Friday, December 19, 2008

Food for Thought

"The liberal candidate may not win, but the conservative candidate has got to become more liberal. The drift of humane society is in that direction."

-Bob Eckhardt, 1962

Monday, December 15, 2008

A brief return from hiatus for this... too good to be true!

Sometimes events occur that demand putting aside planned procedure to address them immediately. George W. Bush ducking not one, but two shoes deserves such an approach. Enjoy, I did.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

More cabinet rumoring...

It's officially official:
1. Rahm Emanuel is in as COS
2. David Axelrod is in a "Senior Advisor" (nice generic title)
3. Transition economic advisors will be Robert Reich, Larry Summers, Warren Buffet, Bob Rubin, Governor Granholm, Paul Volcker, David Bonior, Roel Campos, William Daley, Roger Ferguson, Anne Mulcahy, Richard Parsons, Penny Pritzker, Eric Schmidt, Laura Tyson, and Antonio Villaraigosa (who Lego my Ego refers to as Villagrossa)

From the realm of idle rumoring:
1. Tom Daschle for HHS
2. Max Cleland for Army Secretary
3. John Kerry is lobbying for Secretary of State
4. Chuck Hagel for DOD
5. Bill Richardson for State
6. Deval Patrick for AG
7. Howard Dean for HHS

Here is my question; if every Democratic governor in the U.S. Goes into the cabinet, will there be any Democrats left to run the states???

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This just in...

According to the Portland Oregonian blog (Michelle Roberts) political analyst Tim Hibbitts is predicting that Democrat Jeff Merkley will upset Senator Gordon Smith. He based this prediction based on outstanding votes to be counted. As of right now only 56% of Multnomah County (Portland) has been counted and is breaking sharply for the challenger.

Nothing written in stone!

Also, Senator Coleman and Al Franken are headed to a re-count with Coleman leading by 800 votes. More on this to come...

Update: the state has explained how they are recounting 3 million votes. Coleman has, in the interim declared victory. A bit premature, don't you think Normie?

The President-elect's cabinet

So far I am hearing:
1. Rahm Emanuel for Chief-of-Staff (I believe this is confirmed)
2. Napolitano, Pea and Daley for transition team
3. Gov. Napolitano for Attorney General (this would be a mistake, we need her in Phoenix),
4. RFK, Jr. for EPA Administrator (asked if he would take it, RFK said: "if asked, I will serve)
5. Jon Corzine for Treasury Secretary (I don't buy this)
6. Governor Rendell for DOE (I don't buy this either)
7. Vilsack for Agriculture
8. Steve Westly for DOE
9. Senator Lugar for Secretary of State (this would be a great pick)
10. Caroline Kennedy for Ed Secretary

I would urge caution. Most of this is likely wishful thinking mixed with hangover. Time will tell.

The speech heard 'round the world!

Illegal gay people...

It looks like California will pass the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Statewide it is standing at 52-48 for it. I am particularly disappointed in my old hometown. Los Angeles County voted 50.4-49.6 in favor of the ban. Amazing what some people think is their business. Perhaps if conservatives had focused more on the issues that challenge all Americans they would not have taken an old fashioned ass-whipping from sea to shining sea.

No news on whether Stuart Smalley (Al Franken) will indeed go down to defeat. It doesn't look good at this point. Additionally, Senator Smith in Oregon may hold on, but it is tight there too.

So far I have only missed North Dakota and Missouri. Missouri was tight, it was always going to be close, but I think Obama just didn't resonate with the bumpkins in the southern part of the state. Not sure if there was ever going to be a way to peel them away, but the speech Obama gave last night makes it clear that the politics of division and marginalization of opposition is over, for now at least.

I am tired and I have to get to work now! More later...

This just in...

It is being reported that Barack Obama has offered and Rahm Emanuel has accepted the job of Chief of Staff. I like Rahm Emanuel and I think he will do a good job, but I was holding out hope for former Senator Tom Daschle. I will have to wait and see where he lands. Perhaps in the cabinet or an ambassadorship. Time will tell.

This will free up a Congressional seat in addition to a Obama’s Senate seat from Illinois. There is speculation that Jesse Jackson III is lobbying hard for Obama’s Senate seat, but that others from the delegation are uncomfortable with that. More on this will develop. I’m going to bed!

America, I'm proud of you tonight!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In other news tonight:

Chris Shays loses his seat in Connecticut. There are no longer any Republican House members in New England.

Medical Marijuana is legalized in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts shoots down the repeal of the state income tax.

South Dakota has once again shot down a ban on abortion.

Still no word on the California gay marriage ban constitutional amendment. So far it looks like this will pass. This could be a down note for an otherwise happy day.

From John Kerry...

"Tonight we elected a President who has inspired a majority of Americans with his vision and policies, a man who is principally a leader for these times who happens to also be African American; and because of America’s stunning ability to move on and transform, to write a new chapter of our history, Barack Obama will be President during the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

"Tonight there are tears of joy and disbelief in small rural communities and inner cities, where for too long, some weren’t sure anything was really possible for them.

"Tonight new dreams are born and old truths are affirmed. Tonight we enter a new America, the best America, the America of our highest hopes."

Big night...

I am emotionally raw and cannot even begin to collect my thoughts. I am loving the fact that at this time (11:30 PM CST, on 11/4/08) I have only predicted North Dakota incorrectly. Here is a great picture!

and here is another one:

and another picture:

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Freak is predicting... (Part II)

Here is the worst case scenario that I can find evidence for:

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

The Freak is predicting...

Here is the best case scenario:

<p><strong>><a href=''>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In Defense of Wonks!

