So much for Obama's Campaign Finance Reform

The Obama campaign returns the easy money. What about people whose name is listed as Joe Smith or Bob Jones?

The Obama campaign has shattered all fund-raising records, raking in $458 million so far, with about half the bounty coming from donors who contribute $200 or less. Aides say that's an illustration of a truly democratic campaign. To critics, though, it can be an invitation for fraud and illegal foreign cash because donors giving individual sums of $200 or less don't have to be publicly reported. Consider the cases of Obama donors "Doodad Pro" of Nunda, N.Y., who gave $17,130, and "Good Will" of Austin, Texas, who gave more than $11,000—both in excess of the $2,300-per-person federal limit. In two recent letters to the Obama campaign, Federal Election Commission auditors flagged those (and other) donors and informed the campaign that the sums had to be returned. Neither name had ever been publicly reported because both individuals made online donations in $10 and $25 increments. "Good Will" listed his employer as "Loving" and his occupation as "You," while supplying as his address 1015 Norwood Park Boulevard, which is shared by the Austin nonprofit Goodwill Industries. Suzanha Burmeister, marketing director for Goodwill, said the group had "no clue" who the donor was. She added, however, that the group had received five puzzling thank-you letters from the Obama campaign this year, prompting it to send the campaign an e-mail in September pointing out the apparent fraudulent use of its name.

"Doodad Pro" listed no occupation or employer; the contributor's listed address is shared by Lloyd and Lynn's Liquor Store in Nunda. "I have never heard of such an individual," says Diane Beardsley, who works at the store and is the mother of one of the owners. "Nobody at this store has that much money to contribute." . . .

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said the campaign has no idea who the individuals are and has returned all the donations, using the credit-card numbers they gave to the campaign. (In a similar case earlier this year, the campaign returned $33,000 to two Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip who had bought T shirts in bulk from the campaign's online store. They had listed their address as "Ga.," which the campaign took to mean Georgia rather than Gaza.) "While no organization is completely protected from Internet fraud, we will continue to review our fund-raising procedures," LaBolt said. Some critics say the campaign hasn't done enough. This summer, watchdog groups asked both campaigns to share more information about its small donors. The McCain campaign agreed; the Obama campaign did not. "They could've done themselves a service" by heeding the suggestions, said Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics.


This is great: More loosening standards to solve the problem

Has the government learned its lesson? Apparently, they haven't:

The housing agency's director, James Lockhart, suggested Tuesday that mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could loosen lending standards to help more homebuyers qualify for a loan and stabilize the market. The government took control of Fannie and Freddie earlier this month. . . .


The Impact of Campaign Spending Rules

McCain's spending on TV advertising is only about 42 percent of the level of Obama's.


Stock price changes when House votes for Bailout

The market peaked right when the House passed the bill. It has amazed me how every change in the market over the last couple weeks has been taken as evidence of why the bailout is needed -- even when there has to be some real pretzel logic to accomplish this (e.g., the immediate drop in the futures for the DJIA after the bill passed the Senate was explained by concern with whether the House would then pass it).


Palin on the newspapers and news sources that she uses

"Palin refuses to name papers, mags she reads"

Palin did basically answer this question, but it was a silly question and nothing would have been learned from it no matter what was answered. If she had said what Couric wanted, she could have claimed the NY Times whether it was true or not and Couric would have been happy.

So much has been made out of this answer, but I possibly would have answered it the same way.


Some more false statements by Biden during the debate

IBD has a brief summary of the inaccurate statements by Biden during his debate with Palin:

First, as InstaPundit's Michael Totten instantly noted after the debate, Biden — the great, seasoned foreign policy expert who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — falsely claimed France and the U.S. "kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon." . . .

There was also Biden's accusation that John McCain is soft on regulation, when in fact he tried to beef up regulations on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — an explanation for why he got so little campaign money from Fannie and Freddie over the years — under $22,000 — as opposed to the more than $126,000 Obama received in his short time in the Senate.

Sen. Biden falsely claimed that Obama didn't pledge to meet with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; he falsely claimed Gov. Sarah Palin supported a windfall profits tax on oil companies; he said he's always been for clean coal in spite of his record of voting against it in the Senate.

