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Monday, September 29, 2008

What Killed It?

So, what killed the $700 billion dollar bail out for the second time in 4 days? The same thing that shot it down last week. Too much government control of the markets in the plan. Toss in a healthy dose of voter sentiment against the plan and it was ripe to die.

The Republicans who wanted less government buying of bad debt, and more government insuring of companies who would buy it won again. At this moment a lot of folks are saying it's a losing day for everyone, I disagree. I think that the American taxpayer came out ahead by this getting defeated.

A great sidenote to this, the folks who've been commenting on my other bailout posts who claimed the GOP couldn't have tried to fix this in 2003 and 2005, because they controlled Congress should be taking note. Nancy Pelosi stood up and told her troops, who control Congress, that this HAD to pass, and it didn't. Even with a majority, and the leader wanting something, it doesn't always pass. 40% of House Democrats bolted and voted against the plan.

One congressman noted last week that his phone calls about the bailout were running 50/50. 50% saying "No", the other 50% saying "HELL NO!". So, if nothing else, it seems that occasionally our representative government actually does what the people want, which evidently wasn't a huge bailout of Wall St. with their money.

All the news isn't bad though. With this huge drop in the market so close to the end of the month, the 40% of my retirement fund that I moved to purchasing of index funds in August should do quite well when they buy tomorrow. Since I'm not planning on retiring for 20 or so years, they have plenty of time to move back up to the range that will make me comfortable at 65. Buy low sell high works quite well.

To finish this off, here's a great YouTube video of a 2004 Congressional hearing, where Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae's practices and leaders are praised by Democrats, and Republicans beg for some oversight.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Bailing Out, On Bush?

Are House Republican's nuts? That seems to be the question this morning as it sinks in that there has been a wholesale defection GOP congressmen over the bailout package. The AP and other news outlets are calling it a huge hit for Bush and McCain.

The question is, if the deal they are trying to broker is better for the taxpayer, instead of the hastily put together treasury deal, then who's it bad for politically? The Treasury deal was on life support two days ago, as conservatives in the House warned because of it's market implications. Add in the pet projects, pork, and other sweetners to get Democrats to buy off on it, and it had no chance. The only folks who didn't see that were.... Everyone.

What the House GOP leadership seems to be working on is a play that isn't politically expedient, but instead, one that's fiscally managable for the government, while still providing a safety net for Wall St. firms and banks.

They need to make sure they kill a few of their pet ideas that are trying to be slipped in if they want it to pass. Now isn't the time to demand that capital gains taxes be suspended, when you are putting the government on the hook for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars.

I think over the weekend we'll see a deal happen, and it won't be the one anyone envisioned when Paulson released his proposal a week ago. Hopefully, because of the House GOP it will be one that we can all live with a little better than anything that we've seen so far.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is the Bailout Dead?

Weird goings on in Washington today as far as negotiating some kind of bailout for failing banks and Wall St. firms.

Earlier today it looked like an agreement had been reached where about half of the Bush administration's 700 billion dollar request would be granted, with additional money available after Congressional approval. Evidently that's fallen apart. It was put together by a bipartisan group of congressmen (and women) but without much leadership input from either side.

Now the word tonight is that deal is dead, and the GOP is pushing an alternative package that would have the government guarantying insurance packages for firms that agree to buy the "bad" debt from banks and brokerages. This would be a better solution in the GOP eyes since it keeps the government out of the ownership business of the firms.

It may also be a better idea based on those pesky accounting rules I keep mentioning. Firms buying the mortgage debt will be more likely to pay close to what it's worth if they can get that purchase insured. The government would have just made offers "you couldn't refuse" that may not have reflected the true value of many of the investments. If that's the case, many other portfolios of mortgage backed securities will suddenly see their value increase.

I'm not sure what will finally get hammered out as the solution to the current crisis, but my guess is that it will have less government ownership of firms that Bush proposed, and probably less market control that the GOP delegation in Congress would like. We should know in the next 48 hours what they finally decide on though.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bailout

Okay, so we are now looking at spending $700 BILLION to bail out failing financial institutions due to the mortgage crisis.

One of the Barack Obama talking points is how the current administration has been asleep at the wheel and allowed this to happen. Actually, if Mr. Obama would do a little Google searching, or just read Mac Ranger's blog, he's know that it's Congressional Democrats who allowed this to fester to the point of a melt down.

