Saturday, September 27, 2008

Congress Should Pass the Palson Plan

It is with reluctance that I conclude Congress must past the amended version of the Palson Plan. I would prefer the House Republican Plan, if I thought it would work. Unfortunately, from what I have read, I don't think the House Plan would be sufficient, and the stakes are too high to gamble. I hate the thought of the federal government taking on a $700 billion dollar obligation and buying all of the bad mortgage loans that should never have been made in the first place; however, I think it is necessary.

I know some free market purists are advocating letting the companies that made these bad loans and the investors that purchased this bad debt fail and let the chips fall where they may. I understand the argument. I understand the dogma. Now is the time, however, for pragmatic solutions that will get us out of this crisis. It is great to have guiding principles, but you shouldn’t let them guide you over a cliff.

I also understand those who don’t like the idea of bailing out rich, fat cats while letting homeowners get foreclosed and neglecting other unmet needs. Yesterday I was in a chat group and someone wrote, “Isn't it funny how they can find $700 billion for this, yet they can't come up with enough money to get us health insurance? Man, I wish I was rich enough to get bailed out by the government when I couldn't pay my bills.” I understand the sentiment, but resentment is no substitute for sound policy.

This bailout is not just for Wall Street. If an economic meltdown is not avoided, everyone will surfer. Senator Bob Corker made this point in an article appearing in today’s’ Tennnessean:

There is a record shortage of credit in our nation's economy and the situation is growing worse by the day. If the credit markets continue to deteriorate, and credit provided by our country's banks and lenders is no longer available, businesses will no longer be able to secure short-term loans, forcing them to lay off workers because they can't meet payroll. It will become impossible for individuals to secure car loans or mortgages — leading to more foreclosures, pressure on housing prices, and a worsening of the credit crunch. In a worst-case scenario, credit cards may no longer function and the ability to even cash a paycheck may no longer exist. This is how a financial crisis becomes an economic calamity that will have an effect on every American and Tennessean.
(Read more)

I understand that those on the left are going to blame this crisis on Republicans and deregulation and a failure of free enterprise. They are going to use it for political advantage and blame it on the “failed policy of the last eight years of Bush and McCain.” They will try to use this as an excuse for greater government interventions, and to achieve social goals of income redistribution. By agreeing to the bailout, we are not acquiescing in the analysis of what caused the problem. As Tennessee’s senior senator, Lamar Alexander, has said, “fix the problem and next week we can fix the blame.”

I am appalled that Democrats have tried to use this crisis as a means of permanently funding the liberal activist organization ACORN. I assume there are enough pragmatic Democrats who will put country above party and that provision will be stripped from the bill. I would not support the bailout if the ACORN provision is in it, and unless the taxpayer protections, as stated in Lamar Alexander’s article below, are included. If those changes are in the final version, then I think the plan should be adopted. If I were in Congress, based on what I know now, I would have to hold my nose and vote for the bailout.

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Alexander: Fix mortgage problem, then blame

By U.S. Sen. LAMAR ALEXANDER, R-Tenn, The Tennessean, September 27, 2008

Before Monday Congress should enact a significantly amended (to protect thetaxpayer) version of the "Paulson Plan" to permit the Secretary of the Treasury to buy and then sell troubled mortgage-related assets. This is necessary to unfreeze credit and make sure that Americans can secure car, auto, mortgage and student loans and cash their paychecks. .... Read more

This is an excellent article by Tennessee's Senior Senator Lamar Alexander. He answers in simple terms: "What's the problem?", "What's causing the credit freeze?", "How will the Paulson Plan help?", and "How can taxpayer be protected?"

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Friday, September 26, 2008

What Caused the Economic Crisis

I am not going to pretend that I fully understand all of the causes of the current financial crisis. Quite frankly, after listening to hour upon hour of pundits discuss the crisis and reading numerous articles, I am not sure anyone fully understands it. No doubt there were multiple contributing factors. A lot of supposedly smart people had to do some stupid things to allow this mess to develop.

The left is painting this crisis as a failure of free enterprise and blaming Wall Street greed and deregulation. No doubt greed and regulatory failures were contributing factors, but we should not overlook the governments responsibility in this mess by pressuring lenders to make "affordable" mortgages available to unqualified borrowers. The Community Reinvestment Act pressured lenders to make risky loans that should never have been made. Government has had a policy of assuming that a lower homeownership rate among minorities was a result of discriminatory lending practices rather than a result of economic reality.

An interesting fact brought out in this video is that the liberal Democrats were the largest receipt of Fannie Mae campaign contributions. Chris Dodd, followed by Barack Omaba were the largest recipients of these contributions. When it comes to assessing blame for the current crisis, Democrats do not have clean hands.

This video is the best thing I have seen on the current crisis. At ten minutes, this is a little long but it is well worth watching. This video is fast-paced. I would suggest you use the pause button to take a good look at some of the charts and graphics.

I discovered this video posted on Blue Collar Muse. This needs to be seen by everyone wanting an understanding of the current crisis. If you are a blogger or belong to chat groups, please repost it. No need to post a link back, just repost it.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama: Who Are You?

"Watching Barack Obama over the last two years has left me absolutely stymied over who he is or what he believes. If you try to be everything, you don't stand for anything."

This video questions who is the real Obama. It is amazing the number of "clarifications" and flip-flops Omaba has been able to do and yet hang on to his supporters. I like the Obama that says he would get out of Iraq responsibly better than I liked the Obama who was calling for an immediate withdrawal and who opposed the surge. The current Obama seems like a much more reasonable, sensible, cautious, moderate guy than that Obama who was running against Hillary Clinton. That other Obama seemed a lot closer to Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinish than the new Obama. The thing that amasses me is that Omaba can move this fast and this far toward the center without the left feeling betrayed.

