November 4

I’m going to be working, not blogging, tomorrow morning, November 4, 2008, so feel free to consider this an open thread.  I can’t let this occasion go by without a few words, though.

On the candidates:

If you believe government can solve most of our problems; if you believe Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are better at spending your money than you are; if you believe that the government exists to redistribute wealth from those it defines as rich to those victim groups it classes as deserving; if you believe that we ought to continue to be dependent on energy sources in the hands of our enemies; if you believe that the best defense is to disarm yourself; if you believe that the government should control the press to ensure “freedom”; if you believe that there should be no limits on immigrants coming into the country or on the benefits extended to those immigrants; and if you believe that judges shouldn’t just decide law, but should make it, according to their personal preferences, then you should definitely vote for Obama.

However, if you believe that you, not Barack/Pelosi/Reid, are the master of your own destiny; if you believe that a country must have secure borders and controlled immigration to remain strong; if you believe that government doesn’t make money, people make money; if you believe that the best defense is to appear ready, willing and able to fight to defend yourself; if you believe that your country should be energy independent for both security and economic purposes; if you believe in a free press unhindered by government mandated “fairness”; and if you believe that judges’ job is to apply the law and the legislature’s job is to make it (although make as little of it as possible), then you should definitely vote for McCain.

On the election tomorrow:

The most important thing you should do is ignore the media entirely and VOTE.  The media will err about reporting closing times for voting.  The media will enthusiastically report that Obama is winning in a landslide according to exit polls, but its talking heads will neglect to explain that, traditionally, conservatives don’t respond to exit polls, making the results completely one-sided and meaningless.  The media will declare certain Eastern states for Obama long before actual results are in — with the result that people west of the Mississippi might think it’s pointless to vote.

It’s never pointless to vote.  If you think you might be too late to vote, don’t rely on the media to check poll closing times.  Go check the polling place out yourself.  Take the time to drive up to your polling place and see if you can get in.

Every vote, from every person, in every state counts.  If you are the last person voting on the furthest island of Hawaii tomorrow, YOUR VOTE COUNTS.  Please remember the infinitesimally small margin by which Bush won Florida in 2000.  EVERY VOTE COUNTS.  I cannot guarantee that we will win if all of us vote tomorrow, but I can guarantee that we will lose if we allow the media to bamboozle us into walking away from the polls before the last polling place is locked and the lights turned out.

And one more thing:  if Obama wins tomorrow — and it’s entirely possible that he will — do not throw temper tantrums and announce that you’re moving someplace where conservatives are respected (and good luck finding that place, anyway).  Instead, immediately begin to work, not for 2012, but for 2010.  Because I can almost promise you that, after a mere two years of non-stop, all encompassing Democratic rule, voters will be desperate to throw the Democrats out of the House and Senate.  Then, having accomplished that goal, start working for 2012, when Palin and Cantor and Jindal and Steele, and a whole host of other exciting young conservatives will be chomping at the bit to take over the reins of government.

It’s true that an all-Democratic government led by Obama can do a lot of damage in a short time, but it will do even more damage if we turn away in disgust and cede government entirely to the Democratic agenda.  We still have a voice in this country and we will continue to have a voice even if the first thing the Democrats do is pass a new Fairness Doctrine.  When the old Fairness Doctrine was wiped out, everyone was surprised by the pent-up hunger for conservative thought.  This time, though, we know that hunger exists, and we will find an outlet by which to feed it.

But let’s not worry about that future.  Instead….

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE

A few more McCain endorsements

There’s one word that inevitably comes to mind when I think of the Paragraph Farmer:  thoughtful.  Patrick looks deeply into issues, rather than just skating over the surface.  If you scootch yourself over to this link, you will see a very thoughtful post explaining why Patrick is voting for McCain — and, if you’re a little shy of McCain, it might just convince.

And for a series of McCain endorsements, Soccer Dad has assembled a whole bunch of ‘em, including one from yours truly.  Some of your favorite conservative bloggers are represented there, and you may find interesting their three sentence encomiums for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Jonah Goldberg also keys in on the issues

My big push in the next two weeks is to keep the focus on the two parties’ differing visions of America.  It’s much easier to get a handle on the big picture, and avoids the mud-slinging associated with the personalities lined up behind these ideological views.  I’ve pointed out that, if you like big government, whether it’s supposedly benefitting you or actually burdening you, pick Obama/Biden, no matter the problems with those candidates.  Likewise, if you like smaller government (because, sadly, there is no small government), even though it means you get fewer benefits, go for McCain/Palin.

Jonah Goldberg (unsurprisingly) is also writing about these huge ideological divides — statism versus individualism, small government versus big government — divides that transcend personality.  His starting point is by-now-very-symbolic Joe the Plumber:

Wurzelbacher symbolizes an optimistic, individualistic vision of America sorely lacking — until recently — in McCain’s rhetoric.

Barack Obama, in contrast, has offered the most rhetorically eloquent defense of collectivism since Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his biographical video at the Democratic convention, he proclaimed that in America, “one person’s struggle is all of our struggles.” In his acceptance speech, he artfully replaced the idea of the American dream with the century-old progressive nostrum of “America’s promise.”

But the two visions are in opposition: the former individualistic, the latter collectivist. We each have our own idea of the American dream. Joe the Plumber’s is to own a small plumbing company; yours might be something else entirely. In America, that’s fine, because the pursuit of happiness is an individual, not a collective, right.

