621 Days until Election Day
February 19, 2009
OBAMA’S WAR…Barack Obama, whose presidential ambitions were launched by his opposition to one war, moved Tuesday to expand the U.S. deployment in another. Despite no presidential verbal statement about the troop increase to Afghanistan and despite the fact the president spent all day in Phoenix talking about housing, it’s the issue of Afghanistan that is starting to dominate the news. After all, the addition of 17,000 troops by the summer is a 50% increase in the U.S. commitment. The announcement of the 50% troop increase came without any presidential explanation or new policy announcement. And that’s got some anti-war advocates very upset. More “change” we can count on? http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-02-17-afghanistan-forces_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip
Once again, Obama’s campaign “anti-war” rhetoric doesn’t seem to match the “change” he promised. Folks may not be mad yet, but clearly many are disappointed in the politics as usual.
EFCA – CARD CHECK…With successful passage of the $787 billion stimulus package in their rearview mirror, organized labor is returning to their top political priority: convincing Congress and the President to pass and sign the Employee Free Choice Act, or card check, which removes to the right to a secret ballot to organize and direct negotiations on the terms and conditions of employment.
The grassroots field campaign of the unions continues to be gradually ratcheted up; events will be held in 16 states. And labor is working closely together: the state-based events are being done in complete coordination between AFL-CIO, Change to Win, and SEIU, who will be working in total coordination to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
Talk about a job killer program…at a time we can least afford these union boss’s games.
COMMENTARY & ARTICLES COMING TO AN END…this Friday will be my last “Articles of Interest” and collection of top political clips. I am in the process of creating my own private webpage where I will continue to post regular commentaries and share articles of interest…but not daily and no compilation of clips. I hope to have an address by tomorrow…still called “That’s Saul, Folks!”.
THAT’S SAUL FOLKS!…starting next week, I will have my own blog where you can follow my commentary and activities as I move on. The new site will be at www.thatssaulfolks.com and will be up and running next week. Let’s keep in touch!
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FACEBOOK...is a great "social networking" tool that many Republicans are using. This is particularly popular with College Republicans, TeenAge Republicans and Young Republicans. If you would like to become a "friend" join me here. To join the Michigan Republicans, you can join here.
MRP STATE CONVENTION…Just a quick note to let you know that the Michigan Republican’s website has been updated with State Convention information. For your reference in directing potential delegates to the site, the address is: http://www.migop.org/event.asp.
CPAC 2009 Timeless Principles, New Challenges…Register today for the largest gathering of conservative grassroots activists in the country! The American Conservative Union Foundation is pleased to invite you to participate in the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives. The 36th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held on February 26-28, 2009.
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TODAY’S TOP STORIES
The following stories and more are available at my Articles of Interest online.
By Steven Malanga
When President Obama announces Washington’s new plan to help troubled mortgage-holders today, the betting is that the program will include a loan-modification effort that reduces the size of a besieged homeowner’s debt. One goal would be to cut the size of loans and perhaps also their interest rate so that a mortgage holder’s monthly payment would equal no more than 31 percent of his pre-tax income. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already been experimenting with an income-to-payment ratio of 38 percent in their loan modification efforts, but Washington wants to go further, indeed probably needs to go further, if it is to stem the tide of defaults.
There is a great irony that Washington will now lead the way in imposing new, stricter standards, including a tougher income-to-payment ratio, because it was Washington, prodded by affordable housing advocates, which pushed mortgage lenders to dilute their traditional underwriting values in the first place. Federal regulators attacked those established standards as being “unintentionally biased” against low and moderate income borrowers and used a variety of laws and regulatory bodies to push often resistant lenders into programs based on these lower standards. The government and those who backed its actions assured lenders these lower standards were safer than they thought, even though there was little research to support that contention. Now that a huge chunk of the market based on these debased standards has melted down, the government is going full circle.
by Declan McCullagh
(CBS) In financial and investing circles, it is an article of faith that investors abhor uncertainty. Measurable risks are fine, but unknown risks can be deadly.
