Friday, November 21, 2008

The Conservative viewpoint

More articles stating the conservative side.  Again, I am trying to put some stuff here so that we have some better perspective of both the views, otherwise, most of the open mic's are no longer discussions of various view points. 

Auto Crisis
An interesting OpEd by Mitt Romney on the Auto industry crisis. This was of course, soundly criticized by left leaning media outlets.
OR The Video Version:   

Obama was endorsed by the Auto Unions (UAW) who raised money for the campaign, so, is he going to bail out the auto industry to keep them happy? 
Related links below:

More politics as usual? Hope? Change?
Where is the change from the Democratic party? I thought Lieberman was the devil and needed to be ostracized from the party
Also, if Obama is picking most of his cabinet from Clinton's administration, why was Sen. Hillary Clinton ostracized as a "Washington insider" during the primaries? Where is the change?  Tom Daschle is cited to be Sec. for Health and Human services, this may be a conflict of interest.  At issue is Mr. Daschle’s work since leaving the Senate four years ago as a board member of the Mayo Clinic and a highly paid adviser to health care clients at the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird.

The Obama Hype Machine
An article/blog that is not too happy about the Obama hype machine in the media

Does Obama want the crisis to deepen?

Media MIA On Emanuel's Crisis Comment
By Seton Motley
November 21, 2008 - 08:33 ET 

Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?

Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?

Based upon what Emanuel is saying, the conclusion one might draw is that the Obama team wants the uncertainty this foments to fester and grow, thereby increasing the gravity of the crisis upon which the Administration then intends to capitalize. 

Chris Matthews and others in the media dreaming of an early coronation, I mean Inauguration, are perhaps missing an important Obama Administration point. The longer the crisis lingers, the more our economy tanks, the better it is for them from their perspective when they finally do take the reins.

All in the best interest of our nation, of course. (?!?)
Where oh where has the press's righteous indignation at the use of national hardship for crass political gain gone? That apparently has departed early, so as to make way for the Obama Adminstration they can't wait to see get started.

—Seton Motley is Director of Communications for the Media Research Center

Gay Rights activitsts and media bias - a Fox perspective
For the record, my view is NO on PROP 8.  I think it is an acceptable conservative/libertarian view to NOT change the constitution to define marriage as ONLY between a man and a woman.  I believe that the Government has no business telling me who I can or cannot marry.  I also believe it is acceptable to protest this.  How can the majority legislate, what many gays consider to be, a fundamental right? Gays as a minority should be protected.   Perhaps this should be an interesting topic for open mic. 

The Right side view of Obama's healthcare plan
The interesting paragraph to me here (link above)  was "3) Republicans better earn to competently talk healthcare"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Media Bias

All, we further discussed Media Bias this week.  I wanted to post this interesting segment on TALK OF THE NATION in NPR.  PLease review this at your leisure.  I would strongly encourage you to also read the PDF of a  scientific study on media bias as well. 

The scientific study link is: 

MOST news outlets have a liberal bias, with the Wall Street Journal and  New York Times and CBS being fairly hardcore liberal!!!! Even more liberal leaning than Fox as a conservative leaning media agency! Something to mull over. Even NPR has a score of 66 where the center score = 50!!!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Can we stop the hype?

I truly hope Obama will meet at least 10% of the hype he has generated, because in my mind, even if he meets 10% of the hype, he will be a truly great president.  Granted this is a historic moment and one sought long and hard, especially by the African Americans.  However, is it fair to put so much expectation on this one man? Are we setting him up for failure?  I sure hope not.  There is so much to be done.  I am so glad this election is over so that the poor man can get on with governance.  Hopefully the hype will subside. 

I found these articles that discuss this further
Barack Obama lays plans to deaden expectation after election victory
PRUDEN: A heartfelt toast to Obama

Two Sides of a Story continued

I would encourage you to read the first part of this blog (below) prior to this one. 

SNL - Banned SNL Skit ripping both the Dems and Reps. 

check this out, and see where you stand maybe?

Two Sides of a Story Continued

I would encourage you all to read the first part of this blog below and then come back to this one. 