Biden said we have to drill for more of our own oil, easily leading viewers to conclude he and Obama are in favor of more domestic drilling, but as the American Thinker blog's Rick Moran noted in a list of "Biden's Big Lies," "Biden has opposed offshore drilling and even compared offshore drilling to 'raping' the Outer Continental Shelf."

Gov. Palin called Biden on his claim that Gen. David McKiernan in Afghanistan said that the surge could not be applied in Afghanistan; in fact, McKiernan has said that some aspects of Gen. David Petraeus' Iraq strategy could be part of our war efforts in Afghanistan.

And Biden was wrong when he claimed that both McCain and Obama opposed troop funding; McCain simply opposed legislation with a withdrawal deadline.

The Delaware Democrat falsely claimed that McCain's health care plan raises taxes, failing to mention his proposal's offsetting tax credit. And he was untruthful in claiming that under an Obama Administration the middle class will "pay no more than they did under Ronald Reagan." Obama, in fact, says he will return income tax rates to the Clinton levels, which were significantly higher than those in effect after tax reform during the Reagan Administration.

National Review's Jim Geraghty noted Biden's claim that "we spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country" and concluded Biden was "off by 2,000%."

Geraghty also found that "Katie's Restaurant" in Wilmington, Del., where good old Joe invited anyone to have a beer with him, apparently hasn't been around for decades. Maybe the senator was too busy conferring with imaginary French liberators of Lebanon to visit his constituency. . . .

1) How about this: "We believe -- Barack Obama believes by investing in clean coal and safe nuclear, we can not only create jobs in wind and solar here in the United States, we can export it." Compare to Biden's earlier emphatic promise from September of "No Coal Plants Here in America."

2) Or this: "Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that."

Well, this guy was the chairman of the judiciary committee and lead the fight against numerous Republican judicial nominations? As Sonya Jones pointed out, the powers on the Executive branch are in Article II of the Constitution, not Article I. Here is all of Biden's quote:

The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.
And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

1) I am glad that we agree that Article I of the Constitution has nothing to do with the Executive Branch. Article I covers the legislative branch.
2) The primary role of the vice president is indeed to support the president, but that is in Article II, not Article I. But that cuts against your point below where you try to defend him by writing that "does in fact define the role of of the VP," because you imply that it is the vice president's role in the Senate that is his primary role.
3) Biden doesn't even get the discussion of what is in Article I correct. For example, the only authority of the vice president "has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress." This is so completely wrong that it is laughable. The vice president is the president of the Senate when he is there. He controls the rules of the Senate! He is the one who recognizes Senators when they want to speak.

Biden is so clueless that he doesn't know what part of the constitution covers the executive branch and even more bizarre he doesn't even seem to know how the Senate operates.

3) After Palin said about global warming that "I'm not one to attribute every man -- activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man's activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet," Biden said "Well, I think it is manmade. I think it's clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden -- Gov. Palin and Joe Biden." Does he really want to argue that 100 percent of the variation in temperature are due to man?

4) From Michael Krauss:
1. In VP debate, Biden said U.S. and France kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. They didn not. Hezbollah has been around in Lebanon for decades and grown stronger. It was never kicked out by anybody.

2. Biden said Obama warned against letting Hamas participate in Palestinian legislative elections in 2005. The Wash. Post fact-checker says there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Obama issued such a warning.

5) Biden also got the supposed surplus in Iraq wrong -- it was less than half what he claimed it was. The Iraqis currently have $29 billion in the bank.

6) For additional claimed points see this.


A source of illegal guns in Russia: the Police

The Times of India has this:

MOSCOW: Police in Russia say they are searching for more than 215,000 guns that have gone missing from arsenals around the country.

An official police list of “missing firearms” has 215,326 entries, up from less than 1,000 in 1991, interior ministry official Sergei Fedkin told the Interfax news agency on Thursday. Fedkin was quick to stress that his own ministry was not responsible for the losses. “Experts believe the main source of arms in the criminal world is military bases and, above all, the defence ministry,” he said.

Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called Nato’s eastward expansion mechanical and said challenges and threats to some point as an excuse do not exist in reality. Lavrov, who was in Armenia to hold talks with the government there, said Russia was not concerned over Armenia’s intention to cooperate with Nato.

