Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mitch in Union Crosshairs

Governor DanielsPolls continue to indicate that Jill Long Thompson's campaign is pretty much finished.

Big labor, however, which bankrolled her efforts to the tune of over a million dollars (and even pledged a blank check that apparently bounced), isn't done yet.

They're not finished with Mitch Daniels and his free market program. Not by a long shot. If Mitch is reelected, his policies of involving the private sector to make the (previously heavily-unionized) public sector more efficient will continue. And they'll likely start to catch on in other states, given success here.

If that happens, these unions can kiss their millions in mandatory payroll deductions, otherwise known as union dues, goodbye.

The Citizens Action Coalition (CAC), a lefty group with significant union ties (they share a building with the Marion County Democratic Party, interestingly enough), created quite a stir last year for developing a website (www.concernedhoosiers.com). They used this website to solicit complaints from state employees about the Daniels administration.

The complaints were sought by Beryl Cohen, who seems to be a disaffected former FSSA executive who lost her job when Mitch Daniels took over and started to clean house in 2005.

In addition, these groups have been sending out postcards to welfare recipients and handing out flyers at events.

Heck, their own website contains a presentation about their rather interesting agenda. Although CAC wants individuals to believe they are impartial and interested in helping applicants, they provide minimal information on getting such problem situations resolved. They mostly seem to be interested in finding and calling attention to complaints.

This is nothing less than a union front organization that is coordinating an effort to fight Mitch's FSSA modernization program.

The Concerned Hoosiers program isn't about concern. It's about revenge for the unions being deprived of millions of dollars in mandatory payroll deductions, err, membership dues.

That's why there is a blank check from the public employees unions to defeat Mitch Daniels (though it seems to have bounced, or at least Jill Long Thompson hasn't been able to run a campaign capable of cashing it in). That's also why they've been organizing these other shadowy efforts behind the scenes to build up to their ridiculous lawsuits and their absurdly comical committee meetings.

And this isn't all. At least three other groups who have joined in this attack with CAC are nothing but union front groups. I'll get into them sometime later.

Fun with News Aggregators, Part XIX: More on Baron Hill and Fannie & Freddie

It seems that, in 2004, Baron Hill signed a letter urging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their lending to people in rural areas that wanted to buy homes:

At the press conference, which was attended by more Congressmen than reporters, Rep. Mark Green, R-Wisc., who authored a letter signed by 20 of his colleagues urging Fannie Mae to look for ways to expand ownership opportunities in rural markets, said the hinterlands are often forgotten when the topic of affordable housing is mentioned.

"When we talk about housing policy inside the Beltway, we're locked into the mindset of big city public housing," he said. "But most people have no connection to that."

Reps. Bob Ney, R-Ohio., Baron Hill, D-Ind., and Ken Lucas, D-Ky., whose districts are almost entirely rural, also were on hand to complement Fannie Mae's return to 95 percent lending in the country's heartland.

Rep. Lucas called it "a great day for millions of Americans," and Rep. Hill said the move "is not just about housing, it's about people's lives." Manufactured homes "are a great fit for a lot of people," Rep. Ney added.

As we have found out, lending by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has had catastrophic consequences for our economy.

And, as the article itself reveals, even as Baron was signing a letter urging Fannie and Freddie to make more loans to rural communities, there were serious questions about problems with their accounting practices.

Even then, Barney Frank was on hand to apologize for Fannie and Freddie's shady behavior:

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., whose Boston area district is decidedly non-rural but had nevertheless chided Fannie Mae for "turning away" from manufactured housing, labeled the announcement "one of the most important things to happen to make home ownership affordable to people who might otherwise be shut out of the market."

"This is both more and better," the ranking minority member of the House Financial Services Committee said in praising the initiative.

He also noted the apparent lack of interest on the part of the press in what he called "an essential part of any program to increase home ownership in America."

Had Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines been stopped for speeding on the way to the press conference, the media "would have been all over it," Rep. Frank said, referring to the deluge of stories in the popular and financial press about accounting errors and oversight at the company and its sister GSEs, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

"If you read those stories," the 12-term lawmaker said, "you'd never know these are housing companies."

Rep. Frank's comments gave Raines an opening to repeat his warning that any major change in the manner in which the GSEs are regulated could hurt his company's capacity to step forward when it is needed.

"Anytime you have to go to a regulator to approve a new product, you have to consider that our ability to mobilize this number of lenders would be greatly impeded," the Fannie Mae chairman said. "I'm not sure they'd even want to be our partners."

Baron seems to have been perfectly happy to sign on the dotted line in 2004, even as problems became known, to expose Hoosiers and Americans to the looming crisis that were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

New McCain Ad: "Rein"

“'Depressions Have Some Salutary Effects”

Liberals, it seems, will take the wrecking of the American economy, so long as it helps them win elections.

From the Campaign Spot:

I had thought the argument that Nancy Pelosi and various other Democrats tanked the bill because they think they'll benefit from the horrific economic consequences of inaction were too far-fetched, too conspiratorial, to put much stock in. These people aren't quite so cynical to push for a deep, lengthy recession to gain a few extra House seats, would they?

But it no longer looks so incredibly farfetched.

A Campaign for America's Future release that quotes Bob Borosage saying:

The bail out will take place simply to avoid that depression. But depressions have some salutary effects - the scoundrels go belly up, the weakest get purged. And, in the wake of the disaster, people demand strict regulation of the money lenders to keep their greed in check, and government spends money on the real economy to put people back to work.

The 130 founders of the Campaign for America's Future are a who's who of American liberalism.

These people are gleeful over widespread economic misery if they can get some agenda items enacted. This is who you're about to give power to, America.

(Ezra Klein disapproves of Borosage; but in the comments, one of the first responses is, "Let the whole damned system burn to the ground. Whatever their ideological leanings, left or right or in between, the elites of our society have proven themselves corrupt, craven, foolish, brutal, heartless, anti-democratic, and anti-human. Yes, let the whole damned society burn to the ground, sweep away the pathetic ashes of the malevolent, disgusting, warped edifice the elites have erected to imprison the people, and build a new, better America atop the grave.")

I'm reminded of that line from The Dark Knight: "Some men just want to watch the world burn."

Wow. Just, wow.

Tomorrow Belongs to Them

When I first saw this, I was reminded of the unsettling song sung by the young kid at the end of Cabaret, "Tomorrow Belongs to Me." I wasn't the only one; Captain Ed Morrissey at Hot Air thought the same thing. He also reports that the video itself was produced by Jeff Zucker, the President and CEO of NBC Universal.

Others thought of North Korean children singing to "Dear Leader."

“A Train Wreck of Astonishing Magnitude”

From Red State Update:

A Desperate & Pathetic Campaign

From Angry White Boy comes this hilarious email from the campaign of Jill Long Thompson and Dennie Ray Oxley II:

Dear Angry White Boy,

I’m at a fundraiser and the host offered to match every $50 contribution that we got in before midnight tonight.

