Archive for February 2009

More Santelli Excitement

Santelli’s off-the-cuff remarks have indeed energized at least fiscal conservatives and libertarians, who are desperate for good news these days. (Count us among them. We are ready to join the tea party!). We note also, with some glee, that Robert Gibbs is almost as bad a press secretary as Scott McClellan was. Mwahaha.

A friend of this site, John Yackley, founder of the asset management firm Be Free Investments, shares the following on Santelli, Gibbs, and tea parties (thanks, John!):

When asked last week what he thought of Obama’s mortgage bailout plan, CNBC’s now famous Rick Santelli gave a seemingly unscripted criticism of it.  (If you haven’t seen it, check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEZB4taSEoA ).  He attacked no one in the administration personally.  He just appealed to Americans’ sense of fairness and to a belief that hasn’t been given enough voice in Washington during this whole crisis: that in a free country, if you screw up, you live with the consequences.  In this case, if you bought too much house, you and the banker who abetted you in your bad decision, deal with it.

The White House’s response to Mr. Santelli, on the other hand, was completely scripted and full of personal attacks. In a press conference where he mentioned Rick by name six times, White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said, “I feel assured that Mr. Santelli doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”  OK, I don’t know if Rick had read every word of the plan in the 20 hours between its release and someone asking him what he thought of it, but that doesn’t mean he’s a complete ignoramus on the matter, Mr. Gibbs.  He knew the basic outline: the federal government is going to use $275 billion of our money to reduce some people’s mortgage payments, many of whom lied on their mortgage applications.

As a man of the left, Mr. Gibbs then couldn’t help but follow up with a couple of obligatory class warfare-ish jabs at Santelli.  First, he went with, “I’m not entirely sure where or in what house Mr. Santelli lives in, but….” And then, “I think we left a few months ago the adage that if it was good for a derivatives trader that is was good for Main Street.” Yeah, you’re right.  We all know Rick the Trader’s true motives in this. He’s a greedy guy who’s only worried about his taxes going up or his money being worth less because you’re printing so much of it.  It’s impossible for him to also have a genuine concern for the direction in which the country is headed.

I hope the administration’s attacks on Rick Santelli back-fire.  He has struck a cord with freedom and responsibility-loving people.  Websites backing, promoting and trying to organize Rick’s idea of throwing a Chicago Tea Party are popping up all over the place.  Here are two of them.  The first is a site just launched by a friend of mine…www.chicagoteaparty.com and www.reteaparty.com.

–John Yackley
John is the founder and president of Be Free Investments, an asset management firm in Chicago

Bury Burris … Elect Santelli?

Burris’ support in black community begins to waver – International Herald Tribune

This is good news. But what does Bobby Rush think?

And why now? Why did he suddenly remember this week that actually, technically, he HAD been in contact with our friend Rod, or intermediaries, a few other times. He has changed his story 4 times. FOUR.

Folks at the Chicago Tribune are calling for his resignation, saying he’s an embarrassment, and it all should be put back in the hands of the people. Too bad that couldn’t happen before Blagoyevich was impeached and Governor Quinn installed. It is HIS duty now to appoint someone should Burris resign.

But Burris was asked the wrong questions. That’s why he wasn’t more forthcoming (aka honest)…

“I think that he would’ve been more forthcoming if the appropriate questions were asked,” by the committee, said [Chicago resident Danyelle] Hall. “That didn’t happen and that’s not his fault.”

Of course not. Somehow, somewhere, someone is blaming Bush for this.

Update: Or perhaps Rick Santelli would be interested in a Senate seat? He says not, but that’s the kind of energy and, well, anger we might need in a senator from Illinois.

Update Deux: Hey, we weren’t the only ones who wondered about Santelli and public office. Check out Hot Air comments and NRO’s Corner, where K-Lo says:

I’ve had a case of deja vu today.

I’m noticing the tone. I’m seeing the enthusiasm. And I’m digging out from the sheer volume of e-mails I’ve been getting today about that CNBC dude. The reaction to Rick Santelli’s Chicago-trading-floor incident this morning echoes the emotional reaction my inbox had to Sarah Palin’s convention speech this summer.

I make no endorsements. It’s just an observation.

I think people are hungry for someone who is fed up with the way things are and who seem to believe in something enough to know there in an alternative worth fighting for. Some of the voices may be far from perfect, but Americans are looking for signs of the life of an alternative. And so if a representative pops up — someone who appears to have roots and energy, folks will cheer them on in the hopes there’s a candidate here. Maybe not a presidential candidate, but a leader of some sort. Someone who can offer a vision of something other than a culture of bailout.

Today, Rick Santelli was that sign of life.