Obama’s “America’s promise,” meanwhile, harkens back a century to the writings of such progressives as Herbert Croly (author of The Promise of American Life), who demonized individualism while sanctifying collective action overseen by the state. Obama often articulates a vision of government inspired by the biblical injunction to be our brother’s keeper. Few would dispute the moral message, but many disagree that such religious imperatives are best translated into tax or economic policy. (Where are the separation-of-church-and-state fetishists when you need them?) But individualists haven’t had much of a voice in McCain, at least not until last week.

I’m sure you’ll want to read the rest, which you’ll find here.

Obama’s positions — some of which you might not like

At HotAir, you can read this long, detailed and thoughtful post examining Obama’s positions on myriad issues.  As you read the post, think about what I was trying to say yesterday:  figure out what beliefs you hold, and then match them to the candidate.  We’ve been so personality driven this election, that it’s been all too easy to say Obama = smart, dumb, honest, crooked, inspired, drab, inexperienced, etc., or Palin = savvy, idiotic, conservative, wacky, intelligent, inexperienced, experienced, etc.  All these adjectives are easy to throw around, but neither adjective in this war of words (or invective) presents an honest assessment of the beliefs these two lightening rods hold.

As I said before, if your fundamental belief is that government is the answer, Obama, whether he’s smart, dumb, honest, dishonest, or whatever, is your candidate.  (Although you might want to heed Biden’s warning that America will be attacked by a foreign entity and Obama’s response will challenge even the faithful.)

On the other hand, if you think government’s role is to protect Americans’ freedom as much as possible, and to step in only to police deviations from honesty, than the McCain-Palin ticket is your answer, and that’s true regardless of whether you think McCain is old, experienced, too aggressive, not aggressive enough, or whatever.  Incidentally, I’d add to this that you’re a McCain-Palin kind of voter if you don’t like OPEC manipulating world oil prices to our detriment and pouring the profits into funding radical Islam around the world.

Anyway, ignore the personalities and the invective.  Look at your beliefs, align them with the candidates’ records (not their rhetoric), and vote accordingly.

One other reminder:  For those who are pro-Choice, but are in all other respects aligned with the McCain-Palin ticket, please don’t let that stop you from voting for them.  The worst that will happen is what should have happened all along, before the dishonest Roe v. Wade opinion (and even abortion proponents concede its dishonesty):  The issue will be recognized as one that is not a proper matter for federal involvement and will be returned to the States.

In blue states, it will remain entirely legal.  In purple states, it will remain entirely or mostly legal.  In the handful of true, blue red states, it might, might be narrowed, although it will always be available in cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother.

I know this is an important issue for conservative pro-Choicers, but don’t let it narrow your frame of reference so much that it blinds you to all the other important issues, many of which will have more and greater impact on the greatest number of Americans than abortion ever will.

A heartening rumor

I have no idea if this email, which I got from the local Republican grapevine, is true, so I offer it for whatever you think it’s worth:

Good morning,

I wanted to pass along something heard Saturday at a community event. As most of you may know, Zogby International is headquartered in our neck of the woods in Utica. I happened to chat with a couple of people who work for Zogby and were quite emphatic about the recent 2-3 point Obama edge. They said, did not imply, that it’s even closer. The reason? Zobgy contractually is required to poll more Democrats than Republicans. The folks who passed along this intel are strong supporters of McCain-Palin working for the very big Democrat John Zogby. They stressed that the Zogby lunch table buzz is that this is a dead heat and right now is the time that McCain can win the election.

It could just be our version of psy-ops, but who knows?

Tonight’s debate

I’m not sure I need to watch tonight’s debate, because I already know how it’s going to play out:

SCHIEFFER:  Good evening, gentlemen.  You already know the rules, so let’s start with the questions.  Sen. Obama, the first question is for you:  Please describe for the American voters the way in which your economic plan is going to ensure that everyone will end up wealthy.

OBAMA:  Thank you, Bob.  Briefly:  wealth, blah, blah, blah, pie, blah, blah, blah, wealth, blah, blah, blah, pie, blah, blah, blah, fair, blah, blah, blah, hope, blah, change.

SCHIEFFER:  Sen. McCain, could you please discuss the details of your plan to cut taxes on oil companies?

McCAIN:  Thank you, Bob.  Before I get to my own plan, I’d like to discuss a point Sen. Obama made.  You see, he errs, when he….

SCHIEFFER:  Did you say “Ayers” Sen. McCain?  I’m sorry, but we’re out of time for your answer.  My next question is for you Sen. Obama.  Jesse Jackson recently said that “zionists” will lose their “clout” under an Obama administration.  Can you please comment on that statement.

OBAMA:  First, let me say that that is not the Jesse Jackson I knew.  Second, let me assure the American people that each of my advisors, past or present, whether Samantha Power, Robert Malley, Jeremiah Wright, George Soros, Zbigniew Bzrezinski, etc., are all (cough, cough), uh, stdfjd suerrureuf of Israel.

SCHIEFFER:  Excuse me, Sen. Obama.  Did you say that they are “staunch supporters of Israel?”

OBAMA:  Cough, cough.  Ahem.  Uh, uh, uh, why yes, Bob, I believe I did.  Yeah.  That’s the ticket.  Yeah, they’re all staunch supporters of Israel.

SCHIEFFER:  Sen. McCain, do you have a response?

McCAIN:  Bob, I don’t believe Sen. Obama is right about….

