Post below recycled from Gateway. See the original for links
America's most liberal senator is having some problems in the heartland. Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) will not endorse the most liberal senator in his road to the presidency. The AP reported:
Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma said Tuesday Barack Obama is "the most liberal senator" in Congress and he has no intention of endorsing him for the White House. However, Boren will vote for Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August and will vote Democratic on Nov. 4.
"I think this is an important time for our country," Boren said in a telephone interview. "We're facing a terrible economic downturn. We have high gasoline prices. We have problems in our foreign policy. That's why I think it's important."
Boren, the lone Democrat in Oklahoma's congressional delegate, said that while Obama has talked about working with Republicans, "unfortunately, his record does not reflect working in a bipartisan fashion." Boren, a self-described centrist, is seeking a third term this year in a mostly rural district that stretches across eastern Oklahoma.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) announced that he will not run as the VP candidate with Barack Obama.
UPDATE 2: A Hillary-supporting Jewish donor is bailing from the Democratic Party to support John McCain.
UPDATE 3: Israel Matsav has more on Obama's Jewish problem.
More slimy Friends of Barack
Barack Obama may have come up with a creative way to solve the housing recession: Let everyone buy property at a discount the way he did from Tony Rezko, and give everyone in America a discount mortgage the way Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide did for Fannie Mae's Jim Johnson. Team Obama's real estate and mortgage transactions are certainly a change from business as usual. They suggest old-fashioned back-scratching below even current Beltway standards.
A former CEO of mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae, Mr. Johnson is now vetting Vice Presidential candidates for Mr. Obama. But he is also a textbook case for poor disclosure as regulators sifted through the wreckage of Fannie's $10 billion accounting scandal. Despite an exhaustive federal inquiry, Mr. Johnson managed to avoid disclosing one very special perk: below-market interest-rate mortgages from Countrywide Financial, arranged by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and James Hagerty broke the story this weekend.
Fannie Mae tells us that Mr. Johnson did not inform the company's board of these sweetheart mortgage deals, nor did his CEO successor Franklin Raines, who also received such loans. We can understand why. Fannie bought mortgages from loan originator Countrywide, and then packaged them into securities for sale or kept the loans and profited from the interest. Mr. Mozilo told Dow Jones in 1995 that he was "working very closely . . . with Jim Johnson of Fannie Mae to come up with a rational method of making the process more efficient by the use of credit scoring."
Since Fannie was buying Countrywide's loans, under terms set by Mr. Johnson and later Mr. Raines - or by people in their employ - the fact that Fannie's CEO had a separate personal financial relationship with Countrywide was an obvious conflict of interest. The company's code of conduct required prior approval of such arrangements. Neither Mr. Johnson nor Mr. Raines sought such approval, according to Fannie.
Even if they had received waivers from the board to enjoy these perks, conscientious board members would then have wanted to disclose the waivers to investors. Post-Enron, the Sarbanes-Oxley law requires such disclosures. But even in the late-1990s, when the Friends of Angelo loans began, board members would likely have raised red flags.
Former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt tells us that "the best way to deal with issues like this is not to have these kinds of relationships. From both the Countrywide and the Fannie perspective, it is simply bad policy to permit loans to 'friends' on more favorable terms than others similarly situated would be able to get."
One question is whether Messrs. Johnson and Raines were using their position to pad their own incomes that were already fabulous thanks to an implicit taxpayer subsidy. (See the table nearby.) But the bigger issue is whether they steered Fannie policy into giving Mr. Mozilo and Countrywide favorable pricing, which means they helped to facilitate the mortgage boom and bust that Countrywide did so much to promote. A further federal probe would seem to be warranted, and we assume Barney Frank and his fellow mortgage moralists will want to dig into this palm-greasing from Capitol Hill.
The irony here is that Mr. Obama has denounced Mr. Mozilo as part of his populist case against corporate excess, calling Mr. Mozilo and a colleague in March "the folks who are responsible for infecting the economy and helping to create a home foreclosure crisis." Obama campaign manager David Plouffe also said in March that "If we're really going to crack down on the practices that caused the credit and housing crises, we're going to need a leader who doesn't owe these industries any favors." But now this protector of the working class has entrusted his first big task as Presidential nominee to the very man who received "favors" in return for enriching Mr. Mozilo.
Yesterday, ABC News asked Mr. Obama whether he should have more carefully vetted Mr. Johnson and Eric Holder, who is working with Mr. Johnson on veep vetting. Correspondent Sunlen Miller noted Mr. Johnson's loans from Countrywide and Mr. Holder's involvement as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration in the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich. Said Mr. Obama: "Everybody, you know, who is tangentially related to our campaign, I think, is going to have a whole host of relationships - I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters."
