Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Market is Wise

In response to an editorial in today's (New Year's Eve, 2008) Wall Street Journal, "The Market Isn't So Wise After all", by Thomas Frank ("The Tilting Yard" Page A 7)

Mr. Frank, what are you talking about? The market is not allowed to work (no one thinks it's "wise") because of the government's meddling. The market has never and will never wander upward forever; periodic declines are healthy cleansing periods. Recessions and some lost jobs are part and parcel of the workings of the market. If the government would allow some of this to occur early, they'd be less harmful. But no! And as for the "100-year flood of fraud", get real Mr. Frank, fraud is inherent in humankind. As is gullibility and greed. You think the government can stop it with regulations, laws and the like? I have a Madoff fund to sell you. While there were certain valuable protections established during the Depression, much of the "New Deal" was damaging and extended the Depression. I'd guess the same will happen with the Obama administration and Democratic Congress continuing the haphazard mistakes of the Bush administration. Our leaders should be honest and tell us that life isn't fair, that recessions happen and are the price we pay for the growth and prosperity we all (or almost all) enjoy. This recession will extend much longer and our children and grandchildren will pay the price of this government "bailout" and inability to admit truths.

Friday, December 12, 2008

President Al

Well we didn't get Al Gore as president but it does look like maybe we got Al Capone. As of 9:25 am, Friday, December 12, 2008, there is absolutely no evidence that President-elect Barack H. Obama had anything to do with the widespread, generations-long corruption in Chicago and Illinois politics. He only saw Rod D. Blagojevich, Antoin Rezko, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. and Sr., Ali Ata, Joseph Cari, Stuart Levine, Christopher Kelly, Tom Balanoff and John Harris and let's throw in Richards Daley (M. and L.), Al Capone and Bugs Moran, in the neighborhood. Oh, former Senator Obama was only 6 when Al Capone was alive, or his grandmother was or someone was. I guess Ayers and Rev. Wright are out of this picture and neighborhood. Sorry guys. But David Alelrod and Rahm Emanuel are out walking there, too.

And I believe in Santa Claus who is in the same neighborhood with the Tooth Fairy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Letter to the Editor re: Farm Subsidies
Last updated November 24, 2008 8:48 p.m. PT

Millionaires reap farm payments; nobody checking incomes
Investigators say the problem will get worse

WASHINGTON -- A sports team owner, a financial firm executive and residents of Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia were among 2,702 millionaire recipients of farm payments from 2003 to 2006 -- and it's not even clear they were legitimate farmers, congressional investigators reported Monday.
They probably were ineligible, but the Agriculture Department can't confirm that, since officials never checked their incomes, the Government Accountability Office said.
The Agriculture Department cried foul: It said the investigators had access to Internal Revenue Service information on individuals that the department is not permitted to see.
John Johnson, deputy administrator in the department's Farm Service Agency, said officials there are in touch with the IRS to devise a system for including tax information in its sampling program to determine eligibility.
He added that 2,702 recipients cited by the GAO was a small percentage of the 1.8 million recipients of farm payments from 2003 through 2006.
The investigators said the problem will only get worse, because the payments they cited covered only the 2002 farm bill subsidies.
The 2008 farm legislation has provisions that could allow even more people to receive improper payments without effective checks, they said.
There are three main types of payments: direct subsidies based on a farmer's production history; countercyclical payments that kick in when prices are low and disappear when they recover; and a loan program that allows repayment in money or crops.
The 2002 farm bill required an income test for the first time.
An individual or farm entity was ineligible if average adjusted gross income exceeded $2.5 million over three years -- unless 75 percent or more of that income came from farming, ranching and forestry.
According to the report, the 2,702 recipients exceeded the $2.5 million and got less than 75 percent of their income from these activities.
The payments to them totaled more than $49 million.
"USDA has relied principally on individuals' one-time self-certifications that they do not exceed income eligibility caps, and their commitment that they will notify USDA of any changes that cause them to exceed these caps," the GAO said.
The report said Agriculture field offices have been able to request that recipients submit tax returns for review.
But the administrator in charge of the payment programs, Teresa Lasseter, told the GAO, "Requiring three years of tax returns initially from over 2 million program participants was not a viable option or cost-effective alternative."
The GAO said 78 percent of the recipients resided in or near a metropolitan area, while the remaining 22 percent resided in large towns, small towns and rural areas.
Further, the investigators said the Agriculture Department should have known that 87 of the 2,702 recipients were ineligible because it had noted in its own databases that they exceeded the income caps.
The GAO said it was prevented by law from identifying individuals cited in its report, but the investigators offered these examples of likely improper payments:
· A founder and former executive of an insurance company received more than $300,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 that should have been subject to the income limits.
· An individual with ownership interest in a professional sports franchise received more than $200,000 for those same years that should have been barred by the income limits.
· A person residing outside the United States received more than $80,000 for 2003, 2005 and 2006 on the basis of the individual's ownership interest in two farming entities.
· A top executive of a major financial services firm received more than $60,000 in farm program payments in 2003.
· A former executive of a technology company received about $20,000 in years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 that were covered by the income limits.
This individual also received more than $900,000 in farm program payments that were not subject to those limitations.
The investigators also found nine recipients resided outside the United States -- in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom, for example.
The remainder resided in 49 of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.
Five states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas -- accounted for 36 percent of the recipients and 43 percent of the $49.4 million in farm program payments.

(Letter to the Editor, By Theodore M. Wight, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 27, 2008 P. B7)

Democrats continue to reward farmers

Farmers, as a group, were one of the core targets for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's strategy to win election and re-election during his presidency beginning in the 1930s. Although about only 1 percent of the population, farmers continue to be rewarded by the Democratic Party in exchange for support and votes. Over the years, the various farm bills expand the reach of government throughout our economy, way beyond "farms." The bill passed in May 2008 contained 15 different titles and 600 provisions, up 50 percent from the Republican-controlled Congress in 2002.
The bill spends $286 billion of taxpayers' money through 2012. In today's bailout mania, I guess that's not so much. Every once in a while when there is space a newspaper will run a little "outrage" piece on parts of the bill, then will go silent for another four years. The only way to cure these outrages is to diminish the power of Democrats in Congress. Well, maybe in two years.

Theodore M. Wight

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Musings of an average Republican

Musings of an average Republican

Republicans need to concentrate on the next presidential election and the Congressional races in four years. (But they must careful not to give up any seats in the Senate in two years. Republicans must always keep the number 60 in view.) I think Republicans have that time. I believe Obama will be forced by his desire for re-election in 2012 to govern more in the center, or center-left, not the far left. Though this depends on his strength in standing up to the wildly left Congress and labor union leaders. If he wins in 2012 his deep-seated socialist, anti-business philosophies may well burst forth for him to establish his legacy. Until then, Republicans should be able to block through filibuster much of the overreaching demands on the new President, but need to do so with clear, simple messages. The brilliant political strategy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt sliced and diced the electorate into purchasable minority blocks has been the core of Democratic success over the past nearly 75 years: unions, farmers, elders, blacks, artists and writers (in the media as well as artistic), “intellectuals”, the poor and downtrodden. As FDR created his Democratic Party, it continued to oil new squeaky wheels. Anti-war, Abortion-advocates, homosexuals and other affinity groups were given what they demanded by the Democrats. And Democrats virtually created the trial lawyer industry. Obama used all of them brilliantly.

Democrats are at war with Republicans. Make no mistake. Democrats want power. They are using the lie of “Socialism” – equality for all – versus Capitalism – equal opportunity to all -- to gain and retain power. Democrats want to command how companies are run. Democrats want to control how we live our lives. If Democrats don’t get their way (California Proposition 8, or Seattle’s third runway are only two of thousands of examples) they throw tantrums and either demonstrate or sue, never accepting defeat. Republicans seem to accept defeat and go on. Of course many conservatives are building or managing companies, their first responsibility. Republicans are in a fight as critical to the survival of America as was the Civil War. Voters do not seem to understand this. The Republican Party has failed. Republican leaders do not seem to understand this. The Democratic Party has been engaged in a massive 75-year propaganda effort to discredit capitalism. Many Democrats work for government, quasi-government, or non-profit entities and can devote more time to politics.

I believe Obama won the presidency in 2008 with his charisma and The Big Lie (or, if he actually can perform, The Big Buy) that he’ll cut taxes for 95% of the country and years of press-brutalizing of President Bush. (Interestingly, some recent poll indicated only 17% of voters indentified Republicans with cutting taxes.) Of course Obama was aided by the October Surprise which turned out to be the melt down/bail out (“MDBO”) which shifted emphasis to the “economy” which for some reason Democrats were thought to be able to better manage than the Republicans. But the election – the Presidential Competition 2008 -- is over and Republicans lost. While the actual reasons may be elusive and debated for years, the Republicans lost. Going forward, Republicans need to, if not coordinate, at least unify on a message of pithy simplicity using powerful words that but based on clear ideas. Republicans must not blame. Yes, perhaps Obama was shilled by the media (incorrectly labeled the “popular” or “mainstream” media; Republicans should stop using these terms and substitute the more accurate Left-leaning or Far-left Media or even the Obama Info-media); yes, perhaps he had unsavory friends and promoters; yes, perhaps he voted as the Senate’s #1 liberal; but he won. Republicans must not blame, but must take a positive attitude, cheerily accepting that Obama won.

