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Meg Whitman: No New Taxes, and Water for the Central Valley

Wednesday, September 23, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Meg Whitman, the woman who would be governor of the Golden State, was my guest today. She confirmed that she has signed the Americans for Tax Reform “no new taxes” pledge, and that she is adamantly opposed to the reduction or cut-off of water deliveries to the Central Valley because of the delta smelt.

The transcript will be posted here later, and the podcast will be here.

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“Obama’s U.N. Speech, Dissected”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Pete Wehner slices and dices the president’s deeply disturbing speech to the U.N.

The worst of many awful parts of the speech is that the president engages in Israel-bashing before a group that includes many of the worst sort of thugs and dictators. President Obama missed the opportunity to remind the world that Israel has an absolute right to exist, and that no serious negotiation can begin until that right is recognized by all the powers in the Palestinian territories. The president’s slam on the legitimacy of Israeli settlements is a red herring, and everyone knows it. The obstacle to peace is Hamas and every other extremist who wants Israel destroyed, not construction within previously established lines of construction.

The second worst part of the speech was the studied refusal bluntly to name Iran as an oppressor of its own people and an exporter of terror and breaker of international rules. Part of the essence of appeasement is the refusal by free states to speak bluntly about their fascist counterparts. The president’s meaningless rhetoric about “certain truths which are self-evident” must be a very bitter pill for the dissidents of iran in prison, and their families and friends, who were looking for a statement of solidarity, not an invitation for the fanatics to continue their repression under the guise of each country pursuing “a path rooted in the culture of its people and its past traditions.”

What an embarrassment, but also how predictable given the president’s long standing hostility to Israel and his reflexive desire to not offend our enemies.

The Latest From “Banker Guy”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Two of the contributors to HH.com are “Bear in the Woods” and “Banker Guy,” an anonymous senior ad exec and banker, respectively. Banker Guy has surfaced and his latest is below. I think Bear has been treed.

Hugh,

It’s been a long time since I have written, but there has been so many more important issues-Afghanistan, Cap and trade, and Obamacare. Running a bank remains a real challenge in this economy. While the headlines have gone away the problem loans remain. Individuals, small businesses, and commercial real estate are all fighting hard to keep current on their loans. On top of that the regulators are being extremely tough. They dread the hindsight of the Inspector General and so requiring more and more capital and slapping formal agreements on banks, which make it difficult for the bank to raise capital and deposits.

The primary purpose for writing is to raise alarms about the administrations efforts to enact the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) (H.R. 3126). This is another effort by Obama to take control of a significant portion of the economy. This bill not only covers banks but also tax preparers, credit card companies, title insurers, mortgage companies, financial advisors, data processors of financial information, credit bureaus, and any other activity that the agency defines as a financial activity to be covered by the act!

This effort to take control of financial companies is the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor. Currently, the professor is the head of the Congressional Oversight Committee. She is modeling the act after the Consumer Products Safety Commission because, “(t)his crisis started with the cheating of American families, and [solving it] has to begin there, too.” We all know how that commission had made products better! Professor Warren is being assisted in her effort by Heather Booth and Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of groups including ACORN, SEIU, MoveOn.org, and many others invested in Community Investment Act activities.

If enacted, the CFPA would severely harm financial providers and consumers. The agency would be controlled by five appointees, one of whom is head of the national bank regulator. There is no real check or balance on the others (Warren is likely to be the Chairman). The agency would have sole authority to make and interpret regulations under existing consumer finance and fair lending laws. The agency would have broad examination and information gather authority. The CFPA would ban mandatory arbitration clauses.

The proposed agency would have the authority to define standard products and services (“plain vanilla”). The agency could require companies to offer these products and if they offer alternative products they could be subject to enhanced scrutiny. (The agency has very broad enforcement powers.) Further, the agency can dictate disclosure and marketing practices, in effect have broad authority over consumer advertising by the financial services industry.

It gets even worse. The law opens up financial services companies to litigation by every state attorney general and the tort bar.

This is an effort to do to financial service what they want to do to the healthcare. Through a panel of five people, they want to control financial services, determine what services are to be provided, how those services are to be delivered, and at a cost they determine. None of this has anything to do with the causes of the financial crisis of 2008, but rather it is the use of a crisis to take control of another large chunk of the economy.

Barney Frank’s committee begins hearings on the bill today. I’ll try to keep you posted.

You can contact me at BankerGuy2009@gmail.com

The Afghanistan Decision: Lyndon Baines Obama?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The New York Times details how the president is being pressed by Joe Biden to reject General McChrystal’s recommendation and embark on a significantly slimmed down mission in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.

The idea of rejecting the proposals of the new commander on the ground less than six months after his appointment is bad enough, but to do so because Slow Joe Biden has a bright idea is truly terrible.

The president’s domestic agenda is in a shambles and his ratings are plummeting to near record levels for a modern president in his first year in office. His global warming hysteria of yesterday adds to the idea of a rookie being handed unvetted speeches –like the one in Congress with the man who died from denial of treatment, except he didn’t– and rushing off to his next media event.

Thousands of Americans died because of the Taliban’s partnership with al Qaeda, a partnership that endures. Hundreds more have died pushing the Taliban-al Qaeda alliance deep into the remote mountains of the region. General McChrystal’s report asserts that with the right forces, stability can be achieved, and within an acceptable number of years.

The choice facing President Obama is a defeat and vulnerability to more terror plots and a second mission back when one occurs, or the acceptance of the commanding general’s recommendations. This isn’t hard. The fact that Joe Biden is on the other side makes it even easier to tell Secretary Gates to proceed with the McChyrstal plan.

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