by Ed Mattson
For more than 12 months now we have been working on a new website which will help voters get a handle on the candidates running for national office. There are thousands of websites on the Internet that provide information about the candidates, many with an obvious bias, but also many that are non-partisan. Our goal was to build a site which would provide links that would help sift through all the information and provide:
- Voting record of the incumbents
- Sources which provide funding for their re-election bid (follow the money)
- The key committee memberships each holds
- A link to their personal website (s)
- Photograph of the candidate
- Political party platforms
- PLUS information on the Executive and Legislative branches of government
As to the challengers, it was far more difficult to dig up information that would be of value in judging how they might vote if they were elected, but we have provided the key referral websites, photo (if available), and information leading to the sources of their funding.
We felt an appropriate name for the site would be www.yourmilitaryvoter.us, and hoped to have it completed in time so our troops overseas who may not be privy to all the information we are fed every day, would have a way to find valid information on the candidates. We had to hustle, relying on all Veterans, Veteran network programs, and social media to complete the project and now have to spread the word about the website. We hope that armed with the facts, Veterans and others can make their votes count, particularly our troops overseas who may not have the access to information we have here at home.
We have read however, that there has been an effort to hinder the voting process for those stationed out of the country as many states have restricted voter registration and voting deadlines in their states. This is not fair to those defending our right to vote, and we must all voice our outrage over any attempt to limit the military vote.
Here’s some of the details about our website and why it should be read by anyone headed to the polls to vote. Many of us have never read a complete “party platform”. The party platform is a set of standards that the major political parties adopt at their National Convention which determines how the party stands on individual issues…foreign aid, abortion, education, Veteran’s issues, defense, etc. Since the incumbents have voting records to verify how they stand on a particular issue, understanding how they will vote on future issues is pretty easy to determine, however, a challenger may not be so easy to pin down; Hence the need to refer to the political party platform.
As most of us have learned from years of elections, listening to candidates, and then tracking them through the course of their political careers, we don’t always get what we bargained for. Many major decisions are influenced by special interest lobbyists, which always have money to spread around to the political coffers of those in office. The longer a politician is in office, the more likely they are to bend to the influence of money. The Supreme Court has ruled that that campaign donations equal “freedom of speech”, and therefore money has become the greatest problem we face and the most difficult problem to overcome. It has also become the biggest stumbling block to altering the status quo and to rid Congress and other elected officials from office.
Listed on our website are the platforms of the political parties that we were able to find. On the smaller parties, we couldn’t find much other than “propaganda” as spelled out on their websites, so we decided it was better to substitute that information rather than go without. Other parties like the Socialists and the Communist Parties have stated their positions which have become fairly well known. I don’t believe anyone in the US could name all 54 political parties we have inside the borders of our country…that’s right; I said 54! They are all listed under the “Reference Websites” link of www.yourmilitaryvoter.us. Check ’em out and see the positions of those voting for and against you.
While I will always question government, I hope every person, before going into the voting booth, will ask themselves, “if the 2008 financial meltdown was the largest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression”, why did a President, hired to solve the nation’s collapsing financial stability waste $5 trillion dollars of taxpayer, money run off on a tangent to force Obamacare (now estimated to cost near $2.7 Trillion) down our throats, dump a trillion dollars into “shovel-ready jobs” (which Mr. Obama later said “weren’t so shovel ready”), invested hundreds of billions of dollars into 16 failed green energy boondoggles to reward campaign contributors, and issued a mindboggling 140 executive orders to put burden after burden on the private sector economy. The true and ONLY focus should have been job creation, which is the only way out of the hole!
What we are left with is an economy that is stagnant and includes 24 million unemployed or underemployed, $40,000 devaluation of family wealth, 47 million people on food stamps (15% of the total population), and the average wage of those working lowered by $4500 per year. We have no leadership in Washington and an economy quickly resembling the failed economies of Europe, and with most American feeling our best days are behind us.
Throughout the year I have written about the importance of the 2012 election. We are a divided nation. In 2008, the voters loudly proclaimed “we want change”, and elected Barack Obama as President. With total control over the government…a super majority in the Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives, we have seen government run a muck. Certainly the events leading up to the financial meltdown in 2008 didn’t happen overnight but with origins starting in the Clinton Presidency years and compounded by the Bush Presidency. The meltdown started with the really dumb idea that “everyone deserved to purchase a house”, whether they could afford it or not.
Most of us have not heard about GSE’s, and much of the finger pointing needs to be pointed in that direction. What are GSE’s? Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) which essentially control the mortgage market. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae are the three main GSEs. When someone gets a mortgage from a bank or mortgage broker, that lender can hold the mortgage, but more often sells it to a GSE.
The best analysis I was able to find and one which cuts to the chase of the problem is by T.J. Hancock (Cornell University). His analysis is said to be, by far and away, the best of the best in easy-to-understand language of how our country got into the mess we are in today. It will also help us to understand how failure to address the real culprits of the meltdown doomed the era of Hope and Change to the “scrap-heap of history”.
“GSEs get the money to buy mortgages from selling bonds to investors…you, me, mutual funds, etc. Because GSEs are linked to the US federal government, which has the safest credit rating in the world (currently), investors buy those bonds while demanding low interest payments in return. Someone who gets a mortgage pays much higher interest rates than GSEs do. GSEs therefore raise money at low rates and purchase mortgages that pay higher rates. They keep some of the mortgages, and resell the rest just as the banks did with them. One big difference… when Fannie Mae, for example, resells a mortgage it has purchased — it typically guarantees the payments. Whether Fannie keeps the mortgages, or guarantees and resells them, it assumes the risks that the mortgage holder may not be able to repay, or that the interest rate environment could change, leaving it stuck with worse-than-market payment terms”.
