Ambisinistrous

On Monday, Nancy Pelosi infamously blamed “right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation” for the financial pickle in which we find ourselves.

Well, here are Pelosi’s forces of “right-wing ideology.”

Apparently she’s talking about Democrats, and she can’t tell sinister from dexter. She’s equally clumsy on both sides.

Mona Charon points out that it’s as if nothing Democrats said in the past counts.

Now you could make the case that before 2008, well-intentioned people were simply unaware of what their agitation on behalf of non-credit-worthy borrowers could lead to. But now? With the whole financial world and possibly the world economy trembling and cracking like a cement building in an earthquake, Democrats continue to try to fund their friends at ACORN? And, unashamed, they then trot out to the TV cameras to declare “the party is over” for Wall Street (Nancy Pelosi)? The party should be over for the Democrats who brought us to this pass. If Obama wins, it means hiring an arsonist to fight a fire.

Well, as things have unfolded I don’t actually think you can make a case that these Democrats were well-intentioned. Half of them got sweetheart loans from Angelo Mozilo. Most of them got big campaign money from Fannie and Freddy. None of them were interested in talking about accounting practices that would have made Enron blush. They passed laws to force private enterprise to make bad loans, set up government run enterprises to “finance” those loans, and then refused to consider the possibility that anything could go wrong with that. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed bad paper at the instruction of these Democrats.

Thomas Sowell notes the essential fault: government manipulation of the market. Bailout Politics

If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free market institutions they could not have gotten away with their risky financial practices because no one would have bought their securities without the implicit assumption that the politicians would bail them out.

It would be better if no such government-supported enterprises had been created in the first place and mortgages were in fact left to the free market. This bailout creates the expectation of future bailouts.

Jeff Jacoby: Frank’s fingerprints are all over the financial fiasco

Barney Frank’s talking points notwithstanding, mortgage lenders didn’t wake up one fine day deciding to junk long-held standards of creditworthiness in order to make ill-advised loans to unqualified borrowers. It would be closer to the truth to say they woke up to find the government twisting their arms and demanding that they do so – or else.

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and “redlining” because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.” Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this “subprime” lending by authorizing ever more “flexible” criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

All this was justified as a means of increasing homeownership among minorities and the poor. Affirmative-action policies trumped sound business practices. A manual issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston advised mortgage lenders to disregard financial common sense. “Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor,” the Fed’s guidelines instructed. Lenders were directed to accept welfare payments and unemployment benefits as “valid income sources” to qualify for a mortgage. Failure to comply could mean a lawsuit.

We got where we are because of Democrats. Getting out of it is going to be hard. John Berlau: Doing Something?

So a substantial indirect effect of the bailout will be higher prices for food and gasoline, and this will probably hit ordinary households sooner than many politicians expect. When speculators expect the dollar to fall or be volatile, they immediately try to hedge an unstable currency through buying commodity futures. Thus, last week saw a big spike in oil prices, which had been steadily declining over the last few months. Other commodities, notably gold, also shot up. Corn and wheat prices, already boosted because of ethanol mandates, will also likely shoot up in response to a falling dollar. An article in Stocks, Futures and Options Magazine entitled “New Rules in the Commodity Game” notes that the dollar is now a stronger day-to-day factor in corn futures trading than even weather conditions.

On top of this inflation, the bill might even worsen the very credit contraction it is trying to stop. This is because of its effects on financial firms that have to follow mark-to-market accounting rules. As I wrote earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal, the credit “contagion” has been spread in large part by these rules, adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission and bank regulators in the last few years, and subject to a big expansion last November with Financial Accounting Standard 157.

Because the mark-to-market rules require writedowns of even performing loans based on the last sale of similar assets, good banks holding mortgages that haven’t been impaired often have to adjust their books based on another bank’s sale — even if they plan to hold their loans to maturity. And because the rules are tied to solvency requirements from the government’s bank regulators, banks lose “regulatory capital,” even if the loss is only on paper. Thus, in the scramble to conserve capital, financial firms have less money to lend.

But the bailout — in addition to putting taxpayers on the hook and massively increasing government’s role in the economy — would likely make mark-to-market and hence the credit crisis worse, according to experts who have reviewed Paulson’s plan. Paulson proposes a “reverse auction” approach by which government would choose a selling price to buy a financial firm’s mortgage-backed securities. But unless mark-to-market rules were changed, this sale would force other firms to write down their assets to this price, which could further constrain the amount of money they can lend.

