Friday, December 19, 2008

Defiant Blagojevich Says He Won't Resign (and Quotes Kipling) by Derek Kravitz



Gov. Blagojevich waves to the media after Friday's press conference in Chicago. (Jeff Haynes / Reuters)

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the embattled Democrat charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat and orchestrating an elaborate "pay-to-play" political scheme in the Land of Lincoln, made a short statement today, defiantly saying he will fight the federal charges against him and refusing to resign.

Blagojevich said he would not "quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob."

During his statement, Blagojevich quoted author and poet Rudyard Kipling, saying, "If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you." Here's Kipling's poem, "If," in full (courtesy of Swarthmore):

If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master,
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Don’t Need Any Bailouts Says Former House Majority Leader



In an exclusive interview with's own Jenny Woo, former Republican House Majority Leader, Dick Armey, said he was completely against any bailout for Wall Street, the banks, the auto industry or anyone else for that matter.

Mr. Armey sat down with Jenny Woo to discuss his position related to Internet freedoms (see - it's a fun website) and the rights of those to gamble online. Ms. Woo also asked the million dollar question.

What are the alternatives to the government bailout?

"Other alternatives exist," the former House Majority Leader said. "If you engage in bad business practices, the market will punish you. It's called ‘creative destruction'. The fact is that the myth behind all this bailout nonsense is that if a large bank cannot fulfill its obligations and has to claim bankruptcy that there's going to be a big hole.

"Basically, there'll be a big share in the market that will now be available to responsible bankers who will engage in good banking practices. So the fact is that the bailout will infuse the market's ability to clean up a mess that's caused by irresponsible banking practices. And I'll put it this way - I don't gamble for two reasons, it's very risky and I'm not good at it. But I guarantee you, if the government's going to cover my butt then I'll bet the house on a pair of deuces. So when they do the bill, what they're saying to people is "go ahead and be careless and irresponsible in your business practices and when you can't handle your obligations we'll bail you out." If you gave that lesson to your kids, you'd have a bunch of irresponsible children."

Republican Congressman and former US Presidential candidate Ron Paul of Texas told last month that the best thing to do during an economic crisis is ""just getting out of the way and allowing the market to work".

Armey agreed: "The market would clean this mess up in short order. The government will drag it out. Now instead of me having to live with the mess for two or three months, my children probably get to live with the mess and my grandchildren will probably get to pay for it. Look, six months ago, a year ago, maybe two years ago we had the big dot-come shakedown, everybody got into the easy money business in the dot-com markets, it had to get shaken up."

Detroit may be getting its bailout.

A proposed $15 billion bailout for the ailing U.S. auto industry would have terms similar to the $700 billion rescue package approved by the Congress in October for Wall Street, but with tougher oversight, according to sources close to the negotiations.

Payton O'Brien, Senior Editor

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bold Changes Should Prevent Another Crisis


By REP. JOHN CAMPBELL | Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008 4:20 PM PT

The credit markets continue to unfreeze. The general economy continues to sink. There are new stock market lows and unemployment highs and we don't know where and how it will all end.

But it will end. And we need to start thinking about what regulatory structure will replace the one that failed us so miserably this time. We came perilously close to an abyss (or collapse or Armageddon, depending on who is describing it).

I looked down into that abyss and what I saw was way scarier than any Stephen King movie. Therefore, I think we need dramatic changes to ensure that this sort of calamity does not befall us again.

So what do we do to keep it from happening again while still preserving free markets and rewarding enterprise and innovation? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Banks should be boring entities that you can trust. If you want to double earnings annually, go into another business. We have seen how important our regulated banking sector is to the entire economy. We cannot let them get into high-risk territory.

2. Gambling should be left to casinos. There is investment and speculation, and then there is gambling. To me, gambling is when there are instruments to bet on something going up or down without any interest in or benefit to the underlying asset. One example might be naked short selling. If you want to do that, great. But let's call it what it is: gambling, not investment. And let's keep it in casinos or someplace where it cannot infect the markets for those assets.

3. No more entities that are too big to fail. During the crisis, Treasury Secretary Paulson referred over and over again to entities that were "too big or too interconnected to fail." They did fail, and the taxpayers had to pick up the pieces. The moral hazard (another often-used term) created by this is unacceptable. Just as Teddy Roosevelt decreed that monopolies should no longer exist, we should decree that entities that are so big or interconnected that their failure will collapse our entire financial system cannot exist either. Break them up.

