Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Limits On Fannie and Freddie Political Donations


Pres. Bush signed the housing bailout bill into law today, which also explicitly backs up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with taxpayer money. One thing that hasn't changed under the law is the amount of political influence they weild. According to this WSJ op-ed piece, "an underreported part of this story is that Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow a vote on Republican Jim DeMint's amendment to bar political donations and lobbying by Fannie and its sibling, Freddie Mac." This is a serious problem, and assures that there will be further problems at both institutions.



I recently decried the influence that public-sector unions have bought, and called for barring them from political activities. In that case, it's an obvious conflict of a union donating money to the politicians who appoint the opposing negotiators. In the case of the now federally-backed Fannie and Freddie, "letting them ladle cash all over Washington amounts to using government-guaranteed profits to lobby for continued government protection. Congress sets the rules in favor of Fan and Fred, which then repay the Members with cash from their rigged profit stream." (also from the WSJ piece.) That's a fairly obvious conflict, no?



The responsible thing to do would be to break both of these monsters up, and sell them off to private businesses (banks, investment companies, etc.) over time. No government-backed company should be allowed to hold multiples of the annual GNP on it's balance sheet, as these do. However, does anyone think that this will happen, with their political patronage ability unconstrained?



Read the entire piece (linked above) for more on Freddie and Fannie's political shenanigans (look at their "charity" donations-wow!), but I'll close with their closing paragraph:



Mr. DeMint has pledged to offer his amendment to end Fannie and Freddie lobbying to every Senate bill through Election Day. We wish him luck, but he's up against the reality that Congressional leaders and the companies want to return as quickly as possible to the business of greasing each other's palms. The companies are even hosting swanky receptions at the Republican and Democratic nominating conventions in a few weeks. Consider it a Fannie and Freddie "thank you" for their bailout.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Media Bias, Pt, II: NYT Rejects McCain Rebuttal


The NY Times has rejected an op-ed by John McCain, countering the piece they ran last week by Barack Obama. Drudge quotes NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley: "It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq." I have a question: how does Obama define "ending" the war in Iraq, in his op-ed piece? Read both pieces here, since the NYT won't publish both candidate's opinions.



Link to Obama's NYT op-ed



Link to McCain's op-ed, on Drudge

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Media Bias? Obama's Awesome Adventure in the Middle East


I'm wondering if the excessive coverage of Obama's Middle East trip will be helpful, or hurt him. Still, it's certain that he will get much more coverage than McCain got when he last went to Iraq. Even the International Herald-Tribune, owned by the NY Times, has a story about it. McCain wasn't the nominee yet, so this isn't really comparable. Still, if McCain goes to Iraq again before the elections, I doubt that all three network anchors will try to interview him there. They'd be more likely to label it as "using the military for political purposes," and give him minimal coverage. Why does no one say that about Obama?

Monday, July 14, 2008

2004 FANNIE MAE SCANDAL: HUH?


This Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac stuff is interesting. Here's the important business blurb, from the NY Post, Jul. 9, 2008:




Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have as much as $3.7 trillion in off- bal ance sheet securities that may have to be put back on their books under a proposed accounting change. Fannie Mae has about $2.3 trillion in mortgage- backed securities off- balance sheet while Freddie Mac has $1.4 trillion, according to Bloomberg and comments by the company's regulator.




Now, both of these corporations have been in trouble for some time. Here's a post from Wed. Dec. 29, 2004, from LEAVWORLD: GRAFFITI POLITTI!


FANNIE MAE SCANDAL: HUH?


Most people haven't paid much attention to the financial scandal at "FANNIE MAE", a semi public home mortgage agency. There is quite alot there. It's comparable to Enron, but former chairman Frank Raines is a democrat, so it gets soft-pedaled by the liberal media. This is the story that won't die; it has continued to resurface each time it gets to the next predictable level. Thanks to a Clinton era law, Raines had to personally certify the false earnings statements that are now being restated to the tune of $9 Billion. That's alot of scratch to falsely vouch for. Now after five years screwing up with taxpayer and private money, he is set to receive $1.3 mil a year for life. Oh, and free health and dental care(for life), just in case he can't afford it. The good news is that if you haven't seen this in the media yet, you still might. I'm sure that you will see something about this when the guy gets indicted for his actions, or convicted. People say "it doesn't really affect me, why should I care"? Because these guys are defrauding you and me, the very taxpayers they are supposed to be helping. This is typical of government programs, from the rot in education to the "ponzi scheme" called social security. More on that in later posts.