Our country is something like 35% “liberal”, 40% “conservative” and 25% “independent”. Depending on which polls one reads (some indicate liberals only 22%, conservatives 34% and 44% moderates, which is defferent than independent; varying definitions abound but all map out similarly) but a majority of Americans are center-right and believe that bigger government is not better government and cannot solve all our problems. Republicans must be honest and up front with what government can do and cannot do.

Republicans must get back to the basics. Wealth and jobs are created only by businesses. Successful businesses create products and services that consumers want to buy. Business thrives under markets allowing their founders and managers the freedom to create things and get rich doing so. Businesses succeed or fail for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that consumers don’t want their products or services. Some go out of business, creating disruptions for workers and customers. But typically the disruption is short, workers go to other companies which produce things someone wants to buy. This is the up and down of the business cycle. While “Wall Street” is being blamed for the meltdown (and deregulation) by the Left-leaning Media and Democrats, part of the problem that even Republicans (including Senator McCain) express their belief that Wall Street is like a gambling casino. There is no understanding of its core utility in capital raising. “Wall Street” has financed America since 1792 with the founding of a predecessor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Market- and business-cycles can never be prevented because they emanate from innovation, coupled with opportunity, then success and sometimes greed follows success ending in short-term collapse; all of these are the heart of America having become the greatest economic force in history and the freest nation ever invented. The natural human emotions of greed and fear cannot be squelched, only understood, usually after the fact. Governments cannot prohibit these human emotions, only restrain them by blocking opportunity for people to better themselves. It was against these continuing static classed societies (and religious persecution) that America was founded. It was founded on freedom; to take freedom from loss away is to take freedom of action away. At the very core of this freedom, and America’s success, is the entrepreneur. While today some entrepreneurs are celebrated -- Bill Gates comes to mind -- it is not about the businesses he created, but what “good” is done with the personal wealth created. What needs to be understood and admired in this country is the business – businesses – created. Microsoft changed the world of computing and humanity itself by standardizing software. It created thousands of support and peripheral companies, hundreds of thousands of jobs and countless millionaires and otherwise “rich” people from all walks of life. It also encouraged efficiency, communication and knowledge. Republicans need to personalize the “rich” who have created these jobs, wealth and improved lives. Liberals personalize victims. Republicans need to counter by unabashedly personalizing and praising accomplishment. It should outline and describe the number of people positively impacted by such accomplishment. Today, the face of business is primarily the over-sized compensation of some top executives. [An aside: much of this money was gained from incentive stock options. The widespread use of such options came from a law signed by President Clinton which disallowed companies from expensing executive compensation for earners of over $1 million, so directors substituted incentive stock options and the rising stock market caused options to become absurdly valuable. It is an unintended consequence of a Democratic Party-passed law. Sort of like the Alternative Minimum Tax to hit something like 50 taxpayers which has impacted millions. And to put executive and employee comp in perspective, General Electric has over 300,000 employees. If $100,000,000 were taken out of executive compensation it would only give a $28 monthly raise to each employee.] There is no mention of jobs, wealth created, product innovation, price decreases, increases in standards of living, or extensions of life itself. There seems to be no desire to understand or communicate how truly difficult it is to manage a large company. And, of course, the Left-leaning Media promotes the unfairness of the “stagnation” of middle-class compensation (as if ever-increasing pay is guaranteed in America.) It is against their message to explain the vastly more important concept of “standard of living” which includes what people can actually buy with their dollars earned. The standard of living in the United States has continued upward for decades, but is difficult to measure. Consider the continuing price decreases and increasing utility of computers, cellular phones, the Internet and flat-screen televisions, Blackberrys, global positioning systems, for a few examples. But there is rarely any counterbalancing argument about “income equality” from Republicans.

Republicans must begin to offset the Left’s negative attitude toward “business” which has become pretty mainstream. Where is the proud announcement that union-leader-hated Wal-Mart added over 30,000 employees to nearly 1.5 million, during 2008? The citizenry must be informed. 3.+

Americans in their core do not like to lose. The next step after improving the image of “business”, Republicans must unleash – then own -- the competitive spirit of Americans. We are in direct business competition with foreign countries not just among ourselves. China and India for example, but also England, France, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and on and on. Global competition is here to stay – nothing can wind it back. The world’s financial meltdown will accentuate globalism as countries get together to collectively solve economic issues. We as Team/USA must decide to win or lose. Of course,”to win” means continuing to create wealth and better standards of living to struggling peoples all over the world. It is what competition in the free enterprise system has done for the world for over a century. Americans want not to just compete, but to win. To do so means supporting business in America. We need to think how to surge forward, not cut back into ourselves. Republicans need to shout out how “business” not government has created our wealth. Government’s role should be to support business. While the “trickle-down” theory has been discredited by liberals, another snappy term needs to be coined and repeated, over and over. Obama’s Big Lie of cutting taxes for 95% of America was repeated thousands of times and helped win the day for him. Republicans need to repetitively repeat how wealth is only created by business which creates the lasting, productive jobs government cannot create.

What then are the biggest impediments to the support of business and to the success of business itself in the United States? Unions. To gain and retain their selfish pursuit of power, union leaders cast business as negative and unions as positive. Yet, nowhere in the recent Presidential Competition was there anything about unions. Are Republicans afraid of union leaders’ power? What is there to be afraid of? They overwhelmingly support and finance Democrats. And although not necessarily following their leaders’ political leanings, private sector workers who belong to unions are only a small minority of the private work force anyway. Seven-and-a-half percent. The number is twelve percent of government workers. What’s to fear? Yet the leaders of this minority of population pretty much control the Democratic Party. Republicans need to publicize this disparity of power in the hands of a small number of power-hungry union officials. Republicans need to hammer on the fact that unions are not even needed for the workers anymore. The liberal media will holler. But look at what union leaders’ demands have done for what’s left of the airline, steel, and automobile industries. “Follow the money” (as Deep Throat famously said in “All the President’s Men”) and the money flows from union members’ dues to the Democratic Party with union leaders as paymasters. Republicans need to paint union leaders as the self-serving power brokers they are. Young voters under 30 voted two-thirds for Obama, putting him over the top, yet they are the generation wanting freedom of choice. Union leaders try to curtail workers’ freedom and this must be communicated. [And speaking of the young: the Democratic Congress is engaged in internecine warfare among their geriatrics. Henry Waxman, age 69, is challenging 82-year-old John Dingell for chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Recently Dingell called Waxman "an anti-manufacturing, left-wing Democrat" on a Detroit radio station. Is this the “politics as usual” that Obama is against? No doubt it's politics as usual, not change, but I don’t see much written about it in the Left Info-media, or by Republicans for that matter.] But back to the unions. Republicans, business and perhaps the Chamber of Commerce need to develop a future strategy which embraces workers explicitly. Give workers – “labor” – a voice the union leaders don’t really give them. Team/USA is competing with the world and to win it must be a team that includes management and labor working together to support business. “Business” must be more all-encompassing and include “labor” as a partner. It can be done. In order for America to win, Republicans must win.

Impediments to business (Part 2): class action trial lawyers (“CATL”). Their typically-unpublicized riches come directly from the consumer through price increases with business as collector and paymaster. It is not widely known that only a tiny amount of each settlement ends up in the hands of a single “victim” (as defined by trial lawyers and their paid, so-called experts) while the winning lawyers buy yachts and jets. I didn’t hear McCain or Palin discussing this “tax” on consumers which, certainly in the case of the tobacco settlement, is highly regressive and damaging to consumers and business.

Businesses, and for that matter individuals too, need stability to operate. Stability in the dollar, which the Bush Administration opposed, needs to become a beacon of the Republican Party. In an increasingly international world currencies need predictability.

I have noticed that Congress seems to be changing the rules continually. It is impossible to plan for the future if one doesn’t understand what the law will be. Part of the “rule of law” must be to have laws that aren’t changed on a whim or headline.

To succeed takes leaders. What about Republican leaders? Here is a most critical single factor to success in anything. Think about the “Front Man (or woman)” of a rock band. (S)he delivers the message and the band together creates the music behind it with producers, writers, and other support people. It wasn’t so much the Democratic Platform which won the 2008 Presidential Competition, but Obama as a young, charismatic Front Man with a disc jockey voice, tall, lean and handsome. He won votes with his charisma coupled with the “tax cut for 95% of Americans” (“The Big Lie”) labeled “change”. Compare Obama’s charisma to President Bush’s or Senator McCain’s. Or don’t. Republicans need to vet – now – its future potential leaders for the “coolness factor” if they want to win. Its next candidates need to stand tall, be proud, positive, and Paul Newman-like (in Cool Hand Luke.) (S)he needs to command respect and be statesmanlike. Gov. Palin was unable to gain that respect. Whether from the incessant and unfair bashing by the Obama Info-media or her own presentation, it doesn’t really matter, she lost. If she’s to remain on the national scene she needs coaching. The Republicans Party must forget democracy when selecting potential leaders. It must select a handful now and watch, guide and support them, like the up-and-comers in a corporation. Republican, Inc. If Republicans are the “party of business” why doesn’t it act like it? Whenever President Bush spoke, I cringed. I found him an uninspiring, mumbling speaker who wasn’t always able to stay on message. Obama however is the opposite. We live in a world of image. Many Obama voters did not know, did not care, about his programs or stands, they simply wanted the man. On television the other night there were a smattering of “comedians” shown whom to a person said they were unable to impersonate or make fun of Obama because he was “cool”. The complete opposite of McCain. Truth certainly can be trumped by image. Obama won in Florida, Arizona and California yet in each state voters supported, for example, eliminating gay marriage, to which he was opposed. The image and issue diverged.