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CNN has debate analysis looking at level of complexity of statements

CNN reports this:

Grade level: Biden, 7.8; Palin, 9.5 (Newspapers are typically written to a sixth-grade reading level.)

Sentences per paragraph: statistically tied at 2.7 for Biden and 2.6 for Palin.

Letters per word: tied at 4.4.

Ease of reading: Biden, 66.7 (with 100 being the easiest to read or hear), versus 62.4 for Palin.

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Vancouver tops in Canada in gun violence

The Vancouver Sun reports this:

Vancouver tops in gun violence, study finds
Offences involving firearms far above national average
Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun, Meagan Fitzpatrick, Canwest News Service, Vancouver Sun; Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008
Metro Vancouver has the highest rate of gun-related violent crime of any major metropolitan region in Canada, according to a new Statistics Canada study.
There were 45.3 violent offences involving guns for every 100,000 people in Metro Vancouver, slightly higher than Toronto at 40.4 but far above the national average of 27.5, says the report, which is based on police-reported data from 2006. . . .

Thanks to Mike Hoff for sending me this link.

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Obama's Dangerous Pals

The NY Post has this. I had hoped that this was already obvious to everyone, but I guess not.

WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.

In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.

In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.

THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Commu nity Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.

CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in "subprime" loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.

Any bank that wants to expand or merge with another has to show it has complied with CRA - and approval can be held up by complaints filed by groups like ACORN. . . .



Palin-Biden Debate posts extremely high early ratings

If one debate was going to be watched the most, I am glad that it is the one with Palin.

Thursday's highly anticipated face-off between Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Delaware senator Joe Biden may be the most-watched debate in 16 years.

Last night's event totaled a 45.0 overnight meter-market household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That's 42% higher than Friday's presidential debate between top-of-the-ticket contenders John McCain and Barack Obama, which scored a collective 31.6 rating among broadcast and cable networks.

It's also a stunning 60% higher than the 2004 debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. In fact, the early figure surpasses any presidential debate since 1992's second bout between Bill Clinton, Ross Perot and George Bush (which received a 46.3 rating). . . .

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Did it spend as much in three weeks in Iraq as seven years in Afghanistan?

Here is the breakdown for Biden's claim:

CRS Report for Congress
The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11
(found on fas.org site)

Covers FY2001 - FY2009
Afghanistan war $172 billion (8 yrs)
Iraq war $653 billion (6 years)

Let's just take average / year / week

AF: $21.5 billion / yr
IR: $109 billion / yr

7 years of AF $150.5 billion
3 weeks of IR $6.3 billion

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Factual Mistakes by Biden in VP debate

Fred Thompson has the list in this youtube video.



Armen Alchian and Harold Demsetz in the running for the Nobel Prize

Two of my teachers from graduate school are in the running for the Nobel prize in Economics. That would be awesome, but Armen is getting very old so they had better do it soon.

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Appearing on the Lars Larson Show at 7:05 PM EDT

I will be on Lars' show to discuss the bailout.


Virginia Teachers demonstrate support for Obama in classes

Fox News has the discussion here:

Virginia Republicans are in an uproar after the state teacher's union sent an e-mail to its members encouraging them to wear blue-colored shirts to school to show their support for Barack Obama.

State Republicans are calling it an undisguised attempt to influence students' political views.

The Virginia Education Association sponsored "Obama Blue Day" on Tuesday. In an e-mail sent last week, it urged teachers to participate by dressing in blue.

"There are people out there not yet registered. You teach some of them," the Sept. 25 e-mail reads. "Others, including our members, remain on the fence! Its time for us to come together, voice our unity, because we make a difference!"

"Let's make Obama Blue Day a day of Action!" the e-mail continues. "Barack the vote!"

In a statement released to FOXNews.com Thursday, VEA President Kitty Boitnott defended the e-mail, saying that it called for teachers to wear blue shirts, but not ones that mentioned a candidate. . . .

