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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  • http://marineimage.com Jon T

    Denying a woman an education, a vote, an opinion and a life, is a different level of discussion to one about abortion. So no, not curious really.

    Your post will no doubt stir a hornets nest and so detract from your really excellent Apple posts. Couldn’t we have an RDPM.com for this stuff to avoid the confusion?

    But it’s your site and you can do what you will. But, when you write your book about Apple, Dan, just make sure you don’t include the political stuff, or I will vote with my wallet…! All the best.

  • miro

    You really hate her, don’t you?

    [I don’t hate Sarah Palin any more than I hate Steve Ballmer or anyone else I might criticize. I think its a total cop out to try to dismiss my factual criticisms of Palin by suggesting I must have an emotional rage or disgust for her personally.

    Palin has a charming likable presence. The problem is that she is an embarrassment to the Republican ticket and by extension, to Americans who take the election and the nation’s democratic ideals seriously. The fact that Palin, like Ballmer, is so ready to misrepresent the truth and ignore reality to speak in smoke and mirrors generalities says a lot about what McCain thinks of Americans.

    In Palin’s case, the potential for damage go far beyond that a bumbling CEO might do. So while I sometimes secretly cheer for Ballmer to bring Microsoft’s monopoly crashing down due to his own arrogant hubris, hoping for the same from Palin–a landslide of defeat that wipes out the cynicism and phoniness from conservative American politics and replaces it with something more serious–is not as satisfying because Palin is one stolen election and a 73 year old heart attack away from being installed as president of the US.

    What I feel is not hatred, but an uncertain fear and a strong shame that the country is being made such a joke on the world stage. I think Palin is also mocking women to an embarrassing degree. Imagine if Obama dragged along a phony assortment of black stereotypes to his debate, speaking in slang and wearing oversized gold chains and throwing out gang signs. That might appeal to and entertain a small margin of MTV wiggers, but would have been grossly inappropriate and shameful. Palin’s put upon “mommy” act with folksy “don’t ya know” Fargoisms was just as calculated and similarly embarrassing. I certainly don’t hate her for it; I’m just very disappointed that she has chosen to drop the bar so low.]

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    Palin is the new Bush. Not the discredited Bush widely hated now – but the folksy, affable, endearingly out of depth Bush of 2000 who steamrollered McCain, unstuck Gore and wrecked the Clinton legacy.

    Outside of America: people scratch their heads at how such characters could have been elected. The western world is after all liberal democrat. But that’s because we out here don’t often really look at red state America. We think it’s all progress, power and technology. Sure: but what about between the coasts?

    Everything you’ve just said about Palin is precisely what makes her appeal to the undereducated, bitter and (around every election time) paranoid Middle American swing voters who are the people who decide. American demographics has given them this power. Give a well dressed carrot the Democratic nomination and New York and California will vote for him! Same applies for barking mad Republicans on the blood red states. Ultimately democracy is all about the pivot of the seesaw. That pivot lies in Ohio, Nevada and Iowa. She speaks to that electorate.

    I agree she’d be a terrible president just like George W. But we don’t matter. We follow politics, we read between the lines of their speeches and we take the effort to care. That’s no democracy! Democracy is, alas, Joe Sixpack’s prejudice and Hockey Mom’s fear.

    BUT there is hope for Obama this time round. As the last folksy, celebrity who happened to be a Democrat to win the White House so famously and rightly said: its the economy, stupid.

  • jkundert

    Hear, hear. I think you hit the matter dead on at the end: we as a country have decided reality is a reality show, and therefore the most wacky (or horrifying, depending on your point of view) person running should win.
    I think you and I agree about exactly where this country is headed if we keep up that attitude!

  • qzg

    Daniel-
    You are obviously a very intelligent person. You eloquently describe our political system and what I too believe is the “strongest threat” to it: “Not knowing the truth or being given false information about candidates ”

    I’m not “excited” about McCain/Palin but, IMHO Obama is not even nearly representing all that he would do as President. According to voting record he is the farthest left leaning Democrat; yet on the campaign trail he is promoting actions that are closer to the center-left.

    As much as I hate our choices, they are what they are. Obama is not trustworthy. I believe that many of the things that he is saying he does want to do will yield long-term damage to our economy and government. But I’m less concerned about even these things than I am about what he will do that he is NOT saying.

    This election is about choosing the lesser evil, and it is McCain.

  • LuisDias

    Dan, despite the usual dissenter’s voice “OMG another POLITICAL POST, dan! How DARE you! I’m definitely not going to read this ANYMORE!” or something to that effect – it’s curious, though, for the political post is clearly identified as such, and people may choose not to read it, but whatever – despite this,

    Congrats. An excellent summary of the problems that america faces today.

    I must add, so that right wingers don’t get offended by dan’s post and my remarks, that the sitcom issue that you refer to, the IDOL’s contest that is so blatantly a joke on all americans, that I’d say exactly the same thing were it the liberals who had done this stunt.

    But it is not, and there’s a reason for it. Generally, conservatives pander to the “real people”, the people that make america great, working people, the everybodies of this nation. Liberals tend to pander to those who think know better, to more sophisticated folks. So it’s obvious that this “dumbing down” had to come from conservatives, while liberals tend to get their candidates the label of “elitists”, who are accused of not being in touch with people.

    What’s worrying is that the conservative technique worked with Bush, twice! Liberals had to water down their elitist crap if they wanted to get into power, and so since Al Gore, which in my view is an elitist snob of the worst order (I hate the guy, so sue me), dems went to Kerry, which was slightly better, and now Barack, who tells a story of his life as being in perfect synch to what is the american dream.

    I hope that the what seems to be a complete landslide of Obama in this election turns the GOP away from the IDOL idiocy and waters it down. Because if not, this thing will become a full-blown idiocracy.

  • Orenge

    Heaven help us if Palin becomes president–worse, in many ways, even than McCain, who is scary enough already. (What makes his policies different from Bush, and why so many distortions from him?)

    And if McCain becomes president, the odds of Palin having to take over–either permanently or during a temporary medical crisis, are frighteningly high.

    Contrast this with the smarter policies of Obama, and the judgement he showed when picking Biden instead of some publicity stunt (which is exactly what Palin was–and that’s NOT serving the country).

    Obama’s not the ideal candidate, just darned close. McCain and Palin are nightmares we don’t need.

  • http://www.geoffrobinson.net geoffrobinson

    Obama was graded on a curve against McCain in the first debate.

  • Lee

    I enjoyed reading this, but the characterization of liberals as risk takers and conservatives as risk averse, while more or less traditional, is an extravagant claim, especially when tied to a thesis about the survival of communities.

    There’s a pretty obvious counterexample to this latter claim. The US is an oddity among the western democracies, being much much more conservative and authoritarian (in the social psychological sense) than the others (even those in the Anglosphere). In fact, where you live is probably the most liberal place in the US, and it still strikes me as being fairly right wing in many ways. If it were true that liberalism were risky to social cohesion, then very liberal countries like the Netherlands or the Nordic countries would be unstable societies. Yet all of them are far more stable societies than the US with a much lower level of social conflict and crime. Even the extremely attitude to drug use in the Netherlands has not led to social disaster. The US is the most conservative and arguably the least socially stable.