But along with image must come preparedness. Democrats are a formidable enemy who want at any cost to anyone to win. They have formidable allies: paymasters, brainwashers, and foot soldiers. Clearly, Obama led a well-prepared, highly-effective campaign. Obama recruited four million donors and two or three times that to doorknock, phonebank, rally and, of course, vote. His ground game was based on a sophisticated data gathering capability and state of the art computing and Internet use which apparently contains upwards of ten million names with demographic information. His effective grass-roots game may have gotten its foundation from Obama’s early community experience with ACORN. It increased Democratic turnout 2.6% over 2004 (Republicans lost 1.3%). But while Obama’s machine was well-oiled, it was his image that simply swept away the emotions of many.

Republicans need to get off defense, define the playing field and plot offense; it needs leaders like Vince Lombardi with a ”fire in the belly” to win; winning must be life for future Republican candidates. But Republicans must strive for quality on the high road, because the road of the Republicans is the high road. It wants better standards of living for humanity, freedom of thought and action, the pursuit of happiness and equal opportunity, not outcome. These core beliefs must be clearly communicated and the banner carried by a winner. The Republicans’ main “special interest group” is “business”: the creator of jobs, wealth, a higher standard of living, and the entity from which all government funds come. Why doesn’t the public understand this?

Republicans faced hugely-negative headwinds from President Bush and his Congress and McCain did OK, but lost with an undisciplined campaign and little charisma. He could have successfully run against the corrupt Congress (approval rating – zilch), I think that bodes well for the core of Republican beliefs, but not for what it presented.

If a corporation is the metaphor, Republican, Inc.’s potential voters are its customers. And like all customers, they want to gain satisfaction from their “purchase” – their vote. They want to be both excited and comforted. I believe Americans inherently are positive not negative. The continuing message from the Left is negative. “The Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans”; “The rich get richer”. “The middle class is stagnating”. “Executives are corrupt, paid too much and do little”. “Deregulation caused the MDBO”. “The free enterprise system doesn’t work, vote for government”. Voters – the customers – don’t want these messages of denigration and negativity. Yet, Republicans only respond to the Democratic messages, they don’t create their own positive statements. Reagan won by communicating positives. Voters want to feel good about programs and trust their leaders to execute as they promised. Voters feel good – even giddy -- about Obama. And here Republicans need to go on the offensive. Voters as a whole expect much from Obama, not necessarily concrete specifics, and his implicit promises. Each voter will define Obama’s “change” as (s)he sees it. Such fuzzy expectations are impossible to fulfill. (Seventy per cent of voters believe race relations will automatically improve.) “Obama”, the image in which they believe, not the person, may backfire with disappointment and Republicans need to be there to commiserate with the voters, expressing disappointment, and feel sad not glad. Republicans need to be bipartisan and voice support, encouragement and hope for Obama, the image. Sex sells and Obama sold it. Republicans need to verify that it was a good choice voters made and that when he fails to deliver on his promises, it is Obama’s failure, not the voters’. Disappointment will run deep. Republicans can help boost expectations by promoting Obama’s promises, celebrating them and hoping he will make them come true. Democrats will attempt to blame Republicans for the abandonment of “Pay Go’, a higher deficit, the recession and Obama’s inability to deliver. Republicans must be ready and prepared with effective responses or begin an offense to undercut the Democrats’ excuses.

After 9-11, President Bush held the esteem of the country. After the war wasn’t immediately “won”, his approval began a downward run. How did that happen? Was it pushed by the Far-left Media, the New York Times, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN? Exactly how was that successful debasement of Bush accomplished? Republicans need to study the power, reach and messaging of the media and develop strategies and objectives for its messaging. Apparently Fox News and the Wall Street Journal aren’t sufficiently partisan; they seem to think people need fair, balanced and accurate “news”. Perhaps Republicans should study whether the Obama Info-media orchestrated the Clinton failure and McCain candidacy. More people read the Wall Street Journal than the New York Times; more people watch Fox News, but it seems the Left-leaning media establishes the playing field. A number of issues – real or propaganda – led to the Republican demise in Congress in 2004, 2006 and again in 2008. To simplify: the war, the deficit and "corruption". Each issue seemed framed and presented by the Far-left Media and hammered into the consciousness of the American people. Republicans did not fight back. Yes, the initial execution of the war was not effective; no, the deficit was not Republican-abirthed; no, Republicans do not have a monopoly of corruption or “morals” issues. But Bush was bashed badly and continually for 6 years. Why? The “why” should be understood, but not copied. And at least one writer suggested that the New York Times positioned McCain to be the Republican nominee and then pulled the rug from under him. While Republicans believe that foreign dictators should not be trusted and believed, they seem to trust and believe in the Democratic Party that wants to take down Republican America. Bush and his Republican Congress expanded government and entitlement programs and other than cutting taxes for the rich, did little one could define as “conservative”, and for what reason, I cannot fathom.

Some other truths. Republicans must ask African Americans, "Just what have the Democrats really done for you?" The answer, in my opinion, is to keep you down for three generations. Union-staffed inner city schools, the vast majority of the student body of which are minorities. Graduation rates hover around 50% against upwards of 75% for whites and more for Asians. What have the Democratic-backed unions done for African Americans? Crime? Something like half the prison population is African American and young. What have liberal judges done for African Americans? "Illegitimate" (unmarried) pregnancies? Abortion? Fatherless families? All are far higher for African Americans than other populations. The Democrats have been in charge of Congress for most of the last 50 years. They have taxed Americans to feed a Democrat-voting civil rights bureaucracy ("CRB" or "CRIB") in the government that has been less than useless to African Americans. In fact, I argue that the CRB has and has had huge incentives to keep the African American population down. That way they can have funded all flavors of liberal activities which need management and workers. More power for CRIB's management and leaders. Much of these liberal activities consist of pounding the message in to African American psyches that they cannot get ahead because of slavery a century ago and discrimination by whites. Think what would happen if African Americans told the Jesse Jacksons/Al Sharptons of the CRB, "Get lost, we can start companies, create wealth and jobs all by ourselves, we are as smart and enterpreneural as anyone"? All of a sudden, the CRIBs wouldn't have anything to do and as it folded, so would fold a strong and loyal Democratic bloc. Democrats can't allow that to occur. But are Republicans afraid of the Left Info-media's response? Would Republicans rather be liked by liberals than control the politics of our country and steer it where it ought to go? Seems so. Does anyone in rationally thinking about the issue, really think the Democratic Party has helped the African Americans gain independence and self-respect? If not tell the voters!

Republican incompetence gave away the Hispanic vote. “Immigration” hammered Republicans this year. Hispanics voted 44% for Bush but left the Republican Party, voting only 33% for McCain. Some argue it was the Republican stand, others poor communication. No doubt immigration will continue as people want to come to America, but it can certainly better managed. The successful disposition of “illegal” immigrants is a core issue in America. Republicans have done a poor job of dealing with it and communicating. Hispanics are a growing percentage of the population with many values in synch with Republicans. They need to be given a voice in the Republican Party.

While expressing freedom in markets, Republicans seem to want to also control personal social issues. I will discuss below. But Republicans should concentrate on business, jobs and a free economy. The umbrella of successful free-enterprise can allow special interests to pursue their goals under it. Choice and right-to-life; gay marriage; campaign financing; [drugs; crime; welfare; ?] Will it lose some Republicans? Yes. But notice Democrat African Americans, Hispanics, coupled with the Mormons and the “religious right’ to vote down the right for gays to marry in California, Arizona and Florida. Republicans need to concentrate and focus on creating a free, wealthy, inclusive and opportunistic economy under which these special and affinity groups can operate.

Republicans should be silent on abortion. It does not belong in today’s world as a campaign issue. Most of the country believes in a woman’s right to choose to have or not an abortion. This belief can’t be rolled back. Republicans should leave personal social issues alone not for political purposes but to support individual freedom.. Certainly Republicans can promote education for women so they don’t have to make a choice. It can promote easy, safe adoption. But leave personal social issues alone. Gay marriage is another personal social issue. It, as abortion, is in the province of religion and one’s beliefs. Government should not interfere. Individuals are becoming independent of party.

Republicans should promote real campaign finance reform but opening it up to individuals but making it transparent where an Obama cannot hide from where his millions came. Prohibit coercion by monopolies such as labor unions. Let the leaders spend their own money not union dues, the same for corporate leaders, but not corporations, and lobbyist organizations. There should be “whistle-blower” laws about campaign contributions.

The Democratic Party has split the citizenry into affinity groups – which can be obnoxiously loud and throw tantrums when their way is thwarted by such things as a majority of the voters -- financed by the rich to gain its power. Republicans must get to the rest, the quiet center offering: economic freedom, with true “safety nets” such as the FDIC for those who really can’t make it., not vote-getting welfare. Republicans must make being responsible cool, fight earmarks and corruption in Congress and Washington DC, and let those in the silent majority that they have been taken for saps. It can win by offering opportunity not guarantees; freedom not control; low, not burdensome taxes; effective, honest government; It can stress honesty and fair play.

