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Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bailout Politics

Townhall.com Columnist 
Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nothing could more painfully demonstrate what is wrong with Congress than the current financial crisis.

Among the Congressional “leaders” invited to the White House to devise a bailout “solution” are the very people who have for years created the risks that have now come home to roost.

Five years ago, Barney Frank vouched for the “soundness” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and said “I do not see” any “possibility of serious financial losses to the treasury.”

Moreover, he said that the federal government has “probably done too little rather than too much to push them to meet the goals of affordable housing.”

Earlier this year, Senator Christopher Dodd praised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for “riding to the rescue” when other financial institutions were cutting back on mortgage loans. He too said that they “need to do more” to help subprime borrowers get better loans.

In other words, Congressman Frank and Senator Dodd wanted the government to push financial institutions to lend to people they would not lend to otherwise, because of the risk of default.

The idea that politicians can assess risks better than people who have spent their whole careers assessing risks should have been so obviously absurd that no one would take it seriously.

But the magic words “affordable housing” and the ugly word “redlining” led to politicians directing where loans and investments should go, with such things as the Community Reinvestment Act and various other coercions and threats.

The roots of this problem go back many years, but since the crisis to which all this led happened on George W. Bush’s watch, that is enough for those who think in terms of talking points, without wanting to be confused by the facts.

In reality, President Bush tried unsuccessfully, years ago, to get Congress to create some regulatory agency to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

N. Gregory Mankiw, his Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, warned in February 2004 that expecting a government bailout if things go wrong “creates an incentive for a company to take on risk and enjoy the associated increase in return.”

Since risky investments usually pay more than safer investments, the incentive is for a government-supported enterprise to take bigger risks, since they get more profit if the risks pay off and the taxpayers get stuck with the losses if not.

The government does not guarantee Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but the widespread assumption has been that the government would step in with a bailout to prevent chaos in financial markets.

Alan Greenspan, then head of the Federal Reserve System, made the same point in testifying before Congress in February 2004. He said: “The Federal Reserve is concerned” that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were using this implicit reliance on a government bailout in a crisis to take more risks, in order to “multiply the profitability of subsidized debt.”

Chairman Greenspan added his voice to those urging Congress to create a “regulator with authority on a par with that of banking regulators” to reduce the riskiness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a riskiness ultimately borne by the taxpayers.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not deserve to be bailed out, but neither do workers, families and businesses deserve to be put through the economic wringer by a collapse of credit markets, such as occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Neither do the voters deserve to be deceived on the eve of an election by the notion that this is a failure of free markets that should be replaced by political micro-managing.

If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free market institutions they could not have gotten away with their risky financial practices because no one would have bought their securities without the implicit assumption that the politicians would bail them out.

It would be better if no such government-supported enterprises had been created in the first place and mortgages were in fact left to the free market. This bailout creates the expectation of future bailouts.

Phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would make much more sense than letting politicians play politics with them again, with the risk and expense being again loaded onto the taxpayers.

Copyright © 2008 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Obama and the Reagan Doctrine

Townhall.com Columnist
by Dinesh D’Souza

In his debate with John McCain, Barack Obama’s attempted to portray the Bush administration as a complete failure both in domestic and foreign policy. This argument, however, is running into one big problem: Bush’s Iraq policy appears to be succeeding.

How embarrassing! Well, at least the Democrats can try to make sure that no one finds out about this. Obama attempted to change the subject by saying that Afghanistan, not Iraq, is the central front of the war on terror. But Afghanistan was merely the launching pad for 9/11. The terrorists went to Afghanistan because they got rent-free terrorist training facilities. None of the hijackers or their planners actually came from Afghanistan. Every single one of them was from the Middle East, mostly Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Moreover, Afghanistan has only minor strategic significance compared to Iraq. Iraq’s neighbors include Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Islamic radicals, who have controlled Iran for a generation, fully understand the importance of winning a second major state in the Middle East. With Iran and Iraq in their control, they can then turn their sights to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No wonder Bin Laden and his associates have declared Iraq the central front of the war on terror, the launching pad for a new world war. Obama, by contrast, still regards the Taliban as the vanguard of global jihad. This shows Obama as being both naïve and out of date.

During his foreign trip a few weeks ago, Obama tried to take advantage of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s statement that America should work out a withdrawal plan for Iraq. Obama triumphantly declared that now is the time for Iraqis to work out their own destiny. Obama failed to mention, however, that if he had been president, Iraq would still be ruled by Saddam Hussein. The only destiny that Obama would have consigned Iraq to is oppression, torture, and mass graves.

To understand what is going on in Iraq, we must distinguish between two approaches: the Bush doctrine and the Reagan doctrine. Unlike the Bush doctrine–which seemed to require invasion and occupation–the Reagan doctrine was one of assisted non-intervention. Reagan believed that people in foreign countries should fight for their own freedom. We do not fight for them. But if they are willing to fight, we are willing to help. And so in Afghanistan, in Nicaragua, in Angola and to some extent in Ethiopia, Reagan supported rebels who sought liberation from Marxist tyranny. For intance, Reagan supplied Stinger missiles to the Afghani mujaheedin who were fighting to repel the Soviet invasion of that country. Reagan did not, however, send large numbers of American troops to Afghanistan.

Now in Bush’s defense it should be said that the Reagan doctrine could not have worked in Iraq. Unlike in Afghanistan, which the mujaheedin turned into a Soviet “bleeding wound,” there was no Iraqi resistance that could substantially threaten Saddam Hussein. Bush’s choice was either for America to get rid of Hussein, or to leave Hussein in power. But from the beginning the administration understood that, even in Iraq, over time the Bush doctrine must metamorphose into the Reagan doctrine.

