Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rocky Top

On Florida Saturday (anyone up for Gator meat today??), a little montage of Greatest Moments I found to get us all psyched up...


Friday, September 19, 2008

Kernell Disappearing Act?

Is it just me, or has the David Kernell story disappeared from the major press today?

We know the investigation is on, so is it mum in the press by order of the FBI and Secret Service?

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McCain's Bailout Agency

John McCain says the bailouts of major corporations must stop (he is right), but he wants to create a new government agency to "fix" bad companies before they go belly-up:

That agency, a Mortgage and Financial Institutions trust, would work with the
private sector and regulators to identify institutions that are weak and fix
them before they go broke.

Memo to the McCain camp: You are the nominee of the Republican Party. The party opposite are usually the ones who are big into the government bailout business-they have mastered the art of bailing out everyone and everything and making it look and sound perfectly acceptable. One of the biggest arguments against the present administration from members of the President's own party is that on fiscal matters, he tends to govern as though he were a Democrat.

When the government, led by either party, engages in bailouts of any kind it is a terrible risk. In the immediate timeframe, the bailout always appears as though it has "saved" something or other. The long-term consequences of nearly any bailout are often not felt for many years, but bailouts tend to reward and encourage risky behavior which is a long-term danger to the economy.

Whether he knows it or not, John McCain is proposing a giant bailout agency. It is a bad move for a Republican candidate to make.

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A Kernell of Truth?

Tennessee State Rep. Mike Kernell is mighty quiet with the Memphis Commercial Appeal about whether or not his son David was the person who hacked into Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's e-mail:

As Memphis FBI agents began to investigate the hacking of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's personal e-mail account, state Rep. Mike Kernell declined Thursday to respond to online allegations his son was responsible.

"My son's the one in question, and I can't comment on him," said Kernell, a Memphis Democrat.

In Nashville on Thursday, Rep. Kernell would neither confirm nor deny his son was involved in hacking Palin's e-mail account. Although Kernell said he was aware of claims his son was responsible, the politician would not address any of them.

"Father-son relationship," Kernell explained.

"I can't comment on my son," he repeated.

Asked if he has been contacted by investigators, Kernell responded: "Me, no."

"I can't say about my son," he added. "That doesn't mean he has or hasn't been contacted."

David Kernell, now a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, could not be reached.

An FBI and Secret Service investigation into the hacking, launched Wednesday, now involves agents in Memphis, said C.M. Sturgis, a spokesman for the Memphis FBI branch.

"All I can say is that a matter was referred to us from the Anchorage, Alaska, office. An investigation at this time is being coordinated out of FBI headquarters in the Department of Justice," Sturgis said.

Federal investigators want to speak with Gabriel Ramuglia of Athens, Ga., who operates an Internet anonymity service the hacker used. Ramuglia told The Associated Press on Thursday he was reviewing his logs and promised to turn over any helpful information

To be fair, we can't blame Mike Kernell all that much for not wishing to admit that his son is under federal investigation. Knoxville TV station WVLT is reporting that David Kernell may indeed be the target of investigation. State Representative Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) says that from what he knows of Mike Kernell, the Memphis Democrat would not approve of his son's alleged actions.

The World was told of the possible involvement of Kernell by a confidential source in Nashville roughly 30 minutes before it made the online newspaper editions of the News-Sentinel and the Commercial Appeal. The news hit the wires just as we were returning from afternoon business to write of the affair.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Was David Kernell the Hacker?

The FBI is looking into whether David Kernell, son of Memphis Democratic State Rep. Mike Kernell, may have been the Democrat responsible for hacking into Sarah Palin's e-mail.

Thank you, David Kernell and Tennessee Democrats!


