‘Burning Down The House’

‘Burning Down The House’

Lee Cary

An eleven-minute video that gives historical perspective to the current financial crisis is now available on YouTube. Entitled “Burning Down The House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?”, it moves fast and covers a lot of historical ground.

Agreement reached on Mother of all Bailouts John McCain is being careful not to take much credit for the bailout deal, but says that everyone in Congress should “swallow hard and go forward with it.”


Agreement reached on Mother of all Bailouts

Rick Moran

No matter where you come down on this bailout, you are going to have to deal with the fact that the federal government is, to a large extent, taking over a big chunk of the financial services industry in America.

We, the taxpayer, will become part owners of these financial firms who are in trouble. And not just because of the massive amount of money we will be giving to these companies. A provision in the bailout bill requires that firms participating in the bailout issue warrants so that the government can obtain non voting shares of stock. This was at the insistence of the Democrats who also wrung some other concessions from Treasury Secretary Paulson and the Republicans:

· The money would be dispersed in segments, with Paulson receiving $250 billion immediately, $100 billion upon White House certification of its necessity and the final $350 billion only after Congress has been given 15 days to object.

· Firms taking advantage of the bailout would be required to limit compensation for senior executives, with especially severe limits on “golden parachutes” at failing firms. The compensation limits will be enacted primarily, but not solely, through the tax code by reducing tax deductions for firms that pay executives more than $400,000 a year.

The administration also agreed to Democratic demands that the financial services industry should help pay for the program. Under the agreement, the president would be required to propose a fee on the industry if the government has not recovered its money through sales of the assets within five years.

The Democrats gave up the handout to ACORN and the nightmare idea of empowering banruptcy judges with the ability to alter mortgage contracts for consumers (the confusion would have thrown the court system into chaos say many experts).

Other details of the bill will become available once all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Pelosi has promised to post it on the web for 24 hours before the vote.

The Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the talks 9-2. Why was that?

From 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Conrad and other lawmakers met with Paulson around a massive table in Pelosi’s conference room under an ornate portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Among lawmakers, Democrats outnumbered Republicans nine to two, an imbalance that so irritated Paulson that he called and complained to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), according to three GOP sources familiar with the call.

Reid told Paulson he would not pull any of his colleagues out of the meeting. A Reid spokesman, Jim Manley, said: “If the secretary doesn’t like it, that’s just too bad, because he is going to need the help of each and every one of them to sell the president’s plan to the Democratic caucus and the American people.”

Ain’t “bipartisanship” grand?

It appears to me that although there will probably be a few holdouts in the House GOP and a handful in the Senate, the rest of the Republicans are falling into line, terrified at what might happen if the markets open tomorrow with no agreement in hand. Paulson upped the ante during the negotiations by referring to a Treasury Department report that Wall Street might lose a third of its value next week if no agreement is reached.

But they’re not trying to scare anyone, are they?

As part owner of JP Morgan, do you think they’ll let me use the company jet?

Iran? NO! It is the “Islamic Republic of Iran”!!!

Have you noticed that “Iran” is always referred to in the media and by our candidates incorrectly? The name of the country is NOT “Iran” It is the “Islamic Republic of Iran”; and there is a world of difference between the two. The Islamic Republic of Iran is an Islamic theocracy being run, not as a normal nation state with normal nation-state interests, but as an Islamic state whose purpose it is to further the cause of Islamic imperialism and the world jihad. The ayatollahs who rule the Islamic Republic of Iran are thoroughly imbued with the ideology of Islam, not with nation-state realpolitik. Our approach to them and to the imminent prospects of their attaining nuclear weapons must be based on the understanding that we are dealing with religious fanatics, not with statesmen. We must always keep this crucial point in mind. Misunderstanding the nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran could prove fatal.