It has taken longer than expected. But that’s because Saddam’s Baathist minority–let’s call them the Saddamites–ran not only the government but the entire society. So it has been quite a process to train a Shia elected government to learn to govern a nation in which they were victimized for a quarter century. Slowly, however, the Iraqis have been rising to the task, assisted by able U.S. forces under the competent leadership of General Petraeus.

So now, finally, Iraqis are getting to the position where they can defend their own country and fight for their own freedom. This is what “success” means in Iraq: not the end of the insurgency, or the end of terrorism, but a situation in which Iraqis take the helm and America moves into a supporting role. Of course America is going to get out of Iraq. The only question is whether we will leave recklessly, precipitously, with the risk of escalating violence and chaos and perhaps even a return of the Saddamites. This seems to be the approach the Obama Democrats want. The other option is to leave cautiously, deliberately, in a way that leaves Iraq a self-governing society, the only pro-American Muslim democracy in the Middle East.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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FactChecking Debate No. 1

Facts muddled in Mississippi McCain-Obama meeting.
Summary
McCain and Obama contradicted each other repeatedly during their first debate, and each volunteered some factual misstatements as well. Here’s how we sort them out:

  • Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.
  • Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on “people” making as little as $42,000 a year, as McCain accused him of doing. McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan.
  • McCain and Obama contradicted each other on what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said about troop withdrawals. Mullen said a time line for withdrawal could be “very dangerous” but was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan,” as McCain maintained.
  • McCain tripped up on one of his signature issues – special appropriation “earmarks.” He said they had “tripled in the last five years,” when in fact they have decreased sharply.
  • Obama claimed Iraq “has” a $79 billion surplus. It once was projected to be as high as that. It’s now down to less than $60 billion.
  • McCain repeated his overstated claim that the U.S. pays $700 billion a year for oil to hostile nations. Imports are running at about $536 billion this year, and a third of it comes from Canada, Mexico and the U.K.
  • Obama said 95 percent of “the American people” would see a tax cut under his proposal. The actual figure is 81 percent of households.
  • Obama mischaracterized an aspect of McCain’s health care plan, saying “employers” would be taxed on the value of health benefits provided to workers. Employers wouldn’t, but the workers would. McCain also would grant workers up to a $5,000 tax credit per family to cover health insurance.

  • McCain misrepresented Obama’s plan by claiming he’d be “handing the health care system over to the federal government.” Obama would expand some government programs but would allow people to keep their current plans or chose from private ones, as well.
  • McCain claimed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had drafted a letter of resignation from the Army to be sent in case the 1944 D-Day landing at Normandy turned out to be a failure. Ike prepared a letter taking responsibility, but he didn’t mention resigning.

For full details, as well as other dubious claims and statements, please read our full Analysis section.

Analysis
The first of three scheduled debates between Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama took place Sept. 26 on the campus of the University of Mississippi at Oxford. It was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It was carried live on national television networks and was moderated by Jim Lehrer, executive editor and anchor of the PBS “NewsHour” program.

We noted these factual misstatements:

Did Kissinger Back Obama?


McCain attacked Obama for his declaration that he would meet with leaders of Iran and other hostile nations “without preconditions.” To do so with Iran, McCain said, “isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous.” Obama countered by saying former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – a McCain adviser – agreed with him:

Obama: Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who’s one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran – guess what – without precondition. This is one of your own advisers.

McCain rejected Obama’s claim:

McCain: By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who’s been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama’s depiction of his — of his positions on the issue. I’ve known him for 35 years.
Obama: We will take a look.
McCain: And I guarantee you he would not — he would not say that presidential top level.
Obama: Nobody’s talking about that.

So who’s right? Kissinger did in fact say a few days earlier at a forum of former secretaries of state that he favors very high-level talks with Iran – without conditions:

Kissinger Sept. 20: Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we — we know we’re dealing with authentic…

CNN’s Frank Sesno: Put at a very high level right out of the box?

Kissinger: Initially, yes.But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.

Later, McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, was asked about this by CBS News anchor Katie Couric, and Palin said, “I’ve never heard Henry Kissinger say, ‘Yeah, I’ll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met.'” Afterward Couric said, “We confirmed Henry Kissinger’s position following our interview.”

After the McCain-Obama debate, however, Kissinger issued a statement saying he doesn’t favor a presidential meeting:

Kissinger: Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.

$42,000 per year?


McCain said – and Obama denied – that Obama had voted to increase taxes on “people who make as low as $42,000 a year.” McCain was correct – with qualification.

McCain: But, again, Senator Obama has shifted on a number of occasions. He has voted in the United States Senate to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year.
Obama: That’s not true, John. That’s not true.
McCain: And that’s just a fact. Again, you can look it up.
Obama: Look, it’s just not true.

debate.bothYes, as we’ve said before, Obama did in fact vote for a budget resolution that called for higher federal income tax rates on a single, non-homeowner who earned as little as $42,000 per year. A couple filing jointly, however, would have had to earn at least $83,000 per year to be affected. A family of four with income up to $90,000 would not have been affected.

The resolution actually would not have altered taxes without additional legislation. It  called generally for allowing most of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire. McCain is referring to the provision that would have allowed the 25 percent tax bracket to return to 28 percent. The tax plan Obama now proposes, however, would not raise the rate on that tax bracket.

Timetable Tiff


Obama contradicted McCain about what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s said regarding “Obama’s plan” for troop withdrawals.

McCain: Admiral Mullen suggests that Senator Obama’s plan is dangerous for America.
Obama: That’s not the case.
McCain: That’s what …
Obama: What he said was a precipitous…
McCain: That’s what Admiral Mullen said.
Obama: … withdrawal would be dangerous. He did not say that. That’s not true.