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Deteriorating Decency

Desperate liberals and their allies in the world of the internet are resorting to the lowest of tactics against Alaska Governor Sarah Palin-they've now hacked into her personal e-mail:

The FBI and Secret Service have launched a joint investigation into the apparent hacking of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s private e-mail account after a widely-read Web site published screen grabs from it on

The article posted on revealed snapshots of e-mail exchanges the Alaska governor had with colleagues as well as private family photos. The gossip site says the email account has since been shut down.

The Secret Service contacted The Associated Press and asked for copies of the leaked e-mails, which circulated widely on the Internet. The AP did not comply.

It is lovely to know that the Associated Press, that guardian of freedom, apparently does not believe in protecting people's privacy. This comes after the content of another of Palin's private e-mail accounts in The Washington Post last week. How low will some of these sick people stoop?

The Gawker article boasts about the lengths to which the reporter went to verify the account, saying he or she even called a phone number listed for Palin’s teenage daughter, Bristol, which apparently went to her voicemail. The site also
listed dozens of contact e-mails from the account.

I would like to that the Obama campaign has more class than to use material that its supporters (including the national press, which is essentially an extention of Barack Obama's campaign) gleaned by hacking into people's e-mail. However, it is a sad commentary on the state of our political affairs in this nation that I can honestly say that I do not trust Obama or his surrogates to behave with the dignity and class that it would take not only to condemn this kind of action, but not to use the hacked material against his political opponents.

I would venture to say that there are many in the party opposite who also have no trust for our side in the present climate. Decency and trust between our political factions has eroded to a level rivaled only, perhaps, by the situation in 1860.

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The Deepening Financial Crisis


The worsening national fiscal and economic crisis threatens to bring down Washington Mutual. Why the federal bailout of AIG was a terrible idea. Adam Graham and Hatton Humphrey join the show. ALSO: Tennessee Democrats' "incurably uncertain" electoral practices.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Feds Take Over AIG, Embrace Socialist Economy

I am thoroughly disgusted by the news that the Federal Government is taking over AIG rather than see it collapse:

The U.S. government seized control of American International Group Inc. -- one of the world's biggest insurers -- in an $85 billion deal that signaled the intensity of its concerns about the danger a collapse could pose to the financial system.

The step marks a dramatic turnabout for the federal government, which had been strongly resisting overtures from AIG for an emergency loan or some intervention that would prevent the insurer from falling into bankruptcy. Just last weekend, the government essentially pulled the plug on Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., allowing the big investment bank to go under instead of giving it financial support. This time, the government decided AIG truly was too big to fail.

The U.S. negotiators drove a hard bargain. Under terms hammered out Tuesday night, the Fed will lend up to $85 billion to AIG, and the U.S. government will effectively get a 79.9% equity stake in the insurer in the form of warrants called equity participation notes. The two-year loan will carry an interest rate of Libor plus 8.5 percentage points. (Libor, the London interbank offered rate, is a common short-term lending benchmark.)

The final decision to help AIG came Tuesday as the federal government concluded it would be "catastrophic" to allow the insurer to fail, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Feds obviously believe that AIG's demise would precipitate a larger economic collapse because AIG is one of the largest insurers in the world. That supposition is probably true-AIG going under would lead to an immediate and almost certain catastrophe in the economy. However, the federal government has been more than a bit selective in deciding what companies it will bail and what companies shall be allowed to destroy themselves. (Oh, and Democrats should not decieve themselves into thinking that a Democratic administration would not have done the same thing.)

I realize that I am going to sound like Mr. Mean here, but I don't believe the federal government should be bailing out any of these companies, even though so many Americans are invested in them in some fashion-especially a firm like AIG. To do so encourages both companies and people to engage in the same irresponsible fiscal behavior that got our country into the present economic crisis, because it sends the message that if the company you invest in is large enough, the government will certainly bail them out of trouble.

That is not a free market economy, and it is the wrong recipe for economic recovery.

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Democrats Will Never "Get It"

The New York Times and MSNBC show once again that they neither understand Catholic teaching nor Catholic voters in their latest so-called coverage of what they deem a "Catholic divide" on the issue. They did manage to cover one real Catholic and his dilemma:

Until recently, Matthew Figured, a Sunday school teacher at the Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church here, could not decide which candidate to vote for in the presidential election.

