Saturday, September 20, 2008



Posted: 3:26 am
September 20, 2008

A WEEK that began so badly for John McCain on economic fundamentals ended on a comparative high.

In dueling speeches yesterday, McCain outthought Barack Obama, thanks to a greater, if still clearly limited, awareness of the realities of the Wall Street meltdown.

McCain went further in identifying the root causes of the current financial crisis and the wider economic slowdown. And, unlike Obama, he touched on some common-sensical ways to improve the situation and was on firmest footing describing how we got into this mess.

"The financial crisis . . . started with the corruption and manipulation of our home-mortgage system," McCain said in Green Bay, Wis. "At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats who [persuaded] Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

Belatedly, a presidential candidate has hinted at the role Washington played in creating a crisis that has bequeathed taxpayers a trillion-dollar debt. The push to make every American a homeowner - no matter that a third or more couldn't afford it long term - has put our financial system in cardiac arrest.

McCain failed to connect the financial dots that made all of this possible. The vast size and scope of the federal government serves as a veritable honey pot, irresistible to an ever-larger army of lobbyists.

He did, however, outline the positive economic contributions made by the banks, investment firms, mutual funds and insurance companies that comprise the financial-services industry.

That said, McCain still wants to have it both ways on taxpayer bailouts. He isn't anti-bailout on principle, just anti-bailout by the Federal Reserve.

He was right to say the Fed needs to stop bailing out failed financial institutions and get back to "its core business of responsibly managing our money supply." But he's open to Treasury Department bailouts, so long as they follow consistent guidelines.

Still, half an economic loaf on the policy shelf is better than none. Obama revealed in Miami that his cupboard is bare of ideas. He simply confirmed that his economic instincts are incorrigibly interventionist and outdated.

Continuing his acceptance speech's theme, he basically promised (to paraphrase the famous pro-Herbert Hoover ad) "a chicken in every pot and a car in every back yard."

Obama declined to go into detail, saying he didn't want to roil the markets, but the Democratic nominee spoke generally of "an emergency economic plan for working families, a plan that would help folks cope with rising gas and food prices, spark job creation through repair of our schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, help homeowners stay in their homes, and provide retooling assistance for America's auto industry."

And you think this week's bailout will be expensive?

Like McCain, Obama seems to believe that a government can actually create jobs. Both want to spend untold billions "creating" green jobs - as if "environmentally friendly" jobs are cost-free, when in fact the taxpayers will foot the vast bill for this dubious project.

But Obama wants to go much further than McCain down the public-works road to nowhere. He wants the government to literally give the unemployed a shovel and start paving highways.

To his credit, Obama did state that any bailout by the taxpayers "must be temporary." Of course, if anyone can name a taxpayer subsidy that has ever turned out to be temporary, then (to steal Obama's line from last week) I have a bridge in Alaska to sell you.

The presidential candidates' responses to the financial crisis are their first real-time opportunity to demonstrate economic-policy know-how. Based on yesterday's performances, Sarah Palin isn't the only one who should be cramming for her final exam.

Patrick Basham is director of the Democracy Institute and a Cato Institute adjunct scholar.

Dispelling The 'Deregulation' Myth


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, September 19, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Politics: A dubious and dangerous idea seems to be gaining strength — that government caused the financial crisis by giving capitalism free rein. If anything, it hasn't done enough of that.

Read More: Business & Regulation

OK, we'll say it if no one else will: Thank heaven for Gramm-Leach-Bliley. If you've been listening to the fulminations from Congress and the campaign trail, you know that we're talking about the 1999 law that dismantled the Depression-era barriers between commercial and investment banking.

Democrats largely supported it at the time, and one of their own, Bill Clinton, signed it. Now they frame it as a Republican bill that helped send the nation on the path to perdition.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said it's time to roll it back: "The system of regulation of these integrated banks has failed, and it is clear that much stronger firewalls are needed." Majority Leader Harry Reid — one of 90 senators who voted for the bill in its final version — took off after its co-sponsor, Phil Gramm, who Reid said "was responsible for deregulation in the financial services industries that paved the way for much of this crisis to occur."

Maybe they know better, but they just can't resist kicking Gramm, who was dumped from John McCain's campaign back in July after suggesting that America had become "a nation of whiners." You don't scold voters in an election year, and Democrats still seem to think they can score points from Gramm's gaffe.

This is no way to start a serious policy debate. And to suggest that the free-market principles embodied by Phil Gramm in his Senate career are at the root of the current financial crisis is not only dubious, but also dangerous. If people are convinced that capitalism is the problem, they'll accept a regulatory regime that sharply pulls in its reins, shifting power from business owners to union bosses such as Sweeney.

So it's time for some fact-based discussion of Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the whole policy trend called "deregulation."

First, that bill didn't make regulation go away. It modernized the rules to fit the realities of the financial markets. Washington doesn't always get the rules right, but in this case it did.

Also, Gramm-Leach-Bliley didn't take down the firewalls between deposit-based banking and investments. Banks can't play the stock market or trade credit default swaps with your savings account. Investment and banking operations run under one corporate roof, but otherwise stay separate.

So why did banks and investment houses get into so much trouble? It will take a long and exhaustive post-mortem to answer that question fully, but one point is already clear: They made mistakes that had nothing to do with the 1999 law.

Commercial banks threw lending standards out the window in their rush to get new business. Like S&Ls of the 1980s, they would have gone wild without Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Washington, if anything, egged them on, but not because of free-market dogma. Banks and mortgage brokers were pumping up the homeownership numbers in America, and politicians were eager to take credit for that.

Wall Street, meanwhile, became a victim of its own innovation. It created new classes of derivative investments that spread — and, through leverage, amplified — the risk from the subprime mortgages produced by the banks. A new multitrillion-dollar market emerged almost overnight, lacking in transparency and reliable price signals. With their asset values in doubt, investment banks lurched toward insolvency.

If regulators failed here, it wasn't because of policies adopted years before. It was more of the same story that has played itself out over and over in modern finance: Innovation races ahead of the rules. Crises tend to take almost everyone by surprise — including the major players as well as the regulators.

Careful study in the aftermath can lead to smart policies that cushion the blows of future shocks, but it doesn't prevent them entirely. Nor should it. Capitalism needs some room for trial and error, bringing out new ideas and testing them in adversity.

In this respect, Gramm-Leach-Bliley has turned out to be smart policy indeed. By repealing the rule against banks owning investment firms, it has led to at least two crucial mergers — JPMorgan Chase absorbing Bear Stearns and Bank of America merging with Merrill Lynch. Morgan Stanley may be the next investment house to find shelter in a well-capitalized commercial bank.

You can spot the theme here: By taking down an outmoded firewall, the law is helping the financial industry cope with a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. Far from being the cause, this instance of deregulation, or whatever you call it, is part of the cure.

...And The Wrong


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, September 19, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Election '08: Barack Obama's quasi-presidential address offering a four-part solution to the financial crisis offers little more than veiled pork-barrel programs. It signals a mind more focused on elections than answers.

Read More: Election 2008

How else can one explain why, against all data and market indicators, Obama's painting the American economy as gloomily as possible?

Obama seems to think that if he can persuade voters the sky is falling, his halo as savior will be brighter, even if he doesn't have a credible grasp of economics. That's why he's begun a nonstop verbal drumbeat of misery on today's difficulties, never mind the facts.

