Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crucial Turning Point

I didn't watch President Bush is address the nation last night, making the case for a proposal by his administration to spend $700 billion in taxpayer money to bail out financial institutions and (allegedly) avoid the complete collapse of the American financial system. I couldn't...because I'm entirely too pissed off about it.

I'm pissed because that's my money. They are using my money to rescue these financial institutions from their own ineptitude. This quote pretty much sums it up on this aspect:

Much of the $700 billion will flow to investment-community friends of Paulson, Bush and other administration figures. Average Americans who behaved irresponsibly by signing gimmick mortgages may get some taxpayer aid from the Paulson proposal, and maybe they should get none. But in the end, average Americans will still be liable for most of what they owe -- that is, will still be held responsible for their actions. Wealthy, politically connected insiders who run banks and companies such as American International Group will be exempt for responsibility for their actions, and will stuff taxpayer-subsidized millions into their pockets.
This action represents a definitive turning point in the history of this country, where we cast off any notion of being a free market society and openly embrace collectivism (or "Progressive Corporatism" if you will). Somehow we're supposed to believe that we need more regulation of financial though that isn't what caused this problem in the first place. Consider what Larry Elder has to say:
Ever hear of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO)? This
agency, which employs 200 people, exists for one thing and one thing only – to
"oversee" Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the "government-sponsored entities" that
own or guarantee 40 percent of the nation's residential mortgages. Mere months
before Freddie and Fannie's collapse and subsequent government takeover, OFHEO
issued a report that saw only clear sailing. The Community Reinvestment Act,
passed in 1977, mandated that lenders lend to high-risk borrowers – or else. The
government actually held up prudent bank mergers if one or both
sides did not sufficiently "lend" to borrowers who, under normal circumstances,
failed to qualify. Why is the federal government in the housing business in the
first place? We need less government, not more regulation.
Risk is a large part of finance, and a concept that is becoming increasingly foreign not only to consumers in our culture, but also to corporate entities now that they have the safety net of federal bailout. Remove the risk of failure, and people will take increasingly irresponsible risks. Keep bailing them out, and they will never stop doing it. Why would you not take risks if you know there was no real chance of experiencing the negative consequences of failure?

As Megan McArdle points out, "The Paulson plan is not a plan. It's a plan to maybe have a plan at some unspecified point in the future. The basic idea seems to be that we give the Fed a big pot of money, which it hands over to banks in exchange for illiquid securities. Essentially, we're recapitalizing the banks with federal money." She goes on to point out that nearly every conceivable necessary detail one would want to know before signing on for such a proposition is largely absent from the discussion. True to form, the federal government is trying to sucker us into the same thing they did the financial institutions: "take this risk or else, and don't worry it will us!"

Now don't get me wrong...there is most definitely a measure of accountability to which the decision makers in these finanacial institutions must be held, just as those citizens who made foolish choices in taking out mortgage loans they could not afford will be held accountable for their decisions. This proposal thusfar fails to establish such proper accountability. The proposed cap on executive salaries and bonuses does not establish such uses the guise of doing so to further meddle in free markets by trying to somehow legislate against greed. It attacks the symptom rather than the disease.

One Presidential candidate that not only could see this coming but did everything in his power to stop it was Ron Paul.* I am more inclined than ever to write his name in on my ballot this November. He is precisely the type of leader this country needs, and unless we send more men (and women) like him to Washington this country will continue to spiral until their is true tyranny and revolution.

* I would be remiss if I did not admit as well that John McCain saw this coming too in the case of Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, and proposed legislation to try and fix the problem. That said, the solution to the problem is not more legislation but elimination of much of the legislation that brought the problem about in the form of "affirmative action" style regulations forcing the banking industry to give higher percentages of loans to low-income and other groups that would otherwise not have qualified for these loans. In other words, the federal government mandated that these banks take more and higher risks than they otherwise would have, with the consequence for non-compliance being tremendous restrictions upon their ability to do business.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Conservatism Has A New Face

Picture from The Sun

The reaction was predictable...and telling. The morning after Sarah Palin's brilliant GOP Convention speech, they best the left can come up with is that she was engaging in "mean-spirited personal attacks" and has a hairdo from 20 years ago.

