Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When Going On A Job Interview

taking a parent along is not considered a good idea. In fact, it is considered by most to be a sure path to continued unemployment.

You have to wonder if anyone in the McCain camp realized how awful it looked to have the person who they think should be the vice president having to be chaperoned by a protector.


Since We Are Taking A Second Swing

(or third) at getting an emergency bail out in place and we have a couple a days to consider our options, I would like to add my voice to the mix.

I am one of those who is disgusted by the thought of bailing out this industry but I think we have little choice but to take some action. As I told a friend; It is like having a advanced case of gangrene in your leg. You can end up with two very unpleasant options, cut off the leg or die.

So it looks like we have to find a way to cut off the leg, but it doesn't mean we should not try to save as much as we can. So what is the smart way to fix this mess, but save as much as we can?

My first thought is; Why are we giving $700,000,000,000.00 to the same people who screwed up in the first place? Maybe the new bill should address this in some manner. It is possible to let the bad firms fail, but protect the overall credit markets? Keeping bad businesses open and bad business-persons in place is not smart and prior to giving money away this has to be looked at.

My second thought is; Why are we expecting oversight from the same people who let this happen on their watch? Maybe a few new regulators would not be a bad idea. Lets start with the man who's initial thought was: Yall, just give me $700,000,000,000.00 and bugger off, while I decide what to do with it. Anyone who thinks this is a rational reaction to a situation that occurred on his watch is not thinking clearly. This is another example of the Republican style of regulation and oversight biting middle America on the ass, and can not be allowed to continue.

My third thought is; Why are we expecting a better outcome after the bail-out when we have not changed the way the rules of the game are written. How about some real regulation, starting with a return to the rules in place in the mid 90s. Otherwise I think the end result is throwing good money after bad. A business's job it to make money, in any way it can, no matter what. The only boundaries that exist for them are the ones that society forces on them by rules and then enforcing the rules. For the last 30 years we have been removing the rules and over the last 7 years the Bush administration have simply refused to enforce the few rules left in place. This has to change or our efforts will make no long term difference.

These are not detailed solutions, simply a starting place on issues to address prior to giving the folks who paid them self's billions of dollars a year for losing trillions of dollars a year, another $700,000,000,000.00 to play with.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Yet Another 'Senior' Moment For McCain

While making excuses for the failed bail out vote he had this to say:

"Senator Obama and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process. Now is not the time to affix the blame. It’s time to fix the problem. "

It's Obama's fault, but, no one is to blame?

Has his dementia gotten so bad that he can not remember what he just said?


To Big To Fail

When AIG was going down the drain the Fed had to step in and throw billions of dollars at them because if AIG failed it could have destroyed the economy in the process. In other words, AIG was to big to fail. The same was said of Fannie May and Freddie Mac. These bailouts have cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and more is coming.

I do not possess the in depth knowledge to fully understand these failures but the argument that they have to be saved is , in each of these cases, quite defensible. It makes sense that if the collapse of a company would cost the nation more that saving it would it is the wise choice to save it.

But at some point you need to learn the lesson and stop allowing firms get to big to fail.

I mention this in light of the latest forced marriage (No, not the Palin kid) of Citigroup and Wachovia. When you have the largest marrying the largest, do we not risk having a firm grow so large we can not let it fail?

How about just a little regulation and oversight this time around.


Wachovia Bites The Dust

For a friend of mine who worked in the home mortgage business this is the trifectia, Wachovia, WaMu and Indymac have now all failed.

I do wonder what that $700,000,000,000.00 is going to buy us.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain - A History of Fighting Regulation

And getting the American Taxpayer to pay for his mistakes

Maybe McCain Should Have Stayed In Hiding

This was the debate that John McCain needed to win, and win big. The theme was his turf, terror, war and international affairs, and he had worked hard to project himself as vastly more qualified that Obama.

But Obama was more that up for the challenge.

The top tier bloggers on the left saw it as a draw or maybe a slight win for Obama. It is also clear that they were adjusting their pronouncements in an effort to correct for their own bias. After looking at the post debate polls, viewer feedback and pundit assessments, it is clear that the those bloggers were dead on. The pundits agree: It was a tie or a small win for Obama.

The trouble for McCain is, he needed a home run.

What is even better for Obama is the people saw this as an big Obama win. McCain was grumpy, unlikable and refused to make eye contact. Obama was open, friendly and able to communicate his ideas.

In the end it was another bad day, in a long series of bad days for McCain.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Is McCain Going to Chicken Out?

The debate is less than 12 hours away, and it still isn't clear if he will be in Oxford or in hiding with Sarah.

At least Obama has the courage to face the American public in a time of crisis.


We have a debate, McCain blinked


Some Friday Reading

Local blogers edition:

A request to be Ambassador to Canada has been made by Walter Decker. He appears to have the background for it.

At Not Very Bright, a look at blogging, ethics, and who appears to lack them. NVB also has a clip of Sarah being, well, Sarah,

In a matter of minutes Science Shrimp and Grits was able to find, read and digest Paulson's Plan. Something McCain was not able to do for a week.

