Sunday, February 22, 2009

Monday's Talking Points

Here's a roundup of this weekend's observations:

There's a lot going on, and most of the MSM attention gets focussed on a few big issues.  But, here's a few that caught my eye, that may have slipped by:

  • The FEC Admits Obama Got Preferential Mortgage Rate
The Federal Election Commission has closed its file on a complaint alleging that then-Sen. Barack Obama received a below market rate mortgage loan in 2005 for a $1.65 million home in Chicago.
But while the FEC ruled that no laws were violated, the agency did confirm that Obama received the discount rate.
And the lending institution has acknowledged that Obama got preferential loan terms due to his position in the Senate.
The complaint was filed in July 2008 by Judicial Watch, a non-profit educational foundation that works to combat government corruption.
The Post calculated that the favorable rate would save Obama $300 a month, amounting to at least $108,000 over the life of the 30-year loan.
Judicial Watch contended that these preferential loan rates constituted an illegal corporate campaign contribution to Obama.
Northern Trust Vice President John O’Connell "essentially admitted the company provided Obama preferential loan terms because of his position in the U.S. Senate," according to a statement from Judicial Watch.  Judicial Watch's complaint also cited a report from the Center for Responsive Politics that Northern Trust employees contributed $71,000 to Obama’s political campaigns since 1990.
The FEC based its decision to exonerate Obama largely on the fact that Northern Trust claims it provided preferential terms to other "similarly situated" but unnamed borrowers in addition to Obama.
The Judicial Watch statement concluded: "For the FEC to base its decision to excuse Obama on the fact that a few other unnamed borrowers also received sweetheart mortgages seems irresponsible . . .
"The fact is, Northern Trust's [vice president] admitted Obama received the loan, in part, based on his position. This is improper and almost certainly constitutes an illegal campaign contribution (or gift). In our view, the FEC’s response is inadequate."
The loan enabled Obama and his wife Michelle to buy a mansion with six bedrooms, four fireplaces, a four-car garage, 5 1/2 baths, wine cellar, music room, library, solarium and granite-floored kitchen. 
You'd almost think that he and Michelle had been living like Wall Street Bankers.......
  • First there was McCain-Feingold, now there's Feingold-McCain.  What could go wrong?
Well, we all know the shredding of the Constitution's right to freedom of speech that McCain-Feingold enabled, and the irony that it was one of the elements that hobbled McCain's own Presidential campaign.  Now the wo are back with another unneeded bit of legislation regarding the selection of US Senators.  God, only knows what calamity will ensue if this bit of political uselessness get's passed.  George Will had an excellent piece on this in which he points out that: 
"The Framers gave the three political components of the federal government (the House, Senate and presidency) different electors (the people, the state legislatures and the Electoral College as originally intended) to reinforce the principle of separation of powers, by which government is checked and balanced.

Although liberals give lip service to "diversity," they often treat federalism as an annoying impediment to their drive for uniformity. Feingold, who is proud that Wisconsin is one of only four states that clearly require special elections of replacement senators in all circumstances, wants to impose Wisconsin's preference on the other 46. "

The 17th Amendment changed the initial intent of the Framers, but still provided that linkage to the individual States where a mid-term replacement for a State's Senate seat was necessary.  For some reason Progressives love to tinker with a perfectly good document that has served us well for over two hundred years.  They just love to invoke the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  • There isn't a national foreclosure problem.
When President Obama discusses his $275 billion mortgage bailout, he talks as if it was a national problem, caused by a national decline in home prices. "We must stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans," he says. The NY Post points out an interesting aspect of this issue that hasn't been discussed.  It's not a National problem, in fact, it is only significant in five states.  So why are we all going to have to pay for the problem?  More compulsory, and counter-productive charity forced by the Democrats.  The issue of a homeowner's mortgage being under water is another non-issue.  Everyone who has ever purchased and financed a new car, has had that loan underwater the moment that they drove off the lot.  If they are living in the home, and it's perceived market value has changed, so what?  When the market rebounds they'll be happy again, and still probably living in the home.  No need for action now.

Nationwide, foreclosures fell 10% in January, to one out of every 466 homes. But that is a "mean" average dominated by places like California and Florida. In the median state with the 25th highest foreclosure rate, by contrast, only one out of 949 homes was in foreclosure - just one-tenth of 1%. Foreclosure rates were even lower in 25 other states. In Vermont, foreclosures amounted to just one out of 51,906 homes. Foreclosure can be a personal crisis, but it is not a national crisis.
Just five states - California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Michigan comprise the problem. That is not because the subsidized homeowners are poor (Californians with $700,000 mortgages are not poor), but because they took on too much debt, often by refinancing in risky ways to "cash out" thousands more than the original loan. Nearly all subprime loans were for refinancing, not buying a home.
Federal subsidies for over-indebted homeowners will not often involve helping "neighbors" but rather those who live thousands of miles away, mainly in just five states.  In reality, the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan" compels taxpayers in most states to help those in just a few. Aside from Michigan's unique dependence on autos, the other four states' problems are already being solved the old-fashioned way: If something becomes too expensive, cut the price. Or move.

  • We're not a nation that's too cowardly to discuss race, we're tired of trying. 

Eric Holder's comment that we're a nation of cowards regarding the discussion of race, not only was inappropriate from the US Attorney General in an address the the employees of the Justice Department, but not effective because it was mis-directed.

It should have been directed towards the members of the black community.  It is they who constantly invoke race as a factor in every situation where they do not achieve their desire, and rally against any perceived slight in order to keep the victim status alive for the race merchants.

This past week's issue of the NY post cartoon of a monkey being shot by cops was a take-off on the chimp who had been shot in Conn., and the obvious insinuation was that the much critiqued Stimulus Bill had been written by a chimp, as it made as much sense as if it had been.  But the usual race merchants like Al Sharpton rallied and cried a racial affront to President Obama.  I had seen the cartoon before the hullabaloo was raised, and I just though that it was a weak cartoon, not that it was characterizing Obama.

When four Republican Governors indicated that they were opposed to accepting funds from the Stimulus Bill, Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina said:
"These four governors represent states that are in the proverbial "black belt." I was particularly insulted by that. All of this was a slap in the face of African Americans."
There was no aspect of their position that was directed towards any one, of any race in their respective electorates, yet, race was the first element of Clyburn's argument.  

When Barack Obama criticized the behavior of black Americans, Jesse Jackson commented that he wanted to emasculate him.  When Bill Cosby spoke out about the problem of father-less children in the Black Community, and other self-induced social problems, he was reviled.

There's not cowardice here, just the fatigue of constantly wasted effort.  If Eric Holder wants to make comments about race discussions, he might start by addressing Al Sharpton, and point out the negative effects of his continued effort to use racial intimidation as a means of sustaining his "leadership" position.  I guess we'll have to wait a while for that....that takes real courage.


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