Archive for Thu, Sep 24, 2009

“Mr. Obama made a classic mistake of politicians on a downward-bending arc. He jumps out in front of the cameras without having something fresh to offer.”

Karl Rove deconstructs the plummeting appeal of President Obama, and the inability of face time on TV to turn it around. Conclusion:

Mr. Obama doesn’t need more TV time. He needs a new health-care plan that comes from actual bipartisan negotiation and compromise—one that most Americans see as something that will actually improve their health care. He needs his facts to align with reality.

The Murder of Bill Sparkman, and Its Aftermath

When I reported on the brutal murder of a census worker in Kentucky on yesterday’s show, I knew then it would lead not just to an urgent hunt for his killer(s), but also the sort of crazy talk that now regularly attends any crime of violence that provides the nutters at both extreme ends of the political spectrum an excuse to engage in their rants.

Read the comments at the Washington Post column on the murder. The very first comment is typical of what will flow out of the far left today:

First shot fired in the Huckabee civil war incited by Limbaugh hate radio, Mormon Elder Beck and RNC Fox News. These get-rich-by-scaring-and-angering-the-weak-minded sneering shock jocks have the blood of this man on their hands.

Posted by: coloradodog | September 24, 2009 7:05 AM

There is no concern for Mr. Sparkman here, and zero facts on which to make the blood libel. I am surprised the Post allows such ravings, but they do illustrate the derangement that runs through the virtual world. Last week Speaker Pelosi used a very similar argument absent the case-specific venom instead of speaking into her own following as conservatives routinely do about the necessity of reasoned argument –sharp, pointed, and sustained– not the need to silence the opposition

Is President Obama Leading Congressional Democrats Over A Political Cliff

Yesterday’s U.N. speech was an appalling exercise in appeasement and the most critical speech of Israel ever delivered by a sitting United States president to an international body. Rich Lowry noted correctly that “President Obama yesterday did his best impression of a high-school soph omore participating in his first Model UN meeting, retailing pious clich?s he learned from his pony-tailed social studies teacher.” It will long be remembered as perhaps the worst display of American weakness on the U.N. stage.

As that fiasco unfolded, Senate Democrats were struggling to disguise the all-out assault on seniors and the middle class that Obamacare has become. The president’s popularity has been falling again, and Democrats in Congress got stunning news on the generic ballot question.

Which all adds up to the conclusion in Michael Barone’s Washington Examiner column this morning –the Democrats are asking America to kick them back into the minority. Michael doesn’t call that result “likely” at this point, just a growing possibility. As the hard left character of the president’s foreign and domestic policy initiatives unfolds and as the scandals continue to pile up –NEA and ACORN are just the early entries on that ledger– the Obama Administration is looking more and more like a weaker, farther left version of the Carter years.

October will bring new reporting results from various campaign funds which will also tell us a lot.

Has Danny Tarkanian raised enough in small contributions to turn heads in his race against Harry Reid in Nevada. (You can send “Ten for Tark” via this link.)

Has my friend Tom Lucero added a bunch of small donors to his effort to unseat Democrat Betsy Markey in Colorado’s 4rth, and you can join them via this link. Markey infamously warned seniors they’d just have to get used to Medicare cuts, but when I was in Colorado it seemed to me that seniors were getting used to the idea of dumping Betsy Markey and replacing her with Tom Lucero instead.

And, crucially, how are the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee doing in their effort to raise the funds necessary to press the Obama Machine across the country? You can conribute to the NRCC.org here and the NRSC.org here.

If you have $40 to invest in the future of politics in the country, I suggest you send $10 or more to each of those four campaigns today so that the dollars count in the month-end reporting.

If the president abandons his deeply unpopular attempt to “remake” American medicine and if he reverses course and begins to pu pressure on Iran and not on Israel, he could quickly limit the damage these past nine months have done to his “hope and change” halo.

But if doubles down, we have reason to hope that the change will be in the Speaker’s chair in early 2011.

“Obama’s U.N. Speech, Dissected”

Pete Wehner slices and dices the president’s deeply disturbing speech to the U.N.

