Tuesday, September 30, 2008

$426.9 million – That’s the amount of money Barack Obama has raised for his campaign – so far

$426.9 million – That’s the amount of money Barack Obama has raised for his campaign – so far; a whopping sum of money indeed. But the questions are, who contributed this money and where does the money come from?

After searching around, here are some things I found; an article by Ken Timmerman in Newsmax has a lot of information about Obama's financing.

First it should be noted that Federal law does not require campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 during the election cycle. However, it does require that campaigns calculate running totals for each donor and report them once they go beyond the $200 mark. Not surprisingly, the great majority of Obama donors never exceed the $200 threshold. An FEC breakdown of the Obama campaign reveals $222.7 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less. Only $39.6 million of that amount comes from donors the Obama campaign has identified.

Of the many, many contributions in the under $200 category, some are like this, and these are likely only the tip of the iceberg:

There are a series of $25 donations from a contributor identified as “Will, Good” from Austin, Texas. Mr. Good Will listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You.” – “A Newsmax analysis of the 1.4 million individual contributions in the latest master file for the Obama campaign discovered 1,000 separate entries for Mr. Good Will, most of them for $25. In total, Mr. Good Will gave $17,375.”

One donor identified as “Pro, Doodad,” from “Nando, NY,” gave $19,500 in 786 separate donations, most of them for $25. For most of these donations, Mr. Doodad Pro listed his employer as “Loving” and his profession as “You,” just as Mr. Good Will had done. But according to Newsmax; “in some of them, he didn’t even go this far, apparently picking letters at random to fill in the blanks on credit card donation form. In these cases, he said he was employed by “VCX” and that his profession was “VCVC.’”

In foreign donations Obama struck campaign gold; at least the ones we know about.

The FEC has compiled a separate database of potentially questionable overseas donations to Obama that contains more than 11,500 contributions totaling $33.8 million. More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran. Another 63 listed it as “UK,” the United Kingdom. Some came from places such as Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Fallujah, Florence, Italy, and a wide selection of towns and cities in France. For a while, but no longer, the Obama Web site allowed a contributor to select the country where he resided from the entire membership of the United Nations, including such places as North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Reports are that “unlike McCain’s or Sen. Hillary Clinton’s online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until just recently. Clinton’s presidential campaign required U.S. citizens living abroad to actually fax a copy of their passport before a donation would be accepted.”

We are all familiar with fund raising rallies but did you know that this summer the man in charge of Nigeria’s stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, which included local Nigerian business owners. Price of attendance was not cheap; a table for eight at one fundraising dinner went for $16,800. The Nigerian press reported sponsors collected an estimated $900,000.

Not long ago Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi spoke in praise of Obama, and said that foreign nationals were donating to his campaign.

“All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man,” the Libyan leader said. “They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency..."

U.S. federal law bans any foreigner from donating to a U.S. election campaign.

Newsmax uncovered an unusual fund raising gimmick; sale of Obama campaign goodies. One practice that might not appear obvious at first is the sale of “campaign paraphernalia such as T-shirts or bumper stickers to foreigners through the Obama online store.” Timmerman says blogger Pamela Geller, who runs the blog Atlas Shrugs, discovered what Glenn Simpson of The Wall Street Journal reported first, that donors from the Gaza Strip had given more than $33,000 to the Obama campaign, through bulk purchases of T-shirts they had shipped to Gaza.

The online campaign store allows buyers to complete their purchases by making an additional donation to the Obama campaign. According to FEC records a pair of Palestinian brothers named Hosam and Monir Edwan contributed more than $31,300 to the Obama campaign. The Edwan brothers listed their address as “GA,” as in Georgia, although they entered “Gaza” or “Rafah Refugee camp” as their city of residence on most of the online contribution forms. According to Newsmax, “Many of the Edwan brothers’ contributions have been purged from the FEC database, but they still can be found in archived versions available for CRP and other watchdog groups” (Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Many Obama donors never appear in the Obama campaign reports which the CRP estimates at nearly half the $426.8 million the Obama campaign has raised to date. Many of these small donors participate in online “matching” programs. This program allows donors to connect with other Obama supporters and eventually share e-mail addresses and blogs. The Obama Web site says the matching contribution program is similar to a “public radio fundraising drive.”

“Our goal is to bring 50,000 new donors into our movement by Friday at midnight,” campaign manager David Plouffe e-mailed supporters on September 15th. “And if you make your first online donation today, your gift will go twice as far. A previous donor has promised to match every dollar you donate.”

Campaign spokesman for Obama, LaBolt, said, “We have more than 2.5 million donors overall, hundreds of thousands of which have participated in this program.” The names of these donors and where they live remain anonymous and the FEC has no way to find out.

Although reports with information like this occasionally come to light; it would be really interesting to know the amount of money contributed to Obama by the likes of George Soros, directly through his various vehicles, and indirectly through other nefarious and illegal means.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Conservative House Republicans save the day

It has been reported that conservative Republican members of the House of Representatives have offered a “free-market alternative” to the $700 billion plan to bail out the mortgage industry proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson, Fed Chairman Bernanke and President Bush. A vote today in the House failed, though Democrats will continue twisting arms and cajoling House Democrats to change their vote the next time around.

I don’t believe a bailout as proposed is necessary to save the economy from a major failure of multiple financial institutions at the same time.

There are different opinions by a lot of smart people who know Wall Street, banking and the economy quite well. Some will tell you that a bailout is absolutely essential but over 400 economic experts, including some Nobel Prize winners, are skeptical. There is a pending financial crisis mainly because Paulson says there is. He raised the issue by going to the public in a very high-profile way, not just with his concern, but with a kind of "Chicken-Little, the-sky-is-falling" demand” and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Once Treasury Secretary Paulson announced there is a pending financial collapse, “perhaps as great as the Great Depression”, congress was in the position it felt it must act. However many members of congress were stunned at that news, and were equally surprised they didn’t hear from bankers in their districts. Some members called bankers and heard a different story. Business author David Freddoso reported local bankers as saying “I think things are just fine.” Freddoso also said he talked to one banker who said, “Gosh, we’ve got money, and we’re liquid, and we’re making a profit. And we’re in the market selling loans, and we’ve got competitors trying to sell loans against us.”

Paulson claims we will have a catastrophe of generational proportions that could go worldwide but what is reported from banks other than the huge Wall Street houses like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley is quite different. Few if any of the local bankers are indicating they can’t borrow money. If Paulson was right, after he announced on Friday that there was a crisis of liquidity that threatens the entire nation’s financial solvency and Americans’ jobs from coast to coast would be lost, you would expect that community bankers around the country would call their representatives to demand something be done and that they would ask them to back Paulson’s proposal; but that did not happen.

Paulson has asserted we are in deep trouble but he is not convincing to all bankers and he has not had everyone rallying to his side saying he’s absolutely right. Those in the banking business should be saying and calling for the government to get involved if they were experiencing the crisis Paulson claims exists. It looks to me that if there is a problem, the problem is Paulson himself and his desire to help big brokerages like Goldman Sachs where he came from.

With the type of drastic “solution” being proposed, why can’t congress take the time to learn about the problems and deliberate in a reasoned manner (at least to the extent congress can) and wait a little longer, to make sure a bill is produced that is right?

I’m cautiously optimistic that we can solve any real problem but congress needs to hear from more expert economists with differing opinions. For example, the insurance proposal some suggest may be significantly better. There are clearly undesirable implications in the language of earlier executive drafts that would have the government take ownership interest in all the banks that have so-called “toxic” assets to be bought. I have a real problem with deviating from the free market system and allowing government to own a huge sector of our economy by buying assets or even partially controlling them. Can you imagine a banking system where the government owns as much as a third of our banks, or perhaps even half?

John McCain went to Washington and said “Here are my five points, and beyond that, I’m with House Republicans.” In response Paulson used fear; some say “fear-mongering”, in an effort to stampede the Congress. The only people standing in his way at the time were House Republicans; they kept congress from passing Paulson’s bad idea which was to give him $700 billion to spend without restrictions. We all should be grateful to these House Republicans.

All polls show the public opposes the bailout by huge margins; this could be another situation like the oil drilling and amnesty issues where the public caused congress to reverse the Democrat and Bush administration direction. That’s why conservatives, and clear thinking Republicans, want to distance themselves from Bush and his domestic policies. As for Paulson, this should be a good example to all future Republican administrations not to include Democrats in the cabinet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do we really want to socialize our financial system? [Part 3]

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a draft proposal of the “save the United States” plan for government to nationalize a large segment of our economy, seemingly agreed to by those we had assumed represent Democrat opponents. Here are the sound bites we will here on TV about the plan:

“The Three Phases of a Financial Rescue with Strong Taxpayer Protections

• Reinvest in the troubled financial markets … to stabilize our economy and insulate Main Street from Wall Street

• Reimburse the taxpayer … through ownership of shares and appreciation in the value of purchased assets

• Reform business-as-usual on Wall Street with strong Congressional oversight and no golden parachutes.”

Don’t believe it.

For good measure Pelosi also tells us that giving government control by tax payer acquisition of “toxic” mortgages will benefit Americans in the following ways:

Protecting taxpayers by ensuring THEY share IN ANY profits

Cutting the original $700 billion requested for the ‘bailout’ to $350 billion (not an insignificant amount of money); and conditions future payments on Congressional review

Giving taxpayers an ownership stake and profit-making opportunities with participating companies (meaning; it gives the government an opportunity to receive more money to squander away on ‘feel-good’ programs in the future – tax payers will never actually get any money to pay their bills)

‘Guaranteeing taxpayers are repaid in full’ if other protections have not actually produced a profit (from whom?)