Admiral Mullen did say in a Fox News interview that having a time line for withdrawal would be dangerous.

Mullen (July 20): I think the consequences could be very dangerous in that regard. I’m convinced at this point in time that coming – making reductions based on conditions on the ground are very important.

However, interviewer Chris Wallace had just told Mullen to take Obama out of the equation.

Wallace (July 20): But I’m asking you in the absence – forget about Obama. Forget about the politics. If I were to say to you, “Let’s set a time line of getting all of our combat troops out within two years,” what do you think would be the consequences of setting that kind of a time line?

So strictly speaking Mullen was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan.” He did say a rigid timetable could have dangerous consequences.

Earmarks Down, Not Up


McCain was way off the mark when he said that earmarks in federal appropriations bills had tripled in the last five years.

McCain: But the point is that – you see, I hear this all the time. “It’s only $18
billion.” Do you know that it’s tripled in the last five years?

In fact, earmarks have actually gone down. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, there was $22.5 billion worth of earmark spending in 2003. By 2008, that figure had come down to $17.2 billion. That’s a decrease of 24 percent.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, another watchdog group, said in 2008 that “Congress has cut earmarks by 23 percent from the record 2005 levels,” according to its analysis.

$3 million to study the DNA of bears?

And while we’re on the subject of earmarks, McCain repeated a misleading line we’ve heard before.

McCain: You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don’t know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers’ money. And it has got to be brought under control.

McCain’s been playing this for laughs since 2003. The study  in question was done by the U.S. Geological Survey, and it relied in part on federal appropriations. Readers (and politicians) may disagree on whether a noninvasive study of grizzly bear population and habitat is a waste of money. McCain clearly thinks it is – but on the other hand, he never moved to get rid of the earmark. In fact, he voted for the bill that made appropriations for the study. He did propose some changes to the bill, but none that nixed the bear funding.

Iraqi Surplus Exaggerated


Obama was out of date in saying the Iraqi government has “79 billion dollars,” when he argued that the U.S. should stop spending money on the war in Iraq.

Obama: We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus.obama

As we’ve said before, there was a time when the country could have had as much as $79 billion, but that time has passed. What the Iraqis actually “have” is $29.4 billion in the bank. The Government Accountability Office projected in August that Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could range anywhere from $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion, depending on oil revenue, price and volume. Then, in early August, the Iraqi legislature passed a $21 billion supplemental spending bill, which was omitted from the GAO’s surplus tally since it was still under consideration. The supplemental will be completely funded by this year’s surplus. So the range of what the Iraqi’s could have at year’s end is actually $47 billion to $59 billion. The $79 billion figure is outdated and incorrect.

$700 billion for oil?


McCain repeated an exaggerated claim that the U.S. is sending $700 billion per year to hostile countries.

McCain: Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don’t like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

mccainThat’s not accurate. McCain also made this claim in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. He’s referring to the amount of money the U.S. spends in importing oil. But the number is inflated. In fact, we actually pay more like $536 billion for the oil we need. And one-third of those payments go to Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

(Note: A few of our readers messaged us, after we first noted McCain’s mistake, with the thought that he was referring to foreign aid and not to oil. If so he’s even farther off than we supposed: The entire budget for the State Department and International Programs works out to just $51.3 million.)

Tax Cut Recipients


Obama overstated how many people would save on taxes under his plan:

Obama: My definition – here’s what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut. And if you make less than $250,000, less than a quarter-million dollars a year, then you will not see one dime’s worth of tax increase.

That should be 95 percent of families, not 95 percent of “American people.” An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that Obama’s plan would decrease taxes for 95.5 percent of families with children. Overall, 81.3 percent of households would get a tax cut under his proposal.

Health Care Hyperbole


Obama and McCain traded incorrect statements on each other’s health care plan.

Obama: So you may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here’s the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you’re getting from your employer.

As we said before, McCain’s plan doesn’t call for taxing employers on health care benefits; it would instead tax employees. As the law stands now, employees don’t pay taxes on the dollar value of their health insurance benefits. Under McCain’s plan, they would.

McCain also misrepresented Obama’s plan when he said that his opponent favored “handing the health care system over to the federal government.”

McCain: Well, I want to make sure we’re not handing the health care system over to the federal government which is basically what would ultimately happen with Senator Obama’s health care plan. I want the families to make decisions between themselves and their doctors. Not the federal government.

McCain made a similar claim in his acceptance speech, when he said that
Obama’s plans would “force families into a government run health care
system.” We called it false then and we stand by that. Obama’s plan mandates coverage for children, but not for adults, and it does not require anyone to be covered by a nationalized system. Obama’s plan expands the insurance coverage offered by the government, but allows people to keep their own plans or choose from private plans as well.


Ike Was No Quitter


McCain mangled his military history:

McCain: President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

The story is widely circulated in military circles but not entirely true. Eisenhower (then a general, not yet a president) did in fact write a letter taking responsibility should the D-Day invasion fail. But Eisenhower’s letter does not mention resigning. Here’s the full text:

Eisenhower (June 5, 1944): Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

No mention of quitting the Army, or his command.

A Longer Timetable

Obama stretched out his schedule for withdrawing troops from Iraq. During the debate, Obama said we could “reduce” the number of combat troops in 16 months:

Obama: Now, what I’ve said is we should end this war responsibly. We should do it in phases. But in 16 months we should be able to reduce our combat troops, put – provide some relief to military families and our troops and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.

But in Oct. 2007, Obama supported removing all combat troops from Iraq
within 16 months:

Obama (Oct. 2007): I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.

