Monday, September 29, 2008

Choosing Between Bread and Freedom

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R, MI) had some strong words on the bailout bill today. I'm willing to admit that I don't understand the finer points (any points?) of economics but I can tell you that I don't like being hustled. And this bill was a hustle of epic proportions.

H/T: Spunky Homeschool


Statement of the day (actually a few days ago):

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy. "It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number."

What a surreal couple of days . . .

(BTW, I found this at RedState. It's from this article at Forbes.)

Voice of the People

Calls in some districts went 15,000 to 10 against the bailout bill! Whether you favor it or not, that is an astounding number.

Dick Armey Votes No

In his very sobering article today.

The Sky is Falling!

Or, you know, maybe it's not.

At this point who knows? But I will say that I'm proud of my congressman. He listened to us. That's kinda what they're supposed to do, isn't it?

I'm going to admit it: I'm glad that President Bush's terms are just about over. I really admire and respect the man personally but politically - not so much. No Child Left Behind, prescription drugs, immigration, massively ridiculous "bailout" that no one is even sure is going to work or what the final cost would be? No, thanks. (sigh)

Where, oh where, is the solid conservative (a la Ronald Reagan) LEADER that our country needs? (another sigh)

Edited to add: Mike Pence (R) sent this around this weekend. And:

Thomas Sowell called the bailout a "tragedy of tremendous magnitude".

Democrats in 2004 Defending Fannie/Freddie

Rush was great on this today. Video included.

Obama and ACORN

These two articles (by Stanley Kurtz and continued in an editorial) chronicle Obama's involvement in the banking crisis through key support to ACORN. Obama's "community organization" led directly to banks' lowering of lending standards (no money down, no background or income check, etc.) which, coupled with Fanny's crazy buying of the resulting bad loans, gave us the current mess. Whatever happens, we cannot forget WHY we got here in the first place!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How About the Kudlow Plan?

Larry Kudlow says that the Paulson deal is good if they completely clean it up (no ACORN), guarantee all profits (because there will be some) go to federal debt reduction and if they maybe include some iteration of the the House Republicans' private-sector-financed insurance program. Oh, and reduce the $700B to a smaller amount. I guess we'll see . . .

Also: McCain won the debate!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Here's the Mark-to-Market Proposal

This is the plan Dave Ramsey was discussing the other day.

UPDATE: Here is an article explaining why these rules are good in the long run (found by Stephen). Not quite sure what the policy implications are either way . . .

How We Got In This Mess

Lindsey Graham Being . . . Helpful?

It looks he's been educating people about the hidden agenda of Democrats to include provisions to funnel 20% of the proceeds of "the deal" to trust funds that can later end up in the hands of ACORN and other ultra-liberal groups.

Also, as Byron York points out, if Pelosi has a majority in the House, why do we not have a bill? She can't because she needs it to look like its not a Democrat hustle (which it is).

Wild Meeting At the White House

This Politico story chronicles the "wildest in recent memory" meeting held at the White House yesterday. It seems that McCain actually talked Bush into holding the meeting, but Democrats tried to use it as a trap for McCain. Politically, it's risky for McCain either way, getting heavily involved or ignoring it. At least he seems to be showing off some nice leadership skills (Obama's "call me if you need me" line is priceless). McCain also seems willing to refrain, for the moment, from throwing House Republicans under the bus.

Conventional wisdom seems to say that a McCain seen as delaying the deal will be bad, politically. However, I believe just the opposite is true: House Republicans (and, I bet, many other members of Congress) are receiving numerous calls and emails demanding that they NOT do the Paulson Plan. McCain may benefit greatly if he is seen as stopping a reckless quick-fix deal, one that essentially nationalizes the mortgage industry and sets up more opportunities for seedy politicians and "private" government-appointed CEOs to soak up a little extra cash on the side (since this was, in fact, what got us in the mess to begin with--see Stephen's post for more details).

This analysis, of course, fails to touch the heart of the matter: what is the real solution? What deal should we be rooting for? My conservative instincts tell me that, whatever the solution, the government needs to keep its hands out of the free market. However, it seems that the government has already messed things up to such a high degree that nothing short of "limitless government money" (otherwise known as our money) can effect a turnaround. Paulson and Bush (and several other smart folks) are even saying it should be considered an investment that will one day pay us back and perhaps show a tidy profit . . . for the government. My fear is that we will be out the initial $700B and they will also keep (and spend) the profits, too (if they materialize).

Some have suggested that rolling back capital gains and corporate tax rates will help. Another idea is to repeal some of the more over-zealous post-Enron accounting rules. At the end of the day, Congress and the President will have to do something, seeing as how they have painted themselves into such a tight corner. I have been wondering whether or not I should contact my representatives, but, so far, I have been unable to figure out what I want them to do.

