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Glenn Reynolds received an email yesterday that he termed “depressing.” Upon reading it, I agree with him.

The correspondent starts by identifying himself as a libertarian who supported George Bush until “Bush fatigue” set in recently. But what depressed Reynolds (and what should concern all of us) is how this gentleman would react to an Obama presidency:

This is surely small of me, but if Obama wins, I plan on giving him as much of a chance as the Democrats gave George Bush. I will gleefully forward every paranoid anti-Obama rumor that I see, along with YouTube footage of his verbal missteps. I will laugh and email heinous anti-Obama photoshop jobs, and maybe even learn photoshop myself to create some. I’ll buy anti-Obama books, and maybe even a “Not My President” t-shirt. I’m sure that the mainstream bookstores won’t carry them, but I’ll be on the lookout for anti-Obama calendars and stuff like that. I will not wish America harm, and if the country is hurt (economically, militarily, or diplomatically) I will truly mourn. But i will also take some solace that it occurred under Obama’s watch, and will find every reason to blame him personally and fan the flames.

Obama’s thuggish behavior thus far in this election cycle – squashing free speech, declaring any criticism of his policies to be “racist” (a word that happily carries little weight with sensible people these days), associating with the likes of Ayers, Wright, and ACORN - suggests that I won’t have to scrape for reasons to really viscerally dislike Obama and his administration. And even if he wins, his campaign’s “get out the vote fraud” activities are enough to provide people like me with a large degree of “plausible deniability” as to whether he is actually legitimately the president.

I’ve seen a President that I am generally-inclined to like get crapped on for eight years, and I’ve seen McCain and Palin (honorable people both, despite policy differences I may have with them) get crapped on through this election season. If the Democrats think that a President Obama is going to get some sort of honeymoon from the folks who didn’t vote for him, as a wise man once said: heh.

Civics 101 people; the guy who gets the most votes, wins.

You can talk about “voter fraud” and “stealing elections” all you want but the fact remains that if Obama is certified by the electoral college and the House of Representatives as President of the United States, that ends the discussion in our republic. There is no more important aspect of democracy than the minority accepting the will of the majority. The constitution gives the minority certain protections against getting steamrolled by the majority. But it doesn’t give the minority the right to torpedo the legitimacy of the winner.

This is more than a question of “fair play” or being a “sore loser.” The Constitution says we have only one president at a time. Given the importance of that office, it is stark raving lunacy to seek to destroy the man occupying it.

The fact that the Democrats and the left have acted like 2 year olds the last 8 years doesn’t mean that if Obama is elected we should throw the same infantile tantrums and look for ghosts in the machine – or accuse the opposition of foul play without a shred of physical proof, only the paranoid imaginings whipped up by people who knew exactly what they were doing – undermining the legitimacy of the elected leader of the United States government.

I can certainly understand the desire given voice by Reynolds correspondent. There would be something hugely satisfying in giving back to the left in spades what they have done to Bush and the Republicans for the last 8 years. But think about it for a minute. Our country is in a helluva fix – the worst since I’ve been alive and probably the worst since the eve of the great depression. The only comparable crisis in my lifetime is the one faced by Reagan when he came into office.

Reagan’s challenge was more a crisis of confidence than anything really systemically wrong. He restored that confidence. And he did it with the help of loyal, patriotic Democrats. Not just the 70 or so “Boll Weevils” who actually voted with Reagan on occasion in order to get his program through Congress. Speaker Tip O’Neil could have thrown a huge monkey wrench into the early efforts of Reagan to cut taxes and reduce spending. But he didn’t. To his eternal credit, O’Neil chose to fight for his principles while giving Reagan’s program a chance in Congress.

The two adversaries fought tooth and nail for every vote in the House (the GOP controlled the Senate at the time). The played hardball politics with a zest that seems to be missing in these days of obstructionism and spiteful rhetoric. In the end, despite O’Neil’s best efforts, he lost fair and square – a point he deliberately made in his televised call of congratulations to Reagan in the aftermath of the vote.

The very liberal O’Neil – as tough a political brawler as you’ll find anywhere – was also an American first and a Democrat second. He was a politician from the old school who accepted Reagan’s election as a matter of course. It never occurred to him to try and delegitimize the only president he had. The two men liked each other personally but despised each other’s politics. And yet, they were able to work together to bring America back from a deep, dark place that threatened our future.

This is how it should be. And whether Obama wins – if he wins – by one vote or millions shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you believe the reason he won was because the press was in the tank for him, or ACORN cheated, or McCain didn’t get a fair shake, or any other legitimate or illegitimate reason you can think of. At the very least, Barack Obama will deserve our acknowledgement that he is the legitimate elected president of the United States.

That doesn’t mean we have to slavishly follow him or join his cult like groupies. What it means is that where what he proposes to do is reasonable and doesn’t conflict with our principles, he should expect our support. It means that we don’t have to delegitimize his presidency to oppose him either. People of good will and good conscience can disagree without tearing each other and the country apart. And in this day and age, such an outcome would be unbearable.

An Obama election will mean changes – not all of them for the better. So be it. We will fight like hell against what we believe to be wrong. But we not do it by trying to delegitimize the elected president. Get personal, sure. Satirize and make fun of him, absolutely. Argue on the merits, most definitely.

But when push comes to shove and crisis erupts somewhere in the world involving American interests – and no president in recent memory has escaped such a challenge – I plan on backing my president’s play. I may give voice to skepticism about the path he chooses. This is our right and duty.

But I will not wish that he fail nor will I work to see that he does. The fact that I even have to mention this shows how foreign an idea this is to both the right and the left. The unbalanced hatred on the right directed against President Clinton was followed up by the even kookier and dangerous rage by the left against Bush. Perhaps its time for all of us to grow up a little and start acting like adults where the survival of our republic depends on the two sides not trying to eye-gouge their way to dominance.

This may not be self-evident to some of you younger readers but this was the America I grew up in and which existed until about 20 years ago. Politics was just as raucous a game then. There was no pussyfooting. It was a game played for keeps and played to the hilt. There was little love lost personally or professionally between the two sides.

But there was also a recognition that the will of the majority was, in the end, respected and granted legitimacy. This included recognizing that there was only one president and that even if we disagreed with him, that didn’t mean he was an impostor. The fact that the 2000 election was so close (and the results confirmed by a consortium of independent media who took the time to recount the Florida votes several different ways proving that Bush did indeed win the state) no doubt was frustrating for the losers. But the idea that after 8 years the left could never get over the results and indeed, showed a derangement toward the president even after a still close but decisive win in 2004 proves that it is up to us on the right to bring our politics back to a rough equilibrium so that we can work together in these perilous times.

I plan on doing just that – while still skewering my political opponents with as much zest and glee as I can muster.

By: Rick Moran at 10:23 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (347)


Barack Obama was booed at a McCain Town Hall in Waukesha, Wisconsin yesterday.

