Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess

For those liberals (as well as some non-liberals) who would enjoy figuratively dancing on the grave of the Wall Street banking firm Goldman Sachs, a reminder: 

Some Wall Street banking firms included virtually worthless mortgages in a so-called securities package which they sold to customers.  But the origin of those virtually worthless mortgages can be laid squarely at the foot of liberal politicians in the Democratic Party, going as far back as President Jimmy Carter. 

The Democratic Party line has been to encourage if not virtually order banks to liberalize the terms under which they lend money to low-income families to buy houses.  President Clinton played this game and two federally-created institutions, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, provided a federally-subsidized market for risky or virtually worthless mortgages.

When questioned about the risk of promoting the philosophy that every American family is entitled to the realization of “the American dream” of owning a home, leading Democrat Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank famously defended the liberal “everybody should own a home” policy.  Senator Dodd called it “one of the great success stories of all time.”

Success?  It was a disastrous failure.

Let Goldman Sachs be penalized by the Securities and Exchange Commission if court proceedings so decree.  But don’t forget who initiated the whole mess of risky if not valueless mortgages, a Democratic-supported policy which ultimately led to this nation’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

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Defense Secretary Gates Talks Sense
On Nuclear Weapons Control Issue

Welcome news in the “control nuclear arms” deliberations: 

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a Republican whom President Obama wisely held over from the Bush administration, has weighed in with a memorandum to top White House officials.  Gates warns that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s steady progress towards nuclear weaponary. 

White House reaction was that among the various options being considered by the Obama administration is the possibility of armed intervention of some kind to neutralize the Iranian threat.

Perhaps the Obama administration, which has temporized with the Iranian nuclear threat issue for more than a year, was truly seriously considering whether to use force if necessary to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

But Defense Secretary Gates has, according to a New York Times report, “set off a much-intensified effort inside the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence agencies to develop new options for Mr. Obama.  They include a revised set of military alternatives…”

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Do Anti-Abortionists Hurt Their Cause By Extremism? On Abortion, Death Penalty 
Sen. Flood Is Hard-Liner

Herewith, as promised last week, further comment on the activities of the anti-abortion activists in Nebraska.  Also some further comment on the “Mike Flood for Governor” boomlet.

First, an example of the extremes to which some anti-abortion activists are willing to go: 

A spokesman for a group called “Nebraska Right to Life” announced that Senator Ben Nelson would never be considered for another endorsement.  Nelson consistently won the organization’s endorsement in the past, but his recent vote in favor of the ObamaCare legislation, which included language allowing personal funding of abortions under limited circumstances, angered the Nebraska anti-abortion zealots. 

Nelson has voted 19 out of 21 times in line with Nebraska Right to Life’s positions.  And he said last week that he approves of both of the new anti-abortion statutes passed by the 2010 Legislature.

Nebraska Right to Life endorsed Governor Dave Heineman for re-election even though Heineman had opposed state funding of pre-natal care for pregnant illegal immigrants—care which anti-abortion groups argued would help prevent mothers from choosing abortion. 

Does Heineman Read Nebraskans’ Minds?

But Heineman stayed in the good graces of anti-abortion activists by endorsing the two legislative bills which would give Nebraska the most restrictive abortion-control statutes in the United States.  Heineman said that the two bills “represent the values and beliefs of most Nebraskans.” 

The governor didn’t say how he knows the “values and beliefs of most Nebraskans” in regard to two specific pieces of legislation which are likely to be tied up in the courts for years.  In respect to the predicted legal challenges, Heineman said that Nebraska is prepared to defend both measures against expected legal challenges. 

Nebraska is prepared to defend both measures?  All Nebraskans?  Most Nebraskans?  Or Gov. Dave Heineman? 

I wonder if anti-abortion zealots realize—or care about—the damage they do to their stature in the eyes of that large percentage of Americans who believe public issues should be debated and decided on the basis of reason, not emotion.

As to Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood’s reputation and political prospects:

From people whose opinions I respect, I have heard a number of favorable comments about Flood’s skill as a conciliator, bringing groups together in agreement, ending or avoiding needless controversy. 

