Perpetrators As Saviors?

Frank & Company: What Crisis?
Frank & Company: What Crisis?

You might not know this if you don’t go outside the mainstream media for your news, but guess who is really responsible for the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mess that started this whole economic breakdown?

 The media would have you believe that it is the Bush administration’s fault, but that is false. In fact, it was Bush who attempted, in 2003, to warn Congress about the situation and call for oversight and changes in the way these companies operated.

You see, they were giving so many loans to people who had bad credit that the administration feared a meltdown could occur. Why were these companies giving all these loans? They were pushed into it by the Clinton administration back in the 1990s. Former Clinton officials then took over the reins of these companies, the most conspicuous being Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson.

When Bush tried to regulate them, his primary opponent in this attempt was Rep. Barney Frank, who famously stated,

These two entities—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.

This is the same Barney Frank who now blames the Republicans for lack of oversight.

Here are some interesting statistics: The top three recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past ten years are Chris Dodd, current chairman of the Senate Banking Committee; Barack Obama; and John Kerry. Dodd, along with Frank, are now positioning themselves as the saviors of the American economy, frustrated by Republicans who voted against the bailout.

Note that Obama is the second highest recipient of contributions over the past ten years, even though he has been in the Senate only since 2005. That, by itself, is remarkable. Oh, by the way, both Raines and Johnson have been advisors for the Obama campaign.

I don’t want to come off here as the typical political commentator who vents. Yet I believe it is essential to make these facts known. Biblical integrity requires that we speak the truth, and truth is what our country needs desperately at this moment.

The Media Factor

Conservative commentators have decried media bias and manipulation so often that I am hesitant to add my voice to the mix. The chorus of objections to the way the media handles “the news” has become so strong that the objections might have the opposite effect–people may get tired of hearing about it and shut out the complaint.

Yet the facts cannot be ignored: study after study indicates that the opinion makers in the TV and print media are overwhelmingly biased toward Democrats. Now, when I say biased, I don’t mean they simply favor the Democrats; I mean they slant stories in such a way that all fairness seems to be abandoned. I’ve mentioned previously the absurd stories that have circulated about Sarah Palin.

But another way of slanting is to not report real stories. Joe Biden has committed verbal suicide on the campaign trail numerous times, but his remarks go virtually unreported. Last week he said that when the Great Depression hit in 1929, FDR went on television to calm the American people. In 1929, FDR was governor of New York and television didn’t yet exist in the general public. Can you imagine what would have happened to Palin if she had made that remark?

Or take Obama and his “friends”: unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers; convicted real estate developer and Democratic fundraiser Tony Rezko. How many voters are aware of the significance of these connections? Even his “former” pastor, Jeremiah Wright, has disappeared from the headlines.

Then there are Obama’s statements: he’s been in all 57 states; Pennsylvanians are bitter and cling to their guns and religion, and don’t like anybody who is different than them. One could add to this list quite easily, but those are the ones that readily come to mind. Yet Dan Quayle misspelled potato and was portrayed as a dunce. What if Quayle had said there are 57 states? We would still be hearing about that.

Although this is a political cartoon, it is not really stretching the point: for McCain, or any Republican for that matter, the media is almost always the enemy. And voters who don’t check alternative sources for their news [informative websites; blogs] will be misled.

Are Voters Foolish? (Part III)

The Presidential Contenders at the First Debate

The Presidential Contenders at the First Debate

As if to prove my point in the previous posting, a couple of polls taken after the first presidential debate on Friday night gave Obama the “victory.” That, by itself, is not the story. Although when I watched the debate, my opinion was the opposite of those polls, I was judging success by the following factors:

  • Which candidate was closer to Biblical principles in his answers?
  • Which candidate was more honest in his answers in comparison to what he has said in the past?
  • Which candidate handled himself more appropriately (not interrupting, not getting peeved over the other’s answers, etc.)

But those were my criteria for judging success. In the polls mentioned above, the reason more viewers gave the debate to Obama is summarized in this way: “I felt he was more attuned to my needs.”

This need-oriented outlook, based on selfishness, not on the ultimate good of the nation or proper principles, carried the day, it seems.

While I am not surprised, I am disappointed. In particular, I wonder how many of those who responded in that way consider themselves Christians. As a nation, I fear we are on the edge of the abyss . . . and the fall will be long and devastating.

I keep returning to one of my favorite scriptural passages, a favorite because it explains what must be our priority:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)

Are Voters Foolish? (Part II)

Mankind is sinful. That’s the Biblical message. Consequently, we should not be surprised that voters will make foolish choices at times. Yet what do we mean when we say that mankind is sinful, and how does that connect with voting?

Let me try to explain how I see sin. First, all sin is foolish. What could be more foolish than to stiffarm the God who created you and who wants to free you from a life (both now and in eternity) separated from His love? Our rebellious hearts create a barrier. It’s not God’s fault; it’s ours. We are foolish.

Second, all sin is selfishness. We don’t want anyone else telling us what to do, and we don’t want to be held accountable to the standard God has set. Instead, we want to follow our own thinking, our own selfish desires, our misguided concepts of what is “good.” In short, we want to be our own god.

Combine that selfishness with foolishness and then apply it to voting. What is the result? We vote for whoever promises to give us more. We just want things to go better, so we pick someone who says he is all about “change.” Never mind what the change might be; we simply want “change.” We choose not to be truly informed on the issues. We don’t bother to think about foundational principles of life and government. All of this comes from sinful hearts.

I expect that from the world at large. What is distressing is when professing Christians do the same thing. We are to be the salt and light in this society. As Jesus noted, if the salt loses its flavor, what is it good for? The answer: nothing. If we hide the light, who is going to find the right path? No one.