David Brooks wrote a column in the October 28th NY Times entitled The Behavioral Revolution that got under my skin. I never do this, but I couldn’t help myself. I wrote him an e-mail. Here it is:


You had me hot as a pistol at the beginning of your October 28th column (Human Frailty). Your assessment of public policy analysis was particularly ill-informed. Have you ever read Eugene Bardach? It may not have been part of your History curriculum at Chicago, but I have read you long enough to know that you are fairly well read. I suggest his "A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis" (first class, first semester of any good Master of Public Policy program). In it he outlines the "the Eightfold Path." The first step on that path is to "define the problem." The failure you point out with the current fiscal breakdown was not a failure of policy analysis. I'd be surprised if there were very many public policy analysts involved in the effort to deregulate the financial sector. I think that tar baby belongs to our friends from the business school.

Despite your conservative leanings, I find myself agreeing with you more than my liberal conscience is fully comfortable with. I agree that the failure was in large part due to, as Nassim Taleb asserts, "the existence of inherent limitations and flaws in the way we think and act." But this problem was not totally unforeseen. Many economists, financial and policy analysts have spoken for some time of the overly complex nature of our financial system.

Do you concede that it is possible that the system was designed by many people "engaged in calculating their self-interest" and that the lack of regulation and oversight started a snowball rolling downhill that eventually morphed beyond the control and/or understanding of financial services "industry".

I am a pretty liberal guy, but even I don't think oppressive regulation is the answer (Jamie Galbraith, eat your heart out). But how about the government create some guidelines for financial analysts to operate within that seek to simplify the process and create transparency and then get out of the way and let them run wild like the pack of savages that they are. The trade off, of course there is always a trade off, would be that violating these parameters would be a criminal act punishable by some form of disbarment (similar to the legal world) for malpractice.


As a post-script I will add that the role of behavioral psychology is indeed lacking in public policy analysis. But that is a failure of implementation not the system for analysis of public policy. Unfortunately policy is usually analyzed in the context of partisanship. That assumes that a bias is guiding the analysis as opposed to the analysis guiding the ideology. I agree that the fallout from the financial collapse will be an emphasis on behavioral economics and that is a good thing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Attacks ain't working

I have found it very interesting that the guy everyone labeled as media savvy and in touch has had such a tin ear in this election cycle. McCain was able to say the right things to the right crowds in the Republican primaries. I suspect that is mostly because the Obama-Clinton race sucked all the air out of the room and few Independents crossed into the GOP race in states where that was available to them. The McCain campaign seems to not have realized this and as a result really never tacked back to center after. They went to the base pick for VP and while Sarah Palin has energized Republicans it has hurt McCain among Independents and conservative (potential) crossover Democrats. It is odd and conspicuously amateur to concede the center in a national political campaign. Particular when two of the three legs of the Republican base were already lukewarm on the idea of a McCain presidency.

McCain desperately wanted to run on heroism, honor and steady experience but it was a flawed plan from the get-go. I disagree that this is a change election and that experience was never going to win out. You can't simultaneously want to be the experienced candidate and then bash the system within which you got your experience. It reminds me of a card that my mother go my father for his birthday one year. It had a picture of a birthday cake and a woman in a bikini. On the outside it said: "This is Edith and a cake." On the inside it said: " You can't have your cake and Edith too." By trying to have it both ways, McCain has invited the idea that he is erratic.

McCain's "maverick" persona didn't help either. The fact that he has been unpredictable his entire career looked fresh and independent until it became clear that with the exception of foreign policy he really isn't that well versed on the issues. I think the fact that he has been able to work at issues from different perspectives is because he lacks the wisdom and intelligence to ask penetrating questions and base decisions on logic or reason. Instead McCain shoots from the hip and it makes him dead wrong a lot. It also means that he is right some time. McCain is right, the surge has worked from a military perspective but his lack of nuance makes it abundantly clear that he just doesn't get it that the point was to succeed militarily so the Iraqi's could succeed politically. That just has not happened. Obama may be unable to acknowledge the the military tactic of the surge succeeded, but McCain is equally unable to acknowledge that the surge failed politically.

So now we are left with an attack on personality and it just isn't connecting. Once again, McCain doesn't get it. The American people don't believe him on Ayers and ACORN. They see Obama in debates, hear his steady voice on the economy and the fact that he is utterly unflappable and they are genuinely impressed. McCain is right; if Obama wins, sunlight will not suddenly shining out of his backside. But, as the Chicago Tribune said in their endorsement, Obama "has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions."

The NY Times poll on negative attacks showed that they are hurting McCain. Here is the chart:

That ain't nothing. Being bi-partisan is often confused with abandoning your ideological bearings. That is wrongheaded and ultimately very unappealing in a leader. I think Americans want a leader who holds his ideological beliefs as sacred but isn't stubborn and can work with people who think differently. McCain has shown that ability, but his lack of command of the fundamentals on major issues is a problem I believe he would listen to a bunch of experts that hold different positions on an issue, like economics, and he would be paralyzed by the lack of consensus. Obama has the ability to listen to a bunch of people who differ, ask hard questions on issues that he is not an expert in and build consensus. We need conservative and liberal voices. They all need to be heard. But we then need a President that focuses that energy. That is leadership. That is what America needs.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Da Bears!!!

The Chicago Tribune is on board the Barry Express as well! It isn’t everyday that a conservative paper (which I tend to enjoy picking up as I pass through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago) endorses a liberal Democrat. That is the nature of the world we live in. In their endorsement they said:

“We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

“We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.”