From while I read... I hope, a look at the (lack of) economic growth in South Carolina

Like many Americans, Tim at Cracked the Bell is fascinated by the train wreck that Sarah Palin's efforts at being vice presidential have become. Tim was able to sneak in a listen to some of Palin's debate prep, and that just confirmed what he already thought; That she is dumber that two jars of dirt. I think he may be underestimating the intelligence of the jars of dirt.

And something non political, but some of the best writing in the Blogs a reflection of early adulthood by Eric at The Great Elsewhere


Another One Bites The Dust

This one hit close to home. I had friends who worked for WaMu when they had operations here.

As the debate over a $700 billion bank bailout rages on in Washington, one of the nation's largest banks — Washington Mutual Inc. — has collapsed under the weight of its enormous bad bets on the mortgage market.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized WaMu on Thursday


Seattle-based WaMu, which was founded in 1889, is the largest bank to fail by far in the country's history.

What amazing sights and wonders the Republican economic model brings us.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain and the US Economy

yesterday I said.

God help us if he (McCain) actually does get involved, his efforts have so far contributed to the Savings and Loan bailouts 15-20 years ago and this mess. Given the access, who knows what else he could screw up.

Well a few months ago a Romney supporter gave us this to consider

and check out just how serious McCain is about learning about the economy:

ANCHOR: As for the massive Wall Street bailout McCain insists it have...

JSM: Oversight that is effective and transparent. We need people like Warren Buffet and Mike Bloomberg and Mitt Romney to have an oversight of this. We can’t put that responsibility in the hands of one person.

ANCHOR: The crunch question. Would you vote for it as it’s presently constructed?

JSM: I have not had a chance to see it in writing so I have to examine that.

The plan in question is all of 3 (yest three)pages long, it would have taken him less than 2 minutes to read it.

What a posturing fool this man has become.

But for a while we appear to be safe since a deal has been made before McCain could actually get to DC to mess it up.


What I Would Like To See In The Bailout

This bailout has to happen, but it doesn't mean we have to be stupid about how we do it. Because of this I have developed a short list of key point that I wold love to see.

1. A return of real oversight of the industry. It makes no sense to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into a system that has already lost trillions of dollars, in part, because of poor regulation.

2. A deliberate process in the crafting the final bill. Quick law, rushed law, is almost always crappy law. Just consider the Patriot Act I and the Iraq Resolution. They were rushed and their flaws quickly became apparent. Take your time and do it right. Since this is a Rush, give a 120 day temporary OK for the expense of maybe 100 billion and do the rest right.

3. We should protect the tax payer, not the businesses. These bailout need to focus on limiting the long term exposure of the tax payer. Just because we are bailing out Wall Street, it doesn't mean we have to make every deal, and save every firm. If the deal is to ugly, skip it. Like medical triage, spend your energy on the good options, and let the hopeless die.

4. Get over the executive compensation issue. Yes, these guys are grossly overpaid, and have run their business and the economy on the rocks, but in the big picture it is a drop in a flood.

5. Accountability, investigate this mess, take your time, and discover what went wrong.

6. Re-regulation needs to start to keep the money flowing. No company can be allowed to get to big to fail. No industry can be allowed to run so free as to threaten our economy. This has to be addressed prior to spending more than the bare minimum to keep the economic wheels turning.

Do this and we will be making progress, much less and we are just help the rich and powerful get richer.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain Plans To Join Palin In Hiding

John McCain has announced his intention to suspend his campaign and wants to skip Friday's debate due to the economic crisis.

He says he is headed to DC to address this emergency.

The mind boggles.

So McCain, who made the foolish claim that the economy is sound just last week; McCain, who admitted he didn't understand economics; McCain who was a leader in the fight to deregulate banking, a key factor in this failure; John McCain who has missed over 80% of the votes in Congress this year, is headed to DC to save us (God help us if he actually does get involved, his efforts have so far contributed to the Savings and Loan bailouts 15-20 years ago and this mess. Given the access, who knows what else he could screw up.).

Or could it be that:

McCain doesn't want to deal with the fact that the floor has fallen out of his poll numbers; His campaign manager was, until last month, basically on the payroll of fannie may and freddie mac the failed loan companies (how can you clean up DC when you are run by big time DC insiders?); McCain wants to avoid more public misstatements by himself of by his VP choice who is calling for another Great Depression and war with Russia.

My bet is he is desperate to change the subject and is afraid of any debate that will focus on economic issues.

McCain is simply scared and wants to hide, not real presidential is it.


I love this line from Ben Smith:

McCain suspends his campaign, and asks to postpone Friday's debate, to address the financial crisis.

Both candidates have been marginal players; McCain, though, seems to have the potential to make himself a major one, and his move is a mark, most of all, that he doesn't like the way this campaign is going.

But in terms of the timing of this move: The only thing that's changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.



First John Edwards, Now Sarah Palin

It appears that the National Enquirer has struck again. This time our lipsticked pitbull is the target of their efforts.

They claim to have 3 sources and a signed affidavit.

After the fuss our blogger friends on the right raised about Edwards, after their screaming claims that the media's reluctance to give the Enquirer some air time was political, how do they think should this story be played out.