Allowing the government to purchase troubled assets from pension plans, local governments, and small banks that serve low- and middle-income families” (thereby further enlarging government socialistic take over of businesses)

Limiting compensation of the new managers (while doing nothing to recover the millions scammed by previous managers like Democrats Raines, Johnson, Gorelick, and the politicians, largely Democrats, who were rewarded for not interfering with management of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Of course there is other window dressing to give the appearance the government “will monitor against corruption” to make it more palatable to a gullible public.

Now let’s consider what is not told to the public about the government take-over scheme.

First, the $350 or $700 billion fund will likely be managed by either Goldman Sachs (where Democrat Paulson came from) or Morgan Stanley, for a fee, of course, but the government will not pay the low, real-world prices for the bad debt. The market price of the bad assets is what Bernanke calls a “fire-sale” price; and "that is bad." (Why?)

The banks owning the securities will be forced to sell at fire-sale prices, which don’t improve their capital position. Note also, it is the government requirement that banks use the real world fire-sale prices to identify their assets that led to the cash and credit problems leading to the so-called “crisis” in the first place, but the government wants the tax payer to pay the “hold-to-maturity” price for the securities. That price, as you might guess, is much higher than the “fire sale” (market) price.

What is the “hold-to-maturity” price? No one knows! Paulson and Bernanke argue that many of the mortgages will come good once the crisis is over, and that the assets the taxpayer buys today at “hold-to-maturity” price might actually be a good investment in the proverbial “long term”; what do you think now that you know this? Are Paulson and Bernanke making any sense paying higher than market price for securities bought by the government?

In principal I don’t see anything wrong with Government coming to the rescue of financial institutions where mismanagement has caused risk of failure in a way that jeopardizes the stability of the entire financial system. However what is wrong, partly because is both a violation of public trust and rewards professional incompetence, is that it uses taxpayer money to benefit managers and owners of these companies rather than the taxpayers.

We now know that these financial firms manufactured, distributed, and inventoried near-fraudulent debt (financial securities) at 30:1 leverage. Investors don’t want to buy these securities at the current high offer price, and if the securities were priced and bought at a realistic market clearing price, it would likely bankrupt the sellers.

Paulson and Ben Bernanke are orchestrating a plan that provides huge sums of taxpayer money to Paulson’s buddies at Goldman Sachs, along with various others, including Morgan Stanley, to purchase the unwanted securities in a manner that directly enriches the management and shareholders of these nearly bankrupt companies. With AIG it was demanded that taxpayers be rewarded with any profits of the rescue but the current plan sticks taxpayers with the downside, while management, creditors and shareholders of these firms reap tens of billions in stock and bond appreciation.

Paulson and Bernanke could have handled the financial system as they did with AIG by taking ownership (I don’t agree with this practice but simply note the difference in the treatment of AIG and Goldman Sachs/Morgan Stanley) but then their buddies would not have gained. Instead, of rescuing the financial system in a responsible way, they rescued their rich friends who created the mess and left the taxpayer holding the bag.

Unfortunately because I like Christopher Cox, SEC Chairman, I believe the SEC was complicit in falsely pointing the blame for the near-demise of these financial institutions at short sellers who are a convenient scapegoat, but this was merely a diversion.

The real causes of the demise of these firms were:

Mismanagement by applying 30:1 leverage to volatile illiquid mortgage assets that these firms manufactured, distributed, and inventoried;

The failure of regulatory oversight, in allowing these firms to use 30:1 leverage on collateral known to more than occasionally suffer 30% to 50% downside fluctuations (real estate);

The failure to respond properly to the demise of Lehman and AIG and artificially increasing the value of share prices of distressed companies in a way that enriched management and shareholders at the direct expense of innocent market participants, their financial competitors who were prudent in avoiding overexposure to leveraged toxic debt, and at the expense of free market principles.

The SEC says that it is not responsible for market manipulation but John Mack at Morgan Stanley and Paulson’s colleagues at Goldman Sachs have received tens of millions of upside stock profit in just two days.

All other businesses that take risks that don’t work out fail and are not bailed out by the government. The difference I see here is that nationalizing these small businesses doesn’t have the same socialist effect on our economy as nationalizing the huge financial system.

Goldman Sachs is known as one of the most opportunistic and predatory firms on Wall Street. When Goldman Sachs identifies companies in distress it has a long history of rushing in and providing assets in return for majority equity stakes, thereby earning the upside for this risk ahead of the existing management or owners. Paulson was the direct beneficiary of Goldman Sachs business practices while CEO at Goldman. He made more than $500 million selling Goldman Sachs stock, tax-free, when he accepted the job as Secretary of the Treasury. Now that Goldman Sachs has a problem, Paulson wants to hand Goldman Sachs taxpayer money without demanding a controlling equity stake for tax payers from Goldman Sachs in return. The public should ask Paulson who he is really working for. Paulson should resign or be fired.

Instead of getting an honest explanation about what is occurring, we are now being sold a story manufactured by government officials who have been complicit in irresponsible behavior. The question is; are the American people gullible enough to buy it?

Note: This morning we woke to one of those headlines I just dread. Right there, on the front page of the New York Times, "Breakthrough Reached in Negotiations on Bailout."

"We have made great progress toward a deal, which will work and be effective in the marketplace," announced Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.

That's the same Paulson who this past July told us that "It's a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation."

It's also the same Paulson who told Chinese officials last year "The reality of the situation is that an open, competitive, and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than governmental intervention..."

Americans had a chance three years ago to prepare for and avoid the financial calamity we now have when John McCain co-sponsored legislation to provide more oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This bill if not obstructed by congressional Democrats would have prevented the situation which Paulson, Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and gullible Republicans want House want Americans to accept. All they had to do was pay attention to the only man vying for the nation's top job who wanted to do something about this, John McCain.

In the debate Barach Obama said he warned about this pending problem but that is totally untrue, he actually wasn’t yet in the Senate then; just like his attempt to have voters believe he warned against the Iraq war despite the fact he was in the Illinois legislature when the Iraq war began and hardly had Iraq in his sights at that time.

*Banks generally loan money based on a ratio that allows lending 12 time the assets owned by the banks; however, banking practices raised the ratio to 30:1, thus lending much more money than they had in assets. Since much of the assets are in bundled mortgages which include mortgage loans doomed to failure because they were made to borrowers unable to repay the loan, as home prices fell, these securities became lower valued assets under accounting practices force by law. The effect was that bundled securities could not be sold and the banks and other financial companies, like Lehman, and including insurance companies like AIG, failed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Do we really want to socialize our financial system? [Part 2]

In Part 1 of this series I said suggestions would be made in Part 2 to deal with our economy if we did not socialize our financial system as proposed by Democrat and former Goldman Sachs head Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and President Bush. Their proposal has been seized upon with relish by Democrats in congress. The mere fact that someone like Senator Harry Reid is promoting this plan should itself raise skepticism in the minds of the rest of us and suggest that the Paulson-Bush proposal is bad for the country.

Newt Gingrich called the plan "stupid" and a "nightmare" that "looks like it had been designed by autocrat Vladimir Putin." According to Gingrich, economic historian Alan Meltzer advocated doing nothing rather than implanting the Paulson Plan. Reporter James Pethokoukis said Gingrich told him Meltzer "apparently joked that this was about the third time he had seen Wall Street scream 'the apocalypse was nigh' only to have the economy keep right on chugging along."

Alan Keyes, former Assistant Secretary of State under Reagan, said the federal government's bailout of mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as proposed by the Bush administration would effectively transform our nation into "a socialist society."

Bush defended the plan to buy hundreds of billions in "toxic" mortgage-related assets in the belief that the alternative would be more failures of banks and financial institutions and a breakdown in lending that would hobble the economy. However there are other ways to deal with the financial system to ease the economy if the draconian government takeover is not implemented, and without the invitation to corruption built into the Paulson-Bush plan.

Their plan contemplates getting authority to issue up to $700 billion of Treasury securities to finance the purchase of troubled assets such as mortgage-backed securities, which are bundles of loans packaged as securities and sold to investors. It involves buying assets, often through "reverse auctions." Banks and financial institutions would price assets and offer them to the government. Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke acknowledge that in order to work, the reverse auctions must buy from banks and financial institutions the riskiest "illiquid" assets in order to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to stay in business but say this would help healthy companies that want to raise capital by the being able to sell higher-quality assets so they can continue to make more loans but this could also be done by guaranteeing the assets without actually buying them with billions of tax payer dollars.

Amazingly they see nothing wrong with giving the Treasury Secretary the sole unlimited power to buy virtually any financial instrument from any institution, as a means to relieve it of bad assets and supposedly pump credit back into the economy. The program that the White House has outlined includes wording that appears to bar any review of Treasury's bailout actions by the courts or other administrative agencies. How insane is it to give one person the authority to spend billions of dollars at his own discretion, and without oversight. Not only that, but government bureaucracy would be expanded because a new Treasury staff would be created to manage the program, "although the administration foresees contracting with private firms to manage its new asset holdings."