Mac does impeccable research, and he dug up a 2003 article from the NY Times about a proposal by President Bush to create an oversight agency for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

If you go click on my site meter you'll find at least 4 hits per day, some days many more of people searching for "Barney Frank Bailout", that would be Congressional Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who in the article from 2003 said there was no problem with Freddie and Fannie:

''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''
In March of this year, Rep. Frank came up with his own mortgage bailout plan, to help the people affected by the problems at Freddie and Fannie, and the general lack of oversight in the mortgage industry.

As history is showing us Republicans have been on the ball in the mortgage crisis for 5 years, and didn't just try one time to reform things.

In 2005 Chuck Hagel introduced S.190, "Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005", which would also have established oversite of Freddie and Fannie, and set capital reserve levels for them to maintain that would have prevented a large part of this crisis. It never made it out of committee, had it Senate Democrats would have killed it on the floor.

So why were the Democrats so against the idea of reform, when it's been obvious for 5 or more years that there was an issue? Simply put, fixing the mortgage process would have probably made it harder for low income people, one of their key constituencies, to game the system and buy homes. Frank said as much in the 2003 quote above.

The problem is that a lot of those people who were looking for "affordable housing" ended up with loans that went bad when they became unaffordable. The system allowed them to buy more than they could afford through ARM's and balloon loans.

They are no longer in their homes, and have had their credit ruined. The same folks who wouldn't allow reforms that might have prevented such things are now telling them, as always, that it's somebody elses fault.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Illinois Constitutional Convention

Coming up on November 4th is a chance for Illinois voters to call a Constitutional Convention for the state.

Jesse White, the Secretary of State sent out a pamphlet that everyone should have gotten, explaining why this is on the ballot, and what happens if the voters call for a convention. It also contains some pros and cons of holding the convention. I'll list them here for you, then comment.

The Pro Convention arguements:

1. A constitutional convention allows delegates to consider important substantive
issues that have failed to advance in the legislative process.
2. Changes to our state and local governments are best addressed by delegates
elected solely to review the Constitution.
3. A constitutional convention would provide the first comprehensive review
of the Illinois Constitution since its adoption in 1970.
4. Any proposed changes to the Constitution must be ratified by the voters
before they become effective.

The Against arguements:

1. A constitutional convention could cost as much as $78 million.
2. The current Illinois Constitution could be changed without a constitutional
convention, and in fact has been changed 10 times since the last
3. A constitutional convention could be controlled by special interest
groups and lobbyists, and there is no way to limit the issues discussed.
4. A convention could threaten the economy by creating an unstable business

Every one of the arguements on both sides is legitimate, however a few are missing. In fact, if you put #5 on the arguements for a convention, it would require only two words Emil Jones.
While we have made some changes over the last 38 years to the current Constitution, the truth is nothing of substance in it will change with the current leadership in our legislature.

Item 4 is the most important, no matter what a convention comes up with, the people still have to approve it.

Arguement 3 against the convention, that special interests might control the convention is really a moot point. If we've learned anything over the last 6 years in this state it's that our government is already controlled by them. How many lobbyists, and 'friends' of our politicians, and politicians have ended up in jail because they were scratching each others backs. Yes, there will be groups that lobby to have parts of their agenda included or to get someone elses excluded from the new document. Guess what, that happened when the original US Constitution was written.

Illinois needs some true reform. Our school funding method is completely disfunctional, the make up of our local governments needs to be consolidated, and transportation funding needs to have some sort of strength behind it, instead of being at the whim of a few legislators.

The current State Senate and Assembly have proven totally inept, and unable to handle any of those reforms, so the best alternative is to rewrite the State Constitution to force certain actions to happen. If legislators are incapable of doing their job, the great thing about our country is that "we the people" can find ways to make it happen anyway.

Will it be expensive? Probably, but it will most likely cost less than the free rides the Governor is giving away on the transit systems. Will there be some ugly fights about content, yes. But an open debate at both a convention, and afterwards when things need to be ratified would be welcome.

What we can't do is sit around and wait for Emil Jones and his cronies to do something. As the current fight over ethics legislation has shown, Jones isn't about doing the right thing, he's about doing what best for him politically.

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Obama Race Baiting

Rush Limbaugh, who I'm no fan of, has accused Barack Obama of race baiting ,(link to WSJ article) with hispanic voters the target of some vicious, and absolutely contrived comments.

