The Talking Dog

October 31, 2008, Hope dies last

Thus sayeth Studs Terkel (one of his book titles, actually). An expression our friend Candace was fond of, as well. Studs finally shed his own mortal coil, and passed away at 96.

Studs (actually born "Louis," Studs was his adoption from the novel "Studs Lonigan") interviewed and wrote about the common and working man and woman, wherever he or she might be...

Just someone who's been around forever, who I had always assumed would be around forever. He hadn't been doing well of late, and was actually hoping to live long enough to see his fellow Chicagoan elected President. Well, he sure came close.

Deep sigh.

Comments (0)

October 30, 2008, Phillies win World Series

Phillies Logo, as if it weren't obvious

The team from the City of Brotherly Love wins its first title since 1980, and its second title ever. Which segues into... you know what!

My college classmate Barack took to the airwaves last night to demonstrate that cash = air superiority, and ran a half hour infomercial. For those of us who are quite-decided, this seemed overkill; then again, it will likely crowd the news cycle today, giving John McCain precious little time to come up with that last-minute smear (we're running out of October for October surprises). Oh, and as to Philadelphia, as I did in 2006, despite my vow never to help the feckless Dems again, its about the school spirit, so I'll be driving to a Philly suburb in Delaware County to serve as an election monitor... nothing's too much effort for Barack (notwithstanding the 4 am wakeup time to arrive by 6:30, two days after the ING New York City Marathon. I live for this kind of thing.) While Barack is ahead in polls, as of 2008, few of us trust the integrity of our elections anymore, and hence, every vote becomes critical, and efforts to get them to count, perhaps as critical.

Semper Phi!

Comments (1)

October 27, 2008, Bad year for senators called "Ted"

First it was the rather grim diagnosis for Democratic stalwart Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA) who was diagnosed with a brain tumor which will likely be terminal.

And now, we have the conviction on all counts of corruption charges of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), the longest serving Republican in the history of the Senate. Stevens made a fundamental mistake: he let his ego get in the way, and insisted on testifying in what had been a rather weak case against him until he took the stand and convicted himself. Stevens, whose personality (the word "prick" comes to mind) has been enormously helpful at bullying his way into billions of dollars in sweetheart federal porkbarrel spending for Alaska over the years, helped convince a Washington, DC jury to find him guilty of various counts of taking unreported goodies from his friends at oil and construction concern Veco.

The possibilities of what happens next are fascinating. Stevens himself will, of course, hubristically head back to Alaska to campaign. If he loses, as both divine and Earthly justice dictate he should, then former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich will assume the seat held by Stevens since 1968. If he wins, and then refuses to resign, he may well be expelled by the Senate itself, for whom being convicted of a felony is... a problem. Of course, he's also 84 years old, and actuarially, may not live out his six year term anyway... who knows?

In the event of a resignation or expulsion or there is a vacancy in his seat for any reason, his replacement would be selected by... Governor Sarah Palin. Since she's busy stabbing Sen. John McCain in the back on a regular basis anyway, she may want to consider finishing the job and suggest that she'd name herself to replace Stevens in the event he wins (and she doesn't!)... you know, if "Uncle Ted kind of has to step down... in light of that conviction and possible jail thing." Macchiavellian? You betcha! But it may be the only way the GOP holds the seat in its quest to hold off the Dems from acquiring an obstruction proof 60 seats (why the Republicans want to hold them off remains interesting; if recent history is any judge, the Dems will largely manage to stop themselves from doing anything constructive.)

Just saying.

Comments (0)

October 26, 2008, Counting Exercises

Today, IIRC, "Grama Obama" (actually, Senator Barack Obama's grandmother's name is Madelyn Dunham) turns 86 (and get well soon, Ms. Dunham!), Senator Hillary Clinton turns 61, and your talking dog turns 46.


Comments (0)

October 23, 2008, Rock Paper Billionaire

Notwithstanding overwhelming public opposition, my fair city of New York's City Council voted 29-22 in favor of amending a voter-referendum imposed law mandating term limits of two terms at the behest of the $20 billion man, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who, at around 65 years old, decided that he couldn't do anything better with his time than, well... have a third term as mayor.

