Friday, September 28, 2007

Bad Bitch

I love the work I do even if I do not always love my job. If it were all enjoyable and rewarding they wouldn’t have to pay you for doing it. As Director of Housing Services for a non-profit housing counseling agency, I have had a role in helping 685 people become homeowners. Most of these people were low income. The majority was African-American. Many were moving out of public housing. Many of them were single mothers. Most of them were the first in their family to ever achieve homeownership. Many of them had only worked sporadically until the advent of Welfare Reform.

These clients of mine attend a year-long program called Homebuyers Club. A Homebuyers Club is more than just a series of meetings teaching the fundamentals of purchasing a home. A meeting of a Homebuyers Club often resembles a revival meeting or AA meeting. Clients share their setbacks, their challenges, and celebrate their successes. Clients learn improved money-management skills and they learn how to repair and maintain their credit. They learn how to avoid being victims of unscrupulous people who prey on the financially less sophisticated. They open checking accounts and stop using check-cashing services. They learn that to get ahead you must learn delayed gratification. They budget and save money. Some of them work with us for three or four years before they are ready to purchase a home. They have to not only change their circumstances but also change their way of thinking and change their values.

These clients, when they purchase a home, do not get the exploding ARMs and sub prime loans one hears so much about, but get FHA fixed-rate loans. Most of them take advantage of down payment assistance programs such as the American Dream Down payment Assistance (ADDI) program or other assistance programs. The thing that contributes more to their success than the down payment assistance is that we help them believe that the American Dream is possible.

For most low-income people, homeownership is the key to building wealth and giving their children a better life than they had. Homeownership creates a sense of self-esteem in a person. It makes them more invested in their community. Studies show that in a comparison of renters to homeowners, holding the variable of income fixed, that children of homeowners have fewer pre-marital pregnancies, commit less crime and do better in school.

Unfortunately, not everyone who expresses an interest in our program makes it to home ownership. Many inquire but never follow through. Other try but drop out. Even those who drop out however may benefit. They may learn how to repair and protect their credit rating. They may benefit by leaning why a “whole life” insurance policy is not as good as a “term” policy. They may learn that an income tax “rapid refund” is a rip-off. So, even those who do not become homeowners may benefit from being in the program. Also, one never knows what seed may be planted that germinates years later. But you know that many other who you encounter don’t “get it”. They cannot be convinced they there is any reason to try to improve their life.

Last Saturday, I went to an event at a public housing project where we offered the clients a service we call a “Front Door”. This is a one-on-one counseling session where we review the client’s income, debt, and credit and if they chose to pursue homeownership we help them develop an “action plan”. One of my clients on Saturday was a young black girl in her early-twenties. She was the mother of three children, by three different fathers and was not receiving child support. Two of the fathers were incarcerated and one she did not where he was. She worked at a job that barely paid above minimum wage. She had never graduated from high school and did not have a GED.

She was wearing a low-cut V-neck dress. I can’t help myself; when a woman is showing cleavage, I look. Tattooed across her chest were the words “Bad Bitch”. I could not see the first “B” or the “h” but could read the words.

I wondered what would cause a young girl to so brand herself? Is it the total sense of helplessness? Is it the hip-hop culture? Was it done in a drug-induced state? Does it make her more attractive to men in her social circle? Did she ever have anyone in her life that said to her, “that is not a good idea”?

I had to tell her that her chance of achieving homeownership was very slim in her current financial circumstances. Her income was too low to qualify for even the most generous assistance programs. I suggested she join a companion program to our Homebuyers Club, called “Financial Fitness” where she could learn some improved money-management skills. I told her we offer the GED classes at our center and that if she would get her GED, she could find a better paying job and make more money, and then pursue homeownership. She said she would think about it.

There are plenty or resources to help a young lady like this. Our programs are not operating at capacity. We never have to turn anyone away. There are programs that help people get their GED, there are job-training programs, there are programs that teach grooming and “Dress of Success”. There is no shortage of programs offering support. But how do you reach people and make them believe that there is a better way to live?

Welfare reform has been a great success in ending the welfare enslavement of many Black Americans, but we need to do more. We should not be content that millions of Americans are trapped in despair and poverty. No young girl should grow up and assume that it is the norm to be an unwed mother who drops out of school by age sixteen. No young man should have to assume he will be in prison or dead by the time he is twenty.