They don’t really need to say any more than that, do they?

But they do! They also say:

“Obama envisions a change in the way we deal with one another in politics and government. His opponents may say this is empty, abstract rhetoric. In fact, it is hard to imagine how we are going to deal with the grave domestic and foreign crises we face without an end to the savagery and a return to civility in politics.”

“We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.

“We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus.”

“When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.”

“It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.”

Very powerful indeed. This type of faith in the “better angels of our nature” is very Lincolnesque indeed!

LAT weighs in...

The Los Angeles Times has weighed in. They have endorsed Barack Obama for President, saying:

“The excitement of Obama's early campaign was amplified by that newness. But as the presidential race draws to its conclusion, it is Obama's character and temperament that come to the fore. It is his steadiness. His maturity.”

“…the presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory.”

“Obama's selection also was telling. He might have scored a steeper bump in the polls by making a more dramatic choice than the capable and experienced Joe Biden. But for all the excitement of his own candidacy, Obama has offered more competence than drama.”

“We may one day look back on this presidential campaign in wonder. We may marvel that Obama's critics called him an elitist, as if an Ivy League education were a source of embarrassment, and belittled his eloquence, as if a gift with words were suddenly a defect. In fact, Obama is educated and eloquent, sober and exciting, steady and mature. He represents the nation as it is, and as it aspires to be.”

Nicely said from a newspaper that has gone from “world class” to “world class joke” in a decade. Maybe the LA Times is turning things around. One can always hope. It could not get much worse.

Up and running on the run!

A new wrinkle for the Freak is the ability to post to the blog on the fly. I have lots to say and no time to type it. I owe a piece on the two campaign economic plans that came out this week vs. what the Bush administration for been proposing. I will get to that over the weekend.

I am sorry to say, but the Freak has been on something of a macroeconomic jaunt of late. That will probably taint the blog to some extent.

Lastly, the debates are over and I have only one observation. Why can't McCain complete sentences before moving on to his next talking point. His lack of ease makes it clear that he has memorized talking points and has no command of economic principles. Very unimpressive. Obama didn't say much, but he didn't have to. Why paint yourself into a corner with one specific plan when your opponent is content to beat himself?

This is all for now!

Freak... ...out!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama's Economic Plan for the Mortgage/Credit Crisis

Here is an overview of the Obama Plan.  I will have comment in the coming days.  I addition, I will post John McCain's plan when they release it.

Job Creation: A New American Jobs Tax Credit. Obama is calling for a temporary tax credit for firms that create new jobs in the United States over the next two years. 

Relief to Families: Penalty-Free Withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s in 2008 and 2009. Obama is calling for new legislation to allow families to withdraw 15% of their retirement savings – up to a maximum of $10,000 – without facing a tax-penalty this year (including retroactively) and next year.  

Relief to Homeowners: 90 day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners that are acting in good faith. Financial institutions that participate in the Treasury’s financial rescue plan should be required to adhere to a homeowners code of conduct, including a 90-day foreclosure moratorium for any homeowners living in their homes that are making good faith efforts pay their mortgages.

Responding to the Financial Crisis: A Lending Facility to Address the Credit Crisis for States and Localities. Obama is calling on the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to work to establish a facility to lend to state and municipal governments, similar to the steps the Fed recently took to provide liquidity to the commercial paper market.

The sun!

Some cool pictures of the sun...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oh Yes We Can!


Sarah Silverman... on the nose!

False hope?

"We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope." - Senator Barack Obama

Yes We Can! - a reminder...

Sometimes it is important to remember what we are all talking about. It is important to remember what is at stake and that words do, in fact, matter very much! Hope and Changes may be jokes to the chorus of Republican screaming faces as they cower in a corner knowing that their days in power are numbered.

Barack Obama’s New Hampshire Primary Speech

The following is a transcript of Senator Barack Obama's speech to supporters after the New Hampshire primary, as provided by CQ Transcriptions via The Associated Press.

BARACK OBAMA: Thank you, New Hampshire. I love you back. Thank you. Thank you.

Well, thank you so much. I am still fired up and ready to go. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

Well, first of all, I want to congratulate Senator Clinton on a hard-fought victory here in New Hampshire. She did an outstanding job. Give her a big round of applause.


You know, a few weeks ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here tonight in New Hampshire. No one could have imagined it.

For most of this campaign, we were far behind. We always knew our climb would be steep. But in record numbers, you came out, and you spoke up for change.

And with your voices and your votes, you made it clear that at this moment, in this election, there is something happening in America.


There is something happening when men and women in Des Moines and Davenport, in Lebanon and Concord, come out in the snows of January to wait in lines that stretch block after block because they believe in what this country can be.

There is something happening. There's something happening when Americans who are young in age and in spirit, who've never participated in politics before, turn out in numbers we have never seen because they know in their hearts that this time must be different.

There's something happening when people vote not just for party that they belong to, but the hopes that they hold in common.

And whether we are rich or poor, black or white, Latino or Asian, whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction.

That's what's happening in America right now; change is what's happening in America.

You, all of you who are here tonight, all who put so much heart and soul and work into this campaign, you can be the new majority who can lead this nation out of a long political darkness.

Democrats, independents and Republicans who are tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington, who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable, who understand that, if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there is no problem we cannot solve, there is no destiny that we cannot fulfill. Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care in our time. We can bring doctors and patients, workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together, and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that, while they get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair, not this time, not now.


Our new majority can end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it.

We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame and start putting them on a pathway to success.

We can stop talking about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness by giving them more pay and more support. We can do this with our new majority.

