Friday, October 3, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut?

After elections in which the Republican side loses, I often have a little argument with my fellow righties. They're apt to blame the Republican campaign - it stank. I say, "Yeah, but the voters had enough information. They voted with their eyes open - and they picked the other side." In brief, the voters are responsible for their choices.

Is there something different about this year? It is a question worth thinking about, just a bit. Do people know the extent of Obama's leftism? Do they know his record? Do they know he was a little ACORN who grew up to be - well, what kind of oak? The press will offer no help to the Republicans. You will look in vain for real Obama scrutiny in the establishment press. They feel a kinship with him. Plus, they're busy trying to count Sarah Palin's moose kills and whatnot.

Republicans must inform people about Obama themselves. They themselves must let people know what they'd be getting, if they elected Obama president. Obama will be scrupulously un-pinko. In the fall campaign, he has been playing a very moderate game - a moderate-to-conservative game.

The other day, I was lunching with a judge friend - wise guy (not a smart-aleck, but a guy who is wise). I said I thought that, in the first debate, Obama had appeared as a moderate Democrat - even a David Boren or Sam Nunn. My friend responded, "No - he became a Republican. And he should not be allowed to get away with it."

But get away with it he may well. The Left is sitting still for his moderate act, of course - they know the game. They want to win, too. So Obama can sing "You're a Grand Old Flag" all he wants. He can do a Reagan/Winthrop/Jesus all he wants. (Of course, it'd be nice if he got the words right: It's a shining city on a hill, not a shining beacon.) ("Shining beacon" is a redundancy - but we all have to remember that Obama is a genius, just as we've been told.) (Remember when the Democrats mocked GOP congressmen for singing "We Shall Overcome" - suggested that they learn the words? Well . . .)

I have a strong memory of 1992. Clinton and Gore ran a remarkably conservative campaign - I mean conservative philosophically. They were almost to the right of Bush and Quayle (on China, for instance). "Don't you tag us with any of this McGovernite, Dukakite liberalism," they said. "We're a different story." And they certainly campaigned that way. Then they won. And I have a strong memory - speaking of those - of January 1993. Right before the inauguration. There was a kind of show out at what used to be called the Cap Center, I believe - in greater Washington. It was a Clinton inaugural party, or spectacular, of some sort. A show, as I said.

And Barbra Streisand shrieked into the microphone, "We're in, we're in! At long last, we're in!" And I remember asking, "What do you mean `we'? Clinton and Gore didn't campaign as Streisand Democrats." But what did it matter, once the votes had been counted? (BTW, we can talk about how Clinton and Gore governed some other time - interesting, not uncomplicated story.)

My perpetual - annual, biennial, certainly quadrennial - plea is for honest campaigning. And if both candidates show their true colors, allowing the voters to decide: fine. If there is egregious dissembling and subterfuge (there will always be some) - well, that's not so hot. You know what I mean? Let me wrap up a too-long post: If the American people want to elect what WFB used to call a "left-liberal," fine - that is their right. But they deserve to know what they're doing.


Three Fundamental Economic Questions for Senator Obama

Lost in all of the campaign spin and generous mainstream media coverage of Senator Barack Obama is an understanding of why his economic approach will lead to a stronger, more competitive America. In an attempt to escape the soundbites and "nuances" of Senator Obama's presidential campaign, I have three fundamental questions for him that permit a simple, straightforward response. Here are the questions:

Question One: What share of federal income taxes should the top 25% of Americans pay, and how many Americans should pay no federal taxes?

Liberals know they lost the more obvious battle in the tax war that dealt with marginal tax rates at truly confiscatory levels. Once President Ronald Reagan decimated the arguments for tax rates in the 70% range, no politician with national aspirations attempts to breach the 40% line of demarcation. Senator Obama even tries to wrap himself in the Reagan tax blanket by tying his tax rates to Reagan's tax rates.

