Archive for the ‘Chuck Hagel’ Category

Chuck Hagel: The “Perfect Fit” for Secretary of Defense

December 31, 2012

One of the first ways I got involved with politics was being part of the Internet movement that supported former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for President back in 2008.  Back then I ran the Michigan for Hagel 2008 blog and co-ran the Students for Hagel blog.  Once Hagel announced he wasn’t running, the group disbanded, but a few of the leaders of the movement have stayed in touch.  When rumors came out that President Obama was considering Hagel for Defense Secretary, we decided to come together and ensure that the smear campaign against Hagel wasn’t successful.

He has combat experience—having served in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader, he achieved the rank of Sergeant and was awarded multiple medals including two Purple Hearts.  After leaving the military, Hagel was dedicated to helping American troops and veterans.  He was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, where he fought for funding for VA programs, and he served as president and CEO of the USO.

Hagel also had a successful career in the private sector, co-founding a cell phone manufacturing company and serving as CEO of American Information Systems.

In short, Hagel has the military and administrative experience needed to be America’s next Secretary of Defense.

And despite the arguments made by some, Hagel’s positions do generally fit with the Republican Party.

Yes, it is true that Hagel was critical of many of President George W. Bush’s policies, including the Iraq War, but much of his disagreement with the Bush Administration dealt with the lack of transparency.  Throughout his Senate career, Hagel fought for transparency in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged open Congressional debate, rather than quick votes on such important issues.  Isn’t that at the heart of the Republican Party—encouraging open public debate instead of shady, quick votes to ram legislation through? Hagel captured this principle in saying, “To question your government is not unpatriotic—to not question your government is unpatriotic.” Considering that right now, the GOP is fighting for transparency on the issues of the conflict in Libya and Benghazi, doesn’t it make sense to support someone who fought for DoD transparency, from both a Republican President and a Democratic Senate?  The fact that Hagel’s fight for transparency transcended political boundaries is exactly the reason he’s perfect for the Department of Defense.  The Defense Secretary shouldn’t be loyal to a party; he should be loyal to American and her national security.  And Hagel has agreed with this, saying, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

And labeling Hagel a liberal based on his Iraq policy is absurd.  Hagel’s plan for Iraq was different than both the mainstream Republican and Democratic plans at the time. Rather than withdraw as soon as possible or stay indefinitely, Hagel advocated for moving our troops out of the areas of civil war and to the borders. This would ensure that terrorists did not flee or enter the country, while leaving the Iraqis to resolve the inner conflicts, a job that they, not the U.S., were best suited for.

On the issue of Israel, he has defended “our continued commitment to Israel’s defense” and acknowledged the “special and historic bond” between the U.S. and Israel. At the same time, he realizes that peace with its neighbors is the best thing for Israel.

While acknowledging that the defense budget needs to be cut, Hagel has never come out in support of across-the-board sequestration cuts.  In fact, it was because of reckless Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives that we are facing such drastic across-the-board cuts.  The defense sequestration cuts would come about as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was supported by 174 House Republicans and 28 Senate Republicans.  Passing such a bill to allow across-the-board cuts was reckless, and Hagel has never come out in support of sequestration; however, like many Republicans, he agrees that the Defense budget is bloated and should be cut where possible.

And Hagel supports continued sanctions against Iran and has never ruled out military action against Iran to prevent them from achieving nuclear capabilities.  But as a result of his experience in Vietnam, he realizes that we shouldn’t be putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way unless combat is absolutely necessary.  And that’s a good principle that the GOP should agree with.

Does Hagel agree with every single word in the Republican platform? No; but then again, who does? In fact, he had an 84% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Republicans could not ask for a better nominee for Secretary of Defense from a Democratic President, and instead of hounding Hagel for disagreements in the past, Republicans should rally around him as a defender of many conservative principles and causes.

Republicans can’t just oppose Hagel because they want to oppose the President.  It’s time to stop being the party of “No”.  Hagel is one of our own, and while he may lean more moderate, he’d make an excellent Secretary of Defense.  It would be a shame if his nomination or confirmation was destroyed because the GOP wants to oppose Obama.  There is no good reason the GOP should oppose someone like Hagel.

For those who would like to show their support for Chuck Hagel, I would encourage you to like the Facebook page that was started, and if you’re on Twitter, I would encourage you to use the hashtag #SupportHagel in your tweets on the subject.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

McCain Asks Obama, Debate Commission to Postpone Debate Due to Economic Crisis

September 24, 2008

Today, John McCain issued the following statement regarding the economic crisis:

Remarks on the Economic Crisis

September 24, 2008

America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.

Well, it was mainly legislation that got us into this mess, so let’s be careful not to make a temporary fix that will make things even worse 50 years down the road.

Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns. This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward. I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.

It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration’s proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I will say that this is a good move for both candidates to do.  This crisis is not something that we can end with a Congress that’s more worried about getting reelected than legislating.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

Again, I’m glad he’s doing this, but on the other hand, this is gonna look kinda bad in the media, and personally, I’m not sure I want to see McCain’s plans for this economic crisis.  I’ve never exactly agreed with his stances on stuff like GSEs and the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 (I’m much more in line with Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) and Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)).

I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

Alright, so there’s his statement.

Again, I’m glad to see that he’s putting campaigning aside to resolve this, but I’m worried about what the Congress will do here.  The last thing we need is another Economic Stimulus Package-esque bill that’s going to look good to voters, but wind up screwing us up even more.  A $700 billion bailout WILL NOT HELP!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Ron Paul on Bailouts: “We Are Headed for a Rough Ride”

September 24, 2008

The following is Representative Ron Paul’s (R-TX) statements regarding government bailouts of financial institutions, with my analysis sprinkled throughout his comments:

Many Americans today are asking themselves how the economy got to be in such a bad spot.

For years they thought the economy was booming, growth was up, job numbers and productivity were increasing. Yet now we find ourselves in what is shaping up to be one of the most severe economic downturns since the Great Depression.

Unfortunately, the government’s preferred solution to the crisis is the very thing that got us into this mess in the first place: government intervention.

