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No Questions Asked

Scamming along the campaign trail. Bailout trumps Constitution -- and the Bible. Alaska: Flyover country? Roush: Why can't we be friends? Thatcher "middle class"? Plus more.

10.3.08

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FEC, OUT TO LUNCH
Re: The Prowler's Obama's Fishy $200 Million:

Bravo for reporting this story. Hope Rush, Hannity and other radio personalities pick up your fine reporting. The FEC needs to do their job before the election, not after it.
-- Bill Mortensen

Both items in yesterday's Prowler will never get the light and heat they deserve for the same reason: the media has abandoned even pretense of responsibility in order to get Barack Obama elected. The truth no longer matters if it interferes with that agenda in any way whatsoever.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Is it just the FEC or the public's lack of interest that allows this kind of scam?

At the local level -- City Council in my little town -- the best fun I ever had was bird-dogging one council member who had every union, big chain hotel, any business worth a donation -- all beholden to her for favors in local legislation.

The crowning insult of her fraudulent re-election campaign was when she filed an expense of $200 for a victory party at a grateful hotel. Open Bar pouring champagne, Stoly, Maker's Mark. Live Band. Endless tables of smoked salmon, pate, hot and cold buffet -- it was the talk of the town.

Common sense and experience told me I could not take my husband and two teenage grandsons to Outback for two hundred bucks. So I went over to the hotel, pretended I was planning a wedding reception and asked for an estimate, food, bar and band. The quoted tab was in the thousands. I primly thanked the manager, remarking that I had hoped for something along the lines of $200 political celebration. I imagine he was on the phone to the Council person before I was out of the lobby.

A friend and I went to City Hall and checked out all her expense filings. What a wondrous fairy tale it was. Undervalued "in kind" donations, A tapestry of inexplicable "errors." We burnt up the copy machine getting evidence and took our findings to Sacramento.

Months went by. We kept returning to City Hall to check this Council member's files. Finally! An amended filing -- coming a little closer to the actual cost and painfully coughed up by the cheapskate miscreant. Said member hoped it would never come to light that the famous $200 party investigated by two citizens, that it would never end with the state making her pony up. So I publicly thanked her for correcting her $200 "error," to the roars of laughter of those assembled. No one had ever stood up to her before.

If all citizens kept watch on local government officials, perhaps they would not view "public service" as the gravy train it has become.

I would say that is keeping them honest. But you really can't keep a politician honest. Most have a chicken-thief mentality to start with. Our trips to Sacramento, poring over cases of fraudulent campaign filings confirmed that.

If Obama never works another day in his life, he can live off his ill gotten gains. He had an excellent training ground as community organizer in Chicago.

As for Obama's credit card donations -- how many do you think were made on nearly maxed out cards that have now been turned over to credit companies for collection.
Who ultimately pays for them?
-- Diane Smith

We all remember the quid pro quo to China from the Clintons. Communist China gave him millions for his campaign and he gave them the Cray Supercomputer. That small gift has moved China from an 18th century scientific country to one that routinely demonstrates the ability to black out our satellites. That small gift has enabled China to accomplish in a decade what it took the western world 60 years to accomplish: sophisticated scientific calculations to launch a space program.

So China has much to be grateful to the democrats who have "caught them up" in terms of technology. Since they have quite literally millions of young men under arms our only advantage was technology. I am sure they will receive even more from the Obama Nation and finally eclipse us economically, technologically and then militarily. On that date we will cease to exist.

So we can easily, if we care to look, view the democrats inexorable march to our socialist dictatorship modeled after their hero, Fidel Castro's Cuba.
-- Jay W. Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

If the Democratically controlled Congress won't police itself (and its track record speaks for itself), and if FEC is too afraid to do its job of investigating illegal contribution to Messiah Obama, then it is up to the media to level a hue and cry that will awaken the sleeping giant of the American citizenry. The Constitution and precedent has given the press great power, but, as Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, with that great power comes great responsibility. MSN and NBC are clearly enamored with the young senator from Illinois; ABC, CBS, CNN and most paper outlets are not quite in the left orbit as the aforementioned pair, but they are definitely less than unbiased. (Amazing how Obama is still not questions about experience but not an article from the mainstream media goes by without mentioning Governor Palin's limited experience). TAS may be the voice in the wilderness to start the murmuring. What is needed is amplification from Fox News and talk radio. (Hell, I would even invite Rush and his Ditto Heads.) Sometimes a well placed whisper can turn into the roar of a hurricane. If Conservatives/Libertarians do not make their voices heard this election cycle, our voices may be snuffed out for generations to come.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

FRUSTRATING FOR FEDERALISTS
Re: Quin Hillyer's Maddening for Madisonians:

I am puzzled why the supporters of the bailout haven't produced definitive statistics showing that credit sources are drying up. I've read a lot of anecdotal evidence, but am not persuaded that it justifies laying out $700 billion.

