Wotka World Wide

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Obama and the mortgage meltdown crisis

This piece is the single most searing indictment of Barack Obama and all that he stands for that I have yet seen. Read it if you dare. Note how it is sourced and footnoted. Note how deep Obama is in all this mortgage meltdown mess. He represented ACORN in a suit against Citibank charging them with discriminatory lending back in the early 90s! It is that kind of policy, of suing banks to get them to write sub-prime mortgages, that started this whole thing on its unfortunate path. His Campaign Finance Chairwoman, Penny Pritzker, was a banker who helped introduce "the complicated investment bundling of subprime securities at the heart of the meltdown", ultimately causing the failure of the bank she ran. Obama trained ACORN activists. He was an adherent of Saul Alinsky, the original Radical Leftist organizer. He met so many times with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers devising ways to radicalize the educational agendas in this country. And the truly sad part is that all those people who were duped or coerced into mortgages that they could not afford will lose their homes. There are literally thousands of reasons to not vote for Barack Obama. Why aren't people paying attention!!!

VP Debate

Just to make sure things are nice and fair, PBS's moderator of the upcoming VP debate, Gwen Ifill, has a book coming out soon about Barack Obama, titled "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama". That is about par for the course as far as the media is concerned. Jim Lehrer was pretty balanced the other night, but that was more because John and Barack wouldn't let him get a word in edgewise, and when he did, they ignored the question. I am interested to see if Gwen tries to play "gotcha" with Sarah Palin, like Katie Couric and Charles Gibson have done in their interviews. If she does, she had better be asking tough questions of Joe Biden as well, or her bias will be obvious.
Stanley Kurtz on Obama's associations as a community organizer with ACORN, and their role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Basically, they forced banks to make bad loans, got Freddie and Fannie to back it, and then encouraged it when other banks jumped on board. Obama, as a director for both the Annenberg Project and the Woods Foundation, saw to it that funds were directed towards ACORN and similar groups to continue their efforts. Maybe that explains why Obama ranks second to only Senator Dodd in donations from Fannie and Freddie, and that is in just two and a half years! This piece also illustrates nicely some of the tactics of community organizers, ie intimidation, coercion, bullying, and obstruction of legitimate businesses, to achieve their goal of securing loans for people with bad or no credit. Clinton's HUD people actually mandated that welfare and food stamps be used as income streams for making lending decisions! But it is Bush's fault, because he couldn't get any of his attempts at regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the Democrats in Congress. Note Obama's silence and lack of involvement on this issue as well. Why McCain isn't hitting him harder on this issue is beyond me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thought on executive pay caps from David Nicklaus at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Best line: "The patient is lying on the street having a massive coronary. Our goal should be to get the heart going and fix the knee later."

Friday, September 26, 2008

FDR and the Great Depression

With all this talk of another Great Depression, it is worth looking at what made it Great. For starters, the financial markets dropped approximately 25% in one day. Unemployment at times was over 25%. And it lasted until the onset of World War II in 1939. This last part is curious, because most depressions are much shorter, usually one or two years. During this period, we had the government, under first Herbert Hoover and then Franklin Roosevelt, radically experimenting with many facets of the economy in order to "fix it". Hoover failed so miserably he was driven from office, while only WW II saved FDR from looking like the next great dictator. Sound harsh? Well, consider what was going on. Jonah Goldberg is good at detailing these things, like he does in his column titled The Raw Deal.
As historian William Leuchtenburg documented in his essay "The New Deal as Moral Analogue to War," Roosevelt's presidency was drenched in martial metaphors and militaristic appeals to loyalty and unity long before World War II. The New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA) funded enormous rearmament, including two aircraft carriers, and even the Civilian Conservation Corps was organized along military lines. The preeminent Progressive historian Charles Beard was driven to the point of crankery in his rage against FDR's "Caesarism." Roosevelt's famed Brains Trust was the original ideological cabal, intent not so much on fixing the Depression as on using it as a pretext for schemes of radical reform. The president ordered the domestic surveillance of his political enemies, and the House Un-American Activities Committee was organized in the 1930s—a decade before Joseph McCarthy became a senator—to hunt down "Browns," real and imagined. FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court was an assault on constitutional propriety far more sinister than the alleged irregularities of the Bush v. Gore recount decision. The four-term Roosevelt was our first and only president-for-life, flouting the two-term tradition begun by George Washington. He ran for his third term on the promise that he would keep American boys out of another "foreign war," even though he probably had other intentions.
And this list is just a beginning. Does this really qualify him for near dictator status?
Of course, FDR was no cruel dictator. But he saw nothing wrong with using the mechanisms and aesthetics of dictatorship in order to advance the Progressive transformation of the American state. Roosevelt himself privately acknowledged that "what we were doing in this country were some of the things that were being done in Russia and even some of the things that were being done under Hitler in Germany. But we were doing them in an orderly way." That so many liberals today find that not only forgivable but laudable should tell us something about their ambition. After all, the FDR myth remains liberalism's most "usable past."
Really, what people want is acknowledgment of the advent and import of social security and the welfare state, but those two institutions, arguably the most enduring institutions left from that turbulent time, did nothing to end the Great Depression. Instead, "by 1938, one in six Americans was still without a job, and many more were less than secure in their employment." And agencies to manage the economy were often declared unconstitutional, like the National Recovery Administration. And even today we are wondering why the SEC has done nothing to prevent the mortgage meltdown. Maybe because no small group of people can possibly expect to manage an economy?

