Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Children Of The Corn

Jonah Goldberg:

No Sale

No doubt due to some leftwing rapid response, I'm getting deluged with this clip from some documentary called "Jesus Camp" in which kids appear to be praying to Bush. A few quick points:

1. Yes, that stuff ain't my cup of tea either.

2. But, the kids are not in fact worshiping Bush. They're praying for him.

3. And most important, the clip and the activity it shows wasn't part of any campaign effort. The Bush campaign didn't use glassy-eyed kids in a messianic P.R. stunt to promote their candidate, nor did any affiliated outreach group. Meanwhile, that is precisely what the Obama camp is doing — with the active support of the head of NBC, the parent company of MSNBC by the way. The analogy doesn't work at all. And, for those lefty-readers who think the analogy does work, they should be ashamed of the fact that their candidate is in fact doing the same thing. Again: objectively, it's not the same thing, but if you're going to email me the Jesus camp video as some sort of gotchya, that is in no way, shape or form a defense of the Obama Youth video. It is, on your own terms, an indictment of it. If you want to defend the Obama Youth video, defend it. I'd like to see you folks try.

Oh and for giggles: imagine the shrieks and howls if Rupert Murdoch had anything to do with a Children of the Corn for McCain project like this.

Update: Correction!

It's a different Jeff Zucker.

I regret the error. I stand by the revulsion at the video.

Update II: From a reader:

The kids are praying for Bush because he's the President, not because he's Bush. They could/would just as earnestly pray that Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama would appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. (God CAN work miracles, after all.)

In our (Mo. Synod Lutheran — ask Mark Hemingway about it) church, we pray for the President just about every Sunday (we don't chant and lay on hands and stuff — heck we don't even clap for the choir); we've done it for every President I can remember, which would be about LBJ onward. As Lutherans, we also don't pray for particular policy decisions, more the generic "Thy Will Be Done" thing; but in any event, this prayer (in the clip) was a prayer that the President would DO the right thing, not a prayer to the Man who IS the Right Thing.

People Will Wish That ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Was Real And Was Happening Now

As accurate a take as you're going to find.

The Fix Is In

Great Anchoress post. It inspired this comment:

All of this is extremely distressing. We know the fix is in and the media are in love with someone they don’t know. Soneone no one knows.

Obama has no history to speak of, or at least nothing he’ll willingly share — just a vague terms like community organizer and lawyer. When people start asking questions or looking into his records, they’re shouted down and threatened.

There is no one from Obama’s past that vouches for him — that stands on the stage with him and says, “I know this man. I’ve known him for most of his life. This is who is is.” We haven’t heard from any friends or acquaintances from college, high school or his working years at a law firm or as a community organizer. Those he used for background on his website, Jeremiah Wright, Father Pfleger, etc., have all been thrown under the bus because they were so unseemly. Why doesn’t that frighten people?

We don’t know his grades or his coursework because his college record is hidden. He didn’t write any law review articles even though he was elected the president of the Harvard Law Review. His law firm records are hidden. His communications from his time as an Illinois State Senator are lost.

Information that does leak out does so in publications that aren’t widely read and the media chooses to mostly ignore. But that information is alarming. His work for ACORN, his connections with Saul Alinsky disciples Ayers and McNight his profile in The Reader and his few writings like his article “After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois” offer a frightening look at what’shiding behind a seemingly pleasant demeanor.

The fix is in, and we know it because we know if a republican candidate was as far-right as Obama is far-left, the media would be apoplectic.

He is their ticket back to power, as the Anchoress noted, more than the haughty but dim John Kerry or the dull and unexceptional Al Gore. They’ve seen enough of his activist history, the history they won’t share because it’s so unpalatable, to know how he’ll use his power. So they cover his campaigning with romantic prose and let the voters project onto that pleasing outer shell whatever they want to see.

We are in for very dangerous times.

oh my. what a crisis and stuff.

dow up 4.7%, nasdaq up 5.0%. the sky is falling and we must repeat must enact socialism immediately.

No Doubt The Khmer Rouge Kids Sang Some Cute Songs, Too

Be afraid. Be very Afraid.

UPDATE: The Anchoress has a few things to say about this.



Mark Steyn


Burke's law

Peter, I always enjoy hearing Burke's admonition that a member of parliament owes his constituents his judgment rather than a spasmodic jerk to the latest opinion poll. But isn't it the case that we're in this mess because US politicians previously subordinated "the general reason of the whole" to "local interests" and "local prejudices"? That's to say, with their usual casual destructiveness dressed up in the baby talk of "diversity", they chose to turn the mortgage industry into just another branch of the affirmative-action racket. The United States government in effect decreed credit a human right rather than a privilege judiciously granted by one independent contractor to another.

Do those legislators understand the damage they did to "the general interest"? One of my problems with the "bailout" is the way it's presented not as an emergency measure to correct the stupidity of previous political interference but as evidence of the flawed nature of the market, and thus a justification for more must-pass "emergency" measures ahead. Exhibit A - President Sarkozy rejoicing in the end of "Anglo-American capitalism":

The idea of an all-powerful market without any rules and any political intervention is mad. Self-regulation is finished. Laissez faire is finished. The all-powerful market that is always right is finished.

As a general proposition, when told by unanimous elites that a particular course of action is urgent and necessary to avoid disaster, there's a lot to be said for going fishing. 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? Or look at it the other way round: Given any reasonable estimate of the number of headless chickens running around, 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.

McCain Is Angling To Lose

The Corner:

McCain: "Bipartisanship is a tough thing." [Andy McCarthy]

Since when?

What's tough is standing on principles you believe to be right even when doing so is unpopular. Bipartisanship is just a pleasant word for rationalizing tack-to-the-wind courses of action you actually believe to be wrong just so you can be in harmony with other people who are wrong. What's so hard about that?

The Right's fear of Obama is only going to get Sen. McCain so far. If he thinks he'll get the rest of the way by impressing us with his willingness to come together with the people who caused this problem, rather than leading the case that those people's policies caused the problem and demanding that those policies be changed, conservatives will stay home and Obama will win.

McCain, like most of the rest of the GOP, seems altogether unwilling to fight hard against the traitors who seek to destroy this republic. Now, why in the world would I want to go through another term or two of having to support a guy who doesn't even recognize the fight he's in? If McCain and the GOP are so altogether incapable of articulating the danger posed to this country by the crypto-Bolsheviks of the Jackass Party, and instead, seek to cooperate with them at every turn, thereby receiving only unmitigated hatred and fresh gusts of transparent propaganda as their reward, then screw it! The idea of being associated with such a bunch of losers is revolting to me. If McCain and the GOP are not going to articulate the dangers, name names, and fight them hammer and tongs, then the country will just have to receive its education the hard way. If we're going to have the country destroyed by the leftist sons of bitches without putting up a fight, then let's stop pretending and get it over with!

Prove me wrong, McCain!

I Didn’t Come To Convince Voters That I Could Be A Jeopardy Champion

What Palin ought to say (but won't).


Ever since Senator McCain made that selection, by the way, I’ve been working hard to get up to speed on foreign policy and global issues. The reason I wasn’t up to speed beforehand is that, curiously enough, I’d been focusing all my energy on doing the jobs I’d been elected to do. When I was elected mayor of Wasilla, I tried to be a good mayor. When I was elected governor of the Alaska, I tried to be a good governor. I didn’t regard either position as a stepping stone to anything else. I saw no need to go on fact-finding tours, at taxpayers’ expense, to foreign countries in an effort to bolster my geopolitical credentials for higher office...

If The Government Is Against The Very Idea Of Anyone Taking A Loss, Anywhere, At Any Time, Then We're In Serious Trouble

Charles Hugh Smith:

Here is how frequent contributor Harun I. put it this past weekend:

In his speech the other night, POTUS (President of the U.S.) warned that stocks might fall in value affecting retirement savings, house values may decline and jobs would be lost and banks would fail en masse. What he implied is that stocks can never go down again by more than a certain amount, and ditto for home values. Banks that make poor lending decisions must not be allowed to fail. In other words there can be no major downside to anything ever again without the taxpayer intervention. I would like to denounce this in some highbrow way but it needs to be called what it simply is: nuts.

As I write this I hear one of CNN's talking heads say that individuals and businesses won't be able to get loans unless we pass the bailout. No, they will be able to get loans but at much higher interest rates and for businesses that will degrade profits. For homeowners and sellers that means lower prices. (Emphasis added: CHS) Considering the distortion in prices, much lower. But the prudent will be rewarded with affordable prices and come back into the market.

Reframe the question.