Also, why hasn't the government demanded to examine the loan portfolios of banks so Treasury doesn't have to buy a pike in the poke, and can get a better idea about the size of the crisis?
-- Ray Kisch

Quin hit the nail on the head in so many places.

He gave due credit to the FDIC, SEC, and the Fed Reserve. Those institutions were able to stem the immediate tsunami within their existing authority -- and they were able to do it largely behind the scenes (unlike Hank Paulson, who was clamoring for camera time at the drop of a hat). The only nit I have is that Quin intimates that there is still a requirement for some sort of Government-sponsored bailout, but maybe just not as big as was first proposed by the Administration, or as passed in the Senate last night.

I'm of the opinion that no bailout is required. Yes, legislation will need to be passed and signed. But it certainly should not be in the form of a bailout at taxpayer expense. Instead, the legislation should only address two issues: taxes and divestment. Congress should set the capital gains tax to 0%; this will repatriate the $6 trillion sitting in overseas accounts -- U.S. companies will need to find ways to invest those funds -- guess where the capital will go? Congress should also set the corporate tax rate to 0%; we pay them at the retail level anyway -- companies are simply clearinghouses in the collection of those taxes. If both taxes are zeroed-out, the US economy will double in five years, and tax revenues will shoot through the roof to the point where the public will be clamoring for a further income tax decrease. The divestment, of course, would cover Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They should simply cease to exist.

Quin rightly identified our up and coming conservative leadership holding public office. One individual member I would also like to highlight is Congressman Mike Pence. Never mind that Rich Lowry of NRO fame called him "irresponsible" (I can hear WFB moaning and turning in his grave), Rep. Pence is a major guiding force in the House of Representatives and is the keeper (among some others) of the conservative movement in that institution. Even though he is in the minority, Mike's voice commands respect. His speech on the House floor before the vote on Monday made me proud to be associated with the movement.

At the end of the day, the post-mortem on this fiasco will show that the starting point was passage of the CRA; the tipping point was the relaxation of loan standards in '99; and that the glue holding it all together was in the form of two unaccountable GSEs.

Now it's time for the free market to do what the Government could never do -- institute internal reforms that make sense and that can be self-governed in this economy.
-- Owen H. Carneal, Jr.
Yorktown, Virginia

Where was Senator Anti-Pork when the roll was called last night on the ridiculous bailout bill loaded up with special interest corporate welfare? Was he taking names and kicking ass? No, he was in the tank with the rest of the sheeples in the Senate. "Country first," "maverick," "a fighter for you and me"? What a joke! He had two issues that could have overcome all the problems Republicans face this year: "drill, drill, drill" and "reform, don't bailout." He fumbled both of them. He either lacked the understanding, the political guts, or the energy to exploit them. It is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone that his only "maverick" tendencies are when he elects to join with his Democrat friends to kick conservatives and libertarians to the curb. Be sane. Blank the Presidential line this year.

And once again Quin Hillyer astonishes me. After a really good column on the bailout, he notes as "rising stars" Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor. Huh? Yes, they had some better (not great, but better) ideas of how to deal with the financial crisis. But, Quin, they voted for that miserable bailout bill! They know how ridiculous it is, and they voted for it anyway! I don't plan to support any political promotion for anyone who votes for this monstrosity. Let them stew in the House. They deserve nothing better.