He had watched progressive Catholics work with the Democratic Party over the last four years to remind the faithful of the party’s support for Catholic teaching on the Iraq war, immigration , health care and even reducing abortion rates.

But then his local bishop plunged into the fray, barring Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, from receiving communion in the area because of his support for abortion rights.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it very clear that those who support abortion, either directly or indirectly, commit a grave offense:

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish. 75

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. 76

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae," 77 "by the very commission of the offense," 78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. 79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2322 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice (GS 27 § 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.

In supporting aborticide, those public figures of both political parties who choose to defy the Church's teaching are accessories to the crime. The Church has made it abundantly clear that in the pantheon of social teaching and moral commandments, abortion stands at the very top of the list of things to be fought and opposed. Further, that any public figure who supports the continued legalization of abortion, no matter how they may try to mask this in their other politics, is not to be supported-period.

Contrary to what some may believe, there is no covert alliance between the U.S. Bishops and the Republican Party. No one in the Church hierarchy believes that GOP stands for "God's Own Party," nor do they think that a singular political party will press Catholic social teaching with the vigor that it deserves to be pressed. This has been a learned experience, as the Democratic Party failed the Church after many years of an informal and unwritten alliance.

The Democratic Party has chosen to walk down a path which simply excludes serious people of faith who cannot in good conscience support public figures who uphold the legalized murder of unborn children-and that is what it is. The Church does not endorse any political party, but unfortunately for the Democrats, they continue to take positions that put the Church at odds with them and make the Republicans the party of choice by default.

As usual, the Democratic Party does not care, which is why they stand to lose the votes of practicing, observant, Mass-going Catholics (who voted Republican at a rate of about 80% in 2004) yet again.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Time to Pay the Piper

This morning comes the news that the economy is officially in the tank, as Lehman Brothers officially collapsed over the weekend after the federal government refused to bail the old standby of Wall Street out of its mess. Meanwhile, Bank of America is consolidating its role as the economic Antichrist by purchasing Merrill Lynch in an all-stock deal. Merrill Lynch was, like Lehman Brothers, about to file for bankruptcy if someone didn't come to the rescue. Both Lehman and Merrill had wanted Washington to save them by guaranteeing buyers a financial cushion, and the government finally said no:

The U.S. government, which bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a week ago and orchestrated the sale of Bear Stearns Cos. to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in March, played much tougher with Lehman. It refused to provide a financial backstop to potential buyers. Without such support, Barclays PLC and Bank of America, the two most interested buyers, walked away.

Lehman was apparently in such a mess that PriceWaterhouseCoopers found Monday morning that there may not be enough funds to pay employees:

"When we were appointed this morning, quite bluntly there was no cash because of the group treasury function," Mr. Lomas said, adding that his team would tell employees as soon as possible "whether or not there are funds enough to pay." Mr. Lomas said "a couple of dozen" of Lehman employees in London have been told definitely that they no longer have jobs. The rest should know by Wednesday, he said. The Lehman insolvency will be "larger and more complex" than similar proceedings for Enron and MG Rover, Mr. Lomas said.

The feds were right not to bail out Lehman and Merrill:

Treasury and Federal Reserve officials gathered the reigning titans of Wall Street and told them that the solution to the problems some had with insufficient capital had to come from within the private sector. No such solution was forthcoming. And now there are two fewer independent investment banks. Lehman Brothers, a 158-year-old firm that started by trading cotton, is bankrupt, and the thundering herd of Merrill Lynch brokers will now answer to bosses at Bank of America.

These two giants will be missed. Even so, this was the right time for the government to draw the line.

The reality of the whole matter, of course, is that neither the federal government nor the Federal Reserve ought to be bailing any of these companies out. An argument may be able to be made for a bailout of FannieMae and FreddieMac since the federal government created those firms to begin with, but it is a precarious argument at best.