That’s right. I’m not joking. A crowd of Republicans actually had the audacity, the temerity, the gumption to show their displeasure when the name of The Messiah was uttered.

And according to this breathless, fearful account published in the Washington Post this morning, that’s not all they did:

There were shouts of “Nobama” and “Socialist” at the mention of the Democratic presidential nominee. There were boos, middle fingers turned up and thumbs turned down as a media caravan moved through the crowd Thursday for a midday town hall gathering featuring John McCain and Sarah Palin.

I weep for America. In God’s name, what are we coming to? To actually show disdain and unhappiness at the mention of The One? And what’s this about giving the finger to our friends in the press? Don’t they know that a free press is vital to our democracy? How dare they make such a vulgar display in the direction of those who toil so unselfishly in service to the republic.

Gee – you’d think the crowd believed the press was the enemy or something.

I regret to inform my readers that, in fact, there is more disturbing news to report from recent rallies featuring John McCain. Apparently, according to unnamed sources, the people attending these rallies are angry.

In recent days, a campaign that embraced the mantra of “Country First” but is flagging in the polls and scrambling for a way to close the gap as the nation’s economy slides into shambles has found itself at the center of an outpouring of raw emotion rare in a presidential race.

“There’s 26 days and people are looking at the very serious possibility that there’s a chance that Obama might get in, and they don’t like that,” said Ian Eltrich, 28, as he filed out of the crowded sports complex.

“I’m mad! I’m really mad!” another man said, taking the microphone and refusing to surrender it easily, even when McCain tried to agree with him.

I fear for this country. An ordinary citizen – a McCain supporter – is “really mad.” And what makes this even more outrageous, more frightening (if that’s possible) is that John McCain and Sarah Palin just stood there like statues and did nothing when the crowd booed Barack Obama’s name. They showed no remorse whatsoever.

I would like to digress here and thank the Washington Post for bringing this to our attention. Clearly, this is unheard of in American politics and deserves scrutiny. I mean really now, would partisans at a Democratic rally boo the very mention of George Bush’s name?

sarcasm off/ (finally)

I can’t tell you how much contempt I have for the Post and other media outlets who have been pushing this meme – that it is somehow dangerous, or racist, or indicative of something horribly ugly in the mindset of GOP supporters to show strong emotion at the mention of Obama. Not when similiar outbursts happen at Democratic rallies. Not when Democratic party partisans on the internet and elsewhere have whipped up a frenzy of hate against John McCain.

Has there ever been someone who screamed out about McCain “Kill him!” at an Obama rally? We don’t know because the idea that the press would report what one, lone, idiot shouts out at a rally of thousands is ludicrous – except if it is a McCain rally and then it becomes front page news.

And evidently, it has become verboten to even take the name of Obama in vain – his middle name, that is:

Seems like almost every day now there’s a McCain-Palin rally where the campaign has the candidates introduced by someone who hits on “Barack Hussein Obama”. Just happened again in Bethlehem, PA. After the fifth or sixth time you pretty much know on the orders of the campaign. It is obviously with tacit approval (to believe anything else is to be a dupe at this point); and quite probably on the campaign’s specific instructions.

Given the regularity of the cries of “treason” and “terrorist” and the like, and the frequency with which the screamers seem in oddly convenient proximity to the mics, we should probably be considering the possibly that these folks are campaign plants. It happens all the time. It’s just that usually they don’t scream out accusations of capital crimes.

Late Update: A thought. At what point do they start burning Obama in effigy at the Palin rallies?

“A thought” by Josh Marshall? Well, at least that’s an improvement over what we’ve seen recently from the former web journalist turned lying, hyper partisan hack. I thought that Marshall’s last electroencephalogram revealed no brain activity at all. At least this is progress.

But not much judging by his cockamamie notion that Republicans would do to Obama what Democrats and liberals have been doing to Bush for the last 8 years.


(Courtesy of Zombietime)

Perhaps Republicans could get a few tips from Democrats on the proper way to burn someone in effigy. Maybe Marshall could publish them on his website.

As for taking the middle name of our Lord in vain, I would simply say that those who are inclined to believe the idiocy that Obama is a Muslim will not be swayed by anything John McCain would say. Or Sarah Palin for that matter. The idea that speaking Obama’s middle name is in and of itself racist or bigoted presupposes that making the charge gives the accuser insight into another’s soul – nice job if you can get it but something that liberals do on a regular basis so they have a lot of practice. All liberals are mind readers and psychics.

The question is it done deliberately in order to inspire feelings of fear and revulsion against Obama I would have to answer almost certainly yes. But this is a political campaign not a society ball. Raising the specter of fear if McCain is elected is part and parcel of the Obama campaign as well. It’s how elections have been conducted since Jeffersonians warned the re-election of Adams would lead to the establishment of a monarchy.

Denying this singular fact of life in political campaigns only shows liberals to be naive and ignorant. For 4 years, the left has been screaming at their own candidates to get tough on Republicans. Well congratulations, you’ve found your man in Obama. Schooled as he was in the rough and tumble, corrupt Machine politics of Chicago where you don’t defeat your opponent, you bury them, Obama needs little urging to hint at McCain’s advanced years, mock his war injuries, bring up past questionable associations, level charges of personal malfeasance – all the while piously insisting that he is staying above the fray. That kind of hypocrisy is enabled by his partisans and syncophants in the party and the press who never seem to find the time, the space, or the guts to call Obama out for his descent into the politics of personal destruction.

So get over it and get on with it.

Speaking of getting on with it, many of us were wondering when the race card, heretofore used only sparingly would become more prominently used by the Obama campaign.

We needn’t have wondered:

As the McCain campaign ratchets up the intensity of its attacks on Barack Obama, some black elected officials are calling the tactics desperate, unseemly and racist.

“They are trying to throw out these codes,” said Representative Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.

“He’s ‘not one of us?’” Mr. Meeks said, referring to a comment Sarah Palin made at a campaign rally on Oct. 6 in Florida. “That’s racial. That’s fear. They know they can’t win on the issues, so the last resort they have is race and fear.”

“Racism is alive and well in this country, and McCain and Palin are trying to appeal to that and it’s unfortunate,” said Representative Ed Towns, also from New York.

In recent days, as polls have shown a steady lead for the Democratic ticket, Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin have used reports of Mr. Obama’s loose association with Bill Ayers, a former member of the ’60s radical group the Weather Underground, as evidence that he is different from them.

“Our opponent,” Ms. Palin told donors in Englewood, Colo., “is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”

She added, “This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” she said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

An Associated Press analysis characterized those remarks as “unsubstantiated” and carrying “a racially tinged subtext.”

Actually, if we are to believe Obama, he too sees America as a “force for good” in the world. The question asked is can we take him at his word? Given his numerous, unbelievable prevarications involving people who don’t see America as a force for good in the world – Ayers, Wright, Meeks to a name a few – it is eminently practical and logical to ask if he is telling the truth when he says it. This goes to the heart of the reason his associations with radicals is so problematic. We all have friends and associates we disagree with on politics. But the level of hatred of America espoused by people like Wright and Ayers begs the question of why Obama has had such long term associations with these nutcases.

