Saturday, December 27, 2008

Temporary Break

Sorry folks, we are currently undergoing a short period of scheduling insanity so the blog has suffered. The blog shall return soon with all new posts! Please be patient.

Strong Moderate

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

START - Finished

What does START mean to you? For many of the new generations it means the little button you click in Microsoft Windows that gives you access to a bunch of programs not sitting on the desktop...

For older generations and the slim minority of newer generations that care about history, START is the STrategic Arms Reduction Talks that began on June 29, 1982 and culminated in an agreement with the USSR about Nuclear missile and material reduction in 1991. START II began in June 1992 and ended with President H.W. Bush and President Boris Yelstin's agreement in January 1993. START III was dead on arrival in 1997 and dealt a death blow by the George W Bush Administration's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Before I mention why I'm bringing up START let's talk about a strange trend that you can notice in that last paragraph.. did anything about the culmination of the START talks strike you as odd or telling? START I: Pres. Reagan brings it up, pushes it until it passes. START II: Pres. George HW Bush brings it up with the Russians, Pres. Clinton pushes it until it passes. START III: Offered by Russian diplomats, agreed to in principle by sane State Dept. diplomats, killed by Pres. GW Bush. Sad.. It is like we this Bush Administration has taken pride in wasting and throwing away all the good will and soft diplomatic power the US possessed and worked hard to gain. Hard work by Presidents and proud American men and women who toiled to step America up just one more step so that the next global generation would see America on a pedestal not in the dirt. Thanks, Dubya - you have spoiled and deserted their ideals then threw them out all in the name of a new American "power" - force and terror.

Well... Where was I before my diatribe? START! That's right, START is going to expire! START expires in December 2009. The United States and Russia are trying to come together to come to an agreement. There are a few, uh how to put this.... problems.

First, US diplomats have zero credibility or power because they represent a lame-duck President with less than 90 days to serve.

Second, this Bush Administration is more interested developing ABMS (Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems) and antagonizing the Russian Bear than it is willing to actually doing something truly courageous - working towards a more peaceful world.

Third, the Russians are looking to regain the Soviet glory of military power with no international restrictions (obviously they have rose-colored glasses on their hindsight along with a severe case of selective amnesia).

Fourth, there is a general disagreement as to exactly what a new START would cover - US diplomats want to limit the number of missiles period, the Russians would like to see a limit on warheads (there can be many of these per missile) and they want a limit on ABMS.

I hope that in the 11 months following the Presidential Inauguration that (then) President Obama will have the ability to multitask effectively and deal with the START talks seriously and with great care. As an aside - I do not believe that total disarmament should neither be a possibility nor a goal. The reduction of nuclear weapons will lend a hand to a more effective security between nations and will reduce the ability of rogue states or terrorists of getting their hands on Nuclear materials.

Have ideas? Share them here! Comment!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Auto Bailout: Corporate We(a)l(th)fare

Seriously democrats? Seriously?! Democrats got a huge mandate to do what they will with the nation by capturing the Presidency and enlarged their margin in the House of Reps and Senate. What do they do? What will their first lame duck move be? Trying to get the Big Three Auto companies (Ford, GM, Chrysler) to either be allowed to received money from the 700 Billion dollar bailout already passed or to pass another bailout just for American Auto companies.

Here's a better idea: Let them suffer. The crisis these companies face can be divided into two main problem areas: Management and Unions.

Management


It would be hard to imagine a company losing Billions of dollars for many quarters in a row and two or three years after having consecutive negative quarters beginning to respond with changes to structure and product design. The Big Three have done just that.

What did Ford and GM focus on while gas prices where skyrocketing? They were producing and actually expanding SUV production. Now they claim that somehow it is the economic climate that is causing their losses and they claim it is foreign competition that is adding to their woes. That's like wondering why the sidewalk lemonade stand doesn't do so well in winter and then blaming the lack of lemonade sales on the fact that there is a Starbucks 10 feet away.

Of course gas prices affect Auto sales, even Toyota had some losses last quarter (in the US) and it is also obvious that competition makes it more difficult for a company to sell the same product and have the consumer buy it without thinking. The management at the Big Three always seem to have their eyes on Washington for a handout ever since they decided that American consumers wouldn't trust new Japanese cars that came flooding into the US in the 70's when gas prices were sky high and they couldn't stop making gas guzzling boat-cars. It is true that American consumers like buying products that are made in America and have brand-name allegiance but there is a limit. The companies had fair warning that quotas on foreign cars were going out the window and should have gotten the message when "foreign" vehicle plants started popping up in the South and now have 100% American labor. These big company executives just refuse to believe that their reality from 1965 has changed.

These management executives have to realize a few things. 1) American consumers are smart, they will buy the best vehicle for their needs no matter how many million dollars is spent on researching a trendy model name. 2) Making a bad product should not make you eligible for a handout. 3) Unlike banks, if you fail there are plenty of other companies that can pick up the slack, there is no Auto Tsunami in the making. 4) React to the economy, don't sit around and wait until it beats you to death. 5) Deal with the Unions (UAW), they are sucking your carcass dry.

Unions


Bargaining organizations are an important part of the advocacy of blue-collar workers. Unions also played an important part in the fight against oppressive businesses and the politicians that were in Big Business's pockets. There.. proof I do not hate unions.

Now, moving on to the UAW (United Auto Workers), the union dealing with the the Auto companies in question. The UAW is largely corrupt and has turned from an advocacy group to a group that seeks to feed itself by extortion. This union isn't working for the true interests of workers it is making moves and spreading misinformation amongst those who may not know as much as them in order to cause walkouts and strikes. The effect of this being the UAW is extremely powerful and of course.. that means they want more. The UAW keeps finding the weakest points of the Big Three and then making sure they pay dearly before their workers return to the line.

The sad part of this setup is that it is the workers that are being hurt. First they lose wages when they are not working then they go back to work feeling better but without receiving any substantial increase in meaningful work benefits or work conditions. Meanwhile the unions gain more clout and more memberships.. They ought to change their title to UAE - United for Auto Extortion.

Conclusion


Democrats, no doubt, have a debt of gratitude to pay to Unions who endorsed them and made sure their members turned out in large numbers for their candidates but it is time to stand up to corrupt unions and failing big businesses and say "Help doesn't mean handouts!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Honoring Veteran's Day
Honoring Veteran's Day


If you read this blog from time to time you will know that the Armed Forces and their Veterans are something I care very much about. No matter what the policy of their mission they ought to be respected and protected when they do their jobs right. [There are a few that do not and it is those who sully the name of our military forces.]

The members of the Armed Forces and their Veterans deserve our thanks and gratitude.

Show your gratitude by donating to the USO or by supporting veterans who have returned injured, physically or mentally. Remember the Government might let a soldier through the cracks, it is our job as a society to rescue them before they fall further.


Click here to donate to the USO (United Service Organization)

Click here to send a donation to DAV (Disabled American Veterans)

Obama's Cabinet

Well... not 24 hours after Senator Barack Obama became President-Elect all eyes have shifted from victory celebrations to the possibilities for the positions of the Obama Administration's Cabinet positions. Word on the street (aka in the Beltway) is that Obama will be making his decisions very quickly and will push to hit the ground running with his political mandate. Unlike President Clinton in 1992 there is an urgency to today's economic problems and if something isn't done quickly Democrats will be heavily punished in 2010 and 2012. But who could possibly serve in an Obama Administration? Who will it be?!

Let's focus on the three "big ones", listing a few names for each and in bold will be the one I believe that would be truly best suited for it and in italics the one that is most likely of those listed to actually get it.

Secretary of State:
Strobe Talbott - Brookings Institution president, former deputy sec. of state; honest, focused and very intelligent man with a real grip of the issues and problems America faces abroad
James Baker - Sec. of State under H.W. Bush, one of the best at the job in the past 20 years and a great deal maker and *bonus* is an actual international realist and a Republican
Richard "Dick" Lugar - Knows his stuff and there's no drama around this expert Senator who is the ranking minority member on the Foreign Relations Senate Committee, *bonus* is a Republican from a state Obama carried
Chuck Hagel - Senator widely admired for his straight-talk and positive vision *bonus* Republican, a realist
John Kerry - Long-time democratic Senator, former Presidential candidate, No. 2 Democrat on the Foreign Relations Cmte.

Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates - Current Secretary. I have written previously about his courage and true patriotism in helping our troops and keeping America safe in every way he can, *bonus* is well respected on both sides of the aisle, won't seem like changing horses midstream
Robert Zoellick - Former president of the World Bank, knows the ins and outs of foreign- policy as well as being a Washington insider


Secretary of the Treasury
David Lipton - Former under secretary of the Treasury
Hillary Clinton - Remember her? Yup, Her name has come up for this position because she's from New York (sorta) and knows how to play hardball with Wall Street, *bonus* A conciliation gift from the victor, get her out of the Senate - an enemy is best kept close
Warren Buffet - Maybe the Sage of Omaha will know how to invest America's money in such a way that businesses don't disappear and the taxpayer is protected from Big Business's foibles, *bonus* Everybody knows and respects this guy.. he is the American dream - Midwestern No one into Richest Man on Earth
Unknown - a Wall Street Veteran with some Government experience, probably from the Big Bank sector

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President-Elect Obama

Barack Obama passes 270 electoral votes, defeats John McCain, and will become 44th President of the United States.

Wow. Just let it sink in for a moment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

2008 Election Campaign almost over.. finally!

It almost over. You won't have to sit through political ads or get annoying volunteer phone calls or even more annoying robo-calls. No more half hour political infomercials. No more intense negative advertisements. No more mailboxes full of glossy postcards telling you that if you vote for Candidate B the terrorists win.. or your taxes will go up. No more yard signs popping up faster than weeds. No more 3rd Party supporters shouting at you near the intersection that "they both stink!" Aaah, none of that.

Just a 3 month wait until the pomp and circumstance of a Presidential Inauguration. The interest of waiting for a Cabinet to be formed and a super-lame ducked President handing out pardons and signing Executive Statements like its Republican Christmas. Then we start anew..

But think... if you don't vote you don't have the right to complain or applaud. The privilege of voting bestowed upon you by the Constitution be lost by your own laziness or apathy. Even if your Vote doesn't count for much.. it does count to YOU. Vote your conscious. Vote your values. Vote your wallet. Whatever it is, Just VOTE.

It isn't difficult. It doesn't cost much (just gas or a fare to get you to the polling station). Ask right now where your polling place is if you aren't sure. Then go out and vote tomorrow. Vote for the sick man who can't cast his ballot. Vote for the young girl who is just a few days too young to vote this time around. Vote for the mentally disabled. Vote for the soldier far away who hasn't had the chance to cast his or her ballot because they fight for their survival with no time to spare. Vote... For goodness sakes, Vote.

Vote for the good candidate. Vote for the honest candidate. Vote for the open candidate. Vote for your candidate. Make a decision about their values, their policy, and their ability. Vote.

I think that will suffice but I wish to reiterate one last time:

VOTE

Conservatives for Obama?


Conservatives for Obama... that doesn't make much sense, does it? Let's remind ourselves of some of the key positions that Senator Obama has taken: Government provided health care for all, support for Big Labor, support for abortion rights, opposition to the limitations of "marriage" benefits to homosexual couples, and the expansion of nearly every government entity he can get his hands on. Sounds grim. Then why are so many Republicans and Conservatives voting for him?

The answer is simple, he is running for the Office of President of the United States. The President occupies a very unique space in the American body politic, he (for this election) not only represents America to the world but he also is the chief executive of all things Political and Military. The President has the power to appoint and remove every high official in the Executive Branch and appoints all of the Judges in the Federal Judicial Branch (including the Supreme Court).

It is because of this that you find more cross-party voting in the Presidential race then you do any other type of partisan race in this country. Conservatives aren't voting for policies when they vote for Obama on Nov 4th, they are voting for a type of President that they'd like to see after eight years of "Us vs. Them" Republican rule. "Republicons" are hoping that an Obama Administration will not be vengeful one especially seeing as how (in a very modest estimate) Democrats will probably gain 6-8 seats in the Senate.

Another "positive" that conservatives are hoping for is a collapse of the Republican Party as it has existed in the past eight years. Why? Are they all self-hating Republicans? Nope. They want to reshape the GOP into a winning coalition once again. Depending on rich white folks, big business, evangelicals, and rural whites just isn't enough. The politics of fear that the Bush Administration worked up into a victory in 2004 are good for a one-time win but not good enough for continual electoral success. The Republican Party is hoping for a Reagan Revolution (or at the very least a Gingrich one) with new energetic leaders, preferably young ones so they don't have to reinvent themselves every 15 years. These leaders should be able to attract new young voters, the "base" - whatever it looks like, and capture Independents as well. What pro-Obama Republicans are looking for is a political calm where they can safely attack liberal policy while repairing and re-inventing themselves into a "cool" moderate conservative party with clear party planks that will endure. Now is the time for Republicans to start thinking about how to hold ground in 2010 and gain Congressional seats in 2012.

It is for the above reasons and so much more that I support the candidacy of Barack Obama. I do hope he gets elected, but don't think for one moment I have wavered from my values or beliefs because I will attack him any day if he is elected 44th President of the United States tomorrow. Good Luck Sen. Obama!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Palin Disaster

My friends, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska has turned out to be quite the disaster.

There are so many reasons why after a couple month acting as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin has failed. First off let me say that she did a great job energizing the Republican base. I'm talking about those die-hard Republican voters who were a little apprehensive of Senator McCain's maverick attitude and record. She brought those Republicans into the fold and gave them a person to cheer on as well as well as acting as a symbol of John McCain's efforts to reach out to evangelical and far-right Republicans. She was needed to rally the (relatively new) base of the Republican Party and liven up the Convention. Then...

What happened after that?

Negativity - Sarah Palin came out swinging at the Convention... although I didn't appreciate some of her more unfair attacks, I understand that is a part of her job as a Vice-Presidential candidate. Remember, I just said "part" of her job, not ALL of it. Since the RNC she has not stopped and the attacks are getting a wider scope. Wat started with attacking Obama has widened to include Biden, the Democrats, people who vote Democratic, and finally all people who live in states that vote Democratic. I can understand the first two but attacking voters who don't live in "Real America" (the part of America that votes "R") is just plain ridiculous. McCain ought to smack her upside the head and remind her that he needs Democrats and Independents to vote for him if he wants to beat Obama. Remember, in most large campaigns the key is Independents.


Lack of Experience - Gov. Palin's lack of experience and knowledge robbed the McCain camp from their most honest and sincere attack of Barack Obama, his lack of experience. Obama has had a few years in the Illinois State Senate and four more in the US Senate, not a whole lot when lined up side by side to the Senior Senator of Arizona. Obama has never been a Committee chairman or had a leadership role within the Senate unlike Sen. McCain. I know, I know.. some say this argument is weak because of other factors that can make up for experience.. but the attack is a honest and clean one. When Gov. Palin arrived at the scene this argument disappeared. I know one of the talking points often used by Palin fanatics is that she has more "executive experience" but let's face it small town mayor, PTA member, an undergrad degree (barely) from 5 different colleges/universities/community colleges, and then two years as Governor do not stack up nicely against Law School, State Legislature and US Senate experience. Remember folks, quality not quantity. Her lack of experience and knowledge of federal government and its inner workings in certainly something that could be remedied with a few months on the job but the same could be said of Sen. Obama and that takes away all the experience attacks that we heard between the end of the Democratic nomination and the pick of Palin.


Scandal/Ethics - Adding someone as your running mate whose name is already embroiled in a scandal involving family and government firing in her home state by well-respected members of the state is risky. Same goes for someone is known for clearly rewarding friends with government positions is also risky. Doing both is well... plain stupid. The Palin disaster really begins with her actions in Alaska, which although seems far away, from the "lower 48" as they call us, is still going to get into the news. Sen. McCain's image is that of a reformer who wants to change Washington and sweep out dirty deals and dirtier politicians not pick one who has used millions in earmarks, fires state troopers at will, and hires cronies. He bruised his own image and once again opened up an attack route that the Obama campaign could use on him without fear of much of a counter-attack.

Not Press Friendly - When a candidate is ahead in the polls they suddenly make like a clam and shut up when it comes to the press - no need to give the press material to snipe you with. When you are behind you talk, talk, talk until the press give you free coverage and buddy up to you.

Celebrity - Sarah Palin came up too quick. Usually the position of Vice President means that after the President serves his/her four or eight years, the Vice President can run with all of their new found experience and support. That's why an experienced Presidential nominee would pick a less known person to be their running mate, to bolster their own weaknesses and sort of give future direction to their own party. By the selection of John McCain of Palin he has for all intents and purposes rocketed Sarah Palin to rock star status amongst Republicans and that's not good. Sarah Palin is a rural white who governs a rural mostly white state in its own region, that doesn't play well with the majority of the electorate. Come 2012 if McCain doesn't win or 2016 if he does, the Republican nomination is almost certainly going to include Sarah Palin's name and with her popularity already she may just win... which means that unless a miracle occurs or the demographics of the US suddenly and rapidly go to the rural areas (and non-whites disappear), Republicans will lose again. She is now a political celebrity, and why? What has she done to deserve Republican recognition? When did she do something impressive or gutsy that earned her major political cred? Why should I listen to her? She is a Governor. I would even venture to say a pretty good one for Alaska (outside of the ethics scandal). That shouldn't make her a star in a political party, that makes her semi-important but not a star

Conclusion - In conclusion, I wasn't a big fan of Palin, then I got to know her and I have decided that I both like her a lot less and that she is losing this election for John McCain, a man I respect very much.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tim Clare: Humorist par Excellance & Candidate for NE Regent

I know that I haven't posted here in awhile (over two months actually) but I've been working on a doozy of a story about the State Department as well as actually physically working for a campaign this election cycle.