    Moreover, conservatives tend to score more highly on the dogmatism trait than liberals. While dogmatism can help keep a society stable it can, as we know, also lead down more dolorous paths, and it is of little utility in our fast-changing society.

    But there is not much evidence and little reason other than politeness to assume that those of each political persuasion are necessarily of equal benefit to every society. It would be a remarkable coincidence if that were true.

    Peace

    L

  • Lee

    “extreme liberals have destroyed order in society to introduce horrific experiments in inhumane chaos”

    Calling people like Stalin, Kim Il Sung and Mao “liberals” is misusing that term horribly. It’s hard to think of less liberal people, frankly.

    [I had in mind the Khmer Rough, but also Mao.

    I think your identification of “liberal” as being centrist and intellectual is a product of a world where extreme conservatism has become the new mainstream. Achieving sensible regulation, middle class tax policy, and living wages has become branded as “extreme liberalism,” when in fact it is very centrist.

    Liberal means open to change. The most liberal politicians in America seem right of center in Europe. Real extremism in liberal/leftist thought isn’t about dropping failed drug policy or providing health care and education. Extremism in leftist ideology is setting up work camps and killing off the educated so you can perform wild experiments on social reeducation that destroy social structure.

    That has resulted in horrific atrocity, and is the real extreme in liberal politics. Extremist conservatives want to install Sharia-style religious law and a tazer police state. If you allow them to redefine centrist normalcy as an “extremist liberal idea,” then their fascism begins to look palatable.

    We need to get real and define the far extremes accurately. When we do that, the dirty words of socialism and liberal begin to look ridiculous. Our freeway system is socialist. Public schools are socialist. Fair wages and civil rights and social justice are liberal ideals that most Americans hold as important.

    America doesn’t have extreme liberals in government. San Francisco doesn’t even have anything approaching extreme liberals running the City. When Obama can be described as a liberal extremist for pushing for the rights of the middle class and lowering taxes on 95% of Americans, something is wrong with the definition of “extremist.”

    Allow extremists to redefine the vocabulary and centrist normalcy becomes a vilified crime. ]

  • Komor

    Hey, but both candidates for presidents and vice’s agree in one point perfectly! They want your money! 700 bln or whatever is currently on the table. Isn’t it something to celebrate? Don’t worry, there will be more.

    Communism, fascism, nazism are all some sorts of socialism.
    And “democracy is the road to socialism” as Karl Marx said.

    [The Bush Bailout is certainly a scary number, and the idea of handing banks a blank check to pay off those most culpable is disgusting on many levels. However, non-action isn’t really an alternative. The house democrats are trying to support this by adding enough oversight to make it work, while the house republicans are working to pin this on the democrats as socialism.

    It remains Bush’s Bailout, caused by Bush’s Economic Policy Failure. Calling it socialism at this point is rather pointless. Yes, it does sound communist to privatize the secondary mortgage industry and take over banks. But this isn’t socialism: under socialism, people benefit from assumed risks and rewards. This is simply fascism, where the government serves industry instead of the people.

    Throwing around loaded words and turning “socialism” into a negative simply because the republican Bush administration has made a very dangerous play to shore up its financial disaster is not useful. What needs to be talked about is what is happening, and what is likely to happen, and how damage can be minimized at this point. Sitting back and throwing around political buzzwords is not useful.

    The US is not at risk of a communist revolution, and the idea is completely absurd. The country clearly needs oversight of banking regulations and a house cleaning of secret corruption. Are you sure you want to call the rule of law in financial markets “socialism” because it benefits the middle class? Because that makes you sound like a liberal thinker. ]

  • Tardis

    As Presidential candidates, both Obama and McCain are brought in to policy discussions, the most recent of which is the total meltdown of the global economy, basically the result of bad “sub-prime” housing loans, and with it the USA’s status as a world leader.

    For an indication of McCain’s experience in dealing with a sub-prime mortgage crisis (then known as a Savings & Loan scandal) see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keating_Five

    McCain was one of only two US Senators in the “Keating Five” gang of conspirators who kept their jobs after being accused of corruption. Keating himself did five years of jail time.

  • gus2000
  • gus2000

    Democracy is the worst form of government. Except for all the rest.

  • harrywolf

    The problem, as noted by Steve jobs, is that 40% of Americans read one book or less – a year.

    America , like all western countries is full of village idiots who can be persuaded to believe anything.

    There is no democracy where stupidity rules.
    Reality of life has gone – the distance between most people and their food supply, for example, is so large that soon they will be eating sawdust and loving it.

    Give up your food production to Big Business, let Chinese slave labor produce your goods and soon you will be unable to think beyond the TV screen. Oops, it already happened.

    Good article, Dan, if a little too easy on the unpleasant moron Palin.

  • kerryb

    I believe the center (soccer moms) has decided our most recent elections proof being Bush’s successful “your children are at risk from terrorists” 2004 campaign. However the center voters are not moderates, voters that share a mix of liberal and conservative views but people that really don’t pay much attention to politics at all until each election is right upon us. They are busy with their lives, working raising families and politics is something to decide come election day. So the fate of our nation is in the hands of the least engaged and informed. In a nation where 60% of the adult population believe in Guardian Angels and an even higher percentage believe there is a man in a place called Hell that is responsible for all the worlds evil (another bizarre concept) who happens to be red, brandishes a pitchfork and is called The Devil it is no wonder cute reassuring sound bites from politicians like Sara Palin are welcome and comforting. Liberal or conservative we all have to agree that fairy tales about good vs evil do not make for sound foreign policy and complicated problems like the banking meltdown are not fixed with simplistic folksy speak.

  • Eunoia

    I find McCain’s selection of Palin to be an insult to my intelligence. The trick of replacing one intelligent woman (Hillary) with one bumpkin (Palin) really wasn’t that effective. I think less of McCain now for attempting such a ploy. He clearly doesn’t have a great deal of respect for the voters if he thought they would be fooled. I went from plain not wanting him to be elected outright resenting him.

    Does it not also sound strange to hear the republicans aligning themselves with average middle class people saying we’re not going to allow ourselves to be taken advantage of again.

    YOU ARE THE PARTY RESPONSIBLE FOR IT HAPPENING THE FIRST TIME! You don’t get to say that.

  • shiver me timbers

    Daniel, your first 8 paragraphs are perhaps the best “bringing together” of our country’s diverse political opinions that I have ever read, and it was certainly your most objective political commentary that could benefit all of us with an understanding of why our political differences are not a bad thing but good.

    Unfortunately, your piece — which could have been remembered as a lesson for all American generations — thereafter spiraled downward into a partisan tirade.