Vetting Mr. Johnson's finances would have been time well spent, judging by a May 2006 report from Fannie Mae's regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (Ofheo). Even if Mr. Obama considers the advisers helping him select a running mate "tangentially related" to his campaign, he might have thought twice about any relationship with Mr. Johnson.
Addressing the company's too smooth (and fraudulent) reported earnings growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ofheo reported: "Those achievements were illusions deliberately and systematically created by the Enterprise's senior management with the aid of inappropriate accounting and improper earnings management . . . By deliberately and intentionally manipulating accounting to hit earnings targets, senior management maximized the bonuses and other executive compensation they received, at the expense of shareholders."
The regulator described how, despite an internal Fannie analysis that valued Mr. Johnson's 1998 compensation at almost $21 million, the summary compensation table in the firm's 1999 proxy suggested his pay was no more than $7 million. Ofheo found that Fannie had actually drafted talking points to deflect such media questions as: "He's trying to hide how much he's made, isn't he?" and "Gimme a break. He's hiding his compensation."
To this list we would add one more, directed at Mr. Obama: Is this what you mean by bringing change to Washington?
Obama the anti-gun nut
Post below recycled from Taranto. See the original for links
Back in April, columnist Robert Novak noted that Barack Obama was performing a "dance" on the topic of gun rights:
Obama, disagreeing with the D.C. government and gun control advocates, declares that the Second Amendment's "right of the people to keep and bear arms" applies to individuals, not just the "well regulated militia" in the amendment. In the next breath, he asserts that this constitutional guarantee does not preclude local "common sense" restrictions on firearms.
The government of the District of Columbia is defending a gun ban before the Supreme Court, with a decision expected this month. The National Rifle Association Web site has a list of those "common sense" restrictions Obama has favored. One of them caught the eye of blogger David Hardy:
Barack Obama supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park, which would eliminate almost every gun store in America.
The reference is to a post by David Bernstein of The Volokh Conspiracy, which quotes from a Chicago Defender article of Dec. 13, 1999:
He's proposing that all federally licensed gun dealers sell firearms in a storefront and not from their homes while banning their business from being within five miles of a school or a park.
Five miles? As Hardy notes, the effect of this would be to "eliminate almost every gun store in America." Alan Korwin, a Phoenix-based gun-rights advocate, has a series of maps of his hometown, showing areas that are "gun-free school zones" under a federal law that bans possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of a school. Phoenix is a sprawling city; to show the effect of such restrictions on an older, denser town, Korwin also has a map of downtown Cleveland, which shows dense concentrations of 2,000-foot-diameter circles.
The proposal Obama endorsed in 1999 would have banned gun stores within five miles, or 26,400 feet, of a school. Imagine the same maps with each of those circles 10 miles across. Gun stores would be permitted only in the most remote rural areas--and only if there is also no park within five miles.
The Defender article also reported that Obama proposed "to make it a felony for a gun owner whose firearm was stolen from his residence which causes harm to another person if that weapon was not securely stored in that home." This sentence is clumsily worded, but it seems to be saying that if someone breaks into your house, steals your gun, and uses it to rob a liquor store, Obama would send you to prison for failing to store it "securely."
To be sure, these are positions Obama took as a state legislator. It is unlikely that he would stand by them today, and even unlikelier that Congress would enact them. But it does lead one to think that Obama's instinct is to trash, rather than protect, the Constitution.
A Constitutional Obamination?
The SCOTUS question
So, it's all but official. Barack Obama is the Democratic Party's nominee to be the next President of the United States. While most of the ink being spilled and talk being aired is focused on what the political pundits -- as well as their followers in the mainstream media -- deem to be the crises of today (e.g., gas prices, housing downturn, economic collapse and Iraq), there has been hardly a mention of the all but certain fact that the next President will choose at least two, if not three or more, justices to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The actuarial facts are that Justice John Paul Stevens is an octogenarian at 88 years old, and is followed by five colleagues who have all long-since passed Social Security's retirement age -- namely, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (75), Antonin Scalia (72), Anthony Kennedy (71), Stephen Breyer (69) and David Souter (68). Indeed, it's no secret that multiple vacancies will open up in the next presidency.