And what would Obama do instead? We're beginning to find out. In a four-point action plan Obama presented on Friday, he goes beyond "hope" and "change" oratory and moves on to what really matters to him: the big-government spending he's been selling all election.

And here's what Obama proposes:

• Point one, Obama calls for subsidies to "working families" to beat high food and energy prices. The problem: High food and energy prices won't be helped by subsidies, but by more supplies. The real solution is to force a Democratic Congress to allow domestic drilling for oil. Thus far, Obama isn't even "present" on that one.

• Point two, dubbed "mutual responsibility and reciprocity," calls for banks to subsidize bad borrowers to "protect homeowners and the economy." This would eliminate personal responsibility. Demagoguing false details — such as about bankers getting golden parachutes, instead of 25,000 of them losing their jobs — Obama insists the solution is simple: Banks shouldn't foreclose on delinquent home buyers. Obviously, he hasn't heard of how bad loans drained Japan's economy of its vitality for a decade.

• Third, Obama seeks "new oversight and regulations of our financial institutions." That means forcing new bureaucracies and regulations into the private sector, the very phenomenon that has made navigating our health care industry such a delight.

• Fourth, Obama seeks to empower unelected foreign entities to the same "globally coordinated (rescue) effort." But Bernanke and Paulson have already done the heavy lifting, as the rest of "the world" has done next to nothing. One more global bureaucracy won't make America's financial system any healthier.

Obama makes a final point by blasting the failure of "common-sense regulation and oversight," to the financial system.

He ought to bring this up with fellow Democrats in Congress. In the 1990s, Rep. Barney Frank blocked key reforms even as he took campaign cash from banking interests. In 2004, President Bush attempted to revive the reforms, but Democrats blocked them.

Today's bank crisis isn't due to the inherent evil of the private sector, as Obama claims. It's due to Democratic leaders who were bought off by political donations and hostile to reform.

Obama, curiously enough, is one of the top recipients of cash from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Small wonder, then, that his main election argument would expand the scope of government by using the banks' subprime woes as leverage.

It's Palin's Leadership That Makes Her a Top-Notch Choice By Linda Lingle


September 18, 2008

If there was any doubt that Sen. John McCain would shake up Washington and institute real change, the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential nominee has put those doubts to rest. Few people can match McCain's maverick spirit and bipartisan nature like Palin.

I've known Sarah Palin since her election as governor in 2006. I am confident she will be a great friend of the Jewish community and Israel, as well as a terrific leader and a great vice president.

It is not surprising that her historic nomination has brought enthusiasm and excitement to the nation.

Palin brings numerous strengths and qualities to the position of vice president. She has been a mayor, a governor and the head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. While serving in these positions, she has built a reputation as a leader willing to work across party lines to bring about real reform and to better the lives of her constituents.

She has cut taxes and curtailed budgetary spending. Rooting out corruption and establishing ethics reform have been hallmarks of her career.

Gov. Sarah Palin

Gov. Palin has also shown that she is not wedded to party politics, nor does she play politics as usual. She has said that the function of a politician is not to serve one's self-interest but rather to serve with a "servant's heart."

Perhaps one of her greatest assets is her firm grasp of one of our country's greatest security issues -- how to tackle our dependence on foreign oil and our growing need for energy independence. When it comes to this critical issue, she has a depth of experience and firsthand knowledge that will prove invaluable to a McCain-Palin administration.

As governor, she challenged the influence of big oil companies and fought for the development of new energy resources in her state. And as an outdoorswoman and naturalist, she understands and cares deeply about the impact of climate change.

Palin has advocated that environmental issues be weighed against economic and social needs, and that meaningful discussion take place in order for policymakers to make the best decisions for our country.

During her tenure as commander-in-chief of Alaska's National Guard, she made it a priority to visit the troops from her state deployed to Kuwait and Germany.

Finally, on Iran -- an issue that is critically important to readers of this publication -- Gov. Palin gets it. She recognizes the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while advocating for strengthening the strategic U.S.-Israel relationship.

It is also clear that Palin is a woman of deep personal faith. She has established a good relationship with the Jewish communities of Alaska, supported the residents' desire to create the Alaska Jewish Historical Museum and was present at the reading of Alaska's resolution commemorating Israel's 60th anniversary.

In her office in Juneau, Gov. Palin has hung an Israeli flag. She displays the flag because Israel is in her heart.

One of the finest qualities she has demonstrated recently is her tremendous grace under fire. Since the announcement of her selection as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, she has faced an onslaught of rumor, smear and innuendo. Yet she has remained strong and resolute. She has let the truth speak for itself.

Shortly after coming into office, Palin asked her former pastor for examples of biblical people who were great leaders and what the secret of their leadership might be. The pastor suggested she re-read the story of Queen Esther, the Jewish woman who rose to help her people and become queen of Persia.

Like Queen Esther, Gov. Palin has faced tremendous adversity, and time and again has risen to overcome obstacles. This is the sign of a true leader.

As Americans get to know her, I think they will see all the wonderful things about her that I've seen over the years. She will be a great friend and advocate for the issues important to us. For that she deserves our respect, friendship and, most important of all, our support.

Linda Lingle, a Jewish Republican, currently serves as the governor of Hawaii.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Congress Lies Low To Avoid Bailout Blame


| Posted Thursday, September 18, 2008 4:30 PM PT

Congress says it likely will adjourn this month having done nothing on the most important issue in America right now: the financial meltdown from the subprime lending crisis.

IBD Ongoing Series: Uncommon Knowledge

Can Congress just walk away from a problem it helped create? Maybe, maybe not.

There's now some talk of a grand deal between the Treasury, the Fed and Congress for a "permanent" solution: creating a government agency to buy up all the bad subprime debt, just like the Resolution Trust Corp. did with bad real estate in the 1980s and 1990s.

Already, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to keep the subprime crisis from crashing the world economy. The collapse of twin mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the failures of Lehman Bros., Bear Stearns and insurer AIG, expose taxpayers to more than $1 trillion in liabilities.

Until now, Congress has been surprisingly passive. As Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, "no one knows what to do" right now.

Funny, since it was a Democrat-led Congress that helped cause the problems in the first place.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently barked "no" at reporters for daring to ask if Democrats deserved any blame for the meltdown, you saw denial in action.

Pelosi and her followers would have you believe this all happened because of President Bush and his loyal Senate lapdog, John McCain. Or that big, bad predatory Wall Street banks deserve all the blame.

"The American people are not protected from the risk-taking and the greed of these financial institutions," Pelosi said recently, as she vowed congressional hearings.

Only one problem: It's untrue.

Yes, banks did overleverage and take risks they shouldn't have.

But the fact is, President Bush in 2003 tried desperately to stop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from metastasizing into the problem they have since become.

Here's the lead of a New York Times story on Sept. 11, 2003: "The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."

Bush tried to act. Who stopped him? Congress, especially Democrats with their deep financial and patronage ties to the two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie.

"These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis," said Rep. Barney Frank, then 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."

It's pretty clear who was on the right side of that debate.

As for presidential contender John McCain, just two years after Bush's plan, McCain also called for badly needed reforms to prevent a crisis like the one we're now in.

"If Congress does not act," McCain said in 2005, "American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole."

Sounds like McCain was spot on.

But his warnings, too, were ignored by Congress.

To hear today's Democrats, you'd think all this started in the last couple years. But the crisis began much earlier. The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, mostly in minority areas.