An Associated Press story paraphrases American Enterprise Institute scholar Vincent Reinhart, a former Federal Reserve monetary affairs director, as saying that “if the auctions set too low a price for mortgage-related assets, other institutions with bad debt may be forced to take the distressed valuation onto their books under mark-to-market accounting rules.” Similarly a Washington Post story by financial reporter Neil Irwin says that the purchase could force more regional banks to write their assets down. Thus, regional banks as well as big banks will be subject to credit constraints.

As of today, some accounts say the bills will include authority for the SEC to suspend mark-to-market. But the SEC and the banking agencies already have the authority to suspend it and use any accounting rules they wish. Since they have been resistant to doing so thus far, even in the midst of this crisis, putting in what amounts to at best Congressional “wishes” will likely not move these agencies. The only way Congress could make a meaningful change would be to require this suspension of rules, and lawmakers do not seem willing to do that yet.

Note, the “mark-to-market” rule was deregulated yesterday.

Finally, getting government out of getting out of this mess seems like a good idea. Jeffrey A. Miron: Commentary: Bankruptcy, not bailout, is the right answer

This bailout was a terrible idea. Here’s why.

The current mess would never have occurred in the absence of ill-conceived federal policies. [Regulations!] The federal government chartered Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970; these two mortgage lending institutions are at the center of the crisis. The government implicitly promised these institutions that it would make good on their debts, so Fannie and Freddie took on huge amounts of excessive risk.

Worse, beginning in 1977 and even more in the 1990s and the early part of this century, Congress pushed mortgage lenders and Fannie/Freddie to expand subprime lending. The industry was happy to oblige, given the implicit promise of federal backing, and subprime lending soared.

This subprime lending was more than a minor relaxation of existing credit guidelines. This lending was a wholesale abandonment of reasonable lending practices in which borrowers with poor credit characteristics got mortgages they were ill-equipped to handle.

Once housing prices declined and economic conditions worsened, defaults and delinquencies soared, leaving the industry holding large amounts of severely depreciated mortgage assets.

The fact that government bears such a huge responsibility for the current mess means any response should eliminate the conditions that created this situation in the first place, not attempt to fix bad government with more government.

The obvious alternative to a bailout is letting troubled financial institutions declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy means that shareholders typically get wiped out and the creditors own the company.

Bankruptcy does not mean the company disappears; it is just owned by someone new (as has occurred with several airlines). Bankruptcy punishes those who took excessive risks while preserving those aspects of a businesses that remain profitable.

In contrast, a bailout transfers enormous wealth from taxpayers to those who knowingly engaged in risky subprime lending. Thus, the bailout encourages companies to take large, imprudent risks and count on getting bailed out by government. This “moral hazard” generates enormous distortions in an economy’s allocation of its financial resources.

Thoughtful advocates of the bailout might concede this perspective, but they argue that a bailout is necessary to prevent economic collapse. According to this view, lenders are not making loans, even for worthy projects, because they cannot get capital. This view has a grain of truth; if the bailout does not occur, more bankruptcies are possible and credit conditions may worsen for a time.

Talk of Armageddon, however, is ridiculous scare-mongering. If financial institutions cannot make productive loans, a profit opportunity exists for someone else. This might not happen instantly, but it will happen.

Further, the current credit freeze is likely due to Wall Street’s hope of a bailout; bankers will not sell their lousy assets for 20 cents on the dollar if the government might pay 30, 50, or 80 cents.

Today, the Senate takes up a slightly tweaked version of the bailout. Frankly, it’s hard to see that passage of this bill will be better in the long term. But, since Obama is likely to be our next President and since the pain of a decades long government experiment in market manipulation won’t be over for a long while no matter what; we’re going to see more socialist intervention in the economy anyway. I don’t think it much matters whether we have a bailout or not. The damage will take as long to undo as it did to set up.

So, advice for Sarah Palin and John McCain:

1-Don’t accept the Democrat premise that we have free-market evil, “failure to regulate,” and degenerate into a me-too populist hissy-fit, as John McCain has already done. This was a failure to regulate government – not a failure of government regulation. It’s preponderantly the Democrats who have demonstrated failure in the first case. Unable to learn or be accountable, they will provide way too much in the second.

When “blame capitalism” frenzy seizes the Democrats, forcefully point out that it is precisely regulation that got us into this mess – mainly the Community Reinvestment Act requiring banks make bad loans or be fined, added to the cozy collusion with Fannie and Freddy of Democrats like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Be prepared to quote them extensively.

