Hypocrisy 1

We delight in the fact that capitalism provides opportunity for anyone to become rich. We applaud those clever/industrious/lucky  people who have achieved great wealth in our  (comparatively) free society. We feel energized and encouraged by the happy spectacle of “conspicuous consumption” that some visible billionaires display with their mansions, their yachts, their jets, their football teams … For we see them as the living proof to us all that it is perfectly possible to become “filthy rich”. If they can do it, maybe we can to. They’re a spur to noble effort.

We are therefore bewildered by the cognitive dissonance of those self-made billionaires who vote Democratic. For instance, those who have made their fortunes in Silicon Valley by their marvelous inventions precisely because they were able to take advantage of circumstances – freedom, leisure, investment – which capitalism alone can provide. Do they not realize that to vote for Obama and the Democratic Party is to vote for socialism? Do they not know that socialism is a killer of private enterprise? That collectivism puts an end to innovation? We cannot suppose them to be so mean-spirited that, having made their own fortunes, they want to prevent others following in their footsteps. We’d rather conclude that very clever people can be very stupid about things outside their expertise.

The Democrats of course notoriously pour scorn on “the 1%” and long to make them poorer and ashamed of themselves. So a question arises: How come the extremely wealthy political elite of the Left are not ashamed of their hypocrisy?

This is from PJ Media, by Victor Davis Hanson:

I confess I never admired John Edwards …  I didn’t think much of Al Gore or John Kerry …  I was not surprised when Susan Rice just disclosed that she is worth considerably over $30 million — and has money in Keystone no less. Are they all part of the “one percent”? Did they pay “their fair share”? Do they “spread the wealth”? At what point in his life did Al Gore know that he had made enough money (before barreling ahead and making more)?

Why do a Timmy Geithner and John Kerry preach about raising taxes while trying their best … to avoid them? I remember the Clintons seeking write-offs for the donation of their underwear, Tom Daschle not counting limo service as income, and Hilda Solis with a lien on her husband’s property. Why wouldn’t the above pay too much rather than too little? If Barack Obama did not get free government everything … would he still preach that guys like him need their taxes raised?

Of course, I accept without much worry that government service can lead to the contacts that lead to big money. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld made millions in the private sector in between D.C. jobs. I grant too that old-boy networking is lucrative. George W. Bush’s Texas Rangers small fortune came from having powerful friends in the right places. No doubt Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are multimillionaires. Bravo to them both.

And Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush are not of the Party that pretends to despise the rich. Democrats who are keen on redistributing wealth should start by redistributing their own.

What we cannot stomach is all the sermonizing about “fair share” and “play by the rules” and “the one percent” from those who seek to be exempt from their own rhetoric. Can’t Warren Buffett keep quiet and just leave his $50 billion to his heirs — and let the wonderful federal government do what it must with a $30 billion estate tax on his earnings? … His estate will dodge more tax liabilities than what millions of his proverbial overtaxed secretaries pay. Why isn’t George Soros one of the despised money speculators of the sort that Occupy Wall Street was enraged about? … So weird what constitutes good and bad riches!

I guess the rub is not big or small money, or what you must do to get it and keep it. No, the lesson instead is what you say when you get it. If I were to advise a young rich man, I would promote entering politics or the media and talking up the liberal redistributionist state, the model being a sort of Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Corzine, or Jay Rockefeller.

If you know what to say against the rich –

You may meet and marry a rich person …  all sorts of doors will open that allow you to keep and compound what you garner — and you will feel wonderful in the bargain.

And Larry Elder writes at Townhall:

Ah, the hypocrisy of tax-hikers who do everything they can to avoid the taxes they wish to impose on others.

Sen. John Kerry  tried to avoid $500K in his home state’s sales and excise taxes by docking his newly purchased $7 million 76-foot yacht in Rhode Island.

Massachusetts lowered its state income tax in 2001. Given the presumably large number of rich people who pine to pay more taxes, the state allowed tax filers to check a box and voluntarily pay the old, higher rate. In a liberal state of over 3 million tax filers, how many volunteered to pay the higher rate in 2004? A tiny fraction of 1 percent — 930 taxpayers.

We’re astounded that there were any. To the well-known statement, “tax payers are entitled to arrange their affairs to attract the least taxation”, the retort must be, “what sort of fool would  arrange his affairs to attract the most taxation?”

Among those who refused to pay the higher rate? Sen. Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank. …

John Edwards, former senator and Democratic presidential candidate: His wife, Elizabeth, once called him a person of “character” because Edwards voted against his own economic “interests” by voting for higher taxes. Well, OK, but like billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who urges higher taxes, Edwards is less than keen on paying them. As a lawyer winning major jury awards, John set up a subchapter S corporation to pay himself through dividends — and thus avoid $600K in Medicare payroll taxes.