And so there you have it. The same voting public that overwhelmingly opposes the change in the term limits law will almost certainly vote Mayor Bloomberg into a third term, particularly as much of the likely competition for that office will stay away in droves rather than face a popular incumbent with virtually unlimited campaign spending ability.

Like Rudy Giuliani before him who went along with the term limits law, Mayor Mike had previously opposed changing the law... but now that the reality of the law affecting him came into play, well... he got religion.

Don't get me wrong: on net, Bloomberg has been an effective mayor here, and in some ways, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Somehow, it feels wrong that the will of the voters in a direct referendum can be trashed so easily. But then, the Council members anticipated that the voters would probably "punish" many of them by electing them to third terms (also part of the amendment!)

Good old democracy in action.

Comments (3)

October 23, 2008, Mistakes were made

Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renard

Shorter Alan Greenspan: I'm shocked, just shocked to find out that in the course of unleashing the unbridled avarice of unregulated free-market capitalism, those involved would take their greed and self-interest to the point where everything else goes to hell.

Comments (0)

October 21, 2008, Who says the Show Trial Must Go On?

Clearly not Dick Cheney's "Woman in HavanaGuantanamo," convening authority Susan Crawford, who, as the official responsible for bringing show trials military commission hearings for made-up political reasons violations of the laws of war, has now decided to drop charges against five detainees (Binyam Mohammad, Noor Uthman Muhammed, Sufyiam Barhoumi, Ghassan Abdullah al Sharbi, and Jabran Said Bin al Qahtani) on the apparent basis of prosecutorial misconduct and political intervention as recently raised by former GTMO prosecutor (until he resigned) Lt. Col. Darrell Vandeveld.

Well, well, well. It was seemingly these commission hearings that were supposed to justify the whole GTMO enterprise, and yet, now it seems the Bushmen probably can't even get another one in before the election. Only two commissions have gone to completion: one involved the guilty plea of David Hicks, who is now out of jail in Australia, and the other involved a guilty verdict of Salim Hamdan, who is scheduled to be released at the end of the year (although the Bush Administration continues to insist it has the right to hold him past his sentence, everyone else in the universe be damned).

The GTMO census, of course, is well under 300 these days, perhaps even only around 250 or so, with an acknowledgement that "as many as 80" detainees "should be charged with war crimes" (seemingly an incredible shrinking number), another number, maybe 50, 60, 80, 100 or who knows, "cleared for release," whatever that means because they have been held for years and may well be held further forever, and with some remaining intermediate number as neither warranting charge nor release! But we have always been led to believe that the worst of the worst of the worst were those charged... and yet, somehow, despite getting to make up all the rules itself, the Bush Administration has yet to pull off more commissions than either Hicks or Hamdan.

BTW, let me follow up on those two men, because they are microcosms of everything wrong with the entire conduct of the "war on terror." Their attorneys Josh Dratel and Neal Katyal also happen to be the very first Guantanamo lawyers we I interviewed.

The problem with the Bush Administration's approach has been a problem with George W. Bush the man (and in this case, I use that word "man" extremely loosely). In high school, my "interscholastic sport" happened to be... math. But I played, damn it... [I made all-county my senior year, btw.] In college, my sport was rowing (albeit just for a year, and I only competed against Princeton... but still.) For Dubya, his high school and college sport was... cheerleading. And not the modern kind that's really an amazing combination of gymnastics and modern dance... no, the other kind of cheerleading. Yeah. That kind.

What this means is that Dubya, unlike his father, who played varsity baseball (instead of shouting through a megaphone about it), is and has always been concerned with the show aspect of things... why his entire governance has been about "cheerleading"..." support our troops... or else". Why the Tinkerbell theory-- if you say bad things about the President's conduct of the war in Iraq... somehow our soldiers will weaken their resolve and we will lose... and this horses*** became "conventional wisdom."