Further, make note that Angelo Mozilo and his ilk were not practicing capitalism, but were rent seeking corporatist welfare queens. Don’t fail to point out that their government sponsored analogs, Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines were even worse.

Be prepared to say Bear-Stearns, Lehman and AIG should have been allowed to fail – except maybe since the government led them into failure we should fix it and never get into such a position again. If we had had a free market, they never would have taken on the risk they did. They thought it was mitigated by F&F.

If Katy Couric wants to know what other regulation John McCain has suggested (aside from reining in F&F) to stop this “corporate greed,” tell her that’s the wrong question. The question is, “What will government do to reform itself after causing this abject failure?” In this case, I know McCain has actually made his own campaign theme difficult to execute by jumping on the bandwagon of “Wall Street Greed” (which is true, but irrelevant), but Sarah Palin could distinguish herself in debate by rejecting McCain’s goof and going after the statists who caused the problem.

Deregulation is – rescinding rules forcing banks to make bad loans. Deregulation is – never having set up Fannie and Freddy in the first place because of how statists will always prevert such entities. (Setting up F&F was regulation.)

2-While we’re on advice, stop letting the Dems get away with talking about a “tax-cut” for 95% of Americans. Ask Obama what a tax cut for 95% of Americans actually means. Two-thirds Correction Forty-one percent of Americans don’t even PAY taxes. Obama has to conflate welfare with tax-cuts to even make the claim. Ask him how much of an income tax refund should reasonably be given to people who haven’t paid any income tax. What is being refunded? He’ll natter about sales tax. Tell him that’s a problem for the States and covered under the 10th Amendment.

3-Palin especially should have this ready: If Biden says in tomorrow’s debate, as Obama did Friday, that the US has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves, call him on it. We have far more. We don’t know exactly how much more because the Democrats have prohibited offshore exploration studies for decades. Even so, ask Biden how much oil there is in either Colorado shale or in the Bakken Formation compared to Saudi Arabia. That oil isn’t even counted in US “reserves.” Mention his confusion on clean coal while you’re at it.

ACORN Obama Axis Update

Further thoughts and links.

ACORN is a “community organizer” master-reseller whose “downstream” contractors are regularly convicted for voter fraud. The fraud is habitual and formulaic, not accidental and creative. ACORN engages otherwise hard-to-employ individuals to register cartoon characters, dogs and dead people as voters.

ACORN is at least as good as Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition at using the race card to shake down businesses (Banks, in ACORN’s victim-industry niche.) for cash and to force loans to be made to people who can’t pay the money back. The Chicago based inventor of this tactic, ACORN executive Madeline Talbott, calls it “affirmative action” for loans. I’d call it predatory thuggery perpetrated on both borrower and lender.

All this is well known. So is it fair to connect any of this to Barack Obama? If you think the company a man keeps over decades, for whom he expresses great fondness and to whom he substantially contributes money is a connection, then the answer must be “Yes.”

I’m not saying Obama directly participated in ACORN’s protection rackets or voter fraud. I am saying he knows about it (how could he not?), and therefore tolerates it. I’m saying he shares ACORN’s radical socialist philosophy. I’m pointing out that he worked for ACORN and funded ACORN. I’m contending the attempt to use the bailout bill to funnel money to ACORN was no coincidence, nor was a similar provision in the $300 billion mortgage bailout bill passed in July.

I’m giving the evidence that Obama’s campaign paid $800,000 to Citizens Services Inc., an ACORN captive corporation, between Feb and May 2008 – and grossly misrepresented the purpose of the payments in the FEC filing. I’m saying Obama wanted to hide the ACORN connection.

Since Obama has argued that his executive experience is proven by the fact that he runs the campaign, an $800K decision can’t be blamed on staff.

FEC reports show that from February-May 2008, Obama paid $832,598.29 to CSI.

The payments were for:

$310,441.20 25-FEB-08 STAGING, SOUND, LIGHTING
$160,689.40 27-FEB-08 STAGING, SOUND, LIGHTING
$98,451.20 29-FEB-08 TRAVEL/LODGING
$74,578.01 13-MAR-08 STAGING, SOUND, LIGHTING
$18,417.00 28-MAR-08 POLLING
$18,633.60 29-APR-08 STAGING, SOUND, LIGHTING
$63,000.00 29-APR-08 ADVANCE WORK
$105.84 02-MAY-08 LICENSE FEES
$105.84 02-MAY-08 LICENSE FEES
$75,000.00 17-MAY-08 ADVANCE WORK
$13,176.20 17-MAY-08 PER DIEM

Interesting services and payments for a nonprofit that supposedly does simple canvassing work on behalf of low-income people. And now, the Obama campaign is going to wave its magic wand and change those services to get-out-the-vote work? What the…?