As the National Review's Jonah Goldberg pointed out:

it's worth pointing out that while the Enquirer may or may not be scrupulous in its choice of stories — that's in the eye of the beholder — it is pretty scrupulous about its facts. They win lawsuits. They've broken a host of stories the MSM guys couldn't.

As I have said before, I love McCain's selection of Palin for VP. Is says so much about him and what his administration would be like.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain, Led By Lobbyist

And golden parachute millionaires.

Yet he denounces both. This is a amazing amount of hypocrisy, even by the standards of the modern political landscape.

John McCain has been forced to preach on the economy, and he is been trying to wrap himself up as the reform candidate. He will shake up DC and force reform on the lobbyist. Yet his campaign manager, his number one hire, the closest paid aid he has on his staff, a man destined to have 24/7/365 access to the Oval Office should McCain be elected president made millions running Fanny May and Freddy Mac's lobbying efforts to prevent regulation of their efforts.
Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.

Mr. McCain, the Republican candidate for president, has recently begun campaigning as a critic of the two companies and the lobbying army that helped them evade greater regulation as they began buying riskier mortgages with implicit federal backing. He and his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, have donors and advisers who are tied to the companies.

Incensed by the advertisements, several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000. Some who came forward were Democrats, but Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their descriptions

In addition John has railed against executive compensation, stock options, bonuses and the golden parachutes that so many of them get when they fail. The only real problem is, another one of his top advisers got a very nice parting gift from her firm as they let her (and 20,000 other workers) go. Now McCain is left having to denounce the action while at the same time defending the greed of his advisers (an adviser who has also been silenced by the campaign for stating the obvious about his VP choice).

The McCain clown car of a campaigh is amazing; They can't open their mouths without lying, they ignore obvious facts and they are unable to admit that they are ever wrong.

No wonder John has voted with George Bush so often, they think alike.


Monday, September 22, 2008

These Are Some Of The People

who are getting 700 Billion is tax payer funded bailouts.

In 2007, Wall Street’s five biggest firms — Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley — paid a record $39 billion in bonuses to themselves.

That’s $10 billion more than the $29 billion loan taxpayers are making to J.P. Morgan to save Bear Stearns.

Those 2007 bonuses were paid even though the shareholders in those firms last year collectively lost about $74 billion in stock declines — their worst year since 2002.

$39,000,000,000.00 in bonuses just last year.


On Bailouts and Accountability

One of my biggest issues is accountability. I feel that one of the reasons that things have gotten as screwed up as they have is that we tend to not hold our leadership accountable. In simple terms, when a worker screws up he gets punished, often fired; All to often we see that when an executive screws up, he gets rewarded.

STAFF at Lehman’s New York office who helped to cause the world’s biggest corporate bankruptcy are to share in a $2.5 billion bonanza.

This is in no way uncommon where even the worst of executives gets millions in goodies as they are being pushed out the door.

This doesn't include the million and millions of dollars they earned in options and bonuses based on stock performance, a performance that was often gained by ignoring the long term to gain a few more points by the end of the quarter.

This system of limited to no accountability for those at the top who screwed up the most is about to be taken to new levels.

The US Taxpayer is being asked to give 1 person $700,000,000.00 dollars to make things better and as things appear right now, he can then do what ever he feels like doing with the cash, no questions asked.

The Treasury Secretary is authorized to give out money to anybody for any reason as long as he states that it is "mortgage-related".

it gets better, we get back to no accountability.

And there is no proposal to take over management and/or ownership of the institutions holding these toxic mortgages in exchange for taking the bad loans off their books, which is the only way to keep them from writing more toxic mortgages. Instead, it's just money thrown at the same bastards who got us into this situation in the first place.

As constructed This bailout is not so much a bailout, but a giveaway to both wall street and oversees banks

As to accountability, well for for those who created this mess, I don't see any. The only ones to pay will be the American taxpayer.

Additional Voices

Vvanity Press

Open Left (Salty Language)


Saturday, September 20, 2008

FAUX News, Like Many Conservatives

simply lie, all the time.

The trouble is their lies never change. They just change then name and insert them into old lies. It's stupid, lazy and dishonest, but it keeps their (Lets face it, kinda stupid) base happy.

McCain Is At Fault For The Economic Meltdown

He also admits he wants to do what he did to bakning for your medical insurance.

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

And he also wanted to give the responsibility for safeguarding your Social Security to Lehman Brothers and the rest of the Wall Street gang that we are now having to bail out.

He is a man filled with ideas.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Put It On My Tab

Today Bush have announced a bailout for the banks who are sitting on bad debt. Bad debt that started to be created only when theses very same banks had their lobbyist work congress and remove most of the regulations that prevented this type of stupidity. Bad debt that was used to show a quarterly or annual 'profit' and then sold onto other firms so they could show a quarterly or annual 'profit' so their executives could get then multi-million dollar bonuses. Bad debt that had fueled the (false) economic growth that Bush and the Republicans have touted for the last 7 years.

And what is the cost?