How can they be made to believe that there can be a better way to live? I don’t know. I wish I did. But we should not give up. We need bold programs; not programs that make people dependent on a government handout, but programs that break the cycle of poverty. Perhaps we should pay a girl $5000 if she graduates from high school and is not an unwed mother. Maybe we should pay a young boy $5000 if he can graduate from high school and has never been arrested or gotten a girl pregnant. In the short run, it may cost more to help people break the bonds of poverty than to subsidize their poverty, but I think we should do it.

I will probably never hear from Bad Bitch.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Alan Greenspan Calls for $3 per Gallon Gas Tax

Watching Alan Greenspan on BookTV Cspan2 Sunday night I felt like I was fortunate to be sitting in the presents of a wise sage. He was being interviewed to discuss his new book, The Age of Turbulence. The next day I rushed out and purchased the book at Borders Books for 40% off of the $35 retail price. (Free plug for Borders) I look forward to reading it.
In the past, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Greenspan had to be reserved. If Greenspan sneezed the world economy could catch a cold. Now, out of office Mr. Greenspan is speaking his mind on a variety of subjects and it is obvious that he has thought long and hard on the things about which he has opinions. With the mind of an economist, his utterances are not emotive but reasoned rational arguments.
In the hour, or maybe longer, interview he explained why he was a “libertarian-Republican” and not a “right-wing Republican”. He told of his relationship with Ayn Rand and the impact she had had on his intellectual development. He explained why he viewed China as a partner and not a rival and why Chinese investment in the American economy was a positive development. He discussed the dangers of growing income inequality and how this gap could lead to a dangerous populism. He spoke of the evolving roll of intellectual property and how it was replacing manufacturing as a creator of wealth. He explained how world trade was making the world a more integrated and a less dangerous place. He explained why Bill Clinton was one of our best “Republican” Presidents.
One of the things he discussed that most impressed me was global warming and how to combat it. He said that it was his conclusion that the scientific evidence is irrefutable that global warming is real and a very serious threat and that we must combat it. He said that there is no way to combat global warming without reducing the output of CO2 emissions. To do so we must get the cost of CO2 up in order to get the use of C02 down. The worse single source of CO2 emissions is the private automobile. To significantly reduce CO2 emission, he thinks, we need a gas tax of about $3 per gallon phased in overtime with the revenue rebated to the public as tax cuts. He says this could be achieved without wrecking the economy.
While there are many promising technologies that could flourish, he said, if only gas cost more, the most promising technology is battery-powered vehicles. Hybrids may be an interim promising step but the solution is battery-powered vehicles where the consumer recharges his car overnight. The reason why this is so promising is that it does not require a new distribution system, as would be the case with some other proposed alternatives. Also, we would all be charging our car overnight when demand for electricity is low, thus maximizing the use of the infrastructure already in place.
I know that many of the people who have long warned of the dangers of global warming are not going to welcome economic solutions to the global warming crisis. They are not going to be content until we change human nature and people are no longer “greedy”. Expressing love for Mother Nature however and persuading people to change their evil ways is not going to solve the problem. Without the application of economic principles, the problem of global warming will not be solved. Unfortunately, at the present time no politician can get elected to office while advocating a $3 per gallon gas hike, but with people of the stature of Alan Greenspan calling for rational solutions, policy makers may develop the nerve to provide leadership and offer serious solutions. I just hope that the cowardliness of politicians and the ideologically driven obstructionism of environmentalist do not cause us to wait until we are beyond the point of no return.
I am glad that Alan Greenspan is saying the things that need to be said.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Moveon Democrats Show Their Contempt for the Military

General David Petraeus, the U. S. Forces Commander in Iraq, is a man who has served his country faithfully for 35 years with honor and distinction. He is a 1974 graduate of West Point, graduating in the top 5% of his class. He was the General George C. Marshall Award winner as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Class of 1983. He earned a PH. D in International Relations from Princeton University in 1987.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Defense Superior Service Medal, four awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, the State Department Superior Honor Award, and the NATO Meritorious Service Medal. In 2005, U.S. News and World Report recognized General Petraeus as one of America’s 25 Best Leaders. In January 2007 he was confirmed unanimously by the U. S. Senate to become the U. S. forces commander in Iraq.