There was something though in my inbox that caught my eye and I had to share. It seems that I receive regular emails from nearly every campaign, PAC, and political party in Nebraska and I try to read most of the ones I get. (That being said, DO NOT sign me up for Scott Kleeb's email list, I will find you and I will laugh in your face)

So, I was rummaging through my spam folder when I found an email from one Tim Clare, candidate for University of Nebraska Regent. He seems like a decent and knowledgeable guy and I opened his email. It was titled "NU Regent Candidate Tim Clare sets the Record Straight‏", alright.. he has been hammered by his opponent recently. Then I go on to read a long diatribe or rhetoric about his conservative position on stem-cell research (that he shares with all of the Nebraska Congressional delegation.) Wonderful.


He also list a bunch of doctors that support him. Here's a copy of what he has written:

Locally, please note that the following doctors are supporting my candidacy:



Dr. Deepak Gangahar
Dr. Mike Duggan

Dr. Alan Berg
Dr. Susan Hansen

Dr. Dave Clare
Dr. Tim Govaerts

Dr. Cory Friesen
Dr. Marc Koenig

Dr. Kurstin Friesen
Dr. Steve Ackerman

Dr. Doug Netz
Dr. Walter Duffy

Dr. Steve Nagengast
Dr. Phil Essay

Dr. Paul Petersen
Dr. Joe Petty

Dr. James Gallentine
Dr. Bill Johnson

Dr. Sandy Gallentine
Dr. Chuck Reese

Dr. Keith Miller
Dr. Clark Antonson

Dr. Jeff Tomjack
Dr. Rob Rhodes

Dr. Pat Clare
Dr. Rex Largen

Dr. Marlon Weiss
Dr. Mike Ferris

Dr. Steve Martin
Dr. Ameeta Martin

Dr. Mark Heibel
Dr. Scott Noel

Dr. Scott Strasburger
Dr. Nate Green

Dr. Alan Nissen
Dr. Sushil Lacy

Dr. Tom Tegt
Dr. Bob Byington

Dr. Greg Sutton
Dr. Kent Reckewey

Dr. Mike Germer
Dr. Eric Crimmins

Dr. Doug Dalke
Dr. Scott Donkin

Dr. Tom Heiser
Dr. Dave Hilger

Dr. Mark Hinrichs
Dr. Max Linder

Dr. Bill Nye
Dr. Herb Reese

Dr. Bob Shoettger
Dr. Jerry Spethman

Dr. Jerry Tanner
Dr. Harry Tolly

Dr. Don Walla
Dr. James Weesner

Dr. Paul Zuercher

[Note: Emphasis is mine]

So, let's see here, Mr. Clare. Amongst the 55 doctors that "locally" support you:

  • Two are related directly to you [See Dr. Pat Clare, Dr. Dave Clare
  • Several of these "doctors" are actually people with MDs- such as Dr. Bob Schoettger - notice it is mis-spelled above without the 'c', who is a great guy and gifted dentist
  • A comedian - Dr. Steve Martin - just kidding, he is the CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield Nebraska who lives in Omaha and has donated the max ($2,000) to President Bush in 2000, is a lukewarm supporter of McCain '08 ($500), as well as an enormous supporter of Ben Nelson 2004-06 ($5,500)
  • and, Dr. Bill Nye (not, the science guy!) Who it turns out, along with his wife, are huge Chuck Hagel fans (they give him 500+ & 1000+ dollars in his elections, respectively) as well as being McCain 2000 fans
The list is long and filled with some great folks who may not fit the traditional interpretation of the term "doctor" or "local". The race is on.. and Mr. Clare's email definitely added some interesting angles and a moment of humor into the horse race.

Links:

The original press release on Tim Clare's website is here

CNN Commentary: So what if Obama was a Muslim or an Arab?

I was in the middle of writing a new post about Gov. Palin when I went to the CNN website.. and read Campbell Brown's commentary.

Please click the link, read it in its entirety and comment back here on what you think of it.


Commentary: So what if Obama was a Muslim or an Arab? - CNN

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DOW under 10K & Cronyism Watch!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped below 10,000 for the first time in four years. Guess that means that bailout/rescue bill didn't suddenly ignite the investing engine of the United States middle/upper class. Kind of a sad time with all the bouncing up and down of the stock markets. With the future of the market looking so rocky, this definitely isn't the best time to get in.

Nancy Gibbs writes a very poignant and well thought out article for Times magazine about the true winners of the financial crisis: frugal financial conservatives. I agree with her, the fact that there have been few voices that have encouraged the American people to do something that led to our financial might, save money, is disconcerting. After 9/11 we all remember President Bush telling us that the best way to fight back against the terrorists was to "go shopping". Now, while we are in a crisis it has still been the Administration's message that a reduction in spending is a sign of our economies weakness although our US savings rate has been going negative since late 2000. The only other time the US went negative in their savings rate was a period during the early 1930's... remember how that turned out? Not Pleasant.

Maybe more people should be listening to the Concord Coalition, one of personal favorite groups, when they talk about how saving and paying down the national debt instead of adding on 4 trillion (thanks, President George W Bush) can lead to a return to financial safety. Who would have predicted that spending more than we earn would lead to a credit crisis? I mean.. who'da thunk it?

The last item is today's Cronyism Watch:

Treasury Secretary fresh off his victory in passing a bailout bill (although not quite as empowering as he'd have liked) has decided that with that legislative mandate he'd do something that has become commonplace in this Bush Administration, hire friends and people from the industry to regulate themselves.

Paulson hired Neel Kashkari to oversee the Troubled Assets Relief Program and the newly created Office of Financial Stability. Mr. Kashkari worked as assistant Treasury secretary for International Economics and Development and had joined the Treasury Dept. in July 2006 and worked on several of Treasury's initiatives in response to the housing crisis - including the formation of the mortgage industry alliance Hope Now.

So, this fellow was suppose to be stopping the sub-prime mortgage crisis from developing further.. by forming an alliance of the people who got us into the mess to begin with. Wonderful. I guess his HUGE success in stopping any further problems from erupting got him his promotion to assistant Secretary and now his throne as the dispenser of 250 BILLION dollars by December 31st, 2008. Nice. So failure has been rewarded with promotion and powers never thought possible in US Financial history.

Seems like a typical Bush Administration story.. but something doesn't seem right.. It just isn't dirty enough. Was he someone important's roommate? Did he help someone cheat or hold great parties? Did he give/raise huge amounts of money for someone's campaign? Nah.. not really. Hmm.. well what did Financial Czar Kashkari do before he dedicated his life to public service at the Treasury Department in 2006? What's that? OH, HE WAS AN Vice-Presidential EXECUTIVE AT GOLDMAN SACHS! It seems as though Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, himself a former topman at the Goldman Sachs firm, has been filling the Treasury chock full of his former buddies from Goldman Sachs. Paulson’s inner circle already includes former Goldmanites Dan Jester, a financial institutions banker, and retired banker Steve Shafran, who focused on corporate restructuring at Goldman. It also included Robert Steel, who has since left Treasury to become CEO of Wachovia.

I know that a bit of cronyism is perfectly normal in politics. Every politician, and in fact normal person, wants to surround themselves with people they trust. When it comes to the government though that person should also be able to do the job they were hired to do in a fair and competent manner. One would think that the ultimate picture of cronyism and nepotism was JFK appointing his brother, RFK, to be Attorney General but guess what? RFK was competent and did an OK job. FEMA headman Micheal "Heckuva Job Brownie" Brown was not.

What a joke this Administration has become. We have come to expect the worse from the Government and not even hope for a change. Whoever the next President may be, I wish them luck cleaning up that mess. They are going to need it.

Paulson taps bailout chief - CNN Money

Feel free to comment, I'd love to hear what you think!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Palin.. in Omaha

Who: Sarah Palin
What: A pep rally with your favorite moose hunter/hockey mom/pit bull/Alaskan Governor/Energy expert/Vice presidential candidate/Average Joe Six-Pack/Russian expert/woman
When: 6pm - Sunday, October 5th, 2008
Where: Omaha Civic Auditorium


Sarah Palin is coming... to Omaha? Yes that's right. The second district, where Obama has recently moved paid staff to try to capture their single electoral vote, will be receiving a visit from Gov. Sarah Palin today.