What is really happening in the credit markets? The word is that there is no market for MBS. At the current prices that is true. If the entities holding these assets were to sell these assets at market prices and accept the inevitable consequences the credit markets would begin to function again. Instead they are trying to hold the economy hostage in hopes of a ransom (bailout) will be delivered that maintains as close to status quo as possible.

To be sure, the pain from all this will be severe but to think that there is an easy solution to skirt the effects of such a tremendous degree of greed and avarice is simply childish.

On a similar note, Frequent contributor U. Doran recommended this piece by Bill Fleckenstein: What's next, a ban on stock sales? Prices aren't to the government's liking, so it's changing the rules on the fly, and no one knows where or when new lines eventually will be drawn.

I spent an extraordinary amount of time last week discussing the human responses to betrayal and loss of trust. The reason is simple: these are the bedrock of human interactions and transactions which, once destroyed, cannot be rebuilt except via a painstaking, arduous, patient process of trust incrementally being earned, not bestowed.

The SEC's embrace of a ban on mark-to-market is based on an enormous fallacy: That letting banks keep fictitiously valued "assets" on their books for few years will magically enable them to make huge profits and re-capitalize via profits.

As correspondent J.F.B. has often asked: how are banks going to make money as lending and credit tighten and a recession removes the need, desire and ability to borrow? It seems all too clear: they can't make money with distressed assets which are doomed to depreciate far further, and in a recessionary era of over-extended credit and consumers.

The answer is not to enable fantasy-based accounting and then hope that worthless assets magically gain value: the answer is mark to market, and let buyers price the distressed assets. Every firm which is insolvent should be allowed to go under; buyers will appear at bankruptcy court auctions, and trust can be rebuilt, slowly and in baby-steps, with new regulators, new enterprises and new players.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pravda Is Our Future


Karl Rove's Take On The Vote And The Utter Foolishness Of The Dems

This is a must-listen.

The Onion Has The Brutal, Shocking Truth



This is more than a year old, but you've got to watch Dennis Miller go nuclear on Harry Reid.

Really Cool Modernised Icons

Of the archangels. Today is their feast day...

A Tale Of Two Candidates

Great post.

Hey Nancy, Is It A Crisis, Or Isn't It?

Great moments in leadership.

Many A Prole Will Vote Himself Out Of A Job

The Corner:

Scaling Down [Jay Nordlinger]

Wanted to share with you an arresting letter from a friend:

Just thought I’d send some thoughts from small-business America. My husband’s business is a canary in the coalmine. When tax policies are favorable to business, he hires more guys, buys more goods, etc. When he is taxed more heavily, he fires people, doesn’t buy anything new, etc. Well, duh. So, at the mere thought of a President Obama, he has paid off his debt, canceled new spending, and jotted a list of whom to “let go.”

The first of the guys will get the news tomorrow. And these are not minimum-wage earners. These are “rich” guys, making between $200,000 and $250,000 a year.

My husband will make sure that we’re okay, money-wise, but he won’t give himself a paycheck that will just be sent to Washington. He’ll make sure that he’s not in “rich guy” tax territory. So, he will not spend his money, not show a profit, and scale his workforce down to the bare minimum.

Multiply this scenario across the country and you’ll see the Obama effect: unemployment, recession, etc. No business owner will vote for this man, but many a “middle-class worker” will vote himself out of a job. Sad the Republican can’t articulate this.

I’ll say. But she did, didn’t she?

A 'No' Vote Is The Opposite Of Irresponsible

The Corner:

I respectfully dissent [Andy McCarthy]

I do not understand why those who've voted no should be labeled "irresponsible." The senate evidently will not deign to take up this crisis legislation until Wednesday. Meanwhile, even if you don't reject the bill on philosophical grounds (see e.g., Dick Armey's article on NRO today), there is massive room for improvement. Why not take the time to try to improve it?

This was a terrible bill. To take just a few particulars, why is there no reform of the government interventions that got us to this point in the first place? Why aren't Fannie and Freddie being wound down — even after we've now had to make explicit the implicit, disastrous government guarantee? Why is Pelosi saying (as I noted in an earlier post) that the authority in the bill will allow the Treasury Department (perhaps soon an Obama Treasury Department) to take bad debt off the hands of mismanaged state and local governments?

Why don't we have a firmer formula for how Paulson (or, again, an Obama Treasury Secretary) will determine the value of the toxic debt before the government starts throwing money at it. Now, I've heard all the arguments about how, for the bailout to "work," a premium above current value would have to be paid. Even if I accept that as true for argument's sake, however, are you telling me I am wrong to worry that this bill gives the Treasury Secretary unduly wide latitude to feed taxpayer money into businesses that should fail because they've been irresponsibly leveraged and utterly mismanaged?

Why does the government have to buy the securities? If liquidity is the problem, why can't it make money available for loan, taking back collateral, placing the risk on the bad actors rather than the taxpayers, and letting market set a reasonable price for the bad debt by auction and other conventional methods. Most people will pay their mortgages so these "troubled assets" still have significant value. And there are buyers out there. The troubled entities are not selling at the price the market will bear because they (understandably) think they will get a wildly inflated price from the government — once again, perverting the market: penalizing responsible actors, rewarding the bad actors who brought us to this point, and keeping those bad actors in business.

Even as this deal has been negotiated, the market is carrying on. AIG worked out an enormous loan because it was better to nationalize it than let it fail — but at least taxpayers were protected. Lehman did not get the same deal because it didn't rate it ... and it failed. WaMu and Wachovia have been swallowed by JP Morgan and Citigroup. (See David Reilly WSJ analysis discussing how the JP Morgan/WaMu deal shows the system is working.) Central banks are acting to pump liquidity into faltering institutions in Europe.

Governments are obviously fully capable of expending tens of billions in taxpayer dollars even if Congress does not pass a sweeping bill — indeed, the real cost of nationalizing Fannie/Freddie may dwarf the $700B at issue in the failed legislation. But if these gargantuan expenditures are done on a case-by-case basis, less government intervention will be necessary and what intervention we may have to have will get appropriately high levels of scrutiny — with no blank check for the Treasury. Each new incident will remind voters that the policies of the nineties and the fraud at Fannie and Freddie were significant contributors to our woes, and Democrats will obviously not like that. But that's as it should be — our elections should be a referendum on the policies of the Clintons, Obama, Dodd, Frank, et al.

Does anyone doubt the truth of the following statement in the aforementioned Armey piece today:

Granting the Treasury broad authority to buy troubled assets from private entities poses a significant threat to taxpayers and fundamentally alters the relationship between the private economy and the federal government. Despite the sweeping breadth of the proposed bailout, there is virtually nothing in the bill that addresses the underlying problems that created the housing bubble and the oversized and over-leveraged financial services sector that grew with it. Taxpayers have become Wall Street’s newest financier, with little more than a promise — and a report to Congress on “regulatory modernization” — that Congress will not let this happen again.

FWIW, I think Armey is right about this, and it scares the daylights out of me. Of course, an economic meltdown caused by a drying up of credit scares me, too. But why should I assume the latter problem is necessarily worse than the former? I understand the impulse to obsess over the pain and potential catastrophe staring us in the face, but what if the wages of drastically altering the capitalist system that has been our engine of freedom are decidedly worse?

Socialist Termites Never Quit Chewin'

Well said:

Can't you people see you're being rolled? And you're BEGGING to be rolled! That's the funniest part. You're too stupid to even realize you're not getting a reach around.

Sure, I can see Nancy Pelosi coming back with a bill that says, "We plan to sell these toxic mortgages, which are the result of people with no income, no savings, and bad credit taking out loans they cannot possibly pay to buy houses they cannot afford, and use the profits to fund groups that help people with no income, no savings, and bad credit take out loans for houses."

She really is that dumb. And I hope she does it, because if you thought the Blue Dogs were pissed today, they'll be even more so then.

Also this:

"no, we paid $1 trillion to avoid being socialized. We can make the money back. We damn well know that structural changes could be forever."

Well said. Principle is everything, or it is nothing. If you're only principled until it becomes personally painful, guess what?

You're unprincipled.

If your comfortable sinecure means so much, might as well give 'em their Living Constitution while we're at it (in return for more bread and louder circuses, of course) and have done.

And this:

The reality is that this is a game of political chicken. The problem for Pelosi is that, at the end of the day, the House Republicans hold all the cards. If she jams through a party-line vote, Democrats lose at the ballot box. She knows it, and they know it. She needs their political cover and she knows a deal needs to get done. If the House Republicans are smart, they'll make sure it's done more on their terms than hers.