There is one thing I would like to have explained: Just what would happen if we do nothing. Bush says it will be 1929 all over again. I just don't buy that. I could see it being bad for some of the big dogs on Wall Street and in Congress, but how exactly will it be bad for me? Bear in mind, I know nothing about advanced banking policy or the intricacies of our complex economy. Maybe it would be that bad. Maybe I should have bought some of that gold they keep advertising on the radio. Or maybe it would pretty much be okay. As Rush said today, it all comes down to who you trust. It's easier if you ask, Who do you NOT trust? Unfortunately, most of the people on my "don't trust" list are the ones who will be finalizing the deal. Maybe we should just ask them to SLOW DOWN. Take some time to get it right, and give us the time to figure out what that looks like.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis

A very insightful article written by Kevin Hassett.

"Some might say the current mess couldn't be foreseen, yet in 2005 Alan Greenspan told Congress how urgent it was for it to act in the clearest possible terms: If Fannie and Freddie ``continue to grow, continue to have the low capital that they have, continue to engage in the dynamic hedging of their portfolios, which they need to do for interest rate risk aversion, they potentially create ever-growing potential systemic risk down the road,'' he said. ``We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.'' ...

What happened next was extraordinary. For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets ...

But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter.

That such a reckless political stand could have been taken by the Democrats was obscene even then. Wallison wrote at the time: ``It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit. The Democrats and the few Republicans who oppose portfolio limitations could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing.''"

For more details, check out the AEI article by Peter J. Wallison that Hassett links to.

Real Economists Weigh In

Here is an open letter from A LOT of economists (real ones, not just talking heads on cable shows). They urge, at the very least, a more cautious pace in addressing the current situation.

The Rush Plan

Rush says all we need to do is cut capital gains and corporate taxes. The end.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Dave Ramsey Solution

Dave Ramsey has come up with a plan to fix the current financial situation--a serious one. He places the blame on post-Enron regulations forcing companies to more closely match their balance sheet to market values. He says that these unnecessary rules required companies to set the value of their mortgages (and bundles of mortgages) pretty close to zero, since no one really wants to buy them. However, mortgages represent real houses and property, and these cannot suddenly be worth nothing. Ramsey says if Congress would simple repeal "mark to market" it would solve about half of the trouble overnight. Listen to his explanation here.

Whatever needs to be done, I think it has become obvious to all financial conservatives that a massive "bailout" (could be called a buyout?) forcing taxpayers to risk $700B on bad debt is NOT the answer. Bernanke and Paulson keep saying the alternative would be worse for "everybody." Just who is this everybody? I suspect it includes a lot of their banking pals. Meanwhile, Democrats are just stalling until they figure out 1.) how they can get money from this scheme, and 2.) how they can socialize our entire economy. Why can't we just sit back for a while and see what happens?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Conservative Presidential Candidate Advocates Return to Sound Money

"Our entire financial system is based on an illusion, with a foundation built on quicksand. We spend more than we earn, we consume more than we produce, we borrow more than we save – and we cling to the fantasy that this can go on forever. The glue that holds this crumbling scheme together is a fiat currency called the Federal Reserve Note, created out of thin air by an international banking cartel called the Federal Reserve ...

So far, the only solution being talked about is more of the same failed monetary policies that got us into this mess in the first place – more fake money, more debt, more usury. It is time to demand a return to ... the constitutional principle of sound money."

-- Chuck Baldwin, at the 2008 Conservative Leadership Conference

Supporting monetary reform is an issue by no means limited to social liberals. The Constitution Party's platform states:

"The Constitution Party recommends a substantive reform of the system of Federal taxation. In order for such reform to be effective, it is necessary that these United States:

  • Return to the money system set forth in the Constitution;

  • Repeal the Federal Reserve Act, and reform the current Federal Reserve banks to become clearing houses only; and

  • Prohibit fractional reserve banking."
More information on the Constitution Party ticket is available on the Baldwin/Castle 2008 campaign website. Odds are, they are on the ballot in your state!

Update: Ron Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin today.

More On the Bailout

Yuval Levin wonders if Washington has lost its collective mind, citing this passage from the recent bailout legislation:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Keep in mind that this bill proposes to give the Treasury Secretary unlimited (and largely unguided) authority to spend $700B on . . . something. Not very reassuring . . .

Newt Gingrich also weighs in.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Undefended City

I just read a powerful article by Bill Whittle on NRO about the fall of civilizations. Maybe I was a little caught up in the moment because I was listening to The Lord of the Rings soundtrack (the wonderful London musical version) while reading it, but I bet it would be just as good without any accompaniment.

