Linda Ketner, A Different Kind of Democrat? Part I

Being a resident of South Carolina’s First Congressional District, I am curious whether Linda Ketner is actually a different kind of Democrat. Is she actually going to bring change or is she just going to be another rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank?

So, I decided to start out by reading her biography which she seems to be so proud of. I can see why she is running on the Democratic ticket.

Much of her efforts seem to be related to housing issues which on a national scale are the basis of our current financial crisis. Anyone who has missed the fact that the disintegration of the housing market was caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operating in an essentially unregulated manner, falsifying their accounting books to provide their senior management with increased bonuses and either encouraging or coercing lending institutions to write risky home loans and then being the agents to pass these high risk loans into the investment sector which in turn caused numerous commercial and investment banks to fail when the portfolios put together by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were deemed to be either worthless or of an indeterminate value …, well, anyone who has missed that has been either in suspended animation, hibernating or lost in space for the past 11 months.

To quote Ms. Ketner’s bio, Biography | Linda Ketner For Congress, “Linda formed South Carolina Citizens for Housing in 1991… . Some of Linda’s leadership positions include: Chair of the Mayor’s Council On Homelessness and Affordable Housing, Chair of the S.C. Housing Trust Fund, Founder of South Carolina Citizens For Housing, Founder of Charleston Affordable Housing and South Carolina Equality Coalition.”

Ms. Ketner’s efforts, since 1991, have been right in line with the major Democratic supporters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. My question is,  “Was she competing with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … or colluding with them?” Also, have her efforts had anything to do with ACORN, an organization some consider a radical left wing operation which, among other things deals with housing issues a as well as other activities like its union affiliates and voter registration efforts which have led to a number of its operatives receiving felony convictions for voter fraud?

It seems that Ms. Ketner, like all of the rest of the Democrats, wants to blame the Republicans for deregulating Wall Street and, in some delusional, mystical or magical way, to try to insinuate that all of the current financial crisis is not related to corruption and fraud in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Democrats’ efforts to block increased  or basically any regulation of those two out of control institutions but to some undefined deregulation on Wall Street which has nothing to do with what happened at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In fact, early in his first administration, even President Clinton tried to reign in these two corrupt giants but was blocked by his own party.  Did you just see Ms. Ketner pull a quarter out of your ear?

The Republicans contribution to this entire mess was the failure of SEC chairman Chris Cox, a Bush appointee, to adequately oversee the functions of the SEC which basically ignored what was going on even though it knew about it as reported in a recent Inspector General’s report and, then Chairman Cox failed to exercise a power he had to change the “mark to market rule”. He was finally reminded of this authority last week by the Senate and has subsequently acted … after 11 months … hopefully not too late.

To the contrary, President Bush, since 2001, has been trying unsuccessfully to increase the regulation on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and has been opposed and obstructed every step of the way by such prominent Democrats as Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer. President Bush sent Treasury Secretary John Snow to Congress with warnings about irregular accounting practices and increasing risks of continuing the high risk policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He sent Alan Greenspan who warned of the potential of a financial crisis if the practices of Fannie Mae and Freddi mac continued to go unchecked. They were ridiculed by Democrats like Barnie Franks, Maxine Waters and Chris Dodd. John McCain warned of a pending financial crisis two years ago as the Republicans tried to get a bill passed to increase regulation on these two entities which was voted down by the Democrats.

Think about it? If there were Republicans actually responsible for this crisis, don’t you think there would be several hundred special investigations going on right now with the current Democratic majority And, with the Democrats maintaining a majority in Congress, do you think that there is going to be any sort of investigation or commission to study the crisis? Barack Obama has already said that notion, an investigation or commission, which has been suggested by John McCain was “ridiculous”.  I imagine he does think the idea of investigating the cause of the current financial crisis is ridiculous. What could John McCain be thinking? No sane Democrat would want that.

