Tuesday, September 30, 2008
If U.S. financial markets and banking are so fragile as to be toppled by Congressional Fannie Freddie Affirmative Action FUBAR: do we want those markets and that banking system to continue standing? Do we want to prop up a banking system which depends on the sanity of Congress?
Isn't it better - if that banking system cannot stand in the face of Congressional FUBAR - to let those markets and that banking system fail? Isn't it better to allow something fresher and more resilient to arise from the ashes?
I am too ignorant to take a stand on this, yet I smell a rat. A month before an election, I am massively suspicious of everyone's motivation. For every hour which passes with markets still standing, still functioning, and without any meltdown beginning: my suspicion only increases.
If the entire global economy is so vulnerable that only the stalwart action of Barney Frank stands between it and ten years of soup kitchens, can it, in fact, be saved?Look at that: Rush Limbaugh is on the same page...
was the five per cent fall in Asian markets and seven per cent "plummet" on the Dow in reaction to the House vote really the catastrophe some of my pals round here seem to think it was? If fear of seven per cent falls is enough to justify massive unprecedented government intrusion into the private sector, we might as well cut to the chase and go for the big Soviet command economy.
"When the government fails to pass a socialism bill and the market goes south, let it go south."I may be ignorant, but I'm not lonesome.
"For every person you hear saying this bailout is going to strengthen the market, it's the exact opposite. The market's not being allowed to work here because the losers haven't been flushed out."
"Understand what's going on, here: liberalism is liberalism, and the liberals are in the process of stealing the country. If they succeed in this, folks, it's going to take a generation to roll this back."
A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS:The Anchoress is a former full time media member:
"Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working."
I have a couple friends who work in the MSM, too, and one of them tells me the newsroom is (exact words) “unbelievably cavalier” about any complaints viewers register about their reports, what they ignore, their bias or the way they edit Republicans vs. the way the treat Dems. “Cavalier” as in the fix is in and they don’t even have to pretend to care what half the country thinks or wants.Newsweek editor Evan Thomas famously said media support would add 15 points to John Kerry's vote total. I wonder if Evan Thomas might've guessed low? If the truth were widely known about Barack's ties to Rezko, ACORN, and William Ayers; and about Barack's $49M education failure with Chicago Annenberg Challenge: would Barack still have a chance to win this race?
I don't know the answer. I am too ignorant to stand for a particular solution, but I am suspicious.
I do know Congress is not acting as if we are in a crisis. House Dems still tried to insert pet projects into the bailout - for example: $200M for the villainous radicals at ACORN.
Of 233 Dems in the House of Representatives: 95 Dems voted against the bailout; 138 Dems voted for it. That's not the behavior of Congresspersons who believe we are in a crisis. House Dems don't even need the Repubs to pass this bill. They could pass it on their own if they wanted to. If Congressional leaders believe we are in crisis, they should act like it.
Powerline recounts the politics played.
Karl Rove was furious with Pelosi.
Monday, September 29, 2008
In the wake of the Katie Couric interview, even conservatives who love Gov. Palin are wringing hands over whether or not she is fit to be President. Some are advising, in all good conscience, that Gov. Palin should immediately resign from the ticket.
Readiness for office comes down to principles and judgment. It's nice that Sen. McCain knows a lot about Russia - yet, when issues with Russia arise, Sen. McCain will still listen to advice and then decide. Gov. Palin's political principles are conservative. Her life principles are well grounded in her upbringing, her life experience, and her religion. I trust her judgment. I trust her ability to make tough decisions.
I remember Gov. George W. Bush giving some horrific interview answers during the 2000 campaign. I remember watching, with white knuckles, as Bush fielded questions. I feared the gaffes which might ensue. Going into the first debate with V.P. Gore, Gov. Bush was widely panned as a moron who would be embarrassed when onstage with Gore.
I invite conservatives to have some faith in Gov. Palin's innate political talent. I expect her to do well in Thursday's debate. Everything in her resume (except the Katie Couric interview!) says she is a fast learner who has a good political ear and adapts to changing conditions.
How DID Governors Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush ever justify themselves to national voters? Byron York has the simple answer: talk about your experiences as Governor.
Governor Palin has been badly advised by the timid former Bushies who make up her campaign staff. When challenged about her readiness, she should be saying, with a big smile:
Of COURSE I don't know everything. Neither does Barack! He thinks we have 57 states!
I joke. But, seriously, I have a record of accomplishment to point to, Senator Obama has rhetoric.
I filed ethics complaints against Alaska Republicans, and people went to jail. The only people who go to jail around Barack are his friends - like Tony Rezko, who helped Barack buy his house.
I got Alaskans a better deal for natural gas rights. Barack squandered $49M when he chaired the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge for education.
I completed a deal for a natural gas pipeline. That deal had been stalled for decades before I came into office. Barack was head of the Senate Committee on Afghanistan and never chaired a meeting.
Because he doesn't have actual accomplishment to point to, Sen. Obama uses rhetoric in a somewhat desperate effort to build credibility. Thus we saw, during his European coronation tour, Sen. Obama falsely claim to be on the Senate Banking Committee.
Senator Obama's words are empty. Voters can either take Sen. Obama's empty words at face value, or they can contrast his lack of professional accomplishment with my actual accomplishment - or, more importantly, with John McCain's accomplishment.
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)* resulted in blackmailing banks into making subprime loans via creating a government entity which
- oversaw and graded banks' compliance in making subprime loans, and
- blackmailed banks into complying via tactics such as
- threatening to damage banks' public reputations via charges of racist lending
- impeding banks' abilities to expand and to merge with or purchase other banks.
The Community Reinvestment Act isn't the sole source of the current financial crisis. It took the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to supersize the hazards created by the CRA.You know, if you've been alive the past two decades, or if you watch this video, Dems actively held a "racism" hammer above the heads of fearful Repubs. Who could oppose government forcibly expanding mortgages in "underserved" communities??? Repubs were not up to the task.
In 2004 Fannie Mae's federal regulator issued a critical preliminary report on Fannie Mae's accounting policies, financial controls and financial reporting process. I believe it was this report (covered in this Washington Post story) that is in part the subject of the instructive House committee hearing highlights video featuring Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks (he's "p***** off" by criticism of Fannie Mae and Franklin Raines), Maxine Waters ("we do not have a crisis at Fannie Mae"), Lacy Clay ("I get the feeling that the markets are not worried about the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac") and Barney Frank ("It serves us badly to raise safety and soundness as a kind of general shibboleth when it doesn't seem to be an issue").