For your information: The New Orleans building that houses CSI also houses multiple chapters of ACORN and the SEIU– as well as the 527 group Communities Voting Together.

And for your information: A tipster points to shady business by CSI -detected by Maryland Democrat Al Wynn, of all people. His team, which filed an FEC complaint over the matter, linked several suspicious outfits used by his primary opponent to one address: 1024 Elysian Fields in New Orleans. That’s the address of CSI and ACORN.

…There is at least one other example of suspiciously large payments to Citizens Services, Inc. that call into question what kind of work this non-partisan, non-profit is doing.

See here, where liberal group Ohio Citizen Action notes a $907,808 payment to Citizens Services for canvassing and $590,526.10 for “campaign consulting.”

I’m saying Obama knows about this:

Another pre-2007 ACORN document instructs its staff:

Undocumented income is a feature that allows ACORN Housing counselors to capture the applicant(s) total household income. Primarily observed in minority and immigrant communities, this type of income is not reported to the IRS and is also known as under-the-table.

… and is OK with it.

I’m saying that the presence among his advisers of Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, both disgraced CEO’s of Fannie Mae, who both got multi-million dollar golden parachutes, is at least bad judgment and very likely continued political collusion. Fannie was a prime conduit between people who took loans they couldn’t pay and the likes of Bear-Stearns. Fannie worked hand in glove with ACORN. Obama still works hand in glove with Fannie’s detritus. Jim Johnson was head of his VP search committee until the Fannie connection surfaced.

If someone will argue that a politician raised up by the hard-left Chicago machine, of which ACORN is an integral part, is not aware of these connections; that person might also have to grant that the politician couldn’t possibly be considered for any higher office than Drain Commissioner.

Documentation and more info at the sites below.

Newsmax

I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work. — Barack Obama, Speech to ACORN, November 2007

NY Post

ACORN’s political arm endorsed Obama in February and has ramped up efforts to register voters across the country. Meanwhile, completely ignored by the mainstream commentariat and clean-election crusaders, the Obama campaign has admitted failing to report $800,000 in campaign payments to ACORN. They were disguised as payments to a front group called “Citizen Services, Inc.” for “advance work.”

Jim Terry, an official of the Consumer Rights League, a watchdog group that monitors ACORN, noted: “ACORN has a long and sordid history of employing convoluted Enron-style accounting to illegally use taxpayer funds for their own political gain. Now it looks like ACORN is using the same type of convoluted accounting scheme for Obama’s political gain.”

NY Post

… Obama spent many years cultivating ties with, working with – and even funding – the very folks who pushed for the risky lending that underlies the current mess.

That is, “community organizer” groups like ACORN.

ACORN is especially noteworthy, not only because of its prominence in the drive to relax mortgage requirements, but also because of its shady tactics.

And its links to Obama.

Various ACORN chapters across the country, led by folks like Chicago’s Madeline Talbott, staged in-your-face protests in bank lobbies and filed complaints meant to hold up mergers sought by targeted banking firms.

Unless the banks agreed to ACORN’s terms – which many (understandably) did.

Talbott & Co. generally wanted them to ease down-payment requirements and ignore weak credit histories. And their intimidating tactics often necessitated police action, as at a ’97 protest at Pulaski Bank & Trust in Arkansas, where activists blocked drive-through lanes.

The movement’s biggest victory, of course, came when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began buying up the riskier loans – providing fresh incentive for banks to make even more of them.

No need to recount where all that led.

Meanwhile, Obama was right there by ACORN’s side all along.

“I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career,” he told the group last November.

Indeed, in the early ’90s, Obama was recruited by Talbott herself to run training sessions for ACORN activists.

ACORN also got funding from two charities, the Woods Fund and the Joyce Foundation, when Obama served on their boards, and from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge – the radical “education reform” outfit Obama ran from ’95 to ’99.

Ironically, the group stood to be a key beneficiary of the goodies Democrats were loading into Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s rescue plan – including one demand that 20 percent of any profits the feds make from reselling mortgage securities go to fund groups like ACORN.