I have answered that question to my own satisfaction – Obama does indeed love America and he is not a radical in the sense that he shares most of the views of Ayers-Wright. But is it legitimate to ask if Obama’s idea of America is the same as mine and most Americans? This is a perfectly reasonable question to be answered by each of us individually based on what we see and hear from each candidate.

It is not racist to ask this question nor is it a personal attack. We are about to elect a president who is going to take charge amidst economic carnage the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Depression. It would be immensely helpful if voters had a good sense of what kind of America each man would like to see emerge from the wreckage. We will be a different country, of that I have no doubt. My own concerns center on whether the next president will seek to save the free market or throw it out with the rest of the bad paper that must have its way with us economically before an upturn in our fortunes can begin.

So how each candidate sees America is vitally important. And by playing the race card, the Obama campaign only causes us to ask more questions along those lines. I can’t believe people will be shamed into voting for our next president – not with what’s at stake. I can’t imagine voters being fearful of being called racist for failing to vote for Obama – a fear deliberately fostered by Obama playing the race card. In our current situation, it is understandable why Obama would do so, the race card being an extremely potent weapon. But will it play with the voter? I would hope that the voter has other criteria by which to judge the candidates.

“Angry” GOP crowds notwithstanding, all Americans are upset and fearful of the future. It is a fact of life that politicians would seek to capitalize on this fear. Both sides are trying to do it and both have done it in the past. Many voters no doubt will give in to this fear. Perhaps many more will not and it is among those voters that the election will be decided.


My boss, Tom Lifson,  at American Thinker writes about proof that there are Democratic plants at McCain rallies holding signs and shouting stuff about Obama.

And I just watched the video of the guy getting up and saying he was “mad – really mad” and let me tell you something friends. Any rational, objective observer watching the crowd in that video would violently disagree that they were an “angry mob.”

This is really pathetic. Transparent and stupid. And we have got to make sure that the American people don’t fall for it.

By: Rick Moran at 8:08 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (47)

The Anchoress linked with ACORN, Media & the Angry Right...
Sierra Faith linked with Hypocrites of the Left Laughing...

The McCain campaign is perplexed, bothered, and bewildered of late. Despite Barack Obama’s past associations with radical bombers, nauseating racial bigots, and anti-semitic Palestinians, the media doesn’t seem to want to expose the extent of those relationships nor ask tough questions as to how the views of these extremists might have shaped or impacted his own.

We can – and in many cases we should – chalk this up to a shameless bias on the part of the media toward Barack Obama and the Democrats. But something much simpler is at work, something that makes any attack on Obama by McCain using his radical associations as a backdrop to question his judgement an exercise in futility.

The voters don’t care.

America did not invent the fine old custom of tar and feathering crooked, lying, corrupt charlatans and riding them out of town on a rail (the English have been doing it for 800 years). But the mood of the American voter is so outraged at the financial crisis we are in that if I were a Congressman campaigning at home, I’d steer clear of pillow and asphalt factories for a while.

The fact is, the economy is of such overriding concern, all else in the campaign pales in comparison. The voter simply doesn’t want to hear about Ayers, Wright, Rezko or any other problematic Obama friendship. Nor, I suspect, are they keen to relive the Keating 5 fiasco or read about any other manufactured McCain association by the press.

This piece this morning by Peter Yost of the AP is a stretch – a laughably ridiculous attempt to equate John McCain’s tangential relationship to a group that later assisted in training El Salvadoran death squads with Obama’s close, personal, association with William Ayers. Yost is sticking out his tongue and saying “neener, neener, neener,” hoping that the reader will nod their head and say “By Jiminy! McCain hung around with terrorists too!”

The problem is, Yost destroys his own case in the body of the piece:

The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

The council’s founder, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, said McCain became associated with the organization in the early 1980s as McCain was launching his political career in Arizona. Singlaub said McCain was a supporter but not an active member in the group.

“McCain was a new guy on the block learning the ropes,” Singlaub told The Associated Press in an interview. “I think I met him in the Washington area when he was just a new congressman. We had McCain on the board to make him feel like he wasn’t left out. It looks good to have names on a letterhead who are well-known and appreciated.

“I don’t recall talking to McCain at all on the work of the group,” Singlaub said.

McCain says he resigned from the group in 1984 and asked to have his name removed from the letterhead in 1986. Singlaub also had this to say about McCain’s “involvement:”
“I don’t ever remember hearing about his resigning, but I really wasn’t worried about that part of our activities, a housekeeping thing,” said Singlaub. “If he didn’t want to be on the board that’s OK. It wasn’t as if he had been active participant and we were going to miss his help. He had no active interest. He certainly supported us.”

Compare McCain’s “involvement” with these nuts to Obama’s working relationship with Ayers, their friendship going back 20 years, and Obama’s clear desire to implement the radical educational agenda of Ayers when he was president of the Annenberg project. There is absolutely no symmetry here – none. And yet Yost, being a good little AP hack, tries to create some out of whole cloth.

But this is a digression from the reality of what is going on in America – the America not visited much by candidates and certainly not commented on by anyone in the mainstream media.

The America of ordinary, hard working people is fearful. And why shouldn’t they be? If they’re like me – barely able to grasp what the hell is going on in the financial markets – they nevertheless know that it is unprecedented and that some very smart people are extremely worried. When 60% of us believe we are headed for a 1930’s style depression, catcalls from candidates about who their friends might be simply doesn’t resonate. People have much bigger worries on their minds.

Admittedly, there are precious few of these “wise men” who are warning of a worldwide depression. A severe downturn, yes. Perhaps even an altering of the international financial system that would not be favorable to the United States. But soup lines and massive deflation are not currently foreseeable – not as long as the Fed is able to pump hundreds of billions of dollars at will into the banking system in order to keep it afloat until some semblance of confidence and order return to the markets.

How long can that go on? From Richard Fernandez’s site, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writing in the Telegraph:

During the past week, we have tipped over the edge, into the middle of the abyss. Systemic collapse is in full train. The Netherlands has just rushed through a second, more sweeping nationalisation of Fortis. Ireland and Greece have had to rescue all their banks. Iceland is facing an Argentine denouement. The US commercial paper market is closed. It shrank $95bn last week, and has lost $208bn in three weeks. The interbank lending market has seized up. There are almost no bids. It is a ghost market. Healthy companies cannot roll over debt. Some will have to sack staff today to stave off default. As the unflappable Warren Buffett puts it, the credit freeze is “sucking blood” out of the economy. “In my adult lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people as fearful,” he said. We are fast approaching the point of no return. The only way out of this calamitous descent is “shock and awe” on a global scale, and even that may not be enough.

