"We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to John Cartwright, 1824)
Another piece in the puzzle of Barack Obama has been revealed, greatly strengthening the picture of a man groomed by an older generation of radical leftists for insertion into the American political process, trading on good looks, brains, educational pedigree, and the desire of the vast majority of the voting public to right the historical racial wrongs of the land.
The New Party was a radical left organization, established in 1992, to amalgamate far left groups and push the United States into socialism by forcing the Democratic Party to the left. It was an attempt to regroup the forces on the left in a new strategy to take power, burrowing from within. The party only lasted until 1998, when its strategy of "fusion" failed to withstand a Supreme Court ruling. But dissolving the party didn't stop the membership, including Barack Obama, from continuing to move the Democrats leftward with spectacular success.
Erick Erickson, editor of RedState, explained fusion in a Human Events article:
Fusion is a pretty simple concept. A candidate could run as both a Democrat and a New Party member to signal the candidate was, in fact, a left-leaning candidate, or at least not a center-left DLC type candidate. If the candidate -- let's call him Barack Obama -- received only 500 votes in the Democratic Party against another candidate who received 1000 votes, Obama would clearly not be the nominee. But, if Obama also received 600 votes from the New Party, Obama's New Party votes and Democratic votes would be fused. He would be the Democratic nominee with 1100 votes.
The fusion idea set off a number of third parties, but the New Party was probably the most successful. A March 22, 1998 In These Times article by John Nichols showed just how successful. "After six years, the party has built what is arguably the most sophisticated left-leaning political operation the country has seen since the decline of the Farmer-Labor, Progressive and Non-Partisan League groupings of the early part of the century .... In 1996, it helped Chicago's Danny Davis, a New Party member, win a Democratic congressional primary, thereby assuring his election in the majority-black district .... The threat of losing New Party support, or of the New Party running its own candidates against conservative Democrats, would begin a process of forcing the political process to the left, [Joel] Rogers argued."
Fusion, fortunately for the country, died in 1997. William Rehnquist, writing for a 6-3 Supreme Court, found the concept was not a protected constitutional right. It was two years too late to stop Obama.
J. Brown of Politically Drunk on Power has dug up multiple documentary sources (with hyperlinks) proving that Barack Obama was a member of the New Party, despite alleged attempts to cover up his tracks by scrubbing evidence. He or she deserves tremendous praise for doing this detective work.
Obama's career bears many signs of being helped along by the radical left. At the critical moment when he entered electoral politics, he was part of a movement to take over an established political party and direct it to the task of building a socialist America.
Hat tip: Rocco DiPippo
Erick Erickson and Rick Moran were onto the story last June.
More evidence, from the leftist publication New Ground 42, in 1995, before Obama had run for office. (emphasis added)
About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics. There are 300 members in Chicago. In order to build an organizational and financial base the NP is sponsoring house parties. Locally it has been successful both fiscally and in building a grassroots base. Nationwide it has resulted in 1000 people committed to monthly contributions. The NP's political strategy is to support progressive candidates in elections only if they have a concrete chance to "win". This has resulted in a winning ratio of 77 of 110 elections. Candidates must be approved via a NP political committee. Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP. The contract mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP.
The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia's District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama is running for Palmer's vacant seat.
Barack Obama entered electoral politics as a member of a radical marxist group aimed at gaining control of the Democratic Party in order to implement a hardline version of socialism in America. He signed a contract promising to maintain a visible relationship. The candidate should be pressed by McCain/Palin to reveal that contract and proclaim his adherence to New Party goals before the American people approve him for our hifghest office.
True? False? This is what I got; you read and make up your own mind. If you disagree, please post your argument or contact the authors named in the article.
Praise his charisma, his ability to relate, the supposedly debonair figure he cuts in a suit, but realize Obama emerged Tuesday as the anti-JFK with a refrain that should offend young Americans: ask what your government can do for you, not what you can do for your country.
I'm part of this young vote, an age bracket known for waging daily Wars of Independence. And this dearly-bought trait is exactly what Obama wants to rob me of.
Take his tax plan. As a young voter earning a typical starting salary, (which puts me in the 95 percent Obama has decreed "middle class"), I get a tax cut, but at the expense of 5 percent of my fellow workers, who will pick up the slack in the budget.
I know a lot of hard-working Americans -- such as my father -- who fall into that 5 percent. They've worked darn hard to get there, often at the expense of their health. They may live comfortably, but they're not living like Brad Pitt, either. Yet Obama proposes I vote so that I get a tax break which my father will have to pay for. So much for being financially independent. So much for the dreams of my father.
Obama also told me Tuesday night that I had a "right" to health care. There's a reason the Declaration of Independence does not read life, liberty, and the pursuit of health care. Depending on Uncle Sam for health care isn't a declaration of independence -- it's a declaration of dependence. Obama invokes a truly touching story about his mother dying of cancer and having to argue with insurance companies over coverage. But one thing is more certain than death and taxes: increased government oversight always brings more arguing, not less. Any young adult who has stood in line at the DMV to get their driver's license can agree with that.