The worst of many awful parts of the speech is that the president engages in Israel-bashing before a group that includes many of the worst sort of thugs and dictators. President Obama missed the opportunity to remind the world that Israel has an absolute right to exist, and that no serious negotiation can begin until that right is recognized by all the powers in the Palestinian territories. The president’s slam on the legitimacy of Israeli settlements is a red herring, and everyone knows it. The obstacle to peace is Hamas and every other extremist who wants Israel destroyed, not construction within previously established lines of construction.

The second worst part of the speech was the studied refusal bluntly to name Iran as an oppressor of its own people and an exporter of terror and breaker of international rules. Part of the essence of appeasement is the refusal by free states to speak bluntly about their fascist counterparts. The president’s meaningless rhetoric about “certain truths which are self-evident” must be a very bitter pill for the dissidents of iran in prison, and their families and friends, who were looking for a statement of solidarity, not an invitation for the fanatics to continue their repression under the guise of each country pursuing “a path rooted in the culture of its people and its past traditions.”

What an embarrassment, but also how predictable given the president’s long standing hostility to Israel and his reflexive desire to not offend our enemies.

The Latest From “Banker Guy”

wo of the contributors to HH.com are “Bear in the Woods” and “Banker Guy,” an anonymous senior ad exec and banker, respectively. Banker Guy has surfaced and his latest is below. I think Bear has been treed.

Hugh,

It’s been a long time since I have written, but there has been so many more important issues – Afghanistan, Cap and trade, and Obamacare. Running a bank remains a real challenge in this economy. While the headlines have gone away the problem loans remain. Individuals, small businesses, and commercial real estate are all fighting hard to keep current on their loans. On top of that the regulators are being extremely tough. They dread the hindsight of the Inspector General and so requiring more and more capital and slapping formal agreements on banks, which make it difficult for the bank to raise capital and deposits.

The primary purpose for writing is to raise alarms about the administrations efforts to enact the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) (H.R. 3126). This is another effort by Obama to take control of a significant portion of the economy. This bill not only covers banks but also tax preparers, credit card companies, title insurers, mortgage companies, financial advisors, data processors of financial information, credit bureaus, and any other activity that the agency defines as a financial activity to be covered by the act!

This effort to take control of financial companies is the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor. Currently, the professor is the head of the Congressional Oversight Committee. She is modeling the act after the Consumer Products Safety Commission because, “(t)his crisis started with the cheating of American families, and [solving it] has to begin there, too.” We all know how that commission had made products better! Professor Warren is being assisted in her effort by Heather Booth and Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of groups including ACORN, SEIU, MoveOn.org, and many others invested in Community Investment Act activities.

If enacted, the CFPA would severely harm financial providers and consumers. The agency would be controlled by five appointees, one of whom is head of the national bank regulator. There is no real check or balance on the others (Warren is likely to be the Chairman). The agency would have sole authority to make and interpret regulations under existing consumer finance and fair lending laws. The agency would have broad examination and information gather authority. The CFPA would ban mandatory arbitration clauses.

The proposed agency would have the authority to define standard products and services (“plain vanilla”). The agency could require companies to offer these products and if they offer alternative products they could be subject to enhanced scrutiny. (The agency has very broad enforcement powers.) Further, the agency can dictate disclosure and marketing practices, in effect have broad authority over consumer advertising by the financial services industry.

It gets even worse. The law opens up financial services companies to litigation by every state attorney general and the tort bar.

This is an effort to do to financial service what they want to do to the healthcare. Through a panel of five people, they want to control financial services, determine what services are to be provided, how those services are to be delivered, and at a cost they determine. None of this has anything to do with the causes of the financial crisis of 2008, but rather it is the use of a crisis to take control of another large chunk of the economy.

Barney Frank’s committee begins hearings on the bill today. I’ll try to keep you posted.

You can contact me at BankerGuy2009@gmail.com

The Afghanistan Decision: Lyndon Baines Obama?

The New York Times details how the president is being pressed by Joe Biden to reject General McChrystal’s recommendation and embark on a significantly slimmed down mission in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.

The idea of rejecting the proposals of the new commander on the ground less than six months after his appointment is bad enough, but to do so because Slow Joe Biden has a bright idea is truly terrible.

The president’s domestic agenda is in a shambles and his ratings are plummeting to near record levels for a modern president in his first year in office. His global warming hysteria of yesterday adds to the idea of a rookie being handed unvetted speeches –like the one in Congress with the man who died from denial of treatment, except he didn’t– and rushing off to his next media event.

