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Freedom Under Attack by President Obama and Democrats

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I was watching a commercial on TV, where this poor veteran who had served this great country honorably in war, is forced to thank the "people of Venezuela" for oil handouts courtesy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's empty largess, by way of Joe Kennedy's vanity, or rather his Citizen's Energy program. And it got me thinking, just what was President Obama's response to President Hugo Chavez's so called election abolishing term limits? This was an election which basically removed any pretense of a democracy in Venezuela, as if that were really a question anyway. It turns out, Obama's state department didn't really have a problem with it.

Democracy in Venezuela is now officially over, and the American President's bully pulpit is precisely the place to weigh in. American presidents have had a long history of speaking out in the name of freedom, as demonstrated by Kennedy and Reagan, not to mention President Lincoln whom the press has recently been fond of likening to President Obama. But apparently such a comparison isn't justified. Some try and defend the administration's (lack of) response as a smart, stealth strategy focusing on energy independence and I can agree that this should be part of our answer. But for the Venezuelan people who have had their assets nationalized, their voices squelched, and have seen their overall quality of life plunge at the hands of this wannabe dictator, perhaps they were expecting a bit more hope and leadership from America than, of all things, praising Venezuela's "civic spirit."

Elsewhere in the world, freedom took another step back. During her first trip to China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about pressuring the Chinese on human rights issues and Tibet. Mrs. Clinton said, "Our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis." On the economy and fighting terrorism, sure. But the "global climate change crisis" is more important than human rights? Really Hillary?

On Friday, CNN aired a video of President Obama saying:

"If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it, and put a stop to it. But I want everyone here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it as well, and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it."

I don't remember the president calling anyone in congress out on the wasteful spending that was put in the stimulus. Not a peep about condoms, or a gripe about sod on the National Mall. Obama actually defended pork as stimulus. Obama's definition of "wasteful spending" is arbitrary at best. The real message in President Obama's statement is: Spend the money the way Obama wants, or you will be crucified from the President's bully pulpit and in the press. Not a good recipe for re-election, putting local politicians between an untenable rock and a hard place in serving their constituents.

The tenth amendment clearly supports states rights. Yet even if a state's populace didn't elect President Obama, if a state wants to get access to their share of stimulus money, they will have to put aside their own local judgment on matters and spend it however Obama decides. On Meet the Press, Louisiana Govenor Bobby Jindal made this very case, saying:

"The $100 million we turned down was temporary federal dollars that would require us to change our unemployment laws. That would've actually raised taxes on Louisiana businesses. We as a state would've been responsible for paying for those benefits after the federal money disappeared."

The provisions Governor Jindal mentions, hidden in a thousand page bill rushed through congress in the night at the President's behest, breaking his own campaign promise for a five day period of sunlight, has led many to suggest that the stimulus plan is actually a "trojan horse" for the Democratic spending agenda. While many in the media have hailed the passing of Obama's stimulus package as a giant victory for a new president, the sober reality is this has not been the most stunning example of legislating in a free and transparent democracy.

Well over a trillion dollars spent (not including interest and other costs, which makes it trillions of dollars spent) in just a single month! Someone has to pay the credit card bill for this shopping spree. Enter Timothy Geithner's IRS, and increasing rates of taxation, restricting personal freedom for Americans on an intimately personal level. Meanwhile, President Obama, on permanent campaign mode in swing caucus states, makes the case for these expensive plans with his catastrophe rhetoric, further driving the markets down (over 2000 points since Obama's election) and self fulfilling the supposed need for "action." A double whammy of higher taxes and an ever dwindling 401k for every American who isn't asking for a handout.

Obama was going to appoint former Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services. When Daschle withdrew, the second Obama appointee with tax problems, the media elite voiced sadness that real government health care might never happen as a result. But Daschle's plan was about taking away individual options, rationing care, saving money by not offering every choice to those who are deemed by Daschle's "Health Fed" to be medically unsaveable. Such a system would destroy the private system, stymie research and development of new treatments along with lowering the quality and choice Americans have now.

Obama has talked down the American health care industry again and again, regardless of the many life saving and extending inventions our medical industry has donated to humanity. Judging the American health care system based on bad lifestyle habits is yet another false argument sold to the American people as evidence for the need to take action. The real problem with our health care system is one of cost and availability, not quality. Can't the government just focus on providing a way for people who need and want health care to obtain it, without dismantling every positive thing that it offers? In order to do that, the left would first have to admit that there are positives with the health care system. I'll take the freedom to choose therapies developed by a thriving private medical sector, that will keep me living longer and happier than my parents, over government cheese as health care any day.

To his credit, President Obama has voiced opposition to the Orwellian "Fairness Doctrine." But Obama seems to eagerly support the equally Orwellian "Employee Free Choice Act." Both laws only serve to reduce the rights of Americans; one by effectively limiting free speech on the radio and internet via regulatory rules around content, the other by taking away the right of employees to have a private vote on the matter of unionization in their own workplace. Given Obama's support of the Employee Free Choice act, one wonders whether his opposition to the Fairness Doctrine was a mere political calculation, rather than a bona fide stance in favor of free speech and the first amendment. In any case, the fact that we are even talking about these insane intrusions of government into our lives shows just how far to the left the conversation is starting, just how high the regard for freedom our new Democratic government seems to have.

This is apparently the new game plan for America. All of a sudden freedom isn't so important. Not unless we're talking about the rights of terrorists, or any Bush-era strategies envisioned to keep Americans safe. When the War on Terror was issue #1, Liberals often paraphrased Ben Franklin's saying that "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." But Franklin wasn't for a weak foreign policy or keeping mum on the loss of freedom elsewhere in the world. Mr. Franklin, were he alive today, might revise his quotation for modern times accordingly, "He who sacrifices freedom for job security, economic insecurity and medical insurance, deserves none of the above."

 

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About The Obnoxious American

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    “It turns out, Obama’s state department didn’t really have a problem with it.”

    Why would they have? Respecting the will of a foreign electorate is, or should be, part of the State Department’s job. Not every country has term limits: just because the US has them doesn’t make their abolition in another country a disaster.

    “Democracy in Venezuela is now officially over”

    It must have been the democratic national referendum that was just held there that gave you that impression.

    For the record, IMO another referendum was unnecessary. The Venezuelan people did already vote on this issue and Chavez really should have deferred to their decision. Neverthless, another vote was held and electorates are entitled to change their minds.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doc,

    Naivete does not suit you my friend. Chavez has not been running a Democracy for years. Nationalized the media and major industries, the whole gambit. Hearing you suggest that this was an earnest expression of the people kind of surprises me to be honest.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, Obnox, the BBC report says that a variety of independent observers didn’t note any skulduggery. It seems a bit pre-emptive of you at this point to conclude that the referendum wasn’t democratic.

    To be fair, the report also notes the opposition’s objection that media coverage of the vote was saturated in favor of Chavez. Certainly that kind of bias can influence an election, although using it as a primary complaint casts nasturtiums on Jose Shmose’s ability to think for himself.

    I have growing reservations about Chavez, but it is also entirely possible that his ‘socialist revolution’ really is almost as popular as he makes it out to be. There seems to be just as much skewed rhetoric coming from the Venezuelan opposition as there is from the Chavistas.

  • The Obnoxious American

    If it looks, walks and quacks like a dictator…

  • Cindy

    O.A. Says: This was an election which basically removed any pretense of a democracy in Venezuela, as if that were really a question anyway.

    The Limits of Term Limits

    The bedrock of American democracy is the voters’ right to choose. Though well intentioned, New York City’s term limits law severely limits that right, which is why this page has opposed term limits from the outset. The law is particularly unappealing now because it is structured in a way that would deny New Yorkers — at a time when the city’s economy is under great stress — the right to decide for themselves whether an effective and popular mayor should stay in office.

    Council Votes, 29 to 22, to Extend Term Limits

    Here is a picture that sums it up nicely.
    You want to extend term limits?

  • The Obnoxious American

    To anyone that doubts Chavez’s “skullduggery”, read the very first link in the article, section 2.1 of Wikipedia’s “Criticisms of Hugo Chavez”, which talks all about his electorial fraud.

    That said, there is A LOT more in this article than Hugo Chavez. So siezing upon this first paragraph either means a lack of interest in reading, or a lack of arguments on the other points raised.

    Enough chatting, enjoy the article!

  • Cindy

    Only addressing this issue on that Wikipedia page:

    Allegations of electoral fraud and abuse

    All those groups who found a problem seem to have one thing in common: U.S. business interests.

  • Cindy

    O.A. I agree with you regarding Hillary on China.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Oh, I’ll get around to commenting on the rest of the article, Obnox, never fear. It’s just that that first bit about Venezuela leapt straight out.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    “On the economy and fighting terrorism, sure. But the “global climate change crisis” is more important than human rights? Really Hillary?”

    (a) That’s not what she said.
    (b) Yes, Obnox, really. Neither Clinton nor many others are as skeptical of climate change as you.

    At worst, Hillary’s voicing of the new administration’s policy toward China marks business as usual.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doc,

    Leapt at you how? When I read that Chavez had ended term limits, basically installing him as king, the only thing that lept out to me was the end of democracy for the people of Venezuela. This is a man who is in direct control of the media, the election commission and without term limits, he can keep running the country, so long as the vote count shows he has a majority, which it will given his control of the electorial process.

    Why is anyone on this thread disputing this as a loss of freedom in the world, which is what it plainly is. I am suprised by the blinders people have nailed to their faces.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Obnox, another way Chavez could have held onto power was simply to declare some sort of national emergency in 2012 and suspend the constitution. Instead he put it to the vote. And, as I said before, there’s been no indication so far that the vote was rigged.

    Call me naive if you want, but I’m not trying to talk Chavez up so much as I’m objecting to your fallacious logic. There’s much about Hugo to cause concern but no reason to view this event in particular as ‘the end of democracy’ in Venezuela. Plenty of free nations around the world – including the one of which I’m a citizen – somehow get by without term limits. As Cindy noted above, it is in a way an abridgement of democracy to impose arbitrary restrictions on who can run for office. Politicians have a natural shelf life, and when they start to lose the plot the people will get rid of them – as happened to Thatcher/Major in Britain and more recently to Howard in Australia.

  • Hope and Change?

    NEW YORK (AP) – Investors’ sagging confidence has pulled the major stock market indexes to their lowest levels in over a decade.

    The reason that the economy is falling like a rock..is that NO ONE HAS CONFIDENCE IN KING BARRY….Funny he is blaming the market when HE is the one driving the market down!

  • STM

    What a laugh. I thought better of you OA.

    You are drawing a very long bow there, old boy, and I bet you know it. Seriously mate, not your best work.

    I’ll address some of the rest of the article, though …

    It tries to draw some bizarre parallel that doesn’t exist between Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Barack Obama’s America.

    America is currently going down the pan and is at risk of taking the rest of the world with it because of policies traditionally favoured by the Right but embraced by most in America.