It's appalling that a candidate who has reached out to young Americans with the lifeline of hope and change wants to foster a culture of dependence, and, even worse, selfishness. Every sacrifice of independence Obama asks me to make is an appeal to this cardinal sin of youth – the government owes me health care, the government owes me a share of the fiscal prosperity others have worked so hard to gain.
Yes, Obama has encouraged us to serve through his brainchild -- a massive, government-sponsored volunteer program. But even this call involves a deeper dependence on government. Since when did people need a government program to give them opportunities to serve? Charity starts with your neighbor. It does not start in Washington.
To my generation: we can do better. We can -- and should -- set a higher standard for ourselves than Obama is asking. He wants the government to hand us our health care, our education, other people's money, even our community service. He wants us to be the generation of soup kitchens -- but with the mentality he's fosters in us, we will be the ones standing in line for the handouts at the end of his term.
McCain and Palin, meanwhile, have encouraged me to shoulder responsibility, work hard, and enjoy the fruits of my labor, not someone else's. My country fought a war for this independence. Which ticket really believes in it?
Miss Meinecke was a member of Hillsdale College's Dow Journalism Program, sports editor and beat reporter for the campus newspaper, and also contributed to Life Times, the newsletter for Southern Indiana Right to Life. She interned at Comcast SportsNet in Washington, D.C. through the National Journalism Center before joining Human Events in August 2008.
I came across this yesterday and began wondering whether this will be be the October surprise. It would certainly change the course of events if a prominent polititican is named as part and parcel of the usual corruption that is associated with the Windy City. Could a Chicago politician be involved in corruption or at the least, shady dealings? Not every politician, I'm sure, and not being familiar with local politics, I wouldn't dream of suggesting any names. I'm just speculating as to why prosecutors are requesting an indefinite delay in sentencing. Perhaps they aren't expecting any particular name to come and are just waiting for whatever is coming. If anything.
Of course, the October Surprise could be ACORN's involvement in voter fraud, throwing a monkeywrench into the election process. Remember how "hanging chads" kept the 2000 election hanging for months? If I were in an election this year, I'd already have a lawyer on retainer to file injunctions and lawsuits in the event I lost the election. ACORN has already stated they cannot guarantee that there is no fraud involved. While I would normally say that a candidate should accept the will of the voters as suggested by the voting process, this is one year I would be very concerned about voter fraud.
If Sarah Palin had made just one of the wildly inaccurate statements smugly uttered by Sen. Joe Biden in last week's vice presidential debate, there would have been 3-inch headlines in newspapers across America. (I can almost hear Katie Couric asking me, "Which newspapers
These weren't insignificant errors, such as when Biden said, "Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time, and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years."
It turns out that Katie's restaurant, where Biden gets his feel for the average American, closed 20 years ago. The only evidence that he spends any time in Home Depot is that it appears that a pipe wrench fell on his head one too many times.
Palin would surely have been forced to withdraw from the ticket had she said something like that, but most of Biden's errors were not trifling mistakes like these. They were lengthy Lyndon LaRouche-like disquisitions that were pure fantasy from beginning to end.
For example, Biden said about Hezbollah: "When we kicked -- along with France -- we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon." Hezbollah was never kicked out of Lebanon.
He continued: "I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't, Hezbollah will control it.'" This is madness -- Lebanon is not a NATO country, nor had any NATO country been attacked by Lebanon.
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of foreign policy.
Biden also stoutly denied that Obama ever said he would sit down with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Liberals find it hilarious that McCain can't use a computer keyboard on account of his war injuries, but Biden is apparently unaware of the Internet, because there are clips all over the Internet of Obama saying exactly that during the CNN/YouTube debate last year.
Biden might have remembered that debate since: (1) He was there, and (2) he later attacked Obama's answer, telling the National Press Club in August 2007: "Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected president? Absolutely, positively, no."
And that's still not all! Obama's own Web site says: "Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions."
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his ability to remember well-known facts.
Biden also gave a long speech at the debate on vice president Dick Cheney's "dangerous" belief that "he's part of the legislative branch." The great constitutional scholar Biden cited Article I of the Constitution as proof that Cheney "works in the executive branch" and has "no authority relative to the Congress." Biden huffily added: "He should understand that. Everyone should understand that."
Palin would have had to deny that Alaska is a state in the union in order to say something comparably stupid.
Article II, not I, describes the executive branch. Someone tell Biden, who is supposed to be a lawyer. Apart from getting the Articles of the Constitution mixed up, what on earth does Biden mean when he says that the vice president "has no authority relative to Congress," apart from breaking ties?
The Constitution makes him president of the senate every day of the week. I realize that Biden may not be able to count to two, but Article I says the vice president is president of one of the two houses of Congress -- the one Biden is in, for crying out loud -- which is what you might call "authority relative to Congress."
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of the Constitution.
In one especially hallucinatory answer, Biden authoritatively stated: "With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen. ... We spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country."
According to the Congressional Research Service, since 9/11, we've spent $172 billion in Afghanistan and $653 billion in Iraq. The most money spent in Iraq came in 2008, when we have been spending less than $3 billion a week. So by Biden's calculations, we've spent only about $9 billion "on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country." There isn't even a "9" in $172 billion.
please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of math
In the same answer, Biden went on to claim that "John McCain voted against a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty that every Republican has supported."