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Some of the goodies in the "Bailout Bill"

You can find the bill here:

Sec. 501. $8,500 income threshold used to calculate refundable portion of child tax credit.
Sec. 502. Provisions related to film and television productions.
Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.
Sec. 504. Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation.
Sec. 505. Certain farming business machinery and equipment treated as 5-year property.
Sec. 506. Modification of penalty on understatement of taxpayer’s liability by tax return preparer.
Subtitle B—Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and
Addiction Equity Act of 2008
Sec. 511. Short title.
Sec. 512. Mental health parity.
Sec. 601. Secure rural schools and community self-determination program.
Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine reclamation fund.
Subtitle A—Heartland and Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief
Sec. 701. Short title.
Sec. 702. Temporary tax relief for areas damaged by 2008 Midwestern severe storms, tornados, and flooding.
Sec. 703. Reporting requirements relating to disaster relief contributions.
Sec. 704. Temporary tax-exempt bond financing and low-income housing tax relief for areas damaged by Hurricane Ike.
Subtitle B—National Disaster Relief
Sec. 706. Losses attributable to federally declared disasters.
Sec. 707. Expensing of Qualified Disaster Expenses.
Sec. 708. Net operating losses attributable to federally declared disasters.
Sec. 709. Waiver of certain mortgage revenue bond requirements following federally declared disasters.
Sec. 710. Special depreciation allowance for qualified disaster property.
Sec. 711. Increased expensing for qualified disaster assistance property.
Sec. 712. Coordination with Heartland disaster relief.


New Analysis piece up at Fox News: Analysis: Economists Raise Concerns About Bailout Plan

The new analysis piece starts off this way:

While some politicians were reconsidering their opposition to the bailout this week, there is one group that still expresses a lot of concerns with the legislation: economists.

Interviews conducted with a dozen prominent academic economists, Obama supporters as well as McCain supporters, found little support for the bailout bill. Indeed, even the one economist who supported the proposal passed by the Senate Wednesday night had serious reservations.

Jonathan Berk, an award-winning finance professor at Stanford University and a strong opponent of the bailout plan, expressed the concerns of many: “I have never been so frustrated, I have never wanted to speak out publicly before on these political issues, but politicians don’t know what they are doing, they know nothing about these issues.”

The economists did not all emphasize the same reasons for the current financial crunch and they all did not agree how serious the problem is. But there are a number of similarities that can be seen in all their answers.

There is little agreement on how serious the current problems are. Take the statements from three of the economists. John Cochrane, a professor at the University of Chicago Business School, worried that the solution was out of all proportion to the problem.

The legislation is like this: some boats are sinking, so rather than bailing those boats out, you blow up the dam and drain the whole lake.

. . . .

Piece is at the top of the page on Fox News.

David Friedman has comments on the issues in my piece here and here.

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CNN discusses hypocrisy of Obama and Biden on earmarks

You can listen to the MP3 of the piece here.

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After Gwen Ifill, worry about Brokaw as moderator?

The Meet the Press interview is here:

MS. KENNEDY: Yeah, put my name on, yeah. No, "I know you're doing this to put your name on," that kind of thing. Yeah. No, there was a--you know, we reached out, obviously, I heard from my family, and I trust their judgment a lot. And then, you know, we went around and talked to a number of colleagues, groups, people who care, women, lots of different kinds of people, and then, you know, I did get a lot of unsolicited suggestions, a lot of people nominated themselves. Not you, but others, so, you know, your name came up.
MR. BROKAW: My name came up? In a dismissive and derisive fashion, of course.
MS. KENNEDY: Yeah, right.

Brokaw is the moderator of the next presidential debate.

NASHVILLE - Tom Brokaw will moderate the presidential debate Oct. 7 at Belmont University.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced his selection today.

Brokaw is current host of NBC's "Meet the Press" and spent 21 years as anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News."

The debate will be a town hall format, allowing the invited participants to ask the candidates questions.

The Gallup organization will choose the audience participants from undecided voters in Nashville.

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Congressman who supported Fannie & Freddie says that he made a mistake

This from Fox News:

"Like a lot of my Democratic colleagues I was too slow to appreciate the recklessness of Fannie and Freddie. I defended their efforts to encourage affordable homeownership when in retrospect I should have heeded the concerns raised by their regulator in 2004. Frankly, I wish my Democratic colleagues would admit when it comes to Fannie and Freddie, we were wrong. By the way, I wish my Republican colleagues would admit that they missed the early warning signs, that Wall Street deregulation was overheating the securities market and promoting dangerously lax lending practices. When it comes to the debacle in our capital markets, there is much blame to go around for both sides."