SCHIEFFER:  Uh, Sen. McCain, did you say “Wright?”  I’m sorry, but we’re out of time for your response.  Next question is for you Sen. McCain.  The Bush administration recently announced that it is removing North Korea from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” Can you please comment on that point, and be sure to describe all treaties with North Korea, and their outcome, since the end of active hostilities in the 1950s.

McCAIN:  I’m glad you asked that question, Bob.  As I often like to say, great oaks from little acorns grow….

SCHIEFFER:  Did you say “ACORN,” Sen. McCain?  I’m sorry, but we’re out of time for your response.

OBAMA:  Can I interrupt here for a minute, Bob?

SCHIEFFER:  Of course you can, Senator.

OBAMA:  I’d just like to say, with regard to North Korea, that blah, blah, small country, blah, blah, talk, blah, blah, no cowboy diplomacy, blah, blah, hope, blah, change, blah, blah pie, pie, pie.

SCHIEFFER:  Thank you, Senator.  That’s very insightful.  Sen. McCain, do you have anything to add to what Sen. Obama said?

McCAIN:  I simply can’t agree with Sen. Obama’s optimism regarding North Korea.  It’s one of the most brutal socialist regimes in the world, and unless that government opens itself up to a new party….

SCHIEFFER:  Sen. McCain, did you say “New Party?”  I’m sorry, sir, but we’re out of time for your response.  Next question for you, Sen. Obama:  Describe the way in which your health care plan will ensure that every person now living in America will have full, top flight health care.

OBAMA:  I’m glad you asked that, Bob.  Under my plan, every American will have full, top flight health care — for free, all of it paid for by the oil companies and other corporate parasites preying on the brave American taxpayer.  Indeed, within a few years, under my plan, our health care will improve so much that we’ll be the envy of other nations, and we’ll be able to hold our heads up with pride when comparing ourselves to such stellar universal health care systems as those found in Cuba, England, Germany, and the rest of the socialized, um, I mean civilized, world.

SCHIEFFER:  We’ve run out of time for a rebuttal there, Sen. McCain, but I’ll direct my next question to you.  You’ve said that you believe that the American economy, which has been in free-fall for the past two weeks, and which seems to be entering the next Great Depression, is fundamentally strong.  Please explain, with statistics, where you come by this notion.

McCAIN:  It’s true that right now we’re seeing a serious market downturn, and I have to say that I did predict this a few years ago, when I actively sought oversight of the way in which banks were being forced to hand out loans to unqualified lenders, all with the assurance that Fannie and Freddie would buy them, insure them (knowing that the taxpayers would bear any losses), and resell them.  But in answer to your question, I believe in the American economy, because I believe in Americans.  Just the other day, in Wichita, I got to speak to Maurice Seger and Linda Mezzo about….

SCHIEFFER:  I’m sorry, Sen. McCain.  Did you say Pfleger and Rezko?  I see from our clock that we have run out of time for this debate.  Thank you, gentlemen, for you participation.  It is always a privilege to be part of an effort that allows the American people to see their presidential candidates and hear what they have to say on the issues.

To a hammer, everything is a nail (or, let’s talk racism)

Our world view determines how we process new data.  If your world view is bounded by race, every new bit of information is going to be run through that racial filter, and divided into “racist” or “non-racist” categories.  If you only have two intake bins, the information has to go into one of them.  For Obama and his supporters, with their two bins, the logical approach after new data is run through their narrow filter is to dump anything negative into the “racist” bin.

We’ve seen this happening for a while, and the S.F. Chron (which is one of those binary “everything is racist (or not)” hammers) has a very good article on the subject.  Not “good” because it’s objective and intelligent, but “good” because it is the perfect paradigm of the identity politics paranoia that permeates this campaign. I’ll just quote and fisk a few paragraphs to give you an idea of what I mean:

While Obama’s campaign has fended off racially rooted attacks since its inception [Absolutely no racist attacks have come from the Republican party or from McCain.  Instead, Obama has been fending off potential racist attacks that live only in his imagination.], analysts say the ones surfacing in the past few days have been more overt, arriving as many undecided voters are making their final decision. They are part of a recent stream of attacks on his background, including his religion and his connections to a former ’60s radical.  [I lived through the 60s.  Radicals came in all colors.  The only black ones were the Panthers.  The vast majority were, like Ayers and Dohrn, white.]

[snip]

Instead of using a grainy photo of a grizzled convict as Atwater did, the current attacks, analysts say, are embedded in “coded” language. They cite as examples Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin portraying Obama as a cultural outsider and friend to terrorists [Two factual words:  Arugula and Ayers.]  and the dismissive way his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, referred to Obama at their Tuesday night debate as “that one.”  [That wasn't about race, that Freudian slip was about Obama's delusions of Messiah-like grandeur, and a journalist who was not blinkered by the binary racism filter would have realized that.]

[snip]

Then there have been the speakers at McCain-Palin rallies who continue, unchecked by the candidates, to refer to “Barack Hussein Obama” – the emphasis on his middle name is an implication that Obama, who is a Christian, is Muslim. [I hate to say it, but Hussein is, in fact, his middle name.  Nobody got upset when we referred to William Jefferson Clinton.  When I'm mad at my children, I emphasize that fact by calling them by all three names.  It is a way of calling them out and making yourself heard.]  The latest occurred Wednesday in Pennsylvania, when Bill Platt, the Lehigh County Republican chairman, mentioned Obama’s former reluctance to wear an American flag lapel pin and said: “Think about how you’ll feel on Nov. 5 if you see the news that Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, is president of the United States.”  [Yeah, let's call Obama out for being un-American.  Call him out, by all three names, to make sure he listens.]