If Repubs could have seen into the future: I hope they would've had the guts to throw themselves into the breach back then - to save the nation from financial mess - even at cost of their political careers. Repubs are taking the political hit now. The party may as well have taken the political hit then - when something might still have been done to prevent this mess.
As for Dems: they are termites eating away at the greatness of our nation.
Our nation inhabits a moment - several decades after the Civil Rights Act and the repeal of Jim Crow - when our citizenry act like damn fools about race. Fannie Freddie Affirmative Action FUBAR is clear evidence of our foolishness. We are reaping what we have sown.
We also stand athwart a moment - two decades after Reagan - of passive acceptance of socialist governance. Fannie Freddie Affirmative Action FUBAR is clear evidence of this. We will have hell walking our culture of freedom back into the light.
As citizens, we must find our grace and courage. Along with our other daily activities, we must stand, in force, against the tides of political correctness and socialism which threaten us. We have been silent in public. I have been silent in public. Our silence has brought our culture of freedom to this juncture of foolishness.
I am not recommending rashness. I am not recommending career suicides. I am recommending grace. I am saying: "Stand up for truth." There are graceful ways to stand against the political correctness and socialism which threaten us. "Stand, men of the West!"
*NYT noted, in 1999, CRA was "a solution in search of a problem." Ed Morrissey:
While lending to minority applicants still lagged behind that of white applicants, the economic boom of the 1990s had closed that gap. In the previous five years, mortgages awards to Hispanics jumped 87%, to African-Americans by 71%, and Asians 46%. Mortgages to white applicants also increased by 31%, which proved that a rising tide indeed lifted all boats, without government intervention to impose “fairness”.Affirmative Action FUBAR. Dems trolling for votes. Dems publicly supporting Fannie and Freddie in further effort to troll for votes. Repubs would not oppose - at least not in large enough numbers to be effective - because opposing would cost votes. This is the truth of what happened. Truly professional media would report the truth.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The Obama campaign's response to uncongenial allegations is not to rebut them but to use its muscle to squash the authors.The Obamas do not rebut because, in most cases, factual rebuttal is not possible.
When Stanley Kurtz went on radio to detail Barack connections to William Ayers and Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama Campaign was invited onto the show to rebut. When Barack faces unrebuttable facts, he sends goons. The Obama Campaign refused the invitation to go on the show, and instead directed goon callers to disrupt the show.
When David Freddoso went on radio to detail Barack's record as an old school, by-the-numbers liberal politician: Obama Campaign again directed goon callers to disrupt the show. The goons were only foiled b/c Freddoso' interview was pretaped.
the only candidate using agencies of the state to suppress views with which he disagrees remains Barack Obama. In Missouri, the Senator has managed to enlist various county officials to threaten TV stations running "untrue" anti-Obama ads.Gateway Pundit has details. Missouri's Governor Matt Blunt has issued a loud and blunt(!) statement condemning the Obama Campaign's tactics. Stanley Kurtz weighs in:
At the counterterrorism blog, Jeffrey Breinholt explains how even American libel laws can be used to intimidate and silence speech. As I point out in "Not Without a Fight," what really protects free speech here in the United States is the value we place upon it, and the shame we would feel handling criticism by way of law suits. When it comes to silencing critics, on the other hand, the Obama campaign appears to have no shame. That augers poorly for the culture of free exchange. As Tocqueville reminds us, habits of the heart, even more than the law itself, stand as our most important protections against tyranny. If Obama continues to break one free-speech taboo after another, the law will surely follow.The blog Macsmind, which has spent time on my blogroll, has been hacked and shut down after 2 million visitors watched video of Obama opposing various military technologies - including opposing missile defense which he claimed to support in Friday's debate. I once embedded that video on this blog, but YouTube has since pulled it. Macsmind had a non-YouTube version, and got hacked into temporary oblivion. Gateway Pundit, again, has details and the video.
So continued media silence on Obama’s intimidation tactics threatens not only the fairness of this election, but press freedom itself.
Ace of Spades: this is war; child Obama was Muslim; sue me, bitches!
Truth Squad this.I'll stand up for free speech - and frankly: also for truth. I think it's irrelevant that Barack touched Islam as a child - which is why I've never blogged about it. However, it's also truth which Barack has refused to acknowledge (and has refused to explicitly deny - instead issuing a pooh-pooh, nuanced, non denial denial), instead sending surrogates out to deride and dismiss anyone who mentions what is, in fact, the truth. That's a key point, and I should've blogged about it earlier: Barack is demeaning Americans for speaking truth. via Ace:
If prosecutors are going to threaten those who "lie" about Obama, I guess we'll just have to start preparing the truth-is-a-defense-to-libel ground.
A lot of people thought that even though the Danish cartoons may have been excessively provocative, the fact that the cartoons were met with a threat of violence demanded they be displayed. If only to send the message that threats would not shut down free speech.
I hope many of the same people react similarly here.
AP CAPTION: 20 months ago: This registration document, made available on Jan. 24, 2007, by the Fransiskus Assisi school in Jakarta, Indonesia, shows the registration of Barack Obama under the name Barry Soetoro into the Catholic school made by his step-father, Lolo Soetoro. The document lists Barry Soetoro as a Indonesian citizen, born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, and shows his Muslim step-father listed the boy's religion as Islam.(AP Photo/ Tatan Syuflana)
Saturday, September 27, 2008
When professionals pretend to be regular Joes and Janes doing grass roots efforts.
Today, this blog received what I suspect is an astroturf comment in this post: Getting myself educated about Fannie and Freddie. I don't know that it is astroturf. I am guessing. I could be wrong. Let's parse and study why I suspect the comment was written by an operative:
Anonymous said...First red flag. Like a one way airline ticket, "Anonymous" fits a profile.
I think the people on the right are in denial. The congress and the senate were controlled by the republican party from 1994 to 2006 and Bush has been in office for the past, almost 8 years but everything they screw up is all Clinton's fault.I'm sorta with Anonymous. Repubs drive me crazy. The party gained power and then squandered it at a pork buffet. Republicans were immoral. They deserved to lose their power in Congress.
And to think they promised to return responsibility and ethics to government and yet this has been the most secretive government since Ulysses Grant."[T]he most secretive government" is a talking point.