In the first full trading day following the bailout, stocks lost 370 points. Yes, there are alarmists out there (Paul Krugman, please go on a nice, long vacation. I hear Bellvue has some padded rooms with wonderful views.). But when Warren Buffet gets nervous, the American people who are fearful don’t appear quite so stupid and naive, now do they?

The bottom line is that attacks on character are being ignored at the moment by the voter. All they want to hear is what each candidate will do to protect them from this financial storm that is sinking so many huge and seemingly indestructible companies. The thinking goes, “If Lehman Brothers can go under, am I next?” In a free country, people have a very proprietary sense of their own money and how safe it is.

They don’t have to be told things could get a lot worse. They sense it, as a deer might sense a wolf nearby. It can’t smell the wolf but it senses danger nevertheless. Voters may not entirely understand the ins and outs of international finance, but they sense their money, their livelihoods are in peril.Hence, all other issues of the campaign – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran, education, abortion, gun rights – the whole mish mash of topics that have been fought over and discussed in this campaign now take a seat at the back of the bus as the voter wants his questions answered on the economy.

Hugh Hewitt seems optimistic that if McCain can keep hammering Obama on Ayers while showing the voters how disasterous an Obama presidency would be for the economy, he might still pull it out:

As more details emerge on the Obama-Ayers connection (here’s a short story  from 1997 on Ayers that features both Obamas and which suggests that Michelle Obama organized the program that featured both Ayers and her husband), the Obama talking heads are hysterical with outrage, which is a clear signal to Team McCain to keep digging and swinging on the subject of Obama’s judgement. Just who, after all, does he intend to staff the 3,000 executive branch jobs with?  Who will be at Defense and Justice and Treasury and State?. 

The message also has to be targeted at the reality that the dizzying declines in the markets cannot be arrested and reversed with tax hikes and unemployment benefit extensions.  Even as people shudder at the rapid decline in their savings and retirement accounts, they have to be trusted to know that anti-growth polices of the sort being pushed by Obama will simply drive business, jobs and growth overseas.  A tax hike agenda of the sort pushed by Obama right now is economic suicide, and John McCain has to forcefully say so.

If raising taxes and extending unemployment is what it is going to take to keep voter’s money safe, they would be willing to vote for the devil himself. Obama might not have good ideas on what to do about the crisis. But that isn’t the point. It comes down to who the voters believe. And the sad fact is John McCain, as a member of the party in power in the White House, has about as much credibility on the economy as my pet cat Snowball.  

I wish it were otherwise. The more we find out about Obama’s relationship with Ayers the more I am troubled. Even more troubling has been a systematic campaign by Obama and his handlers to minimize and even lie about this relationship at every turn. Despite yeoman work done by David Freddoso and Stanley Kurtz of The National Review on how Obama helped Ayers try and implement some frighteningly radical educational ideas on the unsuspecting parents and schoolchildren of Chicago, it appears that it will all go for naught. The voter sees the effort by the McCain campaign to attack Obama on his radical associations as “just playing politics.”

And that is something they don’t want to see. They are hopping mad and scared. That’s a combination that Obama is having little trouble exploiting to his own advantage.

By: Rick Moran at 6:46 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (83)


I used to think that the United States was basically indestructible, that our constitution, the uncommon common sense of our people, a bountiful land, and a respect for our history and traditions could see us through any crisis.

Does that still hold true?

I believe these truths are immutable. But there is one very important additional truth that, when removed from the equation, causes the entire edifice to come crashing down in rack and ruin, a testament to the folly and failure of our politics and politicians.

I am talking about faith: Faith in government, faith in our leaders, faith in our institutions, and most of all, faith in ourselves and our talent for self government – the ability for us to decide what is best for our country and our families.

It is the faith of our fathers, and their fathers before them, and their fathers and grandfathers who bequeathed us a nation based on this simple, uncomplicated faith. Without it, there is no trust. And faith, like trust, once lost is a hard commodity to regain

I recall on 9/11, there was a time that it was unclear the extent of the attack, especially after the Pentagon was hit. I am not over dramatizing when I say that I believe everyone in America wondered who was next? What else could happen? The absolute worst scenarios went through my mind as I’m sure it did for most of you. And I remember thinking for just a second or two, “Is this the end of America?” But I immediately dismissed such a preposterous notion. America was a rock, a force of nature. You couldn’t destroy it. Knock a few buildings down, sure. But the almost childlike belief in our ability to overcome anything and emerge triumphant was a powerful tonic that worked its magic on the American psyche and gave us the will to pull together for the good of all.

In that crisis, we had faith to spare. Forgotten was the recent election and its gut rending divisiveness as we came together as one people in the face of tragedy and crisis. It was inspiring. It was elevating.

It was an illusion.

In truth, our unity after 9/11 was a mirage, a temporary respite from the culture wars, the political wars, the ideological wars – the war for the soul of America. The natural equilibrium of political combat to the death reasserted itself within a matter of weeks and any sense of togetherness we felt was extinguished in a flood of partisan poison. And you can draw a straight line from the post 9/11 falling out to our current crisis where what ails us as a nation has only been exacerbated by war and crisis.

I blame Bush. And the Democrats. And the liberals. And the conservatives. And I blame us for enabling the catastrophe, where it becomes easy to lose faith, trust, and even hope – hope that there was a way through this morass of hate and distrust so that we could emerge on a far distant shore, free of the infection that has sickened the body politic of America to the point that now, we teeter on the edge of a precipice, looking down into the blackness of an unknowable, unknowing future.

The internet is at fault. So is talk radio. So is the liberal/conservative/lazy media. So is the consolidation of information sources. So am I.

Am I taking the easy out? A typical Moran “a pox on both your houses” screed? Examine your consciences and you tell me where it’s all Bush’s fault or all the Democrats fault. Or where conservatives or liberals are blameless. Or even where one party or another is “more” at fault – as if you can place catastrophe on a scale and weigh it out, carefully loading one side or the other with rancor, bitterness, lies, exaggerations, political gamesmanship, and cynicism thus hoping to determine the “real” culprit of our current predicament.

That kind of stupidity is silly and self defeating. And it only reveals that those who try it are part of the problem, not the solution.

We are not in an economic crisis. We are in a crisis of faith. We have lost what has been handed down to us, generation after generation going all the way back to the founding, passing on the secret of America’s uniqueness, its “exceptionalism,” as if it were a holy relic of the Catholic church lovingly preserved and cared for by parishioners for all time.

We – all of us – have failed to do the things necessary to maintain this faith. We have been careless and stupid in choosing our leaders. We have been lax in holding them accountable. We have not paid attention to what they were doing – here or abroad – and we have failed to demand that the government lift the veil of secrecy on too many enterprises. We have failed to hold ourselves accountable for our actions. We have failed to take responsibility for our own mistakes. We have abandoned self reliance, family and community values, respect for our political opponents, and the American idea that neighbor helping neighbor is far preferable to asking government to do it for us.

