October 2008 Archives

From an e-mail from NYU:

A research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, headed by Professor Yaacov Trope and supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous.

I've participated already. If you'd like to participate, follow this link.

An open letter from Tulsa District 5 City Councilor Bill Martinson, explaining his decision to vote against the two streets propositions on Tuesday's ballot:

Dear Tulsa Voter,

November 4th is just around the corner, and the citizens of Tulsa will be voting on two street propositions. Councilors Henderson, Christiansen, Bynum, Patrick, and ultimately Troyer, voted to place these propositions on the ballot. I, along with Councilors Gomez, Eagleton and Westcott voted against these proposals because we supported a comprehensive approach that would actually fix the streets. Out of respect for the process, (i.e., respecting a majority vote of the Council) I have kept a low profile. To this point, my comments have been limited to direct responses to direct questions concerning my opinion of the ballot proposals.

However, as Election Day nears, I feel obligated to make my opinions better known. This is for two reasons, both based on the increasing calls, conversations, and e-mails I have been receiving. First, there seems to be a wide spread impression that my relative silence on the propositions is an unspoken endorsement. Not only do I NOT endorse the propositions, I intend to vote NO on both on November 4th. Second, the public has received limited information from those supporting the propositions as to the long-term impact their passage would have on Tulsa and its citizens. I hope that the following will help explain my position and provide a basis for those interested in making a fact-based decision at the polls.

As Chair of the City Council's Streets Sub-Committee, I was intimately involved in studying Tulsa's street deficiencies. We consulted with external experts, former elected officials, and the Public Works department. We found that years and decades of neglect have created a multi-billion dollar problem; the magnitude of which, no one disputes.

The Sub-Committee, working closely with Public Works and other City departments, spent months developing a comprehensive approach to address the problem. That effort led to a proposal that would have ensured the long term commitment necessary to restore and maintain our infrastructure. Unfortunately, that proposal is not on the ballot thanks to some last minute maneuvering by the Mayor and Chamber of Commerce.

In the early 1980's, Tulsa had over 220 employees assigned to street maintenance; today we have 69. Yet, we have doubled the number of lane miles in the City during that time. As a point of reference, there are enough lane miles in Tulsa to take you from New York City to Los Angeles and back to Tulsa with miles to spare (you would also encounter a signalized intersection every 10 miles along the way). Expecting 69 employees, 50 of which are actually in the field, to provide reactive maintenance (e.g., filling pot holes), much less routine and preventive maintenance, on that much pavement is absurd. The proposal that I supported provided restoring 100 of those positions over time. In addition to these positions that would have enabled us to effectively and efficiently extend the life of our streets, we also provided additional funding for right of way maintenance, graffiti abatement, and traffic engineering in order to address dangerous intersections and improve traffic flow. Furthermore, we had included $120 million for street widening in south Tulsa.

The Mayor in a matter of weeks, if not days, developed the propositions on the November 4th ballot. The propositions provide minimal resources for street maintenance, no additional funding for right of way maintenance, graffiti abatement or traffic engineering and have NO funding for widening. While the ballot propositions may hold the pavement condition relatively steady, the backlog of work will increase by $64 million. In addition to increasing the backlog, the limited funding for routine and preventive maintenance will mean that our streets will deteriorate more rapidly than necessary and ensure that our cost will be much higher in the end.

The Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce are promoting the propositions on the ballot as the first step in a master plan. Yet, no one has developed, or is developing, the next step, which means there is no plan. That burden will fall on a future Mayor and future City Councilors. Not only will those officials face a massive street need (even the advocates of the ballot propositions admit this), they will have to fund several years of deferred capital requirements that are being ignored in the current ballot propositions. If these propositions pass, the additional costs to the taxpayers once these ballot propositions expire will be enormous.

Some argue that the comprehensive approach would have tied up our funding sources for too long and that the current ballot proposals would provide Tulsa with flexibility to address future needs. I personally cannot envision a future need that would surpass our immediate need to fix our deteriorating streets (again, no one disputes the financial magnitude of the problem). As to the comprehensive approach tying up future funding sources, I believe the exact opposite is true. In order to reach the same pavement condition in the same timeframe as the longer comprehensive approach, two shorter initiatives will cost hundreds of millions dollars more - hundreds of millions of dollars going to streets that could have been saved and dedicated elsewhere.

Others argue that since Tulsa is updating its Comprehensive Plan and modes of transportation may change, a shorter plan makes sense. Regardless of any changes to the Comprehensive Plan, Tulsa will need adequate streets. People will live in houses and will need to get to work and go to stores. Unless we all begin walking or bicycling where we need to go, and expect visitors to Tulsa to do the same, I cannot see a fundamental shift away from needing a reliable street system, especially over the next twelve years.

Some have said that the comprehensive approach would never pass because it would cost too much money. To put things in perspective, the difference in cost to a taxpayer living in a $100,000 house between the comprehensive plan that I supported and the plan on the November 4 ballot is approximately $8 per year, less than a $1 per month.

I doubt that anyone in Tulsa wants to see our streets fixed more than I do. In my opinion, the street propositions on November 4th ballot will not fix the fundamental problems relating to our streets. Furthermore, they will ultimately cost the taxpayers of Tulsa hundreds of millions of dollars more than necessary. Accordingly, I will be voting NO on both propositions.

Some contend that the current ballot proposals are a start, or at least better than nothing. I disagree. I believe that kind of approach and mentality has put us where we are today. Until Tulsans and their elected officials acquire the courage and discipline to actually solve the problem, the streets in our City will continue to decline. The City Council's Streets Sub-Committee spent many months conducting a complete analysis and developing a comprehensive plan that would fix Tulsa's streets. If the ballot propositions fail, that plan can be placed on the first legally available ballot following November 4th election.

Bill Martinson
Tulsa City Councilor, District 5

A selection of links and excerpts:

CBS News gives Obama-TV a reality check:

Without question, the Barack Obama infomercial served as a very slick and powerful recitation of the biggest promises he's made as a presidential candidate. But the very bigness of his ideas is the problem: he seems blind to the concept his numbers don't add up.

Palestra's coverage of voter fraud in Ohio and the out-of-state Obama campaign workers who have registered and voted in that state. Two college women are doing the reporting the mainstream media can't be bothered to do.

Los Angeles Times still won't release the videotape of Obama speaking at the 2003 farewell dinner for his longtime friend, Palestinian terrorism apologist Rashid Khalidi. A Times spokesman says releasing the tape might put the source in jeopardy. If the tape poses enough of a threat to someone that he might retaliate against the tape's source, all the more reason we need to see it before election day.

Martin Kramer explains why Obama's connection to Khalidi matters:

Obama and Khalidi (and their wives) became friends in the 1990s, when Obama began to teach at the University of Chicago, where Khalidi also taught. In 2003, Khalidi accepted the Edward Said Professorship of Arab Studies at Columbia; the videotaped event was his Chicago farewell party. The Los Angeles Times, which refuses to release the tape (and which endorsed Obama on October 19) reported last spring that Obama praised Khalidi's "consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases." Other speakers reportedly said incendiary things against Israel. Whether or how Obama reacted, only the videotape might tell.

That Obama spoke on this important occasion suggests that his attachment to Khalidi wasn't a superficial acquaintance. As Obama admits, the two had many "conversations" over dinner at the Khalidis' home, and these may well have constituted Obama's primer on the Middle East. Yet Obama has given no account of these conversations, even as he has repeatedly emphasized other ones which would seem far less significant.

A commenter on the Crunchy Con blog, a Univ. of Chicago student during Obama' time there as a professor, defends the Marxist label for Obama:

I never took Prof. Obama's classes, but I had both friends who did and friends who were tuned in to the reputation/scholarship/ideology of the various professors much better than I was. When he was running for Senate, one of my most thoughtful friends told me, without a hint of irony, that Obama was essentially a socialist; another friend, a rather liberal Jew, actually volunteered for the Ryan campaign (till it imploded) because what he could gather of Obama's position on Israel at the time scared the hell out of him....

I have no doubt that Obama is a man of personal integrity, at least as politicians go, and I have no desire to besmirch his character. But his associations, his instincts, and his positions on the issues (at least until he positioned himself for national office) mark him as the most left-wing major-party presidential candidate perhaps in American history. There's just no getting round that fact.

Stanley Kurtz continues his careful, scholarly investigation into Obama's political history with Obama's membership in and endorsement by the socialist New Party:

The New Party had members, and Barack Obama was one of them. That is what contemporaneous documents tell us, and that is the reasonable inference to be made from the requirement that endorsed candidates sign a contract of party support. We know that Obama was a close ally, supporter, and even funder of key New Party figures....

All of this matters, not because of some simplistic associational "gotcha," but because Obama's still somewhat mysterious ideology, as revealed in that 2001 radio interview, is greatly illuminated by his New Party ties. The New Party advocated gradual, but radical economic change, arguably socialist, but in any case heavily redistributive, all swathed in the soothing vocabulary of traditional American democracy, and grounded in the hope that the reach of groups like ACORN could one day be multiplied many times over. This, I'd wager, is what Barack Obama believed when he was endorsed by the New Party in 1996, what he believed when he spoke of "major redistributive change" on the radio in 2001, and what he hopes to accomplish (over time) should he become president of the United States in 2009.

Bill Sammon points to Obama's autobiographical accounts of seeking out radical leftist friends and associates:

But Obama himself acknowledges that he was drawn to socialists and even Marxists as a college student. He continued to associate with Marxists later in life, even choosing to launch his political career in the living room of a self-described Marxist, William Ayers, in 1995, when Obama was 34....

Obama supporters point out that plenty of Americans flirt with radical ideologies in college, only to join the political mainstream later in life. But Obama, who made a point of noting how "carefully" he chose his friends in college, also chose to launch his political career in the Chicago living room of Ayers, a domestic terrorist who in 2002 proclaimed: "I am a Marxist."

Also present at that meeting was Ayers' wife, fellow terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, who once gave a speech extolling socialism, communism and "Marxism-Leninism."

Kyle-Anne Shiver at American Thinker reminds us what's so alluring -- and so dangerous -- about socialism (hat tip to Tyson Wynn):

A great many Americans -- perhaps even a majority -- seem poised to hand over vast amounts of their hard-earned money and their hard-won liberties to the promised "collective redemption" being offered by Barack Obama and his socialist band of "progressives" in Congress. With the votes of nanny-state supporters from all classes among us, their utopian dreams will be put to the test on our own ground and the reach of our federal government will be expanded drastically according to their plans....

One of the simplest realities of life is that the person who pays the bill is the one who makes the decisions. When that person is you, you decide. When the payer is a state collective, the collective decides. And you obey....

So, Obama got his ideas by palling around with radical communist revolutionaries of the 60s. Obama chose these radicals as mentors and friends. Obama's own parents were from the same mold as well. Happy socialists all.

John McCain spent a good deal of his adult life with radical socialists too. Five and a half years to be precise. Only McCain got his education on the merits of communism from inside one of their "utopian" cells under force.

Shiver includes this brilliant quote from C. S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Michael Spencer considers his options in the voting booth:

As an evangelical, I'm interested in a lot of issues. But I also want someone who will simply run the country as a conservative with conservative principles.

I just don't buy John McCain as a conservative. I don't trust him to run his presidency from conservative principles.

So is Obama so bad, so potentially radical, so secretly corrupt, so inexperienced and so ambitious that I should vote for McCain anyway?

Maybe. The Chosen One frightens me. All the signals I look for are deeply negative. I don't see personal integrity. I hear manipulative rhetoric. I hear a lot of lies about personal associations. I see little respect for individualism. I hear a lot of serious flirtation with socialism and Marxism. I hear rookie arrogance on foreign policy. I hear promises we can't afford and a complete dedication to the use of racial politics to accumulate and use power. I feel a distressing lack of seriousness about the presidency and nothing that impresses me as statesmanship.

I see charisma, intellect, opportunism, a lack of candor and a vast ocean of manipulative rhetoric.

Finally, long-time newspaperman Michael Malone is trying to understand why so many of his colleagues are so obviously "in the tank" for Obama. He concludes with a fascinating but plausible theory. He looks not to the reporters, but to the editors, who may think they have found a way to keep their jobs in the face of their industry's decline:

Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you've spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power ... only to discover that you're presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn't have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you'll lose your job before you cross that finish line, 10 years hence, of retirement and a pension....

With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it's all for the good of the country ...

(Via Pretty Numbers.)

All you folks who have been asking me about the state questions and the judicial retention ballot -- here you go. My extra piece in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly is about Oklahoma's four state questions and retention votes for some of our supreme court and appeals court judges. In a nutshell, vote yes on all the state questions, and vote no on all the judges, particularly Civil Appeals Court Judge Jane Wiseman.

The Cityscope column proper is about the City of Tulsa street tax again, with a summary of the responses I received from the Tulsa Public Works Department, a summary of the case the Papa Bear proponents are making against the Mama Bear plan, and how County Assessor Ken Yazel's proposal fits in with all this.

New city reporter Brandon Honig debuts in the current issue, with a solid story about the Tulsa Development Authority and its problems with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. And Natasha Ball has a lovely story about the Remingtons, a couple who adopted a family of five siblings early this year.

Later, I'll add links to this entry to background info on the judges and state questions. But this'll have to do for now.

There is so much happening and so little time to comment, so here are a few local links of interest:

Bubbaworld has questions about the $135 million in unspent funds from past City of Tulsa sales taxes and bond issues:

In what bank(s) are these surplus funds deposited?

Are the taxpayers of Tulsa earning a reasonable interest on these surplus tax revenues, some of which have apparently been "laying around" since the 1970's?

Who has ultimate control of this $135 million "slush fund"?

And most importantly, why when this much surplus tax revenue was available have Tulsans been asked time and again to approve new and additional tax increases for a variety of purposes?

We learn today that Tulsa County Commission candidate Karen Keith is indeed a member, as we suspected, of the JBS. That's the Jim Burdge Society. The campaign consultant is on Keith's payroll, along with former District 6 City Councilor Art Justis. As I wrote in last week's UTW:

Keith's decision to hire Jim Burdge as her campaign consultant further undercuts her squeaky-clean image. Burdge is renowned in political circles for his slimy, underhanded, and often clumsy attacks on his clients' opponents. As the consultant of choice to the development industry lobby, Burdge led the disastrous 2005 recall campaign against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and the even more disastrous opposition to the [zoning protest] petition charter amendment.

Keith's selection of Burdge, like her enthusiastic embrace of Bob Dick's endorsement, doesn't speak well of her judgment.

Keith also got two big checks from the development industry: $5,000 from the Realtors PAC and $2,000 from a group associated with the state home builders association.

Jenn at Green Country Values reports that a Gold Star mom named Angelia Phillips is upset at Andrew Rice, Democrat candidate for Senate. Rice has a "tribute" on his website to her son Michael Phillips and other Oklahomans killed in action in Iraq. Mrs. Phillips considers it an insult, not a tribute, because of Rice's stand against the war. She wrote:

My husband and I believe strongly that if you do not support the troops AND their mission then any "tribute" you might make on their behalf is hollow and nothing more than a scoreboard.

She has asked the Rice campaign to remove her son's name from the website, and the campaign has refused. She intended to ask Rice personally today at a scheduled campaign appearance, but he was a no-show.

Steven Roemerman does a fact check on U. S. Rep. John Sullivan's latest ad about his carpetbagging opponent and finds it factual.

As always, Mike McCarville is the go-to guy on Oklahoma politics. His latest stories include an item on all the money trial lawyers are dumping into Nancy Riley's SD 37 re-election campaign. A Riley win is needed for a continued Democratic majority, which in turn would mean no tort reform. McCarville also reports a last minute $100,000 surprise attack by the Democrats on State Sen. Jim Reynolds, who is being challenged by someone named David Boren (not the David Boren).