Well, the guy may be nasty – is infamously so! – but he’s not an idiot.

Ted Kennedy and his family shield[ed] their money through a series of complicated family trusts first begun by father Joe Kennedy. The trusts transfer wealth from generation to generation while avoiding estate taxes.

The late Ohio Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum … enjoyed a lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action of 95 (100 being perfect) and a zero from the American Conservative Union. He never met a tax hike he did not like. [But] he moved to Florida when he retired from the Senate. Why Florida? No state estate or personal income taxes.

“Civil rights” leader and MSNB-Hee Haw host Al Sharpton: Though he supports increasing taxes on the rich, Sharpton, it seems, fails to do his part as a member of the 1 percent. As of last year, according to the New York Post, Sharpton owed $3.5 million in state and federal income taxes. His nonprofit, the National Action Network, as of 2011 owes nearly $900K in unpaid federal payroll taxes.

What do these individual instances of hypocrisy say about whether taxes should be increased on the so-called rich? …

The Congressional Budget Office just issued a report on what would happen to the economy if Congress fails to retain the Bush-era tax rates. Keeping the Bush-era rates for all but the rich, the CBO says, adds 1.25 percentage points to GDP. Retaining tax rates for all, including the rich, however, adds 1.5 percent to the economy. In other words, raising taxes on the rich lowers economic output.

Obama cannot really believe that making the rich pay more will help the economy out of recession. Even he knows it won’t. His reason is ideological. He is a communist by breeding and instinct, which is to say an egalitarian, a leveler. He must inform his voting fans, both rich and poor, that he is against the rich in principle. He knows that just so long as he talks that way, it’s okay for him to be rich himself. Okay to be a hypocrite.

Frankly, Barney 1

From PowerLine:

If there is a single face of the financial crisis, it is probably Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac’s chief Congressional patron, who shouted down all warnings and resisted all efforts to bring those agencies under control. It is probably too much to hope that Frank will be evicted from Congress any time soon, but in the meantime we can enjoy this song by Kathleen Stewart, “Frankly Barney:”

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Humor, Progressivism, Socialism, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, November 12, 2011

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Obama and the Seven Dorks 0

Posted under Commentary, Humor, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, August 8, 2010

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Fannie and Freddie: the dirty dance goes on 0

Lending to borrowers who could not afford to buy homes was the root cause of the economic collapse which has plunged America into debt for generations to come.

Lending to borrowers who cannot afford to buy homes continues as before under the Obama administration.

Leading the dance of corruption is Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The lords of the dance are Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.

The leader of the band is Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg.

Obama calls the tune.

Today at Townhall, Bruce Bialosky writes this about it:

[Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac], which together own or guarantee over one half of home mortgages, and which had previously been injected with a $111 billion bailout, received an unexpected Christmas present from the Obama Administration: an executive order, issued in the dark of the night … The Treasury announced they were eliminating the $400 billion limit available to these two entities – in essence giving them license to fritter away as much money as they want while the American people (and their grandchildren) pick up the tab…

The story gets even better. The top executives are in line to receive $6 million compensation packages for 2009. Apparently, the fact that Fannie Mae lost $56.9 billion and Freddie Mac has lost $14.1 billion in the first 9 months of 2009 did not stop the Obama Administration from approving these payments. The Treasury claims that the compensation meets the guidelines set out by Kenneth Feinberg, the Pay Czar; however, it appears that the minimum salaries of $900,000 far exceed the $500,000 limit that Feinberg had previously established.

Compensation of Fannie and Freddie executives has been suspicious for a long time. Typically, executives would be given huge pay packages, and then funnel some of the money back to their favorite politicians to impede the oversight process. Franklin Raines and James A. Johnson, two directors who received enormous sums of money, ran Fannie Mae into the ground only to be rewarded by the Obama Administration until political pressure forced them into private life.

Skepticism abounds as to why the Obama Administration would make such a move when we already have a $289 billion commitment for additional funding to underwrite losses from the twin entities. Treasury Secretary Geithner claimed that they just wanted to stabilize the mortgage market, but, if this was of such great importance and urgency, why was it done so secretively?

What seems to be missing is major reform of the lending practices. There’s no evidence that they’ve become more vigilant in their loan procedures, or more attentive to the credit-worthiness of the borrowers. In fact, it seems pretty clear that they have resumed their lending habits of old.

Proportional fault has never been placed on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the subprime loan crisis.