    In normal circumstances, they’d be policies favoured by the Democrats too.

    Except the global financial conflagration that began with the packaging of debt for sale as “safe” investment by Wall St and caused the sub-prime disaster that left the US economy falling over in bits like a row of dominoes has absolutely nothing to do with Obama nor any tenuous links to Hugo Chavez’s rogue state.

    It was caused by lack of regulation, and “small government”.

    This is the issue all Americans should now be addressing as it threatens to upend their very way of life. They shouldn’t be asking how it’s all happened, but why.

    I love the way blokes like OA will try to draw a tenuous link between what’s going on in places like Venezuela – and he’s right, Doc, you could hardly call the place a democracy – and what’s possibly, just possibly, going to happen under Obama – who’s been in office for a bit over a month.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that there’s a bit too much navel gazing going on over there while the real concern should be in trying to understand the magnitude of what the swinging dicks on Wall St have done to you all while you were bending over for a better look.

    The real pain in your collective arse is the global financial meltdown, not the attempt by government (not unlike those now being attempted all over the world) to fix it.

    Finance #101 … what amount to giant pyramid selling schemes like the CDOs and CDS that caused a collapse driven by exposure to toxic debt that now threatens to bring about the greatest crisis since WWII will only benefit those closest to the top before they collapse and burn everyone.

    The real culprit in sub-prime, the spark that lit the fire, is a Wall St run riot and left to its own devices by a string of successive administrations that thought “regulations” made them look too much like “socialists”.

    That may now mean a massive reappraisal of what it means to be un-American.

    Why not point the finger where it should be pointed, OA?

  • The Obnoxious American

    It tries to draw some bizarre parallel that doesn’t exist between Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Barack Obama’s America.

    You must not have read my article. What I was saying in the article, which you can read here on the same page if you like, is that as the “Leader of the Free World,” President Obama has a duty to speak out when freedom is in jeapordy. Instead, this is a lousy vote, in a country being run by Iran’s best buddy, Hugo Chavez, now without any term limits.

    Comparing Chavez’s Venezuela to the UK or Austraila is what’s really drawing on the long bow. I am amazed by how many people seem to want to defend Chavez. I’d definitely need to take a shower after doing something like that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Good shot, mate. As I say, it helps being an auslander.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “The real culprit in sub-prime, the spark that lit the fire, is a Wall St run riot and left to its own devices by a string of successive administrations that thought “regulations” made them look too much like “socialists”.”

    That’s the reader’s digest version. Show me the regulation that caused banks to lend to risky borrowers, and caused risky borrowers to take out loans they had no business getting into?

  • Clavos

    Yes, Obnox, really. Neither Clinton nor many others are as skeptical of climate change as you.

    I could be wrong, Doc, but it seemed to me that OA’s reservation is with Hillary’s idea that GW should take precedence over fixing the economy, not her belief in it.

    And on that point, I agree with him, if for no other reason than without our economy, the entire world will be unable to deal with GW effectively.

    We’re the global deep pockets…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Another thing to add, perhaps. If this continues to be the prevailing opinion, I might as well hang it and give up my U.S. citizenship. Don’t want to be counted among the morons.
    Any room down under, STM? I do have a cousin in Sidney.

  • Clavos

    There’s much about Hugo to cause concern but no reason to view this event in particular as ‘the end of democracy’ in Venezuela.

    This is true. It ended long ago, when he began to shut down and nationalize opposition media.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, Clav, unfortunately an isotope of uranium-238 decays faster than that Daily Telegraph link that Obnox posted loads, but I don’t think that’s what she said either.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Who is the “she” in the above statement?

  • Clavos

    The other half of the Clinton funny farm…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Got you! I’ve got to re-activate that link. Sorry.

  • Clavos

    Doc,

    I had no trouble downloading the link. According to the Telegraph, she said it. Here’s the cut-and-paste:

    “Our pressing on those issues can’t interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis.”

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Clav. Then you unmisunderspoke. She wasn’t saying that global warming took precedence over the economy, but was of equal importance.

    ‘Those issues’ being China’s human rights record.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    “unmisunderspoke”? Is that part of English lingo?

  • zingzing

    it’s bush, roger, bush.

    as for the article, i love the title. it’s like taking a shit and declaring the whole world stinks.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger, weren’t you paying attention at all in dear old Uncle George’s lessons?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I don’t even have an idea what you’re talking about. Who is Uncle George?
    I’m certain I’m displaying some basic kind of ignorance here – which goes to show, I guess, how much I’m into pop culture.
    Would you care to enlighten me?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful
  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Obnoxious,

    You are clearly wrong, on all counts. Never mind that, as you complain, even the brief period for reading, reflection and analysis promised prior to passage was not provided. Never mind that it was not available even for a world class speed reader to read. It does not matter: the Make America Great Stimulus law contains no pork or other fatty substances. Indeed, the last paragraph of the Conference Report clearly says so:

    COMPLIANCE WITH CLAUSE 9 OF RULE XXI (EARMARKS)

    Pursuant to clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, neither this conference report nor the accompanying joint statement of managers contains any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of rule XXI.

    This is, therefore, beyond dispute. So also is it beyond dispute that it best serves the interests of The United States. It may not be enough, but from little acorns great trees grow.

    As to Venezuela, everything is just peachy. The People have spoken, and El Thugo is set to be President for Life. Never mind the tremendous pressures to vote “Si,” and never mind the things done to those who wickedly opposed that sort of thing. Never mind that the notorious bastion of right wing extremism, the New York Times had this to say:

    Mr. Chávez became president 10 years ago as a champion of the poor and promised to combat Venezuela’s vast inequities. He has since turned into a standard-issue autocrat — hoarding power, stifling dissent, spending the nation’s oil wealth on political support.

    His supporters now control the National Assembly, the Supreme Court and the nation’s oil monopoly. He has nationalized large swaths of industry. When the opposition won the governorship in the state of Miranda last year, Mr. Chávez’s government transferred control of state clinics and hospitals to the national health ministry.

    The government has attacked unsympathetic unions, harassed human rights advocates and clamped down on free speech. In a scathing report released in Caracas last year, Human Rights Watch said Mr. Chávez’s policies “have degraded the country’s democracy.” Mr. Chávez responded by sending armed security agents to abduct two Human Rights Watch representatives from their hotel and put them on a plane to São Paulo, Brazil.
    ***
    He and his supporters are increasingly resorting to intimidation. Mobs have occupied the municipal government headquarters in Caracas, which is run by the opposition, and lobbed tear gas canisters at the home of a TV executive who has been critical of the government and others. The leader of one hard-core group is threatening “war” if Mr. Chávez loses, according to news reports.

    No matter, it’s not important. Bottom line is, all of this stuff is out of our hands, we had better get over it and just shut up. Our betters know what to do and, even if they don’t, will do it anyway. The Lunatic Asylums are now, quite properly, run by the lunatics.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    You’re quick to the punch, Doc. That Uncle George. Now I get it, but I’ve long stopped listening since the nuclear fiasco.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    For a while, Mr. Miller, I thought you were being dead-serious. Now I see I underestimated your satirizing bent. Good show! For a while, you could have fooled me.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    OA,

    I think your article has a pretty decent start – for the first page at least. I haven’t been most scrupulous, I admit, to read the remainder. I rarely have the patience. But it definitely seems to me that after a pretty strong start – arguing, that is, for such important ideas/ideals as “freedom” – you ought to have stuck to your main theme.

    This is the unfortunate thing. If you were only to try to rid yourself of your ideological biases and extreme partisanship, you might have a point with which we might agree. But in your fervor and the spirit of partisanship, you decide instead to throw all caution to the winds. To wit, rather than focusing on an admittedly narrow but nonetheless important point, you decide instead to dump on Obama in whichever way you can.

    Never mind, now, that in a convoluted kind of sense, you might be able to make the requisite kind of connections – i.e., from the U.S. State department response to the developments in Venezuela and Hillary’s position with respect to China, to the kinds of things you bring later on. But even so, your argument becomes greatly diluted by such an overextended reach.

    I wouldn’t be saying this to you normally, because in a great many cases the conservative viewpoint is not being represented on BC in a manner that, in my opinion, deserves a response. But you do have good oratorical skills, which is the reason for this, I’m certain, overlong comment.

    Roger

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    Ever higher taxes that reward irresponsibility and engender dependency, Daschle’s health care blue print limiting choice and options in the name of the common good, and the fairness/free choice acts are ALL major assaults on our freedom and the American way of life.

    And read the stinking article – it’s short and snappy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I said I read it. The connections you’re claiming in the latter part are, at best, tenuous.

    I offered this only as a methodological criticism, and I don’t care to get into the substance as regards the rest of your claims. Let others do it.

    Take it or leave it, OA.

  • Baronius

    It’s tough to read that much when you’re so busy commenting on the article (that you didn’t read).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger, For a while, you could have fooled me. Then I am in the best of company, along with those who are now running the insane asylums.

    If you are interested, here is a Venezuelan blog (I have no idea how it stays up, but thus far it has) presenting an opposition view.

    I have a very warm spot in my heart for Venezuela, having lived there and having seen how good things could be and should be. Venezuela has, in addition to abundant although low grade oil, fertile lands and industrious people.

    A Venezuelan told me a story: God gave Venezuela fertile lands, great natural resources, access to the sea, and wonderful people. Then, an angel told Her that she had given Venezuela too much; other countries would be jealous. So, She gave Venezuela its government. That was years ago, but She is still trying to correct her mistake.

    In recent years, things have got progressively worse — for the common people, not for the new oligarchs — and are going to get far worse. There will be a revolution, and I would be surprised were it not to happen this year.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I don’t need your sniping, Baronius, which is all you seem to be capable of late – so take a hike. I’d had you read it to the extent that my patience allow me, and that’s all I’m giving you right now.

  • STM

    OA: “That’s the reader’s digest version. Show me the regulation that caused banks to lend to risky borrowers, and caused risky borrowers to take out loans they had no business getting into?”

    Not the Reader’s Digest version at all, OA – you just show your own ignorance by making that statement. Anyone in the finance industry will tell you the truth on this.

    How sub-prime happened: a few years back, an investment company, at a brainstorming weekend, came up with the idea of Wall St packaging up small parcels of mortgage debt, predicated on the notion that property prices would never fall, and sold them as investments.

    They became the “in” product, and were known as CDOs. To meet the demand for CDOs that were being touted by investment companies to investors all around the world, lenders in both non-bank and bank sectors were encouraged to offer more and more mortgages.

    This is the key factor in regard to your question: Because of the lack of regulation in regard to mortgage lending in the US, they kept lowering the criteria for who qualified to the point where it was almost inevitable the whole thing would collapse.

    Mortgage brokers in the US were urged to sign up as many people as possible so that investment banks could sell the SDOs and make more money. Many of the shysters on Wall St were earning huge bonuses, the more of these things they sold around the world as investments – in some cases the bonuses were in the multi-million dollar arena.