Last Thursday, the anti-war far-left organization MoveOn.org called him a traitor. The full-page ad sold to Moveon by the New York Times at a discounted rate, cleverly playing on the Generals name, and in large print asked, “General Petraeus or “General Betray Us”? They accused him of lying in his progress report to Congress.

Calling General Petraeus, the man who is leading our troops in time of war, a traitor is disgusting and beyond contempt. As one who was serving in Vietnam at a time when anti-war protestors carried Viet Cong flags and Jane Fonda visited our enemy and posed for pictures on an anti-aircraft gun, I can imagine how the troops in the field must feel when their Commander is called a traitor and politician vote to endorce that view.

Following the ad, the Senate voted 72 to 25 to condemn Moveon.org for the attack. Some Democrats joined Republicans in this vote including high-profile liberals such as Diane Feingold, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, and John Kerry. Other Democrats, many of whom had voted to confirm him as Commander back in January, refused to condemn the attack on Petraeus. The Democratic Senators who are seeking their party’s nomination for President, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, were among those siding with Moveon. Barak Omaba was present but choose not to vote and Senator Joseph Biden was absent, campaigning in Iowa.

Ads like this are polarizing and I guess that is the point. It motivates the base of the party and forces people to choose sides. The Presidential candidates can no longer waffle. They must decide if they will serve as puppets of Moveon and show their contempt for America's military leadership or if they will vote for decency and condemn those calling our top General in Iraq a traitor.

I don’t know how this will play out in the polls, but Democrats, while pleasing the fringe, may loose support in the middle. Also, nastiness like this may push moderate Republican who question the wisdom of our policy in Iraq, back into the Republican fold. Not all Democrats and Independents share the contempt for our military shown by the Moveon Democrats. As one who has been critical of the Bush Administrations decision to go to war and the conduct of the war, and who also has developed other dissatisfaction with the Republican Party, my loyalty to the Republican Party has been slipping. Events like this remind me why I am still a Republican.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Move-onward Liberal Soilders

Reprinted from Townhall.com

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We Do Not Ensure Freedom by Holding Elections

Recently, I read a comment by someone that said, democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. A popularly elected government does not necessarily create the ultimate in good government. We should not forget that Hitler was popularly elected.

Also, we should be mindful that it can be difficult to impose freedom on a country that does not have the basic building blocks to support it. As much as we may wish it was so, not everyone everywhere is ready for democracy. We must realize that some nations are only nations because people who have little in common are held together by brute force and suppression as was the case in Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Ethiopia.

In the following article Thomas Sowell explains why “nation-building” can be folly. It is too late to apply this lesson to Iraq, but hopefully we will learn this lesson before we are tempted to “liberate” the next country. Below are excerpts from the article.

Mugged By Reality: Part III
By Thomas Sowell
Thursday, September 20, 2007

If nothing else comes out of the Iraq war, it should banish the concept of "nation-building" from our language and our minds.

You cannot turn a territory and its population into a functioning nation with the stroke of a pen or the drawing of lines on a map.

Real nations evolve over time out of the mutual accommodations of peoples, not by imposing the bright ideas of theorists from the top down. No small part of African nations' problems comes from the fact that most became nations only in the sense that conquerors carved up African territories among themselves to suit their own convenience.

Democracy means voting. It does not mean freedom. When we lump the two ideas together, we confuse ourselves and others.
To read the full article: Mugged by Reality

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Monday, September 17, 2007

My Proposal for a Foreclosure Avoidance Program

Here's an idea for how to avoid foreclosures
By ROD WILLIAMS
Published: Monday, 09/17/07
The Tennessean
The state or local government could develop a program that would help many homeowners avoid foreclosure without it being either a bailout of the lenders or a burden on the taxpayers.
(To continue Reading: Here's an Idea for how.... )