Well for the lobbyist, and the banks and the executives who got billions, who knows. heck, it is a safe bet that some of them are already sitting on millions of dollars, and are out of the game, sheltered from any real cost. But for our nation this bailout plan cost at least $1,000,000,000,000.00 (trillion) dollars (one of the lower estimates I have seen). On a personal level, it will cost my family at least $14,000.00. That is about 1/2 of the median family household income for the state of South Carolina.

Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now projected to cost me about $28,000.00 and paying off the the Reagan and Bush debt will cost another $115,000.00 (plus interest for all of this), I figure what the hell, just put it on my tab.

But there is real good news out there. If John McCain is elected, all those folks earning over $250,000.00 are in line to see a sweet tax cut. The rest of us? heck, just put it on the tab.


Conservatives Are Cowards

I have noted before how fear filled the right wing's bed wetting brigade can act with something goes bump. I have always considered it to be a notable factor in the make-up of many of those on the right.

Well, it appears I was right.

a new study in the prestigious journal Science says that people with right wing views blink and flinch far harder than liberals when confronted with startling stimuli.

In the first study to directly link politics and physiology, the University of Nebraska led study suggests that people who hold conservative views on things like foreign policy and gun control, are more frightened than those with a more left-leaning bent on those issues.

This clearly would not apply across the board to everyone who has conservative views and it does appear to apply to protective issues more than broader issues. That said, this is the first step in confirming a detail that I have long suspected; Many of those on the right who have been screeching the loudest are doing so because they are afraid.

As s follow up to this study I think that there is another effect that should be reviewed. I would love to see the effect that ever increasing scare tactics has on how voters vote. I bet it moves them to the right, at least a little, no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

And that is why the Bush administration worked so hard to keep everyone freaked out from 2001 to 2006; It help in their political efforts.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

About McCain's choice of running mate, Sarah Palin:

She is a liar with theocratic tendencies, sports an intellect that makes Bush look like a Mensa member, and features an obvious fondness for Cheney-style abuses of power.


A Quick Review Of What I Am Seeing

out in the blogisphere

More that a few people have noted how often McCain and Palin are lying and that they are lying about almost everything. Even our regularly blind media has noticed. Of course this lying includes lying in their advertising when they try to attack Obama's actions. There is humor to be found in this dishonesty, like the discovery that it appears that the McCain/Palin ticket what to protect child molesters.

As would be expected, a big topic is the economic meltdown we are seeing. It is being noted by many that our current situation is a direct result of policies that Republicans have been promoting. You have to remember that the Republicans have been in charge for years and it is the deregulation they pushed that has allowed the meltdown to occur. If fact some have made it very clear that this collapse is a direct result of policies pushed by John McCain's and his lead economic adviser Phil Gramm.

Of course other traditional republican issues are also getting some mention. It appears that Palin supports banning books but not so found of actual oversight. In fact it is clear she is a big fan of abusing power. And it becomes clear that she is a true hard core Reoublican when we see just how quickly she moves to start obstructing investigations, It is a favorite pastime of republicans.

While I still wonder what makes so many Republicans tick, the argument that it is a mental illness is starting to make more sense.


More Signs That McCain Is Effected By Dementia

I have mentioned this before and it is a real concern for me. during this interview it is clear McCain is not able to get his mental faculties around the question.

So McCain is the candidate with the foreign policy experience ready to lead on day one. But he doesn't know who the leader of Spain is. He gets confused in an interview, apparently thinking Zapatero is someone from Latin America who is an enemy of the United States and manages to create a minor international incident.

Update :

McCain Forgot Where Spain Was


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time To Reap What We Have Sewn

For over the last twenty five to thirty years one of the primary screeds of the Republican party is that government was evil, and one of the most heinous things that our government does is regulate business. In all honesty I have to admit that a significant minority of the Democratic party has also taken an anti-governmental regulation position. It has been a basic operating concept of every administration since 1980 and has been supported by a slim majority of Americans.

The result is plain to see. We have mega consolidation in almost every industry. We have gotten to the point that almost all rules regulating businesses are basically written by the business groups themselves. We are rapidly becoming a welfare state for corporations where the job of the citizen is to keep corporations healthy.

We have also gotten to the point where, in many business sectors, the competitors have consolidated to the point where, on a national level, there are only a couple of major players left. For a business this near monopoly is a great situation, for the consumer it has it's advantages and disadvantages, for a society it is a dangerous nightmare.

Economies of scale that develop when a business becomes a Goliath can offer benefits to the consumer but there are a number of costs. One of these was made crystal clear with the recent bailouts that have been offered to mismanaged businesses. At times an economy and society become so dependant on a company that the risk of it's failure is so great it can not be allowed. This is the reality we now face with Freddie, Fanny and AIG. If we had 20 or 30 companies doing the work of Fanny and Freddie do then if one or two failed it would hurt some, but it would not have cost the whole nation. If we had prevented these companies from becoming so large and in some cases basically the only provides of a services, then we could allow them to fail. However, the push to get government out of business regulation has allowed for consolidation and hyper growth that has created a situation where a business failure is a risk to the nation as a whole. The trouble is, failure is a central tenant of capitalism. We have ignored this truth and the cost for this inaction is now into the hundreds of billions of extra tax exposure for a nation that is already vastly overstretched. And the frightening truth is, there are still a large numbers of firms, in various business areas, that are very very sick.

So, next time you hear about a mega merger or other consolidation and hear about how they hope to get regulatory approval, the next time you hear people complaining about government rules, remember this very expensive lesson and scream at your elected officials to do their jobs.

Unless you like watching corporate offices getting hundreds of millions in bonuses and the having the tax payer bail them out.

Added On

This point is made very clear at Seeing the Forest

Since Reagan almost all of us are getting poorer, while a very few get vastly richer. Wages have largely stagnated since Reagan's election even as GDP and productivity have gone up. Pensions are a thing of the past. Health insurance is becoming a thing of the past as well.

As a result of the Reagan and now Bush tax cuts for the rich the government's debt is just about $10 TRILLION.

Skippy has also noticed what our tax dollars are buying


To Hell With Accountability

Another mega-corportation is bailed out by US Taxpayers.

the U.S. government agreed Tuesday to provide an $85 billion emergency loan to rescue the huge insurer AIG. The Federal Reserve said

Executives get paid 100s of millions of dollars to drive a countless number of companies off the cliff, and then;

The folks who got laid off durring offshoring, those who wages have been declining durring this period of executive excess, well, they get to pay billions and billions to clean op the mess created by the multi-millioniars.

This is one heck of a system we have built, isn't it.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sarah Palin Is A Classic Republican

Now, I am not talking about small government, low taxes, keeping you nose out of other people's business republican. That is so middle twentieth century. She is a classic modern twenty first century republican.

She is anti intellect, anti science. She is a liar without shame, she is investigation obstructing, obsessed with loyalty over honesty and she is a very public, very dogmatic, self professed christian.

George Bush in a skirt, just a little dumber.


Monday, September 15, 2008

John McCain, More Lies

This time he is trying to claim that all is well in the land of plenty, that the bailout of Bear Stearns, Fanny Mea and Freddie Mac, the failure of Lehman Brothers and the forced fire sale of Merrill Lynch is not a real big deal.

I don't often bring up economics. It is a topic that, while I do have strong views, can be argued much better by people more educated on this topic than I am.

Sen. McCain is also not well versed on this subject. He has gone as far to admit he is basically clueless on the topic, and would rely on experts like Sen. Phil (shut up you whiners) Gramm for advice.

Unfortunately for us, these are the very same experts who's policies have brought you this banking and investment melt down. Their pro-business anti-regulatory policies created an environment where regulation was crushed, executive pay and bonuses ran in to the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and resulted in what amounts to the bankruptcy of at least 4 of the biggest players in the business.

McCain likes to lie and claim that he is an agent of change. He claims that he can make our nation work and correct the mistakes of the last 8 years of Republican rule. The trouble, as stated by Rep. Barney Frank McCain has a history of doing nothing, and change will not just happen, you have to work for it.

So here’s the record – 12 years of Republicans, including John McCain being a committee chairman for much of that period. Zero – zero enactment of any reform. Democrats take power, and in a year and a half, we have passed a bill that did everything the administration asked for, in terms of enhancing the regulatory structure.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

John McCain's Crew Will Lie About Anything

In the last two weeks we have seen the serial dishonesty of Sarah Palin and John McCain as they have spouted lie after lie about Palin's political history. Even when confronted with clear evidence, sometime with video tape of Palin's own words and actions, they continued to lie.

And now we see more evidence of the dishonesty of John McCain and his followers.

Senator John McCain has drawn some of the biggest crowds of his presidential campaign since adding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to his ticket on Aug. 29. Now officials say they can't substantiate the figures McCain's aides are claiming.

McCain aide Kimmie Lipscomb told reporters on Sept. 10 that an outdoor rally in Fairfax City, Virginia, drew 23,000 people, attributing the crowd estimate to a fire marshal.

Fairfax City Fire Marshal Andrew Wilson said his office did not supply that number to the campaign and could not confirm it. Wilson, in an interview, said the fire department does not monitor attendance at outdoor events.


The McCain campaign said 10,000 people showed up at the Consol Energy Arena in Washington, Pennsylvania, home of the Washington Wild Things baseball team.

The campaign attributed that estimate, and several that followed, to U.S. Secret Service figures, based on the number of people who passed through magnetometers.

``We didn't provide any numbers to the campaign,'' said Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service.

I guess John McCain subscribes the the belief that if you "Tell a lie often enough, loud enough, and long enough and people will believe you." It has been the foundation to more than one government, but I hope we are a little better than that.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palin, More Cluelessness On Parade

She has no idea what the Bush Doctrine is (or what a doctrine is for that matter) and is equally ill informed about economics and the US budget.

Matthew Yglesias says it very well

If you try to sit down and make sense of John McCain’s tax and budget proposals, you’ll find that they don’t make any sense. There are assertions that certain kinds of cuts could save way more money than is in fact there, you’ll find budget figures that count on eliminating all U.S. aid to Israel, inconsistent projections, goofy talk about balancing the budget by achieving “victory” in Iraq, etc. But everyone in the press “knows” that John McCain is responsible, so he doesn’t get asked about this stuff. But Sarah Palin’s not in the club, so Charlie Gibson asks her some basic questions about the budget and it turns out that there’s no there there. But this has nothing to do with her, and everything to do with policies outlined by McCain before Palin joined the ticket:

GIBSON: So let me break some of those down. You talk about spending. How much smaller would a McCain budget be? Where would you cut?