    The majority of “sub-pirme” loans were offered BY THE LENDERS on the basis that those who’d taken them could refinance later to pay a lower rate. Many were also working overtime and second jobs to pay them. As we came to see later, that also became a factor because as the financial crisis hit, many businesses also cut jobs and overtime.

    However, as I say, it became like a huge pyramid-selling scheme.

    It only took one factor to bring about the collapse – some defaults (a relatively small percentage initially). Once that started, and property prices began to fall, lenders were unwilling to refinance and the market became jittery because of the what it rightly understood would be serious fallout.

    Because of the ensuing financial crisis, the bottom fell out in 2008 – compounded by Credit Default Swaps, which were also a dreamt-up investment mechanism to make money for investment banks and their operatives that in the wash-up, now just appears to be a mechanism for shuffling toxic-debt around as an investment.

    A lot of large corporations in the US have exposure to that one.

    CDSs meant that capital could be freed up – but it left third parties bearing the brunt.

    Many large companies around the world were stung by the exposure to it and by the subsequent credit-freeze, which means banks won’t lend or refininace to keep big corporations going (and in the case of the auto companies, lending was slashed for new vehicles).

    Investors began to panic across the board, which is why the stockmarket plunged so dangerously.

    Because there has been a crisis of confidence, companies around the world have lost traditional markets and income streams. People wont’ invest, people aren’t buying, people can’t sell, they can’t export, they can’t manufacture, they can’t borrow (which is a key factor). In China, for instance, there are now millions of so-called “migrant” workers wandering the countryside out of jobs because of hundreds of factory closures. These would have been supplying a lot of goods to major markets in the West, including the US.

    While job losses in the US are a tad more civilised in terms of how they’re dealt with, the picture is still as bleak for the long term and it has nothing to do with Obama.

    This is a layman’s breakdown, but it’s a pretty accurate – if basic – portrait of what happened.

    I don’t think enough people in the US understand a) how and why the crisis came about, and b) what it means not just for America but for the whole world.

    We have been spared the brunt of it so far down here because of the regulations covering the finance sector, but there are already some job losses and we inevitably get caught up in the coat-tails of the US whatever happens.

    The idea that a whole lot of people who couldn’t afford mortgages signed up on the dotted line and caused this crisis is the reddest of red herrings.

    The real reason was the rampant greed that pushed for more and more mortgages (debt) so that they could be packaged up and sold to investors.

    The conditions of low regulation and small government that allowed those conditions to operate unfettered is the real cause of this crisis.

    I just can’t believe some of the stuff I read about this coming from the US that doesn’t appear to understand even a skerrick of the truth of it.

    Obama’s stimulus ideas, BTW, are pretty similar to those that have already been put in place elsewhere in the developed world (including here) and which appear so far to have staved off the worst of the crisis.

    How long that lasts, or whether they’ll work in the long term, is anyone’s guess – but economists generally agree that not doing something is FAR worse.

    The US government decided to do nothing during the Great Depression, and you know the result.

    Today, governments at least have the mechanisms in place to have a go. It’s the last throw of the dice, though …

    It’s THAT serious, and the conditions that created it were operating a long, long time before Obama came to office.

    The truth is, as I’ve said elsewhere, if Bush were still in office, he would be having to do much of the same and crossing his fingers the same way Obama is.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Well, I should hope this to be the case for many South American countries, Dan.

    But you know what usually happens when the liberation movements are directed against dictatorship. They tend to go socialistic.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I’ve got to move to Australia. They’ve got clear thinkers in there. It’s a sure sign we’re about to lose our hegemony. The brain power is no longer here.

  • STM

    Transparency is the key to all this, OA, and more regulation would have provided it. It will now have to, and not just in the US, if we are to avoid a similar disaster in the future.

    20/20 hindsight’s a wonderful thing, though, ain’t it?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Proving we’ll come of of this one unscathed. A big if.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “I said I read it. The connections you’re claiming in the latter part are, at best, tenuous. “

    Fair enough. Bear in mind that I am not really attempting to connect anything. This is more of a hitlist of items, all of which point to a theme of a lack of respect for rights, all kinds of rights from property ownership, to speech, to our promotion of peace throughout the world.

    Libs really laid it on Bush and his supposed rights violations during the war on terror, but yet they are standing with open arms when our money and are voices are what’s being restricted. This isn’t just wrong but diametrically opposite of what America stands for in every way.

    Is it because Chavez offers healthcare that so many in this thread are willing to accept his actions as legitimate, like Sicko Michael Moore? I notice no one really is bringing up the free choice/fairness acts, because those are basically indefensible. Nothing about the fact that the passage of this stimulus was done in the backrooms of the bowels of DC, only to emerge a day later smelling of roses, or so the media says. And nothing about the valid points Bobby Jindal brought up yesterday.

  • Clavos

    Dan(Miller),

    As far as I’m concerned, you’ve sacrificed whatever modicum of credibility you may have once had on the question of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez’s leadership thereof.

    Now that you have (finally) revealed to us that you were once one of the foreign devils living in and exploiting Venezuela and its noble indigenous people, your antipathy to Father Hugo and his coterie of angels is revealed for what it is: pure Yanqui demonic manipulation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I think Clavos is joining the chorus, Dan.

  • http://loftypremise.blogspot.com/ Tommy Mack

    I tend to agree with Roger, OA. Your piece is snappy but you confused me with trying to relate the EFCA with the Fairness Doctrine, Orwellian or not. Apples and oranges are fruits. The EFCA is legislation and the Doctrine is not, although it is a contentious non-issue.

    Does the administration favor the EFCA? President Obama co-sponsored the bill and it passed the House in 2007 but could not muster cloture in the senate of that congress.

    I do not see how it is an attack.

    Tommy

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Yes, I may agree with you on some points, OA, but you’re loading the dice. All I’m saying – one topic at a time. It’s much more effective.
    You;re putting “too much demand on the royal ear” – a line from Amadeus.

  • STM

    OA’s right about one thing, though … Hugo Chavez is still the stereotypical tinpot latin american dictator, no matter how he dresses himself up.

  • Cindy

    When I read that Chavez had ended term limits, basically installing him as king, the only thing that lept out to me was the end of democracy for the people of Venezuela

    Can you comment on the NYC dictatorship?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Once again, Obnox, I’m not shilling for Chavez, merely pointing out some flaws in your logic.

    As for the stimulus bill: as a fiscal conservative who’s presumably all for your tax dollars (if the government really must have them) being spent wisely, it puzzles me that you howl so loudly over the President’s admonition that the recipients of federal money should do exactly that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Of course he is. Did anyone ever doubted that?
    The one difference is – he rose without U.S intervention. Which is why, perhaps, we’re so quick to demonize him.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “This is the key factor in regard to your question: Because of the lack of regulation in regard to mortgage lending in the US, they kept lowering the criteria for who qualified to the point where it was almost inevitable the whole thing would collapse.”

    They, were in many cases Democrats, pushing for less regulation in order to have more people realize the American dream. Republicans deserve blame here too.. wait, I will quote MYSELF from my last article:

    Moreover, there is plenty of blame to be shared between both parties for the current mortgage mess, Dems for pushing politically correct lending schemes on banks, Republicans for going along with it. Those failed policies are what should be abandoned. But Obama’s housing plan seems to double down on the real failed policies…

    I appreciate you trying to explain it all to me, but if you are going to leave out crucial factors, such as the Democrats role in said “deregulation” then it really doesn’t matter how long your posts are.

    AND I am all for transparency. But you want to fault banks for offering loans the government said would be backed (whatever that means)? Everyone knew what they were doing here, eyes were open buying houses with no money down, all interest loans, etc. Because everyone thought the prices would go up and up. And they were wrong. Risk is part of every purchase, especially the purchase of a home. Regulation wouldn’t have changed anything that happened, save to keep legitimate home owners from achieving their dreams.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    ‘Skerrick’, Stan? Now there’s a word I haven’t heard before. What’s the etymology?

  • Cindy

    Clav,

    Can you tell me what chupanomeans?

  • The Obnoxious American

    “Can you comment on the NYC dictatorship?”

    Do you really think it’s the same thing?

    …ponders….

    OK, Maybe you got a point….

  • The Obnoxious American

    “it puzzles me that you howl so loudly over the President’s admonition that the recipients of federal money should do exactly that.”

    I will respond by QUOTING MYSELF from this article :>

    I don’t remember the president calling anyone in congress out on the wasteful spending that was put in the stimulus. Not a peep about condoms, or a gripe about sod on the National Mall. Obama actually defended pork as stimulus. Obama’s definition of “wasteful spending” is arbitrary at best. The real message in President Obama’s statement is: Spend the money the way Obama wants, or you will be crucified from the President’s bully pulpit and in the press. Not a good recipe for re-election, putting local politicians between an untenable rock and a hard place in serving their constituents. “

    Roger,

    Nice quote. For what it’s worth, you have my promise that I will certainly, at some point in the future, discuss each of these in much more detail on their own.

  • Hope and Change?

    chupanomeans – Fat Liberal House Fraus

    chupanomeanum – A Group of Fat Liberal House Fraus

  • Cindy

    lol H&C

    whatever anyone else says, i do find you funny, now and then.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger @ #54:

    I think you may be getting warm. While my misgivings about Señor Hugo are not insignificant, something’s never smelled quite right about conservative America’s strenuous animosity towards him.

    Censure where censure is due, they say. (Well, all right, they don’t, but I hereby coin that phrase.) But Latin America has spawned plenty of dictators – many actively supported by the US – whose deeds make Hugo Chavez look like St Francis of Assisi.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    “Regulation wouldn’t have changed anything that happened, save to keep legitimate home owners from achieving their dreams.”

    You should say “their greed.” They were already homeowners, and legitimate ones, too. They just wanted to enrich themselves, taking the lead, I suppose, from our industry leaders.

    Everyone was responsible. It’s the American system showing first signs of thorough-going disintegration – easy money, divorcing profit-making from the product, Wall Street manipulations, getting rich without earning it.

    And it’s all coming up now to haunt us.

    Happy hunting.

  • Clavos

    Cindy,

    Context? chupano has no meaning I’m aware of, but chupando means sucking or suckling.

  • Cindy

    their greed

    Their “hope” maybe. Maybe their only hope.

    Maybe they were just trying to believe in the system that sold them that dream, by trying to utilize the only means they had of achieving it.

  • Cindy

    Clav,

    A quote from a self-proclaimed Chupano.

    Guatemalteco-Americano = Chupano ; )

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    “I don’t remember the president calling anyone in congress out on the wasteful spending that was put in the stimulus. Not a peep about condoms…”

    Removed from the bill, although I don’t agree that that would have been wasteful spending.

    “…or a gripe about sod on the National Mall.”

    Removed from the bill.

  • Clavos

    Doc @#62,

    Crap. A facile dismissal.