And here’s the sad part – it’s been people like Paul, and his followers and others who believe like him that have predicted things like this would happen.  I’ve always been against government intervention into stuff like this, although, due to my age, haven’t had the opportunity to voice this as much as Dr. Paul.

Ever since the 1930s, the federal government has involved itself deeply in housing policy and developed numerous programs to encourage homebuilding and homeownership.

Blame a lot of it on FDR – he’s the one who started all this crap TRYING to get us out of the Great Depression.  Emphasis on “trying.”  None of FDR’s plans really worked–what got us out was going to war.

Government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were able to obtain a monopoly position in the mortgage market, especially the mortgage-backed securities market, because of the advantages bestowed upon them by the federal government.

Well, they were, after all, created by the federal government – the first mistake that was made here.

Laws passed by Congress such as the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to make loans to previously underserved segments of their communities, thus forcing banks to lend to people who normally would be rejected as bad credit risks.

And even the Economic Stimulus Package did this.  It INCREASED loan limits for people using adjustable rate mortgages, and increased the amount of people getting loans–people who NEVER should’ve been able to get loans with their credit.

These governmental measures, combined with the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy, led to an unsustainable housing boom. The key measure by which the Fed caused this boom was through the manipulation of interest rates, and the open market operations that accompany this lowering.

When interest rates are lowered to below what the market rate would normally be, as the Federal Reserve has done numerous times throughout this decade, it becomes much cheaper to borrow money. Longer-term and more capital-intensive projects, projects that would be unprofitable at a high interest rate, suddenly become profitable.

Because the boom comes about from an increase in the supply of money and not from demand from consumers, the result is malinvestment, a misallocation of resources into sectors in which there is insufficient demand.

In this case, this manifested itself in overbuilding in real estate. When builders realize they have overbuilt and have too many houses to sell, too many apartments to rent, or too much commercial real estate to lease, they seek to recoup as much of their money as possible, even if it means lowering prices drastically.

And this is evident in my home state of Michigan.  Where I live, there are some housing areas just recently built that are largely still up for sale.  Either that, or people will buy the new houses before selling their own houses, and then the original houses are left up for sale.  But not all of this is the government’s fault.  My mother was telling me other day that the sister of her friend was going to have the bank repossess her house, so she left in the middle of the night, went down to South Carolina, and bought a house the next day, before the credit caught up with her.  Not only is that dishonest and despicable, it’s detrimental to the economy!  Or you have people vandalizing their own houses right before banks repossess them.  IT’S NOT THE BANK’S fault that you can’t make your payments (it’s the bank’s fault if they gave an undeserving person a loan, but still, these actions are NOT helping!).

This lowering of prices brings the economy back into balance, equalizing supply and demand. This economic adjustment means, however that there are some winners — in this case, those who can again find affordable housing without the need for creative mortgage products, and some losers — builders and other sectors connected to real estate that suffer setbacks.

The government doesn’t like this, however, and undertakes measures to keep prices artificially inflated. This was why the Great Depression was as long and drawn out in this country as it was.

I am afraid that policymakers today have not learned the lesson that prices must adjust to economic reality. The bailout of Fannie and Freddie, the purchase of AIG, and the latest multi-hundred billion dollar Treasury scheme all have one thing in common: They seek to prevent the liquidation of bad debt and worthless assets at market prices, and instead try to prop up those markets and keep those assets trading at prices far in excess of what any buyer would be willing to pay.

Additionally, the government’s actions encourage moral hazard of the worst sort. Now that the precedent has been set, the likelihood of financial institutions to engage in riskier investment schemes is increased, because they now know that an investment position so overextended as to threaten the stability of the financial system will result in a government bailout and purchase of worthless, illiquid assets.

And that was the attitude that Freddie and Fannie executives had.  “The government will HAVE to bail us out” mentality HAS GOT TO STOP!

Using trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to purchase illusory short-term security, the government is actually ensuring even greater instability in the financial system in the long term.

The solution to the problem is to end government meddling in the market. Government intervention leads to distortions in the market, and government reacts to each distortion by enacting new laws and regulations, which create their own distortions, and so on ad infinitum.

Easier said than done.  Once you start bailouts, it’s hard to stop.  It’s similar to returning to the gold standard.  Our money is so inflated now that it would take national cooperation to return to the gold standard.  Prices for anything purchased as well as wages would have to significantly decrease, and Americans are too greedy to do this.  People wouldn’t want their wages cut, even though they’d still be able to afford everything that they can now, because “it would look bad on paper.”  Getting out of the Great Depression would’ve been simple, if everybody agreed to a plan, but if one greedy person doesn’t agree to the set plan, that throws off the whole rest of the plan.  Complete cooperation is necessary, but in today’s world, it will never happen (unles the government forces you, but then you’re dealing with extreme government involvement, which STILL doesn’t work as evidenced in the massive failures of communism).

It is time this process is put to an end. But the government cannot just sit back idly and let the bust occur. It must actively roll back stifling laws and regulations that allowed the boom to form in the first place.

But where will they get their money from if they lose their corporate backers!  How’s a politician supposed to live if he doesn’t have businesses feeding him money!

The government must divorce itself of the albatross of Fannie and Freddie, balance and drastically decrease the size of the federal budget, and reduce onerous regulations on banks and credit unions that lead to structural rigidity in the financial sector.

And unfortunately neither of our major Presidential candidates will do this.  I’d like to see what Senator Hagel (R-NE) would’ve done about the Fannie and Freddie situation, since he voted AGAINST the Economic Stimulus Package.

Until the big-government apologists realize the error of their ways, and until vocal free-market advocates act in a manner which buttresses their rhetoric, I am afraid we are headed for a rough ride.

A very rough ride indeed, Dr. Paul.

And again, Paul shows just how smart he is when it comes to economic issues.  I disagree with him on a couple other issues (kinda a half disagreement on Iraq), but I honestly wouldn’t have been disappointed if he were the Republican nominee.

