Thursday, October 2, 2008

Biden And Palin Square Off In St. Louis

Tonight's Vice Presidential debate may be the make or break point for John McCain's run for the White House. If Sarah Palin shows the spunk she did during the convention and campaign stops, the McCain/Palin ticket still has a chance. If, on the other hand, she acts like ABC and CBS News made her appear during heavily edited interviews, McCain will only see the inside of the Oval Office when he comes to visit President Obama.

As one of the local papers here headlined it, “Veep debate pits hockey moms against rail riders.”

Let's see how she does....


Gwen Ifill laid down the rules and conditions of the debate before introducing the candidates.

The first question went to Senator Biden, asking him about the bailout and whether it was a good or bad idea.

His response was predictable: it's all the Republicans fault, and particularly President Bush.

Palin's response: ask the parents at a kids soccer game what they think. You'll get a more accurate response about the economy, the stock market, and the bank meltdowns than you'll get from Congress or the talking heads.

Both said partisanship should be set aside, but the question is who would better be able to deal with the situation.


The next question dealt with the sub-prime lending meltdown, and who was a fault: the predatory lenders or the risk-taking borrowers?

Palin responded: “Darn right it was the predatory lenders who tried to talk Americans into thinking it was smart to buy a $300,000 house when they could only afford a $100,000 house. There was greed and corruption on Wall Street.” She played the Joe Sixpack/hockey mom card, too, sayign we should be smart and not live outside our means.

Biden: “Barack warned about sub-prime loans, and McCain promoted them.” Really? Yet there's plenty of video showing McCain speaking out against such practices and warning that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were out of control.

Palin's rebuttal: Obama had almost 100 chances to help cut taxes on the middle class, but didn't.

Biden: She didn't say anything about deregulation!

Palin: So what. I'm speaking to the American people. I know about cutting taxes and getting it back to the people.


About taxes:

Biden: Taxes are about fairness. (Excuse me? Since when are taxes about fairness? Most of the middle class doesn't pay any taxes, so how can you cut them?)

Plain: Paying higher taxes is patriotic? Better that government get out of the way and let everyone keep more of their money. Government is more often the problem and not the solution. Redistribution of wealth is not the answer.

Biden: It's about fairness! No tax cuts for businesses. More taxes on the wealthy.


Health care: I'm not sure. Biden's response jumped all over the place. He threw a lot of numbers around and I didn't record it.



Palin: Unlike Obama, I took on oil companies, broke up a monopoly and got oil companies to pay taxes they were trying to get out of. She isn't popular with oil company CEO's.

Biden: Oil companies got $4 billion in tax breaks. They make billions, which is obscene.

Palin: Obama voted for those tax breaks. We need to do everything we can to ensure our energy supplies. But East Coast politicians won't let us tap our own resources, energy we have in abundance.


Climate change:

Palin: I do not attribute every change in the climate to man's activities, much of it is part of a natural cycle. But we still need to deal with it. Our energy policies have some effect on that, exporting our pollution to other countires.

Biden: Climate change is clearly totally man made. We should be investing money in alternative energy technologies, not drilling. Ten years until first well produces a drop of oil.

Palin: We want an 'all of the above' approach to energy independence.

Biden: McCain has voted against alternative energy technologies for 20 years.


Gay rights:

Biden: I believe there should be no restrictions for gay couples when it comes to rights and privileges.

Palin: I have done what others only talk about. But I don't support gay marriage.

Biden: Neither do I.



Palin: We cannot withdraw from Iraq prematurely, but we have been slowly dropping troop levels to below surge levels. Obama voted against the surge. He wanted a non-negotiable withdrawal timetable.

Biden: McCain voted against troop funding because of the timetable.

Palin: The 16 month withdrawal was nothing more than a white flag of surrender.

Biden: McCain voted against troop funding because of the timetable. (Yes, it's a repeat, but that's what he said, three times.) McCain has been wrong about Iraq (He repeated this four times).


Bigger threat – nuclear Iran or an unstable Pakistan?

Biden: Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Iran getting them would be very destablizing. McCain says center of war against terror is Iraq, but it's in Pakistan. Attack on US won't come from Iraq. 7000 madrassas built in Pakistan. Instead should be building schools. We should go after bin Laden no matter where he's hiding.

Palin: General Petraeus and the leader of al Qaeda both agree it was the center. A nuclear Iran is far too do dangerous and unstable. Meeting with Ahmahdinejad or Kim Jong Il without conditions is not a smart thing. Israel is in jeopardy, and that can't be ignored, particularly when Iran has stated they will see it destroyed.

Biden: We should meet with our enemies! Our allies are on the same page. Former Secretaries of State agree. John McCain won't even meet with Spain, a NATO ally. (Biden keeps trying to tie McCain to Bush, implying McCain is no different than Bush.)

Palin: How is it that McCain, who has gone against Bush on many levels, is no different than Bush?


Use of nuclear weapons:

Palin: Rogue nations should not have such weapons. We should do what we can to deny them that type of weapon.

Biden: Afghanistan: Surge will not work in Afghanistan. We haven't spent nearly enough in Afghanistan as we have in Iraq. Nuclear: McCain voted against every anti-nuclear strategy.



Biden: Supported interventionism in Bosnia, thought going into Iraq a mistake but supported President, should go into Darfur to prevent genocide.

Palin: I guess I am a Washington outsider because I don't understand how you can vote for war before you voted against it. If you voted for it, explain why you did.