Amid the Constitutionally designed struggle for power among the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches (it's a feature of our government system, not a bug), the Bushies have tried to protect the power of the Executive. Congress/left/media have used "secretive" as a talking point to bash the Bushies for failing to kowtow to the Legislative via ceding various Executive powers. The Clinton Administration ceded some Executive Branch power. GWB has reclaimed and protected some legitimate Executive Branch powers. The U.S. Government is not a Parliament.
Of course Bush wanted to "overhaul" [Fannie and Freddie] but do a little more checking and you'll find that imposing regulations wasn't what he had in mind at all.Now I'm suspicious this commenter is an operative. "Do a little more checking"? A serious commenter would leave a link to justify their accusation. "[I]mposing regulations wasn't what [GWB] had in mind at all". The commenter is a mind reader now? If there were evidence GWB was covering for a nefarious plan, the commenter would gleefully link to it, and I would want to read about it. I call horse manure.
He wanted to give Wall Street and his uber-rich even more power (taking that power away from congress and we the people).Horse. Manure. There's no evidence for the Wall St./uber rich pap. Fantasy.
"[T]aking that power away from Congress". The Executive Branch cannot "take" power. That's more fantasy. The Legislative can keep their Constitutional power or cede it. If they cede it, the Executive can accept the gift. There is no "take".
I was a republican for 26 yrs but I started waking up and smelling the coffee around 2003 and I changed parties in 2004 (if you'd told me 10 years ago that I'd ever been a democrat I'd have told you "never").Big red flag. Maybe half or more Repubs used to be Dems, but almost no adult goes the other way. The few who do: Arianna Huffington, David Corn, never really believed in maximizing opportunity. They were always susceptible to the siren song of equality of outcome.
In the blogosphere, virtually the only persons who say "I used to be a Republican" are Dem operatives pretending to be regular Joes and Janes, and fishing for converts and/or Barack votes. Regular Joes and Janes don't claim such things, as virtually no one stops being conservative and goes left. Once a person has pieced together the mental calculations and reasoning to become conservative, they stay conservative.
At this point, I'm thinking it's a strong bet Anonymous is an operative. And look what comes next: talking points and fantasy.
Stop listening to a.m. radio and Faux and biased news (Fox). And don't let your preacher tell you how to vote. The wall st folks are in cahoots with the religious right and it is through the efforts of the religious reich that they've been able to fool ordinary people into voting against their own economic interests. Tell the people that "God's people" only vote republican and you are able to trick them and steal their money.I've left a link in the other comments, on the off chance Anonymous is a Regular Joe or Jane. The way to display legitimacy is to come into these comments and link to your blog, or to some type of comments or Photostream or MySpace or Twitter which will show legitimacy. The way to fail to show legitimacy is to come into these comments and change the subject away from the myriad accusations you have already arrayed like widely dispersed Whack-A-Moles. If this is truly conversation, let's not make it Whack-A-Mole Times Infinity. If you wish to converse about the subjects you have already raised, I would love to hear from you.
Anonymous might not be a paid operative. He left a second comment at the original post. Such is not typical astroturfing behavior. Anonymous may be a Joe or Jane citizen! Yet: his second comment was filled with new talking point accusations. We'll see if anything else happens.
Victor Hanson: What Really is Wisdom?
I have seen no difference in intelligence levels between those who inhabit the world of the physical and those who cultivate the life of the mind. That is, the most brilliant Greek philologists seemed no more impressive in their aptitude than the fellow who could take apart the transmission of an old Italian Oliver tractor, fix it, and put it back together–without a manual.
Jeff Goldstein: Alinsky Oil
Alinsky, Gramsci, and others saw that this type of march through the institutions — a slow intellectual undercutting of classical liberalism through the very institutions built to safeguard it — was the best way to turn the founding principles of individualism, equality of opportunity, and self-sufficiency (protected by a Constitution, the rule of law, and federalist principles) into voter bloc politics, equality of outcome, and reliance on the increasingly centralized Federal nannystate.
In short, it was the way to set the stage for socialism.
And what Nordlinger is bemoaning here — and what I myself have long bemoaned — is that the march through these institutions by progressivism, given cover by the media, has set the stage for the election of a President who has managed successfully to frame his leftism in the easy, empty bromides of populism and promise, and to do so with very little in the way of vetting of his background....
In Obama’s case, it is the political and philosophical desire to have the US join the world community as an equal — and to do so, given our current position as a hyperpower, means, necessarily, that we as a country need to be taken down a few notches, to abase ourselves (as Carter would’ve had us do), or to surrender military and strategic advantages, while keeping us dependent on foreign energy and entangled in transnationalist endeavors, so that the rest of the world doesn’t look upon us as a “bully,” but as an “equal.”
Equality of outcome over equality of opportunity. This is the essence of socialist thinking. And we have been softened up enough that we may just yet be ready to adopt such a paradigm of governance.
When I watched this all the way through, absently listening to the Pakistani announcer, the only words I understood were "Sarah Palin" and "New York City". Then, I thought I understood "hockey". It's obvious Pakistani TV was telling the "lipstick on a pit bull" joke.
(Joke. Pakistani lipstick on a pit bull was a joke.)
"Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.""Reality." The word hangs in the air: a lingering condemnation of Barack.
The Kissinger squabble:
Barack could've eliminated this embarrassment if he had simply admitted error the day after the Dem debate. Instead, Barack doubled down and fashioned an entire foreign policy point around a debate gaffe. That's a worrisome personality at work, and it left him open to be embarrassed by McCain.
Barack says he will have "preparations" but not preconditions. Everyone knows this is tripe, but media let him get away with it. Barack originally promised to meet with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, and Kim Jung Il during his first year in office. That's not a lot of time for "preparations."
Related - The End Zone: Defeating an enemy vs ... um ... not.
Friday, September 26, 2008
It's cliche. Will the public to buy into it?
I buy into it!
Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Charade (the left's fave title)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Bogart and Hepburn, Sabrina
Hepburn and Gregory Peck, Roman Holiday
Thursday, September 25, 2008
When I first skimmed Felix Jones highlights, he looked like a man playing inferior competition. I liked him, but did not have a solid instinct for what type pro he would be. Now I've watched this highlight reel, in which Felix runs through the entire SEC plus both USCs. The best runs come between the 5:40 and 7:00 marks.
Felix has some shimmy; Felix has some speed. Felix has balance which allows him to make cuts even at full speed. What Felix mostly has is vision. He sees where to go, then goes there. Seeing where to go seems simple. It probably is simple to Felix, yet it's kind of rare amongst RBs. Watching, it looks simple - especially because Felix runs smoothly, without flail or bounce, like a duck gliding across a tranquil pond. He runs as if he is smoothing through reps against thin air. It's only when you've really watched him awhile - going just the right place, and just the right place - that you suddenly realize his vision is his true genius.