Congressman Artur Davis, D-Ala


A new breed of hunter?

As the number of hunters continues to decline, will women pick up the slack? Is Palin serving as a role model?

PARIS, Tenn. -- Brenda Valentine was running a beauty shop in rural Tennessee when her shooting skills came to the attention of the hunting industry. Today, she is a television star and paid speaker at hunting conventions, where fans wait in lines for her autograph.

"People will bring me their grandpa's shotgun to sign or even kiss," she says. "Some have named their children after me."

Mrs. Valentine, 58 years old, is perhaps the most visible face of an industry effort to draw more women into the woods. As the number of male hunters has declined, the sport has targeted women with everything from pink guns to gender-specific hunting courses. Now, they're seeking out spokesmodels and pushing weapons tailored for women, such as lighter crossbows. Television shows starring women shooters include "American Huntress" and "Family Traditions with Haley Heath," chronicling the hunting adventures of a young woman and her tag-along husband and children.

The campaign received a boost in recent weeks from the Republican Party's vice presidential nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Photographs have since emerged of the governor posing beside a caribou she'd shot, and supporters boasted that she knew how to field-dress a moose. Gov. Palin is an ideal role model, say some women hunters, because she defies the masculine image of the sport. "She's a babe," says Linda Burch, a bear-hunting Minnesota accounting executive who applies lipstick before posing for kill shots.

Gov. Palin also counters the stereotype of the woman hunter as poor, rural and uneducated. A 2003 survey of Texans who had attended a state hunting-and-outdoors training program for women found that 82% lived in cities, 79% had graduated from college and 39% had household incomes above $80,000 a year. They spent a mean of $3,250 a year on outdoor recreational pursuits, said the state wildlife agency, which conducted the survey.

But some women see the media focus on Gov. Palin's hunting as evidence of a lingering gender gap. Only after Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a fellow hunter (causing minor injury) did his hunting habits gain attention. "Why is it news that Sarah Palin is a hunter?" asks Christine Thomas, a Wisconsin college dean and long-time advocate of programs to teach women about the outdoors. . . .


Does moderator of VP debate have a financial interest in Obama winning?

Gwen Ifill has a new book that is scheduled to come out on inauguration day on Obama. Here is a question: will the book sell better if Obama is president? It seems pretty clear that she picked inauguration day in the hopes of tying it in with an Obama presidency. An Obama presidency means that more books will be sold.



"ACORN's Senator"

From Investor's Business Daily:

Barack Obama wasn't just the second-largest recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac political contributions. He was also the senator from ACORN, the activist leader for risky "affirmative action" loans. . . .

As the New York Times reports, "Aides to Mr. Obama said he had not directly reached out to try to sway any House Democrats who opposed the measure." Is the reason the fact that the slush fund for ACORN in the original bill, siphoning off 20% of any future profits for such activist groups, was trimmed from the tree? . . .

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"Biden Gets Pass for Saying He Was 'Shot At' in Iraq"

Fox News has this on Biden's claims that he was shot at in Iraq and also had his helicopter shot down:

When Hillary Clinton told a tall tale about "landing under sniper fire" in Bosnia, she was accused of "inflating her war experience" by rival Democrat Barack Obama's campaign.

But the campaign has been silent about Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, telling his own questionable story about being "shot at" in Iraq.

"Let's start telling the truth," Biden said during a presidential primary debate sponsored by YouTube last year. "Number one, you take all the troops out - you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die."

But when questioned about the episode afterward by the Hill newspaper, Biden backpedaled from his claim of being "shot at" and instead allowed: "I was near where a shot landed."

The senior senator from Delaware went on to say that some sort of projectile "landed" outside a building in the Green Zone where he and another senator had spent the night during a visit in December 2005. The lawmakers were shaving in the morning when they felt the building shake, Biden said.

"No one got up and ran from the room-it wasn't that kind of thing," he told the Hill. "It's not like I had someone holding a gun to my head."

The rest of the press ignored the flap at the time because Biden was viewed as having little chance of ending up on the Democratic presidential ticket. But even after Biden was selected to be Obama's running mate last month, his claim to have been "shot at" drew no scrutiny from the same reporters who had savaged Clinton for making a similar claim that turned out to be false.