I've followed the mismanagement, but failed to continue posting about it. My bad. Now, it's like BOOM! This could be a serious contributing factor to our economic woes. All I can say is I saw it coming, at least in regards to Fannie Mae, four years ago. Sometimes, the problems are sitting in plain sight, all along. I should follow up on even the furthest "out there" ideas I post about, because I don't know which ones will be important years later.

"Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out Of Control," Best of the Web!


A while back, I cited an AP article (link) titled "Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out Of Control," and made fun of it. Well, I wasn't alone in noticing the absurdity of that concept, being spun as a news story. James Taranto at the WSJ "Best of the Web" column has now dedicated a whole segment of his column under this title. I'm excerpting all of the ones I can find right now, but you should look him up, if you like to laugh with your political commentary.



Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control


    • "Experts: Rattlesnake Venom Becoming More Potent"--headline, KCNC-TV Web site (Denver), July2
    • "Swimming in Drag to Help the Poor"--headline, The
      American Spectator
      Web site, July8

    • "Agriculture Linked to Frog Sexual Abnormalities"--headline, University of Florida press release, July5

    • "U.S. Agent Fires at 3 in Sleepy Town on Quebec-Vermont Border"--headline, CBC.ca, July7

    • "Uncertainty Aplenty as Web, Media Leaders Convene"--headline, Associated Press, July7

    • "A Massive Threat to National Security May Be in Your Computer"--headline, WTOP-FM Web site (Washington), July8
    • "Everything Is Done at Top Speed. We Need to Slow Down Before We Have a Global
      Nervous Breakdown"--headline, Guardian (London), July 8

Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control, continued...

  • "Cow Burps Help Argentines Study Climate Change"--headline, Reuters, July10
  • "Cow Farts Collected in Plastic Tank for Global Warming Study"--headline, Daily Telegraph (London), July9

  • "Rabbit Ripper Shocks Germany"--headline, BBC Web
    site, July9

  • "Flight Delayed After Ticks Found on Plane"--headline, United Press International, July9

  • "Internet Flaw Could Let Hackers Take Over the Web"--headline, Agence France-Presse, July9
  • "USA Virtually Takes Mankind Back to Barbaric Medieval Ages"--headline, Pravda, July10

  • "The World Is Becoming a Happier Place: Study"--headline, Agence France-Presse, July 9



Maybe the French are on to something. Probably not. Everything seemingly is spinning out of control! OH, NO! Was I asleep? Were you? Is it the end of the world, as we know it?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson's "Talking Points"


Now that I've seen the clip of Jesse Jackson for the umpteenth time, I've had time to analyze it. I still can't decide if he was trying to give the other guest "talking points," or if he was telling him how he really felt. I didn't see what they said "on camera," so this puzzle is incomplete. Also, O'Reilly mentioned that they had "worse" excerpts, but that they weren't "relevant" to any of the "issues" of the campaign. This is interesting on many fronts, and poses many questions:



First, when was this recorded? I saw a "Hannity & Colmes" logo in the lower right corner when O'Reilly broadcast the clips, but saw O'Reilly's logo there in the rebroadcasts on other channels. Jesse Jackson has only appeared once on the"O'Reilly Factor," but more often on H&C.". Second, what are they holding back? Should Mr. Jackson be grateful that they are living up to the "fair" part of their slogan? Does he regret mentioning "faith-based initiatives" as a reason for criticizing Obama? Did anyone else notice the body language of Mr. Jackson, as he said "cut his n*ts off?" He made an "under the table" hand motion, which looked an awful lot like a "slicing" motion, though only his upper body was visible.



My analysis ends with more questions than I had before this happened. I assumed Mr. Jackson supported Sen. Obama, but was trying to stay out of the limelight, lest he do what Pres. Clinton did to Hillary (ie: destroy her campaign). I also suspected some resentment, as the "new" generation often gets from their elders that they surpass. His comments won't hurt the Senator's campaign, but they seem to show some serious negative feelings over "faith-based initiatives." Now, Mr. Jackson is also a Reverend, and as such should support the "faith-based initiative" concept. Why would Sen. Obama's promotion of this issue tick off the Rev. Jackson so much?



Has Sen. Obama been condescending to Black people? I think he's been condescending to just about everyone, from his grandma to his preacher, not to mention those old, bitter voters in Pennsylvania (and Hillary, McCain, AIPAC, Palestinians, Canada, our European allies, Iran, Venezuela, etc...). My advice to Jesse is "welcome to the club!" It's part of running for office, to profess that you know better than anyone else how to run the nation. He should know this, which makes me lean towards thinking he really wants to "castrate" Sen. Obama's candidacy. He just doesn't want his fingerprints on it.