We can harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists, citizens and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil and save our planet from a point of no return.

And when I am president of the United States, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home.


We will end this war in Iraq. We will bring our troops home. We will finish the job -- we will finish the job against Al Qaida in Afghanistan. We will care for our veterans. We will restore our moral standing in the world.

And we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, because it is not a tactic to win an election. It is a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear weapons, climate change and poverty, genocide and disease.

All of the candidates in this race share these goals. All of the candidates in this race have good ideas and all are patriots who serve this country honorably.


But the reason our campaign has always been different, the reason we began this improbable journey almost a year ago is because it's not just about what I will do as president. It is also about what you, the people who love this country, the citizens of the United States of America, can do to change it.

That's what this election is all about.

That's why tonight belongs to you. It belongs to the organizers, and the volunteers, and the staff who believed in this journey and rallied so many others to join the cause.

We know the battle ahead will be long. But always remember that, no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. And they will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks and months to come.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.


For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.

Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

And so, tomorrow, as we take the campaign south and west, as we learn that the struggles of the textile workers in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas, that the hopes of the little girl who goes to the crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of L.A., we will remember that there is something happening in America, that we are not as divided as our politics suggest, that we are one people, we are one nation.

And, together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea: Yes, we can.

Thank you, New Hampshire. Thank you. Thank you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

An old fashioned ass-whipping!

Sorry for being MIA on blogging lately. I have a lot of thoughts and not enough time... Here is Andrew Sullivan's live blog from the Atlantic Monthly. Quite astute observations. I agree, Obama kicked the snot out of McCain tonight.


10.33 pm. This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain. Even on Russia, he sounded a little out of it. I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out.It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.

10.26 pm. Israel and Iran: I'm relieved that this question is raised. It's the hardest question the next president will have to face. I honestly feel very conflicted about this. I want to know how these candidates will react. McCain's invocation of a "league of democracies" as the answer is a little bizarre. Obama's answer was very political and very persuasive. I just don't believe we can stop Iran, although Obama's answer on gasoline imports was specific and smart. He won the exchange, but he didn't convince me. I wish he had.

10.15 pm. This is Obama's sucker-punch. "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." Ouch. Pow. Oof. Nothing aloof about that right hook.

10.11 pm. "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda." This is a Democratic candidate. Can you remember the last one who used rhetoric like that on national security?

10.07 pm. McCain's response on the surge and genocide was a good one. I'm not sure that the surge has solved anything rather than simply freezing the civil war in place, but he has a decent moral point on this. But Obama's measured mix of moral concern with pragmatic alliance-building was very strong. It's really a return to Niebuhrian realism.

10.02 pm. It would have been a strong moment for McCain when he cited "no on the job training" in the White House. And then he picked Palin! She can't even hold a press conference and he thinks she can be trusted with national security at a moment's notice. It makes no sense.

9.59 pm. On CNN, Obama has reached the maximum with women voters a few times and literally couldn't go up any further. The gender gap is very powerful in these debate insta-reax polls at least. Even Palin ran well behind with women.

9.56 pm. Mandates? I thought I sat through countless debates with Hillary when Obama was opposed to mandates, while Hillary was in favor of them. His response about his mother was very powerful.

9.55 pm. Hair transplants? Where on earth did that come from?

9.54 pm. McCain: "Obama will find you." He's treating him like the Boogeyman. People know he isn't. So it just makes McCain look paranoid.

9.51 pm. Why is McCain wandering around the stage while Obama is talking? It's weird. He looks like an old man pacing aimlessly. And he doesn't look at Obama while Obama talks the way Obama looks at him when McCain talks. This is not that important but I don't think it helps McCain.

9.49 pm. Two flashes from McCain so far: "that one," referring to Obama, and citing Obama's "secret." Nasty, uncivil and not even effective.

9.48 pm. The format: I'm surprised because frankly, I think this format is helping Obama, especially since it emphasizes movement. And Obama is physically very fluent. McCain sadly is.

9.42 pm. I like McCain on social security. The old pre-Rove McCain was someone I loved. But I can't trust him on this any more after this campaign, I'm afraid. Alas: "have a commission" is a little lame as an answer.

9.41 pm. Obama got a little muddled on taxes there.

9.38 pm. Memo to McCain: don't talk about Herbert Hoover. The Abraham Simpson problem.

9.33 pm. Obama's response on the question of sacrifice of citizens was out of the park. He was able to ask for sacrifice without seeming like a scold or a doom-monger. That's tough. And his insistence that he too favors off-shore drilling and reveres military service and wants others to shoulder the burden now uniquely born by the military was exactly right. This is overwhelmingly now in Obama's favor.

9.29 pm. Good for McCain on tackling earmarks. But he knows this is trivial in the context of the entire federal budget. I have to say that Obama is winning this so far on substance, crispness and authority.

9.25 pm. Kudos to McCain on entitlement reform. But his refusal to prioritize among healthcare, energy and entitlement reform and insist we can do everything at once did not sound like a decisive and clear leader.

9.21 pm. Obama's riff on the Republican fiscal profligacy was important. It's vital not to forget the Republican responsibility for our fiscal mess.

9.17 pm. McCain is at least looking at Obama. Alas, when he walks around, he seems a little older than he does at a podium. This isn't his fault. But the age and generational factor seems more pronounced tonight.I thnk it's a mistake to attack "Obama's cronies". It seemed partisan and negative when people want constructive solutions.