We should be taking the lead in promoting Biblical principles in all of society, but particularly, at this time, in the sphere of politics and government. We should be the most informed on the issues and be able to explain why certain policies are right and others wrong. We should never vote for “change” without first examining what the change will be. Neither should we simply cast our vote for those who promise to give us more goodies. That’s selfishness. That’s sin.

Are Voters Foolish? (Part I)

I saved this political cartoon about a decade ago because I thought it was an insightful commentary on the problem with voters.

Let me be quick to say that I favor a representative system of government; people need to have a say in government because the government itself needs a check and balance. To trust a small group of individuals (whether in a monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or dictatorship) is foolish. The tendency is to see oneself as more important than one ought, which gives rise to a lot of false ideologies such as “divine right of kings” or rulership based on one’s rank in society. Therefore, people should have input into how the government operates and who should be operating it.

Yet that doesn’t mean that we can repose all trust in the people either. In our political discourse, we have raised “the people” to an almost godlike status. The people will always make the right choice, some say. That can only be true if the people are thinking the way God intended for them to think, and then acting upon what they know is right, based on Biblical principles.

As I survey American political history, and the choices the people have made over the years, the result is definitely mixed. All too often, people will vote for that which leads to the destruction of a society. Why will they do so?

There are many reasons, but they all start with a Biblical view of man and of sin. I’ll continue with this in the next post.

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #4

Bush I Experienced a Short Economic Downturn

Bush I Experienced a Short Economic Downturn

George H. W. Bush inherited a robust economy from Reagan. He even pledged, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” If only he had stayed faithful to that pledge. He did reject new taxes from a Democratic Congress a number of times, but as part of a budget deal in 1990, he allowed some taxes to be raised. That angered his conservative base, a base he would need in the next election.

In early 1991, after the success of the Gulf War, Bush’s approval rating was at 91%. Then a downturn in the economy began to erode that approval. Now, let’s be serious here: it was just that–a downturn. It was not a recession; neither was it a depression. In the months leading up to the 1992 election, all the indicators showed an economy revived and growing again. All that had happened was a minor correction in the market, something which occurs regularly.

Yet the Democratic nominee for president turned this economic “hiccup” into the Great Depression. Clinton’s campaign slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid!” became the focal point of his bid for the presidency. He called the Bush economy the worst in America in the last 50 years. Really? This required short-term memory loss. What happened to Jimmy Carter? Did everyone simply forget the late 1970s?

“The worst economy in 50 years” was a blatant lie. But it set the tone for the entire Clinton presidency, where lying became an art form.

Clinton can be excused for this, some say, because look how well the economy functioned during his administration. He must have been a financial genius. Two factors must be recognized here: first, a president can sometimes be the beneficiary of the policies of his predecessors; second, a president does not control the entire economy–things happen without him.

Just as Reagan suffered from the Carter policies in his first two years, Clinton benefitted from Reagan’s policies that reinvigorated America. Just because Reagan left office doesn’t mean his policies and their benefits ended when he moved out of the White House. They continued through the presidencies of his successors.

Clinton also found himself in the middle of the boom. The new internet technology was just coming into its own. He was hardly responsible for that. Of course, to be fair, neither was he responsible for the bust at the end of his term.

The point being, Clinton really had very little to do with how America’s economy functioned during the 1990s. The only real economic reform during his administration was the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, for which he took credit. That was a joke. It was the Republican Congress that formulated that plan; he vetoed it at first, then signed it into law prior to the 1996 election, to bolster his reelection bid.

Clinton, therefore, had little to do with the robust economy of the decade. Yet he smugly took credit for everything.

A President at the Height of His Smugness

A President at the Height of His Smugness

There is a quote attributed to Lincoln, whether genuine or not, that I hope is not an accurate assessment of the American people today. Supposedly Lincoln commented, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

A lot of people were fooled by Clinton. Are we going to see a repeat of that in this upcoming election? Is the electorate foolish? That sounds like a good topic for a future post.

Democrats & the Economy: History Lesson #3

Jimmy Carter: Author of Stagflation

Jimmy Carter: Author of Stagflation

The 1970s were dark years in many ways, and one cannot blame all the economic woes on one individual. OPEC kept increasing oil prices, which was a major headache for everyone. Yet presidential leadership can make a difference. That leadership was not forthcoming, however. At the beginning of the decade, we had Watergate and the Nixon resignation, followed by Ford, who failed to inspire. Both were Republicans; the economy was not strong.

When Jimmy Carter took office in 1977, it was hard to believe things could get worse–but they did. The Carter presidency gave rise to a new term: stagflation. What did it mean? Depressed productivity occurring simultaneously with high inflation. Unemployment rose to 9%, inflation topped out at over 13%, and buying a home became foolhardy. Who would want to pay double-digit interest rates? Carter tried “voluntary” wage and price controls. To save energy, he encouraged people to turn their thermostats down in the winter to 65 degrees. That’s an energy plan?

While the decade’s problems cannot be laid solely at Carter’s feet, he obviously didn’t have any idea of what to do to solve them. When Reagan took office in 1981, he inherited this terrible economy. The media loved to call it “Reaganomics.” But Reagan’s first budget and the tax cuts he initiated didn’t even start to go into effect until October 1981. What the country was experiencing was not Reagan’s fault. By the end of 1982, things were picking up, and by the time the next election came in 1984, the economy was in a constant pattern of growth. Reagan noted that after a while, the media stopped referring to the economic situation as Reaganomics–they didn’t want to give him any credit for the turnaround.

Reagan: Presidential Leadership on the Economy

Reagan: Presidential Leadership on the Economy

Genuine Presidential leadership on the economy is a rare commodity. None of the Democratic presidents I have highlighted thus far really understood how an economy works. Their basic solution for growth was government spending, which is actually a big part of the problem.