Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Radicalism In Soothing Tones


One of Obama's greatest strengths, it seems to me, is his ability make the radical sound perfectly reasonable to the uninformed. Joshua Muravchik, writing at the WSJ, thinks likewise. Mr. Muravchik examines the actions and ideology of The One, finding a man immersed in radicalism.

This from Joshua Muravchik writing at the WSJ:

. . . Throughout his Senate career, according to Americans for Democratic Action, the dean of liberal advocacy groups, Mr. Obama voted "right" 90% of the time. Actually this is misleading, since ADA counts an absence as if it were a vote on the "wrong" side. If we discount his absences, Mr. Obama voted to ADA's approval more than 98% of the time.

This touches directly on the question of what, beyond the platitudes of unity, hope and change, Mr. Obama himself believes in. His voting record is one indication. Another is his intellectual evolution.

Abandoned by his father when he was still too young to remember him and then sent at age 10 by his mother to live in Hawaii with her parents, who enrolled him in a prestigious prep school, Mr. Obama spent much of his teen years searching for his black identity. Late in his high-school career he found a mentor of sorts in Frank Marshall Davis, an older black poet. According to Herbert Romerstein, former minority chief investigator of the House Committee on Internal Security, FBI files reveal Davis to have been a member of the Communist Party not only in its public phase but also when it officially dissolved and went underground in the 1950s.

According to Mr. Obama, Davis told him that a white person "can't know" a black person, and that the "real price of admission" to college was "leaving your race at the door." Perhaps influenced by this, he reports that at college, "to avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets."

. . . Thanks to a grant from a left-wing foundation, he was hired by a small group of white protégés of Saul Alinsky, the original apostle of "community organizing." Alinsky's institutional base was the Industrial Areas Foundation, which he called a "school for professional radicals" and whose goal he announced to be "revolution, not revelation." As Mr. Obama himself would put it, there were "two roles that an organizer was supposed to play . . . getting the Stop sign [and] the educative function. At some point you have to link up winning that Stop sign . . . with the larger trends, larger movements." In other words, "community organizer," to Mr. Obama and his colleagues and mentors, was a euphemism for professional radical.

. . . Mr. Obama's turn to electoral politics signified no change in his basic ideological orientation. As his wife, Michelle, put it: "Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change." ("I take that observation as a compliment," Mr. Obama said as late as 2005.)

. . . In his campaign for the Illinois senate, Mr. Obama was endorsed by the New Party, a coalition of socialists, Communists and other leftists. According to the newsletter of the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, whose members were said to constitute 15 percent of the Chicago New Party, "Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP [which] mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP." Apparently, Mr. Obama signed such a pledge. After winning the primary (unopposed because his lawyers had succeeded in knocking all three opponents off the ballot), he appeared at a New Party membership meeting to voice his thanks.

Entering the national political scene eight years later, Mr. Obama did not, to be sure, appear as a radical, but he still bore the earmarks of the world in which he had been immersed for 20 years. He called himself "progressive," a term of art favored by veterans of the hard New Left, like Tom Hayden, as well as by old-time Communists. Early this year his wife, Michelle, lacking his tact, would kindle controversy by saying that his success in the presidential primaries made her feel proud of her country for the first time. The comment, a faux pas that she was soon at pains to explain away, flowed logically from her view, expressed in her standard stump speech, that our country is a "downright mean" place, "guided by fear," where the "life . . . that most people are living has gotten progressively worse."

. . . [Other] radicals, soft and hard, rushed to embrace Mr. Obama, often waxing rapturous in their support. Robert Borosage and Katrina vanden Heuvel enthused in The Nation that Mr. Obama's was "a historic candidacy," from which "new possibilities will be born." Michael Lerner wrote in Tikkun that the "energy, hopefulness, and excitement that manifests [sic] in Obama's campaign" was reminiscent of "the civil-rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women's movement, the environmental movement, and the movement for gay liberation." Most remarkably, Tom Hayden himself joined the chorus by breaking a New Left taboo against "red-baiting" and laying bare some of Hillary Clinton's own far-left history—this, in retaliation for the Clinton campaign's revelations about Mr. Obama's radical background.

Even after declaring his candidacy, and despite a certain inevitable sidling rightward, Mr. Obama still reflected the presuppositions of a radical worldview. In one notable remark, he said of voters in economic distress that in their desperation they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them." Chastised for his condescension, he responded: "I said something that everybody knows is true." This was elitism of a very specific kind—the mentality of the community organizer, according to which people in the grip of "false consciousness" need to be enlightened as to the true nature of their class interests, and to the nature of their true class enemies.

The same suppositions are again evident in Mr. Obama's stances on international issues. Iraq, as he sees it, is only a symptom. "I don't want to just end the war . . . I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place." And what would that mindset be? In a 2002 speech that he frequently cites, he said the war resulted from

the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors . . . to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne . . . the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income . . . the arms merchants in our own country . . . feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.

In this litany of global perfidy, the issues of Saddam Hussein's murderous dictatorship, of American security, of the future of freedom, shrink to inconsequentiality next to the struggle of the oppressed against their American capitalist overlords.

When it comes to Iran, Mr. Obama has acknowledged that the regime presents a problem. But his actions—he opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization—as well as his rhetoric imply that the greater danger emanates from George W. Bush (who is allegedly seeking "any justification to extend the Iraq war or to attack Iran"). Likewise on defeating terrorism, where he rejects the America-centric focus that Bush has given to the issue; instead, in the words of his aides, Obama's main goal is to "restore . . . our moral standing"—that is, to put an end to our aggressive ways.

Even the events of 9/11 could not shake Mr. Obama from the mindset that the enemy is always ourselves. The bombings, he wrote, reflected

the underlying struggle—between worlds of plenty and worlds of want; between the modern and the ancient; between those who embrace our teeming, colliding, irksome diversity, while still insisting on a set of values that binds us together; and those who would seek, under whatever flag or slogan or sacred text, a certainty and simplification that justifies cruelty toward those not like us.

In this reading, the lessons to be learned from the actions of Osama bin Laden and Mohamed Atta are that we must accept multiculturalism at home and share our wealth abroad.

Read the entire article. There is much in there about Bill Ayers, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and Rev. Wright. I have pointed out many times before, using much the same reasoning as this author, that Obama sees the worlds problems and solutions through the naive and distorted lens of Karl Marx.

By this paradigm, he divides the world up into victim groups, America the victimizer, and economic concerns as the panacea for all ills. For example, in the wake of 9-11, Obama identified the primary cause of Islamic violence as "a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair." We know that is not true – the typical terrorist is just as likely if not moreso to be educated and middle class. Then there was his comment that the "bitter" folk of our nation, those who take principled stands on their religion and Constitutional rights, only do so because they lack economic opportunity. Obama has expressed a similar view of Iran, positing that between his dynamic personality and just the right economic incentives, the mad mullahs can be divested of their religious principles that now drive their world-wide mayhem and murder. Indeed, he even held out WTO membership as the economic key to defusing the mad mullahs, not realizing that Iran had rejected WTO membership in 2006. They value their religion and their revolution far more than they care about the Iranian economy. For all of his intelligence, it would seem that Obama views the world through a naïve and distorted prism that, in the current circumstance, would prove not merely ineffectual, but highly dangerous.














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Obama, ACORN, & The Subprime Crisis

While President Clinton was putting the Community Reinvestment Act on steroids in the 1990's to move our financial industry to move heavilly into the subprime lending market, Community Organizer Obama was on the grass roots end of it assisting the far left organization ACORN and bringing law suits against banks to force them to engage in subprime lending. (See here). Maintaining lending standards was apparently racist, don't you know. Stanley Kurtz follows up with his article on this in an interview with Fox News

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Hear the Children . . .

. . . sing in praise of the Dear Leader



Ooops, sorry, wrong video . . .



Aren't political cults and the indoctrination of children so cute. . . . Let me see if I can find the one with the Hitler Youth Chorus glorifying Uncle Adolph. It will just melt your heart . . .

Update: And then there is this . . .



While the look is certainly militant, the language seems that of radical pacifism. Radical pacifists are, of course, not any less dangerous than other radicals. It is just that if a radical pacifist does happen to brutally attack you, it will be solely in the name of promoting peace.

(H/T Gateway Pundit)

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Pelosi's Coverup


If Nancy Pelosi has her way, their will be no investigation and no justice for the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac subprime crisis. This from the American Spectator:

. . . According to House Oversight Committee staff, [Congressman Rham] Emanuel has received assurances from Pelosi that she will not allow what he termed a "witch hunt" to take place during the next Congressional session over the role Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in the economic crisis.