And this:

This is a boy who cried wolf problem. I have lost faith in congress to the extent that I am not going to simply believe them when they tell us that we need to spend another trillion dollars. I am not going to simply believe them when their solution furthers the interest of the most socialistic liberals nor when they have tried to load it up with give-aways to ACORN and who knows who else. I am not going to simply believe them when they now essentially admit that the figure of $700,000,000 was just intend to indicate a really big number and was not intended to actually represent reality.

I am tired of being manipulated and lied to. Maybe they are right this time, I don't know, but they have lied to me too many times in the past for me to accept their word for anything. Incidentally, if you think financial collapse is bad, try a little global warming. The polar caps are melting, polar bears are drowning, and even here in the Rocky Mountains we're going to get our feet wet. If you're willing to pay $1,000,000,000,000 to keep Wall Street happy, surely $1,000,000,000,000,000 isn't too much to keep from drowning. And I know that is a real problem because they told me so.

This Is Probably About Right

Rick Moran re:Palin. The post is entitled: "‘Unleash’ Palin? Get Real". It's basically pro-Palin, but takes the line that she is highly unlikely to all of a sudden turn into a genius during interviews.

This Is The Number One Important Story Of This Election. No Wonder The Commie Media Won't Touch It.

Excellent piece, too much good stuff to excerpt.

The Perpetrators In Action

Some historical video from Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac hearings of the past. Toward the end we have Franklin Raines saying that a 2% reserve ratio (50 to 1 leverage!) is fine because the assets are "so riskless".

Much Of The Toxic Waste Is Worth Less Than Zero

Some considerations I've seen nowhere else.

A Plea For Journalism Fundamentals

A fisking as well as an exposition about what should be standard journalistic principles.


I wrote before that the headline would be fine if Palin were a fundamentalist. But even if she were (which, again for the slow readers at the LA Times, she is not) the term is not to be used because it has become pejorative. For how long has it been pejorative? Many, many decades. Get with the times. In the 1910s and 1920s, the term referred to a Christian who believed in the “fundamentals” of the faith — the Virgin Birth of Christ, his sinless life, his atoning death, his bodily resurrection and his second coming in the clouds of glory. But since that time, the term has become an insult. Everyone knows this. And just because you want to insult the governor of Alaska doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate to do so on the news pages.



But . . . but . . . what do you make of this:

Her aides say Palin’s caution at the intersection of religion and governance is a studied effort to share her beliefs without forcing them on Alaska.

“She’s obviously an intensively religious person,” said Bill McAllister, Palin’s chief spokesman as governor. “She understands that she’s the governor and not preacher in chief. Religion informs her decisions, but she is not out to impose her views on Alaska.”

Isn’t it funny how the quote from Bill McAllister in no way supports the claim Braun makes in the set-up paragraph? I’ve noticed a lot of that in Palin stories.

And then here we go again:

[John] Stein said Palin displayed only hints of her fundamentalist Assembly of God upbringing when he first backed her for a nonpartisan run for Wasilla City Council in the early 1990s.

Again, “fundamentalist” doesn’t actually mean “church whose religious views stray from the Book of Common Prayer.” It doesn’t mean “rubes who actually believe the Bible.”

Considering that Palin is the most popular governor in America, it’s funny how every story I read about her predominantly quotes her political opponents. It’s like that 80 percent of Alaskans who favor her are just more or less invisible. To that end, Braun quotes more from Stein, who, again, she defeated.

Charlie Foxtrot


The Bailout Follies: Taxpayers Will Be Forced to Buy the Bad Debt of LOCAL GOVERNMENTS [Andy McCarthy]

Orwell must be having a good laugh today. Nancy Pelosi yesterday released a summary of the bailout. Under the heading of "Protection for Taxpayers ..." Madame Speaker includes this whopper (my italics): The scheme "[a]llows the government to purchase troubled assets from pension plans, local governments, and small banks that serve low- and middle-income families."

So in addition to rewarding irresponsible lenders and borrowers, we taxpayers are now to be "protected" by buying the toxic debt of states, cities and municipalities. It's one thing to throw a life-line to the credit industry; local governments, by contrast, have the ability to cut spending drastically or raise taxes if their inhabitants want government services. Elected politicians are then accountable for runaway spending and mismanagement. If Detroit or Chicago is sinking because of big-government policies, that's what the citizens of those cities asked for by voting for Democrats year in and year out. Why should the rest of us be on the hook for that?

Basically, the agreement struck over the weekend with key participation from many of the guiltiest politicos provides no mechanism for valuing the debt that Americans are being asked to assume; places few meaningful limits on the public/private recklessness we will be forced to underwrite; would go into effect right before an election which, if Obama wins, would turn management of the bailout over to a new, big-government administration; and protects not the taxpayers but the defaulters to whom Democrats compelled the banks to extend credit beginning in the nineties (lighting the fuse for today's big bang), while responsible borrowers are denied what would otherwise be available credit and a more honest housing market.

Other than that, it's a great deal.

Ruin your local economy through the reckless choice of voting Democrat. Get bailed out. Rinse. Repeat.

What a bunch of crypto-Bolshevik traitors these guys are.

More Indicators Of A Monumental Scam


Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve will pump an additional $630 billion into the global financial system, flooding banks with cash to alleviate the worst banking crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed increased its existing currency swaps with foreign central banks by $330 billion to $620 billion to make more dollars available worldwide. The Term Auction Facility, the Fed's emergency loan program, will expand by $300 billion to $450 billion. The European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan are among the participating authorities.

The Fed's expansion of liquidity, the biggest since credit markets seized up last year, comes as Congress prepares to vote on a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry. The crisis is reverberating through the global economy, causing stocks to plunge and forcing European governments to rescue four banks over the past two days alone.

I swear, this congressional bailout is a $700B smokescreen to draw attention away from the real perpetrators. If the Fed can do all of this with zero authorization and oversight, then why the asinine circus in Congress?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Community Organizers" Just Cost You $1 Trillion. Can You Afford To Put A "Community Organizer" In The White House?

Great blog post about the message McCain needs to communicate. Probably he won't. If not he'll deserve to lose. A party that cannot point out the blame that is so intensely warranted is a party that is of no use to America.

Heads Up

Important safety tip.

SNL Did A Pretty Decent Job With Their Skits

You can see them here. The third one (Clinton) is quite amusing. Interestingly the second one (McCain/Obama) does more to slam Obama for his sleazy Chicago connections than any MSM news outlet has ever done. And the first is an all-too-accurate spoof of the Palin/Couric interview. Sarahcuda had better get her interview mojo working soon, because it's been pretty wretched so far. I was fairly dispirited about this yesterday, but after having a look at the interview she did with Maria Bartiromo just before she was nominated, I know she's a lot sharper than she's lately been able to project. If she doesn't fix this soon, she's toast. Basically she needs to control the interview process, explain that she can't possibly know every detail they might want to ask her about at this point, state clearly what her general outlook and philosophy is, and name names on the other side. Screw the policy-wonkery gotcha stuff. There's no reason she needs to play that game. She doesn't really need to answer the questions put to her, but does need to use the time she's given to expound on general principles. I'm surprised that Republicans continue to be incapable of using a two-by-four where it's needed. Why don't any of them say something along these lines:

"You know, I've got a lot I'm going to need to learn about the finer details of foreign policy. However, I will tell you this. I can promise the American people that they can count on me to never do the outrageous things done by the Democrats in the last eight years. If you vote, as the Democrats did, to authorize a war, then Katie, that means you are all in. Under no circumstances after committing American troops should you start to bellyache in public that it was all a big mistake, and that the only option left is to lose. Such a thing is entirely disgraceful. You cannot pull the rug out from under the country like this. It demoralizes our men and women in combat, emboldens our enemies to wait us out, discourages the Iraqis from bravely stepping up to defend their country and build up their society, and sends a message all over the world, to both our enemies and allies, that America cannot really be counted on. As I just said it is a disgrace, and it's one of the many reasons I'm not a Democrat. I could just never go along with that kind of defeatism, that kind of cowardice, or that kind of treachery. Next question?"

I don't know what it is with Republicans. They are far too afraid to say what needs saying, and are hence part of the problem.

This Is Lots Of Fun! Oh, Uhhh, I Mean It's A Serious Crisis!

Two photos seen at The Corner. Both from the NYT, who replaced the earlier one with the later one. You know, to more accurately portray the gravity of the situation.




Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bill Whittle

Has another good'un.

John Shadegg On The Bailout


Is a bailout necessary to save the economy at this point from complete collapse — from a major failure of multiple institutions at the same time?

I think that’s the most difficult question that could be posed under these circumstances, and it’s the question that I have struggled all week to find the answer to. I have talked to a lot of smart people who know Wall Street, know banking, know the economy quite well, and you hear different opinions. Some will tell you that it is absolutely essential. Quite frankly, I’m skeptical about that.