The Peregrine Falcon has three reports from the first Ice Oilers game at the BOK Center, one about the game, one about Mayor Kathy Taylor getting booed, and one about the frustration of buying tickets. After going downtown to try to avoid a $9 per ticket fee at Homeland:

So, I get downtown, I stand in line; of which there are only two. That's right, two-lines for the single largest venue in Tulsa; TWO LINES!!! While I am waiting the person operating my line, (1 of 2) walks away. Four minutes later, I find that the section that I want is not available for this game; BOK isn't selling cheap seats (cheap at $10.00 per seat - not that cheap). However, they are willing to sell me seats twice the price. Begrudgingly I bought the tickets. Again, a fee was attached. Two dollars per ticket, to have the privilege of paying for a center that I am already paying for.

The Peregrine Falcon also links to a debunking of Barack Obama's alleged middle-class tax cut, showing that Obama's plans include four tax increases for people earning less than $250,000.

Joe Kelley has a picture of the unspeakably cute new resident of the Oklahoma Aquarium.

(I was on air with Joe this morning, about my question, "Are we really about to elect a far-left president?")

Lynn reminds us that Oklahoma's favorite son, the Anti-Bunk Party nominee in 1928, was born on Election Day and his 129th birthday will fall on Election Day 2008.

Down the 'pike, Steve Lackmeyer checks the Bricktown parking situation during the OKC Thunder's first regular season game and finds plenty of spaces.

OCPA gets a salute from Illinois for their work to let the sun shine in on Oklahoma government expenditures.

Former State Rep. Mark Liotta, currently studying for a graduate degree, is inspired by the redistributive agenda of The One, and he takes it one step beyond:

As is usually the case, I think of a good argument after class as I am driving home. In tonight's discussion of the supposed flaws in our global economy, the serious question was asked and discussed "well, what's wrong with wealth redistribution?". Some of you probably saw my jaw hit the floor. I apologize for my reaction, but I was surprised. So I tried to think of an example of wealth redistribution that we all might relate to.

At least half of the class is working very hard and deserve an "A". The rest of us have busy lives or just aren't putting in the effort, so we are working toward a "C".

Some would argue this is fair, but is it really equitable?

You "A" students certainly deserve your grade, but you really don't need an A, do you? While the rest of us "C" students, we really need at least a "B" in graduate school.

Now who's to blame for this inequity?

I would suggest the culprit is our professor. Isn't he the one who created this system that assigns grades based on effort? Shame on this grades dictatorship that does not ensure an equality of outcomes. Surely you and I could have created a system that "spreads the wealth around" and allows us to receive an equal grade with little or no effort.

In the spirit of redistribution of wealth, I propose that those of you with A's have some of your grade redistributed to those of us with C's. Now everyone will have B's. No one excels, but no one fails, either.

Now we have equity, but is that really fair?

I know this example isn't original to me, but I thought it was appropriate to our class and our times. Show me the flaw in my logic and I'll buy your lunch. And I am a free capitalist, so if I buy your lunch, it's MY money, and I will decide how to spend it on you, not you, and not the government.

MORE: Another take, via Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott, from Augusta Chronicle cartoonist Rick McKee (click for the full-size image on the Chronicle's website):


Just how in the tank is CNN for Barack Obama?

I was grabbing a late lunch at McDonald's and caught some of Rick Sanchez on CNN.

Sanchez introduced a quote by CNN commentator David Gergen (a man as squishy as the first diaper change of the day) ridiculing Joe the Plumber for making some remarks about US policy toward Israel. Rather than let the audience hear what Mr. Wurzelbacher had to say -- you know, "we report, you decide" -- Sanchez let the audience hear Squishy Dave express astonishment at the very idea that someone like Wurzelbacher would express an opinion on such an issue. For the record, here's what happened:

Wurzelbacher was hitting the campaign trail on behalf of McCain for the first time, joining former Rep. Rob Portman on a GOP bus tour through Ohio.

At a stop in Columbus, he fielded the question on Israel from a self-identified Jewish senior citizen.

The questioner said he was "concerned" with Barack Obama's associations and "It's my belief that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."

Wurzelbacher responded: "I do know that."

The questioner then complained about Obama's tax policies and reiterated his Israel comment.

"Well, you know what, I'll actually go ahead and agree with you on that one," Wurzelbacher said. "You know ... no, I agree with ya.'"

Wearing an obnoxious smirk, Sanchez told the audience that because Joe Wurzelbacher ("Joe the Plumber") had now thrust himself into the public eye, by doing interviews and making public appearances in support of John McCain, roto-rooting into his private affairs by the mainstream media (and, one assumes, Ohio public officials) was retroactively justified. He then ran through the canonical list of misleading factoids intended to distract from Obama's answer to the question Wurzelbacher asked when Obama wandered into his driveway.

Never, at any time in this segment, did Sanchez remind the audience what Barack Obama said to Joe the Plumber that created a national stir: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Who Joe Wurzelbacher is doesn't change what Obama said.

Here's the sequence of events, Rick, in case you've forgotten:

  1. Obama, out campaigning, approaches Wurzelbacher, who was out in his yard.

  2. Wurzelbacher asks a question about Obama's tax policy.

  3. Obama gives his "spread the wealth around" reply.

  4. Obama's answer gets national attention.

  5. Obama operatives and the mainstream media (I repeat myself) begin to "vet" Wurzelbacher.

  6. After being kicked around by the Left, Wurzelbacher decides to support McCain.

  7. Wurzelbacher campaigns for McCain in Ohio.

Chicago public radio station WBEZ has posted MP3s of then State Sen. Barack Obama's appearance on four editions of their public affairs program Odyssey. This includes several controversial remarks by Obama, frequently heard over the past few days, about flaws in the U. S. Constitution and how to bring about "economic justice" and "redistributive change." At the link above, you can also click to listen to the original Real Audio files.

Wealth_Spread_220.jpgI applaud WBEZ for making this information more easily available. Obama has such a thin paper trail, these discussions provide valuable insight into his ideology, his understanding of the proper role of government.

(I also applaud them for keeping seven-year old archives of programs available to the public. Too often, radio and TV stations purge their online archives after a change in website structure or a change in on-air personnel, and valuable historical material is lost.)

Several comments on the above post called for WBEZ to demand, under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), that YouTube take down the videos containing excerpts from the show. Acting program director Steve Edwards explained why they declined to do this:

Some of you have inquired as to why we didn't request a takedown notice for the YouTube video. Here's the deal: As an organization we strive to be an impeccable source of independent, unbiased news and information. While our audio content in this case was excerpted and repackaged in way that wasn't in keeping with our own editorial standards, the source audio was available to others on the web and its use in this case was within generally acceptable fair use provisions. Thus, we didn't have any clear legal claim to intervene one way or the other. And more importantly, to do so would have been tantamount to intervening on behalf of the Obama campaign. To take actions that could be construed as helping either campaign (Obama's or McCain's) is contrary to our own standards of reporting in an unbiased and independent manner. Instead, we believed the best approach was simply to make available the original source of the audio - in its entirety - for others to listen to themselves and to decide what Senator Obama said and meant.

Good on WBEZ.

(You can read my comments on Obama's January 18, 2001, Odyssey appearance -- with the discussion of "redistributive change" -- here. Image above is from The People's Cube.)

Ace has some helpful things to say (sprinkled as always with words that would make a sailor blush, so be advised) about the Republican Party's failures to plug in effectively to what the conservative blogosphere has to offer. He wants to get bloggers engaged in candidate recruitment, finding non-traditional candidates -- retired military, doctors, farmers, teachers, businessmen -- encouraging them to run and helping to connect them to the resources they need to run and win.

The Democrats have their recruitment pipeline-- lawyers, bureaucrats. The GOP has a much bigger and better talent pool, but we don't exploit it.

I'm not sure why. I think it's because so many people assume, "Gee, I could never do that."

Well, of course you could. If the Democrats can put up one hack lawyer after another, why isn't a Master Sergeant war hero a good candidate?

We need an army of Sarah Palins in 2010.

Look at Joe the Plumber. Pretty sharp guy. pretty likable. He doesn't have the alleged credentials to be a Congressmen -- by which I mean he's not a hack trial lawyer or sub-bureaucrat at the Department of Cutting Checks for People Who Don't Work. So what? He's got what it takes -- he's bright, politically interested, presentable, and, if he does decide to run, backed by a major political party.

I think an awful lot of people fit this profile.

Especially military men and women.

For God's sakes, guys: You know you have a better than even chance of winning just by showing up?

Think about it as just a slightly distasteful new tour of service. One one hand, you'll be surrounded by mutants and halfwits. On the other hand, no one will be shooting at you and there will be lots of free barbecue and (weak) chicken cordon blue.

That is, by the way, how the Oklahoma Republican Party, under Chairman Gary Jones' leadership, has succeeded in winning legislative seats in traditionally Democratic rural/small town districts. They found Republicans who were known as community leaders, not political figures, and gave them the training and access to the campaign support network they needed for a successful run. As a result, Republicans control the State House and are poised to take over the State Senate.

Ace wants to be able to call attention to and rally support for candidates in key congressional races, but for that to happen, the GOP should keep conservative bloggers in the loop and actually solicit our ideas:

Not to overstate my importance, but the internet is a huge fundraising and name-recognition machine. Honestly, the GOP should have us on conference calls every week.

Not for [b.s.] getting-the-message out. They do that. And we do get the message out.

But to be more involved in this. As in, making some decisions and offering input.

Personally the prospect of yet another conference call where I get the talking points I already knew (based on common sense) and was already getting out anyway isn't all that appealing.

Ace links to John Hawkins of Right Wing News, who writes that Republican operatives don't get what blogs could do for them:

The bad news is that the Republican Party looks at bloggers solely as an alternative means to get their message out. In other words, there's a completely non-functional top down organizational structure. It's non-functional because the Republican Party organizations and pols issue talking points and press releases, most of which are of no interest to bloggers, and they are largely ignored. In other words, they spend most of their time issuing unheeded orders to people who, by and large, think they're incompetent and aren't inclined to pay much attention to what they say....

That's a real shame because had they listened to bloggers, most of the big political snafus of the last four years could have been avoided. However, they pay zero attention to things they're told by bloggers, even on the rare occasions when they ask what we think.

Just to give you an example of what I'm talking about, here's a generic conversation, some variation of which I've had with different congressional aides at least half-a-dozen times over the last four years.

Anonymous Aide: Hawkins, I want to ask your advice.
John Hawkins: Shoot.
Anonymous Aide: We're thinking about doing idea x.
John Hawkins: Are you out of your mind? That's going to be a disaster!
Anonymous Aide: Well, they've already decided to do it. How do we sell it to the bloggers?
John Hawkins: You're asking me whether you should put mayonnaise or mustard on a sh*t sandwich. I can give you some advice, but it's not going to go over well no matter how you spin it.

Inevitably, it doesn't sell -- which cuts to the heart of the problem the GOP has with bloggers: they need to have conversations with bloggers instead of just viewing us as another part of the message machine....

What the GOP needs to realize is that bloggers, some of the better ones anyway, tend to have their fingers on the pulse of conservatism.... The Republican Party should pick up the phone and call Erick Erickson, Ace, or Michelle Malkin and ask them what the conservative reaction is going to be BEFORE the GOP makes yet another blunder instead of trying to do damage control afterwards. It would make a lot more sense.

Hawkins has much more worth pondering about how the left and right sides of the blogosphere compare in presence and enthusiasm -- and how the left has overtaken the right over the last few years -- why conservative bloggers are bad at fundraising and generating online activity, and how conservative old media institutions and donors could help grow a conservative blogosphere.

It just hit me tonight.

If the Democratic nominee were Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer, Charles Rangel, or any other left-wing congressman from a left-leaning part of the country, he or she wouldn't stand a chance, not even in a bad year for Republicans. These politicians have never had to moderate their views to win election, the way their brethren in the rural south or west have. However freaky-left they want to be, their constituencies are just as far out there.

Obama_RedArmy.gifBarack Obama is cut from the same cloth. All of his close friends and mentors have been far-left radicals. He won a state senate seat in a heavily Democratic area (eliminating his opponents from the ballot), then swept to a U. S. Senate victory after his primary and general election opponents were driven out of the race by embarrassing and appalling revelations about their private lives. Obama has never before had to compete for the votes of moderate to conservative voters.

Obama is farther left than George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, John Kerry, and Al Gore, all of whom were too far left for a majority of the national electorate.

So why is Obama succeeding where Pelosi et al. would have failed? Let's assume that the media would have been just as in the tank for another Democratic nominee. Where's the difference?

(1) No paper trail. His lack of legislative accomplishments works to his advantage here, as any substantive legislative achievement would almost certainly have been abhorrent in the eyes of middle America.

(2) His cool demeanor and professorial tone of voice doesn't set off alarm bells the way the shrill and strident tones of a typical left-wing moonbat does. The ideas are the same, but the delivery is smoother.

The poster above, and the skinny piggy bank poster below are from The People's Cube, a website that had its origins in the Communists for Kerry movement of 2004, a satirical look at the similarities between left-wing American policies and those of the former Soviet Union.

Google loves me, which is nice, but sometimes Google loves me too much.

I received word from the Tulsa County Election Board that voters were finding (via Google) my 2004 pre-election entry about early voting. Some of these voters didn't notice the date on the entry and came to the conclusion that early voting was possible today. Not so.

(These must be the same folks who forward e-mails which warn of something bad happening "tomorrow" or "next Monday," and they never look for a date when the original message was sent.)

Here's a repeat of that entry, but updated for 2008:

You can go here to look at a sample ballot for your precinct. Each ballot will be double-sided. The front will vary based on the which legislative and county commission district a precinct is in. The back of the ballot will have the state questions and judicial retention questions and will be the same in every precinct statewide. A separate ballot will be given to residents in the City of Tulsa, containing the two street funding propositions, one for a sales tax and one for a

Don't know your precinct? Go to the precinct locator, enter your address, and you'll be shown the precinct number, all the applicable district numbers, a picture of the polling place, a link to a MapQuest map of the polling place's location, and a number to call if you run into problems.

You can vote "absentee in person" at the County Election Board HQ at 555 N. Denver, this Friday, October 31, 2008, from 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday, November 1, 2008, from 8 am to 1 pm, and Monday, November 3, 2008, 8 am to 6 pm. (Every county election board in Oklahoma offers the same early voting hours.)

(Now if we could just have past election results online, I'd be thrilled.)

You may have already heard the promos, but in case you haven't:

I'll be part of News Talk 740 KRMG's election night coverage, keeping an eye on local races and on listener comments submitted via Internet chat on KRMG.com. Joe Kelley will anchor the coverage, Elaine Dodd and Don Burdick will provide updates from the watch parties, and I'll be in studio monitoring precinct-by-precinct results as they come in, looking for an early read on the trends.

KRMG's coverage begins at 6 pm. I'll miss being at the GOP watch party, but I'm excited to be a part of KRMG's election night team.

Obama's answer to Joe Wurzelbacher was no fluke. He's been talking about "spread[ing] the wealth around" for a long time.

On January 18, 2001, then Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama participated in a panel discussion on civil rights and constitutional law on Odyssey, a public affairs program on Chicago public radio station WBEZ.

The discussion deals with Supreme Court intervention in legislative acts. Obama had some interesting things to say about the court and redistribution of wealth. The Power Line news forum has the transcript and the link to a YouTube video embedding the key quotes.

OBAMA: If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I'd be okay.

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, it says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted. One of the I think tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributed change and in some ways we still suffer from that.

Support Class Envy!It's clear that in Obama's mind, the civil rights movement was right to work to "bring about redistributed change"; their mistake was to expect the court to do that, rather than pursuing "political and community organizing and activities on the ground" to accomplish it through the legislative branch.