More to come

Thursday, November 6, 2008


We Americans have elected an African American as President of the United States of America. Or African-American. It is a momentous, monumental day. One certainly for the history books. But wait! (I love this term as used in infomercials for an extra deal coming up.) President-elect Obama will have to navigate waters with no navigational experience. He needs to hire thousands of people, or to hire 50 or 100 who will be capable of hiring thousands. He has no experience in hiring. But in his first management role, as leader of his campaign, he hired David Plouffe as campaign manager and David Axelrod as campaign strategist, he performed brilliantly as did they. It was an almost-perfect campaign and accomplished the endgame. An excellent start.

But his choice of cabinet heads, staff and others will highlight the quality of his presidency and whether or not his campaign of "Change" was only rhetoric for the election or whether he will truly govern with bi-partisan excellence and for America as a whole. Stand against him are myriad phalanx of strong forces. Those who paid for his election. Labor union leaders; trial lawyers; environmentalists; ACLU-ists; farmers; blacks and other minorities: racial, sexual and otherwise; Move-on.orgiests; government-dictated healthcare advocates; Bush-, Republican- and free-market-haters; and anti-strong-militarists. This is a rotten stew of agents who only want to change everything America stands for: rational, free-market capitalism. Each will be wanting a payoff. Each will continue to fight tooth and nail for what they selfishly desire. Check California's Proposition 8 to roll back legal gay marriage by changing its constitution to define "marriage" as only between a man and a woman (one each, I imagine.) The electorate has spoken. Not. The usual special-interests, here the American Civil Liberties Union, Lamda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, joined by the San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, filed a writ petition with the California Supreme Court to invalidate vote of the people. And will it be that way with each special interest during Obama's presidency? Will they fight, sue, opine, buy news reports, claw, sue, sue and sue again, anything to get their way? If history is a guide, yes. That bodes ill for a President Obama.

And the populace -- the voters -- is expecting no more rancor. Calm. A smooth transition. Easier lives with incomes increasing from benign labor unions, business atrocities abated, the stock market rising and gas prices declining. And presto! 100% graduation rates for African-Americans, free healthcare, less crime, no racial bigotry. And opportunity -- or equality? -- for all.

And finally, Congress. The number of Democrats in Congress was increased. It will be touted as a mandate to satisfy all the pent-up demand for government to do everything, while paying for it on the backs of the "rich". All the above and more. Infrastructure, high-paying jobs, easy home loans (again), lower credit card interest rates, government-financed healthcare for all (except the "rich"), a solvent Social Security and real retirement security for the AARP-derly (that's elderly)(except the "rich"), the deficit, such a vice while Republicans were creating it (and Clinton was president), will become a FDR-type virtue. The unique characters of Congress, Nancy Pelosi (shrill San Franciscan Liberal), Harry Reid (strong hand in Senate) , David Obey (Appropriations and military dove); John Conyers (House Judiciary who wants trials of all Bushies and slavery reparations); Barney Frank (Chair of Fannie Mae and demanding a 25% cut in military spending), Christopher Dodd (the other Chair of Fannie Mae); George Miller (House Education and Labor who is looking to tax 401(k)s and generally nationalize private pensions); Charles Rangel, of hiding-income-from-taxes-because-I-forgot-I-owned-the-Dominican-Republic-rental-house-fame (and who wants to bring back the draft); Chuck Schumer; Pete Stark (who thinks all profits in healthcare are corrupt, being head of a key Health subcommittee in the House. Single-payor Canadian healthcare anyone?); Henry Waxman (scandal monger extraordinaire looking to elbow out moderate Democrat John Dingell, as Chair in Energy and Commerce plus steep energy taxes to combat global warming) among a cast of hundreds will by vying for opportunity, for power. And isn't this what the election all about? Power. Campaigned into the hands of the far-Left to the detriment of free-markets and self-control and self-responsibility and achievement. And he won with the Big Lie: "tax cuts for 95% of Americans" to create jobs from the bottom up. Jobs can't be built from giving the "middle class" a little extra to spend.

Good luck President Obama, and I truly mean that. I want you and our country to succeed.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Review and Outlook (The Wall Street Journal)

OCTOBER 17, 2008 - Wall Street Journal. Page A12.
A Liberal Supermajority
Get ready for 'change' we haven't seen since 1965, or 1933.

If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on.
The nearby table shows the major bills that passed the House this year or last before being stopped by the Senate minority. Keep in mind that the most important power of the filibuster is to shape legislation, not merely to block it. The threat of 41 committed Senators can cause the House to modify its desires even before legislation comes to a vote. Without that restraining power, all of the following have very good chances of becoming law in 2009 or 2010.

- Medicare for all. When HillaryCare cratered in 1994, the Democrats concluded they had overreached, so they carved up the old agenda into smaller incremental steps, such as Schip for children. A strongly Democratic Congress is now likely to lay the final flagstones on the path to government-run health insurance from cradle to grave.
Mr. Obama wants to build a public insurance program, modeled after Medicare and open to everyone of any income. According to the Lewin Group, the gold standard of health policy analysis, the Obama plan would shift between 32 million and 52 million from private coverage to the huge new entitlement. Like Medicare or the Canadian system, this would never be repealed.
The commitments would start slow, so as not to cause immediate alarm. But as U.S. health-care spending flowed into the default government options, taxes would have to rise or services would be rationed, or both. Single payer is the inevitable next step, as Mr. Obama has already said is his ultimate ideal.

- The business climate. "We have some harsh decisions to make," Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned recently, speaking about retribution for the financial panic. Look for a replay of the Pecora hearings of the 1930s, with Henry Waxman, John Conyers and Ed Markey sponsoring ritual hangings to further their agenda to control more of the private economy. The financial industry will get an overhaul in any case, but telecom, biotech and drug makers, among many others, can expect to be investigated and face new, more onerous rules. See the "Issues and Legislation" tab on Mr. Waxman's Web site for a not-so-brief target list.
The danger is that Democrats could cause the economic downturn to last longer than it otherwise will by enacting regulatory overkill like Sarbanes-Oxley. Something more punitive is likely as well, for instance a windfall profits tax on oil, and maybe other industries.

- Union supremacy. One program certain to be given right of way is "card check." Unions have been in decline for decades, now claiming only 7.4% of the private-sector work force, so Big Labor wants to trash the secret-ballot elections that have been in place since the 1930s. The "Employee Free Choice Act" would convert workplaces into union shops merely by gathering signatures from a majority of employees, which means organizers could strongarm those who opposed such a petition.
The bill also imposes a compulsory arbitration regime that results in an automatic two-year union "contract" after 130 days of failed negotiation. The point is to force businesses to recognize a union whether the workers support it or not. This would be the biggest pro-union shift in the balance of labor-management power since the Wagner Act of 1935.

- Taxes. Taxes will rise substantially, the only question being how high. Mr. Obama would raise the top income, dividend and capital-gains rates for "the rich," substantially increasing the cost of new investment in the U.S. More radically, he wants to lift or eliminate the cap on income subject to payroll taxes that fund Medicare and Social Security. This would convert what was meant to be a pension insurance program into an overt income redistribution program. It would also impose a probably unrepealable increase in marginal tax rates, and a permanent shift upward in the federal tax share of GDP.

- The green revolution. A tax-and-regulation scheme in the name of climate change is a top left-wing priority. Cap and trade would hand Congress trillions of dollars in new spending from the auction of carbon credits, which it would use to pick winners and losers in the energy business and across the economy. Huge chunks of GDP and millions of jobs would be at the mercy of Congress and a vast new global-warming bureaucracy. Without the GOP votes to help stage a filibuster, Senators from carbon-intensive states would have less ability to temper coastal liberals who answer to the green elites.

- Free speech and voting rights. A liberal supermajority would move quickly to impose procedural advantages that could cement Democratic rule for years to come. One early effort would be national, election-day voter registration. This is a long-time goal of Acorn and others on the "community organizer" left and would make it far easier to stack the voter rolls. The District of Columbia would also get votes in Congress -- Democratic, naturally.
Felons may also get the right to vote nationwide, while the Fairness Doctrine is likely to be reimposed either by Congress or the Obama FCC. A major goal of the supermajority left would be to shut down talk radio and other voices of political opposition.

- Special-interest potpourri. Look for the watering down of No Child Left Behind testing standards, as a favor to the National Education Association. The tort bar's ship would also come in, including limits on arbitration to settle disputes and watering down the 1995 law limiting strike suits. New causes of legal action would be sprinkled throughout most legislation. The anti-antiterror lobby would be rewarded with the end of Guantanamo and military commissions, which probably means trying terrorists in civilian courts. Google and would get "net neutrality" rules, subjecting the Internet to intrusive regulation for the first time.

It's always possible that events -- such as a recession -- would temper some of these ambitions. Republicans also feared the worst in 1993 when Democrats ran the entire government, but it didn't turn out that way. On the other hand, Bob Dole then had 43 GOP Senators to support a filibuster, and the entire Democratic Party has since moved sharply to the left. Mr. Obama's agenda is far more liberal than Bill Clinton's was in 1992, and the Southern Democrats who killed Al Gore's BTU tax and modified liberal ambitions are long gone.
In both 1933 and 1965, liberal majorities imposed vast expansions of government that have never been repealed, and the current financial panic may give today's left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for "change" should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.