FDR believed in the Wilsonian 'living constitution', as a malleable set of texts, with himself as the interpreter. His attempts to pack the Supreme Court to rubber-stamp unconstitutional legislation were obscene power grabs. He was notorious for his secrecy in most matters. He had no appreciation for his impacts on individuals, all while maintaining that he was helping everyone, at least everyone if you were poor. Class warfare was an important part of FDR's New Deal. If you owned your own business or were an entrepreneur, FDR make life very difficult. Confiscatory tax rates stifled new investment (someone please explain again why Obama wants to raise capital gains taxes during an economic downturn), while changes in labor laws forced many businesses to close because they couldn't afford union wages and benefits or why Obama wants to rewrite labor laws to allow more labor corruption?).

But the end goals are lauded by liberals (ie the end justifies the means), so extending the Great Depression for an extra six to eight years is worthwhile if it raises government's role in the economy and the life of the citizenry, since people cannot be expected to act rationally for their own interests, someone on high must do it for them. WW II has saved a lot of the historical appreciation of FDR, but the management of that war makes the management of our current Iraq adventure look like a Toyota factory in comparison. Enough decisions were made correctly, enough good minds were on our side that we were able to prevail, and enough manpower was available that we could waste millions of lives through poor planning and still achieve victory.

And it took FDR's death before the American economy truly returned to prosperity, as 1946 brought a wave of tax cuts and the lifting of restrictions on trade and businesses, which ignited the post-war boom. And then there is the small fact that some of Roosevelt's closest advisers were Soviet agents, reporting our every move and every secret to Stalin. Fortunately, Americans wised up after this near-dictatorial experience and passed a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting a third term. Hopefully we can avoid a second experiment with New Deal style policies, although some government intervention is clearly necessary to maintain confidence.
The Joe Biden gaffe machine continues! This time, in his interview with Katie Couric, Biden said: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'look, here's what happened." Now, if this isn't among the most stupid things ever said in a political election, I don't know what is. Especially considering the stock market crashed in 1929, FDR was elected President in 1932, and televisions were still unavailable to the masses in 1929 (FDR first appeared on TV in 1939 from the World's Fair in New York City). Comments of this nature issue forth from Biden almost daily, any time he gets a chance to talk for longer periods. It is to the point where I fully expect Obama to pull an October surprise and replace Biden on the ticket with Hillary Clinton, which would make his election a much more certain thing.
What Made the Great Depression Great? From Jonah Goldberg. Hint, it had something to do with the New Deal.
Internet running out of IP addresses?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The legal battle for votes in Ohio has begun, as the Democratic Secretary of State has already attempted to disqualify thousands of Republican absentee ballots for spurious reasons. Her attempts have met prompt legal challenges, but after Ohio decided the last election with around one hundred thousand votes, we can expect more of this stuff leading up to the election. Details here.
Wonder why Iraq has been doing oil deals with Chinese companies and not American oil companies? Because they were scared off by three Democratic Senators, who used their influence to spoil attempts by the Iraqi government to negotiate oil development services from American oil companies. They were Chuck Schumer, Claire McCaskill, and John Kerry (of course!). Here is the whole unfortunate story.

Trouble for the candidates?