Oh sure, you get your typical liberal whining from the LA Times, but it doesn't really address a single thing Palin only decries conservatism in general with a long string of ridiculous emotion-based (rather than reason-based) arguments. It assumes that liberalism is self-evident truth (rather than self-preserving socialism) and then slams Palin for not falling in goose-step with that "truth."

As to the "mean-spirited personal attacks" that is a laughable charge. Let's look at some of these "personal attacks" included in her speech:

They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America. - A subtle reference to Michelle Obama and her statement, as support for her husband began to solidify, that she was proud of America "for the first time in [her] adult life." I'm sorry...there's nothing "mean-spirited" about reminding people of the constant dragging down of America that Obama and those around him engage in.

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities. - A direct rebuttal to the Obama campaign's criticism of her supposed inexperience immediately following McCain's announcement of her as his running mate. Now of course community organizers are good people in principle. Unsurprisingly, Obama's attack dog (campaign manager David Plouffe) tried to spin Palin's comments into a derision of the notion that your average ordinary person can play a role in political leadership. The problem is that you can't deride a vice presidential candidate's executive experience as the mayor of a town when your presidential candidate has NO executive experience and lists "community organizer" among his credentials. Again, this is not "mean-spirited." This is a direct response to a challenge to Palin's own experience by the Obama campaign.

I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.
- What is "mean-spirited" about reminding people of how Barack Obama spoke of the "bitter" folks of Middle America who "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment." How dare Gov Palin remind us of Obama's view of Middle America as preached to elitist Californians!

But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate. - I still see nothing "mean-spirited" about pointing out the fact that Barack Obama has indeed never authored a single piece of major legislation in his time in Illinois or Washington, yet indeed he has had time to author two memoirs. There is nothing "mean-spirited" about pointing out his utter lack of leadership in this respect, especially after putting forth her own numerous accomplishments.

I'm sure there are several more "personal attacks" in the speech, but again...what do you expect Sarah Palin to do when the Obama campaign goes directly at her and dismisses her years of executive experience as inconsequential?

The left (most especially the mainstream media) has thusfar woefully underestimated Sarah Palin. Last night gave them a clearer picture of what they're dealing with, and the reaction has ranged from naked panic to panic disquised as dismissiveness. Whether or not I ultimately end up voting for McCain-Palin, I will love seeing the MSM squirm as they try to deal with the self-proclaimed "pit bull" and staunch conservative that is Sarah Palin

Ideological Party Shifts

Something else I've been thining about increasingly is the ideological shifts of both of the major political parties. Over the past decade and a half the Republican Party has been taken over by neocons and true conservatives have been pushed to the side. Well, the same thing has happened to the Democratic Party, but in the opposite direction. Mainstream Democrats have been pushed to the side by ultra-liberal, types who have taken over the party. Obama's nomination and candidacy are proof positive of this. That is the only way that the most liberal Senator in Congress could be tapped as his party's nominee despite being a woefully inexperienced freshman. This fact was further reinforced today when his VP candidate, Joe Biden, said that he and Obama would pursue criminal charges against the Bush administration if elected. In other words, they're taking a page right out of the liberal whacko playbook (and in so doing appealing to their real base, the ultra-liberal fringe).

I feel bad for the true Democrats, mostly because as a conservative I can sympathize.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"We are a nation of Wasillas, not Chicagos"

Another way that Sarah Palin helps McCain is by appealing to "fly-over country," the heart of conservative America. We all remember the pictures of the 2004 electoral map by county which showed the county by county breakdown as to which candidate they voted for. While geographical area is meaningless when compared to population distribution, what it does show is that large metro areas tend to lean liberal while small towns tend to lean conservative. Conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway hit it dead on in stating the quote at the head of this post (as attributed by Peggy Noonan). Moreover, the point Ms Noonan was making rings true: Sarah Palin's executive experience in the town of Wasilla is most certainly relevant, particularly in a country where small towns the size of Wasilla outnumber large towns (100k plus) some 380:1.

I'm very much looking forward to Gov Palin's speech at the GOP Convention this evening. I hope for her sake it reveals her character, fight and values. This is her big moment...her true step out onto the national stage, and regardless of the outcome of the election it will provide her the opportunity to solidify herself as a champion of the conservative movement and a force to be reckoned with.


Are They Really That Stupid?

It seems the Obama campaign has decided to make abortion rights a major issue of this campaign in the remaining two months. The campaign has started running radio ads that attempt to scare women by telling them that John McCain will "take away their abortion rights."