This article was published today in the Tennessean. I welcome feedback on this proposal. You may post your comments on this site or email me at Rodwilliams47@yahoo.com.
Also in the same issue of the Tennessean are these three articles of interest: Foreclosure issues affect all of us, by David Tarpley, managing attorney of the consumer/law section, Nashville office, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands; Housing industry got away from its policies, by Eddie Latimer who runs Affordable Housing Resources Inc., a nonprofit housing corporation, and is chairman of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency; and The economy pays a price for irresponsible lending, The Tennessean editorial. You can read all of these at this link, see the center of the page. The Tennessean, Opinion.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

In Defense of Greed

Recently, a family member of mine to whom I am very close called me in a state of despair. She had just watched the documentary “11th Hour” and was depressed about global warming and the future of the planet. The movie’s thesis is that this present moment is the last chance to save the world and we better mend our ways or it will be too late. This close relative said that she was so concerned and felt that the situation was almost hopeless. Human greed was going to destroy us all, she said.

Sometimes, I can be less than sensitive and diplomatic. It is not wise to tell a despairing liberal, “I disagree. I think greed is a virtue.” I should have gently said, “How so?" And, “ What do you mean by greed?" I then could have tried to distinguish greed from enlightened self interest.

It is hard to defend greed. By definition it is a bad thing. The dictionary describes it as, “Excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves.” How can one defend that? After all, greed is considered one of the seven deadly sins. To defend greed is like defending sloth, pride, or lust.

“Enlighten self-interest” may not be as offensive of a term as “greed,” but whatever we call this desire to improve one’s well being, it is a force for good. Adam Smith recognized the importance of self-interest when he said, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."

I admire those who give away their wealth to help the less fortunate. Charity and caring about the poor, the sick, or the state of the planet are virtues. However, more people are fed, housed, and healed due to the profit motive than all of the benevolence in the world. If global warming is to be solved it will be due to a proper accounting of the cost of global warming not because we can change human motivation. Once we properly account for the externality of global warming, then the magic of the market and a desire for profit will find the solutions.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

The Bush Iraq Policy is the Only Cautious and Responsible Course, For Now.

In last night’s Presidential address on Iraq, I think the President proposed the right course of action and established a correct and cautious policy. He promised a reduction to pre-surge troop levels by next summer and promised further reductions as the situation improves.

It appears he has turned a corner. No more bravado about “staying the course” and “leaving when the job is done”. He appears to be listening to General Petreaus and accepting reality.

I watched hours of the General Petraeus congressional hearings. I was impressed by his honest, sober, realistic, and clear reports. He was guardedly optimistic but did not sugar coat things. He impressed me as someone who will not “spin” the facts but will tell the truth and give an honest assessment no matter where it leads.

While many Democrats are going to oppose Bush and try to push for an immediate pullout, it looks like Bush will prevail. As Pat Buchanan said in a recent article, "Bush is winning today because he has jettisoned the jabber about global democracy, and argues that a U.S. withdrawal risks a strategic disaster, national humiliation, massacre of our friends, and triumph for Al-Qaeda."

It seems obvious to all but the most extreme anti-Bush war critics that the surge produced positive results. The surge achieved a reduction in violence and a weakening of Al Qaeda. Not only is General Petraeus reporting this but so also are many independent observers including scholars from the liberal Brookings Institute.

The military successes however, are not achieving the objective the surge was supposed to achieve. The surge was supposed to give the Iraqi politicians breathing room in which they could achieve political reconciliation and make progress on building a nation. Of the eighteen benchmarks established to measure Iraqi progress, the Iraqis achieved only one. Iraq seems to have a lot of petty politician who lust after power but few statesmen. General Petraeus has said we cannot win a military victory without a political settlement.

We can’t defeat the enemy militarily, because the when we talk about fighting “the enemy” in Iraq the terminology does not fit the reality. The enemy is not a single military force or ideology or movement, but numerous factions vying for power. In the South of Iraq alone there are three separate Shiite factions fighting each other for control of the region. We may be able to keep events from spinning out of control but we cannot forever police the country. If the Iraqis do not want a nation, it will be hard to impose it.

I am disgusted about the lies and deceit that put us in Iraq, but we must now deal with the reality we are facing. How we got in Iraq is now less important than how we get out. As reckless as it was to go into Iraq, and as badly as the post invasion administration of Iraq was handled, to just pull out now would be more reckless than the initiation of this war in the first place.