I’m hoping you can give by that deadline and turn your $50 into $100. Can you click here and give today?


As you probably heard, the Indianapolis Star released a poll that has us in a statistical dead heat with Mitch Daniels and Becky Skillman. We are within striking distance and we need your help now!

Please go to our website - www.hoosiersforjill.com - and give today!

Thanks, Dennie

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

I don't know what's more entertaining. The fact that they faked this email (it clearly was not sent from Oxley's Blackberry), or that he is begging for only $50.

Before you know it, he will be claiming to be from Nigeria and will be asking for bank account numbers to transfer a large sum of money for a "mutually beneficial business proposal."

Daily Campaign Videos

New RNC Ad: "Worse"

A salient and valid point, one that I wish McCain had made more in the recent debate (and this ad proves that it can be made in thirty seconds or less, so it would be a good debate sound byte).

New McCain Ad: "Obama's a Hypocrite"

I touched on this same point yesterday.

Daily Funnies

Crap sandwich.
Day by Day: "Crap sandwich."

Bonnie and Clyde
Ramirez: Bonnie & Clyde.

Fiddler on the deck.
Varvel: Fiddler on the deck.

Pelosi's Partisanship Problem
Ramirez: Pelosi's partisanship problem.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"The Fix Is In, and It's Working"

From Instapundit:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: "Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working." I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted.

UPDATE: The Anchoress hears similar things. And reader Eric Schubert: "The Edwards debacle was proof enough of where the heart of the MSM lies, and lack of curiousity of the press about Edwards probably cost Hillary the nomination. And that shameful episode offers a warning to the MSM. What if Obama does have a skeleton in his closet (such as a shady deal or outright bribe) that is revealed after he wins the election? While the chance of this scenario is remote, imagine the backlash against the MSM if it could be shown that a reasonable investigation by the MSM would have easily revealed this secret to the public prior to the election?"

Obama Sought Rape Victim for Political Ad

Hat tip to Angry White Boy for finding this story from Politico:

Barack Obama’s campaign earlier this month sought to find a rape victim to appear in a campaign commercial, according to an e-mail obtained by Politico.

Kiersten Steward, director of public policy at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, served as a conduit between the campaign and victims and women’s advocates.

“Obviously, this is a big ask and I haven’t seen a script but presumably it will be a brief ‘this is what happened to me, we need someone who will fight for women like me, these are the guys to do it,’” Steward wrote in a Sept. 15 e-mail. “Again, that’s just my assumption, given how these things usually go.”

Steward, a former top aide to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), said the Obama campaign would have a crew in Washington and was hoping to film that week.

She didn’t respond to a message.

The Obama campaign wouldn’t detail the strategy behind finding an individual to discuss such a sensitive topic but did suggest the ad may be aimed at underscoring their candidate’s support for abortion rights and ongoing effort to retain those women who backed Hillary Clinton in the primary.

More likely the effort had to do with perpetuating the (proven-false) smear about Sarah Palin requiring rape victims to pay for rape kits in Wasilla.

Talk about the "new politics."

"Bailout" Plan Musings

Other right-of-center blogs have trumpeted the defeat of the rescue legislation.

You won't find that opinion here. It was a terrible, awful bill. But this is a terrible, awful situation. That vote was nothing to celebrate.

In the end, passing a short-term purity test on conservative principles will prove useless if the lack of rescue legislation torpedoes the market, sinks the economy into a deep recession or even depression, and causes a sharp turn toward interventionism and statism in the United States regardless of the party that is in power after November.

The last time that the country made that turn, in the 1930s, it was 1980 before it turned back. In that sense, a vote by conservatives against this legislation was a case of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Further, we're not talking about a limited or isolated situation here. A collapse of credit markets and banks in the United States will inevitably spread overseas. Already, European banks are failing too.

The collapse of American credit markets will rapidly spread to global credit markets, and we will see the entire world economy freeze up. Development and growth will halt. The global economy will contract. Unemployment will skyrocket. Not just here, but in developing countries as well.

We now face a situation that will undermine if not destroy the global free market system created after the end of the Cold War.

If you could go back in history to the fall of 1929 and spend the 1929 equivalent of $700 billion to prevent the Great Depression, would you do it?

If you had to set aside your principles to prevent the Second World War and the rise of Adolf Hitler, prevent the unemployment of one American worker in three, and prevent untold hardship on people worldwide, would you do it?

Would you try, even if you knew that the rescue plan might not work, but that there was a chance (of unknown probability) that it would?

There are no easy answers here, whether to those questions or others more oriented to the present day, which is why so many politicians take comfort in their native ideology (like Mike Sodrel). There's a certain noble aspiration and sense of reason there.

Others (like Baron Hill), less concerned with reason or personal beliefs, take solace in cravenly matching their vote to mere political expediency. There's nothing noble there, and the only reason is the cold calculation of holding on to power regardless of broader consequence.

Obama on the Fundamentals of the Economy

Here's your fundamentals of the economy, Senator Obama:

Stock Market, September 29, 2008
From Yahoo:

Dow plummets record 777 as financial rescue fails
Dow dives 777 points, biggest single day fall ever, as House rejects financial bailout package

NEW YORK (AP) -- The failure of the bailout package in Congress literally dropped jaws on Wall Street and triggered a historic selloff -- including a terrifying decline of nearly 500 points in mere minutes as the vote took place, the closest thing to panic the stock market has seen in years.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 777 points Monday, its biggest single-day fall ever, easily beating the 684 points it lost on the first day of trading after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

As uncertainty gripped investors, the credit markets, which provide the day-to-day lending that powers business in the United States, froze up even further.

At the New York Stock Exchange, traders watched with faces tense and mouths agape as TV screens showed the House vote rejecting the Bush administration's $700 billion plan to buy up bad debt and shore up the financial industry.

Activity on the trading floor became frenetic as the "sell" orders blew in. The selling was so intense that just 162 stocks on the Big Board rose, while 3,073 dropped.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index recorded a paper loss of $1 trillion across the market for the day, a first.

The Dow industrials, which were down 210 points at 1:30 p.m. EDT, nose-dived as traders on Wall Street and investors across the country saw "no" votes piling up on live TV feeds of the House vote.

By 1:42 p.m., the decline was 292 points. Then the bottom fell out. Within five minutes, the index was down about 700 points as it became clear the bill was doomed.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Video: Republicans Call for Regulation of Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, Democrats Refuse

This video effectively kills dead the spin the Democrats have been putting forward that this entire thing is due to Republicans blindly favoring deregulation.

The Republicans in this video are calling for more regulation (you don't see that very often), and the Democrats are insisting that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are just fine.

Of course, a few weeks ago we found out--to our woe--how "just fine" they were, and how wrong the Democrats were.

Around 3:17 there is a money clip of Republican Congressman Christopher Shays calls out the Democrats opposing the plan for taking campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie and their lobbyists.

