Daniel Eran Dilger
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Grading on a Curve in America: the VP Debates

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Daniel Eran Dilger
America is torn between two identities. We like to think of ourselves as smart when laughing at the foolish behavior of others, but we also express disdain for the smug elite. We like to think of ourselves as fair and compassionate team players while also being rugged free market individualists. What exactly are we, apart from being wildly contradictory? The carefully prepared vice presidential debates highlighted and mirrored our nation’s identity. Was it flattering?
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The Science of Opinion.

Americans struggle to express faith and reason at once. It is political suicide to express a lack of religiousness, yet we also demand that leaders be rational and base their decisions on facts.

A recent scientific study suggested that political opinions and our general outlook on world affairs is not simply learned behavior, but is strongly associated with physiological traits present at birth. We are, in effect, born with a moral framework that structures how we will see the world. It is therefore no surprise that, just like other aspects of personality, political views are often expressed as sharp contrasts between generations.

The benefits of diverse political views are essential to survival. If everyone in a community were wildly liberal, experimental risk takers, society could easily fall prey to unrecognized lethal threats. If they were all rigidly conservative control police, everyone would be locked in a perpetual stalemate of panicked fear and drawn guns.

And so it is that we blend and balance our liberal dreams with our conservative fears to make sure that society doesn’t rush outside of the boundaries handed down to us by our parents without thoughtful caution, but that we also measure and challenge and question our beliefs and our understanding of the world to make sure what we know is based on reason and not just a perpetuated historical error.

The Strength of Weakness in Democracy.

This interplay of conservative values and liberal reexaminations culminated in democracy as a grand political experiment. Extreme conservatives have ruled as cool, ruthless dictators that perpetuated unconscionable crimes; extreme liberals have destroyed order in society to introduce horrific experiments in inhumane chaos.

In a democracy, liberal and conservative leaders must work together through shared efforts that challenge each other’s views in order to balance power and hold extreme policy shifts in check. This system is inherently weak. The United States can’t decree the construction of massive public works projects with the brutal efficiency of communist planners, nor can it make decisions on the use of natural resources and industry and the military with the cold authority of fascists.

Instead we have a squabbling government that deliberates and compromises to find complex solutions to difficult problems, balancing the needs of urban and rural areas, rich and poor people, workers and managers, renters and homeowners, factories and farms. It’s messy and complicated, slow and inefficient, easy to complain about and hard to understand sometimes, but the alternatives are simply unthinkable, as the past century has presented in tragic detail.

The Strongest Threat to Democracy.

The American system is easy to exploit. Elected officials can lose sight of the people they are supposed to represent when money gets in the way. Conversely, elections can be dumbed down into marketing slogans so that voters are only selecting an image that does not reflect policy and viewpoints and substance, so that they end up electing a series of figureheads who are then played by unelected ventriloquists behind the scenes.

In order to elect representatives that the population collectively can reach a consensus on in an aggregated vote, those voting must be informed about the people they are selecting between so they know what actions they will take and how they will guide the economy, prepare for future risks, and balance the demands of citizens.

Not knowing the truth or being given false information about candidates is the worst possible threat to democracy. As our political system gathers cruft and as special interests subvert the government to serve the needs of moneyed stakeholders rather than serving the people, democracy shifts from lofty political experiment in the balance of power into a sham formality layered on top of an increasingly rotten system. Decayed democracies provide a fertile bed for the rise of radical dictators and rabid revolutions.

What Did the Debates Say About America’s Democracy?

Heading into the vice presidential debates, many expected fireworks, with both Senator Joe Biden being known for making clumsy misstatements and Governor Sarah Palin as having a reputation for giving glassy eyed blank stares interrupted only by nonsensical strings of prepared phrases that bear little relation to the question asked.

Neither managed to embarrass themselves badly during the debate. Biden seemed to cut his comments too short, but appeared to deliver the message the Barack Obama campaign wanted to get across: John McCain would be four more years of George Bush. Biden pointedly avoided direct criticisms of Palin and instead repeatedly directed his complaints at McCain’s voting record. At one point, Biden responded to Palin’s talk by saying, “I didn’t hear a plan.”

Palin worked hard to present herself as capable to go head to head with a more experienced politician, someone who she had earlier described as giving speeches while she was in grade school. She turned on the folksy charm and described herself repeatedly as a small town mother. She even made the comment that fundamentalist enemies present a threat to “women’s rights,” a curious comment from an evangelical fundamentalist who had just days before told her interviewer that she would oppose a woman’s right to morning after contraceptives even if the woman had been raped by her own father.

When speaking on social issues, Palin describes her views as personal opinions, and has become increasingly insistent that her own opinions would not impact her ability to “tolerate” the views of others. At the same time, Palin is also clear that she wants to overturn Roe v Wade, indicating that her personal views are not simply convictions, but her intended policy for the nation. Why the cagey subterfuge? Because Palin and McCain are working to court the favor of right wing extremists who favor Dominionism: the overthrow of the secular US government with a religious one.

McCain is hardly religious. He’s a craps gambler and a philanderer who had a falling out with the Reagans after he dumped his first wife after cheating on her with a much younger model, who he then married only to have to cover up her drug use and get her off on drug-related felony charges. His original stance on social issues, including abortion, put him at odds with the religious Republican base and cost him the nomination in 2000 when he ran against Bush.

Make-Believe Maverick : Rolling Stone

That’s the Ticket.

Eight years later, McCain recognized that he could not run on the Republican ticket without accommodating the religious right, which clearly played into his pick of Palin as his running mate. Palin turned out to be more than McCain bargained for. Her small town religious roots were tied up in a church where the pastor she credited with getting her elected as governor excises demons and brands individuals as witches who must be chased out of town.

Palin is embroiled in multiple scandals from an active investigation of her Troopergate allegations of improper use of executive power to taking expensive gifts in the model of indicted Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens.

As for her qualifications, Palin lacks any record outside her state. She has served as governor for 20 months over a state with just 650,000 people, fewer than the inhabitants of the 7×7 mile city of San Francisco. During that time, Alaska was awash in oil money to the point where the state pays its residents annual dividends rather than collecting taxes. Palin has no foreign policy experience and demonstrates little curiosity about the world outside her small town, where she continued to live even as governor.

Palin’s mysterious selection as McCain’s running mate leaves a lot unanswered. Besides being an attractive and folksy figurehead to “energize” the religious base excited about her pentacostal background, what does Palin offer McCain? Deep insight into where 4.3% of the country’s oil comes from? An outsider perspective of average Americans, where “average” means being millionaire in a state that pays every citizen and their children thousands of dollars annually in oil money dividends?

Open to Debate.