The quote appears in “Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues” – a
position paper that was still available on the campaign’s Web site as Obama spoke.

Still Soft on Iran?


McCain repeated the false insinuation that Obama opposed naming Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

McCain: There is the Republican Guard in Iran, which Senator Kyl had an amendment in order to declare them a sponsor of terror. Senator Obama said that would be provocative. …

Obama: Well, let me just correct something very quickly. I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I’ve consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.

Obama has in fact said that the IRGC should be named a terrorist group. He was a cosponsor of the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, which, among other things, named the IRGC a terrorist organization. What he voted against was the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which also called for the terrorist group distinction. But Obama said that he opposed the amendment on the grounds that it was “saber-rattling.”

Obama press release (Sept. 26, 2007): Senator Obama clearly recognizes the serious threat posed by Iran. However, he does not agree with the president that the best way to counter that threat is to keep large numbers of troops in Iraq, and he does not think that now is the time for saber-rattling towards Iran. In fact, he thinks that our large troop presence in Iraq has served to strengthen Iran – not weaken it. He believes that diplomacy and economic pressure, such as the divestment bill that he has proposed, is the right way to pressure the Iranian regime. Accordingly, he would have opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment had he been able to vote today.

Who’s Naive on Georgia?


McCain called Obama’s initial statement on the conflict in Georgia “naive.” It’s worth noting Obama’s words echoed those of the White House.

McCain: Well, I was interested in Senator Obama’s reaction to the Russian aggression against Georgia. His first statement was, “Both sides ought to show restraint.”

Again, a little bit of naivete there. He doesn’t understand that Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia.

It’s true, as McCain said, that during the conflict between Georgia and Russia, Obama said, “Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint, and to
avoid an escalation to full scale war” in his first statement on the conflict. But so did the White House. Press secretary Dana Perino said on Aug. 8, “We urge restraint on all sides – that violence would be curtailed and that direct dialogue could ensue in order to help resolve their differences.” We pointed this out when New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani mischaracterized Obama’s response to the crisis during the GOP convention.

Boeing Boasts


McCain was went too far when he said, “I saved the taxpayers $6.8 billion by fighting a contract that was negotiated between Boeing and DOD that was completely wrong. And we fixed it and we killed it.”

McCain certainly did lead a fight to kill the contract, and the effort ended in prison sentences for defense contractors. But the contract isn’t exactly “fixed” yet. In fact, questions have been raised about the role McCain has played in helping a Boeing rival secure the new contract.

After the original Boeing contract to supply refueling airliners was nixed in 2003, the bidding process was reopened. And in early 2007, Boeing rival EADS/Airbus won the bid the second time around. But Boeing filed a protest about the way the bids were processed, and the Government Accountability Office released a report that found in Boeing’s favor. In the summary of GAO’s investigation, the organization said there were “significant errors” with the bid process and that the directions given to Boeing were “misleading.”

Further, the New York Times reported that “McCain’s top advisers, including a cochairman of his presidential campaign, were lobbyists for EADS. And Mr. McCain had written to the Defense Department, urging it to ignore a trade dispute between the United States and Europe over whether Airbus received improper subsidies.” A liberal campaign finance group ran an ad hitting McCain on the connections back in July and our colleagues at PolitiFact found their attacks to be true, saying: “Center for Responsive Politics prepared a report for PolitiFact that backs [the charge] up. U.S. employees of EADS/Airbus have contributed $15,700 in this election cycle to McCain’s campaign.”

Nuclear Charges


McCain said Obama was against storing nuclear waste. That’s not exactly his position.

McCain: And Senator Obama says he’s for nuclear, but he’s against reprocessing and he’s against storing.

Obama: I — I just have to correct the record here. I have never said that I object to nuclear waste. What I’ve said is that we have to store it safely.

Obama’s official position is that he does support safe storage of nuclear waste:

Obama fact sheet: Obama will also lead federal efforts to look for a safe, long-term disposal solution based on objective, scientific analysis. In the meantime, Obama will develop requirements to ensure that the waste stored at current reactor sites is contained using the most advanced dry-cask storage technology available. Barack Obama believes that Yucca Mountain is not an option. Our government has spent billions of dollars on Yucca Mountain, and yet there are still significant questions about whether nuclear waste can be safely stored there.

But the McCain campaign has attacked Obama before on this issue, going as
far as to claim Obama did not support nuclear energy at all, which was false. Obama has said he supports nuclear as long as it is “clean and safe.”

Against Alternative Energy


Obama said that McCain had voted 23 times against alternative energy:

Obama: Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel.

Here’s the Obama campaign’s list of the 23 votes. We find they’re overstating the case. In many instances, McCain voted not against alternative energy but against mandatory use of alternative energy, or he voted in favor of allowing exemptions from these mandates. Only 11 of the 23 votes cited by the Obama campaign involve reducing or eliminating incentives for renewable energy.

Meanwhile, McCain was indignant at the suggestion that he’d voted against alternative energy at all.

McCain: I have voted for alternate fuel all of my time. … No one can be opposed to alternate energy.

But McCain’s record says differently. As we say above, he has voted against funding for alternative energy on 11 occasions. He may be in favor of alternative energy in theory, but he has declined opportunities to support it.

In McCain’s energy plan, he supports nuclear power and “clean” coal, which are alternative energies. But they don’t qualify as renewable energy, such as hydro,
solar and wind power. McCain’s plan makes a vague promise to “rationalize
the current patchwork of temporary tax credits that provide commercial
feasibility.” The experts we talked to weren’t sure what exactly that meant.

Committee Oversight


Both candidates were right in talking about Obama’s NATO subcommittee.

