I was thinking about the upcoming election and how it will make history. Sure there are the race and gender issues of the candidates and their running mates. But I think there is a little more history that may be made, it is overlooked at this moment in time…and I don’t think it will be pretty from an historical perspective.
From 1946 to the mid 1990′s, the US was engaged in a conflict that many felt if lost, would have plunged our nation into socio-economic darkness. I’m of course speaking about the Cold war, and the US’s fight against communism and socialism. During this time, many thousands of men and women were killed in wartime and during peace, and many hundreds of billions (or even trillions) of dollars were spent to keep the “Red menace” at bay. Whether this was the right thing to do is immaterial now…it happened, and the results prove themselves — the Berlin Wall fell as well as the USSR, the Soviet Union (Reagan’s “Evil Empire”).
Why did America do this? Because the vast majority of Americans over six decades of time felt that communism, socialism and Marxism were (and are) the antithesis of our democratic Republic and our capitalistic society and a threat to our existence as free-willed human beings. And, millions of American men and women were willing to put their lives on the line to insure that we remained the free and open society that we had always been.
So now, let’s fast-forward to the year 2008 to a front yard somewhere in Ohio. A man named Joe, an everyman as it were, asked one of the two presidential candidates a question regarding his tax policy and how it may specifically affect him. Now, regardless if you feel that this man is a shill, a political plant or a liar for misrepresenting his fiscal situation, he asked the question, and whereupon the candidate, Barak Obama, freely replied that he wanted to, among other things, “spread the wealth around.” Those are Obama’s words, not Joe the Plumber’s or mine. They are his. And because they came out spontaneously and unscripted, they represent the values he cherishes most at his very core.
To me, if he said nothing else from now until election day…this is a show stopper for Obama. Like I described earlier, thousands of brave Americans died and vast sums of money were spent to prevent us from having to “spread the wealth around” by force. If this strident defense of our society was necessary from the 1940′s until the 1990′s, then why not in 2008? During that time our ideological opponents were recognizable by their crimson flag with the gold hammer-and-sickle emblazoned upon it. But now, it seems, that our foe is harder to recognize because he is one of us, and he wears $1,000 suits, has a way with words and has a charming smile! But that doesn’t make his ideology, his averred ideology (ask Joe the Plumber!!), any less pernicious and toxic. In fact, because he leads in most of the polls, it makes him even more dangerous to our Republic than the former Soviet Union.
Because what the Soviets couldn’t do with bombers, espionage and nuclear weapons, Obama can do with a simple majority of our precious votes. Call it a revolution without a shot being fired, a bloodless coup or what have you. But it looks like chances are fairly high that this will happen.
I hope these words serve as a wake-up call to you all. I hope that you realize that the very few words spoken to that plumber in Ohio by presidential candidate Obama speak volumes about his ideology. We know precious few personal details about this man, and there are gaps in his personal history and his personal associations that we know absolutely nothing about. And it looks like if he has his way the only way we will be able to fill in the blanks is with a visit to his presidential library. Trust me, the damage will already be done by then. But we do know that he does want to do something straight from Marxist-Leninist ideology. In fact one of the primary ‘isms’ — he want us all to “share the wealth.”
If we allow this to happen, and elect this man out of misplaced loyalty, zealous idolatry or institutional guilty over racism, then woebegone us! We will have just spat in the eyes of of forbearers who fought so bravely to stem the threat of communism and socialism, and we will have shown the greatest form of disrespect to those who died while trying.
The choice is your, my fellow Americans. I beg you not to do something in haste, or with blind fealty to a clever, popular poseur, that we and our children will regret forevermore.
In today’s Boston Globe, the editorial staff have finally made it official. They have endorsed Barak Obama for president. In fact, in the online edition of the newspaper, they have boldfaced his name in case the wayward reader didn’t get the message from straight pica print. I was SHOCKED by this endorsement, as it was out of left field! (Listen, I was born at night, but I assure you it wasn’t last night.)