I would hope that some conservative periodical (Human Events?) will publish the final vote on the bailout bill. If someone does, I encourage everyone on this blog to cut it out, put it up on your bulletin board, and never forget who was with the corrupt politicians/community organizers/financiers and who was with the citizens of the American Republic.
-- Stephen Zierak
Kansas City, Missouri

ALASKANS ON PALIN
Re: James P. Lucier's Alaskan Foreign Policy:

Thanks. We who live in Alaska appreciate that the truth is getting out about our Governor. She is a very accomplished and smart woman who gets things done.
-- Helen Buckwalter

I find it ironic that a writer who lives in Leesburg Virginia somehow thinks he has an insight into Alaskan foreign policy. Has Mr. Lucier ever actually been to Alaska? If he had visited our great state perhaps he would have gotten some key points right. First --Russian jets have not actually entered US airspace; when jets were scrambled in Feb. the Russian jets were still 500 miles form the coast of Alaska. Second -- the jets were scrambled from Elmendorf AFB -- not the National Guard. Palin played no role in the event; she was informed shortly afterwards of the incident -- but so were the rest of us via newspapers and television. To claim she played a role shows the lack of insight regarding the role the US Air Force vs. the National Guard.

Likewise Mr. Lucier overplays Alaska's role as an economic power. Alaska differs from the rest of the US in three distinct ways:

1. Demographics: We have a population of 625,000; we're 75% white and 80% Christian -- we have less than 5% African-American and around 20% native. In other words -- we're tiny and in no way representative of the multi-cultural country that the rest of America is. Furthermore we have the lowest population density -- 1.1 person / sq. mile.

2. Taxes & Dividends: We have no state income tax... and we tax the oil companies quite a bit thus providing us with a surplus (which is then distributed back to us) -- so in this way we differ greatly from every other state out there. Other states have no income tax -- but no other state gives out a dividend.

3. Federal Money: AK is a very young state (we turn 50 in Jan.) and the only way our economy has been allowed to grow is through government funding. We've gotten billions of your tax money over the years -- much of it goes to federal programs (like defense, the coast guard and parks) -- but quite a bit goes towards infrastructure. We're unique in that we have this giant budget surplus due to oil -- yet also get a huge federal injection of cash every year.

These 3 factors make AK very unique in regards to government -- and no other state (much less a nation) could function under the above circumstances without intense federal oversight. Thus any politician has a rather skewed view of policy and I would argue that these circumstances render politicians out of touch on a national level. If you want proof of this look at the current Steven's trial and read about Young's ethical problems with such bills as the Bridge to Nowhere and Coconut road (Young is also under investigation for bribes and unreported gifts).

I love my state and I encourage you to come visit; but to say that our removal from the rest of America somehow qualifies our legislators as foreign policy experts and economic powerhouse requires quite a spin.
-- William Finley
Anchorage, Alaska

Mr. Lucier writes: "They (Democrats) had to shore up a nominee (Obama) whose only foreign policy experience to date had been to interfere in the elections in Kenya on behalf of his cousin, Raila Odinga."

How unfair of Mr. Lucier to completely overlook Obama's foreign aid experience. Somebody's sending that dollar each month to George.

As to Russia's designs on Alaska, I say let them have it -- maybe they'll sell us some of the oil.

I'm more concerned about foreign policy toward our southern neighbors. Sarah Palin has a funny accent and I don't trust it. She doesn't sound like Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, or any other foreign policy expert that the Democrats have put up. I hope someone asks her about Central America. If she says knicker-OGG-wuh, I'll vote for her. If I hear knee-her-AW-wuh, I'm going with the Constitution Party.
-- Dan Martin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Nice try at defending Governor Sarah Palin on her foreign policy experience. Another attempt to rationalize Senator John McCain's choice as a Vice-President on the GOP ticket. The Russians may fly over parts of Alaska, but your story has trouble starting its engine to persuade anyone with common sense. But, thank you for your opinion and attempt at justification for the choice of Governor Sarah Palin. May the best candidates be elected in November for the sake of the American people who deserve great leadership in this time of need.
-- John Basmajian

An additional foreign policy factor missed is that because of the personnel shortages within the American military, the one land based Strategic Missile Defense installation which is in Alaska is manned by the Alaskan National Guard. I do not know how the Alaskan State Command Authority ASCA meshes with the National Command Authority NCA but unless the constitution has been repealed they have to mesh in some fashion.
-- Gregory Franke

IT'S A RELIGION FOR SEC. PAULSON, TOO
Re: Robert Stacy McCain's The Bible Vs. the Bailout:

Recently a neighbor was accusing local government of Communism because four days after Hurricane Ike, authorities would not let the media converge on Galveston Island. He claimed that "they" were trying to hide the fact that there were numerous bodies, and the public had the right to see the death and devastation. This angered me beyond comprehension. After a heated exchange, I simply left, hoping I would not have to even see the man any time soon. My wife later came to the back yard bearing my neighbor's apology. He said that he was stressed out, and was not in the mood to "get into a political discussion." At this moment, I was literally struck with a realization. Conservatism is not a matter of politics; it is a matter of morality. The authors of the Constitution were guided by it, our laws are supposed to enforce it, and our elected officials are bound to uphold it. I (along with others who know me) had never understood why I am so intense regarding my conservative beliefs until that moment. This is the first article that I have ever read that linked the two, and I could not agree with the premise more.
-- John Hornsby
Houston, Texas

If one looks at the history of the world, any "re-ordering" of government -- from the Nazis to this attempt to socialize America -- has required one vital component: scaring the citizenry to death in order to make them as pliable as possible.

Question: what's the difference between a "bailout" and a "coup d'etat"? Answer: the former isn't as bloody as the latter -- period.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Thank you for "The Bible vs. the Bailout" by Robert Stacy McCain. He is right that the commandment "Thou shalt not steal" applies to the government as well as individuals. The Protestant Dutch Republic of the 16th century gave birth to capitalism when the founders decided to take seriously the commandments as well as all of the many other verses on property. They created secure property rights unseen in Europe before, as well as the necessary courts and police to enforce them. As a result, the Dutch Republic became the wealthiest, most powerful nation in Europe for almost 200 years.

Today, hardly any Protestants defend property as the Dutch did. Most have swallowed socialism without tasting it. The Acton Institute (acton.org) offers the lone Christian defense of property and free market capitalism as far as I know.

In addition to violating the Biblical prohibition of theft, socialism denies the Biblical description of the nature of man and the origin of evil -- a rebellious mankind. Socialism teaches that all people are born innocent and commit evil acts because of the oppression of the wealthy. If properly were eliminated, or at least distributed evenly, all evil would disappear.

Many Christians will respond that the Bible also commands that we give to the poor. But they should remember that the Bible commands that individuals give to the poor, not that the state take wealth by force and give it to whomever it deems fit. State redistribution of wealth does not satisfy the Biblical command and does not absolve individuals of their personal responsibility to give. The Biblical command assumes that individuals have property that they will freely give to the poor out of love. Socialism takes by force and redistributes.

Also, socialism assumes that the wealthy have gained their wealth by dishonest means. If they had, then forced redistribution would be a moral thing to do. A few rich have gone to prison for their crimes, but the vast majority (Dr. Tom Stanley estimates 85%) have earned their wealth by growing a business honestly. Judging all wealthy by a dishonest standard is immoral.

Christian scholars had debated the morality of the marketplace, especially the question of a just price, for over a thousand years before the founding of the Dutch Republic. By the 16th century these scholars and theologians had settled on the price determined in the free market as the only possible just price. Free markets are nothing but the instantiation of property rights. The Protestant Dutch Republic built a nation on that principle. Adam Smith frequently cited the Dutch Republic as the one nation that had come closest to his ideal of natural freedom in his book "Wealth of Nations." The Dutch passed on their heritage to Great Britain and the US.

However, for the past century we have gone whoring after other gods. We have abandoned God's plan for a limited state and have replaced God with the government. Today, we practice what Ludwig von Mises called "statolatry." We attribute to the state attributes that belong only to God, such as omnipotence and omniscience.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Robert Stacy McCain replies:
Mr. McKinney's historical perspective is much appreciated. Indeed, acceptance of the so-called "social gospel" as a counterfeit substitute for the original Gospel illustrates that Gresham's law is applicable to theology as well as to economics. One might recall the Apostle Paul's prophecy of a time when men would "not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2 Timothy 4:3 KJV).

Our touchy-feely clergy could use a healthy dose of Calvinism, just as our feel-your-pain politicians could use a healthy dose of Calvin Coolidge-ism. This latest financial "crisis" reminds me very much of the occasion when England and France sought relief from their World War I debt payments. Coolidge replied in his inimitably terse manner: "They hired the money, didn't they?" A thesis in political economy, in just six words!

