Tuesday, March 24, 2009

If I were POTUS

Yes, I think about it. What would I do, what would I say? And then, how long would I last in the job!

The Economy
Deregulate, eliminate entire departments and reduce government to those services that have some basis in the constitutional role of government. Reduce Federal aspects of government and help states and individuals to regain their original standing.

Strict Constitutionalists will be appointed, others will be eliminated by any proper means, such as stacking or reducing or redistricting courts.

I would prosecute any legislators responsible for treasonous acts, corruption, security leaks and interference with prosecution of a war.

I would remove the Castros by whatever means possible and I would tell Chavez and Ortega that they're next. I would make Cuba a territory and I would establish a tribunal of Cubans who would try and punish oppressors. I would document all citizens to make certain that we were not adopting idealogues. I would prohibit private sale of Cuban land for a period of time until a proper transition had been made from communism to capitalism and land ownership claims could be established.

United Nations
I would immediately remove our diplomats and our funding. I'd join a better club.

I'd create a new identification that resident aliens would be required to show and that card would only be available in their country of origin by application in person. By a date certain all rsident aliens would show the card or be returned to their country of origin.

I'd build the fence, add razor wire, and give citizen property owners rules of engagement, allowing them to defend their property with deadly force. I would jail anyone who attempted to spirit illegals into the country.

Roe v. Wade
I would pardon those who are incarcerated for exercising their First Amendment rights at abortion clinics. I would do anything possible using Executive Orders to reduce or eliminate abortion clinics. I would use my position to speak against abortion to the entire nation, recognizing that it is necessary to change minds in order to end abortion.

I would pay our military at least as well as our teachers are paid. I would provide them with very high quality housing, the best food and human services. In short, if you are in the military, you and your family will be treated like American royalty.

No more feeding frenzies. You want to ask the president a question, you will be granted an appointment. If your question is impertinent, you will be excused.

Our restraint will be unleashed against radical Islamists. Because radical Islam is not a religion, it will be given no quarter within the US. I will not consider Islam quaint, anymore than I would consider polio curious. I will develop a multitude of remedies and apply them until it no longer threatens us.

Global Warming
As fallacious as unicorns. As Al Gore recommends, there will be no further discussion. I will convene a task force with subpoena power to investigate the aspects of Global Warming advocacy that may have been deliberately fraudulent and there will be penalties.

World Policemen
We will make life miserable for any despot, any dictator, any thug anywhere who seeks to oppress and enslave people. it is the right thing to do. Concurrently, we will be charitable and serving to the people of the world. We will begin to act like we once thought of ourselves, that we were put here as a blessing to the entire world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lenders and Mark to Market

My business partner, Ron, just tried to refi his home with Wells Fargo after they enticed him with a very attractive interest rate. After some initial discussion he came into my office and said, "You know what they told me?"

Here's the story: Wells Fargo said that they'd give him the attractive rate and very low refi costs, but that his property had lost 30% of its value. It was built a year ago and the subdivision is brand new. Pittsburgh, by the way, had no real estate bubble and values are reported as perhaps the most steady in the nation even today.

Ron was livid. They told him there are no comparables in his neighborhood so they just wrote it down 30%. But it's a brand new neighborhood. There wouldn't be any comparables. Apparently Wells Fargo doesn't do live appraisals or even look to tax appraisals for guidance, either.

I saw something strange in this whole turn of events and I suggested to Ron that this could be a way for a lender to reduce the total liability on their balance sheet. Eliminating mark to market would allow them to adjust their balance sheets the way manufacturers can select LIFO or FIFO to more accurately reflect their costs given changes in demand and fluctuations in material costs. But, Congress won't let lenders do that because Congress' agenda isn't advanced by really fixing the housing crisis - only by looking like they're trying.

So, this is a clever, legal workaround. If lenders can entice borrowers to agree to give up their equity, turn back the clock and take real losses instead of forcing them to appear as paper losses on the lenders' books, then they can show an improvement. Problem is, that devalues all real estate and especially the real estate market. It also creates a time bomb for the borrower who agrees.