Political pundits were quick to shower Palin with praise for not delivering any confused gibberish or lengthly blank stares during her debate as she regularly has in her interviews with the press. But in reality, Palin only delivered carefully rehearsed segments that often bore little correlation with the questions she was asked. The format of the debate had also been simplified for Palin so she could avoid being presented with any direct challenges or questions to respond to from Biden.

All Palin had to do smile and deliver prepared lines, something she was qualified to do with her background as a sportscaster. However, as vice president, or acting in the role of an emergency president, Palin will be called on to do more than deliver carefully rehearsed lines she’s had the time to practice for weeks. This wasn’t really a debate expressing the mind of Palin, but a sham presentation of what the McCain ticket wants to show voters.

Biden was quick to answer moderator questions and articulated his ticket’s platform, ranging from tax policy to explaining his position on the Iraq war, diplomacy in the Middle East, economic regulation, and investment in the country’s future. He challenged McCain’s position in foreign policy and economics, repeatedly pointing out that there was little real difference between Bush and McCain.

Palin delivered a series of prepared responses including the complaint that Biden was focusing on past mistakes rather than future plans. She sidestepped comparisons with Bush without presenting any real policy differences, only acknowledging that mistakes were made and that her ticket promised change described only in generalities that sounded like they were written by Ned Flanders.

Palin also avoided any strong comments on social issues, managing to agree with Biden on support for gay rights to hospital visitation, insurance, and other civil matters. In an earlier interview, Palin spoke of a female friend who was gay but “not her gay friend,” whom she described as having made “a decision I wouldn’t have made” to be gay. If Palin disagrees with the scientific and medial community on the nature of sexual identity, how can she be qualified to make policy decisions on civil rights? Would she be taken seriously if she had said ‘African Americans choose to be black, a decision she tolerated but wouldn’t have made herself’?

Palin also talked about wanting to limit spending and the size of government, only to go off on a tangent about the importance of education and paying teachers well. You can’t have small government taxes and big government services at the same time, unless you live in oil-subsidized Alaska, or ring up massive deficits, or both as Palin has as a small town mayor. Palin doesn’t seem to see the problem in speaking enthusiastically about shrinking and growing government in the same breath.

Palin also spoke of a ‘passion for diplomacy’ she got from meeting Henry Kissinger, only to denigrate Obama for considering the idea of starting or continuing talks with enemy nations, something Kissinger has supported since the presidency of Richard Nixon, where he pursued a policy of détente involving talks with the Soviet Union and China in the early 70s. Palin also delivered the line, “Some of these dictators hate America and what we stand for. They cannot be met with. That is beyond bad judgment. That is dangerous.”

How about saber rattling with Russia: is that dangerous?

The War

On the war in Iraq, Biden stated, “Barack says its time for them [Iraq] to spend their own money, have the 400,000 military we’ve trained for them begin to take their own responsibility, and gradually over 16 months withdraw. John McCain, this is a fundamental difference between us: we will end this war; for John McCain there is no end in sight to end this war. Fundamental difference: we will end this war.”

Palin briefly hit bottom in a four second pause before responding, “your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq. And that is not what our troops need to hear today that’s for sure and it’s not what our nation needs to be able to count on.” Palin voiced support for having no plans to leave Iraq until “the Iraqi government can govern its people, and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people, and our commanders on the ground will tell us when those conditions have been met.”

The commanders “are knowing again that we’re getting closer and closer to that point, that victory that’s within sight,” Palin said. She also seemed to describe Vietnam as a victory in stating that McCain “knows how to win a war.”

Mavericks Outside the Law

Palin also repeatedly sought to brand herself and McCain as mavericks, but Biden replied, “Look, let’s talk about the maverick John McCain is. And again I love him, he’s been a maverick on some issues but he’s been no maverick on things that a matter people’s lives. He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget which put us half a trillion in debt this year and over three trillion in debt since he got there. He has not been a maverick in providing healthcare for people. He voted against including another 3.6 million children in coverage of an existing health care plan in the United States Senate. He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college, he’s not been a maverick on the war, not been a maverick on virtually anything that generally affects the things people really talk about around the kitchen table.”

Palin also made odd references about looking into ways the power of the vice presidency could be expanded, and endorsed Dick Cheney’s description of the vice president as being outside the executive branch and therefore above the law regarding rules pertaining to the security of classified information. That controversial comment by Cheney last year was later backpedaled by the Bush administration, making Palin’s agreement with it even more embarrassing. In contrast, Biden described Cheney as “the most dangerous vice president in American history.”

When interviewed earlier about the worst thing Cheney has done as vice president, Biden answered, “I think he’s done more harm than any other single elected official in memory in terms of shredding the constitution. You know — condoning torture. Pushing torture as a policy. This idea of a unitary executive. Meaning the Congress and the people have no power in a time of war.” Palin’s answer to the same question: “I guess that would have been the duck hunting accident — where, you know, that was an accident.”

Presidental Questions, – CBS News

Eh for Effort

After two humiliating weeks of increasingly bad poll numbers along with the embarrassing interviews Palin gave where she consistently talked in circles to fill space while ignoring questions, spoke around issues with strings of simple prepared political jingles, and found herself at a loss to name any Supreme Court case other than Roe v Wade and separately to name any newspaper she’s ever read, her carefully prepared performance at the debate was a high point for the Republican ticket in comparison.

The folksy charm was no doubt injected intentionally, but it could only have been a distraction from her performance as a vice presidential candidate to anyone who wasn’t already sold on her. Is America really finding it acceptable to replace serious candidates who are informed and aware of the world around them with a celebrity figure who can barely recite her lines?

The debate revealed a few new perspectives into Palin: her desire to expand the power of the vice presidency and her intent to keep playing up the role as a Middle American, middle class soccer mom in an after school special farce about running with a man twice her age for the highest office in America. How exactly she plans to usher in her maverick changes and “clean up Washington” is hidden away in piles of folksy talk about generalities. It’s almost if we’re being treated at too dumb to know.

What is most disturbing isn’t that Palin has extremist religious or conservative views, but that American as a whole isn’t outraged that their system of democracy is being mocked by a flippant candidate who is quick to toss out snappy sitcom style insults at her opponents, who chooses to speak in a grating tone that comes across as insincere populist pandering, and who issues contradictory blather without any cues that suggest either embarrassment or an awareness that she’s saying nothing.

America seems to be stuck within a reality TV contest, viewing Palin as just another eccentric character looking for an American Idol break or a Bravo channel modeling gig. As the economy enters crisis, serious diplomatic challenges loom, and the country staggers away from eight years of a disastrous presidency, an illegitimate war started on a lie, the international embarrassment of war crimes, torture camps, and a president who acts like a hungover dropout on probation, it’s not just scary that Palin could potentially win, but a national disgrace that she is on the ballot.