But I submit that the Globe’s endorsement today (October 14, 2008) is simply statement of assumed fact. One would have to be lacking any nuanced perception of reality to have missed the fact that the Globe: It’s editors, op-ed columnists (except, save, Jeff Jacoby), and reporters have bent over backwards, proverbially, to bolster and promote the Obama campaign even before he emerged as the Democratic nominee.
I have done a cursory review of past headlines stories, and to my surprise (stinging sarcasm intended), not a single positive story has emerged regarding the candidacy of the Republican John McCain. In the Globe’s skewed world-view, he can do no right…and Obama can do no wrong. Add to this not so subtle journalistic bias the fact that the Bush administration has been pilloried unflaggingly and unmercifully by the Globe (as well as all other major New York Times-owned mastheads in other cities), and it isn’t a bit surprising that the Globe has provided its loving media embrace to Obama.
In a way the manner in which the past presidential race has panned out is kind of a shame. Whether the Globe can fathom the concept or not from its lofty ideological tower, people are attaching less and less credibility to the news media, and to the print media in particular. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to perceive the underlying bias of the newspaper…just your plain, average Joe, reader. For conservatives and Republicans, the paper becomes an infuriating in-your-face chance for the über-liberals at the Globe to kick the dog, as it were. For the Globe editors, all things conservative are bad…so why even bother reading their stilted compendium of pseudo-facts? Now liberals and Democrats are shown the journalistic welcome mat…in fact, the Globe has spared no expense on a fancy echo chamber such that no scrap of nuance from the DNC playbook is overlooked or left unprinted. Simply put, the Globe is a place where the Democratic party can find a friend and receive treatment that isn’t particularly commensurate with fact or reality. Their inclusion in the newspaper comes with cheerleaders!
But what about independent, unaffiliated readers? What does the Globe speak to them? I have had many middle-of-the-roaders comment to me that the Globe has crossed the Rubicon and is now in strictly partisan territory. The biased tinge of the newspaper (it has a “blueness” about it) makes politically unaligned readers suspicious of ANY story contained within the paper. Are they reading a recounting of facts, or are they being fed the party line? I have a buddy who finds it amusing to say that he even feels the need to double-check the Globe obituaries in another paper “just to make sure!”
In the end, I could care less about the Globe. Their fortunes will ride on their actions and their choices. If they choose support a particular political philosophy above all else, even the truth and reality, then that is their prerogative. I guess such is the new way of the world…if the world doesn’t do what pleases you, then use words to craft you own more pleasing world. The Globe has got this endeavor down pat. However, when they engage in “truth alchemy” or fact manufacturing between the covers of their newspaper, they should expect consequences.
My way of showing them my disdain is to laugh off their much anticipated endorsement of Barak Obama and their encomium that surrounded his “selection.” I chose a long time ago to stop buying Boston Globe newspapers. I could find plenty of other ways to have my intelligence insulted for far less than a buck! And I encourage you to do the same. I do however, read the online version…more propery put, I skim it, to see what damage that Globe has done to the truth or how misshapen they have managed to make reality. I find it keeps me on my toes, intellectually speaking, and it prepares me for the remainder of my news gathering that I do each and every day.
I saw a portion of George Stephanopolus’ interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” with Reps. Barney Frank and Roy Blunt on Sunday, October 12. I was stunned by the almost blind partisanship of Barney Frank, and his absolute and continued lack of contrition for his pivotal role in the demise of Fannie and Freddie:
I watched angrily as he blamed every Republican with a pulse, but held himself out as the exemplar of the voice in the wilderness, crying out for “Reform!” Roy Blunt, on the other hand, was more measured in his evaluation of the blame, saying that there was enough to go around. Which I think was a rather magnanimous statement on his part given the videographic evidence of Frank stonewalling hearings and making defensive comments about the two foundering GSEs in House hearings:
In the video, Frank is trying to justify his preconceived notions regarding the effectiveness of Fannie and Freddie, whose missions are obviously close to his heart. But he made the cardinal mistake as a legislator — he failed to take in all sources of information and evaluate them without bias. If he had, he would have listened to the regulator and taken his comments under advisement. Instead, he “got his back up” and defended a non-partisan issue in a particularly partisan manner.