The less obvious battle in the tax war is over who should pay taxes and how much of the tax burden should a minority of Americans carry. Because Democrats have successfully used tax credits and other tax avoidance measures to expand the number of Americans who pay no federal taxes, a larger share of federal taxes are paid by a shrinking number of Americans. By shielding more of the income of the bottom 50% from being taxed and exposing more of the income of the top 25% to be taxed, the marginal tax rates remain low, but the effective taxes paid by the top 25% increases significantly.

Liberals constantly declare that the "rich" should pay their "fair share" of federal taxes. When exactly does a taxpayer reach his fair share of taxes? Liberals won't say. They make these claims against millions of nameless and faceless Americans who they presume to know can afford to pay more federal taxes. In many cases, these Americans are the ones who live within their means, play by the rules, plan for the future, work the longest hours, have spent the most time and money earning advance degrees, and hope that the government will stop asking them to pay even more for programs they don't use so they can save for the children's college education or reinvest in their small businesses.

As Forbes reported, of the richest Americans on the Forbes 400 list, contrary to popular lore, 270 of them, or 68%, are entirely self-made. They didn't inherit their wealth. They built companies, created jobs, and, through that effort, made millions of middle class investors richer. These Americans should be exalted, not ridiculed by pseudo-Marxists or accused of illegality because a handful of bad apples break the law (despite the hot air of indictments, very few corporate executives ever get convicted after juries weigh the evidence).

While you don't have to subscribe to her objectivist philosophy, Ayn Rand's prophetic vision as laid out fifty-one years ago in Atlas Shrugged where the producers (read: rich) were forced to carry more and more of the costs of society sounds increasingly familiar. As the James Taggarts of today set their sights on the John Galts, Dagny Taggarts, Hank Reardens, and Francisco d'Anconia's of America with the "moral" claim that patriotism demands that they pay more, little thought is given to the long-term impact such policy will have on the incentives for the producers to keep producing in America. We certainly won't see the producers disappear as in Rand's novel, but the examples are abundant of the producers moving from high tax countries (England) to low tax countries (Ireland). In an ever-increasing global economy, moving operations becomes even easier.

Senator Obama has declared the rich to be those who make over $250,000, and pledges only to raise taxes on the top 5% of Americans. Using 2005 figures, there were roughly 6,630,000 filers out of over 132,000,000 in the top 5% who made 36% of all adjusted gross income, but paid 60% of federal taxes. Expanding the analysis to the top 25% of Americans would capture 33,152,909 filers. Those Americans made 68% of all adjusted gross income, but paid 85% of federal taxes, which left only 15% of federal taxes to be paid by the remaining 99,000,000 filers.

In fact, the bottom 50% is comprised of 66,000,000 filers who made 13% of all adjusted gross income, but only paid 3% of federal taxes. Even more troubling, the bottom 20% of Americans who paid .8% of federal taxes will see their share of federal taxes drop to a negative .12% under Senator Obama's tax plan. That means they will get money from the federal government even though they paid no federal taxes.

These incontrovertible facts lead to the one very simply question posed above that Senator Obama should answer. Does he think the top 25% should pay 100% of federal taxes? Should the entire burden be paid for by the top 5% of Americans? Who should pay and how much should they pay? He should tell us. As Barry Goldwater stated in The Conscience of a Conservative, "Government does not have an unlimited claim on the earnings of individuals." .........

Question Two: Specifically, what three deregulatory actions caused the current financial crisis and exactly how did those actions lead to the financial meltdown?

Liberals and the mainstream media keep telling us that the Reagan Era move to deregulate led to the financial crisis. Yet, they seem largely unable to articulate which deregulatory actions are to blame. Instead, they just keep repeating the claim without any meaningful support for it.

Case and point is a recent editorial by the New York Times titled, "Don't Blame the New Deal." That font of wisdom declared: "For decades now, antiregulation disciples of the Reagan Revolution have eliminated vital laws, blocked the enactment of much-needed new regulations, or simply refused to exercise their legal authority."

