Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No-Risk Borrowing

A lot of Americans live in modest homes because that's all they can afford. They've chosen to live within their means and to be financially responsible, but a lot of other Americans have chosen instead to go into serious debt to buy homes they couldn't really afford. They signed on to variable rate mortgages, knowing full well that the rates they were paying were going to go up. As the New York Times put it:

Banks and mortgage lending companies developed an array of subprime mortgages for people with poor credit and exotic loans that allowed people to borrow without putting any money down, or to qualify for mortgages without documenting their incomes.

When the inevitable happened and the rates were raised the borrowers found themselves unable to meet their payments and the lending institutions that made the risky loans have been forced to foreclose and are take the houses.

Now Congressional Democrats and others are demanding that taxpayers bail these people out. Those who chose to live within their means all their lives are being told that they should essentially pay for the houses of those who live above their means, many of whom should never have been permitted to buy a house, or at least not one as expensive as they did buy, in the first place.

This may be the sort of thing Democrats do, but it's hard to see the justice in it. It's as if your neighbor overextended himself on his credit card and is now going house to house demanding that everyone else pay off his debt.

Michelle Malkin has details here.


Plan of Attack

A pair of Brits have written the most extensive analysis of American preparations for a war against Iran that I have seen. Here are some of the chief points:

Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.

US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.

US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.

Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.

Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.

Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran's WMD programmes.

The attitude of the UK is uncertain, with the Brown government and public opinion opposed psychologically to more war, yet, were Brown to support an attack he would probably carry a vote in Parliament. The UK is adamant that Iran must not acquire the bomb.

The US is not publicising the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran's actions.

There's much more to the article than this and those interested in our relations with Iran should read the whole thing.

Other sources have added another layer of intigue to the above scenario by suggesting that an American attack against Iran may be coupled with an Israeli attack against Syria.

There's an enormous risk of catastrophe in such plans. Yet the risk of allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons is even worse. Yet, the world sits by refusing to do anything much to punish Iran for its nuclear weapons program. If diplomacy fails and Iran doesn't stand down, as Libya and perhaps North Korea have done, if the only alternative to allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons is to take out their weapons facilities along with their military and their government, the U.S. will surely be seen as the bad guy for doing attempting it. Even so, the fault will lie not with us but with the Iranians, and the Russians, Chinese, and Europeans who tried to profit from the Iranian quest for military power. These nations all put financial gain above doing what was necessary for stability and peace and they will have deserved the opprobrium of all civilized people.


Alberto Gonzalez

Paul Mirgenhoff at Power Line articulates my thoughts on the resignation of Alberto Gonzales:

I've never been a fan of Gonzales, but I can't help feeling sorry for him. The "scandal" that led to his demise -- the firing of the U.S. attorneys -- appears to involve no wrongdoing on his part. Moreover, the underlying decisions and process appear to have been the product of the White House, not Gonzales. His defense of the decisions was hardly stellar, but if I'm correct, he was handicapped by the fact that they were not really his decisions.

Gonzales's only real offense seems to have been mediocrity. But mediocrity in an Attorney General is nothing new (think Janet Reno), and any blame for this occurrence properly attaches to the White House.

Often the biggest favor a president can do for a friend is to not appoint him or her to very high office.

I didn't care for Gonzales because he really didn't seem enthusiastic about controlling our borders. His justice department was tougher on border patrol officers than it was on illegal aliens. Even so, the firing of the District Attorneys, the offense for which he was hounded by Democrats, struck us as a tempest in a teapot given that Pres. Clinton fired ninety three DAs and no one made much fuss. Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno, gave the go-ahead to assault the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas resulting in the immolation of dozens of women and children, and even then Democrats were relatively mute. She then ordered the seizure and deportation to Cuba of Elian Gonzalez a child immigrant who should have been allowed to stay in this country if anyone should, and again the Democrats were silent.

It took the firing of nine District Attorneys by a Republican AG to rouse their outrage.

Gonzales, a former real-estate attorney, never should have been appointed to the office he held, but the Democratic obsession with tarnishing the careers and reputations of everyone they can in the Bush administration really does make them look small.