Now one of the country's biggest insurance and investment firms may be near the end of its ride. Many Americans have insurance, investments, pension plans, or 401 (k) plans insured with the investments of American International Group, or AIG. New York State gave AIG a possible $20 billion cushion yesterday, but it may not be enough to save the company:

The insurer received a $20 billion liquidity cushion when New York state said it could access funds tied up in regulated subsidiaries. AIG is also looking to secure a lending facility of as much as $75 billion arranged by J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

Investors have been growing increasingly concerned about the futures of AIG and Washington Mutual after both suffered brokerage downgrades after the markets closed Monday. AIG, which has been racing to restructure its business and raise fresh capital to avoid a downgrade of its credit ratings, lost 35% before the bell after plunging 61% Monday. Washington Mutual lost 16%.

Goldman Sachs shares slid about 10% after the firm posted a 70% drop in fiscal third-quarter net income. As the two remaining large investment banks, greater emphasis has been placed on Goldman's results and those of rival Morgan Stanley, who reports on Wednesday. With the number of big players on Wall Street dwindling, traders have said it remains to be seen where and for how much longer the ill effects of soured credit bets will continue to surface.

Lehman's bankruptcy and AIG's precarious position have prompted fears of forced selling that will lower the value of mortgage-related assets. A drop in the value of those mortgage assets could force other financial firms to write down the value of their holdings, in turn forcing them to raise cash that's not readily available.

It may be too much to ask our presidential candidates to quit demagoguing the economy, when both are ready to discuss the woes of Wall Street without admitting that those problems began because of bad credit and banking practices that began under the previous administration:

In his reaction to the Wall Street meltdown, John McCain is playing the part of Teddy Roosevelt, man of the people: Don't use taxpayer money to bail out greedy financial titans, he says, and don't be afraid to regulate Wall Street.

Barack Obama is playing the part of -- well, Barack Obama, man of change: This mess proves what I've been telling you, he's saying, that the team in charge of the economy has to get off the playing field. Oh, and I saw this coming, and they didn't.

That's the picture that emerges from the campaigns' initial reactions, and conversations with some key advisers, in the wake of Wall Street's weekend walk on the dark side.

The problems that plague major Wall Street firms actually began under the Clinton Administration. If we are going to play politics with our present economic crisis, we might as well blame the man in power when the mess began. The rotten fiscal practices that led to the current meltdown began and became common practice when Bill Clinton was residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Barack Obama will blame "Bush McCain" (What the H-ll is that? It sounds like a landscaping tool of some kind), while John McCain blames "greedy" people on Wall Street while playing a game of How to Sound Like a Liberal.

The truth is that neither Bush, McCain, or Clinton are to blame for the present crisis if we parse it down to the root. The problem which started it all was poor lending and financial practices on the part of our nation's banks and creditor institutions. Further, the American people are at least somewhat to blame (yes, I said it) for taking out credit that many of them could not afford to finance and loans at terms that no reasonable person could afford to repay. Irresponsibility on the part of banks and the public at large can have a massive and terrible economic price.

The people of this country have been living well above our collective means for entirely too long, and now the piper is calling to be paid.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

...And the Truth Could Make Him Free

Mike Faulk issued a statement Friday regarding claims that he has had an affair with a married woman on the campaign trail:

“Kelli is going through some very serious personal issues at this time.

I have deep regret for whatever part her association with me and my campaign may have played in those problems. I wish nothing but the best for her. She is a special person to me.