    People you are fooling yourselves into thinking that either of these candidates really represent change. If you want to endorse voting for Obama because McCain is just four more years of Bush, then you have your head in the sand. Obama’s choice of running mate is for one of the most partisan and entrenched of the Washington establishment. Obama’s Biden is simply the Democratic version of Bush’s Cheney. Neither of these presidential candidates are for real change, because neither of them are talking about the real issues that are plaguing our country.

    1) THE FEDERAL RESERVE

    The Federal Reserve is misnomer. It is not a federal organization. It is an independent organization of bankers, established early in this century by a manipulated vote in congress lobbied by bankers. And yet the Federal Reserve today is an independent organization that has unbelievable power to control our economy. Instead of allowing our economy to naturally balance itself out — which it would do — the Federal Reserve places band-aids on the economy to direct it the way it sees fit, ultimate benefitting banks but only causing more problems for our economy in the long-term from its artificial manipulations. The establishment of the Federal Reserve to be granted such power over our economy is unconstitutional.

    2) THE GOLD STANDARD

    The American Constitution requires our currency to be backed by gold. It is unconstitutional to print money not backed by gold. Is there any wonder about the state of our economy and the value of the dollar? Congress and the Federal Reserve do much to facilitate this unconstitutional activity to benefit themselves in the short-term but doing so at the detriment of our economy — printing money not backed by gold.

    3. THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    The constitution does not allow the federal government to tax our income. The Federal Income Tax is unconstitutional. Most people can’t imagine abolishing the federal income tax for reasons such as “how would we finance the building of our highways or the establishment of our schools?” But the federal income tax does not finance the building of highways or the establishment of our schools, your state taxes do. The reality is the federal income tax is a tax levied by the federal government that gives it enormous power. It is a tax that keeps wealthy people in office and gives the power to the federal government to control people. This is not how the founding fathers envisioned the federal government; they are certainly rolling in their graves at the idea of personal jeopardy for not paying a federally mandated income tax. They did not authorize it; it is simply unconstitutional.

    I am telling you neither of these candidates — Obama nor McCain — are addressing these issues. These are the issues of real change. The candidates we have before us are for the continuance of the Washington establishment. Whatever change either of these candidates stand for is minor not radical. And yet it is not radical to want to demand our federal government to operate in abidance by the constitution.

    There is only one candidate who has taken a stand for the constitutionality of these three issues, and that candidate has been Ron Paul. And yes I know, unfortunately, in our political system, he has no chance of winning.

    [Ron Paul is smart and articulate and presents some interesting ideas. He has been completely ignored by the Republican party in the same way that Ralph Nader has been ignored by the Democrats. Both offer wild, sweeping changes that would overturn the status quo, but both are so far from the political center of the US that, as you note, they have no chance at getting elected right now.

    However, electing Obama as a self-funded (via individual campaign donations) reformer rather than the next Bush/Clinton machine delegate will break a lock on big market campaigns and sham politics. That will open the door for the discussion of real issues.

    Obama promises to put legislation and lobbyist details on the web and get people interested in politics again. If Ron Paul’s core issues on money policy are sound (and I don’t have the expertise to comment on them), this openness and the break from special interest back room dealing will give those concepts an audience.

    On the other hand, the election of a phony conservative figurehead and a manufactured ditzy running mate who will continue the Bush secrecy, power grab, and cabal politics of Cheney will only dial back the US that much further into feudalism, Crusades and Inquisition.

    There’s no room for Ron Paul’s thoughtful idealism and challenging ideas in a world where contrived bullshit substitutes for a political process. So if you really want to see Ron Paul’s ideas gain any momentum, you have to vote for liberal openness rather than McCain’s pseudo-conservatism that Paul himself said he could not endorse (in part due to McCain’s reckless “bomb Iran” comments). ]

  • Etreiyu

    Regarding “Komor”‘s remark:
    Communism, fascism, nazism are all some sorts of socialism

    Clearly you are ignorant of all the above, I I suspect you merely parrot what you’ve heard. Thanks for embarrassing yourself so publicly.

  • Realtosh

    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.

    EEEEHHHHHHHH (Loud buzzer sound)
    Wrong Answer.

    Give up on this fundamentalist crap. Those extreme conservatives are no worse than the extreme liberals with whom you associate. Don’t whitewash your own crazies by just looking the other way. Stones… glass houses…

    [It is inappropriate to invent “crazies” and suggest I associate with them. What exactly do you have in mind, communist revolutionaries? I don’t speculate whether you are part of the KKK or associate with people who fire bomb family planning clinics, so don’t throw baseless, outrageous hyperbole in my direction. Palin on the other hand is all over the Internet praising and crediting her political success on a pastor who hunts witches and she has entertained the demands of her evangelical friends who sought to censor books from her small town library.

    Palin doesn’t just “know some people with extreme views,” she has encouraged and participated with movements from radical religious fundamentalists who do faith healing and roll on the floor from demons and Holy Spirit to Alaska Secessionists, who are against the US. That is relevant to her policy sense, not an imagined personal attack I invented to make her or you look bad.]

    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.

    Wrong Answer.

    McCain would have preferred to pick the liberal Independent Joe Lieberman. Lieberman was a Democrat before the Democrats run against him for being too moderate. I personally feel Lieberman is too liberal to be candidate for VP from the republican party. I would have supported McCain in this attempt at real game change. However, the real conservatives wold not. Don’t crucify the moderate McCain that we have a 2-party system.

    One moderate President with one conservative VP would still be better than two extremely liberal President & VP.

    [McCain is no moderate, he’s a Bush clone war hawk. Palin is not conservative, she’s a blindly fundamentalist big spender who has never had to make fiscal decisions tougher than taxing record oil profits, big deficit spending as a small town mayor on unnecessary and poorly planned projects, and wild spending of huge pork barrel federal money grants on a state already swimming in oil money. How is any of that conservative?

    What’s next, are you going to give everyone in San Francisco $2,500 cash every year and spend lavish federal dollars on unnecessary projects in the City and then call it conservative politics because we cut our own taxes while bathing in federal handouts? ]

    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.

    Wrong Answer.

    Palin spoke out against these abuses that she was witnessing and caused Republicans with a long-held grip on power to fall from office and go to jail. I can only applaud that. Most Americans would agree.

    [Palin spoke out against her own criminal actions? Or are you talking about her “wait and see” comments about Stevens’ trial? Ted Stevens is a close ally of Palin; her copying the same crime he is accused of (taking gifts as influential bribes from well heeled constituents) is hardly excused by her own hypocrisy in running a campaign for AK governor on a platform of cleaning things up among other corrupt Republicans.]

    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.

    Wrong Answer.

    Only in Daniel’s head (as well the crazed heads of other extreme liberals) are middle class folk who travel (you might say interstate-emigrate) to Alaska to bust ass at blue-collar worker are the elite rich. Trust me, there are many more elite folks here on Wall Street than there will ever be in the state of Alaska. The elites are in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, and they’re contributing $millions of dollars in funds to Obama ( with absolutely no strings attached.. wink, wink). (Remember all those Wall St and Fannie Mae types and their contributions.)