    I censure him for the reasons I have laid out in the articles about him that I’ve written here on BC, just as I would censure any similar dictator.

    I do not subscribe to the “He may be an SOB, but at least he’s our SOB” school of thought.

    He also represents a clear and present danger to us as he cozies up to the likes of Ahmadinejad, Putin and Kim Jong Il.

    But Latin America has spawned plenty of dictators – many actively supported by the US – whose deeds make Hugo Chavez look like St Francis of Assisi.

    So? That makes Hugo acceptable?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Here is a good, if funny*, explanation of at least part of the financial crisis. I do wonder what Barley Frank and Slim Reed would have to say about it.

    Dan(Miller)

    *Time for my meds; sorry, gotta go.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    “Their ‘hope’ maybe. Maybe their only hope.”

    GREED is the right word. Most people underestimate the extent to which most Americans had bought into the system. Everyone was after “easy money” – the almighty dollar being the epitome of everyone’s hopes and dreams and their only religion.

    Now they’re paying the consequences. And they wonder, “How come?”

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    All I can say is that I hope writing dumb articles with silly inflammatory titles helps OA vent some steam and feel better.

    Virtually every example he uses is based on a half-truth and/or a distortion rather than evidence. But that has become par for the course around here – why quote someone accurately when an out-of-context bit serves your purpose better?

    I am interested in one false point in particular:
    Whose taxes are being raised? [The Geithner-related link next to this dubious assertion does not seem to work.]

    There are many tax cuts in the stimulus bill, and there is talk of allowing some or most of the Bush tax cuts to expire after next year, although that hasn’t actually happened yet. And Bobby Jindal is bravely saving Louisiana businesses from [putative? imaginary?] future tax hikes – never mind what he is doing to Louisiana’s unemployed in the near term.

    One final thing: STM is completely right that it isn’t the mortgages themselves that caused the meltdown, but the insanely complex derivatives invented to securitize them. These mathematical wonders leveraged the amount of money involved so much that they made people unbelievably rich — until, of course, they crashed and practically destroyed the world. [And may yet do so.]

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I censure him for the reasons I have laid out in the articles about him that I’ve written here on BC, just as I would censure any similar dictator.

    Well, Clav, you know a lot more about Latin America than yer average pundit.

    I do not subscribe to the “He may be an SOB, but at least he’s our SOB” school of thought.

    Good.

    That makes Hugo acceptable?

    Of course not. St Francis was a nutbucket. But his acceptability to us at some point sets a collision course with the majority of Venezuelans who, for the time being at least, do seem to find him acceptable. That may change, of course – and soon, if Roger’s forecast is right.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Doc,

    Those items were removed after being exposed by the GOP and it became politically expedient to remove. Had the GOP never bothered to read the bill, had it not been made an issue (big ups to the Media for telling the truth on this btw), these items would still be in there, and perhaps more. But whether it was removed or not is totally besides the point.

    The Point: this is a far far cry from the “calling out” that Obama promised to do on his soapbox Friday, making his grandiose claims there look absurd and fake. If Obama was going to call anyone out on wasteful spending, he’s have to start with Pelosi and Reid first and foremost. Yes, building a monorail from Disneyland to Vegas IS pork.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    PS I think you’ll find that most Democrats — certainly this one — place at least as high a value on freedom as you do. Implying otherwise is just a cheap shot.

    A cheap shot, on Blogcritics! Imagine that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I do agree with Clavos here. A dictator is a dictator, regardless.

    Pisistratus may have been an exception. But even there, the opinion was divided. If I remember correctly, Solon’s reforms came next.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    building a monorail from Disneyland to Vegas IS pork

    Tell that to all the piggy engineers and porky construction workers who will get jobs out of it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    OK, OA. Let’s do!

  • Clavos

    ..or tell t to Uncle Walt (or his heirs) or the Mafiosi who own Vegas — if you dare.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “Virtually every example he uses is based on a half-truth and/or a distortion rather than evidence. But that has become par for the course around here – why quote someone accurately when an out-of-context bit serves your purpose better?”

    I did no such thing, and such a claim is laughable given how each point is linked to it’s source. Don’t believe me? Read the link. Think I am taking something out of context? Read the link. But hey, you sure sounded like you were right for a second…

    “I am interested in one false point in particular:
    Whose taxes are being raised? [The Geithner-related link next to this dubious assertion does not seem to work.]”

    Um, all of us, especially those who pay taxes now? See, the fact is this is a tremendous amount of spending and it’s been just a single month! Do you really think we can pay for all of this by only taxing the “wealthiest few?” We already tax those people, we tax them ALOT. You can keep squeezing but eventually that lemon is going to stop making juice. Next up, middle class. And baby boomer entitlements haven’t even started yet….

    “There are many tax cuts in the stimulus bill, and there is talk of allowing some or most of the Bush tax cuts to expire after next year, although that hasn’t actually happened yet. “

    Handyguy, People who don’t pay taxes aren’t getting a tax cut, they are getting a handout. So there is wealth distrubution for sure, and maybe some tax cuts for some, but let’s not act like this thing is rife with real, meaningful tax cuts. It’s not. It is however loaded with lots and lots of spending, on loan from the Chinese and this will have to be paid back like all of the other debt America holds.

    And letting the Bush tax cuts expire, that’s called a TAX INCREASE.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Here, Roger, let me fix it for you:

    Now they’re [we’re] paying the consequences. And they [we] wonder, “How come?”

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Yes, building a monorail from Disneyland to Vegas IS pork.

    The Monorail Society should know a bit about that:

    “The money has not been earmarked for any particular project at this point, and there are many HSR projects in the USA hoping to get a piece of the pie.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Doc #62,

    It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

    I had no idea, though, this article could generate that much controversy. So let’s explore it!

  • Cindy

    Re #69

    Dan(Miller),

    That may have been the hardest I laughed without actually fatally aspirating* my beverage.

    * I have left my husband complete documentation regarding your unrelenting and unapologetic humor, your whereabouts, and your former profession. Just in case.

  • STM

    Doc: “‘Skerrick’, Stan? Now there’s a word I haven’t heard before. What’s the etymology?”

    No idea, Doc … I suspect it’s Irish though, given our strong celtic background here.

    As you’d have guessed, it means a very small, possibly almost miniscule, amount.

    My guess would be that there’s a word used in gaelic that sounds very much like it and means the same thing. Not sure. though.

    There are other words thought to derive from the Irish that have crept into the lexicon here.

    Another famous one is “larrikin”, although some commentators say it originally comes from the Black Country, not from Ireland. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

  • The Obnoxious American

    “PS I think you’ll find that most Democrats — certainly this one — place at least as high a value on freedom as you do. Implying otherwise is just a cheap shot. “

    Not if the Democratic President remains mum on the issue of Venezuela, or supports EFCA, punitive taxation on success, passes laws in the night while running on the promise of “sunlight.” I’m sure you place a high value on freedom, but not if you support these actions.

    “Tell that to all the piggy engineers and porky construction workers who will get jobs out of it.”

    Yeah, jobs that won’t be needed the second the government dole runs out. Sorry, but the monorail is what’s known as Busywork. While we’re at it, let’s get the government to pay people to not work. Oh wait, we already did that when we bailed out GM…

    Look, perhaps projects like the monorail will goose the system to start moving on it’s own. But I’ve yet to see any concrete evidence that it will. I have seen plenty of historical data that suggests the economy will goose itself to life soon enough without spending trillions, so this whole thing just seems like the awesomest of power grabs. Are you really for freedom?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    To many conservatives, all government spending is basically pork.

    The bill contains lotsa spending you don’t like, so in partisan shorthand, you yell, “pork!” over and over.

    You say that Obama calls pork “stimulus.” Believe it or not, he and I disagree with you, and genuinely believe that your putative “pork” is stimulative. You don’t believe it, but your difference of opinion is not proof of anything, except maybe…pigheadedness?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I’ll go along with the editing, Dan. Why not?

  • Cindy

    um, help in the forgot to close my tag isle…

  • The Obnoxious American

    “The bill contains lotsa spending you don’t like, so in partisan shorthand, you yell, “pork!” over and over.”

    With all due respect Handyguy, you are the guy shouting in support of a monorail from Anahiem to Vegas. Seriously. There is already a highway and ample air travel accomodations, so is this really needed?

    May I remind you good sir that usually the government builds something of the 8 billion dollar magnitude when there is a reason to build it. Usually the reason has to be more, than to just build it. Are we going to start building everything just to build it now? This is the monorail to nowhere…

    The real question is, does Vegas need this monorail? Seems to me people will go to Vegas as much or as little as before, regardless of whether there is a mag lev that can take them. Keep your eye on the ball is all I can ask.

  • Cindy

    will this fix it? sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t

  • STM

    OA: “Regulation wouldn’t have changed anything that happened.”

    Regulation would have stopped the virtual pyramid trading scheme in derivatives that ultimately led the whole house of cards to collapse.

    Without the regulations, lenders were free to pursue just about anyone and give money to them. This isn’t about politics, either – of course the Democrats have had a role to play in the financial collapse.

    But the blame can’t be pinned on Obama, who’s been there for barely a month.

    On regulation: It’s why it didn’t happen here … the lending, borrowing and investment criteria in this country is far stricter and underpinned by legislation.

    It’s also why we have limited exposure to the kind of toxic debt from the US that is sinking other countries.

    The banks are still lending a lot of money for mortgages here at pretty reasonable rates provided people meet the criteria. That criteria includes the ability to repay the debt.

    So yes, in my experience, regulation does have a role to play.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I know nothing about this railway proposal. On face value at least, it seem ridiculous. And to Vegas of all places? There surely most be a better way to spend the taxpayers’ money.

  • STM

    Nice headline, BTW, OA … guaranteed to up the comment ratio big-time.

  • The Obnoxious American

    STM,

    I kind of agree, though it’s laughable that you are espousing responsible lending practices when the housing plan calls for more loans through freddy and fannie. And when those same irresponsible practices were previously cheered on by guys like Barney Frank, who are now deeply involved in all of these so called bail outs.

    “But the blame can’t be pinned on Obama, who’s been there for barely a month.”

    I never blamed Obama for the mortgage crisis. I did blame Democrats in general for their role, and I do blame Obama for not forwarding the right solution now that he is leading this country.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Yeah, an enticing title.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Which connects, BTW, to the theme of socialism.

    We’re doomed, and the rest of the world with it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    The real question is, does Vegas need this monorail?

    Misses the point, which is that there is money for transport infrastructure in the bill, and one of many candidates is the proposed monorail. Personally I think if any new rail project is going to be funded it should be the badly-needed California High Speed Rail system, which voters approved a bond measure for in November but which is probably going to need more cash than that to get off the ground.

    I’m at a loss to know how infrastructure spending is pork. It’s not as if it’s a proposal to build a monorail over the ocean from Alcatraz to the Farallon Islands. It would connect two of the West’s major metropolises.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I don’t argue about “infrastructure spending” in general, just that particular project.