Medicare for All

The Business Climate

Union Supremacy


The Green revelotion

Free Speech and Voting Rights

Special Interest Potpouri

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Capitalist Manifesto


"A Capitalist Manifesto" by Judy Shelton (Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2008, P. A19) is informative but irrelevant. In my view, the free-enterprise, capitalistic experiment of the United States of America, the most successfully-economic and free society in history, has been under relentless siege since the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Today, we face one branch of our government being controlled by anti-free-market-capitalism forces, with even more substantial control being a reality in the upcoming election. A second branch, the Administrative, is poised to be captured by Barack Obama, who I believe has little understanding or appreciation for free enterprise. (And as the alleged voter-fraud activities of ACORN reflect, perhaps a lack of desire for free democracy itself.) With those two corners of our political system lost by free enterprise advocates, the third part of the triangle, Judiciary, can also be turned by the retirement of a couple of the present justices, some of whom are elderly, assuming Sen. Obama becomes president.
In order to have "A Capitalist Manifesto" meaningful, leaders must embrace its precepts. I don't believe that is the case with the Democratic Congress nor Barack Obama. To us businesspeople, Ms. Shelton makes clear and complete sense, but we believe that the success of the free-enterprise system has brought economic and political freedom to more people in this world than any other system invented by mankind to date. To those who believe that the only way for humanity to better itself is through a centralized decision-making bureaucracy, everything Ms. Shelton writes is misguided and wrong. This Congress micromanages the economy and the businesses within it to a degree never before experienced in the U. S. From sending dollars to the (ill-fated) ethanol "industry" to attempting to regulate credit card interest rates Congress deeply meddles. Not that President Bush pushed back! It is getting worse and we haven't seen anything yet: union "card-check", trade restrictions, vengeful and constant investigations of business executives, further limits on their compensation may all be on the way, not to mention the little daily intrusions.
Ms. Shelton and conservatives and Republicans everywhere must realize that as with dealing with foreign countries, many (most?) Democrats believe in and are talking a tongue foreign to free-market capitalism. One could argue that they -- in their own way -- simply want what's best for the most citizens. I argue that it's about power, and the method of gaining power over free-market advocates. In any event, they are opposed to the concepts of free enterprise. I think many (most?) American citizens don't truly understand "business", that it has created all the wealth we have, by that afore-mentioned free enterprise. At the very start, one entrepreneur had an idea to, for example, make something from some things and sell it at a price his customers were willing to pay. He had some extra money -- "profit" -- that way. And he kept doing it. From this acorn (maybe the wrong word) was created the greatest economic and social society in the world. But how many people think of "business" negatively, as a taker or oppressor rather than an creator? The popular media certainly continually and relentlessly reinforces that negative concept, as do the major financial sources of Democrats: trade union leaders and trial lawyers. Do they all really want what's best for all? (Well, almost all, certainly not the "rich".) Or do they just want power?
In any event, they have the power here in the U. S. now and may well hold it and build on it. They have spent decades in fits and starts gaining it While entrepreneurs and businesspeople were building companies and creating jobs, the Left was, if not in a coordinated effort, certainly in a unified one, putting everything in place, from union teachers and leftish professors to indoctrinate the youth, to the billions won from companies by trial lawyers with the skids greased by liberal judges, justices and lawyers which financed more liberal government. "Popular" media certainly has a left-wing bent which has certainly shown its ugly head this election season more than ever before. And with the painting of deficit spenders and corruption on the 2004 Congress, liberals took initial power. Obama may solidify it. Then comes the Supreme Court. "Le laissez-faire, c'est fini." oui!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Today, October 7, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 508.39, another 5%. It ended 9447.11. What? The Bailout isn't working in investors eyes? Duh. It wasn't a bailout anyway it was a porkout. Obama is creeping up in the polls and tonight is the second and second to last debate between Obama and McCain. It is McCain's last chance.

As I wrote to myself just after last Thursday's only debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin:

Gov. Palin should have...but now Sen. McCain must go after Obama.

“Sen. Obama you are the problem. You and Sen. Biden are Democratic senators, him for 35 years. Do you know how many pages the Medicare regulations are? Nearly 150,000 pages of believing doctors, nurses, therapists and administrators are crooks. That is why healthcare is so expensive and unattainable for many. And Democrat mandates -- such as parity of mental and physical health slipped into a bailout bill. What does that bailout? It increases costs for all of us...well not us, we are politicians and different. McCain/Palin is for slashing regulations and allowing doctors, nurses and therapists to make the decisions they were trained for. We trust them! McCain/Palin believes in the free enterprise system is all its imperfections it is the best system ever invented. Senator, business creates jobs...8 million in the last 8 years, although it's slipping now. Government income has skyrocketed since the 2004 (?) tax cuts. Business creates jobs, government does not. Business creates wealth for us all, government does not. And it isn't government, it isn't regulation that saves us from the present crisis, it's the people. But government doesn't listen to the people enough, it's busily re-engineering society, as you are wanting to do with income taxes. Senator, that does not work...Senator, that has never worked for the benefit of anyone except politicians like yourself.

"Now. Senator, is it true that you plan to nationalize all banks?

"Now, Senator, is it true that you’ll launch a witch-hunt against all banking executives and officers of financial institutions if you become president? Accompanied by class-action lawsuits launched by your major backers?

"Now, Senator, do you believe profits of big companies are good?

"McCain/Palin is for the jobs that have created the best society known to humanity. We support the businesses that create the jobs."

If McCain doesn't emerge the perceived "winner" tonoght, I believe the market will crash again tomorrow.

Update October 1, 2008: He didn't. Headline in the Wall Street Journal today, "Wild Day Caps Worst Day Ever for Stocks". “Dow Jones Industrials Lost 18% in Their Worst Week Ever” (P. B3 Wall Street Journal). 22% in the eight days after the debate. Friday's close the 10th was 10,325.38 a week later it was 8451.19, with the close capping the most volatile day in the Dow's 112 year history, swinging 1,000 points. During the week, Wells Fargo Banktook over Wachovia, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country, literally snapping it out of the hands of Citigroup’s deal, which involved a federal backstop after Citi would have taken something like $50 billion of losses in Wachovia’s portfolio and the U. S. taxpayer the rest. Wells’ deal involves no federal risk. And mighty Morgan Stanley negotiated last week a deal from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial for $9 billion for a 21% stake, valuing Morgan at nearly $43 billon; however its market value at the close Friday, October 10 was only $10.3 billion. Perhaps one of the greatest buying opportunities in my lifetime (unless it's like Washington Mutual’s $7 billion infusion from a group of private equity investors last March or so which is worth zero now.) On Friday the Dow had a 1,000 -- 11% -- swing from hitting a high of 8,901.28, a low of 7,882.51 and closing down 128 points, off 1.5% to 8,451.19. The commercial paper market which earlier in the week seemed frozen was operating some again, with GE using the market with no problem. General Motors at 4.89 was up from Thursday’s close which was the lowest GM has traded since 1950, off 46% for the week. Ford did little better.

I believe much of this is the Obamacrash. Not only from the absolute cerainty that Obama will raise income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and allow Bush's tax cuts to expire -- raiding taxes by a trillion dollars more or less. Certainly the general worldwide market and loan meltdown is the cover and cause of some of the declines, but Obama's upturn in the polls is a significant cause also.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Sting


The Sting: The U. S. House of Representatives "supporting" President Bush's bill proposal by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson with relatively minor changes. I believe Speaker Mrs. Pelosi orchestrated its failure to pass, by keeping enough Democrats voting against it. But certainly there was an outpouring of desire to reject the bill by Americans. The House's rejection caused the little crash -- 777 points, in the stock market which immediatley struck fear in Americans reinforced by the Leftish "popular" media coupled with the conservative talk show hosts. In this environment of fear and panic, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the "saving" Senate Bill of "Rescue" (not a "Bailout" which was identified as an unpopular term.) It was full of billions of dollars from the Democratic wish list -- "pork" -- (which a week before could not have passed the House and would have been vetoed by Bush). For a full discussion of the bill, see my blog, "Who's to Blame, Part II. The Senate passed it, with a full-on press from the Liberal Press, and frightened and naive Republicans; Then the Senate skipped town, forcing the House to pass it or...or...or else (the threat of a another, bigger crash in the stock market); so even most Blue Dog (conservative) Democrats and many conservative Republicans went against their conservative beliefs and voted for it in the face of such manufactured pressure. It was a brilliant feint by Pelosi with an effective ambush by Reid: Republicans and conservatives, as usual, didn't know what hit them. And the stock market fell, anyway, Tomorrow I think it could crash, but one might wait until after Election Day.

What do we have? The worst day in U. S. History. I believe history will show that October 3, 2008, was worse than Black Friday (the '29 crash), Pearl Harbor Day, and 911. It will be the end of America as it was conceived and built.

We might just have put 1/2-Trillion dollars in the hands of a junior senator from Illinois with socialist tendencies and a demonstrably-corrupt Democratic-led Congress many members of which caused the "crisis". As a free-market, democratic society our time might be over.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Who's to blame, Part III

The Democrats, especially Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer; all politicians; greedy Americans; greedy financial corporations.