Now, after the the mortgage crisis has almost led to an implosion of world financial markets, Frank has the unmitigated gall to suggest that he was right all along, even when the evidence suggests otherwise. And he doesn’t exhibit a shred of contrition. There are no apologies, no admissions that he could have been wrong, no acknowledgment of the time line of calls from the Bush administration and Republican members of Congress that Fannie and Freddie were ticking financial time bombs, and no admission that the policies that got us here (ubiquitous low income home ownership) were well-intended but impossible to implement in the real world. No, none of that — only partisan comebacks and more of the blame game.
It’s beyond the time for Barney Frank to admit his culpability and his recklessness in this financial crisis. It is time for him to go. He should be censured by the Congress and impeached. This single man has done more to damage the United States of America and its economy than any avowed enemy of our republic. He cannot be let talk his way out of his role…and he must be forced to accept consequences for his actions. What is at stake isn’t some petty pork-barrel project, it is the financial future of our country, and perhaps of the world. Trillions and trillions of dollars are at risk, as are the financial futures of most Americans, at least those who invested in the stock market. To allow the hard work and savings of those individuals to have been lost for nothing, and to allow one of the major players to get away Scott-free, is perhaps the largest crime ever perpetrated against mankind.
Barney Frank, you have to go. Do the honorable thing and resign. You owe it to your constituents and to all those Americans whose futures you have put in grave jeopardy.
I predict that the US news media is in for rocky times ahead. It is not only the fact that the Internet has eroded hard-copy newspaper sales and diminished TV news viewership, but it is also the very credibility of the medium that has come into question this presidential campaign cycle. It is an inarguable fact that the news media has chosen sides. They are almost monolithic in their support for Sen. Barak Obama for president. Not a single day goes by without hard evidence of this support, whether overt or subtle. The more overt (and one could argue egregious) supporters are the big three TV news networks (NBC, CBS and ABC), the New York Times and the Associated Press. However, the other and smaller sources of news have a more nuanced or covert approach to their bias.
The bias in favor of Obama manifests itself in many ways — both positively for him: Glowing, paeans located on page 1, above the fold; softball questions during TV interviews; flattering chyron crawls that are omnipresent during news broadcasts; and personal opinion that creeps into print news stories — and negatively against his opponent, Sen. McCain: stories detailing every gaffe or misstep; accusations of racism even where none exists; unfavorable interpretations of stated policy; unfavorable personal attributions (he’s “angry”); and a dismissive attitude towards his candidacy and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. In fact the candidacy of Gov. Palin has drawn considerable ire and zealous scrutiny from the collective media establishment.
In general there is a dearth of criticism and investigative journalism directed towards Obama and his running mate Sen. Joe Biden. This has occurred even though there are “fertile fields of questionable personal history to be tilled” in the case of Sen. Obama. The media has completely failed in their duty to provide information regarding he place of his birth, his activities during his years at Columbia University, his questionable business associations (e.g. with Tony Rezko), his long time association with the controversial United Trinity Church of Christ (and its pastor Jeremiah Wright); his past and present association with the former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers; and his past activities as a “community organizer” and association with ACORN. Add to this teasing out his actual voting record as a local, state and federal legislator, and you have a sizable list of facts that need to be revealed or more fully investigated. And please remember that any insight into any of the aforementioned associations, etc. were discovered by independent individuals or journalists and communicated directly via blogs on the Internet.
But the response of the media in general has been “YAWN!” They seem satisfied with holing to their propagandist attitude about their candidate, and they seem intoxicated by the media echo chamber that they have crafted. What they report may not be factual or true, but it is pleasing to the media and their remaining ardent consumers.