Thousands of Americans died because of the Taliban’s partnership with al Qaeda, a partnership that endures. Hundreds more have died pushing the Taliban-al Qaeda alliance deep into the remote mountains of the region. General McChrystal’s report asserts that with the right forces, stability can be achieved, and within an acceptable number of years.

The choice facing President Obama is a defeat and vulnerability to more terror plots and a second mission back when one occurs, or the acceptance of the commanding general’s recommendations. This isn’t hard. The fact that Joe Biden is on the other side makes it even easier to tell Secretary Gates to proceed with the McChyrstal plan.

Appeasing Iran

Are the Iranian fanatics impressed with a Letterman appearance?

While the president was chatting with Dave about various small and very small matters, Ahmadinejad was sounding increasingly, well, crazy.

Days after again denying that the Holocaust occurred, Iran’s president declared that “Our armed forces are ready to confront the forces of darkness. If anybody wants to shoot a bullet at us from anywhere, we will cut off his hands.”

Iran’s front man fanatic isn’t getting invited to Columbia University during this trip to the U.N. In fact, one venue canceled an entire dinner when it learned that Ahmadinejad was to be the guest of honor. Well done, Gotham City.

But he will still get get an American audience for his rantings at the U.N., and his government is getting by in its massive and deadly crackdown on dissidents with hardly a word from the big names in the Obama Administration.

Israel is boycotting Ahmadinejad’s speech tomorrow, and if the U.S. had a lick of sense, it would do so as well. The Iranian regime is a menace to the world of course, but its brutal crackdown on the forces of democracy within the country should remove the hesitation of our government to publicly brand the mullahs in power as illegitimate brutes. A million people marched for freedom in Iran last Friday, and the regime is increasingly desperate and cornered, but the U.S. continues to attempt to engage the mullahs in a “we are the world” exercise designed to burnish President Obama’s rapidly diminishing foreign policy credentials.

“We will make clear that if they are serious, we need to have more substantive engagement,” Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg told the Washington Post. “This may be the beginning of something — or it may not.”

This is the language of appeasement, and against the backdrop of the massive demonstrations rocking Tehran the display of cringing weakness by the United States is appalling. (Andrew Sullivan has a reader e-mail that underscores the significance of the demonstration.)

Yesterday Iran joined Russia’s Putin in applauding the U.S. decision to throw Poland the Czech Republic under the wheels of the Obama bus, another sign that Tehran has taken the measure of the new team leading U.S. foreign policy and found that there’s nothing to worry about.

Israel, yes. It’s own people, yes. But the United States? Not a problem.

“Through their popular uprising, the Iranian people have mounted the most serious challenge to the Islamic Republic in its 30-year history,”writes John Hannah, former national security advisor to Vice President Cheney, in the Weekly Standard. “The regime is frightened and confused, on the defensive, never closer to unraveling. The United States should do nothing that needlessly risks relieving that pressure and giving comfort to Iran’s rulers. At a minimum, speaking up loudly about human rights will increase U.S. leverage in any forthcoming negotiation. At maximum, it could help sustain a movement whose ultimate success in toppling Iran’s anti-American theocracy holds out the best hope of ending the nuclear crisis short of war.”

The president is making noises about abandoning Afghanistan even as he spends hours trying to resurrect a disastrous health care policy fiasco. His approval ratings are plummeting to near first-year Clinton levels, and he has so overplayed his media cards that he may be down to the county fair circuit soon.

What the president should be is focused and firm on the four big three issues of his presidency: Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq abroad, and domestic security at home. (The outlines of the latest plot that are emerging should refocus not just the president but the country on the fact that the radical jihadists didn’t get their motivation from President Bush.)

President Obama’s speech to the U.N. offers him a chance to reset his foreign policy to “serious” and to warn the mullahs that he will not cooperate in their attempts to shore up their regime. If he speaks to the Iranians seeking freedom, he will have earned a great deal of bipartisan respect.

But if he glides over the Iranian regime’s thuggishness and its evil ambitions vis-a-vis Israel and the world, he’ll have branded his foreign policy as appeasement’s second act.

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