I just hope that people (especially McCain) start listening to him and realize that we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Ron Paul to Endorse a Presidential Candidate Tomorrow

September 9, 2008

Well, earlier today, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty put out the following press release:

Ron Paul to Hold Major
Press Conference Wednesday

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           CONTACT: Jesse Benton
September 8, 2008

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – Congressman Ron Paul will hold a press conference in the Ball Room at the National Press Club on Wednesday, September 10th at 10:00 am. Dr. Paul will announce his intentions for the fall presidential election and will be accompanied by several special guests.

This event comes on the heels of Dr. Paul’s historic three-day Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis, Minnesota that drew over 12,000 supporters.

-30-

It has been rumored that any or several of the following Presidential candidates may be there: Bob Barr (Lib), Ralph Nader (I), Chuck Baldwin (Con), and Cynthia McKinney (Green) will be there.

Ron Paul’s spokesman apparently told reporters that Paul will give something of an endorsement [with] a real effect on this fall’s election.”

Unfortunately, I’m in class until 10:50, but I may bring my laptop with me to class (it’s a poli-sci class, so my professor wouldn’t mind).

As the press release said, thid DOES come after the Rally for the Republic, Paul’s non-RNC, in Minneapolis, MN.

I have talked with a few Paul supporters who are saying that tomorrow’s announcement may be a third party candidacy announcement, and some Paul supporters remain optimistic, but I don’t expect anything more than an endorsement of Bob Barr and  maybe Baldwin.  McKinney and Nader’s names were thrown in there for possible endorsements, but I HIGHLY doubt Paul would ever endorse either of them.

I’ll keep you updated.  If I don’t have anything up by 10:15 A.M. EDT tomorrow, expect something by 11:15.

Done Predicting,

Ranting Republican
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Federal Government Takes Over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

September 7, 2008

Well, as of this afternoon, it’s official: the 2 mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will be placed in conservatorship under the supervision of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  Under this plan, the federal government will temporarily run Fannie and Freddie until the 2 companies become more stable.

Along with this temporary takeover, the CEOs of Freddie and Fannie, Richard Syron and Daniel Mudd will be ousted, but kept on during the transition  process.  Herb Allison, the former president TIAA-CREF and former vice-chairman of Merrill Lynch, will take over Fannie Mae, while David Moffett, the former vice-chairman and chief financial officer of U.S. Bancorp and senior adviser at the Carlyle Group, will take over Freddie Mac.

The move was announced at a press conference today where Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and FHFA director James Lockhart announced the plan:

  • Change in CEOs, as stated above.
  • Dividends on common and preferred shares will be eliminated in order to save the companies about $2 billion dollars per year.
  • All of the firms’ lobbying and political activities will immediately cease.
  • All charitable activities will be immediately reviewed.
  • The 2 companies will be allowed to “modestly increase” their existing investment portfolios until 2009.
  • Begin to shrink their investment portfolios by 10% a year, starting in 2010.
  • The Treasury Department will provide as much money as the companies need in order to keep their capital reserves from falling below the levels that would force them into receivership.
  • The Treasury Department will also buy Fannie and Freddie mortgage securities on the open market.
  • The Treasury Department will also create a “Secured Lending Credit Facility,” which will be a source for Freddie and Fannie to borrow money if they can’t borrow enough money on the open market.

Some quotes from Secretary Paulson (I’ll have full press releases for you to read at the very bottom):

  • “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so large and so interwoven in our financial system that a failure of either of them would cause great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe.  This turmoil would directly and negatively impact household wealth: from family budgets, to home values, to savings for college and retirement.  A failure would affect the ability of Americans to get home loans, auto loans and other consumer credit and business finance.  And a failure would be harmful to economic growth and job creation.”
  • “We examined all options available, and determined that this comprehensive and complementary set of actions best meets our three objectives of market stability, mortgage availability and taxpayer protection.”
  • “Government support needs to be either explicit or non-existent, and structured to resolve the conflict between public and private purposes,” Mr. Paulson said. “We will make a grave error if we don’t use this time out to permanently address the structural issues presented by the GSE’s [Government sponsored enterprises.  Fannie and Freddie were created by Congress, but were made private back in1968 and 1970 {Freddie was directly made a private corporation from the beginning}, respectively].”

Personally, I think that Freddie and Fannie have done business assuming that the government would “have to bail them out,” and thus didn’t take necessary precautions to avoid this.  The assumption that the government would have to step in came from the fact that together, Fannie and Freddie guarantee around  70% of all new home mortgages.

I don’t think that the government should have stepped in here.  The more the government gets involved, the deeper they’ll continue to get involved, and the more it’s going to cost taxpayers.  We’ve seen government involvement with Bear Sterns cost taxpayers millions of dollars.  We had the Economic Stimulus package use taxpayer money to basically bail out citizens who made poor decisions.  It was people like Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) and Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) that stood up to that that are standing up to the takeover of Freddie and Fannie (I know that Paul is – I haven’t gotten a quote from Hagel yet, but based on past voting records, I’m going to guess that he’s against it).  This is going to cost the taxpayers BILLIONS of dollars.

And here are those press releases I promised you available on the Treasury Department’s website and the FHFA press release is available here):

September 7, 2008
hp-1129

Statement by Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. on Treasury and Federal Housing Finance Agency Action to Protect Financial Markets and Taxpayers

Washington, DC–

Good morning. I’m joined here by Jim Lockhart, Director of the new independent regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, FHFA.

In July, Congress granted the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and FHFA new authorities with respect to the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since that time, we have closely monitored financial market and business conditions and have analyzed in great detail the current financial condition of the GSEs – including the ability of the GSEs to weather a variety of market conditions going forward. As a result of this work, we have determined that it is necessary to take action.

Since this difficult period for the GSEs began, I have clearly stated three critical objectives: providing stability to financial markets, supporting the availability of mortgage finance, and protecting taxpayers – both by minimizing the near term costs to the taxpayer and by setting policymakers on a course to resolve the systemic risk created by the inherent conflict in the GSE structure.

Based on what we have learned about these institutions over the last four weeks – including what we learned about their capital requirements – and given the condition of financial markets today, I concluded that it would not have been in the best interest of the taxpayers for Treasury to simply make an equity investment in these enterprises in their current form.

The four steps we are announcing today are the result of detailed and thorough collaboration between FHFA, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve.