‘Nuff said.  You get the point.

As for how we should respond, I think we should ignore them and do what we need.  A little anecdote might be useful here.

About thirty years ago, I got my hands on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp, she of Sound of Music fame.  While most of what I read in that book instantly went down my own personal memory hole, one anecdote stuck with me forever.  von Trapp described herself as something of a deliquent growing up.  Whether she was in a home or a school or an orphanage, I don’t recall, but it was a place that assumed that all children were doing bad things.  The policy therefore, was to beat the child daily on the assumption that, even if the caregiver hadn’t seen the naughty acts, the child had certainly engaged in such acts, making punishment appropriate.  Maria von Trapp drew the logical conclusion:  if she was going to be beaten regardless of whether she was good or bad, she might as well have the fun of being bad.

In this case, since the McCain campaign is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t — no matter what it says, it’s racist — it should stop trying to edit itself, and just say what needs to be said.  The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that the McCain campaign does not now and never has had any intention of being racist in the traditional mode of saying that Obama is defective because of his race.  So, free yourself little McCain birdies and fly.  Whether you’re in the nest or in the sky, the media vultures will be watching.

(Oh, and if you really want classic racism, in the form of a statement that assumes that most blacks are inferior, with a few significant exceptions, check this one out.)

And I’ll remind you once more that I’m a racist and proud of it — so long as I, like the Democrats, get to define the term to suit my own purposes.

Laer also has thoughts about this “code” we’ve all suddenly learned how to speak and interpret.

Debating whether to watch the debate *UPDATE*

While hustling the kids through homework, dinner and bed time, I’ve still read tons of debate live blogs — American Thinker, Contentions, Michelle Malkin, the Corner, Power Line — and the verdict from each of them is the same:  the debate was b-o-r-i-n-g, all three (Brokaw, McCain and Obama) performed badly, and nothing happened to change the status quo that sees Obama slightly ahead.  Indeed the one verdict I read (and I can no longer remember where) that best summed up what everyone was saying was that Obama succeeded in looking like central casting’s version of the generic black president on a TV show, which may be good enough for most Americans.

Tell me now:  is there any reason I should watch the debate, or should I just delete it from TiVo and have done with it?  If Michael Graham, at the Corner, is right, I’d be a lot happier watching one of the lovely old movies I’ve saved on TiVo:

It wasn’t a debate — there was no “debating.” It wasn’t a town hall — the people didn’t speak. It wasn’t an interview — there were virtually no follow-ups. It wasn’t a contest of ideas. The two “contestants” shared most of the same ideas.

This was a lost 90 minutes out of my life, and a huge, irreplaceable, lost opportunity for the McCain campaign. Why is it that a maverick like McCain allowed himself to be led by the nose like this?

Fred Barnes on FOX is making the point right now that Rick Warren did a better job than this.

UPDATE: The Anchoress has a wonderful collection of reactions. The most interesting, to me, is the fact that Intrade dropped Obama drastically — by 24 points.  Apparently Obama was so lugubrious that he lost points to the vital, happy warrior, Sarah Palin.

McCain — not a wuss, but a strategist

Charlie Martin makes a nice argument, which is that McCain has been setting Obama up for all the hits McCain is suddenly throwing at him.  I don’t know if I believe this, since it strikes me as pretty dangerous to wait until the last 30 days to launch these assaults.  Still, I like how it makes McCain look powerful and Machiavellian, rather than helpless and reactive.

Gloves off

At the fundraiser I attended yesterday, Palin promised that McCain was listening to the repeated request that he “take the gloves off.”  Her promise was good, and he was listening:

Finally! Let’s hope that this same McCain shows up at tomorrow’s debate.

Lisa Schiffren also has some good ideas about how to keep the pressure. Now is not the time to give up. That’s what they want, not what we need.  We need to ignore their shout-outs about McCain’s defeat, and press on to victory.  (A word that, as Palin says, Obama uses only with regard to himself and not ever with regard to America.)

Keeping the faith *UPDATED*

I did something kind of special today:  I went to a big fundraiser and heard Sarah Palin speak before a relatively small audience (1,200 of her closest friends in Northern California).  There are definitely perks to being a political volunteer.

I had a wonderful time, too.  I got to check people in, and everybody was so very happy to be there.  If things were a little wrong with the contents of their envelope (tickets, name tags, etc), they were so cheerful about it, just because they felt that they were in a special place, at a special time.

Once my volunteer stint finished, I was able to go into the large ballroom, pull up a chair, have a lovely brunch, and listen to Sarah Palin speak.  She didn’t say anything you haven’t already heard:  she spoke about her accomplishments, about John McCain’s accomplishments, about cleaning house in Washington, and about Obama’s association with Bill Ayers.  She gave a funny apology for the Couric interview, saying that the fault was hers, because she wanted to talk about substance, and Couric kept asking her insubstantial questions that frustrated her.

It’s always interesting to see in person someone you’ve only seen on TV, especially someone you’ve seen only in two settings:  before hostile interviewers or before tens of thousands of adoring fans.  In the more “intimate” setting of an approving, well-informed audience of 1,200, she was a true star.  Her rhythm is just great.  She knows how to time things, and she makes the whole speech sound very personal.