Please check out the IDEO METER between McCain and Obama.  McCain is much closer to the center and Obama is highly left leaning.  This highlights the point about McCain being more of the person who would "cross the aisle". 
I would like to add, I am not a sore loser, I am merely posting "the other side" of the story.


Heres an example of how that Evil, despot Bush tried to destroy poor people.
Taken from the NYTimes 2003 (NYTimes is fairly left leaning).  the article is meant to criticize Bush for his actions. On hind sight, Bush was right!. Please read and reread the last 2 paragraphs.
I have another article somewhere with specific quotes from Pelosi, Reid etc. I'll send it along when I find it.  It is a much murkier picture. Politically, both democrats and republicans are equally NOBLE, and equally interested in holding onto what all politicians want POWER. 

The top 3 recipients of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae contributions, 1989-2008:

Chris Dodd ................... $165,400
Barack Obama ............ $126,349
John Kerry .................. $111,000 

Two sides to a story

At the last open mic (A very historic moment in US history - Nov 4th 2008), we were discussing the role of the press.  How biased press organizations are. Since most press organizations are "For-Profit" organizations, the perspective of the top few dictate the content of the organization (due to ad contributors flexing their muscle or some other reason).  Additionally, since sensationalism also sells, facts are replaced by sensational opinions or tag lines, further exacerbating the chasm (the two sides of the chams here are 1: Press = Truth / fact reporting and not Op Ed. 2: Press = OpEd pieces with mainly one side of the story represented). 

It was also discussed there are very few press sources that truly represent all sides of the story. e.g. Both Liberal and Conservative views with regards to US concerns,  or Indian Army vs. Separatists views with regards to Kashmir.  Wouldnt it be nice to see a liberal view on the LHS and conservative view on the RHS of most important topics in a newspaper? 

We also arrived at the conclusion that most people tend to get their facts from one or two sources and seldom see the other side of the coin.  Whether we gravitate towards Bill O'Reilly or Bill Maher, we tend to ONLY view one or the other and establish our world view thus.  This is fairly unfortunate.  Furthermore, the crowd at the open mic, is fairly left leaning with respect to US politics (Obama mania was at its height on Tuesday!) and some suggested that most of the posts in this blog is highly left leaning.  I volunteered myself to try and post some right leaning stuff, just to "stir the liberal pot" as it were.   I will attempt to do that to the best of my ability. On a lighter note and for the record, my political views are probably a shade right of center.  If that makes me a redneck, married to my cousin, bible thumper - so be it.

We were fairly distracted with the election, so the the discussion did not go very far. I think this discussion should be further extended during the next open mic. 

1 of many: 
First, this guy is a fairly conservative blogger. His post on Obama and his decency. 

This is about Rahm Emannuel. There are many fears that he will not be bipartisan (perhaps the Dems do not need to be bipartisan now?). 

the meltdown not due to the republicans alone! Lot of blame to go around!

I have pasted the whole thing here. and Highlghted some key points. 

How Congress set the stage for a fiscal meltdown

WASHINGTON — During last week's presidential debate, John McCain and Barack Obama sparred over what caused the financial crisis.

"The match that lit this fire," McCain said, came from the government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which backed risky home loans "with the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies … in Washington."

Obama shot back: "The biggest problem was the deregulation of the financial system. … Sen. McCain, as recently as March, bragged about the fact that he is a deregulator."

It was a classic example of Washington finger-pointing. McCain and the GOP blame Fannie and Freddie — which were taken over by the government last month — because the troubled mortgage agencies' biggest backers were Democrats who said they wanted to increase access to homeownership.

Meanwhile, Obama and other Democrats highlight Republicans' longtime focus on limiting regulations for the financial industry.

No single government decision sparked the crisis, but collectively the candidates had a point: Both parties in Congress played important roles in setting the stage for the ongoing financial meltdown.

They did so in moves that reflected not just their ideological priorities, but also the wishes of special interests that have spent millions aggressively lobbying Washington and contributing to lawmakers' campaigns.