9.14 pm. So far, Obama is walking away with this. I'm a little stunned that McCain's first response to the financial crisis was to cite energy independence, a policy where both candidates are closely aligned. But Obama has also put in a couple of jabs that seemed off to me. The winner will be the man who addresses the concrete issues in a way that most people can understand. So far, Obama is winning that. But he's been a little off in challenging McCain.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What we need now are more secret rooms...

The political and economic worlds are fascinating of late.  I must admit, though, that I am watching this all unfold rather dispassionately, knowing that my investments are mostly in S&P and International Stock funds and that they are not going anywhere for 35 years.  


I enjoyed being able to take a week off focusing on the election to focus on the economy, which is far and away more interesting.  I was quietly supportive of the approach being pursued, until I read the plan.  Hank Paulson is a bright guy, but he is still a robber baron of the banking industry and I must admit the plan reads like using Republican ideas (bailout blind behind closed doors) to fix a Republican economic strategy failure (de-regulation and evisceration of what regulatory agencies are left standing).  Paul Krugman in today's NY Times gets it quite right.  They are proposing to attack the wrong component of the problem and they are doing it in an un-transparent (is that a word?  How about opaque) manner that runs contrary to what investors need right now.  The market thrives on security.  It is why we got into this mess in the first place.  Bankers were trying to artificially minimize risk.  It turns out that this mitigation was really only superficial and not tactile.  The big problem is that no one knew how the whole house of cards system worked.  Certain people knew how certain facets worked, but no one had command of the entire problem.  We don’t necessarily need more regulation but we do need laws that prohibit the market from tying itself in such an idiotic and inept snare again.  The last thing we should do is empower the Treasury Secretary to go off and spend upwards of $700 billion without any agency or Congress being able to ask any questions en route.  Bad news!  


We'll see if Congress can fix the bill or if they will just gum it up even worse.  I have heard some good proposals (executive compensation concessions) and some really idiotic ones (tax increases to offset this expenditure).  I am totally opposed to passing the proposed legislation as drafted by the Bush administration.  They talk about urgency, like they talked about the urgency of passing the PATRIOT Act and the Authorization for the use of force in Iraq.  I say slow down, and if desperate Congressmen and women are a week late getting home to campaign; tough beans!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Words to live by...

...from a great man of Massachusetts!

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Macro-hoo ha!

My Republican friend sent me an e-mail with his "tax plan."

-Eliminate all corporate subsidies for profitable companies
-Do not raise cap gain taxes
-Lower taxes across the board for Upper and Middle Classes(in lieu of the Bush tax cuts being eliminated.)
-Lower corporate taxes, only Japan has a higher tax rate......

I respond with a Teddy Roosevelt quote:

"I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective - a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate."
- Theodore Roosevelt Osawatomie, Kansas on August 31, 1910

He then responded by saying:

“income reallocation = Marxism...”

Now, I love when people use words they don't understand... I responded with:

Holy oversimplification Batman! That is like a CNN assessment. Thank you, Brett, for breaking the tenets of Marxism into a soundbyte, which, while entirely worthless and factually inaccurate, is tasty and easy to digest.

If I was going to break Marxism into a one sentence soundbyte, I might prefer to say that it is:

Marxism = A belief that capitalism is based on the exploitation of workers by the owners of the means of production and that this dialectical historical process will ultimately result in a replacement of the current class structure of society with a system that manages society for the good of all, resulting in the dissolution of the class structure and its support.

There is no macroeconomic theory there. You are likely referring to Socialism. Marxism is sociological, anthropological, and philosophical theory.

You call Socialism wealth redistribution. A Marxist would say that it is workers simply laying claim to just compensation for the one part of the capitalist process that they own. That is the Labor Theory of Value, in case you were curious.

Marxism is generally wishful thinking, pie in the sky, rubbish, but the Labor Theory of Value is spot on and quite compatible with the Capitalist system.

Henry Ford (and no one would dare call him anything but a Capitalist) understood this when he voluntarily paid his employees a living wage and reduced the length of their work week. The Wall Street Journal called him a Communist. The joke was on them. He bred loyalty in his workforce and by paying them well he expanded the market for automobile ownership.
I do not believe that humans are capable of a Marxist system. It neglects the flaw of humanity, which is inherent greed. Social democracy on the other hand is a system of fairly compensating workers (without whom the Capitalist system would fail) for their role in society. Social democracy calls for living wages, adequate work-life balance, universal health care…

But I am wasting my breath on you. You are a social Darwinist and believe that everyone should be able to succeed like you succeeded. You ignore, like Ford's critics, that the tenets of social-Capitalism or social democracy are in the interests of all and that when done in unison a rising tide really could lift all boats. It means that the rich have to pay a higher percentage. The rich get richer and the poor move out of poverty creating a whole new class of consumers for the shit the rich people make and sell.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A thought that will fester for a while

That I am an unabashed fan of the Kennedy family is no secret. They are the definition of public service. Born with all the privileges in the world, they fought not for more wealth or the interests of the rich but rather for the silent majority. That Ted Kennedy has endorsed Senator Obama and says he sees the spirit of his brothers in him is a huge endorsement in my opinion. I am a huge fan of Robert Kennedy, Jr. and his work with the River Keepers, the Natural Resources Defense Council and his writings. That he found his passion for environmental policy while doing Court mandated community service to make amends for youthful failings and has turned it into his life's crusade is noble and honorable! Here are his thoughts of the Rube quoting Westbrook Pegler in her convention and stump speech:

Governor Palin’s Reading List

By Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“Fascist writer Westbrook Pegler, an avowed racist who Sarah Palin approvingly quoted in her acceptance speech for the moral superiority of small town values, expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that ‘some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.’