The last nuclear test ban treaty the Senate voted on was the one Clinton signed in the '90s. As The New York Times editorialized on the Senate vote a few years later: "Last week, Senate Republicans thundered 'no' to the nuclear test ban treaty, handing the White House its biggest defeat since health care in 1994." Forty-nine Republicans voted against the treaty; only four liberal Republicans voted for it. That's the treaty Biden says "every Republican has supported."
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his ability to function as vice president.
A recent Republican campaign ad sarcastically described as Barack Obama's "one accomplishment" his supporting a bill to promote sex education in kindergarten.
During an interview of a Republican spokesman, Tom Brokaw of NBC News replayed that ad and asked if that was something serious to be discussed in a presidential election campaign.
It was a variation on an old theme about getting back to "the real issues," just as Brokaw's question was a variation on an increasingly widespread tendency among journalists to become a squad of Obama avengers, instead of reporters.
Does it matter if Barack Obama is for sex education in kindergarten? It matters more than most things that are called "the real issues."
Seemingly unrelated things can give important insights into someone's outlook and character. For example, after the Cold War was over, it came out that one of the things that caught the attention of Soviet leaders early on was President Ronald Reagan's breaking of the air traffic controllers' strike.
Why were the Soviets concerned about a purely domestic American issue like an air traffic controllers' strike? Why was their attention not confined to "the real issues" between the United States and the Soviet Union?
Because one of the biggest and realest of all issues is the outlook and character of the President of the United States.
It would be hard to imagine any of Ronald Reagan's predecessors over the previous several decades-- whether Republicans or Democrats-- who would have broken a nationwide strike instead of caving in to the union's demands.
This told the Soviet leaders what Reagan was made of, even before he got up and walked out of the room during negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev. That too let the Soviet leaders know that they were not dealing with Jimmy Carter any more.
There is no more real issue today than "Who is the real Barack Obama behind the image?" What does being in favor of sex education in kindergarten tell us about the outlook and character of this largely unknown man who has suddenly appeared on the national scene to claim the highest office in the land?
It gives us an insight into the huge gulf between Senator Obama's election year image and what he has actually been for and against over the preceding decades. It also shows the huge gulf between his values and those of most other Americans.
Many Americans would consider sex education for kindergartners to be absurd but there is more to it than that.
What is called "sex education," whether for kindergartners or older children, is not education about biology but indoctrination in values that go against the traditional values that children learn in their families and in their communities.
Obviously, the earlier this indoctrination begins, the better its chances of overriding traditional values. The question is not how urgently children in kindergarten need to be taught about sex but how important it is for indoctrinators to get an early start.
The arrogance of third parties, who take it upon themselves to treat other people's children as a captive audience to brainwash with politically correct notions, while taking no responsibility for the consequences to those children or society, is part of the general vision of the left that pervades our education system.
Sex education for kindergartners is just one of many issues on which Barack Obama has lined up consistently on the side of arrogant elitists of the far left. Senator Obama's words often sound very reasonable and moderate, as well as lofty and inspiring. But everything that he has actually done over the years places him unmistakably with the extreme left elitists.
Sadly, many of those who are enchanted by his rhetoric are unlikely to check out the facts. But nothing is a more real or more important issue than whether what a candidate says is the direct opposite of what he has actually been doing for years.
The old phrase, "a man of high ideals but no principles," is one that applies all too painfully to Barack Obama today. His words expressing lofty ideals may appeal to the gullible but his long history of having no principles makes him a danger of the first magnitude in the White House.
How to win the argument de jour with logic and facts
The issue: 'Financial Crisis'
What the liberal whiners say:
'The last thing we need is another 4 years of the failed Republican policies that have led us to the brink of disaster...with the mess they've made of huge financial institutions like Fannie Mae & AIG, that we now have to bail out!'
'OK, ONE democrat doesn't make this a democrat caused problem!'
'That doesn't explain this incredible mess we're in now'
Your winning, logical, reasoned arguments
1. Fannie Mae really WAS run right into the ground wasn't it? And guess what? It was DEMOCRATS who did it. Former Fannie Mae Chairman and CEO Franklin Raines was the White House budget director under Bill Clinton. He was also cited by the Washington Post as an economic advisor to...Barack Obama. Obama, in his very short time in the U.S. Senate also quickly became the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae, ahead of even John Kerry.
2. Well then, there's Jamie Gorelick. Does that name sound familiar? She served as Bill Clinton's Deputy Attorney General. She installed the Intelligence "Wall of Separation" that helped lead to the disaster we suffered on 9/11. Then she served as Vice Chairman at Fannie Mae. In 2002, she told "BusinessWeek" that Fannie Mae was "very, very strong" and was "managed safely". For her efforts, driving the company to the brink, she received $26 million plus bonuses.