So, the editors, news directors, reporters and journalists are pushing this man whose background is the least revealed or understood in the history of the American presidency because he fits some liberal litmus test of theirs, and frankly, because of his race. And they are engaging in a dangerous form of news alchemy. They are ignoring facts and publishing half-truths or out-and-out lies. And when confronted with this fact, they accuse the accuser of racism or some other socially-unacceptable personality disorder. Or they simply ignore the criticism(s) and proceed with their new “business as usual.”
But I think that there is a price to be paid. People aren’t morons…we’re not as dumb as we look! For a lot of Americans, including me, the ersatz news presentation is insulting and demeaning. Good, solid news is important to countless millions of Americans who want to stay informed. As a result, more and more Americans are eschewing the traditional forms and venues of news reporting. Television news viewership is at an all time low, and ratings are sagging in all demographic groups. Similarly, newspaper readership is at its lowest point in history, and further diminishing every day. Yes, the Internet has something to do with these declines…but it isn’t the whole story. I believe consumers of news have come to realize that they are not being provided with an unvarnished accounting of the stories, particularly in the political arena. Rather, the news media are using ideological prisms and filters to distort and craft the news to their liking or to suit their purposes. The Internet is useful to folks who use a wide variety of sources to compare the accuracy and veracity of a particular source, and polls have shown that many people do this on a consistent basis. In essence, the Internet acts as a comparator of news and facts, and it reveals the feckless and shameless distortions and biases of the so-called mainstream media.
The motto of the New York Times is “All the news that’s fit to print.” Perhaps that was true in times past, but they certainly have changed their view on what is or isn’t news…depending upon how the potential story meshes up with their ideological bent. And this goes for most other major newspapers and broadcast media sources. Rather than gathering and reporting news, they have become insinuated into the stories themselves and they are engaged in the wholesale manufacture of news. Not only is this wrong, but it is destructive to our society and contrary to our personal liberty.
So, I’ve got a suggestion for a new motto for the Times, and for the news media in general:
Am I the only one who has noticed that every single magic arrow in the Congressional quiver for the proposed “bailout” and “fixing” of the economy has socialist ramifications? First, we have the government spending the $700+ billion fixer-upper for the mortgage banking industry. Next, we have trial balloons being floated that would have the government buying financial stakes in commercial banks. And there are proposals by both presidential candidates for the government to buy up certain high risk individual mortgages in order that the home owners be able to remain in their houses.
What the hell is next? Do we just absorb the banks, utilities, health care industry and other similar service industries into the government and have all these be taxpayer run? We’ve witnessed what a swimmingly good job the government can do with socialized retirement plans (Social Security) and socialized health care (Medicaid and Medicare), so what evidence is there to make us think that any involvement with the government won’t end up as a colossal mess as well?
Any going concern that is run or regulated by vote-whores in Washington, DC, is doomed to failure. They can’t control their base urges when it comes to serving their constituents, and part of that service is pandering and providing goodies. Like the goodies they were trying to provide to tens of millions of low income citizens (and apparently millions of illegals as well) with their sponsorship of risky loans (via Fannie and Freddie.) That worked out well, didn’t it? The meddling of Congress, and let’s face it most of the true meddlers were Democrats, has threatened to upset the world’s economy for a very long time.
But this economic upset presents our wrongheaded legislators more opportunities to “help” the average American citizen with their bail out plans pulled from socialist playbooks. I guarantee you that they will do and propose more tweaking than our economic system can bear. If they don’t permanently damage it, they will certainly guarantee that it is broken for a very long time. And guess what? There isn’t enough wealth in the known universe to help bail out the US economy if it experiences a future dramatic confluence of negative influences: No matter how many billions are thrown at the problems, and no matter how many taxes are raised or proposed.
