Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last Wednesday I wrote:
[T]hat still doesn’t justify why the proposed bailout today is in such skeletal form, that they’ve had months to at least begin to plan for worse-case scenarios and put together something of a game plan for attack assuming such worst-case scenarios could come to fruition (as seemingly has happened). It’s inexcusable that the solution on the table is basically being presented as if scribbled on a napkin. Where are the details, or at least evidence that this impending disaster didn’t surprise the supposedly highly capable people we have in charge to avoid such surprises? I realize we’re in uncharted waters and no one has all the answers to this profoundly unique situation, but c’mon, to have gun-held-to-head to pass an on-faith-alone, scant proposal, one that we may be shackled with for years to come, is just another example of sheer, brazen incompetence to come down the pike in the last 7+ years. As Obama said, enough!
David Rosenberg, economist at Merrill Lynch, pretty much echoed my sentiments today:
Despite all the high-drama in Washington over the weekend, there seems to be no political solution to the financial crisis – at least for the moment. This is unfortunately what you get when a crisis is so poorly prepared for, as this one was. It was just two weeks ago that Ben Bernanke was telling us that the downside risks to the economy had “diminished”. As a result of both him and Treasury Secretary Paulson being behind the curve almost every step of the way during this 13-month credit crisis, they proposed legislation that should have been developed with a lot more deliberation than time permitted.
Phrases like "poorly prepared" and "behind the curve" -- aptly describing the continued incompetence that has come from this government since GW grabbed the reins. Different players along the way, same abysmal end result. ENOUGH!
It's often said that when it comes to the economy and financial matters, neither presidential candidate possesses particularly impressive knowledge. I happen to believe Obama towers over McCain in this regard, but perhaps it's best to look at some of the people enlisted by each campaign to serve as experts on this front.

The current Time magazine listed three such people for both sides. As "Team McCain" is Phil Gramm, Carly Fiorina and Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Let's start with "The Turtle," Phil Gramm. He is the godfather of the push for deregulation of the financial system and much of the blame for our current problems lay at his feet. Do I have to say anything about Fiorina? She's made one gaff after another and is currently MIA from the campaign. And Holtz-Eakin is the guy who said McCain invented the Blackberry. Quite a stellar group of individuals, indeed.

For "Team Obama" there's Austan Goolsbee, Laura Tyson, and Larry Summers. Goolsbee is an economist at The University of Chicago, graduated summa cum laude from Yale, earned a PhD at MIT and went on to become an Alfred Sloan Fellow and Fulbright scholar. He's described as a centrist and is an expert on tax policy. Laura Tyson was head of the National Economic Council under Bill Clinton and as Time describes her, "an expert on trade, globalization and the tech economy, she helped devise Clinton's economic policy during the '90s boom." Finally, Time describes Summers as "brilliant, blunt and abrasive, he favors free trade and globalization. His experience managing the Mexican and Asian financial crises is valuable now."

Ok, so you make the comparison. Which team appears not just more impressive, but more appropriate for the country given the problems we're facing? Mr. Deregulation who called us whiners not too long ago, an ex-CEO who misspeaks on a regular basis, and Bush's ex-chief economist (need I say more). Compared to a tax expert, a trade policy expert, and a former Treasury Secretary who has successfully dealt with crisis situations.

Hmm, let me think, this is a tough one....
It was just a matter of time but I'm starting to see attempts to place blame for this financial crisis. "It was the Democrats fault! It goes back to Clinton." Nice try. No one has clean hands in this debacle.

It's about the money, stupid. If this mess doesn't prove anymore than one thing it's that our political system has corrupted our financial system. The donor dollars that have bankrolled, funded, bought and sold our representation in government is ultimately the culprit to this cascading time bomb. Any regulatory checks that might have been in place have long been displaced thanks to their convenient removal ala campaign donations and lobbying in the name of free speech.

Paul Krugman wrote, "we’ve become a banana republic with nukes." I hope he's wrong.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

  • From business / finance magazine Portfolio, a hearty endorsement for Obama: "But all told, one candidate offers a more realistic plan for enhancing both the domestic economy and the competitiveness of this country. And that is why we believe Barack Obama should be our next president."

  • In same magazine we find California's Ahnold waxing on about a sensible energy policy -- and sounding a good deal like a Democrat....

  • Dick Polman writes about the dumbing-down of politics in America, thanks to the GOP. He of course mentions Sarah Palin, but goes on to make clear, "Palin, however, is merely the latest beneficiary in the national celebration of mediocrity, much like one of those early-round American Idol entrants who wins insta-fame for being Just Like Us. Lest we forget, the lame-duck administration in Washington has long been dumbing down the standards for public service, by seeking to elevate the ill-qualified to positions of authority." Polman then lists several illustrious names that have held positions within the Bush administration, most of which have been long gone due to their ineptness. It's as if we've embraced George Costanza's method for seeking talent: recall the Seinfeld episode when he interviews candidates for Susan's foundation and dismisses the brightest contenders for the fella who has a solid 2.0 GPA, right in the "meaty part of the curve." Gads.

  • In fact, if Palin was the choice of the GOP base, what the *^&% does that say about the base? Even McCain must've winced and shuddered a bit when he made her the offer....

  • Assuming McCain could conceivably win this thing, I at least once thought that he was going through the motions to appease whoever and whatever just to get in the White House, and then he'd immediately take a long shower and rid himself of all the necessary baggage he had to woo for the past 12-18 months. Something tells me this will no longer be the case....

  • Oh look, Forbes has Paul Johnson, a 100% non-scientist, calling global warming "nonsense." This from a guy who apparently defended Nixon's actions in Watergate and believes it paled compared to Clinton's perjury concerning consensual sex.
  • Saturday, September 27, 2008

    Hey, wait a minute, I thought McCain wasn't going to show up for the debate unless those children in Washington got together and had a bailout deal all sewed up, ready for passage? FLIP-FLOPPER!

    Not sure if it was just me but this debate was absolute snoozeville. Early on Lehrer kept trying to have Obama and McCain mix it up, as if Lehrer were a ref in a prize fight who kept having to force the fighters to take shots at each other vs. just dancing around. I thought after the initial jitters settled out the two candidates would indeed begin to trade blows, but it was not to be. Eventually I fell asleep.

    Awaking this morning, I discover that Obama apparently won.

    Oh well, if it takes nice-guy, above-the-fray behavior to win these things over an opponent who is known to have anger issues, then so be it (I'll just drink more coffee next time). It will likely force McCain to get down and dirty by the next debate (another Hail-Mary) in an attempt to rile Obama, hoping he'll say something regrettable, and yet would more likely make McCain appear small, shallow and mean.

    Having said that, it would be refreshing to see Obama really take some jabs at McCain, nothing below the belt but have prepared some substantive one-liners that have a high-percentage likelihood of getting under McCain's skin so the viewers can get a glimpse of his temper. Some theorize that's why McCain avoided eye-contact all night. Obama should test the waters on this front next time around.

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    If you thought the first part of Palin's interview with Katie Couric was excruciatingly embarrassing (I'll get back to you...), then the following excerpt from part two will leave you with mouth agape:
    COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

    PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land -- boundary that we have with -- Canada. [...]

    COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.

    PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our -- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia --

    COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

    PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We -- we do -- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where -- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is -- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to -- to our state.
    Folks, this person -- forget gender -- will be a heartbeat away from running our country. Those statements above are barely literate much less coherent. Clearly McCain's selection of her was perhaps one of the most irresponsible acts ever committed by a presidential candidate and sadly it makes many of the atrocities perpetrated by GW over the last few years look a tad bit less reprehensible.
    A couple of more points about McCain's suspended-campaign-in-animation:

  • Why didn't McCain simply suggest that they swap the VP debate with the presidential one, allowing him and Obama to head to Washington while Biden and Palin have it out this Friday? After all, Palin said she wouldn't blink....

  • Many if not most people don't know what's going on when it comes to this bailout, so what better than a debate where the two candidates show up to tell us how they would plan to get us out of this crisis? It would help fill the vacuum of scant knowledge and give us a better sense of how either one responds when faced with a one-of-a-kind, calamitous situation.

  • McCain insinuated that he planned to swoop into Washington like Underdog, ready to save the day. But if he had a solution regarding this bailout, then let's hear it! Or is this like his Osama "secret," where he has said repeatedly that he would be able to track down bin Laden -- but refuses to offer a hint on how he will go about doing it...?

  • Whether it be the shenanigans they pulled with the hurricane and their convention, or the protective coddling of Palin with regards to interviews, and now this seeking to postpone debates (incl. the VP one), it certainly presents the image of a man who is looking to run and hide, duck and avoid. Does this appear presidential to anyone? During these troubled times, don't we want a leader who is not afraid to face the fire, to confront, to tackle head on tough issues, doing so with calmness and confidence? If so, it would appear as if Obama has it all over McCain.
  • If you're forced to have a governmental bailout, it would appear that you could do a heck of a lot worse than follow the example of Sweden. Money quote:
    Putting taxpayers on the hook without anything in return could be a mistake, said Urban Backstrom, a senior Swedish finance ministry official at the time. "The public will not support a plan if you leave the former shareholders with anything," he said.
    Let's see if that will be true in this country.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    In response to Kevin Drum's blog entry, I think there’s much truth to the retort that if this type of bailout were proposed a year ago, given the lack of urgency from Lehman/AIG type implosions, Congress would’ve likely balked. HOWEVER, that still doesn’t justify why the proposed bailout today is in such skeletal form, that they’ve had months to at least begin to plan for worse-case scenarios and put together something of a game plan for attack assuming such worst-case scenarios could come to fruition (as seemingly has happened). It’s inexcusable that the solution on the table is basically being presented as if scribbled on a napkin. Where are the details, or at least evidence that this impending disaster didn’t surprise the supposedly highly capable people we have in charge to avoid such surprises? I realize we’re in uncharted waters and no one has all the answers to this profoundly unique situation, but c’mon, to have gun-held-to-head to pass an on-faith-alone, scant proposal, one that we may be shackled with for years to come, is just another example of sheer, brazen incompetence to come down the pike in the last 7+ years. As Obama said, enough!

    Of course, one could strap on the tin foil hat and conjecture that the boys in charge planned this all along, to allow the financial system to break down to this point so that they could then push hard a slap-dash solution in expediency, one that was absent specifics and could be modified to save their buddies at the expense of the idiot taxpayers. They could’ve known all along that the only solution to the debacle they saw unfolding on the inside was to let the unwind get to the point of severe crisis which would then serve as a much-needed catalyst for swift action without much investigation or pondering by Congress. Heck, it worked with the Patriot Act! Without such looming fear to instill urgency, more reasonable and just actions would be offered, which more likely would have meant bad news for the top dogs in the offending companies. Better to force backs against the wall as means to getting a more full-blown bailout that could shower them with all kinds of rewarding outs amidst the chaos, and one with much less accountability. Small-scale cures allow for closer scrutiny under the microscope; immense, bombastic cures translates into more confusion, more loop holes, more gamesmanship.

    Oh, and what better than to let the crisis unfold until about six weeks before the election only to then sound the alarms and pull the 3-page proposal out of one's back pocket. That's just enough time to have investors chew on whatever is passed by Congress, allowing a relief-glow to take hold, and a stock market rally to ensue -- at least until November 4th. After that day, all bets are off, but for Paulson et al it's hopefully mission accomplished (McCain wins and the corporate elite heading up the problem financial companies are rewarded with our tax money).

    As for the higher tax rates to serve as a form of justified punishment against the wealthy, the problem is not all rich folks are “guilty” of the sins in this case. In fact, a good number of affluent citizens had nothing to do with mortgage fraud or the derivatives mess, just to name a few. The desire to tax higher-income earners at higher rates for philosophical or ideological reasons is one thing, but to use higher tax rates as some broad-sweeping whipping stick to crack knuckles appears to be crossing the line in my opinion.
    McCain's suspension of his campaign sounds like another ploy (is it coincidence this came on day Obama jumps ahead by 9% in the Washington Post/ABC poll?). The fact is many hours prior to this announcement, Obama's camp contacted McCain's to offer the idea of both candidates endorsing a joint, agreed-upon set of principles regarding the bailout plan. Sounds like a good idea, right? McCain said yes but then shortly after announced the bizarre suggestion to postpone the debate so that he could rush back to Washington to pitch in (finally) to the effort.

    After McCain received the call from Obama, McCain's advisers likely surmised that 1) they had to say yes but 2) they then had to figure out a way to derail Obama's offer by one-upping him, otherwise Obama looks that much better since he took the initiative. So how to top him? Suspend campaign and debate.

    The reasoning there probably went 1) McCain can appear patriotic (put aside politics for sake of country, as with the hurricane and convention), 2) if Obama balks will make Obama look like the craven politician, and 3) if they both decide to go ahead with the debate, McCain can mention on stage that he really wanted to be elsewhere, helping decide the fate of our country, AND may even get the bonus of garnering viewer sympathies by stating this aloud, not just for patriotic reasons but because he didn't really want to be there and thus any poor performance could be excused (he was distracted, not focused, mind on our country's future, etc.).

    That said I fully expect to see him show up for the debate because if not and he goes to Washington, come Monday we'll expect great things, great progress, and he'll have nothing to show us, so this is all a setup.
    Today Dan Froomkin writes:
    The Bush Who Cried Wolf

    So this is what happens when the president of the United States has virtually no credibility left.

    The nation is facing a serious financial crisis. But neither the public nor Congress have confidence in the solutions being put forth by President Bush's appointed economic leads.

    Americans have learned what questions to ask when the Bush team starts to make threats. Is the situation as bad as they say? Do we have to respond the way they say? Are there any better alternatives? Do we have to act as fast as they say? And is it possible they don't know what they're doing?

    The ultimate irony would be if, this time, Bush was right -- or even partly right.
    Years ago I wrote about the dangers that would come from this administration's insistence on lying time and time again. In 2004 I wrote:
    The incompetence and deception now clearly evident when it came to the Iraq war properly places this administration in a highly questionable light. Like the boy who cried wolf, when we are told so many lies and distortions about things even beyond anything having to do with Iraq, who can blame us for not believing everything going forward? GW & Co. did not just squander international goodwill post-9/11, but they also managed to squander any goodwill when it came to the public taking at face value what this administration had to say or report on.
    And in 2006 I wrote:
    Bush's regular use of lies and deception has made us a less safe nation. Reasonable, reality-based people have come to learn they can't trust this administration about nearly anything. Now suppose this news concerning Iran and Al Qaeda is in fact true. Because BushCo has lost all credibility, we're correctly skeptical about everything coming from them. Per chance that something does come down the pike that is actually true, we'll have no way of knowing since all trust has been squandered. We have a "boy who cried wolf" president -- thanks to his purposeful and negligent dishonesty, and we're much less safe because of it.
    And here we are two years later, facing a very serious financial crisis and yet we have an administration with less-than-zero credibility. Who knows if they're telling the truth this time, perhaps they are -- but perhaps not. The unfortunate truth all along has been if/when we were really in trouble, no one would heed the call, no one would listen. This is one of the primary reasons why Bush has been the worst president ever, as the country now may be headed to financial ruin but because of his reckless use of lies and fear-mongering hardly anyone trusts him.

    So if Bush/Paulson/Cheney get annoyed because Congress is not acting swiftly enough, they have only themselves to blame.
  • McCain is losing it -- so says conservative columnist George Will.

  • The $700 billion for the bailout sounds like a big number (because it is!) but it may get much, much bigger. Note that the S&L bailout of the early '90s ended up costing about 50% more than what was initially proposed, and that crisis was much more clear-cut and readily solvable than the one on our hands now. Also, the Iraq war was to cost $50 billion and the estimate is now up to $2 trillion! (Why is it people are alarmed at the $700 billion bailout figure and yet not nearly as outraged at the $2 trillion Iraq war number? Money is money people.)

  • Unfortunately, Dana Milbank believes the scare tactics will work once again: "Lawmakers, afraid of being blamed for the next Great Depression, have little choice but to give Paulson much of what he wants. But after the Bush administration railroaded them on other emergency measures that later turned out to be problematic -- the Iraq war, the Department of Homeland Security and the USA Patriot Act -- the bipartisan outrage suggests that, this time, Congress will make the administration squirm a bit." If true, do we need yet more proof that the Democrats are spineless urchins?

  • So in a matter of several weeks, we've seen the McCain camp go from Phil Gramm saying that we're a "nation of whiners" when it comes to the economy, to McCain saying "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," to now McCain feeling he must suspend his campaign and rush to Washington in hopes of fixing everything otherwise we may quickly slip into an economic depression. Does this appear to be presidential behavior to you (sans the last 7+ years)? Particularly in contrast with Obama's lucid, calm, and confident behavior on this matter, the near-schizoid messaging on the economy by McCain has to make one pause with great concern. He's not only scaring voters, he's just downright scary.
  • The lies and deception from McCain just continue to pile up. Who would've thought that we'd witness a bigger scoundrel in action than Bush/Rove in 2000 and 2004?

    McCain recently stated that his campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with Freddie Mac for years (recall Davis is a lobbyist), and yet "Mr. Davis’ firm received the payments from the company until it was taken over by the government this month." Can a lie get anymore bald?

    The lying and deception has hit serial level. McCain recently blamed Obama for the many woes occurring on Wall Street, "Maybe just this once he [Obama] could spare us the lectures, and admit to his own poor judgment in contributing to these problems. The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was right square in the middle of it." The hypocrisy here is breath-taking. McCain has been in Washington for 30 years, fully entrenched in the "old boy" network he now loves to criticize and somehow cast as Obama's club of choice. Does it get anymore old-boyish than his Keating Five scandal? Remember, the last huge financial scandal in America which had McCain right in the thick of it?

    And McCain has the gall to mention lobbyists and Obama in the same breadth -- astounding. McCain's entire campaign staff is riddled with lobbyists -- including Davis, his campaign manager, mentioned above. McCain has not "challenged the system" over the years but rather he has worked to get it to where we are today. He has close ties to Phil Gramm, the godfather of these deep problems, and McCain has been a rampant supporter of deregulation, a huge culprit in this current crisis.

    McCain & Co. assume the public is stupid -- as did Bush/Rove. They pick Palin believing they can court not just the far right but women in general, regardless of positions or issues (what are they?). They've decided to turn McCain's neck-deep past in this financial mess onto Obama ala Swift Boating Kerry. Will it work again?

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Flashing back to the days of Bush muttering, "I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him...to be honest with you," it's now evident GW is spending lots of time thinking about Osama. With just a few months left in office, bin Laden no longer serves Bush's needs as an all-too-useful boogey man to remind Americans of 9/11 and keep them scared and voting correctly. No, now he desires putting some kind of bow on his ruinous legacy and figures a captured or dead Osama will do nicely.

    From a recent Washington Post article on this matter:
    Officials with the CIA and the U.S. military said they began shifting resources out of Afghanistan in early 2002 and still haven't recovered from that mistake.

    "Iraq was a fundamental wrong turn. That was the most strategically negative action that was taken," said John O. Brennan, a former deputy executive director of the CIA and a former chief of the National Counterterrorism Center. "The collective effort in the government required to go after an individual like bin Laden -- the Iraq campaign consumed that."

    The Bush administration tried to reinvigorate the flagging hunt for bin Laden early last year by redeploying Predator drones, intelligence officers and Special Forces units to Pakistan and Afghanistan. But by then, U.S. counterterrorism officials said, the war in Iraq had already given bin Laden and his core command precious time to regroup and solidify their new base of operations in northwestern Pakistan.

    More recently, the search has been hobbled by a tattered relationship between the United States and Pakistan. CIA and U.S. military officials said cooperation is so bad that they now withhold intelligence about the suspected whereabouts of al-Qaeda commanders out of fear that the Pakistanis might tip them off. Leaders in Pakistan respond that they are committed to fighting al-Qaeda. But they also persistently deny that bin Laden is in their country.
    A disaster. The diversion away from Afghanistan to Iraq allowed Osama and al Qaeda to not only live to see another day, but to regroup and greatly restrengthen via recruiting. All at a cost of thousands of dead U.S. soldiers and a war tab that will amount to over $2 trillion.

    Remember this when you read about taxpayers lending AIG $85 billion to survive or the many billions involved with the nationalization of Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac. Add the $2+ trillion cost of the war to these many billions that have been put to use to stem the financial crisis and there will likely be hundreds of billions more needed in the next several months. And don't forget the free-wheeling spending that occurred under a GOP-controlled Congress, ballooning the deficit. Yes, add it all up, and then try to recall the days of the Clinton surplus -- quite a distant memory, yes?
    I came across this item from the typically right-on Kevin Drum where he surmised what may occur with a McCain win:
    If McCain wins, he'll face a Democratic congress that's beyond furious. Losing is one thing, but after eight years of George Bush and Karl Rove, losing a vicious campaign like this one will cause Dems to go berserk. They won't even return McCain's phone calls, let alone work with him on legislation. It'll be four years of all-out war.
    I briefly busted up with laughter after reading this. I'll believe it when I see it (assuming, God forbid, McCain wins). We thought these jello-injected Dem drones were pissed off in 2006 and they were going to do something about it then -- we've been waiting, patiently.... I guess this time around they're REALLY, REALLY going to be angry!!!
    Steve Benen writes:
    Truth be told, McCain pretty much forfeited the whole "country first" line on Aug. 29, in Ohio, when he introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate. Conservative writer David Frum wrote at the National Review that "country first" is a "good slogan," but added, "If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?"
    Absolutely. Given his age and his health issues, if McCain were a responsible candidate who truly cared about this country he would've selected a much more experienced and credible #2. But instead he made the decision: "country, be damned -- I'm going for the win, no matter how craven or cynical the methods."

    It's no wonder conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan was losing his you-know-what on Bill Maher's show, exclaiming "This pick disqualifies her and McCain....John McCain does not care about national security." Yeah, their side is starting to crack and unravel.

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    A CBS/NY Times poll question: If he were elected president, do you think _____ would bring about real change in the way things are done in Washington, or wouldn't he do that?

    For Obama, 65% said he "Would" and 29% said he "Would Not."

    For McCain, 37% said he "Would" and 59% said he "Would Not."

    Maybe people really do understand that McCain is a Republican, the party that ran the show for most of the last 7+ years.
    I hope I'm right about this but it seems as if the Liar Express has run out of steam. McCain has conveyed so many lies about Obama in such a short period of time that the cumulative effect has managed to backfire on him. The pace and volume of just outright fabricated assertions has been so fast and furious that it finally piled up like a 50 car accident.

    Okay, enough of the metaphors, but it's my sense that McCain shot his wad too early with the smear-type tactics that Schmidt learned so well from Karl Rove. If memory serves, I believe the Swift Boat crap came later in 2004, say around October, and by the time the sensation created by scurrilous ads was beginning to wane it was already November, thus avoiding any accountability backlash. Also, the Swift Boat lies were not directly traceable to the Bush campaign so the media was able to better feign ignorance when it came to questioning and criticizing the offending candidate.

    In this case, the lies are directly being leveled by the McCain campaign, so it's that much easier for the MSM to get a stiffer spine and look heroic to the people by finally drawing the line. It's not only the ladies on The View who are taking advantage of this opportunity to appear responsible by doing the right thing, but we've also seen Fox News of all places actually say enough already.

    The end result of all of this should be that McCain's credibility goes out the window, he's no longer taken seriously as a candidate, Palin's momentary popularity likewise begins to head south, and the two of them have nothing left but the issues to run on. That said it leaves them with very little since most of their positions are opposite what the majority of the voting public favors.

    The serious miscalculation was to crank up the smear machine too early and to have it revving at 100 mph -- but then again it was perhaps decided to be their only hope. The Republican convention was an embarrassing non-event which had little hope of serving as a lasting springboard. Any flow-over bump in polls came from the still-fresh buzz obtained from the Palin pick, which has since grown old quickly. So perhaps the gamble all along was to trash early and often with the hope that something would stick so they could then run with it for weeks. Didn't happen. Instead the gamble was a bust because to venture down that course of action comes the risk that nothing would stick, and then you're just left standing neck-deep in lies, appearing weak, shameful, and completely not deserving of the job you're seeking.

    Hopefully this is exactly what the McCain campaign has wrought on itself. In some ways, it appears as if the Obama camp knew if they just remained patient and didn't rashly respond to the point of making an unfortunate remark, that the other side would in fact just go too far and implode. If true, then it's exactly that kind of thinking and wisdom that we need in the White House.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

  • Hey, what do you know, that whole hockey stick thing with global warming studies was actually true all along, despite deniers attempting to label it bunk.... go figure.

  • This year Alaska is expected to receive $346 million in earmarks, the equivalent of $506 per Alaskan or the highest per-capita rate in the nation. She was for pork before she was against it.

  • With the incessant lies coming from the McCain campaign, Richard Cohen writes, "the John McCain of old is unrecognizable. He has become the sort of politician he once despised." It's just inexcusable, and quite sad. I thought watching Ralph Nader tarnish his legacy was wrenching enough, but witnessing McCain just massacre his own reputation and honor is even more dispiriting.

  • Regarding Palin's interview with Gibson, Drew Westen comments, "We’ve seen what happens when 'the average person' becomes president. The world is simply too complex to do that again. She wants to be a heartbeat away from becoming the leader of the free world behind a 72 year old man with a recurrent deadly illness and she gives answers like she’s in a beauty pageant and hasn’t even followed the news enough over the last 6 years to know what the Bush Doctrine is. It’s fine for the average person not to know, but it’s not fine for someone who could become President at any moment, any more than it’s fine for your pediatric oncologist to say, 'Ah, gee whiz, I don’t read what’s in those fancy medical magazines—I just give it my all and pray a lot when I see a sick child.'"

  • As mayor of Wasilla, Palin had rape victims pay for their own medical exams -- the only town in Alaska to have this demented policy. In fact, the state government had to pass a bill specifically banning this practice in her town. We're talking very dark and very wrong, and yet she's the person America has fallen in love with? What has happened to this country?
  • Monday, September 15, 2008

    As I wrote about last week, we're going to have to see much more of this. Much more.

    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    An interesting article about how McCain finally selected Palin. According to Kornacki's take, it didn't go down like I would've imagined. McCain actually wanted pro-choice Lieberman but Karl Rove and associates wanted Romney. Rove ended up personally contacting Lieberman to request that he withdraw from further consideration, and McCain refused to go with Romney due to concerns of inadequate loyalty. Thus, Palin was selected by default.

    While we're on the subject, if McCain were truly The Maverick of old (which we know he's not), Palin would've been the type of person he would never have picked. The Maverick of yesteryear deeply resented the religious right and the feeling was mutual (look what they did to him in 2000). McCain back then also bucked his party when it came to several issues, global warming being one, which btw Palin is a denier.

    Those days, needless to say, are long gone. The religious right very much wanted Palin to be his VP and poof, that's who McCain went with. Rather than be the independent maverick, he instead just caved and threw them a bone. Much like GW has done for 7+ years, but then GW never claimed to be a maverick. However, the fact it took a whopper size bone the likes of 2nd in charge to the President speaks volumes to just how much the far right was against McCain and the lengths to which he had to prostitute himself to win them over.

    Bush would indeed toss them gratuitous, symbolic morsels (Schiavo, stem cell, etc.) in hopes of keeping them happy, but they eventually learned it was all a con, that they were being used. (Recall Bush endorsed pro-choice Specter in PA over pro-life Toomey). So this time around they had had enough and raised the stakes. Given the former maverick was desperate, the religious right had him over a barrel.

    If McCain wins, I can only imagine the lengths to which he'll have to go to pay them back. He may become more of a religious zealot than Bush. Scary.

    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Incredibly, it seems to be working:
    But if I'm really honest with myself, I'm mostly just happy that there's another woman on the national political stage. I think it's good for my 8-year-old daughter, who has called Hillary Clinton her idol. She doesn't love Hillary because of her health-care policy or pro-choice stance: she loves Hillary because she thinks girls rule. The more powerful women there are on the national stage, the better it is for all women, because this is a game of numbers.
    The McCain camp obviously felt they could attract X number of female voters based strictly on what's between the candidate's legs, not ears. One would think most women would see through this craven grab for their votes, that they would realize what's important is not the sex of the candidate but what he/she stands for, the issues! But apparently to some it's simply a "game of numbers," like throwing spaghetti against the wall, so when you have the chance to put a sister in the White House, as Nike says, just do it!

    For those women who adopt this line of thinking, I would say they manage to set back women at least 50 years. For those who can't see why this is the case, it just further proves my point.

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    The latest Gallup poll has Obama and McCain in a statistical tie. However, when it comes to gauging the election, I much prefer the web site Electoral-Vote.com where state-by-state polls are tracked, avoiding the more generic national polls. It's been quite accurate in its projections and a much-referenced site.

    On August 15th, this web site had the electoral vote count at 275-250-13 in favor of Obama. At the start of the DNC convention, Obama's lead was down to 269-256-13. By the start of the RNC convention, Obama's lead rose to 278-247-13. And then by the close of the Republican "We Want Change (from ourselves?)" fest and currently, Obama's lead has ballooned all the way up to 301-224-13.

    It would appear all the talk about Palin infusing needed buzz and excitement into the tired McCain campaign is just that -- lots of talk.

    UPDATE: Several have written that the state polls have a time lag, thus the likely reason for Obama's 301-224 lead just after RNC convention. The Electoral-Vote.com web site is now at 281-230-27, not quite as dramatic a lead but still fairly sizable. Thanks for the education from the respondents.
  • Sarah Palin's church promotes the "pray away the gay" movement. Nuf said.

  • Palin's experience is apparently governing sheer acreage. If only the caribou could vote.

  • Classic Jon Stewart, with classic Karl Rove, classic O'Reilly and classic DICK Morris. The hypocrisy is completely comical -- and yet plenty of people take these folks seriously. And for that reason, we're in trouble.
  • Sunday, September 07, 2008

    A scary thought (aside from the one that McCain might win): could a McCain administration end up being even more incompetent and clueless than GW's?

    Saturday, September 06, 2008

    When Ronald Reagan used Springsteen's song "Born In The USA" for campaigning purposes, The Boss spoke out against it. When John McCain used a Jackson Browne song for campaigning purposes, Jackson Browne responded with a lawsuit. The same applies concerning "Barracuda" and Heart.

    One of the best things Hillary could do for the Obama campaign, to show she earnestly wanted to see him win, would be to vociferously and forcefully speak out against Palin's gambit to win over Hillary's 18 million supporters. If Hillary remains silent on this matter, or at most speaks out in an exceedingly tepid tone, I would then have to think there remains some plausibility that she wouldn't mind seeing Obama lose -- meaning "Hello 2012!" for her.

    That's just my opinion, and whereas Obama/Biden have to be a bit more careful with regards to their attack mode against Palin for the obvious reasons, the same does not apply to Hillary. She can afford to toss the gloves off and really go after Palin for her record and what she stands for and it would have tremendous impact on many women voters, without the inevitable cries of sexism that would come from the McCain camp.