McCain: Senator Obama is the chairperson of a committee that oversights NATO, that’s in Afghanistan. To this day he’s never had a hearing. …

Obama: Look, the — I’m very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who’s the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And as he  explains and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that don’t go through my subcommittee because they’re done as a committee as a whole.

As we’ve already reported Obama’s subcommittee on Afghanistan does have jurisdiction over NATO, which is supplying about half of the troops in Afghanistan. His subcommittee does not have jurisdiction over Afghanistan proper.

Getting the Dates Wrong


We also caught McCain getting his congressional history a little wrong.

McCain: Back in 1983, when I was a brand-new United States congressman,
the one — the person I admired the most and still admire the most, Ronald
Reagan, wanted to send Marines into Lebanon. And I saw that, and I saw the
situation, and I stood up, and I voted against that because I was afraid
that they couldn’t make peace in a place where 300 or 400 or several
hundred Marines would make a difference. Tragically, I was right: Nearly
300 Marines lost their lives in the bombing of the barracks.

This isn’t quite right. Marines were initially deployed to Lebanon in August 1982. McCain, however, was not elected to the U.S. House until November 1982, more than three months after Marines had already landed.

McCain is referring to a 1983 vote to invoke the War Powers Act. That bill, which Ronald Reagan signed into law on October 12, 1983, authorized an 18-month deployment for the Marines. On October 13, a suicide bomber destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut. McCain did in fact break with most Republicans to vote against the bill.

–by Brooks Jackson, Lori Robertson, Justin Bank, Jess Henig, Emi Kolawole and Joe Miller.

Sources
Statement Regarding the Bid Protest Decision Resolving the Aerial Refueling Tanker Protest by The Boeing Company” Government Accountability Office. 18 June 2008.

Isikoff, Michael, “McCain’s Boeing Battle Boomerangs,” Newsweek. 30 June 2008.

Laurent, Lionel, “Boeing Boomerangs on McCain,” Forbers Magazine. 4 March 2008.

Wayne, Leslie, “Audit Says Tanker Deal Is Flawed,” New York Times. 19 June 2008.

Tax Policy Center. “Individual Income Tax Brackets, 1945 – 2008.” 4 November 2007. Tax Policy Center, 7 July 2008.

U.S. Imports by Country of Origin.” U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed 5 Sept. 2008.

Spot Prices, Crude Oil in Dollars per Barrel.” U.S. Energy Information Administration, accessed 5 Sept. 2008.

S. 970: Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007.” 8 April 2008.
 Thomas.gov. 2 June 2008.

Sec. 1538 of H.R. 1585.” National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. Thomas.gov. 2 June 2008

U.S. Senate. “Roll Call Vote on Senate Amendment 3017.” 26 Sept. 2007. U.S. Senate: Legislation and Records. 2 June 2008.

Grimmett, Richard F. “Congressional Use of Funding Cutoffs Since 1970 Involving U.S. Military Forces and Overseas Deployments.” Congressional Research Service. 10 January 2001.

Daggett, Stephen. Costs of Major U.S. Wars. 24 Jul. 2008. Congressional Research Service.

Adair, Bill. Obama “suggested bombing Pakistan”. Politifact.com.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Defense Issues
. Obama for America.

Barack Obama’s Plan to Make America A Global Energy Leader
. Obama for America.

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Is Lust a Sin?

Question: “What is lust? What does the Bible have to say about lust?”

Answer: The dictionary definition of lust is: 1) Intense or unrestrained sexual craving, or 2) An overwhelming desire or craving. The Bible speaks of lust in several ways. Exodus 20:14, 17 (NLT), “Do not commit adultery. . . Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else your neighbor owns,” or Matthew 5:28, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Job 31:11-12 (NLT) sums up lust quite nicely, “For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.”

Lust has as its focus pleasing oneself, and it often leads to unwholesome actions to fulfill one’s desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed. The Christian faith is about selflessness, and is marked by holy living (Romans 6:19, 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:19-20; Ephesians 1:4, 4:24; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). The goal of each person who has put his/her faith in Jesus Christ is to become more and more like Him each day. This means putting off the old way of life of which sin was in control, and conforming one’s thoughts and actions to the standard put forth in Scripture. Lust is in opposition to this ideal.

Nobody will ever be perfect or attain sinlessness while still on this earth, yet it is still a goal for which we strive. The Bible makes a very strong statement regarding this in 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8, “God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” If lust has not yet gripped your heart and mind, ready yourself through a life lived above reproach to combat the temptations of lust. If you currently struggle with lust, it is time to come clean before God and ask for His intervention in your life, so that holiness can be a mark of your life as well.

Recommended Resource: Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Bailout a Bad Idea?

Why Economists Object to the Bailout Plan
A group of distinguished economists urges Washington to slow down.
26 September 2008

The Paulson bailout plan for financial institutions has produced a sharp split among economists, with many nonpartisan academic economists opposing or questioning it while many economists on Wall Street urge Congress to produce it. One prominent group of nearly 200 economists from the University of Chicago, MIT, Stanford, Harvard and dozens of other institutions have asked Congress to pause and spend at least a few days hearing testimony on the plan. The concerns of so many distinguished economists, including several Nobel Laureates, that sufficient deliberation must be taken before enacting such a consequential plan, should give pause to policymakers in Washington.

Their letter and objections are below:

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America’s dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Steven Malanga is senior editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of The New New Left, a collection of his City Journal essays.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

The Devout Atheist

by Eric Rauch

Religion is a way of life for each of us in all hours of the day—in the decisions we make to the food we eat to the way we spend our money and an infinite amount of other behaviors. Even those who claim to be atheists operate in the realm of the spiritual on a daily basis. So much so, in fact, that I would argue that no one is truly an atheist. Agnostic perhaps, but not atheistic.