Age-old standards of banking prudence got thrown out the window. In their place came harsh new regulations requiring banks not only to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, but to do so on the basis of race.

These well-intended rules were supercharged in the early 1990s by President Clinton. Despite warnings from GOP members of Congress in 1992, Clinton pushed extensive changes to the rules requiring lenders to make questionable loans.

Lenders who refused would find themselves castigated publicly as racists. As noted this week in an IBD editorial, no fewer than four federal bank regulators scrutinized financial firms' books to make sure they were in compliance.

Failure to comply meant your bank might not be allowed to expand lending, add new branches or merge with other companies. Banks were given a so-called "CRA rating" that graded how diverse their lending portfolio was.

It was economic hardball.

"We have to use every means at our disposal to end discrimination and to end it as quickly as possible," Clinton's comptroller of the currency, Eugene Ludwig, told the Senate Banking Committee in 1993.

And they meant it.

In the name of diversity, banks began making huge numbers of loans that they previously would not have. They opened branches in poor areas to lift their CRA ratings.

Meanwhile, Congress gave Fannie and Freddie the go-ahead to finance it all by buying loans from banks, then repackaging and securitizing them for resale on the open market.

That's how the contagion began.

With those changes, the subprime market took off. From a mere $35 billion in loans in 1994, it soared to $1 trillion by 2008.

Wall Street eagerly sold the new mortgage-backed securities. Not only were they pooled investments, mixing good and bad, but they were backed with the implicit guarantee of government.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac grew to become monsters, accounting for nearly half of all U.S. mortgage loans. At the time of their bailouts this month, they held $5.4 trillion in loans on their books. About $1.4 trillion of those were subprime.

As they grew, Fannie and Freddie grew heavily involved in "community development," giving money to local housing rights groups and "empowering" the groups, such as ACORN, for whom Barack Obama once worked in Chicago.

Warning signals were everywhere. Yet at every turn, Democrats in Congress halted attempts to stop the madness. It happened in 1992, again in 2000, in 2003 and in 2005. It may happen this year, too.

Since 1989, Fannie and Freddie have spent an estimated $140 million on lobbying Washington. They contributed millions to politicians, mostly Democrats, including Senator Chris Dodd (No. 1 recipient) and Barack Obama (No. 3 recipient, despite only three years in office).

The Clinton White House used Fannie and Freddie as a patronage job bank. Former executives and board members read like a who's who of the Clinton-era Democratic Party, including Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, Jim Johnson and current Rep. Rahm Emanuel.

Collectively, they and others made well more than $100 million from Fannie and Freddie, whose books were cooked Enron-style during the late 1990s and early 2000s to ensure executives got their massive bonuses.

They got the bonuses. You get the bill.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fannie Mae CEO to Democrats: You Are Our 'Family' and 'Conscience' By P.J. Gladnick


A stunning example of the incredible disconnect between the mainstream media and the blogosphere is this video of the interim Fannie Mae CEO, Daniel Mudd, addressing the Congressional Black Caucus, including Barack Obama, at their swearing-in ceremony in 2005. Although this video is spreading quickly in the blogosphere, you have yet to see or hear anything about it in the MSM. As you can see in the video, Mudd talks about the problems of Fannie Mae yet that didn't keep Obama and other Democrats from taking large contributions from that organization or doing anything to try to fix it. Here is a transcript of CEO Mudd addressing the Democrats (emphasis mine):

Good morning members of the Congressional Black Caucus. I am humbled to come here today to reaffirm the friendship and partnership between Fannie Mae and the Congressional Black Caucus. Fannie Mae is determined to keep tearing down the barriers to deliver on the American dream and that means we need to work together with the CBC. So many of you have been good friends to Fannie Mae and our mission. You've been friends through thick and thin. We have indeed come upon a difficult time for Fannie Mae. There is much to be done inside my company and I humbly ask you to help us and to help me. If there are areas where we are missing. If there are areas where we could do better, we'd like to hear it from our friends and I'd be so bold as to say our family first.

It is true that Fannie Mae has lent more money to more minorities and more underserved individuals than any single company in history. 

We will work hard inside our company to resolve the serious matters before us to put our house in order and to forge a new future. And all the while you will see Fannie Mae reaching out and listening to the caucus. Over a century of endeavor you have earned the reputation as the conscience of Congress. In many ways I want to tell you today you are also the conscience of Fannie Mae. Keeping us on course to serve those who need serving the most.

As of this writing, a check on Google News shows NO news outlet has so much as mentioned this video despite the fact of Obama being present and later receiving $126,349 from Fannie Mae. Ask yourself this, if the CEO of Fannie Mae had addressed a similar "family" speech to a group of congressional Republicans who had received big donations from that organization, do you not think the video would have already appeared on the nightly news of the major networks? 

H/T: Gateway Pundit

—P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.

FLASHBACK: Sarah Palin for Governor


I look forward to building a team that will serve all Alaskans with integrity. I believe in fairness and inclusion, and will call on the public to work together for Alaska's common good. I refuse to use divisive tactics that polarize individuals for political gain. As Mayor of Wasilla, the fastest growing area of Alaska, then as Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, I approached issues in a non-partisan way. I believe in hiring and appointing the best people to serve with me. I will bring this same approach to the state as Governor of Alaska. My commitment to my homestate is to never allow special interests to take advantage of Alaskans. I will always put Alaska first!

"Local government is the best government, so I'll work to restore municipal revenue shares... trickle down the State's wealth to relieve local property tax burdens as we acknowledge the plank in our platform that preaches truth: the most effective, responsible, and responsive government is government closest to the people... so tie strings to the revenue if you must, allow it only to be used for basic public safety or education needs if you must, but trickle it down!

We afforded the program when oil was $9 bucks a barrel, yet can't afford it at $60 bucks? C'mon! The nature of the beast of state government is top-heavy growth, so share state wealth with local government, relieve property tax burdens and chip away at state government growth!"

- Sarah Palin at GOP Convention, Fairbanks

(April 2006)

Efficiency in Government

Wasilla has a Strong Mayor form of government, so as CEO of the city Sarah was able to encourage investment, business expansion, teamwork and efficiency in government. This led Wasilla to become the heart of the fastest growing community in Alaska. Sarah believes it's time to apply this common sense approach to every region in the state. Private sector growth flourishes when government makes it easier for Alaskans to do business. Sarah knows government has its place. Education, public safety, infrastructure and good transportation corridors are critical components of any successful community. Sarah is strong in her belief that they all are funded adequately, and all public services are provided efficiently and effectively.

Permanent Fund

In light of recent oil prices, Sarah recognizes state government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Sarah strongly opposes tapping the Permanent Fund without a vote of the people and will stand up to those who see the fund as a temporary account that would pay for government's spending sprees. She believes our children and grandchildren should share the benefits of the Permanent Fund, not just this generation.

Small Business

As Mayor, Sarah's team reduced property taxes, eliminated personal property taxes, repealed the business inventory tax and business license renewal fees. Sarah recognizes that Alaska's small business owners are the backbone of our regional economies. Entrepreneurs absorb a great amount of risk, they employ Alaskans and vitalize local tax bases. It's Sarah's goal to make it as easy as possible for Alaska's small businesses to grow. Collectively, small businesses are key economic engines that drive Alaska.