Supreme Court practitioner and SCOTUS blog founder Thomas Goldstein certainly thinks so. More than a year ago, Goldstein authored a post explaining that the "next president . will have two appointments immediately (replacing Stevens and Souter, and there also is a very substantial prospect that a Democrat would quickly be in a position to appoint a third (replacing Ginsburg)." Goldstein then noted, "In fact, if a Democrat wins, there will be something of a race for the exits."
So the question is: Who will be sitting behind that grand mahogany bench at One First Street in a year or two? Quite frankly, it's not nearly as interesting a question when it comes to Republican standard-bearer John McCain, as it is with respect to Democratic newcomer Barack Obama. After all, not only has nominee McCain repeated the conservative refrain that he believes judges should interpret the law rather than legislate from the bench, he has also updated another by saying he would appoint judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
Obama is of a different mind entirely. Indeed, so much so, that an Obama presidency would put voices on the High Court -- not to mention the other numerous federal courts from coast to coast -- that haven't been heard since the days when it was not unusual to see bumper-stickers and billboards demanding "Impeach Warren" -- Chief Justice Earl Warren, that is. While it may be hard for Americans to believe that the "turn the page" presidential candidate actually wants to turn back the clock of Supreme Court decisions to the liberal judicial activism of the 1960s and 70s, take a look at what Obama has said and done on judicial nominations.
Notably, Obama not only voted against the confirmations of both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, but also commented as to why. Specifically, in voting against Chief Justice Roberts, Obama remarked, "what matters on the Supreme Court is those . cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent . and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy." Thus, Obama said he believes, "in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart."
He didn't stop there. He went on to explain just what political, social and economic views should be in every "judge's heart" -- for example, that "affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country," that "a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions," and that "a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are nondisabled." In fact, Obama said he rejected Chief Justice Roberts because, in Obama's "personal estimation," the current Chief Justice had "used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak."
Obama said much the same when addressing Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Obama told that audience that, in "the cases that really count," judges should "look at" what's in their "heart . [w]hat's their broader vision for what America should be." So, according to Obama, "we need" judges who have "got the heart -- the empathy -- to recognize what it' like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old -- and that's the criteria by which I'll be selecting my judges." Based on that view, it is not surprising that Obama told CNN's Wolf Blitzer a month ago that a judge should "bring in his or her own perspectives, his or her ethics, his or her moral bearings" in deciding cases.
All of this is to say, Obama might have been a law professor and might have taught constitutional law, but he sure doesn't believe in the Constitution. After all, neither the Constitution nor any law that we know of says that judges should favor the weak over the strong, the poor over the rich, or the individual over the state.
Sometimes that may mean the prosecutor gets a conviction, other times the defendant should be acquitted. Sometimes that may mean the employer prevails, other times the employee should win. Sometimes that may mean the government gets to regulate, other times the market should be free. The rule of law in America isn't that the underdog should always be given every advantage and every benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, Obama thinks so, which is why he has already proven his presidency would be a constitutional abomination.
Change We Can Believe In Is All Around Us
And no thanks to Obama
Rarely do senators become president, but in less than five months either John McCain or Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States. That's change, and that's interesting. It's also what everyone seems to want - change. Sen. Obama promises to provide "Change We Can Believe In." Sen. McCain suggests that "the choice is between the right change and the wrong change."
If it's the war that is the focus of all this talk about change, well, that's understandable, and maybe people really do want change. But if it's the economy, it's hard to imagine that change could happen any faster. In fact, the U.S. economy (really, the global economy) is transforming at an absolutely astounding rate. We're living in Internet Time, where policies and their consequences travel the world at the speed of light. The normal human reaction to such a rapid pace of change is to be overwhelmed, stressed out, anxious and fearful. As a result, it is probably true that when voters listen to talk about change, what they really hear are promises of "no change," which would be a huge difference from the status quo. They just want things "the way they were."
Look at the chart nearby. America's manufacturing output, as measured by the Federal Reserve, is up seven-fold since 1950, but manufacturing jobs as a share of all jobs have fallen to 10% from 30%. Your grandfather and father may have worked for General Motors (and joined the UAW), but it's likely that you don't and won't. The problem, if it really is one, is not foreign competition or evil financiers. It is technology and productivity. In the 10 years ending in 2007, durable goods manufacturing productivity averaged an annual growth rate of 4.8%. In other words, if real growth is less than 4.8%, the sector needs fewer workers year after year.
For the economy as a whole, overall U.S. business productivity rose 2.7% at an average annual rate during the decade ending in 2007, 1.7% in the decade ending in 1997 and 1.4% in the 10 years through 1987. Change is everywhere, and it's accelerating.