Okay, I made up the $75,000 part, but that is my guess about the amount National Enquirer paid for his testimony. This is how National Enquirer finds witnesses - truth: they walk into local bars and start handing out money to people who know people, until they get to the key person they need, then they strike a bigger money deal with that person. That's the truth, and the following is also truth:
Palin's alleged lover's estranged wife's brother's wife's sister's brother is the ex-con. Got that? No? Me neither. Let's write it this way:
Palin's alleged lover's
brother is the ex-con who testifies that he heard about the allegation.
Got it now? Good. The rumor might be all over America in a few days or weeks. Now you are on the inside.
Thing is, even if Palin had had an affair in 1996, voters would not care. Palin's ensuing 12 years of successful marriage would've exonerated her in voters' eyes.
It would be delicious to watch Dems - who gave Bill Clinton a 1997 pass on committing perjury and obstruction of justice in efforts to cover up an affair - now make a case that a Palin affair in 1996 is relevant in 2008. For the delightfulness of that scene, I almost wish the Palin lie were true. Might James Carville then comment on Palin? Sweet buttermilk battered skillet-fried chicken! A man can dream.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Also, call me naive, but if this is not an all hands on deck moment in the U.S. Senate, what is?
Back to politics: I think Barack, by saying to the Senate: "Call me if you need me", is announcing his own irrelevance. I don't see how this helps Barack win votes.
Whither "Baghdad Harry"?
Actual Baghdad Bob quotes:
"Our initial assessment is that they will all die""IN ONE HOUR!" particularly cracks me up. It reminds of childhood boasts which we all remember, and which go something like this: I will show all of you the alligator in my bathtub, IN ONE HOUR!
"Faltering forces of infidels cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege to them! They are the ones who will find themselves under siege."
"NO", snapped Mr al-Sahaf, "We have retaken the airport. There are NO Americans there. I will take you there and show you. IN ONE HOUR!"
"There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!"
Yet another milestone on political reconciliation has been met in Iraq. Earlier today, the National Assembly unanimously passed a law establishing provincial elections, one of the key indicators demanded by the US Congress to show progress in uniting Iraq under a democratic form of government.
That will finally allow local government to take some of the burden of management off of Baghdad and give tribes and communities a greater influence on day-to-day decisions, including rebuilding efforts.
One year after Hillary Clinton called General David Petraeus a liar for reporting that the surge had shown progress, the Iraqis have essentially met all of the benchmarks that Congress imposed as signs of political progress.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
So we have huge nasty economic perturbations AND gas lines; why doesn't it feel like the 70s? Better graphics, I think. The society's look-and-feel is set on perma-shiny, and even if we do see apple vendors on every corner, they will have signs they made at Kinkos. And the apples will be organic." h/tRed State Update:
So you think Sarah Palin is qualified to go up against a resurgent Russia?
Why hell yes she is. Didn't you see ol Vlad Putin up there in Russia shootin a tiger? Who the hell else is qualified to go up against him if he wants to have a hunt-off?
Monday, September 22, 2008
Which means: welcome to my blogroll! I ought to have blogrolled Webutante earlier, actually, since I've been reading her blog a lot. I've positioned Webutante amongst a lineup of blogs written by women: Malkin, Anchoress, neo-neocon, Webutante, Rachel Lukas' Blog of Dogs Eating Treats. It's the '27 Yankees lineup of estrogen blogs. Webutante is in the Lou Gehrig spot: hitting cleanup.
I'm a right leaning square, no cube, living in the SE US and Rockies, and mother of two tax paying adults. With a degree in civil and environmental engineering, I've worked as a journalist, fundraiser, and a professional fly fishing guide, among other things. I've never met a hiking trail, trout stream, leafy green vegetable, articulate, conservative, string of pearls or a Gospel I didn't like and want to spend more time with. After growing up in a conservative, Christian family, I was seduced by many "isms" of the 60s, and later realized I was on a dead-end street . By the Grace of God and the mercy of His Son, I am making a U-turn away from anything goes relativism, back to rock solid principles and my sanity. It's a long journey and I'm a sinner. May this blog give Him glory.From Webutante's most recent post:
Wildman Jim Cramer has written absolutely the best piece I've seen to date on the Wall Street meltdown---how we got there, what happened last week and where we're headed. It takes a bit of time and concentration, but well worth the effort. We owe it to ourselves and children to try to understand as best we can causes of this mess so we can avoid it in the future, at least in the financial sector.
Regular Joes and Janes starting an effort to support or oppose.
When professionals pretend to be regular Joes and Janes doing grass roots efforts, i.e. black ops using email, blogs, You Tube, or other means.
Astroturfing violates Campaign Finance law?
Does Astroturfing - if traced back to a political campaign - represents undeclared and hidden campaign activity which therefore violates Campaign Finance Law? What if allegedly amateur You Tube videos were shot and edited with professional equipment, professional direction, professional actors and voices? What if a blogosphere astroturf effort was conducted by either paid staff or hired surrogates?
Astroturf violates FTC guidelines?
Via publicizing smears which originate from political campaigns yet do not receive scrutiny for their truthfulness? Already the Obama Campaign has complained to a network about a McCain commercial, and the network resultingly did not air the commercial. However, no one scrutinizes the truthfulness of You Tube videos from average Joes and Janes.
Astroturfing crosses an ethical line which offends voters?
If the McCain campaign were doing widespread astroturfing, would NYT, WaPo, and every other media outlet be interested in the story? Would voters be offended?
I have noticed - for many weeks - Obama campaign surrogates in comment sections all over the blogosphere. They are deceptive. They claim to be, for instance, Conservative Christians who are "troubled" over some or other aspect of McCain or Palin. They even showed up, I suspect, in this lonesome The End Zone blog - in the comments of this blogpost. I'm kinda proud to have received over 15,000 blog visitors since April 2007. Nevertheless, The End Zone is a blogosphere gnat. If the Obama campaign showed up in The End Zone's comments, it suggests the Obama Campaigns' blogosphere operation is large.
The Jawa Report
is a highly regarded right blog which was formed to bring together hacker skills to identify and discover the bloggers behind Al Qaeda-supporting blogs. The Jawa Report (esp. Rusty Shackleford) turned their skills to suspected political astroturf. They found direct lines to a Dem-linked PR Firm which astroturf-promoted a series of You Tube smear videos about Sarah Palin. They found evidence the PR Firm was paid for their work.