In short, we are led by morons, especially the moron in chief, albeit a moron with Ivy League degrees and a reasonably high i.q. (probably much higher than Cheney's, btw). So what. He's a moron. And so is Cheney. And so, we come to the war on terror. David Hicks. John Walker Lindh. Westerners, who did what every intelligence service in the world, including our own, was unable to ever do: walk right in to al Qaeda training camps, and get up close and personal right next to al Qaeda leadership. In short, as the "war on terror" got going, Lindh and Hicks were probably the most important intelligence assets this country had. So what did we do? Exactly: we vilified
them, and went for the easy, cheap publicity stunt of parading them in front of the world and accusing them of terrorism and treason just to show the morons back home that "we were winning" (whiile actually letting OBL and AQ leadership escape), rather than, of course, playing them as the intel assets they were. We did not make sure that we actually won the God damned war instead of just having something to make political points about. And so we invest trillions and flush our Constitution down the toilet spying on our own citizens for the razzly dazzly technological angle, when... we ignore the human angle that literally came up and hit us on the head. Is it any wonder that over seven years past 9-11, and we are not one inch closer to capturing OBL, and we are still bogged down hopelessly (and pointlessly) in both Iraq and Afghanistan?

What use intel assets as... intel assets? Noooooo... Instead, Lindh sits in a super-max going insane for 20 years, so Ashcroft could take credit for a scalp, and Hicks languished at GTMO for over 6 years, for no good reason. And as useful as those two men might have been for intel purposes, Hamdan actually cooperated. Hamdan was on OBL's personal staff (albeit as a mechanic and some time chauffeur), but could certainly provide key details of AQ. So... use him as an intel asset? Noooo... again, screw the intel value: Hamdan was just too valuable to put on trial for political points!

Fast forward to the present... at GTMO, which both candidates have promised to close down, an irrelevant Bush Administration now drops a bunch of irrelevant show trials because of not-so-irrelevant prosecutorial misconduct. And yet, hundreds still languish there (God knows how many languish in Afghanistan and elsewhere)... even as the already irrelevant Bush Administration begins to take its rightful place in the dustbin of history.

Only, as this episode demonstrates, not fast enough. Deep sigh.

Comments (2)

October 19, 2008, October surprise?

Not the kind we've come to expect, insofar as it will not help the Republicans. ... Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (who went to college with TD Mom... and from Powell's wiki bio, he appears to be from the same neighborhood and is about the same age as TD Dad) just endorsed (TD's college classmate) Barack Obama.

This comes the same day that the Obama campaign announced that September fundraising blew away all previous records and came in at over $150 million.

A huge part of this involved the early Sarah Palin post-GOP Convention momentum which excited the base of both parties... momentum eventually dissipated by the financial crisis, Palin's abysmal public interviews and the debates... but still enough fear of losing by the Dem faithful for Barack to raise enough money to dominate the "air game" going into the final fortnight of the election, just as he has been dominating the ground game, and has now, according to at least, have significant leads in just about every key battleground state, as well as in the popular vote total.

It's all coming together for Barack and the Democrats (and hence, the 99% or so of the population whose interests are not represented by the Republicans) just as our financial system seems to be coming apart. Can we get through our current economic situation with "only" a nasty recession as opposed to far worse? Will we ultimately be able to stave off the worst effects of global warming? If Barack were in charge right now, the answer would be "yes we can." With luck (something that both Barack and this country have long been blessed with) that's what's going to happen.

Stick around, as they say. Time will tell.

Comments (3)

October 18, 2008, Orwell that ends well

After its insistence on having Hitler's chauffeur OBL's motor pool mechanic and occasional driver Salim Hamdan be the defendant in the first of the show trials military commission trials for embarrassing the Bush Administration by prevailing in the Supreme Court "war crimes" (specifically, being involved in a war against the United States when George W. Bush is President), it now seems that, having failed to control even its rigged and flawed proceedings (those damned military judges and juries refuse to sully their oaths any more than they already have by participating in these travesties of justice as it is)... and now, after the military judge and jury imposed a sentence on Hamdan, that with time-served, makes him eligible for release by the end of this year, the Bush Administration now challenges the sentence handed down by its own kangaroo court!