I firmly believe that the best medicine for the economy is for the government to just leave it alone, and let the chips fall where they may. The only problem with this proposal is that this isn’t a quick-fix, and it could take a decade for the economy to fully shake out the effects of the mortgage lending crisis. Such a time frame would be wholly unacceptable for anxious politicians, who work on a much shorter time schedule (i.e. four or six years.) They can’t wait for long-term economic dynamics to take care of the problems…they need happy voters voting for them, and certainly a protracted economic crisis would crimp their style. And apply unintended term limits to their seats!
Benjamin Franklin wisely said “Make haste slowly.” These words should be inscribed on the lintels above all doors in the Capitol Building. I fear that with all the government-sponsored fixes implemented and proposed, and the economic “promises” made by the presidential candidates, particularly those of Sen. Obama, that private sector investors are fearful beyond consolation. This is certainly reflected in the Dow Jones Average losses for the past week and a half. I think investors fear knee-jerk reactions by the government, and the recent performance of the Dow bears this feeling out.
The other neglected part of the equation is that our economy runs on, for the most part, emotion. You have investors, analysts and traders who are either comfortable with circumstances and content with making consistent, meager gains for the most part, or they are like frightened stallions running into a barn inferno. But what do our politicians do? They talk down the economy because this is a presidential election season. Everything is going wrong, and things just couldn’t be worse. Trust me when I tell you they could be a whole lot worse…just consider imagining the present crisis even a meager three weeks ago. The political pundits talking down the economy then probably never imagined that things could be worse…but Presto, here we are!
We don’t need expediency. We don’t need an intervening government. We don’t need overbearing regulation. We don’t need meddlesome politicians with their “plans” and their egalitarian, socialist pipe dreams. And we don’t need to spend countless more hundreds of billions of dollars to sort out future economic and financial situations that are the result of stupidity and greed.
What we do need is reasoned, rational solutions to this and future economic problems. We need to recognize that the solutions to these problems cannot be remedied with a quick fix…it took years for the doo-doo to hit the fan, and it will take years for the system to resolve its problems.
Finally, we American citizens should demand that socialist-leaning legislators (politicians) do not try to apply socialist fixes to economic problems where socialist programs got us into trouble in the first place. Our politicians may wish to resort to near madness to try to save their political careers, but we can’t abide madness as we have to pay for it. Please mark me down every time for a thoughtful, rational solution to our most vexing problems…they always work the best and always tend to cost less in the long run.
You may never personally read these words, but I hope that they may find their way to you as soon as possible as they are sincere and from the heart. I write them because with 20 days left in the campaign for the presidency, time is running short. If you are serious about winning this election, I offer you this advice and encouragement:
1.)Unconditional Support + Uncompromising Leadership = Victory! The moment that you accepted the party’s nomination as our presidential candidate, you became a political “vessel” for all of us in the party and for those who support you without party affiliation. I remind you that in many cases, we had to compromise our principles and deep-rooted beliefs in order to support you. Similarly, we expect you to do the same for us. Right now, there is no such thing as a principled stand on issues. Issues are either true or false…and you owe it to all your supporters to cry from the highest rooftops your support for or outrage at each issue. If that means calling out individuals and naming names, then so be it. To many of us, your silence indicates either complicity or stubbornness. We know that you’re not complicit — history is on your side. So, it is time to be less stubborn and more attendant to the needs and will of your supporters. We are in this every bit as much as you are!
2.) The Are No “Marquis of Queensbury” Rules In Politics. You opponent, Sen. Obama, understands this truism quite well. All the time that you have been standing on your “principles”, and not taking him to task in a vigorous manner in you past debates, he has capitalized on your silence and your apparent weakness. He has taken every opportunity to punch or kick you in your nether regions, politically-speaking, while understanding that the response will be less that proportional. You need to begin, immediately, questioning his less-than-complete personal history, his voting records at the state and Federal levels and, most importantly, his troubling connections with criminals and known domestic terrorists. If this means some good, old-fashioned mud slinging, then so be it. If is also means that you are attacked by an Obama-complicit media as a racist or worse, so be it. You have the bully pulpit, so use it for all our sakes! Right is right, and wrong is wrong — and you are in the best position to point this out.