The first example given involved a failure of the Federal Reserve to "curb unfair, deceptive and predatory lending." Ironically, it was the New York Times itself that lauded Fannie Mae's easing of credit requirements in 1999 (see "Fannie Mae Eases Credit to Aid Mortgage Lending" from September 30, 1999), noting that the loosening of regulatory hurdles "will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans."

The article noted that "Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits." It quoted Fannie Mae head Franklin Raines saying, "Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements. Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

At least the New York Times acknowledged in passing that Fannie Mae was "taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's." Of course, this loosening of money to credit risky people occurred under Reagan disciple President Bill Clinton.

Then, it editorialized that it was the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999 that ended the Glass-Steagall prohibition on commercial and investment banks merging. No less than former President Clinton himself unequivocally stated, "I don't see that signing that bill had anything to do with the current crisis. Indeed, one of the things that has helped stabilize the current the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America." Had the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act not torn down the wall between types of banks, commercial banks wouldn't have been able to buy some of the investment banks, thereby lessening the financial crisis.

Finally, the New York Times, in what can only be described as a colossal partisan omission, blamed President George W. Bush and not the Democrats lead by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd for the Fannie Mae and Freddic Mac reform legislation that died in 2005. The legislation would have tightened the lending requirements, thereby preventing lending institutions from giving money to high-risk borrowers. One of the leading proponents of that legislation was John McCain. Senator Obama voted against the reform legislation.

The fact of the matter is that it was regulation that led to the mortgage crisis. The Congress and regulators aggressively pushed banks and other institutions to loan money to individuals unworthy of credit due to either low yearly income or poor credit histories. As both Presidents Clinton and Bush advocated homeownership for anyone and everyone, the Federal Reserve loosened monetary policy too much for too long, which flooded the market with historically record low interest rates for all those credit risky individuals.

As more and more people clamored for the easy money to buy homes and speculate on the housing market, the lending industry created mortgage packages where people making very little could obtain a house they couldn't afford with no money down and no proof of income. As the housing bubble grew and prices went up, things looked fine.

Once the housing bubble popped, prices began to decline, and people couldn't sell the homes they had purchased, adjustable rates adjusted up and the once affordable house became less affordable. Without any equity from a down payment or from appreciation of the house, individuals couldn't refinance to more stable mortgages. As a result, those with no skin in the game simply walked away from their homes and others lost them through foreclosure.....

The era of deregulation isn't over. It never started.

Question Three: How do higher unionization rates make America more competitive and, therefore, stronger economically?

For the sake of cutting through the noise of union propaganda, I will concede that unions drive up wages and benefits for their members. Because liberals always tell us that corporations are greedy, I will assume Senator Obama will concede that unionized corporations won't pay for those increased wages and benefits by reducing their profits. That means, of course, that union wages and benefits will be paid for by increasing the price of the good or service that the corporation provides, which means higher prices for consumers.

The world, unlike in 1932, consists of a global economy. While unions and liberals like to pretend that they can unilaterally stop the globalization of work and force foreign countries to reduce their competitive advantage of lower wages and manufacturing costs, they can't. The reality is that countries with strong trade unions and socialist-leaning economic policies like France and Germany are weakening the power of the unions because, no matter how hard they try, they have been unable to force China, India, Malaysia, or even Eastern Europe to adopt their labor standards. As a result, their unemployment rates remain higher than other developed nations and their economies weaker.

Does Senator Obama plan to use tariffs and other trade barriers to try and obtain concessions from lower cost countries? As we learned from the Great Depression, placing tariffs on imports from countries that won't unilaterally disarm will lead to greater economic damage. So, how will he persuade these countries to adopt America's more costly labor structure?

Even within the United States, in industries where unions have had their strongest presence, those corporations are withering on the vine of unionization while their non-unionized brethren remain viable. The American carmakers beg bureaucrats in Washington to give them billions in aid because they make cars that simply cost too much due to the higher wages and benefits the unions extracted over the last forty years.

Just down the road in places like Ohio, Honda plants operate at full capacity to meet the ever increasing demand for their lower priced and better (American) built cars. The short-term gain for some union members now retired has come at the long-term expense of those union members who came to the table later, to the communities left to deal with empty plants, and to the jobs that likely would have remained had employees ditched their unions.