    [Come back to Earth. Palin is worth well over a million and has an estate with a private plane in front of her house. Yet she represents herself as a struggling everyman’s wife who worries about health care. That’s complete fiction. The fact that there are working class people in Alaska who may even work for Palin is wildly irrelevant.

    Also, Biden described his working class roots but said he now lives in a big house and has a comfortable lifestyle. He says he understands trial and adversity, and he’s been wiped out a number of times. He did not pretend to be a coal miner or WalMart employee. The fact that elite New Yorkers are among those contributing to the Obama campaign (perhaps out of arrogant disgust for how badly Bush has destroyed the economy and the country’s standing in the world) has nothing to do with Palin’s grossly hypocritical phony portrayal of herself as a commoner when she is really rich and privileged and syphoning off extra money as a per diem for living at home at governor. ]

    And finally, dan all your talk about abortion and gay rights.
    EEEEHHHHHHHH (Loud buzzer sound)
    Wrong Answer.

    These are just wedge issues that the extreme conservatives and the extreme liberals use to polarize the electorate, and distract from real issues.

    [Civil rights matters that affect the majority of Americans are not wedge issues. Flag burning and adultery trials and climate change doubting and Freedom Fries are wedge issues. More than half of the US are women, and at least 10% of society is directly affected by gay rights.

    Civil rights is not an “extreme liberal” matter. I do agree with you that extreme conservatives have polarized the electorate with raging ignorance about subjects like stem cell research. If you view embryos as abortion, that is a valid debate, but attacking stem cell research itself is grossly ignorant, because the embroys they use are discarded byproducts of fertility clinics that will otherwise be destroyed. The extremist conservatives would never attack fertility clinics, as that would be politically unpopular among rich Republican women who desperately want to conceive a baby. But they’re happy to vilify science for working towards medical cures from the discarded “life” from fertility clinics. That’s just gross hypocrisy and political posturing that is indefensible. This same “culture of life” also supports the death penalty and sending soldiers to die in an illegitimate war that is killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

    You have the balls to suggest that “extreme liberals” will damage the country? ]

    For example, 1) the $2 Billion dollars/day negative trade & account balances between the US and the rest of the world. It’s draining our wealth and our future competitiveness.

    [Eight years of Bush delivered that.]

    2) That our educational system is becoming average for most and failing our most challenged. Our future innovation as a country will suffer from our decaying educational system, and from our xenophobic immigration policies. China and India are already graduating many more engineers and computer scientists than the US and/or Europe.

    [Eight years of Bush delivered that.]

    3) Our non-existent and therefore nonsensical immigration policies. I know of smart people who just moved to London or other places, rather than deal with the mess that is INS and Homeland Security today. Great international students are going elsewhere because of visa issues or the fear of them. Great professors likewise. Bankers and executives in the private from, including Silicon Valley, are having a hard time to gain admission to the US with working privileges.

    [Eight years of Bush delivered that.]

    4) Trade unions are no longer representing our neediest, and lowest paid workers, but much better paid industrial workers (auto, etc) who are becoming increasing priced out of the global markets for goods, in part because of stupid rules from collective bargaining.

    They also represent government workers’ rights the interests of the taxpayers and our future competitiveness as nation. Public service workers are too easy to hire, too hard to fire, work inefficiently and collect mega retirement benefits that will in the not too distant future bankrupt many states.

    Trade unions represent teachers against the interests of our kids. They help to rid our educational system of innovation. They make it hard to get rid of bad burned-out teachers. They make pay inflexible and reward only years in service, instead of results and ability. This has a paradoxical effect of pushing out many bright individuals, who are paid much better in the private sector for much less responsibility. Many of who are left are the tenured incompetents and the deeply dedicated who are handicapped at every step and rarely rewarded for their extra efforts. (see #2 above).

    Our competitiveness as a country is being assaulted and we’re worried about who’s folksy, who winked, who wants to mainstream gay rights and abortion rights, instead of our core national fundamentals that are in jeopardy of eroding. Those who are gay or who were aborted would have the most at stake at polarizing the rest of the electorate.

    [Eight years of Bush delivered that.]

    By I say, forget these polarizing issues. Let’s get down to the basics and make our country great again.

    [More years of Bush are not going to deliver that.]

  • nelsonart

    qzg nailed it. Why, for the love of christ, can’t dems pick up a book on economics. I want so bad to elect the party that enjoys sex AND money. One activity can be done regardless of who gets in power, so I end up voting pocket book issues. I vote the economy.

    I also agree with Realtosh who’s much shorter post illustrates why moderate fiscal conservatives can see through some of Dan’s arguments. I would add that I still favor public education because I’m more pragmatic than idealistic and if not for free public schools, I shudder at what some in our society would be doing with their numerous, unwanted children. Thank god the public school system, with all its flaws, at least caters to some of our least ambitious’ desire to shirk their parental responsibilities.

    With 2 kids in public school, I can say unequivocally that we’ve not only dumbed it down so no child is left to feel bad, but also linked passing these kids with receiving $. So what do you think the schools become good at? Right. Human Nature wins again. We pass kids who cannot read or do basic math or point at the U.S. on a map. When I receive my child’s report card, I’m stunned at what it says. It contains nothing that resembles the output or abilities of my child (who’s naturally a genius). He’s 8, loves math, is very good at it, and his report card says he need to work on addition up to 13. What does that even mean? We’ve also emasculated males in our public school system. The little pamphlet ‘books’ they are forced to read are stunningly boring for a boy. It’s so PC and empty and uninspiring.

    Ok, back to the economy. We need low taxes. Bush’s legacy will be overspending. With our rapacious govt., it’s looking like spending is the key at this point and going forward. After all, Clinton was lucky to slam us with massive, painful tax hikes during the .com boom. And even at that, the party came to an end the same way they always do. High taxes are bad for the economy. Low taxes are good. But Clinton made good on that peace dividend and cut our military drastically. Gore cut a bit of fat out of the govt. as well. Clinton was also a free trader, championing NAFTA and other agreements, which greatly helped our economy against the headwinds of high taxation. Derivatives and shady accounting practices and outright fraud were brewing underneath this retroactive tax burden, but the results of that wouldn’t be felt for a while longer, to be blamed on the sitting Repub president.

    Against common cries of tax revenues plummeting by the left, Bush’s low taxes grew treasury revenues to record levels, much higher than even those that understand economics predicted. Meanwhile, nothing was done on entitlements and medicare, the 800 lb elephant of the budget. 9/11, 2 wars, hurricanes, and nation building and a housing bust to top it off in the end left us with a limping econony. Now we have Dems running for Prez proposing the LARGEST entitlement program in the history of this country, coupled with massive tax hikes. Although Obama has said he may have to rethink portions of that strategy.

    On other issues, the ever-thoughtful Obama has become a republican. He’s for drilling, low taxes (ala Clinton’s middle class tax cut that never came), free trade (after he personally goes through the agreements line by line), and a strong military response on the table in case Iran gets the bomb. Plus he speaks well.