3. Actually, in large part, it does. Fannie Mae is heavily involved with the Congressional Black Caucus. Interim CEO Daniel Mudd described the relationship Fannie Mae and the Congressional Black Caucus shared as a "family" relationship. The Caucus pressured Fannie Mae to get mortgage loans for millions of Americans who couldn't afford them. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the worst offenders in this housing loan crisis, which in turn caused so many banking institutions to go down with it. The crisis has had a domino effect throughout our financial institutions. In fact, AIG was in part brought down because it held $600 million in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, President Bush has called for reforming Fannie and Freddie 17 TIMES this year alone! The democrats' fingerprints are all over this crisis.
For many years the President and his Administration have not only warned of the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at a housing government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) but also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties. President Bush publicly called for GSE reform 17 times in 2008 alone before Congress acted. Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, as the President's repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems.
April: The Administration's FY02 budget declares that the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is "a potential problem," because "financial trouble of a large GSE could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting Federally insured entities and economic activity."
May: The President calls for the disclosure and corporate governance principles contained in his 10-point plan for corporate responsibility to apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (OMB Prompt Letter to OFHEO, 5/29/02)
January: Freddie Mac announces it has to restate financial results for the previous three years.
February: The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) releases a report explaining that "although investors perceive an implicit Federal guarantee of [GSE] obligations," "the government has provided no explicit legal backing for them." As a consequence, unexpected problems at a GSE could immediately spread into financial sectors beyond the housing market. ("Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFHEO," OFHEO Report, 2/4/03)
September: Fannie Mae discloses SEC investigation and acknowledges OFHEO's review found earnings manipulations.
September: Treasury Secretary John Snow testifies before the House Financial Services Committee to recommend that Congress enact "legislation to create a new Federal agency to regulate and supervise the financial activities of our housing-related government sponsored enterprises" and set prudent and appropriate minimum capital adequacy requirements.
October: Fannie Mae discloses $1.2 billion accounting error.
November: Council of the Economic Advisers (CEA) Chairman Greg Mankiw explains that any "legislation to reform GSE regulation should empower the new regulator with sufficient strength and credibility to reduce systemic risk." To reduce the potential for systemic instability, the regulator would have "broad authority to set both risk-based and minimum capital standards" and "receivership powers necessary to wind down the affairs of a troubled GSE." (N. Gregory Mankiw, Remarks At The Conference Of State Bank Supervisors State Banking Summit And Leadership, 11/6/03)
February: The President's FY05 Budget again highlights the risk posed by the explosive growth of the GSEs and their low levels of required capital, and called for creation of a new, world-class regulator: "The Administration has determined that the safety and soundness regulators of the housing GSEs lack sufficient power and stature to meet their responsibilities, and therefore…should be replaced with a new strengthened regulator." (2005 Budget Analytic Perspectives, pg. 83)
February: CEA Chairman Mankiw cautions Congress to "not take [the financial market's] strength for granted." Again, the call from the Administration was to reduce this risk by "ensuring that the housing GSEs are overseen by an effective regulator." (N. Gregory Mankiw, Op-Ed, "Keeping Fannie And Freddie's House In Order," Financial Times, 2/24/04)
June: Deputy Secretary of Treasury Samuel Bodman spotlights the risk posed by the GSEs and called for reform, saying "We do not have a world-class system of supervision of the housing government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), even though the importance of the housing financial system that the GSEs serve demands the best in supervision to ensure the long-term vitality of that system. Therefore, the Administration has called for a new, first class, regulatory supervisor for the three housing GSEs: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banking System." (Samuel Bodman, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Testimony, 6/16/04)
April: Treasury Secretary John Snow repeats his call for GSE reform, saying "Events that have transpired since I testified before this Committee in 2003 reinforce concerns over the systemic risks posed by the GSEs and further highlight the need for real GSE reform to ensure that our housing finance system remains a strong and vibrant source of funding for expanding homeownership opportunities in America… Half-measures will only exacerbate the risks to our financial system." (Secretary John W. Snow, "Testimony Before The U.S. House Financial Services Committee," 4/13/05)
July: Two Bear Stearns hedge funds invested in mortgage securities collapse.
August: President Bush emphatically calls on Congress to pass a reform package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying "first things first when it comes to those two institutions. Congress needs to get them reformed, get them streamlined, get them focused, and then I will consider other options." (President George W. Bush, Press Conference, The White House, 8/9/07)
September: RealtyTrac announces foreclosure filings up 243,000 in August – up 115 percent from the year before.
September: Single-family existing home sales decreases 7.5 percent from the previous month – the lowest level in nine years. Median sale price of existing homes fell six percent from the year before.
December: President Bush again warns Congress of the need to pass legislation reforming GSEs, saying "These institutions provide liquidity in the mortgage market that benefits millions of homeowners, and it is vital they operate safely and operate soundly. So I've called on Congress to pass legislation that strengthens independent regulation of the GSEs – and ensures they focus on their important housing mission. The GSE reform bill passed by the House earlier this year is a good start. But the Senate has not acted. And the United States Senate needs to pass this legislation soon." (President George W. Bush, Discusses Housing, The White House, 12/6/07)
January: Bank of America announces it will buy Countrywide.
January: Citigroup announces mortgage portfolio lost $18.1 billion in value.
