Posts Tagged ‘Jim Johnson’

A Hope For Some Rare Awareness About The Economy

July 21, 2008

I was in a Wal Mart store a little while back, and got into an argument with an older employee with whom I have periodically chatted.

In that discussion, I discovered that the man was a Democrat, and a pretty liberal one to boot.

And I learned that he had a terribly flawed memory about the Clinton years.

His primary contention was that he had never seen the regional economy so bad. He told me, “When Clinton was president, I had no trouble finding work. But now this Wal Mart job is the best I can get.”

Well, to put it into six words: he’s wrong, wrong, and more wrong.

The Press Enterprise, Riverside County’s (and the Inland Empire’s) largest paper, had a front-page article on July 19 titled “Inland unemployment rate hits 8 percent, highest in 9 years.”

I didn’t have to pull out my calculator to realize that “nine years ago we were in the height of the Clinton presidency.

So why on earth was my liberal Democrat friend at Wal Mart so completely wrong?

Partially because that’s precisely what the media told him to think (you ever hear that sarcastic expression, ‘If I want your opinion I’ll give it to you’?).

John R. Lott did a study that demonstrated that the media viewed the economy through rose-colored glasses during the Clinton years even when the economy was in fact entering a recession. By contrast, we have been hearing the word “recession” for the better part of a year now under a Republican president even when the economy was actually growing and even though the economy is STILL not in recession according to the standard definition of the term. When Bill Clinton was president, the media largely saw even negative news through rose-colored glasses. By contrast, throughout the Bush presidency, the media has been hypercritical – as well as hypocritical – of virtually every economic development.

It is simply a demonstrable fact that the media have for years given Democratic administrations’ economic performance every benefit of the doubt, and given Republican administrations’ economic performance an unrelentingly critical review. Republicans aren’t angry that the media is portraying the economy as being in a recession; they are angry because the media subjectively and unfairly refuse to evaluate Democrat-managed economies by the same standards.

And when it comes to the economy, perception often becomes reality, because people who think that the economy is tanking will invariably begin to act in ways that subsequently cause the economy to tank. As one example, if people are continually told that the economy will worsen and the housing market will continue to decline, will they buy homes now, or will they hold off and wait for the market to further decline and lower prices further? But by waiting, they are actually contributing to the market’s actual decline.

So the same media that helps to create positive perceptions of the economy during Democratic administrations helps to undermine the economy during Republican administrations. They frequently resort to downright irresponsible reporting to do so. And when Democrat and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich used the term “DEPRESSION” to describe the Bush economy, he was going beyond even the irresponsible media and pandering to the very lowest form of demagoguery.

Is our economy really doing so terrible?

Just to demonstrate how horrifyingly irresponsible Robert Reich was in his prediction of a “Bush depression” on March 14, 2008, the VERY NEXT DAY the story emerged that the United States continues to have the best and most competitive economy in the world!

I hate to be rude, but Reich revealed himself for the vile little pandering and demagoguing rodent that he is. Yet rabid little rat or not, he continues to be paraded from elite media network to network with all the fanfare of an enlightened analyst who truly understands what is going on.

My liberal friend at Wal Mart assured me that the economy was always great under Clinton, and that Clinton balanced the budget. The fact that neither statement is true doesn’t matter. Today’s liberals are fitted with psychological filters designed to prevent truth from entering their minds.

First of all, Bill Clinton most certainly did not get off to all that great of a start as president. If he had, he wouldn’t have contributed to the greatest landslide in political history with a massive 52 seat swing in the ’94 midterm elections that put the Republicans in power for the next dozen years.

Furthermore, President Clinton – all ubiquitous media misrepresentation aside – most certainly DID NOT balance the budget. What he did was fiddle with the numbers to pay off the public debt by borrowing from the intergovernmental debt (particularly from the Social Security Trust Fund). The so-called “Clinton surplus” is simply a myth: The national debt continued to grow and grow and grow, and the last Clinton budget was $133.29 billion in the red.

And when President Clinton left office, he also left President Bush with an economy that was very definitely stumbling into a recession about as bad as the one we’re stumbling into now. He also left President Bush with Osama bin Laden (when he rejected a Somali offer to literally hand him over to us) and with an al Qaeda that was growing stronger and stronger after repeatedly attacking the United States throughout the Clinton administration.

Mansoor Ijaz, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that:

Clinton’s failure to grasp the opportunity to unravel increasingly organized extremists, coupled with Berger’s assessments of their potential to directly threaten the U.S., represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history.