But when it comes to the issues of abortion and the death penalty, it seems to me that Flood shows a hard-line side which doesn’t fit the rest of his apparently well-earned image. 

He introduced one of the two abortion-restriction bills and voted for the other.  And he said that, in regard to another recurring legislative issue—the death penalty—seeing five slain victims of a botched bank robbery in Norfolk in 2002 is a reason for his ardent support of the death penalty. 

A Lawyer Especially Should Beware ‘Hard Case’ Influence

As a lawyer, Senator Flood surely is familiar with the wise adage that “hard cases make bad law.”  The Norfolk slayings surely constituted a hard case, but the slayings in themselves indicate that the existence of the death penalty on the Nebraska statute books was not a deterrent to the killings. 

And Nebraska rarely carries out a death sentence.  What is sometimes called “Death Row” in Nebraska might better be called “Longevity Row,” because of the years and years that supposedly condemned killers live on as their cases are endlessly reviewed by the courts. 

Incidentally, I speak on the death penalty issue as a convert.  I once favored it.  But as I reflected on the unequal way in which the death penalty is applied within a state and certainly within the United States, I decided that the arguments against the death penalty outweigh any positive arguments.  Consider that in several states, there is no death penalty.  There is ipso facto unequal treatment for sure.

“Equality Before The Law” is the Nebraska state motto.  Under the circumstances which are unavoidable in different murder cases—different jurors, different prosecutors, different defense attorneys, different judges—two murder trials are certainly not assured of producing equality before the law. 

Thus it seems to me that an attorney with Senator Flood’s reputation for clear thinking would be more likely to oppose or at least question the death penalty than to let a single incident become an important if not a decisive factor in his stance on such a controversial issue.

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Another Case of ‘Casino Cancer’

First it was a nun who stole church funds allegedly totaling more than $300,000 and gambled away $67,650 at Council Bluffs casinos. 

Now comes a story of a state-appointed guardian-conservator who allegedly stole more than $240,000 from one elderly South Omaha couple, withdrawing chunks of their money from a Council Bluffs casino ATM—at times more than $1,000 a day.

Typical cases?  Of course not.  But examples that spotlight the fact that the gambling casinos could not exist if they did not lure people who foolishly believe they can beat the odds, losing stolen money in some extreme cases but also money that in many cases their families can ill afford for them to lose.

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Flood Of Fund Requests Can’t Be Eased
But Please At Least Get Our Names Right

Finally, some thoughts on contribution-soliciting letters which frequently are more irritating than persuasive:

At the top of the irritation list are letters from the Republican National Committee.  They frequently start out by telling you how important you are to the GOP and how valuable your opinions are.  Then they ask a series of loaded questions and three or four pages later ask for money. 

Apparently they haven’t caught up with the fact that for a few years now I have been registered as an Independent, having left the GOP because I felt party policy was too much influenced by extremists on the religious right.

Irritating also are letters which thank you for a contribution and ask you for another one.  And letters which misspell our last name, ending it with –son instead of -sen.  No big deal, but if they’re going to ask you for money, they ought to at least get your name right.

Then there are the letters signed with the first name of an acquaintance of ours and purporting to show the friendly relationship by starting with “Dear Harold and Marian.”  Now if the signer of the letter knows us well enough to sign with his first name and also address us with our first names, he knows that my friends call me Andy.  Again, no big deal, but if you’re going to send letters seeking money from friends, at least use the names by which you address them personally.

Then there are solicitations—nine of them in one recent day—for contributions to organizations with which you have had no previous relationship and in many cases have never heard of.  Sometimes these letters don’t even explain what good work the organization is seeking your support for.

Then there was the letter from the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) which included an invitation to come and hear about new programs “that we will be implementing for all women in Omaha this fall.” 

I think we will forego the opportunity to hear what the YWCA has in mind for Marian.  She is pretty busy already.

There are also, of course, letters which we are pleased to receive because they remind us of the need for contributions to one or another of the various worthy causes which we are pleased to support.

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