The airlines with unionized employees teeter on the verge of bankruptcy while Southwest produces profits, high customer satisfaction rates, and loyal employees. The heavily unionized steel and manufacturing industries long ago lost the battle to the global economy, except in those states with right to work laws that protect workers who don't want to join the union.

In Washington state, Boeing is losing $100 million a day in deferred revenue because the machinists union rejected an offer worth roughly $38,000 per member over three years. When many Americans are losing their jobs or seeing their wages decline, a $12,500 yearly increase seems pretty generous. Is it any wonder that Boeing wants to move as much of its manufacturing as possible outside of America? Sure, that very outsourcing has resulted in temporary supply chain delays for its revolutionary Dreamliner airplane, but supply chains can be fixed. Union power in a non-right to work state renders Boeing largely powerless. We have seen this story before. It rarely ends well for the consumer or the economy.....

Much more here

McCain Is Right On Interstate Health Insurance

It's time to modernize our market

Let's hope Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama understands more about financial markets than he does about health-insurance markets. But the initial evidence isn't promising.

A recent kerfuffle between Mr. Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain concerned the interstate purchase of health insurance. Mr. McCain wants to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, opposes the idea and seems to believe it would create an unsafe, unregulated health-insurance market.

Mr. McCain backs legislation sponsored by Arizona Rep. John Shadegg. Known as the Health Care Choice Act, it would allow individuals living in one state to purchase health insurance being sold to people living in other states. The policy would still have to meet the regulations of the state in which it is being sold, and would be subject to additional federal oversight.

In other words, the McCain-Shadegg reform would allow a person living in New Jersey or New York to buy health insurance that is being sold in and regulated by Pennsylvania or Connecticut. That's hardly the Wild West of health insurance.

About 18 million Americans today buy health insurance in the individual market because they don't have access to employer coverage or they aren't in a government-sponsored program (Medicare, Medicaid, etc.).

Many people in the employer-provided group market -- about 160 million Americans -- can already get health insurance across state lines. As a senator Mr. Obama, for example, lives in Illinois, but can get his health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which is not located in Illinois. In addition, lots of small employers who offer health insurance through state-regulated insurers have employees who live in other states. And when my youngest daughter moved from Texas to New Jersey to go to graduate school, she remained on our family's Texas-regulated health insurance. In fact, people living in one state who buy health insurance in the individual market often move to other states, carrying their insurance policy across state lines.

Almost no problems have arisen from all of these interstate coverage options. So why are the two presidential candidates fighting about expanding interstate health-insurance options?

Mr. McCain recognizes that millions of Americans, many of them uninsured, live in states that impose numerous mandates -- there are about 1,900 mandates nationwide -- and restrictions that make health insurance unaffordable. Mr. McCain's proposal would simply let individuals faced with high prices and few options in their own state buy a regulated policy in another state. That's how other industries work. People buy just about everything across state lines, with very few problems.

Mr. Obama ignited the latest feud by telling an audience, "So let me get this straight -- he wants to run health care like they've been running Wall Street," according to the Washington Post, implying that Mr. McCain would relax insurance regulations.

Mr. Obama opposes interstate sales for two reasons. First, he doesn't believe a market can work in health insurance. He believes it is necessary for the government to look over everybody's shoulder to make sure patients are getting the care and coverage the government thinks is appropriate at a price the government considers affordable.

Second, Mr. Obama likes benefit-rich policies that cover virtually everything, but are also very expensive. He wants people to have the types of health-insurance plans that the uninsured can't afford. He will "solve" the affordability issue by imposing price controls and regulations on insurers and drug companies, and force taxpayers to subsidize the rest of the cost.

Creating an interstate option for individuals to purchase health insurance doesn't solve every problem faced by the 45 million Americans who are uninsured. But the choice isn't between a regulated or unregulated health-insurance market. The choice is between an overregulated market favored by Mr. Obama and a regulated market favored by Mr. McCain that provides more options to help individuals afford health coverage.