In five or so years, if you decide to sell your property, the devaluation provides you no equity margin, no downpayment in equity, and probably a debt greater than the value of the property. Your solution will likely be to roll that old debt into a new home mortgage that straps you to a higher interest rate. Inflation, higher interest rates, lower real estate values. Hmmmmm.

It's a perfect example of how bad regulations case more problems than they solve. They always do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Presidents Veto with Signing Statements

Presidents have a veto power called the Signing Statement. The statement is a document that explains why the president finds a certain portion of a bill unconstitutional and/or why it will not be enforced by that president's administration. Other parts of the bill may be enforced, so it's sort of a line item veto in that way.

With that in mind, I have wondered about the historic weakness of the executive branch (except in a few notable cases) and I am not displeased that the Bush Administration used the Signing Statement over 1,000 times. Recall, for example, the fundamentals of our government, the separation of powers, and checks and balances of each branch. The courts pass judgment on legislation, the legislatures pass laws enforced by the executive, and the executive - well, he can veto laws - but mostly he does what the legislature and the courts tell him to do.

That's a weak position not representative of an equal branch. In fact, a strong, or equal executive branch should have push-back equivalent to any other branch. A president should indeed be able to declare a bill unconstitutional - every other branch can.

The redundancy of power among the branches is apparent. Congressional hearings look like trials and have been known to render judgments that resulted in financial penalties and incarceration. And who hasn't heard about judges legislating from the bench, famously finding, for example, a right to privacy in the Constitution where none exists. The executive's attorney general can take opponents and wrongdoers to court - which is tantamount to controlling the court, if not the outcome.

When Lincoln assumed all powers not elsewhere delegated in the constitution and then suspended habeas corpus he provoked an historic battle between the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Lincoln, as Commander in Chief, refused to turn over a secessionist when the Supreme Court ruled that he must. He defied the court based on his interpretation of the constitution and the president's war powers.

Would that President G.W. Bush had the same strength. We would have delighted in his imprisoning any congressmen or federal judges during his tenure. He certainly had ample cause. Sadly, despite all the laws and all the power and all the authority resident there, there appears to be no penalty for either wanton misbehavior or abject ineptitude in Washington.

Truth trumps

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When billionaire investor Warren Buffett says President Barack Obama's economic message is muddled and undermining public confidence, it's worth listening.

Halfway through his first 100 days in office, ace communicator Obama has struggled to find the right tone in talking about the economy, twinning bleak warnings with optimism about the future.

What the MSM can and what it chooses to ignore used to be based on how big of a deal the story was. Did it bleed? But, as of the last ten years, the decision to ignore news has usually been based on the degree the story impacts the Liberal agenda. If it damages Liberalism, it get's shelved or killed. It took Drudge to coax the biggest story of the Clinton 2-term presidency off the shelf at Time-Life. Drudge, a news aggregator!

What this story says, on Reuters newswire - even as "Analysis," as it's called, is that Obama's goose is cooked. He's only the Ace Communicator until someone calls him that with derision - and that's been done.

So what's happened. Simply this. The Ace wasn't an ace at all. He was and is a product of the media. He is a fictitious entity, unreal, contrived and as plastic as silly putty. So, as the media fails, its smoke blows away and its mirrors fog over and suddenly we see it for what it is. What Obama is.

A mile wide, and an inch deep.

Reuters story by Steve Holland 3/10/09

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rush Wins

Rush is smart. Smarter than Obama, in fact.

Good lawyers don't ask a witness a question unless they know what answer they'll get. And Rush doesn't make a proclamation claiming he wants Obama to fail, unless he knows Obama has already failed.

You can see it for yourself if you can manage to remove yourself from the midst of the angst you are hearing, seeing, feeling and sensing right now. Is it not true that the level of discontent, the sharpness of the rhetoric, the degree of disgust and the potential for massive push-back has never been stronger in your lifetime?

It's true. This almost 6-week old presidency is on track to be the biggest debacle in American History. Even Carter must realize Obama will make him look like a good president.

As it begins to fall apart, watch for growing discontent among Democrats. There are some who cannot stand what Obama is doing to the country and will turn from their partisan loyalty back into the Blue Dogs they really are. That transformation should begin to be apparent within the week.

It will be a very good sign because if his coalition falls apart within a short time. He will never get it back in time for the next Congressional election. After that, he's history.