4. Credit rating agencies. There are basically two companies that give credit ratings on bonds. There should be more than that, and they should be completely independent of the companies whose debt they are rating.

5. Stop having multiple regulators regulate the same thing. There was a time when banks were different from savings and loans, which were different from thrifts. They all had separate regulators regulating the same things. That is an archaic model. Similar financial institutions should all have the same standards and one regulator.

6. Fannie and Freddie. These entities have provided a valuable service for decades, and owning a home is still the linchpin of the American dream. We should continue to support homeownership with some federal backing for the most secure loans. But rather than letting a lightly regulated entity play fast and loose with that government guarantee, let's follow more of a public utility model. In other words, a private entity that administers a government franchise in a tightly controlled way. And let's have more than two of them.

7. Some insurance is nationwide. Homes don't move, and cars rarely cross state lines. But various financial insurance products (credit default insurance, annuities, life insurance, etc.) have no nexus in any state. Insurance companies that wish to market such products should have a federal regulator that is more focused on these as financial instruments, since they are distinct from traditional home and car insurance.

8. Don't single out the SEC. There will need to be a complete review of all of the duplicative and complementary regulators in financial markets to streamline the 70-year-old structure we have today.

9. Accounting matters. As a CPA, I love to point this out. Accounting rules for public entities do matter, as the debate on mark-to-market should indicate. We should transition from quarterly to semiannual financial statements so we can reduce market volatility and shift focus from short-term numbers to long-term viability. We should also move toward the international IFRS accounting standards while shielding companies from abusive shareholder lawsuits.

This is not a comprehensive plan, and there are lots of details I have left out in the interest of brevity. Furthermore, I don't claim to have all the answers. But I do have some ideas.

The one thing I do know is that I never want to experience what we have experienced this year ever again. I also do not want to stifle innovation and enterprise as we move forward. I do not think these two goals are mutually exclusive.

If investors make a wrong bet, they should lose. But when an investor makes a wrong bet, he or she should not be able to take half the economy down with them.

This will not be easy, but it must be done, and soon. Let's get to work.

Campbell represents California's 48th Congressional District in Orange County.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where Were You Born, Obama? by Diana West


Friday, December 12, 2008

Roger Kimball may have tagged it first: The real news out of Chicago this week wasn't Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest on cartoonishly lurid charges of corruption stemming from his alleged attempts to sell President-elect Barack Obama's now-vacant U.S. Senate seat. The real news out of Chicago this week was that President-elect Barack Obama had nothing to do with it.

And I mean nothing to do with any of it. There was an almost comical aspect to the spectacle of journalists across the mainstream media (MSM) suddenly, as if on command, assuming pretzel positions in a contortionist's effort not to seem at all curious, for instance, about the discrepancy between David Axelrod's recent declaration that the president-elect had discussed Senate-seat replacements with Blagojevich, and Obama's more recent declaration that he had done no such thing.

The MSM instantly agreed: Obama had nothing to do with it. Such a message took Obama out of the story even before the story itself was clear.

This mantra, this strategy should be familiar by now. Whether it is Jeremiah "G -- d -- - America" Wright, William "We didn't do enough" Ayers, or now, Rod "F -- - him" Blagojevich, Obama is never a player, never even a responsible presence in controversies involving associates past and present. In the media-filtered version of events, he's just not even there. But in no story is what we may one day come to think of as Obama's invisible man-hood more obvious than in the still-roiling controversy over Obama's birth certificate.

What controversy? Anyone who relies solely on MSM outlets (and most conservative outlets) may not even know that Obama has, to this day, not authorized the state of Hawaii to release his Certificate of Live Birth -- the "long form" -- to prove that he is a "natural born citizen" (NBC), a Constitutional requirement of all presidents. Instead, We, the People, have online access to an Obama document known as a Certification of Live Birth, which, as Randall Hoven explains at American Thinker blog, is a computer-generated short form that is not even accepted by the Hawaii Department of Home Lands as adequate verification of Hawaiian identity. (The Home Lands Department requires "information that is found only on the original Certificate of Live Birth," or long form.) Further dimming the online document's Holy Grail aspects, it has been altered -- the certificate's number has been redacted -- which, according to a statement printed on the document, actually invalidates it.

But that's not all. Back on Oct. 31, Hawaii's director of health, along with the registrar of Vital Statistics, released a statement verifying that the Hawaii's Department of Health has Obama's "original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures."