3.) You Must Listen To Your Supporters. October 13, 2008 was an extraordinary day in your campaign. I heard you listen to the voices of supporters in Kenosha, Wisconsin…and for the first time you seemed energized by their unvarnished view of the state of your campaign and the state of the Union. It isn’t just Democrats who are angry! Republicans and like-minded Independents seethe no less vehemently regarding the current state of affairs in Washington D.C. We, however, direct our anger at the wrongheaded political focus of the Democratic Party, their leadership and the rank-and-file Democratic legislators. This includes, to a very large extent, your opponent, Sen. Obama. In your extraordinary words in Kenosha, you finally assigned blame to the present economic meltdown that grips our country. You spoke the names of Frank, Dodd and others. You need to go further, and educate the average American citizen who may not be so enlightened with Washington “inside baseball” and make them understand the ideological roots of, and the players in the Democratic party who contributed to, this crisis that threatens to undermine the world’s economy. These people must be held accountable, they must be contrite…and they must be asked to resign. The American people are owed no less.
4.) Losing Means That You Become One Voice — Victory Means You Become OUR Voice. Speak for us! Speak to the issues that really matter to us. Speak vigorously and unfailingly…and do not be inhibited in your rhetoric. This means that you must come out swinging in your last debate with Sen. Obama. Don’t let the Obama campaign get away with blaming all the economic ills we face — the mortgage banking crisis, high oil/gas prices, increasing unemployment — on “the failed policies of the Bush Administration.” This is a lie, and there is anecdotal evidence that isn’t widely known or disseminated that failed DEMOCRATIC policies are to blame for our present financial woes. And for God’s sake please don’t let your opponent paint you as a third Bush administration. Insofar as I know, your name is McCain, John!
Furthermore, as our voice, you need to to engage in the tried-and-true method of the Democratic party to get a point across. That would be repetition. As our voice, you must repeat your message, our message, as many times as it takes the ears listening to finally get the message! You may think it is unnecessary redundancy of words, but I assure you that this technique is working quite well for you opponent. Remember, if you don’t go all out in these remaining days, you will lose. You will become a single voice in the Congress, and a voice that will be rendered ineffectual due to the composition of the Washington political hierarchy. None of us, you supporters, want this to occur! No one will benefit from you loss.
5.) The Election Isn’t Decided Until The Last Vote Is Cast and The Last Elector Assigned. Even with three weeks remaining there is still enough time. I see you as the underdog only because of the confluence of domestic events beyond your control. And add to that a mainstream media who sees you as a pesky impediment to the eventual coronation of Sen. Obama, and you’ve certainly had, and still have, an uphill battle. But with a single debate remaining and three weeks of vigorous campaigning (particularly with Gov. Palin, the person who has injected true excitement into this campaign,) you have every reason to expect that you can and will win the election. it will not be easy, it will not be pretty…but if you take my advice it will lead to victory.
Please do not forget that when you speak to the vast majority of American people, you are among friends! So, please, for the sake of your supporters, become that uninhibited and unbridled “Maverick” that we know you to be. You promised to fight for us at the RNC Convention just weeks ago, you must now follow through with this pledge and fight the good fight. Fight the vigorous fight. Fight for the truth. Fight for us. Fight for victory.
Let the chips fall where they may, and may God bless you and Gov. Palin in your most worthy campaign!!
With due deference to Sir Elton John, in the halls of Congress, “Sorry” indeed does seem to be the hardest word.
Two weeks have gone by since the financial sky has fallen on us and by my accounts not a single word of contrition has been spoken by any of the Democrats who caused this whole mess. In fact, with their demands for ludicrous and fiduciary-irresponsible lending practices, they may have very well set in motion a world-wide financial depression/debacle the likes of which we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.
