Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Burning Down The House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?

Here's an outstanding new 10-minute video that explains very clearly what went wrong, who made it go wrong, and who tried to head off the catastrophe.

Hat tip: Wizbang

UPDATED AND BUMPED: YouTube took down the original version of the video, as well as two replacement versions, after Warner Music complained about copyright infringement. Their basis was the use of the Talking Heads song "Burning Down the House" in the sound track. The originator of the video, The Mouth Peace, protested that since he was not profiting from the use of the music, it should be permitted under the Fair Use doctrine, but the copyright owner disagreed.

It doesn't really matter, though. The facts come through just as plainly with this public domain classical piano track as they did with the original.

Coincidentally, I'm sure, the man who runs Warner Music, Edgar Bronfman, is a major Democrat donor. Nevertheless, his company owns the copyright and the maker of the video did not pay the licensing fee for the use of the music. Therefore, unquestionably, Warner Music has an absolute right to stop him from using it.

Why Couldn't Pres. Bush and the Republicans Stop the Hemorrhage?

For the first 6 years of his administration, President Bush got to work with a Congress controlled by members of his own party. Why, then, were he and the Republicans unable to stop the financial hemorrhages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac despite their repeated attempts?

A very good question! Here's a recently released video that goes far to answer it. In the video, you'll see excerpts from a 2004 hearing at which both the then-head of Fannie Mae, the infamous Franklin Raines, and the chief regulator who was trying to rein him in appeared before a House committee. You'll see the Republican members and the OFHEO regulator citing the evidence and predicting the future with uncanny accuracy, while Franklin Raines and all of his bought-and-paid-for Democrat Congressmen stubbornly argue, in contravention of a mountain of evidence, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are doing a fine job and should be left exactly as they were. The Republicans pressed the issue as hard as humanly possible, while the Democrats loudly and emotionally denied the obvious facts, while implicitly threatening to brand the Republicans as racists if they continued to press the issue.

Keep in mind that this video covers only one committee hearing in one house of Congress in one year. Actually, beginning in 2001, Pres. Bush and the Republican Senators and Representatives have been trying repeatedly to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including 18 times just this year, without success. Each time, they ran into the same Democrat buzzsaw.

Here – see for yourself.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Double Standards?

Ever since her surprise selection as Republican vice presidential candidate, the mainstream media has been assiduously trying to dig up any bit of adverse information they can find on Sarah Palin, regardless of how trivial. For instance, yesterday, the Associated Press treated us to this stellar example of investigative journalism: "AP Investigation: Palin got zoning aid, gifts." No doubt, the reporter responsible will get a big attaboy from his editor, and perhaps even be up for a Pulitzer Prize.

Meanwhile, oddly enough, neither the Associated Press nor any other MSM organization has shown the slightest interest in checking out the numerous, egregious, and far more consequential scandals surrounding Barack Obama. Instead, virtually the entire investigative burden is being borne by a few independent journalists (Stanley Kurtz; David Freddoso; Jerome Corsi), and by the blogosphere.

A few of the more intelligent and astute observers are beginning to wonder why the double standard. For instance, check out this comprehensive overview by British journalist Melanie Phillips, writing in The Spectator: "Subversives for Obama." Here's how it begins:
There are two American election campaigns currently running. The first, in the mainstream media, accepts Barack Obama at face value, no questions asked, while it viciously turns over Sarah Palin and her family whom it subjects to lies, smears and character assassination. The second, being conducted in the blogosphere and (with one or two notable exceptions such as the Wall Street Journal) not alluded to at all by the mainstream media, is the site of verbal warfare between Camp Obama and bloggers who are practising journalism as it used to be practised – going behind the propaganda to dig out information and asking questions about it. The blogosphere is not only rebutting the Palin lies but also piling up the most disturbing revelations about Obama’s background and associations -- compounded by the troubling manner in which Camp Obama responds to these discoveries.

As usual, Melanie Phillips sees things very clearly, and expresses her views in clear and uncompromising language.

Double standards? No, just standard operating procedure for our thoroughly corrupt MSM. And they wonder why they are rapidly losing subscribers?

Greeting Adversity with Style and Grace

Most of us who have been around for a while have learned, one way or another, that what happens to us isn't nearly as important as how we react to what happens to us.

P.J. O'Rourke is one of the finest humorists in the English-speaking world. He has an uncanny ability to condense a great deal of wit and wisdom into a few words. One good example:
"Giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen-age boys."
Recently, P.J. learned that he has cancer, fortunately of a type which can be treated with a high likelihood of success. In his inimitable fashion, he reacted to this most unwelcome development by writing an essay which combines humor and insight, "Give me liberty and give me death." Here's a snippet:
I have, of all the inglorious things, a malignant hemorrhoid. What color bracelet does one wear for that? And where does one wear it? And what slogan is apropos? Perhaps that slogan can be sewn in needlepoint around the ruffle on a cover for my embarrassing little doughnut buttocks pillow.