    I’m not sure what he’ll do when actually elected into the comforting arms of a dem congress, but I suspect it’s not good. Small business owners, especially, are biting their nails as the proposals are going to be painful. Someone has to pay for all the candy when a huge chunk of our tax base pay no federal income tax at all.

    I wish McCain had picked Romney as a running mate. I don’t like to be winked at during a serious debate. I think you should adopt the correct facial expressions when speaking about war or $700 billion dollar bailouts. I think Palin is folksy, but I’d prefer thoughtful and articulate. Did she score well? Yes. I question McCain’s judgment as well on this. But I also question Obama’s judgment in who he aligned with on his way up. Does he have a friend that loves America or hasn’t bombed something? I’m still waiting. It’s not guilt by association so much as guilt by participation.

    I hold two opposing views. Like Steve Jobs, I don’t have a lot of faith in groups yet I can appreciate the individual. We have pockets of stunning stupidity in this country. Yet we also have the most entrepreneurial, innovative, and productive people on Earth. Granted, many of our brightest are immigrants, something we are taught to fear by the far right.

    So maybe the glass is half full. But it’s piss. If the intelligent among us who crave high tech, enjoy the disposable income to buy Apple’s fine products, and generally have a broad world view and read Dan’s excellent RDM cannot discern which articles are about politics and which are about computers from the glaringly obvious titles, then what hope do we have?

    For Dan: I spent 4 hours at the dentist the other day, which was pure torture, followed by not eating for 24 hours. I nearly lost my mind. Then I thought about your idea and felt much better. So thanks!

  • gus2000

    Gus’ 2nd corollary to Godwin’s Law (also known as “Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies”) states:

    “As an online political discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Ron Paul approaches one.”

    [If bringing up Nazis and Ron Paul is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

    Seriously, I think bringing up Godwin’s Law is just an unfair attempt to stifle Nazi Analogies by people who aren’t so good at Nazi Analogies. What’s next, a prohibition on Car Analogies? Or Analogies? I’d be in big trouble, and so would Jesus. ]

  • kt

    Realtosh: One moderate President with one conservative VP would still be better than two extremely liberal President & VP.

    Saying Obama is extremely liberal doesn’t make it so. If you compare the way the two candidates have actually lived their lives, Obama is far more conservative than McCain by almost every metric. Obama has been married only once to a woman he clearly still loves, is a self made man who started out near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, has a very calm even temperament, has two charming daughters, one house and is careful and deliberate in all his decisions.

    Contrast that with McCain who has been married twice (to two beauty queens) chose a beauty queen as his running mate (the man has issues) dumped his first wife for a sugar momma, makes reckless and impulsive high drama decisions, is a legendary hot head, and changes his core beliefs whenever required to pander to the largest segment of voters (see Bush Tax cuts, immigration, pandering to the extreme religious right, financial regulation etc)

    Despite McCain’s snide little “Obama doesn’t understand the difference between strategy and tactics” jab at the debates, Obama presents a highly strategic plan for America’s future while McCain offers us little more than side shows and prime time dramas.

    If you compare their character and the way they choose to live their lives, Obama comes across as far more grounded than McCain. Obama is mostly steak with some sizzle thrown in while McCain is mostly sizzle with a tiny bit of steak.

  • Realtosh

    @ kt

    “steak and sizzle”
    ROTFLOL

    But enough of this destructive politics and character assassination.

    [That’s all you ever offer]

    What are the man’s positions/ What is his record? What causes does the man champion? This questions should apply to either candidate equally.

    I’ve attacked Obama, but only because his rhetoric may not match up with his policy, his record, and therefore what he’ll likely do as President. Nothing more. Nothing else. I just point out the contradiction, and hope that the candidate would clear it up. I also suggest reasons why it might not in his political interest to be clear.In contrast, it is in the voters interest to know what we’re getting. The coy ambiguity is good for Obama, not so good for America.

    [The only coy ambiguity is your references to problems with Obama without ever stating what they are apart from being “extremely liberal!!!!” This is getting old. Put up or shut up.]

    We already had a young inexperienced Presidential candidate, that picked an older partisan Washington insider as a VP. That Bush-Cheney thing didn’t so well. Why do some want to try again? Opposite end of political spectrum. Same potential mess.

    [What a joke you are. That was your party. Bush brought no vision. Cheney brought no experience outside of cronyism. That was your joke ticket. Now you’re saying more of the same with an old angry man backed up by a joke half his age?]

    I’d rather my President have experience, and the VP do the on the job learning. On the job learning doesn’t go so well for US Presidents. There’s too much on the line.

    We might not have known better 8 years ago. But we should have learned by now. Fool me once… Fool me twice….

    [Clearly you are a fool all around. Please stop the nonsense trolling. ]

    I say REFORM is our most pressing issue.

    Throw the bums out. Start over with fresh blood (the only reason I like Palin at all). Get rid of special interests, on both sides. McCain has been the most consistent voice on ridding politics of the influence of special interest; in part from his lessons from the Keating scandal. But whatever the reason for his fervor, McCain wants to fix a system that is very broken. Everyone else is trying to game the system for their specially connected interests.

    Let’s make government for the people, not the politically connected.

    [Right, because McCain’s crony-phony campaign full of lobbyists isn’t “politically connected”. ]

  • Realtosh

    @ kt

    “Saying Obama is extremely liberal doesn’t make it so.”

    Why is it only extreme liberals take umbrage when others point out his liberal score card?

    Don’t take my word on this matter. Go ask any liberal friends. Look up the liberal score cards on liberal organization’s websites. They’re the ones who gave Obama the “most liberal” label and score card.

    It was reported in the press long before it was used by others politically.

    [You are establishing that you are completely unable to have a discussion. You respond like Palin. When kt took issue with your comment and laid out an argument against it, you responded with a name calling attack “extreme liberal!” and bluster about unquantifiable “most liberal!” nonsense. You didn’t respond to anything kt said.

    All you can do is, like Palin, pick up another note card full of jingo-attacks and begin reading it off. It’s all you ever do: attack and call names and then inject barbs about how you don’t like being labeled and attacked. You don’t offer any reason or discussion. You don’t bring up interesting alternative views. You’re just a record player of right wing jingoism. It’s very tiresome. Change this. ]

  • Komor

    @Etreiyu

    So which one of them is not?

  • http://twibe.com trainwrecka

    “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 are conservative views personal views, but liberal views are what’s best for the nation? Palin wanting to overturn RvW is her view on what is best for the nation AND (it can be both) her personal view.

    I’ve never been a fan of people who claim one thing, but do another.

  • http://twibe.com trainwrecka

    BTW —- love your blog, and even though we disagree on quite a bit politically (based on your posts alone) – I enjoy reading your blog. People who cry “stick to apple” — eh — pay no mind. I like reading the different viewpoints. If I only hear like-minded thoughts, how can I ever grow?

  • http://www.radianttechnology.net Windinthedust

    Hi Dan;

    I don’t mind your political commentary- as it is your opinion, and not necessarily factually based, after all. We are all thinkers, and can either agree or disagree.