    For the next several weeks, I'll be watching Hillary's efforts closely in this regard. As much as she does not want to be blamed for an Obama loss if it were to happen, if she doesn't carry out a coordinated, well-orchestrated and often-heard attack plan against Palin's record (one we know she's fully capable of), then unfortunately we'll be left wondering if what she said at the convention concerning Obama and this election was actually true.

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    In his speech tonight, John McCain said of Sarah Palin, "She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for." I had to chuckle hearing this line. She may know those two simple things (as do 99% of Americans, I assume), but McCain did not know how many homes he owned.

    I also loved the following line, "Let me just offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first-country-second, Washington crowd: Change is coming."

    This refrain was often stated last night at the convention, that Washington is chock full of evil liberals and fat-cat spenders. Uh, I have a bit of news for Republicans: you folks have ruled the roost in Washington from 2001 to the start of 2007, not liberals or Democrats, and it's been your guy in the White House from 2001 to date. In those many years, you folks have screwed things up in nearly every place you've exerted influence, and you folks turned a Clinton budget surplus into an exploding deficit. Logic would seem to dictate that the change needed in DC is to get rid of those who controlled government from 2001-2007.

    Also, click here to read more about the many lies uttered at this convention.

    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    Breathtakingly ridiculous:
    McCain: She's the commander of the Alaskan National Guard....[S]he has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities.
    Wow. At what point do even the non-zombie Republicans say enough with insulting our intelligence?

    I guess McCain would also try to convince us that GW's very brief time spent in the Texas Air National Guard, which I assume was near Mexico, gave him at least some national security cred before entering office....
    Will finally catching bin Laden be this election year's October Surprise? Supposedly Bush now wants to really, really catch this guy. Was this his plan all along, to leave Osama free to roam and make videos so as to conveniently scare the American public, only to find him during his closing weeks in office to serve as some grand finale, a desperate attempt to cap-off a woeful legacy? Anything is possible with these people.
    Recall the media's persistent coverage of Obama's relationship with Rev. Wright? Then why isn't the following -- statements from Sarah Palin's pastor -- on endless tape-loop across the news channels?
    The church runs a number of ministries providing help to poor neighborhoods, care for children in need, and general community services. But Pastor Kalnins has also preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."
    Hello, that rampant liberal media, are you out there....?
    Dick Polman writes:
    When a presidential candidate chooses a running mate, he reveals something important about himself. The VP announcement is the first golden opportunity for the electorate to assess the candidate's thinking, and the process by which he makes decisions that could substantively affect the nation.

    Yet, at such a crucial juncture, who did John McCain come up with? Sarah Palin, who is so problematical that the McCain campaign had to spend most of Labor Day releasing odd little factoids about her, while being forced to defend her on several other fronts. In the words of one McCain spokesman (and he actually said this), "We are going to flush the toilet," which strikes me as a distinctly unflattering way of saying that the Palin nomination has not yet passed the sniff test.
    Very true. The selection of a VP is not just about choosing a 2nd in charge that is more than capable of being 1st in charge at a moment's notice. It's also about being given a chance first-hand to observe how the presidential candidate arrives at decisions, how judgment is exercised to make crucial choices. Based on the Palin pick and the resulting fallout, one cannot be too impressed by McCain's process of getting from A to Z.

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Two days ago I wrote:
    I've heard some people grouse, "Why do we bother rebuilding New Orleans? Why do people continue to insist on living there? It's a repeat disaster zone." I wish some would wake up and realize that New Orleans has been hit with hurricanes in the past, over many decades, and yet in just the past few years has the city suffered such devastating damage and fallout. Hmm, I wonder if it has anything to do with climate change? As a result of global warming, ocean temperature and currents are changing, contributing to the increase in violent hurricanes.
    Today a new study was released concluding that global warming is contributing to hurricanes getting stronger. But hey, let's keep the focus on blaming anything but climate change....

    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Another case of Senator McCain vs. Candidate McCain, from Dan Froomkin:
    Here's McCain's exchange with Fox interviewer Chris Wallace.

    McCain: "I obviously don't want to torture any prisoners. There is a long list of areas that we were in disagreement on. But I also think --"

    Wallace: "You're not suggesting he did want to torture prisoners?"

    McCain: "Well, waterboarding to me is torture, OK? And waterboarding was advocated by the administration, and according to a published report, was used."

    But as [Zachary] Goldfarb notes, McCain earlier this year voted against a measure that would have explicitly ordered the CIA to stop the use of waterboarding and other interrogation tactics widely considered to be torture.
    The truly scary question is if he's elected, which McCain will we get, and will he change every other day?
    From the horse's mouth:
    SEN. McCAIN: No. No. I--the fact is that I'm different but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush....I strongly disagree with any assertion that I've been more at odds with the president of the United States than I have been in agreement with him.
    Who pray tell is asserting that?? In fact, almost 2 out of 3 Americans believe McCain's policies will be very similar to those GW has put forth.
    A recent Gallup poll "says the percent of Clinton supporters who now say they intend to vote for Obama rose from 70% pre-convention to 81% after the convention'".

    This poll would seem to confirm what is most likely the truth: that the supposed vast rift between unhappy Hillary supporters and the Obama camp is not so vast after all, in reality perhaps a fraction of what the media would have us believe. Before the DNC convention, 7 out of 10 Hillary supporters were going to vote for Obama anyway, this before needing to hear Hillary's "permission" to do so.