“It might be worth asking Governor Palin for a tally of the other favorites from her reading list.”

What an admirable person to want to quote in her speech. In the Rube’s defense; she has no idea who Westbrook Pegler is, she has never read any of his writings, she probably doesn’t read anything at all. For those that missed it, I recommend reading the cover article on the Rube in last Sunday’s New York Times. A particularly important snippet dealing with the Rube’s efforts to ban books from the Wasilla is particularly poignant here:

“The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

“’People would bring books back censored,’ recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. ‘Pages would get marked up or torn out.’

“Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

“But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book ‘Daddy’s Roommate’ on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

“’Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,’ Ms. Chase said. ‘It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.’

“’I’m still proud of Sarah,’ she added, ‘but she scares the bejeebers out of me.’”

I think the thing that I take away from this new information is two fold. First, I could never, ever, ever support a candidate who wants to ban books for being immoral. Second, if you want to ban a book you should probably have read it, know what it is about AND (not or) be able to explain your moral objections.

Don’t be a wuss, Rube! You hate gay people. But honestly, if those are your beliefs, stand by them! Do you truly lack the intestinal fortitude to stand by your beliefs? Can you really be trusted to stand firm in the face of Putin if you shrink away from your homophobia? Stand up, Rube! Stand firm! Anything less would be to fail to live up to the standard of Westbrook Pegler, your inspirational standard bearer and moral compass!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Psst... McCain is the pig in lipstick!

You’ve heard it all before.  Washington wastes your money.  Those damn politicians and bureaucrats can’t be trusted with your hard earned money…

Let’s let the man speak for himself:

"I can eliminate $100 billion of wasteful and earmark spending immediately--35 billion in big spending bills in the last two years, and another 65 billion that has already been made a permanent part of the budget." 

--John McCain, NPR All Things Considered, April 23, 2008

McCain’s rhetoric about earmarks is all well and good, but if they want to have a beauty contest on wasteful spending, let’s look at the facts…

McCain’s magic solution for balancing the budget, while cutting taxes massively, is really mostly nonsense.  First of all, the $100 billion figure he openly cites (nice and rounded, isn’t it?) is largely a figment of the McCain campaign's imagination.  Naw, let’s not be delicate.  It is an outright fabrication, a LIE.  A 2006 study by the Congressional Research Service reviewed earmarks by different government departments, without giving a global figure.  Scott Lilly, a former Democratic appropriations staffer who is now with the Center for American Progress Action Fund says that the CRS study identifies a total of $52 billion in earmarks for a single year. However, much of this money is tied to items such as foreign aid to countries like Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, that McCain says he will not touch.

The Office for Management and the Budget came up with a figure for $16.9 billion in the 2008 appropriation bills. Taxpayers for Commonsense, an independent watchdog group that focuses on wasteful spending, identified $18.3 billion worth of earmarks in the 2008 bills.  Let’s us the Taxpayers for Commonsense number as our working number.  Let us also be clear about that $18.3 billion figure.  It is a 23 per cent cut from a record $23.6 billion set in 2005 when Republicans were in control of Congress.

OK, so McCain proposes eliminating earmarks with a swift stroke of the veto pen (aI am pretty sure it is a stamp and then a signature, but let’s not quibble).  Taxpayers for Commonsense is quite candid that it is "difficult question that we have not yet figured out," when looking at how much can actually be eliminated. 

The figure they cite includes such items as $4 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which could not be eliminated without halting work on hundreds of construction projects around the country.  Does anyone think that the Army Corps of Engineers should stop working on the levees in New Orleans or the flood control systems along the upper Mississippi River?  Who thinks we should stop checking, repairing and maintaining our flood control dams on the Lower Colorado River in Texas or on the levees in northern California?  OK, let’s see:

$18.3 billion minus $4 billion = $14.3 billion

The next big chunk goes to military construction projects.  This includes housing for servicemen and their families.  Let’s be clear that here, again, McCain has promised not to touch funding for our men and women in uniform.

In order to shoot holes in the McCain “corrupt, free spending Washington insider” ballyhoo I tried to find data from conservative sources.  Bruce Riedl, a budget analyst with the Heritage Foundation (they don’t get much more conservative than that), says it “might” be possible to eliminate roughly half the expenditure on earmarks each year.  If we stick to using the Taxpayers for Commonsense figures that would be around $9 billion.

Reidl was sure to cite $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds as worthy of cutting.  This money generally goes to local governments to assess housing and urban development issues (i.e. investment in lower income neighborhoods).  I suppose that I could get behind the concept of eliminating the earmark process altogether, but many of those expenditures would end up being shifted to other parts of the budget.

Let’s assume that McCain can, as promised, preserve the elimination of frivolous earmarks.  That will save only around $10 billion a year. That is no where near the $100 billion in savings that McCain says that he can identify "immediately."  I am going to go out on a ledge and say that John McCain is lying to the voters.


The McCain campaign has since backed away from their bravado.  They now say that McCain never meant to suggest that his proposed $100 billion in savings would all come from earmarks. If that is the case and in the absence of any other proposed areas for cutting, I think we must assume that he, like President Bush, can’t cut spending to offset his tax plan and will thus further exacerbate the deficit and continue to export our debt to China.  With their experiences with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back mortgage securities, will they want to buy our debt?  The answer, I would venture is yes.  A debtor is under the control of the lender and that is advantageous for China regardless of our ability to repay in the near term (or ever).  We can’t press China on North Korea, Iran, Russia, Darfur, climate change or a number of other urgent issues.

That isn’t change, that is more of the same!

The dude abides!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The sentence...