Before The Jawa Report published their information, they joined with Ace of Spades to do "spiderwebbing". To wit: Ace of Spades, over a couple of days, began dropping hints of a coming revelation about the Obama Campaign. It wasn't going to be as big as Rathergate, but it was going to be big. Early last night, Ace said the revelation was going to be completed and posted at midnight. And so it was.
The big revelation was The Jawa Report's research about the PR Firm astroturfing. That happened at midnight. Within 90 minutes, the PR Firm videos were removed from YouTube. Other related info was deleted from websites; an Obama Wikipedia page was edited of references to astroturf. Of course, The Jawa Report hackers made screen shots of everything before publishing their report, therefore the information still exists.
But, the point which The Jawa Report emphasized via their spiderwebbing: no PR Firm is monitoring the Ace of Spades blog or The Jawa Report at midnight on a Sunday night. The spiderweb was a trap, and the Obama Campaign got caught up in it. Only a large operation - such as everyone believes the Obama Campaign has up and running - would've been monitoring Ace of Spades blog at midnight on a Sunday night. Only an operation with something to hide would've then made calls to the PR Firm. People were likely awakened approx. 12:30 AM. Fast phone discussions were likely conducted. Information began being deleted (by multiple operatives - remember Wikipedia and other deleted web material). Information deletion was completed by 1:30 AM - a textbook, and telling, timetable of responsive action.
Day by Day had their cartoon up somtime during the morning. Things happen fast. Maybe Ace or Jawa tipped the Day by Day cartoonist in advance.
The Cover Up Begins
In the criminal law business, we call evidence like that “consciousness of guilt.”
The Jawa Report:
Hope, Change, & Lies: Orchestrated "Grassroots" Smear Campaigns & the People that Run Them [Updated]
Ace of Spades:
Anti-Palin Astroturfing Traced Directly to Obama-Connected PR Firm
UPDATE: LIKE CLOCKWORK, VIDEOS TAKEN DOWN!!!
Bloggers sniff out anti-Palin astroturf campaign– and the cover up begins
Click link, then click "View Product Image".
He's got creases in his helmet, neck, undershirt, inked arms, wrist tape, batting gloves, jersey midsection, pants thighs, backs of pant knees, pants ankles, cleats. Josh Hamilton has creases.
It's a good metaphor for him. He's been knocked around. He's not perfect. He is resilient.
UCLA home uniforms are classic. I've forever been entranced by the blue. The gold is also an outstanding shade. The first time I went to California: I looked at the sky: "UCLA blue!"; I looked at the hills: "UCLA gold!"; I was the happiest goofball tourist in California.
Arizona's road uniforms: not so classic.
Another entrancing, iconic shade of home uniform jersey; another less than iconic road uniform.
When a Ryder Cup heats up on Sunday, it becomes the most dramatic event in golf.
American golfers of Phil Mickelson's generation are chokers. The generation coming behind Mickleson's generation are not chokers. Hunter Mahan(of McKinney [Texas] High) and Anthony Kim are not chokers. American golf needs less Micklesons, and more Texans and Koreans.
Anthony Kim's destruction of Sergio Garcia was as electric as I remember any round of golf ever being. Kim won 5 and 4 on Ryder Cup Sunday. Electric.
Boo Weekley is inches from becoming an American legend. If he gets a couple of wins in Majors, he will be there. Or, if he wins one U.S. Open, he will be there. He might get there anyway. Boo is a guy you naturally desire to root for.
Green Bay DB Mick Collins intercepted a Romo pass (at the :50 mark) and made a return to midfield which likely covered 75 yards in toto. He was tackled after hustling efforts by Cowboy WRs Patrick Crayton and Terrell Owens, both of whom ran their pass patterns and then chased down the DB after running perhaps 90 to 110 total yards on the play. As I watched, I realized Crayton, Owens, and Miles Austin were really the only Cowboys on the field with the speed to make the tackle. With a little luck, Marion Barber or Jason Witten might've made the tackle - but both needed luck, as neither could run with the a seemingly very fast Mick Collins. The rest of the Cowboys offense had no chance unless they grouped up and boxed the DB in, which was unlikely on this play. Since Miles Austin apparently possesses the tackling skills of an 8 year old, Crayton and Owens pretty much had to make the play. There were no other options. And they did. Austin was headed way down the field to set up his third tackle attempt of the play, so maybe Collins would not have scored. The Packers should've sent all their blockers after Crayton and Owens (and, grudgingly, Austin, who needs some serious tackling practice), then just let Collins outrun and juke everyone else.
A huge factor in Felix Jones' success is his vision. He makes the right cuts, and he goes the right places. I don't know that Felix Jones has a lot of shimmy. However, if you see the right place to run, and run there, that counts for a lot.
A lot of RBs make a lot of poor decisions with the ball. Some poor decisions have to do with having a poor sense of timing about when to cut vs. when to momentarily hesitate and let things develop. Felix, happily, seems to have both vision and a feel for timing.
Felix, postgame, describing his TD run: "T.O. come up beside me and told me 'Come on', like we was racin' or somethin."
Nice hustle game for Terrell Owens. He works so hard, you have to like having him on your team. It's amazing that such an old guy can keep himself in such good condition. An NFL WR does a LOT of running. Traditionally, older WR's (think Art Monk) play somewhat part time. They take some rests during the games. Terrell Owens does not rest.
The Cowboys rushed the ball (Barber: 28 for 145) and pressured Aaron Rogers. Championship teams rush the ball and pressure the QB. The Cowboys look good.
The upcoming Redskins game is a classic opportunity for the Cowboys to play flat and get beaten by a traditional rival.
nfl.com video kicks derrierre.
Bon Voyage, Yankee Stadium.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Jenny Silver is an exception.
Dinner would be exquisite.
Under My Thumb
Sympathy For the Devil, amusingly, is performed from a magenta pink stage, for a crowd at an amusement park. Heh.
Gen. Keane helped conceive the new Iraq war strategy and then sell it to the White House. He advised on its implementation, visiting Iraq often and reporting back to the president and vice president. As recounted in Bob Woodward's new book, "The War Within," George W. Bush stiffed his Joint Chiefs of Staff, who opposed the surge, and made Gen. Keane his back channel to the Petraeus command in Baghdad. The Pentagon "almost presided over an American defeat in Iraq, and Jack Keane helped save the day," says Michael O'Hanlon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Three months into the war, Gen. Keane visited Iraq as the Army's deputy chief of staff. "I felt we had a low-level insurgency on our hands and I had a long plane ride home as a result of it, because I thought my Army was ill-prepared to fight that kind of war and it would take time for us to figure it out." His was a lonely view at the time. Gen. Keane passed on a promotion to Army chief for personal reasons but kept up with Iraq.