The Gloves Come Off: Democrats Launch Negative Campaign to Defend Baron Hill

Baron Hill glares.I guess that recent poll showing such a tight race has them spooked.

From the Seymour Tribune comes this letter to the editor:

Flier distorts truth of sales tax legislation

To the Editor:

The anti-Sodrel flier in our mailbox Sept. 16 fails to mention that the sales tax bill he and 58 other U.S. representatives supported repeals all income taxes, payroll taxes, estate taxes and gift taxes.

Furthermore, it closes down and eliminates the IRS, the most disliked and oppressive agency of our federal government

For details, Google "hr25 109th congress" and visit www.fairtax.org to see why the Fair Tax is so important to our economic growth.

John McMillen
Brownstown, Ind.

I haven't blogged about this until now because I've been trying to get ahold of a copy or a scan of this Democrat-produced mailer. I hope to have scans soon.

It turns out that there are a whole series of them (at least three), replete with Photoshopped dark and grainy pictures and ominous warnings about Mike Sodrel's desire to raise taxes on Hoosiers simply because he supports the Fair Tax.

The Fair Tax is a proposal that involves eliminating many other taxes for a revenue-neutral outcome that would not raise taxes at all.

As the letter rightly points out, asserting that support for the Fair Tax is supporting increased taxes is a blatant distortion.

But let's be clear here. This was a negative mailing. It was demonstrably misleading, false, and untrue.

I'd like to say that it is the first negative attack of the campaign, because in large measure and in many important ways it is.

However, the award for the first negative attack and personal smear of this campaign goes to Baron Hill, who in May of last year personally attacked (and I mean personally attacked) Mike Sodrel in a public letter that was published in a newspaper.

Since then, all of the attacks, all of the smears, and all of the negative advertising has come from Democrats; the most visible example being this mailing.

The only efforts to have a positive campaign and an open, thoughtful discussion of the issues facing Hoosiers and America have come from Mike Sodrel.

It was Mike Sodrel who offered to create a bipartisan commission to police campaign advertising. It was Baron Hill who refused this proposal.

It was Mike Sodrel who offered to debate Baron Hill at town halls in every county in the district. It was Baron Hill who refused this proposal.

We can now see why. Baron couldn't agree to run a positive campaign, because it would get in the way of the negative campaign that he was already planning to wage and that his liberal allies in Washington are now also conducting on his behalf.

As Baron Hill said himself last time around, "Negative ads work."

Watch for yourself:

You can't teach Baron Hill new tricks. This is the only sort of politics he knows.

A Different Look at the Debate

Jay Cost has some interesting debate analysis over at Real Clear Politics.

Another Baron Lie: IU Student Newspaper Not Fooled by Baron's Spin on Speculators

Baron Hill on the AttackBaron's been exceptionally transparent with his phony pandering of late, and the Indiana Daily Student calls him on it:

Lately, Baron Hill has been looking more like a populist than an economist. This was evident in his support of the Commodity Markets Transparency and Accounting Act, which recently passed through the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill is supposed to increase regulation on oil speculators and lower the price of gasoline. The problem is that speculators aren’t to blame for the dramatic rise in oil and gas prices.

Hill would have us believe that this bill will significantly lower the price of oil, but almost any economist would disagree.

Economists like Daniel Yergin, chairman of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, say it is supply and demand shifts, not oil speculation, that are affecting the price of oil.

The rise in oil price earlier this summer, from less than $100 a barrel to more than $140, was caused by increasing demand in China and India coupled with decreased supply coming out of Nigeria, Russia, Venezuela and Mexico, Yergin said, testifying before Congress on June 24.

It’s easy for Hill and other congressional representatives to point at speculators and give the public an easy scapegoat. No one wants to tell their constituents there is nothing they can do to lower the price of gas when asking for their votes. Hill faces an especially large amount of pressure with what looks to be another close race against former Indiana 9th District Rep. Mike Sodrel.

Sodrel defeated Hill in 2004 but lost by 5 percent of the vote in 2006 and is back for another battle this year. Since then, the average gas price has increased from $2.45 to $3.75 nationally. Indiana has been one of the hardest-hit states, with the fifth most expensive gas in the country, according to the AAA.

Supporting a measure that promises to lower gas prices and punish greedy investors will go far to solidify Hill’s image as a populist, but it won’t do much to actually help his constituents.

It's an accurate and on-point editorial, but one that still (unfortunately) misses some of the most noteworthy facts that highlight the extent of Baron's pandering with regard to "speculators."

Legislation came before the House in 2000 to create the speculator loophole, a loophole that was sought more than anyone by Enron (it has since been called "the Enron Loophole" for this very reason).

Baron voted for that legislation. Moreover, he received campaign contributions from Enron before casting that vote.

As I have noted repeatedly, Baron Hill's record is clear. He only cares about gas prices when he is running for reelection. The rest of the time, he has voted consistently for higher gas prices by voting against oil drilling, for higher taxes on energy, and for the creation of this speculator loophole that (Baron himself now claims) is responsible for higher gas prices.

All of the pandering or "populist" spin in the world can't hide a record like that.

Daily Funnies

Red Planet: The Obama Bunch.

Varvel: An issue of trust.

Ramirez: Congress, the financial experts.

Varvel: No lifelines.

Ramirez: Fannie and Freddie's poodle.

New McCain Ad: "Promise"

Obamassiah Oops: Family of Soldier Asked The One to Stop Wearing Fallen Son's Bracelet

From Newsbusters:

Barack Obama played the "me too" game during the Friday debates on September 26 after Senator John McCain mentioned that he was wearing a bracelet with the name of Cpl. Matthew Stanley, a resident of New Hampshire and a soldier that lost his life in Iraq in 2006. Obama said that he too had a bracelet. After fumbling and straining to remember the name, he revealed that his had the name of Sergeant Ryan David Jopek of Merrill, Wisconsin.

Shockingly, however, Madison resident Brian Jopek, the father of Ryan Jopek, the young soldier who tragically lost his life to a roadside bomb in 2006, recently said on a Wisconsin Public Radio show that his family had asked Barack Obama to stop wearing the bracelet with his son's name on it. Yet Obama continues to do so despite the wishes of the family.

And the pertinent portion of the transcript of the interview:

Brian Jopek: Because of some of the negative feedback she's gotten on the Internet, you know Internet blogs, you know people accusing her of... or accusing Obama of trying to get votes doing it... and that sort of thing.

Radio Host Moberg: Yeah

Jopek: She has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media because she just didn't want it to get turned into something that it wasn't. She had told me in an email that she had asked, actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet any more at any of his public appearances. Which I don't think he's...

Moberg: It has been a while since he's brought it up.

Jopek: Right. But, the other night I was watching the news and he was on, uh, speaking somewhere and he was still wearing it on his right wrist. I could see it on his right wrist. So, that's his own choice. I mean that's something Barack Obama, that's a choice that he continues to wear it despite Tracy asking him not to...