Other articles on current events:

The Big Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Attack
Osama Bin Laden’s Dream of US Economic Collapse
You Know the Drill?
Ten Striking Parallels Between Microsoft and John McCain
Obama’s Apple, McCain’s Microsoft: the Politics of Tech
Terrorist Criminal Links to the Presidential Candidates

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  • nelsonart

    It’s pretty clear that FM and FM were primary causes of this mortgage mess, with the Dems lapping up contributions all along the way.

    Here, let me quote Clinton in a recent interview:
    “I think the responsibility that the Democrats have may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was President to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

    And a little more:

    Just last summer, Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd called a Bush proposal for an independent agency to regulate the two entities “ill-advised.”

    There is plenty of blame to spread around, but certainly more goes to ill advised liberal policies that aimed to get people who couldn’t afford homes into homes.

    On the other hand, we’ve made money on the past 5 ‘bailouts’ and it’s likely we will make a little return on this one as well, assuming the market recovers and the credit tightening eases.

    At that point, the Dems will reverse course and attempt to take credit for the ‘crisis.’

  • Lee

    “Why do you think all the innovation occurs in America?”

    It doesn’t. You just think it does because many Americans automatically think that everything good comes from the U.S.

    “Capitalism, free markets, a govt. that gets out of your way as much as possible, low taxes. Think of low taxes as INCENTIVE to work hard. Low taxes also encourage risk taking.”

    Again, if you don’t understand what market failure is, you have no business talking about tax, because you simply do not understand why we pay tax. We pay tax because markets don’t work efficiently to provide many of the goods we need.

    Higher income people pay higher taxes because if we had a flat tax rate, it would cause massive social problems as people at the low end would be hit hard.

    It’s not rocket science. Every developed country has a welfare state and a progressive income tax. It’s not a conspiracy – it is done this way because it works.

    “High taxes imply that the govt. knows best. In America, having politicians make your choices on how to live and what’s good for you is not very popular.”

    That’s because the government does know best in certain circumstances. Or rather (to be more accurate) in certain circumstances individuals may know their own situations best, but their aggregate decision making makes them worse off than if they allowed themselves to be compelled to take another option. It’s called a collective action problem and is a basic economic concept. As I said, if you don’t understand collective action problems, you don’t understand why we pay tax, and if you don’t understand that, you have zero to contribute to the debate.

    Canada is not the 52nd state, nor are the Europeans in some terrible trouble. The right have been saying this for over 4 decades now and their dire predictions never come true. The “brain drain” is my favourite. It’s a pathetic partisan exaggeration.

    The United States has the highest GDP of any nation, yet it produces a lower standard of living for its citizens. It’s a textbook case of an inefficient society.

  • nelsonart

    Lee,

    I don’t think many Americans would trade with Europeans. We like our big homes and abundant property, big screen HD LCDs, Apple Computers (invented here) with those fast Intel CPUs (invented here) that run both Windows (invented here) and OSX (invented here).

    Americans don’t particularly like to save, but that hasn’t done Japan a lot of good. Turns out, spending is good. It makes our economy hum. It creates a demand that is satisfied by many entrepreneurs seeking to profit handsomely.

    We all understand where govt. provides for the masses. We get roads and national defense and certain broad social programs. Also, unless I don’t know my math, we have a progressive tax system now, and have for quite some time.

    All I’m saying is lower taxes are better than higher taxes. When taxes are too high, it discourages people from taking on risk. There goes your innovation (and jobs).

    I’m sure there are measures where many countries beat us. They have free health care, a populace that has abundant free time, perhaps enormous natural resources and a smaller population. Who knows. Canada is a nice place, for sure. I’m glad you like it. They come down here, to America, where our innovated, invented here, worldclass medical procedures offer care they cannot get up there. Especially if time is of the essence.

    Don’t be jealous of us. We like Europe. We like Canada. We are glad they are moving in our direction. Emulation is flattery.

  • LuisDias

    They come down here, to America, where our innovated, invented here, worldclass medical procedures offer care they cannot get up there. Especially if time is of the essence.

    BWAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!

  • Realtosh

    @ nelsonart

    “On the other hand, we’ve made money on the past 5 ‘bailouts’ ”

    Sorry to beat up on one of the few non-liberal-echo-chamber voices on this blog, but this doesn’t sound right.

    We lost bundles on the S&L Bailout.

    Warren Buffet seems to think that if the Treasury buys the bad mortgage securities at market value, that the taxpayers would likely earn a profit on the $700 Billion expended buying these currently toxic securities. Warren even said that he has appetite for taking 1% of the US Treasury Bailout Pool, as an investment.

    The best thing we can do as taxpayers would e to take Warren Buffet up on his offer. Let Warren Buffet participate in the recapitalization of the financial sector, plus offer this potential investment to other billionaires as well an investment funds and pension funds, so that we can make some money back from this mess. But only if Warren Buffet has some skin in the game. 1% would be $7Billion of Bershire Hathaway money invested. That sounds like the right amount for Warren Buffet to have a vested interest to make sure that Bailout actually does right by the US taxpayers.

    (You see I’m always very protective of the US taxpayer.)

  • jecrawford

    As a UK Conservative, I found Dan’s discourse on the American political situation most informative. And he uses facts wherever possible to support his views (unlike other participants on this forum). It’s great that he takes a stance unashamedly too!

    I enjoy the technical articles too, including his uncompromising stance on MicroSoft and journalistic hacks,

  • Realtosh

    @ LuisDias

    “They come down here, to America, where our innovated, invented here, worldclass medical procedures offer care they cannot get up there. Especially if time is of the essence.

    BWAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!”

    You may laugh, but it’s true. As you can attest, in most countries with socialized medicine, a natural market of medical insurance has sprouted up to give those who can afford to pay a higher level of care than is available from the public health care system.

    Luis, tell us. Isn’t it true that many of not most of the best and highest-paid white-collar jobs in your country come with medical insurance. I know of many folks living in you city who tell me it is so. I also know of many people who have to wait months or years for procedures, that were deemed medically necessary. But then again they were provided free by the government.

    Neither system is better than the other necessarily. I predict that most industrialized countries will have a blend of socialized and private medicine. Those countries with socialized medicine will continue to develop private medical insurance. The US will likely continue on its’ creep toward further provision of medicine through government. Over time, the two systems will move toward each other.

    Here in the US, we don’t invest enough in preventive medicine, and we don’t make health care available equally to all of our residents. But we do have the best, most innovation healthcare in the care in the world. The most monied classes from many countries come to the US for healthcare procedures. Likewise, many lower income (middle class) folks will travel abroad to get elective procedure done for much less than in the US.

    But that is no reason to “BWAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!”