This has happened before - in the Industrial Revolution - where the political environment bred America's first real populists, people like William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt. Bryan was perhaps the best orator of American political history, and like Mr. Obama, he could affect people emotionally. Roosevelt, like Mr. McCain today, was a true American hero and one tough guy. History may not be exactly repetitive, but it sure seems to move to similar rhythms. Unfortunately for the American economy, the populist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to a rapid growth in government intrusion into business activity. The populists didn't like the gold standard and demanded more government regulation.
In 1913, the Federal Reserve System was created and the income tax was introduced to pay for a growing government. And then, during the Great Depression - which was caused by the new Fed, trade protectionism and tax rate increases - a massive expansion in government took place. Forty years later, in the malaise of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. finally figured out what it was doing wrong. By returning to hard money under Paul Volcker, and lower taxes and less regulation under Ronald Reagan, the high-tech leg of the Industrial Revolution began.
The fruits of this are plain to see. Rather than watching the sun set on the U.S., as many believed would happen in the early 1980s, the U.S. has experienced one of the greatest booms in wealth creation in world history. And the impact of our technological innovation has helped lift untold numbers out of poverty.
This technology has created massive amounts of change. Like the Industrial Revolution before it, the current transformation is anything but pain-free. It's what Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction. Google, Craigslist and Microsoft have been prospering. General Motors, United Airlines and the New York Times have not. In the midst of layoffs in the newsroom, it's hard to see anything good happening in the rest of the economy.
Yes, there are serious problems in the housing market, and yes, oil prices are at all-time highs, even after adjusting for inflation. As a result, it feels like things are getting worse rapidly. But the subprime mess will end up costing much less in real terms than the savings-and-loan crisis. Americans are spending about 7% of their total budget on energy, roughly the same as in 1970 and well below the peak of 9% in 1981. Once the Fed starts to lift rates again, oil prices should drop.
Americans have had it so good, for so long, that they seem to have forgotten what government's heavy hand does to living standards and economic growth. But the same technological innovation that is causing all this dislocation and anxiety has also created an information network that is as near to real-time as the world has ever experienced.
For example, President Bush put steel tariffs in place in March 2002. Less than two years later, in December 2003, he rescinded them. This is something most politicians don't do. But because the tariffs caused such a sharp rise in the price of steel, small and mid-size businesses complained loudly. The unintended consequences became visible to most American's very quickly.
Decades ago the feedback mechanism was slow. The unintended consequences of the New Deal took too long to show up in the economy. As a result, by the time the pain was publicized, the connection to misguided government policy could not be made. Today, in the midst of Internet Time, this is no longer a problem. So, despite protestations from staff at the White House, most people understand that food riots in foreign lands and higher prices at U.S. grocery stores are linked to ethanol subsidies in the U.S., which have sent shock waves through the global system.
This is the good news. Policy mistakes will be ferreted out very quickly. As a result, any politician who attempts to change things will be blamed for the unintended consequences right away.
Both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama view the world from a legislative perspective. Like the populists before them, they seem to believe that government can fix problems in the economy. They seem to believe that what the world needs is a change in the way government attacks problems and fixes the anxiety of voters. This command-and-control approach, however, forces a misallocation of resources. And in Internet Time this will become visible in almost real-time, creating real political pain for the new president.
In contrast to what some people seem to believe, having the government take over the health-care system is not change. It's just a culmination of previous moves by government. And the areas with the worst problems today are areas that have the most government interference - education, health care and energy.
The best course of action is to allow a free-market economy to reallocate resources to the place of highest returns. In the midst of all the natural change, the last thing the U.S. economy needs is more government involvement, whether it's called change or not.
Obama slowly walked away
A Christian commentary by Marie Jon
America is entering a brand new era. For the very first time we might elect a black president. God bless America. We have awaited this occasion since the struggling days of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. It is most unfortunate that Senator Barack Obama was the one chosen for the honor, however. The Democrat National Party picked a man who was not sufficiently scrutinized and vetted. The truth is that Obama is not the suitable uniter for our country. In fact, it is quite likely that he will turn America upside down, bringing about divisive racial retrogression.
Do not question why you may be feeling uncomfortable with Obama. He is the epitome of what we've seen through the prism of those with whom he has chosen to associate for over twenty years. If you are a person of faith, God has given you the gift of spiritual intuition. Use it wisely. Everyone has common sense. Obama said he resigned his membership from Trinity United Church in Chicago "with some sadness." He also said he was not going to denounce the church that has caused so much pain and ambivalence for so many, including Democrats.
