Monday, July 21, 2008

Lieberman, Bayh Debate on FOX: Transcript

This could be a preview of the presidential debate between the two potential VP candidates: Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh. They appeared on FOX News Sunday. Read the entire transcript.

WALLACE: As we discussed with Admiral Mullen, Iraqi prime minister Maliki seemed over the weekend to endorse Obama's plan for pulling combat troops out of Iraq by mid 2010, within two years. Now he's apparently backed off that.

But, Senator Lieberman, the Iraqis clearly want us out sooner rather than later, and they would like on a timetable. Why is Senator McCain resisting that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, we — Senator McCain and I and others — want us out of Iraq sooner rather than later, but we want us out in a way that does not compromise all the gains that American and Iraqi forces have made in Iraq, which Admiral Mullen spoke to.

And frankly, we want to stay there to a victory because we don't want all those who have served in the American uniform there to have served or in some cases died in vain.

Remember this, Chris. We wouldn't be having this discussion about how to get out unless the surge, which John McCain courageously fought for, taking on the president of his own party, popular opinion, risking his campaign, and which Senator Obama opposed, worked.

So I think that's the good news. I think everybody — that is, Prime Minister Maliki, President Bush, people like John McCain and I — agree the sooner we're out, the better. But it has to be based on conditions on the ground.

Senator Obama doesn't seem to feel that way. It looked like he did a little bit after the primaries were over. But then he, pushed by and others on the antiwar left of the Democratic Party, is back to a rigid time line. And that's not wise.

WALLACE: Let me talk to Senator Bayh about that.

Admiral Mullen didn't mention Obama, but he did say this idea of a timetable for getting out in two years is dangerous. Why not agree that you're going to make any decisions based on conditions on the ground, Senator?

BAYH: Chris, I think it's important to note that Barack Obama's judgment about these issues has been excellent from the beginning, the kind of judgment you'd want in a commander in chief, and others are now beginning to adopt his positions.

We wouldn't be discussing surges in Iraq or anything else if Barack had had his way. We wouldn't have started that war to begin with.

He was right about Afghanistan. That's the place from which we were attacked. He's been calling for more troops there now for over a year. And John McCain, to his credit, has now come around and adopted Barack's point of view on that.

He has been for, as you say, a phased withdrawal from Iraq. As we heard, Prime Minister Maliki has embraced a more definitive time line, whether it's the 16 months or something else. But clearly, they want a more definitive time line.

And even President Bush now is coming up with a variety of euphemisms — aspirational goals, time horizons. I mean, it's starting to sound pretty much like a timeline to me.

So it's common sense, Chris. Any important enterprise, certainly something as important as a war — you want to have a plan. And a plan has to have some idea of what it's going to cost, what the adverse consequences are going to be and how long it's going to take.

So 16 months seems to be a reasonable goal. Let's work toward that. Let's bring this to a conclusion in a responsible way and focus on Iraq (sic) where the focus should have been all along.

Top McCain Advisor Involved in Lobbying Scandal

This is what John McCain's experience means--ties to lobbbyist. You don't become a powerful political figure in Washington without being up to your neck in sleaze. The image McCain has cultivated over the years as somehow being a political outsider is a hoax.

A top foreign policy adviser to John McCain has lobbied the National Security Council, Congress and the State Department on behalf of Stephen Payne, the Texas businessman and longtime Republican fundraiser caught up in a controversy over whether he sought to sell access to the Bush White House.

According to records on file with Congress, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann lobbied the Senate and House on behalf of Payne's firm, Worldwide Strategic Partners Inc., in 2002.

Scheunemann also lobbied the National Security Council and the State Department regarding energy issues in the Caspian region in 2005 and 2006 on behalf of another Payne firm, Caspian Alliance Inc., according to the records.

The McCain campaign said Scheunemann did not lobby on any specific legislation on behalf of either company, said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. The fees to Scheunemann's firm amounted to $50,000.

On Monday, McCain's campaign said that from 2002 to 2006, Scheunemann periodically engaged in consulting relationships with the two companies and that Scheunemann was never on the payroll of either firm, but that he was an occasional outside expert consultant.

In regard to Caspian Alliance, Scheunemann arranged several informational meetings for Payne with Department of State and NSC officials following Caspian energy issues, said Rogers.

