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County Republican Party leaders censure Sen. Graham

The Post and Courier – By Robert Behre

The Charleston County Republican Party’s executive committee took the unusual step Monday night of censuring U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham for stepping across the GOP party line.

County Chairwoman Lin Bennett said the unanimous vote “is an effort to get his attention. They (party leaders) are just fed up, and they want him to know they’re fed up.”

The resolution mentions Graham’s cooperation with U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., on a bipartisan energy bill, and his support for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program and the time he called some opponents of immigration reform “bigots.”

“U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham — in the name of bipartisanship — continues to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism,” the resolution reads.

Bennett said the resolution passed unanimously by a voice vote among about 50 of the party’s 104 executive committee members.

She said party faithful have talked about the resolution for a while. “The feeling is if you’re not going to uphold the platform, then why bother to run as a Republican?” she said.

Graham’s spokesman Kevin Bishop said his boss has a lifetime conservative voting record of 90 percent and last year was rated the 15th most conservative senator by National Journal.

“Like former President Reagan, he strongly believes elected officials need to find common ground and work together to solve difficult problems like making our nation energy-independent and protecting our environment,” Bishop said. “Working to solve problems and being conservative are not mutually exclusive. You can do both and that’s what people in South Carolina elected him to do.”

Warren Sloan, a James Island Realtor and the county party’s third vice chairman, said he wrote the resolution because he was upset with how Graham treated the crowd during recent town hall meetings.

“We have people in office who are not living by the Republican way,” he said, “and yet nobody says anything about it. Lindsey Graham is a perfect example of that.”

Throughout Graham’s career, he has fashioned himself as a pragmatic politician willing to reach across the aisle and compromise to reach a solution. His recent willingness to support a cap-and-trade energy bill is just the latest example.

“I don’t think that it will cause Lindsey Graham to do anything differently than he has already done,” Bennett said, “but it’s a message from the voters and activists in Charleston County that they have had enough.”

But Clemson University political science professor Dave Woodard said Graham may have overreached on the cap-and-trade issue.

“I think he’s in trouble. I really do,” Woodward said. “Obviously, he doesn’t run for a while (2014, to be exact), and he’s hoping people forget, but I think that’s not going to be the case. I think if he gets a serious challenge in the primary, he’ll be in real trouble.”

Bennett said Monday’s vote was the first time in more than a decade, if ever, that the county party had censured a sitting Republican officeholder. Earlier this year, the state party censured Gov. Mark Sanford after his extramarital affair and absence from office while visiting his mistress in Argentina.

Graham not only won the GOP primary in Charleston County with 69 percent of the vote but also was one of the few Republicans to win in the county in the fall’s general election.


 


 

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Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

How low will he go? Obama gives Japan’s Emperor Akihito a wow bow

Los Angles Times – Andrew Malcolm

How low will the new American president go for the world’s royalty?

This photo will get Democrat President Obama a lot of approving nods in Japan this weekend, especially among the older generation of Japanese who still pay attention to the royal family living in its downtown castle. Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference for a superior.

To some in the United States, however, an upright handshake might have looked better. Remember Michelle Obama casually patting Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on the back during their Buckingham Palace visit? America’s royalty tends to make movies and get bad reviews and lots of money as a sign of respect.

Obama could receive some frowns back home as he did for his not-quite-this-low-or-maybe-about-the-same-bow to the Saudi king not so long ago.

Akihito, who turns 76 next month, is the eldest son and fifth child of Emperor Showa, the name given to an emperor and his reign after his death.

Emperor Showa is better known abroad by the life name of Hirohito. He became emperor in 1925 and died in 1989, the longest historically-known rule of the nation’s 125 emperors.

Hirohito presided over his nation’s growth from an undeveloped agrarian economy into the expansionist military power and ally of Nazi Germany of the 1930’s.

And, later, Japan became a global economic giant. Hirohito, along with Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who authorized the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, were much reviled abroad during World War II.

Historically, debate has simmered over how much of a political puppet Hirohito was to the country’s military before and during the war.

Even after Democrat President Harry Truman ordered the two atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945, there were strong forces within Japan that wanted to continue to fight the Americans in the spirit of kamikaze suicide pilots.

But Akihito’s father went on national radio, the first time his subjects had ever heard Hirohito’s voice, and without using the inflammatory word “surrender,” pronounced that the country must “accept the unacceptable.” It did.

As the conquering Allied general and then presiding officer of the U.S. occupation, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, decided to allow Japan to keep its emperor as a ceremonial unifying institution within a nascent democracy.

Tojo, on the other hand, was hanged.

MacArthur treated Emperor Hirohito respectfully but, as his body language in this black and white postwar photo demonstrates, was not particularly deferential…]


 

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Acorn and the Housing Bubble

The liberal pressure group helped Congress write the affordable housing rules that got us into trouble.

WSJ – By EDWARD PINTO

All agree that the bursting of the housing bubble caused the financial collapse of 2008. Most agree that the housing bubble started in 1997. Less well understood is that this bubble was the result of government policies that lowered mortgage-lending standards to increase home ownership. One of the key players was the controversial liberal advocacy group, Acorn (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

The watershed moment was the 1992 Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act, also known as the GSE Act. To comply with that law’s “affordable housing” requirements, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would acquire more than $6 trillion of single-family loans over the next 16 years.