Many of America's problems stem from failing to continue the course of government outlined by our country's founders in the constitution. The decline of respect for the constitution had been gradual until the New Deal administration of Franklin Roosevelt but accelerated even further under Lyndon Johnson and his failed "war on poverty." Ironically some Democrat administrations like those of Harry Truman and John Kennedy suspended the slide toward socialism only to see Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton resume the downward trend. To the chagrin of conservatives (I say "conservatives" and not Republicans) the two terms of President George Bush, even when accompanied by a Republican congress, added severely to expansion of government and government spending. This last effort in the waning days of the Bush administration will be the epitome of government expansion if the so called "remedy" for the threat to our current financial system is actually implemented.

Instead of leaping into a socialistic morass there are other things we can do.

1. Keep spending within constitutional limits. The intention of the Tenth Amendment was to restrict the size of government, and that should always be reflected in the federal budget and spending. If we did that it would be the two of the greatest economic stimuli we could apply.

2. We should not add to our debt except in the face of an existential threat to our country. As George Washington wrote, "To contract new debts is not the way to pay for old ones." Thomas Jefferson wrote "To preserve [the] independence [of the people], we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."

3. We need a pay-as-you-go government policy. We should not spend more money than we have. In a recent article by Chuck Norris we were reminded that Thomas Jefferson once wrote to Fulwar Skipwith in 1787, "[T]he maxim of buying nothing but what we had money in our pockets to pay for …[is] a maxim, which, of all others, lays the broadest foundation for happiness."

4. We need to reign in the power of agencies dealing with our financial system, like the Federal Reserve. We were warned by Thomas Jefferson about the problems to be caused by a powerful central bank. Speaking of such a national institution Jefferson said "This institution is one of the most deadly hostility existing, against the principles and form of our Constitution. … I deem no government safe which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries. … Ought we then to give further growth to an institution so powerful, so hostile?"

5. We should have a mandate, by constitutional amendment or otherwise, to reduce big government, deficits, budgets, spending, and taxes, and to reform the tax code by providing a Fair Tax or its equivalent.

In addition to the above, we should address the current state of affairs by enacting legislation that would address current issues that haunt our economy, such as our present tax laws, energy dependence and excessive entitlements; and we must seriously reform our budget process.

It would be a great assist to our economy if we would index the Capital Gains Tax to inflation. This can be done by the Treasury Department without action by congress. In the alternative we could suspend the capitol gains tax for a limited period of time until our economy overcomes the present financial situation brought about by sub prime lending.

It is imperative to enact a real energy bill, not the phony bill advanced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, which will lower the price of gasoline at the pump by allowing more domestic and off shore drilling with incentives to coastal states to not obstruct such drilling. We should also encourage and assist with tax incentives the development of oil shale resources, coal to oil production and nuclear power generation. Although the ban on drilling on the outer continental shelf has been allowed to expire, a Democrat controlled congress and an elected Democrat president will certainly reinstate the ban.

Current enormous entitlement programs, and the still more expected in the next administration if Barack Obama is elected, are a huge strain on our economy and must be curtailed. If entitlements could be brought under control, our economy would grow and add to the ability to overcome the financial system problems we face today.

Lastly, as Republican Congressman Mike Spence has said "Any new expenditure of taxpayer dollars should be paid for with fiscal discipline and reform. If Congress decides to spend $1 trillion on a corporate bailout, it must find budget savings to prevent that cost from being passed along to the American people."

By implementing these recommendations not only would the United States weather the currency liquidity and credit problems brought about by failures in our financial institutions caused by programs forced by previous Democrat administrations on banks to extend credit to un-credit worthy recipients, but the U.S. dollar would recover and again become the currency of choice in the world.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Do we really want to socialize our financial system? [Part 1]

Do we really want to socialize our financial system; because that’s what we will be doing if tax payers bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, the auto industry and who knows what else?

No one can name one thing government has done that has been successful; and even those things government should handle, like the military, they don’t do as well as they should because of anti-Americans in congress. Why then should we trust the government to spend $750 billion to supposedly “prevent financial collapse?”

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease and this is one such case; better to let the country take the medicine and work things out without more government interference. We only have the people who caused whatever problems we have in the first place who say we are in a crisis and our world will end if we don’t spend more money. If our country could weather harsh winters during the 1700’s to become a free nation, and two world wars, we can handle whatever is in store for us after the government’s created financial situation we face today.

If you don’t believe the government is responsible, think back to the time in the late 1970s when we had a booming economy, massive economic development and national pride until the worst President that the United States that has ever had: Jimmy Carter, took over. Carter got Congress to pass the Community Redevelopment Act that was meant to promote minority home ownership. Bill Clinton then used this law from the first days he was in office so that he could declare how he was the champion of the poor and of minorities and how it was he who was able to provide them with “affordable housing.” Do you know what “affordable housing” is? “Affordable housing is when people who can’t afford it buy a house and you and I pay for it.”

Clinton put the force of the government behind his plan so as to “encourage” lenders to “help” the “less fortunate” to obtain “affordable housing.” What that really means is that Clinton resurrected the Community Redevelopment Act and made it clear to lenders that they had to make “affordable loans” “available” to basically anyone who was not of white Anglo heritage who wanted one. Lenders did not want to turn anyone down because if they did they would be subjected to the full brunt of the US government penal code as enforced by the relevant agencies. You could be investigated for anything from “unfair” loan practices to racism and discrimination. The Administration was in a position to levy hefty fines and other penalties on those who did not share the Administration’s enthusiasm for such high risk lending. Threatening lawsuits, Clinton's Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage.

In 1999, Los Angeles Times reporter Ron Brownstein hailed the Clinton administration's affirmative action lending policies as one of the "hidden success stories" of the Clinton administration, saying that "black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded."

But Investors Business Daily noted correctly:

“The untold story in this whole national crisis is that President Clinton put on steroids the Community Reinvestment Act*, a well-intended Carter-era law designed to encourage minority homeownership. And in so doing, he helped create the market for the risky sub prime loans that he and Democrats now decry as not only greedy but ‘predatory.’ … And it was the Clinton administration that mismanaged the quasi-governmental agencies that over the decades have come to manage the real estate market in America. 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. Raines was accused of overstating earnings and shifting losses so he and other senior executives could earn big bonuses. In the end, Fannie had to pay a record $400 million civil fine for SEC and other violations, while also agreeing as part of a settlement to make changes in its accounting procedures and ways of managing risk.”

Even as Fannie was fined for mismanagement, the Clinton administration was pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy more mortgages from low-income households.

Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, also played a part in the developing financial problem. By lowering the Fed fund's rate to 1%, the chairman encouraged lenders to make risky loans and tens of millions of Americans refinanced their mortgages as well. Greenspan also encouraged borrowers to go for adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) which ultimately caused many borrowers to put themselves in a position to default when the interest rate would rise, as everyone knew it eventually would. Couple that with a considerable drop in home prices and you have a recipe for eventual disaster.

Economists around the country all said at the time that the Democrats were forcing mortgage lenders to issue loans that would fail the moment the housing market slowed and “deadbeat borrowers” couldn't get out of their loans by selling their houses. A decade later the housing bubble burst and mortgages taken by insufficiently funded borrowers as predicted collapsed. “Democrats set an affirmative action time-bomb and now it's gone off.”

When President Bush took office White House chief economist, N. Gregory Mankiw, warned that the government's "implicit subsidy" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combined with loans to unqualified borrowers, was creating a huge risk for the entire financial system. But true to form Democrats like Rep. Barney Frank denounced Mankiw, saying he had no "concern about housing" and The New York Times reported that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "under heavy assault by the Republicans."

Those who think the government is the answer to all ills will not accept that Clinton era political strategy was subject to the law of unintended consequences. Obama and Democrats think still more regulation and huge sums of money along with interference with market forces will solve the problem their policies helped create. However pushing the country into more government control of our economy and nationalizing businesses is a giant step toward socialism and should not be tolerated or accepted.

George Washington wrote in 1799 to James Welch, "To contract new debts is not the way to pay for old ones." Thomas Jefferson warned Samuel Kercheval in 1816, "To preserve [the] independence [of the people], we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt." How far we have come from the wise advice of our founders.

I agree with Senator Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky:

"The free market for all intents and purposes is dead in America. The action proposed today by the Treasury Department will take away the free market and institute socialism in America."

And from the Los Angeles Times Blog:

“Mutual fund pioneer John Bogle said the U.S. government appears ‘punch drunk’ in its stumbling efforts to rescue the financial system. ‘We're playing a game of casino capitalism, interfering with the way the market isn’t working,’ Historian Allan Meltzer called the bailout plan ‘social democracy at its worst.’ He told Bloomberg News, ‘If they remove financial losses from the financial institution,’ the government should ensure that ‘the financial company will still owe the money,’ he said. ‘Civilized countries like Chile do that.’”

The problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that they were socialist from the start. They are so-called government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, publicly chartered but stockholder owned. The GSE’s are run as private corporations, with an army of lobbyists to advance their interests, but with ‘implicit’ federal backing.

In true socialist fashion the government with tax payer’s money now wants to nationalize a huge segment of our economy; it’s not right and we shouldn’t let them.

If we want the government to assist the country about this in some way, it shouldn't be by driving us further toward socialism; there are other things we can do to help our economy survive the trouble it put us in and I will make some suggestions in my next blog.

Let’s not be like the proverbial frog in the boiling water that doesn’t realize what’s happening until he’s doomed.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Myths about Roe v. Wade; don't let them dictate how you vote

As voters explore their options in this critical election year, abortion will be one of the pivotal issues that could determine the outcome in a close race for the Presidency. Democrats and pro-abortion forces fear that a Supreme Court comprising constitutional strict constructionists may overrule Roe v. Wade and many women worry that they would be denied the opportunity to kill their unborn children.