Well, that's just great. But no matter how many times this statement from "Hawaiian authorities" is cited as the NBC clincher, it doesn't prove a thing. It turns out, as Hoven reports, that Hawaii issues birth certificates even for babies born elsewhere, so simply having an original Hawaiian birth certificate "on record" doesn't answer the key questions. Namely: What exactly does this original birth certificate say? And why doesn't Obama simply authorize the document's release and be done with the question?

This is some of the background to the birth-certificate controversy. According to the same MSM reporting that omits Obama from everything, however, the controversy is the sole, self-inflicted creation of people unreasonable enough -- no, kooky enough -- to be concerned about the issue. This includes citizens who have gone to court (up to the U.S. Supreme Court) in more than a dozen states with various NBC-related complaints, all of which could be resolved by the release of Obama's original birth certificate. It also includes followers of radio shows or Internet forums including KHOW's Peter Boyle in Denver, the blog Atlas Shrugs and the news Web site, which have aggressively covered the story.

In the MSM's no-Obama version of events, though, such efforts and interest are mocked as the freakiest kind of lunacy. And this same MSM argument has lately been trumpeted by prominent conservative voices.

"Shut up about the birth certificate," David Horowitz wrote this past week.

Shut up? Is he kidding? Apparently not. Horowitz went on to tell "fringe conservatives" and "birth-certificate zealots" that their "continuing efforts" to "deny Obama his victory" are "embarrassing and destructive." NRO's Mark Krikorian, in turn, congratulated Horowitz for "stomping on the ridiculous, bitter-ender efforts to disqualify Obama from the presidency." Michelle Malkin, too, pooh-poohed the "birth-certificate hunters," describing them as having "lurched into rabid Truther territory."

("Truthers," by the way, are people who believe the United States engineered the attacks of 9/11.)

I disagree. I think it is nothing less than good citizenship to seek to verify that Obama is a "natural born citizen" since our elites, which include the major political parties and the MSM, failed to bring the matter to its extremely simple resolution long ago.

But while important, this isn't just a story about whether we as Americans are right or wrong to ask our president-elect the question about his original birth certificate. It is about whether our president-elect is right or wrong not to answer it.

Once again, Barack Obama is treated as though he were not even a part of this story. Those who seek to resolve the birth certificate controversy draw the fire, but not the man who causes it. Talk shows, court battles and blogs can air the issue, but it is only Obama who can put it to rest. And he can do it simply by authorizing the release of his original, "long form" birth certificate -- and quickly, preferably before the Electoral College meets to validate his election on Dec. 15, but certainly before his term of office begins on Jan. 20, 2009.

Unless, of course, he has something to hide.

Diana West is a contributing columnist for and author of the new book, The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Culture Of Corruption: Obama’s Obliviousness To Chicago Politicians By Herb Denenberg


Monday, December 15, 2008

Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But there’s also a presumption that when you emerge from the cesspool of Chicago politics, you don’t come out perfectly clean. That’s where President-elect Barack Obama came from, so buyer beware. There’s also a presumption that anything that might cast even a slight negative light on Mr. Obama or the Democratic Party was censored out by the mainstream media, which only post-election is discovering the nature of the political environment that produced the next president of the United States.

Where are House Majority Leader Rep. Nancy “San Francisco Values?” Ms. Pelosi, D-Calif., and her campaign against the culture of corruption when we need her? You’ll recall that was her theme song when a bunch of Republicans were in trouble, but that’s all forgotten now with the parade of

Democratic wrongdoers capped by one of the great political scandals of modern times, Gov. Rob Blagojevich, trying to sell a senatorial appointment and about everything else. His own words establish him as so corrupt and so beyond the pale that he appalled even the people of Chicago, who have seen a long parade of governors and other politicians go to jail. This latest scandal has been called a political corruption crime spree unprecedented in recent political history.

But we shouldn’t forget other Democrats who have been contributing to this culture of corruption such as Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who has been accused of accepting bribes and whose freezer was packed with cash when federal agents arrived to search his home.

Of course, we have to mention Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., head of the tax writing committee of the House, who forgets to pay his taxes and who is also under investigation for a possible payoff in exchange for contributions for a library to be named after him. Even when Democrats are impeached that doesn’t seem to stop their political career. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., was impeached as a judge but then was re-elected to Congress. He just lost in an attempt at re-election.