By not reining in increasingly risky investments made by Fannie and Freddie — and by keeping complex financial instruments known as derivatives free from most government oversight — Congress chose not to impose barriers that economists widely agree could have helped stave off the crisis that continues, even after lawmakers approved a $700 billion emergency bailout package for Wall Street.

Here is a look at how Congress' actions on two key fronts became significant factors in the financial crisis:

1. Not checking derivatives

In 2000, a united financial services industry persuaded Congress to allow a vast, unregulated market in derivatives, which are contracts in which investors essentially bet on the future price of a stock, commodity, mortgage-backed security or other thing of value.

Derivatives — so named because their value derives from something else — also are known as hedges, swaps and futures. They are designed to lower risks for buyers and sellers, but in some cases, economists now say, they gave investors a false sense of security.

Today, derivatives are compounding the risks to a shaky economy because they are tied to complex mortgage securities that have plummeted in value. Instruments called credit default swaps, for example, were supposed to insure investors against default of mortgage-backed securities. With a mass collapse of those bonds, it's not clear how the swaps can pay off.

The ultimate fear, as Fortune magazine put it, is that swaps can cause "a financial Ebola virus radiating out from a failed institution and infecting dozens or hundreds of other companies."

Derivatives are traded privately, and their estimated national value is huge: $531 trillion. Losses from derivatives helped bring down Wall Street powerhouse Lehman Bros., and led the government to spend nearly $123 billion so far bailing out the giant insurer AIG.

The bill barring most regulation of derivative trading was inserted into an 11,000-page budget measure that became law as the nation was focused on the disputed 2000 presidential election. It was sponsored by Republican Sens. Phil Gramm of Texas and Richard Lugar of Indiana — with support from Democrats, the Clinton administration and then-Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. Few opposed it.

Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who help negotiate the bill for Democrats, says he put aside his qualms because Wall Street and Greenspan were adamant that less regulation would help the stock market.

"All of the Wall Street crowd, all of the investment firms, the Morgan Stanleys, the Goldman Sachs … that steamroller just rolled over anything," he says. Wall Street promised to police itself "and Congress bought it."

Better regulation could have provided greater transparency and ensured that enough collateral was in place for derivatives to meet their obligations, says economist Susan Wachter of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "It's totally obvious in retrospect that this was not good public policy," she says.

But a decade ago, many saw derivatives as a way to smooth the gears of free-market capitalism. That's why the financial industry was alarmed in March 1998, when a little-known agency called the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sought to regulate derivatives.

Financiers erupted. They feared the plan would invalidate existing contracts, and they argued derivatives often were uniquely tailored hedges against risk that could not abide one-size-fits-all rules. Greenspan, then-Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt and then-Treasury secretary Robert Rubin said in a statement they had "grave concerns" about regulating such agreements.

A report by President Clinton's economic team recommended against regulation. At congressional hearings, Greenspan argued that sophisticated market players would check one another, and if derivatives were regulated here such investments would go overseas.

A bill barring derivatives from being regulated as futures contracts passed the House in October 2000, by a vote of 377-4.

But Gramm, chairman of the banking committee, was not satisfied. Gramm told USA TODAY at the time he wanted language making clear that banking products could not be regulated by the commodities agency. After the fall election, leaders of both parties cut a deal and in December 2000 inserted it in the budget bill.

"The work of this Congress will be seen as a watershed, where we turned away from the outmoded, Depression-era approach to financial regulation," Gramm said then.

The wall against regulation was a watershed in another way. Financial services employees and political action committees made $308.6 million in political donations in 2000, up from $175 million in the previous presidential election year, says the Center for Responsive Politics. Wall Street and the banking, insurance and real estate industries spent $3.2 billion on lobbying in the past decade, the center reports. AIG spent $73 million.

More than a quarter of the $3.9 million in campaign money Gramm raised from 1997 through 2002 came from the financial services sector, and nine of his top 10 donors, grouped by economic interest, were employees of financial companies that use or trade in derivatives, according to election records compiled by the center.

Gramm, who left office in 2003 and went to work for UBS, was a top economic adviser to GOP presidential nominee John McCain until he stepped down in July after saying the USA had become "a nation of whiners" about the economy.

