A kick in the teeth for Obama, Reid and Pelosi
The Massachusetts Senate result has shown that lies and fancy talk might get you into office but in the USA you still have democracy to deal with -- and arrogance will get you nowhere there.
Scott Brown is every American conservative's hero today.
‘Barack Obama made a lot of promises but they meant nothing’
Voters in Massachusetts cast their votes yesterday amid freezing temperatures and falling snow. They provided a window to America’s sour mood, even in this traditional Democratic stronghold.
Voters spoke of disappointment that President Obama had not made good on his soaring rhetoric. Pat Tobin, a saleswoman who voted Republican yesterday, said: “When people say ‘change’ there should be something behind it. Obama made a lot of promises of ‘change’ but I don’t think it meant anything.”
Craig Provost, an industrial designer who voted Democrat, said: “I think there is a backlash against Obama because he has not fulfilled all his campaign promises. But I think he is doing a good job.”
Voters in traditionally Irish-American South Boston, known as “Southie”, backed Mr Obama by 59-40 per cent over John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. But the area is more conservative than Boston as a whole. It is these “Reagan Democrats” — white working-class voters who defected to the Republican Ronald Reagan in the 1980s — who are now having second thoughts about Mr Obama and the Democrats.
During the campaign, Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, a lawyer, state legislator, US Army National Guard officer and former model, aired an advert showing himself strolling around “Southie” shaking hands. Martha Coakley, his opponent, alienated many white working-class men by failing to know her baseball facts and mocking her opponent for campaigning in the cold outside Fenway Park baseball stadium.
Jean Holland, an accountant who voted for Mr Brown yesterday, said she felt let down by Mr Obama. “I really thought when Obama got in he would be more for the working class people,” she said. “He’s not doing much right now. He’s dragging his feet. He has got a lot going on with the wars.”
Matthew Gagliano, a mechanical engineer, also voted for Mr Brown. Many voters voiced deep misgivings about the Democrats’ healthcare reform proposal, saying neither the country nor they could afford it. “Obama is doing a good job but I don’t like the healthcare situation,” he said. “It’s too much government control. I do not want taxes to go up.” Christine Creed, a bank worker who voted for Ms Coakley, said: “A lot of people are afraid of healthcare reform. People are nervous. But there is hope. In 2010 the economy should pick up.”
Why is academe so Leftist?
The NYT has just come out with some half-reasonable thoughts on that and I have added a few comments in my leading post today on EDUCATION WATCH. For readers in a hurry, however, I will repeat below my preamble to the article:
There is much that is reasonable in the NYT article below but it ignores the numerous reports from conservative academics of the discriminatory treatment that they have received in their workplaces. My own experience is typical. Probably because I was an obvious high-flyer from the beginning, I was APPOINTED (at age 27) with tenure. I didn't have to wait for tenure. So when they found out that I was a conservative, they could not kick me out. But they COULD block my promotion. And they did. Although I was in some years getting as much published in the journals as the whole of the rest of the Department put together, I only ever managed to get one step up the ladder. With the amount I was getting published, I should have FLOWN up the ladder.
Another thing the article below ignores is that the unrealistic ideas of Leftists make them unsuitable for work in business. My realistic conservative ideas meant that I did well in both business and academe but the only Leftist I know who went into business eventually went broke. Academe is a refuge for dreamers who couldn't make it elsewhere. I look at the issues concerned in greater detail here
Republicans learn to play the technology game
A year ago, many journalists and political pundits believed that a paradigm shift had occurred in the 2008 election. In electing the first black president, Democrats won states that had been out of reach for decades (Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana) and showed surprising strength in the reddest of red states (Montana, North Dakota, and Arizona). There was considerable sentiment on the Left that like 1968 or 1932, Obama’s win in 2008 had been a realigning event. John Judis of the New Republic and other liberal political analysts believed the election, held amid an economic meltdown, had sped up emerging trends and would give Democrats the upper hand for years to come.