Because these entities have been protected by Barney Frank in the House and Christopher Dodd in the Senate, the two lenders have escaped the kind of brutal public scrutiny visited upon banks and other lenders. While bankers have been on the hot seat and skewered by late night comedians, the people who run these behemoths have escaped unfazed.

Dodd’s choice 0

Among the Democrats most guilty of causing the world-wide economic crisis by forcing financial institutions to provide mortgages to folk who couldn’t afford them – a roll of dishonor that includes Bill Clinton and Barney Frank  – is Senator Chris Dodd.

What other bad decisions has he made? Here’s an interesting snippet of information from the Washington Examiner:

Now that our attention is focused on airline security measures thanks to the failed airline attack on Christmas Day, it’s worth mentioning that one senator took money away from aviation security to line the pockets of a constituency that supported his presidential campaign in a big way.

Back in July, Senator Chris Dodd, D-Conn., proposed an amendment reducing aviation security appropriations by $4.5 million in favor of firefighter grants — a notoriously inneffective program. In fact, the money was specifically “for screening operations and the amount for explosives detection systems.” The amendment was also sponsored by Sen. Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. Carper, D-Del., but Dodd deserves to be singled out here because the firefighters union is a pet constituency of his. In 2007 he campaigned all through Iowa with the firefighters union. It was one of the few distinguishable features of Dodd’s ill-fated presidential bid.

How much harm he did by this may not be measurable, but his doing it is a measure of the man.

ACORN protected by a corrupt regime 2

America is now being ruled by ‘a one-party gangster government‘, wrote Matthew Vadum recently in the American Spectator. He illustrates his contention with reference to ACORN whose criminal activity has precipitated ‘the largest corruption crisis’ in American history.

We think he is right.

For the first time in the history of the United States, there is a government that should more accurately be called a regime, or corruptocracy.

ACORN critic Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is mystified that both the Democratic-controlled Congress and the Obama administration aren’t doing much about the tax-subsidized organized crime syndicate ACORN even as evidence of its wrongdoing continues to pile up.

In an exclusive interview, the House Judiciary Committee member describes the ACORN saga as “the largest corruption crisis in the history of America.”

“It’s thousands of times bigger than Watergate because Watergate was only a little break-in by a couple of guys,” said King. “By the time we pull ACORN out by its roots America’s going to understand just how big this is.”

Unlike the Nixon-era Watergate scandal, the ACORN scandal reaches not only to the highest levels of government, but also to states and localities across America. The president himself and his political advisor Patrick Gaspard used to work for ACORN and the radical advocacy group has allies throughout congressional leadership who are bending over backwards to protect it. President Obama has also hired as White House counsel Bob Bauer, whom King described as “the number one defender of ACORN in the country.”

ACORN has ties to unions such as SEIU and has business relationships with Wall Street. It has offices across the globe in places like Canada, Kenya, and India. Quite apart from the hidden camera videos that emerged in September showing ACORN employees providing advice on establishing a brothel and financing it with government grants, in the U.S. it stands accused of political corruption, election fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and countless other violations of the law. It is involved in major campaigns pushing for socialized medicine, green energy and cap-and-trade, enhanced welfare benefits, higher minimum wages, greater federal regulation of the financial services industry, and for a major expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act.

“The legislative branch will not investigate. [House Judiciary Committee chairman John] Conyers will not. [House Judiciary subcommittee chairman Jerrold] Nadler will not. It’s not going to come out of [House Ways & Means Committee chairman Charles] Rangel’s committee. It’s not going to come out of [House Financial Services Committee chairman] Barney Frank’s committee or from anybody in the Senate. They’re going to protect ACORN.” …

In Congress Democrats “got out their arsenal and now they’re using everything to protect ACORN because that’s the machine that keeps them in office.”

King was particularly incensed by U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon’s ruling in favor of ACORN on Dec. 11. The Department of Justice has reluctantly filed an appeal of the judge’s ruling.

“Now the Democrats have the district court decision that Jerry Nadler solicited and now they will hide behind it if pressed. They will ignore it if they’re not pressed. They’re never going to move legislatively. They never wanted to unfund ACORN.”

Gershon, a Bill Clinton appointee, issued a temporary injunction prohibiting Congress from cutting off funding for ACORN. She determined that the funding ban was an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” that singled out ACORN for punishment without trial.

Only in the through-the-looking-glass world of a leftist activist judge could cutting off taxpayer funding to an advocacy group be deemed punishment. This injunction itself is unconstitutional and an affront to the separation of powers. It appears to rely on a novel, insidious legal doctrine known as “legislative due process.” Simply put, groups have rights in the appropriations process and have a right not to be deprived of government funding without some kind of cause being shown. In other words, Congress no longer has the power of the purse regardless of what the Constitution says. …

Congress, [King] noted, has voted overwhelmingly to defund ACORN, yet federal funds continue to flow to ACORN. “We haven’t proved that we have a non-punitive motive,” as Gershon’s ruling requires, he said.