Unsurprisingly, notwithstanding the s***storm of criticism the Bush Administration took earlier when it insisted that it could hold Mr. Hamdan beyond the end of its sentence just because it feels like it, the Bush Administration continues to insist that the laws of human decency, and of course, the laws of this country, even when it itself has made up those laws, simply don't apply to it if it doesn't want them to.

As usual, words fail me.

Comments (0)

October 17, 2008, Dog Bites Man

In a [not particularly] stunning move, the Washington Post, whose managing editor is [my college classmate] Marcus Brauchli... wait for it... endorsed [my college classmate] Barack Obama for President.

WaPo's main criticism of McCain-- who the editorial acknowledged liking and admiring-- is the inability to reconcile McCain's purported strength on national security with his choice of a running-mate who is simply unprepared to be commander in chief. WaPo also acknowledged McCain's lack of coherent economic policies, especially his newfound support of the Bush tax cuts.

WaPo's rap on Obama, of course, concerns WaPo's principal weakness and Obama's principal electoral strength, i.e., "it's the Iraq war, stupid," in which WaPo seems never to have met a pointless American intervention that needs to be ended yesterday that it didn't like. Well, no plan is perfect as they say, and, well, see above.

Did we mention that, with all the debates now completed and Obama-Biden having been perceived by all-non-Republican-partisans as having handily won them all, and on-the-not-pleasant-cusp-of-economic-catastrophe, Obama right now has opened up significant leads in national polling and in most swing states, so that WaPo is quite likely simply lining up behind the eventual winner? Just saying...

Meanwhile, at the Al Smith Dinner...

Comments (0)

October 15, 2008, Hofstra Brouhaha

Amdist a disastrous economic climate where the stock market dropped 733 points, second worst (in points) ever... in the middle we have... the the debate, stupid. The last one, at Hempstead, NY's Hofstra University. Look, boys and girls: Bob Schieffer is a Republican tool, from Texas no less, whose brother Tom is George W. Bush's ambassador to Japan (and Bob goes to ballgames with the Bush family). I would refuse to debate if Schieffer were "moderating"... period. But that's just me. Obama is doing fine anyway.

Hence, we have the debate about bulls*** issues like... negative campaigning and attempts to give gifts to McCain... and McCain keeps flubbing them and Obama is absolutely unflappable! Again, Obama looks like the calm, unflappable leader, and McCain looks like a nervous, grumpy old man... [btw... he just compared Obama to Republican Hoover, as of 21:56].

It's the economy, stupid, and McCain's "Obama is a radical tax and spend liberal"... isn't likely registering. As of 2200... the game changer for McCain hasn't arrived. A half hour to go, John. [Forget Joe the Plumber, Man. It's just not working for you.]

Now it's 22:11, and Schieffer brought up abortion (Roe v. Wade, etc., letting McCain pontificate on the issue... as I said... Republican tool... and Obama still cleaned McC's clock on it.)

On points, again, Obama comes out standing and unbloodied, and McCain looks like a nasty scrapper who kept trying to hit below the belt; for more fun, play a video of the debate and play Al Giordano's debate drinking game. Maverick.

Comments (0)

October 15, 2008, Paper trails

It seems that the CIA had written White House approval for waterboarding and some of its other torture enhanced interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists. Slowly I turn...

Comments (0)

October 13, 2008, Recovery?

Well, the first kind appears to be dramatic improvements in the stock market of over 900 points gain in the DJIA and proportionate gains elsewhere in light of concerted efforts of major nations to pour money to shore up their beleaguered financial sectors, after a number of high level meetings over the weekend, including in Washington. Maybe this will be what the doctor ordered and we've seen the "market bottom"... and maybe we haven't.