Unfortunately, both the Bush and Obama administrations are responsible for injecting a staggering amount of uncertainty into the world’s financial markets. If you’ve given up opening your 401(k) statements, or this week’s dismal stock market news has postponed your retirement, thank your elected officials for their contribution to this situation.
Since September 2008 — a mere five months ago — the Feds let Lehman Brothers fail while seizing control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and rescuing insurance giant AIG. It temporarily suspended investors’ ability to bet on price declines in some stocks, but not others. It has bailed out some failing companies and ignored the pleas of others.
By Cathy Young
February is the cruelest month – at least for Barack Obama. After the very real sense of hope and renewal that surrounded Obama’s inauguration, shared even by many who did not vote for him, came the morning after. First, another scandal over unpaid taxes took down Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle. Then came the acrimonious battle over the stimulus bill, with a victory that may or may not turn out to be a Pyrrhic one.
In some corners of the right where Obama Derangement Syndrome has been as fierce as the similar Bush-related malady on the left, these new developments have been viewed as justifying the worst of fears about Obama: a phony and a commie. In recent days, far-right websites have psychoanalyzed Obama’s alleged hatred of America and free enterprise and suggested that he may be (I kid you not) a well-groomed Soviet plant. In fact, so far, Obama’s policies are those of a mainstream liberal-to-centrist Democrat. He is no dangerous radical and no idealistic bringer of change. And, while he is a gifted and usually smooth communicator, he is neither a messiah who can lead us into a glorious future nor a pied piper who can lure us to perdition with seductive words.
Obama banked a great deal of his credibility on the stimulus package, and his appeals managed to improve public opinion of the legislation during the Congressional wrangling. Yet a Rasmussen poll of likely voters conducted on February 14-15 found that only 38% thought the bill would help the economy, and 29% thought it would hurt. Albeit by a small margin (35% to 32%), Americans said that they would be less, rather than more, likely to vote for a member of Congress who supported the bill.
Melinda Deslatte / Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. — A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with record foreclosures and soaring unemployment.
Though none has outright rejected the money available for education, health care and infrastructure, the governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho have all questioned whether the $787 billion bill signed into law this week will even help the economy.
"My concern is there’s going to be commitments attached to it that are a mile long," said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who considered rejecting some of the money but decided Wednesday to accept it. "We need the freedom to pick and choose. And we need the freedom to say ‘No thanks.’ "
Gary Heinlein / Detroit News Lansing Bureau
LANSING –Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, announced Wednesday he has formed an exploratory committee to consider running for state attorney general in 2010.
The 41-year old Bishop, who will complete his second and final Senate term that year, said he’ll spend the next two months talking with state leaders and gauging the support he could expect.
The current attorney general, Mike Cox, can’t seek re-election under the state’s term limits law and is considering a run for governor.
BY Judson Berger
President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.
The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine — a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.
"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told FOXNews.com.
by Rick Haglund | Detroit Bureau
Viability plans submitted Tuesday by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to the Obama administration, raise serious questions about whether the two troubled automakers can be viable at all.
Chrysler is asking for an additional $2 billion from the federal government above the $7 billion it already requested and says it will need a check from Uncle Sam for $5 billion by March 31 to stay alive.
Tom Krisher • Associated Press
DETROIT – The United Auto Workers union and Detroit’s three automakers reached a tentative agreement on contract concessions Tuesday, about the same time General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC filed restructuring plans to justify government loans.
But the union was unable to make a deal with GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. on funding for a trust fund that will take over retiree health care costs starting next year.
Terms of the deal were not announced, but they were expected to eliminate the jobs bank in which laid-off workers get most of their pay, as well as make work rule and other changes that the government loan terms set out so the companies’ labor costs are competitive with their Japanese counterparts that have U.S. factories.
By LARA JAKES
WASHINGTON (AP) – The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan offered a grim view Wednesday of military efforts in southern Afghanistan, warning that 17,000 new troops will take on emboldened Taliban insurgents who have "stalemated" U.S. and allied forces.
Army Gen. David McKiernan also predicted that the bolstered numbers of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan – about 55,000 in all – will remain near those levels for up to five years.
Still, McKiernan said, that is only about two-thirds of the number of troops he has requested to secure the war-torn nation.