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October 8, 2008

Second round Pres debate /wrist

Not much to say about last night's continuation of the first debate 4 weeks ago. Each didn't really say anything, both slammed each other, each misrepresented the other's policies, plans, and stances on the issues.

The transcript is even more tortuous to read than watching the actual debate, which this time did not include a podium and had Tom Brokaw moderating. Those were the two key differences between both Presidential debates. Like I said, voters will not be able to glean anything the candidates actually say because there is just too much rhetoric; it is like being in a House of Mirrors at the carnival.

There is one thing that is becoming increasingly more apparent to me as the weeks drone on and that is the position of the Vice President. We can name a dozen VP's who were not very inspiring, articulate or even well known. The same can be said of Biden and Palin but there is something these two VP hopefuls have the other ones didn't really have a shot at- actually taking over as President.

McCain is less than a year away from hitting 70- normally not that big of a deal but McCain has had a tough life. I don't know anything about his medical history but those years in a POW camp probably caused some long term health issues.

Obama is a different story. He is young and in visibly good health but, at the risk of sounding racist, he is black. There are a lot of backwards ass rednecks that wouldn't take too kindly of a black man in charge. I'm just throwing that out there as a possibility- you can be sure that the Secret Service will have their jobs cut out for them if Obama is elected.

So who does that leave us as the next President of the U.S. during a time in our history where we are surrounded by our enemies, both inside and outside our homeland, we are in the worst financial crisis of our lifetime (and probably our parent's lifetime), and we continue to fall farther behind the rest of the world in education and social programs. Hell, even immigration has declined slightly since the financial crisis hit the news.

Americans are losing their jobs, their retirements, their homes, and their sanity. Which one of these candidates can pull it all together? Can any of them? Can any of them pull the reigns on the Wall Street jackoffs who got us into this mess and punish them?

/rhetorical questioning=OFF

Yahoo News had a pretty good round up of some of the issues that were (kind of) touched on last night. It helps when trying to weed through the actual debate. Their information came from factcheck.org

OBAMA: Said McCain's proposal to give people a tax credit in exchange for treating employers' health insurance contributions as taxable wages amounts to "what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away."

THE FACTS: Obama's suggestion that McCain's health care plan is a wash for families is misleading. McCain offers families a $5,000 tax credit to help them buy health insurance. The corresponding increase in taxable wages would result in a much smaller cost than the value of the tax credit, at least at first. Over time, the value of the tax credit may diminish as premiums rise. However, the Tax Policy Center estimates that McCain's plan would increase the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years — mainly because it would lead to less tax revenue coming in, meaning it is a true tax break overall.

___

McCAIN: Said he would provide a $5,000 refundable tax credit for families to buy health insurance "rather than mandates or fines for small businesses as Sen. Obama's plan calls for."

THE FACTS: Obama's health care plan does not impose mandates or fines on small business. He would provide small businesses with a refundable tax credit of up to 50 percent on health premiums paid on behalf of their employees. Also, large employers that do not offer meaningful coverage or contribute to the cost of coverage would be required to pay a percentage of payroll toward the costs of a public insurance plan. But small businesses would be exempt from that requirement.

___

OBAMA: "Actually I'm cutting more than I'm spending so that it will be a net spending cut."

THE FACTS: The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Obama would increase spending by $425 billion over four years and reduce spending by $144 billion for a net increase in the deficit of $281 billion. Obama has said he'll cut pork-barrel programs and the costs of the war in Iraq to pay for his programs — as well as raise taxes on the wealthy — but the specifics of his new spending plans outweigh the few spending cuts he's identified.

___

McCAIN: Said one way out of the financial crisis is to "stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us."

THE FACTS: Although he didn't spell it out, he was referring — as he has in the past — to purchases of oil from countries hostile to the U.S. The figure is inflated and misleading. The U.S. is not spending nearly that much on oil imports and roughly one-third of what it does spend goes to friendly countries such as Canada, Mexico and Britain.

___

OBAMA: Blamed some of the problem of terrorism in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region on Bush administration policy in Pakistan, saying "We can't coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he's making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants."

THE FACTS: Obama oversimplifies ex-President Pervez Musharraf's approach to making peace deals. In fact, the U.S.-backed Musharraf focused more heavily on military action, launching blistering attacks on the militants at times and negotiating peace deals with them at others. Obama also ignores the fact that Pakistan's newly elected civilian government, also U.S.-supported, is seeking the same kind of peace deals and has stepped back from heavy-handed tactics that were pursued by the Musharraf government.

___

McCAIN: Said Obama had voted for tax increases "94 times."

THE FACTS: This inflated count, heard before, includes repetitive votes as well as votes to cut taxes for the middle class while raising them on the rich. An analysis by factcheck.org found that 23 of the votes were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all, seven were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, 11 would have increased taxes on only those making more than $1 million a year.

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OBAMA: "I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us."

