Friday, September 26, 2008

The Bailout

As of this morning the world and the markets are waiting to see if the politicians in Washington are going to adopt the Bush bailout plan. The problem seems to be that the dems have bought into the plan and conservatives (mostly Republicans) have not. So, the President with a low approval rating and the dem Congress with a lower one are in bed together and the people who vote are not willing to jump in that bed. Since there is a possibility for economic chaos if it is not passed, the dems who control Congress could pass it immediately, but they are afraid to do this unless the Republicans are in that shaky bed with them. So, we have a situation where political courage on the part of the dems is necessary to avoid a hypothetical meltdown which they have spent weeks hyping in the press. Someone will blink today or tomorrow and it will be interesting to see who it is.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This should worry you reports FDIC insures all accounts up to $100,000 at its member banks, and it has never failed to honor a claim. The IndyMac debacle is taking a large bite out of FDIC reserves, and if scores of other banks fail in the year ahead, the fund will be depleted. Taxpayers will have to step in. The FDIC knows which banks are at risk; it has a watch list with 117 institutions. The agency won't disclose their names because doing so could cause depositors to panic and pull out all of their funds. It won't take many more failures before the FDIC itself runs out of money. The agency had $45.2 bln in its coffers as of June 30, far short of the $200 bln Whalen says it will need to pay claims by the end of next year. The U.S. Treasury will almost certainly come to the rescue. Emergency federal funding of the FDIC could swell the cost of government rescues of failed financial institutions to more than $400 bln -- not including the $700 bln general Wall Street bailout now under discussion in Congress. That number would be even higher if the government were on the hook for uninsured deposits -- which amount to $2.6 trillion, 37% of the total of $7 trillion held in the U.S. branches of all FDIC member banks... As recently as March, an internal FDIC memo estimated the cost to cover bank collapses in 2008 would be just $1 bln, dropping to $450 mln in 2009. It wasn't even close. The IndyMac failure alone, which happened four months after that memo was circulated, will cost the FDIC $8.9 bln -- and the bill for all 12 collapses will be about $11 bln, the FDIC says.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

President Who?

Joe Biden's denunciation of his own campaign's ad to Katie Couric got so much attention last night that another odd note in the interview slipped by.

He was speaking about the role of the White House in a financial crisis.

"When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed," Biden told Couric. "He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"

You would have needed an experimental TV set in 1929 to see some unknown named Roosevelt instead of President Hoover.

I just love Joe Biden as a counterpoint to that inexperienced Sarah Palin who liberals say is not ready to be in an office she is not running for.

Taxes versus charity, Biden style

Senator Biden says it is patriotic to step up and pay more taxes. He says the bible supports his view even though the bible usually mentions 10% in taxes and not the 39.6% that Biden favors for the "rich". His Catholic training also mentions charity as a moral virtue and this also is generally held to be around 10%. Mr. Biden and his wife recently released their tax returns, and they reported an average of $380, or 0.2% of their income, in annual charitable contributions over a 10-year period. The national average was about 2% of income. Even the phony Al Gore gave nearly $900 a year to charity.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dubious Science

Scientists have discovered that going veggie could be bad for your brain-with those on a meat-free diet six times more likely to suffer brain shrinkage.

This is probably not a valid study, but even if it is, I think I'll risk it and continue to savor my steak and pork ribs.

Democrat Ethics

For most of the past few years, most of the ethical lapses amongst our politicians seemed to be focused on the GOP. Now we have the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Charles Rangle, with problems involving the use of rent controlled apartments in NY and an inability to figure out a way to pay his taxes even though Ways and Means writes our tax policy. He bought a condo in the Dominican several years ago and somewhere along the way the 10.5% interest rate on the purchase was "forgiven" and the rental income for when he wasn't using the condo was disregarded for tax purposes.

