Editorial: Colleges great, but out of hand

From the Santa Fe New Mexican.com - So was a collective veil lifted from lawmakers' eyes? Seems so; at a meeting of Legislative Finance Committee members Friday came a revelation that New Mexico has too many colleges. How 'bout that? Seven four-year schools and 18 or so two-year colleges later, legislators from both parties acted is if they agreed that something's got to be done about the soaring costs of public-supported higher education. B-b-but what can be done? Here we have all these colleges and universities, each headed by elected boards of trustees or governor-appointed boards of regents, all — or mostly all — providing educational service to a state sorely in need of it. As long as oil-and-gas revenues were rolling in, representatives and senators from one end of the state to another made it a point of pride to say he or she wrangled this or that many millions during the legislative budget sessions. Now, through little fault of the colleges, the money supply has gone dry. But because so many boardmembers and administrators built so many academic empires, they and the Legislature face a grim reality. To the credit of pro-education, but fiscally realistic legislators like Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming, there's at least a possibility that the next Legislature will take the least painful approach: budget-cutting where services are being duplicated. Read more

NM steps up as insurers curb policies for sick kids

From the New Mexico Independent - by Trip Jennings - Four of the state’s major health insurers plan to limit the number of new insurance policies they write for children with preexisting conditions, prompting the state to take action earlier this month to ensure youngsters potentially affected won’t go without health coverage. New Mexico threw open the doors of its high-risk pool to youngsters upon learning that the insurers were, in effect, largely walking away from writing new child-only insurance policies. The nation’s new health care law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children under 19 with preexisting conditions, but insurance companies fear that means families with sick kids could sign up for policies right before extremely expensive treatments, leaving them with no choice but to cover the sky-high bills. Read more

Censorship Shovel: NPR Digging Deeper and Deeper

Mona Charen
From National Review by Mona Charen - I appeared on the public-radio program On Point this week with National Public Radio ombudsman, Alicia Shepherd, and listened to her defend NPR’s firing of Juan Williams. NPR, the listener is invited to conclude, has no bias, but Juan Williams, a liberal with occasionally heterodox views, is too conservative for NPR. Ms. Shepherd was in an impossible position and seemed to know it. Right out of the box, she acknowledged that the “manner” of Williams’s firing — a phone call with no face-to-face discussion permitted — was wrong. The actual termination, she went on to assert, was completely justified. It wasn’t just what Juan Williams said on The O’Reilly Factor but a “pattern” of comments over the years. This was the “last straw.” Read more here:


Cradling Minnows and Kicking Family Values Part I

Rachel Pulaski
By Rachel Pulaski - Jeff Steinborn (D) 37th District State Representative, land conservationist and Director of the Southern NM Wilderness Alliance is campaigning for re-election. Recently Jeff attacked his opponent Terry McMillan M.D. (R) in his first campaign flier. In the flier Jeff Steinborn accused Terry McMillan of not paying his property taxes on time. Soon after Mr. Steinborn made these allegations public his opponent’s wife Jodie McMillan was forced to come forward revealing her personal and private information in order to defend her husband’s good name. This is Mrs. McMillan's statement regarding Mr. Steinborn allegations:
“As the spouse of Terry McMillan MD candidate for State Representative District 37, I was saddened and disappointed at the content of the first mailer from Jeff Steinborn’s campaign. The mailer represents a weak personal attack, which is unfounded in the facts. My father passed away last Oct., and with the inheritance, I retired the debt in Nov. Because of the timing of the transactions, the escrow account was closed before the Nov. property tax was paid. When I was notified by the county tax assessors, I paid the taxes promptly. It is a sad sign of the times that political campaigns focus on tawdry personal attacks rather than open discussions of the issues. My hope it that in the future, Jeff Steinborn’s campaign will focus on the issues that concern New Mexicans; our poor economy, joblessness, high taxes, border control”. - Jodie McMillan
What type of man criticizes a bereaving daughter, especially on the basis of a 30 day late payment regarding a deceased father’s estate? Mr. Steinborn obviously has never been late making a payment on anything, at least one would think after making such a brutal and insensitive attack. I find this disheartening coming from our State Representative, it shows a serious disconnect with the general public and a blatant lack of respect for family values and privacy. Does he honestly think the citizens of this state care about a 30 day late payment? Since the recession, many New Mexicans have been late paying their bills or are having problems making their mortgage payments on time; some residents are even losing their homes to foreclosure. New Mexicans are suffering and struggling to feed their families, meanwhile Jeff Steinborn is mocking it. These are real issues Mr. Steinborn and not ones to be satirized.