What Obama's campaign has done is take one and two second snipets out of longer comments by Limbaugh to make them sound very anti-hispanic, and then linked (here's the punch line) John McCain to Limbaugh through these.

First the punchline. Anyone with half a brain, who's listened to Rush in the last 6 months knows that off nearly all the possible GOP candidates, McCain is the one he hates. He's spent time equating voting for McCain to voting for Hillary Clinton, saying we'll get the same goverment. So the idea that McCain is some huge, Limbaugh fan, linked to everything he says is, well, a joke.

Now to the ads themselves. As Rush says in his editorial piece on the Wall St. Journal (linked above) the ads are both deceptive, and truly race baiting. Here's the narrative of one of them:

"They want us to forget the insults we've put up with . . . the intolerance . . . they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much."

Then the commercial flashes two quotes from me: ". . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and "You shut your mouth or you get out!"

And then a voice says, "John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote . . . and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families. John McCain . . . more of the same old Republican tricks."

Now, both quotes, "Stupid unskilled Mexican's" and "You shut your mouth or you get out" sound pretty bad. Actually, when taken in context, which Obama didn't do, they aren't. One (unskilled) was from 1993 when Limbaugh was railing about NAFTA opponents, and turning their arguement back on them, specifically that the loss of low skill jobs here was okay, because we'd have better one's:
"If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine 'cause those are the kinds of jobs Nafta is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do -- let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."

Limbaugh wasn't calling Mexican's stupid and unskilled, he was mocking the folks who argued that the only jobs that would leave were the one's that would be filled by stupid unskilled people, so NAFTA would be okay. If anything, considering their rhetoric about NAFTA this year, the Obama folks should be embracing Limbaugh's 1993 rants about the agreement.

The "Shut Up" comment, though, is even more telling of Obama's race baiting. It had nothing to do with hispanic immigrants in the US. It was, instead, about the Mexican immigration laws, and their government's hypocrisy about immigration.

As for the second sound bite, I was mocking the Mexican government's double standard -- i.e., urging open borders in this country while imposing draconian immigration requirements within its own borders. Thus, I took the restrictions Mexico imposes on immigrants and appropriated them as my own suggestions for a
new immigration law.

Here's the context for that sound bite: "And another thing: You don't have the right to protest. You're allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. You're a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you're going to jail."

To take it farther, while the Mexican goverment is looking for full rights for it's citizens who move north, moving south is nearly impossible, unless you are rich and can buy a large business. Even then, their goverment restricts property rights, voting rights, and the other things Limbaugh railed about.

Taken in context, it's obvious that Limbaugh isn't making charges or talking down to mexican immigrants, he's talking about the hypocrisy of their government, and the laughability of the NAFTA arguements.

As much as I hate it I have to agree with Limbaugh, that to take the comments in the context that Obama's camp has is nothing less than a full out race baiting attack designed to attract hispanic voters.

These are definitely not the politics of hope, and the politics of change. Instead Obama is practicing the politics of fear and lies at it's lowest level.

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Friday, September 19, 2008


Evidently, patriotism is in play this election season. Instead of challenging the other candidates patriotism, though, Joe Biden has decided to challenge a group of peoples, those earning over $250,000 per year.

According to Joe, it's time for them to pony up and pay their fair share. It would be, according to him, the patriotic thing to do. He even invokes Catholic social doctrine of taking care of those who need help the most. Can you imagine a GOP candidate invoking church doctrine as a reason to do anything?

That 250,000 level equates to approximately the top 5% of income earners in the country. According to the Treasury Department, that group currently pays 57% of the (income) tax bill for the country, while earning 33% of the income. The bottom 50%, the folks who are supposedly getting squeezed out pay only 3% of all income taxes.

So exactly how much more in taxes would be "Patriotic"? How much more money does Joe Biden think the folks who are already footing the bill for our society should pay?

The better question is, if the Obama-Biden team is going to raise taxes on them, do they think they'll actually take in as much as they project? The Department of Treasury figured that without the 2003 Bush tax cut the upper five percent of earners would pay 52% of the tax bill. After that tax cut they actually paid 57% of the bill, even though they supposedly got the most benefits from it.

Conversely, if you jack their taxes up, they will shelter money, and pay less in taxes. Capital Gains are a prime example of this, since it's an easily avoidable tax, just hold the asset and you don't pay it.