No Quarter USA

Obama claimed he has no ties to “a group he did some legal work for” back in 1995. Let’s look into that claim.

* In 1995, Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar balked at implementing the federal motor voter law out of concern that letting people register via postcard and blocking the state from pruning voter rolls might invite vote fraud. A young lawyer named Barak Obama, a community organizer himself, sued on behalf of ACORN and won. ACORN later invited Obama to train its staff on voter registration drives.

* In 1996 Obama ran for Illinois State Senate and ACORN became his precinct organization, identifying and turning out the vote.

* When Obama served on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago, the Fund frequently gave ACORN grants to fund its agenda and voter registration activities.

* In 2004 ACORN operates as Obama’s precinct organization in his run for the U.S. Senate.

* In 2007 ACORN’s national political arm endorsed Obama for president, and its “nonpartisan” voter registration affiliate starts registering hundreds of thousands of voters for Obama.

* Obama claims he has no ties to “a group he once did some legal work for.”

* In July 2008 the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, along with NoQuarter researchers, exposes the lie by uncovering $832,598.29 that the Obama campaign funneled through a front company called Citizens Services, Inc.

* ACORN, which receives partial taxpayer funding, used those funds to conduct solicitations for contributions to and raised over $800,000 for Obama in Philadelphia alone.

And some new evidence of fraud just in from North Carolina:

RNC rips group registering voters
Ray Gronberg
Durham Herald-Sun – Sep 20, 2008
requires registration

Durham County Board of Elections Director Mike Ashe wants state officials to check about 80 voter registration forms for possible fraud.

The forms came from a group called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The group is more commonly known by its acronym, ACORN.

…Ashe’s move this week came after elections officials discovered that ACORN workers had registered a 14-year-old, claiming the youth was born in 1989. The minimum voting age is 18.

They also knew of “less than half a dozen” people who, after receiving a formal notice from the board telling them they’d registered, got in touch with officials to say they’d never filled out a registration form, Ashe said.

In addition, election workers also noticed that ACORN-submitted registration forms so far have included up to 125 duplicate names. It appeared that ACORN registrars — who are paid and subject to a per-shift quota — were using the same names repeatedly, Ashe said.

…Ashe said the group has ignored his advice against hoarding registration forms and using highlighters to mark them. It’s given election workers up to 1,200 forms in one stack and by using highlighters has caused the elections staff “a lot of extra work.”

The more things stay the same, the more things don’t represent “change.”

See also:
Consumers Rights League
Check out James Terry’s testimony.

RottenAcorn
Check out the fraud map.

The Real ACORN
Check out The Ghost of Rathke lingers
ACORN is suing itself and Wade Rathke is still involved with ACORN.

Update: 6:23PM 1-Oct-08Stryker, Rockfeller, Detroit Schools funding story linked to ACORN consulting firm
What this portends, I do not know. But it isn’t anything positive.

Down 777? Frankly ACORN, I don’t give a damn

You want affordable housing? Well, you’re getting it. Maybe instead of extorting money from the government and banks, and converting thousands of good renters into bankrupt home “owners,” you could start your own lending company. Find your own money from now on.

The bailout failed today, and I guess that means more market uncertainty. Well, given the first Bill and the fact we’ve gone from 3 pages to 110, I can accept that. I’m on the side of the House GOP. Make it right, or don’t do it. If taking out “Golden Parachutes” was important, so is resisting the abject socialism the Democrats keep attaching.

For example, one objection from House Republicans last week was a provision to give the Housing Trust Fund 65% of 20% of any profits which might accrue from the $700 billion in bailout “loans.”

“Housing Trust Fund” is code for giving hundreds of millions to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), a major beneficiary (along with its wholly-“owned” shadow “non-profits” and fellow travelers) of grants from the fund.

ACORN already receives 40% of its funding from taxpayers, $16 million of which they spent on voter registration in 2006, committing fraud along the way. They already had a windfall in July as part of $300 billion in loan guarantees bailing Freddie and Fanny out. Along with other major earmark goodies, there was nearly $5 billion for affordable housing, financial counseling and mortgage restructuring for people and neighborhoods affected by the housing meltdown. ACORN’s housing corporation, does a large share of that work. They got paid to break it and they’re getting paid to “fix” it, in every sense of the term.