He's not explicit about it, but it appears he thinks it's a deficiency that the Warren court didn't interpret the Constitution as saying "what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf."

The lead-in to that quote was another panelist talking about using the "due process" clause to pursue redistribution of wealth through the courts. It comes at about 39 minutes into the program.

Later in the program, a caller asks Obama to expand on his point about the Warren court and "redistributive change":

MODERATOR: Let's talk with Karen. Good morning, Karen, you're on Chicago Public Radio.

KAREN: Hi. The gentleman made the point that the Warren court wasn't terribly radical with economic changes. My question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work economically and is that that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place - the court - or would it be legislation at this point?

OBAMA: Maybe I'm showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor, but I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn't structured that way.

You just look at very rare examples during the desegregation era the court was willing to for example order changes that cost money to a local school district. The court was very uncomfortable with it. It was very hard to manage, it was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.

The court's just not very good at it and politically it's very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard. So I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally. Any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.

Obama's comments on the Bush v. Gore case are interesting, too. He suggests, admiringly, that the Florida court acted in that case much like the Warren court had in the 1960s in the way they interpreted the state's election laws.

(Via Ace of Spades HQ, where you can watch a YouTube video with the key excerpts.)

MORE: The Daily Telegraph has an apt summary: "Although his remarks were heavily analytical and academic, he spoke warmly of the notion of redistributing wealth, suggesting that there were other vehicles than the courts to achieve it."

According to an interview in the Alva Review-Courier, Sen. Jim Inhofe had a run-in 25 years ago with the organization at the center of a nationwide voter fraud scandal.

It was 25 years ago, and there were ACORN protesters on then-Mayor Jim Inhofe's front lawn. The protest had to do with housing for Cuban refugees. The protesters were threatening his wife and children.

He told them, "Get off my property or I'll kill you all." They split.

Clarity of intention, clarity of expression: More reasons why Oklahomans love Jim Inhofe.

Via Ace, whose commenters are appreciative:

"I already sent him campaign money. Looks like I'll need to check the deep recesses of the couch again."

"I think most of us Oklahomans might wonder why he warned them first."

"Elegant in its simplicity and clarity."

"We are going to need a bunch of guys like this, guys with a lot of intestinal fortitude, in the next session of Congress."

"Inhofe knows global warming is b---s---. Not afraid to cap a few ACORN a--h---s. Why isn't this man running for President with Sarah?"

"I have 'Inhofe' and 'Coburn' tattooed on my knuckles, right and left, respectively. Scares the bejeezus out of
potential attackers."

"Eloquent and to the point. He would make a great Secretary of State in a McCain administration. That could be his first speech to the United Nations. 'Get off my property or I'll kill you all.'"

"Sometime in the 90's... Inhofe dead-sticked a landing in his private plane after, get this... prop fell off."

See-Dubya wrote:

"When I was still in diapers, I was out campaigning for that man. Umm, I mean before 2002. He ran for governor once, or maybe state Senate, long time ago." (Inhofe was the Republican nominee for governor in 1974, his first statewide race. He was a State Senator before that.)

Today I received via GT Bynum some responses from the Tulsa Public Works Department to the questions I asked in my October 15 column on the street sales tax and bond issue vote. It will take me some time to process all this, but in the meantime I wanted you to have the chance to read it. It's long, so you'll have to click below to read the whole thing. Here are the questions that were answered:

1) Question: Will the City aggressively advertise contracting opportunities to out-of-area firms so we can have a more robust competition for road work?

2) Question: Will the City do a better job of coordinating projects with ODOT, so the City doesn't snarl alternate routes while ODOT is working on a freeway?

3) Question: I see money in the package for rebuilding streets, as we've been doing. But where is the money for paving, crack sealing, milling and overlay? Is there adequate money in this package for the preventative maintenance we haven't been doing?

This is not an original thought. I know I've seen a form of this question asked, more than once, on some blog somewhere.

We know that Barack Obama has had among his close associates and mentors a number of radical leftists: His father, his stepfather, his father-figure mentor "Frank" in Hawaii, his roommate at Columbia, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers (who babysat his children, arranged for his job with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and very possibly ghost-wrote his first memoir) -- the list goes on and on.

So here's my question: Is there any conservative close friend or mentor or teacher in Barack Obama's history to act as a counterweight, to temper the influence of all these socialist father figures? Any influence in the direction of the benefits of capitalism, the disasters wrought by central control, the importance of the liberties that evolved through the English common law and became our founding principles?

We know he can discuss Niebuhr at the drop of a hat. Is he conversant with Adam Smith? Milton Friedman? Friederich Hayek? Has he read de Tocqueville?

Much has been written about presumed lack of intellectual curiosity on the part of Sarah Palin. Has Obama had the intellectual curiosity to explore conservative thought? Has he been open to understanding the equally authentically African-American but very different experiences of Clarence Thomas?

Leaving aside the realm of the intellect, what about experience that might temper his redistributionist proclivities? Obama has spent his entire professional life as a community agitator, an attorney, or a politician. Has he ever been closely connected with someone who owned and operated a small business or a farm? Is there a "Joe the Plumber" anywhere in his experience? Has he been close to anyone who has built a business from scratch, using hard work, ingenuity, and ambition to grow it and become successful? Has he been close to someone whose ambitions have been stymied by burdensome government?

Finally, is there anything or anyone in Obama's experience that attaches him emotionally to this country? All of his close associates are disaffected, alienated, even hostile to America as it is. He chose to detach himself from the "middleclassness" of his "typical white" grandparents and to attach himself to the grievance industry. Is there any heretofore unknown mentor or close friend whose influence on Obama would temper or moderate the influence of his known associates?

Christopher Buckley has written glowingly about Obama's intellect. Intellect by itself is nothing without the raw materials of facts and ideas and first principles which intellect processes to come to conclusions. Is there anything of a conservative or traditionalist nature in Obama's inner repository?

Is there anything in his formative influences, anything ingrained into his temperament, that would act as an internal brake against radical policies?

"When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." - Barack Obama

Congressional Democrats agree:

Powerful House Democrats are eyeing proposals to overhaul the nation's $3 trillion 401(k) system, including the elimination of most of the $80 billion in annual tax breaks that 401(k) investors receive.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-California, and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, are looking at redirecting those tax breaks to a new system of guaranteed retirement accounts to which all workers would be obliged to contribute.

A plan by Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic-policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, contains elements that are being considered. She testified last week before Miller's Education and Labor Committee on her proposal....

Under Ghilarducci's plan, all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest 5 percent of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay 3 percent a year, adjusted for inflation.

So, while the Republicans proposed allowing workers to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in the market, with the potential of higher returns on investment over the long haul, the Democrats want to force workers to invest a portion of their 401(k)s into government accounts with no potential for higher returns.

I found this via James Taranto's Best of the Web. (Taranto was on the Pat Campbell Show this morning).

Ghilarducci outlined her plan last year in a paper for the left-liberal Economic Policy Institute, in which she acknowledges that her plan would amount to a tax increase on workers making more than $75,000--considerably less than the $250,000 Barack Obama has said would be his tax-hike cutoff. In addition, workers would be able to pass on only half of their account balances to their heirs; presumably the government would seize the remaining half. (Under current law, 401(k) balances are fully heritable, although they are subject to the income tax.)

Do you really want to turn this sort of thinking loose on Washington with no check, no balance?

RELATED: A friend sends along a "friend of a friend" anecdote:

Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient needed money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

If you have any interest at all in fixing up older buildings (even if you don't think of them as particularly historic), visiting and promoting historic landmarks, economic revitalization of small towns and rural areas, walkable communities, "green" buildings, infill that respects existing development -- if you like pecans or fudge or Frankoma pottery -- if you want to connect with fellow Tulsans interested in protecting and preserving our great neighborhoods or our classic downtown and midtown buildings -- if you'd love to support preservation while winning a weekend away in a historic hotel -- if you want to learn how lasers are used to support restoration of historic buildings -- if you are interested in a degree program in preservation (or know someone who is) -- if you want to visit with the architects converting the Atlas Life Building into a Courtyard by Marriott -- if you want to know what communities across the country are doing to turn history into economic development ....

You need to come down to the Tulsa Convention Center on Friday, between 9 and 5, to spend some time at the exhibit hall for the National Preservation Conference. It's free and open to the public, and it's a great way to learn a lot. Friday between 9 and 5 is your last opportunity to see the exhibits. Yes, it would be nice if they had evening or weekend hours, but they don't. Come on your lunch hour, have a look around, and meet fellow Tulsans and people from across America with an interest in preservation.

The 2008 National Preservation Conference is underway right here in Tulsa.

On Wednesday some conventioneers took buses to field sessions here in Tulsa and around northeastern Oklahoma, while others attended panel discussions and workshops on various topics related to historic preservation. Late in the afternoon was the opening plenary session, held at First Presbyterian Church.

Coming up today, tomorrow, and Saturday, there are some open-to-the-public opportunities worth your time and interest:

Thursday, 6 pm to 7 pm: The National Preservation Awards ceremony, at Will Rogers High School, 3909 E. 5th Pl., one of our somewhat hidden Art Deco treasures.

Friday, 5:45 to 6:45 pm: A lecture by Route 66 sherpa Michael Wallis on the "Romance of the Mother Road," at First United Methodist Church, 10th & Boulder, downtown.

Saturday, 10:30 am to noon: Closing plenary session, in the assembly hall of the Tulsa Convention Center, featuring talks by art historian Nell Irvin Painter and Anthony Tung, author of Preserving the World's Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis

The exhibit hall, at the Convention Center, is also free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Exhibitors include universities with degree programs related to historic preservation, booksellers, companies that make building products used in restorations, government agencies, consulting firms, and non-profit groups.

Many of the exhibitors are from Tulsa and the surrounding region, so it's an opportunity to connect with others who are engaged in preserving our irreplaceable places. A partial list of local exhibitors:

Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods of Tulsa
The Coury Collection
Frankoma Pottery
Brown Mansion, Coffeyville, Kans.
Tulsa City-County Library System
Yellow Pad, Inc.
Saline Preservation Association, Pryor, Okla.
Oklahoma Route 66 Association
Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Dept.
Oklahoma Main Street Center
Loman Studios (stained glass)
MATRIX Architects Engineers Planners
Guthrie Chamber of Commerce
GH2 Architects
Cherokee Nation
Bryant Pecan Co.

I'll add links later. You can see a full list of exhibitors in the conference program, beginning on p. 54 (3 MB PDF).

Finally, there may still be some tickets available for purchase for some of Saturday's field sessions and events. Even if you're a lifelong Tulsan, you'll learn new things about your city on these tours.

I took the Tulsa Art Deco tour on Tuesday afternoon. The tour included an inside look at the fascinating house Bruce Goff designed for Adah Robinson at the corner of 11th Pl. and Owasso Ave., an all-too-brief stop at the Tulsa Historical Society (which has a fascinating exhibit on Tulsa in the 1920s), and a reception in the lobby of the ONG Building on the NW corner of 7th and Boston. The Hille Foundation owns the building and is exploring plans to convert the upper floors into condominium lofts, as a real estate investment for the foundation. The building is a beautiful example of late '20s zigzag deco, and it was exciting to get a look inside. This would be the first condominium conversion of a downtown office building.

Staffers with the National Trust for Historic Preservation have been blogging about their experiences in Tulsa on the Preservation Nation blog. Here's an account of the Sacred Spaces bus tour, which included a number of downtown churches, Temple Israel, and the Oral Roberts University campus.

MORE: Ron of Route 66 News has found much of interest at the conference, including a seminar on the preservation of neon signage.

Steve Roemerman has a detailed report from Tuesday night's debate between Tulsa County Commission District 2 candidates Sally Bell (R) and Karen Keith (D).

Steve reports that Keith claimed the sad state of Tulsa streets was because of "failed tax initiatives." I challenge Karen Keith to name one street-related tax initiative (general obligation bond issue or sales tax) that has failed in the last quarter-century in Tulsa.

My column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly further explores the contrasting political philosophies of Karen Keith and Sally Bell.

The County Commission race was also a topic of conversation in my debate with former Tulsa County Democratic Party chairman Elaine Dodd, the cover story in this week's UTW. We also chatted about the presidential, U. S. Senate, and U. S. House races, and the State Senate District 37 race between incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat Nancy Riley and Republican challenger Dan Newberry.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Republican nominee Dana Murphy responded today to attack ads from her Democratic opponent, appointed incumbent Jim Roth. Murphy reminded voters about Roth's cozy relationship with the head of a major energy company regulated by the OCC.

Jim Roth is a desperate, frightened man. As almost half of Oklahomans know, divorce is an ugly, horrible thing and sadly, it brings out the absolute worst in people. My opponent is bringing up allegations against me from a 15 year old divorce case because he cannot match my qualifications for this job.

Let's set the record straight once and for all. I have never been charged with or convicted of forgery or any other crime. Period.

These last minute smear tactics are reminiscent of the schoolyard bully ambushing kids on the playground.

The people of Oklahoma deserve better.

This smear campaign is costing big bucks.

The real question here is where are the hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from that are being used to smear me? From campaign contributions by powerful special interest groups outside and inside the State who want their lapdog at the Commission looking out for their interests, not the interests of all Oklahomans.

Roth has proven to be that lap dog.

Roth is panicked because this is the best job that he has ever had. He has no place else to go. When he loses this election, it will only be a matter of time before he has a job with one of those special interest groups contributing the big bucks to support his campaign.

It is not a coincidence that Jim Roth has as his campaign chair, a man who received amazing benefits as a result of his contributions.

First, the Red Rock Power Plant decision. That was a done deal as soon as Roth was appointed to the OCC.

Second, when a tree farm (owned by Aubrey McClendon in Arcadia) needed a road and a bridge, it was Roth who made sure it was paid for by taxpayers.

The list of favors for special interests goes on and on.

I have the education, the experience and the qualifications earned during a 15-year career in the oil and gas industry and almost six years as a Law Judge at the Corporation Commission. I have forgotten more about the oil and gas industry than he will ever know and Jim Roth knows it. His special interest supporters know it too and they are scared to death.

My only special interest group is everyday Oklahomans who need a watchdog on the Commission, not a lapdog.

There are 12 days left in this election, I have run a clean campaign focused on the issues and my qualifications for office.

I see no reason to change that strategy.

If Mr. Roth wants to run a dirty campaign, wallow in the mud and sling it - that's his choice.

Mr. Roth's mudslinging has given Oklahomans a clearcut choice as to who they want for Corporation Commissioner.

They can have someone like him, a mudslinging bureaucratic lapdog or they can have me, someone who shares their conservative Oklahoma values and has the experience and qualifications to do the best job for all Oklahomans at the Corporation Commission."

(Via McCarville.)

MORE: Jenn of Green Country Values analyzes Roth's out-of-state political contributions and has the latest on the billions of dollars that Roth's decisions have cost Oklahoma utility ratepayers.

Sen. Joe Biden has predicted that the callow youth at the top of his ticket would be tested by a "generated" international crisis, which, just as John F. Kennedy, whose obvious weakness gave Khrushchev the all-clear to wall off Berlin and plant missiles in Cuba, did, Obama will royally screw up.

(As Rush Limbaugh was saying today, isn't the whole world supposed to love us again if we elect Obama? Why should anyone expect him to be challenged by the bad guys, since there aren't any bad guys in the world, just people who are understandably enraged that America has yet to overthrow Chimpy McBushitler?)

Biden mentioned four or five scenarios, which inspired Gov. Sarah Palin to imagine what those five crises might be:

(Video after the jump.)