While the Democrats have claimed the new rate of 15% took too much burden off the wealthy, reported capital gains income after the last round of cuts went UP by 154% over the next 3 years. Since the markets only rose by 13% in that time, a good market can't explain the whole increase. The real explaination is that the rate became low enough to make it worthwhile to sell investments earlier and reinvest the money, or to sell them and spend the money.

Raising it to the level that Obama wants, 25 percent, removes a lot of the incentive to roll those investments, and won't increase capital gains tax receipts, it will decrease them. It ends up removing a large amount of investment income that is used to fuel economic growth.

I'm pretty sure that if Obama-Biden get the tax hikes they want, they'll find that a lot of the folks they are trying to hit will say "Screw Patriotism, I'm keeping my money".

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Please Don't Help, You've Done Enough!

John McCain and Barack Obama are promising to end the current culture on Wall Street, and bring stability back to the markets through regulation. I have a better idea, get government the hell out of the markets. As Reagan said a quarter century ago "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

Zachary Karabell, writing in the Wall St. Journal notes that much of what's ailing the financial sector today has to do with the knee jerk 'solutions' the government came up with after the Enron fiasco a few years back. He doesn't advocate no regulations on the market, but points out that bad regulations are killing it.

His example is AIG. Because of new accounting rules, companies like AIG that either hold or insure mortgage based derivatives have begun marking down their values. The problem is that because of a number of regulations, some of these mortgage based derivatives are being valued at $0, even though they are obviously worth more than that.

If you have a portfolio with $1 billion worth of mortgage paper, and housing prices decline 20%, how does that suddenly add up a portfolio worth $0? It doesn't in a sane world, but in the one created to prevent an Enron it's creating a disaster of much larger proportions.

AIG and other companies have warned shareholders that the losses they are reporting aren't "real". Why would they say that? Because they know that regulations require one type of accounting, but real value uses a different one.

AIG is now a government held entity not because there was a run on their mortgage based security insurance products, but because their "might be" a run on them, and they couldn't cover it.

How weird is this environment? Goldman Sachs reported higher than expected earnings yesterday, and their stock DROPPED about 20%. If you listened to the news today, you probably figure that they are done, the next big investment bank that will fail.

Did you know that the 20% drop brought their share price down to $114.00? Or that they earned $1.81 per share, yes, they turned a profit, of 810 million dollars! Yet markets are freaking out over their liquidity.

Only in a government "helped" world would a company that earned 800 million dollars be considered primed for failure. Only in a government "helped" world would a company holding $1 billion in good mortgages be in trouble because of $200 million in bad ones.

I've seen what the government does to help, thanks but no thanks. If you are really interested in helping, consider fixing your screw up on financial reporting so that good investments don't look bad.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Boring Economic Stuff

Phil Gramm, former Senator from Texas and Mike Solon, the founder of Capital Logistics have a good primer about economics in today's Wall Street Journal. DO NOT READ IT if you are a fan of Barack Obama, it contains facts about taxes, and who's actually going to get hit the hardest by raising them on the top 1% of income earners.

Gramm and Solon take a look at 6 states, the three biggest economic winners in the last decade and the three biggest losers. Arizona, Texas, Florida are the winners. Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio are the biggest losers. Unlike the NBC TV show, being the biggest loser economically is bad.

What they find is even though the populations of the biggest winners are expanding at double the national rate, the real income of their residents went up by over 21%, double the national average. The losers? The real income in those states only went up by 58% of the national average.

Unsurpisingly, they show that (DUH!) if you punish business through taxes and regulations, they leave your state for more friendly states. This seems like a no-brainer, but some folks don't get it, Gov. Granholm. Fully one third (3.7 million) of the new jobs in the US over the last 10 years have been created in the three "winner states" listed above. The losers? They've lost over a quarter of a million jobs between them.

Those who think more government programs can cure those 'loser' states should probably ask "why, if they already spend 20-25% more per person than the 'winners', and are still losing jobs"?

Why shouldn't Obama supporters read this? Well, Gramm and Solon point out something that lots of us have known for a long time. That top 1% that Barack wants to jack taxes up on; 75% of the filers in that group are actually small businesses filing as individuals to avoid the higher US corporate tax rate and regulations.

Since three quarters of our new jobs are created by such businesses, jacking up taxes on them will just stifle job creation. That group isn't some untapped treasure chest, it's the economic engine of our country.