Who's to blame, Part II

Let's see. Today America is facing a "financial crisis" -- The U. S. House of Representatives rejected a bill earlier in the week to "Bailout" whomever. Some say Wall Street, some say the U. S. Economy. President Bush and his ex-Goldman, Sachs Treasury Secretary developed and promoted the $700,000,000,000 use of taxpayers' money to purchase "toxic" assets from U. S. banks. Then it went to The Democratic Congress to be put into a bill ("The Economic Stabilization Act of 2008"). The Democrats added their own biases: caps on executives' pay packages when their institutions are helped; adding foreign financial institutions; adding pension funds and "other" financial institutions; giving some money to the Democrats' favorite slush funds like ACORN; establishment of strict oversight, including Congress; giving the government rights to purchase equity in the assisted financial companies so as to return somthing to the taxpayers; and so on. House Republicans jumped in and made some changes, such as eliminating the payola to ACORN. Upon publicity, the public overwhelmingly rose up against the bailout. 100 - 1 in many communications with politicians. It was subsequently defeated, in part by wary Republicans (65 for, about one-third vs. 60%, 140, Democrats for), but also Democrats who were apparently told by House Leader Nancy Pelosi that they could vote against it to protect their reelection campaigns. Democrats could have passed it all on their own but were apparently politically afraid to. Wisely it turned out. The stock market plunged 700+ points Monday. There was blaming all over the place, especially including "deregulation" started by Reagan and abetted by Bush.

So for fun, who IS to blame? I believe, mostly Democrats who began (courtesy Wikipedia:) "The Community Reinvestment Act (or CRA, Pub.L. 95-128, title VIII, 91 Stat. 1147, 12 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq.) is a United States federal law that requires banks and savings and loan associations to offer credit throughout their entire market area. (See full text of Act and current regulations.) The act prohibits financial institutions from targeting only wealthier neighborhoods with their services, a practice known as 'redlining.' The purpose of the CRA is to ensure that under-served populations can obtain credit, including home ownership opportunities and commercial loans to small businesses. The Act was passed in 1977 and has been subjected to important regulatory revisions since then." And further..."The CRA was passed by the 95th United States Congress, controlled by Democrats, and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 as a result of national pressure for affordable housing, and despite considerable opposition from the mainstream banking community. The CRA mandates that each banking institution be evaluated to determine if it has met the credit needs of its entire community. That record is taken into account when the federal government considers an institution's application for deposit facilities.
"The Act charged the Federal Reserve System to implement the CRA through ensuring banks and savings and loans met their CRA obligations. The CRA is also enforced by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") CRA Statute. "

And courtesy the N. Y. Post, October, 8, 2008: "Long the director of Chicago ACORN [the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now] , [Madeline] Talbott is a specialist in 'direct action' - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption... But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.
"In February 1990, Illinois regulators held what was believed to be the first-ever state hearing to consider blocking a thrift merger for lack of compliance with CRA. The challenge was filed by ACORN, led by Talbott. Officials of Bell Federal Savings and Loan Association, her target, complained that ACORN pressure was undermining its ability to meet strict financial requirements it was obligated to uphold and protested being boxed into an 'affirmative-action lending policy.' The following years saw Talbott featured in dozens of news stories about pressuring banks into higher-risk minority loans.
"In April 1992, Talbott filed an other precedent-setting com plaint using the 'community support requirements' of the 1989 savings-and-loan bailout, this time against Avondale Federal Bank for Savings. Within a month, Chicago ACORN had organized its first 'bank fair' at Malcolm X College and found 16 Chicago-area financial institutions willing to participate.
Two months later, aided by ACORN organizer Sandra Maxwell, Talbott announced plans to conduct demonstrations in the lobbies of area banks that refused to attend an ACORN-sponsored national bank 'summit' in New York. She insisted that banks show a commitment to minority lending by lowering their standards on downpayments and underwriting - for example, by overlooking bad credit histories.
"By September 1992, The Chicago Tribune was describing Talbott's program as 'affirmative-action lending' and ACORN was issuing fact sheets bragging about relaxations of credit standards that it had won on behalf of minorities.
"And Talbott continued her effort to, as she put it, drag banks 'kicking and screaming' into high-risk loans. A September 1993 story in The Chicago Sun-Times presents her as the leader of an initiative in which five area financial institutions (including two of her former targets, now plainly cowed - Bell Federal Savings and Avondale Federal Savings) were 'participating in a $55 million national pilot program with affordable-housing group ACORN to make mortgages for low- and moderate-income people with troubled credit histories.' " (Presidental candidate Barack Obama early in his career in Chicago trained Ms. Talbott's executives and street-level workers, and raised and directed monies to ACORN in part from foundations on whose boards he sat.

As the City Journal reported in 2000, using the power to extort granted in the CRA, the radical, anti-free market group ACORN received $760 million from the Bank of New York, the Boston-based Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America dragged $3 billion out of the Bank of America and a coalition of “community groups” in New Jersey got an astounding five-year, $13 billion agreement with First Union Bank.

That was the start. Later, Democrats in Congress pushed this "affordable housing" onto Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in part forcing them to purchase sub-prime and alt-A loans, ultimately for over $1 trillion. The support was lubricated by huge campaign contributions and government employees heading to Fan or Fred to work when their government employment was over. The Wall Street Journal and a variety of politicians railed against the added leverage coupled with highly-risky loans, to no avail. An Opinion article in today's Wall Street Journal follows:

OCTOBER 2, 2008
What They Said About Fan and Fred

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003:
Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there's a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. . . .
Clockwise from top left: Sen. Thomas Carper, Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Robert Bennett, Rep. Maxine Waters, Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Charles Schumer.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), speaking to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez:
Secretary Martinez, if it ain't broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] ever missed their housing goals?
* * *
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:
Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .
* * *
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:
Rep. Gregory Meeks, (D., N.Y.): . . . I am just pissed off at Ofheo [Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight] because if it wasn't for you I don't think that we would be here in the first place.

Fannie Mayhem: A History
A compendium of The Wall Street Journal's recent editorial coverage of Fannie and Freddie.
And Freddie Mac, who on its own, you know, came out front and indicated it is wrong, and now the problem that we have and that we are faced with is maybe some individuals who wanted to do away with GSEs in the first place, you have given them an excuse to try to have this forum so that we can talk about it and maybe change the direction and the mission of what the GSEs had, which they have done a tremendous job. . .
Ofheo Director Armando Falcon Jr.: Congressman, Ofheo did not improperly apply accounting rules; Freddie Mac did. Ofheo did not try to manage earnings improperly; Freddie Mac did. So this isn't about the agency's engagement in improper conduct, it is about Freddie Mac. Let me just correct the record on that. . . . I have been asking for these additional authorities for four years now. I have been asking for additional resources, the independent appropriations assessment powers.
This is not a matter of the agency engaging in any misconduct. . . .
Rep. Waters: However, I have sat through nearly a dozen hearings where, frankly, we were trying to fix something that wasn't broke. Housing is the economic engine of our economy, and in no community does this engine need to work more than in mine. With last week's hurricane and the drain on the economy from the war in Iraq, we should do no harm to these GSEs. We should be enhancing regulation, not making fundamental change.
Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines. Everything in the 1992 act has worked just fine. In fact, the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals. . . .
Rep. Frank: Let me ask [George] Gould and [Franklin] Raines on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, do you feel that over the past years you have been substantially under-regulated?
Mr. Raines?
Mr. Raines: No, sir.
Mr. Frank: Mr. Gould?
Mr. Gould: No, sir. . . .
Mr. Frank: OK. Then I am not entirely sure why we are here. . . .
Rep. Frank: I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists.
* * *
Senate Banking Committee, Oct. 16, 2003:
Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): And my worry is that we're using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie's mission. And I don't think there is any doubt that there are some in the administration who don't believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position.
Mr. Raines: But more importantly, banks are in a far more risky business than we are.
* * *
Senate Banking Committee, Feb. 24-25, 2004:
Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.): What is the wrong that we're trying to right here? What is the potential harm that we're trying to avert?
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: Well, I think that that is a very good question, senator.
What we're trying to avert is we have in our financial system right now two very large and growing financial institutions which are very effective and are essentially capable of gaining market shares in a very major market to a large extent as a consequence of what is perceived to be a subsidy that prevents the markets from adjusting appropriately, prevents competition and the normal adjustment processes that we see on a day-by-day basis from functioning in a way that creates stability. . . . And so what we have is a structure here in which a very rapidly growing organization, holding assets and financing them by subsidized debt, is growing in a manner which really does not in and of itself contribute to either home ownership or necessarily liquidity or other aspects of the financial markets. . . .
Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.): [T]he federal government has [an] ambiguous relationship with the GSEs. And how do we actually get rid of that ambiguity is a complicated, tricky thing. I don't know how we do it.
I mean, you've alluded to it a little bit, but how do we define the relationship? It's important, is it not?
Mr. Greenspan: Yes. Of all the issues that have been discussed today, I think that is the most difficult one. Because you cannot have, in a rational government or a rational society, two fundamentally different views as to what will happen under a certain event. Because it invites crisis, and it invites instability. . .
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.): I, just briefly will say, Mr. Chairman, obviously, like most of us here, this is one of the great success stories of all time. And we don't want to lose sight of that and [what] has been pointed out by all of our witnesses here, obviously, the 70% of Americans who own their own homes today, in no small measure, due because of the work that's been done here. And that shouldn't be lost in this debate and discussion. . . .
* * *
Senate Banking Committee, April 6, 2005:
Sen. Schumer: I'll lay my marker down right now, Mr. Chairman. I think Fannie and Freddie need some changes, but I don't think they need dramatic restructuring in terms of their mission, in terms of their role in the secondary mortgage market, et cetera. Change some of the accounting and regulatory issues, yes, but don't undo Fannie and Freddie.
* * *
Senate Banking Committee, June 15, 2006:
Sen. Robert Bennett (R., Utah): I think we do need a strong regulator. I think we do need a piece of legislation. But I think we do need also to be careful that we don't overreact.
I know the press, particularly, keeps saying this is another Enron, which it clearly is not. Fannie Mae has taken its lumps. Fannie Mae is paying a very large fine. Fannie Mae is under a very, very strong microscope, which it needs to be. . . . So let's not do nothing, and at the same time, let's not overreact. . .
Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.): I think a lot of people are being opportunistic, . . . throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saying, "Let's dramatically restructure Fannie and Freddie," when that is not what's called for as a result of what's happened here. . . .
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.): Mr. Chairman, what we're dealing with is an astounding failure of management and board responsibility, driven clearly by self interest and greed. And when we reference this issue in the context of -- the best we can say is, "It's no Enron." Now, that's a hell of a high standard."