FOX News has been asking the Obama campaign for details of the alleged shooting in Iraq ever since Biden was tapped to be vice president. Biden campaign spokesman David Wade promised an answer last week, but failed to provide one. . . .

Meanwhile, the gaffe-prone Biden has again raised eyebrows with another story about his exploits in war zones - this time in Afghanistan. Biden said he will grill Republican rival Sarah Palin in Thursday's vice presidential debate about "the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan where my helicopter was forced down." . . .

More examples here.

WASHINGTON — When Joe Biden tells voters he understands the threat posed by Afghan extremists, he dramatically illustrates one reason why: His helicopter was "forced down" on "the superhighway of terror." Actually, snow, not the enemy, persuaded the helicopter pilot to land and wait out a storm.

The Democratic vice presidential candidate has repeatedly left that part out, in an episode that Republicans hope will become an echo of Hillary Rodham Clinton's errant tale during the primaries of landing in Bosnia under sniper fire.

Biden has made a number of questionable statements recently that, viewed in isolation, might not amount to much. But this is a man whose first presidential campaign collapsed 20 years ago after he told a story about coal miners in his family that he lifted without credit from a British politician.

In a recent speech in Virginia coal country, Biden seemed to embellish his background once again. He declared, "I am a hard coal miner," which he's not and never has been. His spokesman, David Wade, said Biden was joking.

And looking back on his 1972 Senate campaign, he told Pennsylvania delegates at the Democratic convention that people from his hometown of Scranton, Pa., piled in up to 10 buses and drove to Wilmington, Del., to show him support. "Literally," he said, "there were hundreds of thousands of people." . . .

THE COAL SPIN: In a speech at a United Mine Workers fish fry in Castlewood, Va., on Sept. 21, Biden told the miners he is one of them. "Hope you won't hold it against me, but I am a hard coal miner — anthracite coal, Scranton, Pennsylvania, that's where I was born and raised," he said.

Biden mentioned his great-grandfather, a mining engineer who became a state senator in the early 1900s.

THE FACTS: Biden was born in Scranton, moved to Delaware at age 10 and has never had experience in the mines. His father worked in the oil business and ran a Delaware car dealership. . . .

"Judging by the laughter and applause, I think it was clear to everyone under the sun that they got the joke from this son of Scranton's coal country," Wade said. An AP reporter who covered the speech said Biden's claim came across as a genial if awkwardly self-deprecating effort to establish a bond with the miners — not a joke.


More economists on Mortgage Problems

Bob Hansen at Tuck has this and this.
Jeff Miron has this.

Thanks to Jim Lagnese for the Miron link.


Why Pelosi gave the speech that she did

Pelosi wanted this all to fail. Democrats didn't push for their people to vote "yes" for the bailout bill. Here is Karl Rove's view on all this.

Powerline blog has this:

Everyone has heard about the weirdly partisan and inaccurate rant which Pelosi contributed to the debate on the bailout bill. But that speech did not take place in a vacuum. Public opinion is running strongly against the bill, and it required political courage to vote for it. If you look at the list of those who voted "No" in both parties, it is mostly members who are engaged in tough re-election campaigns. This is true on both sides of the aisle.

That being the case, and given the fact that the legislation was in fact a negotiated, bipartisan compromise, the first duty of the majority party is to line up its members to support the majority's bill. But evidence is growing that the Democrats did no such thing.

As of yesterday, the Democrats' House whip, Jim Clyburn said that he hadn't even begun "whipping" Democratic representatives, and wouldn't do so unless and until he got orders from Nancy Pelosi. Today, Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio told NPR that he never was "whipped" on the bill. So Pelosi evidently left Democrats to vote their consciences--which is to say, vote against the bill if they thought it was politically necessary--while counting on Republicans to put the bill over the top.

This is a classic Charlie Brown and the football maneuver. Pelosi gives a speech that frames the issue, falsely, as the result of bad Republican policies, then allows her own threatened representatives to do the popular thing while expecting Republicans to take one for the team by casting an unpopular vote. Which, of course, their Democratic opponents would use against them, thereby increasing the Democratic majority in the House.

