Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bootstrap Economy
JackDied posts his views on the recent housing market clusterpoop and highlights how government influence in the private economy creates problematic distortions.

If we were really in the mood for radical Change we'd move to blow up the FDR/Keynesian system that has created whole ranks of dependants engorged on economic largesse handed out by the governing political bureaucracy. Get rid of all manner of subsidies, tax benefits, and government assistance handouts to individuals and corporations. Get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers.

Obama's Jesus Camp
Golly. The worship of The One starts young. I feel really sorry for these poor children. These kids are like the Jon Benet Ramseys of the political world. All tarted up and pantomiming the fantasies of their adult guardians. Highly disturbing.

UPDATE! New North Korea style version!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bush Third Term: Lobbyists
Barack Obama often boasts he is "the only candidate who isn't taking a dime from Washington lobbyists," yet his fundraising team includes 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million last year to lobby the federal government, records show.
Those lawyers, including 10 former federal lobbyists, have pledged to raise at least $3.5 million for the Illinois senator's presidential race. Employees of their firms have given Obama's campaign $2.26 million, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign finance data shows.

Bush Third Term: Votes
So Obama has voted with George W. Bush 40% of the time.

Does this mean we can immediately write off 40% of whatever he says as a failed philosophy before assessing the rest?

Bush Third Term: Special Interests
I have discussed Obama's advocacy work with ACORN and other special interest groups associated with the housing crisis. Interesting that "Countrywide" Senator Dodd, in the bailout negotiations, is negotiating for a bailout of ACORN and other similar special interest groups. The proposed language to include in the bailout measure suggests that 20% of the profits made on any sale of government purchased motgage assets will be directed to trust funds utilized by the housing advocacy special interests to subsidize low income / no income home ownership. (It would not surprise me if the funds get diverted to operating funds and political advocacy activities given ACORN's penchant for illegal activity and stuffing the ballot box to the favor of Democrat candidates). This has the appearance that Subprime Dodd is assuaging guilt for the part that the CRA had in the mortgage meltdown.

Doughnuts for Everyone

Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate 1-25
Interesting close from Obama. He mentions both his roots with Kenya and his father and ties that into some notion about our standing with the world (re: Europe). Is Obama projecting his psychological desire to reconnect with his father (a subject of one of his autobiographical books) to a pyschological desire for America to reconnect with Europe (obviously older and wiser)? Obama's oedipus oozes on stage...

Debate 1-24
Interesting McCain close. Is Obama as stubborn as George Bush? McCain posits the question.

Debate 1-23
Obama ends his final closing point by granting respect to McCain. Its funny how Obama's campaign has undertaking this two-track strategy where Obama is deferential to McCain while his ads, surrogates, running mate, and media allies attack him.

Debate 1-22
McCain links the last question back to his credentials as a unique Senator. The electorate knows McCain. Obama's campaign has embarked on the task of obscuring that record as best than can. Whether the electorate will be influenced by Obama's and the media's obfuscation of McCain, we shall see.

Debate 1-21
Obama has a great voice and cadence. I am certain the bass in his voice alone is earning him 4-6 points in the polling. I think image-wise, Obama fits the bill for meeting the Presidential look. My problems with Obama are based on his philosophy, background, and views. But on demeanor he exudes confidence, which in a media driven Presidency carries with it some meaning.

Debate 1-20
Obama gets the first inkling of a laugh regarding his stuff about Spain, but McCain gets his own inkling poking fun at Obama's presidential seal.

Debate 1-19
McCain flubs Ahmadinejad a few times. Will this be the "flub" that gets overplayed on the media and what their "winners and losers" narrative crafted around?

Debate 1-18
Obama's demeanor doesn't appear to be that much different than other debate performances he has had (except for those debates where he appeared bored to be debating Hillary). There is a subtle passion exhibited by McCain. He is softly indignant at times. I can only wonder if this indignation has mirror with what is held out there with the electorate. McCain had this indignation during his debates against Mitt Romney and this worked for him. In these indignant times, will the electorate connect with McCain's indignation with the state of things, or are they more interested in the cool customer Obama. The demeanors of the two candidates will carry weight with some people in their choosing of who to vote for.

Debate 1-17
McCain is an old warhorse. Obama is trying to equate himself to McCain by stressing his own concern for troops and his own wearing of bracelets. Obama can't equal McCain on this. He should drop it and move on. Obama can't measure up to McCain on this one.

Debate 1-16
Obama hammers McCain on his record. McCain doesn't back down. Tough SOB. Obama is a stuffed shirt.

Debate 1-15
More of Obama saying "John, you're right...."