    Nevada has got a long way to go before it becomes a viable metropolis, sufficient to say to least to warrant that kind of expenditure.

    There must be better ways to spend public money – that’s all I’m saying.

  • Tony

    I think this site gets more Republican by the day. I refuse to call you people Conservatives because most of you don’t have the faintest idea what that stands for anymore.

    I don’t have any really intellectual input other than the fact that I find it disgusting that, after our long history of disastrous foreign intervention, there are still citizens that operate under the assumption that it is our job to impose our systems on every country in the world.

    It is the responsibility of the people of a nation to choose their own form of government. That is freedom. It is also the responsibility of the populous of a nation to overthrow a government that does not suite their needs or rights; just as we did at the birth of our own nation.

    Are you Republicans so ignorant to the part that our repugnant defense spending has contributed to this financial crisis? How can you people possibly justifying spending any more money or resources to “free” foreign people when Americans are being booted out onto the streets in records numbers. Sounds pretty un-American to me, or do Republicans have a monopoly on that term?

    If you want to figure out what has happened with this mortgage crisis stop looking for a party and start looking at the federal reserve. A body regulating interest rates in a FREE market. Doesn’t sound very free to me. Understand the manipulation of interest rates, understand how those created “bubbles,” and you will understand what has happened here. Or better yet, read Ron Paul’s manifesto and his suggested reading sources on economics.

  • STM

    Tony: “If you want to figure out what has happened with this mortgage crisis stop looking for a party and start looking at the federal reserve. A body regulating interest rates in a FREE market”.

    Mate, that’s NOT the reason for the current financial crisis. Not even close.

    Instead of just reading Ron Paul’s stuff, do a bit of proper research.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Roger,

    When was the last time you went to Vegas? There’s a bit more to it than just the Strip and Fremont Street.

    Two million people live in the Las Vegas urban area. That’s a metropolis by any gauge.

  • STM

    OA: “I kind of agree, though it’s laughable that you are espousing responsible lending practices when the housing plan calls for more loans through freddy and fannie”.

    All helps, OA, to keep that money going around.

    The government in Australia currently gives $21,000 cash to people building a new first home, and $14,000 to people buying a first house or apartment.

    It used to be a flat $7000 pre-crisis, plus some tax relief.

    Some people say that’s irresponsible – I say it helps keep jobs and keeps the money going around, and in the case of the $21,000, it’s helping the building industry to keep going.

    It’s led to a mortgage boom over the past few months.

    I was sceptical at first, though. But stimulus packages aren’t that different anywhere they’re being tried. They’re just designed to keep everything greased and working, even if they seem rridiculous at the time, because often they do work.

    Also, nowhere in my posts did I suggest it was all the fault of the Republicans. It’s not, and you’ll find that American politics are very to the right of anywhere else in the developed world.

    Even the democrats would be regarded as centre-right, rather than left, in most places I know.

    So I don’t think this has anything to do with two-party politics, rather a national mindset that refuses to believe it can be wrong about anything like this – even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    Call me the Obnoxious fu.king Aussie, if you like, and the debvil’s advocate sticking the finger up at you – I’m certainly one of them, and I couldn’t give a rat’s.

  • Tony

    Actually, mate, manipulating interest rates to create artificial values on commercial and residential properties, and than individuals drawing equity out of those inflated entities is a huge reason we are in this problem.

    I do my research, mate, but that’s for trying to belittle me. Referencing one persons work or ideas does not mean one subscribes to those beliefs lock stock and barrel, that is, unless we are discussing whatever the current Republican platform is.

  • STM

    Tony: “It is also the responsibility of the populous of a nation to overthrow a government that does not suite their needs or rights; just as we did at the birth of our own nation.”

    Well, that depends on your point of view, of course.

    I regard Americans as traitors to the Crown and a people who turned their backs on their own kith and kin – the ones who gave them everything that’s good about America, especially in regard to their personal freedoms and the rule of law, including the basis of the constitution.

    Most Americans weren’t interested in revolution at the outset, and Americans were very far from an opprssed people.

    Nah, it was more about a clique determined to maintain their grasp on power, wealth and influence.

    The evidence of that can still be seen today in such institutions as the electroral college, which is basically a nod to the notion that the great unwashed can’t be fully trusted to elect a president.

    Not to mention government by oligarchy and faux democracy that has removed power from the hands of the people and given it to a bunch of rich and powerful folk who are little different from those feudal Lords of England whom the revolutionaries chose to toss.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Good thoughts, Tony. And don’t get discouraged, please. It’s America and we’re all free to say what we think.

    But I do have this question to you, OA, for you say, and unequivocally, “I do blame Obama for not forwarding the right solution now that he is leading this country.”

    So I put it forward to you, and to Nally, and all the lesser lights – and we know full well that this site is saturated with all nonesuch – what is the right solution? Would you please be kind enough to enlighten us, all the peons here who only try to do what’s the best for our country, but for lack of our ignorance, poor education, language skills, perhaps even not being patriotic enough to your standards, whatever other faults you can throw at us, what can we possibly do to measure up to your idea of love of the country.

    I’d really like to know because I do believe myself to be an American, no less than you consider yourself to be, OA. So in what way, do tell me, do I, or many others who happen to share this or similar point of view, are really defective in your eyes and undeserving of the title?

    I do think, and sincerely, that if you were really honest with yourself and get off your high horse and level with us, tell us what you really think and treat us as your intellectual equals, we could make strides, and progress, and perhaps a sense of togetherness – all united under a common cause.

    So what shall it be – Nally and crowd? A never-ending polemic or the meeting of minds.

    I know where I’d like to be. I rather save the country than win an argument. Are you of the same mind, too?

  • STM

    Nice traitors, though … despite the gross act of betrayal :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    So you’re saying, STM, that America was founded on a myth?

  • Tony

    I get discourage because I hear all this theoretical bs from both sides on what caused this problem and it drives me nuts. I am a small business owner and control a number of real estate interests in Michigan and Florida. I’ve seen, in the most micro-sense, the repercussions of the manipulation of the markets by the fed, the banks cutting off lines of credit on responsible, paying customers, and the markets collapsing. It’s repulsive. Is it really so hard to believe that, in different economic conditions, different philosophies apply?

    I know multi-millionaires who were heavily invested in stocks and commercial properties that have lost everything. And yet Republicans cannot get off of their ideological high horse and start dealing with the situation pragmatically instead of simply striving to apply blame. And then we have articles like this arguing that we should use resources to promote democracy in South America.

    George Bush did a lot of harm to this country but perhaps the worst thing he did was to pervert his party and its followers to the point that we as Americans were forced to turn to a freakin democrat during the worst financial crisis since the depression.

  • Cindy

    (sigh) how very depressing all of these ideas are.

  • STM

    Yes, that’s my view – although don’t take it personally.

    There’s a clue in the fact that 200 years later, we’re almost identical, if you make allowances for two quite different national pysches, even down to our laws.

    Now, we didn’t get our laws from you.

    We got ’em from the Brits. But I can watch Law and Order and see it as the exact same process, but just without courtroom wigs and silk robes :)

    Even down to the cops reading crims their rights.

    What’s that tell ya?

    Taking the path of least resistance can sometimes be just as good a path?

  • Tony

    You’re right that Americans were traitors to the crown but that doesn’t preclude the fact that they — or at the very least those in charge of the formation of the republic — determined independence and achieved it. They formulated their new government, essentially themselves (with help from the natural rights philosophers and the Magna Carta obviously), and we now live by their decisions of our own accord.

    So I guess I’m not sure I see your point? Americans also ravaged an indigenous culture and to this day keep them living in disgusting conditions like dogs as we prosper off of the land they were born on. The whole Trail of Tears and what not.

    I don’t think I was making a patriotic argument. My argument was over the allocation of resources and the true meaning of freedom. Each country has the freedom to choose their own government or they are not free. They also have the freedom to rebel against that government, whether just or not, as we did.

    I argue that there are bigger priorities for the money that we don’t have, then to “spend” it on helping foreign populations.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    A few points [I’ll put them in more easily digestible separate comments]:

    Fannie and Freddie are owned and run by the government now — which is what the GOP wanted for years. Processing loans through them now is not identical to processing loans through them when they were trying to please shareholders — which led them to invest in toxic derivatives. So don’t use “Fannie and Freddie” as partisan shorthand for “shenanigans.”

    And the mortgage relief efforts are not designed as handouts; their main purpose is to increase home values and lift the whole market.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Obama held a genuinely bipartisan seminar today on “fiscal responsibility” [Judd Gregg thumbed his nose at it, but quite a few very conservative Republicans showed up and praised the meeting] and will also focus on fiscal issues when he speaks to Congress tomorrow night.

    No doubt some will enjoy making fun of all this, but he’s talking about substantially reducing the deficit by the end of his term. If he fails to deliver on that, it’s his ass. So I assume he’s sincere and will do it, or make a valiant attempt.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    As Doc points out, the “$8 billion monorail” is a figment of GOP propagandists’ imagination. High speed rail is one of the best things we could possibly spend money on, for jobs and for benefit to the country. At any rate, by harping on this one non-issue, you risk diluting your point.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    And pretending that “card check” [EFCA] is a freedom of speech issue is more GOP doublespeak. Already, right now, the usual way to a secret-ballot election is….[drum roll] cards, checked by 30% of employees. If 51% of employees check cards, unions, with convincing logic, say why have an election? And there is a substantial unpleasant history of companies using intimidation to prevent fair elections.

    What it’s really about is not fair speech, but politics, i.e., votes and money going to Democrats if more people join unions. So why not say so? Because it sounds more ominous if you misleadingly paint Obama as anti-free-speech.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Tony,

    I really think this preoccupation with Venezuela is a subterfuge – an attempt by some to divert our attention from what’s really important. I’m not saying – and neither are you, if I’m reading correctly between the lines – that we should be totally impervious of what’s happening outside of our own backyard. But at this point in time, perhaps we can’t afford the luxury. There’s a bigger fish to fry and we had better tend to it before it’s too late. The future of the world may depend on that.

    So don’t give up, buddy, despite misdirected efforts on this or any site. Keep on plugging in.
    We need you.

    Roger

  • Baronius

    Handy, I really don’t follow your reasoning in comment #115. I’d appreciate it if you could flesh it out. As for Obama’s fiscal responsibility, what choice is there but to make fun of it? We’ll have 2-3 consecutive years of $1,000,000,000,000 deficits, after which it would be almost impossible not to decrease deficit spending.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Tony,

    I’m bypassing the last comment in the interest of advancing understanding. Are you with me?

  • Tony

    Roger, unfortunately, independent thought is a dwindling resource in this country. Instead of opening our minds to various economic and political models — and the evolution of existing ones — striving to pluck the best concepts from all, and filter out ineffectiveness, to create an institution that consistently strives towards greater efficiency, its much easier for people to prescribe to a political platform and simplify the thought processes. It caters to the herd mentality of humanity in general. As one commenter noted; there would be have been no American revolution without the intellectual elite “founding fathers.” Hell, most people don’t even vote.