Biden: There is a line that must be drawn to prevent genocide. Iraq was wrong.

Palin: I disagree in regards to Iraq being wrong, but the handling of it was wrong.


If had to take over presidency:

Biden: God forbid it should come to that, but I would carry out Obama's policies, including replacement of the Bush Doctrine. This is the most important election since 1932!!

Palin: Heaven forbid, indeed! What do you expect from a team of mavericks? I would continue to do his work, putting government back on the side of the people, and get rid of corruption in Washington and Wall Street. We need to bring a bit of reality from Wasilla's Main Street brought to Washington DC so that people there can understand how the average working class family is viewing bureaucracy and the federal government and Congress and the inaction in Congress. Get out of our way!


At this point I was falling farther behind and couldn't keep up, so I didn't try.

My impression? I think Palin did well. As one of her Democratic opponents in Alaska warned Joe Biden, “She's in her element in debates, so do not underestimate her. She'll hand you your head and you'll wonder what happened.” She came across as the average American woman, the neighbor everyone likes, the type you want to invite over for a cookout.

Biden, on the other hand, came across as the 30+ year career politician he is. He was slick. He used many of the Washington buzz words and phrases we've all heard throughout darn near every presidential campaign. He was sincere, lawyerly, senatorial, even at times I believed he was wrong.

My call: Palin took this one, but she did not overwhelm Biden. But I think she proved she was “one of us” and not a Washington insider. I think we need someone from outside the Washington power elite to come to town, point out the things that seem stupid by saying, “Whoa! Look at that!s Isn't that silly?”

Credit Crisis? What Credit Crisis?

I keep hearing the media going on and on about how credit has dried up and loans aren't available for anyone, anywhere. That may be true in New York, Washington DC, and maybe host of other large cities throughout the nation. But it doesn't seem to be the case outside the big cities.

Most of the banks in smaller cities and outlying towns haven't seen the problems the bigger banks have been suffering. That's certainly true here in New Hampshire where local banks have reported they're not having any problems in regard to liquidity or providing credit.

As the national media continues to focus on what it is calling a credit crisis in the United States, local banks — which continue to lend money and grow their loan portfolios — are asking "what credit crisis?"

Neither Mark Primeau, president of Laconia Savings Bank, nor Sam Laverack, executive vice president of Meredith Village Savings Bank, denies that there is a problem on Wall Street — which Congress is currently attempting to fix through a $700 billion bailout.

But as they've been saying for weeks, Primeau and Laverack on Tuesday again stressed that "Main Street" banks are doing just fine, both in New Hampshire and especially here in the Lakes Region.

Those opinions are shared by New Hampshire Banking Commissioner Peter Hildreth, who pronounced that Granite State financial institutions are "safe and sound."

"When I talk to bankers and credit union folks, I hear a lot of them have been writing a record number of loans," said Hildreth, who is a Laconia native. "They're filling the voids left by some folks, the ones who caused the problems."

The local banks learned the lesson of overreaching themselves back in the early 1990's.

Back then the economy went into recession and the hot housing market collapsed, leading to the failure of five major New Hampshire banks when mortgages went unpaid and foreclosures were far more common than sales. During the housing boom, mortgages were seemingly handed out much like toilet paper by a bathroom attendant, and people were buying grossly overpriced houses and condos. When the recession hit, a lot of people with big mortgages, or even worse, were upside down on their mortgages, handed the keys to the bank and said “Good luck!” At its worse, some real estate values fell 60%, and the foreclosure rate climbed. During that time it wasn't uncommon to see twenty pages of foreclosure auctions in the Thrusday edition of the statewide newspaper. At one one point the Resolution Trust Company had over $1.3 billion (in 1992 dollars) of New Hampshire real estate to dispose of. They had to auction them off a few at a time, otherwise the already bad real estate market would have ceased to exist.

This time the local banks weren't so foolish. They didn't offer mortgages for 120% of the value of the home, didn't give sub-prime or interest-only mortgages, made sure the people applying for loans actually had the ability to pay them back, and very few, if any, borrowed money from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in order to finance risky mortgages. In other words, they didn't gamble with their depositors' money.

It's not just here that's seeing plenty of credit available to borrowers. In this report from NPR, the local bank in Floyd County, Virginia is in the same condition as the banks around here, having been very conservative with their depositors' money. They didn't fall into the trap that pushed so many larger banks to the brink and beyond.

To prove the credit crisis and the status of the economy is being overblown by the MSM, and Nancy Pelosi's claim the economy is the worst shape than during the Clinton Administration, Bob Krumm put their claims to the test and found they must be talking about some other country. (H/T Instapundit)

To test Nancy Pelosi’s hypothesis that after eight years of President Bush the economy is in far worse shape than it was under President Clinton at a time of “budget surpluses,” I went to Lending Tree to see what kind of mortgage terms I could get to buy my first home today.

So what kind of offer did I get today in the midst of this horrible financial crisis? I got four offers, the lowest of which was a 15-year fixed-rate VA mortgage of 6.0%, zero points and zero down, yielding a monthly payment of $948.20. Yes, that’s right, as bad as everyone says the economy is today, I can get the same mortgage as I had twelve years ago for about $250 a month less than I was paying 12 years ago in the midst of a “great” economy.

First, he was able to find a mortgage with little problem. Second, it was with better terms than his original mortgage 12 years ago. Hmm. That doesn't sound like a credit crisis or bad economy to me. But then, I'm not an economist or a member of the MSM, so what do I know?

Obviously, a lot more than they do.