If such tax increases hit, two things will happen, as business will have to react in one of the two following ways, because unlike economic assumptions, people actually react to tax changes.

The first, some of the folks filing as individuals, who'll see their tax rates go above the corporate rate will incorporate, and then pay themselves a salary that gives them a tax benefit. At the same time, since the corporation will be able to shield some income from taxation an individual can't, the business will also lower it's taxes. Net income to the treasury will go down, and no one will be able to figure out why.

Secondly, for the small business owners that incorporating doesn't make sense for, they still have to feed their families. That means they have to cut business costs. Either some sort of benefit cut for employees, or someone getting fired to make up that income difference.

What about that 25% that aren't small business owners? Like they always have, they'll find a way to shield enough income to nulify the tax code changes. All you have to do is look at the historic IRS tables to see that the higher the tax rate is on the upper 1%, the less they pay into the treasury.

There are armies of accountants and tax lawyers out there licking their chops at the idea of a 20% increase in the upper tax rate. They know that is a big enough increase to justify paying them to find away around it.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Shake the Elitist Tag?

I got a laugh today, reading the Wall Street Journal editorial page (from yesterday) while getting an oil change.

A lady by the name of Lynn Forester De Rothschild wrote a piece called "Democrats Need to Shake The 'Elitist' Tag". I'm sorry, but when Barack Obama is getting lectured by a lady named De Rothschild, who's a lawyer and CEO of a private investment firm, about being an elitist, I find it funny. It's kind of like having (the late) George Carlin tell you to quit clowning around.

She is actually correct in what she says, but she should have used a pen name for the article. Democrats in particular, and the left in general, do need to shake that tag. But it's a hard one to get rid of.

The problem is elitism implies that they are smarter than everyone else; and if you ask them they will tell you all about it. Obama has been doing it for months on the campaign trail. His party's surrogates have been doing it for years, long before Al Gore lost in 2000.

A great example of liberal elitism is Roger Ebert's issues with Sarah Palin (h/t to Charlie):

And how can you be her age and never have gone to Europe? ... Sarah Palin's travel record is that of a hopeless provincial. ... Palin is a shallow, chirpy person with those vaguely alarming eyeglasses. Now her fans all want a pair. Remember back when women wore glasses that departed their ears in plastic swoops and swirls? My theory is, anyone who wears glasses that look weird is telling me something I don't want to know. I trust the American people will see through Palin's facade, and save the Republic in November. The most damning indictment against her is that she considered herself a good choice to be a heartbeat away. That shows bad judgment.
Hey Roger, I've gotten to be her age, and only went to Europe because Uncle Sam thought it would be a nice detour on my way to Long Beach, California. I could have afforded to go more recently, but thought it more important to put money into my home, and my kids education.

A whole lot of people that the Democrats and liberals supposedly care about; working stiffs; reach 40, or 50, or 60, and can't afford to visit Europe. According to Roger, that makes them hopeless provincials.

Ms. Forester De Rothschild makes a good point, that part of John McCain's appeal to the folks slightly left of center is that he could be an elite, but refused to become one. He came from a good family, with a famous father, yet he abandoned using that when he was a POW. Many folks don't realize he could have come home quite quickly, because of his name, but refused.

With Barack Obama we get reminded not of his deeds for and towards others; with the exception of his hazy 'community organizing'; but of what he did for himself. That's a sure sign that you are an elitist.

When you haven't reached 50, but you have written two books, about yourself, it's hard not to be seen as an elitist snob. And he wonders why he's having a hard time connecting to Mr & Mrs Middle America.

In not too many weeks we'll be holding an election. The Democrats should be worried that the middle class they want to appeal to so badly, mostly through bribes and giveaways, will decided that they like the idea of a war hero and moose hunter better than the editor of the Harvard Law Review and a 35 year Washington insider.

Mr. Middle America probably used to dream of flying fighter jets, and shooting moose. His wife probably knows the pressure felt when trying to raise a family, hold a job, and still get dinner on the table, all the while dealing with the neighborhood gossip mongers.

None of them probably thought of getting a Harvard Law degree and being stuck in the Senate for 35 years.

Update from Yesterday's Post on ABC's Palin Interview.

Time Magazine's online poll question today is

Do you agree with Sarah Palin that the US should go to war to defend Georgia if necessary?