Monday evening I attended a debate at All Souls Unitarian Church, hosted by the League of Women Voters. I suspect most of the people in the room were supporters either of the Republican nominee, Sally Bell, or the Democratic nominee, Karen Keith. Although I had expected the venue to be a friendlier environment for Keith, judging by the applause about two-thirds of the audience seemed to be there to support Bell, and I thought Keith seemed a bit rattled as a consequence.

Both candidates hit their core themes: Bell focused on basic infrastructure, public safety, and limited government; Keith kept going back to Vision 2025 and Four to Fix the County and the county's role in economic development.

I will be uploading audio, although it will take a while. Watch this space.

UPDATE: Had some Internet problems at home tonight, but here is the MP3 file for the debate It is a 9 MB MP3 file and runs about 75 minutes. I had to hold the recorder, so you'll hear some periodic rustling, but it's better than nothing. There is also a break about 64 minutes in, where I stopped and restarted the recorder out of fear that the battery was about to go.

MORE: There's a rumble in Red Fork tonight, Tuesday, October 21, at 7 p.m. Bell and Keith will debate at the Red Fork Church of God, 3319 W. 41st St.

This week's cover story in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a profile of Tulsa's growing blogging community. The piece features:

Dan Paden's No Blog of Significance

Jeff Shaw's Bounded Rationality, which is celebrating its second anniversary. (Congratulations, Jeff!)

Emily Priddy's Red Fork State of Mind and Indie Tulsa, her husband Ron Warnick's Route 66 News, and their blog about "green" living, the House of the Lifted Lorax.

Irritated Tulsan's Irritated Tulsan

Alternative Tulsan's Alternative Tulsa

Last but not least, Natasha Ball's Tasha Does Tulsa, who regularly puts the lie to the oft-heard whine that "there's nothing to do in Tulsa." There was a very sweet and touching quote from Natasha in the story:

Many local bloggers herald UTW's own Michael Bates' "Batesline" as the gold standard of Tulsa blogging. When Natasha Ball got her first congratulatory comment about her blog from Bates, Ball said, "I was elated. I danced around the living room. I even cried a little. I was star-struck, I guess. I was happy to know I would start to reach more readers, too, since several of the local bloggers with established readerships had told their subscribers about me."

There are many more Tulsa-based bloggers. I wrote about a bunch of them two and a half years ago. Commenters on this week's story have posted links to several more.

It's exciting to see Tulsa's blogging community continue to expand and diversify. The more the merrier!

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I return to the topic of the November 4 City of Tulsa street sales tax and bond issue vote, raising some questions I hope can be convincingly answered between now and election day.

In an extra op-ed, I explain why voters of all political orientations should choose the eminently qualified Dana Murphy for the two-year term seat on the Corporation Commission over appointed incumbent Jim Roth, whose personal connections and campaign finances indicate a far-too-cozy relationship with Chesapeake Energy, one of the businesses he regulates. For good measure, here's my editorial endorsing Dana Murphy in the Republican primary.

The National Preservation Conference, which comes to Tulsa next week, is making tickets for several Saturday, October 25, field sessions available to the public. There is a cost for each event, but you can sign up for these events without having to pay the conference registration fee. There are five field sessions available, all starting at 1:30 p.m. For Tulsans, this is a great way to learn about your hometown history.

Tulsa Overview (ticket price $35) 1:30 - 5:00 p.m. From being the end point of the notorious Trail of Tears, to railroad and market town serving surrounding cattle ranches, to thriving oilboom city -- Tulsa has a diverse and vibrant history. See how all these influences still resonate in modern-day Tulsa. Featured sites include Gilcrease Museum, Roosevelt School, Tulsa's oldest house, Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa Union Depot, Williams Technology Center (HOK), and the Tulsa Municipal Building (Old City Hall).

Downtown Tulsa Safari (ticket price $20)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Lions and tigers and... dolphins? Pigs and turkeys and buffalo, too? In downtown Tulsa? Absolutely! There's an urban jungle in the heart of the city if you know where to look. Go on an offbeat architectural safari to spot the whimsical terra cotta wildlife on Tulsa's buildings.

Going Green, Tulsa Style (ticket price $35)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
It's great to be green in Tulsa. See some recent renovations of older buildings that have made concern for the environment a priority: Dennis R. Neil Equality Center, the SemGroup Building, the Fire Alarm Building, and East Village.

Tulsa's Historic Gardens (ticket price $35)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Philbrook Gardens, Tulsa Rose Garden, Woodward Park, and Swan Lake are just some of the special spots to be visited or viewed. Find out how Tulsa's most renowned horticultural attractions were developed from pastures, farmland, and a Creek Indian allotment.

Mid-Century Tulsa: Back to the Future! (ticket price $35)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Celebrate Tulsa's mid-century homes of the Future. Featuring mid-century neighborhoods such as Lortondale and Ranch Acres, see how residents have worked diligently to restore the architecture of their homes and their communities. Creative marketing, community education and sheer determination have created a mid-century feeding frenzy with homes being snatched up by design savvy and preservation-minded buyers.

The public may also buy tickets ($75 each) for the closing party at Cain's Ballroom, featuring western swing legends Asleep at the Wheel.

All of the above tickets will be for sale during normal business hours at the National Preservation Conference registration desk in the Tulsa Convention Center.


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Until recently, Democratic 1st District Congressional nominee Georgianna Oliver proudly boasted the endorsement of ACORN, the left-wing organization in the news recently in connection with fraudulent voter registration activities in numerous swing states. It was the top of her "professional endorsements" page. Mad Okie noticed that that endorsement had vanished for some reason, but he was able to capture a screenshot from Google's cache. He was also able to capture the PDF directly from the website before it was removed from the oliverforcongress.com website, a brief, unsigned and undated memo on ACORN VOTES letterhead from Patricia Walker, "North Tulsa Chapter Chairperson, ACORN Votes." The PDF file has a creation date of September 16.

The Red Dirt Report recently received an exclusive peek at an abandoned ACORN office in southern Oklahoma City:

Left hurriedly and in a shambles, the small office, coated in a layer of plaster dust, still housed computers, documents, registration forms, I-9 employment info and boxes with an IRS return address and others with a return address for an ACORN office in New Orleans.

The person working at this office, Adam Carter, had reportedly skipped town in June, according to the landlord. and in August, an ACORN representative from Tulsa came down and took more items, leaving behind what was found by Red Dirt Report. ACORN never fulfilled it's year lease for the property and never paid a dime in rent. The landlord told Red Dirt Report that the ACORN workers seemed to attract trouble and that there was something not quite right about what they were doing. The landlord also said that the aforementioned Tulsa ACORN worker, named "Brittany," said ACORN didn't have any money to pay for the rent and that Carter had depleted the South Oklahoma City ACORN account....

In fact, the evidence discovered in the abandoned office on South Robinson revealed maps of Oklahoma City broken down in House districts. Districts where a Republican won, but just barely, were highlighted. Papers related to the 2006 election results for Oklahoma were also noted.

Oklahoma City radio station KTOK reported Thursday on ACORN's brief tenure in Oklahoma City, where they attempted to get taxpayer funding for their activities:

The city received a request for the HUD money from a Matthew Eaton who represented ACORN. Internet searches reveal a Matt Eaton is the South West Development Coordinator for ACORN who described himself as an experienced grant writer and resource development coordinator. He also claimed to be 'well versed in various forms of fund raising. "I aspire to help raise enough money so ACORN offices in the Southwest will be able to establish Tax Access and Benefit Centers in each of its neighborhood locations and to register 300,000 new voters," wrote Eaton in a website description of himself and his goals.

But less than a year after asking for the HUD money,Eaton and the ACORN office in Oklahoma City were history. The city denied the funding request and other neighborhood agencies indicated they too had similar 'empty' relationships with ACORN. A spokeswoman of one such group said when they asked an ACORN official about the group's funding, they were told it could not be discussed.

(Via Green Country Values.)

MORE: In 2007, ACORN was found to have submitted more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations in King Co., Washington.

RottenACORN.com has a list and map of fraud prosecutions involving ACORN. They seem to be fond of swing states.

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit provides a "complete guide to ACORN voter fraud" on Pajamas Media.

At a campaign stop in Ohio, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called for the Obama-Biden campaign to disclose all communications between that campaign and ACORN. Hoft notes:

Barack Obama worked as a former trainer with the scandal-plagued ACORN organization. He also has a long history with the Far Left group and the group has canvassed for him this year. He represented ACORN in court. And, Obama donated $800,000 to the radical group just this year for their get out the vote efforts.

Earlier this week Palin told Obama to rein in this group of radical supporters.

In response, the Obama campaign is trying to pressure the FBI into dropping its investigation into voter fraud. The McCain campaign has fired back:

After a week of shifting stories and clumsy corrections regarding Barack Obama's connections to ACORN, the Obama campaign resorted to their now-customary heavy handed tactic of attempting to criminalize political discourse. Today's outrageous letter to Attorney General Mukasey and Special Prosecutor Dannehy at the Justice Department asking for a special prosecutor to investigate Senator McCain and Governor Palin's public statements about ACORN's record of fraudulent voter registrations (including in this week's Presidential debate) is absurd. It is a typical time-worn Washington attempt to criminalize political differences. For someone who promises 'change,' it is certainly only more of the same.

The letter's request that the Department of Justice investigate 'recent partisan Republican activities throughout the country' is almost a parody of the Obama campaign's attempt to intimidate their political opponents. In case Sen. Obama's lawyer did not notice, we are in the midst of a political campaign, not a coronation, and the alleged criminal activity he calls 'recent partisan Republican activities' are what the rest of us call campaign speeches and debates. All of this is unfortunately reminiscent of the Obama campaign's recent creation of a 'truth squad' of Missouri prosecutors and sheriffs to 'target' people who criticize Sen. Obama. Rest assured that, despite these threats, the McCain-Palin campaign will continue to address the serious issue of voter registration fraud by ACORN and other partisan groups, and compliance by states with the Help America Vote Act's requirement of matching new voter registrations with state data bases to prevent voter fraud.

If you'd like to help the rest of America see this ad -- on TV, not just the Internet -- so they can understand the role that Barack Obama and congressional Democrats played in the mortgage meltdown, please contribute to the American Issues Project

Hat tip to Ace, who urges conservatives to give to 527s who will spotlight the financial crisis.

McCain has been too gentlemanly to lay the blame for the crisis where it belongs. He was right on this issue, and he deserves credit for sounding the alarm when it mattered. Obama put a (metaphorical) pillow over his head to muffle the alarm (stuffed with all the -- metaphorical -- Benjamins he got from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), then rolled over and went back to sleep, only to call attention to the smoky smell when the roof was fully engulfed in flames. (Via Ace, again.)

If McCain and the RNC won't make the case, we should be giving money to organizations that will.

Over at Tyson Wynn's place. I'm working, but I'll chime in as I'm able.

Who Owns Tulsa? will hold its monthly meeting tonight at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Franklin Youth Academy, 1136 S. Allegheny Ave. (Allegheny is one block east of Yale.) In a press release, WOT Chairman Julie Hall describes the meeting:

The agenda will include an update on 10 N. Yale and fundraising efforts including a plan for a Poker Ride. We will have t-shirts from the first annual jam and 'Who Owns Tulsa? We do!' shirts as well as WOT window clings and signs. We will also be presenting the organizational bylaws - an initial structure to guide our efforts. Everyone is welcome to attend!

We plan to continue meeting at this location the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm so mark your calendars and become a part of the solution! Not sure about what WOT is and whether to participate? Come listen for yourself. Here's a copy of our mission:

"Who Owns Tulsa? is a non-partisan citizen's rights coalition endeavoring to increase government accountability, and ensure citizen input by unifying neighborhoods, businesses, churches and other concerned citizens. As partners in the process, Who Owns Tulsa? is committed to identifying solutions that involve all citizens equally."

The downtown Tulsa Kiwanis Club is hosting a debate between the candidates for District 2 Tulsa County Commissioner today beginning at 12:15. Republican Sally Bell will face Democrat Karen Keith. KRMG's Joe Kelley will moderate the debate, and it will be cybercast live online at krmg.com. It will also be broadcast over the airwaves tonight at 6:00 on 740 KRMG.

(Post time tweaked to keep this at the top of the blog until this evening.)

UPDATE: KRMG has posted audio of the debate in four segments.

The long-anticipated National Preservation Conference, the annual convention of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is just around the corner -- next week! -- and that's my column in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly is a preview of what Tulsans will find in the exhibit hall, field sessions, and workshops. The conference will bring about 2,000 people with an interest in preserving historic buildings to Tulsa, but Tulsans can participate as well. There's still time to register online at the pre-conference rate.

If you live in Tulsa and are interested in preserving our historic buildings, neighborhoods, and streetscapes, you should make plans to attend. Not only will you learn valuable strategies and information, you'll have the chance to connect with other Tulsans who share your concerns.

RELATED: A couple of years ago, I wrote a column about resistance by downtown property owners and Downtown Tulsa Unlamented to a set of proposals to encourage downtown preservation. That column began with a spoof letter welcoming delegates to the 2008 National Preservation Conference:

Dear Delegate, Welcome to Tulsa and the 2008 National Preservation Conference! We want to do everything we can to make your stay a pleasant and memorable one.

Tulsa is a young city, but one with a rich history. As you walk the streets of downtown, we invite you to imagine the bygone days of wildcatters and oil barons and to imagine the bygone buildings where they did their deals, dined, shopped, and were entertained.

For those of you staying at the Westin Adam's Mark Crowne Plaza whatever the heck it's called now, you're sure to enjoy the history of the walk between the Convention Center and your hotel.

Fourth Street was once Tulsa's Great White Way, home to vaudeville and cinematic spectaculars. Close your eyes and you can imagine the Ritz (southeast corner of 4th and Boulder, now a parking garage), the Majestic (southwest corner of 4th and Main, part of the same parking garage), and the Orpheum (east of Main, south of 4th, now part of one of downtown Tulsa's foremost attractions, the Big Hole in the Ground).

Don't miss the site of the Skelly Building on the northeast corner of 4th and Boulder, designed by famed architect Bruce Goff, now an exclusive deluxe gated, 12-space parking community owned by the Tulsa World.

As you head north on Main Street, you'll be awed by the Totalitarian-Moderne Tulsa World building, a design inspired by the pillbox gun emplacements built by longtime Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

Main Street dead-ends at 3rd, cut off by your hotel's conference rooms, symbolically celebrating the irreparable division between north and south Tulsa.

We hope you'll take time to get some kicks on old Route 66. 11th Street, also known as the Mother Road, is today a lovely tree-lined boulevard, no longer cluttered with unsightly old motels and diners, which were cleared out to provide an attractive approach to the gateway to the portal to the grand entrance to the University of Tulsa.

We've got an "explosive" event planned for the final night of the conference - or should we say implosive! This town will rock! Promptly at sunset, every downtown building at least 50 years old will be simultaneously demolished in a symphony of light, sound, and debris.

"Clean Slate 2008" is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Twenty-First Properties, the Tulsa World, Ark Wrecking, the Tulsa Parking Authority, and Downtown Tulsa Unlamented.

Enjoy your visit!

Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tulsa is about a half-century past due for developing a culture that supports historic preservation. I'm hoping this conference will kick-start the process.

PLANiTULSA do-over

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Catching up on links to my Urban Tulsa Weekly columns:

Last week I wrote about my experiences as a facilitator and a participant in the PLANiTULSA citywide workshop. It was exciting to see the level of enthusiasm in the room, but I came away feeling somewhat frustrated, and I'm not the only one. In the column, I make several suggestions for taking the ideas generated at the workshops and making them part of an ongoing public conversation about those ideas.

One more workshop is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, October 28. Over 300 people have already signed up. To register, visit planitulsa.org or phone 918-576-5684.