1.) Selma Got Me Born - NOT EXACTLY, your parents felt safe enough to have you in 1961 - Selma had no effect on your birth, as Selma was in 1965. (Google' Obama Selma ' for his full March 4, 2007 speech and articles about its various untruths.)

2.) Father Was A Goat Herder - NOT EXACTLY, he was a privileged, well educated youth, who went on to work with the Kenyan Government.

3.) Father Was A Proud Freedom Fighter - NOT EXACTLY, he was part of one of the most corrupt and violent governments Kenya has ever had.

4.) My Family Has Strong Ties To African Freedom - NOT EXACTLY, your cousin Raila Odinga has created mass violence in attempting to overturn a legitimate election in 2007, in Kenya . It is the first widespread violence in decades. The current government is pro-American but Odinga wants to overthrow it and establish Muslim Sharia law. Your half-brother, Abongo Obama, is Odinga's follower. You interrupted your New Hampshire campaigning to speak to Odinga on the phone.

Obama's cousin Odinga in Kenya ran for president and tried to get Sharia muslim law in place there. When Odinga lost the elections, his followers have burned Christians' homes and then burned men, women and children alive in a Christian church where they took shelter.. Obama SUPPORTED his cousin before the election process here started. Google Obama and Odinga and see what you get. No one wants to know the truth.

5.) My Grandmother Has Always Been A Christian - NOT EXACTLY, she does her daily Salat prayers at 5am according to her own interviews. Not to mention, Christianity wouldn't allow her to have been one of 14 wives to 1 man.

6.) My Name is African Swahili - NOT EXACTLY, your name is Arabic and 'Baraka' (from which Barack came) means 'blessed' in that language. Hussein is also Arabic and so is Obama. Barack Hussein Obama is not half black. If elected, he would be the first Arab-American President, not the first black President. Barack Hussein Obama is 50% Caucasian from his mother's side and 43.75% Arabic and 6.25% African Negro from his father's side. While Barack Hussein Obama's father was from Kenya , his father's family was mainly Arabs.. Barack Hussein Obama's father was only 12.5% African Negro and 87.5% Arab (his father's birth certificate even states he's Arab, not African Negro). From....and for more....see here

7.) I Never Practiced Islam - NOT EXACTLY, you practiced it daily at school, where you were registered as a Muslim and kept that faith for 31 years, until your wife made you change, so you could run for office. 4-3-08 Article 'Obama was 'quite religious in islam''. See here

8.) My School In Indonesia was Christian - NOT EXACTLY, you were registered as Muslim there and got in trouble in Koranic Studies for making faces (check your own book). February 28, 2008. Kristoff from the New York Times a year ago: Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it'll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as 'one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.' This is just one example of what Pamela is talking about when she says 'Obama's narrative is being altered, enhanced and manipulated to whitewash troubling facts.'

9.) I Was Fluent In Indonesian - NOT EXACTLY, not one teacher says you could speak the language.

10.) Because I Lived In Indonesia , I Have More Foreign Experience - NOT EXACTLY, you were there from the ages of 6 to 10, and couldn't even speak the language. What did you learn, how to study the Koran and watch cartoons.

11.) I Am Stronger On Foreign Affairs - NOT EXACTLY, except for Africa (surprise) and the Middle East (bigger surprise), you have never been anywhere else on the planet and thus have NO experience with our closest allies.

12.) I Blame My Early Drug Use On Ethnic Confusion - NOT EXACTLY, you were quite content in high school to be Barry Obama, no mention of Kenya and no mention of struggle to identify - your classmates said you were just fine.

13.) An Ebony Article Moved Me To Run For Office - NOT EXACTLY, Ebony has yet to find the article you mention in your book. It doesn't, and never did, exist.

14.) A Life Magazine Article Changed My outlook on Life - NOT EXACTLY, Life has yet to find the article you mention in your book. It doesn't, and never did, exist.

15.) I Won't Run On A National Ticket In '08 - NOT EXACTLY, here you are, despite saying, live n TV, that you would not have enough experience by then, and you are all about having experience first.