We have what we should have expected from Crook County Illinois, a.k.a. as Cook County Illinois, where the corrupt Chicago political machine has long held sway. And we should not forget that this swamp of corruption and criminality gave us President-elect Obama, who was part of the machine and used the machine in his rise to power and prominence. This was one of the many facts of Mr. Obama’s history ignored by the mainstream media, which censored out of the news anything that might interfere with the election of their Messiah.

Like it or not, the president-elect is right in the middle of the Blagojevich scandal. He endorsed him twice for governor, and the second time around there were already strong indications that Mr. Blagojevich was under criminal investigation, but that didn’t stop the endorsement. Even the well-known Democratic pollster and pundit, Pat Cadell, admitted that in Chicago, politicians all know what’s going on in their domain. (This is the same Mr. Obama who entered into a corrupt land deal with felon and slumlord Tony Rezko even when it was well known that he was under criminal investigation.) We should also remember that President-elect Obama had questionable dealings with Mr. Blagojevich’s bagman, Tony Rezko, involving the corrupt real estate transaction that still has not been fully investigated but raises serious questions about Mr. Obama’s financial transactions.

Finally, we should remember that when an attempt was made to reform the Crook County political machine, Mr. Obama was asked by the reformers to help out, but instead sat on the sidelines, and in effect endorsed the most corrupt and crooked political machine in America.

There is even a question about President-elect Obama’s connection with the Senate-for-sale scandal. In a statement, Mr. Obama said he was saddened and sobered by what happened, whatever that means. He also said of the Senate appointment, “I had no contact with the governor or his office…” Notice he did not say if a representative of his office was in contact with the governor. But that claim was directly contradicted by his spokesman, senior political adviser and alter ego, David Axelrod, who made a clear statement that the two had discussed the appointment.

Mr. Axelrod said spoke about contacts of the senator with the governor about the senatorial appointment as follows: “I know he’s talking to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.” Now Mr. Axelrod claimed he “misspoke,” which fits into the category of the greatest political lies ever told along with “It was taken out of context.”

The prosecutors didn’t accuse Mr. Obama of any wrongdoing in making their announcement. However, they did not exonerate him either. But we don’t have the full story yet, and I must say that Mr. Obama’s denial of any contact with Gov. Blagojevich about the senatorial appointment has to be taken with more than a grain of salt. The president-elect has a long history of being caught up in questionable associations and than trying to lie out of the problem.

He didn’t know what the Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright was up to, even after sitting in his church for 20 years, even after working with him and naming one of his books after one of his sermons, and even after initially seeking him out as soon as Mr. Obama arrived in Chicago. And terrorist Mr. Ayers was just a guy in the neighborhood, with Mr. Obama attempting to conveniently forget they worked for years closely on Mr. Ayers’ radical education projects and that Mr. Obama funneled millions of dollars in grant money to Mr. Ayers. And he was in the dark about convicted felon and close associate Tony Rezko, the racist and bigot Father Michael Pfleger, and terrorist Bernadine Dohrn, Mr. Ayers’ wife, and the anti-Semite and bigot, Rev. Louis Farrakhan. Should we believe Mr. Obama’s denial of any contact on the Senate matter or his spokesman, David Axelrod? My answer is heavily influenced by the Mr. Obama history of lying about such associates as Rev. Wright, the racist and bigot, and terrorist Mr. Ayers.

Dennis Miller, the radio talk show host put it perfectly when he said this guy (Obama) is supposed to be the smartest guy on the planet yet he is always oblivious to what his close associates are doing. Comedian Jackie Mason said Mr. Obama wasn’t there and when he was there he wasn’t listening. I still prefer my formulation: Mr. Obama is either the biggest liar in the world or the biggest idiot. My guess is it’s the former, and not the latter.

But even Gov. Blagojevich’s political crime spree did not wake President-elect Obama up to the corruption of his political machine. Even with that news, the president-elect, as noted, was saddened and sober…but not sad and sober enough to condemn Gov. Blagojevich’s conduct in the strongest possible terms. Later, when pressure starting building, Mr. Obama called on Mr. Blagojevich to resign joining a long list. Recall how long it took him to denounce Rev. Wright.