February: Assistant Secretary David Nason reiterates the urgency of reforms, says "A new regulatory structure for the housing GSEs is essential if these entities are to continue to perform their public mission successfully." (David Nason, Testimony On Reforming GSE Regulation, Senate Committee On Banking, Housing And Urban Affairs, 2/7/08)
March: Bear Stearns announces it will sell itself to JPMorgan Chase.
March: President Bush calls on Congress to take action and "move forward with reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They need to continue to modernize the FHA, as well as allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to homeowners to refinance their mortgages." (President George W. Bush, Remarks To The Economic Club Of New York, New York, NY, 3/14/08)
April: President Bush urges Congress to pass the much needed legislation and "modernize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. [There are] constructive things Congress can do that will encourage the housing market to correct quickly by … helping people stay in their homes." (President George W. Bush, Meeting With Cabinet, the White House, 4/14/08)
"Americans are concerned about making their mortgage payments and keeping their homes. Yet Congress has failed to pass legislation I have repeatedly requested to modernize the Federal Housing Administration that will help more families stay in their homes, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure they focus on their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance sub-prime loans." (President George W. Bush, Radio Address, 5/3/08)
"[T]he government ought to be helping creditworthy people stay in their homes. And one way we can do that – and Congress is making progress on this – is the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That reform will come with a strong, independent regulator." (President George W. Bush, Meeting With The Secretary Of The Treasury, the White House, 5/19/08)
Congress needs to pass legislation to modernize the Federal Housing Administration, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure they focus on their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance subprime loans." (President George W. Bush, Radio Address, 5/31/08)
June: As foreclosure rates continued to rise in the first quarter, the President once again asks Congress to take the necessary measures to address this challenge, saying "we need to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." (President George W. Bush, Remarks At Swearing In Ceremony For Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, Washington, D.C., 6/6/08)
July: Congress heeds the President's call for action and passes reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as it becomes clear that the institutions are failing. (White House Press Release)
When you interview for a job, here is a hint: make sure you know what the job is. Joe Biden failed that test last Thursday. He couldn’t even get right what a vice president does, but the media didn’t notice.
The media is all over itself about how smart and experienced Biden is. Political analyst Charlie Cook is quoted in the Washington Post on Saturday as saying “Biden is clearly so much more knowledgeable, by a factor of about a million.” Saturday Night Live does a skit about Biden being smart, if slimy. Meanwhile, Governor Sarah Palin is treated as being nothing more than a simpleton.
Yet, take Biden’s statement from the debate on the role of the vice president:
Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.
And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.
The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive, and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.
One should be careful when throwing around terms such as “most dangerous” and “bizarre.” But Biden is confusing which part of the Constitution covers the Executive Branch (it is Article II, not Article I). More importantly, the notion that the vice president can preside over the Senate only when there is a tie vote is simply wrong. Nor is it true that the only legislative involvement the vice president has is to break tie votes. The vice president is the president of the Senate, where he interprets the rules and can only be overridden by a vote of 60 senators.
Early vice presidents spent a lot of time in the Senate. Thomas Jefferson even spent his time writing “A Manual of Parliamentary Practice: for the Use of the Senate of the United States.” Modern vice presidents may show up only when they think tie votes will occur, but that is their choice.
This isn’t rocket science. The Constitution on this point is very straightforward: “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”
Instead, it was Palin who got it right. Besides correctly stating that the vice president holds positions in both the executive and legislative branches, she also noted that:
Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and [I] will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chooses to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.
But just as the vice president’s job includes more than simply being ready to assume the presidency if the president dies, the Constitution merely states what the vice president’s minimum responsibilities are.
Compare the uproar over Palin’s answer to Charlie Gibson about the “Bush Doctrine,” a doctrine that Gibson clearly didn’t understand and for which there apparently exist at least four different versions. Where is the outrage over Biden not understanding what vice presidents do? For Biden, his inability to correctly say what vice presidents do was surely his “gotcha” moment.
Yet, this mistake during the debate was hardly unique. Biden got a lot of things wrong in the debate that are going unnoticed by the fact-check media. Take just a few:
-- Will McCain's health care proposals raise taxes? Biden says that McCain’s proposal will cost people money. The Tax Foundation finds that could easily be "roughly deficit-neutral over ten years."
- Under an Obama Administration the middle class will "pay no more than they did under Ronald Reagan"? No, the tax rates will be similar to the higher rates under Clinton.
-- Did "we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country"? No, one year’s worth of spending in Iraq equaled five in Afghanistan.
-- France and the U.S. "kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon"? No, and it wouldn't have made much more sense if he had said "Syria" instead.
-- Is it really “simply not true” that Obama said that he would meet with the leader of countries such as Iran without preconditions? No, Obama said “I would.”
-- Did Obama warn against letting Hamas participate in Palestinian legislative elections in 2005? No.
-- Do “Iraqis have an $80 billion surplus”? No. If oil prices had remained high, it might have reached $50 billion by the end of this year.
-- Finally, an amusing point as evidence that Biden is just one of the people he pointed to, inviting anyone to have a beer with him at "Katie's Restaurant" in Wilmington, Del. Unfortunately, people will have a hard time taking him up on his offer, since the restaurant hasn't had that name for probably 15 years.