Rest assured ladies, if Roe v. Wade were indeed reversed by a moral Supreme Court majority your ability to abort would not be jeopardized.

Before Roe v. Wade in 1973 each state decided how to deal with the issue of abortion; so all a reversal of the Roe decision would do would be to return it to the states as it was before Roe where people - pro-life and abortion advocates alike – have an opportunity to decide how their state deals with abortion.

All the hysteria about the possibility that a Republican elected to the White House will “take away a women’s right to choose” is nothing more than Democrat hyperbole to win the presidency and keep Democrat majorities in the House and Senate because the facts are otherwise.

Voters would be wise to read "Abortion under State Constitutions," written by noted constitutional scholar Paul Benjamin Linton. As one reviewer wrote “This book dispels the notion that overturning Roe v. Wade would make abortion illegal throughout the U.S. Instead, in a post-Roe America, the focus of legal and political debate would merely shift to new and relatively unfamiliar battlegrounds - the courts and legislatures of each of our fifty states - where legal skirmishes about state-based abortion rights already have been fought, or will break out sooner rather than later. Paul Linton's new book provides the first full-length analysis of the relevant constitutional issues in this newest phase of our ongoing, nationwide ‘abortion wars’” - which could determine whether Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin are elected.

According to Linton's carefully researched book, more than one-half of all the abortions performed in the United States each year would still be "constitutionally protected" even if Roe v. Wade is overruled. Moreover, more than three-fourths of the states have repealed their pre-Roe laws, which would not be revived by a decision overruling Roe. Linton says "Abortion advocates have undertaken a long-term, national strategy to persuade state supreme courts to recognize abortion rights under state constitutions. They have already succeeded in twelve states, including several of our most populous states, where more than half of all abortions in the country are performed.”

For each state, Linton discusses the possible sources in a state constitution from which abortion advocates might try to derive a right to abortion; such as, privacy, due process of law, equality of rights, equal protection, privileges and immunities, as well as other provisions. Before anyone starts worrying about a woman’ ability to get an abortion, and uses that concern to decide who to vote for, they should learn what their state’s position on abortion was before the Roe decision. The Linton book provides this information and also explains what rights state laws has conferred upon unborn children outside the context of abortion.

Nonetheless extremists would have women and others uncertain about the abortion issue believe that reversal of Roe v. Wade will have catastrophic effects. For example, Planned Parenthood warned that a single ruling reversing Roe from the nation's highest court could make abortion illegal everywhere. The group said that under states’ laws, women and doctors could be sentenced to prison and fined for performing abortions in any case other than when a pregnant woman is dying. Only Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling in support of abortion rights, is preventing such laws from going into effect according to Planned Parenthood. How ridiculous is this?

Unfortunately the abortion issue is so emotional that statements made by the likes of Planned Parenthood (who by the way makes a lot of money from abortions) fuel emotions and cause abortion supporters to refrain from learning about the issues themselves.

In the Roe case the U.S. Supreme Court "reached" for some support in the constitution for their decision. This is often done when any court, including the highest court of the land, knows the decision it wants to make but has trouble actually supporting that decision lawfully. The majority did this by changing the recognized meaning of the 14th Amendment to find a “right of privacy” in the language despite that this "right" is not mentioned. Justice Rehnquist was totally correct in noting that at the time of the 14th Amendment, and long after it was enacted, many states had laws on the books against abortion in one form or another, generally based on the moral implications and concern that the unborn had no one to fight for their lives. As Rehnquist said:

“The fact that a majority of the States reflecting, after all, the majority sentiment in those States, have had restrictions on abortions for at least a century is a strong indication, it seems to me, that the asserted right to an abortion is not "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental," Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105 (1934). Even today, when society's views on abortion are changing, the very existence of the debate is evidence that the "right" to an abortion is not as universally accepted as the appellant would have us believe.”

Do you suppose those writing the 14th Amendment intended to outlaw abortion under these circumstances?

Generally Democrats, the news media and abortion supporters paint a greatly exaggerated picture of public support for the Supreme Court's abortion policy -- first by minimizing the actual scope of the Roe v. Wade ruling, and second by distorting what it would mean to 'overturn' Roe.

A few years ago the Associated Press reported that in an AP-sponsored poll by Ipsos-Public Affairs, 59 percent of respondents said they thought President Bush should nominate Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade, while 31 percent want to overturn Roe even when told it applies to the first three months. Twenty five percent said abortion should not be permitted after the three-month point. In the Supreme Court's most recent abortion ruling, in 2000, the Court even struck down a state ban on partial-birth abortion, which is a method used in the fifth month and later, as inconsistent with Roe v. Wade. At least 68 percent of the public favors a ban on partial-birth abortion.

I believe it is way past time for Democrats and the news media to stop distorting the real terms of Roe v. Wade. The news media uses two forms of distortion to create a greatly exaggerated picture of public support for the Supreme Court's abortion policy - first by minimizing the actual scope of the Roe v. Wade ruling, and second by distorting what it would mean to 'overturn' Roe. These distortions greatly stack the deck. Roe v. Wade allows absolutely no limits on reasons for abortion until nearly six months into pregnancy - which is a policy that is supported by, at most, 20 percent of the public. Poll after poll shows that 70 to 80 percent of Americans say they favor limitations on abortion that are not permitted under Roe. If the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the effect merely would be to allow elected lawmakers in each state to place limits on abortion, including a ban on partial-birth abortion.

The public deserves from the news media not the continued propagation of discredited myths, but a more candid discussion of the effects of Roe and the legal effects of changing Roe.

As an example of how Roe is mischaracterized in the press, in the early 1980s senior news executives of the Associated Press, The New York Times, and other major organs of the news media formally and erroneously declared that Roe legalized all abortions. A directive by Louis Boccardi, then executive editor of the Associated Press, dated September 4, 1981, said, "The [Roe vs. Wade] decision is often misreported, even now. . . . For summary purposes, you can say the court legalized abortion in 1973. . . . Thus, it's wrong to say only that the court approved abortion in the first three months. It did that, but more."

The National Desk of the New York Times specified in 1982 that "brief references to the Supreme Court's 1973 decision on abortion should say simply that the Court legalized abortion," because "the phrase 'in the first three months of pregnancy' might be incorrectly interpreted to mean that abortions in the last six months of pregnancy remain illegal."

News stories frequently imply that the effect of overturning Roe would be to make all abortions illegal, noting that "polling consistently has found a clear majority of people who think abortion should be legal at least in some cases." Other news media reports also incorporate this misconception in more explicit forms. For example, ABC World News Tonight once referred to the prospect of "a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion."

It’s no wonder that abortion supporters believe the world will end with reversal of Roe vs. Wade. Unfortunately based on this false belief, the outcome of the presidential election may be determined.

In reality, however, even if the Supreme Court completely overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion would not be outlawed. In fact, if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, that action alone would not make any abortion illegal. Rather, the effect of overturning Roe v. Wade would be to allow (but not require) elected state lawmakers to decide what degree of legal protection should apply to unborn children. Indeed, the leading pro-abortion litigation organization, the Center for Reproductive Rights, once issued a report ("What If Roe Fell?") that contained the following accurate observation: "A Supreme Court decision overturning Roe would not by itself make abortion illegal in the United States. Instead, a reversal of Roe would remove federal constitutional protection for a woman's right to choose and give the states the power to set abortion policy."

Democrats and their pro-abortion allies fear this because polls consistently show majorities of 70 percent and more are for limitations on abortion that are clearly not permitted by the actual Roe v. Wade decision.

For historical purposes, it is interesting to note the laws on the books at the time of the 14th amendment and still remaining after the Roe decision.

Here are jurisdictions that enacted abortion laws prior to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868:

1. Alabama -- Ala. Acts, c. 6, § 2 (1840).
2. Arizona -- Howell Code, c. 10, § 45 (1865).
3. Arkansas -- Ark. Rev. Stat., c. 44, div. III, Art. II, § 6 (1838).
4. California -- Cal. Sess. Laws, c. 99, § 45, p. 233 (1849-1850).
5. Colorado (Terr.) -- Colo. Gen. Laws of Terr. of Colo., 1st Sess., § 42, pp. 296-297 (1861).
6. Connecticut -- Conn. Stat., Tit. 20, §§ 14, 16 (1821). By 1868, this statute had been replaced by another abortion law. Conn. Pub. Acts, c. 71, §§ 1, 2, p. 65 (1860).
7. Florida -- Fla. Acts 1st Sess., c. 1637, subc. 3, §§ 10, 11, subc. 8, §§ 9, 10, 11 (1868), as amended, now Fla. Stat. Ann. §§ 782.09, 782.10, 797.01, 797.02, 782.16 (1965).
8. Georgia -- Ga. Pen. Code, 4th Div., § 20 (1833).
9. Kingdom of Hawaii -- Hawaii Pen. Code, c. 12, §§ 1, 2, 3 (1850).
10. Idaho (Terr.) -- Idaho (Terr.) Laws, Crimes and Punishments §§ 33, 34, 42, pp. 441, 443 (1863).
11. Illinois -- Ill. Rev. Criminal Code §§ 40, 41, 46, pp. 130, 131 (1827). By 1868, this statute had been replaced by a subsequent enactment. Ill. Pub. Laws §§ 1, 2, 3, p. 89 (1867).
12. Indiana -- Ind. Rev. Stat. §§ 1, 3, p. 224 (1838). By 1868 this statute had been superseded by a subsequent enactment. Ind. Laws, c. LXXXI, § 2 (1859).
13. Iowa (Terr.) -- Iowa (Terr.) Stat., 1st Legis., 1st Sess., § 18, p. 145 (1838). By 1868, this statute had been superseded by a subsequent enactment. Iowa (Terr.) Rev. Stat., c. 49, §§ 10, 13 (1843).
14. Kansas (Terr.) -- Kan. (Terr.) Stat., c. 48, §§ 9, 10, 39 (1855). By 1868, this statute had been superseded by a subsequent enactment. Kan. (Terr.) Laws, c. 28, §§ 9, 10, 37 (1859).
15. Louisiana -- La. Rev. Stat., Crimes and Offenses § 24, p. 138 (1856).
16. Maine -- Me. Rev. Stat., c. 160, §§ 11, 12, 13, 14 (1840).
17. Maryland -- Md. Laws, c. 179, § 2, p. 315 (1868).
18. Massachusetts -- Mass. Acts & Resolves, c. 27 (1845).
19. Michigan -- Mich. Rev. Stat., c. 153, §§ 32, 33, 34, p. 662 (1846).
20. Minnesota (Terr.) -- Minn. (Terr.) Rev. Stat., c. 100, §§ 10, 11, p. 493 (1851).
21. Mississippi -- Miss. Code, c. 64, §§ 8, 9, p. 958 (1848).
22. Missouri -- Mo. Rev. Stat., Art. II, §§ 9, 10, 36, pp. 168, 172 (1835).
23. Montana (Terr.) -- Mont. (Terr.) Laws, Criminal Practice Acts § 41, p. 184 (1864).
24. Nevada (Terr.) -- Nev. (Terr.) Laws, c. 28, § 42, p. 63 (1861).
25. New Hampshire -- N. H. Laws, c. 743, § 1, p. 708 (1848).
26. New Jersey -- N. J. Laws, p. 266 (1849).
27. New York -- N. Y. Rev. Stat., pt. 4, c. 1, Tit. 2, §§ 8, 9, pp. 12-13 (1828). By 1868, this statute had been superseded. N. Y. Laws, c. 260, §§ 1-6, pp. 285-286 (1845); N. Y. Laws, c. 22, § 1, p. 19 (1846).
28. Ohio -- Ohio Gen. Stat. §§ 111 (1), 112 (2), p. 252 (1841).
29. Oregon -- Ore. Gen. Laws, Crim. Code, c. 43, § 509, p. 528 (1845-1864).
30. Pennsylvania -- Pa. Laws No. 374, §§ 87, 88, 89 (1860).
31. Texas -- Tex. Gen. Stat. Dig., c. VII, Arts. 531-536, p. 524 (Oldham & White 1859).
32. Vermont -- Vt. Acts No. 33, § 1 (1846). By 1868, this statute had been amended. Vt. Acts No. 57, §§ 1, 3 (1867).
33. Virginia -- Va. Acts, Tit. II, c. 3, § 9, p. 96 (1848).
34. Washington (Terr.) -- Wash. (Terr.) Stats., c. II, §§ 37, 38, p. 81 (1854).
35. West Virginia -- See Va. Acts., Tit. II, c. 3, § 9, p. 96 (1848); W. Va. Const., Art. XI, par. 8 (1863).
36. Wisconsin -- Wis. Rev. Stat., c. 133, §§ 10, 11 (1849). By 1868, this statute had been superseded. Wis. Rev. Stat., c. 164, §§ 10, 11; c. 169, §§ 58, 59 (1858).

At the time of the 14th Amendment 36 states had laws relating to abortion. How likely is it those writing and/or voting for the Amendment expected that the amendment would apply to ban abortion laws in 36 states as “unconstitutional”?

Here is the line up of states where abortion laws in effect in 1868 when the 14th Amendment was enacted and are still in effect, but not enforced because of the Roe vs. Wade decision:

1. Arizona (1865).
2. Connecticut (1860).
3. Florida (1868).
4. Idaho (1863).
5. Indiana (1838).
6. Iowa (1843).
7. Maine (1840).
8. Massachusetts (1845).
9. Michigan (1846).
10. Minnesota (1851).
11. Missouri (1835).
12. Montana (1864).
13. Nevada (1861).
14. New Hampshire (1848).
15. New Jersey (1849).
16. Ohio (1841).
17. Pennsylvania (1860).
18. Texas (1859).
19. Vermont (1867).
20. West Virginia (1863).
21. Wisconsin (1858).

How likely is it that these states would retain laws banning abortions? Do you think northeastern states like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire (and you can add others from this list) would continue to ban abortion – not likely?

So what would be the effect of reversing Roe vs. Wade, even if that actually occurred – not much? Women’s rights to make decisions about their unborn children would not be seriously affected. It is also worth considering that the father has absolutely no say in this decision despite the fact that if the baby is born it is the father who is inevitably asked to support the child, and the mother.

Voters should understand the real affect of the (unlikely) possibility that Roe v, Wade would be reversed and make voting decisions accordingly.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Read this only if you want to know the truth about who tried to prevent the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

When President Bill Clinton took office, Fannie and Freddie were viewed as “key” to Clinton’s plans to expand home ownership. The Washington Post reports: “The result was a period of unrestrained growth for the companies. … The companies increasingly were seen as the engine of the housing boom.”

As Fannie and Freddie grew, conservatives repeatedly warned that their size posed a systemic risk to the financial system. As Sarah Palin put it, thanks to the implicit federal guarantee of their debt, Fannie and Freddie had become too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.

But Fannie and Freddie did not want to be exposed so they turned to Democrat friends for protection. James Johnson who was an advisor to Walter Mondale and is now a campaign advisor to Barack Obama, fought all efforts to reform of Freddie and Fannie. Clinton administration OMB director Franklin Raines joined the effort and tried to reassure critics that when he was Fannie Mae CEO in 1999: “We manage(d) our political risk with the same intensity that we manage our credit and interest rate risks.”

To this day Fannie and Freddie’s lobbying power over Democrats continues to be strong and it’s no secret why that is the case. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top three recipients of campaign donations from Freddie and Fannie’s PACs and employees are all Democrats. From 1989 through today, Sen. Chris Dodd received $165,400, Barack Obama $126,349, and John Kerry $111,000. The Washington Post in their article concluded: “Blessed with the advantages of a government agency and a private company at the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used their windfall profits to co-opt the politicians who were supposed to control them.”

It is amazing to me how contagious is the Democrat penchant for lying among themselves; it spreads from Democrat to Democrat like the Bubonic Plague. Bill Clinton of course was the lying master; he not only infected his wife Hillary but all who supported him. Former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey said of Bill Clinton he is an “unusually good liar; unusually good.”

Barack Obama has followed in Bill Clinton’s footsteps as an “unusually good liar” though realizing how little ability Obama has to think for himself, it is likely that his puppet string handler, David Axelrod, is the perpetrator of the lies Obama learns to speak behind his teleprompter. Now Obama says he warned about the problems with the two gigantic mortgage holders and buyers of still more mortgages and we would not be in this mess if he had been listened to (when, at what point in his 143 days in the senate?), and he says all this with the public certainty only someone skilled in misleading the public can do. Democrats speak their two minds through their forked tongues by once agreeing with the recommendations by our Treasury secretary and the Fed chief for prompt action to avert collapse of financial markets while also blaming the Bush administration for failure to avoid the problem. For good measure the Obama team places the blame on John McCain for doing nothing to correct the system in his 26 years in the senate; conveniently overlooking the still longer time in the senate occupied by their Vice Presidential candidate.

But the most unfortunate thing about all this is the failure of the news media, and even McCain’s own campaign, to inform the public that John McCain was one the very few in government to actually forecast the current financial situation unless Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were overhauled and corrected and the fact that McCain attempted to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2005 is ignored.

The question that should be asked at this time is: “Which candidate foresaw the credit crisis and tried to do something about it”? The answer is that John McCain did and along with three other Senate Republicans he tried to reform the government’s involvement in mortgage lending three years ago, after an attempt by the Bush administration died in Congress two years earlier.

McCain addressed the subject on May 25, 2006, when speaking in support of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 which was introduced to deal with the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (via Beltway Snark):

“Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were illusions deliberately and systematically created by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac. The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform. For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay. I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole. I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.”

In this statement, McCain predicted not only the entire collapse that has forced the government to assume obligations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but also Bear Stearns and AIG. He identifies the falsification of financial records to benefit executives, including Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, both of whom have worked as advisers in varying degrees to Barack Obama this year. McCain also noted their successful lobbying efforts to forestall oversight over their business practices. John McCain concludes with the warning that proved prescient over the past few days and weeks.

The bill McCain supported and cosponsored would have done the following: “(1) in lieu of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an independent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency which shall have authority over the Federal Home Loan Bank Finance Corporation, the Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac); and (2) the Federal Housing Enterprise Board. Sets forth operating, administrative, and regulatory provisions of the Agency, including provisions respecting: (1) assessment authority; (2) authority to limit nonmission-related assets; (3) minimum and critical capital levels; (4) risk-based capital test; (5) capital classifications and undercapitalized enterprises; (6) enforcement actions and penalties; (7) golden parachutes; and (8) reporting.”