Palin had no teleprompter, just some notes in front of her, to which she referred occasionally.  She sounded very conversational and, the more conversational she sounded, the more charming she got.  Everyone sitting there (and everyone reading this post) knows and admires a woman just like her.  These women work with you, they carpool with you, they hang out at your kids sports with you, they’re at the bus stop, and sometimes you just socialize with them:  they’re funny, warm, incredibly competent, well-organized, attractive without being threatening.  It’s of these women that you always hear other women say “I’d hate her if she wasn’t so nice”  — with “hate” being the operative term for, “I’m incredibly jealous of this woman who makes me look lazy and incompetent,” but she’s just too delightful not to enjoy.

Watching Sarah, and feeling the enthusiasm and warmth in the room, made me realize that there is still hope for this campaign.  McCain has been declared politically dead over and over in the past two years, and he keeps coming back.  He’s a warrior, not some weenie guy who slinks away in the night.  And William Kristol reminds us that, in the waning days of the most bizarre campaign in American history, despair is our enemy (emphasis mine):

The odds are against John McCain and Sarah Palin winning this election. It’s not easy to make up a 6-point deficit in the last four weeks. But it can be done.

Look at history. The Gore-Lieberman ticket gained about 6 points in the final two weeks of the 2000 campaign. Ford-Dole came back more than 20 points in less than two months in the fall of 1976. Both tickets were from the party holding the White House, and both were running against inexperienced, and arguably risky, opponents.

What’s more, this year’s race has already–twice–moved by more than 6 points over a span of only a few weeks. The race went from McCain up 2 (these are the Real Clear Politics averages) on September 14 to Obama plus 6 on October 2, less than three weeks later. In the four weeks before that, the race had moved from Obama plus 5 on August 12 to McCain plus 2 on September 12.

So while there’s reason for McCain-Palin supporters to worry, there’s no reason to despair.

Despair is what the Obama campaign is hoping and working for. If a campaign can convince supporters of the other candidate that the race is effectively over, the enthusiasm and volunteer efforts drop off–as does, ultimately, their turnout on Election Day. Just as important, undecided and loosely affiliated voters become persuaded there’s no real contest and lose any incentive to look closely at the candidates. This explains the efforts of the Obama campaign–aided by a colluding media–to sell the notion that the race is over, that McCain supporters should give up, and undecided voters should tune out.

Don’t despair. It’s not over ’til it’s over. Obama is worse than we thought, and McCain is better than we often give him credit for being. And Sarah is a great politician, with a wonderful future no matter what happens. All is not lost.

UPDATEA post from another blogger who was there and felt that same enthusiasm, with a bit more substance, too, than my impressionistic post.

UPDATE II:  Despite the enthusiasm, Melanie Morgan (who was there too) says that some of the movers and shakers want McCain to get off his derriere and do some moving and shaking of his own — and Palin did promise that he would.

A few comments about the debate *UPDATED*

I’ve watched almost all of the debate, but it’s bedtime now, and I’ll have to save the rest for later.  Three comments:

1.  The first, the most obvious, and the most pressing question:  How many botoxes did they kill to create that abnormally smooth, completely motionless forehead Biden was sporting?  That was creepy.

2.  Was I the only who noticed that Biden speaks in the language of class warfare, while Palin talks of American exceptionalism?

3.  Regarding the debacle on Wall Street, I wish someone would explain clearly the difference between deregulation, and the issue of oversight, which would have prevented this from happening.

The problem on Wall Street wasn’t deregulation.  Instead, it was a problem of too much regulation — that is, the government started telling banks how to loan money.  The instructions required loans that went against banks’ financial interests, so banks started doing funny-money stuff to protect themselves — and they did so with Fannie’s and Freddie’s active participation.  That was the Democratic side.

None of this would have happened if there had been oversight.  Oversight doesn’t mean telling Wall Street what to do, it means policing Wall Street to make sure that, when it makes business decisions, it does so honestly.

Obama/Biden want to increase how much government dictates to Wall Street, and we’ve seen what a disaster that is.  McCain/Palin want to get government out of bossing Wall Street around, and get government to do its more natural and appropriate role of policing Wall Street.

Those two concepts are hugely different from each other but, because nobody’s articulating this difference, including McCain and Palin, Obama and Biden are getting away with conflating the terms, muddying the waters, and besmirching McCain’s reputation and foresight.

Overall, Biden smirked but didn’t gaffe; Palin was a little nervous, but hit the high points.

UPDATE:  I see I was not the only one to notice Biden’s forehead shield.

UPDATE II:  I’m sure you’ve already read what the top bloggers have to say.  Here are links to what some of my friends (some of whom are coincidentally pretty top bloggers themselves) have to say:

The Anchoress (who has wonderful links)

Lorie Byrd at Wizbang

Steve Schippert at Wizbang

Cheat-Seeking Missiles

Brutally Honest

Flopping Aces

If you think someone wrote a particularly good debate post, please feel free to link in the comments.

Incapable of making up their minds? I don’t think so.

The polls reveal that “decideds” are swinging steadily to Obama (although Lord alone knows why), but that there are still a lot of undecideds out there.  I have a hard time comprehending the whole undecided thing in this race.  The candidates are not cut from the same cloth but, instead, stand in stark contrast to each other.  It’s not easy to get confused about most of the issues, and you’d really think that, after the most over-covered campaign in American history, people would have started to make up their minds.

I’ve therefore concluded that a lot of people have, in fact, made up their minds — they’re just embarrassed to admit to their choice.  Mr. Bookworm, for example, never misses an opportunity to slam Republicans generally, and Bush, McCain and Palin specifically.  Then he tells me he’s undecided.  Then he tells me McCain did horribly at the debate and Obama was great.  Then he tells me again he’s undecided.