Gregg Withdrawal and the Census

Good for Senator Judd Gregg to withdraw his nomination as Commerce Secretary. As a fiscal conservative, a New Englander, AND a Senator, he is needed more (than ever) now on the Finance Committee.

And as a matter of principle, we are opposed to the frankly unconstitutional desire of the Obama administration to move the Census to the Chief of Staff’s office, and away from the duties of Commerce. It’s already politicized enough, isn’t it? We imagine Judd Gregg did not want to be part of that, either.

Conspiracy theory: Perhaps Obama folk just wanted Gregg removed from his position as ranking member of the Finance Committee and then in a couple months he would be forced out of the Commerce area, or his duties there would be piece-meal taken over by the Administration.

Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution says: The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

Law directs that the Census Bureau is under jurisdiction of the Commerce Secretary.

So yeah, Obama can just nominate someone else who doesn’t mind White House interference in the Census. But now that Gregg is out, is seems less likely that Obama’s team will find that necessary. After all, they made noise about doing this mainly because some folks believed Gregg, as a conservative, wouldn’t “push hard” for a count of Hipsanics (and other traditionally solid Democrat groups).

But this is boring. Statisticians at Census take their job seriously, right? And why are conservatives always so quick to jump to conspiracy theories anyway? Geez, relax.  (And why are we so sarcastic?)

Ten Score

Official White House portrait

Official White House portrait

Today marks the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, the preserver of the Union, and the signer of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Oft reviled by his political enemies (even within his own cabinet), he is now revered by almost everyone for his ability to manage an ultimately successful war, coax cooperation from disputing factions within his party, and inspire a nation with his rhetoric.

The rhetoric, of course, was not “mere” rhetoric. It sometimes soared, but was always salted with old-fashioned and uniquely American common sense.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”

“That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and, hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise.”

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

Happy Birthday indeed, Mr. President.  You are a son of whom Illinoisans and Americans may rightly be proud.

Wisdom from Barron

This neglect in our educational system leaves the people’s financial education to the sensational press, to socialistic propaganda and to designing politicians. It permits schemers to defraud the small earner and small investor through making him believe that capital accumulations and great fortunes are matters of speculation or public robbery.
-Clarence W. Barron
Founder, Barron’s

Swiss banks not exempt, but can we hope for change?

Later this week, UBS and Credit Suisse will declare they had losses last year of nearly 30 billion Swiss francs, the largest in Swiss history, the AFP reports.  And all due to the subprime crisis that began in the U.S. (thank you Barney Frank and Chris Dodd — but that’s another post). Risk analysts, the canaries in these coal mines, foresaw and documented over-investment in U.S. mortgage-backed securities in a report to UBS in 2002, according to this article from last summer’s Telegraph.

Is this really recent news? No — there were several articles last summer and in October about the credit crunch on Swiss banks, and fears that they would collapse like Lehman Bros. UBS didn’t…yet. And why? They took warnings to heart — eventually — and did some smart selling of their “toxic assets” early last year. Good for them — oh if only banks around the world had done the same. But last year UBS relied on funding from the Swiss government, while Credit Suisse received funding from…Middle Eastern parties.

So, they may not collapse just yet, but we note that the Swiss government is not big enough to bail out the banks completely — together UBS and Credit Suisse have balance sheeets still worth 7 times the Swiss GDP. And with the price of oil plummeting, just how deep are the pockets of Middle Eastern investors?  We wonder.

Those tempted to respond by regulating banks as much as possible (especially with meaningless political gestures like salary caps on executives), could end up causing more problems in the long term. Overreaction is often the worst reaction.

Trillion, Billion, What’s the Difference?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Are we numb, as this mathematician (who actually LOOKS like a mathematician) on CNN suggests?  Check out the CNN snippet at Gateway Pundit.

What’s the big deal? So it’s a lot of money. Just make Bill Gates pay, right? Doesn’t he have, like, a trillion dollars in his lake house? No? Oh. Well, the U.S. has been dominant for too long. Don’t we need a break, man? Let someone else lead. Why not China? Give them a chance.

Well, maybe Obama and Congress are making boo-boos. (Victor Davis Hanson at NRO predicts an implosion). Maybe the media is waking up a little bit and wondering if in fact it was a good idea to back someone without even a cursory effort at scrutiny. Maybe, and more importantly, voters are waking up. A trillion dollars… wow.

I am very happy that Obama, unlike the “eeeevil Bush”, is able to admit his mistakes. But we are dealing with, as Taranto very aptly put it in his Best of the Web today, a president who is managing the country like a public high school principle.

I’m more hopeful for change in two years than I was two weeks ago.