Monthly Archives: September 2008

John Is Right

Republicans are trying to make something out of Obama’s gentlemanly acknowledgment that McCain made reasonable points in last night’s debate.

Which may have inspired this site. Or not. But it’s pretty fitting, nonetheless. Especially the erratic way the text moves about the page. I imagine that’s how thoughts behave inside McCain’s mind.

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Obama-McCain Debate: My Favorite Moment

Pre-empted by my son’s millionth viewing of Prisoner of Azkeban, I am just now catching up on the Obama-McCain debate being rerun on PBS. I think my favorite moment so far is McCain making an asshole out of himself insisting that a high-level talk between the President and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad legitimizes the Iranian President’s antisemitic statements against Israel. McCain not only kept beating that horse long after it was dead, he started improvising the possible dialog in an attempt to mock Obama. The look Obama shot him registered somewhere between “give me a break” and “dick.”

So what about their bone of contention, the opinion of McCain adviser Henry Kissinger on the matter of negotiating with Iran without preconditions. ABCNews has a “fact check” straight from the horse’s mouth. Kissinger does indeed favor negotiations without preconditions “at a very high level,” but clarifies that that means the secretary of state level, not the presidential level. So Obama is only half right on the specifics, but right on the spirit; McCain has the other half, but is otherwise a total douche.

And Kissinger is still a fucking war criminal.

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Bailout Bite Back

Is McCain smarter than we think?

That “we” being me and my fellow leftoids who have watched McCain’s antics with disbelief as he “suspends” his campaign, “rushes” back to Washington (well, with several stops along the way), provokes the wrathful mockery of David Letterman, and disrupts negotiations over the Wall Street bailout proposal by putting forward a Republican alternative.

So far, he seems pretty laughable. Obama got the high ground yesterday when he gently chided the “injection of presidential politics” into the negotiations without mentioning his rival by name. Tonight he will score more points no matter what. If McCain shows up for the debate he wanted to postpone, he looks like a fool; if he doesn’t, Obama gets an hour and a half of free media to hold a town hall confab with the audience, answering questions about the very crisis McCain feels is so dire. In the battle to “look Presidential”, McCain appears to be losing.

But no one likes this bailout. I saw it Wednesday at the reference desk as patrons voiced their unsolicited complaints to me, one of whom requested contact information for her Congress critters. “I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!” she said. It was a supreme test of my duty as a reference librarian to maintain an objective demeanor.

The Republican “revolt” is driven not only by free market ideology – their objections to increased government intervention in the finance and banking industries – but also by voter anger that tax payer money will be spent on crappy mortgage assets. Voter rejection of the bailout may not be universal, but it has crossed ideological boundaries, uniting Left and Right in angry rejection of saving the asses of irresponsible and fraudulent practices by a group of elites who have already benefited by tax cuts, deregulation, and previous government bailouts. Congressional Republicans – and not a few Democrats – will face unemployment this November should voter anger find expression at the ballot box.

What then do Democrats really gain from being so cosily “bipartisan” in their negotiations with BushAdmin, tweaking a Paulson plan that voters fundamentally reject? Chris Dodd and crew deserve credit for forcing serious concessions on executive pay and for insisting on an equity stake that could recoup taxpayer money spent on asset purchases when they are resold (reportedly, this worked well for Sweden in the early 90s.) Yet voters will see this is as a dollop of sugar in a bitter pill that few are convinced they should be forced to swallow.

What good then if Obama gains points for his cool demeanor when voters perceive his party has had a hand in dealing them a bag of shit? McCain’s disruptions may come to look like a principled stand for taxpayers, playing into that “maverick” image he is so fond of.

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The Wrong Bailout

As it’s entertaining to see McCain’s panicked behavior make him look more like an ass than ever, we should not forget that Senate Democrats – including the Democratic nominee for President – are letting BushAdmin fear-mongering push them into going along with this bullshit bailout, so matter how many negotiated “principles” a revised bill adheres to.

There are two fantasies at play here: first, that we have $700 billion to spend at all; second, that putting ourselves more in hock to foreign lenders should be done for the sake of salvaging a corrupt and incompetent banking and financial industry. If we’re going to put my children’s grandchildren into debt, why not spend the money on things that will serve them best in the long run? Why not bail out the health care system? The education system? The energy production system? Are there not workers who need retraining? Are there not new technologies that deserve more research and investment to push them along so that we are free from fossil fuels, more secure as a nation, and less destructive environmentally?