But I think that in some ways the question doesn’t matter any more. Because Secretary Paulson chose to raise the matter in the way he did — that is, to go public in a very high-profile way, not just with his concern, but with a kind of Chicken-Little, the-sky-is-falling kind of demand — it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That is to say, once the secretary of the Treasury announces to the world that there is a pending financial collapse, perhaps as great as the Great Depression, and Congress must act — he has sent a signal that essentially tells world markets that Congress must act. I will tell you that has been one of the most frustrating things about this since the very beginning...

I can’t tell you how many members of Congress were stunned at that news, and were stunned that none of their local bankers were calling them. And then they called their local bankers, as I called my local bankers, and my local bankers said, “I think things are just fine.” I 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.”

So, at that point, there’s a disconnect. Secretary Paulson is claiming that this is a catastrophe of generational proportions that could go worldwide. And none of what we were hearing back home matches that. And I’m not speaking just for myself, but also for many of my colleagues who were making similar calls. They weren’t being called by their bankers, or by any of the businesses back home saying, “I can’t borrow any money”.... If, in fact, Paulson had struck a chord with the American banking community, wouldn’t you think that 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, that my community bankers in Arizona wouldn’t have been picking up the phone by Monday morning, if not over the weekend, to say that “I share the Secretary’s concerns”?

The proposal for an FDIC-style agency that is funded by Wall Street sufficient to solve the current crisis — is it necessary?

I think it is a dramatically better vehicle than what Mr. Paulson proposed. And if he is absolutely convinced that is not sufficient, then it’s his job to step forward now and show that he has actually listened to the proposal and make the case for why it isn’t sufficient. Do I know if it’s necessary? ... Now that Paulson has made the assertion that we are in deep trouble, he in fact has to send the signal that we are taking the potential of the serious troubles seriously... He has not done a very good job of making his case, he has not had people rallying to his side, saying he’s absolutely right... If you’re in the banking business now and you’re a lender, you’re going to say “Wow, Paulson says the government has got to get involved... I guess I’ll wait until I see what the government involvement is going to be.” And so there may have been some restriction in lending this week. And I’m inclined to believe that’s because Secretary Paulson said there’s a problem...

According to the polls I’ve seen, the public opposes the bailout — it could be an issue as powerful as the drilling issue... Does it also give you a way to distance yourself from President Bush?

I certainly want to distance myself from him on this issue, anyway. Look — President Bush has a tendency to surround himself with smart people, and to trust them... Secretary Paulson earned that trust, evidently. And in this case, I would say he has abused that trust. And you can put that on the record.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Console Myself With This Fact: They Are Merely Storing Up Wrath For Themselves On The Day Of Judgment







Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Republican Senator Jim DeMint:

Now, do you support the bailout?

No, I don't support it and I probably won't support it in any form. It should not have come to this. We knew this was coming and we didn't do anything about it. For years, a number of people, John McCain is one, have tried to change this system, but the Democrats have consistently protected Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- and some Republicans have been complicit in this easy credit game that we had going.

What I am trying to do is to cause enough anger and uproad through blogs, radio talk shows, and TV interviews that I am doing so that people will at least get their congressmen and senators to listen to some kind of alternative to what's been proposed that would keep us within the constitutional framework that we've sworn to uphold.

We can't have the government buying parts of companies, buying stocks, mortgages, selling those in the markets, and becoming a real player in the financial markets. We could do the same thing they're trying to do with insurance products, loan guarantees, things that have been used before with banks that assure the value of their assets, so they continue to do business. We can even get the banks to pay for that insurance -- but apparently, Secretary Paulson has promised Wall Street that we're going to come in and buy their assets at above market rates so they can come out like bandits.

The problem we have here is that by the government essentially promising to come in and do that, it is causing the credit markets to seize up. They're waiting for a government infusion of funds. They're waiting for the government to buy at a higher market rate, so they're not operating and credit is closing down in America. It's a self fulfilling prophecy...

A Video That Needs To Be Seen And Shared

I wonder if our betters at Google will censor it?

H/T The Anchoress.

Even Obama Doesn't Seem To Be Buying The Idea Of Destroying The Very Idea Of "Secured Debt"

Dick Durbin attempts an act of piracy that looks like it will be defeated. It's actually quite frightening the number of awful ideas with potentially devastating consequences that are now being floated.

Lifeboats Shifted From Steerage To First Class

Great rant.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What He Said

Seen in a comment at Ace Of Spades:

Rep. McCotter's (R-Mich) Forceful Rebuke of Bailout Plan on House Floor

Before I was elected to Congress we used to hear that when faced with a crisis, members of Congress would invariably soil themselves, throw money at the problem and hope that it went away.

Unfortunately, in these dysfunctional economic times, we find that this process has continued.

As Americans face a potential meltdown of the financial sector, we have seen what I believe to be an inappropriate response starting with this Administration.

From the time we were informed that a potential financial meltdown was going to occur, this separate equal branch of government which is the U.S. Congress was told that we had but one alternative and that if we did not pass it quickly — in the time specified *by* the executive branch — that our economy would be severely damaged.

It has been my opinion that we were elected, by the sovereign people of the United States, to make important decisions on their behalf, to do it with the due diligence and devotion that is due and to come up with a positive solution to their situation.

Last night, I was struck by the fact that again we were told [by the President] that again if we did not give unlimited amounts of money and unlimited powers to the Executive Branch that *we* were failing in our due diligence and responsibilities to the American people.

I heard the President of the United States say that we do not understand the need to act.

That statement is false. We understand the need to act.

We heard from the President of the United States that we did not care about American families.

That statement is false. We care very much about American families.

What we did not hear was a recognition that a three-page document that gives to the Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve powers — the likes of which Stalin and Mao killed people for — was not an acceptable response to give to this separate, equal branch of government.

Today, we are told that House Republicans are standing in the way of a $700 billion use of your tax dollars to bail out the very people who caused this problem!

Guilty as charged!

House Republicans believe there is an alternative.

The Administration tells us that their first, last, only resort is to go to the taxpayers and bail out Wall Street. We fundamentally disagree with this!

Wall Street should bail out Wall Street.

House Republicans believe that the toxic assets clogging up our economy should first attempt to be recapitalized by the very people sitting on the sidelines with their money waiting for you the taxpayer to be fleeced and put it in so they are “confident that the market will work”.

We can not re-inflate the bubble.

The people who on Main Street invested and saved and had good credit their entire lives should not be asked to go back in to help cowboy capitalists who shot themselves in the foot.

I have supported the President when he has been correct.

But he is in err now.

House Republicans stood and supported the Patreus surge.

Today House Republicans oppose the Paulson splurge so we can have prosperity in America in the long run.

We will not engage in a rush to judgment that destroys the possibility of the free market and prosperity for decades to come.

We will not walk out of this room after a forced vote waving a piece of paper in our hands claiming “fleeced in our time.”

We *will* do the job we were entrusted with.

Bye-Bye WaMu. Oh, And California Median Home Price Is Down 41%.



The Implicit Message Of The MSM: Democrat Corruption Is About As Newsworthy As The Sky Being Blue

The Corner:

Obama's Garden Grant [Jonathan Adler]

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the Illinois attorney general is investigating a $100K government grant tied to Obama:

A $100,000 state grant for a botanic garden in Englewood that then-state Sen. Barack Obama awarded in 2001 to a group headed by a onetime campaign volunteer is now under investigation by the Illinois attorney general amid new questions, prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports, about whether the money might have been misspent.

The garden was never built. And now state records obtained by the Sun-Times show $65,000 of the grant money went to the wife of Kenny B. Smith, the Obama 2000 congressional campaign volunteer who heads the Chicago Better Housing Association, which was in charge of the project for the blighted South Side neighborhood.

I'm sure the Washington Post and New York Times will devote as much time to this story as they did to Gov. Palin's per diems and her involvement with the Wasilla public library. (roflol)

One Guy Led The Charge, One Guy Had To Be Summoned

Ed Morrissey.

McCain Is The Only One With Enough Guts To Take Ownership Of A Solution

The Anchoress has something of a mea culpa post about misjudging McCain yesterday.

Lots of good stuff, including pointing out that the execrable Harry Reid said:

"We need, now, the Republicans to start producing some votes for us. We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do."

And pointing out that Harry Reid showed no particular interest in what the so-called "leader" of his party, Barack Obama, might have to contribute.

She highlights this Ed Morrissey quote:

"Notice that Reid never demanded leadership from the Democratic nominee for President. I guess he already knows that would be a futile request."