When asked about the ad, the response from the McCain campaign was appropriate. They pointed out that Obama has strongly and consistently opposed legislation designed to protect the life of a baby who survives an abortion attempt. That's both the state and federal level, Barack Obama has opposed legislation that would prevent doctors from killing a baby that survived an attempted abortion and was fully birthed. That means this actually happens, folks. Women attempt to late-term abort babies that are fully viable, and when the baby survives the attempt and is born they may still be put to death despite clearly and unequivocably being babies not fetuses.

In their panic following the nomination of the staunchly pro-life Gov Sarah Palin, the Obama campaign has now made a huge blunder by bringing to the forefront an issue that will not help Obama one bit. All the McCain campaign need to is begin pointing out clearly and repeatedly what Obama and his liberal ilk really believe about the sanctity of life and mainstream America will quickly begin to distance themselves from him. It was already done indirectly by the clear difference in answers between McCain and Obama at Rick Warren's political forum, and Fred Thompson stated it more explicitly yesterday in his GOP Convention speech.

(In case you missed Thompson's speech, here is what he said: "we need a President who doesn't think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.")

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What Palin Does for McCain

Yeah, I know...I haven't posted anything in a couple months. Needless to say my life has become much busier and more complicated since my hospitalization.

Anyway, something occurred to me this morning that I wanted to put forth. I can't help but be drawn in to the amazing choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as John McCain's Vice Presidential running mate. It's been stated over and over again that this was a shrewd move meant to attract votes from disaffected women who had supported Hilary Clinton...that it takes away some of the mystique of the "historic" Obama campaign by making history of its own with the first female on a GOP presidential ticket...that it represents an attempt to shore up the conservative Republican base who have little love or use for "Maverick McCain" by giving them one of their own.

All these things are true, but one thing it does more clearly...and I believe will ultimately accomplish more to shed more light on Obama's specific positions. Case in point is the drama that occurred within days of Governor Palin's step into the spotlinght. She directly addressed rumors that were swirling around among the liberal blogs that she had faked a pregnancy to cover for that of her 17-year-old daughter. The truth is that her daughter IS pregnant, but more importantly she is keeping her baby and will be marrying its father. The Palin family is staunchly pro-life, and what fifty years ago would have been a devastating blow to a presidential ticket is actually serving to increase support. Sarah Palin is seen by many as somebody we can relate to with a family that reflects the heart of America and faces the same challenges many of us have faced.

Now, juxtapose that against statements from Obama back in March of this year. When questioned on the issue of sex education for America's children, Obama indicated that he believed both abstinence as well as safe-sex education should be taught. He then went on to explain just exactly what he means by sex education:
"But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know,
information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters. 9 years
old and 6 years old," he added.

"I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if
they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby," Obama said.

That last statement is simply amazing, and sadly reflective of the view of pro-choice liberals towards the sanctity of life. Only in their twisted rationale ("values and morals?") could a child be viewed as "punshment," and punishment that can be spared by simply making an appointment at the local clinic. It's very clear that Bristol Palin's family taught her about values and morals because she made the decision to keep her child on her own, and moreover will do the right thing in marrying the child's father (something else completely foreign to liberal feminists, who view him as little more than the oafish donor).

The more I think about it, the more brilliant the Palin pick appears to be. The whole "who is more inexperienced, Obama or Palin" angle is a lose-lose for Obama. Even if he successfully argues that he's more experienced, it's not by much and the fact is that he's running against McCain for the top spot, not Palin. The juxtaposition between Palin and Biden is almost comical, particularly since, as Mike Huckabee pointed out, Palin likely got more votes to be mayor of Wasilla than Biden got to be President during his primary candidacy. I would love nothing more than to see Palin eat Biden alive at the vice presidential debates.

I'm still undecided at this point on whether or not I can vote for McCain. I don't buy the "a vote for anyone else is a vote for Obama" bullcrap. If I can't in good conscience vote for someone then I won't vote for them, regardless of what the potential outcome may be. I cannot and will not give the approval of my vote to a party that has abandoned its principles just for fear of what the other guy might do.

Anyway, that's my rant for today. After months (seems like years!) of dullness in this campaign cycle, the race has finally gotten interesting. Oh, if only there could have been a Ron Paul/Sarah Palin ticket this year. I'd pull that lever :)

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