Amir Taheri clears up the brouhaha regarding his New York Post column about Barack Obama's attempt to coerce Iraqi government officials into putting off negotiations with the US about a force draw-down agreement until a new government has been elected (presumably so he can take credit). Obama's move is highly unethical, sets a bad precedent, and goes against the interests of his own country. Taheri mentions how many politicians, Democrat and Republican, have traditionally refused to comment while negotiations are ongoing between the United States and a foreign power. The Obama campaign has tried to paint this article as a smear, but Taheri hangs Obama with his own words, and points out that many Democrats have found fault with this action as well.

Meanwhile, John McCain has finally had one of his meltdowns, suggesting that Chairman of the SEC Chris Cox should be fired and replaced with Andrew Cuomo, a suggestion that has gotten him plenty of criticism from conservative quarters like the Wall Street Journal and columnist George Will. This controversial suggestion is McCain's attempt to show he is breaking from Bush's administration, but if Andrew Cuomo is his solution, voters might look elsewhere. Next, maybe he can suggest bring Eliot Spitzer out of retirement and sicking him on the culprits for the mortgage meltdown, a suggestion Michael Savage made on his radio show the other night.

Economic changes

Things are happening so fast that it is hard to keep up with all the buyouts, bailouts, and political wrangling over a solution. Here is a good recap of the events so far this week, including Warren Buffett buying 9% of Goldman Sachs for $5 billion. It is instructive to note what the great investors do during economic downturns and, especially with Buffett, it is buy, buy, buy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Even the New York Times is noticing the calm in Iraq. Of course, they emphasize the fragile nature of it, but that is to be expected. I'm just happy these poor people can start rebuilding their country and actually live a life not dominated by fear. Why is it so bad to help these people again?
Why is no one worried about the coming entitlements crash? And how does Obama think you can just put universal health care on top of all these skyrocketing obligations with no problem?
Democrats at fault over recent financial mess? Sure seems that way to me...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama scaring seniors?

Why is Barack Obama flat out lying to seniors and other voters about McCain's stance on social security and privatizing some accounts? McCain would be wise to hit back, as diversified investments in stocks have historically performed very well, and there still is no solution for retirement of the baby boomers, which will basically bankrupt the social security system for anyone of a younger age. At least Republicans have made some attempt to address the issue, while Dems want to sit on their hands and not worry about it until it really is a serious problem. Prudence suggests doing something now will be a lot easier than twenty years down the line.
Q&A on the financial market turmoil with the Wall Street Journal.

Sarah Palin on abortion

Amidst all the scare tactics demonizing Sarah Palin, the most repeated is her avowed pro-life tendencies, which represent "the greatest threat yet" to Roe v. Wade, as a recent Obama ad intones. Yet an examination of her record, as undertaken by Newsweek, paints a much different picture. While saying she is pro-life, she hasn't really taken any action to restrict abortion in Alaska. Most notably, she was presented the opportunity by the legislature to bring forth her gas pipeline bill, guaranteed to pass with large margins due to its benefits to the state, with attachments banning partial birth abortion and requiring parental consent. She requested both these measures not be included in the final bill, which was then signed into law. So she could have restricted abortion, and chose not too. She has also met with a pro-choice group and spoke to them about her experiences as a working woman, although they accuse her of ignoring their needs. She has appropriated funding increases for domestic violence shelters, but critics say she should have done more. She sounds like a politician, more than anything, but given her statement in her interview with Charles Gibson that her pro-life view is a "personal choice", perhaps she thinks others ought to make their own choices as well. I don't know that this is accurate, but judging from her record, she is certainly no anti-abortion crusader, as she has been portrayed, although she certainly tends to emphasize her own views as policy to gatherings of Christian pro-life voters.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Democrats threaten Jewish groups?

After Hillary Clinton backed out of the anti-Ahmadinejad rally, the organizers were forced to dis-invite Sarah Palin, or risk being turned over to the IRS for violating their tax-exempt status. Guess who pressured them? Yeah, high level Democrats. Nice work, guys. Think most Jewish voters will notice that they are supporting the anti-Israel candidate, who has been endorsed by Hamas and Iran? I doubt it, because they are too busy patting themselves on the back for being so progressive.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More tomfoolery from the New York Times on Palin

A liberal friend directed me to a critique if Sarah Palin from the NYT, which I read and enjoyed thoroughly, because this one article completely illustrates why the Times has lost so much respect and readership through their slanted reporting, whereby news features are essentially one sided editorials, verging on propaganda. Fortunately, this has caused a severe decline in their business. Off we go, from the second paragraph...
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.
The story starts right off with a bang, accusing Sarah of hiring someone obviously unqualified for the job. But a simple google search turns up an AP article from the previous year with this:

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin picked Franci Havemeister for the job [of Director of State Agriculture] yesterday (Thursday).