One Of The Guys Was Completely Dispensable

Good analysis of what the financial crisis tells us about the two candidates.


A politician can declare that he is a leader. His political party can declare that he's a leader. And hundreds of thousands of acolytes around the world can swoon devotedly at his feet, and he can rack up all the trappings of leadership. But none of that in fact makes him into a leader if he actually isn't one.

Crises reveal, make, and define leaders. When the crisis is over, it's easy to recognize in hindsight who the leader was, even if there was some doubt as to that during the crisis itself. Looking back, we can recognize a leader because he's the one who the other potential actors and decision-makers actually followed.


What's already abundantly clear in this crisis, however, without the need for any hindsight, is that Barack Obama has failed to lead.

Indeed, when the crisis engulfed them, those who've had the best first-hand opportunity since January 2005 to watch him try to do his job — his fellow senators, even the leaders of his own party who mouth the words about him being "the next President of the United States" and the hope of a new generation — didn't call a halt to everything and send out a plea for his personal presence in Washington. Their actions and in particular, this inaction, shows that they know in their hearts that Obama is no real leader. They know he's simply a well-cut, slick, but empty suit onto which the trappings of leadership have been projected. And when it comes to putting their own careers, their own modest places in history, on the line, they certainly didn't look to him for guidance.

The only reason for Obama's abrupt 180-degree pivot today was to provide his campaign and his party with a fig leaf: Now they can pretend that both his and McCain's presence and participation in Washington were essential to the striking of any deal. To do otherwise would be to cede the election to McCain outright.

Nevertheless: Except for the sole purpose of maintaining his campaign's dignity, Barack Obama is today the single most dispensable member of Congress.

That doesn't mean McCain will win in November. But it means that he should.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Henry Payne has an "old-school" but wacky style:

A Game Of Chicken?

Arnold Kling:

I am concerned that the bailout might be the cause of the problem that it purports to solve.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson described the problem as follows:

The underlying weakness in our financial system today is the illiquid mortgage assets that have lost value as the housing correction has proceeded. These illiquid assets are choking off the flow of credit that is so vitally important to our economy. When the financial system works as it should, money and capital flow to and from households and businesses to pay for home loans, school loans and investments that create jobs. As illiquid mortgage assets block the system, the clogging of our financial markets has the potential to have significant effects on our financial system and our economy.

The heavy use of the plumbing metaphor almost makes one picture Paulson with his pants riding down a couple inches, leaning over a financial toilet bowl. It is clogged with unwanted securities backed by mortgages, supposedly because the sellers cannot find any buyers.

However, the market could be clogged because the prospects for a bailout are destroying the motivation to sell mortgage securities. If you sell this week and take a big loss, you will look pretty stupid if there is a bailout next week where comparable securities fetch much higher prices.

It could be that a Congressional rejection of the bailout proposal, rather than clogging the markets, will unclog them. If Congress goes home having sent financial institutions a clear signal that there will be no bailout of any kind, then sellers will bring their securities to market, and we will find out what the market thinks they are worth...

Moral hazard never ends when the government is involved.

Great Rant Against The Paulson Plan By A Democrat

The Ministry Of Truth

Excellent manifesto against the MSM stripping us of our Republic.


I’ve noted before that we are now fighting an all out ideological war for the survival of the democratic republic. In fact, I’ve been making this same argument for years now: when the press, under the cover of “objectivity,” is allowed to function as an advocacy arm for a particular ideology and its titular representatives, what follows is a necessary skewing of facts — and a carefully constructed attempt to frame “stories” with “lessons” that the public will interpret “correctly” (according to those attempting to teach the lessons from the perspective of their own personal advocacy).

This is not hyperbole: a free society relies on a free press to inform. That the mainstream press leans demonstrably left is not the problem in and of itself; the problem arises when that demonstrable bias is given cover as “objective,” and when those who believe they are basing their support for a candidate or platform on objective reporting are in effect doing no such thing, but are rather being coaxed, prodded, directed, and manipulated — in everything from what comes to count as newsworthy to, in cases like these, shoddy reporting (which may or may not be intentional), the effect of which is to leave those who rely on the media literally less informed than had the media reported nothing at all.

A free society cannot run this way. If information is power, those who control the information and its mainstream dissemination are in a position to act as the most important swing vote in any election. That the press has given up, at this late stage (and despite declines in readership and public trust), any serious attempt to report objectively suggests that we are now quite immersed in a battle for the very principles of a democratic republic.


For my part, I’d just like to again reiterate that, should the press be allowed to comport itself this way under the current mythology that it is dedicated to “objectivity,” then every election will be necessarily skewed — if not by Evan Thomas’ infamous 15 percentage points, then at least by a number significant enough that it could very well be the deciding factor in every major election.

At which point, we’re dealing with no more than simulacrums of free elections, and the idea that we live in a democratic republic is but a useful fiction we tell ourselves as we slide ever more toward western European socialism and away from the principles this country was founded upon.

It's Basically The Same As What They Did With AIG, But With Fries

Good satire.

Dropping the MOAB

An argument in favor of the Mother Of All Bailouts:

Just now, Chairman Ben Bernanke said "This is a matter for psychology."

I was a Psych major, and a pro trader. I can speak to this.

We should talk about the crisis of confidence at work here; that too often gets lost in the noise. Ultimately, there's no "real" price for anything. Not even gold.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wants $700 billion - a number that says "The government is going to take this entire problem down, all at once."

If you do it $150 billion at a time, the Treasury will end up with more than $700 billion on its books. $700 billion is intended to get guys like Warren Buffett to step in - guys who'll be thinking, "No sense letting the government sop up the excess returns generated by holding these things to maturity; I'll buy them myself, before the morons from Treasury get here."Minyanville's Why Wall Street Will Never Be the Same

$700 billion is a bazooka. If you arm your Treasury Secretary at all, you give him a bazooka, rather than a BB gun, precisely because you don't want him to have to shoot.

A BB gun invites invasion. A bazooka makes a point. I'm not in favor of government intervention at this point, but, if it's going to happen, it should happen big. That $700 billion was shooting for a comprehensive solution.

For the people selling, the difference between Congress going for the whole megillah or doing it in tranches is this: In tranches, every block that gets used up makes it less likely that another one is coming (because you gotta go back to Congress to beg some more). In effect, the government would eliminate a certain block of toxic assets but, in so doing, would make the rest of the group even more toxic (and therefore less likely to be backstopped by the government, and still untouchably by private hands).

If the government lays out all $700 billion, the last asset sold should, in theory, be at the same price or more expensive than the first. The illusion of the "holdouts" rising in value will, in theory, inspire private equity to get on board.

If the government does this in tranches, there will be literally no end to the outflow. If they do it in one, enormous, statement-making block, it's possible the system will start running again.

Either one hurts, but these are your choices, as a taxpayer: Do you want to get shot by a BB gun 10,000 times, or once by a bazooka? Now consider the same choice - but with the possibility that choosing the bazooka means there's a remote chance you won't get shot at all.

It would seem "Letting the Actual Criminals Get Shot" isn't a choice anymore. That being the case, I'll take the bazooka - and hope that I'll get lucky and escape being blasted at all.

Interesting Take



Remember in math, when they gave you a very complex looking figure and told you to find the area. The grunts in class would try to figure out all the many angles and tally up the area inside the figure. This almost always leads to careless errors or too little time to solve the problem given a limited test-taking time. The implicit lesson was to draw a regular figure (most often a rectangle) around the complex figure, calculate its easy-to-compute area, and subtract the areas that constituted the difference between the two figures. Voila... easy, fast, elegant and accurate.

I think the same lesson can be applied to credit default swaps. Instead of asking the obvious, complex, and obscuring question, "What value DO they have?", one should ask the elegant and simple question, "What value COULD they have?" Even a cursory examination would seem to indicate that the answer is either zero or less-than-zero. This comes from the interaction between debts and fees. In practice the greater the debt serviced (again concocted as if it had value), the greater the fee that would accrue in real terms to servicers. (Again this debt is curiously cast as an asset, often in ways that were supported by nothing other than increasing ostensible future returns that assumed unlimited resources and continuing ability to pay. One would have hoped that the dot.com bubble would have laid to rest the notion of hyped future returns as a good basis to assign value. )

Now we go to the 70 trillion dollar credit default swap market of last year. If only 1 to 2 percent "service fee" were charged in these transactions (which are based on illusory assets), we're talking nearly three-quarters to one-and-a-half trillion dollars in real term fees being siphoned off (i.e. hijacked from) the global economy for no productive, but merely parasitic, purpose. If these fees are attached to phony assets, as I have propounded, than that means a net loss of, say, a trillion dollars of capital taken right out of the system. No wonder we have a liquidity crisis.