Congress’s goal was to force these two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to purchase loans that had been originated by banks—loans that were made under the pressure of another federal law, the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), to increase lending in low- and moderate-income communities.

From 1977 to 1991, $9 billion in local CRA lending commitments had been announced. CRA lending by large banks increased dramatically after the affordable housing mandate was in place in 1993, growing to $6 trillion today. As Ellen Seidman, director of the federal Office of Thrift Supervision, said in a speech before the Greenlining Institute on Oct. 2, 2001, “Our record home ownership rate [increasing from 64.2% in 1994 to 68% in 2001], I’m convinced, would not have been reached without CRA and its close relative, the Fannie/Freddie requirements.”

The 1992 GSE Act was the fuse, and the trillions of dollars in subsequent CRA and GSE affordable-housing loans would fuel the greatest housing bubble our nation has ever seen. But who lit the fuse?

The previous year, as Allen Fishbein, currently an adviser for consumer policy at the Federal Reserve, has noted, Acorn and other community groups were informally deputized by then House Banking Chairman Henry Gonzalez to draft statutory language setting the law’s affordable-housing mandates. Interim goals were set at 30% of the single-family mortgages purchased by Fannie and Freddie, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has increased that percentage over time. The goal of the community groups was to force Fannie and Freddie to loosen their underwriting standards, in order to facilitate the purchase of loans made under the CRA.

Thus a provision was inserted into the law whereby Congress signaled to the GSEs that they should accept down payments of 5% or less, ignore impaired credit if the blot was over one year old, and otherwise loosen their lending guidelines.

The proposals of Acorn and other affordable-housing advocacy groups were acceptable to Fannie. Fannie had been planning to use the carrot of affordable-housing lending to maintain its hold over Congress and stave off its efforts to impose a strong safety and soundness regulator to oversee the company. (It was not until 2008 that a strong regulator was created for Fannie and Freddie. A little over a month later both GSEs were placed into conservatorship; they have requested a combined $112 billion in assistance from the federal government, and much more will be needed over the next few years.)

The result of loosened credit standards and a mandate to facilitate affordable-housing loans was a tsunami of high risk lending that sank the GSEs, overwhelmed the housing finance system, and caused an expected $1 trillion in mortgage loan losses by the GSEs, banks, and other investors and guarantors, and most tragically an expected 10 million or more home foreclosures

As a result of congressional and regulatory actions, the percentage of conventional first mortgages (not guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration or the Veteran’s Administration) used to purchase a home with the borrower putting 5% or less down tripled from 9% in 1991 to 27% in 1995, eventually reaching 29% in 2007.

Fannie and Freddie acquired $1.2 trillion of loans from banks and other lenders from 1993 to 2007. This amounted to 62% of all such conventional home purchase loans with a down payment of 5% or less that were originated nationwide over the same period.

Fannie and Freddie also acquired $2.2 trillion in subprime loans and private securities backed by subprime loans from 1997 to 2007. Acorn and the other advocacy groups succeeded at getting Congress to mandate “innovative and flexible” lending practices such as higher debt ratios and creative definitions of income. And the serious delinquency rate on Fannie and Freddie’s $1.5 trillion in high-risk loans was 10.3% as of Sept. 30, 2009.

This is about seven times the delinquency rate on the GSEs’ traditional loans. Fifty percent of the high-risk loans are estimated to be CRA loans, with much of the remainder useful to the GSEs in meeting their affordable-housing goals.

The flood of CRA and affordable-housing loans with loosened underwriting standards, combined with declining mortgage interest rates—to 5% in 2003 from 10% in early 1991—resulted in a massive increase in borrowing capacity and fueled a house price bubble of unprecedented magnitude over the period 1997-2006.

Now this history may repeat itself as many of the same community groups are pushing Congress to expand CRA to cover all mortgage lenders, credit unions, insurance companies and others financial industry segments. Are we about to set the stage for another catastrophe?

Mr. Pinto was the chief credit officer at Fannie Mae from 1987 to 1989. He is currently a consultant to the mortgage-finance industry.


 

TERRORIST ATTACKS


 


NYT: Trying Terrorists In NYC Will Repair ‘Damage Wrought By Bush’

NewsBusters – By Noel Sheppard

The New York Times told readers Saturday that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try five Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees in New York City was “a bold and principled step…toward repairing the damage wrought by former President George W. Bush.”

Not surprisingly, while the Times editorial board cheered Friday’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others with suspected ties to the 9/11 attacks near where the World Trade Center used to stand, they also took the opportunity to bash Bush:

From that entirely unnecessary policy (the United States had the tools to detain, charge and bring terrorists to justice) flowed a terrible legacy of torture and open-ended incarceration. It left President Obama with yet another mess to clean up on an urgent basis.

The editorial continued:

It was an enormous victory for the rule of law, a major milestone in Mr. Obama’s efforts to close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and an important departure from Mr. Bush’s disregard for American courts and their proven ability to competently handle high-profile terror cases. If he and Vice President Dick Cheney had shown more faith in the laws and the Constitution, the alleged mass murderers would have faced justice much earlier.

The piece concluded with one final swipe at the Bush White House:

Still, this much is clear: the Obama administration has yet to completely figure out how to rectify the disgraceful Bush detention policies, but it is getting there.

Oy vey!



OboBow


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