Is it all personality, a promise of change, celebrity, and charisma or is their any substance to Obama? He has no record or experience. He has not sponsored any significant legislation. He votes dependably liberal but has not taken the leadership on any issues. He has not championed any cause. What will we get if the country elects Senator Obama President? I really don't know if he will be a champion of liberal causes or govern from the center as a competent do-nothing administrator, or perhaps an incompetent do-nothing administrator. Maybe we will learn more in the debates, but for now I can not help but wonder if he is just an empty suit with no convictions. Of course from my prospective, if he is elected, I hope he is a competent administrator with no passionate convictions.

With no record and a press that treats him with respectful deference it is hard to know who he really is. He is hard to pin down. Dare I say that electing Obama would be like buying a pig in a poke?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's Time for the Federal Government to Abandon the Drug War

By Bob Barr, Huffington Post, Posted on September 18, 2008

As both a U.S. Attorney and Member of Congress, I defended drug prohibition. But it has become increasingly clear to me, after much study, that our current strategy has not worked and will not work. The other candidates for president prefer not to address this issue, but ignoring the failure of existing policy exhibits both a poverty of thought and an absence of political courage. The federal government must turn the decision on drug policy back to the states and the citizens themselves. (link)


Like William F. Buckley, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin and tens of millions of other Americans, I have "tried" marijuana. Unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale. Unlike Sarah Palin, I did enjoy it.

The War on Drugs has been a failure. I think ending the prohibition against marijuana would be a good place to start in changing our drug policy. Marijuana is a harmless drug. It is absolutely ridiculous that society continues to ruin lives and waste millions of dollars arresting and jailing people for engaging in such a harmless activity. If we had more marijuana and less alcohol the world would be a better place. Maybe, if marijuana was legal, more people would choose to get high rather than drunk. The worst thing you can say about marijuana is that it makes people have a stupid grin on their face and think that Oreo cookies are the best thing they ever tasted. People stoned on marijuana are not prone to domestic violence or barroom brawls. Stoned people find life amusing and, by and large, are easygoing and peaceful. Marijuana may be a net plus for society.

It time to end the asinine policy of pot prohibition. It is time to end the hypocrisy. Millions of Americans routinely engage in the harmless activity of smoking pot but yet have to lie about it. If they don't lie about it they may get arrested, or lose their job, or lose visitation rights or custody of their kids. I suspect that a lot of people who hold important jobs and are accomplished and responsible people routinely smoke a little dope. But, they cannot say, "yeah, I like to get stoned every once in a while." They may say that in their youth they "tried" the drug, but they do not admit to currently using it.

Making millions of people be liars and hypocrites is the least of the things wrong with our drug policy. People really do get a police record or go to jail or lose their jobs or lose child visitation rights because of using marijuana. Millions and millions of dollars are spend on law enforcement to prohibit people from engaging in a victim-less crime. Police resources are wasted on enforcing pot prohibition rather than concentrating on real crimes. I also suspect that the prohibition against marijuana weakens the ability to control other really harmful drugs. If you tell a young person that marijuana is harmful and then they discover you lied to them, why should they believe you when you tell them that crack is harmful?

Possession of small quantities of marijuana should not be a crime. Dealers should be licensed and taxed. Marijuana should be treated like tobacco or alcohol. More harmful drugs should be treated primarily as a health concern rather than a law enforcement issue. We should spend more on honest drug education and treatment and less on punishing the user. We should end the war on drugs and admit that drugs won.

I am not supporting Bob Barr for President, but I am pleased to see he is talking common sense about our irrational counterproductive War on Drugs.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Governor Sarah Palin Vlog #1

LOL! This is very very funny. I know Democrats may enjoy it more than Republicans, but you have got to admit this is funny without being mean-spirited. Don't loose your sense of humor. Enjoy!

This young lady is Sara Benincasa and this is the first of a series of video clips spoofing Sarah Palin. This is the only one I have watched so far but look forward to seeing more.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Did William Ayers Launch Obama's Political Career?

I was hesitant to post this video. Anybody can post a video on Youtube; that doesn’t make it true. I do not want to be guilty of character assignations or spreading smear attacks. I don’t know the truth of these allegations. Maybe, Ayers was just “a guy in the neighborhood.” Maybe Obama does “know thousands of people” and Ayers is just one of the people he knows.

Did Ayers give Obama the job as Director of the Annenberg Challenge? Did Ayers launch Obama’s political career? How close are Ayers and Obama? I don’t know. However, these charges are so serious and there seems to be sufficient evidence to support the charges that I would like to see some responsible journalist investigate the charges and either confirm or refute them.

To be fair, candidates raise lots of money from lots of sources. Does taking money from a disreputable person taint you? People may support a candidate; that does not mean the candidate supports those people. You may sit on a board of an organization with a disreputable, despicable person and that does not make you friends with them. There is an old adage that says, “you are known by the company you keep.” How much truth is in that?

How close of a relationship do you have to have with someone before it should be an issue? If a Republican candidate for President had had his career launched by an unrepentant former founder of a White supremacist militia-type organization that had committed acts of terror, but who is now a successful respected businessman, would that and should that be an issue in that candidates fitness for office?

Ayers was the founder of one of the most violent terrorist organizations in America’s history. The Weather Underground declared war on the United States, urged kids to kill their parents, bombed buildings and killed people, robbed banks, and committed other terrorist acts. Ayers is unrepentant. He says they did not bomb enough. We know Ayers and Obama had some sort of relationship. Before Obama is elected President, I would like to know the nature of that relationship. I think the public has a right to know.

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