Posts Tagged ‘University of Chicago’

Obama is probably to the U.S. what Ron Dellums is to Oakland

Ron Dellums is the mayor of Oakland, CA. He previously was a Berkeley city councilman and he was a congressman from the Berkeley district for 27 years.

Like Obama, Dellums had little or no work experience other than being a legislator, which is a euphemism for someone who makes speeches and occasionally votes “yes” or “no” or abstains (also voting “present” in Obama’s case).

Like Obama, Dellums went from a lifetime of shooting his mouth off for a living to being the chief executive of a large organization. In Dellums’ case, Mayor of Oakland, CA; in Obama’s, president of the U.S.

One interesting difference is that Dellums already took office—back in 2007. He is now half-way through his four-year term.

Disaster

How’s he doing? He’s a disaster.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a black columnist named Chip Johnson. In his 1/16/09 column, he ripped Dellums, not for the first time. I mention Johnson’s race because it is the same as Dellums’ and Obama’s father. Here is the subhead of Johnson’s column:

Erratic absences from the office, lack of focus and organization have defined his performance.

I suspect that Dellums is not interested in actually doing the job of mayor of Oakland. He just wants to remain a big shot like he was in Congress.

I also suspect that Barack Obama has no interest in doing the job of being in charge of the executive branch of the federal government. He never bestirred himself to do any such thing previously in his life. He just wants to be the world’s biggest big shot. I predict his administration will be similar to Dellums because he is much like Dellums in many ways.

First evidence I was right: Obama was not interested in the contents of his “stimulus” bill. Governing bores him. He is only interested in receiving adulation from crowds. He turned writing the “stimulus” bill—the biggest spending bill in history—over to Pelosi and Reid. Reid stuck in a $2 billion magnetic levitation train from LA to Las Vegas (he represents NV—may I see a show of hands of those who believe $2 billion will be the final cost? Is this the same Las Vegas that Obama bad-mouthed bankers who were planning to attend a meeting there? Is it saving America’s crumbling roads and bridges?). Pelosi put in zillions for condoms. The contents of the bill have been an embarrassment to Obama. As we find out all that’s really in it for the first time, it will be a bigger embarrassment. But Obama was not interested in writing it so he can’t complain.

Obama promised that bills being considered would be on his White House Web site at least five days in advance and a whole lot of other changes—all forgotten. He only wants to be the president. He is not interested in doing the job of president. He has never shown any interest in actually working at any job in his life.

Johnson wrote about an independent report on Oakland City government that was just released. It said the city’s executive branch is a jumbled, dysfunctional mess. The Mayor is often AWOL. He communicates with city council and his department heads only rarely and erratically. Six offices have acting directors—two years into Dellums’ administration. Dellums filled important posts with political supporters. When one needs to be fired, Dellums can’t do it. It reminds him too much of “The Man” I suspect. Unfortunately for Oakland and the nation, firing incompetent or malevolent subordinates is one of the most important parts of any executive job.

Johnson says,

Whenever left to his own devices or to the mercy of current advisers, Dellums instinctively falls back in time to the political rhetoric of his heyday—in the mid-1960s.

Dellums has so far failed miserably at providing leadership of any kind since he took office…

Comparisons of the two:

Category Dellums Obama
military service Marines

None

firsts

first African-American elected to Congress from Northern California

First African-American president
political view the first openly Socialist Congressman since World War II many leftist associations and avowed policies
first two years of college Oakland City College, Oakland, CA Occidental College, Pasadena, CA
second two years of college San Francisco State University Columbia College, New York, New York
advanced degree Masters in Social Work, University of California, Berkeley, CA J.D. in Law, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA
early work “political activist in the African American community” Wikipedia “community organizer” in African-American community
teaching taught at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley taught at the University of Chicago Law School
drug use An eight month investigation vindicated Dellums of allegations that he had used cocaine and marijuana, finding there was no basis for the allegations. The investigation of Dellums and two other congressmen began in 1983, based on a complaint from a House [of Representatives] doorkeeper. admitted cocaine and marijuana use in autobiography

Both have a lot of black activism, and living, studying, and teaching in ultra left communities (New York City, Hyde Park, Cambridge, Berkeley) and universities (Columbia, Cal Berkeley, Harvard Law). Obama is the poster boy for affirmative action. Dellums is older and therefore pre-dates affirmative action nationwide, but he does not pre-date affirmative action where he ran for office, namely in Berkeley and Oakland.

In the 1960s, the civil rights movement was a noble and necessary effort to end legal segregation. But since then, for all of Obama’s life and most of Dellums’, black activism has been about imagined or ancient grievances and immoral “solutions” to those grievances like affirmative action. This is hardly good preparation for managing huge, complex government branches that serve citizens of all colors.

Most importantly, neither Dellums nor Obama ever had a real job of any sort for more than a year or two. When you’ve never had a real job, it is all but certain that you will screw up the first one. Indeed, the longer you go without a real job, the greater the probability that you have developed habits that are harmful to effective management of subordinates.

When you’re a hammer, you think every problem is a nail. When you are a permanent, career, political campaigner, you think every problem is a campaign rally.

Rhetoric an end in itself

On the contrary, they have spent their whole lives among those for whom rhetoric is an end in itself, not a means to an end: academics, activists, candidates, and legislators. It is no surprise that Dellums has no clue about how to run a government nor any experience or habits that would help him govern. It is no surprise that he thinks making campaign speeches, after he has taken office, is his only job. It will be no surprise if Obama, with a similar background and lack of executive experience, performs in the White House about the same as Dellums has in Oakland.

I appreciate informed, well-thought-out constructive criticism and suggestions. If there are any errors or omissions in my facts or logic, please tell me about them. If you are correct, I will fix the item in question. If you wish, I will give you credit. Where appropriate, I will apologize for the error. To date, I have been surprised at how few such corrections I have had to make.

The wives of Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich

Part of the scandal surrounding IL Governor Rod Blagojevich is his efforts to get his wife appointed to some $150,000-a-year board membership.

What an outrage!

But excuse me.

Obama’s wife got appointed to a $325,000-a-year University of Chicago hospital job.

Do Harvard Law grads like Michelle Obama make $325,000 a year?.

Yes, if they make partner in a successful law firm. She quit the legal profession after one apparently non-sterling year. The hospital job has nothing to do with law. It’s an “outreach” job. (I roll my eyes wearily as we learn about yet another affirmative-action taxpayer-funded give-away.)

Does she also have an MD or any other advanced degree or training related to hospitals?

Nope.

So how did she get $325,000? Here are two mainstream media stories on how she got so much (hint: payback for a million-dollar earmark Obama got from Congress for the hospital):

http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2006/sep/27/news/chi-0609270216sep27

http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/03/sweet_scoop_obama_after_initia.html

My speculation on the answer from my article “The end of affirmative action” is:

$50,000 a year for being a Princeton/Harvard Law grad who no longer practices law—that is, what she would make if she were white

$120,000 a year for combining black skin with preppy pearls and vocabulary

$155,000 a year for being celebrity Barack Obama’s wife

So if it’s a scandal for Blagojevich to want his wife to get a dubious job that pays $150,000 through politics, why is it not a bigger scandal for Obama’s wife to get a more dubious job through politics—a job that pays more than twice as much—after the University of Chicago kicked back part of the Obama $1,000,000 earmark to Michelle in the form of a raise?

Because Blagojevich, now that the wiretaps have been publicly quoted, can do no right, and Obama can do no wrong in the eyes of his media and other supporters. If I may paraphrase Richard Nixon from the current movie Frost/Nixon,

If the Messiah does it, it’s not illegal.

If I were in Obama’s position, I would urge my wife not to take any position that she could not get if she were not married to me in terms of either salary or responsibility or status. Obama should have said the same to his wife. It appears that he did not.

He has no ethics, but he is a real smooth talker and that is apparently a satisfactory substitute for ethics to the media and his other cultish supporters. And neither of them have any shame when it comes to accepting their affirmative-action “entitlements” and/or “South Side of Chicago” political patronage-based special treatment.

Financial meltdown

Starting in September, 2008, there was a worldwide financial meltdown. Regular readers of this Web site have complained to me that during the weeks after the meltdown began happening, I was silent about it.

Not a traditional blogger

I am not a traditional blogger. Bloggers pop off instantly about everything. I am a professional author with 80 books and over 5,000 nationally-published articles. To write about an issue as complex and important as the financial crisis of the fall of 2008, I had to do a lot of reading and watching. Since pertinent events have happened about every other day, there is also the question of how can I write about it until it stops unfolding? On October 11, 2008, I finally felt I knew enough and had seen enough to comment intelligently on the subject.

Key questions

Whose fault was it?

What should we do about it?

Politicians pointing fingers

Incumbent politicians hate financial bad news because the other party uses it to defeat incumbents. As I write this, the Democrats are blaming the Republicans for the meltdown because they have had a president since 2001 and were in control of Congress prior to 2007. Obama’s poll numbers have jumped significantly since the meltdown—maybe enough to hand him the White House.

Are the Dems right? Partly. Republicans are, indeed, averse to regulations and enforcement of regulations. Lack of both contributed to the meltdown.

The Republicans say it’s the Dems’ fault because they blocked repeated Republican attempts at reforming FNMA and FHLMC and because the Dems enacted the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act which is a sort of affirmative-action program for “disadvantaged minority” wannabe home buyers.

Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was signed first by Democrat President Carter. It was changed to push even harder for more “minority” mortgage loans by Republican President George H.W. Bush (Bush I) and by Democrat President Clinton. It is mortgage affirmative action.

My wife was an FDIC bank examiner for 21 years retiring 12/31/06. FDIC is one of the government agencies charged with monitoring and enforcing CRA. She says CRA contributed to the subprime crisis, but not as much as the Republicans claim. She is a Republican. I am a Libertarian. She primarily blames securitization of home mortgages and the opportunity for banks and Wall Street firms to earn fees from it for the crisis. Securitization means putting thousands of home mortgages into packages to be sold to Wall Street investors.

Democrat resistance to reforms

President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain among others tried repeatedly to force FNMA and FHLMC to lend more conservatively. Their public statements and proposed bill are quite easily accessed on the record. See a partisan blog that researched the matter. Democrats, most prominently House Financial Services Chairman Congressman Barney Frank; Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and others. Senator Dodd received the most campaign contributions from FNMA employees of any senator. Barack Obama received the second most. Dodd also received special treatment on a mortgage he got from Countrywide, the nation’s largest subprime lender. Obama was a community organizer for ACORN, a trainer for ACORN, and legal Counsel for ACORN, a predominantly black, major pusher of subprime lending to “minorities.” He also has directed taxpayer’s funds to ACORN and other similar entities in his capacity as IL state senator and/or U.S. senator. Obama’s campaign paid an ACORN affiliate, Citizens Services Inc. $800,000 for “get-out-the-vote” projects for his 2008 presidential primary campaign.

In her capacity as a federal bank examiner, my wife worked or bank requests to open or close branches, to merge with other banks and for new banks to start. She said that every, I repeat, every such application was opposed by a letter from ACORN. FDIC was then required to get a response from the bank in question to the ACORN complaint. FDIC paid little attention to ACORN complaints because when you oppose every single application from everybody for every action including both opening and closing branches, you don’t have much credibility. But the banks did not know whether the FDIC would defer to the ACORN opposition or not. In many cases, the bank would pay money to ACORN to settle the dispute and ACORN would subsequently withdraw their opposition.