The Audacity of Vanity

The Audacity of Vanity

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 18, 2008; A17


Barack Obama wants to speak at the Brandenburg Gate. He figures it would be a nice backdrop. The supporting cast — a cheering audience and a few fainting frauleins — would be a picturesque way to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

What Obama does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you earn. President Ronald Reagan earned the right to speak there because his relentless pressure had brought the Soviet empire to its knees and he was demanding its final “tear down this wall” liquidation. When President John F. Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate on the day of his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, he was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin.

Who is Obama representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush the elder — who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap — called “a Europe whole and free”?

Does Obama not see the incongruity? It’s as if a German pol took a campaign trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a campaign speech. (The Germans have now gently nudged Obama into looking at other venues.)

Americans are beginning to notice Obama’s elevated opinion of himself. There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted “present” nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history — “generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment” — when, among other wonders, “the rise of the oceans began to slow.” As Hudson Institute economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, “Moses made the waters recede, but he had help.” Obama apparently works alone.

Obama may think he’s King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

After all, in the words of his own slogan, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” which, translating the royal “we,” means: ” I am the one we’ve been waiting for.” Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his lectern, until general ridicule — it was pointed out that he was not yet president — induced him to take it down.

He lectures us that instead of worrying about immigrants learning English, “you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish” — a language Obama does not speak. He further admonishes us on how “embarrassing” it is that Europeans are multilingual but “we go over to Europe, and all we can say is ‘merci beaucoup.’ ” Obama speaks no French.

His fluent English does, however, feature many such admonitions, instructions and improvements. His wife assures us that President Obama will be a stern taskmaster: “Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism . . . that you come out of your isolation. . . . Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.”

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

letters@ charleskrauthammer.com

Bet on Israel bombing Iran When and if this happens who do want at the helm McCain or Obama

Bet on Israel bombing Iran

Saturday, September 27th 2008, 6:45 PM

Are we going to have an October surprise, an attack on Iran by either the Bush administration or by Israel to stop the regime from becoming a nuclear power?

It could happen – and alter the dynamics of the presidential race in the blink of an eye – but only if Israel pulls the trigger. Don’t expect the United States to drop bombs anytime soon. The reason: Iran has us over a barrel.

According to Britain‘s Guardian newspaper, Bush earlier this year nixed an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Reportedly, the President said no because we couldn’t afford Iranian retaliation against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan or Iran closing down Persian Gulf shipping. Nonetheless, cynical speculation is now swirling in some quarters that with the financial collapse working against McCain – and Bush’s legacy coming into focus – the President might reconsider. Could that tail really wag the dog?

Probably not. The fundamental global power dynamics have not changed. Iran has successfully blackmailed us. Iranian Silkworm missiles could close down Gulf oil exports in a matter of minutes, taking about 17 million barrels a day of oil off world markets. Americans could suddenly be looking at the prospect of $10-$12 for a gallon of gas. If the collapse of Wall Street doesn’t push us into a depression, that would. And Bush is right: An angered Iran could punish us with thousands of extra casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, as Iranian-trained, armed and funded fighters flow back into the war zones with a vengeance.

So, giving the go ahead to Israel would just not be worth it.

But none of this changes the fact that Israel – on its own, without U.S. complicity – is moving closer to a decision to attack Iran, almost by the day.

What many Americans miss is that Iran is a threat to Israel’s very existence, not an imagined danger used by politicians for political advantage. Every Israeli city is within range of Iranian/Hezbollah rockets. To make matters worse, since the July 2006 34-day war, Hezbollah may have as much as trebled the number of rockets it has targeted on Israel.

Meantime, Hezbollah has become the de facto state in Lebanon. And lest we forget, Israel lost that July 2006 war to Hezbollah, pulling its troops out of Lebanon without having obtained a single objective. In other words, Israel no longer has its deterrence credibility, the fear that it can decisively retaliate against its enemies.