UPDATE: Of course, it shouldn't be too surprising that "Poll: GOP blamed for failed bailout."


Unheaded warnings about the systemic risk posed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

At least 18 times since 2001 Democrats blocked efforts at overhauling Fannie and Freddie even as accounting scandals and executive rip offs became public.



Ed Leamer's thoughts on the Bailout Bill

Ed Leamer was one of my professors at UCLA in graduate school, someone who I learned a lot from. For those interested, here are his thoughts on the current bailout problems. It is well worth the read.

Thanks to Craig Newmark for pointing to this piece.


Democrats on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac problems

Minor aside: Congressman Ed Royce is someone who I got to know pretty well back when I was in graduate school.


New Fox News Op-ed: Why the higher unemployment rate

The new piece can be found here and starts off this way:

Many see last week’s reported spike in unemployment insurance claims as a signal of the economy’s weakness. There will be more questions this Friday when September’s unemployment numbers are released. In fact, it is a sign of Washington at work.

The number of new unemployment claims soared last week to 493,000. Fox Business’s Donna Fuscaldo spun the news as “underscoring the dour state of the U.S. economy.”

After starting to rise in early January, initial jobless claims peaked this last March. New jobless claims either fell or leveled off after that – that is until July, when they started to rise and kept on rising ever since. After leveling off in June, the unemployment rate also shot up in July and August.

So what happened? What changed in July? . . .

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Notes on the Bailout

1) No reform -- the bailout bill refuses to address any of the government regulations that caused the problem to begin with. The "private profits, socialized losses" issue will still be there.
2) Assume for a moment that the claims of panic driving down the value of assets are right, this bill isn't the right way to solve the problem. Other more direct reforms would be to get rid of the government accounting regulations. Or providing temporary bridge loans as opposed to having the government have to buy all these assets.
3) Not clear that it is needed. The claim about panic driving down the value of assets doesn't make a lot of sense. We keep on hearing that these assets are actually below their real value and that the government will make money buying these assets now and reselling them later. If so, why won't private parties around the world see the same profit opportunities?
4) Why would we be bailing out foreign financial institutions?


Georgiacarry.org appeals Judge's decision to ban guns from Atlanta Airport

The story from the AP is here:

ATLANTA (AP) -- Gun rights groups are appealing a federal judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to allow licensed gun owners to pack heat in parts of the world's busiest airport.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob tossed the lawsuit on Friday, ruling that GeorgiaCarry.org failed to prove that a new Georgia law would allow weapons into unsecured areas of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

State Rep. Tim Bearden, a Republican who co-sponsored the law, said Monday the ruling came as "no surprise" and that the advocacy group is preparing an appeal.

City of Atlanta officials, meanwhile, celebrated the judge's ruling with a statement that said the airport "will continue to remain a safe, secure, gun-free environment, for its almost 90 million passengers a year."

The legal showdown erupted when a new state law that allows people with a gun permit to carry guns into restaurants, state parks and on public transportation took effect on July 1.

Atlanta officials quickly declared the airport a "gun-free zone" and warned that anyone carrying a gun there would be arrested. GeorgiaCarry.org then sued the city and the airport, claiming that the airport qualifies as public transportation under the new state law.

City attorneys argued in court that allowing some residents to carry guns at the airport could pose a threat to passengers. Even an accidental firearm discharge, they warned, could cause mayhem. . . .

Thanks to Tony Troglio for the link.

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Was Pelosi trying to get the Republicans to vote against this bailout bill?

Apparently, most Republicans opposed the bailout in any case, but one wonders what Pelosi's motivation was to give this speech? The entire issue of Pelosi attacking the Republicans for not showing up for marking up the bill when they weren't even told where the meeting would take place is also bizarre. Calling the Republicans unpatriotic was bizarre. Despite the claims to the contrary, Republicans don't call Democrats unpatriotic. Yet, despite all the Democrats wailing about being called unpatriotic when they weren't called that here Pelosi explicitly calls Republicans unpatriotic for not showing up when they weren't even invited to the meeting.

When you listen to Pelosi's speech you really have to wonder what she was thinking. This was such a mean and partisan speech (not to mention just wrong) you almost have to believe that she did this speech to try to keep Republicans from voting for the bill.