I don’t think Mr. Bookworm is undecided.  I think he’s just embarrassed to admit that he’s planning on voting for the most unqualified candidate who has ever appeared in a presidential campaign.  (Since Mr. Bookworm reads only the New Yorker and the New York Times, and listens only to NPR, he doesn’t know about Ayers, et al, so that doesn’t add to the embarrassment he feels about his choice.)  I don’t believe Mr. Bookworm is alone.  I think there are others of these “Undecideds for Obama.”

I’m also willing to bet that there are people who are mirror images of Mr. Bookworm, and who writhe in agony when they think of Obama and Biden, but don’t feel comfortable admitting that they’re voting for an old white guy and a former Miss Alaska.  Those would be the “Undecideds for McCain.”

Only the election will tell which of these secretly committed voters is the larger group.  Because of the media’s amazingly effective job in propping up Obama (inflating his resume and hiding his manifest sins), I fear that the undecideds for Obama will win big.

Setting the bar to a new low *UPDATED*

Do you get the feeling that a lot of Democrats, having watched the first debate, are saying that their man is qualified to be in the White House merely because he managed not too drool all over himself and say anything too stupid?  That is, they’re acknowledging that, substantively, McCain was much better, but they’re willing to set the bar so low that it’s good enough that their candidate isn’t an idiot.  Scary days, my friends.

UPDATE:  I have more thoughts about the debate here, at my alternative blogging venue (on Saturdays), McCain-Palin 2008.

A new addition to the pantheon of memorable moments in debate history

If you’re like me, the second the debate ended, you got on your computer to check whether the consensus in the blogosphere jived with your own impressions of the first Presidential debate. I discovered that the general consensus (from both liberal and conservative bloggers) was that McCain scored on points. He held his own on the economy, and came into his own on foreign policy, an area in which Obama distinguished himself as a complete ignoramus. To see him try to argue his way out of his “no preconditions” statements was amusing.

I happen to be somewhat concerned, though, that the average American doesn’t react to the debates in the same way as we internet/political junkies do. When we watch the debates, we know the facts and arguments as well as the candidates do. When Obama lies, we recognize those lies for what they are. When McCain begins a good argument and then gets lost in elliptical phrasing or jargon, we still understand precisely what it is he actually meant to say, and are able to applaud the thought.

The average American, though, sees things a little differently. Obama has the lawyer’s practiced skill of being able to keep his lips moving and sound coming out, even as his brain his empty. Although his eyes looked a bit panicky, he kept emitting subjects, and verbs, and objects. You and I knew that what he was saying was nonsense, or canned, or irrelevant, or dishonest, but the average, less informed viewer heard only a smooth flow of subject and verb and object.

The opposite was true with McCain. McCain, like Bush 41 before him, can lapse into a telegraphic style of speech, where he starts a thought, pauses, and then abandons that thought to go on to a new one. In his own mind, he’s fully conveyed what he wished to say. The auditor, however, feels as if he is left hanging. You and I can fill in those blanks, because we know the facts, but the average listener may be waiting for the object that should have been attached to that subject, verb formulation.

This means that I’m a little less sanguine than blogosphere commenters who, focusing on substance, awarded more points to McCain than to Obama. Still, I’m not completely down-hearted, and that’s because I think Obama may have destroyed himself with a single statement. Those single statements can be killers. Sometimes they kill the person at whom they’re directed; and sometimes they kill the person speaking. You recall all of these, don’t you?

“Who am I? Why am I here?” Meant to be rhetorical, but sounding inept and bewildered, it was the start of the debacle that was poor Admiral Stockdale’s VP debate, and contributed significantly to the meaninglessness of Ross Perot’s presidential run.

“There you go again.” With that one statement, Ronald Reagan made Jimmy Carter sound like a fool. And it was delivered so sweetly. It wasn’t angry. Instead, it was the sort of fond exasperation a parent feels for the child who just can’t get it right.

“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” The pundits loved it. Lloyd Bentsen decimated the boyish looking (and Republican) Dan Quayle by putting him firmly in his place for having the temerity to compare himself to that Democratic icon, Jack Kennedy. It didn’t matter that, if he ran today, Kennedy’s policies would more closely align him with the Republicans. The insult was enough.

And from yesterday’s debate: “I’ve got a bracelet too.” A lot of conservatives want to give Obama heat for the fact that he couldn’t remember the name on his bracelet, but I actually find that forgivable. Obama was in the hot seat and, at moments like that (at least if you’re me), names are the first thing to go. The sin wasn’t the memory failure, the sin was that he made the statement in the first place.

Let’s start with some context: In connection with his belief that there is no peace and honor without victory, John McCain told the moving story of the moment Matthew Stanley’s mother gave McCain Matthew’s bracelet and asked him to wear it and, more importantly, to honor and give meaning to Matthew’s death by making the Iraq War an American defeat, not an American victory.

Obama, had he wanted to, could have scored some substantive points by immediately saying that we don’t honor one man’s death by creating more dead, or some such argument. That seemed to be where he was heading, but I tuned out because I was so overwhelmed by his actual response: “I’ve got a bracelet too.”

What is this? Kindergarten? Could anything show more clearly what a selfish, self-centered, shallow man Obama is? McCain is talking about real people, and he’s talking about how the beliefs he shares with those real people drive him to his understanding that, both for the good of the nation and for the honor of her troops, America must leave Iraq as a strong, viable nation. It breaks faith with both America and her troops to slink away as Obama so wants to do. This is a deep substantive argument. The bracelet wasn’t the central point. It was simply a human-interest lead-in to that point.