This, as was much of the Gibson interview, is a distortion of her actual position, and takes the answer to a hypothetical question and turns it into an absolute position.

Remember, she answered that IF Georgia was admitted to NATO AND Russia attacked, yes we would be required under the treaty to help defend them. Here actual position on circumstances as they are now is that economic pressure is the best way to get Russia to back off.

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Paglia Defends Palin

Camille Paglia, noted (but strange, imho) feminist has come out in defense of Sarah Palin in her latest Salon column. She doesn't defend her to the point of endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket, but instead by claiming that Palin represents a new kind of feminism that has to be approached and applauded by the uber-left feminists on the Gloria Steinham end of the spectrum.

She skewers the democratic party, and the partisans that are attacking Palin as the folks who will bring the party down, not save it (or us) from the 'evil right wing'.

The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.
I'd suggest the Democrats may not be able to adapt. The party has become so rigid in it's identity politics dogma, that any change is seen as abandoning a certain group and a slight to it.

While the pick of Joe Biden made sense in a foriegn policy sense for Obama, the women in the party are outraged that Hillary, who got as many votes as Obama, was left off the ticket. That doesn't mean that 90% of her female supporters are going to jump on the McCain-Palin bandwagon because there is a vagina on it, but a few will. Enough and it costs Obama the election.

Paglia makes another point about Palin, she represents something that many of the urban chic women of today don't get, but the folks who cling to god and guns do:

Perhaps Palin seemed perfectly normal to me because she resembles so many women I grew up around in the snow belt of upstate New York. For example, there were the robust and hearty farm women of Oxford, a charming village where my father taught high school when I was a child. We first lived in an apartment on the top floor of a farmhouse on a working dairy farm. Our landlady, who was as physically imposing as her husband, was an all-American version of the Italian immigrant women of my grandmother's generation -- agrarian powerhouses who could do anything and whose trumpetlike voices could pierce stone walls.
If someone has spent their life in Boston, New York, LA, or San Francisco this doesn't matter, it's a quaint story of "Americana" that those women don't understand. It should matter to the Democratic party, because the area that Barack Obama needs to make the most inroads is in rural white America. This is where Paglia's recollection of strong women is more the norm than thinking a pantsuit and Harvard Law degree is a sign of strength.

Or, as Paglia puts it:

Now that's the Sarah Palin brand of can-do, no-excuses, moose-hunting feminism
-- a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter whose shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades has severely limited American feminism and not allowed it to become the big tent it can and should be. Sarah Palin, if her reputation survives the punishing next two months, may be breaking down those barriers. Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.

Paglia is correct, and on point with that statement, but unfortunately that same rigid dogma of identity politics she hates will keep Palinesque women out of the feminism tent.

The specific litmus test; pro-choice; which she alludes to has so much of the feminist movement's energy behind it; and has for 4 decades; that to allow a pro-life woman under the tent would probably destroy it; at least in Steinham and Co.'s eyes.

It is nonsensical and counterproductive for Democrats to imagine that pro-life values can be defeated by maliciously destroying their proponents. And it is equally foolish to expect that feminism must for all time be inextricably wed to the pro-choice agenda. There is plenty of room in modern thought for a pro-life feminism -- one in fact that would have far more appeal to third-world cultures where motherhood is still honored and where the Western model of the hard-driving, self-absorbed career woman is less admired.

But the one fundamental precept that Democrats must stand for is independent thought and speech. When they become baying bloodhounds of rigid dogma,Democrats have committed political suicide

While I disagree with Paglia on a lot of topics, and nearly all the time, she hit the nail on the head on both how to expand feminism, and save the Democratic Party with this column.

For those who doubt that, just consider the McCain-Palin ticket. For months we've been told that the 'religous right' wouldn't embrace a ticket with McCain on it. Now they've not only embraced him, they've become some of Palin's biggest advocates.

McCain himself fails half of the "Limbaugh Litmus Tests", but has suddenly energized the GOP. Limbaugh himself; self important gasbag that he is; has had to grudgingly accept his own wrongness on the idea of McCain getting killed by Obama in this race.

If the GOP, and Dittoheads can get behind a McCain type candidate, imagine what the Democrats, and feminists, could do if they ever got behind a strong, pro-life, woman. They might actually be able to win the White House, with a woman.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin The Hun?