Attorney General Eric Holder has made it abundantly clear he has no interest in investigating his radical friends at ACORN. Holder’s Justice Department released a legal opinion late last month that allows the Obama administration to ignore the will of Congress. He’s also ignored the 88-page report on ACORN’s systemic corruption and flagrant racketeering activities that was issued this summer by Republican investigators on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. …

“This is one-party gangster government and they know what they’re doing,” [King] said.

Palin for tax cuts 0

Here are passages from the speech Sarah Palin delivered in  Hong Kong on September 23 at the CLSA [Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia] Pacific Markets Conference, taken from excerpts published by the Wall Street Journal. More of the speech can be found here:

We got into this [economic] mess because of government interference in the first place. The mortgage crisis that led to the collapse of the financial market, it was rooted in a good-natured, but wrongheaded, desire to increase home ownership among those who couldn’t yet afford to own a home. In so many cases, politicians on the right and the left, they wanted to take credit for an increase in home ownership among those with lower incomes. But the rules of the marketplace are not adaptable to the mere whims of politicians…

Lack of government wasn’t the problem. Government policies were the problem. The marketplace didn’t fail. It became exactly as common sense would expect it to. The government ordered the loosening of lending standards. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. The government forced lending institutions to give loans to people who, as I say, couldn’t afford them. Speculators spotted new investment vehicles, jumped on board and rating agencies underestimated risks…

If you want real job growth, you cut taxes! And you reduce marginal tax rates on all Americans. Cut payroll taxes, eliminate capital gain taxes and slay the death tax, once and for all. Get federal spending under control, and then you step back and you watch the U.S. economy roar back to life. But it takes more courage for a politician to step back and let the free market correct itself than it does to push through panicky solutions or quick fixes…

I can’t wait until we get that Reaganomics sense supplied again because we are going to survive, and we’re going to thrive and expand and roar back to life. And as the world sees this, the world will be a healthier, more secure, safer and more prosperous place when this happens…

Right now we have the highest unemployment rate in 25 years, and it’s still rising. And yet some in D.C. are pushing a cap-and-tax bill that could cripple our energy industry or energy market and dramatically increase the rates of the unemployed, and that’s not just in the energy sector. American jobs in every industry will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under this cap-and-tax plan. The cost of farming will certainly increase. That’s going to drive up the cost of groceries and drive down farm incomes. The cost of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also rise. We are all going to feel the effects. The Americans hardest hit will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet today, much less with this new tax every month…

With most of this we agree. We only don’t believe that people like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd  wanted to increase house ownership among those who couldn’t afford it out of good nature. We judge them less generously. We think they wanted to redistribute wealth and increase the power of government.

At present Palin seems to us to be not only the most charismatic of the Republicans who might be in the 2012 presidential race, but also, to judge by these remarks, one who might rescue the economy.

The name of the change 1

Obama is hellbent on shifting America permanently to the political left. The name of  the change he promised is Socialism. He wants ‘health care reform’ not because he wants to reform health care but because  he wants to reform the land of the free into the land of the organized. As Mark Steyn says:

For most of the previous presidency, the Left accused George W. Bush of using 9/11 as a pretext to attack Iraq. Since January, his successor has used the economic slump as a pretext to “reform” health care. Most voters don’t buy it: They see it as Obama’s “war of choice,” and the more frantically he talks about it as a matter of urgency the weirder it seems. If he’s having difficulty selling it, that’s because it’s not about “health.” … The appeal of this issue to him and to Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank et al is that governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture

Three stories bubbled up in the past week, although if you read The New York Times and the administration’s other airbrushers you’ll be blissfully unaware of them: The resignation of Van Jones, former (?) communist and current 9/11 “truther,” from his post as Obama’s “Green Jobs Czar.” The reassignment” of Yosi Sergant at the National Endowment for the Arts after he was found to be urging government-funded arts groups to produce “art” in support of Obama policy positions. And, finally, the extraordinary undercover tape from Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government Web site in which officials from ACORN … offer advice on how pimps can get government housing loans for brothels employing underage girls from El Salvador…

What all these individuals share is a supersized view of the state, from a make-work gig coordinating the invention of phony-baloney “green jobs” to Soviet-style government-licensed art in support of heroic government programs to government-funded “community organizers” organizing government funding for jailbait bordellos… Van Jones, Yosi Sergant and ACORN are where Barack Obama’s chosen to live all his adult life…

My sense from Wednesday’s speech is that the president’s gonna shove this through in some form or other. It may cause a little temporary pain in Blue Dog districts in 2010, but the long-term gains will be transformative and irreversible.