    As for your interpretation of my view on our prioritizing of foreign and domestic policy, you are correct.

  • STM

    Tony: “You’re right that Americans were traitors to the crown”.

    Not that it wasn’t a legitimate path to take, though …

    However, had there been no American revolution, it’s highly likely that America would have been self-governing not long after anyway given the prevailing view in Britain, the subsequent change of goverment, a lessening of the king’s influence on parliament through his (illegal) meddling parliamentary clique, which was why the War of Independence was regarded as an unnatural war and why it was highly unpopular in Britain at the time.

    All that temporary nastiness aside, the worst aspect of it was that Americans – pragmatic bunch that they are – turned their backs on their own and got into bed with those turncoat, bouffant-headed, perfumed nancy boys from the other side of the English Channel – who unlike Britain, which had at worst had a meddling king with no real legal power to overrule parliament, at the time had a King who believed in absolute monarchy and would never have granted the kinds of rights Americans sought – something that had ended in Britain 100 years earlier.

    Don’t say you weren’t warned about perfidious Gaul, though …

    Now, back to the myth of Obama and the dreadful assault on freedom.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Whatever you do, Tony, visit now and then. We need a voice of reason.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Baronius —

    Even if John McCain had been elected, there would have been a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit for the current year. I think your remark is a bit too flip to be taken seriously. Let’s see what figures the president actually proposes. I know this kind of spending makes you hyperventilate, but try, try to be fair instead of snide. Do you remember how?

    As for the unions issue, both the union side and the corporate side of the argument are a bit self serving. But defining it as a free speech issue is misleading. That’s not what it is at all.

    Bottom line, it’s about political power. Dems welcome having more union members, Republicans hate the thought of it.

    I believe EFCA will become law. Portraying it as an attack on freedom is an Orwellian word-twisting game.

  • STM

    Roger: “Whatever you do, Tony, visit now and then. We need a voice of reason”.

    He’s right, Tony, … you are a man of reason, even if I don’t agree with everything you say. Keep coming back (even if you strike people like me whose true allegiance will always be to the Crown :)

    A million viewpoints are what makes the world tick. The best bit is, we’re not out shooting each other over it.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    So I put it forward to you, and to Nally, and all the lesser lights – and we know full well that this site is saturated with all nonesuch – what is the right solution? Would you please be kind enough to enlighten us, all the peons here who only try to do what’s the best for our country, but for lack of our ignorance, poor education, language skills, perhaps even not being patriotic enough to your standards, whatever other faults you can throw at us, what can we possibly do to measure up to your idea of love of the country.

    Snide and condescending is always the best way to get a response, Roger. But I’ll overlook the attitude and address your question, briefly as you haven’t earned any more.

    It’s a lot easier to identify a problem than it is to come up with a solution.

    What we know is that out of control spending during the Bush administration was a major contributing factor to the overall problem in the economy. That being the case, how could more excessive spending be the solution? The idea that you can spend your way out of recession makes no sense when you’re getting the monmey you spend by further enlarging the deficit which is helping to cause the recession in the first place.

    As for solutions, I’ve talked about this before. IMO we’d be better off doing absolutely nothing except using government oversight to regulate and guide the bankruptcy of insolvent banks and other large businesses so that their assets can be revalued, sold and put to use by surviving, more responsible banks and businesses. The government would pay out to cover bank deposits and provide loans to assist in corporate takeovers of failed companies, but that would produce far less liability than the current approach.

    This would be a responsible way to deal with the situation. Failing that, if you want to go the route of government handouts, then do it in a serious way. First off, a great deal of what is in the “stimulus” package isn’t stimulating. It doesn’t create jobs or help people directly. It’s a bunch of pet projects and spending on programs with very little stimulative value. That’s just a waste of money and time.

    As for what real aid there is, it’s used inefficiently. Putting the money through the hands of state governments and bureaucrats and hirelings and contractors before it gets to people in the form of welfare and jobs is grossly inefficient. It reduces the amount of aid that gets to actual people and it delays the rate at which that aid gets distributed. If that’s how you want to spend all this money you’d be better off taking the $800 billion and just mailing a check for $5000 to every person who filed a tax return last year. The cost would be lower overall and the money would go directly into the economy and have a substantial and much more immediate stimulating effect. We’d still pay a big price in inflation down the road, but a large direct stimulus would work in ways which a slow and diluted one will not.

    That what you were looking for, Roger?

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Snide and condescending is always the best way to get a response, Roger. But I’ll overlook the attitude and address your question, briefly as you haven’t earned any more.

    That’s told you, Roger. Now go and stand in the corner!

    😉

  • Clavos

    “Snide and condescending”

    …a pretty good limning of Señor Roger…

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dr. D. here in Texas corporal punishment is still legal…

    Dave

  • STM

    What, Dave, like a good caning, that kind of stuff?? Doc’s a Pom, he’d probably be interested.

    We used to get caned at school here for our transgressions. Only at boys’ schools, or only for boys at co-ed schools, though and mostly on the hand. As a near-constant transgressor, I constantly had sore hands, which some people might have thought was a good thing for other reasons for boys in puberty and teens.

    I once got 12 … six on each hand that turned into bright crimson blood blister weals for smoking in the PE (Gym) shed – caught a second time. My mum blew up and made a special trip up to the school and embarrassed me by threatening to cane the deputy prinicipal. He beat a hasty retreat and promised to suspend me next time. Yippee … two weeks of surfing.

    I also copped it on the arse once for being “out of bounds” in the bushland down the back, with about 30 other boys. I made sure I was at the end of the caning line so by the time the teacher got round to me, his caning arm was tired and it didn’t hurt. Yep, you guessed it – smoking again :)

    We also had a punishment called the Greenbook, which you got for “wagging” – truanting. Or is that “skipping class” in Yankee-speak?

    You got your very own little greenbook that had to be kept in pristine condition – or you got caned. You had to report every morning to the discipline master (how very British, that name), get it signed for an entire term at every class, and if the teacher wrote something bad in it, like “He farted around for the whole of double maths”, you got six, three on each hand. If you actually did something bad, you got 12.

    They banned caning here in the 80s. At some Catholic schools, they used a long, thick leather strap instead. I copped that once and it hurt like f.ck too.

    I reckon they should bring it back, and teach them young out-of-control punks a lesson or two.

  • STM

    “If you actually did something bad, you got 12.”

    Like the Year 12 boys who painted “F.ck” (with all four letters) in bright red paint on the nice, white sloping art-room roof, which faced the school quadrangle and could be seen by all and sundry, including passers-by, and which took weeks for the Education Department contractors to clean off.

    And the boarders at another school who kept breaking into the tuck shop at night and pinching everything, caught out with that old trick – indelible ink plastered surreptitiously around the inside shelves.

    Show of purple hands next morning and they were sunk.

    Ah, yes, the old school days …

  • STM

    Dan, just had time to check out the link on the interview with the pommy investment banker. What a hoot. I’ve never seen those two before.

    Kind of almost explained it all too, much better than any financial analyst.

  • Andy

    In countries like Venezuela where Corruption is rampant and out of control, where poverty and crime is on the rise, elections can be bought.

    The largest employer in a country is the government, the private sector refuses to give work to the so called ¨Electorate¨ because they are afraid of changing economic conditions (there is no economic continuity in Venezuela, the rules are constantly changing to Chavez´s will; nationalizations), the poor find themselves voting in favor of the government because they fear losing their job.

    Chavez recently changed the voting machines a while back ago, he has a detailed list of who works for the government and whom they voted for. Do leftist believe this is democracy? but elections in countries like venezuela, can be bought, or in this case, win by extortion.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I doubt our GOP buddies bothered to watch the ‘fiscal responsibility’ seminar yesterday. With Prof. Obama standing at a podium, calling on ‘students’ in the audience such as John McCain and Eric Cantor, it was the best TV program on yesterday. The president looked totally at ease, 100% in control, and was also quite droll.

    From the NY Times:

    Looking toward two of his Republican critics — Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who will deliver his party’s response to Mr. Obama’s address on Tuesday night, and Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi — Mr. Obama expressed irritation that the measure’s foes had singled out relatively small provisions to condemn the entire package.

    “If we agree on 90 percent of this stuff and we’re spending all of our time on television arguing about one, two, three percent,” he said, “that starts to sound a little like politics.”

    Just a little, yeah.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    One more Obama quote from this morning’s Times:

    Mr. Obama said he had “one last point I want to make.” He took issue with news reports that the administration was “doing a pivot,” as he characterized it, “because we had just moved forward on the recovery package, now we’re talking about fiscal responsibility. How did those two things match up?”

    The stimulus package stemmed from the advice of “the vast majority of economists,” he said. “I have no interest in making government bigger for the sake of it. I’ve got more than enough on my plate.”

    Has it ever occurred to any of you nay-sayers that he actually means what he says? Is that so far fetched?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I don’t always find that the editorial page of the NY Times lives up to the quality of the news pages. But this morning’s fierce lead editorial is an exception:

    What Part of ‘Stimulus’ Don’t They Get?

    Imagine yourself jobless and struggling to feed your family while the governor of your state threatens to reject tens of millions of dollars in federal aid earmarked for the unemployed. That is precisely what is happening in poverty-ridden states like Louisiana and Mississippi where Republican governors are threatening to turn away federal aid rather than expand access to unemployment insurance programs in ways that many other states did a long time ago.

    What makes these bad decisions worse is that they are little more than political posturing by rising Republican stars, like Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. This behavior reinforces the disturbing conclusion that the Republican Party seems more interested in ideological warfare than in working on policies that get the country back on track.

    Fortunately, as President Obama prepares for his first address to Congress on Tuesday evening, voters of both parties have noticed. About three-quarters of those polled in a recent New York Times/CBS News survey — including more than 60 percent of Republicans — said Mr. Obama has been trying to work with Republicans. And 63 percent said Republicans in Congress opposed the stimulus package primarily for political reasons, not because they thought it would be bad for the economy. It should be sobering news for Republicans that about 8 in 10 said the party should be working in a bipartisan way.

    The governors are blowing smoke when they suggest that the federal unemployment aid would lead directly to new state taxes. No one knows what the economic climate will be when the federal aid has been used up several years from now. But by dumping billions of dollars into shrinking state unemployment funds, which puts money into the hands of people who spend it immediately on food and shelter, the stimulus could help the states through the recession and into a time when unemployment trust funds can be replenished. In other words, the stimulus could make a tax increase less likely.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    #124 through #126:

    Yes, I did deserve that and will stand in the corner for ten minutes (but, in justification, was only employing a similar method that Dave himself often uses to flesh out his opponents).