High ideals and standards to live up to, yes. And our forefathers were not always successful themselves in adhering to principle and acting for the greater good. But the difference between them and us is that they had faith that the wisdom and basic common decency of the American people would emerge and carry us through times of crisis relatively unscathed and still one nation. They counted on a rough unity of the people – that we all had basically the same idea of what America was and where it should be going. How to get there was the basis of our political battles – and believe me, they were as rough and tumble as any of the political donnybrooks we have had in recent memory.

It is not our politics that divides us. Nor does ideology tear us apart. These are but symptoms of the disease that afflicts us. Our problem is that we have lost faith in the idea that we can dream common dreams – American dreams – and give ourselves a common point of reference where we all agree what, at bottom, America is and where it should be going.

With this loss of faith has come an overpowering fear that prevents us from trusting others and ourselves. With no trust in one another – in our intentions or good will – we lose faith in our ability to solve our problems together and we get what we saw yesterday on Capitol Hill; a complete and utter failure of our leadership to deal with the crisis at hand, preferring to score cheap political points at the expense of the other rather than work together to avoid a probable calamity.

There was a point in the Cuban Missile Crisis (as dramatized in the movie Thirteen Days, based on Robert Kennedy’s book of the same name) where the Commander in Chief of the Strategic Air Command, General Curtis LeMay looks at President Kennedy and says, “You’re in a helluva fix, Mr. President.” Kennedy turned to the World War II hero and said, “In case you haven’t noticed, you’re in it with me.”

Each side is pointing at the other and, in effect, telling them they are in one helluva fix and then explaining why one side or the other is the real culprit at fault in this mess and it is up to them to deal with the crisis. Not enough Republicans supported the bailout or Pelosi was too partisan, or the Democrats wanted to embarrass McCain or the Republicans just don’t care and wish to see a catastrophe just as long as the free market triumphs.

None of it is true. The real issue is trust and the impossibility of achieving it because we have all lost faith in each other and ourselves. And the scary part is, no one in America knows how to fix what’s broken and bring us back to sanity.


On thing I really hate about politics is what it does to me sometimes. The bilious nature of the attacks by both candidates, the exaggeration and deliberate ginning up of outrage by partisans, and in this race, the relative weakness of both candidates in the midst of war and economic crisis turns me even more pessimistic than usual.

I fear for the United States not because either candidate would destroy it but because both candidates appear to me incapable of doing the things necessary to save it.

Save it from becoming a second rate power adrift in a world that has been salivating at the chance to take us down. And I’m not only talking of al-Qaeda here. Since the end of the cold war, it has become apparent that most of the big economies in the world have been working to create a counterweight to the United States or even surpass the US in economic influence. The European Union – socialist policies and all – has nevertheless been able to grow enough that it now rivals us in GDP.

In some respects, you have to see the situation from the European’s point of view. They are at the mercy of the US economy in many ways. Globalization has internationalized markets for everything from credit derivatives to tractors. And standing atop the heap has been the United States with the dollar generally recognized as the currency of choice while trading on Wall Street and the commodity markets sets the price for all kinds of financial instruments.

As big as the EU has become, the input they have into this system has not been commensurate with what they feel they are owed. Hence, while there probably isn’t much rejoicing going on about the crisis on Wall Street, I suspect there is a sense of satisfaction that we are getting our comeuppance and being brought down a little closer to their level.

This schadenfreude was also present in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I have sought unsuccessfully to make a dent in the dominant narrative after 9/11 that the “world was with us” following those attacks. John Rosenthal writing in the Wall Street Journal on October 17, 2004 demolishes that myth by showing how the famous Le Monde editorial “We are All Americans,” written by the left wing publisher Jean-Marie Colombani of that newspaper was not a paean to solidarity but rather an anti-American screed that blamed US government policies for the attacks.

Mr. Rosenthal:

Since attention was first called to it in the Times, the title of Mr. Colombani’s post-9/11 editorial has been widely cited in the rest of the American media and on the Internet. Its content, however, has been largely ignored. (The only exceptions of which I am aware are an op-ed I published in Newsday on Sept. 27, 2002, and several articles published by Fouad Ajami the following year.) Thus are legends born. For the solidarity ostentatiously displayed in the title of Mr. Colombani’s editorial is in fact massively belied by the details of the text itself.

By the fifth paragraph, Mr. Colombani is offering his general reflections on the geo-political conditions he supposes provoked the attacks:

The reality is surely that of a world without a counterbalance, physically destabilized and thus dangerous in the absence of a multipolar equilibrium. And America, in the solitude of its power, of its hyperpower, . . . has ceased to draw the peoples of the globe to it; or, more exactly, in certain parts of the globe, it seems no longer to attract anything but hatred. . . . And perhaps even we ourselves in Europe, from the Gulf War to the use of F16s against Palestinians by the Israeli Army, have underestimated the hatred which, from the outskirts of Jakarta to those of Durban, by way of the rejoicing crowds of Nablus and of Cairo, is focused on the United States.

The last sentence is grammatically no more coherent in the French original than in English. But it amounted to the first, albeit awkward, suggestion in the French press that America had perhaps merely got what it had coming. In the following paragraph, Mr. Colombani went on to add that perhaps too “the reality” was that America had been “trapped by its own cynicism,” noting that Osama bin Laden himself had, after all, been “trained by the CIA”—a never substantiated charge that has, of course, in the meanwhile become chapter and verse for the blame-America-firsters. “Couldn’t it be, then,” Mr. Colombani concluded, “that America gave birth to this devil?”

Then there was the famous incident in Great Britain when the BBC show Question Time was aired in the days following 9/11 and the American Ambassador was brought to tears by an audience who booed him when he tried to defend the US against their attacks. There too, the Ward Churchill/Jeremiah Wright suggestions that our “chickens came home to roost” on 9/11 was the dominant feeling – and not just in the audience. William Shawcross found similar feelings among ordinary Brits wherever he went that week.

Obviously, Mr. Bush, taking office just 9 months earlier, had not been given a lot of time to become hated so something else must have been at work. Gee…do you think that maybe a very large segment of the world was not “with us” following 9/11 after all and, in fact, celebrated this hit against our pride and prestige?

Not if you listen to Democrats. The point being, that this financial crisis is one more indication that there are those who do not wish us well – even among our friends – and that there will now be a concerted efforts by our rivals to kick us while we’re down. In my opinion, neither John McCain or Barack Obama is capable of dealing with this situation. Obama could very well end up grovelling and apologizing to most of the planet while McCain ends up bombing the crap out of Iran and isolating us further.

On the domestic front, does anyone seriously believe either candidate can “reach across the aisle” and heal the gaping wounds that we inflict upon each other? The Democrats will be angry and frustrated if Obama loses to the point that they will be as obstructionist as the Republicans were during the Clinton years – perhaps even more so given their unhinged base that will demand everything from War Crimes Trials to a whole slew of investigations into Bush era crimes, real and imagined. A President McCain would have his hand cut off if he tried anything approaching bi-partisan consensus building.

And President Obama? What reason would he have to “reach across the aisle” when he would have such solid majorities in both houses of Congress? The man has never – repeat never – reached across the aisle for anything in his short, unproductive senate career. Why should he change when he will hold all the legislative cards?

Meanwhile, defense spending will almost certainly have to be cut by either man thanks to eye-popping budget deficits down the road that could approach half a trillion dollars a year. We will probably have to say goodbye to missile defense, the new generation fighter (or at least a dramatic slowdown in production), and say hello to a Rumsfeldian force reduction and the decommissioning of any number of carrier battle groups. In short, our ability to project our power will be diminished and our military will be generally weaker all around.

Put this all together and you have the US under siege abroad and disunited and weak at home. An economy in the toilet for the foreseeable future no matter who wins with tighter credit, less investment, and fewer jobs being created. And a continuation of partisan gridlock in government.

Can anyone honestly say either man is up to the job ahead? What I have just outlined is not just my native pessimism coming to the fore but rather some cold, hard, projections from leading economists. Can they be wrong? I suppose so. The future is never set in stone and I guess there’s a chance that increasing or lowering taxes, increasing or cutting spending, apologizing to the world for our “sins” and meekly accepting a lead role for the UN might avoid a downturn in our fortunes here and abroad.

But I’m doubting it. The forces of history that are driving the Chinese miracle, the Islamic fundamentalist revolution, the ascension of Europe to a position of near equality with us, the leftward lurch in Latin America and other massive changes in our world wait for no country. You either deal with the changing world or you watch as the panorama slides by, waking up a decade later wondering “What happened?” Right now, these forces of history are working against the United States. Can we adapt and make the right decisions that will keep us strong, safe, and pre-eminent in so many things?

If you are honest with yourself, you will agree that neither John McCain or Barack Obama have the ideas, the courage, or the foresight to bring us through to the other side of this epoch safely and still the dominant military and economic power on the planet.

By: Rick Moran at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21)


“May you be cursed to live in interesting times.”
(Not an old Chinese Proverb)

Negotiations to bail out Wall Street, dead beat homeowners, school loan scofflaws credit card scammers, ACORN, and others who have lined up outside the doors of Democratic lawmakers with their hands out wanting a piece of that $700 billion in free money appear to be stalled at the moment. Apparently, House Republicans are balking at the prospect of a large chunk of our free market economy being taken over by the government and are exploring alternatives.

If such action is necessary to keep us from sliding into a depression with a financial implosion this country may never fully recover from, then I am one of those conservatives who would reluctantly sign on to the Paulson plan – even with its goodies for left wing special interest groups and bailouts unrelated to the credit crunch on Wall Street.

But the more I read about this plan, the more I’m convinced that something akin to the 1982 tax cut bill is being acted out on Capitol Hill with everyone and their cockeyed uncle getting in line for a piece of the bailout pie. It is the time honored practice of log rolling – legislators loading up a bill with unnecessary and unrelated provisions supported by this powerful member or that one, done so that support for the overall measure can be gained. The smell of free money is loose in the land and the sharks are in a feeding frenzy.

Even with all of that, I’d be willing to embrace the bill – if there is no viable alternative. At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be one. Holding up the bailout are conservative Republicans in the House who, even if they come up with something, will never get Pelosi and Reid to go along with it. In that sense, their efforts are a waste of time. The Bush Administration has caved on just about all of the Democrat’s demands to make this a “comprehensive” (read “Christmas Tree”) bailout bill. And the liberals are not about to give up the goodies they have fought for to help their various constituencies. Hence, the best the free market conservatives can hope for is to make a statement for the historical record that somebody stood up for liberty when the rest embraced dependency.

Overly dramatic? Not by much. No, we are not “nationalizing” Wall Street nor is America going to become a socialist country overnight. But to say nothing fundamental is going to change in America as a result of this massive intrusion by the federal government in the financial markets is equally wrong. We will come to rue this day, of this I am sure.

Here is a smattering of responses to three questions from “free market” economists that Reason’s blog Hit and Run asked: How bad is the current market situation?; how bad are the current proposed bailout plans?; and what’s the one thing we should be doing that we’re not?

How bad is the market? Bryan Caplan is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University:

To be honest, I’m not too sure. While we’re blaming banks and investors for their “herd behavior,” we should remember that politicians and the media often run with the herd, too. When the dust settles, I suspect we’ll realize that conditions weren’t as bad as people assumed—or at least they weren’t until we tried to fix them.

Same question to Robert E. Wright, clinical associate professor of economics at New York University:
The current situation is potentially dire. The comparison with 1932-33 is sobering: An unpopular Republican president is in office, the financial system is a mess, and an important election looms, yet many fear what the articulate Democratic candidate might do if elected. We won’t have to wait until March to find out this time around. But given how fast the world moves these days, late January will seem an eternity away. The payments system broke down last time (March 1933), necessitating a bank “holiday,” a moving speech (“the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”), and creation of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Breakdown of the payments system today would stagger the economy

Next question. How bad are the current bailout plans? This from Jeffrey A. Miron, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard:
The bailout is a terrible idea. It transfers a huge amount of wealth to people who do not deserve it. It will generate enormous incentives for creative bookkeeping as the investment houses and banks try to rid themselves of any assets they do not want. The bailout fails to eliminate the crucial policies that contributed to and caused the current situation, such as the Community Reinvestment Act, the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and so on. Last but hardly least, the bailout sets a terrible precedent: If you take huge risks and become too big to fail, the government will bail you out.

Finally, what should we be doing? This from Fredric Sautet, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University:
Getting out of the mess is not going to be easy. Once the perverse incentives are in the system, it’s hard to go back. Bailing out is very bad and in the long run is worse than bankruptcy. It is not a coincidence that Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and is now bailing out his friends. The problem is that bankers should be punished for their careless, stupid investments (JP Morgan, for instance, has $8.1 trillion in credit derivatives on its books), but since it was largely driven by the government’s loose monetary policy and regulation, bankers are not the only ones responsible. Clearly letting the banks fail in the short run would have bad consequences for many households in the U.S. (and elsewhere). The problem is that the government does not have the incentives to intervene just for a short time. Once the banks are nationalized, it may take a while before the government leaves the place. Ultimately, this situation calls for radical policy solutions: The return to the gold standard and the abolition of central banks.

What is truly frightening to me is that no one really knows how bad things are now. Nor does anyone have a clue whether this bailout plan will work or make things worse. And to top it off, there is a growing belief among some economists that we are in a world of hurt and the probability of not a slowdown but an actual contraction of the economy looms large.