Democratic Ally Mobilizes In Housing Crunch
ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON and BRODY MULLINS
The Wall Street Journal – July 31, 2008

George Bush was embarrassed to sign the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008:” Bush signs housing bill in private, but he thought it was “the best he could get.” Frankly, I’m sure the bill defeated today wasn’t even that good.

If people actually appreciated what the GOP House members have done over the last several weeks (remember off-shore drilling?) there would be a GOP House majority elected in November.

The House and Senate Democratic drafts contain an indefensible and well-hidden provision. It would mandate that at least 20% of any profit realized from the sale of each troubled asset purchased under the Paulson plan be deposited in either the Housing Trust Fund or the Capital Magnet Fund. Only after these funds get their cut of the profits are “all amounts remaining . . . paid into the Treasury for reduction of the public debt.”

House Republicans insisted ALL the profit, if there is any, would go to pay off the public debt.

This gets more interesting when you examine ACORN’s history of fraudulent voter registration, lax accounting and hypocrisy.

Let’s take these in reverse order. ACORN is certainly a major lobbyist for Federal grants supporting bad loans, second only to insisting on living wage laws.

ACORN promotes ballot initiatives and local ordinances to force businesses to pay higher minimum wages, as they are currently doing with the minimum wage proposal in Amendment 5. In 1995, however, ACORN sued the state of California to have its employees exempted from the state minimum wage. ACORN argued that being forced to pay higher wages would mean that they would hire fewer employees — the very dilemma faced by businesses. Incredibly, ACORN stated that paying its employees a lower wage would allow them to be more sympathetic to the low- and moderate-income families they were attempting to help. ACORN argued that abiding by the state minimum wage would limit their ability to promote their agenda and would therefore be a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The trial court judge dismissed ACORN’s suits, stating, “leaving aside the latter argument’s absurdity … we find ACORN to be laboring under a fundamental misconception of constitutional law.”

In that trial, ACORN was arguing in that it be allowed to pay workers less than the minimum wage of $4.25 an hour. The “living wage” they were arguing for for other people’s employees? – $9.50. By 2003 ACORN was paying its troops $5.70 an hour (54 hour weeks @ $16,000 per annum). That takes care of hypocrisy.

As to lax accounting, ACORN went to some trouble to cover up the fact that the Dale Rathke, ACORN founder Wade Rathke’s bother, had embezzled a million dollars. That was 1999-2000. They covered it up until nailed by a whistle blower this year. Wade only resigned from ACORN in the last few months. Incredibly, Dale left only a month earlier.

Finally, let’s talk voter fraud, for which ACORN is the poster child.

Bad voter applications found

Clerks see fraudulent, duplicate forms from group
BY L.L. BRASIER
Detroit Free Press – September 14, 2008

ACORN Workers Indicted For Alleged Voter Fraud

KMBC TV, Kansas City – November 1, 2006

Felony charges filed against 7 in state’s biggest case of voter-registration fraud
By Keith Ervin
The Seattle Times – July 26, 2007

Cuyahoga board probes ACORN voter registration drive

Joe Guillen
Cleveland Plain Dealer -August 27, 2008

See also:
ACORN Again, This Time in Cuyahoga County; Shut Them Down

In November 2006, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that “Cuyahoga County has 1.05 million registered voters, which tops the number of adults in the county by 200,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.” Also in November 2006, a Cleveland TV station reported several specific instances where “votes ….. (were) cast by citizens who are dead.”

How can anyone possibly believe that ACORN was able to find another 75,000 eligible voters to register in Cuyahoga County?

NM has suspect voter registration cards (1:19 p.m.)
Las Cruces Sun-News (AP)
September 17, 2008

More voter registration workers under scrutiny
By LARRY SANDLER
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Aug. 20, 2008

Republicans, ACORN feud over suspicious voter cards
BY Marc Caputo
The Miami Herald – September 25, 2008

ACORN employees have also been charged with fraud in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

That’s only the recent history. Here‘s more:

• In November 2003, election board officials in St. Louis, MO, finished their review of ACORN gathered election registration cards. ACORN submitted 5,379 cards in this city, of which only2,013 appeared to be valid. Of these, at least 1,000 are believed to be attempts to register voters illegally.

• In Pennsylvania, Reading’s Director of Elections received numerous calls from individuals registered by ACORN complaining that those taking down the voter information deliberately put inaccurate information on the form.