    A fairly good response, Dave. The bureaucracies will eat out much of that money – more fraud and corruption.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Roger, I don’t find you snide…In fact you agree with practically everybody on here. Which is also annoying. =)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Well, Handy – Dave did raise some valid points there in his response and my agreeing with him there is not directed by any desire to be liked – this you can believe.

    On the other hand, the point you’re raising (in the post preceding) concerning the increase in unemployment benefits is a good one and one effective way of making sure the money goes directly to the people who have been hurt the most. Do you have any idea about the percentages, i.e., how of the Stimulus package is dedicated to that particular program?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Re: how much of the stimulus package involves increased unemployment benefits:

    In all 50 states added together, tens of billions. In each of the individual Southern states where GOP governors are grandstanding, considerably less than a billion each.

    The White House site, recovery.gov, shows graphs depicting where money is being spent. “Protecting the Vulnerable” is listed as $81 billion, not including tax cuts, which add another $61 billion [out of a total of $288 billion in tax cuts]. Protecting the Vulnerable also includes food stamps and health care provisions.

  • Dave Nalle

    Re: #134. Handy, you and the NYT editorialist clearly do NOT get what this protest is about. This unemployment expansion might help people in the short term, but in the long term it will break the budget of those states which accept it. The point of the protests is that the states do not have the funds to cover future years of expanded unemployment and will have to cut other services to pay that obligation thrust on them by the federal government. They want to be able to decide what to cut and what to fund in the future for themselves and if they take that federal money that choice is taken away from them and they may have to cut more essential services to cover that unemployment obligation. It’s entirely reasonable for them not to do that, and they can still expand unemployment on their own if they choose to.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    But I do see a problem here, even (or especially) if Dave is correct about the nature of the protest. The states will do what they will, and without the federal mandates, they will be no obligation whatever on their part to help those in needs.

    Perhaps cutting out some of the presently available services that the states provide – along with some of the bureaucracies – is not such a bad idea, especially if they’re put in the position that they must. But without federal mandates, there’ll be no compunction whatever to try to help and raise those who are most in need of help in terms of providing employment, etc. They’ll just rely on the federal government to be coming out with handouts without incurring any obligation in the matter themselves. It’s like washing one’s hands of the entire affair.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Dave, as the Times editorialist points out, you, I, Sanford and Jindal have no idea what the economic conditions will be when the federal funds run out.

    The amount of money a state pays out in unemployment is determined by the number of unemployed who qualify. If the economy improves even a little within a couple of years, the states won’t need more money because fewer people will be receiving benefits.

    And “helping people in the short run, but…” is an unacceptable construction for a valid argument. We need to help people, period. Sanford, Jindal and you put ideology before people. I think it’s reprehensible.

    In addition, the expanded eligibility rules in the bill [states get to choose two from a list of options] are already in place in 19 states. Nothing outrageous or wasteful about them.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Dave, as the Times editorialist points out, you, I, Sanford and Jindal have no idea what the economic conditions will be when the federal funds run out.

    The possibilities are fairly limited and predictable, and ALL of them are made worse for the states if they are obligated for unemployment for more people for a longer period of time than they would be otherwise. And we have to plan for the worst case scenario, not just pretend everything is going to be better.

    You seem not to grasp that this is state government we’re talking about, where every dollar means something to real people and where budgets have to be balanced by law, not like federal deficit heaven.

    The amount of money a state pays out in unemployment is determined by the number of unemployed who qualify. If the economy improves even a little within a couple of years, the states won’t need more money because fewer people will be receiving benefits.

    If the economy stays the same or even if it improves a little, this plan will leave more people on unemployment longer. If the economy goes south it will drive state governments into unsolvable deficits. When the only upside requires a near miracle — the most unlikely outcome — it’s a bad idea.

    And “helping people in the short run, but…” is an unacceptable construction for a valid argument. We need to help people, period.

    There’s more than one way to help people. Helping the economy recover will do more for more people than keeping a few on unemployment will do.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    Handy, you’ve said that Obama’s team won, so they get to make the choices. You rightly don’t expect him to start following conservative thought. To me, draining the credit market during a credit crisis seems like a bad plan. But I’m not going to accuse him of putting ideology before people. He’s acting on the people’s behalf, in a way consistent with his ideology.

    So are Sanford and Jindal.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Is it impossible to do both? See also #140.

    In addition, to say that “this is state government we’re talking about, where every dollar means something to real people” while treating those who have unemployed rather cavalierly is – to say the least – to employ a rather dubious distinction as to who the “real people” are and who are not.

    But then again, that’s perhaps what some of the states may want to do – not to be forced to help those who may need help the most, hoping the feds will do it without imposing any mandates.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    What, Dave, like a good caning, that kind of stuff?? Doc’s a Pom, he’d probably be interested.

    Never got caned, Stan, although it was still legal (and exercised) at both the high schools I attended. The only time I ever had corporal punishment inflicted on me by an educator was a sharp smack on the leg by my infant school (1st grade) headmistress. I can’t remember what for now exactly, but I have a vague feeling that it might have had something to do with rearranging some flower beds*.

    And goody-goody that I was, I truanted (we called it ‘hopping off’ or ‘bunking off’) exactly once. It was in the last few weeks of my final year of high school. All we were doing was revising and studying for the final exams – we weren’t learning anything new. Then we discovered that our regular teacher for the last class on Friday afternoon was out sick – and the stand-in was the worst teacher in the school. We knew the lesson would be complete chaos and nothing would get done; there was simply no point in showing up.

    So a bunch of us decided to go and play football in the park instead. No-one ever noticed we were gone. Such was my wild criminal career.

    * Based on the – at the time – revolutionary concept that the roses didn’t actually need to be in the ground.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Doc, what do you think of “Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking,” with Judy Dench and Cate Blanchard? A fairly accurate portrayal of the English school system? It was written by an American,

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Haven’t seen it, Roger, so I can’t really comment. I will say that the English school system underwent a major overhaul a couple of years after I left school: the educational experience itself would probably be almost unrecognisable to me now. But I doubt the actual culture of the state schools has changed all that much.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    You’ve got to rent that DVD from your video store. You’ll love it. The unusual thing here – the movie is better than the book – more streamlined and focused.

  • STM

    “Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking,”

    It was only called Notes on a Scandal here – didn’t need the extra bit.

    My wife’s seen it, I haven’t. Will do now though Rog.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Correct! The rest is superfluous. I don’t know how or why they managed to squeeze that into the title. You’ll love Judy and Cate, though. Superb performances.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Judi Dench can bring the house down just by asking, “Biscuit?”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    This just in!

    CNBC reporter Rick Santelli, whose passionate rant about the Obama housing rescue plan, and call for a “Chicago Tea Party” became a viral internet video, was arrested today by armed officers from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) covert special forces division. . . . “Mr. Santelli is certainly entitled to his wacky economic opinions,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs . . . .”I don’t know where Mr. Santelli lives, but apparently, like most conservative critics, he has a callous disregard for the lives of the waterfowl, sturgeon and fresh-water mollusks that inhabit the Lake Michigan watershed. If the Chinese were shipping us toys made with derivative securities, we’d recall our ambassador and cut off relations. If R.J. Reynolds were mixing derivative securities with its tobacco, cigarettes would be banned. Do you know what’s in those securities, Mr. Santelli?”

    The press secretary later said that final question was rhetorical since, like the recently-passed stimulus act, “no one really knows what’s in there yet.”

    This could, of course, be satire; one never know, do one?

    However, on a more serious note, the House of Representatives just passed a bill which, if enacted by the Senate and signed by President Obama, will effectively limit House chimps. The bill,

    H.R. 80, introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., . . . [would] stop interstate commerce in primates as pets. The bill passed by a vote of 323 to 95. The bill now moves for consideration to the U.S. Senate, where the effort to pass the legislation is being led by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and David Vitter, R-La.

    This is a crucial matter. For this reason, it is to be hoped that the Honorable Members had an opportunity to read the bill and that similar opportunity will be afforded their highly regarded colleagues in the Senate.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    STM,

    Another movie I heartily recommend is “The Perfumer: A portrait of a murderer,” with Dustin Hoffman and a young Shakespearean actor, can’t think of his name. But try to get hold of the book first by a German novelist, Suskind.

    “The Piano Teacher” is another great book by an Austrian writer, Jelinek, also a movie, which I haven’t seen yet. Also ‘The Libertine” with Johnny Depp – you’ll be surprised at his Shakespearean skills. Not to mention “A Good Woman,” after Oscar Wilde’s play.

    But I had better quit before I exhaust your patience.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Thanks, Handy. Sorry for misspelling her name.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Dan,

    First, I love your posts.

    Second, while the story about Santelli is satire, I am sure that living in a state run by Democrats, working in a sector run by Democrats, and just calling out the newly elected Democratic president, on his liberal housing plan of all things, a much much worse fate awaits Mr. Santelli.

    I just hope there is nothing in Santelli’s past, because right now, all those crack investigative journalists are just this week, turning away from Sarah Palin, and setting their sights on Rick Santelli.

    Third, while I am for limited government, not only should having chimps in your home be illegal, but if you have a chimp as a pet for years, and the chimp wilds out and starts ripping apart your friend, if you call the cops and yell, “shoot him, shoot him!”, the cops should be allowed to shoot both you and the chimp.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    But you’re having one in the White House, OA, let’s face it. So why not call a spade a spade and get done with it? Should we shoot him too, because he’s a chimp?

    In case you have any doubts, please do check the thread on the Chimp cartoon.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Obnoxious,

    I completely agree that having any wild animal as a house pet is absurd. They can be very cute when young, but dangerous after they reach puberty. A friend, living in a high rain forest area here in Panama, “adopted” an infant male howler monkey. He was cute, of course, and enjoyed eating breakfast at the table and swiping whatever he wanted. However, when he reached puberty, he wanted to join his brethren in the trees. Knowing nothing of life in the wild, he disappeared for long periods and then eventually did not return. He was probably killed by another male.

    The primate legislation will doubtless keep a few well meaning people from doing really dumb things. I hope so. On the other hand, I question whether this sort of legislation is the highest and best use of the Congress’ time — even though it may keep the Honorable Members from doing more dumb things.

    Dan(Miller)

  • The Obnoxious American

    Roger,

    To be quite honest with you, I think all men kind of look like apes. Especially older white guys with a pot belly.

    Dan,

    Agreed, it is just more nanny state legislation. When I was a kid, ferrets were illegal to have as pets too. And of course, I got one.

  • zingzing

    “”The Piano Teacher” is another great book by an Austrian writer, Jelinek, also a movie, which I haven’t seen yet.”

    ahh, that movie is by michael haneke, the lovely fellow who brought us funny games last year. piano teacher is quite a movie. very, very brutal. if you take nasty degradation and an honest rape or two, this is the movie for you.

