Sunday, October 05, 2008

Even a British Leftist lady grudgingly finds great virtue in Sarah Palin

Excerpts from a comment in "The Times" about the VP debate

And the joy of Mrs Palin, what endears her to Middle America and fascinates every British woman I know, is her quality that cannot be bottled and sold: authenticity.

It shines out, even through her shopping-channel presentation, the Day-Glo patriotism of her XXL Old Glory lapel pin, her talent for talking while perpetually smiling (which, ask Gordon Brown, is a tough trick to pull off without looking deranged), the cheeseball winks, the local DJ shout-outs to kids at her brother's elementary school, the exaggerated nose wrinkles when uttering something as disgusting as "single-sex relationships" or "redistribution of wealth". She is Nicole Kidman as the driven weather girl in To Die For, Reese Witherspoon, the ruthless high-school candidate in Election. A candy-coated ball of granite.

When she offered "a bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street", Joe Biden had to counter quickly with the word down in Kay's Restaurant and the Home's Depot in Wilmington. When Mrs Palin played her son in Iraq, her special-needs baby, her worries about college fees, Mr Biden had to match it with a soldier boy of his own and raise her with his dead wife and daughter, then an emotionally welling remembrance of struggling to raise two injured sons alone.

And you could detect frustration and pique in Mr Biden's lament that, "just because I'm a man", he doesn't understand the hard decisions made over that mythical American kitchen table. But perhaps in this alone women politicians have an advantage, being the ones most able to convince voters that they have seen the inside of a maternity ward, a supermarket, a classroom, have dried tears and chewed pencils over household budgets....

Authenticity is now at a premium. William Hague, with his soft Yorkshire tones, his tales of delivering fizzy pop to streets like my own, is an asset at this hour. Perhaps he is dragging out his kitchen-table conservatism even now. Even John Prescott, oddly, is a voice for these times, as is Alan Johnson, who raised three kids on a council estate. Peter Mandelson, with his slick suits and slippery mortgage, is the last face voters can bear. But then Gordon Brown has the more clearcut task of steering the ship between the icebergs: Cameron must get with the bodies in the water.

After that debate, those who loathe Mrs Palin will still loathe her; those who cleave to her will find no new reason to be repelled. It is just shtick, she's sticking to the rigid train tracks of her notes, you tell yourself when she says how Saturday soccer parents fret at the touchline over their investments. But then the debate ends, her great messy family spreads out on stage, and Mrs Palin tenderly passes her always-placid Down's baby to her little girl. The sound is off, the scripted babble is over. It is a silent gesture, something compellingly real in a cooked-up world.

More here. It's a pity the lady commenting does not speak Australian. Australian English has a very apposite word for the virtue she sees in Sarah. Sarah is "fair dinkum".


Nothing's the Matter With Kansas

My bank is still making loans. We have none in default

Here in the heart of Kansas, the sky isn't falling and Chicken Little isn't running around without a head. Community banks like mine are still making loans and serving the needs of customers.

I used to worry about competing in the world of mega "too-big-to-fail" banks. But now I know community banks offer something the monsters can never offer -- real personal service. Many financial-type businesses say they offer the same thing, but they usually don't list personal numbers in the phone book and probably aren't driving the volunteer fire truck. My father always told me that character repaid many more debts than collateral ever would. Community banks form long-term relationships with customers.

During the farm crisis of the 1980s the over-line credits we had placed with the city correspondent banks were called. A community bank used to rely on participating loans with large metro banks. For example, if my bank had a regulatory loan limit of a million dollars and I made a two million dollar loan, I would "sell" the over-line to a large bank. These large banks suddenly suspended and called all rural credits. This is probably similar to what is happening to borrowers who use super-large banks in today's panic environment. There was nothing wrong with these loans but every small bank suffered from this irrational wrath.

A group of fellow bankers formed an ad hoc loan-pooling arrangement and we traded loans. Not a dime was lost, no borrowers were sold out and we didn't need a government bailout. It did instill a fierce sense of independence and self reliance.

Today we are reacting to a crisis that absolutely everyone knew was going to happen. Can you tell me that the entire congressional delegation from California didn't read a newspaper or watch any TV when unregulated brokers were offering 100% loans and allowing borrowers to make up their income?