Emanuel apparently is concerned the roles former Clinton Administration members may have played in the mortgage industry collapse could be politically -- or worse, if the Department of Justice had its way, legally -- treacherous for many.

The "many" includes vitrually everyone in the picture above.

Whether McCain wins the election - and how well Republicans do in the election - will be determined by how well they publicize responsibility for the fiscal crisis between now and November. Given Pelosi's plans, it is that or this seminal issue gets buried, allowing Democrats room to work ever more of their well intentioned, highly destructive policies on our nation.

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Chris Dodd, Barney Frank & The Subprime Crisis

There is a wealth of information, video and audio on the left's responsibility for the subprime crisis. Two at the center of it all are Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, two men who insured that nothing was done about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the name of "affordable housing" - that's code for a massive redistribution of funds on the basis of identity politics. Yet there is a total news blackout amongst all but a few media outlets on this. Fox News covers at least a portion of it today.



(H/T Hot Air)

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Clinton Weighs In For McCain On Subprime Crisis

McCain's new ad finally starts to take Obama and the left to task for ownership of the subprime crisis, with a helpful assist from former President Clinton.



Failure to say any of this was what cost McCain at the last debate and may well be what tips the election in favor of Obama. Given that the MSM is so over the top for Obama, McCain does himself no favors by valuing bipartisanship above reality.

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Wall St., Credit Default Swaps, Glass-Steagall, The Subprime Crisis . . . & Black Tuesday


"September 30 is the day when positions unwind and this is when the pain on Main Street will really start."

That dire prediction comes from Dinah Lord. Ms. Lord is a blogging friend who spent her formative years as a trader on Wall St. She has been kind enough to do a post explaining the role of deregulation of the finanicial industry with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1998 as well as the credit default swaps that are at the crux of the subprime crisis. It fills in an informational gap that I have not seen anywhere else. This is mandatory reading for all taxpayers.

This from Ms. Lord:

. . . Starting back in 1995, the masters of the bond and credit market universe got too cute by half and structured a new and exciting financial instrument, the credit default swap and it's these credit default swaps that are the crux of the problem. The magnitude of the fallout from this hairy piece of "financial engineering" is staggering. Believe me, when I tell you that these things are so wrapped around the axle I don't think anyone knows who's got what.

Under a CDS, a bank originates loan to a company. A second bank (or other financial institution) can agree to cover the credit risk for the loan, by agreeing to make payment to originating bank if the company defaults on the original loan. The originating bank pays a small insurance premium to the second bank for assuming the risk of the loan.

Typically, payments under a CDS would only be triggered by the company’s failure to pay interest or principal on its debts due to bankruptcy or some other severe liquidity issue. But there are a host of intermediate or special cases that will doubtless provoke lawsuits when something goes wrong (CDS being a new market, it is by no means "recession-proof").

Credit default swaps were sold to the world as hedging transactions. Investors were told that they were simply transfers of risk, so that banks that made loans could transfer credit risks to insurance companies, which did not make loans directly, or to foreign banks that could not easily make loans in the U.S. market.

But they didn't work out that way...the real estate bubble burst and the mortgage market melted down, factors of life their models didn't take into account. Which brings us to another Gods of the Copybook Heading meets Gordon Gecko Greed is Good moment...the moment when "Wall Street" took over and expanded the volume far beyond what was required for hedging risk. The traders at commercial banks and insurance companies, freed from the constraints of Glass-Steagall by Bill Clinton era deregulation, jumped in with both feet.

After all, bonuses depend on the volume of business. Therefore, bank traders sold the credit risk of a loan not just once, but as many as 10 times. And they sold it not to solid banks and insurance companies, but to three solid banks, one solid insurance company, three dodgy brokers and three hedge funds. Then the traders went out and sold other CDS products that were not even related to actual loans on the books, but to imaginary indices of credit quality in the "widget" industry.

The credit risk of the system was hugely multiplied.

Instead of one $10 million credit risk loan, there are now ten $10 million credit risks on just one loan.

See what I mean about being wrapped around the axle?

Because of this axle, banks around the world are under tremendous pressure. They've even stopped loaning to each other which tells you how bad it is. Bond traders have been standing around with their hands in their pockets - no one is making trades. LIBOR is quaking under the weight of the stress and the short term paper market has pretty much seized up. Commercial paper is how companies finance their day to day operations and make payroll. September 30 is the day when positions unwind and this is where the pain on Main Street will really start. A flood of redemptions is preparing to swamp Hedge Funds. The US Mint has stopped production of gold coins due to soaring demand. Tonight's Asian market open will indeed be interesting. . . .

This isn't over by a long shot. Unless this can get things moving quickly (and have you ever known anything to happen quickly when the US govt is involved?) havoc will continue to wreak the credit markets, the relief rally in the stock market will be brief. Will smart money continue to stay on the sidelines? Will there be any smart money left? At heart, financial markets are about confidence in the system and confidence has been gravely shaken.

In other words, the jig is up.

How bad it will be is anybody's guess. . . . I believe we will all muddle through somehow.

I'm also a free market trader and believe that the market has to work this out. These type of bailout programs just tend to delay the pain and there is going to be some pain, my friends. I oppose the structure of this bailout on principle, so watching these government types preening and posturing in front of the cameras this weekend was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. They are beyond clueless. And infuriating. For Nancy Pelosi to call the House Republicans for not attending negotiations that they weren't invited to attend is an outrage. To see these Democrats stand up in front of the cameras and outright lie their a$$e$ off just shows you what we're dealing with.

. . . If you are interested in learning more, this piece . . . is a good place to start and this will provide you a window into what's been going on with the banking side of the equation. If you want to laugh and learn as you get up to speed on these magillas go here and check out this horse race analogy.) . . . Some of Dinah's other Wall Street [blog posts] can be found here.

And please be reminded that the fasten seat belt sign is still illuminated. It's gonna be a bumpy one.

The full post contains much more in the way of musings, and I highly recommend her blog to all readers.


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Monday, September 29, 2008

The History Of The Left's Subprime Crisis


Roger Kimball, writing at PJM, gives a very good thumbnail history of the subprime crisis and how it is a creation of Democratic identity politics and interference in the market. This story cannot be repeated often enough, particularly when Nancy Pelosi and company, aided and abetted by the MSM, are baldly lying, loudly and repetetively in an effort to hide their responsiblity for the subprime swamp.
__________________________________________________

This from Roger Kimball:

. . . ”The Community Reinvestment Act” (see here for more).

* The original Community Reinvestment Act was signed into law in 1977 by Jimmy Carter. Its purpose, in a nutshell, was to require banks to provide credit to “under-served populations,” i.e., those with poor credit. The buzz word was “affordable mortgages,” e.g., mortgages with low teaser-rates, which required the borrower to put no money down, which required the borrower to pay only the interest for a set number of years, etc.

* In 1995, Bill Clinton’s administration made various changes to the CRA, increasing “access to mortgage credit for inner city and distressed rural communities,” i.e., it provided for the securitization, i.e. public underwriting, of what everyone now calls “sub-prime mortgages.”

Bottom line? It forced banks to issue $1 trillion in sub-prime mortgages.
$1 trillion, i.e., a thousand billion dollars in sub-prime,i.e., risky, mortgages, in order to push this latest example of social engineering.

But wait: how did it force banks to do this? Easy. Introduce a federal requirement that banks make the loans or face penalties. As Howard Husock, writing in City Journal way back in 2000 observed: “Bank examiners would use federal home-loan data, broken down by neighborhood, income group, and race, to rate banks on performance. There would be no more A’s for effort. Only results—specific loans, specific levels of service—would count.” Way back in 1994, for example, Barack Obama sued Citibank on behalf of a client who charged that the bank “systematically denied mortgages to African-American applicants and others from minority neighborhoods.”

* In 1997, Bear Stearns–O firm of blessed memory–was the first to get onto the sub-prime gravy train.

* Fannie Mae & Freddy Mac–were there near the beginning, too.

Anatomy of a bubble

Step 1. The intoxication: “My house is worth millions!” From 1995 - 2005, the number of sub-prime mortgages skyrocket. So did the house prices.

Step 2. The hangover: “Oh my God, my house isn’t selling. What went wrong?”
Why didn’t someone try to stop it?

Someone did: “The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago,” The New York Times, September 11, 2003.

But someone intervened to stymie the Bush administration. Who? The New York Times reports:

Supporters of the companies said efforts to regulate the lenders tightly under those agencies might diminish their ability to finance loans for lower-income families. . . . “These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”


Why didn’t someone else ring the alarm?