He should talk to Hillary. She was a real operator, when she wasn't the candidate. She's no longer the candidate, and is free to "operate" again; their goals may coincide. They both profess their support, and it sounds hollow from both of them. If Sen. Obama loses, it'll benefit them both, in different ways.

PS: We'll see how this plays out, eventually. I doubt this will be a big thing, though it's dominating the current news cycle.

Why I'm Not A "Rockerfeller" Republican


I describe myself as conservative, for a New Yorker. Not a lot of people understand what that means. It's more than I'm moderate on some social issues, though that's a part of it. First, you have to know what a "Rockerfeller Republican" is, and how they came to dominate, and ultimately destroy the NYS Republican party. Tuesday's NY Post has two scathing pieces on Rockerfeller, and his legacy. I grew up in NYC, in the '60's and '70's, fleeing to live with my dad in the suburbs in '76. I wasn't very politically aware as a child, but I was raised in a very liberal household. Most of my classmates lived in public housing, and even Republicans in NYC and state believed in huge government social programs. I clearly remember one of my earliest political thoughts: "I would gladly pay higher taxes, to help the poor." Of course, I was years from actually paying taxes, but this was the mindset of many in New York, and Gov. Rockerfeller embodied that ideal.



Here are some excerpts from the Post's op-ed, "He Spent, You Pay:"




It's been 35 years since New York's only four-term governor left the statehouse, but his legacy - unaffordable government and an accompanying economic decline - lives on.



E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute lays out the unhappy details on the preceding page. Suffice it to be said that the principal achievements of the Rockefeller years are to be found in New York's most-expensive-in-the-nation Medicaid system, its hyperactive public-sector unionism and - most starkly - its seemingly endless financial crises.



New York's near bankruptcy during the mid '70s was the most dramatic of these events, but the first cracks appeared in 1971 - and the latest round has Albany looking at a combined $27.5 billion budget deficit over the next five years.



It's not all Rockefeller's fault, of course; New York never lacks for politicians eager to spend public money.



...And it was Rockefeller, together with future US Attorney General John Mitchell, who invented "moral-obligation bonding" as a way to sidestep voter rejection of lavish spending - thereby creating debt that New Yorkers will be paying off for generations.



For two decades, he stifled the state GOP's natural base in favor of his own brand of socially liberal "Rockefeller Republicanism" - a philosophy he hoped someday to impose on the national party as well.



...He was, by his own lights, dedicated to public service - convinced that big, activist government could solve all of society's ills.



"The solution is money," he once said.



So he spent it all.



And New York has never been the same.




Here are some excerpts from E.J. McMahon's piece:




WHEN Nelson Rockefeller was born 100 years ago today, New York state was America's economic powerhouse - with its best years still ahead.



By the time Rockefeller died in 1979, New York was a state in decline, struggling to cope with an exodus of people and businesses stemming from the overwhelming burden of state taxes, debt and spending he had imposed during his 15 years as its governor.



State and local government across the country expanded rapidly during the 1960s and early '70s - but under Rockefeller, New York's government growth was exceptional.



When Rocky first ran for governor in 1958, the Empire State's tax burden was 12 percent above the US average (relative to personal income). By the time he left office at the end of 1973, it had swelled to 28 percent above average, as illustrated by the chart.



Rockefeller quadrupled the state budget and doubled the state income-tax rate. He created scores of new public authorities and let state debt explode - giving birth to a culture of fiscal recklessness that persists in Albany to this day. In countless ways, New Yorkers are still paying a stiff price for Rocky's tenure.



...And while Rockefeller's Metropolitan Transportation Authority stabilized the region's bankrupt suburban railroads, the MTA failed to stem the rapid deterioration of the city's subways during the same period. The Urban Development Corp. (UDC), created by Rockefeller to finance inner-city renewal while overriding local zoning laws, would evolve into an all-purpose vehicle for financing prisons and "economic development" projects of every description - without voter approval, of course. And UDC's default on a bond payment in 1975 would trigger the city's fiscal crisis.



Capital spending by the UDC and other authorities provided extra grease for the governor's legendarily close relationship with construction trade unions. Rockefeller's 1967 Taylor Law effectively saddled New York with a public-sector labor cartel that dominates its politics and inflates its budgets to this day.



As for mental health, Rockefeller's "vanguard" programs failed to prevent the horrific abuse and neglect of patients in state institutions for the developmentally disabled, as exposed by the Willowbrook scandal the year before he left the governor's office.