Appraisal rules were established after the savings-and-loan debacle. The brokers and packagers weren't regulated so some appraisers really had a field day being creative. And now the government thinks we need new rules? They didn't enforce the existing ones.

Community bankers get really ticked off when Treasury can, with the stroke of a pen, guarantee $50 billion in money-market mutual funds, including the tax exempt funds. These funds didn't participate in generating the guarantee dollars, weren't regulated, and aren't subject to Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rules. Why does that not surprise me? The CRA was passed in 1977 to ensure that banks meet the credit needs of their local communities but in effect practically compelled some regulated lenders to make loans to people and projects that have limited ability to repay them. Billions of these loans have been made, with a large percentage of the housing loans ending up at Fannie Mae. Community banks feel that if we must follow these CRA rules to comply with deposit insurance regulators, then anyone else receiving government guarantees should as well. Banks paid for all of the FDIC fund dollars as well as the operating costs of their regulators. We have been competing with these money-market funds for years, they mess up and now are handed a "get out of jail free" card.

All of the media pressure about this terrible crisis has really worried people. We community bankers must spend time reassuring folks that everything will be fine. The best way I have found to do that is to make more loans this September than we made a year ago, offer new products, and serve a fantastic group of customers with home loans at our bank where all is well and none are facing foreclosure.

If the government really wanted to help banks stimulate this economy, all that would be needed is a bonfire eliminating redundant red tape. While starter homes may cost a half-million dollars in some parts of this country, they are one-tenth of that here. So why does the borrower sign but three pieces of paper to process a $50,000 auto loan but needs two dozen-plus documents (which are never read) for a home purchase of the same amount? All that extra paperwork sure didn't protect anyone in this crisis.

Can anyone tell me why my small bank headquartered in a town of 1,100 is subject to the onerous rules of CRA, HMDA, CIP, FACTA, Red Flag and others? We have no red-lined areas or stop lights and everyone is making a low or moderate income. We were probably at the hospital when the borrower was born.

I am really concerned about my grandchildren's future being mortgaged by a $1 trillion porked-up bailout. But our small bank, along with many others, is alive and well and still making loans. To paraphrase the late great Kansas newspaperman William Allen White: What's right with Kansas are the more than 300 local banks taking care of Main Street.




Big, Big Audience for VP debate: "I think we've probably seen the last presidential debate on a Friday night for a while. Last week's presidential debate had an audience of about 52 million. They're talking 70 million to 75 million for last night's Palin-Biden showdown."

The Biden Error/Lie/Hallucination List (UPDATED to 22): "Below, you'll find a list of 14 "lies" Biden told last night, distributed by the McCain campaign. I'd just note two observations: first, when you tell stories of things that didn't happen with the frequency of Joe Biden, coupled with his fervent belief of these untrue and inaccurate statements, I don't think "lie" is the appropriate term. "Hallucinations" seems more accurate, I think. Second, they missed a bunch, so Biden's list of li- er, hallucinations is well beyond 14."

Great news!: "O.J. Simpson has been found guilty on all charges in the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room more than a year ago. The 61-year-old former football faces up to life in prison. A somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read Friday in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody. The verdict comes 13 years to the day after Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles. Co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody. The men were tried on 12 criminal charges."

Cash strapped British Navy cuts destroyer fleet : "The Fleet now has just five air defence warships left to protect vessels missile or aircraft attack at a time when other nations such as China, India and Iran are investing heavily in anti-ship warfare. Three Type 42 destroyers – Exeter, Nottingham and Southampton – have been "parked up" in Portsmouth at "reduced readiness" up to two years before they were due to be decommissioned. Britain's force of destroyers and frigates has now been reduced from 35 to 22 in the last decade despite government promises it would not slip below 25. It will be another two years before the first of six of the highly sophisticated Type 45 destroyers can be deployed on operations leaving a "gaping hole" in defences. Senior Navy commanders have told The Daily Telegraph that the nation is taking "serious risks" in protecting carrier groups or amphibious flotillas and have accused the Government of neglecting the Fleet that protects the 90 per cent of Britain's imported trade"


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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