Someone else did. In 2005, John McCain co-sponsored the “Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act,” which among other things provided for more oversight of Freddie & Fannie. The bill didn’t pass. Guess who blocked it?
The bill was reintroduced in 2007. But again, no luck. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had friends in the Senate:

* Chris Dodd, a recipient of “sweetheart” loans from a Freddie and Fannie backed company.

* The junior senator from Illinois, i.e., Barack Obama, who turned to Jim Johnson, former head (1991-1998) of Fannie Mae, to help advise him on whom to pick for the vice-presidential slot on his ticket. From 1985 to 1990, incidentally, Johnson was managing director of Lehman Brothers. Remember them?

* You might also want to check out one of Barack Obama’s other advisors: Franklin Raines, former CEO of Freddie Mac: see here , for example, or here , or here.

Towards the end of the video, we read this salutary observation: “Everyone deserves a home, not a house of cards.”

Who gave us the house of cards? Watch the whole thing here (original link was here). And then pass it along to everyone you know.

There are at least two other actions at work here. Of course if someone smells a dollar on Wall St., they'll try and latch onto it. That is what they get paid to do. But they don't get paid to purchase assets worth $1 for $10. The risk assessment associated with subprime lending got completely skewed. No one yet has even attempted to explain why that I can find, let alone do so with clarity. The other action are the recently introduced Mark to Market accounting rules that require accounting for assets at fair market value today. This accounting rule has the advantage of exposing bad assets. But subprime loans are secured. They are not valueless, though in today's market, under the Mark to Market rule, securities relating to these loans have to be counted as $0 because no one will offer any value for them. That, according to many in the know, seems to be a large part of the current implosion.

Other posts related to Subprime Crisis (from oldest to newest):

1. McCain, The Fannie and Freddie Crisis, and Obamafuscation - Obama and the entire Democratic Party are trying to blame Republicans for the subprime crisis. But this crisis was created by Bill Clinton and protected against Republican efforts to reign it in over a decade – until it failed, nearly pulling out entire economic system into a depression.

2. Dodging a Depression - The NYT and WSJ document just how serious is the subprime crisis. Quite literally it brought us to the point of a complete and catastrophic stoppage of our financial systems. This was not a stock market crash, it was a lending and credit crash. The WSJ describes the events of the week leading up to the crisis point.

3. Obama & The "Family" Of Fannie Mae - Documenting Obama’s relationship to Fannie Mae.

4. The Origins – And Foreseeability – Of the Subprime Crisis - A 1999 article in the NYT describes the Clinton Administration forcing subprime loans onto America and also forecasts that this will create a house of cards that will fall apart in a down market.

5. The Left’s Subprime Meltdown - A post by the Anchoress discusses this subprime crisis as a creation of the left and a system that was protected to the end by the left. She adds additional sites, quotes and links to explain the mosaic.

6. Fannie & Freddie, McCain & Obama, Subprime & Wall St.The WSJ discusses both how the subprime loan market came about and how Democrats, including Obama, were both the cause of the problem and the roadblock to a solution that would have averted this catastrophe. Dafydd at Big Lizard's explains how Mortgage Backed Securities worked on Wall Street.

7. A Doddering Fool & Charlatan - Chris Dodd is up to his ears in the subprime crisis. With our economy teetering on an actual depression due to the Fannie/Freddie/subprime loan crisis, it was not merely surreal to watch Senator Chris Dodd chair an emergency hearing of the Senate Banking Committee to evaluate the Treasury's proposed rescue plan, it was obscene.

8. Finally – Oversight - The FBI has finally announced criminal investigations at Fannie and Freddie.

10. The President Addresses The Nation - Bush explains the stakes involved for America with the subprime crisis.

11. McCain The Chessmaster Part II - McCain was responding to a 3 a.m. phone call in returning to Washington. He is given political cover and support by Bill Clinton.

12. A Spotlight On The Left's Subprime Crisis - A video summary of the origins of the subprime crisis with lots of footage of Rep. Barney Frank and others protecting Fannie Mae from regulation by the Bush Administration and McCain.

13. WaMu Swallowed Up In The Left's Subprime Swamp - Washington Mutual goes under because of toxic mortgage debt.

14. Dodd, ACORN, and the Penultimate Screwing of the Taxpayers - The left, the people responsible for the subprime crisis, proposed a deal that would have used the return on rehabilitated investments not for the benefit of taxpayers but to fund progressive advocacy organizations that are fundamentally corrupt.

15. Krauthammer On The Subprime Crisis: Time For A Return To Public Executions - America is livid over this fiscal crisis and wants a pound of flesh to satiate its cravings before beginning the job of putting our financial house back in order. Krauthammer things we should give it to them and suggests a return to the auto de fe, this time as a reality show.

16. The Subprime Crisis, Dems, Obama & McCain - a great video giving the history of the subprime crisis.

17. Subprime Crisis: Spin versus C-Span - a video of 2004 hearings in which the House Democrats heaped scorn on the idea that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a disaster waiting to happen and fighting tooth and nail to preven any further regulation of Fannie and Freddie.

18. Thomas Sowell On The Subprime Crisis & Proposed Bailout - Economist Thomas Sowell weighs in on the need for the proposed bailout to stabilize the market and the politics at the root of this fiscal crisis.

19. Resolution of the Initial Subprime Crisis - Time For Investigation - A first look at the draft legislation and an outline of what else needs to happen to resolve this crisis.

20. The Treasury Dept. - Anerica's Newest Subprime Lender - The legislation to solve the subprime crisis is only aimed at part in shoring up financial markets. A large part of the bill requires that the Treasury Dept. act as the subprime lender of last resort.

21. The Subprime Crisis, ACORN & Obama, The Community Organizer - Obama's time as a community organizer was very much involved with ACORN's efforts to force subprime lending upon the financial institutions in Chicago.

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Happy New Year


To my Jewish friends on Rosh haShanah, the first day of Tisheri, celebrating the creation of man and a day of judgment. May you enjoy your celebration this eve and have a blessed year. Shana Tova.

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Nancy Pelosi Leads The Way To Defeat Of The Bailout (Updated)


The bomb-throwing Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has led the way to a failure of the bailout legislation in the House. Her speech today, blaming the supbrime crisis on Republicans, coupled with her failure to bring her own party in sufficient numbers to vote yes, has done the trick. Ninety-four members of her own party voted no. Republicans note that they thought they had 12 more votes in their own party until Nancy Pelosi - the leader of the party that owns the subprime crisis - blamed it all on Republicans. This woman is a clear and present danger to our nation.

I have written twenty-six posts on the origins of the subprime crisis, tracing it from . . .

the Clinton administrations regulatory changes to force the lowering of lending standards, to . . .

the Clinton Administration using the Community Reinvestment Act and Fannie/Freddie to drive an explosion of subprime lending, to . . .

Bush administration to reign in Freddie Mac begining in 2003 when the Enron style accounting scandal at Fannie Mae was exposed, to . . .

Democrats line in the sand defense against any tightening of standards or increased regulation, to . . .

Democrats, including Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid, repeated denials that there was any danger in this subprime lending, to . . .

the failure in markets to adequately assess the risk of the subprime loans and related securities, to . . .

McCain's co-sponsor of legislation in 2005 to reign in Fannie and Freddie, warning of the dire consequences to our economy if it did not occur, to . . .

Sen. Chris Dodd and the Democrats killing of that legislation, to . . .

last summer, with Fannie and Freddie failing due to the subprime swamp, Sen. Dodd and Sen. Schumer wanted legislation to allow them to vastly expand their subprime holdings, hoping that would stabilize the market, to . . .

word now that Obama's time as a community organizer was spent assisting ACORN and other far left groups in their mission to force expansion of subprime lending in Chicago, to . . .

word now that the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae was Obama.

With all of this in mind, see if yu can figure out why at least twelve Republicans who do not support this bailout legislation to begin with decided to cast a no vote after listening to this from Pelosi:



What needs to happen is every Republican House member needs to take the floor and find a microphone and start screaming about the subprime crisis from the rooftops. This is a crisis wholly created by the left's socialist intervention in the free market to begin with.

Other posts related to Subprime Crisis (from oldest to newest):

1. McCain, The Fannie and Freddie Crisis, and Obamafuscation - Obama and the entire Democratic Party are trying to blame Republicans for the subprime crisis. But this crisis was created by Bill Clinton and protected against Republican efforts to reign it in over a decade – until it failed, nearly pulling out entire economic system into a depression.

2. A Washington Post Front Page Hack Job - The Washington Post does a hit job on McCain, grossly distorting his record on regulatory matters and ignoring his cosponsoring of legislation to establish much stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

3. Dodging a Depression - The NYT and WSJ document just how serious is the subprime crisis. Quite literally it brought us to the point of a complete and catastrophic stoppage of our financial systems. This was not a stock market crash, it was a lending and credit crash. The WSJ describes the events of the week leading up to the crisis point.