Unfortunately, we broke it; we own it. We must figure a way out of Iraq that does not lead to a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a Kurdish-Turkish war, genocide, ethnic cleansing and a destabilization of the entire Mid East.

If by March, when the next report is to be made to congress, if the situation is not better then than it is now, it may be time to move toward a partitioning of the country as advocated by Joe Biden or another alternative strategy. Just leaving is not a strategy. For now, I think the Bush policy is the best course of action and the only cautious and responsible thing to do.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

More Tennesseans fall behind on mortgages

Credit counselors blame easy loans, creative financing
By NAOMI SNYDER
Staff writer, The Tennessean
Monday, 09/10/07
(I am prominently quoted in this article-Rod)
LaToya Tramill's hopes of homeownership have turned into heartache.
She has fallen behind on the mortgage payments for a $102,000 house she bought in Antioch last year, and her lender is threatening foreclosure.
And even if she fights to keep the home, her adjustable-rate mortgage will reset next year and she worries she won't be able to afford the higher monthly payments.
Tramill is one of a growing number of homeowners in Tennessee and across the nation falling behind on their mortgages. After years of easy credit and creative lending arrangements, many homeowners ended up in homes they now cannot afford. (to continue: More Tennesseans... )

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Insights on the Ron Paul Straw Poll Victories From a Political Dirty Trickster

Ron Paul is winning almost every Republican straw poll in the Nation if the Paulist are telling the truth and I have google-researched enough of their claims to believe it is true.

The Paulist are sure to let you know of Ron Paul’s every success. The Republican-leaning groups to which I belong and the Republican-leaning blogs I read are clogged with stories of his victories. According to the Paulist, the only reason he is not better known by the pubic or doing better in the National polls is that there is some sort of corporate media and Neocon conspiracy to keep people from learning what a knight in shinning armor Ron Paul really is.

Below is an example of a story that was recently circulated:

Wedneday Sept. 5, 2007

Maryland GOP Presidential Straw Poll Is A Big Success, Grassroots Candidate Wins Surprise Upset
ANNAPOLIS— After eleven days of presidential straw poll ballots cast at the Maryland Republican Party’s State Fair booth, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) was announced last night as the winner.
The Maryland Republican Party’s first-ever presidential straw poll at the State Fair resulted in nearly 1,000 Marylanders casting a vote for their favorite Republican candidate for president. The straw poll was open to all voting age adults regardless of party affiliation, and the voter had to be present at the booth. The campaigns of all nine presidential candidates appearing on the ballot were invited to have a representative at the State Fair booth at all times. While most Campaigns did not have a representative present, the Ron Paul campaign had full representation for all eleven days. (to continue:
>Maryland GOP )

Notice a couple things about this story: only a thousand votes were cast and “most campaigns did not have a representative present, the Ron Paul Campaign had full representation for all eleven days.

Now: My confession.
In the mid 70’s I was a college student at East Tennessee State University. Watergate had occurred and it was the during the last days of The Vietnam war and being a leftist was in style. Our campus however was relatively quite and apathetic but most students were products of the era and were certainly more liberal than conservative. There were a couple leftist organizations on campus but they were, for the most part, inactive.

At the time, I chaired a small Young Americans for Freedom chapter. To tell the truth, we barely got the twelve members we needed to get a charter. Myself and one other guy were the only really active members and there were two other occasionally active members. The others just joined but never participated.

In 1976, Reagan was challenging President Ford for the Republican nomination. Our YAF chapter approached the campus Young Democrats and the College Republicans with the idea of holding a mock election on campus. Both groups liked the idea and we jointly approached the student council with the idea. They bought it and we had an officially student body sanctioned, university endorsed, mock election conducted by the Student Council.
The day of the elections while the Student Government officials manned the polling place, I and the two other YAF members worked the sidewalk outside the student union center. We would approach students with clipboard in hand, wearing no political buttons or identification, and say we were conducting a poll.

We would ask, "If the election where held today in which party primary would you vote. If they told us the Republican primary, we would then read off the list of candidates and ask for whom they would vote. If they replied “Reagan”, we then asked them if they knew about the mock election taking place. Most did not. We would then direct them where to go vote. If they named another candidate we thanked them for participation in our poll. We also decided to let Carter win the Democratic primary.