    Not seeing to points that the others are making is to limit what one can learn from others.

  • Realtosh

    @ gus 2000

    “Jingo bells
    Jingo bells
    Jingo all the way”

    ROTFLOL

    I’m sorry that this is part of the name calling that is coming from some of our more liberal adherents on this blog, for which there is a double standard, but..

    [Jingoism is a description of the content free, buzzword-based (Socialist!! Liberal!!) non-argument rhetoric gushing you engage in. It’s not name calling to label your style as short on meaning and long on emotionalistic pandering.

    You do nothing but call names, attribute motives, and stuff words into the mouths of those you disagree with, without making any effort to understand their position. That’s why I have a hard time taking your comments seriously. If you want to be part of the discussion, you have to participate, not just copy/paste in talking points from some extremist blog and try to drown out others by sheer volume. ]

    This was funny as hell. Thanks.

  • LuisDias

    Luis, tell us. Isn’t it true that many of not most of the best and highest-paid white-collar jobs in your country come with medical insurance.

    I wouldn’t know. As you clearly say, it’s a “white collar” job thing, and I’m definitely one of those. It says nothing really. That money can buy you things is a truism.

    I also know of many people who have to wait months or years for procedures, that were deemed medically necessary. But then again they were provided free by the government.

    I’m not going to defend my country, that suffers from greater evils than “socialism” or “capitalism”. But, taking your point, you see, here we have a choice. We can decide to pay more and get private health care (which isn’t the beautiful landscape many people paint), or simply go to the state health care. It has faults? Of course it has. But the situation is very complicated, it has its roots in the heterogeneity of the economic landscape, corruption, etc., and to simplify it to a “state vs private” is, well, simplistic.

    The core concept of market failure should be evident in health care plans. While some one buys a health care plan, all is roses and we have rights to everything. When you do have medical issues, the health care companies will assist you. The problem is that when someone stops being a case of profit for the insurance health company, there is a strong motif to “drop” him/her. People in very bad shape will not have the energy to fight the disease and the medical health company at the same time. People will then pay everything they can to save their asses, even if they were covered (but somehow the company had written a subliminal exception, or finds one, or creates one) thus ruining personal wealth.

    This is not rocket science. It’s bound to happen. State health care is not perfect, no one said it is. It has failures too, inefficiencies, relaxation, lack of ambition, etc.

    Still, to state that the US care is better than the canadians, is so mind blowingly ignorant that I can’t type anything else than a big LOL

  • LuisDias

    edit: “As you clearly say, it’s a “white collar” job thing, and I’m definitely not one of those. (Wish I was!!)

  • Realtosh

    You write
    “We can decide to pay more and get private health care (which isn’t the beautiful landscape many people paint), or simply go to the state health care. It has faults? Of course it has.”

    Sounds much like what I wrote earlier…

    “Neither system is better than the other necessarily. I predict that most industrialized countries will have a blend of socialized and private medicine. Those countries with socialized medicine will continue to develop private medical insurance. The US will likely continue on its’ creep toward further provision of medicine through government. Over time, the two systems will move toward each other.”

    I was just making the point that some folks say my dog is so much better than your dog (from both sides of the health care divide). Both styles of health care have pluses and minuses.

    I didn’t mean to attack you necessarily. I just used your laughter at a true statement — that many folks do come to the states for medical care — to make a greater point — about so many people just saying mine is better than yours, or laughing at the other guy’s dog — does not contribute to as fruitful a discourse, as we all deserve here.

    Socialist medicine is no panacea. I just happened to know some problems about the system over there so I shared them. I do not use that to mean that our system doesn’t have problems, just that we can’t afford to laugh at the other guy’s dog, without understanding what works and doesn’t work with each system.

    I can point out lots of problems in the system over here:
    1) We don’t spend enough on preventative medicine.
    2) We spend too much on procedures.
    3) Our specialist make too much money.
    4) while our general practitioners don’t make enough, and are overworked.

    A family doctor in a sole practice needs to work 70-80 hours/week in most cases, sometimes more. Between scheduled office hours, hospital rounds, checking in on patients in the hospital (or at hospital as our Brit friends say), taking calls day and night from sick patients, etc, etc. They hardly see their own family, and often only see their kids in bed sleeping.

    We have a procedure driven health care system, because procedures drive revenue. For example we’ll spend more than $70,000 to move people’s teeth around in their mouth so that their teeth “sit better” in their mouth.

    I’ve looked in my own mouth. My teeth are also grating a bit and wearing a bit unevenly. But my vanity isn’t such that I need an expensive surgical procedure to relieve self-esteem issues that I may have or not. (Disclaimer, I make no implications about anyone else’s need for medical care, or psychological state. I just use this example which can be seen through multiple points of view.)

    I would rather spend that money on childhood healthcare, preventative screening for chronic disease, nutrition and health education. But that’s just me.

    Calling for more of this expensive health care for everybody that the government is going to be on the hook for, is just going to lead us further down our trail to national bankruptcy.

    We do need to find ways to provide better primary care and preventative care to as many of our population as we can. But the notion that we all deserve expensive medical procedures because we were born in the US, or happen to live here at this moment, instead of Botswana or El Salvador, is not at all clear.

    We need to fix some fundamental aspects of our health care system before we start asking the federal government to pay for even more of this often misdirected health care.

    For example, Michael Bloomberg (lifelong Democrat turned Republican to run for Mayor of New York turned Independent to see about his chances at running for President) as Mayor of New York outlawed smoking in public places like restaurants and workplaces. He then outlawed trans fat in foods served in NY restaurants or sold in NY stores. He has also pushed some preventative measures that some of our more conservative constituents might not be too excited about.

    Bloomberg did more with these simple measures to improve health care outcomes of many New Yorkers than almost anything else done by anyone else in government, in medicine, or in public health in many years.

    Again in you’ll have civil libertarians on the left, and the deregulation get government off our backs restaurant associations on the right to oppose these pragmatic steps, before the results came in. There was increased traffic in New York’s restaurants after they became smoke-free.

    Blommberg is also fiscally prudent. He runs the City like he was running Bloomberg LP, his information company that he started when he was fired from Wall Street, and with which he made $Billions.

    Although, he’s a bit too liberal in his social policy for my taste, he’s the kind of candidate that I would support, because he makes the tough choices and pragmatic decisions that lead to better quality of life for citizens and a government that doesn’t live beyond its’ means, in a manner that is not partisan.

  • nelsonart

    @ Realtosh,

    Yeah, the accepted cost of the S&L to taxpayers accumulates to roughly $153B. I had read that statement about the final profit for the last 5 bailouts from Ric Edelman, where he obviously factors in profit not available to the govt. as a whole.