4. Obama & The "Family" Of Fannie Mae - Documenting Obama’s relationship to Fannie Mae.

5. The Origins – And Foreseeability – Of the Subprime Crisis - A 1999 article in the NYT describes the Clinton Administration forcing subprime loans onto America and also forecasts that this will create a house of cards that will fall apart in a down market.

6. Covering The Left’s Fannie - The NYT tries to play up old ties of a McCain campaign worker with Fannie Mae while minimizing the fact that McCain himself, in 2005, co-sponsored legislation that may well have prevented the fiscal crisis we are in now.

7. The Left’s Subprime Meltdown - A post by the Anchoress discusses this subprime crisis as a creation of the left and a system that was protected to the end by the left. She adds additional sites, quotes and links to explain the mosaic.

8. Fannie & Freddie, McCain & Obama, Subprime & Wall St.The WSJ discusses both how the subprime loan market came about and how Democrats, including Obama, were both the cause of the problem and the roadblock to a solution that would have averted this catastrophe. Dafydd at Big Lizard's explains how Mortgage Backed Securities worked on Wall Street.

9. A Doddering Fool & Charlatan - Chris Dodd is up to his ears in the subprime crisis. With our economy teetering on an actual depression due to the Fannie/Freddie/subprime loan crisis, it was not merely surreal to watch Senator Chris Dodd chair an emergency hearing of the Senate Banking Committee to evaluate the Treasury's proposed rescue plan, it was obscene.

10. Finally – Oversight - The FBI has finally announced criminal investigations at Fannie and Freddie.

11. When Will They File As A 527 – The NYT continues its wholly biased reporting on the subprime crisis, refusing to report on the genesis of the crisis and instead, reporting on the relationship between Fannie Mae and Rick Davis of McCain’s campaign team.

12. McCain The Chessmaster - Opining on the potential risks and rewards of McCain's decision to cancel campaigning, return to Washington to take part in negotiations over a response to the subprime crisis, and tentatively cancel the Friday debate.

13. The President Addresses The Nation - Bush explains the stakes involved for America with the subprime crisis.

14. McCain The Chessmaster Part II - McCain was responding to a 3 a.m. phone call in returning to Washington. He is given political cover and support by Bill Clinton.

15. A Spotlight On The Left's Subprime Crisis - A video summary of the origins of the subprime crisis with lots of footage of Rep. Barney Frank and others protecting Fannie Mae from regulation by the Bush Administration and McCain.

16. WaMu Swallowed Up In The Left's Subprime Swamp - Washington Mutual goes under because of toxic mortgage debt.

17. Great Moments In Leadership - Obama phones it in on the subprime crisis.

18. The "No Deal" - McCain Responds - The left is blaiming McCain for failure of a deal on the subprime crisis. McCain answers in a memo.

19. Dodd, ACORN, and the Penultimate Screwing of the Taxpayers - The left, the people responsible for the subprime crisis, proposed a deal that would have used the return on rehabilitated investments not for the benefit of taxpayers but to fund progressive advocacy organizations that are fundamentally corrupt.

20. Krauthammer On The Subprime Crisis: Time For A Return To Public Executions - America is livid over this fiscal crisis and wants a pound of flesh to satiate its cravings before beginning the job of putting our financial house back in order. Krauthammer things we should give it to them and suggests a return to the auto de fe, this time as a reality show.

21. The Subprime Crisis, Dems, Obama & McCain - a great video giving the history of the subprime crisis.

22. Subprime Crisis: Spin versus C-Span - a video of 2004 hearings in which the House Democrats heaped scorn on the idea that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a disaster waiting to happen and fighting tooth and nail to preven any further regulation of Fannie and Freddie.

23. Thomas Sowell On The Subprime Crisis & Proposed Bailout - Economist Thomas Sowell weighs in on the need for the proposed bailout to stabilize the market and the politics at the root of this fiscal crisis.

24. Resolution of the Initial Subprime Crisis - Time For Investigation - A first look at the draft legislation and an outline of what else needs to happen to resolve this crisis.

25. The Treasury Dept. - Anerica's Newest Subprime Lender - The legislation to solve the subprime crisis is only aimed at part in shoring up financial markets. A large part of the bill requires that the Treasury Dept. act as the subprime lender of last resort.

26. The Subprime Crisis, ACORN & Obama, The Community Organizer - Obama's time as a community organizer was very much involved with ACORN's efforts to force subprime lending upon the financial institutions in Chicago.

Read More...

The Subprime Crisis, ACORN & Obama, The Community Organizer


In 2006, while John McCain was on the floor of the Senate trying to get legislation passed to reign in Fannie and Freddie and headoff this subprime disaster, Barack Obama was nowhere to be found. That is not surprising. Obama's work as a private citizen and a community organizer centered in large measure around promotion of subprime lending. An article today from Stanley Kurtz tells the story.
____________________________________________________

This from Stanley Kurtz writing in the NY Post:

WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? . . . Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.

In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.

In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.

THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Community Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.

CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in "subprime" loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.

. . . In fact, intimidation tactics, public charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansion have enabled ACORN to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contributions from America's financial institutions.

Banks already overexposed by these shaky loans were pushed still further in the wrong direction when government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began buying up their bad loans and offering them for sale on world markets.

Fannie and Freddie acted in response to Clinton administration pressure to boost homeownership rates among minorities and the poor. However compassionate the motive, the result of this systematic disregard for normal credit standards has been financial disaster.

ONE key pioneer of ACORN's subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott - an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae's mortgage policies.

Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in "direct action" - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a "living wage" law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.

In February 1990, Illinois regulators held what was believed to be the first-ever state hearing to consider blocking a thrift merger for lack of compliance with CRA. The challenge was filed by ACORN, led by Talbott. Officials of Bell Federal Savings and Loan Association, her target, complained that ACORN pressure was undermining its ability to meet strict financial requirements it was obligated to uphold and protested being boxed into an "affirmative-action lending policy." The following years saw Talbott featured in dozens of news stories about pressuring banks into higher-risk minority loans.

IN April 1992, Talbott filed an other precedent-setting complaint using the "community support requirements" of the 1989 savings-and-loan bailout, this time against Avondale Federal Bank for Savings. . . .

Two months later, aided by ACORN organizer Sandra Maxwell, Talbott announced plans to conduct demonstrations in the lobbies of area banks that refused to attend an ACORN-sponsored national bank "summit" in New York. She insisted that banks show a commitment to minority lending by lowering their standards on downpayments and underwriting - for example, by overlooking bad credit histories.

By September 1992, The Chicago Tribune was describing Talbott's program as "affirma- tive-action lending" and ACORN was issuing fact sheets bragging about relaxations of credit standards that it had won on behalf of minorities.

And Talbott continued her effort to, as she put it, drag banks "kicking and screaming" into high-risk loans. A September 1993 story in The Chicago Sun-Times presents her as the leader of an initiative in which five area financial institutions (including two of her former targets, now plainly cowed - Bell Federal Savings and Avondale Federal Savings) were "participating in a $55 million national pilot program with affordable-housing group ACORN to make mortgages for low- and moderate-income people with troubled credit histories."

What made this program different from others, the paper added, was the participation of Fannie Mae - which had agreed to buy up the loans. "If this pilot program works," crowed Talbott, "it will send a message to the lending community that it's OK to make these kind of loans."

Well, the pilot program "worked," and Fannie Mae's message that risky loans to minorities were "OK" was sent. The rest is financial-meltdown history.

IT would be tough to find an "on the ground" community organizer more closely tied to the subprime-mortgage fiasco than Madeline Talbott. And no one has been more supportive of Madeline Talbott than Barack Obama.

When Obama was just a budding community organizer in Chicago, Talbott was so impressed that she asked him to train her personal staff.

He returned to Chicago in the early '90s, just as Talbott was starting her pressure campaign on local banks. Chicago ACORN sought out Obama's legal services for a "motor voter" case and partnered with him on his 1992 "Project VOTE" registration drive.

In those years, he also conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN's up-and-coming organizers. That is, Obama was training the army of ACORN organizers who participated in Madeline Talbott's drive against Chicago's banks.

More than that, Obama was funding them. As he rose to a leadership role at Chicago's Woods Fund, he became the most powerful voice on the foundation's board for supporting ACORN and other community organizers. In 1995, the Woods Fund substantially expanded its funding of community organizers - and Obama chaired the committee that urged and managed the shift.