For the next three years, Donald Rumsfeld and the senior generals pushed a "short-war" scenario, "which was to get a political solution quickly, transition to the Iraqis security quickly, and get out," says Gen. Keane. "It didn't work. And why didn't it work? Because the enemy voted and they took advantage. The fact that we did not adjust to what the enemy was doing to us and the Iraqis were not capable of standing by themselves -- that was our major failure. . . . It took us all a while to understand the war and [that] we had the wrong strategy to fight it. Where I parted from those leaders [at the Pentagon] is when we knew the facts -- and the facts were pretty evident in 2005 and compelling in 2006 -- and those facts were simply that we could not protect the population and the levels of violence were just out of control."
In late 2006, after the midterm election debacle for Republicans, pressure rose for a quick if dishonorable exit from Iraq. Gen. Keane met Frederick Kagan, who was putting together a report on an alternative strategy for Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute. On Dec. 11, both men found themselves at the White House to push the plan. Congress, the Joint Chiefs, Iraq commander Gen. George Casey and the Iraq Study Group all wanted a fast drawdown. President Bush ignored their advice. Gen. Petraeus was sent out in February to oversee the new, risky and politically unpopular surge.
Even Gen. Keane didn't expect the new strategy to work so fast. "It's a stunning turnaround, and I think people will study it for years because it's unparalleled in counterinsurgency practice," he says. "All the gains we've achieved against al Qaeda, the Sunni insurgency, the Iranians in the south are sustainable" -- a slight pause here -- "if we're smart about it and not let them regroup and get back into it."
Gen. Keane wants to make sure people understand why the surge worked. "I have a theory" about the unexpectedly fast turnaround, he says. "Whether they be Sunni, Shia or Kurd, anyone who was being touched by that war after four years was fed up with it. And I think once a solution was being provided, once they saw the Americans were truly willing to take risks and die to protect their women and children and their way of life, they decided one, to protect the Americans, and two, to turn in the enemies that were around them who were intimidating and terrorizing them; that gave them the courage to do it."
He adds that the so-called Sunni Awakening, and the effective surrender of Shia radical Moqtada Sadr and his Mahdi Army, depended upon the surge. "I'm not sure [the Sunni Awakening] would have spread to the other provinces without the U.S. [military] presence. We needed forces that we didn't previously have for the Sunnis to be able to rely on us to protect them." Sadr saw his lieutenants killed in the American push, and didn't want to share their fate.
Looking ahead, Gen. Keane still considers a robust American ground force "the secret to success" in Iraq. "It is a myth for people to assert that by pulling away from the Iraqis, by pulling away from the Iraqi political process, that somehow that becomes a catalyst to do things that they would not do because of our presence. That is fundamentally wrong. It is our presence that is helping Iraqis move forward."
Sectarian tensions remain a worry. [...] "It appears that Maliki is using the guise of security to enhance his political base and to diminish his political opponents," says Gen. Keane, citing the Baquba incident. "That is a danger and that is something we should not tolerate."
Another potential threat looms from Iran. Though Tehran and its surrogates were hammered in the Maliki government's successful spring offensive on Basra, "we know they're coming back," says Gen. Keane. Iran wants a weak Iraqi central government unaligned with America. "We know that they intend to come back on the kinetic side, attack U.S. forces exclusively with less attacks, but more spectacular. I don't believe for a minute they're going to be able to resurge and be successful as long as we stay on top of it, keep our head in the game, maintain our force presence in the south."
The surge turned things around on another difficult front, Washington. "Despite the fact that President Bush did preside over a strategy that was failing for three plus years, and he has been criticized for that," says Gen. Keane, "he also deserves a significant amount of credit because all around him people were advocating a failed strategy, particularly key leaders around him, and he had the wherewithal to make a tough decision that flew certainly in the face of political opposition even in his own party."
The U.S. came "within weeks or months" of defeat in Iraq in 2006, he says. The consequences of that were "unacceptable" for the region, "not to speak of an institution that I loved."
Ron Fellows fan
Reasons to love America: gun racks and bun racks.
We wouldn't be America if someone hadn't dreamed up Fish Pedicures. Fishycures?
The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish.
"It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious," Ho said.
Instapundit's review: "Devastating."
In medieval and Renaissance siege warfare, a common tactic was to dig a shallow trench close to the enemy gate, and then erect a small hoisting engine that would lift the lit petard out of the trench, swing it up, out, and over to the gate, where it would detonate and hopefully breach the gate. It was not impossible, however, that this procedure would go awry, and the engineer lighting the bomb could be snagged in the ropes and lifted out with the petard and consequently blown up. Alternately, and perhaps a more likely scenario, if the petard were to detonate prematurely due to a faulty or short slow match, the engineer would be lifted or 'hoist' by the explosion.
Thus to be 'hoist with his own petar' is to be caught up and destroyed by his own plot. Hamlet's actual meaning is "cause the bomb maker to be blown up with his own bomb", metaphorically turning the tables on Claudius, whose messengers are killed instead of Hamlet....
Friday, September 19, 2008
Bill, sent out to support Obama, blatantly undermines Obama. I get the feeling this interview was more fun for Bill than anything he's done since Denver.
ABC News' Jennifer Parker reports:Awesomely awesome and funny. I suddenly like Bill Clinton. You can't help but like anyone this underhanded. I caucused for Hillary. I visited Bill's Presidential Library. Bill and I have achieved detente.
In an interview with CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, Clinton, who has tried to put to rest rumors of tensions between himself and Obama said, "I've never concealed my admiration and affection for Sen. McCain. I think he's a great man.
"But, I think, on the issues that matter to our future, the Obama-Biden team is, is more right," Clinton said of the Democratic ticket. "And I believe they're gonna win. But, I think that it will be competitive until the end."
A ringing endorsement it wasn't.
The former president said Obama "has offered some very specific and sensible economic reforms and healthcare reforms."
Clinton, who said he agreed with the US Federal Reserve decision to bailout insurance giant AIG, said his wife who today gave, "the most detailed position I've seen on what she felt we ought to do on the finance crisis."