The 2001 "Dot.Com bust" made the ever-increasing housing prices a political bright spot in an otherwise ugly economy. But in February 2, 2002, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal strongly pointed out the huge funancial risks of Fan and Fred. But a brief chronology:


April: The Administration's FY02 budget declares that the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is "a potential problem," because "financial trouble of a large GSE could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting Federally insured entities and economic activity."


May: The President calls for the disclosure and corporate governance principles contained in his 10-point plan for corporate responsibility to apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (OMB Prompt Letter to OFHEO, 5/29/02)


January: Freddie Mac announces it has to restate financial results for the previous three years.

February: The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) releases a report explaining that "although investors perceive an implicit Federal guarantee of [GSE] obligations," "the government has provided no explicit legal backing for them." As a consequence, unexpected problems at a GSE could immediately spread into financial sectors beyond the housing market. ("Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFHEO," OFHEO Report, 2/4/03)

September: Fannie Mae discloses SEC investigation and acknowledges OFHEO's review found earnings manipulations.

September: Treasury Secretary John Snow testifies before the House Financial Services Committee to recommend that Congress enact "legislation to create a new Federal agency to regulate and supervise the financial activities of our housing-related government sponsored enterprises" and set prudent and appropriate minimum capital adequacy requirements. The Bush Administration offered up a proposed bill to add significant oversight. It was blocked by a full vote by the Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, along party lines. The ranking member of that committee, Rep. Barney Fife stressed the benefits to society of "affordable housing".

October: Fannie Mae discloses $1.2 billion accounting error.

November: Council of the Economic Advisers (CEA) Chairman Greg Mankiw explains that any "legislation to reform GSE regulation should empower the new regulator with sufficient strength and credibility to reduce systemic risk." To reduce the potential for systemic instability, the regulator would have "broad authority to set both risk-based and minimum capital standards" and "receivership powers necessary to wind down the affairs of a troubled GSE." (N. Gregory Mankiw, Remarks At The Conference Of State Bank Supervisors State Banking Summit And Leadership, 11/6/03)


February: The President's FY05 Budget again highlights the risk posed by the explosive growth of the GSEs and their low levels of required capital, and called for creation of a new, world-class regulator: "The Administration has determined that the safety and soundness regulators of the housing GSEs lack sufficient power and stature to meet their responsibilities, and therefore…should be replaced with a new strengthened regulator." (2005 Budget Analytic Perspectives, pg. 83)

February: CEA Chairman Mankiw cautions Congress to "not take [the financial market's] strength for granted." Again, the call from the Administration was to reduce this risk by "ensuring that the housing GSEs are overseen by an effective regulator." (N. Gregory Mankiw, Op-Ed, "Keeping Fannie And Freddie's House In Order," Financial Times, 2/24/04)

June: Deputy Secretary of Treasury Samuel Bodman spotlights the risk posed by the GSEs and called for reform, saying "We do not have a world-class system of supervision of the housing government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), even though the importance of the housing financial system that the GSEs serve demands the best in supervision to ensure the long-term vitality of that system. Therefore, the Administration has called for a new, first class, regulatory supervisor for the three housing GSEs: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banking System." (Samuel Bodman, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Testimony, 6/16/04)


April: Treasury Secretary John Snow repeats his call for GSE reform, saying "Events that have transpired since I testified before this Committee in 2003 reinforce concerns over the systemic risks posed by the GSEs and further highlight the need for real GSE reform to ensure that our housing finance system remains a strong and vibrant source of funding for expanding homeownership opportunities in America… Half-measures will only exacerbate the risks to our financial system." (Secretary John W. Snow, "Testimony Before The U.S. House Financial Services Committee," 4/13/05). The Bush Administration tried again, with Sen. McCain a sponsor of a stronger regulatory bill for Fan and Fred. It was again blocked by Democrats from getting a full Senate vote by the Senate Banking Committee. (The vote again along party lines.)

Offered easy money, banks and mortgage companies piled on. Including Countrywide Mortgage which became the largest mortgage originator in the country and largest seller to Fan and Fred. Its CEO, Angelo Mozilo, made under-market mortgages to a variety of politicians, including executives (and former Clinton Administration member Fan CEO Franklin Raines) of Fan and Fred and members and Chairmen of the Congressional subcommittees overseeing them. In 2004 both Fan and Fred announced financial statement revisions, or, in other words, "accounting scandals" in both Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs). CEOs left, with tens of millions of dollars in severance, but the campaign contributions rolled on. Sen. Charles Schumer, later Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced that things were good, not to create problems where there were none and where oversight was sufficient.

And the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. Thank you Mr. Greenspan.

Housing prices moved up and up. And mortgage brokers shoved out the loans; appraisers assisted them, sometimes by inventing housing values; financial institutions stopped asking for verification of income and other minor little details; consumers and housing speculators bought, knowing prices would increase and they'd get to keep their dream house or make some serious money flipping them. A classic mania. And housing prices moved up and up.

And up and up and up until they flattened and started down. The beginning was the day I purchased a $1.6 million condominium, August 2007!

So...then the wily Democratic-controlled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, after Mrs. Pelosi's House bill failed, coldly brought ITS bill, essentially a failed tax bill from the week before (which then wouldn't have passed the House and would've been vetoed, perhaps, by President Bush.) This bill larded the "Bailout Bill" with a Democrat wish-list: $18 billion in clean-energy tax breaks, including one for bicyle riders; tariffs on Caribbean rum; easing film and TV companies to use some tax deduction; exempting children's practice arrows from an excise tax; allow Valdez-affected fishermen to income average; extensioning tax credits: for specific economic-development, mine-rescue training teams, certain things on Indian Reservations, short-line railroad track maintenance, motorsports racetrack land improvements, victims of some natural disasters, deductions for state and local sales taxes, decuctions specifically for teachers getting higher education and spending their own money buying stuff; and some reductions on import duties for some wool fabrics. The biggest Democratic success, in my view, is another health-care price-increasing mandate, the equalization of coverage for mental with physical health. A Democrate desire for ten years. And softening the blow to some 20 million taxpayers of the Democratic-invented Alternative Minimum Tax. All imperitives for a "Bailout"! (Not.) Four hundred pages of Democratic Pork. Some real bailout provisions, good and bad, are increasing FDIC guarantees to $250,000; attempting to change the "mark-to-market" accounting that some believe partially reponsible for making some banks and insurance companies fail or falter. But it put the Republicans, including an amazingly naive President Bush, in an impossible situation. The bill was passed 74 to 25. Next stop the U. S. House of Representatives tonight or tomorrow.

Now follow to Who's to Blame III

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who's to blame

Well being human is to blame. I started as a stockbroker in the 1970's. Then there were stockbrokers, who acted as agents, and also as investment bankers, essentially raising money for corporations. Other than for the brief of moments, these firms didn't risk its capital. That slowly morphed into the highly-leveraged institutions of the recent past. The concept of "placing bets" as, I think, Goldman or maybe Solomon Bros. started to do a couple decades ago for competitive purposes really was in my view the start to today's "crisis". But adding private equity and the government pretty well blurred the regulatory framework. Regulation -- and lawmaking in general -- became a series of knee-jerk reactions with campain contributions and elections being foremost in politicians' minds, rather than actually solving problems. And we are here today. With any luck, the $800 billion "bailout" will lead to reducing the size, scope and cost of government. It isn't the free enterprise system or capitalism at fault; it's the reaction by politicians and the media to useful, and healthy contractions. You can't have gain without pain from time-to-time. If everyone knew that, individuals would borrow less, save for a "rainy day" and breeze through the ups and downs of life. Good luck that!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bush's good economic record.

This is taken liberally from an article in the Wall Street Journal ("Bush Has a Good Economic Record" - WSJ, September 3, 2008 P. A 23)

I was amazed reading this, but here's a synopsis for those who care about "issues".

U. S. economic output is higher than most advanced economies since 2000 (including estimated 2008) 2.2% a year; 19% larger than Clinton's and against 14% (France), 13% (Japan) and 8% (Italy and Germany).

U. S. personal household consumption (citizens and "illegals" combined) second only to Luxemburg out of 146 countries. U. S. average: $32,000 ( UK, Canada, France and Italy all under $25,000; China $1700.)