Now everyone will argue that the Republicans have controlled Congress for six of the past eight years. Actually, some will argue that the Republicans have controlled Congress for the past eight years. I’ve actually heard that one frequently. Based on that, I understand why the Democrats think they can win. There’s nothing like appealing to and feeding on people’s ignorance. Ms. Ketner knows that it takes a majority of 60 in the Senate to override the possibility of a filibuster. The Republicans have never had more than 55 members in the Senate in the past eight years … or past twelve years.  The Democrats last had that kind of majority in the 1960’s. Without a majority of 60, the minority party can, in effect, veto any bill it doesn’t want passed. That’s why the Democrats are trying real hard to get 60 Senate seats. Simple majority rules in the House … not so in the Senate. The Founding Fathers were very smart … although many Democrats would resentfully disagree.

But, somehow, the Republicans are responsible for the current meltdown of the housing markets and the resultant financial crisis. Even though you can hear and see the words coming from the Democratic Congressmens’ and Senators’ mouths on video tapes of the events, the Democrats …. like Ms. Ketner … are in complete denial of the obvious truth. President Bush can justifiably be held responsible for a lot of things … but this isn’t one of them. The evidence is in plain view for anyone to see.

Now, all of these things that Linda Ketner has done, … well, they’re very admirable. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get people affordable housing and trying to help people own homes … unless and until it starts hurting other people. Can anyone deny that the current financial crisis has the capability of hurting a lot of people.

Now … I don’t know if the things that Linda Ketner has been doing for the past 17 years has anything to do with the meltdown of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but … it all sounds an awful lot like a lot of what many of the rest of the Democrats like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Chuck Schumer have been up to for a long time.

So, my question is, “How much have Linda Ketner’s efforts been tied to risky loans handled through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which are the cause of the meltdown of the housing market?

I’d like her to answer that.

No. I’d like someone else to look into that … some entity that doesn’t have a vested interest in winning a political campaign. It’s not that I don’t trust you Ms. Ketner. But, in my opinion, you have a knack for either stretching the truth or completely ignoring it and you haven’t been completely candid in your assessment of what and who has been wrong for the past seven or eight years. If you do consider yourself candid, then I question your ability to accurately assess a financial situation … or anything else.

More Susan Rice Political Rantings

Susan Rice in her typical political posturing, acting more like the proverbial attack dog rather than a foreign policy advisor, again attacked the Bush administration for not negotiating with Iran and not applying tougher sanctions during an interview with Sheppard Smith on Fox News.

Ms. Rice stated that the United States should use more diplomatic means to encourage our European allies to assist with tougher sanctions. She also stated the President Bush finally followed Barack Obama’s recommendations to begin diplomacy with Iran by sending a diplomat to sit in on European talks with Iran in Switzerland a short time ago.

What Ms. Rice failed to explain was how the United States was going to influence Russia and China not to provide support to Iran. She also failed to mention how we were going to influence North Korea in the same way. She also failed to mention the recent increase in sanctions on Iran which had already been planned. I suppose that was also at Senator Obama’s suggestion.

While pointing out that the Iranians have been advancing their nuclear program for the past eight years during the Bush administration, she failed to point out that North Korea did the same thing to the Clinton administration under which she also served as a foreign policy advisor.

While criticizing the McCain campaign for attacking Obama in reference to Obama referring to Iran as a small and insignificant nation stating that Obama has always considered Iran a serious threat, she failed to mention that Obama only “clarified” his position on Iran after his statements about Iran were criticized.

She further made the often repeated complaint that the Democratic candidate’s remarks were “taken out of context” which seems to be the standard response to each of his frequent faux pas which repeatedly point to his lack of experience or inability to completely grasp the significance of world conditions until someone with more experience points out his deficiencies.

Apparently, Susan Rice hasn’t learned from her previous experience while serving the Clinton administration since her approach to rogue nations has been unchanged in more than 15 years.

It makes me wonder how much Senator Obama, if he becomes President Obama, will rely on advice from people like Susan Rice who can’t even learn from their previous mistakes.