If you turned back the clock to about 1990 and eliminated either the Democrat or Republican policies, the problem would be smaller, but not non-existent. You would have to eliminate both sets of policies to make the problem go away completely. Both parties and their presidential candidates are scum. They are only different in the ways they are corrupt. Democrats never saw a poor person they did not want to throw the taxpayer’s money at. Republicans never saw a military program they did not want to throw taxpayers’ money at. In the subprime crisis, the Democrats favored policies that they believed would help them get black votes and low and middle class votes, regardless of the danger to the taxpayers. Republicans favored policies that would let businesses do what they wanted regardless of the danger to the taxpayers.

The basic pertinent Democrat principle is socialism which is invalid.

The basic pertinent Republican principle is deference to the free market which is generally correct, but which does not apply to areas where the taxpayers’ money is being used, or may be used, as in the $700 billion bailout. In other words, the free market is fine when the participants are risking their own money. It cannot be unregulated when the taxpayers’ money is being spent or risked. Corporate welfare is not always a bogus accusation.

Why did this happen? The regulators and politicians did not want to be party poopers. When prices were rising year after year, the warning signs were there, but the public did not think anything was wrong. Regulators are supposed to blow the whistle anyway. They generally did not either on their own initiative or because of political pressure not to. Politicians never stop parties. Preventing something that the voters are not worried about from happening gets you no votes. Politicians are only interested in votes. They could care less about stopping bad things from happening.

Made to sell versus made to keep

In the old days, like the 1970s, savings and loans made mortgage loans and kept them. Recently, banks and relatively unregulated mortgage companies made mortgage loans for the sole purpose of selling them to Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA or “Fannie Mae”) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC or “Freddie Mac”) and other Wall Street firms. In the 1970s, mortgage lenders wanted to make good loans because they were “making their own bed and they were going to have to lie in it.” More recently, the mortgage originators only wanted to make loans that they could sell. Whether the loan turned out bad later was generally not their problem.

I am a real estate investment expert. One of the well-known facts in real estate is that buildings that were built by a builder who intended to keep the building for himself to live in or rent out as an investment are infinitely better buildings to own than buildings that were built with the intent to sell. I managed one of the latter once in Vineland, NJ. It was disaster. The various short cuts that the builder took to save money continually cost us problems and expense and made the building perform badly. The builder thought he would be long gone by the time we discovered all the problems and he was right.

(I did not buy the building. I was just a salaried property manager for the company that organized the limited partnership that bought it. But I was the face of the company to the unhappy investors. They would complain that it was my fault the property was underperforming. One group demanded a meeting with me. They came in intending to chew me out. They asked me why the building was underperforming. I told them. They leaned back in their chairs and said, “We were going to chew you out, but your analysis was so honest and informed that we have nothing to add.” One of their questions was to demand to know why the latest income statement I had sent out differed greatly and unhappily from the projections in the prospectus. I said, “Because the prospectus was bullshit.” I had not been associated with the company when it bought the building and issued the prospectus.)

Do not buy mortgages that were originated to be sold rather than held if you can avoid it.

‘Credit enhancement’

So-called “credit enhancement” was another big factor. You can sell bonds—which is what mortgages are—for more money if they are AAA. So Wall Street invented “credit enhancement.” With credit enhancement, some entity with a good credit rating says they will guarantee the bonds or mortgages in question. That is, if the mortgages default, the credit enhancer will cover any resulting losses.

That’s fine in theory, but it requires the person or entity buying the mortgages because of their enhanced credit to make sure the credit enhancer—companies like Lehman Brothers and AIG—can make good on the guarantee—even if millions of homes fall in value and go into default as a result.

One of the main problems is that the various credit enhancers were unworthy of the trust placed in them. They welshed or were about to thereby convincing the federal government that they needed to intervene.

Leverage

There is a business cycle of boom then bust then boom then bust. Leverage is borrowing money to invest in business or securities or commodities. During good times, people and entities tend to borrow a greater and greater percentage of the assets they own. This is dangerous, but it does not seem so at the time. The problem is that the more you borrow, the harder it is to survive bad times. The more you borrow, the less trouble it takes to bankrupt you.

As well explained by Robert Shiller in his book Irrational Exuberance, people keep claiming we have entered a “new era” when the old rules no longer apply. They apply this bogus new-era theory to leverage among other things.

I have long had an article at this Web site about buying real estate for nothing down. I wrote a book called How to Buy Real Estate for Little or No Money Down. In both, I have long said that it is imprudent to lend more than 80% of the value of a property. It is only prudent to make such high loan-to-value ratio loans or mortgages if the loan is guaranteed by a person or entity who would qualify for the top 20% of the value of the property on an unsecured basis. In real estate, higher than 80% loan-to-value ratio mortgages are often made and prudently made because entities like the FHA or VA or private mortgage insurance companies guarantee the top 20% of the mortgage against default.

Numerous people contacted me telling me that I was out of date, that we were in a new era, etc. Bull! I was right. I told you so. The current crisis stems to a large extent from imprudent loans, called subprime. Those loans had two things wrong with them. 1. Their loan-to-value ratio was too high and the guarantor of the top 20% of the loan was not strong enough to fulfill the guarantee if a large number of mortgages defaulted simultaneously. 2. The character and capacity of most subprime borrowers was unsatisfactory as was well known from centuries of loan underwriting experience but they received the loans anyway.

Everyone involved borrowed too much. When you borrow too much, you cannot survive even the slightest downturn in your income or the value of the assets pledged as security for the loan—a house in the case of a home mortgage. The home buyers borrowed too much—as much as 110% of the value of the property. The lenders themselves also borrowed too much.

Banks are leveraged about 12 to 15 to 1. That means if you bought a bank, you would typically be making a 1/15 = 7% to 1/12 = 8% down payment to acquire millions or billions of loans. FNMA and FHLMC were allowed to raise their leverage to 32 to 1 as part of the “solution” to the first acute event of the crisis: the failure of Bear Stearns. That means that to buy the billions of mortgages they owned, you would only have to put down 1/32 = 3%. With that much leverage, your equity is wiped out by a mere 3% drop in the values of your mortgages.

The other players like AIG and Lehman Brothers were also highly leveraged. Everyone was betting that property values would keep going up. They did not. No one had enough equity to survive the change.

The mortgage foreclosure rate in the U.S. in October of 2008 is only about 2.5%. During the Great Depression, it was about 50%. So why is 2.5% causing so many problems? Leverage. If you only have a tiny percentage of equity in your home or bank or mortgage lender, you are wiped out by a tiny increase in foreclosures. The normal foreclosure rate is around 1%.

Irrational exuberance and irrational despair

Former Federal Reserve head Alan Greenspan called the stock market and real estate market euphoria of the late nineties and early 2000s “irrational exuberance.” Yale professor Robert Shiller repeated the phrase in the title of a book I just finished reading in October, 2008. It causes people to pay ridiculously high prices for stocks and real estate. During the dot-com boom, people were accepting ridiculous price/earnings ratios and even price/sales ratios (in the case of corporations that had never made a dime of profit) for stocks they bought.

For example, in 1998, eToys had $30 million in sales and lost $28.6 million, yet the stock price of the company made it worth $8 billion. At the same time, Toys R Us had sales of $11.2 billion and profits of $376 million but it was only worth $6 billion in the stock market. eToys went bankrupt three years later, meaning it was worth next to nothing then.

People get that stupid in both directions. In October, 2008, Charles Schwab has a market value of $21 billion based on its stock price. It also $27.8 billion in cash in its bank account. That means you could buy it for $21 billion by buying all the stock, then shut it down and pocket the $6.8 billion difference (assuming Schwab does not owe a lot of money. If they do owe a lot of money, one would wonder why they did not use the cash to pay down the debt). Actually, Schwab should use the cash to buy back its own overly cheap stock because the company clearly has substantial value above and beyond its bank accounts. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig says at present (10/11/08), 10% of all publicly-traded companies are valued by the stock market at less than the amount of cash in their bank accounts. You need to see the value of their other assets and liabilities to draw a definitive judgment, but as with Schwab, one would expect that they would pay off their debts if they had more cash than their market capitalization.

In Anchorage, AK in the late 1980s, people fell into irrational despair about that market. Prices fell to ridiculously low levels. One of my California readers followed my advice to go invest there. He bought a 4-plex for $130,000. He put $3,900 down and had $6,955 positive cash flow the first year from the property. That’s a 178% cash-on-cash return! That window of great opportunity slammed shut fast, perhaps in part because I told my readers nationwide about it and a number of them went there to buy and word spread.

The current irrational despair will create huge bargains in both stocks and bonds and probably already has. Stock companies will probably start paying more dividends to make their stock more attractive to investors so they can raise capital to expand. Many companies and their insiders will probably buy their own stock back because they know the company produces far more net income and net assets than the stock market is currently giving them credit for. Recently, banks were allowed to buy their own stock back. That was previously prohibited. Because the market is being so idiotic about the values they are imputing to the various banks, the banks’ management and remaining shareholders are getting a fabulous bargain by buying back their own stock.

The market shifts from “growth” to income over time. “Growth” means people buy a stock or real estate because they believe it will go up in the future. When that belief is not present—as now—the market switches to an income orientation. That is, investors will value stocks and real estate according to the amount of income it throws off. The less you pay for a stock or property, the greater the return you get from its dividends or cash flow. When the prices fall ridiculously low, the income returns get ridiculously high. At the same time, as the dopey masses rush to buy bonds, bond yields fall, thereby making the dividend yields on stocks and the cash flow of rental properties even more attractive relatively speaking.

The Great Depression

The Democrats and media are trying to encourage as much fear of a Depression as possible to get votes and ratings. It’s working. Obama will probably get elected and have filibuster-proof majorities in Congress. God help free enterprise and the future prosperity of the American people.

People think the Great Depression was caused by the 1929 stock market crash. Nope. It was caused by the Federal Reserve keeping money too tight. And prolonged and deepened by tariffs and government intervention into the free market. Th Fed is bending over backwards to avoid that now. Fed head Ben Bernanke is reportedly one of the leading scholars of the causes of the Great Depression. But Anna Schwartz is another. She co-wrote a book on the causes of the Depression with Milton Friedman. She thinks Bernanke is misdiagnosing and mistreating the causes of the current economic crisis which are not the same as the one in the 1930s. In particluar, she thinks liquidity was a big problem then, but not as much now. She also thinks the Alan Greenspan-run Fed caused the recent subprime crisis.

Unfortunately, the other big cause, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, is not under Bernanke’s control. And the politicians will sell out the nation to get re-elected. Furthermore, Smoot-Hawley type tariffs would have a much greater depressing effect now because of the greatly increased level of international trade now compared to the 1930s.

We already had evidence that today’s politicians will condemn Americans to a deep depression via tariffs in the Ohio Democrat primary. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sucked up to Ohio voters by promising to renegotiate President Bill Clinton’s NAFTA treaty, which eliminated many tariffs.

The majority of Americans, especially Rust Belt voters like those in Ohio, are too ignorant to understand that tariffs hurt the countries that pass them. They see it as the repatriation of jobs. In fact, tariffs hurt the countries that pass them, in no small part through retaliatory tariffs by the other countries who can no longer sell to America. That kills jobs in both countries and the hurt far exceeds whatever jobs “come back” to the protectionist countries. Virtually all economists agree on this, and they rarely agree on anything. During the Depression, 1,028 of them in the U.S. signed a petition against the Smoot-Hawley tariff, to no avail.