If the family of Corporal Matthew Stanley asked John McCain to stop wearing their son's bracelet, you can bet that he'd do it.

You can also bet that, if he didn't, the media and the Obama campaign would stop at nothing to draw attention to his refusal to do so.

When the opposite is happening, however, you won't see the media draw any attention to it at all.

The Quotable Joe Biden

“But — and the ‘but’ was clearly inevitable — he doubts whether American voters are going to elect ‘a one-term, a guy who has served for four years in the Senate... I don’t recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan or a tactic.’”
- Joe Biden, in the New York Observer

Obama Campaign Office Gets Punked

Hat tip to The People's Cube.

527 Hits Obama for Attacking McCain's War Disability

A Brief History of the Mortage Crisis

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential Debate Reaction

It's been so long since a Republican clearly and decisively won a presidential debate that I had forgotten what it feels like when it happens. Tonight was a very pleasant reminder. Whatever else Republicans and conservatives might have to say about McCain, the man thinks well on his feet and excels at the free-wheeling exchange of town halls and debates.

Even in the economic portion of the debate, McCain's performance exceeded my (and probably virtually everyone's) expectations. If he had engaged on the economic portion on the terrain Obama wanted, on The One's vision of a more regulation-intensive and government-interventionist economy, he probably would have had a hard time given current events and the present economic climate.

But McCain did not engage on Obama's vision. He engaged on his own vision, which focused on restraining spending and slashing earmarks (highlighting his differences with Bush and the tarnished Republican brand in the process). And then Obama decided, incredibly and foolishly, to fight on that ground. The junior senator from Illinois got owned.

And it did not get any better. As the debate moved to foreign policy, McCain dominated. Obama was faltering. He seemed nervous. He blinked a lot and made frequent interruptions (which McCain ignored while making few of his own by comparison). He had to look at a bracelet on his own wrist to know the name of the soldier it supposedly belonged to (McCain did not need to look when making a reference to his own):

Even in this, Obama was on the defensive. "Me, too!" he seemed to proclaim, only to botch the already weak and absurd moment by not being able to make a smooth reference.

Obama spent most of his time agreeing with McCain. When he didn't, McCain spent most of his time explaining why Obama was wrong, mistaken, or just didn't understand. For all of the talk of McCain's temper and Obama's intention to "get under his skin," it was quite clearly McCain that got under Obama's skin.

Had the entire debate been about foreign policy, Obama's destruction would have been complete. As it stands, the lede of the debate is a simple one:

"I agree with John."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Clients of Linda Pence: The Yogurt Connection

You just can't make this stuff up...

Meet "The Yogurt Connection." In the 1980s, it was the largest marijuana-smuggling ring in history. Started around 1975, it spanned eleven states and shipped 125 tons of marijuana valued at anywhere between $50 and $100 million from Columbia, Jamaica, and Thailand. And it was operated out of (believe it or not) Indianapolis, Indiana.

The drug ring was operated by Linda Leary and her two sons, Richard and Paul Heilbrunn. The Yogurt Connection (a term coined by prosecutors at their trial) got its name from the yogurt franchise that the family owned.

Mrs. Leary and her sons were high class dealers. They sold drugs on the side and circulated, their dealing unknown, at the highest levels of Indianapolis society. Paul Heilbrunn was a broker and a financier. He wrote a column for a local business news magazine (his business acumen helped to launder the gang's drug money in various Caribbean and Latin American banks). The family made frequent loans to such places as a radio station and a cable company (and even to that ubiquitous hotel room staple, the Indianapolis Dining Guide).

Leary was the head of the Indy League of Women Voters and was president of the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women. She held fundraisers for the Indianapolis Zoo and publicly supported the drug enforcement policies and good government campaigns of Dick Lugar, who was then the mayor of Indianapolis.

A trail of violence followed the yogurt gang. Richard Heilbrunn was once shot four times at a drug meeting gone wrong and later walked with a limp. One employee of the drug ring (who actually shot Richard) ended up hanging himself in a jail in British Columbia in Canada; he supposedly killed himself to spare his younger brother, who was being used as leverage to prevent the employee from giving information to the authorities. The aforementioned article notes, "A string of unsolved murders were attributed to the gang, including the 1976 death of Philip Winkler, the son of an Indianapolis oil company executive. None were ever prosecuted." (10-30-2009 EDIT: The perils of citing Wikipedia; the parts about Philip Winkler have since been removed from the Wikipedia article, along with some of the supposed reasoning behind the guy hanging himself in the Canadian jail. The parts about the shooting at the drug meeting gone wrong and the jail hanging itself were also mentioned in the People Magazine article, cited below.)

For eight years, Leary and her sons lived a double life. In 1983, however, their luck ran out. The government arrested a cocaine distributor that was a former employee of the yogurt gang. In exchange for immunity, he agreed to tell all. By late 1985, Leary and her sons had fled the country to escape a grand jury investigation into their drug ring.

In 1987, four years after the arrested distributor tipped the government, the grand jury issued a 53-count indictment of Linda Leary, Richard Heilbrunn, Paul Heilbrunn, and thirty-plus people involved in the yogurt gang. By that time, Leary and her sons were long gone. Almost two years later, in the spring of 1989, they were found living the high life among a community of American expatriates in Salzburg, Austria.

The three were soon extradited to the United States for trial, where they were convicted and sent to prison. The archive of the New York Times and an issue (of all things) of People Magazine have more.

But when Leary and Sons were hiding in Austria, and Uncle Sam came calling, they knew which lawyer to call to keep them from being extradited back to the United States (or at least delay their extradition). And once they were back on American soil, they knew who to call to defend them.

Yup. They called Linda Pence.

But it's okay.

Linda Pence said when she started her campaign that she was going to fight drug dealers. She also said that she wasn't afraid to take them on. One could see why; she has a history of fighting for and defending them.

In November, Indiana gets to choose.

One choice is a guy that has made his career in public service, and in standing up for the good guys as the deputy of a popular and successful attorney general. That candidate, Greg Zoeller, has also been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

The other choice is someone that has made her career in the defense of shady characters, and in standing up for the bad guys. That candidate, Linda Pence, has been "endorsed" in by the likes of Sam Smith, Carl Liebowitz, the co-defendants of Bob Pastrick, and "The Yogurt Connection."

As I said, you can't make this stuff up.

If you wrote it for a movie or a television series, nobody would believe it.

An attorney general candidate that has defended convicted murderers, co-defendants in the biggest corruption case in state history, drug dealers, and corrupt state senators?

Nobody would buy that as a plot for a John Grisham novel or a Boston Legal multi-episode story arc, and Hoosier voters shouldn't either.