Debate 1-14
McCain talking specifics about Pakistan conditions. Obama gave a more generalized 10,000 foot perspective of the situation.

Debate 1-13
Points aside. Iraq is over. The surge worked and conditions have changed. The point now is to move on. That Iraq is now just spoken in cliche statements is the truest testimony to the stabilization that has taken place there. Can I say now Patreus for President?

Debate 1-12
Obama's timetable has shifted. Now he says 16 months to take our troops out. What happened to taking the troops out immediately?

Debate 1-11
Obama punts. Says that's 'Senate inside baseball". Has Obama ever done anything in the Senate. Is he such a stuffed shirt?

Debate 1-10
Obama mentions again the tired out "shouldn't have gone to war in the first place". That was so 2003. He needs to update his talking points

Debate 1-9
Obama knows that the whole program of "Change" is essentially cooked at this point because of $700B bailout. Obama doesn't have the money to continue Bush's third term of increased socialization of the government and economy. The real change is to destroy Washington way of doing things. Obama has no track record challenging anything.

Debate 1-8
This debate is good from both sides. Mrs. Rants likes the debate. We both agree we're happy that it is about real issues. Nobody has mentioned "lock box" yet...

Debate 1-7
Obama keeps mentionaing, "John is right...."

Debate 1-6
Its clear that Obama is speaking in theoreticals based on his change message. McCain is highlighting his credentials which have history and paper trail attached to them. Voters can decide

Debate 1-5
Obama talks about math and science education. This would have been a good time for him to highlight his achievments reforming and improving Chicago public schools when he was executor of the Chicago Annenburg Challenge public education reform initiative. Unfortunately, he never mentions this. Its an indication that he failed miserably in this regard.

Debate 1-4
McCain keeps returning back to the excesses of Congress. This is good. Congress and Washington is the problem. If anyone is going to change Washington, it is someone who fights Washington. Obama is not that person

Debate 1-3
Effective example of Obama's earmarking. Obama retorts about tax cuts. Obama needs to explain that his plan gives cash back to 95% of working families. Since there is a wide percentage of the tax base that doesn't pay taxes to begin with, Obama's plan which actually give government money to people that don't pay taxes. That is not a tax cut. That is a tranfer payment (call it stimulus check if you will) directly from the government. That has a cost attached to it which Obama needs to explain.

Debate 1-2Obama glosses over whether he favors the plan or not. Instead starts to talk about himself. McCain talks about holding people to account. Obama could make a start on this by denouncing his own Jim Johnson for leading to a bankrupting of the American economy.

Debate 1-1
Obama glosses over the failures of trickle-down government in order to rail on about trickle-down economics. Tone deaf.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beyond the Mainstream
Yeah, its politics all the time inside the Rants brain and I had been kicking around a complaint about the general level of rudeness that the McCain-Palin ticket has had to endure. You know, the comments about Palin's baby and family, or the Code Pink interruption during McCain's convention speech. Or about how The Atlantic magazine photographer hired to take portraits of McCain - who then turned around and doctored them up, abusing McCain's image for her own political purposes. Or more recently Obama's ad targeted to hispanic viewers where the insinuation was made that McCain is a racist. Now we have tax fraudster Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel calling Gov. Palin "disabled". It's forehead slapping amazing how McCain and Palin have to deal with all of this shit.

However, Obama had his own Code Pink moment just yesterday. You really just have to scratch your head as you watch this video of Obama being interrupted during his speech given to supporters in Florida. Some protesters serving a cause called Blacks Against Obama interrupted Obama and got their few seconds of attention before being escorted out of the arena. This article seems to give some decent backstory on the group and their grievances against Obama. Clearly there's a story to be told about this seemingly far-right black subgroup. Whatever it is, their disruption at the event is poor form and just rude. Obama handled the interruption well and was able to continue on with the rally. There's a place for street politics of this type and that place is the street.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Failed Philosophy
This country can’t afford another four years of this failed philosophy
Says Barack Obama. Indeed, I agree with Barack Obama. And after examining his record it is clear he must not be elected President if we are to have a chance of changing the system that contributed to the housing crisis.

To understand the contributing aspect to this problem, it is necessary to investigate how Obama has been a participant in various aspects of the operating philosophy that participated in the housing meltdown. To begin with, Obama heralds his credentials as a former community organizer. Since this term is largely nebulous and he has not done much to explain in detail his activities or provide a clear definition of this title it is important for us to define it.

Community Organizer: One who facilitates a connection between activist interest groups and public/private pools of cash

Obama has made vague references to his days as a community organizer, referring to moments working with churches or in particular some incident about helping people deal with the closing of a southside Chicago steel mill. What he tends to not mention much is the work he has done with the activist urban mobilization organization ACORN. Among its many community organizing activities, ACORN offers through the ACORN Housing Corporation, first time homeowner mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance, and low income housing development.