This isn't the first lobbying scandal involving the Republican nominee:
It seems odd, but for John McCain it was a blessing to have the chance to bury questions about his dealings with lobbyists beneath an alleged sex scandal. The prurient part of the story was easy to deny, and voters are sick of sex scandals.

But even if the sex goes away, the underlying questions raised last week in the story for which the New York Times took such grief are unlikely to disappear. The McCain campaign's sweeping denials may have been a bit too sweeping, and sex, in the end, is not what the story was really about.

The Times got into trouble largely because of the second paragraph of its story Thursday about the relationship between Vicki Iseman, a telecommunications lobbyist, and McCain, when he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

[...]The same day the Times ran its account, The Post ran a story that stayed away from the "romantic" angle but reported (as the Times also had) that McCain had written two letters to the Federal Communications Commission, urging that it vote on the sale of a Pittsburgh television station to Paxson Communications, one of Iseman's clients.

The Post wrote: "At the time he sent the first letter, McCain had flown on Paxson's corporate jet four times to appear at campaign events and had received $20,000 in campaign donations from Paxson and its law firm. The second letter came on Dec. 10, a day after the company's jet ferried him to a Florida fundraiser that was held aboard a yacht in West Palm Beach."

In denouncing the Times story, McCain's campaign denied that he had met with Lowell "Bud" Paxson, president of the firm. But Paxson later told The Post that he had met with McCain. More telling, Newsweek reported this weekend that McCain himself acknowledged in a 2002 deposition that he had met with Paxson.

CBS' Lara Logan Interviews Barack Obama: Transcript (7-19-08)

Read the complete transcript:

Logan: "And how do you compel Pakistan to act?"

Obama: "Well, you know, I think that the U.S. government provides an awful lot of aid to Pakistan, provides a lot of military support to Pakistan. And to send a clear message to Pakistan that this is important, to them as well as to us, I think that message has not been sent."

Logan: "Under what circumstances would you authorize unilateral U.S. action against targets inside tribal areas?"

Obama: "What I've said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al-Qaeda targets, and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, that we should. My hope is that it doesn't come to that - that in fact, the Pakistan government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights that we should fire or we should capture him."

Logan: "Isn't that the case now? I mean, do you really think that if U.S. forces had Osama bin Laden in their sights and the Pakistanis said 'No,' that they wouldn't fire or wouldn't go after him?"

Obama: "I think actually this is current doctrine. There was some dispute when I said this last August. Both the administration and some of my opponents suggested, 'Well, you know, you shouldn't go around saying that.' But I don't think there's any doubt that that should be our policy."

Logan: "But [not going after him] is the current policy."

Obama: "I believe it is the current policy."

Logan: "So there's no change, then?"

Obama: "I don't think there's going to be a change there. I think that in order for us to be successful, it's not going to be enough just to engage in the occasional shot fired. We've got training camps that are growing and multiplying."

Logan: "Would you take out all those training camps?"

Obama: "Well, I think that what we would like to see the Pakistani government take out those training camps."

Logan: "And if they won't?"

Obama: "Well, I think that we've got to work with them so they will."

Logan: "Would you consider unilateral U.S. action?"

Obama: "I will push Pakistan very hard to make sure that we go after those training camps. I think it's absolutely vital to the security interests for both the United States and Pakistan."

Thousands with Criminal Records work Unlicensed Making Loans

It might explain why so many people subprime loans were made. These types of loans were a scam. So it is appropriate that conmen sold them. This article is from Miami Herald:

Gary Kafka, former body builder uith a long rap sheet and violent past, wrote millions of dollars in mortgages in South Florida without ever applying for a state license.

Fresh out of prison after serving time for bank fraud, he never went through a criminal background check before selling loans. He never took a competency exam.

He never had to.

More than half the mortgage professionals registered in Florida -- 120,563 -- entered the industry this decade without being licensed by the state, The Miami Herald found.

Known as loan originators, they perform the same job as mortgage brokers but aren't bound by the same rules.

Time and again, industry leaders asked Florida regulators to bring this group under their watch by imposing mandatory licensing. But regulators refused to press for any changes, claiming that lawmakers would never approve.

The state's refusal proved costly during the biggest housing boom in Florida history: Thousands of loan originators entered the industry with criminal histories, state records show.

While The Miami Herald found breakdowns in the state's licensing system for mortgage brokers, the lack of controls over originators created even more problems for an industry steeped in the highest fraud rate in the nation.

The special group was created by state lawmakers 17 years ago to make it easier for lenders to hire people as the industry was growing.