The Estimates of Joe Biden's Crowd Size for Jeff Visit Are Greatly Exaggerated

The Courier-Journal's Lesley Stedman gives an optimistic estimate:

"The guys supposedly wearing the striped shirts, the referees, were in fact asleep at the switch, not looking out for us at all," Biden told a crowd of about 2,300 supporters at Warden Park in downtown Jeffersonville.

The crowd count given by WHAS 11 was considerably less:

Biden scrapped a speech he had prepared for the event near the Ohio River for one about the ongoing crisis in the American economy. Biden spoke to a crowd of about 600 people for around 30 minutes.

Wave 3's estimate seems to be even less:

Biden drew applause Wednesday from the crowd of several hundred people as he said the troubles on Wall Street had exposed "the failed philosophy of the last eight years."

A Democrat friend of mine who attended the event told me that there were "probably a couple hundred" people present.

Eyeballing the photos provided by the Courier-Journal on their website (which include wide shots of the crowd from a variety of camera angles) would seem to indicate a crowd of a couple (or several) hundred. Six hundred would be an optimistic estimate; there were certainly not a thousand people present, let alone thousands or twenty-three hundred.

But hey, if a little massaging of the numbers by the media feeds the narrative and helps the cause, it's okay, right?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Favorite Color

The Diversity of Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana is a diverse and varied land. Take this recent article in Time Magazine as an example:

Perry County, home to Tell City (pop. 7,500), is known as a stronghold of Democrats, albeit more so of the Dixiecrat variety -- President Bush carried the county in 2000 and 2004. It delivered one of Obama's lowest tallies in last May's Indiana Democratic primary, when he captured just 35% of the vote against 65% for Sen. Hillary Clinton. Tell City's mayor, Barbara Ewing, was a staunch Clinton supporter partly because, she says, "She's been in politics for years. I thought we could get two [Clintons] for one."

Still, she says, once Obama won the nomination, local Democrats swung behind him. "We saw enthusiasm for Barack ," she says of the night local party activists gathered to watch the TV broadcast of his acceptance speech. "People realized that as voters, as Hoosiers, this is a crucial time for our country." Given Southern Indiana's social conservatism, Ewing concedes some voters may be energized by Palin. So, what role will Obama's blackness play in a region with no deep record of electing people of color? "In reality," Ewing said, carefully choosing her words as she at a bench outside city hall, "I think it could be an issue for some people here. That's just the sad truth."

But Obama has other factors working in his favor: His campaign has built an extensive grassroots network with 32 field offices in the state. He is familiar to voters in Indiana's Northwest corner, which falls within the Chicago media market. And he is also expected to perform well in Indianapolis, given its large black population.

McCain campaign's structure here is comparatively weak. Rather than opening dedicated field offices, the campaign has bundled operations in county Republican headquarters that also manage outreach for Gov. Daniels' reelection bid. In Perry County, and certainly much of the state, McCain is hardly visible against the "Farmers for Obama" signs attached to scores of trees along two-lane roads.

So why do I say that southern Indiana is so diverse?

No, I'm not being sarcastic with regard to a certain quote by a Democrat about other Democrats in the aforementioned article.

I live in southern Indiana, and I have never once seen one of these "Farmers for Obama" signs. That doesn't mean that they aren't around (though Perry County is only twenty or so miles from Corydon as the crow flies). It just means that southern Indiana is diverse.

And on a recent drive up to Bloomington a bit more than a week ago, I noticed that Obama signs of any sort were similarly thin on the ground until you got into Monroe County and Bloomington. You don't see a lot of them around in any of the other counties either.

I wouldn't say that Democrats or the Obama campaign created a Potempkin village in Perry County for the benefit of Time Magazine. That would require an extraordinary level of cynicism, and I'm not that cynical. Instead, one must reason that southern Indiana is just really diverse (and there are union mine workers in Perry County).

But to say from the isolated example of Perry County that there is a vast Obama groundswell here is just laughable. McCain-Palin signs were sparse on the ground until about a week ago, when the signs started to arrive, but the demand for signs and the support for the ticket was substantial and somewhat surprising. Obama, who seems to have no lack of signs, has the opposite problem and seems to lack demand for them. Perry County is clearly the exception, rather than the rule.

Yesterday, I marked an important milestone. I saw the sixth Obama yard sign in Harrison County; they appear so infrequently in yards that I can easily count and keep track of them. And that count of six includes those that were blown away in the recent wind storm. Jill Long Thompson signs are similarly scarce. Mitch signs are sparse on the ground, but that's because the regional coordinator hasn't gotten off of his rear end and brought us some signs.

The windows of the county Democratic headquarters are plastered with the signs of various party nominees. Every candidate is represented, except Barack Obama. At a recent festival, the Democrats had a booth, replete with candidate yard signs. No Obama signs were to be seen, though they did have a lone "McSame" yard sign (which they got from somewhere after the first day and put out on day two in response to the "NOBAMA" and "Sarah!" yard signs at the nearby GOP booth).

By contrast and comparison, we got our first shipment of McCain-Palin yard signs last Thursday night, and we started giving them out on Friday afternoon. Over a hundred people had already signed up requesting a yard sign in advance of their arrival, and at least that many again didn't want to sign up but said they would check back again once they saw the signs start to show up in yards.

We ordered 275 McCain Palin yard signs (and have more on the way this week). By Monday evening, there were 115 left at county party headquarters (I counted them). That means that we gave out 160 yard signs in four days. Compare that to the total of six Obama yard signs I mentioned above.

I'd imagine that, if the Time Magazine folks came to Harrison County to do their story instead of Perry County, they would conclude the opposite of their above assertion. Their piece could very well say "In Harrison County, and certainly much of the state, Obama is hardly visible against the blue and white 'McCain-Palin' signs present in scores of yards."

Like I said, southern Indiana is diverse.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday, Harry Reid didn't know what to do and he wanted John McCain to come back to Washington to help with the financial crisis:

Well, today McCain decided to listen, stop his campaign, and go back to Washington to help deal with the situation.

Now, suddenly, Harry Reid has changed his mind. Obama, meanwhile, got his marching orders from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and decided that he didn't need to come back to D.C. Guess he's going to vote "present", or maybe not be present at all.

UPDATE: President Bush has called Obama back to Washington.

The Quotable Joe Biden

“The more people learn about them (Obama and Hillary) and how they handle the pressure, the more their support will evaporate.”
- Joe Biden, at Huffington Post

The McCain Ties to Fannie & Freddie Myth

Geraghty pops that balloon pretty convincingly over at The Campaign Spot:

The Obama camp says Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought John McCain by hiring Rick Davis [McCain's campaign manager].

Let me help with this tough question: No.

You know how we know this? Because while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were paying Rick Davis, John McCain was sponsoring legislation to tighten controls on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, legislation that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac opposed fervently. The legislation McCain backed specifically declared that the new regulatory agency would be assigned to ensure "each regulated entity operates in a safe and sound manner, including maintenance of adequate capital and internal controls."