Yves Smith of the blog Naked Capitalism (writing in the same Reason Magazine article) points to a 2007 study done by Harvard University’s Kenneth Rogoff and the University of Maryland’s Carmen Reinhart who analyzed similar market conditions that led to contractions in other countries. This is long but worth reading in its entirety:

This credit crisis has already led to the biggest 12-month fall in household wealth in U.S. history, including during the Great Depression. It has not yet had a commensurate impact on economic growth because our foreign creditors provided what economist Brad Setser called “the quiet bailout,” lending to us to the tune of roughly $1,000 per man, woman, and child. But it would be a mistake to expect this largesse to continue, at least at such favorable interest rates.

As Harvard University’s Kenneth Rogoff and the University of Maryland’s Carmen Reinhart found in their analysis of financial crises, every country that experienced a housing/bank crisis of the magnitude of the one we are in has suffered a marked fall in GDP. As they noted in their paper “Is the 2007 U.S. Sub-Prime Financial Crisis So Different? An International Historical Comparison”:

At this juncture, the book is still open on the how the current dislocations in the United States will play out. The precedent found in the aftermath of other episodes suggests that the strains can be quite severe, depending especially on the initial degree of trauma to the financial system (and to some extent, the policy response). The average drop in (real per capita) output growth is over 2 percent, and it typically takes two years to return to trend. For the five most catastrophic cases (which include episodes in Finland, Japan, Norway, Spain and Sweden), the drop in annual output growth from peak to trough is over 5 percent, and growth remained well below pre-crisis trend even after three years.

Note that their study shows the U.S. to be on a trajectory considerably worse than the average of the five worst cases, suggesting our fall in growth will be at least as severe. And no public official in the U.S. is willing to tell the public that no matter how this crisis plays out, we will suffer a fall in our standard of living.

Contraction, deflation, high unemployment, the disappearance of entire industries, a budgetary nightmare of unimaginable deficits in the out years that will top half a trillion dollars – this is what we have to look forward to even if this bailout plan goes forward – at least according to some economists.

Is this a glimpse of the future? Or just a worst case scenario? No one knows. And this is why the markets are so unsettled – panicky if you will. Uncertainty will eat away at our economy until not just Wall Street but Main Street as well feels the effects of the crisis.

Thankfully, we are not likely to have the bank failures, the soup lines, the massive dislocations that occurred during the Great Depression 80 years ago. FDIC and a social safety net along with (hopefully) no Dust Bowl will bring us to a hard, but manageable landing. But any recession (or contraction) will not be measured in months. It will be years before the toxicity of all this debt is wrung from the economy. It appears to me from reading what economists of all stripes are saying, that we are in for a period of slow or non-existent growth that could last 3 to 5 years (some say longer).

None of this refers to our current problem; the bailout and what to do about it. My desire – my longing – for alternatives to this plan will apparently not be realized. And while it is not a universal belief that catastrophe will occur if we do nothing, enough people who are a helluva lot smarter than me (and not all of them in government or supporting Bush) seem to think the chasm is open beneath our feet already and we are hanging on to the edge of a very steep cliff.

Incredibly, some Republicans are screaming for us to let go:

According to one GOP lawmaker, some House Republicans are saying privately that they’d rather “let the markets crash” than sign on to a massive bailout.

“For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?” the member asked.

If it were just some Wall Street fat cats who would lose their shirt, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over killing the bailout. But since there is no realistic chance for any other emergency measure to pass – not with Bush’s shameless caving in to the Democrats and the Senate Republicans meekly going along not to mention the Democrat’s desire to pander to their left wing interest groups like ACORN - I am forced to the conclusion that without this bailout, havoc would ensue and we might very well have a serious contraction of the economy with the result being the end of the US as a economic powerhouse for the foreseeable future.

The Germans already see it:

Germany blamed the United States on Thursday for spawning the global financial crisis with a blind drive for higher profits and said it must now accept more market regulation and a loss of its financial superpower status.

In some of the harshest criticism of the United States since the crisis threw Wall Street banks into financial disarray this month, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said the turmoil would leave “deep marks” on both sides of the Atlantic, but called it primarily an American problem.

“The world will never be as it was before the crisis,” Steinbrueck told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

“The United States will lose its superpower status in the world financial system. The world financial system will become more multi-polar,” he said.

Once again, I must confess ignorance as to whether Steinbrueck is blowing smoke out of his ass and engaging in a little wishful thinking or whether this is a consensus belief among other European powers. If the former, I hope he chokes on his sauerbraten. If the latter, we better get used to the idea that the kinds of huge capital infusions from overseas that have been one of the driving forces of American entrepreneurship may dry up and curtail business formation and expansion.

Whatever they are going to do, I hope they do it quickly. With Washington Mutual being seized by the government and many of its assets sold to J.P. Morgan while the credit crisis for ordinary folks hits home – the result of a wait and see attitude on the part of banks large and small on this bailout plan – you would hope that the powers that be on Capitol Hill might put aside the campaign for a moment to do something, you know, for the country.

But with John McCain’s political stunt apparently yielding zero results at the negotiating table while Democrats falsely accuse him of gumming up the works (after demanding he make his position on the bailout known), it doesn’t appear there are any grown ups in Washington who want to bite the bullet and do what is right for the country. There is suspicion that many of the liberal ornaments on this Christmas Tree were put in for the unexpressed purpose of presenting the Republican Congress with a plan they could not possibly support:

One of the sticking points, as Senator Lindsey Graham explained later, wasn’t a lack of begging but a poison pill that would push 20% of all profits from the bailout into the Housing Trust Fund — a boondoggle that Democrats in Congress has used to fund political-action groups like ACORN and the National Council of La Raza

So before we hear much about GOP obstructionists, perhaps we should look at the question of why Democrats would make that a deal breaker in their negotiations if not to play politics with the nation’s economic future?

Obama? MIA, of course. Not a peep from the messiah on the biggest issue to hit Capitol Hill in a generation. So much for leadership, eh?

If there is no plausible alternative, pass the damn Paulson plan and let’s hope for the best. That’s all we’ve got at the moment. Otherwise, the consequences of doing nothing may make us all wish we were somewhere else come Monday.

By: Rick Moran at 11:59 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Congress is wary of the push to bail out Wall Street...

With the momentum of the campaign swinging decisively against him, John McCain has rolled the dice once again, hoping to alter the dynamics of a race where events over the last 10 days were playing directly into his opponent’s strengths while blunting his own post convention surge.

The suspension of his campaign is a gimmick, of course – a stylized Kabuki play where Obama was to meekly acquiesce, following the older man’s lead by going to Washington and help bring Congress together on a bailout package. But Obama didn’t want to come out and play. He is calling McCain’s bluff and will show up at the debate in Mississippi on Friday night even if McCain eschews participation. He also declined McCain’s gracious invitation to play second fiddle in Congressional negotiations on the package.

Is this smart? More than smart, it was necessary. McCain is the one gambling here, not Obama. There is very little risk for Obama continuing the campaign and going through with the debate. In fact, if McCain’s gambit is seen as playing politics with the crisis – a perception Obama surrogates are already trying to push – it may be very difficult for McCain to recover from that kind of damage before the election.