We examined all options available, and determined that this comprehensive and complementary set of actions best meets our three objectives of market stability, mortgage availability and taxpayer protection.

Throughout this process we have been in close communication with the GSEs themselves. I have also consulted with Members of Congress from both parties and I appreciate their support as FHFA, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have moved to address this difficult issue.

 

Before I turn to Jim to discuss the action he is taking today, let me make clear that these two institutions are unique. They operate solely in the mortgage market and are therefore more exposed than other financial institutions to the housing correction. Their statutory capital requirements are thin and poorly defined as compared to other institutions. Nothing about our actions today in any way reflects a changed view of the housing correction or of the strength of other U.S. financial institutions.

***

I support the Director’s decision as necessary and appropriate and had advised him that conservatorship was the only form in which I would commit taxpayer money to the GSEs.

I appreciate the productive cooperation we have received from the boards and the management of both GSEs. I attribute the need for today’s action primarily to the inherent conflict and flawed business model embedded in the GSE structure, and to the ongoing housing correction. GSE managements and their Boards are responsible for neither. New CEOs supported by new non-executive Chairmen have taken over management of the enterprises, and we hope and expect that the vast majority of key professionals will remain in their jobs. I am particularly pleased that the departing CEOs, Dan Mudd and Dick Syron, have agreed to stay on for a period to help with the transition.

I have long said that the housing correction poses the biggest risk to our economy. It is a drag on our economic growth, and at the heart of the turmoil and stress for our financial markets and financial institutions. Our economy and our markets will not recover until the bulk of this housing correction is behind us. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are critical to turning the corner on housing. Therefore, the primary mission of these enterprises now will be to proactively work to increase the availability of mortgage finance, including by examining the guaranty fee structure with an eye toward mortgage affordability.

To promote stability in the secondary mortgage market and lower the cost of funding, the GSEs will modestly increase their MBS portfolios through the end of 2009. Then, to address systemic risk, in 2010 their portfolios will begin to be gradually reduced at the rate of 10 percent per year, largely through natural run off, eventually stabilizing at a lower, less risky size.

Treasury has taken three additional steps to complement FHFA’s decision to place both enterprises in conservatorship. First, Treasury and FHFA have established Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements, contractual agreements between the Treasury and the conserved entities. Under these agreements, Treasury will ensure that each company maintains a positive net worth. These agreements support market stability by providing additional security and clarity to GSE debt holders – senior and subordinated – and support mortgage availability by providing additional confidence to investors in GSE mortgage backed securities. This commitment will eliminate any mandatory triggering of receivership and will ensure that the conserved entities have the ability to fulfill their financial obligations. It is more efficient than a one-time equity injection, because it will be used only as needed and on terms that Treasury has set. With this agreement, Treasury receives senior preferred equity shares and warrants that protect taxpayers. Additionally, under the terms of the agreement, common and preferred shareholders bear losses ahead of the new government senior preferred shares.

These Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements were made necessary by the ambiguities in the GSE Congressional charters, which have been perceived to indicate government support for agency debt and guaranteed MBS. Our nation has tolerated these ambiguities for too long, and as a result GSE debt and MBS are held by central banks and investors throughout the United States and around the world who believe them to be virtually risk-free. Because the U.S. Government created these ambiguities, we have a responsibility to both avert and ultimately address the systemic risk now posed by the scale and breadth of the holdings of GSE debt and MBS.

Market discipline is best served when shareholders bear both the risk and the reward of their investment. While conservatorship does not eliminate the common stock, it does place common shareholders last in terms of claims on the assets of the enterprise.

Similarly, conservatorship does not eliminate the outstanding preferred stock, but does place preferred shareholders second, after the common shareholders, in absorbing losses. The federal banking agencies are assessing the exposures of banks and thrifts to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The agencies believe that, while many institutions hold common or preferred shares of these two GSEs, only a limited number of smaller institutions have holdings that are significant compared to their capital.

The agencies encourage depository institutions to contact their primary federal regulator if they believe that losses on their holdings of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac common or preferred shares, whether realized or unrealized, are likely to reduce their regulatory capital below “well capitalized.” The banking agencies are prepared to work with the affected institutions to develop capital restoration plans consistent with the capital regulations.

Preferred stock investors should recognize that the GSEs are unlike any other financial institutions and consequently GSE preferred stocks are not a good proxy for financial institution preferred stock more broadly. By stabilizing the GSEs so they can better perform their mission, today’s action should accelerate stabilization in the housing market, ultimately benefiting financial institutions. The broader market for preferred stock issuance should continue to remain available for well-capitalized institutions.

The second step Treasury is taking today is the establishment of a new secured lending credit facility which will be available to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. Given the combination of actions we are taking, including the Preferred Share Purchase Agreements, we expect the GSEs to be in a stronger position to fund their regular business activities in the capital markets. This facility is intended to serve as an ultimate liquidity backstop, in essence, implementing the temporary liquidity backstop authority granted by Congress in July, and will be available until those authorities expire in December 2009.

Finally, to further support the availability of mortgage financing for millions of Americans, Treasury is initiating a temporary program to purchase GSE MBS. During this ongoing housing correction, the GSE portfolios have been constrained, both by their own capital situation and by regulatory efforts to address systemic risk. As the GSEs have grappled with their difficulties, we’ve seen mortgage rate spreads to Treasuries widen, making mortgages less affordable for homebuyers. While the GSEs are expected to moderately increase the size of their portfolios over the next 15 months through prudent mortgage purchases, complementary government efforts can aid mortgage affordability. Treasury will begin this new program later this month, investing in new GSE MBS. Additional purchases will be made as deemed appropriate. Given that Treasury can hold these securities to maturity, the spreads between Treasury issuances and GSE MBS indicate that there is no reason to expect taxpayer losses from this program, and, in fact, it could produce gains. This program will also expire with the Treasury’s temporary authorities in December 2009.