ACORN is not an organization free from controversy. ACORN members have been indicted and convicted of fraudulent voter registration in Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, and other states. Obama has provided legal defense work for ACORN Illinois chapter and counts on ACORN organization for voter mobilization. One main activity of ACORN's is in channeling mortgage lending funds to its low income constituents. As is detailed in this fascinating and indispensable article, ACORN and other community activist groups secured billions of dollars in loans for their marginal credit constituents. The main contributing aspect that directed this money to community activist groups had to do with the stepped up enforcement, under the Clinton administration, of a banking law called the Community Reinvestment Act. This law graded and scored the urban and low-income lending practices of various banks - how well they provided mortgages to marginal clients in urban and redeveloping neighborhoods.
the Clinton Treasury Department's 1995 regulations made getting a satisfactory CRA rating much harder. The new regulations de-emphasized subjective assessment measures in favor of strictly numerical ones. 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. Where and to whom have home loans been made? Have banks invested in all neighborhoods within their assessment area? Do they operate branches in those neighborhoods?
The effect of this stepped up enforcement of the CRA encouraged community activist groups, such as ACORN, to swarm mortgage lending banks with inquiries and challenges measured under the CRA. With mortgage lending banks at the mercy of federal backed mortgage entities Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, a poor rating under CRA could potential shut off the spigot to federal mortgage guarantees and repurchasing. Banks became increasingly beholden to the lending demands of community activist interest groups and their lending approvals to marginal clients increased dramatically - lest the bank risk receiving a poor CRA rating under the new Clinton era enforcement regime.

Obama's links to ACORN cast much needed light on what Obama's "community organizing" entailed. However, this is not his only potential link to the present housing crisis. As Obama's own dubious fact check shows, Obama has been heavily involved in public and quasi public housing matters in the Chicago regions throughout various stages of his career. One particular aspect not given much press is over Obama's linkages to public-private partnerships tasked with low income housing development in Chicago. A senior member of Obama's presidential campaign Valerie Jarrett, as well as his long-time financier (and convicted felon) Tony Rezco, and other major contributors to Obama's campaigns were involved in using government subsidies for low-income housing developments throughout Chicago. Some of these projects were built to sub-standard conditions and many units now are in violation of city code, including some units that have been condemned. What this indicates is that up the chain, Obama has aligned himself with groups involved in enlarging the constituency of marginal and risky mortgage holders through an increased access to government backed loans. Additional to this, Obama has also aligned himself with individuals and groups (including providing legal representation) taking government funds to subsidize the construction of low-income urban housing developments. As has been shown, Obama's ties to the housing issue are more than minimal.

But it goes further. The resignation of James Johnson from Obama's vice presidential candidate advisory committee proved to be a minor embarrassment for Obama earlier this summer. James Johnson, before serving on Obama's staff, was the CEO of Fannie Mae. Now in the light of the government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Obama's ties to the quasi-government mortgage backer must be re-examined. During Obama's short time as US Senator, he has managed to collect the second largest total of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's employees and Political Action Committee. Even more illuminating are the grants awarded by Fannie Mae to Illinois community activist groups including ACORN.

From the bottom of the food chain to the top, Obama has closely associated himself with the activist pressure groups who have strained the nation's government-backed mortgage lending financial system through an abuse of the CRA. Furthermore, political friends and allies receive favorably subsidy from government grants in pursuit of public/private development projects in urban areas. And at the top Obama has cultivated relationships with the very senior officials who oversee the entire mortgage lending financial system. While I do not suggest that Obama caused the mortgage meltdown, what I do highlight is Obama's advocacy for a system that is presently in place and that has precipitated in no small measure to the mortgage financial collapse. Obama speaks of changing the system that caused this but he has shown to be very active in support of the system that caused this - in support of the grassroots community organizations that added billions in risky mortgage holdings to the financial roles; in support of housing developers who trawl for public cash in building out housing units that await dwellers with risky finances, and has cultivated deep ties with the very heights of the system that guarantee it all and awash it with cash.

Isn't it worth your time to tear yourself away from Palin's hacked email for one minute and devote just a few seconds to examining the record and actions of Barack Obama? Does he really represent change? Or is it more clear that what he will bring to Washington is ever more government. A government built on a system of wealth transfer to activist interest groups and other mobilized entities. Is this a system we really want to enhance any further? Since Obama knows nothing else but a system based on the nexus of cash handouts to the politically mobilized, it suggests that what Obama will bring to Washington, if elected, is more of the same rotten same.