Has anyone else noticed how Senator Obama’s “clarifications” of his positions or statements actually sound more like changes in policies and positions?

And, is anyone besides me getting tired of the Democrats using the nearly worn out phrase, “out of context” as a lame excuse for ignorance and inexperience?

Also, has anyone else noticed how Barack Obama or one of his cronies claim credit for his influencing any positive or potentially positive event that occurs?

I suppose if “Gustav” misses New Orleans or any other major Gulf coast city, we will have to give Barack Obama credit for providing divine intervention … and Susan Rice for recommending the action.

The Kicked Dog Hollers

President Bush stated that it was foolish and dangerous for people to think that they can negotiate with terrorists and should remember that appeasement doesn’t work.

Barack Obama was the first … and only … person to cry foul. It must have struck a nerve.

President Bush’s comments most probably were directed at Jimmy Carter. Frankly, it’s amazing how much he reminds me of Neville Chamberlain.

But …

Barack Obama cries foul. Maybe he was planning some things that he just hasn’t informed the American public about.

Is it possible that Robert Malley as one of George Soros’ surrogates in the Obama Campaign was a sacrificial lamb to hide the truth?

Since Obama went to meet with Soros before he declared his candidacy for president, maybe everyone should look at Soros’ world vision to see what an Obama presidency will be like. I wonder if George has already reserved his dates for the Lincoln bedroom … or maybe all of the dates. That way, he won’t have far to go to prop his feet up on the desk in the oval office.

Should Tax Incentives for Oil Companies be Stopped?

While watching CNBC this morning, I heard a banker say that tax incentives for oil companies be stopped and/or shifted to energy industries such as wind and solar which would make us less dependent on oil. It may make long term sense. I would definitely agree that there should be incentives for wind and solar developers and would ask, “If incentives for wind and solar developers don’t already exist, why not?”

I would assume that tax incentives for oil companies exist to encourage them to find and drill for oil and gas in domestic locations. Why give incentives to oil companies to search for oil in Brazil, the Persian Gulf or Indonesia?

Unfortunately, neither giving incentives to wind and solar developers nor rescinding oil companies are going to do anything for the American consumer in the short term.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain want to remove the gasoline tax for this summer to help reduce the impact of rising gasoline prices. The Democratic leadership in Congress, falling in line with Barack Obama calling this political gimmickry, is not even lukewarm to this recommendation so it probably wouldn’t help. Barack Obama is calling for an additional $1000 rebate on taxes this summer which he says will have a greater impact for families. I haven’t deciphered exactly who will get the $1000 rebate but would imagine it would benefit those whom Barack Obama feels he most needs to win the election, i.e., more political gimmickry.

Unfortunately, the action most likely to drive down crude oil prices for the short term, opening domestic offshore areas immediately to exploration and drilling … and I’m not talking about ANWAR …, just won’t happen.

So, we’re stuck with astronomical crude prices which are being trailed by rising gasoline prices. Barring crude prices rising above $120 a barrel, currently trading around $119 a barrel this morning, gasoline and diesel prices will peak in late June or early July. Gasoline prices have typically trailed about two months behind crude oil prices.

The ripple effect of the financial crisis that many have been concerned about will be nothing compared to the ripple effect of the rise of crude oil from $90 a barrel to $120 a barrel in the past three months … a 33% rise and the doubling, 100% increase, in the price of crude oil from last summer. That’s right. The price of crude oil has doubled since last summer … and Congress has slept.

Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will blame it on President Bush … who frankly hasn’t shown much if any leadership in this area … but neither have they. And, they do control the Congress, don’t they?

I remember the Arab OIl Embargo of 1973 when the price of crude oil went up 50% overnight. Now, it’s doubled in less than a year and everyone is sleeping. So much for leadership.

Boycott the Olympics?

Senator Clinton has called for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies at the Olympics this year in Beijing. I’m listening to her speak about this now.

Over the past several days, and especially yesterday, the protests against the Olympics by Tibetans have stood in the forefront of the news.