But in the past eight years, more people with criminal records jumped into the business as loan originators than as any other category of mortgage professionals.

The government/Federal Reserve now realize that the subprime market was dishonest industry and are finally doing something about it. But is it too late?
The federal government has put its foot down: A lender can't give you a subprime mortgage unless you are able to repay it. And that goes for jumbo mortgages, too -- maybe.

You're probably wondering why the government finds it necessary to tell lenders that they shouldn't hand over the money before figuring out whether borrowers can afford the monthly mortgage payments. That seems awfully basic. But for a while, verifying a borrower's ability to pay was out of fashion.

From 2003 until last year, stated-income loans were the big fad because they allowed borrowers to exaggerate their incomes without having to provide tax documents as verification. Now, stated-income loans -- called "liar's loans" -- are rare because they're deemed too risky.

Now, more than a year after stated-income and subprime loans fell out of favor, the Federal Reserve has banned stated-income subprime loans. The new rules go into effect Oct. 1, 2009.

The rules divide mortgages into two categories: "higher-priced" loans and everything else. The "higher-priced" category is the Fed's way of defining subprime mortgages, which generally go to people who have had trouble paying their bills on time.

Some of the new rules apply only to this "higher-priced" category, which the Fed designed as a net to capture subprime loans. But some jumbo mortgages might get caught in it, too.

Under the new rules, you can't get a higher-cost subprime loan unless the lender decides that you can afford the highest scheduled payments during the first seven years of the loan. This means that if you get an adjustable-rate mortgage, you have to be able to afford the payments at the highest possible rate.

The rules ban prepayment penalties for higher-cost loans if the rate can change in the first four years. In any case, prepayment penalties can't last more than two years. And higher-cost loans have to have escrow accounts for property taxes and insurance.

Obama Raises $25 Million in One Day

McCain's goose is cooked. Lets see, McCain is a lousy candidate, has no issues, and lacks pizazz. This combination guarantees victory for Obama in the Fall:

After locking up his party’s presidential nomination, Barack Obama’s fundraising operation came roaring back to life in June, generating more than a million dollars on five days, including a whopping $25 million that came in on the last day of the month.

His one-day haul represents nearly half of his monthly total and more than Republican rival John McCain generated for the entire month. During the month, McCain did not have a single day in which he raised a million dollars.

Overall, Obama raised $54 million for his campaign in June, compared to $22 million for McCain.

In addition to fundraising, the June expenditures offered insight into the different tacks the candidates are taking toward winning the presidency in November.

The two candidates spent about the same amount of money in June — Obama spent $26 million and McCain spent $27 million.

But their priorities were entirely different as Obama began building what his campaign says will be an unprecedented, nationwide ground operation.

Did I mention Obama is looking very presidential with his tour of the Middle East?
Barack Obama — the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate who has made ending the Iraq war a cornerstone of his historic run for office — huddled on Monday with Iraqi officials and coalition military commanders about the status of the grinding, bloody conflict, now in its sixth year.

It is the Illinois senator's second trip to Iraq, after a visit in 2006, and the latest leg of his overseas trip, which began in Kuwait and Afghanistan and will continue on to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Germany, France and England.

Obama — who is accompanied by two key Senate colleagues — arrived Monday afternoon in the southern city of Basra, according to U.S. Embassy spokesman Armand Cucciniello.

Obama met with Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq; British Maj. Gen. Barney White Spunner, commander of Multi-National Division South East; and Iraqi Army's 14th Division Commander Maj. General Abdul Aziz.

Obama then traveled to Baghdad, where he was to meet Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. troops in Iraq, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Everything seems to be turning in favor of Obama:
Events in Iraq suddenly have taken “a dramatic shift” in favor of Sen. Barack Obama and to the disadvantage of Sen. John McCain, writes David Paul Kuhn of Politico. The big change: “President Bush, who’d been opposed to any timetable for removing American forces from Iraq, reached an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to set a ‘general time horizon’ for a withdrawal,” Kuhn writes.

“Saturday, the shift continued when the German magazine Der Spiegel ran an interview with Maliki in which he called for U.S. troops to withdraw.” Now, Kuhn says, “for the first time in the national security debate, Obama’s advisers believe that McCain has been placed on the defensive, since his reluctance to support a ‘time horizon’ now differs not only with the position of his Democratic opponent, but also those of the White House and the Iraqi prime minister.”