Friday, September 26, 2008

The Affirmative Action Economic Meltdown


Arthur Hu / Hu’s on First Asian Week September 26, 2008

I thought I’d never live to see my bank go bust. Wamu? Boo Hoo! Back in 1999, Fannie Mae first introduced rules for sub-prime loans to increase minority homeownership and boost profits. The government subsidized corporation was founded as part of the New Deal in 1938 before it was spun off in the 1960s. Once a monopoly, it still has about half the market of reselling mortgages backed with guarantees of payment. At the time, economists warned that relaxed lending rules might lead to a giant failure that would have to be bailed out by the government if the real estate market cooled like it did in the 1980s. [1]

As we all know, that just happened as Uncle Sam took Fannie Mae back. Talk about obscene executive pay, over $100 million was spent on the paychecks of just three Democrats. James Johnson, who was briefly on Obama’s VP committee, earned $21 million in just one year of being CEO for 7 years. Obama’s housing policy advisor Franklin Raines earned $90 million in his five years as CEO, and Jamie Gorelick earned $26 million as vice chairman, even as Raines and other top executives were caught using accounting tricks to trigger massive bonuses and understate their pay.

It was left wing meddling inspired by affirmative action that led to politically correct credit decisions. As Ann Coulter put it, “They gave your mortgage to a less qualified minority”. The Clinton administration investigated Fannie Mae for discrimination. Ending “redlining” of minority neighborhoods became the new crusade, even if factors such as credit histories, job stability, loan-to-value ratios and income levels were completely different between communities. It was urged that half of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of low / moderate income borrowers by 2001.

Discriminatory criteria such as credit history and down payment ability would become less important, as welfare and unemployment payments would be counted, and “stated income” allowed borrowers to make up their own income, whether it was backed up by a cash business or nothing but thin air. People were rewarded for signing up loans, not for making sure they would be repaid when they were resold. When G.W. Bush entered office, his economist warned that loans to under-qualified borrowers created a risk for the entire financial system. In 2003, Treasury Secretary John Snow proposed oversight with strict controls over risk and capital reserves.

When Senator John McCain joined the fight for reform of corruption, the effort was stopped by Democrats such as Barney Frank who stated there was no financial crisis at Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac, and such pressure would reduce affordable housing. As McCain observed that Obama collected the 2nd highest amount of Fannie and Freddie contributions in his short career, “Senator Obama may be taking their advice and he may be taking their money but I want to tell you in a McCain/Palin administration, there will be no seat for these people at the policy making table.”

Whatever the proper role government has in cleaning up this mess, one thing must be clear. A diverse nation cannot commit to spend whatever it takes to put everybody in a solar house and hybrid car, all-you-can-eat medical coverage, college, preschool, and high test scores for all. Yet this is precisely what Obama promised to do at the debate. Only John McCain committed to fight to control spending which threatens the entire American economy with imploding so badly that no one will be able to will bail out Uncle Sam. Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending By STEVEN A. HOLMES Published: September 30, 1999

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Transcript of Tiny Fey Palin Clinton Saturday Night Live Sketch