Why? The McCain campaign is looking to appear strong ever since they pulled out of Michigan and abandoned that state to Democrats. Now that Obama has the upper hand in the election the McCain camp is looking to hit him in other places in order to either strengthen areas that were thought to be solid or areas beginning to drift in the "wrong" direction.

Some have said that it was because the NE Republican party was somehow scared of a defeat of one or more of the Congressional offices going to a Democrat. Don't believe that bunk. Mike Johanns is looking to defeat Scott Kleeb in the Senate race by a margin of at least 15 points and Lee Terry is looking strong in the District 2 House race without much chance for defeat.

If you go look for "maverick" Palin to talk about bipartisanship for a little while before slamming Obama for the next hour. It is very possible that she will use her Obama is a "pal" to William Ayers for a third time in her speech. Mostly, if you go - enjoy yourself, listen, and tell us what you thought of it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hagel's Farewell Speech

What a sad day for the Senate and for Nebraska. Here is the transcript of Sen. ChuckHagel's farewell speech to the Senate:

Mr. President, thank you. And I am very pleased that you are in the chair this afternoon, and for those who are not aware of the fact, Nebraska's entire senate delegation is on the floor today, the one who will soon become the senior senator presiding. So thank you, Mr. President.

I would like to begin my remarks this afternoon acknowledging four of our colleagues who will be leaving the senate along with me at the end of this congress, the 110th Congress. And then make some additional comments.

This body will lose two of the most respected, highly regarded consensus builders in the history of this body. And I speak of the senior Senator from New Mexico, Senator Domenici, and the senior Senator from Virginia, Senator Warner. Between the two of these distinguished national leaders, they have given the senate and this country 70 years of service. Most Americans are aware of senators Domenici and Warner and the contributions they've made. Those of us who have had the privilege of serving with these two individuals know what they have meant to our country.

They have been role models, leaders, men of conscience, of vision, of integrity, of courage. And all of those most valued human characteristics have been evident when America has needed them most. For their voice, and their courage and their vision, we thank them– for the kind of men they are and the senators they have been, we thank them. We are all much enriched by our association with senators Warner and Domenici, and this country will miss them greatly. But they leave strong legacies. They leave men and women who have been touched by their leadership and their values and will carry on behind them, emulating their leadership and their vision.

I wish also to recognize one of my classmates that I came to the senate with 12 years ago. He is our neighbor from the west, the senior Senator from Colorado, Wayne Allard. Aside from Senator Allard and Colorado usually taking Nebraska's water, we find little to quarrel with in the kind of work that Senator Allard has done for his state and our country. I've had an opportunity to serve 12 years with Senator Allard on the banking committee. His very steady performance, leadership--he will be missed on that committee, as well as the other committees he serves on and has been very active in, as my colleague in the chair knows who served with him as well on the armed services committee; and his leadership on the budget committee in particular will be missed. And I wish to acknowledge that friendship and that leadership of Senator Allard.

The fourth member of the senate who will be leaving along with me is the senior Senator from Idaho, Larry Craig. I have had an opportunity to work with senator Craig over the years on environmental issues, energy issues, trade issues, agriculture issues. And there have been few who have been as forceful and important a voice on behalf of those critical challenges to our country.

Senator Craig, Senator Allard, Senator Warner, Senator Domenici all leave the United States Senate a better institution for their service.

On January 7, 1997, I took an oath of office here in the United States senate, an oath to the constitution, and I became the 1,841st person who has ever served in the United States Senate. That number struck me that day because I recognized, once again, and soon to come to truly appreciate over a 12-year period in this body, how few people have had the opportunity, the privilege, the honor, to serve in the united states senate. Less than 2,000 Americans in the history of our country have served in the United States Senate.

That doesn't make us better. That doesn't mean we're smarter, or in any way more privileged. But what it does do is reflect upon the kind of responsibility that we have in this body and the expectations that are placed on each of us, as should be the case, for our service.

I first thank the people of Nebraska for the privilege that I've been given to serve in this body for 12 years. I thank my staff, not for their service to me, but for their service to this country. I thank my colleagues, republicans and democrats, who I have learned so much from over these 12 years. In particular, Senators Lugar and Biden, who I have learned much from in serving with them on the senate foreign relations committee for the last 12 years. Who have been patient with me, who helped me, as well as their staffs.

The two leaders of this body, Senators Reid and McConnell, I wish to thank them. I have had privileged relationships with each. Senator McConnell and I have grown to have a very close relationship, friendship, and I very much value that relationship. And I thank Senator McConnell for his many courtesies over the years, as I do senator Reid. These two men are charged with great responsibilities. And especially over the last two years during as difficult a Congress certainly that I've served in, and I suspect most of my colleagues have served in, they have done a remarkably good and effective job.

Certainly I thank my family for this privilege and their support and their guidance. And they, too, have been privileged, and enriched, and enhanced by being part of this experience over the last 12 years.

These last 12 years have been years of global reorientation and historic events. And as I have represented Nebraskans during these turbulent times, I have formed judgments and drawn conclusions about America's future.

The strength of any country is its people. Constitutions, governments, public and private institutions are important for they form the structure of a society. The boundaries of social behavior. But it is the people, the individuals, who make the difference in life and in the world.

Americans possess a generous spirit and uncommon decency predicated on faith and family, hard work, fair play, and belief in a better tomorrow. The challenges that face America today and in the future are not just American challenges but global challenges. Everything we do or don't do has global implications, just as everything that happens around the world has implications for us here in our country.

The United States Senate is a unique institution. It is unique among all the governing bodies of the world. It's imperfect. It's slow. It's tedious. It's sometimes maddening. Certainly frustrating. But the brilliance of our forefathers understood completely and carefully, how, I don't know, that the world would at some point come together with a great confluence of complications. And to have a body whose main responsibility would be to take the longer view -- the longer view of legislation, the longer view of actions, the longer view of alliances, of relationships, of all our policies, was its primary focus.

Tough questions. Questions about consequences of actions, consequences of inaction. That is the essence of the united states senate. And the many lessons I've learned in the 12 years I've been here reinforced my belief in our country, but also reinforced my belief in these institutions, and in particular the Congress of the United States.

For the essence of public confidence is transparency and accountability. That is our institutional responsibility. It is our individual responsibility. And if free people know the facts, if free people are living in a world where there is transparency, where there is accountability, that society will prosper. It will fix its problems. And it will deal with its injustices. Oversight, which we hear much about these days–especially in light of the financial crisis that we are in today–oversight, accountability, is a critical component of our responsibilities.

Article I of the constitution is about the Congress. We are a co-equal branch of government. And if anything I've learned in the 12 years I've been here is the importance of sharing, participating in the governance of our country, being part of that governance, helping make decisions with the president and the executive. If one of those articles of the constitution, and there are three, that set up the co-equal branches of government, the legislative, executive, the judicial. Any time there is an imbalance in governance in a republic, and one of those three becomes too powerful and the other too weak or one too weak, there will be a consequence. There will be a reaction. And it will not tilt in favor of an accountable transparent, open, effective government.

So it's like all things in life, we strive for balance. We strive for balance of governance and the founders of the constitution, this great republic had that as much the central focus as any one part of our government.

I believe this institution, the congress, will be tested more over the next few years. We need a strong president. We need a strong executive. For it is the president and the executive that we charge to carry out the policies that are made and shaped on behalf of the American people in the congress of the united states. They must have the flexibility. They must have the authority to carry those out. But not without the act of participation and partnership of the Congress of the United States. In my opinion, over the last few years, we have allowed that to drift. And I believe it has cost our country dearly.

I've also learned this lesson: bipartisan consensus is the only way a democracy will work. No party has a corner on all of the virtues, nor all the answers. A country of 300 million free people who have every right to express themselves, question their leaders, question their government, must at the end of the day somehow find some accommodation, some consensus to govern, and thereby address the issues and challenges and problems that face our country.

Without that bipartisan consensus, we end in the underbrush of political paralysis. And much of what we have seen in the last two years has been, unfortunately, about political paralysis. We all have to take some responsibility for that. Bipartisan consensus, that has to be the focus of leadership in any institution.

I've learned, also, that a free press is indispensable to a free people. As frustrating as we all know in this business the press can be–sometimes we believe we are treated unfairly, maybe sometimes we are. But there is no substitute in a democracy for a free press. A free press is the indispensable element for a free people.