So it is time for all of us to put away the canned sales pitches we hear every day from politicians; the spin we get from radio talk-show hosts and political parties; and get our heads out of the sand. Now that we are $16 trillion dollars in debt as a nation and headed over the financial cliff, we can easily see that government is not the solution but that government is the cause of the problem.
Before everyone gets into a tizzy that this is some right wing rant, let’s start with the premise that the financial meltdown could not have happened had WE THE PEOPLE not been so damn greedy, and I mean ALL THE PEOPLE.
From those complicit in obtaining mortgages they couldn’t afford, to the realtors reaping commission from the escalating value of homes they were selling, to excessive bonuses paid to bankers who were “doctoring the credit applications”, to the builders building homes at ridiculously inflated prices, to the Wall Street Fat Cats who were packaging mortgages, and to the political hacks who were in charge of oversight who looked the other way as long as the campaign contributions continued to roll in. Everyone is to blame.
“If GSEs obey standard accounting rules, investors would know right away if the point of diminishing returns is being reached. As we learned this decade with the Enron, WorldComm, and Bernie Madoff scandals, if a company wildly violates regulatory rules, management could paint nearly any picture it designs, at least until something radically changes to make the problem impossible to hide. By far the largest and most active of the GSEs…Fannie Mae would put the entire economic system at risk if its management pulled a Madoff. Because Fannie is government sponsored, that could never happen unless some very powerful force assisted the cover up, either overtly or inadvertently”.
In the case of the housing crisis, that power, as President Clinton has even recognized, was the Democrat party. Democrats united to steadfastly resist many repeated efforts to effectively increase transparency with regard to GSE accounting and mortgage market activities. In a nutshell, as Congressman Artur Davis stated — who was one of those Democrats on the House Financial Service Committee — they were worried that increased transparency would slow GSEs’ mortgage buying, because investors might stop giving money to GSEs so freely and at such low interest rates. In Clinton’s own words…
“I think that the responsibility that the Democrats had may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress, or by me when I was President, to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” September 25, 2008
“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.” – Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL), September 30, 2008
The biggest hoax perpetrated on the American public however, is the spins being dished out that the financial meltdown was caused by Bush and the greedy rich.
It was caused by all of us. In our system of checks and balances form of government, one should look directly at Congress for failing in their fiduciary duties to perform OVERSIGHT. In those days, Congress was controlled totally by Democrats. Even Barack Obama has tried to deflect the issue when in fact he was part of “the posse at the hanging”. He was in Congress and was among the Democrats and a heck of a lot of Republicans that simply turned a blind idea to the forthcoming financial Armageddon that hit in 2008. Instead of standing up to accept some of the Congressional blame, the President said…
“I don’t mind cleaning up the mess that some other folks made, that’s what I signed up to do” – Barack Obama (D-IL), October 20, 2009…YES, but he has not, and cannot figure out how to do it…and throwing more money at it isn’t a solution.
No…when he took office under the battle cry of Hope and Change, transparency, clean government, tossing out the influence of special interest lobby groups, all we the people got was more of the same. In fact we have a whole plethora of those crooks now running the show under the guise of Czars. They were not approved by the Senate and are not recognized by any Constitutional legislation.
As Mr Hancock points out, “to demonstrate just how bad things were, between 1994 and 2004, Fannie executives improperly reported $10.6 billion of earnings. Franklin Raines, the Clinton-appointed CEO, received over $90 million. Jamie Gorelick — a top Clinton Administration lawyer whom he appointed in 1997 to be Fannie Mae vice chairman despite having no formal financial experience – received over $26 million. Just by way of reference, in 2002, 21 senior Fannie Mae executives received over $1 million each”.
“Just before Mr. Clinton curiously appointed Jamie Gorelick to the lucrative Fannie Mae post in 1997, she had authored a very significant and controversial legal document that came into sharp focus on 9-11. Her policy, which became known as the Gorelick Wall established barriers that prevented federal anti-terrorist criminal investigators from accessing various federal records and databases…one of the top causes for the 9-11 intelligence failure. And Jamie Gorelick’s curious appointments did not stop with Fannie Mae… Democrats selected her to serve on the 9-11 Commission; the official government investigation into what happened from an intelligence standpoint, and why. She was in the perfect spot to head off the Gorelick Wall from being a cause celeb in the 9-11 Commission’s final report”.
Folks, these are trying times. This is the era of sound bites and “gotcha”. This is a time when there is little if any investigative journalism, and where journalism has an obvious left of center leaning, where “talking points” of the administration are often dished out in unison by a press corps that has lost touch with the great journalists of US history, and then reported as fact without verification.
Today, for the most part we have journalists in all media, failing to hold our political representatives accountable for their actions. Great journalists have gone the way of horse-drawn carriages. The GREATS of history, starting with John Peter Zenger in 1735, to Ben Franklin, Joseph Pulitzer, Edward R. Murrow, Tim Russert, Walter Cronkite, Seymour Hersh, are down to but a few including Bob Woodward (Woodward and Bernstein fame), Robert Novak, Jim Lehrer, and Brit Hume. If you want real news along with the TRUTH, you have to get it for yourself and you have to dig deep.
Leading up to the 2012 election, I will trying to be as informative as possible on the issues and candidates, by pointing you in the right direction to verify facts, so we don’t continue to fall prey to the propaganda to which we are subjected.