    Where some may be upset- is that your technical analysis is SO accurate, with real empirical data and facts to back up your statements- this contrasts your political commentary. Even though your emotions do come through when talking tech., it’s appropriate, as it is backed up and seen as real “righteous indignation” against the machinations & subterfuge of the Microsoft potentate.

    With the politics, everyone is expecting real analysis, and instead we are getting editorial commentary and opinion with no real substance. It doesn’t bother me; just beware, that what you have built up on one hand, may be detracted from on the other hand.

    As an example, rather then prop the failed government, of which both parties are responsible, lets talk truth all the way. Who created and is responsible for Freddie & Fannie? Who created this banking problem in the first place? Who is responsible for encouraging & rewarding risky behavior in society and now the financial markets? Unintended consequences. Young people don’t understand this… sometimes good intentions fraught with emotion are later greeted with unintended consequences. That’s fine, but speak truth… this is the only way to learn and avoid making the same mistakes over again.

    Speak truth; what are “change & hope”? The government certainly can’t give either. “We” are the economy, “We” are the controllers of our “change & hope”; to depend on the government for this is to give up our personal freedom, rights, & human dignity.

    Let’s be honest; the legislative branch (controlled by ultra liberals) are just as culpable as the lame duck executive branch. When the liberals took control of congress & the senate, they made the same empty promises of their predecessors; nothing has been accomplished, more of the same corruption and plain incompetence.

    Another example- let’s be honest; which candidate has yet to explain his ties to known terrorists? Explain that away. Don’t get me wrong; I am not for either candidate, I’m just illustrating, that if you want REAL change, we all have to stop our blind, and yes- religious- support in our individual parties and politicians. You want to be credible? Lay it ALL on the table, where ever that is. Don’t justify, deny, or defend; simply speak truth. The truth is the greatest defender, anyway.

    It would be great, Dan, if you wrote some real political analysis; research and explain how government is supposed to work according to the constitution, then contrast how it works in reality. Explain the relationship between the Judicial, Executive, and Legislative branches… not too many people really understand it. Explain why lobbying is both good & bad. Explain how laws are passed. Explain what “pork barrel” spending is. Explain the history of slavery- no holds barred- name names and the political affiliation of both sides…. explain the irony in this- how the democratic party still “owns” the black vote, as they did in their plantation days of the democratic south. Go into it all- good and bad of both sides, and all affiliations; dig deep & speak truth- I dare you. Anything else is meaningless and simply ends up being shaded lies justifying & propping up past mistakes & failures.

    You want real change? Speak truth & cut through all the FUD; be party agnostic- be a human being.

  • Etreiyu

    @ “RealTosh”
    Why is it only extreme liberals take umbrage when others point out [Obama’s] liberal score card?

    Why is it that extreme right-wing pseudo-conservatives always think that anyone who disagrees with them is “an extreme liberal”? Accusations and baseless (that means ‘unsupported by facts or argument’) assertions HAVE NO WEIGHT – though, of course, they don’t teach that in the EIB School for Dittoheads.

    If you want to be taken seriously, say something that at least *sounds* like you thought about it.

  • Etreiyu

    Dan –

    Looks like the shout-monkeys are out in force, posting the by-now-typical-&-expected swill. Hope they don’t deter you from offering your views on the campaigns, despite their trollish ways! Don’t despair by their attacks: they have no substance, relying on volume, shrillness & condescension instead of any rational process.

    Just remember – even the biggest monkey will run out of poo eventually! Keep the faith!

  • Lee

    “High taxes are bad for the economy. Low taxes are good.”

    And someone claimed that Obama doesn’t understand economics. Sheesh. In the real world countries with much higher taxes produce a much higher standard of living. Even Canada consistently beats the US in this regard. These countries have more efficient economies than the US (they are better at converting economic activity into human welfare – in the case of Canada, consistently better).

    Any real economist can tell you that tax is simply the portion of our income we spend collectively, rather than individually. The reason we have tax is because individual (market) spending sometimes produces inefficient outcomes due to collective action problems. This is called market failure. The things we in modern societies pay tax to fund are largely things that are subject to market failure (security, education, health care, etc.). The basic truth is that markets are efficiency promoting institutions only sometimes, and other times cause grotesque inefficiencies.

    Lowering taxes willy nilly just means leaving more to the market, and that often produces market failures (this is why Americans pay far more as a percentage of GDP for health care than countries with public health care and receive worse coverage). Thus, lower taxes are often bad for the economy.

    Anyone who doesn’t understand this basic economic truth has no business debating about tax. Unfortunately, that includes most of the Republican Party.

  • Realtosh

    @ Etreiyu

    Your images are so colorful. ROTFLOL

    I’m perfectly happy to out a conservative that conservative think tanks have labeled the most conservative. I would hope that commenters wouldn’t comment on it just for the sake of commenting.

    I went to Obama GOTV meetings and an Obama rally. All I’m saying is that the rhetoric and the politics didn’t match.

    If he were scored most conservative by conservative groups and he had centrist rhetoric I would be equally disappointed to learn that he was a neocon and would say so.

    [All of your talk about “most liberal” voting records is unmeasurable talking point fluff. There is no way to quantify what you’re talking about. “Most liberal” in an environment of quasi-fascism isn’t very liberal. The Bush dominated Congress hasn’t voiced any liberal-oriented dissent. They didn’t move to impeach him for high crimes. The democrats put aside any challenges to Bush and have kowtowed to the right of the middle. They were elected to stop the war and impeach Bush. They didn’t promise to do either, but the those who voted in a democratic majority expected that. So to crow incessantly about how Obama is more liberal and active than a bunch of spineless turkeys who have really done nothing but meekly push for consensus is ridiculous. You have never articulated the dangers you are fretting about. What liberal crisis will Obama usher in? Fair wages for labor? Middle class tax cuts? ]

    As it is, his politics are more liberal than his rhetoric. I don’t use the liberal term as a pejorative. I use it as a description of politics. I’m Ivy League educated so I’m steeped in liberal values. All of western civilization is based on liberal values. What I’m talking about is the liberal politics of the day — the socialist tendencies of government needing to take care of everyone’s needs. I’m perfectly happy with our liberal values of democracy and our freedoms of speech and association, etc.

    Obama speaks about personal responsibility in the same vane as Bill Crosby, which I agree is important. But then his politics is about government “investment” in social causes. Let the government do this, let the government pay for that.

    [Government does have role to invest in things. It already does! Bush has been investing trillions while going deeply in debt. The problem is that the Republican administration is investing in worthless ashes. American infrastructure is crumbling, jobs are going overseas, American kids aren’t getting a competitive education, the health care system is failing while Medicare pays for billions in fraudulent claims.

    It is simply irresponsible and asinine to suggest that the federal government go away to suit your Republican ideals after the Republicans have rung up a staggering national debt, squandered the Clinton legacy, ruined the economy, left the country’s infrastructure to rot, left the nation unprepared for national emergencies, squandered the military in an illegitimate war, and reorganized commerce to favor companies that move their assets offshore to avoid paying equitable taxes.