After the polls closed and the votes were counted, the result was approximately three times as many Republicans voted as Democrats and Regan won by a landslide. Also, Carter handily beat the more liberal candidates in the Democratic primary.

We already had our press releases made up, We filled in the numbers, delivered and mailed the press release to area newspapers and the next day about 6 newspapers in the region carried the news of Reagan’s landslide victory in a mock election at ETSU. This did not just happen. Basically two motivated activities planned it and made it happen.



I was very proud of this "dirty trick" but learned not to trust mock elections or straw polls.

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Should Gay Flirting be a Crime?

Senator Larry Craig’s arrest has been widely reported and commended upon. Here are my thoughts:

I am bothered by the hypocrisy of a “family value” politicians soliciting sex in a public bathroom. But, I am more bothered by police-state tactics that led to Senator Craig’s arrest. I do not see that what he did rises to the level of "solicitation"; it was more like ‘flirting”.

He apparently gave secrete gay signals to the undercover cop. This looks like a case of entrapment. If a man in the next stall lets his foot go over into my stall I would move my foot away and that would be the end of it. If he put his hand under the divider partition, I would say in a strong voice, "May I help you?" and that would be the end of it.

I have a problem with efforts to catch gays flirting in the bathroom. Now, if Senator Craig had actually offered sex for cash or if he had been caught having bathroom sex, then I would think the police would be correct to arrest him. If he had said the words that were an offer to engage in oral sex, then perhaps that would justify an arrest. None of that happened.

The real story ought to be an overzealous policeman entraps a man for gay flirting.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

I can't Leap on the Fred Thompson Bandwagon

I have been unimpressed by the crowded field of candidates from both parties seeking their party’s respective presidential nomination. As a Republican, I have been hoping for a Republican candidate that could generate some enthusiasm on my part while awaiting the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Not seeing a Republican that could excite me, I have not ruled out considering a Democrat. My disgust with the Bush administration’s deceit in leading us into the disastrous war in Iraq and the abuse of our civil liberties has made me consider jumping ship. Among the Democrats however, I have not seen anyone that I would like to see become President either.

The best I can say about most of the candidates of either party is they are better than Bush. Wanting someone to be for rather than just settling for the least offensive, I have wanted another choice. I hoped Fred Thompson was it. Finally, Fred Thompson has jumped in the race making it official last night on Jay Leno. (See clip) I had been feeling a small tinge of excitement about Fred Thompson, thinking maybe he is the person I could get excited about.

I was predisposed to support Fred Thompson. He is a good spokesman for the cause of conservatism. He can articulate his position without coming across as mean-spirited or divisive. He appears to be a social conservative without being too tied to the religious right. He sounds reasonable, level-headed, thoughtful and intelligent. He seems to be a man of integrity. He has the communication skills of Ronald Reagan and has that elusive something called “charisma”.

Having served eight years in the Senate, he cannot be dismissed as “just an actor”. He has an impressive political career and like the character he plays on Law and Order, he really is a crusader against crime and corruption.

In 1973 he served as Minority counsel in the Watergate hearings and is responsible for Senator Howard Baker asking the one question that many say led to the downfall of the President: “What did the President know and when did he know it?” While Mr. Thompson played a major role in the Watergate hearings, he was behind the scene and not in the spotlight.

He entered the public spotlight in 1977 by taking on the corrupt Democratic Governor of Tennessee, Ray Blanton. Mr. Thompson represented Marie Ragghianti a former chair of the Tennessee Parole Board who had refused to release felons who had bribed aides to Governor Blanton in order to obtain clemency. For her refusal to go along with the cash-for-clemency scheme, she was terminated on trumped up charges. Mr. Thompson represented her in a wrongful termination case. Ms Ragghianiti won her case and in the process the cash-for- clemency scandal was revealed and as a result a slew of other scandals involving the Blanton administration became public and the Governor was removed from office in disgrace.