Follow the money

Watergate’s Deep Throat famously directed Bob Woodward to “Follow the money.” Those angry at the subprime mess should do the same. In doing so, they will find out something that no media story has revealed. Most of the lost money went into the pockets of those who sold their homes from 2004 to 2006. My oldest son is currently trying to buy his first home. The houses he is looking at sell for about $300,000. a couple of years ago, they sold for about $550,000. They are all foreclosures.

Who got the $550,000 when they were at that level? Mostly the home seller—probably about $250,000 in a typical case. The various bad guy middlemen in current media stories—real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, Wall Street investment bankers, FNMA/FHLMC, bond-rating agencies, banks—had to split among them about 10% of the sale price or about $50,000. Multiply that by all such deals and you get the share for the various parties.

Were the buyers who have since defaulted on the mortgages bad guys? Yes. They typically lied on their mortgage application. If not, they would not have gotten the loan. The lenders did stupid things like not verify the income and net worth statements made by the borrowers. But they did not make loans to those who did not make or have enough as far as what they claimed was concerned. Who taught and coached the borrowers to commit those felonies? Probably those on commission who interfaced with them during the deal, that is, real estate brokers and salespeople and mortgage brokers and salespeople.

Lying on a mortgage application violates 18 USC 1001, 1012, 1014. Those are all federal felonies, that is, they carry both fines and prison sentences. Persons charged with those crimes are also usually charged with mail fraud (18 USC 1341), wire fraud (18 USC 1343), conspiracy (18 USC 371), and racketeering (18 USC 1961 et seq.). These are also all federal felonies.

On TV, subprime borrowers typically depict themselves as victims who did not know what they were doing. They’re lying. They were speculating that homes would continue to go up in value and they would get rich from the appreciation as a result—all before the foreclosure happened. They knew they could not afford the payments, especially on the loans that were to reset to higher interest rates. They just bet—with taxpayers money we now realize—on continued rising prices. they knew exactly what they were doing. The media and Democrats who are now depicting them as victims and demanding that the bailout protect “their homes” are also lying.

Executive compensation

Politicians and media are focusing on some high executive compensation. That nonsense has been going on throughout America for decades. It is an outrage and part of a broader problem called corporate governance. Corporate executives are supposed to have the interests of their shareholders at heart. In fact, the CEOs hire and fire the board of directors that is supposed to represent the shareholders. The boards do whatever the CEOs want, including approving scandalous compensation, golden parachutes, poison pills, and a number of other things that harm shareholders. The problem, which is well described in the 2008 book The Gridlock Economy is too many owners. If a corporation is owned by five shareholders, the CEO will damned well do what they want or they will fire him. But when there are five million shareholders, the CEO can ignore all but major shareholders—if any—who would have 51% of the vote on the board. Because ownership has been atomized, no single shareholder has the power to get the CEO to behave, nor do the tiny shareholders have the motivation to exercise their rights to organize the shareholders into groups big enough to compel good behavior.

However, excess executive compensation is no more than 1% of the subprime mess. Realtors® and mortgage loan officers got more collectively, if not individually, than Wall Street executives. Most of the money went to the sellers who are generally innocent of any misbehavior. As with previous similar scandals involving REITs, LLCs, and S&Ls, millions of bad deals were done to entitle relatively small (per deal) fees for a relatively small number of commissioned salesmen and Wall Street executives. The public’s focus should be on reforming the laws to prevent recurrence of such problems, not on a small number of corporate executives. I do not oppose punishing corporate executives and boards who misbehaved, but the main focus needs to be on correcting the mess and preventing it from recurring, not class envy about a small number of salaries and bonuses.

Bill O’Reilly

Bill O’Reilly is one the main idiots pushing executive-compensation justice as the main focus of media coverage of the crisis.

Jim Cramer of Mad Money

The meltdown seems to have revealed what Mad Money host Jim Cramer really is about. I have seen two pertinent clips. In one, from early 2008, he made fun of those who advocated selling Lehman Brothers, calling such an action “silly.” Lehman has since gone bankrupt which means those who did not sell lost every penny they invested in Lehman Brothers.

I did not say to sell Lehman Brothers. I do not make any such recommendations in either direction. The reason is no one knows about such things including me. But Cramer surely did say to buy or keep Lehman stock. And that was disastrous advice. The fact is he did not know what he was talking about and had no business making any comment either way.

I have also seen a shaken Cramer somberly telling people to remove from the stock market any money they will need in the next five years. That was his salient reaction to the stock market crash in the fall of 2008.

Excuse me. Not putting in stocks money you will need to spend in the next five, or even ten, fifteen, or 19 years is ancient, standard stock market advice. It is the advice that all competent, honest stock market experts have been giving for decades. I believe you will find that advice, roughly speaking, in the following highly-respected books:

Unconventional Success by David Swenson

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle

Capital Ideas by Peter L. Bernstein

Capital Ideas Evolving by Peter Bernstein

The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein

Winning the Loser’s Game by Charles Ellis

It’s also in my book Succeeding which I finished writing in July, 2008 and came off the press in August, 2008.

I have never paid much attention to Cramer. I see him ranting when I surf channels on TV. I would simply dismiss him and anyone like him as being more certain about everything than anyone can legitimately be about anything. As long as the stock market bubbles around more or less normally, guys like Cramer can rant and rave and predict and recommend and not get exposed. But when the stock market moves like it did in 2008, people like Cramer are revealed for what they really are: bullshit artists.

Greed

Greed is another thing blamed for the meltdown. Greed is ever present. Those who are charged with protecting taxpayers from stuff like this need to assume there is always greed and design their programs so as to make sure greedy people do not rip off the taxpayers. For example, there are all sorts of safeguards (although not enough given the occasional scandal that we read about) to prevent people from collecting money from social security that they are not entitled to. Why? Because we know greedy people will do that if they are not stopped.

Which candidate is best to preside over corrective action on the economy and reform of the bad practices that caused this?

Probably McCain, but both he and Obama are jokes as far as being president of the U.S. is concerned. I would not be surprised if neither McCain nor Obama has ever reconciled his own checking account. In the world of high finance, these guys are babes in the woods. I doubt they even knew the definitions of the various finance terms in the media stories about the crisis until they got briefed. They are also both demagogues who will sell us all down the river via more government programs and spending, more pork (McCain doesn’t request it, but he votes for it), protectionism, scapegoating Wall Street and capitalism, socializing previously private businesses, and more.

What does McCain know about money other than marrying it?

What does Obama know about money other than how to get it from the publisher of your failed-when-it-was-first-published autobiography by getting a speaking gig at the 2004 Democrat Convention?

Neither of these guys has ever run a business or even worked for one. Except for a brief stint as his father-in-law’s celebrity P.O.W. greeter, McCain has always been a government employee or the son of a government employee. McCain was literally born into the federal government. (His father was an admiral.)

Obama’s qualifications to run the world’s largest, most advanced economy

Obama’s checkered resume lists a never-discussed year at Business International Corporation in NYC (editing two international business periodicals right after he graduated from college My book How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book has a chapter about editors in which I complain strenuously about wet-behind-the-ears brand-new college grads ineptly editing my real estate investment articles when I was 30 years old.) and apparently three years at the New York Public Interest Research Group (a proclaimedly “non-partisan” organization that seems only interested in liberal stuff).

He was a Catholic Church community organizer for three years in Chicago then went to law school. After that, he got a fellowship at the University of Chicago and spent most of his time writing his autobiography, which flopped after it was published in 1996. It later became a best seller after he made a speech at the 2004 Democrat convention and the book was re-issued. He then worked on registering black voters. He was a part-time lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years. In that “publish or perish” profession, he published exactly nothing in his field. He was associated with a law firm that was involved in black voting rights and local economic development but let his license to practice law lapse in 2002. Barack Obama has less experience in business and finance than the vast majority of people reading this article.

The recurring theme in his life is impressing various white mentors and supporters who then let him play the eternal dilettante writing books and/or endlessly campaigning rather than ever working at the job he’s being paid for like the rest of us.

It appears he has spent his adult life just fiddling around a few hours a day. He took five years to write his first book: Dreams From my Father. I have written 81 books. It takes about nine months part-time to write a full-length book, not five years. He must have been doing a lot of sleeping late, knocking off early, and sipping white wine to need five years to write a book, especially an autobiography where he did not have to do any research or interviews.

If you want a president who has some competence in the current economic crisis, write in Mike Bloomberg’s name. Absent some huge surprise, we will probably get either Obama or McCain, neither of whom is qualified to run any aspect of the federal executive branch other than McCain might be knowledgeable about working with Congress. (Many think McCain is qualified to be Commander in Chief of the U.S. military. No, he’s not. He was a light attack bomber pilot and P.O.W., not a general. With a refresher course, he is qualified to be Executive Officer of a light plane squadron. He’s better qualified by far to be CIC than Obama and the other non-Wes Clark candidates, but not adequately qualified.) Obama draws a paycheck from the Senate but probably knows less about the Senate than the DC area teachers who take their classes there for tours. Both candidates are especially unfit to be involved in economic policy.

Being ignorant of the various functions of the executive branch means that they will have to rely heavily on expert advisers, but it also means that they each know so little that they have no way to tell which advisers are best. Instead, they will determine which adviser to listen to according to the “bedside manner” of that person. Economists and capital markets experts will push Obama or McCain around on financial issues. Generals and admirals will also push both around although less so with McCain. Diplomatic service veterans and foreign leaders will push Obama around on foreign policy. Congressional leaders will push him around on working with Congress. McCain will be pushed around less, but that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing when he resists their pushing. He is more likely to reject expert advice, but no more likely than Obama to make the right decision. Fundamentally, neither man will know what he is doing as president. It will be on-the-job training for both.

Senate experience is nothing but jaw-flapping experience—plus a way to learn how the Senate works for Biden and McCain. Obama doesn’t know how to find the men’s room in the Senate. The presidency is an executive position. Sarah Palin is the only one of the four candidates with executive experience and her executive experience would not be enough to get her past the first interview if the job were awarded like important executive positions usually are.

These guys also have political advisers and will let them trump the substance advisers every time.

Media and Democrat sensationalism

Both the media and the Democrats have disgraced themselves in this crisis by pushing sensational accounts of dire problems. Fox News’ Shepherd Smith is fond of using the words “economy” and “subprime” interchangeably. The economy is Coca Cola and your dry cleaner and the teachers at your local Catholic schools. It’s true that lots of subprime mortgages are in default—actually just 6% of U.S. home mortgages are currently in default. But it is not true that the economy and the subprime mortgages are the same thing.

Smith also likes to tell you how many trillions of dollars of 401(k)s were wiped out by various one-day movements in the Dow. But when the Dow went up over 900 points on 10/13/08, did Smith note how many trillions that added to 401(k)s? Nope. Why? Probably because he and the rest are about ratings, not truth. The proper fact to report is the percentage by which the Dow went up and down, not talk about dollar amounts without explaining how many people worldwide own those stocks. Smith and others say the percentages, too. They should only do that. The dollar figure is extremely misleading and alarming to those not knowledgeable enough to ignore it and focus on the percentage.

