Three reasons why the new financial bill is bull

July 3, 2010

For Reason.TV, Nick Gillespie walks us through the reasons why the financial regulation bill the Democrats are trying to ram through Congress doesn’t address the real problems with our financial system:

I’ve no doubt there are some good ideas in this bill … somewhere in its 2300 pages, but it’s failure to address core problems, such as the government’s continued attempts at using the financial system as a vehicle of social engineering, make it fatally flawed. It should be withdrawn or defeated, and work started on real reform.

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Klavan on the culture: Financial Crisis 101

May 7, 2010

In today’s installment, author Andrew Klavan uses free government-provided humor to explain the US financial crisis:

And for a less funny, more angry take…


And if you don’t like that lie, I have another

July 29, 2009

Corruption isn’t unique to one party or another (Duke Cunningham, anyone?), but sometimes it seems the Democrats are so deeply mired in it that they’ve lost any ability to feel shame or to recognize that they should feel ashamed.  Or even to keep their lies straight. Jim Geraghty at National Review reports that Chris Dodd is again changing his story about the sweetheart loans he received from defunct lender Countrywide:

Sen. Chris Dodd, defending himself from accusations that he received improper special treatment on his mortgage, in June of last year: “I guess so, yeah, I don’t know what the rates are today.”

Mrs. Dodd, in February: “Mrs. Dodd said she did most of the negotiations regarding the loans and when she asked about what the VIP program was she was told it meant nothing more than getting an actual person on the phone when she called. She said she never met any of the loan officers in person. She said in 2003 they decided to stay with Countrywide because ‘it was easier to stay with our current lender than move to a new one.'”

Those two comments suggest that the Dodds didn’t look around for other options, and preferred the simplicity of staying with Countrywide.

Sen. Chris Dodd, defending himself from accusations that he received improper special treatment on his mortgage, today: “We negotiated loans. We shopped.”

So Dodd, longtime member of the Banking Committee, didn’t know the rates, and he and his wife chose Countrywide out of simplicity, until now, when they say they chose them because they shopped around?

Next Dodd will claim Angelo tricked him into taking those special rates as part of a Karl-Rove plot. Yeah, that’s it…

Senator Dodd isn’t the only donkey Democrat caught up in this mess: Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) also got special treatment from Countrywide. (Fair disclosure: so did Bush HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson) Like Dodd, he claims not to have known he was getting the “friends rate” on his mortgage interest.  In an editorial linked to the Geraghty piece, the editors of National Review call foul on both men by quoting the testimony of the man who handled their accounts:

Senators Dodd and Conrad have protested that they did not know that they were being given preferential treatment. We therefore are implicitly asked to believe that the gentle souls at Countrywide were forgoing profits on loans to influential politicians out of a sense of public-spiritedness, and were carefully concealing the sweetheart deals from their beneficiaries. One might hope that the two men who would go on to chair the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Budget Committee would recognize unusual financial arrangements when they saw them — and signed their names to them. But whether either of these two possesses the financial acumen to assess the sweetness of a mortgage, their banker, Robert Feinberg of Countrywide’s VIP operation, now informs congressional investigators that both men knew they were getting preferential treatment.

“Who you know is basically how you’re coming in here,” Feinberg said. “You don’t say ‘no’ to the VIP.” Pressed directly about whether Senator Conrad was aware of the arrangement, Feinberg said, “Yes, he was aware.” Dodd, too? “Yes, yes.”

Corruption at any time is unacceptable, but it’s especially so when the Federal government is moving heaven and earth (and spending vast sums of money) to take over large segments of the economy. When the stakes are so great, the temptation to make a deal for oneself is almost irresistible. Corruption and venality are inevitable somewhere in the system.

At the same time, there is nonetheless an obligation of honor and responsibility to the public. (Oh, stop laughing.) These leaders oversea important areas of the government and the economy: they spend our money, wield great power, and are demanding more of both as part of President Obama’s New-New Deal. Yet they’ve been revealed to be petty, self-dealing wretches and liars who treat their responsibilities as their right – public servants who see themselves as the public’s masters.

Again, this is unacceptable in any politician at any time; it’s too much to expect the Senate in it’s current configuration to expel Conrad and Dodd for corruption (and with their party engaging in so much of it), but one can hope that their constituents will remember this in 2010 and 2012. If not, then the voters will get the republic they deserve.

UPDATE: Reader TLC in the comments offers a link to a Huffington Post article that disputes whether Dodd knew he was getting special treatment or even if he got special treatment at all.


Behind closed doors

July 20, 2009

Robert Stacy McCain continues his series on the budding scandal around what appear to be efforts by the Obama people to bring to heel the Inspectors-General who are supposed to be the independent watchdogs making sure public money isn’t being misused. While looking into the quiet investigation by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee and the lawsuit by fired Inspector-General Gerald Walpin, McCain mentions something else that caught my eye: the move in Congress to leash Inspectors-General at five financial departments –including the SEC:

However, some informed Republican sources are beginning to call attention to other evidence of a concerted effort to blindfold, muzzle or neuter watchdogs — especially those who dare to growl at Democrats.

Why, for instance, did Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) rush through the House a bill that would give President Obama power to dismiss five inspectors general — including the IG for the Securities and Exchange Commission — who under existing law report to the agency heads?

The IGs themselves have protested against the Larson bill, which has yet to be debated in the Senate, and it has not escaped notice on Capitol Hill that Larson is a prominent “Friend of Chris.” That would be Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Dodd is under intense scrutiny for a number of shady-looking activities — “Chris Dodd Update” has become a regular feature at Professor Glenn Reynolds’ popular Instapundit blog — and Dodd is also facing a tough re-election bid next year.

No one on the Hill has yet directly suggested that the Larson bill — which could effectively muzzle watchdogs at five federal financial agencies — was specifically intended as assistance to the embattled chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. But as liberal bloggers used to say about the Bush administration’s activities, some Republicans have begun to “question the timing.”

Dodd was heavily criticized for his ties to and favors received from Angelo Mozilo, head of the now defunct Countrywide Financial, a firm at the center of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco and one ostensibly overseen by the Senate banking committee Dodd chaired. Dodd was also received a lot of money from other financial firms he was supposed to regulate. What a coincidence, then, that a congressman from Connecticut would introduce legislation weakening the IGs who might otherwise uncover information damaging to Dodd’s already teetering reelection chances.

I, too, question the timing.  Waiting

In addition to McCain, Byron York at the Washington Examiner has been following developments in (forgive me) “Inspector-Generalgate.” It’s worth keeping an eye on this; it may not look like much now, but I have the feeling that this is one of those slow-burning fuses that, when it finally does get to the powder, is going to blow up in the Chicago Boys’ faces.