And what does Obama say? “I’ve got a bracelet too.” What that means, translated, is “I can’t think of an original argument, I don’t have a deep emotional story, I don’t have sound policy justifications for abandoning Iraq now that we’re trembling on the verge of actual and complete success but, ‘Nyah, nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah — I’ve got a bracelet too.’” The attitude and ignorance behind the statement was appalling.

If this was just one example, it would be bad enough, but we’ve seen this before. When Hillary, the darling of huge chunks of American women, self-deprecatingly (and rather charmingly) acknowledges that she grates on some people, Obama snaps back with the condescending “You’re likable enough.” If I’d been Hillary, I would have marched across the stage and bitten him. So, I suspect, would all of her female followers.

And then when Palin comes on the scene, this man of Indonesia, Hawaii and Chicago suddenly discovers his inner Southerner and, when speaking of Republican policies, comes out with an old Southern expression: “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” At that moment, the remaining chunk of American women who aren’t Obama acolytes lunged for their TV screens, teeth bared.

The MSM, no doubt recognizing how damaging this statement, is going to downplay “I’ve got a bracelet too” in the hope that it doesn’t enter the pantheon of memorable moments in debate history. It’s therefore our responsibility to make sure that this telling moment into Obama’s character does not vanish into the abyss.

(Cross-posted at Right Wing News.)

Barack Obama — natural born follower

In the “I wish I’d said that” department is this truly excellent post from Power Line, pointing out that this crisis (a) establishes that McCain, not Obama, is a leader and (b) that the Democrats cannot possibly be telling the truth when they try to blame McCain for the House’s inability to reach an agreement.  Indeed, I like the latter point so much, I’ll quote it here, although I really think you should read the whole post:

Hoping to cover for their “follower” of a presidential candidate, Democrats are claiming that McCain has done more harm than good in the legislative debate. Although this is always a possibility with McCain (and, indeed, just about anyone who is willing to lead), the Democrats’ case is absurd.

Their argument is that Congress was on the verge of a deal until McCain entered the picture and caused Republican House members to block it. The problems with this script are several. First, there is no evidence that House Republicans were ever on board with any deal. Second, the support of House Republicans is not needed to pass bailout legislation. The Democrats control the House.

The Democrats counter the second point by saying that a majority of House Dems won’t support a deal unless House Republicans provide “cover.” But this argument raises more questions than it answers. First, it is a serious condemnation of House Dems (too gutless to do what they think is right, even in the face of a potential economic meltdown). Second it is a serious condemnation of Nancy Pelosi (too ineffective to whip her troops into line even in the face of a potential economic meltdown). Third, it casts serious doubt on the wisdom of the deal that McCain is falsely accused of scuttling. If the deal made sense, House Dems wouldn’t believe they need “cover” from House Republicans.

Fourth, the “cover” argument shows what a non-factor Obama is in all of this. The Dems complain (preposterously) that McCain has riled up House Republicans or failed to bring them around. Meanwhile, no one seems to be asking why Obama hasn’t helped the House leadership obtain sufficient support from House Dems.

It’s all their fault

I’m no Sondheim fan, but he did get the psychology of blame down well in a song from Into The Woods that has the constant refrain “It’s all your/his/her fault.”  It’s human to assign blame.

Sometimes, though, assigning blame is easy, and with the current economic crisis, history shows us that the largest part of the blame lies with the Democrats, who acted en masse to block the type of reform McCain was urging.

First, here’s what McCain, back in May 2006, predicted would happen without oversight to control the Raines and Johnsons in charge (emphasis mine):

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.

He had some crystal ball there, that John McCain, because it played out precisely as he feared it would.

And why was nothing done?  Well, a Bloomberg op-ed piece says that, despite the fact that the Democrats didn’t control Congress, it was still their monolothic voting block that destroyed any possibility of reform (h/t Gerry Charlotte Phelps).  First, here’s what happened:

The economic history books will describe this episode in simple and understandable terms: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exploded, and many bystanders were injured in the blast, some fatally.

Fannie and Freddie did this by becoming a key enabler of the mortgage crisis. They fueled Wall Street’s efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools. In addition, they held an enormous portfolio of mortgages themselves.

In the times that Fannie and Freddie couldn’t make the market, they became the market. Over the years, it added up to an enormous obligation. As of last June, Fannie alone owned or guaranteed more than $388 billion in high-risk mortgage investments. Their large presence created an environment within which even mortgage-backed securities assembled by others could find a ready home.

The problem was that the trillions of dollars in play were only low-risk investments if real estate prices continued to rise. Once they began to fall, the entire house of cards came down with them.

In other words, precisely as McCain said, Fannie and Freddie got too big and without any oversight at all.  Also, in keeping with Democratically driven policies, F&F were giving loans to every Tom, Dick and Harry, so that all Americans, without effort, could own homes.

As for the attempt to reform matters, there is no doubt that the Democrats drove that train (emphasis mine):

What happened next was extraordinary. For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets.

If that bill had become law, then the world today would be different. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, a blizzard of terrible mortgage paper fluttered out of the Fannie and Freddie clouds, burying many of our oldest and most venerable institutions. Without their checkbooks keeping the market liquid and buying up excess supply, the market would likely have not existed.