    It’s easy to make simpleton leaps of logic that the “government” should let the free market do this an that, but your turn is over because your choice has destroyed the country, the economy, our reputation internationally, the future of our children, and our competitive edge. The ideology you have supported has failed miserably.]

    I would be also be upset with a candidate that spoke the hopeful message of Obama and was against free trade (rats Obama’s against free trade) or was against a rational immigration policy, like the right wingers, or didn’t want to pursue alternative energies or recycling, etc.

    I’m an equal opportunity hypocrisy outer. If a conservative had made the same comment about an ultra right-winger not being a conservative, I’d be the first to jump and say “boo.”

    [What ever. Liberals don’t resort to specious jingoism. Democrats have never tried to redefine conservative as a dirty word. Your party has done that itself. Rampant hypocrisy and a lie of a platform.

    Bush was elected to stop sex in the White House and stop “world building” and international peacekeeping in Kosovo. He turned around and allowed the nation to run on a criminal spree, killing and torturing Americans, spying on Americans, creating a climate of fear, letting the nation go to pot while he went trillions in debt to China so we could destroy hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq based on a lie.

    That’s your Republican values in action. McCain is even worse; he supports new wars before even getting elected! Bush didn’t run on a platform of attacking Iraq in 2000. McCain is as immoral as any pseudo-christian right winger. He’s angry and hostile and dangerous. That’s what you support: further destruction of the country so you can prevent “rampant liberal action” such as living wages for laborers and the end of tax cuts for big oil’s windfall profits.

    You can’t articulate and defend what you believe. All you can do is repeat jingo ideas that redefine everything you disagree with to be “evil.” There’s nothing intellectual or wise or fair or even classically conservative about that. Your preoccupation with branding everything you don’t support as “evil” is, incidentally, what makes you a neocon, even if you don’t like the label.]

  • Realtosh

    @ Lee

    If you want to talk about successful socialism forget Canada, they’re more like a glorified 52nd state.

    Look instead at Scandinavia.

    For example, in Denmark they have tax rates that top out at more than half of your income go into the state kitty. They have clean streets and great public transportation. They have half-year paternity leave for expecting fathers/ fathers of new-borns. Some companies increase that privately to 1 full year of getting full pay and no work. Spending time as a family. And they’ve been investing in alternative energy industries. Their unemployment rate is 1.6% Makes those US 4% unemployment rates not seem like full employment as we’re all taught in economy after all.

    Let’s dig a little deeper.

    Here’s a bit from an article in the International Herald Tribune bby the title. “High income taxes in Denmark worsen a labor shortage.” I’d add the link but Dan probably won’t mod the post, but you can google it.

    “As a self-employed software engineer, Thomas Sorensen broadcasts his qualifications to potential employers across Europe and the Middle East. But to the ones in his native Denmark, he is simply unavailable.
    Settled in Frankfurt, where he handles computer security for a major Swiss corporation, Sorensen, 34, has no plans to return to the days of paying sky-high Danish taxes. Still, an unknowing headhunter does occasionally pass his name to Danish companies.
    “When I get an e-mail from them, I either respond negatively but politely,” Sorensen said. “Or I don’t respond at all.”
    Born and trained at Denmark’s expense, but working – and paying lower taxes – elsewhere in Europe, Sorensen is the stuff of nightmares for Danish companies and politicians searching for solutions to an increasingly desperate labor shortage.
    People like Sorensen, and there are many, epitomize the challenges facing the small Nordic country, long viewed across Europe as an example of how to keep an economy thriving and a society equal.
    Young Danes, often schooled abroad and inevitably fluent in English, are primed to quit Denmark for greener pastures. One reason is the income tax rate, which can reach 63 percent.”

    I personally know individuals who this affects. So I just googled it (tax rates denmark) and this was the top story. Perfect explanation. The story is much longer, but this captures the essence.

    1.6% unemployment because the tax rate is scaring off many of the best and brightest young executives. Over there, patriotic means to leave or to get stuck.

    I was there not long ago, so I can attest to their great infrastructure and socialist benefits. It seems like a little Utopia. But then again, I was just visiting and didn’t have to give up most of my salary to the government.

  • nelsonart

    Lee,

    Why do you think all the innovation occurs in America? 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.

    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.

    Sorry…I’ll keep my horrible standard of living in America as I pursue the things that make me happy, without govt. stealing from my pocketbook.

  • WebManWalking

    Was it my imagination? Or did I hear her say “nucular”?

    Not exactly distancing herself from Bush.

  • Realtosh

    So my point is that although I’m eager to knock the neocons off their perch, I’m not at all eager to embrace liberal politics.

  • Realtosh

    Anyone who feels a need to fit me into either cohort, has a very limited cerebral flexibility.

  • Realtosh

    Say it isn’t so, there you go again, Joe, I mean daniel.

    We got here after 8 years of Bush and 8 years of Clinton. They have contributed equally to not giving us solutions.

    For example, the immigration problem dates back to the 80’s since the (last) amnesty. We gave everyone here a free pass to stay. Then we didn’t adjust the amount of legal immigration to fulfill our needs to additional labor and skills. We just looked the other way while many “undocumented workers” just flowed across our borders like found gold. Clinton didn’t fix this problem that Bush inherited. McCain had been advocating a rational immigration policy since before he ran for President in 2000, which means in was during Clinton’s Presidency. Bush inherited that problem. He tried multiple times to push immigration policy. He was nailed by the liberals saying it wasn’t enough. He was nailed by the right-wingers saying it was too much. A coalition of the most liberal and the most conservative killed any chance that Bush had to get any new immigration policy passed in the Congress. McCain was with the moderate liberals and the moderate conservatives trying to join the President in issuing a rational immigration policy.

    See liberals and conservatives can both be obstructionists.

    Clinton had the good fortune of having a Republican congress, for most of his time in office. They kept him in line fiscally, and allowed him to be part of one of the greatest expansions in our country’s history. I’m ashamed that they didn’t do the same for Bush. Damn those neocons and their political tentacles.

    Unfortunately, if Obama wins which is likelier by the day, he will have a Democrat Congress, which have had a multi-decade record of not having having fiscal control. Dem Congress with Dem Congress is a dangerous combination. Maybe, we’ll get lucky that Obama and the Democrats will overplay their hand, and there will be a radical change in Congress in 2010.

    Republican Congress with Republican President didn’t work. Democrat Congress with Democrat President doesn’t have much chance of being better. God save our country, cause we’re making a mess of it.

  • David Wintheiser

    @ shiver me timbers

    The American Constitution requires our currency to be backed by gold. It is unconstitutional to print money not backed by gold.

    Both you and Ron Paul need to

    a) review the Constitution, and
    b) read the Supreme Court finding in Knox v Lee, 79 U.S. 457 (1871)

    (the link for b: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=79&invol=457, and the most relevant passage:

    “We are not aware of anything else which has been advanced in support of the proposition that the legal tender acts were forbidden by either the letter or the spirit of the Constitution. If, therefore, they were, what we have endeavored to show, appropriate means for legitimate ends, they were not transgressive of the authority vested in Congress.”)