That committee's report on strategies for funding groups like ACORN features all the key names in Obama's organizer network. The report quotes Talbott more than any other figure; Sandra Maxwell, Talbott's ACORN ally in the bank battle, was also among the organizers consulted.

MORE, the Obama-supervised Woods Fund report acknowledges the problem of getting donors and foundations to contribute to radical groups like ACORN - whose confrontational tactics often scare off even liberal donors and foundations.

Indeed, the report brags about pulling the wool over the public's eye. The Woods Fund's claim to be "nonideological," it says, has "enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and government 'establishments' without undue risk of being criticized for partisanship."

Hmm. Radicalism disguised by a claim to be postideological. Sound familiar?

The Woods Fund report makes it clear Obama was fully aware of the intimidation tactics used by ACORN's Madeline Talbott in her pioneering efforts to force banks to suspend their usual credit standards. Yet he supported Talbott in every conceivable way. He trained her personal staff and other aspiring ACORN leaders, he consulted with her extensively, and he arranged a major boost in foundation funding for her efforts.

And, as the leader of another charity, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama channeled more funding Talbott's way - ostensibly for education projects but surely supportive of ACORN's overall efforts.

In return, Talbott proudly announced her support of Obama's first campaign for state Senate, saying, "We accept and respect him as a kindred spirit, a fellow organizer."

IN short, to understand the roots of the subprime-mort gage crisis, look to ACORN's Madeline Talbott. And to see how Talbott was able to work her mischief, look to Barack Obama.

Then you'll truly know what community organizers do.

Read the entire article.

Other posts related to Subprime Crisis (from oldest to newest):

1. McCain, The Fannie and Freddie Crisis, and Obamafuscation - Obama and the entire Democratic Party are trying to blame Republicans for the subprime crisis. But this crisis was created by Bill Clinton and protected against Republican efforts to reign it in over a decade – until it failed, nearly pulling out entire economic system into a depression.

2. A Washington Post Front Page Hack Job - The Washington Post does a hit job on McCain, grossly distorting his record on regulatory matters and ignoring his cosponsoring of legislation to establish much stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

3. Dodging a Depression - The NYT and WSJ document just how serious is the subprime crisis. Quite literally it brought us to the point of a complete and catastrophic stoppage of our financial systems. This was not a stock market crash, it was a lending and credit crash. The WSJ describes the events of the week leading up to the crisis point.

4. Obama & The "Family" Of Fannie Mae - Documenting Obama’s relationship to Fannie Mae.

5. The Origins – And Foreseeability – Of the Subprime Crisis - A 1999 article in the NYT describes the Clinton Administration forcing subprime loans onto America and also forecasts that this will create a house of cards that will fall apart in a down market.

6. Covering The Left’s Fannie - The NYT tries to play up old ties of a McCain campaign worker with Fannie Mae while minimizing the fact that McCain himself, in 2005, co-sponsored legislation that may well have prevented the fiscal crisis we are in now.

7. The Left’s Subprime Meltdown - A post by the Anchoress discusses this subprime crisis as a creation of the left and a system that was protected to the end by the left. She adds additional sites, quotes and links to explain the mosaic.

8. Fannie & Freddie, McCain & Obama, Subprime & Wall St.The WSJ discusses both how the subprime loan market came about and how Democrats, including Obama, were both the cause of the problem and the roadblock to a solution that would have averted this catastrophe. Dafydd at Big Lizard's explains how Mortgage Backed Securities worked on Wall Street.

9. A Doddering Fool & Charlatan - Chris Dodd is up to his ears in the subprime crisis. With our economy teetering on an actual depression due to the Fannie/Freddie/subprime loan crisis, it was not merely surreal to watch Senator Chris Dodd chair an emergency hearing of the Senate Banking Committee to evaluate the Treasury's proposed rescue plan, it was obscene.

10. Finally – Oversight - The FBI has finally announced criminal investigations at Fannie and Freddie.

11. When Will They File As A 527 – The NYT continues its wholly biased reporting on the subprime crisis, refusing to report on the genesis of the crisis and instead, reporting on the relationship between Fannie Mae and Rick Davis of McCain’s campaign team.

12. McCain The Chessmaster - Opining on the potential risks and rewards of McCain's decision to cancel campaigning, return to Washington to take part in negotiations over a response to the subprime crisis, and tentatively cancel the Friday debate.

13. The President Addresses The Nation - Bush explains the stakes involved for America with the subprime crisis.

14. McCain The Chessmaster Part II - McCain was responding to a 3 a.m. phone call in returning to Washington. He is given political cover and support by Bill Clinton.

15. A Spotlight On The Left's Subprime Crisis - A video summary of the origins of the subprime crisis with lots of footage of Rep. Barney Frank and others protecting Fannie Mae from regulation by the Bush Administration and McCain.

16. WaMu Swallowed Up In The Left's Subprime Swamp - Washington Mutual goes under because of toxic mortgage debt.

17. Great Moments In Leadership - Obama phones it in on the subprime crisis.

18. The "No Deal" - McCain Responds - The left is blaiming McCain for failure of a deal on the subprime crisis. McCain answers in a memo.

19. Dodd, ACORN, and the Penultimate Screwing of the Taxpayers - The left, the people responsible for the subprime crisis, proposed a deal that would have used the return on rehabilitated investments not for the benefit of taxpayers but to fund progressive advocacy organizations that are fundamentally corrupt.

20. Krauthammer On The Subprime Crisis: Time For A Return To Public Executions - America is livid over this fiscal crisis and wants a pound of flesh to satiate its cravings before beginning the job of putting our financial house back in order. Krauthammer things we should give it to them and suggests a return to the auto de fe, this time as a reality show.

21. The Subprime Crisis, Dems, Obama & McCain - a great video giving the history of the subprime crisis.

22. Subprime Crisis: Spin versus C-Span - a video of 2004 hearings in which the House Democrats heaped scorn on the idea that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a disaster waiting to happen and fighting tooth and nail to preven any further regulation of Fannie and Freddie.

23. Thomas Sowell On The Subprime Crisis & Proposed Bailout - Economist Thomas Sowell weighs in on the need for the proposed bailout to stabilize the market and the politics at the root of this fiscal crisis.

24. Resolution of the Initial Subprime Crisis - Time For Investigation - A first look at the draft legislation and an outline of what else needs to happen to resolve this crisis.

25. The Treasury Dept. - Anerica's Newest Subprime Lender - The legislation to solve the subprime crisis is only aimed at part in shoring up financial markets. A large part of the bill requires that the Treasury Dept. act as the subprime lender of last resort.

Read More...

The Treasury Dept - America's Newest Subprime Mortgage Broker


You can find the draft legislation of the subprime bailout bill here. I just paroused it. It could not be any worse and still stand a chance of passing. It will be voted on today in the House. This is my analysis of the bill.

This legislation is far more than a stop gap to the financial system. It is a massive give-away to those who borrowed too much and are now in trouble. This legislation does not give a bankruptcy judge the power to change the terms of the contract and devalue assets. It's worse. It requires the Treasury Dept. do it. This is a travesty. It injects a whole new version of government intervention in the marketplace. Bottom line, this legislation is far less about taking care of Main Street than it is about insuring the votes of those on Easy Street.

There are several good points to this legislation. The good is that:

1. In the short term, this legislation might reopen the credit arteries of our nation and settle the markets. With most of the poison pills removed, that really is the alpha and omega.

2. The limitations on executive compensation and golden parachutes in Section 111 are far less onerous than they might have been. They are carefully circumscribed and limited in time. I cannot see them driving financial institutions out of the U.S.

3. I appreciate the market transparency required by Sec. 114 of placing all transactions on the web accessible to the public. It certainly will be a major step towards minimizing fraud and providing public accountability.

4. By Sec. 117, The Comptroller General is required to do a "study to determine the extent to which leverage and sudden deleveraging of financial institutions was a factor behind the current financial crisis." This is actually far too limited in scope, but it is all we will get out of Congress.

5. Possibly the best thing to come out of this legislation is found in Sections 132 and 133, suspending the year old Mark to Market accounting rules that have contributed so heavilly to the current fiscal crisis. These sections also direct a study of the impact of the Mark to Market accounting rule.

Now for the bad - and it is bad:

As a threshold matter, this legislation should be designed simply to purchase distressed assets, get them off of the books, establish a value for them, and then resell them, all with the intent of protect the financial health of our nation with, in the end, as little harm to the taxpayers as possible. This legilation goes far beyond that. If you are a subprime borrower and Treasury purchased your loan - hey, its Christams time.

SEC. 109. FORECLOSURE MITIGATION EFFORTS.

(a) RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN SERVICING STANDARDS.— To the extent that the Secretary acquires mortgages, mortgage backed securities, . . . the Secretary shall implement a plan that seeks to maximize assistance for homeowners and use the authority of the Secretary to encourage the servicers of the underlying mortgages, considering net present value to the taxpayer, to take advantage of the HOPE for Home
owners Program under section 257 of the National Housing Act or other available programs to minimize foreclosures. In addition, the Secretary may use loan guarantees and credit enhancements to facilitate loan modifications to prevent avoidable foreclosures.
. . . .
(c) CONSENT TO REASONABLE LOAN MODIFICATION REQUESTS.— Upon any request arising under existing investment contracts, the Secretary shall consent, where appropriate, and considering net present value to the taxpayer, to reasonable requests for loss mitigation measures, including term extensions, rate reductions, principal write downs, increases in the proportion of loans within a trust or other structure allowed to be modified, or removal of other limitation on modifications.

(emphasis added)

This is nothing more than one more massive Democratic giveaway to buy their constituency. Allowing Treasury to work with existing homeowners on the margins is one thing. Making allowances for actual cases of fraud is one thing. Directing Treasury to become a super-subprime mortgage broker of the first resort is quite another. At best, this will cost the taxpayers dearly and further skew the housing market, lengthening the crisis and the shakeout from the housing bubble. At worst, this could become another economy threatening beast all on its own, though it would be with printed money and thus threaten inflation more than anything.

In case you do not understand where Democratic priorities lie from the above provisions, you can also take note of the Oversight provisions at Section 116. The first thing to which the Comptroller General is directed to examine in its inspection of the Treasury program is "foreclosure mitigation."

Section 125 might be entitled the Protect Democrats Act, the legislation establishes a Congressional Oversight Panel with unequal, weighted representation towards majority party. Thus we will have the same people who brought us the subprime debacle overseeing this massive program. Worse, the legislation authorizes the Democratic controlled panel to make recommendations for large scale reform of the regulatory system. These are the same people who refused to regulate Fannie Mae because they did not want to disturb "affordable housing," regardless of the cost. And as the above should make clear, their priorities have not changed.

Section 134 is the baby of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Thus, not surprisingly, it is an abortion. It provides that, if in five years all funds are not recouped by the Treasury for this bailout, then the President "shall" submit legislation providing for a tax on the financial services industry. Its hard to enumerate all of the facets of the glaring stupidity of this one. For a start, it punishes the entire financial sector - who will merely pass through the taxes to any taxpayers foolish enought to use such arcane things as banks, S&L's, or have 401k's, etc. Two, how much of the shortfall will be due to the insane insistence of the left of preventing foreclosures on subprime loans. All of the taxpayers get our pockets picked a second time to cover Democratic largesse to their base. And three, this interjects uncertainty into the U.S. financial system both today - when we need it the least - and in the long term. This Pelosi abortion will assuredly effect foreign investment in our financial sector.

Would I vote for this bill if I were in Congress? Probably, because I believe the markets will fail without it. That said, I would get every one of my objections on record before taking that vote. Then, with the better part of a fifth of Wild Turkey coursing through my veins, . . . .

That said, this legislation goes nowhere near far enough. I will repeat the recommendations that I made in an earlier post:

I. We need a true non-partisan, non-Congressional commission to investigate the causes of this meltdown. This crisis begins and ends with the socialist left in Congress. In the middle are mortgage brokers and Wall St. The story needs to be told from beginning to end. It will not happen under Congress, but there is nothing stopping President Bush from appointing such a commission the day after the above legislation is passed.

This is a crisis that, on a fiscal scale, dwarfs 9-11. And it exposes fundamental problems in both our political and financial worlds that we fail to identify at our own peril. How our best financial minds ended up purchasing this toxic debt needs to be thoroughly investigated. The system used by Wall St. to analyze and value the now worthless securities needs to be pulled apart with the detail a post mortem. And our regulatory scheme needs to be overhauled. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been calling for this for some time. Now seems an opportune moment to redo and streamline a regulatory system built for the last century. I have no faith, however, in the current Democratic Congress to carry this out in good faith.

II. The Community Reinvestment Act and all Clinton-era rules relating to subprime borrowing need to be revised to end government mandates for this scourge. There is nothing wrong with a government program to work with low and middle income folks to repair any credit problems. And I would support a program for such people to invest in a tax free fund in order to build up funds for a down payment. That is a market based approach. We know how the socialist approach works.

III. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and indeed, the whole concept of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE's) that so distort the marketplace need to be scrapped.

IV. There needs to be criminal investigations of those involved in the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac fiasco. This has begun - years too late. Nothing is clearer than the individuals who ran these institutions cooked the books. Franklin Raines should still be in jail following his conviction in 2004. His cell mates should be Chris Dodd, Janet Reno and Jamie Goerlock.

V. And lastly, I think that we really should seriously consider Charles Krauthammer's suggestion of public executions as regards this subprime crisis.



Other posts related to Subprime Crisis (from oldest to newest):

1. McCain, The Fannie and Freddie Crisis, and Obamafuscation - Obama and the entire Democratic Party are trying to blame Republicans for the subprime crisis. But this crisis was created by Bill Clinton and protected against Republican efforts to reign it in over a decade – until it failed, nearly pulling out entire economic system into a depression.

2. A Washington Post Front Page Hack Job - The Washington Post does a hit job on McCain, grossly distorting his record on regulatory matters and ignoring his cosponsoring of legislation to establish much stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

3. Dodging a Depression - The NYT and WSJ document just how serious is the subprime crisis. Quite literally it brought us to the point of a complete and catastrophic stoppage of our financial systems. This was not a stock market crash, it was a lending and credit crash. The WSJ describes the events of the week leading up to the crisis point.

4. Obama & The "Family" Of Fannie Mae - Documenting Obama’s relationship to Fannie Mae.

5. The Origins – And Foreseeability – Of the Subprime Crisis - A 1999 article in the NYT describes the Clinton Administration forcing subprime loans onto America and also forecasts that this will create a house of cards that will fall apart in a down market.

6. Covering The Left’s Fannie - The NYT tries to play up old ties of a McCain campaign worker with Fannie Mae while minimizing the fact that McCain himself, in 2005, co-sponsored legislation that may well have prevented the fiscal crisis we are in now.

7. The Left’s Subprime Meltdown - A post by the Anchoress discusses this subprime crisis as a creation of the left and a system that was protected to the end by the left. She adds additional sites, quotes and links to explain the mosaic.

8. Fannie & Freddie, McCain & Obama, Subprime & Wall St.The WSJ discusses both how the subprime loan market came about and how Democrats, including Obama, were both the cause of the problem and the roadblock to a solution that would have averted this catastrophe. Dafydd at Big Lizard's explains how Mortgage Backed Securities worked on Wall Street.

9. A Doddering Fool & Charlatan - Chris Dodd is up to his ears in the subprime crisis. With our economy teetering on an actual depression due to the Fannie/Freddie/subprime loan crisis, it was not merely surreal to watch Senator Chris Dodd chair an emergency hearing of the Senate Banking Committee to evaluate the Treasury's proposed rescue plan, it was obscene.

10. Finally – Oversight - The FBI has finally announced criminal investigations at Fannie and Freddie.

11. When Will They File As A 527 – The NYT continues its wholly biased reporting on the subprime crisis, refusing to report on the genesis of the crisis and instead, reporting on the relationship between Fannie Mae and Rick Davis of McCain’s campaign team.

12. McCain The Chessmaster - Opining on the potential risks and rewards of McCain's decision to cancel campaigning, return to Washington to take part in negotiations over a response to the subprime crisis, and tentatively cancel the Friday debate.

13. The President Addresses The Nation - Bush explains the stakes involved for America with the subprime crisis.

14. McCain The Chessmaster Part II - McCain was responding to a 3 a.m. phone call in returning to Washington. He is given political cover and support by Bill Clinton.

15. A Spotlight On The Left's Subprime Crisis - A video summary of the origins of the subprime crisis with lots of footage of Rep. Barney Frank and others protecting Fannie Mae from regulation by the Bush Administration and McCain.

16. WaMu Swallowed Up In The Left's Subprime Swamp - Washington Mutual goes under because of toxic mortgage debt.

17. Great Moments In Leadership - Obama phones it in on the subprime crisis.

18. The "No Deal" - McCain Responds - The left is blaiming McCain for failure of a deal on the subprime crisis. McCain answers in a memo.

19. Dodd, ACORN, and the Penultimate Screwing of the Taxpayers - The left, the people responsible for the subprime crisis, proposed a deal that would have used the return on rehabilitated investments not for the benefit of taxpayers but to fund progressive advocacy organizations that are fundamentally corrupt.