But the bill didn’t become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn’t even get the Senate to vote on the matter.

That such a reckless political stand could have been taken by the Democrats was obscene even then. Wallison wrote at the time: “It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit. The Democrats and the few Republicans who oppose portfolio limitations could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing.”

Ironically enough, this whole scandal created the Democratic dream:  the government, in true socialist fashion, is now the vehicle for providing Americans with home ownership.  First, change the laws so that financial institutions start giving out ridiculous loans to obviously inappropriate borrowers.  Second, put your high level operatives in charge of the lender, and allow them to rape the system.  Third, resist any efforts to reform the system.  Fourth, when the system implodes, have the government buy every single piece of bad debt in the nation.  Voila — instant socialism, with massive government ownership of property.

Leadership

As I said yesterday, I don’t believe McCain was grandstanding when he decided to stop campaigning for a couple of days in order to help resolve America’s current financial problem.  To me, it was a “country first” thing, with McCain putting the country ahead of his personal ambition.

It turns out that his country does indeed need him.  Paulson begged McCain to help out, because he’s the only truly bipartisan guy out there.  No one begged Obama for this kind of help.

John McCain – Leadership

Barack Obama – Partisanship

John McCain – Country First

Barack Obama – Obama First

John McCain – Serves the people of the US

Barack Obama – His favorite debating opponent is an empty chair

Country first *UPDATED*

I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed as all get out by McCain’s decision to stop campaigning for a while and serve his country during what may be the most significant economic crisis since 1929:

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night’s debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

Because of McCain’s consistent record of service to his country, this does not look like campaign grandstanding.  It looks like the real deal.

And because McCain has consistently sought to debate with Obama — and Obama has always run shy — it also doesn’t look as if McCain is running from the upcoming debate this Friday (which McCain has asked to have postponed).

Speaking of running from debates, this is one debate — the one where he’s standing opposite an empty podium — that Obama doesn’t want to miss.  He has refused McCain’s request that they set aside campaigning for a few days and get down to the business of helping this country through a major financial crisis.

Harry Reid’s statement supporting Obama was predictably stupid:  “Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying the debate should go on because ‘we need leadership, not a campaign photo op.’”  If I understand this correctly, rolling up your sleeves and getting to work on an imminent crisis that needs to be addressed immediately is not leadership, it’s a photo op.  Appearing on a stage for a two hour debate that could just as easily be rescheduled to another day, is leadership, not a photo op.  Bizarro World, my dear readers, Bizarro World.

John McCain — Country First

Barack Obama — Obama First

John McCain — Country First

Barack Obama — Debates Only Without Opponents

John McCain — Country First

Barack Obama — Not Ready to Lead

(BTW, here’s James Taranto with some of the political manuvering that led up to McCain’s surprise move, which had it’s genesis in an Obama initiated effort to force McCain to sign off on a Democratic bill.  Not only did McCain refuse to do so, he also made Obama look incredibly selfish.)

UPDATEConfederate Yankee has a great suggestion for Friday’s debate, if Obama insists on going ahead with it.

The McCain campaign is loaded for bear

This, directly from the McCain campaign, deserves to be reprinted in its entirety:

Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization. Let us be clear about what this story alleges: The New York Times charges that McCain-Palin 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis was paid by Freddie Mac until last month, contrary to previous reporting, as well as statements by this campaign and by Mr. Davis himself.

In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis — weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual — since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.

Further, and missing from the Times‘ reporting, Mr. Davis has never — never — been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.

Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand. The paper did manage to report one interesting but irrelevant fact: Mr. Davis did participate in a roundtable discussion on the political scene with…Paul Begala.

Again, let us be clear: The New York Times — in the absence of any supporting evidence — has insinuated some kind of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and Rick Davis. But entirely missing from the story is any significant mention of Senator McCain’s long advocacy for, and co-sponsorship of legislation to enact, stricter oversight and regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — dating back to 2006. Please see the attached floor statement on this issue by Senator McCain from 2006.

To the central point our campaign has made in the last 48 hours: The New York Times has never published a single investigative piece, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod, his consulting and lobbying clients, and Senator Obama. Likewise, the New York Times never published an investigative report, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson and Senator Obama, who appointed Johnson head of his VP search committee, until the writing was on the wall and Johnson was under fire following reports from actual news organizations that he had received preferential loans from predatory mortgage lender Countrywide.

Therefore this “report” from the New York Times must be evaluated in the context of its intent and purpose. It is a partisan attack falsely labeled as objective news. And its most serious allegations are based entirely on the claims of anonymous sources, a familiar yet regretful tactic for the paper.

We all understand that partisan attacks are part of the political process in this country. The debate that stems from these grand and sometimes unruly conversations is what makes this country so exceptional. Indeed, our nation has a long and proud tradition of news organizations that are ideological and partisan in nature, the Huffington Post and the New York Times being two such publications. We celebrate their contribution to the political fabric of America. But while the Huffington Post is utterly transparent, the New York Times obscures its true intentions — to undermine the candidacy of John McCain and boost the candidacy of Barack Obama — under the cloak of objective journalism.

The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche. It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper’s reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama.

If you go to the link, you can see the floor statement that is referred to above.

Incidentally, Michelle Malkin tends to be snarky about McCain’s finally realizing that the New York Times is a party organ, not a news source.  I’d rather hold fire on this one, perhaps because it took me so long to realize that the Democratic party wasn’t what I thought it was.  I’ll say for McCain what I say for me:  Better late than never.