Havemeister is a native of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the daughter-in-law of Palmer-area dairy farmers Bob and Jean Havemeister.

Kinda contradicts the Times version, doesn't it? I mean, she sure sounds more qualified when you hear there is a dairy farm in the family. And while Palin may have suggested to Tom Irwin that he make the pick, it doesn't say that in either article. Kinda sounds like a lie to me. And they basically character assasinate some poor person without telling you a thing about them other than that they like cows and real estate. Next...

And four months ago, a Wasilla blogger, Sherry Whitstine, who chronicles the governor’s career with an astringent eye, answered her phone to hear an assistant to the governor on the line, she said.

“You should be ashamed!” Ivy Frye, the assistant, told her. “Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now!”

Oh, the horror! This one has been repeated everywhere, but it doesn't hold water with me. First off, it doesn't say Palin called the blogger, or that she was actually stopped from writing, but instead that some secretary somewhere in the governor's office called her and told her she should stop writing things. Big whoop. Especially for someone that was being very harsh and personal in her critiques of the governor. Obama's campaign just character assassinated a National Review columnist that was appearing on WGN radio in Chicago, calling him every name in the book (libeling him, actually), all because he wanted to talk about how Obama won't release any of his state government records, or his records from the education board on which he served with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. The campaign directed supporters via email to inundate the station demanding they cancel the interview. Details can be found here. But somehow this is so bad. Right. Next bit...

Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.
This statement is simply opinion. No evidence is ever really given to support any of it. At least not in their article. But we should just take their word for it.

Rick Steiner, a University of Alaska professor, sought the e-mail messages of state scientists who had examined the effect of global warming on polar bears. (Ms. Palin said the scientists had found no ill effects, and she has sued the federal government to block the listing of the bears as endangered.) An administration official told Mr. Steiner that his request would cost $468,784 to process.

This one is fun. Environmentalists have managed to get the polar bear on the threatened species list, despite the fact that there are thousands all over the Arctic region, and there population is already protected in the US. There has been a ton of debate on this, because that listing immediately puts restrictions on any business that might harm that population at all, which, coincidentally, is the entire North Shore of Alaska, where oil and gas are found. Any project must suddenly go through another level of process to prove that they have no impact on the polar bear population. Of course melting sea ice is a concern, but there is no certain corresponding link to pollution as the cause of this warming. The real danger these businesses have is with an oil spill, but they have a good record outside of Exxon Valdez, which was technically at sea, not a major concern now that we have pipelines which have auto shut-off valves.
And of course we need another level of regulation, along with all the local, state, and federal reviews, as well as EPA reviews and environmental groups' legal challenges, for any new drilling in Alaska. Never mind the fact that Canada allows most killing of polar bears in North America, while it is illegal in the US. Palin is dead on as governor to oppose the polar bear listing, because it seriously hampers the oil and gas businesses in practically half the state, and they oppose it. This is why Alaska taxes these companies and gives checks to every resident of the state. But somehow the state is supposed to just spend weeks printing out every email mentioning it because some professor requests it? Talk about government waste! She should be applauded for resisting this foolishness, but the Times has been grinding their polar bear axe for a while, and don't care about reason with this issue, as they are so committed to the man-made global warming theory. Back to the article, sorry for the long digression...

State legislators are investigating accusations that Ms. Palin and her husband pressured officials to fire a state trooper who had gone through a messy divorce with her sister, charges that she denies. But interviews make clear that the Palins draw few distinctions between the personal and the political.
This has been the most oft repeated charge against her, but seems completely baseless when you know the facts. That trooper tasered his 10 yr old step-son as a punishment and made violent threats against the Palin family. They notified the state police commissioner of his conduct, but as of now he still has his job. If anything, there should be an investigation as to why this schlub is still an officer.
They keep repeating on the news channels that Todd Palin is being subpoenaed, but anyone could be. I could hire a lawyer and subpoena you tomorrow. Doesn't mean it would get me anywhere. But you think Bill Clinton got many tough questions about his history of sexual misconduct while Governor of Arkansas when he was running? Heck, Obama doesn't even have to answer any direct questions about his involvement with the Daley political machine (David Axelrod, his campaign manager, is a major strategist for the Daley administration) or Bill Ayers or even his pastor of twenty years, where he sat through many hate-filled sermons bashing America and Israel while lamenting all the victims of evil American wars. This is really the best they can do on Sarah Palin. More...