    Actually, I’m not quite sure how he arrives at that statement, but he’s no dummy, so I emailed him for clarification. If I get a chance, I’ll spurt it out somewhere else or if you want, I’ll email you.

    I agree with Luis and Realtosh that some form of govt. provided care is probably the direction we are headed…Medicare/aid already does some 30% and we aren’t getting great CARE for our overspending on this important area. But we are getting world-class technology and discovery, even if it’s horrendously expensive.

    The evil of it is the same concept (incentive… or motive for profit) that creates these great discoveries is also the barrier to availability due to the high cost.

    We have too many inefficiencies. I read on Wikipedia that about 50% of out health dollars vaporize in the labyrinth of insurance companies, legal abuses, govt. deliver inefficiencies, etc.

    We can do better. No one should be wiped out financially from illness in this country. But whatever we end up with, the best solution will probably be forged out of a republican congress/dem president.

    On taxes: no one knows that magical point where we maximize revenue. Substitute ‘price’ for tax and you can readily see how it works. You can raise prices and sometimes revenues go up. Sometimes your overshoot and people CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR and total revenues (TR) decline. Sometimes you can have a sale and TR increases. That’s the beef with taxation.

    I think Bush’s tax cuts unleashed a lot of capital gain activity and encouraged a lot of small businesses to take the plunge. I don’t think we need tax relief at the very top, but it’s hard to give to those in the 250K-1M zone without also giving to those in the stratosphere.

    No one liked Clinton’s retroactive hikes. They were too high. As a part owner of a financial services firm, I saw much ‘blowback’ from those high taxes. Much of which we are paying the price for now.

  • Realtosh

    For the liberals who hate admitting that they are liberals:

    [This kind of trolling is why you are no longer welcome to post. You’re citing a right wing publication to explain why Obama is “rated” as liberal-for-american-senator? What’s next, an exposé written by vampires about how Obama walks out in the sunlight during the day?]

    “when the National Journal released its 2007 vote ratings– which ranked Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) the ‘most liberal senator in 2007…’ ” (I removed the link because of discriminatory moding policy on this blog.)

    The following are the “Composite Liberal Score” and the “Liberal Ranking Among All Senators” for 2 example Senators.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton Barak Obama
    Score Ranking Score Ranking
    2001 76.3 25th –
    2002 86.7 12th –
    2003 88.8 8th –
    2004 71.0 34th –
    2005 79.8 20th 82.5 16th
    2006 70.2 32th 86.0 10th

    2007 82.8 16th 95.5 1st

    “A March 4, 2004, Wall Street Journal editorial read: “The National Journal, a center-left magazine, reports that Mr. Kerry had the most liberal such record in the entire Senate last year, to the left even of Ted Kennedy.” Additionally, a July 7, 2004, Wall Street Journal editorial stated: “The National Journal reports that in 2003 [then-Sen.] Mr. [John] Edwards [D-NC] had the fourth most liberal voting record in the Senate (after only Maryland’s Paul Sarbanes [D], Jack Reed of Rhode Island [D] and Mr. Kerry himself).”

    Don’t blame the messenger. If you a have a beef with the scoring or ranking take it up with the National Journal. It’s not make cause what liberals consider to be liberal or not. It is also not my cause that some liberals don’t accept their own badge. Further, it is not my cause that many, if not most Americans don’t feel themselves to be liberals politically, and if given a non-disguised choice will usually choose against liberal policy.

    Don’t take my word on this matter, but my guess is that the National Journal is trying to embrace the liberal term, which some of you hate when associated with liberal policy.

    Better to ask why do our primary party elections chose such extreme candidates for national office, on both sides. This is not a Democrats are evil statement. Although, the Democrats never fail to chose among the most liberal candidates for President each election cycle, the Republicans also chose Bush instead of McCain 8 years ago. Even though Bush wasn’t the most conservative candidate running, he did open the White House door to neocons, which turns out to have been worse.

    Imagine how different our world would be, if McCain had won. Since the neocons attacked McCain throughout the primary election cycle that there is no doubt that they would’ve on the outs in a McCain administration. Rumsfeld and Cheney would’ve never stepped foot in the White House. Powell wouldn’t have left after the first term. He and McCain are on friendly terms, and have worked together over the years for the good of our country.

    Bush didn’t control the undue influence of the neocons until it was too late. Without the neocons walking freely through the White House, we wouldn’t have rushed into Iraq recklessly. America and the world would be in a very different place today.

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    McCain is playing into the hands of the same neocons as Bush.

    I see the right wing rushing to the conclusion that if only they had elected McCain in 2000, all this evil of Bush wouldn’t have happened… SO LETS TRY MCCAIN NOW!

    This would make more sense if the same people who discovered this ploy hadn’t been cheerleading for Bush over the last 8 years. What happened four years ago when you were all telling us what an excellent job Bush had done? Clearly, you’re not a very reliable source for guiding the direction of the country.

    McCain probably would have made a better president than Bush in 2000. He wasn’t 73 then, hadn’t dropped all of his principles to pander to the extreme elements of the right, including the war mongering neocons, and in 2000, the country wasn’t aware of how disastrous the McCain/Phil Gramm policies of “deregulation at all cost” would ultimately turn out to be.

    However, a hypothetical 2000 race between the slightly more moderate McCain and Al Gore would likely have gone to Gore as incumbent without the Republicans tapping the extremist right in a coalition play. McCain would have lost Florida without Bush’s vote destruction.

    Rather than using the 9/11 tragedy as a springboard for trying to take over the Middle East by invading Iraq, Gore would likely have united the nation in efforts to target terrorism where it was actually centered. Base on the intelligence already gathered by the Clinton administration (and ignored by Bush), the attack may have even been prevented.

    The US would have have trillions more to invest domestically, trillions less debt to China, 4000 more living soldiers to defend the country, 30,000 fewer disabled veterans to apologize to, no international scandal involving torture camps and war crimes, and an economy based on clean energy jobs rather than a house of cards debt market related to securitized mortgage packages.

    The same things can be said about Democrats winning in 2004. The problem in both elections wasn’t Bush, it was the Republican party corrupted by neocons.

    McCain and the Republican party are still corrupted by neocons. Another four years of fear, torture (McCain voted against then voted for torture), and dead wrong economic policy won’t make up for 8 years of Bush, it will compound the disastrous debt Bush started.

  • jdoc

    Daniel: Even your speculation is becoming nauseating. You have no idea whether or not Gore/Kerry/pick-your-democrat-of-choice would have done a better or worse job than the current administration. Chances are, they wouldn’t have. Also, I’d love to see this ‘Clinton intelligence’ that nobody, including his wife, paid any attention to when the US decided to go into Iraq.