Israel knows that international diplomacy against Iran up until now has been a farce. Iran called Bush’s bluff, ignored sanctions and continued its nuclear program with impunity. And if the Israelis needed another psychological kick in the pants, last week North Korea announced that it is back to building a bomb, likewise with impunity.

Finally, Israel has to calculate that American influence around the world is on the wane. Americans are tired of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now, after the war in Georgia, Russia is opening up its flow of weapons to Iran.

Couple all of this with Israel’s suspicion that Iran is within only a few short years of having a nuclear bomb, and Israel knows time is not on its side. It is starting to believe that it has no choice but to change its fortunes with arms.

This much is certain. Whether the President is named Bush, McCain or Obama, he will either have to prepare for war in the Gulf or find a way to bring Iran back into the nation-state system. The day of reckoning is near.

I myself think a deal can be cut with Iran. During the last 30 years, Iran has gone from a terrorist, revolutionary power to far more rational, calculating regional hegemon. Its belligerence today has more to do with a weakened United States and Israel than with any plans to start World War III.

The question is what price Iran would exact for a settlement. Or more to the point: Would we prefer to take our chances with an Israeli surprise?

Baer, a former CIA case officer, is author of the just-released “The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian

Myth vs Fact on bailout compromise

Myth vs Fact on bailout compromise

posted at 12:51 pm on September 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
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A source close to House Republicans has put out a Myth vs Fact rundown of the bailout compromise, announced early this morning.  This may answer some questions that have come up in the comments over the last few days:

Myth:  Windfall for ACORN.

Fact:  The Frank-Dodd proposal created an affordable housing slush fund and directed 20 percent of net benefits from the program to be directed to ACORN-type organizations.  The proposed compromise does not include any affordable housing slush fund and directs all net benefits back to the Treasury to pay down the national debt.

Myth:  Tax increase on financial industry.

Fact:  The proposed compromise imposes NO tax on the financial services industry.  The proposed compromise simply requires a proposal from the Administration to recoup any losses after five years.

Fact:  The proposed compromise includes tax cuts for struggling community banks.

Myth:  Blank check for $700 billion with little accountability.

Fact:  In general, the Treasury Secretary is limited to purchasing up to $250 billion outstanding at any one time.  If the Treasury needs to use another $100 billion, the President must certify this action and report to Congress.  Further spending requires Congressional action.

Myth:  Treasury plan is the only option available.

Fact:  Treasury is given multiple options to deal with the current economic crisis, including insurance, public/private auctions, loan guarantees, and direct support to financial institutions.

Fact:  Further, Treasury is MANDATED to create an insurance program (Section 102) that protects the taxpayers and requires companies that wish to participate in this program to have some skin in the game by paying risk-based premiums.

Myth:  The taxpayer is not adequately protected.

Fact:  The proposed compromise includes strong taxpayer protections.  Treasury’s proposal had minimal oversight to protect taxpayer dollars.  The proposed compromise enhanced the oversight structure by creating a Financial Stability Oversight Board, a Special Inspector General, and a Congressional Oversight Panel.

All AIG-type deals require mandatory equity interest in order to provide taxpayers with potential future benefits.  All auctions require a percentage of equity interest based on participation in the program.

Requires the Secretary to develop regulations/guidelines necessary to prohibit or, in specific cases, manage any conflicts of interest with respect to contractors, advisors, and asset managers.

Myth:  The taxpayer does not benefit from Treasury bailouts.

Fact:  The proposed compromise (Section 113) requires mandatory equity interest in scenarios like AIG.  The proposed compromise also allows Treasury to take an equity interest in the program generally.

Myth:  Treasury will never use the insurance option.

Fact:  Treasury is mandated (Section 102) to establish an insurance program and set risk-based premiums.  This will protect taxpayers by requiring the beneficiaries of the insurance program to pay risk-based premiums.  Treasury further shall collect premiums  mandatory equity interest in scenarios like AIG.  The proposed compromise also allows Treasury to take an equity interest in the program generally.