I want y'all to plaster this sentence from Adam McKay's piece everywhere...

"Katrina, four dollar gas, a trillion dollar war, rising unemployment, deregulated housing market, global more."

That says it all!

The press sucks! They are the only ones who don't get it!

I don't agree with the "losing this thing" bit, but I do agree with Adam's assessment of the press. We have no journalists asking hard questions and demanding answers. They are all glorified Access Hollywood hosts. Good luck Charlie Gibson, you worthless hack! I hope you ask the Rube some real questions and make her answer them, but I doubt you will. You're too afraid of being painted as liberals. There is a solution though; do the same thing to Obama and Biden! I am sure they would love it!

We're Gonna Lose This Thing

By Adam McKay - The Huffington Post

"Stop saying that!" my wife says to me. But this is not a high school football game and I'm not a cheerleader with a bad attitude. This is an election and as things stand now, we're gonna frickin' lose this thing. Obama and McCain at best are even in the polls nationally and in a recent Gallup poll McCain is ahead by four points.

Something is not right. We have a terrific candidate and a terrific VP candidate. We're coming off the worst eight years in our country's history. Six of those eight years the Congress, White House and even the Supreme Court were controlled by the Republicans and the last two years the R's have filibustered like tantrum throwing 4-year-olds, yet we're going to elect a Republican who voted with that leadership 90% of the time and a former sportscaster who wants to teach Adam and Eve as science? That's not odd as a difference of opinion, that's logically and mathematically queer.

It reminds me of playing blackjack (a losers game). You make all the right moves, play the right hands but basically the House always wins. I know what you're going to say " But I won twelve hundred dollars last year in Atlantic City!" Of course there are victories. The odds aren't tilted crazy, but there is a 51%-49% advantage. And in the long run, the house has to win. The house will win.

So what is this house advantage the Republicans have? It's the press. There is no more fourth estate. Wait, hold on...I'm not going down some esoteric path with theories on the deregulation of the media and corporate bias and CNN versus Fox...I mean it: there is no more functioning press in this country. And without a real press the corporate and religious Republicans can lie all they want and get away with it. And that's the 51% advantage.

Think this is some opinion being wryly posited to titillate other bloggers and inspire dialogue with Tucker Carlson or Gore Vidal? Fuck that. Four corporations own all the TV channels. All of them. If they don't get ratings they get canceled or fired. All news is about sex, blame and anger, and fear. Exposing lies about amounts of money taken from lobbyists and votes cast for the agenda of the last eight years does not rate. The end.

So one side can lie and get away with it. Now let's throw in one more advantage. Voter caging and other corruption on the local level with voting. Check out the article here on HuffPost about Ohio messing with 600K voters. If only five thousand of those voters don't or can't vote that's a huge advantage in a contest that could be decided by literally dozens of votes. That takes us to about a 52 to 48% advantage.

I'm not even getting into the fact that the religious right teaches closed mindedness so it's almost impossible to gain new voters from their pool because people who disagree with them are agents of the devil. I just want to look at two inarguable realities: A) we have no more press and B) the Repubs are screwing with the voters on the local level.

I'm telling you, we're going to lose this thing. And afterwords we'll blame ourselves the same way we did with Gore and Kerry (two candidates a thousand times more qualified to lead than W Bush.) Just watch.. McCain wins by a point or two and we all walk around saying things like "Obama was too well spoken." "Biden wasn't lovable enough." "I shouldn't have split those eights." "Why did I hit on 16? Why?!"

So what do we do?

1) We give definitive clear speeches like Biden and Obama gave the other day about how no one talked about any issues at the Republican Convention and how they outright lied. But we do them over and over again. 2) We use the one place where it's still a 50-50 game -- the internet -- as much as we can. 3) But most importantly we should bring up re-regulating the media and who owns it and what that conflict of interest is a lot more. By pretending there's no conflict of interest we're failing to alert the public that they're being lied to or given a looking at a coin at the bottom of a pool slanted truth. Every time a pundit or elected official is on any TV news program it should be a polite formality to mention that GE has made such and such billions off the war in Iraq by selling arms or that Murdoch is a right-wing activist with a clear stake in who wins and who taxes his profits the least. Disney, GE, Viacom, and Murdoch -- all want profits and the candidate and agenda that will get in their way the least.

Obama and Biden should also create a "master sound bite sentence" and repeat it hundreds of times. It should be so true that even the corporations can't screw with it when it makes the airwaves. Here's my attempt: "Katrina, four dollar gas, a trillion dollar war, rising unemployment, deregulated housing market, global more."

This race should be about whether the Republican Party is going to be dismantled or not after the borderline treason of the past eight years. But instead it is about making the word "community organizer" a dirty word and a beauty queen who shoots foxes from a plane. Someone is not in any way doing their job and it's the press. Or more specifically, that job no longer exists.

Probably the worst offenders are the pundits who take the position that it's all just a game and say phrases like "getting a post-convention bump" or "playing to the soccer Moms." This isn't a game of Monopoly or Survivor. There are real truths that exist outside of the spin they are given and have an effect on lives. 250,000 Iraqi civilians are dead because we let our reality be distorted by the most effective propaganda machine in fifty years, the corporate American press. Money and jobs are flying out of this country as our currency becomes worthless and we're talking about the fact that McCain is a veteran. If someone busted into your house and robbed you would you then forgive them if you found out they were a veteran? Of course not. So why are we forgiving McCain for selling out his country by supporting the Bush agenda?