It does strike one that the current financial crisis is far more serious than the simple short-term liquidity problems that have caused the collapse or forced merger or conversion to commercial bank of every major investment bank and serious trouble for a number of the largest commercial banks (and the collapse of Iceland's financial system... so far.) For one thing, many of the most toxic of the toxic loans, including sub-prime mortgages and not-so-sub-prime mortgages will see massive balloon payments soon due or dramatic increases in interest rates as"teaser" beginning rates expire, which will probably lead to a different level of defaults, unless steps are taken to alleviate this. And amidst the mortgage woes, no one is talking about, say, auto loans, other consumer loans, or business loans, all of which banks can turn into self-fulfilling failures with pull-backs of credit (hence the government interventions right now). And we're going into a recession anyway, with increased unemployment and reduced economic output, just as a matter of the business cycle, as it is.

Don't know. One certainly hopes that things will stabilize, at least long enough for the next Administration to get a handle on them and take long term corrective measures. But events may move faster than that. Who knows? These insane 8, 9, 10% daily swings are more consistent with markets in so-called emergent economies, rather than the most heretofore staid and venerable markets in the world... here's hoping for the best. For all our sakes.

In other "recovery" news, I am recovering from yesterday's Bank of America Chicago Marathon (and the trip back). Chicago proved once again that "the windy city" may be accurate rhetorically, but not climatically, as conditions were often in the 80's, often unshaded, and involved very little wind, head or tail; I collapsed in at just over 5:41 for marathon number 21, number 3 this year, and state number 11, even after a slower than usual 2:29 first half. It seems that every time I run a marathon anywhere, it seems to be unseasonably warm. Given my propensity to personally demonstrate the existence of global warming, that'll probably be it for me... until NYC in three weeks.

Plenty of Obama signs and supporters out (against zero for McCain; no point in contesting Illinois for him, I suppose), though not as many as you'd think in Obama's hometown; I suspect that I am the only member of his college class to have run his hometown's marathon in this (his?) year, though with over 30,000 finishers... who knows?

For me, tomorrow will probably involve a little soreness, and I'll feel much better by Wednesday. For the rest of the financial sector and the economy writ large? Stick around...

And this just in: Paul Krugman wins the Nobel Prize in economics... wow.

Comments (0)

October 10, 2008, Compassionate Conservatism

As FDR was said to save capitalism from itself, it seems the Bush Administration and its Republican allies in Congress were hellbent on killing capitalism nonetheless, and so, they managed to dismantle most of the capitalism life-sustaining equipment set up by the New Deal (because it got in the way of the unbridled greed of their big business constituents)... and now, after an insane roller-coaster day that saw the first ever 1,000 point intra-day swing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the 9th straight loss day and the largest one week percentage loss ever, SecTreas Paulson, in conjunction with other world financial officials meeting in Washington, announced his intent to inject taxpayer capital into banks, i.e., a socialist style bailout of the banking system.

And at this point, since banks seem hellbent on not lending to anyone, it would seem to be the only way to unfreeze a frozen credit system, and ensure that there is economic activity beyond a strict cash basis, this would seem to be absolutely necessary. And so, a Bush Administration hellbent on "free market ideology" in all things is responsible for what will probably become the greatest nationalization of assets in the history of the world.

The fact is, years of neglecting the structural integrity of the financial system (both parties have their share of guilt, though Democrats with the junior share) have finally taken their toll... that bad moves didn't cause a crash this quarter seemed to be justification to double down the following quarter, whether it was failing to regulate derivatives and hedge funds, or injecting ever more liquidity which in turn made its way to subprime loans to prop up a housing bubble, or failing to ensure that productivity gains by workers were reflected in their wages, thereby encouraging more consumer borrowing, or government and trade deficits... all have taken their toll in a financial perfect storm.

And here we are. We're probably looking at some form of nationalization of our banking sector. And we're not even sure this will be enough to avert a global depression.

And, according to a CNN flash, Sarah Palin abused her power and violated state ethics laws in her own private "troopergate" case, as if anyone even cares about her anymore, or the McCain campaign's pathetic efforts to smear Obama with pathetic references to rehabilitated former Weather Underground members that try to hearken to the old e-mail smears that Obama is an Islamist terrorist... but immediately bring to mind McCain's far-more-troubling-connections-to-Charles-Keating (and Sarah Palin's to Alaskan separatists).