The media is also fond of graphs that do not have zero as the bottom of the vertical scale on the left side of the graph. Rather they put the recent high of the Dow or S&P 500 or whatever at the top left of the graph and the current figure at the bottom left of the vertical scale. That dishonestly makes all drops look like 100% drops. If they used graphs with zero as the bottom of the vertical scale, you would get a proper perspective on the meaning of the movement of the index. On the first day of the crisis, the San Francisco Chronicle had a front page graph that dropped from the top of the page to the bottom of the above-the-fold part of the front page. It was a 2% drop.

Both the media and the Democrats want or almost want a Depression because it would be good for ratings and getting votes. That’s why they are trying to talk the nation into believing we are having one. Unfortunately, with Depressions, that can be a self-fulfilling prophesy. FDR famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” His phraseology suggests that fear itself is no big deal. In depressions, fear itself is the only necessary ingredient and can trump all other facts. Democrats and the media are throwing as much gasoline as they can on the fear fire to give themselves more power.

Democrat Senator Schumer is fairly accused of having deliberately started a run on Indybank that led to that bank’s failure. Democrat majority leader Harry Reid said that a huge household name insurer he refused to name was about to go out of business. All huge, household name insurers then had to issue news releases swearing it was not them.

Obama’s solution

One of Obama’s solutions is to pronounce a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures. Excuse me. That is immunity from having to pay your mortgage payment for the most dishonest, irresponsible homeowners in America—at the expense of the bank shareholders, other mortgage lenders including individuals who invest in mortgages, and the taxpayers who guarantee deposits used to make mortgage loans.

McCain’s solution

McCain would forgive the amount of mortgage debt that exceeds the current market value of a house whose owner is behind on their payments. He would also lower the mortgage interest rate to 5%. Who gets stuck with that loss? The taxpayers.

In other words, those who were so dishonest and irresponsible that they borrowed more than they could afford to pay, then did not pay their mortgage payments, get a gift of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt forgiveness. They also get a 5% mortgage. That rate is lower than people who paid their mortgages on time can get.

People who do not pay their mortgages should have to move out and let the lender sell the house to a real buyer who can qualify for a mortgage. Most of those in default should probably be locked up, not rewarded with taxpayer’s money for felony fraud.

The “solutions” of both candidates are pure political bullshit. Neither cares about anything but getting past the election with a majority of electoral votes. No legality. No fairness. No justice. No sensible finance. Just vote counting and posturing.

The correct solution is to do nothing and let the lenders foreclose. If any lenders are too big to fail or too interrelated to fail or any of that, the federal government should make them a loan, but not otherwise get involved.

What should we do as individuals?

Most discussion of the crisis is from a macroeconomic perspective. That would be useful for the king of the world. However, there is no such person. And even if there was, you and I aren’t him.

I think a big part of the problem is that our citizens are ignorant of economics, markets, free enterprise, and business. Furthermore, our college students have long been the targets of socialist indoctrination by America’s college professors and to a lesser extent by our public school union teachers. In the public schools, the problem is less socialist indoctrination than just plain lousy education and ignorance. But this has allowed us to evolve into a situation where when there is a speed bump in free markets, like gas price increases or falling stock market indexes, our citizens want free markets replaced with government-run markets. “Government-run markets” is a contradiction in terms. Cuba has such a system. We will be far worse off if we go that way and we seem to be doing just that.

But other than complaining about it, what can you and I do?

As individuals, we need to just deal with the world and the nation the way it is. Complaining about the way it ought to be or used to be is a waste of time.

Leaving the country

When George W. Bush was reelected in 2004, one of my son’s college classmate friends was so disgusted that he left the country. Where did he go? He joined the Peace Corps. I thought that was funny because the Peace Corps is a federal government agency of the executive branch. Like all federal government agencies, the Peace Corps’ ultimate boss is the President. George W. Bush’s portrait is in every federal government office including those in the Peace Corps.

My point here is, don’t get nutty and leave the country for a general unhappiness with election results. Am I saying that no one should leave the U.S. over economic issues? Not necessarily. It used to be that the U.S. was the country most committed to free enterprise. That may not be so if Obama is elected. It may not even be so already. My father-in-law lived most of his adult life as an expatriate American living overseas. Many do that. It is a fairly common and reasonable way to live your life.

Depending upon the specifics of your skills and goals, it is possible that you may be better off living and working in a country with a greater commitment to free enterprise than the current or Obama-ized U.S. That could be a greater general commitment or just a particular niche that is better overseas than in the U.S. I have known some guys who have spent their adult lives living in the Middle East where they have a lot of oil money to spend and need Western expertise for many of the new businesses they now want.

Study the changes, take appropriate action

If you stay, as most probably should, you need to look at the changed rules in the U.S. Also at the changed market aside from government laws and rules. In recessions and depressions, overall business volume shrinks. For most commissioned or self-employed persons, that means their income goes down. Many salary or wage employees see their income drop 100% because they get laid off.

But some people—those who work in countercyclical industries—see an increase in income. An example of a countercyclical industry would be foreclosure specialists like auctioneers, asset managers of foreclosed properties, foreclosure lawyers, regulators who work in the new bailout-created agencies. There are also new industries or ways of doing things that arise and prosper during recessions and depressions, not because there is a recession or depression, but just because they are good businesses with great products or services and relatively little competition.

Stuff got invented during the Depression, including baby food, nylon, TV, and photocopiers. There were new hit songs, dances, and clothing fashions during the Depression. All sorts of new ways to do business came into being during the 30s. Some were government-supported like deposit insurance for banks and 30-year, fixed-rate, low-down-payment home mortgages. Others were pure market-based like the rise of shopping centers, increased ownership of cars, people moving from farms to the metro areas and people moving from urban areas to the suburbs.

Basically, economic opportunities decline during recessions and depressions. But they also change. If you are adversely affected by a recession or depression, you need to change yourself. Study the new market and take the action you need to capitalize on the new opportunities. That action may be moving to a new part of the U.S. or the world. It may be getting new knowledge or training that qualifies you for more attractive opportunities. My Succeeding book is big on the importance of the structure of your career. If you have been a salaried employee your whole life, and get laid off, maybe you should try a new structure like commissioned sales or your own business. My book is also big on achieving an optimal match between your strengths and weaknesses and your career. Most people never do that in their whole lives. It is always the best approach and important but it becomes far more important during hard times.

There are also economic shifts as people become more bargain conscious. Campbell’s Soup stock goes up. Ruth’s Chris goes down. Costco and Wal-Mart go up; Nordstrom’s down. More fuel-efficient cars go up; SUVs go down. And so on.

Many people got rich during the Depression because of the Depression. Many other became rich during the Depression in spite of the Depression. The fact that there is less overall opportunity does not mean there are not many attractive niche opportunities. If we get hard economic times, your focus needs to be on finding a better economic situation for you and your family. Do so with confidence that the opportunities are there. Whining about the demise of the late lamented economic good times like the lyrics in the Depression song Brother can you spare a dime is not helpful. Find a way to win, not excuses for losing.

The BEST article I have seen on why the meltdown happened is this one by Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, and other books.: http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom.

Here is an op-ed piece written for the New York Times by Warren Buffet, one of the top three richest men in the world. I agree with it. Normally, I do not publish others’ writing. But in this case, I believe he wants these thoughts distributed as widely as possible. The piece may also be at the New York Times Web site. It was sent to me in an email.

Op-Ed Contributor

Buy American. I Am.

By WARREN E. BUFFETT

Omaha

THE financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So … I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.

Why?

A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

Let me be clear on one point: I can’t predict the short-term movements of the stock market. I haven’t the faintest idea as to whether stocks will be higher or lower a month — or a year — from now. What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

A little history here: During the Depression, the Dow hit its low, 41, on July 8, 1932. Economic conditions, though, kept deteriorating until Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. By that time, the market had already advanced 30 percent. Or think back to the early days of World War II, when things were going badly for the United States in Europe and the Pacific. The market hit bottom in April 1942, well before Allied fortunes turned. Again, in the early 1980s, the time to buy stocks was when inflation raged and the economy was in the tank. In short, bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price.

Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

You might think it would have been impossible for an investor to lose money during a century marked by such an extraordinary gain. But some investors did. The hapless ones bought stocks only when they felt comfort in doing so and then proceeded to sell when the headlines made them queasy.

Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

I don’t like to opine on the stock market, and again I emphasize that I have no idea what the market will do in the short term. Nevertheless, I’ll follow the lead of a restaurant that opened in an empty bank building and then advertised: “Put your mouth where your money was.” Today my money and my mouth both say equities.

Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company

To be continued

Jeremiah A. Wright and Barack Obama

The Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. was Barack Obama’s pastor for 20 years before he retired. The church is Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. With 10,000 members, it is the largest congregation of any United Church of Christ in the U.S.

The church is described as an African-American church by Wikipedia and it certainly appears to be almost exclusively for blacks in videos of the congregation. With regard to the church’s racial orientation, the “About us” page of the church’s Web site says

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian… Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

On March 17, 2008, Obama defiantly refused to quit the church. That means we can restate the above “About us” declaration as an “About me” declaration by Obama thus,

[I am] Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian… [My] roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. [I am] an African [man], and remain "true to [my father’s] native land [Kenya, but but not to my mother’s native land, the United States of America]," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended [my] pilgrimage through the days of slavery [except since my father was a Kenyan, none of my ancestors was ever a slave], the days of segregation [which neither I nor any of my ancestors experienced], and the long night of racism. It is God who gives [me] the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a [black]. [I] constantly affirm [my] trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

It is the right of any American to feel this way, but these are disqualifying views for a presidential candidate. For example, the phrase, “I am an African man and remain true to my father’s native land of Kenya,” directly contradicts the presidential oath of office:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The very idea of a church catering to a particular race is racist. The fact that there are many black churches does not change that. I am not aware of any white churches—other than Nazi or other white supremacists ones—and if there are any other churches that have few or no blacks members, I would assume they are unhappy and embarrassed about it and trying to change it.

Church is supposed to be about God. Indeed, the IRS is reportedly considering revoking the tax-exempt status of this and other churches of all colors who violate the legal definition of a non-profit organization by getting involved in politics.

Anti-white, anti-U.S. speeches by Wright

Wright has made a number of crude, profane, melodramatic, theatrical Southern-dialect-complete-with-bad-grammar, nutty, belligerent speeches that included wild accusations about racism in America, e.g., the U.S. government creating the AIDs virus to perpetrate genocide against blacks.

Not reverent

The reverend is not very reverent. He said that “Bill Clinton did us blacks like he did Monica Lewinksy.” He also said Clinton was “ridin’ dirty.” The Reverend is apparently referring to the former President’s repeatedly availing himself of Ms. Lewinsky’s fellatio services.

Wright claims to have a doctorate degree. Indeed he does from the United Theological Seminary near Dayton OH. In case you are wondering—as I was—United Theological Seminary is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Ohio Board of Regents.

Wright also has a bachelors degree and a masters degree in English from Howard University (an accredited black school in DC) and another masters degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Wright was born and raised in Philadelphia. I was born and raised in the NJ suburbs of Philadelphia.

Talk like a grade-school dropout from Mississippi

So why does a guy from Philadelphia with degrees from universities in DC, Chicago, and OH, including a masters in English for God’s sake, talk like a grade-school dropout from Mississippi? Apparently because the vocabulary, grammar (or lack thereof), and pronunciation of Mississippi grade-school dropouts is the official linguistic affectation of America’s black “leaders.”