Last summer State Representative John Harris, the Republican speaker of the House, picked up his phone and heard Mr. Palin’s voice. The governor’s husband sounded edgy. He said he was unhappy that Mr. Harris had hired John Bitney as his chief of staff, the speaker recalled. Mr. Bitney was a high school classmate of the Palins and had worked for Ms. Palin. But she fired Mr. Bitney after learning that he had fallen in love with another longtime friend.

I understood from the call that Todd wasn’t happy with me hiring John and he’d like to see him not there,” Mr. Harris said.

“The Palin family gets upset at personal issues,” he added. “And at our level, they want to strike back.”
Looking at this, it justs sounds like you aren't getting the whole picture. I googled it, and found I was right. Turns out Mr. Bitney was "dating" a woman who happened to be married to a close friend of Todd Palin's. Setting aside the fact that we will never know the full details of that affair, it sounds to me like Mr. Bitney's personal life compromised his ability to do his job, because the governor no longer had faith in his honesty or ethics, especially after he assisted her on her big statewide ethics bill. Not a terrible reason to notify a future employer either. Honesty matters. At least, that used to be the case until Bill Clinton came along, and then infidelity was completely acceptable and considered a "private matter". Democrats have defended marital infidelity for some time now, so their shock at someone having a problem with it is understandable.
She passed road and sewer bonds, cut property taxes but raised the sales tax.
Another talking point for the left is that she raised taxes, as above, but actually, the citizens desired a hockey arena, and they had a bond issue that paid for it with a sales tax increase, and the people there voted in favor of it. The tax wasn't just imposed from on high. Isn't that how government is supposed to work? Not according to the New York Times.

Yet recent controversy has marred Ms. Palin’s reform credentials. In addition to the trooper investigation, lawmakers in April accused her of improperly culling thousands of e-mail addresses from a state database for a mass mailing to rally support for a policy initiative.

Oh my God! She sent some emails to supporters! Call the FBI! Seriously, who has not gotten email from political parties before, from both sides? What an inane charge. Most of their complaints are about the email policies of the governor's administration. You might think this a scandal, but in actuality this battle is ongoing in practically every state, as well-meaning sunshine laws have meant that any written communication in government is "public knowledge". This new development has meant that requests for information under these laws can literally paralyze state governments, due to the sheer volume generated conducting daily business. Yet we are supposed to be shocked when they remind advisers to use a private instead of public address when discussing sensitive issues. But somehow we still aren't allowed to see any of Obama's paperwork or emails from his Illinois state government days, or even from his community organizer days. Even requests from liberal organizations, like the New Republic, are met with hostility, as happened when they inquired about legal briefs written by Obama while at Harvard. It is typical do as I say not as I do, as they have made no such demands from the Obama campaign, as fair standards of journalism might suggest that they do.
What really galls the Times people, and Democrats in general, is that she has become an accomplished governor while not necessarily employing Ivy League trained officials, which is anathema in liberal doctrine, as these institutions are the source for all "true" knowledge, especially as regards running government. About the only good thing the Times gives her some credit for is challenging incumbent Republicans, but that is John McCain's record too, and while that used to count with them when they praised him in some twenty editorials, it doesn't anymore. I just wish more people could see the bias being portrayed as mainstream opinion. You know you are a liberal paper when David Brooks is your token conservative. And don't even get me started on Tom Friedman, who is convinced he knows more than everyone else about every issue out there, because he has done a little research. The Wall Street Journal may have conservative opinions, but they are found on the opinion page, not the front page. When the Times remembers this concept, they will gain relevance again, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obama and the Chicago Slum Lords

Obama's shady connections to Chicago slum lords and the Daley administration have been so sparingly covered that it is almost funny, except when you realize he is running for President and is getting a free pass from the media. Sarah Palin has had more coverage of her past in just a few weeks than Obama has had in the entire campaign. Why is this?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Different Approaches for Russia and China

Hard Russia vs. Soft China. An excellent analysis of hard power and soft power and how each country has used a distinct style to achieve their goals. Russia is increasingly isolated over the Georgia situation, while China has looked good during the Olympics (although they failed to keep their promise and allow press freedom). Also mentions lessons for the US, like how we need to devote more resources to diplomats, which I happen to agree with. The military still needs funding too though. It is just like Teddy Roosevelt said a century ago: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." We would be wise to follow that advice more closely, although I think Bush and Rice have done a decent, albeit nearly unreported, job in keeping diplomatic pressure on Russia and Iran, while also discussing what to do about North Korea with China, especially with the Kim Jong Il health situation. The new President will have a tough task getting up to speed on all the situations happening around the world.