Furthermore, I am a logical, sensible, pragmatic Republican, and my diagnosis came just weeks after Teddy Kennedy's. That he should have cancer of the brain, and I should have cancer of the ass ... well, I'll say a rosary for him and hope he has a laugh at me. After all, what would I do, ask God for a more dignified cancer? Pancreatic? Liver? Lung?
By all means, go read the whole thing.

Let's pray for P.J.'s complete recovery, and hope that he continues to delight and edify us with his writings for many more years.

What's a "Community Organizer," Anyway?

Lots of people have been asking that question. His work as a "Community Organizer" seems to have been the centerpiece of Obama's cachectic resume, yet he and his supporters have been reticent about the details of precisely what he did. Stanley Kurtz has been diligently investigating the nature of Obama's activities as a "Community Organizer." To no one's great surprise, it turns out that the title is really just a euphemism for "rabble rouser."

You say you disagree? Then maybe you ought to read Stanley's latest article in the New York Post, "O's Dangerous Pals." Here's an excerpt:
...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?
Does that whet your curiosity? It should.

David Gelernter on Obama

David Gelernter, Yale University Professor of Computer Science and essayist extraordinaire, has a new article on the subject of Obama in the Weekly Standard. In it, he makes a compelling argument that neither Obama nor others who share his worldview are qualified to be President. The article, "Obama in Leftland," includes such gems as this:
If the presidency is no place for on-the-job training, it is no place for remedial education either. The problem with Obama is not so much that he lacks experience but that he talks-like so many others of his generation-as if he had a child's view of modern history and (hence) of modern American reality. Obama's candidacy also poses a more subtle and sinister problem. He didn't create it, and it's not his fault; but it's frightening nonetheless. Start with a given: An Obama administration might still bring about defeat in Iraq; speeded-up troop withdrawals might weaken this new democracy and bring on its collapse like a burnt-out log into a blaze of terrorist violence. But if it did-if the left's policies proved tragically mistaken-Obama's supporters would never know it. What would the collapse of America's noble project in Iraq look like in the funhouse mirrors of the New York Times, NBC, Time and Newsweek and NPR and the rest of the establishment media? "In the end, Bush policy plunged Iraq into chaos, but Obama was smart enough to pull out before more American lives were lost." And that's what Democrats would "know" about Iraq.
and this:
Members of the CR [cultural revolution] generation who had mainstream, establishment educations have been trained like pet poodles to understand where romping is allowed and where it is forbidden. The permissible range of thought on such topics as protected minorities, protected species, protected psychosexual deviations, et al. is clearly spelled out from kindergarten onward. Young teachers in the 1970s proudly acknowledged their political biases: They were the New Left in action, on a long march through the institutions. But many of today's young teachers-in consequence of the long march's brilliant success-don't even realize that they are left-wing ideologues. As far as they know, their ideas are innocuous and mainstream-just like the New York Times!
 By all means, read the whole thing, then share it widely. So-called "undecided" (more honestly, "uninformed" – how can any thinking person be undecided between these two tickets, particularly under the circumstances our nation now faces?) voters need a crash course in the vital issues at stake on November 4th.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Comparison: Pro-Life vs. Pro-Death

The National Right to Life Committee has produced a comparison chart which clearly and succinctly summarizes our two major candidates' respective positions on the issue of legalized infanticide. Take a look:

(Click on picture to enlarge.)

You can download a full-color PDF version of this chart here (633 Kb).

Along those same lines, take a look at this gripping and powerful video, "Therefore Choose Life," produced by Catholicvote.com. One does not need to be Catholic to recognize that as a group, they are stalwart and uncompromising on the issue of the sanctity of life. I'm Jewish myself, but on this question, it makes no difference. Those of us who agree that all life is precious must unite on this issue, while we respectfully disagree on many others.

If you agree that the taking of an innocent life is murder, then let's lay aside our doctrinal differences long enough to make sure that the pro-life team wins, while the pro-death candidates taste the bitterness of defeat.

Hat tips: Stuart Smith for the National Right to Life chart, and Gerald Vanderleun of American Digest (FWIW, also not a Catholic – but who cares?) for the video.

Naked to Our Enemies

Which candidate plans to disarm us and leave us "naked to our enemies?" Wacth this video and hear the words from the candidate's own mouth.

NOTE: The Obamabots are trying their best to suppress this video by thuggishly forcing the websites displaying it off the net. They are resorting to such measures as DDos attacks, SQL bombs, and other fascistic tactics. The best way to counter their efforts is to display the video on so many websites that they can't possibly take them down. Before November 4th, everyone who intends to vote needs to watch this video, then decide whether the "change" they seek includes the effective castration of our defenses – leaving us "naked to our enemies."