In my article on Obama, I noted that he, too, has adopted that affectation—using phrases like “I been here befoh” in a speech at Selma, AL last year and saying “You all” in other speeches more recently. Obama was born and raised in Hawaii and Jakarta, Indonesia and went to college at Occidental (Pasadena, CA), Columbia (Manhattan), and Harvard Law School (Cambridge, MA) and has chosen Chicago as his political base.

Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. not only made a point of getting a doctorate degree (albeit in part by committting plagiarism in his dissertation), he also made a point of speaking like an educated man. I surmise he did that because he was trying to overcome the Uncle Remus, Stepin Fetchit, Kingfish stereotype of ignorant blacks. It is probably safe to assume that he would be appalled by black men with doctorates and Harvard Law degrees like Wright and Obama pandering to ignorant voters and congregation members by talking like the worst stereotypes of ignorant blacks.

Wright’s congregation

The only thing more disturbing than Wright’s words and demeanor in his anti-American sermons, are the behavior, words, and demeanor of the people in the video background in his congregation. They appear to be experiencing orgasms of pleasure as a result of his outrageous accusations. They wail and shout and leap to their feet and, in one scene, ran up to touch him. Another scene seemed to show a woman giving the Nazi salute. Obama has been called a rock star. In that church, Wright’s congregation’s response to Wright makes Obama look like a rock star piker when you compare his audiences’ response to him.

‘Guilt by association’

Predictably, liberal apologists for Obama like Alan Colmes and the New York Times have tried to spin unhappiness with Obama’s long association with Wright as mere “guilt by association.” That is an intellectually-dishonest debate tactic I call “sloganeering.”

Criminal guilt is not the issue

The phrase “guilt by association” also attempts to distract the listener red herring style by invoking a word from criminal justice principles. Under U.S. criminal law, we believe, “It is better to let nine guilty men free than to convict one innocent man.” The standard of proof in U.S. criminal trials is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

I have a news flash for Colmes and the other Obama apologists: the U.S. presidential election campaign is not a criminal trial.

We are considering whom to elect to the most important job in the world, the most important job in history. An accused criminal may be presumed innocent until he is convicted by a criminal court, but a presidential candidate is not presumed president until convicted in a criminal court. We do not believe that it is better to elect nine individuals with poor judgment regarding associates president than to reject one good-judgment presidential candidate. Americans have a higher standard for their presidential candidates, namely, they must not only avoid impropriety. They must avoid the appearance of impropriety. Criminal trial guilt is a far higher standard than the appearance of impropriety and is a ridiculous standard to apply to such a profoundly important position.

Association

Is who a presidential candidate associates himself with relevant to whether he should be “President of the United States of America” to use the phrase Obama is so fond of? Suppose a candidate associated with Mafia members. Suppose he associated with drug dealers. Suppose he associated with prostitutes. Suppose he associated with foreign spies. Would we dismiss such associations as mere “guilt by association?”

Of course not. Rather, we would look at whom he is associating with, why he associated with him, how close the association was, and how long he associated with him. There is also the what did Obama know about Reverend Wright and when did he know it question. Finally, when he knew it, what did Obama DO about it?

The answer to the last question is he bobbed, he weaved, he shilly-shallied, he avoided, he soft-pedaled, he minimized, he let others speak for him. Clearly, Senator Barack Obama does not want to say or do anything with regard to Wright at all if he can avoid it. By behaving thus, Obama shows that he is black first and American second and that is a disqualifying characteristic when it comes to the office of “President of the United States of America.” Black first and American second is the description of a candidate for president of the NAACP. If Hillary were a woman first and American second, she should run for president of NOW. (I loathe her but I must say that she has not behaved like a woman first, American second. She has criticized and fired women who deserved it and some who didn‘t.)

As has been reported widely in the press, Obama’s association with Wright goes back 20 years, includes being married by Wright, having Wright baptize his children, and crediting Wright as an inspiration and mentor in his book Audacity of Hope, the title of which Obama said came from a sermon by Wright. Obama appears not only to have associated with Wright. By his own admission, Wright has had a long-running powerful influence on Obama. He calls Wright an “inspiration and mentor.” It sounds like Wright is the father Obama never knew. Obama’s recent attempts to dismiss Wright as a crazy “old uncle” are both dishonest and disloyal.

NPR and Fox News analyst Juan Williams did an excellent job dissecting Obama’s spin attempts on the 3/13/08 O’Reilly Factor. Williams, who is black, said Obama joined Wright’s church when he came to Chicago as a way to jump start his political career, which he apparently assumed would never go beyond representing a black Chicago district in Congress. One assumes that Obama ended up there after studying Michael Barone’s Almanac of American Politics to find the Congressional District where he was most likely to win office. Obama did run for Congress there and lost. In other words, Obama’s moving to that part of Chicago and joining Wright’s church seems to be a cynical ploy to quickly get black street cred and black authenticity and to replace, in the minds of black Chicago voters, Obama’s white mother, foreign father, and totally white upbringing.

If Obama wins the presidential election, his main activity from election day until some time after inauguration will be picking his associates for his administration. There is a book that comes out every election year called the Plum Book. According to the Government Printing Office, “the Plum Book lists over 7,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment,” You can see the 2004 version at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/plumbook/2004/index.html. So while Obama apologists are swearing associates do not matter, come the day after the election, associates will be about all that matters for several months with regard to the new President. We have to wonder what job the Reverend Wright was in line for before his inflammatory sermons were broadcast. Secretary of HUD? Secretary of Education?

Wright was on an Obama campaign committee

The Politico Web site says Wright was a member of Obama’s African American Religious Leadership Committee…

The Obama campaign couldn’t immediately say whether he’d remain on the committee.

Why not? Why does Obama even have a committee with the phrase “African American” in its name? I can understand a health insurance committee, a national defense committee, an energy committee, but not a committee named after a race.

If Obama considers removing Wright from the committee a tough decision, what is going to happen when the red phone rings?

Obama had originally intended to have Wright introduce him for his announcement that he was running for president. He scotched that plan when a February 2007 Rolling Stone article described a speech in which Wright complained about racism. Obama claimed that his reason for eliminating Wright from the presidential announcement was to avoid harm to Wright’s church. May I see a show of hands of those who believe that? Me neither.

The New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/15/us/politics/15wright.html>  reports:

In the interview last spring, Mr. Wright expressed frustration at the breach in [his] relationship with Mr. Obama, saying the candidate had already privately said that he might need to distance himself from his pastor.

With regard to judging Obama on his associations, there is not just one bad choice association with Wright. There are at least three, the others being Wright’s association with Louis Farrakhan, whose “Million Man March” Obama attended, and Obama’s unrelated association with former radical activists William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn and Obama’s “association” with his wife who appears to be Jeremiah Wright Lite. So another question that arises is how many associations with anti-Americans can this would-be “President of the United States of America” have before we can legitimately question his judgment and his true views on the country he wants to lead.

‘Controversial’

Obama and his apologists are, in part, trying to soft-pedal Wright’s sermons by calling them merely “controversial.” The word “controversial” implies that some people like the statements and others do not and leaves open the question who whether the statements may have merit. “Controversial” my ass. They are wrong. If Obama can’t see that, he is not fit to be a scout leader, let alone a president.

Equivalent to Geraldine Ferraro’s statement

Another Democrat spin is that Obama’s association with Wright is no more than Geraldine Ferraro’s statement that he would not be where he is now if he were not black (which is correct—for one thing he would have won fewer votes and delegates because of losing the increased black turnout and 90% black vote for him—he also would have lost all the whites who are eager to vote for a black to show their lack of racism). Democrats have also equated Obama’s association with Wright to endorsement of McCain by two nutty white ministers, and Billy Graham’s taped anti-Semitic comments in the Nixon Oval Office 37 years ago.

Good luck with that. Ferraro, a hero of the Democrat party for being the first female major party vice-presidential candidate in 1988 and for her life-long service to the party, is now persona non grata in that party because of white Democrat fear of the slightest hint of anything that could be construed to be racism by the most ignorant, illogical, chip-on-the-shoulder, looking-for-trouble black. McCain could have been a little more forceful in denouncing the kooks who endorsed him, but he had no relationship with them. Everyone denounced Graham’s comments including Graham himself.

‘Smear campaign’

Another Democrat spin being put on criticism of Obama’s association with Wright is that it is a “smear campaign.” That is an intellectually-dishonest debate tactic known as “name calling.” The other variation on name-calling that we can expect is for anyone criticizing Wright to be labeled as racist. The latter tactic seems to work great when it comes to silencing politically-correct critics, but I suspect it reaps the whirlwind in the voting booth where Americans cannot be intimidated.

The issue is not whether anyone is “smearing” Wright or Obama but whether the statements made by Wright are truthful and, given that they are not, why Obama would continue to associate with and praise Wright after he became aware of them. The character and judgment of a presidential candidate are legitimate topics of inquiry by the media and voters and legitimate subjects for criticism by those who think Obama is not the best candidate.

Farrakhan

In 2007, Trumpet Magazine, which is published and edited by Wright’s daughter, presented the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award to Louis Farrakhan. The award announcement said he, “truly epitomized greatness.” Wright said Farrakhan “[w]as one of the 20th and 21st century giants of the African American religious experience” and praised Farrakhan’s “integrity and honesty.” Wright went to Libya with Farrakhan in the 1980s. Last year, Wright said, “When [Obama’s] enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli to visit Colonel Gadaffi with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.”

Is the Reverend relishing this prediction? Sounds like it. With friends like these, Obama doesn’t need any enemies. Obama is Willie Hortoning himself by parsing words in his denunciation of Wright.

Our associations

I have associated with two guys in my life who later did bad stuff. One guy changed and when he did, I immediately admonished him that he was going the wrong direction. When it became apparent that he was determined to go that way, I publicly disassociated myself from him. The other guy liked to break rules for the sake of breaking rules—like John McCain’s self description actually. As soon as I saw that, I admonished him that it was not a good idea. When he called me up one day to ask me to break a rule for him, I ended my association with him. He later went to prison.

If my wife and I somehow ended up in a church service where the pastor said anything remotely resembling what Wright said, we would listen to about 20 seconds worth of it, exchange married couple glances that said, “We’re out of here,” and leave.

Think about your own associations. Have you ever associated with anyone like Wright or Farrakhan or Ayers? What did you do when you realized what they were about? I’ll bet it wasn’t continue associating with them for twenty years and naming them to an official position in your organization and writing a book that used their words as the title.

Out of context

Obama accuses critics of cherry picking Wright quotes out of context and ignoring Wright’s good work. But then Obama does the exact same thing: disassociating himself only with selected statements or “I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.” Obama seems to be saying, ‘I disassociate myself from the comments that Wright made that you white people are upset about, but not one smidgeon more. And I am doing this in spite of the fact that there is nothing wrong with what Wright said, it’s just that you white people are oversensitive.”

Gee! What statements were those, Barack? He rejects “the statements” but will not say which statements he rejects. Furthermore, he will not says which statements the Reverend made that he accepts. He is afraid of losing the support of the many who support Wright—both in the Chicago congregation and around the U.S.