So the Gibson interview with Sarah Palin has started getting into the press. A couple of thoughts, ABC's press release headline of "Palin: War Possible if Russia Invades Again" is designed to get people thinking one direction before actually listening to (or reading the transcript of ) what she said. (Quotes taken from the Chicago Tribune, I give attributes the first time I use them, Barack)

"Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help,'' Palin says in the interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson (in which she acknowledges that Georgia is not yet a NATO member, but says that, like Ukraine, it should be.)
Now, if you go to the Tribune, and read the comments, you find that a lot of folks were duped by the headline, and not the substance of the answer, in fact most missed the question (which already established IF Georgia were admitted to NATO):

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.

Worse would be if they weren't duped; which would mean many folks believe that we should dump allies as soon as something we don't want to get involved in happens. Then again, considering how the left was talking about NAFTA this spring, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Read the entire excerpt from the interview, and you find out that political and economic pressure on Russia is Palin's preferred method of getting them back into line, along with McCain's idea to toss them from the G-8. But most of the lefty commenters missed that part of it, they were already too fired up over the idea of her taking us to war against Russia, even if it was a hypothetical situation conjured by the interviewer.

Many commenters are also up in arms about the idea of allowing countries like Georgia, Ukrainia, and other former Soviet satellites into NATO. Following their logic, just like in the UN Security Council, Russia should have a veto power over who is admitted to NATO.

They don't want their former satellites in it, so we shouldn't allow them. That's a foriegn policy designed to gain friends (well, friend, Russia) and influence no one. Of course that follows the whole retreat to isolationism that the left has been advocating for the last 7 years. Don't upset anyone; well anyone important like Russia or France. Screw other democracies, like Georgia, and Ukrainia, and Poland, they aren't as well heeled as the French, so they aren't important enough to get involved with.

Think of the message that sends to those countries, who's people who spent 50 years trying to get out from under the oppressive thumb of the Soviets. Now they find the group that helped get them out is going to shove them right back under that thumb, lest they tick off the Russians? So much for US and NATO credibility in Central Europe.

Reading the comments from the lefties over at the Tribune makes clear to me why when pressed on foriegn policy, the left keeps coming up short.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is Plagiarism Contagious?

One now has to wonder if Joe Biden's plagiarism is a contagious disease. NewsBusters has a great piece up showing that Barack Obama's entire rant prior to the "Lipstick on a Pig" line was lifted from Tom Toles cartoon in the Washington Post on September 5th.

It will be interesting to see if this makes it into the mainstream media, or if they decide to ignore it. My guess is they will ignore it, unless it gets enough play from talk radio to force the issue.

It did come up in today's Washington Post political chat with Anne E. Kornblut, she didn't answer the question of whether it was going to be a problem, but at least acknowledged it happened. Hopefully someone from The Wall Street Journal, or better, the Washington Post, since it was their cartoon, will follow up on it.

Or, maybe the Centers for Disease Control should look into the idea that plagiarism is a PTD (Politically Transmitted Disease), and quarantine those who seem to be afflicted.

(H/T to Charlie)

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Running Scared

It's getting fun to watch as "The One" finds out that he may need to scratch January 21, 2009 out of his anointment appointment book.

White women and independents are flocking over to the McCain Palin ticket, and Joe Biden won't be helping by telling people that her being elected would be step backwards for women.

Barack Obama is in full defensive mode, not knowing how to react to the media that's suddenly being somewhat warm to the opponent, and realizing that a novice senator with no record, and a 35 year Washington insider aren't exactly "change agents".

The problem for him is his lack of a record is starting to show. While Palin can claim some legitimate (and some questionable) reform victories in Alaska, and McCain has a record of bucking his party, Obama's campaign folks claimed are grasping at straws for anything that might look like reform.

Sunday David Axelrod got caught with his pants down by Chris Wallace of Fox News, when he claimed that Obama's support of ethics reform and nuclear non-proliferation were items that "went against his party". Wallace was kind enough to point out to him that both of those items were passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, no roll call needed. That's not reform, that's following the herd.

While Obama has decided that Alaska keeping the "bridge to nowhere" money is bad; even if it's now being used for needed infrastructure improvements instead of the bridge; he voted for that money, twice.

My guess is that in the next 3 to 4 weeks we'll start seeing McCain ads about earmarks, that Obama will have to defend himself, and fellow Democrats against. Remember that in 2006 one of the hallmarks of the party taking over congress was that earmarks would get cut down.