Unfortunately, voters who are trying to get an accurate count on whether the candidates are telling the truth can’t rely on the media. FactCheck.org mentions only one of these points, the size of the Iraqi surplus. The Washington Post mentioned Biden’s misstatement on Hamas and Katie’s restaurant. AOL’s coverage of the errors in the vice presidential debate was by far the worst, though that might not be too surprising given that Tommy Christopher, who wrote their news analysis, also blogs on the Obama Web site. None of these checkers mentioned Biden's statements about the role of the vice president.
Compare this to the attacks on Sarah Palin:
-- FactCheck.org criticizes Palin for claiming that McCain’s health care tax credits will be "budget neutral" – they argue that the tax credit will be larger than the new taxes that the program will impose. Fine, but if the people at FactCheck.org believe that is true and that the Tax Foundation is wrong, Biden’s claim about increased taxes is even more inaccurate. But FactCheck.org doesn't even mention Biden’s statement from the debate.
-- From AOL's news analysis piece. “Palin: Said that it is untrue that the U.S. is killing civilians in Afghanistan. According to an analysis by the AP, however, the U.S. is killing more civilians than insurgents are.”
What Palin actually said was: “Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians.” Whether one believes the AP estimate or not, the question is whether she was accurately characterizing Obama’s statement of the job that our forces were doing. And Obama said, “We’ve got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians” (emphasis added).
-- FactCheck.org’s first critique claims that Palin was wrong to claim that troop levels in Iraq are down to their pre-surge levels. They are correct that after the recently announced drawdown, 6,000 more troops will be in Iraq than immediately before the surge. But why not mention that 84 percent of the 38,000 troops in the surge are home or are in the process of coming home?
The media seems to have been covering for Biden for some time. While news stories still talk about Dan Quayle’s spelling mistake 18 years later, there has been almost no news coverage of Biden’s numerous wacky statements. What if Quayle had said something similar to Biden’s recent statement that, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" A neat trick given that Herbert Hoover was president in 1929 and television was not yet invented.
It might not fit the simple template for a 36-year veteran of the Senate to not understand what vice presidents do (after all, eight vice presidents have served with him), but Biden knew less about this than the political outsider, Sarah Palin. Given that they are running to be vice president, why didn’t that story dominate the news coverage after the debate?
The Argument Against Idiots: Financial Crisis - Part 2
How to win the argument de jour with logic and facts
The issue: 'Financial Crisis - Part 2'
What the liberal whiners say:
'Well, are you happy now? George W Bush and his corrupt cronies have finally done it! With this Fannie Mae thing, it looks like they may have created the biggest financial catastrophe in U.S. history.
'You know that all those companies spread their money around to EVERYBODY. That doesn't mean anything.'
'So you can actually sort of tie ONE former Fannie Mae executive from a LONG time ago, in your evil little effort to SMEAR Barack Obama?'
'You've stooped to new lows here, trying to find ANY remote, Democratic connections to the Fannie Mae scandal, you're despicable!'
Your winning, logical, reasoned arguments
1. OK, the President can't be blamed for this collapse. The way he DEALS with it might be another story, we'll see. But the biggest recipients of Fannie Mae cash are DEMOCRATS...Chris Dodd tops the list, BARACK OBAMA is second, and John Kerry third.
2. Well then, how about Jim Johnson? He's a former Vice-Chairman at Fannie Mae, AND Former managing director of Lehman Bros. It seems BOTH those companies have come into question recently. Barack Obama appointed him to his 3 member Vice Presidential search committee. Unfortunately, Jim had to leave abruptly when it was reported that he had receive sweetheart loans directly from Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide...ANOTHER failed mortgage giant, implicated in the subprime mortgage crisis.
3. No, if you want more, there's also Franklin Raines of course. Much more recent CEO at Fannie Mae, who left the company $90 million richer. According to the Washington Post in April, he was an ECONOMIC advisor to...Barack Obama.
4. Is "family" remote? Because that's what Fannie Mae interim CEO, Daniel Mudd called the Democratic Black Caucus when he addressed them in 2005. He said they were "friends" and "family".
IRS Is Considering Rule That Would Bar Public Employee Retirements Before Age 55
From The Las Vegas Review-Journal, September 22
CARSON CITY, NV – A major change proposed by the IRS for public pension plans, including Nevada's public employee retirement system, could eliminate early retirement pay for government employees in less than two years.
A new regulation the agency is pursuing would prohibit most public pension plans from allowing participants to retire and collect benefits earlier than age 55, with a preferred retirement age of 62. This would cover everyone from teachers to police to city and state workers in Nevada and across the country.
The Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System, for example, allows most participants to retire and receive benefits at any age after 30 years of service. Police and firefighters can retire even earlier.
The IRS regulation, which public pension systems have been fighting since it was first proposed, would end such a practice. The IRS has the ability to implement the rule because public pensions have tax deferral status given to them by the federal agency.
Labor unions and pension officials across the country, including Nevada, are fighting implementation of the rule. They are taking their case to Congress but are not sounding the alarm to their members just yet.
Others are welcoming the proposal as a modest but necessary reform.
A briefing paper on the proposed regulation prepared by officials with the city of Henderson says the impetus for the regulation is that the IRS believes a normal retirement age younger than 55 is not reasonable.