Meanwhile... the good old perfect storm Bush Administration... ultimately, not just the killer of American moral authority and public fiscal integrity and despoiler of the environment... it can now add "slayer of capitalism." The only mystery... is whether it will have (mercifully) killed off its own political party; that at least, would be compassionate.

Comments (1)

October 10, 2008, This can't be good...

NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini, an economist who has been in the news of late because he has been freaking right with just about all of his doom and gloom projections, and for the right reasons, tells us that the world is facing, in the short term not merely an inevitable and deep recession, but a possible global meltdown of the financial system and market crashes and severe global recession, following days of market panic including yesterday's over 650 point plunge in the Dow and overnight collapses of over 10% in European and Asian markets.

Every day, it seems, more and more dramatic market interventions are unleashed, and every day, the market says... not enough. The government's responses thus far continue to be reactive to rapidly moving events, and depressingly inadequate.

While the odds of an Obama Presidential victory continue to increase according to sites like ... the bigger question is, having insane Republican policies of ostensibly pretending that political decisions of running deficits of every kind imaginable pretty much all based on not compensating workers for their productivity via failing to increase the minimum wage for so long with consequences of overall wage lags leading so many people to make up the family budget shortfalls through borrowing, often home borrowing, with so many fees to be made on such borrowing leading to an aggressive predatory lending industry... and so many more fees to be made on repackaging these loans as investment products... while simultaneously allowing massive hedge fund and derivative markets to be regulated not by governments but by "themselves" for so long... does it even matter [yes, it "matters"]... but... does it matter that much if Obama wins? At this point... global financial events appear to be moving faster than our heretofore inept government responses to those events.

What should we have expected? The "response" to 9-11, or to Hurricane Katrina, or at least heretofore to the financial crisis, has been the usual Bush Administration/Republican ideological response: how can we take taxpayer money and shmear our friends, while pretending to have an actual governmental response that will fool the rubes. Well, the rubes are no longer fooled. The party is over. The severest consequences will be felt by those who have already suffered. As usual. Capitalism seems to work in the very clever way of having some of its severest crises spread around the length of a human lifetime, so that not too many people remember "the last time." The most notable exception I can think of... or is it the rule?... being that since the current American intellectual level is about that of the eight year old, in 2000, enough people couldn't remember 8 years until the last economically disastrous President Bush who actually tried to improve things from an even more irresponsible President Reagan... complete with a banking crisis resulting in a gigantic government bailout... and merrily re-installed a disaster named Bush because, we were told, "we'd rather have a beer with him" (notwithstanding that he is a recoverning alcoholic who has sworn off "having beers").

Economic and historical ignorance (and hell, ignorance in general) continue to be the Republican Party's best friend. It will pay the price of an electoral drubbing in less than a month'stime. The only solace is that those who supported (and in the current disastrous environment continue to support) that party will likely suffer as severely as the rest of us. As if that's any solace at all.

Comments (2)

October 7, 2008, Slow news day

We'll start with an issue that's been buried by other events today: a federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina of the district court in Washington, DC, ordered 17 Chinese Uighur Guantanamo detainees (detainees that the U.S. government has asserted are innocent) brought to his courtroom by Friday and released within the United States. The government, of course, is working on an emergency appeal, but God bless Judge Urbina for, after nearly 7 years, finally acting to enforce our laws... the most basic right of us all against the might of our government, that habeas corpus be afforded in a meaningful way, and that procedural dodges be overcome... such as the lack of a heretofore defined immigration status for people kidnapped by our government to the military base in Cuba. This could, we hope, be the middle of the end of Guantanamo, and the restoration of this nation to the rule of law. We're not there yet, but we can hope.