Here is how the scam seems to work. Insure credit default with inadequate capital, assuming the market will always go up. I've heard actual figures quoted in articles I've read that fly-by-night operations were insuring billions of dollars of debt in major banks with only millions of dollars of collateral. So we're talking a tenth of a percent reserve, not ten percent, and the more exotic instruments apparently had no reserve or used the reserve to leverage other risky investments. As the market goes up, everybody's happy. Everybody appears to be making a killing, much like a pyramid scheme... as long as you can get the next person to pay. So now someone defaults in real terms, make that several million people. There aren't anything but IOUs in the system that have been treated as assets and capital. There is no money.

This is why I say that toxic assets may be toxic, but they are not assets, and that they have zero value and likely actually less-than-zero value. If I have insured against loss with only a tenth-of-a-percent reserve, and yet I am charging a percent or two per year for my services, I'm actually charging ten times more than I can actually pay out in case of a default. I guarantee you that those fees were not going into the reserve but into the pockets of the servicers.

Bill Gross Makes His Case

The bailout doesn't sound so bad on these terms. If these, are in fact the terms. But, listening to Paulson, Bernanke, and our politicians, I would have no way of knowing that these are, in fact, the terms. Are they the terms? If so, why isn't anyone in charge saying so? All concerned have earned my complete lack of trust!

There's A Case To Be Made That The Morons Who Elected All These Bozos Do Deserve Some Substantial Pain

Ed Morrissey:

[T]he fact is that this mess is not just of Wall Street’s making [see update below]. Right now, Congress is doing its level best to pretend it had nothing to do with this failure, and Chris Dodd — as the chair of the committee that was supposed to exercise oversight on this industry — is spinning the fastest. The more Congress can shove the blame entirely onto Wall Street, the better off it looks, but that’s simply not the case.

The heart of this failure came from a mandate by members of Congress from both parties that demanded easier loan terms for marginally-qualified buyers. At first, this meant working-class families, but it also resulted in easier terms all the way through to the highest income levels. Lower qualifiers meant more buyers, and buyers buying bigger houses. The net effect of this was to create a much higher demand for housing and for mortgages.

How did these get structured? The trouble came when people stopped providing solid down payments to ensure equity from the start of the loan. They got adjustable-rate mortgages for loans they couldn’t afford, betting that the quickly-rising price of housing would continue its trajectory and magically give them enough equity by the time the ARMs adjusted so that they could refinance their loans to something affordable. And for a few years, that’s exactly what happened — and so more and more people followed that example.

This produced two other effects. First, the government had Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sponsor many of these questionable loans and convert them into investment products, which essentially infected the entire investment community with massive, poorly-secured loans. Second, the demand touched off a residential building boom as people attempted to provide inventory for the massive amount of buyers coming into the market.

Unfortunately, this created a big Ponzi scheme, one dictated by Congress and two administrations. It only worked as long as housing prices continued to increase. When the bubble finally popped late last year, it was analogous to the margin calls of 1929, only in slow motion. Once homeowners realized that their houses would not increase in value, they knew that they were stuck in ARMs that they wouldn’t be able to afford. The defaults would not just sink the banks but also the investors who bought the securities.

Who created this Ponzi scheme? Congress did. Who demanded lower qualifiers for home mortgages and then insisted on having Fannie/Freddie turn them into investments to support the lenders? Congress did. The lenders share the responsibility as well, but without Fannie/Freddie making their bad lending decisions profitable, they would never have jumped into the sub-prime market with the kind of enthusiasm they did. Now Congress wants to leave them holding the bag and all the blame — and that’s pretty convenient for Congress.

DeMint gets closer to the truth here than Shelby. Congress didn’t demand that Chrysler build K-cars and other lousy models and poor business practices that led to their bad performance, which is why Congress shouldn’t have had anything to do with the Chrysler bailout. That doesn’t apply here. DeMint, though, rightly points out that this is actually Bailout v4.0 in this crisis, and versions 1-3 didn’t solve the problem.

Taxpayers don’t want to be on the hook for the credit-market failure, but in the end, we’re responsible for Congress. Not many objected when home loans got so plentiful and our home equity skyrocketed over the last ten years. We need a responsible, market-based plan that undoes the damage our Congress created, and that means we’re going to have to shoulder some of the burden in the short term to make it happen. That’s our penalty for letting Congress run wild, and it should result in a lesson learned for the American taxpayer that, in Robert Heinlein’s words, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. The plan should have accountability for those running it, and it should include a plan to completely dismantle the government’s reach into private lending markets permanently.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jerry Pournelle

Does a great job explaining the Wall Street debacle.





Nigerians Are More Honest

A perfect parody.

"Had This Been Palin, The Election Would Now Be Over"

But it isn't. It's Biden. And he is a Democrat with more experience. VDH:

And the Media Worries about Palin's Experience and McCain's Age?

I think in the space of about the last 24 hours, Joe Biden claimed that the AIG bailout was bad, but then said it wasn't bad;

that we did not need to burn coal;

that his apology about the dirty McCain ad was, as they say, inoperative;

that FDR once went on television to address the nation after the stock market crash of '29 (that's a twofer that trumps Obama's Americans liberating Auschwitz);

and all but said that McCain took a $50,000 bribe.

Not a bad day's work — encompassing terrible energy policy, flip-flopping, historical ignorance, and slander. And this comes on top of Palin the "good looking" "Lt. Governor" of Alaska, Hillary as the better VP pick than himself, the patriotism of paying higher taxes, and so on.

And those in turn come on top of the primary remarks about Indians in donut shops, and "bright and clean" blacks. And those in turn come on top of . . . (Well, go back to the pilfered speeches and made-up bios.)

Something is very wrong here. While most forgive the silly slip like "Barack America" or asking the wheel-chair bound to stand up, I think the Obama staff must have gone from amusement to embarrassment and now to serious concern whether Biden is up to the job.

Had this been Palin, the election would now be over.

Here's a clip
of Biden talking about President Roosevelt going on television in 1929, which would be before he was president, and before there was television available.

Why So Vapid, Hesitant, And Gutless?

Because being "front man" is a far different thing than being "head man". Cogent post at Ace of Spades.


Think of it like this: every time Obama says "uh" on camera, what he's really doing is flinching from the possibility that his campaign manager, David Plouffe, is going to whack him on the nose with a newspaper. Again. Hence the stutter.

Hitch writes that he's getting the feeling that Obama is a little scared of winning this contest. And why wouldn't he be? After two years of dancing to his minders' tune, being reduced to a mouthpiece for smarter, more experienced and more ambitious men and women, he can look forward to at least four more! This is an understandable fear.

But Obama's also feeling what a child feels after he has climbed into Daddy's truck and turned it on, believing that he's seen Daddy do it so many times that he can do it too. The Obama campaign truly has been the campaign of hope: as in, "I hope I can do this." Things are rolling now, but it's just starting to dawn on him that maybe he doesn't know as well as he thought how to control this thing. He's more likely to come to a screeching, crunching, grinding stop than to make a graceful finish.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Can You Spot The Difference?


What A Doof


VDH Examines Wisdom

Good stuff.

Don't Confuse Us With The Facts


Who lacks health insurance in America?

According to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans officially classified as uninsured in 2007 was 45.7 million. This figure is being used, naturally, to promote the case for radical "reform" that in practice would amount to a government takeover of the health care industry.

However, Sally Pipes, in her Sunday Examiner column, shows that the 45.7 million uninsured figure is misleading as a barometer of the state of health insurance coverage in the U.S. She identifies four groups within that figure: (1) people who will quickly transfer from one insurance plan to another, (2) illegal immigrants, (3) individuals who make more than $50,000 a year but who elect not to purchase health insurance (usually because they are young and healthy), and (4) individuals who are eligible for government assistance with their health care through programs like Medicaid and SCHIP, but who do not avail themselves of that assistance.

According to Pipes, if one subtracts these people from the 45.7 million figure, the number drops to approximately 8 million. If one adds back in those who make between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, the figure is roughly 16 million.

These numbers provide a much more realistic sense of whether and to what extent we face a crisis in health care coverage. They should also point the way to the most reasonable solutions to what indisputably is at least a problem. Those solutions do not include socialized medicine.

Let's Get Back At Palin By Killing More Babies!

A couple of things from the latest Impromptus:

Have a reader letter: “The same liberals who become apoplectic at the thought that some CIA/NSA cube-dweller may be sifting through Osama bin Laden’s e-mail without a warrant are perfectly blasé about what happened to Palin. How can that be? Would the waterboarding of Sarah be okay, too?”

That could be a real quandary.