Will this resolve all of the concerns conservatives have in this plan? No, but it does address some of the most contentious issues. It also shows how much influence that the House Republicans had on the final draft, and for that they can thank John McCain for his intervention.

All aboard the bailout bandwagon? Hell, no!

Missouri Governor Fires Back at Obama Backers

Missouri Governor Fires Back at Obama Backers

September 27th, 2008 · 8 Comments

Two days after news broke about Barack Obama supporters in St. Louis threatening free speech via the use of so-called “Truth Squads,” Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt fired back, effectively saying, “There’s no room for B.O. in the White House”:

Gov. Matt Blunt (R-Mo.)

Gov. Matt Blunt (R-Mo.)

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights.  The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family.  Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility.  When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

I couldn’t have said it better.  Good job, governor!

Political quotes – Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, David S. Broder

“When’s the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the senate before he started running?”
–Bill Clinton

“When that phone rings, whether it’s 3pm or 3am, in the white house, there is no time for speeches or on-the-job training.”
–Hillary Clinton

“I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is, the presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”
–Joe Biden

Asked in a second interview days later…
“I stand by my statement.”
–Joe Biden

“Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience. I will bring a lifetime of experience. And senator Obama will bring a speech that he gave in 2002.”
–Hillary Clinton

“I am a believer in knowing what you’re doing when you apply for a job. And I think that if I were to seriously consider running on the national ticket I would essentially have to start now, before having served a day in the senate. Now there are some people that might be comfortable doing that, but I’m not one of them.”
–Barack Obama

Mr. King Never Asked…

Mr. King Never Asked…

By Amil Imani

CNN’s king of the talk-show hosts and the icon of one of the major television networks, Larry King, hosted an interview on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 with the devil himself.  Many Iranians felt completely betrayed by Mr. King’s line of questioning. They felt that Mr. King was missing key questions. I am not advocating a hostile interview here, but how could Mr. King allow Ahmadinejad to easily dance away. It seemed he was deliberately making Ahmadinejad look and act like a human being.


As the old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” However, in the minds of many Iranians as well as many non-Iranians, there is such a thing, and Mr. King lost huge points with his line of questioning. Yet, valid questions remain about media performance and the role of public communication practitioners in shaping perception. The role of media is not to impose self-censorship and avoid critical questions.


It is hard to digest how the liberal media has single-handedly, in a matter of three short days, managed to make Ahmadinejad look statesmanlike. Mr. Ahmadinejad was given a forum to reiterate his deception, repeatedly. Larry King would not even say that he himself is Jewish and that he supports Israel. He looked very mesmerized by the presence of this evil man who is responsible for the death and misery that exists in Iran. He did not contradict Ahmadinejad, did not show him up. He allowed him to make points to undermine the existence of the friendship between Israel and the United States.


Ahmadinejad’s utterance on Tuesday echoed the past remarks he has made, including calls to annihilate Israel and threats to the U.S. and other countries that support Israel. On September 18, 2008, he said, “the Zionist regime is a regime that will disappear.” But, I have news for him, most Iranians believe that the Islamic Republic is an illegitimate regime and will soon disappear. On February 28, 2007, he said, “Zionists are the true incarnation of Satan.” Ironically, most Iranians believe that Ahmadinejad is the Satan and does not represent the Iranian people any more than his turbaned-colleagues presently ruling Iran do. What needs to be understood is that in fact Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, above all else, are true Muslims and despise anything “Iranian” and its ancient “pre-Islamic” heritage.


When Mr. King asked him about his statement last year that there are no homosexuals in Iran, Ahmadinejad replied, that it is not the way it is here. It’s disliked in Iran. Then he asked Mr. King if he were concerned for 70 million Iranian people or a few homosexuals.


Mr. King should have asked how many homosexuals he has hanged this year and instead of asking him how many children he has, he should have asked him how many children he has hanged in the four years he’s been in office.