History Lesson

Dad sent me this New York Times article my Uncle Robert dug up from the distant past (2003) relating to the recent financial disturbances. Just what was the Democrat response to Bush's plan to reform Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac? Three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thoughts On the Credit Crisis

Here are a couple of good articles on the subprime mortgage crisis that is unfolding.

Bad Accounting Rules Helped Sink AIG
by Zachary Karabell at WSJ

"The current meltdown isn't the result of too much regulation or too little. The root cause is bad regulation ...

The collapse of Enron in 2002 triggered a wave of regulations, most notably Sarbanes-Oxley. Less noticed but ultimately more consequential for today were accounting rules that forced financial service companies to change the way they report the value of their assets (or liabilities) ...

Beginning last year, financial companies exposed to the mortgage market began to mark down their assets, quickly and steeply. That created a chain reaction, as losses that were reported on balance sheets led to declining stock prices and lower credit ratings, forcing these companies to put aside ever larger reserves (also dictated by banking regulations) to cover those losses."

I've read a few other articles suggesting that FAS 157 (the accounting change discussed above) is in part to blame for the crisis.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
Are Fannie and Freddie Too Big to Fail?
by Frank Shostak at Mises

"The key to FF operations is the buying of home loans from mortgage originators such as banks ...

Due to an implied government guarantee, the FF were able to raise funds relatively cheaply by selling their debt to investors. This in turn enabled them to pay higher prices to the originators of mortgages than potential competitors could pay ...

As a result, the FF have become the dominant force in the housing market."

Would Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have needed bailing out if the Federal Reserve hadn't always stood ready to guarantee their debts? There has never been an explicit guarantee, but the market has always believed that the Fed would never allow Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to fail.

Why is everyone shocked when the Fed bails out large corporations? That's what we gave it the power to do.

Of course, the answer is there shouldn't have been a Federal National Mortgage Association or a Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. There shouldn't be a Government National Mortgage Association or a Student Loan Marketing Association. There shouldn't be a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. There shouldn't be a Federal Reserve System. There shouldn't be fractional-reserve banking.

For more information about our nation's monetary system, watch Money, Banking and the Federal Reserve, a short video by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

RTC 2.0: "Fixing" the Credit Mess

I'm highly skeptical of any government-based "fix" for this or that economic problem (I know, we'll make this new company called "Freddy May". . .). Some companies need to fail. However, the rules seem to bend and mutate the closer they get to the black hole of government intervention. Certainly, the markets seem to be in favor of the new fix being discussed (BTW, McCain is already on board). This comment from NRO seems to shed a little light on the subject, especially the reader's email at the end. Rush says all this can be traced back to Democrats in congress, who make these messes, get money from them, and then get to sit on the investigation committee afterward. Maybe Stephen can weigh in with his understanding of how all this works.

Behold the "Great Orator"

This is the word cloud from Obama's recent Hollywood speech. Can we dispense with the "But he speaks so well" line yet?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama's New Outrageous Ad

Amazingly, we have some good reporting from ABC News. Jake Tapper completely dismantles Obama's new Spanish-language ad, which, by the way, is unbelievably filled with distortions--to the point of being funny enough for SNL. Full text and description of the ad included.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Power Restored!

After 54 grueling hours of living back in the stone age (almost), the 21st Century has returned to us. We did a little happy dance in our living room and everything. Happy days again! All in all, it was an experience we will always remember. I discovered that I could make scrambled eggs on a grill and clear fallen branches with a hand saw. We got just the tiniest taste of what life is like for the real hurricane victims. We will definitely remember them in our prayers.

Still Without Power

Since 2:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon and counting . . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palin Does Well in First Major Interview

This article does a good job pointing out the different standards being applied by media: softball interviews for Obama, confrontational and aggressive interviews for Republicans. Even so, this isn't the old days. Now this sort of behavior is on full display for all voters to see. They know what's going on, and they don't like it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Misremembering as Dangerous as Forgetting

Debra Burlingame has one of the best editorials on "remembering 9-11" that I've read. Talking about September 11, 2001 in the same way we talk about hurricanes, tsunamis and the like is not only disrespectful - it's downright dangerous.

(H/T: The Common Room)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Other Blogs Weigh In

Two of my favorite blogs have weighed in on Sarah Palin:

Barbara Curtis, especially here and here. Fair warning: Curtis is now a practicing Catholic. Doesn't bother me, might bother you. Curtis is the mother of twelve children (four with Down Syndrome - 1 biological, 3 adopted), author of multiple parenting books and teaching guides, and contributor to Focus on the Family.