After the tea parties 2

 Nancy Pelosi wants a ‘probe’ of  Wall Street, hoping to put all the blame on it for the economic crisis.

The Investor’s Business Daily comments:

The problem is, what "happened on Wall Street" was a direct result of what happened on Capitol Hill. And we’re not the only ones who believe that, by the way.

"Government policies, especially the Community Reinvestment Act, and the affordable housing mission that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were charged with fulfilling, are to blame for the financial crisis," wrote economist Peter Wallison, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, recently.

"Regulators also deserve blame for lowering lending standards that then contributed to riskier homeownership and the housing bubble." Exactly correct.

As such, Pelosi’s proposed … commission will be little more than a fig leaf to cover Congress’ own multitude of sins — letting its members, the true creators of this financial mess, bash business leaders as they pose as populist saviors of Main Street from Wall Street predators.

Why do this now? Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues are feeling the heat from Tea Party demonstrations and growing voter anger over the massive waste entailed in the $4 trillion (and rising) stimulus-bailout bonanza. Again, the Democrats created all this spending. Now, as it proves unpopular, they just walk away from it.

On NPR Thursday, a reporter confronted Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, with the fact that his $300 billion "Hope for Homeowners" program, passed with much fanfare last fall, had so far helped just one homeowner. One.

Frank’s response: It was the fault of the "right." And Bush.

Truth is, Frank’s party has been in charge since 2006. And during that time, Democrats have presided over one of the most disgraceful and least accomplished Congresses in history. This financial mess began on their watch, yet they pretend otherwise. 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 17, 2009

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Diktat 0

 From Investor’s Business Daily:

Rep. Barney Frank, the Democrat who sits atop Congress’ efforts to deal with the financial crisis, has enough chutzpah for 100 politicians — which is saying a lot.

In comments before testimony from both Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed chief Ben Bernanke Tuesday, Frank said he wants to regulate pay on Wall Street — even for companies that aren’t getting bailouts.

And he called retention bonuses — a time-honored practice on Wall Street and elsewhere in America in which key employees are compensated for their enormous value — "extortion" and "bribes."

Frank, one of the chief architects of the housing mess that’s brought us so low, isn’t satisfied merely with pretending he and his Democratic pals aren’t to blame for all this. No, exploiting voter anger over the now-infamous AIG bonuses, he also wants to dictate to American capitalism what it can earn and what it can’t.

This is the kind of thing that normally happens in Third World countries ruled by tinhorn dictators, or in fascist states, where the democratic rule of law has collapsed. Not the U.S.

Yet, that’s where we find ourselves today, isn’t it? Democrats in Congress, who steadfastly rejected virtually all efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as they went on the wildest, most irresponsible lending binge in the history of finance, now pose themselves as the saviors of fallen capitalism.

The hypocrisy is nothing short of stunning.

Take Frank. As we’ve written before, he spearheaded congressional Democrats’ efforts in 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005 to block reform of Fannie and Freddie.

Those two "government-sponsored enterprises" were the nexus of this crisis, holding $5.4 trillion of the $12 trillion in U.S. mortgages, while originating or funding 90% of the subprime market.

Their failures presaged the subsequent financial meltdown from which we’re still trying to regain our economic footing.

Then there’s Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, another posturing moralist in the flap over AIG bonuses. He turns out to have inserted the bonuses into the bailout legislation in the first place.

An innocent move? Please note Dodd was No. 1 on the list of recipients of AIG’s political contributions. Also that his wife was a former director of IPC Holdings, a company controlled by AIG.

We wish all this tinkering with the private sector was limited to Congress. But it isn’t. The Treasury wants what the Washington Post called Tuesday "unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy."

Citing the AIG precedent, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended this radical move, saying on CNN, "We need resolution authority to go in and be able to change contracts, be able to change the business model, unwind what doesn’t work."

Breathtaking. Coupled with the vast expansion of government spending over the next 10 years, this is socialism, pure and simple.

Yes, we know it’s unfashionable to use the "S" word. But we’re willing to be unhip in the service of the truth.

It’s a frightening thing to see a once mighty, and free, capitalist economy placed under the heel of an incompetent government. But that’s precisely what’s happening now.

Executive pay, the focus of much public fury right now, is only the start. Your pay will be next, rest assured. So hold on to your wallets, sure, but also hold on even tighter to something even more precious that now seems at risk: your freedom.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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