Democratic success among Latinos, urban professionals, and women had helped build a new coalition that would endure as white males receded like mastodons at the end of the Pleistocene epoch. As Washington Post columnist Harold Myerson gushed after Obama’s win: “The future in American politics belongs to the party that can win a more racially diverse, better educated, more metropolitan electorate. It belongs to Barack Obama’s Democrats.”
Except in Virginia, and New Jersey and maybe Massachusetts. And to the 60 percent of respondents in the latest National Journal poll who thought that things would be the same or better if John McCain had been elected in 2008. Democrats argue that these are only bumps in the road – that George W. Bush had been even worse than they said (which hardly seems possible) and that it will take a couple of years for the transformation to take hold.
But the liberal euphoria was based on two erroneous assumptions: First, that the Republicans would be frozen in time on the day after the election; second, that Barack Obama would govern as he campaigned, as a cool, competent centrist open to new ideas. President Obama has wielded power awkwardly and behaved like an unimaginative partisan. Watching clips of the candidate talking about televising the health-care negotiations on C-SPAN reminds us how much difference there has been between the dream and the reality of Obama. But even if Obama rediscovers the magic that made Myerson and Judis believe that a new era of Democratic dominance had arrived, the question of how the GOP would react was still to be settled.
When the Franco-Prussian War began in 1870, the French believed the outcome would be the same as it had been in previous generations: an easy victory over a weak Germanic foe. Instead, France rushed into war and swiftly lost 140,000 men to Kaiser Wilhelm’s army and, perhaps, the national will to fight. The French mistake was to believe that their old enemy had stayed the same.
Of all of the rhapsodies composed by journalists about the 2008 Obama campaign, some of the most fervent were devoted to technology. Obama was the guy with Scarlett Johansson’s e-mail on his BlackBerry. John McCain thought that Google had a definite article. Obama had a YouTube channel with 1,110 videos, 13 million names on an e-mail list and his own social networking site (MyBO). Obama’s foot soldiers were mobilized by texts sent directly to their smartphones, and more than a half-billion dollars came in from online contributors.
New York Times media columnist David Carr sneered at the “crude and expensive” networking technology of the Bush administration, and suggested that Obama might use the new technologies of the Facebook and Twitter era to transcend party politics. “Political parties supply brand, ground troops, money and relationships, all things that Mr. Obama already owns,” Carr wrote. It turns out that Obama’s network has had limited value since he took office, in no small part because his digital army includes many of the young voters likely to be disillusioned by his old-fashioned approach to governing.
Even so, Republicans learned some valuable lessons during the campaign. GOP members of Congress have more than twice as many Twitter followers than their Democratic counterparts and tweet five times more often. Minority Leader John Boehner may look like a character from Mad Men, but the Don Draper of the House has a “director of new media” and more than 30,000 Facebook fans – almost four times as many as Nancy Pelosi.
Feds find little fraud at big Wall Street firms
While the American public and Capitol Hill lawmakers appear to blame wrongdoing on Wall Street as the primary cause of the global financial crisis, federal law enforcement agencies have had little success in finding and prosecuting instances of fraud at the nation's major investment firms. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.s testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last week, while boasting of thousands of cases against small-time defrauders running mortgage scams, was notable for the absence of a single example of successful prosecution of crimes by the big firms on Wall Street.
The Justice Department last year lost the only case it has brought against Wall Street executives involving suspected fraud in connection with risky subprime mortgage securities. A U.S. District Court last year acquitted two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers whom the government accused of fraud.
The Justice Department and other federal agencies have beefed up the administration's financial crimes task force to ferret out more wrongdoing, but the cases thus far overwhelmingly target small, local operators — including mortgage brokers, appraisers and real estate agents — as well as borrowers who lied to get home loans. The department has opened 2,800 investigations of mortgage fraud throughout the country. Hundreds of cases are pending in states that were tied to the housing bubble, such as Florida and California. Criminal charges have been filed against 826 suspects, but only two of whom — the Bear Stearns traders — worked on Wall Street.