You gotta pick a side, Barack. At the moment, you are the Michael Jackson of politics trying to play both sides of the black-white race game. I’ll bet the two of you passed in opposite directions—him on the way to his face whitening or nose job and you on the way to your classes on how to speak like a Southern black. Like Michael Jackson, you are trying to have your race both ways. When you seek white votes, you are post-racial guy whose color is irrelevant. When you seek black votes, you are a poor grammar spouting, Jeremiah Wright embracing, black-separatist-church-joining brother who uses the phrase “our people.” And you complain about racism like would-be white man Michael Jackson whenever it suits you. In the words of comedian Robin Williams to Jackson during his child abuse trial, “You can’t complain about racism until you pick a race, honey.”

Are you with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his supporters, or with the 90% of the American people who think Wright hates America? You’re trying to stand on both sides. That’s not an option when the sides in question are so diametrically opposed as Jeremiah is to whites.

Jeremiah Wright, Jeremiah Wright’s congregation, Michelle Obama, and the various people who are appearing on TV to “defend” Obama and Wright are digging the hole deeper and deeper. Instead of helping Obama distance himself from Wright, they seem to replicate Wright delivering their own angry speeches against whites. Invited to defend Obama, they instead defend Wright, making the whole situation worse for Obama. They may be unwittingly destroying the most successful black presidential candidate in history, a man they desperately want to become president. If Barack and Michelle Obama cannot see that they need to renounce Wright immediately, unequivocally, and comprehensively, they are too dumb to be President and First Lady.

Wright’s victory tour

After hiding for a time after the firestorm hit, Wright has now emerged and gone on a “victory” tour speaking to various packed house audiences who adore him. Asked about Wright’s recent comments, Obama looked stricken and could manage nothing more than a statement that Wright is entitled to say whatever he wants. Yeah, Barack, we already knew that. Thanks for stating the obvious and defeating an argument that no one has made (that Wright is obligated to remain silent).

With friends like Wright, Obama doesn’t need any enemies.

Wright has gone out of his way to dis Obama. He mocked Obama’s calling him his “spiritual mentor,” making fun of the phrase in a childlike taunt as if “spiritual” referred to ghosts. I would not have thought that a career pastor would find the word “spiritual” so foreign and inappropriate to the sentiment Obama was expressing. As I said elsewhere in this article, Obama seems to have latched onto Wright as the father he never had. Barack Obama Sr. abandoned Obama, Jr. and his mother at age two. (According to Time magazine, Obama, Sr. impregnated four different women and abandoned all of them and the resulting children.) Now, Obama’s adopted father—Jeremiah Wright—is going on national TV and mocking Obama’s referring to him as “my spiritual mentor.” In other words, Obama has been rejected—harshly—by both his biological and his adopted fathers, and softly, by his mom who left him in Hawaii while she went back to Indonesia as a single woman when Obama, Jr. was 11 to 18 years old. Rough. And there doesn’t seem to be much indication that his Indonesian step-father was much interested in him either. Obama’s biological parents and step-father are all now dead.

With fathers and “spiritual mentors” like these, Obama doesn’t need any enemies.

‘Politician’

Wright also dismissed Obama as a “politician” who says whatever he needs to in order to get votes, implying that Obama is lying about denouncing some of Wright’s statements.

Wright also depicted himself as much higher on the moral food chain—a pastor—who answers to a “higher authority.” Actually, I believe the word from believers is that we all have to answer to that same higher authority, not just pastors. Furthermore, while pastors are generally more honest than the average person, the Reverend Wright is a shameless, bad liar as the many videos of his sermons starkly reveal. Politicians lie, too, but they usually have a more difficult audience to convince than the morons who attend Wright’s church.

‘Criticism of me is criticism of the black church’

Wright also invoked the now familiar game of black race hustlers: alleging that anyone who criticizes them is racist. Years ago, one heard that often about Jews and Israel. That is, if you criticized some Jews or Israel, you were instantly labeled as anti-Semitic. I have heard neither the anti-semitic accusation nor the complaint that it was leveled unfairly in recent years—except in rare cases like Louis Farrakhan saying Judaism is a gutter religion or Jesse Jackson referring to New York City as Hymietown. Those comments were anti-Semitic.

But many blacks and liberal whites are still playing the anyone-who-criticizes-a-black-is-racist game—as if we haven’t figured it out. Actually, you don’t even have to criticize a black anymore, just mentioning a black in a sentence that criticizes anyone get you labeled a racist. Rush Limbaugh got fired from Monday Night Football for saying that sports writers were accentuating the positive and de-emphasizing the negative regarding the on-field performance of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb because they wanted a black quarterback to succeed. Limbaugh was not criticizing McNabb. His position was that McNabb was good, just overrated, a common sportscaster sentiment about various athletes. Rather, Limbaugh was criticizing sports writers, mostly white. But he got fired by white empty suits who were intimidated by the racist accusation, no matter how baseless. I suspect we are not very far from a Saturday Night Live skit making fun of those who attack all critics of blacks as racist no matter how egregious the behavior of the black person being criticized.

An education on lots of blacks

This has been an education for me and I suspect a lot of non-black Americans. Apparently, huge numbers of blacks are in love with victimhood—so much so that they cling to ancient grievances and imagined recent ones to keep victimhood alive.

Black after black appears on TV and gets asked about Wright’s comments. Other than some commentators, black after black defends Wright, tells us about Tuskeegee, talks about the 60s civil rights movement as if it were still ongoing and needed. They absolutely refuse to denounce Wright’s comments vaguely claiming that many feel that way or that we have a long way to go or that blacks are being mistreated everywhere in America every day.

I said to one black guy who wrote me that the civil rights movement has long been in what the military calls a “mopping up operation.” He agreed, but I sense that lots of blacks, maybe a majority, want to believe that the civil rights movement was not victorious 40 years ago, that the race war still rages. They won’t take yes for an answer on emancipation and intergration and color blind decisions about people. As I said in my article on blacks and whites, our response should be to stand, hands on hips, weary of the continuing bullshit victim act, and say ,“How about you guys let us know when you are ready to admit this ended long ago and get on with normal life.”

Media coverage

I made an effort to watch many different channels with regard to the Wright issue. PBS’ Washington Week in Review totally ignored it. CNN, covered it but the comments seemed extremely understated and inclined to give Obama the benefit of every doubt until investigative journalists dig up whether Obama was lying when he said he had no idea Wright had these views until 3/13/08. I did not find the CNN commenters credible when they said they were going to wait for additional evidence before concluding Obama knew anything. They just seemed afraid to say the obvious.

Even Cooper Anderson or Anderson Cooper (Gloria Vanderbilt couldn’t afford to give the guy a first name?) seemed highly skeptical that Obama could not know about these extremely strongly stated views of Wright’s. Fox’s talking heads were very aggressive wondering if this would destroy Obama. Hannity called for Obama to resign from the Senate which I thought went well beyond the evidence.

Many black callers to talk shows seem not to understand what the fuss is about. That’s disturbing. Are all blacks talking like this when whites are not around? Is Obama one of those who does that?

I suspect he will now lose some black votes for his disloyalty to Wright and the black victimhood cause. I also suspect he will lose many white and young people votes on the grounds that he seems conflicted about extreme views that those voters do not come anywhere close to sharing—and indecisive and bewildered—an inexperienced pol who is amazingly slow to learn that you cannot straddle every fence. He is also losing votes on the basic issue of whether he is ready to handle the most difficult job in the world. He doesn’t even look ready to handle a single wacko associate. So much for charisma, rock star, change, and hope.

More ‘out of context’

Another tactic the Democrats are trying out is claiming that video of Wright’s incendiary sermons are taken “out of context.” That is another intellectually dishonest debate tactic that I wrote about in my article on intellectually dishonest debate tactics. Here is what I said before I ever heard of Jeremiah Wright.

20 Accusation of taking a quote out of context: debater accuses opponent of taking a quote that makes the debater look bad out of context. All quotes are taken out of context—for two reasons: quoting the entire context would take too long and federal copyright law allows quotes but not reproduction of the entire text. Taking a quote out of context is only wrong when the lack of the context misrepresents the author’s position. The classic example would be the movie review that says, “This movie is the best best example of a waste of film I have ever seen,” then gets quoted as “This movie is the best…I’ve ever seen.” Any debater who claims a quote misrepresents the author’s position must cite the one or more additional quotes from the same work that supply the missing context and thereby reveal the true meaning of the author, a meaning which is very different from the meaning conveyed by the original quote that they complained about. Merely pointing out that the quote is not the entire text proves nothing. Indeed, if a search of the rest of the work reveals no additional quotes that show the original quote was misleading, the accusation itself is dishonest.

Furthermore, those who claim a quote was taken out of context need to point to other statements in the context that directly refute and relate to the statement objected to. They cannot point to character-witness type statements and claim those refute the accusation that the speaker said and believed the offending remarks. For example, if Adolf Hitler said, “I will build the Autobahn, the world’s first limited access highway system, and I will kill all the Jews,” you cannot say that leaving out the Autobahn part is taking the Jew-killing statement “out of context.” The Autobahn (world’s first limited-access highway) portion of the statement does not refute or even relate to the Jew-killing one. It just shows that Hitler multi-tasked. No one criticizing Hitler’s evil statements feels an obligation to give him credit for the Autobahn in every discussion.

Wright’s supporters claim that he has made hundreds of speeches and that the media cannot show any parts of them unless they show all of them. As they well know, that is not going to happen. Furthermore, the media who are running the clips have not claimed they present a comprehensive biographical portrait of Jeremiah Wright. There is no interest in such a biography.

The issue is that one could not find comparable clips from the pastors of most Americans or of prominent politicians like President George W. Bush or Senator Dianne Feinstein or Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

‘Sound bites’

A minor variation of the out-of-context tactic is calling videos of Wright “snippets” or “sound bites.” As everyone knows, electronic media are forced to use brief video and audio tapes of newsworthy events in order to fit their tight time slots. Some media, like NPR and PBS TV Lehrer Report, do fewer, longer segments. But as I said, that meant PBS’s Washington Week in Review ignored the Wright story. And also, PBS has lousy ratings. So demands that electronic media stop using sound bites and use longer video or audio clips are simply false choices.

Ultimately, the media use sound bites because they know their viewers will change channels if they use longer segments. It is not the media that choose sound bites. It is viewers. Indeed, the very people who complain about sound bites are the same ones who will switch channels if someone shows longer, less interesting audios or videos.

A while ago, the top Obama story was about his use of the phrase “Just words” to explain his lack of actions to point to to prove his fitness for president. Now, his supporters are now trying to have that both ways. Now they say Wright’s sermons are just words and ask us to judge him by other things that he done like his various actions on behalf of others.

So which is it? Words matter, or they don’t? If they matter, as Obama said in his “Just words” speech, then they matter when Jeremiah wright says them, too.

Caricature

Another spin that the democrats are trying to use is that the videos of Wright are caricatures. That is totally invalid.

According to Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, a caricature is

the deliberately distorted picturing or imitating of a person, literary style, etc. by exaggerating features or mannerisms for satirical effect; a bad likeness; poor imitation; something so distorted, ugly or inferior as to seem a ludicrous imitation

By definition, a caricature is created by one person about another. Political cartoons are caricatures in the form of a cartoon that exaggerates whatever the cartoonist wants to exaggerate about the target’s views and personal appearance. Saturday Night Live actors also draw live video caricatures of politicians by portraying them in ways that exaggerate characteristics of the politicians regarding how they look, dress, speak, or their positions on various issues.