"Serious personal issues" is a major understatement. These issues are ones which Mike Faulk apparently had a role in creating. I don't often see eye to eye with Angelia of Rogersville on State and local political affairs (though I think she is a fine writer and I enjoy her sense of humor), but on the point of how Mike Faulk should handle this situation, she is right on the money:

See, despite our tendency to act as though we own the moral high road, we
do understand life is messy, unexpected, has jagged edges, people screw-up, make
bad decisions and chances are we’ll all be caught at least once with our ass in
a sling, hand in the cookie jar, skirt-tail in our pantyhose, husband in the
flophouse with his mistress… or mister, our kid in the jail or we might get
lucky - and just die without our good underwear on. That’s life. In life, sh-t

So, you clean it up, apologize for the smell and keep moving on. And we’re
fine with that.

I might have stated it quite a bit differently, but Angelia's basic point is that if Mike would swallow his pride and own up to his end of this completely-it takes two to tango-he might be able to survive the political storm that has resulted in part from his apparent wrongful actions. Folks aren't looking to hang Mike Faulk from a tree-I'm certainly not. What people want is an acknowledgement of the wrong and some real contrition, especially since Ms. Walker has already done her part in that department.

The Faulk camp is not only failing to do the right thing by acknowledging the relationship when nearly everyone now knows that it is factual, Mike isn't capitalizing on the reality that by doing so he could put it behind him in enough time to save his campaign. One has to wonder if Mike knows that what I've just written here is true, but Faulk's campaign folks are giving him not-so-great advice on how to handle the affair.

Mike: How about just doing the right thing, brother? The truth shall make you free.

As for Governor Ramsey and how he is dealing with this, I mean in no way to make excuses when I write that Ron Ramsey is between a rock and a hard place. I would be willing to wager a million dollars-if I had it to wager-that Ramsey and Faulk have met and discussed this, and that Ramsey privately expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms. I'd be willing to hazard an educated guess that those fundraisers for Mike Faulk that are already scheduled will go on, but no further major fundraisers that are not already in the offing will move forward unless the poll numbers show that this story will have no impact on the electorate-and that isn't very likely.

However, Ramsey's hard place isn't just that Faulk is the Republican nominee in this race, it is that he cannot endorse Mike Williams. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that Williams isn't exactly the paragon of virtue himself. Beyond that, a number of legislators will tell you, when the subject of Williams comes up, that he really is crazy. He does a wonderful job of relating to constituents back home at election time, but many of his collegues believe that he is gone in the head. One legislator told me "I don't know what we are going to do now, because Williams really is a loon," and the legislator in question doesn't owe Ron Ramsey anything.

As a result, Mike Faulk may inadvertantly be sentencing the 4th District to four more years of embarrassment. It remains to be seen whether a Faulk admission of guilt at this point would be enough to save his would have been better to tell all last week. However, coming forward with the whole truth may be Faulk's only hope of saving his campaign.

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As Missouri Goes, So Goes the Nation

This week's electoral college map shows a decided push for John McCain, and throws three key States that had previously been in Barack Obama's column into the "toss-up" column. Were the election held today, it would likely be decided in six States:
<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

In Pennsylvania, Obama's lead has shrunk to three points in Quinnipiac's poll, well within the margin of error. That means the expected easy Democratic victory in Pennsylvania could be whittling away, likely thanks in no small part to the Catholic vote in that State.

Michigan is a toss-up with four differen't polling firms getting four different and all very close results there. Three of the four polls are within the margin of error. Michigan had been leaning in favor of Barack Obama.

Obama's lead in Colorado is back within the margin of error, and in New Mexico, McCain has a two point lead. Both are toss-ups.

Nevada had Barack Obama up one as late as last week, now John McCain supposedly has a two-point kead there.

John McCain has a statistically ignorable two point lead in Virginia-the Old Dominion is still much in play.

John McCain may have Missouri locked up. The Show Me State has predicted the winner in every presidential election but one (1956) since 1904.

NOTE: The Democratic prognostication site Electoral Vote tells us that if the election were held today, McCain would have 270 electoral votes.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today, September 14, is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In honor of this great feast, I found this great video of a church organist tearin' it up on one of my favorite hymns, Lift High the Cross.

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