Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day

May 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Bloggers and pundits and all of the commentariat can bloviate all they want from the comforts of their own home, tapping away on their keyboards about war, what to do about it, what not to do, etc.  Anyone can be an armchair general and pound their chests.  But the fact is, most people have no clue what war is like, myself included. 

Remember the fallen.  Remember the sacrifices.

AR-Sen: Bubba the big gun

May 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Things are getting testy in the Arkansas Democratic primary:

Former President Bill Clinton returned to his home state Friday to help a beleaguered ally and delivered a broadside against some of the most powerful interests in the Democratic Party.

Using unusually vivid language to describe the threat against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Clinton urged the voters who nurtured his career to resist outside forces bent on making an example out of the two-term Democratic incumbent.

He pounded the podium with Lincoln at his side, warning that national liberal and labor groups wanted to make her a “poster child” in the June 8 Senate run-off to send a message about what happens to Democrats who don’t toe the party line.

“This is about using you and manipulating your votes to terrify members of Congress and members of the Senate,” Clinton said in the gym of a small historically black college here.

This is getting fun.  Here you have Blanche Lincoln, a vestige of the Clinton era up against the progressive nutroots, who have funneled buckets of cash to Bill Halter’s campaign. 

That Lincoln requested Clinton’s appearance reeks of desperation, especially in a deep red state.  It’s a last gasp for a career incumbent in a year of anti-incumbent, anti-Democrat voter discontent. 

If Lincoln were to lose the runoff, it would show that the nutroots are really, really pissed.  My gut’s telling me that this panic button time for the Lincoln campaign. 

One last thing.  It’s funny how I don’t hear progressive and liberal bloggers bitching about out-of-state money and influence in this election, as they did when conservative groups were helping Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, or for Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts.

Again, Steve Wynn is spot on

May 28, 2010 Leave a comment

About a month ago, Wynn sounded the alarm on the idiocy coming out of Washington.

CNBC had an interview with Wynn this week, and he was even more adamant about his concerns:

He’s concerned about the prospect of inflation, of FHA repeating the mistakes of Fannie and Freddie, and the cost to business from the new healthcare law. “We’re on our way to Greece, in the hands of a confused, foolish government,” Wynn says. “It’s got to stop. It’s got to stop.”

Clearly Wynn hasn’t been drinking the Kool-Aid.  And just like last time, what the hell does he know?  He’s only a successful, self-made millionaire right?

Governor Chrisite strikes again

May 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Earlier this week, this video made the rounds and shows Governor Christie at his best.

Rita Wilson is a public school teacher and decides to go on about how she doesn’t teach for the money and that based upon her class size, she should be making around $83,000. 

Watch the governor’s response:

Turns out Ms. Wilson actually makes $86,000 and, as I’ve noted before, the average NJ family makes $77,875 a year.  So Ms. Wilson, for all her complaining, makes about 94% of what the average family makes annually.

Two things to take from this:

First, just when I think Governor Christie can’t get any better he always manages to surprise.  If anything, it’s a relief to see a politician not only refuse to take any crap from special interests, but also speak straightforward and not in political legalese.  Usually, an official would listen to Ms. Wilson’s complaining and tried to assuage or soothe, which is usually the point at which politicians fail, because they’re not being honest. 

One of the things we hear from the teachers is that they never became a teacher for the money.  But yet every time they open their mouth they’re bitching about–money.  So kudos to the governor for the brutal honesty.

Lastly, tip your hat to Red State for picking up on Ms. Wilson’s actual salary.  Teachers salaries are a matter of public record.  Would it have hurt the Star LEdger or the Record or any of the local papers to look this up and try to find the facts rather than let Wilson’s lies go unaccounted for, especially after she tried to stick it to the governor? 

I guess so.

Carville rips President Obama over oil spill

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I heard the audio in the car earlier today, and you can hear the veins popping from his cranium. 

The video is at the link:

The “political stupidity is unbelievable,” Democratic strategist James Carville said on “Good Morning America” today. “The president doesn’t get down here in the middle of this. … I have no idea of why they didn’t seize this thing. I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands off here.”

On Thursday, Obama will announce new measures the federal government will take to try to prevent any future BP oil spills, administration officials said. And on Friday, the president will visit the Gulf coast, his second trip to the region since the environmental disaster happened last month.

But Carville said the Obama administration’s response to the BP oil spill has been “lackadaisical,” and that rather than place the blame on the previous administration, it should’ve done more to deal with BP and “inept bureaucrats,” which would’ve in turn helped boost Obama’s approval ratings.

Gotta love the sincerity.  God forbid a Democrat president loses ground in the polls!

The money quote:

“It just looks like he’s not involved in this,” an angry Carville said on “GMA.” “Man, you got to get down here and take control of this, put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving. We’re about to die down here.”

Honestly, at this point it’s pretty easy to see that the President and his administration have no clue how to react to this crisis and possibly,  just couldn’t care less.

Obama’s Katrina

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

This post by Marc Ambinder is an excellent take-down of the flailing administration.  The money bit:

The public is sick of political posturing. These Congressional hearings that Democrats are holding — they certainly are useful exercises in ventilation, but really, the focus right now shouldn’t be on blame assigning, it should be on crisis mitigation. Congress needs to stop yapping and start figuring out what it can do to support the administration, which, whether you like it or not, is on the hook for this.