In the column, I said that we were still awaiting the publication of the full crosstabs and comments from Collective Strength's survey of a thousand Tulsans and in-depth interviews. The survey crosstabs have now been posted in the PLANiTULSA document library. Responses are split up by region of the city, income, race, age, sex, and how long the respondent has lived in Tulsa.

In addition, each question is crosstabbed against whether the respondent feels city leaders understand his or her community's needs. You can see that on the right-hand side of each page. It was interesting to see that question compared to income brackets: While a majority of respondents in each bracket disagreed with the statement, the disagreement was greatest in the $50,000 to $75,000 bracket.

A Photoshopped image purporting to be Sarah Palin's SAT report is circulating amongst the moonbats tonight. It was posted on Gawker, but Rick Paulas, Gawker's art director, has spotted several telltale signs of fakery, including the impossible variations in baselines and too-perfect kerning for the impact printers that generated SAT reports back in the early '80s.

One glaring indication of forgery: SAT scores all ended in zero in the early '80s. Scores like 416 and 425 were impossible.

The template for the forgery? Conservative, pro-life blogger Dawn Eden's SAT report, which she posted online four years ago. The faked Palin report cuts off at exactly the same vertical point, and the same scanning artifacts can be seen around the pre-printed letters and shading on both images. "Max Torque," on the Straight Dope message board has the... straight dope:

Now, compare that picture with the supposed "Palin results". Interesting, eh? First, the scanned copies are at exactly the same angle, not perfectly square with the scanner's edge. The "blocked out" bits for both copies are identical: look at the "telephone number" space, for example. The remaining dot clutter is absolutely identical in both images. The dates are identical, except that "85" was changed to "82". Interesting that the "report date" of both tests would be March 23rd; in 1985, the date on the real results form, that was a Saturday, which is a typical day for SAT testing. In 1982, the date on Palin's photoshopped form, March 23rd was a Tuesday. And the real form has the same 5-3-3-1-2-3 that appears on the altered form, in precisely the same spots in the boxes.

A few things are covered over and the form in general is blurred up some to make it look "authentic" or something, but seriously, I think this is the original scan that someone altered. Take a closer look, see if you agree. And I say all of this as someone who couldn't possibly dislike Sarah Palin any more than I already do.

(Via Ace of Spades HQ.)

Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for Oklahoma residents to register to vote for the November 4 general election. While the election board will accept registration forms by mail that have been postmarked by today, the safest way to be sure that you will get to vote on November 4 is to go to your county election board and register in person before 5 p.m.

The Tulsa County Election Board is located at 555 N. Denver Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103. The phone number is 918-596-5780.

The Oklahoma State Election Board website has a complete list of county election boards, with the phone number, address, and hours of operation for each. Please note that election boards in some rural counties close as early as 1:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Tulsa County Election Board will stay open until midnight tonight to accept last-minute registrations.

Did you know you can have over 100 tabs open in Firefox at once? When that happens, it's time to dump the links, topically if possible. Below you'll find links to some interesting, maybe useful perspective on the bailout and the financial crisis.

Yesterday in the mail, I had three new credit offers and an offer for a lower interest rate on an existing credit card. One of the offers was for a debt consolidation loan: The letter said I was pre-qualified for an amount twice the value of our home. Shouldn't I be seeing these credit offers drying up? I understand that there's a lag between Wall Street and Main Street, but I'd have thought the Main Street lenders would tighten up at the first sign of trouble on Wall Street, just as the gas stations boost prices as soon as the price of oil goes up, in anticipation of higher prices for wholesale gasoline.

Martin Feldstein on home prices and housing starts. Feldstein was Reagan's chief economic adviser in the mid '80s, and he was being interviewed on Sept. 30 on the Charlie Rose show.

ROSE: ...What do you believe could and what do you believe will not get us out of this?

FELDSTEIN: Well, I think I'd come back to the issue that it's being driven by the fall in house prices. That's making people poor and forcing them to think twice about spending. It's hurting the financial institutions. It's obviously stopped construction. Housing starts are down 40 percent from a year ago. So if we don't stop that rut, if we don't stop that decay, it's hard to see how this process stops.

House prices over shot in the up direction by some 60 percent. What's to stop them from falling 60 percent below a normal level? Nothing, if we don't find a way of stopping this process of default and foreclosure. So to me that is key to stopping this.

ROSE: And something that's not being done so far.

FELDSTEIN: And something that's not being done. I think that the Treasury proposal will help to take some of the bad impaired assets off the balance sheets. The Barney Frank-Chris Dodd legislation that was passed earlier will help some people with negative equity and are on the verge of defaulting. But none of that will stop this downward spiral in house prices that needs to be stopped. In addition to what has been done and what is proposed by the Treasury and the Congress, I think we need to do a third piece.

In the Wall Street Journal Feldstein offers his prescription:

We need a firewall to break the downward spiral of house prices. Here's how it might work. The federal government would offer any homeowner with a mortgage an opportunity to replace 20% of the mortgage with a low-interest loan from the government, subject to a maximum of $80,000. This would be available to new buyers as well as those with mortgages. The interest on that loan would reflect the government's cost of funds and could be as low as 2%. The loan would not be secured by the house but would be a loan with full recourse, allowing the government to take other property or income in the unlikely event that the individual does not pay. It would by law be senior to other unsecured debt and not eligible for relief in bankruptcy.

The individual could repay the loan at any time or could refinance the remaining loan on more favorable terms as long as the principal did not increase. A 30-year amortization of the government loan would make the payments low, and a life-insurance policy would protect taxpayers if the borrower dies before the loan is repaid. If the homeowner chooses to accept the loan, creditors would have to accept the 20% mortgage repayment, reducing the monthly payments of principal and interest by 20%.

It sounds a bit like an element of Dave Ramsey's plan.

But Ed Glaeser says we should let housing prices continue to fall:

First, the government has no business trying to make housing less affordable to ordinary Americans. Over the past 10 years, areas like New York and San Francisco, which had always been expensive, became completely out of reach. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median housing price in San Francisco was over $800,000 in 2007, and has declined to a mere $685,000 in the second quarter of 2008. The real problem is not the current price decline, but the previous price explosion.

There is no reason to hope that middle-class Americans should pay more for any basic commodity, whether that commodity is coffee or oil or housing. Government should be fighting to reduce supply-side barriers and make housing cheaper, not trying to inflate prices artificially.

ABC News reports that "After Bailout, AIG Execs Head to California Resort". And they're asking the Fed for more money.

In the Washington Post Sebastian Mallaby says we shouldn't blame deregulation:

The real roots of the crisis lie in a flawed response to China. Starting in the 1990s, the flood of cheap products from China kept global inflation low, allowing central banks to operate relatively loose monetary policies. But the flip side of China's export surplus was that China had a capital surplus, too. Chinese savings sloshed into asset markets 'round the world, driving up the price of everything from Florida condos to Latin American stocks.

That gave central bankers a choice: Should they carry on targeting regular consumer inflation, which Chinese exports had pushed down, or should they restrain asset inflation, which Chinese savings had pushed upward? Alan Greenspan's Fed chose to stand aside as asset prices rose; it preferred to deal with bubbles after they popped by cutting interest rates rather than by preventing those bubbles from inflating. After the dot-com bubble, this clean-up-later policy worked fine. With the real estate bubble, it has proved disastrous....

The appetite for toxic mortgages was fueled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the super-regulated housing finance companies. Calomiris calculates that Fannie and Freddie bought more than a third of the $3 trillion in junk mortgages created during the bubble and that they did so because heavy government oversight obliged them to push money toward marginal home purchasers. There's a vigorous argument about whether Calomiris's number is too high. But everyone concedes that Fannie and Freddie poured fuel on the fire to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

So blaming deregulation for the financial mess is misguided. But it is dangerous, too, because one of the big challenges for the next president will be to defend markets against the inevitable backlash that follows this crisis. Even before finance went haywire, the Doha trade negotiations had collapsed; wage stagnation for middle-class Americans had raised legitimate questions about whom the market system served; and the food-price spike had driven many emerging economies to give up on global agricultural markets as a source of food security. Coming on top of all these challenges, the financial turmoil is bound to intensify skepticism about markets. Framing the mess as the product of deregulation will make the backlash nastier.

We're Not Headed for a Depression - WSJ.com

So says Gary Becker, Nobel Economics prize winner and professor at the U. of Chicago. But he says to avoid future problems we need to increase capital requirements, stop the bailouts, and sell Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Perry Eidelbus says Obama's objections to McCain's mortgage plan is hypocritical:

McCain's proposal is merely an amplification, expansion, whatever you want to call it, of what the FHA is doing [as part of the big bailout plan]. If McCain's plan "won't work," then how can we expect the existing one to work when it does the same thing? Albeit on a smaller scale, and perhaps not with precisely the same details, but both have the same bottom line: Peter and Paul get to pay taxes to pay off part of Mary's mortgage, never mind that Mary alone got herself into the trouble.

The reason it won't work, the critics say, is because it will buy up or refinance homes at greater than their true value. Gee, as if the first $300 billion wasn't doing that? As if the federal government isn't already doing that with the absurd $700 billion to buy up "distressed" securities that nobody would buy at the prices the federal government is offering?

Steve Chapman :: Townhall.com :: A Rescue Plan That Didn't

You may remember that when the House of Representatives voted against the original rescue plan, it was blamed for the subsequent 778-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. This stomach-turning development was clear proof of the urgent need for the bailout.

But if a stock market's performance is the test of a policy, this one has failed. At best, the passage of the measure did no evident good. At worst, it backfired....

Instead of stimulating productive activity by removing doubt, it has impeded it by multiplying doubt. It has also encouraged lenders to hold off dealing with their bad debt in hopes of getting a better deal from the Treasury than they can dream of getting from anyone else. But postponing the banks' rendezvous with reality will not speed recovery.

Fox News: Lawmaker Accused of Fannie Mae Conflict of Interest

Unqualified home buyers were not the only ones who benefitted from Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank's efforts to deregulate Fannie Mae throughout the 1990s.

So did Frank's partner, a Fannie Mae executive at the forefront of the agency's push to relax lending restrictions.

Now that Fannie Mae is at the epicenter of a financial meltdown that threatens the U.S. economy, some are raising new questions about Frank's relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie's assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie....

The two lived together in a Washington home until they broke up in 1998, a few months after Moses ended his seven-year tenure at Fannie Mae, where he was the assistant director of product initiatives. According to National Mortgage News, Moses "helped develop many of Fannie Mae's affordable housing and home improvement lending programs."

Critics say such programs led to the mortgage meltdown that prompted last month's government takeover of Fannie Mae and its financial cousin, Freddie Mac. The giant firms are blamed for spreading bad mortgages throughout the private financial sector.

Although Frank now blames Republicans for the failure of Fannie and Freddie, he spent years blocking GOP lawmakers from imposing tougher regulations on the mortgage giants. In 1991, the year Moses was hired by Fannie, the Boston Globe reported that Frank pushed the agency to loosen regulations on mortgages for two- and three-family homes, even though they were defaulting at twice and five times the rate of single homes, respectively.

OpenMarket.org: Bash the Bailout: Government is Not the Answer

A link dump within a link dump. Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute provides links to 12 articles that explain how government intervention in markets created the crisis at hand.

The dumbest people on Earth | MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (via Kick the Anthill's "Craptacular News of the Day")

Tom and Tina have been paying on their 100k mortgage for a couple years before having trouble. The home is still worth 100k so they have a small bit of equity. If they sold, they would make a small profit maybe depending on the realtor costs. But now enter Obama's idea. The bank is told to rewrite the load as a 75K loan for 30 more years. Now Tom and Tina turn around immediately and sell the house for that 100K and make a quick 20k plus profit all courtesy of the federal government. They can and will do that over and over. The "poor" know how to game the system and exploit every dollar. This will become the new career. Defaulting on mortgages to get equity and selling for that equity.

I'm beginning to think that the dumbest people on Earth are people like me who actually pay their bills on time. I see all that is going on and I keep thinking why should we when you can apparently just walk away and have no consequences.

Casaubon's Book: Ok, Now What?
(Via Crunchy Con: Preparing for the Worst)

We're all going to need reliable sources of food. We're all going to need some transportation. We're going to need health care, and emergency services. We're all going to need good work - even if it is only for food. We're going to need ways to keep people housed, to connect folks who need homes with those who can't keep them unless they rent some space. A lot of people are going to need warm clothes and blankets. A lot of people are going to need a meal, a helping hand, help with disabled family members and elders. And folks, when the formal economy falls away, when we cannot trust our government to act in our interests, all of us have to get acting to compensate, to keep the wolf from the door. The truth is that the bailout, on one level, was the final reminder of what Hurricane Katrina taught us, that no one is coming with a helicopter to rescue us. Fortunately, some of us have boats, and the rest of us can build life rafts, and there's a lot we can do to rescue ourselves.

KunstlerCast Transcripts

And here are some comments from area bloggers:

Tyson Wynn thinks this may be an opportune time to push for the Fair Tax.

Jeff Shaw's title says it all: The Pressure to Help Low Income and Minorities. Political Promises Gone Amok and Enhanced by Greed.

The crisis has motivated Bobby Holt to blog, and he shares with us his letters to Sullivan, Coburn, & Inhofe about the bailout.

The Bill Kumpe Blog: Bailout or Not, It's Gonna Be A Blue Christmas

Ardent Voice's mailbox looks like mine:

Yes, there were actually four credit card and/or convenience checks offers in today's mail, including one from WaMu. Most of us would be more than willing to help a recovering alcoholic get back on their feet, but we have to feel like that they are in recovery and the money we contribute won't just go for more liquor.

Mad Okie says Tulsa should have taken care of priorities when times were good:

Back when Tulsa had money and the economy was "good", those in power thought it would be a good idea to build an arena, repay BoK for a failed airline, and to move city hall to the most expensive building downtown.

Now that the economy has taken a nose-dive they want you and me to pay more in taxes to do something they should have been doing all along... fixing our roads.

Oklahoma per Square Foot reports that lenders are tightening up on credit for buying commercial real estate for investment purposes -- by a whole percentage point:

It was revealed that those lenders that are underwriting commercial deals are not lending money for properties priced below a 9% capitalization rate, except in rare circumstances. This is concerning for the market since well over half of the investment deals transacted just in Oklahoma City over the past few years were priced at capitalization rates were in the 7% to 8% range with a few deals transacting under 7%. Now, with lenders only financing deals priced over 9%, it will become increasingly difficult for owners to achieve the high sales prices that have been driving the market for the past four years.

But there's some "good news for Oklahoma's apartment markets":

For Oklahoma City, Hendricks reported increased demand for apartment units by renters, which is largely the result of the slowing in the single-family housing market. During the second quarter, the increased demand led to an overall vacancy of 7.9%, which is a record low level for the city. Furthermore, as vacancy decreased, the report also noted increases in rental rates. Overall rents grew 4.3 percent during the second quarter when compared to 2007 totals. The most significant gain came in the North submarket, which posted a rental rate increase of 5.2 percent.

Hendricks reported a sharp decrease in apartment vacancy to 8.1 percent, which is the lowest vacancy in nearly four years, according to the report. Tulsa experienced higher rent growth than Oklahoma City with a 5.4 percent increase. Two Tulsa submarkets experienced rent growth of over 6 percent in the greater downtown and Broken Arrow areas.

(Click the link to read Bailout link dump, part 1)

Nellie returns

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Johnstone Park and its attractions and monuments were an important part of my early childhood years in Bartlesville. One of those monuments was a replica of the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 oil well, the first commercially producing well in Oklahoma. (There's a picture of the old replica in this blog tribute to Bartlesville.) The old replica was wooden, and sitting as it did on the bank of the Caney River, it had to have suffered a great deal of damage over the years.

