Friday, September 26, 2008

Bennett's gone Washington

Not that he ever was a man of the people--a millionaire son of a Senator who was tangentially involved in the Watergate Scandal (so much so that at least one author wondered if Bennett was Deep Throat)--is hardly like most Utahns.

But this week he and the traditional media thought he was the "go-to" Republican Senator for the Wall Street bailout bill. Funny thing happened though....John McCain's had a temper tantrum and instead of being himself the go-to Senator, he helped enable House Republicans from bailing on the deal, and now it is DOA. And now WaMu just went under (and was swallowed up my Chase) and the market tumbled down even more.

How out of touch is Bennett that he didn't see the popular revolt against this bill coming? Liberals and Conservatives are screaming bloody murder about it, as are non-ideologues who won small businesses. Mom and Pop businesses don't get bailed out. I guess they don't give enough campaign contributions to people like Bennett to notice. And yes Sen. Bennett this includes us Uthans too, we don't like it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

multi-tasking and masking

I don't get it. First McCain plays the bold maverick who cancels a $5 million debate at the last minute to "suspend" his campaign so that he can focus on the Masters of the Universe Wall Street Welfare Act of 2008.

Yet McCain still has yet to read Sec. Paulson's now thankfully defunct power grab bailout plan. And both Republicans and Democrats who have been working on their version of the bill have implicitly and explicitly stated that they don't need or want McCain around the negotiations.

And nothing really has been suspended in McCain's campaigning for the presidency. His ads are still running in the 15 battleground states. McCain surrogates are still on TV and online forums attacking Obama and praising their guy. So was this all bluster and stunt? Can McCain not handle debate prep on foreign policy and reading a 4 page bill/calling his colleagues to find out the latest on the bill?

I don't think so. If you noticed, in McCain's proposal to scrap tomorrow's foreign policy debate, he proposed rescheduling that debate for the night of the VP debate between Palin and Biden and having those two debate at some other undetermined time. Given the fact that Palin has been terrible in TV interviews unless the "reporter" is a right-wing activist, and Palin has been secluded from scrutiny for weeks now, this is a pretty transparent effort to scrap the VP debate altogether.

All and all, I doubt this move will actually make McCain look mavericky, but rather it will make McCain look frightened and Obama cool and collected. In a word, presidential.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

forced equivalants

Traditional Journalists working for print, radio, and TV sources still seem to believe that being "objective" and "balanced" means to parrot what "both sides" of the story and let the reader/listener/viewer decide where the truth lies. But one if one is saying up is down? The response has been to repeat that too. Or less bad, what if one candidate is doing something bad, but in order to seem "fair," the press use that candidate's trumped up "but he's just as bad as me" research against the other candidate?

Well both have happened in the last eight years, and yesterday I saw a classic example of the latter. McCain hired as his White House transition guy someone who "earned more than a quarter of a million dollars this year representing Freddie Mac, one of the companies McCain blames for the nation's financial crisis." And this guy wasn't just a lobbyist for them once upon a time, he was "registered to lobby for Freddie Mac from 2000 through this month." "McCain's campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations"...let that sink in for a minute. Most experts think lack of regulation is at least one of the causes for this financial mess. And most recent college grads don't make $30,000 a year, I didn't make more than $30,000 until after law school, five years out of college.

But on CNN, they only talked about Rick Davis (they said $35,000 a month) and then compared this to Obama having Jim Johnson, a former Fannie Mae CEO in the 1990s, who headed Obama's VP search committee for a few months. And then also mentioned another former Fannie CEO who the McCain campaign in a TV ad claims Obama got advice from because some articles called him an Obama adviser, something anyone claims who wants to seem close to a candidate.

Oh and the Obama campaign claims that "26 McCain advisers and fund-raisers who have lobbied for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac." Let's see 26 lobbyists working for the McCain campaign versus two ex-CEOs, one of whom met Obama once for like 5 minutes. In what world are these two the same thing?

Monday, September 22, 2008

deep breath

While the Investment Banks continue to fall like dominoes on Wall Street, Congress should take a big step back before they sign off on this $700 Billion bill to do who knows what for our financial system.

Over the last few decades, Congress has slowly given the Presidency more and more of its Constitutionally-granted powers in the form of the creation of dozens of administrative agencies, and generally in the arena of foreign policy. The reasons for this are one part logistics/practicality and one part politics. If something goes wrong, it is always easier to making speeches or ask embarrassing questions than it is to actually do something about it.

This president has gone further than any president since Richard Nixon or Andrew Jackson or Thomas Jefferson in claiming the other branches are powerless to impede on his powers. Under the Cheney/Woo/Addington Unitary Executive theory, President Bush has eagerly grabbed powers no president before him has dared claim, and has been smacked down occasionally by the Supreme Court for it. Not that Bush paid much heed.

But Congress' contemplation of turning over the keys of the national economy to the Treasury Department and Fed is one step too far. Moreover, the amount of money in this bill--from what little we learn in the press--is greater than we have ever spent in Iraq and given to a president. Now is not the time for a handful Congressional "leaders" who have been in DC for decades to meet behind closed doors with the Administration and hammer out some phone book sized bill that will be rushed to a vote within hours.

Now is the time for hearings, advice from people who didn't cause the problem, and creative solutions to prevent more banks from collapsing before our eyes. Above all else, now is not the time to rush to judgment based on panicky calls from bankers in New York.