If you have a blog or other personal website, please consider embedding this video. Let's all do our part to ensure that the truths that these bastards are trying so hard to hide are brought to the attention of everyone.

"There Are 17 Marines Who Are Amputees Fighting In Iraq"

If you share my conviction that those whose opinions of the Iraq War count the most are those doing the fighting, read Joseph Kinney's account of why "There Are 17 Marines Who Are Amputees Fighting In Iraq."

Hat tips: WorldNetDaily for selecting this piece as its Column du Jour and Pat Dollard for hosting it.

(Yes, this is the same Pat Dollard who gave up a cushy life as a wealthy Hollywood agent to become an embedded journalist with the Marines. You can read his story in this November, 2006 Maxim magazine article, and you can watch several video clips from his forthcoming documentary, Young Americans, here.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Canadian Health Care Horror Story

Take a moment and watch this video posted back in April by my co-blogger Old Salt.

It turns out that Canadian emergency care is no better than their cancer care. Check out this story from the CBC: 
Man dead 'for some time' in Winnipeg ER before staff alerted: officials
Health officials say a man who died in the waiting area of a major Winnipeg hospital's emergency department may have been dead "for some time" before medical staff was alerted – 34 hours after he arrived.

Yes, I know bad things sometimes happen in US emergency rooms, too. But 34 hours??? Good Lord, even if the nurses on duty somehow missed him, you'd think at least the janitor would have noticed a dead man in the waiting room when he came around to mop the floor.

Such horror stories as these are to be expected under a single-payer health care system. Of course, the primary problem with any such system is the unavoidable truth that while demand is infinite, resources are limited.

While in theory, Canadian patients are entitled to "free" health care, in practice, economic realities have forced their system to institute stringent cost-cutting measures in order not to bankrupt the entire country.

Chief among these is the rationing of treatment in the form of long waiting lists for routine procedures.  A Canadian patient in need of a knee replacement will first be placed on a waiting list for his initial consultation with an orthopedic surgeon. He'll then go on another waiting list for the necessary radiology procedures. Finally, he'll make it to the surgery waiting list. Total elapsed time until the surgery is actually performed? Five to seven years! Is it any wonder that Canadians who have the money opt to cross the border and come to the U.S. for their medical procedures?

Senior Canadians who are unlucky enough to develop conditions which are expensive to treat may find it impossible to receive anything beyond palliative care. Constrained by strict budgetary guidelines, their health care providers may well decide that those patients' life expectancy is not likely to be long enough to justify the cost of effective treatment. Those patients' only realistic option may be to do whatever it takes to come up with the money to pay for U.S. medical care, because they're unable to obtain it in Canada at any price, since there are no longer any private health care providers in Canada. Of course, they were outlawed when the present single-payer system was instituted.

Some would say that regardless of its undeniable disadvantages, single-payer health care would still be worthwhile because it's free. In truth, though, it's anything but. When you consider the crushing additional tax burden which Canadians must bear in order to pay for their "free" health care, it turns out that they're paying about the same amount that we are. Plus, because of the overhead imposed in any system run by inefficient and unaccountable government bureaucrats, the net result is that with all of its imperfections, our health care system is far superior to theirs by any objective measure. (How often have you ever heard of a U.S. resident heading north to obtain some of that "free" Canadian health care?)

If you happen to be one of those who's been agitating for us to institute single-payer health care (a/k/a HillaryCare) here, you might just want to reconsider your position. If such a disaster were actually to come to pass, you probably would not like the results – particularly if you or one of your loved ones were at the mercy of a health care system as warm and sympathetic as the IRS.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Story of Incredible Determination

So you think you have troubles? Take a look at this video and see how a real hero, Clay Dyer, has triumphed over a situation that most of us would consider insurmountable. In the process, he's also become an inspiration to everyone who knows him. Chances are that regardless of what sort of troubles you have, they'll pale into insignificance compared to his.

Hat tip: Insurance and financial company First Protective, and Stuart Smith for bringing this to my attention.