You would think McCain was psychic, or something.

The proposed legislation, unfortunately, was eventually killed in the Senate and never got passed.

Geraghty explains that, too:

One of the reason it went nowhere? The opposition from guys like Barack Obama. You know, the guy taking more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's folk than anybody else except Chris Dodd.

So let me spell it out for you even clearer, Dan. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae didn't have to buy access to John McCain because they had already bought your guy.


Zero < Hero.

They Obviously Know What They Are Doing

It's not like Congressional Democrats need a FAQ or a glossary to explain the financial crisis to them.

Oh wait.

New McCain Ad: "The Coal Miner"

Hitting Biden for his recent idiotic comments about doing away with clean coal and coal power plants.

Anne Northup's First Ad

For all of the attention that has been given to Mike Sodrel not having put up his first television ad yet, it's easy to forget that Anne Northup (in a highly competitive race just across the river in Louisville) is only now airing her own first commercial.

Obamassiah to Have Own Currency

First came the talk of healing the planet. Then came his own presidential seal. Then came the Greek temple setting for his speech.

Now comes coinage for The One:

The coins already sold to the Democrats will be presented to the senators, congressmen, governors and other politicians they are being given to within the next two weeks.

There will also be a television advertising campaign launched in the US.
The company directors got the idea of producing the coins after seeing actress Meryl Streep talking about Barack Obama on a television programme.

When they got in touch with the Democrats the party jumped at the chance. And the coins have proved such a hit that locally produced versions have already been launched to compete with the UK originals.

The coins show Senator Obama’s face, along with a picture of the White House and the legend “President of the United States of America”.

Normally, you have to be King or win an election and, you know, do something important when in office to get your face on money. Now, though, it seems that things seem to be reversed.

NRA Runs Ads Against Obama

Timely Remarks

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Best Get Out the Vote Video I've Ever Seen

And the website.

"A Guy Who Lives in My Neighborhood"

Stanly Kurtz takes an in-depth look at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the relationship between Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama and unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers. Read the whole thing.

Pelosi & Dems to Risk Government Shutdown Over Extension of Drilling Ban?

From Human Events:

House Democrats are bypassing renewal of the offshore oil drilling ban by including the entire Pelosi “drill nothing” energy bill in a draft of a Continuing Resolution. HUMAN EVENTS obtained a copy of the most recent House draft CR this morning.

The Pelosi bill, HR 6899, fails to open more than a miniscule part of the available offshore drilling areas and -- even worse -- it establishes permanent bans on development of most other domestic energy sources (natural gas, oil shale, etc.) and does nothing to develop nuclear power. It passed the House earlier this month and is now languishing in the Senate as a separate measure.

As one member of Congress said last week, it’s got more incentives for bicycle riding than for nuclear power.

Now, the House leaders have included the “drill nothing” bill in a new draft Continuing Resolution. According to the document we obtained, Section 152 of the draft CR says:

SEC. 152. Notwithstanding section 101, the terms and conditions for Federal oil and gas leasing set out in title I of the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 6899), as passed by the House of Representatives on September 16, 2008, shall apply in lieu of the terms and conditions in sections 104, 105, and 433 of division F of Public Law 110–161.

Congress must pass a continuing resolution before September 30 in order to prevent a government shut-down for lack of funding.

(The Democratic leadership has managed to do what hasn’t been done for about 70 years: go through an entire year without passing a single appropriations bill. Without appropriations measures, government agencies lack funds to operate. The CR will include measures to keep all agencies going at least until congress returns either later this year or when it reconvenes next year.)

Senate sources tell HUMAN EVENTS this draft is dead on arrival.

However, there is every reason to believe that this maneuver will be repeated later this week, and that the House and Senate Democrats will make it a part of any deal with the President on his financial bailout package.

Stay tuned. This is getting uglier by the moment.

Our economy is shell-shocked and our financial markets teeter on the brink, and Democrats are willing to risk it all just to appease the greenie environmentalist lobby?

Shooting from the Hip

2nd Gubernatorial Debate a Snore, Except...

...for the decision by Mitch Daniels, as noted by Howey, to endorse the suggestions of the Kernan-Shepard Commission, tonight's gubernatorial debate was uneventful. Long Thompson landed no further blows outside of the repetition of talking points that Democrats have been making for more than three years. Again, her mentions of more recent issues, such as the use of state aircraft and the sales tax on gasoline, rang hollow and appeared to gain no traction. From a campaign with resources and potential, such attacks appear to be meaningful and substantive critiques. From a campaign that is broke and has been in the doldrums since the primary, such attacks are a flailing and shrill whine of a loser.

Long Thompson's ghastly appearance--a veritable carrot-topped ghoul in baby blue with Emperor Palpatine bags under her eyes--seemed to reflect her lifeless campaign and her ceaselessly negative tone (not that Mitch's purple, or maybe royal blue, tie was much better; the lighting on the set was awful).

For Mitch to appear to endorse the remaining some twenty-four provisions of the controversial Kernan-Shepard report is a bold stroke, and one that is not without significant political downside. If Jill Long Thompson is really down for the count and out of the race, Mitch can get away with such a position. At the very least, he just shaved a few percentage points off of his eventual margin of victory.

Also noteworthy was the packing of the audience questioners with lefty Bloomington activists, such as tree-hugging forestry activist Andy Mahler and pro-abortion Rabbi Mira Wasserman. Debate organizers had pledged to filter out questions from such partisans and vet the questioners. They obviously either failed to do so, or were misled.

And yet even with such a favorable crowd and such skewed sources for questions, Jill Long Thompson was still unable to accomplish anything, and Mitch Daniels emerged not merely unscathed, but having addressed unfriendly questions surprisingly well.

"Obama Street Walkers Needed"

From Angry White Boy.

Congressional Experts

New Poll Shows Tight Race in the 9th

It's a tight race, and much closer than some might have thought, according to a new poll from Wilson Research. The executive summary is available here.

SurveyUSA, which commissioned a poll over the same time frame indicating a dramatically different result, has never polled accurately in the 9th District. In 2004, when Sodrel won, their polling indicated a margin for Hill outside of the margin of error. In 2006, when Hill won by 5%, their polling indicated a narrow margin in favor of Sodrel.

So where do the two divergent polls leave the race, beyond it being another down-to-the-wire battle in the bloody 9th? My own guess is that, if Sodrel was running a more vigorous campaign beyond his existing grassroots efforts and below-the-radar campaigning (something with significant air time buys and so forth), he would hold a lead right now.

It's amazing that he has run a campaign this low-profile and it is this close. He's almost channeling John Hostettler or something.

A few other factors cannot be overlooked. The last time that the 9th District was represented by a Democrat in the majority was in 1994. Since then, Democrats elected here have never had to take ownership of the policies of their party. They could always be comfortably distant from them. While they might be whipped on floor votes from time to time by their more liberal party leadership, these were easy to explain away, they were never actually implemented, and Congress was not hugely unpopular anyway.