Together, this four part program is the best means of protecting our markets and the taxpayers from the systemic risk posed by the current financial condition of the GSEs. Because the GSEs are in conservatorship, they will no longer be managed with a strategy to maximize common shareholder returns, a strategy which historically encouraged risk-taking. The Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements minimize current cash outlays, and give taxpayers a large stake in the future value of these entities. In the end, the ultimate cost to the taxpayer will depend on the business results of the GSEs going forward. To that end, the steps we have taken to support the GSE debt and to support the mortgage market will together improve the housing market, the US economy and the GSEs’ business outlook.

Through the four actions we have taken today, FHFA and Treasury have acted on the responsibilities we have to protect the stability of the financial markets, including the mortgage market, and to protect the taxpayer to the maximum extent possible.

And let me make clear what today’s actions mean for Americans and their families. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so large and so interwoven in our financial system that a failure of either of them would cause great turmoil in our financial markets here at home and around the globe. This turmoil would directly and negatively impact household wealth: from family budgets, to home values, to savings for college and retirement. A failure would affect the ability of Americans to get home loans, auto loans and other consumer credit and business finance. And a failure would be harmful to economic growth and job creation. That is why we have taken these actions today.

While we expect these four steps to provide greater stability and certainty to market participants and provide long-term clarity to investors in GSE debt and MBS securities, our collective work is not complete. At the end of next year, the Treasury temporary authorities will expire, the GSE portfolios will begin to gradually run off, and the GSEs will begin to pay the government a fee to compensate taxpayers for the on-going support provided by the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements. Together, these factors should give momentum and urgency to the reform cause. Policymakers must view this next period as a “time out” where we have stabilized the GSEs while we decide their future role and structure.

Because the GSEs are Congressionally-chartered, only Congress can address the inherent conflict of attempting to serve both shareholders and a public mission. The new Congress and the next Administration must decide what role government in general, and these entities in particular, should play in the housing market. There is a consensus today that these enterprises pose a systemic risk and they cannot continue in their current form. Government support needs to be either explicit or non-existent, and structured to resolve the conflict between public and private purposes. And policymakers must address the issue of systemic risk. I recognize that there are strong differences of opinion over the role of government in supporting housing, but under any course policymakers choose, there are ways to structure these entities in order to address market stability in the transition and limit systemic risk and conflict of purposes for the long-term. We will make a grave error if we don’t use this time out to permanently address the structural issues presented by the GSEs.

In the weeks to come, I will describe my views on long term reform. I look forward to engaging in that timely and necessary debate.

-30-

And here’s the FHFA statement:

FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY

STATEMENT

Contact:      Corinne Russell     (202) 414-6921
Stefanie Mullin     (202) 414-6376

For Immediate Release
September 7, 2008

****EMBARGOED UNTIL 11 a.m. ****

STATEMENT OF FHFA DIRECTOR JAMES B. LOCKHART

Good Morning

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac share the critical mission of providing stability and liquidity to the housing market. Between them, the Enterprises have $5.4 trillion of guaranteed mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and debt outstanding, which is equal to the publicly held debt of the United States. Their market share of all new mortgages reached over 80 percent earlier this year, but it is now falling. During the turmoil last year, they played a very important role in providing liquidity to the conforming mortgage market. That has required a very careful and delicate balance of mission and safety and soundness. A key component of this balance has been their ability to raise and maintain capital. Given recent market conditions, the
balance has been lost. Unfortunately, as house prices, earnings and capital have continued to deteriorate, their ability to fulfill their mission has deteriorated. In particular, the capacity of their capital to absorb further losses while supporting new business activity is in doubt.

Today’s action addresses safety and soundness concerns. FHFA’s rating system is called GSE Enterprise Risk or G-Seer. It stands for Governance, Solvency, Earnings and Enterprise Risk which includes credit, market and operational risk. There are pervasive weaknesses across the board, which have been getting worse in this market.

Over the last three years OFHEO, and now FHFA, have worked hard to encourage the Enterprises to rectify their accounting, systems, controls and risk management issues. They have made good progress in many areas, but market conditions have overwhelmed that progress.

The result has been that they have been unable to provide needed stability to the market. They also find themselves unable to meet their affordable housing mission. Rather than letting these conditions fester and worsen and put our markets in jeopardy, FHFA, after painstaking review, has decided to take action now.

Key events over the past six months have demonstrated the increasing challenge faced by the companies in striving to balance mission and safety and soundness, and the ultimate disruption of that balance that led to today’s announcements. In the first few months of this year, the secondary market showed significant deterioration, with buyers demanding much higher prices for mortgage backed securities.

In February, in recognition of the remediation progress in financial reporting, we removed the portfolio caps on each company, but they did not have the capital to use that flexibility.

In March, we announced with the Enterprises an initiative to increase mortgage market liquidity and market confidence. We reduced the OFHEO-directed capital requirements in return for their commitments to raise significant capital and to maintain overall capital levels well in excess of requirements.

In April, we released our Annual Report to Congress, identifying each company as a significant supervisory concern and noting, in particular, the deteriorating mortgage credit environment and the risks it posed to the companies.

In May OFHEO lifted its 2006 Consent Order with Fannie Mae after the company completed the terms of that order. Subsequently, Fannie Mae successfully raised $7.4 billion of new capital, but Freddie Mac never completed the capital raise promised in March.

Since then credit conditions in the mortgage market continued to deteriorate, with home prices continuing to decline and mortgage delinquency rates reaching alarming levels. FHFA intensified its reviews of each company’s capital planning and capital position, their earnings forecasts and the effect of falling house prices and increasing delinquencies on the credit quality of their mortgage book.

In getting to today, the supervision team has spent countless hours reviewing with each company various forecasts, stress tests, and projections, and has evaluated the performance of their internal models in these analyses. We have had many meetings with each company’s management teams, and have had frank exchanges regarding loss projections, asset valuations, and capital adequacy. More recently, we have gone the extra step of inviting the Federal Reserve and the OCC to have some of their senior mortgage credit experts join our team in these assessments.

The conclusions we reach today, while our own, have had the added benefit of their insight and perspective.