    McCain is a moderate Republican- he says so, and his record backs him up. He has always been against torture- he has voted that way, and he explains why in his book. So you’re dead wrong on those issues.

    As far as the economy goes- you’d be best off blaming Frank, Dodd, Obama (thanks to his ties to Acorn and campaign contributions from the now defunct FM/FM) and pretty much the rest of the Democratic party- they constantly fought against the numerous warnings from the Republicans over the past decade, including legislation attempts from McCain and Bush (gasp! Bush warned about the impending economy collapse? Yep, dozens of times- all blocked by the Dems.).

    You Dems can fight for entitlement programs and wealth redistribution all you want, until you realize that it just doesn’t work and will only make things worse. Will Obama still raise taxes on ANYONE once he takes office? Will he come through with his promises to the middle class? No, he won’t. Just as Bill Clinton didn’t when he took office in ’92. Look up the facts folks, before you pass judgment. It’s a shame- I thought Daniel was such a good tech writer. But his recent opinionated political diatribes have got me wondering…

    [You are unable to cite specifics because you are wrong. Repeating generalities about “wealth redistribution” is not the same a citing facts. The reason Clinton was unable to cut taxes was the larger than expected deficit he inherited from Bush Sr. The tax breaks offered by Bush Jr. were only possible because Clinton turned the economy around. Bush has since driven up the deficit and killed any hope of a balanced budget.

    Meanwhile, he has redistributed wealth to overwhelmingly favor the politically connected and has penalized the middle class with high energy costs rather that pursing domestic alternative energy. Your position doesn’t even make sense, even if you could articulate it.]

  • jdoc

    @nelsonart:

    “We have too many inefficiencies. I read on Wikipedia that about 50% of out health dollars vaporize in the labyrinth of insurance companies, legal abuses, govt. deliver inefficiencies, etc.”

    This is the closest statement to the truth that I’ve seen on any public forum/blog that I’ve read in the past year or two. I’ve said this before- people in this country want great healthcare no matter how they get it. The insurance companies are responsible for the direct cost to consumers/businesses, NOT doctors, hospitals, etc. The insurance companies, including the Meds, pay the doctors/hospitals whatever they wish to, based on some formulas that they have devised over the years. They profit nicely- for example, in Pennsylvania alone (the state in which I practice medicine), the private insurance companies have $6Billion in their coffers. That’s your money folks! They’re raping the public left and right. What’s more is, trying to get the money from them is worse that pulling teeth- we have employees whose sole job in our office is to harass the insurance companies for the money that they owe us. We’re about 2 months out in our A/R, which isn’t bad overall compared to the rest of the country. There are many more issues involving the insurance companies, but I won’t bore you.

    Last point- one of the major cost contributors is medical malpractice. Too many lawsuits, too much defensive medicine, outrageous med/mal insurance rates. Neither candidate for pres has a perfect health plan, but conspicuously absent from Obama’s is any kind of tort reform. McCain and the Republicans have fought for tort reform for years. Don’t expect ANY form of tort reform from Obama- he’s a liberal Civil Rights attorney. The ABA has him in their back pockets, just as they did the Clinton’s.

    [When asked by Fox News for an example of crossing party lines when Rebublicans offered a good idea, Obama answered, “I voted for a tort reform measure that was fiercely opposed by the trial lawyers, I got attacked pretty hard from the left,” referring to the February 2005 vote for S. 5, the Class Action Fairness Act.]

  • nelsonart

    jdoc,

    I agree. One walk downtown and you can see where our health care dollars are going. The largest buildings are insurance companies. They have rigged the game so that instead of spreading risk, they get to pick and choose who they cover and what they pay out.

    The health care system is so clogged up because of these huge players that in order to fix it, it’s going to take tort reform, massive insurance reform, medical malpractice reforms, and a serious look at preventative care and laws to reign in false advertising by fast food, tobacco companies, and even the vendors in our kids’ schools. And there’s probably quite a few that I left out.

    Dad, as far as Clinton having some special information that could have/would have prevented 9/11, why didn’t he make a stink? As with Kosovo, was he worried about his polling numbers? I question this whole concept because Clinton had Osama in his sights and decided not to take him out. So cheerleading about killing Osama, at least from Bill, seems a bit disingenuous.

    Bush was our Jimmy Carter. No one can deny that. But to put the label on all repubs seems silly and shortsighted. There are repubs that are fiscally conservative and socially sorta liberal. Whatever the case, we do better with true moderates.

    Lastly, this utopia that you speak of that’s just a democratic vote away – maybe we’ll get the chance to see just what the Dems are capable of, since they could have ample power to cram their agendas through congress. I’m not holding my breath. Robbing the productive among us to pay for the slackers doesn’t sound like a winning combo. Yes, that’s oversimplification, but if I’m going to get taken to the cleaners, my behavior will change. I will lay off, cut back, reduce benefits, etc. Whatever it takes to maximize my return for my time. Multiply this a few million times over. Economic hardship.

    [Yes, it is an oversimplification to describe providing tax relief to 95% of middle class Americans as “robbing the productive to pay for the slackers.” Do you think that the top 5% of the nation is “producing,” and that 95% are slacking? Maybe you should reexamine who does the work, and who sits around on top of a pyramid of legal tax havens and loopholes while making money off money. The current economic crisis is rooted in deregulated sham inventions of the securities markets, not real productivity.]

  • nelsonart

    Did I just call Dan Dad? Oops.

  • bergump

    Dan, I regularly consider your articles as the standard by which I hold other writers to. Your political posts however, lack that excellence you posses about technology. Maybe politics is one area you should avoid since your image is not enhanced in belittling the views of others you don’t understand.

    Many voice their opinion but fewer have understanding and wisdom. We should strive to broaden our scope by learning from failed societies in history. What made this country great was its distrust of government by the limiting of its powers and enhancing personal liberty as expressed in the constitution. There is far more wisdom in the average man than most experts are willing to acknowledge. Only a people of self discipline will we be capable of self government. As morality declines, external rule and slavery will rise.

    Have we lost so much integrity that we will also forfeit our right to self govern? We either master ourselves or we will become mastered. Are we really that ignorant that we seek external (governmental) solutions to all our problems?

    [When you talk about “personal liberty,” are you advocating the kind of civil rights that the Bush administration has taken away? And when you describe “self government” and “morality decline” are you repudiating the three trillion dollars of unaccountable spending of the Bush administration, its pushing of an illegitimate war that has killed 3,000 US soldiers, wounded tens of thousands of our soldiers, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, state sponsored torture camps, and so on?

    When you talk about “seeking external (governmental) solutions to all of our problems” are you referencing Reagan’s plan to do nothing to help the economy and push businesses to solve the problems themselves, a complete 180 from the Bush Bailout seeking somewhere around a trillion dollars of debt relief for unregulated banking disasters?