16.) Voting 'Present' is Common In Illinois Senate - NOT EXACTLY, they are common for YOU, but not many others have 130 NO VOTES.

17.) Oops, I Misvoted - NOT EXACTLY, only when caught by church groups and Democrats, did you beg to change your misvote.

18.) I Was A Professor Of Law - NOT EXACTLY, you were a senior lecturer ON LEAVE.

19.) I Was A Constitutional Lawyer - NOT EXACTLY, you were a senior lecturer ON LEAVE.

20.) Without Me, There Would Be No Ethics Bill - NOT EXACTLY, you didn't write it, introduce it, change it, or create it.

21.) The Ethics Bill Was Hard To Pass - NOT EXACTLY, it took just 14 days from start to finish.

22.) I Wrote A Tough Nuclear Bill - NOT EXACTLY, your bill was rejected by your own party for its pandering and lack of all regulation - mainly because of your Nuclear donor, Exelon, from which David Axelrod came.

23.) I Have Released My State Records - NOT EXACTLY, as of March, 2008, state bills you sponsored or voted for have yet to be released, exposing all the special interests pork hidden within.

24.) I Took On The Asbestos Altgeld Gardens Mess - NOT EXACTLY, you were part of a large group of people who remedied Altgeld Gardens .. You failed to mention anyone else but yourself, in your books.

25.) My Economics Bill Will Help America - NOT EXACTLY, your 111 economic policies were just combined into a proposal which lost 99-0, and even YOU voted against your own bill.

26.) I Have Been A Bold Leader In Illinois - NOT EXACTLY, even your own supporters claim to have not seen BOLD action on your part.

27.) I Passed 26 Of My Own Bills In One Year - NOT EXACTLY, they were not YOUR bills, but rather handed to you, after their creation by a fellow Senator, to assist you in a future bid for higher office.

28.) No One on my campaign contacted Canada about NAFTA - NOT EXACTLY, the Candian Government issued the names and a memo of the conversation your campaign had with them.

29.) I Am Tough On Terrorism - NOT EXACTLY, you missed the Iran Resolution vote on terrorism and your good friend Ali Abunimah supports the destruction of Israel .

30.) I Want All Votes To Count - NOT EXACTLY, you said let the delegates decide.

31.) I Want Americans To Decide - NOT EXACTLY, you prefer caucuses that limit the vote, confuse the voters, force a public vote, and only operate during small windows of time.

32.) I passed 900 Bills in the State Senate - NOT EXACTLY, you passed 26, most of which you didn't write yourself.

33.) I Believe In Fairness, Not Tactics - NOT EXACTLY, you used tactics to eliminate Alice Palmer from running against you.

34.) I Don't Take PAC Money - NOT EXACTLY, you take loads of it.

35.) I don't Have Lobbysists - NOT EXACTLY, you have over 47 lobbyists, and counting.

36.) My Campaign Had Nothing To Do With The 1984 Ad - NOT EXACTLY, your own campaign worker made the ad on his Apple in one afternoon.

37.) I Have Always Been Against Iraq - NOT EXACTLY, you weren't in office to vote against it AND you have voted to fund it every single time.

38.) I Have Always Supported Universal Health Care - NOT EXACTLY, your plan leaves us all to pay for the 15,000,000 who don't have to buy it


Secret, Foreign Money Floods Into Obama Campaign

More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won't disclose. And questions have arisen about millions more in foreign donations the Obama campaign has received that apparently have not been vetted as legitimate. Obama has raised nearly twice that of John McCain's campaign, according to new campaign finance report.