That is no longer the case here. Congress is very unpopular and the liberal tack being pursued by Nancy Pelosi's majority is far out of line with the conservative sensibilities of even a lot of Democrats in the 9th District. Baron Hill's endorsement of Barack Obama, another person whose views are far out of line with the conservative sensibilities of the district, is another factor to consider.

Your average self-described 9th District Democrat doesn't have a whole lot in common with the Democrats that run the House of Representatives right now, and they don't have a whole lot of shared ideology with them either. They have a whole lot more in common with the Republicans.

They may be yellow dog Democrats ("I'd sooner vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican," they say), but even that loyalty--generations old as it might be--has to give way when compared to the most unpopular and liberal Congress in history.

The Wilson poll seems to bear through these fault lines. Immigration, gas prices and oil drilling, taxes, and Hoosier values all favor the conservative Republican candidate. The 62% number of those opposing Baron Hill's reelection (either in being willing to consider someone else or already voting for someone else) is simply staggering.

And, as a longer-term consideration, I offer one final thought. Look at the donut (or "collar") counties around Marion County. Indianapolis is a blue center to a dark-red donut, a trend that has emerged gradually over time. This is a trend that is being seen in urban areas across the country.

Indiana's 9th District adjoins two such urban areas (Cincinnati and Louisville) where Republicans and conservatives are migrating from liberal and Democrat-inclined cities and their immediate environs to surrounding counties (suburbs and so-called exurbs). As these people migrate from Louisville and Cincinnati, nearby counties in both Kentucky and Ohio are becoming more Republican.

Counties in Indiana adjoining these urban areas are no different, and the migration causing the ranks of Republicans in such counties to swell is complemented by the disconnect many conservative Democrats now feel toward the ideological bent of their party leadership. And, importantly, it is inevitable that these two growing trends are going to eventually surpass any liberal voting block in Bloomington and Monroe County.

And when Red Bloomington drowns in the redness of the increasing conservative and Republican redness of the rest of the district, that will be all she wrote. The 9th District will look a lot more like the 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th. National figures like Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, though for very different reasons, are accelerating this trend.

The Clients of Linda Pence: Carl Liebowitz

Ah, the miracle of Google.

Meet Carl Liebowitz, a lawyer and "promoter of tax shelters." In 1984, a grand jury started looking into the legalities of Liebowitz's tax shelters. Two years later, Liebowitz became concerned that his business partner, Gary Van Waeyenberghe, was going to testify against him before the grand jury.

So Carl Liebowitz went to a guy named Donald Wrobel and hired him for a hit on his partner's life. Wrobel tried to murder the partner, failed, and was eventually arrested. Wrobel and Liebowitz were eventually convicted.

Court documents indicate that Liebowitz lured his partner to a phone booth to receive a call from him at an appointed hour. Wrobel, armed with a rifle and a pistol, was hiding nearby. The phone in the booth rang. Liebowitz, on the call, spoke to his partner, saying, "I hear you've been talking to the feds." At that moment, Wrobel fired at the phone booth, shattering the glass, but missing Van Waeyenberghe.

Phone records later showed that Liebowitz had made calls to the phone booth in question from his own telephone. Wrobel and Van Waeyenberghe eventually corroborated each others' testimony. Further, as the Seventh Circuit ruling noted, "tape-recorded conversations between Wrobel and Leibowitz that allude unmistakably to the existence of the murder-for-hire scheme."

Liebowitz, who was eventually disbarred, was found guilty and set about a series of appeals to get himself out of prison. These appeals and court documents are all publicly available (here, here, here, here, and here; they provide interesting insights into the case).

Liebowitz and Wrobel somehow ended up in the same prison, where Wrobel suddenly decided to change his mind about his earlier testimony. Wrobel signed affidavits--prepared for him by Liebowitz--recanting his testimony. This led to an appeal by Liebowitz.

The appeal was eventually denied (remember all of the other evidence I mentioned above, like the phone records, the corroborated testimony, and the tape recordings?). The Seventh Circuit took a dim view of testimony that was suddenly recanted, in prison, in the presence of a fellow prisoner who was going to benefit from the sudden change of heart. Strange things happen in prisons, after all.

Carl Liebowitz's lawyer in this appeal? You guessed it. Attorney General candidate Linda Pence.

Sure, lots of lawyers defend scum from time to time. It's part of being a lawyer. But those lawyers tend to not want to become the attorney general. There's just something about Linda Pence. She's always defending these characters and it's not like this is noble public defender work or anything.

From corrupt state senators tied to the misuse of state funds (and tax evasion), to a co-defendant in the biggest corruption case in recent Indiana history, to shady businessmen that try to whack their partners, Linda Pence has this habit of showing up to defend the shady types. She also has this habit of trying to hide her past from Hoosier voters.

Why on earth would anyone want to vote for an attorney general--a good guy if there ever was one--with such a record of fighting hard (and often failing) to defend the bad guys?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Obama Praises McCain's Record of Reform

Just words.

How Democrats Created the Financial Crisis

From Bloomberg:

The financial crisis of the past year has provided a number of surprising twists and turns, and from Bear Stearns Cos. to American International Group Inc., ambiguity has been a big part of the story.

Why did Bear Stearns fail, and how does that relate to AIG? It all seems so complex.

But really, it isn't. Enough cards on this table have been turned over that the story is now clear. The economic history books will describe this episode in simple and understandable terms: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exploded, and many bystanders were injured in the blast, some fatally.

Fannie and Freddie did this by becoming a key enabler of the mortgage crisis. They fueled Wall Street's efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools. In addition, they held an enormous portfolio of mortgages themselves.

In the times that Fannie and Freddie couldn't make the market, they became the market. Over the years, it added up to an enormous obligation. As of last June, Fannie alone owned or guaranteed more than $388 billion in high-risk mortgage investments. Their large presence created an environment within which even mortgage-backed securities assembled by others could find a ready home.

The problem was that the trillions of dollars in play were only low-risk investments if real estate prices continued to rise. Once they began to fall, the entire house of cards came down with them.

Turning Point

Take away Fannie and Freddie, or regulate them more wisely, and it's hard to imagine how these highly liquid markets would ever have emerged. This whole mess would never have happened.

It is easy to identify the historical turning point that marked the beginning of the end.

Back in 2005, Fannie and Freddie were, after years of dominating Washington, on the ropes. They were enmeshed in accounting scandals that led to turnover at the top. At one telling moment in late 2004, captured in an article by my American Enterprise Institute colleague Peter Wallison, the Securities and Exchange Comiission's chief accountant told disgraced Fannie Mae chief Franklin Raines that Fannie's position on the relevant accounting issue was not even ``on the page'' of allowable interpretations.