Please don’ think that the vicious 9/11 attacks – which President Clinton could have nipped in the bud by taking out its chief leader and architect – didn’t massively hurt the U.S. economy. Yet a liberal media ensured that President Bush duly received all the blame for both the recession and the attack.

The Press Enterprise article points out that a year ago, the two-county unemployment figure was a reasonable 5.9%. If anything, we have Nancy Pelosi and her “commonsense plan” to thank as much as anyone for the dramatic increase that has taken place during the oversight of a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But you can count on the fact that the media will never connect the economic downturn to the Democrat’s control of Congress the way they routinely connect President Bush to it.

What’s caused the dramatic negative economic turnaround in the last year?

Is it the sky-high increase in oil prices? I have written again and again that it is Democrats – and Democrats virtually alone – who deserve the blame for the current situation by refusing to allow us to act in a responsible way by drilling the oil we have right under our feet and right off our shores.

See my articles (in order from the earliest to the most recent):

Democrat’s ‘Commonsense Plan’ Revealed: Let’s Nationalize the Oil Industry

Blame Democrats for Sky-High Gas Prices

Democrats Block US Energy Independence, Send Gas Prices Soaring

Democrat’s Ideological Stand Against Domestic Oil Terrible for US Economy & Security

If You Want $12 A Gallon Gas, Vote for Obama and Democrats

Pelosi, Reid, and Obama: The Three Stooges of American Energy Policy

Is it the secondary market fiasco and the subsequent housing market collapse? While Republicans deservedly merit some of the blame, let us not forget that it was Democrats who demanded that poor and unqualified borrowers had to have access to home loans. And let us not forget that the principle political figures involved in the subsequent scandal have been Democrats (Former Fannie Mae Chairman and former Barack Obama key assistant Jim Johnson, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad headline the list among other prominent Democrats).

The media that would have left no stone unturned in launching exhaustive and well-covered investigations into Republicans in any kind of similar situation has conveniently allowed the Democrat’s scandal to vanish off the headlines. They continue to play the part – of Democrat apologist and enabler – that they have chosen for themselves all along.

And we saw an all-too typical example of Democrats and the media ganging up to harm the economy under a Republican administration. Sen. Charles Schumer unnecessarily notified the public of the impending federal takeover of IndyMac in California, creating the equally unnecessary lines and panic among account holders. And then there was the media flocking like vultures, breathlessly envisioning one worst-case scenario for the American economy after another.

Don’t you DARE try to claim that Democrats – who were so utterly consumed with investigating baseball players’ for allegations of steroid abuse and with repeatedly demonzing oil executives at one communist-type show trial “hearing” after another that they were entirely blindsided by the secondary market collapse – were one iota less to blame than the Republicans even at their worst.

And don’t you dare believe that Republicans under George Bush mismanaged the economy in spite of the Democrats’ best attempts to keep it rolling smoothly along. If anything, it was precisely the other way around.

My liberal friend is responsible for unquestioningly believing the liberal media spin rather than engaging in the critical thinking that would let him see the truth about the disinformation campaign going around all around him. Please don’t make the same mistake.

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Democrats, The Countrywide Scandal, and Self-Righteous Hypocrisy

June 27, 2008

I still recall that tragic day nearly two years ago when the Democrats regained power. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made one of those smarmy, pompous, self-righteous, over-the-top, flies-in-the-face-of-the-facts sort of statements that has come to characterize her when she said, ““Democrats are leading the effort to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest Congress in history.” She liked the ring of that so much she said it again and again with varying iterations. “The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”

Well, of course she was completely full of what my dog regularly adds to my back yard. Remember how she tried to appoint people like Jack Murtha (the traitorous slimebag who was so ready to convict Marines of war crimes) and William Jefferson (the greedy slimebag caught red handed with $90,000 in his freezer) to important House positions?

Well, strike another blow for Democrats’ ethical purity.

A June 13, 2008 Associated Press story titled, “Sens. Dodd, Conrad tied to special mortgage deals,” opened with the following:

WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, a leader of Congress’ efforts to help homeowners ensnared in the subprime mortgage meltdown, reportedly got special treatment on his own mortgages from the CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., a company whose practices he has called “abusive.”

At least one other lawmaker, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., also benefited from the VIP treatment after placing a personal call to Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo seeking a mortgage.

Both senators say they weren’t aware they were getting special deals.

Still, their involvement in a special program that awarded discounts and waived fees for “friends” of Mozilo – first reported by Conde Nast Portfolio magazine’s Web site – raised questions about whether lawmakers weighing a homeowner rescue themselves benefited from the actions of a leading offender in the mortgage meltdown.