Recently, Barack Obama called for the Chinese government to give greater autonomy to Tibet.

The tradition of the Olympics is for nations to put down their differences in the spirit of athletic competition. The Olympics is a opportunity for dialogue.

In addition, can anyone deny the “egg in your face” to Adolph Hitler of Jessie Owen’s performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics? What a loss to history a boycott of that Olympics would have been.

This is simply my opinion.

I think it would be nonproductive if not counterproductive for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. His participation could present another opportunity to engage with Chinese leaders to hopefully influence their positions on a number of issues including Tibet.

When it comes to “carrot and stick” diplomacy, it is appearing to me that China is becoming increasingly more receptive to the “carrot”. China’s internal problems with it’s economy, environmental issues, resource supplies such as the recent problems with coal and the international attention on Tibet seem to be creating a fairly large “stick ” in their own right.

I am not in favor of greater “autonomy” for Tibet as Barack Obama has indicated his is willing to settle for. Even the Dalai Lama seems willing to settle for “autonomy”. Tibetans have their own culture and ethnicity and rich history as a separate nation and deserve full independence just as Mongolia achieved. Quite frankly, historically, Tibet could claim rights to control much of China as China claims it has rights to be sovereign over Tibet.

Although I agree with the Tibetans efforts to gain recognition and independence, I don’t agree with their disruption of Olympic events.

I think the fact that the Olympics are taking place in Beijing has given greater exposure and transparency to the situation in Tibet that might not have otherwise happened. I think the Tibetans should take advantage of this exposure in a less obstructive way.

People should take the time to learn more about Tibet and what appears to be going on there. Population trends seem to indicate that China is overwhelming the native Tibetan population with importation of ethnic Chinese and possibly even displacing native Tibetans out of their homeland to dilute their presence in an environmentally rich and pristine part of the world which also may be equally rich in natural resources that China covets.

Can the world really afford for China to abuse and mismanage the population, resources and environment of Tibet as it has done to its own population, resources and environment?

Bush’s Upcoming Proposal to Overhaul Financial Regulation

Knology – News

Like John McCain, I’m no economist or financial expert. Neither are Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Both of the Democratic candidates are quick to point out John McCain’s statement that he doesn’t know much about the economy. McCain’s honesty is refreshing and should be lauded rather than ridiculed.

After spending several years of retirement watching CNBC and Bloomberg trying to figure out the best way to make investments, I’ve come to the conclusion that the so-called “experts” don’t really know that much about it either.

That’s not to say that economists with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees don’t have a lot of knowledge regarding economic history and theory, but it’s also very apparent that there are as many opposing views about economics and the application of economic theory as there are political opinions. Everyone, well, almost everyone, has 20-20 hindsight. There are some out there that will still argue that the sky is green and not blue.

It almost humorous to watch CNBC (my current favorite) invite economists and financial experts with opposing views onto their various programs to “duke it out”. It’s sort of like, “If you get enough views expressed on your program, in all probability, one of them will be proven to be true … in a given circumstance.”

I’ve noticed also, if the market is down on a particular day, CNBC will get the nay sayers, the prophets of doom and gloom, to come on and say, “I told you so.” If the market is up or showing signs of improvement, they’ll get the preachers of “good times are here forever” on their shows to match the market sentiments. When the market is “iffy”, get ready for both and a string of heated arguments. Then there’s Cramer, Jim Cramer. This guy’s so influential that you can’t afford not to watch him. But, hold your breath. If he happens to trash that favorite stock you just purchased, get ready to watch it plummet to the bottom of the cesspool. If you’re really lucky, you’ve done your research ahead of him and his callers and are holding a stock that he mentions favorably on his show that everyone’s been ignoring. Then you can watch it climb astronomically in after hours trading as his listeners try to get the jump on the next morning’s trading. I think the only group that may be more fanatic are the followers of Warren Buffett’s portfolio. Simply look at Burlington Northern as the latest example of Buffett’s influence. Warren Buffett could buy stock in a company that packages dog poop for party favors and the stock would go up 20 points.