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Congressman Rangel not cleaning up his act

The NY Post has this:

Three months after Rep. Charlie Rangel admitted he improperly converted a rent-stabilized apartment into his political campaign office - and promised to give it up - the embattled pol still has not moved out.

For the past decade, Rangel's political operation has been headquartered in a $682-a-month, one-bedroom apartment at Lenox Terrace - the same Harlem building where he has three other rent-stabilized apartments for personal use.

And even with the furor over his sweet rental deals continuing, Rangel doesn't plan to move his operations to a $4,000-a-month renovated brownstone at 193 Lenox Ave. until mid-October, according to his lawyer, Josh Galper.

The lease on the current apartment at 40 W. 135th St. expires Oct. 31.

On July 14, Rangel said he'd vacate the office, amid revelations about his cluster of rent-stabilized apartments. . . .



When a restraining order didn't work, a gun did

The story with video is available here:

Man killed after armed woman with restraining order opens fire
More Phoenix Local News
03:11 PM Mountain Standard Time on Sunday, September 28, 2008

Woman had restraining order against man

PHOENIX - A man is dead after trying to break into a woman's home and she opened fire on him.

According to police the woman had a restraining order against the man although their exact relationship is unclear.

Investigators say around 2:30 Sunday morning that man forced his way into the woman's house near 40th Avenue and Thunderbird and she was prepared

A police spokesperson tells 3TV, “The victim basically armed herself and when the suspect broke into the house the victim fired several rounds.”

Police said the woman will most likely not face any charges. The suspect's identity has not been released.


First Posner, now Harvie Wilkinson

I don't understand either Posner or Wilkinson's reasoning. The push for democracy on abortion seems radically different than the push for democracy on gun control. There is a second amendment. There is no discussion of abortion in the constitution. The Washington Post reports this:

"Heller represents a triumph for conservative lawyers. But it also represents a failure _ the Court's failure to adhere to a conservative judicial methodology in reaching its decision," Wilkinson wrote in an article to be published next year in the Virginia Law Review. "In fact, Heller encourages Americans to do what conservative jurists warned for years they should not do: bypass the ballot and seek to press their political agenda in the courts."

The bottom line is that this shows how fragile the 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision in Heller is. Not only do you have a very narrow majority, but with such extremely prominent judges as Posner and Wilkinson (two of the three most cited appeals court judges) and ones that are viewed as conservative, this produces some real fragility. I think it just provides yet more reason why the outcome of this presidential election will determine whether the Heller case has any real long term impact.

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Cholesterol and Eggs: The advice seems to be to eat as many eggs as you want

For those interested, here is a compilation of articles on the relationship between cholesterol and eggs. The newest research seems to say that one should eat as many eggs as you want to eat. In fact, some claim that eggs are actually a great way to lose weight and get excellent nutrition.


A 13 year old shows one how to shoot guns

Thanks to Scott Davis


Is Obama asking Missouri Law Enforcement to go after those who "lie" during the campaign

Is this serious? KMOV has the story about St. Louis prosecutors who are promising to bring criminal charges against people that tell lies about Obama.

UPDATE; Missouri Governor Matt Blunt responds:

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.
“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.
“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.
“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts - not a free society.”


Tony Rezko in "intense" plea negotiations with Feds

The Sun-Times has the news here:

Just weeks before he is to be sentenced, political fund-raiser Tony Rezko is in the midst of intense discussions with federal investigators, sources close to the investigation confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times.

There’s no question federal authorities are interested in Rezko, a former top adviser and fundraiser to Gov. Blagojevich, as a federal witness. But one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, warned it’s too early to call the discussions full-fledged cooperation.

Already, however, Rezko has provided information to the feds, who are in the process of vetting it, sources said.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the likelihood of Rezko’s cooperation a month ago, following accounts from various sources who saw Rezko being brought into the federal courthouse from the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Rezko had no court appearances during that time. . . . .

A few months before his conviction, Rezko wrote a letter saying prosecutors were pressuring him to give them information on Blagojevich and White House hopeful Barack Obama. At that time, Duffy told the Sun-Times that Rezko had never met with, or spoken to prosecutors. . . .

Thanks to Paul Huebl for providing me the link. His own discussion can be found here.