The old replica was taken down a year or so ago, but a new replica is taking its place, part of Discovery 1, an outdoor exhibit on Oklahoma's petroleum heritage. The new replica will be dedicated a week from Saturday on October 18th at 3:30.

A brief opening ceremony will be climaxed by a "blow out" of water from the 84-foot tall wooden derrick.

The inauguration of the fully operating cable-tool derrick will precede the start of two popular seasonal events for area children being held at nearby Kiddie Park -- the Fall Fun Fest and Spook-A-Rama.

The Fall Fun Fest, organized by the Bartlesville Rotary Club and featuring booths and games, will operate from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Spook-A-Rama, sponsored by Kiddie Park, will be open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The inauguration of the "new Nellie" marks the completion of phase II of the Discovery 1 Park project.

Phase I entailed removing the deteriorated, non-operating derrick replica previously on the site and raising funds to plan and build the new animated re-creation.

The next and final phase of the project calls for constructing a Visitor Center and building a Path of Petroleum Pioneers that will recognize local individuals and enterprises that have made their mark in the energy industry.

Discovery 1 Park, which eventually will cover about five acres, is located at the exact spot where the historic well was drilled more than 110 years ago.

This afternoon at 2, City of Tulsa Finance Director Mike Kier, Assistant Public Works Director Paul Zachary, and City Councilor G. T. Bynum will be on the Chris Medlock show on 1170 KFAQ to talk about the sales tax and bond issue for street funding that will be on November's ballot. Earlier this week, the three were interviewed by KFAQ's Pat Campbell. (Click this link to listen to the podcast.)

Here's where I am: I would like to be able to support this package enthusiastically. I need to be persuaded, however, that this isn't just more money to spend on the same old failed approach to maintaining streets. I need to be convinced that Public Works is changing the way it does business.

Will the City aggressively advertise contracting opportunities to out-of-area firms so we can have a more robust competition for road work?

Will the City do a better job of coordinating projects with ODOT, so the City doesn't snarl alternate routes while ODOT is working on a freeway?

I see money in the package for rebuilding streets, as we've been doing. But where is the money for paving, crack sealing, milling and overlay? Is there adequate money in this package for the preventative maintenance we haven't been doing?

If I'm not persuaded, I'll vote yes on the sales tax proposition and no on the bond issue proposition. The overall sales tax rate doesn't go up if the sales tax proposition passes, and I want the city to call dibs on the 2/12ths tax when the County's Four-to-Fix sales tax expires. Also, allocation of the sales tax could be changed to spend money on paving and sealing, while a bond issue cannot be reallocated and cannot be spent on preventative maintenance.

Augustine Christian Academy (formerly known as St. Augustine Academy) will hold its annual fall fundraiser on Friday, November 7, 2008, at 7 p.m. at the Green Country Events Center, 12000 E. 31st St., Tulsa. Jim Stovall will be the keynote speaker:

Jim Stovall is the President of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, and highly sought after author and platform speaker. He is the author of the best selling book, The Ultimate Gift, which is now a major motion picture starring James Garner and Abigail Breslin. Special pre-release copies of Jim's newest book, Ultimate Productivity (Jan 2009) will be available at this event.

Decadent Dessert Social, Silent & Live Auctions, Entertainment and inspiration - all in one special night! Tickets are only $25, but quantities are limited. For more information, call the school office at (918) 832-4600.

Jim Stovall is well worth the price of admission. (And he's a huge step up from last year's speaker.)

If you're not familiar with ACA, here's a brief, apt description from the school's website:

Augustine Christian Academy is a small, independent, Christian classical school dedicated to training students to take the lead in their personal lives, in their educations, and in their communities. Augustine Christian boasts a climate that is truly conducive to the free exchange and development of ideas.

At ACA education is built on the best traditions of our academic, intellectual, cultural, and moral heritage, allowing the student to shape their future in a setting that is both challenging and supportive.

You can buy tickets online using Paypal.

Here's the video of KJRH's debate between U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and his challenger State Sen. Andrew Rice, from last night. Russ McCaskey moderated with Joe Kelley of KRMG, Wayne Greene of the Tulsa World, and Karen Larsen of KJRH on the panel.

Family therapist Bowden McElroy brings his professional perspective to the bailout:

Think of our Representatives and Senators as parents and the executives of AIG as errant children. Years of poor decision-making calls for a natural and logical consequence. Instead we reward poor behavior. This article (AIG Executives Blow $440,000 After Getting Bailout) shows how little the men and women on Capitol Hill understand about motivating people to change. All we've taught the movers and shakers of our economy is that lousy business practices carry no consequences to them. Assuming legislation is passed to prevent these kind of problems from happening again, this country's top financial executives will simply find new ways to make poor decisions: what do they have to lose? We've just told them if you're big enough, the politicians will make sure nothing bad ever happens to you.

Read the whole thing.

I'm over at Tyson Wynn's place liveblogging the presidential debate with Tyson Wynn and Jenn Sierra.

This CNN investigative report shows that Barack Obama has had a long and close political relationship with unrepentant former domestic terrorist and ongoing radical William Ayres, much closer than the Obama campaign spin will acknowledge.

Ayres was responsible for bringing the Annenberg Challenge grant for schools to Chicago; Obama was made chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which steered money to organizations run by Ayres and his wife Bernardine Dohrn. In 1995, Ayers organized and hosted Obama's first political fundraiser at his home. Contrary to Obama campaign claims, it was Ayers who organized the event, not State Sen. Alice Palmer, Obama's predecessor.

This comment at Hot AIr by rvastar proposes the sort of speech John McCain might give to explain the relevance of Obama's ties to Ayers and other radicals to the present economic mess. It's a good summary of what has been uncovered about the Ayers/Obama relationship:

My friends, as we try to provide you with more information about Sen. Obama's dubious ties to the likes of unrepentent domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, and radical Leftist groups like ACORN, it is inevitable that his defenders will attempt to deflect your attention away from these relationships by stating that these are just smears, an attempt to distract you from the overwhelming issue that is front and center in the minds of all Americans - the economy. But this is most certainly not the case, since we believe that that these relationships - along with many others - provide clear examples of the dangers an Obama presidency poses to this country's future economic well-being.

The overall health of the US economy is a complicated balancing act between private-sector freedom and govt oversight. As our nation's current financial crisis is clearly illustrating, govt policies can - for good or for bad - have enormous effects on our financial markets. With this in mind, we need elected officials who have a clear understanding of how their political ideology and policies will interact with and effect our financial system; and not just in the short term of a year...or two years...or 10 year, but as regards the long-term effects that their ideology and policies will have on our country. We need officials with a keen respect for using the power of govt, as well as taxpayers' money, in responsible and beneficial ways that will promote our economic well-being for generations to come.

Which brings us to the topic of Sen. Obama's long relationship with Bill Ayers. Now, let me be absolutely clear about something before the media spin even begins - no one is claiming that Sen. Obama is a terrorist. And no one is claiming that Sen. Obama condones or is an apologist for terrorism, whether it be domestic or international, past or present. But what we are claiming is that Sen. Obama shares certain radically Leftist views with Bill Ayers and that those shared radical views found the two of them affiliated with and working with one another for the better part of ten years.

In 1995, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn - herself, a convicted terrorist - hosted Sen. Obama's political "coming out" party in their own living room. Also, Bill Ayers was a co-founder of an organization called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation whose primary goal was the advancement and promotion of a radically Leftist educational agenda in the Chicago school system. Ayers was instrumental in getting Sen. Obama appointed as the Chairman of the CAC in 1995, despite the fact that corporate presidents were sitting board members of the CAC and Sen. Obama was a relatively young, inexperienced associate lawyer in Chicago.

So, what was it - exactly - that the CAC did? It provided funds to Chicago-area schools under the stipulation that said schools partner with CAC-approved "community organizations" like ACORN and the Developing Communities Project, both radical Leftist groups who were determined to push a radical educational agenda on both students and teachers. so in the end, what were the final results of Sen. Obama's 5-year tenure as Chairman of the CAC? According to the CAC's own report before the organization disbanded: "There were no statistically significant differences in student achievement between Annenberg schools and demographically similar non-Annenberg schools. This indicates that there was no Annenberg effect on achievement." In other words, the result was nothing - nothing at all; unless you count the more than $100+ million in taxpayer money that was spent in funding the CAC's efforts at indoctrinating children and teachers into a radical political ideology.

And there, in that last point, is the relevant truth. The primary purpose of this money wasn't to improve students reading comprehension or math scores; it wasn't meant to provide them with occupational training or more individualized attention; in other words, the money wasn't meant to prepare students with the type of solid, fact-based educational experience that the future health of our country's economy is dependent on. The primary purpose of the over $100 million of taxpayer money that was spent was to support an effort at indoctrinating Chicago's children into the same far-left political ideology that Bill Ayers espouses - namely, that US is an evil country, with an evil history, and that it needs to be torn-apart at the seams so that it can be reorganized into a socialist paradise.

And Sen. Barack Obama worked with this man and the CAC in order to achieve this goal in the Chicago school system.

Now, does $100 million spent on this sort of nonsense bring to mind the phrase "sound economic principles"? Do Sen. Obama's radical attempts at turning our nation's school systems into political indoctrination centers sound like the activities of a man who has this country's economic best interest at heart? It most certainly does not, as it sounds to me like Sen. Obama is man who cares more about spreading his radical political views to our nation's children than he does about preparing them for their future roles as the stewards of our economic future.

But if that doesn't convince you, let's talk about another - more direct - example of Sen. Obama's lack of judgement when it comes to the stability and prosperity of our nation's economy. Let's talk about his role as a "leadership trainer" with ACORN, and how the very "training" he provided this group is directly tied to the current financial meltdown that our country is enduring...

MORE: Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, fought for and ultimately gained access to the records of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and he has written several articles on what he learned about Barack Obama and his radical friends.

STILL MORE: ACORN's Las Vegas office raided in voter fraud investigation:

Bob Walsh, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, told FOXNews.com the raid was prompted by ongoing complaints about "erroneous" registration information being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.

The group was submitting the information through a voter sign-up drive known as Project Vote.

"Some of them used nonexistent names, some of them used false addresses and some of them were duplicates of previously filed applications," Walsh said, describing the complaints, which largely came from the registrar in Clark County, Nev.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said the fraudulent registrations included forms for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," Miller said....

But it's not the first time ACORN's been under investigation for registration irregularities. The raid is the latest of at least nine investigations into possible fraudulent voter registration forms submitted by ACORN -- the probes have involved ACORN workers in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana and other states.

In 2006, ACORN also committed what Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed called the "worse case of election fraud" in the state's history.

In the case, ACORN submitted just over 1,800 new voter registration forms, and all but six of the 1,800 names were fake.

More recently, 27,000 registrations handled by the group from January to July 2008 "went into limbo because they were incomplete, inaccurate, or fraudulent," said James Terry, chief public advocate at the Consumers Rights League.

Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, Herbert and Marion Sandler: They're all here.

Why are Asian investors keeping their money in America? According to Asia Times columnist Spengler, it's because of Sarah Palin.

Or rather, it's because of a political culture that allows concerned citizens like Palin to emerge to challenge and expose corruption.

You need to read the whole thing. There are too many quotes worth requoting here. There is so much more to the success of America and the rest of the Anglosphere than the governmental structures that are common to democracies. There are legal and cultural traditions that create a level of trust and self-determination.

A selection of the best quotes:

What does America have that Asia doesn't have? The answer is, Sarah Palin - not Sarah Palin the vice presidential candidate, but Sarah Palin the "hockey mom" turned small-town mayor and reforming Alaska governor. All the PhDs and MBAs in the world can't make a capital market work, but ordinary people like Sarah Palin can. Laws depend on the will of the people to enforce them. It is the initiative of ordinary people that makes America's political system the world's most reliable.

America is the heir to a long tradition of Anglo-Saxon law that began with jury trial and the Magna Carta and continued through the English Revolution of the 17th century and the American Revolution of the 18th. Ordinary people like Palin are the bearers of this tradition....

Palin really did take on the American oil companies and turn the scoundrels out of office. Her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, appointed her to the state oil and gas commission in the apparent belief that a small-town mayor and former beauty queen would rubber-stamp corrupt deals between the state and the Big Oil companies.

Shades of Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Palin ran against Murkowski and took his job. That does not qualify her to be president, to be sure, but it does show cunning and strength of character. Palin is qualified for high office by temperament if not by education, and is preferable to candidates whose education has made no improvement on their characters....

One doesn't see demonstrations by wronged peasants in the small towns of America. There never were peasants - American farmers always were entrepreneurs - and the locals avenge injury by taking over their local governments, which have sufficient authority to make a difference. At the capillary level, school boards, the Parent Teachers' Association, self-administered religious organizations and volunteer organizations incubate a political class entirely different from anything to be found in Asia. There are tens of thousands of Sarah Palins lurking in the minor leagues of American politics, and they are the guarantors of market probity....

It is true that Asian economies depend on American consumers and an American recession is bad for Asian currencies. But why don't Asians consume what they produce at home? The trouble is that rich Asians don't lend to poor Asians in their own countries. Capital markets don't work in the developing world because it is too easy to steal money. Subprime mortgages in the US have suffered from poor documentation. What kind of documentation does one encounter in countries where everyone from the clerk at the records office to the secretary who hands you a form requires a small bribe? America is litigious to a fault, but its courts are fair and hard to corrupt.

Asians are reluctant to lend money to each other under the circumstances; they would rather lend money in places where a hockey mom can get involved in local politics and, on encountering graft and corruption, run a successful campaign to turn the scoundrels out. You do not need PhDs and MBAs for that. You need ordinary people who care sufficiently about the places in which they live to take control of their own towns and states when required. And, yes, it doesn't hurt if they own guns.

I was also intrigued by this aside (emphasis added):

China's 30 million students of classical piano are one of the two great popular movements in the world today: the other is the House Church movement in Chinese Christianity. Children who play hockey will grow up to get coffee for children who study piano. As a pool of talent, nothing compares with the educated segment of the East Asian population that has embraced and mastered Western culture.

It's a bit startling to these American eyes to see two Chinese trends described as "the two great popular movements in the world today," but as a Christian, I'm gladdened to read that the Chinese House Church is one of those two movements.

(Via Crunchy Con.)

SNL on the bailout

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Spot-on satire. Fred Armisen's Barney Frank is priceless.

(Via Club for Growth.)

UPDATE: Guess what? NBC pulled the sketch without explanation. Perhaps it was too honestly critical of Democrats, in particular three wealthy and powerful people who fund far-left organizations: George Soros and Herbert and Marion Sandler. Michelle Malkin has details and a link for filing a complaint with the network.

It was the best satire of the night. Here are the script and screengrabs.

STILL MORE: NBC never posted video of the September 20 sketch ridiculing the provincialism of New York Times reporters. Video was posted to YouTube, but NBC forced them to pull it from the site.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Video is back up, but two things have been cut: The chyron saying "Herbert and Marion Sandler: People who should be shot," and this part:

[ Pelosi hugs Mrs. Sandler ]

Herbert Sandler: And thank you, Congressman Frank, as well as many Republicans, for helping block congressional oversight of our corrupt activity. [ he and his wife step away ]

Barney Frank: Not at all!

In other words, they got rid of anything that could get them sued by the Sandlers. Too bad they had to lose the "thank you, Congressman Frank" line.

Via Mister Snitch, I came across this detailed, link-heavy blog post about Sarah Palin's political career, beginning with her first race for City Council in 1992, and including her 2004 decision to quit a plum $118,000 a year seat on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after the Attorney General and Governor not only ignored her concerns about corruption on the AOGCC, but also, in the case of the AG, threatened her with prosecution if she blew the whistle:

Why do I mention Palin's apolitical roots? Because they help explain three things about her that become important later. One, how she's been able to stay grounded to have a normal, non-political person's reactions to the kinds of things politicians get inured to seeing. Two, why her views on reform, corruption and waste were not a pre-designed program but the evolving product of those reactions kicking in over time in response to things she observed first-hand. And three, how she was able to make the most important decision of her political career - to walk away from it all on principle with the significant chance that she was ending her career in politics.