Again, I repeat Community Organizer: One who facilitates a connection between activist interest groups and public/private pools of cash
We do not need to elect a Community Organizer in Chief. I cannot think of anything more disastrous at this time in our history.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Palin Interview: Uncut & Unedited
To all those who critize Palin's television interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, much of her responses to the questions didn't even make it to television, ending up instead on the cutting room floor.

Is your politics fully informed?

Status Update
Hey, thanks for the comments to recent posts. Blogging is fun again and I thank those named and anonymous who make comments. Keep it up. I've commented to my post The Spaces in Between if you want to keep things going.

PS: The Family Rants spent a week touring the purple state of Colorado. If I had to gauge it, we didn't traverse too many pro-Obama communities. But then again, we didn't visit Boulder, so I have no way of knowing where his support resides in that state.

PPS: The scenery was wonderful, though the weather was not usual sunny Colorado (the sunniest state I think I read somewhere).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Spaces in Between
I'm not going to address the shameful behavior that mainstream media has exhibited re: Gov. Palin. Let them wallow in that sewer. Instead, the pick of Gov. Palin has set a large part of the Right positively on fire, myself included. I may be only speaking for myself but an element of Palin's popularity rests on the symbolism her nomination representgs for the future direction of Republicanism and/or conservatism.

From my personal vantage point, the western brand of Palin's politics is an attractive counterpoint to other directions within the Right. Generally speaking, the western brand of conservatism trends libertarian, guided by an intrinsic understanding that there are spaces within life that are not ultimately guided by politics nor political considerations. Western conservatism is roundly optimistic and entrepreneurial in outlook. The vastness of the geography of the west is infused within the spirit of this outlook. The geographic spaces also work on the political subconscious. The westerner is their own free-agent in this physical space. So too does this translate in the social sphere - one should be free within and from politics.

The 18th century British Tory parliamentarian Edmund Burke (whose thought helped shaped the underpinnings of modern conservative philosophy) argued for a limited politics. Indeed, he understood that life operated within differing institutions that were not motivated by political passions: Family life, leisure life, religious life, patriotic life (patriotic in the sense that the traditions and culture of the nation were separate from the daily passions that were ever-changing). The Burkean view held that politics held its place within life but it was not all-encompassing. This inalienable right to a life of the non-political necessarily argued for a politics limited in reach and influence. Burke understood that man can sometimes be driven by the totalitarian impulse to coerce other men. The totalitarian drive would invariably intrude upon the non-political spheres of life and degrade the life of the individual as they became increasingly subservient to the all-encompassing whims of the driving political will.

The denial of the totalitarian passion is something conservatives struggle with and the Left does not. The Left believes everything is political and therefore subject to political engineering without any kind of brake to avoid domineering hubris or overreach. An example to illustrate this can be summed up by an understanding of the judicial philosophy of Originalism. The originalist view of judicial review is guided by the approach that the original intent of the words written in the US Constitution or its accompanying Amendments, at the time the words were written, is the boundary by which any modern law must abide by. Overstep the boundary of the intent, and the law is invalid. If new intent is to be written into the Constitution, the amendment process is the vehicle to do so - not to be done instead through judicial pronouncement as others would argue. The opposition to Originalism is argued most decidedly by Living Constiutionalists who view that Constitution as a document made malleable through ever changing judicial interpretation - whose intent and meaning can change depending on the political whims of those in a position to decide. The takeaway in this overview is that within the political approach to Originalism, the approach is bounded by the original intent as inferred within the words as originally written. The expansive view of the Living Constitutionalists don't subscribe to such views. Instead they opt for the ever-expansive application of the politically desirable without limitation. One can see the minimalist and maximalist approaches of Originalism and Living Constitutionalism, Originalist reach held in check by its own rules and limits versus the totalitarian free-for-all of the Living Constitutionalist approach.

Republican politics in recent years has been disregarding it's Burkean tradition of working within its self-applied limits. Big Government Republicanism has been seduced by the totalitarian passionate impulse - producing a government of ever-increasing reach, scope, and application. Some Republicans betrayed Burke and disregarded their disdain for government, instead embracing a more transformative and coercive politics more akin to the totalitarian drive of the Left. How Gov. Palin inspires is what she may represent for the party - a return to the Burkean tradition of limited government and keeping the non-political spheres of life (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) ever outside of politics. A politician who pursues a varied trove of hobbies with one foot planted within both the urban and the rural suggests a person deeply in touch with a variety of non-political spheres of American life and one with an antipathy for political maximalism. Such a politician is refreshing and suggests the possibility of a new champion for the wisdom of Burke and keeping, for a few years longer, the totalitarian impulse from sweeping America irretrievably away.