Meanwhile, the financial markets continued their downward spiral of yesterday, and the Dow Jones and other indexes all dropped an additional 5-6%, even after a radical proposed intervention by the Federal Reserve to buy up commercial paper, and even after Fed chairman Bernanke hinted at an interest rate cut. The DJIA is a round 9,500 now, the lowest level in four years; it is unclear where the present sell-off will end, or what the broader implications of these market drops and the recent bailout will be... other than that Team Bush will still be in charge for just over the next three months, no matter who wins the election.

And finally... there's that debate thing (the thrillah in Nashvillah?) The Grey Lady's Caucus Blog is live-blogging this one, so I'm not. I will just say that Obama continues to look calm and Presidential, while McCain looks and sounds ineffective while he goes on rather ineffective looking attacks. That's just me... but with polling not going his way, and continued economic unrest dominating everything... calling Barack a taxer-and-spender and a naif and a liberal... just don't look like it's going to do the job. Especially against an ever-more confident, Presidential looking Barack Obama. FWIW.

Comments (2)

October 6, 2008, Wondrous providence

Sure, the financial markets are in wild gyrations, and after being down precipitously (800 points in the Dow), ended the day at a merely very bad day down 350 in the Dow and 3-4% drops in other major markets, amidst wide fears that we are seeing what amounts to the end of days in our financial system.

And... these guys are at it again... rearing their heads into our, you know... precious bodily fluids sacred air space.

Vlad the Impaler Putin and Puff Daddy Ahmadiddy

Who will save us? Fear not, citizens...he's back, with all of his dangeralness.

Comments (2)

October 4, 2008, All is not lost

Forget the polls and the media obsession with "momentum." Forget his [inconceivably stupid] mishandling of the economic crisis. Forget his choice of a running-mate whose experience makes Barack Obama's look like Al Gore's. Forget it all. The American people will come to their senses, and John McCain will close the gap and go on to win.

Hugh Hewitt, ladies and gentlemen. He'll be here all week.

In all seriousness, when parsed of its charming left-bashing, Hewitt's point is that if, somehow, the election gets turned around to "war on terror" issues, as happened in '02 and '04, rather than "we're sick of your fearmongering" issues as happened in '06, McCain actually has a chance, as he could argue that he would be the steadier hand in handling such a national security crisis, and if there is a closing of present momentum (Obama now has a statistically significant overall lead as well as leads in a number of key battleground states), McCain may be close enough for a late charge. I would say that's not all that unreasonable a proposition, particularly as "the Bradley effect" has never been tested in a national election before either.

To be sure, we are now up to 4 October; that's 27 days left for an "October surprise," and indeed, 31 days until the election itself (not counting a number of states, including Ohio and Virginia, where the voting has already started). It's certainly possible that some kind of crisis of a military nature could occur during that time, and it could "be a game-changer." The thing is, such a potentially catastrophic event would also be weighed against it occurring simultaneously with a financial crisis that many, if not most voters attribute to Bush and the Republicans, and believe Obama-Biden may be better able to handle... and of course, while McCain (compared to Obama) may well be perceived as a "steadier hand" (despite his reckless gambling streak)... picturing Sarah Palin in a crisis might not be a comfort to many voters-- even to some of those otherwise predisposed to support her.

And so... there we have it. We go into the next (and last two) debates with things breaking Obama's way, so far, with Palin having met the shockingly low expectations set for her in her debate, and with a financial meltdown unfolding... where will this end, in this, the Greatest Election Ever? Stay tuned...

Comments (2)

October 3, 2008, Bail Mary

The "historic," "massive"... pick whatever adjective you want... to describe the over $850 billion "financial bailout" package safely passed the House of Representatives and the President signed it almost immediately. As it is, on high job loss numbers and other economic fears, the stock markets declined (the Dow down around 150 points).
For good measure, it seems, Californians who have long believed in the Tax Cut Fairy now get their appropriate comeuppance as Gov. Schwarzennegger prepares to ask the Fed for $7 billion in loans to keep the Golden State operating. Deep sighs.