20. Krauthammer On The Subprime Crisis: Time For A Return To Public Executions - America is livid over this fiscal crisis and wants a pound of flesh to satiate its cravings before beginning the job of putting our financial house back in order. Krauthammer things we should give it to them and suggests a return to the auto de fe, this time as a reality show.

21. The Subprime Crisis, Dems, Obama & McCain - a great video giving the history of the subprime crisis.

22. Subprime Crisis: Spin versus C-Span - a video of 2004 hearings in which the House Democrats heaped scorn on the idea that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a disaster waiting to happen and fighting tooth and nail to preven any further regulation of Fannie and Freddie.

23. Thomas Sowell On The Subprime Crisis & Proposed Bailout - Economist Thomas Sowell weighs in on the need for the proposed bailout to stabilize the market and the politics at the root of this fiscal crisis.

24. Resolution of the Initial Subprime Crisis - Time For Investigation - A first look at the draft legislation and an outline of what else needs to happen to resolve this crisis.

Read More...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Barney Frank's Fingerprints


One of the few sure things in this world is that we as Americans are all better off when Barney Frank is leaving his fingerprints anywhere other than on our economy. Exhibit 1 in support of that truism is the subprime crisis driving our economy to the brink of depression. If you dust the subprime crisis for prints, you will find Frank's all over them. But to listen to Barney Frank today, capitalism and free markets are the cause of the current fiscal crisis. This turns reality on its head. Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe notes Barney Frank's bald faced falsehoods.

This from Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe.

'THE PRIVATE SECTOR got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it."

That's Barney Frank's story, . . . As the Massachusetts Democrat has explained it in recent days, the current financial crisis is the spawn of the free market run amok, with the political class guilty only of failing to rein the capitalists in. The Wall Street meltdown was caused by "bad decisions that were made by people in the private sector," Frank said; the country is in dire straits today "thanks to a conservative philosophy that says the market knows best." And that philosophy goes "back to Ronald Reagan, when at his inauguration he said, 'Government is not the answer to our problems; government is the problem.' "

In fact, that isn't what Reagan said. His actual words were: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Were he president today, he would be saying much the same thing.

Because while the mortgage crisis convulsing Wall Street has its share of private-sector culprits they weren't the ones who "got us into this mess." Barney Frank's talking points notwithstanding, mortgage lenders didn't wake up one fine day deciding to junk long-held standards of creditworthiness in order to make ill-advised loans to unqualified borrowers. It would be closer to the truth to say they woke up to find the government twisting their arms and demanding that they do so - or else.

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods." Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this "subprime" lending by authorizing ever more "flexible" criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

All this was justified as a means of increasing homeownership among minorities and the poor. Affirmative-action policies trumped sound business practices. A manual issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston advised mortgage lenders to disregard financial common sense. "Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor," the Fed's guidelines instructed. Lenders were directed to accept welfare payments and unemployment benefits as "valid income sources" to qualify for a mortgage. Failure to comply could mean a lawsuit.

As long as housing prices kept rising, the illusion that all this was good public policy could be sustained. But it didn't take a financial whiz to recognize that a day of reckoning would come. . . .

Frank's . . . fingerprints are all over this fiasco. Time and time again, Frank insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in good shape. Five years ago, for example, when the Bush administration proposed much tighter regulation of the two companies, Frank was adamant that "these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis." When the White House warned of "systemic risk for our financial system" unless the mortgage giants were curbed, Frank complained that the administration was more concerned about financial safety than about housing.

Now that the bubble has burst and the "systemic risk" is apparent to all, Frank blithely declares: "The private sector got us into this mess." Well, give the congressman points for gall. Wall Street and private lenders have plenty to answer for, but it was Washington and the political class that derailed this train. If Frank is looking for a culprit to blame, he'll find one suspect in the nearest mirror.

Read the entire article. Unfortunately, its the narrative being articulated by Frank and his fellow Democrats in Congress that is being shouted far louder and with greater repetition. Yet again, Republicans are ceding the narrative. It is obscene.


Read More...

The Second Ten Commandments


The Evangelical Alliance of the UK has drafted the Ten Commandments of Blogging - apparently as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement of the original ten. Heed and be afraid, blogging heathens.

Straight from the burning blog, written in pixels on a simulated stone tablet by the flaming keystrokes . . .

1. You shall not put your blog before your integrity.

2. You shall not make an idol of your blog

3. You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin

4. Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog

5. Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes

6. You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings

7. You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind

8. You shall not steal another person's content

9. You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger

10. You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content

Hmmmmm. . . . I do about as well with them as I do with the first ten. No problem - I've always had a fondness for warm climates. And who knows, perhaps I can get David Duchovney's autograph while I'm there.


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Carnival of the Insanities


Each week, Dr. Sanity parouses the news for evidence of nerousis, psychosis, and the just plain nuts. She posts it at her site for our theraputic viewing. Do pay her a visit.

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Resolution Of The Initial Problems Caused By The Subprime Crisis - Time For Investigation & Resolution


If you hear any of the above individuals utter the words "affordable housing" or "Democrats bear no responsibility" or "Democrats have cleaned up the mess," should a brick you are carrying mysteriously leave your hand and, guided by mystical forces, become lodged in the mouth of the speaker, pray that I am on your jury. You can be assured that you will not be convicted.

The Rogues Gallery pictured above is from the NYT front page story announcing an agreement on the main points of a bailout plan. While the individuals pictured above, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Harry Reid, appear happy and smug, there is not a single taxpayer who should feel anything but all consuming anger and a desire for 700 billion pounds of flesh.

From the few details of the bailout plan that are leaking out, this deal still appears problematic. Some of the provisions may well have longterm, unintended consequences. Or they may in fact be reasonable, we will have to wait for the final legislation and read it line by line. At least most of the poison pill provisions added by the left to benefit their far left constituency have apparently been removed thanks to House Republicans. Regardless, this is just a first step. There are many things missing from the above plan that are desperately needed in the wake of this crisis.

This from the NYT:

Congressional leaders and the Bush administration reached a tentative agreement early Sunday on what may become the largest financial bailout in American history, authorizing the Treasury to purchase $700 billion in troubled debt from ailing firms in an extraordinary intervention to prevent widespread economic collapse.

Officials said that Congressional staff members would work through the night to finalize the language of the agreement and draft a bill, and that the bill would be brought to the House floor for a vote on Monday.

The bill includes pay limits for some executives whose firms seek help, aides said. And it requires the government to use its new role as owner of distressed mortgage-backed securities to make more aggressive efforts to prevent home foreclosures.

In some cases, the government would receive an equity stake in companies that seek aid, allowing taxpayers to profit should the rescue plan work and the private firms flourish in the months and years ahead.

The White House also agreed to strict oversight of the program by a Congressional panel and conflict-of-interest rules for firms hired by the Treasury to help run the program. . . .

There is more detailed information at the WSJ:

1. The first $250 billion will be available immediately with other funds being made available as needed based on Congressional authorization.

2. The legislation "will expand the range of firms that can sell troubled assets to the government to include pension plans, local governments and community banks serving 'low- and middle-income families.'"

3. The government "would be able to receive warrants it could hold until maturity from financial firms on assets received either through auctions or through direct purchases."

4. The legislation "would institute new executive compensation requirements for participating companies, including "no multi-million dollar golden parachutes," limits on compensation generally, and the ability to recover "bonuses paid based on promised gains that later turn out to be false or inaccurate."" This could be problematic indeed. Punishing Wall St. seems to me something that could have many undesirable unintended consequences, from keeping firms from participating to driving financial services overseas.

5. The plan provides for "the federal government to recoup money for taxpayers if the asset-purchase program isn't making money after a certain amount of time. A House leadership aide said early Sunday morning that details were not immediately available. But the general concept was to provide Congress with a mechanism that would be triggered perhaps within five years to allow lawmakers to offset some, if not all, of the bailout costs." While I am all for repayment of taxpayer funds, I wonder how much uncertainty this will cause, either now or in five years. Further, I would like to see funds recouped from those who violated laws and regulations at all levels rather than a general plan to target the market as a whole.

6. Democrats have agreed "to drop a proposal to devote 20% of potential profits to an affordable housing fund . . ." This was the far left organization/ACORN full employment plan. It was - and should have been - a deal killer.

7. The legislation includes "requirements that Treasury seek to mitigate and reduce foreclosures where possible. . . [T]he legislation would allow the Treasury to work with cash-strapped homeowners whose mortgages are purchased by the federal government to refinance into a more affordable mortgage." I have real problems with this. This has the potential to be another boondoggle and redistribution program, particularly with Chris Dodd and Barney Frank riding herd on oversight. I want to see how this is written into the legislation.