Thought for Today

"Government, today, is growing too strong to be safe. There are no longer any citizens in the world; there are only subjects. They work day in and day out for their masters; they are bound to die for their masters at call. Out of this working and dying they tend to get less and less."

~~~~~ H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Meltdown and the Bailout – What Happened, and What Should Be Done

My precocious 17-year-old granddaughter Hannah emailed me the other day with a few questions. I imagine that many, if not most, of us share her puzzlement:
What exactly is going on with the economy? Why is this happening? What are the options to fixing it? What is being done? What do both candidates propose? Are there similarities in their plans of action?
In response to Hannah's questions, I sent her this quick and dirty explanation:

Basically, the mess was caused, both directly and indirectly, by government meddling going back over many years. The only way that such entities as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could ever have gotten so powerful was with the help of corrupt politicians being paid off by the crooks who ran them.

It's interesting to note, by the way, that three of the principal crooks responsible for the Fannie Mae mess, Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson, and Jamie Gorelick, are principal advisers to Barack Obama. Also, one of his big, wealthy backers is Penny Pritzker, who was as responsible as any person alive for the whole idea of extending home mortgage loans to individuals who were not qualified to receive them – the so-called sub-prime mortgages.

Electing him in hopes of cleaning up the financial mess is truly a case of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Also worth noting is the fact that back in 2005, John McCain was warning of the looming disaster of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He was a principal member of a group of senators and congressmen trying to pass some meaningful reform legislation which would have improved the congressional oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and might well have averted the meltdown. Needless to add, the Democrats would not allow the legislation to be passed. They were very happy with the way in which Fannie and Freddie were being run (into the ground!).

All of the rest of the problems pretty well trace back to the Fannie and Freddie mess. For instance, Lehman Brothers was massively invested in securities backed by bundles of the now-worthless sub-prime mortgages, as was Bear, Stearns before them. AIG got involved as the insurer backing the transactions – in other words, as the mortgages went bad, the insurer became responsible for paying them off, but as the losses continued to mount, they were no longer able to cover them all. It was just like fire insurance – if you have a policy and your house burns down, the insurance company becomes responsible for paying off the damage claim.

Hope this helps clarify things a bit.
along with some supporting links:

This superb blog post by Ace: "How They Built the Bomb;"

This column by talk show host and former real estate lawyer Neal Boortz: "The Rest of the Meltdown Story;"

A well-reasoned and thorough discussion by National Review Online's Jim Manzi: "Welcome to History;"

An excellent and passionate discussion by talk show host and attorney Mark Levin during his 9/19 show: (17 Mb MP3 file – runs 1:14, but well worth your time);

A wise and eloquent column by Conrad Black, the former international newspaper magnate who is presently an inmate of a Federal prison as a result of his conviction for white-collar crimes: "Moral of the Story;"

A characteristically brilliant, thorough, and detailed plan of action from Newt Gingrich: "Get the Politicians Out of the Economy: Recipe for Sound Economic Growth;"

Finally, a comprehensive and lucidly written account of what happened and why by Ph.D. economist Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute: "How the Democrats Created the Financial Crisis."

It's a complicated situation, but by no means one which is beyond the understanding of the average intelligent person. (Readers of this blog automatically qualify.) Those of us who care about our country's future have a duty to learn all we can about the financial meltdown, apply our God-given intelligence, life experience, and innate common sense to the problem, and form our own opinions about what should – and should not – be done.

After I sent these links to Hannah, it occurred to me that maybe others might find them useful, too, so here they are.

Hat tip: Townhall.com

UPDATED AND BUMPED: On his radio show this afternoon, financial guru Dave Ramsey has been doing all he can to promote the ideas of First Trust's Chief Economist Brian Wesbury on how to deal with the financial meltdown. He's urging all of us to check out this plan for ourselves, then contact our senators and representatives as soon as possible. Dave is thoroughly sold on Brian Wesbury's plan, and after reading it, I can see why.

His idea, prosaically called "Here’s A Plan to Avoid a New RTC," makes far more sense than anything coming out of Washington. Briefly, he proposes that the government temporarily suspend the overly inflexible "mark-to-market" rules which have been the immediate cause of the meltdown. That simple change, coupled with a program of government insurance for the sub-prime mortgages at the heart of the problem, sounds to me as though it is far more likely to fix the problem than the administration's $700 billion proposal at a small fraction of the cost to the taxpayer, and without pushing our country along the road to socialism.

Read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Then, if you agree with Dave Ramsey that Brian Wesbury's plan makes sense, get hold of your elected representatives and tell them so – in strong and unmistakable terms. Not only our futures, but those of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, hang in the balance.

Yes, it really is that important.

Thought for Today

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."

~~~~~ Daniel Webster

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thought for Today

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young, but becomes constantly more valuable regardless of physical capacity."

~~~~~ Harvey Ullman

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Tribute Links

Here is the link to the masterful 9/11 tribute presentation made by Steve Golding:
September 11, 2001 - 911 Emergency.

(Be patient – it's a 7 megabyte file, which will take a little while to load. It's most definitely worth the wait.)

Here's his personal story of what happened to him that fateful day, and how he came to make this remarkable tribute:
My Account of That Day.

Be sure to read the "Email from Steve Golding" at the end.

Steve's presentation inspired Debi Chowning to make a similar, though shorter, tribute to those who died at the Pentagon:
America Attacked 9 1 1 PENTAGON.

Please add these bookmarks to your collection, and share them as widely as you can.

Just as with The Holocaust – NEVER AGAIN!