    If you’re going to call me out for a “lack of excellence” in my comments on current events, please at least articulate what exactly you are talking about, because that’s the conversation I’d like to hear.]

  • Realtosh

    Dan,

    Explain why the Democrats obstructed legislation that would have created appropriate regulation for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that would have curtailed FM/FM involvement in risky mortgage products. It was the liquidity caused by these quasi-governmental entities with the full backing of the Federal Treasury and the US taxpayer, that created this whole mess, that we’re now dealing with.

    [No it wasn’t. Republicans are trying to blame the poor for taking out loans they couldn’t afford, but the problem is banks extending risky loans and then securitizing those debts and setting up unregulated fictional accounting methods for creating fake value and hiding debts. This is the same thing Enron was doing, which McCain supported as a gift to his (second) wife. McCain has pushed a deregulation agenda throughout his career.

    You can copy/past in all the right wing lies you want, but McCain wasn’t trying to regulate FM/FM, nor did he understand the economic problems – HE POINTEDLY SAID SEVERAL TIMES ON VIDEO THAT HE HAS NO REAL UNDERSTANDING ABOUT ECONOMIC ISSUES. Trying to give him credit as being the regulation savior that the democrats denied is just more of the raging bullshit you spew so frequently.

    The democrats retroactively screwed up the economy in two years while the all powerful Bush White House passively allowed them to do all this? Right. The Republicans have controlled the country over the last 8 years and obstructed Clinton in his second term with their hypocritical moralist bullshit. Suddenly the results of all their failed policies fall upon the democrats? Your hyperbolic nonsense would be entertaining if if wasn’t so scary. ]

    Why did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac give so much money, to the tune of millions of dollars to US Senators and Representatives? These legislators have the power to set the rules by which FM/FM operated. (Now that it’s toolate, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac need a massive bailout, and are expected to be phased out of existence over the next few years.)

    [So FM/FM gave money to Obama to get the Bush Bailout? What planet are you from?]

    Top Recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
    Campaign Contributions, 1989-2008

    1. Dodd, Christopher J S D-CT $133,900
    2. Kerry, John S D-MA $111,000
    3. Obama, Barak S D-IL $105,849
    4. Hillary Clinton S D-NY $75,550
    5. Kanjorski, Paul E H D-PA $65,500
    6. Bennet, Robert F S R-UT $61,499
    7. Johnson, Tim S D-SD $61,000
    8. Conrad, Kent S D-ND $58,991

    Includes contributions from PACs and individuals.
2008 cycle totals based on data downloaded from the
Federal Election Commission on June 30, 2008.
    [source: opensecrets dot org]

    (Furthermore, fully 16 of the top 25 recipients in the past 10 years are Democrats. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shared their dirty money with both Democrats and republicans, but they knew who they could count on for favorable legislation and for protection from sensible legislation.)

    [Look at who everyone is giving money to, including Microsoft: the Democrats. Because its obvious the democrats are going to storm the Senate and very likely take over the White House. Why do you find this pattern of campaign donations difficult to understand? ]

    The Democrats always resisted any any and all restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Reasonable restrictions would’ve prevented this mortgage collapse and the financial sector meltdown. This would be an example of appropriate regulation where it counts.

    [More unsubstantiated misinformation. The economic crisis comes from deregulated markets where Republican greed got out of hand, not from Democrats working to put the middle class in houses. As a greed infatuated, blind Republicant all you can do is spin things around. The truth is pretty obvious. Bush’s failed policies, supported overwhelmingly by McCain, have come to roost.]

    All this talk on deregulation is so misleading. The last thing our economy needs is lots of new regulation legislation. It would be sufficient to cut out the loopholes by regulating all financial institutions with the same rules (similar to the London scheme of financial regulation), and to reverse the lax enforcement and to reverse the leverage limits increased by the SEC in 2004.

    [You don’t seem to understand that regulation is the rule of law. Markets can’t operate without laws, which history clearly demonstrates. Republicans always create economic depression when given the opportunity to control the entire government because their greed is too insatiable, nearly as bad as their contempt for working people.]

    Our mess was almost entirely caused by

    1) Primarily that the Fannie Mae /Freddie Mac quasi-governmental entities provided the backing of the US taxpayer and with it the liquidity for risky mortgage securities that made this whole mess possible.

    [Totally wrong. There is not any explicit US backing of the secondary mortgage market, and who knows what you have in mind with “risky mortgage securities.” You’re talking out your ass again. ]

    2) SEC extended investment bank leverage from 12 to 1 to 33 to 1, making investment banks bets and debts larger, and their required capital reserves smaller. Wall St sliced and diced this risky FM/FM paper and spread it all around the global financial system.

    [SEC relaxed regulations due to pressure from the Bush administration, Phil Gramm and John “fundamentally a deregulator” McCain. ]

    3) Also hedge-funds were largely unregulated, holding only money of high-net worth individuals gave them a loophole since “rich folks didn’t need to be protected from their bad investments”. They could make bets of whatever risk without any regulation.

    [SEC relaxed regulations due to pressure from the Bush administration, Phil Gramm and John “fundamentally a deregulator” McCain. ]

    To avoid this mess we needed to have severely curtailed these quasi-governmental entities (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) ability to diversify into risky mortgage products, which McCain tried to limit, but the Democrats blocked.

    [More bullshit. The SEC relaxed regulations due to pressure from the Bush administration, Phil Gramm and John “fundamentally a deregulator” McCain. ]]

    We also need to make sure that rules are the same across the board for all financial institutions. There should not be special exemptions for investment banks, nor hedge funds. The SEC not only allowed investment banks to increase their leverage ratios but than were very lax in reviewing and investigating their activities.

    Regulation should be more uniform across all types of financial institutions, and enforcement should not be lax.

    [So now you’re rooting for Obama? Maybe you should spend three days working on your note cards before you Palin it all out for us.]

    But at the core, the reason why all these risky bets were made by so many was because of the implied guarantee of the US Treasury made by the FM/FM participation in this secondary market securitization of mortgages.

    It’s still possible that we’ll make money on the $700 Billion bailout, but then have to turn around and pay most of it back to honor guarantees made by Fannie or Freddie. History will call this the Fannie and Freddie Bailout and Meltdown that nearly (I use the term nearly with a bit of hope not.) takes out the global finance industry and risks another Global Depression.

    [Wrong.]

    The same guarantees that helped safe mortgages cheaper, also helped risky mortgage be investable.