The transcript of the Palin-Clinton sketch is below:
FEY AS PALIN: "Good evening, my fellow Americans. I was so excited when I was told Senator Clinton and I would be addressing you tonight."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And I was told I would be addressing you alone."
FEY AS PALIN: "Now I know it must be a little bit strange for all of you to see the two of us together. What with me being John McCain's running mate."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And me being a fervent supporter of Senator Barack Obama -- as evidenced by this button."
FEY AS PALIN: "But tonight we are crossing party lines to address the now very ugly role that sexism is playing in the campaign."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "An issue which I am frankly surprised to hear people suddenly care about."
FEY AS PALIN: "You know, Hillary and I don't agree on everything..."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: (OVERLAPPING) "Anything. I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy."
FEY AS PALIN: "And I can see Russia from my house."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "I believe global warming is caused by man."
FEY AS PALIN: "And I believe it's just God hugging us closer."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "I don't agree with the Bush Doctrine."
FEY AS PALIN: "I don't know what that is."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "But Sarah, one thing we can agree on is that sexism can never be allowed to permeate an American election."
FEY AS PALIN: "So please, stop photoshopping my head on sexy bikini pictures."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And stop saying I have cankles."
FEY AS PALIN: "Don't refer to me as a 'MILF.'"
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "And don't refer to me as a 'FLURJ.' I Googled what it stands for and I do not like it."
FEY AS PALIN: "So we ask reporters and commentators, stop using words that diminish us, like 'pretty,' 'attractive,' 'beautiful.'"
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "'Harpy,' 'shrew' and 'boner shrinker.'"
FEY AS PALIN: "While our politics may differ, my friend and I are both very tough ladies. You know it reminds me of a joke we tell in Alaska..."What's the difference...
FEY AS PALIN: "...between a hockey mom..."
FEY AS PALIN: "...and a pitbull?"
FEY AS PALIN(AFTER A BEAT): "Lipstick. Just look at how far we've come. Hillary Clinton, who came so close to the White House. And me, Sarah Palin, who is even closer. Can you believe it, Hillary?"
FEY AS PALIN: "It's truly amazing and I think women everywhere can agree, that no matter your politics, it's time for a woman to make it to the White House."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "No. Mine! It's supposed to be mine! I need to say something. I didn't want a woman to be President. I wanted to be President and I just happen to be a woman. And I don't want to hear you compare your road to the White House to my road to the White House. I scratched and clawed through mud and barbed wire and you just glided in on a dog sled wearing your pageant sash and your Tina Fey glasses."
FEY AS PALIN:"What an amazing time we live in. To think that just two years ago, I was a small town mayor of Alaska's crystal meth capitol. And now I am just one heartbeat away from being President of the United States. It just goes to show that anyone can be President."
FEY AS PALIN: "All you have to do is want it."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: (LAUGHS) "Yeah, you know, Sarah, looking back, if I could change one thing, I should have wanted it more." (RIPS OFF PIECE OF PODIUM)
FEY AS PALIN: "So in the next six weeks, I invite the media to be vigilant for sexist behavior."
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "Although it is never sexist to question female politicians credentials. Please ask this one about dinosaurs. So I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine."
FEY AS PALIN: And as we say in Alaska...
POEHLER AS CLINTON: "We say it everywhere..."
FEY/POEHLER: "Live from New York, It's Saturday Night!!!
“Saturday Night Live” is from SNL Studios in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels. Steve Higgins produces. Marci Klein and Mike Shoemaker are producers. Seth Meyers is head writer. Don Roy King directs.
Palin updo beehive

The Upshot on Palin and Her Updo

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

LOCAL COLOR Jessica Steele of the Beehive salon, where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been a client.

Published: September 12, 2008

THE customer has always been listed in the salon’s appointment book as “Sarah P.”

Enlarge This Image

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Jessica Steele started the Beehive salon in the garage of her home.

Enlarge This Image

Courtesy Jessica Steele

Jessica Steele with Gov. Sarah Palin, started the Beehive salon in the garage of her home. Mrs. Steele, who helped with the candidate’s updo, says the governor is very involved in her look.

Enlarge This Image

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

PINK STATE The Beehive salon in Wasilla, Alaska.

“We would talk about pedicures and manicures and moose and politics, all while Sarah was having foils in her hair and holding my baby on her lap,” said Jessica J. Steele, the owner of the Beehive Beauty Shop in Wasilla, Alaska, where Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, has visited over the last six years, most recently in July, refining her much-discussed updo.

Hair, of course, is never just about the hair. Intentionally or not, hairstyles help answer the voters’ throw-down question: “Who does she think she is?”

Hillary Clinton struggled for years to achieve hair credibility. Now Ms. Palin’s upsweep is being praised and derided across the Internet. Do her bun and bangs signal that Ms. Palin does not want to attract attention to her appearance — even as she wants to remain presentably attractive?

