Deliberately Ignoring the Real Problem

Congress and President Obama are out to get Wall Street now. It’s not as if there doesn’t need to be change on the Street, but it needs to be the right kind. In the past, when Wall Streeters made bad decisions, there were consequences. People learn from consequences and change their behavior.

We’re no longer content to allow that. The federal government must now step in and “correct” the behavior.

One of the architects of a proposed law to penalize the financial markets is Sen. Chris Dodd, parading himself as a paragon of virtue. This is the same Sen. Dodd who had a sweetheart deal for two homes via Countryside Mortgage company. This is the same Chris Dodd who is chair of the Senate Banking Committee, from where he consistently resisted attempts by the Bush administration to more closely watch the government lending agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I’m sure there’s no connection, but Dodd also just happened to receive nearly $134,000 directly from those two agencies over the years.

The new bill being pushed, for some strange reason, omits oversight or a change of rules for both Fannie and Freddie. Everyone else is to get hammered, but these two are exempt.

Yet they are the principal reasons why we got into the subprime lending disaster in the first place. They currently dominate the mortgage lending market. How can they be ignored in the bill?

The current economic car wreck began with Fannie and Freddie. Nothing is being done to correct the problem. What’s to keep it from exploding again?

The late volcanic eruption in Iceland is nothing compared to what may be coming.

But let’s blame Wall Street instead.

Thanks, Trust, & Fiscal Responsibility

President Obama, in response to the Tea Parties last week, told a group of donors that the people shouldn’t be protesting at all. In fact, they should be thanking him. Now, the context of that comment was that he had actually lowered taxes—a rather ludicrous statement given what the future holds with the massive deficits and the healthcare boondoggle.

If you happened to see him making that comment, you couldn’t miss the derision behind it: his disdain for the Tea Parties oozed visibly. Of course, if he continues making statements such as these while maintaining his current policies, he may get a flood of thank you cards. He may not appreciate the source, though.

How can I best illustrate what he’s asking the American people to believe?

That might express it pretty well.

The volcano explosion in Iceland recently provides the backdrop for another bit of commentary.

What does this mean for the average American taxpayer?

Not to fear, however; help is on the way. The president has appointed a special task force to address fiscal responsibility. Its report and recommendations will be due . . . after the November elections. What a surprise.

Presidential Dictatorship

There was a time in the 20th century when it appeared that a president was setting up a virtual one-man/one-party rule. That time was the 1930s; the president was Franklin Roosevelt.

He took office in the midst of the Great Depression and immediately began signing bill after bill to ostensibly take care of the disastrous economy. Many of the bills he signed had new agencies attached to them. They were called his Alphabet Agencies, and his New Deal marked a radical departure from traditional constitutional government.

Critics warned that this socialist direction would not pull the economy out of the doldrums but keep the nation entrenched in its financial pit. All these programs would simply tie up the resources of the nation and forestall recovery.

FDR alienated the business community with his actions, but he didn’t care. He was providing government money to those in need, thereby assuring his reelection. When he won an overwhelming victory in 1936, he determined to take total control of all three branches of the federal government.

The Supreme Court had been a thorn in his side, judging two of his programs unconstitutional. So now FDR had a plan to fill the Court with extra judges who would rule according to his vision of the future. Opponents called it the Court-Packing Plan. By it, he hoped to control all Supreme Court decisions and squash any attempt to declare his programs unconstitutional. One cartoonist at the time pictured it this way:

Roosevelt’s brash attempt to centralize all government power in himself backfired. Members of his own Democratic party couldn’t go along with it—it was just too brazen, too blatant. They balked.

As a result, the more conservative Democrats abandoned him on many of his proposals and joined the Republican opposition. The vaunted New Deal came to a halt. Although the country was saddled with what already had passed Congress, few new initiatives passed and we escaped presidential dictatorship.

FDR’s policies, by the way, never ended the Depression. In 1937, a new round of economic woes hit—a recession within an ongoing depression. Unemployment rates skyrocketed again. By 1939, even his own Treasury Secretary admitted that nothing they had done had made the economy better.

Perceptions, though, are sometimes different.

Since FDR was a good communicator, and since a lot of people received government aid, a significant portion of the population believed that his policies were successful, despite the actual numbers. Even today, we hear the mantra, repeated ad nauseum: Roosevelt brought us out of the Depression.

Perception and reality are often at odds.

Now we have a new New Deal. Barack Obama has consciously promoted himself as the new FDR. The underhanded manner in which he forced through government control of healthcare is indicative of his desire to create presidential dictatorship once again. Keep in mind not one Republican in Congress voted for this bill. It’s one-party rule.

Meanwhile, millions of adoring fans believe that Obama will grant their every wish.

They are in for a huge letdown—that is, if they can ever face reality. The wizard is impotent. He is a little man with no actual power. He succeeds by trickery and glibness alone.

FDR fell short of his ambition for presidential dictatorship. I pray that the new budding presidential dictator will run into a similar brick wall—for all our sakes.

Second Thoughts, Anyone?

Life in the Obama universe hasn’t quite been what his admirers expected. We’re now more than one year into the “New Era” and the millennium hasn’t arrived. What to do? Well, how about reconnecting with reality?

What is the new reality we must now face?

That’s part of it. There’s also an attempt to force people into accepting something they don’t really want.

Looks pretty scary, but you know what’s even scarier?

If we can believe the polls, the president is in trouble. Now I know polls are fluid and people are flighty, but there’s a definite trend. Obama’s approval rating is below 50% in all the states he won in 2008 that had voted for Bush in 2004. That hardly inspires confidence in his political future. A lot of voters seem to be having second thoughts.

As I said, polls can be unreliable, but remorse may be setting in.

That’s the kind of explanation parents have given to their children for their foolish behavior in the 1960s when they experimented with drugs and “free” sex—an appropriate analogy for foolish behavior at the polls in 2008.