I manage several portfolios for my mother so I have the responsibility to her and my siblings of not loosing the family inheritance. It’s a formidable responsibility to try to maintain and enhance her fragile investments which are a significant part of the sum of her life’s work and savings.

I am old enough to remember the out of control economy of the Carter presidency with nearly 10% unemployment and interest rates passing 20%. I was in the unfavorable position of having to buy my second home at an interest rate of nearly 15% in 1983.

The facts above really make me wonder at the demagoguery of Democratic pundits complaining about the current 5% unemployment and the “high” interest rates running between six and seven per cent recently. You would think all of them were born yesterday. Or, more accurately, they’re treating the American public like we were born yesterday … with short attention spans and even shorter memories. I give my dog credit for a better memory than they seem to attribute to the American public.

The fact that so many people have been getting into trouble with minimal increases in interest rates on their adjustable rate home loans and the massive crisis this has caused in banking and investment institutions is a reflection of the lack of adequate oversight by the federal regulatory bodies who have been given that responsibility.

There are already laws on the books regarding proper lending practices and these have been completely ignored by the lending institutions and the federal agencies who have the responsibility to exercise that oversight. This is criminal and the justice department should have enough investigations and pending cases to keep it busy for a very, very, very long time. These should include not only corporate personnel but the bureaucratic bumpkins responsible for the oversight.

Adjustable rate mortgages are not new. I don’t know whether the subprime lending practices are new, but someone in a position of responsibility should have been diligent and alert … sensing that the real estate bubble wasn’t going to last forever and someone eventually would be left holding the bag … like a chain letter.

Anyone over forty years old should remember the real estate bubble that burst in the late 1970’s. That’s just not that long ago.

I can recall when, even in the rural community where I grew up in central Georgia, agricultural land appreciated to valuations ranging from $1200 to $3000 an acre. This was 50 miles from any urban centers. The land became practically too expensive to buy for farming. When the bubble burst, the land depreciated to a more realistic $200 to $300 an acre … and that was the best land. The current crisis was predictable.

Fortunately, I became very uneasy about what was going on in 2006, a full year before the meltdown began, and got my mother out of banking and financial stocks and resisted the temptation to jump into the blind elation that was rampant during 2007 which ran these stocks up before their sudden collapse.

I was no more prophetic in 2006 exercising caution with financial stocks than Barack Obama was in 2002 when he spoke out against a war in Iraq. There was one big difference in our actions, though. My actions were based on experience and his was based in ideology.

Barack Obama has already vaguely outlined a plan, or at least his desire, to increase the regulation of financial institutions. The Democrats may oppose the Bush recommendations simply to forestall President Bush from stealing their thunder. That, in itself, would be reprehensible since there is an immediate need to fill in any gaps which may exist in the ability of the government to oversee the financial markets. Any improvement in this ability is better than none. The politicians shouldn’t be “playing politics” with this crucial necessity. I don’t know that they can be trusted to resist the temptation … probably not.

By the way, someone should inform Obama that having his picture taken with Warren Buffett doesn’t make him a financial guru. Maybe Obama and his wife should get an IRA or 401-k (which neither have according to their tax returns) and see what it feels like to try to invest for the future. Even a little experience would help if he’s going to be president. I suppose he’s counting on the federal retirement system to take care of that problem. That’s arrogance … or stupidity. Take your choice.

Regardless, the current crisis isn’t simply a product of the Bush administration and has nothing to do with his economic views. It has resulted as a lack of proper oversight and could have been deterred to a large degree, if not in entirety, if existing laws had been enforced. This is the responsibility of a career bureaucracy which is little, if any, changed from administration to administration. It is also the responsibility of the Congress which has been too busy with political bickering, both Republican and Democratic, to fulfill their responsibility to the American public. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of their finger pointing.

Some bureaucratic heads need to roll … from low to high. And … people need to be held accountable and criminally prosecuted if warranted from property appraisers and loan officers to high corporate officials.