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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome MPR Readers

MPR references Dump Michele Bachmann in a post about Keith Ellison calling Michele Bachmann on her bigotry.

Bachmann told the St. Cloud Times that it was an "unfair characterization" of her remarks. The folks at Dump Bachmann (who obviously don't support Michele Bachmann) uploaded video so you can watch what she says for yourself here.

Bachmann may have to explain her comments tomorrow morning. She's scheduled to appear on MSNBC's Morning Joe at 7:30 Central. She is also scheduled to attend a debate with DFLer Elwyn Tinklenberg on Monday night.

As mentioned earlier, the St Cloud Times reported:

But as negotiations between the Bush administration and Congress continued, she also defended herself against reports that she had blamed the financial crisis on a federal program that gave home mortgage loans “on the basis of race and often on little else.”

“It was an unfair characterization of my remarks,” the 6th Congressional District Republican said of a published item in Roll Call newspaper. “I read a portion of an article critical of the Community Reinvestment Act, which I’m not a fan of. They were not my words.”

It doesn't matter whether they were her words, or someone elses. She read pieces of this article into the congressional record to support her views.

On MPR's blog, predictably Michele Bachmann apologist, Craig Westover defends Bachmann with a long comment avoiding the issue.

The response to Bachmann’s remarks, the reading of an article into the record, is the “Argument from Intimidation” tactic. “Argument from Intimidation” is a logical fallacy supported by psychological pressure. You often see it expressed implicitly or explicitly in the form, “Only a homophobe would believe …” or “Only a diehard socialist would support …” Both statements, one from the left and one from the right, intend to suppress, not expand discussion.

In the case of the Community Reinvestment Act, the fallacy of intimidation argument takes the form, “Only a racist would question the economic consequences of the Community Reinvestment Act.” If that is the prevailing attitude, how can we ever have an honest discussion of race or make sound economic policy?

Michele Bachmann's defense has been she was quoting an IBD article. Actually she was quoting an IBD editorial by Terry Jones. Daughter Number Three has more:

Unable to tell if Bachmann's entire speech was lifted from Jones or just the first sentence, I found Jones's original article (from Sept. 24, and I'd like to point out it's an editorial, not a news story). Here's what belongs to whom in Bachmann's words.

Just about the first half of the speech is a direct quote from Jones, including the most inflammatory verbiage (that loans were made on the basis of race and little else, and that Clinton was paying back his urban voting bloc). From the point when Bachmann says "These were changes that led Fannie and Freddie to get into the sub-prime loan market," she is speaking in her own words (still somewhat based on the article, but it would pass a plagiarism test). This is the part where she tries to qualify her remarks up until that point by saying that minority homeownership is a good thing, it was just done wrong.

I gather from my Google search that the CRA is a favorite whipping boy of conservative media, such as the National Review (gee, I never thought I'd link to that). However, a relatively well-footnoted paragraph near the end of the Wikipedia entry says:

Robert Gordon [professor of economics at Northwestern] has pointed out that approximately half of the [bad subprime] loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and thus had no government obligation to offer credit to minorities. In the later part of the crisis, these mortgage companies made subprime loans at twice the rate of CRA banks. Another third of the major subprime lenders were regulated, but had very little CRA involvement. Gordon also makes the argument that the weakening of the CRA in 2004 was followed by intensified subprime lending.

Wonder if Michele read the Wikipedia before her speech.

Westover continues:

To lay the entire blame for the current financial crisis on the Community Reinvestment Act is foolish; to declare out of bounds discussion of the economic ramifications of government intervention in the housing market through the CRA ensures we won’t get at the root cause of the problem.

Capital knows no color. The Community Reinvestment Act was one of many government interventions that siphoned capital into housing that otherwise was and would have continued flowing into other sectors of the economy. The low risk-high reward promised by the housing market, secured by the government, created a credit expansion unsupported by real value. The point is, there is an economic impact of the CRA, independent of race, which needs to be recognized and discussed. And if one must be a “racist” to discuss it, that discussion is never going to take place, with dire consequences for race relations and the economy.

Posted by Craig Westover | September 27, 2008 9:04 AM

Westover doesn't use race based appeals in his comment. However, during her speech on the house floor, and on Larry King, Michele Bachmann blamed minorities and laws against redlining for the economic crisis. Westover completely papers over that with his defense.

Bachmann supporter Dare comments:

Wake up liberals!

Keith Hakim Ellison is a supporter of CAIR (Council on American Islamist Relations) which supports troublemakers across America like the Flying Imams and foriegn terrorists trying to get access to taxpayer funded US courts. 09.27.08 - 2:02 am | #


If you guys favor Nation of Islam thug Keith Hakin Ellison over Christian Michele Bachmann, you are really out of touch and should be ashamed of yourselves!

By the way, Nation of Isam leader Louis Farakkhan refers to Adolph Hitler as " A Very Good Man" 09.27.08 - 2:20 am

Another commenter on MPR disputes Craig Westover:

CRA was passed in the 1970s. So an initiative passed thirty years ago caused the current economic crisis, despite it working fine for decades?

Look, there were plenty of people using NINJA no-documentation loans to get huge mansions. I think those bad loans have a far greater negative effect than people using CRA-encouraged loans to buy houses in North Minneapolis.

Posted by Doctor Gonzo | September 27, 2008 10:34 AM

Well put.