But because of Obama's high expenses during the hotly contested Democratic primary season and an early decision to forgo public campaign money and the spending limits it imposes, all that cash has not translated into a financial advantage - at least, not yet. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee began September with $95 million in cash, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The McCain camp and the Republican National Committee had $94 million, because of an influx of $84 million in public money. But Obama easily could outpace McCain by $50 million to $100 million or more in new donations before Election Day, thanks to a legion of small contributors whose names and addresses have been kept secret. Unlike the McCain campaign, which has made its complete donor database available online, the Obama campaign has not identified donors for nearly half the amount he has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Federal law does not require the campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 during the election cycle. However, it does require that campaigns calculate running totals for each donor and report them once they go beyond the $200 mark. Surprisingly, the great majority of Obama donors never break the $200 threshold. "Contributions that come under $200 aggregated per person are not listed," said Bob Biersack, a spokesman for the FEC. "They don't appear anywhere, so there's no way of knowing who they are."

The FEC breakdown of the Obama campaign has identified a staggering $222.7 million as coming from contributions of $200 or less. Only $39.6 million of that amount comes from donors the Obama campaign has identified. It is the largest pool of unidentified money that has ever flooded into the U.S. election system, before or after the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms of 2002.

Biersack would not comment on whether the FEC was investigating the huge amount of cash that has come into Obama's coffers with no public reporting. But Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for CRP, a campaign-finance watchdog group, dismissed the scale of the unreported money. "We feel comfortable that it isn't the $20 donations that are corrupting a campaign," he told Newsmax. But those small donations have added up to more than $200 million, all of it from unknown and unreported donors.

Ritsch acknowledges that there is skepticism about all the unreported money, especially in the Obama campaign coffers. "We and seven other watchdog groups asked both campaigns for more information on small donors," he said. "The Obama campaign never responded," whereas the McCain campaign "makes all its donor information, including the small donors, available online."

The rise of the Internet as a campaign funding tool raises new questions about the adequacy of FEC requirements on disclosure. In pre-Internet fundraising, almost all political donations, even small ones, were made by bank check, leaving a paper trail and limiting the amount of fraud.

But credit cards used to make donations on the Internet have allowed for far more abuse. "While FEC practice is to do a post-election review of all presidential campaigns, given their sluggish metabolism, results can take three or four years," said Ken Boehm, the chairman of the conservative National Legal and Policy Center. Already, the FEC has noted unusual patterns in Obama campaign donations among donors who have been disclosed because they have gone beyond the $200 minimum.....

Foreign Donations

And then there are the overseas donations - at least, the ones that we know about. The FEC has compiled a separate database of potentially questionable overseas donations that contains more than 11,500 contributions totaling $33.8 million. More than 520 listed their "state" as "IR," often an abbreviation for Iran. Another 63 listed it as "UK," the United Kingdom. More than 1,400 of the overseas entries clearly were U.S. diplomats or military personnel, who gave an APO address overseas. Their total contributions came to just $201,680. But others came from places as far afield as Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Beijing, Fallujah, Florence, Italy, and a wide selection of towns and cities in France.

Until recently, the Obama Web site allowed a contributor to select the country where he resided from the entire membership of the United Nations, including such friendly places as North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unlike McCain's or Sen. Hillary Clinton's online donation pages, the Obama site did not ask for proof of citizenship until just recently. Clinton's presidential campaign required U.S. citizens living abroad to actually fax a copy of their passport before a donation would be accepted. With such lax vetting of foreign contributions, the Obama campaign may have indirectly contributed to questionable fundraising by foreigners.

In July and August, the head of the Nigeria's stock market held a series of pro-Obama fundraisers in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city. The events attracted local Nigerian business owners. At one event, a table for eight at one fundraising dinner went for $16,800. Nigerian press reports claimed sponsors raked in an estimated $900,000. The sponsors said the fundraisers were held to help Nigerians attend the Democratic convention in Denver. But the Nigerian press expressed skepticism of that claim, and the Nigerian public anti-fraud commission is now investigating the matter.

Concerns about foreign fundraising have been raised by other anecdotal accounts of illegal activities. In June, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gave a public speech praising Obama, claiming foreign nationals were donating to his campaign. "All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man," the Libyan leader said. "They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency..."

Though Gadhafi asserted that fundraising from Arab and African nations were "legitimate," the fact is that U.S. federal law bans any foreigner from donating to a U.S. election campaign.