Of course, a hairstyle may not tell you about her views on universal health care. But how Ms. Palin honed her image can be glimpsed at the Beehive, a tiny pink-collar haven in Wasilla, a mountain-rimmed community of less than 10,000.

According to Mrs. Steele and another Beehive employee, Ms. Palin has patronized the shop since at least 2002 (the McCain-Palin campaign did not reply to e-mail inquiries, but an assistant in the governor’s office in Juneau said that there was back and forth between the shop and the governor).

The ballerina-pink Beehive, in a 1,400-square-foot ranch house, is a cut-and-color shop. A haircut is $30, discounted to $20 if you get the $95 color treatment. In a downstairs nursery, the stylists’ babies play with mannequin heads. In a phone interview, Mrs. Steele, 37, described a kind of “Steel Magnolias” on permafrost, featuring Ms. Palin as a recurring presence.

Ms. Palin’s appointments were multitasking events, Mrs. Steele recounted. The governor would sit in full foil, checking her BlackBerry, writing speeches and chatting with customers as her daughter Piper played nearby.

“Brooke, my manager, is always telling hunting stories with Sarah,” Mrs. Steele said. “Brooke is a cute blond babe, but she wants to get a bigger grizzly than her husband got last year.” (For the record, Brooke Mongeau said her husband’s grizzly was nine and a half feet.)

As Mrs. Palin became a public figure, Mrs. Steele said, she gave more thought to her image.

“She’s very involved in her look and how she’s perceived,” Mrs. Steele said. “We would talk a lot about how if she looked too pretty or too sexy, people wouldn’t listen to her. How important it was for people to see her as an intelligent, smart woman. It was comical when her hair was down, how big a difference that would make, especially when she was running for governor.”

With more-established salons throughout the valley, the Beehive would seem a surprising choice for Wasilla’s then-mayor. Mrs. Steele started the salon in 1997 when she, a recently separated mother of two, put a salon chair in her garage and painted the interior Barbie pink.

Mrs. Steele relied on word of mouth through local congregations: “We’re all really strong Christians in this shop.”

Around 2000, the mayor called, needing rescue from a bad color job. Back then, Mrs. Steele recalled, Ms. Palin often wore her hair loose. “She’d just say, ‘Whatever is quick and easy, let’s just roll up our sleeves and get this going.’ ”

Eventually, Mrs. Steele suggested that Ms. Palin put up her hair because “Sarah wanted to look more professional and ready to work and not come across as high maintenance and fussy.”

The updo had another benefit. “Sarah’s short,” Mrs. Steele said, and wanted to look taller in front of cameras.

When Mrs. Steele heard that Ms. Palin was running for governor, Mrs. Steele called her: “Let’s get you all picked up for campaigning!”

The two experimented with full bangs, side-swept bangs, clips, curls, twists and blond streaks. “We just kept polishing her look,” Mrs. Steele said. “We would try more warm, red and coppery highlights or more of a contrast with pale highlights, not to be severe but just more striking.”

Over the years, Mrs. Steele said, their lives have intertwined. Ms. Palin attended Mrs. Steele’s bridal shower; this spring, the five “Beehive Beauty Shop girls” were invited to a baby shower for Ms. Palin’s son. Hairdresser and client belong to Wasilla Bible Church.

During Palin appointments, Mrs. Steele, divorced and financially stressed, confided in her client. “Sarah was always saying that God was in control and to have faith that there is a reason for everything,” Mrs. Steele said. “We would say it together.”

Mrs. Steele became engaged. In June 2006, Ms. Palin attended her bridal shower, presenting her with a bright red coffeepot.

“When she became governor,” Mrs. Steele said, “she still came to my small salon in my small town to get her hair done, instead of Anchorage, the big city” — an hour’s drive away. Mrs. Steele gave birth to her third child and began bringing the baby to the Beehive. When Ms. Palin asked how she was doing, Mrs. Steele burst into tears, overwhelmed by competing needs.