There are equally disturbing developments from the new administration’s cabinet selections. One is the nomination of Eric Holder to be our next attorney general. Even Mr. Holder’s disgraceful participation in the pardon of the fugitive and fraud artist Marc Rich is not the most serious problem. Mr. Holder also approved the pardon of 16 FALN terrorists. They hadn’t even applied for clemency. But they were pardoned apparently to help Hillary Clinton, then running for the Senate in New York, to get the Puerto Rican vote. Mr. Holder also supported the commutation of the sentences of two Weather Underground terrorists. At a time when we are in a battle with Islamofascist terrorism for our very survival, do we really want an attorney general who seems to specialize in giving free passes to unrepentant terrorists, even over the objection of the FBI and his own Department of Justice?

But all that may not be the worst consequence of the Mr. Holder nomination. He was part of the Clinton Administration’s approach of viewing terrorism as merely a matter for criminal prosecution without the realization that the Islamofascists have declared war against the U.S. and Western civilization. The failed Clinton prosecution approach gave us 9/11, and the Holder appointment is not the first indication of an Obama adoption of the discredited Clinton approach to terrorism.

His other legal appointments are no cause for rejoicing, either. He named Greg Craig as White House counsel. As the National Review (Dec. 15) points out he is a veteran anti-anti-Communist. He helped Ted Kennedy organize hearings to defame the Contras in their struggle against Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime (the leftist Marxist-Leninist-Communist regime) in the 1980s. Later, he represented the father of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who was taken from his family at gunpoint and sent back to Cuba. That was contrary to the wish of his mother, who gave her life trying to get the boy to the U.S. But Mr. Craig, representing the father of the boy, was instrumental in getting him sent back to Cuba.

His fees were paid by left-wing activists, but the National Review concluded, he was “for all intents and purposes a lawyer in the service of Fidel Castro.” With the press, Mr. Craig has aimed to picture himself as an idealist, but the National Review more correctly describes him as a dupe in the service of Mr. Castro.

I would not place too much hope in the new Democratic Administration clearing up the corruption issues in Illinois and the election wrongdoing still not properly investigated. For example, why hasn’t President-elect Obama indicated that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will be allowed to continue and finish his investigation of Crook County, even after the new administration takes over? Instead, Mr. Obama has taken an almost nonchalant stance in the face of mountainous and long-standing corruption in Illinois.

Another matter that should be promptly resolved involves the abuses of public officials who invaded the privacy and violated the rights of Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher, the Ohioan, whose question led then candidate Mr. Obama to admit he wanted to “spread the wealth around.” That seemed to signal a socialist approach to the American economy and became a major campaign issue.

As soon as Joe became a campaign issue, Helen Jones-Kelley, head of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Security, launched a purely political and illegal investigation of Joe in order to discredit him. She also used her official state e-mail account to solicit political contributions for Mr. Obama, another clear violation.

Despite all that, the Ohio governor, Ted Strickland, a Democrat, did not fire her. This suggests the Democrats are willing to tolerate even firing offenses if they serve their political purposes. Needless to say, Mr. Obama maintained his silence on the matter, although he should have spoken out on a matter that directly involved his campaign and his party.

The flavor of what we are to expect from the new Democratic Party domination is also reflected in what happened during the election. I discovered, at least in my area, vandals were tearing down John McCain and Republican campaign signs, but not Mr. Obama and Democratic signs. That may tell you about the mentality of at least some liberals. And now there is another sign of this liberal disease. There is a virtual jihad directed at the Mormon Church for its support of California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

For example, envelopes full of suspicious white powder have been sent to Mormon Church Headquarters. Have we reached the point where free speech is to be censored by criminals and bigots, and there seems to be no outrage from the media and politicians? One commentator said there is no public outrage over this Mormon incident, due to the widespread prejudice against the Mormon Church, which indeed is a sad commentary.

And don’t expect the mainstream media to do anything to provide fair and balanced coverage of this political scene. They are continuing to try to discredit and smear Gov. Sarah Palin, even totally fabricating allegations when necessary. And that mainstream media has given her no credit for standing up to her own political party. She was one of the first to denounce Sen. Ted Stevens, who just lost his reelection try, after being convicted of making false statement about receiving gifts from oil-service executives. She also spoke out against the state chairman of her own political party. But she got no credit for incredible political courage, but did get unremitting smears from the mainstream media.

Despite cheerleading from the mainstream media, the picture is not bright for the years ahead under a Democratic Party administration in control of the White House and both houses of Congress. At worst, we may be going the Chicago way, but at best we’re going the far-left liberal way. And what is supposed to be a transparent Obama administration may be on its way to being a stonewalling and covering up administration.

Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at