After this exhaustive review, I have determined that the companies cannot continue to operate safely and soundly and fulfill their critical public mission, without significant action to address our concerns, which are:
• the safety and soundness issues I mentioned, including current capitalization;
• current market conditions;
• the financial performance and condition of each company;
• the inability of the companies to fund themselves according to normal practices and prices; and
• the critical importance each company has in supporting the residential mortgage market in this country,

Therefore, in order to restore the balance between safety and soundness and mission, FHFA has placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship. That is a statutory process designed to stabilize a troubled institution with the

objective of returning the entities to normal business operations. FHFA will act as the conservator to operate the Enterprises until they are stabilized.

The Boards of both companies consented yesterday to the conservatorship. I appreciate the cooperation we have received from the boards and the management of both Enterprises. These individuals did not create the inherent conflict and flawed business model embedded in the Enterprises’ structure.

The goal of these actions is to help restore confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, enhance their capacity to fulfill their mission, and mitigate the systemic risk that has contributed directly to the instability in the current market. The lack of confidence has resulted in continuing spread widening of their MBS, which means that virtually none of the large drop in interest rates over the past year has been passed on to the mortgage markets. On top of that, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, in order to try to build capital, have continued to raise prices and tighten credit standards.

FHFA has not undertaken this action lightly. We have consulted with the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, who was appointed a consultant to FHFA under the new legislation. We

have also consulted with the Secretary of the Treasury, not only as an FHFA Oversight Board member, but also in his duties under the law to provide financing to the GSEs. They both concurred with me that conservatorship needed to be undertaken now.

There are several key components of this conservatorship:

First, Monday morning the businesses will open as normal, only with stronger backing for the holders of MBS, senior debt and subordinated debt.

Second, the Enterprises will be allowed to grow their guarantee MBS books without limits and continue to purchase replacement securities for their portfolios, about $20 billion per month without capital constraints.

Third, as the conservator, FHFA will assume the power of the Board and management.

Fourth, the present CEOs will be leaving, but we have asked them to stay on to help with the transition.

Fifth, I am announcing today I have selected Herb Allison to be the new CEO of Fannie Mae and David Moffett the CEO of Freddie Mac. Herb has been the Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch and for the last eight years chairman of TIAA-CREF. David was the Vice Chairman and CFO of US Bancorp. I appreciate the willingness of these two men to take on these tough jobs during these challenging times. Their compensation will be significantly lower than the outgoing CEOs. They will be joined by equally strong non-executive chairmen.

Sixth, at this time any other management action will be very limited. In fact, the new CEOs have agreed with me that it is very important to work with the current management teams and employees to encourage them to stay and to continue to make important improvements to the Enterprises.

Seventh, in order to conserve over $2 billion in capital every year, the common stock and preferred stock dividends will be eliminated, but the common and all preferred stocks will continue to remain outstanding. Subordinated debt interest and principal payments will continue to be made.

Eighth, all political activities — including all lobbying — will be halted immediately. We will review the charitable activities.

Lastly and very importantly, there will be the financing and investing relationship with the U.S. Treasury, which Secretary Paulson will be discussing. We believe that these facilities will provide the critically needed support to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and importantly the liquidity of the mortgage market.

One of the three facilities he will be mentioning is a secured liquidity facility which will be not only for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but also for the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks that FHFA also regulates. The Federal Home Loan Banks have performed remarkably well over the last year as they have a different business model than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a different capital structure that grows as their lending activity grows. They are joint and severally liable for the Bank System’s debt obligations and all but one of the 12 are profitable. Therefore, it is very unlikely that they will use the facility.

During the conservatorship period, FHFA will continue to work expeditiously on the many regulations needed to implement the new law. Some of the key regulations will be minimum capital standards, prudential safety and soundness standards and portfolio limits. It is critical to complete these regulations so that any new investor will understand the investment proposition.

This decision was a tough one for the FHFA team as they have worked so hard to help the Enterprises remain strong suppliers of support to the secondary mortgage markets. Unfortunately, the antiquated capital requirements and the turmoil in housing markets over-whelmed all the good and hard work put in by the FHFA teams and the Enterprises’ managers and employees. Conservatorship will give the Enterprises the time to restore the balances between safety and soundness and provide affordable housing and stability and liquidity to the mortgage markets. I want to thank the FHFA employees for their work during this intense regulatory process. They represent the best in public service. I would also like to thank the employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for all their hard work. Working together we can finish the job of restoring confidence in the Enterprises and with the new legislation build a stronger and safer future for the mortgage markets, homeowners and renters in America.

Thank you and I will now turn it back to Secretary Paulson.

Well, there you have it.  The government has again decided that it has to bail someone out “for the better good of all of the citizens.”  But where and when is this going to stop?  Is it going to be that any time a major financial institution, who greatly affects the economy, goes under the government is going to bail them out so that the the economy doesn’t get worse?  When it comes to the economy, the government needs to learn how to let things just run their course, otherwise major companies will begin to see a pattern that they can take risks, and if they wind up losing, the government “will have to bail us out!”

We cannot continue to allow this government intervention to happen, otherwise we will completely destroy the flow of our free economy.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Iraq Inisists on Withdrawal Timetable

July 10, 2008

Well, the War in Iraq is getting harder for the U.S., and again, this shows it’s time for us to do like Chuck Hagel said, and move our troops to the border, and let the Iraqis deal with the civil unrest.  Let them do their job INSIDE of Iraq, and we get out of their way.  We need to be planning to get MOST of our troops out soon (a full withdrawal isn’t necessary – like I’ve said before: it doesn’t matter how LONG we’re there, but how MANY of us are there – we’re still in Korea, and nobody’s complaining).

Anyway, on Tuesday Iraq’s national security advisor, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, said that Iraq will not agree with any security deal that the U.S. proposes unless it contains a timetable for withdrawal.  Al-Rubaie said, “Our stance in the negotiations underway with the American side will be strong … We will not accept any memorandum of understanding that doesn’t have specific dates to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq.”

Al-Rubaie outlined an Iraqi plan: “The Iraqi proposal stipulates that, once Iraqi forces have resumed security responsibility in all 18 of Iraq’s provinces, U.S.-led forces would then withdraw from all cities in the country.  After that, the country’s security situation would be reviewed every six months, for three to five years, to decide when U.S.-led troops would pull out entirely.”  (Associated Press)

So far, Iraq has been given control of 9 of those provinces.