Sarah is proud of her family's commitment to education. Sarah is a product of the Alaska education system and her parents have spent more than 40 years working in Alaska's schools.  She understands how critical a role education plays in the future development of our state and knows first-hand the commitment required of teachers. Sarah believes every child deserves a good education, be that through parents' choices of traditional public, charter, correspondence, cyber or home schools. Sarah will make sure this includes outstanding vocational/technical training so our students who choose this path are prepared to work in Alaska's industries. Sarah knows that parental involvement is absolutely essential!  

Fiscal Plan

Sarah will resist the push to implement a fiscal plan with higher taxes on Alaskans or tapping our Permanent Fund. She supports parallel paths of aggressive spending reductions and equally aggressive economic development. She will pinpoint services deemed absolutely essential to government and do away with frivolous spending. Oil taxes pay the bulk of state revenues and if we maintain a competitive environment in our oil fields and move forward on a gasline, we can ensure sufficient revenues to operate state government without new taxes on Alaskans. Sarah believes efficiency in government should be employed at all times, not just times of budget shortfalls. Sarah knows reining in government and creating a stable environment will encourage long-term commitments from investors. Much of our surplus revenue should be taken off the table, saved and invested, before it is spent by politicians unmindful of the need for sustainability.


Sarah prefers an All-Alaska project. She supports our Constitution's provisions mandating resource development for the benefit of all Alaskans. Using our gas in-state, hiring our local workforce for construction and operation of the gasline, and capitalizing on spin-off industries from our gas are Sarah's priorities. Sarah will stand up to the oil industry when their interests conflict with the best interests of Alaska.

Commercial & Sport Fishing

Fishing is a vital apart of Alaska's overall economy, and for many communities it is our lifeblood. Fishing has always been an important part of my family; we commercial fish in Bristol Bay and we enjoy the great Alaskan pastime of fishing for personal use.

As I travel around the state I am reminded that state government must do a much better job in listening to those on the front lines of our precious fisheries. Our state is at a crossroads with fishing issues and the path we take could determine the viability of our coastal communities.

As governor, I will fight for the fishermen
who live and fish in Alaska.

I do not support processor shares for fisheries when they remove choices and opportunity from the hands of those who harvest our valuable resource. Concerns expressed over proposed fisheries management changes solidify my commitment to listen to our fishermen and community members before continuing down any path that doesn't lead to a brighter future for those who fish. Concerns so passionately expressed by affected Alaskans are valid and will be addressed.

I understand the arguments for a safer fishery with higher quality fish, but I can't support proposals to give quota shares to entities that systematically change fisheries whereby shares could be bought out from underneath a community and collapse their economic base. My administration's role in providing guidance and leadership in the proposed rationalization of Alaska's fisheries will be critical for our fishermen and fishing communities.

When our fisheries were hit hard by competition from farmed fish we knew not to simply take for granted the supremacy of wild Alaskan fish in the market any more. Through aggressive marketing campaigns (successful ideas initiated by fishermen!), we've made a strong rebound. I am committed to continuing and expanding efforts to market our fantastic wild fish.


Sarah is a strong supporter of personal use of our fish and game resources. She is "Pro-Subsistence for All Alaskans" and has hunted and fished all her life. Sarah respects the equality clause in the state Constitution. In due deference to our founders who wrote our Constitution to ensure Alaskans shall all be treated equally, Sarah believes in retaining that language. Alaskans agree that those who need resources most, in times of shortage, should be given first opportunity to harvest. She is committed to dealing with predator control issues and management based on sound science so Alaska won't face shortages. As commercial fishermen, Sarah's family understands the importance of commerical harvests in Alaska, and also knows that personal consumption of fish and game resources is an inseparable part of Alaskan culture and lifestyle.

Health Care

High costs are hurting Alaskans. Nationwide we see soaring costs adversely affecting our families and businesses. In Alaska, our Medicaid budget has quadrupled in the past 10 years. It's a vicious cycle caused by fewer people being able to pay for services, which forces more government subsidies, resulting in even higher costs. Too often the driver of rising costs is a lack of competition. Sarah supports consideration of legislative and regulatory changes allowing competition that's good for the consumer. She also supports the right of patients to have access to their medical billing information.

Workforce Development

Sarah believes Alaska residents deserve the good jobs emerging in construction, transportation, mining, education, health care, commercial fishing and tourism. Job training is critical in meeting this goal and fair access to limited public resources is a priority. Sarah will work in collaboration with the Alaska Workforce Investment Board, employers, union and non-union apprentice programs, industry consortia and training professionals to ensure we meet the rapidly growing need for trained workers in today's labor market. Sarah will increase and leverage job training dollars through efficiencies in government, private sector partnerships, and responsible investments in job training that result in good jobs for Alaskans.

Pro-ANWR, Pro-Environment

Alaskans prove everyday that we can responsibly develop our resources in an environmentally sound way to fund our future and help protect our country. Sarah will stand up against Outside interests protesting development and will prove Alaska's commitment to environmental excellence. Sarah knows we must be ever vigilant in utilizing outstanding development practices as we make use of our resources.

Gun Rights

Sarah is a life-time member of the NRA and is an avid hunter and shooter. She supports our Consitutional right to bear arms and is a proponent of gun safety programs for Alaska's youth.

Pro-Family, Pro-Veterans, Pro-Seniors, Pro-Life

Sarah respects all Alaskans, at every age. She honors those who have fought for our freedoms. Sarah knows our veterans and State elders have given us the opportunties we're so blessed to enjoy today. She believes in showing that respect by making sure we return to our veterans and seniors the necessities they deserve for all they provided as they built up this Great Land. Sarah respects the sanctity of life, and she appreciates the rights and responsibilities that parents have to raise their children.

“Government's role is to protect the resource for all users and to provide the best people, tools and resources to Alaska's Department of Fish and Game to properly manage the resource. Achieving a fair balance between commercial and personal use fisheries is a fundamental task of the Boards of Fish and Game. I'll put Alaska's interests first.”

Sarah Palin, Commercial and Sport Fisherman

Obama helped ex-boss get $1 mil. from charity By Tim Novak


November 29, 2007

Seven years ago, Sen. Barack Obama was on the board of a Chicago charity when his former boss, Allison S. Davis, came looking for money.

At the time, Davis was a developer represented by the law firm where Obama worked, as well as a small contributor to Obama's political campaign funds. He wanted the charity to help fund his plans to build housing for low-income Chicagoans.

When Allison Davis (right) sought money for a project, his former employee, Sen. Barack Obama, voted to help.
(AP/Sun-Times file)

Rogers Park Montessori School at 1800 Balmoral in Chicago.
(Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)

Obama agreed. He voted with other directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago to invest $1 million with Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners L.P., a $17 million partnership that Davis still operates.

It's not clear whether Obama told other board members of his ties to Davis, whose family would go on to donate more than $25,000 to Obama's political campaigns, including his bid to be president of the United States.

"Let me get back to you on that," Obama presidential campaign spokesman Bill Burton said when asked about that two weeks ago. He never did.

But Burton defended Obama's voting to invest the charity's money with Davis rather than abstaining to avoid the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.

"It was a worthwhile project," Burton said. "It's not a conflict of interest to do what's right for your community."

The Woods Fund -- whose board is chaired by Laura Washington, an opinion-page columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times -- has no records to show whether the board knew about Obama's ties to Davis, said Woods Fund president Deborah Harrington.