Rather than “Sorry” or “What we did was just plain wrong,” we’re seeing more finger pointing and backs going up from the likes of Barney Frank, Barak Obama and Nancy Pelosi. These politicians are trying to spin their inadequacies and their mistakes into a political gain for presidential candidate Obama.
You know, the old game of saying something enough times until, well, it has to be true. But the game ends where the American citizen is the loser, and we all suffer great expense as our “penalty.”
What we need now is for Sen. McCain to keep naming names, like he did at the rally today in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and holding their feet to the fire. This isn’t a game…real people have lost real savings and their futures look pretty grim right now. The socialists who got us here need to be accounted for, and perhaps punished for their misjudgments and misdeeds…whether they meant it or not. For Sen. McCain, there is no such thing as collegial treatment of fellow legislators at a time when they won’t (and don’t) hesitate to precipitate the most vicious and patently untrue attacks on him and his character. The truth is the truth, and it MUST be told! There are no “Marquis of Queensbury” rules in politics, Sen. McCain.
Trillions of dollars have been lost by investors, and for the leadership of the Congress to remain mum at this critical time in US history, except for ultra-partisan finger pointing, is just plain wrong and should not be tolerated by the average American citizen and taxpayer. We must demand contrition, and we must demand that this behavior is never allowed to happen again.
We are owed much better from those who we elect to serve us.
My fellow Americans, mark this week on your calendar. Place large red “X’s” on each day of the week and circle Friday twice. Because this week, we have crossed the Rubicon as a nation and we have taken the first stuttering steps towards socialism. Socialism you say Tony? To be sure, we will be told that this “bailout” was necessary to save “truth, justice and the American way”…but this legislation is a desperate attempt to bail out legislative careers beneath the very tiny fig leaf of salvation for our Republic.
If the chips were allowed to fall…that is if all the banks that held the bad paper from so-called predatory mortgages, what is the very worst that would happen? Would our economy suddenly find itself on its ear? Would we be plunged into a financial crisis that would make the Great Depression of 1929 look like a Sadie Hawkins Dance? Perhaps, but we’ll never know…will we? We were rescued by an interventionist government who, as we all know, was only looking out for our best interests.
The troubling part of this whole crisis is that it was completely unnecessary to rescue our economy. I’ve seen the time lines of deregulation legislation, and the various hearings, votes and legislative proposals…and you know what? Although there is abundant blame to go around in this matter, I feel that the catalyst for all our troubles was the single-minded insistence by Democrats that the practice of red-lining in the mortgage-lending and banking industry be eliminated. In fact, they insisted that mortgages, government-backed mortgages, were made abundantly available to individuals with less than adequate credit…and more importantly, will less than perfect ability to pay them back. The entire reason for the existence for the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is to buy sketchy mortgages from institutions who were essentially forced to loan them to poorly qualified applicants in the first place.
Historically, when legislation was proposed to increase regulation of the banking industry and to add critical oversight to Fannie and Freddie, in particular by Republicans, the Democrats pooh-poohed these observations and road-blocked the legislation. Or more aptly, they derailed it! The now-famous YouTube videos circling the globe show Democrat legislators defending the “liberal” lending practices and standing up for the teetering on the brink of disaster (as we all know very well now) Freddie and Fannie. You see, in addition to being mortgage underwriting entities, more importantly they were safe-havens for individuals who were beneficiaries of political favors and appointments. And guess what, the preponderance of the upper echelon of management in both GSE’s were Democrats…and very well-connected politically.
I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!!