Ali al-Adeeb, a Shiite lawmaker and a prominent official in the prime minister’s party, told reporters, “This is what the Iraqi people want, the parliament and other Iraqi leaders.”

Prviously, while President Bush was in Europe, he told reporters, “You know, of course, we’re there at their invitation.  This is a sovereign nation.”  And that’s something we all have to remember.  If they REALLY want us gone, we can’t stay.

Today, White House spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters, “I know people are looking at this as a sign of a split between the United States and Iraq.  I think these are signs of encouraging developments in Iraq.  They want to and are becoming much more adept at providing their own security.”

I’d be interested in hearing McCain’s response to these developments.  I agree with McCain – we need to stay as long as needed, but he doesn’t want to keep thousands of troops there – his plan is similar to what’s going on in Korea now, not what Obama says his plan is (thousands of troops there for 100 years).  I think McCain realizes that we can’t be in a country that doesn’t want us there, whereas Obama’s focus is just, “GET OUT NOW!”

We’ll see what else happens in the coming weeks.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Barack Obama: “I will be the Democratic nominee”

June 3, 2008

Well, Barack Obama has given a speech, claiming victory as the Democratic nominee.  Well, I’ve got news Barack, it really “isn’t over until the lady in the pants suit says so.”  Why?  Because the lady has a whole host of hit men who have done some pretty good work before (ok, maybe they did work for her husband, but it’s all in the family).  If I were Barack, I would be VERY careful.  There’s a reason that Clinton didn’t concede tonight, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Obama doesn’t make it through until the convention, let alone November 4th.

Anyway,  here’s the speech that Obama gave:

Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.

Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

Like I said – it’s not over until convention.  Weirder things have happened in politics.

I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign – through the good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.

At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.

Aww, that’s cute!

That is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she’s a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.

Don’t kid people – you hate her guts.

We’ve certainly had our differences over the last sixteen months. But as someone who’s shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning – even in the face of tough odds – is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work at the Children’s Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as First Lady; what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency – an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be. And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

No, it’s her need for power, not love for the people that got her where she is.

There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn’t just about the party in charge of Washington, it’s about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.

OK, so you have more voters – they’re still divided voters when it comes to Democrats.  And since Clinton hasn’t conceded yet, after the math shows that it’s over, unless she does something on the convention floor or swings some of your Superdelegates, your party will CONTINUE to be divided.

All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren’t the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn’t do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.

Again – I’d disagree.  Most of the new voters came out for either you or Ron Paul.  And you did WAY better than Ron Paul – so most of the new voters came out for you.

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

Thank you for acknowledging his service – that shows some class that should always shown to our service men, but what accomplishments of yours has he denied?

Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

Well, that’s because he’s OUR nominee – and our party is generally right and yours is wrong.  Of course, when he switches sides, he’s often on the wrong side, but he’s my nominee, so I’m going to vote for him.  He’s a heck of a lot better than you.

It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

Um, you’re the one who’s all about change, not McCain.

It’s not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college – policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.

He has a GREAT plan to get people insured, which is nothing like what Bush has done.  I really like his plan to allow people to cross state lines to get insurance.  And who cares what the gap is between rich and poor – the important thing is helping the poor richer.  The gap doesn’t matter.  That’s what’s wrong with  Democrats.  They care too much about catching up to the rich instead of being able  to just care for themselves.

And it’s not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians – a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn’t making the American people any safer.

OK – I’ll give you some on his one.  We need to embrace Chuck Hagel’s plan, and make sure the Iraqis actually become independent and can function on their own.

So I’ll say this – there are many words to describe John McCain’s attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush’s policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.

Change is a foreign policy that doesn’t begin and end with a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged. I won’t stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what’s not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years – especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.

OK, I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again (obviously Barack doesn’t read my blog).  The time we spend there doesn’t matter – the amount of troops does.  We still have people in Korea, and nobody seems to care, that’s because we have a VERY small amount.

We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in – but start leaving we must. [What, did Yoda write the speech?] It’s time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future. It’s time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve when they come home. It’s time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda’s leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st century – terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That’s what change is.

Change is realizing that meeting today’s threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy – tough, direct diplomacy where the President of the United States isn’t afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That’s what the American people want. That’s what change is.

OK, but you DO have to understand that diplomacy won’t always work.

Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it. It’s understanding that the struggles facing working families can’t be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation. It’s understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was President.

McCain HAS a plan to give the middle class a tax break.  And McCain also has plans to use alternative (cheaper) energy – such as nuclear energy.

John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy – cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota – he’d understand the kind of change that people are looking for.

HAHAHAHAHA AHAHAHA HAAAAHAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAA!!  Whoa boy – that’s funny.  You’re lecturing McCain about not visiting cities in Michigan.  You’ve visited my state what, 4 or 5 times?  I can handle your misspeakings, but this is just hypocritical bull crap.

Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can’t pay the medical bills for a sister who’s ill, he’d understand that she can’t afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and wealthy. She needs us to pass health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That’s the change we need.

And McCain HAS a plan to do that.

Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he’d understand that we can’t afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future – an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. That’s the change we need.

Um, no – we don’t need to make cars that run more efficiently on OIL.  We NEED to do like John McCain and advocate for different energy, such as nuclear and fuel cells.  We need to get off oil, not make it more efficient.

And maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he’d understand that we can’t afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American. That’s the change we need in America. That’s why I’m running for President.

Again – college should NOT be a birthright.  Why does everybody need to go to college?  College is SO overrated because of social norms now.  Plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, etc… don’t need to go to college.  Go to trade school and get out in the workforce.  Sure, doctors are more prestigious, but we need plumbers too!  If we send everybody to college, we have a bunch of white collar workers, and nobody to fill blue collar jobs, so we ship MORE jobs overseas.

The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don’t deserve is another election that’s governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

I believe it was YOU who made religion a wedge with your comments in Pennsylvania.

Despite what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I’ve walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. I’ve sat across the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to death row. And I’ve worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom’s cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

OK, so that was Barack Obama’s speech that he gave earlier tonight.