Under its agreement with Davis, Harrington said, the fund cannot disclose how Davis has spent the money.

Davis declined to comment.

City records show Davis used some of the money to build a 72-unit apartment building for senior citizens at 87th and Ashland. The $10 million project -- built with a $5.7 million loan from the city -- netted Davis nearly $700,000 in development fees, city records show. His son Cullen Davis is paid to manage the building, which opened three years ago with a ceremony featuring Mayor Daley.

Davis, who's now business partners with Daley's nephew Robert Vanecko, has known Obama for years. Obama began serving on the Woods Fund board in 1993, the same year he was hired as an associate lawyer with Davis' small Chicago law firm, Davis Miner Barnhill. Obama kept working there until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

No longer on board

Davis quit the firm in 1996 to become a developer. But he continued to use his former law firm to represent him.

As a developer, Davis' partners have included Tony Rezko, the now-indicted political fund-raiser who has been among Obama's biggest political supporters.

A few months after Davis left the law firm, Obama won his first political office -- a seat in the Illinois Senate. His campaign contributors included Rezko and Davis.

Two years later, Obama wrote to city and state officials, urging them to give money to New Kenwood LLC, a company that Davis and Rezko formed to build an apartment building for low-income seniors at 48th and Cottage Grove.

Davis and Rezko were building that project in 2000 when Davis approached the Woods Fund, seeking its investment in future projects. Besides Obama, Davis also had ties to another of the not-for-profit organization's seven board members -- Howard Stanback, a former city aviation commissioner who worked for Davis at New Kenwood.

Stanback was the board chairman of the Woods Fund, a $68 million foundation "whose goal is to increase opportunities for less advantaged people and communities" by giving money primarily to not-for-profit groups involved in housing, the arts and other areas, according to its Web site.

While Obama voted to make the $1 million investment with Davis, Stanback abstained, Harrington said.

Stanback and Obama are no longer on the Woods Fund's board. Obama left in 2002. Stanback left last year.

Obama Supporter Josh Howard Shows Contempt for America


September 17, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard, made a video during a charity flag football game. In the video, shot at an Allen Iverson event, shows Howard, as the national anthem is being sung, saying:

"The Star-Spangled Banner is going on. I don’t celebrate this sh!t. I’m black."

Howard also makes a hard-to-hear reference about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and both Howard and his friends are heard using the word "nigger" too many times to count.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said, according to The Dallas Morning News, that the team dealt with Howard at the time of the incident. He added that the team has a plan in place to address the issue at training camp. Cuban also added:

"That said, we will be going through some advanced communication skill sessions together this training camp. I have explained to him that cell phone cameras are not your friend, and that what you think you said on camera is never what people will hear when it shows up on YouTube or TV."

In July, Howard was arrested and charged with speeding (94 mph in a 55 mph zone), careless and reckless driving, and speed competition in North Carolina. He was released from jail on a written promise to appear in court September 23.

In that incident, police said an officer saw a black Lexus and a silver Volkswagen speeding along U.S. 421. The officer stopped the Lexus, and Howard was identified as the driver.

Howard was criticized last season for saying in a radio interview during a first-round playoff series against New Orleans that he occasionally smokes marijuana. Later that same series, he angered coach Avery Johnson by throwing himself a birthday bash after a Game 4 loss to the Hornets.

In 2006, Howard opted out of playing for the U.S. Olympic team program, reportedly because he said it conflicted with his summer training camps.

Howard has a lot of growing up to do, and he needs to learn a lot more about the America that has given him the opportunities he has. Howard needs to learn some R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Congress Tries To Fix What It Broke


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Regulation: As the financial crisis spreads, denials on Capitol Hill grow more shrill. Blame an aloof President Bush, greedy Wall Street, risky capitalism — anybody but those in Congress who wrote the banking rules.

Read More: Election 2008 | Iraq

Such denials won't hold against the angry facts banging on their doors. The only question is whether the guilty party can keep up the barricade until Election Day.

A visibly annoyed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected suggestions that Democrats share blame for the meltdown. "No," she snapped at reporters who dared ask.

Stick to our narrative, she scolded: The bursting of the housing bubble was another story of market failure and deregulation.

"The American people are not protected from the risk-taking and the greed of these financial institutions," she said, while calling for investigations of the industry.

Only, the risk-taking was her idea — and the idea of all the other Democrats, along with a handful of Republicans, who over the past 30 years have demonized lenders as racist and passed regulation after regulation pressuring them to make more loans to unqualified borrowers in the name of diversity.

They were the ones who screamed — "REDLINING!" — and sent banks scurrying for cover in low-income neighborhoods, where they have been forced to lower long-held industry standards for judging creditworthiness to make the subprime loans.

If they don't comply, they are threatened with stiff penalties under the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA, a law that forces banks to make home loans to people with poor credit risks.

No fewer than four federal banking regulatory agencies are responsible for enforcing the law. They subject lenders to racial litmus tests and issue regular report cards, the industry's dreaded "CRA rating."

The more branches that lenders put in poor neighborhoods, and the more loans they make there, the better their rating. Those lenders with low ratings can not only be fined, but also blocked from mergers and other business transactions needed to expand.

The regulation grew to monstrous proportions during the Clinton administration, obsessed as it was with multiculturalism. Amendments to the CRA in the mid-1990s dramatically raised the amount of home loans to otherwise unqualified low-income borrowers.

The revisions also allowed for the first time the securitization of CRA-regulated loans containing subprime mortgages. The changes came as radical "housing rights" groups led by ACORN lobbied for such loans. ACORN at the time was represented by a young public-interest lawyer in Chicago by the name of Barack Obama.

HUD, in turn, pressured Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase more subprime mortgages, and Fannie and Freddie, in turn, donated to the campaigns of leading Democrats like Barney Frank and Pelosi who throttled investigations into fraud at the agencies.

Soon, investment banks such as Bear Stearns were aggressively hawking the securities as "guaranteed." Wall Street's pitch was that MBSs were as safe as Treasuries, but with a higher yield.

But they weren't safe. Everyone in the subprime business — from brokers to lenders to banks to investment houses — absolved themselves of responsibility for ensuring the high-risk loans were good.

The mortgage lenders didn't care, because they were going to sell the loans to other banks. The banks didn't care, because they were going to repackage the loans as MBSs. The investors and traders didn't care, because the MBSs were backed by Fannie and Freddie and their implicit government guarantees.

In other words, nobody up and down the line — from the branch office on main street to the high-rise on Wall Street — analyzed the risk of such ill-advised loans. But why should they? Everybody was just doing what the regulators in Washington wanted them to do.

So everybody won until everybody lost, including the minorities the government originally mandated the banks to serve.

The original culprits in all this were the social engineers who compelled banks to make the bad loans. The private sector has no business conducting social experiments on behalf of government. Its business is making profit. Period. So it did what it naturally does and turned the subprime social mandate into a lucrative industry.

Of course, it was a Ponzi scheme, because they weren't allowed to play by their rules. The government changed the rules for risk.

In order to put low-income minorities into home loans, they were ordered to suspend lending standards that had served the banking industry well for centuries. No one wants to talk about it, so they just scapegoat Wall Street. Even John McCain has joined the Democrat chorus on this.