Richard Dawkins has made the statement famous that, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” One is anxious to know what atheists were before Darwin? Irrational? Illogical? Adherents to a blind faith? We are often told that Christians are the ones who subscribe to an irrational, blind, and silly belief system. But in terms of intellectual consistency, atheism is the “new kid on the block.” Dawkins would have been the fundamentalist if he lived B.D., Before Darwin (pre-1859).

Religion is typically studied at two levels, substantive and functional. The substantive level is the content of the beliefs of the religion. This would be the writings and religious texts that the particular religion bases its authority upon. For Christians it would be the Bible, for atheists, at least according to Dawkins, it would be The Origin of Species. The functional level is what those beliefs look like in everyday life. This would be what Jesus called “judging a tree by its fruit.” Too often modern religious analysis takes place here and never ventures back to the substantive level. A classic example of this appeared in a New York Times editorial a couple of years ago by Slavoj Zizek. I encourage you to read Zizek’s piece in its entirety because it is a great apologetic opportunity for sharpening your mind to think presuppositionally and critically.

Zizek opens by pointing out how the world is overrun with violent, bloodthirsty “fundamentalists” of every religion. His opening paragraph and his ending paragraph leave no doubt that he is going to keep his analysis at the functional level. He concludes this way:

What, however, about submitting Islam — together with all other religions — to a respectful, but for that reason no less ruthless, critical analysis? This, and only this, is the way to show a true respect for Muslims: to treat them as serious adults responsible for their beliefs.

This would be a great idea if Zizek had any intention of actually cracking open a Koran and studying Islam on the substantive level, but he doesn’t. He would rather submit Islam (and Christianity for that matter) to the test of his own arbitrary moral absolutes. Since he is an atheist (agnostic) this is the only realm he knows. Atheism, by its very definition, is a denial of a belief, not a positive affirmation of belief. Like liberalism, atheism is an anti-worldview, it is not “for” anything, only “against.” Because of this, Zizek has nothing outside of himself that he can turn to as an absolute. Even if he wanted to, he could never do a substantive analysis of his own religion of atheism because it is completely subjective and unverifiable. Turning Dostoyevsky’s famous quote from The Brothers Karamazov on its head, Zizek claims that with God everything is permissible.

More than a century ago, in “The Brothers Karamazov” and other works, Dostoyevsky warned against the dangers of godless moral nihilism, arguing in essence that if God doesn’t exist, then everything is permitted… This argument couldn’t have been more wrong: the lesson of today’s terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted — at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the “godless” Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.

Did you catch the subtle twist in his logic? Dostoyevsky was arguing on the substantive level, taking the authoritative Word of the Creator to the current situation of modern man. Zizek, on the other hand, would rather argue emotionally by claiming that the actions and behaviors of the professing believer are what prove the religion itself to be right or wrong. Of course, in order to demonize “fundamentalists” of every stripe, Zizek must presuppose the laws of logic, a metaphysical necessity that his atheistic worldview can’t account for. He must also smuggle his morality out of the trunk of the Cadillac of Christianity that’s parked behind his paper palace of materialism (an oceanfront property nestled securely in the sand).

Zizek’s tortured religion of atheism leads him to make an incredible claim:

Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill God’s will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God’s favor; I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way, when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God’s existence.

Surely Zizek must see the absurdity of this statement. As a self-professed atheist, he is his own god. When he looks in the mirror he is confronted with his “god.” His own conscience condemns and affirms his actions, yet in his view this is simply an “elementary experience of morality.” But what about the serial murderer, the compulsive rapist, or the child molester, those whose “elementary experiences” don’t match his own? What would Zizek do when confronted with a John Wayne Gacy? Neither one has an authoritative standard, outside of themselves, by which to gauge their behavior. What makes Zizek’s “elementary experience” more authoritative than Gacy’s? One leads him to perform “good deeds” and the other to hack young boys to death and bury them under his house. Without a substantive level to go back to, Zizek is left with no moral ground to condemn anyone. Also, his attributing of David Hume as a “believer” reveals that Zizek is a true fundamentalist, one that isn’t bothered when his points are refuted by facts. “Hume never confronted religious thought head-on, denying the very possibility of a God, providence, or a future state… Hume from his first writings to his last seems to have dropped out of the religious world and religious framework. He sees that the answer can only come from nature and not beyond it.” If Hume is a believer, so is Zizek.

The ridiculous notions of Zizek’s “elementary experiences” are quickly becoming normative in our post-Christian surroundings. Atheists (agnostics) think that they have Christians beat when they can show that they are moral people who do nice things for their fellow man and try to make the world a better place to live. Zizek’s own words make the case here:

During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: “Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God.” Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.

Why is this a proper Christian ethic? Because this properly sums up Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. But this can only be determined by actually doing substantive analysis of the Christian religion; something that Zizek is not willing to engage in very often. Just as the “good deeds” of the non-Christian do not make an apologetic case for atheism, Christianity is neither proved nor disproved by the actions or inactions of its adherents. But for committed non-theists like Zizek and his fundamentalist cohorts, simply showing how those who profess to be followers of Christ are fallible, sinful men, imperfectly living out their faith seems to be enough to pass as scholarship. It’s a lesson and a warning to us to live our lives as a consistent testimony to the one who laid down his life for ours. “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).


Quoted in Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 106.

Slavoj Zizek, “Defenders of the Faith,” New York Times, March 12, 2006. Online: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/12/opinion/12zizek.html

Richard H. Popkin (Editor), “David Hume,” The Columbia History of Western Philosophy (New York: MJF Books, 1999), 454-461


Eric Rauch is the Director of Communications for American Vision.