Meanwhile, noted NYU economist Nouriel Roubini notes that as dramatic and ever-growing as the government's latest interventions are, they are showing diminishing returns (BTW... one must understand the insane scope of these numbers, to wit, our entire GDP-- all output from our economy for a year-- is around $14 trillion, and the entire planet's GDP is around $65 trillion), and hence, more dramatic actions, such as unlimited FDIC insurance on deposits and triage of banks into those that can be saved and those that will be consigned to just fail, must be considered.

And so... here we are. We have just committed to increase our national debt (on which we will pay interest... forever) by around 7-8% overnight, with no assurance that taxpayers will not take a bath on all of it and no assurance that it will even stop a seemingly ongoing financial meltdown.

The two questions to be asked are short term and long term. The shorter term question is whether the current government of President George W. Bush is capable of taking the necessarily competent interventions required to properly invest the taxpayer's money on offer (i.e. limit their preferred ideology of kleptomania, and buy bad loans and equity and invest and intervene where needed systemically, rather than doing only what will benefit their friends and insiders... i.e., the exact opposite of how they have handled Iraq and everything else that has been entrusted to them). The longer term question is that, assuming that whatever the short term interventions are, that they stabilize things for the next four months or so until this gets handed over to President Obama (or President McCain, though that is looking less likely by the day, particularly as enough of the electorate realizes that complex problems like global financial collapse is probably not best dealt with by "aw shucks'ing" with a pretty smile and wink)... will the appropriate regulatory reforms necessary to unwind the current crisis and prevent ongoing imbalance and crisis be put in place, including but not limited to restoration of New Deal systemic brakes, including but not limited to restoration of actual progressive taxation to ensure that those who have caused and profited from the current financial nightmare pay their fair share toward cleaning up the mess they made and profited from. And the time to ask these questions is now, while we're only still at the "early" stages of complete and total panic.

So much to do... so little time. So much faith must now be placed in people who have failed to plan for what was becoming clearer to everyone, to wit, the system was melting down. (If nothing else, the Bear Stearns collapse last May should have been the wake-up call that dramatic contingency plans were required.) Instead... here we are... again. Another major crisis that the Bush Administration not only failed to protect us from, but its narrow ideology made far, far worse. And yet... that's whose hands are on the wheel, at least until late January.

Well... maybe we'll make it through.

Comments (2)

October 2, 2008, Veep debate (cont'd)

21:40: We're up to foreign policy, now... Palin continues the incoherence on Iraq... Biden, by contrast, makes sense... I have never seen anything quite like Palin's incoherence at this level. This is truly remarkable. Palin calls Dems "you're surrendering! you're surrendering!" Biden looks so damned reasonable by comparison... I know this will be spun as a Palin win... but really...

NUCULAR? That should disqualify her as it is. Honestly. Nothing else. And now... Ahmadididjad... this is right out of McCain's last bit... does this s*** play?

Biden correctly reports that Ahmadididjad is not in control of Iran's security apparatus... come on, Joe...stop with the facts.

Ifill asks about "what to do with nuclear weapons". Short answer: keep this nasty, stupid anti-intellectual woman's finger off the button. I think that's the answer.

I have to stop again. This incoherent twit is calling someone else dangerous?

22:04: I give up. Again... he talks Darfur... she calls him a flip-flopper. It's a seasoned, principled United States Senator... against a B- high school civics student who once won a beauty contest. I give up. I just give up. If there is anyone in this country who thinks this woman is qualified for higher office and would swear that under oath, they should either be arrested for perjury or found unfit to stand trial for it.

Comments (0)

October 2, 2008, Vice-Presidential Train wreck (3X) Debate

Watching Vice-Presidential debate...

Gwen Ifill... train wreck. Sarah Palin... train wreck... Joe Biden... ok, but could be better...

21:08 : Palin says folks just need to get together and never get taken advantage of again... train wreck.

21:12: I just didn't get that tax exchange ("Barack voted to raise taxes 94 times...")

21:17: Redistribution of wealth... "millions of small businesses." Government is the problem... Barack will raise taxes (and he's BLACK!)

I'll take a break... Palin's incoherence... hurts... hurts...

Comments (0)