    All these Wall St guys (and investors around the world) thought they had a sure deal.
    1) Fannie Mae implied a federal guarantee
    2) Wall St firms purchased insurance on these bets (investments) to hedge the risk. That’s what took AIG out. (It’s like double insurance.)
    3) Housing values had never declined nation-wide since the Great Depression, so it made it seem that these bets were unlikely to ever sour and use either the federally-backed FM/FM guarantee or additional private insurance.

    [Wrong. The problem was that the Bush administration didn’t do anything to help create new jobs or industries or ways to grow the economy, so over the last 8 years since the tech boom nobody invested in anything outside of housing. And nobody thought that housing could ever go down. Bush beat out democratic plans to invest in clean energy because that was a threat to his big oil plans. McCain has the same ignorance in economic matters. He admits he knows nothing about the economy and what to do about it. All Palin knows how to do is tax record oil profits that burst out of the ground in Alaska. They’re economic losers. The US can’t afford another 4 years of irresponsibly ringing up China credit card debt at the hands of out of control Republicans trying to finance our children so they can topple regimes and make things go from bad (Iraq under Hussein) to worse (Iraq under warlords and fundamentalist clerics) ]

    Being in essence backed by the federal government, these bets seemed so sure to the investment bankers, that they levered as much as their limited capital reserve restrictions allowed.

    [Wrong, they were never backed by the government. They were simply not regulated because of the Bush/Gramm/McCain deregulation policies. Now the Bush Bailout is trying to finance our kids to pay for reckless profiteering by renegade maverick investors flouting the rules.]

    Without the implied guarantee of the federal government these investments would’ve been seen for risky bets they were. Too bad the Democrats blocked every attempt to put reasonable controls on Fannie Mae at every turn.

    [Repeating lies does not make them the truth.]

    Seems like McCain had a better clue on how to prevent this mortgage mess than the Democrats, who are now screaming “deregulation, deregulation, the sky is falling.”

    [McCain’s own mouth reveals he knows little about economics. The day the market crashed he was repeating his idiot line about the “fundamentals of the economy being strong.”]

    It would take a bit of integrity for those individuals who received so much Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dirty money in political contributions to acknowledge that their obstructions of appropriate controls on FM/FM had a central role to play in creating the dynamic in which
    1) mortgages wold get risky,
    2) Uncle Sam would be on the hook for it, and
    3) these otherwise risky bets would then be palatable for investors all across the financial markets.

    It is easier to point fingers than to have serious reflection and self-examination.

    [WTF? The Republicans – LIKE YOURSELF – are the ones scrambling to blame everyone else. Your hypocrisy and dishonesty are so over the top it is simply ridiculous. Obama and the Democratic congress have supported Bush’s Bailout in efforts to resolve the prospects for economic ruin. Trying to blame them for Republican failed policies and then blame them for working to solve it under the plans set out by the president is jawdroppingly… well it’s right up your alley. ]

    Dan, care to join our rational discussion, rather than just fall into predictable ranting about it must be the Republicans fault because it would be easy to tar and feather them as the deregulation guys. Dan, I challenge you to resist the urge to just name call, help create a safe environment for much needed reflection and self-examination on the Democrat tendency to favor government solutions for all societal ills.

    [You have proven yourself to be a lying coward who throws out names and accusations for hours and then when your rants are outed for the nonsensical rabid garbage that they are, you cry foul and try to make yourself out to be a victim. I asked you in a private letter to stop trying to monopolize the comments and shout down others with your rants. You do not participate in conversations, you only go on and on with your own ideas, and then attack anyone who presents something else. You don’t really present criticisms or take issue with anything specific in my articles or in others’ comments, you simply post up rambling rants that belong in your own blog. They’re not comments, they’re just essays you want to me to publish. Guess what? No more. I’m putting you in the Urban Bard file. I asked you nicely to stop shouting down everyone else with your unrelated stuff, now I’m canceling your content. Everything from your IP will be terminated as fast as I can terminate it. Sorry it has come to this, but when you ignore me, I ignore you. ]

  • shelly

    I used to think debates were a good idea. But know they simply have become a way to spit out scripted statements that have nothing to do with the questions asked.
    I sat watching the last debate and wanted to scream. At one point Palin made comments about how badly off people are today. Did anyone mention that Reagan asked “are you better off than you were four years ago?” Why is it now okay to say how bad the economy is and use it as a defense of the same party that got us there?
    Palin is a joke. As extreme an editorial writer as Frank Rich is, there may be some merit in his theory that the ultra conservatives are hoping for Palin to take over because they believe McCain will never survive a full term. Just because she didn’t come across as an idiot does not mean a victory.

  • LuisDias

    @Realtosh’s last comment,

    Well now you’re talking. Nice post. I’d also like to hear a rebuttal of that.

  • jdoc

    @Realtosh: Well said. The evidence is irrefutable. The Dems have been caught red-handed (Obama is second on that list of recipients from FM/FM with $123,000+). But give the Dems and Obama credit for successfully (thus far) passing the blame to the Bush administration. The people seem to believe them. What’s more disgusting though is the blatant denial and lashing out from the Dems- Pelosi gives a scathing and immature speech on the congressional floor, blaming the Bush admin and Repubs for this current economic mess, and Frank gets on O’Reilly and completely denies any responsibility for the current economic situation. Takes some balls, but it seems to be working for them.

    [Honestly, I do like to argue. And I appreciate that many readers know more than me about a lot of topics and can correct me when I’m wrong, or offer a viewpoint that is often at least as equally valid as mine in cases where we both might have differing views of the same thing.

    I learn as much from people who comment as I do in researching the stuff I write. I totally disagree with the rant you are agreeing with, but I’m canning the “Realtosh” account and not any others because I learn lots from conservative readers who post their opinions and outlook, while Realtosh’s long winded, off topic rants are really just trolls that expend too much of my time to refute. He can post them to his own blog if he so chooses. I appreciate you and others taking the opportunity to express your views succinctly and without the black-and-white, up-is-down off topic rambling. ]

  • jdoc

    Daniel: Thanks for the comments. I try to add constructive comments as best I can. But I’m just disappointed that the current economic situation hasn’t been researched a bit more, both by some on this blog and by you. The evidence is pretty clear. It’s hard to think that the same folks who skewered the Bush admin over the reasons for going into Iraq (bad intel, greed, oil, etc) would turn a blind eye to the REAL reasons we’re in one of the most devastating economic situations in this nation’s history. Hypocrisy at the very least. I currently have over 40 or so documents/research pieces on my iDisk- topics ranging from medicine to the economy to past convention speeches, etc- all related to this political. I’d be happy to post them if anyone is interested.

  • LuisDias

    I’d be happy to post them if anyone is interested.

    Jeebus! Anyone else wants Dan’s space to publish their political rants?

  • jdoc

    No, not on Dan’s space… I could post them on a separate page.