The sordid story of corruption led to a book by Peter Mass and a movie staring Sissy Spacek, both titled “Marie, a True Story”. Fred Thompson played himself in the movie and that was the beginning of his acting career. The movie is still a great, riveting movie and if you can find it, I highly recommend it. (movie review)

While I wanted to jump on the Thompson bandwagon, I just can't do it. On Leno, he had the opportunity to distance himself from the disastrous Bush Iraq policy and he did not; instead he repeated the justifications for the war. I'm disappointed. I'm back to trying to decide who is the least objectionable candidate.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Phase III of Bush's War

By Patrick J. Buchanan
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Those who hoped that -- with the victory of the antiwar party in 2006, the departure of Rumsfeld and the neocons from the Pentagon, the rise of Condi and the eclipse of Cheney -- America was headed out of Iraq got a rude awakening. They are about to get another.

Comes now evidence congressional Democrats have not only lost the pro-victory vote, but forfeited the peace vote, as well.

Incredibly, only 3 percent of the nation gives Congress a positive rating on its handling of the war. Congress has lost the hawks, and the owls, and the doves. No one trusts its leadership on the war.

What is to prevent Bush from attacking Iran and widening the war, at a time and place of his choosing, and sooner than we think?

Nothing and no one.
(To continue reading: Phase III of Bush's War)

My Comment:
If President Bush represents the idealistic, Nation-building, Neocon wing of the Republican Party, Mr Buchanan represents the protectionist, isolationist, paleoconservative wing of the party. I am not so sure I would be any less disgruntled with a Buchanan version of the Republican Party than I am with the Bush version. Nevertheless, I am glad that we have a Buchanan to provide some balance to the Bush version. Above are excerpts from an article by Mr. Buchanan that I find informative and insightful.

It is amazing that as unpopular and as weakened as Bush has become, that the Congress is even less popular and weaker still. Was not divided government supposed to bring a return to Congressional scrutiny? Was not the Congressional election claimed by Democrats and mainstream pundits to be a referendum on the war? I did not expect the Democratic Congress to be so irresponsible as to cut off funding for troops in the field or immediately reverse policy. But, I expected more vigorous oversight and questioning of the administration and a little backbone.

Bush may be preparing to expand the war into Iran and Congress seems to be prepared to roll over and play dead.

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO HELP NEARLY ONE-QUARTER OF A MILLION HOMEOWNERS REFINANCE, KEEP THEIR HOMES

FHA to implement new “FHASecure” refinancing product
President George W. Bush today (08/31/07) announced that HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will help an estimated 240,000 families avoid foreclosure by enhancing its refinancing program effective immediately. Under the new FHASecure plan, FHA will allow families with strong credit histories who had been making timely mortgage payments before their loans reset-but are now in default-to qualify for refinancing.
(To read the entire press release: Keep Their Homes )

Welcome News
This is welcome news and is the correct measured response to the crisis. I applaud Bush for this initiative. As a Housing Counselor who tries to help people avoid foreclosure I daily see the problem. (To read my article recently published in the Tennessean click here: Tennessee Voices.)

There must be consequences to making poor decisions, both on the part of borrowers and lenders. While I hate to see anyone lose their home, those borrowers who were reckless and who simply let greed lead them to buy more house than they could afford should not be rescued from their mistake. Those mortgage companies that made risky loans that were bound to foreclose should not be rescued from their poor lending decisions. Unfortunately, almost any program that bails out a homeowner also bails out the lender.

Not all homeowners who got bad loans were poor credit risk. Purchasing a home and getting a mortgage can be a complicated transaction. I think HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson summed it up well when he said, "Many hard-working American families who were able to make their mortgage payments under the initial teaser terms of the exotic loan are now struggling to make ends meet because their rates have doubled or tripled". This new program allows those homeowners to refinance out of these bad loans into fixed FHA products.

While helping the homeowner, this is not a bail out for the bad lenders. It is true that some loans on which the mortgage company would have lost money due to the customer foreclosing will be paid off. In that sense, it does help the lender who made a bad loan. On the other hand, some who would have kept their high interest rate loan and not foreclosed will be refinanced out of the bad loan, causing the lender to loose the earnings they would otherwise have gained from the loan. Also, the most credit-worthy of the borrowers are the ones who will refinance, leaving the lenders with a portfolio of more riskier loans. On balance, this is a rescue for the deserving borrower and not a bail-out for the undeserving lenders.

There is more that could be done on a local level and state level to slow the rate of foreclouse but this is the correct Federal responce.

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