Teague to Appear on NewsNM

Harry Teague
Congressman Harry Teague will appear as our guest on News New Mexico on Wednesday October 27th at 8:00am. Teague is a freshman Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He faces former Congressman Steve Pearce in his first re-election bid. Please e-mail your questions for Congressman Teague to contact@newsnm.com


Blackwell: More Respect for the President

Ken Blackwell
From Townhall.com - President Barack Obama began his term with the highest of accolades in the press. Hardball host, TV’s Chris Matthews, felt a tingle go up and down his leg whenever Obama speaks. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said he hovered over the nations, like “a sort of god.” All too soon, however, the President came crashing down, like Icarus in Greek legend. Young Icarus flew too close to the sun and the wax that attached the feathers to his homemade wings melted. Icarus plunged into the sea. President Obama may have gotten too close to those klieg lights. He senses it himself. “They talk about me like I’m a dog,” he complained recently. Actually, Mr. President, that’s wrong. Americans love their dogs. Read more here:


Praeger: Referendum Day

Dennis Praeger
Next Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 is not Election Day. It is Referendum Day. It may be commonplace for commentators to announce that every election is "the most important election in our lifetime" or something analogous. But having never said that of a presidential election, let alone an off-year election, this commentator cannot be accused of crying wolf when I say that this off-year election is not simply the most important of my lifetime. It is the most important since the Civil War. Read more here:


David Corn: Tea Party Needs Anger Management

David Corn
From Politicsdaily.com - Okay, what's everybody so mad about? With the congressional elections one week away, the 2010 campaign narrative is written in stone: enraged tea partiers will soon be storming polling stations to elect Republicans who will seize control of the House and perhaps even win the Senate. Anger rules. But the source of this anger? Yes, there are the obvious points -- such as the near-10 percent unemployment. But much of the anger is -- how to say this? -- irrational. Look at a big tea party target: the TARP bailout. Read more here:

Progressive Mag: Tea Party Goon Squads

From progressive.org - The goon squad mentality of the Tea Partiers is becoming clearer by the day. All you got to do is watch the video of the Moveon woman, Lauren Valle, at the Rand Paul event on Monday being stomped on by a big tea party guy after other Paul supporters yelled, “Get the police, Get the cops,” at the mere sight of her protesting. Or all you got to do is see how Joe Miller’s private security guards handcuffed and detained a reporter for having the temerity to ask the candidate questions. Or all you got to do is read the e-mail by the Tea Party Nation that urges people to vote against Keith Ellison of Minnesota because “he is the only Muslim in Congress.” He isn’t, but that’s beside the point. The point is that the Tea Party movement is infused with people who are intolerant. Read more here:

Policies That Got Us Here - Part III

See Part 1 of Policies that got us here - Part II and See Pivot Points in History Less than a decade after Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton, and a host of Republicans successfully argued for the destruction of the Glass-Steagall Act on the grounds of “fairness” the investment and commercial bankers from Wall Street were back in Washington begging for a rescue. A truly “fair” policy response to the threat of a system-wide financial implosion would have been for the government to step in and appoint independent trustees to oversee a very deliberate and orderly dismantling of A.I.G. And all the reckless commercial and investment banks that were basically insolvent should have had trustees appointed as well. Relative order could have been maintained and the stock and bondholders that voted for the boards that allowed their management teams to gamble recklessly (while receiving astronomical compensation packages) would have taken every nickel of the losses.