84.7% of U. S. population is covered by health insurance (2007), up by 3.6 million from 2006 and 2008 was up another 1 million from 2007. Healthcare -- the highest number per capita in the world -- was 9% of GDP similar to Germany and France. Our uninsured can go to ERs unless they don't have the education or desire to do so.

The richest 20% of Americans had a 45.8% share of total income similar to UK and Israel, and below 65 other countries. Some of this income stuff (the low or "unfair" part) is from 10 million more immigrants from '95 to '05.

Business investment over Bush's term has been the highest in history at over $8,000 per capita vs. under $5,000 in both Germany and UK.

Bush's unemployment rate averaged 4.7% compared to Clinton's 5.2% and the Euro zone's 8.3%.

U. S. general debt interest payments = 2% of GDP vs. 3.2% while Clinton was in office and 2.7% in Euro zone.

Finally, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has bumped up defense spending to 4.1% of GDP from 3.8% in '95.

In seeing these figures, the economy under Bush has done pretty well. 2008's housing collapse looks to be a lot less devastating than the media and Democrats portray; commodities prices and falling; the was in Iraq is winding down.

McCain's economic policies are designed to continue this success.

Continued low taxes

However, Obama will sidetrack it:
Huge subsidies for "alternative energy" - defined as not oil and gas, natural gas, coal or nuclear ($150 billion).
Bailouts for the auto makers ($50 billion)
Increase taxes on small business owners, the successful, the dead, investors (capital gains and dividends) who represent about half the population, oil companies,
Reduce the taxpayer base by 15 million households and GIVE them someething like $648 million over ten years.
And, of course, because Obama must raise something like $20 million a week, while McCain has taken public financing, he will be promising many special interests a lot.
Speaking of which, his two mainstay funders, union leaders and trial lawyers tend to take expansion money and new-job money from corporations. Job losses occur, further endangering our economy.

So a good question to ask Obama, "Does government have to do everything?"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Danger of Union Power

In today's newspapers (September 2, 2008) -- the Seattle Times and Wall Street Journal -- were a number of articles highlighting the danger of union power.

"No school in Bellevue as teachers go on strike". (Front page, Tuesday, September 2, 2008, Seattle Times.) The article adds: "Although the Bellevue teachers are among the highest paid in the state..." What the schoool district offered would have raised the salaries by 6.6%. And "Bellevue, which is among the most highly-regarded districts in the state..." apparently has a curriculum which, although highly successful, doesn't allow teacher deviation. But who cares if the students learn?

And speaking of the teachers union, in Los Angeles the school district is one of the worst in the nation (high-school graduation rate: 66%, of which only 55% enroll in college or JC; of sixth graders, only 31% tested above minimum proficiency in math and 33% in English). The mayor tried to change the system but was thwarted by, yes!, state courts. He's trying again with a different approach. One unrelenting and unchanging roadblocki is a 320-page teachers unioin contract.

And back here in Boeing country, the machinists union want to strike Boeing and delay the launch of the Dreamliner and potentially cost Boeing $100,000,000 of revenue; an 11% -- $34,000, to an average of $75,000 with overtime -- increase is not enough.

Sen. Obama -- running in lockstep to the unions wants to make it easy for unions to force unionization. That should be enough to vote for McCain. Do we want freedom or to become clones to France and Italy, former economic engines, now has beens.

And back here in Seattle, a developer wanted to develop the 10 acre parcel siting the present Goodwill organization. A "community coalition" was formed by a Viet man. Three years later after the "coalition" now numbering 30 disparate groups was taken over by Puget Sound SAGE a special interest union organization, the developer agreed to pay off the extortion threatened by the "coalition" in exchange for it not fighting in court or before the City Council. The project now might open in 2012 -- a mere 12 years. But part of the original group might form to oppose it since they didn't get their way -- the unions took over and got the developer to pay union wages and benefits, allow for union organizing of the little retailers and force unionization of the grocery retailer. Also the developer is "contributing" $200,000 here and $600,000 there, 200 low-income housing units, cheap rent to some nonprofits, $200,000 for traffic study, and so on. All will bring higher prices to the poor people of the neighborhood. The Mafia couldn't have scored so great.

And finally back to Seattle. "Coalition talks reach deal on Goodwill site" When a developer announced plans for a large transformation of the Goodwill property on South Dearborn Street, a "community coalition" formed to extort what it could from the developer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Brand vs The Old Man


The Brand Obama has hit Number One on the Democratic Hit Parade. I believe Hillary Clinton is still shaking her head with disbelief; and Barack Obama also. How is it possible that Hillary is not the presumptive candidate (hereinafter "PC") of the Democrats? I contend that the burned bridges of the Clintons' arrogance would take down the Brooklyn, Golden Gate and the one over the River Kwai all put together. Possibly Bill's $100 million capitalist booty also upset those jealous liberals. In any event, the "liberal press/popular media" got even. And as they whacked her, they helped create from [Hillary's rib] [scratch] a brand-name, not simply a candidate. The Brand Obama. Talk about adulation. Worship? Bill Clinton step aside. Yet. Yet, put yourself in Obama's shoes. (And apparently he has a lot of them.) All of a sudden you are a rock star. You are Kolbe Bryant, Kanye West, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Jay-Z, Dwight Freeny and Elvis Presley all put together (collectively "rock stars".) Clearly the American Dream. Except. Except you can't believe this is happening to you. No experience. No preparation. No warning. Hundreds, even thousands of rock stars have failed to understand their fame, manage their emotions and they plunged into depression and substance abuse. Will Sen. Obama? No, he's already done that; he won't again. But it is certain that one year ago he had no idea, I don't think a clue, that one year later he'd be the PC for the President of the United States of America. The mightiest nation in history. Arguably he has become the most famous person in the world. Like many brands, the Brand Obama came from nowhere, surprised the nation and now I believe Obama is a brand-name marketed by the liberals of America as their Savior (yes, with a capital S). Fearfully, I think he might believe it. No doubt in my mind that he's overwhelmed, as is America, perhaps the world. Will he end up a one-hit wonder? Will hubris infect him? Will the Brand Obama be a super nova?

At the same time that the Brand Obama has soared, I see many Americans waking up and truly considering for what Liberals stand. And it ain't pretty. America's bad, negative, wrong, inequitable, insatiable, needing change, needing a strong central control of the population. Does each American really believe the United States of America isn't the best in the world. I think not. We like to believe we are winners. We adulate winners. Here in Seattle if the Mariners, Sonics (may they RIP), and Seahawks win some games or make the playoffs or the Superbowl, we salivate with pride. So how can we admire a Brand who says America is a "mean and racist" country? (Whether it is or not, is irrelevant.) Most of us can't! The Old Man said: "America's best days are ahead of us". That's what most of us believe and we admire someone who says what we really believe. Those two comments billboard the differences between the two 2008 presidential candidates.

The Brand Obama's opponent, the Old Man, didn't need to equate The Brand Obama to the Brand Paris. The public did it itself. Do we want the American Idol as president? The Old Man says America will soar this 21st century. He is forceful. Certain. Sure. Clear. Osama Bin Laden? "I'll chase him to the gates of Hell." The Old Man is serious as is a man who's done what he has, the time he's put into life. Yet, he has a sense of humor and can laugh at himself. He's short, gray, has a fat cheek, yet he seems to enjoy. The Brand Obama started out to be...The Change Agent and, as the underdog/long shot, probably believed he was a change from Bill and Hillary (hereinafter "BAH") and President George Whatever Bush (hereinafter and heretofore without a backbone). He is seriously serious, and takes himself seriously. I think he's seriously infatuated with himself. And now he is basking in applause, preaching to the choir but does he really know what he is saying? His choir seems to be shrinking. Is the euphoria over? Are Democrats going from being overwhelmed to being just whelmed, as Sen. Obama's highly memorable disc jockey voice booms doom, changes tunes, and finally debates itself?

I once -- in my early 30's -- became a manager of a retail establishment I owned with some friends. I had no perception of what that really meant. I didn't understand how my employees viewed me. I made assumptions based on my imagination because I had had no job experience being a manager. I didn't know how to act; I didn't know what to say. Later I discovered that how I acted and what I assumed and said all were laughably incorrect or inappropriate (not as in today's meaning of inappropriate which typicall means sexually so, just...inappropriate). I empathize with Obama. I think he's been elevated not only beyond his pay grade (a deeply meaningful phrase) but beyond his own comprehension. He is a disc jockey voice without gravitas, without superstructure, without roots. It is becoming apparent to many Democrats that they have made a grave mistake in their instant mania. One that cannot be undone. Hillary will look like a breath of fresh air in four years and become the Democratic PC, if she maintains her composure, supports her PC and reins in her posse.

Issues? This election is only peripherally about issues. I see the deciding factor will be about respect, confidence, plain talk, beliefs, strength, experience and, yes, age. Of course the issues are black and white: this campaign is a contest between job creators/wealth creators and job destroyers/wealth destroyers (and perhaps wealthy wealth haters).

In my dreams, in 2008 the electorate will grab the reins of their freedom from special interests such as environmentalists, trade union leaders, trial lawyer billionaires, the hypocrites of moral superiority. Let us be free to eat trans fats, use plastic bags, talk on a cell phone while driving and laugh at ourselves.