    May this trumped-up controversy be finally put to rest.
    Let me understand, because of Gustav the Republicans all but cancel their convention....? (And needless to say by my simply asking this question I am so un-American). But as I type Gustav has fortunately been downgraded to a tropical storm, so can't the full show go on? Why not make some scheduling changes to allow all the planned speakers a chance to be heard?

    Look, McCain & Co. were hoping for any reason to cancel the appearance of Bush and Cheney at the convention. As it was they had these two going on Monday, when most people would be caught in traffic as they headed home from the holiday weekend. We're talking the incumbent president and VP -- under normal circumstances one would think such individuals would 1) be scheduled to go on say Weds. if not Thursday, and 2) if forced to postpone would certainly be rescheduled to speak. I mean after all a former president (Clinton) spoke on a Weds. for the Dems, and as far as I know I have yet to hear when Bush or Cheney will in fact speak (I assume that means they won't -- just as McCain would like it).

    Of course we understand the real reasons why they wished to scuttle Bush/Cheney, but to lamely do so via the cover of Gustav's arrival -- characterizing it as the patriotic thing to do -- reaches just another low for the GOP. Truly pathetic.

    (Shocking, Bush and Cheney reportedly not missed at the convention).

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Yes indeed, if Obama divulged that his 17-year old daughter was unmarried and pregnant, you can bet that Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly and the rest of the hypocritical goon squad would be finger-wagging 24/7, blustering about the lack of family values, the need for responsible parenting, and how young adults these days are overly promiscuous and should be force-fed abstinence.

    But in this case, given the news comes from a Republican, we don't hear a peep. We of course don't hear sanctimonious lecturing from any Democrat, but even more predictably not a judgmental word has been leveled from the right. The silence is deafening. That's one thing we can always bank on, stupefying hypocrisy....

    Go one further and imagine the wingnut-shout-universe if say Hillary (or Obama) were discovered to have fired an employee seemingly out of spite. We'd probably hear about just how god-awful wrong it was, such an abuse of power, something we certainly don't need for the next four years. Heck, much stink was made with Travelgate, which ultimately amounted to nothing but wasted tax payer money on several investigations into the matter.

    Here with Palin and Monegan, we have Newt Gingrich calmly looking to downplay the potential scandal, believing she simply "exercised bad judgment" and that it's "not a deeply damaging problem."

    Keep moving, nothing to see, just keep strolling right along on your lovely Labor Day....
    I've been away, hardly had access to internet. Many thoughts have come to mind over the last few days, I'll just list them below.

  • I've heard some people grouse, "Why do we bother rebuilding New Orleans? Why do people continue to insist on living there? It's a repeat disaster zone." I wish some would wake up and realize that New Orleans has been hit with hurricanes in the past, over many decades, and yet in just the past few years has the city suffered such devastating damage and fallout. Hmm, I wonder if it has anything to do with climate change? As a result of global warming, ocean temperature and currents are changing, contributing to the increase in violent hurricanes. But I suppose it's better just to focus on and judge the people, the victims, as opposed to soberly explore root causes.

  • So McCain met with Palin just twice before selecting her, hardly knowing her at all. Imagine the right-wing screech machine if Obama had made the same type of pick, one so obviously political, one where he barely knew the person he chose. They'd have a field day, and justifiably so. Given the circumstances, it's quite transparent to me that the VP was going to be Romney until McCain screwed up with the number-of-houses question. After that debacle, he could no longer confirm his elite status (folks, he's rich and no common man!) by selecting as VP a fellow elite. All those plans quickly went down the toilet, the campaign likely went into panic-mode to come up with a palpable #2, frantically spinning, trying to piece together something that resembled a credible story. Palin is the by-product of this rushed mash-up. And this is an example of McCain's judgment? Do we want four more years of this kind of decision making? As Obama said on Thursday, haven't we had enough?

  • In comparison, Dan Quayle now looks like a seasoned pro at the time he was chosen.

  • Like Palin, Cindy McCain was a former beauty queen. To what extent is this just a coincidence? What are the odds that a presidential candidate would have a former beauty queen as a wife AND as a VP? Did Cindy play a large influence in identifying and urging her husband to pick Palin? Stranger questions can be asked.

  • In announcing Palin as his VP, McCain stated as one of her qualifications that she's a "devoted wife and mother of five" kids. Oh, I see, so based on this litmus test there are millions upon millions of women in America that were quite close to qualifying as VP material....

  • Whereas GW exhibited naked cronyism during his reign, it appears as if McCain is going with naked political opportunism. Bush desired a bunch of "yes" men around him and rewarded anyone and everyone who expressed loyalty towards his inept administration. McCain appears to be much less reliant on yes-type folks (because given his temperament, he's likely to do what he alone believes anyway, regardless of what anyone else thinks) but instead will select stock players to satisfy roles that will help him advance. With Palin, he's cynically appeasing the hard-right base and lofting a symbolic fig leaf to any disenchanted Hillary voter at the margin that he believes he can lasso or frankly hoodwink.

  • Sarah Palin reminds me of former SNL Ana Gasteyer's character, Bobbi Moughan-Culp. Same manner of speaking, etc.