What Would Have Been a “Fair Policy Response to the Financial Crisis?”
Fairness would have required President George W. Bush, and candidates Barack Obama and John McCain to demand an immediate reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. These were the “fair” things to do, but of course this was not what the policy response was. Washington isn’t fair. Instead, it is a place where influence is acquired wholesale and sold retail. So instead of fair policies, armies of mercenary lawyers descended on Washington D.C. With access to both elected and appointed officials they argued for a slightly different version of fairness. Peddling a sense of “fear” the commercial and investment banks in New York swayed leaders to be get this.......bi-partisan Carefully crafted predictions of total financial catastrophe were offered to the Bush Administration officials. Both Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid quickly hopped on board.
The scare tactics worked. No doubt investment and commercial bankers must have been sighing in relief as both the outgoing and incoming members of the executive and legislative branches of our government all found something they could agree to late in 2008; this being a fresh round of taxpayer-financed government folly. Adding insult to taxpayer injury, our elected officials and their chief regulators also encouraged each gigantic Wall Street investment firm to quickly file for bank holding company status. By being designated as depository institutions, investment banks and the poorly managed financial service subsidiaries of industrial companies (like General Electric) were allowed to float hundreds of billions of dollars in FDIC guaranteed notes at minuscule interest rates. In the meantime, all responsibly behaving individuals and organizations were already required by tax laws to pick up these government dining tabs.
Sadly, there continues to be a seemingly perpetual obsession on the part of the financial industry executives living in the tri-state area around lower Manhattan, to extract absurd levels of compensation from our economic system without actually producing any net positives except predictable streams of campaign contributions. And as has also been the case for decades, elected officials in Washington, obsessed with perpetuating their personal political power machines, institute policies that allow them to maintain access to campaign contributions from the investment and banking industry.
On Saturday morning December 12, 2009, President Obama again deplored the latest round of compensation bonuses being paid to Wall Street “Fat Cats.” He suggested that Wall Street still doesn’t “get it?” News New Mexico disagrees. Wall Street does get it. And those that continuously engage in efforts to procure campaign contributions from Wall Street also “get it.” And though we live far away from New York and Washington D.C. we also get it. What we get is that there is an overwhelming congruency in the so-called “Fat Cat” enrichment process.
The Financial Media and Populism - Unfortunately, many members of the financial news media are remarkably biased towards what is good for their geographic neighbors. They also are also predictably protective of their personal sources of so-called financial news. Accordingly, the most of the blatant conflicts of interest and insidious liaisons between Washington D.C. and Wall Street are completely ignored or treated as minor afterthoughts by our financial press.
Nearly every day on networks such as CNBC (a General Electric subsidiary), show hosts accuse those that speak too loudly against bonuses paid to government subsidized Fat Cats as being closed minded anti-free market types. Some CNBC contributors made the assertion that most of the outcries against the corrupt links between Washington and New York are merely signs that emotion-based “populism” is finally getting out of control.
Eliminate All Opportunities for Fat Cats - In the end, President Obama is right about “Fat Cats.” Fat Cats devising ridiculous financial schemes that wind up getting backstopped by other campaign contribution collecting “Fat Cats” are weakening America. Unfortunately, the truth is considered discomforting by most elected officials. Under our current system, all incumbents have huge campaign fund raising advantages. And by definition, the very nature of these advantages creates unacceptable conflicts of interest that leave them unable to govern wisely.
The greatest deficit a woefully uninformed American electorate faces is a wisdom deficit. With all the partisanship, the distractions, and the conflicts of interest, anyone still hoping the majority of the electorate will some day summon the wisdom to demand that the financial advantages our system provides for all elected officials be eliminated is engaging in wishful thinking. Fat Cat accusations coming from incumbents are hollow. Until all elections are funded by taxpayers instead of Fat Cats, we should recognize that ALL elected officials are “Fat Cats” too.
What can voters do if they want to be better informed? First they can stop worshipping blowhards like Bill Clinton as he travels all over the country talking about policies that led us into the ditch. They can understand the reason why partisan Democrats don't wish to point to the profound words of their own prophet (Senator Byron Dorgan).  Dorgan being right while Clinton was wrong does not serve any immediate political purpose for Dems. Being right as Dorgan most certainly was about policies that would lead us into a deep sense of regret tend to spread the blame around. And any accomplished huckster like Bill Clinton certainly doesn't need to the financial equivalent of another blue dress staining his carefully constructed presidential legacy. He knows what to do. Pretend he had nothing to do with it. It was all the Republicans fault!


Dirty Laundry About to be Hung?

From Bloomberg.net - The Federal Reserve won’t join a group of the largest commercial banks in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let the government withhold details of emergency loans made to financial firms in 2008. The central bank’s decision not to appeal makes it less likely the high court will hear the case, said Tom Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who has argued 22 cases before the high court since 1999 and whose Scotusblog Website tracks the panel. The Clearing House Association LLC, a group of the biggest commercial banks, filed the appeal today. Under federal rules for appeals, a lower court’s order requiring disclosure remains on hold until the Supreme Court acts. Kit Wheatley, an attorney for the Fed, confirmed that the central bank won’t join the appeal. David Skidmore, a spokesman for the central bank, did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment. Read more here:

Fed In Unchartered Waters 1970's a Distant Reminder

Ben Bernanke
For the second time since he became chairman in 2006, Ben S. Bernanke is leading the Federal Reserve into uncharted monetary territory. Bernanke next week is likely to preside over a decision to launch another round of large-scale asset purchases after deploying $1.7 trillion to pull the economy out of the financial crisis, comments from policy makers over the past week indicate. This time, with interest rates already near zero, the Fed will be aiming to increase the rate of inflation and reduce the cost of borrowing in real terms. The goal is to unlock consumer spending and jump-start an economy that’s growing too slowly to push unemployment lower. Read more here:


Dr. Terry McMillan to Appear on NewsNM

Dr. Terry McMillan
In the 7:30am segment today we will visit with Dr. Terry McMillan who is a candidate for State Representative in District # 37. We will ask Dr. McMillan about his dreams for our state and what he thinks are the most critical challenges ahead. Topics for discussion will include the wilderness proposal backed by his opponent Jeff Steinborn, voter identification, the ballooning state budget deficit, and his thoughts on the governor's race. Visit his website here:


Policies That Got Us Here Part II

Robert Rubin
What A.I.G. and Goldman Did - One of the most notorious intermediaries of financial lunacy in the perverted post Glass-Steagall era was A.I.G. This insurance company underwrote reckless financial policies (known as credit default swaps) for commercial and investment banks. A.I.G. did this because it collected what management thought were generous premiums. At one time A.I.G. deluded itself into thinking it was generating huge underwriting profits for the company the C.D.S. business. Wall Street investment houses including Robert Rubin's former employer Goldman Sachs believed A.I.G. was capable of actually hedging trillions of insane bets. As a result, commercial and investment banks collectively and individually escalated the scheming, becoming practically drunk with embodiment. Virtually every New York-based bank borrowed and bet as much as it could on flimsy mortgages. Even Goldman's management team suffered from greed-induced delusions. However, eventually Goldman's management began to see that mortgage defaults were bound to mushroom and that credit default swap claims against A.I.G. could run tens of billions of dollars. Since Goldman was hardly sufficiently reserved for this sort of colossal-sized folly, it began to write synthetic securities where it could bet against the process of sub-prime mortgage underwriting.
New York, Washington D.C. and Corruption - For decades large commercial and investment banks have provided a steady flow of campaign contributions to the re-election war chests of most elected officials in Washington. For many years Goldman Sachs has been the biggest contributor of the pack. The payoff for commercial banks wasn’t more "fairness" and less bank risk taking as Presdient Clinton, Robert Rubin, and Senator Phil Gramm claimed. Instead, it was the end of the taxpayer protections provided by Glass-Steagall for decades that Senator Byron Dorgan predicted.
Hank Paulson
As A.I.G. catapulted towards complete insolvency it gradually became clear to C.E.O.’s at the largest commercial and investment banks that they were getting trapped. Having unwisely borrowed to buy flimsy mortgage securities, they too were at the point of insolvency. And as their sense of greed receded and their sense of reality set in, these C.E.O.’s quickly secured the ears of their former colleagues (Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and others), who just happened to be working in the Bush Administration as high level banking system regulators. The goal of Wall Street C.E.O.’s in the late summer of 2008 was to quickly gain access to taxpayer guarantees and cash injections to cover mistakes they made. Their errors should have required wipeouts of their stock and bondholders and receiverships for an interim period. That did not happen. Instead, first Paulson and Co. used Lehman Brothers as a stage setter for the remaining firms. After the panic that ensued with the Lehman failure the rest of the street including Goldman Sachs was able to gain access to the seemingly infinite resources of the taxpayers. Under pressure, Hank Paulson went to Capital Hill. Publicly and privately he injected a gigantic dose of FEAR for official consumption. The extraordinary government intervention he sought had to be framed as an effort to “Save the American Financial System from Catastrophe” instead of a bailout for the greediest on Wall Street.
Astonishingly, the first step our government officials took after Lehman failed was to "loan" an insolvent A.I.G. billions of taxpayer dollars. These dollars immediately passed through in the form of full face value credit default swap settlements to various high profile investment and commercial banks on Wall Street inculding......you guessed it, Goldman Sachs. Though this was only the beginning, many well-informed Americans knew immediately that a corrupt bailout, based completely on false premises and false choices, was being perpetrated on congress and the public. The truth being that the government interventions Wall Street successfully maneuvered for, were targeted specifically to save selected commercial bank stock and bondholders not America, from catastrophe. Recapitalization programs like TARP followed. Taxpayers and institutions that did NOT routinely contribute huge sums to elected officials in Washington would be handed the bill. And not long after the ripple affects crashed into main street the Wall Street investment firms and banks would be rolling in billions of dollars again and bonusing their brightest minds with huge sums of cash derived from capital injections by John Q. Public.


Sowell: Brass Oldies

Thomas Sowell
From Townhall.com - Classic songs from years past are sometimes referred to as "golden oldies." There are political fallacies that have been around for a long time as well. These might be called brass oldies. It certainly takes a lot of brass to keep repeating fallacies that were refuted long ago. One of these brass oldies is a phrase that has been a perennial favorite of the left, "tax cuts for the rich." How long ago was this refuted? More than 80 years ago, the "tax cuts for the rich" argument was refuted, both in theory and in practice, by Andrew Mellon, who was Secretary of the Treasury in the 1920s. Read more here: