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Here's your quiz question for the day: Who is the biggest liar of them all?
The answer will surprise you, and, yes, you're allowed to consult your daily newspaper or favorite Web sites. Gird yourself. You may be overwhelmed by the number of candidates.
And then he tells you who taught Wall Street.
Washington, D.C., the home of the federal government and the source of current efforts to rescue our economy. When it comes to deception, misleading accounting and lack of disclosure, Uncle Sam is the father of all con artists. Indeed, as large as the current crisis is, all the losses racked up by the Nitwit Sector pale when compared with what our government has done.
Washington, D.C., the home of the federal government and the source of current efforts to rescue our economy.
When it comes to deception, misleading accounting and lack of disclosure, Uncle Sam is the father of all con artists. Indeed, as large as the current crisis is, all the losses racked up by the Nitwit Sector pale when compared with what our government has done.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
How did we get here? Let's review: In order to curry congressional support after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to increased financing of "affordable housing." They became the largest buyers of subprime and Alt-A mortgages between 2004 and 2007, with total GSE exposure eventually exceeding $1 trillion. In doing so, they stimulated the growth of the subpar mortgage market and substantially magnified the costs of its collapse.
If the Democrats had let the 2005 legislation come to a vote, the huge growth in the subprime and Alt-A loan portfolios of Fannie and Freddie could not have occurred, and the scale of the financial meltdown would have been substantially less. The same politicians who today decry the lack of intervention to stop excess risk taking in 2005-2006 were the ones who blocked the only legislative effort that could have stopped it.
Unfortunately, the growth in presidential appointees and an increasingly cumbersome clearance and nominations process means that, even with good intentions, the next president will need months to create a functioning government.
Transition expert Paul Light, a New York University professor, notes that John F. Kennedy took less than six months to install 200 top Senate-confirmed appointees. In 2001, President Bush took a year longer, in part because he had to fill 600 such jobs.
By all accounts, Mr. Bush ran such an efficient transition in 2000 that his administration got off to a fast start. By contrast, Bill Clinton wasted time with distractions from an economic conference to an untimely fight with the Pentagon over gays in the military.
Also William MacKenzie's "Campaigning Isn't Governing" what campaigns face once the election is over and the candidate faces governing.
The campaign trail seemed a universe away from SMU's John Tower Center last week, where Andy Card and Mack McLarty held forth for more than an hour about the realities of running a government. They know something about that. Mr. Card was George W. Bush's first White House chief of staff; Mr. McLarty held that post under Bill Clinton. Those grueling tenures showed them what it's like to manage a president's day, hire and manage Type-A staffers, keep an agenda rolling and deal with Capitol Hill. The longer they talked the other night, the more being president sounded as disconnected from what John McCain and Barack Obama are doing on the stump these days as pitcher-and-catcher camps are from the realities of a marathon baseball season.
The campaign trail seemed a universe away from SMU's John Tower Center last week, where Andy Card and Mack McLarty held forth for more than an hour about the realities of running a government.
They know something about that. Mr. Card was George W. Bush's first White House chief of staff; Mr. McLarty held that post under Bill Clinton. Those grueling tenures showed them what it's like to manage a president's day, hire and manage Type-A staffers, keep an agenda rolling and deal with Capitol Hill.
The longer they talked the other night, the more being president sounded as disconnected from what John McCain and Barack Obama are doing on the stump these days as pitcher-and-catcher camps are from the realities of a marathon baseball season.
'These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The first: she’s a disaster waiting to happen who will explode at the debate and confirm neither she nor John McCain are fit to govern. There is another: she’s a godsend for John McCain because she is the newest — and only remaining — source of optimism and good cheer in the campaign.
And then there is this prediction -- The Muse of the Coming Police State
Monday, September 22, 2008
The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.
"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
Friday, September 19, 2008
As the stock market plunged nearly 1,000 points in two days this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was preoccupied with protecting billions of dollars worth of earmarks contained in a separate, unpublished committee report that got a one-sentence reference in a giant $612 billion defense bill. Reid engineered the 61-to-32 vote to limit debate on the bill, thus barring consideration of an amendment offered by Sen. Jim DeMint.
And then I look at California, a state that has floundered under a Democrat-led state legislature. Recently there was a budget clash with the Governor Schwarzeneggar (R), which I have not followed. But he was threatening to veto a budget (and I think on solid ground) that the Democrat California legislature submitted to him. One issue was:
Schwarzenegger had criticized the earlier plan for failing to meet his demands for a more robust rainy day fund. He said the budget relied on accounting gimmicks to close a $15.2 billion deficit -- such as collecting an extra 10 percent of workers' income tax in advance and repaying it later -- that could lead to an even larger deficit next year.
The Democrat legislature is foisting the problem on the next year's budget--I guess they have learned from Washington.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that's changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch -- overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and -- at least in Morgan Stanley's case -- have prepared themselves for the end.
Many are drawing comparisons with the Great Depression, the national trauma that has been the benchmark for everything since. "I think it has the chance to be the worst period of time since 1929," financing legend Donald Trump told CNN. And the Wall Street Journal seconds that opinion, giving one story the title: "Worst Crisis Since '30s, With No End Yet in Sight."