I've learned, too, that power corrupts. Lord Acton had it right: power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. That doesn't mean we are a nation or body or an institution of corrupt people, or of bad people. But the more authority that's concentrated in too small a space is going to end up with an effect that is not in the best interest of a free people. Concentrations of power in the hands of a few is dangerous to a democracy. We all, who exercise some power as national leaders, must be mindful of this reality and stay vigilant to this reality.

The next president, who will assume as big an inventory of challenges and problems as any president, in my opinion, since Franklin Roosevelt on March 4th, 1933, must immediately reach to the congress to make the congress a partner, regardless of who the new president is, reach to the American people and begin building a consensus of governance in this country. There will be differences, there will be strong debates. There must be, should be. But in the end we must reach some objective, some end point, and that is to fix a problem.

We did that last night on the floor of the United States Senate. Not that what we passed in this economic stabilization act will fix all the problems. It won't. But it is important that America, our markets, the world bring back some confidence in our governance and our systems, thereby bringing all that does flow from that confidence in our market system the elements of commerce and trade and the possibilities to build a better life.

This next president will be faced with those challenges; so will this next congress. I believe that that will occur. Not just because the American people expect it and demand it, but they deserve it. And I don't think the next president or the next congress will fail. There is no perfect solution. No easy answer. But that's why we have leaders. That's why we have governance.

I want to go back to accountability for a moment. Because that is such an elemental part of anyone's life. And we're all accountable in life, our personal lives, private lives, public lives. We're all accountable to someone.

I want to read a very short statement. As a matter of fact I have this hanging in my reception room in my office. This was a handwritten statement that was found in the coat pocket of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was found at the cleaners. And this was a note that he wrote in his hand that he had on June 6th, 1944, the beginning of the Normandy Invasion, the invasion of Europe. We all recall that was d-day.

This was what then General Eisenhower, who was the commanding general wrote, in the event that d-day was a failure:

"our landings have failed and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone."

Now that is accountability. That is accountability. This one simple, honest, handwritten statement should be as much a guiding point for all of us in public office as any one thing.

I've also learned over the last 12 years that democracy actually does work. As raw as it is, it works. We in politics, we in government, government itself, the institution of government only reflects society. Politics reflects society. We respond, we react in a democracy. But the countervailing pressures, the countervailing dynamics, the countervailing debates, and philosophies, and opinions, and positions, they balance the wheel in a remarkable way. I'm not near wise enough to understand it all. I've observed it, I've participated in it for up to 12 years. It works. It works. That's why transparency is so important. So the American people can see it, and feel it, and understand it, and be part of it.

We live in an imperfect world. This are no perfect solutions. We are all imperfect people. But institutions are important because within the imperfect world, and in the process of trying to make a better world, maybe some day a perfect world, process is important because it gets us to where we want to be. It's a highway. It's a process. And we do that well here, as well as anywhere in the world. And we're always striving to make it better.

I occasionally think about this great republic–how it was formed, when it was formed. A couple of things fairly recent come to mind when we think of less than 100 years ago. Women -- women in America could not vote. Less than 100 years ago women did not have right to vote. But we addressed that, we fixed that. We fixed it through amendment 19 in our constitution.

Up until the mid 1960's, does anyone really believe that an African-American had any hope or possibility to be a nominee for president of the united states? Maybe even be president some day? The voting rights act, civil rights act of the mid 60's changed that. So we know the system can work.

These are defining times. We are living through a global reorientation. And one of the great responsibilities this body will have, the next president will have, we all will have, is to reintroduce America to the world. The world does not know who we are. Part of that's our fault. Part of that's not our fault. 6.5 billion people, 40% of those 6.5 billion under the age of 19 years old. Most people alive today were not alive during or after world war II. This can be done. It must be done. America is a great country because we are a good people.

I'd like to take my last minute in my comments today to read from a poem that I have distributed to friends and staff for 30 years. I do not know the author of this poem, and I never have. And i have never found out who the author of this poem is. But I have put it on a piece of glass and distributed hundreds and hundreds of copies to people I have worked with over the years, different things I've done.

And I end my remarks, Mr. President, this way this afternoon, by reciting this poem entitled, "The man in the glass," because it reflects on each of us. But most poignantly, it reflects on each of us who has a responsibility to serve the public and be accountable and honest:

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

And the world makes you king for a day

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself

And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife

Whose judgment upon you must pass

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one staring back in the glass.

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum

And think you're a wonderful guy

But the man in the glass says you're only a bum

If you can't look him straight in the eye.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest

For he's with you clear to the end

And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years

And get pats on the back as you pass

But your final reward will be heartache and tears

If you've cheated the man in the glass.

Mr. President, thank you. I yield the floor.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout fails and Congress keeps failing us!

Hmm.. there is a financial crisis.. that just got waaaay worse because House Democrats and Republicans can't get their rhetoric out of the way and actually work towards a little thing we like to call a compromise.. also referred to as a solution. In Washington though.. they believe that spitting rhetoric in 30, 60, and 90 seconds slots on the House floor can take the place of sitting down and hammering out a deal that may actually benefit us, their constituents.

I hope everyone takes a hard look at their Congressperson and decides whether they proved to you why they voted Yes or No to the bill because of partisan bickering or real qualms/hope for the bill. I don't care their party affiliation, show them that their time is up if they can't get their acts together and work for us, the taxpayers, instead of working for themselves and their party leaders.

Oh boy.. that bunch was really disgusting today. Horrendous. Then they all came out of it whining and pointing fingers at each other like a room full of children. Scratch that, children don't deserve to be associated with that bunch. In fact, scummy lawyers and dirty used car salespeople are more kin to many of those Congresspeople.

Meanwhile, Wall Street lost about 1 trillion dollars, let me repeat that in caps.. ONE TRILLION DOLLARS due to the stupidity and infantile actions of the House of Representatives. Clearly, both Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner thought there was a deal.. until a bunch of Congresspeople decided to vote differently. Some, no doubt, were brave individuals who bucked their party's leadership to show their true stance on this very important issue while others were selfish self-serving politicians with an eye only on that 50%+1 in November - no matter the damage done.

Perhaps you can tell from the slightly ranting and rambling nature of this post but I am very angry and frustrated with the House of Rep.s right now. Also I'm disappointed. Very disappointed. I figured that the true villain of this crisis would end up being the Senate. The House of Rep.s is meant as a quicker moving organ of government - beholden to their constituents - to react to a crisis and avert it through quick and decisive action. Meanwhile the Senate is meant as an Upper chamber for contemplation as for what is truly better for "we the people" in the short and long term. As it turns out, the Senate were the brave ones.. they put in long hours and fought against dissatisfaction with the bailout idea to create a more manageable bill that addresses our financial institutions, creates protections for taxpayers, and creates some oversight so the Treasury Secretary doesn't go immediately shovel all the money into his former employer, Goldman Sachs, pockets.

What a waste. To think that even a penny of my taxes go to pay for some of these people then they go out and put our economy in further peril. The Dow plunges nearly 780 points. The markets lost about 11 percent of their worth. The dollar is being set up for a nice devaluing slide very soon, mark my words.

Phew.. that left a bad taste in my mouth just thinking about it. Enough is Enough.

Later!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Questions for our future Vice President

After watching the first Presidential debate, I was hungering for the next one. How would Obama and McCain change their rhetoric or positions? Of course, I'll have to wait an extra week before I find out because there just happens to be a Vice Presidential debate this week in St. Louis. I got to thinking how sad it was that we only get one VP debate. I mean, that only gives us one glimpse of the two candidates and only one chance to see them head-to-head. I know they aren't as important as the Presidential candidates, but I'd like to see them twice so they both have a chance to redeem themselves in case of an epic failure or misspoken phrase (or more).

We get only one shot however this year and it should be a doozy. Gwen Ifill, senior corespondent for the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, will be hosting the event that pits Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R) against one another at the same table, eye to eye.

What questions should be asked, I was thinking to myself.. I mean if there is one thing that we've learned over the past eight years it is that Vice Presidents can be VERY powerful. So here's a little list of a few questions I came up with:

  • What non-American person of the past century do you look to for inspiration and how do you believe you've followed their path?

  • What Vice President of the past 100 years do you think has made the most difference and which do you think you would like to emulate?

  • What person in the past 25 years, who is of the opposite party, do you admire and what do you think can be learned from them?

  • As Senate President you have the tie-breaking vote, in what situation would you use that vote to go against the President or your party?

  • What issue do you believe will define your tenure as Vice President?

  • In a crisis situation, what position do you see yourself fulfilling for the President, if elected?

  • In the past two years there has been much talk about the institutional position of the Vice President, do you see the Vice President primarily as a member of the Executive or Legislative branch?