PALIN: We’re going to find efficiencies in every department. We have got to. There are some things that I think should be off the table. Veterans’ programs, off the table. You know, we owe it to our veterans and that’s the greatest manifestation that we can show in terms of support for our military, those who are in public service fighting for America. It’s to make sure that our veterans are taken care of and the promises that we’ve made to them are fulfilled.

GIBSON: So you’d take military off the table, the veterans’ benefits. That’s 20 percent of the budget. &Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

PALIN: I am sure that there are efficiencies that are going to be found in all of these agencies. I’m confident in that.

GIBSON: The agencies are not involved in entitlements. Basically, discretionary spending is 18 percent of the budget.

PALIN: We have certainly seen excess in agencies, though, and in — when bureaucrats, when bureaucracy just gets kind of comfortable, going with the status-quo and not being challenged to find efficiencies and spend other people’s money wisely, then that’s where we get into the situation that we are into today, and that is a tremendous growth of government, a huge debt, trillions of dollars of debt that we’re passing on to my kids and your kids and your grandkids … It’s unacceptable.

I suppose in practice a McCain administration’s budgets would just look like George W. Bush’s budgets or Ronald Reagan’s budgets — tax cuts and huge deficits. But it is telling that the woman John McCain chose as his running mate doesn’t seem to understand what “entitlements” are. Clearly, just as most citizens don’t know what the Bush Doctrine is, most people probably aren’t all that familiar with the meaning of the entitlement/discretionary distinction in federal budgeting. But it’s a big deal for people who actually pay attention to political and policy issues in the United States. I wonder if McCain chatted with Palin at all about her views on entitlement reform before adding her to the ticket?

Palin has spent 2 weeks hiding from the media and when she finally agrees to a softball interview, she makes it clear she is in no way ready for prime time. She is undereducated, anti-intellectual and apparently unaware of her shortcomings.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Iraq, Afghanistan, South Asia and Oliver North

It has been a while since I posted on the wars in South Asia.

In Iraq the situation is rather unchanged, and to steal a theme from Charles Dickens, The Surge has worked, and the Surge has failed.

In Iraq violence is down and life, while not real good, is not getting worse. The addition of tens of thousands of US troops into the area has helped to reduce the carnage from apocalyptic to just horrifying. Some claim that this means that the surge has worked.

Well, they are kinda right, but mostly wrong. Violence is down, down a lot, but how much can be attributed to the surge is a debatable point. Prior to the surge the awakening councils were created and our paying the Sunni's to not attack us has been a great help in reducing violence without the addition of US forces. In addition, the fact that by the time the surge got into place many of the areas where the worst violence occured were effectively ethnically cleansed. This reduced tensions and has greatly helped to reduce conflict (at a very high cost). These actions occured prior to the addition of forces and have clearly impacted the levels of violence.

That said, I doubt that you can find many people who did not thing that the US armed forces, when given enough man power, could not also do the job of reducing violence. Even if we had not seen the success of the awakening counsels and the ethnic cleansing, there is every reason to expect that the troops, when in sufficient numbers, would be able to reduce violence.

This does not mean that all is well, fFor those who view the reduction of bombings from 60 a day to 60 a week as a victory, they can pretend that the surge has worked. There is only one problem with this. The Surge has always been a 2 step process. Part 1 was the addition of troops to reduce the violence. This was to lead to part 2 of the surge. The development of functioning political and security systems within Iraq that will allow for it's self rule.

This is still an abject failure.

Those who like to claim that the surge has worked clearly do not understand that the surge only works if part 2 gets accomplished. If it doesn't then we have to continue to leave our troops in place forever. Sadly, we are no closer to Iraq's political unification than we were 5 years ago. Unless this is accomplished the surge has failed, and there is little out there that indicated that this is ever going to happen.

On the Afghan front, our hearts and minds efforts have taken another blow. It appears that our armed forces have again blown-up a bunch of civilians.

These deaths are a tragic by-product of every war, and in no way a surprise. Another non surprise is that when this story first broke out the US armed forces made claims that the very few civilian deaths were an unfortunate by product of a successful strike on the bad guys. The local authorities claimed over 80 woman and children killed, we argued that is was less than 10, and we were also able to kill 30 or 40 bad guys.

Even after a second investigation we claimed that, yes a few civilians were killed, but most of the dead were bad guys. One of the reasons given for this finding was the testimony of a 'media witness' Oliver North.

As far as the Army was concerned case closed.

Unfortunately for them, there were video images that contradicted the 'facts' that we tried to present.

The UK TimesOnline has posted a video of the aftermath of the killings of dozens of villagers in the Afghan village of Nawabad (called Azizabad in other stories). The U.S. has maintained that seven civilians and three dozen Taliban militants were killed in the combined U.S. Special Forces/Afghan Army/U.S. air operation last August 21. The United Nations and local villagers insist that 92 civilians were killed, over half of them children.


