Saturday, July 26, 2008

Points to Ponder:
(On the Passing of Tony Snow and Disgusting Leftists)

It should tell you something, when every time misfortune befalls a conservative, there’s a need to sanitize [the Daily Kos]. And I haven’t even bothered to look at other “liberal” (LOL) sites - there’s really nothing to be learned or gained by reading hateful celebrations over Snow’s tragic death. I find his passing sad enough; no need to add to it by lamenting the evil among our fellow Americans. [Beth Cleaver]

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Briefly on the Current Real Estate Situation:

I have very little of a positive nature to say about the current president. There, I have said it as succinctly as I can. But at the same time, those under the illusion that the current problems in the real estate sphere of the economy are to be laid primarily at his feet need to have their presuppositions challenged. I have for that reason dug up an old online article dealing with the real estate market from when President Bush was governor of Texas:

The Trillion-Dollar Bank Shakedown That Bodes Ill for Cities (City Journal Winter 2000)

Pay particular note to this part of the article:

This policy—"America's best mortgage program for working people," NACA calls it—is an experiment with extraordinarily high risks. There is no surer way to destabilize a neighborhood than for its new generation of home buyers to lack the means to pay their mortgages—which is likely to be the case for a significant percentage of those granted a no-down-payment mortgage based on their low-income classification rather than their good credit history. Even if such buyers do not lose their homes, they are a group more likely to defer maintenance on their properties, creating the problems that lead to streets going bad and neighborhoods going downhill. Stable or increasing property values grow out of the efforts of many; one unpainted house, one sagging porch, one abandoned property is a threat to the work of dozens, because such signs of neglect discourage prospective buyers.

A no-down-payment policy reflects a belief that poor families should qualify for home ownership because they are poor, in contrast to the reality that some poor families are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to own property, and some are not. Keeping their distance from those unable to save money is a crucial means by which upwardly mobile, self-sacrificing people establish and maintain the value of the homes they buy. If we empower those with bad habits, or those who have made bad decisions, to follow those with good habits to better neighborhoods—thanks to CRA's new emphasis on lending to low-income borrowers no matter where they buy their homes—those neighborhoods will not remain better for long.

Nor for that matter is this the only part of the equation that could be mentioned -indeed the Clinton Administration's justice department threatening lenders with lawsuits for red lining if they did not make risky loans to particular demographics of the population who were serious credit risks is another factor altogether.{1}

When the mafia engages in this sort of thing, it is called "extortion" whereas when the federal government does it somehow these practices are supposed to be moral apparently. Pardon those of us who respect reason and logic and can recognize a violation of the law of non-contradiction when we see it but that is all on this subject for the present time.


{1} There is a whole can of worms on this subject which I do not have the time or inclination to delve into now but at some point in the future that may change.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guest Editorial on Senator Barack Obama and His Approach to Iraq:
(By Senator John McCain)

No folks, Senator McCain does not know he is contributing a guest editorial to this humble weblog. However, as for some reason the New York Times would not let this text be published in their op-ed section in response to an earlier op-ed by Senator Obama, I am going to publish it in the same text and formatting as it reads on Drudge's site except with the customary features we use for guest editorials here including font colouring. Without further ado...


In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.


Oh and lest I forget, Sen. Obama's NYT op-ed can be viewed here. To remind readers of our own view recently reiterated anew, see this thread for details:

Revisiting the Subject of the Surge and the Deafening Silence of the MSM Thereof (circa July 11, 2008)

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