Much more here

Bill Clinton Defends Deregulation Against Barack's Attacks

Never did I think there'd come a day when I'd agree with Bill Clinton this often, and yet, here I go again. As I was saying yesterday, Bill Clinton has been perhaps the strongest voice against the Obama-created meme that deregulation and the free market are at fault for a crisis actually caused by government interference.

And, here he goes again... Bill may be attending rallies now, but he's not toeing Obama's line on the banking crisis and what caused it. On the Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill, which passed the senate 90-8, with the prominent support of Obama backers such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and, err Joe Biden (D-imwitted):
In, Maria Bartiromo reports that she asked the former President last week whether he regretted signing that legislation. Mr. Clinton's reply: "No, because it wasn't a complete deregulation at all. We still have heavy regulations and insurance on bank deposits, requirements on banks for capital and for disclosure. I thought at the time that it might lead to more stable investments and a reduced pressure on Wall Street to produce quarterly profits that were always bigger than the previous quarter.

"But I have really thought about this a lot. I don't see that signing that bill had anything to do with the current crisis. Indeed, one of the things that has helped stabilize the current situation as much as it has is the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, which was much smoother than it would have been if I hadn't signed that bill."

One of the writers of that legislation was then-Senator Phil Gramm, who is now advising John McCain, and who Mr. Obama described last week as "the architect in the United States Senate of the deregulatory steps that helped cause this mess." Ms. Bartiromo asked Mr. Clinton if he felt Mr. Gramm had sold him "a bill of goods"?

Mr. Clinton: "Not on this bill I don't think he did. You know, Phil Gramm and I disagreed on a lot of things, but he can't possibly be wrong about everything. On the Glass-Steagall thing, like I said, if you could demonstrate to me that it was a mistake, I'd be glad to look at the evidence.

"But I can't blame [the Republicans]. This wasn't something they forced me into. I really believed that given the level of oversight of banks and their ability to have more patient capital, if you made it possible for [commercial banks] to go into the investment banking business as Continental European investment banks could always do, that it might give us a more stable source of long-term investment."

Peter Wallison provides four reasons Barack is wrong on this, in case he and Bill never get together over ice cream sodas to talk about it:
1. There has been a great deal of deregulation in our economy over the last 30 years, but none of it has been in the financial sector or has had anything to do with the current crisis. Almost all financial legislation, such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Improvement Act of 1991, adopted after the savings and loan collapse in the late 1980s, significantly tightened the regulation of banks.

2. The repeal of portions of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999--often cited by people who know nothing about that law--has no relevance whatsoever to the financial crisis, with one major exception: it permitted banks to be affiliated with firms that underwrite securities, and thus allowed Bank of America Corp. to acquire Merrill Lynch & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to buy Bear Stearns Cos. Both transactions saved the government the costs of a rescue and spared the market substantial additional turmoil.

3. Republicans have favored financial regulation where it was necessary, as in the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while the Democrats have opposed it. In 2005, the Senate Banking Committee, then under Republican control, adopted a tough regulatory bill for Fannie and Freddie over the unanimous opposition of committee Democrats. The opposition of the Democrats when the bill reached the full Senate made its enactment impossible. Barack Obama did nothing; John McCain endorsed the bill in a speech on the Senate floor.

4. The subprime and other junk mortgages that Fannie and Freddie bought--and the market in these mortgages that their buying spawned--are the underlying cause of the financial crisis. These are the mortgages that the Treasury Department is asking for congressional authority to buy. If the Democrats had allowed the Fannie and Freddie reform legislation to become law in 2005, the entire financial crisis might have been avoided.

Now, if McCain could include some of these points in his stump speeches, we'd be getting somewhere. Better yet, have Sarah Palin serve them up tomorrow night. If her RNC speech was any indication, she's a delightful, entertaining attack dog, and I'd love to see her stick Biden on this.

After all, the Left has suddenly decided, after weeks of calling her the dimmest woman on Earth, that she is the greatest debater ever, so I'm confident she could pull that off.


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