Perhaps the most amazing political news surrounding the Nawabad massacre is that the Pentagon says it relied for its account, in part, on corroborative evidence by the embedded journalist on the scene: Fox News "reporter" Oliver North! The Times portrays North as coming "to prominence in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair."

There are a few lessons that we should learn here:

First, it is foolish to assume any in-house investigation will find the truth. Sadly this has been proven over and over again with our armed forces.

Second, Relying on the statements of a person who is know for having a unique few of the truth is not necessarily a wise choice. Mr. North's track record for objectivity and clear observation is at best questionable. This is just more evidence of that.

Third, the use of overwhelming firepower should be reserved until you are 100% sure of your target, especially in a combat arena where there are high concentrations of civilians. A lesson that one would have thought we would have learned by now.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

With Change Like McCain's Offering

Why not just keep Bush, Cheney and company in place for 8 more years.

Just look at the style of reform Palin offers.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

The governor also has charged the state for travel expenses to take her children on official out-of-town missions. And her husband, Todd, has billed the state for expenses and a daily allowance for trips he makes on official business for his wife.


The governor's daughters and husband charged the state $43,490 to travel and many of the trips were to and from their house in Wasilla and Juneau, the capital city 600 miles away, the documents show.


She wrote some form of "Lodging -- own residence" or "Lodging -- Wasilla residence" more than 30 times at the same time she took a per diem, according to the reports. In two dozen undated amendments to the reports, the governor deleted the reference to staying in her home but still charged the per diem.

Palin charged the state a per diem for working on Nov. 22, 2007 -- Thanksgiving Day. The reason given, according to the expense report, was the Great Alaska Shootout, an annual NCAA college basketball tournament held in Anchorage.

Now, this appears to be legal in Alaska and not unusual according to reports, well at least some of it does.

But just because something is traditional and legal doesn't make it right nor do these actions live up the the reformer image that she is busy trying to wrap herself up in.

McCain Palin, so much like Bush Cheney in so many special special way.


Monday, September 08, 2008

One Of Sarah's Neighbors Speaks

It is damning, but not very surprising

My fellow Alaskans have vouched for Palin as a charming, interesting person. I can add to that that she is perfectly friendly. But now she is running for the highest office and so it must be noted that Sarah Palin the Friendly Neighbor is different from Sarah Palin the Executive. The latter is a woman with intense agendas guided by a narrow set of culturally conservative and extreme religious values. She believes that abstinence should be the only form of sex education taught to teenagers; she believes that creationism should be taught alongside science in our schools; she is against a woman’s right to choose even in the cases of incest and rape; and her church believes gay and lesbian Americans can and, one assumes, should be corrected by prayer (“pray away the gay” is their cheery slogan).


She did try to use her power to ban books. Wasilla’s popular public librarian rightly objected, and the community rightly backed the librarian. The books were never banned, though Mrs. Palin did fire the librarian for not agreeing with her political views, then rescinded the firing after it was clear she’d made an unpopular decision.


In recent days, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin have directed accusations of elitism at the Democratic ticket as well as at the media, suggesting that there is something undesirable about a presidential candidate with extensive knowledge of foreign policy, inner city community struggles, constitutional law, and the complexities of the major domestic crises. This is baffling. Don’t we want an elite leader? Don’t we want a White House made transparent by an elite press? We are a large and complex nation with large and complex problems. Common sense suggests, and the last eight years have shown, that perhaps the president should be something of an elite leader.


For just 22 months Sarah Palin has been the governor of a state of just 680,000 people that is “awash” in money (as former Alaska governor Tony Knowles put it) and receives more pork-barrel money per capita than any other state. Alaska has no tricky border or immigration issues with the remote parts of British Columbia and the coast of Siberia. There are no inner cities struggling with poverty and daily violence. There is a lot of drunk driving (Alaska is dark and cold much of the year), though the state police force is well funded and the road system they patrol is startlingly simple; I can’t think of a stretch of highway lasting 15 miles that has more than 4 lanes.


John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin shows that he is moving farther and farther to the right of mainstream America. If he’s doing it for political reasons, he’s no maverick.


Playing The Refs

In sports you see this all the time; The coach or the fans cry to the referee about every perceived slight from the very start of the the action. It is seen as a way to get an advantage. Some coaches are famous for using this as a regular strategy in big games and start working the refs early and often. They know that that weak willed officials may in fact slant their calls to avoid arguments. This is especially true if the opposing coach and fans don't raise as big a fuss as the initial complainers are.

The same is true in politics.

The McCain camp has been working the media quite effectively. They cry about everything that is done that doesn't overtly favor them. Neutrality or true questioning is not acceptable. McCain's elevation of Palin to the national stage has made this very clear.

CNN asks legitimate questions about Palin's experience, and McCain's people start to cancel schedules interviews and reduce access. As more reporters start to ask questions about Palin's record, the McCain camp rushes to hide her in Alaska and cries sexism.

But, when you look at the questions it is very hard to see a sexist line.