The FBI is now investigating 24 large mortgage lenders for alleged abuses. But who will investigate the pols and the lobbyists and the community agitators who made the bad decisions that ultimately forced businesses to make their bad decisions?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lehman Brothers: Obama’s Rezko-Auchi conflict of interest By Andrew Walden


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama was quick to blame the bankruptcy of Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers on Republicans’ “failed philosophy”. Obama’s September 15 comments were repeated throughout the media--yet reporters have not noted Obama’s glaring conflict of interest—the Lehman debt owed to a bank owned by the financier who loaned millions of dollars to Tony Rezko.

Jockeying among the other debtors seeking repayment under Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules is BNP Paribas, a large French bank whose largest single private shareholder is Nadhmi Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holdings (GMH). BNP Paribas is owed $250 million by Lehman.

Nadhmi Auchi is an Iraqi whose Baathist ties go back to 1959. A formerly high-ranking official in Iraq’s Oil Ministry, Auchi left Iraq at the end of the 1970s. His wealth then grew exponentially as a procurer of arms for Saddam Hussein’s government during the Iran–Iraq war. He is now one of the richest men in Britain. Saddam Hussein in 1995 selected BNP, which later merged with Paribas, as the sole conduit bank handling Oil-for-Food transactions. This Clinton-era arrangement was changed in 2001 by the incoming Bush administration.

Auchi was also a key financial backer for Chicago political fixer and dual US-Syrian citizen Tony Rezko. This writer explained the complex web of relationships in an August 24 article titled, “Iraqi Billionaire Threatens Reporters Investigating Rezko Affair”:

A secret $3.5 million loan from an Auchi company to key early-money Barack Obama fundraiser Antoin Rezko was exposed while Rezko was awaiting trial on fraud and money-laundering charges earlier this year. Rezko’s bail was revoked and police showed up banging on the doors of his Wilmette Chicago mansion to drag him off to jail early in the morning of January 28th. Auchi’s loan to Rezko had come on May 23, 2005 but had not been disclosed to the Court as required in his bail agreement. Three weeks later, on June 15, 2005, Rezko’s wife assisted the Obamas in the purchase of their South Chicago mansion by purchasing a next-door undeveloped lot being sold with the house. 

According to the Times of London, “Mr. Rezko’s lawyer said his client had ‘longstanding indebtedness’ to Mr. Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holding (GMH). By June 2007 he owed it $27.9 million. Under a Loan Forgiveness Agreement described in court, M. Auchi lent Mr. Rezko $3.5 million in April 2005 and $11 million in September 2005, as well as $3.5 million transferred in April 2007. That agreement provided for the outstanding loans to be ‘forgiven’ in return for a stake in the 62-acre Riverside Park development.”

Rezko’s relationship with Barack Obama goes back to at least 1990, when Obama’s law firm did work relating to thousands of now-decaying Rezko apartment units in South Chicago. Rezko was a key early-money fundraiser in Obama’s state Senate campaigns and his failed run at the U.S. Congress.

According to The Times of London, “Mr. Auchi first met Mr. Rezko after the 2003 Iraq war and they have a business relationship.” At the time Auchi was facing the possibility of extradition to France. The Times of London explains: “Mr Auchi was convicted of corruption, given a suspended sentence and fined £1.4 million in France in 2003 for his part in the Elf affair, described as the biggest political and corporate scandal in post-war Europe. He, in a statement from his media lawyers, claims he is appealing against the sentence.”

In 2003, Nick Cohen of the UK Guardian wrote:

Allow me to introduce you to Nadhmi Auchi. He was charged in the 1950s with being an accomplice of Saddam Hussein, when the future tyrant was acquiring his taste for blood. He was investigated in the 1980s for his part in alleged bribes to the fabulously corrupt leaders of post-war Italy. In the 1990s, the Belgium Ambassador to Luxembourg claimed that Auchi’s bank held money Saddam and Colonel Gadaffi had stolen from their luckless peoples. In 2002, officers from the Serious Fraud Squad raided the offices of one of Auchi’s drug companies as part of an investigation of what is alleged to be the biggest swindle ever of the (British National Health Service). With allegations, albeit unproven, like these hanging over him, wouldn’t you think that British MPs would have the sense to stay away?

One might think Obama would also stay away, but in truth it is only the US media who are ducking this story. While ideological bias and a predisposition towards inanity might explain some of the media ignorance, the August 24 article cites another cause:

Working for Auchi… attorneys from London law firm Carter-Ruck have for several months been flooding American and British newspapers and websites with letters demanding removal of material they deem “defamatory” to their client. 

In its June 28 edition, British satirical magazine Private Eye explains: “Until Carter-Ruck and Partners and England’s stifling libel laws got to work, the few American journalists not caught up in Obama-mania were turning to the archives of the British press to answer an intriguing question: who is Nadhmi Auchi?”

What is so “stifling” about English libel law? In the U.K., as Carter-Ruck explains on its own website, “A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed.”

The Obama campaign recently issued a non-denial denial in response to claims that Obama met with Auchi―contained in Jerome Corsi’s bestseller, The Obama Nation. They cited only two references.  One is, “Mr. Auchi’s lawyer” who told the February 27, 2008 London Evening Standard, “As far as he can remember he has had no direct contact with Mr. Obama.” Another is, “A lawyer for Auchi, Alasdair Pepper” who says, according to the April 16, 2008 Washington Post, “Auchi Had ‘No Recollection’ Of Meeting Obama or Michelle.” Alasdair Pepper is the attorney whose name appears on the Carter-Ruck demand letters.

Here are some questions reporters should be asking Barack Obama:

Senator Obama: Lehman Brothers owes over $250 million to a bank owned in part by Nadhmi Auchi’s holding company. Auchi was a key financial backer of Tony Rezko. Sources indicate you met Auchi twice when he visited Chicago in 2004. If elected, how will your relationship with Rezko and Auchi affect your policy towards Lehman Brothers?

Senator Obama: There are reports that Nadhmi Auchi was in 2004-2005 seeking US residency while appealing his French court conviction in the ELF-Aquitaine case. If elected, would you look favorably on a US residency application from Auchi?

Senator Obama: You stated that the Lehman bankruptcy shows that Americans cannot afford four more years of the Republicans’ “failed philosophy”. Can Americans afford a President whose home was purchased with the assistance of now-convicted-felon Tony Rezko, a man characterized as having “permanent indebtedness” to Nadhmi Auchi?

Democrats Still Aren't Serious About Drilling By JOHN SHADEGG


SEPTEMBER 17, 2008

After a five-week paid vacation, Democrats are back in Washington and claiming that they want to do something about oil prices.

But the problem is that their plan, which passed the House yesterday and will likely come up for a vote in the Senate later this week, will not produce a single drop of oil.

Why? Because it does nothing about environmental groups that are suing to stop drilling.

The Democratic proposal is not a death-bed conversion, it's designed to solve their political problem. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her members in August that they can say they are in favor of drilling, but that she wouldn't allow a vote on a drilling bill. Now that she has been forced to, she knows her environmental allies will block new drilling from going forward.

The Sierra Club has told its members that it is "working to ensure that the final bill's focus is on real clean energy solutions rather than expanded offshore drilling." Democratic Rep. John Murtha, a Pelosi confidante, went further last week in noting that his party's not above cynical politics: "This is a political month. There's all kinds of things we try to do that will just go away after we leave." And Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council Karen Wayland has said "This is about politics, not necessarily about policy."