• In 1998, a single mother of three in Arkansas was arrested for falsifying approximately 400 voter registration cards. Some of the addresses listed on these applications were traced to vacant lots, boarded-up buildings, abandoned buildings, and nonexistent house numbers. The woman was a contractor of Project Vote, a subsidiary of ACORN. (Project Vote was involved in the scandal that brought down Ron Carey, former president of the Teamsters. In 1996, Carey arranged for a $175,000 contribution to Project Vote in exchange for reciprocal contributions to his campaign for presidency of the Teamsters.)

Overall, I think Abetting Criminally Organized Registration Now might be a better acronym expansion of ACORN.

And that brings us to ACORN’s most famous graduate and legal counsel. Barack Obama cut his Community Organizing teeth working for and with ACORN. If you read Barack Obama’s resume you will see that for most of his working life (I don’t count elected office, though he hasn’t been a U.S Senator as long) he was employed by ACORN.

Mr. Obama worked for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now’s Project Vote voter-registration campaign in 1992 after graduating from Harvard Law School. He directed a successful voter-registration campaign, credited with electing Carol Moseley-Braun to the U.S. Senate. Primarily targeting African-Americans, Mr. Obama’s efforts added an estimated 125,000 voters to the rolls.

He also participated on a team of attorneys working on behalf of ACORN. They filed a 1995 lawsuit, which required the state of Illinois to implement the federal “motor-voter” bill. He still maintains a relationship with the organization. Mr. Obama’s campaign had to file amended federal election reports in August. They paid more than $800,000 to Citizens Services Inc. (CSI), an ACORN subsidiary, to turn out for the campaign during the primaries. However, the campaign listed CSI’s activities as polling, advance work and staging major events.

Obama, Voter Fraud & Mortgage Meltdown

I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work. — Barack Obama, Speech to ACORN, November 2007

…during his four-year tenure in Chicago as a community organizer, worked as a trainer for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — the infamous ACORN, whose affiliate, Project Vote, is known for voter fraud — the same ACORN from which a mighty mortgage mess has grown.

Obama’s company
Pittsburgh Tribune-review – August 26, 2008

The latest matter involves Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign paying more than $800,000 to an offshoot of the scandal-ridden, leftist Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for services the campaign now says it mistakenly misrepresented in federal reports.

The ACORN subsidiary, Citizens Services Inc., did “get-out-the-vote” work instead of the polling, advance work and major event staging the Obama campaign had first stated in its Federal Election Commission finance report during the primary.

Senator Obama’s support of ACORN didn’t end there

ACORN also got funding from two charities, the Woods Fund and the Joyce Foundation, when Obama served on their boards, and from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge – the radical “education reform” outfit Obama [with Bill Ayers] ran from ’95 to ’99.

Obama is up to his neck in ACORNs.

ONE key pioneer of ACORN’s subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott – an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae’s mortgage policies.

Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in “direct action” – organizers’ term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a “living wage” law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.

… When Obama was just a budding community organizer in Chicago, Talbott was so impressed that she asked him to train her personal staff.

He returned to Chicago in the early ’90s, just as Talbott was starting her pressure campaign on local banks. Chicago ACORN sought out Obama’s legal services for a “motor voter” case and partnered with him on his 1992 “Project VOTE” registration drive.

In those years, he also conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN’s up-and-coming organizers. That is, Obama was training the army of ACORN organizers who participated in Madeline Talbott’s drive against Chicago’s banks.

More than that, Obama was funding them. As he rose to a leadership role at Chicago’s Woods Fund, he became the most powerful voice on the foundation’s board for supporting ACORN and other community organizers. In 1995, the Woods Fund substantially expanded its funding of community organizers – and Obama chaired the committee that urged and managed the shift.

… IN short, to understand the roots of the subprime-mort gage crisis, look to ACORN’s Madeline Talbott. And to see how Talbott was able to work her mischief, look to Barack Obama.

Then you’ll truly know what community organizers do.

Clown watch update

Here are some more bozos for McCain on the credit crisis:

While Andrew Cuomo, McCain’s choice to replace Chris Cox as SEC head, was secretary of HUD he wanted Fannie Mae in the subprime market.

From a McCain speech: Fannie & Freddy were, “forcing mortgages on people who couldn’t afford them.”

Mr. McCain’s campaign manager adviser Rick Davis was paid $2 million as a lobbyist for Fannie and Freddie. This looks worse on McCain than Raines and Johnson do for Obama, even if they were consecutive Fannie CEO’s. McCain’s brand is damaged more.