Then legislative momentum emerged for an attempt to create a ``world-class regulator'' that would oversee the pair more like banks, imposing strict requirements on their ability to take excessive risks. Politicians who previously had associated themselves proudly with the two accounting miscreants were less eager to be associated with them. The time was ripe.

Greenspan's Warning

The clear gravity of the situation pushed the legislation forward. Some might say the current mess couldn't be foreseen, yet in 2005 Alan Greenspan told Congress how urgent it was for it to act in the clearest possible terms: If Fannie and Freddie ``continue to grow, continue to have the low capital that they have, continue to engage in the dynamic hedging of their portfolios, which they need to do for interest rate risk aversion, they potentially create ever-growing potential systemic risk down the road,'' he said. ``We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.''

What happened next was extraordinary. For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets.

Different World

If that bill had become law, then the world today would be different. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, a blizzard of terrible mortgage paper fluttered out of the Fannie and Freddie clouds, burying many of our oldest and most venerable institutions. Without their checkbooks keeping the market liquid and buying up excess supply, the market would likely have not existed.

But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter.

That such a reckless political stand could have been taken by the Democrats was obscene even then. Wallison wrote at the time: ``It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit. The Democrats and the few Republicans who oppose portfolio limitations could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing.''

Mounds of Materials

Now that the collapse has occurred, the roadblock built by Senate Democrats in 2005 is unforgivable. Many who opposed the bill doubtlessly did so for honorable reasons. Fannie and Freddie provided mounds of materials defending their practices. Perhaps some found their propaganda convincing.

But we now know that many of the senators who protected Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, have received mind-boggling levels of financial support from them over the years.

Throughout his political career, Obama has gotten more than $125,000 in campaign contributions from employees and political action committees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, second only to Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman, who received more than $165,000.

Clinton, the 12th-ranked recipient of Fannie and Freddie PAC and employee contributions, has received more than $75,000 from the two enterprises and their employees. The private profit found its way back to the senators who killed the fix.

There has been a lot of talk about who is to blame for this crisis. A look back at the story of 2005 makes the answer pretty clear.

Oh, and there is one little footnote to the story that's worth keeping in mind while Democrats point fingers between now and Nov. 4: Senator John McCain was one of the three cosponsors of S.190, the bill that would have averted this mess.

On the great issues of our time, from Iraq to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Barack Obama has been wrong and John McCain has been right.

Obama's Teleprompter Fails

New McCain Ad: "Chicago Machine"

Obama Retreats from North Dakota

Via the Campaign Spot:

Every election year, we hear candidates pledging that they're going to "broaden the map" and "put states in play" that weren't the previous cycle. Every year, candidates' strategists respond to questions about what states are in play by exuberantly reciting a list of states that sound like Howard Dean's Iowa rant.

And then, as summer turns to fall, and resources start getting limited, they choose to focus. Team Obama has pulled its people out of Georgia, out of Alaska, and their North Dakota folks are being transferred to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

As of July 30, Obama had spent more on television adverstising in North Dakota ($160,000) than in Indiana ($88,000).

Team Obama spent $22,000 in North Dakota in the week after the conventions; Team McCain spent less than $1,000.

Meet the new map, same as the old map.

Day by Day

The Charlie Rangel School of Taxation

A Message from Comrade Bush

Astroturfing, David Axelrod & the Smearing of Sarah Palin

A little investigative blogging by The Jawa Report indicates interesting ties between Obama's chief media strategist, David Axelrod (the supposed master of phony grass roots campaigns, known as "astroturfing"), and the smearing of Sarah Palin.

That's supposed to be transcending politics? By creating innovative and new ways to spread lies and conduct personal smears against your political opponents?

UPDATE: The aforementioned link has been updated. Overnight, in the wake of the posting, efforts began by whoever had the various accounts on YouTube and other sites to delete those accounts and eliminate all traces of their activities in smearing Sarah Palin. Ace has more. It's never the act itself that gets you, as the saying goes, it's the coverup.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Baron Lie: "I'm for Drilling"

At a recent town hall meeting, Baron Hill proclaimed repeatedly his support for oil drilling:

Baron's conversion did not exactly happen on the road to Damascus and it is not very believable. Once again, his assertions here in Indiana do not match his voting record in Washington.

It's interesting to note that Baron's latest television ad, which focuses on energy, is utterly devoid of any mention of drilling (despite his supposed and professed support for it). Somehow, I don't think that an exclusive focus on regulations, lawsuits, red tape, and alternative energy is going to solve the problem. It's certainly not going to do anything in the short term.

In Indiana, Baron Hill likes to say he is for drilling.

In Washington, Baron Hill has voted twelve times against expanded oil drilling (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight times against offshore drilling, plus one, two, three, four times against drilling in ANWR).

Baron's positions are nothing new. Eight of those twelve votes (four against offshore drilling, and four against drilling in Alaska) came before he got sent packing in 2004. But four of those votes came after he got reelected in 2006 on a campaign promise of lowering the price of a gallon of gasoline.

In 2007, Baron has even voted against tapping vast deposits of oil shale right here on land in the lower 48 states. There are estimates that American oil shale deposits contain five times more oil than the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

Instead of voting for drilling, facts show that Baron has voted repeatedly against oil drilling for many years. Recently, he voted for fig-leaf drilling legislation supported by Nancy Pelosi that would supposedly open a handful of areas to drilling, but the legislation Baron voted for was going to put such heavy restrictions and disincentives on the drilling that nobody would want to drill there.

Again and again, Baron Hill comes to Indiana and tells Hoosiers one thing.

He then returns to Washington and votes differently.

If Baron Hill "believes in drilling", if he's "for drilling", then why doesn't his voting record support that assertion?

Barack Hoover Obama

Record Crowds for Palin in Florida

From Politico:

Sarah Palin tonight attracted the largest crowd yet to any Republican campaign event this cycle, drawing tens of thousands of Floridians out in a conservative-leaning retirement community north of Orlando for a solo rally.

Exactly how many voters Palin, making her first campaign trek to the Sunshine State, had in The Villages is uncertain.

Mike Tucker, a local fire marshal, estimated 60,000. But reporters on the ground, including AP's Brendan Farrington and my colleague Ken Vogel, would only say "tens of thousands," suggesting the marshal's estimate was on the high side. The St. Pete Times's Adam Smith had another fire official in the crowd say it was about 25,000.

Regardless, the size of the crowd underscores just how enthused conservatives are for Palin and the sort of buzz she's still able to drive nearing a month after her introduction as John McCain's running mate.

Republicans can always draw good crowds out at the sprawling Villages -- exactly a year ago I saw Fred Thompson thronged like a matinee idol there -- but the Florida GOP is saying tonight that Palin's crowd broke state attendance records. At the very least, it outpaced the 15,000 President Bush drew to the retirement community four years ago.

To reiterate: An Alaska governor who was virtually unknown a month ago and is the number two on the presidential ticket may have doubled or tripled the crowd for a sitting president.