THE FACTS: McCain has indeed favored less regulation over the years but supported tighter rules and accountability on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years before the start of a financial crisis prompted in part by those giant mortgage underwriters. Obama was not a leader in that unsuccessful effort. Some of the current problems can be traced to legislation passed in 1999 that lifted many regulations over the financial industry. That deregulation was championed by then-Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, a McCain supporter, but also by President Clinton, who signed the legislation, and by former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, now a top Obama economic adviser.

___

MCAIN: "Oil drilling offshore now is vital so we can bridge the gap between imported oil ... and it will reduce the price of a barrel of oil. ... We've got to drill offshore and do it now."

THE FACTS: The government estimates that opening the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling "will not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030." Even then, it would only increase domestic oil production by 3 percent.

This is why we fail

WASHINGTON - Days after it got a federal bailout, American International Group Inc. spent $440,000 on a posh California retreat for its executives, complete with spa treatments, banquets and golf outings, according to lawmakers investigating the company's meltdown.

AIG sent its executives to the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy. The resort tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees, according to invoices the resort turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Yes, you read that correctly. The same assholes the government bailed out so that millions of Americans could have a chance to salvage what is left of their retirements, homes, et al just threw a Sweet 16 party- and we weren't invited.

This just reaks of one of those "Priceless" commercials. At least Obama is shaking his finger at them. That should help.

October 6, 2008

My $.02

This presidential election is going to be doozy. The whole process will drain me emotionally and intellectually until the moment the results are flung to the world this November, which is only 30 days away. I watched both debates and I have reflected on both what was said and what wasn’t said.

Obama is a great speaker; he reminds me of Bill Clinton in a lot of ways and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the same people have prepped both men. But I hold the same mistrust for both men also. I believe that the election is not going to be won by policies and attacks on the opposition’s stances but by whom the American people trust the most. Let’s face it, neither the Obama-Biden nor the McCain-Palin tickets are that impressive when it comes to combining all the elements of what a U.S. President should have. But then again, I can’t remember an election when they did.

Obama has had a tough time with the Ad Hominem fallacy of “guilt by association.” The first blow out was with, ironically, Obama’s preacher, Jeremiah Wright. Wright and Farrakhan could roll together on the “Kill Whitey” campaign train. In fact, while Obama may disagree with what these two hate mongers preach he has no problem with their continued support.

Another violent connection can be found between Obama and William Ayers, a former(?) member of a terrorist group called The Weather Underground Organization. This group claimed responsibility for several bombings in Chicago during the early 1970’s. Ayers commented that he regrets not setting off more bombs in an interview with the NY Times. Obama and Ayers worked together on a board for an anti-poverty group. Ayers is now a professor and the University of Illinois Chicago. There was a lot of commotion when it was discovered that Ayers sent a campaign contribution to Obama thereby creating one more financial tie to another scum bag. Granted it was only $200 but again, Obama had no problems accepting the contribution. Bill Dyer offers some insight into the life of this despicable man- Ayers, that is.

NYT minimizes and conceals both extent and seriousness of Obama's multi-year ties to terrorist Ayes over multi-million-dollar conspiracy to radicalize American education

Brokaw claims Ayers is now a mere "school reformer"

Tony Rezko was plunged into the spotlight at the beginning of the year, but only for a short time, before Obama damaged control rushed to the scene with their patch kits. Here is an interesting article on Rezko by the Chicago Sun-Times. I thought it was kind of funny that Hillary was the one to start the momentum for this scumbag. Then again, she is the queen of underhanded activities and what better person to flush it out than someone with first hand
experience in the area of corruption and coverup.

There are probably others but they are little fish compared to these 3. Perhaps more will surface in the upcoming months but at this point it would have to be a picture of Obama french kissing bin Laden while doing the Dance of the Flaming Asshole with the American flag to really raise my eyebrows.

It is hard for me to figure out which candidate has the better programs or plans for our future. Each has its own website that elegantly lays out just how much better off we will be by choosing the webmaster’s financier. There are even sites that juxtapose each candidate’s views in a two-column format to frustrate us even more. The sites are good for viewing the partisan views of the candidates and what they think about abortion, gay marriage, etc. but not for getting into the nitty gritty. For example, each candidate says the other voted against or for something but doesn’t get into why they cast that vote. Obama shakes his finger at McCain for “not supporting the troops” when voting against a bill geared towards education benefits for service members but it takes some research to find out why McCain did that. Additionally, both McCain and Obama share the same views on a lot of issues.

I was really hoping that the debates would be the deal clincher- that we could finally gain some insight into the views of the candidates that would break up the “Tastes Great, Less Filling” atmosphere. I was wrong. Obama gave an impressive performance and was well groomed for the debate. McCain pissed me off by not directly addressing either the moderator or Obama. There were several times McCain could have gone for the jugular but instead fell back on his autobiography. Obama spoke but didn’t really say anything. They both shit on each other’s voting history on key issues but the rebuttals left me wanting to get a refill on my glass of Chianti. But I didn’t dare leave.