On a related note, I enjoyed SNL's opening sketch, which was, as expected, a spoof of Thursday's Palin-Biden debate. Unlike the real Gwen Ifill, the fictional Ms. Ifill (played by the lovely Queen Latifah) made an opening disclosure about her upcoming book about the "Age of Obama."

I was also pleased that the SNL writers captured a moment that struck me as one of the biggest surprises in the debate: Biden saying, "Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple." Compressing the exchange slightly, the writers came close to quoting Biden's comments verbatim. I haven't seen much discussion of this in the blogosphere, so it's nice to see that I wasn't the only one who was surprised by his blunt embrace of his radical position on this issue.

Oklahomans for Life, the organization that advocates at the State Capitol for the sanctity of human life, has published the responses to its survey of candidates for the November 4 general election in the October 2008 issue of its newsletter. There are separate surveys for federal and state candidates; both surveys ask about concrete policies and bills that are likely to come before Congress and the Oklahoma Legislature. Topics include abortion and abortion funding, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia. The federal survey includes a couple of questions about rationing of federally-funded medical care:

10) Some hospitals have implemented formal policies authorizing denial of lifesaving medical treatment against the will of a patient or the patient's family if an ethics committee thinks the patient's quality of life is unacceptable, even though the patient and family disagree. The federal Patient Self-Determination Act currently requires health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid to ask patients on admission whether they have an advance directive indicating their desire to receive or refuse lifesaving treatment under certain circumstances. Would you support preventing involuntary denial of lifesaving medical treatment by amending the Patient Self-Determination Act to provide that if failure to comply with a patient's or surrogate's choice for life-saving treatment would in reasonable medical judgment be likely to result in or hasten the patient's death, a health care provider unwilling to respect the choice for life-saving treatment must allow the patient to be transferred to a willing provider and must provide the treatment pending transfer?

11) Would you vote against any bill that imposes price controls or otherwise limits the right of older Americans who choose to do so to add their own funds on top of the government contribution in order to obtain Medicare health insurance that is less likely to ration medical treatment and prescription drugs?

The same issue of the newsletter includes a response by OfL director Tony Lauinger to Jerry Riley, husband of State Sen. Nancy Riley (D-SD37), who took exception to OfL's characterization of Sen. Riley's voting record. Lauinger points out that the votes a legislator casts trumps the position a legislator claims, and Nancy Riley's two no votes on SB 714 in 2007 made the difference in the legislature's attempt to override Gov . Brad Henry's veto. Lauinger reminds that Sen. Riley's votes on SB 714 contradicted her responses to the Oklahomans for Life survey in 2000 and 2004 (as a Republican candidate for State Senate) and in 2006 (as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor).

Lauinger's letter addresses the matter of the rape and incest exception, and why the consistent pro-life position permits abortion only when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. (Riley cited the lack of a rape and incest exception as the reason for her opposition to SB 714, but she failed to offer such an exception as an amendment, either in her committee or in the Senate as a whole.)

Ethel Waters, the revered African-American vocalist of blues and spirituals, had occasion near the end of her life to recount its beginning: "My father raped my mother when she was twelve years old, and today they've named a park for me in Chester, Pennsylvania." Recounted in her autobiography, His Eye is on the Sparrow, her life is but one of many of children conceived in rape who went on to make great contributions to this world.

She might wonder how it makes sense, in logic or in law, to execute a child for the crime of his or her father? Abortion does not erase the trauma of a rape. Abortion compounds the first tragedy with a second tragedy - one for which the woman herself is responsible.

It is not valid to assume the best thing for a victim of rape or incest is to abort her baby. For society, abortion might seem to "solve the problem." But for the woman herself, it does not. Abortion often leads to psychological anguish and emotional devastation. Britain's Royal College of Psychiatry issued a warning in March that women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions. They advised that women should not have an abortion until they are counseled about the possible risk to their mental health.

There are more than one million unborn babies being killed by abortion in our country every year. One could rely on the absence of a rape exception as an excuse for opposing all manner of bills that seek to reduce abortions and save the babies we can. Or one could support these reasonable, modest regulations which, while not making abortion illegal, at least give some unborn children - and their mothers - a chance to avoid catastrophe.

That's why Nancy's votes against SB 714 were so disappointing. When the opportunity to help these babies came, she didn't give the benefit of the doubt to life.

Sen. Tom Coburn was on with 1170 KFAQ's Pat Campbell this morning explaining his decision to vote for the $700 billion bailout. It was strange to hear Coburn acknowledge that this bill might not work, that this bill didn't address the underlying causes, but that we had to do something. He compared it to using a defibrillator on a heart attack patient; you deal with his high cholesterol levels after you've saved his life.

But how did Tom Coburn become persuaded that the current situation is a financial heart attack and that the bailout is a financial defibrillator?

Coburn mentioned that he heard from the heads of all the biggest banks in Oklahoma. He specifically mentioned, by title but not by name, the chairman of the Bank of Oklahoma. (That's George Kaiser, if you didn't know.) He heard that banks won't lend to each other, that people with 650 credit scores couldn't get car loans, that businesses were having their loans called by banks who needed the money on their books.

A couple of days ago, while folding laundry, I was struck by similarities between the mortgage bailout and the BOk / Great Plains Airlines bailout. In both cases, I have the sense that the bailout is not to stave off dire consequences for the general public, but dire consequences for big shots who made bad decisions.

Recall that in the Great Plains situation, BOK made a bad loan after two initial refusals, based on private assurances from then-Mayor Susan Savage that the City of would make the bank whole if the loan went bad. That's according to former Councilor Jim Mautino:

In another video on that same entry, Jim Mautino mentions being called to the office of Stan Lybarger, president of BOk. Mautino took city attorneys Larry Simmons and Drew Rees with him to the meeting. Lybarger told them that he had twice turned down the Great Plains loan, but relented because then Mayor Susan Savage gave him "assurances." This would be the same Savage who gave "assurances" to the City Council at the time that transfering AFP3 to the Tulsa Industrial Authority would not expose the City to any liability in the Great Plains financing deal.

Tulsa city councilors were warned that the city's credit rating would suffer if the city didn't pay back the loan. I suspect that the real worry was that some BOk executives would suffer legal consequences if this bad debt hadn't been paid off before a certain deadline. A federally-insured bank isn't allowed to make risky loans for political reasons.

In the current "crisis," we're hearing from a lot of Wall Street types of impending doom, but we're not seeing an unreasonable tightening of credit on Main Street. My suspicion is that this bailout is really about protecting fat cats from the consequences of their bad decisions, and the fat cats are doing a fine job of spooking Congress into a stampede.

I think Coburn was sincere in stating the rationale for his vote. It may be that the bank officials were shooting straight with him. Then again, he was taking his cues from someone who supports bigger government and higher taxes and is a bundler for Barack Obama.

MORE: Whom did Coburn convince? (Emphasis added.)

Just talked to a Republican leadership aide. Here's what he had to say about the big margin today. He cited three factors:

1) Up to the point of the Monday vote, members were only hearing from people adamantly opposed to the bill. After the vote, that changed. They began to hear from employers, bankers, and opinion leaders back in their districts who told them how much it would hurt the local economy if they didn't act to try to calm the credit markets; 2) The strong Senate vote helped. Members could say to themselves, "Well, both my state's senators voted for it." And Sen. Tom Coburn's strong support for the measure carried a lot of weight with House conservatives; 3) The inclusion of the FDIC increase gave members something positive and easy to understand to talk about in explaining the bill. The purchase of illiquid assets isn't easy to explain, and if you can explain it, doesn't sound very appealing to anyone. The FDIC provision was easier to portray as a proposal to help "Main Street," with local bankers complaining and worrying about large withdrawals.

Earlier this evening, Tyson Wynn interviewed me and Jason Carini of Oklahomans for Responsible Government about tonight's vice presidential debate between Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware). Click that link to listen and download the podcast.

I thought Palin did a wonderful job and clearly came out the winner. She was effective at explaining John McCain's platform, defending her own record, and going on the attack against the policies and experience of the Obama-Biden ticket. Biden made some statements tonight that are going to require some explaining and backtracking from Barack Obama's campaign.

Good blog commentary elsewhere:

Here are Michelle Malkin's live blogging and post debate recap entries.

John Mark Reynolds has been doing a fine job of rebutting the panicky anti-Palinites on the right. Here's his live-blog of the debate and his wrapup post.

This coming Saturday, October 4, the Tulsa County Republican Party will hold its annual fall fundraiser out at the old barn on the McGraw place, 10900 S. Louisville Ave.

It's a great opportunity to meet fellow Republican activists and elected officials. Councilor John Eagleton will be providing the barbecue: chopped beef, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, seasoned with a dry rub and smoked for hours. It's always delicious.

The entertainment is a band called the Rockin' Acoustic Circus, a group of talented young string musicians who play a mix of bluegrass, swing, and country.

It should be a beautiful fall day, and the McGraws' place is a delightful slice of country in the city. The festivities begin at 11:30. The cost is $10 per person, but just $20 for an entire family. There will also be a silent auction, and McCain-Palin T-shirts and buttons will be for sale.

Hope to see you there!

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn ate the "crap sandwich" (House Minority Leader John Boehner's phrase), but not without dispensing some strong medicine to his colleagues.

As a practicing physician, I compare where we are today to a physician who commits malpractice. We have a patient with cancer. They have a secondary pneumonia because of the cancer. We are going to treat the pneumonia. We are going to give the antibiotics, we are going to give something to lower the temperature, we are going to give something to suppress the cough, we are going to give something to thin the mucous, but we are not going to fix the cancer. We are going to ignore the cancer.

Let me tell you what the cancer is. The cancer is Congresses that, for years upon years, have totally ignored the Constitution of the United States and taken us to areas where we have no business being. There is no way you can justify, in the U.S. Constitution, that the country ought to be the source of mortgages for homeowners in this country. Yet Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac control 70 percent of the mortgages in this country.

I plan on voting for this bill. I support that we have to do something now. But how we got here is very important if we are going to fix things in the future....

If anybody in America is mad about this situation, there is only one place they need to direct their anger and it is right in the Congress of the United States.

It is not specific Members, it is bad habits. We are not going to cut out the cancer. We are not going to give the radiation therapy. What we are going to do is we are going to continue to treat the symptoms rather than directly go after the cause that has created the greatest financial risk and peril this country has ever seen. We are not going after the cause.

The cause is get back within the bounds of the Constitution that very specifically says where we have business working and where we do not. Because we are out of those bounds, we have now put at risk every job in this country, the savings and retirement of people who worked for years, because we decided we would ignore the wisdom of our Founders and create systems that are outside the enumerated powers that were given to us because we know better.

We do not know better. It is obvious. There is no administration to blame. It is not the Clinton administration or the Bush administration's fault we are in this mess. Because if you say that, what you have to say is you did all the oversight, you had all the hearings, you knew what was going on and you didn't do anything about it. So either we didn't know or we did know and did nothing about it.

There is only one place to come to hold accountability and it is in this body....

It is very simple. We are committing malpractice. We are not living up to the oath we undertook when we became Members of this body. That oath says you will defend and uphold the Constitution. It doesn't say you will rewrite it because it pleases you politically. We are here today because of fatal errors on the part of Members of this body to do something that is totally outside the bounds of the wisdom and foresight our Founders gave us.

Those are tough words. But we are in tough times. If we do not get about withdrawing and getting back within the realms of the power granted to us, this is just the first in a very large roll of problems this country is going to face.

Full remarks after the jump.

The senator from South Carolina and champion of fiscal conservatism had this to say during last night's debate on the bailout:

We have seen this Government socialize our education system and make our schools among the worst in the world. We have seen this Government take over most of our health care system, making private insurance less and less affordable. We have seen this Government socialize our energy resources and bring our Nation to its knees by cutting the development of our own oil and natural gas supplies. And now we see this Congress yielding its constitutional obligations to a Federal bureaucracy, giving it the power to control virtually our entire financial system. Americans understand this and they are angry. They are our judge and our jury. They are watching what we are doing, and they will render their verdict based on our actions.

I was happy to see Jim Inhofe vote no, and more than a little surprised that Tom Coburn voted yes. I do understand the fear that the failure to vote for this bill would lead to an even worse bill that would win the support of the most left-wing members of Congress.

Read DeMint's complete remarks after the jump.

Punchy cons

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I've been following the anti-Sarah Palin tirades coming from a handful of conservative pundits who are embarrassed by her interview with Katie Couric. One of those is Rod Dreher, whose string of anti-Palin posts has won him interviews on Good Morning America and Larry King Live. In a recent entry Dreher blasts Palin for failing to come up with a response to Couric's question about Supreme Court decisions other than Roe that she didn't like.

I posted the following comment (slightly amplified for clarity):

When I heard the interview clip, I was annoyed that Palin couldn't come up with the name of another case that she didn't like.

Then I asked myself the same question. I drew a blank. And even though I've blogged about Kelo extensively, and even though I write a weekly column that deals with urban development, I didn't think of it until about 10 minutes later. Had I been the subject of the interview, 10 minutes later would have been too late. "Oh, by the way, Katie, I just thought of another court case I don't like." Katie would have already been through three more subjects by then. Once you're off-balance in that way, you're not going to get back in the groove. At least in Jeopardy, you get several questions in the same category and a chance to get your memory going in that direction.

On the subject of the Couric interview, Rod reminds me of an armchair Jeopardy player. It's really easy, when you're in your La-Z-Boy eating cheese doodles, to get all the answers right and to belittle the contestant who is having a bad day and freezes up in front of all the world and Alex Trebek.

CBS is taking this one bad day and spreading it out over two weeks, making it look like a long series of bad days. Non-panicky bloggers should have realized that after the first segment was rough, the rest of them would have been, too. It's all part of the same interview, and if you'd seen it all on a single day, I think it would have created a different impression.

If you're not familiar with the magic of television, I suppose you might be surprised and outraged that, gee whiz, Palin's interview isn't going any better than the day before or last week.

Further thoughts: I have been interviewed hundreds of times, mostly early in the morning when I'm at my worst. The best interviews were when I knew in advance what topic was going to be discussed and had a chance to think about the key points I wanted to get across. The worst interviews involved a question out of left field, and I had to vamp while coming up with a reasonable sounding answer. I hated getting questions that begin with "What is your favorite..." or "Can you name two or three..." and the worst -- which Katie Couric has used repeatedly in her Palin interview -- is "Besides the thing you just mentioned, name another...." In other words, stop thinking about what you were just talking about and immediately start thinking about something else.

I thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by G. W. Schulz, who profiled me for Urban Tulsa Weekly back in July 2005. But one question he asked threw me for a loop. It wasn't a gotcha question. It was quite reasonable:

But when asked in person what stories from the Bible influenced him at a young age, he seems at a loss--either because there's so much to consider, or because, like many bloggers, he better excels at writing fluid, delicately crafted sentences, taking time to insure proper diction, tense and grammar.

In retrospect, a good answer would have been, "I grew up in an environment saturated with Scripture, and asking which Bible stories influenced me is like asking a plant which drops of water were most helpful in its growth and development." Instead, I tried to answer the question exactly as posed.

Another question consistently sent me groping for words, even though I'd almost always get this question right at the end of my weekly updates on KFAQ: "What's on BatesLine today?" or some variation thereof. Almost invariably when I was prepared to plug the site, we'd run out of time before I had the chance.