Sarah Palin on ABC

Watched her interview tonight, and I thought she did pretty good. I was more annoyed at Charles Gibson's condescending tone and attitude towards her. It was like he was trying to play "gotcha" with her, but I don't think he really "got her" on any one issue. I thought some of her responses were a bit scripted, but she has no doubt been preparing for her first major interview, so I can understand it a bit. I'd like to see any of the other three candidates get a grilling like that. Charles Gibson interviewed Obama last year, and it was one softball question after another. Like "Did you just know?" when he first met Michelle. No question anywhere near that level for Sarah Palin. And there is so much unknown about Obama, that he won't even answer questions about. Like his stance on abortion, for one. Sarah told you hers, and emphasized that she knows there are other opinions. Then there is Obama's involvement with the Daley political machine. And his involvement with Bill Ayers, from whose house he announced his Illinois state Senate campaign. And Jeremiah Wright, for twenty years he was in the pews! And the Rezko real estate connections. Or even his early life in Indonesia. Let's see ABC News visit Obama's elementary school in Indonesia! But they are afraid what they will see, or what America will see. So why do we need to visit Sarah Palin's high school and ask her tricky questions in between asking her how many points she scored in a basketball game in 1982? He tried to trick her with his question about the "Bush doctrine" but he doesn't even know what it is himself. And don't take my word for it, this is from the man who actually articulated all four versions of it, Charles Krauthammer. Gibson was the one looking ignorant, despite his haughtiness. Palin came across as a hard working mother that wants to make her country better, just like she did in Wasilla as mayor and in Alaska as governor. ABC News came across as an organization that wanted to trip up Sarah Palin, and didn't mind heavily editing the answers to make it look like they did.
The problem for Obama, and for the media organizations that are pushing him, is that the American people are seeing through the bias. There are so many information outlets, that the talking heads can't sell the public on an issue like they used to. And this Gibson interview just reinforces it. Where are the hard questions for Joe Biden? What about his plagiarism that knocked him out of the 1988 Presidential campaign? He says it was a slip-up, but people get kicked out of college for that "slip-up". The Bidens just released the last ten years of their tax records, and even though they made over $200,000 every year, they never gave even $1000 to charity in a single year. That would be a good question for Joe Biden. "Why don't you give to charity?" But we won't see it. Ask yourself why there is such bias. The media has already lost this campaign. The question is can Obama and Biden still salvage it despite the talking heads' obvious bias. I'm not worried about McCain and Palin. Americans love an underdog. The candidates know what to expect, and they are fighting every step of the way. And women voters see it too. That is why there has been a 15% swing in female voters from Obama to McCain. Remember those soccer moms we used to hear so much about? Well, they don't like seeing one of their own pushed around. It will be exciting to watch the next few months...

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Biden verbal missteps

This time from the New York Times. Apparently he has been assigned two "minders" to watch out for him, so that when he claims he is running for President, they can step in and remind him to say "Vice". Read the whole thing. Some bloggers think he will drop out, but that would just make Obama look even worse.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ah, Biden, there you go again...

Joe Biden admitted today that Hillary Clinton was probably a better pick than him. He is a man that never fails to hang himself with his mouth. He loves to talk, and I think he loses track of what his point is, and then he just starts saying wacky stuff. He has been known for it throughout his Senate career. Of course, Obama's lisptick on pig comment has been the thing getting all the publicity today, so they are competing for most outrageous statement, it seems. John McCain is smiling somewhere, I can tell you that.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Pakistan selects a new President

Benazir Bhutto's widower swept to the Pakistani Presidency by a large margin. He faces significant challenges stemming corruption and radical Islam, but given his history of corruption both at home and abroad, the prospect that he will be a positive force for change does not look good.

Rep. Charles Rangel in more trouble?