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Posted by on September 26, 2008 in Religion

 

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Cease Ye from Political Salvation

by Joel McDurmon

For those who trust in man, man shall be their destruction. For those who trust in politics, politics shall be their judgment. There is the line attributed to the classic cynic H. L. Mencken, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what They want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Isaiah had a more blunt warning: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?”  (Isa. 2:22).

The issue is simply of faith: faith in men versus faith in God. This has had its most profound reckoning recently in our “economy,” namely in the great crisis of mass home foreclosures and the folding Wall Street Banks that foolishly bought the bad mortgage-laden instruments. No one but a few Austrian-school economists, a few Biblical-law students, and one Congressman (Ron Paul, R-TX) were warning of an impending implosion before a few months or even weeks ago. They saw the dominoes lined up; they knew the first one falling would send all tumbling. But government leaders, financial “experts” on TV, and the masses who trust (a key-word) them have been “hopeful” and “confident” in something called “our economy.”

Barely a week ago, in his Sept. 15 press conference, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that “the American people can remain confident in the soundness and the resilience of our financial system.”[i] Whence cometh this faith? What have these financial leaders and directors shown us so far in order to earn this assurance? Nothing. They make these promises and assurances based purely on their titles. “Treasury Secretary”: well then he must know something about solving this crisis. Yet if he and all his hoards of bureaucrats and analysts are so confident in their abilities, why did they not see this problem coming? Paulson shifts the ultimate blame, “I’m playing the hand that was dealt me.”

One journalist notes, “It’s all about confidence, stupid”[ii] (parodying the line from James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign manager: “The economy, stupid”). He continues, “People have to believe that the institutions they deal with (their “counterparties”) will perform as expected.” He’s exactly right, we have to be able to trust our Bank & Trust. What we are learning today, however, is how untrustworthy the system really is. But our columnist-chosen at random-gives a questionable spin: “We are in a full-blown crisis because investors and financial managers-the people who run banks, investment banks, hedge funds, insurance companies-have lost that trust.” This is an explanation of the shallowest sort, and quite backwards, too. Is it not more accurate to say that banks have lost trust because there is a crisis? People don’t just lose faith in anything for no reason. There is a trigger, or a series of failures. At best there is a simultaneity and reciprocity between confidence and performance (or at least perception of performance, such as accepted graphs and charts, or “expert” opinions, or all three). The question that should be addressed is, What starts the chain reaction? There is something much more fundamental here than an amorphous mass loss of confidence. Neither will it suffice to blame the failures on vaguely defined “bad mortgages.” There exists something even more fundamental than mass bad lending. I believe a combination of past legislation and Federal Reserve manipulation are at the base.[iii] This is a critique of salvation by politics.

The expansion of the “Community Reinvestment Act” under Clinton in 1995 exacerbated the market for mortgage lending to borrowers who otherwise would not have qualified. The artificial demand for lending rolled into itself the obvious danger of default by high-risk borrowers: but the administration, as well as congress, demanded this in the name of “the convenience and needs of the communities,” stating that “regulated financial institutions have continuing and affirmative obligation to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered.”[iv] In other words, if banks want to continue to indulge from the hand of government-created money and insurance, then they must prove to government agencies that they are lending said indulgences to even the un-creditworthy in their community. Sound like a recipe for economic disaster? It was and is. This is why banks originally opposed the Act strenuously in 1977. They didn’t want to be forced to loan to those with little or no credit. They didn’t want to be forced into bad lending. Only one banker-South Chicago banker Ron Grzywinski, a later devotee of both Clintons-in the entire nation could be found to testify in behalf of the Act in Congress, and it passed on his testimony.

Economist Thomas DiLorenzo explains that the financial messes we currently strain through are simply the chickens coming home to roost after 30 years of progressive government interference and artificially deformed markets. Read his article “The CRA Scam and Its Defenders” here, and realize that this present crisis is not some sudden loss of faith, but the whiplash of the long tail of that old serpent, salvation by politics. This “bailout” is not merely economic, it is highly political, it involves every level of politics from greedy loot-lusty voters, to spineless representatives (save about one), to shady nefarious hand-shakers in every corner of the executive behemoth, to the non-government/government-whichever it may be-Federal Reserve “creature from Jekyll Island” System.

Fortune magazine writer Peter Eavis pointed the finger at the Federal Reserve over a year ago, but figured the “System” as one faulty group among many.[v] Truly there were many partners in crime in this downward spiraling debacle, but what is the root cause? Retired Professor of Finance, Michael S. Rozeff, emphatically explains that the crisis has its origin in “excessive central bank money creation,” and he concludes that “we should place the blame squarely where it belongs, which is on government failure, that failure being in the fiat money inflation brought about by the Federal Reserve.”[vi]

I mentioned Clinton campaign manager James Carville. Carville had three slogans posted in the “war room” during the Clinton campaign against Bush, Sr. They were: 1) Change vs. more of the same, 2) The economy, stupid, and 3) Don’t forget healthcare. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide who exactly is offering “more of the same.” Since his days with Clinton, Carville has left campaign management and gone into movies, producing All the King’s Men: a 2006 feature about an ambitious Southern socialist politician. One show business is as good as another. The movie was a box office flop, whereas his previous show won Clinton the presidency in 1992. Why the public is readily drawn into one show and not into another is worth considering. Yes, “The economy, stupid”; but why do we trust any given politician or agency to fix the economy when none has ever done so before? Why can we sense a bad act in the movies and not in real life?