"I think that the, the people said, 'Well, they [Republicans] had the Congress and the White House for six of the last eight years. We're in trouble. We liked Senator McCain. We recognize he's a little bit of a different kind of Republican. But, we're gonna make a change.' And I think that's where they'll be and I think that you'll see a victory for Obama and Biden," Clinton said.
"Barring some unforeseen development like in-- something happens in the debates we don't know about. I-- I-- I-- it may not be apparent in the polls until last week or two of the election. But, I believe that it will be apparent on election day. I think that-- I think Senator Obama will win this election," Clinton said.
Asked if he was surprised by the bounce McCain received in the polls after choosing Palin as his vice presidential candidate, Clinton said he wasn't, and lavished praise on the Alaska governor.
"No, she's a-- she's an instinctively effective candidate," he said, "And with a compelling story. I think it was exciting to some, that, that she was a woman. It was exciting that she was from Alaska. It was exciting that she's sort of like the person she is. And she grew up in a, came up in a political culture and a religious culture that is probably well to the right of the American center. But, she didn't basically define herself in those terms," Clinton said.
"She handled herself very well," he said, "I get why she's done so well. She, she's, it's a mistake to underestimate her. She's got good intuitive skills. They're significant."
Asked whether his wife intends to run in 2012 if McCain wins, Clinton did not rule it out.
"I don't know," he said, "You know the one thing we've learned at, at our age is that, you know, I hope we're both active till we're 90 and healthy. But, I think that her focus will now be on what she can do in her present positions to try to help her deal with all these things that threw her into the presidential race in the first place," he said.
Clinton added, "I think that-- that what she will do is to continue to try to be a national voice as a result of her campaign on economic and healthcare and energy issues that got her into this presidential race in the first place."
The former president suggested he and his wife have put aside "personal politics" and are working hard to elect Obama.
"She's workin'," he said of the New York senator. "You see her. She's out there workin' hard for Senator Obama. She, like me, believe he's gonna win. And no matter who wins, we've got to put our, our own personal politics aside for the next couple of years and get after these problems," he said.
Olbermann would have canned a contributor for saying anything this gracious or this accurate. Bill may be the only person on NBC’s cable shows to have called John McCain a “great man” in two years.
Bill Clinton: Awesomely Awesome I
Thursday, September 18, 2008
She said "nucular." Twice.The Left is a tribe. Left ideas - fully thought through to a denouement in the world as it exists - are consistently revealed as both unworkable and harmful. An example is equality of outcome -- application of which - outside of communes of nuns or monks - can only and must result in more mediocrity, less excellence, and thus more eventual misery, pain, and hunger in the world. The Left avoids thinking its ideas through to their inevitable ends.
Stop voting for people you want to have a beer with. Stop voting for folksy. Stop voting for people who remind you of your neighbor. Stop voting for the ideologically intransigent, the staggeringly ignorant, and the blazingly incompetent.
Vote for someone smarter than you.
Why does the Left avoid full examination of its ideas? Wouldn't a principled Leftist be eager to think those principles through to the end? Wouldn't a seeker of truth be eager for full examination of a hypothesis?
Because the left is not eager to examine its own principles, we can see the Left is about neither principles nor truth. Instead, the Left is about belonging. The Left is a tribe.
Democrats as a people are fundamentally more decent.The Left is a circle dance. The dancers know they are more virtuous and more wise than those outside the dance. The dance justifies itself. To wit: all dance is beauty, beauty is truth. Nothing more need be said, lest intrude uncomfortable and judgmental thought about the beauty, or lack thereof, of the dancing. The Left is a circle dance of the virtuous and the wise.
neo-neocon quotes Milan Kundera, from his Book of Laughter and Forgetting:
“Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.”It seems proper for that to be lavender.
We all want to dance in a ring, to a certain extent. It’s wonderful to be part of a coherent movement, a whole that makes sense, joined with others working for the same goal and sharing the same beliefs. But there’s a price to pay when something challenges the tenets of that movement. When that happens, there are two kinds of people: those who change their ideas to fit the new facts, even if it means leaving the fold, and those who distort and twist the facts and logic to maintain the circle dance.
[Liberals] see themselves as tolerant, but they see Republicans and Conservatives as intolerant. Ergo, by being intolerant of Republicans and Conservatives, liberals are striking a blow for tolerance.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony....American Spectator:
Published 9/17/2008 12:08:47 AMThe Biden detail further indicates the Obamas are scared of this.
STANDING BY THE STORY
The Obama campaign spent more than five hours on Monday attempting to figure out the best refutation of the explosive New York Post report that quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying that Barack Obama during his July visit to Baghdad demanded that Iraq not negotiate with the Bush Administration on the withdrawal of American troops.
Instead, he asked that they delay such negotiations until after the presidential handover at the end of January.
The three problems, according to campaign sources:
 The report was true,  there were at least three other people in the room with Obama and Zebari to confirm the conversation, and  there was concern that there were enough aggressive reporters based in Baghdad with the sources to confirm the conversation that to deny the comments would create a bigger problem.
Biden himself got involved in the shaping of the statement.
McCain is trying to drive the story. Major media are missing in action. Marginal media have issued a couple of misguided analysis. Right blogs are tentative, and beat their drums with medium conviction. If you say the truth: Obama violated the Logan Act, you sound like a wacko extremist, and a boring one at that. Most are leary of sounding boring.
Obama is mostly protected from criminal prosecution by his status as the Dem nominee. I think this is proper. Law should be applied with discretion. Obama only went to Iraq and spoke with Maliki and Zebari b/c he is the Dem nominee. It is proper that voters pass judgment on him (as opposed to a criminal jury).
This doesn't mean he didn't violate the Logan Act. He did. For a Constitutional Scholar, he is a dumbass.
This only means law should be applied with discretion. If Obama had gone to Iraq strictly as a Senator, and then violated the Logan Act, I would more seriously consider criminal charges as a proper response. Such a deed would have been more pernicious.
CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters fire chaff flares during an air power demonstration for Sailors, Marines and their friends and family aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert C. Long h/t
Military chaff is deployed by ships and aircraft to deter incoming missiles and rockets. Chaff is white noise. Chaff is interference. Chaff detours. h/tTom Maguire analyzed the Obama response which came out of the 5 hour meeting so you won't have to.
I analyze and summarize Tom Maguire so you won't have to:
1) Obama is lying;
2) Obama's chaff of esoterica give media space to cover for him;
3) most voters will throw up their hands amidst minutia about SOFA vs SFA.
