Bipartisan Plunder

September 18, 2008

It’s rare when a major media outlet actually supports my position, that many of the things that are wrong with this country are the product of both parties’ and ideologies’ actions or inactions. But finally, at least one has done so. This past Sunday the Washington Post published an exposé of the failure of FNMA and FHLMC (better-known by the nicknames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) and the causes of the sub-prime mortgage lending practices that — after the article was published — led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG:

As policymakers now set out to decide what role government, and the two companies, should play in the mortgage business, the failures of the past two decades offer a cautionary tale.

Blessed with the advantages of a government agency and a private company at the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used their windfall profits to co-opt the politicians who were supposed to control them. The companies fought successfully against increased regulation by cultivating their friends and hounding their enemies.

The agencies that regulated the companies were outmatched: They lacked the money, the staff, the sophistication and the political support to serve as an effective check.

A parade of partisan minions from both parties moved through the halls of Freddie and Fannie (the latter more frequently). People on both sides of the ideological divide were able to “cash in,” landing lucrative do-nothing jobs, while the legions of pseudo-bankers who infested these agencies led the country into a morass of poor lending practices. Meanwhile, other folks — some also in government, but many in the private sector — profited handsomely as the US real-estate market was artificially propped up.

That’s right … the whole impetus behind “sub-prime lending” was to bring even more money into real estate once the market had become saturated and it appeared real-estate prices might deflate (sometime in 2003 or 2004 depending on the locale). Public figures and private magnates managed to keep the values of their real-estate holdings high, and made a good deal of money at it.

Don’t be fooled by anyone who says they didn’t see this coming, or that one party or the other was most to blame: It’s a lie. Everything that happened was foreseeable (even if perhaps no one wished to see it), and both parties and ideologies profited from it.

The Post’s sister site, Slate, published a story on Tuesday which cataloged many of the folks — from both parties — who were part of the parade of political minions who participated in the “Fannie/Freddie payoff” — and yes, they come from both parties. The Slate story’s headline is telling … “Fannie Mae and the Vast Bipartisan Conspiracy: A list of villains in boldface.”

I had not thought any media outlet capable of actually admitting to any “bipartisan conspiracy,” but there it is, from the respected Post/Newsweek company.


Wow … Ya Think?

September 17, 2008

You know, up until now I wasn’t quite sure what was going on in this election. Really. It was all a mystery. But Gov. Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas finally figured it all out, and was happy to explain it for us ignoramuses who didn’t know:

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius publicly considered the possibility that Sen. Barack Obama’s race might be a factor in this year’s presidential election during an appearance here Tuesday.

“Have any of you noticed that Barack Obama is part African-American?” Sebelius asked in response to a question about why the election is so close. “That may be a factor. All the code language, all that doesn’t show up in the polls. And that may be a factor for some people.”

I really must congratulate the Governor for arriving at this determination and then informing us. I honestly had no idea, until now, that Sen. Barack Obama was an African-American! I simply hadn’t known! How wonderful of the Gov. to inform me!

OK, end of sarcasm.

Please. This is getting old already. Yes, Obama is African-American. Yes, some whites will not vote for him because of that. So yes, it does make a little bit of difference.

But if you think this election is about Sen. Obama’s race, guess again. The same issues would matter, regardless of who the Democratic party chose as its nominee!

This is an example of two tactics: First, hypertriviality (i.e. making a big deal out of something minor), and second, emotivism (i.e. dismissing as a racist anyone who won’t vote for Obama). Sorry, Kathleen, I ain’t taking that bait.

Sarah Palin, Defiant!

September 17, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin is resisting the Alaska legislature’s investigation into her firing of her public-safety commissioner. I suppose that’s understandable, no one (politician or otherwise) typically wants an investigation into their affairs to go far. But worse than her simply not cooperating, there’s now an effort underway to use the courts to terminate the investigation:

Five Republican state lawmakers on Tuesday filed a lawsuit seeking to halt an inquiry into Gov. Sarah Palin’s dismissal of her public safety commissioner, arguing that the Legislature has exceeded its authority by conducting a “McCarthyistic investigation.”

The lawsuit, filed in the state’s Superior Court, comes as the McCain-Palin campaign has escalated its involvement in the bipartisan inquiry, providing Ms. Palin’s lawyer with help and mounting a public relations offensive.

Note the gratuitous reference to McCarthyism … this is, of course, an appeal to emotion meant to marginalize the investigation and make it seem a baseless witch-hunt. So not only is Gov. Palin engaging in Nixonianism, McCain’s campaign is dismissing it using the emotivism tactic.

This article includes the (expected) caveat:

The [McCain/Palin] campaign said Tuesday that it had no involvement in the decision to file the lawsuit.

I assure you this is absolutely not true — anything being done on behalf of either McCain or Palin is being coordinated by their campaign staff. The extent of their involvement may be small, but do not be fooled into thinking they did not approve of this maneuver. They most certainly did. (By the same token I expect that there are Obama factors in Alaska fueling this investigation from their own angle.)

That Palin would attempt to defy her own legislature on an investigation she had previously claimed to want to cooperate with, is also more than a little immature. A true conservative who really believes in the rule of law would not want to interfere with it, in such a way … but that apparently isn’t stopping her.

Limbaugh Vs. Obama

September 17, 2008

Here’s the latest dust-up going on between Sen. Barack Obama and Rush Limbaugh, the Right-wing mouthpiece:

Rush Limbaugh, featured in a new, Spanish-language Barack Obama ad, says the commercial distorts his past statements and amounts to “race-baiting” by the Democratic nominee.

Let’s be honest here, the initial salvo in this particular fracas — Obama’s ad which targets Limbaugh — is ridiculous on its face, because … you guessed it! … Obama isn’t running against Limbaugh!

Yes, that means Obama is guilty of associafying.

Limbaugh is, of course, hyperreacting in response, which is no better.

The whole thing is hypertrivia anyway because old quotes taken from Limbaugh’s show really tell us nothing about Sen. John McCain, do they?

Note: My “definitions” page explains what I mean by the terms “associafying,” “hyperreacting,” and “hypertrivia.”