The green lobby, however, is not going away. EarthJustice, which employs over 150 people, has filed hundreds of lawsuits. On its Web site, it says "Because lawsuits can be so effective, we have a team of policy experts in Washington, D.C. that work hand-in-hand with our attorneys to stop legislative backlash . . ."

Indeed, incessant legal and administrative challenges make true the Democrat claim that oil from newly opened areas will not reach the market for years. These groups make use of a wide range of laws and regulations to challenge development. And they will make sure that the Democrats' proposal is meaningless.

In February 2008, the administration issued 487 leases in Alaska's Chukchi Sea, which holds an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and other groups used the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act to challenge and delay progress on all 487 leases. In a separate lawsuit, they challenged the entire national outer continental shelf (OCS) leasing program, seeking to block all future leases.

Even if a lease makes it through these challenges, it isn't clear sailing. Right now, there are 748 leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Exploration activities in every single one were challenged in May of this year by EarthJustice in conjunction with others.

The Alaskan OCS contains 26 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Not one offshore lease has escaped litigation.

And it's not just Alaska. Wild Earth Guardians and others recently filed suit to block energy exploration on all leases in recent sales in Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Last year, almost 50% of gas leases in the Rocky Mountain states were protested in court.

Environmental protections are necessary. But, there must be reasonable limits on litigation.

During the oil embargo in 1973, Congress waived environmental laws for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. That waiver, Democratic Sen. John Tunney of California said at the time, "in no way dilutes or diminishes the applicability of NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act]." Rather, he said, it "brings into balance grave concerns of national security" with our nation's environmental safeguards. In 1996 and again in 2006, environmental laws were waived for the construction of fences along the southern border of the United States.

Absent provisions to stop abusive litigation, the bills Democrats support will not lead to oil production. Any serious energy plan would encourage the development of alternative and renewable fuels, and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the OCS and the Western U.S. to drilling. It also would put a stop to never-ending litigation. But that's not what Democratic leaders are offering.

We're told that the Democrats now favor drilling. That they have seen the light after feeling the heat all summer. What's really happening is we're mid-way through a political hoax.

Some 70% of Americans favor increased domestic drilling. Unfortunately, if Mrs. Pelosi and her party's leaders continue to play politics, we can be sure Americans won't get the energy they want.

Mr. Shadegg, a Republican, is a U.S. congressman from Arizona.



Last updated: 2:34 pm
September 16, 2008
Posted: 4:02 am
September 15, 2008

Barack Obama tours Iraq with Gen. David Petraeus in July, when he sought to stall any agreement for US troop withdrawal until President Bush left office."

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops - and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its "state of weakness and political confusion."

"However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open." Zebari says.

Though Obama claims the US presence is "illegal," he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the "weakened Bush administration," Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate.

While in Iraq, Obama also tried to persuade the US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, to suggest a "realistic withdrawal date." They declined.

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet.

Supposing he wins, Obama's administration wouldn't be fully operational before February - and naming a new ambassador to Baghdad and forming a new negotiation team might take longer still.

By then, Iraq will be in the throes of its own campaign season. Judging by the past two elections, forming a new coalition government may then take three months. So the Iraqi negotiating team might not be in place until next June.

Then, judging by how long the current talks have taken, restarting the process from scratch would leave the two sides needing at least six months to come up with a draft accord. That puts us at May 2010 for when the draft might be submitted to the Iraqi parliament - which might well need another six months to pass it into law.

Thus, the 2010 deadline fixed by Obama is a meaningless concept, thrown in as a sop to his anti-war base.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Bush administration have a more flexible timetable in mind.

According to Zebari, the envisaged time span is two or three years - departure in 2011 or 2012. That would let Iraq hold its next general election, the third since liberation, and resolve a number of domestic political issues.

Even then, the dates mentioned are only "notional," making the timing and the cadence of withdrawal conditional on realities on the ground as appreciated by both sides.

Iraqi leaders are divided over the US election. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (whose party is a member of the Socialist International) sees Obama as "a man of the Left" - who, once elected, might change his opposition to Iraq's liberation. Indeed, say Talabani's advisers, a President Obama might be tempted to appropriate the victory that America has already won in Iraq by claiming that his intervention transformed failure into success.

Maliki's advisers have persuaded him that Obama will win - but the prime minister worries about the senator's "political debt to the anti-war lobby" - which is determined to transform Iraq into a disaster to prove that toppling Saddam Hussein was "the biggest strategic blunder in US history."

Other prominent Iraqi leaders, such as Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, believe that Sen. John McCain would show "a more realistic approach to Iraqi issues."

Obama has given Iraqis the impression that he doesn't want Iraq to appear anything like a success, let alone a victory, for America. The reason? He fears that the perception of US victory there might revive the Bush Doctrine of "pre-emptive" war - that is, removing a threat before it strikes at America.

Despite some usual equivocations on the subject, Obama rejects pre-emption as a legitimate form of self -defense. To be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire, a pig with lipstick or any of the other apocalyptic adjectives used by the American defeat industry in the past five years.

Yet Iraq is doing much better than its friends hoped and its enemies feared. The UN mandate will be extended in December, and we may yet get an agreement on the status of forces before President Bush leaves the White House in January.

Democrats Blocked Financial Reforms that McCain and GOP Proposed in 2005! By Mike's America


September 16. 2008

And the current financial meltdown is the result.

If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
-- John McCain, May 25, 2006

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together hold or own up to FIVE TRILLION DOLLARS in mortgage debt. That's more than half the total of the current U.S. national debt.

Their failure is what has sparked the world financial crisis and the blame lies solely with the Democrats in Congress who shielded them from reform for years while Democrat party hacks running the companies enriched themselves. (it's a Democrat scandal as I described here).

Looking back to the root of the problem Wayne Barret describes how the snowball started:

Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie
How the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history gave birth to the mortgage crisis
By Wayne Barrett
The Village Voice
Tuesday, August 5th

...Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis. He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded "kickbacks" to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.

Republican Reforms Blocked by Democrats

In the year 2000 Congressman Richard Baker (R-La.) then the chairman of the House subcommittee that had jurisdiction over Fannie and Freddie introduced legislation to more tightly regulate the mortgage giants. The bill never saw the light of day. Congresspersons from both parties receive contributions from Fan & Fred (the list) and collectively they spent $174 million lobbying Congress the last ten years.

The result of Rep. Baker's legislation would not have been a surprise to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who had proposed tighter regulation in the 1990's only to find a highly paid Fannie Mae lobbyist stalking him at events in his district and who played hardball by directing calls to every mortgage holder in the Congressman's district falsely implying that Ryan meant to raise their rates.

Republicans Try Again

In 2004 another attempt was launched. The Senate took up a measure put forwarded by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) only to have it blocked again by Fan & Fred using Democrats as a partisan attack machine:

Fannie and Freddie chose to fight legislation in the Senate Banking Committee that embodied the administration's minimum requirements, particularly the receivership provision, in the late spring of 2004. The companies called in their chits and managed to obtain solid Democratic opposition to the bill crafted by the committee's chairman, Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The committee also watered down the receivership provision. The partisan nature of the vote to send the bill to the floor virtually assured that it would not be taken up in the Senate unless Fannie and Freddie relented in their opposition ... but Fannie and Freddie would not budge. It may be that the [Fan&Fred] were banking on the defeat of President George W. Bush and on the assumption that a Democratic president would abandon the effort to pass tougher regulation. If that was their thinking, it was an exceedingly costly error.
In the last year of the Republican Congress House GOP leaders were determined to try again. They put forward H.R. 1461 [109th]: Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005. The bill would have stripped control of Fan & Fred from the Housing and Urban Development Department where Cuomo had turned it into a regulatory farce.