“Sarah said: ‘If you love what you do, if you were a stay-at-home mom, a part of you would miss what you love. And if you were at work, you’d miss your kids,’ ” she recalled. Ms. Palin told her “not to make excuses for why I am not a stay-at-home mom or have my kids at the shop.”

When Mrs. Steele expressed frustration with her industry, Ms. Palin told her to stop complaining and “run for something!” (She didn’t.)

Mrs. Steele’s fourth pregnancy overlapped with Mrs. Palin’s fifth. “She kept it quiet,” Mrs. Steele said. “But I remember her hair was acting different. And I thought, ‘Something is going on!’ ”

For the May baby shower for Trig Palin, the Beehive women filled a basket overflowing with homemade gifts: baby blankets, including one sewn from material with salmon and moose designs, and a breast-feeding blanket. In camouflage.

RIGHT before the Labor Day weekend, Ms. Palin’s office left a message, but Mrs. Steele’s attempts to return it were in vain. Days later, she learned why Ms. Palin had been so hard to reach.

Since then, she has observed Ms. Palin’s hair evolution. She approves: “Me and the girls at the salon were saying we’ll probably not see her anymore because she is on a whole different level. And she’ll make a huge difference. But a part of us is like: ‘Ohhhh, we’ll miss her. We won’t have our woman pep rally in the salon.’ ”


Monday, September 01, 2008

AsianWeek/ Obama: A Cliche is a Terrible Thing to Waste
Arthur Hu for AsianWeek 9/1/2008


Blogger Taylor Marsh proclaimed Obama's speech was "unmatched ... in U.S. history", and "met Martin Luther King, Jr." What a load of bitter melon. There is nothing post-partisan about blasting Bush with "Eight is Enough", an old 70s TV show. A cliche is a terrible thing to waste. His warm up speaker already used up the Einstein insanity quote. Compare that with "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live..." King did not undermine John F. Kennedy's commitment in Vietnam to "bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe". It was George W Bush, not Obama who proclaimed "We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail" after 9/11. Bold leadership is driving Al Queda out of Afghanistan, not leaving Iraq. Obama's "Ich bin ein Berliner" and "Tear Down This Wall" was "we have not lived up to our best intentions".

Obama can "End dependence on oil in ten years" by raising gas prices well above the $10 a gallon it already costs in Europe. Offering the expensive Congressional health plan to everybody is brilliant. Michelle never mentioned her $200,000 raise to "outreach" to tell the uninsured to not use her hospital. Folks, nothing Obama will EVER say will hold a candle to best of MLK, JFK, the Gipper or even George W. Bush.

Sarah WHAT?

McCain is playing Obama's game when Palin stole the headlines from THE SPEECH. He's got the Democrats complaining how McCain can run somebody like Alaska Governor Sara Palin for VP that rivals Obama in youth and inexperience. But instead of soaring rhetoric, she's got a solid track record of shaking up government of a state that now adores her. Compared to Hillary's wooden "as I recall we did it before", and Michelle Obama's contrite celebration of how proud she is of America (now), Sarah's honest speech was a breath of fresh air. Palin was Alaska's youngest as well its first woman governor. Her 3AM wake up call was to hunt for moose with her folks. "Sarah Barracuda" played a mean game of high school basketball. She was runner-up for Miss Alaska, a TV sports reporter, and she worked with her steelworker husband summers in commercial fishing, and went back to work 3 days after giving birth. So far, everything I've heard about her I like. She didn't have to quit a hate-spewing church, pretend she was never a Muslim, or apologize for ex-terrorist friends. A real-life Wonder Woman who is proud to own guns, hunt, fish, owns a float plane and doesn't think it's her above her pay grade to declare that life starts at conception is a leader we can believe in, not a man who sells the magic words "hope" and "change".