While the videos of Wright certainly meet the definition words of exaggeration, ugly, ludicrous, neither he nor his supports can fairly claim it as caricature because he did it to himself! If what he says and does in those clips is “distorted, a bad likeness, a poor imitation,” he has no one to blame but himself. If it is a caricature, he caricatured himself and he needs to come forward and say himself that he does not believe what he said, that he was just kidding, and explain why he did it.

‘Move on’

Yet another Democrat tactic (they need a lot of them when they are really screwed as is the case with this incident) is to respond to questions with the order, “Move on.” In other words, “I refuse to answer your question because you have got me dead to rights in an indefensible situation. Therefore my best shot is to order you to change the subject bluffing that I have authority to order you around and hoping you will fall for it.”

Moveon.org is named after that tactic, which was used during the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky-Whitewater-Paula Jones-Juanita Broderick-Kathleen Willy impeachment scandal.

Obama’s on-camera response

Obama himself appeared on Fox News on 3/14/08 in a too-brief interview with Major Garrett. His answers and explanations were tortured. It reminded me of a guy who was asked what the preacher talked about in his Sunday sermon. “Sin,” the man said. “What did he say about sin?” “He was agin it.”

I know Obama was talking about Reverend Wright. But as far as how he feels about Reverend Wright, I’m not sure. It’s clear he wishes Wright had not been videotaped saying those things. Beyond that, I can’t tell whether he is for Wright or “agin” him.

On CNN, Obama seemed to say that he was unaware of what Wright’s views were until 3/13/08. He did not say that he was “shocked, shocked” to learn this, à la Casablanca’s Captain Renault. In fact, Obama forgot to look surprised at all when he said this was the first he heard that Wright held these views.

Obama is also very fond of his “like a crazy old uncle” dismissal of Wright. None of his allies are using that, but he has used it at least three times. Rush Limbaugh pointed out that the analogy is invalid because you can’t pick your relatives but you can pick your pastor. You tolerate the old uncle saying crazy things because he is your relative and you cannot change that. But you do not have to tolerate such behavior from non-relatives and no responsible person does tolerate it.

Also, it would appear that Wright’s dismissing Obama as a politician and mocking his calling Wright his “spiritual mentor” are Obama’s “crazy old uncle” chickens coming home to roost, if you’ll pardon the expression. Or to use another Wrightism, he and Obama are ridin’ each other dirty. (Gee, this is fun. I can understand why Wright looks so gleeful doing it.)

Obama’s denunciation of Wright on 4/29/08

Finally, on 4/29/08, Obama threw Wright under the train, as he had previously done with his “typical white person” and apparently still living grandmother.

Obama claimed he took the action he did on 4/29/08 because Wright “amplified” his prior remarks. No, Wright didn’t. He just repeated them. If anything, Wright actually toned them down a little. For example, he screamed “The government lied about creating the AIDS virus to kill blacks!” in the original sermon. At the National Press Club, he changed it to the “U.S. government is capable of doing stuff like that as evidenced by the Tuskeegee incident.” [Emphasis added] Big difference.

Obama did not throw Wright under the train because of any change or “amplification” by Wright. Rather, he threw Wright under the train because, as Wright alleged, Obama is just a politician who will say whatever he needs to to get elected. Obama took the 4/29/08 action because of the persistence of Wright’s effect on the campaign and on the voters and polls.

The salient impression I got from Obama’s 20-year association, and 4/29/08 dissociation with Wright is that Obama is weak. He associated with Wright all those years because his ultimate political ambition was to represent the district where Wright is a leader in Congress. He knew Wright was wrong, but he went along to get along. That’s unethical, immoral, and dishonest. But as many would say, that’s politics. If he had strength of character, he would have walked away from Wright the first time Wright lied or encouraged anti-white or anti-American feelings.

Then, to his surprise, Obama, got picked to speak at the 2004 Democrat national convention, and was a big hit. He realized that he had the potential to win higher office, like U.S. Senator, not from the 70% black First District of Illinois, but from the entire, mostly white state of Illinois.

At that point, an intelligent and decisive person would have realized that the alliances and associations built in the South Side of Chicago ghetto with the likes of Wright and Farrakhan and Ayers needed to be quietly dismanteled.

Once he realized Wright was a bad guy, and that the white public was going to find out about it, he should have decisively and unequivocally separated himself from Wright. He did not because he is not strong, not decisive, and is relatively inexperienced at the mixture of chronic lying and occasional changes of position that are required of politicians.

If Obama gets elected, and the phone rings at 3AM, it appears that Obama will respond weakly and indecisively and only months later finally realize that he has to change a prior position.

Obama is too afraid of looking inconsistent. Sometimes, changing your mind is the best course of action and when it is, just do it. Don’t weasel around about it for months while the entire population of the U.S. is wondering why you cannot see the need to make the change.

Obama is also too afraid of losing his racist black base. His foolish reluctance to separate from Wright was primarily caused by his fear of reaction among black voters. As I have said repeatedly, he is black first and American second and that disqualifies him from being president.

Refused to quit the church

On 3/17/08 I heard a clip where Obama defiantly refuse to quit the church—a course of action that TV reporter Juan Williams said Obama should immediately take.

Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Report TV show on Fox News made a good point. He said that Obama chose a church where Obama’s own mother would feel unwelcome. Indeed, and I would add that his white grandparents who actually raised him while his mother stayed in Indonesia would also feel quite unwelcome at the church. Obama spoke fondly of his white grandmother in his first book Dreams from my Father. I talked about Obama’s near denial of his white mother and upbringing and attempts to pass as a black in a separate article. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley is black.

Another black, author and radio talk show host Larry Elder said the whites who voted for Obama in Idaho, Iowa, and all the other states would also feel unwelcome in Obama’s church.

I assume that Obama’s 4/29/08 speech breaking relations with Wright also means he will terminate his membership in Wright’s church. True, Wright is retiring and has been replaced by a younger pastor, but that guy has gone out of his way to show the world that he is on Wright’s side, which is to say the wrong side.

What will Wright do now? Ask a child psychologist. One would expect a child who is getting attention from misbehaving to continue to do so and even escalate the misbehavior to get even more attention.

Obama’s speech and Shelby Steele’s opinion article

The big event on 3/18/08 was supposed to be Obama’s speech on race. In that speech, Obama stupidly continued to try to have it both ways: to remain a member in good standing of the Trinity United Church of Christ and to remain the favorite candidate of white Democrats.

He admitted he lied previously when he claimed he had never heard Wright say any of the incendiary things. Not that he said, “I lied.” He’s a lying politician. They do not admit to lying in a straightforward manner. Rather, he simply changed his story and hoped no one would notice. Nice try. Now, he admits he has heard Wright say “controversial” and “incendiary” or “angry” things. Hey, Barack, you’re leaving out the fact that he said things that were false, irrelevant, ignorant, profane, crude, wrong, unChristian, and outrageous, not just “controversial” and “angry.”

The moral equivalence spin

He tried to attack white people in general by saying that his grandmother—“a typical white person”—once said she was afraid of groups of blacks that were walking toward her on the street. I once heard Jesse Jackson say that he was chagrined that, if he heard footsteps behind him on the sidewalk at night, he would be relieved if he looked back and they were white. He blamed it on general racism against blacks making them feel alienated or some such. I have also seen surveys that said both blacks and whites were more afraid of blacks than whites.

Barack Obama is just another lying politician—and one who does even less homework than the typical lying politician to prevent getting caught lying. He and his wife and daughters would probably be more inclined to cross the street to avoid a group of black teenagers than a group of white ones. Why? The incidence of crime by blacks is significantly greater than the incidence of crime by whites. (By the way, I do not believe that was the case when I was a kid in the 50s and early 60s and we would not have crossed the street to get away from an oncoming group of blacks back then. The situation seems to have been changed by militant black organizations like the Black Panthers and evidenced by black race riots in the late 60s and 70s.) The comments by Obama’s grandmother and Jesse Jackson are simple logic, based on tons of hard evidence.

‘Stop the loop?’

After the speech, Obama’s aides all wanted to know if the speech would result in the press stopping “The loop,” that is, the repeated playing and replaying of Wright’s outrageous remarks.

Apparently not. It’s now in Republican campaign ads, too, even against white Democrat politicians who have endorsed Obama. But it’s also probably too late. Americans have “The Loop” memorized by now. Plus, it will only stop it temporarily. Hillary and McCain claim they are above using The Loop against Obama. They were thrilled to have the cable news channels and talk radio play it. Now they are unhappy about it being stopped, but they cannot say so. However, while Hillary and McCain claim to be above using The Loop, Hillary is also above losing the nomination and McCain is also above losing the election. If they think they need to do so to win, they will themselves play The Loop again when it appears they may lose if they do not.

How did Obama end The Loop for now? He uses a similar tactic to Bill Clinton—seeming to be a plaintive, small child. Clinton did it by biting his lip and using a tremulous child’s voice. Obama does it with wide-eyed innocence and a quiet, halting way of speaking like a fearful child. Neither came out and whined, “Mommy, they’re picking on me” in those words, but both “say” it with the timber of their voices and body language whenever they get caught doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. Once they turn themselves into a picked-upon small child, their critics are made to look like bullies and have to stop.

In fact, the more worthwhile use of your time would be to read Shelby Steele’s same day Wall Street Journal opinion article. The article is brilliant. Steele is black and an expert in race relations, American social culture, and identity politics at the Hoover Institution.

Bargainers and challengers

Steele says that prominent blacks fall into two categories:

• bargainers (Obama, Oprah, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and I presume Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice)

• challengers (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright)

He also says some, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, fall into a third category, who ignore their race and behave as individuals. Seems to me that’s the only way any of them should act.

Bargainers, according to Steele, tacitly agree not to say “shame on you” and embarrass whites about slavery and segregation in return for white support of the individual in question.

One personal comment. I am not interested in that bargain. My Irish ancestors came to Boston in the late 19th century. They owned no slaves and I am sure they were too busy fighting discrimination against Irish to be guilty of that which Obama and Oprah would absolve me of if I vote for him or watch her. My German ancestors immigrated to the Northeast portion of America in the early 20th century. They owned no slaves while they were losing their home to foreclosure in the Depression. My West Virginia ancestors, as I explain elsewhere in this article, seceded from Virginia and fought with the Union in the Civil War because they refused to support Virginia’s slavery. And my Cherokee great great grandmother Emmaline sure as hell did not own any slaves. Plus, I am not my ancestors. Neither are any other living whites. In other words, you can shove your white guilt.

Playing on white guilt

Steele says Obama is playing the bargainer race game for all it’s worth and his lead in the Democrat nominating process stems directly from his success at letting whites absolve themselves of guilt by voting for him, from letting blacks declare an end to their inferiority as a result of Obama’s success, and from press fear of getting in the way of either of those events. Steele says,

…in the end, Barack Obama’s candidacy is not qualitatively different from Al Sharpton’s or Jesse Jackson’s. Like these more irascible of his forbears, Mr. Obama’s run at the presidency is based more on the manipulation of white guilt than on substance.

‘A mediocrity’

Politically, Steele says Obama’s actions since college reveal that he is a “mediocrity.” There are no accomplishments in either his record as a legislator or his time as a black community organizer or black civil rights attorney. His sole skill seems to be making a good impression on whites.