Noting that he has always favored deregulation, Gramm scoffs at the idea he was influenced by campaign money. The derivatives provision didn't cause the credit collapse, he adds.

"The crisis was caused by government," Gramm says. He cites the Community Reinvestment Act, which he says "forced banks to make subprime (mortgage) loans" to people who couldn't afford them.

Democrats, including Harkin, and many economic analysts dispute that. As for what he learned, Harkin says, "Don't pay attention to Wall Street when it comes to issues like this."

2. Protecting Fannie, Freddie

In 2005, Congress rejected a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at curbing risky investments by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thanks to resistance from mostly Democrats. It was the latest in a string of unsuccessful attempts to rein in the two agencies. In this case, Congress ignored Greenspan's warning about the financial risks Fannie and Freddie were taking on.

The agencies were designed to expand homeownership by injecting money into the home mortgage market and encouraging banks to lend more. They buy loans from banks and guarantee them, holding some in their portfolios and selling others as mortgage-backed securities.

With implicit government backing, Fannie and Freddie have been able to borrow money at below-market rates. In recent years, the companies borrowed to buy billions' worth of complex mortgage-backed securities. The investments earned big returns. Fannie and Freddie's stock soared. Their executives were paid tens of millions of dollars.

Republicans sought to reduce the size of the companies' portfolios, arguing they were too risky.

Then the housing bubble burst. Fannie and Freddie didn't cause the financial meltdown, but they fueled it by becoming one of the biggest purchasers of toxic mortgage products, says Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff.

"There was tremendous coddling of Fannie and Freddie in the face of a lot of evidence that they really weren't helping homeowners all that much," Rogoff says. "I think it was very, very clear what was coming, and that they were a huge, huge risk to the American financial system. … It really was criminal neglect."

Fannie and Freddie spent $175 million on lobbying in the last decade, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The companies' employees and PACs gave nearly $5 million in contributions since 1989, by the center's count.

Until they were taken over, Fannie had 13 lobbying firms on its payroll this year; Freddie had 33. Both packed their boards with politically connected people such as Democrat Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton aide who joined Freddie's board in 2000 before he became a congressman. Both hired well-connected lobbyists such as Rick Davis, now McCain's campaign manager.

In seeking to crack down on Fannie and Freddie, Republicans were encouraged by banks that didn't want government-subsidized competition. But there also was a chorus of warnings that the highly leveraged corporations could pose a risk to the economy.

In 2003 and 2004, both companies were wracked by accounting scandals that led to the ouster of top managers.

In 2005, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., sponsored legislation to shrink the agencies' portfolios. McCain later added his name as a co-sponsor. The bill passed the Senate Banking Committee, but every panel Democrat voted against it. That signaled that the bill wouldn't get the 60 votes needed to pass in the Senate. Obama was not on the banking panel; there is no record of him doing anything on the bill.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a senior member of the banking committee, is the largest recipient of political contributions from Fannie and Freddie employees and PACs, having received $165,400 since 1989, according to the center.

Dodd said he backed Fannie and Freddie because they encouraged homeownership. "I've never ever in my life been affected by a campaign contribution," he said in an interview. He noted that when he became banking committee chairman, he helped pass a bill restricting mortgage agencies' investment practices in 2007. By then, it was too late to stop the financial disaster.

In the House, Republicans and Democrats agreed on a different bill that passed easily. But the Bush administration opposed it, calling it weak. The effort failed.

The next year, Freddie Mac paid the largest election fine ever, $3.8 million, after regulators found it used corporate funds illegally to pay for fundraisers. From 2000 to 2003, Freddie Mac held 85 events that raised $1.7 million, mostly for Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, regulators found.

Rep. Barney Frank, then the ranking Democrat on financial services and now the chairman, says he and his colleagues were not soft on Fannie and Freddie. "Yes, they lobbied strongly, but I was one of the most successful ones in challenging them."

Frank had no apologies. Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., by contrast, offered a rare Washington mea culpa: "Like a lot of my Democratic colleagues, I was too slow to appreciate the recklessness of Fannie and Freddie," he said in a statement. "Frankly, I wish my Democratic colleagues would admit, when it comes to Fannie and Freddie, we were wrong."