Instead, last year Obama asked for $330 million, including money that went to the hospital his wife works at and companies represented by Joe Biden's lobbyist family members.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'm Back, and Yes, I Cried.

Okay, so we survived the trip to Ohio, and Daddy survived the wedding. It wasn't without mishap, but it was without disaster, and so everything is good.

We were blessed with a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding, luckily, since I ordered the tent one size too small.

We were able to get everything out of my truck, luckily, since I was rear ended the night before. No one was hurt, but the lady who hit me needs a new Mustang.

I didn't drop my drawers walking down the aisle, luckily, since they were held together with a safety pin and two hair clips. Thanks for those great pants, Men's Wear House.

The Bride and Groom were able to read their vows, luckily, since my son had to go back and get them from the Groom's house, five minutes before the ceremony.

Yeah, we got lucky on a bunch of stuff, but in the end, this picture made lucky good enough for me.

There are a ton of people to thank for pulling this off, and they all have special gifts coming to them.

Thanks to all of them for helping out!
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Something to Give Away

Well, I've got something to give away folks. This is no ordinary give away. This is hopefully a once in a lifetime deal.
I'm giving away my daughter.
I'll be out of here for the next 5 days as I travel to Columbus, Ohio for Maddie's wedding.

Not quite sure I'm ready for this, but then, I doubt few fathers ever are. She's been my little girl for so long I'm not sure that I can deal with handing her over to some other guy.

These are the way's I'd always like to remember her, as my little girl, or as that wonderful young lady in highschool.

Now, suddenly, I get this:
How did I go from a guy with a wife and kids at home to someone with two married kids?
And, since she'll have two step sons, all of the sudden I have 3 grandchildren? I'm not old enough for that.
I think about all the responsibility that comes with being married, and want to think she's not old enough, or ready enough for it, and maybe she should wait a year, or two, or 27, and come back here and be daddy's little girl again.
I know she's ready, but that doesn't mean I want her to be. I know if I accept that she's ready to be married I have to admit that she's all grown up, and not the cute little kid in the leotards anymore. And I'm not sure I'm ready for that.
I do know one thing, though. She may be turning into Mrs. Marshall Blake here in a few days, but she'll always be my little girl.
Good luck Maddie and Marshall.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Can Sarah Survive?

So, this weekend's big Kos created controversy, Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter has all the headlines today.

For those who missed it, and I don' t know how you could, I think the weather channel interrupted hurricane coverage to talk about it; Daily Kos writers claimed that Sarah Palin's youngest child is actually her daughters child.

Turns out it's not true (like much of anything you read on Kos is), and that Palin's daughter is in fact pregnant right now. The moonbats on the left, have gone nuts screaming about the hypocrisy of a "family values" person having a pregnant teenage daughter. Which is actually funny. Hypocrisy would be if she encouraged her daughter to have an abortion. Helping her daughter deal with an obvious mistake, and not tossing her aside is the definition of family values.

Keep in mind the folks who are screaming kicked John Edwards off of the platform in Denver when he admitted to his affair. And replaced him with Bill Clinton. That's hypocrisy, and a hilarious twist.

Back to Palin. Do I think this is something that could torpedo her as the VP choice? No. In fact, I think if the far left isn't careful those pissed off Hillary voters are going to take 3 steps to the right and defend Palin.

These are folks who were horribly indignant about the treatment Clinton got during the primaries, labeling a lot of it sexist, some of it rightfully so. They were more ticked off when the agent of change picked a 35 year DC insider white male as his running mate.

Now, as they watch the party try and attack another woman and destroy her, enough may get ticked to swing the election the "right" direction. Barack Obama, to his credit, knows this and has told his campaign the Palin daughter, and all children, are off limits.

In fact one slip of the tongue on the subject would flash up so many bad memories of the primaries for women in the Democratic party that Obama would probably have to behead the offending person to calm them down. Joe Biden, are you listening?

There is in fact, a new blog out there, the Sarah Palin Sexism Watch devoted to tracking the sexist remarks in the media about the Governor. It's already quite lengthy, with such luminaries as Campbell Brown going insane over the "choice" of Palin to raise a family and run for VP.

By the way, if you think it is okay to ask Palin why she's running for VP with young children and a pregnant daughter, make sure you ask Joe Biden why he didn't resign from the Senate when his wife died and he was left to raise two young sons.

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