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.


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


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".



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.


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


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


Meanwhile, Realclearpolitics.com says:

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

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


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.

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-

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin @ GOP Convention

Governor Sarah Palin's speech wasn't exactly what I expected.. and that's her fault. For a couple days now Republican talking heads have been trying to convince us that she is an aggressive reforming social conservative with expertise on just about everything that matters to the American people. She ruined her own coming out party.. for anyone who isn't a staunch Republican. In fact, the entire night had problems.. but that is for another post.

Sarah Palin came out swinging. Her speech could be broken down into three main themes: 1) Attacking Barack Obama, 2) Extolling the virtues of John McCain, and 3) Energizing the Republican base.

1) Attacking Barack Obama

She came out hard and she did not stop. In true attack dog form (she called herself a pitbull with lipstick), Palin lambasted and vilified Obama and his campaign to the very core. One of the main attack points was that she was a mayor and Obama was a Community Organizer. Palin told the crowd that the two are similar but that she "actually had responsibility". There were so many barbs and mud thrown that you'd have to actually read the speech to believe that it was given. I mean, it is one thing to attack your opponent.. but it is an entirely different thing to do it all the time, it hardly leaves any time for you to tell us why you are any better!

2) All Praise John S. McCain

The S stands for Sidney, in case you are interested. Anyone remember John Edwards acceptance speech in 2004? This is how it went: blah blah blah John Kerry blah blah John Kerry blah blah blah John and I blah blah blah John Kerry. Sarah Palin must have studied that speech and just replaced all the "Kerry"s with "McCain". Now I understand she basically owes her new career options to the man but it was more like she was a fangirl than a running mate. Supposedly she should be able to do his job if he is ever stricken ill or incapacitated but she made it sound as though he was an anomaly of service that we should worship instead of a man who is far better qualified than her but she is still within reach of (according to her party).

3) Energizing the Base

Is it not hilarious that "the base" in Arabic is "al quaeda"? Ok.. I crack myself up.. but seriously! She did a great job! There was not a single phrase or sentence that did not get huge ovation and recognition. Although the speech was better suited for a surrogate than a VP nomination acceptance it worked none the less and brought together a party that was honestly struggling when they arrived. As the days went on the cheers didn't grow much louder... but Palin really opened up the audience and got them going. From defeatists to optimists in under an hour... that's good delivery (although her voice has already begun to annoy me).

Problems with her speech? Oh yeah... she didn't talk much about why or how she is ready to be Vice President or act as President. That's HUGE. That should have been the bulk of her speech, instead of just just saying Obama isn't ready.. tell us why you are any better! Also, sometimes her attacks were so strongly worded that they were just not true. For instance, saying that you don't think Obama did anything useful is one thing but saying that he "never authored" any legislation of value is another. (Remember that bill to control nuclear material or the huge ethics reform bill?) Another thing that really bugged me was the negative tone that was used throughout... for a party that is suppose to be energizing the electorate they seemed more intent on just scaring it (worked in 2004, I guess...)

Overall Grade: C

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rove: Biden is a "blowhard doofus"

Honestly the most surprising thing about the comment made by Karl Rove at a dinner at the GOP convention was that he didn't curse. Now I know that there are a lot of differing opinions about Karl Rove and his tactics but everyone has to admit, the guy is a genius of winning campaigns. He's the James Carville of the 2000's.

Rove was telling a room full of people that what he thought of Obama's VP pick when he relayed to them the fact that everyone in Washington who is familiar with the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee knows that Joseph Biden (the chair) is verbose and often doesn't know when to stop talking. In Rove's words that makes him a "blowhard doofus".

This comment could be serving one of two purposes - he could have just spoke this off the top of his head to a little table full of die-hard GOPers or he could have been aware that someone was bound to leak this to the press (as any Rove quote seems to do) and would prompt the media to seriously ask the question, "Is Biden really a blowhard doofus?!" Since the Press seems to have replaced with ratings mongerers and people who believe the press's role is primarily to entertain not inform, the quote is makings its rounds on all the 24 hr cable news channels.

Biden loves making his point.. and another.. and another..

But.. is he? and what does that mean? Biden is very, very, very talkative. If there was some sort of superlative for verbose... I'd call him that. (Incidentally, if you know one tell me) I've been to, watched, and listened to quite a few of his Committee hearings and boy.. does he talk. His problem is that he has so much knowledge to share and tends to go on tangents.. so one tangent leads to another, leads to another.. This is where the gaffe-machine comes in. Every once in awhile, he says something that while you can tell it is purely innocent sounds TERRIBLE without context. I don't think anyone really thinks Biden is sexist, racist or a bigot of any kind but sometime the way stuff comes out of his mouth and then get printed... it makes people who are unfamiliar with him wonder.

Does that disqualify him or reduce his ability to be Vice-President? No, not really but it does give some serious heartburn to the Obama press team who have to be ready to put out fires wherever Biden goes. If I remember correctly, the current President wasn't exactly the well-oiled slick nominee that Barack Obama is.. and he managed to win. There is a fundamental difference between a lovable doofus and an incompetent one. The real task comes down to Joe Biden working his hardest to keep himself focused and reduce his talk time. The backup task goes to the Democratic PR people to present Biden as a loveable guy who just has so many good stories he can't stop himself.. a guy that just wants to share.. and share.. and share.

If they can do that they will be able to reduce the effectiveness of the Republicans who will pounce on every misstep or missquote. So far however Obama is looking like a Teflon Nominee and Biden may change that or just cling to the Teflon just as hard as he can!


Biden reacts to Rove insult - CNN