The panic-stricken will scream that “doing nothing” will push us into a depression. I’m not saying “do nothing.” I’m saying, do something for the long term social and economic health of the country as a whole (with dividends for the rest of the world if we get our crap together), and let the bankers, the lenders, the investors, and the other money-monkeys go marching off to their own doom. As for the depression – be realistic. This bailout will not forestall the next calamity. Ruben Bolling explains why.

In Contempt (9/25/2008): How to Deal With the Financial Crisis

How to Deal With the Financial Crisis
Click to read a cartoon that will fundamentally realign your wheels of perception.

Yay! Another Non-issue!

Props to my friend Leah for noting what a dodge this is. Head full of cold germs, my first thought when I heard CNN breathlessly report this morning (“this just in!”) John McCain’s proposal to delay his debate with Barack Obama and renounce campaigning until a bailout program is developed was, “Ah. Good strategy. Makes him look ‘presidential’ – whatever that means.”

Such is the obvious gambit. But, hey, what a way to get out of answering questions about an economy McCain fails to understand. Sure, the debate is focused on foreign policy, but a global economy facing a widespread crisis as the world’s largest consumer and debtor drowns in its own stupidity might have some bearing on how the next Prez interacts with his peers on the world stage. McCain has found a handy way to deflect criticism for last week’s gaffes and wild demands for firing the SEC chief, while putting Obama on the spot. The Bloomberg article linked above quotes a perfesser:

“The suspension does bring the ‘ready-to-lead’ issue back into focus for McCain,” said Paul Light, a public service professor at New York University. “Obama is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.”

Dana Perino helpfully chimes in:

“Bipartisan support from Senators McCain and Obama would be helpful in driving to a conclusion,” press secretary Dana Perino said.

But, hey, no pressure, “Barry”. So far, the AP reports that Obama is not, as Sarah Palin might put it, read to “blink.” If you’re thinking, “Er, isn’t this a non-issue meant to distract us from the sheer stupidity of the Paulson bailout plan,” I would chastise you for your cynicism. Really, just because neither candidate has anything more to offer than vague “principles” and is more interested in hedging their bets against either a full endorsement or a full rejection than, say, calling the Paulson bailout for the utter bullshit it is – that’s no reason assume they’re more comfortable arguing over porcine applications of lipstick. Are not presidential contests supposed to be about debate formats, the relative heights of podiums and microphones, the selection of bland moderators, and the arrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic?

Hey! Guess Who Smelled the Coffee!

Headline: McCain says economy in crisis.

Next: McCain finds ass with both hands.

Okay, snark over. I find it interesting that after so many years opposing regulation of the investment and financial communities, he is now calling for oversight of the bailout program. In fact, I think he makes a good point. But, really, where has he been? How the hell does he think we are going to afford this mess? More foreign debt? Lower taxes? Selling off lousy mortgage assets at pennies on the dollar? We have a $3 trillion war, a $5 trillion government take over of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and now another $700 billion (Paulson calls it a maximum, but I wouldn’t be surprised he is low-balling) to save the asses of the clowns who created the house of cards / shell game / Ponzi scheme / smoke and mirrors clusterfoofaraw we have been blindly calling an economy for the last mmmmmmmm 7 years? How about longer? Our government has been de-regulating everything for nearly 30 years now. Any chance we might finally recognize the folly of letting foxes guard the hen house?

(You can tell I’m upset when I start throwing metaphors around like spittle from a rabid dog. Frothy spittle.)

I am not holding my breath. Should Mr. Changey-Hopey Guy from Illinois actually overcome the white flight of Palinophiles and win this election, I doubt his answers will be much better. There is potential in his plans for an environmental technology overhaul, but how do you get that off the ground under the weight of such massive debt? When do we get the bill?

I say we’re already paying for it in the poor state of manufacturing, health care, and our social infrastructure – you know, the “hidden costs.” Yet the symbiotic relationship between American and Chinese manufacturing and lending has all the tenuousness of the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction: so long as no one is kah-razy enough to press the button, that doctrine held, we’re safe. Now we have Mutually Assured Globalization. So long as no one goes broke, we’ll keep buying and the Chinese (and other countries) will keep selling and lending. Which do you have more faith in – our instincts for self-preservation that keeps us from nuking each other; or the American capacity for consumerism? How long before the Chinese and others are forced by their own economic crises to come collecting?

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