However the bill never made it out of committee. Chris Dodd, then the ranking member of the Banking Committee and now its chair, was in the middle of receiving preferential loan treatment from Countrywide Mortgage, as reported at the time, “one of the companies gaming the system in the credit crisis.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the lobbyists McCain mentions in this speech, making Obama the #2 recipient of Fannie/Freddie money as reported in the following exchange on Fox News in a video shown on You Tube:

HEATHER NAUERT: Barack Obama attacking John McCain once again on the economy and the market turmoil today. Our John Gibson has new information on the Democratic presidential nominee and the mortgage mess for us now. What have you got John?

JOHN GIBSON: Alright Heather. 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. A group called the center for responsive politics keeps track of which politicians get Fannie and Freddie political contributions. The top three U.S. Senators getting big Fannie and Freddie political bucks were democrats and number two is Senator Barack Obama. Now, remember, he has only been in the Senate four years but still managed to grab the number two spot ahead of John Kerry, decades in the senate, and Chris Dodd who is chairman of the senate banking committee. Fannie and Freddie have been creations of the congressional democrats and the Clinton white house, designed to make mortgages available to more people, and as it turned out, some people who couldn’t afford them. Fannie and Freddie have also been places for big Washington Democrats to go to work in the semi-private sector and pocket millions. The Clinton administration’s white house budget director Franklin Raines ran Fannie and collected 50 million dollars. Jamie Gurilli, Clinton Justice Apartment Official, worked for Fannie and took home 26 million dollars. Big Democrat Jim Johnson, recently on Obama’s VP search committee has hauled in millions from his Fannie Mae C.E.O. job. Now remember Obama’s ads and stump speeches attack McCain and republican policies for the current financial turmoil. It is demonstrably not Republican policy and worse, it appears the man attacking McCain, Senator Obama, was at the head of the line when the piggy lined up at the Fannie and Freddie trough for campaign bucks. Senator Barack Obama, number two on the Fannie/Freddie list of favored politicians after just four short years in the senate. Next time you see that ad, you might notice he fails to mention that part of the Fannie and Freddie problem. Heather.

HEATHER NAUERT: Wow, that’s quite a report, begs the question — where is John McCain on this?

JOHN GIBSON: John McCain is a measly $20,000 after over 20 years so he really doesn’t even come close in the political contribution department. Open Secrets has the list of Congressmen who have benefited from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac largesse since 1989 (inclusive). Remarkably, after only serving less than four of those 20 years, Barack Obama has vaulted to the #2 position on Capitol Hill. Only Dodd outstripped him. He took more than six times the amount that McCain received in a 20-year period. The record shows that McCain saw the problem coming and tried to get Congress to act. In 2005, both McCain and Obama served together in the Senate. Did Obama attempt to pass this reform, sign on as a co-sponsor, or even speak out in its favor? The record is tellingly blank. Update: Below is a screen shot of Barack Obama’s statement on the American International Group (AIG) bailout:

(Quoting) BARACK OBAMA: “The fact that we have reached a point where the Federal Reserve felt it had to take this unprecedented step with the American Insurance Group is the final verdict on the failed economic philosophy of the last eight years. While we do not know all the details of this arrangement, the Fed must ensure that the plan protects the families that count on insurance. It should bolster our economy’s ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills and save their money. It must not bail out the shareholders or management of AIG.”

“This crisis serves as a stark reminder of the failures of crony capitalism and an economic philosophy that sees any regulation at all as unwise and unnecessary. It’s a philosophy that lets Washington lobbyists shred consumer protections and distort our economy so it works for the special interests instead of working people; a philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to the rest. Instead, the pain has trickled up – from the struggles of Main Street all the way up to the crises on Wall Street.”

“Despite his eleventh hour conversion to the language of reform, Senator McCain has subscribed to this philosophy for twenty-six years in Washington and the events of this week have rendered it a colossal failure. It is time for a new economic strategy, guided by the principle that America prospers when all Americans prosper, where common-sense rules of the road ensure that competition is fair, open, and honest. That is the strategy I will pursue as President, and I will bring the change we need to restore confidence in our financial markets and strength to our economy.”

GIBSON: As we have seen, McCain has been talking reform for three years, with no assist from Barack Obama. And McCain at least knows the correct name of the company that got its bailout last night from the federal government. Is Team Obama so incompetent that they couldn’t check the name before issuing the statement?"

For those interested in the truth about who understands and tried to do something about the financial mess caused by the Democrat piggy banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the foregoing should be enlightening. For all others, continue to drink the cool-aid and press the lever for messiah Barack Obama on November 4th.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why not use food as leverage for oil?

Did you know that over the summer Iran bought one million tons of wheat from the United States?

It’s been 27 years since Iran bought grain from us. Iran has suffered a very bad drought which reduced their wheat harvest by a third and forced them to look elsewhere to make up the shortfall. The fact that Iran is coming to the U.S. to buy wheat shows they have no where else to go for this commodity. They're searching the world for wheat. They're buying it from the U.S. because it's the only place they can get it right now.

The problem for the Arab world is they don’t have “good dirt”; that is fertile soil. Good dirt has become as valuable as oil to those that don’t have it. I believe good dirt will have strategic value on a par with oil; and it should be used by the United States just as oil is used by the Mid East camel riders and newly aggressive Russia as Putin strives to rebuild the Soviet Union. As Lennart Bage, president of a U.N. fund for agriculture development says, "Now fertile land with access to water has become a strategic asset."

If you don’t believe this consider increasing export restrictions around the globe which are used to keep food and grain within the borders of producing countries. For example, India curbs exports on rice and the Ukraine halts wheat shipments altogether. The number of grain-exporting regions has dwindled. Only Europe imported grain before World War II. In the 1930’s South America produced twice as much grain as North America. There was a time when the old Soviet Union exported grain, of course then they had the Ukraine in their orbit. Even Africa was self-sufficient but that’s not the case today as European farmers were replaced with natives as tyrannical rulers expelled white land owners. Today, only three major grain exporters remain: North America, Australia, and New Zealand. It is no surprise that global food supplies are at all time lows. Increasing land devoted to corn for ethanol production also reduces arable land available for food production and we all know the consequences of that.

Realization of the problem has now occurred to arid nations and they are scrambling to secure farmland. For example Saudi Arabia is at the mercy of the food producing countries just as they are obliged to them with respect to oil because Saudi has little ability to produce its own food. The Financial Times reports the Saudis are “scouring the globe for fertile lands in a search that has taken Saudi officials to Sudan, Ukraine, Pakistan and Thailand." Saudi Arabia is not the only one scrambling for “good dirt”; there are many others.

Chris Mayer, editor, Capital & Crisis says “The UAE has been looking to lock down acreage in Sudan and Kazakhstan. Libya is looking to lease farms in the Ukraine. South Korea has been poking around in Mongolia. Even China is exploring investing in farmland in Southeast Asia. While China has plenty of cultivable land, it does not have a lot of water.

Joachim von Braun, the director of the International Food Policy Research Institute has written "This is a new trend within the global food crisis. The dominant force today is security of food supplies."

Food prices around the world reflect this increasing shortage of food supplies. While the mainstream press focuses on the impact of biofuels such as ethanol as the reason, very little is written about what may be the most important thing of all: a growing shortage of quality fertile land. Perhaps it can be called the “good dirt crisis”. (After all nothing gets proper attention unless it is labeled a “crisis.”).

The world is losing and wasting fertile soil faster than it can be replaced. For the most part it took the earth millions of years to produce it and, just like climate change, the planet has its own schedule to deal with this as well.

A simple Google search reveals that “quality soil is loose, clumpy, filled with air pockets, and teeming with life. It's a complex micro ecosystem all its own. On average, the planet has little more than three feet of topsoil spread over its surface.” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls it "the shallow skin of nutrient-rich matter that sustains most of our food."

Again, Chris Mayer says “Until the final decades of the 20th century, the amount of new farm acreage added to the mix by clearing land offset the losses on a global basis. In the 1980s, the amount of land under cultivation began to fall for the first time since humble early humanity began to farm the rich land around the Tigris and Euphrates. It continues to fall today.”

John Reganold, a soils scientist at Washington State University agrees: “Globally, it's clear we are eroding soils at a rate much faster than they can form.” And the National Academy of Sciences says in the United States “we're losing it 10 times faster than its being replaced.” The U.N. says that on a global basis, the rate of loss is 10-100 times faster than that of replacement.

In any case, it seems safe to say that good dirt is in short supply. Actually fertile land is scarcer than oil. There is plenty of oil around the world; it’s only those who want to keep supplies low for political or commercial reasons that deprive us of the ability to have the supply exceed the demand. However this is not the case with the all important resource necessary to supply food to the world’s growing population.

If those leading America in the future had fortitude to do so, food could be used as part of a geopolitical strategy to make our country secure and as a counterweight to oil extortion. This may seem crass to liberals but our enemies do not share their sensitivities. We cannot continue to defend ourselves without using all our weapons in a world where our enemy only recognizes strength. Imagine a world where Arabs, Putin and Chavez don’t have the political leverage they have now and power that increases with the price of oil.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How did we get in this financial mess?

What is one of the effects of low interest rates? Putting on my rocket scientist hat I came up with the answer; more people borrow money. So why is it a surprise that banks, who make money by lending, issue more loans and lend money more easily and willingly, including to those who will not be able to pay the loan back? Couple that with a Clinton era policy to make housing more affordable to low income people under his diversity program and you have the financial fiasco we have today.