Workers covered under the Social Security program cannot receive full benefits now until they reach the age of 67.
The IRS regulation is set to take effect June 30, 2010, although a large number of national groups, from the Fraternal Order of Police to the National Education Association, asked in April for a delay in its implementation.
The IRS has not responded to the request, according to the Henderson briefing paper dated Aug. 11.
The state retirement system is questioning the new regulation as well.
Tina Leiss, operations officer for Nevada PERS, said the agency is waiting for more direction from the IRS on how this regulation would affect the Nevada retirement system before it reacts to the proposed regulation.
Employees in the state's retirement system are believed to have constitutional rights under the contracts clause to the benefits as they currently exist, she said. Any changes to the benefits for current participants could provoke lawsuits from employees or their associations, Leiss said.
"It's just not clear yet how this would affect any of the public pension plans," Leiss said.
The IRS regulation would apply to public pension plans such as PERS because they are tax qualified plans under the agency's regulations, she said. Such a designation provides tax benefits to participants who might otherwise have to pay taxes on their retirement contributions, Leiss said.
Dave Kallas, an official with the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, said he is fielding a number of calls from concerned police officers about the rule but suggested there is no immediate cause for alarm.
Public pension officials and other stakeholders are working with the IRS to come to an agreement on the issue, which was never intended to apply to public pensions in the first place, the union official said.
Kallas said it is his understanding that the legislation that prompted the IRS rule, a pension reform bill sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, was aimed at private pensions and not intended to apply to public pension plans.
"I'm not worrying about this issue quite yet," Kallas said. "We have to wait and see what transpires over the next few months."
Public awareness of the potential IRS change to the nation's public pension systems has come at the same time as calls for reforms to the plans.
A study released earlier this month by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce concludes that the government support of the public retirement system has become a drain on state and local government resources, leading to the underfunding of important programs such as education and transportation.
Hugh Anderson, vice president of the ABD&F Group at Merrill Lynch in Las Vegas and chairman of the chamber's government affairs committee, said the proposed IRS change is the right move.
A retirement age should better reflect today's demographic reality that people are living much longer, he said.
It is conceivable that a public employee could retire at age 55 with 30 years of service under today's rules and end up receiving retirement benefits for longer than the years worked, Anderson said.
"This whole demographic shift is here," he said. "It is no longer in the future. The baby boom generation is here and they are living a long time."
Withdrawals from personal retirement accounts are not permitted before age 59.5, so why should public employees be immediately entitled to retirement benefits at age 50 or 55, Anderson asked.
While there might be legitimate reasons why public pension rules should not be changed for those approaching retirement, ignoring the longevity issue puts the long-term viability of the public pensions at risk, he said.
A decision by the IRS to move forward could take the politically difficult decision out of the hands of elected officials, some of whom may be reluctant to implement such a reform, he said.
The development of the IRS regulation began about three years ago following passage of the pension reform legislation in Congress.
Those opposed to the new regulation are seeking help from Congress, circulating letters in both the House and Senate to get the IRS to hold off on the change.
Letters are also being sent to the Treasury secretary and the head of IRS suggesting the IRS overstepped its bounds and indicating that Congress never intended to give the agency such authority.
The Henderson memo states a public pension plan would completely comply with IRS regulations if the retirement age is set at 62.
But if a plan wants participants to receive benefits before they reach age 62, and no earlier than age 55, the plan administrator must prove to the IRS that such an age range is reasonably representative of the industry in which the covered workforce is employed.
A delay is being sought in the regulations in part because of concerns about the rights of those participating in the pension plans.
The memo states that when the Nevada Legislature made changes to the retirement system in 1989, a lawsuit arose and the state lost. The finding was that once an employee joins the PERS system, a contract is established and benefit levels, such as retirement after 30 years, cannot be taken away.
With the potential effective date of the IRS regulation nearly two years away, those now in public pension plans will have the opportunity to determine whether to pursue retirement to avoid the mandatory retirement age policy.
PERS has a $6.3 billion unfunded liability and $22 billion in assets. Nearly 104,000 state and local government workers and teachers and school staffers are PERS members.
An additional 37,000 retired workers are receiving benefits.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900. proposed, would end such a practice.
Interesting. This could effect my retirement plans if the IRS does implement this policy.
I am under the Florida Retirement System, which is a qualified retirement plan. Anyone who is vested (six years of service) can retire. However, you lose 5% of your benefit for each year that falls short of the full retirement qualification. The longer you stay employed with an FRS provider (county, state, some cities and some municipalities, but no private providers) the more benefit you accrue over your career. "Normal" retirement is considered to be age 62, but there is no requirement to retire at that time or any time in Florida. Thanks to either George Smathers or George Pepper, former state senators, I can't remember which right now.
Under the FRS, we have a provision under which we can retire "early", that is, before age 62. Anyone who has 30 years service in the FRS can retire with full benefits at any age. Certified employees (police, sheriff's deputies, and probably firefighters - I haven't had reason to look at their qualifications) can retire after 25 years service at any age.