    (funny games is actually an older haneke movie, but he remade it in the united states… its pointed attack on the modern american audience is quite a thrill. totally ironic and horribly hypocritical, but whatever.)

    haneke is one of the finest film makers out there, but i wouldn’t suggest more than one or two of his films within a month-long period. you’ll burn your sensors that way.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    But we are apes. Or hominids. Or hominid apes. Depending on which taxonomist you’re talking to.

  • Hope and Change?

    Most in here really dont care..however…if they outlaw Gerbils…there are sever folks in here that will march on DC…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Richard Gere

    But with no gerbils, where will the motive power come from to march?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Zing, you actually…like Michael Haneke? Yikes. Check Metacritic to see the amusingly appalled reviews the remake of Funny Games got. The trailer was enough to scare me away.

    Actually, Cache [Hidden] is pretty decent. But some of his stuff is reminiscent of that other horrible Eurotrash nihilist, Lars von Trier.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    So this discussion has now turned from Obama’s “attacks” on freedom, to gerbils and bad art films. Interesting.

  • Hope and Change?

    Richard…hmmmm..good point…now if they all march is a conga line that should fill the gape…. I mean gap!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    “all men kind of look like apes”

    You mistake resemblance for identity.
    Two different concepts, sorry.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Hey, zing,

    Haven’t heard from you lately. I think you should visit the cartoon thread and post a comment or two. I’m kind of tired to be exposed so much bufoonery. Enough’s enough. Need a fresh point of view.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    I weigh in here to say you should read comment #41 over and over and not get sidetracked into monkeys and movies (although Roger, the movied is called Perfume, not The Perfumer, and is marvelous)

    And STM I won’t respond to your remarks about the French:) athough I did find your takes on the Brits and Americans very….interesting.

    Here is comment 41. REQUIRED REREADING:

    How sub-prime happened: a few years back, an investment company, at a brainstorming weekend, came up with the idea of Wall St packaging up small parcels of mortgage debt, predicated on the notion that property prices would never fall, and sold them as investments.

    They became the “in” product, and were known as CDOs. To meet the demand for CDOs that were being touted by investment companies to investors all around the world, lenders in both non-bank and bank sectors were encouraged to offer more and more mortgages.

    This is the key factor in regard to your question: Because of the lack of regulation in regard to mortgage lending in the US, they kept lowering the criteria for who qualified to the point where it was almost inevitable the whole thing would collapse.

    Mortgage brokers in the US were urged to sign up as many people as possible so that investment banks could sell the SDOs and make more money. Many of the shysters on Wall St were earning huge bonuses, the more of these things they sold around the world as investments – in some cases the bonuses were in the multi-million dollar arena.

    The majority of “sub-pirme” loans were offered BY THE LENDERS on the basis that those who’d taken them could refinance later to pay a lower rate. Many were also working overtime and second jobs to pay them. As we came to see later, that also became a factor because as the financial crisis hit, many businesses also cut jobs and overtime.

    However, as I say, it became like a huge pyramid-selling scheme.

    It only took one factor to bring about the collapse – some defaults (a relatively small percentage initially). Once that started, and property prices began to fall, lenders were unwilling to refinance and the market became jittery because of the what it rightly understood would be serious fallout.

    Because of the ensuing financial crisis, the bottom fell out in 2008 – compounded by Credit Default Swaps, which were also a dreamt-up investment mechanism to make money for investment banks and their operatives that in the wash-up, now just appears to be a mechanism for shuffling toxic-debt around as an investment.

    A lot of large corporations in the US have exposure to that one.

    CDSs meant that capital could be freed up – but it left third parties bearing the brunt.

    Many large companies around the world were stung by the exposure to it and by the subsequent credit-freeze, which means banks won’t lend or refininace to keep big corporations going (and in the case of the auto companies, lending was slashed for new vehicles).

    Investors began to panic across the board, which is why the stockmarket plunged so dangerously.

    Because there has been a crisis of confidence, companies around the world have lost traditional markets and income streams. People wont’ invest, people aren’t buying, people can’t sell, they can’t export, they can’t manufacture, they can’t borrow (which is a key factor). In China, for instance, there are now millions of so-called “migrant” workers wandering the countryside out of jobs because of hundreds of factory closures. These would have been supplying a lot of goods to major markets in the West, including the US.

    While job losses in the US are a tad more civilised in terms of how they’re dealt with, the picture is still as bleak for the long term and it has nothing to do with Obama.

    This is a layman’s breakdown, but it’s a pretty accurate – if basic – portrait of what happened.

    I don’t think enough people in the US understand a) how and why the crisis came about, and b) what it means not just for America but for the whole world.

    We have been spared the brunt of it so far down here because of the regulations covering the finance sector, but there are already some job losses and we inevitably get caught up in the coat-tails of the US whatever happens.

    The idea that a whole lot of people who couldn’t afford mortgages signed up on the dotted line and caused this crisis is the reddest of red herrings.

    The real reason was the rampant greed that pushed for more and more mortgages (debt) so that they could be packaged up and sold to investors.

    The conditions of low regulation and small government that allowed those conditions to operate unfettered is the real cause of this crisis.

    I just can’t believe some of the stuff I read about this coming from the US that doesn’t appear to understand even a skerrick of the truth of it.

    Obama’s stimulus ideas, BTW, are pretty similar to those that have already been put in place elsewhere in the developed world (including here) and which appear so far to have staved off the worst of the crisis.

    How long that lasts, or whether they’ll work in the long term, is anyone’s guess – but economists generally agree that not doing something is FAR worse.

    The US government decided to do nothing during the Great Depression, and you know the result.

    Today, governments at least have the mechanisms in place to have a go. It’s the last throw of the dice, though …

    It’s THAT serious, and the conditions that created it were operating a long, long time before Obama came to office.

    The truth is, as I’ve said elsewhere, if Bush were still in office, he would be having to do much of the same and crossing his fingers the same way Obama is.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    It’s as cogent an analysis, Lisa, as one could possibly hope for. STM is saying basically the same thing, and I thoroughly concur.

    A question:

    “The US government decided to do nothing during the Great Depression, and you know the result.”

    I was under the impression that FDR was influenced by Keynesian economics and acted accordingly. So what are you saying here?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Lisa’s analysis is a bit longer than Stan Denham’s and a lot less entertaining than “Uncle Jay’s” but they all seem to sound alike.

    I gotta admit, I enjoy Uncle Jay the best.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    But on target.

  • Clavos

    Um guys,

    Lisa’s analysis is Stan’s #41.

    She was quoting him (as she indicated in her post).

    Wake up, dudes.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy, Lisa’s ‘analysis’ is Stan’s.

    She simply reposted it for emphasis.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Jinx, Clav.

    Two thinds with but a single mought.

  • Clavos

    …And there you have it from both the Left and the Right (coasts, that is).

  • Clavos

    Heh, Doc. Great minds, etc.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    I think she expanded on STM’s #41 somewhat – wasn’t exact quote.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    You should remember Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” – short story made into a movie. Except they don’t have to put a contraption on. It’s already intact.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I remember seeing that movie a few years ago. Sean Astin and Christopher Plummer, IIRC. Pretty astute satire.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Lisa’s analysis is Stan’s #41. She was quoting him (as she indicated in her post).

    Yeah, I guess she was, wasn’t she? I did kinda the same thing in Dave Nalle’s article (that’s pronounced NAWL as in “th-th-that’s awl folks!). I quoted Stan. But I still like Uncle Jay Kamen’s versions better. At least I get to laugh about it.

    Reading it all here just pisses me off….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Right. The short story is only 4-5 pages long, but the movie cleverly explores it. Kind of like “Clockwork Orange,” except it’s the state that does the violence to the people – to avert the Third American Revolution. And they do so by numbing them. The point being – the device may not be necessary. It’s already in effect.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    Then you’ll also like the one that Cindy posted in #72 on “Economic Crisis” thread.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Then you’ll also like the one that Cindy posted in #72 on “Economic Crisis” thread.

    Roger, I wanted to see that video but at the time, my computer was being hobbled by an antivirus program that continually scanned incoming files and made the computer work as fast as something out of 1985.

    Having disabled the offending auntie-virus, (I caned her into submission) I can go and attempt to watch the video.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ Roger Nowosielski

    Do it when you can. It’s in the tradition of “Monty Python.” You’ll love it if you have appreciate British humor.

  • zingzing

    handyguy: “Zing, you actually…like Michael Haneke? Yikes. Check Metacritic to see the amusingly appalled reviews the remake of Funny Games got. The trailer was enough to scare me away.”

    i really like movies that are painful to watch. like irreversible, happiness, visitor q, funny games, etc. and yeah, i like michael haneke. he splits critics right down the middle. a few critics will absolutely love him and say he’s the best thing ever, but many will be sickened by him. he provokes strong, complex reactions, which is better than the spielbergian “meh.”

    “Actually, Cache [Hidden] is pretty decent. But some of his stuff is reminiscent of that other horrible Eurotrash nihilist, Lars von Trier.”

    true, but i like lars von trier some of the time as well. dogville was excellent. some of his other stuff isn’t so grand. haneke is probably a nihilist. or, at least he hates the viewer.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What about David Lynch, zing? Don’t you just love him?

  • zingzing

    not really, roger. dunno why, but i’ve come to the conclusion that the trick to all of david lynch’s movies is that he is david lynch and you are not.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, he’s quite a dedicated director, hands-on in every respect. Quite dedicated to his trade. My favorite of course, “The Twin Peaks” series.
    It’s amazing, though, how much of what a movie you end up seeing at the end is slowly arrived at through editing and re-editing to no end. It’s an eye-opener.

  • zingzing

    well, it depends on my mood really. sometimes i think lynch should get his head out of his sick, sick ass. and sometimes, i think he’s quite brilliant. if i have one reaction, i can’t figure out how i ever had the other. but such is life.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Personally, I just think he had become too iconic before due time, and now it’s messing with his head. So he feels he must outdo himself every time out. To live up to his reputation.

  • Cindy

    zing,

    i looked at some youtube videos of funny games yesterday when i saw you post that. i also saw an interview with haneke discussing it. good interview.

    but…OMG…if the idea is to disturb, i think it would take a lot less to disturb me.

  • Cindy

    i couldn’t take it. not even just the tiny bit i saw.

  • zingzing

    the thing is, cindy, that it’s disturbing as hell, but there is very little actual onscreen violence. it plays out in your head. it’s also hilarious, which doubles the guilt.

    and roger, i’ll agree with that. he has to out-lynch himself.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Want to see a gory movie? See “The Perfume.”

  • Cindy

    zing,

    if you can get a hold of it sometime, i recommend one of my two favs…

    what happened was…

    by tom noonan.

    What Happened Was… is a 1994 independent film written, directed by and starring Tom Noonan. It is an adaptation of Noonan’s original play of the same name. It depicts two people on a first date; their conversation gradually reveals their hidden personalities. (Wikipedia)

    not violent…but, very strange.

  • zingzing

    i’ll keep an eye out for it. i think i’ve read something by this noonan guy, but i can’t quite recall.