Rockefeller's expansion of state welfare programs - eagerly abetted by Mayor John Lindsay in New York City - made the state a magnet for the dependent poor by the late 1960s. The governor's belated attempts to stem the tide with tougher work requirements in the early '70s were unsuccessful. The welfare reforms of the '90s finally tamed that problem - but Rockefeller's Medicaid program, the nation's costliest, endures.



A man of seemingly boundless vision, energy and ambition, Nelson Rockefeller demonstrated that there are, indeed, limits to what government can and should try to do. Overlooking his mistakes increases the risk that they will be repeated - which already seems in danger of happening.



State spending over the past five years has surged to unsustainable levels, with annual increases peaking at the highest rates since Rockefeller's last term. The public-sector labor unions that ultimately owe their power to Rockefeller are now pushing for the most massive state tax hikes since the early 1970s.




Several of these points hit home for me, on a personal level. I remember the NYC of the '70's, with my mother being physically abused at Bellvue Hospital's psych ward, and fighting off, or running away from muggers on the subway. I don't blame Rockerfeller for that, of course, but on a political level, liberal social policies were responsible for many of these situations. When government tried to fix every social ill under the sun, it did nothing effectively. In other words, things that were within the government's justified purview (like law enforcement and infrastructure) suffered from neglect, because there just wasn't enough money to go around. That's when they started hitting up the taxpayers, and they haven't stopped sucking the lifeblood out of NY's economy since.



Worse than Rockerfeller were his inheritors in NY's GOP. At least Rocky did it for noble reasons. By the time Pataki came in, NY Republicans were hungry for their share of the pie, and as deep in bed with the corrupt unions and businesses as the Democrats. They were late to the game, though, and couldn't promise to be "more like the Democrats" when it came to social spending, and maintain any serious base of conservative voters. This has resulted in the current state of NY's GOP, which is about to lose it's last position of statewide political power, it's slim control of the Senate.



This is why, while I'm still registered as a Republican, I prefer to call myself a conservative. I sure a heck don't buy into what liberal "Rockerfeller" (also known as "country club") Republicans have done to this state.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rove on Obama: Words of Wisdom, Not a Slam


Here's a link to a deceptively-titled WSJ op-ed by Karl Rove. Rove didn't write the headline, and doesn't suggest anywhere that Obama is trying to "buy the presidency." I believe the WSJ editors tried to "jazz up" interest by making the title sound like a slam on Obama, when it's really a straight analysis piece, critiquing Obama's campaign. I want to share this with all of the Obama supporters out there, because this is the kind of realistic political analysis that they rarely see. Plus, isn't it a good thing to be able to read and respond to Mr. Rove's own words, rather than the liberal fantasies of "Dr. Evil," or whatever.



Can Barack Buy the Presidency?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I WISH JOE HORN WAS MY NEIGHBOR!

Joe Horn was not indicted by a Texas grand jury for shooting two theives who were robbing his neighbor's house. I wish Joe Horn was my neighbor!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Freshman Democrat Richardson: Skating On Thin Ice

A few weeks ago, I saw this AP story: (source)

An investor who bought a congresswoman's foreclosed home filed a lawsuit
against the legislator and her bank for rescinding the sale.

James York had purchased the home at auction in May for $388,000 after Rep.
Laura Richardson failed to make her mortgage payments. He claims Richardson used
her influence as a congresswoman to force Washington Mutual Inc. and a
subsidiary to later back out of the sale.

"They rescinded the notice of trustee sale and put it back in her name
before even telling me," York said. "It's not a difficult case. It's a valid
sale."


I noted that the GOP doesn't have a monopoly on "abuse of power."

Now, according to Tuesday's "political grapevine," on Fox News' Special Report, she has lost at least one house to forclosure:

Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Laura Richardson of California has
defaulted on two home loans and lost a third house at a foreclosure
auction.

The Daily Breeze newspaper in Torrance, California, also reports that when
she was a councilwoman in Long Beach, California, she crashed her BMW, failed to
pay a repair bill and then apparently violated a local policy by racking up
30,000 miles on a city-owned vehicle in one year.

But Richardson's past financial troubles have not stopped her from sporting
the most expensive car in the House of Representatives, despite her freshman
status. She now drives a customized 2007 Lincoln Town Car that costs taxpayers
$1,300 a month. The Daily Breeze reports that most cars leased by members of
Congress cost $400 to $800 a month.



Whoa! Do you think she'll abstain from voting on the mortgage bailout bill being worked on in Congress? Or might she try to make the language of the bill more beneficial to her situation? Judging by her past, and present character, I'd say the latter is the more likely possibility, though she may not have much say, as a freshman. She's also skating on thin ice, being mentioned negatively by two different media outlets in less than a month. Stay tuned.