Why We Don't Trust You, Pt 2 – or – Can We PLEASE Have New Leaders, The Old Ones SUCK!.

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File under – You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

(Continued from WWDTY, pt 1)

David Bernstien at Volokh has some words to say about brainiack Nancy Pelosi’s speech after the failure to pass the massive $700 billion financial bailout:

Speaker Pelosi’s speech before the House today was remarkable, but not in a good way. She was trying to round up votes for a bailout package that shes claims to believe is essential for the stability of the American economy. She can’t, and doesn’t want to, pass the bill without a substantial number of Republican votes. So what does she do? You would think she would say, “let’s pass this emergency measure now, in the best interests of the country, and talk about who is to blame later.” Instead, Pelosi began her speech with a highly partisan tirade against “Bush” and “Republican” economic policies, which were allegedly to blame for this situation. She focused on an attack on the growth of federal deficits, which clearly are at best tangential to the current crisis…

Hey, Genius! You’ve been in office for nearly two years and what have you done to shore up the deficits – cut spending programs? stop war funding? reduced earmarks? No. No. And No.

And the kicker here, she is bitching about Republicans for increasing the deficit, yet this bailout she wants sooooo badly will increase it by another $700 billion.

Jeez! And you wonder why they have such a low approval rating!

Why We Don't Trust You – or – Pre-Emption Is Dead! RIP.

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So, the much ballyhooed bailout is dead… for now.

Do we need a bailout? When you have companies with sterling credit ratings like Caterpillar and McDonald’s stuck in financial limbo because the banks resist loaning them money, it seems obvious that something needs to be done to prevent a financial calamity. But I, like most of the public, won’t pretend to like this bill or trust any of the players involved.

President Bush, commander of the worst public relations administration in memory, who probably lost all credibility over the lack of WMD’s in Iraq alone, failed utterly to convince the public that this bailout is needed. Meanwhile, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and other members of congress who are trying to pass the bailout have their fingerprints all over legislation, regulation, and policies that helped create the current crisis in the first place. From MSNBC:

“Many of us feel that the national interest requires us to do something which is, in many ways, unpopular,” Rep. Barney Frank, the Financial Services Committee chairman said , before the vote. “It is hard to get political credit for avoiding something that has not yet happened.”

BTW, this is the same Barney Frank who, in 2003 rejected calls to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddy Mack because he didn’t seem to think their mismanagement would lead to any economic repercussions.

“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 disastrous scenarios. And even if there were a problem, the Federal Government doesn’t bail them out”.

Oops! But you see what I mean. The same person lecturing everyone else about their lack of foresight seems to be lacking of the same quality.

But he’s certainly not the only one who has egg on their faces. Bush and the Republicans during the 2004 elections, vigorously held up the housing boom as a reason why republicans should be reelected, a boom which we now know was built on the unethical lending practices encouraged by congress. He also heavily promoted the notion of investing a portion of Social Security into the stock market. That doesn’t look so wise at the moment.

The constant negative reporting of business who make large profits by the main stream press has poisoned the public collective consciousness against virtually all large corporations, especially if they made a profit. They are inherently evil. And all CEO’s who earn lots of money, deserving or not, are overpaid criminals. The public, wanting revenge on a perpetually corrupt government, big business, banks, and Wall Street, does not approve of the bailout by a wide 70% margin. This being the case, is anyone else surprised congress, fearing voter backlash, couldn’t get a bill passed to save the economy from imminent utter collapse?

Perhaps part of the problem is that this is an act based of the idea that, if we don’t act now, thing are only going to get much worse. In other words – this is an act based on preemption, an idea that has lost all appeal thanks to the difficulties faced after the preemptive invasion of Iraq. As I noted last week, even those who were for the preemptive invasion of Iraq are opposed to this preemptive action to try and stave off an economic recession or worse. Sarah Palin got hammered for not knowing that the concept of preemption is the basic tenant of the Bush Doctrine. Maybe it wasn’t a bad thing after all; she won’t need to know it anyway since the public and some in congress no longer favors the concept.