He claims he’s the nominee – but really – I think Clinton will take it to the convention where some weird things will happen, but then Obama will prevail.  If Obama’s smart, he WON’T pick her as his VP, but who knows.  He may want to “unify the party,” but Clinton can’t unify anything from the Democratic party, the nation, or even her marriage (admit it, Hill – it’s a sham).

Hello, President John Sydney McCain III

OK, I’ll be looking at Clinton’s speech next.

Done  Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Senator Chuck Hagel On Hannity & Colmes: Stop Big Government Spending, the Iraq War, and Conservativism

April 11, 2008

So on March 26th, Senator Chuck Hagel the Great (R-NE) was interviewed by Sean Hannity the Great (R) and Alan Colmes (D) on the Hannity & Colmesshow, to discuss the war in Iraq, conservativism, government spending, and his new book America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers.  Here’s a video of the interview:

And here’s a couple of quick quotes that I liked of Senator Hagel’s:

  • Well, I don’t know if you define your position on the war based on your conservative credentials.  I mean, there are some pretty significant conservatives out there the late William F. Buckley was a pretty significant critic.
  • I have always defined my position on the war based on what I think our interests are.
  • I was against that [Medicare spending], I voted against it.  I voted against No Child Left Behind.  I voted against the real big government type programs.

So, again, I really enjoyed this interview with the Senator – it shows some great principles, especially that we HAVE to cut out all of this pork barrel spending and earmarks.  Earmarks are SOMETIMES (but not very often) ok in small amounts and for certain circumstances (the Office of Management and Budget “(OMB) defines earmarks as funds provided by the Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents Executive Branch merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to manage critical aspects of the funds allocation process.”), but they should NEVER be tacked on to bills as pork.  I am very glad that John McCain has promised that he would veto all bills with pork attached to them.

Again, I heard a lot of good things from Senator Hagel here, and I express my wishes that he’ll seek another public office.  America needs someone like him.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Senator Chuck Hagel on The Daily Show: “We Failed the American People”

April 5, 2008

As is my policy, whenever America’s Greatest Politician, Senator Chuck Hagel the Great (R-NE) is in the news, I do a post on it. Recently, Senator Hagel was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Here’s a video:

Let me highlight some points:

  • “There will not be a military solution in Iraq… The deeper we sink into this bog … not only the more difficult it is to get out, but the more reliant the Iraqis are on us, the more damage we do to our standing in the world, to our army, to our nation, to every component, and … that is a result of not asking the tough questions up front, not trying to associate consequences with actions.”
  • “This administration went headlong into a war that they never understood.”
  • “I think our invasion and occupation in Iraq represents one of the great blunders of American history, and we will pay a high price for this for a long time, and have been.”
  • This administration “continues to justify something that is unjustifiable.”
  • “We are asking these young men and women in uniform to perform feats and accomplish missions that they are doing masterfully and the sacrifice that they are making … is something like I’ve never seen before, and what each of us in elective office have as our most important responsibility is a policy worthy of the sacrifices of these young men and women and their families.”
  • “We [Congress] did not do our job.  We failed the American people in that we didn’t ask the toughest questions and we were all so consumed with fear and terrorism and we really misplaced our focus.  The front on the War on Terrorism is not Iraq.  It’s the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, that mountain range.  That’s the real dangerous area that focuses on our national interests. … Now Iraq is a seething cauldron and we have national interest there and the next President is gonna have to work our way out of this thing and it’s gonna be difficult, but they’re gonna have to do this in a responsible way.”

The quote I liked most of his was where he talked about the Iraqis becoming reliant on American forces.  This is why we need to give the Iraqis an ultimatum: “Start having a desire to defend/govern yourselves, or we’re out,” and it’s unfair to the Iraqis because we’re responsible for the chaos, but at this point, we can’t keep babysitting the Iraqis.  I still advocate Senator Hagel’s plan of moving our troops to the border and letting the Iraqis deal with the civil unrest, the problems that THEY THEMSELVES understand better than ANY American!

I have to say – watching him over and over again makes me feel guilty about how long I defended the war.  I still hold to the belief that there were weapons of mass destruction, and that they were just moved out of the country, but did we honestly think that we were going to find them?  Sure, there were at one point, but that was months before we went in – the fact of the matter is that we went in with a short term plan, and that just ruined both nations.

I will say that a lot of people take McCain’s “100 years” quote out of context.  It doesn’t matter how long we’re there, but how many of us are there.  We’re still in Korea, 50 years later, but the amount of troops is minimal.  If we have to be there for 100 years, but we only have a handful of troops there to assist the Iraqis, I would consider that a success.

I really hope Senator Hagel gets back into public office.

Again, I’ll put in a plug for Senator Hagel’s new book, America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers.  Although I haven’t been able to buy it yet (I need to get out of school for the summer and start work again to make money first), I’ve heard great reviews about it, and I’m really looking forward to read it.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Senator Hagel Discusses Iraq, Presidential Election, & Book on CNN

March 28, 2008

Today, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), America’s best Senator, and my favorite politician, was on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer yesterday, discussing the Iraq War, the 2008 Election, and his new book (which I cannot wait to buy!), America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers.  Here’s a video of the interview:

That man is awesome!  What none of the Presidential candidates seem to get is the fact that Iraq has to fix itself – we just need to stay and supervise – we can’t force Iraq to fix itself.  That’s why I loved Hagel’s plan to move the troops to the border and let the Iraqis deal with the civil unrest.  Then we could be out in a relatively short time, instead of staying there for decades while trying to do the job that Iraqis need to be doing.

I really wish he would’ve run for President, or at least stayed in the Senate.  I stumbled across his retirement speech, which one of his greatest (and saddening for me at the same time) speeches:

I have told Senator Hagel that if he ever runs for office, I’ll be the first one to support him – I’ll re-start the Michigan and Students blogs.

There has been a rumor that he might be a possible candidate for Secretary of Defense in an Obama cabinet.  Although I do NOT want an Obama Presidency, having Hagel as Secretary of Defense would make me really happy.

Senator Hagel, you’re a great American – God bless you.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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