How are questions about when she opposed the "bridge to no where" sexist? The same questions apply for why did she hire lobbyist to get earmarks for her town if she opposed them so much (both Lobbyist and earmarks). Who screwed up the only major project she headed in her town, and who is responsible for the millions in cost overruns. Why did, in her term as mayor, her town go from a balanced budget to being deeply in debt. Why did she use the power of her office to try to fire the Chief of Police, the town Liberian and later her state trooper brother in law.

These are questions that you should ask of anyone running for higher office, but McCain's people are working quite hard (apparently very effectively) at making the claim that asking about any of this is crossing a line.

The the more delicate questions of grandmotherhood are, to my thinking, legitimate.

She is anti sexed and anti choice. The end result of these decisions can be clearly seen in her daughters growing belly. I am not sure how asking about the end result of her policy decisions is wrong, but the McCain camp keeps claiming it is. If they wanted to keep the Palin family out of the discussion, especially as they relate to the policy issues, it is probably best to not parade them across the stage.

Add to this her ideas about creationism, her husband's anti-American views and other interesting tidbits and you have a wealth of questions she needs to respond to, and not one has anything to do with her gender. If it were a male with the same history, the same questions would apply, and if it were a democratic male these questions would have been answered already. For the Democrats would never have been allowed to refuse to answer the media for so long.

They just don't know how to work the referees the way the Republicans do.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Palin Is Still Dodging The Press

And will soon be headed home to Alaska so she can be briefed on various issues. In other words, she is going home to cram for the election, like wayward college student who have partied to much and now have to learn a semesters worth of Trig overnight.

I think this line is about perfect for the situation:

Forget whether or not Sarah Palin is ready to be president. She's not even ready to be a candidate for vice president.

But she was John McCain's choice and that says a lot about the judgment of John McCain.


Some Friday Reading

for your pleasure, click over and enjoy.

Over at The Great Elsewhere a question, is it wrong to objectify someone who tried to be objectified?

The Truthiness of Sarah Palin is the topic at Sacraments Wholesale.

Over a BadTux the Snarky Penguin, a look at the command experience of Palin, or should we say the absolute lack of experience.

Not really a post, but a great daily show clip is up at Pharyngula.

Let Sadly No introduce you to a southerner who claims that he didn't know uppity was racist. Guess what, he is a Republican.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More Stupidity From John McCain

he wants us the stop asking questions about Palin's background.

John McCain’s campaign on Wednesday angrily called for an end to questions about its review of Sarah Palin’s background, deriding a “faux media scandal designed to destroy the first female Republican nominee” for vice president.

Utter bull.

It is the job of the media, and the American public for that matter, to ask questions prior to selecting our new leadership. To publicly whine and cry about it indicates that McCain's people know that they did a crappy job looking at their selection for VP and that close examination of Palin and her past will not serve them well.

And this group want to run a nation, I would not let them run a lemonade stand.


If you don't want the pregnant unwed minor to be an issue in the race, it is probably not the best of ideas to fly the father out to the convention. The same logic applies to having them appear on stage etc.

Just a thought, since if you bring them into the playing field, they are fair game.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

McCain Wimps Out

It appears that with McCain, when the going tough he wants to hide in a corner and refuses to come out.

Now that is leadership.


So How Screwed Up Is The Palin Choice?

Lets us count the ways.

1. On her first day as a part of the ticket she was caught in a bold face lie. She claimed to have opposed the bridge to no-where, when in fact she had been working aggressively to get more federal money for it.

2. Not only did she support the bridge to no-where earmarks, she has a long history of working hard to get some of the federal goodies. She had her tiny Alaska town hire lobbyist to work the system and they were successful in sucking up over $20,000,000.00 in our tax dollars for this town's use. Not a bad rate of return for a town of 7,000 people. By the way she claims to oppose the whole idea of earmarks, lobbyist and all the rest.

3. It is become clear that Palin was not well vetted prior to her selection. She was not a top choice of John McCain, but one forced onto him by the right wing. His top choices (Liberman and Ridge) are pro-choice and were not acceptable to the religious right crowd. Only after some of these storied broke has McCain truly started to investigate Palin's background. This is not a ringing endorsement of McCain's management style.

4. Speaking of Pro-Choice, it appears that the Palin household has had to deal with this. Their recently turned 17 year old daughter is 5 months preggers. This a family issue, not a political one, except that Palin opposes comprehensive sex education (she is one of those abstinence only whacks) and this is a great example of the effectiveness of this option.

5. And in the area of other wingnut ideas. She is a creationist (I don't know if it is young earth or old earth, I suspect she has never thought about it) she is a global warming denials (I bet she is basically just anti-science) and she was a member of the Alaska Independent Party, who's two primary goals are secession for the US and an Alaska first policy s long as they are a state. (an odd choice for someone who is running with the motto nation first).


6. She is under investigation for abuse of power (in her 18 months in office, an impressive speed for embracing corruption) and has lawyered up in an effort to delay the the release of the results of the State of Alaska's review until after the election.

All this in only 5 days. Just imagine what we will learn now that we are past the holiday weekend so it is time for the reporters and investigators (and McCain's staff apparently) to start getting serious.