FRS has a program called the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP). It allows an employee who has 25 or 30 service years to enter the DROP. We have the option to defer entering the DROP program until age 57. I had to educate a friend in Human Relations that per FRS rules, I had until age 57. She had just told me that since I met the 30 year requirement last year, I now had only four possible years in the DROP. Wrongo, Mary Lou, as my late husband would say (why he said "Mary Lou, I have no idea, it's not my name). My friend (also not named Mary Lou), checked with FRS and found I was right, I had until age 57 to enter the DROP. My friend was right about one thing. If I wait until after age 57 to enter the DROP, I will lose a year for each year I defer. Why anyone would defer, I have no idea. It makes far too much sense to participate than to not. But that's just my opinion.
The DROP program allows us to continue working at our jobs for up to five years. Teachers can work for six years. What happens when we enter the DROP is that we effectively retire, but we don't get our pensions for the time we are in the DROP. We continue to receive our paychecks and all benefits that we would if we had not entered the DROP. The only difference is that the FRS puts our pensions into a separate account where it begins to accumulate interest, and once a year, we get a COLA raise. When we finally retire, we start getting our checks, and we get the funds that have accumulated.
I checked into the FRS and was able to do some calculations that indicated that at my current pension projection, I will have over $197,000 in my pension if I were to remain in the DROP for five years. That's a nice little nest egg to look forward to.
I realized early on, the DROP is a good idea for the employee, especially if they wait until age 57. At that time, the employee gets the maximum they will get from their pension, unless they choose not to enter the DROP. I also realized that if you enter the DROP at age 57 and do the five years, you will retire at age 62, which is the "normal" retirement age. The employee is eligible to begin receiving (reduced) Social Security benefits as well as their pension. If they are so willing, they can defer taking the SS benefits until they reach the retirement age that is designated by SS for full benefits. In my case, age 67.
If I elect to enter the DROP at age 57 (and that is my intention), then retire age 62, I can then take another job for five years until I can get full SS benefits. Or continue working until age 72 and get even more SS benefits. I found that on the SSA.gov website.
Under the DROP program offered by FRS, I will continue working until age 62. I recently checked with our Human Relations office and was told that if I go into the DROP, nothing will change, except on the FRS end. I did read our General Orders and found that should I enter the DROP, and at some point prior to the end of the five years change my mind, the agency will not accept my decision to drop out of the DROP. I have two options: to continue in the DROP until the end of the five years, or to terminate the DROP and leave my job. If I terminate, I will get any moneys that have accumulated and my pension, but my job will end. Under FRS rules, I could go to work for another FRS provider and then continue the DROP.
So, it seems that the IRS policy may be an effort to keep employees from retiring early. I'm guessing so that they will continue to have payroll taxes withdrawn so that the government will have that much more money available to pay for the programs in effect, future programs, and the bailout(s) our government got us into. Retirees do pay taxes, but on a much reduced level than they did as working employees.
It doesn't appear that this IRS plan will effect my plans as if I retire at age 57 and complete five years in the DROP, I will retire at age 62, which falls within the IRS policy change.
Does this policy change mean that the IRS wants FRS to eliminate any kind of "early" retirement? Or does it mean that FRS will have to change it's DROP age to 62 instead of 57? And then work another five years? Will it be better to enter the DROP before the policy goes into effect?
On second look, it doesn't look like it will affect me, as I plan to "retire" for FRS purposes at age 57. This rule appears to affect only those who go to work in the public sector prior to age 25 (for 30 years of service) or age 30 (for 25 years of service). A lot of people start working for government agencies before age 30, much less age 25. It can effect a lot more people down the road than it will affect those of us approaching retirement. Of course, with the economy the way it is, and as bad as it has the potential to become, a lot of people will defer retirement anyway simply because they will not be able to afford to live on their pension.
I guess we'll have to wait and see what the IRS will do. Will the IRS apply this only to private pensions as it was meant? Or will the interpretation that seems to be made to include public sector pensions?
The Big Lie: “We will not Christmas-tree this bill. The times are too urgent. Everyone has their own desires and needs. It’s going to have to wait.” —Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) before the bailout bill was larded up to 451 pages
(Say what you want about Paulson, and you might just be right, his original bill was three pages)
Off the deep end: “[Republicans] get to take things out on poor people. Let’s be honest: The fact that some of the poor people are black doesn’t hurt them either, from their standpoint. This is an effort, I believe, to appeal to a kind of anger in people.” —Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
Gee, I wonder why the poor are angry. Could it be that they know deep down inside that the Democrats want to give them everything, not because they are poor, but because they will vote? That the Republicans believe that everyone has the right to know how to fish instead of expecting someone to give them the fish?
Revising history: “We kicked—along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.” —Joe Biden in Thursday’s vice-presidential debate **“Biden said the strangest and most ill-informed thing I have ever heard about Lebanon in my life. Nobody has ever kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Not the United States. Not France. Not Israel. And not the Lebanese. Nobody. Joe Biden has literally no idea what he is talking about.” —Michael Totten
Biden also thinks that FDR went on TV in 1929 to talk to the masses about the Depression.
Take your own advice: “The truth matters.” —Joe Biden
Biden must be writing for Saturday Night Live these days.