  • What role do you think experience should play in the selection of our next President of the United States?

  • What mistake that you have made so far in your career will help you be a better Vice President?

  • What is one thing about your party's candidate that you would change or dislike?

  • What makes you want to serve your running mate and what made you apprehensive?

  • What advice would you offer the other candidate for the remainder of election?

  • What about your financial plan/Iraq plan is better than your opponents and how do you see yourself passing it in a bipartisan fashion?

  • How important will bipartisanship be for your Administration, and how will you prove to Americans that you are working for them as Vice President?


I'm sure there are many more.. and I may add a few later as an Update but... What do you think? Anything you'd like to see asked? Think of a few questions that would apply to both candidates and submit them and then we'll see if Ms. Ifill asks anything similar.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

1st Debate: Evasion of the Image Changers


I watched the debate as I'm sure 30 or 40 million other Americans did.. then I watched it again.. then I read the transcript and I read it again. My only question was, is this 2008?

Here's why. Both Senator John McCain and Barack Obama were playing a very old game or as both campaigns (but particularly Obama's) would say "old politics."

Overall Impression of each Candidate:

Obama: Came out strong, showed economy was his issue, faltered on national security, basically let McCain win on a few foreign policy questions because he didn't have any substance to go off of

McCain: Sounded wobbly and ambiguous on the economy, strong suite came out nicely - international relations, used a few underhanded scare tactics but not too overtly, tried to show off his earmark reform work

Both candidates were playing an old game of trying to gain big leverage by doing a face-to-face image change. What do I mean? Did you notice how many times they both accused the other of saying one thing and doing another? Both candidates were trying desperately to go for the knockout punch: the image change. They pointed out what their opponents image is now.. and what they believe it should be. That kind of tactic, if successful, can lead to BIG jumps/drops in the polls especially amongst independents. There is a problem with that though...

WE KNOW THE CANDIDATES! WE HAVE HEARD/SEEN THEM EVERYDAY FOR a touch under TWO YEARS! That game worked back when the primary seasons were shorter, the budgets were smaller, and the debates might be the first time undecided voters got serious about choosing who to vote for. In recent years though, with a President or Vice President running in every election since the turn of the century, there has been a strong connection between the "history" of a candidate's image and their election image.

This election though we have two candidates who are both running against the sitting President and have told us time and time again that we should focus on the issues. Guess what? Most Independents already do. So to stand at a podium and try to change the other candidates image is a waste of time.. instead contrast yourself against their positions and tell us why you are any better than the other guy.

It boils down to this: McCain has most to lose by being linked to Bush and he has avoided him and his positions like the dickens, but McCain has no real way of linking Obama to failed policies in the same way because there just isn't that long of a record! McCain should link Bush to Obama through the (in)experience attack route. Wait... that would also be a bigger slam of his own VP though (who by the way is totally in over her head, has anyone seen the Couric interview?!).

For the next debate I think seeing a decisive defeat is very possible for Obama. Town hall meetings are the places you find McCain the most comfortable. He has the knowledge and has the ability to start out slow on any response then ramp up into the rhetoric and get a crowd behind him with very little effort Obama on the other hand hasn't held too many Town halls and he tends to sort of stutter when he is thinking through his response. Hey, I'm glad he is thinking but stuttering makes him sound weak and wobbly.

The only upside for the Obama campaign until the last debate should be Biden scoring a clear victory in the Vice Presidential debate. Biden does face a few problems though, he doesn't want to seem too knowledgeable (or he risks overshadowing Obama), or too mean (gives Palin the sympathy vote), or talk too much (because he is a gaffe-machine). Palin on the other hand is trying too hard to seem like an expert on foreign policy but it backfiring because she is trying to be someone she isn't. Her key to success will be making a connection to the audience and staying within her own league and only going out to bat on information she feels comfortable with. (Also, not repeating the moderator and her opponent's first names a million times would help.. Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, etc...) Other bad news for Palin is that she has has more difficulties when dealing with women questioners/interviewers and it just so happens that Gwen Ifill, senior correspondent for the News Hour, is the moderator for her debate. She not only focus her prep on dealing with the political veteran across the table but also with being able to handle Ms. Ifill when questions start flying about Woman's issues. Palin would be best prepared should she take lesson from McCain's performance and change her tune to one that will seem sympathetic considering she is not a major player in foreign policy and her party is feeling the heat due to the financial crisis. For the first time she will not be dealing with either a one-on-one interview or a sympathetic crowd, so she has to be able to play to a neutral audience and try to win them over. Should be fun to watch anyhow!

Feel free to leave comments!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain Suspension - Analysis

Wow. Democrats really asked for it on this one, didn't they?!

All this complaining about the negative Rove tactics.. then Senator McCain pulls out a real great maneuver that I'm sure has the Obama people either scratching their heads or running around like they don't have any. John McCain just schooled the young Democrat about how you turn a disadvantage into a huge (free) PR campaign and put the opponent on the defensive.

The move to his suspend his campaign was so brilliant... I can scarcely believe it. It works on so many levels in so many ways... Senator McCain, my hat is off to you.

That being said.. his plan does have some (major) drawbacks but we'll get back to those later. First, let's talk positives:
  1. "Bipartisanship" is the key to winning over Independents who are the key to winning elections


  2. Why not dominate a day with free press? (Especially when behind in fund raising numbers)

  3. Take the wind out of the Obama's campaigns sails after recent surge in the polls

  4. Take pressure off of Sarah Palin and give her some time to prep for interviews, press conferences, and a show down with Joe Biden in next weeks VP debate

  5. Show how deeply McCain cares about the economy (a topic he has admitted he knows little about)

  6. Cast a few votes in the Senate, try to rally House Republicans around your cause

  7. Throw a monkey wrench in the Democratic Party's strategy of linking McCain to Bush by opposing some of the Bush Administration's bailout measures

  8. Have I mentioned FREE press?


Oh boy.. I'm sure I've missed quite a few more, but as you see the move really was an excellent one politically and strategically. Whether you think it was all political or you believe that John McCain is putting "Country First" by suspending his campaign to focus on the economy, it doesn't matter. You have to agree the move was brilliant.

Brilliance, however, comes at a price in this case. There are a few drawbacks that have occurred.

  1. Senate/House Republicans weren't expecting the sudden media focus/scrutiny into the politics of the bailout

  2. Makes McCain look like he cannot multi-task, focusing on the economy and other things

  3. Why cancel Letterman and then go show up on CBS News with Katie Couric? You know Letterman is going to air out his concerns to his multimillion person audience!

  4. Was suspension necessary? Does McCain not believe Palin could take the helm of the campaign ship while he's in DC? What does that say about what he thinks about her abilities and weaknesses.

  5. I know McCain wants to take the attention away from the Democrats' blame for the bad economic conditions on Republicans but is saying that this crisis is so bad that everything is the world (aka the election cycle) but come to a complete halt because of the enormity of the problem really the right message to send?

I'm not sure if that list is quite complete yet either.. but time will tell.

So tell me what you think of my lists, and tell me what you think: Political Stunt or Patriotic Selflessness?

P.S. Go Huskers, beat those Hokies!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: McCAIN SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN!

This just in:

Senator John McCain has suspended his campaign.



He has also asked for a postponement of the debate scheduled for Friday (on Foreign Policy, set for Oxford, Miss.)

He has asked Senator Barack Obama to also suspend his campaign.

He reasons that the "historic" crisis on Wall Street should lead both candidates to focus on the economy for a bit instead of campaigning. It is possible that he wishes for time to have a big hand on the 700 Billion dollar bailout being crafted in the Senate because Republicans are largely being punished in the polls for the crisis.

Barack Obama has spoken and he has let the American people know that he will NOT be suspending his campaign so far and that he wishes to keep the debate on Friday going because there's only 40 days left until the election.

The White House and many Senate Republicans are applauding the move by John McCain and his call for bipartisan compromise to get the bailout passed as early as possible.

In response to the question about if he would consider participating in the debate if the bailout passes on Friday, his answer was "Yes".

More UPDATES AS THEY BECOME AVAILABLE.

Links:

McCain suspends campaign, calls for Obama to do same - CNN
McCain Suspending Campaign, Asks for Debate Delay - Washington Post
McCain to 'Suspend' Campaign Amid Crisis, Return to D.C. - Wall Street Journal
McCain seeks to delay Friday's debate - MSNBC

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palin is an insult to the American people - Hagel


Politics is not for the weak minded or easily upset.

These days we see politicians tiptoeing around issues, being evasive and ambiguous, and giving us party lines that obscure the real issues. There are a few exception however.. one of them is Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE).