Obama is counting on #2 and #3.
Obama says he was talking about SFA(Strategic Forces Agreement = long term agreement about military role in Iraq) instead of SOFA(Status of Forces Agreement = U.N. stamp of approval for U.S. forces to be in Iraq; SOFA expires 12/31/08).
When you look closely: Obama's rationale conflicts with itself, and you can clearly see he is lying. However, Obama has thrown out enough chaff that looking closely and identifying the truth takes some doing. Few major media reporters will look closely(in part b/c they don't want to hurt Obama), and Obama is depending on this. Few voters will sort through the minutia. How could they? Voters are busy living their lives. Voters depend on media, yet media doesn't want to do this job.
Obama's chaff of esoteric detail is Clintonian genius which has become classic Washington technique. This is change only if you are desperate to believe.
a U.S. senator ... attempts to undermine legitimate negotiations....
And he does not even deny doing so, not because he wouldn’t like to, but because he can’t.
Why is the mainstream media ignoring the story? Well, first and foremost, because they want Obama to win the election. But it goes deeper than that. They’re ignoring the story because they don’t see anything wrong with what Obama did.
They look at Bush’s poor approval ratings. They look at the unpopularity of the war. They look at the fact that Bush has only four months remaining in office.
And they ask, “Well, why should Bush get to negotiate anything? He’s leaving soon, we don’t like him and neither does anyone else. So what’s the problem?”
Which was part of the Obama campaign's argument in their flim-flamey statement, i.e. Barack didn't oppose U.S. negotiations; he opposed Bush Administration negotiations - see the difference?
[T]he process of deregulation began at the tail end of the Carter Administration. Reagan continued it, with Bush I bailing out the offenders during the Savings and Loan Crisis, an act that reinforced the idea on the part of management that risky behavior wouldn’t have such terrible consequences because the government would provide a safety net.
Investors Business Daily zeroes in on the accelerant:
[I]t was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street's most revered institutions.
Tough new 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 face stiff government penalties.
Yes, the market was fueled by greed and overleveraging in the secondary market for subprimes, vis-a-vis mortgaged-backed securities traded on Wall Street. But the seed was planted in the '90s by Clinton and his social engineers. They were the political catalyst behind this slow-motion financial train wreck.
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.
But it was too little, too late. Raines had reportedly steered Fannie Mae business to subprime giant Countrywide Financial, which was saved from bankruptcy by Bank of America.
At the same time, the Clinton administration was pushing Fannie and her brother Freddie Mac to buy more mortgages from low-income households.
The Clinton-era corruption, combined with unprecedented catering to affordable-housing lobbyists, resulted in today's nationalization of both Fannie and Freddie, a move that is expected to cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
And the worst is far from over. By the time it is, we'll all be paying for Clinton's social experiment, one that Obama hopes to trump with a whole new round of meddling in the housing and jobs markets. In fact, the social experiment Obama has planned could dwarf both the Great Society and New Deal in size and scope.
There's a political root cause to this mess that we ignore at our peril. If we blame the wrong culprits, we'll learn the wrong lessons. And taxpayers will be on the hook for even larger bailouts down the road.
Market failure? Hardly. Once again, this crisis has government's fingerprints all over it.
Webutante posts a personal recollection:
I'm a stockholder in a small town, solid little bank in Middle Tennessee. It's a bank that for the past 120 years has a reputation as good as gold----with a record of making good loans at about the rate of +90% or more---almost unheard of in today's free wheeling markets.
For some years my father, a small town businessman and employer, was chairman of the board of this little bank and continued the tradition of good business and solid loan practices. The community flourished.
Several years after he retired as chairman, the Feds in the Clinton Administration came in and started dictating to this bank as well as banks across America: they had to start making a certain percentage of bad loans even if management knew the loans would never be repaid. In essence the bank was told to start a policy that in effect was the same as giving a portion of its money away. If my hometown bank failed to comply with this insane new banking policy, it would face stiff penalties from the Feds.
Then, the Feds came in and strongly urged another insane policy: my hometown bank and over 8,000 other banks across this nation were strongly urged to buy millions of dollars of Fannie Mae preferred stock.
After this urging, management of this bank felt obliged to buy FNM preferred stock almost as an act of patriotism. Today, this FNM preferred stock is worthless and my privately held bank will have to write off over $5,000,000 losses. The bank is also having to write off a number of bad loans that the Feds told them they had to make.
Is this any way to run a bank or a business? Of course not. Does government really have a right to make businesses that are solid weaker because some bureaucrat in D.C. thinks it a good idea? Of course not.
Thankfully my hometown bank is still solvent and solid, though not as much as it once was--- had government intervention/supervision not stepped in.
I and my fellow stockholders in this small, conservatively run bank are going to eat the excesses of $5,000,000 of the Fannie Mae preferred. We'll do our part to take the hit from others' gross mismanagement far away in D.C. and in the investment banks that are falling.
Meanwhile, I say again: poorly run and mismanaged companies ---like Fannie and Freddie and Lehman Brothers---need to be allowed to fail and held accountable by stockholders and markets for the errors and excesses of their ways. Saving Fannie Mae and Bear Stears were monumental mistakes by the Feds.
In 2000, the Treasury Dept. succeeded in getting Congressional hearings in an effort to get Congress to reign in Fannie and Freddie. Congress declined to act.
Ed Morrissey says the Bush Administration tried to push through a regulatory solution in 2003:
Bush wanted to tighten oversight with a new regulatory board for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government recipients for the express purpose of addressing bad loan practices — and Democrats blocked it.
The New York Times reported this five years ago:The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.This should have been a no-brainer, right? With hindsight, we can see that the Bush administration had accurately diagnosed the problem in the lending market and had a plan to address it. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reluctantly supported the plan. However, Democrats objected:
Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.
The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.
The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.
WaPo says Fannie and Freddie escaped oversight by influencing Congressmen via campaign donations:
The companies kept growing, the dangers posed by their scale and financial practices kept mounting, critics kept warning of the consequences. Yet across official Washington, those who might have acted repeatedly failed to do so until it was too late. Last weekend, the federal government seized control of the two companies to protect the very mortgage market they were created to lubricate. The cost to taxpayers could run into the tens of billions of dollars.Related: Jamie Gorelick, Mistress of Disaster
As policymakers now set out to decide what role government, and the two companies, should play in the mortgage business, the failures of the past two decades offer a cautionary tale.
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. The companies fought successfully against increased regulation by cultivating their friends and hounding their enemies.