While public outrage has largely targeted Wall Street, the government has consistently said that fraudulent operations were spread across the country and encompassed every sector related to housing and mortgage finance. "Mortgage fraud has swept through our economy," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer told the commission, and it has continued in the aftermath of the financial crash. New scams, he said, are taking advantage of people who are in default on their mortgages and in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said the department's findings show that pervasive cheating helped create the housing crisis. Some borrowers, he said, lied to obtain loans or took on risky mortgages to make quick profits but walked away from their obligations when the market turned. "During the housing bubble, cheating became so commonplace that those who did it were barely considered to be engaging in fraud," he said. "It is possible that hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of borrowers, brokers and salespeople cheated over the space of just a few years, helping to bring down themselves and an entire industry, and contributing mightily to the economic and fiscal predicaments in which we find ourselves."
The public frenzy against Wall Street has resulted in proposals in Washington for hefty new taxes on bonuses and securities transactions and for breaking up the biggest financial firms....
Kangaroo court for the banks
The big banks were bit players compared to what the politicians and "regulators" did
As a general rule, diagnosis should precede treat -ment, but last week, we saw in both the legislative and executive branches examples of the treatment-before-diagnosis" mentality. In Congress, the first hearing of the congressionally created Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was held under the chairmanship of Phil Angelides, former California treasurer and former chairman of the California Democratic Party. The commission was "mandated" by law to report back to Congress by December 2010 "with a series of conclusions about what occurred, and recommendations as to how to avoid future market breakdowns.
Mr. Angelides led off his first hearing, to which he had called the chief executives of some of the leading New York banks with a demand that they accept blame for the financial crisis, by saying he was "troubled by [the bankers'] inability to take responsibility." With the chairman having decided on the first day that the bankers were responsible for the financial meltdown, what is the point of the commission? Can't they even bother to fake an intent to carry out their responsibilities as the law requires?
Even weirder, the Democratic leaders have made it clear that they plan to pass their financial re-regulation act before the November elections - even though legally they call for recommended changes from the commission to be reported back to them after the election - in December.
Sadly, Mr. Angelides' kangaroo-court attitude does not seem to be an aberration. On Saturday, President Obama, in the words of The Washington Post, "unleashed a verbal barrage against the nation's largest banks, accusing them of wanton selfishness by refusing to accept new regulations he and his party are proposing, and for fighting a new tax that Obama wants to impose."
The president proposes enacting a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which would be a $90 billion tax leveled against the 50 largest banks, which, according to the Post "Obama called responsible for pushing the nation into economic crisis. By paying the tax, the nation's largest banks would settle their debt to taxpayers." That the banks paid back, with interest, the money lent to them by the taxpayers does not excuse them from this new tax.
Note that not only are the president and the commission chairman assuming they know the cause that the commission is assigned to find, but also that this new tax would establish a precedent that any person or business can be taxed or fined for any harm Congress thinks he or it did to the economy.
On this theory, everyone who contributed to the real estate and stock market bubbles, the breaking of which "caused" the crisis, could be taxed for the "effects" of their economic conduct. Under that theory, everyone who bought real estate or a stock after, say, 2005, should be taxed for a crime against society. Perhaps the Democrats would apply this theory to education. They could tax the teachers' unions and their members for "causing" generations of ill-educated children.
But beyond such foolishness, the fundamental danger of this mentality is that if they are wrong that the banks caused the crisis, their remedies in the form of new regulations and taxes may not make the economy safer. Rather, they may needlessly encumber and tax our financial institutions and drive financial business to unregulated Asia - and with it, our future prosperity....
Three-quarters of a century later, serious economists are still vigorously debating the causes for the Great Depression and its persistence. Wouldn't it be wise to spend at least a few months trying to find out the real causes of our current economic crisis before committing major surgery on a financial system that has over the past century permitted the United States to become the greatest economic engine in human history?
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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)