The VEEP debates focused on what I had expected- “Hey, my Presidential nominee is the greatest.” Good thing for Palin, I guess, since she doesn’t sem to do very well when it comes to talking about the roles of government, world events, or addressing an issue she doesn’t know anything about. But I forgave her because she is more down to earth than Biden and her rising MILF status is nothing to sneeze at either. She didn’t do that bad, but I wanted her to stick it to Biden and Obama by actually answering the damn questions. Coming back to old topics and saying, “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also” really sounded like a cop out to me. I’m actually glad Biden called her out on the whole “We’re mavericks!” thing because, frankly, I was getting tired of hearing it. When hear maverick, I think of Tom Cruise banging Kelly McGillis in Top Gun, not candidates for an election.

Not one of the four candidates impressed me with their plan to get us out of this financial mess we are in. Pelosi has been chiming in with what she thinks is the problem- THE REPUBLICANS AND GEORGE BUSH!!! Hey, Pelosi, you have had control of everything for two years now- you can’t use the lame duck as a guinea pig anymore. Both Obama and McCain warned of the times to come, more or less, but it really was the Democrats, many years ago, who got us in this mess, with the help of a few Republicans taking kickbacks. Don’t know who Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are? No, they aren’t Hee Haw stars or comedians. Here is the lowdown via Gather.com:
The [Community Reivestment Act of 1974] bill encouraged the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as Fannie Mae, to enable mortgage companies, savings and loans, commercial banks, credit unions, and state and local housing finance agencies to lend to home buyers. It also encouraged the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly known as Freddie Mac, to buy mortgages on the secondary market and sell them as mortgage-backed securities on the open market.

Sounds good so far. But only now are we feeling the after effects of Bill Clinton, more specifically his deregulation of the industry. Fannie and Mac picked up $12 Trillion of the mortgage market. “NO credit, bad credit, illegal alien, NO PROBLEM!” Now people can’t pay their bills and the housing market is crumbling. It is definitely a buyer’s market if you can find a bank to finance you. But even the banks are scared now. I can easily count a dozen houses for sale just on the 2 block walk to my son’s school. Billy Bob may not have caused the crisis but he sure didn’t help prevent it. It is a very complicated issue, as is anything concerning that amount of money, and there are many other sites who sum it up better than I can.

The shot heard ‘round the world happened last week when the bailout plan was defeated in the House. Stocks plunged, tempers flared, and the rest of us are still wondering just what the hell is going to happen in the months ahead. The Great Depression is looking for a comeback and it very well might happen. At first, I was pissed that it was defeated. After all, the government was going to buy back the mortgages and then…. Oh wait, the government was going to get involved. That bit of info finally set in and I snapped out of my financial fever. Here is the poop on the old bail out plan via Yahoo News:
The legislation the administration promoted would have allowed the government to buy bad mortgages and other sour assets held by troubled banks and other financial institutions. Getting those debts off their books should bolster those companies' balance sheets, making them more inclined to lend and ease one of the biggest choke points in a national credit crisis. If the plan worked, the thinking went, it would help lift a major weight off the national economy, which is already sputtering.

But what the plan also did was lift the responsibility of bad decisions from the asshole institutions that got us into this mess in the first place. It essentially gave them a “Get out of jail FREE” card. The government would pick up the tab and then slip it into our pocket when we weren’t looking. American’s saw the writing on the wall and email, telephoned, telegraphed, pigeon mailed their concerns to their Congressmen and Representatives who wisely let the people win this battle. A new bail out plan was approved today but did this bill pass? Money at CNN has some info:
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters before the vote on Friday morning that three things have happened to change some Republican members' opposition to the bill since the House defeated the measure on Monday: more calls to their district offices in support of the bill; a clarification of SEC accounting rules; and the Senate additions, passed on Wednesday, including a number of tax break extenders and an increase in FDIC deposit insurance coverage.

The NY Times has an FAQ concerning the Historic Bailout Plan and its implications. It does a decent job of explaining how and why the average person who isn’t involved with swapping stocks or defaulting on a home loan are going to be affected by the bail out. It is definitely one for the history books. Here is another article written by William Grieder at The Nation.com that skillfully breaks down why Americans should be pissed off at the bail out plan and the people who got us into this mess.

I can safely say that 30 days will be longest I have ever held my breath. The tension in the weeks to come will be similar to the final scene in The Birdcage.

October 4, 2008

Karma , jackass. Karma...

13 years after murdering his ex-wife, O.J. is convicted of going totally bat shit crazy and pulling a gun on memorabilia collectors. Of course there will be an appeal and another, ad nauseum. But I think O.J. is finally headed to the big juicer to finally get what's coming to him, preferably a life sentence as someone's bitch in the state penitentiary. I guess his next book will be If I didn't do it.