All was well so long as high salaries were to be made and lousy paper to be sucked up from government forced altruism mortgages. That is until the tipping point…ah, yes, the tipping point where there were so many bad mortgages out there and so many mortgagees who simply couldn’t pay them back. As a result, Frannie and Freddie suddenly found themselves with liabilities far exceeding their assets (assets that we guarantee as American taxpayers — that is if you even pay taxes!). In addition to the GSE’s, many banks and mortgage lenders found themselves drowning in bad paper as well. This further happened in the secondary mortgage service marketplace as well. All these entities were left holding either bad mortgage paper or foreclosed upon assets (i.e. houses) whose values are a fraction of what they were when the loans were originally made.
And the rest, they say, is history.
Enter the “rescue” or “bail out” plan as it has come to be known. The American taxpayer is left to foot the bill for the most expensive government intervention into the private sector in the history of the world. We will put forth $700 billion in funds for the Treasury, in the form of a new to-be-determined entity. This entity will, in theory, buy up a lot of the bad mortgages in the system, thereby “unclogging” it, so that banks may free up credit and keep the economy from recessing further.
But the bill that was passed didn’t just bail out the mortgage banking industry, it was laden with $150-200 billion of added pork or “inducements” as they’re called in the make-believe world of the US Congress. See, those politicians who were initially repulsed by the initial $750 billion cost of the legislation could hold their noses if it included a “taste” for them! That’s not how this should have been done, or how we should ever do things in our government. It is vote buying and pandering to the extreme — at the great expense of the American taxpayer.
Something In It For Everyone!
I know it’s hard to believe, but the bailout legislation re-considered by the Senate was changed considerably from that defeated by the House just days earlier. Let’s see some of the reasons why this legislation got bulked up:
DIVISION B–ENERGY IMPROVEMENT AND EXTENSION ACT OF 2008
DIVISION C–TAX EXTENDERS AND ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX RELIEF
Let’s focus on the Tax Extenders portion of the legislation — as it contains some whoppers, obviously critical to the bail out of our financial system. In this legislation we have: Parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits; certain farming business machinery and equipment treated as 5-year property; increase in limit on cover over rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; extension of economic development credit for American Samoa; extension of mine rescue team training credit; Indian employment credit; railroad track maintenance; seven-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facility; extension of work opportunity tax credit for Hurricane Katrina employees; tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia; enhanced charitable deductions for contributions of food inventory; extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products/wool research fund/wool duty refunds; provisions related to film and television productions; mental health/benefit parity; and my personal favorite, exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.
Each and every one of these measures (and trust me when I say there are many, many more) strengthens our society and economy by some great measure, I’m sure. (Wink, wink.) But I still can’t decide if I want to laugh out loud or cry uncontrollably when I think that what was supposed to be landmark bailout legislation was sidetracked and modified by hundreds of billions of dollars in order to make it palatable to individual legislators.
The one thing missing from this legislation is accountability by individual mortgagees. In essence these folks are “forgiven” their greedand irresponsibility for taking out mortgage loans they had no chance of paying back in the long term, and for buying houses far beyond their economic means. In fact many legislators wanted language included that would give judges the option of reducing the interest rate on the original loan agreement, extending the term of the mortgage, or reducing the principal amount.
You heard that right, some politicians wanted to give judges the ability to essentially give a gift to mortgagees who acted irresponsibly — the gift of a lower cost house. Can anyone say “Hello socialism?”
Rather than just focus on punitive measures for greedy CEOs, there should also have been some consequences for individuals who defaulted on or simply walked away from a viable mortgage. The bailout legislation, while long on goodies and added pork, is short of punishing personal irresponsibility. There should be consequences, or else this whole mess will happen once again in a different form!
Irresponsibility in and of itself isn’t a good learning tool. Irresponsibility without consequences just breeds more irresponsibility, and insulates the offender from their mistakes. However irresponsible actions with attendant consequences, I petition, is the best teaching tool on Earth. This bill was an opportunity of the Congress to take a stand and apply some common-sense remedies to this economic crisis, from all sides of the issue. Instead, they chose gift-giving and pandering as their course of action. This is a shame, a travesty and a black day for the already overburdened American taxpayer — who as always is left to foot the bill and clean up the mess.