A woman received an e-mail whose Subject line was “Brilliant Strategy.” And this is what the e-mail said (there’s a follow-up, so stay tuned):

Dear Friends:

We may have thought we wanted a woman on a national political ticket, but the joke has really been on us, hasn’t it? Are you as sick in your stomach as I am at the thought of Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States?

Since Palin gave her speech accepting the Republican nomination for the Vice Presidency, Barack Obama’s campaign has raised over $10 million. Some of you may already be supporting the Obama campaign financially; others of you may still be recovering from the primaries. None of you, however, can be happy with Palin’s selection, especially given on her positions on women’s issues.

So, if you feel you can’t support the Obama campaign financially, may I suggest the following fiendishly brilliant alternative? Make a donation to Planned Parenthood. In Sarah Palin’s name. A Planned Parenthood donation is tax deductible, while a political donation isn’t.

And here’s the good part: When you make a donation to PP in her name, they’ll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor.

And this is what our correspondent wrote (to me):

Imagine getting this e-mail. Imagine telling women to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah’s name so that she’ll get a card. Her crime, of course, is that she has chosen life, that she is self-made, and that she has a beautiful family. And she’s happy.

As a woman who was a liberal on Long Island before 9/11 made me rethink things and Mark Steyn’s America Alone hammered it home, I’ll tell you what is spurring some of the most intense hatred from the sisterhood: Sarah makes them remember their own choices, i.e., their abortions, their commitment to self over family, to self over country, to self over God.

But the first one, well, that’s the kicker — we liberal gals were so blasé about abortions back in the day. Now we look at Sarah and think, “What if?” So . . . college would have been deferred a few years, and we ended up divorced from our first husbands anyway, so maybe a shotgun marriage that resulted in our true firstborn wouldn’t have been so bad, and are we really so happy now?”

The Plot Thickens

Caught red-handed, they destroy the evidence.

I'd Have Been 100% Behind You If You'd Just Invaded This Other Country!

Jay Nordlinger:

A New, Specious Line

For Impromptus today, I scribbled a great many items and thoughts. But there is an item I meant to include, but forgot about. May I lay it on you here? It has to do with Sarah Palin (wouldn’t you know?).

A new Democratic line has formed — it has shown up in my mail, and in opinion pieces. It is this: “Listen, we would have been all right with another vice-presidential nominee: a Romney, a Ridge, a Pawlenty, a Hutchison. They are all mature politicians. They have all been vetted. They are all unquestionably qualified for the vice-presidency. But McCain tried to get cute, foisting a novel, hickish dunce on the country.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m sure they would have been just fine with any of those other picks. I can hear them now: “Why did we get just another Republican hack — just the same-old, same-old? I mean, McCain could have done something bold and creative! For instance, how about Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska? How about thinking outside the box? She’s a reformer, she’s independent-minded. She took on the Republican establishment in her state. She shook things up. She has broad bipartisan support. She’s not part of the old boys’ network. But maybe that is precisely the problem: Can you imagine the GOP putting a woman on the ticket?”

It’s kind of like invading a country: You always invaded the wrong one; you should have invaded this other one, or taken some kind of action against it. Then you would have had the support of the whole country.

I think of something else, too: When Bush 41 was president, liberal pundits said, “If only he were a sensible, decent Republican, like his father.” In fact, 41 had to defend himself against this line, at a press conference — saying, “I think my dad would be proud of me.” (I believe those were his exact words.) And then when W. became president, it was, “Oh, if only he were a sensible, decent Republican, like his father.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Look: They think Palin’s stupid. That’s the thing. It always comes down to that. And, as I note in today’s Impromptus, they always say that — almost always say that, about conservative political leaders. Check it out, and think about it.

Yup. Every last conservative who proves to be an effective threat is a stupid yet brilliant incarnation of the devil, and a Nazi to boot. And to an angry three year old, everyone's a poopyhead.

Look In The Mirror


We Have Met the Enemy and He Is...? [Victor Davis Hanson]

In the sudden rush to blame the crooks in DC and on Wall Street, we should first take a long look in the mirror. For two decades, we — as in we Americans — expected to buy homes, flip them, and walk away with thousands — without much thought about what might happen to the johnny-come-lately at the bottom of the pyramid when the game was finally up and housing prices cooled or crashed. Walking away from a mortgage on a house with negative equity was "smart;" putting someone in one who had no ability to come up with a down payment, monthly payments, taxes, and maintenance was "fair"; borrowing unduly against equity for cash expenditures was "understandable."

We deified the masters of hedge funds, derivatives, and subprime mortgages, forgetting that passé oil production, mining, farming, manufacturing, engineering and construction were the real sources of our material wealth.

We assumed mega-returns on our portfolios, without a thought what Wall Street did to get them, or the effect on others who needed to borrow at such high interest to run their businessess.

Ours became a culture that wanted larger cars but less drilling to fuel them, more stuff and more credit from — and more anger at — the Chinese; less taxes but even more government hand-outs; ever more electricity, but fewer icky coal and nuclear plants — and always more health-care, education-care, prescription drug-care, housing-care, and always less care how to pay for it.

So by all means let us prosecute the lawbreakers, finger-point at the enablers, lecture the stupid, but at least spare us the sanctimonious "they" did this to poor "us." If there were not a Senate Banking Chairman like Chris Dodd without shame cozing up to the creeps at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, or a Richard Fuld playing casino roulette with someone else's money, we would have had to invent them.

We should argue over the course of Paulson's unpleasant chemotherapy to deal with these symptoms of a metastasizing disease, but let us at least consider what were the catalysts for that deeper cancer.

The McCain Campaign Knows The Times

The Corner:

The McCain Campaign and the Times [Byron York]

Top McCain campaign officials have just finished a conference call to unveil a new ad, called "Chicago Machine," which highlights ties between Barack Obama and Tony Rezko, William Daley, Emil Jones, and Rod Blagojevich. The ad, the officials say, will air nationally and "across the depth and breadth of the battleground states." Among other topics covered in the call, campaign officials Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt were asked about a story in the New York Times concerning Davis' role in an advocacy group that included Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Davis defended himself, while Schmidt discussed the Times:

Let me first say we are First Amendment absolutists on this campaign. The press and anybody who wishes to cover this race from a blogosphere perspective or from a media perspective is of course constitutionally protected with regard to writing whatever they want to write.

But let's be clear and be honest with each other about something fundamental to this race, which is this: Whatever the New York Times once was, it is today not by an standard a journalistic organization. It is a pro-Obama advocacy organization that every day attacks the McCain campaign, attacks Sen. McCain, attacks Gov. Palin, and excuses Sen. Obama. There is no level of public vetting with regard to Sen. Obama's record, his background, his past statements. There is no level of outrage directed at his deceitful ads. This is an organization that is completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate, which is their prerogative to be, but let's not be dishonest and call it something other than what it is. Everything that is read in the New York Times that attacks this campaign should be evaluated by the American people from that perspective, that it is an organization that has made a decision to cast aside its journalistic integrity and tradition to advocate for the defeat of one candidate, in this case John McCain, and advocate for the election of the other candidate, Barack Obama.

Let's Target The Losses To The Correct Parties

Open letter to the U.S. Congress.

Short Sellers Are Just The Messengers

Bill Fleckenstein:

I continue to see arguments that short-sellers and the no-uptick rule can ruin companies. Lehman is a perfect example of how that is not the case. Lehman's books were shown to virtually every person on the planet older than 16 with more than 50 bucks in his pocket, and nobody wanted it. People didn't want it because it was essentially a bankrupt entity (once its assets and liabilities were netted out).

To suggest that short-sellers made this happen is just ludicrous. If short-sellers were so stupid as to drive a viable, valuable company down below where it was worth, buyers around the world would have leaped at the chance to buy it. I know that's a bit of a digression, but I'm sick and tired of hearing the wrong people blamed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some Interesting Detective Work

Exploring how deep the rabbit hole goes. When the MSM used to do this kind of thing in the old days, they called it "investigative reporting".




If You've Lost Mark Morford, You've Lost The Country

Morford is the guy who called Obama "The Lightworker". Now he has equally insightful things to say about Palin!

Great Camera, Great Lens, Great Candidate

Neat photos taken at the 60,000 attendee Palin rally in Florida, using just the equipment I'm planning to eventually upgrade to.

Money Laundering

How is this whole thing supposed to work? The government buys up $700B of "assets" that are not really worth $700B. They float bonds to pay for them. What market actor in his right mind is going to buy a bond that finances something that is worth less than the price of the bond? Would I lend you $20 so that you could spend it on something that you'd only be able to sell for $10 in order to try to pay me back? What kind of sense does this make? Why would I want to cut in a money-wasting middleman to effectively buy assets I wouldn't want to touch myself, and for more than I'd have to pay for them if I did, in fact, want them?