It's [ insert year ] All Over Again!

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Last week, since I was apparently at odds with those who watched the Presidential debate on TV when I concluded that McCain won the debate while listening to it on the radio, I wondered if it was 1960 all over again. Now, as the U.S. financial markets teeter on the brink of collapse (depending on who you ask), we find a familiar pattern emerging worldwide. Kirk Stephenson, a British financier, has committed suicide amid the continued credit crisis:

The death of the respected 47-year-old City figure evokes memories of the 1929 Wall Street crash in America…

OK. so it’s not a pattern, since this is the only one listed in the article. And never mind that CEO’s and regular folk, have been known to end it all over bad financials since time immemorial. Regardless, I guess I have to ask – Is it 1929 all over again?

It's 1960 All Over Again.

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Most of the Polls I’ve seen say Obama won, that McCain did not translate well on the flat screen; he would not look at Obama and looked… angry. Curious, I didn’t watch the debate, but listened on the radio instead. Al in all, I thought McCain did better when listening to him. Is this a repeat of Kennedy / Nixon circa 1960?

Paul Newman, RIP

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One of the great Hollywood stars has passed away. I will always remember him for his role as Butch Cassidy, but will admire him most because of his unblemished personal integrity, something hard to maintain for anyone who spends a career in Hollywood.

Sarah Palin – Not Ready On Day One…. Or 28

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I watched some of the Couric / Palin interview. Not good, not good at all. Unlike the Gibson interview, this one is not blatantly edited to make Palin look bad – she does that on her own. At times, she is as inarticulate as Bush on one of his bad days. Here is one of the worse exchanges:

Couric: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? … Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

Palin: Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy – Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions.

A lot of the interview goes like that. Here is a bit concerning Ahmadinejad Henry Kissinger:

Couric: You met yesterday with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is for direct diplomacy with both Iran and Syria. Do you believe the U.S. should negotiate with leaders like President Assad and Ahmadinejad?

Palin: I think, with Ahmadinejad, personally, he is not one to negotiate with. You can’t just sit down with him with no preconditions being met. Barack Obama is so off-base in his proclamation that he would meet with some of these leaders around our world who would seek to destroy America and that, and without preconditions being met. That’s beyond naïve. And it’s beyond bad judgment.

Couric: Are you saying Henry Kissinger …

Palin: It’s dangerous.

Couric: … is naïve for supporting that?

Palin: I’ve never heard Henry Kissinger say, “Yeah, I’ll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met.” Diplomacy is about doing a lot of background work first and shoring up allies and positions and figuring out what sanctions perhaps could be implemented if things weren’t gonna go right. That’s part of diplomacy.

Never mind that it has been confirmed that Kissinger does support dialog without preconditions with Ahmadinejad. This is a question I don’t expect her to know. That said, when Kissinger went to China, the U.S. did not demand that the Chinese give up their military ambitions, or ditch communism. Diplomacy does not equal preconditions. They may be included in the diplomatic effort, but that is at the prerogative of the administration.

Here’s more:

Couric: But polls have shown that Sen. Obama has actually gotten a boost as a result of this latest crisis, with more people feeling that he can handle the situation better than John McCain.

Palin: I’m not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it?

Couric: If this doesn’t pass, do you think there’s a risk of another Great Depression?

Palin: Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it’s been proposed, has to pass or we’re going to find ourselves in another Great Depression. But, there has got to be action – bipartisan effort – Congress not pointing fingers at one another but finding the solution to this, taking action, and being serious about the reforms on Wall Street that are needed.

Couric: Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures to help average Americans keep their homes?

Palin: That’s something that John McCain and I have both been discussing – whether that … is part of the solution or not. You know, it’s going to be a multi-faceted solution that has to be found here.

Couric: So you haven’t decided whether you’ll support it or not?