Some Americans are highly insulted by the church congregation that delights with flagrant jubilance while listening to pastors viciously attack their own country while mocking and insulting other people. Their behavior is not Christ-like. Americans must understand that Black Liberation Theology is not Christianity. It is a perversion of the Gospel of Christ.
Both Michele and Barack Obama took Black Liberation Theology studies before they were allowed membership at Trinity United. Their views were formed long before they ever stepped through the doors of a church whose pastor would further indoctrinate them with his own bigoted, anti-Semitic, anti-America doctrine. Rev. Jeremiah Wright had a politically Marxist agenda shrouded in a false theology. Barack and Michele Obama bought into it because it felt familiar and comfortable to them. They also accepted every political gain that was afforded them by virtue of their association with Wright.
The fact that Obama has left Trinity says that he will do whatever it takes to play out his political hand. Obama has not denounced Black Liberation Theology, and therein lies the real story. He will probably wait until after the election in November before he joins another church that teaches the very same theology being taught at the Trinity United Church of Christ.
The twisted, unscriptural teachings of Rev. James Cone, the founder of Black Liberation Theology is the same man who demands that Jesus Christ become a Marxist. Dr Cone's theology effectively portrays white churches in America as the Antichrist. He would have all white people despised by all of black America. Rev. Cone is a close friend of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Trinity's creed is centered around Cone's teachings, as well as other black liberation "theologians."
It is not unfair to make the assumption that Sen. Obama holds the same beliefs as his religious mentor, Rev. Wright. Obama and his wife remained in Trinity until it was no longer politically expedient. He then left to grab the gold ring on the political carousel. In his book, "Black Power and Black Theology," Rev. Cone states: "What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal." Obama's writings are spiritually linked to the "religious left," who have no difficulty with late-term abortions and agendas that are contrary to biblical teachings.
As president, Obama would be able to revitalize enormous powers and galvanize black churches across the country, effusing them with the poison of Black Liberation Theology. It is possible that if Obama becomes America's first black president, advances in race relations gained through the Civil Rights Movement will become severely damaged.
Listen to your troubled mind. What we've seen throughout the divisive Democrat campaign has indeed been all about race. Reflect upon the words that came from a disrespectful and bigoted man who had the nerve to demand that "God Damn America" and blame the United States for what took place on September 11th, 2001.
Excerpts from National Review; The Gospel According to Barack Obama:
"At this rate, Barack Obama will have repudiated every one of his friends in Chicago by November.
"First, he claimed that as long as he belonged to the church the controversial views of its pastors and guest preachers would be unfairly imputed to him. Perhaps so. But the real question is how Obama could have been a member of the church for 20 years - and accepted the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a personal spiritual mentor - without appreciating the radical 'Black Liberation Theology' that is at the church's heart. Obama's claim to be innocent of Wright's radicalism is not credible.
"...The fact is Obama didn't feel obligated to do his fellow parishioners this courtesy until dumping Trinity became a political imperative for him.
"Obama has slowly walked away from the church as political calculation has dictated. When the first videos of Wright damning America surfaced, Obama compared him to an obnoxious but harmless uncle and gave a widely acclaimed speech in Philadelphia, saying he could no more repudiate Wright than he could repudiate the black community or his own family.
"Now, Obama the presidential candidate - selling the soothing politics of unity and inspiration - has carefully pirouetted away from his former church. But he has yet to give a full, honest accounting of his relationship to Wright and Trinity. The public and the press should demand one."
Obama shares Rev. Jeremiah Wright's views. The dismal excuse that he did not know what was going on at Trinity United Church of Christ, is too much the suspension of disbelief. "It is inconceivable that Obama was not aware of all of this." - Stanley Kurtz
Obama's connections to the radical far left, which also includes a false racist's religious theology, should be rejected by American voters. It will be up to the (Ronald Reagan) Blue Dog Democrats, Independents, and conservative Republicans to make sure that Obama is defeated in November.
Both Michele and Barack Obama took Black Liberation Theology studies before they were allowed membership at Trinity United. Their views were formed long before they ever stepped through the doors of a church whose pastor would further indoctrinate them with his own bigoted, anti-Semitic, anti-America doctrine. Now, Obama the presidential candidate - selling the soothing politics of unity and inspiration - has carefully pirouetted away from his former church. But he has yet to give a full, honest accounting of his relationship to Wright and Trinity. The public and the press should demand one.
(For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)