Nothing screams “President!” quite like “crisis leadership” and the McCain camp may have believed they had Obama trapped. If he had acceded to McCain’s wishes and gone back to Washington, the Republican would have had a triumph. I don’t think the McCain campaign ever saw that happening, though. More likely, they believed the contrast drawn between the two candidates – one selflessly suspending his campaign while the other cynically taking advantage of the crisis as well as his opponent’s “putting the country first” – would work in their favor.

In this, I believe they have miscalculated. This really is too gimmicky to work that well. McCain may not lose as much as he probably should (he may get some credit for the gambit) but all he has succeeded in doing is dominating one or two news cycles.

On the other hand, I don’t see this as a desperation move by McCain – a “hail Mary” as some commenters are dubbing it. It’s way too early for that kind of panic. And I also disagree that some of these polls that appeared yesterday had much to do at all with this move. They wouldn’t suspend their campaign based on the kind of polling done by WaPo or any other media outlet. They spend millions on their own polling thank you – polling that is much more accurate with regards to what people are feeling about the candidates and the race.

What they saw in their internal polling was no doubt some bad trends toward Obama. The Democrat is almost certainly not 9 points ahead nationally – not with both Gallup and Rasmussen showing it much closer. Nor do the state polls reflect that big of an Obama lead. My friend Rich Baehr at The American Thinker – a very savvy and incisive poll reader – gives Obama a 4 point lead based on his reading of the state polls with momentum clearly swinging his way the last 72 hours. This almost certainly reflects the voter’s skepticism that any bailout will be achieved hence McCain’s belief that he might tap into that worry by demonstrating crisis leadership and declaring his willingness to work toward a bi-partisan solution. The media isn’t buying it nor, if overnight flash polls can be believed, is the public.

So where does that leave McCain? I believe that the GOP will close ranks today and agree to join the Democrats in voting for the bailout package. McCain will suddenly discover the crisis is over and show up in Mississippi for the debate on Friday night. Yet to be seen is what effect, if any, the Gambit will have on people’s perceptions of the campaign and of McCain in particular. One flash poll taken minutes after McCain’s announcement is meaningless in this regard. It will take 48 hours or so for perceptions to harden as the news is filtered through the regular channels of cable news, the internet, and the MSM. I would expect that any polls taken just prior to the debate will reveal if McCain’s gamble had any effect on the race at all.

If it does nothing more than slow Obama’s momentum, it could be seen as a partial success. But frankly, I think both candidates are at the mercy of events with McCain at a decisive disadvantage. By 2-1 the public – rightly or wrongly – places the blame for the Wall Street meltdown on Republicans. And Obama is not going to let people forget that.

By: Rick Moran at 8:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (50)

Maggie's Farm linked with A few Thursday links...

I am afraid I’ve been derelict in my duties as Chief Bemused Chronicler of the Coming Catastrophe. I’ve got an excuse, though. My Give a Damn’s Busted.

Well, that’s only half right. Of course I care about the precipice we are currently teetering upon. Nevertheless, part of me wants to scream “Jump!” just because the idea of huge corporations with enormous political influence and the fabulously wealthy men who run them getting off the hook and not paying dearly for the cruddy decisions they made with their customer’s money sickens my soul.

In six months, even the ones who are fired will no doubt land on their feet running some other company or fund into the ground. They are losers. And the helluva it is, many of these fellows with their hands out, begging us to backstop their stupidity will not be fired, or disciplined, or even given a slap on the wrist. They may even receive kudos from shareholders and the “experts” for having the good sense to finagle cash from the government in exchange for paper that is worth less than a supermarket full of Charmin.

Yes, I know that eventually the Treasury Department will try and sell these securities. And no doubt, the American taxpayer will be told that it was a great deal because we bought in for a song and sold for a huge profit. In the meantime, these same guys will be planning their next get rich quick scheme, gambling that they won’t be one of the suckers holding the bag when the crap hits the fan next time.

As I understand it (and I use the word “understand” in the minimalist way as in “I “understand” quantum mechanics isn’t about repairing tiny cars) the whole point of these trillions of dollars in mortgage backed securities bought by banks and investment firms all over the world is that it “spread the risk” so that no one company would be too exposed.

Who came up with that idea? And why, after spreading the risk all over the world, does it come all the way back and slap the American taxpayer square in the face?

In the immortal words of C-3PO, “Don’t get technical with me.” We are used to government programs being designed to do one thing while ending up accomplishing exactly the opposite. But a financial instrument?

We are told there hasn’t been enough regulation. We are also told there’s been too much regulation. We’ve been told that capitalism is at fault. We’ve been told that it’s government’s fault. We’ve been told it’s a lack of oversight. We’ve been told that banks were forced to lend to deadbeats. We’ve been told it’s the fault of greedy businessmen. We’ve been told it’s no one’s fault, that everyone is to blame.

Now I am not that bright about this kind of thing but to my way of thinking, I’m not sure everything we’ve been told can all be right. And given the track record of the people making these grandiose claims of fault – right and left – it hardly engenders confidence that anyone, anywhere knows what the hell they are talking about.

We might as well face it. Even the financial gypsies at the Fed don’t know what they are doing in this situation. They are in full reactive mode and their crystal balls have gone dark. And if the Fed is in the dark, the hacks at the Treasury Department are only guessing too.

Now I may not understand what’s going on too well but common sense would tell the average Joe that before we go off half cocked and start handing out taxpayer money that maybe, perhaps, we should have the slightest idea if this is going to work.

Just sayin’, that’s all.

Do we have a fallback plan in case this doesn’t do the trick? Or are we just going to throw more money at these Wall Street geniuses and hope for the best?

One thing about this crisis that is truly entertaining is reading bloggers trying to outdo one another in the level of hysteria that their posts reach. It is truly amazing. I’ll bet some of those online thesauruses are getting massive traffic as bloggers search for new adjectives to describe how dire is the situation we find ourselves.

One would think such hyperbole would be the exclusive province of the left. But we righties are making a brave stab at matching them – not in describing the financial crisis but in warning of the catastrophic consequences of the bailout plan. Now, one can oppose the Treasury plan without going off half cocked about “nationalizing Wall Street” or “socializing” the financial system in America. Similarly, one can write of the gravity of the situation without resorting to florid language about selling apples on street corners and half of America standing in soup lines.

But then, what fun is being calm and reasonable? After all, this is an election season and the more out of control and idiotic the rhetoric, the more some people will take you seriously. Besides, predicting the end of the world makes you sound smart to some. It speaks to one of humanity’s most fundamental impulses; the need for drama in our dull and dreary existence. We see this with global warming advocates whose calamitous warnings actually make them feel good inside. There is something almost sexually arousing about imagining the end of the world.

And some bloggers appear to really have a hard on for this disaster.

By: Rick Moran at 8:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (22)