It could be especially damaging for Dodd, D-Conn., one of four Senate Democrats who pursued his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, given his high-profile role in crafting the housing rescue.

In order to believe Dodd’s and Conrad’s stammering protestations of innocence, one must accept that neither man understood what the acronym “V.I.P.” meant.

The magazine (this being another big story in which the elite media had to be dragged into coverage by exposure from new media revelations) said other participants in the company’s VIP program included former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, and former U.N. ambassador and assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.

A whole bunch of prominent, smarmy, holier-than-thou Democrats, in other words.

Dodd and Conrad made their pathetic excuses, but “An internal e-mail from Mozilo, however, said the exception was “due to the fact that the borrower is a senator,” according to the Portfolio report.”

So, the bottom line is that while the housing market meltdown was taking place, and as Democrats were out in force taking turns blaming President Bush for every aspect of the crisis, Democrats were benefitting from sweetheart deals handed out by some of the worst (by their own charges) offenders of the subprime mortgage scandal.

The AP story concludes:

Mozilo received compensation worth more than $22.1 million and cashed $121.5 million in stock options in 2007, while Countrywide posted a loss of over $700 million and saw its stock plummet 80 percent. The company agreed in January to be acquired by Bank of America Corp. for $4.1 billion in stock.

Countrywide has come under fire for its lending practices, including providing mortgages with low initial “teaser” rates that balloon higher than borrowers can afford. Dodd and other Banking Committee Democrats wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in December 2007 singling out Countrywide and calling the loans “abusive.”

A watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called Friday for House and Senate investigations of Dodd and Conrad, and any other lawmakers who may have received preferential mortgages through the Countrywide program.

Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., said Congress should hold hearings on “Friends of Angelo” loans.

Souder told the Fox Business Network, “The question is, who are the friends? What is the list? How is it done? What does it mean? If we don’t pursue it, it would show preferential treatment.”

By all appearances so far, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate leadership promise to move on this scandal with all the speed of chilled mollases. They called for Rep. Tom Delay’s head on a platter when there was nothing more than a charge from an ideologue district attorney. Rep. William Jefferson has been officially under criminal indictment for over a year, and he’s still happily “serving” his district (his sister, Brenda Jefferson, just copped a guilty plea for activities he was involved in, by the way).

Don’t ever expect Democrats to live up to the standards they demand of Republicans.

Having said all this, there remains still one more link to be pointed out: the link between Barack Obama – he of the Tony Rezko sweetheart real estate deal – and the man he appointed to head his important vice president selection committee:

Lawmakers’ participation in the VIP program is coming to light just days after similar revelations about former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson prompted Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to ax Johnson from his vice presidential vetting team.

Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, said it was Johnson who referred him to Mozilo in 2002 when the North Dakotan was seeking a loan to buy a vacation home in Bethany Beach, Del.

“I called (Mozilo). I said, ‘I’m buying this property. Would you be interested in the mortgage?’, and he said, ‘Yeah. Call these people and we’ll take a look,'” Conrad said.

“I did not think for one moment _ and no one ever suggested to me _ that I was getting preferential treatment,” Conrad said.

So Kent Conrad calls the CEO of sleazy Countrywide fishing for a personal mortgage, and it never once occurs to him to think that the really, really good deal he gets as a result just might be a political favor?

And there’s Barack Obama’s (now ex) point man, Jim Johnson, steering Conrad toward the promised land.

Assuming you believe Barack Obama – who oh-so-innocently received his own sweetheart real estate deal – it is just a coincidence that the man he appointed to lead one of the most important committees of his campaign would be dirty.

In which case it has to occur to you to ask just how many dirty Democrats there are involved in the housing market scandal.

But have no fear: Democrats will continue to lay the blame for the mortgage meltdown on Republicans, no matter how many of their most prominent members are involved, and no matter how up-to-their eyeballs that involvement turns out to be.

If you’re gag reflexes can handle it, you should read Pelosi’s “pledge” of unparalleled integrity and ethics (and note that Barack Obama’s name appears on the “look at me: I’m wonderful too!” line):

Pelosi: ‘We Will Create the Most Open and Honest Government in History’

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Contact: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, unveiled Democrats’ “Honest Leadership, Open Government Act,” which will restore honesty, integrity, and openness to government. Below are Pelosi’s remarks as prepared.

“Good afternoon. It is fitting that we gather in the building of the Library of Congress named for Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence. Today, Democrats are here to make a Declaration of Independence from special interests.

“These halls contain great wisdom. In the hall behind me are three paintings about government. The central painting contains President Lincoln’s famous words, ‘A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ On the right side, a mural entitled ‘Good Administration’ shows a figure reading and voting, symbolizing the value of an informed and involved citizenry. On the other side is a painting entitled ‘Corrupt Legislation,’ which shows a figure burning a scroll of learning and trampling a Bible.