Since Charlie is a black politician from Harlem, BestView expected this to be largely overlooked even though Republicans in the House of Representatives have called for an ethics investigation and for him to step aside from his chairmanship. The surprise here is the call today by the New York Times for his stepping aside from the chairmanship while the ethics investigation proceeds. Amazing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Palin Factor

Sarah Palin must still be having a positive effect on the campaign. Both the New York Times and Washington Post have hit pieces on their front pages this Sunday morning. As has been the case in many of these, the headline sounds much more damning than the text which follows. It must be admitted that when a governor appoints someone he or she knows and likes to a position instead of someone who is a political enemy, the warning signs should be raised to full mast. In the Washington Post Palin was criticized for hiring an assistant to handle some of the administrative work. I am sure after learning this, the populace will arise and demand she be burned at the stake.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Grading Palin

I stole this assessment from someone named Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist. Whatever that is.

On a one to ten scale, with ten being perfect, I’d rate her a 6 on this interview (based on what we saw Thursday night), a 9 as a VP pick, and an 11 on driving the Democrats nuts.

Computer Deficiency

The Obama campaign is denigrating McCain's lack of computer use. The ad mocking him on this score is aimed at his age and ignorance of technology. It may not have been smart to make this an issue if it is made public that McCain's war injuries keep him from being able to comb his hair, tie his shoes, salute our military, or even use a keyboard. Combined with Biden's call for a man in a wheel chair to "stand up and take a bow" the expected sensitivity of these liberals seems to be lacking.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere Facts

From National Review.

The earmark for the Bridge to Nowhere originally appeared in the now-infamous highway bill of 2005. That bill included $24 billion in pork-barrel earmarks and will end up costing taxpayers a reckless $286.5 billion over six years. It passed on a 91-4 vote in the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2005, with Sen. John McCain standing in opposition along with three other lonely voices for fiscal responsibility. Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden both voted for the bill and its bridge of ill repute.

The Senate got another chance to stop the bridge on October 20, 2005, when it voted on an amendment offered by Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn that would have redirected the funds from the bridge to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief. By then the grassroots outrage against the bridge was beginning to take hold and there was a good amount of pressure on the Senate to adopt the amendment. That pressure came from both the right and the left, with liberal Markos Moulitsas at the DailyKos stoking the flames. “Honestly,” he wrote, “there’s no reason for any Democrat to vote against this amendment.”

But Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (presently under indictment on corruption charges) played hardball, ominously stating:

I come to warn the Senate, if you want a wounded bull on the floor of the Senate, pass this amendment. I stood here and watched Senator Allen teach the Senate lesson after lesson after something was done to Alabama that he didn’t like. I don’t threaten people; I promise people.

Unfortunately, most senators chose Ted Stevens over the taxpayers. The result was shameful: Coburn’s amendment got only 15 votes. John McCain missed that vote, although Obama and Biden both buckled to Stevens and voted against the amendment. Moulitsas commented afterward that “Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero.”

Terror Targets

The following gives what it considers probable and possible modes of terror attacks which are certain to come. Since they predicted the use of planes on 9/11, I guess it is instructive to at least read them. Here is one of the scariest.

Attack on U.S. oil refineries

Probability: High

Impact: High

Four terrorists driving minivans approach four oil refineries: The Royal Dutch Shell installation at Port Arthur, Texas; the Valero Energy refinery at Corpus Christi, Texas; the Chalmette refinery east of New Orleans; and the Chevron refinery at Pascagoula, Miss. They crash through the gates and aim for the key catalytic units used to refine petroleum. The crashes set off more than 500 pounds of dynamite in each van. Eleven workers die in the initial attacks and six more perish in the infernos that send plumes of dark smoke miles into the sky. Even before the flames can be extinguished, the price of oil skyrockets to more than $200 a barrel. The president declares a state of emergency and dispatches National Guard units to protect key infrastructure.

Casualties: 17 dead, 34 wounded.

Consequences: In a single day, America loses 15 percent of its crude-oil processing capability for more than a year. The Federal Reserve slashes the prime rate by a full point in a desperate attempt to avert a recession, as gas prices balloon. Critics bemoan the fact that, for decades, the United States neglected development of its “dirty” oil-processing infrastructure -- and now it's too late. Total economic cost: $1.2 trillion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Election Criteria

After a 2 month hiatus for various reasons, BestView is back in time to guide your selection in the presidential election. If you know nothing else about the nominees, keep in mind that both Obama and Biden are lawyers and neither McCain nor Palin are. Makes the choice fairly obvious in my opinion.

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