8. "Other foreclosure-prevention measures include an extension of the tax holiday for homeowners who face foreclosure, as well as a tax break for community banks that held shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The rescue plan will allow affected banks to take an immediate tax deduction on losses from investments in the two firms, which were taken over by the federal government earlier this month." This sounds palatable.

9. "It also includes a bipartisan oversight board appointed by members of both parties in Congress, an inspector general to monitor Treasury decisions, and regular audits from the Government Accountability Office. Treasury will also have to post publicly and online transactions made through the troubled asset program." I appreciate the transparency provision. I have real problems with an oversight board that will no doubt be populated by the same Democrats whose economic ignorance and desire to redistribute wealth got us into this mess in the first place. If the board provides for proportional representation rather than equal representation, it should be a non-starter.

10. "[T]he tentative agreement reached Saturday allows for judicial review of Treasury decisions." This sounds like a bone to the plaintiff's bar. This is an invitation to add billions to the costs of this program and to slow down its complete implementation by years.

Hot Air informs us that the far left's attempt to load up the bill with goodies for their constituencies - beyond the ACORN Lifetime Funding provision discussed above - have also been removed from the bill:

- Provision to provide unions and other activist groups with proxy access for corporate boards

- Provision to mandate shareholder votes on compensation issues (union priority)

- A provision to allow trial judges to arbitrarily adjust mortgages, creating bonanza for trial lawyers

- A provision to require the government to sell to state and local governments at a discount homes the government acquires as a result of foreclosure

Perhaps most importantly, Hot Air tells us that the new legislation "also suspends mark-to-market rules and requires a study on their effects on the collapse."

This from the AJC:

“Mark to market” is an accounting measure that took effect last year, which forces companies to disclose information about the immediate market value of their assets. Gingrich says it has forced a “spiral” of devaluation; supporters of the practice say that it forces businesses to reveal poor investments, and is a mere scapegoat in the current debate.

You can find a detailed explanation of the accounting rule and the problems it has created in a tightening and risk averse market at the Washington Post. Changing this accounting rule might, by itself, radically effect the current subprime crisis.

All of these are but a single step along a long road. There needs to be much more.

I. We need a true non-partisan, non-Congressional commission to investigate the causes of this meltdown. This crisis begins and ends with the socialist left in Congress. In the middle are mortgage brokers and Wall St. The story needs to be told from beginning to end. It will not happen under Congress, but there is nothing stopping President Bush from appointing such a commission the day after the above legislation is passed.

This is a crisis that, on a fiscal scale, dwarfs 9-11. And it exposes fundamental problems in both our political and financial worlds that we fail to identify at our own peril. How our best financial minds ended up purchasing this toxic debt needs to be thoroughly investigated. The system used by Wall St. to analyze and value the now worthless securities needs to be pulled apart with the detail a post mortem. And our regulatory scheme needs to be overhauled. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been calling for this for some time. Now seems an opportune moment to redo and streamline a regulatory system built for the last century. I have no faith, however, in the current Democratic Congress to carry this out in good faith.

II. The Community Reinvestment Act and all Clinton-era rules relating to subprime borrowing need to be revised to end government mandates for this scourge. There is nothing wrong with a government program to work with low and middle income folks to repair any credit problems. And I would support a program for such people to invest in a tax free fund in order to build up funds for a down payment. That is a market based approach. We know how the socialist approach works.

III. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and indeed, the whole concept of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE's) that so distort the marketplace need to be scrapped.

IV. There needs to be criminal investigations of those involved in the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac fiasco. This has begun - years too late. Nothing is clearer than the individuals who ran these institutions cooked the books. Franklin Raines should still be in jail following his conviction in 2004. His cell mates should be Chris Dodd, Janet Reno and Jamie Goerlock.

V. And lastly, I think that we really should seriously consider Charles Krauthammer's suggestion of public executions as regards this subprime crisis.

Other posts related to Subprime Crisis (from oldest to newest):

1. McCain, The Fannie and Freddie Crisis, and Obamafuscation - Obama and the entire Democratic Party are trying to blame Republicans for the subprime crisis. But this crisis was created by Bill Clinton and protected against Republican efforts to reign it in over a decade – until it failed, nearly pulling out entire economic system into a depression.

2. A Washington Post Front Page Hack Job - The Washington Post does a hit job on McCain, grossly distorting his record on regulatory matters and ignoring his cosponsoring of legislation to establish much stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

3. Dodging a Depression - The NYT and WSJ document just how serious is the subprime crisis. Quite literally it brought us to the point of a complete and catastrophic stoppage of our financial systems. This was not a stock market crash, it was a lending and credit crash. The WSJ describes the events of the week leading up to the crisis point.

4. Obama & The "Family" Of Fannie Mae - Documenting Obama’s relationship to Fannie Mae.

5. The Origins – And Foreseeability – Of the Subprime Crisis - A 1999 article in the NYT describes the Clinton Administration forcing subprime loans onto America and also forecasts that this will create a house of cards that will fall apart in a down market.

6. Covering The Left’s Fannie - The NYT tries to play up old ties of a McCain campaign worker with Fannie Mae while minimizing the fact that McCain himself, in 2005, co-sponsored legislation that may well have prevented the fiscal crisis we are in now.

7. The Left’s Subprime Meltdown - A post by the Anchoress discusses this subprime crisis as a creation of the left and a system that was protected to the end by the left. She adds additional sites, quotes and links to explain the mosaic.

8. Fannie & Freddie, McCain & Obama, Subprime & Wall St.The WSJ discusses both how the subprime loan market came about and how Democrats, including Obama, were both the cause of the problem and the roadblock to a solution that would have averted this catastrophe. Dafydd at Big Lizard's explains how Mortgage Backed Securities worked on Wall Street.

9. A Doddering Fool & Charlatan - Chris Dodd is up to his ears in the subprime crisis. With our economy teetering on an actual depression due to the Fannie/Freddie/subprime loan crisis, it was not merely surreal to watch Senator Chris Dodd chair an emergency hearing of the Senate Banking Committee to evaluate the Treasury's proposed rescue plan, it was obscene.

10. Finally – Oversight - The FBI has finally announced criminal investigations at Fannie and Freddie.

11. When Will They File As A 527 – The NYT continues its wholly biased reporting on the subprime crisis, refusing to report on the genesis of the crisis and instead, reporting on the relationship between Fannie Mae and Rick Davis of McCain’s campaign team.

12. McCain The Chessmaster - Opining on the potential risks and rewards of McCain's decision to cancel campaigning, return to Washington to take part in negotiations over a response to the subprime crisis, and tentatively cancel the Friday debate.

13. The President Addresses The Nation - Bush explains the stakes involved for America with the subprime crisis.

14. McCain The Chessmaster Part II - McCain was responding to a 3 a.m. phone call in returning to Washington. He is given political cover and support by Bill Clinton.

15. A Spotlight On The Left's Subprime Crisis - A video summary of the origins of the subprime crisis with lots of footage of Rep. Barney Frank and others protecting Fannie Mae from regulation by the Bush Administration and McCain.

16. WaMu Swallowed Up In The Left's Subprime Swamp - Washington Mutual goes under because of toxic mortgage debt.

17. Great Moments In Leadership - Obama phones it in on the subprime crisis.

18. The "No Deal" - McCain Responds - The left is blaiming McCain for failure of a deal on the subprime crisis. McCain answers in a memo.

19. Dodd, ACORN, and the Penultimate Screwing of the Taxpayers - The left, the people responsible for the subprime crisis, proposed a deal that would have used the return on rehabilitated investments not for the benefit of taxpayers but to fund progressive advocacy organizations that are fundamentally corrupt.

20. Krauthammer On The Subprime Crisis: Time For A Return To Public Executions - America is livid over this fiscal crisis and wants a pound of flesh to satiate its cravings before beginning the job of putting our financial house back in order. Krauthammer things we should give it to them and suggests a return to the auto de fe, this time as a reality show.

21. The Subprime Crisis, Dems, Obama & McCain - a great video giving the history of the subprime crisis.

22. Subprime Crisis: Spin versus C-Span - a video of 2004 hearings in which the House Democrats heaped scorn on the idea that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a disaster waiting to happen and fighting tooth and nail to preven any further regulation of Fannie and Freddie.

23. Thomas Sowell On The Subprime Crisis & Proposed Bailout - Economist Thomas Sowell weighs in on the need for the proposed bailout to stabilize the market and the politics at the root of this fiscal crisis.

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