3 bozos for Cuomo, 4 for the “forcing people to take mortgages” comment and 2 for Davis.


McCain 69.

Obama 86.

Comrades rejoice!

This week we have witnessed the nationalization of the largest insurance company in the world AND the assumption of an unknown amount of really bad debt (I’m guessing a trillion dollars) by the United States government. This means you.

In some ways this is poetic justice, since it’s the government that caused the problem, no matter what discussion of greed on Wall Street may issue forth from the Obama or McCain campaigns. This means you are experiencing poetic justice.

Americans have voted, over many years, for the people who created this mess. Americans don’t know their de Tocqueville.

The prospects for a successful democracy might be defined in modern terms as directly proportional to the percentage of informed citizens who look to their self-interest beyond the next paycheck divided by the percentage of all those who view themselves as “victims.” Call it the democracy/personal accountability acceptance ratio.

There is no country with a high rating, and ours continually degrades. This was a week where some vultures came home to roost.

As John McCain lurches from one contradictory position to another, forgetting even the minimal credentials he once had on economic issues, Barack Obama remains bereft even of “principles” among which to vacillate. The credit market crisis has been illuminating.

On the moderately statist wing, McCain’s deregulation credentials have been tossed under the bus in a fit of panic where he pretended calling for the firing of the SEC head actually contributed to discussing the problem. And where’s the guy standing up for his vote for GrammLeachBliley, a deregulation that arguably helped in the current crisis (see the 3 previous links)?

In the statist wheelhouse, Obama hasn’t had to distance himself from Franklin Raines (economic advisor) or Jim Johnson (resigned head of VP search committee), both former Fannie Mae CEOs. He hasn’t had to answer any questions about lobbyists, despite being recipient of the 3rd largest amount of Fannie/Freddie campaign contributions in his short and unexceptional career as Senator.

The Federal Reserve, the SEC, and especially Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t work right. We had sufficient regulation in place, but populist politics, not the market, trumped common sense.

For example, both McCain and Bush called for reform of Fannie and Freddie as early as 5 years ago.

Here’s the lead of a New York Times story on Sept. 11, 2003: “The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.”

Bush tried to act. Who stopped him? Congress, especially Democrats with their deep financial and patronage ties to the two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie.

“These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Rep. Barney Frank, then ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

It’s pretty clear who was on the right side of that debate.

As for presidential contender John McCain, just two years after Bush’s plan, McCain also called for badly needed reforms to prevent a crisis like the one we’re now in.

“If Congress does not act,” McCain said in 2005, “American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole.”

Sounds like McCain was spot on.

But his warnings, too, were ignored by Congress.

The “reform” that did occur was watered down by Barney Frank (see also), who has a lot to answer for.

While we’re on Democrats who have a lot to answer for, and while the entire mess can’t be blamed on the Carter era Community Reinvestment Act, that Democrat inspired law was the genesis of most of today’s credit market problems. It required lenders to issue the type of loans now defaulting. Add to that overly-cheap credit from the Federal Reserve for overly-long, laxity at the SEC in administering leveraging rules for Merrill, Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Bear Stearns, and Lehman, and frost it with cozy government “run” “lenders” encouraging corporatists like Angelo Mozilo.

There was plenty of “regulation,” but typically, it was a lack of regulation of politicians that caused the problems. Not the market. Not capitalism.

The regulation of politicians is provided for in the Constitution. It’s why they ignore and denigrate it. American’s populo-tropism enables them, and it’s at the bottom of this reality check. That’s why McCain and Obama both took refuge in Huey Long territory in a crisis. That’s where the votes are.

So, Obama and McCain each get 50 bozos for their stupid populist pandering.

Obama gets bonus bozos for Raines, Johnson (5 each), his $105,000 in campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie (2 each) and his redistributionist “tax-cut for 95% of the middle class” when only 40% of those he targets even pay taxes (5 for the socialism and 5 for the newspeak he applies to the term “tax-cut”).

McCain gets another 5 for pushing me back toward a 3rd party vote. He reminded me why I dislike him so much: When he self identifies with any problem, there’s no limit to his abandonment of principle – including the Constitution (which he’s seen fit to trash in the past). A call for regulation from John McCain is a call for the pragmatic suspension of civil rights.

He gets a 1 bozo reduction for calling for oversight 3 years ago that might have somewhat mitigated Fanron/Fredron.

McCain 60.

Obama 86.

Barney Frank Update 10:50 PM

And another from Arnold Kling.