Within the last year or so, I addressed the City Council on some topic. I delivered a fairly coherent argument and did so forcefully, I thought. As I started back to my seat, Councilor John Eagleton asked me to return to the microphone to answer a few questions. I don't remember the specifics, but one of the questions discombobulated me. We were on the same side of the issue at hand, and Eagleton wasn't trying to throw me off, but he managed to ask me a question which required me to shift mental gears faster than my brain wanted to do.

I am not a dunce or intellectually incurious, although if you judged me the way that Dreher and his fellow punchy cons are judging Palin, you might jump to that conclusion. Most of the time I manage to be articulate, even when speaking extemporaneously or when asked an unexpected question. But sometimes I have bad moments on good days, and sometimes I have completely bad days, when I can't shift gears as fast as I need to.

Sarah Palin, who defeated a sitting governor in her own party's primary and went on to beat a former governor in the general election, had a bad hour or so in an interview with Katie Couric, a bad hour that has been stretched out by CBS editing into a week or so. CBS has succeeded in inducing panic in a few conservative Chicken Littles. If I were one of them, I'd be embarrassed at being so easily manipulated by an organization with a clear agenda to defeat conservatism by any means necessary.

I don't expect these observations will win me a slot on Larry King Live.


Here's video of Palin's 2006 general election debate with former two-term Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles:

My wife, Mikki, wanted me to write something about why the mainstream media hates Sarah Palin. I thought what she wrote herself put it pretty well, so here it is:

Why does the MSM hate Palin?

She is the antithesis of "Sex in the City" and "Desperate Housewives." Our media lives with and idolizes the titillating adventure and mystery of glamour and pathos, mystery and deceit... revolving spouses - or "partners". The messages from this type of shows is - discard the old problem - person, job, house, and start over. Don't bother learning lessons from poor decision-making or childish behavior, just see if the same mistakes will work better on the next unsuspecting victim.

Sarah Palin comes from a culture foreign to the MSM. Her salary doesn't match Wall Street. She fired a cook, although a busy working mom might actually find one quite helpful in a family of that size. I suspect she and her husband want the kids to grow up learning to work and take responsibility for themselves as well. She is still married to her first husband and decided to continue a pregnancy with a special needs child. Apparently, Sarah Palin doesn't expect her life to be "a bowl of cherries." I am sure that their marriage hasn't been perfect, and they didn't expect it to be. That is probably why they are still married.

This is the difference between our candidates. Sarah Palin is NOT a whiner. She does not expect the "SUPER SANTA = BIG GOVERNMENT = WHITE KNIGHT" to ride in and save the day. She expects government to stop penalizing hard working people and allow us to get our work done! She is Main Street America. Why was the media so amazed at her popularity? They have never met her before. The rest of us live in her neighborhood, and consider her a good neighbor, with values that we can trust.

That last sentence in the second paragraph seems to be the same message we're getting from the bailout backers.

Yesterday with Hugh Hewitt, Gov. Palin did her first talk radio interview since her nomination. Here's a link to the podcast and transcript. This podcast of the full hour includes a segment with NRO's Campaign Spot blogger Jim Geraghty, who gives a point by point commentary on Palin's remarks.

MORE: Guess who wrote a book? Gwen Ifill of PBS, moderator of tomorrow night's vice presidential debate, has a book coming out on January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day. It's called Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. I'd say a book with the phrase "Age of Obama" in the title is headed to the bestseller list if Obama and Biden win. If McCain and Palin win it's going straight to the remainder bin, next to Dow 36,000. This goes beyond ideological bias to an actual conflict of interest between Ifill's responsibility to be impartial as moderator and the desire of her and her publisher to see her book sell well.

Perspective worth reading on the mortgage crisis and the proposed bailout, going before the U. S. Senate today:

Dave Ramsey's Common Sense Fix: Government insurance for mortgages in exchange for rolling back payments into current balance, fixing the rate, and canceling prepayment penalties; remove "mark to market" accounting for two years on Tier III subprime loands; completely remove capital gains taxes.

Mark Sanford - A Bailout for All Our Bad Decisions? - washingtonpost.com

For 200 years, the "business model" in our country has rested on a simple fact: that while one may reap rewards from taking risks, one should also be prepared to face the consequences of those risks. Some of the proposed actions with regard to the credit market turn that business model on its head -- absolving those who took too much risk, or bought too much house, from the weight of their own choices. If Congress passes the proposed bailout, we will be destined to have far greater problems in time, leaving those who are prudent in their finances to foot the bill for those who are not....

Last week's events were rooted in distressed mortgage securities whose optimistic values were facilitated by quasi-governmental entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The investment banking capital write-downs were turbocharged by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which did what too many laws do -- it fixed yesterday's problem. The amazing expansion of credit was fueled by a Federal Reserve offering an easy-money policy that led us right into a credit bubble. All this was made worse by the government enabling some people's tendency to want more house than they can afford.

With that bubble popped, we will now go through a major financial de-leveraging. It will be painful. Yet to preserve what has made this country great, we need to be on guard against Washington offering endless cures to our ills.

U.S. Congressman Mike Pence : 6th District Of Indiana: Pence opposes Bush administration bailout plan

Americans for Limited Government letter to Congress against the bailout

American Thinker: Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis: The Cloward-Piven Strategy, ACORN, Jim Johnson, Franklin Raines, Penny Pritzker, and the Democratic nominee.

Ben Stein: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Credit Crisis But Were Afraid to Ask:

Here s one big part of the answer. First, the alert reader will notice that Ben Stein said many times that the amount of money at risk in the subprime meltdown was just not enough to sink an economy of this size. And I was right...to a point. The amount of subprime that defaulted was at most - after recovery in liquidation - about $250 billion. A huge sum but not enough to torpedo the US economy.

The crisis occurred (to greatly oversimplify) because the financial system allowed entities to place bets on whether or not those mortgages would ever be paid. You didn't have to own a mortgage to make the bets. These bets, called Credit Default Swaps, are complex. But in a nutshell, they allow someone to profit immensely - staggeringly - if large numbers of subprime mortgages are not paid off and go into default.

The profit can be wildly out of proportion to the real amount of defaults, because speculators can push down the price of instruments tied to the subprime mortgages far beyond what the real rates of loss have been. As I said, the profits here can be beyond imagining. (In fact, they can be so large that one might well wonder if the whole subprime fiasco was not set up just to allow speculators to profit wildly on its collapse...)

These Credit Default Swaps have been written (as insurance is written) as private contracts. There is nil government regulation of them. Who writes these policies? Banks. Investment banks. Insurance companies. They now owe the buyers of these Credit Default Swaps on junk mortgage debt trillions of dollars. It is this liability that is the bottomless pit of liability for the financial institutions of America.

Because these giant financial companies never dreamed that the subprime mortgage securities could fall as far as they did, they did not enter a potential liability for these CDS policies anywhere near their true liability - which again, is virtually bottomless. They do not have a countervailing asset to pay off the liability.

This is what your humble servant, moi, missed. This is what all of the big investment banks and banks and insurance companies missed. This is what the federal government totally and utterly missed. This is what the truly brilliant speculators in these instruments did not miss. They could insure a liability they could also create and control. It is as if they could insure a Cadillac for its value upon theft - but they could control what the value the insurer had to pay off was. The insurer thought it might be fifty thousand dollars - but it was manipulated into being two million.

This is the whirlpool sucking down finance.

The Credit 'Crisis' - September 26, 2008 - The New York Sun. The Sun editorial board gives us another reason to miss them already:

Our friends at the New York Post set out this week to document the baleful effects of the credit crisis on ordinary New York businesses, attempting to make the case for the need for speedy federal passage of the Paulson plan. "Scores of small-business owners are struggling to get tightfisted banks to dole out loans for much-needed expansion plans," the Post reported.

The Post found two cases: "the owners of Five Point Fitness were given the runaround by their skittish bank for months -- and eventually had to borrow $175,000 from well-heeled clients." And "Kenny Lewis, 39, who owns a Subway sandwich-shop franchise in Queens. He applied for a $25,000 Small Business Administration loan and was told he'd get an answer in seven business days." Reports the Post: "He is now considering borrowing from private investors, saying 'they believe in what I'm doing.'"

Forgive us, but this strikes us as something less than a crisis. Neither the sandwich shop nor the gym have closed. Both are turning to private investors rather than banks. What, exactly, is wrong with that? Truth is, there is a vast amount of private capital waiting on the sidelines for opportunities to invest. The Investment Company Institute reports that, for the week ended Wednesday, September 24, there were $3.398 trillion in money market mutual fund assets -- enough to make that $700 billion Paulson plan look like small change....

If the politicians can't agree on a bailout plan, that may be for the best. One possibility that hasn't been adequately appreciated is that the stock market is poised for a rally anyway. If it happens without the "bailout," Americans will understand that economic growth doesn't require the government buying or seizing lots of assets. If it happens after the bailout, Americans may fall into the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy and get the false impression that the bailout was the cause of the rally.

The Corner on National Review Online: Mark Steyn: Burke's law:

One of my problems with the "bailout" is the way it's presented not as an emergency measure to correct the stupidity of previous political interference but as evidence of the flawed nature of the market, and thus a justification for more must-pass "emergency" measures ahead. Exhibit A - President Sarkozy rejoicing in the end of "Anglo-American capitalism":
The idea of an all-powerful market without any rules and any political intervention is mad. Self-regulation is finished. Laissez faire is finished. The all-powerful market that is always right is finished.

As a general proposition, when told by unanimous elites that a particular course of action is urgent and necessary to avoid disaster, there's a lot to be said for going fishing. If the entire global economy is so vulnerable that only the stalwart action of Barney Frank stands between it and ten years of soup kitchens, can it, in fact, be saved? Or look at it the other way round: Given any reasonable estimate of the number of headless chickens running around, was the five per cent fall in Asian markets and seven per cent "plummet" on the Dow in reaction to the House vote really the catastrophe some of my pals round here seem to think it was? If fear of seven per cent falls is enough to justify massive unprecedented government intrusion into the private sector, we might as well cut to the chase and go for the big Soviet command economy.

The Corner on National Review Online: Mark Levin: Thank you, House Republicans:

Also, count me among those few here who want to thank the House Republicans for taking a bold stand against what had been a stampede on a scale I have never before witnessed on matters of huge consequence. Conservatism is more than a quaint belief-system to be embraced and debated over donuts at Starbucks. It is more than a list of talking points. It is the foundation of the civil society. The liberal uses crises, real or manufactured, to expand the power of government at the expense of the individual and private property. He has spent, in earnest, 70 years evading the Constitution's limits on governmental power. If conservatives don't stand up to this, who will? If they don't offer serious alternatives that address the current circumstances AND defend the founding principles, who will? The House Republicans have done both. And I, for one, thank them.

Incidentally, if you want to buy a home or car today you can. And if your credit is decent, you can get loans at a good rate. Last week we were told that if a deal was not struck by last Friday, our economy would collapse. It has not. That is not to say the evidence of economic troubles or worse should be ignored. It is to say that now is a time for reasoned decisions based on tried and true principles, not for abandoning them. I notice that the socialist, who, for the last 30 years, has insisted that private institutions make risky loans based on non-economic factors, still has not abandoned his policies. Socialism does not work. We shouldn't support more of it.

Republican Study Committee letter opposing bailouts from September 17:

We write to express our deep concerns over the increasing propensity, size, and frequency of government interventions to prop up failing private sector companies. These bailouts have set a dangerous and urnmistakable precedent for the federal government both to be looked to and indeed relied upon to save private sector companies from the consequences of their poor economic decisions....

It is evident that no one wants to be the one who says no to a fiscal rescue when there is so much at stake. But the reality is that actions like federal bailouts taken to delay short-term financial pain often end up producing long-term damage to our entire economy. One need only look to Japan and the banking crisis that led to its 'Lost Decade' of recession and stagnant economic growth from which it has still failed to recover. The IMF has called those economic problems "a failure to deal proactively with the impact of the collapse in asset prices" that has led to real GDP growth only averaging 1 percent a year over the past decade.

Republican Study Committee: Chairman Hensarling's Statement on the Economy and Administration Plan for Financial Markets: Initial reaction to the Paulson plan's release on September 19.

Human Events: Republican Study Committee Releases Alternative to Bailout Proposal: Suspend "Mark to Market," stabilize the dollar, schedule Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for privatization, two-year suspension of capital gains taxes, followed by indexing for inflation.

Hot Air: Party like it's 1999 redux: The New York Times predicted Fannie Mae failure

Frank's fingerprints are all over the financial fiasco - The Boston Globe

Brian Wesbury: Psychology and the Economy (via Club for Growth):

Never in history has a drop in consumer confidence caused a recession. But that does not mean there won't be a first time. It could happen in the next few months and we would expect to see some very negative data on economic activity. But this would be followed by an offsetting increase in activity following the psychological slowdown.

Productivity is still booming, and so are exports, the Fed is exceedingly accommodative and tax rates have not been hiked. Moreover, oil prices are below $100 per barrel. Finally, all it would take to fix financial market problems today is a temporary suspension of mark-to-market accounting for a targeted set of illiquid assets.

In other words, any economic problems that the US faces in the next few months or quarters is temporary. Financial markets have priced in Armageddon, and as a result still present one of the greatest buying opportunities of our lifetimes.

Ross Putin: Rule change hypocrisy:

As I noted in a prior posting, financial stocks fell more than 8% on Monday, with short-selling not permitted. Who do they blame for that, with the evil speculating short-sellers out of the picture? So they impeded the free market with no proof of justification.

On the other hand, the price of mortgage securities has been plummeting for months primarily because of a recently imposed rule change called "mark-to-market", which basically forces banks to say that their mortgage security portfolios are worth much less than an objective analysis absent those rules would show them to be. That reduction in "capital" forced banks to try to sell these things and get cash on their balance sheets. But there's no progress in getting the destructive rule changed, even temporarily for a very narrow range of assets....

The short-selling rule change combined with the lack of change in the mark-to-market rule demonstrates that what Congress wants even more than to "save the economy" is to increase their own power and to attack the most fundamental aspects of capitalism and free markets. I only hope the House Republicans can move the debate away from the Paulson/Barney Frank plan.


Jeffrey Miron: Bankruptcy, not bailout, is the right answer. The Harvard lecturer in economics writes:

The fact that government bears such a huge responsibility for the current mess means any response should eliminate the conditions that created this situation in the first place, not attempt to fix bad government with more government.

The obvious alternative to a bailout is letting troubled financial institutions declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy means that shareholders typically get wiped out and the creditors own the company.

Bankruptcy does not mean the company disappears; it is just owned by someone new (as has occurred with several airlines). Bankruptcy punishes those who took excessive risks while preserving those aspects of a businesses that remain profitable.

In contrast, a bailout transfers enormous wealth from taxpayers to those who knowingly engaged in risky subprime lending. Thus, the bailout encourages companies to take large, imprudent risks and count on getting bailed out by government. This "moral hazard" generates enormous distortions in an economy's allocation of its financial resources....

The bailout has more problems. The final legislation will probably include numerous side conditions and special dealings that reward Washington lobbyists and their clients.

Anticipation of the bailout will engender strategic behavior by Wall Street institutions as they shuffle their assets and position their balance sheets to maximize their take. The bailout will open the door to further federal meddling in financial markets.

So what should the government do? Eliminate those policies that generated the current mess. This means, at a general level, abandoning the goal of home ownership independent of ability to pay. This means, in particular, getting rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with policies like the Community Reinvestment Act that pressure banks into subprime lending.

Spengler: Asia Times: Truth, lies, and ticker tape

If American banks are permitted to fail, and their operations maintained intact by the FDIC, new investors can restart operations with a clean slate.

What is so awful about wiping out the home price bubble of the past 10 years? Suppose home prices were to plunge by half (which is where homes in foreclosure clear the market in California or Florida)? Young people would find it easier to start families and old people would work longer before retiring.

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