During the Clinton administration, multiculturalism was the slogan of choice. For real diversity and multiculturisn it was considered necessary to enable everyone to be able to buy a house, whether or not they could afford it. To further this idea the administration dictated to whom mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk sub prime loans. Even the densest among us should now be aware of the economic disaster spawned by the sub prime loan fiasco now bringing down one financial institution after another.

How did this happen? In its infinite wisdom congress established two organizations known as “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac”, euphemisms for the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac).

Fannie Mae is a publicly owned government sponsored enterprise (GSE) owned by stockholder and authorized to make loans and loan guarantees. Fannie Mae dominates the U.S. secondary mortgage market which provides liquidity to the primary mortgage market to ensure that mortgage companies, savings and loans, commercial banks, credit unions, and state and local housing finance agencies have enough funds to lend to home buyers.

Freddie Mac, is also a privately-owned and run government sponsored enterprise (GSE) of the United States federal government owned by stock holders and authorized to make loans and loan guarantees.

As of 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee about half of the U.S.'s $12 trillion mortgage market (yes, that’s Trillion with a “T”). As a result, the two corporations were particularly affected by the housing market downturn and credit crunch that began in 2007.

Fannie Mae was created in 1970 but was used by the Carter administration (1977-1981) to encourage minority homeownership and in so doing, he helped create the market for the risky sub prime loans that he and Democrats now label as not only greedy but "predatory." The program was for the purpose of expanding the secondary market for mortgages in the United States.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages on the secondary market, pool them, and sell them as government-backed securities to investors on the open market. This secondary mortgage market increases the supply of money available for mortgage-lending and increases the money available for new home purchases by freeing up money in lending institutions to make still more loans.

With the advent of the “multiculturism” expansion of the Clinton administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the vehicles to place a house in every man’s future just like the “chicken in every pot” thing decades before. Tough new government regulations forced lenders into high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make the loans that sound business practices had previously guarded against making. It was either that or receive stiff government penalties.

It is clear Clinton went overboard by strong-arming lenders with tougher and tougher regulations and this led to lenders taking on hundreds of billions in sub prime mortgages; leading to the present crisis of failed financial institutions which bought these bad loans. It could be also argued that the financial institutions failed their shareholder owners by bowing to the temptation catering to their greed.

This worked fine, if you ignore the corruption rampant in these government-backed “public corporations, as long as the housing market expanded along with higher home prices but the Ponzi scheme came tumbling down when market forces drove down housing prices. Many home buyers lured by the prospect of low interest loans requiring little or no interest or down payments jumped on board in furtherance of the Clinton era mullticurism program with little attention paid to whether or not borrowers would be able to make their mortgage payments; after all lending institutions had little to lose since the big brother of government guaranteed the loans and would make sure lenders did not lose money on the deal, or so they thought.

No one ever said banks and other lending institutions were not greedy. The greedy lending market overleveraged in the secondary market for sub prime loans and relying on the fact they were backed by the government and encouraged by the Clinton administration, these government-backed mortgages were traded on Wall Street.

Unfortunately for the country, the Clinton administration ruined the quasi-governmental agencies that have managed the real estate market through these agencies over the decades by putting political cronies in charge instead of banking professionals.

From the time in 1999 when Clinton crony Franklin Delano Raines took charge at Fannie Mae, for example, he used it as his personal credit card; he took a total of almost $100 million in compensation by the time he left in early 2005 under what newspapers euphemistically called “an ethical cloud.” Raines was accused of overstating earnings and shifting losses so he and other senior executives could earn big bonuses.

It has been reported that Raines had diverted Fannie Mae business to sub prime giant Countrywide Financial, which was saved from bankruptcy by Bank of America, and made contributions to the likes of Jesse Jackson, at the same time the Clinton administration was pushing Fannie and Freddie to buy more mortgages from low-income households. Other Clinton cronies, including Janet Reno aide Jamie Gorelick, also padded their personal coffers for another $75 million.

It was not only these Clinton appointees who benefited from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac largesse, politicians did too, which explains why they looked away. (For an updated chart that includes contributions from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's PACs and employees to ALL lawmakers back to 1989, including to their leadership PACs, go here.)

When this came to light Fannie Mae had to pay a record $400 million civil fine for SEC and other violations, while also agreeing as part of a settlement to make changes in its accounting procedures and ways of managing risk, but the huge damage had already begun and the fine was peanuts compared to the money lost by Fannie Mae mismanagement.

The corruption by Clinton appointees, combined with unprecedented catering to “affordable-housing” lobbyists, resulted in the nationalization of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which is expected to cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars or more.

We will all be paying for Carter and Clinton's social experiment, one that Barack Obama would like to expand even further. Expansion of the social experiment planned by Obama will greatly exceed the Great Society, the New Deal and whatever you want to call the Clinton deal in size, scope and tax payer abuse.

If Obama becomes president, this enormous burden will fall on those working for a living that pay taxes, not just the “rich” and not the 40% of Americans who pay no taxes at all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A last look at the Gibson ambush of Sarah Palin

One way to judge Charlie Gibson’s “interview” with Sarah Palin is to compare how Charlie quizzed Barack Obama and how he used his time with Sarah to try to embarrass her or at least make liberals in his audience understand that McCain’s running mate does not share their leftist’s views.

The only similarity in Gibson's approach to Obama and Palin is that Gibson sat face-to-face with both of them. The questions posed by Gibson to Obama mainly focused on positive biographical elements rather than Obama’s views that would reveal the real candidate. There is no doubt Gibson could have been tougher with Obama who at the time of the interview showed he did not know what he was talking about by suggesting he would meet hostile heads of state, like Iran, without preconditions.

Here's part of the transcript of the November 1, 2007 segment on ABC's World News:

GIBSON: Next, the presidential race and our attempt to explore the private side of the candidates, to learn about the events and the influences that have shaped them and brought them to this point in their political careers. So today in our "Who Is?" series, a Democrat relatively new to national politics, Senator Barack Obama.

“GIBSON: Your mom comes from the Pacific Northwest, migrates to Hawaii, goes to college there, right away, meets a dashing young Kenyan, gets pregnant and the result-

OBAMA: That's me.

GIBSON: That's you. His father got a fellowship to study on the mainland and never came back.

OBAMA: He became sort of a mythic figure. One, one of the great gifts that my mother gave to me was a positive impression of my father despite the fact that he didn't always behave very well towards her or to his family. And so he was gone by the time I was two.

GIBSON: Obama's mother would remarry and take her son to Indonesia for five years. Only once again did he ever see his father, that, when Obama was 10 he didn't care enough to stay.

GIBSON: How did you internalize that?

OBAMA: Every man is either trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes. And, you know, in some ways, I'm probably doing both. My conclusion is that some of my drive comes from wanting to prove that he should have stuck around, that, that I was worthy of his attentions. There's no doubt that his absence had an impact on me. I engaged in a bunch of self-destructive behavior. I drank. I, you know, tried drugs. I didn't take my schoolwork seriously.

GIBSON: It all changed for Obama in his final college years. (to Obama) What flipped?

OBAMA: I like to think that, that at some point, the, the better angels of my nature took control and that I had some sense deep inside me that, you know, I could, I could make a contribution.

GIBSON: For five years out of college, he worked to pay off student loans and was a community organizer in Chicago, which led him back to school, Harvard Law School, and on a summer job ... At first, Obama was intimidated by the Harvard law students.

OBAMA: You got a sense, these folks are running on nuclear energy and I'm running on, on steam.

GIBSON: But he found he could more than hold his own, finishing first in his class and being editor of the 'Harvard Law Review." He's candid: it was at Harvard he first thought of running for President.

GIBSON: So did you think to yourself, 'Barack, what kind of hubris is this that I am thinking about being President?"

OBAMA: I thought these will be the people who will be leading at some point. And, you know, I feel comfortable within this group, being able to lead.

GIBSON: You have written, "I learned to slip back and forth between my black and my white worlds." The simple question I guess is in which world do you really belong?

OBAMA: I think it's both. What's interesting is, is how deeply American I feel, considering this exotic background, that, somehow, all this, this amalgam is part of who I am. And that's part of the reason I love this country so much.”

Gibson clearly was trying to show his viewers that Obama was someone who rose above his weird beginning and deserved serious consideration for high office based on his credentials, not his political views which are not shared by most Americans who make an effort to learn what they are.

Here are some of Gibson’s questions to Sarah; quite a difference.

GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?

GIBSON: John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?

GIBSON: Homosexuality, genetic or learned?

GIBSON: Is it sexist for people to ask how can somebody manage a family of seven and the vice presidency? Is that a sexist question to ask?

GIBSON: When we posted this question on the Internet, we had 15,000 replies within 48 hours and every woman with young children struggles with this question, should I, how can I, will I be able to. And I'm curious to hear you talk just about how you've internalized that.

GIBSON: Governor, John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.

GIBSON: So let me summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans. One, two, three.

GIBSON: So let me break some of those down. You talk about spending. How much smaller would a McCain budget be? Where would you cut?

GIBSON: So you'd take military off the table, the veterans' benefits. That's 20 percent of the budget. … Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

Do you see any “fair and balance” here? Obama gets what are called “softball questions” and Sarah Palin gets quite a different reception from Charlie Gibson.

However probably the issue that most distinguishes the Sarah inquisition from the treatment received by Obama is in the area of taxes.

Here is how Charlie Gibson brought up the subject of taxes and Sarah’s response.