I give a minimal amount of respect to every elected official then I either add or subtract admiration based on their behavior. For the gold standard in today's political world for a true statesman, I turn to Senator Chuck Hagel. That being said, I listen to what he says.. and boy, did he say a lot!

Sen. Hagel may be a close personal friend of Senator John McCain but Hagel doesn't pull punches when it comes to his views on the McCain campaign and especially, as we found out, about Gov. Sarah Palin's readiness to take the No. 2 job in the Executive Branch of the US Federal Government.

His major bone to pick with Palin was that she was trying to appear knowledgeable on foreign policy and international relations. I suppose Hagel, like the rest of reasonable Americans, doesn't believe that the proximity of your state to another country counts as "experience". He had this to say:

"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,' that kind of thing is insulting to the American people."


Next, he slammed her so-called international experience which includes a visit to Kuwait & Germany (to visit the Alaska National Guard troops), and a fueling stopover in Ireland. [After this interview it was confirmed that, at the request of John McCain, Sarah Palin will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in New York] Senator Hagel definitely wasn't impressed with her 'traveling experience' with that either:

"She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."


His argument against Palin was definitely not one based on her domestic issue understanding or social values but more about her ability to lead. These next two quotes say it all:

"But I do think in a world that is so complicated, so interconnected and so combustible, you really got to have some people in charge that have some sense of the bigger scope of the world," Hagel said. "I think that's just a requirement."

"I think it's a stretch to, in any way, to say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States," Hagel said.



Think about it... and tell me if you agree/disagree.


Links:

Sen. Hagel doubts Palin's ready - Omaha World Herald

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Feds: No Taxpayer Bailouts... except to my friends


There is nothing I love more than a "... but that was my last time I'll do it.. promise" approach to spending taxpayer dollars. It's like bureaucrats, Congress, and the President totally forgot that we actually work to send those their way (or that China is willing to spot us just a few more billion everyday).

Treasury Secretary Paulson said on Monday, September 15th, that two bailouts were enough. No more bailouts. Apparently he had already forgotten J.P. Morgan eat up Bear Stearns with the help of our tax dollars but I'll forgive him just this once... So, on Tuesday, September 16th, guess what your trusty government did?

It held its ground! For almost ONE WHOLE DAY! That is amazing. They deserve a big round of applause. Seriously, clap at your monitor, they deserve it! So, this Bush Administration can be boneheaded and completely committed to an unneeded and unwanted war (remember, NO BLINKING!) but can't keep its own promises on our economy for more than a day.

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret... a very shameful, scandalous one: I supported Bush in 2000 (begrudgingly after McCain lost on Super Tuesday) because although he wasn't the greatest mind.. he seemed to be very resolute on keeping government spending down and controlling an economy that was headed in a new direction "up". I thought hey... Republicans love fiscal conservatism. I hope this guy will save our money - keeping it for a rainy day, cut wasteful spending - even on defense, pay down our national debt (or at least some of the interest), and possibly even get Congress to stop spending so much on Pork Barrel projects. Boy, was I wrong, huh?!

So why would the Federal Reserve, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Treasury Department all get together to tell 20 CEOs from the biggest banks in America that after Bear Stearns/JP Morgan, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac they were done bailing out companies? Why were they letting Lehman Brothers die although it represented a HUGE 158 year old history of banking? Why were they letting Merrill Lynch go to the wolves? WHY?

Was it because all of a sudden, the Treasury Dept. was thinking? Had something finally clicked in Secretary Paulson's mind? Did President Bush wake from his 7 and 3/4 year slumber to replace his exact double? No. Not more than a 12 hours after sending this strong message to the Financial community, "No More Bailouts!", the Sec. Paulson was at it again. He had just decided it was in the best interest of the nation to spot AIG (American International Group) a measly 85 million... wait make that EIGHTY FIVE BILLION ($85B) dollars in federally insured loans to keep them afloat.

Again.. that nagging question, WHY? Why one company and not the other? Thankfully this all can be answered in one simple revelation. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's previous job: CEO of Goldman Sachs. He isn't exactly a balanced and unbiased player in the game. He was once top of one of the most powerful investment banks on earth.. and the majority of his friends (and more importantly, enemies) are still working on Wall Street. So, send a 2-year bailout to AIG.. and let Lehman Brothers (a chief rival) go to the dogs.. I just wished he would have used sound judgement and fiscal responsibility instead of party and personal politics in making these decisions.

Anyways.. Since when did capitalist economies not let companies you gambled and failed, actually fail? Ridiculous.

For a few more comments on the economy that I wrote four and a half months ago, click here

Links:

No Bailout: Feds Made New Policy Clear in One Dramatic Weekend - Washington Post

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why the polls don't matter

I know.. you might be expecting a lecture here about the inherent faults of a system that has become "too" democratic, a system that has morphed into a sick popularity contest instead of a competition of values and ideas.

Instead.. I'll actually be talking about polls. Recently there has been a lot of talk about John McCain's sudden jump (up) in the national polls and how that could effect the outcome. The main stream media is talking about comeback from behind winning or a possible Sarah Palin or Convention bump. All this talk about national polls is just misleading the American public. It is disgusting.

We live in a representative democracy not a direct one. Like it, love it, or hate it that is the truth. So what the media should be focused on are electoral votes and individual states (specifically battleground ones) and their leanings. I'm sick of hearing that such and such candidate has a 2.1 lead or questioning if Barack Obama "losing his lead" in "nationwide" polling... it DOES NOT MATTER!

Obviously polling matters for candidates, it shows them where they excel and where they lag in certain segments of the population. Polling can unlock the secret for candidates to win a certain battleground state by working on segments where improvement is possible. Polling, however, is not everything. I do not constantly look up and memorize polling stats like Dick Morris or Karl Rove nor do I simply not pay attention to them like... every democratic candidate because they believe in the "power" of their "message." Idiots.

To conclude, the Electoral college is the way we currently elect our president so that's the only way to truly handicap or predict the winner/loser of this race.


By the way in case you are wondering, at the time of this post's publishing the count according to Pollster.com is:

Strong Obama:179
Leaning Obama:59
Total Obama:238

Strong McCain:133
Leaning McCain:91
Total McCain:224

Toss-Up:76

Meanwhile, Realclearpolitics.com says:

Strong McCain:172
Leaning McCain:55
Total McCain:227

Strong Obama:157
Leaning Obama:50
Total Obama:207

Toss-Up:104

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blinking... sometimes a good thing!

During Sarah Palin's ABC interview with Charles Gibson she responded to a question about her style of response to terrorism with this gem: “We must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.”

Then the blinking came up again when asked about how she responded to being asked to be the VP on the GOP ticket: “You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, you can’t blink.”

So what's the deal with all this blinking, or lack thereof? Is blinking so bad? Does she want us to all get dry, irritated eyes?

Sarah Palin was talking about resolve. The resolve she believes she and John McCain have in the face of any problem. That however causes me to stop a moment and wonder.. is not blinking really the best thing for our country?

I'll first deal with her second quote about she couldn't blink because she is "wired in a way of being so committed to the mission." What mission is that Gov. Palin? If I was being asked to possibly become the next Vice President of the United States, one heart beat away from the most powerful office in the world, I'd be sweating it! Am I ready? Am I the best fit? Am I doing this for me and my political career? What about my family? What about my children? Is this the best thing for the country?

It seems that Ms. Palin didn't ask herself those questions. She just said Yes because she is committed to her "mission." Now depending on what exactly that mission is I'm not sure what to say.. but I would suggest to her that she clarify her remarks.

To reply to those critics who will wonder if I'm treating her too harshly.. I say this: If you want to take the job of VP, hey, that's your decision but remember, we are voting for a ticket because we believe that not only do they have the right answers now but they also will have the right kind of judgement to make good decisions in the future.

To address her comment about leadership in the face of terrorism being exemplified in her viewpoint in "not blink[ing]... in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target." That sounds great.. but is that really what you want? I hate to equate terrorism with any other action in a metaphor but I'll make an exception this time... If you are driving along and you realize you need to fill up your tank with gasoline do you: a) find the shortest route from your location to the gas station, and start driving like a maniac? b) try to get to the gas station as quickly as possible, following the posted signage and obeying speed limits?, or c) stop, idle the car,ponder the pros and cons of fossil fuels,slowly draw out a map to several gas stations, double check it, ask all your friends about it, sing with the radio, head to a fast-food joint and get some burgers, then if you remember, head to one or more of the gas stations?

If you chose A, then you are dangerously low on intelligence and will be involved in an accident or will end up in a lot of trouble before you get to your destination.

If you chose B, then you will get to your destination OK, although it may take a little longer you will still be alive, well, and safe.

If you chose C, then you overthink things, waffle, can't be trusted to be quick on your feet, and will probably fail to make any important decisions - in turn letting existing problems get out of hand while you are distracted with yourself.