“It is a harsh image, to see a Bible underfoot – but it makes a powerful point: corrupt government undermines our values. We come here today to support those values, and to lay out an agenda for a new era of honest, open, and transparent government.

“For a long time now, an ethical cloud has hung over the Capitol. For years, Democrats have called for an end to the Republican culture of corruption.

“Yesterday, House Republican leaders unveiled a vague and insufficient set of so-called reforms. What is important about their list is not what it does do, but what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t kill the K Street project, it doesn’t address procedural abuses in the House that Republicans use to implement their culture of corruption, and it doesn’t charge the Ethics committee to act immediately. The Democratic plan we unveil today addresses all of these necessary reforms.

“Republicans are resisting true reform because they all benefit from enabling the culture of corruption to continue. Republicans have allowed this poison tree of corruption to bear the fruit of bad policy for the American people. When a prescription drug bill puts pharmaceutical companies first, senior citizens pay higher prices for prescription drugs. When the energy bill give tax breaks to oil companies already making historic profits, Americans pay the price at the pump and in record home-heating costs. When liability is waived for vaccine manufacturers, companies will profit, but Americans can get hurt.

“The intention of our Founding Fathers was for Congress to be a marketplace of ideas. The Republicans have turned Congress into an auction house – for sale to the highest bidder. You have to pay to play. It is just not right.

“Democrats are leading the effort to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest Congress in history.

“That is why, with our Democratic Declaration of Honest Leadership and Open Government, we are pledging to enact and enforce legislation that will:

  • Ban all gifts and travel from lobbyists. Period.
  • Kill the K Street Project, the Republican plan that trades favors for lobbying jobs, and toughen public disclosure of lobbyist activity.
  • Remove the revolving door by doubling the amount of time Members and staff are prohibited from going from legislating to lobbying. Stop legislators from negotiating legislation, while also negotiating employment contracts for themselves with those who benefit from that legislation. Keep former Members who are lobbyists off the floor of Congress.
  • Next we would end the ‘dead of night’ special interest provisions that turn bills into special-interest giveaways. Lawmakers must have the opportunity to read every bill before they vote on it. It’s common sense.

“When it comes to contracting and cronyism, we intend to:

  • Eliminate the practice of irresponsible no-bid contracts, bring criminal penalties against war profiteers, and ensure that the government contracting process is honest, open, competitive, and fair. No more Halliburtons.
  • Prohibit cronyism in key appointments by making sure any individual appointed to a position has proven credentials. Brownie certainly wasn’t doing a ‘heck of a job’ for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

“These are tough standards, but they are just the beginning. We are prepared to do even more.

“If we are to have true reforms, two things need to happen: We must have strong enforcement, with an active and functioning Ethics Committee. That is why last week I wrote to Speaker Hastert asking him to join me in urging the Ethics Committee to begin investigations immediately. Second, if and when the Speaker brings reform legislation to the floor, an open rule is absolutely essential. A new era of openness can only begin if we debate the reforms in an open manner.

“Taken together, Democratic proposals will lead this country in a new direction, put an end to business as usual, and make certain this nation’s leaders serve the people’s interest, not the special interests.

“Ours must be a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ That means all of the American people. Republicans have made it a government of, by, and for a few of the people. America can do better. We can and we will. With this agenda, Democrats will create the most open and honest government in history, and put power back where it belongs – in the hands of all the people. Together, America can do better.”

The Democrats demonized the Republicans with an unprecedented blitzkrieg of nasty attacks, even as they promised to be bi-partisan. But they who were so quick to point out how awful the Republicans were and how oh-so-wonderful they would be have magnificently failed to improve the moral climate of Congress in the least.

The thing that infuriates me the most about Democrats isn’t that they are any more corrupt than Republicans. I don’t know that they are. I do know that the bigger government becomes, and the more billions getting doled out to one special interest or another, the more corruption there will be as groups try to influence politicians to steer money their way.  But what never ceases to tick me off to no end is that Democrats are so full of venomous attacks, so full of smarmy assurances of their own wonderfulness, and inevitably always so full of hypocrisy.

The Republicans have introduced some excellent Congressional reform measures that have gone absolutely nowhere under the Democratic leadership.

Barack Obama – just like Nancy Pelosi – is full of promises about what a wonderful job he’ll do if given power, and how wonderful he’ll be. Trust me: he won’t do any better than the Congress that has attained the distinction of achieving the lowest approval ratings of all time.