“GIBSON: You mentioned in the three principles that you'll change spending. You also talked about taxes. Why do you both keep saying that Obama is going to raise people's taxes? It's been pretty clear what he intends. He's talked about middle-class tax cuts, extending Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country. Why do you keep saying he's going to raise people's taxes?

PALIN: Well, I would argue with the whole premise of that is his mission is to not increase taxes. He's had 94 opportunities to either vote for a tax cut or not support tax increases. And 94 times, he's been on the other side of what I believe the majority of Americans want.”

The characterization of the so-called tax cuts proposed by Obama has been described by Brit Hume as an “Obama Dishonesty”.

On the subject of "dishonesty" in McCain's TV ads on Fox News Sunday Brit Hume pointed out “Barack Obama goes around claiming he's going to cut the taxes of 95 percent of the public, which is literally impossible since 40 percent of American taxpayers don't pay any income tax. [Nonetheless] ABC (directly) and CBS (implicitly) have advanced the false premise that 95% of Americans would receive Obama tax cuts as fact. Charlie Gibson in his third interview session with Sarah Palin stated that Obama will extend the ‘Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or earn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country.’”

Brit Hume said “Those who don't pay any income tax will get from Obama's plan a subsidy. It's hardly a tax cut, it's in fact spending."

Of course Hume is correct but truth telling is not on the liberal media agenda; getting Obama elected is their goal

Democrats seek new voter base

A community organizer (where have we heard that term?), Monica Bell, in Orlando, Florida is signing up new voters but her quarry are not your usual prospective voters. Ms. Bell is looking for former convicts to add to the state’s voter list.

Bell has good news for former convicts; Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a bill passed by the Florida legislature restoring voting rights to former convicts, estimated at about 112,000.

Supporters of this “add Democrat voters” law refer to prohibitions against voting rights for ex convicts as “Felony disenfranchisement” and lump it together with those horrid “Jim Crow” laws which they say were designed to discourage minority voting. Indeed some laws so described were onerous, such as poll taxes which poor people could not afford to pay for the right to vote. However other laws such as literacy requirements were also labeled discriminatory but it’s hard to see why it is unreasonable to require basic English reading skills as a prerequisite to selecting prospective office holders such as the president and vice president of the country.

Voter advocacy groups now view the class of ex convicts as fruitful opportunities to enlist new voters; of course it is unlikely they would vote Republican. Successful lobbying for loosened state voter registration laws have given community organizers like Monica Bell in Florida encouragement to track down former felons usually found in indigent neighborhoods.

Reggie Mitchell, a former community organizer for People for the American Way said “you’re talking about incredible numbers of people out there who now may have had their right to vote restored and don’t even know it”, adding, “In Florida we’re talking tens of thousands of people and in the 2000 election, in the state of Florida, 300 people made the difference.” What Reggie means is that 300 voting ex felons could have changed the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and we may have had Al Gore in the White House during the September 11th take down of the Twin Towers and the other two planes commandeered by terrorists. Who knows what America’s response would have been to this phase of the War on America by Islamic murderers under Al, Greenleaf, Gore?

Efforts to add convicted felons released from jail to Democrat roles are led by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, otherwise known as “ACORN”, the group Barack Obama assisted in Chicago, The Sentencing Project and, of course, the American civil Rights Union, known affectionately as ACLU; stalwart liberal organizations all. These organizations gave briefings to Barak Obama but his campaign chooses not to acknowledge this concerted effort to assist his election; I wonder why? Instead, one of Obama’s campaign’s spokesmen, Bill Burton, said innocuously “We are trying to register voters across the country and follow state laws wherever we are.”

In keeping with the suicidal tendency of the Republican Party, felon voter restoration efforts receive bipartisan support in many states. For example; Alabama, Florida, Indiana and Maryland have seen so-called “bipartisan” efforts notwithstanding that a University of Minnesota criminologist, Christopher Uggen, conducted surveys showing about 70% of ex convicts will vote for Democrats (and I personally think the number is much higher). Uggen says “That’s because of the high rate of incarceration among blacks, who have strong Democrat preferences.”

Presently it appears that only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote (imagine that) and also parolees and probationers. According to the New York Times, “Thirteen states allow probationers and parolees to vote, eight states reinstate probationer voting rights, and twenty states restore voting rights to people who have completed their sentences.”

ACLU lawyer, Muslima Lewis, said “Really, you’re not having a full participatory democracy if you disenfranchise so many people. It weakens the whole system and, in particular, communities of color”, presumably because they make up the majority of convicted felons.

If Democrat community organizers are successful, your friendly mugger, drug seller or home invader may make the difference whether Obama/Biden or McCain/Palin win the next election.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sarah Palin wins the tug of war with Charlie Gibson

ABC’s Charlie Gibson has displayed a side of him as an “interviewer” that has not been seen when Democrats are in his line of vision. His “interview” with Governor Sarah Palin was out of the inquisition playbook which is ironic since Charlie by his questions seems not to hold religion in very high regard.

Charlie went after Sarah as if he were an Obama campaign hack on all issues. From the start of his famously reported meeting with Sarah so “the people would get to know her” a video report damned Sarah with faint praise by noting her popularity in Alaska (80%) but somehow only focusing on a few Alaskans who “still have their minds open about their voting choice”, and naturally not sympathetic to Sarah.

Bulldog Charlie then proceeded to hammer Sarah on controversial issues designed to separate Sarah from many of her admirers. One subject in particular was energy independence where Sarah is perhaps the best versed of all four candidates running for national office. Charlie tried to diminish the value of Sarah’s expertise in this area but the fact remains Sarah was absolutely right in declaring energy independence is a key issue for America and our nation’s security is wrapped up with our ability to discontinue reliance on foreign oil.

As MarketWatch said “A Republican politician from oil-rich Alaska was never going to have an easy time convincing environmental groups she was "green" no matter how much time she spent hugging trees while hunting.” Very soon after Republican presidential nominee John McCain introduced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, environmental groups began calling the governor a friend of "big oil" who puts drilling "above the environment" and expanded exploration above protection of endangered species. However one might ask “What do voters expect a governor from an energy producing state with lots of oil to do when our country’s energy development is already being hampered by extreme environmentalists?”

Governor Palin has responsibly advanced projects to extract oil the rest of the country desperately needs. Sarah supports drilling in areas of Alaska that environmental groups vehemently oppose and she supports tapping the state's natural gas reserves and shipping the cleaner burning fuel to the lower forty eight states.

Sarah has even challenged the Bush administration’s listing of the polar bear as an endangered species knowing full well that restricting usage of polar bear habitats would curb oil and gas drilling, even though her hometown isn't far from the site of the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill that impacted fisherman like her husband. This past August, Palin sued the Department of the Interior for listing the polar bear on the endangered species. Palin argued that listing it as endangered would unnecessarily curb oil and gas drilling in certain areas where there are polar bear populations.

On behalf of Alaska, the governor claimed the department didn't use the best science models when predicting how the climate would warm in coming years and the impact it would have on the polar bears' sea ice habitat. Despite evidence that the polar bear populations were actually increasing, not decreasing, in the end the administration decided the bears' habitat will continue to shrink as a result of global warming, therefore posing a threat to the species.

Notwithstanding her efforts to get support for developing Alaska’s oil resources, Sarah has also investigated a member of her own party for inappropriate ties to the oil industry and has signed legislation giving tax rebates to residents who improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

But perhaps Sarah’s greatest environmental sin is her comments during a recent magazine interview saying she does not believe climate change is being caused by man-made activities despite phony scientific research purporting to show burning of fossil fuels is a leading contributor.

Alaska's oil and gas industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions so curbing emissions would drastically affect the ability to supply needed energy resources to other states. The North Slope of Alaska covers an area of 89,000 square miles, larger than Minnesota, and includes the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This oil producing region on the North Slope accounts for about 15% of the nation's oil production. Alaska's Prudhoe Bay contains the largest oil field in the nation and produces 400,000 barrels a day; roughly 8% of total U.S. daily crude oil production, according to the Energy Department. The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline ships up to 2.1 million barrels of crude oil each day, which is more than any other pipeline in the United States, and crosses multiple mountain ranges and hundreds of rivers and streams. Considering that Alaska is the second largest producer of crude oil in the nation (behind Texas), every Alaskan governor has had a relationship with the oil and gas industry.

Even though oil is the major focus, natural gas is where Sarah Palin has made her greatest contribution to our country. The Alaska North Slope also contains two of the largest natural gas fields in the country which can be a vital resource for homes that heat with the fuel during the winter. The U.S. consumes about 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year, according to the Energy Department.

Those criticizing Sarah as a foe of the environment and a friend of big oil point to her successful efforts to advance the development of a proposed 1,700-mile natural gas pipeline that would ship 4.5 billion cubic feet of fuel per day out of Prudhoe Bay. Environmentalists ignore and are out of touch with the daily needs of Americans for energy.

However Sarah Palin’s detractors seem most obsessed with the issue of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to caribou, moose, muskoxen, grizzly bears, foxes, wolves, seals, polar bears, walrus, beluga whales, bowhead whales, ducks, geese, swans, and shorebird populations. Palin supports efforts to drill in a portion of the Refuge the size of a proverbial pin head in the enormous refuge. In this her position puts her in contrast with McCain who has opposed efforts to open up the reserve to oil and gas companies.

Charlie Gibson and other opponents of the McCain-Palin ticket want voters to reject Sarah Palin because environmentalists do but in the end there aren't many Americans who want Alaska to stop its oil production or stop shipping natural gas to the rest of the country.