BLOG PATROL
Re: Commentary on AmSpecBlog:

I occasionally check in on the AmSpecBlog and generally leave as soon as I come across some snotty comment about how weak Sarah Palin is. Reminds of Little Green Footballs and the fixation on "creationists" that displays the personality disorder of whoever runs that site.

Anyway, if you have complaints about the ticket, why don't you focus them on the top of the ticket, where the rubber meets the road. Your whining endlessly about a VP nominee is way more indicative of intellectual shortcomings than anything Palin has said. John McCain considered running as John Kerry's VP last time. There -- have fun with that one for a while. And lay off Sarah. At least she is a real person, and, unlike you, has actually accomplished some good for her town and her state during her career. Oh yeah, you write. That's got to be tough.
-- Kent Ramsay
Aurora, Ohio

ROUSH HEARTS CONSERVATIVES
Re: Mike Dooley's letter (under "Right Into My Trap") in Reader Mail's Greenlight Special and David Gonzalez's letter (under "Failure to Communicate") in Reader Mail's Not So Fast:

Mr. Dooley writes: "Thus, unwittingly, Mr. Roush reinforces my point that Liberals are befallen with the psychological malady of projection "where they accuse others of the very attitudes and behaviors they themselves engage." Two paragraphs later, he scribbles: "Unfortunately, Mr. Roush's testimony has that "some-of-my-best-friends-are-black" type flavor to it." Projection, you say Mr. Dooley?

Mr. Dooley asserts: "Not being a Conservative nor living as one, I am not surprised Mr. Roush thinks these stories of Liberal rejection and outrage are vastly overblown if not totally imaginary..." only later to state, "But, as I did, if you pass from being a Liberal to being a Conservative, woe will be unto you." Huh?

According to Mr. Dooley: "Conservatives write that way because they genuinely don't like you. Liberals write that way because they think themselves the very embodiment of reason, decency, sweetness and light." I think, Mike, you have successfully slandered a great number of conservatives and liberals. Has it ever occurred to you that most conservatives and liberals are people of good will who, confident in their philosophical positions, acknowledge areas of agreement, while vigorously and civilly debating their differences in the pursuit of greater understanding?
-- Mike Roush
P.S. David Gonzalez writes: "I offer this difference between liberals and conservatives: Conservatives think that liberals have terrible ideas. Liberals feel that conservatives are terrible people."

To the second part of this formulation, I say nonsense!

IN VAIN
Re: Christopher Holland's letter (under "Brilliantly Flawed") in Reader Mail's Greenlight Special and Daniel Mandel's The Hero of Trafalgar at 250:

When Christopher Holland says, "The Duke of Wellington met [Nelson] during his last visit to London and thought him the most vain and silly, the biggest fool he ever met," he is only giving half the case.

Sir Arthur Wellesley, as he was then, was supposed to meet with Lord Castlereigh. During his wait, "a gentleman, whom from his likeness to his pictures and the loss of an arm, I immediately recognized as Lord Nelson," was shown in. And indeed Nelson began talking about himself, rather absurdly.

Then something Wellesley said made Nelson wonder. He got up, went out of the room, and when he came back he was, as Wellington put it, "altogether a different man, both in manner and matter."

And Wellington went on to say, "I don't know that I ever had a conversation that interested me more.... I saw enough to be satisfied that he was really a very superior man."
-- Joseph T. Major

LADY THATCHER
Re: Jeffrey Lord's post, Who Is David Frum?, on AmSpecBlog:

Regarding Jeffrey Lord's comparison of Sarah Palin to "middle class" Margaret Thatcher, I would point out that Margaret Thatcher had a degree from "elitist" Oxford (and also that the term "middle class" has elitist implications in the UK that it does not have here): "Margaret Roberts attended a local state school and from there won a place at Oxford, where she studied chemistry at Somerville College (1943-47). Her tutor was Dorothy Hodgkin, a pioneer of X-ray crystallography who won a Nobel Prize in 1964" (Source: website of the Thatcher Foundation). Throughout her career, Margaret Thatcher has demonstrated respect for ideas and education. She is no populist, and you would not have caught her claiming to be the British equivalent of "Joe Six-Pack."
-- Cathy

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