The bill would also introduce "anti advocacy provisions" barring money from Fan & Fred being used as a slush fund for liberal lobbying organizations.

Despite Democrat opposition to that measure the bill passed the House, but could not get a vote in the Senate even after the anti-lobbying provision was removed.

John McCain was one of three Republicans in the U.S. Senate to sponsor the bill. Rising to propose the legislation Senator McCain's words now sound prophetic:

Senator McCain Speaks in Support of

The United States Senate
May 25, 2006

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae's regulator reported that the company's quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were "illusions deliberately and systematically created" by the company's senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae's former chief executive officer, OFHEO's report shows that over half of Mr. Raines' compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator's examination of the company's accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs--and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO's report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO's report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
McCain took action in 2005 that might have helped us avoid the severity of this current financial crisis. Democrats also took action in 2005 and stopped McCain's reforms.

Financial Crisis a Democrat Scandal By Mike's America


September 16, 2008

Democrats have spent more time investigating Sarah Palin than they have the crooks in their own party who are responsible for the financial crisis!

The current financial crisis was sparked by the failure of the huge government backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac whose fraudulent accounting practices and willingness to encourage banks to make bad loans to people who could not afford them have undermined faith in the financial sector of the U.S. economy.

Caught in this mess are millions of Americans who have either had their homes foreclosed or whose investments or employment with the affected banks, mortgage companies and investment houses has come crashing down.

All Americans are affected by the downturn in the economy caused by this crisis and leaving taxpayers left to clean up the mess estimated to cost $150 billion or more.

It's a financial crisis that was avoidable and that's where the scandal comes in. And the responsibility should be placed squarely on the Democrats who milked this financial cow for their own enrichment while ignoring the growing dangers.

Worse than ENRON

The fraudulent accounting that allowed Enron executives to enrich themselves and led the company to bankruptcy and the loss of $68 billion in employee and investor assets is dwarfed by that at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac whose loses to investors will top $103 billion. Fannie Mae's accounting fraud was $11 billion, 19 times larger than Enron's $567 million accounting restatement.

Enron 's CEO Jeff Skilling went to jail and Chairman Ken Lay died, probably as a result of the stress from prosecution. Both Franklin Raines and James Johnson , CEO's of Fannie Mae, who played key roles in previous Democrat administrations were fired, but later went to work for the Obama campaign. Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick also was a highly paid executive at Fannie Mae but left to join the 9/11 Commission (she was chiefly responsible for the wall that prevented law enforcement and intelligence agencies from sharing information). Gorelick is considered as a possible Attorney General in an Obama Administration.

News organizations which ran daily stories linking the Bush Administration to Enron executives have been nearly silent on the direct, long term political connections between the Fannie Mae disaster and Democrats.

Buying Obama

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used $174 million, to pay for lobbyists to insulate them from the tightened regulation and oversight that might have avoided this crisis. And it won't surprise many readers to learn that Obama received over $126,000 in campaign contributions since first running for the Senate in 2004. Obama ranked #2 on the list which includes mostly Democrats. By comparison, McCain received $21,550. Other top Democrats on Fannie Mae's money list include Senator Chris Dodd, who received a favorable loan from a related mortgage company, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

David Frum summed it all up in three sentences:

Here is potentially the largest financial disaster in American history. The American taxpayer stands to lose billions; Democratic insiders have extracted tens of millions. If Enron was a party scandal ... what is this?
When will the hearings start? When will a special prosecutor be appointed? Don't hold your breath. Remember: this is a Democrat scandal!

FINANCIAL FLASHBACK: New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae


September 11, 2003

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt -- is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.

''There is a general recognition that the supervisory system for housing-related government-sponsored enterprises neither has the tools, nor the stature, to deal effectively with the current size, complexity and importance of these enterprises,'' Treasury Secretary John W. Snow told the House Financial Services Committee in an appearance with Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, who also backed the plan.

Mr. Snow said that Congress should eliminate the power of the president to appoint directors to the companies, a sign that the administration is less concerned about the perks of patronage than it is about the potential political problems associated with any new difficulties arising at the companies.

The administration's proposal, which was endorsed in large part today by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, would not repeal the significant government subsidies granted to the two companies. And it does not alter the implicit guarantee that Washington will bail the companies out if they run into financial difficulty; that perception enables them to issue debt at significantly lower rates than their competitors. Nor would it remove the companies' exemptions from taxes and antifraud provisions of federal securities laws.

The proposal is the opening act in one of the biggest and most significant lobbying battles of the Congressional session.

After the hearing, Representative Michael G. Oxley, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, and Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced their intention to draft legislation based on the administration's proposal. Industry executives said Congress could complete action on legislation before leaving for recess in the fall.

''The current regulator does not have the tools, or the mandate, to adequately regulate these enterprises,'' Mr. Oxley said at the hearing. ''We have seen in recent months that mismanagement and questionable accounting practices went largely unnoticed by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight,'' the independent agency that now regulates the companies.

''These irregularities, which have been going on for several years, should have been detected earlier by the regulator,'' he added.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was created by Congress in 1992 after the bailout of the savings and loan industry and concerns about regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them as securities or hold them in their own portfolios.

At the time, the companies and their allies beat back efforts for tougher oversight by the Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Federal Reserve. 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. This year, however, the chances of passing legislation to tighten the oversight are better than in the past.

Reflecting the changing political climate, both Fannie Mae and its leading rivals applauded the administration's package. The support from Fannie Mae came after a round of discussions between it and the administration and assurances from the Treasury that it would not seek to change the company's mission.

After those assurances, Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chief executive, endorsed the shift of regulatory oversight to the Treasury Department, as well as other elements of the plan.

''We welcome the administration's approach outlined today,'' Mr. Raines said. The company opposes some smaller elements of the package, like one that eliminates the authority of the president to appoint 5 of the company's 18 board members.

Company executives said that the company preferred having the president select some directors. The company is also likely to lobby against the efforts that give regulators too much authority to approve its products.

Freddie Mac, whose accounting is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a United States attorney in Virginia, issued a statement calling the administration plan a ''responsible proposal.''

The stocks of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae fell while the prices of their bonds generally rose. Shares of Freddie Mac fell $2.04, or 3.7 percent, to $53.40, while Fannie Mae was down $1.62, or 2.4 percent, to $66.74. The price of a Fannie Mae bond due in March 2013 rose to 97.337 from 96.525.Its yield fell to 4.726 percent from 4.835 percent on Tuesday.

Fannie Mae, which was previously known as the Federal National Mortgage Association, and Freddie Mac, which was the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, have been criticized by rivals for exerting too much influence over their regulators.

''The regulator has not only been outmanned, it has been outlobbied,'' said Representative Richard H. Baker, the Louisiana Republican who has proposed legislation similar to the administration proposal and who leads a subcommittee that oversees the companies. ''Being underfunded does not explain how a glowing report of Freddie's operations was released only hours before the managerial upheaval that followed. This is not world-class regulatory work.''

Significant details must still be worked out before Congress can approve a bill. Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

''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.''

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

''I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,'' Mr. Watt said.