Palin: I have not.

Couric: What are the pros and cons of it do you think?

Palin: Oh, well, some decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded, of course.

Couric: By consumers, you’re saying?

Palin: Consumers – and those who were predator lenders also. That’s, you know, that has to be considered also. But again, it’s got to be a comprehensive, long-term solution found … for this problem that America is facing today. As I say, we are getting into crisis mode here.

Couric: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie – that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Look, I just got my California teaching credential, and the quality of some of Palin’s answers are about on par with what I have seen from C student juniors. There just isn’t a whole lot of substance here. This is not a person who is ready to pass senior civics, much less be Vice President…

OK. That last bit went a bit overboard.

I know some will defend Palin to the end.  But given her poor performances in the two interviews so far (Hannity was more of an infomercial), with the virtual press lock-out (28 days and counting) and the prospect of the McCain team wanting to move Fridays debate to Thursday, thereby bumping  the VP debate down the road, it certainly looks like the McCain team IS typing to keep Palin away from the press because she is not ready for this job. At this point, I have to agree with that assessment.

The Bailout – The Obvious Questions.

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Todd Zywicki, from Volokh:

If it is so obvious that the mortgage-backed securities are undervalued because of the market stability that the taxpayers are going to make money in the end, why aren’t private investors steppeing forward to take advantage of the situation? This is what Warren Buffett is doing with Goldman, with reports being that Buffett is getting a great deal because he is remaining calm.

Why isn’t something like chapter 11 bankruptcy not a viable solution to this problem?

McCain HAS Lost His Head!

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George Will was on to something here, though I don’t think even he realised just how far around the bend the McCain campaign is going. McCain admitted economics is not his strong suit (though he didn’t say that verbatim and it’s taken out of context, you just knew this admission would come back to haunt him). So does it really make sense to halt your campaign to go back to Washington to deal with something for which you admit you are not an expert? And just what does McCain intend to do? Real financial experts Paulson and Bernake have had five days to work on this rotten smelling bailout, the congress has had a few days to get up to speed, and McCain will have maybe a day? Did I miss the publishing of the “Cliffnotes For Government Bailouts”?

PS. I am not a fan of this bailout. Congress does not have the best record dealing with Wall Street. SOX was supposed to fix things and obvious didn’t. And I am even less confident having McCain involved in this thing. I mean really, the McCain / Feingold Campaign Finance Reform bill worked so well…   Then again, maybe McCain’s involvement will bring the same level of success he had with the immigration bill.

Attack of the "MellonHeads", or, Do you still believe in the Bush Doctrine?

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In honor of the Herbert Hoover CNBC contributor, James Pethokoukis confronts the MellonHeads, those conservatives who are having a knee-jerk reaction to the inevitable mortgage banking bailout. The moniker “MellonHeads” refers to Herbert Hoover’s Secretary of Treasury Andrew Mellon, who advocated a very hands-off approach on monetary matters, which contributed to the hard slide into the Great Depression.

Many conservatives are concerned about the expansion of government into the market (as if they’re not already there). They argue, among other things, that the bailout would expand government and cost taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars – and they are right. But how much would it cost in money and lives if we do nothing and let the financial markets slide further into collapse, as happened during the Great Depression. Not I’m not here predicting doom and gloom, I don’t think we’re anywhere near that type of economic collapse. Nobody knows what the future holds.

Looking at the names on the “MellonHeads” list, Michelle Malkin, Club for Growth, Newt Gingrich, Bill Kristol, I realized that all of them supported the pre-emptive reasoning for war in Iraq. Curious – why is it that the same people who supported the notion of pre-emption when going to war in Iraq, are the same who won’t support it when trying to save the economy.

Crows Rock! UPDATE.

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.. and reason. They are probably libertarians.

This story, from a few years ago, really amazed me. There is video too, but I can’t find it at the moment.

I found the video.

File under: “Birds Are Cool”!!!