Community Reinvestment

Stephen Bainbridge rubbishes the idea that the Community Reinvestment Act caused the Wall Street meltdown:

Put simply, the freezing up of the credit markets doesn’t have anything to do with either affirmative action or illegal immigration, and people who believe it does are on a par with the conspiracy theorists who think fluoridation is a Chicom plot.

When you look at the data, it’s true that minorities are slightly over-represented in the sub-prime mortgage market. Yet, whites (non-minorities) received 72.5% of subprime mortgages. Blacks got 16.2% of subprime mortgages, which isn’t all that different from the 12.4% of the general population that blacks comprise. The Hispanics about whom Malkin is so hysterical got only 6.2% of subprime mortgages, significantly less than their 14.8% of the general population. But you don’t find an analysis of that data at blogs like those of Malkin or Krikorian.

Bainbridge comes to his variant of conservatism by way of intellectual honesty. And his numbers square with what I’ve seen in pawing through foreclosure records.

Friendly Fire (II)

David Brooks:

If McCain is elected, he will face conditions tailor-made to foster disorder. He will be leading a divided and philosophically exhausted party. There simply aren’t enough Republican experts left to staff an administration, so he will have to throw together a hodgepodge with independents and Democrats. He will confront Democratic majorities that will be enraged and recriminatory.

I think the point on staffing is real, at least on the national-security side. Many with ties to the Bush administration (Bolton, Feith, Wolfowitz) have no chance of gaining Senate confirmation. Others are damaged (Powell, Rice). The GOP bench is surprisingly thin.

Friendly Fire

Noah Millman:

Foreign policy looms exceptionally large for me this time, and so far while I find Obama disappointing I find McCain genuinely alarming. Whether deep inside him he still harbors the “old McCain” who opposed the Lebanon intervention, supported the Powell Doctrine, and led the way on normalization with Vietnam, as a candidate McCain clearly wants to run on the permanent emergency, with a subtext that only a real American can be trusted to defend America, and real Americans can be identified by their reflex hawkishness in all circumstances. A campaign of that character would have to be defeated, for the good of the country.

McCain’s approach in that way is similar to Giuliani’s. It’s not clear whether said approach was Giuliani’s undoing — the strategic idiocy that was punting everything in advance of the Florida primary clouds the picture. But it certainly contributed to one of Joe Biden’s better lines: “a noun, a verb and 9/11.”

Winning Attitude

Ross Douthat:

He’s running for the Presidency at a time when the Republican brand is in the toilet, with a party that seems unable to excite its hard-core supporters or woo swing voters, and a leadership — McCain included — that gets the heebie-jeebies when called upon to discuss any topic save terrorism, 9/11 and the Surge. Even if by some Jeremiah Wright-aided miracle he edges out Barack Obama, he’ll limp into the White House as a John Major-in-the-making – an aging politician who won an election that belonged by rights to the other party, facing Democratic majorities in both houses, a media that will be primed to treat Senators Obama and Clinton as the default co-Presidents for the next four years, and a conservative base that’s just waiting for an opportunity to turn on him. Does this sound like a recipe for a successful Presidency?

Quitter (II)

Orson Scott Card, remembering fondly Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard critique of American society:

We are what Sozhenitsyn accused us of being. Unwilling to listen to and learn from him, we are acting out the tragicomedy of national decline. Is there still greatness in us? Just as the dying British Empire, led by the genuinely brave Winston Churchill, had one last paroxysm of greatness in World War II, we may be enacting our last spasm of courage under the leadership of George W. Bush.

What rot. This is not 1978, and Card’s take is little more than Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech updated.

Palin and Abortion

As usual, the right misses the point when it comes to abortion:

I saw a concerted effort by the media to marginalize her as a far right winger, out of touch with moderate and pro-choice women.  This is unfair to her, and to all of us who respect her admirable decision to carry to term a child diagnosed in utero with Down’s Syndrome.  It’s been noted here that 90 percent of parents who receive the news that their child will be born with this disability choose to terminate.  Governor Palin put her principles into practice.  And as a pro-choicer, I can say with sincerity that I admire her act of character and love.

As can we all. What provokes rather more controversy, however, is the assumption that people who believe as Palin does have the right to impose their views on the other 90 percent of America.


John Derbyshire:

In this age, optimism is for children and fools. And liberals.

Some children will be left behind. You cannot “remake the Middle East” or “defeat evil.” The poor will always be with us. Black and white will never mingle together in unselfconscious harmony. Corporations will not research and explore without hope of profit. Russia will not become Sweden. Forty million immigrants speaking a single language will not assimilate.

Wasn’t remaking the Middle East a conservative notion, or at least a Republican one? Didn’t Reagan go to Reykjavík to talk Gorbachev into agreeing both sides should give up all their nukes? Hasn’t the Bush administration touted its willingness to put blacks in high positions?  

We see here a movement at war with its own legacy — and with the better angels of the country’s nature. 

Clearly, though, these guys don’t know what to believe. Jay Nordlinger, also of National Review:

20. Obama won’t settle for an America in which some kids can’t get an education. And we child-haters on the right would, of course.

Jay, meet John.