The only thing that would make me want to take such a deal is the expectation that the government will shake down taxpayers for real (as opposed to merely printed) money to pay me back. As a foreign creditor I'd only take such a deal on the understanding that the government actually intended to end the inflationary shell game and actually--get this--pay its debts. Otherwise, no deal.

It would be interesting if this turns out to be the end game for the alleged "Reagan strategy" of killing the federal beast by bankrupting it. Could you imagine the drastic cuts in government spending (besides debt repayment and bank reliquification) that would have to be made to genuinely solve this problem?

The Future Lies Ahead


Not only will the bailout plan not work, but it is set to spread the contagion to a crucial area that has so far been sacrosanct - the US T-bond market. There are several reasons for this. One is that continued government interference in the free market to defend wrongdoers from the consequences of their actions is rapidly destroying Wall Street`s credibility as a global financial center. A blatant example of this is the banning of short selling in the stocks of selected companies which amounts to nothing less than criminal interference in free market processes, which is what you would expect to see implemented in a Command Economy - this is the sort of thing the Commies used to do. The second is that the US government and the Fed are clearly treating international investors as idiots - does it seriously expect them to go on endlessly buying Treasury paper when they know that the proceeds are going to be used to bail out and prop up companies that have arrived at the brink of collapse due to mismanagement and incompetance? They are not going to and that is the reason for the collapse in T-bonds on Friday and when foreigners stop buying Treasury paper the US government has got itself a big, big problem - the result will be skyrocketing interest rates and an economic implosion.

Experienced gardeners know that if you want to maintain the health and vigor of a rose bush, you must on occasion make the sacrifice of cutting off the big, woody branches - endlessly cutting off small twigs simply does not work. In the same way periodic recessions within an economy serve to weed out inefficiency and excess, and create the conditions for renewed stable growth. However, in the "I want it all, I want it now" economic kindergarten of the United States of recent years, recession has come to be regarded as something gross and unacceptable, something to be avoided at all costs. This was why at a time when a recession would have been painful, but have had a necessary purging effect, the Greenspan Fed averted it by dropping real interest rates to near zero in the early years of this decade, thus sowing the seeds of the housing boom and the now unfolding disaster. Now the United States is like an old gnarled rose bush full of big woody branches and totally gone to seed - the only thing that will save it is to take an axe to it. The axeman is coming to the United States, and the desperate and pathetic attempts of politicians and corrupt business leaders, as displayed by their seedy and unwholesome display late last week, to prevent his arrival can only delay it a little, not prevent it. It's going to be painful folks, but as Mrs Thatcher, The Iron Lady of Great Britain used to say, "There is no alternative". Mrs Thatcher transformed Britain by taking painful but necessary steps to sweep away inefficiency and decay, which resulted in the relative prosperity of recent times, although that is now fading fast due to the UK having since followed the US down the debt path. Of course we can only make a limited comparison with Britain in the 1970's because the systemic problems now facing the United States are infinitely worse.

The big danger now is that the T-Bond "gravy train" will come to a screeching halt. If that happens the United States as we know it is finished. Having gutted its own manufacturing base, partly through outsourcing, and partly through simple lack of competitiveness, it is economically dependant on inflows of foreign capital and goods, a sizeable part of which is supplied by means of selling Treasury paper. If foreigners suddenly decide that they have better uses for their money, sales of T-bonds could collapse, leading to an immediate credit and funding crisis in the debt-wracked US economy and in order to attract buyers rates will have to be ramped up dramatically, which in the current fragile environment would lead swiftly to an economic implosion. The abuses of funds now being perpetrated by the government in order to bail out unworthy corporations and institutions are greatly increasing the risks of this happening...

Worth A Trillion Words


H/T Brutally Honest.

"Ripped Off By Every Loan Merchant"

WaPo highlights the awfulness of "The Plan", and mentions some better alternatives.

Fisking The Plan

Michael Shedlock comments on this burgeoning atrocity.


Democrats Want To Expand The Bailout

"We're going to be buying up a lot of mortgage paper," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat. "Between Fannie Mae and Freddie now owned by the federal government and the mortgage paper we'll be acquiring here" and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. running failed bank IndyMac Bancorp Inc., "we should now be able substantially to reduce foreclosures," he said.

My Comment: Barney Frank is an incompetent socialist fool. Buying mortgages in and of itself will not prevent a single foreclosure. All buying mortgages will do is bail out the banks holding those mortgages. And one thing you can be most certain of is that it will be a selective bailout with no oversight as to who gets bailed out or why.

The Treasury plans to hire asset managers to purchase the assets through so-called reverse auctions, seeking the lowest prices, one of the people said. Congress will need to raise the limit for the federal debt to allow the government to borrow enough to fund the program, the person said.

Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who has advocated that markets should be allowed to penalize bad bets, warned that bailout could saddle taxpayers with large debts.

"This could be the biggest bailout in the history of the country and could ultimately cost $500 billion to $1 trillion," Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. "Congress is not going to rubber stamp something."

My Comment: The odds of Congress not rubber stamping this are very slim.

Senator Christopher Dodd, the Banking Committee chairman, said the plan's framers should consider the full debt load of U.S. consumers, possibly including credit cards.

My Comment: Hells bells why not? Let's throw in credit cards, auto loans, boats, and casino debts? Why stop at credit cards and housing? Let's just have the government guarantee every debt in the country.

The temporary plan is likely to include a "second stimulus" proposal with infrastructure funds, low-income energy aid and Medicaid assistance, Frank said.

My Comment: Why stop at two? Why not four? Hell, let's just give everyone $1,000,000 and be done with it.

"Why You Should Hate the Treasury Bailout Proposal"



Given that continuing to buy US assets will come under increasingly harsh scrutiny overseas, the US needs to bend over backwards to devise a plan that at least looks credible in terms of directing the funds that come from taxpayers and lenders to their highest and best uses and implementing reforms that will restore active and prudent oversight of financial firms. The Administration's demand for a free pass, even if Congress unwisely goes along, is likely to backfire with our foreign creditors.

See also this Yahoo News piece which rounds up all kinds of skeptical opinions expressed by economists.

The NYT also has a couple of good pieces.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blame The Democrat Do Gooders

Nothing good comes of trying to play Santa Claus.

Another View On The Grand Bailout

Two very interesting posts. I hope they are substantially correct.



So Endeth The Rorschach Test

Even the Canadians are noticing: the narrative is dead.


The Obama candidacy, in its rocket-blast phase when he outsoared Hillary Clinton, drained the dictionaries of every superlative. The great "O" had them swooning in the stands. Why?

True, Oprah had passed her potent wand over him, but even the afternoon regent of a thousand therapies has stays on her sorcery. Mainly, his was very much a candidacy constructed by those who were drawn to him. If there was any meaning to that fortune-cookie poeticism that "we are the ones we have been waiting for," it was that his campaign was a feedback loop. People saw what they came to see. Mr. Obama was the slate; the crowds brought their own chalk.

This is the nature of Mr. Obama's particular kind of charisma. People project their best wishes on him, they fill in the blank of a very attractive and plausible outline. His is not, emphatically, a charisma of deeds. For what has he done, save run for president? He is an accommodating vessel - cool, smart, biracial and "unfinished." This is the Gatsby quality of him that others have noted. Like Gatsby, he is a receptacle of others' glamorous invention.

People see in him, or wish to see, the last great ideal of the American polity fulfilled, a final and full racial accommodation. That should he be elected president, America will have achieved, by his singular persona, the perfect emblematic demonstration of having exorcised at last the great stain of its racially riven origins.

Mr. Obama's charisma is, in this sense, external, something extended to the candidate. And it follows that that which is given may equally be taken away. The sparkle has, in fact, dimmed. He travels now in a lower orbit, closer to Earth - which is to say, he grows more mundane. The great word "hope" sounds less frequently now. He picks a running mate thick with the dust and rancour of many long years in Washington.

His acceptance speech in the Olympic-style stadium could not gather the inspirational energy of his earlier arias. Of late, the flash supernova of U.S. politics is seen "competing" with a second-on-the-ticket female governor of a remote state. There's more than a gap between the "audacity of hope" and "lipstick on a pig." The mouth that spoke the first phrase should not be capable of the second.

He has shrunk into a combative partisan. He crowds his own screen, leaves less space for projection. Others are not writing his narrative now - he's inscribing his own.

A candidacy that leached so much of its energy and drive from the imagination of others, Gatsby-like, is shedding its gift. The narrative stage is over. It's all tactics from here on in.