So it appears the the below market rent situation was just the tip of the iceberg for Rep. Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Apparently he was getting an interest free loan on an investment property, and failing to list his income from rental properties, both in New York and abroad. What is his excuse? He blames his wife, who controls their finances. Yet he signed the tax returns. Hard to believe a member of Congress can't be bothered with following the laws he has helped write and pass. Or wait, maybe that should be easy to believe. Hopefully Republicans will make an big issue of this in the coming months, but New Yorkers are pretty tolerant of corruption, so Rangel probably isn't going anywhere unless the city prosecutor decides to stir things up.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Columbia University strongarms residents out of Harlem

Columbia University seeks to expand, and their chosen site is in Harlem. They have spent years acquiring properties there, while expelling the tenants and neglecting upkeep, in the hopes of having the region blighted, so that they can use the power of the state to push out the other property owners. The designation has now occurred, and hearings are underway regarding the seizure of land by eminent domain ("hearings" are a generous assessment; property owners have fifteen minutes to state their case). Of course, there is nothing really stopping them, especially after the Supreme Court rubber-stamped the process whereby large entities like cities, corporations, and universities seize the land of the rightful owners under dubious "blighting" and then using them for their own business purposes. This happened in the Kelo v. City of New London case in 2005, when it was a tight 5-4 majority in favor of the city and the corporation, against the landowners. Now, you might think this is something that those friends of big business, the Republicans, would support, but in actuality it was the four conservative Justices on the court opposing the taking, while the five liberal justices happily agreed to take a resident's house that had been well-maintained to give the land to Pfizer, which was seeking to expand. New York City is using this case as precedent when it condemns land in Harlem for Columbia. Fortunately, Americans have other ways of protecting their rights, and many state legislatures have passed laws out-lawing or restricting the practice. Let us hope New York sees the light and follows suit, although I won't be holding my breath.

Large universities usually get what they want, which is why I think they ought to lose some of their tax exemption benefits, especially considering the spiraling cost of higher education. Administrators make salaries like corporate officers running these entities, and they have no incentive to cut costs for students, making it that much harder for kids like the ones in Harlem to even consider going to a school like Columbia, where it can cost over $200,000 to educate one student and house them for four years without a scholarship. Congress has even hinted that if big universities don't start using more of their massive endowments to lower costs, they will consider changing their tax status. This has prompted some schools to open the coffers and hold up their tuition's rise, but not enough to stop the big boys from raising rates exorbitantly every year. Why they need the government's help to seize land from poorer residents and business owners is beyond me.

Trouble ahead for Pakistan?

Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to rush Pervez Musharraf out the door in Pakistan. The WSJ looks at the candidates standing to replace him and predicts a Category 5 hurricane. That is scary. The leader in the polls is Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the slain Benazir Bhutto. He is known for his corruption, both during her time in office and after, even while living abroad. He has been rebuked for this at home and abroad as well, but the nostalgia for the Bhutto days should propel him to the presidency. Which is certainly bad news for Pakistan. Musharraf reversed decades of sluggish growth while making peace with India and strengthening ties with the US. Since his decline from power and resignation, the Pakistani economic indicators have taken a tumble, reflecting the market uncertainty over the new leadership. US relations with Pakistan could take a major hit in the future, unless we are willing to resume the game of corruption that has characterized Pakistan's leadership during its existence. The next President here will have a major challenge dealing with a man elected by a populace that is hostile to US goals for the region. Obama's suggestion of invading to pursue terrorists like bin Laden won't make them think any higher of us either.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Israel issues a warning on Iran

Israel has tried to be clear that they will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, but people are not paying much attention. They are now on record saying that they will make a move before this happens. They are arguing for legitimate sanctions, but no one wants to follow their recommendations. If other countries would stop using Iranian banks and boycott all oil services and parts for repairs, it would severely destabilize Iran's rulers. The Israelis are even targeting Switzerland and Austria "in an attempt to lobby them against the Iranian threat. Both countries have announced massive long-term investments in Iranian gas and oil fields for the next decade." The Israelis compared investing in Iranian oil fields to investing in German steelworks in 1938. Hopefully those companies and countries get the message and stop trying to profit off of an evil regime. This is the same thing that emboldened Saddam Hussein, who profited billions in the Oil for Food Scandal, in which French and German companies were complicit. Note that they are not doing the business with Iran now, but why is anyone, especially in Europe? It is destabilizing the Middle East and the world. Of course, the Chinese and Russians would be willing to step right in, which is another problem in itself.