To me Republicans seem to be gravitating to the bravado and feeling of real rapid response of choice A while Democrats in a move to accentuate their differences are moving towards choice C. Let's not forget that Democrats have gotten and kept the US in a lot more wars then Republicans.. Think about it, Democrats: WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam vs. Republicans: Civil War, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq II. I know many of those were provoked.. but it just goes to show that the word democrat didn't always translate into 'peacenik'.

Back to McCain/Palin and their aversion to blinking... they seem a little to eager to prove themselves as great generals instead of trying to prove to us that they are a good statesman/stateswoman team. I know there aren't fireworks or a parade when you negotiate and deal to avert disaster or war but it sure beats the sorrow knowing that your failure to do so meant even one scratch on a soldier, whose job it is to protect the United States not fight for presidential legacies. I am by no means saying that I'm a pacifist, what I am saying is that sometimes words and a carrot and stick can do wonders that a sledgehammer can't.

In conclusion, taking a moment to think can be a good thing.

Links:
Gov. Palin’s Worldview - NY Times

Friday, September 12, 2008

Obama/McCain and the end of Civility

There was once a time when everyday was a sunny day, you could leave your door unlocked all the time, and politicians had some sense and civility. Those days are over.

This election, as almost every election of the past 50 years, has turned to negative attacks and "gotcha" moments instead of issues and facts. Is this trend getting worse? Can it ever get better? Recently McCain released an ad admonishing Obama for supposedly calling Palin a pig... but if anyone listened to the phrase before and after it or listened to it within the context of what he was saying they'd know obviously that he was referring to the new "Change" bandwagon that Republicans have gotten onto. Now Obama has decided that due to the new more negative tone that Republican ads and stump speeches have taken that they will allow and no longer condemn 527's (which are independent political groups not under Federal Election Commission law) if they release ads attacking McCain-Palin in a very negative fashion. A kind of a signal that the gloves are coming off.. and the Obama campaign is ready to rumble.

You notice that? I just used a boxing reference. Boxing. Boxing is just the opposite of politics. In boxing you use brute physical strength to pummel your opponent, in politics you use words and ideas to convince the audience that you are more worthy and have their values and best interest at heart. I am not trying to say that politics has always been civil but there was once a certain measure of a person's honor that only allowed them to stoop so low. Today it seems that respect and honor are gone.. and instead we have the win-at-all-costs ideology. I would rather lose an honorable man than win hardly a man at all.

What are your thought? How can we as a populace force politicians to talk about the issues instead of focus on scandals and missquotes?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: A Day Remembered

We think it is important to break from all the partisanship and bickering today just to take a little time to ponder 9/11 and its ramifications. Strong had prepared an essay on what 9/11 meant to me but decided that today ought not be about all of our individual experiences but our experiences as a whole. We mean Americans of every type and those who were witness around the globe.

Please take a moment to really think about how the cruel, immoral and inhumane events of 9/11 changed perceptions and realities for so many.

Strong Moderate
Flaming Moderate

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust... Abramoff Crony Indicted

Kevin Ring was indicted today on charges of corruption and trying to bribe Legislators and members of the Executive branch with items of value. Kevin Ring prior to becoming a lobbyist with Abramoff worked as Chief of Staff for Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA). Rep. Doolittle himself is also under suspicion and is currently under investigation by the Abramoff probe.

This new arrest and indictment has some implications on the 2008 elections. First, it won't be hard to notice the "R" next to Representative Doolittle's name when it comes to scandal mongerers. It was this scandal and others (Mark Foley, etc..) that played a part in prompting the US electorate to vote democrat in 2006. Bring this scandal up again is going to remind them of their reasons to boot out what seemed to be a disproportionally corrupt Republican party from power.

On the flipside though, the probe that brought Abramoff to justice was initiated by the Committee on Indian Affairs, chaired by a Senator John McCain (R-AZ).. you may have heard of him, he is running for President. Sen. McCain has brought up this investigation countless times as proof that he is a straight guy (or at least since the Keating Five incident). If this story makes some heavy circulation in the MSM then it shouldn't be difficult for him to link himself to the Justice Dept's probe. If the story doesn't and he brings it up he risks seeming like he is overreaching to tie himself to the probe.

Keep an eye on this in the next couple days...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fannie, Freddie now under Feds

I reported awhile back about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac's slow but sure demise and the Federal plan to "rescue" it using hundreds of BILLIONS of tax-dollars. Well.. it quietly passed the Senate after my original post and has become law. Now.. SURPRISE, the Federal Government has announced its intentions to take over the two failing mortgage giants.

This sort of news makes me sick. You realize that the government is heading in just the WRONG direction and there isn't much you can do about until November. What makes the Feds think that they can run the two mortgage giants any better than they were already run? Is it the massive deficits or multi-trillion dollar national debt they've been running? I would challenge anyone to come up with one.. just one example of a time the Federal Government took over an industry or company and succeeded in turning it around without either throwing gobs of money at it or tweaking the numbers.

I know I've been focusing on the 2008 Elections like much of the country has been and it seems that the House, Senate and President are trying their hardest to appeal to voters or create some kind of legacy. The legacy that they stuck us with will cost us billions of dollars, distracts us from other root causes of the current economic slowdown, and sets a terrible example.

Remember that slippery slope? Well.. it's here now and we are merrily rolling down it without looking back or fighting back. What's next? If as a nation we've decided to use our government and tax-dollars to save or salvage any industry that has trouble and any company that goes under (which we haven't) I'd like to know who is the next to be put under the supervision of the US Treasury Department. Hmmm... the US Auto Industry is having problems, Ford and GM are losing money by the bucketful, the vegetable market is always iffy, Housing construction is not doing too well, some tech companies are going under... the list goes on and on.

My rule is that unless we are at full-scale war (I'm talking World War III style) the government should regulate the economy by indirect means... don't let it put its grubby hands on your money.. they don't let go.

Friday, September 5, 2008

John McCain accepts Republican Nomination

Now that I've had a day to let the John McCain nomination acceptance speech stew in my head.. I've made my decision. It was great. Not perfect.. but definitely as close as John McCain could have come.

McCain's speech, unlike Palin's, was geared almost 100% towards independents and moderates of both parties. The speech touched on a few subjects: the refuting of the current administration, the Maverick McCain, and reinvention of the Republican Party in his image. McCain talked about change in almost the same way he did in 2000 when he was talking about a change from the Clinton Administration. He managed to weave in his POW story in a artful way so that it added to the narrative instead of just coming across as boasting. John McCain also spoke almost admirably about Barack Obama, saying he respected him but said that their disagreements were clear and it was the job of the voter to choose the better person for the job.

McCain really pushed his theme of trying to make this election about the candidates themselves instead of the parties. His strategy is to say that if it came down to just two people and if you didn't know their party affiliations you'd pick McCain. He spoke to one of the most partisan audiences about the benefits of bipartisanship and going against the party when it served the country. The "Country First" perspective is being reinvented to appeal more to Independents who are sick of the deep partisan divide in Washington and the "do nothing Congress".

John McCain Acceptance Speech Grade: B+

The speech brought back the John McCain of 2000 and for many independents (myself included) that brought him back into competition for their votes. Thoroughly tired of partisanship and Day 3 of the RNC... the final speech was a breath of fresh air.

Let's talk about Day 3 for a moment.. it was disgusting. Absolutely abhorrent. ex-Gov. Mitt Romney attacked the "eastern elites" in his speech.. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Mitt Romney need I remind you.. your father owned a big auto company and was a Governor himself of Michigan. You, his son, became governor of one of the most "eastern" style states and you are extremely wealthy... 300 Million Dollars is rich even by Cindy McCain standards! Next, they brought up some black guy to prove that they had a minority in their party too. Hmm... sorry guys, but the Republicans basically gave up on the minority vote this cycle - 93% of delgates were white. After that, came Rudy Guliani. Boy, Am I glad this guy did not have a chance! He ought to pursue a career in insult comedy. He got up to deliver a hundred punchlines in a sarcastic and bitter tone about Obama. Of course he mentioned 9/11 a thousand times, often followed by patting himself on the back. Then the insulter-in-chief acted as though there were basically no domestic problems due to the magic pefection of the Bush Administration. Any Independent or Reagan Democrat turned off their TVs at this point in disgust and decided they would never vote for this party. Sarah Palin of course was the highlight... and I have already covered that. All that Party energizing, playing to the base (and right-wingnuts), and scaring away independents and they had the audacity to name the night's theme "Peace"! What a joke... a sad, sick joke.

Day 3 Overall Grade: D-

What did you think? Share by adding your comments!