But what's happening? Experts have so far been unable to agree on any conclusions. Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it just a painful, but normal cycle correcting the excesses of recent years? Does responsibility lie with the ratings agencies, which have been overvaluing financial institutions for a long time? Or did dubious short sellers manipulate stock prices -- after all, they were suspected of having caused the last stock market crisis in July.
The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed -- at least for now. The near nationalization of AIG, America's largest insurance company, with an $85 billion cash infusion -- a bill footed by taxpayers -- was a staggering move. The sum is three times as high as the guarantee provided by the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March.
Things are not going to be the same economically and politically. Sofar I haven't seen this kind of realism in America.
What a quote! Senator Harry Reid (D, Nev.): "'no one knows what to do' at the moment."
I finally found something I agree with John Gibson on:
Lehman Brothers’ collapse is traced back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two big mortgage banks that got a federal bailout a few weeks ago. Freddie and Fannie used huge lobbying budgets and political contributions to keep regulators off their backs.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
[A]a series of new experiments show that misinformation can exercise a ghostly influence on people’s minds after it has been debunked — even among people who recognize it as misinformation. In some cases, correcting misinformation serves to increase the power of bad information.
Obama in a statement yesterday blamed the shocking new round of subprime-related bankruptcies on the free-market system, and specifically the "trickle-down" economics of the Bush administration, which he tried to gig opponent John McCain for wanting to extend.
But it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street's most revered institutions.
As soon as Clinton crony Franklin Delano Raines took the helm in 1999 at Fannie Mae, for example, he used it as his personal piggy bank, looting it for a total of almost $100 million in compensation by the time he left in early 2005 under an ethical cloud.
Other Clinton cronies, including Janet Reno aide Jamie Gorelick, padded their pockets to the tune of another $75 million.
Who in Washington got some of the money in political donations?
Of the 354 lawmakers who received money from Freddie and Fannie between 1989 and 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd received the most. But next was . . . drumroll . . . Barack Obama. Yup. And he was only there for three years. Not too much went to John McCain, about a sixth of what Obama received.
Monday, September 15, 2008
THE suits at Disney-owned ABC are too chicken to re-air or release on DVD their $40 million docudrama that accused Bill Clinton of squandering many chances to capture Osama bin Laden before the Twin Towers attacks.
That's the charge of John Ziegler, director of a new ABC-bashing documentary titled "Blocking 'The Path to 9/11.' " It focuses on why ABC delayed airing and severely re-edited its ambitious miniseries "The Path to 9/11" in 2006 after a furious Clinton and his cronies strong-armed the network.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
If one compares Palin’s speech to Obama’s, it appears to me that they used similar amounts of sarcasm (not much), but Obama made considerably more extensive negative comments about McCain and Republican administrations than Palin did about Obama and Democrats. Palin’s negative comments, however, were on balance funnier, better written, and more pointed than Obama’s. Neither candidate’s comments were entirely fair in every characterization of their opponents’ positions.
Sen. Obama does not get it: He’s hauling out the women (including Clinton) to counter Palin. He doesn’t get the fact that Palin’s gender is secondary or even tertiary to why she has the GOP energized out of its collective mind. It’s what she IS, and what she DOES and what she BELIEVES and what she SAYS, and how she doesn’t just talk it, she WALKS it.
Hiding behind 1000 women standing behind you and saying you’re great (while ripping her apart) cannot counterbalance that. It will preach to the choir, and the media will sing along, but that’s all. The Dems really are working off of an outdated template. They do not, in the least, understand modern conservative women.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Sarah Palin's youngest daughter Piper is just six, but she proved a natural in front of the cameras on Wednesday as she waved to the crowds at every opportunity. At one point while her mother was speaking, Piper held her baby brother Trig and was even seen licking her hand and smoothing the baby's hair.
One of Barack Obama's elite fundraisers from the anti-American group Code Pink attempted to storm the stage last night during Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the GOP convention in St. Paul.
Among the eyebrow-raising comments in recent days:
• Democrat Joe Biden, in what he intended as self-deprecating remark, observed, “There's a gigantic difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and between me and I suspect my vice presidential opponent. ... She's good looking."
• A spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women, noting Palin’s opposition to abortion rights and support of other parts of the social conservative agenda, told Politico, “She's more a conservative man than she is a woman on women's issues. Very disappointing."
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
What the Republicans missed about Sarah Palin then [referring to her victory over the Republican Party establishment in Alaska] --and what the Democrats seem poised to miss now--is that she is a true political savant; a candidate with a knack for identifying the key gripes of the populace and packaging herself as the solution. That keen political nose has enabled her to routinely outperform her resume. Nearly two years into her administration, she still racks up approval ratings of 80 per cent or better.
Sarah Palin is a living reminder that the ultimate source of political power in this country is not the Kennedy School or the Davos Summit or an Ariana Huffington salon; even now, power emanates from the electorate itself. More precisely, power in 2008 emanates from the working class electorates of Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Sooner or later, the Obama camp will realize that the beauty pageant queen is an enormously talented populist in a year that is ripe for populism. For their own sake, it had better be sooner.
We shall see. Here is Giuliani's tussle with Brokaw on the issue.