This is it folks. If McCain takes power we fade and become Australia in the seventies: a backwoods country with occasional flashes of relevance. Except we've got a way bigger military and we're angrier. People will get hurt and we'll pay the bill for the bullets. I'm telling you, unless we wake up, we're gonna lose this frickin' thing.

Well said!

Do You Think I'm Stupid?
The Huffington Post

By Jamie Lee Curtis

Mr. Obama said it.... "They must think you are stupid." Stupid to believe that McCain/Palin are "change agents." Change is becoming this campaigns' ping pong ball and we are missing the point. Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Be it. Don't talk about it, don't pontificate about it. Be It. Action word. Demonstrative. Maybe Nike just drafted off that great statesman and made us all "Just do it."

Whatever, the call to action is now. Be it.

Jung said "Only that which changes, remains true." Truth -- unvarnished, well-vetted and precise.

My favorite quote is from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. In it, a street savvy young man hardened by the realities of the world, tells the princess..." Life is pain and anyone who tells you different is selling something.
Life is pain, hard, unfair and yet also achingly beautiful and transformative when we are walking toward truth.

When the Republicans had their convention and there were signs held high with the monikers...."G.I. John and Superwoman" I knew we were in trouble. They were selling a fantasy!

See, we are not stupid, we are humans, we can think and listen and learn. But if what we are taught is corrupt lies and if we are fed the "family truth" then we are not stupid, we are brainwashed. G.I. John and Superwoman take them away from being mortal humans and put them in to the comic book hero status, Teflon coated, impenetrable and as we are seeing today, in the case of Mrs. Palin, not even held accountable in an interview.

We are not stupid, but we are gullible, to fear, lies, misinformation and calculated deceit and that is what we are now up against and where we need to demonstrate the real change.

More of the same!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Middle Way

I really like this piece by Oliver Willis in the Huffington Post. It is something I have been thinking a lot lately. I regard the contrast between Republican and Democratic positions as night and day. Not good and evil, but I reject the assertion of the hysterical Nader crowd that the two parties are one and the same. I agree that a lot of what comes out of Washington has been ruined by corporate lobbyists who are the scum of the Earth. But the effort and sentiment going in is different. The problem isn’t Congress or even the President. It is our inability to remove the influence of money and power from our legislative process. We have legalized bribery.

Buddhist teaching often refers to the Middle Way. This refers to the Buddhist practice of non-extremism. There is far too much extremism in American society. We are “all or nothing” people. It is difficult to be a moderate in this country. There is a lot of lip service paid to the supposed moderate tendencies of John McCain. That is utter ballyhoo! McCain may not be a religious extremist, but he is still extreme in his view that government should get out of the way and let business take the lead.

I am currently reading Robert Reich’s new book; Supercapitalism, which was released in 2007. The general premise is that capitalism is a system of the economic market. Capitalism is the great empowerer individual interests (wealth), but it is not a good mechanism for the common good. When a democracy is strong it acts as solid counterweight to the singular focus of capitalism. The problem, Reich posits, is that our democratic system has failed and as a result capitalism has run amok in our society growing into supercapitalism.

I think that this is largely the case because business interests have selfishly embarked on a public relations campaign to vilify government and blame it for the economic woes of the working and middle class. It is the nature of capitalism to seek supremacy over any obstacles. The more voters buy into the distorted view of government painted by corporate profiteers the more compelling this case has become. Ultimately business interests have become so powerful that they have kowtowed government. In their selfish pursuit of money they have turned government into their cash cow. Republicans (the party of big business) decry welfare programs but love corporate welfare and no bid contracts for their corporate allies. I think to call Republicans the pro-business party is not that great a stretch. They are pro-business to the exclusion of all other interests. This, in my estimation, is nothing to be proud of. Democrats are invariably cast as anti-business, anti-growth and anti-wealth. This is as false as the former is true. Liberals position themselves as pro-government largely to offset the conservative business only position. I would argue that the liberal heart truly lies in the middle way; a system of checks and balances for our economy with capitalism and democracy as equal and cooperative interests offsetting one another. We need capitalism (business) to create wealth in financial terms just as we need democracy (government) to create wealth in societal terms. We need economic development and economic enrichment.

An economy can not grow in size forever without draining resources in one form or another. An economy can enrich itself in perpetuity. This will require the strengths of both business and government. Neither can succeed without the other.

This is the choice offered on November 4th. It is nothing less than a last gasp chance to save our fragile experiment started so many years ago by founding brothers in Philadelphia. They said: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” There in the very founding document of our great republic is as clear an argument for the role of government as you could ask for. Yes, they were resisting the tyranny of a foreign government, but these were men of law and reason. They understood that a government must be answerable to its people.

Capitalism and democracy have bled together until our government has become cuckolded by the power of the free market. We are seeing the first signs that this could (and should) begin to reverse itself and come into balance. The government’s financial agencies are moving to regulate the market. This is a good sign. A vote for John McCain could well stymie the progress we are beginning to see. The supercapitalists will never allow him to appoint as independent thinking a Treasury Secretary as Hank Paulson. His actions, I argue, have been a surprise to them. And not a pleasant one I would venture to guess.

The Social-Darwinist side of my brain say screw the capitalists, let them choke on their debt, but we can not so unsettle our financial system. Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke have taken small, but necessary, first steps. The Middle Way would dictate introducing some measured and reasoned regulatory mechanisms into the system to ensure that pea-brain MBA don’t screw the taxpayers again. I would urge you to read the article called Obamanomics that was in the New York Times Magazine several weeks ago. A great glimpse of the power of the moderate approach which, it appears is moving into favor in this country among reasonable thinking people.

And not a moment too soon!