Let’s be serious. When most voters hear politicians toss around the word “economy,” they think “Money for me.” This is why politicians toss it around so often.  Most voters, most Americans, have no principle with regards to other people’s money or fiat money which devalues everyone else’s. Sure, they probably-probably-wouldn’t walk over to their neighbor’s house and steal from him directly, but they have absolutely no problem with taking that money if a politician signs it their way (which means, essentially, that they probably would steal directly from their neighbor if they knew they could get away with it). It is theft, simply. We live and breathe and jostle political elbows among a nation of thieves for the most part. It is a fact of life that governments, once given power, never relinquish it. It is equally true that people, once the beneficiaries of government extortion, will never relinquish their “benefits” voluntarily, even if it means others must bear the burden of being stolen from. This is the basis on which most people will vote: the candidate that promises the most loot. “Get more from them than they take from me.” This is salvation by politics. The present crisis is part of the Judgment Day of their false god.

It was a combination of bad legislation and Federal Reserve manipulation at the root that has led to our problems. It was a complex of hasty decisions-bad decisions-by all parties involved, rushing in to take advantage of what was seen as a beneficial situation for everyone: low interest rates, easy credit, 100%+ financing. They were all vultures-money printer, lender, borrower, politicians-all of them circling the carrion of government money. Now the fix for the problem has been stated as more carrion-more fiat subsidies. Treasury Secretary Paulson wants $700 billion(!) more fiat money in order to bailout his friends over in the big banks and now-government mortgage agencies. Are we missing something here? Was it not such inflationary practice that blew up this bubble in the first place? And the cure is supposed to be to blow up an even bigger one? This is why Paulson and the administration are trying now to rush congress into authorizing the money. Like the greedy lenders and borrowers who were unleashed by the original legislation and policy, Paulson is trying to pressure our representatives into mortgaging our future without reading the fine print or counting the consequences.[vii] At least there is currently some congressional opposition to the pressure and the bailout.[viii]

Who is this guy Paulson anyway? Remember, he was originally CEO of banking giant Goldman Sachs-some of the very people involved in the problems in hand. Now he has been elevated to the throne of the Treasury, and is demanding the money to be authorized to save his old boys. A revealing headline: “Is it safe to trust a Wall Street veteran with a Wall Street bailout?”[ix] Another good question that has not been given time or consideration is, Should Wall Street be bailed out to begin with? There was no debate. We are simply told that this was the only possible solution. We should at least count the costs of the alternative. No. We are pushed toward a congressional decision. This is madness, and it carries all the marks of a classic government power grab: crisis mode, insider officials, suppressed conflicts of interest, pressured legislation. While Paulson told the press “I don’t take lightly” either moral hazard (encouraging more risky lending by setting a precedent for bailouts) or putting the taxpayers on the line, his actions show just the opposite, and now prove him untrustworthy.

So salvation has been promised in the form of fiat money. This is spoken of as “tax payers’ money,” which it is in a technical sense. The money will not be taxed directly, but will be pumped into the money supply, thus diluting the value of what money we already have. The loss will show up in a decrease in purchasing power: prices will rise on everything. This is the hidden tax of inflation. If the bill passes, a year or so from now voters will be complaining about high food prices and high commodity prices and demanding government do something about it. “Government, save us from what we wanted government to do for us last time.” Those who trust in man . . .

There is, indeed, a lack of confidence in the system; but there has always been bad faith, by which I mean misplaced faith, in many places for a long time. Question: Where do you think our faith- the faith of millions of voters-has been most misplaced? No doubt in politics, which means, no doubt, in man. H. L. Mencken, again, provide proper cynicism: “The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy. His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful.”[x] These are the leaders we presently all but worship.

Isaiah warned God’s people 2750 years ago to “cease from man.” Man’s self-vaunted abilities are as delicate as the breath in his nose. Yet we pretend that we live and die politically by the words breathed out of his mouth. This is folly. God gave us government and law to protect our person and property from the scheming lusts of each other and our leaders. We do not see government in this Biblical way. Instead, we delude ourselves with faith in political leaders, and deluge ourselves in promises of fiat prosperity. This, indeed, is folly. It is misplaced trust in man, and it will lead us through a reckoning before we return to anything like soundness and resiliency.


[i] http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/09/20080915-8.html, accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[ii] Robert J. Samuelson, “The Great Confidence Game,” 20 Sept. 2008, http://www.newsweek.com/id/160098; accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[iii] A couple good articles to read are “The Real Culprits In This Meltdown,” Investor’s Business Daily, 15 Sept. 2008; and Thomas DiLorenzo, “The Government-Created Subprime Mortgage Meltdown,” LewRockwell.com 7 Sept. 2007.

[iv] http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/12/2901.html; accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[v]Subprime: Let the finger-pointing begin!Fortune, 9 July 2007; accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[vi] See Michael S. Rozeff, “The Subprime Crisis and Government Failure,” LewRockwell.com, 21 April 2008; accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[vii] Martin Crutsinger and Charles Babington, “Paulson urges quick action on $700 billion bailout,” AP, 21 Sept. 2008; accessed Sept. 23, 2008; Glenn Somerville, “Paulson urges Congress not to slow bailout bill,” Reuters, 23 Sept. 2008; accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[viii] Julies Hirschfeld Davis and Jeannine Aversa, “Dodd: ‘No second act’ to fixing financial mess,” AP, 23 Sept. 2008; accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[ix] http://www.miamiherald.com/newxs/politics/AP/story/695796.html, accessed Sept. 23, 2008.

[x] H. L. Mencken, “Note on a Cuff,” A Mencken Chrestomathy (New York: Vintage Books, 1982), 153.


Joel McDurmon is the Director of Research for American Vision.

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