Spunky, especially here, here, and here. Spunky is a homeschooling mom of six and her blog is always sharp, insightful, and a daily "must read" for me.

For the record, Spunky has not decided whether she'll vote for McCain-Palin. Barbara Curtis is supporting them wholeheartedly. Regardless of their view of the election, they both comment on the attacks of the far left (mainstream media) and the far right (Vision Forum). Anything that has Doug Phillips "holding hands" in unity with Gloria Steinem, as one of Spunky's commenters put it, is enough to give me pause.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Double Standards 101

I realize that a post about working wives/mothers may not be fully appreciated by all the readers of this blog. However, Michelle Malkin (working woman) has an excellent piece highlighting the horrendous double standard in play against Palin from the left.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Lebanon Rally

Today, we decided to attend the big McCain-Palin rally in Lebanon, Ohio. We all got up bright and early, ate breakfast and loaded into the minivan. Just as we got to the Lebanon exit, some guy on the radio said they were already turning people away. But, with nothing to lose, we continued into town. We parked about a mile away and followed the crowds to Main St. We found a line to stand in, and soon we found ourselves entering the main area.

As you can see it was packed! But at least we could hear some of the words . . .

Then we passed through a gate, just as security personnel closed it off. We were only seconds away from being shut out at the back. Even this area filled quickly. Meanwhile, we shuffled through security. All umbrellas had to be abandoned at this point. We never saw ours again, but we left with one that looked very similar!

And so, we got into the rally! What a crowd!

The girls were pretty excited about it. I held them up for a (very little) bit of it, so they could see some of the speakers.

When we got there (about 10:00), Anthony Munoz was just finishing up his remarks. Personal Note: Karen and I ate at the Golden Lamb for one of our first anniversaries--very nice place, great service.

After a few campaign songs (they even dared to play "Barracuda"), the Straight Talk Express rolled up and out came our 2008 Republican ticket! We didn't get to see all that much of this part due to the frantic waving of signs and cheering. Gov. Palin spoke first, mostly repeating the high notes from her convention speech. But it was awesome to hear her say it live!

Here's my favorite picture: Mr. and Mrs. Palin and some guy in a light blue shirt. Actually, McCain was very warmly received and I find that he's really starting to grow on me. That will probably dissipate about the time he "mavericks" us all a few weeks after the election, but right now, I really like the guy. Regardless, Sarah was THE reason we made the trip, and I don't think we were alone.

We decided to leave just before McCain got finished (about 11:00). Here's a shot of the bus. We got to see it again as it was heading south on I-71 (which they blocked for the occasion). Then we grabbed a bite to eat and hit a few bookstores . . . our definition of a great day!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Freudian Slip, anyone?

Right...I hasten to add that I find those email forwards ("He's a Muslim! His middle name is Hussein! But he's Muslim! And his name is Barack Hussein Obama! Get it? OBAMA? OSAMA?") both annoying and disgusting. The truth is bad enough.

But at the least, this little clip demonstrates his speaking ability. I mean, wow, he's such a great speaker (/sarcasm).

H/T: Townhall

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The (Other) Speech

McCain did a good job tonight. I've heard that P.O.W. story about 50 times this week, and I still had to fight back a few tears. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was solid and genuine. I was reminded yet again of just how much more experience, character and wisdom McCain has over The Chosen One. Now it's time to get ourselves ready for all-out slimy attacks from the left for two straight months. The debates should be pretty fun to watch!

Piper And Trig

I suspect this is the moment when most people stopped thinking about Bristol Palin...

The Speech

And I thought Thompson's speech was good! Sarah Palin exceeded all (even ridiculously high) expectations. She was calm and in control; the nasty attacks of the past few days seemed to just roll right off her back. The looks on the PBS folks afterward . . . just amazing. They were visibly shocked by how perfect it was. Someone doing some live blogging said that CNN was just showing the "entertainment" for quite a while after the speech--no doubt hysterically waiting for the DNC to fax over those talking points! We are literally watching the future of the Republican party unfold before us. McCain is the luckiest guy in the world!

BTW, all the other speeches were great, too. Steele, Romney, Giuliani and even Huckabee seemed to really hit the right notes tonight. Finally, I am excited about being a Republican again!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fred's Speech

. . . was awesome! Check it out here. I might actually enjoy voting for McCain now! My joy over Palin still stands at "maxed out."

Monday, September 1, 2008

McCain - Palin Pictures

John McCain's daughter has a blog (who knew?) and has posted pictures from the rally in Dayton, OH. Some great stuff here. I have never seen John McCain look so happy and comfortable before.

Edited: Ok, my beloved has already posted this. Guess I should've checked his links first...

H/T: The Anchoress