Obama ran for president because he wanted to make government work again. He’s had a tough time convincing people that it is possible for government to work benignly. A crashing economy will just make it tough to change opinions. But now he’s faced with an equally impossible task — one that he did indeed sign up for when he decided to run for president — what happens when you’re called upon to solve an unsolvable problem?

This links up a bit with the bubbling controversy over whether Joe Sestak was offered a job in exchange for not running against Sen. Arlen Specter. One furthers the knife in the “open, honest, transparent” theme that has been on life support since health care, and the other furthers the knife in the “neither big government nor small government but efficient government” theme that has been on life support since the stimulus. The administration will need to fight these two issues immediately, consistently, and relentlessly.

I am in the camp that believes Presidents can have little effect on actual results in situations like this—that is to say, little in the effect that the American people think they can have on these crises.    There’s only so much the President can do.

That being said, there’s no doubt that the Bush administration were more in control of the Katrina situation than the Keystone cops running the show now.

If anything, all of this should confirm that the Obama administration is in over their heads when it comes to governing.  If government can be efficient, if it can work to solve these problems, we’re certainly not seeing any of that from this White House.

Democrats running the mortgage market into the ground. Again.

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember during the 2008 campaign when Democrats couldn’t stop telling us how the Bush administration and Republicans caused the mortgage crisis?  And how Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in both houses of congress was the only way to heal the mortgage market? 

Yeah, about that:

Loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, the U.S.-owned mortgage insurer, may be involved in more home-purchase transactions than borrowing financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which regulators seized in 2008, have been financing more than 90 percent of U.S. home lending after a retreat by banks and the collapse of the market for mortgage bonds without government-backed guarantees.

FHA lending last quarter may have topped the combined volume of government-supported Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a home-lending market that’s still a “government-financed market,” David Stevens, the agency’s head, said today at a conference in New York, citing research by consultant Potomac Partners.

“This is a market purely on life support, sustained by the federal government,” he said at the Mortgage Bankers Association conference. “Having FHA do this much volume is a sign of a very sick system.”

The FHA, which backs loans with down payments as low as 3.5 percent, insured $52.5 billion of home-purchase mortgages in the first quarter, compared with $46 billion of purchases of the debt by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to data compiled by Washington-based Potomac Partners.

Got that? Very. Sick.

As much as the American people and our elected overlords in Washington would like to just wish the mortgage mess away, the reality is that there still is a mortgage mess.

The GSEs are accumulating mortgage loans and are housing them off the books of the federal budget.  In other words, the liabilities are off-balance sheet items, and the risk is swept under the rug.  But now the rug is one big bloated rug, bursting at the corners. 

The Federal government now holds the majority of mortgage loans in the United States, and with delinquencies on the rise, guess who’ll  be left holding the bag when the whole thing comes crumbling down?  Yours truly. 

But let’s see now.  The Democrats have essentially been in control of the Federal government for the better part of three years now.  They’ve had the majorities and the wherewithal to shape economic policy to their liking.  And the mortgage market is still in the toilet.

Miss Bush yet?

Financail Crisis Redux 2.0

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

All of this talk of liquidity in the markets and confidence between banks sounds vaguely familiar:

Dollar Libor rates gauging stress within the interbank lending market have jumped to a 10-month high of 0.5363pc, with credit contagion spreading to every area. The iTraxx Senior financials index – banks’ “fear gauge” – rose 20 basis points on Tuesday to 184. “It turns out we weren’t seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after all, but a train with a big light on it coming towards us of double-dip,” said Dr Suki Mann, at Societe Generale.

While the Libor rate is still far below peaks reached during the Lehman crisis, the pattern has ominous echoes of credit market strains before the two big “pulses” of the credit crisis in August 2007 and September 2008. In each case a breakdown of trust in the interbank market was a harbinger of violent moves in equities and the real economy weeks later.

RBS’s credit team said Libor strains were worse than they looked since most banks in Europe were paying much higher spreads, especially in Spain. The “implied” forward spreads were nearer 1.1pc.

To me, there seems to be a lot of complacency here in the United States.  The subprime mortgage crisis came around less than two years ago and destroyed much of Wall Street in its path, and took back hundreds of billions of dollars in equity from everyday Americans.  And nobody seems to worry about a second wave of failing banks and the tenuousness of our economy and financial markets.

When the dominoes start falling in Europe, only a fool will think that the American market will be immune to the mess.  We’re a global marketplace now, and the idiocy of our central bank, the Treausry and our political leaders will not change that fact.

Taking back the Senate

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Still highly unlikely for the GOP, but Jay Newton-Small seems to think it’s within reach.

The key for the Republican party is to put forth competitive candidates in states where less than twelve months ago, the idea of a competitive GOP was laughable.

Still, I will not underestimate the ability of the Republican party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  They’ll shoot themselves in the foot somehow.

Oil Spill Flyover

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Holy crap:

I’ve read a lot regarding the oil spill, but the devastation never really hit me until I saw this video.

Keep in mind, the video is dated May 6th, so you can only imagine what’s happened since then.