    The idea that the Constitution requires a gold standard is only about 140 years out of date.

  • nelsonart

    Dan,

    Could you post outside of others’ posts? I always miss the good stuff looking for slight differences in the text from prior posts.

    What the hell is a jingo?

  • nat

    nelsonart said:

    “What the hell is a jingo?”

    jingo: a vociferous supporter of policy favoring war, esp. in the name of patriotism.

  • http://www.geoffrobinson.net geoffrobinson

    Lee made an interesting point, but went off the rails when he started talking about Netherlands and their stability. Liberals don’t have as many children. You can’t have long-term have stability with an elderly-heavy population. Especially a society with an expensive welfare state.

  • http://scottwhite.blogspot.com/ kibbled_bits

    Dan,

    As a Catholic Conservative, factually many of the comments you make are true. While our philosophies are different I look forward to next time I’m in San Francisco having a beer or coffee with you and debating these subjects.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Realtosh

    I dislike hypocrisy.

    The VP debate had 2 candidates. Feverishly, both tried hard to burnish their middle class image.

    One is criticized for being “a millionaire”, even though she is the daughter of two school secretary and a science teacher, who moved their entire family during her lifetime to Alaska looking for a better life , from rural northern Idaho.

    The other candidate, Biden, likely had a similar scrappy humble background to riches story.

    But somehow it’s wrong that the Palins have money because they worked hard for their money, working a small family fishing operation; while it’s ok for Biden to have gotten rich on his Senate salary. That’s obviously superior morally and ethically.

    Hypocrites!!!! Hypocrites!!!! Hypocrites!!!!

    You guys have a double standard in all of your criticism.
    At least I call them all bums on both sides. You guys call one half evil, while the other side with whom you agree make doo doo that smells like roses.

    I have stated clearly many times that have problems with both right-winger neo-cons and extreme liberals. I have clearly shown that although I am extremely disappointed in the neocons’ hijacking of the agenda, that I am not prepared to accept a wholesale change to liberal ideology. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to adopt a liberal agenda. Not wanting a liberal agenda does not make me a neocon, it makes a rational being.

    I am not a moron. Your characterizations are much less than flattering. Just because I know that I don’t agree with a liberal/ socialist agenda, you crucify me repeatedly. At least I have the courage to speak up. I have given example after example over the course of 2 weeks, where my positions depart from both right-wingers and liberals, yet you acknowledge none of it, trying to reduce my criticism to mere name calling. Many of the same of you have complained that my comments are too long and too detailed.

    You nuts keep saying that I’m just name-calling and that I don’t give examples. It’s not my fault that you hypocrites don’t read the many examples that I wrote.

    It’s not ok for any of you to complain that I don’t give examples on one hand, then complain that my posts are too long and give too much detail on the other. It’s just like the Windows shills to argue both sides of the same argument to argue for their own position against all reason.

    Hypocrites!!!! Hypocrites!!!! Hypocrites!!!!

    Just because my positions are different than yours makes me no less a human being than yourselves. Why are some of you you so challenged that I disagree with your echo chamber?

    It is good to hear various points of view. They help illuminate your own positions, and force you to hold more rational positions, not just emotional reactions.

    Maybe I was wrong to think that a rational discourse was possible on this blog with the obvious bias that has been present all along.

    Obama says,”There is not a liberal America. There is not a conservative America. There is just the United States of America.” Then if you look at his policy, his record, and his platform, you see that it is a fairly traditional liberal Democrat platform. Any sane moderate would be justifiably disappointed, after getting their hopes all worked up. I guess it is too much for unabashed liberals to accept at face value. Right-wing conservatives would not have been disappointed because they would’ve known better than to have any hopes that a Democrat would be able to have the best answers.

    Being more moderate, and hearing the rhetoric, I allowed myself the luxury to hope that Obama would truly be post-partisan. My research seems to indicate the opposite, yet I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that Obama will truly be post-partisan. Luckily, with so much post-partisan rhetoric, hopefully, we’ll be able to hold Obama to his message.

  • Realtosh

    On a side note to our European readers:

    Some may be confused by the liberal democrat label. In many European countries that label applies to center left and in some countries center right parties. In fact, I’ve voted for a center-right party that was known as the Liberal Democrats a few years back in Europe.

    In the US, liberal Democrats are at the socialist end of the spectrum. For them, there isn’t a problem for which the government doesn’t have a solution.

    Sorry for the interruption. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  • sgw

    As is the fact that Obama was second in the amount of money it received from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Why? What made him so special. I can understand why Dodd was number one. Perhaps we will learn before the election.

    Your right and Obama is the perfect example. He uses the slogan of “Change” while his background suggests otherwise. Obama has advanced by conforming the Chicago politic machine unlike Palin, who advanced by challenging the corrupt Alaskan Republican machine. Throw in some creative sets, custom logos, soaring rhetoric and some fireworks and you have a classic example of what you just stated. He talks about “Change” then chooses a Washington insider. He tries to compare McCain to Bush, then votes with Bush on the Bailout. We are about to elected the most inexperience candidate who has not been thoroughly scrutinized.

    No, Democrats are the cause! This is one case in which the Democratics can take most of the credit for this financial mess. The Bush administration attempted to impose more regulation back in 2003 only to be stopped by mostly Democrats (with some Republicans) such as Dodd, Frank and many more. If fact, Republicans many times tried to impose tough regulation to only be rejected by Democrates in Congress. The problem lies in Government, not deregulation or free markets. They were run as a private company to make money for the shareholders while being subjected to the political needs of Congress with taxpayer subjected to the risk. Because they were GSE, they were not subject to normal market forces. Democrats used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in order to push their agenda of increasing home ownership to low income people, even if they couldn’t afford it. In turn, the GSE’s pumped more money to the Democrats in part to stop any further regulation (it also help Democrats get votes to keep them in Congress too). Bush’s fault lies in the fact that he didn’t stand up and fight the Democrats in Congress much the same way he fought against them in their dangerous timeline pullout policy for Iraq.

    [Not sure who you’re trying to convince here, but the country and the world is pretty clear on who is to blame for Bush’s economic ruin and the Bush Bailout. Even the RNC carefully made no mention of Bush (outside of his wife’s speech.)

    You might better invest your breath in posting McCain=Change somewhere that the people are stupider. McCain is a cancerous cranky old version of Bush. He’s in rapid slide mode. At this point I’m pretty sure McCain is going to lose. But in any event, you’re barking up the wrong tree to suggest up is down here. ]

  • sgw

    Oops, previous paragraphs were response to follow statements. Your statements didn’t show in my previous post.

    [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.]

    [It remains Bush’s Bailout, caused by Bush’s Economic Policy Failure.]

  • http://twibe.com trainwrecka

    the jingo ate cho’ baby

  • gus2000

    Jingo bells
    Jingo bells
    Jingo all the way