Mr. King missed an opportunity to ask him why he is so interested in securing Palestinian rights, while he is denying such rights to the Iranians. Why doe he want a referendum for the Palestinian people to decide their own destiny, while he refuses the same to 7o million desperate and unhappy Iranians.


Over the years, much of the world has been preoccupied with its own problems and shown little concern for the plight of the Iranian people until the Mullahs installed a firebrand Islamist, Ahmadinejad, as the President of the country. This man, called “The Monkey,” by many Iranians is now alarming the world by being at the control of the Islamofascist train and throttling it full speed ahead for a cataclysmic collision. Ahmadinejad and his gang are loading their guns and doing all they can to obtain the bomb to bring about the biggest and most dreadful death that would usher in the “Mahdi”, their savior-ruler of the world. 


In dealing with the mullahs ruling Iran, what you see is not what you get, and what you hear is not what they mean. Transparency and honesty are not their strong suit. So, we need a first-rate understanding of the Mullahs to see through their smoke-and-mirrors, as well as beyond their twisted tongues into their warped brains.

* Mr. King never asked why the Islamic Republic has been denying and violating a long-suffering people of all its human rights. They are guilty of beating, imprisoning and torturing hundreds of women who braved participating in a peaceful demonstration pleading for equal family rights, on the recent International Day of Women. This regime has systematically beaten, imprisoned, and tortured all manner of citizens, from school teachers to students to union workers, for daring to raise their voices against the plight to which they have subjected them.

* Mr. King never asked about an Islamic regime that has savagely beaten and hauled to its dungeons of torture and death over a thousand of the tens of thousands of teachers who last year gathered in front of the parliament requesting nothing more than their back pay and living wages.

* He never asked why they have directed systematic genocidal measures against all non-Shi’a religious minorities, with Baha’is as their prime target. They arrest some Christians — whom even their Quran calls “People of the Book” — for observing Christmas.


* He never asked why they have implemented barbaric practices of stoning, hanging and amputations for those who are convicted of crimes in their kangaroo courts without any due process. They even imprison those few lawyers who rise in the defense of the innocent.

* He never asked why they have plundered, mismanaged and doled out Iran’s national wealth with the result that the great majority of the people are living in poverty. They have forced the Iranian women into prostitution to survive or simply are sold as sex slaves in Persian Gulf states.

* He never asked why they spend a fortune on the nuclear program that they claim is only aimed for peaceful purposes, while turning Iran into little more than a gas station nation, with its precious oil wealth squandered and its facilities on the verge of collapse through neglect. They have created a suffocating social atmosphere that has driven masses of the people to the use of hard drugs as a way of numbing their pain.

* He never asked why they look far and wide to support any and all terrorists. The Islamic Republic’s delusional theology mandates the creation of horrific conditions in the world so that the Hidden Imam is compelled to appear and establish his rule.

* He never asked why they spared no efforts at sabotaging any settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis. They arm and train all Palestinian factions such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and any and all that come.

* He never asked why they direct similar criminal schemes on their eastern flank, in Afghanistan. They consider any democratic system as the enemy of Islamofascism, and rightfully so. They have worked ceaselessly to expand Iran’s stolen funds, and do all they can in support of Shi’a co-fascists Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Islamic Republic’s hands are dripping with the blood of thousands of Iraqis, victims of its bloodthirsty kin mercenaries aiming to kill a budding democracy in Iraq next door. They have supplied and continue to supply their mercenaries with armor-piercing projectiles for killing and maiming the coalition forces in Iraq. They are cowardly killing by proxy, using these roadside-planted bombs that have taken the lives of hundreds of Americans.

A final quote from the Ayatollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Revolution, should suffice since his words are still considered authoritative in Iran, and Ahmadinejad has been following his mentor’s words and deeds since Khomeini hijacked a peaceful and civilized nation:

“We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”

Could Mr. King asked a more probing question than how many children he has and what is his stand on homosexuality? What a colossal parody!