Steele says Obama’s positions on issues are all but identical to Hillary’s and that he refuses to explain how he will unite us or how he will accomplish any of the other campaign promises any more than he has accomplished anything else in his life thus far.

Obama himself, in a moment of probably ill-advised (for a politician) candor, said,

I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views…

Empty

Indeed. That’s why he says nothing but platitudes like “hope” and “change” and “the future.” That’s why people call him an “empty vessel.” (I said “empty suit” was more like it.)

But one of the other rules of politics is that if you fail to define yourself to the public, your opponents will do it for you—to your detriment.

Empty vessel or empty suit, Barack Obama, the former cipher, is now being filled and defined—not by his opponents, but by his friends. Turns out, he ain’t from da hood. And he ain’t no Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice either. Yet he persists in trying to be Colin X or Condoleeza Sharpton—Dr. Jekyl when he campaigns and Mr. Hyde when he goes to church.

Obama still does not know who he is

Where is the great judgment he claims his early opposition to the Iraq war reveals? There is no way to reconcile what normal Americans expect him to be and what the congregation at Trinity United Church of Christ expects him to be. He has to do what he refuses to do: choose one or the other. Otherwise, he will be carrying the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on his back for the rest of the campaign.

Obama has often said that he had an identity crisis stemming from his Kenyan father and white mother and white upbringing. He used it to justify his cocaine use. The problem is that he seems never to have been able to resolve it and is still in its grip at age 46. He chose to be black—an option not really open to him considering that his mother was white—and appears to have chosen joining a “hate-filled, Anti-American black nationalist” church—to use Steele’s words—to do penance for having a white mother and to exorcise her offensive DNA from his soul. Steele says,

[Obama] was driven by insecurity, by a need to “be black” despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity.

Black columnist Thomas Sowell said Obama’s membership in the TUCC was an example of the converted trying to be “more Catholic than the Pope” or in this case, blacker than thou.

Jeremiah Wright famously said,

Not God bless America! No! No! No! God Damn America!

By joining and remaining in this church, and by bringing his 25% white daughters to this church throughout their lives, Obama seems to saying, “And God damn my white ancestors and the white blood in my body and in the bodies of my daughters.”

Steele ends with,

[Obama’] public persona thrives on manipulation of whites (bargaining), and his private sense of racial identity demands both self-betrayal and duplicity. His is the story of a man who flew so high, yet neglected to become himself.

Is Obama, in effect, a newcomer to America?

After watching several days of coverage of the reaction of Obama and his supporters to the Wright controversy, I conclude, as the various talk show hosts seem to, that Obama and his backers just don’t understand the impact this has had on whites, Asians, Latinos, and other non-black Americans. Why would that be?

They react to questions about the controversy as if they were recent arrivals from a foreign country and they were expecting the American people to react to this story the way people in their previous country would react.

What country is that? Isolated poor black communities around America. Communities where people talk like Reverend Wright every day, communities where the black citizens have little or no contact with non-black people on a day-to-day basis.

Roughly speaking, Barack Obama is a guy who spent two thirds of his childhood in Hawaii and one-third in Indonesia. Since then, he has spent seven years of his life either in college at Occidental (Pasadena) or Columbia (Manhattan) or at Harvard Law School (Cambridge, MA) and 22 years in a poor black community in the South Side of Chicago.

Obama’s church is in the First Congressional District of Illinois. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress there. Here are some excerpts from Michael Barone’s Almanac of American Politics about that district [my comments in red]:

The South Side of Chicago has been the nation’s largest urban black community for nearly a century now. [That supports my suspicion that the politically ambitious Obama chose that place to move to, after college, because it looked like a place where he could get elected as a black in spite of never having any connection with the area.] …this ghetto…headquarters of the Nation of Islam and home to its leader Louis Farrakhan…[current Congressman Bobby Rush]…became…[a member of] the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, then went AWOL [from the Army] and founded the Illinois Black Panther Party where he recruited Fred Hampton who was later killed in a police raid. Rush served six months in prison for illegal possession of firearms…“I don’t repudiate any of my involvement in the Panther Party…” His son was murdered by a man wielding a handgun as he returned to his South Side home…Rush defeated Barack Obama for the Congressional seat in 2000. In that election, President Clinton endorsed Rush. The district was 70% black in 2002.

Rush was a pastor in that district.

Wikipedia says that the 1st District of Illinois has the highest percentage of blacks of any Congressional District in the U.S.

Barack Obama did not just live in this community. He went there to have a political career. His bio says he was a black community organizer and civil rights lawyer. It sounds like what he really was was just a wannabe politician laying the groundwork for his runs for Congress and State Senate. He was straining every day to become this community’s favorite son and its representative in every sense of the word. Blacker than black.

If a tourist came here from a foreign country to see what America was like and spent his whole five-day vacation in Illinois’s 1st Congressional District, I suspect most Americans would say that would give them an extremely distorted view of America. Barack Obama did not spend five days there. He spent 22 years and he was not a tourist, He was trying to convince the locals he was one of them. To do that, you must love and ingratiate yourself with their local “warlord” or “Imam” Jeremiah Wright

It appears that the 1st District of Illinois is essentially a foreign country. If so, Barack Obama has not lived in the United States since he was in high school in 1977.

Obama is ‘Donnie Brasco

“Donnie Brasco” is the fake name FBI agent Joseph Pistone adopted as part of his efforts to infiltrate the New York City Bonano crime family. That true story was chronicled in the movie title Donnie Brasco. He was a college graduate, former Office of Naval of Intelligence employee who became an FBI special agent. To infiltrate the mob, he had to go native, learning to talk like them (e.g., “fuhgeddaboutit”), act like them (slapped his real wife around once because of an inability to get out of character when he went to see her), and live among them.

To infiltrate the Trinity United Church of Christ congregation, white boy Barry Obama from Honolulu and the Ivy League had to go native, learning to talk like them (e.g., “I been here befoh, you all”), act like them (give no sign he had any objection to the minister spewing hate about his maternal ancestors and the paternal ancestors of his daughters), and live among them. After 22 years of that, he has become one of them, meaning the black community in the South Side of Chicago, and stopped being a mainstream American. That’s why he is oblivious to how the Reverend Wright’s behavior is so unacceptable to mainstream America and why he refuses to disown Wright and the community that loves Wright.

Politically, Obama has turned himself into guy who could go no higher than Congressman from the First District of Illinois. Not president of the U.S. Not even U.S. Senator from the state of Illinois. Against a decent opponent, which he did not have when he won his U.S. Senate seat, Obama would not be able to win a statewide election because of his now revealed “black first and American second” world view.

Brasco and Obama had slightly different goals. Brasco had to win the Bonano Family trust so he could gather evidence about their crimes to present in court. Obama had to win the trust of the people in the Trinity United Church of Christ so he would get their votes and endorsements to launch his political career. Both men had to conceal their true motives for ingratiating themselves into the group and their true identities.

Daughters

Many in the media have expressed consternation at Obama’s willingness to let his daughters listen to Wright’s sermons, and that was without remembering that Obama’s daughters are 25% white. Pistone/Brasco had a wife and kids, too, but he left them out of his undercover work. Since Mafia guys also try not to involve their wives and kids in the business, he had no trouble explaining why his wife and kids were not there. But once you accept Obama’s goal, leaving the wife and kids out of his infiltration was not an option. The congregation would have figured out quickly that they were good enough to vote for Obama, but not to be around his wife and children. The kids had to be there in the church every Sunday to advance Barack Obama political ambitions.

I am less worried about what they heard on Sundays than about their safety and education during the week. Remember this is a Congressional district where the Congressman who defeated Obama saw his own son murdered. Where does Obama send his daughters to school? God forbid it’s Chicago’s public schools, but sending them to an expensive private school would separate him from the congregation.

Trash talker

Another thought I had watching Wright gyrate and dance and gesticulate and gleefully mug as if he is having the time of his life: he reminds me of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They taunt the United States and President Bush like school children to attract attention to themselves and to pander to a dumbest common denominator group of people in their community. All three of them strive for the most outrageous things they can think of: Chávez’s saying he could still smell the sulfur at the UN lectern where Bush had spoken the previous day, Ahmadininejad holding a conference to deny the Holocaust, and Wright changing the words of God Bless America to “God Damn America!” The networks and cable stations have had every type of analyst imaginable discuss Wright, but not the one they really need: a child psychologist.

Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, famously told Chávez to “shut up” at the Ibero-American Summit in Chile on 11/10/07. The problem with Wright is there is no one of Juan Carlos’s stature or character in the black community—not in Chicago, not nationwide, and certainly not Barack Obama, to tell Wright the same thing that Juan Carlos very appropriately said to Chávez.

Ancient or imaginary

It is noteworthy that all of Wright’s grievances against the “rich white people who rule America” are either ancient (e.g., slavery which ended 143 years ago) or imaginary (e.g., the U.S. government is giving drugs to blacks). In fact, if that’s all that blacks can complain about, their lives must be darned good. A similar conclusion could be drawn from their actions as opposed to their words. They hate living in a country ruled by rich white people, but apparently not as much as they hate living in one of the many countries ruled by poor black people (e.g., Haiti, Nigeria), as evidenced by the fact that they are still here.

Thomas Sowell’s column

Since the Wright story broke, I have been looking forward to columnist Thomas Sowell’s take on Wright. His column runs in the Friday edition of my local paper and the one on Wright was in the 3/21/08 edition.

Either great minds run in the same channel or Sowell has been reading this article by me. He used three of the same quotes I did: “What did he know and when did he know it?,” “shocked shocked,” and Shelby Steele’s statement that Obama “neglected to become himself.” Sowell and Steele are both fellows at the Hoover Institute at Stanford.

Is it just me?

Is it just me, or does the Reverend Wright seem to long for the “good old days” of legal discrimination against blacks and legal segregation of the races?

Is it just me, or did Reverend Wright seem to be thrilled to death that white U.S. Public Health Service doctors unethically pretended to treat 399 black men who had contracted syphilis, thereby allowing them to suffer tumors, heart disease, paralysis, blindness, insanity, and death, just so they could study the autopsies?

Is it just me, or did the Reverend Wright seem unhappy that more blacks did not die in the attack on Pearl Harbor, which he accused the government of knowing about in advance?

Is it just me, or did the Reverend Wright seem sorry that America has not suffered more 9/11s since 9/11?

Is it just me, or did the Reverend Wright seem to wish that his government really did invent AIDS to kill all blacks?

I don’t think the guy is about anything Christian. He is about self-righteously bitching and moaning about injustice by whites against blacks and he clearly wishes there were more injustices and more recent injustices for him to complain about. He is opposed to “rich white people” doing the right things, as they did with the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and, in his mind if not mind, affirmative action. Reverend Wright and his congregation get off on white injustice toward them—real or imagined, ancient or current. He wishes “rich white people” would do more unjust things toward blacks because he is in the complaining business and injustice toward blacks is good for his business.

In shameless hypocrite fashion, Wright is moving into a $1.9 million mansion built for him by the poor people in his congregation in a gated suburb of Chicago. Who else lives there? “Rich white people” make up 98% of the gated community’s residents. His final sermon could have been just, “See ya, suckers.”

I don’t know why Obama is getting all worked up about Wright’s looped “snippets.” They’re just words.

Here is a pertinent quote from historic black hero Booker T. Washington:

"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs." —Booker T. Washington

I appreciate informed, well-thought-out constructive criticism and suggestions.

John T. Reed